Mississippi Voters Reject Personhood Amendment |
Mississippi voters rejected a radical “personhood” constitutional amendment that defined a fertilized egg as a “person,” which effectively banned all abortions, birth control, and couples from conceiving children through in vitro fertilization. With even anti-choice activists concerned about the bill’s ambiguity, the amendment failed with 58 percent voting against. Noting that Mississippi ranks as one of the most anti-choice states in the nation, Planned Parenthood said voters “understood [the bill] Is government gone too far, and would have allowed government to have control over personal decisions that should be left up to a woman, her family, her doctor and her faith.”
AP: Ohio Repeals Anti-Labor Law, Senate Bill 5 |
The Associated Press reports that Ohio voters have resoundingly defeated Gov. John Kasich’s (R) anti-labor law, Senate Bill 5, delivering a significant blow to the beleaguered governor in his first year of office. The rejection marks a victory for Ohio’s teachers, firefighters, police, and veterans whose collective bargaining rights were stripped by the law. On MSNBC’s Ed Show, state Rep. Nina Turner (D) demanded that Kasich apologize to Ohioans for attacking workers’ rights instead of focusing on jobs.
This is the first vote on workers’ collective bargaining rights in the nation’s history and, as Plunderbund notes, marks the first time a governor has seen signature legislation rejected by voters in his or her first year.
I’m getting increasingly frustrated and confused by what seem like the illogic of movie-making economics (television seems much more clear to me, though I’m not sure why), and so I’m beseeching y’all:
1) What are the best things I should read about the economics of Hollywood generally? About cost controls, auditing, etc. on film projects? Is it just Arthur De Vany’s Hollywood Economics, or should I be looking at other things?
2) What are the best things I should read about the economics of special effects, and the impact of globalization on special effects costs, wages, working conditions?
If enough good suggestions come in and folks are interested, I’d be open to doing a bit of a reading group. In the mean time, though, send me everything: books, magazine articles, scholarly journals, whatever.
By Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton on Nov 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm
Before the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear program dropped today, neoconservative hawks were already using its findings — available to them only through often anonymous second-hand accounts in the media — to declare that “Iran is now on the brink of nuclear capability.” They decried “how poor our intelligence is” and how the report showed “just how derelict” U.S. assessments were. But for all the hype, and all the rich detail in the technical annex of the report, the U.S. intelligence estimates about Iran’s nuclear program seem to be holding up.
The new IAEA report upgraded the level of “concern” expressed by the international nuclear watchdog. The last report, released in September, said the IAEA was “increasingly concerned” about Iran’s program. The report released today says:
The Agency has serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the Agency finds the information to be, overall, credible. The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. The information also indicates that prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured programme, and that some activities may still be ongoing.
While the report found aspects of the Iranian program that is “specific to nuclear weapons,” the broad outline in the IAEA’s latest report on the military dimensions of Iran’s program is not new. Rather, the report provides greater detail regarding weapons-related activities outlined in previous pubic reports,” wrote nuclear expert Daryl Kimball on the Arms Control Association’s website.
For example, the report’s description of “activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosion device” refers to work on items like containment facilities for testing smaller explosions and work on detonators. In the latter case, the IAEA writes that it “recognizes that there exist non-nuclear applications, albeit few, for detonators” and that Iran says the devices are “for civil and conventional military applications,” though it “has not explained to the Agency its own need or application for such detonators.”
Another case of that sort of work identified by the IAEA was “at least one large scale experiment in 2003 to initiate a high explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell.” Results from the experiment were shared with “the engineers who were studying how to integrate the new payload into the chamber of the Shahab 3 missile re-entry vehicle,” but the military dimensions of the experiment itself remain unclear.
The IAEA showed a particular interest in a Russian scientist who assisted in the design of a high explosive initiation system during the 1990s. The IAEA spoke with the scientist who explained that he assisted Iranian scientists in the development of explosive techniques for creating industrial-use diamonds. Indeed, similar technology can be used for a nuclear initiation system but the IAEA verified that the scientist’s work in Iran was ostensibly to assist in manufacturing ultra-dispersed diamonds (“UDDs” or “nanodiamonds”). In fact, in 2009, the Mythbusters television show used similar technology, albeit in a New Mexico lab, to make diamonds. Watch it:
The IAEA’s report offers plenty of concerning facts about Iran’s nuclear program, but in the broad strokes come as little surprise: Iran has been developing dual-use technology, a key component of a “breakout capability.” How some of the studies relate to, as the IAEA put it, “anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear.” But none of the revelations concretely contradict the U.S. intelligence assessment that Iran has not made a final decision to pursue a nuclear weapon.
Republicans on the fiscal super committee — which is tasked with coming up with a $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package by the end of the month — today made an offer that is supposedly a “concession” on their part, agreeing to $300 billion in new revenue, when they had previously ruled any new revenue off the table:
Congressional Republicans have offered to increase tax revenue by nearly $300 billion over the next decade through an overhaul of the tax code, a significant concession aimed at breaking a long-standing impasse in negotiations over the federal debt.
The offer envisions a tax code rewrite that would lower rates for everyone while raising overall tax collections by $250 billion, mainly by limiting the value of itemized deductions such as write-offs for home mortgage interest, state and local taxes and other expenses.
As a symbol of how far this debate has shifted, over the summer Speaker of the House John Boehner proposed a plan that included $800 billion in new revenue. The GOP now wants to raise less than 0.2 percent of GDP in revenue, which is less than the Democrats have offered in Medicaid cuts.
Plus, there is a huge catch: in order to agree to raising revenue, Republicans want to not only make all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, but according to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, they also want to lower the top income tax rate from its current 35 percent to 28 percent:
The highest tax rate would be reduced from 35 percent to 28 percent under the emerging GOP tax code overhaul proposal, the senior Democratic aide tells me. And the reduction would actually be even bigger than this. After all, if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, as they’re set to do, the high end rate would go up to at least 39 percent. In other words, the aide says, under the proposal Republicans are pushing, the drop down to 28 percent would be at least 10 percentage points from what it would be if the cuts are allowed to expire.
According to Center for American Progress Director for Tax and Budget Policy Michael Linden, the reduction in the top tax rate alone costs $670 billion, which exclusively benefits the wealthy. Meanwhile, limiting itemized deduction in the way that the GOP suggested to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore would, according to Linden, raise $560 billion from the wealthy. So the rich are still getting a tax cut.
The rest of the revenue that the GOP has to raise to net $300 billion, therefore, must come from middle- and low-income households. Let’s emphasize that again: the GOP’s big “concession” when it comes to deficit reduction is paltry amount of revenue that will come from many middle-class households, paired with a huge tax cut for the rich.
Simply put, the GOP’s plan is not a concession, but a joke meant to make them look reasonable as they continue to push for lowering tax rates on the most well-off Americans. As one Democrat said, “they either think we’re morons or desperate.”
The Post has edited the lede of its story, which yesterday said that the Republican offer was a “significant concession” but now reads:
Congressional Republicans have for the first time retreated from their hard-line stance against new taxes, offering to raise federal tax collections by nearly $300 billion over the next decade as part of a plan to tame the national debt.
But Democrats rejected the offer Tuesday — along with the notion that Republicans had made a significant concession that could end the long-standing political impasse — leaving a special debt-reduction committee far from compromise with less than two weeks until its Thanksgiving deadline.
Steve Randy Waldman offers a brief sketch of an economy in which interest rates would always be negative:
Suppose that land to grow wheat is scarce but labor to farm and bake it into bread is abundant. Land-owners and laborers are paid their marginal products, which at the limits of land scarcity and labor abundance means that land-owners receive approximately all the bread and laborers receive approximately none of it. Suppose that people prefer a bite of bread now to a bite of bread later, but that in each period, no individual can eat more than twice what their share of total output would be if total output were evenly divided. Land owners at full gluttony can eat no more than a small fraction of potential output, and they cannot store the surplus. Technology and population are stable, but land owners face negative real interest rate. There are laborers who would be glad to borrow the surplus bread, but they have no capacity to repay. The real interest rate on the bread lending market would be -100%.
Obviously, that’s not the economy of the real world. But it’s illuminating to think about.
Yuppy-haven supermarket Whole Foods has always carefully maintained a public image of embracing diversity. That polished exterior was tarnished in August when the corporation caved to the Islamophobic rants of conservatives, and told all its U.S. stores not to promote Ramadan this year.
Now a former employee is suing Whole Foods, alleging that he was harassed and ultimately terminated because of his Islamic faith. Supervisors turned on him when they learned he was making the traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, and the situation got so bad that 24-year-old Glenn Mack had to resort to praying by the dumpsters outside the store:
Mack said he had been well-respected at the Whole Foods store at 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Philadelphia.[...] Mack said his troubles started after his supervisors discovered that he was going to use his vacation time for the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage many Muslims make to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, birthplace of the prophet Muhammad.
He said he requested time for the vacation months in advance of the November 2010 trip, and received approval. But shortly before leaving, he said, his supervisors gave him a choice of keeping his job or going on the trip.
He went on the trip. When he returned, he didn’t lose his job immediately, but he said, attitudes toward him had changed. Supervisors would follow him on his breaks to a back corner of the supply room where he typically went to pray. For privacy, Mack said he resorted to praying outside next to the Dumpster.
After Mack took his vacation, he was downgraded from full-time to seasonal status — although he was returned to full-time status after he complained to the company’s human-relations department that he felt he discriminated against because of his religion. He continued to be heckled and followed by supervisors even after he was reinstated, and three months later, he was fired.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is representing Mack, and has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Director Amara Chaudhry. “We hope that a company eager to take the money of Muslim shoppers would also be similarly welcoming of Muslim employees,” Chaudhry said.
Whole Foods’ insistence that it strives to engage employees and support their rights is seriously undermined by its actions towards them. In 2009, a manager at a San Francisco store threatened employees that there would be retribution if they tried to form a union.
RIP Heavy D |
Word is the seminal Jamaican-American rapper has passed away. In honor of his legacy, I’m ignoring the Herman Cain postmortem and spinning “Girls They Love Me,” which is a great song about spitting game: