(The New York Times) - Suicide has typically been viewed as a problem of teenagers and the elderly, and the surge in suicide rates among middle-aged Americans is surprising.
From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 13.7. Although suicide rates are growing among both middle-aged men and women, far more men take their own lives. The suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000.
The most pronounced increases were seen among men in their 50s, a group in which suicide rates jumped by nearly 50 percent, to about 30 per 100,000. For women, the largest increase was seen in those ages 60 to 64, among whom rates increased by nearly 60 percent, to 7.0 per 100,000.
In case you need more confirmation that the US economy is out of balance, here are three charts for you.
1) Corporate profit margins just hit another all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. (And some people are still saying that companies are suffering from “too much regulation” and “too many taxes.” Maybe little companies are, but big ones certainly aren’t. What they’re suffering from is a myopic obsession with short-term profits at the expense of long-term value creation).
2) Wages as a percent of the economy just hit another all-time low. Why are corporate profits so high? One reason is that companies are paying employees less than they ever have as a share of GDP. And that, in turn, is one reason the economy is so weak: Those “wages” are represent spending power for consumers. And consumer spending is “revenue” for other companies. So the profit obsession is actually starving the rest of the economy of revenue growth.
3) Fewer Americans are working than at any time in the past three decades. The other reason corporations are so profitable is that they don’t employ as many Americans as they used to. As a result, the employment-to-population ratio has collapsed. We’re back at 1980s levels now.
In short, our current obsessed-with-profits philosophy is creating a country of a few million overlords and 300+ million serfs.
So, what about those trickle down economics folks?
This also brings me to something else - you ever notice how the right has done everything they can to paint the president as a socialist and/or left wing radical while business keeps thriving and making record profits?
Or how about the people who keep defending keeping taxes low on corporations, or who keep defending them in regards to the wages they pay their workers?
Profits are at a record high, taxes are pretty low, and meanwhile unemployment stays high and wages are now at a historic low. If all the bullshit the right has been spewing was true, then we’d be swimming in high paying jobs right now.
But we’re not.
(The New York Times) - The scientists who were recruited to appear at a conference called Entomology-2013 thought they had been selected to make a presentation to the leading professional association of scientists who study insects.
But they found out the hard way that they were wrong. The prestigious, academically sanctioned conference they had in mind has a slightly different name: Entomology 2013 (without the hyphen). The one they had signed up for featured speakers who were recruited by e-mail, not vetted by leading academics. Those who agreed to appear were later charged a hefty fee for the privilege, and pretty much anyone who paid got a spot on the podium that could be used to pad a résumé.
“I think we were duped,” one of the scientists wrote in an e-mail to the Entomological Society.
[S]ome researchers are now raising the alarm about what they see as the proliferation of online journals that will print seemingly anything for a fee. They warn that nonexperts doing online research will have trouble distinguishing credible research from junk. “Most people don’t know the journal universe,” Dr. Goodman said. “They will not know from a journal’s title if it is for real or not.”
This just further muddies the water for science in a time when the waters are already pretty damn muddy due political, religious, or any other of the various motivations for folks deny scientific evidence.
And already I see stupid ass comments all over the internet where people are saying shit like, “Well, time to ban all knives” and “How many more stabbings have to happen until we’re ready to talk about a sensible knife-control policy?”
How many people actually died in that knife attack?
Oh … none?
Then it’s not a fucking comparison.
Link to story here
A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipeline spill.
(Think Progress) - A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipeline spill.
The cleanup efforts themselves took a sobering turn as crews found injured and dead ducks covered in oil.
The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline ruptured last week.
“I’m an animal lover, a wildlife lover, as probably most of the people here are,” Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson told reporters. ”We don’t like to see that. No one does.”
Exxon has confirmed that the pipeline was carrying “low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude oil from Alberta.” This oil comes from the region of Alberta where the controversial tar sands are located. Heavy crude is strip mined or boiled loose from dense underground formations that often contain a large amount of bitumen. This oil is very thick and needs to be diluted with lighter fluids in order to flow through pipelines. Reports have stated that at least 12,000 barrels of oil and water spilled into the town.
A 1980 law ensures that diluted bitumen is not classified as oil, and companies transporting it in pipelines do not have to pay into the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
We’ve seen similar scenarios in the past, events in which the massive financial power of multi-national corporations is able to buy out legislators who were elected to ‘represent’ voters. But now, Monsanto has set the bar even higher. Instead of just getting a few kickbacks or avoiding USDA regulation, Monsanto lobbyists have gone as far as to generate legislative inclusions into a new bill that puts Monsanto above the federal government.
It’s called the Monsanto Protection Act among activists and concerned citizens who have been following the developments on the issue, and it consists of a legislative ‘rider’ inside (Farmer Assurance Provision, Sec. 735) a majority-wise unrelated Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill. You may already be aware of what this rider consists of, but in case not you will likely be blown away by the tenacity of Monsanto lobbyist goons.
If this rider passes with the bill, which could be as early as this week, Monsanto would have complete immunity from federal courts when it comes to their ability to act against any new Monsanto GMO crops that are suspected to be endangering the public or the environment (or considered to be planted illegally by the USDA). We’re talking about courts that literally can do nothing to Monsanto if it’s found that their newest creation may be promoting cancer, for example. Whether it’s a GMO banana or an apple, Monsanto could continue planting the food abomination all it wants under court review.
Food Democracy Now has launched a petition on the subject, explaining:
“The Monsanto Protection Act would strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops.”
What really enraged Monsanto was the incident back in 2010, when a federal judge actually revoked Monsanto’s approval to plant GMO sugar beets due to environmental concerns. This is exactly what Monsanto intends to stop, literally becoming more powerful than federal courts in their conquest to monopolize the entire food chain.
Okay, I know there is some controversy over the actual dangers of GM foods and it is something I am going to have to read into more.
That said, I have a problem with a legislative act that makes a company immune to federal courts. This just doesn’t seem like something our government should be doing and creates a dangerous precedent.
(manufacturing.net) - LOS ANGELES (AP) — Researchers at Hewlett-Packard Co. have developed a way to put glasses-free 3-D video on mobile devices with a viewing angle so wide that viewers can see an object more fully just by tilting the screen.
Glasses-free 3-D is not unique. Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s 3DS handheld allows video game play in 3-D without glasses, but it requires players to look straight into the screen with their noses centered.
HP’s researchers have found a way to make images viewable in 3-D from angles up to 45 degrees from center in any direction — up, down, side-to-side or diagonally. That means viewers can see a person’s face with one ear blocked from view, but reveal the ear by swiveling the screen.
The company’s findings will be published in the scientific journal, Nature, on Thursday.
The scientists used nanotechnology to etch multiple circles with tiny grooves into a glass layer of the display.
The grooves bend light in a way that allows for 64 different points of view. By moving the screen, people will perceive two of those points of view at any one time, one with their left eye and one with their right. As a result, the image will appear in 3-D.
David Fattal, the lead author of the paper, said the effect is “much like you’d see in the movie ‘Star Wars’ with the hologram of Princess Leia.”
He acknowledged the effect wouldn’t be identical to a hologram, however, since the images won’t pop as far out of the screen as Leia’s projection did in the movie.
The technology isn’t exactly coming to a movie theater near you any time soon. While moving images can be created using computer animation, any live video capture would require an array of 64 cameras all pointed at an object, Fattal said.
This sounds pretty damn cool, even though it wouldn’t work with live video without having 64 cameras, it could make for some very impressive 3D computer generated images.
Koch Brothers Looking To Purchase Several Major American Newspapers (Tribune Papers, including Chicago Tribune and LA Times)
(Think Progress) - Right-wing funders and business industrialists David and Charles Koch may purchase the Tribune Company newspapers, which include the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and the Los Angeles Times. The brothers are “interested in the clout they could gain through the Times’ editorial pages,” the Hollywood Reporter notes. Responding to the report, a spokesperson for Koch told the website that the brothers are “constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors”:
Missy Cohlmia, a spokeswoman for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, issued the following statement to THR: “As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors. So, it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in today’s news stories, but it is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring. ”
The Los Angeles Weekly was the first to report that the Kochs could be mulling the purchase of the newspaper assets, which make up $623 million of the company’s $7 billion holdings.
The Koch brothers own Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in America, and bankroll a network of Tea Party groups and Republican political war chests.
In 2012, the brothers spent millions to defeat President Obama and even sent mailers to employees urging them to support Mitt Romney and other conservative candidates.
“Constantly exploring profitable opportunities”, huh?
I think the only “profit” they are looking for here is control of media outlets - if you can’t flat out buy elections, buy the newspapers.
— a random comment on “The Bush Years And What A “Lapdog” Press Really Looked Like”
(Media Matters) - Perpetually fuming about President Obama, Sean Hannity widened his rant Wednesday night on Fox News and condemned the “lapdog, kiss ass media” that allegedly lets Obama have his way. Echoing the same attack, Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week that ”Mr. Obama is a once-in-a-generation demagogue with a compliant press corps,” while the anti-Obama Daily Caller pushed the headline, ”Lapdog Media Seeking Lap To Lie In.”
Complaining about the “liberal media,” has been a running, four-decade story for conservative activists. But what we’re hearing more of lately is the specific allegation that the press has purposefully laid down for the Democratic president, and that it’s all part of a master media plan to help Democrats foil Republicans.
The rolling accusation caught my attention since I wrote a book called Lapdogs, which documented the Beltway media’s chronic timidity during the previous Republican administration, and particularly with regards to the Iraq War. I found it curious that Hannity and friends are now trying to turn the rhetorical tables with a Democrat in the White House, and I was interested in what proof they had to lodge that accusation against today’s press.
It turns out the evidence is quite thin. For instance, onenever-ending partisan cry has been the press has “ignored” the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last year; that they’re protecting Obama. Yet theNew York Times and Washington Post have published nearly 800 articles and columns mentioning Benghazi since last September, according to Nexis.
What the lapdog allegation really seems to revolve around is the fact that conservatives are angry that Obamaremains popular with the public. Rather than acknowledge that reality, partisans increasingly blame the press and insist if only reporters and pundits would tell ‘the truth’ about Obama, then voters would truly understand how he’s out to destroy liberty and freedom and capitalism.
Sorry, but that’s not what constitutes a lapdog press corps. And to confuse chronic partisan whining with authentic media criticism is a mistake. The Hannity-led claim also isn’t accurate. Studies have shown that during long stretches of his first term, Obama was hammered with “unrelentingly negative” press coverage.
By contrast, the lapdog era of the Bush years represented nothing short of an institutional collapse of the American newsroom. And it was one that, given the media’s integral role in helping to sell the Iraq War, did grave damage to our democracy.
I’ve been though 6 presidents in my lifetime and I’ve heard the same complaint of “the media being too easy on them” about each of them from the opposite party.
I don’t think the issue here is conservative or liberal bias in the press, but a bias in general toward the president.
Given how popular Bush was immediately following 9-11 when he was polling at 90% approval by 9-23-01 and had an average approval rating of 62% during his first term, the press jumped right on the bandwagon.
I see the same thing happening with Obama, as his approval ratings increase, the mainstream press has been going easier on him, not to the same effect they did with Bush, but there are several other factors as to why not (including the surge of nationalism directly after 9-11 and leading into the war with Iraq).
It all comes down to the press kissing a president’s ass the higher their approval ratings are.