April 24th, 2014
Wealth of US middle class now lower than Canada’s
American workers who previously made up the wealthiest middle class in the world have lost that distinction to Canada, according to new research that attributes the economic stagnation on rising income inequality in the US.
And they’ll continue to lose it and they’ll continue not to give a fuck, until the day comes when we’re in another great depression, standing in soup lines or the empire completely crumbles like the Soviet Union did in the 90s. Chaos, it’s whats for dinner!
April 24th, 2014
States’ refusal to expand Medicaid is deadly attack on poor Americans - Chicago Sun-Times
I don’t know what other peoples experiences have been like, but the Affordable Care Act aka “Obama care” has been working for me & my family. And enrolling for me was easier than enrolling in any other government program. Much easier than applying for financial aid back when I was in school, a drivers license, a work permit, a green card and certainly U.S. citizenship! Social security card, U.S. passport, etc. I think it has a lot to do with the state you live in and if your state’s governor embraces Obama Care and/or expands Medicaid. Or if he or she is a douche-bag ideologue.
Not surprisingly, the states that have refused to expand Medicaid include almost the entire South, the states of the former Confederacy, as well as the Republican bastions in the Midwest and West (from Kansas to Idaho). These are among the poorest states in the union, with the most residents who have no health insurance, and the worst health care period.
We pledge allegiance to “One nation, under God.” When terrorists attack us, we unite as one to defend our nation and our countrymen and women. Yet, we allow the doctrine of the Confederacy — states’ rights — to divide us, even to the point of costing Americans their lives.
According to a Harvard study, an estimated 8 million Americans will remain uninsured because of the decision of 25 states to refuse to expand Medicaid. They estimate that will result in about 7,000 deaths per year, or 19 a day. The victims are working people, who earn too much to get Medicaid and too little to afford health insurance. Conservatives, one would think, would want to help those who get the early bus, who clean our streets, take care of our children, work the midnight shift. But they hate Obama far more than they care for low-wage workers. They choose partisan politics over the common good.
April 24th, 2014
Coup no more? US clears Egypt to receive Apache helicopters
The United States pledged 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt on Tuesday, easing back for the first time on sanctions placed against the country last year following the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi.
Delivery of the choppers is intended to aid in counterterrorism operations, the Pentagon said in a statement Wednesday, but comes only months after the US first suspended military aid to Egypt after the country’s interim government began harshly cracking down on dissidents and protesters.
According to the statement released by the US military on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told his Egyptian counterpart, Col. Den. Sedki Soby, that US President Barack Obama has authorized the decision to deliver the helicopters.
Next, the Pentagon said, US Secretary of State John Kerry “soon will certify to Congress that Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States and is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.” That deal between America’s top Middle East ally on Egypt has for decades allowed Cairo to stand as one of the largest recipients of US military and economic aid.
Nevertheless, the Pentagon said that American officials have yet to be assured that Egypt is on a US-favored path so soon after last year’s uprising.
Military aid to Egypt was suspended by the US last year after Pres. Morsi was ousted during a coup d’état led by Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, setting in motion the second government overthrow there in a span of just two years. Adly Mansour was installed as Egypt’s interim president last July after the removal of Morsi, and Al-Sisi is expected to win presidential elections scheduled there next month.
April 24th, 2014
Benghazi attack resulted from US 'allowing arms deliveries' to militants
The commission, set up last year by US center-right press watchdog Accuracy in Media (AIM), is comprised of retired senior military officers and CIA insiders and experts. Its goal is to answer the remaining questions about the September 11, 2012 attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
No shit? You don’t say? You reap what you sow!
April 23rd, 2014
Students Default on Loans Over Obscure Provision
It’s time to shut down the money machine that is today’s college system. If better education is required to get employment then the public system needs to change to reflect it. The only difference a degree is making is that students who used to complete High School with high marks are not getting a complete education in public schools and now College is mandatory. If it is mandatory then the public education system needs to fund it. There was a time when Colleges only took the top 10% due to economic factors and the best always got a free ride. Now the only free ride is sports and students begin their working adult life in poverty.
The degrees offered today are basically the same as a HS diploma was 40 years ago. The only way the system could right itself is close down 60% of the Colleges and offer cheap on-line degrees that people can afford. Education money is going towards vocation type classes and not toward true College level education. Yes teachers would need to find other jobs but most teaching jobs are now part time, paying barely above minimum wage so what’s stopping the changes except high administrator salaries? Knowledge shouldn’t cost you your life. The game is rigged!
Because the nation’s student-debt situation wasn’t enough of a mess: A new federal report warns that some students are going into default even when they’ve been paying back their loans on time, reports USA Today. It’s because of an obscure provision covering private student loans—if the co-signer dies, the loan automatically goes into default, a development that can wreak havoc on a student’s credit record, reports the Washington Post. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it’s been receiving a rising number of complaints about the issue. A typical example is when a parent or grandparent co-signs for the loan, but dies before it’s paid off.
What’s strange, points out the New York Times, is that this kind of automatic default doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of the students or the lenders. “It doesn’t seem that there is a thoughtful business decision,” says a CFPB official. The agency didn’t have exact numbers, but the problem affects only private loans, and the vast majority of student loans are federal ones, which don’t require a co-signer. Not that all is rosy on the federal front: The Wall Street Journal reports that critics are worried that increasingly popular debt-forgiveness programs are not only costing the government too much money but might be encouraging schools to raise tuition even higher.
April 23rd, 2014
How Safe Is California? Earthquakes In Mexico And Chile Raise Questions About Preparedness
The U.S. and Japan are seen as the leaders in earthquake preparedness. But a spike in seismic activity the past few years has even tiny countries like Nicaragua busy prepping for the worst. Nicaragua is one of the best prepared to deal with earthquakes – before and after they happen. “Nicaragua is really pro-active in monitoring earthquake activity,” John Vidale, a seismologist at the University of Washington, told Fox News Latino. “They have a really good seismologist and are prepared for the eventuality of a major earthquake.”
Nicaragua learned a hard lesson in 1972, when a magnitude 6.2 earthquake devastated the capital of Managua and left between 5,000 and 10,000 people dead. Following three recent quakes in the Central American nation, President Daniel Ortega renewed preparation efforts in the country. He began building a field hospital, urged people to donate blood to the Red Cross, asked them to sleep outside susceptible buildings and moved elderly Nicaraguans into shelters.
With fears that the fault underneath has been reactivated, officials from the government agency in charge of disaster preparedness, Sinapred, told the BBC it was getting ready for a “catastrophe of major proportions.”
Nicaragua’s recent quakes – the Central American nation was hit by three earthquakes last week – along with a magnitude 8.2 quake in northern Chile and magnitude 5.1 tremor that shook southern California in March, have capped off a busy decade of seismic activity. That activity has scientists closely examining movements of the world’s fault lines and lawmakers in nations from South America to Asia to the United States wondering how prepared they are for a major shake.
“California is pretty safe, and Alaska is doing pretty well,” said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the National Earthquake Information Center of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). “Chile and Japan, however, are probably the best prepared nations in terms of how their buildings are constructed and how they respond to an earthquake.”
Cities and countries ramp up preparation after a major earthquake. But what worries many critics and U.S. lawmakers – including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti – is that once big events have passed from recent memory, such as the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, people then ignore high-consequence, low-probability events.
And even though earthquakes in the U.S. aren’t as frequent as those in Chile and Japan, states like Alaska, California and Washington are also at great risk for a major seismic event. California, which averages 27 minor quakes a day and suffered a 5.1 earthquake in March, is particularly vulnerable given the proximity of major cities to the coastline.
“There is a lot of movement going on there,” Blakeman said. “Luckily California is pretty well prepared.” Earthquakes occur when the large tectonic plates that make up the earth’s top layer move and collide, which, besides forming mountains and volcanoes, cause roughly 4,000 – mostly minor – earthquakes a day.
Both Chile and Japan sit on volatile spots along the “Ring of Fire” – a circum-Pacific seismic belt where 81 percent of the world’s worst earthquakes occur – and both have suffered widespread devastation in the last decade from massive quakes. In 2010, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck just south of Chile’s capital of Santiago, leaving 525 dead and costing the Chilean government between $15 and $30 billion. Japan’s 2011 earthquake and the tsunami that followed killed 15,885 people and caused a massive environmental disaster when three of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant melted down.
“Chile is an earthquake-prone country, and despite the impact of one of the most powerful quakes to hit in decades, preparedness measures and strict new building construction codes saved lives,” the Red Cross said in a press report a year after the 2010 quake.
In 1972, the country instituted a strict seismic code mandating that all high‐risk buildings be made from seismically-sound materials such as steel and reinforced concrete. Chile’s coastal population also has a good understanding of the need to evacuate lower zones, close to the beach, and the country’s energy network can shut down automatically in the event of a major earthquake.
“When you look at the architecture in Chile, you see buildings that have damage, but not the complete pancaking that you’ve got in Haiti,” said Cameron Sinclair, executive director of Architecture for Humanity, a nonprofit that helps people rebuild after disasters, told the Associated Press. Earlier in 2010, a magnitude 7.0 quake destroyed much of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and killed more than 300,000, according to the USGS.
Along with such preemptive measures, the South American nation adhered to a strict recovery effort involving immediate emergency response, a reconstruction plan and a long-term study looking into how to improve earthquake safety. Chile’s goals included replacing and improving buildings and infrastructure and putting in place an early warning system – a move that helped people in the coastal city of Iquique evacuate before this month’s earthquake hit.
Of course, natural disasters have ways of completely bypassing all good intentions and planning. The 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami proved that vividly.
With the exception of maybe only Chile, no country is better prepared for an earthquake than Japan – as it literally sits atop one long seismic zone and has suffered devastating quakes for centuries. Children are taught earthquake safety from a young age, skyscrapers are built to sway but not fall during a temblor and the government has a series of quick response measures in place.
But the tsunami that accompanied the 2011 earthquake destroyed the coast of the Miyagi Prefecture on Japan’s northern island and very nearly caused a nuclear meltdown.
The University of Washington seismologist Vidale said that parts of China were particularly in peril and would be ruined by a massive earthquake. Thousands could be killed if a quake hit a city that hasn’t yet adapted earthquake-resistant architecture, even in places that don’t normally experience much seismic activity. In New York City, for instance, a fault line runs down 125th St. through Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood.
“In places that don’t have earthquakes a lot and there isn’t much of a risk of one, people may decide not implement rules in building codes,” Vidale said. “We all make that decision.”
Chile and Los Angeles both got off relatively unscathed this year – as did Nicaragua – but scientists and lawmakers both know that it’s only a matter of time before a quake that thwarts even the best-laid plans comes up. A “seismic gap” has built up between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates in Chile, and California has been expecting a major resettlement along the San Adreas fault for years.
“It could happen tomorrow, or in 50 years,” said Mark Simons, a professor of geophysics at the California Institute of Technology, told the Financial Times about Chile. For governments from California to Chile, it’s just a matter of waiting. And preparing.
April 20th, 2014
April 19th, 2014
Reppin’ L.A. with her fine ass!
April 18th, 2014
FBI facial records could contain 52 million images by next year
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database of facial recognition records is expected to contain 52 million images by 2015, according to a new report that is likely to reinvigorate civil liberty advocates.
April 18th, 2014
Oligarchy, not democracy: Americans have ‘near-zero’ input on policy – report
In America, money talks… and democracy dies under its crushing weight. A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy.