June 25th, 2011
Three very dubious amigos
Fox News Latino
By Adrian Carrasquillo
Hugo Chávez extended stay in a Cuban hospital is because he is in critical condition, according to a report in El Nuevo Herald.
The Venezuelan president, who was last seen in public June 9 and last heard from on June 12, on a phone call with Venezuelan state television, was said to have been treated for a pelvic abscess in Cuba.
During the call Chávez said that medical tests showed no sign of any "malignant" illness.
June 25th, 2011
Written by: Eric Adelson
Ever caught a shark? Jacob Langston did last week. But he had no idea until he left the beach.
The Orlando Sentinel photographer was taking some video of a surfer off New Smyrna Beach in Florida when he heard another surfer scream, "Dude! Did you see that?"
Langston didn't. But his camera did: a four-foot spinner shark had just hurtled over an unwitting surfer.
Check it out, and notice the surfer's body language screaming, "Whoa."
How do we know it's a shark?
"They are pretty common at the inlet," says Langston, who was in the water at the time. "People get photos of them all the time jumping out of the water. The surfers knew immediately what it was."
Spinners don't pose a threat to humans, as their teeth are made for munching small fish rather than big mammals.
But this one definitely left a mark.
More From The Postgame.com
June 25th, 2011
The recovery may be rocky at the moment, but when it picks up steam, confidence will increase, jobs will return and the Great Recession will become an unpleasant memory (and perhaps a useful subject from which to draw policy lessons).
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Even so, some industries will never recover because they're destined to go the way of milkmen and carriage makers. Which ones? Market research firm IBISWorld Inc. recently combed through a trove of data to determine the answer to this question.
The result: A list of the 10 worst industries in America, ones that had a steep decline in revenue in the last decade and are forecasted to further contract even more in the next one. Some of the industries on this list will not shock you, but others will be surprising.
Extinction is a hard word, but unfortunately that's what all these sectors are facing, due to external competition, technological change and lack of innovation. If you're looking for work in one of these doomed fields, you may want to consider a career transition, and quickly.
Calling Cut on Video Postproduction Services
One of the least publicized industries in terminal decline is video postproduction services. This field encompasses everything needed to prepare a film for distribution after the cameras have stopped rolling (or in the current age, after that little red recording light goes dark on the video camera).
Why the decline: Consolidation in the entertainment business is to blame. Movie studios are moving post-production in house. Meanwhile, technological advances have boosted efficiency -- as anyone who has seen the controlled chaos of a traditional celluloid cutting room versus the neat efficiency of digital editing software can attest. The results:
• Decline in revenue last decade: -24.9 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -10.7 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -37.8 percent.
Courtesy: Anthony L. Solis/flickr
Extra! Extra! Newspaper Publishing on Its Last Legs
While book publishers avoided making the list this time around, another often discussed casualty of our all-conquering obsession with everything digital is on it: newspaper publishing.
Why the decline: The move to online news and the competition from a plethora of new media information sources are obvious culprits. Will paywalls, iPad apps and frantic innovating online save the traditional newsroom even if it doesn't save old-style inky paper? Maybe, but don't hold your breath. The numbers facing the newspaper biz are stark:
• Decline in revenue last decade: -35.9 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -18.8 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -17.6 percent.
Courtesy: Kheel Center, Cornell University/flickr
Apparel Manufacturing Unraveling Fast
People certainly buy plenty of clothes these days, but with the price they're willing to pay for them, the chances of finding a "Made in the USA" tag is increasingly slim. So it's no wonder domestic apparel manufacturing is on the list of soon-to-be-extinct fields.
Why the decline: Cheap labor costs overseas, combined with consumers' expectation for a bargain at home, have put this U.S. industry in its death throes. Consider this:
• Decline in revenue last decade: -77.1 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -8.5 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -11.3 percent.
Courtesy: Vibrant Spirit/flickr
Textile Mills Still in Existence ... Barely
No New Englander would be surprised to see American textile mills on this list. In New England, "mill town" is practically synonymous with industrial decay, conjuring images of boarded up factories, sky-high unemployment and the generalized gloom of inevitable decay.
Why the decline: Cheap competition from abroad, which has halved revenue in the last decade alone. That rattling sound? It's the last gasps of an industry:
• Decline in revenue last decade: -50.2 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -10.0 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -12.8 percent.
Courtesy: Mr. T in DC/flickr
Formal Wear and Costume Rental Can't Disguise Decline
The formal wear and costume rental business is a surprise entry on the list. After all, high school kids continue to need fancy outfits for prom and Halloween rolls around every year.
Why the decline: An influx of cheap alternatives from abroad is the culprit again, with more cost-conscious Americans opting for disposable options each year. Purchasing, rather than renting formal wear is apparently also on the rise, but there is one tiny bright spot for the sector. "The tuxedo rental segment will keep the industry afloat," predicts IBISWorld, "because consumers are still likely to prefer the tuxedo rental service."
• Decline in revenue last decade: -35.0 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -14.6 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -17.2 percent.
Digital Killed the Record Store
DJs, collectors and hipster enthusiasts may argue, but the numbers don't lie. Record stores are on their last legs.
Why the decline: No mystery here. Consumers have been happily downloading and getting their occasional CD purchase from big box discounters like Walmart. IBISWorld argues that a recovery will slow the industry's decline, but those record stores that fail to get with the modern world and adapt to the new realities of music distribution will continue their downward slide no matter how buoyant the economy gets.
• Decline in revenue last decade: -24.9 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -10.7 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -38.8 percent.
R.I.P. Video Rental
The advance of technology and the internet isn't just a death sentence for the bricks and mortar music stores; it's pretty much the nail in the coffin for video rental business as well.
Why the decline: Why head to the local Blockbuster when NetFlix will deliver or offer for download any film you want? -- and that's not even mentioning the hundreds of movies available on cable TV. The industry's decline has been swift and irrevocable:
• Decline in revenue last decade: -35.7 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -19.3 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -11.2 percent.
Death of the Local Photoshop
Another business destroyed by advances in technology: photofinishing shops.
Why the decline: Digital cameras and online image sharing make your local photo developer obsolete. Consumers also no longer need to pay to develop 20 pictures of squinting relatives to get one decent image. Check out the grim revenue figures:
• Decline in revenue last decade: -69.1 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -39.1 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -33.3 percent.
Courtesy: haven't the slightest/flickr
Homes on the Move ... Downward
Manufactured home dealers prefabricate homes offsite and deliver them ready for installation. You might think they'd be an appealing option for consumers looking for inexpensive alternatives to the usual site-built home, but this is a case where the industry made some very bad strategic decisions and destroyed its market (as well as having the misfortune to suffer plummeting demand due to the housing crisis).
Why the decline: The industry has been squeezed between more innovative competitors and a drop in the price of traditional homes. Attempts to cut costs meant a less appealing product but not prices low enough to lure customers. The result: "Some of the steepest declines in revenue and establishments over the past decade," IBISWorld says.
• Decline in revenue last decade: -73.7 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -62.0 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -58.7 percent.
Courtesy: Trace Meek/flickr
Unplugging Wired Telecommunications Carriers
When the whole world is buzzing about wireless and mobile communications, it's got to be depressing to be the traditional wired communications carriers. Who wants to be pinned down to an actual physical cord anymore when you can use Skype?
But this is one sector where IBISWorld thinks companies may be able to evolve rather than go completely extinct. There won't be too many traditional telephone companies in the future, but that's because the major players will "close their traditional wired services and direct funds to segments with growth potential, like VoIP and broadband internet."
• Decline in revenue last decade: -54.9 percent.
• Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -37.1 percent.
• Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -15.9 percent.
June 25th, 2011
The Obama administration tried to find solace in Friday's landmark votes on the Libya operation, holding up the fact that the House did not actually de-fund the mission as some semblance of an endorsement.
But the two votes Friday on Libya, coupled with the fierce backlash the president faced from his own party after announcing his Afghanistan withdrawal plan Wednesday, underscore the political trouble President Obama is in when it comes to national security. Though anti-war Democrats and anti-interventionist Republicans have long locked arms against U.S. military campaigns abroad, that bipartisan coalition is swelling -- in size and intensity.
A majority of Republicans went on record Friday against funding and authorizing the Libya war, in a reversal of partisan roles. Perhaps more troubling for the president, 36 Democrats voted against funding and 70 Democrats voted against authorizing -- the authorization bill failed, in a blow to the president, but so did the de-funding bill.
Many of the Democrats on that roster are vocal anti-war lawmakers. But some have also been prominent allies of the president on other issues. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who voted against authorization, shepherded the massive financial regulatory package through the House last year. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who also voted against authorization, played a major role in the health care overhaul debate.
In the other chamber, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. -- a key Obama ally and top Democrat who served alongside the president when he represented Illinois -- is pushing a measure that would put a timetable on Libya. Though Durbin says he supports the mission, his proposal would only authorize use of force through the end of 2011.
And House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, while not crossing the president on Libya, chided the administration on Wednesday over the president's call to withdraw surge troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer.
"It has been the hope of many in Congress and across the country that the full drawdown of U.S. forces would happen sooner than the president laid out -- and we will continue to press for a better outcome," Pelosi said in a statement.
Other Democrats used less subtle language to criticize the administration.
Rep. Jerrold Nader, D-N.Y., called the president's Afghanistan plan, under which U.S. forces would be committed until 2014, "simply unconscionable." He reportedly warned that the president was becoming an "absolute monarch" on war powers.
For now, the backlash does not have any immediate effect on Libya or Afghanistan. It would be extremely rare for Congress to de-fund a military mission, and the Pentagon budget could potentially have enough cushion in it to absorb such a financial shock anyway. The failed resolution on authorization also was non-binding and only took place in one chamber.
"I mean, this was one vote," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday when asked whether the military mission in Libya would continue regardless of support in Congress.
But the Senate is poised to take up the Libya authorization debate as early as next week, and Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., just announced plans to propose several amendments restricting the president's authority.
Ironically, one of the administration's biggest allies on Libya is Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who ran against Obama in 2008 -- though McCain has been critical of the way the administration handled the Libya mission with Congress. McCain and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., are pushing the measure to authorize the war.
On the campaign trail, economy-focused Republican candidates are beginning to use national security against the president -- though they've tiptoed around the nation-rallying operation that resulted in the death of Usama bin Laden.
The message is far from harmonious. After the president's Afghanistan speech, several candidates hammered the president for withdrawing the troops too quickly.
"Instead of providing the American people with clarity, President Obama proposes an abrupt withdrawal of our troops that could potentially compromise the legitimate gains we have made in Afghanistan," candidate Herman Cain said.
But others said he wasn't moving quickly enough.
"Now it is time we move to a focused counter-terror effort which requires significantly fewer boots on the ground than the president discussed," said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, the newest candidate to the race.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the apparent GOP frontrunner, appeared to fall on both sides of the debate, calling on the president to bring troops home as soon as possible but urging him not to set an "arbitrary timetable."
June 25th, 2011
Researchers say they identified 300 species that they think are new to science this spring during a biological prospecting expedition to the Philippines, organized by the California Academy of Sciences.
“The Philippines is one of the hottest of the hotspots for diverse and threatened life on Earth,” Terrence Gosliner, dean of science and research collections at the California Academy of Sciences and leader of the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, said today in a news release about the findings. “Despite this designation, however, the biodiversity here is still relatively unknown, and we found new species during nearly every dive and hike as we surveyed the country’s reefs, rainforests, and the ocean floor."
The 42-day expedition was launched in late April and focused on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago, as well as the surrounding waters. In cooperation with more than two dozen colleagues from the Philippines, the academy's scientists surveyed a wide range of ecosystems and shared their findings with local communities and conservationists.
Among the suspected new species are dozens of types of insects and spiders, deep-sea corals, sea pens, sea urchins and more than 50 kinds of sea slugs. Scientists say they came across a new kind of cicada that makes a distinctive "laughing" call, a starfish that eats only sunken driftwood, and a deep-sea swell shark that sucks water into its stomach to bulk up and scare off predators.
When the expedition ended, the scientists combined their data and identified their top conservation priorities — expansion of marine protected areas, plus reforestation to reduce sedimentation damage to coral reefs. The academy said reduction of plastic waste was also a priority, because plastic litter was pervasive throughout the marine environment, even on the ocean floor at depths of more than 6,000 feet.
Over the coming months, the expedition's scientists will be analyzing their specimens with the aid of microscopes and DNA sequencing equipment to confirm their discoveries.
The academy's expedition is one of many efforts around the globe to document and safeguard biodiversity — in part because yet-to-be-discovered species may point the way to commercially useful drugs or technologies, in part because they may turn out to be key to an ecosystem's health, and in part because they're beautiful, exotic or just plain odd.
"The species lists and distribution maps that we created during this expedition will help to inform future conservation decisions and ensure that this remarkable biodiversity is afforded the best possible chance of survival," Gosliner said.
Be sure to check out our slideshow featuring the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, and then click through these other galleries of new species:
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