U.S. – Top 1% Owns More than Bottom 90%

SourceThe Blue Street Journal  on Facebook

When I saw this graphic in my Facebook News Feed, I immediately recalled the days (early 1980’s) when we thought how unjust and oppressive it was that 14 families owned 90% of the land in El Salvador, and we said no wonder the people revolted. Now the U.S. is the same, but where is the revolt?

A Facebook Friend commented “The problem is that the 90% are easily distracted by lotteries, Faux News, terrorist attacks, wars, immigration, right to life issues and gay rights. They get sucked into voting for special issues. The 1% NEVER get distracted by those things. For them, every issue is only about how it affects their pocketbooks. The issues are adopted by Republicans because they draw votes; not because the 1% care or are even affected by them.”

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Processed Meats Too Dangerous to Eat, Cancer Link Confirmed

I was shocked to learn that respected cancer research organizations have been publishing studies since 2005 documenting the link between processed meat and cancer.  The University of Hawaii study of 2005 “found that those who ate the most processed meat had a 67% increased risk of developing the disease compared to those with the lowest intake. (BBC).  Then in May 2011, the blog of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reported “Processed meat is so strongly linked with colorectal cancer that no one should ever eat it, according to a new report by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research.”  More recently, in 2012, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) concluded “Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption.

What is wrong with the mainstream media been that such important health information was not widely disseminated?  I only learned yesterday when a Facebook friend published a link to a recent blog post reprinting an article from a 2012 article by The Institute for Natural Healing.  The information seems so important that I am reprinting large excerpts from the article.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has completed a detailed review of more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer.1  Bottom line: Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption. Consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products for the rest of their lives.

Processed meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, sandwich meat, packaged ham, pepperoni, salami and virtually all red meat used in frozen prepared meals. They are usually manufactured with a carcinogenic ingredient known as sodium nitrite.2 This is used as a color fixer by meat companies to turn packaged meats a bright red color so they look fresh. Unfortunately, sodium nitrite also results in the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines in the human body. And this leads to a sharp increase in cancer risk for those who eat them.

A 2005 University of Hawaii study found that processed meats increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67 percent.3 Another study revealed that every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.4 These are alarming numbers. Note that these cancer risks do not come from eating fresh, non-processed meats. They only appear in people who regularly consume processed meat products containing sodium nitrite.

Sodium nitrite appears predominantly in red meat products (you won’t find it in chicken or fish products). Here’s a short list of food items to check carefully for sodium nitrite and monosodium glutamate (MSG), another dangerous additive:

Beef jerky, Bacon, Sausage, Hot dogs, Sandwich meat, Frozen pizza with meat, Canned soups and frozen meals with meat, Ravioli and meat pasta foods, Kid’s meals containing red meat, Sandwich meat used at popular restaurants, Nearly all red meats sold at public schools, restaurants, hospitals, hotels and theme parks.

If sodium nitrite is so dangerous to humans, why do the FDA and USDA continue to allow this cancer-causing chemical to be used? The answer, of course, is that food industry interests now dominate the actions by U.S. government regulators. The USDA, for example, tried to ban sodium nitrite in the late 1970′s but was overridden by the meat industry.5 It insisted the chemical was safe and accused the USDA of trying to “ban bacon.”

Today, the corporations that dominate American food and agricultural interests hold tremendous influence over the FDA and USDA. Consumers are offered no real protection from dangerous chemicals intentionally added to foods, medicines and personal care products.

References:

1 http://dietandcancerreport.org/expert_report/recommendations/recommendation_animal_foods.php

2 http://voices.yahoo.com/sodium-nitrite-processed-meats-causes-cancer-2522974.html?cat=5

3 http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=15642&news_iv_ctrl=0&abbr=pr_

4 http://organicconsumers.org/foodsafety/processedmeat050305.cfm

5 http://today.com/id/16361276/ns/today-food/t/things-you-need-know-about-deli-meats/

The American Institute for Cancer Research, of which I was previously unaware, has worked for 30 years supporting research and public education about the relationship between diet, nutrition and cancer (unlike better known cancer societies which seem to focus on finding cures).  The American Institute, along with similar organizations in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and the Netherlands, are partners in the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) International .  I only wish this group, or some other, would devote funds to researching environmental causes of cancer – I can’t help but believe that all the chemicals and other pollutants in the air we breathe and the water we drink are major contributors to cancer.

Income Gap: Dramatic Increase 1967-2010

The chart below vividly illustrates how the gap between the wealthy and the middle class has steadily grown since 1967.  Note the chart is in current dollars (1957 income reported in 1967 dollars and 2010 income reported in 2010 dollars).  And we all know that a dollar today won’t buy nearly as much as a dollar would in 1967, so the next chart reports in constant dollars.

Household-Inc-Current-Dollars

The chart below shows the mean (average) household income with all years reported in the equivalent of 2010 dollars.  This chart makes clear that the vast majority of Americans have hardly improved their economic status since 1967.  U.S. economic policies have NOT raised all boats – only the boats of the top 20% and the super rich (top 1%).  This helps us understand why the rising stock market is not an accurate indicator of the economic well-being of the majority.  Gains in productivity and profits have gone to the top earners (& dividend receivers), they have not been equitably distributed to the workers who actually produce more per hour.

Household-Inc-InflationAdj

Source:  Doug Short,  “U.S. Household Incomes: A 44-Year Perspective,:  dshort.com, Sept. 18, 2012.  Online at http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/Household-Income-Distribution.php

Obama Administration going overboard in use of Espionage Act

I’m no lover of Fox News, but for the Obama Administration to assert that a reporter could be a “criminal co-conspirator” under the Espionage Act for receiving and publishing leaked information deemed classified, is beyond the pale.

Today’s news stories reveal that the Justice Dep’t got emails of a Fox reporter on grounds that he might be a “criminal co-conspirator” in the leaking of classified info.  What was this important classified info?  A story about North Korea planning to respond to tighter U.N. sanctions with a nuclear missile test.  This is highly sensitive info whose publication will endanger U.S. security?  Give me a break!

More important is the fact that it is not illegal to publish classified information under U.S. law.  “[B]ecause of this, the DOJ appears to now be arguing that “a journalist can be guilty of crimes for ‘soliciting’ the disclosure of classified information” as a way to “[criminalize] the act of investigative journalism itself.” Reports the Huffington Post  of 5/20/13 quoting Glenn Greenwald, a Guardian columnist and former constitutional lawyer.

The Obama administration seems to be pursuing leakers and whistle-blowers to an extent not seen even in the Nixon administration, famous for its ‘enemies list’.  From the Huffington Post of 5/18/12 we learn:

The Obama administration has charged six government officials accused of providing classified information to the media with violations of the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law intended to prohibit aiding the enemy. That’s more uses of Espionage Act for that purpose than under all previous presidential administrations combined.

While the Obama administration hasn’t prosecuted those responsible for torture during the Bush years, it is taking a strong stand against a former official believed to have supplied information to the media about use of torture and other controversial tactics during the previous administration.

 In another notable case, the DOJ charged Thomas Drake under the Espionage Act, claiming the former National Security Agency official provided classified information of gross NSA mismanagement to a Baltimore Sun reporter.

Fortunately, it seems in some of these cases, the judges have a better sense of freedom of the press and the need for an informed public than the Administration does.  In the Dep’t of Justice’s third attempt to prevent a subpoena against N.Y. Times reporter James Risen from being quashed, Judge Gregory said  “The beneficiary of the privilege is the public … the people’s right to know. We need to know what the government is doing, . .. The king never wants anyone to disclose.”  Quoted in Huffington Post of 5/18/12.

 I strongly agree with a commenter on this 5/18/12 Huffington Post article who said “How refreshing it would have been if the government had put as much effort into looking into the records and prosecuting the banksters and fraudsters who caused the meltdown as they have in persecuting James Risen for his excellent and honest work as a journalist and protector of democracy.”

For more examples of the Obama Administrations’ war on whistle blowers, see” Obama Whistleblower Prosecutions Lead To Chilling Effect On Press,” in the Huffington Post of 4/16/13.

Commonplace Books: the Social Media of Yesteryear

Tom Standage in his blog post How commonplace books were like Tumblr and Pinterest summarizes a talk by Lee Humphreys in which she examined “how people in the 19th century would share their diaries with visiting families and friends by reading aloud: . . it was only in the early 20th century that diaries and journals came to be seen as private documents.  it was only in the early 20th century that diaries and journals came to be seen as private documents”

Standage continues by comparing Commonplace Books to today’s social media:

In my forthcoming book “Writing on the Wall” I make a similar argument about an earlier form of journal, the commonplace book. This was a kind of scrapbook, popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, into which people would copy items of interest to create a personal trove of valuable information.  Commonplace books that survive from the Tudor period contain a huge variety of texts, . . Sonnets, ballads and epigrams jostle with diary entries, recipes, lists of ships or Cambridge colleges and transcriptions of speeches. Collecting useful snippets of information so that they could be easily retrieved when needed, or re-read to spark new ideas and connections, was one of the functions of a commonplace book.

People would sometimes lend their commonplace books or miscellanies to their friends, who could then page through the entries and copy anything of interest into their own books. The similarities and overlaps between several manuscript collections compiled at Oxford University indicate widespread sharing of both individual texts and entire collections among students and their tutors, for example. . . Only a minority of the texts that people circulated were original compositions; most material was quoted from other sources. The same is true of modern social-media systems: posting links and snippets found elsewhere is standard practice on blogs, Facebook and Twitter, and on some platforms, such as Pinterest and Tumblr, more than 80% of items shared are “repins” or “reblogs” of items previously posted by other users.

I have always been fascinated by the concept of Commonplace Books and started compiling one of my own for the year 2012, drawing on material I had posted to Facebook, to my ProfPat blog (about digital pedagogy and teaching a course on Women and Computers), and on items recorded in my notetaking TiddlyWiki software (described earlier here).  Then it occurred to me that it would be handy to have an online version – with clickable links – as well as a printed version, which is why I started this blog.

Crowdsourcing Serengeti Photos

“After Ali Swanson, an ecology researcher from the University of Minnesota, set up 225 cameras over 400 square miles of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, she was hit by the curse of Big Data: how do you make sense of the head-spinning contents of more than a million photographs?” (Daily Beast)

To identify so many photos, the researchers decided to enlist the aid of the public.  Anyone could register at the Snapshot Serengeti Project and begin identifying the animals and birds in the photos.  Multiple identifications of each photo help ensure accuracy, although the researchers also check things over.  The project, which began in December of 1012 was so popular that by the following February two years of photos were already classified.  The project is now engaged in uploading more photos for the public to identify.

The Serengeti Project is part of a larger University of Minnesota Lion Project which  “has been studying African lions in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area since the 1960’s. At any given time, our field teams keep track of about 330 lions in 24 prides in the Serengeti, and 50–60 lions in 5 prides on the floor of Ngorongoro Crater. . . over 5,000 lions have been included in the Serengeti and Crater studies over the past 40+ years.”  (SnapshotSerengeti)  To learn more about the findings from this lion research, read the blog written at the Snapshot Serengeti web site.

The Snapshot Serengeti Lion Project is one of many crowdsourcing projects located at Zooniverse where the public can assist in such projects as transcribing weather data from Royal Navy WW1 era ships (OldWeather) to searching for planets (Planet Hunters).

Other popular crowdsourcing projects include:

  •  Transcribe Bentham, the University College London’s efforts to digitize all the unpublished manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham
  • Project organized by the New York Public Library to transcribe and digitize more than 40,000 old menus
  • The U.S. Geological Survey’s Bird Phrenology Program which asks the public to transcribe note cards recording bird migration observations
  • The Sixties Project which encourages members of the 60’s generation to contribute their own personal narratives.  The project also includes online exhibits, links to primary documents, and the online journal  Vietnam Generation.

Growing Gap between Rich and Everyone Else

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, between the years of 2009 and 2011:

  • Average Net Worth per Household of richest 7% INCREASED by 28%
  • Average Net Worth per Household of other 93% DECREASED by 4%

PEW-HouseholdWealth-ChangedTitle

  • There are 8 million households in the upper 7% and their mean net worth in 2011 was $3,173,895
  • Of the 111 million households in the other 93%, mean net worth in 2011 was $113,817

The richest 7% of households owned 63% of all household wealth in 2011.

The income gap is also increasing

The top 20% of earners received half of all household income.

Between 1979 and 2007

Incomes for the richest 1% increased by a whopping 275%, while

Incomes for middle 60% of Americans increased only 40%.

Sources:

For Household Net Worth Data: Richard Fry and Paul Taylor  “A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%,” Pew Research Center.

For Income Data: Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press, in “Pew: 93% of households lost net worth 2009-11,” USA Today, April 23, 2013.