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Monday, March 18, 2019


Shattering Myths about Business and Society
By Phil Mattera for the Dirt Diggers Digest

Image result for Boeing’s 737 Max crashThose who believe that corporate executives are virtuous, government regulators are overreaching, and that we live in a meritocracy have been cringing every time they listened to a newscast in recent days. 

That’s because two major stories have been shattering myths about the way things work in the U.S. business world and the broader society.

The controversy over whether Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft should be grounded in the wake of a deadly crash in Ethiopia revealed the true nature of business regulation in the United States.

Contrary to the image, depicted ad nauseum by corporate apologists, of bureaucrats crippling companies with unnecessary and arbitrary rules, we saw in the Federal Aviation Administration an agency that is essentially held captive by airlines and aircraft manufacturers.

It was only after the rest of the world ignored assurances from Boeing and took the common-sense step of grounding the planes that the FAA finally acted.

The agency, its parent Department of Transportation and the Trump Administration had to be shamed into fulfilling their responsibility of protecting the public.

It remains to be seen whether the Trump Administration will temper its anti-regulatory rhetoric after this incident in which it was clear that the country needed more rather than less oversight.

Unfortunately, the problem goes beyond rhetoric.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Raimondo censured state Health Department critique of fossil fuel project


“The office of Governor Raimondo did not respond to several requests for comment.” That sentence — a variation of it has been written many times by reporters during the past five years — appeared 12 paragraphs into a disturbing March 11 report by DeSmog.

DeSmog, launched in 2006 to track “global warming misinformation campaigns,” obtained documents that show that last summer Gov. Gina Raimondo nixed a letter by the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) critical of National Grid’s Fields Point Liquefaction Project right before it was to be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

The agency approved the project three months later.

According to the internal documents, obtained by DeSmog through an open records request, in June 2018 several DOH staffers began writing a letter in response to the project’s environmental assessment

The assessment, which was done by a contractor paid by National Grid, concluded that the LNG project will “not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.”

A final draft of the DOH letter was ready for submission to FERC in late July. The letter detailed various critiques of FERC’s assessment, including the ignoring of vulnerable neighborhoods and public-safety concerns. 

Earlier drafts discussed issues relating to climate change and environmental justice, but those concerns didn’t make it into the final DOH letter. It made no difference, however, since the letter was never sent.

On July 25, 2018, the last day of the FERC comment period for the controversial Providence project, DOH director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott e-mailed staffers to inform them she had been instructed “on behalf” of Raimondo not to send it.

"When I was young..."

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 10.42.03 PM

Trump's selective perspective on immigration

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says 'I'm Donald Trump. My dad's parents were German. My mom's parents were Scottish. My mom was born in Scotland. My first wife was (zech. My current wife is Slovenian. Both used me as an "anchor husband" to become citizens. NOW GIVE ME A WALL TO KEEP OUT ALL THOSE DARN IMMIGRANTS WHO ARE RUINING AMERICA! OCCUPY DEMOCRATS'

Most Microbes in Hummingbird Feeders Do Not Pose Health Hazard

Feeders or Flowers? Researchers Compare Microbes
By Kathy Keatley Garvey in Human & Animal Health

 jerk hummingbird move it pushy GIFMany people set up hummingbird feeders in their yards to nurture and watch these high-energy pollinators. But could the sugar water they provide be impacting these tiny feathered friends?

A study led by the University of California, Davis, is one of the first to address the potential for sugar water from hummingbird feeders to act as a vector for avian — or even zoonotic — pathogens. 

It found that the majority of microbes growing in feeders do not likely pose a significant health hazard to birds or humans.

Young people fight for the future

Youth Climate Strike Rhode Island

Students across the world, in as many as 123 countries and 2000 cities, walked out of school today to attend local actions in conjunction with the Youth Climate Strike. Across the world tens of thousands of youth held marches and rallies to demand action on the looming crisis of climate change.

The local event was held on the front steps of the Rhode Island State House and was attended by over 250 students from across Rhode Island and from as far away as Cape CodJoelye Land and Amick Sollenberger, with the help of Lauren Manus of Sunrise RI, organized the local event.

New Zealand’s prime minister asked Trump to do this one thing after the mosque attack

He completely failed
By Cody Fenwick March 15, 2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke with President Donald Trump on Friday in the wake of the horrific attack at two mosques in Christchurch that is believed to have killed 49 people.

In recounting her conversation with Trump, she said: “He very much wished for his condolences to be passed on to New Zealand.”

She continued: “He asked what support the U.S. could provide. My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.” 

When asked what his response was, she said, “He acknowledged that and agreed.”

But despite agreeing to the request on the phone, Trump didn’t follow through. When Trump held a public event on Friday in the Oval Office and addressed the devastating attack, he was seemingly unable to share the “love” and “sympathy” for all Muslim communities that Ardern had requested.

In his statement about the attack, he expressed sorrow for New Zealand without mentioning Muslims directly at all.

His earlier comments had also omitted any mention of Islam, Muslims, Islamophobia, or the white nationalist bigotry that inspired the attack. On Twitter, he continued to direct his concern specifically to New Zealand — even saying “We love you New Zealand!” — without honoring Ardern’s simple request of reaching out to Muslims in particular.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Social media and hate

Despite Crackdowns, White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Videos Take Stubborn Root on YouTube
By A.C. Thompson and Lucas Waldron, ProPublica, and Christopher Mathias, HuffPost

Image result for trump and neo-nazis

In his 74-page manifesto, Brenton Tarrant, the alleged gunman responsible for the massacres at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, lays out a hyper-extreme worldview animated by racist and fascist thought.

While the authorities say Tarrant posted his treatise on 8chan — a relatively obscure web forum that attracts trolls, hackers and hardcore white supremacists — the ideas in the document are also circulating on many of the world’s most popular social media platforms.

Over the past four months, for instance, a YouTube user known as Third Positionist posted over 100 videos espousing extremist ideas that closely resemble what the authorities have identified as Tarrant’s writings. The user’s videos — full of racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic views — have attracted more than a half-million views.

YouTube said on Friday that it had terminated the Third Positionist account after being alerted to it by ProPublica and HuffPost. It said it had found no evidence that the account belonged to the accused New Zealand gunman.

Social media giants have long struggled to moderate extremist content, and most have waged periodic crackdowns. But in recent months, YouTube has emerged as something of a flourishing option for white supremacist and neo-Nazi videos.

The material posted by the user named Third Positionist — mirroring much of the hateful content subscribed to and promoted by the gunman in New Zealand — is but one example. Third Positionism is a variant of fascism that blends elements of the extreme right and left.

Your own fault

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.

The face of terrorism

Image may contain: 1 person, text


A nap a day keeps high blood pressure at bay
American College of Cardiology

kitten nap GIFIt seems that napping may do more than just reboot our energy level and improve our mood. 

New research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session found that people who took advantage of a midday snooze were more likely to have a noticeable drop in blood pressure compared with those who didn't nap.

"Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes. For example, salt and alcohol reduction can bring blood pressure levels down by 3 to 5 mm Hg," said Manolis Kallistratos, MD, cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, and one of the study's co-authors, adding that a low-dose antihypertensive medication usually lowers blood pressure levels by 5 to 7 mm Hg, on average.

Overall, taking a nap during the day was associated with an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure, which researchers said is on par with what would be expected from other known blood pressure-lowering interventions. In addition, for every 60 minutes of midday sleep, 24-hour average systolic blood pressure decreased by 3 mm Hg.

Education is not enough to significantly reduce food waste

Impact of food waste campaigns muted, but point toward right direction

lea michele glee GIFFood waste can be problematic at all-you-can-eat buffet-style restaurants or university dining halls for obvious reasons: With little incentive to pile less food on their plate, diners tend to overindulge.

One way to curb such behavior is a food waste-reduction campaign, which serves as a low-cost solution for promoting the virtues of moderation at the buffet line. 

But according to new research co-written by a University of Illinois expert who studies consumer food choice and behavior, food waste-reduction campaigns in such settings, however well-intentioned, may have limited efficacy.

Research from Brenna Ellison, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois, indicates that the impact of a food waste-education campaign produced a modest, though not statistically significant, reduction in the average waste per diner in an all-you-can-eat dining setting.

Trumponomics fails to meet promises

How Are the Self-Proclaimed Economic Savior’s Policies Doing?

Image result for trumponomicsHow surprised will we be if it turns out that President Trump’s main policy achievements just aren’t working out? 

And how much more might we be that the shortcomings of the presidential platforms peak just before the next election campaign gets traction?

Until now, the power of economic achievements in employment, in spurring American industrial growth, and economic standing in the world have been the president’s impersonal measuring stick of achievement in the White House.

Of course, that has paled next to cries of anti-immigration motifs, resounding “Lock ‘er up” calls about Hillary Clinton and insistence on “no collusion” by the president about his presidency. 

Along the way, surely, he credits himself with taking on China through tough tariffs, taking on Iran and North Korea through tough economic sanctions and taking on Democrats and the media just to keep his hand in non-stop campaigning.

But above all, those elements of the economic strategy – protectionist tariffs towards fairer trade deals, cutting regulations and taxes, and reducing trade deficits in pursuit of “America First” have come to best reflect the Trump deal-based governing strategy.

But now, a year and some after the start of all of them, we’re seeing interesting developments:

Friday, March 15, 2019

White Nationalism is the greatest threat to democracy

Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff

Pic of the MomentThose working their way through the fetid “manifesto” of the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter have been quick to paint it as “lunatic rambling.” 

Others have pointed out that many of the statements included in the 74-page missive are based not on statements directly from Donald Trump, but on racist, white supremacist rhetoric that has been circulating for decades. 

But both analyses are way off base.

The document doesn’t, sadly enough, show the shooter as someone genuinely delusional or afflicted with mental illness. 

It shows him as the sort of garden-variety white, male, racist troll all too common on social media sites across the internet. 

His asides, nasty remarks, and claims to be everything from a “white Nelson Mandela” to a “Navy Seal” don’t come because he’s crazy. They come because he thinks they’re funny. He thinks spewing hatred and advocating genocide is just absolutely hilarious.

It’s also a mistake to dismiss a link between his racist statements and those made by Trump, just because the shooter seems to be citing older sources. That’s true enough. 

But Trump and the shooter are both working from the same sources, and both coming up with the same answers. 

Here’s what Donald Trump has saidas compiled by NYU journalism professor Mohamad Bazzi:

Just a typical American high school

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE.