Sunday, February 27, 2011

Phrazer handheld communicator aims to break through the healthcare language barrier

By Paul Ridden

GeoCom's Cassandra Bachtell told Gizmag that the Phrazer is due for a Q3 release and "will retail between US$12,000 and US$18,000."

With over 170 languages spoken in the U.S. alone, medical personnel attending an emergency or working in a busy hospital are no doubt often faced with communication problems when trying to dispense treatment. The Phrazer offers a possible solution to this problem. It is billed as the world's first multilingual communication system, where patients provide medical background information, symptoms or complaints with the help of a virtual onscreen doctor speaking in their own native tongue. This information is then summarized into a medical record compatible with all major EMR systems.

* A Phrazer prototype
* Render of the current generation of the Phrazer
* Each Phrazer can hold over 300 languages at any one time and scripts can be customized to ...

When medical workers are faced with a patient who speaks a non-native language, there is a strong possibility that a significant amount of time is wasted trying to obtain information vital for effective treatment. Poor translation can lead to misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment. A Phrazer unit can hold over 300 languages at any one time and, after it identifies the patient's native tongue, gathers the necessary background information using pre-recorded videos of doctors speaking in the patient's own language.

The 12.6 x 5.35 x 0.6-inch (322 x 136 x 17.2 mm) handheld device has a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen display, where the patient can interact with the onscreen activity to help practitioners quickly gather vital information. Audio is fed into the system's 64Gb, 128GB or 256GB of onboard storage (with an additional 8GB of NAND Flash) via a 128kHz microphone, while photo and video information can be recorded via a 3 megapixel camera.

When enough information has been gathered, the specially developed Phrazer operating software then compiles a medical record, which can be fed into an EMR system via Bluetooth or USB. Each 1.49 pound (0.68kg) Phrazer also benefits from built-in GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G functionality, and is powered by a DM3730 1GHz processor supported by 4GB of LPDRAM memory.

Scripts can be customized to suit an organization's individual language needs, and the translation is claimed to be almost 100 percent accurate. The device runs on two internal batteries which are said to offer 22 hours of use between charges, but the unit can also use a couple of hot-swappable external batteries which could extend that operation indefinitely.

Friday, February 18, 2011

10 Ways In Which Google Runs The World

The original article contains tons of links, so click for the full shebang:

Steve Watson & Paul Watson
February 18, 2011

Don’t Be Evil? 10 Ways In Which Google Runs The World 190810top2

As far as mega corporations in bed with the government go, Google sits somewhere close to the top of the tree. The company was seeded with CIA money and is literally an a corporate arm of the intelligence community.

The following ten facts highlight how much influence Google has, and how the company has seemingly abandoned its own corporate motto, “Don’t be evil”.

#1 – Google has intimate and long standing connections to government spy networks.

The company has established a close working relationship with the National Security Agency, the government spy force responsible for warrantless monitoring of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails in the wake of 9/11. Google is supplying the software, hardware and tech support to US intelligence agencies in the process of creating a vast closed source database for global spy networks to share information.

Google’s partnership with the intelligence network is not new. As we reported in late 2006, An ex-CIA agent Robert David Steele has claimed sources told him that CIA seed money helped get the company off the ground.

Recent disclosures under the Freedom Of Information Act have also revealed that the federal government has several contracts with social media outlets, including Youtube which is owned by Google. The contracts are said to waive rules on monitoring users and permit companies to track visitors to government web sites for advertising purposes.

#2 – Google is one of the corporations at the forefront of the government’s drive to use cybersecurity as a pretext for restricting the openness of the Internet.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said that government regulation of Internet service providers (ISPs) is necessary. In fact, he said he thinks the entire concept of the Internet marketplace relies on it.

#3 – Google is reported to have jointly invested with the CIA in an Internet monitoring project that scours Twitter accounts, blogs and websites for all sorts of information, and can also “predict the future”.

Google Ventures, the investment arm of Google, has injected a sum of up to $10 million, as has In-Q-Tel – which handles investments for the CIA and the wider intelligence network – into a company called Recorded Future.

The company describes its analytics as “the ultimate tool for open-source intelligence”.

#4 – The recent scandal involving the company’s street view roaming vehicles accessing the wi-fi details of internet users and mapping their online activities has also raised serious questions.

Google Earth and Street View are also being used by the government to spy on Americans in an effort to collect revenue and enforce ordinances on swimming pools without safety certificates, junk cars being stored without permission, unlicensed porches, and a myriad of other petty transgressions that the state is feeding off in complete violation of the Fourth Amendment to suck citizens dry of whatever income they have left after being looted of trillions of dollars in wealth that the state has transferred to foreign banks.

Google has admitted that its cars captured much more than just fragments of personal payload data.

#5 – Outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt, a regular special guest of the Bilderberg kingmakers, has on several occasions displayed a complete lack of respect for the right to privacy and the Fourth amendment.

In the past two years alone he has made the following statements in public:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

People who don’t like Google’s Street View cars taking pictures of their homes and businesses “can just move.”

“I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.”

“We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

“What we’re really doing is building an augmented version of humanity, building computers to help humans do the things they don’t do well better.“

“The Internet of things will augment your brain”

“Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it,”. Google implants, he added, probably crosses that line.

“Every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.”

“It was a joke,” Schmidt said of the statement. “It just wasn’t a very good one…The serious goal is just rememeber when you post something, the comptuers remember forever.”

“…the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”

“If I look at enough of your messaging and your location, and use Artificial Intelligence, we can predict where you are going to go.”

“In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you”.

Schmidt, who alarmingly sits on the White House Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, is a massive hypocrite. It is just fine with him for your personal information to be made public, however, when his own details were published online by tech news site CNET, Google blacklisted the website, which leads us nicely to our next point…

#6 – Google is actively helping the communist Chinese government suppress dissent while simply blacklisting free speech it dislikes in the United States altogether.

The Internet giant has also become the target of an anti-trust suit in the EU for allegedly demoting links to a website who did not pay for higher listings as its competitor had done.

Over many years we have documented numerous instances of censorship and attempts to chill free speech, including You Tube’s removal of The Obama Deception , the failed attempt to completely wipe the Alex Jones Youtube channel, and Google’s refusal to allow its shopping cart software to carry the film after the company labeled the documentary ‘hate speech’.

Google has also censored key terms from it’s Trends pages, in an apparent attempt to prevent certain news items from becoming popular.

#7 – Google is changing its algorithm to reduce the status of alternative media websites to “spammers” in an attempt to control the flow of information on the Internet. The company is planning to weaken the search-ability of websites it refers to as “content farms.”

Google has also declared that it wishes to see news sites using technology to PREDICT what a user wants to read by what they have already read.

In line with White House technology czar Cass Sunstein’s stated agenda, Google also wishes to implement technology that “directs readers” to a stories with an “opposing’ view” from that of what they are currently reading. and were blacklisted from Google news in November and remain frozen out, ensuring that our stories no longer appear alongside the likes of CNN and Fox News in a frightening early salvo in the move towards a tiered Internet that favors large corporations while independent voices are strangled internet users. alone now gets more traffic than, a multi-billion dollar news operation funded by General Electric and the military-industrial complex. This type of blacklisting amounts to open censorship of highly sought after news and information.

Don’t Be Evil? 10 Ways In Which Google Runs The World

Blocking our site from these listings is a discriminatory practice which prevents frequent news readers from stumbling upon Prison Planet articles while browsing. Ironically, it also prevents articles from being linked to #1 Google Search terms with which they are associated. Note: This is not the same as being blocked altogether from searches.

Google and its subsidiary You Tube are now at the forefront of the agenda to turn the Internet into a sanitized and compliant forum in the same mould as cable television.

If independent news websites and their readers don’t stand together in unison to decry Google’s efforts to kill free speech on the Internet, the web as a last outpost for the tattered and torn First Amendment will be lost forever.

CONTACT GOOGLE – click here.

CONTACT YOU TUBE – click here.

#8 – During the recent uprising in Egypt, Google took the opportunity to insert itself into key news stories about the mass protests. Eric Schmidt noted that the company was “very, very proud” of cyberactivist Wael Ghonim, a young executive at the company who played a significant role in stoking up and organising the protests via Facebook and Twitter.

“Because the whole thing before the revolution was the most critical thing. Without Facebook, without Twitter, without Google, without You Tube, this would have never happened.” Ghonim told the media, insinuating that the search engine was responsible for an entire revolution.

#9 – Google reads your email and bombards you with ads based on your private communications.

#10 -Youtube recently implemented measures to allow its users to flag content that allegedly supports terrorism. Google claims to have instituted this policy after receiving complaints.

It is obvious where all of this is headed. Users will now flag any political material they may disagree with as “terrorist promotion”. Google’s YouTube will remove the videos and will then say the content was removed at the user’s request.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ariz. governor countersues federal government

Feb 10, 8:13 PM (ET)


PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Jan Brewer sued the federal government Thursday for failing to control Arizona's border with Mexico and enforce immigration laws, and for sticking the state with huge costs associated with jailing illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

The lawsuit claims the federal government has failed to protect Arizona from an "invasion" of illegal immigrants. It seeks increased reimbursements and extra safeguards, such as additional border fences.

Brewer's court filing serves as a countersuit in the federal government's legal challenge to Arizona's new enforcement immigration law. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to invalidate the law.

"Because the federal government has failed to protect the citizens of Arizona, I am left with no other choice," Brewer said as sign-carrying protesters yelled chants at her and at other champions of the immigration law.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler declined to comment on the filing. But a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of policing the country's borders, called Brewer's lawsuit a meritless action and said Border Patrol staffing is higher than ever.

"Not only do actions like this ignore all of the statistical evidence, they also belittle the significant progress that our men and women in uniform have made to protect this border and the people who live alongside it," spokesman Matthew Chandler said. "We welcome any state and local government or law enforcement agency to join with us to address the remaining challenges."

Brewer's lawsuit seeks a court order that would require the federal government to take extra steps to protect Arizona - such as more border fences - until the border is controlled. Brewer also asks for additional border agents and technology along the state's border with Mexico.

The governor isn't seeking a lump-sum award, but rather asks for policy changes in the way the federal government reimburses states for the costs of jailing illegal immigrants who are convicted of state crimes. Such changes would give the state more reimbursement.

Arizona's enforcement law was passed amid years of complaints that the federal government hasn't done enough to lessen the state's role as the nation's busiest illegal entry point. Its passage ignited protests over whether the law would lead to racial profiling, and prompted lawsuits by the Justice Department, civil rights groups and other opponents seeking to have it thrown out.

The law would have required police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers had reasonable suspicion the person was in the country illegally. That requirement was put on hold by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, along with a mandate that immigrants obtain or carry immigration registration papers.

The judge, however, let other parts of the law take effect, such as a provision that bans people from blocking traffic while seeking or offering day-labor services on streets.

Brewer challenged Bolton's decision in an appeals court in San Francisco. She argued the judge erred by accepting speculation by the federal government that the law might burden legal immigrants, and by concluding the federal government likely would prevail. Brewer's appeal is still pending.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, one of the lawyers defending the law on behalf of the state, said Arizona bears staggering costs from illegal immigration, yet the federal government maintains the state is prevented from assisting in the enforcement of federal immigration law.

Horne said Washington has failed to protect the state against an invasion by illegal immigrants.

"The word 'invasion' does not necessarily mean invasion of one country by another country," Horne said. "It can mean large numbers of illegal immigrants from various countries."

The governor's filing hammers on the issue of the state's unreimbursed costs for jailed illegal immigrants. Brewer's predecessor, Janet Napolitano, who is now the Homeland Security secretary, regularly sent the Justice Department invoices seeking such reimbursement when she was governor.

The lawsuit doesn't say exactly how much reimbursement money the state is seeking. Instead, it asks the court to interpret the criteria on which the reimbursements are based, which the state believes will ensure it gets more funding.

Brewer's filing noted Arizona's latest annual reimbursement from the federal government totaled nearly $10 million and the state had to eat an additional $125 million.

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix, an opponent of the law, said Brewer's filing was intended to draw attention from the state's budget woes. Sinema noted the federal government has hired 8,000 new Border Patrol agents and added hundreds of miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years.

"The state will be hard-pressed to show that we have been denied any promised benefit," Sinema said.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

SCIENTISTS create real-life thinking cap - zaps electricity through the brain


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SCIENTISTS have created a real-life thinking cap which works by zapping electricity through the brain.

The weird-looking headwear has had extraordinary results and experts believe it could help people be more creative.

The device was dreamt up by the University of Sydney's Centre for the Mind in Australia and suppresses the left side of the brain to encourage the more creative right side into action.

But Centre director Allan Snyder said students hoping to use it to swot up before exams would be disappointed.

He said: "You wouldn't use this to study or to help your memory.


"You would use this if you wanted to look at a problem anew.

"If you wanted to look at the world, just briefly, with a child's view, if you wanted to look outside the box."

The device, which uses two electricity conductors, significantly boosted results in a simple maths test.

Out of a sample of 60 participants, THREE TIMES as many people who wore the cap were able to complete it, compared to those who tried it without.

The cap was inspired by accident victims who experienced a sudden surge in creativity after damaging the left side of their brains.

Allan said the goal was to suppress habits and opinions gathered through life experiences to help users see problems and situations as they really appear.

He added: "We know that from certain types of brain damage and abnormalities or injuries, people who suddenly have damage to the left temporal lobe will burst out in the arts or other types of creative activities.

"The dream is that one day we may be able to stimulate the brain in a particular way to give you, just momentarily, an unfiltered view of the world."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

World's first hard X-ray free-electron laser images intact viruses

By Ben Coxworth

In a paper published in the current edition of Nature, an international team of scientists describe how they obtained the world’s first single-shot images of intact viruses – a technology that could ultimately lead to moving video of molecules, viruses and live microbes. Another paper by the same team describes how they were also able to successfully utilize a new shortcut for determining the 3D structures of proteins. Both advances were achieved using the world’s first hard X-ray free-electron laser – the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) – which scientists hope could revolutionize the study of life.

Heavy-duty hardware

Located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory run by Stanford University, the laser beam of the LCLS is a billion times brighter than any previous X-ray source, with an intensity sufficient to cut through steel. The duration of its individual pulses is incredibly short – a few millionths of a billionth of a second. That’s still long enough to cause its subjects to vaporize, but that doesn’t happen until after their pictures have been snapped.

Scientists from Arizona State University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, SLAC and Sweden’s Uppsala University developed specialized equipment for injecting samples into its beam. Data was captured with an ultra-sensitive X-ray camera that was part of CAMP, a 10-US ton (9-metric ton), US$7 million device created by Germany’s Max Planck Advanced Study Group.

The two experiments were actually conducted back in December 2009, just two months after the LCLS became available for research use.

Imaging molecular structures of proteins

In the first experiment, nanocrystals containing copies of the protein Photosystem I were sprayed across the laser beam. Photosystem I is found in plant cells, where it converts sunlight to energy during photosynthesis. It’s a member of the membrane class of proteins, which occur in cell membranes and “control traffic in and out of the cell and serve as docking points for infectious agents and disease-fighting drugs.” To date, scientists know the structure of only six of an estimated 30,000 membrane proteins found in the human body, as it has proven difficult to convert them into crystals large enough to be imaged by conventional X-ray technology.

Using the LCLS, the team obtained approximately 3 million snapshots of Photosystem I-bearing nanocrystals from a multitude of angles, as they passed through a series of pulses of the laser beam. Ten thousand of those shots were then combined to form one image, which depicted a molecular structure that was “a good match” for the protein’s known structure.

The team plans to return to the facility later this month, subjecting more Photosystem I particles to a beam that is now much faster, and four times more intense. It is hoped that they will be able to obtain images of the protein’s structure in atom-by-atom detail.
Getting snapshots of viruses

In the second experiment, the team used no nanocrystals at all, instead spraying mimivirus particles through the beam – mimivirus is the world’s largest known virus, and it infects amoebas. While hundreds of viruses were hit by the beam, only two of them provided enough data for reconstitution of their images. In the images, the 20-sided structure of the virus’ outer coat is visible, as is an area of denser interior material, that might be their genetic material. The team returned to SLAC last month and used wavelengths that should maximize the contrast and detail in their images, which they will now be analyzing.

Typically, scientists have to freeze, slice, or otherwise disturb viruses in order to image them.

“This first data and these first papers are really just the first view of a new research frontier,” said SLAC Director Persis Drell. “They represent a turning point for the LCLS, demonstrating new technologies that will be great steps forward.”

Over 80 researchers from 21 institutions around the world were involved in the experiments.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2010 Top 100 Global Brands

Chipotle: ICE Crack Down in D.C.

"The unfortunate part of the system is that it puts companies in a very difficult position," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said in an email. "On one hand, we must comply with ICE requirements to verify the status of every employee we hire, but we must do that without discriminating and violating the mandate of the Department of Justice." (full article below)

My thoughts:

Somehow, it's like Janet Jackson's wardrobe "malfunction". I mean, how brazen - Chipotle is owned by McDonalds. 60 of them in D.C., I guess someone couldn't take it right under their nose anymore. Maybe ICE should target Frito Lay. That would possibly be as funny.

I went into a McDonald's in Denver, CO - all Latino staff with 'now hiring' signs picturing Latinos as you walk in the door. Now, that's racial profiling.

But which is funnier, McDonald's dba 'Chipotle' Mexican Grille and getting 'busted' for hiring illegal Mexicans, or ICE having to seek out such a literal caricature that will pass the brown glove test...NOT a racial issue. Blatant violation of law. In Costa Rica, Robaburguesa is the Spanish translation for Hamburglar. So, in the case of Chipotle, would that make McDonalds corporation the accomplice or the perpetrator? I vote the latter.

Further, I would point out that the typical leftist argument in support of hiring illegals is that they will do jobs that Americans will not do. McDonald's is about as American as apple pie, and no doubt, Americans will work at McDonald's, especially in this economy. In fact, they just hired 50,000 people on April 19th. And, in Ohio, the event became violent.

I recently brought up this topic in conversation, and someone blithered into a rant about how Americans won't take jobs at McDonald's because noone can support a family on such a low minimum wage. Really? If the employee's family lives in Mexico, that low wage gathers considerable momentum once it crosses the border, and likely it supports even extended family. If the applicant is one of the 85% of college graduates who has to live at home with their family because they can't find a job...or if the applicant is one of the many highschool drop-outs...McDonald's might be a serious consideration.

Decrying the hardships of minimum wage is a parrot-like response for some to mentioning McDonald's. It exemplifies the fidelity of the polarized to memetically push an agenda rather than process information. You say 'McDonald's', they say 'raise minimum wage'. Square peg in round hole, next question.

The last McDonald's I went to in Atlanta was an all-Latino staff, and the person working the counter spoke fair English, while some of the other staff members clearly did not. Now, McD's is replacing cashiers with touch screens, so they will not have to deal with a language barrier.

Everyone has to provide their employer with two forms of identification to prove legal citizenship, and it is known that certain companies overlook fake IDs, etc. Talk to someone in HR at a factory, grocery store, chicken plant, commercial development, etc. It isn't a mystery.

I actually laughed out loud when I read this:

By: Leah Fabel 02/07/11 7:25 PM
Examiner Staff Writer

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is preparing to crack down on 60 Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in the D.C.-Virginia area in an effort to weed out undocumented workers, the restaurant chain confirmed Monday.

The popular burrito chain received "notices of inspections" from the federal agency alerting owners that they'll be audited to determine if they're in compliance with employment eligibility laws.

"The unfortunate part of the system is that it puts companies in a very difficult position," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said in an email. "On one hand, we must comply with ICE requirements to verify the status of every employee we hire, but we must do that without discriminating and violating the mandate of the Department of Justice."

Chipotle has "very robust" policies in place that "ensure that everyone we hire is legally authorized to work in this country," Arnold said.

The audit of local restaurants comes on the heels of similar investigations at the chain's locations in Minnesota, which resulted in hundreds of employee firings.

"As for why ICE is picking on Chipotle, that is a better question to ask ICE," Arnold said.

An ICE spokeswoman refused to comment on the Chipotle case — in fact, she refused to say the word "Chipotle," opting instead for "that company."

"As a matter of policy we don't confirm or deny the existence of ongoing enforcement actions," she said.

The notices sent to Chipotle represent a shift for immigration law enforcement. ICE is relying less on the kinds of sting operations it once ran to arrest illegal immigrants and focusing instead on employers' compliance with the law.


Update: 5/5/2011

Federal agents widen Chipotle immigration probe

By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. immigration agents descended on Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants on Tuesday, interviewing employees in about two dozen outlets in Los Angeles, Atlanta and other cities.

Roughly 500 undocumented workers have been fired as a result of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audits of the popular burrito chain's hiring paperwork in Minnesota, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Tuesday's ICE interviews were part of a related criminal investigation and could suggest that government interest is intensifying.

In addition to the cities mentioned above, ICE agents also interviewed workers in Minnesota and Washington, D.C., said Robert Luskin, Chipotle's outside counsel and a partner at Patton Boggs in Washington.

Luskin said ICE gave Chipotle enough advance notice of the interviews by plain-clothed agents that the company had the opportunity to send a note to employees telling them it wanted them to cooperate.

"We've got nothing to hide," Luskin said. "We're absolutely convinced that nobody did anything wrong."

Chipotle's co-chief executive, Monty Moran, said on April 20 that the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. was overseeing the investigation and had asked for documents related to the ICE audits.

That request came hours after a Reuters story quoting fired immigrant workers who said that Chipotle, one of the highest-profile employers to fall under the scrutiny of immigrations authorities, ignored signs that pointed to the illegal status of some of its workers.

Luskin said the company has not received any subpoenas related to the criminal probe and that it is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Tuesday's action "doesn't signal a broader or more serious or more substantial investigation," said Luskin, who added that he had no reason to expect that the investigation would be confined to audit areas.

ICE spokeswoman Cori Bassett said the agency "does not comment on ongoing investigations."


U.S. immigration enforcement has shifted considerably in recent years. Notably, the Obama administration is cracking down on employers rather than illegal workers.

Carl Shusterman, a former prosecutor for ICE's predecessor agency, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, said interviews like the ones ICE conducted at Chipotle on Tuesday show how the administration is ratcheting up pressure.

He also acknowledged that advance notification of upcoming ICE interviews might scare off any undocumented workers.

"I would imagine what happens is that the people who are illegal will never come to work again," said Shusterman, who now is in private practice in Los Angeles.

Denver-based Chipotle has won plaudits from Wall Street for its seemingly uncanny ability to hold down labor costs. That ability has been a major factor behind its six-fold increase in share price since late 2008. Chipotle shares fell 2.4 percent Tuesday to $260.40.

The immigration probe may inflate costs in the long run if it leads to more mass firings. That could be bad news for Chipotle, which like other restaurants, is grappling with rising prices for everything from beef to produce.

It is also a blow to the reputation of a restaurant chain that prides itself on serving "Food with Integrity."

Should the investigations uncover widespread disregard of immigration laws, co-chief executives Steve Ells and Monty Moran could face criticism for allowing the practice to spread through the 1,100-unit U.S. operation.

Unlike many rivals that sell franchises, Chipotle owns and operates its restaurants and is ultimately responsible for hiring.

The U.S. fast-food industry historically has offered relatively low pay and paltry benefits to legal workers and, as a result, has struggled with high employee turnover.

Experts say restaurant owners are attracted to illegal laborers because they work hard, are loyal and will go the extra mile to hold down a job.

It is hard to know the extent of hiring of illegal immigrants in U.S. restaurants. But immigrants, both legal and illegal, account for about a quarter of workers in the restaurant and food services industry and their numbers have climbed in recent years.

Their share fell from 24.5 percent in March 2006 to 21.4 percent in March 2008 -- before and during the recession -- but then recovered to 23.6 percent in March 2009 and March 2010, according to an analysis of the government's Current Population Survey (CPS) data conducted for Reuters by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

The overall number of immigrants employed in the sector climbed from just over 1.7 million in 2008 to 1.8 million in 2010, according to this data, even as native employment fell from 6.4 million to 5.9 million.

The Pew Hispanic Center, whose demographic and labor market work is highly regarded, estimated in a 2009 report that 12 percent of the workforce in food preparation and serving in 2008 was undocumented.

(Graphic of immigrant workers and Chipotle share performance:

(Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Matt Driskill)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Reflections on multiculturalism with regard to societies stemming from caste systems


RoboEarth teaches robots to learn from peers

RoboEarth teaches robots to learn from peers, pour European fruit beverages (video)
By Christopher Trout posted Feb 2nd 2011 10:07PM

It's not quite war-ready, but a new Skynet-like initiative called RoboEarth could have you reaching for your guide to automaton Armageddon sooner than you think. The network, which is dubbed the "World Wide Web for robots," was designed by a team of European scientists and engineers to allow robots to learn from the experience of their peers, thus enabling them to take on tasks that they weren't necessarily programmed to perform. Using a database with intranet and internet functionality, the system collects and stores information about object recognition, navigation, and tasks and transmits the data to robots linked to the network. Basically, it teaches machines to learn without human intervention. If the introduction of this robo-web hasn't got you thinking of end times, maybe this will do the trick: it's already taught one robot, the TechUnited AMIGO, to deliver a box of creamy fruit juice to a bedridden scientist. You can check out video of the newly appointed automated waiter after the jump.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

State multiculturalism has failed, says David Cameron

David Cameron has criticised "state multiculturalism" in his first speech as prime minister on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism.

At a security conference in Germany, he argued the UK needed a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to all kinds of extremism.

He also signalled a tougher stance on groups promoting Islamist extremism.

The Muslim Council of Britain said its community was being seen as part of the problem rather than the solution.

Mr Cameron suggested there would be greater scrutiny of some Muslim groups which get public money but do little to tackle extremism.

Ministers should refuse to share platforms or engage with such groups, which should be denied access to public funds and barred from spreading their message in universities and prisons, he argued.

"Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism," the prime minister said.
Human rights

"Let's properly judge these organisations: Do they believe in universal human rights - including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?

"These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations," he added.

Reacting to the speech, the Muslim Council of Britain's assistant secretary general, Dr Faisal Hanjra, said the government had failed to move the issue on.

He told Radio 4's Today programme: "It is disappointing. We were hoping that with a new government, with a new coalition that there'd be a change in emphasis in terms of counter-terrorism and dealing with the problem at hand.

"In terms of the approach to tackling terrorism though it doesn't seem to be particularly new.

"Again it just seems the Muslim community is very much in the spotlight, being treated as part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution."

Muslim youth group The Ramadhan Foundation said that, by singling out Muslims, Mr Cameron had fed "hysteria and paranoia".

Chief executive Mohammed Shafiq said: "British Muslims abhor terrorism and extremism and we have worked hard to eradicate this evil from our country.

"But to suggest that we do not sign up to the values of tolerance, respect and freedom is deeply offensive and incorrect."

In the speech in Munich, Mr Cameron drew a clear distinction between Islam the religion and what he described as "Islamist extremism" - a political ideology he said attracted people who feel "rootless" within their own countries.

"We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing," he said.

The government is currently reviewing its policy to prevent violent extremism, known as Prevent, which is a key part of its wider counter-terrorism strategy.

A genuinely liberal country "believes in certain values and actively promotes them", Mr Cameron said.

"Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality.

"It says to its citizens: This is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe these things."

He said under the "doctrine of state multiculturalism", different cultures have been encouraged to live separate lives.
'I am a Londoner too'

"We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values."

Building a stronger sense of national and local identity holds "the key to achieving true cohesion" by allowing people to say "I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, but I am a Londoner... too", he said.

Security minister Baroness Neville-Jones said when Mr Cameron expressed his opposition to extremism, he meant all forms, not just Islamist extremism.

"There's a widespread feeling in the country that we're less united behind values than we need to be," she told Today.

"There are things the government can do to give a lead and encourage participation in society, including all minorities."
'Several factors'

But the Islamic Society of Britain said the prime minister did not appreciate the nature of the problem.

Ajmal Masroor from the group told BBC Radio 5 live: "I think he's confusing a couple of issues: national identity and multiculturalism along with extremism are not connected. Extremism comes about as a result of several other factors."

Former home secretary David Blunkett, meanwhile, said while it was right the government promoted national identity, it had undermined its own policy by threatening to withdraw citizenship lessons from schools.

He accused Education Secretary Michael Gove of threatening to remove the subject from the national curriculum of secondary schools in England at a time "we've never needed it more".

"It's time the right hand knew what the far-right hand is doing," he said.

"In fact, it's time that the government were able to articulate one policy without immediately undermining it with another."