Author Archive | majestic

Inequality in America: The Food Gap Between Rich and Poor

Wealthy people are eating better than ever, while the poor are eating worse, reports James Hamblin for The Atlantic:

Nutritional disparities between America’s rich and poor are growing, despite efforts to provide higher-quality food to people who most need it. So says a large study just released from the Harvard School of Public Health that examined eating habits of 29,124 Americans over the past decade. Diet quality has improved among people of high socioeconomic status but deteriorated among those at the other end of the spectrum. The gap between the two groups doubled between 2000 and 2010. That will be costly for everyone.

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The primary conclusion of the study is interesting, though, in that its focus is diet quality among the population as a whole. Without accounting for socioeconomic status, there has been, the study reads, “steady improvement.” People aren’t eating more vegetables, or less red or processed meat, and their salt intake increased—which the researchers call “disconcerting”—but Americans are eating more good things like whole fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and polyunsaturated fats.

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Recliner Rage

Virgin America airplane interiorHey disinfonauts, have you experienced “Recliner Rage”? Would you use a Knee Defender? And what would you do if the person sitting behind you used one on your seat? For those of you who are scratching your heads as to just what this is, here’s Politico:

Forget road rage — “recliner rage” is the hot new trend among frustrated travelers.
On Monday night, a Delta Air Lines flight from New York to Florida made an emergency landing after a dispute between passengers over reclining seats in crowded airplane cabins. It was the third flight diversion for a reclining-related altercation in nine days.

The flight, from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport to Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport, diverted to Jacksonville after a passenger who was trying to sleep on her tray table became upset when the person in front of her reclined her seat, according to Jacksonville’s WJXT.

“This woman sitting next to me knitting tried reclining her seat back, the woman behind her started screaming and swearing,” passenger Aaron Klipin told the station.

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How Misinformation Goes Viral

The subheading of this story on “misinformation” from Columbia Journalism Review is “a Truthy story,” in which David Alberti explains how “conservative media’s reaction to an Indiana University project shows how shoddy information can quickly become an online narrative”:

On August 26, Fox’s Megyn Kelly aired a four-minute segment on an Indiana University project called Truthy, declaring sarcastically, “Some bureaucrat deciding whether you are being hateful or misinforming people — what could possibly go wrong?” Fox & Friends jumped onto the bandwagon two days later. During its four-minute segment, legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. managed to squeeze in not only a comparison to Joseph McCarthy, but also a reference to George Orwell’s 1984. “Is the First Amendment going into the dumper?” he asks.

The segments can be traced to a story published on a right-wing news site the previous Monday, which spawned a conspiratorial narrative that soon metastasized throughout social media and the conservative blogosphere.

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Negativland Takes On Religion

Negativland, a longtime favorite band of many a disinfonaut, is back. Their new album (out in October, advance orders through negativland.com), IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD, finds the group tackling their biggest subject ever: why humans believe in God. Millennia-in-development, this ambitious and densely-crafted double CD is packaged inside an actual Holy Bible which has been appropriately repurposed into a “found” art object.

IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD intends to entertain, inform, and provoke. On the CDs, Negativland mixes found music, found sound, found dialogue, guest personalities and original electronic noises into a compelling and thoughtful musical essay that looks at monotheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, neuroscience, suicide bombers, 9/11, colas, war, shaved chimps, and the all-important role played by the human brain in our beliefs. Reading the attached Bible is optional. Here’s the album trailer

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British Jihadis to Undergo Forced De-Radicalization

Although the British government’s motives may be honorable, deprogramming anyone sounds scarily close to brainwashing. Breitbart has the story:

Britain’s governing coalition has agreed that potential Jihadis who return to Britain from abroad should be forced to undergo a de-radicalisation programme when they arrive back in the UK.

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Photo: Menendj (CC)

The proposal is one of a series of measures agreed by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats who form Britain’s coalition government. Also proposed is a new law to force airlines to share full passenger lists with police and security agencies, and plans to temporarily suspend to passports of UK citizens fighting for ISIS, preventing them from coming home.

According to the Sun, talks over the measures were “tense” and going on well into the night last night, ahead of the Prime Minister’s emergency statement in the House of Commons this afternoon.

The proposals come after the UK’s offical terror threat level was raised last week to severe, meaning that an attack is “highly likely”.

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Neanderthals Created Cave Art

A new discovery at Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar suggests that Neanderthals were, contrary to their poor reputation, cave artists (and created the hashtag). Report via Chicago Tribune:

Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported Monday in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species.

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Gorham’s Cave. Photo by Gibmetal77 (CC)

The discovery is “a major contribution to the redefinition of our perception of Neanderthal culture,” said prehistorian William Rendu of the French National Center for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the work. “It is a new and even stronger evidence of the Neanderthal capacity for developing complex symbolic thought” and “abstract expression,” abilities long believed exclusive to early modern humans.

In recent years researchers have discovered that Neanderthals buried their dead, adorned themselves with black and red pigments, wore shell and feather jewelry and cared for the elderly and infirm, all evidence of complex thought.

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When Whites Just Don’t Get It

Kids and piesSome shocking facts support Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed at the New York Times, such as “the net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household”:

Many white Americans say they are fed up with the coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. A plurality of whites in a recent Pew survey said that the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News reflected that weariness, saying: “All you hear is grievance, grievance, grievance, money, money, money.”

Indeed, a 2011 study by scholars at Harvard and Tufts found that whites, on average, believed that anti-white racism was a bigger problem than anti-black racism.

Yes, you read that right!

So let me push back at what I see as smug white delusion. Here are a few reasons race relations deserve more attention, not less:

• The net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household, according to 2011 census data.

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Inequality and the USA: A Nation in Denial?

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Photo: Alex Proimos (CC)

Sam Pizzigati of Inequality.org writes at PressTV that “the United States… doesn’t just have the world’s most unequal major developed economy… [it] has the most people in denial about the inequality they live amid”:

Every August, for most of the last four decades, top central bankers from around the world have been making their way to the Wyoming mountain resort of Jackson Hole for an invitation-only blue-ribbon economic symposium.

This year’s Jackson Hole hobnob, once again hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, last week attracted the usual assortment of central bankers, finance ministers, and influential business journalists. But this year’s gathering also attracted something else: protesters.

For the first time ever, activists converged on Jackson Hole — to let the Fed’s central bankers know, as protest organizers put it, that “it’s not just the rich who are watching them.”

Over 70 groups and unions backed the protest and signed onto an open letter that calls on America’s central bankers to start nurturing an economy that works for workers.

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Threats to a Free Press, from Ferguson to the White House

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A strong appeal for the importance of the beleaguered Fourth Estate from a key member, Katrina vanden Heuvel, in the Washington Post:

This is a terrible time for journalists.

Just last week, the world watched in horror as James Foley, a freelance photojournalist for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse, was beheaded by a jihadist from the Islamic State. The disturbing video suggests that the perpetrators intend to target more journalists if their demands are not met.

There is something particularly chilling about murdering those seeking only to inform, about reporters around the world having to fear for their lives. But right here at home, we’re seeing a less lethal, yet still deeply troubling threat to journalism.

In recent days, all eyes have been on Ferguson, Mo., where the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9 touched off citywide protests and a national debate over racism, equal justice and police brutality.

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Henry Kissinger on the Assembly of a New World Order

NWO“Henry Kissinger on the Assembly of a New World Order” is the actual headline of this op-ed by Kissinger himself in the Wall Street Journal. You can’t say he isn’t out front and center!

Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan’s young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis.

The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies. In the decades following World War II, the U.S.—strengthened in its economy and national confidence—began to take up the torch of international leadership and added a new dimension. A nation founded explicitly on an idea of free and representative governance, the U.S.

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