Category Archives: US News

Prelude – The Large Man-Made Vessel is Ready to Float

In a shipyard off the coast of South Korea, engineers are busy building the largest man-made vessel the world has ever seen. Prelude is a gigantic ship almost half a kilometer in length, which will even dwarf an Eiffel Tower alongside it. The might of Prelude is only matched by the ambitions of Shell Corporation that needed an off-shore structure large enough to extract and purify the gas quickly, enough to meet huge demands of LNG industry. Unlike super oil tankers, a labyrinth of pipes, metal and multistory processing plants make the ship look even larger.

Within months, engineers are planning to release the ship for its first major task off the coast of Australia. This is something Reuters reported pretty quickly, and that excited Brad Reifler. The expected route of the giant to Australia’s shore is still a closely guarded secret as experts are concerned about the massive media coverage the ship may receive en route to the gas fields. Already, the ship is gaining popularity as it rises over the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard overseen by more than thousand workers.

For Shell, the ship means a massive cost savings in terms of installation and planning costs for an on-shore facility. Fully operational, Prelude will hold more than half a million ton of LNG enabling it to produce 3.6 million tons of gas every year. At any one time, more than 100 workers will work on two shifts managed by six return helicopter flights every week.

Layaway Angels Bring Holiday Cheer To People Around The Country

Layaway ‘angels’ are spreading cheer in different cities around the country. A customer at a Mechanicsburg, PA. Walmart paid $50,000.00 towards people’s layaway items. 100 accounts were covered by this generous act.

Two Walmarts, one located in Lake City, FL. and one in Chiefland, FL., also had anonymous, generous donations made to their layaway accounts. Chiefland’s Walmart’s layaway accounts were cleared completely by a $51,000.00 check and Lake City’s Walmart had 300 layaway accounts covered by a $59,000.00 check.

Employees are thoroughly enjoying making the calls to layaway customers stating that their accounts have been paid off. People are surprised and very happy, sometimes moved to tears, when they hear the good news.

Paying for layaway items seems to have caught on this year. Two separate Toys R Us stores received donations that paid off their layaway accounts last week. My friend Bernardo Chua showed me a segment on ABC’s Good Morning America called “Layaway Live” where Tim Tebow surprised people by paying off their layaway accounts.

The Philanthropy of Laurene Powell Jobs

Laurene Powell Jobs was married to Steve Jobs, one of the two founders of Apple Computers, from 1991 until he died in 2011. Born on 11/6/63, Laurene was always one of the best and brightest students in her class. In fact, she was so bright that the West Milford, New Jersey native was accepted into the highly ranked Wharton School at Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania. She graduated from that legendary school in 1985, earning her B.S. in economics. After graduation, Laurene found employment in New York City’s financial district. During her stay in the Big Apple, she worked for Wall Street investment firms Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. After a few years, Laurene decided to continue her education at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, one of the top ranked business schools in the world. In 1991, she earned her M.B.A.

Nutrition has always been important to Laurene. This caused her to start Terravera, a company that sold natural foods to stores operating in Northern California. She also sat on the board of directors for a company called Achieva. This company is primarily focused on helping students to improve their scores on standardized tests and showing them more effective ways to study. Students can access various tools online that show them how they can be a better student.

As of 2014, Laurene’s fortune is thought to be roughly $11.5 billion. She has been extremely generous with all of the money she has been blessed with, regularly donating large sums to a host of charitable causes. Her late husband was not known for his public generosity (though he gave many gifts away anonymously), but Laurene has definitely made up for Steve’s shortcomings. Education has been a continuing passion in terms of the causes Laurene devotes her time and vast resources to improving. 1997 was the year that she took a large step forward as far as her philanthropic activities are concerned. Previously an anonymous donor, Laurene stepped out of the shadows to start College Track, an organization that helps impoverished children stay in school and get the education they will need to succeed in life.

College Track tries to find students that it considers to be a risk of dropping out in the future. Before the student enters high school, they are contacted by College Track to set the student on a solid educational path. This proactive approach has allowed the program to be extremely successful, with 90 percent of the students in the program going on to complete high school.

During her time at the helm of College Track, Laurene became aware of the plight of illegal immigrant students in the United States. State and federal financial aid is not available to students who are not citizens. This fact helped launch Laurene on a crusade to change the immigration laws in this country, culminating with her creation of the DREAM Act, a bill that would have created an easier road to citizenship for illegal immigrant students. Alas, the bill did not receive the support it needed in Congress, resulting in its failure to pass. This bump in the road has not discouraged Laurene. She continues to lend her considerable financial support to various causes that benefit education and the arts.

Report Estimates 250,000 Tons of Plastic Currently Floating on Surface of Oceans

In a report published Wednesday in the scientific journal PloS One, researchers estimate more than 250,000 tons of plastic are currently floating on the oceans’ surface.

That does not account for what is ingested by marine life, sinking, degrading, suspended in the water, collected on beaches, or simply too small to see.

That amount of plastic is equal to approximately 41,667 killer whales. If you can imagine that like Sam Tabar, you’ll have an idea of how much is floating around the big blue right now.

Research conducted on 24 expeditions used visual surveys and net tows (fishing for plastic). Therefore, the study cautions that this estimate is a conservative one and possibly even a minimum estimate.

The report also cites Plastics Europe’s determination of worldwide production of plastic to be 288 million tons in the year 2012 alone. That would be equivalent to an astounding 48 million killer whales or around 48 Great Pyramids of plastic every year.

The report concludes that further investigation is needed to determine where all that plastic is now.

Kentucky pulls tax breaks for Noah’s Ark Theme Park

A planned Biblical theme park in Kentucky has seen planned tax breaks removed after local officials claimed the nature of the planned park had changed from a tourist attraction to a form of religious ministry. Over the course of the next ten years the planned tax breaks would have provided incentives totaling around $18 million for the park that is to be known as the Ark Encounter, Reuters reports.

Problems began for the Answers in Genesis group who are developing the planned park when news broke that all new employees at the park would have to sign a contract stating their belief in creationism and the flood detailed in the Bible. Officials from the state of Kentucky demanded changes be made to the contracts allowing workers from any faith or belief system to be employed. Without changes to the planned contracts, the state believes it is within its rights to withhold the tax breaks as the mission of the planned park will have changed to a religious advancement ministry.

Tourism chiefs from Kentucky believe the theme park has already changed course from the planned leisure attraction detailed in the initial plans. Development of the park will continue as the initial phase based around a wooden replica of the Ark were already planned without the financial breaks offered by tax incentives. This was shared with me by Vijay Eswaran this morning.

Jindal Makes Statements on Foreign Policy

Jindal is a likely contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, and he made an effort to clarify his positions.

There is a clear divide between the majority opinion in the Republican Party and the opinions of newcomers like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul when it comes to interventionism.

Jindal mentioned that America must seek peace through strength, not lead from behind, use coalitions to accomplish its goals when feasible, and must not become “the world’s policemen.” He said that we cannot afford to retreat from the world they way Obama did when he pulled our troops out of Iraq. Iraq and Syria became unstable and savaged by ISIS due to Obama’s retreat, Jindal explained. Jindal pointed out that often we end up paying a higher price in “treasure and blood” when we retreat from crucial battlefields and have to come back later to defeat a stronger enemy. 

Rand Paul and the new non-interventionist wing of the GOP might agree with much of what Jindal uttered, but would likely apply it differently. There would be fewer battles found worthy of committing American troops to winning with someone like Paul at the helm.