Sunday, December 31, 2017

Links



Iranians chant ‘death to dictator’ in biggest unrest since crushing of protests in 2009
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/30/iran-protests-trump-tweets


Houston mayor makes desperate plea for Hurricane Harvey recovery aid
https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-harvey/houston-mayor-makes-desperate-plea-hurricane-harvey-recovery-aid-n832011


Forever 21 confirms breach exposed customer credit card info
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/forever-21-confirms-breach-exposed-customer-credit-card-info/


Claire's says initial testing shows cosmetics tested to date "asbestos free"
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/claires-says-initial-testing-shows-cosmetics-tested-to-date-are-asbestos-free/

How is Today’s Warming Different from the Past?

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page3.php

Earth has experienced climate change in the past without help from humanity. We know about past climates because of evidence left in tree rings, layers of ice in glaciers, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. For example, bubbles of air in glacial ice trap tiny samples of Earth’s atmosphere, giving scientists a history of greenhouse gases that stretches back more than 800,000 years.



Using this ancient evidence, scientists have built a record of Earth’s past climates, or “paleoclimates.” The paleoclimate record combined with global models shows past ice ages as well as periods even warmer than today. But the paleoclimate record also reveals that the current climatic warming is occurring much more rapidly than past warming events.

As the Earth moved out of ice ages over the past million years, the global temperature rose a total of 4 to 7 degrees Celsius over about 5,000 years. In the past century alone, the temperature has climbed 0.7 degrees Celsius, roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

Models predict that Earth will warm between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius in the next century. When global warming has happened at various times in the past two million years, it has taken the planet about 5,000 years to warm 5 degrees. The predicted rate of warming for the next century is at least 20 times faster. This rate of change is extremely unusual.

Climate scientist calls Trump's global warming tweet an "often debunked assertion"




Dec. 29, 2017

•••••

"The tweet seemed to imply that the cold weather in the Eastern United States somehow contradicts the notion that the climate is warming -- or warming due to human influence -- which of course is not true. This is a very tired and often debunked assertion," Sobel said.

Sobel explained that winter will not cease to exist and that cold weather can still happen despite global warming.

"If you look at the temperature map for the climate as a whole right now, the entire rest of the planet is warmer than the historical average with the exception of the Eastern United States and Canada, and the last three years -- 2014, 2015 and 2016 -- have been consecutively the warmest years on record," Sobel said.

He added, "So the notion that 'there's cold weather happening somewhere so global warming is not happening' is well understood by people who take the issue seriously to be false."

Sobel said the most important thing people can do to combat climate change is to vote.

"I think that's the number one most important thing, because we can all take individual actions to reduce our carbon footprint, and we all should, but the problem is too big for individual action," he said.

"It's going to be solved by collective action at the government, national and international, level. The United States has the capacity to lead this issue; we were for a little while. Now this administration has made the problem worse rather than helping."

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


https://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2017/12/28/a-response-for-people-using-record-cold-u-s-weather-to-refute-climate-change/#2bef53ee5680


A Response For People Using Record Cold U.S. Weather To Refute Climate Change

Marshall Shepherd
Dec. 28, 2017

•••••

The key thing to convey to that skeptical uncle or vociferous social media friend is that "weather is mood, climate is personality." My University of Georgia colleague Dr. John Knox mentioned this a few years ago, and it has been one of my favorite techniques to use while dealing with this pesky climate communication challenge for the public. Weekly or daily weather patterns tell you nothing about longer-term climate change (and that goes for the warm days too). Climate is defined as the statistical properties of the atmosphere: averages, extremes, frequency of occurrence, deviations from normal, and so forth. The clothes that you have on today do not describe what you have in your closet but rather how you dressed for today's weather. In reality, your closest is likely packed with coats, swimsuits, t-shirts, rain boots, and gloves. In other words, what's in your closet is a representation of "climate."

•••••

What we are seeing right now in the United States is just,.........well......wait for it......"winter".....Even as climate warms, we will always have winter (cold weather, snowstorms, blizzards). Winter is related to how the Earth is tilted on its axis as it moves around the Sun. In a previous Forbes piece, I described how the axial tilt of our planet determines our seasons.

Now having said that, our weather is governed by a series of undulations or wave patterns. The "valleys" (troughs) in those waves allow cold, dense air to ooze into the U.S. The "hills" (ridges) in the waves are typically associated with warm conditions. If you search Arctic Amplification on the Internet, there is some evidence that climate change is causing more wavy, high amplitude "valleys" and "hills" in the jet stream pattern. This could be associated with more extreme cold events and more extreme heat/drought events. The science is still emerging on this process, but it should be monitored and not dismissed.

The other thing to point out is that because one part of the world is cold (in that valley), there is likely another part of the world experiencing abnormally warm conditions (in the hill part of the wave pattern). In the temperature map tweeted by long-time weather observer Joe Stepansky, it is clear that on December 28th the United States and parts of Canada are experiencing the anomalously cold weather. If you need a visual of how our three-dimensional atmospheric wave patterns work, consider what happens when you press down on a water bed mattress (for us older folks) or an inflatable bouncy house. One part goes down, another part goes up.

•••••

What we are seeing right now in the United States is just,.........well......wait for it......"winter".....Even as climate warms, we will always have winter (cold weather, snowstorms, blizzards). Winter is related to how the Earth is tilted on its axis as it moves around the Sun. In a previous Forbes piece, I described how the axial tilt of our planet determines our seasons.

Now having said that, our weather is governed by a series of undulations or wave patterns. The "valleys" (troughs) in those waves allow cold, dense air to ooze into the U.S. The "hills" (ridges) in the waves are typically associated with warm conditions. If you search Arctic Amplification on the Internet, there is some evidence that climate change is causing more wavy, high amplitude "valleys" and "hills" in the jet stream pattern. This could be associated with more extreme cold events and more extreme heat/drought events. The science is still emerging on this process, but it should be monitored and not dismissed.

The other thing to point out is that because one part of the world is cold (in that valley), there is likely another part of the world experiencing abnormally warm conditions (in the hill part of the wave pattern). In the temperature map tweeted by long-time weather observer Joe Stepansky, it is clear that on December 28th the United States and parts of Canada are experiencing the anomalously cold weather. If you need a visual of how our three-dimensional atmospheric wave patterns work, consider what happens when you press down on a water bed mattress (for us older folks) or an inflatable bouncy house. One part goes down, another part goes up.

•••••

Oh, and to throw a another counterintuitive thing out there, there are some studies that suggest that a warming climate (because more water vapor is available to a warmer atmosphere) may fuel bigger blizzards or snowstorms. That science is also emerging.
It is a fact that global warming has caused an increase in water vapor in the atmosphere. It would be surprising if if did not lead to heavier rain and snow falls.

•••••

Formerly homeless hairdresser gives free makeovers to homeless girls



By Jennifer Earl CBS News August 3, 2017, 4:58 PM

Two decades ago, Vanessa Howard was a homeless single mother of three with only $1.75 to her name.

During that time, the woman from Tampa, Florida, admits she was — at one point — suicidal. A victim of domestic violence, she had first gotten pregnant as a teen and left her "drug infested" childhood home, not sure where to go next.

"I cried out one day," Howard told CBS News. "I was tired of being homeless, tired of being alone and prayed for help."

The next day, Howard hopped on a city bus with her three little girls and headed to look at an apartment, hoping that this time, the landlord would take a chance on her. When she finally met the building owner, he said something she didn't expect.

"He was like, 'I don't know you, but I feel like you should have this place,'" Howard described. "It was from there that I found hope and restoration. I just wanted to pay it forward."

Howard got her fresh start working in local beauty salons over the years, earning enough money to care for her children.

Four years ago, Howard, who's now 62, did something she never dreamed was possible: she opened her own salon. She named it the Giving Hands Hair Salon because she planned to use the studio to give back to her community.

And that's exactly what she's been doing.

Once a month, Howard comes into the salon on her Sunday off to give free haircuts to the homeless.

"I know the struggle. That's why I give so hard," Howard said. "I'm looking to help restore women. I'm looking to help restore children, because, again, that pain is a part of my purpose."

•••••

Homeless man who gave away his last $20 buys home thanks to fundraiser

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/johnny-bobbitt-buys-home-fundraiser/

Dec. 5, 2017

A homeless man who used his last $20 to fill up the gas tank of a stranded motorist in Philadelphia has bought a home with some of the nearly $400,000 raised for him by the woman he saved.

Johnny Bobbitt Jr. says on his GoFundMe page that he bought a home over the weekend. The fundraiser has raised more than $397,000.

Kate McClure, 27, of Florence Township, New Jersey, ran out of gas on an Interstate 95 exit ramp late one night. Bobbitt walked a few blocks to buy her gas. She didn't have money to repay the Marine veteran, so she created the online fundraiser page as a thank you.

•••••

Bobbitt says he's donating some of his money to a grade school student who is helping another homeless veteran.

•••••

HIV/Aids adviser says panel's sudden firing by Trump 'feels like retribution'


Please consider making a contribution to The Guardian investigative news service.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/30/donald-trump-fires-hiv-aids-panel-advisers-react-retribution

Joanna Walters in New York
Sat 30 Dec ‘17 12.29 EST

Donald Trump has fired the remaining members of his advisory panel on HIV and Aids, abruptly and without full explanation, and drawing accusations that he is retaliating against activists and experts who oppose his healthcare agenda.

The White House said such moves are typical when one administration takes over from another.

Six members of the panel resigned in the summer, protesting against what they saw as a lack of support from the Trump administration. They accused the White House of not caring about the issue.

On Wednesday, the remaining members of the panel received letters informing them they were being terminated. Some had more than a year left on their contracts.

The White House said it was a routine move, a step towards changing the guard from members appointed by Barack Obama. But some panel members were left surprised, bruised and suspicious.

“I had recently been re-sworn in through 2018, so why now?,” said Gabriel Maldonado, one of the fired advisers, who is chief executive of TruEvolution, a California group that works for the elimination of HIV and Aids and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

“The timing feels awkward.”

Maldonado said he was shocked to receive his termination letter by FedEx courier.

“It feels like retribution,” he told the Guardian. “I’ve criticized the Trump government’s HIV policy … I think we all know broadly that there is a hostility that this administration has to people in the LGBTQ community, particularly [among] those on the evangelical right wing.”

The post of national director of Aids policy has not been filled under Trump. Maldonado said that left a glaring hole in policy work at the top level.

He also said repealing or severely weakening the Affordable Care Act – a Trump promise – would have a disproportionate effect on Aids sufferers and population groups more vulnerable to contracting HIV.

•••••

Saturday, December 30, 2017

NYT conservative columnist: I'm still 'never Trump' after first year

http://thehill.com/homenews/media/366872-nyt-conservative-columnist-im-still-never-trump-after-first-year-in

By John Bowden - 12/30/17

New York Times conservative columnist Bret Stephens revealed he still sees himself as a "never Trumper" after a year of President Trump's term in the White House, despite agreeing with many of Trump's policy moves.

In an op-ed in the newspaper Saturday, Stephens wrote, "I still wish Hillary Clinton were president."

"[C]haracter does count, and virtue does matter, and Trump’s shortcomings prove it daily," Stephens writes. "This is the fatal mistake of conservatives who’ve decided the best way to deal with Trump’s personality — the lying, narcissism, bullying, bigotry, crassness, name calling, ignorance, paranoia, incompetence and pettiness — is to pretend it doesn’t matter."

•••••

In early December, he seemed to renounce the Republican Party amid Trump's support for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R), who was accused in a Washington Post investigation of previous sexual misconduct with underage girls.

“I think I speak not only for myself but for many other people that I could never vote ever again for a party that is making an open endorsement of a man against whom there are credible accusations of pedophilia,” Stephens said of Moore.

•••••

Friday, December 29, 2017

Links



Trump administration fires all members of HIV/AIDS advisory council
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/trump-administration-fires-all-members-of-hivaids-advisory-council-20171229.html


Alarming link between fungicides and bee declines revealed
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/29/alarming-link-between-fungicides-and-bee-declines-revealed


After Saving Many From Fire, Immigrant Soldier Died Trying to Rescue One More
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/nyregion/bronx-fire-victims-died-family.html


Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have managed to sequence the giant genome of a salamander, the Iberian ribbed newt, which is a full six times greater than the human genome. Amongst the early findings is a family of genes that can provide clues to the unique ability of salamanders to rebuild complex tissue, even body parts.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/ki-sgg122217.php


Helpful intestinal bacteria counteracts tendency to depression
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/au-hib122217.php


Short-term exposure to low levels of air pollution linked with premature death among US seniors
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/htcs-set122117.php


Exercising twice a week may improve thinking ability and memory in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/aaon-gem122217.php


Taking a higher dose of topiramate during the first three months of pregnancy may increase a baby's risk of cleft lip or cleft palate more than when taking a lower dose
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/aaon-ddo122217.php


University of Missouri School of Medicine researchers studied in vitro human cancer cells to show that combining blueberry extract with radiation can increase the treatment's effectiveness.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/uom-bgb122917.php




January will bring two supermoons, a blue moon, and a total lunar eclipse

https://qz.com/1168320/how-to-watch-two-supermoons-a-blue-moon-and-a-total-lunar-eclipse-this-january/


Written by Karen Hao
Dec. 29, 2017

Visible supermoons—full moons that appear when the moon is at its closest orbital point to Earth—aren’t very rare. Having three in a row certainly is.

And that’s exactly what astronomy fans are being treated to this winter.

The first supermoon appeared when the moon swung by Earth 26,500 km (approximately 16,500 miles) closer than usual on Dec. 3. It will reappear as a visible supermoon on New Year’s Day 2018 and again on Jan. 31.

Visible supermoons appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter than full moons that occur at the farthest point in the moon’s orbit. If you only have time to catch one episode of the trilogy, NASA recommends catching the last one, which will be extra special.

Not only is the second full moon of a month considered a blue moon, the Jan. 31 supermoon will also feature a total lunar eclipse, with totality visible from eastern Asia across the Pacific to western North America.

•••••

Meet your ‘Nigerian prince.’ Police say he’s behind hundreds of scam emails

http://www.kansas.com/news/nation-world/national/article192149904.html

By Don Sweeney
December 29, 2017 12:55 PM

Anyone with an email address has likely gotten a message from a Nigerian prince or two offering hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in secret inheritances or, in some cases, payment for assistance laundering ill-gotten gains from mining conglomerates or royal treasuries.

Police in Slidell, Louisiana, say they finally caught up with one of the people behind some of those emails. He’s not exactly Nigerian royalty, either, police wrote in a Facebook post.

Michael Neu, 67, of Slidell, Louisiana, faces 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering following an 18-month investigation, police wrote. They say Neu took part in hundreds of financial transactions involving phone and online scams to con money from people across the United States.

In these scams, the supposed Nigerian prince (or other official) asks for the person’s personal banking information in order to speed the transfer of the purported inheritance or temporarily hold the allegedly pilfered funds. The information can then be used to withdraw funds from the victim’s accounts.

While Neu might lack a royal title, at least some of the money obtained in his scams did go to co-conspirators in Nigeria, police wrote. Investigators are continuing to untangle Neu’s web of scams, but many other leads also connect to people outside the U.S., the post says.

•••••

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Police Chief Randy Fandal in the Facebook post. “Never give out personal information over the phone, through e-mail, cash checks for other individuals, or wire large amounts of money to someone you don’t know. 99.9 percent of the time, it’s a scam.”

Law enforcement agencies across the nation also are warning people of calls from scammers purporting to be police or court officials demanding payment via phone of bogus fines or warrants. Another version involves scammers claiming to be jailed relatives pleading for bail money, often targeting older people.

•••••

Germany has ordered Amazon to stop taking advantage of people who can’t spell “Birkenstock”

https://qz.com/1168441/germany-tells-amazon-to-quit-luring-birkenstock-shoppers-who-misspell-the-sandals-in-google/

A German court has barred Amazon from drawing in online shoppers who misspell iconic German sandal maker Birkenstock in their Google searches, Reuters reports. Amazon reportedly won business for common Birkenstock misspellings by booking variants like “Brikenstock,” “Bierkenstock,” and “Birkenstok” in Google AdWords, so that they produced search results for shoes sold on Amazon.com.

According to Reuters, Birkenstock turned to the court because it feared shoppers might unwittingly buy shoddy counterfeits, which could damage its brand reputation.

•••••

Birkenstock first walked away from Amazon.com in July 2016. Besieged by counterfeits and rogue merchants, the company said it would no longer supply products to Amazon for US customers starting Jan. 1, 2017. “The Amazon marketplace, which operates as an ‘open market,’ creates an environment where we experience unacceptable business practices which we believe jeopardize our brand,” David Kahan, Birkenstock’s CEO for the Americas, wrote in a memo at the time.

A year later, Kahan denounced Amazon in a lengthy memo for attempting to get Birkenstock retailers to sell it their inventory, even though the company had explicitly removed its sandals from Amazon.com in the US.

•••••

Links



The 2020 Census may be wildly inaccurate—and it matters more than you think
[I doubt that republicans want an accurate census, because it might jeopardize their ability to win the presidency while losing the popular vote.]
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2017/08/31/the-2020-census-may-be-wildly-inaccurate-and-it-matters-more-than-you-think/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/26/2017s-fastest-and-slowest-growing-states-are-neighbors-heres-why-their-paths-diverged/?utm_term=.59efe86bf81e


Why people really want to move to Idaho but are fleeing its neighbor, Wyoming
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/26/2017s-fastest-and-slowest-growing-states-are-neighbors-heres-why-their-paths-diverged/?utm_term=.59efe86bf81e

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Massive Lake Effect Snow Over Great Lakes made worse by global warming

http://www.newsweek.com/bizarre-cloud-streets-shaped-cylinders-seen-over-great-lakes-762224

By Sydney Pereira On 12/28/17

More than 65 inches of snow fell in Erie, Pennsylvania this week from the record-breaking lake effect storm that started on Christmas Eve. There are plenty of photos of the storm on the ground, but views from space reveal bizarre parallel clouds crossing over the Great Lakes.

The “lake effect” snow storm in Erie happened when cold air, often from Canada, mixed with the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes.

•••••

The record-breaking lake effect snow in Erie seemed odd in the wake of one of the hottest years on record, especially with recent snow as far south as Florida and Texas. But the seeming paradox has a pretty simple explanation. All the extra snow, specifically in the Great Lakes region, is related to those warmer temperatures.

The temperature of the Great Lakes is expected to increase due to climate change, and the lakes will remain ice-free for more time throughout the year, according to NOAA’s Tom Di Liberto, who explained the paradox back in January. So long as Arctic air from Canada is mixing with the relatively warm waters of the lakes, there will be lake effect snow. Though, Di Liberto points out, once the cold air from the north becomes warmer over time, there would eventually be less lake effect snow. Instead, it would be rain.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather

Links



Internet's slow the last couple of days. Some big hacking event, or the bad weather up north from the arctic incursion?


Claire’s issues recall after family finds asbestos in makeup
http://kxan.com/2017/12/27/claires-issues-recall-after-family-finds-asbestos-in-makeup/


Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research
[This fits my observation of famillies during more than a decade of baby-sitting. Children whose parents spanked them were harder to manage.]
https://news.utexas.edu/2016/04/25/risks-of-harm-from-spanking-confirmed-by-researchers


Roy Moore is contesting his loss in Alabama. One of the pieces of "evidence" he claims shows voter fraud is that there was a bigger than expected turn out. If he is so stupid that he doesn't know that his nutty stands, and the revelations of his sexual predations on girls, caused a bigger than normal turnout, it is really a good thing not to have him in Congress.


First supermoon of 2018 coincides with New Year's Day
http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/28/world/supermoon-january-1-2018-trnd/index.html


Exercise to Improve Memory and Slow Dementia
http://www.newsweek.com/exercise-improve-memory-slow-dementia-doctors-recommend-761003


Death in an Amazon dumpster
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/28/amazon-dumpster-death-homeless-man-frank-ryan


Hurricanes and heatwaves: stark signs of climate change 'new normal'
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/28/climate-change-2017-warmest-year-extreme-weather

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Extreme poverty returns to America


I suggest reading the whole article at the following link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/12/21/extreme-poverty-returns-to-america/?utm_term=.5b812eae034d

By Premilla Nadasen December 21, 2017

•••••

the United Nations launched an investigation of extreme poverty in the United States.

Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has just wrapped up a 15-day tour of the United States. His team visited Alabama, California, Puerto Rico, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The findings, released last Friday, documented homelessness, unsafe sanitation and sewage disposal practices, as well as police surveillance, criminalization and harassment of the poor. The rise in poverty, they found, disproportionately affects people of color and women, but also large swaths of white Americans. The report concluded that the pervasiveness of poverty and inequality “are shockingly at odds with [the United States’] immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights.”

•••••

Instead, the shredding of the safety net led to a rise in poverty. Forty million Americans live in poverty, nearly half in deep poverty — which U.N. investigators defined as people reporting income less than one-half of the poverty threshold. The United States has the highest child poverty rates — 25 percent — in the developed world. Then there are the extremely poor who live on less than $2 per day per person and don’t have access to basic human services such as sanitation, shelter, education and health care. These are people who cannot find work, who have used up their five-year lifetime limit on assistance, who do not qualify for any other programs or who may live in remote areas. They are disconnected from both the safety net and the job market.

•••••

In addition to the reduction of public assistance and social services, the rise in extreme poverty can also be attributed to growing inequality. To quote the U.N. report: “The American Dream is rapidly becoming the American Illusion, as the U.S. … now has the lowest rate of social mobility of any of the rich countries.” In 1981, the top 1 percent of adults earned on average 27 times more than the bottom 50 percent of adults. Today the top 1 percent earn 81 times more than the bottom 50 percent.

•••••

Links



US nuclear tests killed far more civilians than we knew
https://qz.com/1163140/us-nuclear-tests-killed-american-civilians-on-a-scale-comparable-to-hiroshima-and-nagasaki/


Legal levels of air pollution are killing the elderly
https://qz.com/1166010/air-pollution-even-at-levels-that-meet-national-standards-causes-premature-death/


America's health is declining -- and corporations are stoking this crisis
http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/27/opinions/life-expectancy-corporations-opinion-sachs/index.html


If you have to fall on ice, here's how not to hurt yourself
https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/if-you-have-fall-ice-here-s-how-not-hurt-ncna712051


Kmart Corp. has agreed to pay $32.3 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging its pharmacies overcharged federal health care programs and some private insurers for generic prescription drugs, federal officials announced Friday.
[Kmart really deteriorated after being bought by Ayn-loving libertarian Eddie Lampert ]
https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/kmart-pay-32-3m-settle-health-care-related-whistleblower-case-n832331


President Donald Trump finally got approval to build a controversial border wall, but it won’t be along the U.S.-Mexico border—it’ll be at one of his golf resorts in Ireland to combat rising sea levels from global warming, which the president has claimed to be a Chinese hoax.
http://www.newsweek.com/trump-building-controversial-border-wall-ireland-mexico-760148?utm_campaign=NewsweekFacebookSF&utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social


Disney Heiress Wants You To Get Really, Really Mad About The GOP Tax Bill
https://www.yahoo.com/news/disney-heiress-wants-really-really-182533724.html?utm_content=bufferd1947&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer


No-Talk Phone Scams
https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2017/no-talk-phone-scams.html?cmp=SNO-ADV-FB-AO-FWN&socialid=1248582626


Trump partly blamed Sessions for Alabama Senate loss

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/366511-trump-partly-blamed-sessions-for-alabama-senate-loss-report

By Jacqueline Thomsen - 12/26/17

President Trump partly blamed Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the GOP loss in the recent Alabama Senate election, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Trump placed blame on Sessions for Republicans losing the seat because Sessions’s departure from the Senate seat to Trump’s Cabinet had caused the special election, according to the AP.

Trump had nominated Sessions for the position, setting off the process. Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-Ala.) defeated Roy Moore (R) in the election earlier this month.

•••••

The president has also targeted Sessions on social media and in comments to the press, largely expressing disappointment with Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia's election interference.

Trump said in July that he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general if he had known that Sessions would recuse himself from the probe.

•••••

Links - Russian trolls



Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/kremlin-trolls-burned-across-the-internet-as-washington-debated-options/2017/12/23/e7b9dc92-e403-11e7-ab50-621fe0588340_story.html?utm_term=.6d63aef6864a


The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/us/politics/russia-facebook-twitter-election.html


18 political ads you may have seen on Facebook that were actually made by Russian trolls
http://www.businessinsider.com/photos-of-fake-russian-facebook-ads-2017-11/#-3


Did you fall for these fake ads? How Russian trolls got into your Facebook feeds
http://www.ajc.com/news/world/did-you-fall-for-these-fake-ads-how-russian-trolls-got-into-your-facebook-feeds/q1BxFh6iIfIb0SgxAutKcP/


Russian fake accounts showed posts to 126 million Facebook users
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2017/10/30/russian-fake-accounts-showed-posts-126-million-facebook-users/815342001/

Yes, You Really Can Pay for Private School With 529 Plans Now



By RON LIEBER DEC. 21, 2017

Just last month, it was not certain that the Senate would go along with the House of Representatives’ proposal to let families use 529 college savings plans to pay for private school from elementary school onward. In a bill that offered many perks for the wealthy, the 529 provision was a particularly brazen giveaway.

After all, it’s mostly wealthier people who can save enough to reap large benefits from the provision, which allows $10,000 in annual tax-free 529 account withdrawals for pre-college students starting in 2018.

But it really did happen, and on Friday, President Trump signed the bill that makes it the law of the land.

•••••

With 529 plans, you put money in, let it grow for years in mutual funds and then pull it out to use for higher education expenses. When you do, you don’t pay capital gains taxes on what you’ve earned over time.
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Other 529 tax breaks exist, too. It is states, not the federal government, that actually administer the plans, and 35 of them offer some sort of tax deduction or credit when you deposit money.

•••••

In what we should now refer to as the old days, you might save money for 18 years and then pull the money out over four years while a child completes college. But now, wealthy families can do what’s known as “superfunding” 529 accounts with a pile of money upfront. Then, they can pull out the $10,000 maximum each year to use for elementary and secondary school, until a child starts college.

•••••

Imagine a wealthy family in the highest tax bracket that opens a 529 plan with $200,000 and doesn’t add another cent. The money grows at 6 percent annually, and the family takes out the maximum $10,000 each year, avoiding $2,380 in taxes annually. During the elementary and secondary school years, it saves $30,940 in taxes.

At that point, the account would still have money left over. A lot of money: $370,717. And once the beneficiary of the 529 account enters college, the family can withdraw as much as the entire annual cost of college and related expenses (not just $10,000) each year, avoiding even more capital gains taxes over that period.

•••••

Incomes Grew After Past Tax Cuts, but Guess Whose



Eduardo Porter
DEC. 26, 2017

Home for the holidays after passing the eighth-largest tax cut in United States history, Republicans could be forgiven for reveling in the warm embrace of nostalgia.

•••••

Reagan’s cuts didn’t quite work as advertised.

Gross domestic product grew quickly during his two terms, averaging about 3.5 percent a year, pretty decent compared with the current measly pace. For one in two Americans, though — those in the bottom half of the income pile — income actually shrank on Reagan’s watch. In 1980, the year he was elected, they earned $16,371 a year on average, in today’s dollars, according to the World Wealth and Income Database. By 1988, Reagan’s last year in office, they had to make do with $16,268.

•••••

The sliver of America that did get ahead was, you guessed it, the one at the tippy top: the richest Americans, those in the highest 1 percent of the income distribution. Their earnings grew by about 6 percent a year.

•••••

President George W. Bush passed two rounds of tax cuts, in 2001 and 2003, arguing that the United States had a budget surplus “because taxes are too high and government is charging more than it needs.”

•••••

And yet, during Mr. Bush’s two terms, the average income of the bottom half of Americans slid from $17,827 to $17,473, accounting for inflation. After factoring in taxes and transfers, that sum did increase — 3.5 percent, or about 0.4 percent a year.

The bottom half of Americans fared better under President Bill Clinton, who actually raised taxes. On average, their incomes rose by a fifth over his two terms, after taxes and transfers, a gain of over 2 percent per year, after accounting for inflation. Their lot also improved during President Barack Obama’s administration, census data shows.

•••••

The average tax rate for Americans in the bottom half of the income pile was higher in 2014 than it was in 1980. The rate at the top declined.

•••••

Links



Price of 40-year-old cancer drug hiked 1,400% by new owners
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cancer-drug-lomustine-price-hiked-1400-percent-by-new-owners/?ftag=COS-05-10aaa0h&utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_content=5a43375c00bd470007a8a276&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook


Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton Retain Most Admired Titles
The 2017 survey marks the 16th consecutive year Clinton has been the most admired woman. She has held the title 22 times in total, more than anyone else.
http://news.gallup.com/poll/224672/barack-obama-hillary-clinton-retain-admired-titles.aspx

The world’s 500 wealthiest people got $1 trillion richer in 2017
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/12/27/the-worlds-500-wealthiest-people-got-1-trillion-richer-in-2017/?utm_term=.02b6182fc1c0


A Christmas storm has dumped a record amount of snow on Erie, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas, burying homes, cars and gardens under as much as 1.3m (53in) of snow.
[Global warming has caused an increase in moisture in the air, leading to an increase in extreme rain and snow events.
If you vote for republicans, this is what you chose.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/27/this-is-insane-erie-pennsylvania-buried-under-13m-of-snow

]

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Links



Heard this on the radio today. shortly after, they had a piece on a Christmas movie, in which the commenter said approvingly that it taught we should never give up a belief.
This is pernicious, we should definitely give up beliefs that are untrue, certainly if they lead to harmful actions.
Bangladesh activist arrested on ‘anti-Islam’ charges
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1214651/world


A key chapter of the US Global Change Research Program Report deals with how the oceans are being impacted by human carbon pollution
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/dec/26/us-government-climate-report-looks-at-how-the-oceans-are-buffering-climate-change


"You all just got a lot richer," Trump tells friends, referencing tax overhaul
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-mar-a-lago-christmas-trip/


The healing, and persistent, power of kindness
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-healing-and-persistent-power-of-kindness/


As a teacher, what is the most ridiculous thing that you have to deal with from parents who think that their child is 'a perfect angel'? How did you deal with it?
“WHAT DID I DO?!!!! Gave up teaching kids.”
[I have a couple of friends who quit teaching for this reason. One decided not to teach after her student teaching. One quit after a year. The other lasted a few years.]
https://www.quora.com/As-a-teacher-what-is-the-most-ridiculous-thing-that-you-have-to-deal-with-from-parents-who-think-that-their-child-is-a-perfect-angel-How-did-you-deal-with-it/answer/Polly-Smith-1


A New Yorker's view of Trump
https://www.quora.com/Why-are-99-of-the-answers-about-Donald-Trump-negative-Considering-hes-not-a-career-politician-why-not-give-him-a-chance/answer/Rose-Molloy


The problem with voter id laws
https://www.quora.com/Why-are-voter-ID-laws-so-controversial-Assuming-that-state-issued-photo-IDs-are-made-easy-to-procure-then-whats-the-problem/answer/Christopher-Valdez-8
https://www.quora.com/Why-are-voter-ID-laws-so-controversial-Assuming-that-state-issued-photo-IDs-are-made-easy-to-procure-then-whats-the-problem/answer/C-R-Swanson

Why gay marriage is important
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-biggest-ethical-dilemma-you-have-faced-as-a-nurse/answer/Laura-Skinner-6


Someone on Quora posted a link to this to calculate your taxes under the new tax bill. The page also has a link to a 2017 calculator. I don't know if it is accurate.
https://www.calcxml.com/calculators/trump-tax-reform-calculator


Groupthink
http://www.psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/groupthink%20overview.htm


Amazon and Microsoft employees caught up in sex trafficking sting, also companies like Boeing, T-Mobile, Oracle and local Seattle tech firms.
https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/25/amazon-microsoft-employees-sex-trafficking-sting/

Monday, December 25, 2017

Philadelphia infant mauled by raccoon to get new home after outpouring of donations, family says

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/12/25/philadelphia-infant-mauled-by-raccoon-to-get-new-home-after-outpouring-donations-family-says.html

By Katherine Lam

A four-month-old infant who was viciously mauled and dragged by a raccoon last week in a Philadelphia apartment will get a new “safe and secure” home to live in after she leaves the hospital — thanks to an outpouring of donations, the baby’s uncle said.

Journi Black was sleeping in her bed last Wednesday when a raccoon managed to get into the home, drag the infant out of bed and attack her. Journi’s uncle, Kenneth McDuffie, told Philly.com on Christmas Eve that the overwhelming amount of donations to the infant’s GoFundMe page during Christmastime ensured the family could get a safe and secure home to prevent another incident.

•••••

The baby was rushed to the hospital where she received 65 stitches in her face. Doctors said the baby’s recovery could take up to a year.

Rodgers moved her children to the one-room apartment a few days before the vicious attack. Tenants in the building have previously complained about a raccoon infestation. Rodgers said the apartment, which cost $375 a month for rent, was all she could afford for her family.

•••••

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Links



Running away from addiction: How exercise aids smoking cessation
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/w-raf121817.php


Smoking cessation drug may increase risk of adverse cardiovascular event
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/ats-scd121917.php


Two studies find stress reprograms cells
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/cwru-tsf122017.php


Individuals in the US diagnosed with cancer are 2.7 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than individuals without cancer
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/rp-ssh122017.php


Diet rich in apples and tomatoes may help repair lungs of ex-smokers, study suggests
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/jhub-dri121817.php


Acid reflux associated with head and neck cancers in older adults
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/jn-ara121917.php


Shutdown of coal-fired power plant results in significant fetal health improvement in downwind areas
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/lu-soc122117.php


Short-term exercise equals big-time brain boost
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/uowo-see122117.php


Deep brain stimulation linked to longer survival for Parkinson's patients
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/varc-dbs122117.php


Researchers recommend specific diets for preventing colorectal cancer in high-risk groups
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/cndi-rrs122117.php


Singing in groups could make you happier
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/uoea-hsy122117.php


Research from the University of Adelaide suggests that taking folic acid in late pregnancy may increase the risk of allergies in children affected by growth restriction during pregnancy.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/uoa-fal122117.php


Analysis of new studies including 250,000 people confirms sugar-sweetened drinks are linked to overweight and obesity in children and adults
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-12/eaft-aon122117.php


Chance of colon cancer recurrence nearly cut in half in people who eat tree nuts
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-05/asoc-co051717.php

New York's vanishing shops and storefronts: 'It's not Amazon, it's rent'


A few years ago, the Barnes & Noble closest to me closed. There weren't planning it, but the landlord raised the cost of the lease, and the couldn't afford the increase. The space has been vacant most of the time since then.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/24/new-york-retail-shops-amazon-rent

Edward Helmore in New York
Sun 24 Dec ‘17 04.00 EST

•••••

Over the past several years, thousands of small retailers have closed, replaced by national chains. When they, too, fail, the stores lie vacant, and landlords, often institutional investors, are unwilling to drop rents.

A recent survey by New York councilmember Helen Rosenthal found 12% of stores on one stretch of the Upper West Side is unoccupied and ‘for lease’. The picture is repeated nationally. In October, the US surpassed the previous record for store closings, set after the 2008 financial crisis.

The common refrain is that the devastation is the product of a profound shift in consumption to online, with Amazon frequently identified as the leading culprit. But this is maybe an over-simplification.

“It’s not Amazon, it’s rent,” says Jeremiah Moss, author of the website and book Vanishing New York. “Over the decades, small businesses weathered the New York of the 70s with it near-bankruptcy and high crime. Businesses could survive the internet, but they need a reasonable rent to do that.”

Part of the problem is the changing make-up of New York landlords. Many are no longer mom-and-pop operations, but institutional investors and hedge funds that are unwilling to drop rents to match retail conditions. “They are running small businesses out of the city and replacing them with chain stores and temporary luxury businesses,” says Moss.

In addition, he says, banks will devalue a property if it’s occupied by a small business, and increase it for a chain store. “There’s benefit to waiting for chain stores. If you are a hedge fund manager running a portfolio you leave it empty and take a write-off.”

•••••

Like Moss, Zendell believes it’s too simplistic to blame Amazon. The same signals of over-pricing are seen in every area of real estate, including housing. “When you see [that] every corner has a bank or a pharmacy, and there is a gym on the second floor, there’s a simple reason for that: people can’t afford the rent.

•••••

The incredible true story of when WWI stopped for enemy armies to celebrate Christmas together


I suggest reading the whole article at the following link. Very moving. Gives hope for the human species.

http://www.businessinsider.com/christmas-truce-1914-world-war-i-2017-12

Ben Brimelow
Dec. 24, 2017

World War I is, for good reason, remembered as one of the worst wars fought in human history.

Millions of soldiers and civilians died in a conflict that changed the way war was waged and set the stage for the rest of the 20th century.

But for one night and one day, some units in the warring parties — the armies of France and Britain on one side, and Germany on the other — put down their weapons for the briefest of moments to celebrate a holiday that brought opposing sides together.

•••••

Huddled in their trenches on Christmas Eve, soldiers on both sides across the entire Western frontline celebrated the holiday as best as they could. Soon, all along the frontline combatants began to leave their trenches without their weapons, and meet enemy soldiers in no man's land.

What followed was an amazing episode for humanity; enemies who were just hours ago slaughtering each other at a level unseen in human history, were talking, singing, dancing, and eating together as if they were friends.

•••••

Perhaps the best way to sum up the truce was said by a British soldier whose letter to the Carlisle Journal was published on January 5, 1915:

"All this talk of hate, all this firing at each other that has raged since the beginning of the war quelled and stayed by the magic of Christmas," he wrote. "It is a great hope for future peace when two great nations hating each other as foes have seldom hated, one side vowing eternal hate and vengeance and setting their venom to music, should on Christmas day and for all that the word implies, lay down their arms, exchange smokes and wish each other happiness."

•••••

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

John McCutcheon wrote the song "Christmas in the Trenches" about this.




Higher Birth Weight, Lower Risk Of Premature Births After Coal Power Plant Shut Down

https://cleantechnica.com/2017/12/22/higher-birth-weight-lower-risk-premature-births-coal-power-plant-shut/

December 22nd, 2017 by Steve Hanley

For decades, the Portland Generating Station, located in Pennsylvania close to the New Jersey border, spewed an average of 2,600 tons of sulfur dioxide each month into the atmosphere. Pennsylvania industry and residents got the benefit of Portland’s electricity. New Jersey residents got to choke on the pollution as it drifted eastward on the prevailing breeze. In 2009, it emitted 30,465 tons of sulfur dioxide — more than double the amount from all electricity generating facilities in New Jersey combined, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

study published in April 2017 by Muzhe Yang, associate professor of economics and Shin-Yi Chou, chair of the Lehigh University department of economics, found the Portland facility had a measurable effect on pregnant women living up to 30 miles downwind. Based on data compiled between 1990 and 2006, the researchers determined that women within the plume of pollution from the Portland facility had a 6.5% greater risk of low birth weight and a 17.12% greater risk of very low birth weight.

The Portland Generating Plant played a critical role in the Clean Power Plan devised by the Obama administration. As a result of litigation brought by the EPA, a court found it was the sole source of pollution in nearby New Jersey and ordered it closed. In June, 2014, the plant was shuttered. By December 2015, sulfur dioxide emissions in nearby New Jersey had dropped by over 99%.

Yang and Chou repeated their study after the shutdown. Their findings, published this week online in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management and reported by Lehigh University, show that shutting down the plant reduced the likelihood of a low birth weight baby by 0.89 percentage points or about 15% and reduced the likelihood of a preterm birth by 2.83 percentage points or about 28%. The findings are based on medical data from New Jersey zip codes within 60 miles of the plant.

•••••

Friday, December 22, 2017

Links



New Facebook tool tells users if they've liked or followed Russia's 'troll army'
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/22/facebook-tool-russia-troll-army-internet-research-agency
https://www.facebook.com/help/817246628445509?helpref=faq_content

Income and wealth inequality make recessions worse, research reveals
https://phys.org/news/2016-08-income-wealth-inequality-recessions-worse.html


After accounting for macroeconomic effects, the tax bill would reduce federal revenue by $1.07 trillion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).
http://thehill.com/policy/finance/366235-jct-new-tax-law-wont-pay-for-itself


Trump signs tax bill before leaving for Mar-a-Lago
http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/22/politics/trump-sign-tax-bill-mar-a-lago/index.html
"I was going to wait for a formal signing some time in early January, but then I watched the news this morning and they were all saying, 'Will he keep his promise, will he sign it by Christmas?'" Trump said. "And I called downstairs and said get it ready, we have to sign it now."


Men's Wearhouse Founder: GOP Tax Bill Is A Giveaway To Millionaires Like Me
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-gop-tax-bill-is-a-giveaway-to-millionaires-like-me_us_5a39286ae4b0c65287ac6098

Links



Trump is chummy with leaders who oppress and murder their people, but he wants to withhold money for countries who express disagreement with his attempt to foster violence by claiming Jerusalem as capital of Israel. If he had been born poor, I believe he would have been a mob boss.


NPR just announced on the radio that the CDC says they didn't ban the seven words that were reported by the Washington Post, and that there would be a report later in the day. They repeated this twice. No mention of nuances in their own on-line report.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/20/572242449/as-cdc-denies-banning-words-hrc-projects-disputed-terms-on-trumps-d-c-hotel

"But Fitzgerald did not deny that some staff may have been instructed to avoid certain language in key budget documents."

Jim Clapper Just Nuked the Trump Presidency
http://observer.com/2017/12/james-clapper-tells-cnn-donald-trump-is-vladimir-putins-kremlin-asset/


Wall Street Journal Killed Editorial on Trump’s Mob Ties
http://amp.nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/wall-street-journal-killed-editorial-on-trumps-mob-ties.html?__twitter_impression=true


Trump halts funding for offshore drilling safety study
http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/366092-trump-administration-halts-funding-for-offshore-drilling-safety


Sessions rescinds Obama-era letter to local courts on fines and fees for poor defendants
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/366127-sessions-rescinds-obama-era-letter-to-local-courts-on-fines-and-fees

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Links



End of an era: Boeing 747 takes last US commercial flight
https://www.yahoo.com/news/end-era-boeing-747-takes-last-us-commercial-022140957.html


Alabama to freeze enrollment in children's health program in two weeks
http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/365436-alabama-to-freeze-enrollment-in-childrens-health-program-in-two-weeks


Allergic to eggs? You can now get the flu shot, new guidelines say
http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/health/flu-vaccine-egg-allergy-study/index.html


Amtrak derailment spotlights delay in train safety upgrades
PTC was originally supposed to be in place nationwide two years ago, but lawmakers pushed back the deadline at the urging of industry groups.
[The republican Congress, protecting our freedom from regulation.]
thehill.com/policy/transportation/365637-amtrak-derailment-spotlights-delay-in-train-safety-upgrades

================================
The Trump administration directed the CDC to consider community standards to modify scientific evidence. Tut they have stopped allowing Democratic Senators to veto the appointment of lifetime judges to their state.

republicans used this to do massive blocking of President Obama's judicial appointments. But they do not stick to the bargain. Typical republicans.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/11/20/the-senate-just-made-it-a-lot-easier-for-trump-to-appoint-federal-judges-over-democrats-objections/?utm_term=.a642615d6286
==================================

Inequality and Consumption
http://www.morganstanleyfa.com/public/projectfiles/02386f9f-409c-4cc9-bc6b-13574637ec1d.pdf


Donald Trump threatens to cut aid to countries over UN Jerusalem vote
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/20/donald-trump-threat-cut-aid-un-jerusalem-vote


The Texas boys were beaten, abused, raped. Now all they want is an apology
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/20/texas-cal-farleys-boys-ranch-stories


Global Warming causing Ocean Deoxygenation
http://www.oceanscientists.org/index.php/topics/ocean-deoxygenation



Court of Appeals Sides With Songwriters, Publishers on Fractionalized Licensing
https://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/record-labels/8071057/court-of-appeals-sides-with-songwriters-publishers-on


Scientists just presented a sweeping new estimate of how much humans have transformed the planet
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/12/20/scientists-present-a-sweeping-new-estimate-of-how-much-humans-have-altered-the-planet/


An ‘E! News’ anchor found out she earns half what her male co-host makes. So she quit.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/12/20/an-e-anchor-found-out-she-earns-half-what-her-male-co-host-makes-so-she-quit/?utm_term=.68ec357412dc


Nearly 2 million children will lose health coverage starting next month if Congress doesn’t renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by Friday, a new report projecvts.
https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/2-million-kids-will-lose-chip-coverage-right-away-report-n831606


Why we shouldn't mess too much with the moon.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/science/winter-solstice-december-21.html
Nor does Earth’s tilt change drastically over millions of years, thanks to the influence of the moon.


Eat your vegetables: Nutrients in leafy greens may help prevent dementia
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/eat-vegetables-nutrients-leafy-greens-prevent-dementia/story?id=51904727


Chocolate poisoning risk to dogs at Christmas
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42426757


Nuclear regulator downplays safety warnings
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/nuclear-regulator-downplays-safety-warnings-51903201

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

November 2017: A Top-Five Warmest November Globally

https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/november-2017-earths-5th-warmest-november-record

Dr. Jeff Masters · December 18, 2017, 11:33 AM EST

November 2017 was Earth's fifth warmest November since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Monday. NOAA rated the five warmest Novembers since 1880 as being 2015, 2013, 2010, 2004, and 2017 (tied with 2016.) NASA rated November 2017 as the planet’s third warmest November on record, with the only warmer Novembers coming in 2015 and 2016. Minor differences can occur between the NASA and NOAA rankings because of their different techniques for analyzing data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.

Global ocean temperatures last month were the fourth warmest on record for any November, according to NOAA, and global land temperatures were the ninth warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the second or third warmest for any November in the 39-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), respectively.

•••••

Each of the first eleven months of 2017 have ranked among the top five warmest such months on record, giving 2017 the third highest January–November temperature in the 138-year record: 0.84°C (1.51°F) above the 20th-century average.

•••••

The latest Trump propaganda segments running on local news, courtesy of Sinclair Broadcast Group


Note that the Trump brothers provided funding for a takeover of Time magazine

https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/12/18/latest-trump-propaganda-segments-running-local-news-courtesy-sinclair-broadcast-group/218877

December 18, 2017 9:30 AM EST ››› PAM VOGEL

As it closes in on a significant expansion into major cities and battleground states across the country, conservative local news behemoth Sinclair Broadcast Group has gone into overdrive with its pro-Trump and anti-media propaganda.

Sinclair is known for its history of injecting right-wing spin into local newscasts, most notably with its nationally produced “must-run” commentary segments. The segments, which all Sinclair-owned and operated news stations are required to air, have included (sometimes embarrassing) pro-Trump propaganda missives from former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn since the spring.

•••••

As it stands, Sinclair is broadcasting segments like these on stations across 34 states and the District of Columbia, particularly in local media markets for suburbs and mid-sized cities from Maine to California -- and they could be coming to a station near you.

The local news giant is now awaiting approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice of its acquisition of Tribune Media, which would allow Sinclair to further spread its propaganda in the country’s top media markets, reaching nearly three-quarters of U.S. households. If this week’s deeply unpopular move to repeal net neutrality rules is any indication of the five FCC commissioners’ adherence to party lines, the FCC seal of approval for this deal is pretty much a sure thing thanks to its current Republican majority.

•••••

Reardon to Congress: Tax Reform Demands IRS Funding


What we can expect:
Your tax refund takes a long time to come back.
It takes you even longer to get an alternate pin when someone steals your id.
It's even harder to get help from the IRS help line.

https://www.nteu.org/media-center/news-releases/2017/12/15/irs-funding-letter

As legislation overhauling the tax code nears completion, Congress should be increasing – not cutting – the Internal Revenue Service budget, National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon wrote in a new letter sent to Capitol Hill.

“The civil servants of the IRS stand ready to implement tax reform legislation and to assist taxpayers, businesses, and the professional tax community, but it is incumbent upon Congress to provide the IRS with the resources necessary to implement any proposed changes to the tax code, to deliver a successful 2018 filing season, and to carry out their core taxpayer service and enforcement mission,” Reardon wrote in a letter delivered Friday to every House member and Senator.

If tax reform is signed into law, the IRS will have to reprogram its computers; develop new regulations and tax forms; educate taxpayers, businesses, and the tax practitioner community so they can understand and comply with new tax laws; respond to what is expected to be a significant increase in taxpayer requests for direct assistance; and train IRS employees. That work is on top of preparations for the upcoming 2018 tax filing season.

•••••

Since 2010, the agency has lost $900 million in funding and now has 21,000 fewer full-time permanent employees. Making matters worse, the House and Senate appropriations bills for 2018 would cut the IRS budget by an additional $155 million and $124 million, respectively.

The IRS is the primary agency responsible for implementing what would be the largest overhaul to the U.S. tax code in 30 years. Last time, in 1986, Congress undertook major tax reform and lawmakers recognized the additional strain on the IRS and increased the agency’s budget in 1987 and 1988 to meet the increased demand from taxpayers and businesses who have to adhere to the changes.

The Failure of Term Limits

http://upf.com/book.asp?id=DEPAL001

Synopsis of book by Kathryn A. DePalo
Foreword by David Colburn and Susan MacManus

•••••

In 1992, Florida voters approved an amendment to the state's Constitution creating eight-year term limits for legislators--making Florida the second-largest state to implement such a law. Eight years later, sixty-eight term-limited senators and representatives were forced to retire, and the state saw the highest number of freshman legislators since the first legislative session in 1845.

Proponents view term limits as part of a battle against the rising political class and argue that limits will foster a more honest and creative body with ideal "citizen" legislators. However, in this comprehensive twenty-year study, the first of its kind to examine the effects of term limits in Florida, Kathryn DePalo shows nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, these limits created a more powerful governor, legislative staffers, and lobbyists. Because incumbency is now certain, leadership races--especially for Speaker--are sometimes completed before members have even cast a single vote. Furthermore, legislators rarely leave public office; they simply return to local offices where they continue to exert influence.

•••••

http://florida.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.5744/florida/9780813060484.001.0001/upso-9780813060484

•••••

(abstract of the book by Kathryn A. DePalo)

Forced turnover has facilitated more competition but only when a seat initially opens. Term limits have not dramatically increased the number of women and minorities elected to office as proponents envisioned. Politicians elected under term limits are shown to have significant elective experience coming into the Legislature and continue to vie for elected positions when they exit, certainly not the “citizen” legislators proponents preferred. Legislative process knowledge is not the important criteria for leadership selection under term limits; the ability to fundraise and campaign for fellow party members is now the key criterion. The Senate has become the repository of institutional memory and gained an advantage over the less experienced House. The legislative branch is severely weakened under term limits with the governor, staff, and lobbyists filling the void. While term limits remain a popular idea in Florida, the effect on the legislative institution has not been a positive one.

•••••

http://www.gainesville.com/news/20160212/dave-denslow-term-limits-have-failed-florida

Dave Denslow: Term limits have failed Florida
Feb 12, 2016

•••••

how have we fared under term limits? Kathryn DePalo of Florida International University answers that question in her new book "The Failure of Term Limits in Florida." Term limits have given us fewer tested leaders in the House for heading committees and serving as speaker. The Senate fares better, since many members trained in the House. Term limits have also polarized the House, with candidates motivated more by ideology than by public service careers.

•••••

http://askew.fsu.edu/current/masters/actionreport/fa2006/Joe%20Waczewski%20-%20Analysis%20of%20the%20Impact%20of%20Term%20Limits.pdf

The Florida State University
“An Analysis of the Impact of Term Limits on the Florida Legislature”

An Action Report Submitted to the Faculty of the College of Social Science in Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Public Administration
The Florida State University
“An Analysis of the Impact of Term Limits on the Florida Legislature”
By Joe Waczewski
Tallahassee, December, 2006

•••••

While in Florida legislative term limits seem to be a popular and practical concept, they have not been an ideal solution to the problems they were intended to fix: political careerism, ineffectiveness and increased corruption in the legislative process; issues which require profound changes in both campaign finance and electoral systems, not simply “feel good” quick fixes like term limits. Term limits hinder the legislative and political processes in Florida in numerous ways: They do not necessarily curb the political aspirations of politicians; increase the possibility of corruption in the legislative process by interest groups attempting to influence a growing number of new and inexperienced legislators, and accelerate tension in the relationship between the legislative branches, as recent legislative sessions have shown.

•••••

[Details of the results of term limits begin on page 23 of the pdf]

These trends suggest term limits hinder the legislative process in some ways:

1) Term limits do not necessarily curb the political aspirations of politicians ...
2) Term Limits do not necessarily weaken the interest groups-legislators linkage. ...
3) Term limits force legislators to focus more on the power structure of the legislature and less on the needs of their particular district ...

•••••

http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/Truth-Term-Limits.html

by Alan Greenblatt | January 2006

•••••

Steven Rowe is a big proponent of early childhood interventions. He believes they can help reduce rates of mental illness, learning disability and, ultimately, criminal behavior. While serving as speaker of the Maine House six years ago, Rowe translated his ideals into a specific program, sponsoring legislation that expanded child care subsidies, provided tax breaks to businesses offering child care help to their workers and created a statewide home visitation network. ... his package passed by an overwhelming margin. It may have been Rowe's most important accomplishment as a legislator. It was also one of his last. After eight years in the House, including two as speaker, he was forced out of office by the state's term limits law. Rowe is now Maine's attorney general--a good job, but one that doesn't give him much leverage over the program he created. His cosponsors on the child care law aren't in the legislature anymore, either. They have been term-limited out as well.

In the absence of Rowe and his child care allies, funding for the package has already been slashed by a third, with more cuts likely to come. Plenty of programs have lost funding in recent years as Maine, like so many states, has suffered from fiscal shortfalls. But Maine, along with other term limit states, is experiencing an added phenomenon: the orphaned program, vulnerable to reduction or elimination because of the forced retirement of its champions. "We're probably seeing more neglect because legislators aren't there to babysit their own legislation," says Renee Bukovchik Van Vechten, a political scientist at the University of Redlands, in California. "We're seeing laws that need updating, and that's the least sexy part of the job."

•••••

It shouldn't come as a surprise that short-term legislators aren't prone to engage in long-term thinking. It's happening in all 15 of the states where term limits have gone into effect. In Arkansas several years ago, members of the legislature negotiated a solid waste fee to underwrite future environmental cleanups. After they all left office, a new group, not appreciating what the money had been set aside for-- or probably not even knowing--dipped into it, disbursing the funds into a newly favored program of their own.

•••••

almost everyone involved in the legislative process sees governors as big winners under term limits. In addition to their constitutional authority to sign and veto bills, governors in term- limited states control many top-level state jobs that legislators facing short stints will soon want. Whether it is a question of job ambitions, a shortage of information or sheer inexperience, the reality seems to be that legislators do a far less effective job of competing with governors for power once term limits take effect.

•••••

The GOP’s Tax Bill Kicks Puerto Rico When It’s Down



By Jennifer Bendery
Dec. 19,2017

The hits just keep coming for Puerto Rico.

As the U.S. island struggles to climb out of a $70 billion debt crisis and recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, House Republicans voted Wednesday to impose a 12.5 percent tax on intellectual property income made by U.S. companies operating on the island and a minimum 10 percent tax on their profits in Puerto Rico. The Senate passed the bill earlier in the day.

That means that businesses with operations in Puerto Rico will pay higher taxes than their counterparts on the U.S. mainland, which puts industries and jobs on the island at risk.

The provision, tucked into the GOP’s tax reform bill, was intended to stop American companies from dodging federal taxes by shifting their profits overseas. But because the U.S. tax code treats Puerto Rico as a foreign territory, business operations on the island will get hit.

Puerto Rico leaders had urged Republican lawmakers to exempt the island from the provision given its fragile economy. Three months after the hurricane hit, more than 1 million Americans there still don’t have power, more than 250,000 Americans don’t have clean water, and more than 1,000 Americans have died amid the insufficient federal response.

•••••

“Puerto Rico is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis,” she fumed on the House floor. “Let’s be clear: Puerto Ricans are American citizens. They fight in our wars, many of them laying down their lives for our freedoms. Yet this bill continues treating Puerto Rico differently than the rest of the United States.”

Velázquez was particularly critical of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), both of whom visited Puerto Rico after the hurricane hit and vowed to help the island recover.

“They looked the people of Puerto Rico in the eye and made promises to help them,” she said. “This is how you help Puerto Rico?”

•••••

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Links



Facebook to demote posts fishing for Likes
http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/18/technology/facebook-spam-posts/index.html


Even when insurance doesn’t cover dental care, you may be able to curb costs
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/even-when-insurance-doesnt-cover-dental-care-you-may-be-able-to-curb-costs/2017/12/15/d1ee0c18-c4c7-11e7-aae0-cb18a8c29c65_story.html?utm_term=.f29c7c74a25e


Humans torture fish
https://www.quora.com/Which-non-human-animal-would-have-the-biggest-grudge-against-humans/answer/Thomas-Greene-34


Trump will drop climate change from National Security Strategy
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/18/trump-drop-climate-change-national-security-strategy


Africa’s new elite force: women gunning for poachers and fighting for a better life
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/17/poaching-wildlife-africa-conservation-women-barbee-zimbabwe-elephant-rhino


Protecting intellectual property in America is harder than ever
http://thehill.com/opinion/technology/363629-protecting-intellectual-property-in-america-is-harder-than-ever


Oldest fossils ever found show life on Earth began before 3.5 billion years ago
https://phys.org/news/2017-12-oldest-fossils-life-earth-began.html


For Russian ‘Trolls,’ Instagram’s Pictures Can Spread Wider Than Words
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/17/technology/instagram-russian-trolls.html


Lawsuit claims megachurch swindled elderly woman in Ohio
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/megachurch-swindles-elderly-woman-lawsuit-ohio/

Monday, December 18, 2017

Cost of GOP tax plan could exceed $2 trillion


Tax cuts for individuals expire in 8 years, when there is likely to be a Democratic president.

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/365446-analyses-cost-of-gop-tax-plan-could-exceed-2-trillion-if-made-permanent

By Naomi Jagoda - 12/18/17

The GOP tax bill would cost significantly more if tax cuts that are temporary in the legislation are eventually made permanent, according to two new reports.

Most of the bill's changes for individuals sunsets in 2025, even as a cut to the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent is made permanent.

If future Congresses decide to extend the lower tax rates for individuals and families rather than allow them to expire, and also extends other temporary provisions, the bill will end up costing $2 trillion to $2.2 trillion, according to a report by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan deficit hawk group.

Even accounting for economic growth, it predicts the bill would add $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion to the debt — bringing debt levels close to 100 percent of the nation's GDP.

"If expiring provisions are extended and late-stage tax hikes avoided, debt could reach as high as 98 percent or 100 percent of GDP by 2027," the group said. "In other words, the national debt could exceed the size of the economy."

•••••

Rejecting hate, after spending nearly a decade spreading it

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/rejecting-hate-after-spending-nearly-a-decade-spreading-it/

Scott Pelley
Dec. 17, 2017

Terrorism has come to mean Islamic extremism. But the fact is, since 9/11, more than twice as many Americans have been murdered by white supremacists. This threat exploded into view this past August when a protest aimed at a Civil War monument in Charlottesville, Virginia ended with one dead and 19 injured. No one understands the white supremacist movement as well as Christian Picciolini. He knows it because he helped build it. This is the story of an American terrorist -- his long journey to redemption -- and his struggle now to lift others from the depths of hate.

•••••

Scott Pelley: When you first met this man in the alleyway and then the rest of the skinheads in that town, what was it that they were promising you?

Christian Picciolini: They promised me paradise. They promised me that they would take me out of whatever hell I was living in, whether that was abandonment or marginalization and to a degree they delivered. They did give me a new identity. I was now this powerful person. And they gave me a community that accepted me.

That community was a racist gang with its own culture and its own music. That's Picciolini with a song that he wrote called "white power."

Christian Picciolini: The music gave me very specific focus on what was happening to me and it was trying to give me the answers of why that was happening.

Scott Pelley: And what were those answers?

Christian Picciolini: Those answers were that everybody was against me as a white man that I was being intentionally ostracized and that diversity was a code word for white genocide and that if I didn't protect my proud European heritage that we would be wiped out.

•••••

Christian Picciolini: That is me, in 1994, looking very much like somebody who is a terrorist. I am at this point, the leader of an organization of skinheads and the people standing behind me are my soldiers, people that would have done anything for me.

Scott Pelley: And that last picture? Where are you?

Christian Picciolini: I am standing in front of the gates of Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany.

Dachau, where an estimated 41,000 were murdered. Mostly Jews.

Scott Pelley: What are you thinking?

Christian Picciolini: I was thinking that I wanted to burn the world down because I was so angry at it.

The anger led Picciolini to recruit dozens of new members and unleash them on a campaign of assault, vandalism and burglary. The violence reached its peak one night when Picciolini and his 'soldiers' chased a black man out of a restaurant.

Christian Picciolini: We caught that individual and we proceeded to beat him brutally. And at one point when I was kicking him on the ground and his face was swollen, covered in blood, he opened his eyes and they connected with mine. that was the first time I felt empathy for one of my victims. And that was the last time I hurt anybody.

It took years from that moment for Picciolini to turn around. His wife and children left him. He went through five years of depression. But ultimately, he says, his anger began to cool he says as he was confronted by kindness -- blacks and Jews who refused to return the hate.

Christian Picciolini: The truth is, I'd never met or had a meaningful dialogue or engagement with anybody that I thought I hated. And when they took the step to try and reach me, the demonization of them that I had in my head started to crack.

•••••

Christian Picciolini: You know 30 years ago we were skinheads. We wore swastikas and shaved heads, and you could identify us pretty easily. So we decided at that time to grow our hair out, to trade in our boots for suits and we encouraged people to get jobs in law enforcement, to go to the military and get training and to recruit there.

•••••

Scott Pelley: Since 9/11, the country has been focused on radical Islamic terrorism, but what do the facts tell you?

Oren Segal: The data tells us this, 74% of extremist-related killings in this country in the last ten years have been carried out by right-wing extremists, not Islamic extremists.

Scott Pelley: Including white supremacists.

Oren Segal: Yes. So white supremacists, in particular, have been responsible for a majority of the killings, even in the last ten years.

•••••

Christian Picciolini: And it's these types of things that appeal to young people who, frankly, are living in an environment right now where it's tough to find something to believe in.

Today, Picciolini is trying to give white supremacists something else to believe in. He says he's counseled 200 members of the movement.

He's sought out by parents and courts. In Chicago, a man who broke windows and painted swastikas on a synagogue was sentenced to a year of counseling with Picciolini.

Dean Chabot is another neo-Nazi who followed Picciolini out of white supremacy.

•••••

Scott Pelley: When you first sit down with one of these young men you're trying to turn around, what do you say to him?

Christian Picciolini: I'm there to listen because they're used to people not listening to them.

•••••

Christian Picciolini: I think my biggest regret, aside from the people that I physically hurt, were all the young, promising people who could have had a normal, great life if I hadn't stepped in their way, if I hadn't recruited them. There are many that went to prison, many that ended up dead. And that's my biggest regret.

Scott Pelley: Do you fear for your safety?

Christian Picciolini: I receive death threats-- on a daily basis. But the way I look at it is, for eight years of my life in my youth I was willing to die for something that was wrong. So if I wasn't doing what I was doing to try and help pull people out of this movement, I don't know that I'd be able to live with myself.