Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Experts warn of ‘life-long’ effects of nail gel polish




By Kate Ng and Tara Cobham,



  Dermatologists are warning that popular nail gel polishes are causing an increase in the number of people developing “life-changing” allergies that could prevent them from having certain operations.

Experts say that chemicals in nail gel polishes, which are methacrylates, can seep into the skin and cause an allergic reaction.

Symptoms of such a reaction include nails becoming loosened from the nail bed and the skin around the nails developing a severe rash.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday morning (14 April), Dr Deirdre Buckley, a consultant dermatologist from Bath, said: “[Symptoms] can range from the nails loosening to falling off, it can include a severe rash on the face, the neck, the upper chest.

“People can have trouble breathing or asthma can be worsened. Even worse, they can become sensitive to acrylates in other things, which can have implications in dentistry or if they’re diabetic or for orthopaedic surgery, and it’s a life-long sensitisation,” she added.

Methacrylate is often used as a bone cement for knee and hip implants, as well as in dental prosthesis and dentures. 



Kids who do these 12 things have ‘highly sensitive’ brains—why parenting experts say it’s an ‘advantage’


 I have read elsewhere that 15-20 percent of other animals also have this trait. It is useful for a species to have some individuals like this.


Jenn Granneman@JennGranneman
Andre Sólo


Without meaning to, parents can have a way of making children feel as if something is wrong with them.

As parenting researchers, we’ve seen this happen often with highly sensitive kids. Many parents see sensitivity as a bad trait — that it makes us look overwhelmed, passive, or even weak — and discourage it with phrases like “Stop crying!” or “Shake it off!”

But psychologists and neuroscientists have found that, in the right environment, kids with highly sensitive brains have rare advantages.

Not only do highly sensitive kids show more creativity, awareness and openness than less-sensitive kids, but they possess an underappreciated trait: empathy.


According to psychologist Elaine Aron, who popularized the term “highly sensitive person,” roughly one in five children are highly sensitive.

Here are the most common signs:

    They notice subtle details, such as a teacher’s new outfit or when furniture has been moved.
    Other people’s moods really affects them. They easily absorb emotions from others, taking on their feelings as if they were their own.
    They have a hard time shaking intense emotions like anger or worry.
    They complain when things feel off (e.g., scratchy bedsheets, itchy clothing labels, tight waistbands).
    They feel stressed and fatigued in loud, busy environments, like gyms or perfume counters because of the strong odors.
    They hate feeling rushed and prefer to do things more carefully.
    They respond better to gentle correction rather than to harsh discipline.
    They make insightful comments and seem wise for their age.
    They have a clever sense of humor.
    They read people well and can infer, with surprising accuracy, what they are thinking or feeling.
    They refuse to eat certain foods because of the smells or textures.
    They startle easily at sudden noises, like when someone sneaks up on them.

If any of these observations resonate, remember that it’s a positive thing. Highly sensitive kids have an entirely different approach to their environment, and that is a strength.


How parents can help sensitive kids thrive



Former Trump adviser says he’ll fake health problems as excuse to drop out of 2024 race



April 9, 2023


Former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is now predicting that Trump will drop out before we even reach the Iowa caucus. He’s further predicting that Trump will cite supposed health issues as the reason why.After Scaramucci said this, reporter Brian Karen chimed in and reminded everyone that Trump actually said quite awhile back that he might end up facing health issues that could force him out of the 2024 race.

So it’s not as if Scaramucci is speaking purely in theory. Donald Trump has in fact already publicly laid the groundwork to end up doing precisely what Scaramucci is predicting.


Why he left the republican party



 Jack Hopkins

In the hit series “Dexter”, he often spoke of his “Dark Passenger”; the language he used to describe his overwhelming desire to kill.

For most of us, our “Dark Passengers” are much further down on the scale…and don’t include murder. However, most of us have those things about ourselves that we would probably consider to be “dark” or “not nice.”

That’s when I knew it was time to leave the republican party. When I felt my inner darkness being nurtured.

From the President, on down….I felt that the system had been reorganized. It was now set up-overtly-to reward the “dark” behaviors from those in the republican party.

It wasn’t just that, though. It also included a quick version of some kind of punishment, for any kind of behavior that fell outside the ring of “darkness.” The meaner, the better.  The nicer….the more likely that you really weren’t “all in” on the direction the party was now headed. There were consequences for that. To be accepted by the party required embracing the darkest parts of yourself. Period.

When I not only left the republican party, but also made it widely known that I had, I knew the blow back would be significant. It was. However, if any human being was equipped for that, it was me. My skin is as tough as steel.

The REAL reward, was the one I felt inside, and came after I had made my departure. It didn’t come from other people. It was the knowledge that I had recognized the cost-not only to myself, but to society-of remaining….and evolving, daily, into a worse and worse version of myself.

It wasn’t “like” leaving a cult. It WAS leaving a cult. That’s exactly what it was. It was the right thing, then…and it would be the right thing, now, for anyone currently on the fence.

Go ahead and “jump.” This is one case, where the grass actually IS greener on the other side. Yes, it still needs to be mowed, and you have to keep up with the weeds…but the significantly higher quality of the grass beneath your feet…can be recognized immediately. You’ll want to kick your shoes off…and enjoy walking on it barefooted.
1:52 PM · Apr 18, 2023

Why you should file taxes even if not required to do so


April 18, 2023

 We have had a couple of examples at our Tax-Aide location that showed why the IRS and AARP now recommend that people file their taxes even if not required to do so. In both cases, their spouse died and when we e-filed their taxes, their returns were rejected because someone else had filed using their spouses SSN for dependents.


Monday, April 17, 2023

Russians boasted that just 1% of fake social profiles are caught, leak shows




By Joseph Menn
Updated April 16, 2023 at 1:34 p.m. EDT|Published April 16, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. EDT

The Russian government has become far more successful at manipulating social media and search engine rankings than previously known, boosting lies about Ukraine’s military and the side effects of vaccines with hundreds of thousands of fake online accounts, according to documents recently leaked on the chat app Discord.

The Russian operators of those accounts boast that they are detected by social networks only about 1 percent of the time, one document says


Twitter employees also say they worry that Musk’s cutbacks have hurt the platform’s ability to fight influence operations. Propaganda campaigns and hate speech have increased since Musk took over the site in October, according to employees and outside researchers. Russian misinformation promoters even bought Musk’s new blue-check verifications.

Many of the 10 current and former intelligence and tech safety specialists interviewed for this article cautioned that the Russian agency whose claims helped form the basis for the leaked document may have exaggerated its success rate.

But even if Russia’s fake accounts escaped detection only 90 percent of the time instead of 99 percent, that would indicate Russia has become far more proficient at disseminating its views to unknowing consumers than in 2016, when it combined bot accounts with human propagandists and hacking to try to influence the course of the U.S. presidential election, the experts said.


“Bots view, ‘like,’ subscribe and repost content and manipulate view counts to move content up in search results and recommendation lists,” the summary says. It adds that in other cases, Fabrika sends content directly to ordinary and unsuspecting users after gleaning their details such as email addresses and phone numbers from databases.

The intelligence document says the Russian influence campaigns’ goals included demoralizing Ukrainians and exploiting divisions among Western allies.


A separate top-secret document from the same Discord trove summarized six specific influence campaigns that were operational or planned for later this year by a new Russian organization, the Center for Special Operations in Cyberspace. The new group is mainly targeting Ukraine’s regional allies, that document said.

Those campaigns included one designed to spread the idea that U.S. officials were hiding vaccine side effects, intended to stoke divisions in the West.


U.S. arrests 2 for allegedly operating secret Chinese police outpost in New York




 By Robert Legare
Updated on: April 17, 2023 / 7:56 PM

The FBI arrested two defendants on charges that they set up and operated an illegal Chinese police station in the middle of New York City in order to influence and intimidate dissidents critical of the Chinese government in the U.S., the Justice Department announced Monday.

"Harry" Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan are charged with conspiring to act as agents of the Chinese government and obstruction of justice. In a 30-page affidavit accompanying a criminal complaint, an FBI agent alleged that the defendants established a secret police station under the direction of China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) in a Manhattan office building.


Saturday, April 15, 2023

PTSD linked to increased risk of ovarian cancer




September 5, 2019

Women who experienced six or more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in life had a twofold greater risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with women who never had any PTSD symptoms, according to a new study from researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Moffitt Cancer Center.

The findings indicate that having higher levels of PTSD symptoms, such as being easily startled by ordinary noises or avoiding reminders of the traumatic experience, can be associated with increased risks of ovarian cancer even decades after women experience a traumatic event. The study also found that the link between PTSD and ovarian cancer remained for the most aggressive forms of ovarian cancer.

The study was published in Cancer Research, on September 5, 2019.


Friday, April 14, 2023

Analysis shows Russian and Chinese-backed efforts to sow division after Trump indictment




 Apr 12, 2023 6:25 PM EDT



Laura Barron-Lopez:

New research shared first with "NewsHour" shows a covert effort by Russian- and Chinese-backed actors to interfere with American news and opinions about Trump's arrest.

The analysis comes from the global security and intelligence firm Soufan Center and the data science firm Limbik. Here is what they learned.

As news of the indictment broke and Trump was arraigned, the volume of online posts about the former president spiked, going from the typical 26,000 posts every day to more than 448,000. Helping drive that engagement were automated fake accounts known as bots.

These accounts are closely linked to the Russian and Chinese governments, operating with the tacit approval of the state. They share Russian and Chinese state media articles across multiple platforms or retweet them. And, on Twitter, they amplified support for Trump during the arraignment.


 Millions of people across the world post on social media about news every day all the time. Why should people be alarmed about these findings?

Colin Clarke, Senior Research Fellow, The Soufan Center:

Well, I think there's a couple of reasons. And I will give you two in particular.

One is the intent behind the actors. These are Russian- and Chinese-linked actors that are seeking to divide the United States. They want to weaken the U.S. And they do that by driving debate on divisive topics. Also, the political environment that we're currently in, the current climate is highly partisan and polarized. And so it's tailor-made for these types of interventions.

The second is that they're pushing their own narratives. They're attempting to achieve their own objectives, and doing so by spreading false information that's now — then gets picked up by American citizens and passed along.


Laura Barron-Lopez:

And, Zach, we saw Russia, as I just said, do this in 2016. Specifically, Senate Intelligence found that — in 2016, that Russia targeted African Americans on social media to create racial divisions.


Thursday, April 13, 2023

The ‘Shared Psychosis’ of Donald Trump and His Loyalists




Forensic psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee explains the outgoing president’s pathological appeal and how to wean people from it

By Tanya Lewis on January 11, 2021

The violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building last week, incited by President Donald Trump, serves as the grimmest moment in one of the darkest chapters in the nation’s history. Yet the rioters’ actions—and Trump’s own role in, and response to, them—come as little surprise to many, particularly those who have been studying the president’s mental fitness and the psychology of his most ardent followers since he took office.

One such person is Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist and president of the World Mental Health Coalition.* Lee led a group of psychiatrists, psychologists and other specialists who questioned Trump’s mental fitness for office in a book that she edited called The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. In doing so, Lee and her colleagues strongly rejected the American Psychiatric Association’s modification of a 1970s-era guideline, known as the Goldwater rule, that discouraged psychiatrists from giving a professional opinion about public figures who they have not examined in person. “Whenever the Goldwater rule is mentioned, we should refer back to the Declaration of Geneva, which mandates that physicians speak up against destructive governments,” Lee says. “This declaration was created in response to the experience of Nazism.”

Lee recently wrote Profile of a Nation: Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul, a psychological assessment of the president against the backdrop of his supporters and the country as a whole.


What attracts people to Trump? What is their animus or driving force?

The reasons are multiple and varied, but in my recent public-service book, Profile of a Nation, I have outlined two major emotional drives: narcissistic symbiosis and shared psychosis. Narcissistic symbiosis refers to the developmental wounds that make the leader-follower relationship magnetically attractive. The leader, hungry for adulation to compensate for an inner lack of self-worth, projects grandiose omnipotence—while the followers, rendered needy by societal stress or developmental injury, yearn for a parental figure. When such wounded individuals are given positions of power, they arouse similar pathology in the population that creates a “lock and key” relationship.

“Shared psychosis”—which is also called “folie à millions” [“madness for millions”] when occurring at the national level or “induced delusions”—refers to the infectiousness of severe symptoms that goes beyond ordinary group psychology. When a highly symptomatic individual is placed in an influential position, the person’s symptoms can spread through the population through emotional bonds, heightening existing pathologies and inducing delusions, paranoia and propensity for violence—even in previously healthy individuals. The treatment is removal of exposure.


Where does the hatred some of his supporters display come from? And what can we do to promote healing?

In Profile of a Nation, I outline the many causes that create his followership. But there is important psychological injury that arises from relative—not absolute—socioeconomic deprivation. Yes, there is great injury, anger and redirectable energy for hatred, which Trump harnessed and stoked for his manipulation and use. The emotional bonds he has created facilitate shared psychosis at a massive scale. It is a natural consequence of the conditions we have set up. For healing, I usually recommend three steps: (1) Removal of the offending agent (the influential person with severe symptoms). (2) Dismantling systems of thought control—common in advertising but now also heavily adopted by politics. And (3) fixing the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to poor collective mental health in the first place.


How can we avert future insurrection attempts or acts of violence?

Violence is the end product of a long process, so prevention is key. Structural violence, or inequality, is the most potent stimulant of behavioral violence. And reducing inequality in all forms—economic, racial and gender—will help toward preventing violence.


Do you have any advice for people who do not support Trump but have supporters of him or “mini-Trumps” in their lives?

This is often very difficult because the relationship between Trump and his supporters is an abusive one, as an author of the 2017 book I edited, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, presciently pointed out. When the mind is hijacked for the benefit of the abuser, it becomes no longer a matter of presenting facts or appealing to logic. Removing Trump from power and influence will be healing in itself. But, I advise, first, not to confront [his supporters’] beliefs, for it will only rouse resistance. Second, persuasion should not be the goal but change of the circumstance that led to their faulty beliefs. Third, one should maintain one’s own bearing and mental health, because people who harbor delusional narratives tend to bulldoze over reality in their attempt to deny that their own narrative is false. As for mini-Trumps, it is important, above all, to set firm boundaries, to limit contact or even to leave the relationship, if possible. Because I specialize in treating violent individuals, I always believe there is something that can be done to treat them, but they seldom present for treatment unless forced.

Billionaire Harlan Crow Bought Property From Clarence Thomas. The Justice Didn’t Disclose the Deal.

 You've probably already heard about the luxury trips Thomas took with Crow.




by Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan and Alex Mierjeski
April 13, 2:20 p.m. EDT 

In 2014, one of Texas billionaire Harlan Crow’s companies purchased a string of properties on a quiet residential street in Savannah, Georgia. It wasn’t a marquee acquisition for the real estate magnate, just an old single-story home and two vacant lots down the road. What made it noteworthy were the people on the other side of the deal: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his relatives.

The transaction marks the first known instance of money flowing from the Republican megadonor to the Supreme Court justice. The Crow company bought the properties for $133,363 from three co-owners — Thomas, his mother and the family of Thomas’ late brother, according to a state tax document and a deed dated Oct. 15, 2014, filed at the Chatham County courthouse.

The purchase put Crow in an unusual position: He now owned the house where the justice’s elderly mother was living. Soon after the sale was completed, contractors began work on tens of thousands of dollars of improvements on the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, which looks out onto a patch of orange trees. The renovations included a carport, a repaired roof and a new fence and gates, according to city permit records and blueprints.

A federal disclosure law passed after Watergate requires justices and other officials to disclose the details of most real estate sales over $1,000. Thomas never disclosed his sale of the Savannah properties. That appears to be a violation of the law, four ethics law experts told ProPublica.


The revelation of a direct financial transaction between Thomas and Crow casts their relationship in a new light. ProPublica reported last week that Thomas has accepted luxury travel from Crow virtually every year for decades, including private jet flights, international cruises on the businessman’s superyacht and regular stays at his private resort in the Adirondacks. Crow has long been influential in conservative politics and has spent millions on efforts to shape the law and the judiciary.


It’s unclear if Crow paid fair market value for the Thomas properties. Crow also bought several other properties on the street and paid significantly less than his deal with the Thomases. One example: In 2013, he bought a pair of properties on the same block — a vacant lot and a small house — for a total of $40,000.



When will fossil fuesl be depleted.


Fossil fuels are used for more than energy. 




If we keep burning fossil fuels at our current rate, it is generally estimated that all our fossil fuels will be depleted by 2060. 


If we don’t find any additional oil reserves, it’s estimated that our known oil deposits will be gone by 2052. In 2018, the demand for oil rose by 1.3% - which is almost double the average annual rate seen over the 10 years prior. With demand predominately driven by the transport sector, our oil reserves are running out faster than our other fossil fuels. In fact, if we don’t find any additional oil reserves, it’s estimated that our known oil deposits will be gone by 2052.


Coal and natural gas are expected to last a little longer than oil. If we continue to use these fossil fuels at the current rate without finding additional reserves, it is expected that coal and natural gas will last until 2060. However, the consumption of natural gas continues to grow considerably. China alone accounts for over a third of this growth, and building and industry are responsible for 80% of the rise in global demand.

Despite seeing a decline in demand during 2015 and 2016, 2018 saw a 0.7% increase in global demand for coal – mainly due to a rise in coal-fired electricity generation in Asia. Renowned as the most polluting fossil fuel, efforts to reduce the usage of coal have been the most noticeable. In fact, in May 2019,the UK was powered without coal for nearly two weeks – the first time the fuel hasn’t been used for this long since the 19th century.


Thursday, April 06, 2023

Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire



 by Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott and Alex Mierjeski   April 6, 5 a.m. EDT


In late June 2019, right after the U.S. Supreme Court released its final opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas boarded a large private jet headed to Indonesia. He and his wife were going on vacation: nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants and a private chef.

If Thomas had chartered the plane and the 162-foot yacht himself, the total cost of the trip could have exceeded $500,000. Fortunately for him, that wasn’t necessary: He was on vacation with real estate magnate and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, who owned the jet — and the yacht, too.

For more than two decades, Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them, documents and interviews show. A public servant who has a salary of $285,000, he has vacationed on Crow’s superyacht around the globe. He flies on Crow’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet. He has gone with Crow to the Bohemian Grove, the exclusive California all-male retreat, and to Crow’s sprawling ranch in East Texas. And Thomas typically spends about a week every summer at Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks.

The extent and frequency of Crow’s apparent gifts to Thomas have no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court.

These trips appeared nowhere on Thomas’ financial disclosures. His failure to report the flights appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts, two ethics law experts said. He also should have disclosed his trips on the yacht, these experts said.


Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer who served in administrations of both parties, said Thomas “seems to have completely disregarded his higher ethical obligations.”

“When a justice’s lifestyle is being subsidized by the rich and famous, it absolutely corrodes public trust,” said Canter, now at the watchdog group CREW. “Quite frankly, it makes my heart sink.”


A major Republican donor for decades, Crow has given more than $10 million in publicly disclosed political contributions. He’s also given to groups that keep their donors secret — how much of this so-called dark money he’s given and to whom are not fully known. “I don’t disclose what I’m not required to disclose,” Crow once told the Times.

Crow has long supported efforts to move the judiciary to the right. He has donated to the Federalist Society and given millions of dollars to groups dedicated to tort reform and conservative jurisprudence. AEI and the Hoover Institution publish scholarship advancing conservative legal theories, and fellows at the think tanks occasionally file amicus briefs with the Supreme Court.


Thomas’ approach to ethics has already attracted public attention. Last year, Thomas didn’t recuse himself from cases that touched on the involvement of his wife, Ginni, in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. While his decision generated outcry, it could not be appealed.


Crow has deep connections in conservative politics. The heir to a real estate fortune, Crow oversees his family’s business empire and recently named Marxism as his greatest fear. He was an early patron of the powerful anti-tax group Club for Growth and has been on the board of AEI for over 25 years. He also sits on the board of the Hoover Institution, another conservative think tank.

A major Republican donor for decades, Crow has given more than $10 million in publicly disclosed political contributions. He’s also given to groups that keep their donors secret — how much of this so-called dark money he’s given and to whom are not fully known. “I don’t disclose what I’m not required to disclose,” Crow once told the Times.

Crow has long supported efforts to move the judiciary to the right. He has donated to the Federalist Society and given millions of dollars to groups dedicated to tort reform and conservative jurisprudence. AEI and the Hoover Institution publish scholarship advancing conservative legal theories, and fellows at the think tanks occasionally file amicus briefs with the Supreme Court.


 Thomas didn’t report any of the trips ProPublica identified on his annual financial disclosures. Ethics experts said the law clearly requires disclosure for private jet flights and Thomas appears to have violated it.


Justices are generally required to publicly report all gifts worth more than $415, defined as “anything of value” that isn’t fully reimbursed. There are exceptions: If someone hosts a justice at their own property, free food and lodging don’t have to be disclosed. That would exempt dinner at a friend’s house. The exemption never applied to transportation, such as private jet flights, experts said, a fact that was made explicit in recently updated filing instructions for the judiciary.

Two ethics law experts told ProPublica that Thomas’ yacht cruises, a form of transportation, also required disclosure.

“If Justice Thomas received free travel on private planes and yachts, failure to report the gifts is a violation of the disclosure law,” said Kedric Payne, senior director for ethics at the nonprofit government watchdog Campaign Legal Center. (Thomas himself once reported receiving a private jet trip from Crow, on his disclosure for 1997.)