Governors of US Southern States say they wont act to prevent Rape in their prisons…..Who Votes for these guys????.


This piece is intended to be light hearted but still make a political point about something I genuinely struggle to understand – its a fine balance and you have my apologies if you feel I didn’t get the balance right.  My american friends still might be better to avoid this one,,,,,

I’m an Englishman trying to understand this….

These states  put an usually large part of their population in prison but their governors decline to take part in a program to prevent rape in Prisons – despite it costing them money not to do so?

“Seven states, all led by Republican governors, are defying a federal law aimed at cracking down on the nationwide epidemic of prison rape—and on Wednesday, the Obama administration started calling them out.

The law in question, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2003.

In 2012, after years of study by a bipartisan federal commission, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department finalized the law’s requirements, and gave states about two years to start trying to comply. Forty-three states did. But today, nearly two weeks after the May 15 deadline, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, and Florida are still not complying with the law—and several GOP governors say they’re ignoring the law on purpose.

So far, at least five Republican governors have notified the Justice Department that they aren’t going to try to meet the new prison-rape reduction rules. ”

Story In Mother Jones

The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Incarceration Rates by State

Prison Rape Widely Ignored by Authorities

Is it because the governors are trying to out ‘right wing’ each other and they see prison rape as part of it being a deterrent? 

The 10 Scariest Republican Governors – Bringing a Radical Right-Wing Agenda To a State Near You

The real story in Texas primary is the ascendancy of Republican right wing

They would surely know by now that is doesn’t work in that way

“…found that those offenders that were sentenced to time in prison were far more likely to re-offend than those who weren’t.  …immediate custodial sentences of imprisonment produced a higher likelihood of re-offending.”

Prison study shows jail not an effective deterrent

Prison Is a Poor Deterrent, and a Dangerous Punishment

Evidence that prison doesn’t deter crime

What if they think the people who got them elected believe that is the case? 

1 in 4 Americans Believe the Sun Revolves Around the Earth

A third of Americans don’t believe in evolution

UFOs Exist, Say 36 Percent in National Geographic Survey

But many people wont be able to vote soon anyway

“Pivotal swing states under Republican control are embracing significant new electoral restrictions on registering and voting that go beyond the voter identification requirements that have caused fierce partisan brawls…. In all, nine states have passed measures making it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013. Most have to do with voter ID laws. Other states are considering mandating proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport, after a federal court judge recently upheld such laws passed in Arizona and Kansas. Because many poor people do not have either and because documents can take time and money to obtain, Democrats say the ruling makes it far more difficult for people to register.”

New Republican Bid to Limit Voting in Swing States

Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act

What States Are Doing To Restrict Voting Rights


Maybe its because America is run by the rich now 

A new political science study finds that majority-rule democracy exists only in theory in the United States — not so much in practice. The government caters to the affluent few and organized interest groups, the researchers find, while the average citizen’s influence on policy is “near zero.”

Is America an Oligarchy?

US is an oligarchy, not a democracy

Scholar Behind Viral ‘Oligarchy’ Study Tells You What It Means

The Rich don’t go to prison no matter what they do

“Will top bankers’ behaviour ever land them in jail? Or are bad business decisions even a crime at all?

Five years on from the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the debate over how to hold senior bank bosses to account for failures is far from over, but legal sanctions for top executives remain a largely remote threat.

Even as laws evolve – in Britain, the government wants to criminalise recklessness in banking – a repeat of the global financial crisis and near-collapses of 2008 would not necessarily result in many more prosecutions today, lawyers say.”

Why aren’t the Wall Street criminals prosecuted?

Not One Top Wall Street Executive Has Been Convicted Of Criminal Charges Related To 2008 Crisis

(Unless it is to defraud other Rich people)

Madoff Is Sentenced to 150 Years for Ponzi Scheme

and the Politicians need to keep the Rich People who pay for their elections campaigns happy?

Supreme Court allows more private money in election campaigns

The Koch Brothers Left a Confidential Document at Their Donor Conference

Republican hopefuls betting on Las Vegas mega donor Sheldon Adelson

I’m glad that I live in a country where state killing of criminals is seen as barbaric and unnecessary but I find it hard to think of living in a place that approves of Rape as a Judicial punishment.

I’m starting to understand but its still not making sense….!!

The jokes on you Pat….

Just to set this one up – Pat Sajak is a former weatherman who hosts the American gameshow Wheel of Fortune, which works a little like hangman. You need to chose letters which make up the phrase on the board. He stirred things up with this nonsensical tweet;

Imagebut it did get science blogger Greg Laden  to come up with this…


Mother Jones article

Blog Post reporting lot of Twitter abuse for him

Article reporting his later claim that he did it to ‘stir things up’

Watching pornography damages men’s brains


Watching pornography may shrink the brain and dull responses to sexual stimulation, researchers have suggested.
Scientists have found for the first time that regularly viewing sexual images could be physically harmful.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin found that a part of the brain which activates when people feel motivated or rewarded, shrinks and works less efficiently.

So people who watch a lot of porn are likely to need increasingly graphic material to achieve the same sexual stimulation.
The scientists also believe that people who already have a smaller ‘striatum’ – the reward part of the brain – may be more likely to use pornography.

Article in Telegraph

Porn viewing linked to less grey matter in brain

Watching porn associated with male brain shrinkage

The Seven Wonders of Preston Sturges


Cracking article about one of Hollywood’s lesser known geniuses. From The Seven Wonders of Preston Sturges By Douglas McGrath Published in Vanity Fair May 2014

In just four years, 1940–44, Preston Sturges wrote and directed seven classics reflecting the America he loved and laughed at–a fast-talking, unpredictable melting pot that seems more real than the visions of Frank Capra or John Ford. Then his luck ran out

Sturges’s directed seven hit pictures in four years; The Great McGinty, Christmas in July, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, and Hail the Conquering Hero. (There was a flop in there, too, something called The Great Moment, about the discovery of anesthesia. It sounds like the kind of serious picture Sullivan wants to make in Sullivan’s Travels.)

These are the touchstones of the Sturges reputation, and if you watch them close together, as I did recently, you may be struck by something I’d never noticed when I saw the pictures in isolation. His films, with all their excesses (possibly because of their excesses), offer a truer idea of American life than the films of any other director of his time. Each of the seven films stands as an insouciant rebuke to the mythic America of John Ford, the inspirational America of Frank Capra, and the cozy America of MGM’s Andy Hardy series. If those movies were a warm hug to their audience, the Sturges pictures were a jab in the ribs, a sexy joke whispered in church—a wink, a kiss, and a hiccup. His pictures of life in this country are a lot like life in this country: messy, noisy, sometimes tough to take, sometimes hard to beat.

Original Article – its a long but facinating read

Why an Economics book by a Frenchman could change the world (updated version of an article posted to my old blog on 12/05/2014)

Loads more discussion and argument by following the links at the bottom of the page – watch the video first

From ‘Is Wealth Inequality the Future of Capitalism? by Stephen Ross Pomeroy’ on Forbes website.

According to French economist Thomas Piketty, there’s a simple equation to explain the rise in wealth inequality in the United States: r > g.

The rate of return for owned capital (r) exceeds the overall rate of economic growth (g). Thus, families and individuals who control wealth will accumulate it at a faster rate than the economy can produce it and so will control a much larger portion of the economic pie. The rich get proportionally richer, and the poor get proportionally poorer. And unless something happens to alter the status quo, this trend will continue.

Piketty’s provocative message, shared in his new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, as well as in a review article published Thursday to Science, comes amidst growing concern over wealth and income inequality. Two-thirds of Americans, comprised of majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, are dissatisfied with wealth and income distribution in the U.S. Currently, the richest 10% control 71% of wealth and take home 48% of income. While the former value isn’t unprecedented, the latter is, and when it’s accompanied with the expected widening in the gap of r > g over the coming decades, we can expect to see the top 10% control more wealth than ever before.

Piketty arrived at his conclusion with the aid of researchers from around the globe, particularly economists Anthony Atkinson of the University of Oxford and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley. Together they accumulated a wealth of data the likes of which economics has scarcely seen: tax records for twenty countries dating back to the early 1900s. When assembled into a database, the information allowed Piketty and his colleagues a groundbreaking view of income and wealth inequality.PikettyGraph-590x432

“Until the Piketty revolution swept through the field, most of what we knew about income and wealth inequality came from surveys, in which randomly chosen households are asked to fill in a questionnaire, and their answers are tallied up to produce a statistical portrait of the whole,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman noted in his review of Piketty’s book. But, he added, those surveys are limited in scope.

“They tend to undercount or miss entirely the income that accrues to the handful of individuals at the very top of the income scale. They also have limited historical depth. Even US survey data only take us to 1947.”

Other economists respect Piketty’s attempt to gather massive amounts of empirical data, but question whether or not it grants a complete picture. Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute contends that Piketty’s tax data leaves out the billions of dollars given out by the federal government via programs like Medicare and income support. Garett Jones, an associate professor of economics at George Mason University argues that r won’t outstrip g as Piketty predicts.

“There’s no inherent tendency for capital to outpace the economy forever.”

Piketty disagrees, offering a more pessimistic outlook. As population growth slows, economic growth will stagnate with it, he says, leading to more inequality. This, in turn, allows the wealthy to exact more control of democracy through monetary contributions.

But the data reveals a path for the trend in wealth inequality to slow or reverse. Piketty recommends reinstating high tax rates on upper level incomes and increasing inheritance taxes.

“When top tax rates were high from 1933 to 1980, bottom 99% incomes grew fast while top 1% incomes grew slowly. In contrast, after 1980, when top tax rates were low, bottom 99% incomes grew slowly while top 1% incomes grew fast.”

But, he acknowledges that his ideas likely won’t be instituted anytime soon.

“In democracies, policies reflect society’s view. Therefore, the ultimate driver of inequality and policy might well be social norms regarding fairness of the distribution of income and wealth.”

Whether or not you agree with Piketty’s policy recommendations, you have to respect his work to bring empiricism back to economics, a “science” too often full of political propaganda and devoid of data.

The short guide to Capital in the 21st Century

Piketty shrugged: How the French economist dashed libertarians’ Ayn Randian fantasies

Everyone is reading Piketty wrong — including Piketty

Welcome to Piketty’s America: Dispatches from an empire in decline

Piketty answers David Brooks: The best-selling economist sounds off to Salon

The ultimate guide to shutting down conservative anti-Piketty hysteria

The problem with Thomas Piketty: “Capital” destroys right-wing lies, but there’s one solution it forgets

Paul Krugman won’t save us: We need a new conversation about inequality

Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”, summarised in four paragraphs

Link to Vox Video – Ezra Klein explains why wealth inequality should worry you much more than income inequality.

The Doom Loop of Oligarchy

Is Wealth Inequality the Future of Capitalism?

Savage capitalism is back – and it will not tame itself

Inclusive Capitalism Initiative is Trojan Horse to quell coming Global Revolt

Cosmetic tweaks can’t fix capitalism

Crony Capitalism – Crony Economic Growth

Capitalism Eating Its Children

Policy, not capitalism, is to blame for the income divide By James Galbraith

China, Piketty, and Patrimonial Capitalism

Thomas Piketty and Capitalism Beyond the 21st Century

Why Green Capitalism Will Fail

America’s middle-class defeat: How Canada shamed the wealthiest nation on earth

Original post to my old blog

More recent blog post about criticisms of Pikkety