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Chris Christie's New Jersey Nightmare: Why Economic Recovery Hasn't Touched the Garden State

January 15, 2015 in Blogs

By Robert Hennelly, Salon

Half of his state's residents want to leave. Now, this man wants to be president?

Late in October of 2009, New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie used the Ridgewood Moving Company in Mahwah to stage a campaign event headlined by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The cavernous warehouse was packed floor to ceiling with shrink wrapped pallets holding the possessions of dozens of families leaving New Jersey. It vividly symbolized the thousands of Jersey households that made the same decision that year to pull up stakes in hopes of a brighter future anywhere else.

The site was a compelling backdrop for Christie’s core campaign message. He was the candidate most likely to staunch the trend that had become so pronounced since the state’s congressional delegation shrank from 15 seats in the ’70s to 12. In his debating the incumbent Jon Corzine, he used the well documented Jersey diaspora, which separates grandparents from their grandchildren and parents from their children, like a rhetorical two-by-four.

“People are leaving the state in droves, businesses are leaving this state in droves and taking their jobs with them. That’s why we have the worst unemployment rate in 33 years,” Christie charged.

Scroll forward six years, as Gov. Christie is set to give his second state of the state in his second term, and the exodus continues — and for good reason. According to United Van Lines’ annual analysis of national migration data, they booked 4,003 outbound moves from Jersey but posted only 2,169 incoming. 2014 was the fourth time in the last five years that New Jersey topped the nation for out migration according to United Van Lines.

Late last year a Monmouth University/ Asbury Park Press poll found that half of the New Jersey residents surveyed wanted to leave the state more than five years after Christie was first elected. In the survey of 802 adults 54 percent identified the state’s cost of living and tax burden as the primary driver for their desire to relocate.

Even more disconcerting for the state’s future is that those most likely to want to leave, according to the survey, are people still …read more


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What Is Genetic Sexual Attraction? Woman Describes Sexual Relationship With Her Father

January 15, 2015 in Blogs

By Jenny Kutner, Salon

Genetic Sexual Attraction is a phenomenon more prevalent than you'd think. Science of Us found one woman's story.

Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA) is a term used to describe intense, almost obsessive romantic and sexual feelings that estranged relatives often feel for each other upon reunion — yes, I said “often.” According to the Guardian, “50% of reunions between siblings, or parents and offspring, separated at birth” result in GSA — a much higher proportion than one might expect, especially given the dearth of research on these relationships. Science of Us notes that the most underreported of all GSA relationships is between biological fathers and daughters, which are often scrutinized for power dynamics similar to many abusive relationships. So, naturally, the blog went ahead and found a young woman who is “dating her dad” to hear her side of things.

Science of Us spoke with an 18-year-old “from the Great Lakes region” who has been in a serious relationship with her previously estranged father for two years. The two are engaged to be married, but did not see each other for 12 years before they reunited; the woman explains that when they first saw each other, when she was 16, their attraction was immediate:

It was so weird and confusing. I was seeing my dad for the first time in forever but it was also like, He’s so good-looking! And then I was like, What the hell are you thinking? What is wrong with you? I saw him as my dad but then also part of me was like, I’m meeting this guy who I have been talking to over the internet and really connecting with and I find him attractive.

The two began a sexual relationship within the first few days they were together:

We stopped and said that we didn’t know what was going on but admitted that we had strong feelings for each other. We discussed whether it was wrong and then we kissed. And then we made out, and then we made love for the first time. That was when I lost my virginity.

Did you tell him you were a virgin?

Yes. …read more


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Christian Mom Alarmed That School Bus Tail Lights Form ‘Pagan’ Pentagram

January 15, 2015 in Blogs

By David Ferguson, Raw Story

Tennessee mother wants those lights removed, fearing the presence of the occult.

A Christian mom in Cordova, Tennessee is worried that occult influences are lurking in her town and showing their presence in the unlikeliest of places, the red tail lights of local school buses.

Memphis’ Action News 5 reported Wednesday that Robyn Wilkins snapped a photo of the tail lights while she sat behind a bus in traffic. To her, the pattern of tiny light bulbs under each brake light’s red plastic lens looked like inverted five-pointed stars, which form the ancient symbol of the pentagram when enclosed by a circle.

“Anyone who fears a God, if not God and Jesus Christ, should be outraged,” the worried mother told Channel 5.

Pentagrams are a sacred symbol to various ancient faiths. Some Satanists and occultists have adopted it as their holy symbol, but other faiths use it as well.

Wilkins and other concerned parents have taken to social media to protest the brake lights, which they say constitute a sacred symbol emblazoned on a government vehicle.

“If you can’t put a cross on there, you cannot put a pentagram on it,” said Wilkins.

She believes the lights should be removed from the buses and replaced with a single red bulb.

The Shelby County School District declined to comment to Channel 5 about the brake lights.

Watch video about this story, embedded below:

WMC Action News 5 – Memphis, Tennessee

Related Stories

…read more


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Did Gitmo "Suicides" Cover Up Murder? U.S. Sgt. Speaks Out on Deaths & Prison’s Secret CIA Site

January 15, 2015 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now!

A Guantánamo staff sergeant has written a new book about three prisoner deaths that happened in 2006.

In a month marking its 13th anniversary, we look at one of the great mysteries of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay: what happened the night of June 9, 2006, when three prisoners died. The Pentagon said the three — Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, Salah Ahmed al-Salami and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi — all committed suicide. But were they actually actually tortured to death at a secret CIA black site at the base? In a broadcast exclusive, we are joined by Joseph Hickman, a Guantánamo staff sergeant and author of the new book, “Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantánamo Bay.” We are also joined by professor Mark Denbeaux, director of Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research, which has just published the new report, “Guantánamo: America’s Battle Lab.”

Below is an interview with Hickman, followed by a transcript:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thirteen years ago this month, the United States opened its notorious prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. At its peak, nearly 800 men were held there. Today the prison population has dipped to 122. On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced five more prisoners — all of them Yemeni — would be released. Four of the men were transferred to Oman, and the fifth to Estonia. Today, we are going to look at one of the great mysteries of Guantánamo; what happened on the night of June 9, 2006 when three prisoners died there. Authorities at Guantánamo said the three men, Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, Salah Ahmed al-Salami and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi, all committed suicide. The commander at Guantánamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, described their deaths as an “act of asymmetrical warfare.”

ADMIRAL HARRY HARRIS: They are smart. They are creative. They are committed. Have no regard for life, neither ours, nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, rather an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us.

AMY GOODMAN: But, many questions about the night …read more


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When Parents Are Criminalized: Couple In Trouble for Letting Their Kids Walk Unsupervised

January 15, 2015 in Blogs

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

Authorities tell parents they may lose their kids; tell kids a stranger will grab them.

A Maryland couple is in trouble with law authorities because they let their kids to walk around the neighborhood without hovering over them.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv say that their neighbors have called the local police and Child Protective Services because their children, ages 10 and 6, have been spotted walking to two area playgrounds without adult supervision. One playground is a mile away from the Meitiv’s home in Silver Springs, while the other is just two blocks down.

In a letter to, Danielle Meitiv recalls a December 20 incident involving the police:

“On a Saturday afternoon in December, my husband, Alexander, gave our kids permission to walk home from the local playground. I was out of town at the time. When they'd walked about halfway, a Montgomery County Police patrol car pulled up. A 'helpful' neighbor had called 911 to report unaccompanied children walking outside. Our kids were brought home in a police cruiser.

At the door the police officer asked to see my husband's ID, but did not explain why. When he refused, she called for backup.  

A total of six patrol cars showed up.”

The Meitivs say that law enforcement authorities and social services representatives have questioned their children while at school, and without their knowledge or consent and that the investigation infringes on their rights as parents to raise their children in a manner that they see fit. The parents also say the authorities asked their 10-year-old son what he would do if seized by a strange adult. According to Alexander Meitiv, they told his son that “there are creeps out there that are just waiting to grab children if they're walking by themselves.”

Since the school visit, Montgomery County Child Protective Services have visited the Meitiv’s at their home and asked them to sign paperwork, which the Meitiv’s said was called a “safety plan” pledging they would not leave their children unsupervised. When the Meitivs refused to sign the papers without it being reviewed by …read more


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What about the Ruble?

January 15, 2015 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke


Steve H. Hanke

The Russian ruble ended 2014 in bad shape. Not as bad as the Ukrainian hryvnia or the Venezuelan bolivar, but bad, nevertheless. For most of 2014, Russia faced an ever-increasing ratcheting up of economic sanctions. These set the stage for what was to come late in the year: the collapse of oil prices and the announcement on November 10th that the ruble would be allowed to float. When combined, these three ingredients created a perfect storm.

In the storm, the ruble fell like a stone. In addition to witnessing most of the ruble’s purchasing power vanish, the Russians saw the volatility of their currency explode, reflecting the increased uncertainty of the ruble’s course. Not a pretty picture (see the accompanying chart). But, one that can be brought into some focus by reflecting on analogies with the Indonesian financial crisis of 1997-98.

On August 14, 1997, shortly after the Thai baht collapsed on July 2, Indonesia floated the rupiah. This prompted Stanley Fischer, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, to proclaim that “the management of the IMF welcomes the timely decision of the Indonesian authorities. The floating of the rupiah, in combination with Indonesia’s strong fundamentals, supported by prudent fiscal and monetary policies, will allow its economy to continue its impressive economic performance of the last several years.”

If Russia wants to avoid further ruble turmoil, it should tether the ruble tightly to the U.S. dollar.”

Contrary to the IMF’s expectations, the rupiah did not float on a sea of tranquility. It plunged from 2,700 rupiahs per U.S. dollar at the time of the float to lows of nearly 16,000 rupiahs per U.S. dollar in 1998. Indonesia was caught up in the maelstrom of the Asian crisis.

By late January 1998, President Suharto realized that the IMF medicine was not working and sought a second opinion. In February, I was invited to offer that opinion and began to operate (pro bono as usual) as Suharto’s Special Counselor. Although I did not have any opinions on the Suharto government, I did have definite ones on the matter at hand. After the usual open discussions at the President’s private residence, I proposed as an antidote an orthodox currency board in which the rupiah would be fully convertible into the U.S. dollar at a fixed exchange rate. On the day that news hit the street, the rupiah soared by …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Minimum Wage Hikes Reduced Employment of Low-Skilled Workers

January 15, 2015 in Economics

By Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

It’s very frustrating to write about the minimum wage. How often can you make the elementary observation, after all, that you’ll get more unemployment if you try to make businesses pay some workers more than they’re worth?

But it’s my mission to promote economic liberty, so I’ve written on why government-mandated wages can create unemploymentby making it unprofitable to hire people with low work skills and/or poor work histories. And I’ve attacked Republicans for going along with these job-killing policies, and also pointed out the racist impact of such intervention.

Heck, just about everything sensible that needs to be said about the topic is contained in this short video narrated by Orphe Divougny

But I guess I’m the Sisyphus of the free-market movement because, once again, I’m going to try to talk some sense into those who think emotion can trump real-world economics.

Understanding ‘unintended consequences’ is a key characteristic of a good economist.”

Let’s start by citing some new research.

States are allowed to increase minimum wages above the federal level. This creates interesting opportunities to measure what happens to employment when the national minimum wage is increased, since the change presumably doesn’t impact states that already are at or above that level.

Two economists from the University of California at San Diego took advantage of this natural experiment and examined employment changes in states that were “bound” and “unbound” by the law.

“…we find that minimum wage increases significantly reduced the employment of low-skilled workers.  By the second year following the $7.25 minimum’s implementation, we estimate that targeted workers’ employment rates had fallen by 6 percentage points (8%) more in ‘bound’ states than in ‘unbound’ states.  …Over the late 2000s the average effective minimum wage rate rose by nearly 30% across the United States.  Our best estimate is that these minimum wage increases reduced the employment of working-age adults by 0.7 percentage points.  This accounts for 14% of the employment rate’s total decline over this time period and amounts to 1.4 million workers.  A disproportionate 45% of the affected workers were young adults (aged 15 to 24).”

Gee, what a surprise. Fewer jobs.

But the mandated hike in wages didn’t just reduce employment.

There were also negative effects on income.

“We find that binding minimum wage increases reduced low-skilled individuals’ average monthly incomes.  Targeted workers’ average incomes fell by an average of $100 over the first year and by …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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College for All Would Set Many up for Trouble

January 15, 2015 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

Say not everyone should go to college, and you’re heading for a world of rhetorical hurt. “How dare you consign people to second-class citizenship,” you’ll be angrily queried. “That’s just an excuse to leave kids behind,” you’ll hear. But whether you think everyone is college material or not, reality is inescapable: The economy simply can’t handle an America full of degrees. Not even close.

Some simple facts about college and the economy should cause everyone, no matter what they want reality to be, to pause and think.

The first reality is that huge percentages of people who enter college, for everything from certificate programs to bachelor’s degrees, likely don’t finish. There are many reasons for this, but the end result is the same: millions of people have been encouraged to go to college who haven’t gotten what they expected or wanted. And it has cost both the students and taxpayers a whole lot of money.

The economy simply can’t handle an America full of degrees. Not even close.”

Okay. But if you finish, everything is Easy Street, right? Hardly.

In 2012, 44 percent of those who had just completed a four-year degree ended up in jobs that didn’t require their credential, and typically a third of all bachelor’s holders are underemployed. And while a degree may help the holder to advance farther or faster than someone without one, the New York Fed recently reported that the effects of “underemployment” have been getting worse, not better, over the last couple of decades. So on top of the millions who enter but don’t finish college are millions more who finish but reap little benefit from having gone.

Then there’s credential inflation. As the number of sheepskins has risen we’ve seen declines in time spent studyingdropping literacy among people with degrees, and employers calling for degrees for jobs that haven’t typically needed them or appreciably changed. Taken together, higher education appears to be delivering less learning per graduate while employers are increasingly using degree-holding as a basic signal of candidate value. And that signal appears to be more “there must be something wrong with this guy” for someone without a degree than “this person must be very good” for someone with one.

Of course, credential inflation is a strong economic argument for any given person to go to college; you have to just to keep pace. Economy-wide, however, it screams “stop the insanity!” …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Terminating the Department of Homeland Security

January 15, 2015 in Economics

Many Americans are understandably worried about terrorism and domestic security. But a much smaller and more focused set of homeland security agencies would deal with the threats we face more effectively and efficiently. A leaner array of federal security and intelligence agencies would also be less likely to encroach on state responsibilities, and less able to undermine our personal freedoms.

…read more


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Nuns Gone Bad: A Lurid Tale of a Lesbian Nun Sex Gang

January 15, 2015 in Blogs

By Laura Miller, Salon

The true story of a lesbian cult in a Roman convent in the 1800s is a lesson in religion and the abuse of power.

In the summer of 1859, a desperate nun in the Roman convent of Sant’Ambrogio sent a letter to her kinsman, a bishop in the Vatican. She pleaded with him to rescue her, claiming that she had been the target of several poisonings and was in mortal danger. When her cousin the bishop answered her call and arrived at Sant’Ambrogio, he promised to rescue her and soon delivered on that promise. From his estate in Tivoli, the relieved but traumatized Katharina von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen began to draft a denunciation of her one-time sisters back in Rome. It was an accusation more lurid than any popular anti-clerical satire, full of sexual transgressions, heretical practices and homicidal schemes. Furthermore, the case against the convent of Sant’Ambrogio had tendrils that climbed up to the highest reaches of the Church and entwined around the great Catholic controversies of the day.

Hubert Wolf’s “The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio” offers a learned yet fascinating account of this incident — little known because the Vatican kept most of the embarrassing details in-house, a policy it would employ when handling sexual-abuse scandals a century later. In fact, the Sant’Ambrogio case was itself a sex-abuse scandal, although that aspect, however sensational, was not necessarily the Church’s primary concern.

Katharina, a Hohenzollern princess, belonged to one of the great royal Germanic dynasties, which include the Hapsburgs. (Her granddaughter was the queen of Portugal.) Twice widowed and sickly, she entered the convent in her late 30s, seeking a “a place of cloistered peace and holy order” in which to live a contemplative life, although she also nurtured the dream of establishing an order of her own. Sant’Ambrogio was “enclosed,” meaning that the nuns were sequestered from all contact with the outside world apart from rare interviews conducted through metal bars and visits from priestly confessors or doctors. Only in emergencies were men, even priests, allowed within the clausura, or convent interior.

This quiet regimen seemed just the ticket for the weary, devout …read more