News From All Corners

Robots Step Into New Planting, Harvesting Roles
By Ilan Brat, The Wall Street Journal
OXNARD, Calif.—A 14-arm, automated harvester recently wheeled through rows of strawberry plants here, illustrating an emerging solution to one of the produce industry’s most pressing problems: a shortfall of farmhands. Harnessing high-powered computing, color sensors and small metal baskets attached to the robotic arms, the machine gently plucked ripe strawberries from below deep-green leaves, while mostly ignoring unripe fruit nearby.
PepsiCo to Launch Aspartame-Free Diet Pepsi in U.S.
By Anjali Athavaley and Sruthi Ramakrishnan, FOXNews
PepsiCo Inc (PEP) said it would replace its current Diet Pepsi offerings in the United States with those free of aspartame, an artificial sweetener that has come under scrutiny from health-conscious consumers. Diet Pepsi, Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi sweetened with a blend of sucralose and acesulfame potassium will begin replacing current offerings in August, the company said on Friday.
It's expensive to be poor
CNN Money
Low-income Americans are spending far more than they earn, forcing many to dip into savings, lean on family or go into debt. Those in the bottom 30% of the income scale make an average of $14,000 a year, including the value of many government benefits like food stamps or disability payments. But they spend more than $25,000, or 182%, of their annual income mostly on basic needs like housing, food and transportation, according to a CNNMoney analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Blogosphere

Identity Theft Began in the Garden of Eden
By Gary L. Selman
We are bombarded with the headlines almost daily. News reports tell us about the latest assault or breach of security for yet another retail chain, major banking or healthcare institution, or governmental agency, and the loss of sensitive, personal data for millions of people. Firewalls are hacked, passwords are stolen and confidential data and information is downloaded and passed into the hands of criminals. Hackers now have your digital picture or identity (name, address, social security number, employer, bank accounts, and passwords). Suddenly your personal financial details, medical history, employee benefits and services, checking, savings, credit card accounts, and credit rating are at risk.
To Buy or Not to Buy - The Stewardship of Consumption
By Ernest P. Liang
“The world’s largest economy grew faster in the third quarter than first estimated, capping its strongest six months in a decade, as consumers went shopping…” flashed the headline from The Bloomberg News (Nov. 26, 2014). For the U.S. economy, it is hard to under-emphasize the importance of consumer spending which accounts for fully 70 percent of the national output. For the uninitiated and the pundit alike, consumption expenditure is good recipe for arresting economic stagnation, if not a sure prescription for sustainable economic growth (and by implication, the standard of living).
The Goodness of Business
By Patrick Layhee
Most business professionals of all spiritual orientations understand the many blessings that come from a thriving business community. And a large business community it is—the Census Bureau recently published their Statistics of U.S. Businesses which reports a total count of 7.4 million U.S. business firms employing about 116 million people. [i] These businesses are contributing to an improved quality of life for their tens of millions of employees and their employees’ families. When ethical businesses thrive, everyone wins. Jobs are created, paychecks flow, and communities prosper. Wages are spent, taxes are paid, and society advances. It’s a beautiful thing.

The Legal Corner

Results-Based Reasoning
By Kyle Bryant
I want to follow up with a few thoughts related to my earlier post on King v. Burwell, the rule of law, and original sin. There, I dealt with certain legal nuances in the King v. Burwell case and extrapolated those into the broader culture. Eventually we ended up, like many times before, at the Garden of Eden. But there is more to this case—and the underlying principles—that warrants investigation. First, let's start with a question. Why was King v. Burwell so highly politicized? Statutory construction isn't one of the hot-button wedge issues between the Left and Right. Yet this case made front-page news for days. What did the media focus on? Was it methods for determining the meaning of a sentence in a statute? "Republicans are strongly committed to the historical-grammatical approach, but Democrats have been calling to use the narrative context approach." No, that didn't happen. What happened was that the media—and the political narratives—focused on the results of both possible outcomes of the case.
The Rule of Law and Original Sin
By Kyle Bryant
On March 4, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the case that will determine whether subsidies provided for under the Affordable Care Act will be available to plans purchased on the federal health care exchange. The outcome of the case could have sweeping consequences for people who relied on federal-exchange funded subsidies to pay their healthcare premiums under the ACA. Aside from the pragmatic implications on everyday citizens, the underlying issue in this case illuminates a much deeper problem in the way our country (and culture) relates to the “the law.”

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