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The public plan has a very particular political lineage: The lesson liberals took from the 1994 health reform fight was that you couldn’t threaten the insurance coverage individuals already had. For many policy wonks, the central problem in health care was the existence of private insurance coverage. For most Americans, however, the central problem was that they could lose their private insurance coverage, and be left with something they didn’t like, or nothing at all. This effectively ruled out something like single-payer, or even Bill Clinton’s managed-care-within-managed-competition model. It ruled out anything that began by changing the health care coverage of those who wanted to keep their current policies. But that political insight didn’t cancel out the policy insight: The private insurance market is a mess. It’s supposed to cover the sick and instead competes to insure the well. It employs platoons of adjusters whose sole job is to get out of paying for needed health care services that members thought were covered. –“Health Care Reform for Beginners: The Many Flavors of the Public Plan,” Ezra Klein, The Washington Post
Despite being touted as a success story of corporate India’s capabilities, the Nano’s cheapness is only possible due to the largesse bestowed upon the Tata’s by that bete noire of the free-market, the lumbering Indian state. It is an open secret that the Nano is deeply discounted because of very large Government subsidies that have neither been scrutinised nor justified. While the Chief Minister of West Bengal had claimed the TINA factor in rolling out the red carpet for this car project at Singur, his Gujarat counterpart feels even less compelled to explain his executive decisions that made the move to Sanand attractive. –“The Nano and its Discontents,” Venu Madhav Govindu and Deepak Malghan, Tehelka
To hear the media tell the tale, the central problem facing working women today is the question of whether they should leave their professional careers to raise children. For much of the past decade, the “opt out” debate has been a staple of style sections and op-ed pages… The recession is an opportune moment to refocus the narrative about women and work on the majority of women who work–those who don’t have multiple degrees or high-power careers. The women who are housecleaners, caregivers, night-shift workers. The women who are stuck in occupations that are primarily female– without union representation or competitive pay. The women who never had a 401(k) in the first place. Instead, the dominant story line about gender and the recession has (surprise!) again been about upper-class women– and men. The Times considered “Why the Sting of Layoffs Can Be Sharper for Men.” New York magazine has created an entire beat devoted to covering the emasculating effects of investment bankers losing their jobs and how their wives are coping. When hourly wage-earning workers enter these stories, it is usually as “perks” that wealthier families have had to give up– the nanny, the gardener, the nail technician– not as people struggling just to make it through the financial crunch. –“When Opting Out Isn’t an Option: It’s time to shift the conversation about women and work,” Ann Friedman, The American Prospect
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Average portion of its yearly household expenditures that a South African family will spend on a funeral:
Neuroscientists were hoping to use rat brain waves to find people buried by earthquakes.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature