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“We’re Doomed!” Larry David Plays the Best Bernie Sanders Yet on “Saturday Night Live”

October 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Sarah Burris, Salon

An “SNL” instant classic as Larry David owns the Vermont senator. Also, Tracy Morgan returns.


When Larry David was on “Saturday Night Live” he only got one sketch on the air and the audience didn’t laugh. Thirty years later, the Seinfeld creator returned as Bernie Sanders and the Internet lost its mind with David trending on Twitter well into this morning. If you thought Colbert’s Sanders haggling over the brunch check was good, David crushed it.

The sketch mocked the first democratic debate with a smiley Lincoln Chafee talking about how fun it was to be a senator, Alec Baldwin as Jim Webb who was angry, of course, because he didn’t get to talk before he was introduced, the Hillary Clinton her staff put together for the debate, and Bernie “We’re Doomed” Sanders.

With a perfect Sanders accent and broad hand gestures and finger points, David shouted about revolution asking why the hell the big banks chain all their pens to the desk. His solution for Wall Street reform was to break up the big banks into little pieces and then flush them down the toilet. “Then ya make the bankers pay for college for everyone, and America is fixed! Hey!” he said shrugging and gesticulating wildly. Hillary puts a damper on the idealism saying Bernie is promising a “golden goose” but Bernie assured the debate audience he’s found geese before and he can find them again. “They congregate near ponds. It’s not rocket science!”

After Bernie repeated the famous email line Hillary shook his hand and thanked him, commenting that it must be nice to scream and cuss in public. “I have to do it into tiny little jars.” You’ll want to watch the rest of the hilarious video below.

As the show opened a recovering Tracy Morgan walked carefully out on stage to give his monologue. As Morgan told the audience, “People were wondering: Can he speak? Does he have 100 percent mental capacity?” he said. “But the truth is, I never did. I might actually be a few points higher now.”

Morgan came to fame on SNL in the 1990s …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Soda Wars: How Big Beverage Targets Poor People and Compromises Their Health

October 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Reynard Loki, AlterNet

Soda sales may be declining among the more affluent, but a complex battle over public health rages on.


Every five years, the U.S. federal government releases its “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” a joint production of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The new one is scheduled to be released in December.

According to the last one, released in 2010, sugary beverages are extremely popular, with soda, energy drinks and sports drinks making up the fourth highest source of calories among Americans overall — and the third highest source for children and adolescents up to the age of 18. These sweetened drinks also make up the lion's share (almost 36 percent) of the sources of added sugars in the American diet.

But tastes appear to be changing. As The New York Times recently noted, sales in full calorie soda in the U.S. have declined more than 25 percent over the last two decades, while bottled water sales have increased. Still, the overall dietary picture isn't great, as the majority of Americans continue to get their calories from unhealthy sources, including processed foods, grain-based desserts and alcohol. Pizza, often washed down with soda, is the fifth-highest source of Americans' caloric intake.

Looking more closely at the statistics reveals striking socioeconomic forces at work. In her new book Soda Politics:Taking on Big Soda (and Winning), Marion Nestle, chair of New York University's Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, points out that soda drinking is split across race and class lines, with African and Hispanic Americans drinking more soda than their white counterparts, adding that their soda drinking habits “are strongly influenced by television advertising, especially when commercials feature celebrities of their own race and ethnicity.” She also notes that “this diversity — in income, social status, and outlook — complicates efforts to reduce soda intake in minority communities.”

And while the sharpest declines in soda consumption have occurred “among richer, white populations,” according to the New York Times, Nestle said she expected “poor and minority customers would also reduce their soda intake over time, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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America's Greenest Cities: Where Does Your City Rank?

October 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Reynard Loki, AlterNet

An analysis to find out just how green America's 100 most populous cities are yields some surprising results.


Did you know that the U.S. city with the highest percentage of commuters who drive is Corpus Christi? Or that the best city in the nation for biking is Minneapolis? What about the fact that San Francisco has the largest number of farmers markets per capita? These are some of the many eye-opening facts that came out of a recent analysis of 100 of America's most populous cities and their environmental friendliness.

A strong majority of Americans favor living sustainably. According to a Pew Research poll, 71 percent said the U.S. “should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.” And as more than 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, examining the environmental friendliness of cities is an excellent way to take the nation's overall “sustainability pulse.”

Conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub, 2015's Greenest Cities in America analyzes each the 100 cities across 13 key metrics (including percent of green space, number of smart-energy policies and per capita greenhouse gas emissions) to identify those cities that most encourage an environmentally friendly lifestyle — and the ones that are lagging behind.

Champs and chumps

The researchers found that the nation's greenest city is New York City, followed by Portland, San Francisco and Washington, DC. The least green cities are Louisville; Indianapolis; Gilbert, Arizona; and — in last place — Baton Rouge.

Honolulu fared well. With the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions and the highest percentage of green space, the Hawaiian capital ranked first in environmental quality and scored fifth overall. Jacksonville, on the other hand, was found to have the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions and was ranked 94th overall.

This is an ideal time to be filling out the nation's sustainability scorecard: October is National Energy Awareness Month, which was created in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush to highlight the important of energy sustainability. According to the White House website, every October marks a “national effort to underscore how central energy is to our national …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Sanders, Trump, and John Maynard Keynes

October 18, 2015 in Economics

By Hunter Lewis

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Sanders, Trump, and John Maynard Keynes

October 18, 2015

The rise of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump clearly reflects the increasing desperation of large numbers of American voters. They know something is terribly wrong with the economy. They just don't know what it is.

In supporting Sanders they confuse capitalism with the increasingly out-of-control crony capitalism that world governments have foisted on us. In supporting Trump, they seem to hope that the best way to guard the henhouse against the foxes is to put a fox in charge.

The irony of all this is that economist John Maynard Keynes, whose ideas provide cover for the crony capitalists inside and outside government, himself warned about this almost a century ago. This was of course before Keynes became a “Keynesian.” He wrote in The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919):

“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security but [also] at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth.

Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become “profiteers,” who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds…, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.

Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

This well known passage was …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Journalism is Too Hard for Hollywood: Dan Rather, George W. Bush & the Misunderstood Media Scandal of the Century

October 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Jack Mirkinson, Salon

A decade ago, a major journalistic scandal cost Dan Rather his job. A new film doesn't seem to understand why.


It’s no surprise that “Truth,” the new movie about the journalistic firestorm that took down Dan Rather, has caused so much controversy. In its retelling of the scandal that engulfed Rather, his producer Mary Mapes and CBS News after their botched story about George W. Bush’s time in the Texas Air National Guard blew up in their faces, “Truth” touches on one of the most politically and personally charged moments in recent media history. CBS is incensed enough about the film that it has refused to air any ads for it on its network. The people behind “Truth” have defended it as a movie that seeks to go beyond the particulars of the saga and raise broader questions about reporting and corporate America.

The reality is that neither side has covered itself in glory. CBS is guilty of, at the very least, massive corporate overreach, but “Truth” is so conspicuously one-sided that it was bound to provoke a heated reaction.

The outline of the story “Truth” tells is familiar enough to anybody who was around in 2004. Mapes, a star producer for Rather at CBS, got her hands on memos that seemingly confirmed rumors about the special treatment Bush had received during his military days, and built a “60 Minutes” report for Rather around them. The memos, however, were torn to shreds almost instantly, with both conservative bloggers and experts disputing their authenticity. CBS ultimately retracted the story, apologized, fired Mapes, made three other producers resign, and forced Rather out of his anchor chair at the “CBS Evening News.”

Ever since then, the toxicity of the scandal has lingered. Rather and Mapes insist to this day that the central contention of their story–that Bush shirked his military duties and got away with it because of his connections–is true, and that they were railroaded by a panicked team of corporate suits. Mapes recently said the errors fell within the range of “normal journalistic bungle.”

That, of course, is a quite …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Former Mistress of GOPer David Vitter Claims He Got Her Pregnant and Asked Her to Abort

October 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Bethania Palma Markus, Raw Story

Wendy Ellis claims she had an affair with Vitter, he impregnated her and then asked her to abort the baby.


A sex worker who claims she had a long-standing relationship with married, family values Republican senator and candidate for Louisiana governor David Vitter dropped a bombshell accusation one week before voters go to the polls.

Wendy Ellis claims she had an affair with Vitter, he impregnated her and then asked her to abort the baby. Ellis says she did not, instead putting the child up for legal adoption, according to WDSU.

In a video interview by Jason Berry, who posted it to his American Zombie blog, Ellis said she maintained a relationship with Vitter for three years after meeting him when he was a state representative in the 1990s.

She said the two of them stopped seeing each other when she was six months pregnant, and she knows he was the father because she wasn’t sleeping with anyone else at the time.

“But you can sit there, walk across the grassy knoll holding your wife and your children s’ hand screaming family values,” Ellis said. “But you want me to go abort my baby.”

Ellis told Berry she wants to set the record straight because she has Lupus and is dying.

H/T Clancy Dubos, Best of New Orleans

Watch Ellis talk about the pregnancy, as posted to American Zombie, here:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Longer Life Is the Greatest Form of Poverty Reduction

October 18, 2015 in Economics

By Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Angus Deaton, who has just won the Nobel Prize for Economics, is famous for three major findings. First, humanity has enjoyed a Great Escape from poverty because of rapid economic growth, especially in China and India. Second, humanity has also enjoyed a Great Escape from death and disease. Third, foreign aid typically fails to reduce poverty.

Let me focus on the Great Escape from death. India has witnessed heated arguments on how much consumption should determine India’s poverty line. Yet, arguably, longer life is the greatest sort of poverty reduction. You cannot measure the value of extending life, yet nothing is more precious. In some countries, 90% of lifetime health spending occurs in the last year of a person’s life.

Indian poverty is down to 21% by government estimates, and 12% by the World Bank’s poverty line. It would have been almost zero had India followed the outward-looking, market-friendly policies of the Asian tigers. Economic reforms enabled 138 million to rise above the poverty line between 2004 and 2011.

Improved longevity helped even more. Since Independence, life expectancy is up from 32 years to 68.5 years. Infant mortality is down from 161 per thousand births to 40. The total death rate is down from 25.5 per thousand to barely 7. These are huge improvements. Yet they lag well behind achievements in other countries. The Great Escape needs to become a Greater Escape.

People willingly exhaust lifetime savings to gain a few more years of life. Roti, kapda and makan matter a lot, but life and death matter more. If people live 20 years longer, children are saved from early death, and mothers are saved from maternal death, that’s worth more than all government subsidies for roti, kapda and makan.

Per capita consumption is often used to measure poverty by the media and analysts, but can be utterly misleading. I crossed swords with Arnab Goswami some years ago when an NSSO survey showed that 138 million people had been raised above the official poverty line, which was then around Rs 5,000 per month for an urban family of five.

Many Delhiwallahs paid their servants less than that. But Arnab declared it was impossible to live on so little. His mathematical trick was to translate monthly family consumption into a daily rate of Rs 33 per person. Arnab declared that nobody could eat properly at Delhi dhabas on so little.

I had pointed out in a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Using 'Hate' Label with Crimes against Cops Goes too Far

October 18, 2015 in Economics

By Walter Olson

Walter Olson

If you wanted to bring the whole concept of hate crimes into disrepute, you couldn’t do a better job than the city of Red Wing, Minn., and the national police union it’s listening to. According to the Star Tribune’s report, “the picturesque town on the banks of the Mississippi River is believed to be the second place in the nation — and the first city — to pass” a resolution “calling for crimes against law enforcement to be prosecutable as hate crimes.”

The national Fraternal Order of Police union, which has been pushing ideas along these lines for more than a decade, describes the goal as to “honor the lives lost” in lethal attacks on police (which in fact — a fact not always reported — are at near-historic lows).

To a large extent, hate-crime laws function as a type of feel-good law meant to send a symbolic message of support to politically active minorities, typically by attaching extra penalties to conduct that is already criminal and readily subject to prosecution.

The enhancement applies to crimes committed with some but not other hateful or vicious motivations. This is part of why critics argue that the laws in effect play favorites, departing from the spirit of equal protection under law that aims at treating all victims of personal assault as equally important.

The effort may be feel-good symbolism, but there’s no reason to prosecute violence against law enforcement officers this way.”

Because they seem to put an official public seal on a narrative of oppression, such laws are also lobbied for in me-too fashion by other groups that rightly or wrongly see themselves as oppressed.

It is common for hate-crime laws to create multiple jeopardy at different court levels arising from a single offense, which is often considered a danger to liberty, even if courts do not always find that it formally violates the Bill of Rights’ double jeopardy clause. But defenders of these laws argue that local authorities in many parts of the country long refused to take seriously crimes against certain scorned or disenfranchised minorities, thus in their view justifying a second layer of prosecutorial attention.

But there’s no evidence that authorities now or in the past have brushed off lethal attacks on police as something not worth investigating or prosecuting.

“Most states already allow or mandate sentence enhancements for crimes committed against police,” notes commentator Radley Balko.

Up to now, proponents …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Fantasy Sports and the State of Nevada Go Head-to-Head

October 18, 2015 in Economics

By Jonathan Newman

Las Vegas casinos at night
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Monopoly and Competition

Fantasy Sports and the State of Nevada Go Head-to-Head

October 18, 2015

Nevada has ruled that online fantasy sports are subject to gambling laws and licensure in the state. The two largest firms, FanDuel and DraftKings, have halted all business in the state while the legal fog clears.

The reason for the ruling in Nevada is painfully clear: to suppress any competition with the current licensed gambling firms in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the state. The casinos are legally prevented from online gambling, and so the new fantasy sports venues create “unfair competition” for the licensed firms.

It seems the only unfair part is the prohibition of online gambling for the licensed firms in the first place.

Cases like these highlight the absurdity, corruption, and hypocrisy of government licensing requirements.

Nevadans (at least those that don’t own the licensed casinos) aren’t hurt by the presence of online fantasy sports in their state. If they don’t like it for some reason, they could choose not to play fantasy sports. If enough Nevadans didn’t like fantasy sports, firms like FanDuel and DraftKings would leave the state on their own, looking elsewhere for willing customers. So the ruling by the Nevadan government obviously does not reflect the will of Nevadans, if the unlicensed firms must be forced out of the state.

Licensure is corrupt because it represents competition by force, instead of peacefully producing goods and services consumers prefer to those offered by other firms. Requiring a license says, “I can’t compete with you, so I’m going to force you to pay up and follow my rules so I can stay in business.”

It’s hypocritical, too, because the government also purportedly enforces antitrust and anti-collusion laws. Firms working together to shut down outside competition is collusion. The text of the antitrust Sherman Act prohibits “every contract, in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce.”

The alleged benefits of business licenses, like keeping industry standards, quality assurance, or consumer protection are provided in industries without licensing. Mises, Rothbard, and countless other economists in and outside the Austrian school have pointed out that licensure is simply government-granted …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE