"Change Proposed for State's Electoral Vote Process." Gov. Tom Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are proposing that Pennsylvania divide up its Electoral College votes according to which candidates carried each Congressional district, plus two votes for the statewide winner. Talking Points Memo says that under the proposed plan Obama would have received only 11 of the state's 20 electors in 2008; Dave Weigel and Nick Baumann say gerrymandering could mean that in 2012 Obama could actually wind up with a minority of the state's electors even if he carries the state. GOP-led legislatures in other states, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, could make similar moves. But could this be a bridge too far for some members of the state's GOP caucus? [more inside]
U.S. Poverty Rate, 1 in 6, at Highest Level in Years (NYT) - An additional 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, census officials said, making 46.2 million people in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch. That represented 15.1 percent of the country. The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four. (related)
"World War II has immesurably magnified the Negro's awareness of the disparity between the American profession and practice of democracy." During WWII, the armed forces were still marked by segregation of troops, with black troops often led solely by white officers, there were many instances of violence against African-American troops as well as general discrimination. While many African-American troops were serving with honor and some with particular levels of distinction, a stateside newspaper - the Pittsburgh Courier - began the "Double V" campaign: "Democracy: Victory at Home, Victory Abroad" after printing a letter from a reader asking "Should I Sacrifice To Live ‘Half American?’". The response from the community was overwhelming. Many people, not just activists, latched onto the campaign and made it a huge success for the community, helping to lay the ground work for the beginnings of the post-war Civil Rights movement.
"I finally said, you know what, I'm going to tell my story. The first American injured in the Iraq war is a gay Marine. He wanted to give his life to this country." ~Eric Alva, 40, former Marine and veteran of Operation Iraqi FreedomTell: An Intimate History of Gay Men in the Military [more inside]
From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeing — foreign affairs, social trends, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.) By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues, including (eventually) America’s entry to WWII. Video samples are available at Time.com, the March of Time Facebook page and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required) at HBO Archives. [more inside]
The job market is saturated and graduates are unable to get hired anywhere to get proper training. Law professors Richard Rhee and Bradley Borden have a solution: law schools should open their own law firms.
Poverty may be miserable. But being able to feel a bit better-off than someone else makes it a bit more bearable. Economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggest that people near the bottom end of financial inequity are less likely to be in favour of programs that will help increase their income if those programs will also help those lower on the scale than they are.
...the authors of the new paper argue that people don’t like to be at the bottom. One paradoxical consequence of this “last-place aversion” is that some poor people may be vociferously opposed to the kinds of policies that would actually raise their own income a bit but that might also push those who are poorer than them into comparable or higher positions. The authors ran a series of experiments where students were randomly allotted sums of money, separated by $1, and informed about the “income distribution” that resulted. They were then given another $2, which they could give either to the person directly above or below them in the distribution. The people who were a spot away from the bottom were the most likely to give the money to the person above them..This may also explain why Warren Buffet's cry to stop coddling the rich (previously) will continue to fall on deaf ears.
Lt. Gen. Russell Honore has a solution to the increasing splintering and radicalization of Congress: send all the members of Congress to boot camp and keep them there until they recognize their duty to America.
Divorce rates are higher than ever? Think again. A large majority—92%—of children whose families make more than $75,000 a year live with two parents (including step-parents). At the bottom of the income scale—families earning less than $15,000—only 20% of children live with two parents. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were.
Obesity Epidemic Grows: [CNN.com] "Two-thirds of all adults and about a third of all children and teenagers in the United States are overweight or obese according to a report release Thursday by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). According to "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011,"[PDF] adult obesity increased in 16 states during the past year and rates soared to 30% or more in these 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Four years ago, only one state - Mississippi - had an adult obesity rate of more than 30%. No state showed a decrease in it obesity rate in Thursday's report."
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
Copa América is streamed live on YouTube. Copa América is the oldest international football competition, having been held first in 1916. This is a contest between the 10 South American nations and two invitational teams, this time Costa Rica and Mexico, who both sent young squads (Japan was slated to take part but withdrew due to the earthquake). The tournament started yesterday with Bolivia unexpectedly managing to hold Argentina to a draw. Colombia are currently beating a 10-man Costa Rica 1-0. Brazil start their campaign tomorrow, against Venezuela. One of the world's premier football writers, Jonathan Wilson, wrote previews of the three groups, A, B and C. The Independent has more light-hearted team previews.
What does a post-American world look like? NPR interviews Fareed Zakaria on America's future role in world events.
Dan Savage speaks about the concept of monogamy.
The New Republic examines what they're calling "America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle" and asks, "What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?" [more inside]
Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists presents Fifty Years of Space Nuclear Power "A plutonium fueled RTG that was deployed in 1965 by the CIA not in space but on a mountaintop in the Himalayas (to help monitor Chinese nuclear tests) continues to generate anxiety, not electricity, more than four decades after it was lost in place. See, most recently, "River Deep Mountain High" by Vinod K. Jose, The Caravan magazine, December 1, 2010." (MeFi previously)
"I had to stand in front of 92 people and say 'Not only do you not have a job anymore, you don't have a house anymore'". On June 20th, the United States Gypsum Corporation will shut down its plant in Empire, Nevada, the last Company town in America.
Stewart's Petrified Wood is a shop off of I-40 in Holbrook, Arizona with giant animatronic dinosaurs eating, and sometimes being ridden by, somewhat decrepit mannequins. Also, there's an ostrich farm. [more inside]
50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President John F. Kennedy decided "...this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years later the Apollo program fulfilled the task, leaving the world with a legacy that includes advances in computers and communciation, lessons in managing complex projects, technological innovations and new views of the Earth. [more inside]
I’d always dismissed the idea of human trafficking in the United States. I’m Indian, and when I went to Mumbai and saw children sold openly, I wondered, Why isn’t anything being done about it? But now I know—it’s no different here. I never would have believed it, but I’ve seen it.
"Americans maximize their... [happiness] by working, and Europeans maximize their [happiness] through leisure,"
Why America is the 'no vacation nation'. (CNN) -- Let's be blunt: If you like to take lots of vacation, the United States is not the place to work.
Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - "For US manufacturing to make sense, factories must make extensive use of automation. That's getting easier, given that the cost of robots with comparable capabilities has decreased precipitously in the past two decades." [more inside]
Eyes of a Generation is a "virtual museum of television cameras, and the broadcast history they captured," curated by actor and radio DJ Bobby F. Ellerbee. The site has hundreds of photos of cameras and of television sets backstage. It also includes vintage articles and a neat look at how the moon backdrop on the Conan set works. [more inside]
Bill Moyers interviews David Simon "Again, we would have to ask ourselves a lot of hard questions. The people most affected by this are black and brown and poor. It’s the abandoned inner cores of our urban areas. As we said before, economically, we don’t need those people; the American economy doesn’t need them. So as long as they stay in their ghettos and they only kill each other, we’re willing to pay for a police presence to keep them out of our America."
Fareed Zakaria: Are America's Best Days Behind Us? - "We have an Electoral College that no one understands and a Senate that doesn't work, with rules and traditions that allow a single Senator to obstruct democracy without even explaining why. We have a crazy-quilt patchwork of towns, municipalities and states with overlapping authority, bureaucracies and resulting waste. We have a political system geared toward ceaseless fundraising and pandering to the interests of the present with no ability to plan, invest or build for the future. And if one mentions any of this, why, one is being unpatriotic, because we have the perfect system of government, handed down to us by demigods who walked the earth in the late 18th century and who serve as models for us today and forever. America's founders would have been profoundly annoyed by this kind of unreflective ancestor worship." [for/against]
With Marvel Comics hinting that Black Panther will become "American Panther", a typical storm of controversy and speculation has occurred over the supposed Americanization of an African character. The artists over at The Temple of Cartoon Mojo on the other hand, wondered what would happen if MORE iconic characters were made patriotic. The results range from the silly, to the utterly awesome.
A Tragedy of Errors. On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA-obtained transcripts of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
In his project A More Perfect Union, artist R. Luke Dubois aggregated language used in the profiles of 19 million single Americans on 21 dating sites. He then organized the data to create "dozens of insanely detailed city and state maps which tell a wonderfully rich story about who we are, or at least, who we claim to be." A Video about the project. (R. Luke Dubois, previously on MeFi.)
Today is the 8th Anniversary of the beginning of the War in Iraq. Protesters around the country are trying to bring attention to our nation's continued involvement.
The New York Times asked Gallup to come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America, based on the characteristics that most closely correlated with happiness in 2010. Men, for example, tend to be happier than women, older people are happier than middle-aged people, and so on. Gallup’s answer: he’s a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year. And here he is. (single link NYT-filter)
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives deliberately allowed assault rifles to be smuggled into Mexico, so they could be tracked. The weapons were then used in a spree of murders, including that of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The operation was called "Fast and Furious". The Mexican government was apparently unaware of the operation, and is investigating. The ATF is going to have a review of whether their strategy supports "the goals of ATF to stem the illegal flow of firearms to Mexico".
American academic Frances Fox Piven has been heavily criticised by Glenn Beck as a threat to the American way of life. She is not for turning.
Gun show undercover - how dangerous people get guns.
Filibustery, making the filibuster — and the proposals in the U.S. Senate to reform it — more understandable. [more inside]
"Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.... At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, about one-third will have had an abortion." Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures in the U.S., but it can be very difficult to get unbiased information about the procedure. From Jezebel: The Girl's Guide to Having an Abortion.
I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. Barack Obama speaks in Tucson, Arizona.
Tea party in the Sonora: For the future of G.O.P. governance, look to Arizona. An article by Ken Silverstein, from the July 2010 issue of Harpers.
19th-century newspaper ads for patented stomach cures and digestive aids [...] foregrounded mince pie as the K2 of digestive summits. But for every published warning on the dangers of mince, the newspapers published a poem, essay, or editorial praising it as a great symbol of American cultural heritage or a nostalgic reminder of mother love and better times bygone—or even, as the State of Columbia, South Carolina, asserted in 1901, a beneficial Darwinian instrument that had "thinned out the weak ones" among the pioneering generations.So wrote Cliff Doerksen in his wonderful, James Beard award-winning article Mince Pie: The Real American Pie. Doerksen not only gives the history of this once most American of foods, he also makes two mince pies from 19th Century recipes to see if they are indeed all that. This is but one of many great articles Doerksen wrote for The Chicago Reader in recent years (links to a selection below the cut). Sadly, Cliff Doerksen passed at the age of 47 just before Christmas. [more inside]
In recession-hit Saginaw, MI, the initial setting of Simon and Garfunkel's "America", mural painter Eric Shantz has begun painting the lyrics to the song on abandoned buildings.