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In the News 12.07.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 12.07.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 12.07.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 12.07.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Since You’re About to Be Orphaned, Young Future Superhero, Let Me Lay One Last Guilt Trip On You

Have a seat, son. We need to talk. I’ll be heading out soon, into one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods of our dangerous city, and I have a feeling I might not make it back. But before I go, let me lay one last massive guilt trip on you.

Want some coffee? I know you’re a little young, but your mother or aunt isn’t home, and coffee is all I know how to make. Sugar? No, son, the men in this house take our coffee black as the night. Which is full of crime.

See, that teenage whining right there is why we need to have this talk. I know you haven’t had it easy, here in our impoverished working-class or obscenely wealthy home, but your mother/aunt and I have always done the best we can for you. I know you’re going through some things, feeling rebellious and all that, but I want you to know that, regardless of how violently I die or how much you’re to blame for my suffering, I love you.

It just seems important to say that to you today, for some reason.

Read the rest of this article at: McSweeny’s

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The Decline of Marriage Is Hitting Vegas Hard

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Roland August has officiated at thousands of weddings in Las Vegas, the self-proclaimed capital of “I do.”

But these days August—who often presides dressed as Elvis Presley—has a rare vantage point from which to observe the nation’s long shift toward “I don’t.”

Nevada’s marriage rate has plummeted in recent decades, an extreme version of a pullback happening across the U.S. The forces that have reshaped the nation’s economic life since the 1970s have helped make marriage an institution increasingly reserved for the well-educated and more affluent. A spate of recent research suggests America’s marriage gap is cementing disadvantage.

The wedding chapels where August works have seen business dwindle, he said, and Vegas is pushing to reverse the decline in an industry that generates as much as $3 billion in economic activity annually. In 2015 the surrounding county introduced a $14 surcharge on marriage licenses to pay for marketing, and local business leaders helped start a Wedding Chamber of Commerce last year. The data show an effort working against a broader national shift.

“Life has prioritized things differently,” August said.

Marriage has become a clear dividing line in a stratified country. Its decline is most pronounced among those who didn’t go beyond high school, as better educated people tend to marry each other. America’s working and middle classes are faring badly, and the research points to unraveling families as one cause.

Half of Americans older than 18 were married in 2014, down from 72 percent in 1960, according to the Pew Research Center. The shift is more pronounced for the less educated, which is a loose proxy for income: As of 2014, almost 75 percent of women with bachelor’s degrees were married by their early 40s, versus less than 60 percent of women with only a high-school diploma, according to the Brookings Institution.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg


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Paddington Bear, Refugee

Long before J. K. Rowling’s exhilarating invention, twenty years ago, of Platform Nine and Three-Quarters—the location at King’s Cross station where students bound for Hogwarts depart by marching full tilt at a wall—another children’s author had imbued another major London railway station with perpetual magic. When Michael Bond, a BBC cameraman and part-time writer, conceived of a story, in the late nineteen-fifties, in which a small bear from South America arrived in London, he chose Paddington Station as the place where the creature would be found, and thence adopted, by an English family, the Browns. Paddington Station—which connects Wales and western England with London—is named for the area of London where it is situated, a settlement dating back more than a thousand years. The precise etymology of the place name Paddington is obscure, though it most likely is of Anglo-Saxon origin, referring to a geographical area ruled by a now-forgotten chief named Padda. The name now belongs, of course, to Paddington Bear, the enduring and beloved creation of Bond, who died this week at the age of ninety-one.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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How Economics Became a Religion


Although Britain has an established church, few of us today pay it much mind. We follow an even more powerful religion, around which we have oriented our lives: economics. Think about it. Economics offers a comprehensive doctrine with a moral code promising adherents salvation in this world; an ideology so compelling that the faithful remake whole societies to conform to its demands. It has its gnostics, mystics and magicians who conjure money out of thin air, using spells such as “derivative” or “structured investment vehicle”. And, like the old religions it has displaced, it has its prophets, reformists, moralists and above all, its high priests who uphold orthodoxy in the face of heresy.

Over time, successive economists slid into the role we had removed from the churchmen: giving us guidance on how to reach a promised land of material abundance and endless contentment. For a long time, they seemed to deliver on that promise, succeeding in a way few other religions had ever done, our incomes rising thousands of times over and delivering a cornucopia bursting with new inventions, cures and delights.

This was our heaven, and richly did we reward the economic priesthood, with status, wealth and power to shape our societies according to their vision. At the end of the 20th century, amid an economic boom that saw the western economies become richer than humanity had ever known, economics seemed to have conquered the globe. With nearly every country on the planet adhering to the same free-market playbook, and with university students flocking to do degrees in the subject, economics seemed to be attaining the goal that had eluded every other religious doctrine in history: converting the entire planet to its creed.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

The Brutal Rise of El Mencho

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On a hot, humid night last August, two wealthy Mexican brothers went out to party in Puerto Vallarta.

Ivan, 35, and Jesus Alfredo Guzmán, 29, had been vacationing in the resort city all week. Now it was Sunday, the night before Ivan’s 36th birthday, and they booked a table at an upscale restaurant called La Leche to celebrate. Six men and nine women joined them there – young, attractive and well-dressed, driving Range Rovers and Escalades – where they sat at a long candle-lit table in the center of the all-white room, ordered champagne and sang “Happy Birthday.” Three hours later they were wrapping up their night when, shortly after midnight, a half-dozen men with assault rifles burst in and surrounded them.

One gunman forced Ivan to his knees, then kicked him hard in the ribs, sending him sprawling to the floor. Jesus Alfredo was also held at gunpoint. The brothers and the other men were then hustled out to two waiting SUVs and driven off into the night, while the women were left unharmed. The whole operation took less than two minutes – the restaurant’s owner would later describe it as “violent, but very clean.” And thus, without a shot being fired, the two youngest sons of notorious Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín Guzmán – a.k.a. “El Chapo” – had been kidnapped.

Chapo’s sons had made the mistake of partying on the turf of Sinaloa’s newest and most dangerous rival: an upstart cartel boss named Rubén Oseguera Cervantes – alias “El Mencho.” A former Jalisco state policeman who once served three years in a U.S. prison for selling heroin, Mencho heads what many experts call Mexico’s fastest-growing, deadliest and, according to some, richest drug cartel – the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, or CJNG. Although he’s basically unknown in the U.S., Mencho has been indicted in a D.C. federal court on charges of drug trafficking, corruption and murder, and currently has a $5 million bounty on his head. Aside from perhaps Rafael Caro Quintero – the aging drug lord still wanted for the 1985 torture and killing of a DEA agent – he is probably America’s top cartel target. “It was Chapo,” says a DEA source. “Now it’s Mencho.”

CJNG have been around for only about half a decade, but with their dizzyingly swift rise, they have already achieved what took Sinaloa a generation. The cartel has established trafficking routes in dozens of countries on six continents and controls territory spanning half of Mexico, including along both coasts and both borders. “[CJNG] have increased their operations like no other criminal organization to date,” said a classified Mexican intelligence report obtained by the newspaper El Universal. This past May, Mexico’s attorney general, Raúl Cervantes, declared them the most ubiquitous cartel in the country.

Read the rest of this article at: RollingStone Magazine

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @lovelypepa; @frenchcountrycottage;