October 1, 2016

Philadelphia Orchestra strikes

Philly - Friday night, a crowd of about 1,000 sat in Verizon Hall waiting for the orchestra to appear for the scheduled start of the Opening Night Gala.

But no Philadelphia Orchestra appeared on stage. Unbeknownst to most in the audience, the 96 musicians and two librarians belonging to American Federation of Musicians Local 77 had decided to go out on strike about an hour before curtain time.

Finally, about 20 minutes after the scheduled start, orchestra president Allison B. Vulgamore came out on stage to say that no labor agreement was in place for "one of the world's greatest orchestras, if not the greatest," and the performance would not happen.


Last-minute efforts to save the concert were launched backstage. Both sides tried to hammer out an agreement even well after the 7 p.m. curtain time, but those talks failed.

When the entire audience had filed out, musicians came out from backstage into the lobby of the Kimmel Center carrying picket signs. Audience members applauded and cheered them, while several philanthropists and members of local arts boards booed.

"Shame on you," shouted a couple of elderly donors at musicians, who walked past them stony-faced.

Percentage of Americans who attend church regularly . . . by state

Morning Line

Based on recent polls
 
Nationally, Hillary Clinton is one point ahead of Trump, a statistical tie. This this is 3 points better than her previous worst position vs Trump. Her current average percentage is 42%, Her campaign range has been 38-46%

Clinton is leading with 153 of the needed 270 electoral votes, down 126 from her best of 275 and 19 better than her worst. Another 191 electoral votes are possibly Democratic. Only 62 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 168 are possible. This would still leave him 45 votes short.

Prigs in the lunchroom



From our overstocked archives

Sam Smith, 2011 -
The Department of Agriculture is proposing to limit the amount of potatoes available in school lunches to one cup a week in a not so nice example of liberal bossiness of the sort that produces little other than fewer votes for Democrats in elections.

Liberals often seem broadly unconscious of the fact that people's politics are affected by attitude as well as by policy and telling people what they can eat or restricting a perfectly healthy food is about as dumb a political move one can come up with.

Besides, the science isn't there for the Obama administration's gastronomic self -righteousness.

Consider this item from Irish Central last month

|||| Obesity is now a major problem in Ireland - over 60 per cent of adults aged under 65 are either obese or overweight according to a new survey. The National Adult Nutrition Survey has also revealed that obesity rates amongst Irish men have tripled over the last 20 years. Male obesity has risen from eight per cent in 1990 to 26 per cent in men under the age of 65. Female obesity was at 13 per cent 20 years ago and now stands at 21 per cent. ||||

Since potatoes have been a staple of the Irish diet for centuries, clearly they are an extraordinarily weak suspect in the rise in obesity during just the past two decades.

To the extent that potatoes are to blame it is most likely because of a change in the way they are cooked i.e. fried vs. baked or mashed. What might be called the Americanization of food can affect other items as well such as shifting from boiled meats and vegetables - another Irish staple - to fried and broiled.

But in the end we really don't know. And one of the worst things any government can do is to pass rigid rules about things it doesn't understand. Not only is it bad policy and bad science, it makes people mad. The people who do it come off as bossy prigs and often lose the next election.

The end of nationhood

Common Dreams - Today, of the 100 wealthiest economic entities in the world, 69 are now corporations and only 31 countries," wrote Global Justice Now campaigns and policy officer Aisha Dodwell. "This is up from 63 to 37 a year ago. At this rate, within a generation we will be living in a world entirely dominated by giant corporations."

Indeed, multinational behemoths Shell, Apple, and Walmart each rake in more revenue than the world's 180 "poorest" countries—a list that includes Ireland, Greece, Israel, South Africa, Vietnam, and Colombia—combined.

And the top ten largest companies have a whopping combined value of $2.9 trillion, which is larger than China's economy.

Walmart, the biggest corporate entity in the world, is valued at over $482 billion, which makes it wealthier than Spain, Australia, and the Netherlands, individually.

While they privatize everything from education and health to border controls and prisons, they stash their profits away in secret offshore accounts. And while they have unrivaled access to decision makers they avoid democratic processes by setting up secret courts enabling them to bypass all judicial systems applicable to people. Meanwhile their raison d'etre of perpetual growth in a finite world is causing environmental destruction and driving climate change.

words & writing links

Words & writing news
 
ESSAYS ON WRITING
Post literate America
Words & meaning
SomeRulesForWriting L.L.C. (SRFW)!
A few thoughts about writing
Words and cruelty
What's a humanities?
Cliche challenge
Harder to read than Ulysses
Just words on words
The politics of symbols
PLC? WDYMBT?
 
 
OTHER
Pocket paradigms
Quotations

Resaurants voted most popular industry

September 30, 2016

Pittsburgh Symphony musicians go on strike

Arts Journal

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians are on strike after unanimously rejecting calls for a 15-percent pay cuts, pension changes and staffing cuts they say are proposed by management. Musicians are actively protesting in front of Heinz Hall in downtown Pittsburgh.

52% of Californians support legalized marijuana

Why Trump likes the Fifth Amendment even more than the Second

Huffington Post

height of his bitter divorce from his first wife, Donald Trump was carrying on a very public extramarital affair with a former beauty queen, Marla Maples.

As part of the couple’s divorce proceedings, Ivana Trump’s lawyers asked him under oath about his dealings with other women and whether he had been faithful to his wife.

Instead of answering, Donald Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Over the course of five depositions that summer, he was asked approximately 100 questions related to marital infidelity. He pleaded the Fifth on 97 of them.

“Donald preaches about his devotion to the Second Amendment, but it was the Fifth Amendment that was his favorite when he was deposed in the divorce with Ivana,” wrote biographer Wayne Barrett in his 1992 book, Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth. A New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement report later verified Barrett’s reporting on those depositions, which are still sealed.

For Trump, taking the Fifth seemed to work out well. He later bragged that he managed to settle the divorce without giving his first wife a penny more than required by the prenuptial agreement.


Donald Trump explains what is 2 + 2

Dee Hunter

"I have to say a lot of people have been asking this question. No, really. A lot of people come up to me and they ask me. They say, "What's 2+2"? And I tell them look, we know what 2+2 is. We've had almost eight years of the worst kind of math you can imagine. What a disaster! Oh my god, I can't believe it. Addition and subtraction of the 1s the 2s and the 3s. Its terrible. Its just terrible. Look, if you want to know what 2+2 is, do you want to know what 2+2 is? I have property there. ll tell you what 2 is.

First of all the number 2, by the way I love the number 2. It's probably my favorite number, no it is my favorite number. You know what, it's probably more like the number two but with a lot of zeros behind it. A lot. If I'm being honest, I mean, if I'm being honest. I like a lot of zeros. Except for Marco Rubio, now he's a zero that I don't like. Though, I probably shouldn't say that. He's a nice guy but he's like, "10101000101", on and on, like that. He's like a computer! You know what I mean? He's like a computer. I don't know. I mean, you know.

So, we have all these numbers and we can add them and subtract them and add them. TIMES them even. Did you know that? We can times them OR divide them, they don't tell you that, and I'll tell you, no one is better at the order of operations than me. You wouldn't believe it. That I can tell you. So, we're gonna be the best on 2+2, believe me. OK?

Great Salt Lake drying up

CBS - On the southern shore of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, more than 100 boats are sitting high and dry in a parking lot, unable to sail the shallow, drought-stricken sea.

North of the nearly empty marina, salt-loving bacteria thriving in the low water has turned the liquid pink.

The massive lake, key to the state’s economy and identity, is skirting record low levels after years of below-average precipitation and record heat.

State officials said in July, that the lake is at its lowest level since the 1960s, before the causeway was in place, CBS affiliate KUTV reported. 

The lake, about 75 miles long and 30 miles wide, is America’s largest outside the Great Lakes. Water levels have always fluctuated, but they have been dropping steadily since 2011.

“If this continues ... the ecosystem as a whole is under a pretty significant threat,” said Jason Curry, a spokesman for Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

Women links

Women's news
 
MEDIA
MS MAGAZINE

WOMEN'S E-NEWS
WOMEN'S REVIEW OF BOOKS

SINGLE WOMEN
MS MAGAZINE
WOMEN'S E-NEWS
FEMINIST NEWS
Groups
FEMINIST ACTIVISM
FEMINIST ECONOMICS

FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION
INTNL ASSN FOR FEMINIST ECONOMICS

MS FOUNDATION
NARAL
NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR RESEARCH ON WOMEN
NATIONAL WOMEN'S LAW CENTER

NOW
UN DEVELOPMENT FUND FOR WOMEN

Word: The hidden coalition


Rev William Barber, Moral Mondays - Right now in this country, the real battle is over the South, because the extremists who want to take us backwards, they still play their dog-whistle politics in the South. What Moral Mondays and these other movements are doing—look at the number of white people that march with Black Lives Matter, look at the diversity of the crowds at Moral Mondays, people coming together to recognize their common identity, their common reality and recognize that, as Dr. King told us in the ‘60s, if black people and white working people and Latinos came together, they could be a transformative coalition.

In the South right now, if you register 30 percent of African-Americans in the 11 former Confederate states and they connect with progressive whites and Latinos, it’s a new [electoral] map. If it’s a new map, it’s a new America. If it’s a new America in terms of who sits in the Senate, the House of Representatives, the governor’s mansions, and the legislatures, then you have new public policy.

The last thing about this movement is it’s bottom up; it’s not top down. You’re not going to get rescued by some national leader coming in and saving you. We nationalize state movements because it’s the state legislatures that are blocking health care across the South, trying to roll back voting rights. They’re they ones who won’t allow a referendum on living wages—if you put that on the ballot in North Carolina or any of the Southern states, it would win, and they know that.

We’re challenging the consciousness in these Southern states, bringing people together. When you have a moral consciousness change, you have a moral political change, you’ll have a moral demographic change in the voting booth, and that can be fundamental in helping America move to what I believe we’re in the adolescent stages of, which is a third Reconstruction.

September 29, 2016

What it's like to do business with Donald Trump

Daily Kos - J. Michael Diehl is a retired, small business owner. His business for many decades was selling instruments out of his Freehold Music Center in Freehold, New Jersey. His modest clientele included individuals, schools and local organizations. In 1989 Mr. Diehl was overjoyed to get a $100,000 contract from Donald Trump. It was one of the biggest sales Diehl’s business had ever made. The deal was for several grand and upright pianos, delivered in tuned, working order to Trump’s brand new Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. The money owed to Diehl would be paid within 90 days of delivery.
I asked my lawyer if I should ask for payment upfront, and he laughed. “It’s Donald Trump!” he told me. “He’s got lots of money.”
Of course, when Mr. Diehl asked for his money, a story began that we have heard more and more from people who have had business “dealings” with the Donald.
But when I requested payment, the Trump corporation hemmed and hawed. Its executives avoided my calls and crafted excuses. After a couple of months, I got a letter telling me that the casino was short on funds. They would pay 70 percent of what they owed me. There was no negotiating. I didn’t know what to do — I couldn’t afford to sue the Trump corporation, and I needed money to pay my piano suppliers. So I took the $70,000.
Losing $30,000 was a big hit to me and my family. The profit from Trump was meant to be a big part of my salary for the year. So I made much less. There was no money to help grow my business. I had less pianos in the showroom and a smaller advertising budget. Because of Trump, my store stagnated for a couple of years. It made me feel really bad, like I’d been taken advantage of. I was embarrassed.

Obama rules a week of sick leave for workers on federal contracts

Thoughts of Donald Trump

Huffington Post - In a January 1997 interview with Donald Trump, shock jock Howard Stern relayed some crude marital advice that the brash businessman gave him before his second trip down the aisle, with Marla Maples. (The couple would separate a few months later.) 

“Donald pulled me aside at his wedding,” Stern said in comments that had not resurfaced until now. “He said, you know I am getting remarried, but Howard, vagina is expensive. I will never forget those words. The guy is right. Those were the exact words!”

13 states bar contracts to firms that boycott apartheid Israel

Mondoweiss - In a victory for Israel advocates, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Brown’s signature makes California the 13th state to enact an anti-BDS measure, most of which bar state contracts or pension funds from going to entities–non-profits or corporations–that support BDS. (12 of those states, including California, passed the law through the normal legislative process. In New York, though, Governor Andrew Cuomo bypassed the legislature and signed an executive order barring state funds from flowing to entities that support BDS.)

California’s law is slightly different than other states’ in that it requires a company who receives a state contract over $100,000 to certify, under penalty of perjury, that any policy they have against Israel, including a boycott, is not discriminatory. Legal organizations against the bill–the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal and the National Lawyers Guild–have criticized the language as potentially leading to a floodgate of “complaints, investigations, and possible felony prosecutions into the thoughts and beliefs motivating a prospective contractor’s support for Palestinian human rights,” as they wrote in a letter opposing the bill.
In a victory for Israel advocates, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement on Saturday.
Brown’s signature makes California the 13th state to enact an anti-BDS measure, most of which bar state contracts or pension funds from going to entities–non-profits or corporations–that support BDS. (12 of those states, including California, passed the law through the normal legislative process. In New York, though, Governor Andrew Cuomo bypassed the legislature and signed an executive order barring state funds from flowing to entities that support BDS.)
California’s law is slightly different than other states’ in that it requires a company who receives a state contract over $100,000 to certify, under penalty of perjury, that any policy they have against Israel, including a boycott, is not discriminatory. Legal organizations against the bill–the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal and the National Lawyers Guild–have criticized the language as potentially leading to a floodgate of “complaints, investigations, and possible felony prosecutions into the thoughts and beliefs motivating a prospective contractor’s support for Palestinian human rights,” as they wrote in a letter opposing the bill.
Asked for comment on the bill, Deborah Hoffman, a spokesperson for Governor Brown, told Mondoweisswe are letting the governor’s signature speak for itself and won’t be commenting any further.”
Brown’s decision is the latest victory for pro-Israel groups, who have lobbied legislators across the country to enact anti-BDS legislation. California is one of the most significant prizes for pro-Israel groups. It’s the most populous state in the country and activists groups on opposing sides of the issue have waged intense battles over BDS and Israel-Palestine. The University of California, Berkeley’s decision to suspend a class on Palestine and settler-colonialism–and then reverse that decision–was the latest case to make headlines in the state and the country.
- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/09/governor-signature-california/#sthash.u96ntJ2R.dpuf
In a victory for Israel advocates, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement on Saturday.
Brown’s signature makes California the 13th state to enact an anti-BDS measure, most of which bar state contracts or pension funds from going to entities–non-profits or corporations–that support BDS. (12 of those states, including California, passed the law through the normal legislative process. In New York, though, Governor Andrew Cuomo bypassed the legislature and signed an executive order barring state funds from flowing to entities that support BDS.)
California’s law is slightly different than other states’ in that it requires a company who receives a state contract over $100,000 to certify, under penalty of perjury, that any policy they have against Israel, including a boycott, is not discriminatory. Legal organizations against the bill–the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal and the National Lawyers Guild–have criticized the language as potentially leading to a floodgate of “complaints, investigations, and possible felony prosecutions into the thoughts and beliefs motivating a prospective contractor’s support for Palestinian human rights,” as they wrote in a letter opposing the bill.
Asked for comment on the bill, Deborah Hoffman, a spokesperson for Governor Brown, told Mondoweisswe are letting the governor’s signature speak for itself and won’t be commenting any further.”
Brown’s decision is the latest victory for pro-Israel groups, who have lobbied legislators across the country to enact anti-BDS legislation. California is one of the most significant prizes for pro-Israel groups. It’s the most populous state in the country and activists groups on opposing sides of the issue have waged intense battles over BDS and Israel-Palestine. The University of California, Berkeley’s decision to suspend a class on Palestine and settler-colonialism–and then reverse that decision–was the latest case to make headlines in the state and the country.
- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/09/governor-signature-california/#sthash.u96ntJ2R.dpuf

Alabama corrections officers join prison strike

in Alabama last weekend, following a strike initiated and organized by prisoners, a small group of prison guards disrupted that paradigm by refusing to work.

“War brings about strange bedfellows,” said Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, national spokesperson for the Free Alabama Movement, a prisoner solidarity organization that has been communicating with the striking guards and prisoners. “The officers really understand [the prisoners’] reasoning even if they don’t agree with all of it and are just at the point where they don’t feel safe.”

Guards at Alabama’s William C. Holman Correctional Facility have a reason not to feel safe: Earlier this month, an inmate fatally stabbed Officer Kenneth Bettis. He had been left alone to supervise as many as 200 inmates, according to WKRG.com.

That’s not an uncommon situation in the understaffed, overcrowded facility.

“Often times down there you might have 17 officers dealing with as many as 1,000 inmates,” Officer Troy Hughes, a guard at Limestone Correctional Facility in northern Alabama, told TakePart. Hughes is familiar with some of the officers at Holman.

Some Holman guards decided they’d had enough. After Bettis’ funeral on Saturday, a number of them didn’t show up to work their scheduled shifts, a prison spokesman told AL.com. Hughes said, “We call it the blue flu—everybody just called in sick after they buried one of their officers.” Glasgow said more than 15 officers failed to show up for work, while the Holman spokesman put the number at nine.

The corrections officers’ work stoppage comes as a nationwide prison strike, which began on the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, entered its third week. While broadly characterized as a labor strike organized to demand fair pay for the work prisoners do behind bars—often for meager wages or none at all—Azzurra Crispino of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee told TakePart that prisoners are participating in whatever way they can. Crispino’s organization has tracked participation—whether ongoing or onetime—in 46 correctional facilities nationwide since Sept. 9. Some prisoners without jobs have gone on hunger strike, while others who feel they can’t risk ceasing to work entirely have slowed down their pace.

.... The Holman guards’ work stoppage is not the first time the interests of officers and inmates have intersected. In Huntsville, Texas, a corrections union has advocated for a reduction in the use of solitary confinement because members believe its excessive use creates an unsafe working environment.

A few possible reasons Trump is doing so well

Ray Williams, Psychology Today
  • After leading the world for decades in 25-34 year olds with university degrees, the U.S. is now in 12th place. The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly 50% of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are foreigners, most of whom are returning to their home countries;
  • The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public school students. A surprising 77% didn't know that George Washington was the first President; couldn't name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence; and only 2.8% of the students actually passed the citizenship test. Along similar lines, the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix did the same survey and only 3.5% of students passed the civics test;
  • According to the National Research Council report, only 28% of high school science teachers consistently follow the National Research Council guidelines on teaching evolution, and 13% of those teachers explicitly advocate creationism or "intelligent design;"
  • 18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll;
  • The American Association of State Colleges and Universities report on education shows that the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of the population aged 35-64 with a college degree, but 19th in the percentage of those aged 25-34 with an associate or high school diploma, which means that for the first time, the educational attainment of young people will be lower than their parents;
  • 74% of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and 53% in the House of Representatives deny the validity of climate change despite the findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific organization in the world;
  • According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading when they graduate;
  • According to a 2006 survey by National Geographic-Roper, nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 do not think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is being made. More than a third consider it "not at all important" to know a foreign language, and only 14 percent consider it "very important;"
  • According to the National Endowment for the Arts report in 1982, 82% of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later only 67% did. And more than 40% of Americans under 44 did not read a single book--fiction or nonfiction--over the course of a year. The proportion of 17 year olds who read nothing (unless required by school ) has doubled between 1984-2004;
  • Gallup released a poll indicating 42 percent of Americans still believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago;
  • A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously.

Trump's staff has its own law & order problems

Rachel Maddow looks how criminal accusations against several prominent Trump campaign staffers show what the campaign will tolerate and what costs a person their job. This is a story that has not been generally reported.

September 28, 2016

Blacks three times as likely to be killed by cops than whites

The stats on police violence against blacks

Half of Oregon residents support rent control

Polling firm DHM Research has found that a slight majority of Oregon residents now support the repeal of the statewide ban on rent control, with 52 percent of Oregonians supporting the change. Jim Redden of the Portland

Immigrants help the economy

Rural Blog - "Waves of immigrants coming into the U.S. in recent decades have helped the economy over the long haul and had little lasting impact on the wages or employment levels of native-born Americans, according to one of the most comprehensive studies yet on the topic," Jeffrey Sparshott reports for The Wall Street Journal.

The study by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine,found that immigrants have a very small effect on wages of American-born workers, with most of that coming among low-skilled workers who are most likely high-school dropouts.

The study found that "immigration also can lead to more innovation, entrepreneurship and technological change across the economy," Researchers found that “the prospects for long-run economic growth in the U.S. would be considerably dimmed without the contributions of high-skilled immigrants" and "that 'over a long time horizon (about 75 years)' the fiscal impacts of immigrants 'are generally positive at the federal level and negative at the state and local levels.'”

The study did find that "immigration can burden government finances, especially education budgets at the state and local levels," Sparshott writes.

Trump interrupted Clinton 25 times in the first 26 minutes of the debate

Union launches boycott of Trump properties

Huffington Post -The union that recently organized workers at Donald Trump’s Las Vegas hotel announced that it was launching a formal boycott of the Republican nominee’s properties around the country.

The Culinary Workers Union, a powerful player in Nevada politics, said it will be urging people not to stay at Trump hotels, eat at Trump restaurants or play golf at Trump courses until he starts bargaining with the union over a first contract. The Las Vegas group, which is part of the national hospitality industry union Unite Here, has been waging a long-running battle with the Trump Organization.

The boycott will be supported by the AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 unions that represent some 12 million workers around the country, according to Bethany Khan, a Culinary Workers Union spokeswoman. She said it will involve properties that Trump “owns, has invested in, or has partnered with.”

September 27, 2016

Ireland joins Iceland in prosecuting bankers

Your News Wire - Following from last year’s mass incarceration of 26 bankers in Iceland, Ireland is going to prosecute the 2005-2008 CEO of Anglo Irish Bank, David Drumm, on 33 criminal charges.

Anonhq.com reports:

These include two charges of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting relating to €7.2 billion in deposits placed in Anglo Irish Bank accounts by the then Irish Life and Permanent, between March and September 2008.

16 of the 33 charges relate to unlawfully authorizing billions in loans (to be invested back into Anglo Irish Bank) to 16 wealthy investors, in a bid to artificially prop up Anglo Irish Bank’s share price before its December 2008 collapse. Each of the 33 offenses carries a 5 or 10 year jail term, except for a single count of conspiracy to defraud, which has a maximum penalty of an “unlimited term of imprisonment” under Irish law.

Debate stat

Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times at the debate. She interrupted him just 17 times.

Poverty drops along with other good news

Guardian - Like a bolt from the blue there has been a flurry of uncharacteristically positive headlines on wages and poverty in the US.....

The figures from the 2015 Census Bureau reports, which span poverty, income and health insurance data, revealed that the official US poverty rate had experienced one of its biggest single-year falls in almost half a century, dropping from 14.8% to 13.5%. Just over 3.5 million fewer Americans were living in poverty than in the previous year.

And, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out, the typical household’s income leapt by 5.2% in 12 months, representing “the largest increase in median income in both percentage and dollar terms ever recorded, with data back to 1967”. America is finally back on its feet but the poor are being left behind Read more

Also significant for a country where the cost of accessing medical care has risen markedly over the years, the number of uninsured Americans fell in 2015 by 4 million. This means that the proportion of the population without health insurance stood at a record low last year of 9.1%.

How FDA manipulates the media

Scientific American - The FDA, like other sources of scientific information, are gaining control of journalists who are supposed to keep an eye on those institutions. The watchdogs are being turned into lapdogs. “Journalists have ceded the power to the scientific establishment,” says Vincent Kiernan, a science journalist and dean at George Mason University. “I think it's interesting and somewhat inexplicable, knowing journalists in general as being people who don't like ceding power.”

The press corps is primed for manipulation by a convention that goes back decades: the embargo. The embargo is a back-room deal between journalists and the people they cover—their sources. A source grants the journalist access on condition that he or she cannot publish before an agreed-on date and time.

A surprisingly large proportion of science and health stories are the product of embargoes. Most of the major science journals offer reporters advance copies of upcoming articles—and the contact information of the authors—in return for agreeing not to run with the story until the embargo expires.. . . Other institutions have also adopted the embargo system. Federal institutions, especially the ones science and health journalists report on, have as well.

... The embargo system is such an established institution in science journalism that few reporters complain or even think about its darker implications, at least until they themselves feel slighted.

Welcome to the new Hillary Clinton



Sam Smith - Whoever prepped Hillary Clinton for the first debate deserves a national medal of honor.  Gone was her poor imitation  of her husband’s Arkansas thuggery and the grandiose cattle calling that has hurt so many of her speeches. Instead was a bright, strong, pleasant leader for a new time.

Of course it was made easier because Hillary Clinton doesn’t really exist – only her reaction to things.  But compared to, say, Donald Trump’s consistent narcissism so unperceptive that he even took credit for not paying income taxes, it’s not bad, especially as she discovers a new generation to which to appeal.

And, as noted here recently, it’s happened before as when Lyndon Johnson dumped his segregationist past and led the passage of the great civil rights legislation of the 1960s. Politicians don’t always have to be good to be right.

Now, the key thing about Hillary Clinton is who puts the pressure on her. Thanks to the Sanders crowd, she is learning to react to something far better than in the past. The trick, if she is elected, is for the young, the unfairly treated, and the ignored to become the sound to which she responds. And the first debate was a sign of a great start.  

September 26, 2016

How Clinton could handle Trump

Sam Smith - Although we know that the debate commission will allow Trump to lie without moderator interference at tonight's debate, the other rules are not clear or published. So one little suggestion: Find a way for Hillary to indicate when Trump is lying. For example, if there is a media outlet that is keeping track of the lies, have Clinton's cell phone tuned to that source.

Ideally she could hold up an Ipad that showed how many lies Trump had committed so far,  but if that is not possible she might say at the start that she will keep the audience informed by a finger count. The beauty of this is that it takes no time and might really catch on with the audience while driving Trump crazy.

Is LED dead?

Planetizen - Cities all over the country are adding LED lights to streets and roadways all over the country, seeking energy efficiency and reduced maintenance requirements. A new report, however, raises alarms about the health impacts of the lights. Michael Ollove reports:
The American Medical Association issued a warning in June that high-intensity LED streetlights — such as those in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and elsewhere — emit unseen blue light that can disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
According to Ollove, nearly 13 percent of roadway lighting now use LED lights, with many more plans planning to switch to the technology in the near future, so the AMA's report applies to a huge swath of the country.

And that's not the only concern. "The AMA also cautioned that those light-emitting-diode lights can impair nighttime driving vision," adds Ollove.

The good news is that the AMA does approve of lower-intensity version of the bulbs. New York City, for example, has switched to a lower-intensity version of LED lights in efforts to retrofit its streetlights.

20 million would lose coverage under Trump health plan

Debate commissioner favors no limits on Trump's lying

Complex - It looks like Donald Trump is getting his wish: Moderators of the three presidential debates likely won't be encouraged by the committee that selected them for the job to fact-check the candidates when they lie on stage.

Head of the commission Janet Brown told CNN reporter Brian Stelter on Sunday that she didn't want the moderators to "serv[e] as the Encyclopedia Britannica.” And Brown isn't alone in that belief. Fox News's Chris Wallace, who is hosting the third and final debate, is already there—he told Fox earlier this month that it's not his job to fact-check candidates because he's "not a truth squad."

It would be safe to hazard a guess that this will frustrate Hillary Clinton's campaign, considering that only four percent of her opponent's claims that have been fact-checked by the Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact have been rated completely true. (To dig deeper: Only 15 percent of Trump's comments have been ranked 'true' or 'mostly true,' compared to Clinton's 50 percent.)

The news comes just hours after Trump campaign spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway told a reporter from ABC News that she really doesn't  appreciate "the campaigns thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact-checkers.” She then pointed to an interview Trump did with Matt Lauer this month, in which Lauer famously declines to challenge Trump's assertion that he has always opposed the war in Iraq, as an example of an interview done right.

"We thought he did a great job,” Conway told the reporter.

Clinton losing serious electoral vote ground





While Clinton is comfortably ahead of Trump in electoral votes, she has steadily been losing ground since her high of 275 firm ones - five more than needed for a victory. Now she only has 130 firm votes, This is 47% as many certain electoral votes as she once had and her worst so far. Another 187 electoral votes are possibly Democratic. On the other hand, only 48 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 177 are possible.

A few things to remember about Donald Trump while watching the debate



No Fortune 100 CEOs, presumably smart business people,  have given to Trump

The New York Attorney General called Trump University “a straight up fraud”

Trump projects have received at least $885 million in public subsidies

Trump & Co has been involved in over 4,000 lawsuits

Donald Trump's own line of men's wear, the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection, is manufactured in China

Trump Tower was built in part by undocumented Polish workers without hard hats and getting $5 an hour

In five cases, the Trump Foundation told the IRS that it had given a gift to a charity whose leaders told The Washington Post that they had never received it.

Also according to the Washington Post:  
Trump’s casino bankruptcies left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money·

Trump refused to pay contractors who had done work for him, many of whom are struggling small businesses

The Trump Network, a multi-level marketing venture (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) involved customers mailing in a urine sample which would be analyzed to produce for them a specially formulated package of multivitamins

 Trump Model Management reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did

Trump’s employed foreign guest workers at his resorts.

Trump paid the Federal Trade Commission $750,000 over charges that he violated anti-trust laws when trying to take over a rival casino company

 Trump is now being advised by Roger Ailes, who was forced out as Fox News chief when dozens of women came forward to charge him with sexual harassment.
According to the Daily Beast, “Four Donald Trump-licensed real-estate developments are at the center of a huge income tax evasion scheme, according to allegations in a lawsuit unsealed by a judge in Manhattan. “ Trump was described as a material witness in “the evasion of taxes on as much as $250 million in income. According to the court papers, that includes $100 million in profits and $65 million in real-estate transfer taxes from a Manhattan high rise project bearing his familiar name.” 

On issues:
·      
Trump wants to cut your Social Security
Trump has come out against women's choice
Trump's veep pick wanted Iraq War
Trump praised Saddam Hussein and Putin

According to the Tax Policy Center analysis of the Trump tax plan, “the highest-income households would receive the largest cuts, both in dollars and as a percentage of income.” People at the bottom of the economic ladder would receive, on average, a $128 tax cut under Trump’s plan, while the top 0.1 percent would take home an extra $1.3 million.”
Just to mention a few. . .