’s Most Popular Features of 2013

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1. The Day That TV News Died

Chris Hedges marks the day Phil Donahue was fired by MSNBC for opposing the war in Iraq as the day that TV news became a “carnival act.” He writes: “The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script. …Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system — to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns.”

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2. The Shutdown and “He Said-She Said” Reporting

In the days before the 2013 government shutdown, Joshua Holland wrote that it was wrong for the media to portray unprecedented legislative extortion as typical partisan negotiations. “Beltway reporters who see their professed neutrality as a higher ground bear an enormous amount of responsibility for encouraging this perversion of democratic governance,” he argued.

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3. What You Need to Know About Fukushima

In November, workers at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant started removing fuel rods in a new, potentially dangerous stage of decommissioning the facility, which will take decades and cost billions. The cleanup so far has been rife with human error, and some worry that the plant’s operator isn’t up for this tricky new job.

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4. “Where You Grow Up Matters”

A study released this summer shows that your potential to climb the income ladder in the United States is largely dependent on your hometown. “Where you grow up matters,” Harvard economist and study author Nathaniel Hendren told The New York Times. “There is tremendous variation across the US in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

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5. Which Companies Dominate Your State’s Politics?

Even in an off-off-year election, corporations write big checks to influence politics. Such was the case in 2013. This map shows which corporate sector wrote the biggest checks in each of the 50 states in 2012, the most recent cycle for which we have complete data.

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6. Six Myths About Food Stamps

This November, Republicans in the House voted to cut $40 billion from food stamps. This will kick 3.8 million people out of the program by 2014, then 3 million more each year after. The right-wing echo chamber has vilified food stamp users with a variety of lies and myths, writes Dave Johnson. And as a result, people will go hungry.

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7. A Plutocracy Ruled by Self-Centered Jerks?

Two studies released last week confirmed what most of us already knew: the ultra-wealthy tend to be narcissistic and have a greater sense of entitlement than the rest of us, and Congress only pays attention to their interests. Both studies are consistent with earlier research.

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8. Interactive Map: Is Your State Legislator a Member of ALEC?

Many of the laws that affect us most directly are made at the state level. In state houses around the country, hundreds of “model laws” authored by ALEC are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers. Use our interactive map to see if your local representatives are in the American Legislative Exchange Council, and help us keep it current.

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9. The Ten Hardline Conservatives Pulling the Strings of the GOP Shutdown

Much of the coverage of the government shutdown focused on a relatively small group of hardline conservatives within the Republican caucus who backed their party’s leaders into a fight they didn’t want. But just looking at the rank-and-file members of the “suicide caucus” is like focusing on the marionette rather than the puppet-master. Who was pulling the strings?

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10. Guns in America After Newtown

In the year since Newtown, there were 27 school shootings. We provide a statistical reader on gun deaths, school shootings, public opinion and legislation on gun control in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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11. Voter Suppression Backfires in North Carolina, Spreads in Texas

Shortly after passing the country’s worst voter suppression law, North Carolina Republicans targeted student voting. That was a mistake. Meanwhile in Texas, many voters experienced problems with the new ID laws on Election Day 2013.

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12. By the Numbers: The Incredibly Shrinking American Middle Class

A snapshot of what America’s middle class used to be and what it is now in terms of wages, work and out-of-pocket costs — and the problems caused by our country’s growing economic inequality.

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13. The Biggest Problem With Obamacare’s Rollout Is Being Caused Intentionally by Republicans

The biggest problem with Obamacare’s rollout was caused by conservative lawmakers who refused to pass the Medicaid expansion in 25 states.

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14. How Close do You Live to America’s Dirtiest Power Plants?

Our energy comes from 6,000 power plants which together produce about 40 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change. But just a handful of very dirty power plants are responsible for a huge share of America’s CO2. We mapped them.

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15. Don’t Be Evil? Google Funding a Slew of Right-Wing Groups

The policies advocated by some of Google’s grantees are in stark contrast with the progressive image that the company has worked to promote. The tech giant — supposedly guided by its “don’t be evil” motto — has been funding a growing list of groups advancing the agenda of the Koch brothers and Grover Norquist.

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  • Anonymous

    I am surprised there are not more comments. Good site. :)

  • Linda Gail Walters

    Yes, it is a good site. That is probably why there are so few comments; the ignorant masses that our public “education” system is producing either can’t understand the issues discussed here or have been told that the latest episode of Survivor, The Bachelor, or Keeping Up With The Kardashians is more important. Suggested reading: The Marching Morons by C. M. Kronbluth.

  • DavidW

    Give it more time. Traffic is down, since people are busy with family this time of year.

    So the takeaway is that unchecked power should be checked, something that both ends of the continuum would agree with for their own reasons.

  • Karen Pilegaard Miles

    wait until I share, I’ll get angry rebuttals, at least on my page. I’m agreeing with the first statement, I’m thankful for Bill Moyers and NPR.

  • casey

    The biggest problem with obama care is not The Republican party. I am a democrat who refused to vote for obama a second time. Obama is a social climber, and he isn’y doing his job for the American people. Obama care is lip stick on a big -a right wing think-tank creation. So why does bill and all the left journalist misinform the peeps by saying it’s the Republican party when it really isn';t. ‘The republicans’, The congress’ are political theater for the left, and excellent opportunity for excuses. Nothing will change until Americans put away their bad fructose habits, and get themselves informed, and activated as citizens.

  • Lowell

    I found a better policy, and saved around $700 by using the ACA site

  • Anonymous

    There are lots of comments under each story…less so for this top 15 list. This is a great site. Thank you Bill Moyers!

  • Jack Jones

    casey ~ It sounds as if you’ve been sucking on the teapublican teat. You need to wake up and see ~ AND UNDERSTAND the situation ~~ or, as I suspect, quit representing yourself as a Democrat (falsely, in all likelihood). Bill Moyers is one of the few voices out there that expose the truth ~ about the Right and the Left ~ and who it is that actually controls what happens in Washington ~ and, it sure as hell ain’t the 95 per centers. Your premise is so far from reality as to be comical.