Saturday, April 29, 2017

EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/28/epa-website-removes-climate-science-site-from-public-view-after-two-decades/?utm_term=.6647e1053f74

By Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin April 29 at 8:28 AM

EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades

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The change was approved by Pruitt, according to an individual familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, to avoid a conflict between the site’s content and the policies the administration is now pursuing.

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Yet the website overhaul appears to include not only policy-related changes but also scrutiny of a scientific Web page that has existed for nearly two decades, and that explained what climate change is and how it worked.

The EPA’s extensive climate change website now redirects to a page that says “this page is being updated” and that “we are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.” It also links to a full archive of how the page used to look on Jan. 19, before Trump’s inauguration.

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The page contains scientific explanations of climate change and its causes and consequences, and has existed in one form or another since at least 1997. At that time it was called the agency’s Global Warming site.

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However, the site has run into political headwinds before. Under President George W. Bush, updates to the site were frozen and then required to undergo White House review. However, this process did not lead to substantive changes in scientific content.

“The EPA’s climate site includes important summaries of climate science and indicators that clearly and unmistakably explain and document the impacts we are having on our planet,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, in response to the website change.

“It’s hard to understand why facts require revision,” she continued.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Female Dragonflies Fake Death to Avoid Males Harassing Them for Sex


http://www.newsweek.com/female-dragon-flies-fake-death-avoid-sex-evolution-591494

By Hannah Osborne On 4/28/17

In order to avoid males of the species bothering them for sex, female dragonflies fake their own deaths, falling from the sky and lying motionless on the ground until the suitor goes away.

A study by Rassim Khelifa, a zoologist from the University of Zurich is the first time scientists have seen odonates feign death as a tactic to avoid mating, and a rare instance of animals faking their own deaths for this purpose. Odonates is the order of carnivorous insects that includes dragonflies and damselflies.

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Khelifa notes there are few instances of animals faking their own deaths, with four others known to science. These include two species of robber fly, the European mantis and the spider species Pisaura mirabilis, where the males fake death in order to avoid being killed after mating. One study describes the females of another species of dragonfly lying motionless—but researchers did not suggest it was faking death.

Over the next few months, Khelifa documented dozens of cases where females would crash land and play dead while being pursued by a male. He also looked at the reproductive behaviour of A. juncea to try to work out why females would do this.

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Even though it is a risky strategy, faking death appears to help females survive longer and produce more offspring by avoiding coercion.

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Can yoga reduce symptoms of menstrual disorders?

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/mali-cyr042717.php

Public Release: 27-Apr-2017
Can yoga reduce symptoms of menstrual disorders?
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

A systematic review of the published literature on yoga practice and common menstrual disorders found that all of the studies evaluated reported a beneficial effect and reduced symptoms.

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Enhanced mood, reduced pain, increased wellbeing, and a heightened relaxation response were among the improved outcomes reported by women who participated in a yoga intervention, as reported in the article entitled "The Effect of Yoga on Menstrual Disorders: A Systematic Review."

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Study shows link between maternal marijuana use and low birth weight

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/lhri-ssl042717.php

Public Release: 27-Apr-2017
Study shows link between maternal marijuana use and low birth weight
Women who used marijuana while pregnant were almost three times more likely to have an infant with low birth weight
Lawson Health Research Institute

In a new study, researchers in London, Ontario found that women who used marijuana while pregnant were almost three times more likely to have an infant with low birth weight than women who did not use marijuana.

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Maternal amphetamine use, chronic hypertension and smoking were identified as other top risk factors for low birth weight. The study also examined predictors of preterm birth, which included previously diagnosed diabetes, maternal narcotic use and insulin-controlled gestational diabetes.

"Low birth weight and preterm birth are serious public health problems. Both are associated with a higher risk of infant mortality," says principal investigator Dr. Jamie Seabrook, a Lawson associate scientist; and professor at Brescia University College, an affiliate of Western University, and Western University's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Low birth weight can lead to respiratory problems and asthma, and poor cognitive development during childhood. It also increases an infant's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease later in life. Preterm birth can cause childhood neurologic disability, as well as long-term medical consequences including respiratory, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases and decreased immunity.

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The objective of the study was to determine the relationship between socioeconomic status and adverse birth outcomes, particularly low birth weight and preterm birth, in Southwestern Ontario.

However, they found that socioeconomic status had little influence on birth outcomes.

"There is a widely-held view that socioeconomic status is highly associated with low birth weight and preterm birth. However, there have been few population-based studies investigating this relationship in Canada. Most of this research has come from other developed countries, particularly the United States," says Dr. Seabrook, who is also a Faculty Associate at Western's Human Environments Analysis Laboratory. "It's possible that Canada's universal health care system provides a larger safety net for these mothers and their children."

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tags: drug use, drug abuse

The upside of worrying

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/uoc--tuo042717.php

Public Release: 27-Apr-2017
The upside of worrying
New study by UC Riverside psychology professor shows there's a positive side to worrying
University of California - Riverside

Worry - it does a body good. And, the mind as well. A new paper by Kate Sweeny, psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, argues there's an upside to worrying.

"Despite its negative reputation, not all worry is destructive or even futile," Sweeny said. "It has motivational benefits, and it acts as an emotional buffer."

In her latest article, "The Surprising Upsides of Worry," published in Social and Personality Psychology Compass, Sweeny breaks down the role of worry in motivating preventive and protective behavior, and how it leads people to avoid unpleasant events. Sweeny finds worry is associated with recovery from traumatic events, adaptive preparation and planning, recovery from depression, and partaking in activities that promote health, and prevent illness. Furthermore, people who report greater worry may perform better -- in school or at the workplace -- seek more information in response to stressful events, and engage in more successful problem solving.

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"Interestingly enough, there are examples of a more nuanced relationship between worry and preventive behavior as well," Sweeny said. "Women who reported moderate amounts of worry, compared to women reporting relatively low or high levels of worry, are more likely to get screened for cancer. It seems that both too much and too little worry can interfere with motivation, but the right amount of worry can motivate without paralyzing."

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Legal marijuana stores lead to increases in property crime

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/osu-lms042717.php

Public Release: 27-Apr-2017
Legal marijuana stores lead to increases in property crime
Crime hits nearby neighborhoods -- not area around the outlets
Ohio State University

Legal marijuana shops are linked to higher levels of property crime in nearby areas, according to a nearly three-year study in Denver.

Researchers found that crime isn't higher in the area immediately surrounding marijuana outlets. But adjacent areas saw about 84 more property crimes per year than neighborhoods without a nearby marijuana store.

In Denver, no significant increase in violent crime was seen as a result of marijuana sales.

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Putting this risk in context, marijuana outlets led to similar levels of property crime as bars, liquor stores and restaurants that serve alcohol, data from the study suggests. And businesses that sold alcohol led to much more violent crime than marijuana outlets.

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tags: drug use, drug abuse

Staking self-worth on the pursuit of money has negative psychological consequences

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/uab-sso042717.php

Public Release: 27-Apr-2017
Staking self-worth on the pursuit of money has negative psychological consequences
University at Buffalo

Although people living in consumer-based cultures such as the U.S. often believe that they will be happier if they acquire more money, the findings of a newly published paper by a University at Buffalo research team suggest that there may be downsides to this pursuit.

The pursuit of money in and of itself is not bad, but there are risks to consider when it is fueled by a desire to boost self-esteem. When people tie their self-worth to the pursuit of financial success, they are more vulnerable to negative psychological consequences, according to Lora Park, an associate professor of psychology at UB and the study's lead author.

Specifically, basing self-esteem on financial success predicted making more financially-based social comparisons with others, feeling less autonomy and control over one's life, and experiencing more financial hassles, stress and anxiety. These findings were evident even after accounting for other variables, such as financial status, materialistic values and importance of financial goals.

"People don't often think of the possible down sides of wrapping their identity and self-worth around financial pursuits, because our society values wealth as a model of how one should be in the world," says Park. "It's important to realize these costs because people are gravitating toward this domain as a source of self-esteem without realizing that it has these unintended consequences."

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"When we asked people to write about a financial stressor, they experienced a drop in their feelings of autonomy," says Park. "They also showed more disengagement from their financial problems - they gave up searching for solutions. We didn't find this in people who didn't tie their self-esteem to financial success or among those who were asked to write about an academic stressor."

In those essays, the researchers also coded the type of language participants used to describe their financial problems.

"We found that people who highly based their self-worth on financial success used more negative emotion-related words, like sadness and anger," says Park. "This demonstrates that just thinking about a financial problem generates a lot of stress and negative emotions for these individuals."

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A little support from their online friends calms test-anxious students

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/uoia-als042717.php

Public Release: 27-Apr-2017
A little support from their online friends calms test-anxious students
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Reading supportive comments, "likes" and private messages from social media friends prior to taking a test may help college students who have high levels of test-anxiety significantly reduce their nervousness and improve their scores, a new study suggests.

Undergraduate students with high levels of test anxiety who sought social support from their online friends and read the messages prior to a simulated exam reduced their anxiety levels by 21 percent, researchers at the University of Illinois found.

These students, and peers who performed a seven-minute expressive-writing exercise, were able to perform as well on a set of computer programming exercises as students who had low levels of test anxiety, said lead author Robert Deloatch, a graduate student in computer science at the university.

Up to 41 percent of students are estimated to suffer from test anxiety, which is a combination of physiological and emotional responses that occur while preparing for and taking tests.

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Food insecurity can affect your mental health

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/ehs-fic042717.php

Public Release: 27-Apr-2017
Food insecurity can affect your mental health
Large worldwide survey points to link, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Elsevier Health Sciences

Food insecurity (FI) affects nearly 795 million people worldwide. Although a complex phenomenon encompassing food availability, affordability, utilization, and even the social norms that define acceptable ways to acquire food, FI can affect people's health beyond its impact on nutrition. A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine determined that FI was associated with poorer mental health and specific psychosocial stressors across global regions (149 countries), independent of individuals' socioeconomic status.

Nearly one in three individuals (29.2%) globally experience a common mental disorder during their lifetime, such as depression, anxiety, and somatic symptom disorders. FI may be a key contributor to common mental disorders through several different mechanisms. First, by generating uncertainty over the ability to maintain food supplies or to acquire sufficient food in the future, FI can provoke a stress response that may contribute to anxiety and depression. Furthermore, acquiring foods in socially unacceptable ways can induce feelings of alienation, powerlessness, shame, and guilt that are associated with depression. FI may also magnify socioeconomic disparities within households and communities that could increase cultural sensitivities and influence overall mental well-being.

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Senate gives limited resources to Russia election-meddling probe

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-congress-idUSKBN17R05E

By Dustin Volz
April 25, 2017

The Senate's main investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is equipped with a much smaller staff than previous high-profile intelligence and scandal probes in Congress, which could potentially affect its progress, according to sources and a Reuters review of public records.

With only seven staff members initially assigned to the Senate Intelligence Committee's three-month-old investigation, progress has been sluggish and minimal, said two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, who requested anonymity.

A committee aide, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said two more staff members were being added and a few others were involved less formally.

"We need to pick up the pace," Senator Martin Heinrich, a committee Democrat, told Reuters on Monday. "It is incumbent on us to have the resources to do this right and expeditiously, and I think we need additional staff."

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With the House intelligence panel's investigation for weeks stymied by partisan squabbles, the Senate committee's parallel probe had appeared to be the more serious of the two, with Republican Chairman Richard Burr and top Democrat Mark Warner promising a thorough and bipartisan effort.

Burr, a member of Congress since 1995, last month called the Russia probe one of the biggest investigations undertaken in Congress during his tenure.

Previous investigations of national security matters have been much larger in terms of staffing than the one Burr is overseeing, according to a review of official reports produced by those inquiries, which traditionally name every staff member involved.

A House committee formed to investigate the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans had 46 staffers and eight interns.

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Rising carbon dioxide levels, ocean acidity may change crucial marine process



Public Release: 27-Apr-2017
Rising carbon dioxide levels, ocean acidity may change crucial marine process
Florida State University

Climate change may be putting cyanobacteria that are crucial to the functioning of the ocean at risk as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases and the acidity of ocean water changes.

In a paper published Thursday in Science, a team of researchers from Florida State University, Xiamen University in China and Princeton University argue that the acidification of seawater caused by rising carbon dioxide levels makes it difficult for a type of cyanobacteria to perform a process called nitrogen fixation.

Few people know much about a type of cyanobacteria called Trichodesmium, but this miniscule collection of cells is critical to the health of hundreds of species in the Earth's oceans. Through nitrogen fixation, Trichodesmium converts nitrogen gas into ammonia and other molecules that organisms are dependent on for survival.

Trichodesmium is thought to be responsible for about 50 percent of marine nitrogen fixation, so a decline in its ability could have a major ripple effect on marine ecosystems.

"This is one of the major sources of nitrogen for other organisms in the open ocean," said Sven Kranz, assistant professor of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at Florida State University and a co-author of this study. "If Trichodesmium responds negatively to the environmental changes forced upon the ocean by fossil fuel burning, it could have a large effect on our food web."

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Antibiotics counteract the beneficial effect of whole grain

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/au-act042817.php

Public Release: 28-Apr-2017
Antibiotics counteract the beneficial effect of whole grain
Aarhus University

According to recommendations from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, adult Danes should consume at least 75 g whole meal a day. However, it is not only the contents of vitamins, minerals and fibers that make whole grain products such as rye bread and oatmeal healthy.

Several studies have demonstrated an inverse relationship between intake of whole grain and the risk of developing lifestyle diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. This concerns specifically lignans, which are diphenolic compounds found in all grain types. The content of lignans are higher in whole grains than in refined grains. Rye, in particular, has a high content of lignans.

Once ingested, our intestinal bacteria metabolize the plant lignans into enterolignans, which have a chemical structure similar to oestrogen. The structure of enterolignans is the most likely reason why enterolignans have a positive effect in relation to the development of breast cancer.

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Testosterone makes men less likely to question their impulses

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/ciot-tmm042817.php

Public Release: 28-Apr-2017
Testosterone makes men less likely to question their impulses
Sex hormone connected with greater reliance on gut instincts and less self-reflection
California Institute of Technology

Hotheaded, impulsive men who shoot first and ask questions later are a staple of Westerns and 1970s cop films, but new research shows there might be truth to the trope.

A study conducted by researchers from Caltech, the Wharton School, Western University, and ZRT Laboratory tested the hypothesis that higher levels of testosterone increase the tendency in men to rely on their intuitive judgments and reduce cognitive reflection--a decision-making process by which a person stops to consider whether their gut reaction to something makes sense. The researchers found that men given doses of testosterone performed more poorly on a test designed to measure cognitive reflection than a group given a placebo.

The research will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.

"What we found was the testosterone group was quicker to make snap judgments on brain teasers where your initial guess is usually wrong," says Caltech's Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics and T&C Chen Center for Social and Decision Neuroscience Leadership Chair. "The testosterone is either inhibiting the process of mentally checking your work or increasing the intuitive feeling that 'I'm definitely right.'"

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The researchers believe that the phenomenon they've observed can be linked to testosterone's effect of increasing confidence in humans. Testosterone is thought to generally enhance the male drive for social status, and recent studies have shown that confidence enhances status.

"We think it works through confidence enhancement. If you're more confident, you'll feel like you're right and will not have enough self-doubt to correct mistakes," Camerer says.

Camerer says the results of the study raise questions about potential negative effects of the growing testosterone-replacement therapy industry, which is primarily aimed at reversing the decline in sex drive many middle-aged men experience.

"If men want more testosterone to increase sex drive, are there other effects? Do these men become too mentally bold and thinking they know things they don't?"

Bonobos may be better representation of last common ancestor with humans

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/gwu-sbm042817.php

Public Release: 28-Apr-2017
Study: Bonobos may be better representation of last common ancestor with humans
Study examined muscles of bonobos and found they are more closely related to humans than common chimpanzees
George Washington University

A new study examining the muscular system of bonobos provides firsthand evidence that the rare great ape species may be more closely linked, anatomically, to human ancestors than common chimpanzees. Previous research suggested this theory at the molecular level, but this is the first study to compare in detail the anatomy of the three species.

"Bonobo muscles have changed least, which means they are the closest we can get to having a 'living' ancestor," said Bernard Wood, professor of human origins at the GW Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Conspiracy Theorists May Really Just Be Lonely

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/conspiracy-theorists-may-really-just-be-lonely/

People prone to believing in elaborate cover-ups could just be seeking more meaning in life
By Matthew Hutson | SA Mind May 2017 Issue

Conspiracy theorists are often portrayed as nutjobs, but some may just be lonely, recent studies suggest. Separate research has shown that social exclusion creates a feeling of meaninglessness and that the search for meaning leads people to perceive patterns in randomness. A new study in the March issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology connects the dots, reporting that ostracism enhances superstition and belief in conspiracies.

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“People think of conspiracy theorists as these weirdos,” says psychologist Alin Coman of Princeton University, the paper's senior author, but even college students at a prestigious university can harbor these views. Coman adds, “Anybody could become entrenched in that kind of thinking if the right circumstances arise.”

This article was originally published with the title "A Conspiracy of Loneliness"

Vaccination reduces death rates for children

http://thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(16)00027-X/abstract

Effect of vaccination programmes on mortality burden among children and young adults in the Netherlands during the 20th century: a historical analysis
Maarten van Wijhe,
, Scott A McDonald, PhD
, Hester E de Melker, PhD
, Prof Maarten J Postma, PhD
, Prof Jacco Wallinga, PhD
Published: 09 February 2016

Background

In the 20th century, childhood mortality decreased rapidly, and vaccination programmes are frequently suggested as a contributing factor. However, quantification of this contribution is subject to debate or absent. We present historical data from the Netherlands that allow us to quantify the reduction in childhood mortality burden for vaccine-preventable diseases in this period as a function of vaccination coverage.

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Findings

In the prevaccination era, the contribution to mortality burden was fairly constant for diphtheria (1·4%), pertussis (3·8%), and tetanus (0·1%). Around the start of mass vaccinations, these contributions to the mortality burden decreased rapidly to near zero. We noted similar patterns for poliomyelitis, mumps, and rubella. The number of deaths due to measles around the start of vaccination in the Netherlands were too few to detect an accelerated rate of decrease after mass vaccinations were started. We estimate that mass vaccination programmes averted 148 000 years of life lost up to age 20 years (95% prediction interval 110 000–201 000) among children born before 1992. This corresponds to about 9000 deaths averted (6000–12 000).

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Ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers just completely trashed the Trump tax plan

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/27/ex-treasury-sec-larry-summers-just-completely-trashed-the-trump-tax-plan.html

Jeff Cox | @JeffCoxCNBCcom
April 27, 2017

President Donald Trump's plan to roll back taxes in the hope that doing so will generate robust economic growth with little impact on debt and deficits is "absurd," former Treasury Secretary and White House economic advisor Larry Summers said.

In fact, Summers added in an interview with CNBC, that had he been asked to present such a plan with the notion that it would pay for itself, he would have refused.

"If I had been asked by the White House to assert a proposition as demonstrably false as the claim that this plan would produce revenue, I would have resigned rather than put the credibility of the department behind a proposition that no one with real experience would believe was true," he said.

Summers served as head of the Treasury during the Bill Clinton administration and as senior economic advisor to President Barack Obama.

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Summers said he was surprised at the apparent lack of thought in a proposal that was presented as a single-page document.

"Most presidential campaigns during the primaries, when they put out a tax plan, they put out more than one page. They put out some analysis, some models, some careful articulation of the proposal and estimate its effects," he said.

"There's none of that coming from the administration, and yet there's this confident statement that it will pay for itself," Summers added. "I don't know how they could possibly know without having done economic work."

Comparing the Trump tax-cut plan to those launched by predecessors including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, Summers said there are arguments on both sides about their net effects.

However, he said, there is "no — no serious read of the evidence to suggest that they came close to paying for themselves by stimulating economic growth."

Summers said sending out the Treasury secretary to make that claim undermines the office.

"I just don't understand what could cause an administration to put its secretary of the Treasury in a position to assert something ... that is generally regarded by economists as absurd," he added.

Still, White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney said Thursday that the Trump administration intended for its initial tax plan to be vague and that assessing its long-term impact is difficult right now.

Tax Cuts Don't Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds

I have started buying The Atlantic at Barnes & Noble to support their reporting which I find informative.



Derek Thompson Sep 16, 2012

Here's a brief economic history of the last quarter-century in taxes and growth.

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush raised taxes, and GDP growth increased over the next five years. In 1993, President Bill Clinton raised the top marginal tax rate, and GDP growth increased over the next five years. In 2001 and 2003, President Bush cut taxes, and we faced a disappointing expansion followed by a Great Recession.

Does this story prove that raising taxes helps GDP? No. Does it prove that cutting taxes hurts GDP? No.

But it does suggest that there is a lot more to an economy than taxes, and that slashing taxes is not a guaranteed way to accelerate economic growth.

That was the conclusion from David Leonhardt's new column today for The New York Times, and it was precisely the finding of a new study from the Congressional Research Service, "Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945."

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Analysis of six decades of data found that top tax rates "have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth." However, the study found that reductions of capital gains taxes and top marginal rate taxes have led to greater income inequality. Past studies cited in the report have suggested that a broad-based tax rate reduction can have "a small to modest, positive effect on economic growth" or "no effect on economic growth."

Well into the 1950s, the top marginal tax rate was above 90%. Today it's 35%. But both real GDP and real per capita GDP were growing more than twice as fast in the 1950s as in the 2000s. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top tenth of a percent fell from about 50% to 25% in the last 60 years, while their share of income increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% before the recession.

Here are two graphs of the top 0.1% and 0.01%. The first shows average tax rates since 1945 -- down, down, down. The second shows share of total income since 1945 -- up, up, up.
[See the link above to see the informative charts.]

Extreme Arctic Melt Is Raising Sea Level Rise Threat

Note that if the shore is gently sloping, this amount of sea rise could result in a much longer horizontal intrusion of the sea onto the land.

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/25042017/arctic-sea-ice-climate-change-global-warming-sea-level-rise-ipcc


Extreme Arctic Melt Is Raising Sea Level Rise Threat; New Estimate Nearly Twice IPCC's
Trajectory of dramatic climate change in the Arctic is locked in through 2050, but what happens after that depends largely on our choices today, report says.
By Sabrina Shankman
Apr 25, 2017

Global sea level rise could happen at nearly twice the rate previously projected by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, even under the best scenario, according to a new report.

By the end of this century, as some glaciers disappear completely, the Arctic's contribution to global sea level rise will reach at least 19 to 25 centimeters, according to the report by the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring Assessment Program (AMAP).

Factoring those numbers into projections about other sources of sea level rise results in a minimum of 52 centimeters (20 inches = 1ft 8in) of sea level rise by 2100 under a best-case scenario and 74 centimeters (29 inches = 2ft 5in) under business as usual. "These estimates are almost double the minimum estimates made by the IPCC in 2013," the authors wrote.

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The reports synthesize the best peer-reviewed science on various Arctic-related issues, with the hope of informing policy decisions. This work is the bread and butter of the Arctic Council, an eight-country, intergovernmental diplomatic body that commissions and directs work on the Arctic but cannot itself make policy.

The findings are not easy to stomach. The authors also write that the Arctic Ocean could be largely ice-free in summer as early as the late 2030s, and that an influx of warmer water could alter climate as far south as the tropics. But they also include a nugget of hope: There is still time to avert some of the worst impacts.

The trajectory of dramatic climate change in the Arctic is locked in through the middle of the century, when the region is expected to see temperatures at least 4 degrees Celsius (more than 7 F) above late 20th century averages. But what happens after that—whether the Arctic's average temperature climbs to 6 degrees C (almost 11 F) above average or rockets to twice that—depends largely on us, the report says.

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The report includes the work of more than 90 scientists from around the world, and was peer-reviewed by 28 experts. It mostly covers the period of 2011-2015, with some observations from 2016 and early 2017.

One of the challenges in creating a comprehensive report about the Arctic, say some of its authors, is the pace of change there. "The problem is things change so quickly," said Walter Meier, a scientist with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory who was an author of the report. The report only includes peer-reviewed work, and the peer review process can take a year or more. "The report is almost out of date before it gets published."

That said, this work reflects the most comprehensive look to date at the science of the changing Arctic and its future.

•••••

Climate change impacts all elements of people's lives in the Arctic, yet their stated concerns are often tied to jobs, food and recognizing some of the economic potential of natural resources.

For instance, in the Barents region, some communities voiced concern about the future of reindeer herding, said Grete Hovelsrud, a social anthropologist from Norway who worked on the report. "The land they use for grazing is being encroached upon by roads, cabins, infrastructure," she said, making it hard to move the herd. Climate change is exacerbating the problem. "The climate is warming, and it may rain in the middle of the winter," she said, causing pastures to ice over. Reindeer can dig through snow to get to grass, but not ice.

In the Alaskan Arctic, loss of sea ice is resulting in larger waves reaching shore, which is increasing coastal erosion and putting communities in peril.

"Many of these communities will be forced to relocate, some in the immediate future, most in the not too distant future," said Larry Hinzman, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who was an author of the report.

And as climate change impacts local ecosystems, it can be harder to hunt and fish for the species these communities rely on—a problem, since many are subsistence hunters. "For these people, serious ecosystem changes immediate impact their ability to obtain food," the report says.

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Informative links


Anger, the good, the bad, and the ugly
http://harpers.org/archive/2017/05/facing-the-furies/

When Getting Angry Makes You Happy
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/when_getting_angry_makes_you_happy

Energy Drinks Worse for Your Heart Than Caffeine Alone
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/energy-drinks-worse-your-heart-caffeine-alone-study-n751686

Workers at Chinese Factory for Ivanka Trump’s Clothing Paid $62 a Week
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/workers-chinese-factory-ivanka-trump-s-clothing-paid-62-week-n751431

Inmate Died After 7 Days Without Water in Milwaukee Jail, Prosecutors Say
http://time.com/4753586/miluakee-inmate-died-jail-dehydration-terrill-thomas/

Poll: Disapproval growing of Paul Ryan, GOP Congress
http://thehill.com/homenews/house/330316-poll-disapproval-growing-of-paul-ryan-gop-congress


Mexico Eliminates Infectious Disease Which Is Leading Cause of Blindness
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/mexico-eliminates-disease-which-leading-cause-blindness-n750306

How Western civilization could collapse

People who study economic history tell us that big economic inequality has consistently lead to big economic recessions and depressions in the past.

I recommend reading the whole article at the following link:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse

By Rachel Nuwer
18 April 2017

The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.

Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change.

•••••

While it’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, mathematics, science and history can provide hints about the prospects of Western societies for long-term continuation.

Safa Motesharrei, a systems scientist at the University of Maryland, uses computer models to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that can lead to local or global sustainability or collapse. According to findings that Motesharrei and his colleagues published in 2014, there are two factors that matter: ecological strain and economic stratification. The ecological category is the more widely understood and recognised path to potential doom, especially in terms of depletion of natural resources such as groundwater, soil, fisheries and forests – all of which could be worsened by climate change.

That economic stratification may lead to collapse on its own, on the other hand, came as more of a surprise to Motesharrei and his colleagues. Under this scenario, elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labour. Eventually, the working population crashes because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough, followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labour. The inequalities we see today both within and between countries already point to such disparities. For example, the top 10% of global income earners are responsible for almost as much total greenhouse gas emissions as the bottom 90% combined. Similarly, about half the world’s population lives on less than $3 per day.

For both scenarios, the models define a carrying capacity – a total population level that a given environment’s resources can sustain over the long term. If the carrying capacity is overshot by too much, collapse becomes inevitable. That fate is avoidable, however. “If we make rational choices to reduce factors such as inequality, explosive population growth, the rate at which we deplete natural resources and the rate of pollution – all perfectly doable things – then we can avoid collapse and stabilise onto a sustainable trajectory,” Motesharrei said. “But we cannot wait forever to make those decisions.”

Unfortunately, some experts believe such tough decisions exceed our political and psychological capabilities. “The world will not rise to the occasion of solving the climate problem during this century, simply because it is more expensive in the short term to solve the problem than it is to just keep acting as usual,” says Jorgen Randers, a professor emeritus of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, and author of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years.

[I sadly agree. We aren't even dealing with antibiotic resistance in time, and we don't have a powerful business group working to block action on it, as has been happening with climate change.
•••••

While we are all in this together, the world’s poorest will feel the effects of collapse first. Indeed, some nations are already serving as canaries in the coal mine for the issues that may eventually pull apart more affluent ones. Syria, for example, enjoyed exceptionally high fertility rates for a time, which fueled rapid population growth. A severe drought in the late 2000s, likely made worse by human-induced climate change, combined with groundwater shortages to cripple agricultural production. That crisis left large numbers of people – especially young men – unemployed, discontent and desperate. Many flooded into urban centres, overwhelming limited resources and services there. Pre-existing ethnic tensions increased, creating fertile grounds for violence and conflict. On top of that, poor governance – including neoliberal policies that eliminated water subsidies in the middle of the drought – tipped the country into civil war in 2011 and sent it careening toward collapse.

•••••

Whether in the US, UK or elsewhere, the more dissatisfied and afraid people become, Homer-Dixon says, the more of a tendency they have to cling to their in-group identity – whether religious, racial or national. Denial, including of the emerging prospect of societal collapse itself, will be widespread, as will rejection of evidence-based fact. If people admit that problems exist at all, they will assign blame for those problems to everyone outside of their in-group, building up resentment. “You’re setting up the psychological and social prerequisites for mass violence,” Homer-Dixon says. When localised violence finally does break out, or another country or group decides to invade, collapse will be difficult to avoid.

•••••

On the other hand, Western societies may not meet with a violent, dramatic end. In some cases, civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper.

•••••

Some of these forecasts and early warning signs should sound familiar, precisely because they are already underway. While Homer-Dixon is not surprised at the world’s recent turn of events – he predicted some of them in his 2006 book – he didn’t expect these developments to occur before the mid-2020s.

Western civilisation is not a lost cause, however. Using reason and science to guide decisions, paired with extraordinary leadership and exceptional goodwill, human society can progress to higher and higher levels of well-being and development, Homer-Dixon says. Even as we weather the coming stresses of climate change, population growth and dropping energy returns, we can maintain our societies and better them. But that requires resisting the very natural urge, when confronted with such overwhelming pressures, to become less cooperative, less generous and less open to reason. “The question is, how can we manage to preserve some kind of humane world as we make our way through these changes?” Homer-Dixon says.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Drugged Driving on Rise, Passes Alcohol Alone in Fatal Crashes

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/drugged-driving-rise-passes-alcohol-alone-fatal-crashes-study-finds-n751681


Drugged Driving on Rise, Passes Alcohol Alone in Fatal Crashes, Study Finds
by Phil Helsel and Miguel Almaguer
April 26, 2017

The number of American drivers killed in car crashes in which drugs were detected has eclipsed those killed in crashes where only alcohol was found, according to a new study released Wednesday.

The report by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a nonprofit funded by alcohol distillers, found drugs of all types — illegal and prescription — were present in 43 percent of fatal crashes in 2015 in which test results were available, compared to around 37 percent who tested positive for alcohol.

•••••

tags: drug use, drug abuse

Paint Shop Owner Juan Carlos Enriquez Took On Trump — and Won. maybe

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/paint-shop-owner-juan-carlos-enriquez-took-trump-won-n747756

by Tracy Connor
April 26, 2017

Florida paint shop owner Juan Carlos Enriquez has what you might call a complicated relationship with Donald Trump.

For three years, he waged a fierce legal battle to get the real-estate mogul to make good on an unpaid bill.

And then in November, he voted for the guy.

"Politics and business are two different things," Enriquez, 52, told NBC News.

Trump, of course, won.

And so did Enriquez.

Two weeks ago, an appeals court ordered Trump's company to pay Enriquez for $32,000 worth of paint used in a golf-resort renovation, plus his legal fees. The total: more than $300,000.

"A lot of people tried to beat this guy. Bush, Cruz, Rubio all lost against him. But we beat him," said Enriquez, one of at least 60 people who have sued Trump and his companies over unpaid bills.

•••••

After the election, Enriquez said, he became more "nervous" about the outcome of the appeal.

"He's got a lot of power," he said of Trump.

And the stakes were high. If he lost, he could have been forced to pay the Trump attorney fees.

"This is a company that just started. Where am I going to get $300,000? I would have gone bankrupt," he said.

On April 12, Enriquez's lawyer called with the good news: the appeals court upheld the judge's order. The attorney who handled the case for Trump, Bruce Rogow, told NBC News there would be no further appeals. The Trump Organization's general counsel, Alan Garten, did not respond to several requests for comment.

Most of the award will go to Vega to cover his fees. Enriquez said he only expects to recoup the original $32,000 plus interest and some money he paid out to cover legal costs.

What he'd like to do with the money is, well, downright Trumpian.

"Hopefully, we'll open another store," he said.

Those plans might have to wait a bit, at least until the check is in the mail.

"I still haven't gotten my money," Enriquez said with a laugh.

Corporate Rate Cuts Are a Poor Way to Help the Economy and Most Workers — and Could Hurt Them

http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/corporate-rate-cuts-are-a-poor-way-to-help-the-economy-and-most-workers-and

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities


•••••

Little suggests that the current corporate tax — or poor corporate profitability — is a major constraint on the U.S. economy or U.S. corporations’ “competitiveness”

  • U.S. corporate profits are near their highest level in 85 years as a share of the economy, while employee compensation is close to its lowest level. Corporations don’t need major tax breaks; tax reform should focus on raising typical workers’ incomes.
  • The U.S. stock market continues to outperform European Union stocks coming out of the recession.
  • As they post record profits, many large U.S. multinationals are flush with cash — and in recent years they’ve paid out much of it to shareholders through record dividends and share buybacks. This belies multinationals’ claims that cutting taxes on their profits would free up cash that they would use to invest. Rather, they’re likely to continue increasing payouts to high-income shareholders with the new tax cuts.


•••••

When taking into account tax breaks and loopholes that corporations use to lower their taxes, U.S. corporate tax rates are well below the 35 percent top statutory rate and in line with those in other high-income countries (those most likely to be similar to the United States in their attractiveness for companies to locate and invest for reasons unrelated to tax rates). The Treasury Office of Tax Analysis estimates:

•••••


  • Most corporate rate cuts go to high-income investors and don’t “trickle down” to workers. Proponents of corporate rate cuts often claim workers will benefit because companies will invest more and therefore boost wages. But mainstream estimates are that only a very small share of corporate rate cuts eventually flows to workers — and even taking this effect into account, the Tax Policy Center finds that about 80 percent of the benefit of a corporate rate cut flows to the top fifth of households, and about 53 percent flows to the top 1 percent.
  • Corporate rate cuts could actually hurt growth and the majority of Americans. If rate cuts are not paid for by reducing corporate tax breaks and loopholes, the increased deficits would reduce national saving, meaning less capital would be available for investment in the economy and interest rates could rise. Further, in the long run, these deficit-financed tax cuts would have to be paid for, either through increases in other taxes or cuts to government services. Given these eventual financing costs, unpaid-for corporate tax cuts would likely leave most Americans worse off in the long run, even if they generated modest near-term economic benefits.


•••••

True corporate tax reform would close loopholes and scale back corporate tax breaks that today allow many large, profitable businesses to pay very little in taxes. Such reform could help the economy by helping to ensure that investments flow to where they are most productive, rather than towards tax breaks and tax avoidance schemes. Such tax reform would address the inefficient tilts in the corporate tax code towards:

•••••

Actual U.S. Corporate Tax Rates Are in Line with Comparable Countries


http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/actual-us-corporate-tax-rates-are-in-line-with-comparable-countries

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
April 25, 2017

Various GOP tax plans propose to dramatically lower the top corporate tax rate, arguing that the U.S. rate is one of the highest in the world and that it makes U.S. companies “uncompetitive.” But these comparisons are misleading. Rather than focusing on the top “statutory” corporate rate, they should focus on what companies actually pay. Plus, they should focus on large, high-income countries, which companies are likely to view as similar to the United States in terms of being attractive places to locate and invest for reasons not related to the tax system. When taking into account tax breaks and loopholes that corporations use to lower their taxes, U.S. corporate tax rates are well below the 35 percent top statutory rate and are in line with corporate tax rates in similar countries.

•••••

Comparisons of corporate tax rates should focus on the measures that reflect what companies actually pay, not the top statutory rate. Proponents of slashing the corporate tax rate often note the U.S. statutory tax rate is the highest among developed countries. But many U.S. companies use an array of targeted tax breaks and loopholes to significantly lower the taxes they pay. These include tax subsidies for certain types of investments (such as in research and development) and for particular industries (such as oil and gas).

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that in 2016, while the corporate income tax raised $300 billion in revenues, targeted subsidies delivered to companies through the corporate tax code cost about $270 billion. As a result of these subsidies and other tax avoidance measures, many large U.S. companies pay very low rates. For example, Pfizer paid a rate of about 7.5 percent on its $12 billion in worldwide pre-tax income in 2014. Studies generally also find that U.S. companies’ tax rates vary widely by industry and type of investment.

•••••

The erroneous international comparisons of corporate tax rates are often coupled with arguments that cutting the U.S. corporate tax rate would help create jobs and growth. In fact:

  • The case for slashing corporate tax rates is thin: U.S. companies are posting near-record profits, and little suggests that corporate taxes — or poor corporate profitability — are a major constraint for the U.S. economy.
  • Most of the benefit of corporate rate cuts flows to high-income investors rather than “trickling down” to workers in the form of higher wages, and the cuts are costly: Reducing the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, as President Trump has proposed, would cost more than $2 trillion over ten years. Such a tax cut could hurt the majority of Americans if it permanently increased deficits (which can slow economic growth in the long run, according to the Congressional Budget Office) or its high cost is paid for with large cuts to investments that help working families.
  • Rather than slashing the corporate tax rate, true corporate tax reform that addressed inefficient corporate tax breaks, loopholes, and the tilt of the tax code towards debt and foreign profits would be more likely to foster growth. Such reform could help ensure that investments flow to where they are most productive. It could also raise revenues to reduce deficits and invest in national priorities like education and infrastructure that deliver long-term benefits for the economy and the majority of Americans.


•••••



•••••



•••••



•••••

The Fingerprints of Global Warming on Extreme Weather



By Andrea Thompson
April 24, 2017

When climate scientists examine whether the warming of the Earth has made extreme weather events such as heatwaves or downpours more likely, they generally do it on a case-by-case basis. But a group led by Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh has aimed to develop a more global, comprehensive approach to investigating how climate change has impacted such extremes.

With a new framework they developed, Diffenbaugh’s team found that heat records were made both more likely and more severe for about 80 percent of the area of the globe with good observational data. For precipitation records, that percentage was about half.

•••••

Monday, April 24, 2017

Most new to Medicaid have no other option if Affordable Care Act repealed

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/osu-mnt042417.php

Public Release: 24-Apr-2017
Most new to Medicaid have no other option if Affordable Care Act repealed
Ohioans covered under expansion primarily older, low-income, less-educated whites
Ohio State University

Almost everyone covered through Ohio's Medicaid expansion would have no other viable insurance option should the Affordable Care Act be repealed, a new study has found.

Law and public health researchers from The Ohio State University determined that 95 percent of newly enrolled beneficiaries would be without a plausible pathway to coverage. The research appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Many of these people have nothing else to turn to," said Eric Seiber, lead author and associate professor of health services management and policy in Ohio State's College of Public Health.

"Their choice is Medicaid or medical bankruptcy."

•••••

Though 17.7 percent of survey participants had private health insurance prior to Medicaid enrollment, most had lost their jobs (and their coverage) or were ineligible for employer-sponsored group health plans at the time of enrollment. The researchers found that 4.8 percent of the new Medicaid recipients were eligible for insurance through their jobs, leaving 95.2 percent of new enrollees with no feasible alternative.

Seiber and Berman also found that a rollback would predominantly affect older, low-income whites with less than a college education.

"The impact of insurance is about a lot more than health care," Berman said. "For people newly enrolled in Medicaid, it means that should they have a major health-related event, they can still pay for food, have stable housing, get out of debt. These are all things that make a huge difference in quality of life."

A recent Ohio Medicaid analysis, which was conducted with help from Seiber and Berman and mentioned in the new study, found that that the expansion increased access to medical care, reduced unmet medical needs, improved self-reported health status and alleviated financial distress - all results found in other states that have expanded access to government coverage.

The new study shows that the majority of adults newly enrolled in Medicaid did not drop private insurance in favor of the government coverage, Seiber said.

"These are very low-income adults, many of whom lost their jobs and have nothing to go back to," he said.

•••••

The fading American dream: Economic mobility has nearly halved since 1940

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/aaft-tfa042417.php

Public Release: 24-Apr-2017
The fading American dream: Economic mobility has nearly halved since 1940
American Association for the Advancement of Science

The probability for children to attain a higher income than their parents has dropped dramatically - from more than 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s - according to a new study analyzing U.S. data. Results reveal that restoring economic mobility would require, in part, more equal economic redistribution. The "American Dream" promises that hard work and opportunity will lead to a better life, and that even those born to low-income families can "rise above the ranks" with sufficient effort.

•••••

They found that the fraction of children earning more than their parents fell from 92% in the 1940 birth cohort to 50% in the 1984 birth cohort. Economic mobility fell most sharply in the industrial Midwest (e.g., Indiana, Illinois), while the smallest declines occurred in states such as Massachusetts, New York, and Montana.

•••••


How fear of death affects human attitudes toward animal life

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/uoa-hfo042417.php

Public Release: 24-Apr-2017
How fear of death affects human attitudes toward animal life
University of Arizona

When reminded of death, humans become more likely to support killing animals, regardless of their existing attitudes about animal rights, according to new research from the University of Arizona.

The research provides new insight into the psychology behind humans' willingness to kill animals for a variety of reasons, and could also potentially help scientists better understand the psychological motivations behind the murder and genocide of humans, said lead researcher Uri Lifshin, a doctoral student in the UA Department of Psychology.

Lifshin and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments based on their existing work on terror management theory -- the idea that humans' awareness of their own mortality is a strong motivator for behaviors that may help quell the fear of death.

•••••

Prior to the start of experiments, participants were asked to report their feelings about animal rights. Surprisingly, it didn't matter if people self-identified as supporters of animal rights. While those individuals were overall less likely than others to support killing animals, the death prime still had the same effect on them.

"If you're an animal lover or if you care about animals rights, then overall, yes, you are going to support the killing of animals much less; however when you're reminded of death you're still going to be a little bit more reactive," Lifshin said. Worth noting, the study did not include overt animal rights activists, who might be affected differently. Additional research is needed for that population, Lifshin said.

Gender also didn't change the effect of the death prime. Consistent with existing literature, male participants were generally more likely than females to support killing animals, but males and females were both affected in the same way by the death prime.

•••••

Self-esteem can be achieved in different ways. In a previous study, Lifshin and his colleagues showed that when people who enjoy playing basketball are reminded of their mortality, they improve their performance on the basketball court, and thereby their self-esteem, to manage their fear of death.

In the animal study, researchers think death-primed participants supported killing animals more because it provided them with a sense of power or superiority over animals that indirectly helped them fend off fear of mortality, Lifshin said.

This all happens subconsciously.

"Sometimes, our self-esteem depends on the idea that we are special and not just sacks of meat. We want to feel powerful, immortal -- not like an animal," said Lifshin, a proud pet owner whose own love of animals is, in part, what drove him to study why anyone would do them harm.

To further test the terror management connection, Lifshin and his colleagues designed one of their experiments to look at whether giving participants an alternative self-esteem boost would change the effect of the death prime.

It did.

•••••

In other words, seeing the death prime did not make participants more supportive of killing animals if they subsequently received a self-esteem boost from a different source.

"We didn't find that people's general state of self-esteem made a difference; it was this self-esteem boost," Lifshin said. "Once your self-esteem is secured, you no longer need to satisfy the need for terror management by killing animals."

•••••

When researchers asked participants to rate statements about killing humans under various conditions, the death prime did not have the same effect; those who saw the death prime were not more likely to support killing humans.

Even so, the research could still have important implications for the study of the psychology behind murder and genocide of humans who fall into outgroups because of their race, religion or other characteristics, since those individuals tend to be dehumanized by those who would do them harm, Lifshin said.

"We dehumanize our enemies when there is genocide. There is research in social psychology showing that if you go to places where genocide is happening and you ask the people who are doing the killing to try to explain, they'll often say things like, 'Oh, they're cockroaches, they're rats, we just have to kill them all,'" Lifshin said. "So if we ever want to really understand how to reduce or fight human-to-human genocide, we have to understand our killing of animals."

Informative links


http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/poll-73-back-independent-probe-russian-election-interference-n750161
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/deaths-infections-may-be-masking-opioid-deaths-n750336
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/senate-investigation-russia-scandal-faces-gop-resistance
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-developing-nation-regressing-economy-poverty-donald-trump-mit-economist-peter-temin-a7694726.html
http://www.politicususa.com/2017/04/23/nate-silver-calls-medias-judgement-factor-hillary-clintons-loss.html
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/china-india-climate-leaders-west-falters-21377
http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/country/7767590/last-songwriter-nashville-film-fest-garth-brooks
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/second-michigan-doctor-his-wife-charged-female-genital-mutilation-procedures-n749516
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/04/21/as-scientists-erupt-in-protest-a-volcanologist-runs-for-congress/?utm_term=.65e5c1c0addd
http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/04/dow-chemical-endangered-species

Deaths From Infections May be Masking Opioid Deaths

Aspirin also dampens the immune system.

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/deaths-infections-may-be-masking-opioid-deaths-n750336

by Maggie Fox
April 24, 2017

The opioid abuse epidemic is already bad enough but doctors may be missing quite a few cases because of the way deaths are reported, disease detectives said Monday.

People who take the painkillers may be more susceptible to infections, and opioid drugs also suppress the immune system, making it harder to fight off those infections, researchers told a meeting at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

•••••

Opioid use can make people more likely to die from infections in two ways, Hall said. "It kind of dampens your immune system," she said.

"It can make immune system cells less effective at fighting off illness," Hall said.

Also, opioids make people breathe more shallowly and more slowly, which in turn raises the risk of developing pneumonia.


tags: drug use, drug abuse

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fecal microbiota transplants improve cognitive impairment caused by severe liver disease

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/eaft-fmt041117.php

Public Release: 21-Apr-2017
Fecal microbiota transplants improve cognitive impairment caused by severe liver disease
ILC 2017: Fecal microbiome transfer significantly reduced the number of hospitalizations compared to standard of care treatment
European Association for the Study of the Liver

A study presented today found that faecal transplantation of bacteria from one healthy donor into patients that suffer from hepatic encephalopathy (decline in brain function due to severe liver disease), is safe and improves cognitive function compared with standard of care treatment for the condition. Presented at The International Liver Congress™ 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the study results also demonstrated that the number of hospitalisations following faecal transplantation plus antibiotics was two, compared to the standard of care arm (lactulose and rifaximin), which was 11 (IQR 83 days). Specifically, there was a significant reduction in hospitalisations due to recurrent hepatic encephalopathy (six in the standard of care and none in the faecal transplant arm).

In the study, faecal transplant plus antibiotic treatment was well tolerated without any serious side effects. Furthermore, it was found that the faecal transplant plus antibiotic therapy restored antibiotic-associated changes in the body's bacterial composition.

•••••

Treatment of HCV allows for sustained removal from the liver transplant waiting list

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/eaft-toh041117.php

Public Release: 21-Apr-2017
Treatment of HCV allows for sustained removal from the liver transplant waiting list
ILC 2017: Of 38 patients (26.7 percent) that were delisted due to clinical improvement, one died as a result of rapidly progressing hepatocellular carcinoma while two (5.2 percent) other patients had to be relisted or considered for relisting
European Association for the Study of the Liver

The Netherlands: A new European study presented today demonstrated that patients with chronic Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and severe liver damage, taken off the liver transplant list as a result of successful direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy, had a favourable outcome over a year later. The study, presented at The International Liver Congress™ 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, showed that 38 of 142 patients (26.7%) could be removed from the waiting list due to clinical improvement. Of the 38 patients taken off of the transplant list, one (2.6%) died as a result of rapidly progressing HCC while two other patients (5.2%) had to be relisted or considered for relisting.

•••••

Diet high in animal protein is associated with NAFLD in overweight people

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/eaft-dhi041117.php

Public Release: 21-Apr-2017
Diet high in animal protein is associated with NAFLD in overweight people
ILC 2017: Significant associations between macronutrients and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease were found predominantly in overweight individuals
European Association for the Study of the Liver

A large epidemiological study presented today found that a diet high in animal protein was associated with a higher risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition in which fat builds up in the liver. These findings from The Rotterdam Study, presented at The International Liver Congress™ 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, also showed that fructose consumption per se might not be as harmful as previously assumed.

NAFLD is a major health concern, because it can lead to permanent scarring (cirrhosis) and subsequently to cancer and malfunction of the liver.1 This may result in life-threatening complications for which a liver transplant is needed. Additionally, NAFLD also contributes to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis. NAFLD is diagnosed when accumulation of fat in the organ exceeds 5% of hepatocytes (the cells that make up the majority of the liver).2 It is estimated that approximately 1 billion people worldwide may have NAFLD with a prevalence of 20-30% in Western countries.3 It parallels one of world's most rapidly growing health concerns, obesity, which is also one of the most important risk factors in NAFLD.3 In its early stages NAFLD can be treated through diet and lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, but it can progress to more serious liver diseases.1 However, there is still a lot of debate whether weight loss alone is enough to reverse NAFLD, while emerging evidence suggests that the composition of the diet, rather than the amount of calories consumed, might also be important in NAFLD.

•••••

Friendships play a vital role in helping people get through substantial challenges in life

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/bps-twf042117.php

Public Release: 21-Apr-2017
That's what friends are for
Friendships play a vital role in helping people get through substantial challenges in life, according to a new study
British Psychological Society

Friendships play a vital role in helping people get through substantial challenges in life, according to a new study.

Until now, little research has been carried out into the role friends and, in particular, best friends play in building resilience to adversity -- surviving and thriving in the face of difficult times.

The new preliminary study, by Dr Rebecca Graber, University of Brighton Senior Lecturer in Psychology, for the first time provides long-term statistical evidence of the enormous benefit these valued social relationships have on adults.

•••••

Dr Graber said: "These findings reveal that best friendships are a protective mechanism supporting the development of psychological resilience in adults, although the mechanisms for this relationship remain unclear.

"The study provides long-term statistical evidence, for the first time, of the vital role of these valued social relationships for developing resilience in a community-based adult sample, while posing open questions for just how best friendships facilitate resilience in this way."

These findings support previous research by Dr Graber, published last year, revealing that best friends facilitate resilience processes in socioeconomically vulnerable children.

Making bins more convenient boosts recycling and composting rates

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/uobc-mbm042117.php

Public Release: 21-Apr-2017
Making bins more convenient boosts recycling and composting rates
University of British Columbia

Want to recycle or compost more? Try moving the bins closer, new UBC research suggests.

The study shows that placing bins 1.5 metres away from suite doors drastically boosts recycling and composting rates by 141 per cent. The findings highlight how small changes in convenience can have a big impact on performance.

•••••

When liver immune cells turn bad

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/uhn-wli042117.php

Public Release: 21-Apr-2017
When liver immune cells turn bad
University Health Network

A high-fat diet and obesity turn "hero" virus-fighting liver immune cells "rogue", leading to insulin resistance, a condition that often results in type 2 diabetes, according to research published today in Science Immunology.

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"We found that under conditions of obesity and a high-fat diet, the cells that typically strengthen our immune system by killing viruses and pathogens instead increase blood sugar. They become pathogenic and worsen insulin resistance," explains Dr. Dan Winer. In fact, the normal function of the immune cells becomes misdirected. The pathways they would typically use to fight infection create inflammation, unleashing a chemical cascade which impacts insulin and glucose metabolism.

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Climate change will fuel terrorism, report warns

The U.S. military has warned of this, too.

https://thinkprogress.org/climate-change-terrorism-report-e2f0ba6b2268

Natasha Geiling
April 20, 2017

Climate change-fueled natural disasters and resource shortages will strengthen recruiting efforts of terror groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, according to a new report commissioned by the German government.

“As the climate is changing, so too are the conditions within which non-state armed groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS operate,” the report, issued by the think tank Adelphi, said in its executive summary. “Climate change contributes to creating a fragile environment in which these groups can thrive.”

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The report also points to diminishing natural resources as fueling an environment ripe for terror recruitment. Africa’s Lake Chad, for instance, provides economic livelihood for nearly 80 percent of the population that lives in its basin. As the lake shrinks, economic opportunities for people in that area also decline, making the population susceptible to recruitment by Boko Haram.

•••••

In Syria, for instance, prolonged drought beginning in 2007 had a devastating impact on farmers and the state’s agricultural sector. Widespread food shortages caused mass migration from rural Syria into its cities, forcing an overcrowding that only served to further exacerbate existing resource shortages and grievances with the Syrian government.

“Amongst the chaos and instability brought about by fighting between the government, the Free Syrian Army and rebel groups, terrorist groups such as ISIS were able, later in 2014, to easily gain control over large parts of contested territory,” the report found. “Although ISIS had already been present in Iraq, it could only expand its influence to Syria when the country was pulled into a civil war.”

Born Anxious: Why Some of Us Are Wired to Worry



by Daniel P. Keating
April 20, 2017

We're all feeling much more stressed out these days, showing up as increases over the last few decades in how many of us suffer from stress-related diseases and disorders. Even if we're not sick yet, we carry more of the physical markers of stress that lead to future illnesses. We have a full-blown stress epidemic on our hands.

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The problems come when we have excess cortisol in our body over an extended time. Why is this happening so much more often now? One reason is that there are more stressors, experienced more frequently. A second, hidden reason is biological. As stress increases overall, more of us will develop a poorly regulated stress system as a result of stressful experiences in early life, while we are still in the womb or in the first year of life. If we become "stress dysregulated" (SDR), we react more often, more strongly and for a longer time.

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A harsh early life environment sends a signal that "amping up" the stress system is the best defense against danger — in other words, it is a chance for the genes to "listen to the environment" in terms of what that young life is likely to encounter.

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But even if this SDR pattern is "biologically embedded" from early life, there are things we can do to change the pattern of our lives, even if it doesn't change the basic physiology.

Start before birth. A first goal should be to minimize early life stress, by providing more support for expectant and new parents, to avoid the early onset of stress dysregulation from stress methylation.
Supernuture fussy babies. For infants showing the pattern of high fussiness, difficulty in soothing, high sensitivity, and trouble sleeping - beyond the occasional episodes that most babies show — finding ways to provide "supernurturing" can turn the pattern around. Persisting in soothing for longer times, even though it is stressful, helps the infant toward better regulation of stress and emotions. This usually requires more than one caregiver to provide respite to the primary caregiver, and can come from partners, extended family, or others.

Pair stressed teens with a trusted adult. For children and teens, finding a strong social connection with a trusted adult — a family member, coach, teacher, mentor, or as they grow older, a romantic partner — can provide a positive path to reduce the effects of SDR. Strong social connections are almost always found in resilient individuals, who have bounced back from early adversity to succeed in many aspects of life.

•••••

Adopt healthy habits. Beyond awareness, changes in behavior and in how we see our stress reactions have biological effects that counter stress. Physical exercise burns cortisol and helps us to regulate our emotions and moods. Social connections remain important, and release chemicals — oxytocin and serotonin - that counteract cortisol. Becoming mindful helps us keep stressors in perspective, and also reduces cortisol.

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U.S. Warming Fast Since 1st Earth Day


http://www.climatecentral.org/news/us-warming-trend-earth-day-20257?utm_content=buffereedd6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

April 21, 2017

Across most of the country, average temperatures have increased at a rate of about 0.13°F (0.07°C) per decade since 1910. That trend is in line with the broader trend of rising global temperatures fueled by the accumulation of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Of course warming isn’t uniform across the planet, and some regions are warming faster than others. And since the 1970s, warming across the U.S. has accelerated. On average, temperatures in the contiguous 48 states have been warming at a rate of 0.45°F (0.25°C) per decade since 1970.

The fastest-warming states over that period were New Mexico, Arizona and Delaware, which warmed at a rate of more than 0.6°F (0.3°C) per decade. The slowest-warming states were South Carolina, Georgia and Missouri, which warmed at a rate of 0.3°F (0.17°C) per decade.

This analysis draws on temperature data collected from the National Climatic Data Center’s Climate at a Glance database.

Informative links


http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/20/524896256/louisianas-governor-declares-state-of-emergency-over-disappearing-coastline
https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/04/being-rich-means-having-money-to-spend-on-being-richer/389871/?utm_source=atlfb

The reason why the Gwinnett Recling Bank closed on Satellite Blvd. I could never understand why people who cared enough to bring their recycled stuff there would be so lazy not to follow the signs, like not putting plastic bags filled with recyclables in the bins. How incredibly lazy do you have to be to not be willing to empty the contents of the bag into the bin, and put the bag in its proper place.
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/recycling-is-in-trouble-and-you-may-be-part-of-the-problem/ar-BBA5SPk?li=BBnb4R7&ocid=mailsignout

The Lord's Resistance Army is a violent Christian cult, which is not mentioned in this article. If they were Muslims, that would surely have been mentioned.
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-ends-hunt-joseph-kony-top-rebels-battlefield-n748891
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_EPA_DOW_CHEMICAL?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-04-20-05-05-26

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Informative links


http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2017/04/explaining_science_won_t_fix_information_illiteracy.html
http://www.gipl.org/sightings-from-the-treehouse-fossil-fuel-industry-coup/
http://www.gipl.org/sightings-from-the-treehouse-fossil-fuel-industry-coup/
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/04/19/524563155/when-active-duty-service-members-struggle-to-feed-their-families?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170419
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/business/economy/united-mine-workers-retiree-health-plan.html?smid=fb-share
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/when-kids-call-the-shots/201703/4-ways-bad-marriages-are-worse-kids-divorce
https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-04-19/europe-accusations-russian-meddling-elections-come-no-surprise?utm_campaign=TheWorld&utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialFlow
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/killed-hurt-shooting-downtown-fresno-california-46870435
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article145579009.html
https://promarket.org/less-interested-truth-capture-thrives/

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Normal" is hotter than it used to be

People in this part of the country (southeast) act like the world is coming to an end when we have winter weather that used to occur every winter.

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/628-months-since-the-world-had-cool-month-21365

This Graphic Puts Global Warming in Full Perspective
By Brian Kahn

To say the world is having a streak like no other is an understatement. Global warming has made cold scarce on a planetary scale.

This March clocked in as the second warmest March on record when compared to the 20th century average, according to newly released data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NASA data published last week came to the same conclusion, comparing temperatures to a 1951-1980 baseline.

The NOAA data shows the planet was 1.9°F (1.05°C) above the 20th century average for March, the first time any month has breached the 1°C threshold in the absence of El NiƱo. This March is the latest freakishly hot month following three years in a row of record heat.

NOAA and NASA baselines don’t really tell the whole story. How much the world has warmed since pre-industrial times is a crucial measuring stick for international climate talks and a more accurate representation of how much climate change is altering the planet.

Using the baseline of 1881-1910, a new, more dire picture of global warming emerges. This March was 2.4°F (1.3°C) above the pre-industrial average by that measure. More notably, this March marks a whopping 627 months in a row of warmer than normal temperatures. If you were born after December 1964, you’ve never experienced a month cooler than average on this planet.

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Our Climate Future Is Actually Our Climate Present

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/magazine/our-climate-future-is-actually-our-climate-present.html?_r=0

How do we live with the fact that the world we knew is going and, in some cases, already gone?
By JON MOOALLEM APRIL 19, 2017

•••••

We seem able to normalize catastrophes as we absorb them, a phenomenon that points to what Peter Kahn, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, calls “environmental generational amnesia.” Each generation, Kahn argues, can recognize only the ecological changes its members witness during their lifetimes. When we spoke recently, Kahn pointed to the living conditions in megacities like Kolkata, or in the highly polluted, impoverished areas affected by Houston’s oil refineries, where he conducted his initial research in the early ’90s. In Houston, Kahn found that two-thirds of the children he interviewed understood that air and water pollution were environmental issues. But only one-third believed their neighborhood was polluted. “People are born into this life,” Kahn told me, “and they think it’s normal.”

A University of British Columbia fisheries scientist, Daniel Pauly, hit upon essentially the same idea around the same time, recognizing that as populations of large fish collapsed, humanity had gone on obliviously fishing slightly smaller species. One result, Pauly wrote, was a “creeping disappearance” of overall fish stocks behind ever-changing and “inappropriate reference points.” He called this impaired vision “shifting baseline syndrome.”

•••••

Such shifting baselines muddle the idea of adaptation to climate change, too. Adaptation, Kahn notes, can mean anything from the human eye’s adjusting to a darker environment within a few milliseconds to wolves’ changing into dogs over thousands of years. It doesn’t always mean progress, he told me; “it’s possible to adapt and diminish the quality of human life.” Adapting to avoid or cope with the suffering wrought by climate change might gradually create other suffering. And because of environmental generational amnesia, we might never fully recognize its extent. Think of how Shel Silverstein’s Giving Tree, nimbly accommodating each of the boy’s needs, eventually winds up a stump.

•••••

Putin-linked think tank crafted plan to swing election for Trump

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/329602-putin-linked-think-tank-crafted-plan-to-swing-election-for-trump-report

Putin-linked think tank crafted plan to swing election for Trump: report
By Nikita Vladimirov - 04/19/17

A Moscow-based think tank linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin created a plan to swing the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters that two confidential documents obtained from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies justify the conclusion reached by the U.S. intelligence community about Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election.

According to the report, the institute is run by former senior Russian intelligence officials appointed by the Russian president's office.

The seven U.S. officials told Reuters that one of the documents was a strategy paper drafted in June of 2016 that advocated a propaganda campaign on various media platforms urging U.S. voters to back a presidential candidate with a friendlier stance toward Russia.

The second document, written in October, advocated for Russia to switch focus to amplifying voter fraud claims, given the widely held view at the time that Hillary Clinton was likely to beat Trump.

The shift in strategy would be utilized to undermine Clinton's presidency and damage her reputation, the document implied.

According to four of the sources, the June strategy paper expanded on Putin's earlier strategy from March 2016, in which Moscow allegedly instructed state-backed media outlets such as Sputnik News and RT to produce more pro-Trump content.

A spokesperson for Sputnik dismissed the claims of U.S. sources, calling them an "absolute pack of lies" in a statement to Reuters.

Informative links



http://equitablegrowth.org/equitablog/value-added/u-s-income-inequality-trends-in-the-21st-century/
https://mainlymacro.blogspot.com/2017/04/inequality-or-poverty.html
http://www.cbpp.org/blog/middle-class-americans-big-stake-in-social-security
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/17/california-pesticides-central-valley-trump
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/17/california-pesticides-central-valley-trump
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/329225-china-approved-three-ivanka-trademarks-on-same-day-she-met-with
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/17/california-pesticides-central-valley-trump
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/18/late-term-abortion-experience-donald-trump

Fossil Fuel Industries Pumped Millions Into Trump's Inauguration, Filing Shows

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/19042017/fossil-fuels-oil-coal-gas-exxon-chevron-bp-donald-trump-inauguration-donations

By Marianne Lavelle
April 19, 2017

Fossil fuel companies were not big donors to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, but they helped him shatter records in raising money for his inauguration festivities, according to new disclosures filed at the Federal Election Commission.

More than 1,500 corporations and individuals gave a total $107 million to the presidential inaugural committee. That is more than double the $53 million raised for President Barack Obama's then record-breaking inaugural in 2009.

Among the big donors were Chevron, which gave $525,000; Exxon, BP and Citgo Petroleum, which each donated $500,000; and the Ohio-based coal company Murray Energy, which contributed $300,000. Kelcy Warren, the chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, developer of the Dakota Access pipeline, gave $250,000. Continental Resources, the Oklahoma-based fracking company whose chief executive Harold Hamm was an early Trump supporter, gave $100,000.

Those seven donations alone surpass the $2 million that the Trump campaign raised from the energy and natural resources industry before the election, according to the tally by the Center for Responsive Politics. (In contrast, Republican Mitt Romney raised $13 million from the sector in his 2012 presidential bid.)

The Trump team's inauguration fundraising blitz raises red flags for those concerned about the influence of money in politics. "It's very clear the reason a corporation would seek to make a contribution to an inauguration is that they are making a business investment," said Tyson Slocum, head of the energy program at Washington watchdog Public Citizen. "And they are expecting a financial return on their investment in the form of access, or when they are pushing for specific legislative and regulatory priorities."

The Trump inaugural committee offered top donors perks such as access to cabinet appointees at "leadership luncheons" and other events.

The fossil fuel industry certatinly wasn't the only sector contributing to the inauguration festivities. The committee recorded big donations from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson ($5 million), Microsoft ($500,000), American Financial Group ($500,000) and the health insurer Anthem ($100,000), among many others.

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In addition to fossil fuel companies, some of the larger donors to the Trump inauguration were private equity titans who have major investments in oil, gas and coal. Contributing $1 million each to the inauguration were: Henry Kravis, co-chairman and CEO of KKR, a major energy company investor, and Paul Singer of Elliott Management, whose firm has stakes in Marathon Petroleum, Hess Oil and BHP Billiton. Private equity firms poured $20 billion into investments in U.S. shale oil and gas production in the first quarter of this year, indicating they are betting on big growth for the sector, despite low oil and gas prices, according to financial data firm Preqin.

•••••

Other energy companies that gave at least $100,000 to the Trump inauguration include Xcel Energy, one of the nation's largest utilities; White Stallion Energy of Houston, an oil and gas company; Consol Energy, a coal and natural gas company; and Cheniere Energy, a natural gas exporter.

The inaugural committee also garnered donations from the renewable energy industry, including $1 million from the Nebraska ethanol firm Green Plains Renewable Energy and $250,000 from NextEra Energy of Florida, the parent company of Florida Power & Light, which has mostly natural gas and nuclear power plants, but also a large amount of wind and solar generation.