Wednesday Reads: Warm-up and melt-downs

Good Morning…

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01/08 Luckovich cartoon: Chilled out | Mike Luckovich

Ah…tis the season for “expert” climatologist analysis on the circle box, of course I am speaking of Fox News and the other right-wing idiots. Here is a montage of clips and commentary via Jon Stewart, it is the first show of 2014, what a load of shit these folks are peddling. Jon Stewart to Fox News’ Varney: ‘Your f*cking opinion is not as valid as scientific fact’

Jon Stewart’s wish to start 2014 without “left vs. right ideological bullsh*t” was quickly dashed on The Daily Show Monday night, as he confronted conservatives’ continued spewing of hot air regarding global warming.

“There you have it: ‘War on Christmas’ is over; ‘war on carbon’ begins,” Stewart said. “Global warming: Just one more liberal conspiracy. Because even though there is a great deal of scientific data establishing climate change trends. Even though many of the models of global warming predict more extremes of weather — not just warming — apparently decades of peer-reviewed scientific study can be, like a ficus plant, destroyed in one cold weekend.”

Stewart got particularly incensed at Fox News host Stuart Varney’s argument that a Russian research ship’s getting trapped in ice in Antartica proved the world was getting colder, which he punctuated with a blithe, “That’s just my opinion.”

“That’s just your opinion — your opinion,” Stewart raged. “It means nothing.”

There is video at the link here, but I love what Stewart said about Fox News turning to Donald Trump for “expert” analysis on the weather:

“So global warming must be a hoax,” Stewart said sarcastically. “Because, I mean, Mr. Trump would never conceal bald-faced truth or go through any effort to hide when something’s clearly receding over the years.”

More on the weather:

A Bridge of Boats across Frozen Tigris River, Mosul, 1903 | Informed Comment

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 1.49.38 AM

The authors say locals in Mosul told them that the last time the river froze was 1750. That freezing became more rare after that date is significant, since 1750 marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and increased coal burning for energy. The period 1250-1850 or the medieval cooling period (often incorrectly called the ‘little ice age’) saw cool temperatures in many parts of the world.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Does the Cold Wave Imply Anything About Global Warming? The Answer is Clearly No.

The central and eastern U.S. is now in the midst of a major cold wave, with large regions dropping below zero F and wind chills reaching below -30F.    That is fact.

The problem is that the media, some non-governmental organizations, and plenty of individuals are making claims that this event has some kind of implication regarding anthropogenic global warming.

On one hand, some global warming skeptics suggest that such cold is clear evidence that global warming is nonsense.

On the other, global warming “advocates” explain the cold wave as another example of extreme weather forced by increased greenhouse gases.

The truth?  Both are wrong.

Real interesting read there.

So…if you are slowly warming up after the big chill, you may have missed a few new stories on politicians running for office in 2014.

Rep. Paul Broun: Democrats need ‘illegal aliens’ to win in Georgia | The Raw Story

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) said on Tuesday that Democrats will never be able to regain a majority in Georgia without enlisting the votes of “illegal aliens.” According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, the arch conservative ex-physician believes that the Republicans will reign uncontested over Georgia for decades to come.

“The only way Georgia is going to change is if we have all these illegal aliens in here in Georgia, and give them the right to vote. It would be morally wrong, it would be illegal to do so, under our current law,” Broun said.

“Actually, all these illegal aliens are getting federal largesse and taking taxpayer’s dollars. That’s the only way this state is going to become Democratic again, in the next number of decades,” he went on.

“It only helps the Democrats if we legalize all these illegal aliens in this country who the Democrats want to put on federal welfare programs — and actually, they are on federal welfare programs today,” he explained.

“The Democrats want to make them all basically dependent on the federal government so they can continue their radical, big government agenda.”

But that may be nothing compared to Erick Bennett, Sen. Susan Collins Challenger Says His Wife-Beating Conviction Proves ‘Guts and Integrity’ – Little Green Footballs

Erick Bennett, a conservative challenger to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who was convicted of assaulting his wife in 2003, argued that his continued denial of the charge shows his political integrity.

“The fact that I have been jailed repeatedly for not agreeing to admit to something I didn’t do should speak to the fact of how much guts and integrity I have,” Bennett, whose wife divorced him after the attack, said during a news conference Monday, captured by Bangor Daily News. “If I go to D.C., I’m going to have that same integrity in doing what I say, and saying what I do, when it comes to protecting people’s rights, as well as their pocketbooks.”

Bennett’s legal efforts to fight the wife-beating charge ran out when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld his conviction in 2004. But during the news conference to discuss his primary challenge to Collins, Bennett maintained the justice system is designed to “railroad” alleged domestic abusers.

More: Sen. Susan Collins Challenger Says His Wife-Beating Conviction Proves ‘Guts and Integrity’

Crazy.

The rest of the links are in a dump this morning, because I have to admit that I’m writing this post Tuesday night, and my fingers are freezing as I type on the keyboard.

Alfred Hitchcock’s unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened – Features – Films – The Independent

It’s a little known fact that the great director made a film about the Nazi death camps – but, horrified by the footage he saw, the documentary was never shown. Now it is to be released. Geoffrey Macnab reports

The British Army Film Unit cameramen who shot the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 used to joke about the reaction of Alfred Hithcock to the horrific footage they filmed. When Hitchcock first saw the footage, the legendary British director was reportedly so traumatised that he stayed away from Pinewood Studios for a week. Hitchcock may have been the king of horror movies but he was utterly appalled by “the real thing”.

In 1945, Hithcock had been enlisted by his friend and patron Sidney Bernstein to help with a documentary on German wartime atrocities, based on the footage of the camps shot by British and Soviet film units. In the event, that documentary was never seen.

Including women on convening committees increases women speakers at scientific meetings

Women are currently underrepresented among speakers at scientific meetings, both in absolute terms and relative to their representation among attendees, but a new study suggests one way to address this deficit. An analysis of 460 scientific symposia to be published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology reveals that the inclusion of at least one woman on a convening committee increases the proportion of female speakers by as much as 86% and significantly reduces the likelihood the session would have an all-male list of speakers.

Calif. deputy waited seconds before shooting boy with toy rifle: lawsuit | Reuters

A northern California sheriff’s deputy shot a 13-year-old just three seconds after ordering him to drop a plastic replica of an assault rifle, the boy’s parents claimed in an amended civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Erick Gelhaus, a veteran deputy and firearms instructor, killed Andy Lopez as the eighth grader was walking near his home in the wine-country town of Santa Rosa in October carrying an imitation gun he planned to return to a friend, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

[...]

At least two people at the scene moments before the shooting said the 5-foot, 3-inch teen looked like a child carrying a toy gun, the complaint says.

[...]

“From the time that the deputies called out to Andy Lopez until the time that Gelhaus fired his first shot, only three seconds elapsed,” the suit says. In an interview, Casillas said the information came from two witnesses to the incident.

The suit also says that deputies knew the boy would respond to the order to drop the gun by turning to face them. The suit does not say how they knew that, but Casillas said that it would be typical for someone who is not a criminal to turn toward the sound of a police officer shouting.

Now a few articles on Newspapers, Libraries and the MLA:

How Mature | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy

The Modern Language Association (not a group with which I normally sympathize much) apparently denied the Daily Caller press credentials for this year’s MLA conference. The response of Eric Owens, “Education Editor” of the Daily Caller? Calling the MLA “douchebags” six times, plus once in the headline of the column, a headline that right now appears on the Daily Caller front page. (I assume that, at the Daily Caller, like at many online sites but not like at most newspapers, a columnist — and especially an “editor” — gets to choose the post title.) Oh, and there are six “fascist”s in there, too; that at least is not a vulgarity, but it shows a certain lack of creativity, no?

MLA to bar pro-Israel campus groups from making presentations at Chicago conference | JPost | Israel News

The pro-Israel campus groups Hillel International and the Israel on Campus Coalition were denied the right to present a discussion at the January 9-12 Modern Language Association convention in Chicago, an event that is seen as a possible precursor to an MLA academic boycott of Israel that would mirror recent boycotts by the American Studies Association and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

MLA’s convention includes a roundtable discussion titled “Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and Palestine,” which will feature supporters but no opponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Academics Gone Wild: This MLA Conference Craigslist Ad Is Delightful

I don’t know about delightful, but it written better than some of the crap we saw in those CPAC Craigslist ads.

Newspaper to Put All Reporters Through Social Media Boot Camp

One of the country’s oldest remaining big city newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle, is set to announce a radical plan to arrest circulation decline and remain relevant in the digital age, Mashable has learned.

Audrey Cooper, the first female managing editor in the paper’s 148-year history, will require all staff to enter what is being described as a startup-style incubator. In a plush off-site office procured from the paper’s Food and Wine section, journalists will undergo two months of rigorous training — in effect, a digital and social media boot camp.

Ugh…that social media stuff is really getting ridiculous. I realize it is becoming the communication of the future, but if we completely surrender to this shitty way of “talking” to each other…what will really become of one to one interactions…or reading books with paper pages. This is the first public library without any books | Grist

The end is near! Page-sniffers, mourn the loss of our dog-eared friends! I MEAN … HURRAH for a library that saves trees! (Sob.)

BiblioTech is an all-digital public library on the south side of San Antonio that offers 10,000 titles on 600 e-readers, 25 iPads, and 25 laptops. The library also includes 50 desktop computers and 100 Nook tablets preloaded with children’s books — just no physical books. (Patrons can read the library’s digital books on their own tablets as well.) Internet access and kids’ storytime are other, more familiar perks.

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Bexar BiblioTech

Sounds pretty green, right? Without the need for vast book storage space, the $2.3 million library can be way smaller than traditional libraries. At fewer than 5,000 square feet, BiblioTech’s smaller space means less heat and light and thus less pollution. As sage Umbra once wrote:

It hurts to say it, but e-books are looking like a good option, even perhaps the better option. Ouch …

There are caveats as usual, but I am forced to report the general conclusion that e-books produce less CO2 emissions and use less water than conventional newspapers and books.

According to Ted Genoways’ oft-cited article “The Price of the Paperless Revolution,” it takes roughly the same amount of energy and materials to make an e-reader as it does 50 books. So for BiblioTech to break even, energy-wise, patrons would need to read 50 books on each tablet. With 10,000 library users registered in its first three months, this probably won’t be an issue.

I have such a hard time getting my thoughts together, if I am trying to write something down or figure something out, without having the book in front of me in paper form.

Give me those dog-eared pages and pencil-lined notated margins any day.

Now for the big news of the morning, there is a melt-down crisis: Terrifying Velveeta Shortage Threatens to Ruin Dip Season

Terrifying Velveeta Shortage Threatens to Ruin Dip Season

One Velveeta official expressed apologies for the ill-timed shortage, right on the cusp of “dip season” which is a thing that exists, like the Holiday season or deer season or back to school season or breakup season. Dip season.

According to AdAge, in recent weeks, consumers in some grocery stores in New Jersey noticed that their favorite Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product was missing. After inquiring with store officials, they were informed that there would be no more Velveeta until Mid February. Brand officials have said that the shortage is due to a “factory issue,” but my biggest “issue” here is how the fuck is America supposed to completely submerge its head in creamy, warm queso dip while millionaires concuss each other on national television WITHOUT MOTHERFUCKING ENORMOUS BRICKS OF VELVEETA FAKE CHEESE? HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO CELEBRATE A PROPER AND TRADITIONAL DIP SEASON WITHOUT NUTRITIONALLY INFERIOR MASS PRODUCED PRODUCTS?

THANKS OBAMA.

Have a good morning, stay warm….and please share what you are reading about this cold winter day.


Wednesday Reads: Election Results, Smoking Crack and Dueling Plagiarisms

021efd667a24acb55d0f80b82a096088Good Morning

Well…Election Day is over, and here are the results…in link dump format:

Ally of Clintons Narrowly Wins Election as Virginia Governor – NYTimes.com

Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic fund-raiser and ally of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, was elected governor of Virginia on Tuesday, narrowly defeating the state’s conservative attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, and confirming Virginia’s evolution as a state increasingly dominated politically by the Democratic-leaning Washington suburbs.

Bill de Blasio poised to usher in new era of liberal governance in New York – The Washington Post

Bill de Blasio overwhelmingly was elected mayor here Tuesday, becoming the first Democrat to lead New York in 20 years and ushering in a new era of activist liberal governance in the nation’s largest city.

Shortly after polls closed at 9 p.m., several networks projected that de Blasio soundly defeated Republican Joe Lhota, a protégé of former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Chris Christie Coasts to 2nd Term as Governor of New Jersey – NYTimes.com

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey won re-election by a crushing margin on Tuesday, a victory that vaulted him to the front ranks of Republican presidential contenders and made him his party’s foremost proponent of pragmatism over ideology.

Well, about that ideology.  You have to admit, he scored big points with his base when he took down that teacher who was a) an educator b) union member and 3) a woman…meanwhile, in Illinois a gay marriage bill was approved!

The General Assembly today narrowly approved a gay marriage bill, clearing the way for Illinois to become the 15th state to legalize same-sex unions.

The bill got 61 votes in the House, one more than the bare minimum needed to send the measure back to the Senate, which quickly signed off. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would sign the bill into law should it reach his desk.

Reaction is rolling in tonight from the White House to City Hall.

President Barack Obama issued a statement praising the General Assembly.

“As president, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else,” he said in the statement. “So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement following the House vote.

“Today is a critical moment in history for Illinois and for the entire LGBT movement. Finally, gays and lesbians across our state are guaranteed the fundamental right to marry, and countless couples with children will be acknowledged for what they are under the law – families just like everyone else,” said Emanuel in the statement.

Hey, I know y’all have heard of this guy in Canada.  Rob Ford, Toronto Mayor, Admits Having Smoked Crack Cocaine (VIDEO)

Rob Ford said Tuesday he loves his job and will stay on as mayor of Toronto despite admitting for the first time that he smoked crack.

Ford earlier acknowledged he smoked crack “probably a year ago” when he was in a “drunken stupor,” but balked at growing pressure on him to resign.

“I was elected to do a job and that’s exactly what I’m going to continue doing,” Ford said. “On Oct. 27 of 2014, I want the people of this great city to decide whether they want Rob Ford to be their mayor.”

Well, check out the tie this dude was wearing when he gave his speech today: Rob Ford’s Ridiculous Crack-Apology Football Tie Now Available on eBay | Vanity Fair

For The World’s Most Dignified Press Conference this afternoon, Canadian mayor/crack enthusiast Rob Ford wore, naturally, The World’s Most Dignified Necktie.

It is black, made of polyester (the crack-cocaine of synthetic fibers), contains the logos of various N.F.L. teams (the Washington Redskin Native American mascot receives prominent placement), and is currently available for $14.99 on eBay. Is that more than the cost of an individual-sized portion of crack, or less? You’d have to ask someone who knows crack like the back of his crack-pipe-wielding hand—someone like Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

Who can speed-dial the crisis mangers more quickly: Surrey Clothing, which manufactured the tie, or the N.F.L., whose franchises now share the above screen grab with a portly 44-something crack lover?

So, he’s wearing a NFL tie…great branding there. Bullying football players, concussion cover-ups, racist team names…and a poster boy for drunk, crack smoking politicians.  But back to Rob Ford. Wow, now that guy has balls…dude gets caught smoking crack…admits he did it, possibly during a drunken stupor…and says he is staying put as Mayor of Toronto.

That is almost as ballsy as Rand Paul, who gets caught repeatedly plagiarizing, admits he did it…challenges Rachael Maddow to a faux duel…then announces he will go “dueling” Tarantino style on anyone’s ass who accuses him of cheating again! Only to turn around and blame his staff…what an asshole. Well, it looks like someone has finally had enough of Rand Paul’s shit: Washington Times ends Sen. Rand Paul column amid plagiarism allegations – Washington Times

Which leads me to this little op/ed from Cagle Cartoons: Corrections by Jason Stanford

Last week’s news contained some factual errors that merit correction. We strive for accuracy at all times and regret falling short in these rare instances.

An article on Sunday claimed that the National Security Agency collected data on tens of millions of phone calls in France and Spain. In actual—if less sensational—fact, the records were “handed over to the NSA by European intelligence services as part of joint operations.” We regret getting the story exactly backwards.

131506 600 Corrections cartoonsDaryl Cagle / Cagle Cartoons

Also on Sunday, a television news magazine featured an American security contractor who claimed to have fought off terrorists at the State Department compound in Benghazi. It now appears that this person filed an official report stating he was nowhere near the compound. We regret not checking out his story before giving him a national platform.

In repeated interviews on Monday and Tuesday, Sen. Lindsay Graham threatened to filibuster federal nominations because “the people who survived the attack in Benghazi have not been made available to the U.S. Congress for oversight purposes.” In fact, they did testify before Congress recently. The cable news anchors regret not challenging him on this easily verified factual misstatement.

A guest op-ed on Monday by actress and author Suzanne Somers misattributed the rantings of emails in ALL CAPS to Vladimir Lenin and Winston Churchill. Furthermore, her op-ed repeated the previously discredited assertion that Canadian doctors are fleeing socialized medicine for the unregulated profiteering in the United States. Also, Ms. Somers also mistook a dog for a horse, but in the greater scheme of things this worries us less than thinking the Thigh Master pitchwoman was a credible health care policy expert. We regret the error.

An article on Monday incorrectly implied that the Obama administration did not know about half of those with health insurance policies purchased on the individual market would receive cancellations. In fact, the regulations written in 2010 predicted that 40%-67% of those in the individual market would lose their policies because of market forces, including insurance companies unilaterally lowering benefits, shrinking coverage or increasing your co-pays, i.e., behaving like insurance companies. We regret the error.

In a follow-up story Tuesday, morning news co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck further claimed this information was “buried in Obamacare,” asking “Where was that information up at the top? Where was that in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012? Where was that information?” While she did list the progression of years in correct sequential order, the predicted changeover in the individual health insurance market had been previously reported in 2010 by the network that now employs her. She may or may not regret the error.

Okay, because it is so good…here is the rest of it:

Repeated television interviews last week featured consumers with cancelled insurance policies. After Michael Hiltzik of The Los Angeles Times and Paul Waldman of The American Prospect quickly debunked the horror stories, it became clear that the television journalists failed to do more than turn on the camera and say, “Golly” and “Oh, really? Wow.”

It is doubtful that a single television reporter asked any of these people four crucial questions: What did their old plan cover? Did they go to the exchanges? If the premiums were cheap, were the co-pays and deductibles affordable? Did they qualify for subsidies? We regret giving frightened consumers platforms to air uninformed complaints without ever performing what would be recognized by experts as “journalism” until the cameras were turned off. The answers to these questions revealed that the real horror story was how insurance companies could get away with junk policies that left consumers exposed to financial ruin until Obamacare came along.

Journalism’s apparent inability to ask follow-up questions, challenge assumptions and debunk lies has left the country in a bit of an uninformed tizzy about its national and financial security. All of this would have been simple to prevent had journalists had checked their facts before polluting the news with false information.

However, researching a subject can get in the way of achieving the ratings usually attained through sensationalizing falsehood and ignorance. We regret the errors, but we can’t promise it all won’t happen again next week. After all, we hear Sally Struthers has written something about Benghazi that’s really dynamite.

Oh…can’t wait for that report! Ya know, I loved Struthers’ work for starving children in Africa:

Starvin’ Marvin (Season 1, Episode 9) – Full Episode Player – South Park Studios

While trying to get a free promotional digital sports watch, the boys end up contacting an organization that helps starving children in Africa. Mistaking Cartman for a starving African child, government authorities send him to Ethiopia. Adding chaos to confusion, a flock of wild turkeys revolt after their treatment at the hands of the local genetic engineer. South Park is at the mercy of genetically altered turkeys.

If you don’t remember this episode…

Starvin’ Marvin is the eighth episode of the first season of the American animated television series South Park. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on November 19, 1997. In the episode, Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Stan send money to an African charity hoping to get a sports watch, but are instead sent an Ethiopian child whom they dub Starvin’ Marvin. Later, Cartman is accidentally sent to Ethiopia, where he learns activist Sally Struthers is hoarding the charity’s food for herself. In an accompanying subplot, after genetically engineered turkeys attack South Park residents, Chef rallies the residents to fight back, in a parody of the film Braveheart.

Okay, joking aside…there’s another rape case on video that is making news. 16-Year-Old Florida Girl Held Down By Classmates, Raped On Videotape: Cops

A 16-year-old’s visit to a Hollywood, Florida home turned into a nightmare when a pack of five teens descended upon her, dragged her by the hair, kicked and punched her, then held her down while she was raped in a videotaped assault, police say.

Four of the accused and the victim are students at South Broward High, according to their Facebook pages. The three boys and two girls, ages 15 to 19, have been charged with felony sexual battery and false imprisonment.

“It just makes it all the more disturbing when you have this many people working in concert and aggression,” Maria Schneider, state prosecutor in charge of the juvenile unit, said Monday. “I can’t imagine how overwhelmed and under siege someone would feel under these circumstances. It’s very traumatic.”

Hospital officials declined to say whether the victim, who bled from an ear and drifted in and out of consciousness with her eyes swollen shut when police questioned her Saturday morning, remained hospitalized Monday. Because of the nature of the crime, the Sun Sentinel is not naming her.

There is some pretty graphic detail in the article.

Next up, two links from AJAM:

SC tribe looks to casino in NC to preserve its heritage | Al Jazeera America

In central South Carolina, clay is pulled from the land near the Catawba River by a Native American tribe of the same name. The loam is processed much as it was thousands of years ago, coiled into pots, scraped and burnished with river rocks and fired over an open pit until it can endure.

And in that ancient pottery tradition — the oldest continuing one in North America — lies the story of the Catawba people, according to the tribe’s elected chief, Bill Harris.

It is also motivation for its economic future. The Catawba Indian Nation, South Carolina’s only federally recognized Indian tribe, is looking to a casino resort and high-stakes bingo as a way to ensure its cultural future.

Central to the tribe’s plan for economic development: Holding the federal government to its promise, the tribe will expand throughout its ancestral lands. It has set its sights on 16 acres across the state line, in Cleveland County, N.C., where it hopes to build a 220,000-square-foot gaming facility and 750-room resort. It estimates that the $340 million casino project will initially create at least 4,000 jobs in a county where unemployment lingers at about 10 percent.

There’s another hurdle to the plan. The Cherokee, the Catawba’s historical trade rival, view the casino plans as competition.

“Based on the newly released information provided by Cleveland County, we are greatly concerned that this development will negatively impact job growth and revenue at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and for the western region of North Carolina,” Cherokee Chief Michell Hicks said in a statement in the tribe’s newspaper.

That is a long read, but it is interesting to see the competition between the two tribes…over what seems to be an endless supply of customers. The new outpost that Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is building is actually just north of Banjoville, on the other side of the Georgia/North Carolina border.

Median wage falls to lowest level since 1998  by David Cay Johnston| Al Jazeera America

Last year the median wage hit its lowest level since 1998, revealing that at least half of American workers are being left behind as the economy slowly recovers from the Great Recession.

But at the top, wages soared — the latest indication in a long-running trend of increasing inequality, with income gains going to top earners while the majority of workers see stagnant or falling wages.

Al Jazeera is the first news organization to report these figures from the Social Security Administration (SSA), which were released late in October.

The median wage — half of workers make more, half less — came to $27,519 last year, virtually unchanged from 2011. Measured in 2012 dollars, the median wage was down $4.

The 2012 median wage was at its lowest level since 1998, when the median stood at $26,984.

From its all-time peak in 2007, the median wage was down $980. That means someone at the midpoint in pay worked 52 weeks last year but earned about the equivalent of working just 50 weeks at 2007 pay levels, the last peak year for the economy.

The average wage, on the other hand, improved last year. It increased to $42,498, up $434, or 1 percent from 2011 after considering inflation. But the average wage remained below its $42,921 peak in 2007, I calculated from the SSA data.

These figures from the SSA cover only cash pay, not fringe benefits such as health insurance and pensions. The figures are reported to the Internal Revenue Service to verify what individuals put on their tax returns.

More on what those numbers mean at the link.

I will end with this cartoon from Luckovich: 11/6 Luckovich cartoon: ‘If you like your health plan…’ | Mike Luckovich

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So…what’s going on in your world this morning? Tell us about it below in the comment section!


Sunday Reads: A line around the number…

6629Good Morning

This will be a quick post, I will try and post a longer one later on this afternoon. My sleep patterns are way off and I am just too tired.

Check this out, a real literacy test that was used to get the okay to vote in the state of Louisiana: Voting rights and the Supreme Court: The impossible “literacy” test Louisiana used to give black voters.

This week’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder overturned Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which mandated federal oversight of changes in voting procedure in jurisdictions that have a history of using a “test or device” to impede enfranchisement. Here is one example of such a test, used in Louisiana in 1964.

After the end of the Civil War, would-be black voters in the South faced an array of disproportionate barriers to enfranchisement. The literacy test—supposedly applicable to both white and black prospective voters who couldn’t prove a certain level of education but in actuality disproportionately administered to black voters—was a classic example of one of these barriers.

The website of the Civil Rights Movement Veterans, which collects materials related to civil rights, hosts a few samples of actual literacy tests used in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi during the 1950s and 1960s.

The test is unbelievable…

This test—a word-processed transcript of an original—was linked to by Jeff Schwartz, who worked with the Congress of Racial Equality in Iberville and Tangipahoa Parishes in the summer of 1964. Schwartz wrote about his encounters with the test in this blog post.

Most of the tests collected here are a battery of trivia questions related to civic procedure and citizenship. (Two from the Alabama test: “Name the attorney general of the United States” and “Can you be imprisoned, under Alabama law, for a debt?”)

But this Louisiana “literacy” test, singular among its fellows, has nothing to do with citizenship. Designed to put the applicant through mental contortions, the test’s questions are often confusingly worded. If some of them seem unanswerable, that effect was intentional. The (white) registrar would be the ultimate judge of whether an answer was correct.

Go to the link to try your hand at that test…it is a hell of a thing. When you want to see some of the answers, here is an answer key: Key for literacy test.pub – Key for literacy test.pdf

This next article is a good example of how expensive it is to…Just Have the Baby? A New Mom Reveals Why There Is No ‘Just,’ and Not Necessarily Any Justice Either

To say “Just have the baby” is to say “Just risk a prolonged illness, surgery, and the loss of your income when you have a lot of new expenses.” It’s to tell someone casually that they should sign up for the possibility of experiencing more physical pain and agony than they thought a person could live through, and maybe having a great deal of it continue for days, weeks, months, possibly even years.

Go read the whole piece, it is good.

This was something cool: Russian meteor shockwave circled globe twice

The shock wave from an asteroid that burned up over Russia in February was so powerful that it travelled twice around the globe, scientists say.

They used a system of sensors set up to detect evidence of nuclear tests and said it was the most powerful event ever recorded by the network.

More than 1,000 people were injured when a 17m, 10,000-tonne space rock burned up above Chelyabinsk.

The study appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The researchers studied data from the International Monitoring System (IMS) network operated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO).

The detection stations look out for ultra-low frequency acoustic waves, known as infrasound, that could come from nuclear test explosions. But the system can also detect large blasts from other sources, such as the Chelyabinsk fireball.

Alexis Le Pichon, from the Atomic Energy Commission in France and colleagues report that the explosive energy of the impact was equivalent to 460 kilotonnes of TNT. This makes it the most energetic event reported since the 1908 Tunguska meteor in Siberia.

There is more at the link about some new discoveries over at the Tunguska site, you can give the link a click to read the rest.

Think of this as an open thread. Hopefully I will see you a bit later on, otherwise…please share what you are reading about this morning.


Friday Nite Lite: SCOTUS Edition

Laura Beck @ Jezebel:  You Gotta See This Picture of San Francisco’s City Hall Taste the rainbow, motherfuckers. Who else already booked their ticket to Pride this weekend? Usually it’s too much of a scene for me, but this weekend feels like it calls for a scene. [via Facebook]

Good Evening

What a week!

As you can imagine the cartoonist have been busy…so with sooooo many cartoons this week, I have to break them up into two posts. This first one will focus on the decisions rendered from the Supreme Court, primarily dealing with the Voting Rights Act and DOMA. They are in no particular order, and some are better than others, but I think y’all are going to get a kick out of them.

Let’s get the party started!

Comedy Central’s Indecision, God’s really going out of his way to mess with…

God’s really going out of his way to mess with opponents of same-sex marriage.<br /><br /> Photo via @MarkZinni

God’s really going out of his way to mess with opponents of same-sex marriage.

Photo via @MarkZinni

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle – 06/27/2013

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

O Brother, The South has been redeemed – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Mobile Register – 06/26/2013

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - O Brother, The South has been redeemed

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel – 06/26/2013

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle – 06/26/2013

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel – 06/25/2013

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

Let Freedom Ring by Political Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies

133780 600 Let Freedom Ring cartoons

Fair and Balanced by Political Cartoonist Christopher Weyant

133783 600 Fair and Balanced cartoons

Marriage Parade by Political Cartoonist Steve Sack

133784 600 Marriage Parade cartoons

Voting Rights Act shredded by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

133707 600 Voting Rights Act shredded cartoons

Voting Rights Act – Political Cartoon by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News – 06/26/2013

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Voting Rights Act

(Actually, I would have drawn that with two elephants.)

SCOTUS Voting Rights by Political Cartoonist Bill Day

133710 600 SCOTUS Voting Rights cartoons

Supreme Court rulings by Political Cartoonist Jeff Darcy

133796 600 Supreme Court rulings cartoons

Voting Rights Act by Political Cartoonist Chris Britt

133740 600 Voting Rights Act cartoons

VRA ruling and Voter ID by Political Cartoonist John Cole

133806 600 VRA ruling and Voter ID cartoons

Voting Rights by Political Cartoonist Milt Priggee

133744 600 Voting Rights cartoons

6/26 Luckovich cartoon: Law of the land | Mike Luckovich

062613-toon-luckovich-ed

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon – Political Cartoon by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press – 06/26/2013

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

This next cartoon is the most sinister but it is depicting the real situation down South, at least in my opinion…

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 06/28/2013

Cartoon by David Horsey -

Just look at those dark faces in the windows…

DOMA DOA by Political Cartoonist Keith Knight

133799 600 DOMA DOA cartoons

DOMA overturned by Political Cartoonist Sean Delonas

133837 600 DOMA overturned cartoons

Calif doomed after prop 8 by Political Cartoonist Monte Wolverton

133840 600 Calif doomed after prop 8 cartoons

Gay Marriage by Political Cartoonist Dry Bones

133841 600 Gay Marriage cartoons

6/30 Luckovich cartoon: Voting rights | Mike Luckovich

063013-toon-luckovich-ed

Marriage is Important by Political Cartoonist Bruce Plante

133851 600 Marriage is Important cartoons

This is an open thread!


Thursday Reads: Aftermath of SCOTUS Voting Rights Decision

SCOTUS KKK

Good Morning!!

This is going to be a quickie post, because I’m feeling kind of sick this morning.

Although I’m thrilled with the DOMA decision yesterday, I still can’t get past my anger and sadness about the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act. So I’m just going to post the (above) “official 2013 photo” of the U.S. Supreme Court and some accompanying links that demonstrate the damage the Court has done in its horrendous decision on the Voting Rights Act.

I’ll begin with this excellent post by Linda Greenhouse at The New York Times: Current Conditions, which neatly summarizes the Court’s “conservative” wing’s blatant “judicial activism,” to quote a frequent charge of conservatives against “liberal” judges.

These have been a remarkable three days, as the Supreme Court finished its term by delivering the only four decisions that most people were waiting for. The 5-to-4 decisions striking down the coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act and the Defense of Marriage Act will go far toward defining the Roberts court, which has concluded its eighth year. Monday’s place-holding ruling on affirmative action in higher education, although it decided very little, is also definitional, for reasons I’ll explain. There is a great deal to say about each decision, and about how each reflects on the court. My thoughts are preliminary, informed by that phrase in the chief justice’s voting rights opinion: current conditions.

By this phrase, the chief justice meant to suggest that there is a doctrinal basis for drawing a boundary around Congressional authority, for judicial insistence that a burden that Congress chooses to impose on the states has to be justified as a cure for a current problem. In the context of voting rights, an area over which the 15th Amendment gives Congress specific authority, this is a deeply problematic position that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion demolishes.

Please go read the whole column–it’s difficult to get Greenhouse’s thesis into an excerpt. The blatant hypocrisy of the “conservative” justices–especially Scalia is mind-boggling, especially when the stunning effects of the Voting Rights decision on “current conditions” are already obvious and dramatic–just as were the disastrous effect of the Citizens United decision. A few examples.

The Guardian:  Texas rushes ahead with voter ID law after supreme court decision

Officials in Texas said they would rush ahead with a controversial voter ID law that critics say will make it more difficult for ethnic minority citizens to vote, hours after the US supreme court released them from anti-discrimination constraints that have been in place for almost half a century.

The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, declared that in the light of the supreme court’s judgment striking down a key element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act he was implementing instantly the voter ID law that had previously blocked by the Obama administration. “With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”

Greensboro News and Record: NC senator: Voter ID bill moving ahead with ruling

Voter identification legislation in North Carolina will pick up steam again now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, a key General Assembly leader said Tuesday.

A bill requiring voters to present one of several forms of state-issued photo ID starting in 2016 cleared the House two months ago, but it’s been sitting since in the Senate Rules Committee to wait for a ruling by the justices in an Alabama case, according to Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, the committee chairman. He said a bill will now be rolled out in the Senate next week.

The ruling essentially means a voter ID or other election legislation approved in this year’s session probably won’t have to receive advance approval by U.S. Justice Department attorneys or a federal court before such measures can be carried out.

Northwest Ohio.com: Voter ID and restricted early voting likely after SCOTUS ruling

ATLANTA (AP) — Across the South, Republicans are working to take advantage of a new political landscape after a divided U.S. Supreme Court freed all or part of 15 states, many of them in the old Confederacy, from having to ask Washington’s permission before changing election procedures in jurisdictions with histories of discrimination.

After the high court announced its momentous ruling Tuesday, officials in Texas and Mississippi pledged to immediately implement laws requiring voters to show photo identification before getting a ballot. North Carolina Republicans promised they would quickly try to adopt a similar law. Florida now appears free to set its early voting hours however Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP Legislature please. And Georgia’s most populous county likely will use county commission districts that Republican state legislators drew over the objections of local Democrats.

AL.com:  Alabama photo voter ID law to be used in 2014, state officials say

MONTGOMERY, Alabama –  Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision clears the way for Alabama’s new photo voter ID law to be used in the 2014 elections without the need for federal preclearance, state officials said.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and Secretary of State Beth Chapman said they believed the voting requirement, which is scheduled to take effect with the June 2014 primaries, can simply move forward.

“Photo voter ID will the first process that we have gone through under this new ruling,” Chapman said today.

Memphis Business Journal: Mississippi voter ID law could start next year

Voters in Mississippi may have to start showing a photo ID to vote by the middle of 2014, according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

According to the Associated Press, Hoseman spoke Tuesday after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that certain state and local governments no longer need federal approval to change election laws. That ruling opens up the possibility that Mississippi will implement a voter identification requirement.

According to Think Progress, Arizona and South Dakota  will likely be trying to pass Voter ID laws soon. I’m sue that won’t be the end of it.

Just a few more links:

Joan Walsh: The ugly SCOTUS voting rights flim-flam

Ari Berman: What the Supreme Court Doesn’t Understand About the Voting Rights Act

Stephen Hill: So the Voting Rights Act Is Gutted—What Can Protect Minority Voters Now?

I’ll end there and leave it up to you guys to link to other important news stories. What are you reading and blogging about today?