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28 November

Taking a peek behind the jobless figures

Over the past several years, it seems we have been constantly reminded of fluctuation in both the national and Michigan unemployment rates. Whether its in the form of a television broadcast or a newspaper headline, the concern of widespread unemployment has been dominating. Were at a time where Michigans economy continues to gain steam, which means understanding these numbers and how they affect local workers is crucial.

Beginning in January 2009, with the community feeling the brunt of the recession, Lansings unemployment rate maintained primarily at double-digit numbers until July 2010. Michigans overall number teetered in the double-digit numbers during that period too, with a high of 14.2 percent in August of 2009.

The most recent numbers appear to be much more encouraging to both job seekers and employers, with the current Michigan rate at 7.2 percent – the lowest rate in six years. Lansings local outlook is even brighter, with the September 2014 preliminary numbers placing the area rate at 5.2 percent.

With these numbers being so vital to Michigans economy and our workforce, the question still remains – what group of people make up this number and how is this personal information collected?

Theres frequently confusion on who the unemployment rate figures actually represent. The process of calculating the monthly unemployment rate, released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on the first Friday of every month, begins by surveying large samples of both households and employers. Because counting each unemployed person in the nation every month would be nearly impossible, the Census Bureau surveys about 60,000 households chosen to represent the general US population. They are asked questions strictly based on employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics then gathers information from a representative sample of employers, comparing month-to-month employees on payroll.

From there, they calculate the amount of workers who are considered to be actively seeking work. For example, this means job seekers must be engaging in activities such as contacting potential employers, creating and sending resumes, visiting employment agencies and setting up job interviews. These are the people who are considered able-to-work and are part of the labor force. People who are not considered to be part of the labor force can range from full-time students to retirees.

The unemployment rate calculation does not factor in those who have temporarily or permanently dropped out of the labor force – more simply, those who are not actively seeking jobs. The rate also doesnt take into account people who are employed but are not employed to their full potential. This could include people who are seeking full-time employment and are working part-time jobs, workers who lack applicable skills and schooling to get a job and have given up the search and people who are working at a level below their educational standard.

The real unemployment rate, a figure different from the standard unemployment rate, takes these circumstances into consideration when calculating. The real rate has also dropped considerably since effects of the recession began to hit.

While some people have criticized the standard unemployment rate as being too broad and too inclusive, its purpose extends beyond face value. Why does it matter? The unemployment rate is not only a portrayal of the healthiness of an economy, but how people are able to act financially.

A loss or lack of wage for a worker inhibits both individuals and their families from using their purchasing power, affecting both the stimulation in Lansings local economy and the national economy. A low unemployment rate equates to people having the ability to spend money, ultimately benefiting our economy. A decrease in the unemployment rate can help motivate workers to actively seek work and encourage companies to stay and grow in Michigan. The rate also represents strength and is a symbol of progress.

Living in this time, almost every one of us has felt the full effects of the recession. We have seen the toll it has taken on co-workers, friends and neighbors. With our unemployment rates on the decline, Michigans labor force is beginning to find its footing once again – reflective of the many strides were taking toward building a prosperous economy.

28 November

Delta Dental presents scholarships to dental students

The Delta Dental of Oklahoma Oral Health Foundation announced the 12 recipients of its 2014-15 Delta Dental Scholarship Fund at the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry, recognizing five Edmond students as recipients: Daryn L. Lu, Samuel B. McNickle, Chandani J. Ragha, Christopher K. Ray and Joshua D. Woodward.

“We are pleased for the opportunity to sponsor these students and future Oklahoma dentists,” said John Gladden, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Oklahoma. “Through our partnership with the OU College of Dentistry we are able to address the growing demand for highly skilled dentists in Oklahoma, something we cannot take for granted.”

28 November

New FAO-OECD Aquaculture Study Shows Technological Advances Can Offset …

ROME – (NewMediaWire) – November 14, 2014 – Fish farming will likely grow more than
expected in the coming decade, offering a chance for improved nutrition for
millions of people, especially in Asia and Africa,
according to a new report.

Increased investment in the aquaculture sector particularly in productivity-enhancing
technologies including in the areas of water use, breeding, hatchery practices
and feedstuff innovation should boost farmed-fish production by as much as
4.14 percent per year through 2022, notably faster than the 2.54 percent growth
forecast made earlier this year in a joint report by FAO and the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development.

The primary reason for increased optimism is that there is ample room for
catching up with more productive technologies, especially in Asia, where many
fish farmers are small and unable to foot the hefty capital outlays the
industry requires to expand output without running into resource
constraints, said Audun Lem, a senior official at FAOs Fisheries and
Aquaculture Policy and Economics Division and one of the lead authors of the
120-page report.


Africa, with formidable water resources, should also host
ongoing rapid growth of more than 5 percent a year, the fastest in the world
but building on a very low current base level, according to the report.

Aquaculture is a young industry compared to livestock farming and has grown
from virtually nothing in 1950 to a record production of 66.5 million tonnes in
2012, up almost thirty-fold since 1970. About 50 percent of the $127 billion in
global fish exports in 2011 came from developing countries, which receive more
net revenue from the fish trade than from their exports of tea, rice, cocoa and
coffee combined, Lem said.

In terms of direct human consumption farmed fish in 2014 surpassed captured
fish, which reached a plateau in the mid-1980s and is expected to grow only 5
percent over the next decade thanks largely to reduced waste as well as better
gear reducing unwanted bycatch and improved fisheries management.

Global per capita fish consumption increased from 9.9 kilograms in 1970 to 19.1
kilograms in 2012, although rates vary substantially by and within regions.
Africa, Latin America and the Near East have consumption levels of around half
the global rate, while Asia, Europe and North America
all have rates of about 21 kilograms per capita.

Fish prices in 2022 will be 27 percent higher than today in FAOs baseline
scenario, but up to 20 percent lower if aquaculture expands more quickly.

Fish has a special nutritional role

Fish are the healthiest of meats, their farmed production has a far smaller
carbon footprint than livestock, and they are also huge providers of the
micronutrients people need. Beyond the energy and protein they supply, they
lower the risk of coronary heart disease and improve cardio-vascular health.
Fish are also supreme suppliers of long-chain n-3 poly unsaturated fatty acids
(LC n-3 PUFA), which are demonstrably linked to better cognitive development as
measured by reading skills up to the age of 12.

Fish is not just food, says Jogeir Toppe, a FAO officer and expert
on fish and nutrition. He cited the case of the mola, a pond fish in Bangladesh that has exceptionally
high levels of zinc and iron and Vitamin A as well as 80 times the calcium
content as tilapia. Similar pelagic species elsewhere, such as African lake
sardines, have similar micronutrient profiles, but many indigenous fish have
yet to be studied.

Those attributes are invaluable as 800,000 child deaths each year are
attributable to zinc deficiency, 250 million children worldwide are at risk of
vitamin A deficiency, and almost a third of the worlds population is iron
deficient. Seafood is also practically the only natural source of iodine.

However, the new study noted that households with rising incomes often shift
away from such humble types what the industry calls trash fish
towards fattier and filet-friendly species such as carp which are less
efficient providers of micronutrients. One reason is that the higher-status
fish are often eaten as filets while the mola
and its kin are typically eaten whole.

The highest iron, zinc and calcium content of fish lies in their heads,
bones and guts, which is often the part that gets thrown away, as with
tuna, said Toppe. Somewhat ironically, byproducts such as fish heads or
the back-bones of Nile perch whose fresh
fillets are exported may often be of higher nutritional value than the main
product, he added.

Aquaculture governance challenges lie

FAO called upon policy makers
to take such nutritional considerations aboard, especially in a phase of
growing aquaculture operations.

Maximizing the contribution of fish to
human nutrition:

Fish farming ought also to be analysed
through a broad food system lens, as it impacts a host of factors, ranging from
environmental impacts and hydropower projects through tenure rights for
smallholders, sharing systems for common-pool water resources, to the
employment of women in local retail networks, all of which involve complex
social institutions and customs.

FAOs report suggests that increased demand on fishmeal prices due to
aquacultures needs is unlikely to impact prices as alternatives, such as feed
based on vegetable proteins, will be developed to meet needs and respond to
price pressures. Such innovation is particularly important for Africa, where fish farmers rely heavily on imported
feedstuff from European countries.

A notable shift is already underway as Peruvian anchovy, Chilean mackerel and
Scandinavian herring are increasingly being used for direct human consumption
while more efficient use of other fish byproducts are being used for fish oil


Second International Conference on Nutrition

FAOs new analysis of fish production and aquaculture

Maximizing the contribution
of fish to human nutrition

High-Level Panel of
Experts report on aquaculture

FAO-OECD Agricultural
Outlook 2014-2023


News on humanitarian
response to disasters, emergencies and food security crises:


FAO YouTube Channel:


Achieving food security for
all is at the heart of FAOs efforts to make sure people have regular access
to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.Our three main
goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the
elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress
for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources,
including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of
present and future generations.

FAO creates and shares
critical information about food, agriculture and natural resources in the
form of global public goods. But this is not a one-way flow. We play a
connector role, through identifying and working with different partners with
established expertise, and facilitating a dialogue between those who have the
knowledge and those who need it. By turning knowledge into action, FAO links
the field to national, regional and global initiatives in a mutually
reinforcing cycle. By joining forces, we facilitate partnerships for food and
nutrition security, agriculture and rural development between governments,
development partners, civil society and the private sector.

An intergovernmental
organization, FAO has 194 Member Nations, two associate members and one member
organization, the European Union. Headquartered in Rome, Italy,
FAO is present in over 130 countries.


FAO Media Office
(+39) 06 570 53625

Christopher Emsden
Media Relations (Rome)
(+39) 06 570 53291

28 November

Riots break out in various areas of West Bank

A Palestinian protester kicks a burning tyre during clashes with Israeli troops near Israels controversial barrier .
(photo credit:REUTERS)

27 November

Investing in Socially Responsible Companies: Medidata Solutions Inc.

Source: Medidata Solutions

Being a socially responsible company is not a zero-sum game, where the more socially responsible you are, the worse your financial performance is, and vice versa. Profits dont go out the window when you treat the environment better. And similarly, socially responsible investing is not a zero-sum game, where the more socially responsible you are, the worse your portfolios performance is. So go ahead and consider investing in some socially responsible companies — like Medidata Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: MDSO)

In general, socially responsible investments can be quite competitive with their counterparts. A 2011 study from Harvard Business School, for example, looked at 18 years of data and found strong evidence that firms emphasizing [socially responsible] practices significantly outperform similar firms that do not, as measured by both financial and stock market returns. Meanwhile, a 2014 study by the folks at asset-management firm New Amsterdam Partners found a positive linkage between stocks with higher ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) ratings and superior returns and reduced price volatility.

At, Medidata Solutions earns above-average marks in all graded socially responsibility categories, from governance to environment. The company, like many, has an ethics code, but its CEO words his support of it especially strongly: The Companys reputation will continue to be based upon how we conduct our business and how we treat our colleagues, customers, suppliers and stockholders. Please do not take this responsibility lightly.

27 November

Resolving Conflicts: Chasing the negotiation in the dental setting

Using an interest-based approach to resolve workplace conflicts

BY Heidi Emmerling Muñoz, PhD

True or False: The best way to address a conflict at work is to compromise.

Many may be initially surprised that the answer is false. After all, compromise is a sacred Mom and apple pie concept. Each party gives up something valuable to keep the peace. But that is just the point. Compromise is a lose-lose scenario. Think of crown margins being compromised or security being compromised – this is not such a rosy scenario.

Interest-based negotiation focuses on win-win outcomes where all parties get their interests met. I first learned of this concept when I became a dental hygiene professor at Sacramento City College within the Los Rios Community College District (LRCCD) in 2007. I attended the training and was so intrigued by the concept that I became a certified interest-based approach (IBA) facilitator to help others learn these concepts. I use these principles in my position as a union delegate and as a faculty member (with colleagues, supervisors, and students). I certainly relied on these principles when I was interim director of the dental hygiene program within LRCCD.


Other articles about dental staffs

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  • Dental Showmanship: Explain the magic trick of a hygiene appointment
  • Three simple rules behind a career in dental hygiene


However, I even use these strategies informally at home (Where should we go on vacation? You want Las Vegas; I want Hawaii. Both of our interests are met if we go on a cruise – 24-hour glitz, drinking, and gambling while on the water while seeing many beaches and sunshine) or conducting personal business outside of my real job (You wont refund the purchase price? How about x, y, or z?). Anybody who negotiates in any setting should be able to incorporate IBA principles.

LRCCD has been using the interest-based approach for 21 years in all of the business dealings, and it was even used to negotiate our very solid collective bargaining contract. But it doesnt have to be used just on a large scale or for union contracts. IBA can be used when working with anyone who is earnestly interested in negotiating issues. LRCCD believes in this so strongly that it sponsors any interested employee (faculty, staff, and administrators all participate on a first name, no title basis) to attend the three-day training. The district not only covers the cost of the training; it also provides the training during normal work hours (so it pays for subs), and provides all materials (books, binders, markers, etc.), meals, and single occupancy (no room sharing) lodging to attend the training. We are a very large district, so sponsoring IBA training is a significant investment.

The concept of IBA is based on the book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury, a product of the Harvard Negotiation Project. It espouses that positional negotiation is pointless and that we should focus more on each partys interest than on each others position (see Table 1, Positions vs. Interests). What happens first is separating the people from the problem. Emotions and egos can become entangled, which adversely affects the ability to see the other partys position clearly. This results in adversarial rather than cooperative interactions.

The next step involves focusing on interests, not positions. People need to ask questions to explore others interests as well as talk about their own interests. After defining interests, brainstorming, broadening options, and looking for mutual gain are involved. Next, everyone generates objective criteria for evaluating each idea. This step involves fair standards and fair procedures. Using the objective criteria, each potential solution generated during the brainstorming is measured using the criteria developed by all parties.

The books authors address problems stemming from negotiating with those who are more powerful or who might not be negotiating in good faith. They recommend that people should prepare a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) prior to the negotiation. A BATNA is what can be done independently, without cooperation from the other party. They assert that the better the BATNA, the greater the power. If the other party isnt negotiating in good faith, then the other party should be encouraged and coached to use principled negotiation. If they continue to attack using positional bargaining, refuse to retaliate and redirect their attacks on the problem. The authors term this tactic Negotional Jujitsu, after the martial art in which the attackers blows are deflected.

27 November
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University of Pittsburgh researcher says study shows shoppers can be prompted …

Many people are trying to buy healthier foods. But, says Jeffrey Inman, a marketing professor and researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, anecdotal evidence suggests shoppers can be confused by nutritional labels. Then I began hearing about these new programs where they would take all of the nutritional facts and information and roll them up into a single number, and there was just something intrinsically interesting about that.

So Inman partnered with a Northeast grocery retailer to study the habits of 535,000 shoppers. For the next six months, the stores rolled out a single-number grading system called NuVal, which takes the nutritional information from 90,000 products and assigns a score between one and 100 (100 being the healthiest). The scores were then displayed on shelves under products in eight different categories frozen pizza, tomato products, soup, salad dressing, yogurt, spaghetti sauce, granola bars and ice cream.

Inman found that when given the single-number nutritional value, shoppers would make healthier choices and, according to the data, the healthiness of their purchases increased by 21 percent on average.

But rolling these rating systems out on a large scale could prove challenging. Inman explains food retailers and manufacturers arent likely to pay for something that could affect their profitability. If Im in the business of making healthy products, Im really into this system; but if Im not, then I probably dont want to see it.

What this shows is that these simplified nutritional systems have a positive effect on the healthiness of a shoppers basket, and thats a good thing, Inman adds. There has been talk that NuVal might turn this into an app. But my fear is that the person who would buy this app is already health-conscious, and it likely wouldnt reach the people who need it most.

27 November
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Self-driving cars: safer, but what of their morals

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A large truck speeding in the opposite direction suddenly veers into your lane.

Jerk the wheel left and smash into a bicyclist?

Swerve right toward a family on foot?

Slam the brakes and brace for head-on impact?

Drivers make split-second decisions based on instinct and a limited view of the dangers around them. The cars of the future — those that can drive themselves thanks to an array of sensors and computing power — will have near-perfect perception and react based on preprogrammed logic.

While cars that do most or even all of the driving may be much safer, accidents happen.

Its relatively easy to write computer code that directs the car how to respond to a sudden dilemma. The hard part is deciding what that response should be.

The problem is, whos determining what we want? asks Jeffrey Miller, a University of Southern California professor who develops driverless vehicle software. Youre not going to have 100 percent buy-in that says, Hit the guy on the right.

Companies that are testing driverless cars are not focusing on these moral questions.

The company most aggressively developing self-driving cars isnt a carmaker at all. Google has invested heavily in the technology, driving hundreds of thousands of miles on roads and highways in tricked-out Priuses and Lexus SUVs. Leaders at the Silicon Valley giant have said they want to get the technology to the public by 2017.

For now, Google is focused on mastering the most common driving scenarios, programming the cars to drive defensively in hopes of avoiding the rare instances when an accident is truly unavoidable.

People are philosophizing about it, but the question about real-world capability and real-world events that can affect us, we really havent studied that issue, said Ron Medford, the director of safety for Googles self-driving car project.

One of those philosophers is Patrick Lin, a professor who directs the ethics and emerging sciences group at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

This is one of the most profoundly serious decisions we can make. Program a machine that can foreseeably lead to someones death, said Lin. When we make programming decisions, we expect those to be as right as we can be.

What right looks like may differ from company to company, but according to Lin automakers have a duty to show that they have wrestled with these complex questions — and publicly reveal the answers they reach.

Technological advances will only add to the complexity. Especially when in-car sensors become so acute they can, for example, differentiate between a motorcyclist wearing a helmet and a companion riding without one. If a collision is inevitable, should the car hit the person with a helmet because the injury risk might be less? But that would penalize the person who took extra precautions.

Lin said he has discussed the ethics of driverless cars with Google as well as automakers including Tesla, Nissan and BMW. As far as he knows, only BMW has formed an internal group to study the issue.

Many automakers remain skeptical that cars will operate completely without drivers, at least not in the next five or 10 years.

Uwe Higgen, head of BMWs group technology office in Silicon Valley, said the automaker has brought together specialists in technology, ethics, social impact, and the law to discuss a range of issues related to cars that do ever-more driving instead of people.

This is a constant process going forward, Higgen said.

To some, the fundamental moral question doesnt ask about rare and catastrophic accidents but rather how to balance appropriate caution over introducing the technology against its potential to save lives. After all, more than 30,000 people die in traffic accidents each year in the United States.

No one has a good answer for how safe is safe enough, said Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor who has written extensively on self-driving cars. The cars are going to crash, and that is something that the companies need to accept and the public needs to accept.

And what about government regulators — how will they react to crashes, especially those that are particularly gruesome or the result of a decision that a person would be unlikely to make? Just four states have passed any rules governing self-driving cars on public roads, and the federal government appears to be in no hurry to regulate them.

In California, the department of motor vehicles is discussing ethical questions with companies, but isnt writing rules.

Thats a natural question that would come up and it does come up, said Bernard Soriano, the departments point man on driverless cars, of how cars should decide between a series of bad choices. There will have to be some sort of explanation.

26 November
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The love for light-duty trucks

Since the dawn of the millennium, Americas love affair with light-duty, full-size pickups has engendered something of a sea change. Their customers needs and desires, as well as enabling technological advances, have produced a battery of new design and sales trends – trends that can be summarized with one word: more.

More room. More safety and luxury features. More power. More hauling and towing capability. More four-wheel-drive purchases. More fuel economy. And more premium specialty models such as the Ford F-150 King Ranch and the Chevrolet Silverado High Country.

They [the customers] want it all, noted John Fitzpatrick, the Chevrolet Silverados marketing manager. Theres no sacrifice mentality here. They want the best of everything.

Getting more, predictably enough, means spending more. Fitzpatrick said the average cost of a light-duty pickup is an easy $10,000 more than it was a decade ago. The average transaction price of the three principal pickup brands is now in the mid-30s (the Silverado is $35,849; the F-150, $36,435, and the Ram, $33,588).

26 November
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