You are browsing the archive for 2018 January 02.

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This Is the Next Battle Frontier in the War Against Body Shaming

January 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Liz Posner, AlterNet

Say goodbye to airbrushing stretch marks.

The feminist struggle against body shaming practices in the media has resulted in steady yet slow progress. Victoria’s Secret, a company that epitomizes the brands that make women feel bad about the way they look, still doesn’t feature any plus-sized models in its collection of “angels.” But one small victory last month after the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show brought some hope. As Alyssa Hardy pointed out in Teen Vogue, Lais Ribeiro, one of the models, showed visible stretch marks while walking down the runway, marking a significant shift in body acceptance by major corporations. The time has come for stretch mark acceptance.

All signs point toward stretch marks as the next battle for body positivity advocates. 2017 was arguably about skin pigmentation; models like Winnie Harlow and Nyakim Gatwech rose in popularity this year, thanks to social media. The year before saw a different victory when size 16 Ashley Graham made history after becoming the first plus-sized model featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a moment many hoped signified the end of the fashion industry’s shunning of women over size 8.

Now it’s stretch marks’ time. Kendrick Lamar revitalized a conversation around stretch marks earlier this year when he released HUMBLE. The lyrics include the lines: “I'm so f**kin' sick and tired of the Photoshop/Show me somethin' natural like afro on Richard Pryor/Show me somethin' natural like ass with some stretch marks.” Later in 2017, Barcelona-based artist Cinta Tort Cartró made headlines with her snapshots of stretch marks colored in with rainbow paints. “It all started as a form of expression, but it quickly turned into social commentary of the male-dominated culture we live in,” she told Yahoo Beauty.


A post shared by Cinta Tort Cartró (@zinteta) on

Jul 8, 2017 at 1:57am PDT

The changing nature of popular photography has played a huge role in the way the public sees stretch marks. For years, women have been told to cover up their marks with creams …read more


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How Expectations Coordinate Markets

January 2, 2018 in Economics

By Richard M. Ebeling


By: Richard M. Ebeling

Open, competitive markets have a resilient capacity to successfully coordinate the actions of, now, billions of people around the world. With an amazing adaptability to changing circumstances, the actions and reactions of multitudes of suppliers and demanders are brought into balance with each other. Yet, none of this requires government planning, regulation or directing control. But how does this all come about?

The key to this coordinating process is often assigned to the pricing system of the market economy. All the minimal information that anyone needs to bring his own actions as supplier or demander into balance with multitudes of others with whom he is interdependent is provided by the changing pattern of relative prices for finished consumer goods and the factors of production (labor, land, raw materials and capital).

Types and Uses of Knowledge in Society

Austrian economist Friedrich A. Hayek explained how this came about almost 75 years ago in his famous article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” first published in the American Economic Review in September 1945. He emphasized that matching the division of labor is an inescapable division of knowledge. Specialization necessarily means that each of us knows things that others do not.

Each of us possesses different types of knowledge in different complementary combinations. For instance, all of us, to one degree or another, have acquired what Hayek referred to as scientific or “textbook” knowledge. This is the type of knowledge we learned in school, and while we all learned many of the same things in our classroom experiences, especially in college or university we focused on and acquired far more specific and detailed knowledge about some subject in which we majored than many others who selected different majors at the same and different institutions of higher learning. The medical doctor knows many things that the criminal lawyer does not, just as the lawyer has a detailed knowledge of his area of the law that the biologist or the architect do not possess based on their classroom and assigned textbook learning, and so on.

Localized Knowledge of Time and Place

But Hayek pointed out that there is also another type of knowledge that we each possess in different ways, what he called “the localized knowledge of time and place.” This is the particular knowledge that is only learned, appreciated, and useable based on an individual working and interacting with others in a specific corner …read more


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‘Cutting’ Was the Brutal Victorian Version of Throwing Shade

January 2, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Beau Brummell. (Credit: Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo)

The newspaper item is only 87 characters long, but it bristles with disaster. “A social cut,” reads the headline. “Mrs. Abdul Hamid has not invited Mrs. William Hohenzollern to a pink tea.” Cutting was the Victorian version of “throwing shade,” and it could be socially devastating.

There’s a political story there—Hamid was an Ottoman sultan and the brutal architect of Turkey’s massacre of thousands of Armenians. Hohenzollern was the emperor of Germany, and he spent plenty of time and money courting Turkish influence. But the item is interesting for another reason: its compact, efficient illustration of shunning in action. Why did Mrs. Hamid “cut” Mrs. Hohenzollern? Why was her dis worthy of coverage in an 1898 newspaper? (And what’s a pink tea, anyway?)  

The idea was pretty simple: A person who was offended by another person “cut” them out by pretending they didn’t exist. Cutting said “you’re dead to me” without arguments or confrontation. It simply snipped an unwanted person out of an enemy’s social circle forever—and, if the cutter was powerful enough, could decimate the cuttee’s standing in polite society with a single blank stare.

Beau Brummell. (Credit: Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo)

Though the practice was in existence by at least the 1780s, it was first popularized by Beau Brummell, a 19th century dandy renowned for his keen sense of style. Brummell could create a fad just by wearing something, and is best known today for perfecting the art of men’s neckties. He could also drive something or someone out of style with a mere lift of the eyebrows.

Known for his epic set-downs, or insults, Brummell knew how to make his Regency-era peers squirm. Nobody—including his own rich friends—was off-limits. After falling out with Prince Regent George IV, the dandy completely ignored him in public. Legend has it that after shaking hands with everyone but the rotund prince, Brummell pointedly asked another guest about the identity of his fat friend. The cut may not have been born before that day, but Brummell turned it into an art form.

By the middle of the 19th century, cutting was so commonplace it appeared in dictionaries and etiquette books. It even had variants: The “cut direct” involved staring someone directly in the face and …read more


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How Silicon Valley’s Capitalist Greed Continues to Cheat Creators and Rob American Culture

January 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Rick Gell, AlterNet

It’s time to poke holes in the weak argument for why YouTube and other social media platforms aren’t held accountable for copyright violation or slanderous content.

First, they came for the music, and we did not speak out—because most are not musicians.

Then they came for the news, and we did not speak out—because most are not journalists.

Now they’ve come for our democracy, and maybe, just maybe, Americans are finally waking up to Silicon Valley’s power and impact on intellectual property, a free press and our democracy.   

As the country wrestles with rampant misinformation and the growing reach of Silicon Valley, there has been much talk of Russia, monopoly, algorithms and the need for more fact-checking and moderation.

A few weeks ago, in response to yet another problem with children’s content and comments by pedophiles on YouTube, it was announced that “YouTube plans to have 10,000 people dedicated to reviewing videos in 2018—though it would not to say how many workers it has doing that job now.”

I argue the system is broken at its core, driven by two rarely discussed laws passed 20 years ago that freed Silicon Valley from accountability for copyright infringement and defamation— wreaking havoc—first for copyright holders and then for news organizations—ever since.  

In 1996 Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and in 1998 the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)—long before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube existed. The laws effectively gave Silicon Valley a “get-out-of-jail-free” card allowing them to disregard long-standing laws and protocols governing intellectual property, media consumption and news, fueling growth at a scale only possible with such blanket immunity.  

Silicon Valley called it “disruption,” arguing the laws were necessary to achieve goals of a better society. Instead, they set off an often-arrogant disregard of content creators and news organizations. The rules publishers and media companies followed since the founding fathers enshrined copyright in our Constitution were abandoned. And the public is only now fully understanding the extent of the collateral damage.  

The Root Cause—Two Laws

Congress passed the Communications Decency Act of …read more


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The Wage-Gap Debate Is Based on Junk Science

January 2, 2018 in Economics

By Mateusz Machaj


By: Mateusz Machaj

Nowadays, rarely a week goes by free from news about the so-called gender pay gap. There is even now a “wage-gap day” on November 10. This is the day when women allegedly start to work for free for the rest of the year. The remaining 51 days are 14% of the year — a figure corresponding to the wage gap between women and men.

One can hardly find more mindless approach to this issue, however, as the idea behind the “working for free” narrative is an affront to any serious study of the of the wage-gap issue.

It is usually asserted that the gap is a product of discrimination and sexism. But any scientific approach to the issue requires that if we're going to make such an assertion, but we must take into account other variables that affect wages, such as the self-sorting by employees, total work experience (including working time), and education. Once we correct for such variables the adjusted wage gap is generated, which is significantly smaller. It is closer to the 2-5% range, depending on the study. Without such adjustments one is obviously comparing apples and oranges. We could as well say that a truck driver earning 12-times less than a banker is working for free since February, almost for the whole year.

I do not want to deal here, however, with the obvious distinction between the statistical wage gap and the adjusted wage gap — even though the popular press constantly and passionately refuses to learn anything from the existing research. I would like to focus here on what is left after the adjustment: that small, but still positive wage gap of 2-5%.

Let us pause for a while and analyze how the adjustment is made. There are various widely used statistical tools to do it, but their general methodological core is the same. We classify workers according to some objective and easily recognized features such as education, working time, sector and so forth. Furthermore, by using econometric analysis, we try to see the statistical connection of each change (increase or decrease) of a particular objective variable resulting in changes of the wage level. After the filtering is done we can recognize how much education, working time, and experience can contribute to higher income. Yet that does not fully bring the wage gap difference to zero.

What is a proper approach …read more


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The Comeuppance for Evangelicals Who Sold Their Souls to Trump Is Coming

January 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Ed Simon, History News Network

“Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”

This Advent season, while watching Donald Trump in front of a garishly green-and-red banner which proclaims “Make America Great Again,” take the opportunity to reflect on the Faustian bargain which allowed conservative evangelical Christians to “Keep Christ in Christmas” while seemingly divorcing Christianity from Christ. That Republican supply side economics, exemplified by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell’s cruel tax “reform,” contradicts Matthew 5:3 is clear. That Trump’s draconian immigration policy, which new reports indicate could now involve splitting families apart, violates the essence of Exodus 22:21 is obvious. And it shouldn’t have to be said that the new nationalism, this new fascism, with its “blood and soil” metaphysic, stands in opposition to the sublime universalism of Galatians 3:28.

For those 81% of white evangelicals who voted for Trump, and more troublingly for the profoundly inhumane, greedy, wrathful ideology that he embodies, and who have seemingly forgotten their scripture, I have another passage to remind them of: Matthew 4:10. Following the dark Adversary who took Christ up “an exceeding high mountain, and she with him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” And Christ, choosing to follow the small, humble, yet sacred path, rejected the temptations of worldly power declaring, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

America’s conservative evangelicals, however, have taken up that diabolical offer. Witness the self-debasement of a man like neurosurgeon and current H.U.D. secretary Ben Carson offering prayers for Trump on December 19th, with the president “quipping” to the press that they “need the prayer more than I do…. Maybe a good solid prayer and they’ll be honest, Ben, is that possible?” Or when at that same meeting Vice-President Mike Pence (one for whom we are perennially reminded of his piety while he seemingly forgets Matthew 6:6) offered a master class in saccharine sycophancy when he groveled to Trump with …read more


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Trump Favorite David Clarke Gets Himself Suspended from Twitter for Berserk, Liberal-Bashing Rant

January 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Jen Hayden, DailyKos

This is who the president very nearly added to his administration.

David Clarke Jr., the former Milwaukee County Sheriff who may or may not be currently gainfully employed at a Trump PAC, had a terrible, no good weekend. First, the news broke that the FBI got a search warrant for his email. The whole affair started in January 2016 when a fellow traveler on a flight to Milwaukee asked if he was Sheriff Clarke and then shook his head (in disgust) when Clarke affirmed it was him. Clarke ordered his deputies to come to the gate and they detained the man for questioning when he left the aircraft! 

That revelation set off Sheriff Snowflake and he began losing his mind on Twitter. Here is a brief taste of that meltdown. And no, we have no idea why he posts pictures of himself while tweeting.

But, it was this now deleted tweet that caused his account to be locked. He threatened to make “LYING LIB MEDIA” taste their own blood.

Twitter’s terms of service specifically forbid …read more


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Donald Trump Has Reason to Be Wary of 2018

January 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Rozsa, Salon

The historically unpopular president could be facing a Democratic wave in the mid-terms.

President Donald Trump is staring down the barrel of a very, very unfavorable political climate in 2018.

The foremost problem is the prospect of a Democratic sweep in the upcoming midterm elections, according to Axios. One source told the site that when it comes to the possibility that Democratic victories in November could both thwart the GOP's legislative agenda and make Trump vulnerable to impeachment, the president “gets it.”

Meanwhile Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and Trump's former chief of staff, has been telling Republican Party leaders that they need to have access to the entire data and ground operation for every single congressional district. He also encouraged them to not be thrifty, arguing that they must “spend whatever needs to be spent as if 2020 relies on it.”

Another dilemma facing the Trump White House is whether it should focus its 2018 legislative agenda on entitlement reform or measures more likely to win over moderates, according to Politico. In the former camp, House Speaker Paul Ryan has made it clear that slashing major entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security has been an important dream of his, and it is anticipated that he will urge the White House to move in that direction. At the same time, many Republican advisers — including some in the White House — feel that it is unlikely Republicans would be able to pass anything that right-wing now that their Senate majority has been reduced to 51-49. They instead have urged the president to try to strike a deal with Democratic congressional leaders on DACA and then work to pass an infrastructure reform bill, one that polls have found would be broadly popular.

One thing that is clear: By hosting Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at Camp David next weekend for the express purpose of developing a 2018 legislative agenda, Trump is determined to resolve those disputes as quickly as possible.


…read more


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Buy American Saps New York's Vitality, Strains Economy

January 2, 2018 in Economics

By Colin Grabow

Colin Grabow

Doing less with more is apparently the new motto in Albany. At
least that’s the logical conclusion, based on the recent decision
by the Legislature to pass, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign,
legislation mandating the use American-made structural iron and
steel for all surface road and bridge projects in the state.

Forbidding the use of cheaper foreign alternatives, the new law
is sure to raise the cost of needed infrastructure projects. In
turn, the state will either be forced to let the state’s roads and
bridges further degrade, make cuts from elsewhere in the budget to
accommodate the spending increase, or raise taxes on New Yorkers.
Even worse, the law takes effect amid a rising budget deficit and a
report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which
hands the state a grade of D+ for its bridges and D- for its

The case against Buy American laws is so straightforward that
even a politician should be able to understand it. Simply put,
every extra dollar spent on the purchase of an American-made
product instead of a cheaper foreign-made alternative is a dollar
wasted. The new Tappan Zee Bridge, for example, required 110,000
tons of steel. Every $10 extra per ton spent on steel represents a
reduction in state coffers of more than $1 million for no
discernible benefit. Politicians don’t shop this way with their own
dollars, so why does cost-effectiveness cease when tax dollars are
on the line?

Sold as a tonic to
promote economic strength, New York’s new Buy American law is
instead sure to sap the state’s vitality through a witch’s brew of
higher taxes, worsened infrastructure, and increased budget

Advocates for such provisions rarely acknowledge these increased
costs and instead emphasize an alleged need to support
steel-producing jobs in the United States. In the words of Senate
Majority Leader John J. Flanagan, they argue the law will “protect
workers right here in our own backyard.” But even this makes little
sense. Again, the Tappan Zee is a useful example. Subject to its
own Buy American requirements, steel for the $4 billion project
wasn’t produced in New York but rather in Indiana and Pennsylvania.
Sen. Flanagan’s house on Long Island appears to have quite the

It is true that steelworkers in those states will eventually use
their dollars to purchase products made in New York and other parts
of the United States, but this is no less the case with dollars
sent overseas. China, which produced steel used on the Verrazano
Bridge and LaGuardia Airport renovations, purchased $7.4 billion
worth of goods and services from New York last year. If …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Are Federal Spying Powers Modern Day Writs of Assistance?

January 2, 2018 in Economics

By Daniel Brookman


By: Daniel Brookman

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
—The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution

Continuing Resolution Bill H.R. 1370 was signed into law by President Trump Friday December 22nd allowing the President to symbolically sign the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in time for Christmas. Attached to the bill, in addition to the usual wasteful spending, is the extension of the controversial FISA Section 702 Amendment that allows the government to spy on Americans without a probable cause warrant. Fortunately thanks to a handful of bipartisan Senators the reauthorization only lasts until January 19th 2018. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) threatened to filibuster any bill that included a long-term extension of the FISA amendment.

Undoubtedly we will see the FISA Amendment debated in Congress after the New Year, and it will be important battle in an effort to restore Americans’ protections from warrantless searches and seizures guaranteed by the 4th Amendment. Overreaching intelligence community zealots and their allies in the legislature have been using national security as justification for a less than constitutional standard for collecting and using Americans private data.

Specifically, Section 702 currently allows the FBI and other federal agencies to use bulk data collected during the surveillance of foreign targets to be used in the prosecution of domestic cases. It acts as a backdoor to allow carte blanche spying on U.S. citizens bypassing the requirement for specific warrants issued upon probable cause. Senator Paul has been fighting for better protections for Americans from these unconstitutional actions and introduced the bipartisan USA Rights Act with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) earlier this year aimed at doing just that. The bill didn’t make it out of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee.

The blanket warrants being used are essentially no different than the Writs of Assistance the British Crown imposed on colonial merchants leading up to the Revolutionary War. These Writs were general warrants that allowed officials to search and seize private property based upon any suspected premise. James Otis, a prominent mid-18th century lawyer, appointed to the prestigious post of Advocate General of the Admiralty Court, resigned his post to represent the colonial …read more