Tuesday, December 31, 2013

AL.com: The State of Alabama Had a 1-Year Population Growth Rate of 0.33% for the Year Ending in Mid-2013


The AL.com article is linked below.

AL.com: Alabama's Low but Steady Annual Population Growth Rate

"Alabama's population grew to 4,833,722 in 2013, putting it just ahead of South Carolina and just behind Colorado. 

The state's population grew by about 16,200 persons from 2012 to 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated this week, or 0.336 percent. In 2012, it grew by 0.331 percent, and in 2011 by 0.335 percent -- that's as steady as it gets when you're talking population growth.

Put it all together, and Alabama's population is up by an even 1 percent since 2010, when the last major census was conducted.

That growth puts Alabama in the bottom half among states on a percentage basis, or 36th since 2010. Slightly more than half the states have grown by at least 2 percent since then, with Massachusetts just missing that mark (1.97 percent)."

---Alex Walsh, AL.com 

Time: America's Population Growth Most Robust in the South and West

Noah Rayman's article at Time is linked below.

Time: Slow Population Growth for the United States

"The U.S. population grew at the lowest rate in more than 70 years, according to Census Bureau data released Monday, with most of the growth fueled by states in the south and west."
---Noah Rayman, Time 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Washington Post: The Recession Continues in American Demographic Trends

Carol Morello's article at the Washington Post is linked below.

Washington Post: 2013 U.S. Population Growth Rate on Par with Depression-Era Numbers

"The last time the nation grew at a slower pace was in the heart of the Great Depression, from 1932 to 1937, according to an analysis by demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution.
The recession led more women to postpone childbirth and fewer immigrants to come seeking jobs. As a result, the nation’s growth rate, which was just shy of 1 percent as recently as 2006, began sliding after the recession began the following year. With the economic downturn officially over for four years now, some demographers expressed surprise that the population growth rate registered a decline."
---Carol Morello, Washington Post 

The New York Times: In the Year Ending in Mid-2013, the U.S. Population Grew a Meager 0.72%, the Smallest Increase Since the Great Depression

Tamar Lewin's article in The New York Times is linked below.

The New York Times: The U.S. Population Increased 0.72% in the Year ending in Mid-2013

"The largest population increases over the year were in Texas (387,397 people), California (332,643) and Florida (232,111). New York, which added 75,002 people, ranked ninth. California this year became the first state to top 38 million residents, with a population of 38,332,521."
---Tamar Lewin, The New York Times

ArgusLeader.com: South Dakota Ranked #6 in the Nation in Terms of State Population Growth Rates for the Past Three Years

South Dakota
The ArgusLeader.com article is linked below.

South Dakota Population Growth Rate Ranked #6 in the Nation Over the Past 3 Years

"South Dakota’s population grew by 3.5 percent in the last three years, making it the sixth fastest growing state, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today."
---Jonathan Ellis, ArgusLeader.com

The U.S. Census Bureau Estimates That the Population of the United States of America Will be 317,297,938 on January 1, 2014

The U.S. Census Bureau population projection for January 1, 2014 is linked below.

U.S. Census Bureau: A U.S. Population Estimate of 317.3 million for New Year's Day 2014

Commerce Department: U.S. Population Projection for January 1, 2014

USA Today: Slowing Growth Rate for the Population of the United States in 2013

The article in USA Today is linked below.

USA Today: The Population of the USA is Growing at a Slow Rate

"An aging Baby Boomer population and slower immigration combined for nearly stagnant U.S. population growth in 2013 as the total number of residents inched up even more slowly than the previous year.
New figures released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau show that growth for the 12 months ending July 1 was 0.71%, or just under 2.3 million people."
---Greg Toppo and Paul Overberg, USA Today 

Florida Had a Mid-2013 Population of 19.55 million, Slightly Behind New York's Estimated Population of 19.65 million


The U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates are linked below.

Florida and New York Nearly Equal in Population in mid-2013

Georgia Nearing a Population of 10 Million, Per the U.S. Census Bureau


U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates are linked below.

U.S. Census Bureau: State population estimates for mid-2013

U.S. Census Bureau: National and State Population Estimates for the United States on July 1, 2013

A link to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates for the United States at mid-2013 is below.

U.S. Census Bureau: National and State Population Estimates for the U.S. on July 1, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: Obamacare is Operating

President Barack Obama

Jonathan Cohn's article at The New Republic is linked below.

The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare is Operating

"Obamacare got off to a lousy start. But things are looking a lot better now.
Nearly a million people signed up for private health plans via healthcare.gov in December, according to statistics the Obama Administration released on Sunday morning. That pushed the total number of sign-ups for the year to 1.1 million. Combined with the totals that states are likely to report by year’s end, it probably means more than 2 million people have signed up for private health insurance though the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. That doesn’t count several million who enrolled in Medicaid, the newly expanded federal-state program that provides insurance to low-income people."
---Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic

Obamacare Enrollments Via the Federal Exchange Pass the 1 million Threshold, Over 975,000 Sign-Ups Happened in December Alone

President Barack Obama

CNN coverage is linked below.

CNN: Obamacare Sign-Ups Via the Federal Exchange Exceeds Tops 1.1 Million

The article at The Hill is linked below.

The Hill: Obamacare Enrollments in the Federal Exchange Surged in December

"Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement that more than 975,000 people enrolled in a qualified health plan through the federal marketplace in December, following a rocky rollout in October.
Tavenner called the late surge 'welcome.'
'Our HealthCare.gov enrollment nearly doubled in the days before the January 1 coverage deadline compared to the first few weeks of the month,' she said. 'December enrollment so far is over 7 times that of October and November. In part, this was because we met our marks on improving HealthCare.gov: the site supported 83,000 concurrent users on December 23rd alone.'"
---Kyle Balluck, The Hill 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Magic of Festivus Brings Together Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Cory Booker on the Issue of Prison Sentencing Reform, and Perhaps Drug Legalization Issues

The NJ.com article is linked below.

NJ.com: How Festivus Joking Brought Together Rand Paul and Cory Booker on the Issue of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

"U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Rand Paul had a Festivus exchange yesterday that could one day lead to drug policy and sentencing reforms.

It began with Paul's 'airing of the grievances,' a tradition that is part of Festivus, the fictional Dec. 23 holiday created by Frank Costanza, George Costanza's father on the wildly popular 1990s sitcom 'Seinfeld.'"

---Darryl Isherwood, NJ.com 

Friday, December 27, 2013

NBC News: Centre for Economics and Business Research Projects that China Will Pass the United States as the World's Number One Economy in 2028, a Much Later Date Than Previous Estimates

The People's Republic of China

The NBC News article is linked below.

NBC News: China's Economy Won't Pass the USA's until 2028, According to a New Estimate

"A new study says China won't eclipse the U.S. economy until 2028, much later than some analysts have suggested.

According to the London-based economic consultancy, the Centre for Economics and Business Research, China's rise to the world's number one economy will be much slower than previously thought, due to both strength in the U.S. economy and the relative slowdown in China's domestic economy."

---Katie Holliday, NBC News, CNBC

Pew Research Center: Thirteen Landmark Measurements of What Americans Were Thinking and Doing in the Year 2013

The Pew Research Center has released a summary of 13 pivotal measurements of American thinking and/or behavior.  In the bullet points below are some of the highlights:

  • Same-sex marriage support has crossed majority threshold (51%)
  • Marijuana legalization support has crossed majority threshold (52%)
  • A majority sees the federal government as a threat to individual liberties
  • A high rate of young adults are living with parents
  • The United States immigrant population is approximately 40.4 million
  • Self-identified "Strong Catholics" are at a low in a roughly 40-year period
  • About 40% of households with children have mothers who are either the solitary or predominant "bread winner"
  • A majority of Americans own some sort of "smartphone"

The Pew Research Center article is linked below.

Pew Research Center: 13 Things Worth Knowing Regarding What Americans Were Thinking and Doing in 2013

"In the course of conducting public opinion surveys and demographic analyses, the Pew Research Center found a wide range of data milestones, breakthroughs, peaks and valleys in 2013, including record support for same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana; record levels of distrust of the federal government; record numbers of mothers who were the primary breadwinners for their families; and record numbers of Millennials living with their parents."

---Andrea Caumont, Pew Research Center 

The New York Times: Florida Poised to Pass New York and Become the Third Most Populous State in the U.S.


The article in The New York Times is linked below.

The New York Times: In 2014, Florida Likely Will Pass New York in Population

"When the Census Bureau releases its latest population estimates on Monday, demographers expect that Florida and New York will be narrowly separated — perhaps by as little as a few thousand people — and that if Florida does not pass New York this time, it almost certainly will do so in 2014."

---Jesse McKinley, The New York Times 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Rebecca Leber of Think Progress: Around Two Million Visited Obamacare's Healthcare.gov on Monday, December 23, 2013

President Barack Obama

Rebecca Leber's article at Think Progress is linked below.

Rebecca Leber of Think Progress: Healthcare.gov is Working

"Tuesday was the extended deadline to sign up through the Obamacare exchanges in order to be enrolled for health coverage starting January 1. The day before, Healthcare.gov saw record traffic of 2 million people visiting the site and more than 250,000 phone calls over the course of the day."
---Rebecca Leber, Think Progress 

Chicago Tribune: Jesse Jackson Claims Phil Robertson's Comments Stem From a Sense of "White Privilege"

Wes Venteicher's article in the Chicago Tribune is linked below.

Chicago Tribune: Jesse Jackson Sees a Sense of "White Privilege" Behind Phil Robertson's Controversial Comments

"Jesse Jackson Sr. has jumped into the controversy surrounding comments by Phil Robertson, star of A&E’s backwoods reality TV show, 'Duck Dynasty.'
In an announcement sent out Tuesday, Jackson Sr. compared Robertson’s recent comments about African-Americans, gay people and women to comments made by the driver of Rosa Parks’ bus."
---Wes Venteicher, Chicago Tribune 

Another Festivus Miracle! Obamacare's Healthcare.gov Receives Around Two Million Visitors on December 23, 2013

President Barack Obama

On Monday, December 23, 2013, around 2 million people visited Healthcare.gov, a dramatic increase in attempts to sign up for health insurance coverage in order to be covered on January 1, 2014.

A Time article regarding this uptick in interest is linked below.

Time: More Traffic for Healthcare.gov on December 23rd

"As a Dec. 24 midnight enrollment deadline approached, the federal government announced Tuesday that HealthCare.gov logged some 2 million visits on Dec. 23. Consumers were scrambling to select plans before Christmas in order to get coverage that begins Jan. 1."
---Kate Pickert, Time 

Politico's Katie Glueck: Pope Francis vs. the GOP

Pope Francis

Katie Glueck's article at Politico is linked below.

Katie Glueck: Pope Francis Runs Afoul of the GOP

"He draws crowds like a rock star, was named “Person of the Year” by Time as well as a gay rights magazine, and drew the ire of Rush Limbaugh for his criticism of “trickle-down” economics. Pope Francis has dramatically shifted the message and tone of the Vatican in the last nine months, and he’s forcing Republicans in Washington to reassess their relationship with the Catholic church."

---Katie Glueck, Politico 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Washington Post's Kathleen Parker: Phil Robertson and a Divided America

Kathleen Parker's column at the Washington Post is linked below.

Kathleen Parker: A Divided America and Phil Robertson

"Robertson isn’t just a megastar in waterfowl world, he is the composite character so loathed by liberals and certain elites who would nigh perish at the thought of close contact with his sort — a white, fundamentalist, Bible-thumping, duck-killing yahoo who somehow missed the civil rights movement, not to mention the New England Enlightenment."
---Kathleen Parker, Washington Post 

Rebecca J. Rosen of The Atlantic: 45 Years Ago, the Apollo 8 Astronauts Nearly Missed Taking the Photo of the Earth Rising Over the Lunar Landscape


Photo Taken by a Member of  the Apollo 8 Crew
December 24, 1968

The article by The Atlantic's Rebecca J. Rosen is linked below.

Rebecca J. Rosen: The Nearly Missed Opportunity of Apollo 8

"Forty-five years ago today, Christmas Eve 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders saw something no human had ever seen before—our planet as it appeared to rise over the moon's horizon."

---Rebecca J. Rosen, The Atlantic 

Forty-Five Years Ago, America's Apollo 8 Astronauts Orbited Around the Moon, a First for Humanity

December 24, 1968: In Apollo 8, human beings, for the first time, orbited around the moon.

Above: Earth Rise, an Iconic Photo taken of the Earth with the Moon in the foreground. Photo taken during Apollo 8, Dec 24, 1968.

Apollo 8 was the first manned circumnavigation of the moon. The three American astronauts who made the journey achieved a landmark moment in human history.

Never before had human beings left the gravitational dominance of earth, entered into deep space, and orbited another worldApollo 8 did those things, and a few months later (July 1969), human beings would walk on the surface of the moon.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christopher Bodeen of the Associated Press: China Marks the 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong, 1893-1976

Christopher Bodeen's Associated Press article is linked below.

Christopher Bodeen: Mao at 120

"China is marking Thursday's anniversary of his birth with relatively understated celebrations, a far cry from the cult of personality that once surrounded Mao, and a sign of how far China has traveled in the 37 years since his death and more than three decades since the junking of orthodox Marxism."
---Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press 

Salon Has Excerpted Ian Haney-Lopez's "Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class"

Richard M. Nixon

The Dog Whistle Politics passage excerpted at Salon is linked below.

Salon: Excerpts from "Dog Whistle Politics" by Ian Haney-Lopez

"In 1963, Robert Novak had written that many Republican leaders were intent on converting the Party of Lincoln into the White Man’s Party. The following year, Goldwater went down in crushing defeat, winning only 36 percent of the white vote. Even so, less than a decade later, the racial transmogrification of the Republicans was well underway. In 1972, Nixon’s first full dog whistle campaign netted him 67 percent of the white vote, leaving his opponent, George McGovern, with support from less than one in three whites."

---Ian Haney-Lopez, Dog Whistle Politics, excerpted at Salon 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Two Articles in "The Atlantic" Chronicle the Depths of Phil Robertson's Scandalous Views on the History of Southern Race Relations

Jonathan Merritt's article in The Atlantic is linked below.

The Atlantic's Jonathan Merritt: The Jim Crow South of Phil Robertson's Imagination

"When we hear many stories—stories like these and the thousands more like them—we see just how shocking Robertson’s assumption based on his single story really is. He may envision a Jim Crow South where blacks were treated well and sang happy spirituals all the day long, but this is not the South many African-Americans knew in this era."

---Jonathan Merritt, The Atlantic

Ta-Nehisi Coates' article in The Atlantic is linked below.

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi: Phil Robertson Disturbing View of Southern History

"The belief that black people were at their best when they were being hunted down like dogs for the sin of insisting on citizenship is a persistent strain of thought in this country. This belief reflects the inability to cope with an America that is, at least rhetorically, committed to equality."

---Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

National Journal's Alex Seitz-Wald: The Resonance of the Duck Dynasty Cast Member Suspension Story

Alex Seitz-Wald's article at National Journal is linked below.

National Journal's Alex Seitz-Wald: Phil Robertson as Culture War Symbol

"For urban liberals, it's hard to find a more cartoonishly distilled stereotype of the American South and modern conservative masculinity than Phil Robertson, with his ZZ Top beard, camouflage everything, and molasses Louisiana drawl. So Robertson's comments, then, were seemingly confirmation of the urban liberal's worst suspicions about Southern White conservatives: They really are all as bigoted as I thought!…
...For conservatives, it's the inverse. A&E's (read: the liberal media) decision to fire Robertson and the left's glee at his removal is confirmation that your world and everything you hold dear really is under attack. Urban liberals really do hate my Christian, traditional, rural values. This country really is slipping away."
---Alex Seitz-Wald, National Journal 

Alternet's Eric Zuesse: Economists Find That the South Remains Mired in Class-Bound Economic Stasis

The South

Eric Zuesse's article at Alternet is linked below.

Eric Zuesse: The South Remains Mired in Economic Stasis

"In other words: virtually all of this nation’s class-rigidity still remains in the U.S. South, even after the Civil War. New Dixie has replaced the aristocracy’s black slaves of Old Dixie, by the local (white) aristocracy’s institutionalized bigotry against poor people, now of all ethnic groups. What used to be their purely racist bigotry has, it seems, devolved into a crushing, pervasive, classist, bigotry in the South."
---Eric Zuesse, Alternet 

Charles M. Blow of The New York Times: Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and His Erroneous Views on Southern Race Relations

Charles M. Blow's column at The New York Times is linked below.

Charles Blow of The New York Times: Phil Robertson's Problematic Views on Southern Race Relations

"Robertson’s comments conjure the insidious mythology of historical Southern fiction, that of contented slave and benevolent master, of the oppressed and the oppressors gleefully abiding the oppression, happily accepting their wildly variant social stations. This mythology posits that there were two waves of ruination for Southern culture, the Civil War and the civil rights movement, that made blacks get upset and things go downhill."
---Charles M. Blow, The New York Times 

Associated Press: President Obama Announces a Surge in Obamacare Enrollments

President Barack Obama

The Associated Press article posted at Salon is inked below.

AP: Significant Rise in Obamacare Enrollments

"A total of more than 1 million people have enrolled since Oct. 1, Obama said at his end-of-the-year press conference. That’s a jump from Nov. 30 when just 365,000 had signed up for private insurance in the new federal and state markets offering subsidized coverage."
---Associated Press 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Deadline's Lisa De Moraes: A&E Network Receives Death Threats in the Wake of the Suspension of Duck Dynasty Paterfamilias Phil Robertson

Deadline's article by Lisa de Moraes is linked below.

Deadline: A&E Receives Death Threats After Suspending Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson

"A&E Network has had to beef up security at its New York headquarters after receiving death threats and suspicious packages from people enraged about the network’s decision to suspend Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson."

---Lisa de Moraes, Deadline 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In a GQ Interview, Duck Dynasty Paterfamilias Phil Robertson Claims That He Saw Happiness and Contentment Among African-Americans During the Years of Jim Crow Segregation

Phil Robertson's race-related quotation in GQ is linked below.


“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

---Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, quoted in GQ 

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne: It's Only the Early Stages of of the Republican "Civil War"

E.J. Dionne's column at the Washington Post is linked below.

E.J. Dionne: The GOP "Civil War" is Just Getting Started

"The Republican civil war, like all civil wars, is even messier than it looks. It’s a battle between two different conservative establishments, complicated by philosophical struggles across many other fronts. Its resolution will determine whether we are a governable country."
---E.J. Dionne, Washington Post 

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson Adds Fuel to the Fire in the American Culture War

Below are links pertaining to the recent controversies stemming from Phil Robertson's (of TV's Duck Dynasty ) comments in a recent GQ interview.

Business Insider: Phil Robertson's claims about Blacks in the Jim Crow South

Salon: Coverage of Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal's Defense of Phil Robertson

Chicago Tribune: Coverage of A&E's Suspension of Phil Robertson

Yahoo News: Duck Dynasty Fans Respond to A&E's Suspension of Phil Robertson

The Atlantic's Josh Freedman and Michael Lind: The Need for Renewal of the "Social Contract" for the American People

Josh Freedman and Michael Lind's article in The Atlantic is linked below.

Freedman and Lind: The Need for New Fundamentals for the American Social Covenant

"While the 'low wage' social contract may not be much of a bargain for many workers, there’s no pretending we can go back to the New Deal-era system of old. The combination of conditions that allowed for high wages, high profits, and low prices no longer exists in a service-based economy with more unstable employment and in which the declining number of manufacturing jobs are more subject to global competition. And while the welfare capitalist model did benefit many in the middle class, it often excluded African-American workers and was reliant on a family model based on a sole male breadwinner. The next social contract needs to adapt to these new economic conditions and further the huge strides we have made toward equality for women and minorities in the workforce."

---Josh Freedman and Michael Lind, The Atlantic 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Approximately 3,941,000 U.S. Births From Mid-2012 to Mid-2013

According to the Division of Vital Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control, in the 12-month period ending in June 2013, there were approximately 3,941,000 births in the United States.  At this juncture, the 3,941,000 figure is just a provisional count, and subject to revision in the coming months.

The provisional count for mid-year 2013 indicates little change in the number of U.S. births from the 12-month count ending in June 2012.

See the link below for the source material for this post.



Bloomberg's Lorraine Woellert: U.S. Housing Starts In November 2013 the Best in Five Years

The Bloomberg article is linked below.

Bloomberg: A Good November for U.S. Housing Starts

"Builders broke ground on more homes in November than at any time in over five years as growing demand helped the industry overcome rising U.S. mortgage rates."
---Lorraine Woellert, Bloomberg

MSNBC: The Collapse of HB 56, the Alabama Anti-Immigration Law


The MSNBC article is linked below.

MSNBC: The Fall of Alabama's Anti-Immigration Law

"The vast scope of the law turned Alabama into an unprecedented test for the anti-immigration movement. If self-deportation didn’t work there, it’s hard to imagine where it could. Early reports suggested success: undocumented immigrants appeared to flee Alabama en masse. But two years later, HB 56 is in ruins. Its most far-reaching elements have proved unconstitutional, unworkable, or politically unsustainable. Elected officials, social workers, clergy, activists, and residents say an initial immigrant evacuation that roiled their communities ended long ago. Many who fled have returned to their old homes."

---Benjy Sarlin, MSNBC

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Huffington Post: Iraq Plagued With Deadly Violence For Much of 2013


The Huffington Post is running an article on the resurgence of deadly violence in Iraq.  The article contends that 2013 has been the most deadly year in Iraq since 2008.

The article in The Huffington Post is linked below.

The Huffington Post: Deadly Violence in Iraq

Sunday, December 15, 2013

CNTV: China Celebrates its Unmanned Moon Mission Chang'e 3

The People's Republic of China

The article at CNTV is linked below.

CNTV: Chang'e 3 is a Triumph

"In a congratulatory message sent by the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Council, and the Central Military Commission, the success of Chang'e-3 mission was hailed as a 'milestone' in the development of China's space programs, a 'new glory' of the Chinese people in their exploration of the frontiers of science and technology and 'outstanding contribution' of the Chinese nation in the mankind's peaceful use of the space.
The photographing started at about 11:42 p.m. Beijing Time, when the six-wheeled Yutu moved to a spot about 9 meters north to the lander.
The color images, live transmitted via a deep space network designed by China, showed the Chinese national flag on Yutu. It marked the first time that the five-star red flag had pictures taken in an extraterrestrial body."

Kathryn Joyce at The American Prospect: Those Who Have Left and Denounced Protestant Fundamentalist Homeschooling

Kathryn Joyce's article at The American Prospect is linked below.

Kathryn Joyce: The Stories of Some Who Fled the Fundamentalist Homeschooling World

"In the past, those who left Quiverfull and homeschooling families had to look for help through an informal grapevine of survivors. Now the young rebels are using their organizing skills to build a full-scale online network. They share stories and connect on sites like Homeschoolers Anonymous and No Longer Quivering. They strategize about how to combat the homeschooling establishment on the Protect Homeschooled Children Working Group; offer practical and moral support through the Quiverfull Sorority of Survivors; and collect data on abuse cases at Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Through a group provisionally called Ruthslist, they’re organizing safe houses and compiling a 'Quiverfull daughter escape guide.' They’re finding a new sense of purpose to replace the one they were once assigned by their parents, always motivated—sometimes haunted—by the thought of the siblings left back home and the old friends who are 'still in.'"
---Kathryn Joyce, The American Prospect 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Economist: The Unmarried Single Female Vote Has Been Breaking Big for the Democratic Party

The Democratic Party

The article at The Economist is linked below.

The Economist: Unmarried Female Voters Becoming a Key Demographic for the Democratic Party

"The slow decline of marriage is upending American politics. In the 2012 presidential election, unmarried women accounted for nearly a quarter of all votes cast. Their votes went decisively to Barack Obama, by 36 percentage points.

You might not think that a group that runs from not-yet-married college students to inner-city single mothers and divorced professionals had much in common. Yet unmarried women are spectacularly loyal to the Democrats—if they vote, which many do not. (Widows are outliers, voting more like married women.) The “marriage gap” dwarfs the sex gap, by which women as a whole have long favoured Democrats: Mr Obama beat Mitt Romney by a less dramatic 11 points among female voters."
---The Economist 

Lost Angeles Times: Coverage of Images From the Moon Transmitted by China's Lunar Surface Probe

The People's Republic of China

The Los Angeles Times article by Barbara Demick is linked below.

Los Angeles Times: Lunar Surface Photos From Chinese Lunar Vehicle

"Chinese state media early Sunday began transmitting images and video taken by its moon rover, a gold-hued unmanned exploration vehicle named the Jade Rabbit after the story of a mythological Chinese moon goddess who kept a pet rabbit.

The images were sparking excitement among space enthusiasts."

---Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times 

Associated Press: China's Lunar Vehicle Chang'e-3 Transmits Photo of Lunar Surface, December 14, 2013

The People's Republic of China

The Associated Press article by Louise Watt is linked below. The photo of the surface of the moon is included in the below article.

Associated Press: China's Space Probe on the Surface of the Moon

"China on Saturday successfully carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, state media said, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon."
---Louise Watt, Associated Press

NASASpaceFlight.com: Coverage of "Jade Rabbit" and "Chang'e-3," the Two Major Components of the Unmanned Machinery Landed on the Moon by the People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of China

NASASpaceFlight.com coverage is linked below.

NASASpaceFlight.com: Coverage of China's Unmanned Moon Landing

"China’s Chang’e-3 and the lunar rover Yutu (Jade Rabbit) have landed on the lunar surface at 1:11 pm UTC on Saturday. The duo were launched by a Long March 3B on December 1, which was followed by a nominal flight into lunar orbit and subsequently China’s first soft landing on the Moon." 

---Rui C. Barbosa, NASASpaceFlight.com 

The People's Republic of China Has Landed an Unmanned Space Vehicle on the Surface of the Moon

The People's Republic of China

Coverage of China's historic unmanned moon landing is linked below.

Space.com: Coverage of China's Unmanned Moon Landing

CNN: Coverage of the Unmanned Moon Landing Made by the People's Republic of China

SpaceDaily.com: Article on the Landing of China's Moon Vehicle and Rover

BBC: Coverage of the China's Historic Unmanned Landing on the Moon

Friday, December 13, 2013

The National Journal's Beth Reinhard: The Demonization of Welfare Recipients

Beth Reinhard's article at National Journal is linked below.

The National Journal: The Politics of Welfare Bashing

"The welfare queen, she has risen.
Spawned by Ronald Reagan to turn blue-collar whites against the Democratic Party, then buried by Bill Clinton with a law 'ending welfare as we know it,' she's been excavated under the first African-American president as Republicans inveigh against the costs of health insurance and food stamps for the poor.
Twenty-five Republican-led states have—astoundingly—rebuffed billions of federal dollars under Barack Obama's signature health care law to offer Medicaid insurance to more poor people. To justify this unprecedented rejection of federal relief, these governors and state lawmakers say they just do not believe Washington will keep its promise to pick up the tab. Republicans in Congress are egging them on, denouncing Obamacare's disastrous launch as proof of the arrogance and folly of big government."
---Beth Reinhard, National Journal 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

In the Last Nine Seasons (2005-2013) in Major College Football, Only Four States Will Have Produced BCS National Champions

From the 2005 major college football season through the 2013 season (9 football seasons), only four states will have produced national champions---those states being Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama.

The BCS champions (or potential champions) from the 2005 season through the 2013 season are listed below.

2005: University of Texas
2006: University of Florida
2007: Louisiana State University
2008: University of Florida
2009: University of Alabama
2010: Auburn University
2011: University of Alabama
2012: University of Alabama
2013: Either Florida State University or Auburn University

Regarding this small club of BCS champions (or potential champions) from the last nine football seasons (2005-2013), it is worth noting that, during the 2009 season, Alabama defeated Texas (the 2005 champion), and during the 2011, Alabama defeated LSU (the 2007 champion).

When Florida State and Auburn face each other in the BCS Championship Game on January 6, 2014, each will do enjoying the status of being prior BCS national champions--FSU in 1999, and Auburn in 2010.

For nearly a decade college football's coveted crown has been worn only by a handful of teams from a smaller handful of states---all of these states being former members of the Confederacy.  This fact might raise the question for some universities as to whether big-time college football is a worthwhile path for certain universities to travel upon, particularly for non-Southern universities in areas where football enthusiasm in general is lagging.

Admittedly, BCS championships are not the only factors in measuring a given program's success, utility, and viability.  If that were the absolute case then, in a given year, only the BCS national champion could be said to have played a season worth playing. Most, however, would say that such a perspective would be over-doing it.

In major college football, there exists a plethora of bowl games, each bestowing a measure of glory to respective teams who participate, and especially to those who win.  Moreover, the college football regular season provides a large number of teams the opportunity to produce a "big win" warranting national attention and publicity.  Not to be ignored as well, is the fact that major college football games of whatever match-up and status, provide a measure of entertainment for thousands of people.  Some college football programs, though modest in terms of winning and fame, send players to the NFL from time to time, thus bringing a bit of notoriety to the school.  To some extent, college football can and has served to build some sense of community on some college campuses. In short, major college football has its virtues, and only some are mentioned here.

What then, is to object about the current nature of big-time college football?

Some of the problems facing major college football are beyond the purview of this post.  The matter of football-related brain injuries, for example, might prove to be a danger to the viability of football in general.  Put another way, American football just might be facing an existential threat due to inexorable safety issues.  If the data continues to break in such directions indicating that football is inherently,  irreversibly, and intolerably dangerous, then American tackle football might well be on the road to extinction.  But that jury, per the proverb, is still out.

Another objectionable matter facing big-time college football that likely has not been fully played out is the contradictory nature of college football economics.  Simply put, big-time college football is a multi-million dollar industry in which all but unpaid laborers (i.e. the football players) generate millions of dollars of revenue for football programs and licensed vendors. But like the issue of football-related brain injuries, the depths of college football economics is beyond this post's scope.

The matter of big-time college football and its relationship to the central academic mission of institutions of higher learning is not under the microscope here as well.  As big-time college football has grown in prominence, it remains a very open question as to whether high-profile athletics are compatible with the fundamental purpose of a college or university.  But…again, that matter is beyond the breadth of this post, though all three of these controversies deserve in-depth attention, and sooner rather than later.

While these above-mentioned issues should be of most pressing concern, I do contend that big-time college football faces additional problems, and one of them--as I see it--warrants a brief discussion here.

Here's the claim:  Major college football, as currently structured, will probably continue to produce a very limited number of successful programs, while the vast majority of college football programs will languish in on-field and financial mediocrity...or worse. And like a society in which extreme inequality of wealth can undermine social stability in general, so can such disparity of on-field results render instability in the viability of the overall big-time college football system.

Given time, some universities just might conclude that maintaining a highly expensive football program is an exercise in futility.  They might, in turn, tire of being homecoming opponent cannon fodder for larger and more powerful football teams.

In an era of skyrocketing salaries for high-end coaches, high-profile recruiting of elite high school football prospects, extravagant stadiums and facilities (a recruiting-boosting endeavor), the arc of major college football appears to be bending in a direction in which high-end high-profile programs further separate themselves from middling and lower-end programs.  Seemingly, the football rich are getting richer, and the have-nots possessing fewer avenues for getting ahead. College football, in short, seems increasingly a system of caste, not conferences. Such a situation, as I see it, should motivate the NCAA and its member schools to seek reforms to bring greater parity to major college football.

I am not arguing here that everyone should get a trophy; nor I am arguing that college football quit keeping score.  Any sports league will have winners and losers; it's inherent to competitive sports.

But I do contend that the college football world should seek to implement prudent reforms that would tilt the playing field toward greater parity among the 100-plus major college teams.  Such reform has happened before.  A little over 30 years ago, the NCAA instituted scholarship limitations on football programs, a move that did much to democratize college football.  The limitation of football scholarships created greater parity in college football by disallowing programs from stocking its football program with a disproportionate amount of good players--a practice that heretofore had kept less prominent programs from significantly upgrading their stock of talent.

By the 1980s, the breadth of good major college football teams had expanded.  No longer were a handful of teams disproportionately dominant. The reforms had worked, to some degree.

But trends in the last several years suggest that problematic levels of inequity are back, a point indicated  in the first part of this post.

Athletic leagues of whatever type are at their best when there is a high level of competition between teams. Such leagues have achieved something special when all teams possess a reasonable chance to compete for the brass ring. The rules of the league, as such, should be designed to bring about such parity.

The NFL has demonstrated that reasonable parity can be achieved between teams in an American football system, all without resorting to giving everyone a trophy. Few would argue that such a relative parity has undermined the popularity of professional football.  In terms of TV viewership, the NFL's Superbowl is America's largest sporting event.

Arguably the two great factors in facilitating greater equity among NFL franchises has been the player draft and player salary caps.  Through the player draft, losing teams routinely get the first shots at college players, and as such, allows a recently low-performing team to stock up on talent.  Via the salary cap, it is very difficult for a large-market franchise with high revenue to go out and simply purchase a championship team made up of high-priced free agent players.

One can only imagine the talent disparity that would result in the NFL if the best college football players could choose the NFL teams on which they would play.  But that's largely how the college football system works: The best high school football players get to choose which program they wish to play for.  For the most part, in big-time college football, winning teams get the advantage to re-stock their rosters with players that will allow them to stay dominant.  In the NFL--the highest level of football that there is--it is just the opposite.

In short, I believe that some sort of geography-based college draft might go a long way to bringing greater parity to the college game.  Such a draft will undoubtedly be complex and clumsy, but I see no reason to believe that it can't be done.

Regarding salary caps, the college game does not have as strong of a comparison, regarding players at least. But I would argue that, in terms of coaching salaries, the NCAA should implement reforms that restrict the salaries of coaches in the member schools.

Under the current rules, a given school of means can offer tens of millions of dollars to a coach that the school feels will enhance its football fortunes.  Other schools that might like the services of that same coach, however, cannot compete in that market.  The have-not school, though, will be expected to compete--from time to time--with the schools that can afford the top-shelf coach.

I contend that the further democratization of major college football is a worthwhile goal, assuming that medical science does not find reason to shut down the sport in general--thus rendering other reforms moot.  But such a democratization of the sport is unlikely to happen organically.  To get there, the NCAA and member institutions have to embrace significant reform, and become--oddly enough--more like the NFL.

----Mark Leavins

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky: American Conservatives Have Routinely Failed to be "on the Right Side of History"

Michael Tomasky's article at The Daily Beast is linked below.

Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast: The American Right's Habit of Being Wrong

"When has the American right ever--ever--been on the right side of history?

The answer is almost never.  Indeed, history is an unfolding, and more or less constant, vindication of the people who were thinking ahead, who weren't happy with things the way they were and saw they had to change, and who have been on the side of personal liberation and de-concentration of political power. Those people are virtually by definition liberals and reformers and radicals."

---Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast 

Time Magazine Names Pope Francis as the 2013 "Person of the Year"

Pope Francis

The Time article is linked below.

Time: Pope Francis, 2013 "Person of the Year"

"But what makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all. People weary of the endless parsing of sexual ethics, the buck-passing infighting over lines of authority when all the while (to borrow from Milton), 'the hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed.' In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church—the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world—above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors. John Paul II and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher."
---Howard Chua-Eoan and Elizabeth Dias, Time 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

C.J. Werleman: The United States of America is Increasingly Looking Like a Failing Nation

The United States of America

C.J. Werleman's article in Alternet is linked below.

C.J. Werleman: America Failing

"America has become a RINO: rich in name only. By every measure, we look like a broken banana republic. Not a single U.S. city is included in the world’s top 10 most livable cities. Only one U.S. airport makes the list of the top 100 in the world. Our roads, schools and bridges are falling apart, and our trains—none of them high-speed—are running off their tracks. Our high school students are rated 30th in math, and some 30 countries have longer life expectancy and lower rates of infant mortality. The only things America is number one in these days are the number of incarcerated citizens per capita and adult onset diabetes.
Three decades of trickledown economics; the monopolization, privatization and deregulation of industry; and the destruction of labor protection has resulted in 50 million Americans living in abject poverty, while 400 individuals own more than one-half of the nation’s wealth."
---C.J. Werleman, Alternet 

Washington Post: Radical Tea Party Republican Congressman Steve Stockman to Run Against Incumbent Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn in a GOP Primary Challenge

The article in the Washington Post is linked below.

Washington Post: Radical Conservative Congressman Steve Stockman to Challenge Senator John Cornyn, a Fellow Republican

"In doing so, Stockman not only threw a wrench in Cornyn’s plans. He also intensified the broader GOP civil war that is vexing the lives of Republican senators like never before. Seven of the 12 up for reelection next year now face capable or potentially tough primary challengers, including the two top-ranking Republicans and a third who used to serve in leadership."

---Washington Post

Monday, December 9, 2013

Nikos Konstandaras of The New York Times: Greece and Its Looming Demographic Disaster


Nikos Konstandaras' article in The New York Times is linked below.

Nikos Konstandaras of The New York Times: The Looming Demographic Problem for Greece

"The Greeks are in a struggle for survival. And the odds are piling up against us. The fight is not only on the economic front, as we try to meet our commitments under an international 240-billion-euro bailout deal that has resulted in greatly reduced incomes, higher costs and taxes, and an overriding sense of insecurity. The danger is even more basic: Deaths are outnumbering births, people are leaving the country, and the population is aging so fast that in a few decades Greece may be unable to produce enough wealth to take care of its people and may cease to be a viable nation state."

---Nikos Konstandaras, The New York Times 

National Journal's Matt Berman: The Politics of Festivus, Feats of Symbolic Strength for the Airing of Grievances

Seinfeld's Frank Costanza (played by Jerry Stiller)

The Father of George Costanza and Festivus

The National Journal article is linked below.

National Journal: Festivus Gets Political

"The Wisconsin and Florida state capitols will both have Festivus poles on display this holiday season. In Wisconsin, a silver pole is already standing between two nativity scenes in the packed rotunda. A sign hangs on the pole promising an airing of the grievances on the 23rd, but no feats of strength 'due to liability issues.'"
---Matt Berman, National Journal