Monday, April 30, 2018

A Hawaiian island got about 50 inches of rain in 24 hours. Scientists warn it's a sign of the future

By Heidi Chang
Apr 28, 2018 | 3:00 AM | HONOLULU


This week the National Weather Service said nearly 50 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

Now, as Kauai continues to recover, scientists warn that this deluge on April 14 and 15 was something new — the first major storm in Hawaii linked to climate change.

"The flooding on Kauai is consistent with an extreme rainfall that comes with a warmer atmosphere," said Chip Fletcher, a leading expert on the impact of climate change on Pacific island communities.

He noted that the intense rainfall not only triggered landslides, it also caused the Hanalei River to flood and carve a new path through Hanalei. Homes, cars and animals were swept away in raging waters, but no residents or visitors died. Some were airlifted to safety or rescued by boat.

Members of a bison herd were displaced or carried off by floodwaters, and some were rescued from the ocean after swimming for their lives. "Poor buffalo," said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, who saw video and photos of the animals roaming around businesses and neighborhoods.


"Just recognize that we're moving into a new climate, and our communities are scaled and built for a climate that no longer exists," said Fletcher, a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Kawika Winter, a natural resource manager, put the storm in perspective.

"This is the most severe rain event [in Hawaii] that we know about since records started being kept in 1905,"


"In the Pacific Islands, we don't have the luxury of debating whether climate change is real," he said. "Climate change is affecting us, and has been for some time. There are striking similarities with the flooding that we experienced on Kauai and the recent flooding in California. The warmer atmosphere is holding more moisture and that builds up until it meets with cold dry air, creating this massive unstable system, which causes what some meteorologists are now referring to as a 'rain bomb.'"

This week, a study published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change said that California can expect more volatile weather — swinging from dry to wet years — because of human-caused climate change.


"People have been describing this latest storm as a 100-year-flood," Winter said. "But it's more likely that the next one is just a few years off, given the reality of climate change.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather

Marco Rubio Says Republican Tax Plan Helps Corporations, Not U.S. Workers

By Nicole Goodkind On 4/30/18 at 2:50 PM


Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, voted with his party for the tax cuts late last year, though he warned that they would not create the dramatic economic growth his party was hoping for. Still, as recently as April 16th, he was happily repeating GOP talking points. "I want to thank you for fighting for the American worker," Rubio said with President Donald Trump and local business leaders at a panel discussion at the time. "And they've been beat up and ignored for far too long. Whether it's taxes, whether it's jobs sent to other countries, this tax reform is about them."

Now, less than two weeks later, he’s saying the plan was a handout to large corporations, and did not benefit American taxpayers. In an interview with The Economist published Friday, Rubio said the trickle down economics that the tax plan relied on hadn’t worked. “There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” he said. “In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”

Rubio said the plan placed value on automation over jobs for American workers. “I have no problem with bringing back American car-manufacturing facilities, but, whether they’re American robots or Mexican robots, they’re going to be highly automated,” he said. “My relatives are firefighters and nurses and teachers and electricians. These are people who are not all that excited about the new economy.”


Documents show ties between university, conservative donors

April 30, 2018

Virginia’s largest public university granted the conservative Charles Koch Foundation a say in the hiring and firing of professors in exchange for millions of dollars in donations, according to newly released documents.

The release of donor agreements between George Mason University and the foundation follows years of denials by university administrators that Koch foundation donations inhibit academic freedom.

University President Angel Cabrera wrote a note to faculty Friday night saying the agreements “fall short of the standards of academic independence I expect any gift to meet.” The admission came three days after a judge scrutinized the university’s earlier refusal to release any documents.

The newly released agreements spell out million-dollar deals in which the Koch Foundation endows a fund to pay the salary of one or more professors at the university’s Mercatus Center, a free-market think tank. The agreements require creation of five-member selection committees to choose the professors, and grant the donors the right to name two of the committee members.

The Koch foundation enjoyed similar appointment rights to advisory boards that had the right under the agreements to recommend a professor’s firing if he failed to live up to standards.


Parsons, who now works for the activist group UnKoch My Campus, said the documents are strikingly similar to agreements the Koch Foundation made with Florida State University that caused a similar uproar.


Robert Reich
April 30, 2018·

It’s bad enough the Koch brothers are buying off politicians who will cut their taxes and gut regulations. But no less dangerous is their quieter and more insidious buy-off of colleges and universities. According to a new report, the Charles Koch Foundation has been given a say in the hiring and firing of professors in exchange for millions of dollars in donations to George Mason University.

The Koch brothers now fund 350 programs at over 250 colleges and universities, including many public institutions, across America. You can bet that funding doesn’t underwrite research on inequality and environmental justice. As states cut funding for higher education, wealthy interests are filling the void and pushing their views on young people.

One-third of American households can’t afford food, shelter or medical care

Sept 27, 2017

Nearly half of Americans have a tough time paying their bills, and over one-third have faced hardships such as running out of food, not being able to afford a place to live, or not having enough money to pay for medical treatment.

Those are some of the grim findings from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s first-ever survey of financial well-being, released Tuesday.

The numbers parallel MarketWatch’s own State of the American Wallet dashboard, which tracks how Americans are faring financially with data that updates in real time.


Meanwhile, people in the top 1% control a growing share of the nation’s wealth.


The CFPB, which has faced an uncertain future under the Trump administration, surveyed more than 6,300 people in 2016 for its survey.


Sunday, April 29, 2018


Movies and TV shows have been encouraging darkness for a few decades. Not good for our society. It helps the admiration many people feel for such as Trump, encourages selfishness and disconnection from others.

Some Things Are Worse Than Paying Taxes

How These 4 Different Personality Types Find Motivation

How Different Retirement Income Is Taxed

Over the course of three years, archaeologists in Peru uncovered the graves of 140 children, all killed by a swift cut to their chest, presumably to rip out their hearts. The massive gravesite is shedding light on the mysterious ancient ChimĂș Empire, and raises question on what could have driven these people to do such a heinous act.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Human Evolution May Be Lowering Academic Achievement

Reminds me of the old saying: Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
If we don't reduce our birth rate, we doom ourselves.
But those who do behave responsibly are causing the genes that predispose people to plan for the future to decline, which is what we would expect.
Which of course will decrease the proportion of people who act responsibly in this matter.

Bridget M. Kuehn
January 27, 2017

Delayed childbearing among groups who carry genes linked with higher educational attainment may be causing these traits to become less common in some human populations, according to an Icelandic study. The study was published online January 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Epidemiological studies have found that genetics may account for as much as 40% of a person's educational attainment, explained lead author Augustine Kong, PhD, a statistician at deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of Amgen, based in Reykjavik, Iceland, which analyzes the human genome. Genome-wide association studies have revealed that some combinations of gene variations are linked to a greater likelihood of pursuing higher levels of education, he noted.

However, what might appear to be a genetic asset comes at a cost, in evolutionary terms. Studies in the United States and other countries have shown that individuals who stay in school longer have fewer children (Rindfuss RR et al. Demography. 1996;33:277-290).


"Using data from Iceland that include a substantial fraction of the population we show that individuals with high scores tend to have fewer children, mainly because they have children later in life," Dr Kong and colleagues write.

Women paid the highest fertility price. For each standard unit higher score, women had 0.084 fewer children, whereas men had 0.054 fewer children. Women's age at first childbirth also increased more than men with each higher standard unit score (0.59 vs 0.46).

The link between having a higher score and fewer children persisted even after the researchers adjusted for actual educational attainment. This suggested that the effect is not fully explained by individuals delaying childbearing while they were in school. The authors speculated that the score may be linked not only to cognitive ability but also to genetic traits that predispose people to "long-term planning and delayed gratification."

Between 1910 and 1990, this trend of later childbearing and fewer children resulted in a decrease in the average score for educational attainment-linked genes in a separate subset of 129,808 Icelanders. The decline in these educational attainment-linked genes was occurring at a pace of about 0.01 standard units on average per decade.

"In evolutionary time, this is a blink of an eye," write the authors. "However, if this trend persists over many centuries, the impact could be profound."


By Jason Daley
February 3, 2017


The research indicates that the drop in education-associated genes could also lead to a 0.4 percent drop in the average IQ of the general population per decade. While that is not a huge impact in the short term, Stefansson says it could have larger effects over the course of centuries.

In 2012, Harvard researcher Jonathan Beauchamp identified similar effects in the U.S. population. So is it time to dig out that old DVD of Idiocracy and prepare for a dimming future? Stefansson is not too worried.

“In spite of the negative selection against these sequence variations, education levels have been increasing for decades. Indeed, we control the environment in which these genetic factors play out: the education system,” he says in a press release. “If we continue to improve the availability and quality of educational opportunities, we will presumably continue to improve the educational level of society as a whole. Time will tell whether the decline of the genetic propensity for education will have a notable impact on human society.”

[We may be able to influence people to get more education, but that would not necessarily cause a proporionate increase in in people's ability or willingness to act for the long term welfare of our species and world. Like the college educated people who have many children.]



8 signs you're not drinking enough water — even if you think you are

Subway is closing 500 stores after years of declining sales.

SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential case of data theft.
The Atlanta bank said Friday that a former employee may have stolen the data and an investigation is ongoing. Compromised information could include names, addresses, phone numbers and account balances.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation on Thursday to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

Why a paid climate doubter switched sides

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Nearly every mass killer is a man. Why aren’t we talking about that?

Gary Younge
April 26, 2018


while a relatively small proportion of mass killers in North America are Muslim, across the globe they are almost all men.

There will be, though, no appeals for moderate men to denounce toxic masculinity, no extra surveillance where men congregate, no government-sponsored schemes to promote moderate manhood, or travel bans for men. Indeed, the one thing that is consistently true for such incidents, whether they are classified as terrorist or not, will for the most part go unremarked. Obviously not all men are killers. But the fact that virtually all mass killers are men should, at the very least, give pause for thought. If it were women slaying people at this rate, feminism would be in the dock. The fact they are male is both accepted and expected. Boys will be boys; mass murderers will be men.

This week’s atrocity in Toronto, where Alek Minassian stands accused of killing 10 and wounding 14, gives us yet another chance to reflect on the destructive capacity of masculinity – not least because it may have been the principal motive for this attack.


On the one hand, there is the hatred of women, born for the most part from a sense of entitlement. These men do not just resent the fact that they can’t get a girlfriend. They feel women are denying them the sex that is rightfully theirs. They belong to broadly the same demographic as the Gamergate movement earlier this decade, in which male gamers systematically harassed female game developers and media critics, subjecting them to rape and death threats, and publishing details of their personal lives online.

These men, wherever they are, now have more political space than they used to. There is considerable overlap with the American hard right. And they have a role model in the White House in a president who was accused of rape by his first wife, boasts of grabbing women by the genitals, makes up sexual stories about women on the internet, and openly disparages their looks and intellect. In the 2005 book TrumpNation, the future president tells Timothy O’Brien his favourite part in Pulp Fiction is when “Sam [Jackson] had his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up: ‘Tell that Bitch to be cool.’ Say, ‘Bitch be cool.’ I love those lines.”


An Everytown for Gun Safety report last year revealed that between 2009 and 2016 more than half of mass shootings in the US were related to domestic or family violence. In a third of the public mass shootings during that time period the gunman had a history of violence against women – domestic abuse is a more common trait among mass murderers than mental illness.


If ever there was an illustration of how a system of patriarchy demeans and depletes us all, this is it. Unable to take advantage of the male privileges they believe they are owed, they feel inadequate and grow resentful, and a handful become violent. Often awkward, shy and unconfident, they cannot meet the standards of machismo that patriarchy demands. They think feminism will destroy them. But in fact it is their greatest chance of liberation, since the less women are forced to conform to preconceived notions of femininity, the more space there is within masculinity for them to be themselves. As such, they are not only the perpetrators of misogyny but the products and, ultimately, the victims of it.

Republican official Dan Adamini apologizes, resigns after calling for 'another Kent State'

Gretel Kauffman, Christian Science Monitor
February 6, 2017

A Republican official has apologized for calling for "another Kent State" massacre in response to recent university protests.

Dan Adamini, the secretary of the Marquette County Republican Party in Michigan, tweeted that he was "sorry" for a pair of social media posts in which he referenced the infamous fatal 1970 shooting of four unarmed college students by National Guardsmen during an anti-Vietnam War protest, and suggested that a similar incident might be the "only solution" to modern-day protests at the University of California, Berkeley, and elsewhere.

"Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State, perhaps," Mr. Adamini wrote in a tweet last Thursday. "One bullet stops a lot of thuggery." In a similar Facebook post, he added, "They do it because they know there are no consequences yet."

The posts, which have since been deleted, received widespread backlash, and were quickly condemned by Kent State University and the Michigan Democratic Party.


Associated Press Published 9:31 a.m. ET Feb. 9, 2017 | Updated 9:41 a.m. ET Feb. 9, 2017

A Michigan Republican has resigned after causing outrage by suggesting that protesters at University of California, Berkeley, should be shot.

Dan Adamini, secretary of the Marquette County GOP, told the Mining Journal of Marquette he stepped down so he isn’t “a distraction and a hindrance to the work of the party.”


John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, chaired a nonprofit that has promoted misleading and false anti-Muslim news, some of which was amplified by a Russian troll factory, an NBC News review found.
The group’s authors also appeared on Russian media, including Sputnik and RT News, criticizing mainstream European leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron.

Music Modernization Act Unanimously Passes House of Representatives

Democratic senators are demanding information about what they call the Koch brothers’ “infiltration” of the Trump administration, charging that Koch-linked personnel have secured key federal jobs and are determining US environmental and public health policy.

Some antidepressants and bladder medicines could be linked to dementia, according to a team of scientists who are calling for doctors to think about “de-prescribing” them where possible.
Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, which are also prescribed for pain and to help with sleeping, and one of the SSRI class, paroxetine (also known as Seroxat), are implicated by the largest ever study to look at this possible risk.

An 11Alive investigation uncovered a Georgia nursing home resident died from a scabies infestation. A forensic pathologist who reviewed the case estimates millions of parasitic mites essentially ate her alive over several months or possibly years.

A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction blocking the Trump administration from cutting grants to Planned Parenthood that pay for a teen pregnancy prevention program in numerous states.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Some birds are so stressed by noise pollution it looks like they have PTSD

I would like to kick the person responsible for the big bass sound that travels so far. Hard.

by Sarah Kaplan January 9, 2018


“Noise is causing birds to be in a situation where they're chronically stressed . . . and that has really huge health consequences for birds and their offspring,” said Rob Guralnick, associate curator of biodiversity informatics at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

It would be a stretch to say noise hurts birds' mental health — the animals have not been evaluated by an avian psychologist. But in a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Guralnick and his colleagues say there is a clear connection between noise pollution, abnormal levels of stress hormones, and lower survival rates.


Humans suffering from PTSD or chronic fatigue syndrome, and lab mice that have been put through traumatic experiences, respond by muting their hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis — the cascade of chemical responses that is triggered by stress.

“You can imagine being in a state of constant arousal and hypervigiliance,” Lowry explained. “If there was not some way to desensitize these systems, that would result in a state of chronic fatigue. No organism is capable of essentially running on turbo all the time. So after a period of time the physiology adapts — perhaps to conserve resources.”

It's an adaptation to an untenable situation, Lowry said, but not a particularly good one; this tamping down of the HPA axis is tied to an overall deterioration of health. A human is likely to experience cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal issues, extreme fatigue.



Dangerous outbreak of E. coli illness from romaine lettuce expands, with 19 states affected

FDA re-examining Parkinson's drug Nuplazid after reports of deaths

Extreme and exceptional drought conditions have contributed to wildfires in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, delaying the growth of or destroying grass and wheat used to feed cattle in spring.

More than a thousand low-lying tropical islands risk becoming “uninhabitable” by the middle of the century — or possibly sooner — because of rising sea levels, upending the populations of some island nations and endangering key U.S. military assets, according to new research published Wednesday.

Trump’s next NASA administrator is a Republican congressman with no background in science

When a consumer has a complaint about a bank, whether it's dealing with a mortgage or a credit card, right now there's a place to lodge that complaint online.
The Trump administration's Mick Mulvaney was in the news again this week because he said he wanted to shut down public access to this popular government database at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Scott Pruitt Before the E.P.A.: Fancy Homes, a Shell Company and Friends With Money

By Steve Eder and Hiroko Tabuchi
April 21, 2018


A review of real estate and other public records shows that Mr. Pruitt was not the sole owner: The property was held by a shell company registered to a business partner and law school friend, Kenneth Wagner. Mr. Wagner now holds a top political job at the Environmental Protection Agency, where Mr. Pruitt, 49, is the administrator.

The mortgage on the Oklahoma City home, the records show, was issued by a local bank that was led by another business associate of Mr. Pruitt’s, Albert Kelly. Recently barred from working in the finance industry because of a banking violation, Mr. Kelly is now one of Mr. Pruitt’s top aides at the E.P.A. and runs the agency’s Superfund program.

At the E.P.A., Mr. Pruitt is under investigation for allegations of unchecked spending, ethics lapses and other issues, including his interactions with lobbyists. An examination of Mr. Pruitt’s political career in Oklahoma reveals that many of the pitfalls he has encountered in Washington have echoes in his past.

According to real estate records, the 2003 purchase of the house for $375,000 came at a steep discount of about $100,000 from what Ms. Lindsey had paid a year earlier — a shortfall picked up by her employer, the telecom giant SBC Oklahoma.

SBC, previously known as Southwestern Bell and later as AT&T, had been lobbying lawmakers in the early 2000s on a range of matters, including a deregulation bill that would allow it to raise rates and a separate regulatory effort to reopen a bribery case from a decade earlier. Mr. Pruitt sided with the company on both matters, state records show.


David Walters, a former Oklahoma governor and Democrat, described Mr. Pruitt as someone who looked out for himself over the needs of constituents, especially during his years as attorney general.

“I was disappointed to find him operating in a hyperpartisan manner and seemingly representing corporate interests over Oklahoma citizens,” Mr. Walters said.


Mr. Pruitt’s main partner was Robert Funk, the business magnate who ran Express Services, the staffing firm. The sale price was not disclosed, but news reports suggested they paid over $11.5 million, with Mr. Funk carrying the biggest load.

Two months after the deal closed in November 2003, Mr. Funk attended a news conference where Mr. Pruitt announced legislation that would make it harder for Oklahoma workers to claim certain kinds of injury compensation, something that would benefit companies like Mr. Funk’s.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018


With marijuana use during pregnancy on the rise, a new study led by the Colorado School of Public Health shows that prenatal cannabis use was associated with a 50 percent increased likelihood of low birth weight, setting the stage for serious future health problems including infection and time spent in Neonatal Intensive Care Units.
"Growing evidence suggests prenatal cannabis exposure has a detrimental impact on offspring brain function starting in the toddler years, specifically issues related to attention deficit disorder," Crume said. "But much of the research on the effects of prenatal cannabis on neonatal outcomes was based on marijuana exposures in the 1980s and 1990s which may not reflect the potency of today's cannabis or the many ways it is used."

Exposure to moderate to high caffeine levels while in the womb is linked to excess weight gain in early childhood.
Caffeine passes rapidly through tissues, including the placenta, and takes the body longer to get rid of during pregnancy. It has been linked to a heightened risk of miscarriage and restricted fetal growth.

Prolonged acetaminophen use during pregnancy linked to increased ASD and ADHD risk

Teens who admit to texting while driving may be convinced to reduce risky cellphone use behind the wheel when presented with financial incentives such as auto-insurance apps that monitor driving behavior

Dementia trend shows later onset with fewer years of the disease
"Prevention of stroke and reduced impact of stroke are great advances, but neither completely explains the trend we are seeing," Dr. Seshadri said. "We are looking at other causes, such as lower burden of multiple infections because of vaccination, and possibly lower levels of lead or other pollutants in the atmosphere. Early education and nutrition might also play a role."

ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control ) data show that up to 80% of teenagers and young adults who contracted measles in 2017 had not been vaccinated.
Not only can measles cause severe complications in adults, it is infants who are the most affected, as they cannot be vaccinated and have a six-fold risk of death according to analysis of ECDC data from 2013-2017 of this age group. Infants can only be protected through so-called 'herd immunity', which is when 95% of the population in a country are vaccinated with two doses of measles vaccine.

Sense of control and meaning helps protect women from anxiety

For most people, it's better to start taking drugs for multiple sclerosis (MS) early on rather than letting the disease run its course

Antibiotic resistance can be caused by small concentrations of antibiotics

In the largest federally funded non-drug clinical trial for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), patients with the most severe and persistent symptoms achieved robust and sustained relief by learning to control symptoms with minimal clinician contact

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease appeared more likely than patients without the disorder to develop Parkinson disease, while anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy for inflammatory bowel disease was associated with reduced incidence of Parkinson in a new study

If you've had a bad day at work thanks to rude colleagues, doing something fun and relaxing after you punch out could net you a better night's sleep.

Sigmoidoscopy reduces colon cancer risk for men, but not women
an explanation for the disparity in screening outcomes could be that men have an earlier peak incidence of CRC than women. Thus, with one-time screening, the age at screening may be too early to capture most women who will develop cancer.

Is peer review biased? Female health researchers who applied for grants from Canada's major health research funder were funded less often than male counterparts because of potential bias, and characteristics of peer reviewers can also affect the result, found a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

When compared with nondrinkers, men and women who had one or more alcoholic drinks per day had an overabundance of oral bacteria linked to gum disease, some cancers, and heart disease. By contrast, drinkers had fewer bacteria known to check the growth of other, harmful germs.

Even a single mindfulness meditation session can reduce anxiety

Liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes still a danger to children despite recent decline in exposures

Early-life obesity and depression may be driven by shared abnormalities in brain regions that process rewards, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Why zero-calorie sweeteners can still lead to diabetes, obesity

Walmart's CEO earns 1,188 times as much as the company's median worker
Doug McMillon earned $22.8 million during the retailer's last fiscal year, which ended on January 31, according to a company filing.
Walmart's median employee, meanwhile, earned $19,177 in the same period.

Older people should drink more water to reap the full cognitive benefits of exercise, new research suggests.

Jury finds pastor Kenneth Adkins guilty of 8 charges in child molestation case
Adkins tweeted a statement after the June Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, that said, "been through so much with these Jacksonville Homosexuals that I don't see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!"
Since that point, Adkins' Twitter account, which shows he supports Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, has been closed to non-subscribers.

Judge finalizes $25 million settlement in Trump’s fraud case
A federal judge finalized the $25 million settlement between President Trump and students of his now shuttered Trump University on Monday, with New York’s attorney general claiming “victims of Donald Trump’s fraudulent university will finally receive the relief they deserve.”

Understand The Difference Between Second Cousins And Cousins Once Removed

Monday, April 23, 2018

Pruitt promised polluters EPA will value their profits over American lives

Dana Nuccitelli
Mon 23 Apr 2018


When the EPA regulates pollutants, the practice often yields what are called “co-benefits.” For example, limiting allowable mercury pollution can force dirty coal power plants to install pollution-control equipment or shut down. Since coal plants produce other pollutants like soot, the regulations not only reduce mercury levels, but also particulate matter in the air. The latter isn’t an intended consequence of the regulations, but creating cleaner air and healthier Americans are unintended “co-benefits” of limiting another pollutant.

In doing cost-benefit analyses, the EPA accounts for all direct benefits and indirect co-benefits of its regulations. Certain industry groups and conservative pundits don’t like that approach, because they care more about polluter profits than they do about clean air and healthy Americans. However, during the George W. Bush administration in 2003, the Office of Management and Budget issued a guidance saying that it’s important to consider co-benefits:


Pruitt wants to disregard this Bush-era guidance and instead consider only the costs and benefits of regulating the “targeted pollutant” (mercury, in our example). They want to ignore the lives saved by also incidentally reducing particulate matter pollution. To be blunt, this makes no sense, unless your goal is to protect polluters at the expense of public and environmental health.


At the Heartland Institute gathering, Pruitt also promised that the Trump administration will stop using the ‘social cost of carbon’ – an estimate of how much carbon pollution costs society via added climate damages – in crafting regulations. The Obama administration first started using the social cost of carbon in cost-benefit analyses of various government regulations. For example, when the Department of Energy considers stricter energy efficiency standards for appliances, it will account for the benefits of slowing climate change by reducing electricity consumption. Industry groups challenged that policy in court, but the Obama administration won.

Under Trump and Pruitt, the EPA has started engaging in bogus accounting to deflate the estimated social cost of carbon, and now Pruitt has promised they’ll stop using it altogether. It’s simply another way for the EPA to put industry profits above public health benefits.


It’s worth remembering that “The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.” The mission of the Pruitt EPA seems to be maximizing polluting industry profits at the expense of human health and the environment.



Warning! Avoid all chopped store-bought romaine lettuce

Fox News host Sean Hannity is linked to a group of shell companies that have spent $90 million buying hundreds of homes across the U.S through the help of foreclosures and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Guardian reported Sunday.

World Trade Center 7 Report Puts 9/11 Conspiracy Theory to Rest

One in eight bird species is threatened with extinction, global study finds

As climate scientists predicted, glaciers are vanishing due to rapidly warming temperatures.

Bloomberg gives $4.5 million to help U.S. keep Paris climate accord commitment

Why rural America voted for Trump

Power to the party: Why political reforms can be bad for democracy

Earth’s mammals have shrunk dramatically, and humans are to blame

Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea cases expected to emerge worldwide

Reporter publishes tapes he claims are of Trump inflating his wealth to get a higher spot on the Forbes 400 list
[No surprise if it's true.]

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Good-Looking People Tend to Vote Republican Because They've Had Easier Lives, Says Study

Children's health is disproportionately affected by climate change

Listening to an NPR interview with a republican complaining about Democrats filibustering Trump nominees. Of course, no mention that when Obama was president, the republicans were in the majority in Congress most of the time, and they blocked many of President Obama's nominees, including most judicial ones, with no need for a filibuster.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Free tax preparation from Tax-Aide

Tax-Aide is a free program by volunteers to do tax returns. It's an AARP Foundation program. You don't have to be a member of AARP or retired. The following link tells you about it, how to find a location near you, what documents you need to bring.

See the following link for what is and is not in Scope

In Scope:

• Wages, interest, dividends, capital gains/losses,
unemployment compensation, pensions and other
retirement income, Social Security benefits
• Self-employment income if no employees, no
inventory, no losses, no depreciation, no business use
of home, and no other complicating factors
• Most income reported on Form 1099-MISC
• Schedule K-1 that includes only interest, dividends,
capital gains/losses or royalties
• Itemized deductions, including noncash
contributions to charity that total
no more than $5,000
• Cancellation of nonbusiness credit card debt
• IRA contributions — deductible or not
• Most credits, such as earned income tax credit,
education credits, child/additional child tax credits,
child/dependent care credit, premium tax credit,
simplified method foreign tax credit on investments,
and retirement savings credit
• Repayment of first-time homebuyer credit
• Estimated tax payments
• Installment agreement request for taxes due
• Injured spouse allocation, depending on state
• Health Savings Accounts (HSA)*
• Amendments to filed returns
• Prior three tax years’ returns

Monday, April 16, 2018


A US prisoner who spent 17 years in jail for a robbery he did not commit has spoken of his relief that researchers found his lookalike.

Donald Trump’s US businesses have raked in $15.1m in revenue from political groups and federal agencies since he began his run for the presidency, according to a report released on Monday.

Russia and the Syrian regime have been accused by western diplomats of denying chemical weapons inspectors access to sites in the town of Douma, where an attack killed dozens and prompted US-led missile strikes over the weekend.

US and UK blame Russia for 'malicious' cyber-offensive

An asteroid similar in size to one that exploded more than 100 years ago in Russia's Tunguska region in Siberia gave Earth a close shave on Sunday (April 15), just one day after astronomers discovered the object.
The asteroid, designated 2018 GE3, made its closest approach to Earth at around 2:41 a.m. EDT (0641 GMT), whizzing by at a distance of 119,400 miles (192,000 kilometers), or about half the average distance between Earth and the moon, according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

A tornado that cut a path of destruction and destroyed homes in Greensboro in Sunday had wind speeds of 135 mph, making it an EF-2 twister.

'Scary' lung disease COPD now afflicts more women than men in U.S.
Former first lady Barbara Bush is one of many women battling with COPD

The EPA broke the law when it failed to tell lawmakers on House and Senate spending  committees that it was allocating more than $43,000 to install a soundproof phone booth in Administrator Scott Pruitt's office last year, according to a congressional watchdog agency.

In the era of Donald Trump, New England’s biggest GOP donor is funding Democrats

I am glad countries are working together to deal with poisoning of Syrians by chemical weapons, but it is surreal to hear Trump claiming sympathy for people, including women and children, who were killed there. His rolling back of regulations and other actions to deal with global warming will result in many more deaths.

The world’s first electrified road — which charges the batteries of electric cars and trucks as they drive over it — has opened near Stockholm, Sweden.
[How clean this is depends on the source of the electricity.]

Sunday, April 15, 2018

They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants

I suggest reading the whole article.

The judges assigning people to uncertified programs should be investigated to see if the judges are being paid off or have a financial interest in the company.

By Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter / October 4, 2017


Across the country, judges increasingly are sending defendants to rehab instead of prison or jail. These diversion courts have become the bedrock of criminal justice reform, aiming to transform lives and ease overcrowded prisons.

But in the rush to spare people from prison, some judges are steering defendants into rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry, an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

The programs promise freedom from addiction. Instead, they’ve turned thousands of men and women into indentured servants.

The beneficiaries of these programs span the country, from Fortune 500 companies to factories and local businesses. The defendants work at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Oklahoma, a construction firm in Alabama, a nursing home in North Carolina.

Perhaps no rehab better exemplifies this allegiance to big business than CAAIR. It was started in 2007 by chicken company executives struggling to find workers. By forming a Christian rehab, they could supply plants with a cheap and captive labor force while helping men overcome their addictions.

At CAAIR, about 200 men live on a sprawling, grassy compound in northeastern Oklahoma, and most work full time at Simmons Foods Inc., a company with annual revenue of $1.4 billion. They slaughter and process chickens for some of America’s largest retailers and restaurants, including Walmart, KFC and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. They also make pet food for PetSmart and Rachael Ray’s Nutrish brand.

Chicken processing plants are notoriously dangerous and understaffed. The hours are long, the pay is low and the conditions are brutal.

Men in the CAAIR program said their hands became gnarled after days spent hanging thousands of chickens from metal shackles. One man said he was burned with acid while hosing down a trailer. Others were maimed by machines or contracted serious bacterial infections.

Those who were hurt and could no longer work often were kicked out of CAAIR and sent to prison, court records show. Most men worked through the pain, fearing the same fate.

“They work you to death. They work you every single day,” said Nate Turner, who graduated from CAAIR in 2015. “It’s a work camp. They know people are desperate to get out of jail, and they’ll do whatever they can do to stay out of prison.”


At some rehabs, defendants get to keep their pay. At CAAIR and many others, they do not.

Legal experts said forcing defendants to work for free might violate their constitutional rights. The 13th Amendment bans slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States, except as punishment for convicts. That’s why prison labor programs are legal. But many defendants sent to programs such as CAAIR have not yet been convicted of crimes, and some later have their cases dismissed.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Noah Zatz, a professor specializing in labor law at UCLA, said when presented with Reveal’s findings. “That’s a very strong 13th Amendment violation case.”


The program has become an invaluable labor source. Over the years, Simmons Foods repeatedly has laid off paid employees while expanding its use of CAAIR. Simmons now is so reliant on the program for some shifts that the plants likely would shut down if the men didn’t show up, according to former staff members and plant supervisors.


Men who were injured while at CAAIR rarely receive long-term help for their injuries. That’s because the program requires all men to sign a form stating that they are clients, not employees, and therefore have no right to workers’ comp. Reveal found that when men got hurt, CAAIR filed workers’ comp claims and kept the payouts. Injured men and their families never saw a dime.


Brandon Spurgin was working in the chicken plants one night in 2014 when a metal door crashed down on his head, damaging his spine and leaving him with chronic pain, according to medical records. CAAIR filed for workers’ compensation on his behalf and took the $4,500 in insurance payments. Spurgin said he got nothing.

Janet Wilkerson acknowledged that’s standard practice.

“That’s fraudulent behavior,” said Eddie Walker, a former judge with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. He said workers’ comp payments are required to go to the injured worker. “What’s being done is clearly inappropriate.”

Three years later, Spurgin’s still in pain and can no longer hold a full-time job.



There have been nearly 300,000 GoFundMe campaigns in the US related to homelessness over the last three years. Some see it as a sign of a broken social system and dwindling options for those in need

I'm British, and I experienced the biggest culture shock when I started working in the US

How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You)

Saturday, April 14, 2018


With little notice, President Donald Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday to dramatically overhaul national clean air standards and make it easier for industry to pollute in areas where it’s already dangerous to breathe.

Avoid Gulf stream disruption at all costs, scientists warn

Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show

Any more than five drinks a week on average can take years off a person’s life, the new study of more than half a million people around the world shows.

Sitting too much may weaken areas of the brain associated with memory, a new study found

Friday, April 13, 2018


The 6 Rs: making a sustainable impact
The 6 Rs include: reinvent/rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse/repair, recycle, replace/rebuy sustainably.

5 Rs - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle, in that order.

Thinking About Thinking: Tiny Changes, Big Results

Based on the FERS payments formula from the Congressional Research Service, Paul Ryan would receive an annual pension payment of $84,930 if the speaker remains on the job until January.

The massive tax cuts signed into law in December, which Republicans said would pay for themselves, will balloon the U.S. deficit in years ahead, the Congressional Budget Office said on Monday

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Glaciers in Alaska's Denali National Park are melting faster than at any time in the past four centuries because of rising summer temperatures, a new study finds.

globally marine heatwaves have increased over the past century in number, length and intensity as a direct result of warming oceans.

People living near oil and gas facilities along Colorado's Northern Front Range may be exposed to hazardous air pollutants, including carcinogens like benzene, that could pose health risks above levels deemed acceptable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Artificially altering the climate system to limit global warming to 1.5C could increase the risks of wildfires in some areas, new research suggests.

Long-term exposure to high levels of road traffic and ozone significantly increases the risk of asthma symptoms, asthma attacks or the need for use of asthma medications, according to a new study published in the European Respiratory Journal

The world installed a record 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity, far more than the net additions of any other technology - renewable, fossil fuel or nuclear.

Lizards, mice, bats, possums, and other vertebrates are important pollinators too

Organic fertilizers are an overlooked source of microplastic pollution

LSU researchers have discovered a new relationship between climate change, monarch butterflies and milkweed plants. It turns out that warming temperatures don't just affect the monarch, Danaus plexippus, directly, but also affect this butterfly by potentially turning its favorite plant food into a poison.

The Sahara Desert has expanded by about 10 percent since 1920


The San Francisco spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, James Schwab , resigned after the agency’s recent Northern California sweep, saying he couldn’t continue to do his job after Trump administration officials made false public statements about a key aspect of the operation.

Republicans Giving Up House Seats At A Rate Not Seen In Decades
[The republicans have sold our our country to the power elite, like the Koch brothers, now they are leaving the country to the Democrats, whom they will blame when the damage becomes evident.]

Every criticism of the Republican tax plan is proving true

Trump’s Tax Cuts Didn’t Benefit U.S. Workers, Made Rich Companies Richer, Analysis Finds

The republicans have sold our our country to the power elite, like the Koch brothers, now they are leaving the country to he Democrats, whom they will blame when the damage becomes evident.

By Nicole Goodkind On 4/10/18 at 4:46 PM


Trump and Republican leadership have long touted their tax cuts as a massive boon to America’s working class, if not through direct tax reductions or refunds, then through the trickle-down effect of bonuses and wage increases from their employers who receive massive corporate cuts.


But a new analysis of all Fortune 500 companies found only 4.3 percent of workers will receive a one-time bonus or wage increase tied to the business tax cuts, while businesses received nine times more in cuts than what they passed on to their workers, according to Americans for Tax Fairness, a political advocacy group devoted to tax reform. The analysis also found that companies spent 37 times as much on stock buybacks than they did on bonuses and increased wages for workers.



When a young sperm whale washed up on a beach in southern Spain, scientists wanted to know what killed it. They now know: waste -- 64 pounds of it. Most of it plastic, but also ropes, pieces of net and other debris lodged in its stomach.

Final numbers on Maria in Puerto Rico: $90 billion in damage, some Cat 5 winds

More than half your body is not human

The states where disease and death are highest: A visual guide

Fake marijuana likely contaminated with rat poison has killed three people in Illinois and caused severe bleeding in more than 100 others, including a few in four other states.

The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is fake

Trump Tower Fire Death Update: Trump Lobbied Against Proposal to Make Sprinklers Mandatory

This Mysterious Marijuana Syndrome Is Relieved by Hot Showers

The Era of Fake Video Begins
[No doubt at all that this will be used for political purposes.
And that many people will fall for them, regardless of political orientation.
Also, it will make it easier for wrong doers who are caught on video to deny it, claim it is not real.]

March 2018 is 3rd warmest on record, many contrasts

tags:drug abuse

Monday, April 09, 2018


As the climate warms from the increase of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the last spring freeze is trending earlier and the first fall freeze is coming later. This means the growing season is getting longer, and so is the pollen season— whether it is from tree pollens in the spring, grass pollens in the summer, or ragweed in the fall. A study sampling 10 locations from Texas to Saskatoon, Canada indicated that pollen seasons lengthened between two to four weeks from 1995 to 2009, with the largest increases in the northernmost areas.

A new study finds that the months of November to February are seeing an increase in average tornado activity, with a shift away from the Southern Plains and a ramp-up over the favored terrain of “Dixie Alley,” including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.

Muscle Mass and less fat Linked to Breast Cancer Survival in New Study

NOAA Report: Today’s Damaging Floods Will Be Tomorrow’s High Tides

Bob Henson · March 28, 2018

Disruptive tidal flooding that now affects the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coastlines on 3 to 6 days per year will strike as often as 80 to 180 days a year by the 2040s, according to a major report from NOAA’s National Ocean Service released in February. These increases will be driven mainly by global sea level rise, the report notes—although human-produced climate change itself is not mentioned in the report (see commentary below)


Based on these values, just a modest one-foot increase in sea level will be enough to transform minor nuisance floods to damaging moderate floods. A further increase in sea level by 1.3 feet will make today’s minor flood a destructive major flood.


Climate change raises the stakes greatly when it comes to high-tide flooding. As oceans expand and ice sheets melt, global sea level has risen by an average of about 3 mm (0.12”) per year since the 1990s (see our February 15 post), but the rate has been accelerating. If this acceleration were to continue through the end of the century, global sea level rise between 2005 and 2100 would be about 65 cm (26”), more than double the rise of 11” that would occur if sea level rise stayed constant at 3 mm/yr. There’s a real risk that global sea level could rise by a meter (39”) or more this century, especially if Antarctic ice sheets poking into the ocean are destabilized by warming waters.


Even under the intermediate low scenario, which the planet may well vault past, we can expect high-tide flooding virtually every day by the 2090s along the western U.S. Gulf Coast, and on two out of three days along the northeast U.S. Atlantic coast. Under the intermediate scenario, high-tide flooding is possible every other day by the 2040s along the western Gulf Coast and one out of every three days along the Northeast coast by the 2040s, which arrive just 22 years from now.

The U.S. West Coast and the Pacific and Caribbean Islands are also in line for a dramatic boost in high-tide flooding, although the more rugged coastal topography means it will take till later this century for the more significant effects to kick in. High-tide flooding is projected to reach near-daily levels by the 2090s along the West Coast and in the U.S. Caribbean Islands.


In this powerful and sobering NOAA report, the lack of direct mention of the main cause of current global sea level rise—climate change produced by fossil fuel emissions—is itself striking, especially in the context of other developments. For example, Bloomberg reported on March 15 that FEMA’s strategic plan for 2018-2022 omits all mention of climate change, which had been prominent in the agency’s prior strategic plan.


The new NOAA and FEMA documents are hitting the streets after more than a year of climate-change dismissal and denial fostered at the top levels of the current presidential administration, most notably by President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Similar forces have been at play at the state level over the past few years. For example, legislators in North Carolina voted in 2012 to allow use of only historical trends rather than the expected climate-change-driven acceleration when planning for the risk of coastal sea-level rise. And in Florida, state officials reported being ordered not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications, including reports.


It’s human nature to ignore warnings unless they are reinforced in a variety of ways. Scientists ought to be free to invoke human-produced climate change as little or as much as they see fit in a given context. However, as long as a significant fraction of Americans continues to push climate change out of mind, there’s a case to be made for explicitly noting that it’s a real thing.

Saturday, April 07, 2018


Secret use of census info helped send Japanese Americans to internment camps in WWII

When police choose to kill

How the people of Cape Town changed their habits to push back the time when they run out of water

Russian ads designed to influence 2016 U.S. election

Russian-linked Twitter handles

Why Whales Got So Big

Hunger And Homelessness Are Widespread Among College Students, Study Finds

An American dad in Sweden now has plenty of family time

What to Teach Kids Instead of 'Stranger Danger'

Wednesday, April 04, 2018


National parks to rethink plan to hike entrance fees after widespread anger

EPA announces easing of car and truck emissions standards

Monday, April 02, 2018


Why do media interviewers, including NPR, never ask executives and politicians their income when they say they can't afford to pay workers a decent salary?

Limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius will not prevent destructive and deadly climate impacts, as once hoped, dozens of experts concluded in a score of scientific studies released Monday.

Overall, Trump is bad for our country and world, but I do like that he appears to be trying to deal with the way China steals intellectual property and uses currency manipulation to outbid our workers. However, his favorable treatment of Russia is not good.

Republican tax cuts not working out as the GOP said they would

at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida.

Hidden underwater melt-off in the Antarctic is doubling every 20 years and could soon overtake Greenland to become the biggest source of sea-level rise, according to the first complete underwater map of the world’s largest body of ice.

Opioid Use Lower In States That Eased Marijuana Laws

Two deaths, 54 other cases of severe bleeding tied to fake weed in Illinois

tags: drug abuse

Sunday, April 01, 2018


Madagascar's vanilla wars: prized spice drives death and deforestation

Trump plan could open Giant Sequoia monument to logging

WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water
Researchers find levels of plastic fibres in popular bottled water brands could be twice as high as those found in tap water

An enormous area of rubbish floating in the Pacific Ocean is teeming with far more debris than previously thought, heightening alarm that the world’s oceans are being increasingly choked by trillions of pieces of plastic.

Hackers Steal Credit Card Information for More Than 5 Million Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor Shoppers

This Common Word Makes You Sound More Negative Than You Want To

Learning a Little About Something Makes Us Overconfident