Bezos Sticks It to Amazon Workers: Minimum Wage Up, Earnings Down

Make Amazon Pay

Here’s a headline grabber: “Richest varmit in the world breaks arm patting himself on the back for raising wages of his workers.” Fake news? Consider the facts: the reigning king of U.S. oligarchs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, announces what purports to be a historic income boost for workers. Operating on the principle that perception is the only reality that counts, he makes sure to get lots of media coverage. It works like a charm. Eager to change the subject from economic inequality to keeping their jobs, a bi-partisan group of politicians aren’t about to second guess a prospective campaign donor even one as soulless as Amazon’s boss. When will our “see no evil, hear no evil” elected leaders hear the voices of outraged workers at the mercy of corporate moguls who promise the moon but deliver “smoke and mirrors?” Seems like the only cure for the lopsided U.S. economic system is to reduce the incentives for bad behavior on the part of the captains of industry. Congress and the president have the power to make workers’ lives so much better. Care to make a bet on how likely they are to do it? Read “Bezos Sticks It to Amazon Workers: Minimum Wage Up, Earnings
Down
” before betting the ranch.

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A Country Afraid of its 3-Year-Olds is Approaching Insanity

PRESCHOOL TO PRISON

Holy cow, is it criminal insanity or just business as usual in the exceptional nation? Judge for yourself. What benighted theory of child development directs the U.S. education bureaucracy to wage war on 3 and 4-year-old preschoolers? For what heinous crimes? A gun hidden in their onesies? Not quite. Just a bunch of little kids suspended or even expelled for doing what little kids do best: annoying the hell out of their caregivers. Rambunctious behavior, temper tantrums, defiance —used to be a case of kids being kids. Not any more if you live in the empire. The screws are tightening, the vise-like grip of repression holds our smallest, most vulnerable, predominantly children of color, to the zero tolerance policies of a fearful nation. Easy as one, two, three. Discipline them for infractions they are too young to comprehend, label them as “troublemakers,” punish them with suspensions or expulsions when they fail to “reform.” Frontier justice—tried, convicted and sentenced. Due process need not apply. Problem solved. It’s not really about education, is it? Running out of countries to devastate, the U.S. turns inward to find easier targets. At last, a war the greatest military on earth can win. To read the shocking details, don’t miss “A Country Afraid of its 3-Year-Olds is Approaching Insanity.

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She Spoke, He Bellowed… The Democrats Have Only Themselves to Blame for This Mess

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat what hath the past wrought? Dial back a few years to November 4, 2008. Obama was elected president that day. His base —union workers who needed to kick start organizing drives, middle and working class Americans who needed a fix to growing inequality, poor, disabled and elderly Americans trying to hold onto their meager benefits, and all Americans hungering for universal healthcare (like most of the unexceptional world)— thought they had won the lottery. “

Yes we can,” he promised in campaign mode. The bloom came off the rose when the tune in the White House changed to “I’d better not.” Democrats have long memories. Eight years later when Obama tried to hand the baton of leadership to Clinton, his base responded “No, we won’t” vote for four more years of an Obama clone. Deciding that Donald J. Trump was the lesser evil, they voted with their feet (didn’t vote) and with their choice (not-Clinton). The downside —Trump won with all the attendant misery that caused. Last week’s spectacle, a side-effect of victory, —eleven Republican men bent on reshaping the Supreme Court in their misshapen image —didn’t come out of the blue. Echoes of Democratic failure are all over that looming catastrophe. Read “She Spoke, He Bellowed…The Democrats Have Only Themselves to Blame For This Mess” to find out the true extent of their culpability.

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U.S. Drug Prices Are Too Damn High

Leaping Lizards, have you ever seen such a swindle? Profits sky-high in the $3.5 trillion U.S. no-care health industry. Drug companies, in particular, getting away with murder (sometimes literally) making off with three-quarters of a trillion dollars of that pot of gold. What are the American people getting? If your answer is ripped off, you’re on your way to understanding how drug company profits are forcing millions of Americans to choose between their meds and food on the table. But wait it’s a lot more complicated than that. Thanks to an indifferent government that lets the vast marketing machine known as the drug industry hook you with lying promises their drugs will make you healthy, wealthy and wise, half of Americans take two or more drugs every day. Do you know what the drug companies do when a new drug gets “hot?” Raise the price, in some cases 1,000% or more. In the absence of regulatory agencies overseeing this larcenous bunch, who’s really guarding the hen house? The foxes of course — In this case the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) charged with overseeing the health and well-being of the American public. Instead they appear to be the official cheerleaders for the profit-hungry drug companies. In one instance, they greenlighted a drug that had already caused hundreds of deaths but promised to be a blockbuster for the drug maker (cost: a whopping $48.00/tablet). Then there’s that merry band of gougers, grifters, and knuckleheads we euphemistically call our elected representatives in a congress whose supine, cowardly inaction gives “the price gouging and tax dodging [of the drug industry] a veneer of legitimacy,” That’s how it goes in the empire. Plan on skipping dinner if you dare to read “U.S. Drug Prices Are Too Damn High.”

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The Legacy Preference Scam: Closing the Door to Social Mobility in U.S. Colleges


What have we here? The Harvard Crimson, Harvard U’s “paper of record,” has just completed a survey of the class of 2021 (this year’s incoming freshman). If you’ve been paying attention, you won’t be surprised to learn that 29% of the class have relatives who attended Harvard. To make matters worse, things are getting worse. In a 2015 survey of incoming freshman, the same paper reported that only 16% of the class had a mommy or daddy or other close relative who called Harvard alma mater. These alumni children (“legacy admits”) get a leg-up when they apply to Harvard, Yale, and other highly selective colleges. So much for the canard that egalitarianism and meritocracy are the bedrock of American democracy. The smart money knows that the U.S. has never had much truck with those pesky values reserving them for pre-election rhetoric. Sadly, it doesn’t take much more than highfalutin double-talk to convince a majority of gullible Americans that their kids have the same chance of being admitted to Harvard (or Yale or any other prized institution) provided they have super grades, high (perfect) scores on standardized tests, and fabulous recommendations. Here’s the associate dean of admissions at Notre Dame on what an ordinary kid really has to do to overcome the two-tier admission system — “walk on water.” That’s the way it is in the empire and don’t let sleazy politicians and duplicitous college administrators tell you any different. But “the times they are changing.” In “The Legacy Preference Scam: Closing the Door to Social Mobility in U.S. Colleges” we point the finger at the outrageous behavior of our most prized colleges and universities but also bring you good news — how a courageous band of first generation Ivy League students are stepping up, stepping out and agitating for change. You owe it to yourself to check it out.

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The Ugly Face of Government: How It Threatens You and Everything You Hold Dear


Commies under the bed, Russian bad guys in the outhouse, Russian spies trying to take down our electric grid (after they destroy “our democracy’)— the derangement syndrome is alive and well in the mainstream media (and sadly in some of the alternate media as well). The media is “all in” as they solemnly pronounce our way of life in a death spiral caused by the Russians who “hate us for our freedom.” (despite recent disclosure that our freedom is already taking a big hit courtesy of our own Department of Homeland Security). Few would deny that the U.S. landscape is littered with uncertainty, fear and unrest. Despite what you may have heard, there’s no evidence that the Russians are to blame. There’s plenty of evidence to look no further than homegrown corruption and self-dealing. We look at how a bought-and-paid for president and a Congress on the corporate dole are reshaping federal agencies. If you want to know how catering to the wealthy and powerful can destroy an exceptional nation, check out “The Ugly Face of Government: How It Threatens You and Everything You Hold Dear

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In the U.S. You Have To Be a One Percenter To Afford College: Not In the Rest of the World

Is the sky falling Chicken Little? Or are those screams of pain emanating from 44 million throats the price of trying to get ahead in the exceptional nation? Where higher education is big business and big business is the domain of U.S. movers and shakers, things quickly go from bad to loathsome. It’s not like that anywhere else in the world, even among economically challenged nations. While most of the rest of the world’s young people are debt-free and college-educated (in over 2 dozen countries, a college education is free, considered a rite of passage), in the exceptional nation, over four million indebted U.S. students are defaulting on their loans and saying good-bye to the prospects of a future of unlimited possibility. If any further proof is needed of how an exceptional nation operates, consider the latest outrage courtesy of the Department of Education. Secretary Betsy DeVos, one of Trump’s favorite billionaires, has hatched a plan to redirect federal funds out of a program intended for student support and academic enrichment toward a major investment in guns and ammo meant to arm teachers and school administrators. (What could possibly go wrong with that maneuver?) if that doesn’t depress you, focus on her drive to deep-six Obama-era rules designed to forgive the debt of students who graduate with enormous debt and non-existent earnings. With an Office of Education staffed by flunkies from for-profit diploma mills and charter school wheeler-dealers, how bad can it get? Read “In the U.S. You Have To Be a One-Percenter To Afford College: Not In the Rest of the World” and find out how the masters of the universe are sucking you and your children dry.

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American Justice: As Unequal As American Economics

What in Sam Hill is going on? Donald Trump revoking security clearances of the assorted also-ran ex-ghouls who used to be officials in what the government and beltway media would have you believe is the “best and brightest’ intelligence community in the world. They said that fifty years ago -it wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now. Those in danger of losing their pot of gold (aka their security clearance} include two admitted perjurers, an Obama apologist who was willing to publicly lie about the administration’s dirty dealings in Libya and an army general who uses his security clearance to shill for big, fat government contracts for the defense industry. There is however a real threat to Americans who don’t have security clearances and powerful friends in D.C. It’s all spelled out in the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) sections 1021, 1022. Back in 1942, also in the midst of war (six less than the U.S. is involved in today) FDR, like Obama, considered a “man of the people” detained over 120,000 Japanese-Americans without charge or trial in military concentration camps. Think history can’t repeat itself? Read this article, and don’t think it can’t happen again.

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Suspicious Angels Gets It Wrong

Want to gloat a little? Run don’t walk to “Suspicious Angels Gets It Wrong.” That’s right, we are confessing that our overly optimistic hope that Neil Gorsuch would grow a moral vision consonant with democratic values flew in the face of our recognition of how an increasingly authoritarian, billionaire-run government, with leaders from both sides of the aisle profiting by our endless war strategy chooses justices who know the game and how to play it. We make up for our egregious faux pas by shining the light on departing Justice Arthur Kennedy, not swing-justice Kennedy, but right-wing Justice Kennedy appointed by the right’s lodestone, Ronald Reagan and never forgetting for a moment whose beat he was marching to. What does it all come down to? Democracy sold to the highest bidder and a Supreme Court willing to sanctify the transactions which include installing a president, legalizing voter suppression laws and dealing a death-blow to the U.S. union movement. Abortion rights are probably their next target. Justice takes on new meaning when democracy is corrupted by wealth and power. One thing for sure – the U.S. has left its democratic “cred” in the dust and the corporatist warmongers now control both politics and policy.

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Hijacking Your DNA: It Could Cost You Your Freedom

As propitious moments go, this is the perfect time to remind our readers of the perils of having your DNA analyzed by one of the rapidly multiplying genealogical research firms. Before you make this potentially life-changing decision, be sure to read this article for a no-holds-barred look at the pros (not many) and cons (lots and lots) of succumbing to the genealogical companies’ siren song.

Unfortunately, for 12 million people (mostly Americans), this warning comes too late. Their DNA is now co-owned by one of the four or five largest players in “genealogical research.” No doubt about it, business is booming. More people took genetic ancestry tests last year than in all previous years combined. Ancestry.com, the largest genealogy company, announced that it had tested more than seven million people, including two million during the last four months of 2017.

How did these eager beavers entice so many otherwise careful consumers into their spider’s web? The old-fashioned way—advertising.

More than a felt need of consumers, the evidence indicates that the testing boom has more to do with the prodigious sums these companies are dumping into advertising. In 2016, Ancestry.com spent $109 millions on TV and other media spots. 23andMe, a smaller company, doing business at the same lemonade stand spent $21 million.

This is big business. Considering the amount of money swirling around, the stakes are high. Corporate behemoths are after your DNA and it’s not altruism that’s driving the aggressive marketing. It’s profits. Once your DNA is permanently ensconced on the database of any one of these companies, profit-making opportunities abound.

Even the Feds might come calling (probably already have). When it comes to the government’s involvement in the DNA collecting of for-profit genealogy firms, one curious little “coincidence” comes to mind. The largest genealogy company in the world is located in Utah. The NSA (laughingly referred to as the “intelligence community”) has spent the past two years building the $1.7 billion Utah Data Center where gargantuan amounts of your data in the form of emails, phone calls, google searches and other sources will be stored. Once the supercomputers are rolled in, it will be all hands-on-deck, about 200 technicians roaming around the one million square foot facility dealing with what used to be considered private and personal information. Not in today’s national security-obsessed America.

Hmm…a million square feet of space waiting for purloined information and the largest DNA-data base company practically on the doorstep. Reason to worry? Read “Hijacking Your DNA: It Could Cost You Your Freedom” and decide for yourself.

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