About damned time

All this talk about “search for the cure” — what search? This is why I don’t give to cancer organizations. We already know capitalism is poisoning our air, our water and everything we eat and touch:

In a landmark report, the WHO warned “synthetic chemicals” had “serious implications” for human health. The global health watchdog suggested so-called “gender-bending” compounds found in toys, PVC flooring and even credit cards should be banned in order to protect future generations.

The study said that more research was needed to fully understand the links between endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) – found in many household and industrial products – and “specific diseases and disorders”.

It found links between exposure to EDCs and health issues such as testicular problems, breast, prostate and thyroid cancer, developmental effects on the nervous system in children and attention deficit hyperactivity in children.

The UN agency said the study, titled State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, was the most “comprehensive” report on EDCs to date because it has evaluated several chemicals and related evidence rather than focusing on just one.

If you just pull harder on those bootstraps

I’m sure it’ll all be fine!

As many schools are racing to adopt the latest technologies—tablets, e-readers, cell phones—in their classrooms, low income students and poorly funded school districts are being left in the dust. A survey of middle and high school teachers released Thursday found that the growing gap in internet access between rich and poor students is leading to increasingly troubling disparities in education.

Published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the survey found that only 3 percent of students in low income families have access to the internet at home through a computer or mobile device; the number rises to 20 percent for middle income children and half for those in higher income families.

According to the report, teachers in urban areas are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access to digital tools in school, compared to rural teachers who are least likely to say their students have sufficient access at home.

The respondents admitted that this growing disparity in access is leading to a gap in performance, with over half saying that “today’s digital technologies are widening the gap between the most and least academically successful students.”

Ben the hippie

Krugman:

So here’s my question: Will it make any difference that Ben Bernanke has now joined the ranks of the hippies?

Earlier this week, Mr. Bernanke delivered testimony that should have made everyone in Washington sit up and take notice. True, it wasn’t really a break with what he has said in the past or, for that matter, with what other Federal Reserve officials have been saying, but the Fed chairman spoke more clearly and forcefully on fiscal policy than ever before — and what he said, translated from Fedspeak into plain English, was that the Beltway obsession with deficits is a terrible mistake.

First of all, he pointed out that the budget picture just isn’t very scary, even over the medium run: “The federal debt held by the public (including that held by the Federal Reserve) is projected to remain roughly 75 percent of G.D.P. through much of the current decade.”

He then argued that given the state of the economy, we’re currently spending too little, not too much: “A substantial portion of the recent progress in lowering the deficit has been concentrated in near-term budget changes, which, taken together, could create a significant headwind for the economic recovery.”

Finally, he suggested that austerity in a depressed economy may well be self-defeating even in purely fiscal terms: “Besides having adverse effects on jobs and incomes, a slower recovery would lead to less actual deficit reduction in the short run for any given set of fiscal actions.”

So the deficit is not a clear and present danger, spending cuts in a depressed economy are a terrible idea and premature austerity doesn’t make sense even in budgetary terms. Regular readers may find these propositions familiar, since they’re pretty much what I and other progressive economists have been saying all along. But we’re irresponsible hippies. Is Ben Bernanke? (Well, he has a beard.)

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