Saturday, February 29, 2020

Republican mega-donor buys stake in Twitter and seeks to oust Jack Dorsey

Martin Pengelly
Sat 29 Feb 2020 10.13 EST

A major Republican donor has purchased a stake in Twitter and is reportedly seeking to oust its chief executive, Jack Dorsey.

Bloomberg News first reported that Elliott Management has taken a “sizable stake” and “and plans to push for changes at the social media company, including replacing Dorsey”.

Paul Singer, the billionaire founder of Elliott Management, is a Republican mega-donor who opposed Donald Trump during the real-estate magnate’s run for the presidential nomination but has since come onside.


Millions of uninsured Americans are a coronavirus timebomb

Carl Gibson
Fri 28 Feb 2020 04.10 EST

Like 27.5 million other Americans, I don’t have health insurance. It’s not for a lack of trying – I make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to buy a private health insurance plan on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Since I can’t afford to see a doctor, my healthcare strategy as a 32-year-old uninsured American has been simply to sleep eight hours, eat vegetables, and get daily exercise. But now that there are confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, the deadly virus could spread rapidly, thanks to others like me who have no feasible way to get the care we need if we start exhibiting symptoms.


Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, (a former senior executive at pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly) refused to commit to implementing price controls on a coronavirus vaccine “because we need the private sector to invest … price controls won’t get us there”. Even the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, notably didn’t use the word “free” when referring to a coronavirus vaccine, and instead used the word “affordable”. What may be considered affordable for the third-most powerful person in the US government with an estimated net worth of $16m may not be affordable for someone who can’t afford a basic private health insurance plan that still requires a patient to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Given the high cost of healthcare in the US, I haven’t seen a doctor since 2013, when I visited an emergency room after being run off the road while riding my bike. After waiting for four hours, the doctor put my arm in a sling, prescribed pain medication and sent me home. That visit cost more than $4,000, and the unpaid balance eventually went to collections and still haunts my credit to this day, making it needlessly difficult to rent an apartment or buy a car. But even a low-premium bronze plan on the exchange comes with a sky-high deductible in the thousands of dollars, meaning even if I was insured, I’d have still paid for that ER visit entirely out of pocket.

This system is exactly why a 2018 West Health Institute/NORC at the University of Chicago national poll found that 44% of Americans declined to see a doctor due to cost, and why nearly a third of Americans polled said they didn’t get their prescriptions filled due to the high cost of their medicine.


Accuracy in reporting

Feb. 29, 2020

NPR finally started referring to the "reported" 22 cases of Covid-19. Still reporting that there has been one death. Anybody with the tiniest smidgen of scientific knowledge knows that since it resembles the flu or bad cold, we don't know how many people have had it or died from it unless they were tested, which we haven't been doing until quite recently. We can be sure there are more than these reported cases. I'm not saying we should panic. We're not having mass deaths. But we should be accurate.

Court Rules Congress Cannot Sue to Force Executive Branch Officials to Testify

By Charlie Savage
Feb. 28, 2020

A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that Congress could not sue to enforce its subpoenas of executive branch officials, handing a major victory to President Trump and dealing a severe blow to the power of Congress to conduct oversight.


In a ruling that could have far-reaching consequences for executive branch secrecy powers long after Mr. Trump leaves office, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a lawsuit brought by the House Judiciary Committee against Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II.

On Mr. Trump’s instructions, Mr. McGahn defied a House subpoena seeking to force him to testify about Mr. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation. The House sued him, seeking a judicial order that he show up to testify, and won in district court in November.


But two of the three appeals court judges ruled on Friday that the Constitution gave the House no standing to file any such lawsuit in what they characterized as a political dispute with the executive branch. If their decision stands, its reasoning would shut the door to judicial recourse whenever a president directs a subordinate not to cooperate with congressional oversight investigations.


The ruling deflates a primary argument used by Mr. Trump’s defense team to question the legitimacy of the impeachment process. His lawyers insisted that the House should have pursued all of its legal avenues to secure testimony rather than charging the president with obstruction of Congress. But even as the impeachment trial unfolded, the Justice Department was arguing in the McGahn case that such lawsuits were invalid and, ultimately, the court adopted that reasoning.


Both judges in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents — Judge Griffith was appointed by George W. Bush and Judge Karen L. Henderson, who joined him in the decision, was appointed by George Bush. Judge Rogers was appointed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.


Why Bernie Scares Me

By Bret Stephens
Feb. 28, 2020

Sanders seems mostly incapable of admitting past errors of judgment.

Most of us go through life revising our opinions. At 16 I thought “The Fountainhead” was a great book. At 18 I realized it was rubbish. At 25 I thought Bill Clinton should be thrown out of office for lying about a consensual dalliance. At 46 I don’t know what I was thinking.


In 2040, assuming I’m still kicking, I’m sure I’ll have misgivings about some of what I wrote in 2020. Maybe that will include this column.

To have our convictions knocked sideways by stronger arguments, fresh experiences, contrary evidence, maturing judgment, or simply the honesty of a second-guessing mind, is how we become educated. The alternative is intellectual stagnation, puerility, and arrogance. It takes a fanatic, or a fool, to believe that the person who’s most right is the one who almost never admits to being wrong.

Which brings me to Bernie Sanders.


Otherwise, the presumptive Democratic front-runner communicates a sense of moral and ideological certitude — unrelentingly sustained for decades — that seems to thrill his followers but terrifies me. Other candidates have changed their views on one thing or another over the years, albeit with varying degrees of sincerity: Joe Biden on the war in Iraq; Mike Bloomberg on stop-and-frisk; Elizabeth Warren on super PACs. [Tom Steyer on fossil fuels.]

Not Bernie


This isn’t to say that everything Sanders ever thought as a young man — and still thinks today — is wrong. At Chicago he helped force the university to end racial segregation in its private housing. He made the definitive case, in the pages of the college newspaper, for the right of students to have sex. He joined Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

These are things of which the senator can be proud. Other things, not so much.


In America’s 46-year Cold War with some of the vilest regimes in history, Sanders’s main contribution was loudly to find fault with America while remaining remarkably mum about the sins of the other side — when he wasn’t finding occasions to praise them. The least he can do is acknowledge that he was wrong.


For now, what needs saying is that a man who refuses to make an honest break with the worst convictions of his youth should never be entrusted with the presidency.

Quarantine on cruise ship resulted in more Corona patients

News Release 28-Feb-2020
Umea University

The cruise ship Diamond Princess was quarantined for over two weeks resulting in more coronavirus infected passengers than if they would have disembarked immediately. Rather the opposite to what was intended. This according to a study conducted at Umeå University in Sweden.

"The infection rate onboard the vessel was about four times higher than what can be seen on land in the worst infected areas of China. A probable cause is how close people stay to one another onboard a vessel," says Joacim Rocklöv, Professor of epidemiology at Umeå University and principal author of the article.


Passengers who showed signs of illness were, as far as possible, separated from other passengers onboard. When the quarantine in Yokohama in the end was removed and passengers could finally disembark, a total of 619 passengers had been infected by the coronavirus.


At the same time, the study also shows that if the precautionary measures of isolating potential carriers had not been carried out onboard, another 2,300 people would have been infected.

Eating a vegetarian diet rich in nuts, vegetables, soy linked to lower stroke risk

News Release 27-Feb-2020
American Academy of Neurology

People who eat a vegetarian diet rich in nuts, vegetables and soy may have a lower risk of stroke than people who eat a diet that includes meat and fish, according to a study published in the February 26, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.


Friday, February 28, 2020

ASA survey shows health insurers abruptly terminating physician contracts

News Release 27-Feb-2020
American Society of Anesthesiologists

A new national survey from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) finds physician anesthesiologists are being forced out of network as insurance companies terminate their contracts, often with little or no notice.


"This survey appears to confirm what we have been hearing from our members: that insurers may be forcing more physicians to be out of network to shore up their profits while negatively impacting patients,"


While the timing alone suggests insurance companies are motivated by factors related to anticipated legislative changes on surprise medical bills, some survey respondents reported they were specifically told by insurers this was the case.


Low fruit and vegetable intakes and higher body fat linked to anxiety disorders

News Release 27-Feb-2020
University of Toronto

New research from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging shows that adults who have low fruit and vegetable intakes have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

"For those who consumed less than 3 sources of fruits and vegetables daily, there was at least at 24% higher odds of anxiety disorder diagnosis," says study lead Karen Davison, health science faculty member, nutrition informatics lab director at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, (KPU) and North American Primary Care Research Group Fellow.

"This may also partly explain the findings associated with body composition measures. As levels of total body fat increased beyond 36%, the likelihood of anxiety disorder was increased by more than 70%," states co-author Jose Mora-Almanza, a Mitacs Globalink Intern who worked with the study at KPU.

"Increased body fat may be linked to greater inflammation. Emerging research suggests that some anxiety disorders can be linked to inflammation," says Davison.


The prevalence of anxiety disorders among those who had always been single (13.9%) was much higher than among those who were living with a partner (7.8%). Approximately one in five respondents with household incomes under $20,000 per year had anxiety disorders, more than double the prevalence of their richer peers.

"We were not surprised to find that those in poverty had such a high prevalence of anxiety disorders; struggling to afford basics such as food and housing causes relentless stress and is inherently anxiety inducing," says co-author Hongmei Tong, Assistant Professor of Social Work at MacEwan University in Edmonton.

Individuals with three or more health conditions had fivefold the prevalence of anxiety disorders in comparison to those with no chronic conditions (16.4% vs 3%). Those in chronic pain had double the prevalence of anxiety disorders in comparisons to those who were free of pain.

"Chronic pain and multiple health conditions make life very unpredictable and can be anxiety producing. One never knows whether health problems will interfere with work or family responsibilities and many activities become more challenging and time consuming," says co-author Shen (Lamson) Lin, a doctoral student at University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW).


Study finds artisanal CBD not as effective as pharmaceutical CBD for reducing seizures

News Release 27-Feb-2020
American Academy of Neurology

Children and teens with epilepsy who were treated with pharmaceutical cannabidiol (CBD) had much better seizure control than those who were treated with artisanal CBD, according to a preliminary study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 to May 1, 2020.


Fine particle air pollution linked with poor kidney health

News Release 27-Feb-2020
American Society of Nephrology

People living in areas with higher levels of air pollution faced higher risks of developing kidney disease in a recent study. The findings appear in an upcoming issue of CJASN.

It's known that breathing in air pollution can have detrimental health effects beyond the lungs, but few studies have shown how it impacts the kidneys, which act as filters for the blood.


The team found that exposure to higher amounts of fine particulate matter was associated with a higher degree of albuminuria--a marker of kidney dysfunction--at the start of the study as well as a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease over time.


Study: The opioid crisis may be far worse than we thought

News Release 27-Feb-2020
University of Rochester Medical Center

New research appearing in the journal Addiction shows that the number of deaths attributed to opioid-related overdoses could be 28 percent higher than reported due to incomplete death records. This discrepancy is more pronounced in several states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Indiana, where the estimated number of deaths more than doubles - obscuring the scope of the opioid crisis and potentially affecting programs and funding intended to confront the epidemic.


Liberal gun owners face dilemma in 2020 field

,Associated Press•February 28, 2020


“You’re alienating a huge part of your constituency,” Smith says of the Democratic field’s gun proposals. “You have a huge constituency that is looking for something different and when you are talking about restricting a right which is so different than everything else you talk about, you are being anti-liberal.”

Gun owners have long been seen as a solidly Republican voting bloc, but there are millions of Democrats who own firearms, too.

Many of them are feeling increasingly disillusioned by their party as it lurches toward the left on the Second Amendment, but they're also wary of President Donald Trump for a variety of reasons


An estimated 23 percent of Democrats nationally lived in households with guns in 2018, according to the General Social Survey, which is conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. And roughly 20 percent of gun owners — about 12 million people — identify as liberal, according to results from survey between 2014 and 2018. More than a third describe themselves as moderates while just under 45 percent call themselves conservatives.


When it comes to black voters, Kevin Dixie sees guns in a different light. An African American, Dixie grew up in St. Louis and experienced firsthand the toll of gun violence.

He believes that gun rights are about empowering communities of color and ensuring freedom is available to every American, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. He runs a firearms training business called No Other Choice.

One of his aims is to turn around the perception of firearms, especially within minority and urban communities, as being something that is only for criminals or police.

“This is much deeper than guns,” Dixie said. “It’s not just about owning a gun, it’s about maintaining your freedom, and we shouldn’t be politicizing it."


Does this contribute to people thinking about problems in simplistic, even/or ways in general?

Erin Richards
Feb. 28, 2020

The latest results of an international exam given to teenagers ranked the USA ninth in reading and 31st in math literacy out of 79 countries and economies. America has a smaller-than-average share of top-performing math students, and scores have essentially been flat for two decades.

One likely reason: U.S. high schools teach math differently than other countries.

Classes here often focus on formulas and procedures rather than teaching students to think creatively about solving complex problems involving all sorts of mathematics, experts said. That makes it harder for students to compete globally, be it on an international exam or in colleges and careers that value sophisticated thinking and data science.


“There’s a lot of research that shows when you teach math in a different way, kids do better, including on test scores,” said Jo Boaler, a mathematics professor at Stanford University who is behind a major push to remake America's math curriculum.


Other countries teach three straight years of integrated math – I, II and III — in which concepts of algebra, geometry, probability, statistics and data science are taught together, allowing students to take deep dives into complex problems.

In higher-performing countries, statistics or data science – the computer-based analysis of data, often coupled with coding – is a larger part of the math curriculum, Boaler said. Most American classes focus on teaching rote procedures, she said.


Improving the math aptitude of older students in the USA is connected to messages students hear about why math is important and who's good at it when they're younger.

Those messages often come from their elementary school teachers, many of whom didn’t like math as students themselves.

"Math phobia is real. Math anxiety is real," said DeAnn Huinker, a professor of mathematics education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who teaches future elementary and middle school teachers.

New research suggests that when teachers improve their attitude toward math, it can help to raise student test scores. At Stanford, Boaler and her team designed an online course for teachers featuring research showing anyone can learn math with enough practice, intelligence isn’t fixed and math is connected to all sorts of everyday activities.
[It has been my experience that almost everybody I know who hates math traces it back to a math teacher.]


Anger as Somali rapist and murderer pays 75 camels to escape death

Mohammed Omer
February 27, 2020 / 11:53 AM

The release of a Somali man on death row for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl after he paid 75 camels undermines a landmark law to curb gender violence and promotes a culture of impunity in the east African nation, women’s rights groups said.

Aisha Ilyes Aden was abducted from a market in northern Puntland’s Galkayo town in February last year. She had been gang-raped and strangled to death and her genitals mutilated.


Laurene Powell Jobs says she won't pass down her and Steve Jobs' billions to their children: 'It ends with me'

Avery Hartmans
Feb. 28, 2020

Laurene Powell Jobs says she isn't interested in passing her fortune down to her children.

The Emerson Collective founder and widow of Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a new interview with The New York Times' David Gelles that she has dedicated her life to distributing Jobs' fortune "effectively, in ways that lift up individuals and communities in a sustainable way," and doesn't plan on building a family dynasty.

"I'm not interested in legacy wealth buildings, and my children know that," Powell Jobs told The Times. "Steve wasn't interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me."

Powell Jobs said she believes a massive accumulation of wealth is "dangerous for a society" and pointed to 19th- and 20th-century families like the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Mellons, and Fords as examples.

"It's not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that's equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined," she said. "There's nothing fair about that."


No, Bernie Sanders isn’t authentic. Just like Trump.

By Michael Gerson
Feb. 27, 2020 at 2:01 p.m. EST

Bernie Sanders’s performance in the last debate before Super Tuesday was a bellowing, boorish mess. The Vermont senator’s signature response when challenged was to pump up the volume, as though persuasiveness were measured in decibels. It was particularly excruciating to watch Pete Buttigieg attempt to inject some facts and reason into the proceedings, only to be interrupted again and again by Sanders’s shouting.

When I expressed dismay to a Democratic friend, he assured me it was just “Bernie being Bernie.” At least Sanders, the argument goes, speaks his mind. He is not scripted. He is true to himself. He may not play by the normal political rules, but he is the kind of outsider who will shake up the establishment.

This is further evidence of the disorienting, deja vu quality of our politics. In 2016, I was told by Republican friends that, at least, Donald Trump speaks his mind. He isn’t scripted. He is true to himself. He doesn’t play by the normal political rules, but he is the kind of outsider who will shake up the establishment.

I’m not contending that the moral character of the two men is comparable. Sanders’s is clearly superior, though this is clearing only an ankle-high bar. But both men have benefited from a certain definition of political authenticity that allows them — no, encourages them — to be unpleasant, ill-mannered loudmouths. The identification of authenticity with incivility and spontaneity is one of my pet peeves. And now my pet peeve has blossomed into a crisis of democratic values.


It is worth noting, first, that speaking your mind without filters is not a sign of political authenticity; it usually indicates a basic lack of respect for others.


In the upside-down world of American politics, Sanders and Trump are given credit by their followers for vices that corrupt democracy. Meanwhile, grace, careful rhetoric, learning and governing skill have few practitioners and few defenders.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The typical US worker can no longer afford a family on a year's salary, showing the dire state of America's middle class

Hillary Hoffower
Feb 25, 2020, 2:50 PM

The American economy may be booming, but its middle class is struggling.

The median male US worker now has to earn more than a year's salary to afford the annual expenses for a family of four, according to "The Cost of Thriving Index" published by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, and previously reported by The Washington Post.

In 1985, the typical male worker needed 30 weeks' pay to cover the $13,227 required for a family of four's major living costs: housing, healthcare, transportation, and education. As of 2018, those expenditures had risen to $54,441, and the typical male worker has to work 53 weeks to get there (shown in the chart below). "This is a problem, as there are only 52 weeks in a year," Oren Cass, the report's lead author, wrote.


Cass formulated the index on male earnings because men are historically considered the family breadwinners. His findings for a female breadwinner are even more telling: In 1985, she needed to work 45 weeks to afford the four annual expenses, compared with 66 weeks in 2018.


Feb. 21, 2020


Cognitive scientists have identified a number of common ways in which people avoid being gullible. But con artists are especially skillful at what social scientists call framing, telling stories in ways that appeal to the biases, beliefs and prominent desires of their targets. They use strategies that take advantage of human weaknesses.


Repetition – the hallmark of social media – creates belief

Hearing a false claim over and over can be enough to generate belief in it. A common advertising and public relations strategy is to be extremely visible by multiplying “impressions,” so people see the message everywhere.
Independent matching claims are seen as credible

Repetition alone may not be sufficient. When people try to assess whether something is true, they often look for objective reasons on which to base their belief, such as finding two similar, independent judgments about events. In my research I call this the “Rule of Two.”

On social media, users often see a claim repeatedly, posted by different friends or connections. The same information seems to come not only from everywhere but from apparently independent sources. But often there is just one source, though easy online sharing makes it appear there are more than that. That is why so many observers worry about the role that social media has assumed in politics – it can lead people to believe that false claims are true.


Research by Hugo Mercier and others, as well as my research on the theory of testaments and ongoing work with Robert C. Ryan on the “skeptical believer model,” argues that human defenses against scams and falsehoods are more robust than the entertaining tales of bridges sold and voyages to nonexistent paradises would suggest. In more ways than one, social interaction can become a “con-test.”


Human disturbance increasing cannibalism among polar bears

AFP in Moscow
Wed 26 Feb 2020 12.56 EST
Last modified on Wed 26 Feb 2020 13.07 EST

Cases of polar bears killing and eating each other are on the rise in the Arctic as melting ice and human activity erode their habitat, according to a Russian expert.

“Cases of cannibalism among polar bears are a long-established fact, but we’re worried that such cases used to be found rarely while now they are recorded quite often,” said Ilya Mordvintsev, a polar bear expert, quoted by Interfax news agency.

Mordvintsev, a senior researcher at Moscow’s Severtsov Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution, added: “We state that cannibalism in polar bears is increasing.”

Speaking at a presentation in St Petersburg, Mordvintsev suggested that the behaviour could be due to lack of food. “In some seasons there is not enough food and large males attack females with cubs.”


Double standard for moderators

People are piling on the women moderators for not controlling the Democratic debate last night, but I don't remember the moderators of the previous debate, which included two male moderators and one female one, and had plenty of bad behaviour, being raked over the coals this way.

Three journalists from CNN and the Des Moines Register will moderate the seventh Democratic debate scheduled for January 14 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The debate, which will include just six candidates, will be broadcast by CNN and live streamed by both publications.

On behalf of CNN, anchor Wolf Blitzer and political correspondent Abby Phillip will moderate, while the Des Moines Register will be represented by political correspondent Brianne Pfannenstiel.


Her bladder was its own brewery

Adrianna Rodriguez
Feb. 26, 2020

Doctors tried to treat a woman looking for a liver transplant for addiction after results showed her urine was full of alcohol.

The problem: She denied ever drinking a drop.

Medical professionals at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine discovered that the 61-year-old woman wasn’t trying to hide an alcohol-use disorder but had a rare medical condition called auto-brewery syndrome, or ABS.

In a case study published in the peer-reviewed Annals of Internal Medicine, doctors said yeast in her bladder fermented sugar to produce ethanol because of “poorly controlled” diabetes. They proposed calling the phenomenon “urinary auto-brewery syndrome” or “bladder fermentation syndrome.”

The study’s authors made the distinction from traditional auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, because patients with this medical condition produce alcohol in their gastrointestinal system.


Children Detained in America's Prisons are Charged for Underwear, Food, Books, Even Family Visits

Jonna Mastropasqua
On 2/19/20 at 12:42 PM EST

I teach minors who are incarcerated in the adult jail in Pima County, Arizona.


"Do you have underwear?" I spoke low, trying not to let my voice carry to the rest of the unit; its current occupants: 37 teenage boys.

"No," she whispered, "I don't have a bra, either." The police took it when she was arrested because it had an underwire. It and her underwear went into storage with the rest of her property. This county jail does not issue bras or underwear for free, not even to minors.

Assuming someone would put money on her account, she'd be able to order both—underwear cost $3.25 a pair and a bra costs $13.50. Once the money was credited to her account, it would take three to five days to order them and another four to get them.

Luckily for her, I found a sports bra and some too-big underwear in a pile of items I had in my office, but this no solution for the minors who have to pay for items like bras, socks and even for video visits with their friends or families. A single 25 minute visit costs $7.50 or $16.50 for 55 minutes.

States like California passed a ban for-profit, private prison and detention centers to reduce the amount of money private companies make from housing prisoners. Yet, child (and adult) inmates across the country are, along with their families, bearing more and more of the costs of incarceration—even when it comes to bare necessities like toilet paper or feminine hygiene supplies.


My students and their families pay for commissary—food and hygiene items above and beyond the extremely limited allotments the jail provides. They get hot trays for lunch, instead of the single sandwich, milk and fruit the adults usually get. But being teenagers, they are still hungry all the time.

Commissary items are paid for with money added to an inmate's account, but it typically costs $4 per transaction to do it. If a family member puts $40 on an inmate's books, the inmate gets to spend $36. Commissary also includes things like sweatshirts ($12.99) or socks ($2.75/pair) or boxers ($4.25/pair)—for the times when it is cold in the housing unit (and it often is.)

Commissary companies alone bring in an estimated annual profit of $1.6 billion per year.

The list of things that are considered optional, including clothes thick enough to stay warm, is long. The prices inflated. A litany that includes a single "soup" ($1.25 for a ramen packet I can pick up at Walmart for $0.22), phone time (a pre-paid account at about $0.20/minute, if you don't include the fees paid to load money on the account). In some places, inmates pay as much as $0.05 a minute to read eBooks that they don't own once they're done! The company that provides inmate tablets—and reaps the profits from their use—is GTL. A nationwide telecom service.

Occasionally, we'll have a student or two who has people on the outside who will put a lot of money on their books so they can buy what they need. Mostly, though, these kids get sporadic support, and it usually comes in small amounts. These kids, on the whole, don't come from affluent backgrounds and they are used to going without—it has been the story of their entire lives.


The republican's 'census' forms are not actual census forms

Feb. 26, 2020, 10:50 AM EST
By Steve Benen


The Republican National Committee is sending documents labeled "2020 Congressional District Census" to people in California and across the country just weeks before the start of the official nationwide count of the country's population. Critics say the misleading mailers -- in envelopes labeled "Do Not Destroy. Official Document" and including a lengthy questionnaire on blue-tinted paper similar to the type used by the real census -- are designed to confuse people and possibly lower the response rate when the count begins in mid-March.


the Republicans' document includes this specific appeal at the bottom, separate from the request for a campaign contribution, alongside an unchecked box: "I cannot send a donation at that level right now. But I am enclosing $15 to help pay for the cost of processing my Census Document."

It led the DNC to argue, "That's a political donation disguised as a government processing fee."


There are practical considerations to keep in mind. If, for example, Americans see actual materials from the Census Bureau, and discard them because they think the documents are part of an RNC scheme, the response rate could be lower, which is problematic for all sorts of reasons.

But making matters just a little worse, this isn't even the first time the Republican National Committee has pulled this stunt.

Readers who've been with me a very long time may recall some of my coverage from 2010, when the RNC also sent out deceptive fundraising mailings, with envelopes that included text such as "Census Document" and, in all caps, "DO NOT DESTROY/OFFICIAL DOCUMENT."


Scientists accidentally discover first animal that doesn't breathe oxygen

Jackson Ryan
February 25, 2020 4:01 PM PST

Oxygen, I'm sure you'd agree, is pretty important for life on Earth. We breathe it in, our cells survive on it and without it, we're pretty much doomed. Basically all multicellular life on Earth evolved to utilize oxygen over millions of years.

But take a deep breath because we need to talk about Henneguya salminicola, a tiny parasite containing less than 10 cells that lives within the muscle tissue of salmon. The alien-tadpole-looking parasite does not busy itself with such trifling matters as breathing oxygen. Nope, it seems H. salminicola is the first multicellular animal we've found that survives without the stuff.

"Aerobic respiration was thought to be ubiquitous in animals, but now we confirmed that this is not the case," said Dorothee Huchon, a zoologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel, in a press release.

Huchon and a team of international researchers examined and sequenced all of H. salminicola's genes in their study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. They found the parasite, which is closely related to jellyfish, lacks the DNA machinery necessary to "breathe" -- it doesn't have a mitochondria. The mitochondria is often called the "powerhouse" of the cell, because it uses oxygen to make energy. It's like a little factory inside (almost) all cells and DNA sleuths can find its genes during sequencing.


Heatwave exposure linked to increased risk of preterm birth in California

News Release 25-Feb-2020
University of California - San Diego

A new study by researchers at University of California San Diego identified another important at-risk group: people who are pregnant and their unborn infants. The study, published February 11, 2020 in Environment International, found that exposure to heatwaves during the week before birth was strongly linked to an increased risk of preterm delivery -- the hotter the temperature or the longer the heatwave, the greater the risk. In particular, longer duration heatwaves were associated with the highest risk of a preterm birth.


Preterm birth is defined as birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, which normally lasts at least 40 weeks. While the difference might not seem significant, preterm birth can cause a variety of health problems in infants, from respiratory and cardiac ailments and difficulty controlling body temperature to increased risk for brain hemorrhages and long-term health concerns such as cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, and vision and hearing problems.


"In coastal California, due to climate change, we're seeing more humid heat waves," said Benmarhnia. "Humid air holds heat longer, which can keep temperatures high overnight, contributing to longer heatwaves. This could be important for the recommendations given to pregnant people -- it might not be enough to stay inside just during the day, we might have to think about what to do for night temperatures, too."


Study finds picking up a pingpong paddle may benefit people with Parkinson's

News Release 25-Feb-2020
American Academy of Neurology

Pingpong may hold promise as a possible form of physical therapy for Parkinson's disease. People with Parkinson's who participated in a pingpong exercise program once a week for six months showed improvement in their Parkinson's symptoms, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 to May 1, 2020.


How sleep helps teens deal with social stress

News Release 24-Feb-2020
Michigan State University

A new Michigan State University study found that a good night's sleep does adolescents good - beyond helping them stay awake in class. Adequate sleep can help teens navigate challenging social situations.

The study, which focused on ninth grade students, found that adequate sleep allowed students to cope with discrimination and challenges associated with ethnic or racial bias. It also helps them problem-solve more effectively and seek peer support when faced with hardships.


Cook County's short-lived 'soda' tax worked, says new study

News Release 24-Feb-2020
University of Illinois at Chicago

A study of beverage sales in Cook County, Illinois, shows that for four months in 2017 -- when the county implemented a penny-per-ounce tax on both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks -- purchases of the taxed beverages decreased by 21%, even after an adjustment for cross-border shopping.


Electrolyte supplements don't prevent illness in athletes, study finds

News Release 25-Feb-2020
Stanford Medicine

Electrolyte supplements popular with endurance runners can't be relied on to keep essential sodium levels in balance, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and their collaborators.

Rather, longer training distances, lower body mass and avoidance of overhydration were shown to be more important factors in preventing illness caused by electrolyte imbalances, the researchers found. Their study also showed that hot weather increased the rates of these types of illnesses.


Stress may drive people to give as well as receive emotional support

News Release 24-Feb-2020
Penn State

Stress has a justifiably bad reputation for making people feel crummy. But new research suggests that despite its negative side effects, it may also lead to a surprising social benefit.

In a study, a team of scientists including Penn State researchers found that experiencing stress made people both more likely to give and receive emotional support from another person. This was true on the day they experienced the stressor as well as the following day.

"Our findings suggest that just because we have a bad day, that doesn't mean it has to be completely unhealthy," Almeida said. "If stress can actually connect us with other people, which I think is absolutely vital to the human experience, I think that's a benefit. Stress could potentially help people deal with negative situations by driving them to be with other people."


Just as tobacco advertising causes teen smoking, exposure to alcohol ads causes teens to drink

News Release 24-Feb-2020
New York University

Exposure to alcohol advertising changes teens' attitudes about alcohol and can cause them to start drinking, finds a new analysis led by NYU School of Global Public Health and NYU Grossman School of Medicine.


Advertising has long influenced how people purchase and consume goods. Youth are particularly vulnerable to the influence of advertising due to their potential for forming brand loyalties at an early age, limited skepticism, and high use of social media--where alcohol marketing is increasingly found.

Teen alcohol use is a major public health problem, with negative consequences ranging from injuries, including those from car crashes, to risky sexual behavior, to damage to the developing brain.


tags: drug use, drug abuse

Weight gain associated with accelerated lung function decline in adulthood

News Release 24-Feb-2020
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

Lung function declines naturally over the course of the human lifespan. However, this decline is steeper in individuals who experience moderate or high weight gain. This was the conclusion of a new study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by "la Caixa", which analysed the effect of weight changes on respiratory health over a 20-year period.


Two mechanisms could explain the association between weight gain and pulmonary health. First, weight gain can affect lung function through mechanical effects. "Abdominal and thoracic fat mass is likely to limit the room for lung expansion during inspiration," commented ISGlobal researcher Gabriela Prado Peralta, lead author of the study. Second, weight gain can impair lung function through inflammatory processes, since adipose tissue--the area where fat accumulates--is a source of inflammatory substances that can damage lung tissue and reduce airway diameter.

Maintaining good lung function during adulthood is crucial to prevent chronic respiratory diseases, which nowadays represent a serious public health problem around the world. "Given the epidemic levels of overweight and obesity that we are currently seeing, it is fundamental to understand the effects of weight changes on lung function, which is a powerful predictor of morbidity and mortality in the general population," commented Garcia Aymerich. "The good news is that the negative pulmonary health effects of excess weight and obesity can be reversed through weight loss. Therefore, public health policies that promote healthy lifestyles can be the key to achieving good pulmonary health."


New study shows vision rehab treatment effective for stroke and injury related blindness

News Release 24-Feb-2020
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

-Jose Romano, Chief of the Stroke Division at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, co-authored a recently published international study that shows that visual rehabilitation is effective for patients who have suffered vision loss related to stroke or traumatic brain injury.

The study titled "Efficacy and predictors of Recovery of Function After Eye Movement Training in 296 Hemianopic Patients," was recently published in the journal Cortex. It is the largest neuro-visual study of its kind.

The research team found that the NeuroEyeCoach visual rehabilitation therapy applied after stroke or other traumatic brain injury (TBI) improved vision in over 80 percent of patients, helping them with everyday tasks and improving their quality of life. The results showed that the treatment improved vision even in an 90-year-old patients.


Michael Cohen confirms he paid tech firm to rig polls and says Trump directed him to do it

Marketwatch is rated slightly to moderately conservative in bias.

Jan 17, 2019 9:58 a.m. ET

Michael Cohen, whose longtime role in the Trump Organization is alternately described as lawyer and fixer but whose main function since leaving the president’s orbit is arguably an antithesis of both, has responded to a Thursday scoop in which the Wall Street Journal reported Cohen engaged a technology firm to fix online polling in Trump’s favor with a sort of confession to Twitter.

His tweet, indeed, went further, not only admitting to the act, but pointing unequivocally at his then-boss as having directed it:

Michael Cohen


As for the @WSJ article on poll rigging, what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.
9:05 AM - Jan 17, 2019 · Manhattan, NY


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Trump spent the past 2 years slashing the government agencies responsible for handling the coronavirus outbreak

Sonam Sheth and Gina Heeb
Feb. 25, 2020


Fears of a pandemic come after the Trump administration spent the past several years gutting the very government programs that are tasked with combatting such a crisis.

In 2018, for instance, the CDC cut 80% of its efforts to prevent global disease outbreaks because it was running out of money. Ultimately, the department went from working in 49 countries to just 10.


Monday, February 24, 2020

Tom Steyer qualifies for South Carolina Democratic debate ahead of primary

Martin Pengelly
Sun 23 Feb 2020 15.25 EST

Tom Steyer has qualified for Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina, ahead of the state’s primary next weekend.


How to watch the Democratic debate in South Carolina

Founder of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods transfers business to employees

By Dana Tims
Updated Feb 24, 2020; Posted Feb 17, 2010

Scores of employees gathered to help Bob Moore celebrate his 81st birthday this week at the company that bears his name, Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods.

Moore, whose mutual loves of healthy eating and old-world technologies spawned an internationally distributed line of products, responded with a gift of his own -- the whole company. The Employee Stock Ownership Plan Moore unveiled means that his 209 employees now own the place and its 400 offerings of stone-ground flours, cereals and bread mixes.


"This is Bob taking care of us," said Lori Sobelson, who helps run the business' retail operation. "He expects a lot out of us, but really gives us the world in return."


Report warns climate change could become 'catastrophic' global, national security threat

By Rebecca Klar - 02/24/20 09:16 AM EST

National security and intelligence experts warn that climate change could become a “catastrophic” threat to security and recommended quick action to be taken to mitigate risks, according to a new report released Monday.

“Even at scenarios of low warming, each region of the world will face severe risks to national and global security in the next three decades,” experts wrote in the report released by the National Security, Military and Intelligence Panel of the Center of Climate and Security, a nonpartisan security policy institute.

“Higher levels of warming will pose catastrophic, and likely irreversible, global security risks over the course of the 21st century.”

The security threat assessment of global climate change warns that all levels of warming of climate change will pose “significant and evolving threats” to global security environments, infrastructure and institutions.


The report said mitigating risks requires “quickly reducing and phasing out global greenhouse gas emissions” and calls for the world to reach net-zero global emissions “as soon as possible.”


How Private Equity Ruined a Beloved Grocery Chain

These people are parasites, who profited from the tax decreases on the very rich passed by Trump and the republican Congress.

February 16, 2020
Eileen Appelbaum, Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research
Andrew W. Park, Financial researcher

The news of Fairway Market’s second foray into bankruptcy, this time with the threat that stores could be liquidated to pay off the unsustainable debt hanging over the grocery chain, dismayed its legions of loyal Manhattan customers.


But, fatefully, it is also emblematic of the way private-equity investors—including Fairway’s former owner Sterling Investment Partners—have hastened the fall of brick-and-mortar stores caught in the so-called retail apocalypse.


Most companies mean to stay in business for the long term, and those in the industries most exposed to the business cycle know that low debt and no rent are the keys to surviving hard times and then prospering when the good times return. The motivation is very different for private-equity owners, who operate under a shorter time frame, often just three to five years, before moving on. For them, low levels of debt and high levels of real-estate ownership present a get-rich-quick opportunity.

The low debt means that private-equity firms can acquire retail chains by putting up very little of their own money and can take on high levels of debt that the company, not the investors who own it, must ultimately repay. The real estate gives investors an opportunity to sell off some of it and pocket the proceeds, leaving the stores to pay rent on properties they once owned. Especially attractive to private-equity owners is the high cash flow in retail operations. Private-equity owners have not been shy about putting their hands in the till to pay themselves exorbitant dividends.


While all traditional retail faces these challenges, chains owned by private equity make up a disproportionate share of businesses that have failed. This record is not just a product of markets; it’s a matter of morality as well. Private-equity firms profit as the companies they own tumble into bankruptcy.


Fairway, like Gymboree, Toys “R” Us, and so many other retailers before it, failed because it was saddled with debt and could not adapt to meet new competitive pressures. And, as in the case of Fairway, the private-equity firms that owned these other failing companies still managed to recoup their investments and make a profit. They extracted value by collecting advisory fees, paying themselves dividends, or stripping away a company’s assets. While the private-equity firms profited, the bankrupt company’s workers paid the price. When Toys “R” Us closed in 2018, 31,000 workers lost their job. When A&P went out of business in 2016, 21,000 workers lost their job and pension benefits.

A lack of transparency disguises private equity’s role in the retail apocalypse. When General Motors in November 2018 decided to halt production at five North American plants and cut up to 15,000 jobs, Congress summoned the company’s CEO, Mary Barra, to answer for its decision. In contrast, few people outside finance know what Sterling or KKR or Blackstone is. Even after companies owned by private-equity firms go bankrupt, the investors suffer no public approbation or damage to their professional reputation. They can still raise money from pension funds and other institutional investors to buy out other companies under the guise of saving them.
[It would help if articles such as this would name the people who own the private equity companies.]


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Climate change is drying up the Colorado River, putting millions at risk of 'severe water shortages'

A lot of people affected have been voting for politicians who block action on climate disruption.

By Drew Kann, CNN
Updated 9:58 AM ET, Sat February 22, 2020

The Colorado River -- which provides water to more than 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles -- has seen its flow dwindle by 20 percent compared to the last century, and scientists have found that climate change is mainly to blame.

The researchers found that more than half of the decline in the river's flow is connected to increasing temperatures, and as warming continues, they say the risk of "severe water shortages" for the millions that rely on it is expected to grow.
For each 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of warming averaged across the river's basin, the study found that its flow has decreased by nearly 10%. Over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries, the region has already warmed by an average of roughly 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The study also examined the impact that action to curb pollution of heat-trapping gases could have on the river's water supply.
Some decrease in the flow is likely no matter what actions are taken, but without any cuts to emissions, the report says the river's discharge could shrink by between 19% and 31% by the middle of this century.


water is diverted to supply major cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Diego, as well as farms in the US and Mexico that grow the vegetables that feed millions around the world.


Global warming is taking a severe toll on the snowpack that feeds the river, the scientists found. As temperatures increase, snow cover in the region is declining, meaning less energy from the sun is reflected back into space and more warms the ground as heat.
This triggers a vicious cycle that leads to even more evaporation and therefore, less water supply.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Accuracy in reporting, update 1

Feb. 23, 2020 5:53 pm EST

With 60% of precincts reporting, Sanders got 33.2% of the first vote, 39.3% of the final vote, 46.0% of C.C.D.s (county convention delegates). I notice NPR didn't give actual voter percentages, just C.C.D. numbers

Feb. 22, 2020 10:48pm EST

The Guardian is announcing the percentage of precincts reporting and the percent of votes by leading candidates in their headline.

Currently at 23.32% reporting, Bernie at 47%.

While other "news" sources were claiming Bernie had a majority when 4% of precincts had reported.

They would be less open to attacks on their credibility if they were more concerned with accuracy than click bait headlines

Egypt to try doctor, parents for female genital mutilation

,Associated Press•February 22, 2020

Egypt’s chief prosecutor Saturday referred a physician to criminal trial for allegedly mutilating the genitals of a 12-year-old girl, leading to her death, his office said.

The girl bled to death last month in the southern province of Assiut following a 30-minute surgery. Her death sparked a nationwide outcry.

Despite battling the practice for decades, Egypt has one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, in the world. Many families fear that an uncircumcised daughter will be unable to marry.

Public prosecutor Hamada el-Sawy also referred the girl’s parents to trial, according to a statement from his office. No date has been set for their trials.


Man wrongfully convicted of murder sues New York for $100 million

CBS News•February 20, 2020

A man who was wrongfully convicted of murder nearly 25 years ago was released from prison last week and is now suing the state of New York for $100 million. Despite the confession from another man 16 years ago, it took more than a decade for Christian Pacheco, 42, to be freed.


Criminal defense attorney Ken Belkin said wrongful convictions are very difficult to overturn.

"That's a flaw of the system," he said. "If you're the DA, do you really want to go questioning the people that you rely on to prosecute cases … They sort of have this wall of silence where they say, 'Hey, we're all on the same team. Whatever happened, happened.'" Pacheco's conviction was vacated and his indictment was dismissed last week, when he walked out of prison a free man for the first time in nearly 25 years.


Those headlines again

Feb. 22, 2020

I see headlines reporting that Bernie has won Nevada caucuses. So I look at the article, and see that only 4% of precincts had reported.

If it turns out that he did not win when all the precincts are in, his followers will be claiming some kind of "cheating".

I checked other sources, same thing, they are declaring Sanders won, with only 4% of precincts reporting.

Friday, February 21, 2020

The coronavirus just killed a 29-year-old doctor who postponed his wedding to fight the disease

A hero.

Paulina Cachero
,Business Insider•February 21, 2020

A young Chinese doctor who postponed his wedding to help battle the coronavirus died from the disease on Thursday, China's official Xinhua news agency said.


Peng planned to marry his partner, who has not been named in reports, during the Lunar New Year holiday, but they agreed to delay the ceremony so that Peng could help treat people with the coronavirus, Chinese state media said. Peng never even had the chance to send his wedding invitations, which remain in his office drawer, Xinhua said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Chinese citizens have mourned his death on the social-media platform Weibo, lauding the doctor as a hero.


Frozen bird discovered in Siberia is 46,000 years old, scientists discover

By James Rogers
Feb. 21, 2020

A frozen bird found in the Siberian permafrost is a 46,000-year-old lark, scientists have revealed.

The bird was found in the ground in the Belaya Gora area of north-eastern Siberia in 2018. Scientists from Stockholm University’s Centre for Palaeogenetics and the Swedish Museum of Natural History have studied the bird, revealing that it died 46,000 years ago.


Creator of copy and paste command, Larry Tesler, dies aged 74

Nadeem Badshah
Thu 20 Feb 2020 17.31 EST
Last modified on Thu 20 Feb 2020 18.22 EST

Tributes have been paid to Larry Tesler, the computer scientist who introduced the cut, copy and paste commands, after his death at age 74. The Stanford University graduate, who was a pioneer of early computing, died on Monday in San Francisco.


Xerox wrote on Twitter: “The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more, was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler. Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas.”


Who chooses which polls to use?

Feb. 20, 2020

[From Tom Steyers email. The Democratic debate he references was the one last night, Wed., Feb. 19, 2020]

Regardless of the turnout model, Tom earns well over the 12% support threshold put forth by the DNC to make the Nevada debate. Let me be clear; if it were up to the people of Nevada and South Carolina, Tom Steyer would be on the debate stage tonight. Unfortunately, the DNC has rules for this debate that do not allow for any early state polling except one poll in Nevada to count towards the debate qualifying criteria.

Despite the DNC rules, we know that Tom is doing well in Nevada and South Carolina. In the last month there have been six public polls in those states. Tom has been at or above 10% in every one and over 12% in three of them. And Tom’s current polling average on Real Clear Politics is 10.5% in Nevada and 16% in South Carolina, putting him in the top tier of candidates in both states.

One week before the DNC started its polling window for qualification to the Nevada debate, our campaign met the polling criteria in two Fox News polls that showed his campaign at 15% in South Carolina and 12% in Nevada. More recent polls conducted by The Post and Courier and East Carolina University confirmed Tom’s momentum, showing him as a leading candidate with 18% and 19% support respectively. The Post and Courier poll showed Tom earning 24% support amongst black voters, only six points behind first-placed Joe Biden.

While it is certainly frustrating and disappointing that Tom will not be on the stage tonight, we know that Tom is in a good position in the next two states and has the message and organization to compete well beyond that.

What is "The will of the people"?

Feb. 20 2020

Sanders response in the debate to who should get the nomination if no one gets a majority of delegates, which has not changed since the 2016 election, is an example of why I don't like him.

SANDERS: Well, the process includes 500 super-delegates on the second ballot. So I think that the will of the people should prevail, yes. The person who has the most votes should become the nominee.

This is EXACTLY the way Trump & his supporters claim that "the people" elected him.

Sanders is getting about 25% - 30% of the primary vote. This is far below what Trump got in the republican primaries, where he also did not get a majority. It's below what Trump got in the popular vote.

This is an example of why we need runoffs, which we have for primaries in Georgia. "The will of the people" should mean a majority.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Trump decided to replace his top spy chief after his aide told Congress that Russia is interfering in 2020 to help Trump win

Another act of Trump that weakens our country.

John Haltiwanger and Sonam Sheth
Feb. 20, 2020

President Donald Trump decided to replace Joseph Maguire as his top acting intelligence official after Maguire authorized an aide to brief Congress about Russia's 2020 election interference, which enraged the president, according to The Washington Post.


During the briefing, the aide told lawmakers Russia was attempting to interfere in the 2020 election to help get Trump reelected, according to The New York Times.

Trump replaced Maguire with Richard Grenell, a fierce loyalist who has served as the US ambassador to Germany and has no background in intelligence work.


E. Jean Carroll, columnist who says Donald Trump raped her, fired from Elle

Joshua Bote
,USA TODAY•February 20, 2020

The longtime advice columnist who accused Donald Trump in 2019 of raping her was fired from her post at Elle.

E. Jean Carroll, who helmed the "Ask E. Jean" column for the magazine since 1993, was let go from her position in December, according to a court filing published Tuesday.

"Because Trump ridiculed my reputation, laughed at my looks, & dragged me through the mud, after 26 years, ELLE fired me," she wrote in a tweet Tuesday. "I don't blame Elle ... I blame @realdonaldtrump."


Airports warn of chaos with looming Real ID license deadline

Tom Costello
,NBC News•February 19, 2020

The nation's airports are warning of chaos for passengers if the White House doesn't postpone the looming Real ID deadline.

The law requires airline passengers to present a Real ID-compliant driver's license or ID card at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints in airports as of Oct. 1. Those licenses require more proof of identification than regular licenses and are generally marked with a star on the top.

But while states have already issued 95 million Real IDs, that represents just 34 percent of the total, leaving two-thirds of the country with about seven months to get them if they hope to use a license to board a plane.

Without a Real ID, airline passengers will be required to present a passport, military ID or Global Entry card to pass through security, even for domestic flights.


Who to choose?

Feb. 20, 2020

Something I think to consider when choosing a president is what kind of person you found to be an effective supervisor or co-worker.

Feds charge man for threatening whistleblower attorney

So not only those who report wrong doing are at risk, but even those associated with them. Really scary.
Trump and others who have publicized the whistleblowers name are guilty of attempted murder.

02/20/2020 12:37 PM EST

Federal prosecutors in Michigan have charged a man with making a death threat against one of the attorneys for a whistleblower who initiated the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, according to newly unsealed court records.

The man, Brittan J. Atkinson, allegedly emailed the attorney in November, calling him a “traitor” who “must die a miserable death.” The attorney, Mark Zaid, confirmed to POLITICO that he received the email the day after Trump held up Zaid’s photo and read some of Zaid’s tweets during a rally.

“All traitors must die miserable deaths,” reads the email to Zaid that was sent on November 7. “Those that represent traitors shall meet the same fate. We will hunt you down and bleed you out like the pigs you are. We have nothing but time, and you are running out of it. Keep looking over your shoulder. We know who you are, where you live, and who you associate with. We are all strangers in a crowd to you.”

Atkinson has been charged with violating laws governing interstate communications, which prohibit “any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another” and is punishable by up to five years in prison.


Trump has tweeted about the whistleblower more than five dozen times since September, accusing the person of being part of the “deep state” and alleging that he gave the Intelligence Community inspector general false information. Nothing in the whistleblower’s original complaint, however, has proven inaccurate.


Brain Scans Reveal Why “Night Owls” Have It Rough in a 9-to-5 Society

Sarah Sloat

The 9-to-5 workday originated with American labor unions in the 1800s, and today, the eight-hour workday is the norm. But however normalized the schedule, it is directly opposed to something more powerful: biology.

In a study published in February 2019, scientists report that people whose internal body clocks tell them to go to bed late, but are then forced to wake up early, have a lower resting brain connectivity in the regions of the brain linked to consciousness.


Why some people are primed to wake up early and others are driven to go to bed late stems from their genes.


“I believe that accounting for individual differences in sleep patterns and body clocks could open up a relatively untapped source, could contribute to being at our best, both mentally and physically.”

This research also hints that “night owls” are less compatible to the 9-to-5 work day than people who naturally wake up earlier. It’s theorized that lower levels of brain connectivity cause “night owls” to have poorer attention, slower reactions, and increased sleepiness throughout the hours of a typical work day. Facer-Childs believes this study and others suggest that the rigid 9-to-5 schedule might need to change.

“I believe that the abundance of research coming out now that links misalignment and sleep disruption to negative health and performance supports the need to create more flexibility in our society,” Facer-Childs says.

“I realize that there is a need for some sort of constrained routine, but being able to take these individual differences into account and allow people a few hours of flexibility could have a considerable impact.”

Problems in the music industry

By Doria Roberts on November 18, 2014

I cannot tell you how happy I am that the conversation about Taylor Swift and Spotify is happening. Maybe people will start listening to what independent artists like me and my peers have been saying for years now.


While carefully building and maintaining a social media connection with my fan base and doing mostly one-offs in some of my bigger markets, I decided to do a full regional tour in 2012. And, while I am grateful to the people who came, I had miserable turnouts at most of the shows. In Buffalo, where the temp dropped to 30 degrees that night, I cleared $14 once the door was split with the venue. In Philadelphia, where I started my career, I lost upwards of $1,500-2,000 on one show because only 12 people showed up. It was the night of the Presidential debates, something I couldn’t have known when I booked the show months before. But, I still had to pay the venue, their door person and sound person, pay my band, pay for their hotel room and mine for three nights so we wouldn’t have to stay in NYC, paid for their flights (along with baggage handling fees for my cellist’s cello), my rental car, gas and food for myself and the band (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Same with D.C., where the venue wouldn’t even allow me to officially charge a door fee and where some people (my fans included) opted not to pay one even as a requested donation.

This is my reality and the reality of the many artists you care about.

I’m sorry if you think so, but music is NOT FREE. It costs money to make and it costs money to support via touring.


As a consumer and a fan, you are at the top of this food chain, not the bottom. You are not subject to the whims of popular culture; you are the arbiter of it. If you want to see less “fluff” in the music industry, if you want to see your artists remain authentic, creative and prolific beings and, if you want them to come back to your hometowns:

1. Start buying our music again. Digital, hard copy, doesn’t matter, just pay for it. If you can pay $4 for a coffee, you can pay $9.99 for something meaningful that you’ll enjoy forever.

2. Stop using streaming services that only pay us $.0006 per listen if you don’t already own our music either via a legal download or a hard copy. Educate yourself. If you think the profits that oil companies make are obscene, I urge you to do some digging about what some of these streaming companies are really about. [Editor’s note: Spotify claims to have paid Taylor Swift over $2 million dollars in streaming royalties. Her label says that’s not even close to the truth.]

3. And, this is important: Set your DVRs on your favorite show nights and go to our concerts. If I had a dime for every time a person told me they weren’t able to make my show because it was the finals of DWTS or The Voice, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I’d be sitting in a bungalow in Costa Rica sipping something fruity and delicious.

Simple solutions sometimes require difficult choices. Oh, and this goes for independent movies, books, indie/feminist bookstores, small venues and small businesses, too. Just know this: you have the power to change the cultural landscape around you. Use that power wisely.

The ‘Internet of Things’ Is Sending Us Back to the Middle Ages

The Conversation |
Joshua A.T. Fairfield

Internet-enabled devices are so common, and so vulnerable, that hackers broke into a casino through its fish tank. The tank had internet-connected sensors measuring its temperature and cleanliness. The hackers got into the fish tank’s sensors and then to the computer used to control them, and from there to other parts of the casino’s network. The intruders were able to copy 10 gigabytes of data to somewhere in Finland.


One key reason we don’t control our devices is that the companies that make them seem to think – and definitely act like – they still own them, even after we’ve bought them. A person may purchase a nice-looking box full of electronics that can function as a smartphone, the corporate argument goes, but they buy a license only to use the software inside. The companies say they still own the software, and because they own it, they can control it. It’s as if a car dealer sold a car, but claimed ownership of the motor.

This sort of arrangement is destroying the concept of basic property ownership. John Deere has already told farmers that they don’t really own their tractors but just license the software – so they can’t fix their own farm equipment or even take it to an independent repair shop. The farmers are objecting, but maybe some people are willing to let things slide when it comes to smartphones, which are often bought on a payment installment plan and traded in as soon as possible.


The issue of who gets to control property has a long history. In the feudal system of medieval Europe, the king owned almost everything, and everyone else’s property rights depended on their relationship with the king. Peasants lived on land granted by the king to a local lord, and workers didn’t always even own the tools they used for farming or other trades like carpentry and blacksmithing.


The Day Democracy Died

They included the lyrics in the Youtube post

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Pompeo says 'mature, responsible countries' don't 'restrict speech' after China expels reporters

Really hypocritical coming from an administration in our own country that wants to silence any dissent.against them.

Brendan Morrow
,The Week•February 19, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is condemning China for its decision to expel three reporters from The Wall Street Journal from the country.

"Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions," Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday. "The correct response is to present counter arguments, not restrict speech."

This came after China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said three journalists from the Journal would have their credentials revoked over the paper's recent headline, "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia," The New York Times reports. The reporters weren't actually involved with the article, which was an opinion piece, but Beijing called the story "racist" and "malicious." The journalists, two of whom are American and one of whom is Australian, have been ordered to leave China within five days, although the Times notes it's not clear if that's possible, as one of is currently in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus.


ICE says it plans to destroy a trove of detention records, including numbers on detainee deaths and sexual assaults

This is the kind of thing they do in places like Russia and China.

Paulina Cachero
,INSIDER•February 19, 2020

The National Archives and Records Administration approved ICE's request to destroy years of detention records late last year.

The records included in the trove contain information related to deaths of detainees and allegations of sexual assault and abuse of detainees in December.

On Tuesday, the ACLU filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to retrieve the documents before they are erased.


Florida loses appeals court ruling on felon voting law

02/19/2020 11:17 AM EST

Delivering a defeat to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld a lower court decision that found the state could not deny ex-felons the right to vote just because they can’t afford to pay outstanding court fines, fees and restitution, as required by the 2019 law.

“These plaintiffs are punished more harshly than those who committed precisely the same crime — by having their right to vote taken from them likely for their entire lives,” states the ruling issued by a three-judge panel. “And this punishment is linked not to their culpability, but rather to the exogenous fact of their wealth.”


In 2018, more than 5 million Florida voters cast ballots in favor of Amendment 4, which automatically restored voting rights to convicted criminals who had served their time, with exceptions for murders and sex offenders.

Legislators said the amendment was vague, and passed a bill that required ex-offenders to pay outstanding court fees, fines and restitution in order to regain their right to vote.


an August study by Dan Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida, concluded that as many as 80 percent of the state’s formerly incarcerated individuals have some sort of legal financial obligation.


Let's stop arguing with headlines that the writer didn't write

by Timothy P. Carney
| October 31, 2014 09:54 AM

If you're not a journalist, here's a trade secret: The person who wrote an article often isn't the same person who wrote the headline.

Editors write many headlines — certainly in print, often online. They edit the headlines for length, for house style, for eye-grabbing capability, for click-bait and for search-engine optimization. Sometimes we writers submit a headline that we expect will be rewritten. Sometimes we don't even bother.

This gets problematic at times, because sometimes the editor writes something the author doesn't argue in the piece — and doesn't even believe.


Tsundoku: The Art of Buying Books and Never Reading Them

BBC News |
Tom Gerken

Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading?

If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku - a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature.


By his definition, those afflicted with bibliomania were obsessed with unique books such as first editions and illustrated copies.

But two centuries later, the term would no longer be about obsession - according to Oxford University Press, it has been shifted to "passionate enthusiasm" about collecting.

While the two words may have similar meanings, there is one key difference: Bibliomania describes the intention to create a book collection, tsundoku describes the intention to read books and their eventual, accidental collection.


Trump Proposes 16% Cut To CDC As Global Number Of Coronavirus Infections And Deaths Rise

Lisette Voytko
Feb 11, 2020, 01:45pm

As the coronavirus continues to spread, President Trump’s proposed 2021 budget calls for drastic cuts to funding for the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization that critics say could prevent preparedness for a pandemic at home.

Trump released his proposed 2021 budget Monday, which included a 16% cut to the CDC’s budget and a 10% overall reduction to the Department of Health and Human Services’ funding, according to the Washington Post.
The U.S. contributes about 2.5% of the World Health Organization’s overall $4.8 billion budget, and Trump’s proposal calls for a $65 million cut to the group; if enacted, the U.S.’ contribution would be reduced by over 40%.

An additional 34% reduction is proposed for overall global health programs, but Trump is asking for $115 million to be set aside for global health security for the purpose of combating “infectious disease threats.”


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Medicare Will Cover Acupuncture for Chronic Back Pain

by Dena Bunis, AARP, January 22, 2020

Medicare enrollees with chronic low back pain will be able to get up to 20 acupuncture treatments each year, under a new policy that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Tuesday.

Initially, beneficiaries who have had lower back pain for 12 weeks or longer will be entitled to up to 12 visits over a 90-day period, CMS officials say. The treatments will be covered as long as the pain is not associated with other ailments, such as an infectious disease or surgery. If someone's pain decreases, Medicare will cover an additional eight sessions, but the program will pay for no more than 20 treatments a year. And if a patient does not improve or gets worse, Medicare will not pay for more sessions.


Monday, February 17, 2020

‘We can’t afford healthcare’: US hospital workers fight for higher wages

Michael Sainato
Mon 17 Feb 2020 05.00 EST
Last modified on Mon 17 Feb 2020 05.03 EST

Hospital and healthcare workers across the US are launching union drives and organizing protests in order to win higher wages and better working conditions, saying their industry exploits them and leaves them often unable to afford healthcare, despite working in the sector.

In Chicago, the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas (SEIU) is launching a campaign to organize hospital workers to ensure a $15 minimum wage extends to workers outside the city limits of Chicago, where the promise of such a rise has already been won.
The Americans forced into bankruptcy to pay for prescriptions
Read more

According to the SEIU, there are about 50,000 low-wage hospital workers throughout the Chicago metro area and about 10,000 are currently represented by the union.


“We work in the healthcare field, but we can’t afford the healthcare ourselves. It’s ridiculous. When we look at the staffing issues, they can work us, knowing we’re short-staffed, but they don’t care,” said Kimberly Smith, a patient care technician at Northwestern Memorial hospital, and a union chief steward.

She has recently received threats of a lawsuit due to an inability to pay for medical debt she accrued after an emergency room visit to the hospital where she has worked at for 16 years.


Bill Gentry has worked as an EMT and CNA for 23 years at Advocate Aurora Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Despite working at the hospital for over two decades and holding two certifications, he makes just $18 an hour with unaffordable health insurance, no retirement pension, and is forced to do work outside of his job scope.

“We’re answering phones and doing direct patient care as well. Our pay doesn’t reflect we do secretary work,” said Gentry. “We’re overworked and underpaid. You would think because we take care of people, our benefits would reflect that, but I’m currently on my wife’s insurance because I can’t afford the health insurance offered by the hospital.”