American Wealth Gap Climbs To New Record

Income inequality in the United States continues to surge, with the wealth of upper-income households rising to nearly seven times that of middle-class ones, reports the Los Angeles Times:

The wealth gap between middle- and upper-income households has widened to the highest level on record, says a new report.

Using the latest Federal Reserve data, the Pew Research Center said Wednesday that the median wealth for high-income families was $639,400 last year — up 7% from three years earlier on an inflation-adjusted basis.

For middle-income families, the median wealth — that is, assets minus debts — stood at $96,500 last year, unchanged from 2010.

The result is that the typical wealth of the nation’s upper-income households last year was nearly seven times that of middle-class ones. By Pew’s calculations, that is the biggest gap in the 30 years that the Fed has been collecting statistics from its Survey of Consumer Finances.

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Study finds that employees who are open about religion are happier

Olin Gilbert (CC BY 2.0)

Olin Gilbert (CC BY 2.0)

via Kansas State University:

MANHATTAN — It may be beneficial for employers to not only encourage office Christmas parties but also celebrate holidays and festivals from a variety of religions, according to a Kansas State University researcher.

Sooyeol Kim, doctoral student in psychological sciences, was involved in a collaborative study that found that employees who openly discuss their religious beliefs at work are often happier and have higher job satisfaction than those employees who do not.

“For many people, religion is the core of their lives,” Kim said. “Being able to express important aspects of one’s life can influence work-related issues, such as job satisfaction, work performance or engagement. It can be beneficial for organizations to have a climate that is welcoming to every religion and culture.”

Kim said employers might even want to consider a religion-friendly policy or find ways to encourage religious expression.

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Twenty-Six Wrongfully Detained, Three Tortured More

Shortly after the release of the CIA Torture Report, I discussed the new details revealed about torture techniques used by the CIA.

Today, I feel it is important to raise awareness about those that were wrongfully detained and the egregious amount of time many were detained. The report lists 26 people who were “wrongfully detained,” three of which underwent “enhanced interrogation” tactics.

The report lists 119 detainees, 39 of which were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. These 119 detainees spent an average of at least 392 days in custody, while one detainee, Abu Zubaydah, was in CIA custody for at least 1,590 days.

What exactly has any of this accomplished except creating more enemies for our country?

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North Korea, Sony, and America’s First Losing Cyberwar

The Interview 2014 poster.jpg

I’ve been hooked on the various salacious disclosures from the hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. Reading what studio executives really think of their star actors and producers is better than TMZ can make up, and the true financial performance of various movies would never, ever be disclosed outside the C-suite if not for the Pastebin uploads. The real-life plot starring North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, his supposed superhackers, Seth Rogen and the heads of Sony also reads like a sequel to The Orphan Master’s Son. But is it too good to be true? Wired pours some cold water on the fire:

Today Sony canceled the premiere of “The Interview” and its entire Christmas-Day release of the movie because of fears that terrorists might attack theaters showing the film.

The actions show just how much power the attackers behind the Sony hack have amassed in a short time. But who exactly are they?

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Torture Spreading as Its Use Is ‘Normalized’ by TV Shows like ’24’

 24 Logo

24 Logo

Travis Gettys writes at Raw Story:

Torture is rampant across the world and has become almost normalized by the “war on terror” and its glamorous portrayal in shows such as “24″ and “Homeland,” Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

The London-based human rights group is launching a new campaign aimed at ending torture, which it says remains widespread even 30 years after a blanket prohibition was agreed by the United Nations.

In the past five years, Amnesty says it has recorded incidents in 141 countries, including 79 of the 155 signatories to the 1984 UN Convention against Torture.

The global survey of 21,000 people in 21 countries also revealed a widespread dread of the practice, with 44 percent saying they feared being abused if they were taken into custody.

Yet over a third percent of the respondents said they believed torture was sometimes necessary and acceptable to gain information that may protect the public.

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“Nobody’s Story” by Charles Dickens

Hartwig HKD (CC by-nd 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC by-nd 2.0)

“Nobody’s Story”

by Charles Dickens

He lived on the bank of a mighty river, broad and deep, which was always silently rolling on to a vast undiscovered ocean. It had rolled on, ever since the world began. It had changed its course sometimes, and turned into new channels, leaving its old ways dry and barren; but it had ever been upon the flow, and ever was to flow until Time should be no more. Against its strong, unfathomable stream, nothing made head. No living creature, no flower, no leaf, no particle of animate or inanimate existence, ever strayed back from the undiscovered ocean. The tide of the river set resistlessly towards it; and the tide never stopped, any more than the earth stops in its circling round the sun.

He lived in a busy place, and he worked very hard to live. He had no hope of ever being rich enough to live a month without hard work, but he was quite content, GOD knows, to labour with a cheerful will.… Read the rest

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Should we criminalise robotic rape and robotic child sexual abuse?

Editor’s note: We want to thank John Danaher for publishing his thought provoking work under a Creative Commons License. Support him by following his blog or following him on Twitter. If you like his essays, you’ll love his Twitter account.

Also, take a look through his recent posts (either republished on Disinformation or not) and let John know which ones you liked best.

I recently published an unusual article. At least, I think it is unusual. It imagines a future in which sophisticated sex robots are used to replicate acts of rape and child sexual abuse, and then asks whether such acts should be criminalised. In the article, I try to provide a framework for evaluating the issue, but I do so in what I think is a provocative fashion. I present an argument for thinking that such acts should be criminalised, even if they have no extrinsically harmful effects on others.… Read the rest

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15 Ongoing Space Missions You Should Know About

Akatsuki via Nasa.

Akatsuki via Nasa.

via Mental Floss:

Last month, the European Space Agency (ESA) landed a robot on a comet. While the exciting news seemed to come out of nowhere, you can be forgiven for sleeping through the initial launch—it happened in 2004. Scientists and engineers at space agencies around the world play very long games. Rosetta traveled 6.4 billion kilometers before rendezvousing with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Even on the starship Enterprise, that’s well over an hour away at warp speed. This raises the question: what else is going on up there? Here are 15 ongoing space missions you might not know about.

1. AKATSUKI

2. JUNO

3. DAWN

4. NEW HORIZONS

5. ROSETTA

6. CASSINI

7. HAYABUSA 2

8. PIONEER 10 & PIONEER 11

9. VOYAGER 1

10. VOYAGER 2

11. KEPLER

12. STEREO

13. MARS ORBITER MISSION

14. VENUS EXPRESS

15. INTERNATIONAL COMET EXPLORER

To read an in-depth overview of each mission, head over to Mental Floss.… Read the rest

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Million-Mummy Cemetery Unearthed in Egypt

This image is of a child, around 18 months old, who was wrapped in a tunic and buried with a necklace and two bracelets on each arm. The jewelry makes the team think that the mummy is a girl but they cannot be sure. Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Kerry Muhlestein

This image is of a child, around 18 months old, who was wrapped in a tunic and buried with a necklace and two bracelets on each arm. The jewelry makes the team think that the mummy is a girl but they cannot be sure.
Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Kerry Muhlestein

via Live Science:

TORONTO — She’s literally one in a million.

The remains of a child, laid to rest more than 1,500 years ago when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, was found in an ancient cemetery that contains more than 1 million mummies, according to a team of archaeologists from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

The cemetery is now called Fag el-Gamous, which means “Way of the Water Buffalo,” a title that comes from the name of a nearby road. Archaeologists from Brigham Young University have been excavating Fag el-Gamous, along with a nearby pyramid, for about 30 years.

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The War on Drugs Was Born 100 Years Ago

Cannabis Culture (CC BY 2.0)

Cannabis Culture (CC BY 2.0)

via Mises Institute:

When I went to the Oxford Union debates this past summer I was told by a veteran of the debates that I must have a joke in order to win over the audience. My attempt to win over the British audience was a success, but unfortunately my opening remarks are too close to the truth and in retrospect, are really not that funny:

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for the opportunity to debate the War on Drugs in this forum. Mr. Chairman, as you probably know, the War on Drugs was not a response to calls from experts, it was not in response to recommendations from the medical community, or even the law enforcement community. Mr. Chairman, the War on Drugs was started by the agitation of racists, bigots, religious fanatics, believers in eugenics, extremist politicians, and power hungry diplomats.

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