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David Simon: 'There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show'

David Simon: 'There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show'
America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. There's no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. I think we've perfected a lot of the tragedy and we're getting there faster than a lot of other places that may be a little more reasoned, but my dangerous idea kind of involves this fellow who got left by the wayside in the 20th century and seemed to be almost the butt end of the joke of the 20th century; a fellow named Karl Marx. I'm not a Marxist in the sense that I don't think Marxism has a very specific clinical answer to what ails us economically. We understand profit. Related:  Government And Social StuffIn TheoryOp-Eds & Articles

How Corporate America Invented Christian America In December 1940, as America was emerging from the Great Depression, more than 5,000 industrialists from across the nation made their yearly pilgrimage to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, convening for the annual meeting of the National Association of Manufacturers. The program promised an impressive slate of speakers: titans at General Motors, General Electric, Standard Oil, Mutual Life, and Sears, Roebuck; popular lecturers such as etiquette expert Emily Post and renowned philosopher-historian Will Durant; even FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Tucked away near the end of the program was a name few knew initially, but one everyone would be talking about by the convention’s end: Reverend James W. Handsome, tall, and somewhat gangly, the 41-year-old Congregationalist minister bore more than a passing resemblance to Jimmy Stewart. It all sounds familiar enough today, but Fifield’s audience of executives was stunned. They just needed to do one thing: Get religion.

Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out | George Monbiot That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (and highlighted by the Guardian last week) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches, a youth posing in front of his helicopter, endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools and spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse: something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing. The pictures are, of course, intended to incite envy. They reek instead of desperation. The young men and women seem lost in their designer clothes, dwarfed and dehumanised by their possessions, as if ownership has gone into reverse. Perhaps I'm projecting my prejudices. These studies, while suggestive, demonstrate only correlation.

WikiLeaks, Press Freedom and Free Expression in the Digital Age | Pierre Omidyar This week, fourteen people charged by the Department of Justice in connection with a coordinated denial of service attack on PayPal's services in 2010 will appear in Federal Court. The "PayPal 14," as they have been dubbed, are charged with participating in an attack orchestrated by Anonymous to retaliate against PayPal's suspension of its relationship with WikiLeaks. Their case as well as PayPal's actions in 2010 raise important questions about press freedoms and the nature of online protests. As Chairman of eBay Inc., PayPal's parent company, and as a philanthropist and soon-to-be publisher deeply committed to government transparency, press freedoms and free expression, these issues hit close to home. (Since eBay is a public company, it's important for me to stress that the views in this article are my own and don't represent the views of the company.) When I learned of PayPal's decision, I immediately expressed my concerns to company management. To me, that doesn't make sense.

A Short History of White Racism in the Two-Party System | The Weekly Sift If you’ve seen the Lincoln movie, maybe you’re still walking around with this bit of cognitive dissonance: In 1864, the Democrats are the party of slavery and the Republicans the party of emancipation and racial justice. What’s up with that? How did we get from there to here? The story is doubly worth telling because Republicans like Ann Coulter and Jonah Goldberg have been misrepresenting it so grossly. A good place to start is the presidential election of 1860, which brings Lincoln to power and convinces Southern whites (the only people who can vote in the South in 1860) that secession is their best chance to maintain slavery*. Lincoln gets only 40% of the vote, but in a four-way race (the Democratic Convention split over whether the platform should endorse the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision) that’s enough to win. 1876 electoral map 1896 electoral map 2012 electoral map The “solid South” stays Democratic through 1944, when FDR carries Mississippi with 94% of the vote. Phillips writes:

Boris Johnson invokes Thatcher spirit with greed is good speech | Politics Boris Johnson has launched a bold bid to claim the mantle of Margaret Thatcher by declaring that inequality is essential to fostering "the spirit of envy" and hailed greed as a "valuable spur to economic activity". In an attempt to shore up his support on the Tory right, as he positions himself as the natural successor to David Cameron, the London mayor called for the "Gordon Gekkos of London" to display their greed to promote economic growth. Delivering the annual Margaret Thatcher lecture, Johnson also called for the return of a form of grammar schools. He qualified his unabashed admiration for the "hedge fund kings" by saying they should do more to help poorer people who have suffered a real fall in income in recent years. But he moved to forge his own brand of Conservatism, which contrasts with the early modernising of the prime minister, by claiming that it was "futile" to try to end inequality. He made clear, however, that Thatcherism needed to be updated for the 21st century.

The Campaign Against Net Metering: ALEC and Utility Interests' Next Attack on Clean Energy Surfaces in Arizona | Gabe Elsner On Thursday, the Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC), the state entity responsible for regulating utilities, voted to charge ratepayers a monthly fee of 70 cents per kilowatt of solar energy installed on their roof. Arizona Public Service (APS) had proposed charging customers who install rooftop solar panels an additional $50-100 on their monthly bills. APS is an investor-owned utility that serves over 1 million customers and generates the majority of its electricity from coal, nuclear, gas and oil. Ultimately, the ACC's accepted a compromise struck between the solar industry and the Residential Utility Consumers Office (RUCO) to charge solar system owners a much smaller fee per month. According to solar companies operating in the state, APS was attempting to "tax the sun," and APS's proposed changes would have "erase[d] the financial incentive for using solar." APS and ALEC's Assault on Arizona Net Metering APS Spent Millions on Anti-Net Metering Campaign

Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party | The Weekly Sift Tea Partiers say you don’t understand them because you don’t understand American history. That’s probably true, but not in the way they want you to think. Late in 2012, I came out of the Lincoln movie with two historical mysteries to solve: How did the two parties switch places regarding the South, white supremacy, and civil rights? The first question took some work, but yielded readily to patient googling. Who really won the Civil War? That sounded crazy until I read about Reconstruction. And oh, those blacks Lincoln emancipated? Here’s what my teachers’ should have told me: “Reconstruction was the second phase of the Civil War. It wasn’t just that Confederates wanted to continue the war. The Lost Cause. But eventually the good men of the South could take it no longer, so they formed the Ku Klux Klan to protect themselves and their communities. A still from The Birth of a Nation That telling of history is now named for its primary proponent, William Dunning. The first modern war.

American basic income: An end to poverty? Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images This post originally appeared in Business Insider. A simple idea for eliminating poverty is garnering greater attention in recent weeks: automatically have the government give every adult a basic income. The Atlantic's Matt Bruenig and Elizabeth Stoker brought up the idea a few weeks ago when they contemplated cutting poverty in half, and Annie Lowrey revisited it in today's issue of the New York Times Magazine. Real wages have been stagnant in America for decades now and income inequality has grown immensely. So here's what you need to know about it. It’s exactly how it sounds. In 2012, there were 179 million Americans between the ages of 21 and 65 (when Social Security would kick in). But a minimum income would also allow us to eliminate every government benefit as well. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to pay for it. What are the benefits of a basic income? The clear one is that no American would live below the poverty line. No.

ND spills went unreported; state testing website BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota, the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas, recorded nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in less than two years, state documents show. None was reported to the public, officials said. According to records obtained by The Associated Press, the pipeline spills — many of them small — are among some 750 "oil field incidents" that have occurred since January 2012 without public notification. "That's news to us," said Don Morrison, director of the Dakota Resource Council, an environmental-minded landowner group with more than 700 members in North Dakota. Dennis Fewless, director of water quality for the state Health Department, said regulators are reviewing the state's policies for when to publicly report such incidents after a massive spill was discovered last month in northwestern North Dakota by a wheat farmer. North Dakota regulators, like in many other oil-producing states, are not obliged to tell the public about oil spills under state law.

KOHLBERG'S STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT Lawrence Kohlberg was a moral philosopher and student of child development. He was director of Harvard's Center for Moral Education. His special area of interest is the moral development of children - how they develop a sense of right, wrong, and justice. Kohlberg observed that growing children advance through definite stages of moral development in a manner similar to their progression through Piaget's well-known stages of cognitive development. These conclusions have been verified in cross-cultural studies done in , , , , , , , , and . An outline of these developmental stages follows: FOCUS: Self AGES: Up to 10-13 years of age, most prisoners Behavior motivated by anticipation of pleasure or pain. STAGE 1: PUNISHMENT AND OBEDIENCE: Might Makes Right Avoidance of physical punishment and deference to power. response of physical retaliation. determine its goodness or badness. holocaust who were simply "carrying out orders" under threat of punishment, illustrate that others? peers. "nice." here.

Disease resistance to antibiotics at tipping point, expert warns | Society The director of the Wellcome Trust has warned that resistance of disease to antibiotics has reached a tipping point at which it could creep into the UK almost without notice. Prof Jeremy Farrar said the effects would be gradual and would be seen not just in resistant new infections but in everyday medical practice and the treatment of everything from diabetes to minor wounds at risk of turning septic. Having worked in Vietnam for the past 18 years Farrar said he had already seen firsthand resistance to drugs in the shape of tuberculosis that had spread from patients' lungs to their brain. "This is happening now," Farrar told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "This will not be the sort of contagion-like event of somebody landing from Hong Kong in London with a pneumonia that is emerging that we've all feared. "We're watching evolution happening," he said. "No government can do this on its own because this is a truly global issue," he said. "It's etched on my mind 30 years later," he said.

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