Friday Links

Happy Friday! Thursday night drinking with Christelle and Mike isn’t the most sensible thing I could have done but it was lovely and I’ll wake up at some point today. It’s been a huge week for news. Here it’s been about the Spending Review and in the States, Texas, DOMA and voting rights. Obama is in Senegal and Lazare was there to take the photos, it’s odd to see you’ve been tagged on Facebook and see pictures of presidents of Senegal and the US! Naturally, in a week of big news, this weeks links start with an article about whiskey!

1) Small and craft isn’t always better when it comes to whiskey.

In America’s evolving whiskey landscape, however, smaller isn’t necessarily better. Some excellent craft whiskies have emerged in recent years, but the distilleries responsible for big names like Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Four Roses make whiskeys that a surprisingly high number of microdistilleries struggle to match.

2) Too big to fail means too big to control.

The reality is that global high finance is de facto a set of interlocking cartels that divide the market among themselves and use their advantages to keep out competitors. Cartels can extract huge premiums over what would be normal profits in a functioning market, and part of those profits go to keeping the cartel intact: huge PR efforts, a permanent recruiting circus drawing in top academic talent; clever sponsoring of, say, an ambitious politician’s cycling scheme; vast lobbying efforts behind the scenes; and highly lucrative second careers for ex-politicians. There is also plenty of money to offer talented regulators three or four times their salary.

3) The evolution of food banks? because it’s not just poverty, or debt, or single parents, or unemployment, or benefits, or housing, or education. Something has gone wrong with our society when a person needs to need to use a food bank.

He cites the case of a client he has been working with: “I’m trying to help him deal with things that are way beyond three food parcels. If he went to an ordinary food bank, would they help him tackle his Work Programme manager, or write to his MP? Forget the food, is the [food bank] system geared up to deal with the climate we live in?”

4) Texas and abortion was in the news this week. I’m pro-choice and proud of it, so I’m linking to this again, because it’s worth saying, even if I do say so myself.

5) Zoe Williams on politicians lying.

The key things to watch with IDS are claims that the benefit cap is working; claims that the Work Programme is working; claims that the benefit system is rife with fraudsters; any claim about jobless households; most things he says about foreigners (with the caveat that if he is talking about a specific foreigner, José Mourinho or Angelina Jolie, it’s likely that defamation laws will keep him on the straight and narrow); and everything he says about family breakdown

6) Wendy Davis is a hero but rather than listen to what his electorate are telling him, Rick Perry is going to try again. It’s one of those moments where I’d like to be able to be all superior about our govt and the I look at the clowns in charge of my country and the real and lasting damage they are doing and wonder about the state of democracy generally.

7) George Osborne is playing the game. I’m reminded of John Woodward Philip’s words to his sailors “Don’t cheer boys, the poor devils are dying”. Osborne has never been without money or worked on minimum wage, he really doesn’t understand what he’s doing to poor people and worse he doesn’t care.

He proposed changes to social security motivated less by the need to save money than by the urge to show how tough this government could be. From now on, jobseekers will have to sign on every week. Those who can’t speak English will have to learn or lose their benefits. Most striking of all, the newly laid off will not be able to claim benefit straight away but have to wait seven days. That may not sound like much, but for those who have just lost a job that paid little, it could be impossible.

8) What the repeal of DOMA actually means. Not my country but I’m so pleased for my friends who have been on the receiving end of this nasty piece of legislation.

And Doma is personal to me and my partner for a reason that goes deeper than visas and stamps and living arrangements.

I’ve always felt that there’s a significant trickle-down factor to discrimination. If the school principal picks on a kid, it makes it that much easier for his classmates to have a dig. If the government says this group is not equal, it makes it that much easier for people to target them because, hey, they’re different… the boss says so

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About nicdempsey

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