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Tom takes on hedge-funders, Gwyneth Paltrow's wacky water claims and more

Here are a few things you might have missed while trying frantically to keep your head above water during six years of an economy being kept down by Republican obstructionism. (It's awful hard to get moving when one person is stepping on the gas and 300 or so are slamming on the brake for fear that the driver might make some headway. When the history of this period is written, it will show that Republicans in power put partisan politics ahead of the country to the detriment of all but a chosen few.)

Anyway, here we go:

• This may be the most disgusting thing I have ever read in my entire life. Last year, the four highest-paid hedge fund managers took in more money than the combined salaries of all 160,000 kindergarten teachers in the United States. Just let that stew for a moment. Four people took in (I refuse to use the word "earned" here) more money than 160,000 teachers, almost all of whom are college educated.

Keep in mind that hedge fund managers don't do dick for the U.S. economy. They're not among the fictional "job creators" that right-wing talking heads crow about. All they do is move around large piles of money, using special rules and exclusive protections to produce even larger piles of money.

If you didn't think this could be any more reprehensible, remember that, thanks to bend-over buddies in Congress, hedge fund managers are taxed at a maximum rate of 15 percent, which is probably a lower rate than that paid by the average reader of this column. Think about that.

• Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow believes that the molecular structure of water can be damaged if it is exposed to negative emotions. She touts the work of controversial Japanese doctor Masaru Emoto, who believes that harsh words and/or loud, aggressive music can change the molecular structure of water and make it "behave" differently. Paltrow says she's "fascinated by the growing science behind the energy of consciousness and its effect on matter."

I don't know what to say. It's probably all those years of listening to Coldplay.

• FARC, which stands for (translated) the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, marks its 50th(!) year of existence in 2014. Right about the time that The Beatles were making their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, a handful of Communist revolutionaries were taking to the jungle to attempt to overthrow a corrupt Latin American government (which is probably the ultimate redundancy). They're still at it a half-century later and how much must that suck?

Over the decades, FARC has engaged in kidnappings, the planting of land mines, and they were also a major player in the multi-billion dollar illegal drug industry. Their numbers have dropped off dramatically in recent years after the death from a heart attack of leader Manuel "Sureshot" Velez. He was replaced by a guy who went by the name of Mono Jojoy, which doesn't exactly inspire a rabid following.

For the past two years, FARC has been in peace negotiations (being held in Havana, Cuba) with the government. I think the reason that FARC has failed is that just saying the name out loud makes everybody giggle.

•Here's a strange one. In 2013, for the first time in the history of the Billboard popular music charts, dating back to the 1950s, not one Number One song in the entire year was by a black artist. My first instinct is to blame Republicans, many of whom fear what that dreadful Negro rhythm might do to their children, but it's probably nothing more than a really weird coincidence.

• Dick Cheney has done more to earn his name than any American since Bozo the Clown. A funny thing happened when he went on Fox News to try to pin the disaster that is Iraq on President Obama. (Nobody in his/her right mind watches Fox News, so I do it for you.)

Anyway, Megyn Kelly, who is but one of an army of blonde NewsBots that the network employs to say the same false stuff over and over again, actually stood up to Dick, saying something to the effect of "Hey, didn't y'all start this mess by going in looking for weapons that didn't exist?"

I think she still has her job, although she'll probably have to undergo mandatory re-programming in the lab.

• More than three in four Americans (regardless of political party) support a hike in the minimum wage. Raising it to $10.10 an hour would remove 3.5 million people from the food stamp rolls and save the country $4.6 billion a year. This (gasp!), according to The Wall Street Journal.

• And finally, while I have followed a strict course of non-violence in my life, I strongly recommend that we drag ex-Goldman Sachs trader Deem Amin Salem into an open area and beat his ass. The 35-year-old Salem is suing the investment bank because it gave him a bonus of "only" $8.25 million after he had told his mother that the bonus would be more in the range of $13 million. I mean, how embarrassing is that?! His mom probably dogged him out something fierce after that.

As an aside, it reinforces the maxim that one should never say never...as in, I never thought I would take the side of Goldman Sachs on anything.

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