November 18, 2017

Rick Perry claims fossil fuels reduce esexual assaults

IFL Science - Rick Perry, the head of the Department of Energy, has surpassed himself. Talking to journalists earlier today, he claimed that fossil fuels will help to prevent sexual assault.

During an energy policy discussion, he said: “From the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts… fossil fuels is going to play a role in that. I think it’s going to play a positive role.”

It’s a little difficult to try and work out what he means by this. Is he trying to say that when you have lights on, the perpetrators of sexual assault are easier to see? This is obviously true - but studies show that it has little effect on such crimes being committed. Either way, to use such a horrific issue to tout the benefits of oil, gas, and coal is mindblowingly strange.

How Bill Clinton prepared us for Trump

Sam Smith

Having lived in Philadelphia, St., Louis and Cambridge Massachusetts, I thought I understood political corruption. Then I began looking into Bill Clinton’s Arkansas and found not only a deep corruption but a stunning indifference to it by the media and Clinton’s new liberal fans.

I got myself in a lot of trouble, including being blocked by higher ups from two scheduled CSPAN appearances, and being banned from Washington’s public radio station for a number of years.

In fact, the Arkansas story was true. Arkansas was, for example, a major drop off for imported illegal drugs, its governor had a number of less than admirable sexual activities including what we would now call abuse, and the Clintons ripped off buyers at their Whitewater site.

But neither most of the national media nor Clinton’s supporters wanted to hear a word of this and those few of us in the press who tried to tell them turned out to be considered the real bad guys.

In the end, the facts fell on our side. Bill Clinton’s presidential record included:
- The only president ever impeached on grounds of personal malfeasance
- Most number of convictions and guilty pleas by friends and associates
- Most number of cabinet officials to come under criminal investigation
- Most number of witnesses to flee country or refuse to testify
- Most number of witnesses to die suddenly
- First president sued for sexual harassment.
- Second president accused of rape
- First first lady to come under criminal investigation
- Largest criminal plea agreement in an illegal campaign contribution case
- First president to establish a legal defense fund.
- First president to be held in contempt of court
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions from abroad
- First president disbarred from the US Supreme Court and a state court
When the Donald Trump story began to unfold, I had this eerie feeling of déjà vu. Once again the facts were being pushed aside by a cleverly designed fiction.

One of these fictions had been that Clinton grew up in a town named Hope, which became his great purpose in life. In fact, when Bill Clinton was 7, his family moved from Hope to the long-time mob resort of Hot Springs. Here Al Capone is said to have had permanent rights to suite 443 of the Arlington Hotel. Clinton's stepfather was a gun-brandishing alcoholic who lost his Buick franchise through mismanagement and his own pilfering. He physically abused his family, including the young Bill. His mother was a heavy gambler with mob ties. And according to FBI and local police officials, his Uncle Raymond -- to whom young Bill turned for wisdom and support -- was a colorful car dealer, slot machine owner and gambling operator, who thrived (except when his house was firebombed) on the fault line of criminality. As Hot Spring prosecutor Paul Bosson put it, “In Hot Springs, growing up here, you were living a lie.”

When Clinton came along, I had already covered Washington during seven presidencies but had never seen anything like this. It was as if there were two presidents: the real one and a fictional version that largely satisfied the media and the public.

Now the fiction has returned. This time the public is less fooled and the media, after largely ignoring the dark side of Trump during this campaign, is becoming more actively engaged. But we still have painful evidence that both liberals and conservatives can become victims of fictional politics.

My theory is that television has a lot to do with this. Before television it would have been much harder to be a fake politician because too much of your story depended on the experiences of real people. Once politics just became another television show, facts and history no longer mattered.

Which is how we find ourselves with our second fictional president.

The FCC vs. the people

CNET -The Republican-led FCC is making good on its promise to deregulate the communications industry, including a revamp of media ownership rules that will make it easier for big companies to own newspapers and more broadcast stations in a single market....

The Federal Communications Commission voted on several controversial items that strip away regulation. Most notably it voted to loosen 40-year-old media ownership rules as well as rules that required phone companies to maintain their old copper infrastructure while they transition to new fiber networks. Additionally, the FCC also adopted reforms to the Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone and broadband service for low-income people. The votes were 3-2, along party lines.

The divisive votes come as Chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by President Donald Trump in January, has aggressively worked to roll back many of the marquee regulations adopted under President Barack Obama's administration. Next month, the agency is expected to vote on a proposal that would dismantle Obama-era net neutrality rules adopted in 2015. These popular regulations bar internet service providers from blocking or slowing online content or allowing broadband companies to charge internet companies to deliver web content to their customers faster.

The most dramatic change was the agency's 3-2 vote to loosen media ownership rules in place since 1975. Under these changes, broadcasters could combine with a newspaper in the same market. They also could own two of the top four stations in any city.

The new rules will likely be challenged in court, but if they survive, they are a significant change in media ownership regulations and could lead to further consolidation.

13 states reach record low unemployment rates

The Hill - Thirteen states this year have seen their unemployment rates drop to the lowest levels ever recorded since the federal government began keeping track of state-level data more than four decades ago.

Eight years after the bottom of the worst recession in modern history, the states seeing economic booms range from the bluest of the blue, like Hawaii and California, to the deepest shades of red, like Idaho and Texas.

In October, the unemployment rates in Alabama, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Washington all met or beat their lowest rates ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), according to the agency’s monthly report issued Friday.

California, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota and Oregon also hit new lows earlier this year.

TED doesn't just talk; it also gropes

Washington Post - Behind the scenes, TED owner Chris Anderson and other senior officials had been grappling with accusations for much of the year that their own conferences, famed for turning short speeches by leading figures into viral videos, had not been a safe place for women — and that the atmosphere of predatory male behavior was getting worse.

At least five people, including a past main stage speaker, told TED officials that they were harassed or groped during the organization’s flagship conference in Vancouver in April, according to interviews and email correspondence seen by The Washington Post.

Trump real estate as a bank for corrupt money

Guardian - The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower soars over Panama City bay, a 70-storey skyscraper shaped like a sail. Donald Trump’s first international hotel venture, it opened in 2011, a mix of condominiums, hotel rooms and a casino.

As one of the tallest structures in Latin America, it was a bold and lucrative expression of the Trump brand, earning him as much as $13.9m in management fees and royalties in the last three years.

By day it glints in the tropical sunshine, an apparently shining testament to the US president’s business savvy.

But a curious thing happens at night. Many of the lights stay off. The restaurants are near deserted; the corridors silent. The skyscraper appears to be largely empty – a dark tower.

Many of those who bought the condos, it turns out, did so not to live there but allegedly to launder illicit money – Russian gangster money, drug cartel money, people-smuggling money.

A joint Reuters-NBC News investigation published on Friday alongside a report by the non-profit Global Witness said the skyscraper with Trump’s name had ties to international organized crime.

Alternet  -  The property, which the lead broker Alexandre Ventura Nogueira describes as “Ivanka Trump’s baby,” listed units for three times the going rate in Panama City, thanks to the Trump name. Nogueira worked closely with the Trump family; he claims he attended at least 10 meetings with Ivanka Trump, who challenged him to sell 100 units in the building. “The agreement was, I had a week to sell 100 units,” Nogueira told Reuters. “I said, ‘I’m going to do better, I’m going to sell without telling (the buyers) the price.'”

Nogueira later fled Panama after he was arrested for unrelated charges of real estate fraud. From his European asylum, he told NBC that at least half of his Trump Ocean Club customers were Russians, including some with “questionable backgrounds." Only later did he learn of their ties to Russian organized crime circles.

NBC reports that Mauricio Ceballos, a former prosecutor in Panama who investigated Trump’s business associates for financial crimes, called the Trump Ocean Club “a vehicle for money laundering.”

Among the shady buyers are:

David Murcia Guzmán, founder of a large Colombian marketing company, who purchased 10 units in the Trump Ocean Club. Guzmán is now in U.S. custody, convicted of laundering money on behalf of drug cartels, and will be extradited to Colombia. Guzmán also has financial ties to the terrorist organization FARC. Louis Pargiolas, who pleaded guilty in 2009 in Miami to conspiracy to import cocaine. Stanislav Kavalenka, a Russian national charged in Canada for compelling women into prostitution. Arkady Vodovozov, convicted in Israel of kidnapping, according to Reuters.

By 2010, Donald Trump had made approximately $74.2 million through his association with the hotel. From 2014-2017, he was paid as much as $13.9 million.

As Global Witness explains:

“The warning signs were there from the outset. The Trump Ocean Club, one of Trump’s most lucrative licensing deals to date, was announced in 2006 and launched in 2011, a period when Panama was known as one of the best places in the world to launder money. Whole neighborhoods in Panama City were taken over by organized crime groups, and luxury developments were built with the purpose of serving as money laundering vehicles.

“Moreover, investing in luxury properties is a tried and trusted way for criminals to move tainted cash into the legitimate financial system, where they can spend it freely. Once scrubbed clean in this way, vast profits from criminal activities like trafficking people and drugs, organized crime, and terrorism can find their way into the U.S. and elsewhere.”

The Trump Organization has shrugged off responsibility in a statement following the news, but legal experts say it should have done its due diligence into the backgrounds of buyers. Arthur Middlemiss, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney and a former head of the global anti-corruption program at JPMorgan, blames the Trumps directly:

“Those who do business there should perform due diligence on others involved in their ventures. If they fail to do so, they risk being liable under U.S. law of turning a blind eye to wrongdoing.”

Word; Why Trump lies so much

Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon - It would appear that Trump lies instinctively, automatically, reflexively, almost as a matter of course. But he doesn’t lie that way at all. Trump tells lies as a way to exercise power. He used lies to accumulate wealth as a businessman. He used lies to accumulate votes as a candidate. He used lies to accumulate power as a president. Now he’s using lies to keep himself from being removed from office.

It’s amazing how similar Trump’s lies are to the perpetual campaign of propaganda used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to maintain power. After taking power in 2000, the first thing Putin did was seize or co-opt most of Russian news media by jailing or exiling its oligarch owners. Once he controlled the media, he set about firing executives of state-owned outlets like the RIA Novosti news agency, liquidating their assets and remaking them in his image. This resulted in classic Soviet-style-all-lies-all-the-time Russian propaganda cranked out around the clock on TV and newspapers across Russia. The only difference between what Putin does and the way Trump behaves here is ownership of the media. The perpetual production and dissemination of lies are exactly the same. Lies are the way authoritarians exercise power. If you are governed by a set of rules and laws, and then tell lies that enable you to break those rules and laws, the lies give you power. It’s like you’re standing astride the life of the nation and saying, I know I’m lying. You know I’m lying. I’m powerful and you’re not. Fuck you.

There’s only one thing Trump and Putin care about: power. They showed their affinity for each other last week in Vietnam when Trump repeatedly and affirmatively quoted Putin denying that Russia had anything to do with “meddling” in U.S. elections last year, despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary that has built up since American intelligence agencies concluded over a year ago that Russia had hacked Democratic party servers and sought to disrupt our elections.

Do smartphones have a negative psychological effect?

Motherboard - Depression and suicide rates in teenagers have jumped in the last decade—doubling between 2007 and 2015 for girls—and the trend suspiciously coincides with when smartphones became their constant companions. A recent study places their screen time around nine hours per day.

Another study suggests that suicide and depression could be connected to the rise of smartphones, and increased screen time. Around 58 percent more girls reported depression symptoms in 2015 than in 2009, and suicide rates rose 65 percent. Smack in the middle of that window of time, smartphones gained market saturation. “Even if we call screen time a neutral and assume it doesn't help or hurt, it may still have a negative impact if it crowds out time for seeing friends in person,” lead researcher Jean Twenge, psychology professor at San Diego State University, told me in an email. “The large and sudden increase in teen mental health deserves attention, no matter what its cause.”

Still, other research suggests that using new media to communicate and connect doesn’t hurt teenagers, and can maybe, in some cases, be good for them. Are screens, and especially smartphones, really killing teenagers?

... Twenge’s work has drawn criticism from psychology peers in the past—particularly after her article “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” appeared in the September 2017 issue of The Atlantic. Psychologist and author Sarah Rose Cavanagh published her rebuttal on Medium, claiming that Twenge’s data is “cherry-picked” to reinforce preexisting biases, and that she falls into the old “correlation versus causation trap” in the conclusions she draws.

Psychologist Andrew Przybylski told NPR that teenagers today might just be more willing to admit when they’re worried or sad, or better equipped to recognize symptoms of depression within themselves.

November 17, 2017

Partial list of men accused of sexual misconduct

India's smog fighting helicopters grounded. . . because of smog

Guardian -
An ambitious plan to use helicopters to fight Delhi’s air pollution has been grounded because the aircraft cannot operate in the thick smog, underscoring growing frustration at authorities’ inability to address the toxic haze engulfing the city.

Accusations that Narendra Modi’s government is failing to take the crisis seriously were further fuelled on Tuesday when the environment minister, Harsh Vardhan, urged residents to remain calm, saying only “routine precautions” were needed, even though air quality levels remain “severe”.

The city authorities had engaged a state-owned helicopter company to spray water over Delhi in the hope of settling the thick haze of pollutants. But on Monday administrators were told they would be unable to help dissipate the smog until the smog itself had cleared.

And now a new political problem

NY Post - A Republican congressional candidate in Florida says she’s learned a lot on her travels — including the spaceship ride she took with aliens when she was a just a little girl.

Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera — a 59-year-old entrepreneur running to replace retiring Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — said she remained in contact with three aliens, one male and two females, since the extraterrestrial joyride when she was 7 years old, according to a resurfaced 2009 television interview.

“I went in,” Rodriguez Aguilera told America TeVe. “There were some round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship – not like airplanes.”

Trump judicial nominees who are most anti-gay

Germany replaces US as most respected country

DW, Germany - Germany enjoys the best reputation of any country in the world, according to the latest Nation Brands Index. The survey found that there is much more than Germany's economic motor driving the positive image.

The Nation Brands Indexsurvey, carried out by German-based market research firm GfK and the British political consultant Simon Anholt, measured public opinion around the world on "the power and quality of each country's 'brand image.'"

Germany moved up to first place after coming in second in 2016. The US dropped from top to sixth, with France, Britain, Canada and Japan taking spots two to five.

GOP tax bill could save Trumps more than $1 billion

The Hill - Trump and his family could stand to save more than $1 billion under a tax proposal passed by House Republicans on Thursday, according to an analysis commissioned by NBC News.

Most of the savings Trump and his heirs would see would come from the measure's repeal of the estate tax — the tax levied on property transferred to beneficiaries after an individual dies.

Majority want prison population reducd

Hit & Run - A majority of Americans, including Trump voters, say there are problems with the criminal justice system and that the prison population should be reduced, according to a poll by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In a telephone survey of 1,003 U.S. residents conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group for the ACLU, 55 percent of respondents said there are serious problems in the criminal justice system that should be fixed immediately. Another 36 percent agreed that there are some problems in the system that should be fixed eventually.

Seventy-one percent of respondents also said that it's important to reduce the U.S. prison population, including 57 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Trump voters polled.

GOP gives tax break to poor private jet owners

Yahoo News: - The new Senate tax bill will give those who own or lease private planes breaks on the amount they pay to companies for maintenance, storage, fueling and even when they want to hire pilots and a crew onboard.

November 16, 2017

Fox poll has Jones ahead by 8 points

Speaking of abuse in the Senate

If Roy Moore is elected to the Senate, he will represent 13% as many people as the senators from California. As we have noted before, half of America is represented by only 18% of the senatorial votes. Isn't it time to start talking about this?

Senate tax bill would hit middle class

Wahington Post - The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to millionaires while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress' official nonpartisan analysts.

President Trump and Republican lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for hard-working Americans, but the JCT report casts serious doubt on that claim. Tax hikes for households earning $10,000 to $30,000 would start in 2021 and grow sharply from there. By the year 2027, Americans earning $30,000 to $75,000 a year would also be forced to pay more in taxes even though people earning over $100,000 continue to get substantial tax cuts.

Most of the hit to the poor and working-class is likely comes from the Senate Republicans' push to mix health care and tax changes. The decision to include a repeal of the individual mandate would lead to 13 million more uninsured, the Congressional Budget Office has said. Senate Republicans also made most of the individual income tax provisions expire at the end of 2025. Wealthier Americans would still benefit from a permanent cut in the corporate tax rate, which will likely boost the incomes of people who own companies or investments.

Time -  A poll released by Quinnipiac on Wednesday found that 52% of Americans disapprove of the GOP tax plan, while 25% approve. Opinion of the tax plan was heavily split along party lines — 60% of Republican voters approve of the plan, while 81% of Democrats disapprove.

Freedom of press endangered buy two inauguration arrests

Freedom of the Press Foundation - Two journalists still face charges and potentially decades in prison for covering Inauguration Day protests in Washington D.C. The continued prosecution of Aaron Cantú and Alexei Wood for doing their jobs is outrageous, and the U.S. Attorney should immediately drop its charges against these journalists.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation joins Defending Rights and Dissent and eight other First Amendment protection organizations in signing a letter calling for an end to these journalists’ prosecution, delivered yesterday to the office of U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu.

Cantú, who has written for publications including the Intercept and VICE, and Wood, a professional photojournalist, were swept up in a mass and indiscriminate arrest of over 230 people that included legal observers and other journalists on January 20, 2017. While charges against other journalists have been dropped, Cantú and Wood inexplicably still face charges that include felonies with statutory minimums of decades in prison.

Cantú’s single charge of felony rioting carries a statutory maximum of 10 years, but Wood could face up to 70 years in prison on his additional charges of rioting and property destruction.

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested everyone in the proximity of the protest 30 minutes into the protest march and slapped charges on 200 people, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office seems intent on making an example out of the hundreds of people merely for their presence at a political demonstration. Indiscriminate arrests and mass felony charges always have troubling implications for freedom of expression and political protest, but there are particular concerns for press freedom when journalists are included in arrests.

A report from the D.C. Office of Police Complaints states that “it seems that proximity to the area where property damage occurred was a primary factor in the arrests.” In other words, the charges Cantú and Wood face criminalize them simply for their presence at a political march in which a few individuals destroyed property.

Add Al Franken to the grope list

Jazz break

November 15, 2017

Conservative Moore polls conflict

A new poll from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the Senate Republicans, has Moore trailing his Democratic opponent Doug Jones by 12 points, percentage points, 51% to 39%, according to data obtained by TIME. 

Moore leads Jones 49 to 43 percent in a FOX10 poll of likely voters released Tuesday. The poll found that 8 percent of likely voters in the state remain undecided.

Moore was banned from a YMCA

Judge sides with Philadelphia in ‘sanctuary cities’ case

Appeals court decision endangers anonymous speakers

Electronic Frontier Foundation - A federal appeals court has issued an alarming ruling that significantly erodes the Constitution’s protections for anonymous speakers—and simultaneously hands law enforcement a near unlimited power to unmask them.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision in U.S. v. Glassdoor, Inc. is a significant setback for the First Amendment. The ability to speak anonymously online without fear of being identified is essential because it allows people to express controversial or unpopular views. Strong legal protections for anonymous speakers are needed so that they are not harassed, ridiculed, or silenced merely for expressing their opinions.

In Glassdoor, the court’s ruling ensures that any grand jury subpoena seeking the identities of anonymous speakers will be valid virtually every time. The decision is a recipe for disaster precisely because it provides little to no legal protections for anonymous speakers.

EFF applauds Glassdoor for standing up for its users’ First Amendment rights in this case and for its commitment to do so moving forward. Yet we worry that without stronger legal standards—which EFF and other groups urged the Ninth Circuit to apply (read our brief filed in the case)—the government will easily compel platforms to comply with grand jury subpoenas to unmask anonymous speakers.

Democrats win back Albuquerque

Political Wire -  “Democrats wrested control of New Mexico’s largest city from the GOP on Tuesday as New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller (D) easily won a race to become Albuquerque’s next mayor,” CBS News reports. Keller beat Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis (R) with 62% to 38% “in a race that centered on the city’s raising crime rates and its struggling economy.”

Poll: Biden beats Trump

Former Vice President Joe Biden is far ahead of President Trump in a hypothetical matchup in the 2020 presidential election, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday. The Nov. 9-11 survey found 46 percent of voters would pick the previous Democratic vice president compared to the 35 percent who would re-elect Trump. One-in-five voters were undecided.

Trump regime to allow states to deny Medicaid for those who aren't working

Center on Burdget &  Policy Priorities - For the first time, states will be able to require work or work-related activities as a condition of Medicaid eligibility, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Administrator Seema Verma recently announced. Verma’s announcement followed a CMS change to the criteria for approving state Medicaid demonstration projects, known as waivers: they’ll no longer have to increase and strengthen coverage, but instead can “promote upward mobility”— a euphemism for work requirements.

Taking away health coverage won’t help people find and hold a job, research shows. Tying eligibility for Medicaid to work or work-related activities would likely mainly harm people who can’t work or can’t find work, leaving them without coverage, but it would likely affect coverage for some working beneficiaries, too:

Jazz break

Jazz break

November 14, 2017

Are you one of the 36 million whose taxes Republicans want to raise?

Talk Poverty - According to analysis by the Center for American Progress based on Tax Policy Center data, 36 million working- and middle-class households would see a tax increase by 2027 under the House tax bill. Based on the latest version of the tax plan, 22.5 percent of tax units (tax parlance for households) in the bottom 80 percent of the income scale would see their taxes go up by 2027, at an average cost of a whopping $1,130 per family with a tax increase. With more than 159 million households in these income brackets, 36 million would end up facing a tax increase.

And what’s most striking is just how many of the tax increases in the bill fall on middle class and struggling families. In fact, the middle and working class will comprise the overwhelming majority of those facing tax increases under the House bill (36 million out of 45 million households facing tax increases).

MORE

And now John Travolta





Mercury News - Police in 2000 took a police report from a 21-year-old masseur who accused John Travolta of groping his buttocks and indecently exposing himself during a deep-body massage at a Palm Springs hotel, the Daily Mail reported

.... The newly uncovered police report marks the latest in a series of incidents pointing to Travolta’s alleged sexual preference for men, as well as an alleged habit of hitting on men at high-end spas, hotels and cruise ships and in the locker rooms of fitness clubs, according to the Daily Beast.

Since 1975, Travolta has been a devout practitioner of Scientology, a movement based on founder L. Ron Hubbard’s book “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.” That tome, the basis for Scientology practices, classified the homosexual as “the sexual pervert.”

MORE

More than 15,000 scientists issue global warning

CBC, Canada -  More than 15,000 scientists around the world have issued a global warning: there needs to be change in order to save Earth. It comes 25 years after the first notice in 1992 when a mere 1,500 scientists issued a similar warning.

William Ripple of Oregon State University's College of Forestry, who started the campaign, said that he came across the 1992 warning last February, and noticed that this year happened to mark the 25th anniversary. Together with his graduate student, Christopher Wolf, he decided to revisit the concerns raised then, and collect global data for different variables to show trends over the past 25 years. Ripple found:
A decline in freshwater availability;
Unsustainable marine fisheries;
Ocean dead zones;
Forest losses;
Dwindling biodiversity;
Climate change;
Population growth.
There was one positive outcome, however: a rapid decline in ozone depletion. One of the potential solutions is to stabilize the population. If we reduce family size, consumption patterns don't rise as much. And that can be done by empowering girls and women, providing sexual education and education on family planning.

How the world feels about climate change

Earth Action -
Climate Scorecard Report #15 highlights the results of climate change public opinion surveys that have been conducted in leading greenhouse gas emitting countries over the last five years. Looking across countries we see the following trends:
  • Citizens in many countries agree that climate change is caused by humans and that it is a major threat to national security and their own well-being. (Argentina, France, India, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa)
  • Citizens in many countries are in favor of their nations taking stronger action to reign in greenhouse gas emitters. E.g. Germany, Spain
  • There is strong support for the Paris Agreement in many countries. (China, Canada, the United States)
  • In several countries, citizens believe that their country as well as other countries are not doing enough to combat climate change, e.g. Brazil, India
  • Citizens beliefs in the importance of climate change is at a low level in certain countries, e.g. China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea
The surveys also reveal the need for increased efforts in all countries to better inform citizens about the nature of climate change and the importance of both their governments and individuals taking stronger action to mitigate the impact of global warming.

Download Climate Scorecard Report 15

A psychologist on sex abuse

Michael W. Davidson, Psychologist - The research suggests that as many as 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men have been sexually abused before the age of 18, though the Justice Department estimates that only 30 percent of cases get reported. In my clinical experience, very few are ever reported. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat with someone who was telling her story for the first time, often after years or decades. Even then, only in their therapist’s office after weeks or months of therapy, do they finally feel safe enough to share it.

... Yes, I’ve heard the false stories where a likely innocent person was accused often in the midst of a bitter custody battle. Research suggests that only 4-8 percent of reports are false and those are usually made by a parent in a custody case. In my experience, false reports are rare, while the incidence of actual sexual abuse/sexual assault is quite common. Tragically, the victims of sexual abuse are four times more likely to develop addiction, four times more likely to develop post traumatic stress disorder and three times more likely to develop depressive disorders. There are clear and significant differences between the false stories and the true. The argument that we should not believe any woman unless there is absolute proof is absurd. That argument is simply a manipulative tool used to protect abusers.

The political sex offenses that liberals and feminnists chose to ignore

Caitlan Flanagan, The Atlantic - Let us not forget the sex crimes of which the younger, stronger Bill Clinton was very credibly accused in the 1990s. Juanita Broaddrick reported that when she was a volunteer on one of his gubernatorial campaigns, she had arranged to meet him in a hotel coffee shop. At the last minute, he had changed the location to her room in the hotel, where she says he very violently raped her. She said she fought against Clinton throughout a rape that left her bloodied. At a different Arkansas hotel, he caught sight of a minor state employee named Paula Jones, and, Jones says, he sent a couple of state troopers to invite her to his suite, where he exposed his penis to her and told her to kiss it. Kathleen Willey said that she met him in the Oval Office for personal and professional advice and that he groped her, rubbed his erect penis on her, and pushed her hand to his crotch.

It was a pattern of behavior; it included an alleged violent assault; the women involved had far more credible evidence than many of the most notorious accusations that have come to light in the past five weeks. But Clinton was not left to the swift and pitiless justice that today’s accused men have experienced.

Women on Capitol Hill have a "creep" list

Washington Examiner - Female lawmakers, staff, and interns have a secret “creep list” of men on Capitol Hill who are known for allegedly making sexual comments and gestures or seeking physical relations with younger employees or interns. “Amongst ourselves, we know,” a former Senate staffer told CNN of the lawmakers notorious for their inappropriate behavior. “There is certain code amongst us, we acknowledge among each other what occurs.”

Moore's mall behavior was no secret

Al.Com  - Roy Moore's penchant for flirting with teen girls was "common knowledge" and "not a big secret" around Gadsden, according to some area residents.

..."These stories have been going around this town for 30 years," said Blake Usry, who grew up in the area and lives in Gadsden. "Nobody could believe they hadn't come out yet."

Usry, a traveling nurse, said he knew several of the girls that Moore tried to flirt with.

"It's not a big secret in this town about Roy Moore," he said. "That's why it's sort of frustrating to watch" the public disbelieve the women who have come forward, he said.

Colleagues and others who knew Moore told the Washington Post that he often walked alone around the Gadsden Mall.

Usry, who was a teenager at the time, remembers seeing Moore at the mall often.

"He would go and flirt with all the young girls," he said. "It'd seem like every Friday or Saturday night (you'd see him) walking around the mall, like the kids did."

Jason Nelms, who now lives in Tennessee but grew up in nearby Southside, was a regular at the mall when he was a teenager.

He recalled being told by a mall employee that they kept watch for an older guy who was known to pick up younger girls.

Greg Legat worked at the Record Bar, a music store near Sears in the mall, from 1981-1985. The store was just down from the back entrance of the mall, near the three-screen Mall Theatre. It was a popular place for parents dropping off their teens in the evenings and on weekends.

Legat, now 59, said an off-duty Gadsden police officer named J.D. Thomas told him about various people he should look out for when he was working. This was around 1981, and Thomas worked security at the mall.

One of the people was a pickpocket, he said, while another was someone prone to pick fights.

One was Roy Moore.

"I asked him, 'What did he do?'" Legat recalled. "He said, 'If you see him, let me know. I'll take care of it.'"

November 13, 2017

State Department using ex-KGB spy to handle security at US Moscow embassy

Daily Kos - Donald Trump, who just announced to everyone that he trusts a former KGB agent over all 17 American intelligence agencies, is allowing the former head of KGB counter-intelligence to be handed the keys to US Embassy security in Moscow. 

Mr. Viktor Budanov and his son Dmitry run Elite Security Holdings, which was just awarded the $2.83 million contract to handle security for not only the Embassy, but US consulates in several cities to include St. Petersburg. 

Mr. Budanov was a Soviet spy who became the director of the KGB's counter-intelligence division, and also headed the KGB branch in East Germany in the late 1980s. During that time, a young KGB officer named Vladimir Putin reported to him.

Even more maddening: Budanov worked with Britain's most infamous Soviet double agent, Mr. Kim Philby, after Philby defected to the USSR in 1963. According to UK court proceedings, Budanov handled sensitive operations like teaching Bulgarian agents how to kill dissidents.

GOP tax plan preserves big cut for golf course owners like Trump

NY Mag - Donald Trump repeatedly promised that he would not benefit from his own tax plan. Congressional Republicans repeatedly pledged that they would finance a “middle-class tax cut” by closing “special interest” loopholes — especially those that benefit the affluent.

These were always transparent lies. From the beginning, it was clear that the GOP plan would deliver a windfall to the Trump family, through its abolition of the estate tax, a giant cut in the rate for pass-through companies (like the Trump Organization), and a massive reduction in the corporate tax rate (which will primarily benefit wealthy shareholders). Meanwhile, the Republicans never did much to conceal that their plan would deliver more benefits to their preferred special-interest groups than to the middle class.

Still, few could have anticipated just how gratuitously the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act violates the president’s promises to the American people. Pretending that corporate tax cuts produce huge wage gains for middle-class workers is one thing. But ending deductions that benefit veterans, indebted students, orphans, and people who suffer from rare diseases — while preserving one that benefits owners of golf courses — requires almost superhuman chutzpah.

At present, the tax code provides “conservation easements” to owners of land who agree to leave their property undeveloped. The point is to encourage the preservation of forests and farmland, for the public’s benefit. But owners of private golf resorts can also access this subsidy, by promising to “conserve” their fairways and putting greens in perpetuity.

This is an extremely inefficient means of conserving open, quasi-natural space. But it’s a highly efficient way of subsidizing millionaire developers. As Bloomberg explains:

[I]n practice, the deductions that land owners take for golf courses are enormous compared with the conservation value, said Ruth Madrigal, a tax lawyer who worked on conservation easements for the U.S. Treasury department during the Obama administration. A developer can build homes and a nearby golf course, get a conservation easement on the links and claim a deduction that can pay for the entire development, she said.

“The Obama administration wanted to cut the deduction because it viewed the policy’s costs in total as far exceeding the conservation benefits,” Madrigal said.

Grad students freaking out over Trump tax plan

Trump wall to tear through three wildlife areas, churches, cemetaries, and RV park

Texas Observer reporter Melissa del Bosque has uncovered new details about the path of the border wall proposed by the Trump administration.

In a piece published Friday, del Bosque writes, “[A] map produced in May by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows where the administration expects to build 33 miles of wall in 15 different segments, including portions that would tear through three wildlife areas.” Other private land in the crosshairs include churches, cemeteries, hundreds of homeowners and retirees at an RV park.

Del Bosque also discovered a system used by U.S. officials to make determinations about wall construction. “The documents also reveal a rating system the administration is using to rank the difficulty of building each segment, based on the topography and the legal difficulty of taking over the land,” she writes.

The full story is here.

It's all over, folks

BBC - Taryn Southern, a YouTube star and content creator, has just released a song she wrote with the help of artificial intelligence.

Called Break Free, it's a brooding ballad that wouldn't sound out of place on the Hunger Games soundtrack.

Southern wrote the lyrics and melody, but the backing track was built by her laptop, after she punched in a number of settings for the song's mood, tempo and instrumentation.

"My new collaborator is not human," she grins. "It's an AI algorithm".

As a YouTuber, Southern is used to adapting new technology, and her interest in AI was sparked by an article on The Verge, describing how programmers at Sony had fed the Beatles' back catalogue into a computer and urged it to write a new Lennon-McCartney track. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Could AI eventually write songs in the style of The Beatles? And would you want it to, even if it could?

The result may have been hilariously naff, but it prompted the headline: "This AI-written pop song is almost certainly a dire warning for humanity.".....

Foreign students drop in US

NY Times - The number of newly arriving international students declined an average 7 percent in fall 2017, with 45 percent of campuses reporting drops in new international enrollment, according to a survey of nearly 500 campuses across the country by the Institute of International Education. Experts cited an uncertain social and political climate in the United States as part of the reason for the decline in enrollment.

Meet progressives elected after Trump

Evangelicals and pedophilia

Kathryn Brightbill, LA Times - We need to talk about the segment of American culture that probably doesn’t think the allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are particularly damning, the segment that will blanch at only two accusations in the Washington Post expose: He pursued a 14-year-old-girl without first getting her parents’ permission, and he initiated sexual contact outside of marriage. That segment is evangelicalism. In that world, which Moore travels in and I grew up in, 14-year-old girls courting adult men isn’t uncommon....

...As a teenager, I attended a lecture on courtship by a home-school speaker who was popular at the time. He praised the idea of “early courtship” so the girl could be molded into the best possible helpmeet for her future husband. The girl’s father was expected to direct her education after the courtship began so she could help her future husband in his work.

In retrospect, I understand what the speaker was really describing: Adult men selecting and grooming girls who were too young to have life experience. Another word for that is “predation.”

Much of the sexual abuse that takes place in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, or IFB, churches involves adult men targeting 14- to 16-year-old girls. If caught, the teenage victim may be forced to repent the “sin” of having seduced an adult man....

Prominent conservative Reformed theologian Doug Wilson has a documented history of mishandling sexual abuse cases within his congregation. Nevertheless, he continues to be promoted by evangelical leaders such as John Piper, whose Desiring God site still publishes Wilson’s work....

Growing up, I witnessed an influential religious right leader flirting with some of my teenage friends and receiving neck and shoulder massages from one of them. I’ve been expecting a scandal to break with him for years, but in the meantime, this man has put significant time into campaigning for anti-trans bathroom bills while deeming trans people “predators.”

...The evangelical world is overdue for a reckoning. Women raised in evangelicalism and fundamentalism have for years discussed the normalization of child sexual abuse. We’ve told our stories on social media and on our blogs and various online platforms, but until the Roy Moore story broke, mainstream American society barely paid attention. Everyone assumed this was an isolated, fringe issue. It isn’t.

Another sick Trump appointment

Reuters - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he has chosen former pharmaceutical company executive Alex Azar to serve as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary and vowed to lower the price of medicines. “Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next HHS Secretary. He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices,” Trump said in a post on Twitter.

Latest Alabama polls

Emerson: Moore +10
JMC Analytics: Jones +4
Opinion Savvy: Tie

Average of polls: Moore +2

November 12, 2017

50% of Puerto Rico still without power

Department of Hmm. . .


CIA chief Mike Pompeo: Putin attacked 2016 election.
DNI Dan Coats: Putin attacked 2016 election.
FBI director Christopher Wray: Putin attacked 2016 election.
NSA head Mike Rogers: Putin attacked 2016 election.
Putin: I did not attack 2016 election.
Trump: I believe Putin.

America's cruel way to punish poor debtors: take away their driver's license

US airline cancels flights to New Delhi because of smog

Independent, UK - Citing toxic smog that one official said has turned India’s capital city into a “gas chamber,” United Airlines has cancelled flights to New Delhi until the air gets better. At least in United’s eyes, the Indian capital’s smog concerns are on par with environmental disasters such as hurricanes and volcanoes — a risk to be avoided. The company said it was letting passengers switch flights without charge or helping them find seats on other carriers.

Former colleague says Moore dated high school girls

Political Wire - A former colleague of GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore said that it was “common knowledge” that the Alabama Republican dated high school girls when he worked in the Etowah County District Attorney’s Office in the 1980s, The Hill reports. Said Teresa Jones: “It was common knowledge that Roy Moore dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird. We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall… but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.”

Post - First American Republic update



Sam Smith

As the Review has unfashionably suggested from time to time, the First American Republic ended in the 1980s. I put it like this in in a talk in 2004: 
We live in a nation hated abroad and frightened at home. A place in which we can reasonably refer to the American Republic in the past tense. A country that has moved into a post-constitutional era, no longer a nation of laws but an adhocracy run by law breakers, law evaders and law ignorers. A nation governed by a culture of impunity, a term from Latin America where they know it well - a culture in which corruption is no longer a form of deviance but the norm. We all live in a Mafia neighborhood now.
It's crazy, it happened so fast, it's like in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern when Rosencrantz asks shortly before his death: "What was it all about? When did it begin? . . . Couldn't we just stay put? . . . We've done nothing wrong! We didn't harm anyone. Did we? . . . There must have been a moment, at the beginning, when we could have said -- no. But somehow we missed it.. . . Well, we'll know better next time."
Yet we have seen it all before. And it came with stories. A German professor after the World War II described it this way to journalist Martin Mayer:
What happened was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to be governed by surprise, to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.
…To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted.'

… Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

… Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven't done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing). . . . You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair. "
Thirteen years later and we still haven’t, for example, faced the fact that with the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court severely damaged American democracy by essentially turning it over to corporations and millionaires. We still believe we live in a democracy even if the Koch brothers own far more of it than we do.

It may help, however, to give an occasional update on how things have deteriorated in recent decades.

For example, not only has big money replaced ordinary citizens in determining our politics – witness the behavior of the current Congress, perhaps the most anti-citizen in history – but increased gerrymandering has weakened what power was left for the people. Right now, President Trump even has a commission whose duty – albeit not officially so – is to weaken the votes of those with whom he does not agree. And to add to the problem is something we never discuss: thanks to the shift in population of our states, over half of America is represented by only 18% of the votes in the Senate.

Here are some other things that have happened:

The distortion of the nature and role of business: Thanks in no small part to business schools, younger generations have been taught to accept major corporatism as an efficient and primary definition of good business, leaving out such key alternatives as small business, regional businesses and cooperatives. One hardly hears the word “anti-trust” mentioned any more. And few recognize that corporatism not only refers to the endemic influence of larger businesses but also to the duty of government to serve corporate interests. They had another name for this in Italy: fascism.

The distortion of the nature and role of education: Increasingly missing from public education are those matters that not only provide answers to specific questions but which provide students with the interest, curiosity, decency, and wisdom to be useful, positive, democratic and fair adults in society. Without the study of culture, moral issues, democracy, history and the arts, a student enters the world with huge gaps - yet the educational bullies insist we just ignore the matter.

Growing urbanism and smaller families – While smaller families provided needed help for capping population, it also means that, like growing urbanism, there are a smaller percentage of the population with tradition or skill for working cooperatively with others. Having lived most of my life in Washington, DC, but now in a Maine town of 7,000 I am struck by how many people I can now count on for help. For example, during a recent storm during which scores of trees fell blocking our nearby roads, a dozen or so neighbors voluntarily worked hours clearing the way without being asked but just seeing it as the right thing to do. This sense of responsibility and cooperation coincidentally contributes to a less combative and divisive politics.

Police forces increasingly acting as occupiers rather than members of a community: The disturbing number of police killings, particularly of blacks, was brought into focus recently when an officer shot the ISIS-involved man in NYC who drove his truck into a group of people. The officeer shot him in the stomach so he could live to be interviewed by officers. In other words, a presumed terrorist was treated better than a large number of black American minor offenders.

Another metaphor: During the 1968 riots in Washington, black mayor Walter Washington was called to the office of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, where he was told to start shooting looters. Washington refused, saying that "you can replace material goods, but you can't replace human beings." Hoover then said, "Well, this conversation is over." Replied Washington, "That's all right, I was leaving anyway." That’s not the way mayors talk these days.

The disappearance of cross cultural coalitions – You need look at nothing more than the stats to realize that blacks, latinos, labor or other groups can’t do it alone. But the effort to improve things have increasingly been left to niche activism, one subcategory of Americans declaring the wrongs against them and an agenda to correct it, but without organizing the support of those not like them. It may help to remember, for example, that the black civil right movement in the summer of 1964 trained and imported a thousand young whites from the north to help. You can keep identity and still work with others.

The exorcising of the white working class - A major part of the secret of the success of the Great Society was the blending of civil rights improvements with economic changes that also helped the white working class. And Franklin Roosevelt did more for poor whites in his first 100 days that liberals have done in the last four decades.

But today, the liberal presumption is that the white working class is intrinsically just a bunch of dumb racists who vote for Donald Trump. There is little understanding that liberals played a major role in turning the white working class vote over to Trump.

Even Black Panther Huey Newton noted that the African-American activist community “must also be able to realize that there are white people, brown people, red people, yellow people in this world who are totally dedicated to the destruction of this system of oppression, and we welcome that. We will always be open to working with that.”

And as Jesse Jackson pointed out about ML King: “He had this vision we should wipe out poverty, ignorance and disease, that you couldn't do it on an ethnic basis. That was not, that was never going to be in the plan to wipe out Black poverty that would leave the Hispanics in poverty or Whites or women in poverty or Native American in poverty.”

But that’s not how things work today. Thus liberals talk repeatedy about “white privilege,” ignoring the truth outlined in the book, Hillbilly Elegy:
In 1970, 25 percent of white children lived in a neighborhood with poverty rates above 10 percent. In 2000, that number was 40 percent. It’s almost certainly even higher today. As a 2011 Brookings Institution study found, “compared to 2000, residents of extreme-poverty neighborhoods in 2005–09 were more likely to be white, native-born, high school or college graduates, homeowners, and not receiving public assistance.” In other words, bad neighborhoods no longer plague only urban ghettos; the bad neighborhoods have spread to the suburbs….
There is no group of Americans more pessimistic than working-class whites. Well over half of blacks, Latinos, and college-educated whites expect that their children will fare better economically than they have. Among working-class whites, only 44 percent share that expectation. Even more surprising, 42 percent of working-class whites—by far the highest number in the survey—report that their lives are less economically successful than those of their parents’.

The environmental disaster
– The world has never had so many environmental problems yet our current government is dramatically reducing our efforts to do something about it, the media keeps the issue on the back burner, and ancillary crises such as forced emigration from unhealthy places are growing.

The lack of a moderating establishment – While the establishment is traditionally a impediment to progressive change, when a society in a state of democratic collapse, the lack of respectable public figures who citizens respect and listen to speeds up the process. A lot of this has to do with the media, which has a strong preference for the noisiest of the powerful. As a result, respected professors, ministers and other figures who use to be heard are largely ignored. The media has defined news as what the strongest and the loudest are up to. Thus the fake Christianity of white evangelicalism is given more media credit than real Christian churches. Even Bernie Sanders, who as this is written, polls as the most respected politician, takes a back media seat to the wild ones.

The collapse of the Democratic Party – The nomination of Bill Clinton was in no small part thanks to the falsely named Progressive Leadership Council which was trying to turn the Democratic Party into a lighter versions of the GOP. Clinton met their expectations in such ways as eliminating the Glass-Steagall Act (which helped to cause the recession of 2008), attacking public welfare and locking up large numbers of blacks. Barack Obama was less conservative than Clinton but was still well to the right of New Deal and Great Society Democrats. By the time Hillary Clinton came along, this GOP Lite approach proved an electoral disaster. 

And now the good news. . . 

That’s the history of the past few decades. But it was propelled by the last gasps of an aging culture that can still change politics but not its own life expectancy. In the 2016 election, Trump pulled 67% of white males 65 years and older, but only 31% of those 18-29. The most recent election was impresive for the number of young people gaining office – including transgendered and socialist. There is still no counter-culture and no clear agenda for change but, as Bob Dylan pointed out in 1964 the times are clearly a’changin’. Yes, we have to fight the old white greedsters, racists and pedophiles but we must to spare some time to build a second American republic. The time is right; we just have to take it.

November 11, 2017

Just wondering...

What is more dangerous in Alabama? Having your daughter in a public bathroom with a transgendered person or having her in a private space with a pedophile running for Senate?

Jazz break


Some progressive victories

In These Times - Larry Krasner, a civil-rights attorney who has represented activists from Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, was elected as Philadelphia’s new District Attorney in a 40-point blowout. Krasner ran on a platform of stopping mass incarceration, ending bail and civil asset forfeiture and explicitly renouncing Trump. Following his victory, he told Business Insider, “I think the Democratic Party should be madly wrapping its loving arms around progressives.”

Maine voters overwhelmingly chose to expand Medicaid in a historic referendum that will provide health coverage to tens of thousands of residents who don’t currently have it—a clear repudiation of Republicans’ attempts to gut the program through their effort to repeal Obamacare. The referendum was supported by Our Revolution, the group that grew out of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and saw at least 21 of its endorsed candidates win this election cycle.

Meanwhile, left candidate Seema Singh Perez won a seat on the Knoxville, Tenn. city council, defeating her opponent 6,105 to 4,470 to become the city’s first Indian-American council member.

Perez is a prime example of the new type of candidate blazing an electoral path for the Left in the era of Trump. After protesting the DNC for its bias against Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary, she chose to run for office for the first time this year, coming from a background in social work and healthcare—not politics. She’s also an open socialist who won the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America, a group that has seen massive growth since Trump’s election, ballooning from 6,500 members in May 2016 to more than 30,000 today (the author is a member).

Perez joins 14 other DSA-endorsed candidates who won their elections yesterday. One of them, Lee Carter, defeated Virginia GOP House of Delegates Majority Whip Jackson Miller, one of the most powerful Republicans in the state, by running on a pledge to win single-payer healthcare and take big money out of the political system. After facing a campaign of red baiting, including a flier comparing him to Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, Carter scored an upset victory—even with little backing from the state’s Democratic Party.

Socialists saw other big gains in Somerville, Mass., where two DSA members—Ben Ewen-Campen and J.T. Scott—won seats on the Board of Aldermen after beating incumbents. Overall, all seven candidates endorsed by Our Revolution, including Ewen-Campen and Scott, won in that city’s elections.

In Cuyahoga County, Oh., DSA member Tristan Rader won his election to the Lakewood City Council. In Moorhead, Minn., Red River Valley DSA cofounder Kara Gloe won a School Board seat. And in Pittsburgh, Pa., district judge candidate Mik Pappas and county council candidate Anita Prizio—both endorsed by the local DSA chapter—beat out longtime incumbents.

Other places DSA-endorsed candidates won include Cheektowaga, Peekskill and New York, N.Y., New Haven, Conn., Pleasant Hill, Ia., Billings, Mont. and Upper Darby, Penn.

These victories are not anomalies or flukes. Rather, they prove that embracing an explicitly socialist politics does not prevent candidates from winning in 2017. If anything, the socialist tag can show voters where candidates stand and what their values are. As Lee Carter explained to The New Republic, “If you’re to the left of Barry Goldwater, Republicans are going to call you a socialist anyway, so you may as well just own the label.”

As the Democratic National Committeepurges a number of Bernie Sanders-aligned members from leadership, and longtime Democratic operatives scold the party for straying too far from the ever rightward-moving “center,” Tuesday’s election results show that the Democrats’ problem isn’t a shift to the Left: It’s the party’s refusal to change.

A newly released poll shows that, nationally, the Democratic Party has hit its lowest point in favorable views in 25 years. Democrats have reason to be relieved after avoiding a potentially dispiriting loss in the Virginia governor’s race, while also coming out on top in New Jersey with Phil Murphy’s gubernatorial victory and Bill de Blasio’s re-election as mayor of New York City. However, this poll is a reminder that the party has a long way to go to work back from its lowest level of power since the 1920s.

In Hoboken, N.J., Ravi Bhalla became the nation’s first Sikh mayor after facing a racist opposition campaign that featured fliers fear mongering over “terrorism.” Minneapolis elected Andrea Jenkins, the first transgender woman of color to the city council.

Black Democrat Justin Fairfax won his race for Lieutenant Governor in Virginia in a showdown with a Trump-like Republican opponent who exclaimed at a rally, “We are going to take back Virginia the way this president is going to take back this country!” Virginia also elected the first openly transgender woman to its state legislature, Danica Roem. And in Charlotte, N.C., Democrat Vi Lyles overcame a smear campaign to become the city’s first woman of color mayor.

Eight cities to provide free legal aidto immigrants

Life Hacker - The Vera Institute of Justice has just awarded grant money to support an enterprise called the SAFE Cities Network. Cities in eight states have banded together to build a fund that will pay for legal representation for immigrants facing deportation. All cities in the network had to apply to the Vera Institute with a proposal to prove they are committed to spending public dollars on deportation defense, which will then be matched by the institute.

In conjunction with the announcement of the SAFE Cities Network, the Vera Institute released a new study that shows having access to a lawyer makes all the difference when it comes to keeping families together. The study highlights the “common misperception” that only illegal immigrants face deportation proceedings; in reality, many people are vulnerable to being thrust into the deeply complicated world of immigration law:
In fact, any non-citizen—including lawful permanent residents (green card holders), refugees, and people who entered legally on visas can be placed in deportation proceedings.
And to put some numbers to it, the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project reported that only 4% of cases had a “successful outcome” without an attorney. The NYUFUP has worked to get universal access to representation for immigration cases, and since implementing that measure, has seen a 48% successful outcome rate, which is an 1100% increase.

As of now, this is the list of cities in the SAFE network:
  • Atlanta GA
  • Austin TX
  • Baltimore MD
  • Chicago IL
  • Columbus OH
  • Dane County WI
  • Oakland/Alameda County CA
  • Prince George’s County MD
  • Sacramento CA
  • San Antonio TX
  • Santa Ana CA

Stupid Trump nominee of the week

LA Times - Brett J. Talley, President Trump’s nominee to be a federal judge in Alabama, has never tried a case, was unanimously rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Assn.’s judicial rating committee, has practiced law for only three years and, as a blogger last year, displayed a degree of partisanship unusual for a judicial nominee, denouncing “Hillary Rotten Clinton” and pledging support for the National Rifle Assn. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, approved him for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

Republicans threaten historic buildings

Planetizen  - The historic tax credit is threatened in the current version of the House tax bill released last week. Its loss would greatly reduce developers' ability to renovate historic buildings and threaten cities' ability to revitalize older districts, and cities like Philadelphia already have a hard time saving old buildings even with the credit in place.





National Trust research indicates more than 40,000 buildings have been restored nationwide, creating two million jobs. That alone is reason to save the historic tax credit.

A real Christian takes on the fake ones

Thanks in no small part to a cooperating mass media, white Christian evangelicalism proceeds with a vast array of anti-Christian values with hardly any criticism. Thus a real Christian's appearance on MSNBC - Rev. William Barber - was a refreshing exception. Said Barber:
I just can’t call it ‘Christian right.’ It’s so wrong. It’s not Christian. Gun waving politicians that support segregation is not Christian. It’s crazy. ...And people are somehow being fooled and it’s time really for there to be a major challenge to this kind of public heresy that we see going on that is so counter the real values of Christianity.