Natural Born Killers?

“Confessions of a Drone Warrior,” is one of hundreds of articles on the military’s use of Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAV), which began in the early 2000s. In many ways this new form of combat embodies the psychological distancing that typifies killing in the twenty-first century. The story about Airman First Class Brandon Bryant recounts his first day in a Nevada bunker, when the 22-year fired on two presumed Afghani insurgents on the other side of the world. An early recruit in this new kind of warfare, Bryant “hunted top terrorists, but always from afar” –– killing enemies in countless numbers, but not always sure what he was hitting. “Meet the 21stcentury American killing machine,” the story concluded.[i]

Of course, notions of aversion to fighting don’t sit well with either military doctrine or public belief. Behind America’s infatuation with high-tech weapons lie long-cultivated attitudes toward violence itself. In a class I teach on this, students often will express common sense views that fighting is “natural,” deriving from humanity’s animalistic origins, and often the only way of resolving conflicts. One sees this kind of thinking evident in permissive attitudes toward everything from boyish rough-housing to violent sports. The gendered aspects of violence receive less attention than they should, and will be addressed at length in Chapter 9. Suffice to say that aggression often is expected of men and boys, while also reflected in popular culture. Along with political partisanship, these attitudes help explain the deep divisions within the U.S. electorate over gun control and so-called “stand your ground” laws. Since even scholars often disagree over the issue of human violence, it helps to break the question into subcategories –– and to also point out how knowledge has changed over time in the fields of biology, psychology, and cultural analyses of violent behavior.

Continue reading “Natural Born Killers?”

US population growth continues to drop

US population growth has slowed to levels not seen since the Great Depression, images-1according to data released this week by the US census bureau.

The US population was expected to grow just 0.7% in 2013, to arrive at 317,297,938 people on New Year’s Day 2014. That rate was down from 0.73% in 2010-2011 and much lower than the 1.2% growth rate of the 1990s, a decade of economic expansion.

The United States has not seen such slow growth since the Depression era of 1933-1937, according to William Frey, a demographics expert and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Up until 2008, really we didn’t see those growth rates change much,” Frey said. “This sharp bump that we’ve seen in the last few years does suggest that the economy has a lot to do with it.” But average annual growth, Frey said, is a “fairly crude measure” that can miss the underlying influence of immigration laws and changing cultural and social mores.

“In the Great Depression era, migration laws were stricter in the late teens and early to mid-20s,” he said. “You had lower fertility rates as well, with the very dire circumstances” of many families. From 1932-1933, population growth settled at 0.59%, creeping to 0.60% in 1937, according to census bureau figures. Declining unemployment and other recent signs of economic life have yet to register on the population scales. Real GDP growth picked up in 2011 after declining sharply in the first decade of the new millennium, from nearly 1% a year in 2000 to just more than 0.3% in 2010. Continue reading “US population growth continues to drop”

Police profiling of transgender Americans

The modern gay rights movement was born on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, on Christopher Street in New York City’s West Village, writes Jordan Flaherty in the first of a three-part series in Al Jazeera.

“Resistance broke out in response to a violent police raid against the gay community, and riots continued for several days. Many of the key leaders were transgender women, such as Sylvia Rivera, who had started her activism during the 1950s civil rights movement and continued until her death in 2002.

More than 40 years later, correspondent Christof Putzel and I returned to Christopher Street and found that even in a place long considered a haven for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, many LGBT individuals are still living in fear of police violence.

Mitchyll Mora, a young activist, said police had harassed him for dressing feminine, and his friends for not fitting into narrow gender roles.

“Christopher Street is a historic location, and it’s always been a haven for queer folks, especially young folks of color. But with gentrification, there’s been aggressive policing here, and that’s a really scary thing,” Moratold us. “It’s scary when safe spaces are taken away from us.”

It’s not just in New York City. A 2012 study [PDF] by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that transgender people across the U.S. experience three times as much police violence as non-transgender individuals. Those numbers are even higher for transgender people of color. Even when transgender people were the victims of hate crimes, 48 percent reported receiving mistreatment from the police when they went for help. Andrea Ritchie, an attorney specializing in police misconduct, told us that law enforcement sees policing gender roles as part of their work.

“I think most people are familiar with racial profiling,” she told us. “But I think people are less familiar with how gender is really central to policing in the United States. That includes expectations in terms of how women are supposed to look, how men are supposed to look, how women are supposed to act and how men are supposed to act.” Continue reading “Police profiling of transgender Americans”

Shutting down mental health care

In recent days the news has been filled with reports of shutdown related injustices to families of fallen U.S. soldiers, patients in government cancer treatment programs, students reliant on federal aid. As Forbes Magazine reports, mental health care is also taking a hit.

“In the months leading up to World Mental Health Day, DC has been shaken by a series of violent events that ended with innocent lives lost and our country’s mental health services called into question. imgresDuring this same time period, Washington, DC has been consumed by a government shutdown, with lawmakers and policymakers trying to determine how to rein in our country’s financial burdens and overspending. Unfortunately, as federal and state governments look to cut budgets at every turn, mental and behavioral health services are often on the chopping block first. Financial cuts, compounded with US stigma often applied to mental health troubles and disparate access to services across the county, mean that those who need services most are often those left without proper care.

“August though October brought DC into the spotlight for many reasons, the saddest of which is the violence that was covered by mass media as two shootings occurred. In one case, Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old, perpetrated a mass shooting that left 12 people dead, in Washington’s Navy Yard. Previous to the shooting, it was reported that Mr. Alexis was treated at the VA for mental health issues including sleep disorders and paranoia, but had not lost clearance.

“Miriam Carey, also 34, reportedly had an unhealthy obsession with the White House when she drove her car into the White House gates and led police on a chase around DC before being killed. Although she had no reported psychosis or supposed violent intent, it was noted in the months leading up to the incident she believed that the President had been stalking her and might have suffered from postpartum depression. When killed by authorities on Pennsylvania Avenue, she had her 18-month-old child in the car.”

“Although societal stigma and knowledge of where to access behavioral and mental services are often barriers to care, budget cuts continue to make seeking care more difficult. Whether this be through decreases in available services, lack of providers due to poor reimbursements or less preventative actions in communities, the impact of mental health funding shortages is great. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “increasingly, emergency rooms, homeless shelters and jails are struggling with the effects of people falling through the cracks due to lack of needed mental health services and supports.” Continue reading “Shutting down mental health care”

China begins using drones

In building drones that kill people, the U.S. has a couple-decade head start on China.

But when it comes to domestic uses, U.S. businesses are hamstrung because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) isn’t required to issue commercial drone rules until 2015. The Atlantic carries a story about this:

“One of China’s biggest delivery companies is tinkering with using drones—with Chinese government permission. SF Express is testing a drone it has built for delivering packages to remote areas, according to Chinese media reports. The drone can hit an maximum altitude of 328 feet and deliver parcels within two meters of its target. It’s not clear what sort of weight these puppies can handle, but Beijing journalists calculated that it probably can’t carry more than 6.6 pounds.

T”he news broke yesterday morning, after a Sina Weibo user noticed what looked like a UFO hovering above a street in Dongguang, in southern China, and after noticing a SF Express logo, posted images online. In July, a Shanghai bakery launched aerial cake delivery—or “pie in the sky,” as the Telegraph put it (video below). However, as an anonymous government official told the Shanghai Daily at the time, businesses that want to use drones must be granted approval from the local civil aviation authorities first. The bakers forgot to do that, apparently. However, the Dongguan police said that, except during certain sensitive times, commercial operators who receive permission from the civil aviation regulator and air traffic control are allowed to fly drones. SF Express says it’s strictly complying with the policies.

“Drone delivery undoubtedly has a certain appeal to the Chinese authorities, who are increasingly struggling to control both traffic and pollution in China’s major cities. On top of that, e-commerce is growing much faster than delivery infrastructure in rural and mountainous parts of China, such that logistics systems are emerging as a big area of investment. In fact, a consortium including CITIC Capital took a 25 percent stake in SF Express in late August. Continue reading “China begins using drones”

Racial divide persists in U.S.

Once upon a time, millions of people seemed to believe that electing Barack Obama president would automatically improve race relations in America, reports today’s Daily Beast.images-1

“Jason Wilhite, an African-American from Charleston, S.C., was one of them. “I did a jig around the house I was so happy,” Wilhite says. “I thought Americans really had made progress in how they viewed black people as a whole.” His assessment now? “Man, did I read that wrong.”

“Wilhite isn’t alone. Nearly four years into the Age of Obama, many Americans are coming to the conclusion that choosing a black man as commander in chief has done little to speed up racial progress or soothe racial tensions. In fact, some even suspect that Obama’s presence in the Oval Office may be slowing us down—and pushing us farther apart.

A new Newsweek poll puts this remarkable shift in stark relief for the first time. Back in 2008, 52 percent of Americans told Pew Research Center that they expected race relations to get better as a result of Obama’s election; only 9 percent anticipated a decline. But today that 43-point gap has vanished. According to the Newsweek survey, only 32 percent of Americans now think that race relations have improved since the president’s inauguration; roughly the same number (30 percent) believe they have gotten worse. Factor in those who say nothing has changed and the result is staggering: nearly 60 percent of Americans are now convinced that race relations have either deteriorated or stagnated under Obama. Continue reading “Racial divide persists in U.S.”

U.S. leads world in income inequity

Wealth data is not easy to get.

Still for three years now, Credit Suisse Research Institute has published an annual Global Wealth Databook which attempts to estimate global wealth holdings.

As posted today in Sociological Images: “The most recent issue includes data covering 2012.  According to Credit Suisse, the goal “is to provide the best available estimates of the wealth holdings of households around the world for the period since the year 2000.”

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“According to the publication, global household wealth was $222.7 trillion in mid-2012, equal to $48,500 for each of the 4.6 billion adults in the world.  Wealth is defined as “the marketable value of financial assets plus non-financial assets (principally housing and land) less debts.”

“Not surprisingly, average global wealth varies considerably across countries and regions. Continue reading “U.S. leads world in income inequity”

U.S. grad programs depend on foreign students

A new report confirms the reliance of certain grad programs on high fees paid by foreign students.

According to InsideHigherEd, “International students play a critical role in sustaining quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate programs at U.S. universities, a new report from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) argues.imgres-1

“It will come as no surprise to observers of graduate education that the report documents the fact that foreign students make up the majority of enrollments in U.S. graduate programs in many STEM fields, accounting for 70.3 percent of all full-time graduate students in electrical engineering, 63.2 percent in computer science, 60.4 percent in industrial engineering, and more than 50 percent in chemical, materials and mechanical engineering, as well as in economics (a non-STEM field). However, the report, which analyzes National Science Foundation enrollment data from 2010 by field and institution, also shows that these striking averages mask even higher proportions at many individual universities. For example, there are 36 graduate programs in electrical engineering where the proportion of international students exceeds 80 percent, including seven where it exceeds 90. (The analysis is limited to those programs with at least 30 full-time students.)

“International students help many universities have enough graduate students to support research programs that help attract top faculty and that also thereby help U.S. students by having a higher-quality program than they otherwise would have,” said Stuart Anderson, NFAP’s executive director and author of the report. Without them, he said, “you’d see a shrinking across the board where you’d have just certain schools that are able to support good programs. That would lead to a shrinking of U.S. leadership in education and technology if you have many fewer programs with high-quality research and top-level professors.”

“To some extent this reflects some of what’s going on in our society within the U.S. in terms of trying to push for more interest in STEM fields,” said Jonathan Bredow, professor and chair of the electrical engineering department at the University of Texas at Arlington, a program with more than 90 percent international enrollment.  “Domestic students tend to be more interested in going out and getting a job right after a bachelor’s degree. Some see a value of getting a master’s degree but in terms of the Ph.D., I think it’s largely seen as unnecessary.”

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/07/12/new-report-shows-dependence-us-graduate-programs-foreign-students#ixzz2Z5G3NCoB
Inside Higher Ed

Asian American segregation

Asians, the fastest-growing, highest-earning and best-educated race in the U.S., are almost as segregated from the nation’s white majority as they were two decades ago, according to a study released today, reports today’s Bloomberg Newsimages-1

“Specific Asian ancestries — including two of the largest, Chinese and Indians — are as isolated from the white population as Hispanics, according to the study by two Brown University sociologists. At the same time, Asians generally live in neighborhoods that are comparable — and in some ways “markedly better” — than those of whites, the study said.

“The Asian pattern is separate but equal (or even more than equal), raising questions about the prospect or value of their residential assimilation in the future,” wrote John Logan, who co-authored the report.

“The number of Asians in the U.S. surged 43.3 percent during the last decade, about four times faster than white population growth, to more than 17 million. Their ranks have more than doubled since 1990. Median household income has risen 2.3 percent to $70,815 for Asians since 2000 while white Americans have suffered a 1.1 percent drop.

“When viewed as a single race, Asians are less segregated than Hispanics or blacks. When Asians are divided into major ancestries, “they’re more segregated than we thought they were,” Logan wrote. Cultural values and the fact that a majority of Asians are immigrants are the likeliest reasons for their segregation, he said. While most immigrant groups assimilate over time, Logan said Japanese are the only Asian ancestral group that isn’t as segregated as the broader racial category. “There may be no motivation for spatial assimilation of these immigrant groups, that the current residential enclaves fully meet their needs in a way that could become self-reinforcing,” the authors wrote.

“The bulk of the nation’s Asian population consists of six ancestries with 1 million or more people each: Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese, Filipino and Vietnamese. All except Japanese are made up of a majority of immigrants. While Asians are the nation’s third-largest minority group, they’re concentrated heavily in three states. California accounts for 5.6 million of them, almost one-third of the nation’s Asian population. New York has 1.6 million, and Texas claims 1.1 million. Among U.S. metropolitan areas, New York and Los Angeles have the greatest numbers of Asians. New York’s Asian population consists primarily of Chinese and Indians; Los Angeles has a larger percentage of Filipinos, Japanese and Koreans. Texas leads the nation in its share of Vietnamese.”

 

More at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-26/asians-in-thriving-enclaves-keep-distance-from-whites.html

Gender driven global economics

No less an entity than the US State Department today announced a new initiative to approach world economic growth from the perspective of gender.imgres

As the State Department press release reads: “Growth – the most pressing issue on the agenda of every economic policy-maker in the world today. How do we get it? How do we sustain it? How do we make it inclusive? How do we ensure it generates jobs? Infrastructure investment, eliminating trade barriers, investment in education and research, fostering entrepreneurship, better tax policy – there may be no silver bullet, but we should explore all possible means of raising growth and perhaps the solution is right in front of us. Recent studies suggest that if OECD countries saw full convergence of men and women in our labor force, these countries would benefit from an overall increase of 12% in GDP over the next 20 years. Now the question is: how do we get there?

“Gender and its relevance to macroeconomic policy is a relatively new field. And while work has been done on the data and analysis front in recent years, the topic is still in its early days. Tackling gender in the field of human rights and development dates back decades. Good data and analysis led to mainstreaming policy at places like the UN, the World Bank and the Regional Development Banks, the State Department and USAID, as with many donor governments around the world. This provides the IMF with a tremendous opportunity to do the same exercise when it provides economic assessments of countries around the world. The IMF has ramped up in recent years dialogue with member countries on issues like inclusive growth and labor markets, and more and more research is pointing to women as key to economic growth. To the extent that the IMF can “mainstream” gender might prove decisive to getting us there. IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde says:”More women at work means good news for the global economy” – I couldn’t agree more.

“The IMF is pushing forward the gender driven growth agenda in an important economy right now: Japan. Japan’s last Article IV assessment highlighted the need to increase women’s participation in labor markets to stem demographic decline and drive future growth. Christine Lagarde personally advocates on this issue. Full integration of women in the Japanese economy is now gaining attention at the top level of government. Prime Minister Abe, who campaigned on increasing women’s participation in Japan’s economy to drive future growth, has claimed “women are Japan’s most underutilized resource.” Prime Minister Abe has rightfully placed the issue of improving women’s participation in the economy as a growth imperative squarely on top of the policy agenda, the third arrow of “Abenomics”.

 

Full story at: http://www.state.gov/e/oce/rls/2013/211088.htm

Hillary still favored for 2016, but….

Hillary Clinton still leads the field of contenders from both parties for the U.S. presidency in 2016, but her lead is softening. As FiveThirtyEight reports “The controversies surrounding the I.R.S.’s targeting of conservative groups and the executive branch’s handling of last year’s attacks in Benghazi, Libya, have yet to have much impact on President Obama’s approval ratings (although some slight decline may be hidden by an improved economic mood). But Mr. Obama’s former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, appears to be have been more affected.images

“A Quinnipiac University poll released on Friday found Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating declining to 52 percent, from 61 percent in February. The decrease was considerably more modest in a CNN poll released earlier this month, with Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating decreasing to 61 percent from 63 percent in March. Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton’s favorability scores had hovered in the mid-60s for much of the past two years — and those lofty ratings appear to be a thing of the past. So, are Americans carefully parsing through the details of the Benghazi attack — and finding Mrs. Clinton more culpable than Mr. Obama?

“It’s easy to be popular when nobody is criticizing you — and there was a long period, from the closing stages of the 2008 campaign through most of her tenure as secretary of state, when Republicans had little interest in attacking Mrs. Clinton directly. Now that Republicans have chosen to engage her again, her numbers are coming down. The largest decline in her ratings, as Ed Kilgore noted, has come from Republican voters, with a more modest decline among independents and almost none at all among Democrats. This is what happens when a politician returns to being in the partisan fray after having drifted above it for some time.

But if Mrs. Clinton were to run for president in 2016, Republicans would undoubtedly have found any number of other ways to criticize her — from her policy proposals, to concerns about her age or health, to gaffes that she might make on the campaign trail, to controversies recycled from her tenure as secretary of state.”

 

More at: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/predictable-decline-in-hillary-clintons-popularity/

The nameless war

For well over a decade now the United States has been “a nation at war.” Does that war have a name? This question is posed in today’s edition of Le Monde: “It did at the outset. After 9/11, George W. Bush’s administrationimages-2

wasted no time in announcing that the U.S. was engaged in a Global War on Terrorism, or GWOT. With few dissenters, the media quickly embraced the term. The GWOT promised to be a gargantuan, transformative enterprise. The conflict begun on 9/11 would define the age. In neoconservative circles, it was known as World War IV.

“Upon succeeding to the presidency in 2009, however, Barack Obama without fanfare junked Bush’s formulation (as he did again in a speech at the National Defense University last week). Yet if the appellation went away, the conflict itself, shorn of identifying marks, continued.

“Does it matter that ours has become and remains a nameless war? Very much so.

“Names bestow meaning. When it comes to war, a name attached to a date can shape our understanding of what the conflict was all about. To specify when a war began and when it ended is to privilege certain explanations of its significance while discrediting others. Let me provide a few illustrations. With rare exceptions, Americans today characterize the horrendous fraternal bloodletting of 1861-1865 as the Civil War. Yet not many decades ago, diehard supporters of the Lost Cause insisted on referring to that conflict as the War Between the States or the War for Southern Independence (or even the War of Northern Aggression). The South may have gone down in defeat, but the purposes for which Southerners had fought — preserving a distinctive way of life and the principle of states’ rights — had been worthy, even noble. So at least they professed to believe, with their preferred names for the war reflecting that belief.Schoolbooks tell us that the Spanish-American War began in April 1898 and ended in August of that same year. The name and dates fit nicely with a widespread inclination from President William McKinley’s day to our own to frame U.S. intervention in Cuba as an altruistic effort to liberate that island from Spanish oppression. Continue reading “The nameless war”

Most in U.S. think government too strong

Fifty-four percent of Americans say the federal government today has too much power, reports Gallup. “Despite the recent controversies facing federal agencies such as the IRS, these views are only marginally higher than in 2012, and slightly lower than in 2010 and 2011. At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the federal government has too much power, whereas in the three years prior to that, Americans were more inclined to believe federal power was “about right.

“Americans’ views of federal power have become a renewed focal point in recent weeks with allegations that the IRS used its power to selectively audit certain types of organizations, and news reports of Justice Department imgresinvestigations into Associated Press and Fox News records and emails. It does not appear, however, that these news stories have dramatically altered Americans’ views of the federal government’s power. The 54% who now say the federal government has “too much power” is in the same general range as it has been since 2005.

“Only 8% of Americans say the federal government has “too little” power, while 36% say the government has about the right amount of power.

“As would be expected, there is a major gulf between Republicans’ and Democrats’ views on this issue. More than twice as many Republicans (76%) as Democrats (32%) say the government has too much power, with a majority of independents coming down on the same side as Republicans.”

 

More at: http://www.gallup.com/poll/162779/views-gov-powerful-little-changed.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication

One quarter in U.S. struggle to afford food

A new Pew Research report on emerging economies finds that almost a quarter of Americans have trouble affording food. “This reported level of deprivation is closer to that in Indonesia or Greece rather than Britain or Canada,” the report says.

Why is this the case?

Quartz reports that “according to numbers from the USDA, the moderate costs to healthfully feed a family of four a week costs $191, including meals and snacks, up 38% from 10 years ago. Food inflation was about 5% last year after a drought led to an increase in corn, wheat, and soybean prices, which in turned raised the price of chicken, pork, and beef. With continued unpredictability in weather affecting crops and higher demand from a growing population, it’s likely that food prices will only continue to rise.images

“But the US has the worst income inequality among developed economies; 15% of the population uses food stamps. As economist, Joseph Stiglitz has argued, the income inequality in the US is not only holding back a recovery but also setting up the nation for future economic instability.

“The technorati is busy brewing up a single-source omnifood, the FAO has been urging people for years to eat insects, and NASA wants astronauts to eat 3D-printed food. But here on earth, an estimated 40% of the food produced in the US is wasted.”

 

More at: http://qz.com/87761/almost-a-quarter-of-americans-struggle-to-afford-food/

Central American immigration to U.S. doubles

William Ordonez and his wife, Carolia, thought that starting a new business in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, was a great idea, reports NPRimages-3

“But just two weeks after they started selling chips, candy and soda, gang members showed up and ordered them to pay about $25 a week.”We tried explaining to them that we just opened, we aren’t making that much, we can’t pay you,” Ordonez says.

“The men didn’t care, so Ordonez went to the police. He says instead of helping, the police told the gang that Ordonez and his wife had complained. The next day, there was a note on the small store door that said: “We are going to kill you.” “The first thing we thought to do was to save our lives … we took off,” he says. Ordonez, his father, his wife and their 7-year-old-son all headed north. After a month of traveling hidden in the back of pickup trucks, in small boats and on the top of trains, the family made it to a small refugee center in a poor neighborhood in Mexico City. Continue reading “Central American immigration to U.S. doubles”

Chinese tourists lead the world

The United States is ranked as the world’s biggest economy and the world’s largest military spender. But Chinese people lead the world in global tourist spending. Asia times reports that:images-2

“China, which has outranked Japan as the world’s second-largest economy and moved ahead of Russia as the world’s second-largest military spender, has hit the top spot in global tourism.

“Chinese tourists spent US$102 billion during their travels in 2012, more than any other nationality, making the Asian nation the world’s number one tourism source market, according to a report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

“Asked if China will be able to hold on to the number one ranking inyears ahead, Lakshman Ratnapala, chair of Enelar International, San Francisco, and emeritus president and chief executive officer of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), told IPS, ”Yes, the primary reason being the continuing growth of the Chinese middle class.”  Continue reading “Chinese tourists lead the world”

Majority favor wealth redistribution

About six in 10 Americans believe that money and wealth should be more evenly distributed among a larger percentage of the people in the U.S., while one-third think the current distribution is fair, reports the Gallup Organization today.images-1

“Although Americans’ attitudes on this topic have fluctuated somewhat over time, the current sentiment is virtually the same as when Gallup first asked this question in 1984. Slightly fewer have favored a more even distribution since October 2008.

“The range in the percentage saying wealth should be “more evenly distributed” has been relatively narrow over time, from a low of 56% in 2000 to a high of 68% in April 2008.

“Gallup has asked the question at least once during the administration of three Republican presidents — Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush — and two Democrats, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. But there is no generally consistent pattern across these administrations. For example, the slightly lower percentage favoring a more even distribution during the Obama administration started in the final year of George W. Bush’s administration — after the onset of the financial crisis. Continue reading “Majority favor wealth redistribution”

The drumbeat of cyberwar

imagesThe White House has said it will step up diplomatic pressure overcybercrime and intellectual property theft from US businesses and security interests, in an announcement that indirectly cast China as one of the biggest perpetrators, reports today’s edition of The Guardian.

“The US attorney general, Eric Holder, said the plan included working with like-minded governments to tackle offenders using trade restrictions and criminal prosecutions. There would be a 120-day review to see whether new US legislation is needed.

“A hacker in China can acquire source code from a software company in Virginia without leaving his or her desk,” Holder said. Continue reading “The drumbeat of cyberwar”

The other sin of the American South

imgres-2Contemporary American politics cannot be understood apart from the North-South divide in the U.S., as I and others have argued, writes Michael Lind in today’s Salon Magazine.   “Neither can contemporary American economic debates.  The real choice facing America in the 21st century is the same one that faced it in the 19th and 20th centuries — Northernomics or Southernomics?

“Northernomics is the high-road strategy of building a flourishing national economy by means of government-business cooperation and government investment in R&D, infrastructure and education.  Continue reading “The other sin of the American South”

Who cares about Saturday mail delivery?

Blame it on  Amazon.com.

In an age when hard-copy mail seems out of date, people under 30 are the biggest protesters to canceling Saturday mail deliveries in the U.S.  It seems getting those one-day package deliveries must be habit-forming. African-Americans of all ages don’t like the idea either. But it seems older white people just don’t care much either way, as Pew reports from its most recent survey:

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“A majority of Americans (54%) approve of the U.S. Postal Service’s recent decision to halt Saturday delivery of letters, while 32% disapprove of the decision. The planned end of Saturday mail delivery is a rare government decision that garners bipartisan support – 58% of independents approve of the action, as do 57% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats. Continue reading “Who cares about Saturday mail delivery?”