With just a few days left in 2014, it’s all but certain that this year will go down in history as the first recorded calendar year that the temperature never officially dipped below zero in Anchorage, the National Weather Service said Sunday.
The last time the official temperature in Anchorage read below zero was Dec. 26, 2013, according to National Weather Service records.
Not a single day in 2014 has dipped into negative temperatures, though meteorologists did record a reading of zero degrees, the year’s lowest, on Feb. 11, said NWS meteorologist Mike Ottenweller.
And with balmy temperatures forecast through New Year’s Day, the no-below-zero-temperatures streak is highly unlikely to end before 2014 does, he said.
The clickbait title might give you the idea that this is just another version of “eat the rich” - but it’s not. At the link you will find lots of Adam Smith and family values principles that should appeal to middle class conservatives.
“So what’s changed since the 1960s and ’70s?” progressive billionare venture capitalist Nick Hanauer asked in Politico back in November. “Overtime pay, in part,” he answered: “Your parents got a lot of it, and you don’t. And it turns out that fair overtime standards are to the middle class what the minimum wage is to low-income workers: not everything, but an indispensable labor protection that is absolutely essential to creating a broad and thriving middle class.”
Although the details are a bit complicated, the bottom line is not: there’s a wage level below which everyone qualifies for mandatory time-and-a-half overtime, even if they’re on a salary, and that level has only been raised once since 1975, with the result that only 11 percent of salaried Americans are covered today, compared to over 65 percent of them in 1975. If you make less than $23,660 a year as a salaried worker, you qualify for mandatory overtime—if not, you’re out of luck. Only those hanging on to the lowest levels of the middle class have those protections anymore. Just adjusting the wage level for inflation since 1975—an act of restoration, not revolution—would be as significant an income increase for millions of middle-class Americans as a $10.10 or even $15 minimum wage is for low-wage workers. It would cover an additional 6.1 million salaried workers (by one account) up to $970 per week, about $50,440 annually—the vast majority of those it was originally designed to protect, but who have slowly lost their protections since the 1970s. Hanauer proposes a slightly greater increase, intended to cover roughly all the workforce that was covered in 1975. That would raise the threshold to $69,000 annually, and would cover an added 10.4 million workers.
Now I live in New York again, for the first time since the 1970s, and again New York is in turmoil over the police - not just over the killings of Garner and other unarmed black men, but over the murders of two police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, in Brooklyn on Dec. 20. White New Yorkers fear a return to the bad old days of riots, escalating crime and attacks on police. In the 1970s, 46 officers were killed in the line of duty, according to the New York Times, and 41 more in the 1980s. Before these latest murders, the last police killing was in 2011.
Black New Yorkers say the bad old days — of police abuse — never ended. The loudest voices are on the extremes, shouting down those who are trying to find common ground.
And as I listen to the loudest voice of all, that of Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association chief Pat Lynch, claiming Mayor Bill de Blasio has “blood on his hands” for expressing sympathy with New Yorkers protesting Garner’s death, I’m reminded that I grew up at what might have been the epicenter of the northern white backlash: Nassau County, New York in the 1960s and 1970s. The tensions of that time and place haunted us, maybe like never before, in 2014.
The Gap Between the Rich and the Rest of Us Is the Widest It’s Been in 30 Years. Here’s One Reason Why.
The wealth gap between the richest 20 percent of Americans and everyone else is the widest it’s been in three decades, according to a report released last week by the Pew Research Center. Many factors contribute to this great divide: tax rates on the rich have been falling for decades; the Great Recession decimated the assets of a lot of low- and middle-income folks; and technology is replacing workers. One often-overlooked factor, though, is that 16.7 million poor Americans don’t have a bank account. Lack of access to this basic financial tool cramps poor Americans’ ability to prove credit-worthiness and build assets, and forces them to rely on expensive alternative financial services, trapping them in a cycle of debt and instability.
Here’s a look at banking access in the US and how it affects Americans’ ability to grab onto the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder.
Many more people in the US lack bank accounts than in other wealthy developed nations, according to the latest World Bank data, which is from 2011.
Multiple charts and more data at Mother Jones:
More: The Gap Between the Rich and the Rest of Us Is the Widest It’s Been in 30 Years. Here’s One Reason Why.
Hyperloop would work by sending an elevated train through a vacuum-sealed tube that cuts air resistance to that of a jet cruising at altitude, enabling it to travel an average of 600 miles per hour while maxing out at 760 mph. Imagine living at one end of California and commuting to a job at the other end — it opens up a number of lifestyle and economic opportunities that would change a lot about how people live and work.
But $16 billion is a heavy price, beyond the reach of most private industry and perhaps even out of reach of government subsidy. For example, the United States government will supply Amtrak with $340 million to boost its rail infrastructure in 2015, just 1/47 of what it would cost to build the Hyperloop.
Fossilized rod and cone cells — the kinds that help people see — have been discovered for the first time, researchers say.
The finding reveals that such eye cells have existed for at least 300 million years, and that the ancient fish they were discovered in likely saw in color, according to the study’s scientists.
Human vision depends on pigments that absorb light. These pigments lie inside cells known as rods and cones. Cones are sensitive to color and also help perceive fine detail and rapid changes. Rods are more sensitive to light than cones, but are not sensitive to color, and are responsible for peripheral and night vision. Both rods and cones are found in a layer of tissue in the back of the eye known as the retina.
For the first time, a majority of Americans are living in states that allows gay marriage. After a year of cascading court opinions tossing out many remaining restrictions, the dynamic in 2014 changed from how many states allow same-sex marriage to how many states don’t.
At year-end, gay marriage is legally approved in 35 states and the District of Columbia, and court reviews are pending in many others.
The federal government took action as well, with Attorney General Eric Holder extending new federal recognition to same-sex marriages in many states and announcing that same-sex spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other and should be eligible to file jointly for bankruptcy, among other federal guarantees.
For what it is worth…
Hillary Clinton holds a massive lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a new poll released by CNN.
The CNN/ORC poll released Sunday finds that Clinton leads by 57 points, 66 percent to 9 percent, over Warren. That lead is essentially unchanged from a CNN poll in November, when Clinton was up 65 percent to 10 percent.
Warren insists she is not running, despite an effort by liberal groups like moveon.org to convince her to run.
Vice President Biden, who is also uncertain to run, comes in next, at 8 percent. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is looking to challenge Clinton from the left, gets 3 percent.
Google Inc’s Gmail was blocked in China after months of disruptions to the world’s biggest email service, with an anti-censorship advocate suggesting the Great Firewall was to blame.
Large numbers of Gmail web addresses were cut off in China on Friday, said greatfire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group. Users said the service was still down on Monday.
“I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google’s presence in China and even weaken its market overseas,” said a member of greatfire.org, who uses a pseudonym.
“Imagine if Gmail users might not get through to Chinese clients. Many people outside China might be forced to switch away from Gmail.”
More: Gmail Blocked in China
That’s the second attack in Sweden in less than a week. Naturally, the anti-Muslim hate sites are claiming that the fires are inside jobs (for the insurance money) or false flag attacks because, presumably, non-Muslim Europeans can’t possibly be capable of bigotry & violence. Besides, everyone knows there’s no such thing as innocent Muslims. Or something along those lines. *sigh*
Emergency services were called to the mosque in Eslöv, a small city in the south of the country, at around 3.15am on Monday.
It is understood that the blaze began after flammable liquid caught fire in one of the rooms in the building.
Firefighters quickly arrived at the scene and were able to prevent the fire spreading, although the flames still caused minor damage to the building. Firefighters suspect foul play.
“There is no possible natural explanation for this type of fire to break out” by itself, fire department spokesman Gustaf Sandell told public radio.