Tag Archive | "United States"

4,000 reasons to appreciate Ichiro

If Ichiro Suzuki had started his baseball career in the United States, we might all be talking about another record chase right now. And it would be one of the most renowned in sports.

The New York Yankees outfielder hit a milestone on Wednesday with his 4,000th professional hit, an acnievement only reached by two other players: Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.

Because record-keepers treat Japan as another minor league, there’s no real threat to Rose’s record of 4,256 or even Cobb’s 4,191. But even if Japanese baseball is treated on the level of Triple-A, just five players have 4,000 hits combined between the majors and minors, according to ESPN.com’s Jim Caple. Those are Rose, Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and a little-known Pacific Coast Leaguer named Jigger Statz, who had 737 big-league hits and 3,356 with Los Angeles of the PCL in 18 seasons.

“It’s not a goal that I have,” Ichiro said of catching Rose’s 4,256, to ESPNNewYork.com. “It’s not a number that I’m looking at. I’m just coming to the ballpark every day, seeing if I’m in the lineup, keeping my schedule so that I’m in the lineup so that I can perform and do what I can to contribute to this team.”

Even if you count his big-league hits (2,722) alone, he just passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time list and is two behind Roberto Alomar. And he’s done it in just 13 seasons, and those 2,722 hits are the most for any player ever in a 13-year span. He’s third on the list of active players in big-league hits, behind two teammates (Derek Jeter with 3,308 and Alex Rodriguez with 2,917). I like Ichiro to get to 3,000 before A-Rod.

Ichiro will be 40 next October, and his contract will be expiring. So he has an outside shot at 3,000 in the big-leagues, but might need a new deal to get there. But regardless, his spot in Cooperstown is certainly secure, and he’ll be the first from Japan to be in the Hall.

 

Source: About.com


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Posted in BaseballComments Off

Public Safety Networks Report

E911 Location Failures – What’s up?

This Avaya CONNECTED Blog
is also available as an MP3 Audio File


The popular belief is:

[When you dial 911, your call ends up in a massive modern control room like environment that could be easily mistaken for NASA with all the latest bells and whistles that tells the 911 call taker exactly who you are, what you're calling about, and your precise location]

Right?

Well, that might be the way it works on TV and in the movies, but the fact of the matter is the majority of 911 centers or PSAPs in the United States (about 80% of them in fact according to NENA) are only 2 to 4 answering positions. While the large “mega-centers” do exist in cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, they are certainly the smallest percentage.

Likewise there’s a mass misperception by the general public on the technology that a 911 call taker has at their fingertips. To those of my readers that are in the industry, it’s no great secret that the only “information” that is received on a 911 call is a telephone number, and the local equipment uses that phone number to query the telephone company database for the subscriber information resulting in the address. While that’s technology that is useful for residential fixed endpoints such as land lines where a telephone number equals a physical street address, that method of location discovery is completely useless for a device that is mobile by nature such as a cellular telephone.

Since cellular phones can be used anywhere in the country, when they make a 911 emergency call the number that is displayed initially at the 911 center, is a special number that is actually representative of the tower that is handling the call. This is known as “Phase I” location reporting. This number is called a pANI (pseudo Automatic Number Identification). While this provides the 911 call taker with a very general area that the call is coming from, it is initially used for determining what 911 center needs to get the call. All cellular calls, that’s right ALL OF THEM, initially arrive at the 911 center with Phase I location information.

While the call taker is working the call, about 8 to 15 seconds later, the 911 equipment makes a second query on the pANI number received, and by this time the cellular network should have been able to determine a more precise location of the caller, and returns that information along with subscriber data in what is called Phase II location information. Depending on the technology used to locate the device, the information is also assigned a reliability or accuracy score.

When the planets are all in alignment, and the 911 gods are shining down upon the network, this can produce fairly accurate location information, and in fact the FCC mandates that carriers provide this level of location accuracy on a certain percentage of calls. Now that you have the background information, here’s the earth shattering news that was published earlier this week in a letter to Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn by CalNENA president Danita L. Crombach, ENP.

The letter cites several alarming factors that came to light after a study of real-time data over a two-year period by public safety analytics company Public Safety Network. The data focused on the amount of cellular phone calls that had received Phase II data by the completion of the call.

The report focused on four areas within the state, San Francisco, San Jose, Bakersfield and Ventura County and noted that statewide, 45% of wireless 911 calls lacked Phase II data, with some areas such as Ventura County lacking that critical location information on more than 50% of the calls. Was it a particular carrier worse than the others? Not really, although some were better and some were worse the problem was consistent across all five major carriers (AT&T, Metro PCS, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) and the report shows that even under the best scenario accuracy never surpassed 64% in December 2012.

Public Safety Networks Report

There’s quite a bit of speculation why these numbers indicate the problem is getting worse. While no specific hard analytical data was collected to define the root cause of the problem, it’s generally accepted among experts in the industry that to specific phenomena contribute to the problem. The first is the fact that cellular device saturation in the United States is estimated to be at 103%, meaning a device for every person in the country, plus a little. That first factoid directly leads to the second, where people are using their devices more and more inside of buildings and what the report calls “urban canyons”.

iStock_000002375961Small.jpgThe urban canyon actually has two negative effects on cellular location discovery. The first is the fact that GPS signals typically need to be what’s called “line of sight” and therefore do not penetrate steel and concrete rendering them ineffective indoors. The second problem affects the backup location discovery mechanism typically used known as TDOA (Time Delay on Arrival). In layman’s terms, this is the time it took for the signal to travel between the transmitter (the cell phone) and the receiver (the cell tower). Given that radio waves travel at the speed of light, the distance between the two becomes a simple mathematical calculation. Using this information from two or more cellular towers, and old-fashioned radio triangulation can be used to pinpoint a transmitter’s location with surprising accuracy. Unfortunately cellular radio waves “bounce” off of buildings and do not travel in a direct line. These signal reflections, if severe enough, can actually increase the distance traveled skewing the calculation.

Bottom line, more people are carrying cell phones, therefore more people are making 911 calls from their cell phones, and people are within buildings during the work day. Add all of that together, and you come up with a decrease in accuracy statistic. Not because the problem got worse, but because more people are using the problematic method.

Now while this specific report covers California, one would imagine that this same phenomenon exists in every major metropolitan city across the US. So while communication habits have drastically changed with the multitude of smart devices now available at our fingertips, if we’re going to continue to enjoy an accurate level of public safety communications, the Federal Communications Commission is going to need to step in, and as the report states, “issue all necessary orders” to correct this problem.

So just bring this into full circle, if you have an enterprise PBX, and you feel that your cellular phone is a suitable replacement to addressing E911 within the enterprise, based on the information in this report you may want to think that over again.


Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

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Posted in UncategorizedComments Off

PEDs still lost in Dominican translation

Aside from Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, the list of players suspended in the Biogenesis scandal showed that another glaring trend continues. Players from the Dominican Republic are continuing to use performance-enhancing drugs — or at least getting caught — at a much higher average than the typical MLB player. Of the 13 players suspended last week, eight are Dominican. On Opening Day rosters in 2013, Dominican players represented 10.4 percent of the players in the majors. So far in 2013, according to Fox News Latino, 15 of the 44 players suspended for steroids in the minors are Dominican.

It’s not a new story, by any stretch. Just a few years it seemed to be more of a cultural issue, as many of the Dominican minor-leaguers who were hit with suspensions seemed to not know what they were taking, according to a 2009 ESPN.com report. And it’s attributable to a culture where prospects — almost always poor — are desperate to get off the island with a pro contract. They’ll do practically anything to get there with help from their advisers (“buscones”), and steroids are more easily available there than in the United States.

“If I’m going to make millions by putting something in my body, then I’m going to do it. So what if I get suspended 50 games, I just made millions,” said Eduardo Ferreira of the Academia de Beisbol, to the Toronto Star, about the thought process players go through. “The alternative is I stay dirt poor.”

Said author David Fidler to Fox News Latino: “We’ve been making these arguments for years – we need to go after thisĀ buscones system hard. … We can’t regulate in the Dominican Republic. But Major League Baseball has the power to tell the teams what to do. They haven’t done it. They’ve dragged their feet.”

The buscones aren’t the only problem, however. The fact that players are still trying to get away with it is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the scandal. Dominican players such as Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz weren’t on the Biogenesis list just trying to get into pro ball. They’re established major leaguers who were looking for their next big contract.

It angers Dominican stars such as David Ortiz — himself fingered for PED use earlier in his career, a charge he denies.

“Dominican players, we are hundreds and hundreds, not just 12. Because they caught some players using PEDs, that means everybody is using it? No. That’s wrong. Everybody makes a choice,” Ortiz said to the Toronto Globe and Mail.

It’s clouded the legacy of Dominican players in baseball as well. The country of 10 million people has the greatest concentration of big-league talent of anyplace in the world. But ranking the top 10 players from the country is difficult these days because of the tarnished legacies of players such as Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez and Bartolo Colon.

Cleaning up the process of signing players from the Dominican — perhaps including them in the draft — would seem to help. But this scandal is showing that keeping teenagers away from PEDs certainly isn’t the only uphill battle MLB faces.

Related: Top 10 players all-time from Dominican Republic; Players accused of PED use

Source: About.com


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Posted in BaseballComments Off

Senate Unveils Its Postal Reform Bill

The U.S. Senate will consider its own version of a bill to reform and save the Postal Service that should make the postal workers unions at least a little happier and has something the House’s postal reform bill does not — a glimmer of bipartisan support.

Just before Congress left for its 5-week Labor Day vacation, the bipartisan team of Sens. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) and Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) introduced the bill S. 1486, intended to “improve, sustain, and transform the United States Postal Service.”

The Senate bill, like the House bill, would end Saturday and door-to-door mail delivery. But unlike the House bill so strongly opposed by postal employee unions, it would end the Congressional mandate requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund its retiree health benefit program.

Enacted in 2006, the mandate gives the Postal Service until 2016 to pay the U.S. Treasury an amount necessary to pre-fund its retiree health benefit plan through 2081. Moving ever closer to insolvency, the Postal Service has defaulted on its last two $5.5 billion pre-funding payments and projects it will miss its next payment due in September.

In a May statement, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe called ending the pre-funding requirement the “single biggest change that would have the least negative impact” of all the proposed reforms intended to save the Postal Service.

However, in January, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), based on fears that taxpayers might be asked to pick up the tab should the Postal Service “not be able to pay for some or all of its liability,” recommended that Congress should absolutely NOT end the pre-funding requirement. “USPS should pre-fund its retiree health benefit liabilities to the maximum extent that its finances permit,” said the GAO.

Service Cuts Inevitable?

While postal workers’ unions call them “counterproductive financially,” proposals to end Saturday mail delivery and eliminate almost all door-to-door service in favor of curbside and cluster box delivery are integral parts of both the House and Senate postal reform bills.

Earlier this year, Postmaster Donahoe tried to end Saturday mail delivery without the approval of Congress, but backed down shortly after the GAO reported to Congress that the Postal Service was currently “bound by law” to deliver all classes of mail six days a week.

Aware that some Democrats opposed the Senate bill’s proposed cuts in service, Sen. Coburn stressed that room for negotiation remained. “This proposal is a rough draft of an agreement subject to change that I hope will move us closer to a solution that will protect taxpayers and ensure the Postal Service can remain economically viable while providing vital services for the American people,” he said in a press release.

Burdened by the retiree health benefit pre-funding requirement and ever-decreasing mail volumes, the Postal Service has recorded stunning financial losses since 2006, topped so far by a $15.9 billion loss in 2012.

In a statement issued on August 1, Sen. Carper described the Postal Service’s condition as “dire.”

“If it were to shut down, the impact on our economy would be devastating,” Sen. Carper said. “Although the situation is dire, it isn’t hopeless. With the right tools and quick action from Congress, the Postal Service can reform, right-size and modernize.”

Also See:
Is Postal Service Snubbing Rural Americans?
5 Ways to Survive a Postal Service Shutdown

Source: About.com


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Posted in EconomyComments Off

Annual Independent Inventor Conference October 11-12 at the USPTO

The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) 18th Independent Inventor Conference will be held October 11-12, 2013. After taking place in other regions of the country for the last few years, the conference comes home to the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Va. This two-day event is tailored for prospective or established independent inventors and small business owners. Subject-matter experts from a broad spectrum of government, legal, entrepreneurial, and business development entities will deliver vital information regarding intellectual property and commerce best practices that can help attendees be better positioned for success. A special pre-conference workshop will be held the evening of October 10 to help attendees prepare to get the most out of the conference. For more information, visit the Office of Innovation Development’sĀ current events page and keep on the lookout for updates.

Source: About.com


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Posted in ScienceComments Off

Yosemite mountains and waterfalls

My Summer Plans: Exploring the US

Greetings from Portland, Oregon!

After two years of continuous travel, I’ve finally made it to the United States and it certainly feels like the perfect time to have done so.

With a heatwave sweeping across much of the country, I’ve found my transition from Southeast Asia to North America a lot easier than expected. I was slightly concerned about spending a month in Portland after being warned by practically everybody I spoke to expect rain, even in summer. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to have not experienced a single drop during the two weeks I’ve been here.

Yosemite mountains and waterfalls

With such fantastic weather, I’ve decided to make the most of it and so I’ve extended my US travels so that I can spend three months here in total.

Once I finish up in Portland in August, I’ll be jetting over to the east coast to check out New York City, Boston and Washington DC. I’ve visited New York City before, almost ten years ago, so I’m intrigued to see how I like it this time around. Boston and Washington DC will both be new cities for me to explore.

My final month in the US will be spent in the Southwest, where I’ll be driving from Phoenix to Austin. High on my list of places to see are the Grand Canyon, Saguaro National Park, White Sands National Monument and Big Bend National Park.

Apparently I really like hot weather.

I’ll be visiting a lot of brand new cities over my next couple of months in the US so I’d love to get some recommendations from you. I love quirky sights, unusual activities, hiking and great food. If you can think of anywhere I absolutely have to visit in any of these places then leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Photos © Lauren Juliff | Student Travel Blog Home

Source: About.com


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Posted in TravelComments Off

Riding a camel in Morocco

Why I Love Overland Travel

Like many things in life, travel is often more about the journey than the destination. At no time is this truer than when traveling overland – in other words, traveling without setting foot on a plane or boat.

Riding a camel in Morocco

There are many benefits to traveling overland and there are dozens of reasons why you should try it. In general, it’s much cheaper (especially with student discounts!) and better for the environment when compared to flying. Overland travel allows you to see so much more of a country, all while giving you greater opportunities to connect with locals. Some of my favorite travel memories have been formed while traveling overland.

  • Greyhound Student Discounts
  • Amtrak Student Discounts

I can’t talk about overland travel and not mention train travel – one of my favorite ways to explore a new country. Europe is probably my favorite continent when it comes to train travel. The trains are clean, modern and fast in Western Europe and cheap and full of character in Eastern Europe!

One of my favorite European train journeys was when I made my way from Germany to Turkey, passing through nine other countries along the way.

  • How Eurail passes work
  • Using a Eurail Pass in Eastern Europe

There’s no denying that I adore traveling by train but how about in countries where it’s simply not possible? There are plenty of alternatives.

I traveled across the United States by bus and drove the Great Ocean Road in Australia. I explored Morocco by camel and Southeast Asia by motorbike. No matter which form of transport I chose, I almost always had a memorable journey filled with beautiful scenery, friendly locals and a much happier wallet.

  • US buses for Student Travel

Just don’t ask me about the time my bus broke down in Northern Thailand in the middle of the night and a friendly local offered me what I thought was a bag of French fries. I gratefully popped one in my mouth just before realizing that they were, in fact, fried cockroaches.

Are you a fan of overland travel? I’d love to hear from you. Share some of your favorite overland travel experiences in the comments below!

 

Photos © Lauren Juliff | Student Travel Blog Home

Source: About.com


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Posted in TravelComments Off

Bill Would Increase Oversight of Regulations

A bill just passed by the House of Representatives would, for the first time in history, require that all major federal regulations – those posing an economic impact of $100 million or more – created by the executive branch agencies be approved by Congress.

Currently, all major and non-major federal regulations – rules with the full force and effect of law – take effect without any required review by Congress. But should the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2013, (H.R. 367) – the “REINS” Act — pass, that would change.

Sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-Indiana), the REINS Act would require that Congress pass a joint resolution approving all new federal regulations deemed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to pose a potential impact on the economy of $100 million or more before those regulations are allowed to take effect.

The REINS Act would require both chambers of Congress to pass the joint resolution approving of new major regulations within 70 legislative days. Should either the House or Senate fail to meet the 70-day deadline, the regulation would not be allowed to take effect.

That’s Longer than it Sounds: Seventy legislative days may not sound like much time, but a legislative “day” starts when Congress convenes and ends when it next adjourns for holidays, seasonal breaks or at the end of the session. Thus, a single legislative day may extend over several calendar days, weeks, or even months.

New regulations determined by the President of the United States to require immediate enactment because of an imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency, for the enforcement of criminal laws, for national security, or to implement an international trade agreement, would be allowed to take effect for 90-calendar days without the approval of Congress.

“Why is it such a bad idea to ensure that individual Americans get to weigh in — through their elected representatives — on the important details that impact their pocket books, consume their time, and govern countless aspects of their lives?” Rep. Young asked in a press release. “More Americans could stay engaged in the entire lawmaking process and could voice their concerns in a meaningful way. And politicians would be unable to hide behind so-called ‘unelected bureaucrats’ because the American people could ultimately hold Congress accountable for the rules coming out of Washington.”

According to the Government Accountability Office, in just the four years from 1996 to 1999, a total of 15,286 new federal regulations went into effect. Of these, 222 were classified as major regulations, each one having an annual effect on the economy of at least $100 million.

The REINS Act of 2013 was passed by the House in a 232 – 183 vote on August 2, and now moves on to the Senate. An identical bill passed the House in the last Congress, but was never considered by the Senate. The REINS Act of 2013 is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).

“Over the course of the next year, we’ll likely see a torrent of new regulations being issued to fill in the blanks of laws like Dodd-Frank and Obamacare,” said Young. “Those blanks exist because Congress rushed through vague legislation and left the tough decisions up to federal regulators. This has the effect of freezing an already sluggish economy, while Congress points to unelected bureaucrats as the culprits. It’s our job to create an environment where middle class incomes can grow and jobs can flourish, and the REINS Act ensures that Americans can hold their member of Congress responsible when roadblocks are placed on the path to economic recovery.

Also See: Obamacare ‘Employer Mandate’ Delayed

Opponents of the REINS Act accurately point out that most major federal regulations are issued by “safeguard” agencies like the EPA, FDA and Department of Labor, and are intended to protect the nation’s air, water, health, food supply and workplaces. Many regulations issued by these agencies address issues and hazards that pose immediate threats to the public.

Given the snail’s pace at which Congress currently deals with the legislative process, opponents argue the REINS Act would politicize the regulatory process and make it difficult, if not impossible for the safeguard agencies to enact vitally needed regulations.

Also See: Congress Took it Really Slow in 2011

The REINS Act, “would undo more than 100 years of safeguards by allowing just one chamber of Congress to block enforcement of existing statutory protections — from worker safety, to public health, to Wall Street reform,” stated the National Resource Defense Council in a press release. “This would make Congress the required arbiter of every technical question and business dispute, and would allow a single chamber of Congress to stop any regulation, no matter what the facts showed. The REINS Act would effectively rewrite virtually every environmental and other regulatory statute, making their requirements unenforceable.”

Also See: Costs and Benefits of Federal Regulations

Source: About.com


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Posted in EconomyComments Off

Homeland Security Can’t Find 1 Million Foreigners

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is unable to account for the location or status of more than 1 million foreign visitors it knows entered the U.S. but should no longer be here, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

One of the jobs of the DHS is to keep track of the millions of foreign visitors who legally enter the U.S. annually on a temporary basis either with or without a visa. Visitors who fail to leave the U.S. when legally required are called “overstays,” and DHS is supposed to identify them, find them, and take appropriate enforcement action.

However, the GAO reports that as of June 2013, the DHS admitted that in more than 1million overstay cases; it can verify arrival dates but not departure dates, meaning those foreign visitors may or may not still be in the United States.

In addition, the GAO found it unlikely that the DHS would succeed in meeting its own goal for developing a reliable bio-metric entry and exit verification and reporting system by 2016, a revelation that could pour a flood of cold water on the immigration reform bill currently being debated in Congress.

Approval of the bill’s “path to citizenship” measures is largely dependent on improved border security and development of reliable systems to monitor legal foreign U.S. entries and exits.

Also See: DHS Claims Mexico Border Security Success

“Developing and implementing a biometric exit capability to collect biometric data, such as fingerprints, which is required by federal law, has been a long-standing challenge for DHS,” wrote the GAO.

While DHS currently tracks foreign arrivals; a system to track matching departures – as required by a 1996 immigration law reauthorized in 2004 – remains long overdue. “DHS has not yet fulfilled the 2004 statutory requirement to implement a biometric exit capability, but has planning efforts under way to report to Congress in time for the fiscal year 2016 budget cycle on the costs and benefits of such a capability at airports and seaports,” wrote the GAO.

In February 2013, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told Congress that DHS would begin reporting current and accurate overstay reports by December 2013. “However,” noted the GAO, “DHS has not assessed or documented improvements in the reliability of data used to develop overstay estimates, in accordance with federal internal control standards. Without such a documented assessment to ensure the reliability of these data, decision makers would not have the information needed to use these data for policy-making purposes.”

According to the GAO, the average length of overstay in the U.S. is 2.7 years. While a majority of overstays entered the U.S. by air, 32% entered through land ports of entry, and 4% entered through seaports.

In its response to the report, DHS’s liaison to the GAO stated, “DHS remains committed to strengthening and building upon existing capabilities to better identify and report on potential overstays,” and noted it had decreased the number of unresolved overstay cases from 1.6 million in 2011 to 1 million today.

Also See:
Immigration Reform Bill’s Path to Citizenship
Immigration Reform and American Workers

Source: About.com


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Posted in EconomyComments Off

Not So Much Fun with the July Jobs Report…

The July jobs report was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, and, from what I’ve been reading, it has the media worried. The (nonfarm) U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs in June, which is better than zero (hey, at least we’re not still in a recession, right?) but below both last month’s numbers and the public’s expectations for this month.

The unemployment rate did decrease to 7.4 percent, but the slow job growth indicate that the decrease was largely due to people, most likely workers who have given up on trying to find work, dropping out of the labor force altogether. To put this in perspective, the United States currently has 11.5 million people who are looking for jobs and can’t find one and many more who have gotten discouraged due to lack of success in the labor market.

One interesting thing to note is that the labor-force participation rate declined significantly during the most recent recession and doesn’t seem to be increasing at a pace commensurate with the economic recovery, which has some economists pondering whether a smaller fraction of U.S. citizens being employed is becoming the new normal.

Source: About.com


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