Intimidation: Wisconsin's Republicans have made it legal for GOP goons to stand over your shoulder and watch from three feet away as you identify yourself to election officials – and if they don't think you are going to vote Republican then they'll
Moving On: The Ebola virus has apparently spread from Guinea – where nearly 100 people have already died from the disease - into neighboring Mali. Médecins Sans Frontières fears an unprecedented epidemic is developing in the region. And little stands in the way of its spreading. Globalization.
Just Wondering: What would you do if you were out of work, had no savings, your unemployment benefits had run out and had little hope of ever getting a job again... Ask a few million of your fellow citizens who have already been kicked to the side of the road what it's like.
Bubblicious: In many of America's major metropolitan areas, more than half the houses are priced beyond the reach of the people who live there. One-third of the houses for sale across the nation are unaffordable by historic guidelines. That's why 'non-traditional' financing is making a comeback, along with smaller down payments and so on. We've been there before, as have the British.
Hot Air: Despite all the shale-gas hoopla, the US remains a net importer of natural gas, in fact, the terrible 2014 winter drew down storage levels so low there is concern that adequate reserves will not be re-established before the next heating season arrives. There is some silly talk about exporting (as LNG) up to 60% of current US gas production, which would certainly increase domestic prices if it could be done. But doing it to annoy Putin would only work if Mr. Putinwas willing to wait around for a few years to be annoyed. There are no LNG terminals currently available and it will take many years to build them. Without the potential for exports, the EIA estimates prices will remain below the cost of production for a decade – which should raise some question as to why there would be any shale gas production at all. The whole point behind the threat to export LNG is to raise the price here at home, so that all that fracking might actually be profitable.
Going Bananas: A UN report – following up on months of concern – now sees the destruction of Cavendish banana plantations in Latin America by the pesticide resistant Panama disease tropical race 4 fungus as inevitable. The fungus has already devastated crops in Southeast Asia, Mozambique and Jordan. The FAO says that “virtually all export banana plantations” are in danger.
More Is Less: Research suggests that vegetarian diets lead to generally poorer health, a poorer quality of life and a higher need for health care. The vegetarian diet also seems to carry elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health disorders. But you'll look fit and trim and still feel superior to the rest of us.
If You Build It... UNC researchers have shown that building housing specifically for the homeless and making it available without precondition saves millions in tax dollars. It cut down on ER visits and the length of hospitalization. Amazing as it sounds, when the homeless are not exposed to danger from criminals or animals, and they don't have to sleep in doorways, they are healthier and place far less stress on social welfare budgets.
Factoid: There are estimated to be at least 27 million slaves "hidden in plain sight" around the world. And that does not count the people that make our clothing.
Porn O'Graph: Interest-ing.
The Parting Shot: