American (and Papua New Guinean) exceptionalism
You’ve probably heard that the United States is one of a handful of countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave. Turns out, as a result of some laws recently passed abroad, we now appear to be one of just two countries without this policy. That’s according to the latestInternational Labor Organization report on maternity leave, which refers to 2013 data from 185 countries and territories. See the countries in pink below:
Chicago Is In An Economic Lull
The Chicago purchasing managers index unexpectedly plunged to 52.6 in July from 62.6 in May.
Economists were expecting the index to climb to 63.0.
“A monthly fall of this magnitude has not been seen since October 2008 and left the Barometer at its lowest level since June 2013,” said MNI Chicago in its press release. “In spite of the sharp decline this month, feedback from purchasing managers was that they saw the downturn as a lull rather than the start of a new downward trend.”
“The surprise fall in the Chicago Business Barometer in July, following a strong second quarter, naturally raises questions about the sustainability of the recovery,” said MNI Chief Economist Philip Uglow. “Some feedback from panellists points to this being a temporary setback, although we’ll need to see the August data to judge to what extent this is a blip.”
Average US Household Now Worth a Third Less, While Assets of the 1% Soar
It would be an understatement to assert that The New York Times (NYT) was never sympathetic to the Occupy Movement. NYT reporting on Occupy and income inequality has generally served as a mini-me transcript of former Mayor Michael (“I’m with the titans of Wall Street”) Bloomberg.
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Yes, The New York Times does post Paul Krugman and occasional op-eds on income inequality, but usually, its coverage of economic issues leans heavily toward the financial interests of the top percentage earners – the people who buy the luxury goods and services advertised in the paper. When it comes to the economy, the NYT is not the paper of record; it is the paper promoting the interests and lifestyles of the rich.
Desert Rose and the Story of Stray Currents
By Daniel Ross
When Kathy Seacrist looks back over the past eight or so years, 2007 marked the beginning of a long nightmare. It was the year that her son, John McDonald, 37 at the time, started suffering from seizures.
“John was so healthy. Ate healthy. Everything. He was really buff. All my girlfriends fancied him,” she said. McDonald, his daughter Malia, and Seacrist all lived together at her home in Desert Rose, a subsidized housing community in Palm Desert, California.
In 2009, Seacrist’s own health began to deteriorate rapidly. “It started with terrible sinus infections and got progressively worse. I had slurred speech, my hands couldn’t stop shaking,” she said. By 2010, Seacrist, naturally slight, almost birdlike, someone always proud of staying trim and fit, thought that she was on the brink of death. “I was down to 82 pounds. For a while, doctors thought that I had MS. I told my mom, ‘If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.’ “
With the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine turning a local civil war into a U.S. confrontation with Russia, U.S. intelligence veterans urge President Obama to release what evidence he has about the tragedy and silence the hyperbole.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Intelligence on Shoot-Down of Malaysian Plane
U.S.–Russian tensions are building in a precarious way over Ukraine, and we are far from certain that your advisers fully appreciate the danger of escalation. The New York Times and other media outlets are treating sensitive issues in dispute as flat-fact, taking their cue from U.S. government sources.
MH17: towards the truth?
The more time passes, the more weighty become the questions raised the crash of flight MH17. Recently, Robert Parry, the great American journalist who revealed, among other things, the illegal operations of the Reagan area (the Iran-Contra network), published on the site of his foundation several important articles, involving either the Ukrainian army, or a mysterious “defector” of said army. The Russian news agency has recently published its own version. We have no reason to find it less, or more, credible than the one circulated by the US government. So that one may attempt to reformulate these questions precisely. But for a start, we must know what we are talking about.
1. What caused the crash?
The most frequently mentioned hypothesis refers to a SAM-11/17 missile, called « Buk » in Russia. In its M1 or M2 version, this is a SARH (Semi-Active Radar Homing) missile, equipped with a 70kg warhead, 40kg to 50kg of which consist of an explosive charge. The missile’s explosion is triggered by a proximity fuze. The destruction of the target occurs through a combination of shock-waves (the more violent the higher the density of the atmosphere) and splinters. We must notice here that if this weapon is perfectly mortal when used against a fighter-bomber weighing 25 to 36 tons, the Boeing 777 MR of Malaysian Airlines was weighing 300 tons. In order to give a scale for comparison, the B-52 strategic weighs only 220 tons, yet in the raids over Hanoï, in order to destroy it, SAM-2 missiles were required, with a war-head weighing 40K. Moreover, this allows one to exclude the « Buk » as being responsible for the destruction of an Antonov flying at an altitude of 6500 m and a speed of 500km/h. Indeed, this airplane, weighing 25t, would have been entirely destroyed by such a missile, and its crew would have been killed.
John Brennan issues apology after acknowledging that agency spied on Senate intelligence committee’s staff members
by Spencer Ackerman
The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, conceding that the agency employees spied on committee staff and reversing months of furious and public denials.
Brennan acknowledged that an internal investigation had found agency security personnel transgressed a firewall set up on a CIA network, which allowed Senate committee investigators to review agency documents for their landmark inquiry into CIA torture.
The admission brings Brennan’s already rocky tenure at the head of the CIA under renewed question. One senator on the panel said he had lost confidence in the director, although the White House indicated its support for a man who has been one of Barack Obama’s most trusted security aides.
Leave it to Beavers
July 4, 2014
The government’s decision to capture England’s only free-living population is unjustified and irrational.
By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 4th July 2014
British people love wildlife, but the government, yet again, seems determined to show that it hates it.
An opinion poll in Scotland found that 86 per cent of respondents were in favour of reintroducing the beaver. As most people seem to understand, it’s a magnificent animal which can enrich our lives and our countryside. It was once part of our native fauna, but was exterminated by hunting. It’s also a critically important species, essential to the functioning of aquatic ecosystems.
So when beavers were discovered, living and breeding on the River Otter in Devon, after they escaped from a collection somewhere, the public reaction was, overwhelmingly, delight. It’s the first population to live freely in England for hundreds of years.