Thursday, January 30, 2020

Donald Trump is ‘just wrong’ about the economy, says Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz

Max Zahn Reporter
,Yahoo Finance•January 29, 2020

President Donald Trump told business and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland last week that the economy under his tenure has lifted up working- and middle-class Americans. In a newly released interview, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz sharply disagreed, saying Trump’s characterization is “just wrong.”


Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University who won the Nobel Prize in 2001, refuted the claim, saying the failure of Trump’s economic policies is evident in the decline in average life expectancy among Americans over each of the past three years.

“A lot of it is what they call deaths of despair,” he says. “Suicide, drug overdose, alcoholism — it’s not a pretty picture.”


“The remarkable thing is how weak wages are, how weak the economy is, given that as a result of the tax bill we have a $1 trillion deficit.”


Stiglitz pointed to Trump’s threats last week of tariffs on European cars to demonstrate that turmoil in U.S. trade relationships may continue, despite the recent completion of U.S. trade deals in North America and China.

“He can’t help but bully somebody,” Stiglitz said.

Longest-ever smuggling tunnel found on Southwest border

Jan. 30, 2020, 12:04 PM EST
By Associated Press

U.S. authorities this week announced the discovery of the longest smuggling tunnel ever found on the Southwest border, stretching more than three-quarters of a mile from an industrial site in Tijuana, Mexico, to the San Diego area.

The tunnel featured an extensive rail cart system, forced air ventilation, high voltage electrical cables and panels, an elevator at the tunnel entrance and a drainage system.


Three Democratic attorneys general sue to have Equal Rights Amendment added to Constitution

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
Updated 1:20 PM ET, Thu January 30, 2020

Three attorneys general of states that recently ratified the Equal Rights Amendment are suing to have the amendment added to the Constitution, challenging a Justice Department opinion that the deadline for passage expired decades ago.

In a complaint filed Thursday, the attorneys general of Virginia, Illinois and Nevada are asking the US District Court in Washington, DC, to force the archivist of the United States, who administers the ratification process, to "carry out his statutory duty of recognizing the complete and final adoption" of the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA would ban discrimination on the basis of sex and guarantee equality for women under the Constitution.


The Justice Department has disagreed. Responding to a lawsuit brought by three conservative-leaning states, its Office of Legal Counsel declared earlier this month that the deadline to ratify the ERA has expired and the matter is no longer pending before the states. In doing so, the Justice Department has blocked the archivist, David Ferriero, an Obama appointee, from taking action.
The attorneys general of Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota had sued the archivist in December, arguing that he is "acting illegally" by continuing "to hold open the ratification process" and refusing to recognize some states' rescissions of the amendment.


Low-calorie sweeteners do not mean low risk for infants

News Release 29-Jan-2020
University of Calgary

Many people turn to artificial or so-called natural sweeteners to cut calories and lose weight. A new study led by Dr. Raylene Reimer, PhD, published in the high-impact journal Gut discovered that the consumption of low-calorie sweeteners while pregnant increased body fat in their offspring and disrupted their gut microbiota - the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal tract and affect our health and risk of numerous diseases.

The findings are significant as they impact the critical early years of life, particularly during pregnancy and breast feeding.


Medicaid expansion reduce cancer, saves black lives

News Release 29-Jan-2020
A study in North Carolina shows expanding Medicaid reduces colorectal cancer and improves access to care for men of all races.
University of Connecticut

Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina could sharply lessen the burden of colon cancers in the state and save the lives of thousands of Black men as well as improving access to care for men of all races, researchers report in the 27 January issue of PLOS ONE.


Poverty associated with suicide risk in children and adolescents

News Release 29-Jan-2020
Boston Children's Hospital

Suicide in children under age 20 has been increasing in the U.S., with rates almost doubling over the last decade. Between 2007 to 2016, nearly 21,000 children ages 5-19 years old died by suicide. While the reasons for the increase are not well understood, new research from Boston Children's Hospital shows a link between poverty and suicide in children and teens nationwide.


Lee and colleagues have been studying how poverty affects children's health for several years. In an earlier paper, they discovered an increased risk of death for children < 5 years old from child abuse associated with counties with higher poverty levels.


Higher maternal socioeconomics offer little protection against toxic prenatal stress

News Release 29-Jan-2020
Children's National Hospital

When pregnant women experience elevated anxiety, stress or depression, these prenatal stressors can alter the structure of the developing fetal brain and disrupt its biochemistry - even if these women have uncomplicated pregnancies and high socioeconomic status, according to Children's National Hospital research published online Jan. 29, 2020, in JAMA Network Open.


Never too late to quit -- protective cells could cut risk of lung cancer for ex-smokers

News Release 29-Jan-2020
Cancer Research UK

Protective cells in the lungs of ex-smokers could explain why quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing lung cancer, Cancer Research UK-funded researchers have determined.

Scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and UCL have discovered that compared to current smokers, people who had stopped smoking had more genetically healthy lung cells, which have a much lower risk of developing into cancer.


Drinking alcohol during pregnancy: #DRYMESTER the only safe approach

News Release 28-Jan-2020
University of Bristol

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy leads to poorer cognitive functioning in children, according to the most comprehensive review on the issue to date. The University of Bristol research published today [29 January] in the International Journal of Epidemiology, reviewed 23 published studies on the topic and found evidence that drinking in pregnancy could also lead to lower birthweight. The findings reinforce the UK Chief Medical Officers' #DRYMESTER guidelines, which is abstaining from alcohol in all trimesters.


On the menu: Study says dining out is a recipe for unhealthy eating for most Americans

News Release 29-Jan-2020
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus

The typical American adult gets one of every five calories from a restaurant, but eating out is a recipe for meals of poor nutritional quality in most cases, according to a new study by researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.


At fast-food restaurants, 70 percent of the meals Americans consumed were of poor dietary quality in 2015-16, down from 75 percent in 2003-04. At full-service restaurants, about 50 percent were of poor nutritional quality, an amount that remained stable over the study period. The remainder were of intermediate nutritional quality.

Notably, the authors found that less than 0.1 percent - almost none - of all the restaurant meals consumed over the study period were of ideal quality.


Study: Antioxidant flavonol linked to lower risk of Alzheimer's dementia

News Release 29-Jan-2020
American Academy of Neurology

People who eat or drink more foods with the antioxidant flavonol, which is found in nearly all fruits and vegetables as well as tea, may be less likely to develop Alzheimer's dementia years later, according to a study published in the January 29, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"More research is needed to confirm these results, but these are promising findings," said study author Thomas M. Holland, MD, of Rush University in Chicago. "Eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea could be a fairly inexpensive and easy way for people to help stave off Alzheimer's dementia. With the elderly population increasing worldwide, any decrease in the number of people with this devastating disease, or even delaying it for a few years, could have an enormous benefit on public health."


Infants of moms who smoke while pregnant at heightened risk of fracture during first year of life

News Release 29-Jan-2020

Infants of mothers who smoke during early pregnancy appear to have a small increased risk of fractures during the first year of life, finds a study from Sweden published by The BMJ today.

But the results show no long lasting effect on fracture risk later in childhood and up to early adulthood, suggesting that smoking in pregnancy only has a short term influence on bone health, say the researchers.

Many studies have found a link between smoking during pregnancy and growth problems in infants.


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

New York man exonerated after serving 25-year prison sentence

By Rebecca Klar - 01/29/20 11:39 AM EST

A judge formally cleared a New York man of rape charges on Tuesday after DNA tests showed he wasn't a match for the rape that put him in prison.


While incarcerated, Ruiz obtained assistance from attorney William Tendy, who further investigated the situation and discovered an alternate suspect who fit the description, even by name, that the rape victim gave.


The victim also told prosecutors in a September 2018 interview she remembered “feeling pressure” from the original detectives to identify a suspect, the Times reported, citing court documents.


Pacific Ocean’s rising acidity causes Dungeness crabs’ shells to dissolve

Lauren Aratani
Tue 28 Jan 2020 11.50 EST

The Pacific Ocean is becoming so acidic it is starting to dissolve the shells of a key species of crab, according to a new US study.

Scientists found that the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable species for recreational and commercial fisheries, is starting to weaken as its larvae are affected by rising ocean acidity.

The study was published in the Science of the Total Environment academic journal and funded by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It found that acidity is affecting the shells of crab larvae, making them more vulnerable to predators and limiting shell effectiveness in supporting the growth of muscles.

Lower pH levels have also helped destabilize the larvae’s mechanoreceptors, increasing the possibility of loss of important sensory and behavioral functions.


Ocean acidity is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels. As carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, the gas dissolves into ocean water, producing weak carbonic acid.

Since the industrial revolution, the average pH of the ocean has fallen from 8.2 to 8.1, which corresponds to an increase in acidity of about 26%. Scientists and activists have long warned about ocean acidity and its harm to marine life.

Given that crustaceans play an important role in the marine ecosystem, the weakening of crustacean species could be devastating.

Another study published this month found that microplastics are affecting the reproduction of sand crabs, which eat by filtering small particles from sand. Sand crabs are themselves prey for seabirds, fish and marine mammals.

Getting certified

Jan. 29, 2019

I didn't have to listen to a lot of aggravating impeachment stuff yesterday because early in the afternoon our Tax-Aide group had a dry run, setting up connections to our server and printer. Then I went to Barnes & Noble to work on certification. I'll be doing that for several more days, so will be spending very little time on social media, such as this blog.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Abortion rates fell as countries made it legal and ok'd birth control

March 20, 2018, 6:11 PM EDT / Updated March 21, 2018, 7:52 AM EDT
By Maggie Fox

Abortion rates have fallen over the past 25 years, even as more countries have made the procedure legal and easier to get, according to a new report released Tuesday.

Countries with the most restrictive abortion laws also have the highest rates of abortion, the study by the Guttmacher Institute found. Easier access to birth control drives down abortion rates, the report also finds.


And the Trump Health and Human Services Department has reversed Obama era policies that made contraception more freely available and that used evidence-based approaches to fight teen pregnancy — over the objections of career health officials.

A 2012 study of more than 9,000 women found that when women got no-cost birth control, the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions fell by between 62 and 78 percent. But political appointees at HHS advocate for abstinence-only approaches, which have been shown not to affect unplanned pregnancy rates.

The report from Guttmacher, which studies reproductive health issues, found rates of both abortions and of unintended pregnancies have fallen worldwide.

“Improved contraceptive use, and in turn, declines in unintended pregnancy rates are the likely driver behind the worldwide decline in abortion rates,” Susheela Singh, vice president for international research at the Guttmacher Institute, said in a statement.

Expert: Georgia election server showed signs of tampering

By FRANK BAJAKJanuary 16, 2020

A computer security expert says he found that a forensic image of the election server central to a legal battle over the integrity of Georgia elections showed signs that the original server was hacked.

The server was left exposed to the open internet for at least six months, a problem the same expert discovered in August 2016. It was subsequently wiped clean in mid-2017 with no notice, just days after election integrity activists filed a lawsuit seeking an overhaul of what they called the state’s unreliable and negligently run election system.


Fossil Fuel Companies Spend Hundreds of Millions of Dollars to Convince You Climate Change Isn't Real. Here's How.

by Mark Maslin
January 24, 2020

The fossil fuel industry, political lobbyists, media moguls and individuals have spent the past 30 years sowing doubt about the reality of climate change - where none exists. The latest estimate is that the world’s five largest publicly-owned oil and gas companies spend about US$200 million a year on lobbying to control, delay or block binding climate policy.


At such a crossroads, it is important to be able to identify the different types of denial. The below taxonomy will help you spot the different ways that are being used to convince you to delay action on climate change.


1. Science denial ...

2. Economic denial ...

3. Humanitarian denial ...

4. Political denial ...

5. Crisis denial ...

Arctic Ice Loss Is Not as Scary as the Giant Stirring in the South

Even conservative leaning media is recognizing the dangers of the climate crisis.

by Nerilie Abram Matthew England Matt King
January 26, 2020

A record start to summer ice melt in Greenland this year has drawn attention to the northern ice sheet. We will have to wait to see if 2019 continues to break ice-melt records, but in the rapidly warming Arctic the long-term trends of ice loss are clear.


Antarctica is an icy giant compared to its northern counterpart. The water frozen in the Greenland ice sheet is equivalent to around 7 metres[23 feet] of potential sea level rise. In the Antarctic ice sheet there are around 58 metres [190 feet] of sea-level rise currently locked away.

Like Greenland, the Antarctic ice sheet is losing ice and contributing to unabated global sea level rise. But there are worrying signs Antarctica is changing faster than expected and in places previously thought to be protected from rapid change.


Scientists have long been worried about the potential weakness of ice in West Antarctica because of its deep interface with the ocean. This concern was flagged in the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) way back in 1990, although it was also thought that substantial ice loss from Antarctica wouldn’t be seen this century. Since 1992 satellites have been monitoring the status of the Antarctic ice sheet and we now know that not only is ice loss already underway, it is also vanishing at an accelerating rate.

The latest estimates indicate that 25% of the West Antarctic ice sheet is now unstable, and that Antarctic ice loss has increased five-fold over the past 25 years. These are remarkable numbers, bearing in mind that more than 4 metres of global sea-level rise are locked up in the West Antarctic alone.

Trump ally Graham says he'd back subpoena for Bolton manuscript -CNN reporter

Reuters•January 27, 2020

U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a vocal ally of President Donald Trump, said on Monday he would support a subpoena to obtain former White House national security adviser John Bolton's book manuscript, according to a CNN reporter.

"What we have to do here is evaluate the manuscript and see if it's a reason to add to the record," Graham said, according to a tweet from the CNN reporter.


In a report on Sunday, the New York Times cited the manuscript as saying Trump told Bolton he wanted to withhold security aid to Ukraine until they helped investigate Democrats, including Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 presidential nomination. (Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Tim Ahmann)

Mnuchin Wants to Delay Disclosure of Trump Travel Expenses Until After Elections

achary Evans
,National Review•January 9, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is seeking to delay the disclosure of Secret Service-records of travel expenses for President Trump until after the 2020 elections in the face of Democrats’ demands for the documents, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Mnuchin is currently working with senators to draft legislation that would move the Secret Service under the purview of the Treasury Department. During those negotiations, Democrats involved in the draft process have demanded that the Secret Service disclose travel expenses for the President and his family members within 120 days of the bill’s passing.


Travel expenses for President Trump in just one month of 2017 came in at $13.6 million, as estimated by the congressional-watchdog Government Accountability Office. In March 2017, as the Secret Service was adjusting to Trump’s frequent golf outings and trips to his various properties, the agency asked Congress for an additional $60 million in funds to be entirely allocated to Trump’s travel, according to internal documents reviewed by the Post. According to federal spending data posted online, the secret service has spent $588,000 on golf carts alone while protecting Trump on his many outings.

Ornithologists, Birdwatchers Uncover Staggering Magnitude of Bird Population Decline

By Ari Dubow
September 26, 2019

Cornell Lab of Ornithology conservation scientist Dr. Ken Rosenberg led an international team of 12 scientists in an analysis of decades of data on bird population — and the conclusion is disturbing. In the last 50 years, one in four birds in North America has disappeared.

Pesticide use and loss of habitat to farmland are some of the most significant contributors to the decline in bird populations, according to Rosenberg. Although scientists have known for a long time that certain bird species were threatened by human activities, this study reveals that these issues apply to birds of nearly all species.

“Seeing this net loss of three million birds was shocking,” Rosenberg said.

The infographics show that while all bird communities in almost ecological zones have suffered, grassland birds have suffered the greatest, experiencing a 53 percent decline over the past 50 years. Some specific species have been particularly hard-hit. In the same time frame, six out of every 10 wood thrushes, three out of every four eastern meadowlarks and nine out of every 10 evening grosbeaks have vanished.


Under Trump, the number of uninsured Americans has gone up by 7 million

By Sarah Jan 23, 2019, 10:00am EST

The number of Americans without health insurance has increased by 7 million since President Donald Trump took office, new Gallup data released Wednesday shows.

The country’s uninsured rate has steadily ticked upward since 2016, rising from a low of 10.9 percent in late 2016 to 13.7 percent — a four-year high.


The astounding advantage the Electoral College gives to Republicans

By Ian Millhiser Sep 17, 2019, 7:50am EDT


Republicans, moreover, are far more likely to benefit from an inversion than Democrats. “In the modern period,” the study suggests, “Republicans should be expected to win 65% of Presidential contests in which they narrowly lose the popular vote.”

This Republican advantage can shift elections where the Democrat was a fairly clear winner in the popular vote. “A 3.0 point margin favoring the Democrat,” the study concludes, “is associated with a 16% inversion probability.” In other words, Republicans will win nearly one in six presidential races where they lose the popular vote by 3 points.


It’s not hard to imagine 2020 producing an even starker inversion. Historically red states like Texas and Arizona are trending toward Democrats, but most likely not enough to flip those states in the next election. If Democrats narrow Trump’s margins in those states, while Trump barely holds onto states like Florida or Wisconsin, the next Democratic candidate could win the popular vote by 5 million votes or more — and still lose the Electoral College.

Scores of Republican lawmakers enriched themselves off the Trump tax cuts, report says

Joseph Zeballos-Roig
Jan. 24, 2020, 01:51 PM

Many Republican lawmakers profited off the tax cuts President Trump signed into law in 2017, according to a joint investigation by Center for Public Integrity and Vox on Friday.

The report sheds light on the lack of federal guardrails in place that prevents lawmakers from crafting and passing legislation they stand to benefit from.

Forty-six of the 47 Republicans across three congressional committees responsible for drafting the law held stock and stock mutual funds, according to the report, which reviewed members' financial disclosure forms. The law likely shaved hundreds of thousands of dollars off their tax bills.


Sunday, January 26, 2020

Reagan's Solicitor General Says 'All Honorable People' Have Left Trump's Cabinet: 'He is Capable of Doing Serious Damage'

By Roger Parloff On 1/22/20 at 6:00 AM EST

Charles Fried was a fervent, superior officer on the frontlines of the Reagan Revolution. As solicitor general of the United States from 1985 to 1989, he urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the reigning liberal orthodoxies of his day—on abortion, civil rights, executive power and constitutional interpretation.

But the Trump Revolution has proven a bridge too far. As he reveals in a scorching interview with Newsweek's Roger Parloff below, Fried has broken ranks. He denounces a president who is "perhaps the most dishonest person to ever sit in the White House." As disgusted as he is by President Donald Trump, Fried is, if possible, even more dismayed by William Barr, Trump's current attorney general, for having stepped up as Trump's chief apologist. Fried says of Barr. "His reputation is gone."


But the fact is, all the honorable people in the Cabinet have left. And what you have left is people who are willing to say anything, as Barr is. And you saw the way he treated the Mueller Report, which he misrepresented, because that is what his boss would have wanted.


Neat. He quotes one of my favorite hymns.

As the hymn goes:

"Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side."

The man shames the office and the nation: he is a man of low character and repellent personality.


So Trump Employs Undocumented Immigrants at His Properties and Nobody Really Cares?

By Jack Holmes
Jan 2, 2020

When ICE raided some chicken plants in Mississippi last year, they rounded up nearly 700 undocumented immigrant workers. They did not arrest the managers or corporate executives who systematically employed them. This fits a pattern, according to The New York Times: between March 2018 and 2019, the feds prosecuted 112,000 people for illegal entry or re-entry, but charged just 11 employers for hiring some of these same people.


It's employers who are primed for a change in incentive structure, yet they are rarely, if ever, punished. It's enough to make you think this is not, nor has it never been, about the plight of the American worker. It's a regime where workers can be simultaneously exploited by employers and demonized by political elites, ground up by the great American machine.


Donald Trump, you see, has always employed undocumented immigrants—at many of his properties, on many of his construction projects. He has no issue with these people except when it's convenient fodder for a rage spasm to get The Base going. The latest example arrived on the last day of 2019 via the Washington Post.


This goes all the way back to the '80s, of course, when Trump had hundreds of undocumented Polish immigrants building Trump Tower. He paid them as little as $4 an hour—and always well below union wage—because that's why people like Donald Trump employ people without papers. He ultimately settled a lawsuit around the workers' treatment. It's fitting that the people who made his flagship project possible would fit the theoretical description of the people he has built a political career smearing as criminals. (In practice, he is referring to brown immigrants.) But it also fits because Trump is merely a particularly garish emblem of the post-Reagan plutocrat class, where greed is good and other people—whether they're undocumented workers or they own a small contracting business—are just marks waiting to get fleeced.


By Joshua Partlow and
David A. Fahrenthold
Dec. 31, 2019 at 7:38 p.m. EST

Nearly a year after the Trump Organization pledged to root out undocumented workers at its properties, supervisors at the Trump Winery on Monday summoned at least seven employees and fired them because of their lack of legal immigration status, according to two of the dismissed workers.

The timing of the firings at the rural Virginia winery, 11 months after the company began purging the ranks of undocumented greenskeepers and cooks at Trump golf courses, came during the vineyard’s winter downtime. Workers had finished the arduous annual grape harvest, which involved working 60-hour weeks and overnight shifts under floodlights.

Two of the fired workers — Omar Miranda, a 42-year-old tractor driver from Honduras, and a second employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect family members seeking to stay in the United States — said they thought the company had held off on firing them until after the year’s work was complete, taking advantage of their labor for as long as possible. Both had worked at the winery for more than a decade.


Friday, January 24, 2020

Frequency of intense floods and storms could double in 13 years, says study

Emily Holden in Washington
Fri 24 Jan 2020 04.00 EST

Intense floods and storms around the world could double in frequency within 13 years, as climate breakdown and socioeconomic factors combine, according to a new study.

The authors of the analysis say it’s the first to incorporate historical local and global climate data and information about population density, income and poverty to estimate how many hard-hitting disasters to expect. They counted floods and storms that would affect 1,000 people or kill 100 people.

Broadly, the researchers also see governments around the world as critically unprepared. The authors found very high risks for countries such as Australia, Bangladesh and China. Risks are highest for countries that are already seeing far more extreme events than the global average.

The study is published in the peer-reviewed Climate, Disaster and Development Journal.


Don Wuebbles, a professor of atmosphere sciences at the University of Illinois who worked on the 2018 US National Climate Assessment, said the study might be underestimating future disasters by assuming disasters will continue to increase at the current rate.


Poll: Majority think Senate should call witnesses in Trump impeachment trial

By J. Edward Moreno - 01/24/20 05:54 PM EST

Sixty-six percent of Americans believe the Senate should call in new witnesses during the impeachment trial against President Trump, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Friday.


New Vehicle Recalls Announced for Takata Airbags

Wednesday, 22 January 2020 22:30

Last month the NHSTA or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered new recalls last month for many brands of vehicles. Below are the links to check your vehicle.

We know everybody doesn't own a Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Acura, Nissan so I have included the links to the top 11 auto manufacturers. The Takata airbag was installed in most of these manufacturers models excluding Hyundai and Kia.


Neo-Nazi Rinaldo Nazzaro running US militant group The Base from Russia

Is this another plot by Russia to divide and weaken our country?
These people are encouraged by Trump.

Please consider making a donation to The Guardian.

By Daniel De Simone, Andrei Soshnikov & Ali Winston BBC News
Jan. 24, 2020

The American founder of US-based militant neo-Nazi group The Base is directing the organisation from Russia, a BBC investigation has found.

Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who uses the aliases "Norman Spear" and "Roman Wolf", left New York for St Petersburg less than two years ago.

The Base is a major counter terrorism focus for the FBI.

Seven alleged members were charged this month with various offences, including conspiracy to commit murder.

Court documents prepared by the FBI describe The Base as a "racially motivated violent extremist group" that "seeks to accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war, and establish a white ethno-state".


The trio, accused of conspiring to murder an anti-fascist couple and their children, were allegedly counselled by the leader to carry out "non-attributable actions but that will still send a message".

A separate Guardian investigation has today also named Nazzaro as leader of The Base.


Jason Wilson
Thu 23 Jan 2020 20.19 EST
Last modified on Fri 24 Jan 2020 01.00 EST

The Guardian has learned the true identity of the leader and founder of the US-based neo-Nazi terror network the Base, which was recently the target of raids by the FBI after an investigation into domestic terrorism uncovered their plans to start a race war.

Members of the group stand accused of federal hate crimes, murder plots and firearms offenses, and have harbored international fugitives in recent months.

The Base’s leader previously operated under the aliases “Norman Spear” and “Roman Wolf”. Members of the network do not know his true identity due to the group’s culture of internal secrecy.

But the Guardian can reveal that “Norman Spear” is in fact US-born Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who has a long history of advertising his services as an intelligence, military and security contractor. He has claimed, under his alias, to have served in Russia and Afghanistan.

The revelation of his identity comes after a months-long investigation by the Guardian into Nazzaro and the activities of the Base.


“We have a significant increase in racially motivated violent extremism in the United States and, I think, a growing increase in white nationalism and white supremacy extremist movements,” Jay Tabb, the head of national security for the FBI, said at an event in Washington recently.

Under the motto “there is no political solution”, the Base embraces an “accelerationist” ideology, which holds that acts of violence and terror are required in order to push liberal democracy towards collapse, preparing the way for white supremacists to seize power and institute an ethnostate.


Law enforcement sources have indicated on background that Nazzaro is believed by some agencies to be working for the Russian government.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Insider SurveyMonkey Audience polling shows that Americans under 30 support removing Trump from office by a nearly 3-to-1 ratio

Grace Panetta
,Business Insider•January 23, 2020


Among Americans aged 18-29, 63% said Trump should be removed from office, compared to 24% who think he shouldn't be, and 13% who didn't know.

For Americans aged 30-44, 56% said Trump should be removed from office in contrast with 28% who think he should not be removed, and 15.8% who don't know.

Among those aged 45-60, 47.6% think that Trump should be removed from office compared to 42% who think he should not be removed, and 10% who don't know.

For Americans aged 60 and older, a narrow majority of 51% believed Trump should be removed from office in contrast to 40% who think he should not be removed, and 8% who don't know.


PEW Research Center

Jan 22, 2020


Roughly half of U.S. adults (51%) say the outcome of the Senate trial should be Trump’s removal from office, while 46% say the result should lead to Trump remaining in office. An overwhelming share of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (86%) say the trial should result in Trump remaining in office, while roughly the same share of Democrats and Democratic leaners (85%) think Trump should be removed.

While the public’s preferences for the outcome of the Senate trial are closely divided, 63% of Americans say Trump has definitely (38%) or probably (25%) done things that are illegal, either during his time in office or while he was running for president. A larger majority (70%) say he has definitely (45%) or probably (26%) done unethical things, according to the new survey, conducted Jan. 6-19 among 12,638 U.S. adults on Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.


And while a 56% majority of Americans ages 65 and older say Trump should remain in office, 63% of those under 30 say the trial should lead to Trump’s removal.


Note that much of this survey was fielded before the beginning of the trial and the release of the Senate rules.


White Nationalists Arrested ahead of Richmond Rally Planned to Kill Gun-Rights Demonstrators to Spark Civil War

Trump has encouraged these people.

Mairead McArdle
,National Review•January 22, 2020

Three alleged members of a white supremacist group were plotting to murder demonstrators at Monday’s gun rights rally at the Virginia Capitol before they were arrested by the FBI last week, according to court documents.

The men were caught discussing their plans on a hidden camera set up in their Delaware apartment by FBI agents.

“We can’t let Virginia go to waste, we just can’t,” said Patrik J. Mathews, one member of the hate group “the Base” that promotes violence against African-Americans and Jews.

According to authorities, the 27-year-old former Canadian Armed Forces reservist also discussed creating “instability” in Virginia by killing people, derailing trains, poisoning water, and shutting down highways in order to “kick off the economic collapse” and possibly start a “full blown civil war.”

Mathews also discussed the possibility of “executing” police officers and stealing their belongings and remarked that, “We could essentially be like literally hunting people.”


Watch Live: House impeachment managers resume arguments against President Trump in Senate trial Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows two-thirds of voters want the Senate to call new impeachment witnesses

Andrew RomanoWest Coast Correspondent
,Yahoo News•January 22, 2020

Nearly two-thirds of registered voters (63 percent) agree with Democrats that the Senate should call new witnesses to testify during President Trump’s impeachment trial, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. Only 26 percent of voters disagree.


Either way, the Americans surveyed expressed a lack of confidence in the Senate trial, with a plurality (42 percent) saying it will not be conducted fairly — 10 points higher than the percentage who say the trial will be fair. Among Democrats, the “unfair” response number rises to 63 percent, and a plurality of independents (40 percent) agree. Only Republicans (57 percent) believe the Senate will conduct a fair trial.


Overall, registered voters remained divided over whether the president should be removed from office, with 46 percent saying he should, 45 percent saying he shouldn’t and nine percent saying they’re not sure. Three-quarters of registered voters, however, predict that the Republican-controlled Senate will decline to convict and remove Trump.


Tanker Plane Fighting Australia's Bushfires Crashes, Killing Crew Of 3 Americans

January 23, 20204:21 AM ET
Scott Neuman

Three firefighters helping fight Australia's bushfires were killed Thursday when the C-130 tanker aircraft they were operating crashed south of the capital, Canberra.

Fitzsimmons said all three aboard the airplane were U.S. residents, but he declined to name them pending notification of the families.

The crash, which occurred near Cooma, northeast of the Snowy Mountains, comes as Australia continues fighting massive bushfires fueled by record-setting temperatures. A fire southeast of Canberra, one of several firefighters are battling, has engulfed nearly 1,000 square miles and is considered out of control.


Since September, 32 people have been killed as a result of the bushfires, including more than a dozen firefighters.

The bushfires, which have scorched an area larger than the state of Pennsylvania, have also killed an estimated 1 billion animals and destroyed 2,500 homes.

Mueller: I did not clear Trump of obstruction of justice

A reminder, since Trump keeps lying about this.

Jul 24, 2019 9:53 AM EST

Former Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller told lawmakers Wednesday he could not exonerate President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice and that the president’s claims that he had done so in his report are not correct.

“The president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed,” Mueller declared at the opening of congressional hearings into his investigation of Russian interference to help Trump win the 2016 election.


US drinking water contamination with ‘forever chemicals’ far worse than scientists thought

Wed 22 Jan 2020 13.08 EST
Last modified on Wed 22 Jan 2020 13.41 EST

The contamination of US drinking water with manmade “forever chemicals” is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans, said a report on Wednesday by an environmental watchdog group.

The chemicals, resistant to breaking down in the environment, are known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems.

The findings here by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show the group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, that 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.

“It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report.

The chemicals were used in products like Teflon and Scotchguard and in firefighting foam. Some are used in a variety of other products and industrial processes, and their replacements also pose risks.


The EPA has known since at least 2001 about the problem of PFAS in drinking water but has so far failed to set an enforceable, nationwide legal limit. The EPA said early last year it would begin the process to set limits on two of the chemicals, PFOA and PFOS.

The EPA said it has helped states and communities address PFAS and that it is working to put limits on the two main chemicals but did not give a timeline.

In 2018 a draft report from an office of the US Department of Health and Human Services said the risk level for exposure to the chemicals should be up to 10 times lower than the 70 PPT threshold the EPA recommends. The White House and the EPA had tried to stop the report from being published.

World’s consumption of materials hits record 100bn tonnes a year

Damian Carrington Environment editor
Wed 22 Jan 2020 07.08 EST

The amount of material consumed by humanity has passed 100bn tonnes every year, a report has revealed, but the proportion being recycled is falling.

The climate and wildlife emergencies are driven by the unsustainable extraction of fossil fuels, metals, building materials and trees. The report’s authors warn that treating the world’s resources as limitless is leading towards global disaster.

The materials used by the global economy have quadrupled since 1970, far faster than the population, which has doubled. In the last two years, consumption has jumped by more than 8% but the reuse of resources has fallen from 9.1% to 8.6%.


The report found that 100.6bn tonnes of materials were consumed in 2017, the latest year for which data is available. Half of the total is sand, clay, gravel and cement used for building, along with the other minerals quarried to produce fertiliser. Coal, oil and gas make up 15% and metal ores 10%. The final quarter are the plants and trees used for food and fuel.

The lion’s share of the materials – 40% – is turned into housing. Other major categories include food, transport, healthcare, communications, and consumer goods such as clothes and furniture.

Almost a third of the annual materials remain in use after a year, such as buildings and vehicles. But 15% is emitted into the atmosphere as climate-heating gases and nearly a quarter is discarded into the environment, such as plastic in waterways and oceans. A third of the materials is treated as waste, mostly going to landfill and mining spoil heaps. Just 8.6% is recycled.


Trump impeachment needed

Some people are saying why remove Trump from office now, why not just let him serve out his term, which they refer to as being less than a year away. The election is Nov. 3. But the current president would still be in office until Jan. 20, 2 1/2 months later. If Trump loses the electoral college this time, what do you think he will do in those 2 1/2 months? Very scary to think about.

Rising temperatures put more US workers at risk of dying from heat

Michael Sainato
Wed 22 Jan 2020 03.00 EST
Last modified on Wed 22 Jan 2020 03.02 EST

It was more than 100F (38C) in the attic where telephone technician Brent Robinson was working.

The 55-year-old, who had worked for 30 years at Verizon, was installing a phone service for a residential customer in Rancho Cucamonga, 40 miles east of Los Angeles in southern California.

He had been out for days sick earlier in the week.

After he finished the job in Rancho Cucamonga, he collapsed in the car park of a grocery store where he had gone for a cool drink; paramedics could not revive him.

Robinson, who died in 2011, is one of dozens of workers who die every year because of heat exposure. In 2018, 60 workers died due to temperature extremes, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data on workplace fatalities.

Though the climate crisis is creating conditions where workers are facing hotter temperatures on a more frequent basis, there are no federal safety protections for workers in extreme temperatures, and only three states, California, Washington and Minnesota, have heat stress workplace protection standards.


According to projections conducted by the not-for-profit organization Climate Central, the number of dangerous heat days for 133 US cities, will increase from 20 a year on average in 2000 to 58 in 2050. A dangerous heat day is defined as one in which the heat index, accounting for heat and humidity, exceeds 104F (40C).


“Climate change means it’s only getting hotter, and workers are at exposure for all kinds of excessive heat,” Judy Chu, a Democratic congresswoman from California, told the Guardian.

Earlier this year, she introduced the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act of 2019, which would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha) to issue and enforce standards to protect workers from heat-related risks on the job.

Chu said: “It all started when I was in the California state assembly. The United Farm Workers came to me about the situation with Asuncion Valdivia. He was a farmworker picking grapes for 10 hours straight when he collapsed in 105F temperatures.

“Instead of having any kind of proper treatment for him, a supervisor told his son to take him home. They didn’t even call an ambulance. On the way home, the son saw his father foam at the mouth, fall over and die. So the son had to watch his father die of a preventable heat stroke.”


“We’ve had issues where workers are not classified as dying because of their job when we know that is the case,” said Rebecca Reindel, senior safety and health specialist at the AFL-CIO union federation. “With heat you’re running into a lot of vulnerable workers, immigrant workers, where employers will pass it off, say something else happened, and no one is following up and that person’s family don’t know their rights to get it classified as a workplace fatality.”


Republicans push to weaken court that caught them rigging elections

No surprise, exactly what would be expected after the supreme court ruling. The republicans are dedicated to power regardless of fairness.

Sam Levine
Thu 23 Jan 2020 06.00 EST
Last modified on Thu 23 Jan 2020 06.02 EST

Two years ago, Pennsylvania’s supreme court dealt a blow to state Republicans when it said they had unconstitutionally rigged congressional elections in the state. Republicans fumed and threatened to impeach four of the justices, but the map was redrawn, and voters elected an even split of Democrats and Republicans to Congress in 2018. Now, Republicans are weaponizing a new tactic – a move that seems designed to increase their power on the state’s highest court.

The Republican proposal overhauls the way that court justices are elected in a state that can swing both red and blue. The justices on the court, where Democrats hold a 5-2 majority, are currently appointed through statewide elections, but the new plan would make it so the justices are elected from districts throughout the state. The change would probably hurt Democratic candidates – four of the current justices are from the Pittsburgh area and one is from Philadelphia, both urban areas that tend to skew blue.

If the proposal is successful, it could offer a roadmap for Republicans elsewhere to undermine state courts. That’s significant after last year’s supreme court decision that determined federal courts couldn’t stop gerrymandering – the partisan redistricting of state maps – but that nothing stopped state courts from acting. State courts responded swiftly: a state court in North Carolina followed Pennsylvania and struck down electoral districts as unconstitutional gerrymanders there. And a slew of gerrymandering lawsuits are expected when districts are next redrawn in 2021.


The Republican effort also comes as state lawmakers across the country have moved to weaken the independence of state courts, said Douglas Keith, who studies courts across the country at the Brennan Center for Justice. Some states do elect supreme court justices by districts and there can be good reasons for doing so, Keith said. But, unjustified efforts to change the composition of state courts can weaken public confidence in judges.


'The new evidence raises deeply troubling questions': did Arkansas kill an innocent man?¬if_id=1579821852317130¬if_t=live_video

Ed Pilkington
Thu 23 Jan 2020 10.00 EST
Last modified on Thu 23 Jan 2020 13.50 EST

The day before Ledell Lee was executed on 20 April 2017, he talked to the BBC from death row. He said that while he could not prevent the state of Arkansas from killing him, he had a message for his executioners: “My dying words will always be, as it has been: ‘I am an innocent man’.”

Almost two years after Lee was strapped to a gurney and injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs, it looks increasingly likely he was telling the truth: he went to his death an innocent man. New evidence has emerged that suggests Lee was not guilty of the brutal murder of a woman in 1993 for which his life was taken.


The most harrowing question is whether innocent prisoners have been executed before the flawed nature of their convictions emerged. In recent years, there have been several cases that, with near certainty, suggest that innocent men have been put to death.

They include Cameron Todd Willingham executed in Texas in 2004 for allegedly having caused a fire that killed his three young daughters. After the execution, further evidence emerged that conclusively showed that he could not have set the fire.

The Columbia Human Rights Law Review carried out a groundbreaking investigation in which it concluded Carlos DeLuna was innocent when he was executed – also by Texas – in 1989. The six-year study discovered that the convicted prisoner had almost certainly been confused with another man, a violent criminal who shared the name Carlos.


Trump rolls back US water pollution controls

Jan. 23, 2020

The Trump administration is set to scrap protections for America's streams and wetlands, repealing Barack Obama's Waters of the United States regulation.

The move, expected Thursday, will dismantle federal protections for more than half of wetlands and hundreds of small waterways in the US.

The White House says the change will be a victory for American farmers.

But critics say the change will be destructive - part of Mr Trump's wider assault on environmental protections.

Under the new regulations, landowners and property developers will be able to pour pesticides, fertilizers and other pollutants directly into millions of miles of the nation's waterways for the first time in decades.


The White House says that farmers will be a primary beneficiary of the change. Farmers rejected the protections, claiming they were too broad and required the industry to go to great lengths to protect small bodies of water on their properties.

But the administration's own data shows that real estate developers and those in other non-farming industries are poised to reap the greatest rewards, by applying for permits to develop on previously protected waterways, the Associated Press reported.

According to the data, real estate developers and other business sectors outside farming take out substantially more permits than farmers for projects impinging on wetlands, creeks and streams.


The scrapping of these waterways regulations is part of a much broader environmental rollback directed by the president, who has appealed for electoral support from America's beleaguered mining and farming communities.

Since taking office, Mr Trump has slashed regulations on oil and gas development, weakened fuel emission standards for automobiles and proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act - a law credited with keeping hundreds of species from going extinct.


"We have some of the cleanest air and cleanest water on Earth," he said.

The US is the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. A report found carbon dioxide emissions rose by 3.4% in 2018 - the largest spike in eight years - after three years of decline.

19 Things You Might Not Know Were Invented by Women

Mental Floss
Amanda Green
This article was originally published on March 15, 2018, by Mental Floss

Though it wasn't always easy to get patents or the credit they deserved, women are responsible for many items we use today.

1. The Paper Bag ...

2. Kevlar

3. The Foot-Pedal Trash Can

4. Monopoly

5. Windshield Wipers

6. Disposable Diapers

7. The Dishwasher

8. Liquid Paper

9. Alphabet Blocks

10. The Apgar Score

11. Marine Signal Flares

12. The Circular Saw

13. Retractable Dog Leash

14. Submarine Telescope and Lamp

15. Folding Cabinet Bed

16. The Solar House

17. Scotchgard

18. Invisible Glass

19. Computers

Women in computer science have a role model in Grace Hopper. She and Howard Aiken designed Harvard's Mark I computer, a five-ton, room-sized machine in 1944. Hopper invented the compiler that translated written language into computer code and coined the terms "bug" and "debugging" when she had to remove moths from the device. In 1959, Hopper was part of the team that developed COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages.

Most Americans want witnesses in Trump impeachment trial - Reuters/Ipsos poll

Jan. 22, 2020


About 44% of adults in the United States say Trump should be removed from office, another 15% say he should be reprimanded formally with a congressional censure, and 31% said the charges should be dismissed.

Trump so far has blocked the Democrats’ requests for documents related to the administration’s activities in Ukraine last year. He has also urged officials like former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to participate.

Republicans in the Senate so far have backed up the president, rejecting requests for White House documents and interviews with administration officials.

The poll showed that Republicans and Democrats want to see people like Bolton and Pompeo tell the Senate what they know about the administration’s policies in Ukraine.

About 72% agreed that the trial “should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify,” including 84% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans. And 70% of the public, including 80% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans, said senators should “act as impartial jurors” during the trial.

About 40% of Americans said they had a favorable view of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while 60% said they have an unfavorable view of him.

The poll showed that two out of three Americans are paying attention to the proceedings, with Democrats more interested than Republicans.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Reagan's "October Surprise" plot was real

No surprise.

By David D. Kirkpatrick
Dec. 29, 2019


Now, a newly disclosed secret history from the offices of Mr. Rockefeller shows in vivid detail how Chase Manhattan Bank and its well-connected chairman worked behind the scenes to persuade the Carter administration to admit the shah, one of the bank’s most profitable clients.


After the hostages were taken, the Carter administration worked desperately to try to free the captives, and on April 24, 1980, authorized a rescue mission that collapsed in disaster: A helicopter crash in the desert killed eight service members, whose charred bodies were gleefully exhibited by Iranian officials.

The hostage crisis doomed Mr. Carter’s presidency. And the team around Mr. Rockefeller, a lifelong Republican with a dim view of Mr. Carter’s dovish foreign policy, collaborated closely with the Reagan campaign in its efforts to pre-empt and discourage what it derisively labeled an “October surprise” — a pre-election release of the American hostages, the papers show.

The Chase team helped the Reagan campaign gather and spread rumors about possible payoffs to win the release, a propaganda effort that Carter administration officials have said impeded talks to free the captives.

“I had given my all” to thwarting any effort by the Carter officials “to pull off the long-suspected ‘October surprise,’” Mr. Reed wrote in a letter to his family after the election, apparently referring to the Chase effort to track and discourage a hostage release deal. He was later named Mr. Reagan’s ambassador to Morocco.


Of course, we already knew he did blocked them.

Ed Mazza
December 13, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday night bragged about blocking President Barack Obama’s attempt to fill federal judicial vacancies for two years. Then, he laughed about it as he discussed the Republican Party’s effort to stack the courts with conservative judges under President Donald Trump.

“I was shocked that former President Obama left so many vacancies and didn’t try to fill those positions,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said to McConnell.

Obama didn’t leave those vacancies so much as he was blocked from filling them by a GOP-controlled Senate led by McConnell ― something the majority leader was quick to point out.

“I’ll tell you why,” he said. “I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration.”

Then, he laughed


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday night bragged about blocking President Barack Obama’s attempt to fill federal judicial vacancies for two years. Then, he laughed about it as he discussed the Republican Party’s effort to stack the courts with conservative judges under President Donald Trump.

“I was shocked that former President Obama left so many vacancies and didn’t try to fill those positions,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said to McConnell.

Obama didn’t leave those vacancies so much as he was blocked from filling them by a GOP-controlled Senate led by McConnell ― something the majority leader was quick to point out.

“I’ll tell you why,” he said. “I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration.”

Then, he laughed:


McConnell not only blocked federal judges, he prevented Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland from even getting a hearing. In 2018, McConnell told Kentucky Today that the decision to block Garland’s appointment was “the most consequential decision I’ve made in my entire public career.”

Trump eventually filled that seat with Neil Gorsuch, one of his two Supreme Court appointees.

Trump has had an even bigger impact on the federal courts as a whole. As Vox reported, more than a quarter of all active judges on the courts of appeal are now Trump appointees. In fact, Trump has named nearly as many judges in his three years in office (48) as Obama did during his eight-year presidency (55).

Yes, every past impeachment trial included witnesses. Baldwin hits mark with Trump-related claim

By Eric Litke on Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 at 3:42 p.m.


The Senate has held just two prior impeachment trials against presidents — Bill Clinton in 1999 and Andrew Johnson in 1868. Both included witnesses.

The Senate heard testimony from 41 witnesses in the Johnson proceeding, and three for Clinton, including Monica Lewinsky. In the Clinton case, House managers obtained depositions from the witnesses and excerpts of that testimony were shown to the Senate, the Washington Post reported.

But those aren’t the only impeachments the Senate has heard. The U.S. Senate website lists 19 people prior to Trump who were impeached by the House, including 14 judges, a senator, a Supreme Court justice and the secretary of war.

Cases against three of the judges were halted before a trial when the judges resigned, and the case against Sen. William Blount in 1799 — the first impeachment in U.S. history — stopped before trial when the Senate determined it didn’t have such jurisdiction over one of its own.

That leaves 13 impeachment trials against other federal officials dating back to 1804. Eight of those yielded a guilty verdict, and five a not-guilty finding.

But all of them involved witnesses, said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

"I think there was a little bit of a sense — as there often is with things like Senate procedure — that the precedent is ambiguous and can be used however you want it," Bookbinder told PolitiFact Wisconsin. "We found that it’s not ambiguous in this case. … Every Senate impeachment trial that has been completed has involved witnesses."


Republican Group Issues GOP Senators Blunt Reminder About Their Oaths

Lee Moran
,HuffPost•January 18, 2020

A group of prominent anti-Trump conservatives on Friday released a new ad that urges GOP senators to conduct a fair impeachment trial of President Donald Trump over the Ukraine scandal.

The Lincoln Project demands in the caption for its video that Republican lawmakers “consider the impeachment charges against Trump on their merits” instead of simply taking sides along party lines.

Senators must uphold their sworn oaths to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” the project adds.


“We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference. We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks,” they wrote in a New York Times op-ed last month. “Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.”


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

World needs to prepare for 'millions' of climate displaced: U.N.

By Luke Baker
,Reuters•January 21, 2020

The world needs to prepare for millions of people being driven from their homes by the impact of climate change, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday.


"The ruling says if you have an immediate threat to your life due to climate change, due to the climate emergency, and if you cross the border and go to another country, you should not be sent back, because you would be at risk of your life, just like in a war or in a situation of persecution," Grandi said.

"We must be prepared for a large surge of people moving against their will," he said. "I wouldn't venture to talk about specific numbers, it's too speculative, but certainly we're talking about millions here."

Potential drivers include wildfires like those seen in Australia, rising sea levels affecting low-lying islands, the destruction of crops and livestock in sub-Saharan Africa and floods worldwide, not least in parts of the developed world.


Saudi Arabia runs squalid, abusive jails for women disowned by their male guardians

(Bill Bostock)
,INSIDER•January 21, 2020


The Saudi government continues to maintain a network of detention facilities — prisons in all but name — for young women who are formally disowned by their male guardians, often for minor infractions.

The centers are called Dar Alreaya. Reasons for being sent there include oquq (disobeying parents) and khulwa (being alone with a man in a closed area). The government describes people sent there as "delinquents."

Each woman's guardian (usually, but not always, her father) has wide discretion over whether a woman should be sent there after doing something that displeases him. Guardians also have discretion over whether to take them back. If the guardian refuses, a woman can stay in Dar Alreaya indefinitely.


former inmates and rights groups paint a picture of violence, psychological abuse, squalor, forced marriage, and regular suicide attempts.


One such young woman was Kholoud Bariedah, who was sent to Dar Alreaya when she was 19.

Her four-year sentence, handed down in 2006, was punishment for drinking alcohol at a party with single men to whom she was not related. As well as detention, she was sentenced to 2,000 lashes with a whip.

Bariedah, who now lives in Germany, described to Insider the conditions in which she and others lived, where she said being alone was often the most painful deprivation.

"Girls held in isolated rooms start to go weird and hurt themselves — they destroy the lamps or, in another isolated room, a window, they smash glass and they start to hurt themselves" with the shards, she said.


A former inmate, her identity protected under a niqab, told the pan-Arab TV network MBC in 2018 that she and others were abused and even forced to eat their own vomit.

"If we ate something and vomit it, they'd made us eat it back up," she said.

"They let men in to hit us. Sometimes the girls and kids face sexual harassment, but if they talk, no one listens."


Emissions of potent greenhouse gas rises, contradicting reports of huge reductions

by University of Bristol

January 21, 2020

Despite reports that global emissions of the potent greenhouse gas hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) were almost eliminated in 2017, an international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, has found atmospheric levels growing at record values.

Over the last two decades, scientists have been keeping a close eye on the atmospheric concentration of a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gas, known as HFC-23. This gas has very few industrial applications. However, levels have been soaring because it is vented to the atmosphere during the production of another chemical widely used in cooling systems in developing countries.

Scientists are concerned, because HFC-23 is a very potent greenhouse gas, with one tonne of its emissions being equivalent to the release of more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Starting in 2015, India and China, thought to be the main emitters of HFC-23, announced ambitious plans to abate emissions in factories that produce the gas. As a result, they reported that they had almost completely eliminated HFC-23 emissions by 2017.

In response to these measures, scientists were expecting to see global emissions drop by almost 90 percent between 2015 and 2017, which should have seen growth in atmospheric levels grind to a halt. Now, an international team of researchers has shown that concentrations increased, setting an all-time record in 2018. The paper is published today in Nature Communications.


Our study finds that it is very likely that China has not been as successful in reducing HFC-23 emissions as reported. However, without additional measurements, we can't be sure whether India has been able to implement its abatement program."

Had these HFC-23 emissions reductions been as large as reported, the researchers estimate that the equivalent of a whole year of Spain's CO2 emissions could have been avoided between 2015 and 2017.


Our study finds that it is very likely that China has not been as successful in reducing HFC-23 emissions as reported. However, without additional measurements, we can't be sure whether India has been able to implement its abatement program."

Had these HFC-23 emissions reductions been as large as reported, the researchers estimate that the equivalent of a whole year of Spain's CO2 emissions could have been avoided between 2015 and 2017.


"Psychological Effects of Combat"

By Dave Grossman and Bruce K. Siddle


Swank and Marchand's World War II study of US Army combatants on the beaches of Normandy found that after 60 days of continuous combat, 98% of the surviving soldiers had become psychiatric casualties. And the remaining 2% were identified as "aggressive psychopathic personalities." Thus it is not too far from the mark to observe that there is something about continuous, inescapable combat which will drive 98% of all men insane, and the other 2% were crazy when they got there. Figure 1 presents a schematic representation of the effects of continuous combat.

It must be understood that the kind of continuous, protracted combat that produces such high psychiatric casualty rates is largely a product of 20th-century warfare. The Battle of Waterloo lasted only a day. Gettysburg lasted only three days--and they took the nights off. It was only in World War I that armies began to experience months of 24-hour combat, and it is in World War I that vast numbers of psychiatric casualties were first observed.


Even greater than the resistance to being the victim of close-range aggression is the combatant's powerful aversion to inflicting aggression on fellow human beings. At the heart of this dread is the average healthy person's resistance to killing one's own kind.

The kind of psychiatric casualties usually identified with long-term exposure to combat are notably reduced among medical personnel, chaplains, officers, and soldiers on reconnaissance patrols behind enemy lines. The key factor that is not present in each of these situations is that, although they are in the front lines and the enemy may attempt to kill them, they have no direct responsibility to participate personally in close-range killing activities. Even when there is equal or even greater danger of dying, combat is much less stressful if you do not have to kill.


One major modern revelation in the field of military psychology is the observation that this resistance to killing one's own species is also a key factor in human combat. Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall first observed this during his work as the official US historian of the European Theater of Operations in World War II. Based on his post-combat interviews, Marshall concluded in his landmark book, Men Against Fire, that only 15 to 20% of the individual riflemen in World War II fired their weapons at an exposed enemy soldier. Specialized weapons, such as a flame-thrower, usually were fired. Crew-served weapons, such as a machine gun, almost always were fired. And firing would increase greatly if a nearby leader demanded that the soldier fire. But, when left to their own devices, the great majority of individual combatants throughout history appear to have been unable or unwilling to kill.

Marshall's findings have been somewhat controversial. Faced with scholarly concern about a researcher's methodology and conclusions, the scientific method involves replicating the research. In Marshall's case, every available, parallel, scholarly study validates his basic findings. Ardant du Picq's surveys of French officers in the 1860s and his observations on ancient battles, Keegan and Holmes' numerous accounts of ineffectual firing throughout history, Richard Holmes' assessment of Argentine firing rates in the Falklands War, Paddy Griffith's data on the extraordinarily low killing rate among Napoleonic and American Civil War regiments, the British Army's laser reenactments of historical battles, the FBI's studies of nonfiring rates among law enforcement officers in the 1950s and 1960s, and countless other individual and anecdotal observations all confirm Marshall's fundamental conclusion that man is not, by nature, a killer.

The exception to this resistance can be observed in sociopaths who, by definition, feel no empathy or remorse for their fellow human beings. Pit bull dogs have been selectively bred in order to ensure that they will perform the unnatural act of killing another dog in battle. Similarly, human sociopaths represent Swank and Marchand's 2% who did not become psychiatric casualties after months of continuous combat, since they were not disturbed by the requirement to kill. But sociopaths would be a flawed tool that is impossible to control in peacetime, and social dynamics make it very difficult for humans to breed themselves for such a trait. However, humans are very adept at finding mechanical means to overcome natural limitations. Humans were born without the physical ability to fly, so we found mechanisms that overcame this limitation and enabled flight. Humans also were born without the psychological ability to kill our fellow humans. So, throughout history, we have devoted great effort to finding a way to overcome this resistance. From a psychological perspective, the history of warfare can be viewed as a series of successively more effective tactical and mechanical mechanisms to enable or force combatants to overcome their resistance to killing.


Throughout history the ingredients of groups, leadership, and distance have been manipulated to enable and force combatants to kill, but the introduction of conditioning in modern training was a true revolution. The application and perfection of these basic conditioning techniques increased the rate of fire from near 20% in World War II to approximately 55% in Korea and around 95% in Vietnam. Similar high rates of fire resulting from modern conditioning techniques can be seen in FBI data on law enforcement firing rates since the nationwide introduction of modern conditioning techniques in the late 1960s.


It is essential to acknowledge that good ends have been and will continue to be accomplished through combat. Many democracies owe their very existence to successful combat. Few individuals will deny the need for combat against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II. And around the world the price of civilization is paid every day by military units on peacekeeping operations and domestic police forces who are forced to engage in close combat. There have been and will continue to be times and places where combat is unavoidable, but when a society requires its police and armed forces to participate in combat it is essential to fully comprehend the magnitude of the inevitable psychological toll.


'Our task was to set Americans against their own government': Russia's trolling operation

Sonam Sheth
Oct 17, 2017, 7:26 PM

Recently revealed details about how an infamous Russian "troll farm" operated and its role in Russia's disinformation campaign shed new light on Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential race.

One former troll, who was interviewed by the independent Russian news outlet Dozhd and went by "Maxim," or Max, spoke of his experience working for the Internet Research Agency, a well-researched Russian company in St. Petersburg whose function is to spread pro-Russian propaganda and sow political discord in nations perceived as hostile to Russia.


The Internet Research Agency, Max told Dozhd, consisted of a "Russian desk" and a "foreign desk." The Russian desk, which was primarily made up of bots and trolls, used fake social-media accounts to flood the internet with pro-Trump agitprop and made-up news throughout the US presidential campaign, especially in the days leading up to the November election.

The foreign desk had a more sophisticated purpose, according to Max, who worked in that department. "It’s not just writing ‘Obama is a monkey’ and ‘Putin is great.’ They’ll even fine you for that kind of [primitive] stuff," he told Dozhd. In fact, those who worked for the foreign desk were restricted from spreading pro-Russia propaganda. Rather, Max said, their job was more qualitative and was geared toward understanding the "nuances" of American politics to "rock the boat" on divisive issues like gun control and LGBT rights.

"Our goal wasn’t to turn the Americans toward Russia," he added. "Our task was to set Americans against their own government: to provoke unrest and discontent, and to lower Obama’s support ratings."

An entire department, the "Department of Provocations," was dedicated to that goal: Its primary objective was to disseminate fake news and sow discord in the West, according to CNN.


Facebook has turned over more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads to Congress. RBC's investigation found that in 2016 Russia's propaganda network on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter could have reached 30 million people a week, and a Columbia University social-media analyst published research that found that Russian propaganda may have been shared billions of times on Facebook alone.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Bill Gates called for higher taxes on the wealthy in a New Year's Eve blog post. Here's a look at the American billionaires and multimillionaires who have asked the government to raise their taxes.

Taylor Nicole Rogers
Jan 2, 2020, 11:19 AM

In a post on his blog, Gates Notes, published Monday, the billionaire advocated for higher estate taxes.

"We've updated our tax system before to keep up with changing times, and we need to do it again, starting with raising taxes on people like me," Gates wrote.

Gates is not alone with this messaging. Billionaires from Warren Buffett to George Soros have proposed a wealth tax as a way to combat America's growing wealth gap and fund healthcare and education initiatives. In June, a group of 18 ultrawealthy Americans, including Abigail Disney and members of the Pritzker and Gund families, published an open letter asking presidential candidates to support a moderate wealth tax.


In 2018, income inequality in the US reached its highest level in more than half a century. The ultrawealthy actually paid a smaller portion of their income in taxes than average Americans in 2018, an analysis of tax data by the University of California at Berkeley's Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found.


Religious History is Full of ‘Forgeries’

Candida Moss
,The Daily Beast•January 19, 2020


It’s not only Popes who are vulnerable to this sort of thing. Of the twenty-one letters included in the New Testament, as many as thirteen of them were written by someone other than the named author.


Ehrman notes that forgery wasn’t always about emulating and appreciating the legacy of earlier figures with whom one agreed. Sometimes the deliberate misattribution of a text had polemical ambitions. The New Testament letter known as 1 Timothy (which almost all scholars agree was not by Paul) weighs in on the question of women’s roles in the Church and states that women should be silent in church.


Increasing the speed limit won’t get traffic moving faster

October 5, 2018 7.15am EDT


Higher speeds gives us less time to respond and react to a critical situation.

As such, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a recent OECD study across ten countries has found that increasing road speed, including on motorways, consistently leads to a disproportionate increase in the number and severity of crashes. And more crashes leads to more congestion and longer journey times.


Government statistics show that 88% of trips on motorways are less than 50 miles in length. Assuming it were possible to drive continuously at 80mph instead of 70mph, the time saving on such a journey would be only five minutes at the very most.


Capt. 'Sully' Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I once stuttered, too. I dare you to mock me'

By Marty Johnson - 01/18/20 07:20 PM EST

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the retired pilot known for safely landing US Airways Flight 1549 in 2009, authored a New York Times op-ed Saturday defending former Vice President Joe Biden amid mocking comments made about him and his stutter earlier in the week.

Sullenberger, who admits that he also had a stutter, began the piece by reflecting on his childhood in Denison, Texas, and how hard speaking in class was for him.

"Those feelings came rushing back, when I heard Lara Trump [married to the president's son Eric Trump] mocking former Vice President Joe Biden at a Trump campaign event, with the very words that caused my childhood agony," he wrote.

"'Joe, can you get it out?' Ms. Trump was seen saying onstage, as a few giggles are heard from an otherwise silent audience. 'Let’s get the words out, Joe,'" he continued.


He concluded with a message for children who struggle with stuttering: "You are fine, just as you are. You can do any job you dream of when you grow up."

"You can be a pilot who lands your plane on a river and helps save lives, or a president who treats people with respect, rather than making fun of them," he continued.

Climate change cited as Antarctic penguin population collapses

CBS News•January 20, 2020

"CBS This Morning" sent correspondent Roxana Saberi to find out how climate change is threatening penguins for our series, "Eye on Earth." Our team visited a place rarely seen by human eyes, but impacted dramatically by human behavior.

Elephant Island, Antarctica — A new U.S. government report found the last decade was the hottest ever recorded on Earth, and 2019 was the second hottest year ever measured. The data has raised new concerns, and one of the places most seriously affected is Antarctica, at the bottom of the planet.


The researchers are traveling on Greenpeace ships from island to island across the Antarctic Peninsula, comparing different penguin populations to see how the animals are adapting to climate change. While it looks frigid, it is one of the fastest warming areas on Earth.

One nearby island, actually called Penguin Island, has seen its chinstrap population plunge by nearly 75% over the past four decades. The numbers have dropped across the region as average temperatures have soared by more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3° Celsius) over 50 years. That increase is about five times the global average.

"When we see climate change impacting things down here, glacial melt, warming oceans, more acidic oceans," says Borowicz. "Penguins do really interact with all of those things."

So do krill, the chinstraps' favorite food. The tiny creatures also depend on sea ice to survive.

"Sea ice is really what brings all of the ocean life here together," Borowicz says. If there is less sea ice, there's less krill, which means less food for the chinstrap penguins.


After days counting chinstraps on Elephant Island, the scientists invited Saberi and her crew onto their ship to watch them crunch numbers from one nesting site.

"They've lost already 50% since the early (20)teens," says the researcher compiling the data on a computer screen. "That's amazing."

That fits the pattern they're seeing on the island so far: a decline of around 150,000 chinstraps since the last major survey 50 years ago. Another sign, the researchers say, that this penguin population is collapsing across the region.

"It's very dramatic to have a wildlife population decline by 50% — an unexploited wildlife population. They're not hunted," says activist and researcher Steve Forrest. "I think climate change is driving almost all of the processes down here now in a way they've never experienced before."