Paul Krugman: Structural Unemployment: Yes, It Was Humbug (NY Times Blog)
So here we are, with no obvious up-skilling of the work force, but with unemployment now below pre-crisis levels, with prime-age employment not too far below where it was, and still no wage pressure. People got mad when I called the structural story humbug, but humbug it was.
Marc Dion: A Slap (or Not) From My Pop (Creators Syndicate)
Sometimes, I'd do something bad and instead of giving me a quick clip on the side of the head the old man would just look at me for a second or two. "I'm not gonna punish you," he'd say. "It had to be a mistake because nobody would do anything this stupid on purpose." It was a neat little distinction and it's the reason why, even today, I believe most people don't go to hell.
Froma Harrop: Dunkirk Is a Morality Story for Shared Blessings of Peace (Creators Syndicate)
The other heroes are civilians who, at Churchill's urging, sailed their fishing boats, pleasure craft and ferries to rescue compatriots stranded in Dunkirk's shallow waters. Churchill had expected that only 35,000 of his 400,000 soldiers would get back home. The small-boat armada evacuated 330,000.
Lenore Skenazy: Gimme Swelter (Creators Syndicate)
It's August, which means most of us are feeling not unlike a Hershey bar in a pizza oven. What a relief to get home, crank up the AC - and damn the world to ever steamier summers. Yes, this is a column about the downside of that delicious rush of arctic air when you step in from the summer inferno. And I write it not just because I'm the one who's always wearing a sweater and complaining about how cold it is in the office.
Oliver Burkeman: "Fancy a life swap with Donald Trump? No, thanks" (The Guardian)
The notion of wanting someone else's life, even in our culture of celebrity envy, is exceedingly odd.
Nick Ripatrazone: "'After Andy': Getting Warhol's Religion" (Rolling Stone)
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni's memoir captures the artist's final days and how religion influenced the weirdness of the era.
Emma Specter: "Sex Toys, Crossbows & D.I.Y. Facelifts: Hollywood Assistants Spill Their Wildest War Stories" (LAist)
"Eventually, when they discovered Amazon Fresh and alcohol delivery services, they let me go. I was literally just a human Amazon Fresh."
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Michelle in AZ
We are all only temporarily able bodied.
Jeannie the Teed-Off Temp
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
AL GORE "CLIMATE CHANGE" PICKUP LINES.
THERE'S NO SAFE WAY!
THE WHITE HOUSE CRIME SCENE!
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THE WHITE HOUSE IS A POTENTIAL CRIME SCENE.
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In The Chaos Household
Back to sunny and seasonal.
Another Fox Perv Suspended
Fox News said Saturday that it has suspended Eric Bolling, the co-host of its late-afternoon news program "The Specialists," while it investigates allegations he sent a lewd photo to co-workers.
News of the suspension came one day after a Huff Post report relying on anonymous sources stated Bolling had sent a lewd photo to at least three female colleagues at Fox New and Fox Business.
Bolling is the best-known personality on "The Specialists," a program that airs weekdays at 5 p.m. EDT. The show replaced the network's series "The Five" in April. He also hosts the weekend show "Cashin' In."
He joined Fox News in 2008 after working as a commodities trader, according to his bio on the network's website.
Bolling has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump (R-Pussy Grabber). In a March op-ed, he accused House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and establishment Republicans of betraying the president with their version of a plan to overhaul the nation's health system.
T-rump Murals Appear
Two murals showing an oversized Donald Trump (R-Doll Hands) have appeared on Israel's West Bank separation barrier, just yards from where the elusive artist Banksy decorated a hotel earlier this year.
The new drawings popped up on the edge of Bethlehem, the Palestinian city where the barrier largely consists of a wall of towering slabs of concrete.
In one scene, Trump is shown hugging and kissing a real Israeli army watchtower built into the wall, as his left arm reaches around the tower. Little pink hearts flutter from Trump's mouth.
In another drawing, Trump is depicted wearing a Jewish skullcap and placing a hand a wall - a scene taken from the U.S. president's May visit to Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray. A cartoon "thought bubble" next to him says, "I'm going to build you a brother," a possible reference to Trump's plans to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The murals were signed "lushsux" - a signature that according to a 2016 report by the Australian newspaper "The Age" has been used in the past by a Melbourne street artist. The artist was among those who participated in a Banksy show in Britain in 2015, the report said.
Cannabis Company Buys Town
Now that one of the nation's largest cannabis companies has bought the entire California desert town of Nipton, a question remains: Will the new owners rename the place Potsylvania?
American Green Inc. announced Thursday it is buying all 80 acres of Nipton, which includes its Old West-style hotel, a handful of houses, an RV park and a coffee shop. Its plans are to transform the old Gold Rush town into what it calls "an energy-independent, cannabis-friendly hospitality destination."
The town's current owner, Roxanne Lang, said the sale is still in escrow, but confirmed American Green is the buyer. She declined to reveal price before the sale closes, but noted she and her late husband, Gerald Freeman, listed the property at $5 million when they put it up for sale last year.
Asked what her husband would think of the buyers' plans to turn Nipton into the pot paradise of the California desert, she laughed heartily.
"I think he would find a lot of humor in that," she finally said, adding that as a Libertarian Freeman had no problem with people using marijuana, and as a proponent of green power he'd be all in favor of energy independence. Over the years he'd installed a solar farm himself that provides much of the tiny town's electricity.
Not Echoed By Task Force
The betting was that law-and-order Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-Evil Elf) would come out against the legalized marijuana industry with guns blazing. But the task force Sessions assembled to find the best legal strategy is giving him no ammunition, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, a group of prosecutors and federal law enforcement officials, has come up with no new policy recommendations to advance the attorney general's aggressively anti-marijuana views. The group's report largely reiterates the current Justice Department policy on marijuana.
It encourages officials to keep studying whether to change or rescind the Obama administration's more hands-off approach to enforcement - a stance that has allowed the nation's experiment with legal pot to flourish. The report was not slated to be released publicly, but portions were obtained by the AP.
Sessions, who has assailed marijuana as comparable to heroin and blamed it for spikes in violence, has been promising to reconsider existing pot policy since he took office six months ago. His statements have sparked both support and worry across the political spectrum as a growing number of states have worked to legalize the drug.
Threats of a federal crackdown have united liberals, who object to the human costs of a war on pot, and some conservatives, who see it as a states' rights issue. Some advocates and members of Congress had feared the task force's recommendations would give Sessions the green light to begin dismantling what has become a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar pot industry that helps fund schools, educational programs and law enforcement.
Suicide Rate Hits 40-Year High
The suicide rate among teenage girls in the U.S. hit a 40-year high in 2015, according to the Centre For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed.
According to the analysis, while the suicide rate among girls aged 15-19 doubled between 2007 and 2015, for girls aged between 12 and 14 years, it tripled. This is considering government records which have been kept since 1975.
The suicide rate among females in the 15-19 age range was recorded at 2.9 in every 100,000 people in 1975. That increased to 3.7 by 1990 before showing a decline from that year all the way to 2007 when it was recorded at 2.4. But it experienced an uptick again, doubling by 2015 to reach 5.1. The report said it was the highest suicide rate seen in 40 years - from 1975 to 2015.
At the same time, the suicide rate among teenage boys was also found to be increasing. According to the analysis, instances of young men ending their lives rose by 30 percent between 2007 and 2015. The age range of 15 to 19 saw a rate of 12 in every 100,000 people for the year 1945. That rate then went up to 18.1 in 1990 before falling to 10.8 by 2007.
By 2015 however, the rate had jumped had jumped back up to 14.2, which is an increase of 31 percent as compared to 2007. However, the report said the rate seen in 2015 was lower than the peak rates of the mid 1980s and mid 90s.
Regulators Block Testimony
Nebraska regulators weighing the fate of TransCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline have ruled that opponents of the project cannot use one of their best arguments against it in final hearings next week: that America does not need the oil.
The state's five-member Public Service Commission is scheduled to hold court-like hearings on Aug. 7 to 11 before deciding whether to approve the project's route, marking the final hurdle for the long-delayed project after Donald Trump (R-Crooked) gave it federal approval in March.
While both sides are honing their arguments, the commission this week notified some 25 landowners along the pipeline's proposed route that it would exclude some of their pre-written testimony against the line, including arguments that there is a limited market need for it.
Lawyers for TransCanada had objected to the argument, telling the commission the subject is beyond the scope of its consideration, and the commission agreed, according to records seen by Reuters.
The commission is charged with weighing whether the project is in the public interest of Nebraskans, and will mainly consider things like jobs, revenues, and other issues impacting the local economy.
Court Upends Murder Conviction
A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the first-degree murder conviction of a former Blackwater security contractor, ordering a new trial for the man prosecutors say fired the first shots in the 2007 slayings of 14 Iraqi civilians at a crowded traffic circle in Baghdad.
In a split opinion, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit ruled a lower court erred by not allowing Nicholas Slatten to be tried separately from his three co-defendants in 2014. The 33-year-old contractor from Tennessee is serving a life sentence for his role in the killings, which strained international relations and drew intense scrutiny of the role of American contractors in the Iraq War.
The court also ordered new sentences for the three other contractors, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard. They were each found guilty of manslaughter and firearms charges carrying mandatory 30-year terms.
The judges determined those sentences violated the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment because prosecutors charged them with using military firearms while committing another felony. That statute, typically employed against gang members or bank robbers, had never before been used against overseas security contractors working for the U.S. government.
The government described the killings as a one-sided ambush of unarmed civilians, while the defense said the guards opened fire only after a white Kia sedan seen as a potential suicide car bomb began moving quickly toward their convoy. After the shooting stopped, no evidence of a bomb found.
ICE Agents Banned From Labor Offices
Immigration enforcement agents have been banned from labor offices amid fears undocumented migrants are being put off pursuing wages owed to them.
And state workers have been ordered not to reveal workers' whereabouts as lawyers and campaigners have warned migrants could have reason to fear attending labor dispute hearings under Donald Trump's (R-Bigot) presidency.
Multiple reported cases of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents appearing at immigrants' hearings prompted California Labor Commissioner Julie Su to release a memo to employees instructing them to refuse immigration agents entry to labor commission offices or to provide information on the location of workers.
A spokeswoman for ICE, Virginia Kice, said in an email that the agency had guidelines to prevent employees from becoming "involved in labor disputes." She disputed the assertion that ICE agents had appeared at labor commission offices seeking particular people, writing that "ICE has canvassed its enforcement personnel in the greater Los Angeles area and has obtained no information to corroborate those claims."
But the reports were credible enough to prod Ms Su into action, and now advocates worry the fallout could mean more exploitation of vulnerable workers.
More Vacation Days
Donald Trump (R-Lazy Boy) was a frequent Twitter critic of former President Barack Obama for his vacation days and golf outings, but to date, Trump has outpaced the former president on both those fronts.
This is Trump's first official vacation, however the president has visited one of his private properties upwards of 40 of the days he's been in office - so far he's spent seven weekends at Mar-a-Lago. And sometimes Trump adds work to pleasure, such as when he hosted and golfed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during one of the Mar-a-Lago outings. But in addition to the 17 days he will take in Bedminster, one can additionally count all of his other golf outings as part-day vacations.
Trump and his staff are also notoriously sneaky about whether Trump is golfing or working during these trips to his properties. His press office has tried to obscure how much the president plays. There was an incident in February during which one of his golf partners outed the president.
Obama, by comparison, would release to the press who he was playing with and when. By the Washington Post's count on Thursday, by the end of this vacation, Trump will have taken 53 days at leisure. Compared to Obama's 15 vacation days at the end of August during his own first term as president, Trump has to date almost doubled the former president's trips to the links. Moreover, Obama played 17 rounds of golf by the end of August in 2009. Trump has played 33 times - that are known about - before heading to Bedminster.
If the cost for Trump's outings is figured in, it would appear the current president is on track to outpace Obama's spending. The conservative leaning watchdog group Judicial Watch estimates that Obama spent close to $100 million on travel in his eight years as president. Working off FOIA requests that Judicial Watch also used, an Obama trip to Palm Beach cost around $3 million. Trump's seven trips to Mar-a-Lago have cost taxpayers some $20 million so far - and that doesn't include Trump's trips to his other respective properties. Estimates of tax payer dollars spent on Trump's golfing can range as high as $50 million, according to Trump Golf Count.