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Showing posts from September 23, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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Want Proof that Corporate Money Influences Politicians? This New Study Has It.

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[Corruption and regulatory capture in US politics. It really is no coincidence that the members of Congress who receive the most money from Wall Street are also the most hands-off on regulating it. *RON*]
Charles Austin, In These Times, 22 September 2017
Politicians may boast about their personal integrity as a bulwark against corruption, but the influence of political spending is far-reaching, murky and often shapes real legislative outcomes.

Ask just about any politician whether financial contributions influence their decision making and you will hear that they’re entirely incorruptible.

Take Hillary Clinton. At a February 2016 town hall with CNN, the then-presidential-hopeful said she accepted$675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs because, “that’s what they offered.” She went on to explain why this corporate cash wouldn’t have any impact on her decision-making anyway. “Anybody who knows me, who thinks that they can influence me, name anyt…

Outlets That Scolded Sanders Over Deficits Uniformly Silent on $700B Pentagon Handout

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[The increase alone in Trump's military budget would pay for free college education for everyone in the United States, forever. The F35 jet program alone would pay for college for all for more than two decades. *RON*]

Adam Johnson, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, 21 September 2017


$70 billion a year seemed like a lot of money when all it would pay for was college education (Fox News Insider, 2/6/16).

Where did all the concern over deficits go? After two years of the media lamenting, worrying and feigning outrage over the cost of Bernie Sanders’ two big-budget items—free college and single-payer healthcare—the same outlets are uniformly silent, days after the largest military budget increase in history.

Monday, the Senate voted to increase military spending by a whopping $81 billion, from $619 billion to $700 billion—an increase of over 13 percent. (The House passed its own $696 billion Pentagon budget in July—Politico, 7/14/17.) The reactio…

The U.S. Opioid Epidemic

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["Opioid addiction in the United States has reached epidemic proportions, threatening not only public health but economic output and national security." True, but have you noticed that when it comes to crack cocaine - primarily used in the Black community - the only issue is "Shouldn't the jail sentences be longer?" As against, "the vast majority of those who overdose on opioids are non-Hispanic white Americans" As against the photo they chose to accompany this article. *RON*]

Claire Felter, Council on Foreign Relations, 14 September 2017

Introduction

The United States is grappling with one of its worst-ever drug crises. More than six hundred people a week die from opioid-related overdoses, and some experts say the death toll may not peak for years. Meanwhile, millions more Americans suffer from opioid addiction.

The crisis has reached such a scale that, beyond the risks it poses to public health, it is becoming…

Opening the black boxes: algorithmic bias and the need for accountability

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["Particularly egregious is the fact that the company is claiming that its right to maintain a supposed trade secret outweighs the accused’s right to a fair trial... we run the risk of turning algorithms into black boxes whose results we are forced to accept, but whose workings we may not query. In particular, we won’t know what personal information has been used in the decision-making process, and thus how our privacy is being affected." *RON*]

Glyn MoodyPrivacy Online News, 21 September 2017

Here on Privacy News Online we’ve written a number of stories about the privacy implications of DNA. There’s an important case going through the Californian courts at the moment that involves DNA and privacy, but whose ramifications go far beyond those issues:
“In this case, a defendant was linked to a series of rapes by a DNA matching software program called TrueAllele. The defendant wants to examine how TrueAllele takes in a DNA sample and ana…

Insanely Concentrated Wealth Is Strangling Our Prosperity

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[Good article and worth it just for that first graph! Today's mountains of wealth throttle the very engine of wealth creation itself. *RON*]
Steve Roth, Evonomics, 18 September 2017

Remember Smaug the dragon, in The Hobbit? He hoarded up a vast pile of wealth, and then he just hung out in his cave, sitting on it (with occasional forays to further pillage and immolate the local populace).

That’s what you should think of when you consider the mind-boggling hoards of wealth that the very rich have amassed in America over the last forty years. The picture at right only shows the very tippy-top of the scale. In 1976 the richest people had $35 million each (in 2014 dollars). In 2014 they had $420 million each — a twelvefold increase. You can be sure it’s gotten even more extreme since then.
Bottom (visible) pink line is the top 10%.

These people could spend $20 million every year and they’d still just keep getting richer, forever, even if they did ab…