Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fewer US banks failing as industry strengthens

WASHINGTON (AP) ? U.S. banks are ending the year with their best profits since 2006 and fewer failures than at any time since the financial crisis struck in 2008. They're helping support an economy slowed by high unemployment, flat pay, sluggish manufacturing and anxious consumers.

As the economy heals from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, more people and businesses are taking out ? and repaying ? loans.

And for the first time since 2009, banks' earnings growth is being driven by higher revenue ? a healthy trend. Banks had previously managed to boost earnings by putting aside less money for possible losses.

Signs of the industry's gains:

? Banks are earning more. In the July-September quarter, the industry's earnings reached $37.6 billion, up from $35.3 billion a year earlier. It was the best showing since the July-September quarter of 2006, long before the financial meltdown. By contrast, at the depth of the Great Recession in the last quarter of 2008, the industry lost $32 billion.

? Banks are lending a bit more freely. The value of loans to consumers rose 3.2 percent in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30 compared with the previous 12 months, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. More lending fuels more consumer spending, which drives about 70 percent of economic activity. At the same time, overall lending remains well below levels considered healthy over the long run.

? Fewer banks are considered at risk of failure. In July through September, the number of banks on the FDIC's confidential "problem list" fell for a sixth straight quarter. These banks numbered 694 as of Sept. 30 ? about 9.6 percent of all federally insured banks. At its peak in the first quarter of 2011, the number of troubled banks was 888, or 11.7 percent of all federally insured institutions.

? Bank failures have declined. In 2009, 140 failed. In 2010, more banks failed ? 157 ? than in any year since the savings and loan crisis of the early 1990s. In 2011, regulators closed 92. This year, the number of failures has trickled to 51. That's still more than normal. In a strong economy, an average of only four or five banks close annually. But the sharply reduced pace of closings shows sustained improvement.

? Less threat of loan losses. The money banks had to set aside for possible losses fell 15 percent in the July-September quarter from a year earlier. Loan portfolios have strengthened as more customers have repaid on time. Losses have fallen for nine straight quarters. And the proportion of loans with payments overdue by 90 days or more has dropped for 10 straight quarters.

"We are definitely on the back end of this crisis," says Josh Siegel, chief executive of Stonecastle Partners, a firm that invests in banks.

The biggest boost for banks is the gradually strengthening economy. Employers added nearly 1.7 million jobs in the first 11 months of 2012. More people employed mean more people and businesses can repay loans. And after better-than-expected economic news last week, some analysts said the economy could end up growing faster in the October-December quarter ? and next year ? than previously thought.

That assumes Congress and the White House can strike a budget deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" ? the steep tax increases and spending cuts that are set to kick in Jan. 1. If they don't reach a deal, those measures would significantly weaken the economy.

Banks have also been bolstered by higher capital, their cushion against risk. Banks boosted capital 3.8 percent in the third quarter, FDIC data show. And the industry's average ratio of capital to assets reached a record high.

On the other hand, many banks are no longer benefiting from record-low interest rates. They still pay almost nothing to depositors and on money borrowed from other banks or the government. But steadily lower rates on loans other than credit cards have reduced how much banks earn.

"This interest-rate pressure on the banks becomes very difficult to overcome," says Fred Cannon, chief equity strategist and director of research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. "It's a big headwind for banks."

Many banks have reported lower net interest margin ? the difference between the income they receive from loans and the interest they pay depositors and other lenders. It's a key measure of a bank's profitability.

The industry's average net interest margin fell to 3.43 percent in the third quarter from 3.56 percent a year earlier.

Some big banks have also cautioned that their earnings are up mainly because they've shed jobs, bad loans and weak businesses rather than because of an improved economy. They include JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. All managed to recover from the financial crisis in part because of federal aid.

Small and midsize banks have taken longer to rebound. They held risky commercial real estate loans used to develop malls, industrial sites and apartment buildings. Many such loans weren't repaid. But as the economy has strengthened, fewer such loans have soured, and many small and medium-size banks have recovered.

For example, at M&T Bank Corp., a regional institution based in Buffalo, N.Y., net income soared in the third quarter. M&T attributed its gain to reduced loan losses and higher mortgage revenue. The bank repaid the remaining $381 million of the $600 million in bailout aid it had received during the crisis.

Yet analysts say regional banks are still feeling squeezed from reduced borrowing by companies.

Many banks complain they've been hampered by new regulations, especially stricter requirements for the capital they must hold to protect against unexpected losses. Rules enacted after the crisis have compelled some banks to move more capital into reserves and reduce the amount available to lend.

Some of the biggest banks say their customers have held off on borrowing in part because of slower global growth and concern about the "fiscal cliff."

To avoid a collapse, some weak banks have sought mergers with larger institutions. In the July-September quarter, 49 banks were absorbed in mergers, up from 45 in the April-June quarter, FDIC data show.

The torrent of failures after the crisis and the increased mergers have thinned the number of banks to 7,181 with about 2.1 million employees as of Sept. 30. That compares with 8,451 banks with 2.2 million employees in the second quarter of 2008.

"The pressure is on to consolidate the industry," says Siegel of Stonecastle Partners. He thinks more than 1,000 banks will be absorbed within five to seven years.

Consider BancTrust Financial Group Inc., based in Mobile, Ala., with around $1.3 billion in assets. Burdened with bad loans tied to Florida real estate, the bank couldn't repay $50 million in federal bailout aid it received during the meltdown, and it struggled to stay profitable. So it decided to put itself up for sale.

It's now being acquired by Trustmark Corp in Mississippi, which has about $9.9 billion in assets. The acquisition will help Trustmark expand in Florida and Alabama.

"Some of the smaller (banks) are just throwing up the flag," says Cornelius Hurley, a former counsel to the Federal Reserve Board who heads Boston University's Center for Finance, Law and Policy.


To see a list of Bank failures in 2012, view this interactive:


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?boob squeezing? helps prevent breast cancer? - BlackMediaSCOOP

(BlackMediaScoop) Oh lawwd just what everyone teenage boy and MAN have been dreaming about? According to a new study, squeezing breasts can prevent cancer.

More specifically, the, research from UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that mechanical force can stop the rapid growth of cancer cells as well as guide them back to a normal, healthy growth pattern.

There were no boobs squeezed in the study. It was a cell culture experiment, not an experiment on boobs or on people with breast cancer. While a study that involves boob squeezing probably sounds fun to our male readers freaks :) , that?s not what this study was about.

The headlines all took the ?boob squeezing is good,? angle, though the researchers specifically stateS: ?Compression, in and of itself, is not likely to be a therapy.?

The reports say ?prevent breast cancer? when the study shows nothing of the sort ? it shows that under cell culture conditions, application of manual forces can change the breast cancer cells.

Actual breast cancer is much much more complicated than cells growing in a dish.

BOTTOMSCOOP: Don?t just let men grab ya boobs and claim it?s ?for science.?





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Friday, December 28, 2012

Huawei Ascend D2 reportedly spied while switched on, teases an upscale look

Huawei Ascend D2 reportedly spied while switched on

Huawei has already confirmed that we're going to see its extra-large Ascend D2 at CES, but that doesn't mean a sneak peek is unwelcome. ITHome is more than willing to sate our curiosity with a set of photos that purportedly show a fully functional version of the 5-inch smartphone. In a sense, we know what to expect from the software: the D2 appears to be using the same customized Android layer as the even larger Ascend Mate, just without that fifth column of icons. The shots do, however, suggest that Huawei is going for a design as premium-looking on the outside as it is high-powered on the inside. Not much else is known, but we'll likely understand Huawei's fuller ambitions in Las Vegas next month.

Filed under: ,


Via: Android Central

Source: ITHome (translated)


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PFT: Gronkowski practicing, but?still 'not ready yet'


Well, it?s officially over.

With an eight-game gap and one week of games left, MDS and yours truly disagree on only five games.? Which means that, even if MDS sweeps, I?ll still be three games ahead.? (Math continues to be my strong suit.)

Of course, if I sweep I?ll finish with a 13-game lead.? And based on the five disagreements, I think I will.

Read on to see our picks and our takes for the final week of the regular season.? It all re-sets to 0-0 for the playoffs, at which time MDS will have a chance to exact revenge.? Or to fail again.

Last week, I was 11-5 and MDS went 10-6.? For the year, I?m now at 157-82-1, good for 65.4 percent.? MDS is 149-90-1, which keeps him at 62.0 percent.

Buccaneers at Falcons

MDS?s take: The Falcons wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but they say they?re playing to win in Week 17. They shouldn?t have much trouble winning against the Bucs, who have collapsed at the end of the season.

MDS?s pick: Falcons 34, Buccaneers 13.

Florio?s take:? The Bucs haven?t been the same team since they nearly beat the Falcons in Tampa.? The Falcons are still trying to prove that they?re one of the best teams in the league.

Florio?s pick:? Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17.

Jets at Bills

MDS?s take: Football fans, the Greg McElroy-Ryan Fitzpatrick quarterback matchup you?ve all been waiting for is finally here. Fitzpatrick will throw a couple of touchdown passes in what may be his final start in Buffalo.

MDS?s pick: Bills 20, Jets 10.

Florio?s take:? The Jets have folded the tents, even though the circus is still in town.? Buffalo celebrates the news of a new lease with a home win to end the season, just in time for plenty of changes.

Florio?s pick:? Bills 27, Jets 14.

Ravens at Bengals

MDS?s take: At first glance this might look like a big game, matching up two playoff teams. But with the Bengals locked into the No. 6 seed and the Ravens highly likely to end up with the No. 4 seed, neither of these teams has a lot to play for. I think the Ravens, however, will be a little more motivated to build on the momentum from last week?s win over the Giants and will take this one.

MDS?s pick: Ravens 21, Bengals 14.

Florio?s take:? This meaningless game has plenty of meaning for the Bengals, who need to convince themselves that they can beat the Ravens, in order to obtain the confidence that they can do something else they haven?t done in an even longer time ? win in the playoffs.

Florio?s pick:? Bengals 27, Ravens 20.

Bears at Lions

MDS?s take: In 2000, the Lions were 9-6 heading into Week 17 and needed only to beat the 4-11 Bears to make the playoffs. Instead, the Bears pulled the upset and Lions owner William Clay Ford cleaned house and began the disastrous Matt Millen era. This year it?s the 9-6 Bears who need to beat the 4-11 Lions to have a shot at the playoffs. I?ll take the Lions to get their revenge in an upset.

MDS?s pick: Lions 28, Bears 24.

Florio?s take:? Rodney Harrison declared while watching the Lions lose to the Falcons that Detroit?s body language suggests the Lions have quit.? The Bears haven?t.? Sometimes, it?s that easy.

Florio?s pick:? Bears 24, Lions 10.

Texans at Colts

MDS?s take: The Texans are playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Colts are already locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC. Houston has more to play for and is a better team and will win this one going away.

MDS?s pick: Texans 36, Colts 17.

Florio?s take:? The Texans have never won in Indianapolis.? They need it this time more than ever.? But the Colts will have coach Chuck Pagano back, and even if the Colts leave so much on the field that it will make it harder to win in the playoffs, they?ll leave it all on the field to beat the Texans.

Florio?s pick:? Colts 27, Texans 23.

Packers at Vikings

MDS?s take: This is the biggest game played in Minnesota since Brett Favre led the Vikings to a divisional playoff win over the Cowboys three years ago. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, they?re hosting a Packers team that?s peaking at the right time. I like Aaron Rodgers to lead the Packers to a high-scoring win.

MDS?s pick: Packers 35, Vikings 27.

Florio?s take:? The Vikings are playing for a postseason berth.? The Packers are playing for a bye.? The Packers remain the better team, and they have every reason to demonstrate that on Sunday.? To the delight of the Bears.

Florio?s pick:? Packers 34, Vikings 21.

Dolphins at Patriots

MDS?s take: A win probably won?t be enough to earn New England a first-round playoff bye, but the Patriots will be motivated to try ? and to wash out the bad taste of back-to-back disappointing performances, in a loss to the 49ers and a close win over the Jaguars.

MDS?s pick: Patriots 41, Dolphins 14.

Florio?s take:? The Pats still have a crack at a bye.? That?s all the incentive they need to take out the Dolphins for the second time this month.

Florio?s pick:? Patriots 34, Dolphins 17.

Panthers at Saints

MDS?s take: It?s a meaningless game for both teams, but that doesn?t make it a bad game: Both of these teams have been playing good football in recent weeks, despite falling short of the playoffs. I like the Panthers to keep their winning streak going and make a statement that they?re a team to keep an eye on in 2013.

MDS?s pick: Panthers 24, Saints 21.

Florio?s take:? New Orleans is trying to finish on a high note.? And they are succeeding.

Florio?s pick:? Saints 34, Panthers 10.

Eagles at Giants

MDS?s take: The Eagles quit on Andy Reid months ago. The Giants have looked in the last couple weeks like they quit on Tom Coughlin. Both of these teams are slouching toward the end of the season, but the Giants have more to play for.

MDS?s pick: Giants 14, Eagles 10.

Florio?s take:? The Giants are playing for pride, along with a sliver of hope that they could make it to the playoffs if enough other teams lose.? If the Giants find a way in, there?s a pretty good chance they won?t lose again.

Florio?s pick:? Giants 27, Eagles 20.

Browns at Steelers

MDS?s take: This game is meaningless, and I?m tempted to pick the Browns on the theory that the Steelers will be feeling a hangover from their disappointing Week 16 loss. But the Browns have gone in the tank over the last couple of weeks, and at this point I?m not sure I?d pick them to win on the road against anyone.

MDS?s pick: Steelers 17, Browns 9.

Florio?s take:? The Browns haven?t swept the Steelers since 1988, 11 years before the current edition of the Browns was born.? With rampant changes looming in Cleveland, the Steelers still have enough gas in the tank to avoid getting punked by the franchise they?ve owned since 1999 (even though the Browns are now technically owned by a guy who still owns a chunk of the Steelers).

Florio?s pick:? Steelers 20, Browns 10.

Jaguars at Titans

MDS?s take: Last time the Titans suffered a humiliating blowout loss and were called out by their owner, they responded by winning the next game. I think they?ll do it again.

MDS?s pick: Titans 24, Jaguars 14.

Florio?s take:? Bud Adams isn?t happy with his coaching staff.? He?ll be slightly less unhappy after Sunday, but still unhappy enough to clean house.

Florio?s pick:? Titans 27, Jaguars 16.

Chiefs at Broncos

MDS?s take: Knowing they need to win in order to earn a first-round playoff bye, the Broncos will pound the Chiefs, who have nothing to play for other than the first pick in next year?s draft ? which Kansas City will earn by losing.

MDS?s pick: Broncos 27, Chiefs 10.

Florio?s take:? With 10 straight wins each by at least seven points, the Broncos could be the best team in the playoff field.? They?re definitely good enough to continue chasing a bye week.

Florio?s pick:? Broncos 34, Chiefs 10.

Raiders at Chargers

MDS?s take: With Norv Turner virtually assured of being fired after the game, his team will send him out a winner in an AFC West contest that doesn?t really matter for much of anything.

MDS?s pick: Chargers 24, Raiders 10.

Florio?s take:? Norv Turner has one last chance to change the owner?s mind.? It won?t matter.

Florio?s pick:? Chargers 24, Raiders 10.

Cardinals at 49ers

MDS?s take: San Francisco will shake off Sunday night?s thrashing in Seattle to clinch the NFC West.

MDS?s pick: 49ers 28, Cardinals 3.

Florio?s take:? The Niners are on the brink of squandering the NFC West title that we were ready to hand them back in September.? If they can?t beat the Cardinals and Brian Hoyer at home, San Fran doesn?t even deserve to be in the playoffs.

Florio?s pick:? 49ers 31, Cardinals 13.

Rams at Seahawks

MDS?s take: No one wants to play the Seahawks right now. They?re destroying everything in their paths. The Rams will be no different.

MDS?s pick: Seahawks 45, Rams 7.

Florio?s take:? The Seahawks, who lost their first round of NFC West games, have been exacting revenge in a big way.? They finish the job on Sunday.

Florio?s pick:? Seahawks 41, Rams 17.

Cowboys at Redskins

MDS?s take: In the biggest game of the day, the Cowboys will ride Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to a high-scoring win. I suspect that Robert Griffin III is hurting more than he?s letting on and won?t be able to move as effectively as he did in the Redskins? Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys. Dallas will take the NFC East crown.

MDS?s pick: Cowboys 31, Redskins 28.

Florio?s take:? For the second straight year, the NFC East title game returns to prime time in Week 17.? For the second straight year, the home team advances.? For the second straight year, the Cowboys come up short.

Florio?s pick:? Redskins 24, Cowboys 21.


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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Obama's 2nd inauguration to draw smaller crowds

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Visitors coming to the nation's capital for President Barack Obama's second inauguration can't stay in the one place President Ronald Reagan's family once called an eight-star hotel. That spot is the White House, and it's booked for the next four years.

Still, inauguration-goers have a range of lodging options ? from crashing on a friend's couch to reasonably priced rooms to ones that cost thousands of dollars a night.

With second inaugurations tending to draw fewer spectators, finding a place to stay in Washington won't be nearly as difficult as in 2009.

City officials are expecting 600,000 to 800,000 visitors for the Jan. 21 inauguration, far less than the 1.8 million people who flooded the National Mall four years ago to witness the inauguration of America's first black president. Back then, some hotels sold out months in advance and city residents rented out their homes for hundreds of dollars a night. This time, hotels say they're filling up more slowly, with rooms still available and prices at or slightly below where they were four years ago.

"Very few hotels are actually sold out at this point, so there's a lot of availability," said Elliott Ferguson, CEO of the tourism bureau Destination DC, who added that he expected demand to pick up after Christmas.

In 2009, hotel occupancy in the city for the night before the inauguration was 98 percent, and visitors paid an average daily rate of more than $600 that night, according to STR, a company that tracks hotel data. This time, some hotels still have half their rooms available. As a result, some establishments have relaxed minimum stays from four nights to three and could drop prices closer to the time of the inauguration if demand does not increase.

Despite the muted enthusiasm, many of the city's posh hotels are still offering pricy packages. Visitors with an unlimited budget can check in to accommodations almost as grand and historic as the White House.

At The Willard hotel, about a block from the White House, rooms were still available starting at more than $1,100 a night with a four-night minimum. That's a far cry from the bill paid by President Abraham Lincoln when he checked out after his 1861 inauguration and paid $773.75 for a stay of more than a week.

At the Park Hyatt hotel in northwest Washington, where rooms start at $849 a night with a four-night minimum stay, the presidential suite is still available. For the 57th presidential inauguration next month, the hotel is charging $57,000 for a four-night package in the suite that includes butler service. And no one has yet booked $100,000 packages at the Fairmont hotel or the Ritz-Carlton.

A number of the city's luxury hotels plan special treats for guests, some of whom will be paying two to five times as much to stay during the inauguration compared with staying in the same room a week before. At the Ritz-Carlton, for example, where rooms start at about $1,100 per day, guests will get to bring home commemorative pillowcases embroidered with the official inauguration seal and their initials.

There are options for visitors looking to spend less, too, though some wallet-friendly choices have filled quickly.

Rooms at HI-DC, a hostel in downtown Washington, were sold out the day after the Nov. 6 election, with a bed in a dorm room going for $50 a night and private rooms for $150. With all the rooms sold, the hostel is finalizing plans for an election trivia night for guests.

Aunt Bea's Little White House, a six-room bed and breakfast in northeast Washington, still had two rooms available the week before Christmas, with rates starting at $225 a night. Innkeeper Gerald Duval said that included a bottle of champagne and a commemorative coin. There'll also be red-and-white bunting on the home's porch along with cutouts of the president and first lady.

Farther from downtown, the Best Western Plus hotel in Rockville, Md., was about 80 percent full with rooms at about $180 a night, down from a $209 starting rate. Director of Sales Ron Wallach said the hotel targeted some groups before the election, including students, journalists and the Secret Service, in order to fill its rooms.

Other travelers looking for budget-friendly prices may have success with websites like Craigslist or Airbnb, where homeowners offer their places for a price. More than 200 Craigslist housing posts in the area included the word "inauguration." Airbnb said it expected approximately 2,000 people to stay in Washington during the inauguration using its site.

Other travelers have told friends and family living in the area to plan on having guests. Lauren Hines and her husband had three people stay at their small Capitol Hill apartment during the 2009 inauguration, so many that one slept in a hallway. She and her husband now live in nearby Alexandria, Va., and planned to host her father-in-law, and maybe her mother-in-law, from Ohio. Hines said they didn't even consider a hotel.

"They know that they've always got a place with us," she said.


Follow Jessica Gresko at


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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

12 Memes of Christmas: The Year in Internet Phenomena!


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Related posts:

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  3. E-Commerce web Development: Tips to make your e-commerce website better
  4. Offshore Development Outsourcing Services
  5. E-Commerce Web Development For Online Business


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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More People Buying Milk, Eggs & Mortgages In Same Store ? CBS ...

MIAMI (CBSMiami) ? Now on sale in aisle one, eggs, milk, bread, and a mortgage! With today?s consumers feeling more comfortable shopping for financial products outside of a traditional bank, a growing number of retailers are stepping up their game.

First time homeowner Lilly Neubauer is always looking for ways to save dough.

?At the beginning of this year we were seeing historically low interest rates and we had heard that refinance was a great option,? said Lilly Neubauer

So she headed to Costco, where she picked up groceries, home insurance, and a mortgage.

?We were really surprised,? said Neubauer.

Think of it as the next generation of one-stop shopping.

A growing number of retailers, including Costco, Walmart, Sam?s Club, and Home Depot are going beyond the basic store credit card, offering deals on financial services too.

?Mortgages, home equity loans, home improvement loans, life insurance,? said Tom Feltner with the Consumer Federation of America.

They even offer home and auto insurance, depending on the store.

Feltner said with nearly 10 million U.S households without bank accounts, and credit from conventional lenders tight, these retail services may offer a sense of comfort.

?Consumers are drawn to the simplicity of a transaction that in previous products, there was much more of a barrier to entry,? said Feltner.

Sam?s Club?s small business loan program is devoted to customers who do not qualify for traditional bank loans.

At Home Depot, personal project loans are offered up to $40,000.

?We have a lot of people that come in and want to do kitchen remodels, need a new roof, need a new bathroom. The project loan allows them the opportunity to finance that project,? said Brandon Hayes with Home Depot.

Walmart is testing out pre-paid, Metlife insurance cards.

No matter which store you chose, remember, shop around. Read all terms and conditions carefully. And don?t forget to compare things like premiums, interest rates, closing costs, and general fees.

It?s important to realize that retailers are partnering with financial institutions and insurance brokers to offer these deals. That means when it comes to things like mortgages and home equity loans, you?ll still be putting your house up as collateral.


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App Store Optimization Heats Up: Appnique Debuts New Service To Help Developers Get Their Apps Found

app-discovery-heroSeattle-based?Appnique,?a new startup from mobile industry veteran Jai Jaisimha,?is focused on helping app developers achieve higher rankings and make their mobile applications more discoverable in both the iOS and Android app stores. It's the latest company to target the ASO?(App Store Optimization) space specifically, a new breed of optimization which looks at things like app keywords, titles and descriptions in order to make an app appear higher in app searches than its competitors, which in turn helps an app climb the charts in a given app store.


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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is 'reality' unreal? Scientists aim to find out

What if everything ? all of us, the world, the universe ? was not real? What if everything we are, know and do was really just someone's computer simulation?

The notion that our reality was some kid on a couch in the far future playing with a computer game like a gigantic Sim City, or Civilization, and we are the player's characters, isn't new. But some physicists now think they know of a way to test the concept. Three of them propose to test reality by simulating the simulators.

Martin Savage, professor of physics at the University of Washington, Zohreh Davoudi, one of his graduate students, and Silas Beane of the University of New Hampshire would like to see whether they can find traces of simulation in cosmic rays. The work was uploaded in arXiv, an online archive for drafts of academic research papers.

The notion that reality is something other than we think it is goes far back in philosophy, including Plato and his Parable of the Cave, which claimed reality was merely shadows of real objects on a cave wall. Sixteenth-century philosopher-mathematician Ren? Descartes thought he proved reality with his famous "I think, therefore I am," which proposed that he was real and his thoughts had a reality.

Then, in 2003, a British philosopher, Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford, published a paper that had the philosophy and computer science departments buzzing.

The Matrix hypothesis
Bostrom suggested three possibilities: "The chances that a species at our current level of development can avoid going extinct before becoming technologically mature is negligibly small," "almost no technologically mature civilizations are interested in running computer simulations of minds like ours,? or we are "almost certainly" a simulation.

All three could be equally possible, he wrote, but if the first two are false, the third must be true. "There will be an astronomically huge number of simulated minds like ours," Bostrom wrote.

His suggestion was that our descendants, far in the future, would have the computer capacity to run simulations that complex, and that there might be millions of simulations, and millions of virtual universes with billions of simulated brains in them.

Bostrom's paper came out four years after the popular film, "The Matrix," in which humans discover they were simulations run by malevolent machines. The popularity of the film possibly contributed to the attention to Bostrom?s paper received at the time, but nothing came of it.

"He put it together in clear terms and came out with probabilities of what is likely and what is not," Savage said. "He crystallized it, at least in my mind."

Looking for anomalies
In the movie and in Savage's proposal, the discovery that reality was virtual came when unexpected errors showed up in life, demonstrating imperfections in the simulation.

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      Science editor Alan Boyle's blog: You might not think something wonderful can be found in a ball of slime ? but a prize-winning video of the microscopic creatures in a slimeball proves it's possible.

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Savage and his colleagues assume that any future simulators would use some of the same techniques current scientists use to run simulations, with the same constraints. The future simulators, Savage indicated, would map their universe on a mathematical lattice or grid, consisting of points and lines. This would not be an everyday grid but a "hypercube" consisting of four dimensions, three for space, and one to represent points in time.

A present-day example is lattice quantum chromodynamics, which explores the effects of the strong nuclear force, one of the four fundamental forces in the universe, on tiny elementary particles such as quarks and gluons. In this approach, the particles jump from point to point on a grid, without passing through the space between them. The simulations cause time to pass in a similar way, like the frames of film passing through a movie camera, so that the time that passed between frames is not part of the simulation. This style of simulation requires less computer power than treating space and time as a continuum.

Because Savage and his colleague assume that future simulators will use a similar approach, he suggests looking at the behavior of very high-energy cosmic ray particles to see whether there is a grid in the energy as a start.

"You look at the very highest-energy cosmic rays and look for distributions that have symmetry problems, which are not isotropic," or the same in every direction, he said.

"Everything looks like it is on a continuum,? Savage said. "There is no evidence to show that is not the case at the moment. We are looking for something to indicate you don't have a space-time continuum."

Disturbance in the force
That disturbance in the force might be a hint that something in reality is amiss. If the cosmic ray energy levels travel along the grid, like following streets in Manhattan or Salt Lake City, it probably is unlikely to be a simulation; if they unexpectedly travel diagonally, reality may be a computer program.

Jim Kakalios, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota who was not involved in the paper, said a test such as the one Savage suggests may not prove anything. If they don't find the signatures, it doesn't mean we are not a simulation; our descendants could have used a different grid. If they do find something it also could mean ?that's the way space-time is and we never noticed before,? he said.

Two other questions arise. One is whether it is conceivable that computers powerful enough to simulate our hugely complex universe ever will exist. If so, it likely will be very far in the future.

The second question is linked: Will it ever be possible to simulate human consciousness? After all, we run around thinking and feeling.

"Ultimately, the paper glides over the most interesting point: assume we have infinite computing power and we can create this hypercube," Kakalios said. "They assume [the simulators] would know how to simulate human consciousness."

We are aware of ourselves, he said, aware of our bodies, aware of what is outside of our bodies, he said. Human consciousness is almost indescribably complex.

For generations, science-fiction books ? and some science books ? have hypothesized inserting our consciousness into computers so that we essentially live forever. In "Caprica," a prequel to the television program "Battlestar Galactica," a girl's consciousness is preserved in a computer ? and it becomes the basis for the evil cyborgs.

"We don't understand consciousness,? Kakalios said. "Neuroscience is where physics was before quantum mechanics. It's a more interesting problem than whether you can simulate protons and quarks."

Either way, however, Kakalios said the experiments on cosmic rays are the kinds of projects scientists should be doing, regardless of the simulation issue.

Joel Shurkin is a freelance writer based in Baltimore. He is the author of nine books on science and the history of science, and has taught science journalism at Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Cruz and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

This report was originally published Dec. 14 by Inside Science News Service as "What If Reality Was Really Just Sim Universe?"


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Friday, December 14, 2012

With An IPO On Its Radar, Lending Club Adds Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers To Its Heavyweight Board

434px-Lawrence_Summers_Treasury_portraitToday, Larry Summers became the latest prominent name to endorse Lending Club -- the fast-growing peer-to-peer lending company that aims to connect creditworthy borrowers with smart investors -- as the former U.S. Treasury Secretary joined the company's growing, star-studded board of directors. The economist, also known for serving as the 27th president of Harvard University and as the Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama, joins names like John Mack, the ex-chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, and Kleiner Perkins Partner Mary Meeker.


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Support C4SS with Dyer Lum's ?The Economics of Anarchy?

C4SS has teamed up with the?Distro of the Libertarian Left. The?Distro?produces and distribute zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory,?counter-economics, and other movements for liberation. For every copy of Dyer Lum?s ?The Economics of Anarchy??that you purchase through the?Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage.?Support C4SS with?Dyer Lum?s ?The Economics of Anarchy?.

A groundbreaking presentation of Mutualist economic and social theory, freed-market anti-capitalism, and an industrialism of worker ownership and mutual exchange.

I have repeatedly been asked to write a brief summary of the aims sought by Anarchists which could be read and discussed in the various clubs that are studying economic questions. With this end in view the following pages are submitted, trusting that they may be a help to those who are earnestly seeking the rationale of the Labor Question. . . .

FREE EXCHANGE?. . . would break the monopoly now possessed by currency, the instrument of exchange, and also could open full use of the possession of land. . . . Has the workman equal freedom to compete with the employer of labor? . . . But why not? Because behind the capitalist, as we now find him, privilege lends support which transforms the result of honest industry into a hideous Moloch standing with outstretched arms to receive as sacrificial victims the toilers who have made that capital possible. . . . Capital itself is man?s best friend, the true social savior that opens the march of progress and that has transformed society from warlike to peaceful pursuits. But under the crucifying hands of legalization, where prerogative mocks at penury, its mission is thwarted and it becomes a ravenous beast. . . . Reliance upon militant measures, trying to curb indus?trial discontent by legislative coercion, is reactionary in character. However disguised in twilight mixtures it is the spirit of the old regime seeking to dominate the new; as vain as seeking to check an exhaustless flow of water by damming the stream. The remedy cannot lie in enactments, in the organ?ization of systems, in return to simplicity of structure, for industrial civilization demands plasticity of forms . . . while organization, on the other hand, ever tends to rigidity. . . .

The Economics of Anarchy?was published at Chicago in 1890.?Dyer D. Lum?was a revolutionary anarchist, a labor organizer, and a pioneer of mutualist economics. He became involved in the labor movement through his trade as a bookbinder, and came into contact with Anarchists such as Albert Parsons and August Spies in Chicago. He was closely involved with support for the Hay?mark?et martyrs during the 1880s ? he took up the editorship of Albert Parson?s newspaper,?The Alarm, after Parson?s death, and it was Lum who smuggled a dynamite cap to Louis Lingg in prison (which Lingg used to commit suicide ahead of the noose). A collaborator and lover of Voltairine de Cleyre?s, and a prolific writer of both books and articles for Anarchist papers such as Twentieth Century, Liberty, and The Alarm, Lum?s Anarchism combined the radical individualism and anti-capitalist market anarchism of the Boston Anarchists, with an emphasis on worker ownership, radical solidarity, and the militant labor organizing of his Chicago revol?ution?ary milieu.


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Health And Fitness Journal Why Taking Antibiotics During ...

By Dr. Mercola

According to recent research1 from Denmark, children whose mothers took antibiotics during their pregnancy were more likely to develop asthma, compared to those whose mother did not take antibiotics. Taking other risk factors into account, the researchers estimated that children exposed to antibiotics were 17 percent more likely to be hospitalized for asthma before the age of five.

Furthermore, children who were predisposed to asthma due to their mother having the condition were twice as likely to develop asthma if their mother used antibiotics during the third trimester, compared to those whose mother did not use antibiotics.

While the study doesn?t prove causation (they cannot tell whether the asthma was the result of the antibiotic or the infection itself), the increased asthma risk found does support the theory that probiotics ? beneficial bacteria residing in your gut, which are decimated by antibiotics ? play a role in the development of asthma. Co-author Dr. Hans Bisgaard told Reuters Health2:

?We speculate that mothers? use of antibiotics changes the balance of natural bacteria, which is transmitted to the newborn, and that such unbalanced bacteria in early life impact on the immune maturation in the newborn.?

Indeed, one of the most important prerequisites for your newborn is establishing a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Regardless of age, your gut is your first line of defense in terms of immunity. Without a well-functioning GI tract, your child will not get the proper nourishment to grow, or defend himself against pathogens of all types.

The baby gets his or her first ?inoculation? of gut flora from the mother?s birth canal during childbirth, which is why a mother?s use of antibiotics during pregnancy can predispose the child to asthma and a variety of other ailments.?It?s important to understand that if a mother?s?flora is abnormal,?her baby?s flora will also be abnormal, as whatever organisms live in her vagina end up coating?her baby?s body and lining his or her intestinal tract.

The Importance of Gut Health During Pregnancy

Unfortunately, studies show that a growing number of women have unknown vaginal infections at childbirth, which can result in the passage of abnormal microflora onto their babies. This introduction of unfriendly flora, combined with antibiotic use, can predispose a baby to GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and also Gut and Physiology Syndrome). GAPS can have very damaging long-term effects on a child?s health, both neurologically and physiologically, predisposing him or her to:

Autism, ADHD/ADD and learning disabilities, such as dyslexia Arthritis Asthma and allergies
Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder Skin problems Kidney problems
Schizophrenia Digestive ailments Autoimmune disorders


GAPS may have profound implications for the autism epidemic. Rates of childhood autism are staggering, now 50 times higher in some areas than three decades ago. Not surprisingly, there is a matching epidemic of GAPS. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is a neurologist and neurosurgeon who has devoted years of her career to studying this phenomenon, and how to treat and prevent it. To learn more, please listen to the interview featured in my previous article How a Physician Cured Her Son?s Autism.

In this follow-up interview, she discusses the physiological aspect of GAPS, and its impact on autoimmune disease and allergies.

Download Interview Transcript

Antibiotic Resistance Major Public Health Problem

The frivolous use of antibiotics, not just in medicine, but also in food production, is the root cause of skyrocketing antibiotic resistance. Data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control3 (ECDC) shows a significant rise of resistance to multiple antibiotics in Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. coli in just the last four years alone, affecting more than one-third of the EU. According to a recent report by Medical News Today4:

?In several of the member states, between 25 and over 60 percent of K pneumoniae from bloodstream infections show combined resistance to multiple antibiotics?. The ECDC data shows that consumption of carbapenems, a major class of last-line antibiotics, went up significantly in EU/EEA countries between 2007 and 2010. The report suggests this is most likely due to increasing multidrug resistance in Gram-negative infections, such as pneumonia or bloodstream infections, which are often treated with carbapenems.?

November 18 was European Antibiotic Awareness Day5. The UK issued an informational leaflet6 to raise awareness about the need for judicious use of antibiotics, urging patients to not ask their doctors for an antibiotic to treat symptoms of cold and flu, as antibiotics do not work on infections caused by viruses. Americans also need to heed this advice, as a recent poll shows many Americans are still a bit clueless about antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.

As reported by MedicineNet.com7:

?[A]lthough almost 90 percent of Americans know that antibiotics are effective for treating bacterial infections, more than a third also erroneously believed the drugs can fight viral infections such as the common cold or the flu?

?It?s a common misperception that antibiotics can cure the common cold, and unnecessary overuse of antibiotics for illnesses like colds is dumping fuel on a wildfire of resistance,? said Dr. Lauri Hicks, medical director of the ?Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work? program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.? Many participants wrongly believed that individuals build up tolerance to antibiotics, when it is the bacteria themselves that become resistant.?

<!?Get Adobe Flash player

This is a Flash-based video and may not be viewable on mobile devices.

Rise in Antibiotic Resistance is Alarming

Between the years of 1993 and 2005, the number of Americans hospitalized due to the antibiotic-resistant ?superbug? MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) skyrocketed from about 2,000 to 370,000. Currently, MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infections kill about 60,000 Americans annually, and account for billions of dollars in health care costs8. According to many health experts, antibiotic-resistance is one of our greatest health threats, and it?s really all our own doing.

When used properly, in the correct contexts and with responsibility, antibiotics can and do save lives that are threatened by bacterial infections. But there is one important variable that wasn?t considered when the widespread use of these ?miracle medicines? began, and that is that bacteria are highly adaptable. They are clearly capable of outsmarting antibiotics, and they are doing so with a vengeance. According to the CDC?s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System9:

?Antibiotics kill or inhibit the growth of susceptible bacteria. Sometimes one of the bacteria survives because it has the ability to neutralize or evade the effect of the antibiotic; that one bacteria can then multiply and replace all the bacteria that were killed off.

Exposure to antibiotics therefore provides selective pressure, which makes the surviving bacteria more likely to be resistant. In addition, bacteria that were at one time susceptible to an antibiotic can acquire resistance through mutation of their genetic material or by acquiring pieces of DNA that code for the resistance properties from other bacteria.?The DNA that codes for resistance can be grouped in a single easily transferable package. This means that bacteria can become resistant to many antimicrobial agents because of the transfer of one piece of DNA.?

The Rise of ?Superbugs??

Bacteria are, in essence, hard-wired to adapt to threats such as antibiotics and, as such, there has been talk that the ?end of antibiotics? is near. At that point, infections that were once easily treated will undoubtedly return with renewed force. Casualties are to be expected? Numerous bacteria are already resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics10, including:

Acinetobacter: A bacteria found in soil and water that often causes infections in seriously ill hospital patients. Anthrax: Spread by infected animals or potentially bioterrorist weapons. Group B streptococcus: A common bacteria in newborns, the elderly and adults with other illnesses.
Klebsiella pneumonia: A bacteria that can lead to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound and surgical site infections and meningitis. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): A superbug that can be so difficult to treat, it can easily progress from a superficial skin infection to a life-threatening infection in your bones, joints, bloodstream, heart valves, lungs, or surgical wounds. Neisseria meningitides: One of the leading causes of bacterial meningitis in children and young adults.
Shigella: An infectious disease caused by Shigella bacteria. Streptococcus pneumoniae: A leading cause of pneumonia, bacteremia, sinusitis, and acute otitis media (AOM). Tuberculosis (TB): Both ?multi-drug resistant? and ?extensively drug-resistant? forms of TB are now being seen.
Typhoid fever: A life-threatening illness caused by the Salmonella Typhi bacteria. Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE): Infection with the enteroccocci bacteria that often occurs in hospitals and is resistant to vancomycin, an antibiotic. Vancomycin-Intermediate/Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VISA/VRSA): Various strains of staph bacteria that are resistant to vancomycin.


Two of the latest drug-resistant infections are gonorrhea and tuberculosis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the first reports of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis began surfacing in 200611. WHO now also recognizes drug-resistant gonorrhea as ?an emergency.? Earlier this summer, Wired Magazine12 reported on the issue:

?Millions of people with gonorrhoea may be at risk of running out of treatment options unless urgent action is taken, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Already several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are reporting cases of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics ? the last treatment option against gonorrhoea. Every year an estimated 106 million people are infected.?

Your Dietary Choices Also Contribute to Rising Antibiotic Resistance

Compounding the problem is the fact that antibiotics are also widely over-used in agriculture. In fact, agricultural uses account for about 70 percent of all antibiotic use in the US, so it?s a MAJOR source of human antibiotic consumption. Animals are often fed antibiotics at low doses for disease prevention and growth promotion, and those antibiotics are transferred to you via meat, and even via the manure used as crop fertilizer.

Reducing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is yet another reason for making sure you?re only eating grass-fed, organically-raised meats.

What You Can Do to Help Stop the Spread of Antibiotic-Resistant Disease

You can help yourself and your community by using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary and by purchasing organic, antibiotic-free meats and other foods. We?re all in this fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria together, and the more people who get involved on a personal level to stop unnecessary antibiotic use the better.

Avoiding all unnecessary antibiotics is an important step that I urge everyone to take, even though ultimately the problem of antibiotic-resistance needs to be stemmed through public policy on a nationwide level. If you live in the United States and want to get involved on a national level, Food Democracy Now! has created a petition against the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production13. If you care about this issue, I suggest you use this petition to make your voice heard.

Also, to bring us back to the first featured story, please make sure to avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics during pregnancy. Not every bacterial infection needs to be treated with a drug. First, as an all-around preventive measure, you?ll want to make sure your vitamin D level is optimized year-round, especially during pregnancy, along with vitamin K2. But there are also a number of natural compounds that act as broad-based antibiotics/anti-virals that you can try first, such as:

  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Echinacea
  • Manuka honey (for topical application)

Other Related Health Posts:


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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Want your baby to learn? Research shows sitting up helps

Dec. 11, 2012 ? From the Mozart effect to educational videos, many parents want to aid their infants in learning. New research out of North Dakota State University, Fargo, and Texas A&M shows that something as simple as the body position of babies while they learn plays a critical role in their cognitive development.

The study shows that for babies, sitting up, either by themselves or with assistance, plays a significant role in how infants learn. The research titled "Posture Support Improves Object Individuation in Infants," co-authored by Rebecca J. Woods, assistant professor of human development and family science and doctoral psychology lecturer at North Dakota State University, and by psychology professor Teresa Wilcox of Texas A&M, is published in the journal Developmental Psychology?.

The study's results show that babies' ability to sit up unsupported has a profound effect on their ability to learn about objects. The research also shows that when babies who cannot sit up alone are given posture support from infant seats that help them sit up, they learn as well as babies who can already sit alone.

"An important part of human cognitive development is the ability to understand whether an object in view is the same or different from an object seen earlier," said Dr. Woods. Through two experiments, she confirmed that 5-and-a-half- and 6-and-a-half-month-olds don't use patterns to differentiate objects on their own. However, 6-and-a-half-month-olds can be primed to use patterns, if they have the opportunity to look at, touch and mouth the objects before being tested.

"An advantage the 6-and-a-half-month-olds may have is the ability to sit unsupported, which makes it easier for babies to reach for, grasp and manipulate objects. If babies don't have to focus on balancing, their attention can be on exploring the object," said Woods.

In a third experiment, 5-and-a-half-month-olds were given full postural support while they explored objects. When they had posture support, they were able to use patterns to differentiate objects. The research study also suggests that delayed sitting may cause babies to miss learning experiences that affect other areas of development.

"Helping a baby sit up in a secure, well-supported manner during learning sessions may help them in a wide variety of learning situations, not just during object-feature learning," Woods said. "This knowledge can be advantageous, particularly to infants who have cognitive delays who truly need an optimal learning environment."

The research was supported in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, under grants HD-36741 and HD-46532 awarded to Dr. Wilcox. Additional research funding was provided by National Institute of Health grant P20 RR016471 from the IdeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program of the National Center for Research Resources awarded to Dr. Woods. NDSU undergraduate and graduate students assisted in data collection for the study.

Research at The Infant Cognitive Development Lab at NDSU focuses on cognitive abilities in infants that are related to attention and memory. The lab is associated with the Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience at NDSU, which is devoted to increasing understanding of the ways that information is perceived and processed by the brain.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 research universities with very high research activity as named by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. As a student-focused, land grant, research institution, NDSU is listed in the Top 100 research universities in the U.S. for R&D in psychology, social sciences, computer science, chemistry, physical sciences, and agricultural sciences, based on FY11 research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by North Dakota State University, via Newswise.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Rebecca J. Woods, Teresa Wilcox. Posture Support Improves Object Individuation in Infants.. Developmental Psychology, 2012; DOI: 10.1037/a0030344

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Census: Whites no longer a majority in US by 2043

Chart shows projections of future racial and hispanic origin breakdowns

Chart shows projections of future racial and hispanic origin breakdowns

(AP) ? White people will no longer make up a majority of Americans by 2043, according to new census projections. That's part of a historic shift that already is reshaping the nation's schools, workforce and electorate, and is redefining long-held notions of race.

The official projection, released Wednesday by the Census Bureau, now places the tipping point for the white majority a year later than previous estimates, which were made before the impact of the recent economic downturn was fully known.

America continues to grow and become more diverse due to higher birth rates among minorities, particularly for Hispanics who entered the U.S. at the height of the immigration boom in the 1990s and early 2000s. Since the mid-2000 housing bust, however, the arrival of millions of new immigrants from Mexico and other nations has slowed from its once-torrid pace.

The country's changing demographic mosaic has stark political implications, shown clearly in last month's election that gave President Barack Obama a second term ? in no small part due to his support from 78 percent of non-white voters.

There are social and economic ramifications, as well. Longstanding fights over civil rights and racial equality are going in new directions, promising to reshape race relations and common notions of being a "minority." White plaintiffs now before the Supreme Court argue that special protections for racial and ethnic minorities dating back to the 1960s may no longer be needed, from affirmative action in college admissions to the Voting Rights Act, designed for states with a history of disenfranchising blacks.

Residential segregation has eased and intermarriage for first- and second-generation Hispanics and Asians is on the rise, blurring racial and ethnic lines and lifting the numbers of people who identify as multiracial. Unpublished 2010 census data show that millions of people shunned standard race categories such as black or white on government forms, opting to write in their own cultural or individual identities.

By 2060, multiracial people are projected to more than triple, from 7.5 million to 26.7 million ? rising even faster and rendering notions of race labels increasingly irrelevant, experts say, if lingering stigma over being mixed-race can fully fade.

The non-Hispanic white population, now at 197.8 million, is projected to peak at 200 million in 2024, before entering a steady decline in absolute numbers as the massive baby boomer generation enters its golden years. Four years after that, racial and ethnic minorities will become a majority among adults 18-29 and wield an even greater impact on the "youth vote" in presidential elections, census projects.

"The fast-growing demographic today is now the children of immigrants," said Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, a global expert on immigration and dean of UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, describing the rate of minority growth in the U.S. as dipping from "overdrive" to "drive." Even with slowing immigration, Suarez-Orozco says, the "die has been cast" for strong minority growth from births.

As recently as 1960, whites made up 85 percent of the U.S., but that share has steadily dropped after a 1965 overhaul of U.S. immigration laws opened doors to waves of new immigrants from Mexico, Latin America and Asia. By 2000, the percentage of U.S. whites had slid to 69 percent; it now stands at nearly 64 percent.

"Moving forward, the U.S. will become the first major post-industrial society in the world where minorities will be the majority," Suarez-Orozco said. With the white baby boomer population now leaving the workforce, the big challenge will be educating the new immigrants, he said.

The U.S. has nearly 315 million people today. According to the projections released Wednesday, the U.S. population is projected to cross the 400 million mark in 2051, 12 years later than previously projected. The population will hit 420.3 million a half century from now in 2060.

By then, whites will drop to 43 percent of the U.S. Blacks will make up 14.7 percent, up slightly from today. Hispanics, currently 17 percent of the population, will more than double in absolute number, making up 31 percent, or nearly 1 in 3 residents, according to the projections. Asians are expected to increase from 5 percent of the population to 8 percent.

Among children, the point when minorities become the majority is expected to arrive much sooner, by 2018 or so. Last year, racial and ethnic minorities became a majority among babies under age 1 for the first time in U.S. history.

At the same time, the U.S. population as a whole is aging, driven by 78 million mostly white baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964. By 2030, roughly 1 in 5 residents will be 65 and older. Over the next half century, the "oldest old" ? those ages 85 and older ? will more than triple to 18.2 million, reaching 4 percent of the U.S. population.

The actual shift in demographics will be shaped by a host of factors that can't always be accurately pinpointed ? the pace of the economic recovery, cultural changes, natural or manmade disasters, as well as an overhaul of immigration law, which is expected to be debated in Congress early next year.

"The next half century marks key points in continuing trends ? the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority," said acting Census Bureau Director Thomas Mesenbourg.

Republicans have been seeking to broaden their appeal to minorities, who made up 28 percent of the electorate this year, after faring poorly among non-whites on Election Day, when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney carried only about 20 percent of non-white votes.

The race and ethnic changes are already seen in pockets of the U.S. and in the younger age groups, where roughly 45 percent of all students in K-12 are Hispanics, blacks, Asian-Americans and others. Already, the District of Columbia and four states ? Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas ? have minority populations greater than 50 percent; across the U.S., more than 11 percent of counties have tipped to "majority-minority" status.

Last month, nearly all voters over age 65 were white (87 percent), but among voters under age 30, just 58 percent were white.

"Irrespective of future immigration and minority fertility patterns, the U.S. is facing a stagnating white population," said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. "The biggest shift will occur over the next 20 years as the mostly white baby boom generation moves into traditional retirement years. It is in the child and early labor force ages where we must be ready for the greatest changes as new American minorities take over for aging whites."

Economically, the rapidly growing non-white population gives the U.S. an advantage over other developed nations, including Russia, Japan and France, which are seeing reduced growth or population losses due to declining birth rates and limited immigration. The combined population of more-developed countries other than the U.S. has been projected to decline beginning in 2016, raising the prospect of prolonged budget crises as the number of working-age citizens diminish, pension costs rise and tax revenues fall.

Depending on future rates of immigration, the U.S. population is estimated to continue growing through at least 2060. In a hypothetical situation in which all immigration ? both legal and illegal ? immediately stopped, previous government estimates have suggested the U.S. could lose population beginning in 2048.

"Young families ? many of them first or second-generation immigrants ? have been the engine of U.S. population growth for several decades," said Mark Mather, associate vice president of the Population Reference Bureau.


AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

Associated Press


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