Judging from the recent Gingrich and Santorum statements about the blahs, race-baiting is alive and well in the Republican Party. But, unlike the golden age of strapping young bucks with their welfare-financed t-bones, one of the key ingredients of Nixon-era racial fear mongering is absent:
Twenty years ago, a reporter tallying crime stats for our newspaper's weekly blotter might sift through dozens of killings on a single weekend. There were more than 1,000 homicides a year. Last year, there were fewer than 300 homicides — and many weekends with no killings.
Ten years ago, reporters working the streets kept mental lists of neighborhoods considered too dangerous to visit alone. Now, no neighborhood is off-limits. That sense of ambient criminal menace is gone.
Los Angeles —- like other big cities around the country — is in the midst of a crime drop so steep and profound, it has experts scratching their heads. Crime fell in 2011 for the ninth year in a row, to levels not seen in Los Angeles since half a century ago.
Whether its because of more prisons and police, or less lead, there's a hell of a lot less crime, so the danger to the Republican voters from scary minorities is mostly limited to their pocketbooks.
The unemployment rate continues to edge downward, falling to 8.5% as the private sector continues to add jobs. It was the sixth consecutive month in which the economy added at least 100,000 jobs.
The economy's payrolls increased by 200,000 in December, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday. The data surpassed economists' expectations and mark a six-month stretch in which the economy generated 100,000 jobs or more in each month.
The nation's jobless rate slipped to 8.5 percent, its lowest level since February 2009 and down from a revised 8.7 percent reading for the previous month, adding to the upbeat tone of the monthly report.
[ ... ]
The closely watched employment report will likely cement views that economic growth accelerated in the fourth quarter after a tepid performance in the first nine months of 2011. However, the pace of job creation remains too slow to signal a robust economic recovery is finally under way.
The economy would need even faster job growth over a sustained period to make a noticeable dent in the pool of 24.4 million Americans who remain either out of work or underemployed 2-1/2 years after the end of the 2007-09 recession.
An improvement in the U.S. labor market is crucial for global markets because American consumer spending accounts for a fifth of the world's economic activity. A recovery in the U.S. would also mitigate the impact of the sharp slowdown in Europe.
Place your bets now on which way the GOP will choose to spin this news...will they try to take credit for the development, or will they try to dismiss it as irrelevant?###
This is so fucking cool.
While tooling around on the Internet, I ran across the story of Todmorden, the market town in Yorkshire in the UK that, from a modest guerrilla-gardening start less than four years ago is now well on its way to self-sufficiency in foodstuffs. They've set a goal of self-sufficiency by 2018, and they're already well on their way to that goal.Kentucky prides itself on broad swaths of green grass beside the highways and in the medians. Not only is this vast public acreage unproductive, it wastes millions of tax dollars in mowing and other maintenance. Why not turn it over to local gardeners to plant in food?
How do they do it? The ringleaders convinced the city authorities to let them set up community gardens anywhere and everywhere in town - abandoned lots, highway medians, ditches, you name it - and encourage the townsfolk to come and take as much as they wanted. For free. Even in front of the police station:
Outside the police station in the small Victorian mill town of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, there are three large raised flower beds.
If you'd visited a few months ago, you'd have found them overflowing with curly kale, carrot plants, lettuces, spring onions - all manner of vegetables and salad leaves.
Today the beds are bare. Why? Because people have been wandering up to the police station forecourt in broad daylight and digging up the vegetables. And what are the cops doing about this brazen theft from right under their noses? Nothing.
Well, that's not quite correct.
'I watch 'em on camera as they come up and pick them,' says desk officer Janet Scott, with a huge grin. It's the smile that explains everything.
For the vegetable-swipers are not thieves. The police station carrots - and thousands of vegetables in 70 large beds around the town - are there for the taking. Locals are encouraged to help themselves. A few tomatoes here, a handful of broccoli there. If they're in season, they're yours. Free.
So there are (or were) raspberries, apricots and apples on the canal towpath; blackcurrants, redcurrants and strawberries beside the doctor's surgery; beans and peas outside the college; cherries in the supermarket car park; and mint, rosemary, thyme and fennel by the health centre.
It's not just veggies and fruits the Tods are raising: They've got an egg campaign, other sorts of local livestock, an aquaponic fish-and-veg farm under development, and have inspired several other UK cities and towns to see how much of their own food they can produce.
Occupy the medians!
Santorum's Obsession: As Senator, He Mentioned Abortion 1,014 Times | According to the Sunlight Foundation, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum uttered the word "abortion" 1,014 times during his Senate terms between 1996 and 2007, accounting for 12.2 percent of all Senate mentions. Some of his other favorite words included partial-birth, fetus, and womb. During his Senate tenure, Santorum advocated for a number of bills restricting women's health rights, including sponsoring an act that criminalized late-term or "partial-birth" abortions (even though his wife had one).
Worst reality show ever.