Who’s happy, who’s not!

❝ If you want to go to your happy place, you need more than cash. A winter coat helps — and a sense of community.

A new report shows Norway is the happiest country on Earth, Americans are getting sadder, and it takes more than just money to be happy.

❝ Norway vaulted to the top slot in the World Happiness Report despite the plummeting price of oil, a key part of its economy. Income in the United States has gone up over the past decade, but happiness is declining.

The United States was 14th in the latest ranking, down from No. 13 last year, and over the years Americans steadily have been rating themselves less happy.

“It’s the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationship between people, is it worth it?” asked John Helliwell, the lead author of the report and an economist at the University of British Columbia in Canada — ranked No. 7…

❝ Norway moved from No. 4 to the top spot in the report’s rankings, which combine economic, health and polling data compiled by economists that are averaged over three years from 2014 to 2016. Norway edged past previous champ Denmark, which fell to second. Iceland, Switzerland and Finland round out the top 5…

❝ Study co-author and economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University said in a phone interview from Oslo that the sense of community, so strong in Norway, is deteriorating in the United States.

We’re becoming more and more mean spirited. And our government is becoming more and more corrupt. And inequality is rising,” Sachs said, citing research and analysis he conducted on America’s declining happiness for the report. “It’s a long-term trend and conditions are getting worse.”

Somehow, I don’t think folks betting on “Make America Great” know crap about what brings happiness to ordinary American families, working-class individuals.

The collapse of white middle class America

❝ In 2015, a blockbuster study came to a surprising conclusion: Middle-aged white Americans are dying younger for the first time in decades, despite positive life expectancy trends in other wealthy countries and other segments of the US population.

The research, by Princeton University’s Anne Case and Angus Deaton, highlighted the links between economic struggles, suicides, and alcohol and drug overdoses…Since then, Case and Deaton have been working to more fully explain their findings…

❝ In a new 60-page paper, “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st Century,” out in draft form in the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity…the researchers weave a narrative of “cumulative disadvantage” over a lifetime for white people ages 45 through 54, particularly those with low levels of education.

Along with worsening job prospects over the past several decades, this group has seen their chances of a stable marriage and family decline, along with their overall health. To manage their despair about the gap between their hopes and what’s come of their lives, they’ve often turned to drugs, alcohol, and suicide.

Meanwhile, gains in fighting heart disease have stalled, and rates of obesity and diabetes have ploddingly climbed.

Here are the five big takeaways from the researchers’ new opus.

❝ 1) Suicides, alcohol, and drug overdose deaths have gone up across the entire country…It’s not just a rural problem…

2) Deaths from chronic diseases such as diabetes have been rising…

3) The least-educated Americans are suffering the most…

4) Other nonwhite racial groups aren’t experiencing the same mortality uptick — so it’s not just about income…

5) This story is unique to the US…

❝ If American wants to turn the trend around, then it has to become a little more like other countries with more generous safety nets and more accessible health care, the researchers said. Introducing a single-payer health system, for example, or value-added or goods and services taxes that support a stronger safety net would be top of their policy wish list…

America right now is, of course, moving in the opposite direction under Trump, and shredding the safety net…

No one ever complained about American voters being quick to react to economic and political dangers threatening their lives and lifestyle. The opposite prevails courtesy of pundits, priests and – I would venture – a lockstep 2-party political hierarchy that severely limits opportunities for change outside the boundaries of obedience.

It may be that the contemptible, sneering class warfare now being inflicted in tandem by Trump and neo-con Republicans will provoke sufficient opposition to rise fast enough and deep enough to flush out the Democratic Party deadwood. I hope so.

That doesn’t mean I’m confident.

AT&T, Verizon join UK firms pulling ads from Google, YouTube over hate-group, terrorist content

❝ The U.K. advertising backlash against Google is spreading to the United States. Mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon, Enterprise car rental and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline are among the major ad buyers acting to distance their brands from the offensive and extremist content that saturates YouTube.

Following an eruption of brand association concerns in the U.K. that prompted the Guardian newspaper, European mobile carrier O2, British Royal Mail, Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Transport For London, the BBC, Domino’s Pizza, Hyundai Kia, McDonald’s, L’Oreal, Toyota and Volkswagen to pull ads from Google and/or YouTube specifically, a series of global brands have also jumped to pull their ads in America.


Do your online shopping with Aryan purity

❝ AT&T is pulling all advertisement from Google apart from paid search placement, a move that affects not only YouTube but millions of other websites that participate in Google’s ad network…

A spokesperson for Verizon said it was also pulling ads, noting that “Verizon is one of the largest advertisers in the world, and one of the most respected brands. We…blah, blah, blah.”

❝ Google declined to comment on the pulled ads, but offered a statement “we’ve begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear…”…

❝ The original investigation by The Times detailed why brands are concerned, noting that Google’s algorithms placed ads for Mercedes E-Class “next to an ISIL video praising jihad that has been viewed more than 115,000 times.”…

Hey. Google’s coders are at least as talented as the geeks working for the Russian GRU and the US NSA. They can come up with algorithms that search folks out by the color of their pubic hair and how many toes they wish they had. I find it unlikely or even difficult for Google to be put-off by the size of the task needed to change the situation they’ve wandered into.

No doubt profit-optimization got them there. It had better work to motivate solutions, now.

Ohio fossil fuel pimps pass anti-wind bill that costs schools hundred$ of thousand$ of dollar$


Give frackers a chance to match Ohio earthquakes with Oklahoma 🙂

❝ Superintendent Ken Amstutz dreamed of propelling his rural Ohio school district into a high-tech future with nearly a million dollars in annual revenue from a single wind farm set to go online this year.

That was until the state legislature blocked wind development across Ohio, halting construction of the Long Prairie Wind Farm and leaving Amstutz’s district in financial limbo…

❝ Revenue from the Long Prairie Wind Farm in Van Wert City would have delivered Chromebooks to every student in the district, Amstutz said. It would have ensured existing programs stay in effect and allowed the school to expand its science, math, and performing arts curricula. Teachers would have gotten raises, and the district would have had the resources to support new, innovative programs…

❝ A short drive up the road from Van Wert City Schools, students of Lincolnview Schools saw a different ending to the same story. That district benefits from a program that allows wind companies to provide a portion of their revenue to the local community — 80 percent to schools, 20 percent to the township — instead of paying taxes. Lincolnview’s clean-energy benefactor is the Blue Creek Wind Farm, which went up before the setback rule was changed. The project, which consists of 152 turbines that can power up to 76,000 homes, contributes $400,000 annually to local schools, funding classes like pre-engineering and biomedical.

“Additional revenue allows us to think out of the box and do something new,” said Linconview Superintendent Jeff Snyder. “We’ve been able to pay for new programs, classes, and technologies as a one-time expenditure. We’ve hired a couple of additional teachers, as well as a Special Ed director and a curriculum director… That money is not leaving our area to go somewhere else. It’s staying in our district to benefit our kids and future generations of students as well.”

❝ Lawmakers and lobbyists have seized on local opposition to wind power to pass policies that favor oil and natural gas — despite the fact that infrastructure-related risks, infringement on property rights, and nuisance issues used to justify the state’s aggressive resistance to wind can be common with fossil fuel extraction.

This doesn’t faze Ohio State Sen. Bill Seitz (R), who says that “cheap and plentiful” natural gas doesn’t threaten homeowners because, unlike wind turbines, gas infrastructure operates underground.

Like many Republicans or Conservative Democrats, fracking, problems with gas pipelines are nothing to be concerned about. No doubt they get their campaign checks right on time, too.

❝ There is still hope for the landowners, farmers, families, and schools of northwest Ohio who have not reaped the benefits of wind power…House Bill 190, introduced in 2015, would give setback and siting decisions to individual counties. If that bill is signed into law, schools across the state could see decades of revenue they desperately need.

Ohio state Sen. Cliff Hite (R), who voted for the bill that pulled the plug on Van Wert’s school funding, hopes to revive commercial wind development with HB 190. “I believe these projects should have the chance to thrive where people want them,” he said. “And I believe they will live to fight another day.”

The concept of elected officials providing leadership to a better future – instead of marching lockstep back into some imaginary past – remains an alien concept to an awful lot of Americans. Time to get up off your rusty- dusty folks and fightback.

Trump disses a poll that doesn’t exist

❝ On the grand scale of Things President Trump Says That Are Inaccurate or Misleading, a tweet Monday morning about a poll from CNN rates fairly low. It’s hardly at the level of Trump’s false assertion that millions of votes were cast illegally, for example, or his untrue claim that his predecessor tapped the phones at Trump Tower. But it is notably Trumpian for a few simple reasons.

1. It was disparaging a poll that he once cited as accurate.

2. It was apparently a response to something he saw on TV.

3. It was about TV ratings.

4. It was wrong.

❝ Trump’s tweet:

❝ This appears to have come in response to discussion on CNN’s “New Day” program about 10 minutes before Trump’s commentary. Anchor Poppy Harlow mentioned a daily tracking poll of Trump’s approval, which on Saturday hit a new low of 37 percent. She pointed out, accurately, that Trump still has strong support from his base, and the conversation quickly moved on.

That tracking poll, though, isn’t from CNN. It was from Gallup. CNN was simply reporting on it, as Harlow noted after Trump’s tweet…

❝ The last part of Trump’s tweet on Monday, though, isn’t about polls, it’s about Nielsen ratings…

It’s a very social-media thing to do, to misinterpret something someone says and then try to insult them as deeply as you can. Perhaps it’s not terribly presidential — but it is very Trump.

Though many reasonable folks have pointed out that Trump has the semantical sense of a sixth-grader – we need a few news anchors noting that he has the emotional maturity to match.

Trump approval rating sets new record – for low

❝ President Donald Trump’s approval rating is at a new low since he assumed office in January, hitting 37%, according to Gallup.

His disapproval rating, at 58%, is at a high point since he became president.

❝ These latest approval ratings come on the heels of a tumultuous week for the Trump administration and congressional Republican leadership, who are working to drum up support for their Affordable Care Act replacement bill…

The proposal, as it currently stands, would most negatively impact senior citizens, rural Americans, and low-income Americans. It would also leave an additional 24 million people uninsured by 2026, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

A majority of Americans disapprove of Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

The White House has also been playing defense on Trump’s unfounded claim that former president Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped during the 2016 campaign. There has been no evidence to support that theory, according to bipartisan consensus in Congress and in the intelligence community…

The lowest rating of any president’s starting 60 days since I’ve been voting.

Google braces for questions while big-name firms pull advertising

❝ Google executives are bracing for a two-pronged inquisition from the advertising industry and the government over the company’s plans to stop ads being placed next to extremist material.

A slew of big-name companies, advertising firms and government departments have either pulled their adverts from Google and its YouTube video site or are considering whether to do so, with media giant Sky, telecoms group Vodafone and a trio of banks adding their names to a growing list over the weekend…

❝ The ads help fund payments to the people who post the videos, with every 1,000 clicks worth about £6. Experts estimate this could have been worth £250,000 to extremists.

❝ Leading advertising agencies have been quick to react, with French marketing firm Havas, whose clients include O2 and Royal Mail, pulling its adverts late last week. Publicis, the world’s third-largest advertising firm, said it was reviewing its relationship with Google and YouTube.

The world’s largest advertising firm WPP, via its media-buying division GroupM, has stopped short of cancelling ads but has written to major clients asking them how they wish to proceed…

❝ While Google is yet to reveal what it plans to do, it is understood that advertisers will be told that they may not be making enough use of existing tools and it will offer to provide advice on how companies can better use these.

However, Google is also expected to take a wider look at how ads are placed, including whether it has put enough checks and balances in place to avoid unfortunate juxtapositions.

Advertisers paying for primo placement certainly should be able to determine who shelters in their shadow.