Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Progress, Reality and Cynicism: Lessons We Learned From Millennium Development Goals

by Nomad

Back in 2000, the UN brought world leaders together to draw up a plan to make the world a better place. This year, fifteen years later, that effort was analyzed and the results might surprise you.

When the Paris Climate Change Summit came to its conclusion recently, it was easy to be a little skeptical about the level of commitment of the nations that pledged to address climate change. 
Preventing global destruction is not going to be a piece of cake.  
In fact, it will require nothing less than a re-tooling of the world's economy and the energy industry. 
Who knows if it is possible given the time constraints? It's easy to be cynical and defeatist when it comes to tackling such a huge problem. 

Critics claim this is all merely window-dressing. Just a bunch of timid self-serving bureaucrats making useless paperwork that's not even legally binding. There's no way, critics say, to confront and punish violators. 

Of course, this view automatically assumes that global progress can only be achieved by force, by a threat of punishment or by intimidation. 
But, to turn the tables on those critics, where is the evidence that that has ever worked? Simply because something is difficult shouldn't mean we ignore our responsibility. 

President John Kennedy, during one of the darkest periods of the Cold War, once warned about allowing hopelessness and defeatist to overwhelm us. (In this case, world peace.)

Thinking something is impossible makes it that much harder to address in a rational manner. In 1963, he told the graduating class at the American University that we must stop thinking war is inevitable. Mankind is not doomed, and we must not yield to the idea that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. 
"We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made — therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.
No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable — and we believe they can do it again."
Even though the dream of world peace has not implemented universally even today, Kennedy's hard-nosed optimism is not wrong. Peace, he once said, is not a warm and fuzzy dream. It is a process. We make things harder by thinking that overnight we can solve all of the problems in the world, just by wishing and praying. 
While that may be a proper point to begin, just wishing for a better world isn't going to be enough.
It calls for a practical approach.

One of the problems is defining what it means when we say "a better world." What does that mean? Much better for a limited few, or slightly better for the majority?
In 2000, the UN General Assembly drafters of the Millennium Declaration had their specific notions and were determined to see progress in fifteen years. In that declaration, the representatives of all of the member nations recognized that:
" addition to our separate responsibilities to our individual societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level. As leaders we have a duty therefore to all the world’s people, especially the most vulnerable and, in particular, the children of the world, to whom the future belongs."

Monday, December 28, 2015

Idaho School Fires Cafeteria Worker for Giving Free Lunch to Hungry Student

by Nomad

A story from Pocatello Idaho about a middle school cafeteria worker and her act of compassion which led to her termination.

Thanks to a school district, the children in Irving Middle School in Pocatello, Idaho learned a valuable lesson about empathy and compassion.
The message was loud and clear: 
Don't do it or you will be punished.

When school cafeteria worker ,Dalene Bowden, gave a meal to a 12-year-old student who told her she didn't have money, she never expected to lose her job. After her supervisor saw what happened, Bowden was reported. He then told her that she was to be put on permanent leave.  

Soon after that, a letter arrived from the school district  which explained that Bowden had been terminated for "theft involving school district or another's property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving and serving food."
No other transgressions were registered or warnings of prior misconduct were noted in the letter. If there had been a history of employee related problems, there should have been some kind of list provided.
Additionally, there was apparently no arbitration process in cases of termination. All decisions by the school district seemed to both final and unchallengable.

The single-page letter reads:
Consequently, because of the nature of your actions, the District will not be maintaining your employment in any capacity.
Bowden offered to compensate the school district for the $1.70 meal, but that offer was rejected. In reaction to the school district's decision, Bowden has been forced to contact a lawyer.

According to the school's website, Irving Middle School claims it is all about "kindness and community." 

Back in 2013, Principal Tonya Wilkes and the school's former principal Susan Pettit (who, in the capacity of human resource director, signed the termination letter) were all about "teaching students the importance of virtues and a sense of belonging and looking out for one another.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Why University Students are Becoming America's Latest Victims of Homelessness

by Nomad

Although we probably all have a stereotype of the homeless, a closer look often reveals that the victims are not so different than you or me. Here's one example.

The Newest Demographic

In this month's Rolling Stone, Rebecca Nathanson writes that our nation's best and brightest are quickly becoming casualties to homelessness. (see link below)
Last year, more than 56,000 students identified as homeless on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form. But the real number of homeless students is almost certainly higher:
As remarkable and disappointing as that figure might seem, that number doesn't include those students who are ineligible to qualify as homeless because the lack of proof, (such as verification from a shelter.)

Additionally, the figure also doesn't represent the large number of college students whose living arrangements are unstable and insecure. To be sure that's a different form of homelessness, which may mean sleeping in one's car, a campus library or being a guest with friends.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Napoleon Explains Why Putin Sent Kisses and Hugs to Candidate Trump

by Nomad

A week or so ago, Russian president gave a positive assessment of Donald Trump. He called Trump "the absolute leader of the presidential race" and called Trump "a bright and talented person without any doubt." 
Putin added that he believed the candidate was "an outstanding and talented personality."
Oh, brother. 

Amid alll of those glowing reviews, there was apparently not a trace of a sarcastic smirk on that waxy face.

Some commentators claimed that Putin's remarks were quite sincere and that Putin respected "fighters" and wants "a manly adversary." 
(take that, vagina-welding Hillary!)

On the other hand, this quote by Napoleon might better explain Putin's reasoning.
Of course, if you look at it from Russia's point of view, Donald Trump in the White House could achieve what no enemy of the US could ever dream of.
In about six months.

If you were the leader of Russia, wouldn't you want Trump to be the next president of the United States?

Deathtrap: Winter in Aegean Sea Proves Lethal for Refugees and their Children

by Nomad

Despite the onset of winter weather, rough seas and icy winds, the narrow strait between Greece and Turkey continues to lure refugees and their children to their deaths.

Rough Times, Rough Seas

In the early hours of this morning, Christmas Eve, the Turkish Coast Guard received reports of an emergency at sea off Bademli coast in the Aegean Sea. Local news media states that a wooden boat filled beyond capacity with refugees had capsized in the high waves. From initial reports, 18 refugees  in an attempt to reach the Greek island of Lesbos have drowned. Six of  the dead were children.

For rescuers, such calls in the night have become routine since the refugee crisis began about a year ago. Few of the locals are shocked any longer. A kind of hopelessness has worn down any outrage.

Although winter here is mild by comparison to other nations further north, it's hard to overstress how treachous this crossing is during this time of year. Winter is simply not the time to travel between islands unless absolutely necessary. Since October, the local authorities have been warning the increased risks. That's not detered many migrant families from taking their chances with merciless seas and equally unforgiving weather.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Want to Spoil Your Happiness? Think About Money

by Nomad

In a search for true happiness, thoughts of money are a killjoy.

If you are- for some obscure reason- eager to ruin whatever bit of joy that life has to offer, an article from last May's Psychological Science has some advice. 
Think about money.

Studies have demonstrated that the level of happiness is dependent on that person's ability to appreciate and savor their experiences.  How much happiness you derive from living depends on what degree you are able to extract joy, awe, excitement, and gratitude- the full range of emotions- before, during and after your experiences. 

Psychologist Jordi Quoidbach and his research team from the University of Liege in Belguim devised an experiment involving nearly 400 adults coming from diverse backgrounds.
The participants were randomly divided into two groups. One group was shown an image of a stack of money while the other group was shown the same image blurred beyond recognition. Both groups were given psychological tests to rate their ability to savor pleasant experiences in general. 

As described in their academic paper, their paper, Money Giveth, Money Taketh Away: The Dual Effect of Wealth on Happiness, the researchers found that people who had been shown photos of money scored significantly lower on the tests.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Farewell Gift from the "Fair Lady of the Hill"

by Nomad

One woman's last bequest will help provide shelter to Australia's homeless youth.

Last Friday, in a small ceremony, the final request of Lily Fardell, known locally as the "Fair Lady of the Hill" was formally carried out.
I'm sure you've never heard of her. After all, she wasn't a celebrity and lived a pretty average life.
Mrs. Fardell, a resident of the city of Newcastle, (the second most populated area in the Australian state of New South Wales),  died earlier this year at the age of 96.

Her four-bedroom, three bathroom home, the historic Pacific House, was located in the prestigious suburb called "The Hill." 
And what a splendid home it is.
The home itself was built in 1871 and was sold to a couple living in nearby High Street. It originally housed Thomas Smith, a pioneering Newcastle builder who served on Newcastle council and was elected mayor in 1896.
With her husband, Noel, Lily moved to the Pacific House in 1958. Both of them were teachers. They were the actually the second owners of the wide-verandah home which looks out upon King Edward Park.
Pacific House became renowned for generosity and acts of charity and by all accounts, her home was filled with decades of pleasant memories.
When the Christmas carols were on across the road, she would host 40 friends who would sing along, drink tea and enjoy the odd tipple of good wine.
In so many ways, it was all that a home should be. A place of shelter where good things are shared with family, friends and even strangers.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Conservatives and the Fear of Alexis de Tocqueville

by Nomad

Sounds like a good description of the politics of Republican conservatives to me.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Allies and Enemies: How America's Saudi Arabian Double Standard Mocks the Fight Against ISIS

by Nomad

There's no question that ISIS is an embodiment of barbarity and a perversion of Islam. However, some critics of Western foreign policy in the Middle East might ask: Is Saudi Arabia- an ally- really all that much better?

One of the most perplexing and exasperating problems for anybody trying to create a sensible approach to the Middle East has been determining who your foe and who your friend actually is.. at any given moment.  

For Western policy makers, absolute impartiality is not an option. Attempting to please implacable enemies, like Israel and Iran, is an exercise in futility. And this, in turn, forces countries to choose based on criteria that seems as unstable as the shifting desert sand.

Concessions have to be made to keep everybody happy but with the rise of the brutality of the ISIS caliphate, the US and the West, in general, are forced to confront its irreconcible double standard. Does being a Western ally entail nothing more than shared self-interests?  What happened to shared core values and principles that defines "us" from "them"? 

Hundreds of Workers in Juarez Mexico Fired by US Company for Asking for $7...a day

by Nomad

Start giving Mexicans workers a living wage and the first thing you know there won't be an immigration problem at all.
"Hundreds of workers at the Lexmark plant in Juarez have been fired after they walked off the job last week, asking for raises, the right to unionize as well as other demands.
According to the Spanish-language website sinembargo, the labor dispute started back in early November, after workers asked for a raise of six pesos, or roughly .34 cents a day.
Lexmark, an international company producing printer cartridges, now pays workers a maximum of 70.10 pesos per day, or $4.03 daily."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bloomberg: Price Gouging Pharma CEO Shrekli Arrested on Securities Fraud Charges

by Nomad

It was really only a matter of time before Martin Shrekli's wings were clipped. And nobody's crying for him.

From the "it couldn't happen to a nicer guy" files...

This year, Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, CEO Martin Shkreli outraged the public sensibilities by raising the price of a HIV treatment drug from $13.50 to $750. 

Shrekli initially scoffed at the firestorm against the decision. He took to Twitter and other social media to essentially give the middle finger to anybody that criticized him.
When the controversy grew louder, he vowed to lower the price. However, it was later reported that he had failed to do so. His critics- which ended up being most of the nation-claimed that Shrekli had never had any intention of lower pricing at all but it was just a ploy to quell the growing public anger at both his greed and arrogance.

It soon became part of the political debate. A spokesman for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders returned campaign donations from the CEO saying they could not accept to money “from this poster boy for drug company greed.”
Donald Trump - of all people- called Shrekli a "spoiled brat."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Horny Moses: Why Biblical Literalists Really Have Some Explaining to Do

by Nomad

When people say they believe every word of the Bible, they may not know very much about the history of the sacred text they claim as the direct word of God. 

As Moses climbed down from the mountaintop with his ten commandments, the amazed Israelites noticed a great change in his appearance. The question is: did Moses have newly white hair? Or did he had a pair of horns on his forehead?

The answer to that depended on which period of history you lived in. For most of us, it's not a subject we would normally dwell on. But those who claim the Bible is the infallible Word of God, the question presents some thorny problems.

Moses with Horns

Above is a detail photo of a statue from the end of the Middle Ages. This statue of Moses was sculpted by Michelangelo between the years 1513–1515. Today, it sits in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome.

You might see something a bit peculiar if you study the photo closely. Along with his flowing beard and tablets in his arms, the Prophet Moses has a pair of goatish horns on his head.
One could be forgiven for thinking that Michelangelo was shooting at a statue of Lucifer.
But no, that's the Hebrew lawgiver Michelangelo carved.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Russian Sanctions on Turkish Fabric Imports Halt Production of Anti-Turkish T-Shirts

by Nomad

With relations between Turkey and Russia at an all-time low, T-shirt designers in Russia are learning about the peculiar twists of globalization.

In need of a good irony fix? Well, Nomad does house calls!

You may have heard about the falling out between Russia and Turkey after the downing of a Russian bomber which had likely violated Turkish airspace for all of 17 seconds. One pilot was killed by rebels conducting target practice on parachuting Russians. 

Both sides had their own versions of what happened and things got meaner and nastier. A "stab in the back" was how the clearly-flustered Putin put it. Erdogan claimed to right to defend his national airspace.

Tit for tat snipes quickly were followed by the imposition of trade sanctions.
That's no small matter either.
In 2014, trade between the two countries amounted to $31 billion, and in the first nine months of 2015, to $18.1 billion. Turkey Russia’s eighth largest trading partner, while Russia is Turkey’s second largest trading partner, after the European Union. For different reasons, both economically-troubled nations do not need this hiccup.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Re-Greening of the African Continent: How African Leaders Came Together to Save the Planet

by Nomad

African leaders recently announced a new regional initiative to tackle one of the world's more important environmental threats.

During the recent Climate Summit 2015 in Paris, leaders from ten African nations came together to launch an initiative aimed at restoring 100 million hectares or about 400 thousand square miles of degraded or deforested land.

Countries that have agreed to join the AFR100 initiative include:

• Democratic Republic of Congo | 8 million hectares
• Ethiopia | 15 million hectares
• Kenya | Committed, but finalizing hectare target
• Liberia | 1 million hectares
• Madagascar | Committed, but finalizing hectare target
• Malawi | Committed, but finalizing hectare target
• Niger | 3.2 million hectares
• Rwanda | 2 million hectares
• Togo | Committed, but finalizing hectare target
• Uganda | 2.5 million hectares

The project, AFR100 (African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative) has been endorsed by the African Union and its promoters hope to reach this goal by 2030.  

One billion dollars in development finance and more than $540 million in private sector impact investment has been earmarked to support the restoration.
The announcement was made during the Global Landscapes Forum at the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, where forest landscape restoration is a key ingredient of the global movement to adapt to and mitigate climate change. Commitments made through AFR100 build on significant climate pledges made by many African countries to support a binding global climate agreement.
The threat is immense, endangering not merely people and wildlife in the region, but the entire planet.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

History and Texas Anti-Abortion Laws Show How Futile and Dangerous Conservative Efforts Are

by Nomad

A new study in Texas about self-induced abortions underscores that truth that conservatives have long denied. Making something illegal won't make it go away and could have unintended consequences.

Republican leaders in Texas are jubilant about their attempts to close down Planned Parenthood clinics  in their state. When deciding to cut off Medicaid funding for the organization, Governor Greg Abbott led the charge even to the point of breaking federal law. The rush is on now to close down to remaining abortion clinics in operation. 
Planned Parenthood, as most people know, is not solely an abortion provider. It also provides valuable reproductive health care services for women. Inevitably, there will sooner or later be consequences for half-baked policy.

But then this is Texas where, when it comes to conservative bombast, there are no holds barred.Conservative crazy comes at a two-for-one price there. Republican president candidate Canadian-cum-Texan Ted Cruz called Planned Parenthood "an ongoing criminal enterprise."

JEB! couldn't understand why it was necessary to spend half a billion dollars for women's health issues at all. Apparently nobody has explained to JEB (the "smart" Bush) that women make up 50.8% of the population and 43.5 million of those women have children. These mothers gave birth to 95.8 million children. Somebody forgot to inform JEB that the health of women naturally has an impact of the children they have.)

Rep. Steve Stockman not long ago contributed his excuse for cleverness with a bumper sticker campaign which linked two seemingly unrelated issues close to the hearts of Texas right-wingers: Guns and fetuses.
The stickers read: 
If babies had guns, they wouldn't be aborted. 
This was matched with pro-choice signs that read: 
If my vagina could fire bullets, you wouldn't regulate it.
Who could possibly argue with logic like that?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

With One United Voice: The First Stirrings of the Women's Rights Movement in 1850

by Nomad

When the Founding Fathers declared that a government earns its true legitimacy from the consent of the governed, they hadn't counted on women taking it to the next logical step.

The 1850 Women's Rights Convention

Recently I uncovered this interesting quote by an early American reformer/activist named Francis Dana Gage.  The name isn't as familiar to the general public as it should be. Even by modern feminists, she is largely forgotten. 
That's a pity.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Year Emma Morano was Born

by Nomad

When Emma Morano was born, Queen Victoria, now weary with age, was still on the throne and William McKinley was president. 

The other players were rehearsing in the wings.
The youthful Albert Einstein had just entered university and, Morano's fellow countryman, Guillermo Marconi was still working out the details of his wireless communication device. The Wright brothers were flying kites in Dayton, Ohio.
Mohandas Gandhi was a just young lawyer in South Africa. Adolf Hilter and Benito Mussolini were just a pair angry teenagers and Franklin Roosevelt was a sheltered young man of Hyde Park privilege, preparing to go to Harvard.

In the year of her Morano's birth, Henry Ford had a falling out with Thomas Edison and started his own enterprise. He called it "The Detroit Automobile Company." The term, "automobile," had only been coined earlier that year in an editorial in The New York Times. A year later, after only twenty vehicles had been built, the company went bust.

In 1899, visionary inventor Nikola Tesla in his laboratory in Colorado Springs told an interviewer:
Life is a rhythm that must be comprehended....Everything that lives is related to a deep and wonderful relationship: man and the stars, amoebas’ and the sun, the heart and the circulation of an infinite number of worlds. These ties are unbreakable, but they can be tamed propitiate and begin to create new and different relationships in the world, and that does not violate the old.
Telsa looked deep into the future and saw a fantastic era in human history about to begin. It was a time of profound optimism. It was impossible not to feel that every problem could be solved and things from here on out would steadily improve. 

Nevertheless, when Morano entered into this world, there were no televisions, no radios, and the motion picture industry was in its infancy. There were no airplanes in the sky and no highways crisscrossing the land and lassoing cities. 

The average life expectancy in Italy- Emma's home- was only 44 years. For an Italian woman today, that figure has nearly doubled to 85.2.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Closing Doors: Why Russian Travel Restrictions May Signal a Return to Soviet Days

by Nomad

By the use of tighter travel restrictions and fear tactics, The Russian government may have a few very good reasons for trying to spoil its citizens' vacations abroad.  

The Freedom of Movement
St. Augustine once said:
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
The liberating effects of leaving your native land and seeing how others live -if only for a short time- are well-known.
The freedom of movement is, in fact, a human right, recognized in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This right to travel covers not only inside one's own country but to other countries. Furthermore, the right pertains not just to visiting and holiday-making but, if desired, the right to change one's residence permanently.
The provision in the UDHR states:
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
  • Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
In that respect, internal borders should be as limited as possible and external borders should act as a regulator of the flow but not a block.
Like a lot of things in the UDHR, there are quite a few limitations to the real-life applications.  It's is, indeed, hard to imagine how this freedom of movement could be applied strictly or even in a practical way.

Immigration and emigration will always be considered a part of national sovereignty. There will always be zones in every country where people cannot travel. There will always be costs imposed that in themselves limit this freedom.
Moreover, persons charged with or convicted of crimes are  denied this right.

With so many exceptions, you might even wonder about the wisdom of including such a right in the first place. Why was this article deemed necessary you might ask?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

by Nomad

Somebody on Facebook pointed out this touch of irony. But it goes even a little further than even this.  Thanksgiving is a holiday about being helped as refugees and giving thanks to God for that blessing." 

The same people who last week absolutely refused to accept refugees from war-torn Syria are now preparing to dine on their Thanksgiving dinner right now and feel no sense of hypocrisy at all.

Monday, November 23, 2015

GOP Congressman's Defense of the First Amendment and Religious Liberty Outrages Conservatives

by Nomad

One Republican Congressman was given a stern dressing down for a letter he sent to a constituent regarding fears of a Muslim takeover. Apparently, upholding the First Amendment and the Constitution's defense of religious liberty makes some conservatives livid.

Earlier this month, a widely-read conservative website, RedState, posted an article expressing outrage about a letter sent to a constituent by Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger from Illinois. As per the Tea Party echo chamber, this article was re-posted ad nauseam.
The original letter sent to Kinzinger's office was related to the fears of the supposed spread of Muslim Sharia Law in his district.
To this, Kinzinger gave a polite and well-considered reply. That did not sit well with the conservatives. At all. 
Kinzinger’s email response begins by acknowledging that many people inside and outside of the expansive 16th congressional district have concerns about Sharia Law, but then took things a bridge too far by stating that Sharia Law was protected under the free exercise clause of the 1st amendment and that it was his sworn duty as an elected member of Congress to defend the Constitution and by extension Islamic Sharia Law.
First elected to Congress in 2010, Kinzinger was re-elected to Congress in both 2012 and 2014 to represent Illinois's 16th congressional district. He is also a United States Air Force vet and flew missions in South America, Guam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. With a military record like that, Kinzinger's loyalty to his nation and all that it stands for is something few would dare to question.
The writer of the RedState piece, Ulysses Arn, said that the reply made Kinzinger, the spokesperson for the House GOP establishment on all things related to the military and foreign policy "look like a fool."
Even for a conservative, that's a pretty disrespectful thing to say to a veteran who risked his life fighting Islamic extremists.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fascism Made in the USA: The Night Nazis Fought on the Streets of New York City

by Nomad

1939 Bund Party Rally NYCThe United States has had its share of fascist groups that have come and gone. One of those was the American Nazi Party, the Bund Party. Here's the story of its 1939 rally and how it led to its collapse. 

A "Pro-American" Rally

On The night of 20 February 1939, something occurred that became an interesting footnote in American history. Today it is mostly a forgotten bit of the history of New York City. And for many, it could be a period they would rather not recall.

That evening, Madison Square Garden was the venue for the American- German Bund party Washington's Day celebration, hosted by American-German Bund party. 
You may not be familiar with the Bund party, it was better known as the American Nazi party. 
Advertised as a "Pro-American Rally" it was attended by somewhere between 17,000 and 22,000. It was one of the largest gatherings of American Nazis of its time.

From the photographs of the event, there were the usual Nazi rally fixtures, flags, the swastikas, and uniforms. In order to establish its brand as true blue American, a forty-foot portrait of George Washington graced the stage. That was more than just window dressing. The organization had declared that Washington was "the first Fascist" who did not believe democracy would work. 

The meeting opened with a salute to the flag and the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner." (It was to end with the Nazi anthem, however.)

Race to the Bottom: Trump's Minimum Wage Cuts and the Competitive Hoax

by Nomad

Ever imagine a day would come in America when a candidate for president would tell voters that the lowest wage was too good for them. The moment came in the last Republican debate.

At the last Republican debates, we heard GOP candidate Donald Trump trying to explain why he was against an increase in the minimum wage. Trump told the audience that that wages are “too high” in the United States. 
A lot of audacious things come out of the mouth of The Donald, but, coming from a one of the wealthiest candidates in US history, this remark had to be the hardest to hear for people making the lowest wage in the country.

Trump's Tactical Blunder

In response to a question about the New York decision to raise the minimum wage for certain workers to $15 an hour, he said
“Taxes too high, wages too high. We’re not going to be able to compete against the world.”
Cutting wages may have been something Republicans often implied but never dared to say outright. For good reason. For a lot working men and women, a remark like that puts you smack dab in the category of the oligarchical class.
The following day, Trump remained adamant in his declaration and insisted he had nothing to retract.

Almost immediately Trump's foes- a group not limited to the left- jumped on the remark, calling it a colossal blunder. Not in terms of  economic policy. If it were left to conservatives, wages would decrease, and there are probably plenty of CEOs out there who dream of wages dropped to zero. 

After all, nobody seemed to mind the fact that for most workers, wages have remained stagnant for the last two decades. Everything else, like food and housing costs, retail prices and medical costs, all these have soared.

So, few commentators on the Right considered Trump actually be wrong but only that his remark was a tactical misstep. You can think it, you can hint at it, and you can camouflage it with trickle-down redux but if you want to get elected, you sure as hell shouldn't say it. 

It showed, his critics said, a lack of understanding of where his core support originates. The angry working class.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Malcolm X on Listening to the Media

by Nomad

Malcolm X

Closing Mosques: Trump Exposes The Right Wing's Hypocrisy on Religious Liberty

by Nomad

Well, I suppose we ought to be thankful to Donald Trump. Whether it's intentional or not, nobody has done more to expose the abject hypocrisy of so many of the position of the Republican Party than The Donald. 
The tragi-comedic aspect of it all is how so few conservatives actually notice it when the hypocrisy is on full display.

As we all witnessed with the Paris attacks, there is no tragedy too horrific that Republican wouldn't dare to make political use of. While this habit might offend and shock our allies around the world, Americans have become unshockable and somewhat desensitized to it. The rest of the world might call it "shameless" but jaded Americans now just say, "what else is new?"

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, an opportunist to the core, is certainly no exception. Take the outrageous remark he made  the other day about closing mosques. In order to stop radical Islam, the US government may be forced to close mosques.
He wasn't specific whether he meant particular mosques or all mosques. (A statement like that really demands clarification too.)

In an interview on Fox News  Trump was asked about his earlier statement, Trump refused to back down an inch
"Nobody wants to say this and nobody wants to shut down religious institutions or anything, but you know, you understand it. A lot of people understand it. We’re going to have no choice."
It was, he implied, the only effective way to protect America from attacks like the one we saw on Friday which left 130 Parisians dead. 
Hannity did not seem to think there was anything extraordinary in the suggestion.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Syria and ISIS: A Five Minute History of How We Got to This Point

by Nomad

Information is our best defense. Here's a fairly good video that answers the question: How on earth did the world let ISIS happen?

If you have been struggling to make sense of the terror group, ISIS, it's really not your fault. Firstly, it's a complicated situation, with a lot of actors on the stage. Also, the news media in the US has done a pretty lousy job in trying to explain things to those of us who may have a limited understanding of the region and the events that led up to where we are now.

Here's a very helpful video clip which goes a long way in explaining things. It's important that you take a moment to watch because information is your best defense against panic and paranoia. Will this answer all your questions? No, but it is enlightening. And with the information in this clip, you will probably know enough to spot a lie when you hear it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Between Victims and Heroes: Searching for Those Things that Unite Us

by Nomad

In the aftermath of two terrorist attacks, one in Beirut and another in Paris a day later, we must take a moment for reflection, not about our differences, but about the things that unite us. 

For the last few days, the world's attention has been fixated on the coordinated attacks in Paris on Friday which left 129 dead and 352 injured. What should have been the pleasant start of a weekend, a warm autumn evening turned out to be a stage for nothing short of a blood bath and a city under siege.

A Vain Search for Answers
In every respect, it was a senseless act and yet the human mind tries in vain to make sense of it. How could it happen and why?
What kind of evil could transform a convivial scene at an outdoor cafe, with crowds of people enjoying the company of friends into a war zone massacre with bodies strewn on the streets and sidewalks?

How could this happen? To what purpose? Who actually benefited by the murder of 23-year-old Hugo Sarrade, who was enjoying a night out at a Bataclan concert? 
How did the vicious slaughter of Mathieu Hoche, Quentin Boulanger, 29, or Marie Lausch, 23, and her boyfriend, Mathias Dymarski, 22, truly further any political cause? 

These were not martyred for a great cause. These were not crusaders for their religion. And they certainly were not soldiers defending their nation. 
They were, in fact, not representatives of anything more than themselves. They were targeted simply because, like the victims on the beach attack in Tunisia in June, they were easy to kill en masse.

Gray Divorce: Surprising Reasons Why Divorce Rates for the 50+ Crowd have Doubled

by Nomad

Research by sociologists and psychologists reveal some interesting information on the rise in the so-called gray divorce rate.

Even though the average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is 8 years. the divorce rate among people 50 and older has doubled in the past 20 years. That's according to research by Bowling Green State University

That study found that while divorce rates have generally stabilized and even inched downward, the divorce rate among people 50 and older has doubled since 1990. 
In 1990, 1 in 10 persons who divorced was 50 or older. By 2011, according to the census’s American Community Survey, more than 28 percent (more than 1 in 4) who said they divorced in the previous 12 months were 50 or older.
One reason for this could just be because, for many couples in this particular age group, the concept of the roles of a husband and a wife are not really conducive to marital bliss. 

Rutgers University conducted a study of more than 700 couples who have remained together on average 39 years and what they found was interesting. There were vast emotional differences in how men and women cope with problems in a marriage.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

About Embedding Nomadic Politics Content on Your Website

by Nomad

Often I have been asked whether a Nomadic Politics article can be used as content for another website. That's a great idea. However, copying the entire page is my least favorable choice. Appropriating other people's work entirely is not really a good practice.

On the other hand, a simple hyperlink may not be suitable in terms of  providing the kind of content you are looking for. I have been looking for some kind of compromise. 
So here's a different approach that I recommend.  

At the bottom of each post, you will see a button, Embedly. If you can't find it, consult the image below. It's a pretty cool way of adding content to your site.

Click on the button at the bottom of whatever article you'd like to feature at your site. You will then be provided a handy snippet with a photo (when available). From that, an HTML code can be obtained and you can add this to your site.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Privatization of Social Security: What Kind of Security is That?

by Nomad

When it comes to Social Security, the differences between the two parties could hardly be more clear.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

If You Think Your Religious Liberties Are Being Violated, Think Again

by Nomad

Freedom of religion is a fundamental principle of the United States. However, there seems to be a lot of intentional and unintentional confusion about what is a violation of religious liberties. Here's a helpful guide. 

(this guide wa produced by The Rev. Emily C. Heath is a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister.) 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Dismal State of State Level Corruption: Why You Should be Furious

by Nomad

If you thought your government was corrupt, you are absolutely correct, according to a new study. However, that corruption is very likely to be closer to you than Washington D.C.

One look at the recently released report by the Center for Public Integrity reveals in painful detail that when it comes to corrupt practices in legislatures, the situation is a big fat mess.

The goal of the research was to study and rank the levels of corruption in all 50 states "based on systems in place to prevent and expose governmental inpropriety. The results were much more disappointed than even the most cynical citizen would have thought.
The comprehensive probe found that in state after state, open records laws are laced with exemptions and part-time legislators and agency officials engage in glaring conflicts of interests and cozy relationships with lobbyists. Meanwhile, feckless, understaffed watchdogs struggle to enforce laws as porous as honeycombs.

Monday, November 9, 2015

President Obama on Giving a Sense of Hope and Vision

by Nomad

The Pathology Party: Carson's Habitual Lying and Trump's Narcissism

by Nomad

Accusing your political rival of a mental illness, especially a violent one, is a bold step, but such an attack- regardless of how true or untrue- can also backfire.

Republican candidate Donald Trump recently went into psychologist mode in an interview Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor." His patient was none other than his rival in the 2016 presidential race: Dr. Ben Carson.
Trump's free diagnosis really didn't have anything to do with medical compassion.

Trump- who until now has been a strong believer in public opinion polls- has seen his numbers on the decline while Carson's rise. 
As of the end of the last month, a national poll released Tuesday morning from CBS News and The New York Times announced that Carson had become the top-ranked contender for the Republican presidential nomination. Carson now has the support of 26 percent of Republican primary voters, four percentage points ahead of Donald Trump.
Now, Trump says polls don't matter so much. 
Privately he was ready to give Carson a political flying bodyslam.
Speaking to host Bill O'Reilly, Trump went after Carson's violent childhood, accusing him of having a mental problem that he might not be able to bounce back from. "When you suffer from pathological disease, you’re not really getting better unless you start taking pills and things," Trump said of Carson.
The only pills Carson admits to taking are quack cancer cures that have an embarrassing tendency to produce flatulence. Not a particularly welcome special effect for a candidate. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Truth behind Ben Carson's Candidacy: Why Winning May Not Be his Goal

by Nomad

Many have scoffed at Dr. Ben Carson's campaign. Some have wondered if he isn't mentally unstable.
But only a few have questioned whether he is actually running for office.

Writing for the Daily Intelligencer, Jonathan Chait, may be on to something. In a recent article, he asks the question:
Is Republican Candidate Ben Carson actually running for office?

Strange question, you might say, but the possible answer might surprise you. Carson's got a plan. 

An Ice Cube's Chance in Hell

Let's face the facts about Carson and the GOP. Carson hasn't an ice cube's chance in hell of ever possibly winning his party's nomination. 

The Republican Party has, since the days of Nixon, devoted so much energy wooing the Southern bigot vote. Critics of the GOP have long cited racist elements in the party. 
So, the very idea that, after eight years of unreasonable obstruction for America's black president, the Republican party would ever in a million years nominate a black candidate is mind-bogglingly ridiculous. 
Even the most qualified black candidate would never have a chance.
And Carson is far from being the best qualified.