Friday, December 4, 2015

US adds 211,000 jobs in Nov; Poor urban planning feeds South India misery; 'Dumb people' post inspirational quotes, finds study

1 US adds 211,000 jobs in Nov (Jana Kasperkevic in The Guardian) The US economy added 211,000 jobs in November, slightly better than expectations, with the unemployment rate remaining steady at 5%, the US Department of Labor has announced.

The report is the last before the Federal Reserve meets on 15-16 December to determine whether it should raise interest rates. The last time the Fed raised interest rates was June 2006. Friday’s job report would have had to have been a “disaster” for the Fed to delay raising interest rates, said economists. The addition of 211,000 jobs likely paves the way for a rate hike later this month.

Economists expected the US economy to add 200,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 5%, a seven-and-a-half-year low. “This is exactly what the Fed is looking for: solid job growth – better than 200,000 – plus an upward revision to both September and October numbers; decent gain in average hourly gain; unemployment rate still at 5%,” said Gus Faucher, senior macroeconomist at PNC Financial Services Group.

In October, US employers smashed expectations and added 271,000 jobs, the largest number of any month so far this year. Friday’s report included upward revisions to that number: according to the Department of Labor, an additional 27,000 jobs were created in October and about 8,000 more jobs were created in September than originally believed.

As the unemployment rate has gone down, employers have had to offer better pay to attract better job applicants. According to Jim O’Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics, recent jobless claims data shows no signs of labor market weakening. Last week’s claims came in at 269,000 – 9,000 more than the week before – but still near levels last seen in 1973.

2 Poor urban planning feeds South India misery (San Francisco Chronicle) The relentless rains that lashed southern India's Tamil Nadu state for three days eased Friday, but the misery of tens of thousands of people was far from over, with large parts of the main city still underwater along with the region's biggest airport.

As Chennai, the state capital, reeled from the heaviest rains in over a century, experts said the devastation was in large part due to the same breakneck and haphazard urban planning that has marked many of India's major cities.

It's a pattern that's been repeated for at least a decade. In 2005, India's commercial capital Mumbai came to a standstill after several days of monsoon rains. Last year, Srinagar in Indian Kashmir, saw massive devastation as flood waters swallowed a city where unchecked construction had blocked rainwater channels and eaten into wetlands.

India's main monsoon season runs from June through September, but for Chennai and the rest of India's southeastern coast, the heaviest rainfall is from October to December — also called the retreating monsoon.

This year's deluge — which experts linked to the El Nino weather pattern, when the waters of the Pacific Ocean get warmer than usual — caught Chennai, with a population of 9.6 million, completely unprepared. Chennai's airport was closed for a third day.

"We have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that our urban sprawls such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Srinagar etc have not paid adequate attention to the natural water bodies that exist in them," said Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment, an advocacy and research organization.

"In Chennai, each of its lakes has a natural flood discharge channel which drains the spillover. But we have built over many of these water bodies, blocking the smooth flow of water," she said. "A lot of people built their houses on lake beds. The government should not have approved those projects. Now they are all submerged," he said.

3 ‘Dumb people’ post inspirational quotes, shows study (Khaleej Times) Are you a Deepak Chopra fan and love to bombard your friends' Facebook wall with inspirational quotes? This may sweep the floor off your feet but according to interesting research, people who post motivational quotes on Facebook and Twitter are actually dumb and "have lower levels of intelligence".

In a study titled "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bulls***t", psychologists from University of Waterloo in Canada examined whether some people are more receptive to some silly inspirational statements than others. The findings show that there is a definite link between low intelligence and being impressed by what looks like "profound statements".

During four experiments involving 845 volunteers, the team asked the participants to evaluate a series of statements to indicate how profound they thought they were or if they agreed with them. They used phrases such as "attention and intention are the mechanics of Manifestation" and "imagination is inside exponential space time events". Most of the quotes were posted on Twitter by New Age guru Deepak Chopra.

To reach the conclusion, lead researcher Gordon Pennycook and his colleagues utilised a website called to generate random insightful statements. Some examples were: "This life is nothing short of an ennobling oasis of self-aware faith" and "Today, science tells us that the essence of nature is guidance", including others. The team found that certain people are more receptive to these nonsensical statements.

The researchers found that individuals who were unable to discern a "bullshit" statement and rated them as profound were less intelligent and unlikely to engage in reflective thinking. They were also more vulnerable to ontological confusions and conspiracy theories and more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs.

"One benefit of gaining a better understanding of how we reject other's b******t is that it may teach us to be more cognizant of our own b******t," the authors concluded. The results appeared in the journal Judgment and Decision Making.

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