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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Study Shows Wealthy People Are Creeps • Climate Change • Filesharing Michael Jackson • Poverty • Insane Racist Republicans • Mars • Apes Using Fire to Cook • Ayn Rand Debunked • Limbaugh Loses MORE Advertisers • PETA • US Soldier Kills Innocent People • more

- How the GOP Is Resegregating the South
    The use of race in redistricting is just one part of a broader racial strategy used by Southern Republicans to not only make it more difficult for minorities to vote and to limit their electoral influence but to pass draconian anti-immigration laws, end integrated busing, drug-test welfare recipients and curb the ability of death-row inmates to challenge convictions based on racial bias. GOP presidential candidates have gotten in on the act, with Newt Gingrich calling President Obama “the best food-stamp president in American history.” The new Southern Strategy, it turns out, isn’t very different from the old one.
- Unusual Warmth Expected to Fuel Extreme Weather in the U.S.
    An active severe weather season is anticipated in the U.S. during spring of 2012 with the most widespread warmth since 2004.
    An above-normal number of tornadoes is forecast for this season with water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico running above normal for this time of year. The active severe weather season follows a deadly year with a near-record number of tornadoes in 2011.
- Heartland Institute Sting Operation Triggers Greenpeace Investigations
    Let’s be clear, the work of the Joseph Bast and Heartland Institute is bad for this country and really bad for the planet and its people. Their actions are deliberately aimed to confuse the public about the science of global climate change and to block policy initiatives that would help solve the crisis. They are committing crimes against future generations by intentionally delaying action on global warming. This can mean life or death for vulnerable people worldwide, including here in the U.S. – note the increasingly extreme weather patterns we have experienced the last couple years, symptoms of a manipulated global climate. Bast and others in the broader industry-funded anti-science network need to be held accountable for their dangerous opposition to reality.
- Study Predicts a Bleak Future for Many Birds
    A just-published analysis of some 200 separate studies of the impact of climate change on birds is grim.
    There are about 10,000 bird species globally and most of them live on land. Based on the middle range of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s projection of warming—3.5 degrees Celsius or 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100— 534 to 800 tropical land bird species could become extinct, out of a total of 7,565 species. Worldwide, of all of the 8,500 or so land bird species, as many as 600 to 900 could disappear.
- 'Unprecedented Rapidity of CO2' Causing Worst Ocean Acidification in 300 Million Years
    The Earth's oceans are becoming more acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the past 300 million years due to increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, a new study shows.
- Infographic: Surface area of Earth Required to Power the World with Solar Energy Alone
    Powering the planet with clean Solar Energy is possible.
- Climate Change Could Cause Killer Hurricanes in NYC: A simulation model by Princeton researchers warns of storms "the likes of which have not been seen"
    Climate change could cause unprecedented hurricanes to pound New York City and other coastal cities over the next hundred years, according to new research by scientists at Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- PETA: A Shelter of Last Resort
    PETA was floored by the title and tone of James McWilliams' article about PETA's euthanasia of some of the saddest dogs and cats in Virginia. While we appreciate that the editorial included some points on our perspective, it did a disservice to homeless animals by failing to examine the causes of and ways to reduce euthanasia -- something PETA works on every day.
    The fact that PETA will take in even the most broken animals may not "change the fact that Virginia animal shelters as a whole had a much lower kill rate of 44 percent," but it does explain it. That's because PETA refers adoptable animals to the high-traffic open-admission shelters rather than taking them in ourselves, thereby giving them a better chance of being seen and re-homed. As for the "no-kill" shelters, their figures are great because they slam the door on the worst cases, referring them, in fact, to PETA. We operate a "shelter of last resort," meaning that when impoverished families cannot afford to pay a veterinarian to let a suffering and/or aged animal leave this world, PETA will help, free of charge. When an aggressive, unsocialized dog has been left starving at the end of a chain, with a collar grown into his neck, his body racked with mange, PETA will accept him and put him down so that he does not die slowly out there. As Virginia officials speaking of PETA's euthanasia rate acknowledged to USA Today, "PETA will basically take anything that comes through the door, and other shelters won't do that."
- Ex-Murdoch editor Brooks arrested again over hacking
    Rebekah Brooks, a former editor and close confidante of Rupert Murdoch (Fox "News" owner), was arrested for a second time on Tuesday in a phone-hacking scandal that has rocked the British establishment and embarrassed Prime Minister David Cameron.
- Soldier held in Afghan killings was from troubled U.S. base
    The largest military base on the West Coast, with more than 60,000 military and civilian personnel, Lewis-McChord is one of the main infantry engines for Iraq and Afghanistan. Lately, the base has earned a reputation for a series of horrific crimes emanating from there, including those by a "kill team" of Stryker brigade soldiers accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport, a father accused of waterboarding his child and a soldier accused of dousing his wife's legs with lighter fluid and setting her on fire.
    Twelve suicides were reported last year among Lewis-McChord soldiers, and earlier this year, a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran shot and killed a park ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park.

    In February, the head of the base's Madigan medical center was temporarily removed from duty after reports that diagnoses were overturned for hundreds of soldiers scheduled to receive help for post-traumatic stress disorder, allegedly in some cases in an attempt to save money.
- Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe
    It is hard to conceive of the sun wiping out a large amount of our hard-earned progress. Nevertheless, it is possible. The surface of the sun is a roiling mass of plasma - charged high-energy particles - some of which escape the surface and travel through space as the solar wind. From time to time, that wind carries a billion-tonne glob of plasma, a fireball known as a coronal mass ejection. If one should hit the Earth's magnetic shield, the result could be truly devastating.
- Michael Moore Slams Rush Limbaugh Apology On Twitter: ‘Who’s The Prostitute Now, Bitch?’
    Rush Limbaugh must be having a terrible weekend. First, he gets slammed by liberals and conservatives for trashing Sandra Fluke on his radio program for several days in a row, which began when he called her a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Six sponsors [EDIT: the number is now almost 150!!!] have pulled advertising and cash from his program, leading Rush to write a weak apology that he quietly posted on his website in an attempt to stop the bleeding. And now, Michael Moore has slammed Limbaugh on Twitter with the following message: "Rush as soon as you started loosing big $$ from your hate speech, you caved and obeyed the men who pay you. Who's the prostitute now, bitch?"
- Ayn Rand Worshippers Should Face Facts: Blue States Are the Providers, Red States Are the Parasites
    Last week, the New York Times published a widely discussed article updating an argument that progressive bloggers noticed a very long time ago. It's now well-understood that [liberal] blue states generally export money to the federal government; and [conservative] red states generally import it.
- Kanzi The Bonobo [chimp] Can Start A Fire, Cook His Own Food
    Kanzi, a fun-loving male bonobo, has figured out how to cook his food with fire, the Daily Mail reports.
    Bonobos are also known as pygmy or dwarf chimpanzees, and listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List due in large part to poaching.

    According to the Daily Mail report, this is the first time a bonobo ape has developed this skill, which Dr Savage-Rumbaugh, of the Great Ape Trust, links to early human development.
- Red Sea: Sounding Radar Buoys Evidence Mars Once Had an Ocean
    A European spacecraft equipped with sounding radar that bounces radio waves off the Red Planet to investigate its makeup has identified what appear to be sedimentary deposits in the Martian north. The sediments, which could be mixed with ice, would represent the remains of a shallow ocean that existed some three billion years ago, according to a study published in January in Geophysical Research Letters.
- Minimum Wage: Catching up with 1968
    How inert can the Democratic Party be? Do they really want to defeat the Congressional Republicans in the fall by doing the right thing?
    A winning issue is to raise the federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 since 2007. If it was adjusted for inflation since 1968, not to mention other erosions of wage levels, the federal minimum would be around $10.

    Here are some arguments for raising the minimum wage this year to catch up with 1968 when worker productivity was half of what it is today
    Sony forked out £160million for the King of Pop’s entire back catalogue last year.The buy-up came with a stash of unreleased tracks including duets Jacko did with the late Queen singer Freddie Mercury and Black Eyed Peas star, 36. Sony had been planning to release them on up to 10 albums, which would have netted a fortune.

    But sources last night warned the investment could now be “worthless” as the tracks may be leaked online for free. An insider said: “Sony may as well have poured their money into the gutter.”
- Don’t tell us it’s not a class war
    The entire world seems to be one huge advertisement for The Shock Doctrine. Naomi Klein showed in her revelatory book how the corporate-political-military-media complex exploits crises to further impose their harsh right-wing agenda – even when they themselves created the crisis. In a sane world, the economic meltdown and deep recession of the past four years would have led at minimum to stringent regulation of financiers and speculators plus programs to assist their victims. But in this world, you have to be nuts to believe in a sane world.
    In reality, everything that’s happened in the past several years has gone to further empower and enrich the 1 per cent (or maybe the 5 per cent) at the expense of the rest of us.
- Stephen Colbert Decodes Herman Cain’s Insane Anti-Stimulus Ad video- comedy
    Herman Cain may have dropped out of the Republican primary race but that doesn't mean he's gone quietly into the night. In fact, he's released a new anti-stimulus spot that may or may not have resulted in the death of a goldfish.
- This Week in Poverty: Welfare Reform—From Bad to Worse
    A stunning report released by the University of Michigan’s National Poverty Center reveals that the number of US households living on less than $2 per person per day—a standard used by the World Bank to measure poverty in developing nations—rose by 130 percent between 1996 and 2011, from 636,000 to 1.46 million. The number of children living in these extreme conditions also doubled, from 1.4 million to 2.8 million.
    The reason? In short: welfare reform, 1996—still touted by both parties [but mainly the Republicans] as a smashing success.
- Who Said It? Mitt Romney or Mr. Burns?
    The Republicans are essentially running wealthy evil millionaire "Mr. Burns" form The Simpsons TV show for president. No, I'm serious.
- The Mutt Romney Blues video
    SHARE the story of Mitt Romney's dog, who was locked in a crate on top of Mitt's car for hundreds of miles (true story). He's now singing the real story — while playing a mean blues guitar.
- Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say
    Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.
- Study: Rich more likely to take candy from babies
    The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to increase their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work, researchers reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Self-Interest Spurs Society’s ‘Elite’ to Lie, Cheat on Tasks, Study Finds
    Are society’s most noble actors found within society’s nobility?
    That question spurred Paul Piff, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, to explore whether higher social class is linked to higher ideals, he said in a telephone interview.

    The answer Piff found after conducting seven different experiments is: no. The pursuit of self-interest is a “fundamental motive among society’s elite, and the increased want associated with greater wealth and status can promote wrongdoing,” Piff and his colleagues wrote yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Wealthy, motivated by greed, are more likely to cheat, study finds
People of higher status are more prone to cheating, taking candy from children and failing to wait their turn at four-way stops, a UC Berkeley experiment finds.
By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
February 27, 2012

The rich really are different from the rest of us, scientists have found — they are more apt to commit unethical acts because they are more motivated by greed.

People driving expensive cars were more likely than other motorists to cut off drivers and pedestrians at a four-way-stop intersection in the San Francisco Bay Area, UC Berkeley researchers observed. Those findings led to a series of experiments that revealed that people of higher socioeconomic status were also more likely to cheat to win a prize, take candy from children and say they would pocket extra change handed to them in error rather than give it back.

Because rich people have more financial resources, they're less dependent on social bonds for survival, the Berkeley researchers reported Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As a result, their self-interest reigns and they have fewer qualms about breaking the rules.

"If you occupy a more insular world, you're less likely to be sensitive to the needs of others," said study lead author Paul Piff, who is studying for a doctorate in psychology.

But before those in the so-called 99% start feeling ethically superior, consider this: Piff and his colleagues also discovered that anyone's ethical standards could be prone to slip if they suddenly won the lottery and joined the top 1%.

"There is a strong notion that when people don't have much, they're really looking out for themselves and they might act unethically," said Scott Wiltermuth, who researches social status at USC's Marshall School of Business and wasn't involved in the study. "But actually, it's the upper-class people that are less likely to see that people around them need help — and therefore act unethically."

In earlier studies, Piff documented that wealthy people were less likely to act generously than relatively impoverished people. With this research, he hoped to find out whether wealthy people would also prioritize self-interest if it meant breaking the rules.

The driving experiments offered a way to test the hypothesis "naturalistically," he said. Trained observers hid near a downtown Berkeley intersection and noted the makes, model years and conditions of bypassing cars. Then they recorded whether drivers waited their turn.

It turned out that people behind the wheels of the priciest cars were four times as likely as drivers of the least expensive cars to enter the intersection when they didn't have the right of way. The discrepancy was even greater when it came to a pedestrian trying to exercise a right of way.

There is a significant correlation between the price of a car and the social class of its driver, Piff said. Still, how fancy a car looks isn't a perfect indicator of wealth.

So back in the laboratory, Piff and his colleagues conducted five more tests to measure unethical behavior — and to connect that behavior to underlying attitudes toward greed.

For instance, the team used a standard questionnaire to get college students to assess their own socioeconomic status and asked how likely subjects were to behave unethically in eight different scenarios.

In one of the quandaries, students were asked to imagine that they bought coffee and a muffin with a $10 bill but were handed change for a $20. Would they keep the money?

In another hypothetical scenario, students realized their professor made a mistake in grading an exam and gave them an A instead of the B they deserved. Would they ask for a grade change?

The patterns from the road held true in the lab — those most willing to engage in unethical behavior were the ones with the highest social status.

One possible explanation was that wealthy people are simply more willing to acknowledge their selfish side. But that wasn't the issue here. When test subjects of any status were asked to imagine themselves at a high social rank, they helped themselves to more candies from a jar they were told was meant for children in another lab.

Another experiment recruited people from Craigslist to play a "game of chance" that the researchers had rigged. People who reported higher social class were more likely to have favorable attitudes toward greed — and were more likely to cheat at the game.

"The patterns were just so consistent," Piff said. "It was very, very compelling."

Piff, who is writing a paper about attitudes toward the Occupy movement, said that his team had been accused of waging class warfare from time to time.

"Berkeley has a certain reputation, so yeah, we get that," he said.

But rather than vilify the wealthy, Piff said, he hopes his work leads to policies that help bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots.

Acts as simple as watching a movie about childhood poverty seem to encourage people of all classes to help others in need, he said.