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Thu, 22 Apr 2021
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Piggy Bank

Almost half U.S. households living on brink of financial ruin

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According to a new report released by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, almost half of U.S. households don't have enough savings for emergencies, college tuition, health care and housing, reports BusinessInsider.com.

The report, entitled 'Assets & Opportunity Scorecard,' says that 132.1 million people wouldn't last three months if their income stopped. The report also said more than 30 percent of Americans don't even have a savings account.

More than 25 percent of families earning $55,465 - $90,000 annually have less than three months of savings, while another 25 percent of households are considered "net worth asset poor," meaning their assets (a home, business or car) are worth far less than their total debt amount.

The household median net worth has declined by more than $27,000 since 2006, while the cost of housing, food, and education have soared.

Comment: This is what results when 1% of the population controls most of the wealth:
The Price of Inequality
Plutocracy: Extreme Income Inequality the Major Reason for the Great Recession
Half of America In Poverty? The Facts Say It's True


USA

Hagel picked by Obama because of shared views on a post-superpower world?

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© Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., speaks at the White House on Monday after President Obama nominated him to replace U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
In the first months of the Obama presidency in 2009, Chuck Hagel, who had just finished two terms as a U.S. senator, went to the White House to visit with the friend he had made during the four years they overlapped in the Senate.

So, President Obama asked, what do you think about foreign policy and defense issues?

According to an account that Hagel later gave, and is reported here for the first time, he told Obama: "We are at a time where there is a new world order. We don't control it. You must question everything, every assumption, everything they" - the military and diplomats - "tell you. Any assumption 10 years old is out of date. You need to question our role. You need to question the military. You need to question what are we using the military for.

"Afghanistan will be defining for your presidency in the first term," Hagel also said, according to his own account, "perhaps even for a second term." The key was not to get "bogged down."

Obama did not say much but listened. At the time, Hagel considered Obama a "loner," inclined to keep a distance and his own counsel. But Hagel's comments help explain why Obama nominated his former Senate colleague to be his next secretary of defense. The two share similar views and philosophies as the Obama administration attempts to define the role of the United States in the transition to a post-superpower world.

Comment: There is no real evidence to suggest that Obama has any reluctance whatsoever to engage in war, allow rendition and torture and kill civilians indiscriminately:
Obama's dirty wars exposed at Sundance Film Festival
"The President Who Became an Actor": And This Year's Oscar Goes To... Barack Obama
Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney


Cowboy Hat

Outrage at Duke University over fraternity's Asian-themed 'racist rager'

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© Facebook
A Kappa Sigma theme party held Friday has drawn major backlash from the Asian community and others at the University.

At 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday several students including seniors Ashley Tsai, Tong Xiang and Ting-Ting Zhou posted flyers across Duke's campus protesting a Kappa Sigma party that took place Feb. 1. The flyers included emails sent out to party invitees as well as photographs of students at the party, which were taken from Facebook.

The party was originally called "Kappa Sigma Asia Prime" before a report was filed with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, after which a second email was then sent to invitees. The message said Asia Prime was canceled and a new party "International Relations" would instead take place.

Attention

Australia warns: Stay away from washed up deadly chemical canisters

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AFP Photo / Greg Wood
Australian authorities have issued a warning for all citizens to report and stay away from 20 silver canisters of highly toxic chemical washed up on east coast beaches. Reportedly the deadly substance may have fallen from a passing ship.

The chemical is believed to be aluminum phosphide and is deadly if inhaled or ingested. When the chemical comes into contact with air, it produces highly toxic and flammable gas, which can be fatal if inhaled, AAP reported.

It is often used to fumigate ships, but can also be applied as a pesticide and rabbit poison in Australia.

"This is a highly restricted toxic substance and indeed a very dangerous poison," Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) said in a statement.

Pills

Massachusetts shuts 11 pharmacies following inspections

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State officials have ordered 11 pharmacies to completely or partially shut down their operations after a series of unannounced inspections prompted by a deadly nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis.

The Department of Public Health inspections were conducted across the state over the past several months at 40 sterile compounding pharmacies, which custom-mix solutions, creams and other medications in doses or forms that generally aren't commercially available.

The outbreak of meningitis, an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, was discovered in Tennessee in September and has killed 45 people and sickened more than 600 nationwide. It was caused by a contaminated steroid, used mainly to treat back pain, that was linked to the Framingham-based New England Compounding Center, which has since closed. The inspections began last fall.

Besides the 11 cease-and-desist orders, public health inspectors said, another 21 pharmacies were cited for minor deficiencies that have since been corrected or are being addressed.

Health

17-year-old girl left brain damaged, blind and paralysed after smoking synthetic marijuana and suffering a series of strokes

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A 17-year-old girl has been left brain damaged, blind and paralysed after smoking synthetic marijuana and suffering a series of strokes.

Emily Bauer, from Cypress in Texas, was left severely disabled after smoking a product that she purchased from a local petrol station.

Ms Bauer purchased the substance last December with friends, but around 15 minutes after smoking it, told her boyfriend she had a migraine and needed to lie down.

She subsequently suffered a series of strokes that left her in a psychotic state; urinating on herself, running into walls and suffering violent hallucinations.

Wine

Florida man arrested for driving drunk INSIDE a Walmart

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© Photo: Brooksville Police Department
Police in Brooksville, Florida say that they arrested Timothy Carr over the weekend for driving drunk inside a local Walmart.

An arrest report obtained by The Smoking Gun on Monday indicated that Carr, 48, had helped himself to an alcoholic beverage while operating one of the store's motorized shopping carts at around 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Eye 2

Cop testifies: Banana mogul let woman die during sexual encounter

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© Shutterstock
A New York City Police detective testified on Monday that the owner of a banana-importing company allowed a woman to die following a three-way sexual liaison involving cocaine in 2009.

According to The New York Post, Detective Edward Boyle testified that Long Island Banana Corp. head Thomas Hoey Jr. refused to call for an ambulance to help Kimberly Calo after she overdosed while spending the night with Hoey and his then-mistress Nicole Zobkiw at a Park Avenue hotel on January 10, 2009.

Eye 2

California tech company forced to repay Mexican workers after getting caught paying them in pesos

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© Shutterstock
A California tech firm that boasts Gen. Colin Powell as a board member was ordered to pay more than $60,000 in back wages and penalties after the U.S. Department of Labor found it had paid a group of tech workers from Mexico less than $3 an hour in pesos for two years.

KNTV-TV reported on Monday that Bloom Energy contracted the 14 Mexican nationals and paid them equivalent of $2.66 an hour to work on the company's generators between November 2010 and November 2012. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

A U.S. District Court judge ordered the company to pay the group $31,922 in both back wages and damages. Bloom Energy was also fined another $6,160 in damages by the U.S. Labor Department.

Dollars

Fed up with online trolls, author pledges $5 to women's, LGBT groups for every insult

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© Photo: Author John Scalzi (Flickr user quinnums)
The internet might have given unprecedented freedom to writers, but with it comes inevitable exposure to trolls. Now one US author has decided to tackle online baiting head-on, in a move that could see payouts of tens of thousands of dollars to four civil rights, women's issues and LGBT charities.

John Scalzi is the author of several books, including the Old Man's War series and Redshirts, published in the States by Tor and the UK by Gollancz. He's also the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Fed up of being constantly targeted on his website by one particular individual and his followers, Scalzi decided to take action, pledging US$5 every time "the Racist Sexist Homophobic Dipshit in question posts an entry on his site in which he uses my name (or one of his adorable nicknames for me)".

Scalzi put a ceiling on his "troll tip jar" of US$1,000, figuring that gave his bête noir 200 opportunities to abuse him over the coming year, and said he'd give the cash to four charities: RAINN, America's largest anti-sexual violence organization; Emily's List, dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office; the Human Rights Campaign, which works for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights; and NAACP: America's oldest and largest civil rights organization.