February 25, 2018

Quoestion on Facebook

Can school librarians use silencers?

Polls: Trump approval rating

45, 38, 35

Word: Teachers and guns

No automatic alt text available. 

Los Angeles bans sleeping in cars or RVs

Anti Media - Rising rent prices and low wages have resulted in thousands of people across the city of Los Angeles becoming homeless, many of them now living in cars and RVs if they were able to keep it together that well.

According to the most recent counts by the KPCC, there are at least 7,000 people live in their cars in Los Angeles. Many of these people still maintain jobs and try to live the most fulfilled lives that they can, but they are constantly facing problems from authorities.

It is such a common issue that many churches have opened up their parking lots to people living out of their cars. For example, the New Beginnings Counseling Center opened up their parking lot for a “Safe Parking program,” which was intended to provide a safe and welcome parking place for people living out of their cars. Unfortunately, under new legislation passed in Los Angeles, programs like this will be illegal, because sleeping in cars and RVs have been entirely outlawed.

How foreign correspondents handle American mass shootings

California Democratic Party won't endorse Feinstein

Politico- In a sharp rebuke of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democratic Party has declined to endorse the state’s own senior senator in her bid for reelection.

Riven by conflict between progressive and more moderate forces at the state party’s annual convention here, delegates favored Feinstein’s progressive rival, state Senate leader Kevin de León, over Feinstein by a 54 percent to 37 percent margin, according to results announced Sunday.

Neither candidate reached the 60 percent threshold required to receive the party endorsement for 2018.

The school history of Nikolas Cruz

Washington Post- Teachers said that by eighth grade he was lashing out physically — randomly bumping other students in the hallways, appearing to want to pick confrontations and fights, and at times breaking into profanity-laced tirades without any apparent trigger.

“Something would just upset him and he would just do it and come to class and act out,” one teacher said. His homework scrawls got more troublesome, including repeated tirades against American society, the comment about Obama and other writings teachers found alarming. He put a swastika on a test. He wrote about his intense interest in, and support for, guns.


February 24, 2018

Word: The math behind arming teachers tells it's not about safety

John Rothrock Let's break out a napkin and do some math...There are roughly 100,000 public schools with say 50 teachers each. So 5 million teachers get relatively cheap handguns at $500 each, or 2.5 billion dollars, not including ammo. Training, certification and annual maintenance of these new skills as specialty law enforcement costs $5000 - $10000 per teacher. So another 25 - 50 billion dollars per year to whoever trains and certifies them...Annual US gun sales are roughly 13.5 billion with 3.1 billion in profit..Still wondering why the NRA, gun manufacturers and our Republican politicians are working double time to defend this insanity? Still think it's all about protecting our children?

Black stats

Pew Research

A growing share of blacks are completing high school and college. For the first time in U.S. history, 90% of Americans ages 25 and older have completed high school, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – and the share of blacks who have done so is also at the highest level on record. In 2017, 87% of blacks ages 25 and older had a high school diploma or equivalent. Although the high school completion rate for non-Hispanic whites was higher (94%) than for blacks, the gap has been gradually shrinking. In 1993, the high school completion gap was twice as large (14 percentage points) as it is today (7 points). The share of blacks ages 25 and older who have completed four years of college or more has also roughly doubled during that span, from 12% in 1993 to 24% in 2017.

The black immigrant population has increased fivefold since 1980. Immigrants are making up a growing number of the overall U.S. population – but the black immigrant population is growing twice as fast. There were 4.2 million black immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, up from 816,000 in 1980, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data. Since 2000 alone, the number of black immigrants in the U.S. has risen 71%.

Much of the recent growth in the black immigrant population has been fueled by African migration. Africans made up 39% of the overall black immigrant population in 2016, up from 24% in 2000. Still, about half of all foreign-born blacks (49%) living in the U.S. in 2016 were from the Caribbean.
Black households have only 10 cents in wealth for every dollar held by white households. In 2016, the median wealth of non-Hispanic white households was $171,000. That’s 10 times the wealth of black households ($17,100) – a larger gap than in 2007. The Great Recession of 2007-2009 triggered a stark decline in wealth for U.S. families and further widened the already large wealth gap between white and black households. Yet the black-to-white wealth gap has evolved differently for families at different income levels, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Federal Reserve data. The wealth gap increased between middle-income black and white families, but shrank between lower-income black and white families from 2007 to 2016. Much of the reduction in the wealth gap among lower-income families was driven by a sharp decrease in wealth for whites.
There has been a steady increase in the share of Americans who view racism as a big problem in the U.S. – especially among African Americans. Since 2009, the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency, the share of those who consider racism a big problem has grown among all racial groups. This is especially true for black Americans. In 2017, about eight-in-ten blacks (81%) said racism is a big problem in society today, up from 44% eight years prior. By comparison, about half of whites (52%) said racism is a big problem in our society, up from 22% in 2009. There were also partisan divides on this question, which have grown from 2015.

An overwhelming majority of blacks (92%) say whites benefit at least a fair amount from advantages that blacks do not have. This includes nearly seven-in-ten blacks (68%) who say whites benefit a great deal. By comparison, 46% of whites say whites benefit at least a fair amount from advantages in society that blacks don’t have, with just 16% saying whites benefit a great deal. As with views on racism in the U.S., there are wide partisan divides on this question. In addition, those who do not think white people benefit from societal advantages are more likely to say they approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance, while those who think whites greatly benefit from these advantages are nearly unanimous in their disapproval of Trump.

Deportation of non-criminals rising sharply

Washington Times - People arrested by deportation officers increasingly have no criminal backgrounds, according to figures released Friday, reflecting the Trump administration’s commitment to cast a wider net.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 65 percent of arrests from October to December were criminals, compared to 82 percent during the final full three months of the Obama administration.

Looked at another way, arrests of criminals jumped 14 percent to 25,626 from 22,484, but arrests of non-criminals nearly tripled to 13,548 from 4,918.

Well, someone benefited from the Trump tax con

New York Times - In an annual letter to Berkshire’s shareholders on Saturday, the company’s chief executive, Warren Buffett, said the conglomerate recorded a more than $29 billion gain related to the tax overhaul that became law in December.

The hazard of habituation to high level crime

Sam Smith -  One thing that seems to be missing from the current coverage of the Trump scandals is that it is not typical for a former presidential campaign director to be hit with a mess of criminal charges. Nor is it normal for three other top level White House officials to plead guilty to criminal charges

If this sort of thing happened in a major business, say in New York City, we would tend to view it as a Mafia style operation. But because we have all become  somewhat passive consumers of modern political public relations faithfully transmitted by the mass media, we seem to have little sense of the historical uniqueness of what is happening to us.

Having three admitted criminals and one similarly charged is not the normal character of a presidential staff. The media should stop treating it as just another story and tell people how serious it really is

February 23, 2018

Mueller scorecard

Washington Post - To date, Mueller’s team has brought more than 100 criminal counts against 19 different individuals. In four cases, the individuals pleaded guilty before the charges were made public. Thirteen of the individuals are Russian nationals involved in efforts to influence the 2016 election through social media. Four of the individuals facing or pleading to charges worked for or with Trump’s campaign team.

Fifty-eight of the charges are contained in two indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates.

Billy Graham to lie in state in Capitol rotunda

He will be the first person to get this honor since Rosa Parks.

A little background from Wikipedia:

In 1970, Graham stated that feminism was "an echo of our overall philosophy of permissiveness" and that women did not want to be "competitive juggernauts pitted against male chauvinists". He further stated that the role of wife, mother, and homemaker was the destiny of "real womanhood" according to the Judeo-Christian ethic.

Graham was well known for his practice of not spending time alone with any woman other than his wife. This has become known as the Billy Graham rule.

Billy's daughter Bunny recounts her father denying her and her sisters higher education. As reported in The Washington Post:
Bunny remembers being groomed for the life of wife, homemaker and mother. “There was never an idea of a career for us,” she said. “I wanted to go to nursing school — Wheaton had a five-year program — but Daddy said no. No reason, no explanation, just ‘No.’ It wasn’t confrontational and he wasn’t angry, but when he decided, that was the end of it.” She added, “He has forgotten that. Mother has not.”
Captured on tapes, Graham agreed with Nixon that Jews control the American media, calling it a "stranglehold" during a 1972 conversation with Nixon, and suggesting that if Nixon was re-elected, they might be able to do something about it.

Graham supported gay conversion therapy.  Graham opposed same-sex marriage. In 2012 he took out full page ads when a battle over a proposed constitutional amendment in North Carolina to ban same-sex marriage was put up for a vote.

The role of psychiatric drugs in violence

Global Research -“The financial interests of the psychiatric industry is to feed this drug industry,” said Jonathan Emordin a short documentary video.“ And the drug industry’s financial interest is to come up with the agents to feed the psychiatric industry.
“The psychiatric industry, then, is endlessly engaged in identifying new disorders,” he continued, “which can then be treated with psychiatric drugs. Now psychiatric drugs are the primary drugs that are consumed in America.”
He’s right about that. In October 2011, Harvard Medical School noted the “astounding” increase in the use of antidepressants by Americans. According to a report by “the National Center for Health Statistics , the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (people ages 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008,” wrote Peter Wehrwein.

By December 2016, as reported by the Scientific American, fully one-in-six Americans were taking a psych drug.

Emord says the studies show the number is higher — one-in-five Americans. And he believes there is a substantive link between increased psychiatric drug use, especially by younger Americans, and the rash of school shootings.

The attorney notes that psych drugs are known to produce dangerous side effects that include thoughts of and/or tendencies towards suicide and, importantly, violence. As such, “shouldn’t we expect aberrant behavior to be cropping up all over the nation?” Emord said.

The attorney added that it’s shocking there isn’t more outrage over the use of drugs even the FDA has admitted can cause dangerous side effects and the high number of school shooters in recent years that have been taking them.The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International agrees.
“There is overwhelming evidence that psychiatric drugs cause violence. 27 International drug regulatory warnings cite violence, mania, hostility, aggression, psychosis and even homicidal ideation. Individuals under the influence of such drugs and committing these acts of senseless violence are not limited to using guns are not limited to just schools,” the CCHRI said on the organization’s website.
The organization reports that “at least 36 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs.” The result: 172 people wounded and 80 people killed.

23 state attorneys general refile net neutrality suit

CNET - A coalition of 23 state attorneys general refiled a lawsuit Thursday challenging the Federal Communications Commission's rollback of Obama-era net neutrality regulations as the commission published its final notice of the repeal in the Federal Register.

The coalition, lead by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, filed a lawsuit in January to block the repeal of the rules but agreed to withdraw it Friday and wait for the FCC's publication. Publishing the notice to the Federal Register begins a 60-day clock until the rules are removed and allows for the filing of legal challenges.

"Today, the FCC made official its illegal rollback of net neutrality -- and, as promised, our coalition of attorneys general is filing suit," Schneiderman said in a statement announcing the lawsuit (PDF).

"Consumers and businesses in New York and across the country have the right to a free and open internet, and our coalition of attorneys general won't stop fighting to protect that right," he said.

Amnesty International sees decline in human rights

NPR- Amnesty International released its annual report highlighting a worsening of human rights worldwide.

The report covering 159 countries claims that increasingly world leaders are "undermining the rights of millions," either by turning a blind eye to violations of human rights or by perpetrating them.

It warned that the U.S. had taken "a step backward," saying that the Trump administration's early attempts in 2017 to ban all citizens of several Muslim majority countries was "transparently hateful," and "set a dangerous precedent" for other governments to follow.

Poll: gun control

The Hill -Seventy-one percent of Americans, including 53 percent of gun owners, say restrictions on gun ownership should be tightened, up from 64 percent in the same poll last October.

Just 23 percent of Americans say gun laws should remain the same while 5 percent say the laws should be less strict.

Support for an assault weapons ban is more divided.

Just over half of Americans, 54 percent, would support a congressional candidate who favors banning such weapons, while the poll finds that 57 percent of gun owners would vote against such a candidate. Support for an assault weapons ban among gun owners sits at 35 percent.

Billy Graham and the gospel of fear

February 22, 2018

Mississippi disenfranchises one of ten voters for felony convictions

Sentencing Project -  State felony disenfranchisement laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia prevent 6.1 million American citizens from voting for a specified period of time because of their criminal record.1) In Mississippi, 9.63% of citizens in the state are disenfranchised, or nearly 1 of every 10 adults. This rate is more than triple the national rate of disenfranchisement (2.47%), which affects 1 of every 40 American adults.

Mississippi is one of only 12 states where individuals may be disenfranchised while incarcerated, under criminal justice supervision outside of prison, or permanently in many cases. Restrictions on voting after completion of sentence apply to Mississippi residents convicted of disqualifying offenses outlined in the state constitution including: murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement or bigamy.2) Today, there are 22 crimes3) that disenfranchise Mississippi residents from voting. In 2005, the Mississippi Attorney General added 11 new disfranchising crimes.4)

Overall, an estimated 218,181 people in Mississippi were disenfranchised as of 2016. Of this total, only 7 percent are incarcerated. The remaining 93 percent are living in the community either under probation or parole supervision, or have completed their criminal sentence. The number of African American residents disenfranchised in Mississippi numbered 127,130 in 2016 or nearly 16% of the black electorate.

Nationally, more than three-quarters of the 6.1 million disenfranchised citizens are not incarcerated, but are living in the community under felony probation or parole supervision, or have completed their sentences. The scale of disenfranchisement has risen dramatically along with the expansion of the criminal justice system since the 1970s. In 1976 an estimated 1.2 million people were disenfranchised.

The bottled water con

Ecowatch -  Bottled water companies have relied on predatory marketing practices and exorbitant lobbying efforts to sell Americans on the inaccurate belief that pre-packaged water is cleaner and safer than tap water—a notion that is costing U.S. households about $16 billion per year.

In a new report entitled "Take Back the Tap," Food & Water Watch explains that 64 percent of bottled water comes from municipal tap water sources—meaning that Americans are often unknowingly paying for water that would otherwise be free or nearly free.

A gallon of bottled water costs about $9.50—nearly 2,000 times the price of tap water for municipal taxpayers.

Bottled water companies including Nestlé and Coca-Cola have succeeded in selling their products through predatory marketing tactics.

The industry frequently targets low-income groups, people of color, and immigrant communities—people who may have lacked or still lack access to safe water—for their marketing campaigns. In 2014, Nestlé spent upwards of $5 billion advertising its Pure Life brand, with $3.8 billion going to Spanish-language TV ads.

San Francisco to offer free community college

Good Education  Community colleges can provide an important ladder to help low-income students make their way to the middle class. According to Georgetown University, nearly 30% of Americans with an associate’s degrees now make more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

The city of San Francisco just took a huge step in making higher education affordable to students from all walks of life by becoming the first U.S. city to offer free community college. Starting in the fall, all San Francisco residents are eligible for free tuition at the City College of San Francisco. Currently, students pay $46 per credit.

Nearly 30,000 students will benefit from the new program, including low-income students who already receive fee waivers from the school. As part of the new program, low-income full-time students are eligible to receive $250 per semester to help defray the costs of books and transportation.

Trump's war on science tracked

The psychological cost of whistlebclowing

Tllburg Univerity - Whistleblowers play a very important and indispensable role in society. However the effects of blowing the whistle on whistleblowers are dramatic, according to a new empirical study of Tilburg University. About 80% report very negative effects on work and wages, and almost 50% very negative effects on family life. About 45% suffer from clinical levels of mental health problems such as anxiety and/or depressive symptoms.

These are the main outcomes of a study among 27 Dutch whistleblowers, i.e. people who blew the whistle about a case of misconduct, and eventually reported the misconduct outside the organization (such as an inspection agency or media) because their complaints had no effects (besides for instance retaliations). To gain insight in the relative prevalence of mental health problems among whistleblowers, we compared them with matched controls, people with work disabilities, cancer patients, people without physical diseases, and a representative sample of the Dutch population.

The prevalence of mental health problems among whistleblowers is about six times higher than among matched controls. The prevalence is comparable with the prevalence of mental health problems two to three weeks post-disaster among Dutch residents affected by a major disaster. In addition, about half of the whistleblowers used mental health services in the past 12 months. Results furthermore showed that recent whistleblowers did not differ in symptom levels from those who blew the whistle many years ago. This suggests that many whistleblowers suffer from chronic mental health problems.

February 21, 2018

Student walkout across the country

42% of major cities have more renters than homeowners

A recent RENTCafé study finds that almost a quarter of the 100 largest U.S. cities have changed from homeowner- to renter-majority from 2006 and 2016. That boosts the total number of renter-dominated big cities to 42

Current polls: Trump approval

Margins in latest polls. Incumbent party in bold

40, 37,45

In July, a Pew Research Center study found that 58 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents believe colleges and universities have a negative effect “on the way things are going in the country".

We spend too little on the military: 33%

Percent who would blame GOP if DACA solution not found: 58

Democrats 11, 4, 3, 15

 Percent of women in Hollywood who say they've suffered sexual harassment

Support background checks: 97%
Support stronger gun control: 66% (highest yet)

Support  51% v. 37% in Dec

Biden 35
Sanders 24
Warren 15

Economy 71
Jobs 62
Budget deficit 48


Florida: Nelson D - Scott R -  6, 1, 4
Michigan: Stabenow D - Various R - 21, 21

Utah: Romney-R Wilson- D 46

Reynolds R  Boulton D - 4
Maryland Hogan-R Baker-D - 10 
New Hampshire: Sununu-R  Various D - 10-14

Summary: One Democratic senator in potential trouble. One GOP governor in potential trouble

The malicious use of artificial intelligence

Atlanta deals with unfair bail law

Salon - Atlanta's City Council just unanimously voted and adopted a move to reform Atlanta’s cash bail system, which frequently targets, jails and ultimately upends the lives of its poorest citizens for some of the most minor and non-violent misdemeanors. The decision took a heated six hours to reach a 13-0 vote, and has become the latest protest in a growing number of concerted efforts against the American justice system's notorious bail scam.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed the proposal that stipulated people guilty of nuisance offenses should not be jailed for unnecessarily lengthy durations — think in terms of days, weeks and months — simply because they do not have the financial power to pay fines starting at $100 and going up to $500 and more. The reform will take effect a month after Bottoms signs the proposal. Once active, the Atlanta Detention Center will be authorized to let people guilty of minor misdemeanors out on their own personal recognizance as long as they promise to appear in court on demand.

The rise of interethnic marriages

Guardian -It’s been half a century since the US supreme court decriminalized interracial marriage. Since then, the share of interracial and interethnic marriages in America has increased fivefold, from 3% of all weddings in 1967 to 17% in 2015.

The Loving v Virginia ruling was a clear civil rights victory, but as Anna Holmes reflects in a recent article for the New York Times, understanding who benefits from that win and how is a much more complicated story.

For a start, there’s huge geographic variation in where intermarriage happens; it’s more common in metropolitan areas than rural places (18% compared to 11%) according to a Pew analysis of the Census Bureau’s figures. But those are just averages – US metropolitan areas vary significantly from Honolulu, Hawaii, where 42% of weddings are interracial to Jackson, Mississippi where the figure is just 3%.
Overall, the most common type of intermarriage is between a partner who is white and one who is Hispanic of any race – those relationships accounted for 38% of all intermarriages in 2010. White-Asian couples accounted for another 14% of intermarriages, and white-black couples made up 8%. You can find detailed maps of intermarriage patterns at a county level in this Census Bureau poster.
There are gender patterns in this data too. In 2008, 22% of black male newlyweds chose partners of another race, compared to just 9% of black female newlyweds. The gender pattern is the opposite among Asians. While 40% of Asian females married outside their race in 2008, just 20% of Asian male newlyweds did the same. For whites and Hispanics though, Pew found no gender differences.

Word: What populism was really about

Dani Rodrick, NY Times - President Trump’s tough talk on trade and the tariffs he recently imposed on imported washing machines and solar panels, as well as the ones he threatened on foreign steel and aluminum, would seem straight out of the populist playbook. But in terms of targeting the real grievances of his popular base, they largely miss the mark.

The early history of American populism, culminating in the New Deal, suggests a more productive and less damaging kind of populism. When populism succeeds, it does so not by cosmetic gimmicks but by going after the roots of economic injustice directly.

At the 1896 Democratic National Convention, the 36-year-old former Nebraska congressman William Jennings Bryan delivered what became one of the most famous lines of American political oratory: “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” Bryan’s immediate target was the gold standard, an emblem of the globalization of his day, which he blamed for the economic difficulties of what he called the “toiling masses.” Bryan ran for president that year as the joint candidate of the Democratic Party and of the People’s Party, also known as the Populist Party.

Sam Smith, 2008 - There have only been two Democratic presidents over the past three-quarters of a century who have gotten significantly more than 50% of the vote: Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, each of whom received 61% in one election. While neither fit the definition of a populist, many of their programs - from FDR's minimum wage and social security to LBJ's war on poverty and education legislation - were part of a populist agenda.Since LBJ, the party has increasingly deserted its populist causes and been trapped between defeat and a tantalizing break-even division with the GOP.

February 20, 2018

Drugs and mass shootings

New American -  The Parkland, Florida, shooter .... was on medication for emotional issues, his aunt related. This is now a familiar story,..

As The Guardian reported last year, “Pharmaceutical companies spend far more than any other industry to influence politicians,” having poured “close to $2.5bn into lobbying and funding members of Congress over the past decade.” This dwarfs the “gun lobby’s” political contributions, mind you.

But what about pharmaceuticals’ contributions to mass shootings? Of course, correlation doesn’t mean causation, but it can provide clues as to where causation may lie — and the correlation between mass shooters and psychiatric drug use certainly exists.

Consider Newtown, Connecticut, killer Adam Lanza, who killed 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013. He also was on medication, according to family friend Louise Tambascio. That’s all we heard about it, however; as Kupelian points out, there “was little journalistic curiosity or follow-up.”

But there should be. As Kupelian also informs, “A disturbing number of perpetrators of school shootings and similar mass murders in our modern era were either on — or just recently coming off of — psychiatric medications.” He then provides some examples (all quotations are Kupelian’s):

• “Columbine mass-killer Eric Harris was taking Luvox — like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor and many others, a modern and widely prescribed type of antidepressant drug called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.” Along with fellow student Dylan Klebold, Harris shot 13 to death and wounded 24 in a headline-grabbing 1999 rampage. “Luvox manufacturer Solvay Pharmaceuticals concedes that during short-term controlled clinical trials, 4 percent of children and youth taking Luvox — that’s one in 25 — developed mania, a dangerous and violence-prone mental derangement characterized by extreme excitement and delusion.”

• Twenty-five-year-old Patrick Purdy murdered five children and wounded 30 in a schoolyard shooting rampage in Stockton, California, in 1989. He’d been taking “Amitriptyline, an antidepressant, as well as the antipsychotic drug Thorazine.”

• “Kip Kinkel, 15, murdered his parents in 1998 and the next day went to his school, Thurston High in Springfield, Oregon, and opened fire on his classmates, killing two and wounding 22 others. He had been prescribed both Prozac and Ritalin.”

WND’s Leo Hohmann adds to the picture, having reported in 2015 (all quotations are his):

• “Aaron Ray Ybarra, 26, of Mountlake Terrace, Washington, allegedly opened fire with a shotgun at Seattle Pacific University in June 2014, killing one student and wounding two others.” Ybarra “said he’d been prescribed with Prozac and Risperdal to help him with his problems.”

• “Jose Reyes, the Nevada seventh-grader who went on a shooting rampage at his school in October 2013 was taking a prescription antidepressant [Prozac] at the time….”

• “Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis sprayed bullets at office workers and in a cafeteria on Sept. 16, 2013, killing 13 people including himself. Alexis had been prescribed [generic antidepressant] Trazodone by his Veterans Affairs doctor.”

• “In 1988, 31-year-old Laurie Dann went on a shooting rampage in a second-grade classroom in Winnetka, Ill., killing one child and wounding six. She had been taking the antidepressant Anafranil as well as Lithium, long used to treat mania.”

• “In Paducah, Kentucky, in late 1997, 14-year-old Michael Carneal, son of a prominent attorney, traveled to Heath High School and started shooting students in a prayer meeting taking place in the school’s lobby, killing three and leaving another paralyzed. Carneal reportedly was on Ritalin.”

• “In 2005, 16-year-old Jeff Weise, living on Minnesota’s Red Lake Indian Reservation, shot and killed nine people and wounded five others before killing himself. Weise had been taking Prozac.”

• “47-year-old Joseph T. Wesbecker, just a month after he began taking Prozac in 1989, shot 20 workers at Standard Gravure Corp. in Louisville, Kentucky, killing nine. Prozac-maker Eli Lilly later settled a lawsuit brought by survivors.”

States: Same ownership rates, big difference in murders

Sam Smith, 2016 - One of the problems with anti-gun efforts is that they steadfastly ignore other factors involved in American's tendency towards violence. Here are a couple of examples:

- Mississippi has approximately the same rate of gun ownership as New Hampshire yet has five times as many murders per capita. The same is true of Louisiana and Maine: five times as many murders per capita in Louisiana despite roughly the same rate of gun ownership.

- As this chart from School Survival indicates, the growth in school shootings is a fairly new phenomenon while guns aren't. Why is there so little discussion of other possible causes such as bad reactions to psychiatric drugs (with which many school shooters were being treated), the growth of violent video games & movies, the collapse of American culture generally and the stressful rise of test driven public education?

Record breaking number of women running for Congress

NPR - At latest count, 431 women were running for or were likely to run for the House nationwide — 339 Democrats and 92 Republicans. At this point in 2016, there were fewer than half that: 212. Likewise, 50 women are running for or likely to run for Senate, compared to 25 at this point in 2016. Many have not officially filed for office yet — filing deadlines have not occurred yet in many states. But thus far, this year is on track to break records.

The military taught Nikolas Cruz how to kill

Pat Elder, World Beynd War - Nikolas Cruz, the south Florida shooter, was enrolled in the Army’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps  program as a 9th grader at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Army taught Cruz to shoot lethal weapons at a very young and impressionable age.

Few in America have connected the dots between military indoctrination and firearms instruction on the one hand, and the propensity for training mass killers, whether their crimes are committed as enlisted soldiers in atrocities overseas or in American high schools.

There are 1,600 American high schools that enroll students in military-run marksmanship programs, teaching children as young as 13 to shoot lethal weapons. It’s probably not the wisest public policy.

The JROTC program is highly respected at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. All proceeds from the sale of the school’s branded products at the school’s “company store” help fund the JROTC battalion. Revenues from pizza sales also finance the JROTC program. The Stoneman High JROTC Military Ball will be held on April 21st this year at the Marriot Heron Bay. Nikolas Cruz won’t be there.

Department of Good Stuff: Peace and war

War Department
Torture Veterans
Can we admit that we've failed in the Mid East and start to move on?
How war hurts the economy
What Vietnam failed to teach us and the French Behind the Paris killings Backing off of hate
The good thing about war
Essays on war
Mission creep: the militarizing of America
Spooks & spies
All war all the time
The biggest threast to us: ourselves
Why is the military sacred?
A speech CSPAN didn't like
American Friends Service Committee
Costs of War Project
Veterans for Peace
War is a Crime
World Beyond War
Daniel Ellsberg
Tim Shorrock
Spy Talk
Guide to how we helped create ISIS & other terror groups

Of superheroes and super media

Sam Smith- Four days after the Parkland killings I went to see Black Panther. I normally avoid such films because of their level of gratuitous violence, but given the rap on Black Panther, I gave it a try.

As I watched I began to wonder if I end up among those blamed for some future mass killing. And was this really what the civil rights movement had come to?

On the first point, I found a suggestion that science isn’t all that hot on superheroes as a model for our society. A Science Daily article noted last year:
There's a lot of good that kids can take away from watching their favorite superheroes -- defending and protecting the weak, using their talents to help others and fighting for a cause that's bigger than themselves, to name a few.
BYU family life professor Sarah M. Coyne decided to study what it was, exactly, that preschool-aged boys and girls took away from exposure to superhero culture, and it wasn't the many positive traits that shone through.

"So many preschoolers are into superheroes and so many parents think that the superhero culture will help their kids defend others and be nicer to their peers," Coyne said, "but our study shows the exact opposite. Kids pick up on the aggressive themes and not the defending ones."

Coyne found that children who frequently engage with superhero culture are more likely to be physically and relationally aggressive one year later. She even found the children were not more likely to be defenders of kids being picked on by bullies and were not more likely to be prosocial.

Last spring, Coyne authored a study on the effects of Disney Princess culture on young children, finding the perpetuation of stereotypes that could have damaging effects. …

" I'd say to have moderation," Coyne said. "Have your kids involved in all sorts of activities, and just have superheroes be one of many, many things that they like to do and engage with."
Which means it’s unlikely that I will kill anyone in the near future, but at the same time, for someone who grew up with Martin Luther King as a role model rather than Black Panther it feels like there’s something missing in our collective lives.

The worst example, of course, is our despicable president but at some point we have to start admitting that Donald Trump is the result of earlier disasters, not merely the cause of our present ones.

As we look for the reasons for our collective collapse, it is hard to avoid the likelihood that the media has played a strikingly major role in it. As the media has become increasingly monopolistic it has increasingly defined the world about which it is meant to be objectively reporting. As I wrote some four decades ago:
As late as the 1950s more than half of all reporters lacked a college degree. Since that time there has been increasing emphasis on professionalism in journalism; witness the growth of journalism schools, the proliferation of turgid articles on the subject, and the preoccupation with “objectivity” and other “ethical issues.” There has also been an interesting parallel growth in monopolization of the press.

Among the common characteristics of professions is that they are closed shops and have strong monopolistic tendencies. The more training required to enter a field, the more you can weed out socially, politically, and philosophically unsuitable candidates; and armed with a set of rules politely known as canons or codes of ethics but also operating as an agreement for the restraint of trade, one can eliminate much of the competition.
This is not just a political problem, it is a cultural one. MSNBC and Fox help reduce the approved commentators on life to politicians and members of the media. Educators, thinkers, moral voices from the church and elsewhere no longer matter because they lack the revered qualities of power and ratings.

Thus we have moved in a little over a year from a presidential administration to presidential dysfunction and from policies and programs to provocation and prevarication, the latter attracting far more viewers.

Ask yourself: if ML King were alive today, what sort of coverage would he get?

Morality, decency and wisdom - absent a mass killing - are no longer generally considered news and certainly not worthy of superhero status.

It is not surprising therefore that so many of those men guilty of sexual abuse come from either the corporate or entertainment world. These are the capitals of hegemonic freedom. The only really needed virtue is power.

Faced with something similar in the 1960s, we started an underground press and a counterculture. We do not have to be controlled by either channel 39 or 49. By super media or superheroes. We can still create another way of being.

February 19, 2018

Why March for Our Lives could be very important

Sam Smith- Change can’t always be predicted. In February 1960, four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College sat down at a white-only Woolworths lunch counter in Greensboro, NC. Within two weeks, there were sit-ins in fifteen cities in five southern states and within two months they had spread to fifty four cities in nine states

Are we experiencing something like that now? Are the post Millennial students of March for Our Lives the Greensboro the long awaited changers of our time? Stay tuned.

Philip Bump, Washington Post- This is the first premeditated mass shooting at this scale that involved people who both grew up entirely in a world in which mass shootings were common and which targeted people old enough to have a voice. They are at an age at which political awareness blooms

Not only are they old enough to be heard, those in their late teens are also at an age when politics surges in importance.

Voter turnout increases as people get older, a function of greater personal stability (moving less often), and that voting tends to be habitual. But there’s evidence that those who are newly able to vote do so much more heavily than people even slightly older, in part a function of the novelty of being able to do so.

More broadly, the events experienced when you’re 18 are three times as powerful as events experienced at age 40 in terms of forming political views, according to analysis conducted by Catalist in 2014. The ages from 14 to 24 were found to be the most formative years.

Young people are also more likely to be politically liberal, although they’re only slightly more likely to be supportive of gun-control measures. They’re not cynical

At ProPublica, Alec MacGillis writes that pessimism among liberals after years of seeing no significant changes to the nation’s gun laws can be self-fulfilling.

“This world-weary defeatism is self-fulfilling in its own way,” he writes, “and helps explain why Washington hasn’t taken action to address the killing.” Those pushing for change are dismissed as quixotic, he argues, and those who oppose new laws aren’t forced to defend their positions.

The teens in Parkland haven’t been part of the political discussion and don’t show that same defeatism.

Minimum wage laws poorly enforced

Politico- As Democrats make raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of their 2018 campaigns, and Republicans call for states to handle the issue, both are missing an important problem: Wage laws are poorly enforced, with workers often unable t recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor.

That’s the conclusion of a nine-month investigation by POLITICO, which found that workers are so lightly protected that six states have no investigators to handle minimum-wage violations, while 26 additional states have fewer than 10 investigators. Given the widespread nature of wage theft and the dearth of resources to combat it, most cases go unreported. Thus, an estimated $15 billion in desperately needed income for workers with lowest wages goes instead into the pockets of shady bosses.

How banks still engage in housing discrimination

Scholars misplace key presidents

Sam Smith- A recent NY Times survey of  scholars on who were the best presidents shows some bizarre results, particularly in its ranking of Lyndon Johnson, who got more good legislation passed in less time than anyone, albeit also being someone you wouldn't want near your daughter.

Democratic scholars ranked the unsubstantial Barack Obama two places ahead of Johnson and one place ahead of Truman. Independent scholars squeezed Johnson between Obama and Clinton.

The path of multigenerational home sharing

NY Times -After the late 1800s, as two economists pointed out in a landmark 2000 study, most elderly widows lived with one of their children — so common a practice that it developed a nostalgic sheen, enshrined as the way things ought to be.

In 1940, however, that arrangement started crumbling. The proportion of older widows living with children declined from about 60 percent that year to 20 percent by the 1990 census.

Did Americans stop loving their mothers in 1940? No, but their parents began receiving checks from a just-enacted New Deal program called Social Security and no longer had to rely financially on their families.

...A decade or so ago, as demographers began reporting an uptick in shared and multigenerational housing, the trend again looked to be economically driven, this time by the Great Recession.

A Census Bureau report noted that the number of shared households had jumped more than 11 percent between 2007 and 2010. The spike came primarily from younger people — buffeted by unemployment, foreclosures and student debt — moving in with their parents or other relatives.

Multigenerational households, which hit a historic low of 12 percent of American households in 1980, reached 19 percent in 2014, Pew reported.

Public radio hit hard by abuse cases

NY Times -Of all the realms of media that have been shaken by the #MeToo movement, perhaps the most surprising has been public radio, the home of virtuous journalism and thoughtful, warm-voiced commentary.

Like Fox News, Vice Media and NBC News, the tweedy world of public broadcasting — a complex ecosystem of local stations and national syndicators, with NPR at the center — has seen some of its most popular figures fall in recent months, including Garrison Keillor, Leonard Lopate, Jonathan Schwartz and John Hockenberry.

The reckoning is not over. On Wednesday, WBUR in Boston said it had fired Tom Ashbrook, the host of “On Point,” a call-in show heard on 290 stations, after an investigation found that he had “created an abusive work environment.”

These revelations may pose risks to the all-important bond that public media organizations form with their listeners, whom they also rely on for financial contributions. The stations already face the aging of their audiences, rising pressure from podcasts and streaming outlets, and a renewed proposal by the Trump administration to cut all federal funding for public broadcasting.

“The relationships that people have with the presenters and reporters on NPR feels very personal,” said Vivian Schiller, a former chief executive of NPR who has also held senior positions at Twitter, The New York Times and elsewhere.

“People make assumptions about who these people are based on their voice and what feels like an intimate, one-on-one relationship,” Ms. Schiller added, “so the potential for backlash is that much greater if you feel that you have been betrayed.”


When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist. —Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop, Brazil 1964-1975

February 18, 2018

Department of Good Stuff: Politics links

Political news
GOP news
Obama news
Campaign financing
Facing the quarter century Democratic Party disaster
Joe Biden
Democracy for America
Democratic Socialists of America
Green Party news
Movement Voter Project
Our Revolution
People's Action
Progressive Democrats of America
Working Families Party
The Trump investigation
Trump and fascism
How to revive progressive politics
What we can learn from the South
Trump didn't just happen
Yes, something's happenin'
Practical Guide for Resisting Trump Agenda
Trump's gang
Trump & business
Trump & the law
Trump & peoples
How Mad Men control politics
No one left but us
Brain drain: The hazards of grad school politics
A capital without doubt Why politics doesn't matter much anymore
Democratic Party news
Hints your country may becoming fascist
How minorities change America
The end of politics
Sex & politics in DC
All in the family
History's hints for third parties
The politics of myth
Bucking the system: A scorecard over time
Why you shouldn't vote for a corporate exec
Bringing politics home
The non political side of politics
What's a bribe?
When bribery is called free speech
Sam Smith's 1999 speech on campaign financing

Jazz break

Your Mind is on Vacation

Mose Allison Trio

The GOP mind at work

Patheos -According to reports, when a plate of ribs was delivered to the table, Corbin claimed “they remind me of an old joke.”  [South Carolina State Senator Thomas Corbin] proceeded to call women a “lesser cut of meat,” explaining:

"Well, you know God created man first. Then he took the rib out of man to make woman.  And you know, a rib is a lesser cut of meat."

Two indicted Russians spent time in Michigan

WXYZ, Detroit-Two Russians charged by the FBI in an indictment traveled to Michigan in their efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. According to the indictment, Aleksandra Krylova and Anna Bogacheva visited Michigan and 8 other states in a 12-day span in June of 2014 to "gather intelligence" and report back to the internet research agency - an alleged online troll group linked to the Kremlin in Russia.

Philadelphia suing pharmaceuticals over opioids and dropping pot possession charges

Philadelphia Magazine -On the same day a Philly.com op-ed was published in which Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (and Mayor Kenney) admitted the failure that was the “War on Drugs,” in the 1980s and ’90s, the DA’s office announced that it is suing 10 pharmaceutical companies in connection with the opioid epidemic and is dropping all outstanding marijuana possession charges.

In just a little over a month since taking office, Krasner has already built on the progress that began under former mayor Michael Nutter’s administration by further reforming the city’s drug policy to the point where getting busted with pot now no longer means a court date is in your future. Krasner says citations are issued approximately 90 percent of the time someone is caught with marijuana.

How the Trump regime is quietly destroying government

Salon -Mick Mulvaney warned us that it was coming. After all, in 2014 he called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the independent government agency he now temporarily heads, a "sick, sad joke."

Three years later, Mulvaney was installed as the head of the agency he once decried — a move that smelled like a hostile takeover by the the powerful financial institutions that are now running the show. It appeared calculated, and unmistakably placed Mulvaney at direct odds with the very purpose of the agency: to protect the consumer.

It certainly fits the broader theme of the Trump administration.

A few months prior, during a visit to CPAC — the pinnacle for conservatives in Washington — then-Trump aide Steve Bannon said that the administration's goal was "the destruction of the administrative state."

"Since he [Mulvaney] has taken this role on," Ruth Susswein, the deputy director of National Priorities at Consumer Action, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, told Salon, "he has actively chosen to do whatever is in his power to dismantle the agency from within. That's his goal."

She explained that Mulvaney would "abolish the agency if he could, but legally he can't." In the past, as a former Republican U.S. representative, Mulvaney co-sponsored legislation that would eliminate the agency.

As the acting brass, Mulvaney has taken several drastic steps to reduce the CFPB's authority and ability to hold powerful financial institutions, such as banks, payday lenders and credit card companies, accountable for fraudulent or otherwise predatory behavior. He has put on hold a rule that imposed restrictions on short-term payday loans, and dropped investigations into at least one company that donated to his political campaign in the past.