"Inequality Counts"

The Nation

Every three years since 1989, the Federal Reserve Board has prepared a
Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which carefully measures the net worth of
all households in the nation — that is, the total assets owned by all
Americans. The survey, the most complete and thorough analysis of individual
wealth, summarizes the financial resources of different groups of the
population, such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, business assets and real
estate. The most recent report, issued early in April 2006, details the
massive inequality of wealth in the United States between a small number of
households at the top of the income scale and those in the bottom half. This
report and other similar studies emphasize that this wealth inequality is
growing and is becoming a permanent part of our society.

The latest report examined the distribution of wealth in 2004 and makes
detailed comparisons showing the change in wealth among various population
groups. It notes the following:

The total net worth of all Americans in 1989 was $25 trillion (in 2004
dollars). Of that amount, the top 1 percent owned 30 percent, or $7.775
trillion. The bottom half owned 3 percent of the total, or $763 billion.

Fifteen years later, in 2004, the total wealth of all Americans had doubled
to $50.25 trillion. The top 1 percent of the population now owns 33.4
percent of the total, or $16.774 trillion. Their percentage share of the
total has increased by more than 3 percent in fifteen years. At the same
time, the total wealth owned by the bottom 50 percent increased to $1.278
trillion, but its percentage of total wealth declined from 3 percent to 2.5
percent in the same time period.

Thus the wealth of the top 1 percent was ten times the wealth of the bottom
50 percent in 1989. Fifteen years later, the wealth of the top 1 percent was
thirteen times the wealth of the bottom 50 percent.


Tensions Flare as Caledonia Standoff Continues

Canadian Broadcasting Company News

A fragile calm has settled in but a tense standoff continues in Caledonia,
Ontario, Canada, hours after aboriginal protesters and non-native residents traded
punches and insults.
The barricade came back up after native and non-native protesters clashed.

Ontario Provincial Police officers have separated the two sides, lining up
in a pair of columns to keep them apart on Highway 6, the main road
running through the southern Ontario town.

Local officials were to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.


Churchill investigation uncovers academic misconduct

Sara Burnett and Kevin Vaughan

From the Rocky Mountain News

A University of Colorado investigative
committee found deliberate and serious misconduct by
ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill, including
plagiarism, fabrication, and "serious deviation from
accepted practices in reporting results from
research," according to a report made public today.

The committee also noted Churchill was "disrespectful
of Indian oral traditions" when he wrote the U.S.
government distributed blankets infested with smallpox
to Mandan Indians in 1837 on the Upper Missouri River.

Three of the five members of the committee said the
transgressions were serious enough that CU could
revoke Churchill’s tenure and fire him. But two of
those three said the most appropriate sanction would
be a five-year suspension without pay.

The other two committee members said they were
"troubled by the circumstances under which these
allegations have been made," and "believe his
dismissal would have an adverse effect on other
scholars’ ability to conduct their research." Those
two recommended that Churchill be suspended without
pay for two years.


Alexander Zinoviev, 83, Changeable Russian Author, Dies

Douglas Martin, New York Times

Alexander Zinoviev, a philosopher turned popular author who won wide repute for his savage satires of Soviet society, only to become a surprising apologist for Communism after its demise, died in Moscow on Wednesday. He was 83.

The cause was brain cancer, his wife, Olga, told Agence France-Presse.

Mr. Zinoviev emerged from a large peasant family to become an influential philosopher of logic before writing withering, surrealistic mockeries of life in Communist Russia that were compared with the works of Hobbes, Swift and Voltaire. He drew particular praise for The Yawning Heights (1976), which depicted a society dying of boredom.


Halliburton Solves Global Warming

SurvivaBalls save managers from abrupt climate change

An advanced new technology will keep corporate managers safe even
when climate change makes life as we know it impossible.

"The SurvivaBall is designed to protect the corporate manager no
matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way," said Fred Wolf, a
Halliburton representative who spoke today at the Catastrophic Loss
conference held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Amelia Island, Florida.
"This technology is the only rational response to abrupt climate
change," he said to an attentive and appreciative audience.

Most scientists believe global warming is certain to cause an
accelerating onslaught of hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornadoes,
etc. and that a world-destroying disaster is increasingly possible.
For example, Arctic melt has slowed the Gulf Stream by 30% in just
the last decade; if the Gulf Stream stops, Europe will suddenly
become just as cold as Alaska. Global heat and flooding events are
also increasingly possible.

In order to head off such catastrophic scenarios, scientists agree we
must reduce our carbon emissions by 70% within the next few years.
Doing that would seriously undermine corporate profits, however,
and so
a more forward-thinking solution is needed.

At today's conference, Wolf and a colleague demonstrated three
SurvivaBall mockups, and described how the units will sustainably
protect managers from natural or cultural disturbances of any
intensity or duration. The devices - looking like huge inflatable
orbs - will include sophisticated communications systems, nutrient
gathering capacities, onboard medical facilities, and a daunting
defense infrastructure to ensure that the corporate mission will not
go unfulfilled even when most human life is rendered impossible by
catastrophes or the consequent epidemics and armed conflicts.

"It's essentially a gated community for one," said Wolf.


German 'Robin Hoods' give poor a taste of the high life

Allan Hall

From The Scotsman

A gang of anarchist Robin Hood-style thieves, who dress as
superheroes and steal expensive food from exclusive
restaurants and delicatessens to give to the poor, are being
hunted by police in the German city of Hamburg.

The gang members seemingly take delight in injecting humour
into their raids, which rely on sheer numbers and the
confusion caused by their presence. After they plundered
Kobe beef fillets, champagne and smoked salmon from a
gourmet store on the exclusive Elbastrasse, they presented
the cashier with a bouquet of flowers before making their

The latest robbery is part of a pattern over the past
several months, suggesting that the thieves deliberately set
out to highlight what they perceive as the inequality
inherent in German society.

However, the authorities do not agree. Bodo Franz, a police
spokesman, said: “They get off feeling they are just like
Robin Hood. There are about 30 in the group. But whatever
their motives, they are thieves, plain and simple.”

"Even Death if it's Necessary"
The Other Campaign's Challenge to the Rich and Powerful

Hermann Bellinghausen y Emir Olivares

Mexico City, May 1, 2006. — "Even death if it's necessary," is the phrase which Subcomandante Marcos has heard the most in the south and center of the country, expressed by groups most below to repudiate neoliberalism: indigenous, women, campesinos, small business people, workers, children, elders, students, exploited workers. "Even death if it's necessary" was the phrase with which the Zapatista delegate returned, after five years, to the heart of Mexico. Which is the same that he heard in Chiapas before 1994, "when women, men, children and old ones decided to rise up in arms against the supreme government" he recalled, in reference to the Zapatista villages in whose name he arrived here for the commemoration of the "other" May 1st.


'Cities' Author Jane Jacobs Dies at 89

AP News

Jane Jacobs, an author and community activist of singular influence whose classic "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" transformed ideas about urban planning, died Tuesday, her publisher said. Jacobs, a longtime resident of Toronto, was 89.

Jacobs died in her sleep Tuesday morning at a Toronto hospital, which she entered a few days ago, according to Random House publicist Sally Marvin. Jacobs' son, James, was with her at the time. The author, who would have turned 90 on May 4, had been in poor health.

A native of Scranton, Pa., Jacobs lived for many years in New York before moving to Toronto in the late 1960s. She and her husband, architect Robert Jacobs Jr., were unhappy that their taxes supported the Vietnam War and turned to Canada as their permanent home. Robert Jacobs died in 1996.

Jacobs, who based her findings on deep, eclectic reading and firsthand observation, challenged assumptions she believed damaged modern cities — that neighborhoods should be isolated from each other, that an empty street was safer than a crowded one, that the car represented progress over the pedestrian.

Her priorities were for integrated, manageable communities, for diversity of people, transportation, architecture and commerce. She also believed that economies need to be self-sustaining and self-renewing, relying on local initiative instead of centralized bureaucracies.


Math teacher arrested

Associated Press

At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math's instruction.

“Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,” Gonzales said. “They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'there are 3 sides to every triangle'.”

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math's instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.”


"Haiti's President Elect Begins Visit to Cuba"


Haitian President-elect Rene Preval begins a working visit to Havana
Wednesday, at the invitation of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Preval is accompanied by several of his future cabinet members and
other Haitian public figures. His visit is within the framework of
the historic ties of brotherhood and solidarity among the peoples of
Haiti and Cuba.

The president-elect's visit coincides with the arrival in Cuba of a
new group young Haitians scholarship students, as well as low-income
patients who will have free eye surgery as part of Operation Miracle.

During their stay on the island, Preval and his delegation will meet
with Commander in Chief Fidel Castro and complete an extensive agenda
that includes visits to places of scientific and social interest, as
well as hold talks with other local authorities.

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