- Budget Deficit
- Child Heroes
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- Progressive Views
- Religion and Politics
- Social Security
- Swine Flu
- Presidential Debates: A Teachable Moment (PBS News)
Shows what students can learn from presidential debates. 01-13
- -Catastrophic Climate Change (Awesome Library)
"Our quality of life cannot survive in a world with massive climate change…and massive climate change is very likely unless we aggressively sequester the excessive carbon dioxide (CO2) already in the atmosphere."
- Current Events Test (PewResearch.org)
This is a test of your general knowledge about the positions of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. 05-16
- -001 U.S. Security Agencies Report on Russian Attempt to Discredit Clinton (DNI.gov)
Provides the report.
Editor's Note: Despite false claims by Donald Trump, the report made no assessment on what extent the Russian effort influenced the election results. 01-17
- -001 U.S. Security Agencies: Russia Tried to Discredit Clinton (NBC News)
"In 'Key Judgments,' the report says, 'We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.' "
"The report also says that the Russian hacking campaign targeted or compromised 'elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards,' but not systems involved in vote tallying."
Editor's Note: Despite false claims by Donald Trump, the report made no assessment on what extent the Russian effort influenced the election results. 01-17
- -01 Carbon-Negative Biochar and the Tipping Point (e360.Yale.edu)
"As the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere climbs to 400 parts per million and beyond, and the impacts of climate change become more unmistakable and destructive — rapid melting of Arctic Ocean ice, a rising incidence of extreme weather events — the case for extracting carbon from the atmosphere becomes increasingly compelling. Reducing the world’s emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases — the focus of virtually all public discussion and government policy on climate at the moment — remains vital, but as a practical matter that effort only affects how quickly the 400 ppm figure will increase. Turning biomass into biochar and burying it underground effectively withdraws CO2 from the atmosphere; if done at sufficient scale and in combination with aggressive reductions in annual greenhouse gas emissions, biochar thus could help reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2."
"Johannes Lehmann, a professor of agricultural science at Cornell University and one of the world’s top experts on biochar, has calculated that if biochar were added to 10 percent of global cropland, the effect would be to sequester 29 billion tons of CO2 equivalent — roughly equal to humanity’s annual greenhouse gas emissions." 01-14
- -01 Climate Change: The Delicate Balance (Awesome Library)
"Before 10,000 years ago, the climate was so unstable that agriculture was very difficult. Then a beautiful, delicate balance occurred: The polar caps, ocean currents, greenhouse gases, volcanic activity, and other factors became just right for stable temperatures. Agriculture flourished. The amount of carbon dioxide going into the air (over 300 gigatons per year) was countered by natural sinks that pulled an equal amount of carbon dioxide out of the air. The primary cause of carbon dioxide going into the air was decaying vegetation. The primary sinks pulling carbon dioxide out of the air were the oceans, growing vegetation, and the soil. All was well."
"The industrial revolution has changed that balance. We now have over 40% more carbon dioxide in the air than we had just 150 years ago. The climate is changing. The primary human cause of the change is the use of fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels puts carbon dioxide into the air and carbon dioxide can stay in the air for hundreds of years."
"The most effective way we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is to pyrolize decaying vegetation." 02-14
- -01 How Much Carbon Dioxide Is Too Much? (TruthOut.org)
"New work from the France, Japan and Great Britain institutes of sciences and meteorology have new modeling that reveals the true challenge of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Under the best case scenario, negative emissions of 135 percent of annual emissions are required. For the worst-case scenario that we are currently tracking, negative emissions of 210 percent of annual emissions are required."
"The US commitment at the UN Climate Conference that concluded this month in Paris was for 80 percent emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2050. Commitments for developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol were 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. (4) The current US commitment is 27 percent less with a 30 year delayed target."
"Climate science is way out in front of climate policy." 12-15
- -01 How Some Historians View the 2016 Presidential Election (Time.com)
"I think historians of the future will think of this as a major turning point in not only how America adapts to a more globalized economy, but equally what this will have said about our democratic political system. This of course will all depend on how the future transpires in general, and what the Trump administration achieves in particular. I also think many historians will see this as a major example of resistance to a more multicultural America, perhaps akin to the suppression of Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War. Perhaps the most astute will consider how these two primary questions, diversity and the resistance to globalized economic inequality, have shaped and will continue to shape contemporary America." 11-16
- -01 Most Greenhouse Gas Energy Goes into the Oceans (ClimateCentral.org)
"For every 10 joules of energy that our greenhouse gas pollution traps here on Earth, about 9 of them end up in an ocean. There, the effects of global warming bite into fisheries, ecosystems and ice. But those effects are largely imperceptible to humans — as invisible to a landlubber as an albatross chomping on a baited hook at the end of a long line."
" 'We continue to be stunned at how rapidly the ocean is warming,' Sarah Gille, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor, said when we spoke with her earlier this year. 'Extra heat means extra sea level rise, since warmer water is less dense, so a warmer ocean expands.' " 01-15
- -01 Syrian Boy After Bomb Strike (Time.com)
A Syrian 6-year-old boy sitting silently in an ambulance after a bomb strike has become the face of the Syrian war and the lack of political will to protect Syrian civilians. 08-16
- -01 We Are the Last Generation Able to Stop Climate Change (PBS.org)
"We are the first generations that have truly had the opportunity to end poverty, and we are the last generations to be able to stop climate change." 12-15
- -01 Why 2 Degrees Are So Important (CBS News)
"As the United Nations conference on climate change gets underway Monday in Paris, one temperature that will be on everyone's minds is 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Although it might not sound like a big number, climatologists predict that if the planet warms a total of 2 degrees more than its average temperature before the Industrial Revolution -- when humans started burning fossil fuels -- the results could be catastrophic." 12-15
- -01-05 Study: Global Warming Data Confirmed (CBS News)
"A new independent study shows no pause in global warming, confirming a set of temperature readings adjusted by U.S. government scientists that some who reject mainstream climate science have questioned."
"The adjustments, made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2015 to take into account changes in how ocean temperatures have been measured over the decades, riled a House committee and others who claimed the changes were made to show rising temperatures. The House Science Committee subpoenaed the agency’s scientists and then complained that NOAA wasn’t answering its requests quickly enough." 01-17
- -01-17 Data Analysis: Temperature "Hiatus" False (Time.com)
"The 'newly corrected and updated global surface temperature data from NOAA's NCEI do not support the notion of a global warming "hiatus," ' wrote the study authors." 01-17
- -01-17 Editorial: Pruitt Not an Advocate for Environmental Protection (Time.com)
"As the Senate prepares for Scott Pruitt’s Jan. 18 confirmation hearing, much of the debate over Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency has centered on Pruitt’s doubts about global climate change. And though it would be genuinely appalling to have an EPA Administrator who doesn’t accept basic climate science, the trouble with Pruitt goes deeper. As the Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt has shown he is not only a relentless opponent of EPA standards for climate pollution. He has been a relentless opponent of basic pollution limits as well, the kind that protect us from mercury, smog, arsenic and other deadly air toxics. He questions whether toxic mercury pollution is hazardous to public health. He shut down his office’s Environmental Protection Unit. And now he wants to do for the United States what he did for Oklahoma." 01-17
- -01-17 The Wealth of 8 Equals the Wealth of Half the World (CBS News)
"The apparently inexorable advance of the rich-get-richer economy has boiled down to this startling fact: just 8 men control as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population, roughly 3.6 billion people." 01-17
- -01-21 Fact Checking Inaugural Speech (ABC News)
"During his inaugural address, President Donald Trump made a number of claims about the state of the nation as he takes office." 01-17
- -01-21 Trump Raised Many First-Time Owner Mortgage Payments (Time.com)
"In one of his very first substantive moves as president, Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that will result in a hike to many first-time homeowners’ mortgage bills.""Trump’s decision to undo the Obama-era rate reduction, thus resulting in an uptick on borrowers’ bills, will have very little effect on wealthier mortgage holders, since the program only applies to those with low incomes, middling credit scores or who have less than a 20% down payment on their homes." 01-17
- -01-22 Editorial: How Trump Differs from European Nationalists (Time.com)
"There is no doubt that President Donald Trump is surfing the same wave as European authoritarian nationalists like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, France’s Marine Le Pen, Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, Austria’s Norbert Hofer or Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski."
"The parallels are many. Yet, during this apparent moment of political convergence, the U.S. is diverging from Europe in one fundamental aspect. While Trump might resemble these European nationalists, he has tied himself to a Republican Party that is quite distinct from the parties they lead." 01-17
- -01-23 Editorial: Did Trump Start the Women's March Movement? (Washington Post)
"It matters that the crowd for the Women’s March on Washington was far bigger than that for President Trump’s inauguration. The new president often boasts of having started a great movement. Let it be the one that was born with Saturday’s massive protests."
"If size is important, and apparently to Trump it is, there was no contest. The Metro transit system recorded 1,001,613 trips on the day of the protest, the second-heaviest ridership in history — surpassed only by ridership for President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. By contrast, just 570,557 trips were taken Friday, when Trump took the oath of office." 01-17
- -01-23 Trump Ends TPP Trade Agreement (Time.com)
"President Trump took his first steps toward implementing his economic agenda Monday, signing an executive action removing the U.S. from a planned free trade deal and meeting with some of the country’s top business leaders."
"On Monday, Trump fulfilled a core campaign promise to end U.S. participation the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the accord negotiated by the Bush and Obama administrations that has been held up by bipartisan opposition in Congress amid renewed populist and protectionist fervor." 01-17
- -01-26 Editorial: What Does Trump Know About Immigration? (Huffington Post)
"President Donald Trump appears to think building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border will solve unauthorized immigration and other issues at the border. Stats from the last few years tell a completely different story." 01-17
- -01-27 Executive Orders in Trump's First Week (PBS)
"On working week one of the Trump administration, it seems worthwhile to set aside the highwire battles over words and inauguration crowd size and look at the concrete actions President Trump has taken to launch his presidency." 01-17
- -02-01 House Republicans Approve Dumping Mining Waste in Streams (Time.com)
"Moving to dismantle former President Barack Obama's legacy on the environment and other issues, House Republicans approved a measure Wednesday that scuttles a regulation aimed at preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams." 02-17
- -02-04 Government Suspends Trump Bans on Immigration (Time.com)
"The government on Saturday suspended enforcement of President Donald Trump's refugee and immigration ban and scurried to appeal a judge's order, plunging the new administration into a crisis that has challenged Trump's authority — and ability to fulfill campaign promises."
"The stand-down, a day after a federal judge in Washington state temporarily blocked the ban, marked an extraordinary setback for the White House. Only a week ago, the president had acted to suspend America's refugee program and halt immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries that the government said raise terrorism concerns." 02-17
- -02-04 Trump Retains Ties to His Businesses (ABC News)
"New documents confirm that President Donald Trump retains a direct tie to his business interests through a revocable trust now being overseen by one of his adult sons and a longtime executive of the Trump Organization."
"Trump's two adult sons and Weisselberg are running the company while Trump is president, but Trump himself still financially benefits from it. Past precedent has been for presidents to sell off their holdings and place the cash into a truly blind trust — not one overseen by a family member — before taking office, even though there's no legal requirement to do so." 02-17
- -02-07 Legal Scholars: Trump Has Violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution (ABC News)
"It has been widely acknowledged that, upon swearing the Oath of Office, President Donald Trump would be in direct violation of the foreign-emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution."
"This clause was included in the Articles of Confederation and, later, in the Constitution itself. It was borne out of the Framers’ obsession with preventing in the newly minted United States the sort of corruption that dominated 17th and 18th century foreign politics and governments — characterized by gift-giving, back-scratching, foreign interference in other countries and transactions that might not lead to corruption but, nonetheless, could give the appearance of impropriety." 02-17
- -02-08 The Coretta Scott King Letter that Was Prohibited in the Senate (Time.com)
"Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced on Tuesday night during the Senate debate over the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General after she quoted a letter written by the late Coretta Scott King in which King spoke out against Sessions' character, the Washington Post and other outlets reported."
King's letter stated in part: 'I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting. Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.' " 02-17
- -02-09 New Attorney General Misleads on Crime Statistics (CBS News)
"CBS News looked at whether violent crime is a rising permanent trend. The CBS News research department went to the source: the FBI uniform crime report."
"Turns out, violent crime peaked in 1991 and was in a steady decline until a small uptick in 2006. Then the trend continued to drop." 02-17
- -02-11 Editorial: Trump the Salesman-President, Not CEO-President (CBS News)
"Trump’s real strengths lie in promotion and deal-making, D’Antonio said, not in operating complex businesses. He cited the fact that Trump’s more complex ventures, like Trump Airways and casinos in Atlantic City, failed." 02-17
- -02-11 Things with Trump's Name on Them (CBS News)
Provides pictures and short descriptions. 02-17
- -02-12 The Four Groups of Voters and What They Think Now (CBS News)
"A single poll number can’t always answer those puzzles, so here we look deeper at all the groups who support and oppose the Trump administration at its outset: who they are, what they want and - most of all - what might change their minds."
"In this study, people separated themselves into four groups: the strongest of Trump backers (who we’ll call the Believers); those backing him but waiting for him to deliver (the Conditionals); those opposing him for now but waiting to see some results (the Curious) and those who seem immovably, firmly opposed (The Resistors.)" 02-17
- -02-16 California Strengthens Gun Laws (Time.com)
"Gov. Jerry Brown signed six stringent gun-control measures Friday that will require people to turn in high-capacity magazines and mandate background checks for ammunition sales, as California Democrats seek to strengthen gun laws that are already among the strictest in the nation." 07-16
- -02-17 Editorial: Don't Give Up on America (HuffingtonPost.com)
"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) delivered a sobering and bold plea to international leaders on Friday, urging them not to give up on America despite the divisive rhetoric of President Donald Trump." 02-17
- -02-18 Editorial: What You Don't Hear About Obamacare (HuffingtonPost.com)
"People are struggling less with medical bills, have easier access to primary care and medication, and report that they’re in better health, according to a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2015. The number of people forgoing care because of costs or being “very worried” about paying for a catastrophic medical bill dropped substantially among the newly insured, Kaiser Foundation researchers found last year when they focused on people in California." 02-17
- -02-20 Historian Views: Top 20 American Presidents (USAToday.com)
"It's the first time Obama was eligible for the Presidential Historians Survey, which asked 91 historians to rank all 43 former presidents across 10 categories. Those include 'Pursued Equal Justice for All,' in which Obama ranked 3rd, and 'Relations with Congress,' in which he ranked 39th."
"Abraham Lincoln retained his top spot for the third time in the poll, which debuted in 2000 and last took place in 2009. Other consistently high-ranking presidents include George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, all of whom made the top five overall in each survey." 02-17
- -02-23 Editorial: By the Time Famine Is Declared, It's too Late (Time.com)
"A Reuters picture of a mother and child at an emergency feeding center in Niger during the recent famine there won the coveted 2005 World Press Photo of the Year Award, organizers said on Friday."
"The declaration of famine in parts of South Sudan this week, the first announcement of its kind since 2011, is but the beginning of a cascade of similar pronouncements to come."
"Yemen, northern Nigeria and Somalia are also on the brink of famine, warns the Famine Early Warning Systems network. According to the International Federation of the Red Cross in Africa, another 32 million people in southern Africa face extreme food insecurity. If nothing is done, the World Food Program’s chief economist, Arif Husain, told Reuters, some 20 million people could starve to death during the next six months."
"And that is the least of the devastation. Famine doesn’t just kill; it leaves debilitating scars on a nation’s development that endure for decades, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and aid dependency. Once famine takes root, it’s that much harder to recover. Yet the call to prevent famine is never as widely shouted, or eagerly responded to, as the urgent demands to stop it. It’s time to change the stakes."
"Famine, in technical terms, doesn’t just mean people are going hungry. It means they are already starving to death — two adults or four children a day per every 10,000 people. That means that by the time famine is formally declared, millions have already been suffering for months, or even years: international humanitarian agencies like Oxfam started warning about a looming famine in northern South Sudan back in March 2015." 02-06
- -02-23 White House Representative Asks FBI to Drop Russian Investigation (CNN News)
"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN."
"The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations." 02-06
- -02-24 Homeland Security Analysts Find Insufficient Evidence for Travel Ban (Time.com)
"Analysts at the Homeland Security Department's intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump's travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States."
"The three-page report challenges Trump's core claims. It said that of 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or try to carry out an attack in the United States, just over half were U.S. citizens born in the United States. The others were from 26 countries, led by Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq and Uzbekistan. Of these, only Somalia and Iraq were among the seven nations included in the ban." 02-17
- -02-25 Muhammad Ali's Son Detained at Airport (Time.com)
"Muhammad Ali's son, who bears the boxing great's name, was detained by immigration officials at a Florida airport and questioned about his ancestry and religion in what amounted to profiling, a family friend said Saturday." 02-17
- -02-25 Youth Guiding Standing Rock Protests (ABC News)
"The clearing of the Oceti Sakowin and Rosebud camps marked a somber moment of reflection for members of the International Indigenous Youth Council, a little known group of indigenous youth that has helped steer the movement from the very beginning. Their remarkable story is now told in the ABC News Digital documentary: 'The Seventh Generation.' " 02-17
- -02-28 Current Vetting Processes (CBS News)
"As the Trump administration readies a new 'extreme vetting' executive order that is expected to ban people from certain countries in order to give agencies time to review U.S. vetting procedures, many experts and former officials argue that the screening process is already rigorous." 02-17
- -03-01 Fact Check for President's Speech to Congress (PBS.org)
"TRUMP: 'We will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.' ”
"THE FACTS: Trump has provided little detail on how this would happen. Independent analyses of his campaign’s tax proposals found that most of the benefits would flow to the wealthiest families. The richest 1 percent would see an average tax cut of nearly $215,000 a year, while the middle one-fifth of the population would get a cut of just $1,010, according to the Tax Policy Center, a joint project by the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute." 03-17
- -03-01 Muslims Help Restore Vandalized Jewish Cemetary (CNN News)
"Once again, dozens of Jewish headstones have been vandalized, stoking fears of heightened anti-Semitism. And once again, members of the Muslim community are rallying to help." 03-17
- -03-01 Record High Temperatures in Antarctica (Time.com)
"Antarctica's record high temperature registered at 63.5° F (17.5° C) at the Esperanza research base on the Antarctic Peninsula, according to a data review released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Wednesday." 03-17
- -03-03 VP Pence Used Private Email for State Business (Time.com)
" Vice President Mike Pence used a private email account to conduct public business as Indiana's governor, according to public records obtained by the Indianapolis Star."
"The newspaper reported Thursday that emails provided through a public records request show that Pence communicated with advisers through his personal AOL account on homeland security matters and security at the governor's residence during his four years as governor." 03-17
- -03-04 Offering No Proof, Trump Accuses Obama of Wire Tapping (New York Times)
"President Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower the month before the election, leveling the explosive allegation without offering any evidence." 03-17
- -03-06 FBI Director Asks Justice Department to Refute Trump's Allegation Against Obama (New York Times)
" The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement."
"Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness." 03-17
- -03-06 Replacement for Obamacare (New York Times)
"House Republicans released on Monday legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare."
"It fundamentally changes how health care is financed for people who do not have insurance through work, and it eliminates the mandate requiring most Americans to have health insurance, a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act." 03-17
- -03-11 Editorial: Presidents vs the Press (Christian Science Monitor)
"But to me conflict between the press and the president is less worrisome than the prospect of being led by an administration for which facts and truths are fungible or irrelevant. The optimist in me believes, like Lincoln, that while the people can be fooled some of the time, they will not be fooled all of the time. I believe that most people know that real knowledge is rooted in facts, and that getting these facts makes them smarter. I therefore believe that the people will search for, find, and support those sources that consistently strive to deliver facts."
"Those sources are called journalists." 03-17
- -03-11 New Health Care Bill Gives Billions in Tax Breaks to Wealthy (New York Times)
"Two of the biggest tax cuts in Republican proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act would deliver roughly $157 billion over the coming decade to those with incomes of $1 million or more, according to a congressional analysis." 03-17
- -03-12 New Health Care Bill Will Limit Medicaid Coverage (Huffington Post)
"Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have expanded eligibility for Medicaid under Obamacare, which has resulted in about 11 million people getting coverage. But under the Republican bill, starting in 2020, the federal government would no longer provide federal funds for people who newly qualify under the expanded eligibility standards."
"The bill effectively repeals Medicaid as we know it, and replaces it with a system of limited block grants to states that pays per person, rather than by the cost of health care expenses. The difference will need to be made up by the 70 million elderly, poor and working-class people on Medicaid. While people often think of Medicare as the principal health care program for the elderly, it is Medicaid that covers nursing care." 03-17
- -03-13 Nonpartisan Review: New Trumpcare Proposal Insures 24 Million Fewer People (New York Times)
"The House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cause 24 million people to lose health insurance within a decade, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Monday." 03-17
- -03-19 Germany Disputes Trump Claim that Germany Owes U.S. Vast Sums (Huffington Post)
"German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that Germany owes NATO and the United States 'vast sums' of money for defense." 03-17
- -03-23 No Deal on Health Care (ABC News)
"After seven years of fervent promises to repeal and replace 'Obamacare,' President Donald Trump and GOP congressional leaders buckled at a moment of truth Thursday, putting off a planned showdown vote in a stinging setback for the young administration." 03-17
- -03-24 Methane Hydrates Catastrophe (Truth-Out.org)
"A study published in the prestigious journal Nature in July 2013 confirmed what Shakhova had been warning us about for years: A 50-gigaton 'burp' of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea is highly possible."
"Such a 'burp' would be the equivalent of at least 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide. (For perspective, humans have released approximately 1,475 gigatons in total carbon dioxide since the year 1850.)"
"Scientists have been warning us for a number of years about the dire consequences of methane hydrates in the Arctic, and how the methane being released poses a potentially disastrous threat to the planet." 03-17
- -03-25 Editorial: "Is Truth Dead?" (Time.com)
"Like many newsrooms, we at TIME have wrestled with when to say someone is lying. We can point out, as we often do, when a President gets his facts wrong. We can measure distortions, read between lines, ask the follow-up question. But there's a limit to what we can deduce about motive or intent, the interior wiring of the whopper, as opposed to its explosive impact. Even the nature of coverage becomes complicated: social scientists have shown that repetition of a false statement, even in the course of disputing it, often increases the number of people who believe it." 03-17
- -03-26 Editorial: "What Went Wrong With Trumpcare?" (Time.com)
"For one, the centerpiece of the Republicans’ healthcare plan was to scrap the requirement that everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty. By removing that requirement, it would reduce the number of people buying coverage, which, in turn, would make prices continue their climb upward. The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan referee of policy and money, estimated that some 24 million fewer people would have coverage under the plans the GOP considered."
"At the same time, Trump’s promise to make care cheaper ran into stiff headwinds in the House. In a bid to win over conservative lawmakers, Trump agreed to scrap provisions of the bill that covered emergency room care, prescription drugs and mental health coverage. (In the end, the play wasn’t enough and alienated many moderates who hail from states plagued by the opioid crisis.) And the promise to bring drug prices down through government edict ran afoul of legislative rules. Eventually, costs would come down, according to the budget chiefs—because older Americans, who require more care, couldn’t afford to buy coverage in the first place." 03-17
- -03-26 Paper: Climate Disruption Proceeding Rapidly (Truth-Out.org)
"Last month, a paper titled The Anthropocene Equation revealed that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is causing the climate to change 170 times faster than it would if only natural forces were affecting it. 'The human magnitude of climate change looks more like a meteorite strike than a gradual change,' one of the authors of the study said." 03-17
- -04-06-17 U.S. Blows Up Syrian Airport (CBS News)
"The U.S. launched cruise missiles against a Syrian regime target in retaliation for a chemcial attack." 04-17
- -04-08-17 Neil Gorsuch Appointed to the Supreme Court (NBC News)
"The Senate confirmed judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court Friday in a mostly party-line 54-45 vote that reflected weeks of bruising political fighting which deepened congressional divides and changed the nature of high court appointments in the future." 04-17
- -04-24-17 France Votes for a New Political Reality (Time.com)
"No matter whether centrist economist Emmanuel Macron or far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen wins France's presidency in two weeks' time, Sunday's first-round election made history in France — ripping up the political system that has governed for generations over the world's sixth biggest economy and a powerhouse of the European Union." 04-17
- Barack Obama Biographical Information and News (Awesome Library)
Provides biographical information and news stories on the 44th President of the United States. 01-09
- Legal News (FindLaw.com)
Provides legal news related to current events. 09-08
- News Sources (Awesome Library)
Provides sources of national and world news, by subject or country.
- News and Current Events (About.com)
- News and Policy Development Participation (Policymic.com)
Provides news and an opportunity to initiate or participate in policy issues facing the United States.
- News on Hurricanes (Awesome Library)
Provides hurricane news.
- Political News (Congress.org)
Provides political news.
- Political Polls (Today.YouGov.com)
Provides results of political polls on key U.S. issues.
- Social Security (Awesome Library)
Provides news and facts on social security and proposed changes to social security.
- Supreme Court News (MSNBC News)
Provides news on the changing U.S. Supreme Court.
- "Climate Change Is All About the Oceans" (Time.com)
Tony Knap, director of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), states that "just as carbon levels have been rising in the atmosphere, thanks largely to man-made greenhouse-gas emissions, CO2 levels are on the rise in the ocean as it warms as well. Ocean data matters — the oceans hold far more energy than the atmosphere. 'This will tell us how the ocean is changing over time,' says Knap. 'Climate change is all about the oceans, not the atmosphere.' " Editor's Note: Also try Threatened Oceans. 07-11
- "The Future Is Drying Up" (New York Times)
"When I met with [Secretary of Energy] Chu last summer in Berkeley, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, which provides most of the water for Northern California, was at its lowest level in 20 years. Chu noted that even the most optimistic climate models for the second half of this century suggest that 30 to 70 percent of the snowpack will disappear. 'There’s a two-thirds chance there will be a disaster,' Chu said, 'and that’s in the best scenario.' " 10-10
- -"One Person, One Vote" Wins (Time.com)
"A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can count everyone, not just eligible voters, in deciding how to draw electoral districts."
"The justices turned back a challenge from Texas voters that could have dramatically altered political district boundaries and disproportionately affected the nation’s growing Latino population." 04-16
- -"Power Posing" Works (CNN News)
"When it comes to power, the mind shapes the body, a finding supported by extensive peer-reviewed science. This, to most of us, is not so surprising."
"But what is surprising, when it comes to power, is that the body also shapes the mind. Dana Carney (UC-Berkeley) and I, both experimental social psychologists, have conducted research showing that adopting these postures -- 'power posing' -- actually causes people to become more powerful: After sitting or standing, alone in a room, in a high-power pose for just two minutes, participants in our experiments resembled powerful people -- emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally, and even physiologically." 10-12
- -"The Most Important Chart in American Politics" (Time.com)
"The chart tracks three economic trends in the U.S. over the last two decades, between 1992 and 2009. The first two lines — productivity and per capita gross domestic product — are rising. This is the unmistakable American success story, the one reflected in record corporate profits, growing wealth accumulation and the unmatched efficiency of this country’s economy. The third line tracks median household income, as measured by the U.S. Census. It shows the story of frustration and stagnation that so many Americans long ago accepted as a reality."
"The chart... was originally created by NDN and the New Policy Institute, and it helped Democrats change the way they talked about the frustration of the American people. Shortly after the 2010 election, Simon Rosenberg, who runs those left-leaning think tanks, showed the chart to David Axelrod and David Simas, two of Obama’s top political advisers. The point of his presentation was that the emergency of the first two years of the Obama presidency — the Great Recession, brought on by financial collapse — did not explain the economic suffering and resulting anger felt by so many voters. Instead it was a more recent manifestation of a trend that had begun nearly a decade earlier."
" 'The reason this is happening is because of rising global competition, the defining new economic challenge of our time,' Rosenberg said in a recent interview with TIME. 'In the actual experience of the American economy, there has become an enormous gap between the upper one-third and everyone else.' " 02-13
- -"Trickle Down" Economics and Taxing the Rich (HowStuffWorks.com)
"Wanniski explains in "The Way the World Works" how boosting the supply side of the economy rather than the demand side is the way to economic prosperity. He also makes clear that cutting the prohibitive, high taxes of the wealthy will encourage more economic activity and growth for all. Redubbed supply-side economics (which supporters find a less polarizing name), trickle-down economics found new life in the United States in the 1980s." 01-12
- -01 Climate Change's Exponential Increase (New York Times)
"More than a 2-degree increase should be unimaginable. Yet to stop at 2 degrees, global emissions have to peak in 2016. The Carbon Tracker organization has examined fossil-fuel investments around the world (including 1,200 new coal plants) and determined that they would lead to a 6-degree world. A recent World Bank report indicates the bank cannot fulfill its development mission in a 4-degree world. Given what we know about planetary biology, 2 degrees seems nightmarish as it is."
"So what to do? The first thing is to recognize both the climate and biodiversity agenda as deadly important, of utmost urgency and fundamental to the future of humanity. The second is to find ways to keep temperature increase below 1.5 degrees." 03-14
- -01 Climate Disruption Dispatches (Truth-out.org)
"In December 2010, the UN Environment Program predicted up to a 5 degrees Celsius increase by 2050. This is a shocking piece of information, because a 3.5 degrees Celsius increase would render the planet uninhabitable for humans due to collapsing the food chain at the level of oceanic plankton and triggering temperature extremes that would severely limit terrestrial vegetation, and hence, our ability to feed ourselves. And even higher temperature increases have been predicted." 03-14
- -01 Climate Policy Is 20 Years Behind (Truth-Out.org)
"The 2013 IPCC has acknowledged this great disconnection between climate science and current policy with a clear and unambiguous statement of fact: 'A large fraction of climate change is largely irreversible on human time scales, unless net anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions were strongly negative over a sustained period.'
"For the best-case scenario, to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius while limiting carbon dioxide emissions to 390 parts per million (today it's 400 parts per million), we need to remove all the carbon dioxide that we emit every year, plus one-third more. For the worst-case scenario - and we are basically straddling the worst-case scenario today; carbon dioxide levels will reach 1,190 parts per million by 2100 without action - we need to remove over twice as much carbon dioxide as we emit every year. These amounts are four to six times greater than those put forth by the Clean Power Plan. (4)" 12-15
- -01 Disturbing Rise in Ocean Temperatures (Grist.org)
"This year’s biggest climate change news was that 2014 was hottest year on record. Turns out, there’s bigger news: It was also the hottest year in the oceans, which are warming so fast they’re literally breaking the NOAA’s charts."
" While air temperatures can fluctuate on any given year, they are usually matched by an increase or decrease of the amount of heat stored in the oceans (which, by the way, absorb around 90 percent of total global warming heat). To know whether the system as a whole is getting warmer or not, scientists need to take into account the temperatures of the atmosphere, land, AND oceans.” 01-15
- -01 Editorial: Eighty People Control Half of the World's Wealth (Truth-out.org)
"In what has now become tradition, Oxfam International, a confederation of organizations dedicated to fighting poverty, issued a report on the current state of economic inequality. Last year’s report sent shockwaves through the world by announcing that just 85 people controlled the same amount of wealth as the bottom 3 billion people combined. That was even more dramatic than 2010 when it took 388 people to control that much wealth."
"Oxfam has predicted that if we do nothing, the wealthiest one percent of the world will control the same amount of wealth as the other 99 percent do combined."
"The estimated time of arrival for this global wealth distribution is next year." 01-15
- -01 Editorial: ExxonMobil Admits to Basic Climate Science (ThinkProgress.org)
"The Washington Post reports Sunday that ExxonMobil has a far saner view of global warming than the national Republican party."
"Fred Hiatt, the paper’s centrist editorial page editor, drops this bombshell:"
'With no government action, Exxon experts told us during a visit to The Post last week, average temperatures are likely to rise by a catastrophic (my word, not theirs) 5 degrees Celsius, with rises of 6, 7 or even more quite possible.' "
"This is indeed basic climate science."
"Of course, thanks to excellent reporting by InsideClimate News, we now know ExxonMobil had been told by its own scientists in the 1970s and 1980s that climate change was human-caused and would reach catastrophic levels without reductions in carbon emissions. Yes, this is same ExxonMobil that then became the largest funder of disinformation on climate science and attacks on climate scientists until they were surpassed by the Koch Brothers in recent years — but that is a different (tragic) story." 01-16
- -01 Editorial: Terrorist Attacks Are Not About the Religion of Islam (Time.com)
"When the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in a black family’s yard, prominent Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts. Most people already realize that the KKK doesn’t represent Christian teachings. That’s what I and other Muslims long for—the day when these terrorists praising the Prophet Muhammad or Allah’s name as they debase their actual teachings are instantly recognized as thugs disguising themselves as Muslims. It’s like bank robbers wearing masks of presidents; we don’t really think Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush hit the Bank of America during their down time."
"We can’t end terrorism any more than we can end crime in general. Ironically, terrorism is actually an act against the very religion they claim to believe in."
"I look forward to the day when an act of terrorism by self-proclaimed Muslims will be universally dismissed as nothing more than a criminal attack of a thuggish political organization wearing an ill-fitting Muslim mask. To get to that point, we will need to teach our communities what the real beliefs of Islam are." 01-15
- -01 Massive Reserve of Fresh Water Found Below Oceans (Science.Time.com)
"Scientists have discovered a massive reserve of freshwater trapped beneath the seabed that could provide water to the world’s coastal cities and mitigate the impact of a looming global water crisis, according to a new study."
"The undersea reserves have the potential to alleviate the impacts of freshwater scarcity on the planet, Post said, but the resource should be treated with care. Offshore oil and gas exploration or carbon sequestration activities could contaminate the aquifers, which are themselves a limited resource." 12-13
- -01 Scientists Mourn Where We Are Headed (Truth-out.org)
"In fact, Joanna Macy believes it is not in the self-perceived interest of multinational corporations, or the government and the media that serve them 'for us to stop and become aware of our profound anguish with the way things are.' "
"Nevertheless, these disturbing trends of widespread denial, disinformation by the corporate media, and the worsening impacts of runaway ACD [anthropogenic climate disruption], which are all increasing, are something she is very mindful of. As she wrote in World as Lover, World as Self, 'The loss of certainty that there will be a future is, I believe, the pivotal psychological reality of our time.' "
"We don't know how long we have left on earth. Five years? 15 years? 30? Beyond the year 2100? But when we allow our hearts to be shattered - broken completely open - by these stark, cold realities, we allow our perspectives to be opened up to vistas we've never known. When we allow ourselves to fully experience the crisis in this way, we are then able to truly see it through new eyes." 01-15
- -01 Study: Climate Change May Be Catastrophic (Washington Post)
"Because of the impact of warming on cloud cover, the researchers calculated, average global temperatures could rise a full 7 degrees by the end of the century. This 'would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous,' the study’s lead author, Steven Sherwood of the University of New South Wales in Australia, told the Guardian newspaper. He said such a temperature increase 'would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics.' It would also guarantee the melting of so much polar ice that sea levels would rise dramatically, with dire implications for coastal cities around the world." 01-14
- -01 Study: Global Warming Is Stuck on Fast Forward (theGuardian.com)
"The widespread mainstream media focus on the slowed global surface warming has led some climate scientists like Trenberth and Fasullo to investigate its causes and how much various factors have contributed to the so-called 'pause' or 'hiatus.' However, the authors note that while the increase in global temperatures has slowed, the oceans have taken up heat at a faster rate since the turn of the century. Over 90 percent of the overall extra heat goes into the oceans, with only about 2 percent heating the Earth's atmosphere. The myth of the 'pause' is based on ignoring 98 percent of global warming and focusing exclusively on the one bit that's slowed.”
"Previous estimates put the amount of heat accumulated by the world's oceans over the past decade equivalent to about 4 Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations per second, on average, but Trenberth's research puts the estimate equivalent to more than 6 detonations per second." 12-13
- -01 Study: Globally, 90 Companies Responsible for Majority of Emissions (theGuardian.com)
"Between them, the 90 companies on the list of top emitters produced 63% of the cumulative global emissions of industrial carbon dioxide and methane between 1751 to 2010, amounting to about 914 gigatonne CO2 emissions, according to the research. All but seven of the 90 were energy companies producing oil, gas and coal. The remaining seven were cement manufacturers.”
"The list of 90 companies included 50 investor-owned firms – mainly oil companies with widely recognised names such as Chevron, Exxon, BP , and Royal Dutch Shell and coal producers such as British Coal Corp, Peabody Energy and BHP Billiton." 12-13
- -01 Summary of the Affordable Care Act "Obamacare" (U.S. Senate)
Provides a summary of the law, according to the U.S. Senate.
- -01 The U.S. "Bank Account" Day by Day (Time.com)
"Every weekday afternoon, the Treasury Department issues a statement on how much cash the nation had in its account at the end of the previous business day. These statements include which bills the government paid that day and how much money came in — through taxes, federal programs that generate revenue and massive amounts of new borrowing (most of which goes directly toward paying down old borrowing)." 10-13
- -01 The U.S. to Become the Top Energy Producer by 2015 (CNN News)
"The United States will knock off Saudi Arabia as the world's top energy producer by 2015, but its power as a global energy force will fade over the next decade, according to a report from the International Energy Agency."
"But limited reserves will cap the surge in shale oil output within the next 10 years."
"As a major exporter, top producer Saudi Arabia is critical to future energy supplies. By contrast, the United States relies on its newfound energy wealth to power domestic consumption." 11-13
- -03-08-14 Russia Prepares to Annex Crimea (New York Times)
"Russia signaled for the first time on Friday that it was prepared to annex the Crimea region of Ukraine, significantly intensifying its confrontation with the West over the political crisis in Ukraine and threatening to undermine a system of respect for national boundaries that has helped keep the peace in Europe and elsewhere for decades." 03-14
- -08-21-14 Editorial: Why the People of Ferguson Distrust the Police (Truth-Out.org)
"Black people make up about 67 percent of Ferguson's population, but only three of the city's 53 police officers are black. Black residents over the age of 16 accounted for 86 percent of the traffic stops in the city last year, and racial profiling data from the past decade shows that black drivers are far more likely to be pulled over than any other race, according to the state attorney general."
"Clearly, the racism embedded in the criminal justice system is not just a problem in Ferguson and the St. Louis area. Across the country, a white police officer killed a black person about twice a week in a seven-year period ending in 2012, according to recent a USA Today analysis of federal data. While only 12 percent of people who regularly use drugs in the United States are black, 32 percent of those arrested on drug charges are black, according to the NAACP."
"On average, blacks serve virtually as much time in prison for nonviolent drug offenses as whites serve for violent offenses." 08-14
- -10 Things to Do While You're Unemployed (U.S. News)
"Sure, while you're unemployed, job No. 1 is to look for another job. However, job hunting should not be the only thing you do while out of work."
"You should also devote a bit of time and energy to doing something interesting that you can talk about at job interviews." 10-09
- -158 Families Contributed Over Half the Political Funding (New York Times)
"Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago."
"The 158 families each contributed $250,000 or more in the campaign through June 30, according to the most recent available Federal Election Commission filings and other data, while an additional 200 families gave more than $100,000. Together, the two groups contributed well over half the money in the presidential election -- the vast majority of it supporting Republicans." 10-15
- -A Good Way to Start Your Day (Time.com)
"So what would our mornings look like if we re-engineered them in the interest of maximizing our creative problem-solving capacities? We’d set the alarm a few minutes early and lie awake in bed, following our thoughts where they lead (with a pen and paper nearby to jot down any evanescent inspirations.) We’d stand a little longer under the warm water of the shower, dismissing task-oriented thoughts (“What will I say at that 9 a.m. meeting?”) in favor of a few more minutes of mental dilation. We’d take some deep breaths during our commute, instead of succumbing to road rage. And once in the office — after we get that cup of coffee — we’d direct our computer browser not to the news of the day but to the funniest videos the web has to offer."
"For decades, psychologists have manipulated the emotions of subjects in the lab by showing them short film clips. But now there’s YouTube — and, in fact, the clip that made the participants in Ruby Nadler’s study happiest of all was a YouTube video of a laughing baby. Laughing babies and a double latte: now that’s a way to start the day." 02-12
- -A Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court Arguments on Health Care Reform (CNN News)
"The court will decide four separate legal questions in these appeals:
-- Key issue: Does the law overstep federal authority? This is particularly in regard to the key coverage and funding provision: an 'individual mandate' requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a financial penalty.
-- Domino-effect issue: Must the entire PPACA be scrapped if that key provision is unconstitutional?
-- National policy implications issue: Are states being 'coerced' by the federal government to expand their share of Medicaid costs and administration, with the risk of losing that funding if they refuse?
-- Jurisdictional issue: Are the lawsuits brought by the states and other petitioners barred under the Anti-Injunction Act, and must they wait until the law goes into effect?" 03-12
- -A New Framework for Describing How the World Is Getting Warmer (Christian Science Monitor)
"Trying to get beyond the standard scientific disclaimer that no single weather event can be pinned on global warming, government scientists on Tuesday unveiled a new framework: what are the odds of a specific event being impacted by warming?"
"They tested it on several extreme events in 2011 -- a strong La Nina year -- and, in the case of the record Texas drought, concluded that such severe dry spells are 20 more times likely during a La Nina year today than a La Nina in the 1960s, before greenhouse gas emissions jumped. "
"The 43 indicators tracked in 2011 -- ranging from thinning Arctic sea ice to more acidic oceans -- continued to show a warming trend, according to the State of the Climate report."
" 'Those indicators,' said Thomas Karl, head of the National Climatic Data Center, 'show what we expect to see in a warmer world.' " 07-12
- -A Private Tax System for the Very Wealthy (New York Times)
"The very richest are able to quietly shape tax policy that will allow them to shield billions in income." 12-15
- -A Way Forward -- Infrastructure (CNN News)
"A normal process of democratic legislation — each side making concessions to arrive at a compromise plan — has become impossible. Congressional Republicans, in particular, have decided that they would rather have the country be paralyzed than work with a President they have demonized."
"Is there a way out? President Obama will have to try to find several — on a debt deal, immigration, energy. But perhaps the most pressing issue is also the one of greatest hope: infrastructure. Dealing with the larger challenges is important, but none of them will have an instant impact on the economy. A large push to rebuild America would. With economic growth still sluggish and unemployment in the construction industry at 11.4% — the highest of any field in the country — an ambitious effort in this area could yield immediate results."
"In the long run, you cannot have robust growth without strong infrastructure. The U.S. has historically been world class in this regard. Only a decade ago we were ranked fifth in overall infrastructure by the World Economic Forum; today we have dropped to 25th. The American Society of Civil Engineers calculates that we have a $2 trillion backlog of repairs that must be done over the next five years to stay competitive." 11-12
- -A White Nationalist's Attraction to Trump (MSNBC News)
A white nationalist explains Trump's attraction for him. 06-16
- -Affordable Care Act: Timeline by Type of Provision (Kaiser Family Foundation)
"The implementation timeline is an interactive tool designed to explain how and when the provisions of the health reform law will be implemented over the next several years."
"You can show or hide all the changes occurring in a year by clicking on that year. Click on a provision to get more information about it. Customize the timeline by checking and unchecking specific topics." 11-12
- -America Is Not Prepared for More Frequent Natural Disasters (CBS News)
"The overwhelming consensus among scientists is that the climate has changed. Global warming is making Mother Nature more mischievous, resulting in weather events that are more frequent and extreme. These disasters pose a greater risk both because the majority of Americans now live within 50 miles of the coast and because the critical infrastructure that coastal communities rely on is becoming more exposed and vulnerable."
"As extreme weather events become more frequent, it is important to try to make them less disruptive. This places a premium on bolstering community resilience. People and systems need to be able to better withstand, respond, adapt, and rapidly recover from disasters."
"For instance, electric power could be restored more quickly if local independent licensed electricians could be deputized to support utility crews in conducting damage assessments and making repairs." 01-13
- -America's Dwindling Water Supply (CBS News)
"After doing the dishes - 12 gallons per load - running the washing machine - 43 gallons per load - and watering the lawn - 10 gallons per minute - by the time we [Americans] go to bed, we've used up to 150 gallons."
"By comparison, people in the U.K. use a quarter of that - 40 gallons of water a day. The Chinese average just 22 gallons per day. And in the poorest countries like Kenya, people use less than the minimum 13 gallons to cover basic needs."
"Because Americans use so much, the report card shows water is an emerging crisis here."
"Experts do agree: Demand is greater than supply. And 36 states face water shortages in the next three years." 01-10
- -American Taxes Compared to Other Countries (Vocativ.com)
"According to data collected by conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation and mapped by BrixCreative, America has the 63rd highest taxes as percentage of gross domestic product in a list of 179 nations and territories surveyed." 03-15
- -Americans See a Conflict Between the Rich and the Poor (PewResearch.org)
"The Occupy Wall Street movement no longer occupies Wall Street, but the issue of class conflict has captured a growing share of the national consciousness. A new Pew Research Center survey of 2,048 adults finds that about two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are "very strong" or "strong" conflicts between the rich and the poor -- an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009." 03-12
- -An Energy Crisis Looms (Time.com)
"If the world continues to guzzle oil and gas at its present pace, global temperatures will rise by an average of 6°C by 2030, causing 'irreparable damage to the planet.' " 11-09
- -Analysis: Trump's Tax Plan Costs $12 Trillion (MSNBC News)
"Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s tax plan would cost an eye-popping $12 trillion over 10 years, according a new estimate that runs directly counter to the billionaire’s pledge not to increase the deficit with the proposal."
"The conservative Tax Foundation, which has been scoring candidates’ tax proposals throughout the race, found that Trump’s changes to the individual tax code would add $10.2 trillion to the deficit using traditional scoring methods, his corporate tax cuts would add $1.54 trillion and his proposal to eliminate the estate tax would add another $238 billion." 09-15
- -Appearance Matters in Elections (Time.com)
"Before the election, I urge you to read Leonard Mlodinow’s new book, Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior (Pantheon). You will gain insights such as that higherpitched voices are judged by subjects as more nervous and less truthful and empathetic than speakers with lower-pitched voices, and that speaking a little faster and louder and with fewer pauses and greater variation in volume leads people to judge someone to be energetic, intelligent and knowledgeable. Looks matter even more. One study presented subjects with campaign flyers featuring black-and-white photographs of models posing as Democrats or Republicans in fictional congressional races; half looked able and competent, whereas the other half did not, as rated by volunteers before the experiment. The flyers included the candidate’s name, party affiliation, education, occupation, political experience and three position statements. To control for party preference, half the subjects were shown the more suitablelooking candidate as a Democrat, and the other half saw him as a Republican. Results: 59 percent of the vote went to the candidate with the more capable appearance regardless of other qualifications. A similar study in a mock election resulted in a 15-percentage- point advantage for the more authoritative-looking politician." 10-12
- -Asperger's Syndrome Does Not Create Violence (CBS News)
" 'There's no research to show that people with Asperger's are more prone to act violently,' Laugeson said. 'We do know that people with Asperger's have a lower threshold for handling frustrations, but there's no research connecting premeditated acts or plans of violence.' "
"It's important to emphasize that their anger makes them more frustrated, but not more likely to commit crimes, Bell added."
" 'There is essentially no research that has linked autism or Asperger's to violence,' he emphasized. 'People with autism or Asperger's are no more inclined to commit crimes of violence like what took place in Connecticut last week.' " Visitors sometimes misspell as Asberger, Asburger, Aspurger, Ashpurger, Aspurgher, Haspurger, Ashburger, Asburgher, or Hasburger. 9-01
- -Benefits of Health Care Reform Bill (Time.com)
"The new health-reform bill has many Americans confused. Here are five of the most vital immediate benefits of the reform law and what details are still unknown about them." 04-10
- -Bloomberg Editorial: Six Ways We Can Stop Gun Madness (USA Today)
"Sunday night, President Obama said he would use whatever powers his office holds to address this violence. He should begin immediately by sending a legislative package to Capitol Hill that the new Congress can consider and vote on as its first order of business when it convenes in January. The package should have three main elements:"
"First, it should prohibit the manufacture and sale of the military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips that have been used in too many mass shootings, including in Newtown. The previous ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. While President George W. Bush supported reinstating it, Congress never acted." 12-12
- -CBO: Ways to Reduce the Federal Deficit (PBS News)
"Reducing the number of major combat units in the military would cut $552 billion until 2023."
"...the CBO's report shows that raising the statutory tax rates on all ordinary incomes by 1 percentage point would generate $694 billion from 2014 to 2023."
"If the federal excise tax on gasoline were raised by 35 cents (to 53.4 cents per gallon) and then indexed for inflation going forward, revenues would increase by $452 billion over 10 years." 11-13
- -California's Brutal History through Native Eyes (Truth-Out.org)
"While entire family units fleeing Europe were landing on the East Coast, the Spanish were intent on protecting geopolitical interests by creating a physical buffer zone with native converts and colonial subjects. The task of Franciscan padres and accompanying soldiers was to subjugate Indians, not wipe them out."
"But Spanish imperial rule set off a disastrous chain of events so destructive that between 1769 and 1900, the California Indian population declined by a catastrophic 95 percent." 11-13
- -Car Safety (Awesome Library)
Provides information on car safety, such as recalls and old tires sold as new. 02-10
- -China Controls 95 Percent of World's Rare Earth Minerals (CBS News)
"China produces 95 percent of the world’s rare earths, essential for a wide range of high-tech industries."
"No more than a few thousand metric tons remain to be shipped under this year’s quota, out of 30,300 metric tons of authorized shipments. World demand for Chinese rare earths approaches 50,000 tons a year, according to industry estimates."
"The value of the remaining quotas has soared to the point that the right to export a single ton of rare earths from China now sells for about $40,000, including special Chinese taxes."
"That is a sizable additional cost for buyers of neodymium, a rare earth used to make lightweight, powerful magnets essential to everything from large wind turbines to gasoline-electric cars to Apple iPhones. 10-10
- -Climate Change Is Real (CNN News)
"From the perspective of expected damages, two trends highlight causes for concern. First, economic losses from weather-related disasters have increased over the last several decades. This is mostly because of increases in the value of the assets in harm's way. Second, sea level is rising. Globally, sea level is now about 6 inches higher than in 1900."
"Climate change is occurring now. We see its consequences in hotter temperatures, higher sea levels and shifted storm tracks. In many parts of the world, we are also seeing an increase in the fraction of rainfall that comes in the heaviest events. When it rains, increasingly it pours."
"Climate change over the next couple of decades is already largely baked into the system, but changes beyond that are mostly in our hands. As we learn more about the links between climate change and extreme events, it will benefit all of us to think hard about the opportunities and challenges of getting a handle on climate change, so we control it and not vice versa." 11-12
- -Climatologist: 450, the CO2 Red Line? (ForeignPolicy.com)
"Twenty years ago, when global warming first came to public consciousness, no one knew precisely how much carbon dioxide was too much. The early computer climate models made a number of predictions about what would happen if we doubled the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to 550 parts per million. But, in recent years, as the science has gotten more robust, scientists have tended to put the red line right around 450 parts per million. That’s where NASA’s James Hansen, America’s foremost climatologist, has said we need to stop if we want to avoid a temperature rise greater than two degrees Celsius. Why would two degrees be a magic number? Because as best we can tell, it’s where the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets would become rapid and irrevocable. The ice above Greenland alone contains about 23 feet of sea-level rise, which is more than enough to alter the Earth almost beyond recognition." 01-09
- -Coal Companies Turn to Waste Wood to Meet Emission Standards (New York Times)
"Even as the Environmental Protection Agency considers requiring existing coal-fired power plants to cut their carbon dioxide output, some utilities have started to use a decidedly low-tech additive that accomplishes that goal: wood."
"Minnesota Power, which once generated almost all of its power from coal and is now trying to convert to one-third renewables and one-third natural gas, found that co-firing with wood was a quick way to move an old plant partly to the renewable category."
" 'We’re finding an emissions improvement benefit, and an economic benefit,' because the wood is cheaper than coal, said Allan S. Rudeck Jr., Minnesota Power’s vice president for strategy and planning. One boiler at the company’s Rapids Energy Center, near Grand Rapids, Minn., has run at up to 90 percent wood." 11-13
- -Coal Exports Bring No Bonus to U.S. Taxpayers (NBC News)
"U.S. miners who are booking big profits on coal sales to Asia are enjoying an accounting windfall to boot."
"By valuing coal at low domestic prices rather than the much higher price fetched overseas, coal producers can dodge the larger royalty payout when mining federal land."
"The practice stands to pad the bottom line for the mining sector if Asian exports surge in coming years as the industry hopes, a Reuters investigation has found."
"...Asian economies rely on coal to sustain growth, so the ton worth about $13 near the Powder River Basin mines last year fetched roughly 10 times that in China." 12-12
- -Congressional Budget Office 2014 Report (CBO.gov)
Of most news interest may be the following quote on page 123:
"CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor --- given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive." 02-14
- -Constitutional Amendment Proposed to Prevent Corporate Influence in Elections (TheOccupiedAmendment)
"The Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy (OCCUPIED) Amendment is a constitutional amendment introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida’s 19th district." 12-11
- -Constitutional Law Experts Defend President's Immigration Action (Time.com)
"As a group, we express no view on the merits of these executive actions as a matter of policy. We do believe, however, that they are within the power of the Executive Branch and that they represent a lawful exercise of the President’s authority." 11-14
- -Danger Zone of Climate Change (Scientific American)
The report states that in order to keep the average temperature below 2 degrees above pre-industrial level, CO2 levels must be held to 405 parts per million, just above levels reached in 2016. 07-16
- -Death of a Small Town Bank (Time.com)
"CBT was the 32nd bank to fail in Georgia since the start of the financial crisis in 2008 and one of 132 to fail nationwide in 2010 so far. In many ways, it embodies what has gone wrong with America's once trusted banking system." 11-10
- -Deaths from Gun Violence Compared to Deaths from Terrorism (MSNBC News)
“ 'We spend over 1 trillion dollars and pass countless laws and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so,' Obama said after the deadly attack at Umpqua Community College. 'And yet we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?' "
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 153,144 people were killed by homicide in which firearms were used between 2001 and 2013, the last year that data are available (that number excludes deaths by 'legal intervention')."
"The Global Terrorism Database — which uses a criteria to determine terrorist attacks but also includes acts of violence that are more ambiguous in goal — estimates that 3,046 people in the U.S. died in terrorist or possible terrorist attacks between 2001 and 2014." 10-15
- -Defense Officials: Russian Planes Attacked Convoy in Allepo (Time.com)
"U.S. defense officials believe that Russian planes were responsible for the attack on a humanitarian convoy in Aleppo on Monday."
"The strikes have threatened to derail peace talks and came at the end of a one-week truce brokered by U.S. and Russia that was meant to help administer aid to besieged areas." 09-16
- -Did the New Texas ID Law Prevent More Fraudulent Voters or Legitimate Voters from Voting? (MSNBC News)
"Around 600,000 registered Texas voters don’t have one of the limited forms of ID that the law allows, according to evidence presented at trial. The state did almost nothing to challenge that assessment. That means there’s no doubt whatsoever that the law disenfranchised legitimate voters."
"There is also no serious doubt that the number of disenfranchised voters exceeds the amount of fraudulent votes the law stopped. Texas has been able to point to just two fraudulent votes since 2000 that would have been prevented by the ID law." 11-14
- -Does the President Have the Authority to Grant Amnesty to Immigrants? (Heritage Foundation)
The conservative Heritage Foundation specializes in constitutional issues. It states: "The power to pardon is one of the least limited powers granted to the President in the Constitution. The only limits mentioned in the Constitution are that pardons are limited to offenses against the United States (i.e., not civil or state cases), and that they cannot affect an impeachment process." In Article II, Section2, Clause 1, the Constitution states: "The President...shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." 12-14
- -Editorial - Terrorists Require the Partnership of Mass Media (Christian Science Monitor - Felling)
"Troubling questions abound: Does terrorism exist without the media? Does coverage of terrorist acts empower or encourage the people behind them? If terrorism is directed more at the audience than at its victims, shouldn't television journalists stop giving terrorists the forum they covet?"
"Certainly, television news covers terrorist attacks for the high-minded journalistic objective of informing viewers. But the zeal with which fear has been commoditized - from shark attacks to child kidnappings to the Washington sniper - is a product of TV executives realizing that frightened people put down the remote control and await news updates, ratcheting up ratings points. Unfortunately, this living-room fearmongering plays right into the hands of terrorists who are attempting to rattle every American, turning television news reporters into de facto publicists for terrorists."
"Nearly 20 years ago, the eminent Washington reporter David Broder suggested that 'the essential ingredient of any effective antiterrorist policy must be the denial to the terrorist of access to mass media outlets.' He said this in a different era, before 24-hour news channels were in hot competition for Americans' attention. He's still right."
"Amateur cooks learn quickly that pouring water on a grease fire only makes it worse. Broadcasters must realize that their coverage might be doing the same. Like cutting off the oxygen that sustains a flame, a few internal shifts in reporting policy would traumatize viewers less and could save lives." 9-04
- -Editorial: The "Strange Doings on Earth" (Truth-Out.org)
"The IEA [International Energy Agency] estimated that if the world continues on its present course, the 'carbon budget' will be exhausted by 2017. The budget is the quantity of emissions that can keep global warming at the 2 degrees Celsius level considered the limit of safety."
"Also last month, the U.S. Department of Energy reported the emissions figures for 2010. Emissions 'jumped by the biggest amount on record,' The Associated Press reported, meaning that 'levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst-case scenario' anticipated by the International Panel on Climate Change in 2007." 12-11
- -Editorial: $7.7 Trillion Provided to Wall Street (Truth-Out.org)
"They were funneling $7.7 trillion to Wall Street under the table - without one constituent phone call - without worrying about one election - without having to give one explanation."
"They were able to do that because they're members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors - a group of people who are not voted into office, but have the power to completely dictate monetary policy in America."
"Or - to put it in today's terms - the interests of the 99 percent rarely line up with the interests of the 1 percent. That's why - back in 2008 - the technocrats at the Fed weren't interested in waiting for Congress - with all of its open debate and constituent services - to bail out the banks - they just went ahead and did it themselves. According to documents obtained by Bloomberg News - in 2009 - the Fed dished out $7.7 trillion in no-strings-attached, super-low interest loans to Wall Street's biggest players."
"That's more than half of the total value of EVERYTHING - every single thing produced in America - that same year."
"As the world descends into financial turmoil on fears that the Euro zone may collapse, it's the technocrats who are taking power - replacing elected officials."
"Only when the Federal Reserve becomes an instrument of the people to calm the mood swings of the market - and not a piggy bank for transnational banking corporations - can we really protect ourselves from a technocratic takeover in the future. And the way to do it is pretty straightforward - it was Alexander Hamilton's idea back in the George Washington administration. Have the central bank owned by the US government and run by the Treasury Department, so all the profits from banking go directly into the Treasury and you and I pay less in taxes while the banksters on Wall Street can find a job at Wal-Mart." 12-11
- -Editorial: 'Do Unto Others' and the Syrian Refugees (Huffington Post)
"Most Americans look back on our refusal to admit the Jewish refugees from Europe as a shameful blot on American history. We must not allow it to happen again."
"Today the flow of refugees are Muslim, Christian, and Yazidi. They are fleeing ISIS and the horrific civil war in Syria."
"Our most fundamental moral precept is 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' - the Golden Rule. When fellow human beings are fleeing their homes in fear of their lives, we must do our best to help provide them help and safety or we won't be able to look at ourselves in the mirror." 11-15
- -Editorial: A Blueprint for Preventing Nuclear Terrorism (Time.com)
"Today’s terrorists have global reach, so that mission rightly requires a broad international effort. But the United States and Russia possess 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons and most of the world’s weapons-usable nuclear material, and so bear a special responsibility for preventing nuclear terrorism." 03-12
- -Editorial: A Response to an American Muslim Child's Fear (ABC News)
"On Facebook and Twitter, military service members and veterans have started using the hashtag #iwillprotectyou after one mother's post went viral about her daughter's fear of being kicked out of the country."
"Melissa Chance Yassini posted about her daughter's reaction to hearing proposals by Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the country."
" 'She had began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the army came to remove us from our homes,' Yassini wrote on Facebook about her daughter Sofia. 'She checked the locks on the door 3-4 times. This is terrorism. No child in America deserves to feel that way.' " 12-15
- -Editorial: A Short History of Taxes (RollingStone.com)
"After taking office, Clinton immediately seized the mantle of fiscal discipline from Republicans. Rather than simply trimming the federal deficit, as his GOP predecessors had done, he set out to balance the budget and begin paying down the national debt. To do so, he hiked the top tax bracket to nearly 40 percent and boosted the corporate tax rate to 35 percent. 'It cost him both houses of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections,' says Chafee, the former GOP senator. 'But taming the deficit led to the best economy America's ever had.' Following the tax hikes of 1993, the economy grew at a brisk clip of 3.2 percent, creating more than 11 million jobs. Average wages ticked up, and stocks soared by 78 percent. By the spring of 1997, the federal budget was headed into the black." 02-12
- -Editorial: A Time for Everything (Time.com)
"In a Dec. 21, 2014 article about the shooting, the Los Angeles Times referred to the New York City protests as “anti-police marches,” which is grossly inaccurate and illustrates the problem of perception the protestors are battling. The marches are meant to raise awareness of double standards, lack of adequate police candidate screening, and insufficient training that have resulted in unnecessary killings. Police are not under attack, institutionalized racism is. Trying to remove sexually abusive priests is not an attack on Catholicism, nor is removing ineffective teachers an attack on education. Bad apples, bad training, and bad officials who blindly protect them, are the enemy. And any institution worth saving should want to eliminate them, too." 12-14
- -Editorial: An Honest Description of a Fiscally Conservative View (Time.com)
"In our country, the governed have consented to the establishment of an old-age pension plan called Social Security. They have consented to Medicare and Medicaid. They have consented to have an FDA and EPA and SEC and OSHA and the IRS. I'm not saying that any of the above can't be modified and improved--they can be. What I am saying is that the American people, over time, have rejected Ron Paul's 10% offer because it places too much emphasis on individual rights and too little on the common good. The bright line between those competing goals is the essence of our political discourse; it's an honest argument--and I must say, Ron Paul presents his side fearlessly and with impressive intellectual integrity. But the building of a social safety net isn'tcreeping socialism. It's ground-zero democracy." 02-11
- -Editorial: Are Humans "Wired" for War? (New York Times)
"The emerging popular consensus about our biological predisposition to warfare is troubling. It is not just scientifically weak; it is also morally unfortunate, as it fosters an unjustifiably limited vision of human potential."
"There is a story, believed to be of Cherokee origin, in which a girl is troubled by a recurring dream in which two wolves fight viciously. Seeking an explanation, she goes to her grandfather, highly regarded for his wisdom, who explains that there are two forces within each of us, struggling for supremacy, one embodying peace and the other, war. At this, the girl is even more distressed, and asks her grandfather who wins. His answer: 'The one you feed.' "
- -Editorial: Behind the Battle Over Debt (New York Times)
"The endgame in the fight to increase the nation’s debt limit has only begun, but intense exchanges this week between the two parties have made it clear that this is not so much a negotiation over dollars and cents as a broader clash between the two parties over the size and role of government." 07-11
- -Editorial: Broken Government (Time.com)
"According to the Census, median household income in 2008 was $50,303, a decrease from $51,295 in 1998, when the numbers are adjusted for inflation. In other words, over the last decade, America has been in decline."
"This pain is blamed on Washington, but the anger is not directly connected to any policy, proposed or in place. Americans know that the president's health care reform effort only tackles a small part of the problem (health costs) imperfectly, and that its biggest change impacts a small percentage of the population (the uninsured). The jobs bill currently being debated in the Senate—the latest in what has become a biannual event—is not going to solve the underlying issues. It is a band-aid. Both parties are simply unsure what to do, so they are retreating to their poll-tested standbys. Republicans want to cut your taxes and voucher-ize your entitlements. Democrats want to increase subsidies and your entitlements.” 02-10
- -Editorial: Congress Members Need to "Be Americans First" (PBS.org)
"Edwards talks to Judy Woodruff about his suggestions to reform party hostility and create 'one congress serving one country.' " 08-12
- -Editorial: Crippling the Right to Organize (New York Times)
"UNLESS something changes in Washington, American workers will, on New Year’s Day, effectively lose their right to be represented by a union. Two of the five seats on the National Labor Relations Board, which protects collective bargaining, are vacant, and on Dec. 31, the term of Craig Becker, a labor lawyer whom President Obama named to the board last year through a recess appointment, will expire. Without a quorum, the Supreme Court ruled last year, the board cannot decide cases."
"Workers illegally fired for union organizing won’t be reinstated with back pay. Employers will be able to get away with interfering with union elections. Perhaps most important, employers won’t have to recognize unions despite a majority vote by workers. Without the board to enforce labor law, most companies will not voluntarily deal with unions." 12-11
- -Editorial: Death of Habeas Corpus (MSNBC News - Keith Olbermann)
Congress passed a law that now allows the President, on his own, to decide who is an enemy. Such a person can then be placed in prison without trial, a court hearing, or any legal process to determine if he or she really is an enemy of the United States. This law is a clear violation of basic rights according to legal scholars, such as Senator Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Judicial Committee of Congress.
Keith Olbermann notes, "The reality is without habeas corpus, a lot of other rights lose their meaning. But if you look at the actual Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments of that pesky Constitution, you’ll see just how many remain for your protection."
"So as you can see, even without habeas corpus, at least one tenth of the Bill of Rights, I guess that’s the Bill of Right, now—remains virtually intact. No. 3 is still safe."
"We can rest easy knowing that we will never, ever have to quarter soldiers in our homes as long as the third amendment still stands strong." 10-06
- -Editorial: Defining Terrorism (Christian Science Monitor - Jenkins)
"What is terrorism? Consensus has been elusive. But now that the United States is officially at war with terrorism, definition is crucial."
"The term has been applied promiscuously to all forms of violence. But to get beyond propaganda, terrorism must be defined according to the quality of the act itself, not the identity of the perpetrators or the nature of their cause. An act is not terrorism simply because one opposes the cause, or because someone labeled 'terrorist' carries it out. Nor is an act not terrorism because a cause is deemed noble. Ends do not justify means."
"That said, what are the qualities of terrorism?"
"What sets terrorism apart from other violence is this: terrorism consists of acts carried out in a dramatic way to attract publicity and create an atmosphere of alarm that goes far beyond the actual victims. Indeed, the identity of the victims is often secondary or irrelevant to the terrorists who aim their violence at the people watching. This distinction between actual victims and a target audience is the hallmark of terrorism and separates it from other modes of armed conflict. Terrorism is theater." 11-05
- -Editorial: Did Obama Make Government Bigger? (CNN News)
"Government spending as a share of the economy has hovered around 24% during the Obama administration, several percentage points higher than under President Bush, according to Congressional Budget Office data. It's also elevated from the historical average of 20.7% over the past 40 years."
"Much of that increase has come from mandatory spending, including Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. Those programs have expanded mostly because of the recession, which has prompted more people to apply for Medicaid and Social Security, as well as the growth in people hitting retirement age."
"Many safety net programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps, automatically expand during economic downturns. And in the face of prolonged high jobless rates, Congress has authorized extending federal unemployment benefits to a record 99 weeks. The initial extension was passed under President Bush."
"The federal payroll has been expanding since President Bush took office, after declining during the Clinton administration. But it's still a tad smaller than it was in 1992, said Craig Jennings, a federal budget expert at the progressive think tank OMB Watch." 01-12
- -Editorial: EPA Releases New Smog Standard (Grist.org)
"The Obama administration has a long and tortured history with the smog rule; the EPA moved to strengthen it in 2011 but was overruled by the White House. Now the administration has finally imposed a new rule, only it’s too lax and four years too late. EPA is lowering the definition of a safe level for ozone from below 75 parts per billion to 70 ppb. That’s still well above what the environmental and public health communities consider truly safe for human health, which is 60 ppb." 10-15
- -Editorial: Entitlements Are Part of Our Civic Compact (Wall Street Journal)
"To describe the role of these developments in the growth of entitlements, the usual dyad of dependence/independence is too crude. We must take account of a third term—interdependence—and the principle of reciprocity that undergirds it." 09-12
- -Editorial: Financial Institutions Become Wealthier--At Taxpayer's Expense (New York Times)
"Even as the economy continues to struggle, much of Wall Street is minting money — and looking forward again to hefty bonuses."
"Many Americans wonder how this can possibly be."
"With interest rates so low, banks can borrow money cheaply and put those funds to work in lucrative ways, whether using the money to make loans to companies at higher rates, or to speculate in the markets."
"A big reason for Goldman Sachs’s blowout profits this year has been the willingness of its traders to take big risks — they have put more money on the line while other banks that suffered last year have reined in such moves." 10-09
- -Editorial: For the Bailout to Work, the Housing Market Must Mend (USA Today)
"Washington's financial bailout plan is now law. So the credit spigot will start flowing again, banks will resume lending, and an economic recovery can begin, right?"
"Wrong. Experts say the most important thing that needs to happen before the $700 billion bailout even has a chance of working: Home prices must stop falling. That would send a signal to banks that the worst has passed and it's safe to start doling out money again."
Editor's Note: Huh? Wasn't the purpose of the bailout to create credit flow? If the bailout isn't creating credit flow, what is it doing? 10-08
- -Editorial: Gaining Good Governance (New York Times)
"A crisis of governability has beset the Western world. It is no accident that the United States, Europe and Japan are simultaneously experiencing political breakdown; globalization is producing a widening gap between what electorates are asking of their governments and what those governments can deliver. The mismatch between the growing demand for good governance and its shrinking supply is one of the gravest challenges facing the West today."
"Representative governments have proved far better at distributing benefits than at apportioning sacrifice. Rather than shooting straight about the need for shared belt-tightening, vulnerable politicians have been catering to party bases and campaign donors, failing to make the tough choices needed to restore economic solvency."
"In the United States, this crisis of governability is taking the form of a paralyzing polarization. Average household income has fallen by 10 percent over the past decade and the country is now the most unequal in the industrialized world."
"In a globalized world, liberal democracies must turn to strategic planning and state-led investment in infrastructure, education and jobs to restore competitiveness, redress inequality and advantage mass publics rather than the party faithful or special interests." 12-11
- -Editorial: Gas Fracking "Likely" Polluted Ground Water (Time.com)
"EPA constructed two deep monitoring wells to sample water in the [Pavilion, Wyoming] aquifer. The draft report indicates that ground water in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing. EPA also re-tested private and public drinking water wells in the community. The samples were consistent with chemicals identified in earlier EPA results released in 2010 and are generally below established health and safety standards."
"Personally, I still feel the way I did when I wrote TIME’s cover story on fracking last year: shale gas is a potentially very valuable resource for the U.S., one that could help us reduce air pollution and carbon emissions by replacing dirty coal generation. But there are still major questions about the environmental effects of shale gas drilling and fracking—especially as it scales up and moves to more crowded parts of the country. The EPA’s draft study in Pavilion only underscores those concerns—and shows why many Americans are still hesitant to embrace the fracking revolution." 12-11
- -Editorial: Greed and Cowardice Killed "Climate Change" Legislation (New York Times)
"Look at the scientists who question the consensus on climate change; look at the organizations pushing fake scandals; look at the think tanks claiming that any effort to limit emissions would cripple the economy. Again and again, you’ll find that they’re on the receiving end of a pipeline of funding that starts with big energy companies, like Exxon Mobil, which has spent tens of millions of dollars promoting climate-change denial, or Koch Industries, which has been sponsoring anti-environmental organizations for two decades."
"Or look at the politicians who have been most vociferously opposed to climate action. Where do they get much of their campaign money? You already know the answer."
"By itself, however, greed wouldn’t have triumphed. It needed the aid of cowardice — above all, the cowardice of politicians who know how big a threat global warming poses, who supported action in the past, but who deserted their posts at the crucial moment." 07-10
- -Editorial: Green Energy Works Better When Publicly Owned (ClimateCrocks.com)
"Our new green energy future works very well as a non-profit utility, and doesn’t seem to be possible in the for-profit capitalistic system. Not all needed services work in the free enterprise model. Police, Fire departments don’t. Sewer and water systems don’t.
"And electric utilities work better when they are publicly owned." 09-13
- -Editorial: Hashtag Terrorism Has No Religion (Mashable.com)
"On Saturday morning, people began tweeting with the hashtag #TerrorismHasNoReligion in response to those blaming Muslims for the attacks in which at least 129 people were killed and more than 300 people injured. The hashtag #MuslimsAreNotTerrorist is also trending worldwide on Twitter." 11-15
- -Editorial: Hillary Clinton the Activist (DailyKos.com)
"Anabella De Leon of Guatemala pointed to Hillary Clinton, who was sitting right in the front row, and said, “I met her and my life changed.” And all weekend long, women from all over the world said the same thing:"
" 'I’m alive because she came to my village, put her arm around me, and had a photograph taken together.' "
" 'I’m alive because she went on our local TV and talked about my work, and now they’re afraid to kill me.' "
" 'I’m alive because she came to my country and she talked to our leaders, because I heard her speak, because I read about her.' "
" 'I’m here today because of that, because of those stores. I didn’t know about this. I never knew any of it. And I think everybody should know. This hidden history Hillary has, the story of her parallel agenda, the shadow diplomacy unheralded, uncelebrated — careful, constant work on behalf of women and girls that she has always conducted alongside everything else a First Lady, a Senator, and now Secretary of State is obliged to do.' " 02-16
- -Editorial: How Can We Handle Fake News? (CBS News)
"Media academics are adding their voices to the chorus of people urging technology companies and the media to take decisive action to cure the disease of fake news." 11-16
- -Editorial: How China Is Capitalizing on the Economic Crisis (Time.com)
"Once shy of making major foreign investments, Beijing has gone on the prowl for resources and underpriced assets across the globe. Cash-rich Chinese companies, backed by soft loans from state banks and re-energized by lower labor costs as jobs dry up, are descending on Central Asia, Africa and even Western Europe to snap up assets." 04-09
- -Editorial: How Congress Rigs the Rules (Huffington Post)
"This week, the House Ways and Means Committee is poised to demonstrate exactly how the rules get rigged. Beginning on Tuesday, the committee will mark up a series of bills on corporate tax breaks -- known as 'extenders' because they have been extended regularly every year or two for over a decade. Only now the Committee plans to make many of them permanent, at the cost of an estimated $300 billion over 10 years. And it does not plan to pay for them by closing other corporate loopholes or raising rates."
"The measures range from big to small, sensible to inane. Two centerpieces are glaring loopholes for multinational companies and banks, encouraging them to ship jobs and report profits abroad to avoid an estimated $80 billion in taxes over a decade."
"Call them -- one known as the 'active finance exception' and the other as the 'CFC look-through rule' -- the General Electric tax dodges. The loopholes allow multinationals with huge finance arms, like General Electric or Wall Street banks, to dodge paying their fair share of taxes simply by claiming that U.S. based financial income is being generated offshore. These 'exceptions' are central to how GE managed to declare a profit of more than $27 billion over the past five years, while not only paying nothing in taxes, but pocketing tax refunds of more than $3 billion." 04-14
- -Editorial: How Obama Is Making the Same Mistakes as Bush (Time.com)
"Candidate Obama's repudiation of Bush's eight-year presidency was focused on his predecessor's ideology. He should have taken stock of Bush's executive process as well." 03-10
- -Editorial: How the United States Could Be (Truth-Out.org)
"Taken altogether, these billions of dollars, lost on tax breaks and subsidies for wealthy corporations, could be used to fund the impoverished schools serving the United States' impoverished children, job programs to employ the jobless youth, universal health care for the country's sick and dying people, reformation of a racist criminal legal system, higher education for broke young people, nutrition programs for hungry children - the possibilities of using these resources to create a thriving, blooming society and nation are limitless."
"Only a corrupt Congress and the lucrative, symbiotic relationship between Democrats, Republicans and rich, corporate individuals stand in the way."
"So the next time you hear a politician say change is too hard, or that the real world doesn't include transforming this oligarchy into a democracy, take a closer look at who is padding his or her pockets." 02-16
- -Editorial: Interpreting the Second Amendment of the Constitution (CBS News)
"The debate over the Second Amendment came to a head at the Supreme Court in 2008, in a case filed over the Capital's gun laws, called District of Columbia v. Heller. In a 5-4 vote, the court affirmed an individual's right to keep and bear arms, striking down D.C.'s ban on handguns in the home." 03-16
- -Editorial: Iran Nuclear Agreement Better Than War (MSNBC News)
"The legislative branch, authorized by President Obama to approve the Iran deal, now has great power and responsibility: They can either reject the accord, potentially killing diplomacy and putting the United States on a path to war, or allow the president to implement the deal and solidify American goals of blocking all of Iran’s paths to building a nuclear weapon and making the U.S., its allies, and the Middle East more secure."
"Some lawmakers claim that the U.S. can get a 'better deal.' But experts say there is no such thing."
"Why? A better deal would require more pressure on Iran in the form of more sanctions, which have only worked when the entire international community participates. If the U.S. backs out of the deal, our partners aren’t likely to join us in the re-imposition of sanctions after they all just agreed to the deal on the table." 07-15
- -Editorial: Is Business Paying Its Fair Share of Taxes (Time.com)
"As the nation frets over slow growth and large budget deficits, much has been made over how much Americas are and should be paying in income tax. President Obama and Democrats have argued that the wealthiest among us are not paying their fair share. They say the spoils of the globalization and the internet revolution have gone almost exclusively to the very wealthy, and that, in times of crisis, more should be asked of those who can afford to give. Those on the right counter that the wealthy pay their fair share and, more, that the top one percent pay a huge percentage of federal income tax receipts."
"But there is another source of federal revenues that receives less attention: corporate income taxes. According to the Wall Street Journal’s recent study of Congressional Budget Office numbers, corporations are paying an effective rate of 12.1%, the lowest in at least 40 years. So why are some of the biggest and most powerful entities in our society getting away with paying so little? The story is complicated, but the biggest factor in the recent collapse in corporate tax receipts appears to be a set of tax breaks built into recent stimulus efforts." 02-12
- -Editorial: Is Obama Green Enough? (Time.com)
" 'The world was hopeful that Obama would care about global warming, but he has been completely missing in action on this,' says Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace USA."
"Radford is not being entirely fair: Obama has increased alternative-energy funding to record levels and assembled a green team of advisers. They include his Energy Secretary, the Nobel Prize — winning Steven Chu, who told me recently that 'the climate-change problem is at least equal in magnitude' to World War II. He's right. And if Obama wants to win this war, he's going to have to fight, not just make peace." 05-09
- -Editorial: Is the Press Misreporting the Environment Story? (Time.com)
"Rather than a stenographer, Pooley would prefer to see the media adopt the position of an "honest referee — keeping score, throwing flags when a team plays fast and loose with the facts, explaining to the audience what's happening on the field and why." In an issue as complex as climate change, the country badly needs smart, fair umpires, and the media can play that role. But the wave of cutbacks and closings that have hit the American media could make that all but impossible. Referees need to know the game cold, and climate change demands day-in, day-out experience from dedicated reporters. But a dwindling few media outlets are willing to pay for that kind of coverage at a time when the economy is crashing — Time's corporate cousin CNN has eliminated its entire full-time science section." 03-09
- -Editorial: Is the U.S. a "Christian Nation?" (CBS News)
"Ultimately, the question of whether America is a "Christian nation" depends in large part on how you define the phrase. If a 'Christian nation' is simply a nation made largely of Christians, then America is undeniably one. Despite the increase in non-religious Americans, they are still outnumbered more than 6-1 by Christians, according to Gallup."
"But if a 'Christian nation' is something else – a nation on which laws, behavior and policy are fundamentally tied to Christian ideals – then the question is more complex." 04-09
- -Editorial: Justice Ginsberg Speaks About Women's Rights (MSNBC News)
"Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s fierce 35-page dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby wasn’t her last word on the case. In an interview with Katie Couric on Yahoo News, the justice agreed that the decision, which allowed private companies to refuse birth control coverage to their employees based on the employer’s beliefs, revealed a 'blind spot' on women’s rights." 07-14
- -Editorial: Listening to Outcasts (Truth-out.org)
"And here is the dilemma we face as a civilization. We march collectively toward self-annihilation. Corporate capitalism, if left unchecked, will kill us. Yet we refuse, because we cannot think and no longer listen to those who do think, to see what is about to happen to us. We have created entertaining mechanisms to obscure and silence the harsh truths, from climate change to the collapse of globalization to our enslavement to corporate power, that will mean our self-destruction. If we can do nothing else we must, even as individuals, nurture the private dialogue and the solitude that make thought possible. It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one's own country, than an outcast from one's self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind." 07-12
- -Editorial: Lowe's and Islamophobia (CNN News)
Presents the difference between Muslims and Islamic extremists. 12-11
- -Editorial: Marx's Revenge (Time.com)
"With the global economy in a protracted crisis, and workers around the world burdened by joblessness, debt and stagnant incomes, Marx’s biting critique of capitalism — that the system is inherently unjust and self-destructive — cannot be so easily dismissed. Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic crises and heightened conflict between the rich and working classes. 'Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole,' Marx wrote."
"A growing dossier of evidence suggests that he may have been right." 03-13
- -Editorial: No, Governors Cannot Refuse to Accept Syrian Refugees (ThinkProgress.org)
"The problem for Jindal, Abbott and the other governors opposed to admitting refugees, however, is that there is no lawful means that permits a state government to dictate immigration policy to the president in this way. As the Supreme Court explained in Hines v. Davidowitz, “the supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution.” States do not get to overrule the federal government on matters such as this one.Just in case there is any doubt, President Obama has explicit statutory authorization to accept foreign refugees into the United States." 11-15
- -Editorial: Obama's Style a Challenge for Europe (Christian Science Monitor)
"Ahead of his visit, in inconclusive meetings in Brussels, there was uncertainty and bickering. What's causing stress in the European Union is not US badgering and unilateralism, but the Obama dynamic of moving toward agreement, concensus, and multilateralism, say some economists and political scientists."
" 'President Bush was an extraordinary catalyst for Europe, a bogeyman. Even people with diverging views on economic and foreign policy were united against the US policy,' says Karim Bitar, a Paris consultant and scholar at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations. 'But now the US can no longer be accused of all the world's ills. The truth is, Europeans now think more about America than about Europe. There is no European consensus on the most basic questions of our future, what we should be. Under Bush, we could evade them. Not now.' " 04-09
- -Editorial: One Person, One Vote (Time.com)
"The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in Evenwel v. Abbott, a case from Texas that threatens to undermine one of the great achievements of 20th-century American democracy: the principle of 'one person, one vote.' " 12-15
- -Editorial: Preventing Mass Murder (MotherJones.com)
"Threat assessment is essentially a three-part process: identifying, evaluating, and then intervening."
"Mass murder is not an impulsive crime—and therein lies the promise of threat assessment." 10-15
- -Editorial: Science and Contraception (CNN News)
"Our country's top health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, counts contraception as one of the 10 greatest health achievements of the 20th century. Yet recently:”
"Some members of Congress, in their attempt to derail legislation requiring insurers, including the insurers of some religious organizations, to cover birth control, falsely argued that Plan B, the 'morning after' pill taken after sex in order to avoid pregnancy, causes abortions."
"It does not, nor do other methods of contraception, James N. Martin, Jr., president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pointed out in a letter to the editor in USA Today. 'The definition of contraception is to prevent pregnancy, which occurs at implantation,' he wrote."
"The morning-after pill is often confused with another drug, RU-486, which, he said, does induce abortion and is therefore not considered contraception." 05-12
- -Editorial: The Clintons Received $153 Million in Speaking Fees (CNN News)
"Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, combined to earn more than $153 million in paid speeches from 2001 until Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign last spring, a CNN analysis shows."
"In total, the two gave 729 speeches from February 2001 until May, receiving an average payday of $210,795 for each address. The two also reported at least $7.7 million for at least 39 speeches to big banks, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic 2016 front-runner, collecting at least $1.8 million for at least eight speeches to big banks." 02-16
- -Editorial: The Disconnect Between Employment and Productivity (Time.com)
"The reasons matter, because far from being cause for good cheer, they point to a disturbing new trend in the labor markets – the worker as commodity. Let me explain. In the old days (meaning before globalization really took off the in 1980s), employment and productivity (which is a large part of overall economic growth) used to rise hand in hand. There would be a pick up in hiring, and that would boost productivity, and growth (along with asset prices) would rise."
"Somewhere on the road to globalization and technology-related job destruction, that link was broken. Feroli puts the marker down in 1984. But the bottom line is that the rise of temporary employment, the decline of unionization, and the rise of the internet made labor less of a fixed cost and stable part of the economic formula, and more of a variable factor – easy for companies to add and dispose of at will. “It’s the worker as commodity,” says Feroli, and what it means is that while employment may rise faster than economic growth dictates (as it’s doing now, in part because flattened wages have made American labor more globally competitive), it can also go the other way. Productivity and profits can rise, and unemployment can stay flat." 03-12
- -Editorial: The Federal Government Is Addressing the Wrong Problems (Washington Post)
"The most helpful thing Congress can do immediately is to get rid of the sequester cuts. A Congressional Budget Office study conducted at the request of Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Budget Committee’s ranking Democrat, found that if left in place, the automatic reductions could cost up to 1.6 million jobs next year. Allowing that to happen would be folly — and heartless, too."
"So let’s douse the flames of slow growth and joblessness first. Government does better when it deals with one crisis at a time." 10-13
- -Editorial: The Founders Feared a "Strongman" (New York Times)
"The founders, knowing history and human nature, took great care to devise a system that would prevent demagogues and those with authoritarian tendencies from rising up in America. That system has been extraordinarily successful. We have never before faced the prospect of a political strongman becoming president."
"Until now." 03-16
- -Editorial: The Most Important Number in Politics (Time.com)
"Hibbs model has successfully predicted each election since 1952 to within 2.5 percentage points, with the exception of two misses: 1996, when Hibbs model predicted a bigger Clinton win, and 2000, when Hibbs model predicted a bigger popular vote win by Al Gore. Political scientists generally agree that campaigns do matter–though they tend to cancel each other out–and that other factors like party identification, ideology and policy also affect the final vote. But the biggest single factor in moving the polls, presidential approval and the vote, in a time of general peace, is almost surely economic performance. And Barack Obama is short on time to put some better numbers on the board." 01-12
- -Editorial: The Myth of Fair Elections (Observer Guardian - Harris)
"There is little doubt that at a grassroots level America's election is in disarray and being abused. And at a time of narrow election victories where presidential races come down to a single state (Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004) a microscope is instantly cast on that state's electoral practises. And lo, they are found wanting. Or open to fraud. Or being abused. Or local groups (from both sides) are going hell for leather to keep the other side from the polls. This is not because this is being planned out of Washington and targeted into those key states. It is because it is actually happening all over the country. We just notice because it has come down to the wire at that particular state."
"You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to be seriously worried about this state of affairs. In many ways, it is more worrying that the system is not being deliberately stolen from on high. It is actually broken from the ground up." 09-06
- -Editorial: The Path to Peace Is Not More Guns (Huffington Post)
"Instead of calling for airstrikes, call for an end to the weapons trade. Instead of falling for simplistic analysis of 'good guys versus bad guys', look for a political process to address the root causes fueling violence. Instead of hoping for a quick solution, look for long term sustainability. Instead of just pointing fingers at these regimes, look at how Western policies in these regions have too often perpetuated rather than lessened violence." 03-12
- -Editorial: The Supreme Court Gives Corporations New "Rights" to Influence Elections (Time.com)
"When the Supreme Court ended its term last week, its ruling extending gun rights was the big news. But the real headline of the term was the court's decision earlier this year giving corporations and unions sweeping new rights to spend money to elect candidates to office. It is not an overstatement to say that the 5 to 4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which was handed down in January, could permanently change American democracy."
"Now, ExxonMobil or Walmart can simply go into the district of a member of Congress who is giving them a hard time and spend as much money as it wants to defeat him. The amount of money that is available is staggering. According to Democracy 21, a group that advocates for campaign-finance regulations, corporations had revenues of $13 trillion and profits of $605 billion during the last election cycle. (Unions have far less.)"
"Of course, corporations may not even have to spend the money. If a member of Congress knows that General Motors or ConAgra could spend millions of dollars to defeat him in the next election, he may be a lot more sympathetic to the company's request for a bailout or for favorable language in a pending bill." 07-10
- -Editorial: The Very Angry in the Tea Party (New York Times)
"Sometimes it is hard to know where politics ends and metaphysics begins: when, that is, the stakes of a political dispute concern not simply a clash of competing ideas and values but a clash about what is real and what is not, what can be said to exist on its own and what owes its existence to an other."
"The seething anger that seems to be an indigenous aspect of the Tea Party movement arises, I think, at the very place where politics and metaphysics meet, where metaphysical sentiment becomes political belief. More than their political ideas, it is the anger of Tea Party members that is already reshaping our political landscape."
"It is not for the sake of acquiring political power that Tea Party activists demonstrate, rally and organize; rather, Lilla argues, the appeal is to 'individual opinion, individual autonomy, and individual choice, all in the service of neutralizing, not using, political power.' "
"My hypothesis is that what all the events precipitating the Tea Party movement share is that they demonstrated, emphatically and unconditionally, the depths of the absolute dependence of us all on government action, and in so doing they undermined the deeply held fiction of individual autonomy and self-sufficiency that are intrinsic parts of Americans’ collective self-understanding." 06-10
- -Editorial: Too Much Debt Drove Trump's Biggest Casino Aground (Washington Post)
"In April 1990, the Taj opened as the world’s largest casino-hotel complex, joining Trump’s other holdings already operating in Atlantic City, the Trump Plaza and Trump’s Castle. But Trump could not keep pace with his debts on the three casinos. Six months later, the Taj defaulted on interest payments to bondholders as his finances went into a tailspin. In July 1991, Trump’s Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy, the first and most significant of the four that his companies have experienced." 01-16
- -Editorial: Trump Makes Unfounded Claims of Voter Fraud (Time.com)
"A study by the Carnegie-Knight News21 team, which analyzed 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases in 50 states between 2000 and 2012, determined that attorneys-general only successfully prosecuted on the state level 38 cases—0.000026% of the 146 million votes cast over that 12-year period. The analysis found only 10 cases of voter impersonation." 09-06
- -Editorial: Was Clinton a Good Secretary of State? (Politico.com)
"Here’s Aaron David Miller, who negotiated Middle East peace for five presidents and is now a scholar at the Wilson Center, making the case for cautious Clinton: 'Hillary was risk-averse; Kerry isn’t. He’s risk-ready.' Of course, Miller argues, 2016 politics 'explains partly why she didn’t own a single issue of consequence.' The other reason is President Obama himself, 'the most controlling foreign policy president since Nixon.' Miller’s bottom line: 'She was a fine secstate but not consequential.' ”
"Pletka’s broader view of Clinton’s record is a harsher version of what I hear from many Democrats: 'the Washington consensus,' Pletka says, 'is that she was enormously ineffective … [though] no one was quite sure whether she was ineffective because she wanted to avoid controversy or because she wasn’t trusted by the president to do anything.' "
"Timing, fate and the White House may have all conspired in it, but the truth is that Hillary Clinton never did find a way to turn Foggy Bottom into her ticket to history." 12-13
- -Editorial: We Are Driving Moderates Out of Congress (CNN News)
"Congressional moderates, it seems, are a dying breed."
"But ideological stubbornness may be just one ingredient in the recipe for congressional paralysis. Throw in congressional redistricting, which has made it more difficult for moderates to run and win. Judicial nominations are stalled. Legislation that sails through the House is often dead on arrival in the Senate. Even issues that appear to have bipartisan support -- such as capping student loan interest rates -- get stuck in the goo of Congress."
"Next, add primary rule changes that only allow registered party members to vote and a polarized electorate whose grassroots efforts have put tremendous pressure on lawmakers to stay true to a more narrow interpretation of party values. Then sweeten it with the rise of more partisan-leaning media that allows voters to only consume news skewed to their own political views."
"The result: danger for moderates on both sides of the aisle. 05-12
- -Editorial: What Will Reform Wall Street? (CNN News)
"The SEC recently fined Citigroup for $285 for selling CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) tied to bad mortgages. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have both recently paid large fines ($500 million and $154 million) to the SEC for similar misbehavior, in each case teaming up with a hedge fund to create securities designed to fail, in order to defraud unsuspecting purchasers while the hedge fund bets against the securities. The hedge fund makes a large profit; the Wall Street firm earns a large fee; and the unsuspecting purchasers incur great losses. While the fines seems tough, they are merely a slap on the wrist."
"Moreover, the Wall Street CEOs who were the architects of this illegal behavior have pocketed vast personal riches in recent years and have lost nothing themselves from the SEC fines, which are basically passed down to the shareholders as the companies as a whole foot the bill. What is worse is that CEOs who were in charge while these deals were cooked in the first place are still in charge today."
"If we want to truly reform Wall Street, we must hold these leaders accountable. When companies commit financial fraud, the responsible senior management team should step aside, accepting responsibility for the serious misdeeds of their companies and apologizing to the American people for the heavy costs they and their colleagues have imposed on the entire economy. If they do not voluntarily step down, and if the shareholders do not remove them, then the government should remove them. Bankers are required to exercise probity and responsibility vis-à-vis the markets as well as their shareholders. It is the job of bank regulators to ensure that top bankers measure up to these basic standards."
"Bizarrely, the hedge funds that teamed up with the investment banks have paid no price at all for their behavior." 11-11
- -Editorial: When a Candidate Gets No Votes (Post-Gazette.com)
"We need secure voting systems that provide for voter-verified paper ballots. Then we can regularly audit a percentage of the vote for assurance that the machines have performed correctly, and we can always pull out all the ballots to recount any race."
"It's obvious. Faith-based voting? Please, no!" 11-12
- -Editorial: Why Do Voters Believe Obvious Lies? (ABC News)
"Psychologist Jon Krosnick of Ohio State University in Columbus studied nationwide surveys over a 16 year period, 1972 to 1988, and found that negative information had far more impact on voters than positive information."
"Perhaps voters are looking for an easy way to eliminate one of the candidates. Krosnick also found that people were more likely to vote if they hated one of the candidates than if they liked them both, another reason why so many politicians resort to smear campaigns."
"Perhaps voters are looking for an easy way to eliminate one of the candidates. Krosnick also found that people were more likely to vote if they hated one of the candidates than if they liked them both, another reason why so many politicians resort to smear campaigns."
" 'As Francis Bacon put it so many years ago, 'Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.' " 09-10
- -Editorial: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us (Time.com)
"According to one of a series of exhaustive studies done by the McKinsey & Co. consulting firm, we spend more on health care than the next 10 biggest spenders combined: Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia. We may be shocked at the $60 billion price tag for cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy. We spent almost that much last week on health care. We spend more every year on artificial knees and hips than what Hollywood collects at the box office. We spend two or three times that much on durable medical devices like canes and wheelchairs, in part because a heavily lobbied Congress forces Medicare to pay 25% to 75% more for this equipment than it would cost at Walmart."
"The health care industry seems to have the will and the means to keep it that way. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the pharmaceutical and health-care-product industries, combined with organizations representing doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, health services and HMOs, have spent $5.36 billion since 1998 on lobbying in Washington. That dwarfs the $1.53 billion spent by the defense and aerospace industries and the $1.3 billion spent by oil and gas interests over the same period. That’s right: the health-care-industrial complex spends more than three times what the military-industrial complex spends in Washington."
"When you crunch data compiled by McKinsey and other researchers, the big picture looks like this: We’re likely to spend $2.8 trillion this year on health care. That $2.8 trillion is likely to be $750 billion, or 27%, more than we would spend if we spent the same per capita as other developed countries, even after adjusting for the relatively high per capita income in the U.S. vs. those other countries. Of the total $2.8 trillion that will be spent on health care, about $800 billion will be paid by the federal government through the Medicare insurance program for the disabled and those 65 and older and the Medicaid program, which provides care for the poor. That $800 billion, which keeps rising far faster than inflation and the gross domestic product, is what’s driving the federal deficit." 02-13
- -Editorial: Why Medicare Is the Solution, Not the Problem (Truth-out.org)
"The real problem is the soaring costs of health care that lie beneath Medicare. They’re costs all of us are bearing in the form of soaring premiums, co-payments, and deductibles."
"Medicare offers a means of reducing these costs — if Washington would let it."
"So what’s the answer? For starters, allow anyone at any age to join Medicare. Medicare’s administrative costs are in the range of 3 percent. That’s well below the 5 to 10 percent costs borne by large companies that self-insure. It’s even further below the administrative costs of companies in the small-group market (amounting to 25 to 27 percent of premiums). And it’s way, way lower than the administrative costs of individual insurance (40 percent). It’s even far below the 11 percent costs of private plans under Medicare Advantage, the current private-insurance option under Medicare."
"In addition, allow Medicare – and its poor cousin Medicaid – to use their huge bargaining leverage to negotiate lower rates with hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies. This would help move health care from a fee-for-the-most-costly-service system into one designed to get the highest-quality outcomes most cheaply." 07-11
- -Editorial: Why Obama Will Never Call Out Racism (Time.com)
"Barack Obama is not a black leader. He’s a leader who’s black. This is not an insignificant distinction." 03-12
- -Editorial: Why Police Shoot Young Black Men (MotherJones.com)
On his giant monitor, Amodio shows me a big blob of data, a cluster of points depicting where people score on the Implicit Association Test. The test measures racial prejudices that we cannot consciously control. I've taken it three times now. This time around my uncontrolled prejudice, while clearly present, has come in significantly below the average for white people like me."
"Taking the IAT, one of the most popular tools among researchers trying to understand racism and prejudice, is both extremely simple and pretty traumatic." 11-14
- -Editorial: Why the Environmental Movement Has Failed (Science.Time.com)
"Hurricanes may be stronger, summers hotter, and droughts longer than ever. But unless you’re a climate scientist or follow their research closely, it’s difficult to know for sure whether these phenomena signal the beginning of a historic calamity or are merely events on a cyclical pattern. At any rate, supermarkets offer an ever increasing variety of foods at fairly stable prices, while Mardi Gras was celebrated on schedule in New Orleans not long after Katrina blew through. Most coverage of climate change traffics heavily in words like 'could' and 'potentially.' It’s hard to build a world-saving movement on that." 04-13
- -Election Reform Needed Now (Time.com)
"A federal Voters’ Bill of Rights could press the states to put non-partisan managers in charge of elections. There is a good model for this in the Government Accountability Board, which runs Wisconsin elections. Members of the board are selected in ways designed to minimize political partisanship and they are expected to put fair elections ahead of politics." 11-12
- -Fact Check: How Dire Is the Situation for Social Security? (CBS News)
"Republican candidates frequently make reference to the dire circumstances Social Security is in -- but the timeline is actually less urgent than Cruz suggested."
"A report from the Social Security Trustees in 2015 estimated that the program will be able to pay out 100 percent of promised benefits to seniors until the year 2034--which is 18 years away."
"Even then, the report notes then that tax income will be 'sufficient' to pay approximately three-quarters of planned benefits until 2089." 03-16
- -Factcheck: Is Trump Correct about Birthright Citizenship? (CBS News)
" 'Mexico and almost every other country anywhere in the world doesn't have that. We're the only ones dumb enough, stupid enough to have it,' he [Trump] said."
"This is simply not true."
"First, the idea that the U.S. stands alone in granting citizenship to all people born on its soil is not true. Two separate organizations that research immigration issues have compiled data and charts that show jus soli - that is, citizenship derived from the place of your birth - is the practice in 30 countries." 09-15
- -Fed Admits "Too Big to Jail" Policy (HuffingtonPost.com)
"The federal government until recently shielded big banks from criminal prosecution out of concern that convictions may damage the financial system, a top Federal Reserve official said Friday, explicitly acknowledging a policy long denied by the Obama administration."
"Until May, large financial institutions investigated for wrongdoing had dodged criminal prosecution under the Obama administration, despite evidence from federal regulators and prosecutors showing that big banks had, for instance, laundered money for suspected terrorists and drug cartels; manipulated interest rate benchmarks; rigged various commodities markets; mislead investors in mortgage-linked securities; duped homeowners into taking out expensive mortgages; manipulated municipal debt markets; and broke state and federal rules when attempting to seize homes after borrowers fell behind on their payments, a scandal that became known as 'robosigning.' " 11-14
- -Food Stamp Myths (CNN News)
"The average monthly SNAP benefit per person is $133.85, or less than $1.50 per person per meal. Those benefits are low, and for many families, SNAP benefits don't last the whole month."
"As for food stamps, more than 72% of all SNAP beneficiaries are families with children. Most of the recipients are children (48%), the elderly (8%) and the disabled. Less than 10% of food stamp recipients receive welfare payments."
- -Gas Found in Water Near Gas Fracking Sites (NBC News)
"Elevated levels of methane and other stray gases have been found in drinking water near natural gas wells in Pennsylvania's gas-rich Marcellus shale region, according to new research. In the case of methane, concentrations were six times higher in some drinking water found within one kilometer of drilling operations." 06-13
- -Germany Has Built a Clean Energy Economy (Bloomberg News)
"Twenty-five percent of Germany's electricity now comes from solar, wind and biomass. A third of the world's installed solar capacity is found in Germany, a nation that gets roughly the same amount of sunlight as Alaska. A whopping 65 percent of the country's total renewable power capacity is now owned by individuals, cooperatives and communities, leaving Germany's once all-powerful utilities with just a sliver (6.5 percent) of this burgeoning sector." 12-12
- -Global Use of Coal Will Be "Game Over" for the Climate (Time.com)
"Coal prices in the U.S. are falling and coal plants are being retired. Most of that change is being driven by what analysts refer to as 'market conditions'—otherwise known as shale gas and fracking, which has driven prices for natural gas down, down, down. That’s encouraged utilities to phase out coal in favor of cleaner natural gas—a transition that has been accelerated by federal environmental regulations that will increasingly limit the sort of air pollution associated with old coal plants."
"But if the future of coal is looking dim in the U.S. with cheap natural gas and a Democrat in the White House, it’s as bright as a steel furnace in much of the rest of the world. In 2010 the global coal trade rose by 13.4%, reaching 1.08 billion metric tons. In a new report, the World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that nearly 1,200 new coal plants are at least in the planning stages worldwide. Though the projects are spread across the globe, more than 3/4 of the new plants are set to be built in India and China. If every one of those plants were to be built and activated, it would add 1.4 million MW of coal-fired electricity capacity to the global grid. Since coal is already the single biggest contributor to man-made global warming, an unchecked global coal building spree really would be game over for the climate—no matter what happens in the U.S." 11-12
- -Half of Americans Are Now Low Income or Poverty Level (U.S. News)
"About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That's up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure." 12-11
- -Has "Obamacare" Caused Reduced Work Hours? (Time.com)
"One of the most-cited arguments made by opponents of Obamacare is that the law is bad for business. The Affordable Care Act requires that companies with more than 50 full-time workers provide health insurance and the law’s critics have faulted this provision for accelerating a trend of businesses scaling back hours and eliminating full-time jobs in favor of part-time positions. Writing in the Detroit News in September, Republican Rep. Mike Rogers said the health care law had caused an 'unsettling trend of a permanent part-time workforce.' CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo said as recently as Sunday the health care law was transforming the U.S. into a 'part-time employment country.' ”
"The problem with this line of thought was that there wasn’t any good evidence to support it. And a new federal jobs report released Tuesday shows that Obamacare’s effect on employment is not what its critics have claimed."
"After an uptick in part-time work earlier this year, which Republicans seized on to attack the law, the new jobs report shows that, for the second straight month, the number of part-time jobs reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics fell."
- -Highlights of President Obama's Farewell Speech (Time.com)
"In a forceful farewell speech — interrupted by cheers and calls for “four more years” — President Barack Obama reviewed his legacy in his final address to the nation Tuesday night in Chicago, and sought to address the uncertainties many Americans feel as they face an imminent change of leadership." 01-17
- -How Bad Is America's Drug Problem? (Time.com)
"It's not just opioids and heroin. Fatal overdoses of other drugs are also steeply on the rise." 03-16
- -How Donald Trump Bankrupted Casinos But Made Money (New York Times)
"Though he now says his casinos were overtaken by the same tidal wave that eventually slammed this seaside city’s gambling industry, in reality he was failing in Atlantic City long before Atlantic City itself was failing."
"But even as his companies did poorly, Mr. Trump did well. He put up little of his own money, shifted personal debts to the casinos and collected millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and other payments. The burden of his failures fell on investors and others who had bet on his business acumen."
"Mr. Trump assembled his casino empire by borrowing money at such high interest rates — after telling regulators he would not — that the businesses had almost no chance to succeed."
"Stock and bondholders lost more than $1.5 billion." 06-16
- -How Gay Marriage Advocates Won (Time.com)
"In a dramatic slap at congressional authority, a divided Supreme Court has struck down a key part of a law that denies to legally married same-sex couples the same federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses."
"The case examined whether the federal government can deny tax, health and pension benefits to same-sex couples in states where they can legally marry. At issue was whether DOMA violates equal protection guarantees in the Fifth Amendment's due process clause as applied to same-sex couples legally married under the laws of their states."
"Kennedy in his opinion used sweeping language to affirm the rights of gays and lesbians."
" 'For same-sex couples who wished to be married, the state (of New York) acted to give their lawful conduct a lawful status. This status is a far-reaching legal acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between two people, a relationship deemed by the state worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages,' he said. 'DOMA seeks to injure the very class New York seeks to protect.' " 06-13
- -How Governors Are Responding to Climate Change (ThinkProgress.org)
"This map from the analysis categorizes governors into four groups: green for those who both accept climate science and are taking action to fight climate change; orange for those who either accept or haven’t openly denied climate science, but also have yet to take serious action to address climate change; red for those who have failed to take action or openly rejected to federal safeguards to address climate change, and red with stripes for climate deniers." 07-14
- -How Medicaid Expansion Could Impact Each State (PBS.org)
Provides a map of potential Medicaid coverage by state. "The United States would inch closer to universal health care by expanding the Medicaid program to about 17 million low-income people. The federal government would pick up 100 percent of the tab for the expansion and force states to pay for 10 percent of the cost a few years down the line."
"But in its ruling on the Affordable Care Act last Thursday, the Supreme Court added a twist: Expanding Medicaid is constitutional, the justices ruled, but forcing states to participate by threatening to withhold the rest of their Medicaid cash is not." 06-12
- -How in Touch Are You With America on Gun Control (Time.com)
"The following short quiz, developed in partnership with social psychologist Sander van der Linden of Princeton University and Adam Pearson of Pomona College, will test how well you can predict how different groups, including Democrats and Republicans, feel about gun ownership." 06-16
- -How the Oil Industry Is in Long-Term Trouble (Huffington Post)
"The oil industry is, of course, hoping that the current price plunge will soon reverse itself and that its now-crumbling maximizing-output model will make a comeback along with $100-per-barrel price levels. But these hopes for the return of 'normality' are likely energy pipe dreams. As van der Hoeven suggests, the world has changed in significant ways, in the process obliterating the very foundations on which Big Oil’s production-maximizing strategy rested. The oil giants will either have to adapt to new circumstances, while scaling back their operations, or face takeover challenges from more nimble and aggressive firms." 03-15
- -How to Take a Position of Power (Time.com)
"Powerful people use their bodies to convey authority in at least two ways." 11-10
- -How to Talk to Children About Different Religions (Time.com)
"Some parents, McCarthy says, may be reluctant to expose kids to other religions, out of concern that they might be drawn away from their own. But that’s not what McCarthy has seen in her years of interfaith work. 'The more common pattern,' she says, is that an 'encounter with other religious traditions is a mirror that invites us to think about our own in deeper ways.' " 09-15
- -Implicit Bias and the Presidency (Berkeley.edu)
"There are things we can do to lessen bias, and knowledge and training both help. In the case of police, recognizing the role of implicit bias and providing sustained training to override those biases could save lives. Who could object to saving lives through such training?"
"Neuroscience is clear: bias is part of being human. Racialized consequences of harmful implicit biases are not. And the content and strength of particular biases are socially constructed. Understanding the role of implicit bias in our national psyche is something that does affect all Americans and having public conversations about implicit bias, including from the platform of our presidential debate, is both powerful and promising." 09-16
- -Israel Rejects NRA's Guns-in-Schools Claim (CBS News)
"Israel's policy on issuing guns is restrictive, and armed guards at its schools are meant to stop terrorists, not crazed or disgruntled gunmen, experts said Monday, rejecting claims by America's top gun lobby that Israel serves as proof for its philosophy that the U.S. needs more weapons, not fewer."
"Far from the image of a heavily armed population where ordinary people have their own arsenals to repel attackers, Israel allows its people to acquire firearms only if they can prove their professions or places of residence put them in danger. The country relies on its security services, not armed citizens, to prevent terror attacks."
"Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor spelled it out."
"Because it is aimed at preventing terror attacks, Israel's school security system is part of a multi-layered defense strategy that focuses on prevention and doesn't depend on a guy at a gate with a gun." 12-12
- -John F. Kennedy's Speech on Separation of Church and State (AmericanRhetoric.com)
"I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all."
"Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end, where all men and all churches are treated as equals, where every man has the same right to attend or not to attend the church of his choice, where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind, and where Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, at both the lay and the pastoral levels, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood." 02-12
- -Jon Stewart Skewers Obama on Campaign Promises (Time.com)
"Just before Barack Obama took to the air for his first Oval Office speech, Jon Stewart taped an episode of The Daily Show that blasted the president for not living up to his words." Stewart focuses on Obama's failure to uphold constitutional law, such as the right of a person to have a court decide if he or she has been lawfully detained. 06-10
- -Justice Ginsburg Summarizes Ruling in Favor of Abortion Clinics (HuffingtonPost.com)
"The 2013 Texas law that the court struck down would have required all abortions to take place in ambulatory surgical centers, or mini-hospitals, instead of regular clinics. Ginsburg kept her argument simple: Abortions are statistically safer than many simpler medical procedures, including tonsillectomies, colonoscopies, in-office dental surgery and childbirth — but Texas does not subject those procedures to the same onerous requirements."
" 'Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that H.B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions,’ " Ginsburg wrote. “ 'When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners ... at great risk to their health and safety.' " 06-16
- -Key Features of the Affordable Health Care Act (HealthCare.gov)
Provides features by year that they will come into effect. 07-12
- -Koch Brothers: Economy Is Rigged (ABC News)
"Conservative billionaire Charles Koch and Sen. Bernie Sanders may be on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but both are in agreement on one issue: the American economy is 'rigged' in favor of the wealthy." 04-16
- -Lifting the Stigma on American Muslims (Christian Science Monitor)
"The survey also provides an answer to the idea of closing down mosques. The poll found that the frequency of mosque attendance by American Muslims has no correlation to their views on violence. Muslims in the US oppose military targeting and killing of civilians more than any other faith group. And, suggests Ms. Mogahed, their involvement in a mosque may actually improve opportunities for better engagement with American society."
"Any election debate about Muslims must be based on facts. And just as presidential candidates do not need to pass a litmus test about their religion, US citizens should be treated simply as citizens – no matter their faith." 03-16
- -Marketing Links Found Between Violent Video Games and Gun Manufacturers (New York Times)
"As Electronic Arts prepared to market Medal of Honor Warfighter, the latest version of its top-selling video game released in October, it created a Web site that promoted the manufacturers of the guns, knives and combat-style gear depicted in the game." 12-12
- -Match Your Attitudes with a State (Time.com)
"For a country that features the word United so prominently in its name, the U.S. is a pretty fractious place. We splinter along fault lines of income, education, religion, race, hyphenated origin, age and politics. Then too there’s temperament. We’re coarse or courtly, traditionalist or rebel, amped up or laid-back. And it’s no secret that a lot of that seems to be determined by — or at least associated with — where we live."
- -Media Do Not Follow-Up to See If Civilians Are Killed in US Strikes (Truth-Out.org)
"In preparation for COP21, the nations of the world were asked to each provide their voluntary emission caps. They fell short. Voluntary proposals are insufficient to avert catastrophic climate change. We are rapidly approaching a precipice, since there are irreversible changes - for example, the melting of Greenland and of the polar caps - that occur once we exceed 2 [degree] Celsius increase in temperature and cannot be reversed for centuries since, once emitted, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. This catastrophic scenario will happen now unless we actually remove existing carbon from the atmosphere. Mandatory emissions [limits] are critical, yet the US continues to be strongly opposed to this approach."
"In the 33 strikes that produced civilian casualties, TBIJ found that between 180 and 302 civilians were killed - yet Times and Post articles reported on the deaths of only nine civilians in the three stories in which they noted that there were civilian casualties." 11-15
- -Mobile Devices Now Dominate Google Searches (Wall Street Journal)
"Google now sees more than 100 billion searches a month. The company said in May that searches on mobile devices outnumbered those on desktop computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan." 10-15
- -National Defense Autorization Act and Civil Rights (Wikipedia.org)
"The most controversial provisions to receive wide attention are contained in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled 'Counter-Terrorism.' In particular, sub-sections 1021 and 1022, which deal with detention of persons the government suspects of involvement in terrorism, have generated controversy as to their legal meaning and their potential implications for abuse of Presidential authority."
"The American Civil Liberties Union has responded that despite claims by the Obama Administration to the contrary, 'The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision... [without] temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.' "
Editor's Note: Among the most basic of human rights is freedom from arbitrary detention. The right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus, to be brought before a judge to determine if your detention was lawful, seems to be suspended by this Act. 01-12
- -Natural Gas-Fired Power Plants Are Replacing Coal-Fired Plants (ABC News)
"To be sure, environmental regulations designed to make coal-fired power plants cleaner are raising costs for the industry and having an effect, but the 'war on coal' is coming less from the Obama administration than from natural gas, say some experts."
"Coal-fired power plants and coal mines are being shuttered at an unprecedented pace mainly because the price of natural gas has dropped so far that it has made coal power uncompetitive. Specifically, electricity from natural gas power plants comes at less than half the cost of electricity from coal generators. As utility executives hustle to remain competitive in the deregulated marketplace, they are increasingly turning to the cheaper alternative, power market experts say."
Editor's Note: Climate experts have identified coal-fired power plants as the largest source of CO2 in the air and they have identified excessive CO2 in the air as the largest cause of climate change. 09-12
- -New Analysis of 2 Million Years of Data Suggests Bad Outcome for Life on Earth (Nature.com)
"A comparison of the new temperature reconstruction with radiative forcing from greenhouse gases estimates an Earth system sensitivity of 9 degrees Celsius (range 7 to 13 degrees Celsius, 95 per cent credible interval) change in global average surface temperature per doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide over millennium timescales. This result suggests that stabilization at today’s greenhouse gas levels may already commit Earth to an eventual total warming of 5 degrees Celsius (range 3 to 7 degrees Celsius, 95 per cent credible interval) over the next few millennia as ice sheets, vegetation and atmospheric dust continue to respond to global warming."
Editor's Note: A simple statement of the author's conclusion is that if current greenhouse gas levels stay the same as they are now for the next few thousand years, we can expect that global temperatures may rise 5 dgrees Celsius. Most climatologists predict that a rise in global temperature of 5 degrees Celsius would be catastrophic. Also see Tipping Point 09-16
- -New Chip-Based Credit Card Safety (CBS News)
"Because the chip is actually a small microprocessor, the card reader activates it, encrypts the transaction information and generates a secure code to authorize the purchase. All this happens without the card reader being connected via a telecom line or a wireless connection. That keeps your card's information off merchants' servers and off their wireless networks, thus preventing the data-skimming technique fraudsters have commonly used to steal customer data from major retailers such as Target (TGT), Walmart (WMT) and Home Depot (HD)."
"Chip-based cards can use either a PIN or a signature for authentication. So-called chip-and-PIN cards require you to enter a PIN to complete the transaction. Debit cards use this process in the U.S. as do most credit cards issued outside the U.S. If one of these cards is lost or stolen, it's impossible to use without the correct PIN." 10-15
- -New Laws Target Workplace Bullying (Time.com)
"Bosses may abuse because they have impossibly high standards, are insecure or have not been properly socialized. But some simply enjoy it. Recent brain-scan research has shown that bullies are wired differently. When they see a victim in pain, it triggers parts of their brain associated with pleasure." 07-10
- -New York Times Investigation: Al Qaeda Not Involved in Benghazi (Truth-out.org)
"An in-depth New York Times investigation published Saturday sheds new light on questions surrounding the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens."
"Al Qaeda was not involved in the assault. It has become an article of faith for some in the GOP that the Benghazi attack was a highly orchestrated terrorist attack led by the same group that carried out the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. “It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an Al Qaeda-led event,” said Michigan Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in an interview on Fox News in November. But according to the Times report, there is no evidence to support this assertion." 12-13
- -North Korea May Have Mid-Range Nuclear Capability (CNN News)
"South Korea believes its neighbor to the north may be able to mount a nuclear warhead onto a medium-range missile." 04-16
- -Obama's Immigration Executive Order (ABC News)
"The White House said the president's primary focus, in light of limitations on his executive power, is on keeping families united. The biggest group that will benefit is an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and who have children that were born here as American citizens." 11-14
- -Obama: Unprecedented Nuclear Threat (USA Today)
"President Obama formally opened his Nuclear Security Summit today by telling delegates from 46 other nations that 'this is an unprecedented gathering to address an unprecedented threat' -- nuclear terrorism." 04-10
- -Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or "Obamacare" (NCSL)
Provides a copy of the law enacting massive health care reform. 03-12
- -Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Profits Soar (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Insurance companies spent millions of dollars trying to defeat the U.S. health care overhaul, saying it would raise costs and disrupt coverage. Instead, profit margins at the companies widened to levels not seen since before the recession, a Bloomberg Government study shows."
"Insurers led by WellPoint, the biggest by membership, recorded their highest combined quarterly net income of the past decade after the law was signed in 2010, said Peter Gosselin, the study author and senior health care analyst for Bloomberg Government. The Standard & Poor's 500 managed health care index rose 36 percent in the period, four times more than the S&P 500." 01-12
- -Petition to Change Debates to "Oxford" Style (Change.org)
"Today’s debates have been reduced to a string of “gotcha” questions for candidates, which result in personal attacks, uninformative soundbites, rehearsed remarks and scripted rebuttals. They tell voters almost nothing that can’t be gathered from campaign ads. There is no time for depth, no payoff for nuance, no serious discussion of policy."
"For the 2016 general election, the candidates and the nonprofit that oversees the format, the Commission on Presidential Debates, ought to adopt Oxford-style debate, a proven format that would better demonstrate the candidates’ platforms, ideas, and interactions." 07-16
- -Police Fatally Shot 1000 in 2015 (Washington Post)
"In a year-long study, The Washington Post found that the kind of incidents that have ignited protests in many U.S. communities — most often, white police officers killing unarmed black men — represent less than 4 percent of fatal police shootings. Meanwhile, The Post found that the great majority of people who died at the hands of the police fit at least one of three categories: they were wielding weapons, they were suicidal or mentally troubled, or they ran when officers told them to halt." 12-15
- -Pope Francis Calls for Parishes to Shelter Refugees (NBC News)
"The Vatican will shelter two families of refugees who are 'fleeing death' from war or hunger, Pope Francis announced Sunday as he called on Catholic parishes, convents and monasteries across Europe to do the same." 09-15
- -President Obama and Climate Change (RollingStone.com)
"The president has said the right things about climate change – and has taken some positive steps. But we're drilling for more oil and digging up more carbon than ever."
"When the world looks back at the Obama years half a century from now, one doubts they'll remember the health care website; one imagines they'll study how the most powerful government on Earth reacted to the sudden, clear onset of climate change."
In Cushing, Oklahoma last year (2012), President Obama said: " 'Over the last three years, I've directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We're opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We've quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We've added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth, and then some. In fact, the problem is that we're actually producing so much oil and gas that we don't have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it where it needs to go.' " 12-13
- -Quiz: Are You Sexist? (PBS News)
"Overt prejudice against women is hard to miss, but decades of research suggests that subtle sexism can be just as damaging — but often go unnoticed.."
Editor's Note: The quiz is flawed in some ways but may be helpful to convey the concept. 07-16
- -Record Jump in Carbon Emissions (New York Times)
"Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis released Sunday by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers. Scientists with the group said the increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003."
"The increase solidified a trend of ever-rising emissions that scientists fear will make it difficult, if not impossible, to forestall severe climate change in coming decades."
"The combustion of coal represented more than half of the growth in emissions, the report found." 12-11
- -Record-High CO2 Levels a Bad Sign for Climate (ClimateBiz.com)
"CO2 emissions from energy production in 2010 were the highest in history following a recessionary dip the year before, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a stark announcement Monday. Existing and planned power plants mean the bulk of energy-related CO2 emissions projected for 2020 are already 'locked in.' "
"World leaders have agreed to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius or less above pre-industrial levels to prevent catastrophic climate change, which could include heat waves, rising sea levels, extreme weather and droughts, among other impacts."
"We need to keep the concentration of atmospheric GHGs below 450 parts per million in order to achieve this. To put this in perspective, we reached 393 ppm in April. Maintaining an energy pathway to the 450 Scenario would require us to essentially keep emissions levels flat over the next decade." 06-11
- -Repealing Obamacare (MotherJones.com)
"Obamacare bans insurance companies from refusing to cover people with preexisting conditions, which means that if you apply for coverage, they're required to sell it to you at the same price they'd sell it to anyone else. This particular provision of Obamacare clearly doesn't affect the federal budget, so it can't be repealed via reconciliation."
"And that's a big problem for the GOP. More than two-thirds of the country approves of this provision of the law, and Trump has said he wants to keep it. Republicans don't have the votes to repeal it anyway. So what happens if you keep this provision but get rid of everything else?" 12-16
- -Report: Call to Action to Address Freshwater Challenges (Time.com)
"Noting that such [water] shortages will severely undermine the economy, the Foundation also mentions that water use and energy use are intertwined."
"It's clear that the report is meant to spur change in the water-technology sector in the U.S. in a way that will sufficiently address the problem as well as reducing our carbon footprint--the title of the report says it all. Because while water shortages will take a huge toll on the American economy, it's also important to keep in mind how dire climate change and the water situation will be throughout the rest of the world in the next few years." 10-10
- -Report: Carbon Pollution to Grow by 40 Percent (MSNBC News)
"The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide seeping into the atmosphere will increase by nearly 40 percent worldwide by 2030 if ways are not found to require mandatory emission reductions, a U.S. government report said Wednesday."
"The EIA report said that "much of the increases in carbon dioxide emissions is projected to occur among the developing nations" including China and India."
"It said 94 percent of the world's expected increase in industrial energy use between now and 2030 is expected in the economically developing countries, with Brazil, Russia, India and China expected to account for two-thirds of that growth." 05-09
- -Report: Climate Change "Catastrophic" (CNN News)
"More than 300 million people are already seriously affected by the gradual warming of the earth and that number is set to double by 2030, the report from the Global Humanitarian Forum warns."
"The report's startling numbers are based on calculations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the Earth's atmosphere warmed by 0.74 degrees Celsius (1.33 degrees Fahrenheit) from 1906 to 2005, with much of that increase coming in recent decades. The panel predicts that by 2100 temperatures will have increased a minimum of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels regardless of what's agreed in Copenhagen." 05-09
- -Report: Global Warming May Be Twice as Bad as Expected (USA Today)
"Global warming will be twice as severe as previous estimates indicate, according to a new study published this month in the Journal of Climate, a publication of the American Meteorological Society."
"The research, conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), predicts a 90% probability that worldwide surface temperatures will rise more than 9 degrees (F) by 2100, compared to a previous 2003 MIT study that forecast a rise of just over 4 degrees."
"The projections in the MIT study were done using 400 applications of a computer model, which MIT says is the most comprehensive and sophisticated climate model to date."
Editor's Note: See catastrophic climate change. 05-09
- -Report: Protestants No Longer a Majority (ABC News)
"For the first time in its history, the United States does not have a Protestant majority, according to a new study. One reason: The number of Americans with no religious affiliation is on the rise."
"Scholars have long debated whether people who say they no longer belong to a religious group should be considered secular. While the category as defined by Pew researchers includes atheists, it also encompasses majorities of people who say they believe in God, and a notable minority who pray daily or consider themselves 'spiritual' but not 'religious.' Still, Pew found overall that most of the unaffiliated aren't actively seeking another religious home, indicating that their ties with organized religion are permanently broken." 10-12
- -Republican Candidates for President 2016 (Wikipedia.org)
"This article contains evolving lists of candidates associated with the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries for the 2016 United States presidential election." 05-15
- -Republican Counties Have the Most Food Stamps Growth (Bloomberg.com)
"Seventy percent of counties with the fastest-growth in food-stamp aid during the last four years voted for the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by Bloomberg. They include Republican strongholds like King County, Texas, which in 2008 backed Republican John McCain by 92.6 percent, his largest share in the nation; and fast-growing Douglas County, Colorado." 12-12
- -Republican-Led Committee Reports Findings on Benghazi (Time.com)
"Yet another detailed investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, has refuted claims that there was a coverup or that officials didn't do all they could at the time to save the four Americans killed that night."
"The latest findings, released Friday, come from the declassified two-year investigation of the House Intelligence Committee, which conducted an exhaustive probe into the incident, including claims that the White House cooked up phony talking points for then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice." 11-14
- -Romney's Business Income (Vanity Fair)
"The beauty—or savagery—of leverage is that it can magnify any and all cash-flow boosts, such as this one. Take $10 to $40 million squeezed from a pension pot, then use that to create new, rosier financial projections to borrow several times that amount, and then pay yourself a big special dividend from the borrowed funds, many times the size of the pension savings. That is just what Bain Capital did: the same month it converted the pensions, it created new financial projections as a basis to borrow an extra $421 million—from which Bain, its co-investor Goldman Sachs, and top Dade management extracted $365 million in dividends. According to Kosman, 'Bain and Goldman—after putting down only $85 million … made out like bandits—a $280 million profit.' Dade’s debt rose to more than $870 million. Romney had left operational management of Bain that year, though his disclosures show that he owned 16.5 percent of the Bain partnership responsible for the Dade investment until at least 2001."
"Quite soon, however, a fragile Dade faced adverse conditions in the currency markets, and it had to start in effect cannibalizing itself, cutting into the core of its business. It filed for bankruptcy in August 2002 and Bain Capital departed. When Dade emerged from bankruptcy, its new owners invested in long-term R&D, and it flourished again."
"Nor was this an isolated incident: Kosman lists five other 'formerly healthy' companies—Stage Stores, Ampad, GS Technologies, Details, and KB Toys—Bain helped drive into bankruptcy, while making big profits." 07-12
- -Rules for Health Reform Act Issued (NBC News)
"As the 2010 health reform law requires, insurers will no longer be able to dump patients who are starting to cost too much, they won’t be able to charge women more than men, they have to cover anyone who can pay and they’ll have to pay for maternity care, eye exams for kids and for mental health services."
" 'Insurers will not be able to charge someone more just because she is sick or because she used to be sick,' Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters on a conference call."
"The new rules from the Health and Human Services Department cover the new state exchanges, where people will be able to buy health insurance starting in 2014." 11-12
- -Scary New Math on Climate Change (Time.com)
"In the paper, which Time.com confirmed has been peer-reviewed, the authors show that extreme outliers of more than three standard deviations above the mean temperature covered between six and thirteen percent of the globe during the years 2003 to 2008. If they were normally distributed and similar to the climactic record, that should have been just a 0.1-to-0.2 percent frequency of an extreme heat event. (That’s about exactly as often as a perfect bell curve predicts they would occur.) Hansen dubs this difference a 'three-sigma anomaly,' for the Greek-letter symbol for standard deviation. And in the world of statistics, these anomalies represent a stunning 10-fold increase in extreme weather events." 05-12
- -Scientists "See" the Instant After Time Began (Huffington Post)
" 'If verified, the discovery 'gives us a window on the universe at the very beginning,' when it was far less than one-trillionth of a second old, said theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, who was not involved in the work."
" 'It's just amazing,' he said. 'You can see back to the beginning of time.' " 03-14
- -Seven Key Elements of Financial Reform (Time.com)
"President Obama made his pitch for new Wall Street regulation in New York, but it's still unclear if the massively complex legislation would prevent another financial crisis. Here's a look at the seven crucial areas of the bills." 04-10
- -Social Security Surplus Quickly Disappearing (Time.com)
"If you count the $17 billion in income taxes expected to be paid on Social Security benefits, the system will still manage to provide a slight surplus for federal coffers in fiscal 2009. But from 2010 through 2012 there are small projected deficits, and after heading back into the black from 2013 to 2015 the program will become a growing drain on federal finances after that, projects the CBO."
"Back in 1983, when Social Security last faced deficits, Congress approved a set of Social Security reforms that included a graduated hike in the payroll tax and an increase in the retirement age. Thanks to those changes, payroll tax receipts surpassed benefits in 1985, and the system has been operating at a surplus ever since." 04-09
- -Soil for Life (Aljazeera.com)
"Soil is becoming endangered, and this reality needs to be part of our collective awareness in order to feed nine billion people by 2050, say experts meeting in Reykjavík."
" 'Keeping and putting carbon in its rightful place,' needs to be the mantra for humanity if we want to continue to eat, drink and combat global warming, concluded 200 researchers from more than 30 countries."
"In the past 40 years, 30 percent of the planet's arable (food-producing) land has become unproductive due to erosion. Unless this trend is reversed soon, feeding the world's growing population will be impossible." 06-13
- -Starving Girl Survives in Sudan (CBS News)
"Nyajima was wearing a pretty little golden patterned dress, but it couldn't hide her long, emaciated arms and legs. She looked like a tiny bag of broken twigs."
"As a father I could not help but feel terrible anger and frustration that a child in 2015 could be in such a terrible condition."
"I returned about every other day to Nyajima's bedside in the hope that I would be documenting the recovery of a brave little girl. I was not disappointed." 11-15
- -State Department Changes Visa Policy (CNN News)
"The State Department on Thursday is directing its embassies around the world to include information on whether a person has a U.S. visa when they send special cables to Washington containing information on potentially suspect individuals, CNN has learned."
"The order comes in the wake of a failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner. The change was prompted by preliminary reviews ordered by President Obama of the terror attack." 12-09
- -Stimulus Funds: Where They Are Going (CNN News)
"Businesses receiving federal contracts under President Barack Obama's economic stimulus program reported creating or saving more than 30,000 jobs in the first months of the program, according to data released Thursday by a government oversight board. "
"The numbers, based on jobs linked to less than $16 billion in federal contracts, represent just a sliver of the $787 billion stimulus package. But they offer the first hard data on the early effects of the program." 01-10
- -Study Surprise: Most Agree on Ideal Wealth Distribution (Time.com)
"It’s a fairly revealing set of results. Despite all the talk about a divided America and class warfare, there is a remarkable level of consensus about the ideal wealth distribution across the political spectrum and income levels. The preferred wealth distributions of Bush and Kerry voters were only trivially different—in the direction you would expect—as were the preferences of those making less than $50,000 and those making more than $100,000. For all the alleged discord in this country, there’s an amazing amount of real agreement on what 'a better America' would look like."
"To be sure, liberals and conservatives often have very different ideas about how that ideal distribution should be achieved. But much of the prattle about class warfare these days comes not from mainstream Americans, but rather from those folks who have the most to gain from pointing out differences even when they may not exist: politicians and the media who cover them." 03-12
- -Study: After $75,000, Wealth Does Not Increase Happiness (Time.com)
"People say money doesn't buy happiness. Except, according to a new study from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, it sort of does — up to about $75,000 a year. The lower a person's income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. But no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don't report any greater degree of happiness." 09-10
- -Study: Arguing with Mom Helps Fend Off Peer Pressure (Time.com)
"New research shows that adolescents who quickly backed down during an argument with their mother had a harder time resisting peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol than teens who were able to calmly, persuasively, and persistently argue their point with Mom."
" 'The key quality that appears to link household arguing and resisting peer pressure is a child’s 'ability to persuade and be assertive through calm reasoning,' rather than resorting to whining or yelling, Chango says. 'We found over and over again that the right kinds of arguments are linked to better outcomes for teens.' " 12-11
- -Study: Carbon Dioxide Increase Caused the End of the Last Ice Age (U.S. News)
"A team of climate experts say they've solved the chicken-or-egg question—Which came first? Carbon dioxide or temperature increases?—surrounding the global warming debate for years: Around 10,000 years ago, increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere caused the end of the last Ice Age."
"Scientists have known for decades that an increased level of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere accompanied higher global temperatures, but no one was able to prove that the gas increases came before higher temperatures." 04-12
- -Study: Free Contraceptives Dramatically Reduce Abortion Rate (NBC News)
"When more than 9,000 women ages 14 to 45 in the St. Louis area were given no-cost contraception for three years, abortion rates dropped from two-thirds to three-quarters lower than the national rate, according to a new report by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers." 10-12
- -Study: Global Warming Is Irreversible (TruthOut.org)
"As carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, the world will experience more and more long-term environmental disruption. The damage will persist even when, and if, emissions are brought under control, says study author Susan Solomon, who is among the world's top climate scientists." 01-09
- -Study: Human-Caused Climate Change Different from Natural (Christian Science Monitor)
"Researchers calculate that global warming has made heat waves in Texas... about 20 times more likely to happen during a La Niña year. La Niñas occur when the difference in temperature between the cooler water in the eastern tropical Pacific and the warmer water in the west intensifies."
"Some trends in extreme precipitation already appear to be emerging. Since the 1950s, more regions of the globe appear to have experienced an increase in extreme precipitation events than have shown a decline – with the most solid evidence coming from North America, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." 01-13
- -Study: Politics Predict Belief in Climate Science (Grist.org)
"The paper’s authors describe their work as 'the first meta-analytic examination of the demographic and psychological correlates of belief in climate change.' "
"It breaks down this way: People who vote for liberal political parties are more likely to believe that climate change is a real thing that we should do something about. People who vote for conservative political parties tend to think that climate change is total hooey. Political affiliation correlated with belief in climate change twice as strongly as any other demographic variable the study examined."
"They also found that even people who believed in climate change grew skittish when talk turned to specific policies to mitigate it."Actually getting things done could focus less on winning hearts and minds, more on working with people’s existing ideologies, rather than against them. As the study puts it, 'Pro-environmental action could be sold as patriotism, ending oil dependence, or investing in "green" technologies.' ”
"Science is what helped people understand that climate change was happening in the first place — but actually persuading people to do something about it will be politics all the way." 02-16
- -Study: Racial Resentment Behind Tea Party and Trump Campaigns (Bradblog.com)
"McElwee explains how his study controlled 'for race, ethnicity, partisanship, ideology, income, education, gender, religiosity' and that 'once you compare the various strengths of these variables, the one that ends up becoming really the overwhelming predictor of Tea Party identification is racial resentment.' "
" 'From the beginning,' of the movement, he tells me, 'what you're seeing is this sort of racially-coded rhetoric. So, right from the beginning, you have a very great explanation of conservative politics of the last 30 years --- which is plutocratic policies being wrapped up in racist rhetoric in order to benefit a plutocratic agenda. And you have a lot of white middle class and working class people who have bought into that agenda.' "
"And if someone tells you your life is bad because 'immigrants are taking your jobs', or 'the government is helping black people with your tax dollars', people are susceptible to that message."
"McElwee goes on to explain how his research finds that many who previously identified with the Tea Party have now folded into the Trump campaign, even though the Republican 2016 front-runner has called for massive government programs and increased spending --- things that Tea Partiers previously decried." 02-16
- -Study: Some Fracking for Gas Can a Pose Long-Term Risk for Water Sources (Truth-Out.org)
"A recent study has found that, under certain conditions, the chemical-laced water used in hydraulic fracturing can migrate through fractures and faults up to overlying aquifers in as little as tens of years."
"The study, done by hydrogeologist Dr. Tom Myers and published in the peer-reviewed Ground Water, raises renewed questions about the potential for hydraulic fracturing to fundamentally alter shale rock formations and the hydrogeologic cycle in ways that could affect freshwater drinking supplies." 11-12
- -Study: Stimulus Money Kept Americans Off the Streets (CNN News)
"Federal aid helped many cash-strapped Americans keep a roof over their heads during the prolonged economic slump, but the number of people living a step away from the streets has grown sharply, researchers reported Wednesday." 01-12
- -Study: Switch from Coal to Natural Gas Questioned (ScienceMag.org)
"Natural gas (NG) is a potential 'bridge fuel' during transition to a decarbonized energy system: It emits less carbon dioxide during combustion than other fossil fuels and can be used in many industries. However, because of the high global warming potential of methane (CH4, the major component of NG), climate benefits from NG use depend on system leakage rates. Some recent estimates of leakage have challenged the benefits of switching from coal to NG, a large near-term greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction opportunity (1–3). Also, global atmospheric CH4 concentrations are on the rise, with the causes still poorly understood (4)." 02-14
- -Study: The Sun's Natural Cycles Have Not Caused Global Warming (PCMag.com)
"A new study released by NASA provides further evidence that greenhouse gases are the main driving force behind global warming."
" 'The fact that we still see a positive imbalance despite the prolonged solar minimum isn't a surprise given what we've learned about the climate system,' explained James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. 'But it's worth noting because this provides unequivocal evidence that the sun is not the dominant driver of global warming,' " 09-12
- -Study: Wealth and Compassion (Time.com)
"Are the rich really the unfeeling boors they're made out to be? Studies suggest that the richer people are, the less compassion they show." 01-06
- -Study: What Makes a Terrorist? (New York Times)
"Most researchers agree that justification for extremist action, whether through religious or secular doctrine, is either developed or greatly intensified by group dynamics."
"Counterterrorism rhetoric like former President George W. Bush’s description of a planned tactic against Al Qaeda — 'to smoke them out and get them running and bring them to justice' — often serves to unify the group. So do invasions and escalations of campaigns against them, which can draw more sympathizers to the group. Most terrorist groups crumble quickly because of internal strife, many experts say."
"Arie W. Kruglanski, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park, who has studied videotapes of suicide bombers’ final words and interviews with their mothers, argues that the overarching motivation of suicide bombers is the quest for personal significance, the desperate longing for a meaningful life that appears only to come with death."
"Recruits are often promised an exciting, glamorous adventure and a chance to change the world. But what they often find, Dr. Horgan said, is that the groups they join are rife with jealousies and personal competition." 01-10
- -Study: Why There Is Lack of Empathy Between Republicans and Democrats (Time.com)
In an experiment related to thirst, researchers found that "people’s own thirst had no effect on their consideration for the hiker’s water needs, if the hiker was labeled as a political enemy."
"The finding is disheartening because it suggests that our prejudices affect the processing of our emotions on a deep and completely unconscious level. The authors write:"
"These consequences suggest a surprising limitation in our capacity to empathize with people we disagree with or differ from… Firsthand painful experiences apparently do not translate into appreciating similar pain felt by dissimilar others."
"This sad conclusion may help explain, at least in part, why politicians continue to talk past each other and fail to cooperate, even where there are obvious areas of agreement." 04-12
- -Summary of What is NOT in the Affordable Health Care Act (Politifact.com)
"Most of what the e-mail says is wrong. In fact, it's a clearinghouse of bad information circulating around the Web about proposed health care changes, so we thought it would be helpful to address a bunch of its claims." 07-12
- -Summary of the Affordable Health Care Act (CBS News)
Provides a summary of the Affordable Health Care Act. 03-12
- -Summary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)
Provides an analysis and summary. "The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit private operating foundation, based in Menlo Park, California, dedicated to producing and communicating the best possible analysis and information on health issues." 07-12
- -Super-Rich Hiding $21 Trillion in Tax Havens? (BBC News)
"A global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion (£13tn) hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study."
"The figure is equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined."
"The Price of Offshore Revisited was written by James Henry, a former chief economist at the consultancy McKinsey, for the Tax Justice Network."
"Mr Henry used data from the Bank of International Settlements, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and national governments." 07-12
- -Supreme Court Blocked Rule to Reduce Carbon Dioxide (ABC News)
"For the long-suffering communities that depend on coal, last week's Supreme Court ruling was seen as a rare victory. The justices ruled 5-4 Tuesday to freeze the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to reduce the nation's carbon-dioxide emissions 32 percent by 2030 while legal challenges against the regulations are pending." 02-16
- -Supreme Court Expands Gun Rights (Time.com)
"McDonald v. Chicago, which was split 5-4 along party lines, expanded the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to individuals in states and cities. It's a victory for gun rights advocates, who fought against local and state controls on firearms. It's a major blow to the city of Chicago, which had banned handguns for the past 28 years in one of the country's strictest gun policies. Now the city's policy will be reviewed and likely overturned." 06-10
- -Supreme Court Rolls Back the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Time.com)
"By a slim 5-vote majority, the justices struck down a provision that requires certain jurisdictions, mostly counties in the South, to receive permission from the federal government before changing any law related to voting." 06-13
- -Supreme Court Rules Against the EPA (MSNBC News)
"In a loss for the Obama administration, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled 5-4 against a cap on toxic power plant emissions."
"Had the decision been in favor of EPA regulations, it would have forced the industry to install high-tech scrubbers to remove mercury, arsenic and other pollutants, which disproportionately fall to earth in poorer neighborhoods. They enter the body as food from tainted waterways or are simply ingested with each unavoidable breath. They are particularly dangerous for children and unborn babies, but everyone exposed suffers." 06-15
- -Supreme Court Rules for Independent Commissions on Redistricting (MSNBC News)
"The Supreme Court ruled Monday that an independent commission created by Arizona voters to draw congressional and state legislative districts is constitutional. If the court had struck down AZ’s commission, it would have made it much harder for states to find ways to stop partisan lawmakers from drawing districts in a way that benefits their party." 06-15
- -Supreme Court Rules for Same-Sex Marriage (ABC News)
"In a historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that gay and lesbian couples across the country have a constitutional right to marry." 06-15
- -Supreme Court Strikes Down the Defense of Marriage Act (CNN News)
"In a dramatic slap at congressional authority, a divided Supreme Court has struck down a key part of a law that denies to legally married same-sex couples the same federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses."
"The case examined whether the federal government can deny tax, health and pension benefits to same-sex couples in states where they can legally marry. At issue was whether DOMA violates equal protection guarantees in the Fifth Amendment's due process clause as applied to same-sex couples legally married under the laws of their states."
"Kennedy in his opinion used sweeping language to affirm the rights of gays and lesbians."
" 'For same-sex couples who wished to be married, the state (of New York) acted to give their lawful conduct a lawful status. This status is a far-reaching legal acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between two people, a relationship deemed by the state worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages,' he said. 'DOMA seeks to injure the very class New York seeks to protect.' " 06-13
- -Surprising Unemployment Facts (CNN News)
"With 8.2% unemployment, here's something that will likely surprise you about America's job market:"
"Companies say they've had 3 million job openings every month since February - this according to the Labor Department."
"But employers say they're having trouble filling these positions because they can't find skilled workers to do the jobs." 07-12
- -Taxing the Wealthy (Christian Science Monitor)
"In the history of taxation, the wealthy have always paid a higher rate. But rates have swung wildly over time. Economists studying past rate changes have had trouble identifying clear effects."
"Perhaps the best analog to Obama's plan is the 1993 tax hike under President Clinton. Congress raised rates to the same levels Obama is proposing for Americans making at least $250,000 a year. An economic boom followed Mr. Clinton's move."
"That doesn't mean, however, that the two were necessarily related, says Joel Slemrod, an economist at the University of Michigan and the former editor of the National Tax Journal."
" '[Obama's] proposal is to move back to top rates [that] the country had not that long ago, and it's hard to find evidence that they had a noticeable deleterious effect on the economy,' Professor Slemrod says. 'Having those tax rates then and knowing the economy did well doesn't prove what the role of tax rates was. It could be true that performance would have been even better without them.' " 04-09
- -Tea Party Dilemma on Racism (Time.com)
"Since its inception, the Tea Party movement has struggled to shed the perception that its members' dislike of Obama is fueled by racism." 07-10
- -Ten Habits of Successful People (Time.com)
"Being remarkably charismatic isn't about our level of success or our presentation skills or how we dress or the image we project--it's about what we do." 07-12
- -Ten Largest Environmental Accidents (Time.com)
"As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows little sign of abating, TIME takes a look back at history's greatest environmental tragedies." 06-10
- -Texas Is Still Building Coal-Fired Plants (Texas Tribune.org)
"So what if coal, the dirtiest of the fossil fuels, faces tightening air-pollution standards from federal regulators? Texas — probably more than any other state — is aggressively building new coal plants."
"Texas, which consumes far more coal power than any other state, already has 19 operating coal-fired power plants, the majority of which are in East Texas. (Some plants, including the proposed Las Brisas facility, burn petroleum coke, a refinery byproduct that is similar to coal.)" 07-13
- -The $55 Trillion Question (CNN News - Fortune)
"In just over a decade these privately traded derivatives contracts [of "credit default swaps" or CDS] ballooned from nothing into a $54.6 trillion market. CDS are the fastest-growing major type of financial derivatives. More important, they've played a critical role in the unfolding financial crisis. First, by ostensibly providing 'insurance' on risky mortgage bonds, they encouraged and enabled reckless behavior during the housing bubble." 10-08
- -The 25 People to Blame for the Financial Meltdown (Time.com)
"The good intentions, bad managers and greed behind the meltdown." 04-10
- -The Complex Issue of Women's Unemployment Now (Time.com)
"April's numbers show that women gained 73% of the 115,000 new jobs added to the U.S. economy. Looks like we have a winner."
"Or do we? The figures would seem to be welcome news for the Obama Administration, which has been battling accusations by Republican challenger Mitt Romney that the President's economic policies have hurt women. Yet since the recovery began in June 2009, women have gained only 16% of the new jobs created."
"Budget cuts at the federal, state and local levels of government--cuts that are at the core of the GOP's smaller-government mantra--amount to 601,000 lost public-sector jobs since June 2009. And two-thirds of those jobs were held by women." 05-12
- -The Difference Between Global Warming of 1.5 and 2.0 Degrees (e360.Yale.edu)
"By some estimates, curbing warming at 1.5 degrees could be sufficient to prevent the formation of an ice-free Arctic in summer, to save the Amazon rainforest, and to prevent the Siberian tundra from melting and releasing planet-warming methane from its frozen depths. It could also save many coastal regions and islands from permanent inundation by rising sea levels, particularly in the longer run." 07-16
- -The EPA Declares CO2 in the Air a Danger (Time.com)
"The Environmental Protection Agency took a major step Monday toward regulating greenhouses gases, concluding that climate changing pollution threatens the public health and the environment." 12-09
- -The Global Water Crisis (Christian Science Monitor)
"The global water crisis – caused by drought, flood, and climate change – is less about supply than it is about recognizing water's true value, using it efficiently, and planning for a different future, say experts."
"If renewable water supplies – rainfall in lakes, streams, and rivers – are like an annually replenished checking account, then ground water and deep aquifers are the savings. A few thousand years ago, when civilizations first branched out from rivers, they populated areas where they could draw from that savings in the form of ground water 20 to 30 feet below the surface. Globally, this was the norm until the 1950s, when fossil fuel energy became widely available to allow pumping water from ever-deeper depths. Ever since, humanity has increasingly lived beyond the margins of its renewable water supply."
"In ancient fossil aquifers – in the Great Plains of the United States, the North China Plain, or Saudi Arabia – water levels are not recharged by rainfall. Elsewhere, as in northern India, ground water is used faster than it can be replenished. According to the United Nations, ground-water extraction globally has tripled in the past 50 years, during which time India and China's ground-water use has risen 10-fold." 12-12
- -The LIBOR Scandal Is Bad (Time.com)
"When the LIBOR interest-rate fixing scandal broke wide open over the summer, I asked whether it was 'The Crime of the Century.' The answer to that question relied on whether banks were understating their LIBOR submissions in order to appear stable at the height of the financial crisis, or whether LIBOR manipulation was a more widespread phenomenon involving collusion across financial institutions in order to profit off of derivative trades."
"With the announcement yesterday of a $1.5 billion dollar fine, paid to regulators in the U.S., U.K., and Switzerland, against Swiss bank UBS., we have our answer." 12-12
- -The Most Deadly Infectious Disease (CBS News)
"Hepatitis C now kills more people in the United States than every other infectious disease combined, according to new government data."
"The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that deaths associated with hepatitis C reached an all-time high of 19,659 in 2014, surpassing the total combined number of deaths from 60 other infectious diseases reported to CDC, including HIV, pneumococcal disease, and tuberculosis."
" 'This is a very alarming trend,' Dr. John W. Ward, director of CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis, told CBS News."
"Approximately 3.5 million Americans are currently living with hepatitis C and about half are unaware of their infection." 05-16
- -The Myth of a "Surgical Strike" Against Iran's Nuclear Program (Time.com)
"At a 20% release, the IDLH plume will travel 9 miles covering 41 square miles and could expose some of the 352,000 residents, mainly in districts 13, 4, and 6, as well as residents in the region north of district 4. If we assume a conservative casualty rate of 5 to 20% among these populations, we can expect casualties in the range of 12,000-70,000 people."
"The environmental degradation due to the spread of airborne uranium compounds, and their entry into water, soil and the food chain, would likely introduce long-term, chronic health risks, including spikes in cancer rates and birth defects."
"Not only that: an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites could prove contagious. “An attack on the Bushehr nuclear power plant would pose a grave environmental and economic threat to civilians in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Saudi Arabia,” the report said. “It would not only devastate the important business centers and fishing communities of the Persian Gulf, but also contaminate desalination plants, port facilities and oil fields.” 10-12
- -The Obama Legacy (Time.com)
"Obama’s new administration went immediately to work on the largest economic-stimulus bill ever enacted by Congress-about $800 billion. Much of the money went to tax relief, unemployment insurance and other direct infusions of cash into the pockets of Americans who would, in tum, the administration hoped, spend or invest it. But the new president also seized the chance to pump billions into priorities that would normally struggle to receive much smaller sums. The stimulus bill was packed with record spending on renewable energy, a modern electrical grid, computerization of health-care records, high-speed rail, and new bridges and roads. Obama also directed billions to basic scientific research, hoping to sow seeds of discovery that would yield the next wave of American innovation." 12-16
- -The Resource Shortage Is Real (Time.com)
"Put simply, the world’s dwindling supplies of arable land, fresh water, energy and minerals — essential for the production of food and 'white goods' such as mobile phones, cars, televisions and washing machines — cannot meet rising global demand."
"Commodity demand is being driven by three key factors: the rising world population, expected to grow from roughly 7 billion today to 9 billion by 2050; increasing global wealth, with an estimated additional 3 billion people expected to join the ranks of middle class by 2030; and a marked trend toward urbanisation."
"On the supply side, however, arable land, potable water, energy and minerals are finite, scarce and rapidly depleting. Take land — the earth contains approximately 13 billion hectares of land, or an area about sixteen times the size of the United States. Of that, just 11% (or 1.4 billion hectares) is arable, and thus suitable to grow crops."
"Then there is water. Although the earth is 70% water, less than one percent is easily accessible fresh water that can be used for the sustenance of life, such as drinking and sanitation."
"These risks remain particularly high as an explicit global framework that defines and manages competing resource interests and explores strategies for cooperation does not exist." 06-12
- -The Supreme Court's Logic for Upholding the Affordable Care Act (TheDailyBeast.com)
"In accepting the tax argument, the court relied on the 'well-established' principle that 'if a statute has two possible meanings, one of which violates the Constitution, courts should adopt the meaning that does not do so.' "
"The court then noted that the government’s argument—that the mandate represented a tax on people who choose not to buy health insurance—'makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.' "
"In deciding to accept the government’s tax argument, the court wrote that 'the question is not whether that is the most natural interpretation of the mandate, but only whether it is a ‘fairly possible’ one." 07-12
- -Time's Most Influential People of 2012 (Time.com)
"They are the people who inspire us, entertain us, challenge us and change our world. Meet the breakouts, pioneers, moguls, leaders and icons who make up this year's TIME 100." 05-12
- -Timeline for the Affordable Health Care Act (HealthCare.gov)
"View items by selecting blocks on the timeline, or click the arrows. You can also see all of the timeline items on one page in printable format. Read the Affordable Care Act in full or browse it section by section." 07-12
- -Top Al Qaeda Leaders Killed by Obama Teams (ABC News)
"The list of senior terrorists killed during the Obama presidency is fairly extensive."
"There’s Osama bin Laden, of course, killed in May." 02-12
- -Top U.S. Companies Pay to Discredit Climate Change Facts (The Guardian)
"An analysis of 28 Standard & Poor 500 publicly traded companies by researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists exposed a sharp disconnect in some cases between PR message and less visible activities, with companies quietly lobbying against climate policy or funding groups which work to discredit climate science."
"Peabody Energy Corporation, which produces coal, was ranked the most obstructionist of any of the companies. It spent more than $33m to lobby Congress against environmental measures and supporting trade groups and think tanks which spread disinformation about climate science, the researchers found." 05-12
- -Torture Report: 6 Findings (Christian Science Monitor)
"The Senate report takes great issue with claims that the intelligence gleaned from enhanced interrogation techniques helped to save US lives. Again and again, the report found that when subjected to these torture techniques, CIA detainees said whatever their captors wanted to hear. This meant faulty intelligence and wasted time for US intelligence officers tracking down false leads." 12-14
- -Trump Admits Obama Born in the U. S. (CNN News)
"Donald Trump finally admitted Friday that 'President Barack Obama was born in the United States,' reversing himself on the issue that propelled him into national politics five years ago."
"Trump sought to end his longstanding attempt to discredit the nation's first African-American president with just a few sentences tacked on at the end as he unveiled his new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington."
"But the issue isn't likely to die down any time soon -- especially as Trump continues to falsely blame Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for starting the 'birtherism' controversy. Clinton said earlier Friday that Trump's acknowledgment of Obama's birthplace doesn't go far enough and that he must also apologize." 09-16
- -Trump Campaign Chief's Name on Ukraine Secret List (CBS News)
"Nazar Kholodnytski is Ukraine’s new anti-corruption prosecutor, leading the investigation into the secret, handwritten ledger showing $5 billion in undisclosed cash payments that were allegedly handed out by the party of former President Viktor Yanukovych."
"The prosecutor confirmed that Manafort’s name appears 12 times, for 22 different entries, totaling $12.7 million between 2007 and 2012."
"Manafort has denied receiving any cash payments." 08-16
- -U.S. Has 3 Times More Oil Than Consumed in History (ABC News)
"Drillers in Utah and Colorado are poking into a massive shale deposit trying to find a way to unlock oil reserves that are so vast they would swamp OPEC."
"Both the GAO and private industry estimate the amount of oil recoverable to be 3 trillion barrels."
" "In the past 100 years — in all of human history -- we have consumed 1 trillion barrels of oil. There are several times that much here,' said Roger Day, vice president for operations for American Shale Oil (AMSO)." 11-12
- -U.S. May Become the World's Top Oil Producer (CBS News)
"U.S. oil output is surging so fast that the U.S. could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest producer."
"Driven by high prices and new drilling methods, U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to rise 7 percent this year to an average of 10.9 million barrels per day. This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951." 10-12
- -U.S. Oil Production Booms (Time.com)
"That’s the net amount of petroleum products that the U.S. exported in 2011, marking the first time since 1949 that the country exported more petroleum products than it imported, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Imports fell to 2.4 million barrels per day (bpd)—the lowest level in 11 years—while exports rose to 2.9 million bpd, largely on the back of strong global demand for diesel fuel. (Diesel has a larger profit margin than gasoline—attractive to refiners—and is used in much greater levels by European countries, where cars as well as trucks often run on diesel.) But this doesn’t mean the U.S. is anywhere near close to being energy independent, at least when it comes to crude oil. The U.S. imported $331.6 billion worth of crude oil in 2011—by far the largest U.S. import of any good. Thanks in part to rising oil prices, that represented a 32% increase from 2010. Translation: while the growth of the U.S. petroleum industry is good for oil companies, the people who work for them and the overall U.S. trade deficit, it’s not likely to relieve the pain at the pump. Trying buying a hybrid instead." 03-12
- -U.S. Oil Production Is Booming (MySanAntonio.com)
"Government projections show domestic oil production will grow by 1 million barrels per day by 2020, though some say those estimates are too conservative. Still, that growth combined with increased use of biofuels and more fuel-efficient cars, will significantly cut the nation’s need for oil imports."
br>"The United States' rapidly declining crude oil supply has made a stunning about-face, shredding federal projections and putting energy independence in sight of some analyst forecasts."
br>"After declining to levels not seen since the 1940s, U.S. crude production began rising again in 2009. Drilling rigs have rushed into the nation's oil fields, suggesting that a surge in domestic crude is on the horizon." 02-12
- -U.S. to Become the Largest Oil Producer (CNN News)
"The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world's biggest oil producer before 2020, and will be energy independent 10 years later, according to a new forecast by the International Energy Agency." 11-12
- -Volkswagen Diesel Scandal by the Numbers (Time.com)
"$18 billion Possible total penalties faced by Volkswagen, and that figure doesn’t include fixing the recalled cars."
"40 Times over the legal limit of certain types of pollution emitted by the vehicles, including nitrogen oxide—which can cause respiratory problems." 09-15
- -Volkswagen's Cheating Caused 1 Million Extra Tons of Nitrogen Oxide Emissions (Time.com)
"Volkswagen’s diesel engines, which cheated emissions tests in the United States, and in Europe too, released nearly 1 million extra metric tons of nitrogen oxide emissions every year, according to an analysis by The Guardian newspaper. That’s equivalent to the emissions of all power stations, vehicles, industry, and agriculture in the United Kingdom over a one-year period." 09-15
- -Voluntary Emission Caps Not Enough to Avert Catastrophe (Truth-Out.org)
"In preparation for COP21, the nations of the world were asked to each provide their voluntary emission caps. They fell short. Voluntary proposals are insufficient to avert catastrophic climate change. We are rapidly approaching a precipice, since there are irreversible changes - for example, the melting of Greenland and of the polar caps - that occur once we exceed 2 [degree] Celsius increase in temperature and cannot be reversed for centuries since, once emitted, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. This catastrophic scenario will happen now unless we actually remove existing carbon from the atmosphere. Mandatory emissions [limits] are critical, yet the US continues to be strongly opposed to this approach." 11-15
- -Warmest Year on Record: 2012 (CBS News)
"They've never seen anything like it: Government scientists said Tuesday they're surprised by a jump in temperature that made 2012 the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states. Changes in temperature usually come in tiny fractions of a degree. But the average for 2012 -- 55.3 degrees -- beat the 1998 record, by one full degree." 01-13
- -Ways to Raise Your Credit Card Score (Time.com)
"Your payment history makes up 35 percent of your score, so this is crucial." 07-11
- -We Are Not Doing What Is Necessary to Avoid Climate Change (Time.com)
"But there is one number that may not get discussed much at Copenhagen, even though it is as important as all the others: $10.5 trillion. That is the additional investment needed between now and 2030 to set the world on the path to low-carbon development, according to the International Energy Agency — a number that is far above the pittance the world currently spends on clean-energy research and development. As Jesse Jenkins and Devon Swezey of the think tank Breakthrough Institute wrote on Dec. 7, 'Without measurable progress that dramatically increases global investments in clean energy, we can forget stabilizing global temperatures or atmospheric carbon dioxide at any level.' "
"Beyond the policy wars in the halls of U.N. summits and on Capitol Hill, the battle against climate change requires better and cheaper forms of alternative energy, which will need to be deployed fast. Unfortunately, they don't exist."
Editor's Note: Fortunately, the last statement is incorrect. Decaying organic waste puts 8 times more CO2 into the air each year than human activity. The answer for now is not high-tech alternative energy, recycling, or energy efficiency. The way to reverse the amount of CO2 in the air quickly is to biochar instead of burning forest and agricultural waste. In addition, we need to convert coal-fired power plants to burning biomass. These two actions, undertaken globally, can save our climate from a catastrophe. 12-09
- -What Experts Think of Trump's Foreign Policy Statements (CBS News)
"As Donald Trump continues to amass delegates in primary contests, the Republican front-runner's remarks on foreign policy have caused some consternation among national security experts -- liberal and conservative alike."
"On Wednesday, over 100 Republican national security scholars and policymakers published an open letter calling Trump's foreign policy vision 'wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle' and denounced his 'hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric,' position on trade and international alliances, plans for a wall on the Mexican border, and calls to expand the use of torture."
"On Friday, 45 scholars of civil-military relations published a second open letter calling Trump's pledge to order the U.S. military to target the families of terrorists illegal." 03-16
- -What Foreign Leaders Think of Trump (CBS News)
"While most governments have been careful to voice their concerns only behind closed doors, others, including some of America's closest allies, have been less coy." 03-16
- -What Happened When California Released 30,000 Prisoners (Time.com)
"One study from Stanford Law School looked at the more than 1,600 prisoners released in California early under a reform of the state’s 'Three Strikes Law.' Only 1.3% of prisoners released early under that reform would up back in prison, compared with more than 30% of other prisoners." 10-15
- -What We Can Learn from Politically Divided Couples (CNN News)
"For many, political loyalties can make or break a relationship. But couples who have learned to successfully weather political partisanship could teach us all a thing or two about relationships in general, said etiquette expert Anna Post." 10-12
- -What We Know about the Impacts of Climate Change (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
"As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do or must believe about the rising threat of climate change. But we consider it to be our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risk and cost of taking action." 03-14
- -What to Do About the Drought in the Southwest? (Time.com)
"By mid-April 61% of the lower 48 states were listed by the U.S. Drought Monitor as being in abnormally dry or drought conditions. Already wildfires are sweeping across New Mexico. The West is set to burn this summer, once again."
"But what's really scary is what long-term changes in water availability and water use could mean for our ability to feed ourselves. That's the subject of a new paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which researchers from the University of Texas and the U.S. Geological Survey looked at the level of groundwater depletion in the Central Valley and in the High Plains of the Midwest, home to the country's breadbasket. They found that during a recent intense drought between 2007 and 2009, farmers in the southern half of California's Central Valley depleted enough groundwater to fill all of Lake Mead — a rate of depletion that is utterly unsustainable." 05-12
- -When Social Security and Medicare Will Run Out of Money (USA Today)
"Social Security benefits will now run out in 2033, said its trustees in an annual report released today."
"The Medicare fund for seniors' health care is scheduled to run dry in 2024, which is unchanged from last year, largely because of a 2 percentage point cut enacted by Congress last year." 04-12
- -Where We Are Now on Climate Change (Truth-out.org)
"Climate measurements continue to become both more precise and more reliable - and thus, more terrifying. A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which combines the work of 2,000 scientists from 154 countries, drawing from millions of observations from more than 9,000 scientific publications, confirms and strengthens previous predictions and adds one new and very important observation. Even 100 percent emissions reductions will no longer keep our climate from changing dangerously."
"The brave new proclamation in the new IPCC report was saved as the next to the last statement of fact in the SPM : 'A large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from CO2 emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale, except in the case of a large net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere over a sustained period.' A large 'net' removal . . . this means greater than 100 percent annual emissions reductions . . . In other words, we have to take more out than we are putting in every year. We must begin to remove some of the long-lived carbon pollution that we have already placed in our skies. (SPM, E.8, Page 20)"
"Over the past six or eight hundred thousand years, our climate has almost always changed in radical jumps from one mode to another. In the last 110,000 years, Greenland ice cores show 23 of these events where the average global temperature jumped 9 to 14 degrees globally in time frames of as little as a few decades to as short as a few years." 12-13
- -White House OKs Indefinite Military Detention (CBS News)
"The White House is signing off on a controversial new law that would authorize the U.S. military to arrest and indefinitely detain alleged al Qaeda members or other terrorist operatives captured on American soil."
"While the bill never expanded the authority to detain American citizens indefinitely without charges, proponents said the legislation would codify court decisions finding the President does have the authority to declare 'enemy combatants,' as commander-in-chief and under the post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force against al Qaeda and its allies."
" 'By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law,' said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. 'In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.' " 12-11
- -Who Should Pay More in Taxes (Time.com)
"Perhaps the affluent should pay more income tax, but the middle class will end up footing most of the bill – because that's where the real money is." 10-12
- -Why Powerful People Overestimate Themselves (Time.com)
" 'By producing an illusion of personal control,' the authors write, 'power may cause people to lose touch with reality in ways that lead to overconfident decision-making.' " 03-09
- -Why Verizon Is Ending Unlimited Data Plans (Time.com)
"Starting July 7, you’ll no longer be able to purchase an unlimited data plan through Verizon, which is moving instead to a 'usage-based' model.' "
"If you’re an existing Verizon customer, it looks like you will be able to hang on to your unlimited data plan – for now. The new usage plans, which will go into effect July 7, will apply to new customers so you should be able to get in under the wire if you signed up soon." 12-11
- -Why the Supreme Court Should Be the Biggest Issue of the 2016 Campaigns (Washington Post)
"Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, there is probably no single issue you ought to be more concerned about in the 2016 campaign than what the court will look like after the next president gets the opportunity to make an appointment or two. The implications are enormous. It’s not too early to start considering them." 11-14
- -Why the U.S. Leads in Health Expenditures (New York Times)
"Americans pay, on average, about four times as much for a hip replacement as patients in Switzerland or France and more than three times as much for a Caesarean section as those in New Zealand or Britain. The average price for Nasonex, a common nasal spray for allergies, is $108 in the United States compared with $21 in Spain. The costs of hospital stays here are about triple those in other developed countries, even though they last no longer, according to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that studies health policy."
"Colonoscopies offer a compelling case study. They are the most expensive screening test that healthy Americans routinely undergo — and often cost more than childbirth or an appendectomy in most other developed countries. Their numbers have increased manyfold over the last 15 years, with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting that more than 10 million people get them each year, adding up to more than $10 billion in annual costs."
"While several cheaper and less invasive tests to screen for colon cancer are recommended as equally effective by the federal government’s expert panel on preventive care — and are commonly used in other countries — colonoscopy has become the go-to procedure in the United States. 'We’ve defaulted to by far the most expensive option, without much if any data to support it,' said Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice." 06-13
- -Writing a Letter to the Editor (Chicago Tribune)
"The maximum length for a letter is 400 words, but a clever writer understands how to make the point and increases the chances of being printed with a lot fewer words." 07-07
- -Your Share of State Debt by State (CNN News)
"States are taking on more debt. Here’s your state’s burden per capita." 07-10
- 08-22-11 Best Places to Live (CNN News)
CNN News provides its choices for best places to live. 08-11
- 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis (Time.com)
"In the wake of the housing bust, which toppled Countrywide and IndyMac Bank (another company Mozilo started), the executive's lavish pay package was criticized by many, including Congress. Mozilo left Countrywide last summer after its rescue-sale to Bank of America. A few months later, BofA said it would spend up to $8.7 billion to settle predatory lending charges against Countrywide filed by 11 state attorneys general." 03-09
- 25 Trends that Changed the USA (USA Today)
"Today, USA TODAY editors and reporters pick the 25 most important trends of the past quarter-century." 07-07
- A Theory of Affluence (New York Times)
"For thousands of years, most people on earth lived in abject poverty, first as hunters and gatherers, then as peasants or laborers. But with the Industrial Revolution, some societies traded this ancient poverty for amazing affluence."
"Historians and economists have long struggled to understand how this transition occurred and why it took place only in some countries. A scholar who has spent the last 20 years scanning medieval English archives has now emerged with startling answers for both questions."
- Across the Nation, Opposition to Mosques (New York Times)
"At one time, neighbors who did not want mosques in their backyards said their concerns were over traffic, parking and noise — the same reasons they might object to a church or a synagogue. But now the gloves are off."
"Feeding the resistance is a growing cottage industry of authors and bloggers — some of them former Muslims — who are invited to speak at rallies, sell their books and testify in churches. Their message is that Islam is inherently violent and incompatible with America."
"A two-year study by a group of academics on American Muslims and terrorism concluded that contemporary mosques are actually a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam and terrorism. The study was conducted by professors with Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina. It disclosed that many mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring antiviolence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts." 08-10
- Affordable Care Act "Obamacare" (Wikipedia.org)
"The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The law (along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) is the principal health care reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress. PPACA reforms certain aspects of the private health insurance industry and public health insurance programs, increases insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions, expands access to insurance to over 30 million Americans, and increases projected national medical spending while lowering projected Medicare spending."
"Insurers are prohibited from imposing lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits, like hospital stays, in new policies issued.
Dependents (children) will be permitted to remain on their parents' insurance plan until their 26th birthday, and regulations implemented under the Act include dependents that no longer live with their parents, are not a dependent on a parent’s tax return, are no longer a student, or are married.
Insurers are prohibited from excluding pre-existing medical conditions (except in grandfathered individual health insurance plans) for children under the age of 19.
Insurers are prohibited from charging co-payments, co-insurance, or deductibles for Level A or Level B preventive care and medical screenings on all new insurance plans.
Individuals affected by the Medicare Part D coverage gap will receive a $250 rebate, and 50% of the gap will be eliminated in 2011. The gap will be eliminated by 2020.
Insurers' abilities to enforce annual spending caps will be restricted, and completely prohibited by 2014.
Insurers are prohibited from dropping policyholders when they get sick.
Insurers are required to reveal details about administrative and executive expenditures.
Insurers are required to implement an appeals process for coverage determination and claims on all new plans.
Enhanced methods of fraud detection are implemented.
Medicare is expanded to small, rural hospitals and facilities.
Medicare patients with chronic illnesses must be monitored/evaluated on a 3 month basis for coverage of the medications for treatment of such illnesses.
Non-profit Blue Cross insurers are required to maintain a loss ratio (money spent on procedures over money incoming) of 85% or higher to take advantage of IRS tax benefits.
Companies which provide early retiree benefits for individuals aged 55–64 are eligible to participate in a temporary program which reduces premium costs.
A new website installed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services will provide consumer insurance information for individuals and small businesses in all states.
A temporary credit program is established to encourage private investment in new therapies for disease treatment and prevention. 01-12
- Affordable Care Act "Obamacare" Insurance Cost Calculator (Kaiser Family Foundation)
"This tool illustrates health insurance premiums and subsidies for people purchasing insurance on their own in new health insurance exchanges (or 'Marketplaces') created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Beginning in October 2013, middle-income people under age 65, who are not eligible for coverage through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, can apply for tax credit subsidies available through state-based exchanges."
- Affordable Care Act "Obamacare" Not Helping With Rural Health Insurance Costs (New York Times)
"While competition is intense in many populous regions, rural areas and small towns have far fewer carriers offering plans in the law’s online exchanges. Those places, many of them poor, are being asked to choose from some of the highest-priced plans in the 34 states where the federal government is running the health insurance marketplaces, a review by The New York Times has found."
- Alan Greenspan and the Failure to Regulate (New York Times)
"For more than a decade, the former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has fiercely objected whenever derivatives have come under scrutiny in Congress or on Wall Street."
"As the nascent derivatives market took hold in the early 1990s, and in subsequent years, critics denounced an absence of rules forcing institutions to disclose their positions and set aside funds as a reserve against bad bets."
"Time and again, Mr. Greenspan — a revered figure affectionately nicknamed the Oracle — proclaimed that risks could be handled by the markets themselves."
"The derivatives market is $531 trillion, up from $106 trillion in 2002 and a relative pittance just two decades ago. Theoretically intended to limit risk and ward off financial problems, the contracts instead have stoked uncertainty and actually spread risk amid doubts about how companies value them. 10-08
- Alternative Approach to Health in the U.S. Recommended (MSNBC.com)
"Today it’s widely accepted, at least among policy wonks, that health is a product of social conditions. "
"Thirty-seven years ago, a pair of Boston University social scientists took a close look at U.S. health trends and drew an astonishing insight. America’s annual death rate had plummeted since the start of the century, pushing average life expectancy from 48 years to more than 75. But the analysis showed that, contrary to received wisdom, medical treatment had almost nothing to do with it. More than 96% of the decline in mortality was attributable to non-medical factors—less poverty, greater literacy, better housing and nutrition. In fact most of the progress (92% to be exact) had already occurred by the time modern medicine and health care spending took off in the mid-1950s."
"As a first step toward this broader vision of health care, the commission suggests all providers expand the standard list of vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, and so on) to include social indicators such as employment, safe housing and basic health literacy. By recording those signals in medical records—and linking patients to the services they lack—providers could improve their health while reducing the need for costly clinical care." 01-14
- Amazing Pictures of the Week (Time.com)
Provides pictures. 08-10
- America's Water Infrastructure Crisis (USNews.com)
"Rep. Earl Blumenauer called for a Clean Water Trust Fund at a rally today in support of buttressing America's aging infrastructure."
"Organized by Food & Water Watch, the rally highlighted a number of ills facing the country's water and sanitation systems. The average American pipe is 33 years old, while 72,000 miles of pipe are 80 years or older. Holding up today's Washington Post with a story detailing how a failed water main impeded efforts to fight a fire in a city neighborhood, group President Wenonah Hauter announced that it's 'time Congress does something about the water infrastructure crisis we're facing.' " 10-07
- America's Wireless Networks Still Slow, Even With 4G (CNN News)
"The real leap forward for next-generation deployments is defined not so much by technology but by speeds. Certainly, in this context, the 4G-branded service available in the United States does not compete with 4G service offered elsewhere."
"That's not to say wireless speeds in the United States aren't improving; indeed, they are beginning to match the speeds of lower-end broadband connections. Verizon, claiming the 'Fastest, most advanced 4G network in America,' is rolling out LTE offering up to 5-12 Mbps download speeds."
By comparison, "TeliaSonera rolled out LTE services in major Nordic and Baltic countries including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden last year with speeds that blow US 4G offerings out of the water: 'In normal circumstances, the average download speed is 20-80 Mbit/s.' " 02-11
- American Obesity Is a Global Problem (Time.com)
"Researchers say that rising rates of overweight and obesity — especially in the U.S. — will threaten the world's food security and environmental resources."
"Most of the world’s excess weight can be found in the U.S. The average weight of an adult anywhere in the world is about 137 lbs., but the average weight of an adult in the U.S. is 178 lbss, according to the new study by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Also, consider this: while North America has only 6% of the world’s population, it accounts for 34% of the world’s weight due to obesity. In contrast, Asia has 61% of the world’s population, but 13% of its weight due to obesity."
"“If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the U.S.A., in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass,” Professor Ian Roberts, who led the research at LSHTM, told the BBC."“If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the U.S.A., in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass,” Professor Ian Roberts, who led the research at LSHTM, told the BBC." 06-12
- Are We Born With a Moral Code? (CNN News)
"Paul Bloom, author of 'Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil' and a professor of psychology at Yale, says these studies show that even before babies can speak or walk, they judge good and bad in the actions of others because they are born with a rudimentary sense of justice." 02-14
- Best Health Insurance Providers (ConsumerHealthRatings.com)
Provides ratings and reviews from J.D. Powers, Consumer Reports, and U.S. News. 09-10
- Biochar Might Be That Magical (ABC News)
"A new study in Nature Communications finds that the world could, in theory, sustainably offset a whopping 12 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions by producing biochar."
"So for the Nature Communications study, the researchers just looked at the world's supply of crop leftovers: corn leaves and stalks, rice husks, livestock manure, yard trimmings. If virtually all of that biomass was used to make biochar, we could conceivably offset 12 percent of global carbon emissions." 08-10
- Biomass Debate (CNN News)
"Biomass is a favored form of renewable energy because its generation can be reliably scheduled; the wind and sun can merely be predicted, and not always very well, leading to a need for extensive storage."
"Now a group in Cambridge, Mass., is mounting a more direct assault on harnessing biomass: the Biomass Accountability Project is trotting out experts in medicine and forestry to argue against such power generators."
Editor's Note: See Biomass and Biochar. Eight times more carbon is released into the air from the decay of organic waste (biomass) than from burning fossil fuels each year. Pyrolysis of biomass is an effective way to keep the carbon in organic waste from re-entering the air. Pyrolysis of biomass produces biochar and syngas: Biochar can be used to enrich the earth. Syngas can serve as a clean energy source. Pyrolysis of biomass may be our best way to reverse the amount of surplus carbon in the air.
Biomass should not be burned. Incineration does, in fact, create substantial pollution. Living trees should not be harvested to create biomass; biomass should be composed of crop waste, "beetle kill," and other oranic waste. 07-10
- Both Political Parties Blame Bush for Economic Disaster (New York Times)
"These experts, from both political parties, say Mr. Bush’s early personnel choices and overarching antipathy toward regulation created a climate, that, if it did not set off the turmoil, almost certainly aggravated it."
"The president’s first two Treasury secretaries, for instance, lacked the kind of Wall Street expertise that might have helped them raise red flags about the use of complex financial instruments that are at the heart of the crisis." 09-08
- Budget Deficit (Awesome Library)
Provides news and facts on budget deficits. 09-08
- Budget Hero Game (PublicInsightNetwork.org)
Provides results by population type from a game that let you spend the federal budget over the next 50 years and see the consequences.
- Can Government Regulate the Largest Financial Institutions? (MSNBC news)
"At the heart of the debate is a set of rules governing whether bankers should be allowed to use shareholders’ and depositors’ money to buy and sell complex, risky investments that were created to offset a variety of other financial economic and credit risks. Opponents of the practice argue that the use of these 'synthetic' investments only serves to promote the kind of money-losing bets JP Morgan traders made with other people's money." 05-12
- Changes Coming in Medicare (ABC News)
"The Medicare open enrollment period kicked off this Monday and seniors can expect to see significant changes in their plans as the new health care law takes shape." 11-10
- Checks and Balances in the U.S. Government (BBC News)
"The US is a federal republic of 50 states. The framers of the Constitution, drafted in 1787, wanted to block any individual or group from gaining too much control, so they established a government of separate institutions that share powers. Authority is divided into three tiers of national, state and local government, with the American people electing officials to serve in each tier. At the national level the government is split into three autonomous branches - legislative, executive and judicial. Each has its own distinct responsibilities, but they can also partially limit the authority of the others through a complex system of checks and balances." 04-07
- Current Society and Community Issues in Depth (NOW with Bill Moyers)
"When PBS and Bill Moyers launched NOW, it was to illuminate stories that weren't being covered on any other public affairs broadcast, and under Moyers' leadership, NOW has pursued the truth behind the headlines. 'We are continuing to take a thoughtful look at the events shaping our world,' says Moyers, who has received every major broadcast journalisim award including more than 30 Emmy Awards." 12-03
- Derivatives and Funding for the SEC (U.S. News)
"Despite the trillion-dollar meltdown now underway, the number of SEC enforcement personnel will decline from 1,209 this year to 1,177 in 2009. In all, the SEC expects to have 3,771 employees next year. For comparison, the Smithsonian Institution budget for 2009 includes funding for 4,324 employees."
"Those pitiful numbers lead us to the innumerable problems posed by derivatives, the same financial instruments that led to the chaos at Enron, which before it failed operated a huge—and almost completely unregulated—derivatives exchange business. According to the Bank for International Settlements, the global derivatives market is now worth some $676.5 trillion. That's $676,500,000,000,000. That's a fivefold increase over the value of derivatives that were traded in 2003. Further, that $676.5 trillion is 51 times America's current gross domestic product." 09-08
- Description of the Book Hillbilly Elegy (HarperCollins.com)
"Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck." 07-16
- Doomsday Clock (The Epoch Times)
"The Science and Security board of the bulletin implored world leaders to immediately combat climate change and nuclear weapon stockpiling, announcing that the minute hand on the clock is remaining at five to midnight because 'the risk of civilization-threatening technological catastrophe remains high.' " 04-14
- Earth Clock (ClimateChangeCoalition.org)
Provides measures on use of fossil fuels and other categories relevant to climate change. 12-12
- Economists: Spending Cuts Ill-Timed (MSNBC)
"The nation’s political leaders agreed on Sunday to spend and invest less money in the American economy, a step that economists said risks the reversal of a faltering recovery, in the hope of improving the nation’s long-term prosperity." 07-11
- Editorial: "Judicial Activism" a Phony Claim (Time.com)
" 'Judicial activism' is the No. 1 conservative talking point on the law these days. Liberal judges, the argument goes, make law, while conservative judges simply apply the law as it is written."
"It's a phony claim. Conservative jurists are every bit as activist as liberal ones. But the critique is also wrong as an approach to the law. In fact, judges always have to interpret vague clauses and apply them to current facts — it's what judging is all about." 06-10
- Editorial: A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation (New York Times - Meacham)
"In an interview with Beliefnet.com last weekend, Mr. McCain repeated what is an article of faith among many American evangelicals: 'the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.' "
However, "the only acknowledgment of God in the original Constitution is a utilitarian one: the document is dated 'in the year of our Lord 1787.' Even the religion clause of the First Amendment is framed dryly and without reference to any particular faith. The Connecticut ratifying convention debated rewriting the preamble to take note of God’s authority, but the effort failed."
"Thomas Jefferson said that his bill for religious liberty in Virginia was 'meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindu, and infidel of every denomination.' When George Washington was inaugurated in New York in April 1789, Gershom Seixas, the hazan of Shearith Israel, was listed among the city’s clergymen (there were 14 in New York at the time) — a sign of acceptance and respect. The next year, Washington wrote the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I., saying, 'happily the government of the United States ... gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. ... Everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.' " 10-07
- Editorial: American Citizens Ignore Administration Lies at Our Peril (International Herald Tribune)
"Ten days ago The New York Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President George W. Bush gave his standard response: 'This government does not torture people.' "
"Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of 'torture' is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the definition so Bush can keep pleading innocent."
"By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three years ago." 10-07
- Editorial: Are Corporations Pursuing Profits or Power? (NBC News)
"Do corporations seek to maximize profits? Or do they seek to maximize power? The two may be complementary—wealth begets power, power begets wealth—but they’re not the same. One important difference is that profits can come from an expanding economic 'pie,' whereas the size of the power pie is fixed. Power is a zero-sum game: more for me means less for you. And for corporations, the pursuit of power sometimes trumps the pursuit of profits."
"Take public education, for example. Greater investment in education from pre-school through college could increase the overall pie of well-being. But it would narrow the educational advantage of the corporate oligarchs and their privately schooled children—and diminish the power that comes with it. Although corporations could benefit from the bigger pie produced by a better-educated labor force, there’s a tension between what’s good for business and what’s good for the business elite."
"Similarly, the business elite today supports economic austerity instead of full-employment policies that would increase growth and profits. This may have something to do with the fact that austerity widens inequality, while full employment would narrow it (by empowering workers)."
"Recognizing the real-world pursuit of power not only helps us understand behavior that otherwise may seem peculiar. It also redirects our attention from the dichotomy between the market and the state toward a more fundamental one: the divide between oligarchy and democracy." 08-13
- Editorial: Are State Tax Cuts Good for the Economy? (PBS News)
"What it comes down to is whether you believe that the large demographic shifts across states over the last decade (and before that) have been materially caused by the different income tax policies or whether you believe these two phenomena are largely coincidental."
"Now a few words on the famous eponymous Laffer Curve. The brilliance of the curve is that it captures vividly the idea that pushing tax rates too high will eventually become counter-productive in terms of revenue. No one benefits if raising tax rates reduces revenue -- certainly not those who are taxed, and not those who would benefit from collecting additional revenue. But the question is at what tax rate a perverse revenue response would actually kick in. I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of the public finance community believes that the United States is far below that point." 08-13
- Editorial: Does Obama's Winning Streak Prove Race Doesn't Matter? (US News)
"In a ringing endorsement that connected his brother JFK’s legacy with the inspirational qualities of the candidate, Ted Kennedy hailed Obama's campaign as being 'about the country we will become, if we can rise above the old politics that parses us into separate groups and puts us at odds with one another.' " 10-08
- Editorial: Election Reform Needed (CNN News)
"Given that the primary system gives particular influence to party activists who are usually on the extreme end of the political spectrum, potential candidates are forced to think about how their decisions will play to them rather than moderates."
"One potential reform has to come from the media. If the major news outlets devote more attention to policymaking and less to the statements of potential candidates, there will simply be fewer opportunities for people like Romney (or any comparable Democrat when a Republican is in the White House) to run this early. Nobody will be listening. The endless campaign thrives on receiving media attention."
"The second change has to come from government. The White House and Congress must tackle campaign finance reform and attempt to restore some of the system that had been put into place as a result of the Watergate scandal. Only with public finance, enforced contribution limits and possibly expenditure limits would the nation be able to dampen the fundraising pressures on candidates." 06-09
- Editorial: First Amendment - Upside Down (New York)
"The Supreme Court decision striking down public matching funds in Arizona’s campaign finance system is a serious setback for American democracy. The opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. in Monday’s 5-to-4 decision shows again the conservative majority’s contempt for campaign finance laws that aim to provide some balance to the unlimited amounts of money flooding the political system."
"Justice Elena Kagan, writing in dissent, dissects the court’s willful misunderstanding of the result. Rather than a restriction on speech, she says, the trigger mechanism is a subsidy with the opposite effect: 'It subsidizes and produces more political speech.' Those challenging the law, she wrote, demanded — and have now won — the right to 'quash others’ speech' so they could have 'the field to themselves.' She explained that the matching funds program — unlike a lump sum grant to candidates — sensibly adjusted the amount disbursed so that it was neither too little money to attract candidates nor too large a drain on public coffers."
"Arizona’s system was a response to a history of terrible corruption in the state’s politics." 06-11
- Editorial: Green Jobs to Save our Future (CNN News)
"Ending the subsidies that make dirty fuels artificially cheap can spark a shift in infrastructure development, create more jobs and allow America to become more self-sufficient.
"The choice is clear. We can sit idly as China and Germany invest in clean energy -- a soon-to-be $8 trillion world market -- or we can step up, get Americans back in the work force and export the best clean energy vehicles and technology." 08-10
- Editorial: How America Is Squandering Its Wealth (US News)
"Most important is to see the connection between the American way of life and the foreign policy that our government conducts. There are some critics of American foreign policy, Noam Chomsky, for instance, who portray U.S. foreign policy as a great conspiracy where certain elites pull the wool over the eyes of the people to benefit themselves and their cronies. I've come to believe that U.S. foreign policy is broadly conceived to reflect the will of the American people." 08-08
- Editorial: How a Founding Father Approached a Fiscal Cliff (New York Times)
"The staggering deficit. The possibility of impending tax hikes and significant budget cuts by the end of the year. Has the United States ever faced such a daunting financial crisis?"
"Yes — though not, as many might guess, during the Great Depression. Rather, it was shortly after the nation’s birth. It’s an experience worth examining, because the way the new country put its house in order under Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton holds several lessons for today."
"The lesson is not only what Hamilton did, but also what he did not do. In a fiscal dilemma similar to ours but far worse, and with many fewer tools at the government’s disposal, he never considered austerity or big tax hikes or cuts as a solution. Only after the country was moving toward sustained prosperity did he increase taxes, including a controversial levy on whiskey."
"What does Hamilton’s strategy mean to us today? For one thing, it recommends against obsessing over taxes, a 'fiscal cliff' and a disastrous austerity program. Instead, the answer is to increase the size of the economic pie." 11-12
- Editorial: How to Save a Trillion Dollars (Time.com)
"Across Washington, all sorts of people are starting to ask the unthinkable questions about long-sacred military budgets. Can the U.S. really afford more than 500 bases at home and around the world? Do the Air Force, Navy and Marines really need $400 billion in new jet fighters when their fleets of F-15s, F-16s and F-18s will give them vast air superiority for years to come? Does the Navy need 50 attack submarines when America's main enemy hides in caves? Does the Army still need 80,000 troops in Europe 66 years after the defeat of Adolf Hitler?"
"Numbers alone tell much of the story: we are now spending 50% more (even excluding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) than we did on 9/11. We are spending more on the military than we did during the Cold War, when U.S. and NATO troops stared across Germany's Fulda Gap at a real super-power foe with real tanks and thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at U.S. cities. In fact, the U.S. spends about as much on its military as the rest of the world combined." 04-11
- Editorial: In the Middle East, Peace and Good Governance Starts With Them (New York Times)
"If it doesn’t start with them, if they don’t have ownership of a new peace initiative, a battle or a struggle for good governance, no amount of U.S. troops kick-starting, cajoling or doling out money can make it work. And if it does start with them, they really don’t need or want us around for very long." 06-11
- Editorial: Inside the Racist Mind (Time.com)
"After a recent event where I spoke about racial identity, a white woman sidled up to me, leaned in close so no one near us could hear, and said, 'I’m racist.' Many people would be repelled. I was entranced." 04-12
- Editorial: Is Obama a Really a Republican? (TheRoot.com)
"If Obama had actually governed like a classic liberal, his most ardent critics would have been content to call him a liberal. But they resorted to calling him a socialist to camouflage the fact that his policymaking was more liberal Republican than progressive Democrat."
"You've heard that Obama is anti-business, right? But the Dow was down near 7,000 in Obama's first 100 days, and it's been above 10,000 for more than a year."
"Unlike George H.W. Bush's read my lips' tax increase in the face of 1990's recession, Obama's stimulus plugged a hole in the leaking national economy and still managed to rebate $288 billion in taxes to the middle class." 11-10
- Editorial: Is Our Choice Between "Restoration" and "Transformation"? (Time.com)
"Transformers view the Constitution as a supple, living document; restorers view it as sacred text and must, as the new GOP Pledge to America affirms, 'honor its original intent' — not that we've ever agreed on what that is." 12-10
- Editorial: Islam Is a Religion, Not a Terror Ideology (CNN News)
"Opponents of an Islamic community center and mosque planned to be built near ground zero say it would desecrate hallowed ground. But suspicion has greeted proposed mosque projects in places less hallowed than ground zero -- in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Temecula, California; and elsewhere."
"This suggests that opposition to mosques is not driven only by sensitivity to the memory of terrorism victims, but also by a growing unease toward Islam, fueled by security fears." 08-10
- Editorial: Israel and the U.S. Have Different Priorities (Time.com)
"Some accuse President Obama of undermining Israel’s security to protect a peace process that’s going nowhere. Others say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is poisoning Israel’s relations with his country’s superpower protector and isolating Israel internationally. It’s clear that Obama and Netanyahu don’t trust or like each other. But the widening divide between these countries can’t be reduced to a personality conflict between leaders. Differences in the interests and worldviews of the two governments are becoming more important." 04-15
- Editorial: Obama Gets Little Credit (New York Times)
"The health law will hold costs down, while giving millions the chance at getting care, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Financial reform seeks to prevent the kind of meltdown that caused the global economic collapse. And the stimulus, though it drastically raised the deficit, saved about 3 million jobs, again according to the CBO. It also gave a majority of taxpayers a one-time cut — even if 90 percent of Americans don’t know that, either."
"The banking system was resuscitated by $700 billion in bailouts started by Bush (a fact unknown by a majority of Americans), and finished by Obama, with help from the Federal Reserve. It worked. The government is expected to break even on a risky bet to stabilize the global free market system. Had Obama followed the populist instincts of many in his party, the underpinnings of big capitalism could have collapsed. He did this without nationalizing banks, as other Democrats had urged.""
"Billions of profits, windfalls in the stock market, a stable banking system — but no jobs." 11-10
- Editorial: Protecting the Net Is Protecting Free Speech (CNN News)
"Net neutrality may sound like a technical issue, but it's the key to preserving the internet as we know it -- and it's the most important First Amendment issue of our time." 08-10
- Editorial: Reality-Based Conservatism Is Needed (Time.com)
"We need conservative ideas to modernize the U.S. economy and reform American government. But what we have instead are policies that don't reform but just cut and starve government — a strategy that pays little attention to history or best practices from around the world and is based instead on a theory." 06-11
- Editorial: Reducing Gun Violence Is Not About Looking into the Minds of Killers (CNN News)
"What we do know, based on the best available scientific evidence on the link between violence and mental illness in populations, is that most violence is not caused by a major psychiatric condition like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression. Psychiatric disorder accounts for only about 4% of violent behavior, across the spectrum from minor to serious assaultive acts. And the vast majority of people with serious mental illnesses do not behave violently."
"If research on patterns of violence in populations tells us anything, it's that no single thing causes assaultive behavior. Even when serious psychopathology plays a role, it is almost never a sufficient explanation. Other variables -- personal background characteristics and life experience, features of the social environment, substance abuse -- all may interact to make violent acts statistically more likely. That makes it complicated to explain and very difficult to predict actions on an individual level."
"When we total up the contributions of all the risk factors with known links to violent behavior, most of it is left unexplained."
"The present national moment of grief and soul searching should not become another occasion for oversimplifying the problem of gun violence and laying the blame on any one thing -- 'it's the guns' or 'it's untreated mental illness' or 'it's the information system' or 'it's the violent popular culture in society.' It may be all of those things. We need to address all of the variables and come up with smart evidence-based policies. Looking inside the killer's head should not be the first place to start." 07-12
- Editorial: Setbacks for the Middle Class (CNN News)
"Five years into his presidency, Barack Obama is still falling short of his number one goal: to fix the economy for the middle class."
"Sure, a recovery has been underway for most of his presidency, but it's still slow and uneven. And despite Obama's focus on the middle class, the improvement so far has largely benefited corporations and the ultra-rich." 01-14
- Editorial: Should We Outsource Congress? (Time.com)
"Congressional dysfunction has been cited as the reason behind everything from the poor state of transportation infrastructure to the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.”
"Which begs the question: what exactly are we paying for? The average congressman earns $174,000 a year, more than three-and-a-half times the U.S. median household income. For fiscal year 2013, it will cost an estimated $5.9 billion to operate Congress and the rest of the legislative branch. Salaries and benefits alone account for more than $2.5 billion of that sum. The latter is roughly the same amount we spend to staff NASA. Except NASA actually does stuff — like build rockets and launch them.”
"The solution? Outsourcing. Perhaps to a subcontractor with a blandly sinister name in Arlington or a nice call center in Bangalore or any place that will accomplish something beyond naming post offices — at a time when the postal service is slowly going broke.” 07-12
- Editorial: Tag, You're It (Truth-Out.org)
"Our economy is in tatters, the result of more than 30 years of Reaganomics and Clintonomics. Our democracy is hanging by a thread, the result of 40 years of radical Supreme Court decisions steadily advancing the powers of corporations and suppressing the rights of individuals and their government. And our environment is trembling under the combined assault of the Industrial Revolution and nearly 7 billion bundles of human flesh."
"Now is the most important time for us all to be paying attention, to show up, and to wake up our friends, family, and neighbors. Because this nation is on the edge of a radical restart, a reboot."
"Tag, you’re it." 01-11
- Editorial: The Bush Legacy (CNN News)
"I think the single most significant bad decision George Bush made came early in his presidency. It was a decision widely applauded at the time and with much bipartisan support. Remember the Bush tax cuts?"
"Remember their effect on America's finances? In 2000, the Clinton administration had almost balanced the federal budget and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office was projecting that over the next 10 years the United States would have budget surpluses that would add up to $5.6 trillion."
"By the spring of 2002, two-thirds of that projected surplus had evaporated and the rest disappeared soon thereafter. It was the most profoundly un-conservative act of Bush's presidency. Rather than pay down debt and save in the good times for the inevitable bad times, Bush squandered it all so that all of us -- particularly high income earners -- could indulge in a bit more consumption."
"And now, when times have gotten bad and we sorely need that reserve, we're clean out of cash. The federal budget deficit will likely range from $1.2 to $1.8 trillion over the next few years. Imagine what we could have done by either saving that money or spending it wisely on an energy revolution, on upgrading the infrastructure, on modernizing the health-care system." 01-09
- Editorial: The End of American Capitalism? (MSNBC News)
"The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is claiming another casualty: American-style capitalism." 10-08
- Editorial: The Health Care Act and Cancer (CNN News)
This editorial is by John R. Seffrin. Seffrin the is chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)."
"The debate over health care has been epically divisive. But it is almost universally accepted that the existing health care system is badly in need of repair. People with cancer and other life-threatening chronic diseases have long been routinely denied coverage outright, charged exorbitant costs for care and forced to spend their savings to get the care they need, simply because they have a pre-existing condition."
"The law addresses this national moral failing with numerous provisions that help to expand access to quality, affordable health care, including those that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, charging patients higher premiums because of their health status and suddenly revoking coverage when a person falls ill with a disease such as cancer." 06-12
- Editorial: The Meaning of Obama's Win (Time.com)
"Remember this day, parents told their children as they took them out of school to go see an African-American candidate make history. An election in one of the world's oldest democracies looked like the kind they hold in brand-new ones, when citizens finally come out and dance, a purple-thumb day, a velvet revolution." 11-08
- Editorial: The Merit of Diversity (CNN News)
"More than 20 years ago, I got into an argument with a college roommate over affirmative action -- one I've thought about since President-elect Barack Obama began nominating people to serve in the Cabinet and White House staff." 11-08
- Editorial: The Two American Economies (New York Times)
"The creative dynamism of American business is astounding and a little terrifying. Over the past five years, amid turmoil and uncertainty, American businesses have shed employees, becoming more efficient and more productive. According to The Wall Street Journal on Monday, the revenue per employee at S.&P. 500 companies increased from $378,000 in 2007 to $420,000 in 2011."
"If Cowen’s case is right, the U.S. is not a nation in decline. We may be in the early days of an export boom that will eventually power an economic revival, including a manufacturing revival. But, as Cowen emphasizes, this does not mean nirvana is at hand."
"His work leaves the impression that there are two interrelated American economies. On the one hand, there is the globalized tradable sector — companies that have to compete with everybody everywhere. These companies, with the sword of foreign competition hanging over them, have become relentlessly dynamic and very (sometimes brutally) efficient."
"On the other hand, there is a large sector of the economy that does not face this global competition — health care, education and government. Leaders in this economy try to improve productivity and use new technologies, but they are not compelled by do-or-die pressure, and their pace of change is slower."
"A rift is opening up." 04-12
- Editorial: The Unemployment Disaster (New York Times)
"The employment situation in the United States is much worse than even the dismal numbers from last week’s jobless report would indicate. The nation is facing a full-blown employment crisis and policy makers are not responding with anything like the sense of urgency that is needed." 08-10
- Editorial: Videotaping the Police Should Not be a Crime (Time.com)
"Anthony Graber, a Maryland Air National Guard staff sergeant, faces up to 16 years in prison. His crime? He videotaped his March encounter with a state trooper who pulled him over for speeding on a motorcycle. Then Graber put the video — which could put the officer in a bad light — up on YouTube." 08-10
- Editorial: We Can't Drill Our Way Out of Our Fuel Crisis (Time.com)
"The reality is that whether the U.S. drills or not, it really doesn't make a difference — not against the sheer scale of the energy and climate crisis facing America and the rest of the world. (Indeed, the other 6.3 billion people factor into this equation too.) The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently estimated that under a business-as-usual scenario — which the U.S. seems intent on abiding — global oil demand would rise 70% by 2050. That increase represents five times as much oil as Saudi Arabia produces annually. You could drill America with exploratory wells until it looked like Swiss cheese and still not make much of a dent in that figure." 08-08
- Editorial: Wealth and Suffering (CBS News)
"A few days ago when I opened the newspaper the news was so strange that it made my head spin."
"There was so much spectacular randomly-acquired wealth and so much misery right next to each other that I couldn't fit it all into my brain." 02-12
- Editorial: What Can We Really Do to Limit Climate Change? (New York Times)
"American companies can trade emission rights. By setting overall caps at levels designed to ensure that China sells us a substantial number of permits, we would in effect be paying China to cut its emissions. Since the evidence suggests that the cost of cutting emissions would be lower in China than in the United States, this could be a good deal for everyone."
"But what if the Chinese (or the Indians or the Brazilians, etc.) do not want to participate in such a system? Then you need sticks as well as carrots. In particular, you need carbon tariffs."
"A carbon tariff would be a tax levied on imported goods proportional to the carbon emitted in the manufacture of those goods. Suppose that China refuses to reduce emissions, while the United States adopts policies that set a price of $100 per ton of carbon emissions. If the United States were to impose such a carbon tariff, any shipment to America of Chinese goods whose production involved emitting a ton of carbon would result in a $100 tax over and above any other duties. Such tariffs, if levied by major players — probably the United States and the European Union — would give noncooperating countries a strong incentive to reconsider their positions." 04-10
- Editorial: What Is "Objectivity" in News Reporting? (Time.com)
"Namely, what journalists and people who talk about them generally call "objectivity" is not actual objectivity, but something more like "neutrality" (often a false and labored one). Objectivity does not mean having no opinion, taking no side or expressing no point of view. It means seeking, acknowledging and interpreting objective evidence, even when it conflicts with your preconceptions or with what you wish to be true. You can have subjective beliefs—because we all do—and yet subordinate them to objective evidence."
"In most fields, someone who simply processes information yet is unable or unwilling ever to draw conclusions from it would not be considered very useful; only in journalism is that somehow the ideal." 11-10
- Editorial: What the Ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act Means (CBS News)
"Not since King Solomon offered to split the baby has a judge engineered a slicker solution to a bitterly divisive dispute. With his fellow Supreme Court Justices split 4-4 between two extreme outcomes — blessing the sprawling health care law or killing it — Roberts maneuvered half the court into signing half his ruling and the other half into endorsing the rest. He gave the liberals their long-cherished dream of government-led reform while giving his fellow conservatives new doctrine to limit congressional power, which they have been seeking since the New Deal. With the court’s approval ratings at record lows and supporters of President Obama grimly predicting a legal travesty — or even a judicial coup — Roberts somehow cloaked a win for right-leaning legal theory in the glittering garb of a triumph for the left. And the Democratic swords that were being sharpened for an election-year war against the court were hammered into trumpets with which to herald the statesmanship of the Republican Chief Justice."
"By setting a limit on congressional power to regulate the nation’s commerce — and by ruling that Congress cannot use its spending power to force states to greatly expand Medicaid coverage — Roberts blazed legal trails that conservatives have long dreamed of. How far down those paths the court will go in future terms is anyone’s guess, but the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was sufficiently worried about these precedents that she wrote a lengthy dissent even though she had gotten the end result she wanted: Obamacare was upheld. And her three liberal colleagues substantially agreed with her."
"He didn’t seek some nonexistent middle ground halfway between irreconcilable poles. He didn’t listen to one side saying no and the other saying yes and write an opinion saying maybe, or blend black and white to make gray. He found a means of giving both sides just enough of what they wanted that he was able to avert a crisis. In the superheated conflict mill that is American politics these days, it’s good to have someone in a position of authority willing to try."
"He has managed to stand well above the viral, toxic cloud of partisan rancor that has settled over the capital, making him perhaps the healthiest figure, politically speaking, in government. After seven terms as Chief Justice, he finally put the Roberts in the Roberts court." 06-12
- Editorial: Where Did the Trillions in the Stock Market Go? (Time.com)
"If you're looking to track down your missing money — figure out who has it now, maybe ask to have it back — you might be disappointed to learn that is was never really money in the first place."
"Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale, puts it bluntly: The notion that you lose a pile of money whenever the stock market tanks is a 'fallacy.' He says the price of a stock has never been the same thing as money — it's simply the 'best guess' of what the stock is worth." 10-08
- Editorial: Why Your Bank Is Broke (Time.com)
"There's little hope that the type of shares the government is buying in banks as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will plug the hole in the banking system's bucket. Paul Miller, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets who has written a number of reports on the capital issues of banks, says the only way to solve the problem is for the government to stop buying preferred shares and start taking direct ownership stakes. Of course, the issue with that approach is that the problem at the banks is so large, Uncle Sam may end up owning a good portion of the banking sector. Few seem to want nationalization. Unfortunately, that could be the only way out." 01-09
- Election Reform
- Enrolling in Obamacare: What You Need to Know (CNN News)
"If you have Internet access, start with the Web. Beginning October 1, Healthcare.gov will have the information you need. The government site will link to where you sign up for the program."
"Go first to 'get insurance.' That tab will get you to a page that will walk you through whatever marketplace is available to you. Some states set up their own; the federal government runs the rest. On this site you can also compare the plans available in your area."
- Expert: Suicide Bombers Not Motivated Primarily by Religion (MSNBC News)
Tucker Carlson: "I should also say you’ve compiled the world’s largest database on suicide terrorism. You studied every suicide bombing in the world since about 1980, so you’re a good guy to ask, obviously, the guy to ask. You make the point, if I understand it correctly, that, most of the time, suicide bombing is a response to foreign occupation, you say, not a product of religious extremism."
Robert Pape: "Yes. Over 95 percent of all suicide terrorist attacks around the world since 1980 have in common not religion, but a clear strategic purpose, to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland or prize greatly." 7-05
- Federal Court Challenges "Net Neutrality" (Business.Time.com)
"In the case Verizon v. FCC, the appeals court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to regulate Internet Service Providers as “common carriers,” like telephone companies, which have to treat all calls equally, the Wall Street Journal reports. If it stands, the ruling paves the way for ISPs to pick and choose between what traffic is allowed to travel over broadband infrastructure, giving preference to one site or service over another and potentially changing the level playing field that is today’s Internet." 01-14
- For the Poor, the Cost of Living Can Be More (NBC News)
"Those who earn little have to work long hours to make enough, and often spend more time than the well-off managing the basics of their lives. Not having paid sick days means losing wages when a loved one has a medical emergency, or child care falls through. Not having a washing machine means extra hours at the laundromat. And just getting to and from work can take hours." 08-13
- Fortune's Investigation: What Fast and Furious Is Really About (Fortune.CNN.com)
"Irony abounds when it comes to the Fast and Furious scandal. But the ultimate irony is this: Republicans who support the National Rifle Association and its attempts to weaken gun laws are lambasting ATF agents for not seizing enough weapons—ones that, in this case, prosecutors deemed to be legal."
"It was nearly impossible in Arizona to bring a case against a straw purchaser. The federal prosecutors there did not consider the purchase of a huge volume of guns, or their handoff to a third party, sufficient evidence to seize them. A buyer who certified that the guns were for himself, then handed them off minutes later, hadn't necessarily lied and was free to change his mind. Even if a suspect bought 10 guns that were recovered days later at a Mexican crime scene, this didn't mean the initial purchase had been illegal. To these prosecutors, the pattern proved little. Instead, agents needed to link specific evidence of intent to commit a crime to each gun they wanted to seize."
"None of the ATF agents doubted that the Fast and Furious guns were being purchased to commit crimes in Mexico. But that was nearly impossible to prove to prosecutors' satisfaction. And agents could not seize guns or arrest suspects after being directed not to do so by a prosecutor."
"On Jan. 8, 2010, Voth and his supervisors drafted a briefing paper in which they explained Hurley's view that 'there was minimal evidence at this time to support any type of prosecution.' The paper elaborated, 'Currently our strategy is to allow the transfer of firearms to continue to take place, albeit at a much slower pace, in order to further the investigation and allow for the identification of additional co-conspirators.' "
"Rep. Issa's committee has flagged this document as proof that the agents chose to walk guns. But prosecutors had determined, Voth says, that the 'transfer of firearms' was legal. Agents had no choice but to keep investigating and start a wiretap as quickly as possible to gather evidence of criminal intent." 06-12
- From Dictatorship to Democracy (AEinstein.org)
"Out of these concerns and experiences grew a determined hope that prevention of tyranny might be possible, that successful struggles against dictatorships could be waged without mass mutual slaughters, that dictatorships could be destroyed and new ones prevented from rising out of the ashes."
"I have tried to think carefully about the most effective ways in which dictatorships could be successfully disintegrated with the least possible cost in suffering and lives. In this I have drawn on my studies over many years of dictatorships, resistance movements, revolutions, political thought, governmental systems, and especially realistic nonviolent struggle."
"This publication is the result." 02-11
- General Motors Makes Record Profit (ABC News)
"General Motors earned a record $7.6 billion profit last year, the highest profit in the company’s 103-year history. It sold 640,000 more cars and trucks in 2011 than it did in 2010 and took in a total of $105 billion."
"GM says 47,500 blue collar workers, many of whom took pay cuts of up to 40 percent and cuts in benefits as part of the bailout, learned today that they are receiving profit-sharing checks of up to $7,000." 02-12
- Germany Switching From Nuclear Power to Solar and Wind (Truth-Out.org)
"Germany, the world’s most aggressive adopter of renewable energy, is taking a bold leap toward a future free from nuclear energy. In March, the German government announced a program to invest 200 billion euros, or approximately $270 billion, in renewables. That’s 8 percent of the country’s GDP, according to the DIW Economic Institute in Berlin." 06-12
- Gerrymandering Keeps Incumbents in Congress (CNN News)
"Gerrymandering is the term for the way politicians draw boundary lines for legislative districts in a way designed to keep one party or the other in power in that particular district."
"In the last 10 years, 78% of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives -- almost four out of every five members of Congress -- did not change party hands even once." 11-11
- Giving Thanks for Everyday Heroes (MSNBC News)
"Meet 5 who answered the call, and hear what they learned from their acts of kindness and courage" 11-10
- Glossary of Terms for the Oil Spill (CNN News)
Provides a glossary. 06-10
- Golden Age of Gas: Changing Global Politics (CNN News)
"It's becoming increasingly clear that the shale gas revolution is a game-changer not just for the energy industry, not just for the U.S. — but for geopolitics."
"And in a short time, its success has led to the drilling of 20,000 wells in America, the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs, and a guaranteed supply of gas for perhaps 100 years. The International Energy Agency says global gas production will rise 50% by the year 2035; two-thirds of that growth will come from unconventional sources like shale — a market the U.S. completely dominates." 06-12
- Greenspan Admits 'Mistake' (MSNBC News)
"Accused of contributing to the meltdown, but denying that it was his fault, Greenspan told a House panel the crisis left him — an unabashed free-market advocate — in a 'state of shocked disbelief.' " 10-08
- Gross National Product Report: What It Means (U.S. News)
"The data confirm that the U.S. economy is not just slowing; it's shrinking. Consumer spending saw its steepest fall since 1980, as more Americans kept their wallets closed in the face of higher unemployment and sagging home values." 10-08
- Guide to Toppling Autocrats (New York Times)
"Few Americans have heard of Mr. Sharp. But for decades, his practical writings on nonviolent revolution — most notably 'From Dictatorship to Democracy,' a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages — have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt."
- Health Care Reform and the Health Care Insurance Industry (Time.com)
"Brokers and agents have to hope there will still be demand for their help in navigating the maze of health insurance. 'More of the upfront stuff will be done online, but it won't replace the service,' says Janet Trautwein, CEO of the National Association of Health Underwriters, which represents agents and brokers. She says the advice and counseling that state-licensed brokers and agents provide will still be needed." 08-10
- How Administration's Climate Plan Accommodates Some States (ThinkProgress.org)
"On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its proposed rule to limit the amount of carbon pollution that the nation’s 491 existing power plants can emit into the atmosphere. These plants, which are responsible for about 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions, will be required to reduce emissions 25 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 through a number of different means, including energy efficiency and renewable energy capacity building. The plants are scattered across the country, and the EPA made a point of giving states widely different targets based on their current emissions profiles." 06-14
- How Social Media Is Changing Disaster Response (Time.com)
"Halfway around the world in Japan, social media was a primary source of communication following the earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11. However, unlike the situation in Joplin, citizens were using networks like Twitter, Facebook and Mixi (a Japan-specific social site) to send warnings, ask for help and relay bits of information from the scene as well as to announce that they were safe." 06-11
- How U.S. Credit Problems Went Global (Time.com)
"Anyone who clinged to the notion that the risks lurking in America's mortgage pool were a local concern has now been proven wrong. The U.S. subprime mortgage market — turned sour by borrowers with poor credit struggling to meet payments as interest rates rise — is fast becoming a global worry. With huge chunks of this debt packaged up and sold to financial companies across the world, bad loans are roughing up banks and markets just about everywhere." 08-07
- How the 1% Live: The Priciest Homes (Time.com)
"When you look at the most expensive homes for sale in the country, most have been on the market more than 180 days, and the priciest property for sale in America right now, Fleur de Lys in Los Angeles, has been on and off the market since 2007." 11-11
- How the Falling Dollar Affects Americans (Christian Science Monitor)
"US consumers' standard of living may drop as they pay more for foreign goods, but demand for American labor will rise, say economists." 09-07
- How to Know If the Stimulus Plan Is Working (MSNBC News)
"Yet while job creation is arguably the most important goal of the stimulus package, other parts of the bill will have a much more immediate and visible impact. Food stamp increases and extensions of unemployment benefits will be among the first noticeable effects of the package. Tax credit payments for individuals and families would follow, along with other tax breaks and incentives. Rising consumer confidence and lower unemployment will be far more gradual, and aren't likely to surface until late 2009 at the earliest." 02-09
- How to Remove Yourself From a Social Network Like Facebook (Time.com)
"Need to disappear from Facebook or Twitter? Now you can scrub yourself from the Internet with Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, a nifty service that purges your online presence from these all-consuming social networks."
"But be warned: As in life, resurrection is impossible." 01-10
- Hunger Highest in 15 Years (CNN News)
"The number of Americans fighting off hunger stayed level last year, though food insecurity rates remain the highest they have been since the federal government began keeping track 15 years ago, a Department of Agriculture report released Monday found."
"About 14.7 percent of U.S. households were 'food insecure' in 2009, meaning they had difficulty feeding one or more of their members at some point last year due to a lack of financial resources, according to the report."
"That equates to 17.4 million households total, or roughly 45 million people." 11-10
- Information Needed to Vote (866OurVote.org)
Provides the location of your polling place and information required to bring with you. 11-10
- Information Needed to Vote (League of Women Voters)
"Smart Voter provides nonpartisan information on elections and voting. Our goal is to offer the complete list of all contests on your ballot including local offices. Where possible we obtain this information by a collaboration of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters with election officials to present an accurate and complete ballot." 11-10
- Interesting Statistics (USA Today)
Seventy-two percent of adults do not have a college degree. 06-12
- Interrogator: Why Saddam Pretended to Have WMD (CBS News)
" 'It was very important for him [Saddam] to project that [he had weapons of mass destruction] because that was what kept him, in his mind, in power. That capability kept the Iranians away. It kept them from reinvading Iraq,' Piro says." 01-08
- Iran's Current Nuclear Capability (Time.com)
"Ahmadinejad was shown on national TV attending the installation of a domestically-produced fuel plate of uranium enriched to 20% into a Tehran research reactor that produces medical isotopes." 02-12
- Islamists (Wikipedia.org)
"Islamism refers to a set of political ideologies derived from various religious views of Muslim fundamentalists, which hold that Islam is not only a religion, but also a political system that should govern the legal, economic and social imperatives of the state. Islamist movements seek to re-shape the state by implementing a conservative formulation of Sharia.  Islamists regard themselves as Muslims rather than Islamists, while moderate Muslims and liberal movements within Islam reject this notion." 01-06
- Joan Rivers Dies (Time.com)
"As soon as word spread that the legendary Joan Rivers had died Thursday, fellow comedians and celebrities swiftly took to social media to mourn the comedy icon." 04-13
- Journalistic Standards and Practices - Good Taste (CBC News)
Provides journalistic standards on what should and should not be shown to the public in news media because of the diversity of the public.
- Judge: Justice Can Be Served Within the U.S. Constitution (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
"U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said the successful prosecution of Ahmed Ressam should serve not only as a warning to terrorists, but as a statement to the Bush administration about its terrorism-fighting tactics."
" 'We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant or deny the defendant the right to counsel,' he said Wednesday. 'The message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart.' " 7-05
- Justice Department Announces Civil Rights Investigation in Ferguson (ABC News)
"U.S. attorney general launches civil rights investigation into fatal shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, by police officer." 04-13
- Maddow Interviews Jon Stewart (Time.com)
Provides a portion of the interview on Stewart's view on what is wrong with today's news media. Stewart makes the case that media should be focusing on the distinction between corruption and integrity rather than the distinction between Republican and Democrat. 11-10
- Median American Family Net Worth Fell 40 Percent From 2007 to 2010 (PBS.org)
"The net worth of the median American family fell nearly 40 percent from 2007 to 2010, the Federal Reserve reported this week."
"The main culprit, the collapse of the housing market." 06-12
- Military Terms (MSBC News)
A squad is comprised of 10-11 soldiers. A platoon has four squads. A company has two or more platoons and has 130-150 soldiers. "A battalion, usually about 400-strong, is comprised of three rifle companies, a combat support company and a headquarters company."
A brigade "contains around 2,500 people commanded by a colonel."
"One division is made up of at least three brigades with between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers." 03-07
- Moderate Muslims Speak to Christians (Christian Science Monitor)
"The open letter from 138 prominent Muslims – including imams, ayatollahs, grand muftis, sheikhs, and scholars – said 'the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians,' urgent language indicating a concern that tensions between the two faiths are in danger of spiraling out of control."
"The Muslim signatories are authoritative, representing all major schools of Islamic thought, as well as influential at the grass-roots level, say scholars of Islam."
"With its call for finding common ground in the foundational principles shared by the two faiths, the letter presents a significant counterweight to the voices of radical Islam on the global stage and is being heralded by Christian clergy and scholars as of historic import." 10-07
- Mounting State Debts (New York Times)
Financial analysts fear that "even when the economy recovers, the shortfalls will not disappear, because many state and local governments have so much debt — several trillion dollars’ worth, with much of it off the books and largely hidden from view — that it could overwhelm them in the next few years." 12-10
- NAACP Board: Marriage Equality Is a Civil Right (ABC News)
"NAACP President Benjamin Jealous says he hopes the group's support of same-sex marriage will urge blacks to support marriage equality as a civil right if the question is put to voters on the ballot in Maryland or other states."
"The NAACP's board voted on Saturday for a resolution in support of marriage equality." 05-12
- Nation's Top Accountant: The U.S. Is Headed for a Fiscal Catastrophe (ABC News)
"As Steve Kroft reports, David Walker is an accountant, the nation’s top accountant to be exact, the comptroller general of the United States. He has totaled up our government's income, liabilities, and future obligations and concluded the numbers simply don’t add up."
"David Walker is a prudent man and a highly respected public official. As comptroller general of the United States he runs he Government Accountability Office, the GAO, which audits the government's books and serves as the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress."
"Asked if he knows any politicians willing to raise taxes or cut back benefits, Walker says, 'I don't know politicians that like to raise taxes. I don't know politicians that like to cut spending, but I think what we have to recognize is this is not just about numbers. We are mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren at record rates, and that is not only an issue of fiscal irresponsibility, it's an issue of immorality.' " 03-07
- National Council of Churches: Torture Unacceptable (National Coucil of Churches)
"The General Assembly of the National Council of Churches USA and Church World Service commended the U.S. Senate’s 'anti-torture provisions' in the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill."
"But as the House of Representatives begins debate on the bill, some high ranking U.S. government officials have declined to support the provisions."
" 'As delegates to the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches USA and Church World Service, we find any and all use of torture unacceptable and contrary to U.S. and international legal norms,' the delegates said."
" 'We find it particularly abhorrent that our nation's law makers would fail to approve the pending legislation disavowing the use of torture by any entity on behalf of the United States government,' the statement said." 11-05
- Nuclear Energy Concerns (CNN News)
"As the United States prepares to build its first new nuclear power reactors in three decades, concerns about an early generation of plants have resurfaced since last year's disaster in Japan."
"The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant -- the subject of a battle between state authorities and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over its continued operation -- uses one of 23 U.S. reactors built with a General Electric-designed containment housing known as the Mark I."
"It's the same design that was used at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where three reactors melted down after the station was struck by the tsunami that followed Japan's historic earthquake in March 2011. The disaster resulted in the widespread release of radioactive contamination that forced more than 100,000 people from their homes." 02-12
- Obama as CEO (U.S. News)
"What's the president's job?"
"The Founding Fathers took a stab at this thorny question in Article II of the Constitution. They gave the president responsibility for commanding the armed forces, initiating treaties, appointing ambassadors and judges, keeping Congress informed of the state of the union, recommending legislation, and making sure 'that the Laws be faithfully executed.' "
"If Obama were a CEO, he'd be graded by shareholders on how efficiently he solved the immediate problem, fixed the flaws that caused it, compensated victims, and steered the company back toward a profitable future. He'd have to show leadership, but his mood wouldn't really matter. In the end it would all be about performance. 06-10
- Obama's Clean Energy Revolution (Time.com)
"Before President Obama took office, the U.S. had 25 gigawatts of wind power, and the government’s “base case” energy forecast expected 40 GW by 2030. Well, it’s not quite 2030 yet, but we’ve already got 50 GW of wind. We’ve also got about 5 GW of solar, which isn’t much but is over six times as much as we had before Obama. Mitt Romney has suggested that wind and solar are “imaginary” sources of energy, but they can now power 15 million homes, and their industries employ more than 300,000 Americans. That’s real." 08-12
- Orman: Pay off Credit Card Debt First (MSNBC News)
"The best way to insulate yourself is to get out of credit card debt once and for all. If you pay off your balance, you don’t have to worry about the interest rate on your card. If you pay off your balance, you are less likely to have your credit card limit reduced; and even if it is reduced, it will not have a negative impact on your FICO score." 01-09
- Political Ads Do Not Have a "Truth in Advertising" Obligation (Time.com)
"Candidates are not held to the same commercial standard, and the reason is simple: their statements and advertisements are considered 'political speech,' which falls under the protection of the First Amendment. The noble idea undergirding what otherwise seems like a political loophole is the belief that voters have a right to uncensored information on which to base their decisions. Too often, however, the result is a system in which the most distorted information comes from the campaigns themselves. "
"But it's not just that candidates are allowed to launch unfounded attacks against their opponents or make false claims about their own records. Broadcasters are actually obligated to run their ads, even those known to be false. Under the Federal Communications Act, a station can have a blanket policy of refusing all ads from all candidates. But they cannot single out and decline to air a particular commercial whose content they know to be a lie." 11-08
- Political Campaigns - Finances (Federal Election Commission)
Monitors and reports on contributions to political campaigns.
- Political Prodigies (Time.com)
Time selects 10 U.S. politicians, current and historical, as "prodigies." 10-10
- Poll: Obama Is America's Most Admired Man (USA Today)
"His party may have suffered a shellacking in November's elections, but President Obama remains the unchallenged champion on another front: For the third year in a row, he is by far the most admired man in America."
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues an even longer run, ranked in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll as the most admired woman for the ninth straight year. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is second, as she was in 2009." 12-10
- Poll: The Tea Party (CBS News)
"They're white. They're older. And they're angry."
"Sixty-three percent say they get the majority of their political and current events news on television from the Fox News Channel, compared to 23 percent of Americans overall." 04-10
- Predicting Your Politics (Science.Time.com)
Time Magazine asserts: "In the following interactive, we put together 12 questions that have a statistical correlation to a person’s political leanings, even if the questions themselves are seemingly apolitical. At the end of this (completely anonymous) quiz, we’ll use your responses to guess your politics." 01-14
- Presidential Personalities (American Psychological Association)
"As part of their The Personality and the President Project, psychologist Steven J Rubenzer, Ph.D., of Houston, Texas and co-authors Thomas Faschingbauer, Ph.D., of Richmond Texas and Deniz S. Ones, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota, used several objective personality instruments to analyze the assessments made by more than one hundred presidential experts who were instructed to assess the lives of presidents they studied. The experts were instructed to look only at the five-year period before their respective subject became president to avoid the influence that life in the White House might have had on their behavior."
"Results of the research indicate that great presidents, besides being stubborn and disagreeable, are more extraverted, open to experience, assertive, achievement striving, excitement seeking and more open to fantasy, aesthetics, feelings, actions, ideas and values. Historically great presidents were low on straightforwardness, vulnerability and order."
"Achievement striving was found to be one of the best correlates of greatness in the oval office and competence was also a big predictor of presidential success." 12-03
- Presidents and their Debts (New York Times)
"Any discussion about American presidents and economics has to begin with this discouraging word: American politicians don’t know anything about economics."
"When Reagan became president -- and began to cut taxes -- the federal deficit was 2.5 percent of the national economy. When he left, eight years later, the deficit was 5 percent of the economy. Interest payments on the debt jumped to $169 billion in 1988 from $69 billion in 1981. At the time, those were astonishing numbers, and they have exploded since.
"That’s where we are now." 07-11
- Public Opinion on Current Issues (Public Agenda Online)
Provides results of surveys of public opinion on key issues related to health, education, and other current concerns.
- Public Pension Funds Are $1 Trillion Short (CBS News)
"The slow economy in the U.S. is squeezing state budgets and many can't find the money to pay the pensions they've promised public employees. Nationwide, all together, public pension plans are $1 trillion short." 06-12
- Quiz: Differences Between Sunnis and Shiites (Christian Science Monitor)
Provides a quiz. 08-14
- Role of Media in Terrorism (Guardian Unlimited)
"Journalists must urgently debate whether their coverage of crises such as the hostage-taking in Iraq is driving terrorists to commit ever more outrageous atrocities, a top BBC executive said last night."
Editor's Note: The Awesome Library does not cover hostage-taking activities because coverage is necessary for terrorists to "gain full value" from their hostage-taking. Further, the Awesome Library staff strongly encourage other media not to cover hostage-taking events.
- Rules for Winning a Debate (CNN News)
Paul Begala provides his 10 recommendations for winning a debate. 10-08
- Selling Our Infrastructure to Foreign Investors? (New York Times)
"The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the United States needs to invest at least $1.6 trillion over the next five years to maintain and expand its infrastructure. Last year, the Federal Highway Administration deemed 72,000 bridges, or more than 12 percent of the country’s total, “structurally deficient.” But the funds to fix them are shrinking: by the end of this year, the Highway Trust Fund will have a several billion dollar deficit."
" 'We are facing an infrastructure crisis in this country that threatens our status as an economic superpower, and threatens the health and safety of the people we serve,' New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told Congress this year. In January he joined forces with Mr. Schwarzenegger and Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania to start a nonprofit group to raise awareness about the problem." 08-08
- Senate Changes Filibuster Rules on Approval of Nominees (NBC News)
"The vote overturned an existing rule that required a 60-vote majority for the approval of presidential nominees nominees. Now, just a simple majority will be required for executive branch and judicial nominees except for Supreme Court picks." 11-13
- States Are Broke (CNN News)
"The states are broke, and like many consumers, they're borrowing big time to get out of their fiscal binds." 07-10
- States in Economic Crisis (MSNBC News)
"With the economy in a slide and the housing market in crisis, states are collectively rolling up tens of billions of dollars in budget deficits in one of the worst financial crunches in the U.S. since the 1970s." 07-08
- Staying in Touch With Home (New York Times)
"Forget the drones, laser-guided bombs and eye-popping satellite imagery. For the average soldier, the most significant change to modern warfare might just boil down to instant chatting." 02-11
- Stiglitz: America No Longer "The Land of Opportunity" (CNN News)
"Over the last 30 years, the bottom 90 percent have seen their wages grow by about 15 percent, while those in the top 1 percent have seen incomes grow by 10 to 20 times that, according to Stiglitz."
"Stiglitz says unless we do something about the growing inequity, we’ll end up harming everyone — including the richest." 06-12
- Stories of Heroes and Goodness (MSNBC)
Provides uplifting stories.
- Study Compares Three Diets (Time.com)
"What the study suggests is that a calorie isn’t just a calorie. “It says that from a metabolic perspective all calories are not alike,” Ludwig told the Boston Globe. 'The quality of the calories going in affects the number of calories going out.' "
"Ludwig says the low-glycemic index diet represents a good 'middle ground' — it doesn’t drastically reduce any major nutrient, and instead focuses on including a wide variety of foods with high-quality nutrients — for maintaining weight loss."
"Some nutrition and weight loss researchers commenting on the new study qualified its results. In an interview with USA Today, Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University and author of Why Calories Count, noted, for example, that longer-term studies of people dieting in the real world (in contrast, the current study gave participants prepared food, much of which they ate at the hospital) showed little difference between different types of diets on weight loss and maintenance. The key is simply to eat less, she said." 06-12
- Study: CEOs Sometimes Do Well When Companies Go Bankrupt (MSNBC News)
"When companies go bankrupt, the misery is shared among many: Bond holders are wiped out, retirees see their pensions and benefits vanish, and employees lose their jobs."
"But some feel no pain at all: CEOs and other top executives of companies that go through Chapter 11 receive robust compensation in the form of salary, stock grants and other benefits."
"In some cases, they earn even more money than they did before the filing, even while other stakeholders suffer. It's the most unlikely fast-track to a fat payout ever, and it goes on in spite of federal legislation meant to crack down on corporate honchos feasting while everyone else fights over crumbs." 01-12
- Study: Immigrants Are a Small Percent of Prison Population (Time.com)
"Despite our melting-pot roots, Americans have often been quick to blame the influx of immigrants for rising crime rates. But new research released Monday shows that immigrants in California are, in fact, far less likely than U.S.-born Californians are to commit crime. While people born abroad make up about 35% of California's adult population, they account for only about 17% of the adult prison population, the report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) showed. Indeed, among men ages 18 to 40 — the demographic most likely to be imprisoned — those born in the U.S. were 10 times more likely than foreign-born men to be incarcerated." 02-08
- Study: Liquified Natural Gas May Be Worse than Coal (ThinkProgress.org)
"An explosive new report from the U.S. Department of Energy makes clear that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is likely a climate-destroying misallocation of resources."
"That is, if one uses estimates for methane leakage based on actual observations." 06-14
- Study: Water Shortages Threaten Western U.S. (CNN News)
"A shrinking snowpack in the Rocky Mountains may make it harder to slake the thirst of a growing population in the Western United States, according to new research from the U.S. government and several universities."
"The shrinking snowpack serves as a "bank account" for those river systems, which supply drinking water and electric power to more than 70 million people from the Pacific Coast to the upper Great Plains, said Greg Pederson, the study's lead researcher."
" 'In a nutshell, what you're seeing is synchronous, declining snowpacks across the West since the 1980s.' Based on the new study, the last time that pattern was seen as the mid-1300s to early 1400s, he said." 06-11
- The Argument for Children Fighting Back to Avoid Abduction (Time.com)
"Because even the most well-intentioned laws and the most protective parents have limits, Smart and other advocates are placing more focus on what kids can do themselves. But unlike the fear-mongering, 'stranger danger' campaigns of the 1980s — which told kids not to talk to strangers but did little else to help them learn how to escape potentially harmful situations — the focus now is on teaching kids to fight back. 'Twenty years ago we would have told kids to do what the [abductor] says and wait for someone to come help you,' says Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). 'We now say fight, scream, kick, bite, use whatever tools you have to attract attention to yourself.' " 06-12
- The Fed Loaned $9 Trillion to Largest Financial Institutions (CNN News)
"The Federal Reserve made $9 trillion in overnight loans to major banks and Wall Street firms during the financial crisis, according to newly revealed data released Wednesday."
"The loans were made through a special loan program set up by the Fed in the wake of the Bear Stearns collapse in March 2008 to keep the nation's bond markets trading normally." 12-10
- The Four Reform Themes of Pope Francis (Time.com)
"Pope Francis has been a reformer from day one of his papacy, and he has been reforming in ways many people may not have expected. The world has witnessed his compassionate, and yet quietly revolutionary, spirit from the moment he chose to be named after Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the poor. Now Pope Francis has given the first extensive interview of his new papacy, jointly published by La Civiltà Cattolica and America Magazine, and it is an in-depth look at his vision for the future of the Catholic Church. Here are four key takeaways from what he said."
- The New Math on Catastrophic Climate Change (BillMoyers.com)
"We’ve raised the earth’s temperature about one degree since the late 19th century, and that’s capable of causing the sort of short-term chaos we’re seeing around us now, as well as longer term effects: a third of the summer sea ice in the arctic is gone, the ocean is 30 percent more acidic and the atmosphere over the oceans is five percent wetter than usual. That’s what it looks like when you raise the temperature one degree. If we don’t get our act together very quickly, as I explain the Rolling Stone piece, it’s going to be two degrees, and really we’re on a trajectory right now that will take us to more like six degrees."
"The first number is two degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) — that’s the temperature increase that scientists and politicians have agreed represents the absolute furthest you’d ever want to go. The scientists have been saying that it’s too high, that we should really be stopping right where we are now. But governments are unwilling to do what that would require, so they’ve agreed in international conferences that two degrees will be the target for the planet. It’s the only thing that the world’s governments have agreed on about climate change."
"The second number is 565 gigatons — that’s about how much carbon dioxide we can put in the atmosphere by midcentury and have any realistic hope of staying below two degrees. We release about 30 gigatons a year."
"The third number — and the newest one in these calculations — is from a group of accountants and environmentalists in the UK who tried to find out how much carbon the world’s fossil fuel companies (and the countries that operate like fossil fuel companies) have in their reserves. That number is about 2,800 gigatons of carbon, or about five times the 565 gigatons we can put into the atmosphere and stay below two degrees."
"There’s a timeline between when you emit the carbon and how quickly the temperature goes up. Of course, if we were going to avert that, we’d need to take incredibly dramatic action right now. If we wait 14 years then it will be much too late." 11-12
- The Next 50 Years for the USA (CNN News)
"CNN: You also describe how the U.S. will become more economically competitive in the future. How do you -- this to Americans who have seen our current economy slide downward into a recession and aren't convinced about this prediction?"
"Kotkin: The U.S. has relatively younger demographics, which gives it a competitive advantage. This nation attracts people from all over the world, and that's what gives it global advantage; we have the potential to be energy sufficient. We are the only advanced country with a growing population, agricultural surplus, lots of raw materials, significant domestic energy. The nation is entrepreneurial in culture and has a reasonably stable political system. That doesn't mean that the U.S. will be a hegemonic global power, but I believe the economic condition, due to these factors, will definitely improve in the future and the census will reflect that." 07-10
- The Primary Care Doctor Shortage (Time.com)
"Less than 2% of current medical students are interested in general internal medicine and 4.9% in family care practice, says a study by Karen Hauer, M.D., published in the Journal of the American Medical Association." 08-10
- The White House (WhiteHouse.gov)
Provides information from the White House. "WhiteHouse.gov will be a central part of President Obama's pledge to make his the most transparent and accountable administration in American history." 01-09
- The Working Poor and a Living Wage (Truth-Out.org)
"Millions of people in the US work and are still poor. Here are eight points that show why the US needs to dedicate itself to making work pay."
"In 2011, the US Department of Labor reported at least 10 million people worked and were still below the unrealistic official US poverty line, an increase of 1.5 million more than the last time they checked. The US poverty line is $18,530 for a mom and two kids. Since 2007 the numbers of working poor have been increasing. About 7 percent of all workers and 4 percent of all full-time workers earn wages that leave them below the poverty line." 01-12
- U.S. Water Distribution System Breaking Down (CNN News)
"Critical water pipelines are breaking from coast to coast, triggered by this summer's record high temperatures. It's not a phenomenon or coincidence, experts say. It's a clear sign that Americans should brace for more water interruptions, accompanied by skyrocketing water bills."
"The heat wave of the past few weeks has burst hundreds of crucial pipes in California, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Kentucky and New York, temporarily shutting off water to countless consumers just when they needed it most."
"It underscores the fact that much of the nation's underground water lines are 80 to 100 years old -- and approaching the end of their lives." 08-11
- Websites to Brighten Your Day (CNN News)
"Despite its haters and trolls, the massive realm of the internet still has enough bright spots to improve any dark mood. Here are eight websites that feature positive and uplifting stories for people like Burke. Or you."
"Who knows? They may even help renew your faith in the goodness of the human experience." 08-10
- White House Power vs. Individual Constitutional Rights (Christian Science Monitor)
"At issue is whether the White House has the power to keep an alleged victim from seeking redress in US courts."
"The [federal] judge threw out the [Masri] suit on state-secrets grounds, and a federal appeals court panel upheld the dismissal on the same grounds."
"In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Masri is asking the justices to examine whether the government properly invoked the state-secrets privilege or simply used the privilege to avoid being held accountable for alleged torture and other illegal and unconstitutional activities."
" 'The whole reason for the court system is to protect individual rights that wouldn't be protected in the political process,' says Amanda Frost, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, who also teaches at American University's Washington School of Law." 09-07
- Who Are the 50 Percent Who Pay No Income Taxes? (DMarron.com)
"The number one reason should come as no surprise. It’s because they have low incomes."
"The second reason is that for many senior citizens, Social Security benefits are exempt from federal income taxes."
"The third reason is that America uses the tax code to provide benefits to low-income families, particularly those with children."
"These three factors "account for almost 90% of the Americans who pay no federal income tax." 05-12
- Who's Paying for Climate Change Deniers? (Time.com)
"Fossil-fuel companies like Exxon and Peabody Energy — which obviously have a business interest in slowing any attempt to reduce carbon emissions — have combined with traditionally conservative corporate groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and conservative foundations like the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity, to raise doubts about the basic validity of what is, essentially, a settled scientific truth. That message gets amplified by conservative think tanks — like the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute — and then picked up by conservative media outlets on the Internet and cable TV." 10-11
- Why Downgrading European Currency Matters (Time.com)
"Rating agencies have just downgraded the economic outlook for seven European countries. Does that really matter, or is it just acknowledging problems that everyone already knows about?"
"No matter how widely recognized a country’s problems are, bad financial news is cumulative. Perceptions about creditworthiness vary incrementally across a broad spectrum and each time a credit rating is reduced or an economic outlook is questioned, the needle moves a little bit further toward the danger zone. That makes bond buyers demand slightly higher interest rates to compensate for a slightly greater chance of losing their money."
"In addition, potential bond buyers sometimes have to worry about legal requirements or customers’ reactions. If an international bond fund needs to keep the average risk of its portfolio at a certain level, the fund will reduce its holdings of bonds that are downgraded. Indeed, in some cases institutional investors may be required by their own internal rules to hold only bonds that have certain minimum credit ratings." 12-11
- Wolff: Global Food System Can't Survive (CNN News)
"As the nation marks World Hunger Relief Week, more people are asking: Why are so many people starving and what, if anything, can be done to eradicate hunger?"
"Wolff thinks hunger can be conquered. Her group produces 'Medika Mamba,' energy dense, peanut butter food that's designed to ensure Haitian children survive childhood. Medika Mamba is easy to make, store, preserve and distribute, she says."
"Patel says '2008 was a record year in terms of harvest. There's more food per person in 2008 than there's ever been in history. The problem is not food, but how we distribute it.' " 11-08
- Women Gaining Political Power (CNN News)
"Shirley Chisholm, elected in 1968 as the first black woman in the U.S. Congress, once said: 'I've always met more discrimination being a woman than being black.' "
"In the House, 10 new congresswomen will join the 64 incumbents who were re-elected, according to Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics, bringing the number of women in the 435-seat body to a record 74. The 100-member U.S. Senate gained one woman, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who became the 17th female senator." 11-08
- Woodward: Surge Success Greatly Caused by Secret Program (CNN News)
"The dramatic drop in violence in Iraq is due in large part to a secret program the U.S. military has used to kill terrorists, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward." 09-08
- Worst Presidents (U.S. News)
"Credit, or blame, for the first scholarly ranking of the presidents usually goes to Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr., who conducted a poll for Life magazine in 1948. He asked 55 specialists in American history to rate the presidents as great, near great, average, below average, or failure. Claiming the cellar of that list were Warren G. Harding and, in ascending order, Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Calvin Coolidge, John Tyler, Benjamin Harrison, and Herbert Hoover." 05-08
- -01 Support National Service to Create One Million New Jobs (OneMillionNewJobs.org)
"Our country needs nurses, teachers, disaster relief workers, park restoration, infrastructure repair, and more. Yet 1 in 2 young Americans are currently jobless or underemployed." 10-12
- -06-29-12 Quiz on the Affordable Health Care Act (Christian Science Monitor)
Provides a quiz. 06-12
- -07-20-13 Editorial: Ban the Pesticide That Is Killing Bees? (CBS News)
"Last month, 50,000 bumble bees died after trees in Wilsonville, Oregon were sprayed with dinotefuran, the neonicotinoid ingredient in Safari pesticide. This was the largest bee die-off ever recorded."
"With bee populations declining across the around the country at an alarming rate, I urge you to support the "Save America's Pollinators Act" to restrict the use of these chemicals until we can be assured that they are safe and being used properly."
"From flowers to chocolate, berries to tequila, pollinators are integral to the planet, economy, and many aspects of our lives. In fact, the USDA estimates that about one in every three bites of food is either directly or indirectly made possible because of bee pollination. Both our environment and food supply are inextricably tied to the welfare of bees, making the decrease in bee population a cause for great alarm." 07-13
- -11-28-12 Republican vs Democratic Tax Plan Calculations (TaxPolicyCenter.org)
"The easiest way to see the effects of tax policy changes is to select and compare our sample taxpayers." 11-12
- Cap and Trade Game (MSNBC News)
Game simulates "cap and trade" to reduce air pollution. Editor's Note: The designers of the game assume that the cost for reducing emissions may always be high. 11-09
- Homes for Our Troops (HomesforOurTroops.org)
Builds specially adapted homes for severely disabled veterans. 04-08
- New Voters Project (NewVotersProject.org)
Provides activities to help "reengage young people in the political process. Over 28 million eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 years old could be a powerful voting bloc in the upcoming elections." 04-08
- Using Editorial Cartoons to Teach Current Events (Cagle.com)
"This is the Teachers' Guide for using the Professional Cartoonists Index web site in your classes. We have developed lesson plans for using the editorial cartoons as a teaching tool in Social Sciences, Art, Journalism and English at all levels --click on the icons to the left to visit our lesson plans." 04-08
- Writing to the Media - Contacts (Congress.org)
Provides information for writing letters to the editors and other media campaigns. 7-05