Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Muslims drive for hours to pay tribute to Manchester attack victims



By Gisela Crespo, CNN
Updated 10:29 PM ET, Tue May 23, 2017

Imams and Muslim youth from around the UK drove to Manchester, England on Tuesday in a display of solidarity after the city's deadly terror attack.
Zishan Ahmad, an imam at London's Baitul Futuh Mosque, made the 8-hour round trip to pay tribute to the victims at a vigil outside Manchester City Hall.
He joined about 50 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association -- and hundreds of others who attended the solemn event.

•••••

The AMYA members held banners that read "Love for all, hatred for none."

Ahmad said this motto "signifies the basis starting point that Islam requires of a Muslim."
For Ahmad, the vigil was an experience that brought people together.
"People were approaching us, hugging us," Ahmad said. "It allowed us to show the local community and world at large that terrorists have nothing to do with Islam."

Informative links


Trump’s budget is simply ludicrous
http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/05/trumps-budget-is-simply-ludicrous.html

http://larrysummers.com/2017/05/23/a-budget-warning/

Human-induced deforestation is causing an increase in malaria cases
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170523081901.htm

U.S. accuses Fiat Chrysler of trying to mask emissions in 100,000 vehicles
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/us-accuses-fiat-chrysler-of-trying-to-mask-emissions-in-100000-vehicles/2017/05/23/10ad09d0-3fe0-11e7-adba-394ee67a7582_story.html?utm_term=.3508fb6487a4

Uber admits it underpaid tens of thousands of New York City drivers
Why some businesses want to do away with regulations, so they can cheat their workers and customers.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/05/23/uber-admits-it-underpaid-tens-of-thousands-of-drivers-in-new-york/?utm_term=.364b90e49e4c

Fox News retracts controversial story on Seth Rich’s death
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/05/23/fox-news-retracts-controversial-story-on-seth-richs-death-and-alleged-wikileaks-contact/


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump's 'Massive' Middle-Class Tax Cuts Are Tiny Compared To Those Promised To The Rich



Mar 1, 2017 @ 09:26 AM 30,861
Tony Nitti

•••••

As measured by the erstwhile eggheads at the Tax Policy Center, the Trump plan would result in total tax cuts of $6.2 trillion over the next ten years. Now that is certainly a massive tax cut. But is for the middle class? Or for someone else?

According to the TPC, of the $6.2 trillion in cuts, the richest 1% will enjoy 47% of those cuts, or nearly $3 trillion over ten years. The middle class, however -- should we choose to define it as those taxpayers in the wealthiest 20% to 80% of the population--would receive only 20% of the tax cuts combined. Put into simpler terms, here is how the different income classes would benefit from the President's plan:

 Income Level  Income Percentage Share of Tax Cuts Annual Tax Savings per Individual  Percent Change in After-Tax Income
 $0-$24,800 0-20% 1.1% $110 0.8%
$24,800-$48,400 20-40% 3% $400 1.2%
$48,400-$83,300 40-60% 6.6% $1,010 1.8%
$83,300-$143,100 60-80% 11.3% $2,030 2.2%
> $143,100          80-100%     77.7% $16,660 6.6%

•••••

remember to look at the percentage column, which confirms the plan's regressivity, meaning it disproportionately benefits the richest taxpayers on a percentage -- rather than absolute dollar -- basis.
If we focus on the upper reaches of the income scale, the impact becomes more dramatic. Consider the following:
 Income Level  Income Percentage Share of Tax Cuts Annual Tax Savings per Individual  Percent Change in After-Tax Income
 $292,000-$699,000 95-99% 16.3% $18,490 6%
> $699,000 >99% 47.3% $214,000 13.5%
>$3,749,600 >99.9% 24.2% $1,066,460 14.2%

•••••

In their 2016 "Blueprint for Tax Reform," Ryan and Brady did indeed propose sweeping tax cuts of their own, amounting to $3.1 trillion over the next ten years.  They have, however, somehow managed to make their proposal even less progressive that the President's plan, with the richest 1% getting nearly 77% of the tax cuts, leaving the middle class only 2.5% of the savings. It looks like so:

•••••

Under the GOP plan, middle-class taxpayers will get an annual tax break of $120 - $410, less than half of that offered by the President's plan. Meanwhile, the richest 20% of the country will, on average, enjoy additional after-tax cash of nearly $12,000, with the richest 1% getting an average tax break of $212,000. Again, the disparity isn't reconciled on a percentage basis, as the middle class will experience an increase in after-tax income of less than 1%, while the richest 1% will see their after-tax income rise by 13.4%.

•••••

The Heartless Tradeoffs in the Trump Budget

I suggest reading the whole article at the following link:

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2017/05/22/Heartless-Tradeoffs-Trump-Budget

By Mark Thoma
May 22, 2017

As the bombshells continue to drop on the Trump administration, behind the scenes Trump’s first detailed budget proposal is being developed, and it has a few bombshells of its own, particularly for the poor. The budget proposal is not yet finalized, so the details could change, but according to what has leaked so far, the budget is a combination of tax cuts for the wealthy, reduced spending on social programs that serve the needy, and wishful thinking about tax cuts and economic growth.

Tax Cuts: It should be no surprise that the Trump budget includes large tax cuts for the wealthy. But the magnitude of the cuts is staggering. The cuts would result in a loss of tax revenue of more than $5 trillion over the next decade (over $500 billion per year on average). And the beneficiaries will mainly be the wealthy. According to calculations from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, each household in the top 1% would receive approximately $250,000 per year, and the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes would each receive at least $15 million per year, for a total of “at least $6 billion annually.” As the CBPP points out, “$6 billion is more than the federal government spends on grants for major job training programs to assist people struggling in today’s economy,” and it is “roughly the cost of providing 600,000 low-income families with housing vouchers.”

•••••

Medicaid and SSDI: The Trump budget proposal includes cuts to Medicaid that go beyond the cuts in House health care bill, and it also includes cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance.

The cuts to Medicaid in the House health care bill, as the CBPP notes, “would have a devastating impact on health care for over 70 million people who rely on Medicaid, including over 30 million children and millions of seniors, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and low-income adults.” Trump’s proposal would make these numbers even worse. So much for his promise that Medicaid would not be cut.

The cuts to SSDI would mostly affect people over 50, “About three-fourths of beneficiaries are over 50, and more than one-third are over 60” and it would reduce enrollment by 14 million people by 2026. This will reduce the economic security available for people who are disabled before retirement and for families who are dependent upon a family member who dies.

•••••

Schools: The Washington Post’s analysis of the cuts to public schools identifies 22 public school programs that would be eliminated, including:

After-school programs serving 1.6 million mostly low-income children ($1.2 billion)
Teacher training and class-size reduction ($2.1 billion)
Child care for low-income parents in college ($15 million)
Arts education ($27 million)
Programs for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students ($65 million)
International education and foreign language programs ($72 million)
A program for gifted students ($12 million)
Special Olympics education programs ($12 million)
Mental-health services, anti-bullying initiatives, physical education, Advanced Placement courses, and science and engineering instruction ($400 million)

•••••

Traffic-related air pollution linked to DNA damage in children

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170519153547.htm

Date: May 19, 2017
Source: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Summary:
Children and teens exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution have evidence of a specific type of DNA damage called telomere shortening, reports a new study.

Children and teens exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution have evidence of a specific type of DNA damage called telomere shortening, reports a study in the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Young people with asthma also have evidence of telomere shortening, according to the preliminary research by John R. Balmes, MD, of University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues. They write, "Our results suggest that telomere length may have potential for use as a biomarker of DNA damage due to environmental exposures and/or chronic inflammation."

•••••

The researchers assessed the relationship between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a "ubiquitous" air pollutant caused by motor vehicle exhaust; and shortening of telomeres, a type of DNA damage typically associated with aging.

As the exposure to PAHs increased, telomere length decreased in linear fashion. Children and teens with asthma were exposed to higher PAH levels than those without asthma. The relationship between PAH level and telomere shortening remained significant after adjustment for asthma and other factors (age, sex, and race/ethnicity) related to telomere length.

The study adds to previous evidence that air pollution causes oxidative stress, which can damage lipids, proteins, and DNA. Research has suggested that children may have different telomere shortening regulation than adults, which might make them more vulnerable to the damaging effects of air pollution.

•••••

Just one alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, exercise lowers risk

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170523084758.htm

Date: May 23, 2017
Source: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Summary:
Drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, finds a major new report.

Drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, finds a major new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).The report also revealed, for the first time, that vigorous exercise such as running or fast bicycling decreases the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. Strong evidence confirmed an earlier finding that moderate exercise decreases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.

•••••

The report found strong evidence that drinking the equivalent of a small glass of wine or beer a day (about 10 grams alcohol content) increases pre-menopausal breast cancer risk by 5 percent and post-menopausal breast cancer risk by 9 percent. A standard drink is 14 grams of alcohol.

For vigorous exercise, pre-menopausal women who were the most active had a 17 percent lower risk and post-menopausal women had a 10 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who were the least active. Total moderate activity, such as walking and gardening, linked to a 13 percent lower risk when comparing the most versus least active women.

In addition the report showed that:

• Being overweight or obese increases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.

• Mothers who breastfeed are at lower risk for breast cancer.

• Greater adult weight gain increases risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in US women with over 252,000 new cases estimated this year. AICR estimates that one in three breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented if women did not drink alcohol, were physically active and stayed a healthy weight.

•••••

Ex-C.I.A. Chief Reveals Mounting Concern Over Trump Campaign and Russia

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/us/politics/john-brennan-russia-trump-campaign-cia.html?ribbon-ad-idx=11&rref=politics&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Politics&action=swipe®ion=FixedRight&pgtype=article

John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, described on Tuesday a nerve-fraying few months last year as American authorities realized that the presidential election was under attack and feared that Donald J. Trump’s campaign might be aiding that fight.

Mr. Brennan, in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, said he was concerned by a series of suspicious contacts between Russian government officials and Mr. Trump’s associates. The C.I.A. learned about those meetings just as it was beginning to grapple with Russian hackers and propagandists trying to manipulate the presidential race.

His remarks were the fullest public account to date of the origins of an F.B.I. investigation that continues to shadow the Trump administration.

“I know what the Russians try to do,” Mr. Brennan said. “They try to suborn individuals and try to get individuals, including U.S. individuals, to act on their behalf, wittingly or unwittingly.”
Continue reading the main story

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Continue reading the main story

When he left his post in January, he said, “I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf.”

•••••

“I said that all Americans, regardless of political affiliation or whom they might support in the election, cherish their ability to elect their own leaders without outside interference or disruption,” Mr. Brennan said. “I said American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in the election.”

Mr. Brennan’s prediction proved inaccurate. Though intelligence agencies are unanimous in their belief that Russia directly interfered in the election, it has become a divisive partisan issue, with Democrats far more likely than Republicans to accept the conclusion. Mr. Trump has declared that “Russia is fake news” and has tried to undermine the conclusions of his own intelligence services.

•••••

Informative links


Trump Effect Inspires Radical Christians in Military
http://www.newsweek.com/christian-fundamentalists-us-armed-forces-national-security-threat-613428

The Link between Disorder and Genius
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-link-between-disorder-and-genius-an-interview-with-dr-gail-saltz/?WT.mc_id=SA_FB_MB_NEWS

White House Moves To Block Disclosure Of Ethics Waivers For Trump Appointees
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/22/529502156/white-house-moves-to-block-disclosure-of-ethics-waivers-for-trump-appointees

Christie says he wouldn't let Flynn into White House "if he were president"
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/christie-says-he-wouldnt-let-flynn-into-white-house-if-he-were-president/

Report: Girl in Weiner sexting case lied to damage Clinton
http://thehill.com/homenews/news/334511-report-girl-in-weiner-sexting-case-lied-to-damage-clinton

Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump Budget Would Cut E.P.A. Science Programs and Slash Cleanups


Since the states that get back more taxes than they send to Washington tend to be poor and Republican, and those that send more than they get back tend to be Democratic, this might hurt Trump's voters and help his opponents.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/climate/trump-epa-budget-superfund.html?_r=1

By CORAL DAVENPORT MAY 19, 2017

President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Science and Technology nearly in half, while paring by 40 percent funding for E.P.A. employees who oversee and put in place environmental regulations, according to a White House document that was shared with The New York Times.

And while the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, has vowed to prioritize the agency’s cleanup of hazardous waste sites, the president would cut funding for the program, known as Superfund, by about 25 percent. And spending for a program to restore former industrial sites contaminated by pollution, another stated priority of the administrator, would shrink by about 36 percent.

Those cuts are part of an overall E.P.A. budget reduction of about 30 percent, as outlined originally in March, when the White House unveiled the top-line budget requests for the fiscal year that begins in October. The agency’s budget would drop to $5.7 billion — its lowest level in 40 years, adjusted for inflation — from its current $8.2 billion.

•••••

Mr. Trump has made clear that he wants to increase military spending by 10 percent, and spend more on the border with Mexico, including building a wall. He would also not touch the largest drivers of the budget deficit, Medicare and Social Security.

To do all of that, deliver what he has called the largest tax cut in the nation’s history and make good on his campaign pledge to balance the budget, virtually every other aspect of government would have to be significantly cut back. Those cuts would hit the E.P.A. especially hard.

The proposed cuts to the agency charged with protecting the nation’s environment and public health appear explicitly aimed at slowing or stopping some of its ability to regulate several forms of pollution, including the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. The proposed reductions would carry out Mr. Trump’s campaign pledges to drastically reduce the size and scope of the E.P.A., and his subsequent push to roll back major Obama-era environmental regulations.

•••••

Republicans on Capitol Hill are unlikely to approve reductions at the levels envisioned by the White House.

Last year, the House spending subcommittee that controls the E.P.A.’s budget proposed funding the agency at $8 billion, cutting just $291 million from President Barack Obama’s request.

•••••

Among the few state-level programs it would leave intact is a $20 million revolving fund to help states and communities build safer water infrastructure, a program aimed at helping municipalities prevent disasters like the lead contamination crisis that sickened thousands in Flint, Mich.

But the proposed budget would eliminate all spending on nearly a dozen state-level programs aimed at researching and protecting local watershed ecosystems, including programs on the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, Lake Pontchartrain and Puget Sound.

The richest 10% hold 76% of the wealth

http://money.cnn.com/2016/08/18/pf/wealth-inequality/

by Jeanne Sahadi @CNNMoney August 18, 2016

•••••

The top 10% of families -- those who had at least $942,000 -- held 76% of total wealth. The average amount of wealth in this group was $4 million.

Everyone else in the top 50% of the country accounted for 23% of total wealth, with an average of $316,000 per family.

That leaves just 1% of the total pie for the entire bottom half of the population.

•••••

What a difference 25 years made

Changes in wealth over time was also very uneven across groups.

Families at the 90th percentile saw their wealth grow by 54% between 1989 and 2013.

Those at the 50th percentile only experienced a 4% rise during the same period.

And those at the 25th percentile actually saw their wealth drop by 6%.

What's more, the top tenth of families saw their share of the total wealth pie grow from two-thirds to more than three quarters over the 25-year period, while everyone else saw their slice shrink.

•••••

Climate Change To Reduce Global Yields Of Staple Crops 23% By 2050s

https://cleantechnica.com/2017/05/22/climate-change-reduce-global-yields-staple-crops-23-2050s/

May 22nd, 2017 by James Ayre

Global production of the 4 most important staple crops in the world — maize/corn, wheat, rice, and soybeans — will be reduced by around 23% by the 2050s as a result of worsening anthropogenic climate change, according to new research published in the journal Economics of Disasters and Climate Change.

Notably, even by the 2030s — not that long from now — production of the staple crops mentioned above are expected to fall by ~9%, owing to rising temperatures (both rising minimums and maximums), increasingly extreme weather, and drought.

It should be noted that the findings don’t take into account rising soil depletion/erosion problems, the possibility of synthetic fertilizer shortages, or the possibility of large-scale wars or social breakdown. In other words, things could get notably worse than the figures above, which are already quite extreme.

Climate Central provides more: “The negative impacts of climate change to farming were pretty much across the board in the new analysis. There were small production gains projected for Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine in the 2030s, but by the 2050s, the models ‘are negative and more pronounced for all countries,’ the researchers wrote in the study.”

That matches the findings of many earlier studies.

•••••

It should be realized that, as with the ICCT’s climate change predictions, these estimates may well be underestimates, depending on how fast anthropogenic warming and associated changes occur over the coming decades.

It should also be realized here that there are already some ~2 billion people around the world who subsist on diets that result in a nutrient-deficient state of health — as this problem worsens in the coming years owing to dropping crop yields, nutrient deficiencies will become even more common, and so will a wide variety of diseases and infections as a result.

•••••

Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-asked-intelligence-chiefs-to-push-back-against-fbi-collusion-probe-after-comey-revealed-its-existence/2017/05/22/394933bc-3f10-11e7-9869-bac8b446820a_story.html?utm_term=.46bdc39c223b

By Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima May 22, 2017

President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.

Trump sought the assistance of Coats and Rogers after FBI Director James B. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FBI was investigating “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials.

•••••

Trump budget seeks huge cuts to disease prevention and medical research departments

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/22/trump-budget-seeks-huge-cuts-to-disease-prevention-and-medical-research-departments/?utm_term=.d2e56fa044f2

By Joel Achenbach and Lena H. Sun May 22, 2017

resident Trump's 2018 budget request to Congress seeks massive cuts in spending on health programs, including medical research, disease prevention programs and health insurance for children of the working poor.

The National Cancer Institute would be hit with a $1 billion cut compared to its 2017 budget. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute would see a $575 million cut, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would see a reduction of $838 million. The administration would cut the overall National Institutes of Health budget from $31.8 billion to $26 billion.

•••••

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be slashed by at least 20 percent for the next two fiscal years. According to the budget document, the administrator favors a renewal of CHIP, a program created 20 years ago for the children of lower-working class families and which currently insures 5.6 million children.

•••••

The president's budget seeks an $82 million cut at the center that works on vaccine-preventable and respiratory diseases, such as influenza and measles. It proposes a cut of $186 million from programs at CDC’s center on HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis prevention. One of the biggest cuts, $222 million, is to the agency’s chronic disease prevention programs, which are designed to help people prevent diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and obesity.

•••••

The agency’s center on birth defects and developmental disabilities also gets a 26 percent cut to its budget at a time when researchers have yet to understand the full consequences of Zika infections in pregnant women and their babies.

The budget calls for a 17 percent cut to CDC’s global health programs that monitor and respond to disease outbreaks around the world. It also cuts about 10 percent from CDC’s office of public health preparedness and response.

The budget document highlights $35 million that the CDC spends on childhood lead poisoning prevention. But the overall spending on environmental health would under Trump's plan be cut by $60 million, down to $157 million, according the document.

•••••

Recalls of food due to possible health risks

See link below for more info.

https://www.foodsafety.gov/recalls/recent/listeria.html

CRF Frozen Foods Recalls Voluntary Recall to Include All Frozen Vegetable and Fruit Products Due to Possible Health Risk
June 2, 2016

Ajinomoto Windsor, Inc. Recalls Meat and Poultry Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination
May 11, 2016

Garland Ventures LTD Recalls Poultry Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination
May 10, 2016

La Autentica Foods, LLC Firm Recalls Meat Tamale Products Due To Possible Listeria Contamination
May 7, 2016

Hy-Vee Voluntarily Recalls Frozen Hy-Vee Vegetable Fried Rice and Frozen Hy-Vee Chicken Fried Rice Due to Possible Health Risk
May 13, 2016

Updated: Ajinomoto Windsor Recall of Products Related to CRF Frozen Vegetable Recall
May 9, 2016

Updated: CRF Frozen Foods Expands Voluntary Recall to Include All Frozen Vegetable and Fruit Products Due To Possible Health Risk
May 5, 2016

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Air pollution linked to poor sleep, study finds

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/21/air-pollution-linked-to-poor-sleep-study-finds

Nicola Davis
May 21, 2017

Air pollution might be linked to poor sleep, say researchers looking into the impact of toxic air on our slumbers.

The study explored the proportion of time participants spent asleep in bed at night compared with being awake – a measure known as sleep efficiency.

The results reveal that greater exposure to nitrogen dioxide and small particulates known as PM 2.5s are linked with a greater chance of having low sleep efficiency. That, researchers say, could be down to the impact of air pollution on the body.

“Your nose, your sinuses and the back of your throat can all be irritated by those pollutants so that can cause some sleep disruption as well as from breathing issues,” said Martha Billings, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington and co-author of the research. Billings added that pollutants entering the blood could have an effect on the brain and hence the regulation of breathing.

•••••

After taking into account a host of factors including age, smoking status and conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, the team found that those who were exposed to the highest levels of air pollution over five years were more likely to be in the bottom group for sleep efficiency than those exposed to the lowest levels.

More specifically, high levels of nitrogen dioxide increased the odds of having low sleep efficiency by almost 60%, while high levels of PM2.5s increased the odds by almost 50%. Higher levels of pollution were also linked to greater periods of time spent awake after going to sleep.

•••••

Scott Weichenthal, an epidemiologist from McGill University in Canada who was not involved in the study, said the research did not prove that air pollution caused poor sleep, but he added: “There is certainly increasing evidence that air pollution affects our body in ways that we didn’t appreciate before.”

Roy Harrison, professor of environmental health at the University of Birmingham, said a link between pollution and sleep was not unexpected. “Previous research has shown associations between nitrogen dioxide exposures and effects upon various physiological and biochemical functions in the body, as well as hospital admissions and mortality,” he said. “It should therefore come as no surprise that such exposures also affect sleep patterns.”

Informative links


GOP Prepares to Make Case That Poor People Must Sacrifice So Rich Can Get Tax Cuts
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/05/will-gop-sacrifice-safety-net-programs-on-altar-of-tax-cuts.html?mid=fb-share-di

The great climate silence: we are on the edge of the abyss but we ignore it
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/05/the-great-climate-silence-we-are-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss-but-we-ignore-it

How lies work
http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2017/02/how-lies-work.html

400,000 were promised student loan forgiveness. Now they are panicking
http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/18/pf/college/betsy-devos-public-service-loan-forgiveness/

On same weekend as record-breaking arms deal, Saudis announced $100 million donation to Ivanka fund
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/5/21/1664578/-On-same-weekend-as-record-breaking-arms-deal-Saudis-announced-100-million-donation-to-Ivanka-fund


China crippled CIA by killing US sources
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39989142

There will be no miracles here
http://blog.ted.com/there-will-be-no-miracles-here-casey-gerald-at-ted2016/

Sometimes, Facts Can Actually Trump Ideology
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/sometimes-facts-can-actually-trump-ideology/

We Aren't Built to Live in the Moment
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/opinion/sunday/why-the-future-is-always-on-your-mind.html?smid=fb-share

An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor
https://revolsen.com/2017/05/17/an-open-letter-to-rev-franklin-graham-from-a-small-church-pastor/

The Trump administration's plans to crack down on Wall Street are being called into question
http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-mnuchin-glass-steagall-wall-street-bank-regulation-2017-5

When bad arguments work

http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2017/05/when-bad-arguments-work.html

May 17, 2017

•••••

Many of the most common arguments against [Great Britain] Labour’s policies are laughably bad

•••••

In pointing this out, however, people like me are missing something important – that even lousy arguments have the power to persuade.

Robert Cialdini gives us an example of this in Influence. He tells of an experiment in which a woman tries to jump queues to use a photocopier in a university library. When she merely asked to jump in, 60% of people in the queue complied. But the question “May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” got 93% to agree. Even a meaningless remark (why else would you want to use the copier?) elicited compliance.

What’s going on here is that the mere act of speaking has persuasive power.

•••••

Communication, especially the power of asking, greatly influences feelings of empathy and pro-social behavior.

The mere existence of messages, then, gets us to sympathize with the sender.

In this context, there’s a massive bias in the media. People earning over £80,000 might be only 5% of the population, but they account for much more than 5% of communication. This leads us to sympathize with them. Add in the fact that people tend to believe lies, and we get a big bias towards the rich.

It’s often said that many people oppose higher taxes on top earners because they hope (mostly wrongly) to become one themselves. But this is only part of the story. We sympathize with the rich not (just) because we hope to become rich ourselves, but because we hear so damned much from them.

There’s a nasty flipside to this. If we don’t hear from people, we tend not to sympathize with them.

•••••

This might well have political effects. Because the worst-off have less voice, we are relatively ignorant of their suffering and so less sympathetic to them. Support for benefit cuts isn’t based solely upon outright untruths, but upon a lack of sympathy for them caused by their relative lack of voice.

Most of us, I guess, can name far more people who are in the top 5% of the income distribution than in the bottom 5%. This introduces a bias towards the rich.

My point here is that the media’s bias isn’t merely conscious and deliberate. There are more subtle ways in which it serves the interests of the well-off.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Increased cancer rate in US linked to bad environment

I saw this in the May 13-10, 2017 print issue of New Scientist

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2130086-increased-cancer-rate-in-us-linked-to-bad-environment/

By Helen Thomson
May 8, 2017

Improving the worst environments in the US could prevent 39 in every 100,000 cancer deaths.

That’s according to the first study to address the impact of cumulative exposure to environmental hazards on cancer incidence in the US, which found strong links between poor environmental quality and increased rates of cancer.

•••••

Jyotsna Jagai at the University of Illinois and her colleagues investigated these links by comparing data from the Environmental Quality Index – a measure of cumulative environmental exposures between the years of 2000 and 2005 – with cancer incidence across the US from 2006 to 2010.

The results showed increases in cancer incidence with decreasing environmental quality. The link was clearest with prostate and breast cancer.

•••••

Even so, the data compiled by Jagai’s team can at least help identify which communities are most vulnerable to high cancer rates. However, this may be hampered by new legislative proposals, introduced in January, that seek to rein in federal collection of local area data.

Jagai and her team also warn that a bill introduced in February to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency, which provided the environmental data used in the study, will severely harm researchers’ abilities to further investigate the factors that contribute to disease.

Nearly 700 vacancies at CDC because of Trump administration’s hiring freeze

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/19/nearly-700-vacancies-at-cdc-because-of-trump-administration-hiring-freeze/

By Lena H. Sun May 19, 2017

Nearly 700 positions are vacant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of a continuing freeze on hiring that officials and researchers say affects programs supporting local and state public health emergency readiness, infectious disease control and chronic disease prevention.

The same restriction remains in place throughout the Health and Human Services Department despite the lifting of a government-wide hiring freeze last month. At the National Institutes of Health, staff say clinical work, patient care and recruitment are suffering.

Like HHS, the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have maintained the freeze as a way of reducing their workforces and reshaping organizational structures after a directive last month from the Office of Management and Budget that said all federal agencies must submit a plan by June 30 to shrink their civilian workforces. HHS, State and EPA also face significant cuts in the Trump administration’s budget proposal for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The administration, which unveiled a “skinny budget” for fiscal 2018 in March, is scheduled to release its full budget next week.

A senior CDC official said unfilled positions include dozens of budget analysts and public health policy analysts, scientists and advisers who provide key administrative support. Their duties include tracking federal contracts awarded to state and local health departments and ensuring that lab scientists have the equipment they need.

Though HHS has exempted many positions from the freeze, including physicians and personnel who respond to cybersecurity and public health emergencies, many support personnel who often play critical roles have been affected.

“It’s all the operational details,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because CDC staff are not permitted to comment publicly without approval from HHS. The situation has been made worse, the official said, because the agency has been operating without a permanent director since Tom Frieden stepped down in January. That job is considered one of the most crucial public health positions in the government given the CDC's role in tracking and stopping infectious disease outbreaks in the United States and worldwide.

•••••

Friday, May 19, 2017

April 2017: Earths 2nd Warmest April on Record

https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/april-2017-earths-2nd-warmest-april-record

Dr. Jeff Masters · May 18, 2017

April 2017 was the planet's second warmest April since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Thursday; NASA also rated April 2017 as the second warmest April on record. The only warmer April was just last year, in 2016. April 2017 ranked as the eighteenth warmest month (expressed as the departure of temperature from average) of any month in the global historical record in the NASA database. The extreme warmth of January 2017 (thirteenth warmest month of any month in NASA’s database), February 2017 (sixth warmest), March 2017 (fifth warmest) and now April gives 2017 an outside chance of becoming Earth’s fourth consecutive warmest year on record--if an El Niño event were to develop this summer and continue through the end of the year, as some models are predicting. It's more likely, though, that 2016 will remain as the warmest year in Earth's recorded history. For the year-to-date period of January–April 2017, Earth's temperature was 0.95°C (1.71°F) above the 20th century average of 12.6°C (54.8°F). This was the second highest such period since records began in 1880, behind 2016 by 0.19°C (0.34°F.)

Global ocean temperatures last month were the second warmest on record for any April, and global land temperatures were the fourth warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the fifth warmest for any April in the 39-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH).

•••••

Arctic sea ice: lowest extent on record for the seventh consecutive month

Arctic sea ice extent during April 2017 was tied with April 2016 for the lowest April extent in the 38-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Arctic sea ice has set record-low monthly extent records from October 2016 – April 2017. The record low ice extent has been due to a combination of very warm air temperatures plus unusually warm waters invading the Arctic from the south, beneath the ice. Arctic sea ice extent will likely not set a record for May, as the extent has been dropping at a slightly lower pace than usual over the last couple of weeks. However, the total volume of the ice could still be at record low levels for May, based on the huge deficit depicted by the PIOMAS sea ice volume model at the end of April.
Antarctic sea ice no longer setting all-time lows--barely

Sea ice surrounding Antarctica has been at unprecedented lows in recent months, setting an all-time monthly minimum extent record each month during the five-month period November 2016 – March 2017. However, monthly Antarctic sea ice extent in April 2017 was the second lowest for April on record, just behind the record set in 1980.

•••••

This is not rhetoric: approving the Adani coal mine will kill people

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/this-is-not-rhetoric-approving-the-adani-coal-mine-will-kill-people-20170518-gw7nv9.html

The Sydney Morning Herald

Ian Dunlop
Ian Dunlop was an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is a member of the Club of Rome.
May 18, 2017

Rarely have politicians demonstrated better their ignorance of the risks and opportunities confronting Australia than with Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan and other ministers' recent utterances on Adani and Galilee Basin coal, along with their petulant foot-stamping over Westpac's decision to restrict funding to new coal projects.

•••••

Nowhere in the debate is the critical issue even raised: the existential risk of climate change, which such development now implies. Existential means a risk posing large negative consequences to humanity that can never be undone. One where an adverse outcome would either annihilate life, or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

This is the risk to which we are now exposed unless we rapidly reduce global carbon emissions.

•••••

Dangerous climate change, which the Paris agreement and its forerunners seek to avoid, is happening at the 1.2-degree increase already experienced as extreme weather events, and their economic costs, escalate. A 1.6-degree increase is already locked in as the full effect of our historic emissions unfolds.

Our current path commits us to a 4 to 5-degree temperature increase. This would create a totally disorganised world with a substantial reduction in population, possibly to less than one billion people from 7.5 billion today.

The voluntary emission reduction commitments made in Paris, if implemented, would still result in a 3-degree increase, accelerating social chaos in many parts of the world with rising levels of deprivation, displacement and conflict.

•••••

Climate change has moved out of the twilight period of much talk and limited action. It is now turning nasty. Some regions, often the poorest, have already seen major disasters, as has Australia.

•••••

The uncertainties, regularly thrown up as reasons for inaction, relate not to the basic science but to the speed and extent of climate impact, both of which have been badly underestimated.

The most dangerous aspect is that the impact of fossil-fuel investments made today do not manifest themselves for decades to come. If we wait for catastrophe to happen, as we are doing, it will be too late to act. Time is the most important commodity; to avoid catastrophic outcomes requires emergency action to force the pace of change. Australia, along with the Asian regions to our north, is now considered to be "disaster alley"; we are already experiencing the most extreme impacts globally.

•••••

In these circumstances, opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity. The Adani mine by itself will push temperatures above 2 degrees; the rest of the Galilee Basin development would ensure global temperatures went way above 3 degrees. None of the supporting political arguments, such as poverty alleviation, the inevitability of continued coal use, the superior quality of our coal, or the benefits of opening up northern Australia, have the slightest shred of credibility. Such irresponsibility is only possible if you do not accept that man-made climate change is happening, which is the real position of both government and opposition.

•••••

The first priority of government, we are told, is to ensure the security of the citizens. Having got elected, this seems to be the last item on the politician's agenda, as climate change is treated as just another issue to be compromised and pork-barrelled, rather than an existential threat.

We deserve better leaders. If the incumbency is not prepared to act, the community need to take matters into their own hands.

Climate Change Is Turning Antarctica Green

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-is-turning-antarctica-green/

A new study has found a steady growth of moss in Antarctica over the last 50 years
By Scott Waldman, ClimateWire on May 19, 2017

Plant life on both poles is growing rapidly as the planet warms.

A new study has found a steady growth of moss in Antarctica over the last 50 years as temperatures increased as a result of climate change. The study, published yesterday in the journal Current Biology, shows that Antarctica will be much greener in the future, said lead author Matt Amesbury, a researcher at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

The continued retreat of glaciers will make the Antarctic Peninsula, which has been warming at a faster rate than the rest of the continent, a much greener place in the future, Amesbury said.

“It’s a clear sign that the biological response to climate warming is pervasive around the globe,” he said. “The Antarctic Peninsula is often thought of as a very remote and possibly even untouched region, but this clearly shows that the effects of climate change are felt here.”

Amesbury and his fellow researchers used cores of the moss bank to arrive at their conclusion. They looked at 150 years’ worth of data and found clear “changepoints” in the last 50 years that showed the increase of moss cover. Amesbury described the moss growth as a powerful signifier that the region is already undergoing change.

•••••

That echoes research published earlier this year that also shows an increase of plant growth in the Arctic. Scientists once thought tiny marine plants known as phytoplankton could not thrive under sea ice in the frigid Arctic ocean. But thinning ice has allowed them to thrive to such an extent that green patches of ice have been observed. The thinner ice lets sunshine in to previously dark areas, which allows the plankton to grow, and has the potential to dramatically change the ecosystem as animals migrate to the area earlier in pursuit of food.

•••••

The globe experienced its second warmest April in recorded history, second only to last year, and sea ice cover in both the Arctic and Antarctic is near record lows, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced yesterday. Antarctic sea ice cover was 18.2 percent, or 520,000 square miles, below the 1981-2010 average, NOAA also said yesterday. That is the second lowest April sea ice extent since record-keeping began in 1979. In the Arctic, sea ice cover was down 6.9 percent, or 394,000 square miles. That’s tied for the lowest ever recorded, with April 2016.

More people infected by recent WCry worm can unlock PCs without paying ransom

See the link below for details on how to obtain and use the tool.

People are getting very rich from these scams. According to some, like Robert Mercer & Donald Trump, it indicates that they are superior people.



A tool released on Friday decrypts PCs running a fuller suite of Windows versions.
Dan Goodin - 5/19/2017

New hope glimmered on Friday for people hit by last week's virulent ransomware worm after researchers showed that a broader range of PCs infected by WCry can be unlocked without owners making the $300 to $600 payment demand.

A new publicly available tool is able to decrypt infected PCs running Windows XP and 7, and 2003, and one of the researchers behind the decryptor said it likely works for other Windows versions, including Vista, Server 2008, and 2008 R2. The tool, known as wanakiwi, builds off a key discovery implemented in a different tool released Thursday. Dubbed Wannakey, the previous tool provided the means to extract key material from infected Windows XP PCs but required a separate app to transform those bits into the secret key required to decrypt files.

•••••

Scam alert: Do not answer calls or texts from these area codes

People are getting very rich from these scams. According to some, like Robert Mercer & Donald Trump, it indicates that they are superior people.

The following link to the article contains a list of area codes to beware of, and a link to a bigger list.

http://clark.com/scams-rip-offs/one-ring-scam-area-codes/

If you receive a call or text message on your cell phone from an unfamiliar area code, proceed with caution!

Inc.com reports that the “one ring scam” Clark.com has told you about over the years has resurfaced once again — and it’s coming after your money.

•••••

Consumers face no danger by receiving the message, but calling or texting back can be quite costly.

Although the area codes may look domestic, they’re international calls to premium phone numbers, which are like 900 numbers. Victims have been hit with an international call fee, plus an expensive per-minute charge.

Sometimes the scammers will reportedly play hold music or ads in an attempt to keep victims on the line.

•••••

Informative links


To regain power, Democrats need to focus on the long game — starting with these six races
The battle for 2020 redistricting — and all the advantages that mapmaking confers for an entire decade — could well be decided by Election Day in November 2018. By 2020, it will be over.
http://www.salon.com/2017/05/02/forget-the-georgia-sixth-to-regain-power-democrats-need-to-focus-on-the-long-game-starting-with-these-six-races/

How the GOP’s redistricting master plan brought us Trumpcare — even though most people hate it
http://www.salon.com/2017/05/06/gerrymandering-did-this-how-the-gops-redistricting-master-plan-brought-us-trumpcare-even-though-most-people-hate-it/

Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-05/uonc-art051817.php

New Technology May Help Ease Sleep Apnea
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/new-technology-may-help-ease-sleep-apnea-n760391

Colon Cancer Survivors Live Longer With Healthy Habits
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/colon-cancer-survivors-live-longer-healthy-habits-n761231


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Informatice links


NASA Space Probes Have Detected a Human-Made Barrier Surrounding Earth
https://www.sciencealert.com/nasa-space-probes-have-detected-a-human-made-barrier-shrouding-earth

AT&T and DirecTV face thousands of complaints linked to overcharging, promotions
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/complaints-att-directv-bundled-services-directv-customers-promotions-overcharging/?ftag=COS-05-10aaa0h&utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_content=591d3d8919694a0007f4256a&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook

The “fake but accurate” climate change news delivered to Trump? It’s fake all the way down.
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/5/16/15645466/trump-fake-climate-news

EPA asked the public which regulations to gut — and got an earful about leaving them alone
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/05/16/epa-asked-the-public-which-regulations-to-gut-and-got-an-earful-about-leaving-them-alone/?utm_term=.d09791fdcd24

El Niño Again? This Is Why It’s Hard to Tell
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/el-nino-again-why-its-hard-to-tell-21451

Teacher cites Bible in letter to school paper, says gay people 'deserve to die'
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/mcclatchys-america/article149916022.html

Eating tree nuts may cut risk that colon cancer will return: study
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cancer-nuts-idUSKCN18D2P8

I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/05/16/i-wrote-the-art-of-the-deal-with-trump-his-self-sabotage-is-rooted-in-his-past/?utm_term=.af5cfe3cd824&wpisrc=nl_most-draw14&wpmm=1

Blood tests significantly underestimated lead levels, FDA and CDC warn
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/17/blood-tests-significantly-underestimated-lead-levels-fda-and-cdc-warn/?utm_term=.07f9755bcc9d

Putin offers transcript to prove Trump did not pass Russia secrets
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-putin-idUSKCN18D1EA

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trump Tax Plan Would Give 400 Highest-Income Americans More Than $15 Million a Year in Tax Cuts

Under the current tax system, those in the top income groups are already gaining an increasing share of income and wealth. How are they suffering?

I suggest reading the whole article at the following link:

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/05/trump-tax-plan-would-give-400-highest-income-americans-more-than-15-million-a-year-in-tax-cuts.html

http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/trump-tax-plan-would-give-400-highest-income-americans-more-than-15-million-a

May 17, 2017
by Brandon DeBot

President Trump’s tax plan contains specific, costly tax cuts for the wealthy and profitable corporations but only vague promises for working families.[1] Even accounting for his proposal to restrict most itemized deductions, the top 1 percent would still receive annual tax cuts averaging at least $250,000 per household. But the tax cuts at the very top would be far larger. Their annual tax cuts would be more than five times the typical college graduate’s lifetime earnings. The 400 highest-income taxpayers — whose incomes average more than $300 million a year — would get average tax cuts of at least $15 million a year each, we estimate from IRS data. Their annual tax cuts would be more than five times the typical college graduate’s lifetime earnings.[2] (See Figure 1.) The total tax cut for these 400 households would be at least $6 billion annually.

The Trump plan prioritizes these tax cuts for the highest-income Americans over many worthy programs that need more resources. For example, $6 billion is more than the federal government spends on grants for major job training programs to assist people struggling in today’s economy. An additional annual investment of $6 billion could enable roughly 1.5 million adults each year to train for a new career.[3]

Also, $6 billion is roughly the cost of providing 600,000 low-income families with housing vouchers that would help them afford decent, stable housing. That additional investment could eliminate homelessness among impoverished veterans, families with children, and people with mental illness or other disabilities, and reduce housing instability among these and other at-risk groups.[4]

Yet, far from investing in these areas, President Trump has proposed to sharply cut the budget area (non-defense discretionary programs) that funds job training and housing vouchers, even as his tax plan delivers massive tax cuts to the top.

Our estimates are based on the tax cuts that the top 400 would receive from just two provisions of the Trump plan: reducing to 15 percent the tax rate on “pass-through” business income (income from businesses such as partnerships, S corporations, and sole proprietorships that is claimed on individual tax returns and is taxed at the same rates as wages and salaries) and repealing the 3.8 percent Medicare tax on unearned income that high-income households receive.

•••••

The top 400 would receive average tax cuts of at least $15 million annually from just these two provisions (assuming they have similar income levels and income sources as in 2014). This estimate likely significantly understates the tax cuts for the top 400 because it covers only two provisions that represent about one-third of the Trump tax plan’s overall cost.

•••••

Informative links


Trump's disclosure endangered spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, officials say
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/trumps-disclosure-endangered-spy-inside-isis-israel-officials/story?id=47449304

Workers say Wal-Mart discriminated against thousands of pregnant women
http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/workers-say-wal-mart-discriminated-against-thousands-of-pregnant-women/ar-BBBapl3

Tips on fighting fake news from the people who debunk it for a living
https://qz.com/937056/tips-on-fighting-fake-news-from-the-people-who-debunk-it-for-a-living/

Americans Support Impeaching Donald Trump More Than They Oppose It, Poll Finds
http://www.newsweek.com/americans-support-impeaching-donald-trump-more-they-oppose-it-610155

Prison Stocks Soar Under Trump As Jeff Sessions Okays Private Jails
https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamsarhan/2017/02/24/prison-stocks-soar-under-trump-as-sessions-oks-private-jails-again/#3e7ade3310ce

Vice-president Henry Wallace predicted a president like Trump 73 years ago
I have been expecting the election of someone like Trump because of the downsliding of working people
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/opinion/american-fascism-trump.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

GOP Congressman Frelinghuysen Targets Activist in Letter to Her Employer
http://www.wnyc.org/story/frelinghuysen-targets-activsts-letter-boss/

Slow-Freezing Alaska Soil Driving Surge in CO2 Emissions
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/slow-freezing-alaska-soil-co2-emissions-21444

Warm Arctic Fuels Second-Warmest April globally on Record
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/warm-arctic-fuels-second-warmest-april-21449

Warmer Temperatures Drying the Rio Grande
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/warmer-temperatures-drying-rio-grande-21446

U.S. had 2nd wettest, 11th warmest April on record
http://www.noaa.gov/news/us-had-2nd-wettest-11th-warmest-april-on-record

38,000 people a year die early because of diesel emissions testing failures
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/15/diesel-emissions-test-scandal-causes-38000-early-deaths-year-study

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rand Paul: Sessions' sentencing plan would ruin lives

Listening to reporting of the results of court cases involving attempts at voter suppression (by republicans), I realized another effect of Trump's attorney general instructions for prosecutors to charge suspects with the most serious provable offenses, "those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences." would be to further entrench republicans in office even when the majority does not want the. I see that others have noticed this too.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/15/opinions/sessions-is-wrong-rand-paul-opinion/

By Rand Paul
Updated 1:09 PM ET, Mon May 15, 2017

The attorney general on Friday made an unfortunate announcement that will impact the lives of millions of Americans: he issued new instructions for prosecutors to charge suspects with the most serious provable offenses, "those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences."

Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated a generation of minorities. Eric Holder, the attorney general under President Obama, issued guidelines to U.S. Attorneys that they should refrain from seeking long sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

•••••

The attorney general's new guidelines, a reversal of a policy that was working, will accentuate the injustice in our criminal justice system. We should be treating our nation's drug epidemic for what it is -- a public health crisis, not an excuse to send people to prison and turn a mistake into a tragedy.
And make no mistake, the lives of many drug offenders are ruined the day they receive that long sentence the attorney general wants them to have.
If I told you that one out of three African-American males is forbidden by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago.
Yet today, a third of African-American males are still prevented from voting, primarily because of the War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs has disproportionately affected young black males.
The ACLU reports that blacks are four to five times likelier to be convicted for drug possession, although surveys indicate that blacks and whites use drugs at similar rates. The majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, but three-fourths of all people in prison for drug offenses are African American or Latino.

•••••

Why are the arrest rates so lopsided? Because it is easier to go into urban areas and make arrests than suburban areas. Arrest statistics matter when cities apply for federal grants. It doesn't take much imagination to understand that it's easier to round up, arrest, and convict poor kids than it is to convict rich kids.

The San Jose Mercury News reviewed nearly 700,000 criminal cases that were matched by crime and criminal history of the defendant. Their analysis showed that whites of similar situation were far more successful in the plea bargaining process and "virtually every stage of pretrial negotiation" than their African-American and Latino counterparts.

I know a guy about my age in Kentucky who was arrested and convicted for growing marijuana plants in his apartment closet in college.

Thirty years later, he still can't vote, can't own a gun, and, when he looks for work, he must check the box -- the box that basically says, "I'm a convicted felon, and I guess I'll always be one."
He hasn't been arrested or convicted for 30 years -- but still can't vote or have his Second Amendment rights. Getting a job is nearly impossible for him.
Mandatory sentencing automatically imposes a minimum number of years in prison for specific crimes -- usually related to drugs.

By design, mandatory sentencing laws take discretion away from judges so as to impose harsh sentences, regardless of circumstances. Our prison population, meanwhile, has increased by over 700% since the 1980s, and 90% of them are nonviolent offenders. The costs of our prison system now approach nearly $100 billion a year. It costs too much, in both the impact on people's lives and on our tax dollars.

•••••

The injustice of mandatory minimum sentences is impossible to ignore when you hear the stories of the victims.

John Horner was a 46-year-old father of three when he sold some of his prescription painkillers to a friend.

His friend turned out to be a police informant, and he was charged with dealing drugs. Horner pleaded guilty and was later sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 25 years in jail.
As I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Edward Clay was an 18-year-old and a first-time offender when he was caught with less than 2 ounces of cocaine. He received 10 years in jail from a mandatory minimum sentence.

Weldon Angelos was a 24-year-old who was sentenced to 55 years in prison for selling marijuana three times.

Former federal judge Timothy Lewis recalls a case where he had to send a 19-year-old to prison for 10 years for conspiracy. What was the "conspiracy"?

This young man had been in a car where drugs were found. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure one of us might have been in a car in our youth where someone might have had drugs. Before the arrest, according to news reports, this young man was going to be the first in his family to go to college.

•••••

Mandatory minimum sentencing has done little to address the very real problem of drug abuse while also doing great damage by destroying so many lives, and most Americans now realize it.

•••••

Pew Research found that 67% of Americans want drug offenders to get treatment, not prison, and over 60% want an end to mandatory minimum sentences.

•••••

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Informative links




Intermittent Fasting: Try This at Home for Brain Health
https://law.stanford.edu/2015/01/09/lawandbiosciences-2015-01-09-intermittent-fasting-try-this-at-home-for-brain-health/

We overanalyze Trump. He is what he appears to be.
https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/12/15621140/interpret-trump

Missouri Republicans bill blocking St. Louis minimum wage hike is sent to governor
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/missouri-legislature-sends-bill-blocking-st-louis-minimum-wage-hike/article_1cc4462b-d7b6-5451-95c3-4547e8aea5dc.html

Private prisons back Trump and could see big payoffs with new policies
I expected this was the case when Sessions made his announcement about sentencing.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/23/private-prisons-back-trump-and-could-see-big-payoffs-new-policies/98300394/

What The Trump Era Will Feel Like: Clues From Populist Regimes Around The World
https://www.forbes.com/sites/melikkaylan/2017/01/10/what-the-trump-era-will-feel-like-clues-from-populist-regimes-around-the-world/#2334d53d53c0

Hospitals Gain Control After Ransom Hack, More Attacks May Come
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-12/ransom-hack-racking-up-victims-with-hospitals-most-at-risk

What's the largest vote loss possible to still win the Presidency?
https://www.quora.com/Bush-lost-the-popular-vote-by-500k-votes-Trump-lost-the-popular-vote-by-3m-Whats-the-largest-vote-loss-possible-to-still-win-the-Presidency/answer/Neel-Kumar-27

Many Medicare beneficiaries spend 20 percent or more of their income on premiums, other health costs
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/12/income-hit-to-many-medicare-beneficiaries-from-premiums-health-costs.html

White House says diabetics don’t deserve health insurance
http://shareblue.com/white-house-says-diabetics-dont-deserve-health-insurance/#.WRUECTZgoOc.facebook

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Working Class Has the Blues, and Elites Lack Answers

When I tried to post this link on Facebook, it pulled in the usual stuff from the link, but when I tried to post, got the msg:
"URL Not Found
We had trouble using the URL you provided. Please try again later."

I tried several times, it never worked.

Not the first time this has happened. It so far only seems to happen on links that contain material that the power elite might not want posted. It doesn't happen often, so that might be a coincidence.

I was able to post a link from Bloomberg about the hospital hack, so it's not blocking stuff from this site, which is a respectable source.

I reported it to Facebook this time.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-12/working-class-has-the-blues-and-elites-lack-answers

by Noah Smith
May 12, 201

•••••

Who are these working-class people who have been wronged by the system and aren’t going to take it anymore?

This is a crucial question, because it determines what policy responses might address general discontent. But, like the elite, the working class is devilishly difficult to define.

•••••

The easiest way of defining the working class is by income. Income inequality has increased substantially across the developed world, and in the U.S. more than most. One of the tools used to measure income inequality -- the Gini coefficient, which is higher when the distribution of income is less equal -- has risen quite a bit in the U.S. since the 1970s:

•••••

If we define working class as anyone in the lower regions of this increasingly unequal income distribution, it seems clear why they’d be angry. As recent research by economists Fatih Guvenen, Greg Kaplan, Jae Song, and Justin Weidner shows, lifetime income for most American men has been declining for decades; only by sending women into the formal labor force en masse have most American families managed to improve their material situation. Other research shows that economic mobility and opportunity are declining as well -- most Americans are making less than their parents did, and those in the lower ends of the distribution tend to be stuck there.

Rising inequality, stagnating income and reduced mobility seem like a toxic brew. And in the U.K., low income did indeed predict a vote for Britain’s exit from the European Union. But interestingly, the people suffering most from these trends in the U.S. don’t seem to be joining the supposedly populist revolt represented by Trump. Lower-income voters broke for Hillary Clinton in 2016, not Trump. More recent surveys also show that, all else equal, economic anxiety tended to push voters -- including white voters -- into the Clinton camp.

That suggests that there are other ways to think about class in the U.S. The most obvious alternative definition is education. Many polls and surveys find that the college/non-college distinction played a major role in determining who voted for Trump.

•••••

Meanwhile, economists have found that routine occupations are disappearing. If the working class is defined by the kind of work done, then the devastation of manufacturing jobs certainly seems like a reason for this group to be angry. What is the working class without work?

•••••

Friday, May 12, 2017

Informative links



Tillerson signs international declaration recognizing climate change
http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/333085-tillerson-signs-declaration-recognizing-climate-change

Majority of Americans want Democrats in control of Congress, poll finds
https://www.yahoo.com/news/majority-americans-want-democrats-control-061311983.html

American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period
http://www.npr.org/2017/05/12/527806002/focus-on-infants-during-childbirth-leaves-u-s-moms-in-danger

Trump Threatens Comey
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/us/politics/trump-threatens-retaliation-against-comey-warns-he-may-cancel-press-briefings.html?_r=0

Sessions issues sweeping new criminal charging policy
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-issues-sweeping-new-criminal-charging-policy/2017/05/11/4752bd42-3697-11e7-b373-418f6849a004_story.html

Presence of Russian photographer in Oval Office raises alarms
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-to-meet-russian-foreign-minister-at-the-white-house-as-moscows-alleged-election-interference-is-back-in-spotlight/2017/05/10/c6717e4c-34f3-11e7-b412-62beef8121f7_story.html?utm_term=.953e13c23b26

Trump Starts to Lose Some Sway With Fellow Republicans
Some of the new details we've learned about Trump vs. Comey
A timeline of developments in the Trump-Russia storyline
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/trump-starts-lose-some-sway-fellow-republicans-n757786

Former FBI agent: Trump's comments on Comey 'detestable'

Hilarious that Trump is accusing Comey of "grandstanding" & "showboating", which of course describes Trump. So typical of narcissists.



By Max Greenwood - 05/12/17

Former FBI agent James Gagliano on Friday called President Trump's criticism of fired FBI Director James Comey "destestable."

"You've got a man like James B. Comey whose probity is legion, and you contrast that with the president, whose moral turpitude was on full display during the campaign, as well as in the past," Gagliano said on CNN's "New Day."

"And it just strikes me as just so detestable to hear that — 'grandstanding,' 'showboating.' The FBI director is not worried about optics. Politicians are."

Trump's decision to fire Comey sparked a firestorm in Washington, and the White House has struggled to explain the shocking decision.

In an interview with NBC's Lester Holt that aired Thursday, Trump explained his rationale for Comey's ouster.

"He's a showboat, he's grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil," Trump said of Comey. "You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that."

The White House has also portrayed Comey as a failed leader who lost the confidence of the FBI's rank and file.

That narrative, however, was directly contradicted on Thursday by the bureau's acting director, who told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Comey was highly respected at the FBI.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

You're not getting a raise and nobody knows why



http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-slow-wage-growth-20170509-story.html

...

The pay that workers take home has risen a little since the depths of the recession, but not much. Once you factor in inflation, wages growth is so low that workers are hardly better off than they were a year ago. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen just 2.5 percent, according to Friday's report on April job growth.

...

As the economy continues to heat up and companies create more job opportunities, employers should eventually have a harder time finding the caliber of workers that they want. To attract good workers, companies in theory have to start offering pay increases.

...

Since the recession, the unemployment rate has not been a great indicator of how much slack is left in the labor market.

That's because the unemployment rate, which was a low 4.4 percent in April, counts only workers who do not have a job but are still actively looking for one. Economists argue that the harsh conditions of the recession persuaded many Americans to give up looking for work altogether. Young people moved back in with their parents, workers went on disability and older employees opted for early retirement.

Some of those people have gradually started looking for jobs again as the economy has heated up. But sluggish wage growth may imply that a lot of these people are still left on the sidelines of the economy, and that they might be willing to start looking for work again as their prospects improve.

...

Gould points to the employment-to-population ratio for prime-age workers, which measures the proportion of the population between the prime working ages of 25 and 54 who are employed. That figure stood at 78.6 percent in April, still significantly below where it was in 2007 and for most of 2008.

...

weak growth in wages may reflect the difficulty workers have asserting their bargaining position in the current environment, Lawson said.

A dramatic decline in unionization in recent decades has left workers less able to bargain with company owners for pay increases. At the same time, globalization has allowed companies to be more mobile than ever before. If labor gets too expensive in one location, companies can just move.

...

Sinclair said current market signs are signaling the Fed that the economy still might have substantial room to grow.

"It makes me want to encourage the Fed not to rush, because there doesn't seem to be too much pressure on the wage cost side for employers yet," she said. "Waiting a little longer might allow us to see further improvements for people."

Global Warming: Who Loses—and Who Wins?

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/04/global-warming-who-loses-and-who-wins/305698/

Gregg Easterbrook April 2007 Issue

Coastal cities inundated, farming regions parched, ocean currents disrupted, tropical diseases spreading, glaciers melting—an artificial greenhouse effect could generate countless tribulations.

If Earth’s climate changes meaningfully—and the National Academy of Sciences, previously skeptical, said in 2005 that signs of climate change have become significant—there could be broad-based disruption of the global economy unparalleled by any event other than World War II.

•••••

nearly all the added land-value benefits of a warming world might accrue to Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia, and Scandinavia.

•••••

And Russia! For generations poets have bemoaned this realm as cursed by enormous, foreboding, harsh Siberia. What if the region in question were instead enormous, temperate, inviting Siberia? Climate change could place Russia in possession of the largest new region of pristine, exploitable land since the sailing ships of Europe first spied the shores of what would be called North America. The snows of Siberia cover soils that have never been depleted by controlled agriculture. What’s more, beneath Siberia’s snow may lie geologic formations that hold vast deposits of fossil fuels, as well as mineral resources. When considering ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to regulate greenhouse gases, the Moscow government dragged its feet, though the treaty was worded to offer the Russians extensive favors. Why might this have happened? Perhaps because Russia might be much better off in a warming world: Warming’s benefits to Russia could exceed those to all other nations combined.

•••••

If climate change causes developing nations to falter, and social conditions within them deteriorate, many millions of jobless or hungry refugees may come to the borders of the favored North, demanding to be let in. If the very Earth itself turns against poor nations, punishing them with heat and storms, how could the United States morally deny the refugees succor? [Have to point out that the U.S. often does not act morally.]

Shifts in the relative values of places and resources have often led to war, and it is all too imaginable that climate change will cause nations to envy each other’s territory.

•••••

Oh, and there may be oil under the arctic waters. Who would own that oil? The United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark already assert legally complex claims to parts of the North Pole seas—including portions that other nations consider open waters not subject to sovereign control. Today it seems absurd to imagine the governments of the world fighting over the North Pole seas, but in the past many causes of battle have seemed absurd before the artillery fire began. Canada is already conducting naval exercises in the arctic waters, and making no secret of this.

•••••

Recent studies show that in the last few decades, precipitation in North America is increasingly the result of a few downpours rather than lots of showers. Downpours cause flooding and property damage, while being of less use to agriculture than frequent soft rains.

•••••

Why, ultimately, should nations act to control greenhouse gases, rather than just letting climate turmoil happen and seeing who profits? One reason is that the cost of controls is likely to be much lower than the cost of rebuilding the world. Coastal cities could be abandoned and rebuilt inland, for instance, but improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in order to stave off rising sea levels should be far more cost-effective. Reforms that prevent major economic and social disruption from climate change are likely to be less expensive, across the board, than reacting to the change. The history of antipollution programs shows that it is always cheaper to prevent emissions than to reverse any damage they cause.

•••••

Florida Had Unusual Presidential Write-In Votes

http://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/post/florida-had-unusual-presidential-write-votes#stream/0

By The Associated Press • Feb 2, 2017

Beyonce, Tim Tebow or the Norse god Thor for prez? Those were some of Florida's more unusual picks for president this past election.

And the number of Florida voters who didn't cast a vote for either Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or any other valid contender spiked in 2016, apparently in protest over the ballot choices.

A report released by state officials Wednesday showed more than 161,000 Florida voters who took part in the elections either at the polls or by mail didn't cast a valid vote for president.

The "non-valid votes" include those who wrote in such names as Mickey Mouse or Bernie Sanders and others who simply left the ballot blank. It also includes those who voted for more than one candidate.

All told, the invalid ballots outnumbered Republican Trump's margin of victory over Democrat Clinton of nearly 113,000 votes to clinch Florida's 29 electoral votes.

And the rate of invalid votes for president in 2016 — 1.69 percent overall — was more than double the rate it was in 2012 and 2008 when President Barack Obama won the state each time.

•••••

All told, more than 9.5 million Floridians voted in the election. The total of "non-valid votes" didn't include nearly 13,000 provision ballots that were also rejected.

•••••

Informative links


Chicago Mayor Recoups Climate Change Data Deleted From EPA Website
http://www.ecowatch.com/emanuel-climate-change-epa-website-2396776853.html

Low pay, high SF housing costs equal 1 homeless math teacher
http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Low-pay-high-SF-housing-costs-equal-1-homeless-11130936.php?cmpid=fb-premium

Comey infuriated Trump with refusal to preview Senate testimony: aides
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-comey-decision-idUSKBN1862WP?utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_content=59139ca004d3016d93771ce9&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook

Medication slashes crash risk for drivers with ADHD, study finds
http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/10/health/adhd-distracted-driving-study/

Common painkillers linked to increased risk of heart attack, study says
http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/09/health/nsaids-ibuprofen-drugs-heart-attack-study/

It’s not all the airlines’ fault. Sometimes it’s the Ugly American traveler.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/tripping/wp/2017/05/10/its-not-all-the-airlines-fault-sometimes-its-the-ugly-american-traveler/?utm_term=.59781b3bb202

There are better ways than suspension to discipline kids. Here are two schools doing just that.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/05/09/there-are-better-ways-than-suspension-to-discipline-kids-here-are-two-schools-doing-just-that/?utm_term=.34eb1e9a2c3d

The republicans don't want an accurate census, they want to be able to increasingly draw voting district lines in such a way as to thwart democracy and ensure that they get elected even if they don't get a majority.
US Census Bureau director abruptly resigns
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/332668-director-of-us-census-bureau-abruptly-resigns

No, Stephen Colbert is not being investigated by the FCC for his Trump joke
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/05/09/no-stephen-colbert-is-not-being-investigated-by-the-fcc-for-his-trump-joke/?utm_term=.6055436fcf62

All of Trump’s campaign statements just vanished from his website.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/05/09/all-of-trumps-campaign-statements-just-vanished-from-his-website-so-lets-remember-them/?nid&utm_term=.238cf55b36a6

Donald Trump Is Radicalizing America's Court System Before Our Very Eyes
http://www.alternet.org/right-wing/donald-trump-radicalizing-americas-court-system-our-very-eyes

10-Year-Old Florida Girl Pries Leg From Alligator’s Mouth
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/10-year-old-florida-girl-pries-leg-alligator-s-mouth-n756676

'Baby Dragon' Found In China Is The Newest Species Of Dinosaur
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/09/527440895/baby-dragon-found-in-china-is-the-newest-species-of-dinosaur