You are browsing the archive for 2015 March 05.

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A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline

March 5, 2015 in Economics

By Judy

A Short History of Man by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

BooksMarch 5, 2015Philosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory

A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline

A Short History of Man is a concise revisionist history of man, skillfully presented by Hans-Herman Hoppe.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Under the Radar, Big Media Internet Giants Get Massive Access to Everything About You

March 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Jeffrey Chester, AlterNet

A White House-backed bill would give the corporate elite control over how our data is used.

Editor's note: The following is the latest in a new series of articles on AlterNet called Fear in America that launched this March. Read the introduction to the series. 

The Internet and our digital media are quietly becoming a pervasive and manipulative interactive surveillance system.  Leading U.S. online companies, while claiming to be strong supporters of an open and democratic Internet, are working behind the scenes to ensure that they have unlimited and unchecked power to “shadow” each of us online.  They have allied with global advertisers to transform the Internet into a medium whose true ambition is to track, influence and sell, in anever-ending cycle, their products and political ideas.  While Google, Facebook and other digital giants claim to strongly support a “democratic” Internet, their real goal is to use all the “screens”we use to empower a highly commercialized and corporatized digital media culture.

Last Thursday was widely viewed as a victory for “Internet Freedom” and a blow to a “corporatized” Internet as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) endorsed a historic public utility framework for Network Neutrality (NN). It took the intervention of President Obama last year, who called for “the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality,” to dramatically transform the FCC’s plans. Its chairman, Thomas Wheeler, a former cable and telecom lobbyist, had previously been ambivalent about endorsing strong utility-like regulations. But feeling the pressure, especially from the president, he became a “born again” NN champion, leading the agency to endorse “strong, sustainable rules to protect the Open Internet.”

But the next day, the Obama White House took another approach to Internet Freedom, handing the leading online companies, including Google, Facebook, and their Fortune-type advertising clients, a major political victory. The administration released its long-awaited “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” legislation. The bill enables the most powerful corporations and their trade associations to greatly determine what American privacy rights will be. By giving further control over how data are gathered and used online, the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Get Your F*cking Kids Vaccinated': Jimmy Kimmel Wages War on Anti-Vaxxers

March 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

The late night host made an amazing, foul-mouthed video with the help of a few pediatricians.

If you ever needed an excuse to love Jimmy Kimmel as much as Jimmy Kimmel hates Matt Damon, the late-night host keeps giving us reason, with his tough as nails messages to the people who still think not vaccinating their kids is a great idea.

On his Los Angeles-based show last week, he took a moment to reference the severity of a problem that in the past several weeks has led to an unprecedented measles outbreak, chiding parents who “are more afraid of gluten than smallpox.” And acknowledging that “You probably aren’t going to take medical advice from a talk show host, and I don’t expect you to” in a sly dig to departed co-host of “The View,” Jenny McCarthy, he said, “I would expect you to take medical advice from almost every doctor in the world” – you know, the people who don’t “learn about the human body from their friends’ Facebook page.”

Kimmel, a father of a baby daughter himself, then presented a prerecorded message from a group of real and refreshingly foul-mouthed doctors who support vaccinations, to deliver a bleep-heavy PSA to explain that “The potential downsides of vaccinations are almost nonexistent,” and to add that “I cannot f—king believe we have to make this PSA.” “Remember that time you got polio?” another doctor asks. “No, you don’t, because your parents got you f—king vaccinated.”

Kimmel’s crusade has made for some fascinating television lately, and it’s pretty great to see a person with his platform — with the support of his network — go at it with such gusto. On Monday night, Kimmel gleefully returned to the fray, reading some of the angry tweets his segment inspired, including those from people calling him a “sellout” and “worse than priests abusing boys and Bill Cosby drugging girls.” “So you see,” he observed, vowing not to apologize, “people are taking a reasonable approach to this.” He then sent out his “community activist team” Jack and Becky out to the streets with …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Politics Gone Hideously Wrong': Anti-Semitic Bullying Said to Contribute to a Missouri Official's Recent Suicide

March 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Sen. John Danforth says politics of anti-Semitic bullying played key role in Tom Schweich's suicide.

The suicide last week of Tom Schweich, a Missouri auditor and candidate for governor, sent the state’s political scene into a tailspin. Now, the chair of the Missouri Republican party is accused of leading an anti-Semitic smear campaign that contributed to Schweich’s decision to take his own life.

U.S. Senator John C. Danforth, for whom Schweich served as chief-of-staff earlier in his career, delivered the eulogy at his colleague’s funeral early this week. In his remarks, Danforth spoke openly of his “overwhelming anger that politics has gone so hideously wrong, and that the death of Tom Schweich is the natural consequence of what politics has become.”

It was a pointed criticism of the ugly tone the GOP primary race for governor had taken in recent weeks. A group called Citizens For Fairness, a backer of Schweich’s opponent Catherine Hanaway, aired a radio ad that took personal jabs at Sweich’s appearance. “Is he a weak candidate for governor?” a voiceover in the ad asked rhetorically. “Absolutely. Just look at him. He could be easily confused for the deputy sheriff of Mayberry.”

But friends and colleagues say Schweich was most troubled by rumors being spread by John Hancock, chair of the Missouri Republican party, that Schweich was Jewish. According to Schweich, Hancock was hoping to exploit anti-Semitic sentiments among donors. Hancock has since denied the allegations, although he recently wrote that “it is possible that [he] mentioned Tom’s faith in passing.”

“There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent, and I certainly was not attempting to ‘inject religion’ into the governor’s race, as some have suggested.”

Schweich, whose grandfather was Jewish, was a practicing Episcopalian. In a conversation with an editor from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the days just before his suicide, Schweich reportedly said he was “very proud of his connection to the Jewish faith.”

For his part, Danforth made clear that he rejects Hancock’s claims of innocence. At one point in Schweich’s eulogy, he described the aforementioned radio ad as “bullying.” …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Snowpocalypse Now! Snowstorm Blankets Huge Swath of the Country

March 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Jessica Glenza, The Guardian

Texas, Kentucky and Ohio have a foot of snow already! New England? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Snow was falling from northern Texas to Connecticut on Thursday morning, as a storm system expected to badly affect travel stretched from northern Mexico to New England.

The storm is likely to hit some of the busiest travel corridors in the country, dumping snow from Washington DC to New York City, before moving off the coast Thursday evening.

 

The American south-east is already feeling the storm’s effects, as sleet and freezing rain fell overnight on Wednesday. Kentucky is expected to see some of the worst weather; cities such as Radcliff already reported 16in by 4am Thursday morning. Some parts of Scioto County in Ohio were also hard-hit, with 11in already on the ground.

 

Dallas saw one of its snowiest March days ever, with official totals at 6in. And sleet and freezing rain were moving from central Texas north-eastward to Arkansas on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday evening the storm had already produced rare bipartisan agreement in Washington, where lawmakers scrambled to get out of town before government offices closed for the day on Thursday, the Associated Press reported. Across the region hundreds of school districts, businesses and local governments also shut down. 

The storm is expected to move southward after it reaches the mid-Atlantic coast Thursday morning, the National Weather Service predicted. 

Tennessee escaped some of the worst predictions for the storm but cities such as Lebanon had about 0.10in of freezing rain, enough to make travel dangerous. The state’s legislature has closed for the day, and the governor preemptively declared a state of emergency. Legislatures were also closed in South Carolina and Kentucky.

Air travelers are likely to feel the storm’s effects before the worst hits on Thursday afternoon. Swaths of airports along the storm’s projected path have canceled flights, accounting for more than 2,600 flights across the country. Some airports had more than half of departing flights canceled.

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Source: ALTERNET

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In Alabama, a Victory for School Choice

March 5, 2015 in Economics

By Jason Bedrick

Jason Bedrick

The Left’s war against parental choice in education suffered a major setback on Monday, when the Alabama supreme court ruled that the state’s school-choice law is constitutional.

In 2013, Governor Robert Bentley (R.) signed the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA), which allows low-income students assigned to persistently low-performing district schools to apply for scholarships to attend the schools of their choice. Like scholarship tax-credit laws in other states, the AAA grants tax credits to individual and corporate taxpayers who donate to the nonprofit scholarship organizations that aid those students. Uniquely, the AAA also included a voucher-like provision that granted refundable tax credits directly to low-income families.

Predictably, defenders of the government’s near-monopoly over K-12 education immediately ran to the courts to prevent any children from escaping. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit in federal court, absurdly claiming that the AAA violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it failed to rescue all children from low-performing district schools. In other words, the SPLC argued that the U.S. Constitution would prohibit any incremental reforms to address social problems. Fortunately, the federal judge dismissed the SPLC suit, holding that the “equal protection” it sought was, “in effect, equally bad treatment.”

The Alabama supreme court’s decision adds to the growing consensus of high courts upholding the constitutionality of school-choice laws.”

The Alabama Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, also filed a series of separate lawsuits challenging the AAA in state court. The Alabama supreme court dismissed the first two union lawsuits, which had challenged the law on procedural grounds. In its third attempt, the union raised ten legal claims in a desperate spaghetti-against-the-wall gamble. A few of them stuck in a lower court, but the state supreme court rejected all ten in a 222-page decision. The Institute for Justice, which successfully defended the AAA on behalf of low-income scholarship recipients, provides a helpful summary of all ten legal claims at its website, but one is worth highlighting because it is relevant to anti-school-choice cases pending in other states.

The union alleged that the AAA violated the state constitution’s two historically anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments, which prohibit the government from making appropriations of public funds to religious schools, and require a two-thirds majority to make an appropriation to “any charitable or educational institution not under …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Melting Pot Meets the Voting Booth

March 5, 2015 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh, Sam Wilson

Alex Nowrasteh and Sam Wilson

An enduring argument against reforming the immigration system is that new immigrants will become a solid voting bloc for the Democratic party and support liberal economic policies. Neither of these assertions is true. New evidence shows that immigrants have, or come to have, about the same political views as long-settled Americans.

In a new paper published by the Cato Institute, we show that immigrants and their descendants are not more supportive of economic policies that favor big government, high taxes, or an increase in the size of the welfare state. Immigrants’ political and ideological opinions will not shift American policy in a big-government direction.

Immigrants’ political and ideological opinions will not shift American policy in a big-government direction.”

We base our conclusions on results from the General Social Survey (GSS), the largest biennial survey in the United States. Every two years this survey asks tens of thousands of people their opinions about a whole range of issues, from their political and ideological views to how much they trust their neighbors. It also records where they, their parents, and their grandparents were born.

The GSS’s level of detail allows us to track the opinions of immigrants and compare them with those of second- and third-generation respondents. When we compared the opinions of immigrants and their children and grandchildren with those of Americans whose ancestors have been here for at least four generations, we found a remarkable degree of agreement.

When it comes to ideology, on a scale from extremely liberal to extremely conservative, the opinions of first-generation immigrants (i.e. those born abroad) are similar to those of Americans who have been here for at least four generations.

Granted, party identification is different from ideology. Although first-generation immigrants do tend to vote Democratic, that imbalance disappears after a generation: Their children are just about as likely to be Republicans or Democrats as Americans whose families have been here for four generations or more.

Furthermore, while it’s true that immigrants are more likely to say government should do more in our society, overly broad questions like that do not reveal preferences very well. Immigrant opinions on specific government programs like welfare, Social Security, and tax rates are statistically indistinguishable from those of other generations of Americans.

While immigrants and their descendants will not usher in a new period of free-market liberalization, neither will they rally liberal politicians to deliver bigger …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A New Kind of Mental Disturbance? Drone Pilots Are Quitting in Droves

March 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Pratap Chatterjee, TomDispatch

The people on the ground are not the only ones being traumatized.

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.

The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as “18Xs,” working for the U.S. Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same 12 months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. (The better-known U.S. Central Intelligence Agency drone assassination program is also flown by Air Force pilots loaned out for the covert missions.)

On January 4, 2015, the Daily Beast revealed an undated internal memo to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh from General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle stating that pilot “outflow increases will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 [Predator and Reaper] enterprise for years to come” and added that he was “extremely concerned.” Eleven days later, the issue got top billing at a special high-level briefing on the state of the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James joined Welsh to address the matter. “This is a force that is under significant stress — significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations,” she told the media.

In theory, drone pilots have a cushy life. Unlike soldiers on duty in “war zones,” they can continue to live with their families here in the United States. No muddy foxholes or sandstorm-swept desert barracks under threat of enemy attack for them. Instead, these new …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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WATCH: Larry Wilmore Talks Legalized Weed Revenue—'Who Knew There Was Money in Drugs?'

March 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Wilmore congratulates Washington for finally passing a law that matters.

With more than 20 states now permitting medicinal marijuana, and an additional four states and the District of Columbia allowing recreational use, “The Nightly Show” dedicated an entire episode to marijuana legalization last night.

“We’re discussing the pros and cons of legal weed. And if time permits, we’ll spend four hours discussing how weird hands are,” host Larry Wilmore said at the top of the show.

“Finally, Washington passes a law that matters!” Wilmore joked, a reference to D.C.’s newly enacted legalization of pot.

Congratulating Obama, once a youthful pot smoker, for his foresight, Wilmore said, “You saw this coming. Yes we cannabis!” Then added, “Shout out to you, too, Senator Roy Blunt. For obvious semantic reasons.”

Wilmore also noted that Colorado, which legalized pot use a year ago, has seen a $60 million revenue rise. “Who knew there was money in drugs?” he asked.

Check out the clip below.

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Source: ALTERNET