The official poverty rate declined from 15 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent in 2013, although the number of Americans living in poverty remained statistically unchanged for the third year in a row. That’s largely because of population growth. Poverty is now starting to tick down as unemployment declines, and as more workers, who held at best part-time jobs in 2012, find full-time employment. Between 2012 and 2013, Census counted 2.8 million net new full-time workers in the United States, with many of those jobs marginally improving the prospects of families that had been living below the poverty line.
Last week, Apple pissed off quite a few music fans by automatically adding the new U2 album Songs Of Experience to the libraries of 500 million iTunes users. In the face of a mounting backlash, the tech giant launched a help page Monday with instructions on how to remove the album. Writing this weekend, Peter Cohen spoke for those who didn’t get the outrage:
[T]he inordinate amount of actual anger directed at Apple and U2 over this is so disproportional to the actual event, I’ve started to wonder about the mental state of some of those complaining. It’s really been off the charts. If you fall into that camp, let me speak very plainly: I have no sympathy for you. I have trouble thinking of a more self-indulgent, “first world problem” than saying “I hate this free new album I’ve been given.” For the past few days I’ve seen screeds posted on blogs and remarks on social media attacking Apple and U2 for invading privacy, for their NSA-like invasion of the sanctity of people’s music collections, claims of fascism, and a host of other utterly imagined insults. The resulting outrage has been disproportionate and more than a little sad.
Last year alone, 475 active service members took their own lives according to a report published last week by the Department of Defense. In the same year, 127 soldiers lost their lives in the line of duty reported icasualties.org — a website that has been documenting war deaths since the Iraq War in 2003. That’s the lowest level since 2008.
The same Department of Defense report said that 120 personnel took their own lives in the first quarter of 2014, a rate of nearly one soldier every day. That compares with 43 soldiers who lost their lives on the front line between January 1 and September 11, 2014.
The law seems to have effectively boosted insurance rates. Arit John explains:
The number of uninsured Americans fell 8 percent during the first three months of 2014, thanks to 3.8 million uninsured individuals gaining insurance, according to the Center for Disease Control. Put another way, the uninsured rate dropped from 20.4 percent to 18.4 percent among adults ages 18-64. This marks the first government study on health insurance after insurance through the health care law kicked in on January 1 and, as The New York Times notes, the numbers match up with previous independent surveys.
The important thing to note is that this survey is only through the end of March, meaning it doesn’t account for the surge of procrastinators who took advantage of the two week special enrollment period in early April.
I had a French Legionnaire’s hat with the back cover that comes up under. That’s what I wore the whole time, with a couple of different T-shirts. But I brought with me a Soviet officer’s uniform, something I got in Afghanistan years ago, which, when it gets cold at night, if you’ve got to wear something for the cold, that’s a great thing to wear …. And I had Moroccan flowing robes that I got in Morocco, and I thought, ‘Well, if everybody’s looking like Gandalf or something, I’m prepared.’ But they don’t.
Well, some do. Serious beardage all over the place.
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David Roberts contrasts preventing climate change with adapting to it. He focuses on the altruism of global warming prevention:
Remember the famous carbon time lag: Carbon emitted today affects temperatures 30 (or so) years from now. So mitigation today doesn’t actually benefit humanity today; it benefits humanity 30 years in the future, when the carbon that would have been emitted would have wrought its effects. It benefits people who are both spatially and temporally distant. That’s almost pure altruism.
Roberts sees climate adaption as “nearly the opposite” of that:
Aaron Blake highlights a Pew poll that shows Americans are united in their support for military action against ISIS:
But that unity is only a few inches deep. That’s because it’s becoming clear that Republicans are angling for a more active role in combating the Islamic State, while Democrats are very much concerned about so-called “mission creep” — i.e. getting too involved and not being able to go back. Pew asked people whether they were more concerned about going too far in Iraq and Syria or not going far enough. Republicans and conservatives both say overwhelmingly that they worry about not going far enough; Democrats and liberals worry more about doing too much. It’s basically Iraq 2004 — 10 years later.
And who was right then? Waldman entertains the possibility that the public isn’t being hysterical after all:
Leonid Bershidsky reflects on Angela Merkel’s latest response to it:
At Sunday’s rally, people held up signs that said “Jew-hate — Never Again,” but today’s anti-Semitism in Germany has little to do with its previous incarnation: Demonstrators from the euro-skeptic, anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland carried their own placards at the rally, saying: “Anti-Semitism Is Imported.” For once they were right.
The two men being held by police in connection with the Wuppertal attack are German Muslims, allegedly members of the increasingly active local Salafi community. Although Germany’s Jewish population has rebounded to about 200,000, from the post-World-War-II nadir of about 30,000, Muslims are much more numerous. Berlin, for example, has a Jewish population of about 30,000, and about 200,000 Muslims. …
Merkel’s difficulty in combating this new wave of anti-Semitism is that she cannot speak freely of its nature, because that might be interpreted as xenophobic.
Elias Groll and Simon Engler round up some of the worst offenders, like Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe:
“ISIS, they are really bad terrorists, they’re so bad even al Qaeda is afraid of them,” Inhofe told a local Fox station last month. “They’re crazy out there and they’re rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city and people just can’t believe that’s happening.”
Perhaps Inhofe is right, [counterterrorism chief Matthew] Olsen is wrong, and Islamic State militants are indeed plotting an attack right now inside America’s borders. American intelligence officials have certainly been wrong before about the threat posed by terror groups, and the Islamic State has alarmingly large numbers of fighters with American passports who could return to the U.S. to carry out strikes here at home. But the phrase “rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city” goes far beyond what experts inside and outside of government say about the group’s capabilities. There is no substance here, only speculation likely designed to inspire fear and drum up support for military action.
Weigel examines the partisan implications of threat inflation:
“As a friend put it to me: A tattoo isn’t the Word made flesh, but the flesh made word. It may strike old-fashioned types as pedestrian narcissism and adolescent conformity, and sometimes it surely is. But in a deeper and more troubling way, it is canny and subversive artifice, spiced with a moralistic claim to personal liberation. A tattoo is a personal statement but also an anthropological position that accords with the prevailing transvaluations of our time. It’s a wholly successful one, too, judging from the entertainment and sports worlds, and youth culture. With the mainstreaming of tattoos, another factor in the natural order falls away, yet one more inversion of nature and culture, natural law and human desire. That’s not an outcome the rationalizer’s regret. It’s precisely the point,” – Mark Bauerlein.