Yes, poor Americans today undeniably have it "better" and "easier" than their poor counterparts of yesteryear. But stopping the conversation there, as Republicans would prefer in an assault against social programs and a minimum wage hike, utterly misses the point. Economic data shows that while consumer goods like phones and TVs have grown impossibly cheaper, the things that actually knit together the social fabric, like food and college and health care, have grown impossibly more expensive. The gap between the middle class and poverty has grown historically large—so large that the poorest among us may never manage to ford it.
“Did you bring any crack to smoke?” Rob Ford, Toronto mayor—and fresh target of mockery from Justin Bieber—will enter rehab. He was caught on yet another video smoking what looks like drugs (crack-cocaine, specifically) after a bender earlier this year at an exclusive nightclub.
North Portland, gaze upon your future. An oil train exploded into flames after derailing in Virginia. This is the eighth such significant "accident," according to federal data. In Canada, last year, one explosion killed 47 people.
Reported sex assaults among members of the military have climbed by 50 percent, thanks to an intensified effort in the Pentagon meant to encourage victims to come forward. One lingering nit? Officials still think too few men are willing to pursue claims.
A jihad camp in Oregon? A strange tidbit spilled from testimony in the terror trial of an Islamist cleric: a vague plan to set up a training compound on 160 acres of Afghanistan-like land in rural Oregon.
Russia's Vladimir Putin, renowned dove and peacenik, says Ukraine should withdraw its own troops from a restive part of its own country. For peace. And not, lest anyone get the wrong idea, because Putin wants to replace them with Russian soldiers instead. Russia's economy, because of the fallout over Ukraine, is already in recession, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Six couples in Ohio have filed a lawsuit challenging their state's 2004 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. If successful (and they ought to be) they'll help Ohio join several other states (hopefully soon to include Oregon) in ensuring LGBTQ neighbors aren't treated like second-class citizens.
Someone should point out the latest ills on display in war-torn South Sudan: With famine taking hold, and thousands of children now being drafted for combat, the infant African country is approaching outright collapse.
Antonin Scalia, America's favorite arch-conservative Supreme Court justice, made some grave factual mistakes in a recent dissent in an environmental case. The court was forced to quietly replace his dissent with a corrected version.
The saddest cell phone videos in the world. The hundreds of teenagers trapped in a sinking South Korean ferry faithfully recorded their emotional descent from nervous excitement into despair and despondency, and then death.
Meanwhile, over in New Jersey, a few dozen American teenagers were hatching a horrific senior prank. They broke into their high school after hours and flipped desks, greased doorknobs, pissed all over the hallways. About 60 of them were arrested.
RIP Al Feldstein. The longtime MAD editor, head idiot in the magazine's "usual gang of idiots," defined darkness and snark for a couple of generations of young Americans. He was 88.
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