Monday, August 31, 2020

Body mass index is a more powerful risk factor for diabetes than genetics


News Release 31-Aug-2020
European Society of Cardiology


Losing weight could prevent or even reverse diabetes, according to late breaking research presented today at ESC Congress 2020.


Those in the highest BMI group (average 34.5 kg/m2) had an 11-fold increased risk of diabetes compared to participants in the lowest BMI group (average 21.7 kg/m2). The highest BMI group had a greater likelihood of developing diabetes than all other BMI groups, regardless of genetic risk.

"The findings indicate that BMI is a much more powerful risk factor for diabetes that genetic predisposition," said Professor Ference.

The investigators then used statistical methods to estimate whether the likelihood of diabetes in people with a high BMI would be even greater if they were overweight for a long period of time. They found that the duration of elevated BMI did not have an impact on the risk of diabetes.

Professor Ference said: "This suggests that when people cross a certain BMI threshold, their chances of diabetes go up and stay at that same high-risk level regardless of how long they are overweight."

He noted that the threshold is likely different for each person and would be the BMI at which they start to develop abnormal blood sugar levels. Professor Ference said: "The findings indicate that most cases of diabetes could be avoided by keeping BMI below the cut-off which triggers abnormal blood sugar. This means that to prevent diabetes, both BMI and blood sugar should be assessed regularly. Efforts to lose weight are critical when a person starts to develop blood sugar problems."

"It may also be possible to reverse diabetes by losing weight in the early stages before permanent damage occurs," said Professor Ference.


Ultra-processed food consumption is associated with chromosomal changes linked to biological ageing

News Release 31-Aug-2020
European Association for the Study of Obesity

A new study has shed light on the link between the consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPF) and the shortening of telomeres; sections of chromosomes that can be used as a marker of biological age. The work was conducted by Lucia Alonso-Pedrero and colleagues with the supervision of Professor Maira Bes-Rastrollo and Professor Amelia Marti, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.


Worldwide, fresh food consumption is decreasing while UPF intake is rising. UPFs are industrial formulations of food-derived substances (oils, fats, sugars, starch, protein isolates) that contain little or no whole food and often include flavourings, colourings, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives. The processes and ingredients used in the manufacturing of UPFs make them highly convenient (ready-to-consume, almost imperishable), highly attractive for consumers, and highly profitable (low cost ingredients, long shelf-life) for their manufacturers. These properties also result in them being nutritionally poor or unbalanced, and liable to be over-consumed, often at the expense of less processed and more nutritious alternatives.

Research has associated UPFs with serious diseases including hypertension, obesity, metabolic syndrome, depression, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers. These conditions are often age-related and are linked to oxidative stress, inflammation, and cellular ageing which can also influence TL. Despite this, there have been few studies into the effects of UPF consumption on TL, but those that have been conducted found associations between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), alcohol, processed meats and other foods rich in saturated fats and sugar with having shorter telomeres.


The team found that as UPF consumption increased, the likelihood of having shortened telomeres rose dramatically with each quartile above the lowest having a risk increase of 29%, 40%, and 82% for the 'medium-low', 'medium-high', and 'high' UPF consumption groups respectively. The authors also found that UPF intake was associated with the risk of depression (especially in patients with low levels of physical activity), hypertension, overweight/obesity, and all-cause mortality.

The authors conclude: "In this cross-sectional study of elderly Spanish subjects we showed a robust strong association between ultra-processed food consumption and telomere length. Further research in larger longitudinal studies with baseline and repeated measures of TL is needed to confirm these observations." 

No link found between maternal flu vaccination during pregnancy and autism

News Release 31-Aug-2020
American College of Physicians

URL goes live when the embargo lifts

A large cohort study found no association between maternal H1N1 vaccination during pregnancy and risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. Furthermore, no association was found for vaccine exposure in the first trimester and ASD or the secondary outcome, autistic disorder (AD). The findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.


Natural disasters must be unusual or deadly to prompt local climate policy change

News Release 28-Aug-2020
Oregon State University

Natural disasters alone are not enough to motivate local communities to engage in climate change mitigation or adaptation, a new study from Oregon State University found.

Rather, policy change in response to extreme weather events appears to depend on a combination of factors, including fatalities, sustained media coverage, the unusualness of the event and the political makeup of the community.

Climate scientists predict that the frequency and severity of extreme weather events will only continue to increase in coming decades. OSU researchers wanted to understand how local communities are reacting. 


tags: extreme weather, severe weather,

Slow internet

Aug. 31, 2020

Internet has been slow for the the last few days. Maybe because of damage to lines and severs from hurricane Laura?

Phone calls offering coronavirus test kits and asking for social security numbers come from scammers, not the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services

 Reuters Fact Check
May 15, 2020 / 11:34 AM

 Posts circulating widely on Facebook claim that scammers are making calls posing as Medicare representatives, offering coronavirus test kits and asking for social security numbers. Such calls are not from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and are indeed perpetrated by fraudsters.


Sea level rise from ice sheets track worst-case climate change scenario

by University of Leeds

August 31, 2020

Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica whose melting rates are rapidly increasing have raised the global sea level by 1.8cm since the 1990s, and are matching the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's worst-case climate warming scenarios. 

According to a new study from the University of Leeds and the Danish Meteorological Institute, if these rates continue, the ice sheets are expected to raise sea levels by a further 17cm and expose an additional 16 million people to annual coastal flooding by the end of the century.

Since the ice sheets were first monitored by satellite in the 1990s, melting from Antarctica has pushed global sea levels up by 7.2mm, while Greenland has contributed 10.6mm. And the latest measurements show that the world's oceans are now rising by 4mm each year.

"Although we anticipated the ice sheets would lose increasing amounts of ice in response to the warming of the oceans and atmosphere, the rate at which they are melting has accelerated faster than we could have imagined," said Dr. Tom Slater, lead author of the study and climate researcher at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds.

"The melting is overtaking the climate models we use to guide us, and we are in danger of being unprepared for the risks posed by sea level rise."


Here’s How Moving to Work Remotely Could Affect Your Taxes

By Jenny Gross
Aug. 25, 2020

If you decided to ride out the pandemic at your out-of-state vacation house or with your parents in the suburbs, you may be in for an unpleasant reality: a hefty tax bill.

Given the complexity of state tax laws, accountants are advising their clients to track the number of days they spend working out of state. Some states impose income tax on people who work there for as little as a single day.

Even before the pandemic, conflicting state tax rules were creating issues for the increasing number of people who were working remotely, said Edward Zelinsky, a tax professor at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law.


Many states offer credits for taxes paid to other states, and that may ease the burden. But if the state where you have relocated does not have a reciprocity agreement with the state of your primary residence, you could be subject to double state-income taxation.


Why is this so complicated?

“Federalism,” Mr. Zelinsky said. Under the U.S. Constitution, states are permitted to create their own tax rules.

“What we’ve learned in the last six months are the benefits and the disadvantages of federalism,” he said. The benefits include governors who acted responsibly in managing the pandemic who “can make up for deficiencies of the federal government,” he said.

“The disadvantages are that states are going to have 50 different tax rules.”


Nishant Mittal, the general manager of Topia Compass, which offers an app to help people keep track of their whereabouts for tax purposes, said he saw a 513 percent rise in subscribers in June, compared with June last year.

He said most of his clients did not envision a situation in which they would be working from the office as much as they did before the pandemic. “At this point, it’s no secret that this is going to be a big headache,” he said.

Were all RNC comments written by the same person?

Aug. 31, 2020

The comments at the RNC nominating convention sound like they were all written by the same person, and the people sound like they were reading them from a teleprompter.


Funny that with all the videos and tweets he does, he doesn't show us any of that supposed empathy and caring he supposedly has.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Selective reporting

Aug. 30, 2020

Trump claimed protests are only happening in Democratic states. The question I have is why the news media is not bothering to report on and hype police misbehaviour that happens in republican states?

Hurricanes could be up to five times more likely in the Caribbean if tougher targets are missed

The Caribbean  is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea[5] and some bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean) and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.  It includes Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Cuba, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, ...

Huricanes in the U.S. often hit U.S. states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, and the U.S. east coast.

News Release 27-Aug-2020
University of Bristol

Global warming is dramatically increasing the risk of extreme hurricanes in the Caribbean, but meeting more ambitious climate change goals could up to halve the likelihood of such disasters in the region, according to new research.

The study, led by the University of Bristol, analysed future projections of hurricane rainfall in the Caribbean and found it to be particularly vulnerable to climate change, resulting in extreme hurricane rainfall events being as much as five times more likely in a warmer world.

"Hurricane research has previously focused on the United States, so we wanted to look at the Caribbean region, which has fewer resources to recover. The findings are alarming and illustrate the urgent need to tackle global warming to reduce the likelihood of extreme rainfall events and their catastrophic consequences, particularly for poorer countries which take many years to recover," said lead author Emily Vosper, Research Student at the School of Computer Science, at the University of Bristol.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather,

New study warns: We have underestimated the pace at which the Arctic is melting

News Release 26-Aug-2020
University of Copenhagen

Temperatures in the Arctic Ocean between Canada, Russia and Europe are warming faster than researchers' climate models have been able to predict.

Over the past 40 years, temperatures have risen by one degree every decade, and even more so over the Barents Sea and around Norway's Svalbard archipelago, where they have increased by 1.5 degrees per decade throughout the period.

This is the conclusion of a new study published in Nature Climate Change.

"Our analyses of Arctic Ocean conditions demonstrate that we have been clearly underestimating the rate of temperature increases in the atmosphere nearest to the sea level, which has ultimately caused sea ice to disappear faster than we had anticipated," explains Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen's Niels Bohr Institutet (NBI) and one of the study's researchers.


Plastics, waste and recycling: It's not just a packaging problem

News Release 25-Aug-2020
University of Michigan

Discussions of the growing plastic waste problem often focus on reducing the volume of single-use plastic packaging items such as bags, bottles, tubs and films.

But a new University of Michigan study shows that two-thirds of the plastic put into use in the United States in 2017 was used for other purposes, including electronics, furniture and home furnishings, building construction, automobiles and various consumer products.

"Managing plastics has become a grand and complex environmental challenge, and plastic packaging clearly warrants current efforts on reductions and coordinated material recovery and recycling," said Gregory Keoleian, senior author of a paper published Aug. 25 in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

"However, while packaging was the largest defined-use market for U.S. plastics in 2017, our study shows that two-thirds of the plastic put into use that year went into other markets," said Keoleian, director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability. "Those other sectors introduce unique challenges, as well as opportunities, as we attempt a fundamental shift away from the largely linear flow of plastics and toward a circular economy for plastics." 


Ozone across northern hemisphere increased over past 20 years

The whole earth is interconnected.

News Release 21-Aug-2020
University of Colorado at Boulder

In a first-ever study using ozone data collected by commercial aircraft, researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder found that levels of the pollutant in the lowest part of Earth's atmosphere have increased across the Northern Hemisphere over the past 20 years. That's even as tighter controls on emissions of ozone precursors have lowered ground-level ozone in some places, including North America and Europe.

Tropospheric ozone--ozone between Earth's surface and 12 to 15 kilometers above Earth--is a greenhouse gas and air pollutant that, at high levels, can harm people's lungs and damage plants.

In a study published today in the journal Science Advances, the team found an overall increase in ozone levels above the Northern Hemisphere. "That's a big deal because it means that as we try to limit our pollution locally, it might not work as well as we thought," said Audrey Gaudel, a CIRES scientist working in the NOAA Chemical Sciences Laboratory and the study's lead author. She and her colleagues documented the greatest ozone increases in the tropics, Gaudel said, noting that ozone exported from the tropics may be driving increases above other areas of the Northern Hemisphere.


Anthropogenic CO2 increase is unprecedented

News Release 20-Aug-2020
University of Bern

A new measurement technology developed at the University of Bern provides unique insights into the climate of the past. Previous CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere could be reconstructed more accurately than ever before, thanks to high-resolution measurements made on an Antarctic ice core. The study, which analyzed the Earth's atmospheric composition between 330,000 and 450,000 years ago, was made possible by the commitment of experts, and their decades of experience, at the University of Bern. The results of the study have been published in Science.


In 2008, the Bern ice core specialists were able to show that the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere during the last 800,000 years was consistently much lower than today. Since then, the ice core experts have built upon those findings enabling a much more detailed reconstruction of the 330,000 to 450,000 year time window. Until now, the maximum speed and frequency of naturally occurring centennial scale jumps in the CO2 concentration remained unknown. This study shows that abrupt CO2 rises are a pervasive feature of our climate system and that they can even occur during interglacial periods. "Until now, it had been assumed that the climate was very stable during previous interglacial periods and that there were no abrupt changes in the atmospheric CO2 concentration," explains Christoph Nehrbass-Ahles, lead author of the study, who earned a doctorate from the University of Bern and is now based at the University of Cambridge. According to Nehrbass-Ahles, the abrupt rises were always evident when melting ice masses in Greenland or Antarctica considerably disturbed the ocean circulation. If the CO2 in the atmosphere rose quickly, simultaneous changes in the Atlantic Ocean's circulation could also be detected.


"These natural jumps in the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere happened almost ten times slower than the human-driven increase over the last decade," Nehrbass-Ahles emphasizes.


Ocean acidification causing coral 'osteoporosis' on iconic reefs

News Release 27-Aug-2020
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Scientists have long suspected that ocean acidification is affecting corals' ability to build their skeletons, but it has been challenging to isolate its effect from that of simultaneous warming ocean temperatures, which also influence coral growth. New research from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) reveals the distinct impact that ocean acidification is having on coral growth on some of the world's iconic reefs.

In a paper published Aug. 27, 2020, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers show a significant reduction in the density of coral skeleton along much of the Great Barrier Reef--the world's largest coral reef system--and also on two reefs in the South China Sea, which they attribute largely to the increasing acidity of the waters surrounding these reefs since 1950.


Psychological profile of Hitler

    David Mikkelson
    Published 25 August 2020

During World War II, William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS), commissioned a psychoanalytic report of Hitler that was prepared by psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer in collaboration with other psychologists and submitted to the OSS in late 1943 or early 1944.

Titled “A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler: His Life and Legend,” the 165-page document, which was initially classified “Secret,” was declassified in 1968 and published in book form in 1972. The passage quoted above appears on page 38 in Part III (“Hitler — As His Associates Know Him”) of the report:


His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.


Saturday, August 29, 2020

FEMA Spends More Preparing for Terrorism Than Hurricanes

By Leslie Kaufman
August 27, 2020, 5:00 AM EDT

In the days and hours before Hurricane Laura reached the Gulf Coast, emergency personnel took up positions in Texas and Louisiana and readied half a million meals and 800,000 liters of water. It’s the role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate the immediate response to storms, floods and wildfires, all of which have become more common as a result of global warming. But even though  scientists have warned of increasingly extreme weather, preparation for climate-related disasters hasn’t been FEMA’s top spending priority.

An analysis of preparedness grants disbursed by FEMA shows the agency spends far more on counter-terror than natural disasters. In 2019, for example, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found more than $1 billion in FEMA grants assigned to counter-terror preparation and only $315 million in readiness for natural disasters. 


The Fires May be in California, but the Smoke, and its Health Effects, Travel Across the Country

By Michael Kodas
Evelyn Nieves
Aug 27, 2020

Record setting conflagrations in California and Colorado have smothered residents of the two states with choking, stinging smoke. But the impact of that smoke is also being felt hundreds, even thousands, of miles away, and the health impacts may last for years after the flames subside.

If the current fire weather trends continue, said Pete Lahm, a smoke specialist for the U.S. Forest Service, "it's gonna be a hellacious level of smoke out there for a lot of people."

Smoke from the current fires has blanketed much of the United States, spreading all the way to the East Coast, although not always falling to the ground level where people can inhale it. Colorado has four large wildfires of its own burning, including one on the verge of becoming the state's largest in history. But much of the smoke around Denver last weekend was from the fires in California, said Colorado state air quality meteorologist Scott Landes.

"I would say at minimum 50 percent of the smoke that we've had in the Denver area has come from the California wildfires," he said.

Doctors have long warned that the smoke from wildfires can damage the hearts and lungs of people who are near the flames. But they are increasingly learning that such emissions may damage livers and kidneys, hobble immune systems and even prompt genetic changes that could be passed down through generations. And with climate change continuing to drive steep increases in the amount of land burning around the planet, millions more people are expected to endure smoke-related illnesses in coming years.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather,

Violent Protests Backfire

This seems obvious to me.  I don't understand why anybody with an IQ higher than a peanut would not expect this.

Of course, there will be anti-social people who use protests as an excuse for looting and law-breaking, in some cases exactly in order to turn opinion against the protests,  but for those who support the protestors to excuse the violence is both immoral and counterproductive.

Brent Simpson, Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg
First Published October 11, 2018 Research Article


Existing research generally finds that violence by protesters reduces public support for the protesters and can even erode support for the causes they support. Drawing on a large data set of more than 300 resistance campaigns against political regimes and foreign occupiers, Stephan and Chenoweth (2008) found that nonviolent movements were more effective at winning domestic and international support and at winning loyalty shifts within a regime’s security forces. Other studies have shown that public support for a movement wanes when it uses violent tactics, and that violence damages the perceived legitimacy of groups (Wang and Piazza 2016). For instance, one recent analysis found that in the 1960s, regions featuring nonviolent protests by black civil rights activists saw increased Democratic voting by whites, whereas regions where violent civil rights protests occurred saw decreased Democratic vote share among whites (Wasow 2017). Indeed, Wasow’s analysis suggests that backlash to violent civil rights protests could have been sufficient to tip the 1968 election in Richard Nixon’s favor.


Illinois COVID-19: IL reports 1,880 new coronavirus cases, 11 deaths as IL surpasses 8,000 deaths

By Jessica D'Onofrio and John Garcia
Saturday, August 29, 2020 1:48PM

On Saturday, state health officials announced that a total of 8,008 people in Illinois have died after contracting COVID-19.

"Today is a solemn day in Illinois as we've now lost 8,000 lives to COVID-19," said Governor JB Pritzker in a statement Saturday. "As we mourn the family, friends and neighbors who have been taken too soon, let's do our part to prevent more senseless tragedy. Wear a mask. Watch your distance. Wash your hands. Every action counts."

Illinois health officials reported 1,880 new coronavirus cases and 11 additional deaths Saturday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health now reports a total of 231,363 cases and 8,008 deaths in 102 counties in the state.


123 coronavirus cases now linked to indoor wedding reception in Maine

 By Sophie Lewis
August 29, 2020 / 10:13 AM

An indoor wedding and reception in Maine earlier this month has been linked to at least 123 coronavirus cases. The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) said the wedding has led to COVID-19 outbreaks at both a jail and a nursing home.

The Maine CDC confirmed to CBS News on Saturday that the number of positive cases associated with the event has again climbed, to 123.

The number of cases at York County Jail in Alfred has risen by 36 since Thursday, for a total of 54 cases — 35 inmates and 19 staff. The number of cases at Maple Crest Rehabilitation Center remains nine. 

123 coronavirus cases now linked to indoor wedding reception in Maine

By Sophie Lewis

August 29, 2020 / 10:13 AM / CBS News

An indoor wedding and reception in Maine earlier this month has been linked to at least 123 coronavirus cases. The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) said the wedding has led to COVID-19 outbreaks at both a jail and a nursing home.

The Maine CDC confirmed to CBS News on Saturday that the number of positive cases associated with the event has again climbed, to 123.

The number of cases at York County Jail in Alfred has risen by 36 since Thursday, for a total of 54 cases — 35 inmates and 19 staff. The number of cases at Maple Crest Rehabilitation Center remains nine.
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The wedding has been linked to one death last week from the virus.


Women march through Belarusian capital calling for Lukashenko to step down


Aug. 29, 2020  6:04pm  Just heard on the radio that Belarus has stripped press credentials from reporters who have reported on the protests, meaning they can no longer legally report on them.

Several thousand women marched in the capital of Belarus on Saturday waving flags, flowers and balloons in the latest in a series of anti-government protests that have gripped the country since a disputed presidential election this month.


IRS guidelines put employers on the hook for Trump’s payroll tax break


It's obvious the Trump administration wants taxpayers to blame their employers when they have to pay back the postponed taxes, and not Trump.

Darla Mercado, CFP®

Published Fri, Aug 28 20207:53 PM EDT  Updated Aug. 29, 2020

The IRS issued long-awaited guidance on President Donald Trump’s payroll tax deferral Friday night. And it appears to put the onus on employers to collect any taxes due after the holiday ends.

The president signed an executive order on Aug. 8 calling for a deferral of the employees’ portion of the payroll tax from Sept. 1 through the end of the year. [A deferral is a postponement, meaning it will still have to paid in the future.]

Currently, employers and employees share responsibility for a 12.4% levy that funds Social Security and a 2.9% tax to support Medicare.


The three-page notice the IRS issued on Friday postpones the due date for these taxes until April 30, 2021. After that date, penalties, interest and “additions to tax” will begin to accrue.

Employers – dubbed the “affected taxpayers” in the guidance – “may make arrangements to otherwise collect the total applicable taxes from the employee,” the IRS said in its guidance on Friday.

Since there is no guarantee that the employee’s share of deferred taxes will be forgiven, employers may not want that responsibility, tax professionals said.

“To me, this says you’re telling the employer not to withhold the money, put themselves on the hook and then make ‘some arrangement’ to get the money back – or trust us that we’ll go and forgive it for you,” said Adam Markowitz, enrolled agent at Howard L Markowitz PA CPA in Leesburg, Florida.


The new guidance from the IRS raises further questions on how the taxman will ultimately get its share of deferred payroll taxes – and the steps employers will have to take to “make arrangements” with workers to collect the money.

“What if the employer hangs onto the taxes in a bank account and the employee leaves? What do we do with the money?” asked Dan Herron, CPA and principal of Elemental Wealth Advisors in San Luis Obispo, California.

“Do we give the money to the employee and tell them to figure out how to report it on their Form 1040?” he asked. “It’s a compliance nightmare.”

Fact Check: Trump's Address To The Republican Convention, Annotated

August 27, 20209:30 PM ET


NPR reporters provided fact checks and analysis of Trump's remarks live. Read the annotations below.


Before the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. unemployment rate was just 3.5% — as low as it had been in half a century. But economic growth fell short of what President Trump and his advisers promised. The economy grew 2.2% last year, roughly on par with the pace over the past decade. Growth briefly hit Trump’s 3% target in 2018, following passage of the Republican tax cut. But that now appears to have been a short-lived “sugar high.” While supporters of the tax cut said it would encourage more business investment and spark a decade of sustained 3% annual growth, business investment actually slumped for most of last year. That was partly a result of sagging global demand as well as uncertainty stemming from the president’s trade war.


Intelligence office to scale back election security briefings to Congreesional intel committees

They don't want the public to know how Russia is trying to interfere in our election, so they classify it, instead of doing what they should and letting the public know about it.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is scaling back its election security briefings to Congress, according to two sources familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by POLITICO.

ODNI told the House and Senate intelligence committees that it will still provide written briefings, but that they should not expect verbal, in-person briefings on the topic, according to a congressional official and letters dated Aug. 28 that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe sent to top members of Congress. Ratcliffe indicated in those letters that leaks from Congress were the reason for ending in-person briefings.

ODNI officials were particularly angry about a leak from an all-House classified briefing led by top counterintelligence official Bill Evanina late last month, where Pelosi accused him of keeping Americans in the dark about the details of Russia’s continued interference in the 2020 campaign.

Evanina ultimately acknowledged in that briefing that Russia is again trying to boost President Donald Trump’s reelection and denigrate his opponent, Joe Biden. In a statement at the time, an ODNI official said Evanina was “incredibly disappointed in the inability of some to protect classified information they are legally obligated to safeguard and instead attempt to use it for partisan gain.”


Invisible workers: Prison fire crews save lives while incarcerated then left to fend for themselves once released

Please read the whole article at the following link:

Yahoo News Video•August 28, 2020

There are currently more than 14,000 firefighters struggling to battle roughly 7,000 blazes in California, many working 24-hour shifts. Among those pushed to the limit, as this year’s fire season in California burns an area now the size of the state of Delaware, are approximately 3,100 inmates trained as wildland firefighters.


MICHAEL THOMAS: When there wasn't a fire, we was probably getting a dollar a day. When there was a fire, we was getting $2 a day. It was bad, too. Like, food-- we would be out on these fires weeks at a time, months. Sometimes we wouldn't even come back to the prison for months. We were spending all our energy and time. And we'd come back exhausted, and they wouldn't give us a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Something you would give to, like, an elementary school kid when he first gets to school, giving us those little things every single day.


They actually had this program called the Ventura Program, which is a firefighter reentry program. So, you could, you know, leave parole and can go into the fire program and actually become, like, a-- a real firefighter with these guys. But there's so many, like, loopholes you have to do.

I did my application, and when I got out-- because you do the application 90 days before you go home. I did-- I made sure I was on top of everything. I got home, and these guys asked me, oh, did I turn in the application? I'm like, here's the start of their bull crap again. So I just kind of just felt unmotivated after that, and I didn't want to pursue it no more.


FRANCIS LOPEZ: If you're a felon, you can't apply to be a city firefighter at all. And-- and then for me, like, I came home to a daughter, so I just had to get back right away. And-- and with that being said, it's-- it's hard because, I mean, I told her, I said, I'll do it definitely. I had no problem with it. I really liked the work, and I was actually really, really good at what I did.

But it's just like, there are no resources, and I feel like the least they could do is at least set up people with interviews. You know, we went through this program. We did all of this for communities. I mean, they're thanking us for being heroes and all of this. But when we get out, it's just we're the felons. And that's kind of what it always is.

Children with no COVID-19 symptoms may shed virus for weeks

News Release 28-Aug-2020
Children's National Hospital

New research suggests that children can shed SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, even if they never develop symptoms or for long after symptoms have cleared.


The study's findings show that the duration of symptoms varied widely, from three days to nearly three weeks. There was also a significant spread in how long children continued to shed virus and could be potentially infectious. While the virus was detectable for an average of about two-and-a-half weeks in the entire group, a significant portion of the children -- about a fifth of the asymptomatic patients and about half of the symptomatic ones -- were still shedding virus at the three week mark.


How to treat high blood pressure without ruining your sex life

News Release 28-Aug-2020
European Society of Cardiology

Men with untreated high blood pressure have poorer penile blood flow than those with normal blood pressure, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2020.1 The differences disappeared with blood pressure medication. The results provide reassurance to men concerned about the effects of blood pressure-lowering medications.


Vaccines against respiratory infections linked with less heart failure deaths

News Release 28-Aug-2020
European Society of Cardiology

 Influenza and pneumonia vaccinations are associated with fewer hospital deaths in patients with heart failure. That's the result of a study in nearly 3 million Americans released today at ESC Congress 2020.1


A coffee and catnap keep you sharp on the nightshift

News Release 28-Aug-2020
University of South Australia

A simple coffee and a quick catnap could be the cure for staying alert on the nightshift as new research from the University of South Australia shows that this unlikely combination can improve attention and reduce sleep inertia.


"Many workers nap during a night shift because they get so tired. But the downside is that they can experience 'sleep inertia' - that grogginess you have just after you wake up - and this can impair their performance and mood for up to an hour after their nap.

"Caffeine is also used by many people to stay awake and alert. But again, if you have too much coffee it can harm your overall sleep and health. And, if you use it to perk you up after a nap, it can take a good 20-30 minutes to kick in, so there's a significant time delay before you feel the desired effect.

"A 'caffeine-nap' (or 'caff-nap') could be a viable alternative - by drinking a coffee before taking a nap, shiftworkers can gain the benefits of a 20-30-minute nap then the perk of the caffeine when they wake. It's a win-win."


Maternal insecticide use during pregnancy and neonatal jaundice

News Release 28-Aug-2020
Shinshu University

The data of 61,751 pregnant women, out of approximately 100,000 collected by the Japan Environment and Children's Study analyzed the association between the maternal usage of insecticides and insect repellents during pregnancy and neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. The Koshin Unit Center at Shinshu University played a central role in this analysis. Newborns appear jaundiced, or appear to have yellow skin and sclera of the eyes when bilirubin in the blood becomes too high. When bilirubin builds up in the brain and is left untreated, neurotoxic damage can occur in newborns. Phototherapy is most often used to treat neonatal hyperbilirubinemia.

This study found that frequent use of insecticide spray indoors resulted in 1.21 times higher incidence of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia requiring phototherapy. On the other hand, when a spray or lotion-type insect repellent was used frequently, the incidence was 0.70 times lower. No correlation was observed between neonatal hyperbilirubinemia requiring treatment regarding the use of insect repellents for clothing, mosquito coils, electric mosquito repellents, pesticides and pesticides for gardening.


Infants in households with very low food security may have greater obesity risk

News Release 28-Aug-2020
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Infants from households reporting very low "food security," a measure of access to adequate and healthy meals, tend to weigh more than those from households with relatively high food security, suggests a new study led by a researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 


The reasons for the association between food insecurity and higher obesity risk are not yet understood but may be related to poor nutrition and overfeeding. The results suggest that household food insecurity may be especially hazardous for infants, given that diet and weight gain in infancy are thought to have a potentially large impact on the future risks of obesity and related health conditions.


Most of the infants (68.6 percent) were African American, 14.9 percent were white, and 55.4 percent of the households reported annual incomes below $20,000. Benjamin-Neelon and her colleagues visited the homes of the infants when they were 3, 6, 9, and 12 months old, and interviewed the mothers by phone an additional eight times over the year.

"The findings are especially relevant today when there is such widespread food insecurity in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 crisis," says Benjamin-Neelon, PhD, JD, who also directs the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at the Bloomberg School.


"One possible explanation for this link is that food insecurity is associated with lower quality diets that promote obesity, although infants, especially in the first six months of life, should be consuming limited foods-mainly just human breastmilk or infant formula," Benjamin-Neelon says. "Another possibility may be related to infant feeding practices. Mothers wanting to make sure their infants are fed enough could be overfeeding or feeding in a way that overrides infant fullness cues like propping a bottle or encouraging infants to finish the bottle."

Benjamin-Neelon and colleagues found, to their surprise, that mothers' participation in either of two federal food assistance programs, WIC and SNAP, did not modify the apparent links between food insecurity and being overweight.


Study finds that sleep restriction amplifies anger

News Release 28-Aug-2020
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Feeling angry these days? New research suggests that a good night of sleep may be just what you need.


The experiment found that well-slept individuals adapted to noise and reported less anger after two days. In contrast, sleep-restricted individuals exhibited higher and increased anger in response to aversive noise, suggesting that losing sleep undermined emotional adaptation to frustrating circumstance. Subjective sleepiness accounted for most of the experimental effect of sleep loss on anger. A related experiment in which individuals reported anger following an online competitive game found similar results.


What Trump's really campaigning for: More time to stuff your money into his own pockets

Ryan Cooper
,The Week•August 27, 2020

President Trump has been stuffing his pockets with taxpayer cash. According to the Washington Post, which obtained payment receipts with a public records request, "taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office." More than half of that total is due to presidential travel expenses — but their figure is by no means a comprehensive total. It will take a major investigation to figure out just how much Trump has profited personally off the presidency.

All of it is an egregious violation of the Constitution. Article II, Section 1, states that while he is in office, the president "shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them." An emolument is any kind of payment or gift. The obvious intention is to prevent the president from abusing his authority to enrich himself — it's democratic republic 101 stuff.


Room rentals, resort fees and furniture removal: How Trump’s company charged the U.S. government more than $900,000

 By David A. Fahrenthold,
Josh Dawsey and
Joshua Partlow
August 27, 2020 at 4:51 p.m. EDT


Trump has now visited his own properties 271 times as president, according to a Washington Post tally — including a visit Thursday, when he met with GOP donors at his D.C. hotel.

Through these trips, Trump has brought the Trump Organization a stream of private revenue from federal agencies and GOP campaign groups. Federal spending records show that taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office. At least $570,000 came as a result of the president’s travel, according to a Post analysis.

Now, new federal spending documents obtained by The Post via a public-records lawsuit give more detail about how the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service — a kind of captive customer, required to follow Trump everywhere. In addition to the rentals at Mar-a-Lago, the documents show that the Trump Organization charged daily “resort fees” to Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Pence in Las Vegas and in another instance asked agents to pay a $1,300 “furniture removal charge” during a presidential visit to a Trump resort in Scotland.

In addition, campaign finance records have provided new details about the payments the Trump Organization received from GOP groups, as a result of the 37 instances in which Trump headlined a political event at one of his properties. Those visits have brought the company at least $3.8 million in fees, according to a Post analysis of campaign spending records.


He tried to award the massive Group of Seven summit to his Doral resort in Miami, dropping the idea after a public backlash. He filmed video messages for big-spending private clients at Mar-a-Lago. He suggested that Pence visit a Trump property in Ireland, according to the vice president’s chief of staff. Pence then shuttled back and forth across Ireland, at U.S. taxpayer expense, to do government business on one coast and stay at Trump’s hotel on the other.

But the most frequent way Trump is known to have helped his properties has been just to visit them, with the vast, big-spending presidential entourage in tow.


On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump had offered one simple way to underline his separation from his properties: He just wouldn’t visit.

“I may never see these places again,” Trump said during a rally in August 2016. “Because I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf. Believe me.”


“His knee-jerk, every single time, was to do things at his own properties,” said the former Trump administration official. “He never really understood that you couldn’t do it. In his mind, he could never understand that you should do it somewhere else.” Like other officials interviewed for this report, the former official spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal matters.


The newly obtained federal records showed other instances in which the Trump Organization charged the government rates far above what Eric Trump claimed.


In early 2017, for instance, Pence visited Las Vegas to speak to a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering. He stayed one night at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, newly released receipts show. The Secret Service was charged for 151 rooms, at about $102 per room per night — the maximum rate for Las Vegas at the time under normal federal per-diem rules. Secret Service agents are allowed to exceed the limit while on protective duty.

In Las Vegas, the Trump hotel also tacked on $29 per room in “resort fees,” receipts show. That added $4,379 to the bill, for a total of $20,183. The hotel’s website said the fee covered services such as coffee, shoe shines and shuttle service to the shopping mall at the Caesars Palace casino. The Trump Organization did not say why it had charged resort fees to working Secret Service agents.


Trump’s children and grandchildren also visited Trump properties repeatedly, bringing their own taxpayer-funded Secret Service details.


“The Secret Service is always there,” said one former employee at the Trump hotel in Washington. With all the visits by the president, his children and top officials, the former employee said, “it’s like being in the White House — that’s how I felt working there.” The former employee spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve relationships at the hotel.


Trump’s visits as president also brought payments from Republican political groups, which have held fundraisers at his properties, with Trump himself as the headliner. This summer, four such events have been held, three at Trump’s Bedminster club and another at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. The costs of those events have not yet been released.


Trump has also used his taxpayer-funded trips to help customers that hold charity galas or wedding receptions in his business’s ballrooms.

The revenue he has reaped from these visits is harder to measure. Wedding-reception bills, for instance, are not subject to public-records requests. But Trump’s attention to these events underscores how he has discarded his promise to separate his business and his White House.


Friday, August 28, 2020

Twitter forces Ann Coulter to delete tweet fêting alleged Kenosha shooter as ideal president

Roger Sollenberger
,Salon•August 27, 2020

Ann Coulter was at the front of the pack of right-wing provocateurs who fêted a 17-year-old arrested Wednesday on first-degree murder charges for fatally shooting protesters in Kenosha, Wis., tweeting she wanted the teen "as my president."

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to Salon that the platform forced Coulter to delete her tweet for violating its rules about glorifying violence.

"The tweet glorified violence, specifically condoning an act of violence that may be replicable by a civilian," the spokesperson said in an email.

Former San Francisco Giants player Aubrey Huff also lauded the alleged suspect, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson took to his defense in a fiercely criticized segment on his show Wednesday.

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted that Carlson had "justified murder" as calls for the network to fire him accelerated.

Multiple Fox News stars later echoed Carlson's line of argument, however, including commentator Katie Pavlich.


Defenders extended to Congress with Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., calling the shootings "100% justified self defense" on Twitter.


Donald Trump Jr. also swung to Carlson's defense, claiming that his words had been "willfully twisted" while misquoting those words. (Carlson said "authorities"; he did not say "leaders.")


Elon Musk confirmed a Russian national tried to bribe a Tesla employee with $1 million in a bungled ransomware attack

Isobel Asher Hamilton

Aug. 28, 2020

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday confirmed reports that the company was the target of a botched ransomware attack.

Russian national Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov was accused by the US Department of Justice on Tuesday of offering $1 million to an employee at a company in Nevada — identified only as company A — to install malware on the company's systems.

Electrek reported Thursday that the unnamed company was Tesla, which Musk confirmed in a tweet. "This was a serious attack," Musk tweeted.


Second Trump DHS official to turn on president brands him ‘racist’ in new attack ad [The Independent] Louise Hall ,The Independent•August 27, 2020

Louise Hall
,The Independent•August 27, 2020

A second former member of Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security has turned on the president, branding him ”racist” and endorsing Joe Biden.

Elizabeth Neumann, who served in the department until April of this year, indicated the rise of white supremacy and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic as her reasons for turning on the president.


She goes on to attack the president’s actions and language, labelling them racist and accusing them of facilitating the rise of such movements.

“The president’s actions and his language are in fact racist ... those words gave permission to white supremacists to think that what they were doing is permissible,” she says.

Ms Neumann also criticises Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that he prevented officials from preparing for the crisis in an attempt to prioritise the economy and his presidential campaign.

“I’m sorry, Mr President, you were hired to handle America’s worst day,” Ms Neumann says. “And you’ve absolutely failed.”

The former official goes on to say that she will be voting for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in November.

“We are less safe today because of his leadership,” she says of Mr Trump. “We will continue to be less safe under his control.”


Earlier this month, another former employee of the department, Miles Taylor, also came out against the president in his own scathing attack ad for the Republican group.

“What we saw week in and week out, and for me, after two and a half years in that administration, was terrifying,” Mr Taylor, who had served as Department of Homeland Security chief of staff under former secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, said in the video.


Both Mr Taylor and Ms Neumann are part of a group of 73 former US national security officials from across four Republican administrations who have banded together against the president in the run-up to the election.

Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as White House communications director, has also endorsed the Democratic nominee. Former national security chief John Bolton has said he will not be voting for Mr Trump or Mr Biden.

"Dark" Personalities Are More Likely to Signal Victimhood

Rob Henderson

Posted Aug 27, 2020

A new study led by Ekin Ok at the University of British Columbia has found people who signal virtue and victimhood are more likely to have dark triad personality traits.

The dark triad comprises narcissism (entitled self-importance), Machiavellianism (strategic exploitation and duplicity) and psychopathy (callousness and cynicism). People with dark triad traits can be seductive.

A study led by psychologists at the University of Durham found that women rated the same man as more attractive when he had dark triad traits. The dark triad man was about one standard deviation more attractive than an ordinary man.


Another study by researchers Carrie Haslam and V. Tamara Montrose found that although narcissistic males do not make good partners, women aged 18 to 28 desire them more than other men. The researchers asked women about their dating experience and desire for marriage. They wanted to see whether these factors influenced their attraction to narcissistic men.

They found that young women with more dating experience and a greater desire for marriage were more attracted to narcissistic men. They write, “Despite future long-term mating desires which are unlikely to be achieved with a narcissistic male and possession of substantial mate sampling experience, females view the narcissistic male as a suitable partner.”


In their introduction, they acknowledge that being viewed as a victim can lead to a loss of esteem and respect. But, they continue, in modern Western societies being a victim doesn’t always lead to undesirable outcomes. Sometimes, being a victim can increase one’s social status. And justify one’s claim to material resources.

They argue that “contemporary Western democracies have become particularly hospitable environments for victim signalers to execute a strategy of nonreciprocal resource extraction.”

One reason: Strong egalitarian values lead many in the West to believe that any differences in outcomes are illegitimate.


The researchers examine victim signaling, which they define as “a public and intentional expression of one’s disadvantages, suffering, oppression, or personal limitations.” They also examine virtue signaling, defined as “symbolic demonstrations that can lead observers to make favorable inferences about the signaler’s moral character.”

They argue that signaling both victimhood and virtue would maximize one’s ability to extract resources. People feel the most sympathy for a victim who is also a good person.


As the authors note, real victims exist. And they have no intention of deceiving or taking advantage of others.

Still, alongside victims, there are social predators among us. In whatever milieu they find themselves in, they will enact the strategies that maximize the rewards of material resources, sex, or prestige.


Fact checking the liar-in-chief


Aug. 28, 2020

Some fact-checking sources for speakers at the final night of the republican nominating convention


President Trump ended the Republican National Convention with a tidal wave of tall tales, false claims and revisionist history. Here are 23 claims by the president that caught our attention, along with seven claims by speakers earlier in the evening


Fact check: Ivanka Trump says Trump's actions have cut drug prices. But drug prices have gone up.



Terminating payroll tax could end Social Security benefits in 2023, chief actuary warns


By Rebecca Shabad

The federal government’s ability to pay Social Security benefits could stop by mid-2023 if President Donald Trump were to permanently terminate the payroll tax and not offer another revenue source, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration said Monday.

The chief actuary, Stephen Goss, offered the prediction in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats who requested an analysis of what would happen if the payroll tax is eliminated with no other funding stream for Social Security benefits.


If that were to happen in January of next year, the Social Security Administration estimates that the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund “asset reserves would become permanently depleted in about the middle of calendar year 2021, with no ability to pay DI benefits thereafter,” Goss said.


Trump, however, wouldn’t be able to terminate the payroll tax unilaterally. Congress would have to pass legislation for that to happen, and with the makeup of the current Congress, the Democratic-controlled House would block any such proposal. A number of Republicans have also rejected calls for a payroll tax cut in the current Senate.

The president has said legislation to cut payroll taxes would specify that the money comes from the general fund. The SSA letter noted they were asked not to consider that scenario, which would not affect benefits. A measure to pull money from the general fund would be unlikely to pass under a divided Congress.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

They tried to get Trump to care about right-wing terrorism. He ignored them.

08/26/2020 04:30 AM EDT



Neumann was DHS’s assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy at the time, handling counterterrorism work from the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters. In Málaga, a history-drenched resort town on Spain’s Costa del Sol that once marked the fault line between the Muslim and Christian worlds, she and her counterparts from scores of countries spent long hours talking about the terrorism threats that concerned them most. After a while, she began to see a pattern: Though concerns about instability in the Middle East dominated most public discussions on counterterrorism, about 80 percent of the leaders at the conference ranked far-right extremism among their top concerns.


For Neumann, her nightmare scenario of globalized white supremacist terrorism was coming to life. Meanwhile, the U.S. government was doing far too little about its own homegrown extremists — often "lone wolves" radicalized online by white supremacist websites and fueled by hostility toward immigrants and minorities. But White House officials didn’t want to talk about the rising domestic extremist threat or even use the phrase “domestic terrorism.” The administration’s relentless, single-minded focus on immigration enforcement — coupled with nonstop turnover on the National Security Council — constantly pulled senior DHS leadership away from everything else. And her ultimate boss, President Donald Trump, was part of the problem.

This story is based on background and on-record interviews with current and former law enforcement officials, inside and outside DHS. It includes, for the first time, detailed comments from two top former political appointees in the department who tried to tackle the problem before giving up on the Trump administration. Frustrated by the president’s failure to act, they are actively supporting his opponent.

“At least in this [Trump] administration,” Neumann said, “there’s not going to be anything substantive done on domestic terrorism.”


The month after the El Paso and Dayton shootings, on Sept. 20, 2019, acting DHS Secretary McAleenan signed off on a strategic framework on terrorism and targeted violence. Neumann helmed the work drafting the document. McAleenan had previously ordered an immediate review of the department’s domestic terrorism efforts when he became its acting chief, and had tasked its Homeland Security Advisory Council with specifically looking into protecting houses of worship. He recognized domestic terror was a significant emerging threat and that the department needed to shift to respond to it, former DHS official Andrew Meehan said.

“White supremacist violent extremism, one type of racially- and ethnically-motivated violent extremism, is one of the most potent forces driving domestic terrorism,” the McAleenan framework document read.

The new strategic framework also promised that DHS would begin releasing a yearly State of the Homeland Threat Assessment document. Eleven months later, the first such briefing has yet to materialize.


John Cohen, the department’s former counterterrorism coordinator, said DHS could bring tremendous expertise and capabilities to the effort to fight domestic terror.

“The challenge is bringing those resources together in a cohesive, coordinated, and comprehensive way,” he added.

And, he said, the president isn’t making it easy.

“Law enforcement officials are concerned that the political rhetoric used by the president to inspire his political base has been viewed by some violent white supremacists as a call to violent action, and has been viewed by a number of mentally unwell, violence-prone individuals as permission to engage in acts of violence,” he added.


One state law enforcement official, who requested anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the intelligence products DHS sends to its state and local partners emphasize the threat from left-wing extremists significantly more than the threat from right-wing extremists––and disproportionately so. Left-wing extremists have caused numerous problems and hurt police, the state official continued. “But none of them have been killed,” the official said. “But when we look at the far right, we’ve seen numerous attacks where cops have been killed.”

“I would expect at least a balanced production between far left and far right extremists,” the official continued.

The official also said he got much more helpful information on threats from the far right from the Anti-Defamation League than from DHS — particularly its material on Boogaloo, a coterie of extremists trying to incite a race war.

“They only have a handful of analysts at the ADL, and their handful of analysts put together a better product that the entire DHS,” the official said.

Earlier in the Trump administration, DHS’s intelligence arm disbanded a group of analysts focused on domestic terrorism


The Center for Strategic and International Studies — a centrist Washington think tank known for its focus on international affairs and defense technology — released a briefing in June of this year concluding that the most significant terror threat to the U.S. appears to come from white supremacists. Right-wing extremists were responsible for two-thirds of terror attacks and plots in the U.S. last year, it found, and for 90 percent in the first four months of 2020.

Neumann left the department in April. Last week, she endorsed Joe Biden for president. Taylor and Mitnick have endorsed Biden as well.

“The good news is, the people who have been given the charge to protect the country — even the career officials who folks think are the deep state — they passionately care about their jobs and are going to do whatever it takes to protect the country,” she said.

White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says

Sam Levin in Los Angeles
Thu 27 Aug 2020 10.13 EDT

White supremacist groups have infiltrated US law enforcement agencies in every region of the country over the last two decades, according to a new report about the ties between police and far-right vigilante groups.

In a timely new analysis, Michael German, a former FBI special agent who has written extensively on the ways that US law enforcement have failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats, concludes that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content.

The report notes that over the years, police links to militias and white supremacist groups have been uncovered in states including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.


Officers’ racist activities are often known within their departments and generally result in punishment or termination following public scandals, the report notes. Few police agencies have explicit policies against affiliating with white supremacist groups. If police officers are disciplined, the measures often lead to protracted litigation.


There is growing awareness in some parts of the government about the intensifying threat of white supremacy. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have directly identified white supremacists as the most lethal domestic terrorist threat in the country. According to German’s report, the FBI’s own internal documents have directly warned that the militia groups the agency is investigating often have “active links” to law enforcement.

And yet US agencies lack a national strategy to identify white supremacist police and root out this problem, German warned. Meanwhile, popular police reform efforts to address “implicit bias” have done nothing to confront explicit racism.


Four more hand sanitizers recalled as ‘toxic.’ The FDA’s ‘Do Not Use’ list is up to 165

 David J. Neal
,Miami Herald•August 26, 2020


Four more hand sanitizers on the FDA’s Do Not Use list have been recalled, one of them among the additions over the past week that pushed that list count to 165. Most hand sanitizers are on the list because they contain methanol, also known as wood alcohol. As explained by Asiaticon SA de CV in its company-written, FDA-posted recall notice about the products below:

“Methanol has inferior antiseptic properties compared to ethanol. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.

“Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning.”







Florida man cleared after 37 years in jail for rape and murder as new DNA evidence comes to light

If he had been executed, his case would never had been re-investigated, and we would have unknowingly executed/murdered an innocent man.

Matt Mathers
,The Independent•August 27, 2020

A man who has spent 37 years in a Florida jail has been cleared after new DNA evidence found him not guilty of rape and murder, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren announced on Wednesday.

Mr Warren told a press conference that his conviction review unit has determined that Robert DuBoise, 55, did not commit the 1983 murder and rape of 19-year-old Barbara Grams, who was attacked while walking home from her restaurant job in Tampa.


DuBoise’s exoneration came after Mr Warren’s office partnered with the New York-based Innocence Project, an organisation that works to free people that have been wrongly imprisoned, and which flagged up the case last September.

Experts working on DuBoise’s case unearthed new DNA evidence following an 11-month investigation. They uncovered a rape kit stored at the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office this year after all evidence was thought to have been destroyed.

Test results from that rape kit found that Mr Duboise and two other people implicated by a jailhouse informant were not involved. Mr Warren said that the DNA did match, two other people, including one of whom is now a person of interest in the investigation.


The jury recommended that DuBoise be sent to death row. An appeals court later reduced the sentence to life imprisonment.

Ex-postal worker destroyed immigration papers thought to be ‘lost’ in mail, feds say

Don Sweeney
,Miami Herald•August 26, 2020

In 2018, panicked residents began calling Elko Hispanic Services in Nevada about green cards, work permits, and other urgent immigration paperwork that never arrived in their mailboxes.

Eloisa Mendoza, who runs the office, heard from at least 60 people in her community, but suspects hundreds more may have been affected, The Nevada Independent reported.

It turns out the missing paperwork, which cost jobs, canceled trips and created other havoc, wasn’t just lost in the mail — it had been purposely destroyed or discarded, federal charges say.

Diana Molyneux, 77, who has since lost her job at a Salt Lake City postal facility, was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2019 on two counts of destroying or delaying mail, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Molyneux has pleaded not guilty to the charges, each of which carry a penalty of up to five years in prison, said defense attorney Wendy Lewis, according to the publication. An April court date was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.


republican video showing violence in 'Biden's America' is actually Barcelona

Graig Graziosi
,The Independent•August 27, 2020

The Republican National Convention aired a video meant to paint the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter demonstrations as inherently violent, chaotic events, but included a scene from protests in Barcelona, Spain.

A public broadcaster in Catalonia reported that the images in question - of fires burning in the streets - were captured in 2019 in Barcelona. The protests in Spain began after a Spanish court sentenced Catalan separatists to prison.

A pair of sisters provides a voice over for the video, offering a dire warning for viewers that "this is a taste of Biden's America" as images of protests play.


While the voices warn that the images are a look at life under Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, they are in fact - with the exception of the image from Barcelona - a look at conditions in the US under Donald Trump.

Buzzfeed News independently verified that the questionable image was actually from Barcelona.

The news organisation found identical video footage on Shutterstock, which is a common source for stock images and videos.


While looting, arson and violence has happened in isolated incidents at some recent protests, law enforcement agencies have found that in several instances, the destructive behaviour was actually carried out by white supremacists masquerading as protesters.

The most well-known of these white supremacist-as-provocateur incidents occurred in Minneapolis when, several days into the George Floyd protests, a man carrying an umbrella was filmed casually smashing the windows at an auto-parts store.

Eventually Minneapolis police identified him as a member of a white supremacist group that sought to "incite violence" at the protests.

Between white supremacist infiltrators, "boogaloo boys" looking to bring about the next civil war, and armed ring wing gangs cosplaying as soldiers, there are numerous entities attending protests that wish to see the message behind the demonstrations undermined.


Spouses shed more pounds together than alone

News Release 27-Aug-2020
Spouses shed more pounds together than alone

European Society of Cardiology

Weight loss is most successful in heart attack survivors when partners join in the effort to diet, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2020.1

"Lifestyle improvement after a heart attack is a crucial part of preventing repeat events," said study author Ms. Lotte Verweij, a registered nurse and PhD student, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands. "Our study shows that when spouses join the effort to change habits, patients have a better chance of becoming healthier - particularly when it comes to losing weight."


American Academy of Sleep Medicine calls for elimination of daylight saving time

News Release 27-Aug-2020
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Public health and safety would benefit from eliminating daylight saving time, according to a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

The AASM supports a switch to permanent standard time, explaining in the statement that standard time more closely aligns with the daily rhythms of the body's internal clock. The position statement also cites evidence of increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, cardiovascular events, and mood disturbances following the annual "spring forward" to daylight saving time.

"Permanent, year-round standard time is the best choice to most closely match our circadian sleep-wake cycle," said lead author Dr. M. Adeel Rishi, a pulmonology, sleep medicine and critical care specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and vice chair of the AASM Public Safety Committee. "Daylight saving time results in more darkness in the morning and more light in the evening, disrupting the body's natural rhythm."


Medical errors increase following the spring change to daylight saving time

News Release 27-Aug-2020
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

 Seeking medical care after springing forward to daylight saving time could be a risky proposition. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found a statistically significant increase in adverse medical events that might be related to human error in the week after the annual time change in the spring.


Ex-McCain, Bush and Romney staffers endorse Biden, joining Republicans bucking Trump

 By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
August 27, 2020 / 1:26 PM

Republican aides who worked in the George W. Bush administration and for the late Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney vouched their support for 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Thursday, joining other GOP officials in rejecting President Trump's reelection campaign on the final day of the Republican National Convention.


"Given the incumbent president's lack of competent leadership, his efforts to aggravate rather than bridge divisions among Americans, and his failure to uphold American values, we believe the election of former Vice President Biden is clearly in the national interest," more than 100 former McCain staffers wrote in a public letter.

Romney's former staffers were more forceful in their rebuke of Mr. Trump, saying that while some of them voted for him in 2016, they are all now worried about the GOP transforming into a "toxic personality cult" under the president's leadership. Romney himself has frequently crossed the White House since arriving in the Senate, and was the only GOP senator to vote to convict Mr. Trump in his impeachment trial.


The group of Bush administration alumni, led by former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, focused on Biden's values and decency, implicitly criticizing Mr. Trump's conduct while in office, including his support of conspiracy theories and use of racist, sexist and divisive language.

"Joe's kindness is sorely needed right now. He famously treats the train operator with the same dignity as his fellow senators. As former public servants, we believe that decency in government must not be allowed to die on the vine," 230 Bush alumni wrote in their letter. "We must take a stand and insist that it returns to the Office of the President."

The former Bush, Romney and McCain staffers join a growing list of Republican officials who have publicly come out against their party's nominee for president in 2020. Several high-profile Republican politicians, like former Ohio Governor John Kasich, have endorsed Biden, who has also received the backing of officials who worked in the Trump administration, including former Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor.

Fact check: Melania Trump did not remove cherry trees, historic roses from Rose Garden

Anyway, republicans have as much right to decide what to plant at the White House as Democrats. It's not like they replaced the plants with a parking lot. This hullaboo is just silly tribalism.

 Camille Caldera
Aug. 26, 2020

  Posts on Facebook this week allege that first lady Melania Trump removed notable plants from the White House Rose Garden in her recent renovation, which came ahead of her speech at the Republican National Convention.


It's true that Jackie Kennedy oversaw the last major renovation of the Rose Garden, completed by designer Bunny Mellon in 1962.

The recent renovation was intended to "return it to its original ‘62 footprint," per an announcement from the White House in July.

The flowering trees visible in photos of the Rose Garden before the renovation were actually crabapple trees, not cherry trees, per the White House Historical Association. They also weren't "chopped down."

The crabapple trees have not been permanently removed from the White House. The 10 trees will be replanted elsewhere on the grounds after they are cared for offsite, per the Associated Press and C-SPAN.

Removal of some or all of the crabapple trees was first discussed in the 1980s by Mellon and first lady Nancy Regan, since the trees "had grown too large, shading out the plants below," per the White House Rose Garden Landscape Report.

The renovation also did not remove century-old roses.

 It's true that the first Rose Garden was planted by first lady Ellen Willson in 1913. But there's no reason to believe that any of the plants from her garden, or those of other first ladies, were still alive prior to this renovation.

Marta McDowell, a landscape historian, told PolitiFact that roses are "fussy."

"They don’t last forever — plants are living things — and so sometimes they do need to be replaced," she said. "Most of these were long gone by the time the Trumps moved in."

Adrian Higgins, the gardening columnist for the Washington Post, also wrote in July that "the die-off of rose bushes to the point where only a dozen or so remained" was one of the numerous issues that was going to be addressed by the renovation. 


Our rating: False

Based on our research, claims that first lady Melania Trump removed historic cherry trees and roses in her recent renovation of the White House's Rose Garden are FALSE. The trees that were relocated were crabapple trees, and roses from previous gardens had likely already died or been replaced before the renovation.


China’s Summer of Floods is a Preview of Climate Disasters to Come

By Lili Pike
Aug 17, 2020


Similar scenes of devastation have played out across China, particularly in the central Yangtze River Basin, over the last two months as the summer monsoon has unleashed record rains and floods. Millions of lives have been upended this summer, but climate experts warn that China will face more frequent severe floods as the global temperature rises, driving up the number of intense rainstorms in the country.


China shares this fate with many nations: 70 percent of the world's population is expected to experience greatly increased river flooding if global warming goes unchecked. This summer alone, flooding along the Brahmaputra river has displaced about 3 million people in India, and one quarter of Bangladesh is underwater. Lower-income countries like India will have a higher mortality rate from flooding compared to China, according to a 2018 study, but China will also be greatly impacted.

Researchers project that, in terms of damage and the number of people impacted, China is the country most vulnerable to flooding if the temperature rises 4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, roughly the warming projected for the end of the century if action isn't taken to curb global warming. 


China has dealt with flooding throughout its history, but climate change is upping the threat level. As temperatures rise, extreme rainfall will increase and floods will become more frequent in central and eastern China. Using climate models, researchers project that the historical 1-in-100 year high river flow will happen once every 50 to 60 years if the global temperature rises 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius is the goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Once the temperature is elevated by 2 degrees, that extreme river flow will happen once every 25 to 35 years in China, according to the 2018 study published in Environmental Research Letters.

"Reaching 1.5 degrees already brings major repercussions in terms of high flows," said Homero Paltan, a research associate at Oxford University who co-authored the study.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather,