NRA head breaks silence to attack gun control advocates: ‘They hate individual freedom’

Wayne LaPierre spoke at CPAC in the wake of the Florida school shooting, mounting an unrepentant defense of gun rights

The head of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) has broken his silence more than a week after the Florida school shooting with a vituperative attack on gun control advocates, accusing them of exploiting the tragedy to push their agenda.

Wayne LaPierre, whose lobby group faces an unprecedented challenge from the activism of students, including survivors of the massacre, sought to paint his opponents as elites and socialists hellbent on undermining Americans constitutional rights.

The elites dont care not one whit about Americas school system and schoolchildren, he told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the National Harbor in Maryland. If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them. For them, its not a safety issue, its a political issue.

They care more about control, and more of it. Their goal is to eliminate the second amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms… They hate the NRA, they hate the second amendment, they hate individual freedom.

Addressing a sympathetic audience of conservative grassroots activists, LaPierre continued: They fantasise about more laws stopping what other laws have failed to stop. So many existing laws were ignored. They dont care if their laws work or not. They just want to get more laws to get more control over people. But the NRA the NRA does care.

The massacre of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, last week was the second deadliest shooting at an American public school and has spurred extraordinary protests across the country. The debate reached a watershed on Wednesday when students and teachers confronted US Senators in a noisy town hall event televised live by CNN; there were raucous cheers for the idea of sweeping bans on assault weapons.

LaPierres name was initially kept off the agenda at the annual CPAC to protect him from media scrutiny. The NRA often prefers to stay out of the spotlight in the wake of a major shooting.

LaPierre sought to put the warnings in the wider context of a socialist enemy within, who he said oppose our fundamental freedoms enshrined in the bill of rights. He claimed that the Communist Manifesto and Karl Marx were ascendent on university campuses, describing socialism as a political disease.

The NRA chief warned the packed ballroom: You should be anxious and you should be frightened. If these so-called European socialists take over the House and the Senate and, God forbid, they win the White House again our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever, and the first to go will be the second amendment to the US constitution the right to bear arms.

Pushing the same agenda on school security as Donald Trump, he insisted: The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous. If thats true, armed security makes us less safe, lets just go ahead and remove it from everywhere.

He continued: We must immediately harden our schools. Every day young children are being dropped off at schools that are virtually wide open, soft targets for anyone bent on mass murder. It should not be easier for a madman to shoot up a school than a bank or jewellery store or some Hollywood gala.

Schools should be the hardest target in this country. Evil must be confronted with all necessary force to protect our kids.

He ended his speech, which was met with a standing ovation, by repeating the notorious mantra he had issued after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012: To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun.

In an earlier speech, the NRAs national spokeswoman singled out the media for criticism. Dana Loesch said: Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it. Now Im not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you.

Under intense public pressure, there has been speculation that Trump might use his credibility with Republicans to take on the NRA, one of his strongest backers. But on Thursday he tweeted full support: What many people dont understand, or dont want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris [Cox] and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

The president reaffirmed his proposal to address school shootings by giving some teachers guns, tweeting that it would be a great deterrent to killers. He suggested a little bit of a bonus for trained teachers who are armed.

Trump, who held a listening session with students and parents on Wednesday, also said he would advocate for tightening background checks for gun buyers, with an emphasis on mental health, and lifting the age limit to 21 to buy some types of guns policies less likely to please the powerful pro-gun lobby group.

Many attendees at CPAC expressed support for the idea of arming teachers.

Debi Millman, a fundraiser based in Los Angeles, suggested it was more realistic than restricting a country already awash with guns. How many millions of them are there? Youre never going to be able to keep evil out. A better solution for me is have the schools be able to defend themselves. If criminals know that if they attack a school theyll get their heads blown off, thats a good idea.

Randi Green, a personal trainer from Los Angeles, interjected: Except for the fact most teachers are liberals and would baulk at the idea.

Green was sceptical about the students at Parkland who had been speaking out. Theyre definitely being manipulated, she said. Everybody has a voice but these are young kids and I dont think they know better than lawmakers. I thought they were very disrespectful in the way they speak to people. I think the parents are rooting them on.

Scott Pio, 33, wearing a red Make America great again cap, also backed the proposal for teachers to carry and conceal firearms. We can arm everybody else around important people, why cant we arm everybody around our students, especially as they are soft targets? What are people so afraid of? Even city council managers are already protected by guns.

Pio, a software engineer from Fairfax, Virginia, also suggested making schools more secure, with only one point of entry, and increasing the number of security guards on site. But he was opposed to a ban on semi-automatic weapons. There are plenty of people in rural areas who use guns to protect their homes and go hunting. But Im OK with raising the age to 21 for assault rifles.

Chris Davis, 44, a police officer from Pennsylvania, said he was impressed by the students who have spoken out but criticised liberal campaigners demanding tighter gun controls. These same people say President Trump is a tyrant. The reason you have the second amendment is to protect yourself from a tyrant.

Todd McKinley, 40, a retired soldier from Kingsport, Tennessee, added: The left called him Hitler, but then they want to grab all guns just like Hitler did.

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/22/nra-wayne-lapierre-gun-control-cpac-speech-2018

Critically ill man is former Russian spy

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Media caption“He was doing strange hand movements, looking up to the sky”: What we know so far

A man who is critically ill after being exposed to an unknown substance in Wiltshire is a Russian national convicted of spying for Britain, the BBC understands.

Sergei Skripal, 66, was granted refuge in the UK following a “spy swap” between the US and Russia in 2010.

He and a woman, 33, were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping centre in Salisbury on Sunday.

Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury has been closed by police “as a precaution”.

The substance has not been identified, but Public Health England said there was no known risk to the public’s health.

Wiltshire Police are investigating whether a crime has been committed. They said the pair had no visible injuries but had been found unconscious at the Maltings shopping centre.

They have declared a “major incident” and multiple agencies are investigating. They said it had not been declared as a counter-terrorism incident, but they were keeping an “open mind”.

Col Skripal, who is a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006 for spying for Britain.

He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

Russia said Col Skripal had been paid $100,000 for the information, which he had been supplying from the 1990s.

He was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 US spies in 2010, as part of a swap. Col Skripal was later flown to the UK.

He and the woman, who police said were known to each other, are both in intensive care at Salisbury District Hospital.

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Media captionWitness: “They looked like they’d been taking something quite strong”

A number of locations in the city centre were cordoned off and teams in full protective gear used hoses to decontaminate the street.

The hospital advised people to attend routine operations and outpatient appointments unless they were contacted. It said its A&E department was open but busy because of the weather.

On the restaurant closure, police said Public Health England had reiterated the advice that there was no known risk to the wider public, but as a precaution advised that if people felt ill they should contact the NHS on 111.

“If you feel your own or another’s health is significantly deteriorating, ring 999,” police said.

Neighbours at Sergei Skripal’s home in Salisbury say police arrived around 17:00 GMT on Sunday and have been there ever since.

They said he was friendly and in recent years had lost his wife.

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Media captionTemp Asst Chief Constable Craig Holden: “We are unable to ascertain whether or not a crime has taken place”

Eyewitness Freya Church told the BBC it looked like the two people had taken “something quite strong”.

She said: “On the bench there was a couple, an older guy and a younger girl. She was sort of leant in on him, it looked like she had passed out maybe.

“He was doing some strange hand movements, looking up to the sky…

“They looked so out of it I thought even if I did step in I wasn’t sure how I could help.”

Image caption Public Health England has not confirmed what the substance was
Image caption The hospital’s A&E was closed on Monday while two people were treated

The possibility of an unexplained substance being involved has drawn comparisons with the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

The Russian dissident died in London in 2006 after drinking tea laced with a radioactive substance.

A public inquiry concluded that his killing had probably been carried out with the approval of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in the UK, when asked for comment on the incident, said: “Neither relatives nor legal representatives of the said person, nor the British authorities, have addressed the embassy in this regard.”

Analysis

By BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera

The parallels are striking with the 2006 case of Alexander Litvinenko.

He, too, was a former Russian intelligence officer who had come to the UK and was taken ill for reasons that were initially unclear.

In that case, it took weeks to establish that the cause was deliberate poisoning, and it took close to a decade before a public inquiry pointed the finger of blame at the Russian state.

Officials are stressing that it is too early this time to speculate on what happened here or why.

The police are not even yet saying a crime has been committed, but if the similarities do firm up and Moscow is once again found to be in the frame there will be questions about what kind of response might be required – and whether enough was done in the past to deter such activity being repeated.

Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the police approach to the Salisbury incident suggested there could be a “very sinister background”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight, he said: “It could indeed potentially have been the FSB (Russian intelligence services) or the Kremlin could have been behind it.

“It could have been some form of criminal response for other reasons, or it could be some form of personal grievance some individual had against these two people or either of them.

“We don’t know at this stage and it is not going to be useful to speculate beyond that,” he added.

What were the charges against Col Skripal?

Col Skripal was convicted of “high treason in the form of espionage” by Moscow’s military court in August 2006. He was stripped off all his titles and awards.

He was alleged by the Russian security service FSB to have begun working for the British secret services while serving in the army in the 1990s.

He had been passing information classified as state secrets and been paid for the work by MI6, the FSB claimed.

Col Skripal pleaded guilty at his trial and co-operated with investigators, reports said at the time.

Were you in the area at the time? Have you been affected by the incident? You can share your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43295134

California has worst ‘quality of life’ in US, study says

Awards season is in full swing in California, and the Golden State just took home a booby prize of its own.

California ranks dead last among U.S. states in quality of life, according to a study by U.S. News, ranking behind New Jersey (49th) and Indiana (48th).

The ignominious honor reflects California’s low marks in the sub-categories of environmental quality and social engagement. The latter category measures voting participation and community bonds.

Californians scored poorly in part because they’re simply insufferable, U.S. News suggested.

“In addition to a healthy environment, a person’s quality of life is largely a result of their interactions with those around them,” the magazine wrote in a blurb accompanying the results.

One way to measure quality life is whether residents can even afford to have a roof over their heads, and by that standard, California is failing. 

Karen Souza, 55, poses for a portrait with her dog Handsome by the tent in which she lives, under a freeway on a street in Los Angeles.  (Reuters)

POST-BANKRUPTCY CALIFORNIA CITY TESTS ‘UNIVERSAL’ INCOME FOR RESIDENTS

A 2017 Harvard University report said that one-third of renters in the Los Angeles area are “severely rent burdened,” meaning they spend at least half their income on housing. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles County has increased 67%, according to Zillow’s Rent Index, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Homelessness has surged a stunning 75 percent in the last six years, the Los Angeles Times reports, and there are now at least 55,000 homeless people in the county.

U.S. News ranked each state in seven other areas, which were weighted based on a survey that determined their importance to the public: health care, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure, crime and corrections, and fiscal stability. 

A homeless man reads the Los Angeles Times in the window of the building of Los Angeles Times newspaper in Los Angeles.  (Reuters)

Regarding its budget, California does have a balanced budget under Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, but the Standard & Poor’s rating agency recently warned that the good times won’t last.

“California’s finances are roaring back,” the agency’s report said. “History would suggest, however, that any fiscal renaissance will be temporary.”

If the stock market shifts from gains to losses, Standard & Poor’s said, the budget could be negatively impacted in a major way because about half of the state’s revenue comes from the wealthiest 1% in California.

California finished No. 43 in fiscal stability, No. 46 in opportunity, and No. 38 in infrastructure. It posted relatively high marks in health care (11th), economy (4th), and crime and corrections (28th).

California ranked No. 32 among all U.S. states overall, behind New York (25th), New Jersey (19th), and Florida (15th).

Which state has the best quality of life?

Iowa, which scored highly in infrastructure and health care, took the top spot overall.

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/03/01/california-has-worst-quality-life-in-us-study-says.html

Paramedics help man who couldn’t feel his legs after 20 hours of gaming

A man in China reportedly stopped feeling his legs and couldn’t walk after a 20-hour gaming binge at an internet cafe in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province. When the man finally tried to get up to use the bathroom, he discovered he couldn’t feel his legs, according to Newsweek. His friends called for help and paramedics arrived on the scene within moments.

The gamer, who remains unidentified, reportedly wanted to continue playing the game even while he was being taken out on the stretcher. Video of the incident was uploaded to the Chineses video service Pear.

Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) moved to list gaming addiction as a mental health disorder, prompting serious debate over the mental health impacts of destructive gaming behavior. WHO lists “continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences” over a period of time among the symptoms, with gaming being prioritized over sleeping, eating, or attending work or school. The Electronic Software Association denounced the decision, saying “video games are not addictive” and “putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder.”

But some healthcare officials, like technology addiction specialist Dr. Richard Graham at London’s Nightingale Hospital, welcome WHO’s decision and the awareness that could come from it. “It is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services,” Graham told the BBC. “It puts it on the map as something to take seriously.”

The incident with the Chinese gamer isn’t the first of its kind. In 2015, a teen gamer died from playing a video game almost non-stop for 22 days in a row. And back in 2010, a South Korean couple faced serious charges after their baby died of malnutrition while they tended to a digital child in an online game.

H/T Kotaku.com

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/paramedics-called-gamer-legs-china/

This Is The Tragic Thing That Followed The Heartbreaking Suicide Of Robin Williams

On August 11, 2014, beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams committed suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California. The 63-year-old had been secretly struggling with Lewy body dementia — something his wife believes was a huge factor in his decision to end his life.

News of the tragedy spread like wildfire shortly after Williams died. Many headlines described how he’d hanged himself with a belt, later detailing his battle with depression. Unfortunately, as Mother Jones reports, Williams’ highly publicized death may be the reason for an alarming rise in suicides in the following months.

In a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health observed a 10 percent increase from “expected” suicides in the U.S. between August and December 2014.

Using the Centers for Disease Control’s mortality data from January 1999 to July 2014, the researchers used a computer model to estimate the number of expected suicides under typical conditions. The projected number between August and December 2014 was 16,849 cases. The actual number turned out to be 18,690 cases.

David Fink, a PhD candidate at Columbia and lead author on the study, explains there was an abrupt spike in suicides after Williams’ deaths. The largest increase was in men and people between the ages of 30 and 44, and suicide by suffocation increased by about 30 percent during that time period.

“The belief is that you have someone that’s already contemplating [suicidal] behaviors, but they’re not capable of taking that action,” Fink told Mother Jones. “But once they see somebody else that they relate to that is able to take that action, it becomes feasible in a way…That’s why it’s a similar age group, a similar sex, a similar method.”

The study authors were careful to note they couldn’t directly link Williams’ death to the increase in suicides; however, history has shown us that suicide rates often go up following high-profile suicides.

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/robin-williams-suicide-spike/

Florida House Debates Porn, But Refuses To Discuss Assault Weapons

As tearful survivors of the Parkland school shooting watched, the Republican-led Florida House of Representatives on Tuesday refused to discuss a ban on assault weapons. Photos showed a distraught student being comforted in the gallery. Another survivor of last week’s massacre expressed “indescribable” rage on Twitter.

Later in the day, many of the same lawmakers discussed at length a bill that declares porn a public health risk. The bill ― which calls for improved “education, research and policy changes to protect Floridians, especially teenagers, from pornography” — was approved by a voice vote, reported the Tampa Bay Times.

“Has anyone had to bury their child because of pornography?” asked Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D), who sponsored the legislation seeking to ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. 

Rep. Kionne McGhee (D), tried to bring the gun control bill to the floor, but failed in a 36-71 party-line vote.

State lawmakers shunned the measure less than a week after a 19-year-old shooter with an AR-15-style assault rifle killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A survivor, 16-year-old junior Anthony Lopez, told The New York Times that lawmakers were “inhuman” for failing to discuss gun legislation.

Another student, Emma Gonzalez, who has spoken publicly and powerfully in support of stricter gun control laws since the shooting, reacted with fury on Twitter.

Others on Twitter lambasted Florida lawmakers for focusing on porn instead of guns. 

“I wish you could make this shit up,” Twitter user and activist Kelly Ellis wrote.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/florida-house-porn-assault-weapons-ban_us_5a8d37d4e4b03414379bac85

OxyContin maker says it will no longer market opioid to doctors

In a surprise reversal, the maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin said Saturday that it will stop promoting opioid drugs to doctors.

Manufacturer Purdue bowed to a key demand of lawsuits that blame the Connecticut-based company for helping trigger the opioid epidemic.

The company’s statement said it eliminated more than half its sales staff this week and will no longer send sales representatives to doctors’ offices to discuss opioid drugs.

Its remaining sales staff of about 200 will focus on other medications.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University and an advocate for stronger regulation of opioid drug companies.

The maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin said Saturday that it will stop promoting opioid drugs to doctors.  (AP)

“The genie is already out of the bottle,” Kolodny said. “Millions of Americans are now opioid-addicted because the campaign that Purdue and other opioid manufacturers used to increase prescribing worked well. “

He said Purdue’s decision is helpful, but it won’t make a major difference unless other opioid drug companies do the same.

WEST VIRGINIA CALLS IN NATIONAL GUARD TO TACKLE OPIOID CRISIS

“We would have more success in encouraging cautious prescribing if drug companies stopped promoting aggressive prescribing,” he told the Times.

U.S. deaths linked to opioids have quadrupled since 2000 to roughly 42,000 in 2016, or about 115 lives lost per day. More than 7 million Americans are estimated to have abused OxyContin since its 1996 debut, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The report said states where OxyContin abuse rates were the highest “experienced the largest increases in heroin deaths,” a research from Penn’s Wharton School and Rand said.

OxyContin has long been the world’s top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for the privately-held company.

HERBAL SUPPLEMENT KRATOM CONTAINS OPIOIDS, REGULATORS SAY

Eventually, Purdue acknowledged that its promotions exaggerated the drug’s safety and minimized the risks of addiction.

“They are still doing this abroad,” Kolodny said of their international arm Mundipharma. “They are following the same playbook that they used in the United States.”

Purdue and other opioid drugmakers and pharmaceutical distributors continue defending themselves against hundreds of local and state lawsuits seeking to hold the industry accountable for the drug overdose epidemic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2018/02/11/oxycontin-maker-says-it-will-no-longer-market-opioid-to-doctors.html

Trump Tells Shooting Survivors: Solution to Your Problem Is More Guns in School

While meeting with survivors of last weeks school shooting, President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed the idea of preventing school shootings by having more guns on campus.

One week after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the president sat for a roundtable discussion with some survivors and their families, teachers, and parents of Sandy Hook and Columbine victims, and listened to their harrowing stories, impassioned pleas, and thoughts on how to prevent future massacres.

When Trump spoke about proposed solutions, he suggested that arming teachers in their classrooms could act as a deterrent when a gunman enters a school.

If you had a teacher with, who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly, the president said. And the good thing about a suggestion like that, and were going to be looking at it very strongly, I think a lot of people are going to be opposed to it, I think a lot of people are going to like it. But the good thing is youll have a lot of people with that.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said that there actually was an armed guard on the high school campus, but that the guard never encountered alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz.

The president, appearing to reference how football coach Aaron Feis died shielding students, suggested: If the coach had a firearm in his locker he wouldnt have had to run, he would have shot [Cruz], and that would have been the end of it.

He continued: This would only obviously be for people who are very adept at handling a gun. Its called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. Theyd go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.

The president also mentioned a hypothetical scenario in which there would be armed military veterans in every school protecting students.

Youd have a lot of people that would be armed, that would be ready, Trump said. Theyre professionals, they may be Marines that left the Marines, that left the Army, left the Air Force… Theyd be spread evenly throughout the school.

If would-be school shooters knew that trained vets and armed teachers populated campuses, they wouldnt go into the school to start off with, the president said.

I think it could very well solve your problem.

He went on to say that a lot of people dont understand that airline pilots, a lot of them, carry guns. I have to say that things have changed a lot.

Trump then proceeded to poll the room of students and their families on whether they liked his idea.

Later Wednesday, the Broward County superintendent, Robert Runcie, pushed back against Trumps suggestions, saying before a CNN town hall: We dont need to put guns in the hands of teachers. You know what we need? We need to arm our teachers with more money in their pocket.

The president also spoke about mental health issues, suggesting that it should be made easier to confine an individual who hasnt yet committed a crime. Years ago, we had mental hospitals, institutions, we had a lot of them and a lot of them have closed. Some people thought it was a stigma, Trump said. Today, if you catch somebody, they dont know what to do with him. He hasnt committed the crime, but he may very well and theres no mental institution.

He also assured his audience that he supports strong background checks for gun purchases, an idea that has gained some traction in the White House.

Were going to be very strong on background checks, Trump declared. Well be doing very strong background checks. Very strong emphasis on the mental health of somebody. And we are going to do plenty of other things.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-tells-shooting-survivors-solution-to-your-problem-is-more-guns-in-school

5 Insanely Important Jobs (We’re Running Out Of People For)

Supply and demand should ensure that we never run out of people to do the really key jobs. If there was a dire shortage of, say, potato chip flavor developers (don’t panic, this is strictly theoretical), chip companies would make the salary and perks of the job more attractive, colleges would hype up the benefits of majoring in flavor science, and new blood would enter the field, bringing with them the caramel-and-Worcestershire-sauce-flavored Pringles we truly deserve. But reality is nowhere near that efficient, and we are running out of people for some especially vital jobs. For example …

5

Old Programmers Are Dying Off … And Taking Their Computer Languages With Them

As far as we’re concerned, computers are magic. We don’t know the technical details of what goes down when we order a book from Amazon or stream truly shocking amounts of pornography, and frankly, we don’t want to. That’s why we have computer programmers. They do all the important behind-the-scenes work that lets us take complicated technology for granted, and they give us someone to complain about when that technology fails and we can’t stream Gilmore Girls on our toaster at three in the morning.

But there’s a problem: An enormous amount of our financial data is stored on systems still running ancient programming. Roughly three trillion dollars a day runs through computers still operating on COBOL, a language that was developed in 1959. Everything from ATMs to credit card networks to mortgage payments rely on a system that makes calculator watches look like absurd science fiction. And the majority of people who know how to fix the many problems with COBOL are getting ready to meet their programmers.

Via Fossbytes.comSo sleep tight knowing that your paycheck could depend on a program that looks like it should be threatening Matthew Broderick with nuclear annihilation.

It’s not as simple as moving everything onto a more modern infrastructure. At this point, the financial system is so intertwined with its COBOL roots that it would be like trying to simultaneously replace all of your veins with fiber optics. A switchover is theoretically possible, but if something goes wrong, the financial data for millions of people could vanish.

Since it would be impractical to make everyone temporarily withdraw all of their money until the problem is fixed, geriatric programmers are making good money running firms that specialize in COBOL. Meanwhile, the industry is rushing to train young programmers (and rehire the old guys they fired because they thought their skills were obsolete). Further compounding the problem is that programmers of the original COBOL systems rarely wrote handbooks, and deciphering someone else’s computer code 40 years later is like trying to communicate an elaborate sexual fantasy via slide whistles.

And it’s not only banking. NASA once desperately needed to find programmers who knew Fortran to communicate with their Voyager probes. These are by no means insurmountable problems, so don’t panic and put all of your money in Dogecoins tomorrow. But it’s kind of like suddenly discovering that we have to teach thousands of people Latin to prevent the English language book industry from collapsing.

4

The Demand For Oncologists Skyrockets While Supply Plummets

We’re living longer than ever, and while that’s mostly awesome, it does have some downsides. Now that we’re not frequently devoured by wolves, we have to deal with other, increasingly common causes of death, like heart disease or insisting that you could kick everyone’s ass in a hot dog eating contest. And then there’s cancer.

We need oncologists more than ever, and that’s a problem, since burnout is taking a serious toll on that profession. We’re estimated to be short 2,500 to 4,000 oncologists by 2020. The burnout can be physical — you’re constantly required to stay up to date on lab results, deal with sudden calls from patients at all hours of the day, and fight for settlements with insurance companies — but there’s also the emotional exhaustion of forming close bonds with suffering patients, having to break difficult news to them, and in some cases, watching them die.

Association of American Medical CollegesThe news isnt really great for other specialties, either.

We need to increase the number of America’s oncologists by an estimated 40 percent by 2025 merely to keep up with the need. Improving medical care is going to make us better at surviving other diseases, which means more people are going to be confronting nature’s final boss. To close the gap between the high retirement rates and new trainees entering the field, we’ll need hundreds more people to enter oncology programs each year. And we’re currently losing them hand over fist. So if you’re getting ready for med school and have no issues with emotionally crushing situations, we’ve found a promising career for you.

3

We’re Short On Farm Labor Because It’s Such A Terrible Job

85 percent of farm laborers are immigrants, and roughly 70 percent of those immigrants are undocumented. And between 2009 and 2016, that workforce decreased by three million people due to deportation. Those who do remain are growing older, and there might not be anyone to replace them.

OK, but isn’t that the whole point of deporting undocumented immigrants? To free up jobs for unemployed citizens? In theory, yes … but not enough Americans looking for work want to get into farming. It’s exhausting, physical labor with long hours in harsh weather. One farm started offering Americans $20 an hour, but still couldn’t retain workers. 401(k)s? Health insurance? Generous bonuses? None of it makes up for the fact that the work blows, despite what Stardew Valley told you about the appeal of quitting your office job to live in the country.

Norma FloresBut hey, free housing … assuming youre OK with living in dilapidated communal barracks.

With demand vastly exceeding supply, farmers have had to rethink what they can afford to grow and harvest. Nuts, for example, can be harvested by machines, but peaches require the delicate touch of a human. But replacing human labor with machines means that only a minuscule fraction of employees will be needed in the future. So an entire industry will up and vanish, and then we’ll have to think of some new problem to blame immigrants for.

2

Nobody Wants To Be A Skilled Manufacturer Anymore

While the United States undeniably has a shortage of skilled jobs that provide stability and security, there’s also a huge, undiscussed problem in the opposite direction. We don’t have enough people trained to do skilled manufacturing jobs.

MixabestShocking how no one wants a career that will obviously be done by humans forever.

That means factory work, machine maintenance, melting Terminators in giant vats of liquid metal, etc. Up to two million of those jobs will go unfilled over the next decade just because people aren’t trained for them. We’re literally running out of people who know how to make things that aren’t Minecraft videos and snarky Tweets. Do you remember Trump saying that he wanted to bring good jobs back from overseas? Factory CEOs turned around and told him that those jobs are already here, but vacant.

Why the shortage? Well, corporations cracked down on unions, which lowered wages and led to the perception that manufacturing jobs, even skilled ones, were boring, repetitive positions for lower-class bozos. So colleges started de-emphasizing manufacturing skill sets, and graduates in relevant fields, like mechanics and engineering, started dropping accordingly. The industry is turning to automation, but factories still need employees to install and maintain those machines, and even those employees are missing.

Mixabest*cough*

If you’re a cartoonish conservative stereotype loudly wondering why “America doesn’t build things anymore,” it’s not because of them lousy foreigners. It’s because corporations neglected those jobs, and now nobody wants to do them anymore.

1

We Don’t Have Nearly Enough Pilots To Meet Our Demand For Air Travel

Air travel is perhaps the modern luxury that we most take for granted. It is a damn wonder that we hurtle through the sky at will, but tell that to the tired, grumpy people in economy. Or wait, maybe you won’t have to, because we’re running out of people who know how to operate those magical flying machines, to the point where flights are getting cancelled due to a lack of pilots. Obviously there’s a lot of training required before you can be trusted with the controls of a jet-powered carrier of human lives. In fact, after the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 (a disaster partly attributed to insufficient pilot training), the people in charge got together and said, “Hey, maybe we should re-examine how much experience pilots need before we let them take off in these soaring hunks of metal and fire that actively defy God.”

Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archives50 dead bodies do usually lead to some reevaluation.

The result was a whopping 500 percent increase in the amount of flight time required before you can pilot a passenger or cargo plane. That’s great from a safety standpoint. The more experienced the better, right? But the unfortunate side effect is that it’s turned people away from wanting to become pilots in the first place. Those new requirements, and the north of $100,000 price tag that comes along with all that education and training, make simply becoming an accountant and buying a flight simulator look a lot more appealing.

Boeing predicts that over 600,000 pilots are going to be needed over the next 20 years to fill a demand that’s already forced one regional airline into bankruptcy. The aviation industry is trying to respond by offering increased pay and sign-on bonuses, but that’s mucking things up for another industry that needs pilots: the military. In 2017, the Air Force announced a “national aircrew crisis” which left them 1,555 pilots short of what they need, and the best thing you can say about that is that Top Gun 2 might actually be topical.

Check out Dwayne’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, where you can see the famous musicians he interviews for Revue Magazine. T.W. would like you to consider checking out the International Committee of the Red Cross. They do pretty cool stuff. Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes there. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25132_5-insanely-important-jobs-were-running-out-people-for.html