Sunday, August 17, 2025

Cookies



Blogger said I need to post a notice about cookies if theirs doesn't show up, to satisfy European laws. I don't see theirs on my page, maybe because of something to do with my page setup.
So here it is.
Blogger keeps cookies.
I might have apps that keep cookies, I don't know.
I do not personally keep cookies.


Monday, November 04, 2024

The structure of this blog



I have several blog posts that are at the top of my blog for extended periods of time, because I believe they are of continuing usefulness. So when you look at my blog, the fact that the first few are the same doesn't mean I haven't updated the blog recently.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Reliable and unreliable media


Links to my posts with links to reliability of various "news" web sites

Media bias chart
http://patriciashannon.blogspot.com/2018/01/media-bias-chart.html

10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts according to Forbes
http://patriciashannon.blogspot.com/2017/03/10-journalism-brands-where-you-find.html

Snopes' Field Guide to Fake News Sites and Hoax Purveyors
http://patriciashannon.blogspot.com/2016/07/snopes-field-guide-to-fake-news-sites.html

Honest Reporting
http://patriciashannon.blogspot.com/2017/03/honest-reporting.html

If You’re A Liberal, Stop Sharing Links From These Fake News Sites
http://patriciashannon.blogspot.com/2017/03/if-youre-liberal-stop-sharing-links.html

============================================

Fact-checking sites:

https://www.snopes.com/

http://www.politifact.com/

http://factcheck.org/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/

https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/category/fact-checking-project/

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Tax info


I'm studying to for mu Tax-Aide certification and will share useful stuff.

ITNs : Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

ITINs not used in the last 3 consecutive tax years: If an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) was not included on a U.S. federal tax return at least once for tax years 2016, 2017, or 2018, the ITIN will expire on December 31, 2019. Affected taxpayers need to take action to renew if it will be included on a U.S. federal tax return.

ITINs with the middle digits “83,” “84,” “85,” “86,” and “87” will expire: ITINs with middle digits (the fourth and fifth positions) “83,” “84,” “85,” “86,” or “87” will remain in effect until December 31, 2019. Taxpayers with these ITINs need to take action to renew it if it will be included on a U.S. federal tax return filed in 2020.


Alimony

For any divorce or separate maintenance instrument executed after December 31, 2018, (or executed on or before December 31, 2018 and modified after that date if the modification expressly provides that the amendments made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Section 11051, apply to such modification), alimony and separate maintenance payments are no longer deductible by the payor spouse. Additionally, alimony and separate maintenance payments are no longer included in income by the recipient of the payments.


The medical expense deduction threshold is 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI). The lower 7.5% AGI threshold has expired.

The moving expense deduction is not allowed through 2025 and the exclusion from income of moving expense reimbursements from an employer is also suspended. The only exception is for active military service members who move pursuant to a military order to a new permanent duty station.


Affordable Care Act

Filing thresholds and federal poverty line tables have been adjusted for inflation.

For 2019, the shared responsibility payment (SRP) is zero. Taxpayers who do not have health insurance coverage during 2019 or later do not require an exemption to avoid the SRP.


Kiddie Tax

For 2019, Form 8615 must be filed for certain children who had more than $2,200 of unearned income.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Violence and adversity in early life can alter the brain

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/acon-vaa011620.php

News Release 17-Jan-2020
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Childhood adversity is a significant problem in the US, particularly for children growing up in poverty. Those who experience poverty have a much higher risk of being exposed to violence and suffering from a lack of social support, which can have long-term consequences including higher rates of diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.

People exposed to childhood adversity may also be more likely to have brain changes in adolescence that indicate an altered response to threat, according to a new study by University of Michigan's Christopher Monk and Leigh Goetschius, and others. However, social supports may act as a buffer and reduce the negative effects of early-life stress.

•••••

tags: child abuse

Fewer than half of US clinical trials have complied with the law on reporting results, despite new regulations

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/tl-pss011620.php

News Release 17-Jan-2020
The Lancet

January 2020 is the third anniversary of the implementation of the new US regulations that require clinical trials to report results within one year of completion (Final Rule of the FDA Amendments Act)--but compliance remains poor, and is not improving, with US Government sponsored trials most likely to breach.

Less than half (41%) of clinical trial results are reported promptly onto the US trial registry, and 1 in 3 trials remain unreported, according to the first comprehensive study of compliance since new US regulations came into effect in January 2017.

The findings, published in The Lancet, indicate that trials with non-industry sponsors (such as universities, hospitals, and governments) are far more likely to breach the rules than trials sponsored by industry [1]--with US Government sponsored trials least likely to post results on time at the world's largest clinical trial registry, ClinicalTrials.gov.

•••••

Non-reporting of clinical trial results has been well documented since the 1980s, especially those trials finding no evidence of effectiveness for the treatment being tested [4]. However, failing to disclose trial results threatens the integrity of the evidence base of all clinical medicine, breaches participants' trust, and wastes valuable research resources.

•••••

Mix of stress and air pollution may lead to cognitive difficulties in children

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/cums-mos011620.php

News Release 16-Jan-2020
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Children with elevated exposure to early life stress in the home and elevated prenatal exposure to air pollution exhibited heightened symptoms of attention and thought problems, according to researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia Psychiatry. Early life stress is common in youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who also often live in areas with greater exposure to air pollution.

•••••

More pizza, fewer vegetables: Trump administration further undercuts Obama school-lunch rules

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/01/17/usda-proposes-changing-school-menus-allow-more-fries-pizza-fewer-vegetables-fruits-reversing-michelle-obama-effort/?fbclid=IwAR3LdPjmmFciPVP0QC78fMlIuEMkcTVQmuumi0LnOThfydKJUtBlgnqKhDQ

By Laura Reiley
Jan. 17, 2020 at 5:28 p.m. EST

•••••

On Friday, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps proposed new rules for the Food and Nutrition Service that would allow schools to cut the amount of vegetables and fruits required at lunch and breakfasts while giving them license to sell more pizza, burgers and fries to students. The agency is responsible for administering nutritional programs that feed nearly 30 million students at 99,000 schools.

•••••

Friday’s proposals would allow schools to cut the amount of fruit included in breakfasts served outside of the cafeteria from one cup to a half cup. The remaining calories could be filled with sweet pastries and granola bars. For lunches, the proposals would allow schools to offer potatoes as a vegetable every day and gives them the flexibility to provide things like pizza and burgers as a la carte items that students may choose over more nutritious full meals.

•••••

The proposals will be entered in the Federal Register on Jan. 23, and will be open for public comment for 60 days.

•••••

Kids can get more than half of their daily calories from school meals. About two-thirds of the 30 million children who eat school meals every day qualify as low-income and are getting meals free or for a reduced price. Low-income kids are disproportionately affected by obesity and are less likely to be fed healthy meals at home, so the nutritional makeup of school meals is impactful.

•••••

And while Perdue has argued that healthier food offerings mean more food waste and lower participation in the programs, the USDA study revealed that there was greater participation in school meal programs at schools with the highest healthy food standards and that food waste remained relatively unchanged.

•••••

Women in leadership positions face more sexual harassment

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/su-wil011520.php

News Release 16-Jan-2020
Stockholm University

Power in the workplace does not stop women's exposure to sexual harassment. On the contrary, women with supervisory positions are harassed more than women employees. These are the results from a new study from the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University, which examined the conditions in Sweden, USA and Japan.

•••••

In all three countries, women with supervisory positions were subject to more harassment when their subordinates consisted of mostly men.

•••••

Summertime

Summertime
© copyright 2018 Patricia M. Shannon

Summertime, and the living is sneezy,
flowers growing, and the pollen is high.
grass is growing, and it badly needs mowing,
but when I do my allergies always make me cry.

Summertime, and the living is itchy,
poison ivy, and mosquito bites,
they're growing faster because of global warming,
hot and scratching, it's hard to sleep at night.

Summertime, and we're all feeling lazy,
'cause hot air expands, so each breath gives us less.
(The) air is code orange, and the UV is sky-high,
so stay out of the sun or use high SPF.

Summertime and the wildfires are blazing,
thunderstorms bringing lightning, after it's hot and dry.
Hurricane season, high winds and flooding,
global warming is making the whole world fry.

Summertime, and the living's not easy,
'Cause we've fouled our own nest, now we're bearing the cost.
What a beautiful world that we chose to despoil;
I cry when I think about all we have lost.

Summertime, and the living's not easy.




Thursday, January 16, 2020

US health system costs four times more to run than Canada's single-payer system

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/newspolitics/us-health-system-costs-four-times-more-to-run-than-canadas-single-payer-system/ar-BBYK8o9?fbclid=IwAR30SUHv__KgVCQ1ZCdQUrUeaslZuCq-J2f4lk863M_l1-kNUVJgqMf8DXM

By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
2020-01-08

In the United States, a legion of administrative health care workers and health insurance employees who play no direct role in providing patient care costs every American man, woman and child an average of $2,497 per year.

Across the border in Canada, where a single-payer system has been in place since 1962, the cost of administering health care is just $551 per person — less than a quarter as much.

•••••

It’s been decades since Canada transitioned from a U.S.-style system of private health care insurance to a government-run single-payer system. Canadians today do not gnash their teeth about co-payments or deductibles. They do not struggle to make sense of hospital bills. And they do not fear losing their health care coverage.

To be sure, wait times for specialist care and some diagnostic imaging are often criticized as too long. But a 2007 study by Canada’s health authority and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the overall health of Americans and Canadians to be roughly similar.

•••••

Compared to 1999, when the researchers last compared U.S. and Canadian health care spending, the costs of administering health care insurance have grown in both countries. But the increase has been much steeper in the United States, where a growing number of public insurance programs have increased their reliance on commercial insurers to manage government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

As a result, overhead charges by private insurers surged more than any other category of expenditure, the researchers found.

In U.S. states that have retained full control over their Medicaid programs, the growth of administrative costs was negligible, they reported. (The same was true for Canada’s health insurance program.) But in states that shifted most of their Medicaid recipients into private managed care, administrative costs were twice as high.

•••••

GAO finds Trump administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid


Can the republicans who have sworn to judge Trump fairly be charged with perjury when they vote in his favor because he is in their party?

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/478557-gao-finds-trump-administration-broke-law-by-withholding-aid-from

By Olivia Beavers and Rebecca Klar - 01/16/20 10:06 AM EST

The Trump administration’s decision to freeze the release of security assistance to Ukraine violated the law, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report.

The independent watchdog said in an opinion issued Thursday that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) withheld the appropriated funds last summer not as a programmatic delay but in order to advance the president’s own agenda.

By doing so, the watchdog concluded, the White House violated what’s known as the Impoundment Control Act (ICA).

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the report said. “OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA)...Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA.”

•••••

Huge ‘hot blob’ in Pacific Ocean killed nearly a million seabirds

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/16/hot-blob-ocean-seabirds-killed-new-zealand-north-america

Kenya Evelyn in New York
@LiveFromKenya
Thu 16 Jan 2020 13.12 EST

A million seabirds died in less than a year as a result of a giant “blob” of hot ocean water off the coast of New Zealand, according to new research.

A study released by the University of Washington found the birds, called the common murre, probably died of starvation between the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016.

Most dead seabirds never wash ashore, so while 62,000 dead or dying murres were found along the coasts of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, researchers estimate the total number is closer to 1 million.

Alaska saw the most birds wash up. In Prince William Sound in southern Alaska, more than 4,500 bird carcasses were found every kilometer, or 0.62 miles.

•••••

The murres’ population also took a hit. According to the study, a limited food supply resulted in reduced breeding colonies across the entire region. Between the 2015 and 2016 breeding seasons, more than 15 colonies did not produce a single chick. Researchers say those estimates could be low since they only monitor a quarter of all colonies.

The seabird has not replenished in numbers after the mass die-off.

“The magnitude and scale of this failure has no precedent,” said John Piatt, the lead researcher. “It was astonishing and alarming, and a red-flag warning about the tremendous impact sustained ocean warming can have on the marine ecosystem.”

Researchers cannot determine how long it would take for the population to rebound – or if it ever will.

“In light of predicted global warming trends and the associated likelihood of more frequent heatwaves”, the study concluded, this could be a stark warning about the impending effects of the climate crisis.

Meanwhile, another huge heat blob has formed off the Washington coast and up into the Gulf of Alaska, and is growing.

Bernie Sanders' real problem isn't Elizabeth Warren. It's Donald Trump

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/16/bernie-sanders-elizabeth-warren-donald-trump

Geoffrey Kabaservice
Thu 16 Jan 2020 05.15 EST
Last modified on Thu 16 Jan 2020 08.50 EST

•••••

Nonetheless, Sanders faces serious obstacles to obtaining the Democratic presidential nomination. The gentle treatment he received in 2016 from the media and the Hillary Clinton campaign (which ran few negative television or media ads against him) means that many Democratic voters haven’t yet learned about the distinctly non-progressive positions he has taken on certain issues throughout his senatorial career.

•••••

The chances of Sanders actually becoming president, however, are also close to nil. I say this because in 2016 I got a glimpse of the Republican party’s opposition research book on Sanders, which was so massive it had to be transported on a cart. The Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald, who got to see some of its contents, declared that “it was brutal. The Republicans would have torn [Sanders] apart.”

According to Eichenwald, the book includes damning material such as the fact that Sanders was on unemployment until his mid-30s, that he co-sponsored a bill to ship Vermont’s nuclear waste to Texas where it would be dumped in a poor Hispanic community, that he honeymooned in the Soviet Union, and that he appeared at a 1985 rally in Nicaragua at which Sandinista supporters chanted “Here, there / the Yankee will die.” And then there’s Sanders’ fictitious essay in which he described a woman enjoying being raped by three men…

•••••

That’s why Sanders is the preferred Democratic nominee of Trump and his aides. It explains otherwise puzzling stories such as Trump coming to Sanders’ defense against Warren’s no-female-president claim, saying sexism is “not his deal”. And while living in Washington has made me cynical in some ways, I would not be in the least surprised if conservative dollars are swelling the coffers of Our Revolution, Sanders’ dark-money Super Pac which doesn’t have to disclose its donors.

Sanders is in many ways an appealing politician whose message has resounded at a moment when both America’s economic and political systems face tremendous voter skepticism. But as a viable candidate to defeat Trump? As they say in Sanders’ Brooklyn birthplace, fuhgeddaboudit.

Trump Tax Cut Hands $32 Billion Windfall to America’s Top Banks

https://news.yahoo.com/trump-tax-cut-hands-32-171229065.html

Yalman Onaran
,Bloomberg•January 16, 2020

Savings for the top six U.S. banks from President Donald Trump’s signature tax overhaul accelerated last year, now topping $32 billion as the lenders curbed new borrowing, pared jobs and ramped up payouts to shareholders.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley posted earnings this week showing they saved $18 billion in 2019, more than the prior year, as their average effective tax rate fell to 18% from 20%. Bloomberg News calculated the haul by comparing the lower tax rates to what they paid before the law took effect, which averaged 30%.

•••••

Kansas researcher secretly worked for China


China is trying to expand its territory and power, but its oppressive government reduces innovation by its own people, making it necessary for China to steal inventions from other countries.

This is where the power elite and republicans are trying to bring to our country.

https://news.yahoo.com/indictment-kansas-researcher-secretly-worked-003029821.html

ROXANA HEGEMAN
,Associated Press•January 15, 2020

A Kansas associate professor concealed work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas and tried to recruit other researchers and students for the Chinese government, according to revised federal charges filed Wednesday.

An extensively detailed superseding indictment charges Feng “Franklin” Tao, 47, of Lawrence, Kansas, with two counts of wire fraud and one count of program fraud for failing to disclose on conflict-of-interest forms the work he was doing for China while employed as a full-time associate professor at the University of Kansas' Center for Environmental Beneficial Catalysis. Prosecutors said some of the Tao's research at the Kansas university was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

•••••

The 16-page indictment describes how China spurred its rapid economic growth by offering scholarships or funding to foreign students or visiting professors who were studying or working at U.S. universities. It also used “talent plans” designed to encourage the transfer of original ideas and intellectual property from U.S. universities to Chinese government institutions to enhance Chinese “scientific development, economic prosperity, and national security."

•••••

Tom Steyer draws a medieval symbol on his hand in pen every day to remind himself to always tell the truth

https://news.yahoo.com/tom-steyer-draws-medieval-symbol-084104006.html

Kieran Corcoran
,Business Insider•January 16, 2020

•••••

The symbol, a large cross surrounded by four smaller ones, is called a Jerusalem Cross, and it dates back to medieval times.

According to Steyer, he draws it on himself every morning with a pen. He has spoken about the symbol plenty before, but it got extra prominence this week because of his status as one of just six Democrats to qualify for the latest televised debate.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News in October, Steyer said "for a while now I have drawn it on my hand every day to remind myself to tell the truth."

•••••

New Data Shows Solar Energy Creates More Jobs in America Than Any Other Industry

https://futurism.com/new-data-shows-solar-energy-creates-more-jobs-america-other-industry?fbclid=IwAR3QQKZhdTh84Evqiacgf9tbhGtUpHKFiB_MbW9GQ4N_JHYRKGj7K1wX2FQ

Chelsea GohdJanuary 23rd 2018

Solar energy isn’t just a tool to reduce emissions and help slow climate change — it’s a job creator. According to the most recent National Solar Jobs Census published by The Solar Foundation, the industry creates more jobs than any other sector in the U.S.

According to the census, solar energy adds jobs 17 times faster than the overall economy in the United States.

In 2010, there were only 93,000 jobs in solar. The sector has seen a steep rise and six years later 260,077 people were employed in the field. This means that in 2016 one in every 50 new jobs was in the solar industry, and analysts expect the trend to continue.

•••••

Google is finally killing off Chrome apps, which nobody really used anyhow

https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/15/21067907/google-chrome-apps-end-support-lune-windows-macos-linux

By Jay Peters Jan 15, 2020, 8:46pm EST

Today, Google shared an updated timeline for when Chrome apps will stop working on all platforms. June 2022 is when they’ll be gone for good, but it depends on which platform you’re on (via 9to5Google). Previously, we knew that Chrome apps someday wouldn’t work on Windows, macOS, and Linux, but today, Google revealed that Chrome apps will eventually stop working on Chrome OS, too.

•••••

There’s a pretty decent chance you’re not using any real Chrome apps at all, even if you use web apps all the time. When Google first announced all the way back in 2016 that it would end support for Chrome apps on Windows, macOS, and Linux, it said approximately one percent of users on those platforms were actively using packaged Chrome apps. That was nearly four years ago, and web developers have moved on.

If you do use Chrome apps, they will stop working much sooner on Windows, macOS, or Linux than they will on Chrome OS. Here’s Google’s timeline:

•••••

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Trump Attaches Severe Restrictions to Puerto Rico’s Long-Delayed Disaster Aid

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/15/us/politics/trump-puerto-rico-disaster-aid.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

By Lola Fadulu and Mark Walker
Jan. 15, 2020 Updated 9:24 p.m. ET

The Trump administration imposed severe restrictions on Wednesday on billions of dollars in emergency relief to Puerto Rico, including blocking spending on the island’s electrical grid and suspending its $15-an-hour minimum wage for federally funded relief work.

The nearly $16 billion in funding, released while Puerto Ricans still sleep on the streets for fear of aftershocks from last week’s earthquake, is part of $20 billion that Congress allocated for disaster recovery and preparation more than a year ago, in response to the commonwealth being hit by back-to-back hurricanes in 2017.

•••••

Puerto Rico will be barred from paying its $15-an-hour minimum wage to workers on federally funded projects. And none of the funds can be used on the electrical grid, although the Department of Housing and Urban Development has yet to release nearly $2 billion that was allocated for Puerto Rico’s electrical system.

White House officials acknowledged that rolling blackouts continue in Puerto Rico but insisted there was no need for new money.

The requirements were first reported by The Washington Post.

A congressional aide involved in the issue said the White House and its budget office appeared to have chosen restrictions that would be politically difficult for Puerto Rican officials to carry out. That way, the aide suggested, the federal government would not appear responsible for withholding the aid.

•••••

The administration’s disparate treatment of Puerto Rico is not new. In August, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it would release billions of dollars in federal disaster mitigation funds in two funds: one for nine states on the mainland, and the other for nonstates like Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

•••••

This Couple Rescues Animals From Hurricanes

https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/599911/hurricane-heroes/?utm_term=2020-01-15T23%3A20%3A22&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=the-atlantic&utm_content=edit-promo&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR3PL1AdUlhKvX3xwjaU9DkJeOsh4Noh7atZBgIS5xXZ0vhUThPObwvowHY

Oct 15, 2019

•••••

According to Bannon, the official number of farm animals that died during Florence is 3.4 million poultry birds and 5,500 pigs. “But most people I talked to said it was a lot higher than that,” he told me. “From what I’ve heard, a lot of farm animals were washed away by the hurricane, so they were not included in this number.”

The fact that many of the animals rescued were bred for consumption does not influence the couple’s perspective on the necessity of their work.

“Just because someone doesn’t have the same attachment to pigs, doesn’t mean [pigs] don’t feel the same things your dog does,” Yontz says in the film.

“They want to live, they want to love, and they want to be loved,” Hartness adds.

•••••

Michigan's 75-MPH Speed Limit Has Made Highways More Dangerous


When Georgia raised the speed limit on highways, and allowed ticketing people who were not speeding, but holding up people who wanted to speed, highway fatalities went up. republican leaders were so dumb they were surprised.

https://news.yahoo.com/michigans-75-mph-speed-limit-160600085.html

Sebastian Blanco
,Popular Mechanics•January 15, 2020

Speed can still kill. That's the lesson Michigan is learning on the 600-plus miles of rural freeways where the speed limit was raised from 70 mph to 75 mph thanks to a 2017 law. With the number of drivers now going over 80 mph on the increase, more people are getting into crashes and losing their lives.

Bridge Media analyzed state police records and found that roads with the new 75-mph speed limit had, on average, more crashes and injuries in 2018 (the full first year for the new limits) compared to the entire road network. While the statewide average for crashes rose 3.4 percent in 2018 compared to the annual average from 2014-16 (remember, the speed limits went up part of the way through 2017), the average on the 75-mph roads went up 17.2 percent, Bridge Media found.

•••••

The real-world average speed increase on the 75-mph roads in one single-day test sample was just under 2 mph (from 74.6 mph in 2016 to 76.9 mph in 2018), but the total number of people going over 80 mph went from 10 percent to 40 percent of all cars. The result for some rural Michigan roads is that plenty of people are still driving well under 75 mph, but more are now going even faster.

•••••

The death of the union has made economic inequality worse

https://news.yahoo.com/one-astounding-chart-shows-death-162319172.html

(Joseph Zeballos-Roig)
,Business Insider•January 15, 2020

•••••

Last year, the union membership rate among wage workers stood at 10.5%, amounting to 16 million people, according to the Labor Department. It's a historic low and only half the rate in 1983, the first year that comparable data was available.

•••••

Experts say the trend has accelerated widening inequality in the United States.

"As unions have declined, its been an important contributor to the rise of inequality and wage stagnation to those but the highest paid workers," said Heidi Shierholz, the policy director of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute and former chief economist at the Labor Department during the Obama administration.

•••••



•••••

What Happened When a State Made Food Stamps Harder to Get

https://news.yahoo.com/happened-state-made-food-stamps-131419598.html

Campbell Robertson
,The New York Times•January 14, 2020

•••••

The policy seems straightforward, but there is nothing straightforward about the reality of the working poor, a daily life of unreliable transportation, erratic work hours and capricious living arrangements.

Still, what has happened in the nine counties in West Virginia in the last four years does offer at least an indication of how it will play out on a larger scale.

The most visible effect has been at homeless missions and food pantries, which saw a big spike in demand that has never receded. But the policy change was barely noticeable in the workforce, where evidence of some large influx of new workers is hard to discern. This reflects similar findings elsewhere, as states have steadily been reinstating work requirements in the years since the recession, when nearly the whole country waived them.

•••••

Under the new rule from the Trump administration, most of these waivers will effectively be eliminated. By the administration’s own estimate, around 700,000 people will lose food stamps. Officials say that there are plenty of jobs waiting for them in the humming economy.

This was the thinking as West Virginia began lifting waivers four years ago, starting in the counties where unemployment rates were lowest.

One of the first signs of the change came in the dining hall of the Huntington City Mission, about half an hour’s drive from little Milton. Suddenly, the hall was packed.

“It was just like, ‘Boom, what’s going on here?’” said Mitch Webb, director of the 81-year-old mission. In early 2016, the mission served an average of around 8,700 meals a month. After the new food stamp policy went into full effect, that jumped to over 12,300 meals a month. “It never renormalized,” Webb said.

That was true all around Huntington.

“A few years ago, at the first of the month we would be slow, and toward the end of the months we would be busy,” said Diana Van Horn, who runs the food pantry at Trinity Episcopal Church. “Now we are busy all the time.”

•••••

That the number of people receiving food stamps would drop significantly was, of course, by design. The question was what would become of them.

According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, a research group that focuses heavily on social safety-net issues, there was no evidence of a big change in the job market. While around 5,410 people lost food stamps in the nine counties, the growth in the labor force in these counties over the ensuing three years significantly lagged the rest of the state. Average monthly employment growth in the counties actually slowed, while it nearly doubled in the rest of West Virginia.

•••••

To move from talk of what is right policy to the reality of daily life is to enter a totally different conversation, one about the never-ending logistics of poverty: the hunt for space in a small house with 10 other people, the ailing family members who are wholly dependent without technically being “dependents,” the tenuousness of recovery while living among addicts, the hopelessness of finding decent work with a felony record.

One man in Milton spoke of losing a job loading trucks when the employer looked up his bad credit report. A woman who lives some miles out in the country said it was nearly impossible to work as a waitress in a town when the last bus comes and goes at 7 p.m. “You see people in these hills around here that can’t get out to a job because they have no vehicle,” said Jerome Comer, 47, who left rehab last year and is now working in the warehouse of Facing Hunger. “You say, ‘Well, they’re able-bodied Americans.’ Yeah, but they live 40 miles out in the holler. They can’t walk to McDonald’s.”

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Volunteer with Tax-Aide

https://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/info-2006/volunteer_aarp_tax_aide.html

AARP Foundation, July 2019

With the help of people like you, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free tax-filing help to those who need it most. We’re looking for compassionate and friendly individuals to join our team of local volunteers for the upcoming tax season. You’ll receive training and continued support in a welcoming environment. And, as our current volunteers tell us, you’ll not only learn new skills, but also get a great feeling from helping someone else.

•••••

Who will you help as a volunteer?

We offer free tax preparation help to anyone, with special attention to older, low-income taxpayers. We understand that many individuals may miss out on credits and deductions they’ve earned because they can’t afford to pay for professional tax preparation.
There are exceptions, especially complicated returns, but we can help most people.

Who volunteers?

Neighbors like you. And there's a role for everyone.

Good with the fine print?
Be a volunteer tax preparer.

You'll work with taxpayers directly; filling out tax returns and helping them seek a refund. Experience isn't necessary — we'll provide training and IRS certification.

Love working with people? Be a client facilitator.

You'll welcome taxpayers, help organize their paperwork and manage the overall flow of service.

Skilled in all things digital? Be a technology coordinator.

You'll manage computer equipment, ensure taxpayer data security and provide technical assistance to volunteers at multiple sites.

Want to help get the word out? Be a communications coordinator.

You'll promote AARP Foundation Tax-Aide and recruit volunteers in your community.

Have a knack for running things? Be a leadership or administrative volunteer.

Manage volunteers, make sure program operations run smoothly, track volunteer assignments and site activities, and maintain quality control.

Speak a second language?
You're urgently needed!

We have a big demand for bilingual speakers in all roles. We also have a need for dedicated interpreters who can assist other volunteers.

Get that great feeling from helping your neighbors in need by joining our volunteer team today!

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is offered in conjunction with the IRS.

Trump planning to divert additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funds for border wall

https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-planning-to-divert-additional-72-billion-in-pentagon-funds-for-border-wall/2020/01/13/59080a3a-363d-11ea-bb7b-265f4554af6d_story.html?fbclid=IwAR3KQcLSIzvb4n7mIXlGn_A7JdZv7UknJhDUJ9DvbHoQYXC45lCj64RIC00&utm_campaign=wp_main&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

By Nick Miroff
Jan. 13, 2020 at 7:35 p.m. EST

President Trump is preparing to divert an additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding for border wall construction this year, five times what Congress authorized him to spend on the project in the 2020 budget, according to internal planning figures obtained by The Washington Post.

The Pentagon funds would be extracted, for the second year in a row, from military construction projects and counternarcotics funding. According to the plans, the funding would give the government enough money to complete about 885 miles of new fencing by spring 2022, far more than the 509 miles the administration has slated for the U.S. border with Mexico.

•••••

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/pentagon-has-warned-of-dire-outcomes-if-military-projects-canceled-for-wall-dont-happen/2019/09/18/03e99ac6-d988-11e9-ac63-3016711543fe_story.html

Pentagon has warned of dire outcomes if military projects canceled for wall don’t happen

By Aaron Gregg and Erica Werner
September 18, 2019 at 11:10 a.m. EDT

The Pentagon warned of dire outcomes unless Congress paid for urgently needed military construction projects nationwide — the same projects that have now been canceled to fund President Trump’s border wall.

The warnings are contained in Defense Department budget requests sent to lawmakers in recent years. They include potentially hazardous living conditions for troops and their families, as well as unsafe schools that would impede learning. In numerous cases, the Defense Department warned that lives would be put at risk if buildings don’t meet the military’s standards for fire safety or management of explosives.

Even before $3.6 billion in construction funding was pulled to support a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, military buildings across the country often had been neglected in favor of other priorities. The defense spending limits that took effect after a 2013 budget deal designed to end a government shutdown starved the military’s construction budget for years, officials and analysts say, meaning many construction projects are long overdue.

•••••

In requests to Congress over the past three years, military officials describe dilapidated World War II-era warehouses with “leaking asbestos panel roof systems,” a drone pilot training facility with sinkholes and a bat infestation, explosives being stored in buildings that didn’t meet safety standards and a mold-infested middle school. In numerous instances, Defense Department officials wrote that the infrastructure problems were hurting the military’s readiness and impeding the department’s national security mission.

•••••

See the full article for more troubling specifics.

•••••

Take Care of Our Planet - with video


Lyrics to a song I wrote. I'm not a great singer, but when I sang it at an open mic, w/o accompaniment, in a restaurant, everybody stopped talking. Only time I've seen that. So people do care.

This video is from Eddie Owen Presents open mic at the Red Clay Theatre in Duluth, GA. on April 19, 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwsA7xvqVuQ



Take Care of Our Planet
copyright 2001 Patricia M. Shannon

Walking in the early sunlight, with the calling birds,
I see the trees against the newborn sky;
listening to the breeze, I hear God's voice
saying "Take care of this planet, don't make it die!"
We must

(chorus)
take care of our planet,
it's the only home we have;
it will give us what we need,
if we treat it respectfully.

He did not make the earth to be just a toy,
or an enemy with which we are at war;
remember that we were just an afterthought,
stewards and not owners are what we are.

Now some say the end is coming,
so we'll need the earth no more;
He said no one will expect it,
might be 10,000 years to go.

(chorus)

He did not mean for us to be parasites,
always taking destruction to new heights,
killing off the species He so carefully planned,
in the interdependent web of life.

Don't depend on some angels,
or a space ship from on high
to save you from your own folly,
if you do, you're sure to die."
So

(chorus)


..

NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal 2019 Second Warmest Year on Record

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-noaa-analyses-reveal-2019-second-warmest-year-on-record

Jan. 15, 2020
RELEASE 20-003

According to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Earth's global surface temperatures in 2019 were the second warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880.

Globally, 2019 temperatures were second only to those of 2016 and continued the planet's long-term warming trend: the past five years have been the warmest of the last 140 years.

This past year, they were 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (0.98 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

“The decade that just ended is clearly the warmest decade on record,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “Every decade since the 1960s clearly has been warmer than the one before.”

Since the 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen and the average temperature is now more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (a bit more than 1 degree Celsius) above that of the late 19th century. For reference, the last Ice Age was about 10 degrees Fahrenheit colder than pre-industrial temperatures.

Using climate models and statistical analysis of global temperature data, scientists have concluded that this increase mostly has been driven by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by human activities.

“We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back. This shows that what’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon: we know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Schmidt said.

•••••

The slides for the Jan. 15 news conference are available at:

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/briefings/20200115.pdf


•••••

[The NOAA report also has information on local extreme temperatures]

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201913

Global Climate Report
December 2019

•••••

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/01/15/2010s-hottest-decade-world/

By Brady Dennis ,
Andrew Freedman and
John Muyskens
January 15 at 12:05 PM

•••••

global greenhouse gas emissions hit a record high in 2019, even as they fell slightly in the United States, and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now sits at the highest level in human history — a level probably not seen on the planet for 3 million years.

•••••

The 2019 figures from NASA and NOAA match similar data released by Berkeley Earth, an independent group that analyzes temperature data. The U.K. Met Office also rated 2019 among the top 3 warmest years. The findings also are in line with data released last week by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a science initiative of the European Union. The World Meteorological Organization confirmed the analysis.

In fact, Berkeley Earth researchers said, no place on Earth experienced a record cold annual average during 2019. But 36 countries — from Belize to Botswana, from Slovakia to South Africa — experienced their hottest year since instrumental records began. Those same researchers estimated that more warming lies ahead, and that a 95 percent chance exists that 2020 will become one of the five hottest years.


•••••

A recent Washington Post analysis found numerous locations around the globe that already have warmed by at least 2 degrees Celsius over the past century. That’s a number that scientists and policymakers have identified as a red line if the planet is to avoid catastrophic and irreversible consequences.

Some entire countries, including Switzerland and Kazakhstan, have warmed by 2C, and other hot spots exist around the world, particularly in the fast-warming Arctic. Scientists say extreme warming is helping to fuel wildfires from Australia to California, melt permafrost from Alaska to Siberia and fuel more intense storms and floods. It is also altering marine ecosystems from Canada to South America to the African coast, threatening wildlife and the livelihoods of those who depend on the sea.

•••••

See the full article for information on how some locations have been affected.

•••••

Get Ready for More Volcanic Eruptions as the Planet Warms

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/get-ready-for-more-volcanic-eruptions-as-the-planet-warms/?fbclid=IwAR1bh7vteXOQRmeEBe-6Hs8ZH1HOGpySNsQ4hIHH7DuXHlkjWZoFg4JWQcc

By Annie Sneed on December 21, 2017

•••••

scientists have found another force—climate change—affects the frequency of eruptions. Now a new study shows even relatively minor climate variations may have such an influence. If they are right, today’s global warming could mean more and bigger volcanic eruptions in the future.

Throughout its history Earth has gone through periods of massive natural climate change such as entering and leaving ice ages. Scientists have noted volcanic eruptions tended to increase as glaciers melted. In a recent study published in Geology researchers looked at smaller-scale changes in glacial coverage to see if these incremental differences had any effect.

•••••

When the scientists compared the volcanic record with glacial coverage, they found the number of eruptions indeed dropped significantly as the climate cooled and ice expanded. “There’s a big change in the record in the mid-Holocene [epoch], where we see no volcanic ash in Europe and very little in Iceland,” says Swindles, an associate professor of Earth system dynamics at the University of Leeds. “This seems to overlap with a time where there’s cold climate conditions, which would have favored glacial advance in Iceland.” He says his team observed an approximately 600-year lag between when glaciers advanced and volcanic activity diminished. “That’s because it takes a long time to grow ice masses,” he explains.

The new study is “looking at maybe the smallest-magnitude climate change yet to show it has influence on volcanic activity,” says Ben Edwards, an associate professor of geology at Dickinson College. “To see this change in an interglacial period indicates that there’s an even more subtle relationship between climate change and volcanism” than scientists previously thought. Julie Schindlbeck, a volcanologist at Heidelberg University in Germany, says the work shows “maybe even small changes in ice volume can really affect volcanism.”

Although scientists do not fully understand why glaciers appear to weaken volcanic eruptions, they believe the mechanics may be fairly straightforward. When glaciers expand, all that ice puts immense pressure on Earth’s surface. “It can affect magma flow and the voids and gaps in the Earth where magma flows to the surface as well as how much magma the crust can actually hold,” Swindles says. When glaciers retreat, the pressure lifts and volcanic activity surges. “After glaciers are removed the surface pressure decreases, and the magmas more easily propagate to the surface and thus erupt,” Swindles wrote in an e-mail to Scientific American.

This is exactly what he and his team found when they looked at what happened as Earth warmed up again and glaciers melted—they counted more eruptions. Again they saw a time lag, this time between ice melt and the rise in eruptions. But this gap was shorter. “It takes relatively less time to melt ice if the temperature goes up,” compared with growing ice when it gets colder, Swindles says. “So if you’re looking at a period of [warming and subsequent] volcanic flare-up, the lag might be a lot shorter.” He also notes that when volcanic eruptions occur during cooler, ice-covered times, they appear to be smaller in magnitude. As the climate warms, eruptions seem to get bigger.

•••••