here’s hunger games

The Independent: 

Speculation by large investment banks is driving up food prices for the world’s poorest people, tipping millions into hunger and poverty. Investment in food commodities by banks and hedge funds has risen from $65bn to $126bn in the past five years, helping to push prices to 30-year highs and causing sharp price fluctuations that have little to do with the actual supply of food…

monopolize our spectrum

via Wired’s Idea Lab

You’d think that Congress would want to have an empowered regulator able to do something to protect the country from the rational, profit-seeking depredations of our new generation of monopolists. 

Instead, the House Republicans are going in exactly the opposite direction.

Disabling the FCC !

reign of corruption

Thomas Frank: 

But the problem goes far beyond politics.

We have become a society that can’t self-correct, that can’t address its obvious problems, that can’t pull out of its nosedive.

…we have entered an age of folly that—for all our Facebooking and the twittling tweedle-dee-tweets of the twitterati—we can’t wake up from.

genetics of altruism

David Sloan Wilson: 

1) Selfishness beats altruism within groups.
2) Altruistic groups beat selfish groups.
3) Everything else is commentary.

Wilson’s larger point is that, to the extent that altruism exists, it isn’t an illusion.

Instead, goodness might actually be an adaptive trait, allowing more cooperative groups to outcompete their conniving cousins.

In a field defined by the cruel logic of natural selection, group selection appears to be the rare hint of virtue, the one biological force pushing back against the obvious advantages of greed and deceit.

“I see human nature as hung in the balance between these two extremes.

“If our behavior was driven entirely by group selection, then we’d be robotic cooperators, like ants. But, if individual-level selection was the only thing that mattered, then we’d be entirely selfish.

“What makes us human is that our history has been shaped by both forces. We’re stuck in between.”

background on bananaland

Religious freedom is as American as apple pie, isn’t it?
How could anyone oppose it?

To recover America’s biblical foundation, Christians had to “do battle on the entire front:” not just in church, but in the courts, classrooms, outside abortion clinics and everywhere else….

The emerging Christian right asserted that this was the true meaning of “religious freedom” in America: freedom to institutionalize Christian dogma in American society and law.

Freedom of religion — a phrase that sounds at first blush like a bipartisan nod to our common political heritage — is a weapon of culture war.

dumb opinions are raising gas prices

by Jocelyn Fong

This tolerance for unsubstantiated claims about gas prices is part of a larger pattern among many news outlets: In an effort to capture the political argument of the day, journalists often miss the larger, more interesting, and more important story.

What is the origin and the nature of our problem with gas prices?
What can we do about it?
Who supports and opposes those solutions?
Who benefits from the status quo?

If reporters aren’t framing their gas price coverage around these questions, they’re serving someone — but it’s not the public.