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How To Keep The News From Ruining Your Life

Newspapers

The Article: How to stop news from ruining our lives by Alain de Botton in CNN.

The Text: We’re one of the first generations to have to deal with the torrent of information about things very far removed from our own lives. For most of history, it was extremely difficult to come by information about what was happening anywhere else. And you probably didn’t mind. What difference would it make, if you were a crofter in the Hebrides, northern Scotland, to learn that a power struggle was brewing in the Ottoman Empire?

Much of what we now take for granted as news has its origins in the information needed by people taking major decisions or at the center of national affairs. We still hear the echoes in the way news is reported; timing is assumed to be critical, as it really would be if we were active agents. If you don’t have the latest update you might make a terrible blunder or miss a wonderful opportunity.

Ease of communication and a generous democratic impulse mean that information originally designed for decision-makers, now gets routinely sent via the media to very large numbers of people. It is as if a dossier, with the latest news from Kiev, which might properly arrive on the desk of a minister has accidentally been delivered to the wrong address and ends up on the breakfast table of a librarian in Colchester or an electrician in Pitlochry. But the librarian or electrician might quite reasonably turn round and politely point out that they can’t do anything with this knowledge and that, surely, the files have come to them by mistake. They don’t, but only because habit has closed our eyes to the underlying strangeness of the phenomenon.

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Obama Versus Obama

By directly contradicting himself, Obama is always right!

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The Battling Spheres Of Influence

Spheres Of Influence

WTF, Russia: there’s only one superpower that can use its military and economic might to control the fates of other countries.

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Washington: Highest Minimum Wage, Higher Growth Than US Average

Seattle

The Article: Washington Shows Highest Minimum Wage State Beats US With Jobsin Bloomberg.

The Text: When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state’s minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. The prediction hasn’t been borne out.

In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 — the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued at an average 0.8 percent annual pace, 0.3 percentage point above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.

The debate is replaying on a national scale as Democrats led by President Barack Obama push for an increase in the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum, while opponents argue a raise would hurt those it’s intended to help by axing jobs for the lowest-skilled. Even if that proves true, Washington’s example shows that any such effects aren’t big enough to throw its economy and labor market off the tracks.

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