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Most Evil Op-Ed Ever? Writer Wishes For Katrina-like Storm to Hit Chicago

August 13, 2015 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, AlterNet

The cult of the corporate right shows its true colors as dopey op-ed columnist casually calls for mass carnage.


This afternoon, the Chicago Tribune published an op-ed by Kristen McQueary that made the mistake of doing what Donald Trump has been doing over the past two months: it put the dog whistle down and laid out, in explicit terms, what the far corporate right really thinks when it's not speaking in code and PR double speak.

In a rather unlettered piece, McQueary openly, and without a touch of irony, wishes for a massive Katrina-like storm to wreak havoc on the Windy City to expedite her deluded libertarian fantasy she saw play out in New Orleans 10 years ago:

Envy isn't a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

But with Aug. 29 fast approaching and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu making media rounds, including at the Tribune Editorial Board,I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers.

A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops. That's what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak.

The piece has the apocalyptic fever pitch of Revelations with none of the subtlety. It continues:

That's why I find myself praying for a real storm.It's why I can relate, metaphorically, to the residents of New Orleans climbing onto their rooftops and begging for help and waving their arms and lurching toward rescue helicopters.

Except here, no one responds to the SOS messages painted boldly in the sky. Instead, they double down on their own man-made disaster.

It's a sentiment not uncommon on the corporate right. The idea that Katrina was a sort of biblical flood that washed away liberal excess in New Orleans is taken as gospel by conservatives and corporate Democrats alike. Even Obama's Secretary of Education got into a bit of hot water when he said in 2010 Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans.”

He later walked back the statement after a torrent of backlash, but …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why China Devalued the Yuan

August 13, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Blog

Why China Devalued the Yuan

August 13, 2015

China has devalued the Yuan for the third day in a row. For many, this has aroused fears of a currency war. But, as Paul-Martin Foss explains below, its a bit

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Court to Bakery Owners: You Have No Property Rights

August 13, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Blog

Court to Bakery Owners: You Have No Property Rights

August 13, 2015

The Colorado Appeals Court ruled that the owners of a bakery do not have any right to control their property, and that they shall be forced to provide bakery services to a couple that the owner would rather not do business with. In other words, they have no property rights.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The N.S.P.H.H.B.O.P., the Market, and the "Beepocalypse"

August 13, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Blog

The N.S.P.H.H.B.O.P., the Market, and the “Beepocalypse”

August 13, 2015

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Autopsy: Robin Williams Had Lewy Body Dementia

August 13, 2015 in Blogs

By Joanna Rothkopf, Salon

The hallucination-causing disease may have contributed to his decision to commit suicide.


According to his official autopsy, actor and comedian Robin Williams had a disease called Lewy body dementia (LBD), which may have contributed to his decision to kill himself.

People with LBD have dementia and often appear disoriented. According to ABC News, Williams had displayed odd behavior in his final days — notably, he kept several watches in a sock and was “concerned about keeping the watches safe.”

“The dementia usually leads to significant cognitive impairment that interferes with everyday life,” said Angela Taylor, programming director of the Lewy Body Dementia Association in an interview with ABC News. Still, symptoms are hard to spot. “If you didn’t know them you may not realize anything is wrong.”

LBD is fairly common, with 1.3 million people suffering from the illness in the United States, although it largely remains undiagnosed since it shares symptoms with better-known diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Biologically, the disease stems from abnormal protein deposits in the brain stem where they stop the production of dopamine. In LBD, the deposits spread throughout the brain, including to the cerebral cortex (responsible for problem solving and perception). The main symptom is progressive dementia, although people with the disease may also experience complicated visual hallucinations that could include smells and sounds, trouble sleeping, changes in attention and symptoms generally associated with Parkinson’s disease (which Williams also had).

Typically, patients are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease first, and then LBD symptoms begin to appear. An examination of Williams’ brain revealed that it had undergone changes associated with Alzheimer’s, in addition to Parkinson’s and LBD.

“Though his death is terribly sad,” Taylor said, “it’s a good opportunity to inform people about this disease and the importance of early diagnosis.”

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Is the Authoritarian Ruler Republicans—and Some Dems—Have Been Waiting For

August 13, 2015 in Blogs

By John Dean, Justia.com

How far can a truly authoritarian leader go in America?


So far, 500 people have registered with the Federal Elections Commission to run for President of the United States. Needless to say, all but a few of these aspirants lack any chance whatsoever of becoming president. To the surprise of many, Donald Trump has fully registered with the FEC and surfaced as the early leader for the Republicans.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who has a very good crystal ball for predicting presidential contenders and races, has broken the massive GOP want-to-be field into five tiers to establish who is and who is not viable. Professor Sabato’s first tier GOP candidates are (alphabetically): Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. Donald Trump, who is currently leading in the polls, ranks in lowest—or fifth—tier by Professor Sabato, who labels Trump a “gadfly.”

Political pundits everywhere are scratching their heads, asking what is going on with Trump? How can a clown like Trump be in front of the “serious” GOP candidates? Most blame the news media for giving Trump’s antics too much attention. But much more than media attention is at work in explaining Trump’s success. In fact, Donald Trump has emerged as America’s leading authoritarian political figure, representative of a type of leadership for which many Americans yearn.

I looked closely at authoritarians in Conservatives Without Conscience, and the information I developed and shared in 2006 is equally, if not more, relevant today. Actually, Trump is far more aggressive in his authoritarianism than his predecessors. To understand the Trump phenomenon, it is essential to appreciate political authoritarianism, as well as its limits and boundaries.

Political Authoritarians—The Followers

Americans were introduced to “the authoritarian type” in a 1951 book that was controversial from its publication: The Authoritarian Personality by Theodor W. AdornoElse Frenkel-Brunswik, and Daniel J. Levinson. While the book had its flaws, time has also shown much of the analysis was accurate, if not prescient, in explaining this type of personality. When studying these personalities I discovered the later work of an American-born professor at the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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New Study Finds That Having Your First Child Makes You Miserable

August 13, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Parenting the first baby is worse than getting divorced, being fired from your job, or losing your spouse.


For most of recent history, babies have had a pretty good run, PR-wise. Not only have they been successfully branded as “bundles of joy,” they’ve also been widely recognized as the reason, collectively at least, that we're here (what with reproduction being so crucial to existence).

But in recent decades, scientific studies of parental happiness — or the lack thereof — tell a very different story. And one recent survey goes even further, finding that the “drop in life satisfaction during the year following the first birth [of a child] is even larger than that caused by unemployment, divorce or the death of a partner.”

A collaborative effort by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and the University of Western Ontario, the study collected surveys from 2,016 German couples “from three years before a first birth through at least two years after the first birth.” As the Washington Post notes, while anticipatory happiness levels rose in the year preceding birth of a first child, in both the first and second years following, 70 percent of new parents reported a drop in their happiness levels. And these drops, measured on a happiness scale from 1-10, were pretty huge:

Of those new mothers and fathers whose happiness went down, 37 percent (742) reported a one-unit drop, 19 percent (383) a two-unit drop and 17 percent (341) a three-unit drop. On average, new parenthood led to a 1.4 unit drop in happiness. That's considered very severe.

The article goes on to note that such a big drop in happiness is greater than that following divorce (0.6 “happiness unit” drop), unemployment (1 unit drop) or the death of a spouse or partner (also a 1 unit drop). In other words, these parents — who no doubt love their firstborns more than life itself — also felt that parenthood is kind of the pits.

The study offers insight into why, among Germans, there’s such rampant incongruity between most couples’ purported desire for two children, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Cops Ignore Me Because I Have Light Skin—That Just Reaffirms Their Racism

August 13, 2015 in Blogs

By Linda Chavers, The Guardian

If police officers were really good at their jobs, not so quick to target darker-skinned men, they would be coming after me, too.


In a few days I will pack up my car, harness my dog in his seat and drive 200-something miles to Philadelphia to start a new job.

I drive a lot, and I flout the rules of the road. I find people obeying the speed limit in the left lane to be incredibly offensive, so I bully them out of my way. I weave in and out of cars I find to be too slow. I have created entire playlists on my phone’s Spotify while driving. I have checked my makeup in the mirror. I play my music loudly. And when I see a cop car, I turn the volume up.

Alcohol used to exacerbate this deep resentment of men in blue. In my drinking days, I would pick fights with the police, with chest bumps and curses in the mix. I have thrown things at officers. I only remember flashes of these scenes now, and I’ve never had a negative encounter with the cops that was unfounded. It’s always been me with the problem. But they’ve always forgiven me my lapses in judgment.

Have I mentioned that I’m black?

Here’s the thing: I’m a light-skinned black woman with dark, thick, long hair, and I come from a long line of the same. And because of my light skin tone, police, your eyes pass over me. You’ve been taught to profile my body, too.

You think I’m pretty; you think I’m harmless; you think I’m accessible. You think I have a nice smile and am friendly and polite. You appreciate my tone and how gently I nod my pretty head. You comment that I look like Kerry Washington, and I bat my eyes and laugh. You think I am attractive and accessible in a way you can’t fully express but you feel nonetheless.

You don’t see me as a threat. But there’s a key difference between being treated nicely and being ignored. When the cops ignore me or assume I’m obedient, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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WATCH: Black Lives Matter Disrupts Jeb Bush Rally In Nevada—His Supporters Chant 'White Lives Matter'

August 13, 2015 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, AlterNet

Jeb Bush rally was interrupted by a group comprising BLM as well as Planned Parenthood, immigrants and “children”.


Wednesday afternoon, a broad coalition in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement disrupted a Jeb Bush town hall in Las Vegas with chants of “Black lives matter”. These chants were met with pushback from the largely white and Republican crowd who countered with cries of “all lives matter” and the even more problematic “white lives matter”. 

Earlier, two #BlackLivesMatter demonstrators had been kicked out for starting a similar chant. Bush's PR team said that he had met with “advocates” of the “Black Lives Matter” movement earlier in the day and had discussed criminal justice reform and “barriers to upward mobility”. It's unclear if these “advocates” were the same ones who would ultimately disrupt his town hall.

Eventually, things settled down and the former Florida governor fielded questions from some of the protestors. According to the LA Times:

Bush, responding to a woman's query about the disproportionate number of minorities killed by police and their treatment in the criminal justice system, said there was no question that racism still existed in the United States and that leaders needed to engage in communities that felt disenfranchised.

Like a good corporate-friendly candidate, Bush insisted the solution to black poverty and racism was more charter schools: 

He then turned to his education record as Florida's governor, saying that achievement scores among minority youths rose during his tenure. “I have a record of empowering people in communities that” were told “they had no chance,”

Unlike other disruptive actions of late, this group seemed a bit broader in scope. A Netroots posting on the protest described the group as being composed of “Planned Parenthood, teachers, undocumented people, immigrants, children, women, men, the trans community, and some from the white community.” 

Bush told several of his supporters later in the evening that he found the protest action “disrespectful”.

UPDATE: As I suspected, it appears Bush's claim that he had “met with Black Lives Matter advocates earlier in the day” is pretty much bogus.

Here's what the LA Timeswrote:

Bush's campaign said the candidate met with Black Lives …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Fed's Trade-Off between Inflation and Jobs Is a Myth

August 13, 2015 in Economics

By James A. Dorn

James A. Dorn

The idea that there’s a trade-off between inflation and unemployment seems embedded in the Federal Reserve’s psyche.

The Fed has not increased its benchmark federal funds target rate since 2006. It’s waiting to see if a tighter labor market will push up wages and prices, so the Fed can achieve both full employment and its inflation target of 2%.

The Fed’s adherence to a negatively sloped Phillips curve — predicting lower unemployment obtained by higher inflation — is a flawed model for monetary policy.

Indeed, money doesn’t even enter the analysis, because the implicit assumption is that inflation is caused not by too much money chasing too few goods but by higher wages (caused by a tight labor market) pushing up costs and prices.

It is time to rethink monetary policy and to banish the Phillips curve to the dustbin of history.”

The Phillips curve mentality is evident in the following statement by Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart:

“I think a policymaker has to act on the view that the basic (negative) relationship in the Phillips curve … will assert itself in a reasonable period of time as the economy tightens up.” He finds the logic of the Phillips curve “compelling.”

Most economists would agree that even if unanticipated inflation could reduce unemployment in the short run, any trade-off is tenuous and probably will last no more than a year.

In the longer run, once expectations adjust to reality, the unemployment rate will move toward its natural rate, consistent with market forces — and there will be no permanent trade-off between inflation and unemployment.

Hayek And Friedman Saw It

More important, the stagflation of the 1970s gave credence to the idea that the Phillips curve could be positively sloped with inflation and unemployment moving in the same direction. The positively sloped Phillips curve was foreseen by Nobel laureate economist Friedrich Hayek and anticipated by Milton Friedman in his 1976 Nobel lecture.

In 2002, William Niskanen, a former member of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, constructed a model to test the Phillips curve’s trade-off hypothesis. He found “no trade-off of unemployment and inflation except in the same year” and “in the long term, the unemployment rate is a positive function of the inflation rate.”

His policy recommendation was that “a monetary policy targeted to achieve a steady growth of aggregate demand at a zero inflation rate is also consistent with the lowest possible sustainable unemployment rate.”

If …read more

Source: OP-EDS