Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Free tax preparation from Tax-Aide


Free tax preparation is available from Tax-Aide.
It is an AARP program available to all ages.
Those who prepare your taxes return are volunteers who take an IRS training program and certification.

To find a location near you:

https://secure.aarp.org/applications/VMISLocator/searchTaxAideLocations.action

Important documents to bring with you:

http://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/info-01-2011/important-tax-documents.html?intcmp=AE-FOU-TAXAIDE-LOCATOR-IL-DOCS


Items we can prepare:

• 1040 with Schedules A, B and D
• Schedule C if no employees, no inventory, no losses,
no depreciation, no expenses for business use of
home, etc.
• Schedule EIC and EIC Worksheets
• 1099-MISC (box 7 nonemployee compensation
reported on Schedule C/CEZ)
• 1099-MISC (box 1 or 2—rents, royalties – reported
on Schedule E with no expenses or depreciation)
• 1099-MISC (box 3 other income – reported on
1040 Line 21)
• 1040-ES (Estimated Payments)
• 2441 (Child & Dependent Care)
• 5405 (Repayment of First Time Homebuyers Credit
– FTHBC)
• 8283, Section A, Part 1—noncash contributions to
charity that exceed $500 and total less than $5,000
• 8606 (Nondeductible IRA) Part 1
• 8880 (Quali ed Savings Credit)
• 8812 (Additional Child Tax Credit)
• 8863 (Education Credits)
• 8949 (Sale or Disposition of Assets)
• 9465 (Installment Agreement)
• 8379 (Injured Spouse)
• 1040X (Amended Returns, if trained in the tax year
being amended)
• Schedule K-1 that includes only interest, dividends,
capital gain distributions or royalties
• Cancellation of Credit Card or Mortgage
Debt—1099-A and/or 1099-C and Form 982
• Health Savings Accounts—1099-SA and Form
8889, if trained and certi ed*
*HSA: Only counselors who have been certified
on this module may prepare returns that include
Health Savings Account contributions or
distributions.


Items we can NOT prepare:

• Schedule C if expenses exceed $25,000
• Complicated Schedule D (Capital Gains and
Losses) without proper paperwork
• Schedule E (Rental Property) with expenses,
including depreciation (exception: returns for
military members only, prepared by a counselor
who has been certi ed to do military returns
provided another military certi ed counselor is
available to quality review the return)
• Schedule F (Farm Income)
• 2106 (Employee Business Expenses)
• 3903 (Moving Expenses)
• 8615 (Minor’s Investment Income)
• Portions of Schedules A and B that are not
included in our training
• Schedule K-1 that involves depreciation or
deductible expenses
• Other rental income or business income

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Eight a day is clearly best for the heart


800 grams = 28.2 ounces = 1.76 pounds

Useful pictures of what a pound of different fruits looks like:
http://www.thekitchn.com/heres-what-1-pound-of-fruit-looks-like-232571

Useful pictures of what a pound of different vegetables looks like:
http://www.thekitchn.com/heres-what-1-pound-of-vegetables-looks-like-232381


https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/nuos-ead022317.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Eight a day is clearly best for the heart
Eight on a plate: The more fruits and vegetables a person eats, the lower his or her risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death
Norwegian University of Science and Technology

You've heard it a thousand times, that little catchphrase with the magic number encouraging you to eat "five a day" of fruits and vegetables for better health. But it turns out that the real magic number is eight, according to a new comprehensive study just published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The study, spearheaded by Dagfinn Aune, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Imperial College London, shows that 7.8 million deaths worldwide could be prevented each year if people ate more fruits and vegetables. Aune says the more you eat, the lower the overall risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and premature death.

•••••

The study shows that the risk of dying prematurely from all causes was reduced by almost a third, and the risk of cardiovascular disease by about a quarter in people who ate 800 grams of fruit and vegetables every day, compared with those who ate very little or no fruits and vegetables.

"We see a gradual reduction in risk with increasing consumption, so a low or moderate intake is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all," he said.

•••••

"The risk of heart disease, strokes and premature death decreased by 10.8 per cent for each 200 gram increase in consumption of fruit or vegetables--up to an intake of 800 grams," Aune said.

He stressed that the greatest impact from increasing a person's daily intake of fruit and vegetables appears to be in people do not eat fruit and vegetables at all, or who eat very little of them. But there were also benefits from additional increases in fruit and vegetable consumption for people whose diets already include some fruit and vegetables.

•••••

The meta-analysis is also the first to examine subcategories and individual varieties of fruits and vegetables that can be connected to a reduced risk of various diseases and premature death.

Apples and pears, citrus fruit, fruit juice, green leafy vegetables and fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C were among the types of fruit and vegetables that were linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.

Canned fruits, however, were linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.

"However, we need more studies on specific types of fruit and vegetables because relatively few of the studies in our analysis had looked at this issue," said Aune.

•••••

Winter Storm Intensity

http://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/winter-storm-intensity?utm_content=buffer2b8d6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Feb. 18,2017

Mid-latitude winter storms have increased in both intensity and frequency nationally since 1950. Overall, there were twice as many extreme winter storms in the U.S. in the second half of the 20th century as there were in the first half.

This is consistent with what you’d expect in a warming world. Higher temperatures lead to more evaporation from lakes, rivers and oceans, and warmer air can hold more moisture. What goes up must eventually come down, so climate science projects that extreme precipitation should increase. And that's just what meteorologists have observed, not just for snowfall, but for precipitation overall.

•••••

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Thousands Of Toddler Swings Recalled After Dozens Report Injuries

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/02/24/thousands-of-toddler-swings-recalled-due-to-fall-hazard/

Feb. 24, 2017

Little Tikes announced it is recalling approximately 540,000 toddler swings due to a fall hazard.

The company says it has received about 140 reports of the swing breaking, including 39 injuries to children including abrasions, bruises, cuts and bumps to the head.

•••••

E-cigarettes may pose the same or higher risk of stroke severity as tobacco smoke

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/aha-emp021517.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
E-cigarettes may pose the same or higher risk of stroke severity as tobacco smoke
Session A25 - Abstract LB10 in Grand Ballroom B
American Heart Association

Electronic cigarette (e-cigarettes) vaping may pose just as much or even higher risk as smoking tobacco for worsening a stroke, according to a preliminary study in mice presented at the American Heart Association's International Stroke Conference 2017.

Researchers found:

Mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor for 10 days or 30 days had worse stroke outcome and neurological deficits, than those exposed to tobacco smoke.

E-cigarette exposure decreased glucose uptake in the brain. Glucose fuels brain activity.

Both e-Cig and tobacco smoke exposure for 30 days decreased Thrombomodulin (anti-coagulant) levels.

From a brain health perspective, researchers said, electronic-cigarette vaping is not safer than tobacco smoking, and may pose a similar, if not higher risk for stroke severity.

Use of e-cigarettes is a growing health concern in both smoking and nonsmoking populations. Researchers said rigorous studies are needed to investigate the effects of the nicotine exposure via e-cigarettes on brain and stroke outcome.

The role of weight in postmenopausal women's longevity

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/w-tro022117.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
The role of weight in postmenopausal women's longevity
Wiley

In a large multiethnic study, being underweight was linked with an increased risk of early death among postmenopausal women. Also, a higher waist circumference--but not being overweight or slightly obese--was associated with premature mortality, indicating that abdominal fat is more deadly than carrying excess weight.

Interestingly, Hispanic women in the study had a lower mortality rate at any given body mass index or waist circumference compared with non-Hispanic whites or African-Americans.

•••••

Meditation benefits patients with ALS

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/w-mbp022117.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Meditation benefits patients with ALS
Wiley

An eight-week mindfulness-based meditation program led to improved quality of life and psychological well-being in clinical trial of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

•••••

Study finds resistant infections rising, with longer hospital stays for US children

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/pids-sfr022117.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Study finds resistant infections rising, with longer hospital stays for US children
Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

Infections caused by a type of bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics are occurring more frequently in U.S. children and are associated with longer hospital stays and a trend towards greater risk of death, according to a new study published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. Previously acquired mostly while children were already in the hospital, the new findings also suggest the infections--caused by bacteria from the Enterobacteriaceae family that are resistant to multiple drugs--may be spreading more often in the community.

"Antibiotic resistance increasingly threatens our ability to treat our children's infections," said study author Sharon B. Meropol, MD, PhD, of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "Efforts to control this trend are urgently needed from all of us, such as using antibiotics only when necessary, and eliminating agricultural use of antibiotics in healthy animals."

•••••

Bacterial infections resistant to multiple drugs are especially concerning in children, for whom there are a limited number of stronger antibiotics currently approved for use compared to adults, putting kids at higher risk for worse outcomes. In the study, children with Enterobacteriaceae infections resistant to multiple antibiotics had hospitals stays that were 20 percent longer than patients with infections that were susceptible to antibiotics, the researchers found. The results also suggest a greater mortality risk among pediatric patients infected with the resistant strains, although the increased odds for death were not statistically significant.

Most of the resistant infections were present when the children were admitted to the hospital, suggesting the bacteria may be increasingly spreading in the community. Older kids, children with other health conditions, and those living in the Western U.S. were more likely to have the infections, the study found. The results build on previous research reporting rising rates of these infections in adults and outbreaks in hospitalized children, especially in less-developed countries in Latin America and Asia, where antibiotics are available over the counter.

•••••

Fasting-mimicking diet may reverse diabetes

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uosc-rdw022117.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Fasting-mimicking diet may reverse diabetes
Periodic cycles of fasting reprogram pancreatic cells and restore insulin production
University of Southern California

A diet designed to imitate the effects of fasting appears to reverse diabetes by reprogramming cells, a new USC-led study shows.

The fasting-like diet promotes the growth of new insulin-producing pancreatic cells that reduce symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in mice, according to the study on mice and human cells led by Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

"Cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet and a normal diet essentially reprogrammed non-insulin-producing cells into insulin-producing cells," said Longo, who is also a professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. "By activating the regeneration of pancreatic cells, we were able to rescue mice from late-stage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We also reactivated insulin production in human pancreatic cells from type 1 diabetes patients."

The reprogrammed adult cells and organs prompted a regeneration in which damaged cells were replaced with new functional ones, he said.

The study published on Feb. 23 in the journal Cell, is the latest in a series of studies to demonstrate promising health benefits of a brief, periodic diet that mimics the effects of a water-only fast.

•••••

Longo and his research team have amassed evidence indicating several health benefits of the fasting-mimicking diet. Their study published last week in Science Translational Medicine demonstrated that the fasting-mimicking diet reduced risks for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other age-related diseases in human study participants who followed the special diet for five days each month in a three-month span.

Prior studies on the diet have shown potential for alleviating symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease multiple sclerosis, increasing the efficacy of chemotherapy for cancer treatments, and decreasing visceral fat.

•••••

Bees can learn to use a tool by observing others

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/aaft-bcl022117.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Bees can learn to use a tool by observing others
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Simply by watching other bees, bumblebees can learn to use a novel tool to obtain a reward, a new study reveals. The results demonstrate the capacity of bees to learn how to solve a complex, goal-directed problem, and even improve upon the original process -- a capability long-known possible in humans, primates, marine mammals and birds, and here extended to invertebrates.

•••••

Warming temperatures could trigger starvation, extinctions in deep oceans

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/osu-wtc022217.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Warming temperatures could trigger starvation, extinctions in deep oceans
Oregon State University

Researchers from 20 of the world's leading oceanographic research centers today warned that the world's largest habitat - the deep ocean floor - may face starvation and sweeping ecological change by the year 2100.

Warming ocean temperatures, increased acidification and the spread of low-oxygen zones will drastically alter the biodiversity of the deep ocean floor from 200 to 6,000 meters below the surface. The impact of these ecosystems to society is just becoming appreciated, yet these environments and their role in the functioning of the planet may be altered by these sweeping impacts.

•••••

"Parts of the world will likely have more jellyfish and squid, for example, and fewer fish and cold water corals."

•••••

"If we look back in Earth's history, we can see that small changes to the deep ocean caused massive shifts in biodiversity," Thurber said. "These shifts were driven by those same impacts that our model predict are coming in the near future. We think of the deep ocean as incredibly stable and too vast to impact, but it doesn't take much of a deviation to create a radically altered environment.

Top professional performance through psychopathy

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uob-tpp022317.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Top professional performance through psychopathy
Study by the University of Bonn: The paradoxical personality also has its good sides under certain conditions
University of Bonn

The term "psychopath" is not flattering: such people are considered cold, manipulative, do not feel any remorse and seek thrills without any fear - and all that at other's expense. A study by psychologists at the University of Bonn is now shattering this image. They claim that a certain form of psychopathy can lead to top professional performance, without harming others or the company. The study has initially been published online. The print edition will be published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences in mid-April.

•••••

"The toxic form of psychopathy is characterized by antisocial impulsiveness," says Prof. Gerhard Blickle from the Department of Psychology. Such people cannot control themselves, they take what they like, act without thinking beforehand and pass the blame to others. "The potentially benign form of psychopathy is named fearless dominance," adds co-author Nora Schütte. "It can develop to be bad, but also to be very good." People with these characteristics do not know fear, have pronounced self-confidence, good social skills and are extremely resistant to stress.

Whether a person with fearless dominance can potentially become a top employee depends on an important factor according to the current study: education. While people with fearless dominance and low education display behaviors that can harm the company, such "psychopaths" with high education are assessed by their colleagues in the workplace as outstandingly capable and in no way antisocial.

"The toxic form of psychopathy is characterized by antisocial impulsiveness," says Prof. Gerhard Blickle from the Department of Psychology. Such people cannot control themselves, they take what they like, act without thinking beforehand and pass the blame to others. "The potentially benign form of psychopathy is named fearless dominance," adds co-author Nora Schütte. "It can develop to be bad, but also to be very good." People with these characteristics do not know fear, have pronounced self-confidence, good social skills and are extremely resistant to stress.

Whether a person with fearless dominance can potentially become a top employee depends on an important factor according to the current study: education. While people with fearless dominance and low education display behaviors that can harm the company, such "psychopaths" with high education are assessed by their colleagues in the workplace as outstandingly capable and in no way antisocial.

Sugar's 'tipping point' link to Alzheimer's disease revealed

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uob-sp022317.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Sugar's 'tipping point' link to Alzheimer's disease revealed
University of Bath

For the first time a "tipping point" molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer's disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer's.

Abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, is well-known as a characteristic of diabetes and obesity, but its link to Alzheimer's disease is less familiar.

Diabetes patients have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease compared to healthy individuals. In Alzheimer's disease abnormal proteins aggregate to form plaques and tangles in the brain which progressively damage the brain and lead to severe cognitive decline.

•••••

Penn study finds sons of cocaine-using fathers have profound memory impairments

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uops-psf022317.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Penn study finds sons of cocaine-using fathers have profound memory impairments
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Fathers who use cocaine at the time of conceiving a child may be putting their sons at risk of learning disabilities and memory loss. The findings of the animal study were published online in Molecular Psychiatry by a team of researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The researchers say the findings reveal that drug abuse by fathers--separate from the well-established effects of cocaine use in mothers-- may negatively impact cognitive development in their male offspring.

•••••

tags: drug use, drug abuse

Air pollution may have masked mid-20th Century sea ice loss

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/agu-apm022317.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Air pollution may have masked mid-20th Century sea ice loss
American Geophysical Union

Humans may have been altering Arctic sea ice longer than previously thought, according to researchers studying the effects of air pollution on sea ice growth in the mid-20th Century. The new results challenge the perception that Arctic sea ice extent was unperturbed by human-caused climate change until the 1970s.

Scientists have observed Arctic sea ice loss since the mid-1970s and some climate model simulations have shown the region was losing sea ice as far back as 1950. In a new study, recently recovered Russian observations show an increase in sea ice from 1950 to 1975 as large as the subsequent decrease in sea ice observed from 1975 to 2005. The new observations of mid-century sea ice expansion led researchers behind the new study to the search for the cause.

The new study supports the idea that air pollution is to blame for the observed Arctic sea ice expansion. Particles of air pollution that come primarily from the burning of fossil fuels may have temporarily hidden the effects of global warming in the third quarter of the 20th Century in the eastern Arctic, the researchers say.

These particles, called sulfate aerosols, reflect sunlight back into space and cool the surface. This cooling effect may have disguised the influence of global warming on Arctic sea ice and may have resulted in sea ice growth recorded by Russian aerial surveys in the region from 1950 through 1975, according to the new research.

"The cooling impact from increasing aerosols more than masked the warming impact from increasing greenhouse gases," said John Fyfe, a senior scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada in Victoria and a co-author of the new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

•••••

Values gap in workplace can lead millennials to look elsewhere

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uom-vgi022317.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Values gap in workplace can lead millennials to look elsewhere
Lack of corporate responsibility often a deal-breaker for young workers, University of Missouri study finds
University of Missouri-Columbia

Much has been made in popular culture about millennials as they join the working world, including their tendency to job hop. Although this behavior often is explained as a loyalty issue, new research from the University of Missouri reveals one reason young workers choose to leave a firm is because they find a disconnect between their beliefs and the culture they observe in the workplace.

•••••

They found that workers expressed the most frustration if their employers touted a commitment to environmental sustainability publicly but did not follow through substantively in areas such as:

Materials selection, including the use of recycled materials
Proper management of pollutants, including chemicals and dyes
Working conditions in textile factories
Product packaging, distribution and marketing to consumers

"Fewer people of this generation are just looking for a paycheck," Ha-Brookshire said. "They have been raised with a sense of pro-social, pro-environment values, and they are looking to be engaged. If they find that a company doesn't honor these values and contributions, many either will try to change the culture or find employment elsewhere."

To ensure a good fit with a potential employer, the researchers recommend that job seekers speak with current and former employees at various levels of the organization, asking questions about areas that are particularly important to them, such as sustainability, work-life balance policies or community partnerships.

Conversely, in order to attract and retain the best employees, the researchers encourage companies to understand that the new generation of workers have high ethical and social expectations. Being transparent with potential employees about corporate culture can head-off some frustration, they said. In addition, giving employees the opportunity to shape cultural decisions through membership on committees and outreach efforts will help to increase morale.

•••••

Nicotinamide riboside (vitamin B3) prevents nerve pain caused by cancer drugs

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uoih-nr022317.php

Public Release: 23-Feb-2017
Nicotinamide riboside (vitamin B3) prevents nerve pain caused by cancer drugs
Findings in female rats may lead to improved outcomes for patients receiving chemotherapy to treat breast and ovarian cancer
University of Iowa Health Care

A new study in rats suggests that nicotinamide riboside (NR), a form of vitamin B3, may be useful for treating or preventing nerve pain (neuropathy) caused by chemotherapy drugs. The findings by researchers at the University of Iowa were published recently in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain (PAIN) and lay the groundwork for testing whether this nutritional supplement can reduce nerve pain in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

Although chemotherapies have improved cancer survival rates, many of these drugs also cause debilitating side effects that decrease the quality of life of patients and survivors. In particular, many anti-cancer drugs cause chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) -- nerve damage and pain.

"Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy can both hinder continuation of treatment and persist long after treatment has ended, severely affecting the quality of life of cancer patients," says Marta Hamity, PhD, UI assistant research scientist and first author on the study. "Our findings support the idea that NR could potentially be used to prevent or mitigate CIPN in cancer patients, resulting in a meaningful improvement in their quality of life and the ability to sustain better and longer treatment."

•••••

FBI rejected WH request to deny contacts between Trump advisers and Russia

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/320933-fbi-rejects-white-house-request-to-shoot-down-reports-on-trumps

By Alexander Bolton - 02/23/17

The FBI rejected a recent request by the White House to dispute media reports that Trump campaign officials had regular contacts with Russian intelligence officials before the election, CNN reported.

The revelation comes days after White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said during a weekend television interview that senior intelligence officials assured him that there were not significant contacts between Trump advisers and Russian agents.

•••••

But CNN reported Thursday, citing “multiple U.S. officials briefed on the matter,” that the FBI declined to publicly corroborate Priebus, despite a rare request from the White House to do so. The New York Times and CNN reported last week that Trump campaign aides and associates were in touch with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign.

Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that it “exacerbates the air of suspicion” around the administration.

The report of White House communications with the FBI during a pending investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 presidential election could raise questions about whether the contacts violated restrictions established to insulate such probes from political influence.

•••••

The U.S. is Poised to Set a Record-Setting Record

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/record-high-temperature-february-21186

by Brian Kahn
Feb. 23, 2017

California's biblical deluge has occupied many a meteorologists’ mind this February. But another notable story is unfolding across the eastern U.S.

Unseasonable warmth has kickstarted spring up to a month early in the Southeast, cut into already paltry Great Lakes ice cover and created skiing conditions more reminiscent of April in the Northeast. But the most outstanding aspect of the persistent February warmth is what it has done to the ratio of record highs to record lows.

There have been 3,146 record highs set for the month-to-date compared to only 27 record lows, ensuring February will go down as the 27th month in a row with more highs than lows. The astonishing 116-to-1 ratio of highs to lows would easily set a record for the most lopsided monthly ratio in history. There have also been 248 monthly record highs and no monthly record lows.

•••••

The increasing ratio of record highs vs. record lows is one of the hallmarks of climate change. By raising the baseline temperature, climate change has made it more likely for record highs to be set while decreasing the odds of record lows. In a world that wasn’t warming, that ratio would remain constant right around 1-to-1, but research has shown that hasn’t been the case with highs outpacing lows more and more with each passing decade.

•••••

There has been a huge geographical spread of warm and downright hot weather stretching across the U.S. The latest bout of warm weather has seen Milwaukee reach 71°F, Madison hit 68°F and Green Bay crack 65°F on Wednesday. All are February records and about 30°F above normal for this time of year.

Galveston, Texas also set a daily record on Thursday at 76°F, the seventh time that’s happened this month. Memphis airport set a record topping out at 76°F, and well, the list goes on.

The warmth hasn’t just broken records. It has been long lasting, too. Atlanta has cracked 70°F four times in the past week and has now had more 70°F days in 2017 than any other year-to-date. Dallas has set a similar record for the most 80°F days, according to Capital Weather Gang.

Miami has had 54 days above 80°F while also failing to dip below 50°F this winter. Both are record-setting marks, according to Brian McNoldy, a climate researcher at the University of Miami.

More daily records are in danger of falling across the Northeast for the latter half of the week as warm weather continues its march across the country. On the Texas-Mexico border, it’s possible temperatures could crack 100°F on Thursday.

This year’s freakish February numbers only tell part of the story. The warm weather has acted like a time machine, turning the clock more than a month forward in places.

In the Southeast, locations are seeing spring arrive up to four weeks early, according to the U.S. National Phenology Network spring leaf index. Spring coming earlier is another hallmark of climate change.

•••••

Biologists say half of all species could be extinct by end of century

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/25/half-all-species-extinct-end-century-vatican-conference

Robin McKie
Feb. 25, 2017

One in five species on Earth now faces extinction, and that will rise to 50% by the end of the century unless urgent action is taken. That is the stark view of the world’s leading biologists, ecologists and economists who will gather on Monday to determine the social and economic changes needed to save the planet’s biosphere.

“The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” say the organisers of the Biological Extinction conference held at the Vatican this week.

Threatened creatures such as the tiger or rhino may make occasional headlines, but little attention is paid to the eradication of most other life forms, they argue. But as the conference will hear, these animals and plants provide us with our food and medicine. They purify our water and air while also absorbing carbon emissions from our cars and factories, regenerating soil, and providing us with aesthetic inspiration.
Over half of world's wild primate species face extinction, report reveals
Read more

“Rich western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate,” said biologist Paul Ehrlich, of Stanford University in California. “We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?”

•••••

Facebook down: App kicks users out of their accounts and doesn't let them back in

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-down-app-website-site-broken-not-working-is-it-me-outage-problems-bugs-server-issues-a7598571.html

Andrew Griffin
Feb. 24, 2017

Facebook is kicking people out of their accounts and won't let them back in.

The issues appear to be the result of key parts of the Facebook infrastructure not working.

Some people are seeing strange alerts, like the site telling them that all of their messages have been deleted for being spam. Others are sent back to the login screen and then told that their accounts can't be verified.

Even more concerning messages seem to suggest that a users' account has been hacked and so they have been signed out or their password has been changed. Others request that people change their password because of an apparent hack, but that password will then not work as a way of getting into their account.

•••••

The problems are occurring across the world, according to the website Down Detector. In particular they are hitting Europe and the East coast of the US, but that might be a consequence of time zones rather than the geography of the problems.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Informative links



https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/23/pope-francis-better-to-be-atheist-than-hypocritical-catholic
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/23/upshot/dismal-results-from-vouchers-surprise-researchers-as-devos-era-begins.html?mwrsm=Facebook
http://www.alternet.org/activism/verge-constitutional-collapse?akid=15228.275465.R356IO&rd=1&src=newsletter1072659&t=2
https://www.wired.com/2017/02/cognitive-bias-president-trump-understands-better/
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds
http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/health/nursing-home-aide-rape-charges/

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Informative links



http://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/post/florida-had-unusual-presidential-write-votes#stream/0
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/cats-don-t-cause-mental-illness-study-finds-n723866
http://www.ecowatch.com/chicks-left-to-die-2275976312.html
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/16022017/arctic-sea-ice-extent-nasa-global-warming-climate-change
All told, the invalid ballots outnumbered Republican Trump's margin of victory over Democrat Clinton of nearly 113,000 votes to clinch Florida's 29 electoral votes.
http://politicaldig.com/poor-suffering-trumpsters-just-got-owned/
https://www.yahoo.com/news/millions-sign-petitions-british-lawmakers-debate-trumps-state-204056862.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kind-ceo-daniel-lubetzky-on-feed-the-truth-nutrition-policy-special-interest-lobbyists/
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cave-life-mexico-might-be-50000-years-old/
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/teen-suicide-attempts-fell-as-same-sex-marriage-became-legal/
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/woman-jumps-on-back-of-man-attacking-baton-rouge-police-officer/
http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/20/technology/uber-sexism-allegations/index.html

Draft of first Trump budget would cut legal aid for millions of poor Americans

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/21/trump-draft-budget-legal-aid-low-income

Tom McCarthy
Feb. 21, 2017

Cuts in Donald Trump’s first draft budget to funding for legal aid for millions of Americans could strip much-needed protections from victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, families facing foreclosure and veterans in need, justice equality advocates warned Tuesday.

A Trump draft budget circulated over the weekend called for the elimination of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which has a $375m annual budget and provides free legal assistance to low-income people and others in need of help, with cases involving disability benefits, disaster relief, elder abuse, fair pay, wheelchair access, low-income tax credits, unlawful eviction, child support, consumer scams, school lunch, predatory lending and much more.
Trump budget plan could add $6tn to public debt in a decade, analysts say
Read more

The legal aid program, which represents a miniscule portion of the government’s projected $4tn budget, is one of many small but mighty programs flagged for elimination in Trump’s draft budget. Others include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Americorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Critics of the cuts point out that they won’t budge the deficit but would erode quality of life and threaten the most vulnerable.

The possible legal aid cuts would come at a time when potentially softer enforcement by the Trump administration of laws to punish domestic violence, protect Americans with disabilities and combat discriminatory housing practices could create a spike in demand, said Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, a fellow at the Center for American Progress who has written on the issue.

•••••

“And what’s so disturbing about the potential for the administration to eliminate LSC altogether is that at the same time, you have a Department of Justice that’s probably not going to enforce the types of legislation on the government’s side that supplements private action, like the Fair Housing Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act. And at the same time that they’re going to stop doing that, people are going to have fewer options for seeking out free legal assistance.”

Linda Klein, president of the American Bar Association, the lawyers’ organization, said that the Legal Services Corporation assured “access to justice for all, the very idea that propelled our nation to independence”.

“Our nation’s core values are reflected in the LSC’s work in securing housing for veterans, freeing seniors from scams, serving rural areas when others won’t, protecting battered women, helping disaster survivors back to their feet, and many others,” Klein said in a statement. “Thirty cost-benefit analyses all show that legal aid returns far more benefits than costs to communities across America.”

The legal services corporation was created by a 1974 law, signed by Richard Nixon, acknowledging a “need to provide equal access to the system of justice in our nation”. The corporation helped an estimated 1.8m people in 2013, 70% of them women living near or below the poverty line. But studies indicate that legal aid offices turn away about 50% of clients in need owing to a lack of resources.

Trump’s proposed budget is not all – or even mostly – cuts. It emerged on Tuesday that the president had directed the Department of Homeland Security to hire 10,000 more customs and immigration agents. Trump has vowed to build a border wall costing billions and to ramp up military spending.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Climate impacts fuelling South Sudan war says minister

http://www.climatechangenews.com/2014/05/30/climate-impacts-fuelling-south-sudan-war-says-minister/

30/05/2014
By Sophie Yeo in Cancun

Climate change is exacerbating the civil war in South Sudan, according to the country’s environment minister, Deng Deng Hoc Yai.

He warned that the environmental damage caused by global warming was increasing the suffering that war was already causing in the strife-ridden country, worsening food shortages and building pressure on urban areas.

•••••

While most credit the current conflict to ethnic tensions and a dispute between the President and his deputy, the situation in South Sudan adds credence to scientists’ theories that climate change can act as a “threat multiplier”, aggravating the effects of pre-existing violence and triggering further tension, creating security threats in vulnerable countries.

•••••

But war can also act as an opportunity for countries to rebuild in a way that will help them to deal with the impacts of climate change, said Haddijatou Jallow, who leads the Environmental Protection Agency in Sierra Leone, another country to have recently experienced a civil war.

She told RTCC that rebuilding the country almost from scratch after the destruction caused by eleven years of violence had allowed it to embed climate into its constitution, including the 2008 Environment Protection Agency Act.

“What war does, it reduces you to zero, so you have to go back to the drawing board and literally start all over again,” she said.

“Starting all over again, that is an opportunity again to build adaptive measures, mitigation measures, and ensure that you put in mechanisms that will lessen the impacts of climate change.”

She added that climate measures had contributed to the country’s economic boom—a growth of around 17% in 2002, the year in which the civil war ended—although the immediate concerns of the population could still threaten to overshadow the environmental agenda.

•••••

Famine declared in South Sudan

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/20/africa/south-sudan-famine/index.html

By Farai Sevenzo and Bryony Jones, CNN
Updated 6:13 PM ET, Mon February 20, 2017

Years of civil war, a refugee crisis and a collapsing economy have taken their toll on South Sudan since it gained its independence in 2011.

Now the UN World Food Programme and nongovernmental organizations are sounding the alarm, warning that more than a million children are suffering from acute malnutrition.
"Our worst fears have been realized," said Serge Tissot, of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. "Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive."

•••••

Drew said the famine was "a man-made tragedy" and called for an end to the fighting so aid could get through to those most in need.

•••••

Fomiyen said humanitarian groups had found it extremely difficult to reach the hardest-hit areas.
"We have to talk to 10 to 15 people and ask if it's possible to send a team there," he said. "You cannot just access these places without prior agreement."
Fomiyen said the program's food supplies will run out unless it can secure "a substantial injection of funds" -- $205 million -- within the next six months.
"We are quite concerned that we do not have the resources," he said. "We could run out of food by the end of June. The needs are so huge; every time you are entering a new front, a new battle."

•••••

Fomiyen said humanitarian groups had found it extremely difficult to reach the hardest-hit areas.
"We have to talk to 10 to 15 people and ask if it's possible to send a team there," he said. "You cannot just access these places without prior agreement."
Fomiyen said the program's food supplies will run out unless it can secure "a substantial injection of funds" -- $205 million -- within the next six months.
"We are quite concerned that we do not have the resources," he said. "We could run out of food by the end of June. The needs are so huge; every time you are entering a new front, a new battle."

•••••

South Sudan is the world's newest country. It gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, after years of civil war.
But after two years of relative peace, trouble broke out between President Salva Kiir's mainly Dinka army and the Nuer people of his former deputy Riek Machar.
Since July 2016 that fighting has intensified to draw in other ethnic groups and render the countryside, including the formerly agriculturally rich Equatoria region, a permanent war zone that has been producing refugees instead of food.

Informative links


http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/20/politics/donald-trump-golfing-presidency/index.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/poaching-forest-elephants-mink%C3%A9b%C3%A9-gabon-africa_us_58ab4c3ae4b0a855d1d8bfe5
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/feb/20/expect-to-see-more-emergencies-like-oroville-dam-in-a-hotter-world?CMP=share_btn_fb
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/19/donald-trump-palm-beach-florida-social-set-wealth-mar-a-lago
http://www.ecowatch.com/abolish-epa-bill-pruitt-2267818117.html
http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/19/world/putin-critic-leaves-hospital/index.html
http://click.email.bostonglobe.com/?qs=719e42d8836cd7b7a05fe5d01f4f12c88d4a3ebeb670d488cd73c834a1554af00fd6cac499bc3eee3b409daef557b16b02d066a6e57a36b9
http://click.email.bostonglobe.com/?qs=719e42d8836cd7b7a05fe5d01f4f12c88d4a3ebeb670d488cd73c834a1554af00fd6cac499bc3eee3b409daef557b16b02d066a6e57a36b9
https://www.quora.com/Can-you-share-some-of-the-ways-to-de-escalate-and-smooth-things-over-with-narcissists/answer/Elinor-Greenberg
http://click.email.bostonglobe.com/?qs=53324b020526fc5c7a73b9202f7460bedb8033a1de59014d5f29ddd3b2bc63e327bc0f08ec76e7f3da2dbf44b5b43134f43efd4383c3e408
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/citizen-trump-likely-wouldnt-get-a-security-clearance-heres-why/2017/02/17/b2a7258e-f492-11e6-b9c9-e83fce42fb61_story.html?utm_term=.666e85365e7f&wpisrc=nl_most-draw14&wpmm=1
http://link.washingtonpost.com/click/8908488.303763/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cud2FzaGluZ3RvbnBvc3QuY29tL3dvcmxkL2NoaW5hLXN1c3BlbmRzLW5vcnRoLWtvcmVhcy1jb2FsLWltcG9ydHMtc3RyaWtpbmctYXQtcmVnaW1lcy1maW5hbmNpYWwtbGlmZWxpbmUvMjAxNy8wMi8xOC84MzkwYjBlNi1mNWRmLTExZTYtYTliMC1lY2VlN2NlNDc1ZmNfc3RvcnkuaHRtbD93cGlzcmM9bmxfbW9zdC1kcmF3MTQmd3BtbT0x/584c4aa1e661f00c188b4925B28f0aabf
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/02/18/scientists-feel-compelled-speak-out-trump/pJwmb99B5DdEyQA2T2dCLL/story.html?s_campaign=email_BG_TodaysHeadline&s_campaign=
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2017/02/19/don-cut-america-digital-lifeline/HsGS6liYOOhgeKNosZMYXI/story.html?s_campaign=email_BG_TodaysHeadline&s_campaign=
http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/02/18/poverty-rising-affluent-communities/RzVJc6DyV7nfmlhEyhnCqJ/story.html?s_campaign=email_BG_TodaysHeadline&s_campaign=
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/02/18/seas-rise-city-mulls-massive-sea-barrier-across-boston-harbor/dxtlbGrfSmYE2zacwUKakJ/story.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/07/the-startling-accuracy-of-referring-to-politicians-as-psychopaths/260517/
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-environment/318178-in-todays-hearing-smith-takes-aim-at-public-health#.WJndwqaOtaU.facebook%E2%80%AC
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/nyregion/new-york-math-camp.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/opinion/sunday/the-social-scientific-case-against-a-muslim-ban.html?_r=0

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Informative links


https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/19/donald-trump-palm-beach-florida-social-set-wealth-mar-a-lago
http://www.ecowatch.com/abolish-epa-bill-pruitt-2267818117.html
http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/19/world/putin-critic-leaves-hospital/index.html
http://click.email.bostonglobe.com/?qs=719e42d8836cd7b7a05fe5d01f4f12c88d4a3ebeb670d488cd73c834a1554af00fd6cac499bc3eee3b409daef557b16b02d066a6e57a36b9
http://click.email.bostonglobe.com/?qs=719e42d8836cd7b7a05fe5d01f4f12c88d4a3ebeb670d488cd73c834a1554af00fd6cac499bc3eee3b409daef557b16b02d066a6e57a36b9
https://www.quora.com/Can-you-share-some-of-the-ways-to-de-escalate-and-smooth-things-over-with-narcissists/answer/Elinor-Greenberg
http://click.email.bostonglobe.com/?qs=53324b020526fc5c7a73b9202f7460bedb8033a1de59014d5f29ddd3b2bc63e327bc0f08ec76e7f3da2dbf44b5b43134f43efd4383c3e408
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/citizen-trump-likely-wouldnt-get-a-security-clearance-heres-why/2017/02/17/b2a7258e-f492-11e6-b9c9-e83fce42fb61_story.html?utm_term=.666e85365e7f&wpisrc=nl_most-draw14&wpmm=1
http://link.washingtonpost.com/click/8908488.303763/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cud2FzaGluZ3RvbnBvc3QuY29tL3dvcmxkL2NoaW5hLXN1c3BlbmRzLW5vcnRoLWtvcmVhcy1jb2FsLWltcG9ydHMtc3RyaWtpbmctYXQtcmVnaW1lcy1maW5hbmNpYWwtbGlmZWxpbmUvMjAxNy8wMi8xOC84MzkwYjBlNi1mNWRmLTExZTYtYTliMC1lY2VlN2NlNDc1ZmNfc3RvcnkuaHRtbD93cGlzcmM9bmxfbW9zdC1kcmF3MTQmd3BtbT0x/584c4aa1e661f00c188b4925B28f0aabf
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/02/18/scientists-feel-compelled-speak-out-trump/pJwmb99B5DdEyQA2T2dCLL/story.html?s_campaign=email_BG_TodaysHeadline&s_campaign=
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2017/02/19/don-cut-america-digital-lifeline/HsGS6liYOOhgeKNosZMYXI/story.html?s_campaign=email_BG_TodaysHeadline&s_campaign=
http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/02/18/poverty-rising-affluent-communities/RzVJc6DyV7nfmlhEyhnCqJ/story.html?s_campaign=email_BG_TodaysHeadline&s_campaign=
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/02/18/seas-rise-city-mulls-massive-sea-barrier-across-boston-harbor/dxtlbGrfSmYE2zacwUKakJ/story.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/07/the-startling-accuracy-of-referring-to-politicians-as-psychopaths/260517/
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-environment/318178-in-todays-hearing-smith-takes-aim-at-public-health#.WJndwqaOtaU.facebook%E2%80%AC
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/nyregion/new-york-math-camp.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/opinion/sunday/the-social-scientific-case-against-a-muslim-ban.html?_r=0

Droughts and flooding rains already more likely as climate change plays havoc with Pacific weather

https://www.facebook.com/events/1471519816216290/?notif_t=plan_user_invited¬if_id=1487553803857050

Feb. 8, 2017

Global warming has already increased the risk of major disruptions to Pacific rainfall, according to our research published today in Nature Communications. The risk will continue to rise over coming decades, even if global warming during the 21st century is restricted to 2℃ as agreed by the international community under the Paris Agreement.

In recent times, major disruptions have occurred in 1997-98, when severe drought struck Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands, and in 2010-11, when rainfall caused widespread flooding in eastern Australia and severe flooding in Samoa, and drought triggered a national emergency in Tuvalu.

These rainfall disruptions are primarily driven by the El Niño/La Niña cycle, a naturally occurring phenomenon centred on the tropical Pacific. This climate variability can profoundly change rainfall patterns and intensity over the Pacific Ocean from year to year.

•••••

Recent research concluded that unabated growth in greenhouse gas emissions over the 21st century will increase the frequency of such disruptions to Pacific rainfall.

But our new research shows even the greenhouse cuts we have agreed to may not be enough to stop the risk of rainfall disruption from growing as the century unfolds.

•••••

While changes to the frequency of major changes in Pacific rainfall appear likely in the future, is it possible that humans have already increased the risk of major disruption?

It seems that we have: the frequency of major rainfall disruptions in the climate models had already increased by around 30% relative to pre-industrial times prior to the year 2000.

As the risk of major disruption to Pacific rainfall had already increased by the end of the 20th century, some of the disruption actually witnessed in the real world may have been partially due to the human release of greenhouse gases. The 1982-83 super El Niño event, for example, might have been less severe if global greenhouse emissions had not risen since the Industrial Revolution.

•••••