News Round-Up: August 12, 2019

L-R Andrew Grose, me, Jeff Williams, Jeff Collins, Bill Ullman (circa 1985)

Some news items you might have missed:

Monday Memory: A friend from my days at Syracuse University recently sent me this backstage photo (above) of me with my fellow ‘Men of Syracuse’ before a performance. Dang, I hung out with some good-looking dudes.

Billboard: Out rapper Lil Nas X continues his reign atop the Billboard Hot 100 as his “Old Town Road” notches its 19th week as number one.

OUT: In 2015, there were 1,400 reported cases of Hepatitis A in the U.S. Over the past three years, the number has spiked to 23,000. Since type A can be transmitted via anal sex, the CDC recommends gay and bisexual men get vaccinated against the disease. Click here to find the nearest pharmacy or clinic that offers Hepatitis A vaccinations. If you’ve had it, you have built-in immunity now.

Business Insider: A new study shows that as New York City raised the minimum wage to $15 this year from $7.25, its restaurant industry outperformed the rest of the US in job growth and expansion. Researchers found no negative employment effects due to the city increasing its minimum wage.

Axios: The federal budget deficit is up 27% from the same period last fiscal year, which begins in October. Spending has continued to outpace revenue, with a 3% rise of revenue overshadowed by an 8% jump in spending. Remember how the Trump tax cuts were going to pay for themselves?

HBO: In this parody of FX’s POSE ball sequences, Bob the Drag Queen channels his version of Billy Porter’s ‘Pray Tell’ as host of “The Basic Ball.”

Instead of the kids showing off fabulousness, the categories here are “clinical depression,” “barbecue daddies,” and “running errands,” with competitors giving you neutral colors and family reunion t-shirts.

No ‘extra’ here, folks. It’s all down to ‘basic.’ Watch below or on YouTube here.


News Round-Up: July 18, 2019

Rugby legend and LGBTQ ally Ben Cohen

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: LGBTQ ally Ben Cohen is inviting supporters of his anti-bullying foundation to come out and join him for cross-training. I’ll go, but only if I can follow Ben 🙂

New York Times: A federal judge on Thursday denied bail for Jeffrey Epstein, the financier facing sex-trafficking charges in Manhattan, rejecting his request to await trial under home detention at his Upper East Side mansion.

NPR: Some of Puerto Rico’s biggest stars rallied a crowd of many thousands in San Juan on Wednesday, calling on the island’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, to resign. It was the fifth day in a row of protests in the U.S. territory, following a leak of hundreds of pages of misogynistic and homophobic texts between the governor and his main advisers.

Washington Post: The House passed a bill by a vote of 231-199 that would raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade. However, don’t expect the legislation to be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.

AFP News: Donald Trump asked Nobel laureate Nadia Murad how she won the Nobel Peace Prize after she explained how she won the Nobel Prize. Murad survived in the aftermath of her mother and six brothers being killed by ISIS and that 3,000 Yazidis remained missing. Trump asked, “And you had the Nobel Prize? That’s incredible. They gave it to you for what reason?” Murad paused, then repeated her story.

The Lion King: Check out Beyoncé’s musical contribution to the upcoming live-action remake of Disney’s The Lion King.

Titled “Spirit,” I find the video gorgeous. I’m on the fence about the melody. Let me know what you think.

California & New York To Raise Mimimum Wage To $15

California and New York become the first two states to implement $15 an hour minimum wage.

From the Washington Post:

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a measure Monday that will hike the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2023 — making the Golden State the second in the nation to legislate a wage hike to that level. The first came minutes earlier in New York, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) signed a similar piece of legislation, implementing staggered wage hikes throughout the state over the next several years.

In a pair of statements, President Obama commended both Cuomo and Brown, describing the increase as a step in the right direction.

“Since I first called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage in 2013, 18 states and more than 40 cities and counties have acted on their own — thanks to the strong leadership of elected officials, businesses, and workers who organized and fought so hard for the economic security families deserve,” he said in the statement on New York — and echoed in nearly identical language later on California’s minimum wage hike. “Now Congress needs to act to raise the federal minimum wage and expand access to paid leave for all Americans.”

McDonalds vs. In-N-Out

Via US Uncut

McDonald’s reported its worst profit and sales numbers in a decade on Tuesday, suffering losses in every major segment of business.

By contrast, In-N-Out Burger, which pays workers $11-14/hour plus health, dental, and 401(k) retirement benefits, continues to thrive and has been consistently ranked the top fast food chain in the US by Consumer Reports.

With that in mind, remember that conservatives love to proclaim that paying a higher minimum wage would “kill” businesses.

In-N-Out seems to be doing just great…

Read more on the differences at Salon.

California: Tax and minimum wage increases leads to rising economy

What happens when a state implements modest tax increases, raises minimum wage and embraces Obamacare?

Conservatives won’t be happy to learn the truth.

Paul Krugman for the New York Times:

If tax increases are causing a major flight of jobs from California, you can’t see it in the job numbers. Employment is up 3.6 percent in the past 18 months, compared with a national average of 2.8 percent; at this point, California’s share of national employment, which was hit hard by the bursting of the state’s enormous housing bubble, is back to pre-recession levels.

On health care, some people — basically healthy young men who were getting inexpensive insurance on the individual market and were too affluent to receive subsidies — did face premium increases, which we always knew would happen. Over all, however, the costs of health reform came in below expectations, while enrollment came in well above — more than triple initial predictions in the San Francisco area. A recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund suggests that California has already cut the percentage of its residents without health insurance in half. What’s more, all indications are that further progress is in the pipeline, with more insurance companies entering the marketplace for next year.

And, yes, the budget is back in surplus.


So what do we learn from the California comeback? Mainly, that you should take anti-government propaganda with large helpings of salt. Tax increases aren’t economic suicide; sometimes they’re a useful way to pay for things we need. Government programs, like Obamacare, can work if the people running them want them to work, and if they aren’t sabotaged from the right. In other words, California’s success is a demonstration that the extremist ideology still dominating much of American politics is nonsense.

Ikea will raise minimum wage for American workers

Ikea announced Thursday a plan to raise its average minimum wage at U.S. stores to $10.76 an hour.

All 38 American stores won’t have the same minimum wage, but will be set according to local costs of living – as low as $8.69 in Pittsburgh, while Woodbridge, VA will move up to $13.22.

From the New York Times:

The store is increasing pay because it is “investing in our co-workers,” Rob Olson, acting president for the United States and CFO, told the New York Times. “We believe they will invest in our customers, and they will invest in Ikea’s stores. We believe that it will be a win-win-win for our co-workers, our customers and our stores.”

Olson says that while the new pay structure will “be a significant investment,” it will not mean higher prices for its products.

The policy change will represent an increase of about 17 percent over the current wage.

(via ThinkProgress)