Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Partnership Disabled" I Just Got Banned From Google Adsense! Now "WTF"

    Dear partonsmacosx, You may have recently received an email from about your AdSense account status. Without a valid AdSense account, you cannot participate in the YouTube Partner Program. For more information about AdSense accounts that may have been disabled for invalid click activity or other policy reasons, please visit the following articles:
    If you appeal and your AdSense account is reinstated, your YouTube partnership will be reinstated and processing may take 48 hours. Please note that it is against AdSense's Terms and Conditions to create more than one AdSense account. Sincerely,
    The YouTube Team

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      I Just Got Banned From Google Adsense! Now What?

      I got a really depressing email last week that my Google Adsense account has been shut down!
      I received the same message for all of my business accounts as well; I no longer have any access to Google Adsense.  The news fell on me like a ton of bricks, and I’m still a bit dazed and trying to climb out of of the rubble.  To say the least, it hurts…bad!  However, since I have always tried to be as open as possible here on my blog, I felt like I needed to share the news with you.


      I Just Got Banned From Google Adsense! Now What?

      I Just Got Banned From Google Adsense!  Now What? I got a really depressing email last week that my Google Adsense account has been shut down!
      I received the same message for all of my business accounts as well; I no longer have any access to Google Adsense.  The news fell on me like a ton of bricks, and I’m still a bit dazed and trying to climb out of of the rubble.  To say the least, it hurts…bad!  However, since I have always tried to be as open as possible here on my blog, I felt like I needed to share the news with you.
      Update 7/30/2012: After forming a new LLC, I was able to get another Google Adsense Account.  Read about it here: Welcome Back to Google Adsense!
      For those of you unaware,  I have been consistently averaging over $10k a month for the past year or so.  The last REAL income report where I showed my full Google Adsense income was in August 2011, where I had earnings of $13,099.49.  Since that time I have only been sharing partial results about a group of 20 sites I built or my authority site.  Overall though, my income from Google Adsense has continued to be in the six figure annual range, that is until last week.  My income from Google Adsense is now $0.  In fact, the money I earned last month will NOT be sent to me.  Google is “kind” enough to return that to the advertisers.
      So, what happened to my sites and where do I go from here?

      What Happened?

      I got the standard message from Google, which you can read here, but says: “we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity”.  These are the only details given, no specifics.  Here is the email I received:
      This message was sent from a notification-only email address that does not accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message. --------------------------------------------------------------- Hello, After reviewing our records, we've determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we've found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google's share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers. Please understand that we need to take such steps to maintain the effectiveness of Google's advertising system, particularly the advertiser-publisher relationship. We understand the inconvenience that this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation. If you have any questions or concerns about the actions we've taken, how you can appeal this decision, or invalid activity in general, you can find more information by visiting Sincerely, The Google AdSense Team
      I have of course submitted a reconsideration request, but from what I’ve heard I don’t have high expectations.
      My sites receive nearly 100% of their traffic from search engines and I NEVER click on my own ads or ask others to do so.  I’ve been using Google Adsense since 2005 and have never had issues in the past.  So, all I can say is that Google has obviously changed something on their end.  They are getting much more aggressive in closing accounts.  In fact, you have probably heard of lots of other reports of people getting the Google Adsense accounts closed as well.
      Here are just a few others that have also recently had their Adsense accounts shut down:
      Zac Johnson
      Ghauer Chaudhry
      Eric @
      Mark Peeters
      and many others.  In fact I have received a few other private emails from people in the past couple of weeks that had their Adsense accounts shut down.
      So, it appears I am not alone.  So, this isn’t something I did, but I believe Google is getting MUCH more aggressive about shutting accounts down.  I would suspect that accounts with a high number of domains are at higher risk.  That is the only thing that I can figure; lots of domains probably raises a red flag.

      Now What?

      Well, it could have been worse.  Even though my primary monetization source is gone, the source of my traffic is not.  All of my sites still rank exactly where they were before in Google.  So, with some experimentation I hope to find some other contextual advertising networks that get me close to where I was with Google Adsense.  It won’t be easy, and to be honest I would be very surprised if my sites earn what they were earning with Google Adsense with any other network.  However, hopefully I’m wrong.
      I already have approved accounts (and have for a couple of years) to the following networks:
      eBay Partner Network
      Amazon Associates Program
      I was also recently set up on Vibrant Media.  I also just applied to the advertising program.  In addition, I am approved to a ton of other affiliate networks.
      So, there are plenty of options (and MANY more besides what I have listed), but the problem is that most of these don’t pay as well as Google Adsense.  Google just has such a large pool of advertisers when compared to these other networks; therefore, there is more advertising dollars being spent on Google as these companies compete for placement on your site.
      So, I fully expect to get back some of the income, but its going to take some time.  After all, I have over 200 sites and it won’t be an easy task finding the best advertising fit for each site.  Some will do okay with Amazon, but most won’t.  Infolinks and Kontera are a quicker and easier general in-content ad solution for information sites – so I may rely heavily on these to start.  However, I have a lot of testing to do in the coming months…not fun.

      Will I Ever Use Google Adsense Again?

      I can personally never have an Adsense account under my name according to Google. Technically, I could form a new legal entity and open a new business account and make sure there is no linking information to any of my banned Adsense Accounts, and the new business entity can re-apply to Google Adsense.  However, I’m not sure I want to go down that road.  The wound is too fresh right now, so I need to take some time to think about it.  Even if I somehow got a new adsense account, I would always be in fear of the same thing happening again.  There is definitely going to be a shift in my business.
      You see, I have specialized in more informational types of sites that are best monetized with Google Adsense.  Because they have such a broad advertising network, I could (and I have) build sites on Worm Farms, Buffalo Nickels, or Oil Change Coupons, and made good money.  However, those keywords could NEVER be monetized well with Amazon Associates or many other networks.
      So, while I was using Google Adsense I could really use my skill of finding low competition keywords – because there were SO MANY to choose from.  If I don’t use Adsense, my pool of keyword choices is going to limited greatly.  At least that’s how I see it now.  Who knows though, maybe some of these other ad networks will surprise me.

      Should I Still Build Micro Niche Sites?

      I don’t know.  Its too early to say where I am going to take my business.  If any of these other ad networks are anywhere close to what Google Adsense was able to pay out, then I will likely still dabble in building small niche sites. I’m not saying I’m giving up on niche sites by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m just saying that I’m considering all options; including building larger sites, building lots of small affiliate sites, or other strategies.
      However, as I wrote about a few months ago; I’ve always known that a better strategy is to build a larger site that you are in love with and provide unique tools or other value to the end user.
      So going forward, I am going to be considering additional ideas on large niche sites (1 or 2 maybe) that I can just keep and build for years to come.  I already have one site that is only a few months old that I think has a lot of potential.  Its only getting 150 uniques or so a day, but I think it has potential for 100 times that easy and maybe more.
      I don’t know if I have the personality to do that honestly, but this is probably the best strategy for many of you out there. So, I will most likely continue to build small niche sites and grow the winners into something bigger.  I just might have to find other niches and other means of monetizing.

      Doesn’t This Change Everything?

      Yes and No.  As mentioned, as I try different revenue models, I may find something that works nearly as well as Google Adsense.  However, the skill that I have been able to master is keyword research, and that has always been the core of this business.  There is no reason why I can use this same skill of keyword research and simply apply it to either a larger site strategy or use different ad/affiliate networks.
      I wrote about the risks of building niche sites about 9 months ago. (Getting your Adsense account banned was #3).  So, I have always been VERY aware of all the risks involved, but I stuck it out because I know ALL businesses have risks.
      Luckily, for the most part, the things I have taught on this site remain unchanged.  The keyword research tactics I teach are still valid as is nearly everything else on the Niche Websites Hub.  The difference is that instead of using Google Adsense, I’ll need to find something else.  However the basic process of: finding a good niche keyword, building a site, and ranking that site remains unchanged.
      Of course, this also just makes me think longer term about the viability of micro niche sites (without Google Adsense) and the types of sites I should build in the future.  This will be an ongoing consideration.  Perhaps you should look twice at your own business as well.
      Overall, I really like the attitude that Eric Gati had when his Adsense Account was disabled recently.  He feels like he will be able to look back on the experience as one of the best things that could happen to his online business.  Perhaps I will feel same in the future.
      UPDATE: I just posted a part II of sorts to this post that covers a few more details – The Importance of Diversifying Your Online Income

      Your Thoughts

      I want to hear what you have to say.  I know that some of you look to me for guidance when it comes to Google Adsense and Niche sites; so that’s why I wanted to share this latest information.  However, I now look to you for any monetization strategies or other tactics that you have found outside of Google Adsense that have worked well for you!  What do you think, should I build small sites with affiliate products, cpa offers, or something else?  Or should I move beyond small sites and move onto something that could become a long term success?
      I also expect that many of you have other questions regarding my ban from Google Adsense that I haven’t covered.  So, feel free to ask away.
      I look forward to reading and responding to all of your comments!

West Point center cites dangers of ‘far right’ in U.S.

A West Point think tank has issued a paper warning America about “far right” groups such as the “anti-federalist” movement, which supports “civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government.”
The report issued this week by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., is titled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right.”
The center — part of the institution where men and women are molded into Army officers — posted the report Tuesday. It lumps limited government activists with three movements it identifies as “a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement.”
The West Point center typically focuses reports on al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists attempting to gain power in Asia, the Middle East and Africa through violence.
But its latest study turns inward and paints a broad brush of people it considers “far right.”
It says anti-federalists “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement.”
The report also draws a link between the mainstream conservative movement and the violent “far right,” and describes liberals as “future oriented” and conservatives as living in the past.
“While liberal worldviews are future- or progressive -oriented, conservative perspectives are more past-oriented, and in general, are interested in preserving the status quo.” the report says. “The far right represents a more extreme version of conservatism, as its political vision is usually justified by the aspiration to restore or preserve values and practices that are part of the idealized historical heritage of the nation or ethnic community.”
The report adds: “While far-right groups’ ideology is designed to exclude minorities and foreigners, the liberal-democratic system is designed to emphasize civil rights, minority rights and the balance of power.”
The report says there were 350 “attacks initiated by far-right groups/individuals” in 2011.
Details about what makes an attack a “far right” action are not clear in the report, which was written by Arie Perliger, who directs the center’s terrorism studies and teaches social sciences at West Point.
A Republican congressional staffer who served in the military told The Washington Times: “If [the Defense Department] is looking for places to cut spending, this junk study is ground zero.
“Shouldn’t the Combating Terrorism Center be combating radical Islam around the globe instead of perpetuating the left’s myth that right-wingers are terrorists?” the staffer said. “The $64,000 dollar question is when will the Combating Terrorism Center publish their study on real left-wing terrorists like the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and the Weather Underground?”

Friday, January 18, 2013

Government Scientist Gets Fired for Telling the Truth

Something’s amiss at the Department of Interior. Eight government scientists were recently fired or reassigned after voicing concerns to their superiors about faulty environmental science used for policy decisions. Which begs the question, “Are some government agencies manipulating science to advance political agendas?”
Fictional book authors operate in a convenient world, unconstrained by facts and experiences of the real world. The antithesis of works of fiction are scientific findings solely based on provable facts and experience. For agenda-driven environmental science, facts can sometime prove inconvenient. It’s far easier to advance an agenda with agreeable science, even if that means creating science fiction or fictional science. Fictional science thus becomes the pseudo-reality of environmentalist’s absolutism and any science that disagrees with their predetermined conclusions of man-made harm to the environment is ignored or distorted. Now we learn that in some government agencies, scientists who question the veracity and validity of scientific evidence used to formulate environmental regulations and policies are shunned, kept quiet, and purged.
The purpose of fictional environmental science is to sway public opinion through what amounts to propaganda. Intransigent purveyors of “green” propaganda know their greatest enemy is truth. One of the most famous propaganda experts was Germany’s Joseph Goebbels, who taught that if a lie is repeated often enough it will eventually be accepted as truth. Goebbels also knew that truth has to be suppressed if it contradicts the objectives of the propaganda. Goebbels wrote, “It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Over the past three decades, government has unleashed an unprecedented wave of environmental rules and regulations that affect nearly every aspect of American life, and for the most part the public has tolerated it. Public embrace of environmental propaganda and fear mongering about the apocalyptic consequences of mankind’s abuse of the planet have elevated environmentalism to a status above national security. The public is now more likely to give up rights and freedoms for the cause of saving the planet than for security reasons.
Rural America has long been a target of environmentalists. Government agencies such as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the DOI (Department of Interior) have been hijacked by extreme elements of environmentalism and rural America is feeling the heat. When environmental protocol is pitted against the welfare of a rural community, these agencies almost exclusively side with the environmental cause, and adverse consequences to the human element are considered last, if at all.
The Department of Interior refers to itself as the nation's landlord. It controls almost 30% of the nation's 2.27 billion acres of land and its natural resources, and as a regulatory agency, it creates policies to govern how public land and these resources are used. Under the leadership of Secretary Ken Salazar the agency has engaged in an aggressive crusade to obstruct and undermine the use of natural resources, restrict human access to public lands, and increase its influence over private property. Decisions made by the agency are presumed to be based on sound scientific analysis, but often times policy is driving the science, rather than science driving environmental policy. This has led to harmful decisions and a violation of the public trust.
A case in point is the story of DOI science adviser and scientific integrity officer, Dr. Paul Houser, who found out that by simply doing his job can be hazardous to one’s career. Dr. Houser is an expert in hydrology who was hired by DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate scientific data used in the department’s decision making process. He was assigned several Western State projects including a scheme to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Northern California—the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. When a summary of science posted on the web to support DOI’s claim for removal of the dams omitted several crucial factors from expert panel reports, Dr. Houser brought his concerns to his superiors. He was repeatedly told to refrain from sharing his concerns through electronic communication, which could be subject to Freedom of Information Act discovery.
Dr. Houser learned firsthand that policy was driving the science, rather than the other way around, when he was told by his superiors at DOI, “Secretary Salazar wants to remove those dams. So your actions here aren’t helpful.”
According to the DOI the premise for Klamath River dams removal is to restore Coho salmon spawning habitat above the dams. However, official DOI documents reveal scientific concerns that dam removal may, in fact, result in species decline based on millions of tons of toxic sediment build up behind the dams that will make its way to the ocean. Water temperature increases without the dams could also negatively impact the salmon. These studies were ignored. Concerns about the human toll and impact to local Klamath Basin communities were also brushed aside. Those most interested in the well-being of the environment they live and work in, were given a backseat to special interests thousands of miles away.
The Klamath hydroelectric dams provide clean inexpensive energy to thousands of local residents who will be forced to pay much higher premiums if the dams are removed because California has strict new laws for use of renewable energy. The town of Happy Camp sits on the banks of the Klamath River and could be wiped out with seasonal flooding without the dams. Once Coho salmon are introduced into the upper Klamath, farmers and ranchers will be faced with water use restrictions and invasive government regulation of private land. The economic impact will be devastating, property values will depreciate and the agriculture community, often operating on slim profit margins, will be subjected to the fate of the once vibrant logging industry which fell victim to the spotted owl crusades.
Last year, Dr. Houser raised these concerns and was subsequently fired by the DOI. “I put my concerns forward and immediately thereafter I was pushed out of the organization,” he stated. The agency sent a clear message to the rest of their employees and scientists - Salazar’s dam busting agenda cannot be subject to any internal scientific scrutiny. Goebbels would be proud. Truth must be repressed when it contradicts the objective.
Dr. Houser did the right thing. He did his job. His integrity as a scientist was more important than a paycheck. But he remains concerned about his colleagues in DOI, “There are a lot of good scientists that work for the government but they are scared, they are scared that what happened to me might happen to them. This is an issue (about) the honesty and transparency of government and an issue for other scientists in government who want to speak out.” A few weeks ago Dr. Houser settled a wrongful discharge case with the DOI. Terms of his settlement are not public.
Now, seven more DOI scientists working on the Klamath Project have filed a complaint with PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) claiming they have been reassigned or terminated for disagreement with the integrity of the science used to support dam removal. They have charged DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation’s management with “coercive manipulation, sublimating science to political priorities, censorship, and scientific misconduct.”
The government’s use of fictional science in the Klamath dam removal project should concern every American. Our public servants at DOI are brazenly advancing their own agendas at the expense of the truth and regardless of adverse impacts on the environment, humans, and on rural communities. Environment and human interests are not incompatible. We have to find solutions that work to the benefit of both. That requires agendas be put aside and allow complete science to determine policy.
DOI Secretary Ken Salazar is stepping down in March. His replacement needs to be someone who can be trusted to end the culture of fictional science as a means to advance environmental agendas.



Jan 18, 11:16 AM EST


AP Photo/Kjetil Alsvik


ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) -- The bloody three-day hostage standoff at a Sahara natural gas plant took a dramatic turn Friday as Algeria's state news service reported that nearly 100 of the 132 foreign workers kidnapped by Islamic militants had been freed.

That number of hostages at the remote desert facility was significantly higher than any previous report, and still meant that the fate of over 30 foreign energy workers was unclear. Yet it could indicate a potential breakthrough in the confrontation that began when the militants seized the plant early Wednesday.

The militants, meanwhile, offered to trade two captive American workers for two terror figures jailed in the United States, according to a statement received by a Mauritanian news site that often reports news from North African extremists.

The Friday report from the government news agency APS, citing a security official, did not mention any casualties in the battles between Algerian forces and the militants. But earlier it had said that 18 militants had been killed, along with six hostages.

It was not clear whether the remaining foreigners were still captive or had died during the Algerian military offensive to free them that began Thursday.

The desert siege erupted Wednesday when the militants attempted to hijack two buses at the plant, were repulsed, and then seized the sprawling refinery.

Since then, Algeria's government has kept a tight grip on information. It wasn't clear how the government arrived at the latest tally of hostages, which was far higher than the 41 foreigners the militants had claimed as hostages.

The militants had seized hundreds of workers from 10 nations at Algeria's remote Ain Amenas natural gas plant. The overwhelming majority were Algerian and were freed almost immediately.

Algerian forces retaliated Thursday by storming the plant in an attempted rescue operation that left leaders around the world expressing strong concerns about the hostages' safety.

Militants claimed 35 hostages died on Thursday when Algerian military helicopters opened fire as the Islamists transported the hostages around the gas plant.

On Friday, trapped in the main refinery area, the militants offered to trade two American hostages for two prominent terror figures jailed in the United States. Those the militants sought included Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh who was convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks and considered the spiritual leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

But U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said there would be "no place to hide" for anyone who looks to attack the United States.

"Terrorists should be on notice that they will find no sanctuary, no refuge, not in Algeria, not in North Africa, not anywhere," Panetta said Friday.

Workers kidnapped by the militants came from around the world - Americans, Britons, French, Norwegians, Romanians, Malaysians, Japanese, Algerians.

World leaders have expressed strong concerns in the past few days about how Algeria was handing the situation and its apparent reluctance to communicate.

Terrorized hostages from Ireland and Norway trickled out of the Ain Amenas plant, 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) south of Algiers, the capital. BP, which jointly operates the plant, said it had begun to evacuate employees from Algeria.

"This is a large and complex site and they are still pursuing terrorists and possibly some of the hostages," British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday in London.

He told British lawmakers the situation remained fluid and dangerous, saying "part of the threat has been eliminated in one part of the site, a threat still remains in another part."


Schemm reported from Rabat, Morocco. Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington, Lori Hinnant in Paris, and Cassandra Vinograd in London contributed to this report.


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Obama Jobs Council hits 1 year without official meeting

By JOSH GERSTEIN | 1/18/13 12:11 AM EST
President Barack Obama's Jobs Council hit a notable milestone on Thursday: one year without an official meeting. The 26-member panel is also set to expire at the end of the month, unless Obama extends its tenure.

The group, formally known as the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, last convened on Jan. 17, 2012 for a White House session where it presented formal recommendations to Obama. It was the panel's fourth official meeting since it was created in early 2011.

(PHOTOS: 39 photos from Obama’s first term)

A spokesman for Jobs Council chairman Jeffrey Immelt, who's the CEO of General Electric, referred questions about the panel's future to the White House.

A White House spokeswoman had no comment Thursday.

POLITICO caused a stir last July by reporting that the panel had not convened officially for six months. The story noted some simmering tension between the slew of business executives on the board and a pair of labor leaders who are also members of the group. The report also said that some CEOs were reluctant to appear with Obama at the height of the presidential campaign and that Obama's public attacks on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for outsourcing complicated the idea of an election-season sit-down between the president and the business leaders.

Romney leapt on the story by accusing Obama of neglecting the panel and the broader issue of job creation. The White House's initial response to the report also fanned the flames when Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama was too busy to meet the panel, a remark the Obama aide later clarified by saying the president was "extremely appreciative" of the group's work.

Immelt's spokesman, Gary Sheffer, said Thursday that the council has not been idle in the past year—despite the lack of a public meeting or a full group meeting with Obama. The GE spokesman pointed to a series of "listening and action" events across the country where members of the council—usually one or two of them—talked about the panel's work and solicited ideas from the public.

"The Council was focused in 2012 on implementing the recommendations made in its three reports. Of the 60 recommendations for executive action, significant progress has been made on 54. Also Congress passed legislation on six recommendations made by the Council," Sheffer said in an email. Council recommendations led to administration initiatives to fast-track infrastructure projects, accelerate the processing of business and tourist visas, and a program to "look back" through existing regulations for those that are outdated and burdensome, Sheffer added. He also pointed to a series of public-private initiatives council members launched to jump start job creation.

It seems unlikely the panel will meet before Jan. 31. Its meetings are required to be announced in the Federal Register at least 15 days in advance and no future meeting has been noticed, though the notices for none of the four official sessions actually made it into the official docket 15 days ahead of time.

Despite the lack of public council meetings in the past year, council members have convened a series of private conference calls where they heard reports from and interacted with senior Obama Administration officials like National Economic Council chair Gene Sperling and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Though those calls were not open to the public, the public recently got some insight into what those discussions may have been like when Jobs Council member Robert Wolf scored a half-hour-long interview with Sperling earlier this month for Wolf's Reuters TV show, "Impact Players."

Wolf, former chairman of the American divison of Swiss bank UBS, launched the show in September. The Reuters website describes Wolf as "one of President Obama’s major fundraisers and outside advisers on economic issues."

The Jobs Council is the successor to another outside panel Obama used during his first two years in office, the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, headed by former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.

Read more about: Transparency, Advisory Committees, Economy, Federal Advisory Committee Act, Gene Sperling, Unemployment, Jeffrey Immelt, Labor Unions, Job Creation, Jobs Council, Robert Wolf

Education Grant Benefits and Opportunities "FREE COLLAGE"

Guys Get in there an work the system get to collage for free!!!!!

How to Find the Right Sources

Few college-bound students have the financial resources to pay for their post-secondary education entirely out of pocket. Even students with substantial college savings plans typically find that they are left with sizable amounts of unmet need. The average total cost of attending a public four-year college is more than $20,000 per academic year. Students planning to attend a private college or university can expect to spend more than $30,000 per academic year. A college education is a costly proposition, and all indications are that those costs are only going to increase.
With the cost of a college education continuing to rise, most students will need to consider various types of financial assistance. It is not unusual for a student’s college fund to be comprised of some combination of personal savings, family contributions, scholarships, grants and student loans.
When preparing a college fund, no financial resource should be ignored. Education grants are one of the most popular, and most valuable, sources of financial assistance for college students. With the right grants, students can make their dreams of a higher education a reality.

Grants—Different from Scholarships and Student Loans

College grants are primarily awards of free money, that do not require any repayment on the part of the recipient. Unlike scholarships, which are typically awarded on the basis of academic achievement or athletic, artistic or extracurricular performance, grants are awarded according to financial need. This is not to say that academic merit will not be considered, only that financial need is given greater weight in the final decision making process.
As students begin to investigate possible grants for college, they will likely find a variety of award-for-service grants. These types of grants are typically allied to a distinct course of study, and are applied to students with definite career goals. Typically they address critical shortages in certain professional fields including healthcare, legal aid, teaching and social work. A grant-for-service requires recipients to agree to a predetermined term of service, working within their chosen field, at a critical need facility or in an under-served community. If the student fails to meet their obligations, the grant will revert to a standard student loan, and the student will be expected to repay all monies received plus interest.
Grants for college-bound students are supported by a variety of different sources, including:
  • Federal and State Governments
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Public and Private Organizations
  • Professional Associations
Regardless of the source of the grants, the purpose remains the same : to make a college education more accessible to all students by supplying the necessary supplemental funds to help them meet their total college costs.

Federal Grants

Federal grant programs for college-bound students form the bedrock of all financial aid in the United States. These programs should be the first stop for all students looking for financial assistance to help them pay for college. Federal education grants are funded by the government, and administered through the U. S. Department of Education. Federal education grants help thousands of students pay for college every year. Without these grants, many students would not be able to realize their higher educational goals.
The following Federal grant programs are currently being offered to U.S. Students.
  • The Federal Pell Grant – Since 1972 the Federal Pell Grant has been helping students in the United States fund their college educations. More students rely on Pell grants for financial assistance than any other grant program in America.
  • The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant – The FSEOG is designed to give financial aid to undergraduate students with extreme financial need. The FSEOG program is funded by the Federal government, and administered through the financial aid offices of participating colleges and universities. Students must apply through their college of choice, and grants are awarded on a first come, first served basis.
  • The Federal TEACH Grant – The TEACH Grant is an example of an award-for-service program. The grant provides Federal funding to students who agree to take up a teaching position in a high need field, or critical shortage facility, following graduation. Recipients must sign a contract agreeing to a predetermined time of service. Students who fail to fulfill their teaching obligations will have their grant revert to a student loan, and will be responsible for the full repayment, plus interest, of that loan.

State Grants

Every state in the union has a Department of Higher Education that monitors, and regulates, the colleges and universities within that state. Most states offer their resident students some degree of college financial aid, either through their Department of Higher Education or through a dedicated Student Assistance Commission. Scholarship and grant programs are common at the state level, and are typically supported by state and local taxes, and/or state lottery funds.
State-funded college grants typically address financial needs of low-income students, as well as encouraging and supporting women and minority students in their college careers. States also often offer career-specific grants-for-service to those students pursuing degrees and careers in high demand fields such as teaching and nursing.
Grant programs will vary widely from state to state, and students are encouraged to refer to our section on State Supported Grants and Scholarships for more information on state-funded financial aid programs, and for links to information on financial aid programs specific to their state.

Non-Government Grants

Once students have exhausted the available Federal and state supported grants, they may wish to look to other sources for financial assistance. Many grants for college-bound students can be found in the private sector. Corporations and professional associations often offer grants for deserving students who are pursuing degrees in fields closely allied to that business or organization. College grants can also be found through religious organizations, as well as clubs and associations dedicated to community service. These grant programs may have very specific eligibility requirements, but they do offer substantial financial assistance to those students who meet the necessary criteria.
Colleges and universities can also be prime sources for grants. Often, colleges will be given private endowments from individuals and businesses for the purpose of providing financial aid to deserving students. Again, privately endowed grants and scholarships tend to have highly specific eligibility requirements, and may target certain portions of the population such as women or minorities. They may also be dedicated to students pursuing degrees in specific fields or disciplines.
Students searching for non-government funded college grants should begin by combining their status as a student (undergraduate or graduate), their field of interest and their personal background (minority status, gender, etc). Many grant programs can be found with a focused search of the internet, or through the financial aid offices of colleges and universities. This can be time consuming, but the rewards can be grants

Grant Categories

Some college grant programs are open to all students regardless of background or field of study. These are considered General Grants, and typically are decided according to financial need and academic performance. A great number of college grants, however, are designed to target specific portions of the population or students pursuing particular degrees or career paths. These can be broken down into the following categories.
As with all college grants, funding may be provided by a variety of sources, including state governments, professional associations, corporations, colleges and universities.

Popular Student-Specific Grants

The width and breadth of the student population in the United States continues to grow and change as more and more students head to college to improve their education and professional opportunities. The American collegiate population is made up of a diverse array of students of all types and backgrounds. Grants for college-bound students are often designed to benefit specific types of students, and to address their particular financial needs. The most common student-specific grant programs fall into the following categories.
  • Non-traditional
  • Low-income and culturally disadvantaged
  • Military and their dependents
Women and minorities make up a large section of the national student body, and there are a large number of grant programs that target both groups. We will discuss grants dedicated to their needs in a later section.

Non-traditional Students

The traditional model of a college-bound student is beginning to change. While the majority of college students are still newly minted high school graduates, more and more adult learners are headed to colleges and universities across the country. Some may be returning to school to finish degrees that were interrupted by work and family commitments, while others may be attending college for the first time for training courses to help them achieve greater success in the national workforce. Non-traditional students include single parents, displaced workers, returning military veterans and adults seeking new career opportunities.
Grants for non-traditional students are sponsored by variety of different sources, including state and local governments, corporations, advocacy groups and professional associations. These programs provide vital financial assistance to those non-traditional students who are looking to improve their lives, and the lives of their families, through higher education.

Low Income and Disadvantaged Students

Most college grants are designed to address the needs of students who are facing a financial shortfall in their college funding. That being said, a wide range of grant programs are dedicated to providing financial aid to students in more extreme circumstances. Grants for low-income students are specifically designed to address the financial needs of students from economic or socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Typically, these programs will be sponsored by state and Federal governments, advocacy groups and charitable foundations.
In addition to grants dedicated to the economically disadvantaged, there are a wide range of grant programs designed to target the needs of students with both physical and mental disabilities. Grants for students with disabilities help to increase college accessibility to students facing a wide range of personal challenges, including blindness, hearing impairment, autism, and decreased mobility due to physical impairment. Disabled students looking for grants to help them pay for college should begin their search by focusing on advocacy groups and charitable foundations dedicated to the needs of people with their particular disability.

Grants for Military Students and Families

One of the most significant sources of grants for college is the United State’s Armed Forces. Education grants from the military help enlisted service-members, their spouses and their dependent children, find the resources they need to pay for college. Each branch of the military, including the army, navy, air force and marines, provides financial aid programs to benefit their service-members. Military sponsored grants are also offered to the children and spouses of service-members who have been killed, or disabled, in the line of duty.
While military sponsored grant programs offer valuable financial assistance, it should be noted that they are only available to enlisted members of the armed services. Serving one’s country in a military capacity is a noble and honorable choice, but it should not be made lightly. Students considering military sponsored financial aid for college should be certain that they fully understand their obligations as enlisted personnel in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Subject-Specific Grants

Many grant programs are dedicated to the needs of students pursuing specific degrees, and with specific career goals. Typically, these programs are designed to encourage and support those students who are pursuing professional careers in high need fields such as science, mathematics, healthcare, and education. These subject specific grants are sponsored by a variety of sources, including Federal and state governments, corporations and professional associations.

The STEM Subjects

There is currently a national push to encourage students to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The United States is currently falling behind in the number of students graduating with professional degrees in the STEM fields. Consequently, grants have become more abundant for students pursuing studies in these fields. These grant programs are typically sponsored by Federal agencies, state governments and professional associations.


Many regions of the country are currently experiencing critical shortages in licensed healthcare personnel. Nurses, nurse practitioners, and primary care physicians are all in great demand across the country. Grant programs, supported by both public and private sources, have been put into place to encourage students to pursue careers in the healthcare industry. Many of these grants are award-for-service programs, and recipients will be required to serve a predetermined time of service in a high need medical facility, or under-served urban or rural community.
healthcare grants


The American school system, like the healthcare system, is also experiencing a critical shortage of qualified professionals. Teachers are in great demand, particularly in historically under-served communities. Grants for educators are available from a variety of sources, including professional teaching associations, private endowments, and state governments. Many of these programs, particularly those supported by state governments, are award-for-service programs. Recipients will be required to sign a contract agreeing to a term of service teaching at a high need school, or in an under-served community.

A Note on Grant-For-Service Programs

Many grants dedicated to specific career paths are, in fact, award-for-service programs. These programs perform two functions; they give much needed financial aid to talented students pursuing careers in high need fields, and they help to secure and retain talented professionals in communities that are experiencing critical manpower shortages. Students entering into a grant-for-service program should understand that they are agreeing to a binding contract, and will be obligated to fulfill all the of the particulars of that contract. Students who fail to meet their award-for-service obligations will find that their grants will revert to standard student loans, and they will be expected to repay all monies received plus interest.

Degree Level Specific Grants

Undergraduate Grants

Grants for undergraduate students are a large part of the financial aid landscape. These programs may provide general grant funding for students pursuing any number of degrees, or they may be specific to undergraduates enrolled in science, mathematics or engineering courses. Grants for undergraduate students are available from Federal and state governments, colleges and universities, corporations and professional associations.

Graduate and Doctoral Students

Grants for doctoral candidates and graduate students are highly competitive, and focus on the financial needs of students engaged in research to complete their high level degrees. These grants are often referred to as fellowships, and are typically sponsored by colleges and universities as a way of bringing the best and brightest graduate students to their campuses. Unlike the more traditional undergraduate grants, these programs place a great amount of weight on academic achievement. Financial need is a secondary consideration. Grants for graduate and doctoral students are typically high dollar awards, and will include funds for research related travel and stipends for living expenses.

Minority Specific Grants

Many grant programs exist to serve the needs of minority groups who have a history of being under-represented in the American higher education system. While great strides have been made over the last few decades, more work needs to be done to expand and diversify the American collegiate student body. Grants for minorities, and for women, are sponsored by a variety of sources, including state and Federal governments, professional associations, corporations, colleges, universities, charitable foundations and advocacy groups.

Grants for African American Students

African-American students will find a wide range of grants designed to help them pursue their dreams of a college education. For too long African-Americans were under-represented in the halls of academia. But with the help of publicly and privately funded grant programs, they are beginning to take their rightful place on college campuses across the country. Over the last decade, the number of African-Americans graduating with a four-year degree has risen sharply, and dedicated grant programs for African-American students are helping more and more students of color pursue their dreams of a higher education.

Hispanic Students

Hispanics are now the fastest growing minority population in the United States. Unfortunately, the rise in population numbers is not yet adequately reflected in the number of college-bound Hispanic students. This is beginning to change, however, and the availability of dedicated college grants for Hispanic students is on the rise. Grants for Hispanic students are supported by charitable foundations and advocacy groups, as well as by corporations and professional associations dedicated to diversifying the American workforce. Hispanic students will find a large number of grants designed to encourage them to pursue specific career paths, with an emphasis on science, mathematics and technology.

Native American Students

Grants for Native American students may be less prevalent than those for other minorities, but they are beginning to become more plentiful. State governments, advocacy groups and private endowments support a growing number of grants dedicated to helping Native-Americans pursue a college education. Many of these programs target members of specific Native-American tribes, and students will be required to present documentary evidence of their American Indian heritage. A large number of grants for Native-American students are career-specific, with an emphasis on healthcare, education, science and technology.

Asian American Students

Asian-Americans are one of the fastest growing ethnic populations in the United States. While Asian immigrants have been part of the American workforce for more than a hundred years, they have been historically under-represented in mainstream colleges and universities. That is beginning to change, and more Asian-American students are headed to college than ever before. For many, they may be the first in their family to pursue a college education. Grants for Asian-American students are supported by a variety of charitable foundations, corporations and private endowments. Like many grants dedicated to the financial needs of minority students, many grants for Asian-Americans place a particular emphasis on specific career paths, including science, technology, education and journalism.

Grants for Women

Women make up 51% of the population of the United States, yet are still considered a minority. While the numbers may prove that women are a majority of the American populace, they unfortunately remain under-represented on most mainstream college campuses across the country. Private women’s colleges have a long history of providing solid educations with an emphasis on career self-sufficiency. But the need for greater diversity at mainstream colleges and universities still remains, as does the need to diversify the American workforce.
Many organizations, professional associations and advocacy groups have developed a wide range of grants designed to help women take their rightful place in America’s halls of higher education. Grant programs for women are designed to encourage female students to pursue degrees, and careers, in a wide range of fields in which they have been historically under-represented. Education grants for women typically focus on disciplines in need of greater diversity, such as science, mathematics, technology and business.
Grants provide much needed financial support for students of all types, and from a variety of diverse backgrounds. For many students, education grants mean the difference between achieving their college dreams and having those dreams deferred. Students should make the search for college grants a priority when preparing for college. Before considering any high cost college loans, students should investigate the many and varied grant opportunities that may be available to them.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fast And Furious Scandal: Man Claims To Have Shot U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

A Mexican national claims to be the man who shot and killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, whose death is tied to the "Fast and Furious" gun-walking scandal.
Gustavo Cruz-Lozano, who says he killed Terry, turned himself in on Wednesday on charges related to a separate incident: threatening to kill Hidalgo County, Texas Sheriff Lupe Treviño.
But before he surrendered himself, Cruz-Lozano said in an exclusive interview with Univision News' daily news magazine show "Primer Impacto" that he murdered Terry during a firefight on Dec. 14, 2010, while the agent was on patrol near the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. Two AK-47 rifles found at the scene were linked to the botched Operation Fast and Furious, in which the U.S. government sought to track firearms sales to violent drug cartels. But it remains unclear whether those weapons were used to kill Terry.
Cruz-Lozano, 41, was not one of the several suspects arrested in the aftermath of Terry's slaying. But in an interview with Univision News, he insisted he is the one who pulled the trigger on Terry.
"We had a drug shipment and when they took us by surprise, people started surrounding them, and that's when we ambushed them," he told "Primer Impacto" correspondent Natalia Cruz. "When they started surrounding them and they had no time to react, I was the one, I was the one that killed him."
John Moore/Getty Images
A U.S. Border Patrol agent wears a black band... View Full Size
Until now, the identity of the trigger man in Terry's murder has been unknown. The Federal Bureau of Investigation requested to see Cruz-Lozano's interview with Univision News. Cruz-Lozano agreed to the interview, which aired on Thursday, on the condition that his face be covered.
One man has already pleaded guilty for participating in Terry's murder: Mexican national Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, the Associated Press reported in October 2012. Osorio-Arellanes faces life in prison.
When Univision News contacted the Terry family's attorney, Lincoln Combs, for a reaction to Cruz-Lozano's claims, he expressed skepticism about the possibility that Cruz-Lozano was involved in the killing since his name had not been part of the investigation thus far.
The attorney said that the alleged perpetrators of Terry's death had been previously identified by the authorities. Out of the five drug cartel members involved in the killing, two are being held in the United States (the Osorio brothers), one is in custody in Mexico (Jesus Leonel Sanchez Meza) and and two others, identified as Jesus Favela Astorga and Ivan Rosario Soto Barraza, are missing. The U.S. government has offered $25,000 for information that would lead to their capture.
Another man who purchased the two rifles found at the scene of Terry's death, Jaime Avila, Jr., was sentenced last month to nearly five years in federal prison.
The "Fast and Furious" scandal sent political shockwaves through the Obama administration. Critics called the operation irresponsible for allowing guns to enter into the hands of cartel members. Around 1,400 of the 2,000 guns purchased as part of the operation were lost and nearly 100 were used in crimes in Mexico, according to a Univision News investigation.
Dozens of Republican lawmakers called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign, alleging that he should be held accountable for the operation, which was run out of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Ultimately, the Department of Justice's inspector general issued a report that cleared Holder and placed blame on other ATF and DOJ officials.
Cruz-Lozano told Univision News that he was going to reveal his identity to FBI officials because he is tired of being a fugitive and that he hopes that by turning himself in, he could receive life in prison instead of the death penalty. He also claimed that he threatened Sheriff Treviño because he was investigating drug traffickers in the area.
"If it were in front of this man, not only would say that I am sorry but that I am willing to pay for all the crimes I committed," said Cruz-Lozano.