April 2014 Archives

When the Boomers Get Old

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And are loaded up with meds consider they could own toys like this soon

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Flying Car Moves from Science Fiction Toward Reality

By Paul A. Eisenstein

Flying cars have long been the stuff of science fiction, though plenty of entrepreneurs and visionaries have struggled to make the concept a reality - including no less than the original Henry Ford.

Several projects are under way and one, started by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni, is rapidly working its way toward reality. But the former college cronies apparently are dreaming about taking their original Transition flying car a giant leap farther into the wild blue yonder with an even more advanced design they've dubbed the TF-X.

To start with, the four-seater would be capable of vertical take-offs and landings. And since it would largely be controlled by a central computer network, the TF-X would, claims a Terrafugia promotional video, require a pilot/driver to have as little as five hours of training, a slight fraction of what it now takes to get the most basic private pilot's license.

Oh, and if that isn't appealing enough, the team says their newest flying car design would use an environmentally friendly plug-in hybrid powertrain.


When the Right Runs Out of Ideas

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The Piketty Panic

Paul Krugman

"Capital in the Twenty-First Century," the new book by the French economist Thomas Piketty, is a bona fide phenomenon. Other books on economics have been best sellers, but Mr. Piketty's contribution is serious, discourse-changing scholarship in a way most best sellers aren't. And conservatives are terrified. Thus James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute warns in National Review that Mr. Piketty's work must be refuted, because otherwise it "will spread among the clerisy and reshape the political economic landscape on which all future policy battles will be waged."

Well, good luck with that. The really striking thing about the debate so far is that the right seems unable to mount any kind of substantive counterattack to Mr. Piketty's thesis. Instead, the response has been all about name-calling -- in particular, claims that Mr. Piketty is a Marxist, and so is anyone who considers inequality of income and wealth an important issue.

I'll come back to the name-calling in a moment. First, let's talk about why "Capital" is having such an impact.

Mr. Piketty is hardly the first economist to point out that we are experiencing a sharp rise in inequality, or even to emphasize the contrast between slow income growth for most of the population and soaring incomes at the top. It's true that Mr. Piketty and his colleagues have added a great deal of historical depth to our knowledge, demonstrating that we really are living in a new Gilded Age. But we've known that for a while.

No, what's really new about "Capital" is the way it demolishes that most cherished of conservative myths, the insistence that we're living in a meritocracy in which great wealth is earned and deserved.

For the past couple of decades, the conservative response to attempts to make soaring incomes at the top into a political issue has involved two lines of defense: first, denial that the rich are actually doing as well and the rest as badly as they are, but when denial fails, claims that those soaring incomes at the top are a justified reward for services rendered. Don't call them the 1 percent, or the wealthy; call them "job creators."

But how do you make that defense if the rich derive much of their income not from the work they do but from the assets they own? And what if great wealth comes increasingly not from enterprise but from inheritance?


My Favorite Stupidity of the Week

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Oklahoma, you so stupid.

The Koch Attack on Solar Energy

At long last, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have found a new tax they can support. Naturally it's a tax on something the country needs: solar energy panels.

For the last few months, the Kochs and other big polluters have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, which have been adopted by most states. They particularly dislike state laws that allow homeowners with solar panels to sell power they don't need back to electric utilities. So they've been pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive.

Oklahoma lawmakers recently approved such a surcharge at the behest of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative group that often dictates bills to Republican statehouses and receives financing from the utility industry and fossil-fuel producers, including the Kochs. As The Los Angeles Times reported recently, the Kochs and ALEC have made similar efforts in other states, though they were beaten back by solar advocates in Kansas and the surtax was reduced to $5 a month in Arizona.

But the Big Carbon advocates aren't giving up. The same group is trying to repeal or freeze Ohio's requirement that 12.5 percent of the state's electric power come from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2025. Twenty-nine states have established similar standards that call for 10 percent or more in renewable power. These states can now anticipate well-financed campaigns to eliminate these targets or scale them back.

The coal producers' motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation's electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. (It is slightly higher in California and Hawaii.) But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy. In 2013, 29 percent of newly installed generation capacity came from solar, compared with 10 percent in 2012.

Renewables are good for economic as well as environmental reasons, as most states know. (More than 143,000 now work in the solar industry.) Currently, 43 states require utilities to buy excess power generated by consumers with solar arrays. This practice, known as net metering, essentially runs electric meters backward when power flows from rooftop solar panels into the grid, giving consumers a credit for the power they generate but don't use.

Sermonette #2014

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Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges and editorial cartoonist Mr. Fish told a University of Connecticut audience Thursday about their dealings with our civilization's war against itself in all its ugly forms.

The talk was part of a weeklong event called "War and its Meanings" sponsored by The Humanities Institute and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Hedges speaks for the first half hour. He and Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish) conclude with a conversation with the audience.

In the second video, Booth talks about his development as a skeptic and an artist and the joy of collaborating with Hedges.


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Completed Orbits

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Nano Cover

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Swiss Lab 'Nano Chisels' World's Tiniest Magazine Cover

A laboratory in Switzerland has created the smallest magazine cover in the world, using a tiny chisel to create an image so minute that 2,000 of them could fit on a grain of salt.

Scientists carved the 11x14-micrometre image of two pandas that appeared on last month's cover of the National Geographic Kids magazine onto a polymer using technology similar to 3D printing.

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An image of the smallest magazine cover in the world commissioned by National Geographic Kids is seen in an undated handout.

"My idea was to do something similar to chiseling a rock, but just to do it on a nano-scale," said Urs Duerig, a scientist at IBM in Switzerland and one of the inventors of the machine.

The device, roughly the size of a family refrigerator, used a tiny chisel with a heatable silicon tip 100,000 times smaller than a sharpened pencil point to cut out the image. The technology could be used to make transistors, as well as nano-sized security tags to prevent the forgery of money, passports and artwork, scientists involved said.

"The application range is quite broad," said Felix Holzner, chief executive of SwissLitho, a startup to which the IBM technology has been licensed. "It's like a 3D printer on a microscopic scale - you can make any structure you want but a million times smaller with this machine."

At the moment, the high-tech machines, which cost around 500,000 euros ($691,500), are intended as research tools rather than for use in the production industry, Holzner said. National Geographic Kids, which commissioned the project, will unveil its Guinness world record title for the smallest magazine cover in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

Thomas Piketty joined economists Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Steven Durlauf in New York last week to talk about his new landmark book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

In a review, Krugman, who appeared on Moyers & Company last week, called the book magnificent, adding: "The big idea of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is that we haven't just gone back to 19th century levels of income inequality, we're also on a path back to 'patrimonial capitalism,' in which the commanding heights of the economy are controlled not by talented individuals but by family dynasties."

The event, organized by the Graduate Center, CUNY, can be seen below.


Key Word: Forgiveness

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It's not often that I agree with David Brooks...but...

True Love

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There's a huge amount of human behavior worthy of criticism. This not one of them.


Couple Married for 70 Years Die Just 15 Hours Apart

NASHPORT, Ohio -- A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

Helen Felumlee, of Nashport, died at 92 on April 12. Her husband, 91-year-old Kenneth Felumlee, died the next morning.

The couple's eight children say the two had been inseparable since meeting as teenagers, once sharing the bottom of a bunk bed on a ferry rather than sleeping one night apart, the Zanesville Times Recorder reported.

They remained deeply in love until the very end, even eating breakfast together while holding hands, said their daughter, Linda Cody.

"We knew when one went, the other was going to go," she said.

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According to Cody, about 12 hours after Helen died, Kenneth looked at his children and said, "Mom's dead." He quickly began to fade and was surrounded by 24 of his closest family members and friends when he died the next morning.

"He was ready," Cody said. "He just didn't want to leave her here by herself."

The pair had known each other for several years when they eloped in Newport, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, on Feb. 20, 1944. At two days shy of his 21st birthday, Kenneth -- who went by Kenny -- was too young to marry in Ohio.

"He couldn't wait," son Jim Felumlee said.

Kenneth worked as a railroad car inspector and mechanic before becoming a mail carrier for the Nashport Post Office. Helen stayed at home, not only cooking and cleaning for her own family but also for other families in need in the area.

When Kenneth retired in 1983 and the children began to leave the house, the Felumlees began to explore their love of travel, visiting almost all 50 states by bus.

"He didn't want to fly anywhere because you couldn't see anything as you were going," Jim Felumlee said.

Although both experienced declining health in recent years, Cody said, each tried to stay strong for the other.

"That's what kept them going," she said.

Ungilding the Cages

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I predict that the American fall toward oligarchy will be stopped only by violent revolution.






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Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics, isn't a household name, although that may change with the English-language publication of his magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Yet his influence runs deep. It has become a commonplace to say that we are living in a second Gilded Age -- or, as Piketty likes to put it, a second Belle Époque -- defined by the incredible rise of the "one percent." But it has only become a commonplace thanks to Piketty's work. In particular, he and a few colleagues (notably Anthony Atkinson at Oxford and Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley) have pioneered statistical techniques that make it possible to track the concentration of income and wealth deep into the past -- back to the early 20th century for America and Britain, and all the way to the late eighteenth century for France.

The result has been a revolution in our understanding of long-term trends in inequality. Before this revolution, most discussions of economic disparity more or less ignored the very rich. Some economists (not to mention politicians) tried to shout down any mention of inequality at all: "Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution," declared Robert Lucas Jr. of the University of Chicago, the most influential macroeconomist of his generation, in 2004. But even those willing to discuss inequality generally focused on the gap between the poor or the working class and the merely well-off, not the truly rich -- on college graduates whose wage gains outpaced those of less-educated workers, or on the comparative good fortune of the top fifth of the population compared with the bottom four fifths, not on the rapidly rising incomes of executives and bankers.

It therefore came as a revelation when Piketty and his colleagues showed that incomes of the now famous "one percent," and of even narrower groups, are actually the big story in rising inequality. And this discovery came with a second revelation: talk of a second Gilded Age, which might have seemed like hyperbole, was nothing of the kind. In America in particular the share of national income going to the top one percent has followed a great U-shaped arc. Before World War I the one percent received around a fifth of total income in both Britain and the United States. By 1950 that share had been cut by more than half. But since 1980 the one percent has seen its income share surge again -- and in the United States it's back to what it was a century ago.

Still, today's economic elite is very different from that of the 19th century, isn't it? Back then, great wealth tended to be inherited; aren't today's economic elite people who earned their position? Well, Piketty tells us that this isn't as true as you think, and that in any case this state of affairs may prove no more durable than the middle-class society that flourished for a generation after World War II. The big idea of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is that we haven't just gone back to 19th-century levels of income inequality, we're also on a path back to "patrimonial capitalism," in which the commanding heights of the economy are controlled not by talented individuals but by family dynasties.

It's a remarkable claim -- and precisely because it's so remarkable, it needs to be examined carefully and critically. Before I get into that, however, let me say right away that Piketty has written a truly superb book. It's a work that melds grand historical sweep -- when was the last time you heard an economist invoke Jane Austen and Balzac? -- with painstaking data analysis. And even though Piketty mocks the economics profession for its "childish passion for mathematics," underlying his discussion is a tour de force of economic modeling, an approach that integrates the analysis of economic growth with that of the distribution of income and wealth. This is a book that will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics.


The Red Line and the Rat Line

Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the 'red line' he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.

Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad's offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama's change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn't match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army's chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn't hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria's infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria's neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. 'We knew there were some in the Turkish government,' a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, 'who believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria - and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.'

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration's public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong.

The Destructive Scam of Finance

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Three Expensive Milliseconds

by Paul Krugman

Four years ago Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, abruptly canceled America's biggest and arguably most important infrastructure project, a desperately needed new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Count me among those who blame his presidential ambitions, and believe that he was trying to curry favor with the government- and public-transit-hating Republican base.

Even as one tunnel was being canceled, however, another was nearing completion, as Spread Networks finished boring its way through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Spread's tunnel was not, however, intended to carry passengers, or even freight; it was for a fiber-optic cable that would shave three milliseconds -- three-thousandths of a second -- off communication time between the futures markets of Chicago and the stock markets of New York. And the fact that this tunnel was built while the rail tunnel wasn't tells you a lot about what's wrong with America today.

Who cares about three milliseconds? The answer is, high-frequency traders, who make money by buying or selling stock a tiny fraction of a second faster than other players. Not surprisingly, Michael Lewis starts his best-selling new book "Flash Boys," a polemic against high-frequency trading, with the story of the Spread Networks tunnel. But the real moral of the tunnel tale is independent of Mr. Lewis's polemic.

Think about it. You may or may not buy Mr. Lewis's depiction of the high-frequency types as villains and those trying to thwart them as heroes. (If you ask me, there are no good guys in this story.) But either way, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to save three milliseconds looks like a huge waste. And that's part of a much broader picture, in which society is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return.

How much waste are we talking about? A paper by Thomas Philippon of New York University puts it at several hundred billion dollars a year.

Mr. Philippon starts with the familiar observation that finance has grown much faster than the economy as a whole. Specifically, the share of G.D.P. accruing to bankers, traders, and so on has nearly doubled since 1980, when we started dismantling the system of financial regulation created as a response to the Great Depression.

What are we getting in return for all that money? Not much, as far as anyone can tell. Mr. Philippon shows that the financial industry has grown much faster than either the flow of savings it channels or the assets it manages. Defenders of modern finance like to argue that it does the economy a great service by allocating capital to its most productive uses -- but that's a hard argument to sustain after a decade in which Wall Street's crowning achievement involved directing hundreds of billions of dollars into subprime mortgages.

Wall Street's friends also used to claim that the proliferation of complex financial instruments was reducing risk and increasing the system's stability, so that financial crises were a thing of the past. No, really.

But if our supersized financial sector isn't making us either safer or more productive, what is it doing? One answer is that it's playing small investors for suckers, causing them to waste huge sums in a vain effort to beat the market. Don't take my word for it -- that's what the president of the American Finance Association declared in 2008. Another answer is that a lot of money is going to speculative activities that are privately profitable but socially unproductive.

You may object that this can't be right, that the invisible hand of the market ensures that private returns and social returns coincide. Economists have, however, known for a long time that when it comes to speculation, that proposition just isn't true. Back in 1815 Baron Rothschild made a killing because he knew the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo a few hours before everyone else; it's hard to see how that knowledge made Britain as a whole richer. It's even harder to see how the three-millisecond advantage conveyed by the Spread Networks tunnel makes modern America richer; yet that advantage was clearly worth it to the speculators.

In short, we're giving huge sums to the financial industry while receiving little or nothing -- maybe less than nothing -- in return. Mr. Philippon puts the waste at 2 percent of G.D.P. Yet even that figure, I'd argue, understates the true cost of our bloated financial industry. For there is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and America's return to Gilded Age levels of inequality.

So never mind the debate about exactly how much damage high-frequency trading does. It's the whole financial industry, not just that piece, that's undermining our economy and our society.

Ecce Heterocephalus Glaber

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When you feel no pain, resist cancer and show no signs of aging during your unusually long life, does it really matter that you look like an angry scrotum?

Behold: the naked mole rat


You're welcome.

Jesse Winchester Dead at 69

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So sad to hear of Jesse's passing.
Carolyn MCleod , Randy price and I had the opportunity to tour Quebec with Jesse in the very early 70's as a group called Moonstone. Jesse was an amazing talent and musical magician. The way he could capture the attention of an audience with his soft voice and small movements was astonishing.

We adopted his simple 1:30 second song "Do It" after hearing him play it on tour into our standard set.

If you want to hear a sample of our version there's an old partial live take at http://www.deeperwants.com/vids/music/thinice2.mp3

He was a major inspiration to all of us. Salut and peace,Jesse.

Jesse Gone

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Jesse Winchester, the esteemed singer-songwriter who became a symbol of the anti-war movement when he moved to Canada to escape the draft in the Sixties, died Friday from bladder cancer. Winchester, who was living in Virginia when he died, was 69.

While never as well known as peers like James Taylor and Jackson Browne, Winchester wrote some of the defining singer-songwriter tracks of the seventies -- evocations of American and Southern life like "Yankee Lady," "Biloxi," "Mississippi You're on My Mind" and "The Brand New Tennessee Waltz" that ached with feelings of loss for the country he decided he had to leave. The songs gained him a cult following and critical respect, and were covered by everyone from George Strait to Tim Hardin. Winchester was considered such a formidable songwriter that a 2012 tribute album, "Quiet About It," featured versions of his songs by Taylor, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett, Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, and Vince Gill, among others.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1944, Winchester started playing music in Memphis, where his family later relocated. In 1967, he received a draft induction letter, but instead of showing up, he took a plane to Montreal. "I was so offended by someone's coming up to me and presuming to tell me who I should kill and what my life was worth," he told Rolling Stone in 1977. He arrived in Canada with only $300 and no connections, but settled into a new life, joining a local band and finally writing his own material.


In 1970, Robbie Robertson of the Band, another Canadian musician, met Winchester in the basement of a monastery in Ottawa. "A friend of mine told me about him, and we went from Montréal, where I was living, to pay him a visit," Robertson says. "He sang me a few songs, and I knew immediately he was the real thing. Great songwriter, with a very moving vocal sound."

Robertson not only hooked Winchester up with the Band's (and Dylan's) manager, Albert Grossman, but produced Winchester's eponymous 1970 debut album, recorded in Toronto. "We had to do it in Canada because he was a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam and was avoiding the draft," Robertson says. "When the record came out, it was received with open arms, and many recording artists covered his songs. Jesse's music stands up today as good as it did then, and I am so proud to have been a part of it."

Winchester released several more albums, including 1972's "Third Down, 110 to Go," produced by Todd Rundgren. No matter the producer, Winchester's voice and songs largely remained gentle, thoughtful and restrained. Unfortunately, he couldn't leave the country to tour or promote any of his early albums. "People say, 'Coming to Canada, that must have been a hard decision,'" he told RS. "But that really was the easy part. The hard part comes later, when you start trying to live your life in line with that decision. That's when it gets complicated." Winchester became a Canadian citizen in 1973.

During this period, Winchester's mythic status grew: During one of the Rolling Thunder Revue shows in 1975, Joan Baez dedicated a cover of the folk-pop hit "Please Come to Boston" to Winchester. In 1977, Winchester was pardoned by then-President Jimmy Carter and was finally able to tour America, although he wouldn't move back to the States for another quarter-century.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1944, Winchester started playing music in Memphis, where his family later relocated. In 1967, he received a draft induction letter, but instead of showing up, he took a plane to Montreal. "I was so offended by someone's coming up to me and presuming to tell me who I should kill and what my life was worth," he told Rolling Stone in 1977. He arrived in Canada with only $300 and no connections, but settled into a new life, joining a local band and finally writing his own material.

Also from Rolling Stone: 10 Amazing Backstage Moments From the Rock Hall's 2014 Induction

In 1970, Robbie Robertson of the Band, another Canadian musician, met Winchester in the basement of a monastery in Ottawa. "A friend of mine told me about him, and we went from Montréal, where I was living, to pay him a visit," Robertson says. "He sang me a few songs, and I knew immediately he was the real thing. Great songwriter, with a very moving vocal sound."

Robertson not only hooked Winchester up with the Band's (and Dylan's) manager, Albert Grossman, but produced Winchester's eponymous 1970 debut album, recorded in Toronto. "We had to do it in Canada because he was a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam and was avoiding the draft," Robertson says. "When the record came out, it was received with open arms, and many recording artists covered his songs. Jesse's music stands up today as good as it did then, and I am so proud to have been a part of it."

Winchester released several more albums, including 1972's "Third Down, 110 to Go," produced by Todd Rundgren. No matter the producer, Winchester's voice and songs largely remained gentle, thoughtful and restrained. Unfortunately, he couldn't leave the country to tour or promote any of his early albums. "People say, 'Coming to Canada, that must have been a hard decision,'" he told RS. "But that really was the easy part. The hard part comes later, when you start trying to live your life in line with that decision. That's when it gets complicated." Winchester became a Canadian citizen in 1973.

During this period, Winchester's mythic status grew: During one of the Rolling Thunder Revue shows in 1975, Joan Baez dedicated a cover of the folk-pop hit "Please Come to Boston" to Winchester. In 1977, Winchester was pardoned by then-President Jimmy Carter and was finally able to tour America, although he wouldn't move back to the States for another quarter-century.

Winchester continued recording sporadic albums and, about a decade ago, returned to the States; he and his second wife lived in Memphis before finally settling into Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2011, Winchester was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, but he beat the disease and eventually mustered the energy to record a new album, "A Reasonable Amount of Trouble." Produced by Mac McAnally, the album will be released this August. But this February, the cancer returned, to his bladder, and Winchester had spent the last week in a hospice.

Although Winchester was keenly aware of his lack of commercial success, he maintained a sense of integrity that proved as influential as his songs. "I didn't want to get into this business of trying to be the top [expletive] or something like that," he told RS in an earlier interview in 1970. "I'd rather just hang in there all the time with good music, slow and steady, and share it, rather than set the world on fire all at once."

Winchester continued recording sporadic albums and, about a decade ago, returned to the States; he and his second wife lived in Memphis before finally settling into Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2011, Winchester was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, but he beat the disease and eventually mustered the energy to record a new album, "A Reasonable Amount of Trouble." Produced by Mac McAnally, the album will be released this August. But this February, the cancer returned, to his bladder, and Winchester had spent the last week in a hospice.

Although Winchester was keenly aware of his lack of commercial success, he maintained a sense of integrity that proved as influential as his songs. "I didn't want to get into this business of trying to be the top [expletive] or something like that," he told RS in an earlier interview in 1970. "I'd rather just hang in there all the time with good music, slow and steady, and share it, rather than set the world on fire all at once."

The School to Prison Pipeline

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Florida leads the nation on charging kids as adults

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by Meredith Clark

Florida's criminal justice system has received a lot of attention in recent years - and for good reason.

According to a new report, the state is on the wrong side of international human rights law. A Human Rights Watch review of Florida's policies for juveniles charged with crimes found more than 12,000 children have been moved from the juvenile to adult court system in the past five years - more than half of whom were charged with non-violent crimes.

The report, released Thursday, found that 98% of all the children who end up in the adult court system do so as a result of Florida's "direct file" statute, which allows prosecutors the discretion to move a case from juvenile to adult court without a hearing or any input from a judge. Between 2003 and 2008, Florida transferred juveniles into the adult court system nearly two times as often as the state with the second highest transfer rate, and five times as often as the average rate in 12 other states.

041114-youth-transfer-01.pngBlack youth are also disproportionately affected by the law, according to the report. While black boys make up 27% of those who enter the juvenile justice system, they account for more than half of all transfers to the adult system. White boys actually make up a slightly larger proportion of those who enter the juvenile system - 28% - but they comprise slightly less than a quarter of those who end up in adult court. ( enlarge graphic at right )

Heather DiGiacomo, communications director for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, said that the department had not had the opportunity to fully review the report and couldn't comment on it.

The report also found that black boys are more likely than white boys to be charged as adults for drug felonies and for violent crimes that are not murder.

The report also alleged that some prosecutors may be using the threat of adult charges to get defendants to plead guilty in juvenile cases. This would not be a new phenomenon; an HRW report released in December claimed that federal prosecutors use the threat of harsh mandatory minimum sentences to extract guilty pleas from drug defendants. Ninety-seven percent of federal drug defendants plead guilty.

Florida is not just out of step with much of the United States when it comes to prosecuting children, the report said. International law requires children be treated differently in criminal cases, something HRW alleges Florida does not do. "To comply with international standards, any criminal process that a child is subjected to must take into account the fact that children are uniquely capable of rehabilitation," the report read.

Even within Florida, the chances a young teenager will end up charged as an adult varies between jurisdictions, something the report's authors want to see changed.

Hey sometimes ya get to see genius right out loud.

US Taxes Comparatively

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Remember Karen Silkwood

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Positive Propaganda

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You can already hear the ever Lautermewling from the right wing deniers....

Ann Curry's Report on Climate Change to Air on NBC this Sunday

anncurry.jpgIn a special one hour documentary airing this Sunday night, NBC News' Ann Curry reports there is virtually no debate among climate scientists: 97 percent now believe climate change is real and the warming is largely caused by human activity. A year in the making, and less than a week after stunning predictions about the future from the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "Ann Curry Reports: Our Year of Extremes - Did Climate Change just Hit Home?," takes viewers on a journey to the Arctic at the top of the world, to drought stricken regions in the American West, to the edge of rising seas in Florida, and into extreme weather events all over the globe.

The report features ordinary people who say their experiences convince them - they are eyewitnesses to climate change, including the Inuit in Greenland, and the victims of Hurricane Sandy. We also hear from some of the world's top climate scientists who explain whether there is a link between climate change and extreme storms, like the deep freeze this past winter in places like Atlanta. They also tell us how to get ready for what some call the new normal.

"If climate scientists are right, we could face a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions," said Curry. "We owe it to our children to put politics aside, and weigh the latest scientific evidence for ourselves. Our report aims to give our viewers a chance to do just that."

Social media users can join the conversation and share their thoughts with hashtag #Extremes as "Ann Curry Reports: Our Year of Extremes - Did Climate Change just Hit Home?" airs this Sunday, April 6 at 7p/6c.

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May 1

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Killing off the trend to oligarchy through political finance reform

Seven years ago, Internet activist Aaron Swartz convinced Lawrence Lessig to take up the fight for political reform. A year after Swartz's tragic death, Lessig continues his campaign to free US politics from the stranglehold of corruption. In this fiery, deeply personal talk, he calls for all citizens to engage, and offers a heartfelt reminder to never give up hope.

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