A new Cold War with Russia? Ron Paul | @RonPaul CNBC.com Last week the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly in favor of an anti-Russia resolution so full of war propaganda that it rivals the rhetoric from chilliest era of the Cold War. Ironically, much of the bill condemns Russia for doing exactly what the U.S. government has been doing for years in Syria and Ukraine! Sasha Mordovets | Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin.For example, one of the reasons to condemn Russia in the resolution is the claim that Russia is imposing economic sanctions on Ukraine. But how many rounds of sanctions has the U.S. government imposed on Russia for much of the past year? I guess sanctions are only bad when used by countries Washington doesn’t like.Read MorePutin’s worst nightmare may be happening right nowThe resolution condemns Russia for selling weapons to the Assad government in Syria. But the U.S. has been providing weapons to the rebels in Syria for several years, with many going to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS that the U.S. is currently bombing!The resolution condemns what it claims is a Russian invasion of Ukraine (for which it offers no proof) and Russian violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. But it was the U.S., by backing a coup against the democratically elected Yanukovich government in February, that first violated that country’s sovereignty. And as far as a military presence in Ukraine, it is the U.S. that has openly sent in special forces and other military advisors to assist the government there. How many times have top U.S. military and CIA officials visited Kiev to offer advice and probably a lot more?The resolution condemns Russia for what it claims are attempts to „illicitly acquire information” about the U.S. government. But we learned from the Snowden revelations that the NSA is spying on most rest of the world, including our allies! How can the U.S. claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?Read MoreWhy is Putin buying gold?The resolution attacks Russian state-funded media, claiming that they „distort public opinion.” At the same time the bill demands that the thousands of U.S. state-funded media outlets step up their programming to that part of the world! It also seeks „appropriate responses” to Russian media influence in the rest of the world. That should be understood to mean that U.S. diplomats would exert pressure on foreign countries to shut down television networks like RT.The resolution condemns what it claims is Russia’s provision of weapons to the Russian-speaking eastern part of Ukraine, which seeks closer ties with Russia, while demanding that the U.S. government start providing weapons to its proxies on the other side.Adam Jeffery | CNBC Former Rep. Ron Paul As I have said, this is one of the worst pieces of legislation I can remember. And trust me, I have seen some pretty bad bills. It is nothing but war propaganda and it will likely lead to all sorts of unintended consequences. Only 10 members – five from each party – opposed this reckless resolution. Probably most of those who voted in favor did not bother to read the bill. Others who read it and still voted in favor may have calculated that the bill would not come up in the Senate. So they could vote yes and please the hawks in their districts — and more importantly remain in good graces of the hawks who run foreign policy in Washington — without having to worry about the consequences if the bill became law.Read MoreCrumbling oil makes Putin more dangerous: Pro Whatever the case, we must keep an eye on those members of Congress who vote to take us closer to war with Russia. We should thank those 10 members who were able to resist the war propaganda. The hawks in Washington believe that last month’s election gave them free rein to start more wars. Now more than ever they must be challenged!Commentary by Ron Paul, a 12-term member of Congress and a three-time U.S. presidential candidate. He is currently chairman of theRon Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Follow him on Twitter@RonPaul.
‘Day of Silence’ aims to rebuild Ukraine truce but talks in doubt By Richard Balmforth10 hours agoAn internally displaced person (IDP) from eastern Ukraine walks with bags outside a volunteer centre …By Richard Balmforth KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine plans a „Day of Silence” on Tuesday to try to rebuild a ceasefire with pro-Russian separatists that has all but disintegrated, but accompanying peace talks — the first in three months — look likely to be delayed.On the eve of the planned resumption of negotiations to end months of fighting between the rebels and Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine, authorities in the Belarussian capital Minsk, where they were due to be held, said they had not been told whether the Ukrainians would attend.In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin’s top foreign policy adviser said the talks, which Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had said were penciled in for Tuesday, should take place in Minsk „this week”.They would be the first since a 12-point ceasefire plan was worked out there in early September under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to try to end the worst crisis between the West and Russia since the Cold War.That ceasefire has been continually flouted, with hundreds of civilians, separatists and Ukrainian troops killed and allegations from Kiev that Moscow had failed to pull out Russian fighters and military equipment supporting the separatists.While Putin’s adviser Yuri Ushakov said Russia would do everything it could to enable the talks to go ahead this week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk urged Moscow to fulfil its obligations under the September deal.”If Russia continues its aggressive policy towards Ukraine and the whole world, it will have to continue paying the price,” Yatseniuk was quoted as saying by his news service, referring to Western sanctions against Russia.Despite this, Russia was expected on Thursday to resume some deliveries of natural gas to the former Soviet republic halted six months ago in a row over prices and debts, complicated by the war in the east, after Kiev approved an upfront payment.Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said the two sides had reached a „preliminary agreement” to cease fire in a „Day of Silence” on Tuesday. „We shall see if it is going to be honored,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.MUTUAL ACCUSATIONS But Moscow, Kiev and the West continued to trade accusations over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for the separatists in a conflict that has killed more than 4,300 people.In Moscow, a senior Russian diplomat accused the United States of trying to bring down Putin by sanctions and bring about „regime change”.”It is hardly a secret that the goal of the sanctions is to create social and economic conditions to carry out a change of power in Russia,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told a hearing in the lower house. „There will be no easy or fast way out of this.”In Kiev, visiting Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, whose NATO country has donated non-lethal military aid and winter clothing to Ukraine’s pro-Western government and military, said: „We have to continue to maintain the pressure on Russia so they start to comply with international law. They should discontinue their actions and make amends to Ukraine.”German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it might take a lot longer than previously envisaged to reach a diplomatic solution. „We’re going to need more patience than we first imagined,” she told ARD television.Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko, announcing that another Ukrainian soldier had been killed in the past 24 hours in clashes, said: „We hope that these talks (in Minsk) will give the enemy the chance (to stop firing) and give the OSCE the opportunity of drawing conclusions and determining who is violating the ceasefire.”Much has changed in the east since the last round of talks in Minsk of the „contact group” which normally brings together a former Ukrainian President, Moscow’s ambassador to Kiev, an OSCE representative and separatist leaders.Since September, the separatists have declared „people’s republics” and elected officials. On the battlefield, separatist assaults have continued on the main international airport in the main city of Donetsk to wrest control from government forces.The rebellion has destroyed infrastructure in Ukraine’s east, wrecked the economy and eaten away at its foreign currency reserves which are at a 10-year low.Now that Kiev has finally formed a government, a mission from the International Monetary Fund, one of Ukraine’s biggest lenders, is due to visit Kiev from Tuesday to discuss economic reforms that could unlock further credits under a $17 billion bail-out.(Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova and Maria Kiselyova in Moscow, and Pavel Polityuk and Alessandra Prentice in Kiev; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
Syria, allies condemn Israeli airstrikes By ZEINA KARAM10 hours ago BEIRUT (AP) — Russia on Monday demanded an explanation for Israeli airstrikes on two areas near Damascus, while the Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers called it an act of aggression that proves Israel is „in the same trench” with extremist groups fighting the Syrian government.Related Stories
Israeli warplanes struck near Damascus’ international airport on Sunday, as well as outside a town close to the Lebanese border.The attacks are unlikely to have a big impact. Israel has already struck inside Syria on several occasions in the course of the country’s chaotic civil war, including a series of airstrikes near Damascus in May 2013. Those strikes, according to Israeli officials, targeted shipments of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles bound for the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group.Syria’s reaction has been relatively mute; in previous cases, Damascus has vowed to retaliate without actually doing so.The Syrian government said Sunday’s attacks caused only material damage. Israel has not confirmed the strikes, which Syrian activists said had hit weapons depots.Appearing on Israel Radio on Monday, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz would neither confirm nor deny the news.Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem ar …”We have a very potent defense policy that is oriented toward safeguarding the country and wherever possible preventing the upgrading of weaponry that gives terrorist organizations game-changers or unusually sophisticated means of attack,” he said.Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem claimed Israel was trying to compensate for losses incurred by Islamic extremist groups in Syria at the hands of the Syrian army. He did not elaborate.He spoke Monday at a joint news conference in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.Since Syria’s conflict began in March 2011, Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria that have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, believed to be destined for Hezbollah.Although Israel has never confirmed any airstrikes in Syria, it has laid out „red lines” that define various types of weapons it says Hezbollah cannot be allowed to acquire, including sophisticated guided missiles, anti-aircraft systems and missiles that can strike Israeli naval targets.Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, speaks in a joint press conference with his Sy …Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Moscow „is deeply concerned about this dangerous development which requires a detailed investigation.”In a statement, he said that the use of force is „unacceptable in international relations and deserves an outright condemnation.”Russia, along with Iran, is the Syrian government’s chief international ally, and has been trying to convene a dialogue among the warring parties in Moscow.Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who visited Lebanon last week, said his country is trying to arrange a meeting between Syria’s warring sides without preconditions. He then flew to Turkey to meet with the head of Syria’s Western-backed opposition group, Hadi Bahra.Al-Moallem said that Syria, along with Russia and Iran, is working on a political solution for the conflict „based on dialogue between Syrians and without any outside intervention.”In Turkey, the U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met with armed and civilian representatives of the Syrian opposition. Spokeswoman Juliette Touma said the meetings in Gaziantep were part of efforts to freeze hostilities in the northern city of Aleppo.De Mistura has proposed local cease-fires starting with Aleppo as a building block for a wider solution to the Syrian war.___AP writers Peter Enav and Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.
RADU SIGHETI / REUTERS A change Romania can believe in Klaus Iohannis’ election stirs hope for deeper European integration December 8, 2014 11:30AM ET by Paul HockenosRomania’s path to democracy has been profoundly troubled since the spectacular Christmas revolution of 1989, which overthrew Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship. The country’s recovery from the trauma of communism has been halting, bogged down by graft and self-serving elites. This is why the election as president last month of Klaus Iohannis, who made his name fighting corruption as a small-city mayor, is a magnificent present for the country on the revolution’s 25th anniversary.If Iohannis lives up to his potential, Romania could well be the next Central European success story. This would have been impossible to imagine were Romania not firmly embedded in Western Europe’s structures. Romanians don’t have to look far to their east to see the fates of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova — all in limbo between East and West, unstable, poverty-stricken and easy prey for Russian President Vladimir Putin. This could have been Romania’s story too, had it not entered the EU in 2007. (At the time, many observers criticized the EU for allowing Romania to join the union, given the country’s entrenched rule-of-law deficiencies.)Iohannis, 55, is an unlikely leader for Romania for several reasons. First, he’s an ethnic German Protestant from Transylvania, a historic region stretching from central Romania to the Hungarian border where Iohannis’ forefathers made their home some 850 years ago. (Romanian is his first language, although his antiquated German is serviceable.) After the revolution, almost all of Romania’s 800,000 ethnic Germans saw better prospects in Germany, leaving behind only about 36,000 Romanian Germans, including Iohannis. His parents and two sisters moved to Germany, but Iohannis stayed on to help change his troubled country.Second, Romanians have never voted a non–ethnic Romanian into the highest office before. During the campaign, Iohannis’ rival candidate, the current Prime Minster Victor Ponta, tried to use the ethnic card, regularly referring to “true Romanians” and flaunting his support from the Romanian Orthodox Church, a bastion of conservatism and a powerful player in Romanian politics. A non–ethnic Romanian becoming president in Romania was as unthinkable as an African-American becoming the president of the United States before seven years ago.Last, as with other authoritarian leaders in the region (for example, Hungary’s Victor Orban), Ponta built up a vast network of clients loyal to his party, the Social Democratic Party, which has been in power for most of the postcommunist era. German political scientist Florian Bieber calls this phenomenon the “authoritarian temptation.” In countries across southeastern Europe, Bieber argues, the vestiges of democracy such as periodic elections and multiparty systems exist, but corrupt, populist governments and their parties control the state and media through patronage.In other words, Ponta had everything going for him. But ordinary Romanians voted to do away with business as usual. Romanians were so fed up with the status quo and nationalist crowing that they turned out in numbers more than double those of the 2009 election (a 62 percent voter turnout, the highest since 1996) to elect Iohannis.The EU and Germany would do well to help Iohannis enact the reforms that Romanians voted for. Iohannis’ election bodes well for Romania. For one, it is a sign of waning fervent nationalism, which has colored Romanian politics since 1989 and led to troubling relations not only with Roma, gays and lesbians and other minorities but also sporadically with Romania’s neighbors Hungary and Moldova. This Romania-first chauvinism dates back to the interwar years, when a young Romanian state, twice as large as its pre–World War I incarnation, wrestled with its new territories and ethnically diverse population.Similarly, under Ceausescu, Romania leaned heavily on nationalism to shore up its legitimacy. Ceausescu’s communism was bombastic, outstripping that of every other communist country (save, perhaps, Albania). It set ethnic Romanians against minorities, including 1.6 million ethnic Hungarians, roughly 2 million Roma, ethnic Germans and other groups. This authoritarian chauvinism was amplified in the 1990s and 2000s, sometimes reaching fever pitch, courtesy of populist rabble-rousers.In a nation beset by persistent cronyism, Iohannis’ foremost selling point has been his anti-corruption credentials. Romania’s graft was so rampant that in 2007 the EU had to relax its accession criteria to let Bucharest into the union. The idea was to have Romania (and Bulgaria) join — and then enact economic and political reforms within EU structures. But the EU had little leverage to make Bucharest comply with its norms. Romania experts such as Tom Gallagher argued that the EU had been suckered by Ceausescu’s heirs and in the process severely compromised its principles.Meanwhile, as mayor of Sibiu in central Romania for the last 14 years, Iohannis stamped out corruption, turning the historic town into a magnet for business and tourism and a thriving example of what good governance can do for Romania. Sibiu attracted private investment as well as EU funds to repair its infrastructure.During the campaign, Iohannis challenged Ponta to reject a draft law on amnesty and pardons, which many observers said would set back the work of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate. The agency in recent years prosecuted several former Romanian politicians, including a former prime minister, for corruption. Iohannis also took aim at the immunity of Romanian MPs, calling for their investigation and prosecution while in office. His clear anti-graft stances resonated with voters.Romania’s future Iohannis wants to bring Romania’s democracy up to scratch with other standouts in Central Europe. He is pledging to relax centralization — one of many hangovers from the communist past — by granting regions such as Transylvania more autonomy. He is calling for fully reforming the judiciary, education and health sectors. To be sure, Iohannis is not a lawmaker and will have to work closely with Ponta’s government, at least until the next elections in 2016.He has much catching up to do. Jobs must be created so that Romanians need not go abroad to work, as millions have since the early 1990s. The rights and welfare of the Roma are one of the toughest nuts they have to crack. And Romanians must come to grips with the less savory elements of their past, including the country’s persecution of Jews and other minorities during World War II, and end the lionization of historic nationalists, including Ion Antonescu, Romania’s wartime leader and an unabashed anti-Semite. Romania and its neighbors on the EU’s eastern fringe are now at the front line of the new East-West conflict, bordering countries burdened with frozen conflicts and even civil war. It is important that Romania and the others project a face worthy of the EU to countries such as Moldova, which could gravitate to the EU or easily fall into Putin’s lap. It’s even more important that these nations not succumb to authoritarian temptation, as Hungary did, furthering complicating the turmoil in Eastern Europe. Nor should they go overboard in exaggerating the threat of Putin’s Russia, as others do.One thing is certain: 25 years after the Christmas revolution, Romania has taken a promising step in the right direction. The EU and Germany would do well to help Iohannis enact the reforms that Romanians voted for. Iohannis cannot work miracles, but he is well positioned to bring Romania into the European fold in more than just name.Paul Hockenos is a journalist living in Berlin. He has covered the transformations of the EU for over 25 years.
EU, Turkey need greater alignment to face Islamic State: Mogherini By Jonny Hogg and Tulay Karadeniz8 hours agoEuropean Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini attends …By Jonny Hogg and Tulay Karadeniz Related Stories
ANKARA (Reuters) – The European Union and Turkey have drifted apart on foreign policy and need greater „alignment” to tackle threats including Islamic State, the EU’s foreign policy chief said on Monday.Speaking during one of the highest-ranking EU visits to Turkey in years, Federica Mogherini said the EU candidate nation had signed up to less than a third of the bloc’s recent foreign policy positions, compared to some 80 percent in the past.”We need to improve on the alignment on foreign policy and security policy, it’s never been so low and this is a problem for the European Union, but it is mainly a problem for Turkey,” she told a news conference in the Turkish capital.Turkey has been negotiating to join the EU since 2005, but political obstacles, notably over the divided island of Cyprus, and resistance to Turkish membership from some EU countries have slowed progress.The visit by Mogherini, Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides is aimed at giving new impetus to the relationship, including urging closer cooperation against Islamic State and pressing Ankara not to undermine EU sanctions on Russia.It comes a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Turkey, during which Moscow announced it was scrapping the South Stream gas pipeline project and named Turkey as its preferred partner for an alternative.Mogherini said the EU would not be drawn into a battle with Russia for influence over Turkey.”It would be good if in the future we create more areas for cooperation rather than competition (with Russia) but Turkey is definitely out of this game, if there is a game in this sense,” she said.Mogherini said earlier that European member states needed to work closely with international partners such as Turkey to stop foreign fighters traveling to the Middle East and joining radical Islamist groups.Thousands of EU citizens are thought to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join radical groups including Islamic State, many transiting through Turkey, which has faced criticism for failing to control its 1,200-km (750-mile) border with the two.Officials in Ankara have in turn accused European nations of doing too little to stop would-be jihadists at source, while expecting Turkey to pick up the slack. A Turkish official said some 1,150 people had already been intercepted and sent back.(Editing by Nick Tattersall and Andrew Roche)
America’s least educated cities, 2014 By Thomas C. Frohlich9 hours agoThe pursuit of higher education is more common in America today than in previous generations. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 41% of Americans aged 18 to 24 were enrolled in a two- or four-year degree-granting institution, far more than the 25.5% enrolled in 1967.As of last year, nearly 30% of all American adults 25 and older had attained at least a bachelor’s degree. Yet, in some cities, a far higher percentage of residents are college-educated. Boulder, Colorado, led the nation last year with 58.5% of adults having attained at least a bachelor’s degree, while the Lake Havasu City, Arizona, metro area had the lowest percentage of college-educated adults, at just 11.3%.According to Pedro Noguera, professor of education at New York University, a combination of related factors affect the likelihood college-educated adults will move to or stay in a particular city. In fact, an area’s college attainment rate is itself a major factor contributing to whether young people, or businesses, will move to an area.Describing the cities with the lowest education attainment rates, Noguera said, “these cities are stuck in a vicious cycle. Low levels of education make it difficult for them to attract businesses that pay higher wages.” This results in, among other things, “young people moving away from the area as soon as they graduate from high school.”Yahoo Homes is publishing America’s five least educated cities here. To see the rest of the 10 least educated cities, visit 247WallSt.com:As one might expect, cities with the lowest college attainment rates also tend to have lower median household incomes. Household incomes in most of these cities were far lower than the national median of $52,250 in 2013. The median household income in four of the least educated cities was less than $40,000. The one exception was the Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, metro area, where a typical household brought in $54,070, despite its low percentage of college-educated adults.Individual earnings also vary dramatically according to a person’s level of education. While a typical American adult with less than a high school diploma earned slightly more than $20,000 in 2013, a typical person with a bachelor’s degree earned more than $50,000.Noguera also pointed to other factors that help shape the relationship between education and income. “One factor influencing the relationship is the local economy and the types of jobs that are available. In the most prosperous cities — New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston — high-wage jobs are in the financial and high-tech sectors.”According to a 2013 report from the Milken Institute, five of the 10 most educated metro areas had among the absolute highest shares of output from the technology sector in the nation. In fact, Corvallis, Oregon, had a greater high-tech GDP concentration than any other small city identified by the Milken Institute. Conversely, the areas with the lowest levels of educational attainment had among the lowest percentages of people working in these industries.Many of the least educated cities, according to Noguera, have historically been dependent on agriculture and mining. Just 2% of the nation’s employment was in the agriculture, forestry, and mining industries as of last year. Yet, among many of the least educated cities, these sectors accounted for a far greater share of employment. For instance, the Madera, California, metro area led the nation with 23% of its workforce employed in these industries.To identify the least educated cities in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed U.S. metropolitan areas with the lowest percentage of adults 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013. Educational attainment rates, median earnings by level of education, household median income, population estimates, and poverty data all came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. Unemployment rates came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are annual averages for 2013.These are America’s least educated cities:Hanover clock, photographed by Michael Martin, Flickr.Hanford in the 1950s.5. HANFORD-CORCORAN, CALIFORNIA Bachelor’s degree or higher: 12.9% (tied-4th lowest) Median household income: $45,774 (144th lowest) Median earnings – bachelor’s degree: $46,719 (138th highest)Poverty rate: 21.4% (47th highest)Less than 13% of adults living in the Hanford metro area had attained at least a bachelor’s degree, way below the national rate of 29.6%. Similar to several of the areas with low levels of education, and particularly those in California, more than 17% of Hanford’s workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, and mining industries. This was a higher percentage than all but four other metro areas. More than 21% of area residents earned incomes below the national poverty line last year, among the higher rates nationwide. Less than 4% of area adults had graduate degrees — nearly the lowest percentage — but these residents reported median earnings of nearly $69,500, higher than the median for similarly educated Americans in 2013.Downtown Farmington, photographed by Amanda Quintana-Bowles, Flickr.Incoming thunderstorm over Farmington, photographed by Lance and Erin, Flickr.4. FARMINGTON, NEW MEXICO
Bachelor’s degree or higher:
12.9% (tied-4th lowest)
Median household income:
$43,787 (103rd lowest)
Median earnings – bachelor’s degree:
$40,503 (72nd lowest)
22.7% (27th highest)
College-educated Farmington area residents had median earnings of $40,503, considerably above the less-educated adults in the area, but nearly $10,000 below the median earnings for their peers nationwide. Wages may be expected to grow in the near future, as the San Juan Basin — located less than two hours from Farmington — is a major source of New Mexico’s budding oil boom. More than one in 10 members of the area’s workforce were employed in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries — which includes the energy sector. In the meantime, however, residents struggle with poverty and low incomes, with nearly 23% of people living in poverty last year, one of the highest rates nationwide.
Bachelor’s degree or higher:
Median household income:
$43,310 (91st lowest)
Median earnings – bachelor’s degree:
$52,546 (38th highest)
22.1% (34th highest)
Poverty is relatively common in the El Centro metro area. Last year, more than 22% of El Centro residents had incomes below the poverty level, one of the higher rates nationwide. Just 12.7% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree. Despite the low rate, an education clearly pays off in the city. Median earnings among residents without a high school diploma were remarkably low, at just $13,259. A typical adult with a bachelor’s degree, however, earned $52,546, higher than national median for similarly educated Americans. Last year, more than 18% of El Centro’s population were non-citizens, the third highest percentage nationwide. Less than 8% of El Centro’s foreign-born, non-native population had a college degree last year.
2. DALTON, GEORGIA Bachelor’s degree or higher:12.2%
Median household income:
$37,659 (17th lowest)
Median earnings – bachelor’s degree:
$42,293 (149th lowest)
21.8% (38th highest)
The labor market in Dalton may demand qualifications many college graduates do not possess. More than 35% of the area’s workforce was employed in manufacturing last year, second only to the Columbus, Indiana, metro area. Many of these workers were likely employed by floor covering manufacturers, as Dalton is known as the carpet capital of the world. Like many other U.S. manufacturing centers, however, Dalton’s economy was hammered by the Great Recession. While pursuing higher education is a good investment in most of the country, college-educated Dalton residents received relatively low wages last year. Adults with graduate degrees made up just 5.4% of the population — one of the lower percentages — and had median earnings of less than $51,000, compared to over $65,000 nationwide.Lake Havasu City, photographed by Cathy, Flickr.Lake Havasu, photographed by Colin Haycock, Flickr.
1. LAKE HAVASU CITY-KINGMAN, ARIZONA Bachelor’s degree or higher: 11.3%Median household income:
$39,058 (26th lowest)
Median earnings – bachelor’s degree:
$37,452 (41st lowest)
21.2% (52nd highest)
Just 11.3% of adults living in the Lake Havasu metro area had attained at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, a lower percentage than in every other U.S. metro area. Regardless of level of education, area residents earned relatively low incomes. A typical resident with a bachelor’s degree, for example, earned $37,452 last year, one of the lower median earnings among college-educated adults nationwide. With a poverty rate of 21.2% and a median household income of less than $40,000 in 2013, area residents were quite poor. An exceptionally high percentage of Lake Havasu’s workforce was employed in the entertainment and accommodations industry, at more than 21% last year, more than all but four other metro areas.
Clint Eastwood: ‘I Was Against Going Into the War in Iraq’Clint Eastwood revealed after screening his new film American Sniper on Saturday at the Academy of Motion Picture Artists and Sciences’ Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.”I had a big question when we went into Afghanistan,” he also said, explaining, „Did anybody ever study the history of Afghanistan, not only with the British, but the Russians? There was a Russian general namedVivikov, who was the commander for 10 years there, and I thought, ‘Did anybody ever…?’ So I called a friend of mine who was over there for many years and knew this general. I said, ‘Did anybody from our government ever go and research it like you would a movie? You know, can we film here?’ And they said, ‘No, they never did.’ Vivikov is deceased now, but at the time I thought, ‘Wouldn’t a logical person go out and do a little research and say, ‘How would you do this, Mr. Vivikov? What did you do wrong? And what are we doing wrong? Give us at least a hint.’ Related: Oscars: What Happens When a Polar Vortex Hits Your Shoot? Plus 7 More Tales of the Unexpected Sniper, which Warners will open in limited release Christmas day, profiles Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), a Navy SEAL who was the most effective American sniper during the Iraq War. It is already provoking considerable debate, with some asserting that the movie — and particularly the shocking way it ends — serves as a cautionary tale about the perils of war. But others have suggested that it is the politically conservative Eastwood ‘s attempt to glorify and defend the Iraq War that was initiated by fellow Republican George W. Bush. The 84-year-old filmmaker — who could become the oldest person, by five years, ever to land a best director Oscar nom — is usually a man of few words, but he took the issue head-on, embarking on a passionate soliloquy, of sorts as he spoke about his own experience of war during a Q&A I conducted with him in front of hundreds of Oscar voters.”Sometimes the arrogance of wanting just to burst into war and not really researching the value of it and the tragic ending its gonna be for so many people …” Eastwood trailed off, before continuing, „Sometimes it’s inevitable. I grew up during World War II. I was 11 years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I was, at that age, very fascinated by everything, and everything was very patriotic — but that was going to be the war to end all wars! Well, [a few] years later, I’m standing at the draft board, with the Korean War going, and I’m standing there naked, and people are asking me to cough. I’m thinking, ‘What the hell?’ (Ed. note: Eastwood was drafted into the Army in the early 1950s). I thought that was the war that was going to end all wars.’ And then, pretty soon, we’re in Vietnam. And so, at some point, you start saying ‘It’s fun to talk about [war]. It’s fun to talk about the emotions of it, getting in. And in Letters From Iwo Jima, it was fun to explore how it felt from the other side as well. But, by the same token, there are other stories that maybe [society should] tell that aren’t as tragic about life.”During the Q&A, Eastwood also spoke about how he has treated violence in his films. While Eastwood famously carried a gun and killed people in many of his early movies, he also has featured violence in his films to send an anti-violence message. Part of what made Unforgiven, his 1992 film that won the best picture Oscar, so powerful was that the character he plays in that movie says of killing a man: “It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.” When a much younger man says, “Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming,” he replies, “We all got it coming, kid.”Said the four-time Oscar winner, “Contrary to public opinion, I abhor violence.”Watch the trailer for American Sniper below:„I was against going into the war in Iraq since I figured we would probably trip over ourselves in some way,”
How Utah landed fast-rising NBA prospect Jakob Poeltl By Jeff Eisenberg8 hours agoWichita State guard Fred VanVleet (23) shoots as Utah forward Jakob Poeltl (42) defends in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)When Utah assistant Andy Hill sat down to watch Austria face the Netherlands on the first day of the 2013 U-18 European Championships, he wasn’t optimistic it would be time well spent.Neither country had much history of producing elite prospects, nor did they have any players familiar to Hill. The only reason he didn’t skip the game and spend the afternoon sightseeing in Macedonia was to fulfill his vow of scouting all 38 teams in the tournament in person.Hill’s diligence proved more beneficial than he expected when he spotted a big man worthy of his attention. Jakob Poeltl, a largely unknown Austrian center, yanked down 15 rebounds and showcased impressive speed and skill for a 7 footer, sending Hill scrambling to see if he had any interest in playing college basketball in the United States.”Sometimes you watch a kid and it’s a complete no brainer you want him,” Hill said. „I would say he was one of those kids. Right away, he stood out. He was rebounding everything, he played with great energy and his attitude was outstanding. His team struggled, but Jakob never got down on his teammates. It was impressive to me that a kid so talented would treat everyone with great respect.”Forging a relationship with Poeltl before other college programs discovered him was a huge coup for Utah because the big man from Vienna is every bit as good as Hill predicted. Poeltl has unseated fellow 7 footer Dallin Bachynski as Utah’s starting center, spearheaded the Utes’ ascension to 13th in the AP Top 25 and emerged as one of the fastest-rising prospects on NBA draft boards.What has been most impressive about Poeltl in his first seven college games are his shot-blocking instincts, aggression on the glass and touch around the rim. He has made a seamless transition to college basketball, sinking nearly three-quarters of his shots, posting three double-doubles and averaging 12.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks.”I tried to come here with no expectations, so I’m a little surprised how well I’ve done,” Poeltl said. „I was very nervous before I got here. I was coming to a new country, I knew nothing about Utah except what I’d seen on my visit and I didn’t know a whole lot about college basketball. But my teammates have helped me a lot and I got used to everything pretty quickly. I’m feeling comfortable now.”Poeltl’s impressive opening month has rocketed him to 20th on DraftExpress.com’s list of the top 100 pro prospects and has captured the attention of NBA scouts. One scout said he liked what he’d seen of Poeltl on film so far and had already booked a trip to Salt Lake City next month to evaluate him in person. Another viewed Poeltl as a potential NBA center if he gets stronger and diversifies his offensive game.”He is still young and needs to develop his body a lot, but he is very fluid and smooth for a 7 footer,” the second scout said. „He is still raw in his all-around game but he has a chance.”Utah guard Brandon Taylor, right, celebrates with forward Jakob Poeltl. (AP)Poeltl owes his excellent genetics and passion for sports to his parents, both of whom were volleyball standouts. There was no youth volleyball available to Poeltl near his family’s Vienna home, however, so his parents sent him to a basketball program around the corner instead.When Poeltl began playing for the U-16 Vienna Timberwolves at age 14, he was most comfortable in a complementary role. Over the next few years, he grew more than eight inches, developed a low-post and mid-range game and became more confident in himself.”The most important area of improvement was in his approach,” Timberwolves coach Hubert Schmidt said. „As he was a late bloomer physically, he was not really dominating when he was 14. We encouraged him to recognize how good he could become, to start to play more aggressively and to attract a bigger role. You can see now that he doesn’t shy away from taking responsibility at all.”Never was that transformation more obvious than when Hill watched Poeltl for the first time in Macedonia 17 months ago. Poeltl averaged 15.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks, earning second-team all-tournament honors even though undermanned Austria only won 1 of 7 games and finished 20th out of 22 teams in the second-tier B Division.Word of Poeltl’s performance spread quickly in basketball circles, drumming up interest from a handful of Division I programs and forcing him to decide whether he preferred to play professionally in Europe or in college in the United States. That choice actually wasn’t too difficult for Poeltl because he liked that college offered a chance to pursue basketball while also furthering his education as a fall-back option.”If I went pro in Europe, I probably wouldn’t have a chance to go to a university and get my degree,” Poeltl said. „That was a big plus about college. I could have basketball and an education at the same time. Also I think I wasn’t ready for 100 percent professional basketball at that time. College was something in between where there wouldn’t be quite as much pressure on me.”The tougher choice was determining whether Utah was the best option among the colleges that pursued him.Since basketball is an afterthought in soccer-crazed Austria, Poeltl could only watch college or NBA games via unreliable Internet streams in the wee hours of the morning. He and his mom researched Utah and the other schools by studying articles about their rosters and playing style via the Internet, pulling up league standings and rankings and requesting game film from the coaches.”They were so well prepared and they had done their research regarding questions they needed to have answered,” Hill said. „Sometimes Jakob’s mom would even ask questions that she knew the answers to before she asked them. It was kind of a test as to whether or not you were going to tell them the truth.”There were several factors that contributed to Poeltl choosing Utah over Cal and Arizona after visiting all three schools in February. Cal had a great chance to land Poeltl before it hired a coach he had no previous relationship with after Mike Montgomery retired. Arizona also effectively took itself out of the running when it decided it couldn’t wait any longer for Poeltl to decide and accepted a commitment from Serbian 7 footer Dusan Ristic in March.Nonetheless, the biggest reason Poeltl chose Utah was the relationship he had built with the Utes staff.Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak and Davidson’s Bob McKillop were the only two Division I head coaches who spent the time and money to travel more than 5,000 miles to Vienna to get to know Poeltl in person, a decision that underscored how much the Utes wanted the young big man. Krystkowiak met with the entire family on his first trip, had lunch with Poeltl by himself on his second one and watched games on both visits.Poeltl also liked the idea of being coached by a 6-foot-9 former NBA forward with a history of developing young big men. Krystkowiak could not promise Poeltl a starting job since Bachynski and fellow center Jeremy Olsen were returning from last year’s team, but the Austrian 7 footer came away with the impression that the Utah staff would give him a fair chance.”I really liked the coaching staff,” Poeltl said. :They made me feel comfortable and that I wouldn’t get lost. I also really appreciated that [Krystkowiak] came to meet with me in Vienna. I knew they really wanted me and also needed me out here because of that.”Eight months after he committed to Utah, Poeltl couldn’t be happier with his decision.He has earned the trust of the coaching staff, logging 35 or more minutes in Utah’s two biggest games of the season so far — a four-point loss at San Diego State and an overtime win against Wichita State. He has also acclimated himself quickly off the floor, forging an especially strong bond with roommates Chris Reyes and Kenneth Ogbe, a German native.Poeltl’s only complaint about Salt Lake City so far? It’s tough to find good schnitzel.Though Poeltl’s early-season play has earned him praise from fans, reporters, and NBA scouts, his coaches say he maintained his usual level-headed demeanor. His focus is solely on helping Utah complete its transformation from a six-win team in Krystkowiak’s debut season four years ago to Pac-12 contender this season.”I want to focus on this season right now and not on what might happen next season,” Poeltl said. „I think when the team does good, that benefits all of us.”
Despite U.S. Warnings, Iraqis Push for Winter Offensive in Mosul CreditAssociated Press MANAMA, Bahrain — Allied warplanes and Iraqi ground troops are increasingly isolating Islamic State militants in the captured city of Mosul, prompting Iraqi officials to push for a winter offensive to wrest control of the area months ahead of the previous schedule — and over American warnings.The ground campaign to retake Iraq’s second-largest city from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, is still most likely many weeks away, American officials said. Its timing will depend on the pace of training for additional Iraqi ground troops to retake the city and for a holding force afterward, as well as sorting out a brewing dispute between Baghdad and Washington over whether Iraq is ready to carry out such a complex urban battle.RELATED COVERAGEDhuluiya Journal: Under ISIS Fire, Love ConquersWorld Briefing: Iraq: Dozens Die in Car BombingsIraqi Government and Kurds Reach Deal to Share Oil RevenuesGraft Hobbles Iraq’s Military in Fighting ISISgraphicHow ISIS WorksvideoStopping Homebound ISIS FightersvideoISIS’ Goals and Tactics WorldwideTimes Topic: Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) The United States and its coalition partners have carried out more than 660 airstrikes in Iraq, making it more difficult for the Islamic State to mass large numbers of forces or to travel in convoys. These attacks, including air raids in the past few days and Iraqi ground operations in the north and west, have made it more difficult for the Islamic State to resupply and reinforce its fighters in Mosul, which ISIS seized in June when it swept in from Syria and made its headquarters in Iraq. Areas Under ISIS ControlA visual guide to the crisis in Iraq and Syria.But there is no indication that the militants have lost their fighting spirit, and there are still thousands of them. At least several hundred fighters are in and around Mosul, according to an American intelligence official.Even if Iraqi forces oust the Islamic State from their territory, the strategy would do nothing to deal with the militant group’s safe haven in Syria. A successful campaign to counter the Islamic State in Iraq might actually exacerbate the situation across the border if militants from Mosul and elsewhere simply return to Syria, where the Obama administration’s plan to train and equip moderate rebels is lagging.Any military campaign to retake Mosul in early 2015 would also push closer a decision by President Obama on whether scores of United States military advisers should leave the relative safety of the command posts in Iraq, where they work now, to join Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the front lines of a challenging urban fight.The United States currently does not plan to advise Iraqi forces below the level of a brigade, which in the Iraqi Army usually has about 2,000 troops. It is also unclear under what circumstances the White House might allow American advisers to accompany Iraqi units onto the battlefield or to call in airstrikes, as Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has indicated might be necessary. Relatively small numbers of American Special Forces, or Green Berets, worked alongside allied Afghan militia units in 2001 to successfully rout the Taliban army, and Qaeda leaders living there as Taliban guests, in the early months of that war.”I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces but we’re certainly considering it,” General Dempsey said at a House hearing last month.American and Iraqi officials had previously confirmed that planning was underway for a broad military campaign to dislodge the Islamic State from Iraq to begin in the spring. But these new indications of an offensive for Mosul early in the year show that pieces of the effort could be underway sooner than previously thought.Allied warplanes and armed drones have carried out more than 30 airstrikes near Mosul in the past two weeks. The strikes have damaged or destroyed enemy bunkers, artillery, combat vehicles and even bulldozers erecting earthen fortifications, and killed several top Islamic State leaders, officials said.”We have to beat ISIS in Mosul,” Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s finance minister and a former foreign minister, said at a security conference here on Friday.Retaking Mosul would likely involve bloody, block-by-block fighting, based on previous urban campaigns in Iraq, like Falluja in 2004, American officials say. Success in Mosul would depend largely on the ability of the new Shiite-led Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to win the cooperation of the local police, many of whom are Sunnis, as well as Kurdish fighters and Sunni tribesmen.”I’ve spent a lot of time in Mosul. It is difficult terrain,” Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, said in October. „So we want to make sure that when we take that on, that we have the adequate capability and we’ve set the conditions right to get things done.”PLAY VIDEO|4:33ISIS’ Dark Oil TradISIS’ Dark Oil TradeHow can ISIS be stopped? Cripple the organization’s oil smuggling trade. Video by Emily B. Hager on Publish DateDecember 1, 2014. Photo by Karim Sahib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.General Austin, a former top allied commander in Iraq, added, „Certainly it will be an important fight and a difficult fight.”USA Today last week reported some elements of a possible accelerated Iraqi offensive.On the heels of a string of military victories, including breaking the siege of an oil refinery in Baiji, and the liberation of Jurf al-Sahkar, southwest of Baghdad, and Jalawla and Sadiya, in Diyala Province, some newly confident Iraqi officials have been pressing the Americans to back a major operation in Mosul sooner than they would like. Iraqi ground troops so far fight like Egyptian girls.Perhaps their respect and adoration of the ISIS religious perspectives might just turn…Joker The Americans, as usual, are putting all sorts of obstacles and strictures and conditions. So, just wait another season while I train some…Jerry Hough Why are Americans not told why the militarys is dubious? The city is nearly two million minus how many have fled. It is the Sunni…SEE ALL COMMENTS WRITE A COMMENTAmong the Iraqis advocating for an offensive soon in Mosul are some officials close to the prime minister, as well as high-level officials in the Ministry of Defense.American officials in Baghdad, however, have stressed that the Iraqi military lacks the necessary combat power and logistical capacity, noting that the initial Iraqi force the United States is now advising will consist of only nine Iraqi brigades and three similar Kurdish pesh merga units, or roughly 24,000 troops. The Iraqi spring offensive had called for at least doubling that force before mounting the assault.Moreover, American officials say there are not enough local Sunni forces to hold the territory in Mosul once it is cleared by the security forces.Instead, the Americans are urging the Iraqis to push forward with a plan to raise National Guard units, which would be composed of local forces. But Parliament has yet to take up a draft bill in the face of opposition from some Shiite leaders, and there is a growing sense that the effort is likely to be stalled for some time.As the Iraqi security forces, along with Kurdish pesh merga units and Shiite militias aligned with Iran, rack up victories, there are growing calls to allow these fighters to move on Sunni-dominated areas such as Mosul and Tikrit. The Americans have opposed such a move because they worry it will deepen sectarian divisions and perhaps set off a Sunni-Shiite civil war.Hadi al-Ameri, an Iraqi lawmaker and the head of the Badr Corps, a Shiite militia with close links to Iran that has been crucial in the recent victories, complained in a recent interview that the United States and its coalition partners „don’t want the people of Iraq to liberate Iraq.”Mosul residents and Iraqi security officials who monitor the city say that the Islamic State has largely failed to provide civilian services like electricity and potable water, angering even residents who cheered the militants’ arrival in June.But few see local residents rising up against the group because of how effectively ISIS has chased out, destroyed or co-opted other armed elements in the city, and especially anyone tied to the government in Baghdad.Many in Mosul still harbor deep distrust of the Iraqi Army and its cooperation with Shiite militias. They say that ISIS has so thoroughly mixed its fighters in with the city’s civilian population that any effort to push them out could lead to a protracted guerrilla campaign that could endanger residents.Tim Arango contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Ben Hubbard from Erbil, Iraq.Photo
Indonesian maid says tortured with vacuum cleaner tube in Hong Kong abuse case 19 hours agoAFP Videos Former maid tells court of ‘torture’ by Hong Kong employersNews Former maid tells court of ‘torture’ by Hong Kong employers Royal visit to New York City HONG KONG (Reuters) – An Indonesian domestic helper told a Hong Kong court on Monday that she had been tortured by her employer, with a vacuum cleaner tube placed in her mouth and twisted to cause lacerations, public broadcaster RTHK said.The landmark trial, featuring pictures of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih’s bruised body, has sparked international outrage at the treatment of maids in the Asian financial center.Former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono denounced her treatment as torture.Sulistyaningsih’s employer, Law Wan-tung, a former beautician, faces 20 charges, including inflicting grievous bodily harm, assault, and criminal intimidation.The public broadcaster said Law appeared calm as she pleaded not guilty to all the charges, except one, of failing to take out an insurance policy for an employee.The domestic helper told the court, through an interpreter, that her employer had slapped, scratched, and punched her.Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih lies in a bed whilst being treated at a hospital …She said her employer had also hit her with hangers, mop handles and a ladder, and she was not paid or allowed enough food or rest, Hong Kong’s public broadcaster RTHK reported.Sulistyaningsih was only allowed to sleep from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and given six pieces of bread and a bowl of rice, she added.While cases of such harsh treatment are rare, Hong Kong’s policies on migrant workers have made maids reluctant to report abuse for fear of losing their livelihoods and being deported.Maids are paid a minimum wage equivalent to about $520, an attractive sum for women fleeing poverty elsewhere in Asia.Hong Kong, a former British territory that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, has about 300,000 foreign domestic helpers, most of them from the Philippines and Indonesia.In April, Time magazine ranked Sulistyaningsih among its 100 Most Influential People, alongside Russian president Vladimir Putin and U.S. singer Beyonce.(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)