Society's ChildS


Bell

US - Florida's debated welfare drug-screen measure kicks in

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© Getty ImagesFlorida Gov. Rick Scott signed a law requiring drug tests for adult welfare recipients.
A controversial law requiring adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screening has gone into effect in Florida.

Saying it is "unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction," Gov. Rick Scott signed the legislation in June.

"It's the right thing for taxpayers," Scott said after signing the measure. "It's the right thing for citizens of this state that need public assistance. We don't want to waste tax dollars. And also, we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs."

Under the law, which went into effect on Friday, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services will be required to conduct the drug tests on adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The aid recipients would be responsible for the cost of the screening, which they would recoup in their assistance if they qualify.

2 + 2 = 4

How Greed Destroys America

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© Unknown
Exclusive: New studies show that America's corporate chieftains are living like kings while the middle class stagnates and shrivels. Yet, the Tea Party and other anti-tax forces remain determined to protect the historically low tax rates of the rich and push the burden of reducing the federal debt onto the rest of society, a curious approach explored by Robert Parry.

If the "free-market" theories of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman were correct, the United States of the last three decades should have experienced a golden age in which the lavish rewards flowing to the titans of industry would have transformed the society into a vibrant force for beneficial progress.

After all, it has been faith in "free-market economics" as a kind of secular religion that has driven U.S. government policies - from the emergence of Ronald Reagan through the neo-liberalism of Bill Clinton into the brave new world of House Republican budget chairman Paul Ryan.

By slashing income tax rates to historically low levels - and only slightly boosting them under President Clinton before dropping them again under George W. Bush - the U.S. government essentially incentivized greed or what Ayn Rand liked to call "the virtue of selfishness."

Further, by encouraging global "free trade" and removing regulations like the New Deal's Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banks, the government also got out of the way of "progress," even if that "progress" has had crushing results for many middle-class Americans.

True, not all the extreme concepts of author/philosopher Ayn Rand and economist Milton Friedman have been implemented - there are still programs like Social Security and Medicare to get rid of - but their "magic of the market" should be glowing by now.

We should be able to assess whether laissez-faire capitalism is superior to the mixed public-private economy that dominated much of the 20th Century.

The old notion was that a relatively affluent middle class would contribute to the creation of profitable businesses because average people could afford to buy consumer goods, own their own homes and take an annual vacation with the kids. That "middle-class system," however, required intervention by the government as the representative of the everyman.

Comment: For more understanding of pathological behavior, ponerology and psychopathy, see these Sott links:

Beware the Corporate Psychopath

Psychopaths Among Us

What "Psychopath" Means; It is not quite what you may think

Political Ponerology: A Science of Evil Applied for Political Purposes

Political Ponerology: A Science on The Nature of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes

Political Ponerology book review: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes


Arrow Down

Russia plane crash kills 44, pilot error, weather likely to blame

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© © RIA Novosti. Vladimir Larionov
The plane crash in northwestern Russia that killed 44 people was probably caused by a combination of pilot error and bad weather, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Tuesday.

The RusAir jet, which took off from Moscow at 22:30 local time (18:30 GMT) on Monday was due to arrive in Petrozavodsk, the capital of Russia's northwestern republic of Karelia, at 00:04 on Tuesday (20:04 GMT Monday), but crash landed on a highway one kilometer (0.6 miles) away from Petrozavodsk airport, which was shrouded in fog. The aircraft broke up and burst into flames on impact.

Eight of the 52 people on board survived and were taken to local hospitals.

Alarm Clock

Drug Company Profiteering, Pill Mills and Thousands of Addicts: How Oxycontin Has Spread Through America

Corruption down the line, from Big Pharma to doctors and the war on drugs, builds a growing epidemic and an addiction-fueled empire.

I left a very white, very affluent Philadelphia suburb for NYU in 2007. When I go home, Oxys always come up in conversation with friends: Who got really "bad" (and can you believe it was him?!), who started selling, or what new pill-based friendship is the strangest. On one visit, I found pens gutted to be sed as straws (to snort pills) and tin foil in my old best friend's bedroom, to smoke Oxys.

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© Agency Press France
In Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, suburban moms and dads enjoy a short commute to the city and send their kids off to a "Blue Ribbon School of Excellence" to prepare them for the educational institutions to which they aspire. Aside from school and work and partying in big houses, there is not much to do.

Boredom tends to inspire some creative takes on "fun." Out of my town, for example, came the Jackass crew. Their worm snorting and reckless self-injury (shocking their testicles, paper-cutting their eyelids) might not have occurred if they had the resources of a city. When Jackass star Ryan Dunn died in a drunk-driving accident June 20, he crashed his car on Route 322, a road members of my community use regularly.

Drugs are another common way to escape boredom. Pop one pill and working at the local pizza parlor after school might not be such a drag.

Family

India: Rajasthan in 'cars for sterilisation' drive

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Couples are being urged to opt for Tata Nanos rather than babies

Health officials in the Indian state of Rajasthan are launching a new campaign to try reduce the high population growth in the area.

They are encouraging men and women to volunteer for sterilisation, and in return are offering a car and other prizes for those who come forward.

Among the rewards on offer is the Indian-made Tata Nano - the world's cheapest car.

Bulb

Don't Look on the Bright Side: Pessimism, Not Magical Thinking, Is What Will Save Us

It would take a miracle for our intractable problems to become tractable. Being in denial about that doesn't help anyone.

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© Unknown
It gets worse. If you pay attention to the news, the prospects for the future look grim. The new normal of high unemployment and stagnant wages will likely not turn out to be just a phase. The next generations may indeed do worse than the ones before them. Thanks to the Supreme Court, big money will keep tightening its stranglehold on elections and lawmaking. Financial reform and consumer protection will never survive the onslaught of lobbyists. Reckless bankers will go on making out like bandits, and the public will always be forced to rescue them. The Internet, along with cable and wireless, will be controlled by fewer and more-powerful companies. The world will keep staggering from one economic crisis to another. We will not have the leadership and citizenship we need to kick our dependence on oil. We will not even keep up with the Kardashians.

Add your own items to the list. Whatever global threats scare you -- climate change, the Middle East, loose nukes, pandemics -- and whatever domestic issues haunt you -- failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, rising poverty, obesity -- the odds are that the honesty, discipline, resources and burden-sharing required for a happy ending will not, like Elijah, show up at our door.

Comment: One of the ways you can combat the overwhelming feelings of these troubling times is to start Éiriú Eolas (EE). EE helps to relieve stress while healing, detoxifying and rejuvenating so that you can remain calm yet alert in difficult situations.


Alarm Clock

Japan - Radiation Expert Predicts More Threats

Tokyo - A former nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan blasted the government's handling of the crisis, and predicted more revelations of radiation threats to the public in the coming months.

In his first media interview since resigning his post in protest in April, Toshiso Kosako, one of the country's leading experts on radiation safety, said Mr. Kan's government has been slow to test for dangers in the sea and to fish, and has understated certain radiation threats to minimize clean-up costs. In his post, Mr. Kosako's role was to advise the prime minister on radiation safety.

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© STR Agency France Presse/Getty ImagesToshiso Kosako, who resigned in April as a senior nuclear adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, says the government is still failing at radiation protection.
And while there have been scattered reports of food contamination - of tea leaves and spinach, for example - Mr. Kosako predicted there will be broader discoveries later this year, especially as rice, Japan's staple, is harvested.

"Come the harvest season in the fall, there will be a chaos," Mr. Kosako said. "Among the rice harvested, there will certainly be some radiation contamination - though I don't know at what levels - setting off a scandal. If people stop buying rice from Tohoku ... we'll have a tricky problem."

Mr. Kosako also said that the way the government has handled the Fukushima Daiichi situation since the March 11 tsunami crippled the reactors has exposed basic flaws in Japanese policy making.

"The government's decision-making mechanism is opaque," he said. "It's never clear what reasons are driving what decisions. This doesn't look like a democratic society. Japan is increasingly looking like a developing nation in East Asia."

Bizarro Earth

US - A Fourth of July Without Fireworks?

Counties Across South Impose Bans Amid Persistent Drought and Record Blazes

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© Associated PressA fireworks store near Santa Fe, N.M., was closed Wednesday.
This July Fourth holiday could be dimmer than usual across the South after officials imposed bans on the sale and use of fireworks amid persistent drought and some of the worst wildfires in recorded history.

Officials from Florida to Arizona have prohibited the use of fireworks to reduce the risk of more wildfires. They are also asking counties and residents where bans aren't in place to give up holiday displays.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday ordered state police officers to help enforce bans and restrictions put in place across parts of the state. "The conditions in New Mexico are simply too dangerous for anyone to buy, sell or use fireworks this summer," she said in a statement.

Bad Guys

US - Cities on High Alert as July Fourth Nears: "Threat is Very Real"

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© Thinkstock/Comstock Images
New York - Although no specific plot has been identified, revelers this Fourth of July can expect extraordinary security -- from expanded patrols and SWAT units to biological weapon response teams and undercover officers mingling with celebratory crowds.

"It's absolutely not a joke," said New York police Sgt. Thomas Horvath, who took ABC News on patrol around New York City's waterways. "The threat is very real. On the day of the [July 4] event, we're going to put out basically every asset we have."

And those assets will likely include a boat designed for the NYPD that detects radiation from a nuclear bomb or radiological "dirty" bomb.

The Chicago Police Department says they will have an "elevated presence throughout the downtown area and other critical locations throyghout the weekend" including both uniformed and "cover" officers.

Its sophisticated equipment monitors all radiation readings in the area. Any suspicious readings can be instantly sent to the Brookhaven laboratory in Washington D.C. for analysis by nuclear physicists. There are only two such boats in the world.

This year, police are especially concerned because evidence from Osama bin Laden's compound revealed that he wanted to kill Americans on July Fourth or by the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.

"We all know that the Fourth of July is a signature holiday," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Friday. "Some of our enemies abroad would like to exploit that."

Comment: An actual threat based on facts or more fear mongering?


Briefcase

Minnesota government shutdown begins after talks fail

Minneapolis - Minnesota's state government began a broad shut down on Friday going into the July 4 holiday after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders failed to reach a budget deal.

Parts of the government had already begun to shut down on Thursday ahead of the midnight budget deadline, including some websites and dozens of highway rest stops on one of the biggest travel days of the year.

The budget impasse means that some 23,000 of the roughly 36,000 Minnesota state employees will be furloughed and state parks and campgrounds closed ahead of what is usually their busiest stretch of the year for the July 4 holiday.