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Wealth gap compounds

One powerful factor seems to be that whites are five times as likely as blacks to receive substantial gifts and inheritances, and the sums they get tend to be much larger. The money “can be used to jump-start further wealth accumulation, for example, by enabling white families to buy homes and begin acquiring equity earlier in their lives,” the study says. The result is that whites’ wealth advantage—and blacks’ disadvantage—gets passed down from generation to generation. Which means that forms of racial discrimination “that happened in the past, like redlining, continue to show up in bank accounts today,” says Traub.

Why Black Americans Stay Poor - Bloomberg View

a study exploring the idea that racial wealth inequality stems from life choices and personal achievement -- that is, that blacks would be as rich as whites if only they got good educations, formed stronger families, worked hard and saved money. Using data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the researchers found that, as of 2013, none of that seemed to matter: Whether they were college-educated, married with kids, employed full-time or prudent savers, black families’ net worth was invariably many times lower than that of white families with the same characteristics.

Donald Trump’s Assault on the Enlightenment | Foreign Policy

The principles that Trump aims to defeat include the bedrock tenets of the Enlightenment and of American democracy — that rational thought, informed debate, and measured discourse form the basis of good government.

White supremacy is more than racism?

“With the exception of actual neo-Nazis and a few others, there isn't anyone in America who's trying to promote the idea that whites are inherently superior to blacks or Latinos,” he argued. “Conversely, there are loads of Americans who display signs of overt racism—or unconscious bias or racial insensitivity or resentment over loss of status—in varying degrees. This isn't just pedantic. It matters. It's bad enough that liberals toss around charges of racism with more abandon than we should, but it's far worse if we start calling every sign of racial animus—big or small, accidental or deliberate—white supremacy. I can hardly imagine a better way of proving to the non-liberal community that we're all a bunch of out-of-touch nutbars who are going to label everyone and everything we don't like as racist.”

Alt takes on unemployment

Yes, true: there are approximately seven million more Americans in poverty now than when Obama was elected. On the other hand, the economy under Obama has gained about seven times as many jobs as it did under Bush; even given the financial meltdown, the unemployment rate has dropped to just below the historical average. But, yes: the poverty rate is up by 1.6 percentage points since 2008. Then again the number of Americans in poverty fell by nearly 1.2 million between 2012 and 2013. However, true: the proportion of people who depend on welfare for the majority of their income has increased (although it was also increasing under Bush). And under Obama unemployment has dropped, G.D.P. growth has been “robust,” and there have been close to seventy straight months of job growth. But, O.K.: there has indeed been a “skyrocketing” in the number of Americans needing some form of means-tested federal aid, although Obama’s initiatives kept some six million people out of poverty in 2009, including more than two million children.

Who Are All These Trump Supporters?

If you are, as I am, a sentimental middle-aged person who cherishes certain Coplandian notions about the essential goodness of the nation, seeing this kind of thing in person—adults shouting wrathfully at one another with no intention of persuasion, invested only in escalating spite—will inject a palpable sadness into your thinning, under-exercised legs, and you may find yourself collapsing, post-rally, against a tree in a public park, feeling hopeless. Craving something positive (no more fighting, no more invective, please, please), forcing yourself to your feet, you may cross a busy avenue and find, in a mini-mall themed like Old Mexico, a wedding about to begin. Up will walk the bridesmaids, each leading, surprisingly, a dog on a leash, and each dog is wearing a tutu, and one, a puppy too small to be trusted in a procession, is being carried, in its tutu, in the arms of its bridesmaid.

America the random

“There could be no politics which gave warmth to one’s body until the country had recovered its imagination, its pioneer lust for the unexpected and incalculable,” Norman Mailer wrote in 1960.

Nice Cargo Shorts! You’re Sleeping on the Sofa - WSJ

Fashion guru Tim Gunn said in a 2007 interview with Reuters that cargo shorts were the least fashionable item of clothing in his closet. British tabloid Daily Express called cargo shorts “a humiliation for any man over 21 and should be sold only after proof of age has been presented.”

A very bad sign for all but America's biggest cities - Chicago Tribune

In the economic recovery of the early 1990s, 125 counties combined to generate half the total new business establishments in the country. In this recovery, half the growth has been generated by just 20 counties.

A portrait of Trump the donor: Free rounds of golf, but no personal cash

Since the first day of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has said that he gave more than $102 million to charity in the past five years. To back up that claim, Trump’s campaign compiled a list of his contributions — 4,844 of them, filling 93 pages. But, in that massive list, one thing was missing. Not a single one of those donations was actually a personal gift of Trump’s own money. Instead, according to a Washington Post analysis, many of the gifts that Trump cited to prove his generosity were free rounds of golf, given away by his courses for charity auctions and raffles.

How John Roberts Can Honor Scalia's Legacy - Bloomberg View

Should Roberts fail to speak up -- or, worse, condone the Senate’s stonewalling -- public perceptions of the court’s partisanship may harden. Roberts may prefer to stay out of a political fight, and the head of the judicial branch of government is right not to want to get too involved in the debates of the legislative branch. But he can also demonstrate his neutrality by stating that long delays are neither contemplated by the Constitution nor in the country’s best interest. Republicans may well ignore him. But such a step would be a credit to his tenure as chief justice and to the reputation of the court.

Cars in the USA

A 2011 study at the University of California-Berkeley found that the United States has somewhere close to a billion parking spots. Since there are only 253 million passenger cars and light trucks in the country, that means we have roughly four times more parking spaces than vehicles. If you totaled up all the area devoted to parking, it'd be roughly 6,500 square miles, bigger than Connecticut.

Poker shaped American markets

Poker is an American game (invented on the frontier in the early 1800s) with American sensibilities (the decidedly anti-monarchical bent that ranks the ace above the king). But what made it truly special was its use of chips—a novel idea at the time. These markers freely flowed between individuals, creating upstart economies complete with risk, debt, and credit, all in a time and place where actual currency was sparse and stagnant. It makes sense, Brown asserts, that the first futures markets sprouted up in poker-crazy parts of the country, some two decades after the game first became popular. “Futures exchanges are populated by tough, brawling innovators who often make fortunes or lose fortunes,” Brown tells the class. Poker games are named after places that were populated by these types of people—Texas, Omaha, Chicago, etc. That’s why, he argues, “there is no poker game named after any place except places where, if you lose all your money in a game … you float down to New Orleans.”

Iowa neighborhoods and churches

To explain Iowa’s swing state status, Lasley notes that Iowa has had a reputation as a conservative state with values that focus on farm, faith, and family. But in Iowa, those community values also tend to have what Lasley called a “progressive edge”: Iowa has never had segregated schools and in 1851 became the second state to legalize interracial marriage. In 2009, Iowa became the third state to legalize same-sex marriage. “It’s hard to hate someone when you have to live next to them and you depend on them for help and you sit elbow to elbow with them in the pew every Sunday morning,” Birkby says. “This is what has always made Iowa so great. We are great neighbors, because we have to be. Or we were anyway.”

Jaywalking as a crime

She and her children were struck by an onrushing van, and her 4-year-old son was killed. The driver, it was later discovered, had alcohol and painkillers in his system. He had two previous hit-and-runs on his record and was visually impaired in his left eye. The driver pleaded guilty to fleeing the scene of the accident and served six months in prison. Nelson, soon after the funeral was held for her son, was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, reckless conduct, and crossing a roadway in an inappropriate manner—in other words, jaywalking. These charges, in collaboration, carried a penalty of up to three years in prison. In the end, Nelson was sentenced to 12 months of probation, for doing nothing more than trying to get her children home.

Tony remembers Born to Run

how about this for the funniest joke in the world: springsteen was about to be fired from Columbia. his first two records (the wild and the innocent, and greetings from asbury park) were not really flops, but the label were disappointed with their sales. they wanted to give Bruce just one. more. chance. and that last chance turned out to be the mona lisa: born to run. the joke is today labels dont give bands three records. you get one. one and done. theres no vision theres no patience. theres no artist DEVELOPMENT. as much as i love bruce’s first two records, and trust me LOVE is the word, theyre not born to run.

America's religious divide

Given the power of right-wing religiosity in this country it’s not surprising that there should be a very fierce atheist and rationalist countermovement. I am actually one of these people who really likes watching those YouTube videos with titles like, “Christopher Hitchens owns idiotic Texan religionist” or whatever. I actually watch that stuff and enjoy it. But when I drift down to the comments section, I’m always amazed anew that there are quite so many atheists in this country, and that they are quite so completely fanatical. That is to say, if you are unwise enough, as I have been, to write a sort of plague on both their houses type of piece, in which you are mildly critical of certain elements of the new atheism as well as being fairly obviously critical of religiosity, you get no quarter from the atheistic camp.

The economics of poor policing in poor towns

There are almost fifty municipalities in North County. The officers in some of the towns are not just fighting crime; they also issue countless traffic tickets and ordinance-violation citations. The local governments often rely on the fines generated by tickets and violations to balance their budgets. (In 2013, the town of Edmundson, which comprises less than a square mile, issued nearly five thousand traffic tickets.) Police officers, meanwhile, can be paid as little as ten dollars an hour, according to Kevin Ahlbrand, the president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. Ahlbrand says that the low pay can create “unprofessional police officers,” adding, “You get what you pay for.”

Call Donald Trump's Cell Phone and Ask Him About His Important Ideas

If it is the case—as Trump’s release of Graham’s number implicitly argues—that our political discourse improves when voters can ring up candidates on their private cell phones, then we are happy to add Trump’s cell phone number to the body of public knowledge. You can reach Donald Trump at 917-756-8000.

Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage - Americas - World - The Independent

In response to critics Ms Corgatelli quoted the Bible on hunting: "Genesis 9:3 says, 'Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.' Genesis 27:3 says, 'Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me,'" she wrote.

Why "black lives matter" matters

TL;DR: The phrase "Black lives matter" carries an implicit "too" at the end; it's saying that black lives should also matter. Saying "all lives matter" is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to.

What Donald Trump was up to while John McCain was a prisoner of war

“One of the first things I did was join Le Club, which at the time was the hottest club in the city and perhaps the most exclusive–like Studio 54 at its height,” he wrote. “Its membership included some of the most successful men and the most beautiful women in the world. It was the sort of place where you were likely to see a wealthy seventy-five-year old guy walk in with three blondes from Sweden. “It turned out to be a great move for me, socially and professionally. I met a lot of beautiful young single women, and I went out almost every night,” he added. “Actually, I never got involved with any of them very seriously. These were beautiful women, but many of them couldn’t carry on a normal conversation.”

Political tees off to a slow start?

Abdul Rashid, chief operating officer of Bayside, says that multiple candidates have ordered tens of thousands of tees, and one candidate—he won’t say who—has ordered over 100,000. When others join the fray, he continues, the process of ordering the shirts is easy. “We have millions of T-shirts in our warehouses, ready to ship." Pricing for the shirts vary widely. Rand Paul’s tee was easily the cheapest at just $20.75, including shipping and handling. Bernie Sanders and Rick Perry were the only other candidates whose shirts fell under the $30 threshold. Tees from Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz were the most expensive, by far—$36.69 and $36, respectively. For context, a graphic T-shirt from high-end retailer Steven Alan goes for $32, and Wal-Mart sells more than 20 graphic tees for less than $5.

Black as the ink blot

Racism is the fact that “White” means “normal” and that anything else is different. Racism is our acceptance of an all white Lord of the Rings cast because of “historical accuracy,” ignoring the fact that this is a world with an entirely fictionalized history. Even when we make shit up, we want it to be white. And racism is the fact that we all accept that it is white. Benedict Cumberbatch playing Khan in Star Trek. Khan, who is from India. Is there anyone Whiter than Benedict fucking Cumberbatch? What? They needed a “less racial” cast because they already had the Black Uhura character?

George Will Confirms Nixon's Vietnam Treason

On November 2, 1968, LBJ received an FBI report saying Chernnault told the South Vietnamese ambassador that "she had received a message from her boss: saying the Vietnamese should "hold on, we are gonna win." As Will confirms, Vietnamese did "hold on," the war proceeded and Nixon did win, changing forever the face of American politics—with the shadow of treason permanently embedded in its DNA. The treason came in 1968 as the Vietnam War reached a critical turning point. President Lyndon Johnson was desperate for a truce between North and South Vietnam.  LBJ had an ulterior motive: his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, was in a tight presidential race against Richard Nixon. With demonstrators in the streets, Humphrey desperately needed a cease-fire to get him into the White House.  Johnson had it all but wrapped it. With a combination of gentle and iron-fisted persuasion, he forced the leaders of South Vietnam into an all-but-final agreement with the North. A cease-fire was imminent, and Humphrey’s election seemed assured. But at the last minute, the South Vietnamese pulled out. LBJ suspected Nixon had intervened to stop them from signing a peace treaty.  In the Price of Power (1983), Seymour Hersh revealed Henry Kissinger—then Johnson’s adviser on Vietnam peace talks—secretly alerted Nixon’s staff that a truce was imminent.  According to Hersh, Nixon “was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government [of South Vietnam] making it clear that a Nixon presidency would have different views on peace negotiations.” Johnson was livid. He even called the Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen, to complain that “they oughtn’t be doing this. This is treason.” “I know,” was Dirksen’s feeble reply. Johnson blasted Nixon about this on November 3rd, just prior to the election. As Robert Parry of Consortiumnews.com has written: “when Johnson confronted Nixon with evidence of the peace-talk sabotage, Nixon insisted on his innocence but acknowledged that he knew what was at stake.”  Said Nixon: “My, I would never do anything to encourage….Saigon not to come to the table….Good God, we’ve got to get them to Paris or you can’t have peace.” But South Vietnamese President General Theiu—a notorious drug and gun runner—did boycott Johnson’s Paris peace talks. With the war still raging, Nixon claimed a narrow victory over Humphrey. He then made Kissinger his own national security adviser.  In the four years between the sabotage and what Kissinger termed “peace at hand” just prior to the 1972 election, more than 20,000 US troops died in Vietnam. More than 100,000 were wounded. More than a million Vietnamese were killed.  But in 1973, Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the same settlement he helped sabotage in 1968.

Don Featherstone, Inventor of the Pink Flamingo (in Plastic), Dies at 79 - The New York Times

To sculpt his first assignment, a three-dimensional duck, Mr. Featherstone went out and bought a live one, keeping it tenderly in the sink as he copied it before releasing it in a local park. His next assignment was a flamingo. These proved harder to come by. Working from photographs in National Geographic, he created a three-foot-high creature, typically sold as one of a pair: one bird upright, the other head down, as if grazing. With its insouciant stance and saturated pink promise of endless summer, Mr. Featherstone’s flamingo blew his duck out of the water. An index of its novelty that first year could be found in the Sears catalog, which offered the birds for $2.76 a pair but saw fit to include instructions: “Place in garden, lawn, to beautify landscape.”