Friday, October 24, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

THE UNFRIENDLY SKIES OF INEQUALITY

For those who don't like reading graphs and numbers on inequality in America, this helps us understand what's been happening to our economy and society over the past 40 years.


If this were a 2009-2010 airplane, we would probably see a few passengers being pushed out of the plane without a parachute ... with predictable results.




Just saying.

- Mark 

READING (10-23-14)


Which NFL team rules the U.S.? The geography of NFL fandom (The Atlantic).

How Germany managed to abolish university tuition fees (Truthout).

Zach Galifianakis says everything you want to say about Justin Bieber on "Between Two Ferns" (The Atlantic).

Holy Pornocopia, Batman ... The "Bible Belt" is the Porn Belt (Patheos)?


CONSERVATIVE MYOPIA
Conservatives continue to get Iraqi WMD story very wrong (MSNBC).

George W. Bush: The gift that keeps on giving (Truthout).


THINGS WE CONTINUE TO GET WRONG
$100 million in taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil promotes fracking in California (Buzz Flash).

The making of Ferguson: Long before the shooting of Michael Brown official racial-isolation policies created a powder keg (The American Prospect).

John Oliver on how America is turning its back on Middle Eastern translators who risked their lives (Truthdig).

President Obama putting key priorities on hold until after midterm elections (LA Times).

Journalist Risen: 'Mercenary Class' now a permanent fixture in National Security State (Bullhorn / Nation of Change).


IF THEY HATE US, THIS HELPS EXPLAIN WHY
Obama could reaffirm a Bush-era reading of a treaty on torture (NY Times).

Germany asked to send Ebola virus - along with other related diseases - to the U.S. Army. The Army declines to provide assurances that it will NOT 'weaponize' the virus (Russian Times).


A (SOMEWHAT) LONG BUT NECESSARY READ
The imperative of revolt (Chris Hedges / Truthdig).


VOTING AND THE SUPREME COURT
The U.S. Supreme Court allows Texas to use controversial voter-ID law (Washington Post).

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights (Slate).

Sweet irony ... An 1865 ruling in favor of Confederate soldiers just protected the vote for minorities in Arkansas (Slate).


AMERICAN DECLINE
The evaporation of democracy in America (Truthout).

The United States is #1 ... but in what (Truthout)?

Venezuela accorded a seat on the United Nations Security Council ... Washington suffers a setback to its prestige (Council on Hemispheric Affairs).


MISCELLANEOUS
23 things that could only exist in the Silicon Valley (Buzzfeed).

10 states most dependent on the federal government (Wall St. Cheat Sheet).

Judge deprives Monsanto of GM planting permit in Mexico, protects the bees (Nation of Change).

California Drought: Paradise Burning (The New Yorker).

Farms angry at Labor Department for cracking down on suspected labor abuses (Truthout).

- Mark

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

THE UNITED NATIONS: 69 YEARS OLD THIS WEEK

Below is animated map of how the United Nations has grown since its founding on October 24, 1945. Today the United Nations counts in with 193 nation-states as members.
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Interesting UN Trivia:

1. The Vatican (the Holy See) and Palestine have "Observer Status" while Intergovernmental Organizations - like the European UnionINTERPOL, and the International Criminal Court - are invited to participate as permanent members.

2. Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations but a Somalia is.

3. The Coca Cola company claims to have a presence in over 200 countries. Go figure.

- Mark

MINIMUM WAGE NOT A DOOR OPENING ENTRY WAGE ... IT'S AN ANCHOR WAGE FOR THE WORKING POOR


Fortune's Rick Ungar has an interesting article on Chris Christie's collapsing (collapsed?) presidential hopes. The interesting point of the article is what Ungar has to say about minimum wage. In a few words he makes it clear that at least 2/3 of our nation's more than 3.5 million minimum wage earners are young women.




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What's interesting here is how our minimum wage demographics has changed.

FiveThirtyEight's Ben Casselman writes that in 1990 nearly 25 percent of minimum wage earners were teenagers, or people trying to supplement their income. Today, just 13 percent of our nation's minimum wage earners fit this category. Taking this to another level, census data shows that more than half of all workers who earn below President Obama's proposed $10.10 minimum wage are trying to support themselves.

In spite of what pundits and conservative politicians are saying, minimum wage is not an opening door entry wage for America's youth. It's a way of life anchor that's weighing down America's working poor.



So, once again, a rising tide does not lift all boats. With record corporate earnings and profits - especially in the financial sector - it's clear that tax cuts for the rich (a.k.a. "trickle down" economics) is a farce. It always has been.

- Mark 

DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA

How the top 1% shop on line ...


- Mark 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN WHINE COUNTRY WHEN ...

You know you're living in Whine Country when your local news stories include complaints from whiny millionaire peasants like this ...



- Mark 

PAYDAY LOANS AND WEALTH EXTRACTION IN AMERICA



How we punish the poor for being poor: The case of predatory subprime auto loans and financial fee games are reviewed here in Talk Poverty. It's really just wealth extraction, with the poor getting the short end of the stick (again). Here's John Oliver's humorous but sad take on payday loans ...



- Mark

Monday, October 20, 2014

FOR THE CONSPIRACY THEORY BUFFS OUT THERE ... ANOTHER ANTI-PETRODOLLAR CHIEFTAN DIES

Quick, what did Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and France's Christophe de Margerie, the now former CEO of Total have in common? They all pondered a world where petroleum was no longer paid for in U.S. dollars.


One more thing. They're all dead now.

The Russian Times is reporting that Christophe de Margerie was among four people killed in a business jet crash in Moscow. The plane hit a snowplow on take-off.



Three months ago the CEO of Total - the 13th largest oil company in the world - Christophe de Margerie not only said "There is no reason to pay for oil in dollars" but also made it clear that he was interested in pursuing a natural gas project with sanctioned-drenched Russia.

While initial reports suggest that the reasons for the plane crash seem "obvious" the fact that Christophe de Margerie did not fully embrace the petrodollar politics surrounding global oil markets raises many issues that the conspiracy theory buffs will be sure to jump on.

Stay tuned.

- Mark