3rd April 2014
There’s an old mine in Pennsylvania where the U.S. processes federal retirements. By hand. On paper. In 2014.
This is one of those sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. It is completely insane, yet not entirely unexpected. It is why a lot of people groan when they think the US federal government might try to administer something like Healthcare. They aren’t exactly known for being modern or efficient though this is a bit extreme even for them.
Source: Washington Post
2nd April 2014
AÂ 20 year-old manÂ came down with appendicitis in October of this year. He posted the bill on Reddit and it has gone viral. The US Health Care system is a topic of much debate, not only in the US but around the world. A lot of countries get âfreeâ health care, so needless to say, this […]
Another example of what is wrong with the US Healthcare system with or without Obamacare. It isn’t good when people all around the world have a lower health care cost for the individual than in the US.
19th March 2014
Deciding to opt my two daughters out of Colorado standardized testing seemed like a no-brainer. We aren’t permanent Colorado residents—we’re just here for one academic year while I’m a visiting professor at the University of Denver. My daughters, ages 13 and 14, are strong students. My husband and I see…
Okay, I am all for some standardized testing and teacher accountability, but from what I can tell testing has completely gotten out of hand in the US. Testing for testing’s sake is not useful. Testing without then having time to teach to improve test scores is also not useful. Having an opt out option and then having parents bullied is just bad. US education needs an overhaul badly, but it seems No Child Left Behind and Common Core are moving everything in exactly the opposite direction of actually getting kids better educated. Wake up America! Say NO to these unproductive reforms and demand real reforms.
17th March 2014
For decades, dozens of men with intellectual disabilities lived in an old schoolhouse and worked in a turkey plant. No one knew just what they endured.
This is a sad tale, but one that is much more common than the cases we hear about. The people that produce the food in America are the poorest of the poor. They are the illegal immigrants, the mentally disabled, and others who are not in a position to demand basic human rights and freedoms. The American people don’t want to know about these people or the suffering they go through to bring us the least expensive, calorie rich food that has ever been produced in history. This is the tale of mentally disabled men at a turkey plant, but I have posted and read of similar problems before.
The fantastic book: Tomatoland explores the history and farming of the Florida tomato. I was expecting a book on tomatoes, not human trafficking, but apparently the two are a lot closer linked than I would have guessed.
Here is another post about severe health problems at a pork plant.
On a completely different aspect of the article, I really enjoyed the interactive aspect with the beautiful photography and short video clips. I generally find video annoying when I am reading the news, but these short, well places clips added to the experience. I feel like digital multimedia may actually be evolving to something more worthwhile than the traditional print alternative. Of course digital is better because you can access so much media without having to store it, but I generally have found the experience of the media to be equivalent or less enjoyable than having a book or newspaper in hand. This article was better than a magazine in my experience.
Source: The New York Times
7th March 2014
A D.C. teacher says she was stopped at Phoenix airport, and asked for passport.
One of the things that I think most people in the US find most frustrating about flying anymore is the inconsistency and lack of training of the TSA staff. I understand that they want to be a bit dynamic in their processes so it is not easy for terrorists to figure out an easy way around security, but having staff that regularly harass people because of ignorance is ridiculous, disturbing, and infuriating.
Source: Washington Post
3rd March 2014
This is not good news. Jim Crawford started New Morning Farm in Maryland many decades ago. He was young and idealistic. He had little or no money and had to start small. He believed in sustainable agriculture and wanted to produce fresh and…
I am all for safe food, but I am not for giant mono-cultured farms and GMOs so this seems bad, really bad. If the FDA can’t do their job as it is, while are regulators putting a huge new area under their domain. Why is the FDA funded by pharma companies? Doesn’t that seem a HUGE conflict of interests? Though it definitely explains some things. I really don’t like a LOT of the ways the US government is trending right now, and the source seems to be BOTH parties.
2nd March 2014
or How I Ended Up in Solitary After Calling 911 for Help
This is a truly appalling tale of police abusing their authority to jail a man because they didn’t like his look or his attitude or something. If this was a unique event, I would say it was just a bad night and a misunderstanding, but these stories of police being way out of line seen to keep cropping up. I want to be able to trust my police force, and I want to believe that they have my best interest and safety as a priority. These tales make me fear that in a lot of the US that is no longer true. It is scary and I wonder why more people aren’t talking about this and trying to get a handle on what is going wrong. You should not be afraid to call the police if you have done nothing wrong.
20th January 2014
Link with 1 note
Vaccinating UK chickens for salmonella prevents thousands of cases of potentially fatal food poisoning but Americans are still dying unnecessarily
I think it is so very strange that vaccination is not required by the FDA. When they won’t require vaccinations that save lives or mandate food labeling of GMOs one must begin to wonder who is in control and it looks like Big Farming and not objective government regulation. Very sad and concerning.
20th December 2013
Taken together, the pictures convey a good deal of what we know about inequality…
Not that everyone isn’t aware that income inequality is becoming worse in America, but this is an interesting article with some nice graphs to show trends across most of the 1900’s until now. Worth a read if these things interest you. Also by New Yorker standards, quite brief.
20th December 2013
Maryland state police and federal agents used a search warrant in an unrelated criminal investigation to seize the private reporting files of an award-winning former investigative journalist for The Washington Times who had exposed problems in the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Air Marshal Service.
This is really, really scary because reporters are supposed to be able to protect their sources and their materials so they can expose corruption problems like my previous article on the black lung conspiracy. No one will talk to reporters if they believe what they say is going to end up with the NSA or Homeland security. People should be freaking out, but I suspect most people just see it as another abuse from a law enforcement agency which has become all too commonplace.
19th December 2013
Coal companies have paid millions of dollars to Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions over the last decade for medical opinions that have been used to deny hundreds of ailing mine workers meager black lung benefits, a yearlong investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity found.
Shame, shame, shame… For shame on a very well respected institution like John’s Hopkins and for shame on the nasty coal companies. I can’t believe this kind of conspiracy could go on so long in the US. This is also what good investigative reporting should be, and I hope we see more of it.
17th December 2013
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A Galveston medical student comes to grips with a healthcare system in which her patients die from treatable conditions.
A lot of people think that the US really doesn’t have a healthcare problem because either you have healthcare through your employer or you qualify for medicare or medicaid, but a lot of people fall through the cracks. We hear this, and I have even read a few news articles on individuals. But I don’t think that a lot of Americans have a good sense of who those people are or what falling through the cracks really means. This is a really good article of those in Texas who can’t get life saving medical care, and won’t even with the new Obamacare laws.
There is a lot of things still wrong with the US healthcare system, and it is time we discussed them more openly.
15th December 2013
Post with 1 note
And while we are talking about the US and fair compensation for employees, lets discuss tipping. Growing up in the US, I didn’t give tipping much thought. It was what you did when you went out to eat. As I got older, I became aware that there is a secret complex tipping system in other service industries that I have never fully understood. I am sure some cabbies in Boston hate me because I didn’t know you were supposed to tip them on top of there outrageous fees.
Moving to Australia which is a non-tipping country was a bit of a wake up call. Here all employees are paid a decent living wage though there is age discrimination which is bizarre coming from the US. With a few exceptions for apprentices, trainees and the like, in Australia if you are over 21 years old the minimum wage is $16.37. Though US employers would assure you that a living minimum wage would bring about the end of the world or at least the service industry, it doesn’t. There are still plenty of restaurants, cabs, fruit gets picked, and pretty much life goes on with everyone employed being about to provide themselves and their dependents food and shelter <gasp!>. It does mean than more restaurants have counter service rather than table service and the meal prices are a bit higher, but probably not as high as you would imagine.
In the US employees working for tips fall into a similar category as the disabled in that employers do not have to pay them even the US’s pitiful minimum wage. Not tipping in the US really is abusing the wait staff because without your tips they are not making minimum wage or coming close to a living wage.
Here are two articles I found interesting with more perspectives on the US and tipping:
Next Time You’re Tempted To Give A Bad Tip, Consider This
This one explains better than I can how dependent US restaurant workers are on their tips and how nasty some customers are to their wait staff. Shame, shame!
Why Tipping Should Be Outlawed
This one goes over some of the conceptual problems with tipping and why it is not at all a fair system. As things sit, to be a decent person in the US you MUST tip your wait staff, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also work to get these people fair wages and reduce that necessity. I don’t know that tipping should be outlawed, but I think it should be an optional extra for good service and not parted of the expected wage of the employee. It should be the bonus, not the bread and butter.
14th December 2013
This is just really disappointing of a big name charity. Minimum wage in the US is less than is required to live so it boggles my mind that there are all these “exceptions” where employers don’t have to even pay minimum wage. It is crazy, and I haven’t heard about one that I thought was justified. So restaurants and farms exploiting their workers by paying them a pittance is one thing, but Goodwill? Really? Apparently, really. Shame, shame!
11th December 2013
It is hard to be associated with the US today and not know that income inequality has been increasing, but I am not sure that most of us realize how much it has increased and how different the income is between the 1% and everyone else. This viral video does a good job of helping you visualize it.