Thursday, January 22, 2015

Via Occupy Democrats / FB:



Another day, another Republican double standard.

The Tax Reform Act of 1986, signed by Reagan, raised the maximum tax rate on long-term capital gains to 28% from 20%. In fact, Reagan was the first president to raise capital gains taxes to the same level as earned income (wage) taxes.


Read more: http://wapo.st/1ufVX5l


Image by Occupy Democrats

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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Via Vox: What Obama would say at the State of the Union if he were being brutally honest



Pete Souza/White House
My fellow Americans. I come before you tonight able to say, honestly, and for the first time in my presidency, the state of the union is strong.

The crisis that overwhelmed the economy in 2008 has largely passed. Unemployment is down to 5.6 percent. This has been the longest period of sustained private-sector job growth on record. The economy is growing at a rate we haven't seen since 2003. In much of the country, you can buy gas for less than $2 per gallon, which is, honestly, ridiculous.

The American economy is working again. Our engine of growth is growling. We are, at this moment, far and away the strongest major economy in the world.

Problems persist, of course. Inequality is rising, but wages aren't. Want to know what keeps me up at night? It's household income. Average American families are making less today than in 2000, if you account for inflation. That's really scary, and given how much our economy has grown since then, even with the recession, it's really unnecessary. At the same time, too many folks have dropped out of the workforce, or are in deep poverty, or have been unemployed for months or even years.

But with the economy growing, we in this room could actually do something about these problems. We could use tax cuts to give the middle class a wage boost. We could invest in infrastructure to help make the country strong and get some of the unemployed back to work. We could give businesses a bonus for hiring people who have been out of work more than a few months.

There's a lot we can do. The really bad news is we're not going to do any of it.

And that's because even if the state of the union is strong, the state of the political system that governs the country is weak. We have made it weak. You have made it weak. And whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, a liberal or a conservative, you need to know there's a problem here.

The hard thing I have to say to you tonight is that I was wrong. When I ran for president, I believed that the political system could be repaired by people of goodwill, who genuinely wanted to agree, to reach out, to compromise. I ran for president telling you that the problems in American politics could be fixed through elections. But the problems run deeper than the people serving in Washington at any given moment, and the way all of us in this room are elected is making them worse.

The refrain I hear all around the country is, "why can't you guys just agree?" It's the right question. Families balancing their books need to agree on how to spend their money. Businesses trying to make payroll need to agree on which investments to make, which workers to give raises, which costs to cut. All across this country, Americans do the hard work of coming to agreement. So why can't we in Washington do the same?

No one likes the answer I'm about to give, but it's the right one. The political system isn't built like a family. It's not designed like a business. It's much more like a football game.

In a family, everyone cares for each other, everyone is working towards the same goal, everyone would throw themselves in front of a truck to make sure the others are safe and healthy and happy. A family is built to find agreement.

The government isn't a business either. It doesn't work towards a single goal. It can't judge itself based off stock price or profit margin. And it isn't built to make decisions or to be held accountable for them. When a company has a disagreement about its direction, there's someone with the power — an owner, a CEO, a board — to make a decision. A business isn't built to find agreement the way a family is, but it's built to force a resolution to disagreements when necessary.

You want to know the truth? Government, or at least the political system, is like a football game. You ever think about why football games are they way they are? You have all these guys hitting each other so hard they cause each other permanent brain damage. So why do they do it? Why do kids who aren't getting paid a cent do it?

It's not because they hate each other. They're hitting their friends. In practice, they're hitting their teammates. They're hurting people they love.

They do it because that's how the game works. They do it because the rules are you line up in front of the other team and then you hit them as hard as you can. They do it because, for one side to win, the other has to lose. And they do it because, if they don't do it, they're off the team. Football has no place for conscientious objectors.

The honest truth is that that's how politics works, too. We've got two teams. And only one of them can win the election. So they line up and they hit each other as hard as they can. They don't cooperate because the rules don't let them cooperate. They don't agree because agreeing means losing — and losing is political death. Losing means you can't help the people you came here to help.
Let me be clear, Speaker Boehner is a good guy. And John, you should really see your face right now. But if he came out tomorrow and said that my plans make sense for the country and Republicans should endorse everything I want to do he'd be out of a job. Literally. He would be voted out as speaker and he would be defeated in the next primary election. His political career would be destroyed.

And I'll go a bit further than that. If the Republicans endorsed everything I wanted to do, you all would reward me. You would think I was a great president. Hell, I would be a great president. If I was running for reelection, I would win in a landslide. And my party would win in a landslide. And that would cost a lot of Republicans their jobs.

Imagine if your business worked like that. Imagine that the guy in the office next to you needed your help to finish his big project. You know if you help him finish it that he'd get promoted and you'd get fired. Would you still help him? Would you think that's a good way for a business to be run?
If this was just about policy, we could come to agreement. I promise you we could. When you're just talking about policy there are lots of ways to make both sides happy. But this isn't just about policy. It's about power. It's about who will win the next election and govern the country. And while policy questions have answers that can make both sides happy, elections only return answers that make one side happy.

This might sound like we're all soulless, power-hungry careerists just trying to grab power, but we're not. Everyone in this room believes their ideas will make this country a better place. Everyone here believes the best thing that can happen is that their side gets the power to put those ideas in play and make people's lives better. That's what John believes, even if he looks like he's about to have a stroke back there. That's what Joe believes. Joe believes it so much he basically can't stop smiling. Ever. That grin is how much he wants to help America.

This is a room of honorable men and women who entered public service for the right reasons. Most of us are still in it for the right reasons. But even if our motivations are noble, the game we're playing is ugly, and more than it's ugly, it's getting dangerous. And that's because, even though we can't agree, even though the rules of the game make it career suicide for us to agree, the political system is built to require our agreement. It needs us to do the thing it makes impossible. If we can't agree, the country often can't move forward, and sometimes, it will get pushed backward.

Over time, the failures of our political system will eat at the very foundations of our country's strength: they will weaken our economy, divide our people, and squander our opportunities. They may well lead to an unnecessary and devastating crisis, like a debt-ceiling fight that is not resolved in time and triggers a global financial crisis that leaves the American economy forever diminished.

And here's the thing. We can't change the game. Politics has no place for conscientious objectors, either. Only you can change the game. Only you can change the rules. But right now, you're just punishing the players. In 2008, you elected me and my party. But Washington still didn't work. So in 2010, you elected the Republicans. And then Washington worked even worse. So in 2012, you gave us Democrats another try. We disappointed you again. In the most recent election, you turned back towards the Republicans. And they're going to disappoint you again. Because you can't change the game by changing the players. You can only change the game by changing the rules.

The good news is we've changed the rules before. When this country was founded, people who looked like me didn't even count as a full person. People who looked like Minority Leader Pelosi couldn't vote. All those senators out in the audience, they were elected by state legislatures rather than ordinary voters. Speaking of those senators, most of the states they're representing today didn't exist. Nor did the filibuster, for what it's worth.

The genius of this country is that it has continuously reinvented itself to handle new challenges, new problems, and new opportunities. The most honest thing I can tell you tonight is that we need to do it again, that you need to do it again. We need a political system as strong as this union, and right now, we don't have it.

God bless you, and God bless America.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Via NPR: Origin Unknown: Study Says Blast Of Radio Waves Came From Outside Our Galaxy


Australia's giant Parkes radio telescope detected a "fast radio burst," or FRB, last May. Researchers call FRBs, whose origins haven't been explained, "tantalizing mysteries of the radio sky."

Australia's giant Parkes radio telescope detected a "fast radio burst," or FRB, last May. Researchers call FRBs, whose origins haven't been explained, "tantalizing mysteries of the radio sky."
CSIRO/EPA /Landov 
 
On a graph, they look like detonations. Scientists call them "fast radio bursts," or FRBs, mysterious and strong pulses of radio waves that seemingly emanate far from the Milky Way.
The bursts are rare; they normally last for only about 1 millisecond. In a first, researchers in Australia say they've observed one in real time.
NPR's Joe Palca reports:
"The giant Parkes radio telescope in southeastern Australia detected the burst on May 14 last year. Within hours of the discovery, 12 different telescopes both on Earth and in space were pointed in the direction of the burst, but none recorded any unusual activity.
"Most of the events that astronomers know about that could cause a burst of radio waves, such as an exploding star, would continue to give off light or X-rays or gamma rays for some time.
"Finding nothing only deepens the mystery about what's behind the bursts. Details of the finding appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society."
The first of these cosmic outbursts was detected fairly recently, in 2007. Last year, a radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected the same brief and powerful waves the Parke facility had earlier reported.

Calling fast radio bursts "tantalizing mysteries of the radio sky," the more than 30 researchers who took part in the study say they found last May's FRB "during a campaign to re-observe known FRB fields."

But while the scientists note that the recent FRB was detected close to a previously discovered phenomenon, they concluded that the two are "distinct objects."

"This is a major breakthrough," Duncan Lorimer of West Virginia University tells New Scientist. Lorimer was part of the team that uncovered the 2007 signal. He also argued that it came from far beyond our galaxy.

Astronomers have disagreed about where FRBs come from, with ideas ranging from black hole activity to solar flares.

EarthSky reports, "The astronomers involved with this study, though, say the burst originated up to 5.5 billion light-years from Earth. If that is indeed the case, then the sources of these bursts must be extremely powerful."

Led by Emily Petroff of Australia's Swinburne University of Technology, scientists from the U.S., India, Germany and elsewhere collected data on the FRB's polarized radiation that they believe is intrinsic to the phenomenon.

In the conclusion to their report, the scientists note, "The true progenitors of FRBs remain unknown."
As NPR's Joe Palca noted last year, the study of FRBs has itself been somewhat polarizing, in one instance resulting in "a theoretical paper suggesting the bursts could be generated by intelligent beings intentionally beaming a radio signal directly at Earth."

We'll note that "real time" is an especially relative term when observing events that took place billions of light-years from Earth. Noting that detail, one of the study's co-authors adds that the radiation's delay as it travels through space is the same as other phenomena that might help to explain it (as the Motherboard blog's Becky Ferreira reports).

 http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/19/378385693/origin-unknown-study-details-blast-of-radio-waves-from-outside-our-galaxy?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20150119

Via Occupy Democrats / FB:


Via Daily Kos: Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did

So in the spirit of honoring MLK's legacy beyond "I Have A Dream," take a look at some of his more "radical" quotes below.

On war

On materialism


On capitalism 

 

Via ATTN / FB:

#MLKDay #ReclaimMLK

Original at: http://bit.ly/1AC0vPR

Via AlterNet: Paul Krugman on the Real Reason Reality Doesn't Make the Slightest Dent in the Right-wing Brain

Economy

Paul Krugman on the Real Reason Reality Doesn't Make the Slightest Dent in the Right-wing Brain

What's behind this rabid denial of facts and evidence?
Photo Credit: via YouTube

It's really terrible when reality intrudes on your extremist world view.  And yet that's what keeps happening to right-wingers and Republicans. The latest reality to intrude on their ideological parade is that 2014 was the warmest year on record. It's official, Paul Krugman writes in his column Monday. 

And yet, it will not make the slightest difference to the climate-change deniers in Congress and elsewhere, who have proven themselves time and time again to be impervious to facts.
Evidence doesn’t matter for the “debate” over climate policy, where I put scare quotes around “debate” because, given the obvious irrelevance of logic and evidence, it’s not really a debate in any normal sense. And this situation is by no means unique. Indeed, at this point it’s hard to think of a major policy dispute where facts actually do matter; it’s unshakable dogma, across the board. And the real question is why.
There is other news that will not matter, Krugman points out before getting to the deeper question of why. There is the irrefutable evidence that Kansas' right-wing governor Sam Brownback's experiment with supply-side economics is a dismal failure. But this and other supply-side catastrophes has not eradicated that scourge. "If evidence mattered, supply-side economics would have faded into obscurity decades ago," Krugman writes. "Instead, it has only strengthened its grip on the Republican Party."

The unexpected success of health reform—unexpected even to its supporters—is another example. Not only has it resulted in a huge increase in the number of people who have health insurance, "Now we have evidence that the number of Americans experiencing financial distress due to medical expenses is also dropping fast," Krugman points out.

Good news! Government is helping people. Now there is a goal we can all agree with.
Therein lies the rub. Why do even clear government successes (like containing Ebola) only result in more rage?
The reason is that conservatives, who should really be renamed reactionaries, do not want government to succeed. Krugman:
Well, it strikes me that the immovable position in each of these cases is bound up with rejecting any role for government that serves the public interest. If you don’t want the government to impose controls or fees on polluters, you want to deny that there is any reason to limit emissions. If you don’t want the combination of regulation, mandates and subsidies that is needed to extend coverage to the uninsured, you want to deny that expanding coverage is even possible. And claims about the magical powers of tax cuts are often little more than a mask for the real agenda of crippling government by starving it of revenue.
And why this hatred of government in the public interest? Well, the political scientist Corey Robin argues that most self-proclaimed conservatives are actually reactionaries. That is, they’re defenders of traditional hierarchy — the kind of hierarchy that is threatened by any expansion of government, even (or perhaps especially) when that expansion makes the lives of ordinary citizens better and more secure. I’m partial to that story, partly because it helps explain why climate science and health economics inspire so much rage.
Sadly for all of us, we are living in an era when facts, evidence and morality don't seem to matter at all. Which is not to say that we should not keep fighting.


Martin Luther King - I Have A Dream Speech - August 28, 1963


Climatologia Geográfica Nível de calor no Rio de Janeiro... (Não é montagem hahaha) Vídeo do Pedro Henrique



Sunday, January 18, 2015

Via Join the Coffee Party Movement:

 
 

#Koch Brothers Are Largest Lease Holders in Alberta #Tar #Sands #KeystoneXL #ksleg

http://goo.gl/VTz5Kk (Shared by Marianne)

Via US Uncut / FB:


Via Scientific American: How Wealth Reduces Compassion

Who is more likely to lie, cheat, and steal—the poor person or the rich one? It’s temping to think that the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to act fairly. After all, if you already have enough for yourself, it’s easier to think about what others may need. But research suggests the opposite is true: as people climb the social ladder, their compassionate feelings towards other people decline.

Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner ran several studies looking at whether social class (as measured by wealth, occupational prestige, and education) influences how much we care about the feelings of others. In one study, Piff and his colleagues discreetly observed the behavior of drivers at a busy four-way intersection. They found that luxury car drivers were more likely to cut off other motorists instead of waiting for their turn at the intersection. This was true for both men and women upper-class drivers, regardless of the time of day or the amount of traffic at the intersection. In a different study they found that luxury car drivers were also more likely to speed past a pedestrian trying to use a crosswalk, even after making eye contact with the pedestrian.

In order to figure out whether selfishness leads to wealth (rather than vice versa), Piff and his colleagues ran a study where they manipulated people’s class feelings. The researchers asked participants to spend a few minutes comparing themselves either to people better off or worse off than themselves financially. Afterwards, participants were shown a jar of candy and told that they could take home as much as they wanted. They were also told that the leftover candy would be given to children in a nearby laboratory. Those participants who had spent time thinking about how much better off they were compared to others ended up taking significantly more candy for themselves--leaving less behind for the children.

A related set of studies published by Keltner and his colleagues last year looked at how social class influences feelings of compassion towards people who are suffering. In one study, they found that less affluent individuals are more likely to report feeling compassion towards others on a regular basis. For example, they are more likely to agree with statements such as, “I often notice people who need help,” and “It’s important to take care of people who are vulnerable.” This was true even after controlling for other factors that we know affect compassionate feelings, such as gender, ethnicity, and spiritual beliefs.

Via Meme GOP:


Via FB: Cornell West



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