Wednesday, May 30, 2018


The average American worker takes less vacation time than a medieval peasant

A former sales representative for major drug manufacturer Insys Therapeutics, Inc. has admitted to charges she helped fuel the opioid addiction crisis by bribing doctors to prescribe a potent painkiller, authorities said.

Ivanka Trump Wins China Trademarks, Then Her Father Vows to Save ZTE

The president implied that children were being separated from their parents at the border because of a law enacted by Democrats.
Actually, the policy in question was enacted by his own administration.

Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS

Why Teachers Are Walking Out

Florida brewery unveils six-pack rings that feed sea turtles rather than kill them

Even republican conspiracy theorists find Trump's accusations that a spy had been “embedded” in the 2016 Trump campaign as part of a secret conspiracy to undermine a presidency and the Constitution to be unfounded.

I notice that many people who support the right of businesses to choose not to hire or serve people because of their shade of skin, sexual orientation, religion, etc., and to punish NFL players for kneeling instead of standing, are mad at ABC for firing Roseanne Barr.

Extreme Inequality Helped Cause Both the Great Depression and the Great Recession

Why economic inequality leads to collapse

How Income Inequality Makes Economic Downturns Worse

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


The weasel voice in journalism

Personality predicts musical preference
[Based on the big five dimensions. I wish they also included the honesty/humility dimension.]

Breitbart staffer recruited Sanders activist Bruce Carter to get African Americans to support the Republican—or stay home.

Harvard study: Black defendants get longer sentences from GOP-appointed judges
under a GOP-appointed judge, a black defendant receives sentences that are, on average, three months longer than from a Democratic-appointed judge.
The study also found that those same judges gave shorter sentences to women by an average of two months compared to “similar males.”

Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria Death Toll Could Exceed 4,000, New Study Estimates

EPA used disavowed research to justify putting dirtier trucks on the road
Trump's EPA has tried to justify the move by citing a privately funded study that claimed the trucks did not cause more pollution, but even the university that conducted the research has now cast doubt on the findings.
[Funded by a businessman who stands to gain from allowing dirtier trucks, by a person with no training or experience in the area, at ta location owned by the businessman.]

Newly released emails show senior Environmental Protection Agency officials working closely with a conservative group that dismisses climate change to rally like-minded people for public hearings on science and global warming, counter negative news coverage and tout Administrator Scott Pruitt's stewardship of the agency.
John Konkus, EPA's deputy associate administrator for public affairs, repeatedly reached out to senior staffers at the Heartland Institute, according to the emails.

Premature Birth Rates Drop in California After Coal and Oil Plants Shut Down

Al Bean, Apollo 12 moonwalker, has died

Few large US companies say they'll use tax savings to boost wages, CNBC survey finds

Harley-Davidson workers across the USA are reeling after a new report revealed a plant closure and layoffs were planned as the company expected to reap huge financial benefits from the federal corporate tax cut.
The Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer benefited from the tax cuts enacted Jan. 1, announced cuts of 350 jobs across the company in late January and on Feb. 5 approved a half-cent dividend increase and buyback of up to 15 million shares.


Republicans confirming Trump's court nominees at record pace

Senate GOP used “blue slips” to block Obama judicial nominees, but now wants to trash the practice

McConnell to End Senate’s ‘Blue Slip’ Tradition

Grassley rips up 'blue slip' for a pair of Trump court picks

Senate confirms Trump's 13th Circuit Court judge, disregards 'blue slip' protest

10 Famous Song Titles That Never Appear Lyrically in the Song

As of May 16, YouTube will take additional measures to provide song credit information for more than half a billion of the music videos that are currently available on YouTube’s website.
Entitled “music in this video,” the new feature will be located below the “show more” area underneath a given music video, and will identify all of the contributing artists, from the songwriters to the labels and publishers who represent said songwriters. The information will appear under music that is uploaded to official artist channels, as well as under the YouTube user content that uses recorded music.

5 Things That Can’t Be Copyrighted

'No words to describe the devastation' after Ellicott City flooding in Maryland

In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything
After eight years of budget cutting, Britain is looking less like the rest of Europe and more like the United States, with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty.

Only a Handful of Birds Survived the Dinosaur Killing Asteroid—Now Scientists Have Worked Out Why

Friday, May 25, 2018


At least 65 people died of heatstroke in Karachi since Saturday as the temperature hit 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 Fahrenheit) on Monday during the Holy month of Ramazan, Edhi confirmed.

If I were running for president, and the FBI had suspicions that some people in my campaign were secretly working for the Russians, I would want and expect the FBI to investigate. I find it very alarming that we have a president who feels otherwise.

The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that companies can use arbitration clauses in employment contracts to prohibit workers from banding together to take legal action over workplace issues.
The vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s more conservative justices in the majority. The court’s decision could affect some 25 million employment contracts.

Education Dept. dismantles team focused on fraud at for-profit colleges

General Thinking Tools: 9 Mental Models to Solve Difficult Problems

Facing Trump, a historian appeals to America's soul: 'I think we'll survive'

One of the students killed in the Santa Fe school shooting reportedly turned down romantic advances from Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the suspect in the deaths of 10 people and wounding of at least another 10.

How the "Global Cooling" Story Came to Be

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Michael Stoker, best known for coining the "lock her up" chant against presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Republican National Convention, will soon head the EPA's regional office that oversees the Pacific Southwest.

Trump’s aides defend civil service pay freeze and retirement cuts, but raise unanswered questions
May 10, 2018
[How long will it be before we are told that immigrants are necessary to fill positions in civil service because Americans won't take these jobs?]

Like everything else, Congress is underfunding the Social Security Administration
Jan. 19, 2018

Senators, watchdog hit Social Security over closed offices and poor service
May 15, 2018
[Congress underfunds them, then criticizes them for the predictable results. Conservatives are parasite, not wanting to pay for services they expect. ]

Fake Facebook accounts and online lies multiply in hours after Santa Fe school shooting

The FBI didn’t use an informant to go after Trump. They used one to protect him.

At least 15 People killed as cyclone Sagar hits the coast of Somaliland
Tropical cyclones moving from the Arabian Sea into the Gulf of Aden aren’t rare.
However, few tropical cyclones have penetrated the western Gulf of Aden in the satellite era.

Tropical Cyclone 1A, which developed late Wednesday between Yemen and Somalia, could become one of the first tropical storms on record to cross the entire Gulf of Aden—perhaps affecting even the tiny nation of Djibouti, where tropical cyclones are virtually unknown. TD 1A was named Cyclonic Storm Sagar by the Indian Meteorological Department, the agency with primary responsibility for tropical cyclone forecasting in the North Indian Ocean, including the Arabian Sea.

NHC Track Forecasts Were Best Ever in 2017; No Improvement in Intensity Forecasts

April 2018: Earth's 3rd Warmest April on Record
[Since the U.S. was colder than average, the rest of the globe was even higher than the average for the globe.]


Windows Essentials, including Windows Movie Maker, are no longer available from Microsoft. But someone posted the links to the archived version in the Microsoft community. A Microsoft agent left a comment thanking them for the info. I have a project that I made with Movie Maker and I want to be able to maintain it, so I was very happy to find this.

Starbucks Says Anyone Can Now Sit In Its Cafes — Even Without Buying Anything
[Which means more work for the low-wage employees in the same amount of time.]

Tax cut sparks record-setting $178 billion buyback boom

A D.C.-area doctor was sentenced to three years in prison for slipping an abortion pill into his pregnant ex-girlfriend’s drink, causing her to miscarry
The Washington Post was unable to reach Fiske Saturday, but WJLA reported that she didn’t want her ex-boyfriend to serve a long prison sentence.

Some countries have as high or higher rate of gun ownership than the U.S., but far lower rate of violence.

Iceland is awash in guns, yet it has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world.

Country - Firearms per 100 people - Firearm homicides per 100,000 - Percent of homicides by guns
Iceland - 30.3 - 0 - 0
Germany - 30.3 - 0.19 - 26.3
Austria - 30.4 - 0.22 - 29.5
Canada - 30.8 - 0.51 - 32
France - 31.2 - 0.25 - 9.6
Norway - 31.3 - 2 - 8.1
Sweden - 31.6 - 0.41 - 33.9
Finland - 45.3 - 0.45 - 19.8
Switzerland - 45.7 - 0.77 - 72.2
United States - 88.8 - 3.21 - 67.5

Parents in the U.S. are more willing to increase the chances that their children will commit suicide or violence, or be a victim of violence, than give up the gratification of being able to take out their anger and frustrations on their children.

There is also robust evidence of an increased incidence of aggression among children who are regularly spanked. A 2002 meta-analysis of 27 studies across time periods, countries, and ages found a persistent association: children who are spanked regularly are more likely to be aggressive, both as a child and as an adult.

Friday, May 18, 2018


A member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology evinced skepticism about climate change during an exchange with a witness about rising sea levels.
Instead, Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks offered an additional culprit: soil or rock deposits into the world's waters.
[He would be my representative if I still lived in Huntsville. When I lived there, he was my representative in the Alabama House.]

Here's why you're hearing "Yanny" – and why it's technically "Laurel"

President Donald Trump Thursday offered "protections" to Kim Jong Un if the North Korean dictator agrees to strike a deal with the U.S. whereby Kim would give up his nuclear weapons but also warned about potentially severe consequences if such a deal cannot be reached.
[Why in the world would anybody believe in promises of “protections” from Trump, who has such a record of not honoring agreements, both in his personal life, and as president?]

While the U.S. has #MeToo, Latin America's 'Ni Una Menos' spotlights femicides, violence against women

Here's how America's biggest companies are spending their Trump tax cuts. (It's not on new jobs)

Alix Langone
May 18, 2018

We’re starting to learn what America’s biggest companies are doing with the huge windfalls from President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. And the answer is great for investors – but not so great for workers.

That’s because many companies are returning huge portions of their billions in tax savings to shareholders in the form of share buybacks and dividend increases — not necessarily new hiring and investment.

Companies are on track to plow a record $1 trillion intoboosting dividends and buying back their own stock this year, says Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Buybacks are a strategy to boost stock prices – by reducing the number of shares outstanding, which artificially increases a company’s earning per share. But they do little to improve the economy.

Companies in the S&P 500 have also increased dividend payments to shareholders 182 times so far this year, giving investors greater incentive to buy and hold their shares, according to Silverblatt.


The record-breaking buybacks are especially great news for executives at the companies whose compensation is tied to the stock price because it makes the stock more valuable. Apple stock jumped following the buyback announcement on May 1 and is up more than 11% so far this month.


a survey by Morgan Stanley predicted that workers would get 13% of the tax windfall – compared to 43% that was expected to go to investors in the form of stock buybacks and dividend increases.


None of this behavior is a surprise for analysts, said Patcher, the Wedbush analyst. Companies like Apple have already been enjoying the fruits of the rising economic tide and have already made most of the investments that make sense to them, he said. This means they don’t need to put any of their newly earned cash toward new jobs and major projects, especially now that they’re even more profitable than before.


Thursday, May 17, 2018


Doctor Charged in $240 Million Fraud Case Allegedly Gave Chemo to Patients Who Didn't Need It

EU To 'Completely Ban' Outdoor Use Of Pesticides Blamed For Devastating Bees

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued Wednesday that the U.S. is experiencing a "growing crisis of integrity and ethics" in his first public speech since leaving the Trump administration almost two months ago.

That NASA climate science program Trump axed? House lawmakers just moved to restore it

Normal temperatures, generally defined to be the 30-year average at a location, are trending up across most of the U.S. Since 1980, the average continental U.S. temperature has risen 1.4°F.  In our analysis of normal temperatures in 244 cities across the country, 94 percent have risen, providing more evidence of the long-term warming trend on our planet.

April 2018 was Third Warmest April on Record, globally

Earth just had its 400th straight warmer-than-average month (33 1/3 years) thanks to global warming

Prosecutors allege in court documents filed Wednesday that the 10 children rescued from a Northern California home were punched, kicked, strangled, shot with a BB gun and subjected to waterboarding by their father and their mother did nothing to stop it.

tags: child abuse

Tallmadge D'Elia, 38, died on May 5 from parts of an electronic cigarette that penetrated his head, according to the autopsy report.
His body was found inside a St. Petersburg home that was on fire, the St. Petersburg police said.
D'Elia had suffered thermal injuries to about 80 percent of his body, including his chest, shoulder, abdomen, back, arm and hand, according to the autopsy report.

Earth just had its 400th straight warmer-than-average month thanks to global warming

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY Published 11:04 a.m. ET May 17, 2018 | Updated 11:33 a.m. ET May 17, 2018

It was December 1984, and President Reagan had just been elected to his second term, Dynasty was the top show on TV and Madonna's Like a Virgin topped the musical charts.

It was also the last time the Earth had a cooler-than-average month.

Last month marked the planet's 400th consecutive month with above-average temperatures, federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

The cause for the streak? Unquestionably, it’s climate change, caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels.


NOAA's analysis found last month was the 3rd-warmest April on record globally. The unusual heat was most noteworthy in Europe, which had its warmest April on record, and Australia, which had its second-warmest.

Portions of Asia also experienced some extreme heat: In southern Pakistan, the town of Nawabshah soared to a scalding 122.4 degrees on April 30, which may have been the warmest April temperature on record for the globe, according to Meteo France.

Argentina also had its warmest April since national records began there in 1961.

North America was the one part of the world that didn't get in on the heat parade. Last month, the average U.S. temperature was 48.9 degrees, 2.2 degrees below average, "making it the 13th-coldest April on record and the coldest since 1997," NOAA said.

For the year-to-date, the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year.

A separate analysis of global temperature data from NASA also found last month was the third-warmest April on record.

Another milestone was reached in April, also related to the number "400": Carbon dioxide — the gas scientists say is most responsible for global warming — reached its highest level in recorded history at 410 parts per million.

This amount is highest in at least the past 800,000 years, according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.



Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

by Tami Luhby @Luhby May 17, 2018: 3:44 PM ET

Nearly 51 million households don't earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That's 43% of households in the United States.

The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE -- Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what's needed "to survive in the modern economy."


California, New Mexico and Hawaii have the largest share of struggling families, at 49% each. North Dakota has the lowest at 32%.

Many of these folks are the nation's child care workers, home health aides, office assistants and store clerks, who work low-paying jobs and have little savings, the study noted. Some 66% of jobs in the US pay less than $20 an hour.

The study also drilled down to the county level.

For instance, in Seattle's King County, the annual household survival budget for a family of four (including one infant and one preschooler) in 2016 was nearly $85,000. This would require an hourly wage of $42.46. But in Washington State, only 14% of jobs pay more than $40 an hour.



On The Deficit, GOP Has Been Playing Us All For Suckers

Jared Kushner Failed to Disclose He Led a Foundation Funding Illegal Israeli Settlements Before U.N. Vote

Trump, Softening His Tone, Calls for More Talks on Car Emissions
President Trump on Friday directed his administration to negotiate with California over a proposed rollback of fuel economy and tailpipe emissions standards, a move that could avert a damaging court battle with the potential to sow chaos in the auto industry.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Amazon threatens to move jobs out of Seattle over new tax

Rupert Neate
Tue 15 May 2018 12.39 EDT
Last modified on Wed 16 May 2018 07.05 EDT

Amazon has threatened to move jobs out of its hometown of Seattle after the city council introduced a new tax to try to address the homelessness crisis.
'Tax Amazon': Seattle passes plan for corporate wealth tax to fund housing
Read more

The world’s second-biggest company has warned that the “hostile” tax, which will charge firms $275 per worker a year to fund homelessness outreach services and affordable housing, “forces us to question our growth here”.

Amazon, which is Seattle’s biggest private sector employer with more than 40,000 staff in the city, had halted construction work on a 17-storey office tower in protest against the tax.

Pressure from Amazon and other big employers, including Starbucks and Expedia, had forced councillors to reduce the tax from an initial proposal of $500 per worker. The tax will only effect companies making revenue of more than $20m-a-year.


Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, is the world’s richest man with a $133bn (133,000,000,000) fortune.


Starbucks had also fought against the tax, with its public affairs chief, John Kelly, accusing the city of continuing to “spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside”.

He added: “If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five-year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction.”
Where in the world does Kelly think the money will come from to feed and house these children he pretends to care about?


US study lays bare extreme pay-ratio problem

Note that the median is the point where half the workers make less, half make more. The difference in pay between the Executives and the lowest-paid workers must be far more.

Edward Helmore in New York
Wed 16 May 2018 05.00 EDT

The first comprehensive study of the massive pay gap between the US executive suite and average workers has found that the average CEO-to-worker pay ratio has now reached 339 to 1, with the highest gap approaching 5,000 to 1.

The study, titled Rewarding Or Hoarding?, was published on Wednesday by Minnesota’s Democratic US congressman Keith Ellison, and includes data on almost 14 million workers at 225 US companies with total annual revenues of $6.3tn.

Just the summary makes for sober reading.

In 188 of the 225 companies in the report’s database, a single chief executive’s pay could be used to pay more than 100 workers; the average worker at 219 of the 225 companies studied would need to work at least 45 years to earn what their CEO makes in one.

It also shows how some of the most extreme disparities in CEO-to-worker pay exist in industries that are considered consumer discretionary, such as fast food and retail, with a 977 to 1 disparity, one of the widest gaps.

“Now we know why CEOs didn’t want this data released,” says Ellison, who championed the implementation of the pay ratio disclosure rule as it was written into the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill of 2010. “I knew inequality was a great problem in our society but I didn’t understand quite how extreme it was.”

The requirements, long resisted by some of the largest US companies, simply tells companies to identify a median worker and then calculate how much the CEO makes in comparison to that person.


“If wealth is being concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, then obviously wealth is being dissipated from more and more people,” Ellison said.

“We have people who are paying more half their income in rent, and we have whole school districts where poverty is erasing any opportunity for Americans to climb that ladder.”


According to a recent Bloomberg analysis of 22 major world economies, the average CEO-worker pay gap in the US far outpaces that of other industrialized nations.

The average US CEO makes more than four times his or her counterpart in the other countries analyzed.


Companies singled out for criticism in the report include Marathon Petroleum, a gas station operator, whose CEO Gary Heminger took home an astonishing 935 times more pay than an average employee in 2017.


nderson’s advocacy group had previously identified at least five US firms where workers would have to work more than 1,000 years to catch up with their top bosses. The companies include the auto-parts maker Aptiv (CEO-worker pay ratio: 2,526 to 1), the temp agency Manpower (2,483 to 1), the amusement park owner Six Flags (1,920 to 1), Del Monte Produce (1,465 to 1), and the apparel maker VF (1,353 to 1).


The city of Portland, Oregon, for instance, recently imposed a 10% business tax surcharge on companies with top executives making more than 100 times what their median worker is paid – and a 20% surcharge on firms with pay gaps that stretch exceed 250 to 1.



Exercise beats genetics in determining amount of body fat

Older adults in England with fewer financial resources are more likely to develop dementia, according to new UCL research.

The number of school-age children and adolescents hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or attempts has more than doubled since 2008, according to a new Vanderbilt-led study published today in Pediatrics.

While calories from any food have the potential to increase the risk of obesity and other cardiometabolic diseases, 22 nutrition researchers agree that sugar-sweetened beverages play a unique role in chronic health problems. The disease risk increases even when the beverages are consumed within diets that do not result in weight gain.

Researchers in Germany have discovered that colon cancers are often resistant to existing drug treatments because they are composed of two different cell types that can replace each other when one cell type is killed. The study, which will be published May 16 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that combination therapies targeting both cell types at once may be more effective at treating colorectal cancer, the third highest cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

People who eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts and fish may have bigger brains … People with greater brain volume have been shown in other studies to have better cognitive abilities

There is a strong link between depression and anxiety disorders and autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT), a chronic thyroid condition affecting approximately 10 percent of the population. Scientists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now proven that special treatment could help many sufferers, especially women.

Six years of exercise -- or lack of it -- may be enough to change heart failure risk

Older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often a precursor to Alzheimer's, showed significant improvement with certain complex thinking and memory skills after exergaming, according to a new study
exergames (video games that also require physical exercise)

Mortality rates were higher during the 9 months of military liberation of Mosul, Iraq, than during the 29 months of exclusive Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) control, according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine.
[It's possible that mortality rates will ultimately be less than permanent contral by ISIS.]

Ibuprofen, given instead of antibiotics to women with uncomplicated urinary tract infection, (cystitis), leads to longer duration of symptoms and more serious adverse events related to the spread of the primary infection, according to a new study in PLOS Medicine by Ingvild Vik and colleagues from the University of Oslo, Norway.

An energy dense diet changes the brain and increases urge to eat

Reducing cholesterol could enhance T-cell cancer immunotherapy

In the Arctic, the Old Ice Is Disappearing
In the Arctic Ocean, some ice stays frozen year-round, lasting for many years before melting. But this winter, the region hit a record low for ice older than five years.

there is growing concern that as other countries adopt America’s love of air-conditioners, the electricity used to power them will overburden electrical grids and increase planet-warming emissions.

Dismal Western Snowpack Is a Climate "Warning Sign"

Blooms of harmful algae in the nation's waters appear to be occurring much more frequently than in the past, increasing suspicions that the warming climate may be exacerbating the problem.

Is Trump's decision to name Jerusalem the capital of Israel designed to provoke an attack on the U.S. that he thinks would allow him to increase his powers and increase his chances of winning a second term? Or is he just too dumb to anticipate the consequences?

Why Trump's new CDC director is an abysmal choice

At least 80 people have died as powerful storms swept through northern India, demolishing houses, uprooting trees as winds turned the skies brown with dust and sand, officials said Monday. More storms are expected in the region this week.
Less than two weeks ago, similar storms caused 134 deaths and injured another 400. The extreme weather comes amid withering summer heat and approaching monsoon rains.

Body clock linked to mood disorders
[From my own experience, I would say that at least part of the reason is that lack of sufficient sleep.]

Public Release: 16-May-2018 Elevated homocysteine identified as metabolic risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases Study led by researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University Temple University Health System

The amino acid homocysteine occurs naturally in the human body, generated as a byproduct of methionine metabolism. Genetic diseases or an imbalanced diet, with too much red meat or deficiencies in B vitamins and folic acid, however, can lead to high homocysteine levels, a condition known as hyperhomocysteinemia. This condition causes considerable harm to the heart but can also affect the brain.

Now, in a new study published online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University further reveal the extent to which elevated homocysteine damages the brain. In mice, they show that diet-induced increases in homocysteine levels directly contribute to the development of damaging neurofibrillary tangles, which result from the progressive accumulation of abnormal tau protein in the brain. Tau neurofibrillary tangle accumulation is a major contributor to nerve cell death, dementia, and neurodegenerative disease.


‘Impossible to Ignore’: Why Alaska Is Crafting a Plan to Fight Climate Change

By Brad Plumer
May 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — In the Trump era, it has mainly been blue states that have taken the lead on climate change policy, with liberal strongholds like California and New York setting ambitious goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, at least one deep-red state could soon join them: Alaska, a major oil and gas producer, is crafting its own plan to address climate change. Ideas under discussion include cuts in state emissions by 2025 and a tax on companies that emit carbon dioxide.

While many conservative-leaning states have resisted aggressive climate policies, Alaska is already seeing the dramatic effects of global warming firsthand, making the issue difficult for local politicians to avoid. The solid permafrost that sits beneath many roads, buildings and pipelines is starting to thaw, destabilizing the infrastructure above. At least 31 coastal towns and cities may need to relocate, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, as protective sea ice vanishes and fierce waves erode Alaska’s shores.


In addressing climate change, Alaska will have to grapple with its own deep contradictions. Roughly 85 percent of the state’s budget is funded by revenues from the production of oil, which is primarily exported to the rest of the United States, and local politicians have largely been unwilling to curtail the supply of fossil fuels. Both Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Mallott supported the recent decision by Congress to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, a move opposed by environmentalists.


To that end, the state’s climate task force released a draft in April that included a proposal for Alaska to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal by 2025, up from 33 percent in 2016. The draft also proposed cutting statewide greenhouse gas emissions one-third below 2005 levels by 2025, tackling sectors like transportation and “natural resource development,” which includes oil drilling operations.


California Reports On Dire Impacts of Climate Change, Fights Back by Becoming First State to Require Solar Panels on New Homes

By Pam Wright
May 9, 2018

Average night temperatures have risen, spring runoff from the Sacramento River has decreased, more wildfires are blazing and glaciers are shrinking in the Sierra Nevadas. All these are the dire impacts of climate change happening in California, according to a new report released Wednesday by the state's Environmental Protection Agency.

To be sure, the details of the report are disturbing, but the state is not taking the news lying down. Instead, it is continuing to lead the fight against human-caused climate change by imposing new measures to curb harmful greenhouse emissions.

On the same day the 350-page "Indicators of Climate Change in California" report was released, the California Energy Commission unanimously voted to approve measures requiring solar panels on all new homes, condos and multi-family buildings up to three stories high beginning in 2020. The requirement is a historic first in the United States and is in keeping with the state's ambitious zero net energy goals to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The report tracks 36 climate indicators and compiles research from numerous studies and scientists. The authors concluded that "climate change is not just a theory" but is "a real, immediate, and growing threat to California’s future."


The most dramatic impacts include wildfires that are larger and more frequent, and the most severe drought since recordkeeping began.


One of the more disturbing findings, the scientists note, is the increase in the average nighttime temperatures, which have increased by 2.3 degrees over the past century.

Other findings in the report include:

• An increase in extreme heatwaves and accompanying droughts since 1950

• A 9 percent decrease in snowpack since 1906.

• The Sierra Nevada's largest glaciers shrunk by up to 70 percent.

• Lake Tahoe warmed by one degree since 1970 and has warmed 10 times faster over the past four years.

• The mean sea level in San Francisco has risen 7 inches since 1924.

• Oxygen depletion has also been detected in the water off San Diego.

• The five largest fire years since 1950 have all occurred since 2006.

Despite the litany of dire impacts presented in the report, the state has had some success in efforts to combat climate change by reducing harmful emissions, Rodriquez said.


Tuesday, May 15, 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.

Maasai herders driven off land to make way for luxury safaris

White House Thought Burying a Report About Poison Drinking Water Was a Great Idea

Chinese family shocked as pet dog turns out to be a bear

Climate Change Poses Risk to Hummingbirds, an Important Pollinator

Ten children have been removed from "horrible living conditions" in a home in Fairfield, California, police said Monday, and both of the parents have been arrested.
Police said a further investigation "revealed a long and continuous history of severe physical and emotional abuse of the children,"

tags: child abuse

The Trump administration wants to relax child labor laws

Actors were paid to support Entergy’s power plant at New Orleans City Council meetings

Monday, May 14, 2018

NASA Carbon Monitoring Plan Shut Down Amid Climate Change Disaster

May 14, 2018 4:05 pm by Zachary Riley

NASA Carbon Monitoring Plan Shut Down Amid Climate Change Disaster
May 14, 2018 4:05 pm by Zachary Riley

NASA Carbon Monitoring Plan

The NASA Carbon Monitoring plan has been shut down due to a recent controversial move from the Trump administration.

The NASA Carbon Monitoring plan was responsible for compiling data from around the world through satellite and aircraft measurements of CO2 and methane emission across the Earth. This data was instrumental in informing our scientific community about the exact impact of carbon emissions, and there is currently no suitable replacement after the Trump administration axed it.

While the removal of the NASA Carbon Monitoring plan definitely has a marked effect on residents of the United States, the effects of the shuttering will be felt around the world as it becomes much harder for nations to verify whether quotas are being met according to the Paris climate accords. At this point, every nation on Earth except for the United States is part of the accords.


NASA also told Science that grants like the NASA Carbon Monitoring plan will be allowed to finish, but that no new research will be taking its place. The fact that the current projects will be allowed to be wrapped up is good news, but the fact that no other programs will be stepping up to take the place of this crucial contribution to scientific knowledge is definitely a disappointment for scientists and governments around the world.

The cuts to the NASA Carbon Monitoring plan come as part of proposed budget cuts to NASA’s earth science programs that are focused on climate change. While NASA is widely known for their research into outer space, many don’t realize the crucial part they play in monitoring our own planet as well. By cutting the climate change programs, we may be in for a rude awakening a few years down the line.

The cuts to the NASA Carbon Monitoring plan come at the worst possible time, considering that data from early May showed that the carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere surpassed the previous monthly average- coming in at 410.31 parts per million.


For much of human history, the carbon dioxide levels hovered at around 200 to 280 ppm. Industrialization made that skyrocket, and things have only gotten worse in the past few years.


Friday, May 11, 2018

Climate disruption

No reason to fear that aliens might attack our world. republicans are doing it already.

Trump Administration Cancels NASA Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Program

Hurricane season may be even worse in 2018 after a harrowing 2017

Costa Rica's new president took the oath of office Tuesday, vowing to turn his country into a global example of how to abolish fossil fuels and convert to clean energy sources.
[Costa Rica is a country in Central America, not to be confused with the the island Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.]

Insurer to Invest in Coastal Wetlands to Mitigate Storm Damages

Booming tourism emits 8 percent of greenhouse gases, study shows

Pentagon revised Obama-era report to remove references to risks from climate change
While military leaders have said they see a changing climate as a driver of instability worldwide, they have also sought to stay out of a politically charged debate about its causes.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Russian Facebook ads

These are the most popular Russian Facebook ads from each month

Today [May 10, 2018], House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff published the 3,000+ ads the Russia-based Internet Research Agency ran on Facebook and Instagram between 2015 and 2017.

Global warming is melting Antarctic ice from below

Global warming is melting Antarctic ice from below

John Abraham
Wed 9 May 2018 06.00 EDT


In the Arctic, almost all the ice is floating on water – there is very little land. So, we talk about ‘sea ice’ in the north, formed from frozen sea water. On the other hand, Antarctica is a massive land mass that is covered by ice formed from snowfall (called an ‘ice sheet’). There is some floating ice around the perimeter of the land, but the vast majority of Antarctic ice is on land.

This difference not only affects how these regions response to climate change, but it also impacts their importance. We know that when floating ice melts, the ocean levels will not rise, because the ice was already floating in the water. But, when land ice melts, the liquid water flows into the ocean and causes the water levels to rise. So, at least from a sea-level perspective, land ice is more important than floating ice.

There are other differences between the north and south. One feature of the south is that there is a strong current that travels around Antarctica and partially shields it from waters elsewhere in the ocean. The Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory provides a good summary of some of the differences between the poles.

With global warming, both of the poles are warming quite quickly, and this warming is causing ice to melt in both regions. When we think of ice melting, we may think of it melting from above, as the ice is heated from the air, from sunlight, or from infrared energy from the atmosphere. But in truth, a lot of the melting comes from below. For instance, in the Antarctic, the ice shelves extend from the land out over the water. The bottom of the ice shelf is exposed to the ocean. If the ocean warms up, it can melt the underside of the shelf and cause it to thin or break off into the ocean.


Around Antarctica, water at the ocean surface cools down and becomes saltier. These combined effects make the surface waters sink down to the sea floor. But as ice melt increases, fresh water flows into the ocean and interrupts this buoyancy effect. This “freshening” of the water can slow down or shut down the vertical mixing of the ocean. When this happens, the cold waters at the surface cannot sink. The deeper waters retain their heat and melt the ice from below.



Normal blood is slightly alkaline.

Google’s AI sounds like a human on the phone — should we be worried?

Now we know why so many W. Virginia republicans want that murderer Don Blankenship for Senator. They are on drugs.
W. Va. has the highest drug overdose rate in the nation.
[He placed 3rd out of six. Got 19.9% of the primary vote. Shows most W. Virginia republicans aren't idiots.]

Psychology: Why Some Don't Learn from Their Mistakes

Some people will never learn – and now scientists think they know why. People who keep repeating the same mistakes have less active brains.

When You Say ‘Hillary Would Have Been Worse’—You Sound Ridiculous
The idea that Hillary Clinton would have been remotely capable of the kind of wanton recklessness, legislative overreach, and civil rights assaults we’re experiencing right now in America, is so far afield of reality it should come replete with unicorns, leprechauns, and a Trump popular vote victory.

Trucker involved in deadly smuggling of dozens of immigrants sentenced to life in prison without parole, has IQ of 69
[Horrible that the immigrants died like that. But the did not plan for it, had no reason to expect it to happen. Unlike Blakenship, who deliberately allowed conditions likely to cause death, for the sake of making even more money.]

The Ex-Con Murderer Coal Baron Running for Senate in West Virginia

Tuesday, May 08, 2018


Trump calls on Congress to pull back $15 billion in spending, including on Children’s Health Insurance Program

President Donald Trump hired hundreds of undocumented Polish immigrants to demolish a New York City building in 1980 and paid them as little as $4 an hour without providing proper safety equipment to do the job, court documents show.

Republican Party wing creates 18 fake websites for Democrats
The National Republican Congressional Committee bought up hundreds of URLs ahead of the 2014 election cycle and has created nearly 20 websites appearing to support Democratic candidates in all but the small print, a spokesman for the campaign confirmed Thursday
The websites include donation forms that accept credit cards and encourage viewers to contribute up to $500, but instead of money going to the Democratic candidates, it goes to the NRCC.

Louisiana's Department of Health will begin sending nursing home eviction notices Thursday to more than 30,000 residents who could lose Medicaid under the budget passed by the state House of Representatives.

U.S. drops to 45 in ranking of countries based on freedom of the press


Sure, Unemployment Went Down - Because More People Left The Workforce

The average American worker takes less vacation time than a medieval peasant

Facing extinction, the North Atlantic right whale cannot adapt. Can we?

How Criminals Steal $37 Billion a Year from America’s Elderly, driving some to suicide

Political world braces for the next generation of fake news

Global warming will depress economic growth in Trump country

Dana Nuccitelli
Mon 7 May 2018 06.00 EDT

A working paper recently published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond concludes that global warming could significantly slow economic growth in the US.

Specifically, rising summertime temperatures in the hottest states will curb economic growth. And the states with the hottest summertime temperatures are all located in the South: Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Arizona. All of these states voted for Donald Trump in 2016.


While the Federal Reserve paper focused on the US economy, developing countries will be made much worse off by climate change. Many third world countries are located closer to the equator, where temperatures are already hotter than the temperature sweet spot identified in the 2015 Nature study. A new paper published last week in Science Advances also found that these poorer tropical countries will experience bigger temperature swings in a hotter world. Because of this combination of hot temperatures with bigger swings in countries with fewer resources available to adapt, these poorer nations are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

This is a key moral and ethical dilemma posed by global warming: as an important 2011 study concluded, the countries that have contributed the least to the problem are the most vulnerable to its consequences. Meanwhile, wealthy countries are already lagging behind their promised financial aid to help poor countries deal with climate change.


Rejecting climate policies like a carbon tax will ensure that the world misses the Paris targets, resulting in slower economic growth. This will particularly hurt poorer countries and Trump’s base in the South. The Federal Reserve Bank paper notes that these states are already among the least developed in the US, based on the Human Development Index. This means that they already have the weakest economies in the US, and failing to take steps to slow global warming will just hamper their economic growth further yet.


Friday, May 04, 2018


Windows 10 update bug locks machines running Chrome, Cortana and others

Bacteria therapy for eczema shows promise in NIH study

Earthquake aftermath: Life-threatening blood clots in legs and lungs from sitting in cars for extended periods

Women who eat fast food and little or no fruit take longer to become pregnant

Even brief maternal deprivation early in life alters adult brain function and cognition
[Study was of rats, but might apply to humans.]

Children with greater parent communication in early adolescence have less harmful alcohol use and emotional eating in young adulthood, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry.

Men who take once-daily aspirin have nearly double the risk of melanoma compared to men who are not exposed to daily aspirin, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.
Women, however, do not have an increased risk in this large patient population.

Brain stimulation reduces suicidal thinking in people with hard-to-treat depression

The amount of mercury extracted from the sea by industrial fishing has grown steadily since the 1950s, potentially increasing mercury exposure among the populations of several coastal and island nations to levels that are unsafe for foetal development.

Early HIV treatment key to avoiding brain atrophy

Diets rich in nuts, such as walnuts, have been shown to play a role in heart health and in reducing colorectal cancer. According to a new study from the University of Illinois, the way walnuts impact the gut microbiome--the collection of trillions of microbes or bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract--may be behind some of those health benefits.

Why do so many people feel their work is completely unnecessary?

Are LA hospitals really dumping homeless patients on the streets?

Walmart's low-wage workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing, according to a report published to coincide with Tax Day, April 15.

Now he tells us? Tom Price says killing Obamacare mandate will hike costs

By Jim Galloway, Tamar Hallerman and Greg Bluestein
May 02, 2018

On Tuesday, Tom Price made his first major public speech since he was fired by President Donald Trump. What he said won’t make many Republicans happy.

The former Georgia congressman and health secretary told a conference of health care professionals in Washington that the GOP’s decision to effectively repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate without a replacement plan ready will likely raise costs on consumers.

“You’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently, that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,” Price said, according to the Washington Times.

Price’s comments were pretty darned extraordinary, considering that he’d long argued the mandate was ineffective and driving up health care costs while in Congress and leading the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Federal Reserve: Climate Change Could Cut U.S. Economic Growth by One Third Over Century
New York State Society of CPAs

Chris Gaetano
May 2, 2018

A study recently published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond said that climate change could stunt U.S. economic growth by one third over the next century, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The researchers came to this conclusion by looking at the impacts that rising temperatures have already had on the economy and extrapolated from there. For instance, above-average temperatures slow down factory output, agricultural activity and construction. Retail tends to take a hit as well, since fewer people go out to shop, and worker productivity sags too, even when air conditioning is accounted for. Beyond direct effects from heat, the paper also noted that higher temperatures mean more extreme weather, which translates into higher insurance costs, as well as the need to spend on either reconstruction or preventative measures, both of which divert economic activity from other areas.

Overall, the researchers said that a one degree Fahrenheit increase in the average summer temperature reduces growth at the state level by 0.15 to 0.25 percentage points. Researchers applied this metric to temperature projections to develop the prediction that climate change will eat up a third of expected U.S. economic growth in the 21st century.


Twitter advises its users to change their passwords. Here's how you can.

Women who eat more fast food and those who eat very little fruit take longer to get pregnant than women who include several portions of fruit in their daily diets, according to a study published Friday in the journal Human Reproduction.
A recent review on male diet and fertility markers indicated that higher intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with increased sperm motility whereas a higher intake of fat-rich foods and sweets may decrease semen quality," Grieger and her co-authors wrote.

A CNN analysis has found that embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt paid himself nearly $65,000 in reimbursements from his two campaigns for Oklahoma attorney general, a move at least one election watchdog has sharply criticized as being recorded so vaguely that there was no way to tell if such payments were lawful.

Obama martial law scare was stoked by Russian bots, say ex-director of CIA
[What does it say about us that so many believed such silliness?]

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Mosquito season could get longer and more hazardous to your health — especially in Miami

By Alex Harris
May 01, 2018 07:15 PM
Updated May 02, 2018

Mosquito season has officially arrived in Florida, although many would argue it never left.

That perception may soon become reality, according to new studies that show the higher temperatures brought on by climate change are already increasing the range and biting season for many mosquitoes, including the Aedes aegypti — the infamous carriers of viruses like dengue and Zika, which hit Miami hard enough in 2016 to scare off many tourists.

Researchers believe the climate shifts will also raise the risks that other mosquito-borne diseases considered largely eliminated as public health threats in the mainland United States could return. Yellow fever tops that list.

Nationally, illnesses from insects like mosquitoes, ticks and fleas have already tripled from 2004 to 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control. In that time, nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were found or introduced into the U.S. The report noted an "accelerating trend of mosquito-borne diseases introduced from other parts of the world."


The human cost of fossil fuels

Ploy Achakulwisut
Thu 26 Apr 2018 06.00 EDT
Last modified on Thu 26 Apr 2018 19.09 EDT


Each year, 6.1 million lives are lost prematurely due to air pollution. Though most acutely and visibly hampering megacities of the developing world, air pollution is a growing public health emergency that affects almost all of us in our daily lives, whether or not we are aware of it. The Health Effects Institute estimates that only 5% of the global population are lucky enough to live in areas with air pollution levels below safe guidelines. Though recent studies suggest there may in fact be no risk-free level of air pollution.
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Why is this number relevant to climate policy? Because one common culprit is responsible for the majority of both climate change and air pollution: fuel combustion. Burning coal, oil, natural gas, and biomass – for everyday uses ranging from electricity, heating, cooking, to transportation – releases hundreds of gases and particles, some of which disrupt the climate system or are harmful to human health, or both. Climate change could also worsen air quality in the future.

Decades of research have revealed that air pollution is associated with a wide range of diseases and disorders, including asthma, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and premature birth. There is also emerging evidence that pollution from coal combustion and motor vehicles can cause development delays, reduced IQ, and autism in children. The societal and economic costs of air pollution are multifold. There are costs to the affected individuals, to their families and to society in terms of direct medical costs, costs to healthcare systems, productivity losses, and lower economic growth (not to mention costs resulting from damages to ecosystems).

Yet almost none of these costs stemming from our fossil fuel reliance are included in the majority of cost-benefit analyses of climate mitigation strategies. A recent study estimates that the health co-benefits from air pollution reductions would outweigh the mitigation costs of staying below 2°C by 140–250% globally. Historical evidence paints a similar picture. The EPA estimates that the U.S. Clean Air Amendments cost $65bn to implement, but will have yielded a benefit of almost $2tn by 2020 in avoided health costs.


Trusting the wrong people

By Tim Herrera
April 29, 2018


Our unconscious biases are the shortcuts our brains take to reach certain conclusions. For example, when you see a completely empty subway car, your brain might assume it’s empty for a reason and send you rushing to the next one. In general, these mental leaps are essential: Imagine if you had to analyze every single sensory stimulus your brain took in, then base decisions off those analyses.

There’s a darker side of this process, however: Certain cultural biases can become encoded in our brains without our even knowing, leading us to draw conclusions that can be inaccurate, incomplete or sometimes harmful.

For example, research has shown that in group-work settings, instead of determining whether a given person has genuine expertise we sometimes focus on proxies of expertise — the traits and habits we associate, and often conflate, with expertise. That means qualities such as confidence, extroversion and how much someone talks can outweigh demonstrated knowledge when analyzing whether a person is an expert.

In other words, your brain can instinctively trust people simply because they sound as if they know what they’re talking about.


Learn to catch yourself and take a step back when you notice that you’re going along with people who only feel authoritative — either because they project confidence or dominate the conversation — and ask yourself whether they truly are trustworthy. Do they have the credentials to back up their claims? Do they talk their way around specific questions rather than address them head-on? (Khalil calls this strategy “if-then plans”: If you catch yourself gravitating toward someone extroverted and loud, then seek another opinion.)

Two other sound strategies are ideas we’ve covered before in this newsletter. First, relentlessly seek outside input — oftentimes that can be as simple as asking a friend, “Is my trust misplaced here?” Second, never stop learning, because the more knowledgeable you are about something, the more likely you are to know when someone’s faking it.


Superstorms across India kill 127, shatter homes and lives

TNN | May 4, 2018

NEW DELHI: Severe thunderstorms lashed many parts of the country on Wednesday night, killing at least 127 people in the last 24 hours and leaving a trail of destruction, with houses flattened, trees uprooted and electricity poles in disarray.

The maximum devastation occurred in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where the storms claimed 112 lives. Uttar Pradesh reported 73 deaths, of which 46 were in Agra district alone.


“Concrete houses came down like pack of cards one after the other. Trees, streetlights and whatever stood taller than a few feet were flattened by the winds. We took out victims from debris of houses and ferried them to hospitals on motorcycles,” Narendra Sharma, the SHO of Kheragarh police station in Agra district, told TOI after spending the night in rescue ops.


As many as 12,700 electricity polls were uprooted and 1,523 transformers damaged in the three districts. More than 50,000 trees were destroyed.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather