Friday, November 30, 2018

Republicans Senators Who Tried to Kill Yemen War Resolution Were Paid by Saudi Lobbyists

By Cristina Maza On 11/29/18 at 9:51 AM

On Wednesday, senators delivered a historic blow to the country’s relationship with ally Saudi Arabia, a country whose leadership has committed notable human rights violations, by voting to move forward a resolution that would end all U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

But at least five of the Republican Senators who voted against the bill have received funding from lobbyists working for Saudi Arabia, a fact that illustrates how the kingdom uses its vast wealth to influence U.S. foreign policy.

Republican Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Boozman of Arkansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mike Crapo of Idaho, and Tim Scott of South Carolina received financial contributions from lobbying firms that worked for Saudi Arabia, according to a report by the Center for International Policy released last month.


Past four years hottest on record, data shows

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
Thu 29 Nov 2018 06.10 EST

Global temperatures have continued to rise in the past 10 months, with 2018 expected to be the fourth warmest year on record.

Average temperatures around the world so far this year were nearly 1C (1.8F) above pre-industrial levels. Extreme weather has affected all continents, while the melting of sea ice and glaciers and rises in sea levels continue. The past four years have been the hottest on record, and the 20 warmest have occurred in the past 22 years.


“These are more than just numbers,” said Elena Manaenkova, the WMO deputy secretary general. “Every fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference to human health and access to food and fresh water, to the extinction of animals and plants, to the survival of coral reefs and marine life.”


Greenhouse gas levels were also recently found to be at record levels


The WMO found the extent of Arctic sea ice in 2018 was much lower than normal, with the maximum in March the third lowest on record and the September minimum the sixth lowest.


There were a greater number of violent storms than usual, including 70 tropical cyclones in the northern hemisphere, compared with the long-term average of 53. Storms brought devastation to the Mariana Islands, the Philippines, Vietnam, the Korean peninsula and Tonga, while hurricanes Florence and Michael caused substantial damage in the US.

Wildfires raged in Greece, Canada, California and other areas, while floods devastated Kerala in India and displaced more than 1.4 million people. Japan also experienced serious flooding, as did east Africa.


Manaenkova added that every effort to reduce greenhouse gases and the impacts of climate change was worthwhile. “Every bit matters,” she said, citing the harm done by temperature rises to every aspect of life, including economic productivity, food security, glacier melt and water supplies, and the future of low-lying islands and coastal communities.


Queensland flying fox species decimated by record heatwave

Lisa Cox
Thu 29 Nov 2018 12.00 EST
Last modified on Thu 29 Nov 2018 12.02 EST

Thousands of threatened flying foxes have dropped dead due to heat stress brought on by extreme temperatures in far north Queensland this week.

Conservationists and wildlife volunteers estimate more than 4,000 have perished this week during the record heatwave, which has seen temperatures in Cairns reach all-time highs of 42.6C [108.7F].


Volunteer carers that have been counting dead animals and taking orphaned young into care say it is the first time the species has suffered mass deaths because of extreme heat.

“It’s never had a heat stress event before because it’s in the tropics,” said Maree Treadwell Kerr, a wildlife carer and president of the Bats and Tree Society of Cairns.


Volunteers found 3,000 dead bats and 54 live bats needing care at one site in Edmonton alone.

Wildlife carers have been overwhelmed by orphaned young and are recruiting extra volunteers as well as moving animals to centres in cities including Brisbane.

Tim Pearson, a consultant wildlife ecologist specialising in flying foxes, said more frequent and severe heatwaves were a danger for the animals.

“What’s scary about this one is the spectacled flying fox has been hit,” he said.

“As far as we know, they’ve never suffered heat deaths before.”


Trump wants political opponents tried for treason

I have been wondering if Trump's sending the military to the border to deal with the migrant caravan was not just to get his base to the polls for the mid-terms, but also to nudge the military toward obeying him even when he issues illegal orders.

This week, President Donald Trump retweeted an image that accuses multiple political opponents of committing treason against the United States of America, demanding that they be prosecuted and imprisoned for their crime.

Think about that for a moment, because it is extraordinary. The chief executive of the United States is urging the government that he heads, the people whom he can hire and fire, to arrest those who dare to oppose him. He is equating resistance to his rule and criticism of his actions to acts of betrayal against the nation itself.

In the image tweeted by Trump, the gallery of accused traitors sitting behind prison bars includes Hillary Clinton, the she-devil of every Trump rally. She shares that crowded prison cell with 10 other people, including special counsel Robert Mueller, former FBI Director James Comey. Two predecessors as president, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, are also among those who are targeted as traitors to be punished.


Some would like to pretend that such statements are not to be taken seriously, even though they come from the president and even though Trump has made similar statements at least a half dozen times in just the past few days, demanding that the Department of Justice begin to prosecute his Democratic enemies. It’s also important to note that by removing Jeff Sessions as attorney general and refusing to name a permanent replacement, Trump has succeeded in installing a hand-picked right-wing political hack as “temporary” head of the Department of Justice, neatly stripping the Senate of its constitutional right to “advise and consent” on such appointments.

Among other things, it’s an ominous sign that the Trump White House is seeking and in this case finding ways to work around safeguards written into the Constitution by the Founders.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Scientists agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone

By Joseph Stromberg
April 23, 2015

If you're feeling sleepy and want to wake yourself up — and have 20 minutes or so to spare before you need to be fully alert — there's something you should try. It's more effective than drinking a cup of coffee or taking a quick nap.

It's drinking a cup of coffee and then taking a quick nap. This is called a coffee nap.

It might sound crazy: conventional wisdom is that caffeine interferes with sleep. But if you caffeinate immediately before napping and sleep for 20 minutes or less, you can exploit a quirk in the way both sleep and caffeine affect your brain to maximize alertness. Here's the science behind the idea.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Four types of Duncan Hines cake mix recalled due to salmonella outbreak

By Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
Updated 4:21 PM ET, Wed November 7, 2018

A recall was issued for four types of Duncan Hines cake mix due to possible salmonella contamination, the US Food and Drug Administration said Monday.
The voluntary recall was issued by Conagra Brands due to "a positive finding of Salmonella in a retail sample of Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix that may be linked to a Salmonella outbreak that is currently being investigated by CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and FDA," Conagra said in a statement.

The DNA fingerprint found in that sample of cake mix matches the DNA fingerprint identified by the CDC in five cases of salmonella illness, according to the FDA.
The illnesses were reported in three states: Maryland, Ohio and Wisconsin, the CDC said Wednesday.


Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives up to $25 million in bonuses

By Chris Isidore, CNN Business
Updated 2:53 PM ET, Fri November 16, 2018

Sears is seeking court approval to pay executives as much as $25 million in annual bonuses while the company struggles to restructure in bankruptcy.

Three top executives could get nearly $1 million each if the company goes out of business. If Sears remains in business, they could get nearly $500,000 each for hitting the top performance targets.


The company wants to retain as many executives as it can, but Sears is laying off employees who staffed hundreds of stores it is closing. Many hourly workers claim they will not be paid severance.


Shelia Brewer, who worked for 17 years as a full-time hourly employee at a Kmart in Rockford Illinois, said the company told her she'd get eight weeks of severance. Instead, she received a letter saying that severance payments were being halted because of the bankruptcy


Retention bonuses for top executives are not unusual when companies go bankrupt. But bankruptcy law limits how much severance companies can pay.

Toys "R" Us won approval for up to $16 million in bonuses for 17 top executives a year ago during its failed attempt to stay in business, despite objections from employees groups and others.

"It's outrageous that the bankruptcy court is considering bonuses for Sears' high paid executives while laid off employees get their severance pay cut off," said Carrie Gleason, campaign manager for Rise Up Retail, a retail employee advocacy group. "This is exactly what happened at Toys 'R' Us. A handful of executives who couldn't save the company got millions in bonuses while tens of thousands of dedicated employees were denied their promised severance pay."

Pre-pregnancy health coverage climbs after Medicaid expansion

Public Release: 27-Nov-2018
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

The number of low-income women enrolled in Medicaid before becoming pregnant rose substantially in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility through the Affordable Care Act, according to researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. The results are published online in the journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

"This study suggests that the ACA Medicaid expansion was associated with improved continuity of Medicaid coverage from the preconception to prenatal period," said Jamie Daw, PhD, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at the Columbia Mailman School. "Higher rates of health insurance before pregnancy may improve access to preconception care, which can help women to appropriately plan their pregnancy and optimize their health before conceiving. Interventions in the preconception period such as disease screening, disease management, and exposure avoidance counseling reduce pregnancy risks and are associated with improved maternal and fetal outcomes."


Early-life stress hinders development of neurons in mice, causing attention disorders

Public Release: 27-Nov-2018
Brown University

Women are roughly twice as likely as men to develop depression, anxiety and other stress-related problems, including difficulty with attention, and new research from Brown University neuroscientists sheds light on the biological reasons why.

Studying mice whose mothers had inadequate supplies to make nests -- a model for early-life stress in humans -- the researchers found that only female mice developed problems with attention, in part because they had fewer "tuning" neurons in the part of the brain that makes sense of rules and regulating emotions.


Music supports the auditory skills of hearing-impaired children

Public Release: 27-Nov-2018
University of Helsinki

Researchers at University of Helsinki, Finland, and University College London have found evidence that children with hearing impairment and cochlear implants can benefit from hobbies involving music and especially singing.

The results published in Music Perception show that the auditory skills of hearing impaired children are connected to the amount of singing and music in their everyday lives.


Reliance on 'YouTube medicine' may be dangerous for those concerned about prostate cancer

Public Release: 27-Nov-2018
NYU Langone Health / NYU School of Medicine

The most popular YouTube videos on prostate cancer often offer misleading or biased medical information that poses potential health risks to patients, an analysis of the social media platform shows.

Led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine and its Perlmutter Cancer Center, the study of the 150 most-viewed YouTube videos on the disease found that 77 percent had factual errors or biased content in either the video or its comments section.


Ambulances in Syria deliberately and repeatedly targeted as part of war tactics

Public Release: 27-Nov-2018
'Weaponization of healthcare' aims to destabilize, intimidate, demoralize, say researchers

Half of the ambulances targeted sustained serious damage and/or had to be withdrawn from service, the findings show.

Now in its eighth year, the Syrian conflict has taken a heavy toll on medical facilities and health professionals from airstrikes, bombings, shootings, kidnappings and lootings.

This is despite the fact that healthcare facilities and the ambulances servicing them are protected under International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Conventions, and the UN resolution 2286, passed in 2016, condemning attacks on medical facilities and staff.


Endurance but not resistance training has anti-aging effects

Public Release: 27-Nov-2018
European Society of Cardiology

Researchers have discovered evidence that endurance exercise, such as running, swimming, cross-country skiing and cycling, will help you age better than resistance exercise, which involves strength training with weights.


they found that endurance and high intensity training both slowed or even reversed cellular aging, but that resistance training did not.


Pulsed radiofrequency relieves acute back pain and sciatica

Public Release: 27-Nov-2018
Radiological Society of North America

A minimally invasive procedure in which pulses of energy from a probe are applied directly to nerve roots near the spine is safe and effective in people with acute lower back pain that has not responded to conservative treatment, according to a study being presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Childhood physical inactivity reaches crisis levels around the globe

Public Release: 26-Nov-2018
Report compares 49 countries; says 75 percent of countries have failing physical activity grades
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute

Children around the world are not moving enough to maintain healthy growth and development, according to a global report released today.


The report revealed that modern lifestyles - increases in screen time, the growing urbanization of communities and the rise in automation of previously manual tasks - are contributing to a pervasive public health problem that must be recognized as a global priority.


Playing youth football could affect brain development

Public Release: 26-Nov-2018
Radiological Society of North America

Young football players may experience a disruption in brain development after a single season of the sport, according to a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).


Largest pediatric study shows obesity increases asthma risk in children

Public Release: 26-Nov-2018

Ten percent of pediatric asthma cases could be avoided if childhood obesity were eliminated, according to research led by Nemours Children's Health System. The research, published today in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reported on the analysis of medical records of more than 500,000 children. The study is among the first to use the resources of PEDSnet, a multi-specialty network that conducts observational research and clinical trials across eight of the nation's largest children's health systems. PEDSnet is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a government-supported nonprofit.


Conservative admits he was wrong on climate change, asks why others can't admit it

By Max Boot
Nov. 26, 2018

I admit it. I used to be a climate-change skeptic. I was one of those conservatives who thought that the science was inconclusive, that fears of global warming were as overblown as fears of a new ice age in the 1970s, that climate change was natural and cyclical, and that there was no need to incur any economic costs to deal with this speculative threat. I no longer think any of that, because the scientific consensus is so clear and convincing.


The U.S. government warnings echo the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In October, it released a report that represented the work of 91 scientists from 60 countries. It describes, in the words of the New York Times, “a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040.”


It’s time to sound the planetary alarm. This is likely to be the fourth-hottest year on record. The record-holder is 2016, followed by 2015 and 2017. A climate change website notes that “the five warmest years in the global record have all come in the 2010s” and “the 10 warmest years on record have all come since 1998.”


Imagine if these figures reflected a rise in terrorism — or illegal immigration. Republicans would be freaking out. Yet they are oddly blasé about this climate code red.


Compared with the crushing costs of climate change, the action needed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions is modest and manageable — if we act now. Jerry Taylor, president of the libertarian Niskanen Center, estimates that a carbon tax would increase average electricity rates from 17 cents to 18 cents per kilowatt-hour. The average household, he writes, would see spending on energy rise “only about $35 per month.” That’s not nothing — but it’s better than allowing climate change to continue unabated.
Still painful to the poor. We need to help them pay for this.


I’ve owned up to the danger. Why haven’t other conservatives? They are captives, first and foremost, of the fossil fuel industry, which outspent green groups 10 to 1 in lobbying on climate change from 2000 to 2016. But they are also captives of their own rigid ideology. It is a tragedy for the entire planet that the United States’ governing party is impervious to science and reason.

The Ecological Crisis is a Political Crisis

I suggest reading the whole article.

By Kevin MacKay, originally published by MAHB
September 25, 2018


Stopping the destructive effects of industrial, capitalist civilization has now become the defining challenge of our age. If we don’t radically change our society’s course within the next 30 years, then a deep collapse and protracted Dark Age are all but assured. In order to confront this challenge, we need to understand what is causing civilization’s crisis, and most importantly, how the crisis can be resolved. At stake is nothing less than a viable future on this planet.


The tendency for societies to collapse under excessive energy demands is an important insight. However, what Tainter and Diamond failed to appreciate is how oligarchy is an even more fundamental cause of civilization collapse.

Oligarchic control compromises a society’s ability to make correct decisions in the face of existential threats. This explains a seeming paradox in which past civilizations have collapsed despite possessing the cultural and technological know-how needed to resolve their crises. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t understand the source of the threat or the way to avert it. The problem was that societal elites benefitted from the system’s dysfunctions and, prevented available solutions.


A 2014 study by American political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page revealed that the great majority of political decisions made in the United States reflect the interests of elites. After studying nearly 1,800 policy decisions passed between 1981 and 2002, the researchers argued that “both individual economic elites and organized interest groups (including corporations, largely owned and controlled by wealthy elites) play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.”

Today, oligarchic control over decision-making, and its catastrophic ecological effects, have never been clearer. In the U.S., Donald Trump and his billionaire-dominated cabinet are seeking to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, to question climate science, and to pursue a policy of “American energy dominance” that will dramatically expand production of fossil fuels.


To create a sustainable future, we must first learn the lessons of the past, and what archaeological research shows is that throughout history, civilizations that have been captive to the interests of an oligarchic elite have all collapsed. Today’s industrial, capitalist civilization is trapped in this same deadly cycle.


Radically transforming industrial, capitalist civilization won’t be easy. It will require movements for environmental sustainability, social justice, and economic fairness to come together, and to realize their common interest in dismantling the system of oligarchy and building a democratic, eco-socialist society.24 This “movement of movements” must put aside sectarian squabbles, and finally realize that the goals of economic justice, human rights, and ecological sustainability are all intrinsically linked.


"Dark Money" Funds Climate Change Denial Effort

By Douglas Fischer, The Daily Climate on December 23, 2013

The largest, most-consistent money fueling the climate denial movement are a number of well-funded conservative foundations built with so-called "dark money," or concealed donations, according to an analysis released Friday afternoon.


"The climate change countermovement has had a real political and ecological impact on the failure of the world to act on global warming," Brulle said in a statement. "Like a play on Broadway, the countermovement has stars in the spotlight – often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians – but behind the stars is an organizational structure of directors, script writers and producers."

"If you want to understand what's driving this movement, you have to look at what's going on behind the scenes."


According to Brulle, the largest and most consistent funders where a number of conservative foundations promoting "ultra-free-market ideas" in many realms, among them the Searle Freedom Trust, the John Williams Pope Foundation, the Howard Charitable Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

Another key finding: From 2003 to 2007, Koch Affiliated Foundations and the ExxonMobil Foundation were "heavily involved" in funding climate change denial efforts. But Exxon hasn't made a publically traceable contribution since 2008, and Koch's efforts dramatically declined, Brulle said.

Coinciding with a decline in traceable funding, Brulle found a dramatic rise in the cash flowing to denial organizations from DonorsTrust, a donor-directed foundation whose funders cannot be traced. This one foundation, the assessment found, now accounts for 25 percent of all traceable foundation funding used by organizations promoting the systematic denial of climate change.


In the end, Brulle concluded public records identify only a fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars supporting climate denial efforts. Some 75 percent of the income of those organizations, he said, comes via unidentifiable sources.

And for Brulle, that's a matter of democracy. "Without a free flow of accurate information, democratic politics and government accountability become impossible," he said. "Money amplifies certain voices above others and, in effect, gives them a megaphone in the public square."

Powerful funders, he added, are supporting the campaign to deny scientific findings about global warming and raise doubts about the "roots and remedies" of a threat on which the science is clear.

"At the very least, American voters deserve to know who is behind these efforts."

Monday, November 26, 2018

Climate change 'will inflict substantial damage on US lives'

No surprise to anyone who has paid a little attention in recent years.

The Trump administration released the report the day after Thanksgiving, thinking it would get less attention because of the holiday.

Oliver Milmanlman
Fri 23 Nov 2018 16.48 EST

The influence of climate change is being felt across the US with increases in disastrous wildfires in the west, flooding on the east coast, soil loss in the midwest and coastal erosion in Alaska, according to the US National Climate Assessment.




Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.


Climate-related risks will continue to grow without additional action. Decisions made today determine risk exposure for current and future generations and will either broaden or limit options to reduce the negative consequences of climate change.


A water manager may use past or current streamflow records to design a dam, a city could issue permits for coastal development based on current flood maps, and an electric utility or a farmer may invest in equipment suited to the current climate, all with the expectation that their investments and management practices will meet future needs.

However, the assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid (Ch. 28: Adaptation, KM 2). Observations collected around the world provide significant, clear, and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher, and is rising more rapidly, than anything modern civilization has experienced, with widespread and growing impacts (Figure 1.2) (CSSR, Ch. 1.9). The warming trend observed over the past century can only be explained by the effects that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, have had on the climate (Ch. 2: Climate, KM 1 and Figure 2.1).


Observed Change

Observations from around the world show the widespread effects of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations on Earth’s climate. High temperature extremes and heavy precipitation events are increasing. Glaciers and snow cover are shrinking, and sea ice is retreating. Seas are warming, rising, and becoming more acidic, and marine species are moving to new locations toward cooler waters. Flooding is becoming more frequent along the U.S. coastline. Growing seasons are lengthening, and wildfires are increasing. These and many other changes are clear signs of a warming world


Causes of Change

Scientists have understood the fundamental physics of climate change for almost 200 years. In the 1850s, researchers demonstrated that carbon dioxide and other naturally occurring greenhouse gases in the atmosphere prevent some of the heat radiating from Earth’s surface from escaping to space: this is known as the greenhouse effect. This natural greenhouse effect warms the planet’s surface about 60°F above what it would be otherwise, creating a habitat suitable for life. Since the late 19th century, however, humans have released an increasing amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels and, to a lesser extent, deforestation and land-use change. As a result, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the largest contributor to human-caused warming, has increased by about 40% over the industrial era. This change has intensified the natural greenhouse effect, driving an increase in global surface temperatures and other widespread changes in Earth’s climate that are unprecedented in the history of modern civilization.


Future Change

Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities will continue to affect Earth’s climate for decades and even centuries. Humans are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a rate far greater than it is removed by natural processes, creating a long-lived reservoir of the gas in the atmosphere and oceans that is driving the climate to a warmer and warmer state. Some of the other greenhouse gases released by human activities, such as methane, are removed from the atmosphere by natural processes more quickly than carbon dioxide; as a result, efforts to cut emissions of these gases could help reduce the rate of global temperature increases over the next few decades. However, longer-term changes in climate will largely be determined by emissions and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other longer-lived greenhouse gases


Summary Findings:

1. Communities

The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country. More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities. Future climate change is expected to further disrupt many areas of life, exacerbating existing challenges to prosperity posed by aging and deteriorating infrastructure, stressed ecosystems, and economic inequality. Impacts within and across regions will not be distributed equally. People who are already vulnerable, including lower-income and other marginalized communities, have lower capacity to prepare for and cope with extreme weather and climate-related events and are expected to experience greater impacts.


2. Economy

In the absence of significant global mitigation action and regional adaptation efforts, rising temperatures, sea level rise, and changes in extreme events are expected to increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property, labor productivity, and the vitality of our communities. Regional economies and industries that depend on natural resources and favorable climate conditions, such as agriculture, tourism, and fisheries, are vulnerable to the growing impacts of climate change. Rising temperatures are projected to reduce the efficiency of power generation while increasing energy demands, resulting in higher electricity costs. The impacts of climate change beyond our borders are expected to increasingly affect our trade and economy, including import and export prices and U.S. businesses with overseas operations and supply chains. Some aspects of our economy may see slight near-term improvements in a modestly warmer world. However, the continued warming that is projected to occur without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions is expected to cause substantial net damage to the U.S. economy throughout this century, especially in the absence of increased adaptation efforts. With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.


3. Interconnected Impacts

Climate change presents added risks to interconnected systems that are already exposed to a range of stressors such as aging and deteriorating infrastructure, land-use changes, and population growth. Extreme weather and climate-related impacts on one system can result in increased risks or failures in other critical systems, including water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade, and national security. The full extent of climate change risks to interconnected systems, many of which span regional and national boundaries, is often greater than the sum of risks to individual sectors.


4. Actions to Reduce Risks

Future risks from climate change depend primarily on decisions made today. The integration of climate risk into decision-making and the implementation of adaptation activities have significantly increased since the Third National Climate Assessment in 2014


While these adaptation and mitigation measures can help reduce damages in a number of sectors, this assessment shows that more immediate and substantial global greenhouse gas emissions reductions, as well as regional adaptation efforts, would be needed to avoid the most severe consequences in the long term. Mitigation and adaptation actions also present opportunities for additional benefits that are often more immediate and localized, such as improving local air quality and economies through investments in infrastructure. Some benefits, such as restoring ecosystems and increasing community vitality, may be harder to quantify.


5. Water

The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.

Rising air and water temperatures and changes in precipitation are intensifying droughts, increasing heavy downpours, reducing snowpack, and causing declines in surface water quality, with varying impacts across regions. Future warming will add to the stress on water supplies and adversely impact the availability of water in parts of the United States. Changes in the relative amounts and timing of snow and rainfall are leading to mismatches between water availability and needs in some regions, posing threats to, for example, the future reliability of hydropower production in the Southwest and the Northwest. Groundwater depletion is exacerbating drought risk in many parts of the United States, particularly in the Southwest and Southern Great Plains. Dependable and safe water supplies for U.S. Caribbean, Hawai‘i, and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Island communities are threatened by drought, flooding, and saltwater contamination due to sea level rise. Most U.S. power plants rely on a steady supply of water for cooling, and operations are expected to be affected by changes in water availability and temperature increases.


6. Health

Changes in temperature and precipitation are increasing air quality and health risks from wildfire and ground-level ozone pollution. Rising air and water temperatures and more intense extreme events are expected to increase exposure to waterborne and foodborne diseases, affecting food and water safety. With continued warming, cold-related deaths are projected to decrease and heat-related deaths are projected to increase; in most regions, increases in heat-related deaths are expected to outpace reductions in cold-related deaths. The frequency and severity of allergic illnesses, including asthma and hay fever, are expected to increase as a result of a changing climate. Climate change is also projected to alter the geographic range and distribution of disease-carrying insects and pests, exposing more people to ticks that carry Lyme disease and mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as Zika, West Nile, and dengue, with varying impacts across regions.


7. Indigenous Peoples

Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.


8. Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services

Many benefits provided by ecosystems and the environment, such as clean air and water, protection from coastal flooding, wood and fiber, crop pollination, hunting and fishing, tourism, cultural identities, and more will continue to be degraded by the impacts of climate change. Increasing wildfire frequency, changes in insect and disease outbreaks, and other stressors are expected to decrease the ability of U.S. forests to support economic activity, recreation, and subsistence activities. Climate change has already had observable impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and the benefits they provide to society.


9. Agriculture

Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.


10. Infrastructure

Climate change and extreme weather events are expected to increasingly disrupt our Nation’s energy and transportation systems, threatening more frequent and longer-lasting power outages, fuel shortages, and service disruptions, with cascading impacts on other critical sectors. Infrastructure currently designed for historical climate conditions is more vulnerable to future weather extremes and climate change.


11. Oceans & Coasts

Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.


12. Tourism and Recreation

Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.


Why Russian trolls stoked US vaccine debates

Also, lower vaccination rates will lead to higher death, illness, and disability rates, and weaken our country.

By Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Updated 9:41 AM ET, Fri August 24, 2018

Russia's meddling online went beyond the 2016 US presidential election and into public health, amplifying online debates about vaccines, according to a new study.


Russia's meddling online went beyond the 2016 US presidential election and into public health, amplifying online debates about vaccines, according to a new study.


These known Russian troll accounts were tied to the Internet Research Agency, a company backed by the Russian government that specializes in online influence operations.


"One of the things about them that was weird was that they tried to -- or they seemed to try to -- relate vaccines to issues in American discourse, like racial disparities or class disparities that are not traditionally associated with vaccination," Broniatowski said.
For instance, "one of the tweets we saw said something like 'Only the elite get clean vaccines,' which on its own seemed strange," he said. After all, anti-vaccine messages tend to characterize vaccines as risky for all people, regardless of class or socioeconomic status, the researchers wrote in the study.


While examining those vaccine-related tweets, the researchers discovered many bot accounts, including "content polluters," which are accounts that disseminate malware or unsolicited commercial content. The researchers also uncovered a wide range of hidden online agendas.


By posting a variety of anti-, pro- and neutral tweets and directly confronting vaccine skeptics, trolls and bots "legitimize" the vaccine debate, the researchers wrote in the study.
"This is consistent with a strategy of promoting discord across a range of controversial topics -- a known tactic employed by Russian troll accounts. Such strategies may undermine the public health: normalizing these debates may lead the public to question long-standing scientific consensus regarding vaccine efficacy," they wrote.
Overall, the researchers found that Russian trolls, sophisticated bots and "content polluters" tweeted about vaccination at significantly higher rates compared with average users.


"The Internet Research Agency has been known to engage in certain behaviors. There's the one everybody knows about, which is the election. They also tend to engage in other topics that promote discord in American society," Broniatowski said.


"I don't know if it would seem strange once you understand their goal, which is basically to divide both sides against the middle. They're going to grab onto all of those social issues. So for example: black lives matter, all lives matter; immigrants are destroying America, immigrants are great for America," Warren said.
"It's basically the hot-button political issues of the day. They're happy to grab onto whatever is salient," he said. "I think that they want us focused on our own problems so that we don't focus on them.

"If most of our energies are focused internally with divisions inside of the United States -- or divisions between the United States and, say, Europe -- that leaves a window open for Russia to expand its sphere of influence.


How climate change is fueling California’s record wildfires

By Dana Nuccitelli


climate scientists have found that global warming is impacting us now. It’s making extreme weather like droughts, floods, heat waves, and wildfires worse. It’s important to be able to communicate the science to people to help them understand that climate change is a much higher priority. The scientific evidence connecting climate change to California’s horrific wildfires presents one such opportunity


There are four primary ways climate change worsens these fires:

Higher temperatures dry out vegetation and soil, creating more wildfire fuel.
Climate change is shortening the California rainy season, thus extending the fire season.
Climate change is also shifting the Santa Ana winds that fan particularly dangerous wildfires in Southern California.
The warming atmosphere is slowing the jet stream, leading to more California heat waves and high-pressure ridges in the Pacific. Those ridges deflect from the state some storms that would otherwise bring much-needed moisture to slow the spread of fires.


To paraphrase the cliché, what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. The Northern Hemisphere jet stream is a result of the temperature difference between the cold Arctic and warmer lower latitudes in regions like North America and Europe. But the Arctic is the fastest-warming region on Earth, largely because as reflective sea ice disappears, the Arctic surface is increasingly covered by dark oceans that absorb more sunlight. The rapidly warming Arctic is shrinking the temperature difference between that region and the lower latitudes, which in turn weakens the jet stream. As a result, rather than a fast-moving flow of air, the jet stream increasingly is taking a slow, meandering path across the Northern Hemisphere.

Weather patterns tend to get stuck between those jet stream waves and “stall” in place. This can make a storm or hurricane dump a lot of rain in one spot; or a heat wave or cold polar air persist in a given region; or in California’s case, high-pressure ridges tend to stall off the coast in the Pacific Ocean.

These high-pressure systems tend to divert storm systems to the north of California, exacerbating dry conditions. This often happened during California’s 2012–2016 drought – the state’s worst in over a millennium – and another such ridge has been sitting of California’s coast in 2018:


in an October 2018 paper in Science Advances, scientists Michael Mann and Stefan Rahmstorf and colleagues found that depending on how human fossil fuel pollution changes in the coming years, the frequency of wavy jet stream events could triple by the end of the century.


A 2015 special report in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that “An increase in fire risk in California is attributable to human-induced climate change.” And a 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that human-caused global warming doubled the area burned by wildfires in the western U.S. over just the past 30 years.

The reality is that the more global warming humanity causes, the worse California’s wildfires will become.

Michigan hospital rejects woman's heart transplant, recommends she raise $10K

Not an isolated happening.

Written by Kelly Gooch | November 26, 2018

After rejecting a 60-year-old woman's request for a heart transplant for lack of "a more secure financial plan," Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spectrum Health recommended that she start a $10,000 fundraiser to come up with the money, according to a Detroit Free Press report.

The recommendation came via a Nov. 20 letter from a nurse with Spectrum Health's Heart & Lung Specialized Care Clinics. In the letter, the nurse told Hedda Martin of Grand Rapids that the multidisciplinary heart transplant committee determined she is "not a candidate at this time for a heart transplant due to needing more secure financial plan for immunosuppresive medication coverage."

Immunosuppresive drugs help prevent a person's body from rejecting a new heart or other transplanted organ. The nurse also told Ms. Martin the transplant committee "is recommending a fundraising effort of $10,000."


Friday, November 23, 2018

Denmark suspending weapons exports to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi killing

By Justin Wise - 11/22/18 03:43 PM EST

Denmark announced on Thursday that it is suspending future approvals of weapons and military equipment exports to Saudi Arabia, a response to the killing of a U.S.-based journalist and the government's role in the conflict in Yemen.

“With the continued deterioration of the already terrible situation in Yemen and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, we are now in a new situation,” Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Reuters notes that Denmark issued 10 approvals related to weapons and military equipment exports with Saudi Arabia in 2017. A spokesman said that the approvals already granted won't be suspended.


Germany announced earlier this week that it has stopped exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia. The country also banned 18 Saudi nationals from entering Europe's Schengen Area.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

October 2018: Earth's 2nd Warmest October on Record

Dr. Jeff Masters · November 19, 2018, 8:48 PM EST

October 2018 was the planet's second-warmest October since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Tuesday. The only warmer October came in 2015. NASA also rated October 2018 as the second-warmest October on record behind 2015. Minor differences in rankings between NASA and NOAA can arise because of how they handle data-sparse regions such as the Arctic, where few surface weather stations exist.

Global ocean temperatures during October 2018 were the second warmest on record, and land temperatures were also the second warmest on record, according to NOAA.


Arctic sea ice extent last month had the third lowest average October extent in the 40-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). In the Antarctic, the annual maximum extent came on October 2, and was the fourth lowest maximum in the satellite record—higher than the 1986, 2002, and 2017 maxima.


So far in 2018, five nations have broken an all-time record for hottest temperature in recorded history:

Palau: 95°F (35°C) at Koror on March 22
Algeria: 124.3°F (51.3°C) at Ourgla on July 5
Taiwan: 104.5°F (40.3°C) at Tianxiang on July 10
Japan: 106.0°F (41.1°C) at Kumagaya on July 23
South Korea: 105.8°F (41.0°C) at Hongcheon on August 1

No nations have set an all-time cold temperature record so far in 2018.



These are statistics for the world as a whole. Not every spot shared in the warmer than average temperatures.

Meanwhile, North America's October temperature was 0.07°C (0.13°F) below average, marking the first time October temperatures were below average since 2009.


Averaged as a whole, the temperature across the global land and ocean surfaces was 0.86°C (1.55°F) above the 20th century average and placed as the second highest October temperature since global records began in 1880. The record warm October was set in 2015 at +0.99°C (+1.78°F). This marks the 42nd consecutive October and the 406th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.

So it has been a continuous period of 33 years and 10 months with EVERY month being above the 20th century average


British Spies Secretly Fight Donald Trump, Who Plans To Release Classified Info That Could Put Lives At Risk

Jonathan Vankin
Nov. 21, 2018

As Donald Trump plans to release classified documents relating to the ongoing investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign’s possible collusion with Russia to tip the election in his favor — information Trump claims will show that the FBI placed an adviser to his campaign under surveillance without good cause — British intelligence agencies are fighting Trump behind the scenes to stop him from declassifying the documents, according to an investigation by Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.


British intelligence, according to a Yahoo! News account of the Telegraph report, fears that making the FISA application public would expose secret sources who worked with the British and US intelligence agencies — exposure that could place the sources in harm’s way, and could damage intelligence gathering capabilities.

“It boils down to the exposure of people,” a US intelligence official told the Telegraph, adding that the US concern about exposing sources was shared by the British. “We don’t want to reveal sources and methods.”

Britain’s intel agencies are increasingly getting dragged into a heated and partisan row in Washington about the origins of the Russia probe,” Riley-Smith wrote on Twitter. “Trump’s allies are determined to portray the Russia investigation as a ‘deep state’ stitch-up that was out to get him from the start. The political motive is clear. If voters think FBI is biased and probe is invalid, they’re more likely to wave away its ultimate findings.”

Terror of gang violence drives migrant caravans northward

By Delphine Schrank and Goran Tomasevic
November 21, 2018

Former Honduran policeman Ivan says he moved homes so many times to escape the street gangs that terrorize his Central American country that he lost count. Fearful his sons would have to join the gangs or be killed, he eventually joined thousands of Hondurans fleeing to the United States.

The 45-year-old, who asked to be identified only by his first name, is journeying through Mexico in a caravan of several thousand mostly Honduran migrants who are fleeing violence and poverty for a better life in the United States.

The former policemen said the final straw in Honduras came when gang members put a gun to his 15-year-old son Yostin's head.

They wanted Yostin and younger brother Julio, 13, to join them, threatening death if they refused, Ivan said during a break in the caravan's northward journey at a temporary camp in a Mexico City stadium.

So when a caravan set off on Oct. 13 from the crime-racked Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, where the family was hiding with friends, they never hesitated. Reuters was not able to independently verify their story.

However, their motives echo others in the caravan and are a reminder of the influence the gangs called 'maras' wield across El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala despite almost 20 years of efforts to crush them.


the murder rate in Honduras remains one of the highest in the world. Some international aid organizations such as the Norwegian Refugee Council operate in the country with the same precautions as in war zones, and say inhabitants face the same dangers.


For some Hondurans who fail in their pursuit of the American Dream, deportation can mean an entrance into gang life.

Henry Fernando, an active member of MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, said he walked more than 3,000 miles and almost died in the desert crossing from Mexico to find his mother, who had left him for Virginia.

Quickly deported, MS-13 was the only home he found, he said, recalling the girlfriends, or "jainas", that leaders offered, serving as payment for the marijuana and crack cocaine he sold. Reuters was not able to independently verify his story.


The Science of Marginal Gains (How You Can Achieve Big Results From Small Wins)

This applies not just to changing our own habits, but also to changing the world.

Thomas Oppong
Nov. 15, 2018

I’m a big fan of micro habits.

A micro-habit is a small, simple action that doesn’t require much motivation, but will help you achieve just about anything in life.

Few repeated actions, done everyday, so discreet that they could easily go unnoticed.

That’s how long-term habits are formed.

That’s how you change behaviour.

Not radical pursuit of good habits.


Pick the easiest change, improve it each day by 1% and don’t stop until it’s routine. That’s how change happens. ​


To move in the direction of your priorities, take consistent action, no matter how small, move forward even you are taking a single step at a time, take new action, even if you if it’s for a few minutes.


Insurance companies spy on CPAP users, overcharge them

by Marshall Allen Nov. 21, 5 a.m. EST
This story was co-published with NPR


Like millions of people, he relies on a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine that streams warm air into his nose while he sleeps, keeping his airway open. Without it, Schmidt would wake up hundreds of times a night; then, during the day, he’d nod off at work, sometimes while driving and even as he sat on the toilet.

“I couldn’t keep a job,” he said. “I couldn’t stay awake.” The CPAP, he said, saved his career, maybe even his life.

As many CPAP users discover, the life-altering device comes with caveats: Health insurance companies are often tracking whether patients use them. If they aren’t, the insurers might not cover the machines or the supplies that go with them.

In fact, faced with the popularity of CPAPs, which can cost $400 to $800, and their need for replacement filters, face masks and hoses, health insurers have deployed a host of tactics that can make the therapy more expensive or even price it out of reach.

Patients have been required to rent CPAPs at rates that total much more than the retail price of the devices, or they’ve discovered that the supplies would be substantially cheaper if they didn’t have insurance at all.

Experts who study health care costs say insurers’ CPAP strategies are part of the industry’s playbook of shifting the costs of widely used therapies, devices and tests to unsuspecting patients.


The rental fees can surpass the retail cost of the machine, patients and doctors say. Alan Levy, an attorney who lives in Rahway, New Jersey, bought an individual insurance plan through the now-defunct Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey in 2015. When his doctor prescribed a CPAP, the company that supplied his device, At Home Medical, told him he needed to rent the device for $104 a month for 15 months. The company told him the cost of the CPAP was $2,400.

Levy said he wouldn’t have worried about the cost if his insurance had paid it. But Levy’s plan required him to reach a $5,000 deductible before his insurance plan paid a dime. So Levy looked online and discovered the machine actually cost about $500.

Levy said he called At Home Medical to ask if he could avoid the rental fee and pay $500 up front for the machine, and a company representative said no.


Longtime CPAP users say it’s well known that supplies are cheaper when they are purchased without insurance.


Saudi Arabia Allegedly Tortured Women's Rights Activists Before Khashoggi Murder

Alanna Vagianos
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
November 21, 2018

In the wake of the brutal torture and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, multiple reports have surfaced alleging that the Saudi Arabian government has also tortured and sexually harassed imprisoned women’s rights activists.

At least eight female activists detained in the last year have reportedly been tortured by Saudi officials while in the nation’s Dhahban Prison, according to The Wall Street Journal. According to three separate testimonies obtained by Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch, the torture included electric shock, whipping, sleep deprivation tactics and sexual misconduct including forcible kissing, touching and sexual assault.

The activists showed physical evidence of torture that included red marks on the body, uncontrollable shaking in the hands; some were unable to walk or even stand. One testimony alleged that a woman was hung from the ceiling for a long period of time, and at least one activist attempted suicide multiple times while detained. The activists were also reportedly kept in solitary confinement for at least several months.


Trump Thanks Saudi Arabia For Low Gas Prices After Jamal Khashoggi's Killing

Paige Lavender
Hayley Miller contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
November 21, 2018


President Donald Trump on Wednesday thanked Saudi Arabia for the declining price of oil, one day after he said the United States would back the country even if Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82,” Trump said in a tweet. “Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!”


Indonesia: dead whale had 1,000 pieces of plastic in stomach

Associated Press in Jakarta
Tue 20 Nov 2018 05.27 EST

A dead whale that washed ashore in eastern Indonesia had a large lump of plastic waste in its stomach, including flip-flops and 115 drinking cups, a park official has said, causing concern among environmentalists and government officials in one of the world’s largest plastic polluting countries.


Santoso said researchers from wildlife conservation group WWF and the park’s conservation academy found about 5.9kg (13lbs) of plastic waste in the animal’s stomach containing 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, two flip-flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other assorted pieces of plastic.

“Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful,” said Dwi Suprapti, a marine species conservation coordinator at WWF Indonesia.


Aid group: 85,000 children may have died of hunger in Yemen

Associated Press
November 21, 2018

A leading international aid group said Wednesday that an estimated 85,000 Yemeni children under the age of 5 may have died of hunger and disease since the outbreak of the country's civil war in 2015.

Save the Children based its figures on mortality rates for untreated cases of severe acute malnutrition, or SAM, in young children. The United Nations says more than 1.3 million children have suffered from SAM since a Saudi-led coalition went to war with Yemen's Houthi rebels in March 2015.

The aid group said its "conservative estimate" was that 84,701 children may have died, based on historical studies that find that 20 to 30 percent of untreated cases lead to death. Save the Children says it calculated the figure based on the number of cases reported in areas where aid groups were unable to intervene.

"For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it's entirely preventable," said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children's Yemen director. "Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop."


Save the Children blamed the widespread starvation on a Saudi-led blockade that was tightened a year ago after the Iran-aligned rebels fired a ballistic missile at the Saudi capital, Riyadh.


Barack Obama 'Crashes' Chicago Food Bank To Help Out For Thanksgiving

Lee Moran
November 21, 2018

Former President Barack Obama lent a helping hand at a food bank in Chicago on Tuesday.

Wearing a Chicago White Sox hat and latex gloves, Obama assisted volunteers at the Greater Chicago Food Depository to prepare food that will be distributed to those in need for Thanksgiving.


Obama visited and volunteered at food banks multiple times during his presidency, and was often joined by wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha.


California wildfire smoke spreads to New York, 3,000 miles away

Oliver Milman in New York
Wed 21 Nov 2018 11.29 EST

The US east coast has been provided a firsthand reminder of the deadly California wildfires after smoke swept across the country and caused a haze to envelop the eastern seaboard, including Washington DC and New York City.

Hazy skies were reported in several places on the east coast from smoke wafting from 3,000 miles further west, where wildfires in California have killed more than 80 people and razed more than 15,000 homes and other structures.


This smoky pall is still nothing compared with the situation on the west coast, where there have been shortages of protective masks in some places. Schools and sporting events have been shut down due to the dire air quality, although San Francisco’s famed tram network has now reopened. The air is still considered to be unhealthy but is expected to improve this week, with rain forecast for Wednesday.

The Camp fire in northern California is the deadliest blaze in the state’s history, with 83 confirmed deaths and 563 people still unaccounted for since it broke out earlier this month


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A troubling new IRS report suggests many Americans may be giving money right back to the government

By Alex Raskolnikov
Nov 01, 2018


millions of Americans looking forward to their tax refunds are about to be disappointed, even upset. They will not see their expected refunds when they file their returns in 2019. Even worse, many will be required to pay extra taxes. Why the change? The Republicans’ push to sell their tax law to the American public is the culprit.


How concerned is the Advisory Committee about a major increase in the number of “under-withheld” taxpayers who will have to pay extra tax during the filing season? Concerned enough to officially recommend that the IRS waive penalties for under-withholding.

That’s right, if you did nothing during 2018 about your taxes at all, you may end up owing not just extra taxes, but penalties as well — all because the IRS decided to rely on the old forms that you may have given to your employer years ago. The idea, of course, was for you to “start seeing a lot more money in your paycheck” as soon as possible, as Trump said. Unfortunately, all that money can come right out of your bank account in a few months, and then some.

If the IRS Advisory Committee is worried, you should be as well. So do yourself a favor — check that IRS withholding calculator. You may need to cut back on your holiday shopping after that.


IRS Withholding Calculator

Republican Tax Bill Will End Benefits for California Wildfire Victims

By Nicole Goodkind On 12/11/17 at 7:52 PM


Republican members of Congress are gunning to limit taxpayers’ ability to write off losses from wildfires and other natural disasters.

The House tax bill would eliminate the deduction that allows victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes to claim uninsured losses. The Senate version of the bill allows the deduction only if the president officially declares a federal disaster.


Over 58,000 wildfires in the U.S. have consumed more than 9 million acres so far this year. Under the Senate plan, few of these would qualify for the tax break.


How many husbands control the votes of their wives? We'll never know

Rebecca Solnit
Nov. 19, 2018


There’s a form of voter intimidation that widespread and unacknowledged. It’s the husbands who bully and silence and control their wives, as witnessed by dozens of door-to-door canvassers across the country I heard from.

I started asking around and found that a lot of get-out-the-vote ground troops had witnessed various forms of such bullying, intimidation and silencing in relation to this election and in earlier elections, too.


Many canvassers told me those experiences were common. I did not find stories of the reverse phenomenon – wives dominating their husbands, or husbands pushing their wives to vote for the Democratic candidate. Of course I talked to people canvassing for Democrats, and domestic violence takes place across the political spectrum, but the bullying seemed to be mostly either to oblige the wife to lean to the right or to not participate at all.


No one knows to what extent this domination may prevent women from voting according to their own beliefs and agendas or participating at all.

Of course there are plenty of rightwing women who are enthusiastically voting for the conservative of their choice, but when you look at the enormous gender gaps between Democrats and Republicans or hear the myriad door-to-door stories, you recognize that there are many marriages between Democratic women and Republican men, and many Republican men who intend to control their wives’ political expression.

The problem matters for voting rights whether or not it influences outcomes, and it’s also a reminder that many women are not free and equal in their domestic lives.


This ordinary, ugly scenario raises another question, about whether voting by mail takes away the privacy of the voting booth and the ability for women to act on their beliefs without consequences.


Make America Rake Again: Finland baffled by Trump's forest fire raking claim

Martin Belam and agencies
Mon 19 Nov 2018 07.07 EST

The people of Finland have reacted with bemusement on social media at Donald Trump’s assertions that the country rakes its forests to help prevent forest fires.

Speaking on Saturday in Paradise, California, about the role of forest management in stemming wildfires, Trump said: “I was with the president of Finland and he said: ‘We have, much different, we are a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation. And they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem.”

Finnish social media users immediately posted a range of jokes about Trump’s comments, which do not reflect the reality of how forests are managed in the country.

There were also people on hand to point out that the factors affecting whether there are forest fires are very different in California and Finland:

Malla Hadley @mallahadley

I grew up in Finland. a) it rains all year round. b) we have a lengthy and cold winter. c) Finland is a sparsely populated country with just over 5mil ppl, with land size ~3/4 of CA and most of it forests and lakes. d) no friggin body is raking the forests.
3:41 PM - Nov 17, 2018

For his part, Sauli Niinistö appears to recall the conversation somewhat differently. He said although he told Trump that the Finns took care of their forests, he did not specifically recall mentioning raking as part of the planning.


Trump’s comments about Finland’s forest management come after a summer where forest fires did rage in the Arctic Circle, with Finland’s neighbour Sweden most affected.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Anti-vaccine community behind North Carolina chickenpox outbreak

Also, chickenpox infection can lead to shingles later in life.

Nov. 19, 2018

A North Carolina school with a large anti-vaccine community is at the heart of the state's largest chickenpox outbreak in decades, officials say.

On Friday 36 students at Asheville Waldorf School were diagnosed with the disease, the Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper reported.

The school has one of the state's highest rates of religious exemption, allowing students to skip vaccination.


Chickenpox is a viral infection that causes a blister-like rash, itching, and fever. In serious cases, it can lead to complications like inflammation of the brain, pneumonia and death.

The virus spreads through contact or coughing and sneezing, though it is not as contagious as measles, which can be spread without any contact.


And though some individuals may still get chickenpox with the vaccine, it is very effective at preventing severe or life-threatening cases.

Vaccinating also helps protect susceptible individuals who are unable to get the vaccine, like pregnant women, infants younger than one-year-old and cancer patients.

Nearly 50 tons of ground beef recalled due to possible E. coli contamination

By Kate Gibson MoneyWatch November 19, 2018, 3:52 PM

The weekend recall of nearly 100,000 pounds of ground beef possibly tainted with E. coli is the second large meat recall in as many months by JBS USA, a unit of the world's largest meat processor.

Swift Beef Co. recalled 99.260 pounds of ground beef that many be contaminated with E. coli, a potentially deadly bacteria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

Swift Beef shipped the recalled meat to retail distributors for further processing and food service providers for institutional use in five states, including California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington, the agency said.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Yelp for Noise

By Patricia Marx
Oct. 1, 2018


Gregory Scott Farber described the app he created, SoundPrint, as “Yelp for noise.” The free program allows users to search for and grade restaurants and bars according to their sound level. “Places are getting louder,” Farber, who is forty-two, said. “People tell me, thirty or forty years ago you could go somewhere to eat and expect to have a conversation.”


1.1 Billion Millennials Are at Risk for a Condition Linked to Dementia

Of course, it's not just millennials who are affected. Plenty of older people have damaged hearing from loud music, power tools, etc.

Carrie Madormo

When you think about hearing loss, you probably picture someone in the later years of life. But research suggests that even people under 40 should be wary: The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion millennials worldwide are at risk for hearing loss most likely related to “extensive use of personal listening devices.” Studies show that nearly 50 percent of young adults ages 12 to 35 are cranking the volume in their earbuds to dangerously high decibels.


Worse yet, hearing loss may be linked to dementia. “Research currently shows a relationship between hearing loss and dementia—that is, people diagnosed with dementia have a higher prevalence of hearing loss, and the more severe the hearing loss, the greater the degree of dementia,” says Laurel Christensen, PhD, chief audiology officer at GN Hearing. “While the underlying cause is not completely known, there is enough of a relationship between hearing loss and dementia to warrant the monitoring of one’s hearing sensitivity,” she says.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Leading researchers call for a ban on widely used insecticides

November 9, 2018
University of California - Davis Health
Public health experts have found there is sufficient evidence that prenatal exposure to widely used insecticides known as organophosphates puts children at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders.

Public health experts have found there is sufficient evidence that prenatal exposure to widely used insecticides known as organophosphates puts children at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders.

In a scientific review and call to action published in PLOS Medicine, the researchers call for immediate government intervention to phase out all organophosphates.

"There is compelling evidence that exposure of pregnant women to very low levels of organophosphate pesticides is associated with lower IQs and difficulties with learning, memory or attention in their children," said lead author Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of public health sciences, director of the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center and researcher with the UC Davis MIND Institute.

"Although a single organophosphate -- chlorpyrifos -- has been in the national spotlight, our review implicates the entire class of these compounds," Hertz-Picciotto added.


People can come into contact with these chemicals through the food they eat, the water they drink and the air they breathe. As a result, organophosphate pesticides are detected in the vast majority of U.S. residents, according to Hertz-Picciotto.

While existing limits on organophosphates have reduced exposures, the review authors said this isn't enough. Based on more than 30 epidemiologic studies and scores of experimental studies in animals and cell cultures, they believe the evidence is clear: Exposure to organophosphates before birth, even at levels currently considered safe, is associated with poorer cognitive, behavioral and social development.

"It should be no surprise that studies confirm that these chemicals alter brain development, since they were originally designed to adversely affect the central nervous system," Hertz-Picciotto said.


Study of two tribes sheds light on role of Western-influenced diet in blood pressure

Public Release: 14-Nov-2018

Tribe with no Western dietary influences had no increase in blood pressure with advancing age, while neighboring tribe with modest exposure to Western diet, including processed foods, did have an increase

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health


Parents shouldn't worry if their infant doesn't sleep through the night by a year old

Public Release: 14-Nov-2018
Study of close to 400 infants found no association between interrupted sleep and later developmental problems
McGill University

New parents often expect their baby to start sleeping through the night by around six months of age. Indeed, they often receive messages from paediatricians and others about the importance of early sleep consolidation. But authors of a study in the December 2018 issue of Pediatrics found that a large percentage of healthy babies don't reach that milestone by six months of age, or even at a year old. The McGill-led research team also examined whether infants who didn't sleep for six or eight consecutive hours were more likely to have problems with psychomotor and mental development, and found no association. The researchers also found no correlation between infants waking up at night and their mothers' postnatal mood.


Bias-based bullying does more harm, is harder to protect against

Public Release: 14-Nov-2018
North Carolina State University

A new study finds that bias-based bullying does more harm to students than generalized bullying, particularly for students who are targeted because of multiple identities, such as race and gender. What's more, the study finds that efforts to mitigate these harms are less effective against bias-based bullying.

"Bias-based bullying is when children are bullied because of some aspect of their social identity, whether that's race, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation," says Kelly Lynn Mulvey, an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of a paper on the work. "Multiple bias-based bullying is when children are targeted because of two or more aspects of their social identity. These both differ from generalized bullying, in which kids are targeted because of things like their academic interests, being the new kid at school or their fashion choices."


"We found that victims of multiple bias-based bullying had the worst outcomes in three areas: fear of being harmed, school avoidance, and negative effects on their physical, psychological and academic well-being," Mulvey says. "Victims of one type of bias-based bullying fared second worst. Victims of generalized bullying still suffered adverse outcomes, but to a lesser extent than the other two groups."


How exercise could help fight drug addiction

Public Release: 14-Nov-2018
American Chemical Society

The siren call of addictive drugs can be hard to resist, and returning to the environment where drugs were previously taken can make resistance that much harder. However, addicts who exercise appear to be less vulnerable to the impact of these environmental cues. Now, research with mice suggests that exercise might strengthen a drug user's resolve by altering the production of peptides in the brain, according to a study in the journal ACS Omega.


tags: drug abuse, drug use

Certain diabetes drugs linked to increased risk of lower limb amputation

Public Release: 14-Nov-2018
Findings expand on current knowledge regarding safety of SGLT2 inhibitors

Although the absolute risk increase is small, the findings expand on current knowledge and quantify the risk of serious adverse events potentially linked to this group of drugs, say the researchers.

SGLT2 inhibitors are increasingly popular drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. They lower blood glucose levels by increasing glucose loss through the kidneys, but concerns have been raised regarding their safety.

For instance, some studies have suggested that their use may be associated with serious complications, including lower limb amputation, bone fracture, diabetic ketoacidosis, acute kidney injury, serious urinary tract infections, blood clots (venous thromboembolism) and acute pancreatitis.


use of SGLT2 inhibitors was associated with a two-fold increased risk of both lower limb amputation (2.7 vs 1.1 events per 1000 person years) and diabetic ketoacidosis (1.3 vs 0.6 events per 1000 person years), compared with GLP1 receptor agonists.

But there was no significant risk increase for bone fracture, acute kidney injury, serious urinary tract infection, venous thromboembolism or acute pancreatitis.

Findings remained consistent after further analyses to test the strength of the results.


Difficult-to-treat bowel cancers respond in first study of new drug combination

Public Release: 14-Nov-2018
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation

Dublin, Ireland: Early results from a phase I trial in a small group of patients with advanced cancer using two drugs (nivolumab and pixatimod) that stimulate the immune system report that patients with bowel cancer may benefit from the combination.


He said that the data suggested that a population of colorectal cancer patients, considered to be microsatellite stable (MSS), received benefit from the drug combination. MSS patients, unlike microsatellite unstable patients, have tumours bearing fewer signals that alert the immune system to the cancer. This is thought to be a major reason why checkpoint inhibitors, such as nivolumab, have been unsuccessful in treating MSS colorectal cancer (CRC).

"No patients with microsatellite stable colorectal cancers have been reported to respond to monotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy," he said. "However, in this study of a new drug combination, we observed clinical benefit in four out of five MSS CRC patients enrolled, including two demonstrating a reduction in the tumour burden."


Alcohol ads with pro-drinking comments on Facebook boost desire to drink

Public Release: 14-Nov-2018
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Alcohol advertisements on social media sites such as Facebook can increase young adults' desire to drink if the ads contain pro-drinking comments from users. That's according to new research in the current issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Social media users who view alcohol ads are also more likely to "Like" or "Share" an ad when it has pro-drinking comments, the new study shows.

"There is more information on social media than just a post or a message. We are exposed to how other users respond to a post, and it is those responses that can influence your desire to drink," says Dr. Jonathan Noel, the study's lead author. "Our findings suggest that comments left by other social media users may either reinforce or negate the message from a post."

With hundreds of corporate-sponsored alcohol ads on social media sites (with millions of Likes and Shares), plus millions of views of alcohol ads on YouTube, alcohol companies have expanded platforms to reach young consumers. The new study suggests that the industry needs to improve the voluntary self-regulatory system that governs its advertising, possibly by limiting or banning comments on social media advertising.
But the very purpose of alcohol ads is to encourage people to drink.


tags: drug use, drug abuse

Wishes help keep pediatric patients out of the hospital

Public Release: 13-Nov-2018
Nationwide Children's Hospital


As a member of the Medical Advisory Council of Make-A-Wish America, Anup Patel, MD, section chief of Neurology at Nationwide Children's Hospital, anecdotally could attest that wishes like Cimone's positively affected the patients he saw in the Complex Epilepsy Clinic at Nationwide Children's. As a clinician, he sought evidence to support his hypothesis that these experiences provided children with progressive, life-threatening, or critical illnesses more than hope - that in fact, they had a clinical benefit.

Whatever a child has wished for - a puppy, seeing snow for the first time or to meet their favorite celebrity - a recent study led by Nationwide Children's demonstrates that experiences, or "wishes," granted to pediatric patients can actually reduce health care utilization. In the retrospective study published online by Pediatric Research, patients granted a wish were 2.5 times more likely to have fewer unplanned hospital admissions and 1.9 times more likely not to have to use the emergency department. This led to a decline in cost of care even after accounting for the average cost of the wish.

"My patients have about a one to three percent chance of ever becoming seizure-free. Not every patient of mine who gets a wish is going to come back seizure-free, but they are going to improve," said Dr. Patel. "Their quality of life is going to be better and that might have an indirect impact on their seizures. They may have fewer seizures as a result, or be more likely to take their medications. Moreover, we are able to give them something they would not otherwise get: a break from their illness."