Stop The TPP: 'Not A Done Deal'


By Staff for Flush the TPP. After five years of secret talks, the twelve countries involved in the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations announced they have reached an agreement. The deal was written by corrupt trade ministers and hundreds of corporate lobbyists without public (or even US Congressional) input. It is much more than a trade deal– only 5 of the 29 chapters even deal with trade. The rest of the deal is about privatizing government programs and services for corporate profits, removing government regulations, and setting protections for multinational corporations and investors rather than the health of the planet or necessities of people. The TPP has supposedly been agreed upon (the trade ministers’ announcement was vagur), but it has not been signed yet and there are still many steps before it becomes law. It is now up to us to stop.

Hedge Funds Attack American Neighborhoods Again

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Staff for Hedge Clippers – A new report by our colleagues at the Center for Popular Democracy and the ACCE Institute uncovers how hedge funds and private equity firms have quietly amassed mortgage notes to 200,000 homes in communities around the USA — and they’re getting special treatment from the government to aid their conquests. Hedge funds and private equity firms are getting big discounts when they buy the rights to collect homeowners mortgage payments – discounts from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) – the two government agencies that have refused to give similar discounts to homeowners that aren’t billionaires.

Will TTIP Get Terminated? Negotiations Falter As Europe Balks

Almost 3 million people across Europe have signed a petition calling on the European Commission to scrap the agreement. (Photo: greensefa/flickr/cc)

By Deidre Fulton in Common Dreams – While public opposition to the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—the massive proposed “trade” deal between the European Union and the United States—has grown steadily since negotiations started two years ago, new signs suggest that official government backing is also faltering across Europe. In an interview with French regional newspaper Sud Ouest published Monday, Junior Trade Minister Matthias Fekl said TTIP negotiations were favoring American interests and “either weren’t advancing or were progressing in the wrong direction.” “If nothing changes, it will show that there isn’t the will to achieve mutually beneficial negotiations,” he said, before adding: “France is considering all options including an outright termination of negotiations.”

In Virtually Every State, Poverty Rate Higher Than Before Recession

'Conventional monetary policy has failed,' writes Brown. An economy in service of the people, not industry and the banks, is what's needed now. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By David Cooper in Economic Policy Institute – Between 2013 and 2014, the poverty rate in most states was largely unchanged, according to yesterday’s release of state poverty statistics from the American Community Survey (ACS). While the poverty rate fell slightly for the country as a whole, most of the changes at the state level were too small to signify a meaningful difference. As of 2014, only two states—North Dakota and Colorado—have poverty rates at or below their 2007 values, before the Great Recession. From 2013 to 2014, the national poverty rate, as measured by the ACS, fell from 15.8 percent to 15.5 percent. Poverty rates declined in 34 states plus the District of Columbia, but only five of these changes were large enough to signify a measurable difference: Mississippi (-2.5 percentage points), Colorado (-1.0 percentage points), Washington, (-0.9 percentage points), Michigan (-0.8 percentage points), and North Carolina (-0.7 percentage points).

Here’s How We Free U.S. Cities From Wall Street Control

By Saqib Bhatti

By Saqib Bhatti in Occupy – To try to balance its budget, Los Angeles had enacted hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts over the previous five years. City jobs had been slashed by 10 percent, flood control procedures had been cut back, crumbling sidewalks were not repaired and alleys were rarely cleared of debris. Sewer inspections ceased entirely; the number of sewer overflows doubled from 2008 to 2013. The campaign slogan wrote itself: “Invest in our streets, not Wall Street!” At the city council debate, Timothy Butcher, a worker with the Bureau of Street Services, got up and said, “I don’t know a whole lot about high finance. I’m just a truck driver. But I do know, if I go to a bank and they give me a bad deal, I don’t deal with that bank any more. And I don’t understand why the city can’t use the same kind of concept on some of these big banks, saying, ‘Hey, help us out or, you know, we’re not going to deal with you any more.’ ” The City Council approved the resolution unanimously.

Time For The Nuclear Option: Raining Money On Main Street

'Conventional monetary policy has failed,' writes Brown. An economy in service of the people, not industry and the banks, is what's needed now. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By Ellen Brown in Common Dreams – Predictions are that we will soon be seeing the “nuclear option” — central bank-created money injected directly into the real economy. All other options having failed, governments will be reduced to issuing money outright to cover budget deficits. So warns a September 18 article on ZeroHedge titled “It Begins: Australia’s Largest Investment Bank Just Said ‘Helicopter Money’ Is 12-18 Months Away.” Money reformers will say it’s about time. Virtually all money today iscreated as bank debt, but people can no longer take on more debt. The money supply has shrunk along with people’s ability to borrow new money into existence. Quantitative easing (QE) attempts to re-inflate the money supply by giving money to banks to create more debt, but that policy has failed. It’s time to try dropping some debt-free money on Main Street.

Advocacy Support For Worker Cooperatives

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By David Morgan in Geo – As worker-owners, we’re used to doing things ourselves. We start businesses, figure out democratic decision-making, and confront systemic issues that deny wealth to communities. We’re tenacious and self-governing, so why limit our influence to our workplaces? As our movement grows—and it is, rapidly—we’re innovating faster than the law can keep up, often operating in gray areas that can be as uncertain as they are productive. What would it look like to stitch up these loopholes and create a full-fledged support system? Co-ops and their support networks have been a part of the recent rise in attention paid to economic justice, and our participation has allowed us to establish unique positions to solidify gains in policy. Municipal-­level efforts in Austin, Philadelphia, Madison, New York City, and elsewhere have shown that local advocacy can produce big results for the worker cooperative movement. Millions of dollars have been procured for development work.

Global Corporate Cash Piles Exceed $15 Trillion

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By Jack Rasmus in TeleSurTV – Various studies and reports show that advanced economies corporations continue to pile up cash on their balance sheets. The global economy is slowing – from China to Brazil to South Africa and beyond. Currency wars initiated in 2013 by Japan’s introducing a ‘quantitative easing’ (QE) monetary policy, intensified in 2015 by Europe introducing its own ‘QE’, and exacerbated still further by Saudi Arabia initiating a global oil price war to bankrupt U.S. shale oil challengers – have together converged to drive emerging market economies (EMEs) like Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and others into recession or stagnation. Actions in the past 18 months by Europe, Japan and Saudi Arabia have resulted in lowering their currency exchange rates. The moves represent desperate attempts to boost their weakening economies by trying to capture a larger share of a slowing global export pie. Once growing in 2008 at a rate of 12 percent per year, that pie today, in 2015, is virtually flat.

Does The Commission’s New Proposal Mark The End Of ISDS?

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By Flush The TPP! – On 16 September, Trade Commissioner Malmström presented a legal text proposal for the chapter on dispute settlement between investors and states in TTIP and other FTA negotiations of the EU (Japan, Vietnam). The proposal draws the Commission’s 18-month consultation period on ISDS to a close, and will be discussed with Parliament’s INTA Committee and Member States in the Council, before being submitted to the US side for consideration during the 11th TTIP negotiation round in Miami on 19 – 23 October. The proposal introduces a new structure dubbed the ‘International Court System’ or ICS, which the Commission claims puts an end to the existing ISDS system. While indeed the ICS proposal contains a number of important reforms of ISDS which go beyond what has already been developed in CETA, none of the 4 qualifiers mentioned by Malmström at the press conference on September 16 can be regarded as truly marking the end of “the old ISDS system”. Here is our analysis of Malmström’s four main considerations. . .

Turning Pennies Into Billion$: The Tiny Tax That Wall Street Fears

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By Matt Stannard in Occupy – A financial transaction tax (FTT) is a tiny charge placed on financial (rather than consumer) transactions. It can range from a dime to fifty cents per $1,000 exchanged. Many countries have particular transaction taxes – Peru for foreign wire transfers, Finland for Finnish securities and derivatives, France for stock purchases of publicly traded French companies with a market value over €1 billion. Brazil used to have a financial transaction tax, then it didn’t, and now it wants one again. Supporters of an FTT in the U.S. have been pushing the plan for years, though it’s not as alluring, loud or radical-sounding as public banks or worker-owned cooperatives. Experts on the tax tell me that global cooperation will make it work even better (money travels easily) and that we can start it anywhere – particularly in cities where financial trading is concentrated, like New York and Chicago.

What’s Going On With The TPP


By Maira Sutton in Electronic Frontier Foundation – Over the past month, trade officials have been frantically working to resolve outstanding disagreements over provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the midst ofspeculation that the deal is in deep trouble. At this late stage of negotiations, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has pretty much abandoned all remaining pretense of transparency in its consideration of these remaining policy issues. Since the failure to conclude the deal at the meeting in Hawaii over the summer, the USTR has held several closed-door meetings between high-level officials to finalize the agreement and it is under intensifying pressure to finish it off as soon as possible. In mid-August, there was a week-long meeting in Mexico to do a “legal scrub” of the TPP text, in order to have the text ready to go for an eventual signing. Toward the end of August, officials from Canada and Mexico went to Washington to continue discussions, likely around auto trade issues.

Hondura’s IMF Agreement May Make Conditions Worse


By Center For Economic and Policy Research – As the U.S. and Central American governments continue to discuss how to curb the number of people leaving Central American countries for the U.S. border, a new research paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) finds that Honduras’ agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may prolong Honduras’ economic problems, which include high poverty, unemployment and high inequality. The paper, “Honduras: IMF Austerity, Macroeconomic Policy, and Foreign Investment,” by CEPR Research Assistant Stephan Lefebvre, notes that the agreement, which provides Honduras with $189 million in financing over three years, includes many austerity measures, despite the weak labor market and growing poverty, and provides almost no protections for the most vulnerable sectors of society.

Knowledge Ecology Publishes The Chapters Of The TPP

So – watch out for the TPP, all you who want to protect American sovereign rights. Because once it is enacted, our entire legal system is up for grabs.

By James Love in Knowledge Ecology Online – On June 4, 2015, KEI asked USTR to provide the names of the TPP Chapters. The contents of the chapters are all officially secret, but we thought the names of the chapters should be public, and made a request for the chapter names under the Freedom of Information Act (FIOA). Today, more than 3 months later, USTR has responded to that FOIA. According to USTR, as of September 10, 2015, the names of the TPP Chapters are as follows: Intial Provisions and General Definitions, Trade in Goods, Textiles and Apparel, Rules of Orgin, Customs, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade Remedies, Investment, Cross Border Trade in Services, Financial Services, Temporary Entry for Business Persons, Telecommunications, Electronic Commerce, Government Procurement, Competition Policy, State Owned Enterprises, Intellectual Property. . .

The Truth On The Distribution Of HSAs

(Image: Health care via Shutterstock)

By Lorens A. Helmchen, David W. Brown, Ithai Z. Lurie and Anthony T. Lo Sasso in PNHP – Between 2005 and 2012, the share of employers whose employees had health savings accounts (HSAs) and the share of employees working at these employers grew more than tenfold. High-income and older tax filers both established HSAs and fully funded their HSAs at least four times as often as did low-income and younger filers. Although suggestive, the evidence to date on the take-up of HSAs has been limited to surveys, which rely on modest samples of several thousand individuals or employers that have chosen to participate. In this study we examined US tax records to offer a definitive depiction of the growth and ownership patterns of HSAs.

New Research Documents Growth Of Extreme Poverty

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters      4.8k     1.0k      Alana Semuels Aug 9, 2015   Half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, the number of Americans living in slums is rising at an extraordinary pace.  The number of people living in high-poverty areas—defined as census tracts where 40 percent or more of families have income levels below the federal poverty threshold—nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013, to 13.8 million from 7.2 million, according to a new analysis of census data by Paul Jargowsky, a public-policy professor at Rutgers University-Camden and a fellow at The Century Foundation. That’s the highest number of Americans living in high-poverty neighborhoods ever recorded.  The development is worrying, especially since the number of people living in high-poverty areas fell 25 percent, to 7.2 million from 9.6 million, between 1990 and 2000. Back then, concentrated poverty was declining in part because the economy was booming. The Earned Income Tax Credit boosted the take-home pay for many poor families. (Studies have shown the EITC also creates a feeling of social inclusion and citizenship among low-income earners.) The unemployment rate fell as low as 3.8 percent, and the first minimum wage increases in a decade made it easier for families to get by. Programs to disassemble housing projects in big cities such as Chicago and Detroit eradicated some of the most concentrated poverty in the country, Jargowsky told me.  As newly middle-class minorities moved to inner suburbs, though, the mostly white residents of those suburbs moved further away, buying up the McMansions that were being built at a rapid pace. This acceleration of white flight was especially problematic in Rust Belt towns that didn’t experience the economic boom of the mid-2000s. They were watching manufacturing and jobs move overseas. Population Living in High-Poverty Neighborhoods (in millions) Source: 1990 and 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Cities such as Detroit saw continued white flight as wealthier residents moved to Oakland County and beyond, further and further away from the city’s core. They brought their tax dollars with them, leaving the city with little tax base, a struggling economy, and no resources to spend on services. More From The Next Economy      The Racial Gaps in America's Recovery     $500 Million Is a Small Price to Pay for Women's Health     A Long Road Home  Low-income residents who wanted to follow the wealthy to the suburbs would have had a difficult time. Many wealthy suburbs passed zoning ordinances that prohibited the construction of affordable-housing units or the construction of apartment buildings in general. Some mandated that houses all be detached, or are a minimum size, which essentially makes them too expensive for low-income families.  “It’s no longer legal to say, ‘We don’t want African-Americans to live here,’ but you can say, ‘I’m going to make sure no one who makes less than two times the median income lives here,’” Jargowsky told me.  (Though some affordable-housing developers try to build in the suburbs, many more, especially those in the “poverty-housing industry,” advocate for building more developments in high-poverty areas to stimulate economic growth. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has a goal of investing in distressed neighborhoods, for example, has spent $14.7 billion building affordable housing units since 1980.)  Some of the cities where poverty is the most concentrated are in the Midwest and Northeast, where tens of thousands of people have headed to suburbs, and the region itself is shrinking in population. In Syracuse, New York, for example, 65 percent of the black population lived in high-poverty areas in 2013, up from 43 percent of the black population in 2000, Jargowsky found. In Detroit, 58 percent of the black population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 17 percent in 2000. And in Milwaukee, 43 percent of the Latino population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 5 percent in 2000.  The number of high-poverty census tracts is also growing in many of these cities. In Detroit, the number of such tracts tripled to 184, from 51 between 2000 and 2013, as concentrated poverty spread to inner suburbs. In Syracuse, the number of high-poverty census tracts grew to 30 from 12.  Federal dollars have sometimes been used in ways that increase the concentration of poverty. Most affordable housing is built with low-income housing tax credits, which are distributed by the states. States assign the tax credits through a process in which they weigh a number of different factors including the location of proposed developments. Many states have favored projects in low-income areas, a practice that was the recent subject of a Supreme Court case known as Inclusive Communities. The Inclusive Communities Project argued, in the case, that the way Texas allocated tax credits was discriminatory, since 93 percent of tax credit units in Dallas are located in census tracts that are more than 50 percent minority, and are predominantly poor. The Supreme Court agreed in June, allowing groups to bring lawsuits about such segregation.  Finally, Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8, are meant to give poor families better options about where they live, but are instead confining the poor to the few neighborhoods where landlords will accept the voucher.  All of these developments have increased the racial concentration of poverty, especially in mid-sized American cities.  “These policies build a durable architecture of segregation that ensures that racial segregation and the concentration of poverty is entrenched for years to come,” Jargowsky writes. Highest Black Concentration of Poverty Sources: 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Some recent developments, including the Supreme Court decision and a new HUD rule that requires regions to think more carefully about segregation, are positive signs. But Jargowsky says deeper policy prescriptions are needed to reduce these depressing trends in concentrated poverty. First, he says, federal and state governments must ensure that new suburban developments aren’t built more quickly than the metropolitan region is growing, so that such developments don’t create a population vacuum in cities and inner suburbs. Second, every city and town must ensure that new housing construction reflects the income distribution of the metropolitan area, he said, so that more housing is available to people of all incomes in different parts of town.  “If we are serious about breaking down spatial inequality,” Jargowsky writes, “We have to overcome our political gridlock and chart a new course toward a more geographically inclusive society.”  That’s important for the future of our cities, but also for our nation, Jargowsky said. His research shows that poor children are more likely to live in high-poverty areas than are poor adults—28 percent of poor black children live in high-poverty areas, for example, compared to 24 percent of poor black adults. Overall, 16.5 percent of poor children live in high-poverty areas, compared to 13.8 percent of poor adults.  A child who grows up in a high-poverty area is likely to be poor when he grows up. Research out this year from Harvard shows that children who moved from poor areas to more affluent areas had higher incomes and better educational achievements than those who stayed in poor areas. Without dramatic changes, today’s children who live in high-poverty areas are going to grow up to be poor, too.      Jump to Comments   About the Author      Alana Semuels is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was previously a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.         Twitter   by Taboola Sponsored Links AROUND THE WEB 8 Signs You May Have AfibWebMD 19 Common Habits That Will Destroy TeethWedMD 8 Bags Every Man Should Own Macy's Top 20 Worst Snacks to Avoid at All CostsWorld Lifestyle Most Popular      The Coddling of the American Mind         Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt      Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.     Continue Reading     When Success Leads to Failure         Jessica Lahey      I’ve known the mother sitting in front of me at this parent-teacher conference for years, and we have been through a lot together. I have taught three of her children, and I like to think we’ve even become friends during our time together. She’s a conscientious mother who obviously loves her children with all of her heart. I’ve always been honest with her about their strengths and weaknesses, and I think she trusts me to tell her the truth. But when she hits me with the concern that’s been bothering her for a while, all I can do is nod, and stall for time.      “Marianna’s grades are fine; I’m not worried about that, but she just doesn’t seem to love learning anymore.”     Continue Reading     A Matter of Black Lives         Jeffrey Goldberg      In late april of 1994, a 9-year-old African American boy from the broken-down Central City neighborhood of New Orleans wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton, asking him to bring about an end to the violence that was devastating his city.      “Dear Mr. Clinton,” James Darby began. “I want you to stop the killing in the city. People is dead and I think that somebody might kill me. So would you please stop the people from deading. I’m asking you nicely to stop it. I know you can do it. Do it. I now you could.” He signed the letter, “Your friend, James.”      Ten days later, on May 8, Mother’s Day, Darby was visiting A. L. Davis Park with several members of his family. The park, named after Abraham Lincoln Davis, the first African American to sit on the New Orleans city council, is a compact rectangle of basketball courts and grass patches situated directly across the street from a public-housing complex.     Continue Reading     With Donald Trump's Rise, Fox News Reaps What It Sows         Conor Friedersdorf      Fox News’ coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign has resembled the treatment that the real estate tycoon and reality TV star receives in “the mainstream media.” It is unlike the network’s coverage of unqualified populist favorites from past election cycles, like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. And populists are taking notice.      Last week’s debate is a fine illustration.      Immediately after the candidates left the stage in Cleveland, Ohio, Fox News moderator and anchor Megyn Kelly threw the network’s coverage over to pollster Frank Luntz, who stood in a room with a small group of voters gathered to offer their impressions. “Megyn, we’re about to make some news tonight,” he said as he turned to the panel. His meaning quickly became apparent: Under questioning, most of the assembled voters revealed that they felt unfavorably about Trump’s performance.     Continue Reading     That’s Not Funny!         Caitlin Flanagan      Three comics sat around a café table in the chilly atrium of the Minneapolis Convention Center, talking about how to create the cleanest possible set. “Don’t do what’s in your gut,” Zoltan Kaszas said. “Better safe than sorry,” Chinedu Unaka offered. Feraz Ozel mused about the first time he’d ever done stand-up: three minutes on giving his girlfriend herpes and banging his grandma. That was out.      This was not a case of professionals approaching a technical problem as an intellectual exercise. Money was riding on the answer. They had come to Minneapolis in the middle of a brutal winter for the annual convention of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), to sell themselves and their comedy on the college circuit. Representatives of more than 350 colleges had come as well, to book comics, musicians, sword swallowers, unicyclists, magicians, hypnotists, slam poets, and every kind of boat act, inspirational speaker, and one-trick pony you could imagine for the next academic year.     Continue Reading     Why Iran’s Anti-Semitism Matters         Jeffrey Goldberg      A few days ago, I spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the politics of the Iran deal (you can find the full interview here), and at one point in our conversation I put to Kerry what I thought was—to be honest—something of a gimme question: “Do you believe that Iranian leaders sincerely seek the elimination of the Jewish state?”      Kerry responded provocatively—provocatively, that is, if you understand Iranian leaders, and in particular the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the way I understand them: as people theologically committed to the destruction of Israel. Quotes such as this one from Khamenei help lead me to this conclusion: “This barbaric, wolflike, and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” The supreme leader does not specialize in nuance. (Here is a long list of statements made by Iranian leaders concerning their desire to bring about an end to Jewish sovereignty in any part of the ancestral Jewish homeland.)     Continue Reading     Life's Stories         Julie Beck      In Paul Murray's novel Skippy Dies, there’s a point where the main character, Howard, has an existential crisis.“‘It’s just not how I expected my life would be,'" he says.      “‘What did you expect?’” a friend responds.      “Howard ponders this. ‘I suppose—this sounds stupid, but I suppose I thought there’d be more of a narrative arc.’”      But it's not stupid at all. Though perhaps the facts of someone’s life, presented end to end, wouldn't much resemble a narrative to the outside observer, the way people choose to tell the stories of their lives, to others and—crucially—to themselves, almost always does have a narrative arc. In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you're on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are.     Continue Reading     What the Iran-Deal Debate Is Like in Iran         Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul      The nuclear deal with Iran has sparked a vigorous debate not only in the United States, but in Iran as well. The discussion of the agreement among Iranians at times echoes the American discussion, but is also much deeper and wider. Reports in Iranian media, as well as our own correspondence and conversations with dozens of Iranians, both in the country and in exile, reveal a public dialogue that stretches beyond the details of the agreement to include the very future of Iran. And it seems that everyone from the supreme leader to the Iranian American executive in Silicon Valley, from the taxi driver in Isfahan to the dissident from Evin Prison, is engaged. The coalitions for and against the deal tend to correlate closely with those for and against internal political reform and normalized relations with the West.     Continue Reading     Could the Internet Age See Another David Foster Wallace?         Megan Garber      Here is an extremely incomplete list of things I would like to know David Foster Wallace’s thoughts on:      selfie sticks     man buns     farmers’ markets     the Starbucks S’mores Frappuccino®     The League     professional football     college football     trigger warnings     Ferguson     media coverage of Ferguson     Netflix     Breaking Bad     Uber     Mars One     Donald Trump     Facebook     the “personal brand”     Ashley Madison     Instagram     Snapchat     the film The End of the Tour      I would especially love to know his thoughts on that last one, since the movie, being pretty much a filmic love letter to the late author, could well fall into the category of Praise That Made David Foster Wallace Itchy and Squirmy. The conventional wisdom about Wallace—an idea put forth during the nascent days of his fame, and reiterated in a good portion of the approximately 512,246 essays and novels and Tumblr posts that came as that fame crystallized into something closer to canonization—is that Wallace, the person, was extremely ambivalent about Wallace, the persona. He wanted, on the one hand, to join the ranks of DeLillo and Pynchon and Updike (though the latter he famously denigrated as “just a penis with a thesaurus”). But the fame that accompanied literary achievement during the time he was doing all his achieving made him, he insisted, “want to become a recluse.” There’s being celebrated, and then there’s celebrity. Celebrity, in all its tentacular forms, was one of the things Wallace’s work most consistently mocked.     Continue Reading     How White Users Made Heroin a Public-Health Problem         Andrew Cohen      This piece was reported through The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal-justice system.      Heroin use and abuse in America has dramatically increased over the past decade.  Between 2006 and 2013, federal records reveal that the number of first-time heroin users doubled from 90,000 to 169,000. Some of those users, no doubt, already are gone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that the rate of deadly heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.      These troubling figures, and a spate of more recent stories and daunting statistics, have prompted officials across the country to implement bold new policies and practices designed to reduce the harm of heroin use. Although there has been some push to enhance criminal sanctions to combat the surge, much of the institutional reaction to the renewed popularity of the drug has sounded in the realm of medicine, not law.     Continue Reading     The Wanderlust of #Vanlife         Sam Price-Waldman      How an Instagram hashtag inspired a movement     Watch Video     The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today         Chris Heller      A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.     Watch Video     The Creator of The Wire Explains the War on Drugs' Effect on Police         Nadine Ajaka      David Simon on America's failed policies and the decline of law enforcement     Watch Video  Subscribe  Get 10 issues a year and save 65% off the cover price. 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By Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Peter Edelman, and LaDonna Pavetti in Talk Poverty – A new book by two of our nation’s foremost poverty researchers, Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, reveals the desperate circumstances that hundreds of thousands of children and their parents increasingly face: living with virtually no cash income in an economy that requires it to meet nearly every human need. In $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Edin and Shaefer trace this disturbing trend to the 1996 welfare law, which has gradually but inexorably gutted the cash assistance safety net for families with children. Attention to this often neglected side of our nation’s extreme economic inequality is especially timely as policymakers from both parties consider reauthorizing the 1996 welfare law. As the book vividly shows, we are long overdue to take a different path — one that upholds our nation’s values, including our responsibility to protect and empower the most vulnerable by eliminating extreme poverty.