Yet Another Record Set Under Obama’s Watch: US Citizenship Renounced

Written by  Mockarena:

According to this, more US taxpayers than ever before are renouncing their citizenship or green cards.

Granted, it’s not like an epidemic or anything, but it’s pretty telling all the same, that in 2013 alone, nearly 3000 people decided that the US is no longer a suitable home.  And it’s a 221% increase over the number of folks who hightailed it out of America in 2012.

The reason?  Oppressive taxation, of course. According to this, “Complex or costly taxes can help sway a decision but are often only one factor. Although statistics are not available for why people say a final good-bye, many now find America’s global income tax compliance and disclosure laws inconvenient and nettlesome. Some go so far as to say that the U.S. tax and disclosure laws are downright oppressive.”

Just one more record that has been set during Obama’s presidency.  Add that to this list:
1. Record number of Americans on food stamps.
2.  Record high of long term joblessness
3.  Record low number of black Americans employed
4.  Record high national debt
5.  Worst record on budget deficits
6.  Record number of Americans receiving disability benefits

33 Fascinating Things We Learned About Ourselves From Polls This Year

Chances are, you think the country is on the wrong track and are worried about terrorist attacks. And there’s a 1-in-10 shot you look at your phone during sex.
Apparently, we Americans consider this relaxing.
Apparently, we Americans consider this relaxing. (Elsa/Getty Images)

How are we feeling?
Pretty glum. In November, 70 percent of Americans said the country was “on the wrong track,” the highest number in two years (ABC/The Washington Post), and 42 percent expect the economy to get worse in the next 12 months (NBC/The Wall Street Journal). 54 percent say they’ve felt little or no economic improvement since the 2008 financial crisis (ABC/The Washington Post), and 29 percent think the economy will never fully recover (Rutgers University). That sense of pessimism extends overseas. 70 percent say the U.S. is losing respect internationally, and 53 percent believe America plays a less important role in the world than a decade ago. 52 percent say the U.S. should mind its own business and try to stay out of other nations’ affairs (Pew Research Center).

Who do we blame for America’s problems?
Politicians. 59 percent of voters disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy, and60 percent don’t like how he’s dealt with health care (Quinnipiac). Even young Americans are souring on the president, with 54 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds saying they’re unhappy with his performance (Harvard University). Voters aren’t frustrated with Obama alone — only 9 percentapprove of the way Congress is doing its job, the lowest number in 39 years (Gallup), and 60 percent would like to replace every single senator and representative (NBC/The Wall Street Journal). To get better politicians, though, we may need better voters. 55 percent say most Americans are guided by their emotions, not facts, when they vote (Rasmussen).

How has society changed?
We’re more open-minded. A record 63 percent say it is “morally acceptable” for unmarried people to have sex, 59 percent have no moral objections to gay relationships, and for the first time a majority of Americans — 58 percent — favor legalizing marijuana (Gallup). But we’re troubled by technology’s effect on the nation. 59 percent say the internet and social media are making Americans ruder (Weber Shandwick), and 69 percent think we’re too distracted by our gadgets (Harris Interactive). Evidence suggests they’re right. 49 percent of adults and 43 percent of teenagers admit to texting while driving even though they know it’s unsafe (AT&T/USA Today). 33 percent of smartphone owners say they’ve used their device during a dinner date. 9 percent admit to looking at their phones during sex (Jumio/Harris Interactive).

How do we relax?
We watch a lot of sports. Pro football is by far America’s favorite sport, with 48 percent of sports fans saying they closely follow events on the gridiron, compared with 11 percent who are devoted to pro basketball and 7 percent to Major League Baseball (Public Religion Research Institute). 84 percent of football fans say their viewing pleasure hasn’t been affected by growing scientific evidence that hard hits can leave players permanently brain damaged (HBO/Marist).

What are we scared of?
A lot. 66 percent worry about a terrorist attack on their community (Reuters/Ipsos), and 55 percent fear that a mass shooting might happen in their area (ABC News/The Washington Post). For many, Washington is what keeps them up nights. 53 percent think the government threatens their personal rights and freedoms (Pew Research Center), while 36 percent of Americans, including 62 percent of Republicans, suspect the Obama administration is secretly plotting to seize everyone’s guns (Public Policy Polling). Despite our fear of the feds, 56 percent approve of drone aircraft being used to kill suspected foreign terrorists on U.S. soil (Fox News). But there are limits to the powers we’re prepared to grant flying robots. An overwhelming 72 percent oppose using drones to monitor motorists and issue speeding tickets (Monmouth University).

7 Surprising Facts About Beer

Why yes, the man behind this delicious Irish stout is the same one who created the fact-filled book.
Why yes, the man behind this delicious Irish stout is the same one who created the fact-filled book. (Tobias Hase/dpa/Corbis)
From hops’ kinship to a certain illicit green herb to brewing yeast hibernating inside insects, the beer world brims with deliciously unexpected stories. To spark your next barstool conversation, here are seven surprising things you didn’t know about beer… until now.

Weeding out the truth
There’s a reason that dank, pungent IPAs and double IPAs smell like a medical-marijuana dispensary. Genetically speaking, hops and cannabis are both members of the Cannabaceaefamily. Just don’t try to smoke them: Hops contain no mood-altering THC.

For the record
In 1951, Guinness’ managing director Sir Hugh Beaver was enmeshed in an argument about Europe’s fastest game bird: The grouse or the koshin golden plover. Unable to find a suitable answer, he decided that there was probably a market for a fact-filled book. In 1955, The Guinness Book of Records was published.

Gutsy brews
During the winter, Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast — it’s used to brew beer — has a safe, warm refuge in the guts of wasps. There are rare cases of humans harboring the strain, resulting in “auto-brewery syndrome”: The yeast converts starches into alcohol, effectively “brewing” beer in your gut.

Whiskey’s sudsy origins
Whiskey starts its life as beer. More specifically, as a distiller’s beer, or wash, that’s made with malted barley, water, and yeast, and then distilled and usually aged in charred oak barrels. The key factor separating distiller’s beer from regular beer: No hops. That distiller’s beer is then distilled to make whiskey.

New York City: America’s first beer town
In 1612, Hans Christensen and Adrian Bloch opened the first brewery in British North America in New Amsterdam — the future home of New York City. By the 1620s, Dutch settlers had started planting hops throughout Manhattan.

Skunky science
Whether the glass is brown, green, or clear, every bottle lets in ultraviolet light, which can cause beer to smell skunky. That’s a result of the presence of hops, which, when boiled, release isohumulones. When light strikes these chemicals, they create chemical compounds that are also found in skunks’ spray.

America’s two beers
Yes, the craft beer boom has resulted in thousands of brews for Americans to choose from. But only two styles of beer are indigenous to the United States. The first is cream ale, which contains zero dairy. Instead, it is fermented warm, then conditioned at colder temperatures for a crisp profile. The second style is California Common, a lager fermented with a special yeast that functions better at toastier temperatures. The iconic example is Anchor Steam, which has copyrighted the moniker.

Which Professions Have the Most Psychopaths?

And which have the fewest?

Okay, okay. Most psychopaths don't have a knife behind their back.
Okay, okay. Most psychopaths don’t have a knife behind their back. (Thinkstock)

First off, psychopath doesn’t just mean someone who cuts you up with a chainsaw — though the majority of people who do things like that are psychopaths. What is the definition?

Psychopathy is a personality disorder that has been variously described as characterized by shallow emotions (in particular reduced fear), stress tolerance, lacking empathy, coldheartedness, lacking guilt, egocentricity, superficial character, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity, and antisocial behaviors such as parasitic lifestyle and criminality.

So which professions (other than ax murderer) have the most psychopaths? What about the least?

The next thing that comes to mind is probably, “Why?”

Most of the professions on the right require human connection, dealing with feelings — and most of them don’t offer much power. Psychopaths, by their very nature, would not be drawn to or very good at these things.

On the other hand, most of the roles on the left do offer power and many require an ability to make objective, clinical decisions divorced from feelings. Psychopaths would be drawn to these roles and thrive there.

That said…

Chef? Really?

I guess it pays to tread lightly around anyone who has a set of knives bearing their initials.

7 Civil War Stories You Didn’t Learn in High School

The Civil War is the climax in the story of how the United States came to be what it is today, but it’s also a source of some bizarre and surprisingly cool trivia

Twain didn't stick around on the front lines.
Twain didn’t stick around on the front lines. (CORBIS)

For many American historians, the Civil War is the climax in the story of how the United States came to be what it is today. But you knew that. What you might not have known: It is also a source of some bizarre and surprisingly cool trivia.

1. Lincoln’s first solution to slavery was a fiasco

Early in his presidency, Abe was convinced that white Americans would never accept black Americans. “You and we are different races,” the president told a committee of “colored” leaders in August 1862. “…But for your race among us there could not be war…It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.” Lincoln proposed voluntary emigration to Central America, seeing it as a more convenient destination than Liberia. This idea didn’t sit well with leaders like Frederick Douglass, who considered colonization to be “a safety valve…for white racism.”

Luckily for Douglass (and the country), colonization failed spectacularly. One of the first attempts was on Île à Vache, a.k.a. Cow Island, a small isle off the coast of Haiti. The island was owned by land developer Bernard Kock, who claimed he had approved a black American colony with the Haitian government. No one bothered to call him on that claim. Following a smallpox outbreak on the boat ride down, hundreds of black colonizers were abandoned on the island with no housing prepared for them, as Kock had promised.

To make matters worse, the soil on Cow Island was too poor for any serious agriculture. In January 1864, the Navy rescued the survivors from the ripoff colony. Once Île à Vache fell through, Lincoln never spoke of colonization again.

2. Hungry ladies effectively mugged Jefferson Davis

The Confederacy’s image hinged on the notion that the rebellious states made up a unified, stable nation. However, the hard times of war exposed just how much disunity there was in Dixieland. Civilians in both the North and South had to cope with scarcity and increased food prices, but the food situation was especially bad in the South because outcomes on the battlefield were directly linked to the CSA’s currency — rising food prices were hard enough to deal with without wild fluctuations in what the money in your pocket could buy.

Invading northern troops, of course, poured salt on the wounds of scarcity, burning crops and killing livestock. But in Richmond, Virginia, those who couldn’t afford the increasingly pricey food blamed the Confederate government. Hungry protesters, most of whom were women, led a march “to see the governor” in April 1863 that quickly turned violent. They overturned carts, smashed windows and drew out Governor John Letcher and President Jefferson Davis. Davis threw money at the protesters, trying to get them to clear out, but the violence continued. So, he threatened to order the militia to open fire, which settled things down pretty quickly.

3. The Union used hot air balloons and submarines

The balloons, directed by aeronaut Thaddeus Lowe, were used to spot enemy soldiers and coordinate Federal troop movements. During his first battlefield flight, at First Bull Run, Lowe landed behind Confederate lines, but he was rescued.

The Union Army Balloon Corps got no respect from military officials, and Lowe resigned when he was assigned to serve, at a lower pay grade, under the director of the Army Corps of Engineers. In all, the balloonists were active for a little under two years.

In contrast, the paddle-powered Alligator submarine saw exactly zero days of combat (which is why it can’t officially be called the U.S.S. Alligator). It suffered from some early testing setbacks, but after some speed-boosting tweaks, it was dispatched for Port Royal, South Carolina, with an eye towards aiding in the sack of Charleston. It was to be towed south by the U.S.S. Sumpter, but it had to be cut loose off of North Carolina on April 2, 1863, when bad weather struck. Divers and historians are still looking for the Alligator today.

But the undersea capers don’t end there. A few months after the loss of the Alligator, the CSA launched their own submarine, the H.L. Hunley, named after its inventor. The Hunley attacked and sank the U.S.S. Housatonic off the coast of Charleston, making it the first submarine ever to sink an enemy ship. The only problem is that it also sank soon afterwards, and all eight crewmen drowned.

4. “Dixie” was only a northern song

The precise details of when composer Dan Emmett wrote “Dixie” seemed to change every time he told the story (and some even dispute that Emmett was the author in the first place). But he first performed it in New York City in 1859, with the title “I Wish I Was in Dixie’s Land.”

Emmett was a member of a blackface troupe known as the Bryant’s Minstrels, but he was indignant when he found out that his song had become an unofficial anthem of the Confederacy. He went on to write a musicians’ marching manual for the Northern army.

Before and during the war, the song was a huge hit in New York and across the country, and quickly became one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite tunes. The day after the Surrender at Appomattox, Lincoln told a crowd of Northern revelers, “I have always thought ‘Dixie’ was one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it.” He then asked a nearby band to play it in celebration.

5. Paul Revere was at Gettysburg

Paul Joseph Revere, that is — the famous Paul Revere’s grandson. Unfortunately for fans of the first Revere and his partly mythical Ride, PJR was in the infantry, not the cavalry, with the 20th Massachusetts. He and his brother Edward were captured at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in October 1861. After being released in a prisoner exchange, the Reveres rejoined the fight.

Paul was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in September, 1862, shortly before he was wounded in the brutal Battle of Antietam (a.k.a. the Battle of Sharpsburg). Edward, however, wasn’t so lucky — he was one of more than 2,000 Union soldiers who didn’t make it out of Sharpsburg, Maryland alive.

By the following year, Paul was promoted again to Colonel, leading the 20th Massachusetts at Chancellorsville and, in his final days, at Gettysburg. On July 3, 1863, he was mortally wounded by a shell fragment that pierced his lung, and he died the next day. He was posthumously promoted again to Brigadier General, and is buried in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

6. Mark Twain fired one shot and then left

At least, that’s what he claimed in “The Private History of a Campaign that Failed,” a semi-fictional short story published in 1885, after The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but before A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. In it, he recounts a whopping two weeks spent in 1861 with a Confederate militia in Marion County, Missouri. But he introduces the tale by saying that even the people who enlisted at the start of the war, and then left permanently, “ought at least be allowed to state why they didn’t do anything and also to explain the process by which they didn’t do anything. Surely this kind of light must have some sort of value.”

Twain writes that there were fifteen men in the rebel militia, the “Marion Rangers,” and he was the second lieutenant, even though they had no first lieutenant. After Twain’s character shoots and kills a Northern horseback rider, he is overwhelmed by the sensation of being a murderer, “that I had killed a man, a man who had never done me any harm. That was the coldest sensation that ever went through my marrow.” However, his grief is slightly eased by the realization that six men had fired their guns, and only one had been able to hit the moving target.

7. The armies weren’t all-male

Hundreds of women on both sides pulled a Mulan, assuming male identities and appearances so that they might fight for their respective nations. Some of them did it for adventure, but many did it for monetary reasons: The pay for a male soldier was about $13 month, which was close to double what a woman could make in any profession at the time.

Also, being a man gave someone a lot more freedom than just being able to wear pants. Remember, this was still more than half a century away from women’s suffrage and being a man meant that you could manage your monthly $13 wages independently. So it should come as no surprise that many of these women kept up their aliases long after the war had ended, some even to the grave.

Their presence in soldiers’ ranks wasn’t the best-kept secret. Some servicewomen kept up correspondence with the home front after they changed their identities, and for decades after the war newspapers ran article after article chronicling the stories of woman soldiers and speculating on why they might break from the accepted gender norms. Perhaps not surprisingly, in 1909 the U.S. Army denied that “any woman was ever enlisted in the military service of the United States as a member of any organization of the Regular or Volunteer Army at any time during the period of the civil war.”

30 Statistics About Americans Under The Age Of 30

Why are young people in America so frustrated these days?  You are about to find out.  Most young adults started out having faith in the system.  They worked hard, they got good grades, they stayed out of trouble and many of them went on to college.  But when their educations where over, they discovered that the good jobs that they had been promised were not waiting for them at the end of the rainbow.  Even in the midst of this so-called “economic recovery”, the full-time employment rate for Americans under the age of 30 continues to fall.  And incomes for that age group continue to fall as well.  At the same time, young adults are dealing with record levels of student loan debt.  As a result, more young Americans than ever are putting off getting married and having families, and more of them than ever are moving back in with their parents.

It can be absolutely soul crushing when you discover that the “bright future” that the system had been promising you for so many years turns out to be a lie.  A lot of young people ultimately give up on the system and many of them end up just kind of drifting aimlessly through life.  The following is an example from a recent Wall Street Journal article

James Roy, 26, has spent the past six years paying off $14,000 in student loans for two years of college by skating from job to job. Now working as a supervisor for a coffee shop in the Chicago suburb of St. Charles, Ill., Mr. Roy describes his outlook as “kind of grim.”

“It seems to me that if you went to college and took on student debt, there used to be greater assurance that you could pay it off with a good job,” said the Colorado native, who majored in English before dropping out. “But now, for people living in this economy and in our age group, it’s a rough deal.”

Young adults as a group have been experiencing a tremendous amount of economic pain in recent years.  The following are 30 statistics about Americans under the age of 30 that will blow your mind…

#1 The labor force participation rate for men in the 18 to 24 year old age bracket is at an all-time low.

#2 The ratio of what men in the 18 to 29 year old age bracket are earning compared to the general population is at an all-time low.

#3 Only about a third of all adults in their early 20s are working a full-time job.

#4 For the entire 18 to 29 year old age bracket, the full-time employment rate continues to fall.  In June 2012, 47 percent of that entire age group had a full-time job.  One year later, in June 2013, only43.6 percent of that entire age group had a full-time job.

#5 Back in the year 2000, 80 percent of men in their late 20s had a full-time job.  Today, only 65 percent do.

#6 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 year old age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

#7 American families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#8 During 2012, young adults under the age of 30 accounted for 23 percent of the workforce, but they accounted for a whopping 36 percent of the unemployed.

#9 During 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.

#10 At this point about half of all recent college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.

#11 The number of Americans in the 16 to 29 year old age bracket with a job declined by 18 percent between 2000 and 2010.

#12 According to one survey, 82 percent of all Americans believe that it is harder for young adults to find jobs today than it was for their parents to find jobs.

#13 Incomes for U.S. households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you adjust for inflation since the year 2000.

#14 In 1984, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older was 10 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.  Today, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older is 47 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.

#15 In 2011, SAT scores for young men were the worst that they had been in 40 years.

#16 Incredibly, approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loans.

#17 According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student loan debt has risen by 275 percent since 2003.

#18 In America today, 40 percent of all households that are led by someone under the age of 35 are paying off student loan debt.  Back in 1989, that figure was below 20 percent.

#19 The total amount of student loan debt in the United States now exceeds the total amount of credit card debt in the United States.

#20 According to the U.S. Department of Education, 11 percent of all student loans are at least 90 days delinquent.

#21 The student loan default rate in the United States has nearly doubled since 2005.

#22 One survey found that 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in college.

#23 In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.

#24 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresseshave college degrees.

#25 Today, an all-time low 44.2 percent of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 are married.

#26 According to the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 24 year old age bracket lived with their parents during 2012.

#27 One poll discovered that 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.

#28 Young men are nearly twice as likely to live with their parents as young women the same age are.

#29 Overall, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents according to Time Magazine.

#30 Young Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated that previous generations have saddled them with a nearly 17 trillion dollarnational debt that they are expected to make payments on for the rest of their lives.

Government Shutdown? 36 Facts Which Prove That Almost Everything Is Still Running

All of this whining and crying about a “government shutdown” is a total joke.  You see, there really is very little reason why this “government shutdown” cannot continue indefinitely because almost everything is still running.  63 percent of all federal workers are still working, and 85 percent of all government activities are still being funded during this “shutdown”.  Yes, the Obama administration has been making a big show of taking down government websites and blocking off the World War II Memorial, but overall business in Washington D.C. is being conducted pretty much as usual.

It turns out that the definition of “essential personnel” has expanded so much over the years that almost everyone is considered “essential” at this point.  In fact, this shutdown is such a non-event that even referring to it as a “partial government shutdown” would really be overstating what is actually happening.  The following are 36 facts which prove that almost everything is still running during this government shutdown…

#1 According to U.S. Senator Rand Paul, 85 percent of all government activities are actually being funded during this “government shutdown”.

#2 Approximately 1,350,000 ”essential” federal employees will continue to work during this “government shutdown”.

#3 Overall, 63 percent of the federal workforce will continue to work during this “government shutdown”.

#4 The U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver our mail.

#5 U.S. military personnel will remain on duty and will continue to get paid.

#6 Social Security recipients will continue to get their benefits.

#7 Medicare recipients will continue to get their benefits.

#8 Medicaid recipients will continue to get their benefits.

#9 Food stamp recipients will continue to get their benefits.

#10 Those on unemployment will continue to get their benefits.

#11 Federal retirees will continue to get their pensions.

#12 The federal school lunch program has enough money to go through at least the end of this month.

#13 Public schools all over the country will continue to stay open.

#14 Almost all federal law enforcement officials will continue working.

#15 The Federal Reserve will remain “completely functional“.

#16 The Supreme Court will continue to operate normally and federal courts have enough money to keep going for at least two weeks.

#17 TSA employees will continue to molest travelers at our airports.

#18 Air traffic controllers will continue to monitor traffic at our airports.

#19 Hopelessly outmanned border patrol agents will continue to try to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

#20 Visas and passports will continue to be issued by the State Department.

#21 The Veterans Administration will continue to offer substandard medical services, and it will be able to continue processing benefit payments at least for now.

#22 The Obama administration apparently has plenty of money to spend on closing open-air memorials that are usually open to the public 24 hours a day.

#23 The Department of Defense announced the awarding of 94 new contracts worth a combined total of more than 5 billion dollars on September 30th – the day right before the “government shutdown”.

#24 The “government shutdown” has not prevented the new two billion dollar NSA spy center from opening up.

#25 Federal prisons will continue to operate normally.

#26 Amtrak trains will continue to run.

#27 The Patent and Trademark Office will be open.

#28 The Consumer Product Safety Commission will continue to issue product recalls if the products “create an immediate threat to the safety of human life“.

#29 The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Centerwill continue to track weather patterns.

#30 If the federal government needs to respond to a natural disaster, this “shutdown” will not affect that.

#31 NASA will continue to support the Mars Rover and the two American astronauts up on the International Space Station.

#32 All city employees of the D.C. government have been deemed “essential” and will continue to go to work.

#33 Even though the Obamacare exchanges are not working properly, people will still be able to access them.

#34 The IRS will continue to collect taxes, but it will be suspending punitive audits of conservative organizations.

#35 Barack Obama will continue to get paid for the full duration of this “shutdown”.

#36 The U.S. Congress will continue to get paid for the full duration of this “shutdown”.

Of course not everything is operating normally during this government shutdown.  Government parks are closed.  The EPA and the Department of Energy have almost totally closed up shop.  But overall, most Americans are not going to notice much of a difference.

And perhaps now is a good time for the American people to evaluate whether or not they actually need a gigantic federal government that wastes enormous mountains of our money.

Report: Annual NYC Inmate Cost Exceeds Four Years at Harvard

Average cost per inmate — $167,731 a year — is more than four years of Ivy League tuition
Rikers Island
The Rikers Island penitentiary complex, which costs New York City hundreds of millions of dollars annually to run.
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

A recent report found that jailing an inmate in New York City for one year costs more than four years of tuition at an Ivy League university.

The Independent Budget Office found that in 2012 it cost the city $167,731 to hold each of its daily average of 12,287 inmates, or about $460 per inmate per day.

Undergraduate tuition at Harvard University is $38,891 annually, or $155,564 for a four-year degree.

Of those inmates, more than 2,000 were being held for drug offenses, surpassing the number for murders or robberies.

The majority of inmates are African-American (57 percent), followed by Hispanics (33 percent), whites (7 percent) and Asians (1 percent), a New York City Department of Corrections report said. The majority of inmates come from less affluent areas of the city.

Experts say certain expensive fixed costs in New York’s system keep the figure high despite a large drop in incarceration, which peaked in 1991 at about 22,000 inmates. The Department of Corrections has substantial pension and salary responsibilities and significant debt-service payments. It says 86 percent of its operating costs go to wages; it employs 9,000 relatively well-paid unionized correction officers. The department’s budget in 2012 was $1.08 billion.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year to run Rikers Island — a 400-acre island near the runways of LaGuardia Airport that has 10 jail facilities, thousands of staff members, its own power plant and a transportation system.

New York’s per-inmate costs dwarf other large cities’. Los Angeles spent $128.94 per day, or $47,063 per year, in its 2011-12 fiscal year, LA’s sheriff’s office said. According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, in 2010, the most recent year for which figures were available, Chicago spent $145 per inmate per day, or $52,925 for the year.

‘Draconian’ sentencing

In August the Obama administration announced steps to fix what it called unjust treatment of nonviolent drug offenders. It aimed to bypass mandatory prison terms while reducing the country’s huge prison population and saving jurisdictions billions of dollars.

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no truly good law-enforcement reason,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech unveiling the proposals.

The United States leads the world in the number of people behind bars, according to the International Center for Prison Studies in London.

The so-called war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing and related laws enacted in the 1980s and 1990s have contributed to a rising number of inmates, especially those charged with drug-related offenses.

Holder added in his August speech that one of the changes he would implement is ensuring that low-level, nonviolent drug offenders without ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels are not given “draconian mandatory minimum sentences.”

Among such measures is California’s three-strikes law, enacted in 1994, which mandates a state prison term of 25 years to life for any person convicted of a felony who has two or more previous convictions. This contributed to a mushrooming prison population in the state.

In 2011 the Supreme Court ordered California — which has the largest prison population of any U.S. state — to release tens of thousands of inmates or take other steps to ease prison overcrowding to prevent “needless suffering and death.”

California Governor Jerry Brown, instead of repealing the three-strikes law, proposed a $315 million plan in August to expand inmate capacity by sending the overflow to private prisons.

Over the past 30 years, there has been a 500 percent increase in U.S. incarceration rates, which has led to prison overcrowding and overwhelming financial burdens for states.

According to prisoner-advocacy group the Sentencing Project, people incarcerated on drug charges comprise half the population at the federal level.

And in state prisons, the number of drug offenders has increased 13-fold since 1980. Most of them are not high-level criminals, and most have no record of violent offenses.

How the Owners of All 32 NFL Teams Made Their Money

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Has the return of football season inspired you to pursue your dream of NFL franchise ownership? Here’s how someone—or, in many cases, someone’s parents or grandparents—becomes wealthy enough to buy a team.

Arizona Cardinals: Bill Bidwill

 

Owner Since: 1972

The Numbers: Forbes estimates the Cardinals are worth $961 million, making them the 24th most valuable team in the NFL.

Moving Man: Bidwill moved the team from St. Louis after his demands for a new stadium weren’t met.

How He Got Rich: Bidwill inherited the Cardinals from his father, Charles. Charles was a wealthy Chicago lawyer, and according to the book From Sandlots to the Super Bowl: The National Football League, 1920-1967, he had connections to Al Capone.

Atlanta Falcons: Arthur Blank

 

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: The Falcons are estimated to be worth $933 million, placing them 26th in the NFL franchise financial rankings. Blank reportedly bought the team for $545 million.

More Teams on the Way?: Blank has expressed interest in bringing an MLS team to Atlanta.

How He Got Rich: In 1978, Arthur Blank co-founded Home Depot. Story has it that during Home Depot’s early days, Blank and his business partner would stand in the parking lot handing out dollar bills to entice customers to browse the store. Blank is now worth an estimated $1.6 billion, meaning he could lure the entire population of China into a Home Depot if he wanted to.

Baltimore Ravens: Stephen Bisciotti

 

Owner Since: 2004

The Numbers: Bisciotti was a minority owner of the Ravens from 2000 until he bought the whole dang team through a $325 million deal with Art Modell in 2004. The Ravens are now worth $1.2 billion. Oh, they also won the Super Bowl last season, which looked like it was a lot of fun.

Young Gun: Bisciotti is the second youngest sole owner of an NFL franchise behind Dan Snyder. Bisciotti is the first youngest if you don’t count owners who are despised by their own fans.

How He Got Rich: Bisciotti founded Aerotek in a basement office with his cousin. This later turned into the parent company the Allegis Group, which owns both Aerotek and TEKsystems. Despite what they sound like, these companies are not fronts for a Bond villain’s plot for world domination, but rather staffing firms for engineering and technology companies.

Buffalo Bills: Ralph Wilson

 

Owner Since: 1959

The Numbers: The Buffalo Bills are worth $870 million, according to Forbes. Ralph Wilson founded the team in the then-AFL in 1959. The league eventually merged with the NFL in 1970, where the Bills went on to define small-market success in the early ’90s—before doing the exact opposite of that for the following two decades. At 94, Ralph Wilson is the oldest owner in the NFL.

How He Got Rich: After World War II, Wilson took over his father’s insurance company, and went on to purchase manufacturing plants, trucking companies, highway construction firms, TV and radio stations, and other businesses in the Detroit area and across the country. Much of this was under the purview of Ralph Wilson Enterprises, an early example of the megalomaniacal naming habits that would later breed Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Carolina Panthers: Jerry Richardson

 

Owner Since: 1993

The Numbers: The Panthers are worth a little over $1 billion.

Experience: Richardson actually played in the NFL for two seasons. He was a receiver for the Baltimore Colts in 1959 and 1960. Maybe he could throw on the pads for one more go and give Cam Newton another downfield target! (Disclaimer: Jerry Richardson is 77 years old and would likely be severely injured or even killed.)

How He Got Rich: Richardson owned Hardee’s franchises in South Carolina before going on to become the CEO of food services company Flagstar, which ran every Denny’s in the country. The company flirted with financial unrest until it was purchased by a private equity group in 1992. Richardson retired in 1995.

Read the rest of them here………….

The Strange Symbolism of the $1 bill

An eagle holding 13 arrows? A giant pyramid with an eye on top? Your currency’s strange imagery, explained.

By Ethan Trex, Mental Floss | 8:05am EST
For a small bill, it holds a lot of history.
For a small bill, it holds a lot of history. (Courtesy Shutterstock)

Crack open your wallet, pull out everyone’s favorite portrait of George Washington, and be prepared to learn about some odd symbolism that probably seemed perfectly normal in the 18th century. Here are the explanations behind some of the more baffling parts of our nation’s smallest bills.

What’s that weird pyramid drawing on the reverse of the bill?
The two circular drawings on the reverse of the bill are actually parts of the two-sided great seal of the United States. Although we don’t see the entire seal outside of our wallets too often, the notion of having a great seal is actually as old as the country itself. The Continental Congress passed a resolution on July 4, 1776, to create a committee to design a great seal for the fledgling nation, and heavy hitters John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson got the first crack at creating the seal.

Congress wasn’t so keen on the design these big names brought back, though, and it took nearly six years and several drafts to finally find a suitable seal. Congress finally approved of a design on June 20, 1782.

What’s the story behind the great seal of the United States?
According to the State Department, which has been the official trustee of the seal since 1789, both the obverse (front) and reverse (back) of the seal are rich with symbolism. The obverse picturing the eagle is a bit easier to explain. The bird holds 13 arrows to show the nation’s strength in war, but it also grasps an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 olives that symbolize the importance of peace. (The recurring number 13, which also appears in the stripes on the eagle’s shield and the constellation of stars over its head, is a nod to the original 13 states.) The shield floats unsupported over the eagle as a reminder that Americans should rely on their own virtue and strength.

The symbolism of the pyramid on the seal’s reverse is trickier. The pyramid has 13 steps — the designers apparently never got tired of the 13 motif — and the Roman numeral for 1776 is emblazoned across the bottom. The all-seeing Eye of Providence at the top of the pyramid symbolizes the divine help the early Americans needed in establishing the new country. The pyramid itself symbolizes strength and durability.

The divine overtones don’t stop with the unblinking eye, though. The Latin motto Annuit Ceptisappears over the pyramid; it translates into “He [God] has favored our undertaking.” The scroll underneath the pyramid reads Novus Ordo Seclorum, or “A new order of the ages,” which was meant to signify the dawn of the new American era.

How did the seal end up on our dollar bill?
We can thank former Secretary of State Cordell Hull’s busy schedule for that one. Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace had to wait for a meeting with Hull in 1934 and decided to kill time by thumbing through a State Department pamphlet on the great seal. The pamphlet contained an illustration of the reverse side of the seal with the pyramid, and Wallace was quite taken with the drawing. He took the seal to President Franklin Roosevelt and suggested the country mint a coin using the two sides of the seal.

FDR liked the seal, too. (Roosevelt and Wallace were both Masons and loved the all-seeing eye part of the reverse design, which echoed the concept of the Great Architect of the Universe.) He thought the seal should be on the reverse of the dollar bill rather than a coin, but he was worried the mystical imagery would offend Catholics. After Postmaster General James Farley assured FDR he didn’t think his fellow Catholics would have any problem with the design, Roosevelt approved a new dollar bill design that first appeared in 1935.

Did the founding fathers swipe any ideas from a magazine?
Possibly. The familiar E Pluribus Unum motto that the eagle holds in its beak underscores the union and togetherness of the 13 colonies. It might also underscore early Americans’ love of periodicals.

According to the State Department, recent historical research has indicated that this Latin motto may have been borrowed from Gentlemen’s Magazine, a London publication that ran from 1732 to 1922.

The magazine was popular in the colonies, and its title page always carried the E Pluribus Unummotto.

Why don’t the dates on the front of the bills change that often?
At the lower right of the portrait on the bill’s obverse you’ll see the word “Series” and a year. You might notice that these don’t change each year the way the numbers on minted coins do. Why not?

According to the Treasury, the series date only changes when there’s a new design for a bill, a new treasurer of the United States, or a new secretary of the Treasury. (These are the two officials whose signatures appear on either side of the portrait.) The series year itself changes when the secretary of the Treasury changes, while a change in the treasurer of the United States means that the series year remains the same, but a suffix letter gets tacked onto the end of the year.

What are the various other numbers on the obverse of the bill?
The bill’s serial number is the most prominently displayed set of digits on the dollar, but they’re not alone. If you take out a dollar, you’ll notice there are four large numbers in the corners of the bill’s open space. Like the encircled letter to the left of Washington’s portrait, these numbers tell which Federal Reserve Bank issued the note. (Each Fed’s number corresponds the letter of the alphabet assigned to the bank, with A=1, B=2, and so on.)

The tiny letters and numbers that appear on the top left and bottom right of the bill’s obverse indicate the position of the note on the Treasury’s printing plates. If your dollar bill has a tiny “FW” before this code, those letters indicate that it was printed at the Treasury’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, rather than in Washington, D.C.