Showing posts from September, 2017

Today's Trumpery


Record inequality: The top 1% controls 38.6% of America's wealth

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[The Gap has never been greater. The 1% own twice as much as the bottom 90% *RON*]

Matt Egan, CNN Money, 27 September 2017
Melinda Gates: Tax the rich to pay for services
America's inequality problem is getting worse.

The richest 1% of families controlled a record-high 38.6% of the country's wealth in 2016, according to a Federal Reserve report published on Wednesday.

That's nearly twice as much as the bottom 90%, which has seen its slice of the pie continue to shrink.

The bottom 90% of families now hold just 22.8% of the wealth, down from about one-third in 1989 when the Fed started tracking this measure.

The numbers paint a stark picture of the inequality problems gripping the country and the ability of politicians, like President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, to attract voters by arguing that the system is "rigged" in favor of the rich.

Even the Fed acknowledged in the report that the distribution of wealth has "gr…

A pile of trash in the ocean has grown to the size of France—and some people want it recognized as a nation

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["The project is the brainchild of advertising professionals Michael Hughes and Dalatando Almeida, according to AdWeek. Designer Mario Kerkstra helped create a flag, a passport, currency (called debris), and stamps." See also: Even your sea salt is almost certainly contaminated with plastic; or, The Climate Change Land Rush: When Will People Start Leaving Coastal Cities?; or, Something in the water: life after mercury poisoning. RON*]
Akshat Rathi, Quartz, 18 September 2017
There’s a country-sized problem in the north Pacific Ocean: a patch of trash has grown to the size of France. So the environmental charity Plastic Oceans Foundation has paired up with the news and entertainment publication LadBible to campaign for it to be recognized as an official country.

The campaign claims that, under Article 1 of the 1993 Montevideo Convention on the rights and duties of states, a country must be able to: define a territory, form a government, i…

Toronto Has World’s Highest Risk Of A Housing Bubble Burst: UBS

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[Some argue the city's bubble has already burst. See also: Sliding Prices Wreak Havoc In Toronto's Housing Market; and Toronto Houses Are Losing Value At A Rate Of $100,000 A Month. *RON*]
Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post, 28 September 2017

Toronto is the number-one city in the world ... when it comes to risk of a housing bubble bursting.

That's according to Swiss bank UBS's annual global real estate bubble index, which also ranked Vancouver as the city with the fourth-highest risk of a housing bubble.

The ranking looks at 20 major cities worldwide, and assesses each city's risk of a bubble, which UBS defines as "a substantial and sustained mispricing of an asset, the existence of which cannot be proved unless it bursts."

The bank noted that Toronto's inflation-adjusted house prices have doubled in 13 years, while incomes have risen only 10 per cent. Until this spring, prices had been rising in double digits, often a …

How One Syrian Fought to the Death for a Free Internet

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[At least 17,723 Syrians have died in custody. Since 2011, more than 65,000 people have disappeared.  “I want Bassel to be an inspiration for Syria’s youth. We should not give up on our rights to live in safety and freedom,” Saad al-Deen says. “I wish everyone would learn from him and his faith in change.” Della Ratta agrees. “We need people in the Middle East to stay resilient, as Bassel was,” she says. People are still sharing some of his tweets, she says, pointing out one in particular: “They can’t stop us #Syria” *RON*]

Alice Su, Wired, 27 September 2017

In 2003, when Jon Phillips was 24, he met someone who changed everything about how he perceived the world. At the time, Phillips was a graduate student in computer science and visual art at the University of California, San Diego. Rather than work for a big tech company, as most of his friends were doing, he wanted to use his computing skills to “build society and community.” So he turned to …

'My parents say hurry up and find a girl': China's millions of lonely 'leftover men'

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[The direct result of a one-child policy combined with selective abortion. Sad on an individual level and potentially disastrous on a national level. By 2020 there will be 30 million more young men than women in China. In a one-party state that values social stability above all, this disaffected and frustrated element of the population is cause for concern. *RON*]

Wanning Sun, The Guardian, 28 September 2017

When Liu returned to his childhood village to celebrate Chinese New Year, his parents had arranged a familiar and depressing task for him: a series of speed dates. Over a week back in rural Jiangxi province, he met half a dozen potential wives in encounters he says felt more like job interviews. He expects to go through the same process next year, without much hope of success.

For Jin, who works with Liu in the factories of China’s Pearl River Delta, the cajoling matchmaker was his second cousin. “My cousin brought [the date] to meet me in …

Today's Trumpery

[Welcome to the monkey house. A daily pastiche of Trumpisms and responses thereto. *RON*]

Michael Hayden Said of NFL Protest Dispute 'Put Me Down with Kaepernick'?, Snopes [True. 4-star general: "I know something about patriotism... put me down with Kapernick"]

Profits vs. Puerto Rican Lives: Trump Admin Blocks Aid from Reaching Devastated Island, Democracy Now! [Before... ]

Trump waives Jones Act shipping restrictions for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, USA Today [After. Finally shamed/cowed into doing the right thing]

Acting DEA chief tells employees he will step down, PBS Newshour [Long-standing Trump critic]

Bombardier: May 'bitterly disappointed' as US tariff puts jobs at risk, The Guardian [Puts many American jobs at risk]

Consumer Survey Shows Two-Thirds Oppose FCC's Plan to Destroy Free and Open Internet, Common Dreams

Deconstructing Anti-intellectualism

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[It's a ploy of populism to draw false distinctions between 'intellectuals' and 'the people.' The populist pretends to speak for 'the people' (as if 'the people' was some homogeneous mass) and can thereby denigrate informed and thoughtful discourse, replacing it with slogans. *RON*]

ALEX ETL, SEP 25 2017, 165 VIEWS The year 2016 offered a series of shocking political events, culminating in the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump. Observers from across the globe tried to interpret these developments from different angles. The outcome of their work has been a number of newly emerging concepts adapted in order to make meaning out of the current state of affairs. Terms like ‘post-truth era,’ ‘filter bubble,’ and ‘anti-intellectualism’ entered the explanatory jargon of experts, analysts, and journalists. This article takes up one of these linguistic constructs – ‘anti-intellectualism’ – and aims to p…

1 in 2 Abortions Worldwide Are Unsafe

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[Women around the globe are having millions of risky abortions every year, a new study has found. "The vast majority of “less safe” and “least safe” abortions take place in Africa, Asia and Latin America" though America continues to take massive strides backwards under Trump. *RON*]
Catherine Pearson, Huffington Post, 28 September 2017

More than 55 million abortions take place worldwide every year, and nearly half of those ― a whopping 25.5 million abortions annually ― are unsafe, according to a new study released Wednesday.

The research offers evidence that women around the world continue to have abortions even when they live in areas where trained providers are scant and where the procedure is illegal.

But it does not have to be that way.

“Making abortion safe is incredibly simple,” study author Dr. Bela Ganatra, a researcher with the World Health Organization (WHO), told HuffPost. “It can be integrated into basic health care. It’s not…

Facing poverty, academics turn to sex work and sleeping in cars

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[Let's not forget that this has been building through the last half-dozen presidencies. Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty. Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures. "I love the poorly educated!" *RON*]
Alastair GeeThe Guardian, 28 September 2017

There is nothing she would rather do than teach. But after supplementing her career with tutoring and proofreading, the university lecturer decided to go to remarkable lengths to make her career financially viable.

She first opted for her side gig during a particularly rough patch, several years ago, when her course load was suddenly cut in half and her income plunged, putting her on the brink of eviction. “In my mind I was like, I’ve had one-night stands, how bad can it be?” she said. “And it wasn’t that bad.”

The wry but weary-sounding middle-aged woman, who lives in a large US city and asked to remain a…

A new “Indian register” for Indigenous DNA?

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[More reflection is needed on the missing persons DNA program and what it means for the state surveillance and management of Indigenous people. The concern is that Aboriginal people aren't asking for the DNA bank - their genomes are being gathered 'for their own good' - and worries about how the information might be used in future - mission creep. *RON*]

Jessica Kolopenuk, Policy Options, 28 September 2017

Science policy is divided into two central domains: science for policy, which pertains to the policy infrastructure and uses of scientific knowledge in government decision-making (for example, “evidence-based decision making,” or science advice), and policy for science, which deals with the roles of research and the creation of knowledge in a given society (such as funding research and universities). What’s missing is an analysis of how governments use science and technology to directly govern their citizens.

A highly notable example…