July 26, 2017

In 26 hours, 29 false or misleading claims by Trump

Narcissist in Chief

Huffington Post - President Donald Trump told supporters in Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday night that “it’s so easy” for him to act presidential - it’s just not what’s required for him to accomplish his goals.

In fact, he said, he could act more presidential than any other former U.S. president, except for “the late, great Abraham Lincoln.”

“Sometimes, they say, ‘He doesn’t act presidential,’” Trump said of his critics. “And I say, ’Hey look ? great schools, smart guy ? it’s so easy to act presidential. But that’s not going to get it done. ... With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office. That I can tell you. It’s real easy.”

Viagra five times more expensive to Pentagon than treating the transgendered

Washington Post - "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” the president wrote.

While Trump didn't offer any numbers to support this claim, a Defense Department-commissioned study published last year by the Rand Corp. provides exhaustive estimates of transgender service members' potential medical costs.

Considering the prevalence of transgender servicemembers among the active duty military and the typical health-care costs for gender-transition-related medical treatment, the Rand study estimated that these treatments would cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.

“The implication is that even in the most extreme scenario that we were able to identify … we expect only a 0.13-percent ($8.4 million out of $6.2 billion) increase in health care spending,” Rand's authors concluded.

By contrast, total military spending on erectile dysfunction medicines amounts to $84 million annually, according to an analysis by the Military Times — 10 times the cost of annual transition-related medical care for active duty transgender servicemembers.

The military spends $41.6 million annually on Viagra alone, according to the Military Times analysis — roughly five times the estimated spending on transition-related medical care for transgender troops.

Trump used anniversary of military desegregation to ban transgender persons in mlitary

Time - When President Donald Trump said  that transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the armed forces "in any capacity," observers quickly noted that the tweeted announcement came exactly 69 years to the day after President Harry Truman signed an executive order that would lead to the desegregation of the military.

The need for such an action, declared Truman's July 26, 1948, order, could be traced to the idea that "it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country's defense."

The order — which came after growing advocacy from African-American leaders and civil-rights groups — also established the creation of the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. The committee was tasked with carrying out the order, which demanded "equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin."

In his announcement on Wednesday, Trump said the U.S. Military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” In 1948, some military officials similarly pushed back against Truman’s order in the interest of “military efficiency.” But, in its final report, published in 1950, Truman’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services concluded that “inequality had contributed to inefficiency.”

Civil liberties links

Civil liberties & justice
Drugs: marijuana
Homeland Security
Clues your country may be becoming a fascist state
The militarization of civilian America
The true power of juries
Letter to a spook
How to stay free
Of pink suits, golf balls & civil liberties Letter to Thomas Jefferson Mississippi summer 1964
Backing off of hate
The biggest threat to America: ourselves
Final thoughts
September 12, 2001
Follow the limousines

American Civil Liberties Union
Constitutional Accountability Center
National Lawyers Guild
Gun talk
On guns
Firearm insurance
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Project on Government Oversight
Stand Against Spying

How to reframe our college system

Yes Magazine - If the United States is looking for alternatives to what some would call a failing funding model for college affordability, the solution may lie in looking further back than the current system, which has been in place since the 1930s.

Tuition-free education can only be realized if college education is again reframed as a public good.

In the 19th century, communities and the state would foot the bill for college tuition because students were contributing to society. They served the common good by teaching high school for a certain number of years or by taking leadership positions within local communities. A few marginal programs with similar missions (ROTC and Teach for America) still exist, but students participating in these programs are very much in the minority.

Instead, higher education today seems to be about what college can do for you. It’s not about what college students can do for society.

Tuition-free education can only be realized if college education is again reframed as a public good. For this, students, communities, donors and politicians would have to enter into a new social contract that exchanges tuition-free education for public services.

Sea level rise to cause departure from San Francisco bay area

Planetizen -"Coastal neighborhoods in several Bay Area cities are likely to face such frequent flooding from rising sea levels over the next century that residents will simply pack up and leave, according to a new study of the effects of climate change," reports Kurtis Alexander.

Those findings are from a report issued earlier this week by the Union of Concerned Scientists [pdf], which is "the first nationwide effort to identify the point at which coastal communities face the no-win decision of having to flee or fight sea level rise."

The report assumes a "point of no return"—when "at least 10 percent of a community experiences flooding 26 days a year, or one day every two weeks," explains Alexander. "Already, more than 90 communities across the nation have hit a point of disruption that’s driving people away […] Eighty more are expected to reach that threshold within 20 years if global warming continues at a moderate rate."

DC leads the way in AIDS prevention

Pew Trusts - Ten years ago, Washington, D.C., was on the verge of a public health disaster: It had the highest reported rates of HIV in the country. And in a city of 588,000, 1,333 people tested positive for HIV in 2007 alone. By the time they were tested, most had full-blown AIDS.

Back then, city officials acknowledged that they didn’t have a complete picture of the problem. But they estimated that as many as one in 20 residents were infected with the disease, rivaling rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We had an epidemic that wasn’t being controlled by any stretch of the imagination,” said Marsha Martin, who was then the city’s director of HIV/AIDS programs.

But today, even as the city’s population has grown to 681,000, its infection rates have dropped dramatically. In 2016, 347 people in the nation’s capital tested positive for HIV, down three-quarters from 2007.

D.C.’s success mirrors national trends; HIV rates are on the decline around the country. But the tools city officials used to tackle the epidemic are being held up as a model for the rest of the country, AIDS researchers say.

“There are things that D.C. has done that are unique and ahead of the curve,” said Greg Millet, a vice president at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. “All of this is part of a good news story for what’s happening in the rest of the country.”

How did D.C. do it? A decade ago, city health officials stepped up AIDS awareness campaigns and pushed to get more residents tested. They created a “red carpet” program, immediately linking anyone who tested positive to care, whether or not they had health insurance. They stepped up condom distribution and began a robust needle exchange program. Since then, the city has almost eliminated new infections from IV drug use. Finally, in 2014, officials increased the use of PrEP, a drug that prevents the transmission of HIV.

The city’s goal now: to end the epidemic by 2020. In December, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the city’s aggressive “90-90-90-50” plan, based on UNAIDS goals and the Obama administration’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

The plan sets specific targets to be met by 2020: 90 percent of the HIV positive people in the district will know their status; 90 percent of people diagnosed with HIV will be in treatment; 90 percent of residents who are in treatment will reach viral load suppression, which means they can’t transmit the disease to others; and new HIV infection rates will be cut in half.

Today, the D.C. Department of Health estimates that 86 percent of people with HIV know their status; 76 percent are in treatment; 82 percent are virally suppressed.

Degenerative brain disease problems found in 110 of 111 NFL players

Science Slashdot - A new study published  in the journal American Medical Association found that 110 out of 111 brains of those who played in the NFL had degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). NPR reports: In the study, researchers examined the brains of 202 deceased former football players at all levels. Nearly 88 percent of all the brains, 177, had CTE. Three of 14 who had played only in high school had CTE, 48 of 53 college players, 9 of 14 semiprofessional players, and 7 of 8 Canadian Football League players. CTE was not found in the brains of two who played football before high school

Look who's talking about single payer

Guess the institution that published this essay in its online journal. (No, it wasn't one of  the muddled middle media)

 Ironically, as congressional Republicans have been trying to replace the Affordable Care Act, the ACA’s popularity is at an all-time high, and the majority of Americans now believe that it is the federal government’s responsibility to provide health care for all Americans. This shift in sentiment suggests that a single-payer system — a “Medicare for all” — may soon be a politically viable solution to America’s health care woes.


July 25, 2017

People come to support of Snopes

BBC One of the most established myth-busting websites raised more than $500,000 from public donations in a single day after becoming embroiled in a bitter legal dispute.

Long before "fake news" became a common refrain, there was Snopes. The site was established in 1994 with the aim of debunking internet conspiracy theories and is now visited by millions each month.

But recently the site has run into significant problems. Snopes claims that its funding stream has been blocked by the agency that controls its online advertising. An open letter posted on the website yesterday claimed that its advertising revenue, its only source of income, had been cut off - leaving Snopes without enough money to pay staff and legal costs.

Trumpies can't just stop enforcing regulations says appeals court

Boing Boing - Trump wants to dismantle America's labor, environmental and safety regulations, but to do so, he needs to hold hearings, post notices, collect feedback and go through the whole long, cautious process of changing agency rules for the EPA and others. Instead, the Trump administration has decided to just pretend the regulations don't have the force of law, and to delay implementing them, sometimes indefinitely, without doing any of the legal work that would lend a whiff of legitimacy to the tactic.

But a panel of DC appeals court judges have thrown a monkeywrench in this monkeywrenching, ruling that swamp-gator Scott Pruitt, head of Trump's EPA, was wrong to delay the rule limiting methane emissions from fracking rigs. There are at least 39 Obama-era rules that Trump's administration of billionaires has refused to enforce, and the DC Appeals Court decision is a kind of starter's pistol for activist groups who are about to start racking up win after win after win....

Trump's lie of the day

Guardians of Democracy - Addressing the 2017 National Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, President Trump, who was not a Boy Scout, got thousands of Boy Scouts to boo former President Obama, who was a Boy Scout, by claiming Obama had never attended the National Scout Jamboree, even though he addressed the event in 2010 with a special video message in honor of the organization’s 100th anniversary.

Just a reminder

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is the most ethnic and gender prejudiced attorney general we have had in decades, but he is not reactionary enough for Donald Trump.

Stupid Republican tricks

Portland Press Herald - A Texas congressman late last week criticized opposition to the failed Senate health care bill, taking specific aim at “female senators from the Northeast,” and suggesting that if they were male and from his state, he would challenge them to a duel.

Although he didn’t mention her by name, Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Republican from Corpus Christi, Texas, appeared to single out Maine’s senior U.S. senator, Susan Collins, the only female Republican senator in the Northeast.

How the left can win in the South

Real pay for CEOs rose 937% since 1978, real worker wages up 11%

Popular Resistance - A new report, published by the Economic Policy Institute, shows that while wages for American workers have essentially remained stagnant for decades, CEO pay has soared at an “outrageous” clip.

A study by the Pew Research Center in 2014 found that economic analyses show a “lack of meaningful wage growth.” Looking at five decades worth of government wage data, PRC showed that wages have been flat or even falling since the 1970s, regardless of changes in the economy and job markets.

As PRC states:

“After adjusting for inflation, today’s average hourly wage has just about the same purchasing power as it did in 1979, following a long slide in the 1980s and early 1990s and bumpy, inconsistent growth since then. In fact, in real terms the average wage peaked more than 40 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 has the same purchasing power as $22.41 would today.”

Now EPI’s Lawrence Mishel and Jessica Schieder have found that between the years of 1978 and 2016, CEO pay rose 937 percent. Over that same period, worker compensation grew by a measly 11.2 percent.

The CEOs of America’s largest firms made an average of $15.6 million, 271 times the annual average pay of a typical American worker.

According to the report, “The average CEO in a large firm now earns 5.33 times the annual earnings of the average very-high-wage earner (earner in the top 0.1 percent).”

Trump plans to dumb down geological information

Inside Climate News - A U.S. Geological Survey program coordinator has sent an alert to colleagues around the world, warning that the Trump administration's proposed 2018 budget cuts, if approved, will undermine important data-gathering programs and cooperative studies in areas including forests, volcanoes, flooding, wildfires, extreme precipitation and climate change.

The email went to 500 researchers on June 19 to give them time to comment on the proposed changes and prepare. In it, Debra Willard, coordinator for the USGS Climate Research and Development Program, wrote that the cuts "would reduce or eliminate the availability of current data and collaborations between the USGS, other agencies and universities."

The reductions threaten as many as 40 programs involved in monitoring the speed and severity of climate change impacts and the effects of other land use changes, Willard said.

The town that is rebuilding iutself with cooperatives

Does it pay to interrupt someone

improbable Research - What might you gain (or lose) by interrupting someone? The question has been experimentally examined by Professor Sally Dew Farley, of the Psychology department at the University of Baltimore, US. Experimental subjects who had been asked to discuss an article were systematically interrupted by confederates – revealing the following :

• The Upside for the Interrupters : “Interrupters gained in status and targets of interruption lost status.”
• The Downside for the Interrupters : “As expected, interrupters, especially female interrupters, were liked less than those who did not interrupt.”

Source: ‘Attaining Status at the Expense of Likeability: Pilfering Power Through Conversational Interruption.’ in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, Volume 32, Number 4, 241-260
Further resources: 

July 24, 2017

Massachusetts high court rules against holding uncharged immigrants for ICE

NPR - The highest court in Massachusetts ruled that local law enforcement cannot keep people in custody solely at the request of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The practice, often known as an "ICE detainer," enabled federal authorities to take a longer look at the immigration status of people whom they suspect might be in the country illegally, even if they were otherwise free to leave.

"This could mean the individual's charges have been dismissed, they've posted bail or their jail sentence has been completed," Shannon Dooling of member station WBUR explains. "The detainer — which is not the same as an arrest warrant, which requires proof of probable cause and a judge's signature — gives ICE up to two days to look into a person's immigration status and potentially pursue deportation."

But the state's laws provide "no authority for Massachusetts court officers to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a Federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from State custody," the Supreme Judicial Court said in its unanimous decision.

And because deportation is a civil process, "not a criminal prosecution," the court appeared skeptical that state police — not just court officers — could accede to an ICE detainer either: "Conspicuously absent from our common law is any authority (in the absence of a statute) for police officers to arrest generally for civil matters, let alone authority to arrest specifically for Federal civil immigration matters."

Rome faces water rationing

Guardian - Scarce rain and chronically leaky aqueducts have combined to put Romans at risk of drastic water rationing as soon as this week.

Sky TG24 TV meteorologists noted on Sunday that Italy had experienced one of its driest springs in some 60 years and that some parts of the country had seen rainfall totals 80% below normal. Among the hardest-hit regions was Sardinia, which is seeking natural disaster status.


sick transit, gloria‏  Didn't think it was possible for a human being to look like a reverse subprime mortgage until Anthony Scaramucci became a public figure

Police take more stuff from citizens than burglars do

Washington Post - In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. Martin Armstrong pointed this out at his blog, Armstrong Economics, last week.

Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.

Maine forms socialist party

Press Herald Socialist Party of Maine held its founding convention at the Viles Arboretum, during which they unified the Socialist Party of Eastern Maine and the Socialist Party of Southern Maine into a statewide party and started to map out strategies for running for office.

“Because we believe in democratic socialism, we take both the democratic and the socialism very seriously,” said Tom MacMillan, one of the organizers of Sunday’s event. Democratic socialism means putting people in communities in control of their lives, he said.

“In their workplaces that means promoting worker-owned cooperatives. That’s a good example. Democracy at work, democracy at the ballot box and democracy in society. We think that regular people can control their lives better than their bosses can or by the owners of big companies. If factories are owned by their workers, they are not going to be sending jobs overseas, because that’s their jobs. They (are) not going to be displacing themselves.”

Urban links

City news

How Trumnp is already damaging healthcare

Promises Trump hasn't kept

July 23, 2017

What Scaramucci use to say about Trump

Jazz break

Latino unemployment at lowest level since 1970s

National Institute for Latino Policy - The unemployment rate for Hispanic or Latino workers fell to 4.8 percent last month, the lowest level since 1970s. Meanwhile, the rate for black Americans was 7.1 percent, the second-lowest monthly rate, according to the latest Labor Department numbers reported on in The Wall Street Journal. However, both June lows are higher than the 3.8 percent rate for whites and the 4.4 percent overall rate, the Journal reported.

The gains among the two groups have come while the labor-force participation rate for each group also rose modestly, the Journal reported, suggesting the fall in unemployment coincides with new entrants to the labor market finding jobs and not people exiting the workforce.

Black links

Black news
Movement for Black Lives policy platform
Ethnic relations: Beyond law and virture
Film and facts: The Selma controversy
Making cities black & poor
Mississippi Summer 1964
The other side of Memphis: Mississippi in 1965
Integration of Glen Echo amusement park
How affirmative action debate could have gone better
Marion Barry, Ronald Reagan and the rise and fall of black power
How to get along with other Americans
How minorities change America
Black Lives Matter
Color of Change
Ferguson action
Urban League
Other groups
Black Agenda Report
Black Press USA
Bruce Dixon
Glenn Ford
Margaret Kimberly
Make It Plain
New America Media
Mark Thompson
Your Black World

Heatwaves will affect many airflights

Inside Climate News -A study published Thursday in the journal Climatic Change looked at 19 airports around the world and found that rising temperatures will make it harder for airplanes to take off. During especially hot periods, airplanes will likely have to reduce the amount of weight they can carry in order to get airborne. 

"Heat waves are going to become much more frequent and intense in the future," said Radley Horton, a climatologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and co-author of the report. "We're already seeing planes unable to take off at full weight."

The situation will get especially troublesome at certain airports, including New York's LaGuardia and Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National, which have shorter runways, and the Dubai International Airport, where temperatures regularly hover above 110 degrees.

More on pardon powers

Experts raise okay blood pressure level for elders

Washington Post - If you’re unsure what your blood pressure levels should be, new advice from the American College of Physicians (and the American Academy of Family Physicians may help...If you are 60 or older and have no other cardiovascular risk factors (diabetes, high cholesterol, a smoking habit), these guidelines recommend maintaining a systolic reading below 150 mm/Hg.

Clinton investigation found that presidents could be indicted

A few reasons for banning Justin Bieber

China banned Justin Bieber for "bad behavior." Salon provides a useful list of some examples