The abusive practices of the chicken cartel

On his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver exposes how the chicken industry is dominated by four major companies (Pilgrim’s, Tyson, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms) that use their monopoly power to create hellish conditions, not just for chickens of which we are all aware, but also for the chicken farmers who work for them on contracts that are incredibly exploitative. And Congress protects these abusive companies.
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John Fortune (1939-2013)

Somehow I missed the sad news that British comedian John Fortune had died on December 31, 2013. Michael Coveney provides a retrospective of his life. I came across Fortune only about a decade or so ago, when the brilliant improvisational sketches that he did with John Bird appeared online. These took the form of an interview in which one of them would question the other on the issues of the day. I love this kind of deadpan comedy, where the conversation takes an absurd turn but the speakers discuss it quite seriously.
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Another Fox News whine fest

Fox News is all of a doodah because president Obama said something that is blazingly obvious by saying that they demonize the poor. They have gone on a weeklong whine fest about being so unfairly maligned. The Daily Show poses the question of whether this shows that Fox News in merely lacking in self-awareness or is cynical or stupid or just downright evil.
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Jordan Klepper covers the British elections

US elections are absurdly long and ridiculously expensive. People in other countries cannot believe what an absurd system we have in which one has to be either a multimillionaire or beholden to multimillionaires merely in order to be even considered as a serious candidate. Not only that, it is the GRAGGS issues (guns, race, abortion, gays, god, sex) that generate the most attention.
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I’ll bet Ted Cruz never expected the Spanish Inquisition

Texas senator Ted Cruz, one of the many contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, is one of the most obnoxious people around. Even his colleagues in his own party seem disgusted with his arrogant, preening, headline-hogging antics. So that raises the question as to whether it would be ever possible for him to come off as a sympathetic figure in an exchange with anyone.
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The high price paid by others for our cheap clothes

I was at a party some time ago and the hosts brought out some photographs from a previous party and there was some amusement because I was wearing the same sweater on both occasions. This did not bother me because I like that sweater and wear it as often as I can. In fact, my policy concerning clothes is to buy a few that I like and wear them over and over until they get frayed and have holes in them, and then I wear them around the house. In fact, as I write this, my shirt has a hole in the right elbow that is hidden by a sweater.
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The Mother’s Day charade

In another excellent piece on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver makes the point that the public veneration of motherhood in the US is really a sham because we and Papua New Guinea are the only countries that do not offer paid time off for having a child, and he describes the kinds of extraordinary measures that women have to do to cobble together the necessary time off after giving birth. The email that Tesla founder Elon Musk sent to an employee who merely missed one event in order to witness the birth of his child shows how little we actually value parenting.
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