In the United States, the federally supported but state-administered unemployment insurance (UI) system typically provides someone who has lost a job through no fault of his or her own with unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. In states that have experienced a sharp rise in unemployment rates, the extended benefit (EB) program kicks in, providing an additional 13 to 20 weeks of jobless benefits. And in times of severe economic distress, Congress routinely votes to provide extra weeks of aid beyond EB. The most recent Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program was authorized by Congress in June 2008 when the overall unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, the long-term unemployment rate (the share of the labor force that has been unemployed for 27 weeks or more) was 1.0 percent, and the average duration of unemployment was 17.1 weeks. It was allowed to lapse in December 2013, with the overall unemployment rate standing at 6.7 percent, long-term unemployment standing at 2.5 percent, and average duration standing at 37.1 weeks.
“But using cheap labor—and vulnerable labor—is a business practice that goes as far back as you can trace private enterprise, and unions emerged in response. In the universities, cheap, vulnerable labor means adjuncts and graduate students. Graduate students are even more vulnerable, for obvious reasons. The idea is to transfer instruction to precarious workers, which improves discipline and control but also enables the transfer of funds to other purposes apart from education. The costs, of course, are borne by the students and by the people who are being drawn into these vulnerable occupations. But it’s a standard feature of a business-run society to transfer costs to the people. In fact, economists tacitly cooperate in this. So, for example, suppose you find a mistake in your checking account and you call the bank to try to fix it. Well, you know what happens. You call them up, and you get a recorded message saying “We love you, here’s a menu.” Maybe the menu has what you’re looking for, maybe it doesn’t. If you happen to find the right option, you listen to some music, and every once and a while a voice comes in and says “Please stand by, we really appreciate your business,” and so on. Finally, after some period of time, you may get a human being, who you can ask a short question to. That’s what economists call “efficiency.” By economic measures, that system reduces labor costs to the bank; of course it imposes costs on you, and those costs are multiplied by the number of users, which can be enormous—but that’s not counted as a cost in economic calculation. And if you look over the way the society works, you find this everywhere. So the university imposes costs on students and on faculty who are not only untenured but are maintained on a path that guarantees that they will have no security. All of this is perfectly natural within corporate business models. It’s harmful to education, but education is not their goal.”—Chomsky: How America’s Great University System Is Getting Destroyed (via azspot)
“What if the public speech on Facebook and Twitter is more akin to a conversation happening between two people at a restaurant? Or two people speaking quietly at home, albeit near a window that happens to be open to the street? And if more than a billion people are active on various social networking applications each week, are we saying that there are now a billion public figures? When did we agree to let media redefine everyone who uses social networks as fair game, with no recourse and no framework for consent?”—What Is Public? (via azspot)
“But where Ryan and others get it wrong is in their pervasive assumption that all you have to do to get a job is want a job. In this regard, here is what you need to know about work requirements: in the absence of strong labor demand, such requirements are a recipe for more, not less, poverty. And even in strong labor markets, the low-wage labor market is often characterized by weak demand. So the only way I and other progressives should even begin to entertain the idea of requiring work is if there’s a guaranteed job. And by the way, adding a work requirement without adding new money to administer it is a cut relative to current spending.”—
“Israel, as an occupying power, is in direct violation of Article III of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. This convention lays out the minimum standards for the protection of civilians in a conflict that is not international in scope. Article 3(1) states that those who take no active role in hostilities must be treated humanely, without discrimination, regardless of racial, social, religious or economic distinctions. The article prohibits certain acts commonly carried out against noncombatants in regions of armed conflict, including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture. It prohibits the taking of hostages as well as sentences given without adequate due process of law. Article 3(2) mandates care for the sick and wounded. Israel has not only violated the tenets of Article III but has amply fulfilled the conditions of an aggressor state as defined by Article 51. But for Israel, as for the United States, international law holds little importance. The U.S. ignored the verdict of the international court in Nicaragua v. United States and, along with Israel, does not accept the jurisdiction of the tribunal. It does not matter how many Palestinians are killed or wounded, how many Palestinian homes are demolished, how dire the poverty becomes in Gaza or the West Bank, how many years Gaza is under a blockade or how many settlements go up on Palestinian territory. Israel, with our protection, can act with impunity.”—Chris Hedges
Remember that time that the US shot down an Iranian passenger plane in 1988 and denied it for the better part of a decade?
Fury and frustration still mount over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and justly so. But before accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes or dismissing the entire episode as a tragic fluke, it’s worth looking back at another doomed passenger plane—Iran Air Flight 655—shot down on July 3, 1988, not by some scruffy rebel on contested soil but by a U.S. Navy captain in command of an Aegis-class cruiser called the Vincennes.
Thus, while there may not be anything inherent to the English language that impels climate denial, the fact that English language media are such a major source of that denial may in effect create a language barrier.
“Today, a large number of Americans don’t believe in science and their wishes are being enacted by a reactionary Republican Party. Research funding is being smothered. This nation doesn’t have a manned space program; we are dependent on Russia to send our astronauts to the International Space Station. As we face climate change, an existential challenge even greater than that of the Soviet Union at its worst, we are doing…nothing. The middle class has been wrecked by more than thirty years of policy changes that destroyed unions, sent jobs overseas, chained us to bad “free trade” agreements. Inequality is the highest it has been since the Gilded Age, which is no coincidence as taxes have been repeatedly cut, especially on the rich, especially with loopholes and welfare for big corporations — the latter still complaining and threatening to move overseas. “Welfare as we know it” is gone for the poor. But jobs are more difficult to find than any recovery in modern history, and those that are available likely pay poorly. Unless one is in the elite.”—Rogue Columnist
“The minimum wage needs to be a living wage. The business-side discomfort with raising the wage would be more understandable if every sector was hurting. But it isn’t. The rich are richer than ever, corporate profits are at record highs, the stock market is soaring. We don’t need to coddle McDonalds and WalMart by paying their employees less than living wages. But in any case, raising the minimum doesn’t hurt the economy at all. It actually creates more jobs.”—Hullabaloo (via azspot)
“So we don’t have a debt crisis, and never did. Why did everyone important seem to think otherwise? To be fair, there has been some real good news about the long-run fiscal prospect, mainly from health care. But it’s hard to escape the sense that debt panic was promoted because it served a political purpose — that many people were pushing the notion of a debt crisis as a way to attack Social Security and Medicare. And they did immense damage along the way, diverting the nation’s attention from its real problems — crippling unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and more — for years on end.”—The deficit crisis is fake. (via salon)
Rather than dig only a few feet under the surface to access the consistent temperatures commonly leveraged for residential geothermal systems, an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) digs thousands of meters into the ground to capture some of the intense heat that escapes from the Earth’s core.
This heat is used to boil water, which creates steam and ultimately drives turbines that generate power. Pretty much the same thing as current power plants except EGSs don’t need fossil fuels or radioactive fuel rods to make it happen.
If implemented successfully, we could generate power 24 hours a day without concerns about the rising costs of fossil fuels or the hazards associated with nuclear power plants.
There are good reasons for any species to think darkly of its own extinction. Ninety-nine percent of the species that have lived on Earth have gone extinct, including more than five tool-using hominids. A quick glance at the fossil record could frighten you into thinking that Earth is growing more dangerous with time. If you carve the planet’s history into nine ages, each spanning five hundred million years, only in the ninth do you find mass extinctions, events that kill off more than two thirds of all species.
But this is deceptive. Earth has always had her hazards; it’s just that for us to see them, she had to fill her fossil beds with variety, so that we could detect discontinuities across time. The tree of life had to fill out before it could be pruned.
“The general public has no idea what is really going on in the world around them. They don’t know about sodium fluoride in the municipal water supplies. They don’t know about estrogen mimickers in the plastic containers. They don’t know about geo engineering projects in which heavy metals are sprayed all over the skies. They don’t know about vaccines which contain mercury. They don’t know about flicker rates on television screens which are designed to alter brain waves into lower states of consciousness. They don’t know about how fiat currency is printed by the Federal Reserve. They don’t know about the depleted uranium used by the military. They don’t know about the radiation contamination from leaking power plants. They don’t know about the collusion of rigged economic markets. They don’t know about who runs the opium out of Afghanistan and the cocaine out of Central America and the marijuana out of Mexico. They don’t know about the United Nations’ Agenda 21 program. They don’t know about the quotas CPS agents have. They don’t know about the Sovietization of the public education system which was implemented decades ago. They don’t know about the genetically modified organisms that are in the processed foods. They don’t know about detoxification and the body’s ability to heal itself from nearly any condition. They don’t know squat.”—
“And how hard is it to land even a minimum-wage job? This year, the Ivy League college admissions acceptance rate was 8.9%. Last year, when Walmart opened its first store in Washington, D.C., there were more than 23,000 applications for 600 jobs, which resulted in an acceptance rate of 2.6%, making the big box store about twice as selective as Harvard and five times as choosy as Cornell. Telling unemployed people to get off their couches (or out of the cars they live in or the shelters where they sleep) and get a job makes as much sense as telling them to go study at Harvard.”—"Why Don’t the Unemployed Get Off Their Couches?" and Eight Other Critical Questions for Americans (via seriouslyamerica)