The political economy of a universal basic income
: "your view of what is feasible should not be backwards looking. The normalization of gay marriage and legalization of marijuana seemed utopian and politically impossible until very recently. Yet in fact those developments are happening, and their expansion is almost inevitable
given the demographics of ideology... UBI
— defined precisely as periodic transfers of identical fixed dollar amounts to all citizens of the polity — is by far the most probable
and politically achievable
among policies that might effectively address problems
of inequality, socioeconomic fragmentation, and economic stagnation." [more inside]
March in August: thousands rally against Tony Abbott by taking to streets
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets for the latest wave of protests against the federal government.
Demonstrations were held in cities across the country, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, to protest against a range of of social and economic policies being implemented by the Abbott government.
About 3,000 protesters marched through Sydney, voicing their concerns on a range of issues, from Australia's asylum seeker policies, to education cuts and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Meet the Beer Bottle Dictator: For years, one man has approved virtually every beer label design in the United States. Among brewers, he’s a tyrant. A legend. A pedantic pain in the ass. Brewers and legal experts speak of him in hushed tones, with equal parts irritation and reverence. "He’s the king of beer. His will is law," said one lawyer who works with him regularly. The lawyer asked to remain anonymous, for fear of crossing the beer specialist. "There’s one dude in the government who gets to control a multibillion-dollar industry with almost no supervision." And he goes by the name "Battle."
: the Indian counterpart of the US data.gov, features 10280 resources in 3215 catalogs for public perusal. There's a visualization gallery
charting developments like village electrification
or domestic air traffic
or sales of automobiles
. And also a community section featuring apps offering mobile access to some of the data.
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland
, Rep. Tim Ryan (OH)
, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL)
, and Rep. Barbara Lee (CA)
are among those have been participating in the Live the Wage Challenge
, posting on social media about their experiences. The Challenge (pdf)
"asks elected officials, community leaders, advocates and anyone concerned about the growing inequality in this country to walk in the shoes of a minimum wage worker by living on a minimum wage budget for one week. That’s just $77."
This week's Glenn Greenwald revelation
is that Britain's GCHQ JTRIG intelligence organization offers its agents and planners tools
with abilities to increase the search ranking of chosen web sites, “change outcome of online polls”, “masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries”, and accomplish “amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).” [more inside]
Today is the National Gay Blood Drive
, a campaign
dedicated to bringing attention to the fact that the FDA still bans any men who have had sex with other men (MSM), at any
time since 1977 from becoming blood donors.
The US GAO Flickr page
features selected photos and graphics from US Government Accountability Office reports that are searchable, viewable, and downloadable by visitors to their site
. [more inside]
The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States
); press coverage
) - "The signature effects of human-induced climate change
—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts
of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation's current assets and ongoing economic activity. [The report] uses a standard risk-assessment approach to determine the range of potential consequences
for each region of the U.S.—as well as for selected sectors of the economy—if we continue on our current path..." [more inside]
With a vague promise to support more women
in the workplace as one of the key points of pushing an economic recovery, the reality is much more bleak for working women in Japan. Yesterday, while delivering a speech on the importance of supporting working mothers, Ayaka Shiomura, a member of the Tokyo government assembly was heckled
, with jeers from other lawmakers demanding to know why she hadn't gotten married, and demanding to know if she was able to bear children
. The Liberal Democratic Party has so far refused to reprimand the members responsible, and while members of Shiomura's party point out that Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe (with his own history of outright sexism
) was evidently laughing
as Shiomura at first laughed in disbelief, then was quickly reduced to tears
(Japanese link, no English subtitles).
The Department of Immigration and Border Patrol of Australia's secret blacklist of immigration lawyers and agents has been discovered.
DIBP claims that the list is used for "risk assessment" for partner visas and has "no impact" on assessing cases. The Migration Alliance, the lobby group of Australian migration agents that broke the news
of the list, is not convinced.
It's simple. Just say Yes. Campbell Newman’s
LNP government has asked the residents of Queensland to help balance their budget. Strong Choices
is an online survey
giving respondents the opportunity to suggest reduction targets by selecting taxation or reduction in services or benefits. Problem is, there doesn't seem to be much choice. If you’d like to play along, you’ll need a Queensland postcode
. I chose Mooloolaba
VC for the people
- "It's just that people who have options are much more likely to actually find success than people who don't." [more inside]
Gilens and Page analyze
1,779 policy outcomes over a period of more than 20 years. They conclude that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
Average citizens have “little or no independent influence” on the policy-making process? This must be an overstatement of Gilens’s and Page’s findings, no?
The US Office of Personnel Management's Retirement Operations Center is housed about 230 feet below the surface inside the caverns of an old limestone mine.
The trucks full of paperwork come every day, turning off a country road north of Pittsburgh and descending through a gateway into the earth. Underground, they stop at a metal door decorated with an American flag. [more inside]
Turkey: The Erdogan-Gulen showdown
- "A political fight to the death had just broken out between Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, and his former allies in the movement of Mr Gulen... The prime minister argues that the Gulenists have set up a 'parallel state' within the bureaucracy, following orders from Pennsylvania and pursuing an agenda of their own." [more inside]
Free Money for Everyone
- "A wacky-sounding idea with surprisingly conservative roots may be our best hope for escaping endless, grinding economic stagnation." (via
) [more inside]
The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution
- "[Charles Percy Snow
] was pleading for a more adequately educated ruling class so that the suffering of the poor might be ameliorated... Snow wanted to believe something like this: political decisions in the modern world often concern how to deploy science and technology, so people well-trained in science and technology will be better prepared to make those decisions. But that's a syllogism without a minor premise." (previously
) [more inside]
Acknowledged to be one of the few British politicians who became more left-wing
after having actually served in government, former veteran left-wing campaigner Tony Benn
has died at home aged 88. Tony was a British Labour Party politician and Member of Parliament (MP) for 50 years
, and a Cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. His legacy can be seen in postage
, in the powerful five questions
, the speeches he gave
, and his diaries
Inside the Nightmare Launch of HealthCare.Gov
- "Unknown to a nation following the fiasco, McDonough's assignment from the President had boiled down to something more dire than how to fix the site. As the chief of staff remembers his mission, it was 'Can it be patched and improved to work, or does it need to be scrapped to start over? He wanted to know if this thing is salvageable.' Yes, on Oct. 17, the President was thinking of scrapping the whole thing and starting over." (previously
) [more inside]
Thomas Scully, the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services under President George W. Bush, once said, “Fifty percent of the social safety net was created by Henry Waxman when no one was looking.”
After 40 years and 17 consecutive terms, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is retiring from Congress. [more inside]
The deep philosophical differences between the two main conservative factions of the Catholic Church, pitting adherents of John Courtney Murray against the followers of Alasdair MacIntyre is the root cause of the mixed messages being put out by the Church on public policy matters. It is the fight worth watching.
In possibly the largest Southern progressive protest
since Selma in 1965, 75,000 to 100,000 people marched on Raleigh, North Carolina this Sunday in protest against the recently elected conservative government’s radical agenda.
Once a comparatively moderate Southern state, the government North Carolina elected in 2010 has begun a systematic campaign
[previously] to remove 50 years of progressive legislation from the state. Weekly Moral Mondays protests
[previously], beginning in April 2013, have been ongoing, but this march represents the biggest gathering so far in protest of the NC government. [more inside]
was born in 1921. She used to take the subway to the airport
when she started flying in 1936.She fought in World War II, and at the age of 92 is now fighting the government she served to obtain Social Security benefits following the death of her husband, Norwood.
The Social Security Administration states that she is ineligible because her legal 2004 marriage was not legal.
During their Freedom Hosting
investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers
. [more inside]
In China, there are certain "bad notes" that frighten people and are refused as legal tender. Why?
That lack of expertise explains why in building healthcare.gov, the government turned to industry contractors; in particular, to CGI Federal, a subsidiary of CGI Group, a Canadian company. To those uninitiated in the dark art of government contracting, it seems scandalous that CGI, a company most Americans had never heard of, a company that is not located in Silicon Valley (where President Obama has plenty of Internet superstar friends who could have formed a dazzling brain trust to implement his signature legislation) but rather in Montreal, could be chosen as the lead contractor for the administration’s most important initiative. While right-wing news outlets have focused on the possible relationship between Toni Townes-Whitley, senior vice president for civilian-agency programs at CGI Federal, and Michelle Obama, both of whom were 1985 Princeton graduates, CGI’s selection is probably more an example of a dysfunctional system than it is a scandal. “A lot of the companies in Silicon Valley don’t do business with the government at that level [the level required for federal contracting],” explains Soloway. “It is very burdensome, and the rules make it very unattractive.” Indeed, government contractors have to meet a whole host of requirements contained in a foot-thick book, including cost accounting and excessive auditing, to prove that they are not profiting too much off the American taxpayer. Hence, there tends to be a relatively small, specialized group of companies that compete for this work, even on such critical matters as healthcare.gov.
- Accounting for Obamacare
Who's influencing reproductive policy in Canada?
Unfortunately, the difference between the religious right in Canada and our neighbours to the south is not so much doctrinal as it is window dressing. The Tea Party’s "late term abortion" red herring with its attendant gruesome imagery very much parallels the "gender-selection" trope of the Conservative base in Canada. It’s a matter of media and public relations, knowing your audience and playing to its sympathies.
Meet The 'Assassination Market' Creator Who's Crowdfunding Murder With Bitcoins
Last month I received an encrypted email from someone calling himself by the pseudonym Kuwabatake Sanjuro, who pointed me towards his recent creation: The website Assassination Market
, a crowdfunding service that lets anyone anonymously contribute bitcoins towards a bounty on the head of any government official–a kind of Kickstarter for political assassinations. According to Assassination Market’s rules, if someone on its hit list is killed–and yes, Sanjuro hopes that many targets will be–any hitman who can prove he or she was responsible receives the collected funds.
of "Save the Mimolette!
", the FDA has decided to ban
the sale of the French cheese Mimolette over mites used in the rind. [more inside]
Stop calling the DA "the Government!" it hurts her feelings or something.
The defense responds..'Should this Court disagree, and feel inclined to let the parties basically pick their own designations and ban words, then the defense has a few additional suggestions....defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a "lawyer," or a "defense attorney." Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the "Defender of the Innocent." This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent. Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation "Guardian of the Realm."'
Ayn Rand: More Relevant Now than Ever
The speaker was the CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Seier Christensen. As the head of an investment bank based in socialist Denmark, Christensen is particularly enraged by high taxation, social welfare and banking regulation. "The world is on the wrong track," he told us. "A malady that has long beset Europe is currently spreading to the US". Apparently we are experiencing a "socialist revival" to which "Ayn Rand is the only answer".
Dwarf Fortress: A Marxist Analysis
What one does in Dwarf Fortress is create a colony of an existing dwarven fortress – you’re always sent out as a team from a much larger existing stronghold elsewhere, and your foreign relations with other dwarves are limited to that particular fortress, on the whole. Even though your settlement is independent and self-governing, and the relations with the mother fortress mostly those of trade, the purpose of the game in all its open-endedness can be nothing other than to create oneself in the image of the previous fortress. In other words, fundamentally in Dwarf Fortress you reproduce the existing structure of dwarven society on a merely quantitatively expanded scale.
I signed up for an account on Healthcare.gov last week. It wasn’t the smoothest process, but I was able to create an account. Some parts are slow; sometimes you have to reload a page to make progress. But it’s starting to work. It will be fixed, because it has to be. And now that the launch and inevitable crash has finally happened, in a way the worst is over. Real-world traffic is providing programmers all the debugging data that they could ever want, and “all bugs are shallow with the president watching,” as Paul Ford writes in Bloomberg Businessweek, paraphrasing the open-source-software advocate Eric Raymond’s assertion that “with enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”
-- Rusty Foster
in The New Yorker
Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams.
Advice to UK animal owners
just before World War Two broke out: "If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency." It concluded: "If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed." [more inside]