Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sea level: Greenland ice loss worst in 12,000 years

Sept. 30, 2020

Ice loss from Greenland's massive ice sheet will cause sea levels to rise more during the 21st century than they have during any 100-year period in the last 12,000 years, even if global warming is held in check, scientists said Wednesday.


But even in the short term, increases in sea level measured in tens of centimetres will devastate coastal communities around the world.

Areas currently home to 300 million people -- mostly in poorer nations -- will be vulnerable by 2050 to regular flooding from storm surges, earlier research has shown.


Until 2000, the main driver of sea level rise was melting glaciers and the expansion of ocean water as it warms.

But over the last two decades, the world's ice sheets atop Greenland and Antarctica have become the single largest source of sea level rise.


U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly

By Richard Wike, Janell Fetterolf and Mara Mordecai

September 15, 2020

Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe. As a new 13-nation Pew Research Center survey illustrates, America’s reputation has declined further over the past year among many key allies and partners. In several countries, the share of the public with a favorable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago.


Part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the U.S. had handled the coronavirus pandemic. Across the 13 nations surveyed, a median of just 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most say the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis (the U.S. and UK are notable exceptions). Relatively few think China has handled the pandemic well, although it still receives considerably better reviews than the U.S. response.


Ratings for U.S. President Donald Trump have been low in these nations throughout his presidency, and that trend continues this year. Trump’s most negative assessment is in Belgium, where only 9% say they have confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs. His highest rating is in Japan; still, just one-quarter of Japanese express confidence in Trump.

Attitudes toward Trump have consistently been much more negative than those toward his predecessor, Barack Obama, especially in Western Europe. In the UK, Spain, France and Germany, ratings for Trump are similar to those received by George W. Bush near the end of his presidency.


The publics surveyed also see Trump more negatively than other world leaders. Among the six leaders included on the survey, Angela Merkel receives the highest marks: A median of 76% across the nations polled have confidence in the German chancellor. French President Emmanuel Macron also gets largely favorable reviews. Ratings for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are roughly split. Ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are overwhelmingly negative, although not as negative as those for Trump.


These are among the major findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 13,273 respondents in 13 countries – not including the U.S. – from June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020.


Debates commission plans to cut off mics if Trump or Biden break rules

The first debate allowed people to see the kind of person Trump is.

 By Melissa Quinn, Norah O'Donnell
Updated on: September 30, 2020 / 6:56 PM

The commission that oversees the general election presidential debates said Wednesday it will be making changes to the format of the remaining two debates. One key change it plans to implement: Cutting off the microphones of President Trump and Joe Biden if they break the rules, according to a source familiar with the commission's deliberations. The plans have not been finalized and the commission is still considering how it would carry out the plan.


Presidential debate

Sept. 30, 2020

Someone on the radio said Trump "took control" of the "debate". Yeah, in the same way the Mafia or ISIS takes control of things. That does not make it something to be admired. Unfortunately, those with a cruel streak who enjoy seeing people hurt will admire him, but they do already. I think the "debate" was a good thing, because it allowed decent people who didn't already understand the kind of person Trump is to see it.

Sept. 29, 2020

Saw a Trumpist on someone's Facebook denying that Trump said   "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by."  Of course, people listening know he did say this.  Here is a clip of that.  Of course, it probably won't make any difference to a Trumpist, they'll ignore it, will put it out of their mind very quickly if they can't find an excuse for why it's ok.


When the BBC interviewed spokesperson for a republican group about the debate, he came out and said there was too much interrupting, and that Trump did most of it.

Saw this comment on Facebook:
I am a Dutch resident and watching this was very disturbing. Donald Trump is really a disgrace for your country. Do yourself a big favor a vote him out!!

 The debate went as anybody who has paid attention to Trump would expect.  With Trump massively lying and interrupting both Biden and the moderator.  Commentators are talking about both men interrupting, but what Biden did was very little compared with Trump.  And when Biden did it, it was to correct blatant lies from Trump, whereas Trump interrupted in order to lie.


I'm glad that the moderator did bring up the issue of climate disruption, which many of us wanted to see included in the debates.


Maybe the most outrageous claim of Trump's was that Obama chose not to fill a bunch of federal court judgeships, when the truth is that the republican Congress massively block Obama's choices for the purpose of keeping them open until they could be filled by a republican president.

In the primary debates, the moderators who were from the media avoided the problem of global warming almost entirely, cutting in and changing the subject when a candidate tried to discuss it. And now Chris Wallace, from Fox, has not included it in the debate subjects for tonight's debate. The topic was allowed to be covered more than in a few sentences on the one time when the moderator was not from the media. If I remember right, they were from a university. It is concerning that all the moderators for the presidential debates between Biden & Trump are from the media, which is beholding to it's owners and advertisers.

Sep 2, 2020

First presidential debate:

Chris Wallace, Anchor, Fox News Sunday
Tuesday, September 29, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH

The debate will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate.

The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.


September 28, 20205:12 AM ET
Barbara Sprunt

President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will debate each other for the first time Tuesday evening, in the first of three presidential debates.

Here are the details:

When? Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 9 to 10:30 p.m. ET. (You can listen to the debate on NPR, and we'll have a livestream video online.)

Where? Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (The University of Notre Dame was originally supposed to host but cited the coronavirus pandemic in withdrawing.)

Who's moderating? Chris Wallace, anchor, Fox News Sunday 

What are the topics going to be? Wallace selected the following topics:

    Trump's and Biden's records
    the Supreme Court
    the economy
    race and violence in U.S. cities
    the integrity of the election

What's the format? The debate will consist of six segments to address the topics above, with each segment getting approximately 15 minutes.

Each candidate will have two minutes to respond to the opening question in each segment. Candidates will get a chance to respond to each other as well.



The Times will livestream the event, accompanied by analysis and fact-checking from our reporters. The debate will also be carried on channels including ABC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox News, MSNBC and NBC.

[NPR and PBS will also livestream the debates.]



Historians and election experts warn Trump is behaving like Mussolini and despots that the US usually condemns

John Haltiwanger
Sep 25, 2020, 5:38 PM

President Donald Trump is refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, threatening to shatter a tradition that lies at the heart of the democratic process in the US. There are serious concerns among scholars that Trump is putting America's democracy in mortal danger.

Combined with Trump's relentless disinformation campaign, celebration of violence against journalists, and incitement of armed militias, historians and election experts warn that the president is mirroring the behavior of despots that the US generally leads the way in condemning before the world.

"I've been an election observer in broken authoritarian countries, and let me tell you: Trump's behavior would be swiftly and unequivocally condemned by all international election monitors if it was happening elsewhere. He is behaving like the despots past presidents condemned," Brian Klaas, a political scientist at the University College London, tweeted on Friday.

When asked whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power earlier this week, Trump suggested ballots would be thrown away.


MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday asked historian Michael Beschloss if he could provide another example of a US president suggesting an election "ought to be disregarded."

"You want to go into history to look for something like this? Go into Italian history and look at Mussolini. This is the way dictators come to power," Beschloss said in response, comparing Trump to the fascist Italian leader Benito Mussolini.

"[Trump is] telling you what he intends to do. And we've got to make very sure that in the next five and half weeks and after, that we do not get into a situation where...Donald Trump announces that he's won and puts us in a situation where our democracy is being stolen minute by minute. This is not a drill," Beschloss added.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University historian who's written extensively on Mussolini, agrees with Beschloss that Trump's behavior mirrors that of the Italian fascist dictator. She noted that Mussolini was not immediately a dictator, but gradually consolidated power.

"The clearest parallel is that Mussolini was prime minister of a democratic coalition government from 1922-1925. During that time, he slowly chipped away at democratic institutions, insulting the press, using violence against the left, joking that he would be in office for 20 years, establishing a militia and a legislative body (the Grand Council) loyal to him," Ben-Ghiat told Insider. 


David I. Kertzer, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Pope and Mussolini," told Insider that comparing Trump and Mussolini does "a disservice" to the Italian leader given he "read newspapers every day in four languages, followed policy issues closely, played the violin and loved classical music, and was not particularly interested in lining his own pocket (although there was no lack of corruption in his regime)."


To Kertzer, the most striking parallel between Trump and Mussolini is that similar to the Italian fascist dictator, the president has enjoyed strong support from religious leaders despite not having "a religious bone in his body."


Mary Trump, the president's niece, on Thursday warned that Americans should take her uncle's election threats seriously. She said Trump would go "farther than you can possibly imagine" to stay in power because he's afraid of potentially facing prosecution for tax fraud and obstruction of justice after becoming a private citizen again.

"We have no idea how bad this is going to get," Mary Trump said.

Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett Is an Enemy of Workers

No surprise, this is one of the key attributes of conservative judges.

    Walker Bragman
    David Sirota 

Sept. 27, 2020

Just weeks before President Donald Trump reportedly selected her to fill the new Supreme Court vacancy, Judge Amy Coney Barrett delivered a ruling that could help corporations evade long-standing laws requiring them to provide overtime pay to their workers.

That ruling was one of a number of cases in which Barrett helped corporate interests prevail over workers. Her highest-profile business-focused actions on the federal bench have limited the enforcement of age-discrimination laws, restricted federal agencies’ power to punish companies that mislead consumers, and reduced consumers’ rights against predatory debt collectors, according to a recent report from the Alliance for Justice.

Barrett’s August ruling in the overtime case is particularly significant: it comes as technology companies have been trying to use mandatory arbitration clauses to avoid better remunerating so-called gig workers. Those provisions often force worker disputes to be decided by private arbitrators handpicked by the companies, rather than in an impartial court of law.

Corporate lobbying groups in Washington focused on court nominees have long been promoting forced arbitration as a way to prevent workers from exercising their rights through class action lawsuits.

In the coming years, the Supreme Court could play a pivotal role in deciding whether existing worker protection laws apply to the larger and larger share of American workers that companies are trying to subject to mandatory arbitration and classify as independent contractors — even when those workers are toiling full-time for those employers.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

House in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power

By Cristina Marcos - 09/29/20 08:35 PM EDT

The House adopted a resolution on Tuesday to affirm the chamber’s support for a peaceful transfer of power after President Trump last week declined to commit to it if he loses reelection.

Lawmakers adopted the measure in a bipartisan 397-5 vote, with all of the votes in opposition coming from Republicans.

Tuesday’s vote followed one last week on a virtually identical measure in the Senate, which lawmakers in that chamber passed unanimously.


Flower colors are changing in response to climate change

By Lucy Hicks

Sep. 28, 2020 , 3:00 PM

As the world’s climate changes, plants and animals have adapted by expanding into new territory and even shifting their breeding seasons. Now, research suggests that over the past 75 years, flowers have also adapted to rising temperatures and declining ozone by altering ultraviolet (UV) pigments in their petals.

Flowers’ UV pigments are invisible to the human eye, but they attract pollinators and serve as a kind of sunscreen for plants, says Matthew Koski, a plant ecologist at Clemson University. Just as UV radiation can be harmful to humans, it can also damage a flower’s pollen. The more UV-absorbing pigment the petals contain, the less harmful radiation reaches sensitive cells.

Previously, Koski and colleagues found that flowers exposed to more UV radiation—usually those growing at higher elevations or closer to the equator—had more UV pigment in their petals. He then wondered whether two factors affected by human activity, damage to the ozone layer and temperature changes, also influenced the UV pigments.


On average, pigment in flowers at all locations increased over time—an average of 2% per year from 1941 to 2017, they reported this month in Current Biology. But changes varied depending on flower structure. In saucer-shaped flowers with exposed pollen, like buttercups, UV-absorbing pigment increased when ozone levels went down and decreased in locations where ozone went up. But flowers with pollen concealed within their petals, such as the common bladderwort, decreased their UV pigment as temperatures went up—regardless of whether ozone levels changed.

Though surprising, the finding “makes total sense,” says Charles Davis, a plant biologist at Harvard University who was not involved with the work. Pollen hidden within petals is naturally shielded from UV exposure, but this extra shielding can also act like a greenhouse, trapping heat. When these flowers are exposed to higher temperatures, their pollen is in danger of being cooked, he says. Reducing UV pigments in the petals causes them to absorb less solar radiation, bringing down temperatures.

Although such pigment changes may be indistinguishable to the human eye, they stand out like a beacon to pollinators like hummingbirds and bees. Koski says most pollinators prefer flowers with a “bull’s-eye” pattern: UV-reflecting petal tips and UV-absorbing pigments near the center of the flower. Though scientists don’t fully understand the appeal of this pattern, they think it could help distinguish flowers from the UV-absorbing background of other plants.

As a result, flowers with less pigment may pop even more to pollinators, Koski says. But flowers that dial up their pigment could lose that contrast, ultimately making them less attractive to passing flyers. These pigment changes may help protect pollen, Davis says, but “pollinators might miss the flowers entirely.”

Fact check: Rates of white-on-white and Black-on-Black crime are similar

Camille Caldera, USA TODAY
,USA TODAY•September 29, 2020

A viral meme purports to list homicide statistics by race in the United States


[The actual statistics are:]

Rates of white-on-white and Black-on-Black homicide are similar, at around 80% and 90%

Overall, most homicides in the United States are intraracial, and the rates of white-on-white and Black-on-Black killings are similar, both long term and in individual years.

Between 1980-2008, the U.S. Department of Justice found that 84% of white victims were killed by white offenders and 93% of Black victims were killed by Black offenders.

In 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that 81% of white victims were killed by white offenders, and 89% of Black victims were killed by Black offenders.

In 2017, the FBI reported almost identical figures — 80% of white victims were killed by white offenders, and 88% of Black victims were killed by Black offenders.

Though the numbers differ year-to-year, the stark difference that the viral post attempts to portray between the rates of white-on-white and Black-on-Black homicide — which it puts at 16% and 97%, respectively — is inaccurate.

Both numbers tend to hover between 80% and 90% and remain within 10 percentage points of each other.

Rates of Black-on-white and white-on-Black homicide also within 8 points

Likewise, the post attempts to portray a gulf in the rate of Black-on-white and white-on-Black homicide — which it lists at 81% and 2%, respectively.

Statistics from the FBI in 2018 and 2017 contradict that claim.

In 2018, 16% of white victims were killed by Black offenders, while 8% of Black victims were killed by white offenders.

Similarly, in 2017, 16% of white victims were killed by Black offenders, while 9% of Black victims were killed by white offenders.

In both years, the numbers remained within eight percentage points, a much smaller gap than the 79% alleged in the viral post.

Police kill Black people at disproportionate rates

Though nationwide statistics are less readily available, multiple studies have found that police kill Black people at disproportionate rates.

A study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2016 examined all 812 fatalities that resulted from use of lethal force by on-duty law enforcement from 2009-2012 in 17 states. The study used National Violent Death Reporting System data.


Our fact-check sources:

Donald Trump’s former lawyer says whole ‘clan' could be jailed in tax controversy

Graeme Massie
,The Independent•September 28, 2020

Donald Trump’s long-time former lawyer says the president’s whole “clan” could go to jail over the alleged tax evasion scandal.

Michael Cohen said he believed that three of Mr Trump’s children, Ivanka, Donald Jr and Eric, would be caught up in the tax controversy, in an interview with MSNBC.

And Cohen told the US news network that Mr Trump could become the “first sitting president to go from the White House straight to prison.”


“I think that Allen Weisselberg, his chief financial officer, is complicit in it. As well as Don, Ivanka, Eric. I believe that the entire Trump clan is complicit in all of this tax evasion.”


Hathras gang rape: India victim's death sparks outrage

BBC•September 29, 2020

A 19-year-old Dalit (formerly untouchable) woman has died after she was allegedly gang raped by four upper-caste men, sparking outrage in India.

The woman was admitted to a hospital in Delhi two weeks ago with several serious injuries.

The attack occurred on 14 September in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Four men have been arrested.

The news of her death has prompted many in India to take to social media and demand justice.

Police told local media that the four men had dragged the victim to a field in Hathras district, where they allegedly raped her. She was grievously injured.

The victim's brother confirmed her death to BBC Hindi, saying that no arrests had been made in the first 10 days after the incident took place. "She was left for dead. She fought for her life for 14 days," he said.

The family told the Indian Express newspaper that the main accused in the crime had always harassed Dalits in their area.


Dalits are some of India's most downtrodden citizens because of an unforgiving Hindu caste hierarchy that condemns them to the bottom of the ladder. Despite laws that protect them, discrimination remains a daily reality for the Dalit population, thought to number around 200 million.


Rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight in India since the 2012 Delhi attack, which led to huge protests and changes to the country's rape laws. But there has been no sign of crimes against women and girls abating.

Data leak: 2016 Trump campaign listed 3.5 million Black people it wanted to stop from voting

Igor Derysh
,Salon•September 29, 2020

President Trump's 2016 campaign identified more than 3 million Black voters it wanted to deter from casting ballots in the presidential election, according to a massive data leak obtained by the British news outlet Channel 4.

The leak revealed that the campaign compiled data on nearly 200 million voters and divided them up into eight different categories. One category, titled "Deterrence," listed 3.5 million Black voters.

The leak shows that the campaign disproportionately targeted Black voters in its "deterrence" strategy aimed at lowering voter turnout among likely supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. More than 60% of people on the list in Georgia were Black, for example, even though Black people are around one-third of the state population. Black people made up 46% of the "Deterrence" list in North Carolina even though they make up just 22% of the population. In Wisconsin, Black voters made up 17% of the "Deterrence" list, even though just 5.4% of the state's population is Black.

In all, about 54% of the people on the "Deterrence" list were people of color, according to Channel 4. Other categories of voters that the campaign sought to turn out were "overwhelmingly white."

The people on the list were described publicly by Trump's top data scientists as people the campaign hoped "don't show up to vote." The campaign worked with the controversial British data firm Cambridge Analytica, now defunct, to compile the data, which was used to target certain Facebook ads to voters. Voters on the "Deterrence" list were targeted with negative ads attacking Hillary Clinton.


Though Trump lost the Black vote by more than 80 points in 2016, reduced Black turnout has repeatedly been cited as a key reason why Clinton lost several states Democrats had previously carried for decades, most notably Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. About 2 million Black voters who backed President Barack Obama in 2012 did not turn out to vote for Clinton.

The new report "has exposed the ways in which the Trump campaign used targeted digital ads to intentionally and methodically deter Black Americans from voting," said a spokesperson for the African American Policy Forum, a social justice think tank. "This is twenty-first century voter suppression."

'We just don't have words': At least 3 dead as California wildfires explode in wine country, forcing thousands to flee

Susan Miller and Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
,USA TODAY•September 29, 2020

Thousands of fire-sapped California residents were forced to flee a pair of new blazes on Monday that have killed at least three people, torched nearly 70,000 acres and prompted a state of emergency in three counties.

The breakneck Zogg Fire had burned through 31,200 acres near Redding in Northern California, while the Glass Fire had charred more than 36,200 acres in the Napa and Sonoma wine country north of San Francisco, according to Cal Fire. Both fires were at 0% containment as of Monday night.


The fire season in California has taken a huge toll. Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 8,100 wildfires that have burned more than 3.7 million acres, according to Cal Fire. Since Aug. 15 – when California’s fire activity elevated – 29 people have died, and more than 7,000 structures have been destroyed.


People with respiratory ailments are especially susceptible to that harmful air, said John Watson, a research professor of air quality science at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada.

tags: severe weather, extreme weather,

Women received less aggressive care than men after a heart attack with pumping failure

News Release 29-Sep-2020
Circulation: Heart Failure journal report

American Heart Association

When the heart suddenly can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs after a heart attack, women ages 18-55 get less aggressive care in the hospital and are more likely to die prior to discharge than men the same age, according to new research published today in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal.

"It is very concerning that the young, productive women of our society face these health care disparities," said Saraschandra Vallabhajosyula, M.D., M.Sc., lead author of the study and a clinical fellow in interventional cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.


More than 90% of driver's license suspensions are not related to traffic safety

News Release 29-Sep-2020
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

A study conducted by researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Brown University found that the vast majority of license suspensions are for non-driving-related events, such as failure to pay a fine or appear in court, and that these suspensions disproportionately affect those living in low-income communities and in communities with a greater percentage of Black and Hispanic residents. The study, which was published in the Journal of Transport & Health, is the first large-scale empirical study to document widespread disparities in the prevalence of suspensions using individual-level data and to demonstrate how that prevalence has been changing over time.

"Every year, millions of Americans delay healthcare and miss out on employment opportunities due to transportation barriers," said Nina R. Joyce, PhD, lead author of the study, an associate fellow with the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP and a researcher and professor with the Brown University School of Public Health. "Our research shows that non-driving-related license suspensions are disproportionately imposed on drivers living in low-income neighborhoods and in neighborhoods with a greater percentage of Black and Hispanic residents in New Jersey."


Especially important for older men need to stay hydrated

News Release 29-Sep-2020
The Physiological Society

Our ability to regulate body temperature and keep our bodies from becoming dehydrated declines as we get older. New research published today in The Journal of Physiology improves our understanding of the relation between temperature regulation and dehydration. 


The primary finding of the study was that, in contrast to young adults, the regulation of body temperature in the older adults was not influenced by increases in the saltiness of the blood.

Less efficient regulation of body temperature and hydration status are thought to contribute to the increased risk of mild (e.g. heat exhaustion) and severe (e.g., heat stroke) heat-related injuries as well as adverse heart problems experienced by older adults during heat stress, such as during occupational work in the heat (e.g., electrical utilities, construction) or in their homes/communities during heatwaves.


Conversation quickly spreads droplets inside buildings

News Release 29-Sep-2020
Princeton University, Engineering School

With implications for the transmission of diseases like COVID-19, researchers have found that ordinary conversation creates a conical 'jet-like' airflow that quickly carries a spray of tiny droplets from a speaker's mouth across meters of an interior space.

"People should recognize that they have an effect around them," said Howard Stone, the Donald R. Dixon '69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. "It's not just around your head, it is at the scale of meters."


Girls benefit from doing sports

News Release 29-Sep-2020
University of Montreal

Girls - but not boys - who participate actively in school sports activities in middle childhood show improved behaviour and attentiveness in early adolescence, suggests a new Canadian study published in Preventative Medicine.

"Girls who do regular extracurricular sports between ages 6 and 10 show fewer symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at age 12, compared to girls who seldom do," said Linda Pagani, a professor at Université de Montréal's School of Psychoeducation.

"Surprisingly, however, boys do not appear to gain any behavioural benefit from sustained involvement in sports during middle childhood," said Pagani, who led the study co-authored by her students Marie-Josée Harbec and Geneviève Fortin and McGill University associate medical professor Tracie Barnett.


Can the common cold help protect you from COVID-19?

News Release 29-Sep-2020

University of Rochester Medical Center

Seasonal colds are by all accounts no fun, but new research suggests the colds you've had in the past may provide some protection from COVID-19. The study, authored by infectious disease experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center, also suggests that immunity to COVID-19 is likely to last a long time - maybe even a lifetime.

The study, published in mBio, is the first to show that the COVID-19-causing virus, SARS-CoV-2, induces memory B cells, long-lived immune cells that detect pathogens, create antibodies to destroy them and remember them for the future. The next time that pathogen tries to enter the body, those memory B cells can hop into action even faster to clear the infection before it starts.

Because memory B cells can survive for decades, they could protect COVID-19 survivors from subsequent infections for a long time, but further research will have to bear that out.

The study is also the first to report cross-reactivity of memory B cells - meaning B cells that once attacked cold-causing coronaviruses appeared to also recognize SARS-CoV-2. Study authors believe this could mean that anyone who has been infected by a common coronavirus - which is nearly everyone - may have some degree of pre-existing immunity to COVID-19.

"When we looked at blood samples from people who were recovering from COVID-19, it looked like many of them had a pre-existing pool of memory B cells that could recognize SARS-CoV-2 and rapidly produce antibodies that could attack it," said lead study author Mark Sangster, Ph.D., research professor of Microbiology and Immunology at URMC. 


High-fibre diet, low level inflammation: sidestepping the effects of radiation

News Release 29-Sep-2020
University of South Australia

Loved or hated, the humble oat could be the new superfood for cancer patients as international research shows a diet rich in fibre could significantly reduce radiation-induced gut inflammation.

Conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Lund University and the University of South Australia, the preclinical study found that dietary oat bran can offset chronic gastrointestinal damage caused by radiotherapy, contradicting long-held clinical recommendations.


Covert tobacco industry marketing tactics exposed by former employees

News Release 29-Sep-2020
Taylor & Francis Group

To circumvent current tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) laws in Australia, tobacco companies are incentivising retailers with cash payments, all-expenses paid holidays, exclusive parties and tickets to sporting events to drive tobacco sales.

Published today in Global Public Health, this is the first study to use interviews with former tobacco industry employees as key informants to understand the tactics that tobacco companies use to exploit gaps in the Australian legislation.

"Direct advertising of tobacco to consumers has long been banned, however this study exposes that tobacco companies continue to market their products through thousands of tobacco retailers," said lead author Christina Watts from University of Sydney and Tobacco Control Policy at Cancer Council NSW.

"Tobacco companies have focused their marketing budget on retailers as they are one of the only remaining avenues to communicate directly with consumers.

Under Australian legislation, incentives and benefits connected to the sale of tobacco cannot be provided to consumers, however, such laws do not explicitly apply to tobacco retailers. A recent sample survey of Australian tobacco retailers found that one-third had received a benefit or incentive from a tobacco company in return for doing something for the company.


Study reveals dietary fructose heightens inflammatory bowel disease

News Release 29-Sep-2020
Stony Brook University

Diet remains an important part of disease prevention and management, and a new study suggests that consumption of fructose may worsen intestinal inflammation common to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Led by David Montrose, PhD, of the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, the study is currently published early online in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Rates of IBD have been increasing worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately three million Americans are diagnosed with IBD each year, up one million from incidence in the late 1990s. Consumption of a western diet, including fructose, is associated with increasing rates of obesity and diabetes, and IBD may be an additional disease exacerbated by fructose intake.

"The increasing incidence of IBD parallels higher levels of fructose consumption in the United States and other countries," says Montrose, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and faculty researcher in the Stony Brook University Cancer Center. "Our findings provide evidence of a direct link between dietary fructose and IBD and support the concept that high consumption of fructose could worsen disease in people with IBD. This is important because it has the potential to provide guidance on diet choices for IBD patients, something that is currently lacking."


Social media use linked with depression, secondary trauma during COVID-19

News Release 29-Sep-2020
Penn State

Can't stop checking social media for the latest COVID-19 health information? You might want to take a break, according to researchers at Penn State and Jinan University who discovered that excessive use of social media for COVID-19 health information is related to both depression and secondary trauma.

"We found that social media use was rewarding up to a point, as it provided informational, emotional and peer support related to COVID-19 health topics," said Bu Zhong, associate professor of journalism, Penn State. "However, excessive use of social media led to mental health issues. The results imply that taking a social media break may promote well-being during the pandemic, which is crucial to mitigating mental health harm inflicted by the pandemic."


Buying emergency contraception is legal but not always easy at small, mom-and-pop pharmacies

News Release 29-Sep-2020
West Virginia University

About 22 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 report having used emergency contraception. But even though the Food and Drug Administration approved levonorgestrel--more commonly known as Plan B--for over-the-counter use for women of all ages in 2013, it's not always easy to get--especially at local, mom-and-pop drug stores.

According to a new study led by West Virginia University researcher Amie Ashcraft, chain pharmacies in West Virginia--like CVS and Walmart--are much more likely to stock emergency contraception than smaller independent pharmacies. It was available at 76.3 percent of the chain pharmacies her research team queried, whereas only 14.6 percent of independent pharmacies had it on hand.


Study supports airborne spread of COVID-19 indoors

News Release 29-Sep-2020
JAMA Internal Medicine

New research from the University of Georgia supports growing evidence for airborne transmission of COVID-19 in enclosed spaces.

Researchers were able to link a community outbreak of COVID-19 in China to a source patient who likely spread the virus to fellow bus riders through the bus's air conditioning system.

"The possibility of airborne transmission has long been suspected, but with limited empirical evidence. Our study provided epidemiologic evidence of transmission over long distances, which was likely airborne," said Ye Shen, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UGA's College of Public Health and lead author on the study.

The study, which was published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine, calls into question the prevailing thought on how COVID-19 can spread.

"It was largely believed that close contact through droplets is a major route of transmission for COVID-19. However, the widely adopted social distancing and hand washing did not effectively prevent the transmission globally. Instead, the number of new COVID-19 cases increased steadily," said Shen.

Shen and his co-authors worked with epidemiologists from two regional Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in China to trace infections following a large outdoor worship event in Zhejiang province. Some of the attendees, it turns out, took two buses to the event creating a unique natural experiment for the researchers.


Nine in ten recovered COVID-19 patients experience side-effects - study

Death rates don't tell the whole story of the toll of Covid-19.

Since I was sick last spring, I've been having some days where I'm really tired. It seems to me that they have been coming farther apart, which I hope continues.  I don't know what I had.  I saw from friends comments on Facebook that something was going around.  I was was going to get a Covid test while I was sick, but had a flat tire on the way, and didn't want to spread around whatever I had while getting a new tire, and didn't feel the effort was worth it.  I have been much sicker, worse problem was the fatigue, but of course the uncertainty of whether I had something that would turn into something more serious was stressful.

By Sangmi Cha

September 29, 20205:10 AM

Nine in ten coronavirus patients reported experiencing side-effects such as fatigue, psychological after-effects and loss of smell and taste after they recovered from the disease, according to a preliminary study by South Korea.

The research comes as the global death toll from COVID-19 passed 1 million on Tuesday, a grim milestone in a pandemic that has devastated the global economy, overloaded health systems and changed the way people live.

In an online survey of 965 recovered COVID-19 patients, 879 people or 91.1% responded they were suffering at least one side-effect from the disease, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) official Kwon Jun-wook told a briefing.

Fatigue was the most common side-effect with 26.2% reading, followed by difficulty in concentration which had 24.6%, Kwon said.

Other after-effects included psychological or mental side-effects and loss of taste or smell.


JPMorgan Chase to pay $920 million to settle trading misconduct allegations

How to get rich and richer: cheat people
I notice that in cases like this, they generally say a company did something. Of course, a company can't do anything. It's the people in control who do the misdeeds, and they are rarely named.

By Paul R. La Monica, CNN Business
Updated 2:17 PM ET, Tue September 29, 2020

 PMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, agreed Tuesday to pay a record $920 million to settle charges that it engaged in manipulative trades of futures tied to precious metals and Treasury bonds.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said in a statement that JPMorgan Chase (JPM) was involved in "deceptive conduct" over a period of at least eight years that included hundreds of thousands of so-called spoof trades -- orders that were placed and quickly canceled because they were never intended to be executed --- designed to fool investors.

Spoofing can manipulate markets by indicating false demand for an asset. The practice can raise or lower prices of assets, depending on what the spoofer desires. 


But the nearly $1 billion settlement wasn't enough to satisfy Better Markets, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2008 following the Great Financial Crisis with the aim of reforming Wall Street.

Better Markets called the payment a "sweetheart deal" and a "miscarriage of justice," adding that it penalizes only JPMorgan shareholders and not executives or other employees that may have been involved.
Still, three JPMorgan Chase gold traders were charged with allegedly manipulating prices in the precious metals markets a year ago by the Department of Justice.

The US ranks at the top of the world's coronavirus death toll of more than 1 million

The U.S. has 4.25% of the world population.

By Madeline Holcombe, CNN
Updated 8:52 AM ET, Tue September 29, 2020

More than 1 million people have died worldwide from Covid-19, and the United States accounts for more than 20% of the death toll.

In less than nine months, the death toll jumped from one coronavirus-related death -- in Wuhan, China, on January 9 -- to 1,002,628 early Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US has been hit hard by the virus, with almost 7.2 million reported infections and more than 205,000 deaths.

With recent spikes in US cases, health experts warn things could soon get worse.

Only 20 states are holding steady when it comes to the average of daily new cases compared to last week, while 23 are reporting increases: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.


Trump administration plans to end census early, defying judge's order

Mon 28 Sep 2020 20.09 EDT

The Trump administration has said the 2020 census will end early on 5 October, defying a federal judge’s ruling that the count should continue through the end of October.

The US secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, made the announcement in a tweet posted on the US Census Bureau’s website on Monday.

Ross said the “target date” for ending all counting efforts for the 2020 census is now 5 October, despite a judge ordering the Trump administration to extend counting through 31 October.


Monday, September 28, 2020

Reagan reduced tax deductions for the non-rich

Sept. 28, 2020

Because of discussion of Trump's tax return, the media is discussing the ways that the rich can legally greatly reduce their taxes, as well as the fact that they are getting away with tax fraud by claiming deductions they are not entitled to. I'll include some articles on that in this blog.
 On the other hand, I remember how Reagan and Congressional republicans took away deductions that help the non-rich. Before their changes, you could deduct all your medical expenses, but they put in the change that you can only deduct part of your medical expenses.
Also, they totally eliminated income averaging for regular people. I used it once when I was out of work for several months during a recessions, and it helped me.  It would have been very helpful to a lot of people if it were still available, eg., during the great recession, now during the Covid recession, for people who can't work for extended periods because of illness.
But averaging is available for income that is significant for the rich, on investment income.

Childhood and adult trauma create sleepless nights for midlife women

News Release 28-Sep-2020
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)

Sleep disturbances are often reported by postmenopausal women. A new study reports just how prevalent those sleep problems are and that women who endured trauma as children or adults are more likely to suffer poor-quality sleep. Study results will be presented during the 2020 virtual Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), which opens on September 28.


Of the participants in the study, 44% reported childhood trauma, and 60% reported experiencing trauma as an adult. The most common sleep-related problems documented within the group were actigraphy-measured short sleep duration (61%) and waking after the onset of sleep (WASO; 60%), as well as self-reported poor sleep quality (33%).

Researchers noted that childhood trauma was most related to persistently poor WASO, whereas adult trauma was most associated with poor sleep quality. Neither type of trauma was related to persistently poor sleep duration.


How important is sex to women as they age?

News Release 28-Sep-2020
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)

Despite a common belief that women lose interest in sex as they age, a new study demonstrates that a significant percentage of women continue to rate sex as important throughout midlife. The study also identified those factors affecting which women continue to value sex most. Study results will be presented during the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), which opens on September 28.


"In contrast to prior literature reporting that the importance of sex decreases as women move through midlife, we found that, for a quarter of women, sex remains highly important to them throughout midlife," says Dr. Holly Thomas from the University of Pittsburgh, lead author of the study abstract, "How important is sex to women during midlife?"


Dietary folate, magnesium, and dairy products may all help stave off bowel cancer

News Release 28-Sep-2020

Folate, magnesium, and dairy products may all help stave off bowel cancer, but there's no evidence that garlic or onions, fish, tea or coffee protect against the disease, finds an overarching analysis of published pooled data analyses in the journal Gut.

In the US alone around 1 in every 20 people is likely to develop bowel cancer at some point during their lifetime. And worldwide, more than 2.2 million new cases and 1.1 million deaths from the disease are predicted every year by 2030.

While deaths from the disease have been falling in most developed countries, the numbers of new cases have been rising in some, including in Canada, the UK, and the Netherlands.

Screening for the disease can pick up the disease at an early treatable stage, but take-up varies considerably from country to country. And as it takes more than 15 years for bowel cancer to develop, a healthy lifestyle likely has a key role in helping to halt or stop its progress altogether, say the researchers.


ACA reduced out-of-pocket health costs for families with kids, but they still need help

News Release 28-Sep-2020
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

The percentage of low- and middle-income families with children that had burdensome out-of-pocket health care costs fell following the 2014 implementation of the health insurance marketplaces and Medicaid expansion provisions of the Affordable Care Act, known widely as Obamacare, according to a new study by Lauren Wisk, an assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and colleagues.

Before the ACA, the study shows, 35.6% of the lowest-income families experienced burdensome costs, but this fell to 23.7% post-ACA. For low-income families, the proportion fell from 24.6% to 17.3%, and for middle-income families, it decreased from 6.1% to 4.6%. The proportion of high-income families with burdensome costs remained relatively stable over time, at 1.1% pre-ACA and 0.9% post-ACA.


The ACA substantially improved access to insurance, both public and private, and was associated with a large reduction in health care costs and financial burdens for families with children. But low- and middle-income families are still vulnerable to high financial burdens, and more work is needed to reduce the financial strain for these families.

Early introduction of gluten may prevent coeliac disease in children

News Release 28-Sep-2020
King's College London

Introducing high doses of gluten from four months of age into infants' diets could prevent them from developing coeliac disease, a study has found.

These results from the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) Study, published today in JAMA Pediatrics, by researchers from King's College London, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, St George's, University of London, and Benaroya Research Institute, Seattle, suggest the early introduction of high-dose gluten may be an effective prevention strategy for the disease, though researchers say further studies are needed before being applied in practice.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease whereby eating gluten causes the body's immune system to attack its own tissues. There are currently no strategies to prevent coeliac disease and treatment involves long-term exclusion of gluten from the diet. Even very small amounts of gluten in the diet of those with coeliac disease can cause damage to the lining of the gut, prevent proper absorption of food and result in symptoms including bloating, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, and tiredness.


Covid-19: Social distancing is more effective than travel bans

News Release 28-Sep-2020
Travel bans will delay the peak of infection with days, while social distancing has a much stronger impact, amounting in up to 4 weeks delay, scientists report
University of Southern Denmark

Forecasting the spreading of a pandemic is paramount in helping governments to enforce a number of social and economic measures, apt at curbing the pandemic and dealing with its aftermath.

Now researchers present an efficient model to study and forecast the spreading dynamics and containment across different regions of the world.

- We discover that social distancing measures are more effective than travel limitations across borders in delaying the epidemic peak, says Professor of theoretical physics, Francesco Sannino, University of Southern Denmark and Danish Institute of Advanced Science, continuing:

The results corroborate our finding that the travel across regions sparks the epidemic diffusion, which then develops in each region independently.


Thousands of excess deaths from cardiovascular disease during the COVID-19 pandemic in England and Wales

News Release 28-Sep-2020
University of Leeds

A major new study has identified 2085 excess deaths in England and Wales due to heart disease and stroke during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. On average, that is 17 deaths each day over four months that probably could have been prevented.

Excess deaths are the number of deaths above what is normally expected - and the figure relates to the period from 2 March to 30 June, 2020. The scientists believe the excess deaths were caused by people not seeking emergency hospital treatment for a heart attack or other acute cardiovascular illness requiring urgent medical attention, either because they were afraid of contracting COVID-19 or were not referred for treatment.

Over the same period, there was a sharp rise in the proportion of people who died at home or in a care home from acute cardiovascular diseases. Chris Gale, Professor Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Leeds, said: "It is entirely plausible that a number of deaths could have been prevented if people had attended hospital quickly when they began to experience their heart attack or stroke. The sad irony is that previous research we have undertaken showed that nationwide heart attack services remained fully operational and continued to deliver high quality care during the peak of the pandemic." The findings, based on an analysis of the information contained on death certificates, have ben published in the journal Heart.







Physicians bring attention to overlooked issue of malnutrition among those with obesity

News Release 28-Sep-2020
National Jewish Health

A new editorial accompanying a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology is bringing attention to the underappreciated and often overlooked issue of malnutrition among those who are obese. Malnutrition is defined as faulty nutrition due to inadequate or unbalanced intake of nutrients. It is often incorrectly perceived as an illness that primarily affects those who are underweight, yet a recent study examining acute coronary disease (ACD) found malnourishment is an important underlying factor in the disease. In fact, about half of those found to be malnourished were overweight or obese.


Studies have previously shown that eating whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are beneficial in reducing blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and inflammatory markers. Treatment of at-risk patients must include counseling on how to shift toward a diet that is rich in these healthier food options. In fact, many hospitalizations for life-threatening events can be valuable teaching moments to truly affect care and change treatment trajectories.

Spinal cord stimulation reduces pain and motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease patients

News Release 28-Sep-2020
University of California - San Diego

A team of researchers in the United States and Japan reports that spinal cord stimulation (SCS) measurably decreased pain and reduced motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease, both as a singular therapy and as a "salvage therapy" after deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapies were ineffective.


The mean age of the patients was 74, with an average disease duration of 17 years. All of the patients were experiencing pain not alleviated by previous treatments. Eight had undergone earlier DBS, a non-invasive, pain therapy in which electrical currents are used to stimulate specific parts of the brain. Seven patients had received only drug treatments previously.


The authors said the findings suggest SCS may have therapeutic benefit for patients with Parkinson's in terms of treatment for pain and motor symptoms, though they noted further studies are needed to determine whether improved motor function is due to neurological changes caused by SCS or simply decreased pain.


Major hospital system hit with cyberattack, potentially largest in U.S. history

Sept. 28, 2020, 1:07 PM EDT / Updated Sept. 28, 2020, 4:04 PM EDT
By Kevin Collier

A major hospital chain has been hit by what appears to be one of the largest medical cyberattacks in United States history.

Computer systems for Universal Health Services, which has more than 400 locations, primarily in the U.S., began to fail over the weekend, and some hospitals have had to resort to filing patient information with pen and paper, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

Universal Health Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but posted a statement to its website that its company-wide network “is currently offline, due to an IT security issue. One person familiar with the company’s response efforts who was not authorized to speak to the press said that the attack “looks and smells like ransomware.”

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that spreads across computer networks, encrypting files and demanding payment for a key to decrypt them. It’s become a common tactic for hackers, though attacks of this scale against medical facilities aren’t common. A patient died after a ransomware attack against a German hospital in early September required her to be moved to a different hospital, leading to speculation that it may be the first known death from ransomware.


While many patient charts at that facility are on paper, medication information is maintained online, though it’s backed up at the end of each day, the nurse said.


Kenneth White, a computer security engineer with more than a decade of experience working with hospital networks, said that the delays caused by ransomware attacks can have dire consequences for patients.

“When nurses and physicians can't access labs, radiology or cardiology reports, that can dramatically slow down treatment, and in extreme cases, force re-routing for critical care to other treatment centers," he said. "When these systems go down, there is the very real possibility that people can die."

American Could Face Prison in Thailand After Posting Negative Reviews of a Resort

By Richard C. Paddock
Sept. 28, 2020Updated 12:16 p.m. ET

An American man who lives in Thailand was unhappy that a resort hotel  wanted to charge him a $15 corkage fee for bringing his own bottle of gin to the restaurant. He argued with a manager and then later did what has become second nature for disgruntled tourists: He posted negative reviews of the resort online.

The hotel, the Sea View Koh Chang resort on the island of Koh Chang, was equally unhappy with the guest and what it saw as his one-man campaign to damage its reputation. Unable to reach him or halt his posts on TripAdvisor, the resort filed a complaint with the Thai police under the country’s harsh defamation law.

As a result, the guest, Wesley Barnes, was arrested this month and spent a weekend in jail. If convicted of criminal defamation, he faces up to two years in prison.

If the Sea View was hoping to win back its good name, seeking help from the police backfired, badly. Mr. Barnes’s arrest has set off condemnation online, negative news stories and a burst of bad reviews for the resort. A hotel manager said the resort was receiving death threats from foreigners.


The arrest under the defamation law is also a bad look for Thailand, which is desperately seeking to rebuild a tourism industry crippled by the coronavirus. One of its strategies is to encourage people who live in Thailand to travel within the country.


Human rights advocates have long criticized Thailand’s defamation law, which can lead to criminal charges for speaking out and is sometimes used by business interests to silence critics.

In a case last year, a court in the province of Lopburi found a journalist, Suchanee Cloitre, guilty of defamation for posting a tweet in 2016 criticizing the labor practices of Thammakaset Co., the operator of a poultry farm. Ms. Suchanee, a television reporter, was sentenced to two years in prison. She is appealing. The case was one of more than a dozen filed by the company against journalists, workers and activists.


Even harsher is the country’s lèse-majesté law, which can bring a 15-year sentence for insulting Thailand’s king. Protesters who have been staging demonstrations against the monarch in recent weeks run the risk of being prosecuted under this law.


The Sea View, in its statement, said that it had reached out to Mr. Barnes to try to resolve the situation amicably but never received a response. The hotel said it went to the police only as a last resort to stop the stream of bad reviews.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

10 things you need to know to stop a coup

Good stuff to know, even though we hope we don't need to use it.

Daniel Hunter    September 18, 2020 

We have a president who has openly said he might not respect the outcome of our election. We have to be ready if he claims victory before votes are counted, tries to stop counting, or refuses to accept a loss.

Some days I feel confident it will happen. A poll showed over 75 percent of Democrats think this is possible — and a shocking 30 percent of Republicans do too!

Other days I feel confident this is tough talk from a president not good at planning ahead. Still, he is good at the kind of misdirection that can keep us complacent and reactionary — which could lead us to stop doing the important groundwork of getting out the vote, protecting the post office and fighting voter suppression.

So what I’m offering isn’t asking us to stop what we’re doing now. Instead I’m part of an effort called Choose Democracy, which is prepping people for the possibility of a coup while keeping people focused on a strong, robust election process. After all, the best way to stop a coup is to not have one.

These guidelines are drawn from the wide body of experience and evidence from the many countries that have experienced a coup since World War II. You can read some fuller case studies from Choose Democracy or a longer evidence-based handbook for this moment from “Hold the Line: A Guide to Defending Democracy.”

1. Don’t expect results election night.

Election season 2020 is shaping up to be very unusual. Many mail-in ballots may not be counted until days or weeks after Election Day. Since Democrats are expected to use them more frequently than Republicans, voter tallies are expected to swing towards Democrats post-election night (they call it a “blue shift”). As a result, a wave of confusion may unfold starting election night.


During this time expect false flags and outlandish claims. Be very cautious with news. Don’t simply pass on whatever seems like dramatic examples of wrongdoing — but take the time to check if it has been verified, already debunked, or from a source you don’t trust. Encourage people in your community to prepare for some uncertain weeks. As election results start coming in the message needs to come through loud and clear: Count all the votes and honor the result.

2. Do call it a coup.

One reason to use the language of a coup is that people know it’s wrong and a violation of Democratic norms — even if they’re not familiar with the exact definition of a coup.

Language like “election tampering” or “voter suppression” signal deterioration of the democratic process. But if we get ourselves into a coup situation — like where Trump just won’t go — we need to help people help our country move into a psychic break.

We know it’s a coup if the government:

    Stops counting votes;
    Declares someone a winner who didn’t get the most votes; or
    Allows someone to stay in power who didn’t win the election.


3. Know that coups have been stopped by regular folks.

Coup attempts have happened all over the world, and over half have failed. That’s because coups are hard to orchestrate. They are a violation of norms that require quick seizure of multiple levels of institutions with a claim that they are the rightful heir.

Coups tend to fail when government institutions (like elections) are trusted, there is an active citizenry and other nations are ready to become involved.

The role of citizenry is crucial. That’s because during the period right after a coup attempt— when the new government is claiming it is the “real” government — all the institutions have to decide who to listen to.


4. Be ready to act quickly — and not alone.

Typically power grabs are organized in secret and launched suddenly. Most campaigns that defeat coups do so in days: The Soviet Union in 1991 took three days, France in 1961 took four days and Bolivia in 1978 took 16 days.

It’s rare for any country’s leader to publicly admit they might not respect the results of an election. There’s some good news in that — because people who stop coups rarely have the chance to get training, warning or preparation. In that way, we’re ahead of the game.


5. Focus on widely shared democratic values, not on individuals.


This affirms another finding from the research on anti-coups: Because coups are an attack on the current institution, loyalists to the traditional way — who may never join other movement causes — are open to joining actions in the street. That’s if we make the invitation about democratic values they can connect with.

6. Convince people not to freeze or just go along.


That doubt is how coups succeed. Enough people freeze. Even when only a few people go along with the coup and act as though that’s normal, people may reluctantly accept it as inevitable.

In all the research on preventing coups, there’s one common theme: People stop doing what the coup plotters tell them to do.


 7. Commit to actions that represent rule of law, stability and nonviolence.

Stopping a coup is dependent on the size of mobilizations and winning over the center. It is really a fight for legitimacy. Which voice is legitimate? Some people will have already made up their minds. The aim, then, is convincing those who are uncertain — which may be a more surprising number than you expect.

To swing them to our side, that uncertain center has to be convinced that “we” represent stability and “the coup plotters” represent hostility to the democratic norms of elections and voting.

We prevent that possibility when we dehumanize potential defectors, make sweeping statements like “the police won’t help,” never encourage people to join our side and create chaotic scenes on the street.

Historically, whichever side resorts to violence the most tends to lose. In a moment of uncertainty, people pick the side that promises maximum stability, respects democratic norms and appears to be the safer bet. It’s a contest of who can be the most legitimate.


8. Yes, a coup can happen in the United States.

It may be hard to imagine that a coup could happen in this country. But whenever there is an order to stop counting votes, we call it a coup.

Even by the strictest definition of coups, there has been a militarized coup in the United States. In 1898 after reconstruction in Wilmington, North Carolina, seeing the rise of a prosperous and successful Black population, white racists organized a coup. They gave rallying cries like, “We will never surrender to a ragged raffle of Negroes, even if we have to choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses.”

Despite a terror campaign before the election, Black turnout was high and a slate of Black candidates was voted in. Black power was met with white supremacist violence, with white squads killing 30 to 300 people, including newly elected officials. Over 3,000 Blacks fled this extreme violence, and the era of Jim Crow began.

9. Center in calm, not fear.

It’s scary to believe we’re having to talk about a federal coup in the United States. And we know that fearful people are less likely to make good decisions.


10. Prepare to deter a coup before the election.

The best way to stop a coup is to never have one. People are doing lots of good work on issues of voting rights, urging turn-out, stopping repression, uncovering fraud and getting people to commit to democracy. That may be enough.

Another way to prepare is to get people into the mindset of taking action so they don’t freeze. 


 In that spirit, Choose Democracy has created a pledge:

    We will vote.
    We will refuse to accept election results until all the votes are counted.
    We will nonviolently take to the streets if a coup is attempted.
    If we need to, we will shut down this country to protect the integrity of the democratic process.

Trump didn't pay federal income tax for 10 of 15 years before 2016 election: NYT

Trump could prove his claim about paying taxes by releasing his tax returns, as other presidents have done, and as he promised he would do.  Since he lies all the time, why should anybody believe him about this?

If he released his tax returns, people he has done business with might let the IRS know that he lied on the tax returns.

President Trump paid no income taxes for 10 of the 15 years before he was elected president, with his income tax payments in 2016 and 2017 amounting to just $750, according to The New York Times, which obtained the president's tax information for the last 20 years.

The Times found Trump faces hundreds of millions in debt, struggling Trump Organization properties and a number of write-offs to avoid paying taxes.

In a statement to The Times, Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten said "most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and reportedly took issue with the amount of taxes Trump has paid.

“Over the past decade, President Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015,” Garten told the Times.


Trump's chosen state taxes low income people much more than the rich

Trump became a legal resident of Florida to avoid paying income taxes. Florida doesn't have income taxes. It's tax system is the kind Trump likes, regressive, taxing a larger percentage of income from people the less they make. And since he is living in D.C. most of the time, he's not even paying as much as a normal resident would in sales taxes.

Florida is the third largest state in the country, and according to a new report, has the third-most unfair state and local tax system in the U.S. That data comes from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a nonpartisan, nonprofit tax policy organization.

Florida is one of nine states in the country without a state income tax, which has given it the image of being a low-tax state. But the authors of the report say that such a tax system exacerbates inequality, and that the state relies too much on sales tax to fund general revenues.

Sales taxes are known as “regressive” because they impose a greater tax burden on the poor. Florida derives more than half of its tax revenue from sales and so-called “excise” taxes (mostly levied on gasoline, alcohol and cigarettes), according to ITEP, which “far exceeds the national average of 35 percent.”

According to the report, only Washington and Texas have more regressive tax systems than Florida. California was ranked as the least regressive tax system in the U.S.


[Aggravation.  The news version of blogger doesn't allow the size and position of linked images to be adjusted so I can show the whole image.  From what they have said, the change was a rush job because the platform they had been using was going away, and they didn't know how much time they had to change.] 

[If you look at the end of the graph, you will see that families in the top 1% only pay 2.3% of their income in state and local taxes, more than 5.5 times the percentage of families in the lowest 20%.


What will the supreme court do after the election?

Sept. 27, 2020

Heard a commentary on the supreme court today, about it's history, number of members, how people respect it above the executive and Congress. They mentioned that even with the conservative majority, they have made rulings people tend to agree are good. I have been wondering if some of these rulings are to avoid angering people, to help Trump and other republicans win election and continue to make the federal courts increasingly conservative. Also, they have put off making some rulings on controversial topics until after the election. It will be interesting to see what happens after the election.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Trump’s Businesses Raked In $1.9 Billion Of Revenue During His First Three Years In Office

This article doesn't discuss how some of his deals were apparently made for political favors.

Dan Alexander

Senior editor at Forbes, covering Donald Trump's business.

Sep 11, 2020,07:00am EDT 

Donald Trump never really got out of business. Sure, he handed day-to-day management of his companies to his children, like a lot of tycoons who get preoccupied with other interests late in life. But the president held onto ownership of his assets after taking office, ensuring that he would continue to generate money while serving in the White House. From 2017 to 2019, the president’s businesses raked in an estimated $1.9 billion of revenue.

It’s a significant sum, no matter how you look at it. Documents from various sources—including private lenders, local governments, federal officials and overseas regulators—help show where the money comes from and roughly how much of it turns into profit. An analysis that relies on those documents and conversations with industry experts, broken down for the first time in the forthcoming book White House, Inc., provides an unprecedented look at the president’s finances, which he has worked so hard to shield from public scrutiny.


Trump’s golf course and club portfolio produced the biggest chunk of revenue, some $753 million in three years.


The second-biggest revenue generator is Trump’s collection of commercial real estate assets.


Golf assets generate smaller amounts of money from lots of people, whereas commercial real estate holdings tend to collect bigger sums from fewer customers. So although there’s a lot of talk about potential influence from Trump’s club members, the customers who can really impact his bottom line are those renting space in his buildings.


Trump gets additional revenue from a variety of sources, including some that other real estate barons would never consider. In New York City’s Central Park, his business operates a skating rink and a carousel that generated $29 million during the first three years he served as president.


 A single condo on Park Avenue in Manhattan, dealt to a woman who publicly boasts about her connections to government officials, brought in $15.9 million. A mansion in Beverly Hills, sold to a company connected to an Indonesian tycoon, produced another $13.5 million. Trump’s team promised he would do no new foreign deals while in office, but then he sold $3.2 million worth of land in the Dominican Republic. And on and on. 



Former Pence aide: Staffers discussed scenarios where Trump won't leave White House

09/25/2020 08:00 PM EDT

White House staffers discussed scenarios where President Donald Trump doesn't accept the results of the November presidential election and refuses to leave, according to a former staffer who has since spoken out against the president.

Olivia Troye, who worked on the coronavirus task force and served as an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on counterterrorism and homeland security, said Friday she and other staffers held closed-door conversations about the scenario while she was working on the coronavirus task force. 

Troye left the administration in August, long before Trump declined this week to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the election. The president has also repeatedly joked about serving beyond his term limit and accused Democrats of trying to steal the election.

Troye warned the president's comments should be taken seriously, even if he passes them off as jokes.

"The president when he's joking, if he says that he's joking, he's telling you a half truth," Troye told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday. "And in there is something fairly frightening and scary."

"What you see is what you get," she added. "You should trust that. He doesn't hide it."


FDA issues Benadryl warning as it investigates reports of teen injuries and deaths linked to TikTok challenge

And some people want to lower the voting age to 16, to allow those wise and thoughtful teenagers to have influence.

By Shelby Lin Erdman, CNN | Posted - Sep. 25, 2020 at 2:20 p.m. 

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Thursday over "serious problems with high doses" of the common over-the-counter allergy medication Benadryl.

Too much diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can lead to severe health problems, including serious heart problems, seizures, coma and even death.

The FDA cited reports of teenagers ending up in hospital emergency rooms or dying after participating in the so-called "Benadryl Challenge," on the social media platform TikTok.

"We are investigating these reports and conducting a review to determine if additional cases have been reported," the agency said in a news release.

The FDA said it had contacted TikTok and "strongly urged" it to remove videos of the "Benadryl Challenge" from its platform and to monitor for any new posts.


Benadryl is an antihistamine used to treat symptoms such as a runny nose or sneezing from upper respiratory allergies, hay fever or the common cold. It's safe and effective when used as recommended, the FDA said.

"Diphenhydramine is marketed under the brand-name Benadryl, store brands, and generics. It is also available in combination with pain relievers, fever reducers, and decongestants," the agency said.


The FDA also recommends locking up medicines to prevent accidental poisonings and misuse by teens, "especially when they are home more often due to the COVID-19 pandemic and may be more likely to experiment."


Yahoo Finance Wall Street drills Costco stock because it's paying workers $2 more an hour during COVID-19

An example of the fact that what is good for Wall Street is at best not connected to what is good for the people.

Brian Sozzi·Editor-at-Large
Fri, September 25, 2020, 1:25 PM EDT

So much for doing the right thing.

Costco (COST) shares were drilled to the tune of 3% on Friday after delivering what looked to be an impressive fiscal fourth quarter. The company posted quarterly earnings some 33 cents ahead of analyst estimates, powered by an unworldly 11.4% same-store sales gain. Costco members flocked to warehouses to keep their cupboards stocked up as they continue to spend more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Executives pointed out on an earnings call that it believes the pandemic has brought in new Costco members, too.

To round out the on-paper positives, Costco topped $4 billion in net earnings for the first time in its fiscal year and enters its new fiscal year armed with a $12.3 billion cash war chest.

Then why the selloff in Costco’s stock? Simply put, analysts appear not too pleased Costco continues to pay its workers what has become known in retail as pandemic pay. Costco began paying its workers an extra $2 an hour back in March at the height of the pandemic. While other retailers such as Kroger and Target have stopped pandemic pay, the notoriously pro worker Costco has kept its practice intact.