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Knarfs Knewz / Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« on: Today at 03:54:31 PM »
Sherman was very popular. In reality he was a war criminal who needlessly invoked a lot of suffering on my own ancestors and many others like them. Their story is forgotten.

I've been trying to make a list of all the things the new Dem candidates have come up with...ending the electoral college, reparations, guaranteed income for all, it's a long list.

We won't get good healthcare, because the insurance and pharma money will make sure its a conduit scheme, whatever they call it. Medicare for all won't be so great if it isn't single payer. Only single payer will ever work.

Free college would be great but that interferes with the current banking conduit scheme, so that won't fly.

I doubt the Democrats can win.....not just because of the reasons I stated, but also because the deck is very stacked against them in other ways, like the gerrymandering that the conservative courts have now upheld...... American politics is a shit sandwich.

  Have you accounted for the unpredictable outcome of this Extinction Rebellion starting in April? Also the climate anomalies/catastrophes before September, 2020?  That would change the direction of many of the candidates promises.

Knarfs Knewz / Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« on: Today at 12:08:15 PM »

I'm with Bill. Not a job worth having, the hell does anyone end up in that position?

Pennsylvania State Police acted recklessly when troopers used a bulldozer to pursue a Grateful Dead fan caught growing marijuana on public land, killing him when he wound up under the machine’s treads, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed Monday.

Greg Longenecker’s family said state police had no business chasing him with a dangerous piece of machinery — especially over a few pot plants the 51-year-old was cultivating for personal use. His death last July, in a rural area about 75 miles (121 kilometers) outside of Philadelphia, also provoked outrage from a marijuana advocacy group.

“They killed a beautiful human being, a caring, loving man,” Longenecker’s uncle, Mike Carpenter, who’s named as a plaintiff in the federal suit, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “He’ll never be able to share his life with us, or us with him, again. For no reason. He wasn’t hurting anyone.”

State police declined comment. A prosecutor who investigated Longenecker’s death concluded that troopers acted reasonably.

The chase developed as Longenecker — a short-order cook and avid vegetable gardener with a passion for the Dead — and his friend, David B. Light, tended 10 marijuana plants in a small clearing on state game lands near Reading, Pennsylvania. A Pennsylvania Game Commission worker, operating a bulldozer in the area, spotted their car parked in a field where vehicles weren’t allowed and called police.

Light surrendered, but Longenecker fled, disappearing into the thick vegetation.

State police began a lengthy search. A state police helicopter spotted Longenecker in the underbrush, and the game commission worker, with a trooper aboard, used the bulldozer to blaze a trail in pursuit. The bulldozer was traveling no more than 1 (1.6 kph) or 2 mph (3 kph), according to an official account.

How Longenecker got caught in the machine’s treads is hotly disputed. Authorities concluded he was high on methamphetamine, crawled under the back of the bulldozer in an attempt to elude capture, and was crushed to death when it made a left turn.

Longenecker’s friends and family call that explanation ludicrous.

“That morning, Gregory was not high or under the influence. He was normal,” Light wrote in an affidavit obtained by the AP. “There is no way Gregory crawled underneath the back of the bulldozer. It is unthinkable and ridiculous that anyone would say he crawled underneath.”

Light, 55, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drug charges and was accepted into a program for first-time offenders. He declined comment to the AP.

Longenecker’s family questioned why state police didn’t simply get a warrant for Longenecker and arrest him later, given they knew his identity and that his crime was relatively minor.

An expert in police procedure agreed the state police overreacted.

“It’s outlandish. This is the craziest thing I’ve heard in years,” said Walter Signorelli, a lawyer and retired New York Police Department commander who has overseen investigations into police pursuits. “It seems like they were more concerned with the chase than the danger to themselves and the public and the guy they’re chasing.”

Berks County District Attorney John Adams — the prosecutor who determined that state police acted appropriately — pushed back against the criticism, saying Longenecker put himself in jeopardy by fleeing from the authorities.

“His behavior was despicable,” Adams said. “They yelled to him, they asked him to surrender. He did not surrender.”

Longenecker likely would have faced probation over his marijuana plants, Adams said.

He said Longenecker’s family would have been just as angry had troopers abandoned the search, and it turned out that Longenecker was injured and in need of medical attention.

“He’s in a pile of brush that is completely uninhabitable. Something could have happened to him. And if the state police would have picked up and left, then they would be pissed off: ‘Why didn’t the state police try to find him?’ So they were damned if they did or damned if they didn’t,” he said.

But at least one state police official has evidently acknowledged the situation could have been handled differently.

Carpenter, Longenecker’s uncle, said he met with Sgt. William Slaton from state police headquarters about a month after Longenecker’s death. He said Slaton apologized, telling him that “for 10 plants, he would’ve sent everybody home because they already knew who he was, where he lived, where he worked. He would’ve sent everybody home and maybe picked him up a couple days later.”

A state police spokesman would not confirm or deny Carpenter’s account.

The suit, which was filed in Philadelphia, seeks damages against state police, the game commission and the individuals involved in the pursuit. A game commission spokesman declined comment.

“State police ran Gregory Longenecker over with a government-operated bulldozer and essentially turned him into human roadkill,” said the family’s lawyer, Jordan Strokovsky. “There will be a thorough investigation and a lot of questions will be answered, and ultimately, those who need to be held accountable will be held accountable.”

Knarfs Knewz / Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« on: Today at 11:37:34 AM »
Your reply to knarf:
"I watched most of the video and decided what I thought about it. I gave you back some very honest feedback, and if you want to view that honest feedback as bullshit, then that's your prerogative."

Here's what you characterized as "very honest feedback:"

Sorry, but it's mostly crap that just reinforces the belief system of the average liberal leaning American. We could take it a line at time and I could show you just how many false assumptions went into the making of this video, but there's no point. It wouldn't change anyone's mind.

I may be wrong, but that reads as an outrageous opinion rather "honest feedback." Your points about FEMA aid notwithstanding.

And then there's this floater:
you're just completely swayed by your belief system, as is Surly.

IN your opinion, ace, which is that of an aging, well to do American professional whose opinions have veered decidedly rightward during the last three years. I credit myself with the ability to read and write critically and have a decent frame of reference for the changes our country has undergone in the last 60 years. As to what that means, we will surely disagree.

But congratulations: you're now the board enforcer.

Rather than contribute to the rising animus and the smell of stale urine that permeates the forum these days, I'm going to absent myself for a while rather than respond to every backhanded slap, deserved or no. I am mindful of the comments of others who are clearly annoyed by the fact that I am simply not wired to make flat twistings of fact stand as holy writ without a vigorous challenge.

So knock yourself out. I find that I have opened up a giant can of, "Life's too short."

No,I've never even tried to be the "board enforcer"  All I've ever tried to do is speak my piece and defend it... like I just did.

On the other hand, several other people (including you) have tried pretty hard to shape this forum into a paen to what I'd call the false narrative of the liberal party.

Not just socialism, which is part of it. In fact, my gripes haven't mostly been about that, but rather what I see as wrong with our current way of dealing with racial injustice, and with the rise of a destructive new form of feminism, and with the rise of the social justice warriors, all of which is driven by a distorted view of reality, which you and AG and Knarf and RE all studiously ignore.

Now...because the right is fairly evil in this country, and our entire political system is driven by big corporations and big money, you and me and everybody else should be concerned with the bad things being perpetuated by the Kochs and their friends, and their puppets (like Pence) and their strange bedfellows (Trump and his populist base)'s very easy to side with the Democrats as the good guys. I'm with you that far.

I spent yesterday looking at the Democratic candidates and trying to decide which one or ones I'd vote for.....because, yes, I will still vote against Trump (not that I expect him to lose).

What I'd like to see is a reasonable agenda from the liberal side that could get the support of all non-rich people in this country.

Like, healthcare for all is good. I can support that. I can support access to public college that is subsidized. I can support a response to climate change, although I don't think it's going to gain enough traction soon enough to matter much.

And I get why we're seeing the proposals from the left get more radical. Since Reagan, social services have mostly been gutted, and the way the tax structure is skewed is insane.

But the idea of reparations is absurd. It's clearly coming from two crazy places. One is a false narrative of social injustice toward blacks and brown immigrants. (And of course there is SOME injustice. Just not as much or exactly the way it gets painted on TV and in tabloids.)

The second thing?  It's coming from is just flat  pandering to try to get blacks to come to he polls and elect a Democrat. The Clinton/Biden side of the party, the "pre-socialist" neo-liberal elite Dems have been counting on demographics to save them and help them build a new power base. Politics is always about votes, not about doing what is right. That's why I hate politics, right and left. Both sides offer lip service to something and deliver something entirely different.

Equally important, and generally lacking in the current socialist rhetoric, is a massive demilitarization. Nobody is calling for that. I only see two candidates with the guts to even approach that baobab tangentially. Bernie...and maybe it was Gabbard.  We need to cut the military but most of the new socialists are strangely avoiding that issue....mainly because it tends to be political suicide.

The guy from Washington who is the climate change candidate? His campaign doesn't stand a chance.

The anti-robot guy who wants guaranteed annual income? That's a non-starter.

It's like.....the Democrats see the country getting more radical on both they are running these flags up the flag pole to see what gets saluted. Unfortunately our new democratic socialists will get behind anything that nets them votes.....and I shudder, because what most people want in this country, and what needs to be done, are very different. And the world view of most liberals is almost as distorted as the evangelicals and the no-nothings on the other side.

Yeah, life is too short. We agree on that much.

Shit, I'd campaign for you. Your second point. to include eliminating the Electoral College voting system, and go Popular vote.

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Funny and no doubt a popular show....but the "proof" is the typical kind of proof I always doesn't really stand up to real scrutiny. Sorry, but it's mostly crap that just reinforces the belief system of the average liberal leaning American. We could take it a line at time and I could show you just how many false assumptions went into the making of this video, but there's no point. It wouldn't change anyone's mind.

  The only way to know which statistics are "true" ( which probably they all are ) in either case, would be to fact check them all. I think the Dems and Rebups receive a lot of money from corps that influence our lawmakers to come up with grants for University studies to get the kind of statistics that further there self-interest. It goes both ways.
  An ironic thing about this is that, who would want to "Make it" in a system that is corrupt and destructive?

The only way to know which statistics are "true" ( which probably they all are ) in either case, would be to fact check them all.

No, actually, that isn't right.

I watched most of the video and decided what I thought about it. I gave you back some very honest feedback, and if you want to view that honest feedback as bullshit, then that's your prerogative.

But I'm under no particular obligation to take a long video full of crap and dissect it to prove my point, That's more work than I have time to do, and I don't care enough about what you or anybody else thinks to waste my valuable time doing it.

But I'll give you one example I remember. He talks about FEMA buying out rich people and not poor people. Specifically he says FEMA doesn't give money to poor people with "no property"  That's completely deceptive, the equivalent of a bait and switch. In the sentence before he is talking about buy-outs. How the fuck could FEMA buy out somebody with no property?

The truth is that FEMA gives more than one kind of assistance. It give assistance to renters for temporary housing and it pays for some other things. One thing is pretty clear, the mandate FEMA has, as a federal program, is to not discriminate. If they do, they are liable.

o Non-discrimination: All forms of FEMA disaster housing assistance are available to any
affected household that meets the conditions of eligibility. No federal entity or official (or
their agent) may discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion,
sex, age, national origin, disability, or economic status.

That's only one of several deceptive statements the guy makes. There are a number of similar slick little lies.

You stuck it on the Diner. Apparently you have no obligation to vet anything you put up? That puts you on the same footing as AZ, who posts about beings from the fourth dimension taking us all home to Alpha Centauri.  Who is being dishonest?

Well, he isn't and you aren't either. But he has no filters and no critical thinking skills. You have better filters and better critical thinking skills, but you're just completely swayed by your belief system, as is Surly. You don't look at the stuff you agree with very critically.

But don't accuse me of being dishonest. I'm a great deal more honest than a number of people who play in this sandbox.

I put that video on because it is an example of what you have been trying to say. It makes great ratings to be a super hero SJW. I have no intent on dismissing what you and many others are trying to get at here. I just don't see the major impact on society as they are preaching there is. It is kinda like I don't believe in hell, or really I am just afraid to believe in hell. That's no choice. Maybe you can explain how this is a big reason for the fall of the American Empire., or is it just the compassion for those poor people shooting themselves in the foot by believing the media?

In a rebuke of the Trump administration’s ‘energy-first’ agenda, a judge rules greenhouse gas emissions must be considered

Drilling has been halted on more than 300,000 acres of public land in Wyoming.

In the first significant check on the Trump administration’s “energy-first” agenda, a US judge has temporarily halted hundreds of drilling projects for failing to take climate change into account.

Drilling had been stalled on more than 300,000 acres of public land in Wyoming after it was ruled the Trump administration violated environmental laws by failing to consider greenhouse gas emissions. The federal judge has ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages US public lands and issues leases to the energy industry, to redo its analysis.

The decision stems from an environmental lawsuit. WildEarth Guardians, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Western Environmental Law Center sued the BLM in 2016 for failing to calculate and limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from future oil and gas projects.

The agency “did not adequately quantify the climate change impacts of oil and gas leasing”, said Rudolph Contreras, a US district judge in Washington DC, in a ruling late on Tuesday. He added that the agency “must consider the cumulative impact of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions” generated by past, present and future BLM leases across the country.

The decision is the first significant check on the climate impact of the Trump administration’s “energy-first” agenda that has opened up vast swaths of public land for mining and drilling. Environmental advocates are praising the move, with Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program director, calling it a “triumph for our climate”.

“This ruling says that the entire oil & gas drilling program is off the rails, and moving forward illegally,” said Nichols.

Under Trump, the pace of leasing public lands for oil and gas development has surged. A recent study found the administration has made more than 13m onshore acres available for leasing, far more than any similar period under Obama. The vast majority are located in the western states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. The administration also plans to make large portions of the Atlantic available for oil and gas development, and the interior department has been criticized for favoring the energy industry.

The BLM did not reply to a request for comment. The Western Energy Alliance, one of the defendants in the case, also did not respond to a request. Kathleen Sgamma, its president, told the Washington Post: “This judge has ignored decades of legal precedent in this ruling. The judge is basically asking BLM to take a wild guess on how many wells will be developed on leases, prematurely.”

Nichols predicts there will be implications for public lands across the west. His group is now poised to bring litigation to block drilling on hundreds of thousands of acres in other states.

“With the science mounting that we need to aggressively rein in greenhouse gases, this ruling is monumental,” said Kyle Tisdel, attorney and energy and communities program director for the Western Environmental Law Center. “Every acre of our public land sold to the oil and gas industry is another blow to the climate, making this ruling a powerful reality check on the Trump administration and a potent tool for reining in climate pollution.”

Knarfs Knewz / Companies are not your friends
« on: Today at 05:10:12 AM »

When you’re looking at a payroll of 9,800 names, it’s hard to see the human in the numbers. ‘Developers 1 through 799 have to go,’ you sigh, fleetingly considering the pain of telling Developers 1 through 799 their fate. Of course, you don’t have to. You’re just the finance guy. And this is just the best thing for the company.

Activision’s decision to lay off 800 employees at the same time as posting record earnings makes their priorities clear. It’s unusually brazen: the company are unapologetically exchanging employees for money, money that seems destined to flow into shareholders’ pockets or into other Activision games (themselves money-making vehicles which also flow into shareholders’ pockets). I’m not anti-capitalist, but I can see why people are miffed.

The thing is, the company is never your friend. It’s never on your side. Even when it’s run by benevolent humanists, the company and its employees have fundamentally opposing agendas: companies want to make money, people want to get paid. People who work for a company may value humans over cash, but the company itself doesn’t.

There are many pragmatic reasons why businesses might want to treat staff well: it’s more expensive to replace staff than retain them, mistreatment gives bad PR, happy workers are more productive and do better creative work, some people want to go to bed at night feeling like they’re not a bastard. But if it ever comes down to a choice between ‘do the right thing’ and ‘secure company funds’, most people with a significant personal stake in the company’s finances choose the latter.

Again and again, I see developers expect their small indie studios to look out for them, or their kindly middle-manager protect them from the unknowable triple-A board they’ve never met. I wish developers would place less faith in the machine, living as we are in an industry that makes a lot of money and fires a lot of people.

The problem, as it usually is, lies in the money itself. Give perfectly decent, kind people shares in a big pot of gold and watch their priorities shift. Would you feel better about the Activision debacle if 800 people had to go, but the remaining 9,000 Activision employees got an equal share of the pie? What if you were one of those 9,000? How about if Activision had only fired 400 people and the extra cash got your project green-lit?

One studio I worked for binned four out of sixteen developers, then posted their biggest ever profit, nearly a million pounds. Choosing money over employees isn’t a problem unique to Activision, or to big business: it’s a conflict of interest in companies of every size.

I’ve heard a lot of studios describe themselves as ‘families’ and many studios, obviously, treat their people well (see ‘pragmatic reasons why you’d want to do that as a business’, above). But families fundamentally care about the people they are. Imagine your mum throwing her hands up in front of a spreadsheet and saying, ‘I’m afraid we have to let you go, dear. It’s just the best thing for the family.’

We should stop expecting companies to look after us like friends and family would, because they consistently prove that they won’t. Unions are a great start - they should force workers into companies’ priorities lists, though they’ll never get them to #1. But I’d urge everyone who works for someone to remember that companies ask you to an agenda that isn’t yours. Don’t let them fool you into loving them for it.

Newly released tax documents show that Chick-fil-A is still giving money to anti-LGBTQ organizations, years after promising to stop.

Seven years ago, Chick-fil-A’s record of donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations came to light. The fast food chain had donated to the the SPLC-designated hate group Family Research Counsel and the conversion therapy group Exodus International.

CEO Dan Cathy told a newspaper that the company was “guilty as charged” of making anti-LGBTQ donations and said that marriage equality proponents “have the audacity to define what marriage is about” and were “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

Chick-fil-a has spent years trying to downplay these donations, saying that they “will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation” and that the company’s charity arm “is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”

But that hasn’t stopped them from donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations.

The 2017 tax returns of the Chick-fil-a Foundation were just made public, and Josh Israel at ThinkProgress found several anti-LGBTQ organizations listed as receiving money: the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) got $1,653,416, the Paul Anderson Youth Home got $6,000, and the Salvation Army got $150,000.

The FCA, an organization founded to spread Christianity through sports that has been accused of enouraging public school coaches to proselytize to athletes, has a “sexual purity statement” that leaders are supposed to follow.

The statement says that marriage is “a covenant between one man and one woman,” that “God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman,” and that “each person’s gender is determined by biological sex instead of one’s self-perception.”

The FCA’s Statement of Faith also says that marriage is “between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society.”

The Paul Anderson Youth Home in Atlanta is a Christian organization that says it works with young men who have substance abuse problems or who are otherwise “troubled.”

The organization’s website used to have an article that called homosexuality “evil” and said it was caused by the “sexual, physical, and mental abuse of children.” Another article, which appears to have been deleted, said that the “homosexual behavior and lifestyle” was lawlessness. Another part of the website used to call marriage equality a “rage against Jesus Christ and His values,” although that sentence appears to have been deleted.

The Salvation Army has a history of opposing civil rights legislation for LGBTQ people and has discriminated against transgender people on multiple occasions.

Chick-fil-a defended two of the organizations they donated to but said that they had already decided to stop giving to the Paul Anderson Youth Home after the articles were unearthed.

The company told ThinkProgress that their donation to the FCA was specifically for summer sports camps, although, presumably, the people who work at those programs would have to follow the organization’s Statement of Faith.

Their donation to the Salvation Army, they said, was specifically for children’s programs.

“Since the Chick-fil-A Foundation was created in 2012, our giving has always focused on youth and education. We have never donated with the purpose of supporting a social or political agenda.”

It does not appear that Chick-fil-A donated to any LGBTQ organizations, though.

The tax returns mention a $2500 donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center for “civil/community programming.”

In 2017, the fast food chain came under similar scrutiny for their donations to the same three organizations.


The world is getting used to being told that Scandinavian countries are among the best places to live. The release of the 2019 World Happiness Report again confirms that impression with four Nordic countries in the top five happiest nations.

Finland, which headed the table last year, came top again, followed by Denmark, Norway (top in 2017) and Iceland. The Netherlands joined them in the top five. Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria completed the top 10.

The US only made it to number 19, down from 18 last year. The UK was placed 15th, one ahead of Ireland with Pakistan ranked 67 and India 140 out of 156 nations surveyed. Two nations riven by civil strife, South Sudan and the Central African Republic were ranked as the least happy.

It’s easy to see how civil war and insurgencies can bring misery to people, but what really makes a happy nation? The report’s authors insist it's not just about money, even though the top 10 are all affluent countries.

Money can’t buy you happiness

The survey, conducted by Gallup, uses a three-year rolling average of survey responses around six factors: GDP per capita; social support; life expectancy; freedom to make life choices; generosity; and corruption levels. Finland scores well on all factors but particularly strongly on generosity.

The authors say that helping others makes you feel better, but only if you choose to do it. Almost half of Finns donate regularly to charity and almost a third said they had given up time to volunteer for a charity in the previous month.

The Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute points out that Finland tops the happiness list despite not having the highest GDP of the Nordic countries. It is the country’s social safety net combined with personal freedom and a good work-life balance that gives it the edge.

The OECD’s Better Life Index suggests that Finland’s sense of wellbeing may also be down to a feeling of personal safety in a troubled world. Finns feel good about their environment, sense of community and public services and education, but they worry about jobs and housing.

As if to prove that you cannot buy happiness, the US sits at number 19, one place down from last year. Although it has the world’s highest GDP, economist Jeffrey Sachs, one of the report’s authors, said worsening health conditions and declines in social trust and trust in government were making Americans less happy.

Any wellbeing benefits from rising incomes in the US were being offset by growing addictions to gambling, social media use, video gaming, shopping and consuming unhealthy foods which were causing unhappiness and even depression, he said.

Governments can make you happy

The World Happiness Report says countries which improve civic engagement by making their government more representative will be happier. Happier populations have higher voter turnout, while political division and declining social trust reduce happiness.

Leading the nations recording the strongest growth in happiness this year was Benin, which has enjoyed a period of stability. The West African nation is ranked 102 in the overall happiness table followed by Nicaragua, Bulgaria, Latvia and Togo. The five sharpest declines were in Venezuela, Syria, Botswana, India and Yemen.

Benin has experienced steady GDP growth in recent years with life expectancy improving. It is part of a welcome trend across sub-Saharan Africa led by the more politically stable nations. Conversely, Venezuela's societal woes and Syria’s civil war have coincided with plummeting happiness levels.

Governments clearly hold the key to their people’s happiness. Tackling corruption, avoiding civil strife and improving basic public services are crucial to success. But so too is enabling people to enjoy personal freedom and encouraging them to participate in civil society. Money helps, of course, but alone it cannot buy you happiness, the report shows.


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a news conference on better wages for workers, on Capitol Hill Oct. 6, 2015 in Washington, DC.

One of the most important issues of our time is the choice between capitalism and socialism. The cluelessness of millions of Americans about this topic is appalling and frightening. It’s appalling because the evidence that socialism leads to economic impoverishment is overwhelming. It’s frightening because if we take the socialist path, the results will be as destructive here as they have been wherever socialism has been tried.

Journalists do precious little to enlighten Americans about the disconnect between the beguiling slogans of socialist rhetoric and the baneful effects of socialism in practice.

To take one example from the mainstream press, The Christian Science Monitor has reported compassionately about the wretched conditions and consequent human suffering in Venezuela today, yet their reports assiduously avoid using the “s-word”—socialism—that is the root of the humanitarian disaster there. Instead, they use oblique terms like “mismanagement.”

By contrast, the mainstream media have no trouble writing about capitalism and its alleged shortcomings. Why this double standard? Why is it considered bad form to question socialism, while straining to find fault with capitalism—the economic system to which we owe our unprecedented prosperity—remains perennially fashionable?
Death of Capitalism

Reporters often include statements like this when commenting on capitalism: “Some of the earliest concerns about capitalism are the very ones that are salient today: that the system fuels inequality, degrades the environment, and tears the social fabric with disruptive change.”

Yes, capitalism liberates our diverse gifts, resulting in growing productivity and higher standards of living, with those market participants who have supplied the most value to their fellow man becoming richer than those who produce and supply less. By contrast, socialism results in citizens living in greater economic equality as they share depressed standards of living.

No, capitalism does not progressively degrade the environment, but pushes societies over the hump of the Kuznets curve where greater prosperity leads to cleaner environments. The socialist economies of Eastern Europe were far more polluted than the capitalist West.

Yes, capitalism is disruptive—beneficently so—replacing outmoded products and services with new ones. Socialism, on the other hand, entrenches stagnation and resists progress, as I explained in my recent article, “Jobs for All.”

When a millennial commented, “People in my generation have had a pretty profoundly negative experience with capitalism” due to “student debt burdens, high rents, and the nation’s faltering progress on things like poverty,” he misdiagnosed the cause of the problems he cited. Those economic hardships are caused primarily by government interference with free markets, not by actual free markets.

Sadly millennial Americans have never lived under real capitalism. Markets didn’t cause the cost of college to spiral upward. Billions of federal tax dollars channeled into higher education, costly government regulation of colleges, and inflationary monetary policies have done that.

High rents are most problematical in areas surrounding places where government has imposed rent controls.

Free markets were steadily reducing the poverty rate in America, but that long-term trend was interrupted when President Lyndon Johnson launched a government War on Poverty. During the half-century of the War on Poverty, the poverty rate has bounced around between 11 and 15 percent.
Power at the Top

In February, the Monitor’s Ned Temko wrote that what Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) are proposing is “not a drive for socialism in the classic definition of the term: replacing market economics with state ownership and control.”

In the first place, Temko’s statement is disingenuous, since even Vladimir Lenin realized the total unviability of the state taking over the entire economy and instead settled for government control of the primary industries, the “commanding heights” of the economy.

No modern socialist would think of advocating textbook socialism. But anyone who reads the Green New Deal can see plainly that the Democratic socialists are proposing—ŕ la Lenin—government control over the commanding heights of today’s economy.

Temko also charged, “Free market capitalism has ceased to work the way it used to, or ought to.” When you think about it, it’s presumptuous for a reporter to write as if he is the arbiter of how an economic system “ought” to work. It’s unarguable, though, that capitalism doesn’t work like it did in earlier generations. The reason for this is simple: Big Government won’t let it. Markets haven’t failed; they have been hindered, distorted, and suppressed.

Temko also reiterated the platitudinous fallacy about “huge economic power residing in a very few individuals and corporations at the top.” Oh, like Jeff Bezos, aka “the world’s richest man”? Bezos knew that he was no match for the political machine in the Big Apple, and so he bailed out.

If you want to complain about immense economic power residing in the hands of a small elite, take a look at Congress: Those 535 individuals, some of dubious morals and wisdom, control the flow of more than $4 trillion per year and they have the power to make life miserable for private businesses.
Branding Socialists

Contrary to the Monitor’s traditional standards, Temko’s anti-capitalist bias veered into partisanship. He accused President Donald Trump of using this year’s State of the Union address to brand “his rivals as ‘socialist’” to “conjure up powerful visions of Soviet communism or the collapse of Venezuelan socialism in voters’ minds.”

First, it’s not Trump who branded his rivals as socialists. The socialists themselves—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ocasio-Cortez, et al.—openly and enthusiastically proclaimed themselves to be socialists. Second, let’s hope fervently that the public gains accurate visions of socialism. People need to understand that the laws of economics are immutable and that if we adopt policies similar to the socialistic policies adopted in Venezuela, the results here would be quite similar.

The only cure for our society’s current widespread ignorance about the relative virtues of capitalism and socialism is a widespread, persistent, and energetic dissemination of the truth that annihilates that ignorance. Let’s hope that journalists do a better job of assisting this worthy and necessary effort.

Mark Hendrickson is an adjunct professor of economics and sociology at Grove City College. He is the author of several books, including “The Big Picture: The Science, Politics, and Economics of Climate Change.”

Corporate giants doing business abroad are painting a dreary picture of the world’s economy.

With an ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, Brexit uncertainty weighing on Europe and the U.K., and new weakness out of Japan, some business leaders say it’s harder than ever to rake in profits.

This week, top executives at FedEx, BMW, UBS and others described bleak global business conditions while discussing quarterly results. Fitch Ratings also “aggressively” cut its forecast for the year.

The head of UBS was among the latest to blame the world’s backdrop for weaker-than-expected results. CEO Ermotti told a conference in London on Wednesday that it “one of the worst first-quarter environments in recent history,” Reuters reported. The Swiss bank slashed another $300 million from 2019 costs after revenue at its investment bank plunged. Investment banking conditions are among the toughest seen in years, especially outside the U.S., he said.

Ermotti’s remarks echo the sentiment from FedEx a day earlier. The multinational package delivery service reported sluggish international revenue on Tuesday as a result of tough exchange rates and ongoing trade battles.

“Slowing international macroeconomic conditions and weaker global trade growth trends continue, as seen in the year-over-year decline in our FedEx Express international revenue,” Chief Financial Officer Alan B. Graf Jr. said in FedEx’s quarterly earnings report.

BMW is another with a less-than-rosy outlook. The German automaker said it expected pretax profit to fall by more than 10 percent in 2019, and its CFO said global conditions make it hard to provide a clear forecast.

“Depending on how conditions develop, our guidance may be subject to additional risks; in particular, the risk of a no-deal Brexit and ongoing developments in international trade policy,” CFO Nicolas Peter said in BMW’s quarterly earnings report Wednesday.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) vehicles, assembled in the U.S., sit parked before being driven onto vehicle carrier ships at the Port of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.

Samsung also joined in on Wednesday. The electronics company is forecasting a tough 2019 due to slowing economic growth, global trade tensions and softer demand for memory chips from data center companies, the firm’s co-chief executive said Wednesday.

“We are expecting many difficulties this year such as slowing growth in major economies and risks over global trade conflicts,” Samsung Co-Chief Executive Kinam Kim said.

It’s not just these big names — all companies in the S&P that generate more than half of their sales overseas are expected to see an earnings decline of 11.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to FactSet.
Global jitters

Fitch Ratings also “quite aggressively cut” its 2019 global forecast this week. But the firm’s economics team stopped short of calling a global recession.

“Global growth prospects have deteriorated significantly since Fitch Ratings’ last Global Economic Outlook (GEO) in December 2018,” the agency said in a report published Wednesday. “We do not see the onset of a global recession.”

Fitch dropped its global growth forecasts for 2019 to 2.8 percent from 3.1 percent. For 2020, it dropped from 2.8 percent from 2.9 percent. The euro zone growth outlook weakened “particularly sharply,” Fitch said. It also highlighted a slowdown in China, and deceleration in emerging markets led by Turkey and Argentina in the aftermath of last summer’s currency crises.

“This has occurred against the backdrop of world trade growth weakening steadily through 2018,” Fitch said. “The US-China trade war may have suppressed and distorted trade flows, but more fundamentally, weaker EM domestic demand has been a key contributor to the trade slowdown.”

Washington and Beijing are locked in a stalemate on tariffs. In the past year, the world’s two biggest economies have slapped billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on each other’s goods. The tensions have taken a toll on global financial markets and kept investor sentiment in check.

There were multiple reports this week about progress on negotiations.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods could stay on “for a substantial period of time,” but he added that the talks were  “coming along nicely.”

Earlier, Bloomberg reported that some U.S. officials fear China is reneging on certain trade concessions. The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to travel to Beijing next week for another round of negotiations with their Chinese trade counterparts.

Then there’s Brexit. The ongoing confusion and uncertainty around the U.K.’s departure from the European bloc is hanging over global markets. Some fear the U.K. would default to World Trade Organization rules, which would mean heavy import and export tariffs and possible delays to goods at the border.

In January, the CEO of Adidas called Brexit the “biggest concern” for the company for its potential ripple effect on the European economy. Europe is about 30 percent of the German sportswear maker’s business.

Japan added to the heap of worries this week. For the first time in three years, the Japanese government downgraded its assessment of the economy, blaming the U.S.-China trade war for slumping exports and industrial output.

Despite uncertainty, some luxury retailers seem to be holding up. Hermes, known for its $10,000 Birkin handbags, said Wednesday it sees no change in its positive sales trend and was helped by strong demand from clients in Asia. Hermes posted a 15 percent rise in net profit last year to $1.6 billion.

If a string of weak sentiment numbers and data continues, Bryn Mawr Trust Chief Investment Officer Ernie Cecilia told CNBC companies could trim spending and scale back hiring.

“It certainly is an issue. I think in many ways the first quarter is a possible air pocket or a slowdown,” Cecilia said. “If it’s deeper and more pervasive, then it would be a concern for employment, it would be a concern for wages, it would be a concern for earnings and it would be a concern for the market.”

The only way to know which statistics are "true" ( which probably they all are ) in either case, would be to fact check them all. I think the Dems and Rebups receive a lot of money from corps that influence our lawmakers to come up with grants for University studies to get the kind of statistics that further there self-interest. It goes both ways.

While both major political parties receive torrents of money from parties interested in being first at the trough to pick winners, I'd like to see some evidence that political parties are "grants for University studies to get the kind of statistics that further there self-interest." Corporations and private interests? Sure. They are always interested in waving a self-serving study in the air to prove a point. (See the recent article RE posted in re Bayer/Monsanto.) Monsanto spent years cherry picking some studies and suppressing others.

What is certain is that the culture of academe and its "publish or perish" ethos insures that the world is full of studies. Some have merit, and some don't. For a peek check out the SSRN website:

It's not limited to social sciences, but encompasses a number of disciplines. And papers from adjuncts on the make for tenure. Very interesting, and certainly many are arguable; but it's evidence.

The hoax perpetrated by Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose is very informative on this topic:

The point wasn’t to expose academia in general, but rather politically trendy fields that, as Harvard’s Yascha Mounk suggests, “cannot differentiate between real scholarship and noxious bloviating.”

In short, it exposed the academic equivalent of Fake News and its lucrative professional infrastructure. But don’t expect any change: Facing the facts would kill the golden goose.

The Atlantic has a more detailed analysis -

So what are we to make of this? Even in reading the Atlantic article, I am not sure I understand the motivations of the authors. By writing garbage and discrediting the academic journals, they have handed some of the worst people on the planet as loaded weapon. Swell.

The Atlantic article get is correct:

"Sokal Squared is already being used as ammunition in the great American culture war. Many conservatives who are deeply hostile to the science of climate change, and who dismiss out of hand the studies that attest to deep injustices in our society, are using Sokol Squared to smear all academics as biased culture warriors. The Federalist, a right-wing news and commentary site, went so far as to spread the apparent ideological bias of a few journals in one particular corner of academia to most professors, the mainstream media, and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"These attacks are empirically incorrect and intellectually dishonest. There are many fields of academia that have absolutely no patience for nonsense. While the hoaxers did manage to place articles in some of the most influential academic journals in the cluster of fields that focus on dealing with issues of race, gender, and identity, they have not penetrated the leading journals of more traditional disciplines."

I must say that I really enjoyed the title of one article: “Rubbing One Out: Defining Metasexual Violence of Objectification Through Nonconsensual Masturbation.” Are editors no longer capable of saying, "You're shitting me, right?"

If your post is a single selected instance of attempting to discredit academic research, the you've made it clear you are joining coordinated attack from the right on academe and objective truth. If your post is to say you can't believe everything you read, that's a different story.

I read this on the internet, so it must be true.

Like reading Alex Jones "Prison Planet", or hop over to Breitbart, not to forget Rush Limbaugh, or the other 10,000 political "false news" right wing websites.  I am not saying that all conservative web sites are like that, but some are extremist and really stretch a "truth". How much false information is "accepted" by the readers of this "false news".

Knarfs Knewz / Re: Redacted Tonight: Systemic Racism is a myth
« on: March 20, 2019, 10:42:55 PM »
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Funny and no doubt a popular show....but the "proof" is the typical kind of proof I always doesn't really stand up to real scrutiny. Sorry, but it's mostly crap that just reinforces the belief system of the average liberal leaning American. We could take it a line at time and I could show you just how many false assumptions went into the making of this video, but there's no point. It wouldn't change anyone's mind.

  The only way to know which statistics are "true" ( which probably they all are ) in either case, would be to fact check them all. I think the Dems and Rebups receive a lot of money from corps that influence our lawmakers to come up with grants for University studies to get the kind of statistics that further there self-interest. It goes both ways.
  An ironic thing about this is that, who would want to "Make it" in a system that is corrupt and destructive?

People have a right to know what’s behind their flooding or heatwave. The UK is lagging behind other countries

‘It is now possible to say with confidence how much more likely (or how much more intense) a storm was made by climate change.’ Rescue workers helping residents to safety in Carlisle after Storm Desmond in 2016.

They have a national reach that most climate campaigners would die for. They are familiar and respected experts on the science of meteorology. And they have prime-time slots at the end of almost every TV news bulletin, morning, noon and night. But the weather forecasters who guide everything from our clothing choices to our weekend plans seldom – if ever – mention the issue that is increasingly shaping our beloved British weather: climate change.

This week, former BBC weatherman Bill Giles broke cover, and called for the BBC and other major broadcasters to overhaul their approach to forecasts, and add in information about the crucial context of climate change to their predictions about the daily weather.

While the weather can’t always straightforwardly be equated with a changing climate, the impacts of climate change are no longer a hypothetical concern, or a discussion for the future. Climate change is with us now, and is manifesting through rising temperatures, more violent and unpredictable storms, and heavier rainfall.

What Giles rightly highlighted is that while weather forecasting continues to operate in a vacuum while the climate changes around us, it is abdicating its duty to provide accurate, scientifically-grounded meteorological advice to the public. Don’t people have a right to know how their climate is changing? And aren’t weather forecasts the obvious place to alert us to these new risks that we face?

In fact, the UK is lagging far behind many other countries in terms of integrating what we know about climate change with the information provided to the public about the weather. In the notoriously polarised US, a brilliant programme led by George Mason University in Virginia and Climate Central has supported more than 600 TV meteorologists to contextualise their weather forecasts with information about the changing climate.

Similar successes have been seen in Australia, where a programme run out of Monash University provides localised climate information in their weather segments. In Belgium, the weather forecaster Jill Peters has made a career from campaigning on climate change. So the silence from British broadcasters is troubling, and Giles’s intervention is long overdue.

In a sense, the broadcasters’ nervousness is understandable – for a long time, it simply wasn’t possible to make definitive statements about the relationship between weather and climate. Communicators were faced with a catch-22 situation: make speculative statements about extreme weather and climate change, or sit on their hands while the very changes scientists had been predicting for decades materialised around them.

But the science of ‘‘attributing’’ weather events to climate change has accelerated rapidly. It is now possible to say with confidence how much more likely (or how much more intense) a storm, or a heatwave, was made by climate change. Statements about the links between weather and climate still need to be made carefully, and in line with the science. But this kind of probabilistic, risk-based guidance is the bread and butter of TV weather forecasters, and they’re the perfect people to give audiences an insight into how the climate is changing.

None of this means that accurate information about the risks of climate change is a panacea for public engagement on climate change. Its now well understood (and more than ever in thisera of “fake news”) that accurate evidence alone is unlikely to move the dial for people who don’t want to hear it. And simply hammering people with information about the risks of climate change could be counterproductive.

The social science of climate communication points to the importance of striking a motivating balance between hope and fear in public messages. In practice, this means not only raising the alarm about the often terrifying consequences of a changing climate, but also providing advice and support on what people can do to save more energy, waste less food, or lobby their MP to prioritise climate change.

Clearly, our humble weather forecasters can’t do this all on their own. But the inspiring rise of the school strike movement is proof of the frustration and urgency with which young people view the issue that will define their lives, and suggests the era of side lining climate change as something that environmentalists worry about, while the rest of us get on with our lives, may finally be coming to an end.

From the way we eat, travel and heat our homes, to the conventions that govern our weather forecasts, climate change needs to move from the margins and into the mainstream – and fast. A daily public narrative that joins the dots between the weather patterns we see outside our windows, and the unprecedented changes now under way in the global climate, is one crucial piece of this puzzle.

• Adam Corner is the research director at Climate Outreach and an honorary research fellow in the School of Psychology, Cardiff University

Knarfs Knewz / New Study Confirms--Eggs Are A Stroke In A Shell
« on: March 20, 2019, 03:28:01 PM »
For years animal agriculture apologists have tried to convince the public that "inflammation, not cholesterol, is the cause of chronic disease." Eat all the eggs, meat and milk you want, they cajole: you won't die from a stroke or heart attack at age 50. We promise.

This week a JAMA study reverses the industry-friendly hype, at least until the industry shills resume their spin. Each added 300 milligrams a day of cholesterol represented a 17 percent increase in risk of cardiovascular disease and 18 percent increased risk of all-cause premature death, concludes the study.

This is far from the first time eggs have been definitively linked to disease and death. In 2008, the American Heart Association's journal Circulation reported that just one egg a day increased the risk of heart failure in a group of doctors studied. And in 2010, the Canadian Journal of Cardiology lamented the, "widespread misconception"that consumption of dietary cholesterol and egg yolks is harmless," cautioning that, "Stopping the consumption of egg yolks after a stroke or myocardial infarction would be like quitting smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer: a necessary action, but late."

Eating eggs is also "positively associated" with the risk of diabetes say the journals Nutrition and Diabetes Care and with the risk of ovarian cancer says Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. "Thus, it seems possible that eating eggs regularly is causally linked to the occurrence of a proportion of cancers of the ovary, perhaps as many as 40%, among women who eat at least 1 egg a week," reported Cancer Epidemiology, citing a study of Seventh Day Adventists, who eat no meat, and the Iowa Women's Health Study which showed threefold and twofold increases in the cancer, respectively.

Egg operations--30,000 caged hens stacked on top of each other over their own manure in a windowless, unventilated barn--also invite germs and therefore rely on antibiotics. A few years ago, the FDA reported it found a hatchery injecting antibiotics directly into eggs of laying hens presumably to take the offensive with germ control. But wouldn't the eggs the antibiotic-treated hens then lay have antibiotic residues? Yes, reported the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2000; some residues remain.

Antibiotics are so basic to animal-based agriculture, reps from the egg and other industries as well as Big Pharma stormed Capitol Hill in 2009 when the FDA threatened to limit them. And, despite new antibiotic regulations from the FDA in 2013 and more recently, antibiotic use on megafarms is actually going up not down.

There are ethical reasons to reject eggs too. For example, "cage-free," "humanely raised" labels mean nothing since male chicks are ground up alive at the hatchery long before the females get to the "humane farm."

"Chick culling is the process of killing newly hatched poultry for which the industry has no use. It occurs in all industrialised egg production whether free range, organic, or battery cageincluding that of the UK and US," says Wikipedia. "Many methods of culling...include cervical dislocation, asphyxiation by carbon dioxide and maceration using a high speed grinder." Grinding the males up alive while they are fully conscious, called maceration, is the primary method in the United States. Videos of the killing, which produces a "slurry" that becomes dog feed, are widely available on the Internet. The egg industry does not deny the killings.

With their health risks and cruelty why aren't eggs tarred like cigarettes? Because of counter-information disseminated by the egg industry. For example, an egg industry sponsored supplement in Canadian Family Physician actually wrote "consumption of up to seven eggs per week is congruent with a healthy diet," and questions the cholesterol/cardiovascular disease link that the current JAMA research confirms. Why believe scientific research when you can believe the egg industry?

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