Saturday, March 31, 2018

Honest Reporting

For the list liberal fake news sites he warns against, see the preceding blog post "If You’re A Liberal, Stop Sharing Links From These Fake News Sites"

I point out that Modern Liberals itself does contain a clearly labeled humor/satire section.


If you want to subscribe to honest reporting on national issues in the United States, there are many reputable and mostly neutral sources like AP, Reuters, BBC out there.

Here are a few of the websites I go to for news or opinion articles.

If You’re A Liberal, Stop Sharing Links From These Fake News Sites, update 7/2/2017

I haven't looked at all of these web sites, but the ones I have I agree should be disregarded.

To avoid confustion, I'll list the sources he recommends is a separate post.

Friday, March 30, 2018


I keep seeing older people (my age) saying how we are owed more social security because we paid into it. My reply:
On average, we get back several times as much as we paid in Medicare taxes.
We get back a little more than we paid in Social Security.
Each generation's taxes have paid for the Social Security for their parents and grandparents.
We also have left a huge deficit for our children.
It's like someone who says they have done a good job of saving for retirement because they have $20,000 in IRAs, but owes $100,000 on their credit card.
What I do resent is those who voted for republicans, who have deliberately run up the national debt, so they can have an excuse to cut programs like this. If life were fair, they would have to be the ones to suffer any cuts that are made now in the name of fiscal responsibility.

When Lamonte McIntyre was exonerated for a double murder in October, he walked out of a Kansas prison with a clean record – but not a dime to his name, reports CBS News' Dean Reynolds. After losing 23 years of his life behind bars, the state is offering him nothing.
Kansas is one of 18 states that offer wrongfully convicted prisoners no compensation at all upon their release.

A new study indicates that patients with alcohol-related liver cancer often do not live as long as patients with liver cancer that is not associated with alcohol consumption, mainly due to diagnoses at later stages.

By taking a high-cost drug with a low-fat meal--instead of on an empty stomach, as prescribed--prostate cancer patients could decrease their daily dose, prevent digestive issues and cut costs by 75 percent, according to a new study in the March 28, 2018, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO).

Meditate regularly for an improved attention span in old age

Worries about the extra time needed to walk or bike to work is a big reason people hop into their cars for their daily commute, but walking or biking probably wouldn't take as long as they think, according to researchers.

Resampling of hard-hit region suggests amphibians may be developing resistance to deadly fungus

Cancer survivors were more likely to be insured but they still reported greater difficulties accessing and affording health care than adults without cancer, although the proportion of cancer survivors reporting those issues decreased in years that coincided with implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Plastic surgery abroad can lead to severe complications after returning to the US

Children who live in more walkable neighbourhoods have a smaller waist measurement and a lower BMI (body mass index)

Poor grades tied to class times that don't match our biological clocks

Government set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year

President Donald Trump signed a bill Monday that killed an Obama-era worker safety rule that required businesses competing for large federal contracts to disclose and correct serious safety and other labor law violations.
Earlier this month, the Senate voted to eliminate the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule, which applied to contracts valued at $500,000 or more. Votes on the bill in both the House and Senate divided along party lines.

Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you
[Please donate to The Guardian to help them continue their investigative work w/o a paywall.]

British man builds dog-poo-powered street light

The road to Alzheimer’s disease is lined with processed foods

Written by Dr. Lisa Mosconi
Mar. 23, 2018


By 2050, we are on track to have almost 15 million Alzheimer’s patients in the US alone. That’s roughly the population of NYC, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined. Now add a few more cities to take care of them.


In a large-scale study, researchers found that a 10% increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods led to a 12% increase in overall cancer


At the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical, this latest cancer research had our full attention. The findings line up so closely with research in the field, including our own work, linking diet and risk of Alzheimer’s—and underscore how important lifestyle changes can be to delaying or even avoiding the onset of the disease.


For Alzheimer’s, as with cancer—but also as with other conditions like heart disease and diabetes—much of the risk is related to behavioral and lifestyle factors. The consensus among scientists is that over one third of all Alzheimer’s cases could be prevented by improving our lifestyle. This includes ameliorating cardiovascular fitness, keeping our brains intellectually stimulated, and perhaps most of all: eating better.

“Eating better” means addressing the American ultra-processed diet. Ultra-processed is a technical term, and exists in a spectrum of food processing. An apple straight from the tree is wholly unprocessed. Dry the apple, and store it away with common preservatives like sulphur dioxide, and it becomes a processed food.


But ultra-processed foods are the extreme in the scale, and by some measures account for half of the American diet. These include mass produced, packaged foods, as well as foods containing manufactured substances like hydrogenated oils (aka trans-fats), modified starches, and protein isolates. In plain English, this means commercial breads and buns; packaged snacks; industrialized confectionery and desserts; sodas and sweetened drinks; meat products like cold cuts and chicken nuggets; instant noodles and soups; frozen or shelf stable ready meals; margarine, processed cheese, and most creamers.

These are the foods whose consumption triggered an increase in cancer cases in the BMJ study. And these are the foods whose consumption increases your risk of cognitive decline and dementia too. While some argue that “organic” processed food may be less harmful than non-organic processed food, it is still processed food and as such, should be minimized.

In epidemiological studies, people who consumed as little as two grams a day of trans-fats had twice the risk of those who ate less than two grams. Alarmingly, most people in those studies ate at least two grams a day, with the majority of participants eating more than double that dose on a regular basis.


But it’s very good news, in terms of our individual and collective abilities to reduce those numbers drastically.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Links and comments

If you have car repair bills not covered by insurance and the accident is not your fault, you might be able to deduct that on your income taxes. Also, property that is stolen.
Itemized deductions, Line 20 : Casualty and Theft Losses.

Monday, March 26, 2018


How big business elites have funded and won political rights for corporations

Europeans are facing more frequent extreme weather as the planet warms. Floods and big landslides have quadrupled and extreme heat waves and crop-damaging droughts have doubled since 1980, with a sharp spike in the last five years, according to the European Academies' Science Advisory Council's latest extreme weather update.

Over the next two decades, as many as 11 states are predicted to see the average annual area burned increase by 500 percent, according to a recent study.

Food Crises Intensifying Because of Climate Change and Conflict

The second-lowest winter sea ice extent on record has isolated Bering Sea native communities and put coastal residents at the mercy of storms and waves.

More than 130 people could have been exposed to novichok

When towns lose their newspapers, disease detectives are left flying blind

Being frugal is for the rich

A teen said no to an ‘arranged’ marriage, investigators say. Her parents threw hot oil on her.

Have We Been Denying Our Human Nature for Four Hundred Years?
[Good article, except for its anti-science comments. Science certainly has benefits, as well as being very interesting. Eg., much lower infant & child mortality. I see no reason why scientific knowledge and and humane culture cannot co-exist.]

There’s Trouble Brewing For Beer in a Warming World

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Selection against variants in the genome associated with educational attainment

In plain English, people who have a genetic profile associated with attaining more years of education put off having children until later in life, and have fewer children, so this genetic profile has been declining in the population.


We show that an educational attainment polygenic score, POLYEDU, constructed from results of a recent study is associated with delayed reproduction (P < 10−100) and fewer children overall. The effect is stronger for women and remains highly significant after adjusting for educational attainment. Based on 129,808 Icelanders born between 1910 and 1990, we find that the average POLYEDU has been declining at a rate of ∼0.010 standard units per decade, which is substantial on an evolutionary timescale. Most importantly, because POLYEDU only captures a fraction of the overall underlying genetic component the latter could be declining at a rate that is two to three times faster.


From the results presented here it is clear that there has been a slow but steady decline in the frequency of certain variants in the Icelandic gene pool that are associated with educational attainment. It is also clear that education attained does not explain all of the effect. Hence, it seems that the effect is caused by a certain capacity to acquire education that is not always realized. We postulate that, in addition to being correlated with cognitive ability (32, 33), POLYEDU is capturing a portion of the propensity to long-term planning and delayed gratification.


Friday, March 23, 2018


Last three years hottest on record, severe weather hits 2018: U.N.

Canada’s Outdoor Rinks Are Melting. So Is a Way of Life.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch doctored paperwork on 16 million orders to fool institutional clients into thinking stock trades were taking place in-house when they were not, according to New York's Attorney General.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


high carbon dioxide levels cause squid to bungle attacks on their prey.

On any given day, 20 percent of Americans account for nearly half of U.S. diet-related greenhouse gas emissions, and high levels of beef consumption are largely responsible, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan and Tulane University.

Palm trees are spreading northward -- how far will they go?

Volcanic eruption influenced Iceland's conversion to Christianity

Cutting carbon emissions sooner could save 153 million lives

Human influence on climate change will fuel more extreme heat waves in US

Half a degree more global warming could flood out 5 million more people

Climate change promotes the spread of mosquito and tick-borne viruses

Eastern Mediterranean summer will be two months longer by end of 21st century

Mystery of purple lights in sky solved with help from citizen scientists

Global warming increases the risk of avalanches

the excess carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere through the combustion of fossil fuels interferes with the health of phytoplankton which form the base of marine food webs.

'Cold-blooded' pythons make for caring moms

Warm Arctic means colder, snowier winters in northeastern US, study says

Mar. 21, 2018
The first Category 5 storm of 2018 is Tropical Cyclone Marcus, which intensified to a low-end Cat 5 with 160 mph winds at 18Z (2 pm EDT) March 21, with a central pressure estimated at 921 mb. Marcus is located well offshore of the northwest coast of Australia, and is not expected to bring any direct impacts to land areas as it curves southwards, roughly parallel to the west coast of Australia.

February 2018: Earth's 11th Warmest February on Record

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Artificial Intelligence Can Produce Lifelike Photographs

A new algorithm can mimic your voice with just snippets of audio

'Catastrophe' as France's bird population collapses due to pesticides
Dozens of species have seen their numbers decline, in some cases by two-thirds, because insects they feed on have disappeared

Under Trump's watch, national debt tops $21 trillion for first time ever

Man Who Bid For Border Wall Contract Charged In Minnesota Mosque Bombing

A military analyst for Fox News said Tuesday that he was quitting the network because he believed it had turned into a propaganda machine for President Donald Trump's administration.

Flooding and heavy rains rise 50% worldwide in a decade, figures show

Arthur Neslen
Wed 21 Mar 2018 13.00 EDT
Last modified on Wed 21 Mar 2018 13.01 EDT

Global floods and extreme rainfall events have surged by more than 50% this decade, and are now occurring at a rate four times higher than in 1980, according to a new report.

Other extreme climatological events such as storms, droughts and heatwaves have increased by more than a third this decade and are being recorded twice as frequently as in 1980, the paper by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (Easac) says.

The paper, based partly on figures compiled by the German insurance company Munich Re, also shows that climate-related loss and damage events have risen by 92% since 2010.

Prof Michael Norton, Easac’s environmental programme director, said that greenhouse gas emissions were “fundamentally responsible for driving these changes”.

“Trends towards extremes are continuing,” he said. “People have experienced extreme weather already - big switches [between] warm and cold winters - but the frequency of these shifts may be changing.”

“Some of the underlying drivers of extreme weather which were speculative four years ago are now looking less speculative and [more like] credible hypotheses. That is the weakening of the Gulf Stream and the meandering behaviour of the jet stream.”


republicans want to abolish Election Assistance Commission

Russell Berman Feb 13, 2017

Every odd-numbered year since 2011, Republicans in the House have tried to kill the Election Assistance Commission—the tiny federal agency responsible for helping states improve their voting systems. None of their previous efforts made it very far, and with Barack Obama in the White House, the 15-year-old commission had little to fear.

This year, the same fight has taken on much greater urgency.

Congressional committees are investigating whether a foreign power tried to hack the U.S. election. The new president is convinced that widespread fraud cost him millions of votes. And with an ally in the Oval Office, House Republicans have begun moving faster than ever before to eliminate an agency they say is unnecessary and wastes taxpayer money.


As a budget-cutting measure, scrapping the EAC would be roughly akin to a household deciding to forgo two-ply toilet paper in favor of the flimsier variety for a few months. Congress appropriated just $8 million to the commission in the last fiscal year—about a third of what the agency used to receive and a minuscule fraction of the $3.54 trillion federal budget in 2016. Republicans say it’s a good place to start, but Democratic defenders of the EAC argue that despite its small footprint, the commission serves important functions and that it’s especially foolhardy to get rid of it at a time of heightened concerns about the integrity of U.S. elections. “This is the time when we should be focusing on strengthening the only federal agency charged with making elections work for all Americans, not trying to eliminate it,” said Representative Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee.


The Austin bomber wrote political views in a blog

Sean Collins Walsh Claire Osborn Tony Plohetski American-Statesman Staff
11:33 a.m. Wednesday, March 21, 2018


In 2012, when he was 17 years old, Austin bombing suspect Mark Conditt laid out his political views in a series of blog posts he wrote for an Austin Community College course on U.S. government.

On the blog, Conditt described himself as a conservative. He wrote that he was against gay marriage and abortion and in favor of the death penalty.

He also wrote that he supported doing away with the sex offender registration system.


Conditt, who was homeschooled and attended Austin Community College’s Northridge Campus, died early Wednesday when he apparently detonated a bomb in his vehicle as police closed in on him near Round Rock.


His mother, Danene Conditt, posted a picture of him in February 2013 to mark his completing a high school-level education.

“I officially graduated Mark from High School on Friday. 1 down, 3 to go. He has 30 hrs of college credit too, but he’s thinking of taking some time to figure out what he wants to do….maybe a mission trip.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Arctic’s carbon bomb might be even more potent than we thought

By Chris Mooney March 19, 2018

For some time, scientists fearing the mass release of greenhouse gases from the carbon-rich, frozen soils of the Arctic have had at least one morsel of good news in their forecasts: They predicted most of the gas released would be carbon dioxide, which, though a greenhouse gas, drives warming more slowly than some other gases. Scientists obviously weren’t excited about more carbon dioxide emissions, but it was better than the alternative: methane, a shorter-lived but far harder-hitting gas that could cause faster bursts of warming.

Now even that silver lining is in doubt.

Research released Monday suggests that methane releases could be considerably more prevalent as Arctic permafrost thaws. The research finds that in waterlogged wetland soils, where oxygen is not prevalent, tiny microorganisms will produce a considerable volume of methane, a gas that doesn’t last in the air much more than a decade but has a warming effect many times that of carbon dioxide over a period of 100 years.

“What we can definitely say is that the importance of methane was underestimated until now in the carbon studies,” said Christian Knobloch, a researcher at Universität Hamburg in Germany and the lead author of the study, published in Nature Climate Change.

The divergent finding came after Knoblauch and his colleagues conducted a lengthy experiment, more than seven years long, monitoring patches of submerged and artificially warmed soil from Siberia in the laboratory, and gradually seeing sensitive methane-producing microorganisms become more prevalent over time.

Knoblauch contends that other studies have not examined waterlogged Arctic soils for as long, and he notes that in some cases it took three years or more for the methane-generating microorganisms to really get cranking.

“What we saw is that it takes a very long time until methane starts being produced, and the study that we did is really the first one which is so long,” Knoblauch said.



A Million Children Didn’t Show Up In The 2010 Census. How Many Will Be Missing In 2020?

Climate change will result in a massive movement of people inside countries and across borders, creating “hotspots” where tens of millions pour into already crowded slums, according to the World Bank.

Vernal Equinox 2018: Satellite Sees First Day of Spring, March 20, 2018

Pfizer CEO gets 61% pay raise—to $27.9 million—as drug prices continue to climb
In a recent three-week span, the company hiked 116 drug prices as much as 9.46 percent.

Last male northern white rhino's death highlights huge extinction crisis

Trump breaks ranks to congratulate Putin on landslide election victory

Senior executives from the firm at the heart of Facebook’s data breach boasted of playing a key role in bringing Donald Trump to power and said they used “unattributable and untrackable” advertising to support their clients in elections, according to an undercover expose.

Plight of Phoenix: how long can the world’s 'least sustainable' city survive?

Monday, March 19, 2018


Lies we tell kids

How to disagree well: 7 of the best and worst ways to argue

Christopher Wylie, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, speaks out on Facebook controversy

Cambridge Analytica Execs Caught Discussing Extortion and Fake News

The retail apocalypse is being fueled by private equity firms adding to debt loads
[I never see the names of the people who won these private equity firms being mentioned.]

No, The Universe Is Not Expanding at an Accelerated Rate, Say some Physicists

How Many of 2017’s Retail Bankruptcies Were Caused by Private-Equity’s Greed?

March 2018, Claire's has declared bankruptcy. It was purchased by the private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $3.1 billion in 2007.

Iheartmedia which owns Iheartradio, formerly named Clear Channel, is another company owned by private equity firms that has recently declared bankruptcy.

I notice that news reports never mention the people that own and run these private equity companies who buy companies, load them with debt, pay themselves huge amounts, then declare bankruptcy, leaving their debtors, including pension plans, unpaid.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 20, 2017

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, there have been 35 retail bankruptcies this year, almost double the 18 retail bankruptcies of last year. The filing by Toys ‘R’ Us this week was the latest.

What many of these retailers have in common is that they were taken private in leveraged buyouts (LBOs) by private equity (PE) firms. Toys ‘R’ Us, Payless ShoeSource, The Limited, Wet Seal, Gymboree Corp., rue21, and True Religion Apparel were all LBOs. Gander Mountain can also be included in this list if you reach back to its 1984 LBO. Far too many LBOs are simply asset stripping operations by Wall Street vultures who load the company with enormous debt, then asset strip the cash from the company by paying themselves obscene special dividends and management fees.

On June 12 of this year, the official committee of unsecured creditors to Payless, consisting primarily of Payless stores’ landlords and vendors, alleged in a filing in U.S. bankruptcy court that the private equity firms involved in the Payless LBO in 2012, Golden Gate Capital and Blum Capital, had “siphoned over $400 million out of Payless.


In April, Aisha Al-Muslim, a reporter for Newsday, the Long Island, New York newspaper, found the following after an in-depth review of court documents and data from top research firms like S&P Global Market Intelligence:

“…43 large retail or supermarket companies, which owned chains with 10 or more locations, have filed for bankruptcy in the United States since January 2015. The 43 companies controlled 52 brick-and-mortar chains. Twenty-one of the companies had stores on Long Island. Retailers selling only online and restaurants were excluded from the count.

“Of those 43 companies, 18 — more than 40 percent — were owned by private equity firms. The remainder were public or private companies or owned by a hedge fund.”


Following are some of the largest retail names that have sought bankruptcy protection thus far this year:

Toys “R” Us
The Limited
Wet Seal (Second bankruptcy filing)
Eastern Outfitters
BCBG Max Azria
RadioShack (Second bankruptcy filing)
Gander Mountain
Payless ShoeSource
Cornerstone Apparel
True Religion Apparel
Vitamin World
Michigan Sporting Goods Distributors
Marbles Holdings LLC


That 'Man Flu' Study Is From BMJ's Irresponsible Holiday Issue

Ed Cara

Every December, for about the last 30 years according to the New York Times, the BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal) publishes a batch of studies and papers that sound way more fun than the typical science fare.


Another paper claims to have found evidence of the “man-flu”—the phenomenon of men turning into deflated balloons and becoming sicker than women the moment they feel the sniffles coming on.


they’re also not meant to be taken so seriously, as even the BMJ admits, noting that it welcomes submissions to their Christmas issue that are “light-hearted fare and satire,” but not outright spoofs or fabrications.

As Gizmodo has pointed out before, though, these joke articles get harder to laugh at every year. Not just because of the political hellscape we live in, where our president and his cronies have spent the last year systematically undermining virtually every scientific institution supported by the government, but also because of how sloppy the media tends to be when covering these papers.

The man flu paper in particular has led to a chorus of media headlines and articles proclaiming with a straight face that “new research” shows that the man flu is real, and credulously quoting the paper’s author, Kyle Sue, a Canadian family doctor, as he advocated for “male-friendly spaces, equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs, to be set up where men can recover from the debilitating effects of man flu in safety and comfort.”

Sue’s paper isn’t a new study though, the kind where we imagine lab coats shuffling around the lab testing mice and men. It’s just a review of some interesting research, in both animals and humans, that suggests men generally have weaker immune systems than women and offers some reasons why. The reasons range from plausible—testosterone and estrogen could weaken and strengthen the immune system, respectively—to seemingly tongue-in-cheek:


Update: We heard back from Dr. Sue, who insists his research is legit.

“The research is all real, despite the humorous lens it’s being examined through,” he told Gizmodo. “The comments I make about ‘man caves’, etc. are meant to be tongue-in-cheek, to get a laugh out of a common stereotype. In fact, I think both women and men could benefit from recovering in a safe, warm, comfortable place when ill!”


“This topic has the potential to strongly affect humankind,” said Sue. “If there indeed is a difference in immune systems between men and women, does that mean we should be dosing vaccines differently? What about medications?”
Men are way over represented in scientific research already.

New tax scam

Following is a summary of Volunteer Tax Alert 2018-03 - "Information About a Tax Refund Scheme" - issued by the IRS. Click here to view the full document on the IRS website. Don't forget that Volunteer Tax Alerts are required to be available at all Tax-Aide sites in paper or electronic format.

Issue: The Internal Revenue Service is aware of a new scheme where criminals, after stealing client data from tax professionals, are filing fraudulent tax returns which include the taxpayers' real bank accounts for the refund deposits. The fraudulent refunds are deposited into the real taxpayers' accounts. The criminal subsequently contacts the taxpayers requesting/demanding the funds be returned and instructs the taxpayers how to return the funds. The taxpayers who follow these instructions are sending the money to the actual criminal and not the IRS.

Required Corrective Actions: Taxpayers should be alert to any unusual activity such as receiving a tax refund they did not request. Taxpayers who receive a direct deposit refund that they did not request (or did not file a tax return for) should take the following steps:

Contact the Automated Clearing House (ACH) department of the bank/financial institution where the direct deposit was received and ask the bank or financial institution to return the refund to the IRS.
Call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The fast-melting Arctic is already messing with the ocean’s circulation, scientists say

by Chris Mooney March 14, 2018

Scientists studying a remote and icy stretch of the North Atlantic have found new evidence that fresh water, likely melted from Greenland or Arctic sea ice, may already be altering a key process that helps drives the global circulation of the oceans.

In chilly waters on either side of Greenland, the ocean circulation “overturns,” as surface waters traveling northward become colder and more dense and eventually sink, traveling back southward toward Antarctica at extreme depths. This key sinking process is called convection. But too much fresh water at the surface could interfere with it, because with less salt, the water loses density and does not sink as easily.


“Until now, models have predicted something for the future … but it was something that seemed very distant,” said Oltmanns, the lead scientist behind the research, which was published this week in Nature Climate Change.

“But now we saw with these observations that there is actually freshwater and that it is already affecting convection, and it delays convection quite a lot in some years,” she continued.

One caution is that this is an observational study, not a prediction for the future — and Oltmanns said “nobody really knows” how much freshwater is enough to significantly slow or shut down the circulation, which is technically called the “Atlantic meridional overturning circulation,” or AMOC. Still, it suggests that key processes that have raised long-standing concern are already happening.



Alabama Sheriff Legally Took $750,000 Meant To Feed Inmates, Bought Beach House

Who owns water? The US landowners putting barbed wire across rivers

The Trump administration officially withdrew an Obama-era rule that would set higher standards for the treatment of animals whose meat could be sold as organic.

Wells Fargo & Co Chief Executive Tim Sloan’s made $17.6 million in 2017, up 35 percent from the previous year, despite opting out of the bank’s annual incentive plan.

U.S. regulators are preparing to sanction Wells Fargo for receiving commissions on auto insurance policies it helped force on more than half a million drivers, people with direct knowledge of the probes told Reuters.

Can we fix it? The repair cafes waging war on throwaway culture

A North Carolina congressional candidate says the website she used when she campaigned for another office is now owned by a Russian.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports a man listing a Russian residence bought the website address that Democrat Linda Coleman used when she ran for lieutenant governor two years ago.

EPA drops rule requiring mining companies to have money to clean up pollution

US coal hasn’t set aside enough money to clean up its mines

Russian Hackers Attacking U.S. Power Grid and Aviation, FBI Warns

A new U.S. advisory board created to help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions and rhinos is stacked with trophy hunters, including some members with direct ties to President Donald Trump and his family.

One year into Donald Trump's presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is weaker worldwide than it was under his two predecessors. Median approval of U.S. leadership across 134 countries and areas stands at a new low of 30%, according to a new Gallup report.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Former Equifax executive charged with insider trading
[Even if you don't directly invest in stocks, you might get a pension that does. And some government entities invest part of their pension money in the stock market. If these investments don't do as well as expected, the taxpayers might have to make up the difference. Insider trading doesn't just allow people to unfairly gain, it also hurts many others. ]
‘Highly fit’ middle-age women nearly 90% less likely to develop dementia decades later, study finds

Ford Recalls Over 1.3 Million Cars, Says Steering Wheels Can Come Off

Zinke: Too many people enter national parks for free

Male escort’s allegations about 40 gay priests sent to Vatican

Trump's Family Trips Cost Taxpayers Nearly As Much In A Month As Obama's Cost In A Whole Year

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Extreme winter weather becoming more common as Arctic warms, study finds

Oliver Milman
Tue 13 Mar 2018 12.00 EDT
Last modified on Tue 13 Mar 2018 12.02 EDT

The sort of severe winter weather that has rattled parts of the US and UK is becoming more common as the Arctic warms, with scientists finding a strong link between high temperatures near the pole and unusually heavy snowfall and frigid weather further south.

A sharp increase in temperatures across the Arctic since the early 1990s has coincided with an uptick in abnormally cold snaps in winter, particularly in the eastern US, according to new research that analyzed temperature data from 1950 onwards.

Extreme cold winter weather is up to four times more likely when temperatures in the Arctic are unusually high, the study found.


“There’s a remarkably strong correlation between a warm Arctic and cold winter weather further south,” said Judah Cohen, a climatologist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research. “It’s a complex story – global warming is contributing to milder temperatures but is also having unforeseen consequences such as this.”

The Arctic has just experienced its toastiest winter on record, with parts of the region 20C (68F) warmer than the long-term average, a situation scientists have variously described as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”. The far north latitudes are warming around twice as quickly as the global average, diminishing glaciers and sea ice and imperiling creatures such as polar bears.


The research didn’t look at the reasons behind the trend of see-sawing temperatures between the Arctic and areas to the south but Cohen said it was consistent with the theory that the polar vortex – which shot to public consciousness during a 2014 cold spell – is being disrupted as the earth heats up.

The polar vortex is a low pressure system that swirls around the polar region. Sometimes it can stray further south, bringing cold Arctic air with it. There is continuing conjecture over the impact climate change is having but some scientists believe warming temperatures could be weakening the polar vortex’s flow, allowing it to meander towards the equator.


Richard Alley, a leading glacier and climate expert at Penn State who was not involved in Cohen’s research, said the study is “fascinating” and “important” but added the discrepancy between Arctic temperatures and winter weather elsewhere could have other drivers, such as a warm Gulf of Mexico feeding extra energy into storms along the US east coast.


The Arctic’s role is seen quite differently by some other scientists, however, who point out that occasional outbursts of cold weather haven’t altered the trend that winters in the US northeast have been getting warmer, particularly since the 1970s.
[I don't see the basis for saying these scientists see things "quite differently". It is perfectly compatible to point out that on average winters have been getting warmer, while at the same time there are more frequent temporary bursts of polar incursions.]


Get Used to Nor'easters — Arctic Warming May Mean More Severe Winters in the Northeast
By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | March 13, 2018 12:52pm ET


According to the study, data from past decades showed that fall snow cover in Siberia increased as the Arctic warmed, which cooled northeastern Eurasia. Meanwhile, melting sea ice fueled warmer temperatures in northwestern Eurasia.

These air-temperature changes close to the surface led to similar changes higher up in the atmosphere. This, in turn, affected the jet stream — a conveyer belt of wind that carries warm air and moisture around the globe — by increasing its "waviness," making jetstream waves dive farther south and stretch farther to the north. In turn, this extra amplification can alter the movement of cold air masses near the pole, otherwise known as the polar vortex, Cohen explained.

And this disturbance of the polar vortex could end up shaping conditions that worsen winter weather in the U.S.

"The cold air that's normally confined to the Arctic, it's kind of dammed in by the polar vortex itself — because winds normally blow from west to east inside the polar vortex, so it acts as barrier, keeps the cold air to the north and the mild air to the south," Cohen said. "When it breaks down, the cold air that's penned up in the Arctic spills to lower latitudes, and that's when you get those episodes of severe winter weather."


Saturday, March 10, 2018

More Downpours: Increase in Heaviest Precip Events

Feb. 28, 2018

Rivers continue to swell in the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. More than 10 inches of rain fell last week in Arkansas and Louisiana. While the individual weather pattern may allow for heavy rain, the heaviest of this precipitation is increasing as the world warms from climate change.

A warmer world supercharges the water cycle, leading to heavier precipitation. To start, a warmer atmosphere creates more evaporation — for every 1°F of warming, the saturation level is increased by about four percent. With more water evaporating into the atmosphere, there is more available to condense into precipitation, and it’s coming down in bigger downpours. The national map shows where this change has been the most dramatic, indicating that the precipitation in the heaviest one percent of rainfall days is getting heavier.

Science has attributed heavy rain to climate change for decades, but now we can analyze the role of climate change in individual extreme rainfall events. An analysis from our World Weather Attribution team indicated the rain from Hurricane Harvey over Texas was about three times more likely and 15 percent more intense from climate change. Another WWA analysis found that the Louisiana deluge of August 2016 was about 10 percent heavier because of climate change.

The nationwide trends of days with one-, two-, and three-inch rainfalls are also increasing.


Even in the absence of urban development where there is more rain runoff, heavy rain will lead to more flooding. This means extreme flooding will become more common, resulting in more property damage. Over time, flood maps may have to be redrawn, which will have an impact on property values and insurance rates. Damage from the 2016 Louisiana floods was $10.4 billion and totaled $125 billion from Harvey.

tags: severe weather, extreme weather

Thursday, March 08, 2018


Billy Graham was a pernicious influence on the White House

In Canada, more than 500 doctors and residents, as well as over 150 medical students, have signed a public letter protesting their own pay raises.
The group say they are offended that they would receive raises when nurses and patients are struggling.
"These increases are all the more shocking because our nurses, clerks and other professionals face very difficult working conditions, while our patients live with the lack of access to required services because of the drastic cuts in recent years and the centralization of power in the Ministry of Health," reads the letter, which was published February 25.

Former CIA director John Brennan has launched a blistering attack on Donald Trump, branding the US President “unstable, inept, inexperienced and unethical”.

Alan Turing, a British code-breaker during World War II who was later subjected to chemical castration for homosexual activity, has received a royal pardon nearly 60 years after he committed suicide.

There is talk that the Fed might raise interest rates to counter “wage inflation”. Wages for working people have been depressed for decades, even more so since the Great Recession. If the Fed induces a recession every time wages start to rise, obviously they will stay depressed. The way the Fed counters inflation is by raising interest rates, which causes higher unemployment, which reduces demand for goods and services, and for higher wages. How can working people ever get ahead with the Fed blocking them?

Recently, when I was doing taxes for free for a young man who started his first job last year, I mentioned that when he could he should try to save money, that he could earn interest on it. He asked “What's interest?” And it wasn't because of the current low interest rates, he just didn't know what interest is!

Bonnet Carré Spillway Opens for 12th Time Since 1931 to Protect New Orleans by allowing flood waters from the swollen Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain.


Commercial pesticides: Not as safe as they seem

University of California, Irvine scientists expect the world's fisheries to be, on average, 20 percent less productive in the year 2300, with those in the North Atlantic down nearly 60 percent and those in much of the western Pacific experiencing declines of more than 50 percent.

15,000 scientists warn time is running out to save the planet

Spring is springing earlier in polar regions than across the rest of earth

New study: Snowpack levels show dramatic decline in western states

a new study shows that humor can be an effective means to inspire young people to pursue climate change activism. At the same time, fear proves to be an equally effective motivator and has the added advantage of increasing people's awareness of climate change's risks.

Data centres and smartphones will be the most damaging information and communications technologies to the environment by 2040, according to new research from W Booth School's Lotfi Belkhir.

Heart attacks often follow dramatic changes in outdoor temperature

Air pollution linked to brain alterations and cognitive impairment in children

A lifetime of regular exercise slows down aging, study finds

Texas health officials have warned tens of thousands of cheerleaders that they may have been exposed to the mumps last month at a national competition in Dallas.

Shock in Milwaukee over 'cluster' outbreak of HIV and syphilis, including babies and teens

An Ohio republican lawmaker who routinely touted his Christian faith and anti-LGBT views has resigned after being caught having sex with a man in his office.

Homophobes Might Be Hidden Homosexuals
[Previous studies have also indicated this.]

By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018


Precancerous lesions in the mouths of non-smokers are more likely to progress to cancer than those in smokers, new research from the University of British Columbia has found.
The researchers suggest that the marked difference in outcomes is due to a difference in the root causes of the lesions. In smokers, the OED is likely the result of environmental factors, whereas in non-smokers, genetic susceptibility or mutations are likely to blame.

Warm showers and ball exercises may help women during childbirth

Racial differences in age at breast cancer diagnosis challenges use of single age-based screening guidelines

Living in a sunnier climate as a child and young adult may reduce risk of MS

How cats and dogs are consuming and processing parabens

Cannabis compound may help curb frequency of epileptic seizures

Opioids not better at reducing pain to improve function for chronic back, knee and hip pain

Infants who receive multiple vaccinations not at increased risk for infection

Strict eating schedule can lower Huntington disease protein in mice

Helmet use associated with reduced risk of cervical spine injury during motorcycle crashes

We're not addicted to smartphones, we're addicted to social interaction

Study suggests why food assistance for homeless young adults is inadequate

Putin was 'good' and Obama was 'bad': Former Russian trolls reveal online work to create fake news

According to the World Resources Institute, if 30 percent of the beef in every burger in America were replaced by mushrooms, it would reduce greenhouse emissions by the same amount as taking 2.3 million vehicles off of our roads.

Smoking e-cigarettes delivers cancer-causing chemicals that get into the body — and popular fruity flavors appear to be the worst, researchers reported Monday.

Trump: We will try to block Russian interference in 2018 elections

I appreciate the fact that Trump is now acknowledging this problem. I can't imaging he will ever be able to accept that the interference helped him win, it would be too threatening to him, but none of us is perfect. And it is counterproductive to criticize people when they take positive steps. It will be interesting to see how Trump acts on this matter in the future.

I wonder if the poisoning in London of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, presumably by the Russians, brought home to him the nature of the Russian leadership, and what they are willing to do.

David Jackson, USA TODAY Published 5:57 p.m. ET March 6, 2018 | Updated 7:10 p.m. ET March 6, 2018

President Trump claimed Tuesday his administration will work to stop Russian meddling in future elections, and suggested the possibility of paper ballots as a backup for electronic voting.

"I think you have to be really watching very closely — you don't want your system of votes to be compromised in any way," Trump said during a joint news conference with the Swedish prime minister. "We won’t allow that to happen."

While critics have said the administration has not done nearly enough to confront the Russian threat, Trump said that "we are doing a deep study and coming out with some very strong suggestions on the ‘18 election" in November.

Trump has previously disputed troves of evidence that Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election. On Tuesday, he acknowledged the Russian meddling and said others may have been involved as well, but they had no influence on the outcome.

"Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever," Trump said. "But certainly there was meddling and probably there was meddling from other countries and maybe other individuals."


For Frank Russell, reinterpreting his schizophrenia as shamanism helped his symptoms.

A Mental Disease by Any Other Name
By Susie Neilson


According to the World Health Organization, schizophrenia is universal. “So far, no society or culture anywhere in the world has been found free from … this puzzling illness,” states a 1997 report.


Adding to the complexity, schizophrenia looks different across cultures.6, 7 Several studies by the World Health Organization have compared outcomes of schizophrenia in the U.S. and Western Europe with outcomes in developing nations like Ghana and India. After following patients for five years, researchers found that those in developing countries fared “considerably better” than those in the developed countries.8 In one study, nearly 37 percent of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia in developing countries were asymptomatic after two years, compared to only 15.5 percent in the U.S. and Europe. In India, about half of people diagnosed with schizophrenia are able to hold down jobs, compared to only 15 percent in the U.S.9

Many researchers have theorized that these counterintuitive findings stem from a key cultural difference: developing countries tend to be collectivistic or interdependent, meaning the predominant mindset is community-oriented.10, 11 Developed countries, on the other hand, are usually individualistic—autonomy and self-motivated achievement are considered the norm.


one study of “sociocentric” differences between ethnic minority groups within the U.S. found results suggesting that “certain protective aspects of ethnic minority culture”—namely, the prevalence of two collectivist values, empathy and social competence—“result in a more benign symptomatic expression of schizophrenia.”

“Take a young man with schizophrenia who’s socially unable to engage,” Keshavan says. “In a collectivistic culture, he’s still able to survive in a joint family with a less fortunate brother or cousin … he’ll feel supported and contained. Whereas in a more individualistic society, he’ll feel let go, and not particularly included. For that reason, schizophrenia tends to be highly disabling [in individualistic countries].” Individualist cultures also “[diminish] motivation to acknowledge illness and seek help from others, whether from therapists or in clinics or residential programs.” notes Russell Schutt, a leading expert on the sociology of schizophrenia.


Whether or not Frank’s psychosis would have made him a shaman in another time or place, three central factors are present in the Dagara tribal intervention (early intervention, community, and purpose) that parallel the three factors that Keshavan, Schutt, Rosenheck, and others cite as complements to pharmaceutical drugs: early intervention,16 community support, and employment. Dick had perhaps missed the boat on the Dagara initiation ceremony, but Malidoma advised Dick to incorporate other aspects of his approach into his son’s life, including rituals and other purposeful activities.



He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He's Worried About An Information Apocalypse.
“What happens when anyone can make it appear as if anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did?" technologist Aviv Ovadya warns.
[When I read about the program available to modify images without a great amount of time and trouble, I thought about this, and planned to post about it. I expect to start seeing fake images right away. Considering that many people, both conservative and liberal, never learn to use judgement on whether a post seems reasonable, I fully expect them to be continually taken in by fake images.]

A Weaker Gulf Stream Means Trouble for Coastal New England

How the United States Looked Before the EPA

Chicago neighbourhood rescue alley cats after homeless man who cared for them dies of hypothermia

First plastic-free aisle is an example for other supermarkets to follow

Executives at the world’s most ambitious “clean coal” plant knew for years about serious design flaws and budget problems but sought to withhold key information from regulators before their plans collapsed, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.

Exotic animals disappear from Florida wildlife sanctuary after fake ad

Opioid overdoses increased by a third across US in 14 months, says CDC

President Trump wants to loosen the rules for monitoring pollution discharges from sewers and industrial facilities as part of his infrastructure push. That could affect areas seeing more rain because of climate change, experts say.

Sunday, March 04, 2018


Qatar Refused to Invest in Kushner’s Firm. Weeks Later, Jared Backed a Blockade of Qatar

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown’s Legacy: A $6.1 Billion Budget Surplus in California

GOP Pushes 80 Anti-Environment Riders, Dark Money Rule Changes in Spending Bill

The story behind the viral photo of a teacher in Ghana showing students Windows on a blackboard

Shortly before Trump announced tariffs, his former adviser dumped millions in steel-dependent stocks
A Feb. 22 SEC filing shows Icahn sold off his $31.3 million stake in the Manitowoc Company, which is a leading global manufacturer of cranes for heavy construction based in Manitowoc, Wis., according to the company’s website. Since Trump’s announcement Thursday, Manitowoc’s stock has plummeted to about $26. Icahn — who has had majority interest in several companies including Motorola, Xerox, Family Dollar and Pep Boys — had sold his shares for about $32 to $34 each, according to the SEC disclosure, which was first reported by Think Progress.

Why almost no one is making a living on YouTube

Saturday, March 03, 2018


Arctic spring is starting 16 days earlier than a decade ago, study shows
Climate change is causing the season to start comparatively earlier the further north you go, say scientists

Yes, bacon really is killing us
After I saw this yesterday, I saw a poster someone shared on Facebook saying bacon makes people happy. I wouldn't be surprised if it was created by someone in the bacon industry.

Nuts, Especially Tree Nuts, and Improved colorectal cancer (CRC) Survival

The 1% grabbed 82% of all wealth created in 2017

Nutrition and Brain Health

The Food and Drug Administration is warning that patients and doctors should more fully understand the potentially life-threatening risks of combining anti-anxiety or sleep medications with prescription opioids.

These Republicans Claim Climate Caucus Credentials, but Their Votes Tell Another Story

President Trump’s public lands agenda is extremely unpopular

More than 100 cities now mostly powered by renewable energy, data shows

Total ban on bee-harming pesticides likely after major new EU analysis

Person with forged identity nominated Trump for Nobel peace prize, officials say

The World's Last Male Northern White Rhino is Sick

Equifax says hackers stole more than previously reported

Democratic Senators urge Trump administration to resume Equifax probe

Did HUD really need to spend $31,000 of taxpayer money on that dining furniture for Ben Carson?

Comparing Trump to other presidents

A teen was told he likely had the flu. It turned out to be late-stage cancer

Lyft vs Uber

Russian disinformation distorts American and European democracy

Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines

Brave Senior Rescue Dog Sacrifices Himself To Save His Family When They Encounter A Black Bear

On Russia, Americans trust special counsel Mueller more than Trump, USA TODAY poll shows

People who swim in the sea are at significantly higher risk of stomach bugs, ear problems and other illnesses than those who stick to the sand, research suggests.
The team behind the findings suggest the increased chances of becoming unwell may be down to pollution of coastal waters by sources such as farm run-off and sewage.

North Atlantic right whales may face extinction after no new births recorded

Mirrors have revealed something new about manta rays – and it reflects badly on us

Daylight Savings Time starts Mar. 11, 2018

Mar 11, 2018 - Daylight Saving Time Starts

When local standard time is about to reach
Sunday, March 11, 2018, 2:00:00 am clocks are turned forward 1 hour to
Sunday, March 11, 2018, 3:00:00 am local daylight time instead.

Sunrise and sunset will be about 1 hour later on Mar 11, 2018 than the day before. There will be more light in the evening.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Cuts To The National Weather Service Are Dangerous

Please read the whole article at the following link.

Marshall Shepherd
Feb. 17, 2018


The National Weather Service (NWS) is a jewel of the United States Government. I trust them for my weather information (by the way, so do you even if you may not realize it). Their computer models, satellites, radars and meteorologists are at the heart of most weather information that you consume on television and digitally. They also provide our valuable watches and warnings. Yet, President Trump's proposed 2019 budget includes dangerous cuts to the National Weather Service.


I would like to propose a challenge to the reader. What do each of the following have in common?

  • An oil refinery manager in Houston trying to determine how to fortify infrastructure as Hurricane Harvey approaches.
  • A farmer assessing needs for irrigation of her peanut crop.
  • An air traffic controller routing a plane near turbulence or a thunderstorm.
  • The mayor of Ft. Myers, Florida assessing who should evacuate as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida.
  • The U.S. Navy evaluating options for moving its Norfolk-based fleet as Hurricane Sandy approached.
  • Firefighters and officials evaluating where to dispatch resources to battle wildfires in California.
  • A school superintendent deciding whether to send buses onto roads as a snowstorm approaches St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • A TV meteorologist providing guidance as potentially severe storms approach a town hosting an outdoor concert.

The answer is that they all rely on sound and timely weather information. The NWS is the agency in our country charged with that task. According to Avery Anapol writing in The Hill,

President Trump’s 2019 White House budget reportedly includes a proposed cut to the National Weather Service (NWS) that would eliminate hundreds of jobs. As part of an 8 percent cut to the agency’s budget, the Trump administration would nix 355 jobs, including 248 forecasters, saving an estimated $15 million, according to The Washington Post...The budget would also cut millions of dollars to the agency’s surface and marine observations program, the tsunami-warning program and activities that invest in weather modeling.


NWS union director Dan Sobien sums up his thoughts on proposed cuts in The Hill,

There simply will not be the staff available on duty to issue the forecasts and warnings upon which the country depends