• CAUTION: SMART TVs ARE “OPENING A NEW WINDOW OF ATTACK FOR CYBERCRIMINALS… as manufacturers are emphasizing convenience over security… with defenses often lagging far behind those of smartphones or desktop computers… generally not even requiring any authentication. As they become more integrated with commerce and people increasingly enter payment card details,” malicious firmware and ransomware are on the rise. Also, anti-virus software is so far non-existent on Smart TVs for both convenience and since performance gets degraded to choppy viewing. Just beware. [PCWORLD – Dec 28, 15]
  • CALIFORNIA CONTINUES TO TIGHTEN RULES ON EMPLOYERS. Starting 2016: (1) State minimum wage for non-exempt workers is $10 per hour; for Los Angeles city workers, the rate increases to $10.50 after July 1; (2) Using E-Verify to check for legal immigration status is now prohibited during candidate interviews, allowed only unless and after employment has been offered; (3) Paying lower wages to opposite sex employees for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort & responsibility performed under similar working conditions” is now prohibited; (4) Exerting rules or policies which prohibit employees from discussing or disclosing wages is now verboten; (5) Violations of any provision regulating minimum wages, hours, workdays, meal & rest periods, expense reimbursements, etc. can now result in personal liability for owners, directors, officers or managing agents. Penalties are substantial. Most employee manuals need updating. [CALIFORNIA CPA – Jan/Feb 16]
  • HUMAN-ANIMAL EMBRYO RESEARCH IS RAPIDLY PROGRESSING in America, predominantly in California with grants from the Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a state agency “set up a decade ago to bypass political interference from Washington… where the effort to incubate organs in animals is ethically charged because it involves… ways that could blur the line between species.” The hybrids are called chimeras, after a Greek mythological creature part lion, goat and snake. The process involves “placing human cells in to an animal embryo which can multiply, specialize and potentially contribute to any part of its body as it develops… with resulting tissue being a kind of perfectly matched replacement part – a custom organ for desperately ill people on organ-waiting lists.” At U.C. Davis, sheep-human embryos have been developed and embryonic pig-organs have been grown in under a month. So far, none have been brought to term, but it’s on the near-horizon. [TECHNOLOGY REVIEW.COM – Jan 6, 16]
  • “THE WORLD ECONOMY IS SO FAR OUT OF KILTER that it takes permanent financial bubbles to keep growth going, an inherently unstable structure. It would be a mistake to dismiss the current financial squall as froth since markets often sense a gathering storm when policy-makers are asleep at the wheel,” according to former U.S. Treasury Sec’y Larry Sanders. RBS has now formally notified clients that “markets are flashing stress alerts akin to the turbulent months before the 2008 crisis… advising to brace for a cataclysmic year, a global deflationary crisis… and to sell everything except high quality bonds.” UBS and Bank of America have also issued client advisories focused on the “risk that this market storm drags on long enough to hit investment, regardless of what the economic data should imply. At the end of the day, market psychology can itself become an economic ‘fundamental’… so the sell-off could become self-fulfilling and quickly metamorphose into the next global crisis… This is about return of capital, not return on capital.”   [THE TELEGRAPH UK – Jan 11, 16]
  • THE ‘OBESITY RATE’ FOR AMERICANS AGED 40 to 60 HAS CLIMBED to 40% (48% for African-Americans) according to a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control survey of 5,000 people; Californians are in the 20 to 25% category. Obesity increases risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, certain cancers, and up to 13.7 years of lifespan. A major cause, even where people have reduced fat consumption & intake, is “replacement with ‘refined carbohydrates’ which are just as bad as a high-fat diet,” and absence of fresh, unprocessed foods.   [LIFE EXTENSION, Feb 16]
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK:  “Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy, it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.  – H. L. Mencken, 1916

      Alan King explained the Middle East muddle 35 years ago, and little has changed: https://youtu.be/gEG6MuzfAl0