As President Donald Trump signals America First, Indian-Americans in the Silicon Valley begin to look beyond the bubble. More than H-1B visas, it is automation that threatens to alter the dynamics for all times to come
From his hilltop perch on the eastern side, across the San Fransisco Bay, Vinod Dham has a birds-eye view of the Silicon Valley. When the lights come on, the headquarters of Google, Facebook, Apple, Uber and Intel where he once led the invention that revolutionised computing, the Pentium chip are clearly visible.
The story of Dhams journey, from chasing DTC buses in Delhi in the 1960s as an engineering student to the Fremont mansion where he lives now, is relegated to the background as software rock stars dominate the worlds digital imagination. But the mansion is testimony to his status in Silicon Valley the higher up the hills that surround the Valley your house is, the higher up you are in the pecking order of its cut-throat social hierarchy. An eight-tonne stone Buddha sculpted in Mamallapuram near Chennai sits in the garden.
It is exciting, and disconcerting, Dham says of the emerging era of computing. Disconcerting, because of the massive job losses and social displacement that is just round the corner. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not like anything that humanity has seen so far.
The spectre of automation
The argument that AI will be just another in the series of technology revolutions like machine looms, automobiles and computers that have transformed the world to what it is today, he says, is invalid. All machines that came before were static. They did not do anything by themselves. They only did what the humans manipulated them to do. When a machine begins to do things by itself, after it is taught how to learn, we are in a different age. I am not saying that the machines will take over and we all will be killed. But we are entering a different era.
The immediate disruption will be human jobs, which will have a cascading effect on other aspects of society and economy, he says. And it is not only the low-end jobs that will be displaced; the existing middle class will lose their jobs as well. One could argue that new jobs in data science, algorithms, etc. will create new jobs. But that will only be a tiny fraction of jobs that will become redundant.
The current debates on outsourcing, offshoring, trade deficit, etc. are, therefore, already redundant, according to Dham. Each country wants to make its economy strong and create jobs. But nobody seems to be talking about the elephant in the room. Which is technology taking away jobs.
Automation is stealing jobs away from humans. A lot of testing/QA work has been automated increasingly over the years with many of the immigrants and H1Bs being laid off, and more layoffs in the offshore centers overseas too. Maybe some of the racists might back off, but I won't hold my breath.
How many DUers are pursuing careers in automation or AI or robotics? After many years of always being the token US citizen in offices of hundreds of international workers, the next step is to be the token human being to manage the machines.
A lot of Americans are getting a raise this holiday weekend.
Minimum wage hikes take effect Saturday in cities, counties and states across the country.
In San Francisco and Los Angeles, the increase is a step toward a minimum wage of $15 an hour -- the "living wage" threshold that workers' rights activists have been lobbying for since 2012.
The minimum wage goes up to $14 an hour in San Francisco on Saturday, on the way to $15 next year. In Los Angeles, it rises to between $10.50 and $12, depending on the size of the business. It will hit $15 for all businesses in 2021.
"It's a lot of help," Agadette Solis, a 21-year-old IHOP hostess in Los Angeles, told CNNMoney.
She joined the Fight for $15 movement last year, and says her wages help support her two siblings and her mother, who has another baby on the way.
"Even if it's $1 or $1.50, it's more money for me to save up or spend on my siblings," Solis said. Her pay will jump from $10.50 an hour to $12.
Other parts of the country have approved more modest bumps. Maryland will raise the minimum wage from $8.75 to $9.25 this weekend, then up to $10.10 next year.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Congress hasn't raised it in 10 years.
Here's where workers will get a boost on Saturday, and how much they'll start making.
Licensed prostitutes in Nevada are organizing against legislation they say will devastate them, other prostitutes across the nation and their families.
(CNN)Adding a voice to the chorus against the Republican-led American Health Care Act is a group not usually heard on protest frontlines: prostitutes.
Licensed prostitutes in Nevada, working in legal brothels, are organizing against legislation they say will devastate them, other prostitutes across the nation and their families.
With Obamacare (Affordable Care Act), now under threat of being repealed and replaced, "thousands of prostitutes nationwide were, for the first time, able to obtain affordable health care insurance for themselves and their families," said a press release issued Thursday.
So, dubbing itself "Hookers for Health Care," this group plans to go "on a political offensive ... lobbying politicians, protesting in the streets, and waging battle on social media to stop the Republican effort."
At the helm is Alice Little, 27, who works near Carson City at Dennis Hof's Sagebrush Ranch brothel. She thinks about the cuts being proposed, the slashes to coverage for things like pregnancies and eating disorders and is outraged by the toll it will take on women.
Maybe this will get their attention? Republicans wouldn't want to lose the only women willing to be with them.
Follow up to this thread: https://www.democraticunderground.com/1018962185
And a friendly reminder that the IRS will NEVER call you and ask for money over the phone.
Always verify who is calling you.
Without seasonal staff from abroad, many small businesses cant stay open
Kate Bridges should be waiting tables right now. Shes been a server at the lauded farm-to-table restaurant at the Pentagoet Inn in Castine, Maine, for six years, making enough during the summer season to carry her through the year. But in early June she was answering the phone at the inn, telling callers that the restaurant was closed for the foreseeable future.
We depend on that income, she says. If the restaurant doesnt open, I dont know exactly what Ill do. But if we dont have cooks, then we dont have a restaurant.
The Pentagoet is the oldest continually running business in the tiny coastal community of Castine. Like a lot of seasonal businesses, it has long relied on a federal program that provides temporary visas to low-skilled foreign workers. They come from all over the world, typically for six-month stretches, to take jobs that employers say theyre otherwise unable to fill. In the Pentagoets case, thats meant six women from Jamaica (about a fifth of the total staff) who work in housekeeping and in the kitchen. Some have come every year for almost a decade, but this year, because of changes to the H-2B visa program, theyre staying home.
Congress failed to extend H-2Bs returning worker exemption when it expired in late 2016, reducing the number of visas by half, to 66,000 nationwide. Congress passed a measure this spring that would have doubled the number of visas available. But the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the program, didnt act. In an open hearing on May 25, DHS Secretary John Kelly was asked about the delay by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, where the seasonal fishing industry relies on temporary workers.
This is one of those things that I really wish I didnt have discretion over, Kelly told Murkowski. He said his agency was still consulting with the Department of Labor and planning to release more visas, though he refused to say when or how many. For every senator and congressman that has your view, I have another one that says, Dont you dare, this is about American jobs,? he said.
Many economists argue that rather than taking jobs from Americans, temporary workers support the creation of higher-paying positions for U.S. citizens. I dont think that people who talk about defending American jobs with this policy have ever looked into the economics of it, says Giovanni Peri, chair of the economics department at the University of California at Davis. Theyve never analyzed how local economies grow. Peri says the low-skilled jobs that H-2B workers fill act as a complement to higher-wage management positions, and that when you reduce the supply of one type, you reduce the creation of the other. With the unemployment rate around 4 percent, he says the notion that Americans will fill these low-skilled positions is unrealistic. I think this is one example in which the rhetoric is hitting reality, he says.
Americans should jump on this opportunity to steal jobs away from foreign workers. Why won't Americans do housekeeping or kitchen work?
On a related note, I worked in IT services contracting in a large American city during the deepest depths of the recession and was amazed at how few resumes we got from US citizens who won't even apply for white collar jobs developing and testing software for our federal government at decent wages and benefits. Hundreds of foreign workers applied though. Both visas and green cards. It was an American company.
(CNN)When Jeffrey Kivi's rheumatologist changed affiliations from one hospital in New York City to another, less than 20 blocks uptown, the price his insurer paid for the outpatient infusion he got about every 6 weeks to control his arthritis jumped from $19,000 to over $100,000. Same drug; same dose -- though, Kivi noted, the pricier infusion room had free cookies, Wi-Fi and bottled water.
Mary Chapman, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, started taking a then-new drug called Avonex in 1998, which belongs to a class of drugs called disease-modifying therapies. Approved in 1996, Avonex was expensive, about $9,000 a year. Today, two decades later, it's no longer the latest thing -- but its annual price tag is over $62,000.
Marvina White's minor elective outpatient surgery to remove an annoying cyst on her hand was scheduled in 2014 based on her doctor's availability. Because it was booked in a small facility that is formally classified as a hospital (with two operating rooms and 16 "spacious private suites" rather than the outpatient surgery center where the doctor also practiced, the operating room fee was $11,000 rather than $2,000.
Len Charlap had two echocardiograms -- sonograms of the heart -- within a year: One, for $1,714, involved extensive testing at a Harvard training hospital; the other, for $5,435, was a far briefer exam at a community hospital in New Jersey.
It is not just that US healthcare is expensive, with price tags often far higher than those in other developed countries. We know that. At this point, Americans face astronomical prices that quite simply defy the laws of economics and -- as each of the above patients noted when they contacted me -- of decency and common sense.
'The balance sheet just doesn't work out'
"It's the prices, stupid."
Phone scams may be getting more and more clever by the day, but one office full of phony IRS agents made a decidedly dumb move when they called a computer programmer who happens to specialize in scam prevention.
The programmer and Redditor, who goes by the username YesItWasDataMined, but operates an anti-scam operation called Project Mayhem, received a voicemail from someone claiming to be an IRS employee. When he called them back and was asked to pay a massive fine for unclear reasons, he knew immediately that he was being had and came up with a genius way to pull the plug on them. He wrote a script that called each of their phones 28 times per second with an automated message, tying up their lines and making it impossible to reach other potential victims.
The actual IRS recently published a report declaring these kinds of schemes a major threat to taxpayers, and estimates that over 10 thousand victims have been affected since 2013, collectively being defrauded of more than 54 million dollars.
Project Mayhems official YouTube channel now proudly features a hilarious 10-minute sample of the havoc wreaked upon the unfortunate scammers, which has already gained over 1 million views. Watch it below, and always remember to protect yourself against any suspicious requests for your private information.
Beautiful satisfying video at the link. It's worth watching the whole thing. I've reported scammers to the FCC but this programmer takes it up to 11 and beyond.
There are legitimate IRS employees and contractors with foreign accents, but they won't call you about paying fines.
Original Youtube Video:
H1B visa issue did not figure during the talks between Narendra Modi and Donald Trump
Washington: The H1B visa issue that was looming on the India-US relationship in the run up to Prime Minister Narendra Modis maiden meeting with President Donald Trump did not figure in the talks between the two leaders.
With the Trump administration undertaking a review of the H1B visa, the most sought-after by Indian IT professionals, the issue had taken centre stage ahead of Modis US visit with the issue expected to figure prominently in bilateral discussions.
However, the H1B issue specifically did not figure in the talks with foreign secretary S. Jaishankar telling reporters that there was a lot of discussion with business leaders and the two leaders about the digital partnership when asked about whether H1B visa issue figured in the talks.
There is recognition that the Indian-American community has played an extraordinary role in building this relationship. When you value something it is obvious that you will take care of what you value, Jaishankar said.
They're both pro-business and anti-Muslim. Both claim to support infrastructure and create jobs without actually doing anything about it. And most important of all, both issue impulsive and idiotic policy decisions with no thought to the consequences or planning for the implementation. And they have deplorable supporters. They have a lot in common.
So why won't our big strong master negotiator business genius tell his counterpart it's time for our country to reform work visas like H1Bs to level the playing field for American workers? Hmmm.....
Sleeping on a plane is hard enough. Its worse when a fellow passenger mocks you on Snapchat the whole time and suggests youre a terrorist.
Thats what a Sikh worshipper en route to Indianapolis had to endure last week. Screenshots of the posts are sparking outrage on Twitter.
The prejudiced posts were made by an unidentified man, but were captured for posterity by Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, an assistant professor in the religion department at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
The flight apparently landed without incident, but Dr. Singhs screenshots of the xenophobic remarks are striking a chord on Twitter, having received more than 7,200 retweets and 8,600 likes since Thursday.
Singh said the types of reactions exemplified by the Snapchat poster are typical.
Pics and video at the link. Deplorables making America stupid again
Some may remember the 2000s martial arts film Romeo Must Die, featuring action star Jet Li and late R&B singer Aaliyah as star-crossed lovers amidst police corruption and family secrets. In the final scene, after defeating the bad guy in a ring of fire and facing his father in a dramatic confrontation, Li finds Aaliyah outside waiting for him and goes in for a hug.
For an adaptation based on the greatest love story of all time, the ending was pretty disappointing. Just a hug?! After all, the 1996 adaptation Romeo + Juliet had multiple kiss scenes between Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, from the make-out scene in the elevator to the famous pool scene, eventually leading to them having sex later in the film. Even more disappointing, however, is learning that the original ending had Li kissing Aaliyah, but was later re-filmed because the scene had been received so poorly by the test audience.
The reason? The audience was reportedly uncomfortable with "seeing an Asian man portrayed in a sexual light. In other words, the decision wasnt only lousyit was racially motivated.
Silicon Valley actor Kumail Nanjianis romantic comedy The Big Sick comes out in theaters today, and has already attracted attention for casting the Pakistani-born Nanjiani, who co-wrote the film with his wife Emily V. Gordon, as the male lead. Nanjiani plays a struggling stand-up comedian, also named Kumail, and meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his shows. After a one-night stand, the two begin datingdespite the fact that his parents want him to marry a Pakistani Muslim girla secret he tries to keep on both sides. Based on Nanjiani and Gordons real-life romance, the story explores themes of family, tradition, and culture.
While Nanjiani told Complex that he didnt intend to make The Big Sick as a political statement, the fact remains that its existence is a breakthrough in the tired, long running narrative of the Asian American guy not getting the girl, particularly if shes outside his race.
Movie trailer at the link
I can imagine what is going on in the mind of a deplorable: These people come over here to steal our jobs, pretend to be US citizens, and now they have the audacity to steal our daughters(or sons) too!?!?!?!
Good old Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III's daughter married an Asian man. Jeff even brought out his grandkids to prove that he's not racist!
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About IronLionZionIf an H-1b has an American accent, they are probably not an H-1b. It's race, not citizenship. Americans are more diverse than you think. Millions of US citizens don't look the way you might expect. This fact is very important and will help us win elections.
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