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Thursday, March 23, 2017

And we WILL pay for it

Trump Invites Bids to Build Wall, Cites Importance of ‘Aesthetics'
By T. Christian Miller for ProPublica

President Donald Trump built his campaign on the promise of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. Just a month after his inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to begin construction.

And last Friday, the department took a step to make sure it will look good.

In a little-noticed update, the department now says it wants a wall that will be "nominally 30 feet tall," and, importantly, that bids will be judged on "aesthetics," as well.

The new language, perhaps coincidental but likely not, appears to be a bureaucratic translation of Trump's oft-repeated promise to build a "beautiful" wall from 30 to 55 feet high.

Of course, the federal government does not typically focus on beauty in building its walls, fences and barriers. Procurement officers prefer to evaluate bids on concrete things such as price or a company's past performance — or, for that matter, concrete itself. As a contract requirement, appearances usually only figure into high-end projects (think of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial).

But the Trump administration's apparent demand for a wall with style is only one of the oddities that has arisen in planning for the massive project, estimated to cost as much as $21.6 billion and cross hundreds of miles.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Doctor prescribes Single Payer

By J. Mark Ryan, MD in Rhode Island’s Future

No automatic alt text available.Most recent news coverage of  our dysfunctional American health care system fails to note the central problem: private health insurance companies. 

Remember: the only reason they exist is to make money. They do not provide health care – despite what their expensive and unnecessary advertisements may imply.

They also consume about 30 cents of every dollar they receive on administrative costs. In contrast, Medicare consumes about 11 cents.

For the last 30 years, American health insurance premiums have increased by about 5 percent per year, roughly twice the rate that the average wage has increased.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that even with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and its restrictions on what insurance companies can charge, in 8 years, 2025, the average employer-based family insurance plan will cost $24,500, roughly half the average family’s income.

No “market solution” will fix this because sick people are not profitable to insure. Why would there be “competition” to insure sick people?

New programs created under Trump budget

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

The cost of corporate welfare

The GOP Health Plan Would Make the Opioid Crisis Even Worse

States that supported Trump are going to be the hardest hit.

Image result for trumpcare & opioids“We will give people struggling with addiction access to the help they need,” Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail in 2016.

We’re in the midst of the worst opioid epidemic our country has seen. 

More people died last year from opioid overdoses than ever before — 33,000. 

Opioid abuse now kills more people nationwide than car accidents or gun deaths.

The problem runs most rampant in America’s heartland — in states like Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Ohio alone, which gave key electoral votes to Trump, has three of the top 10 cities with the worst overdose rates in the country, with Dayton coming in at number one.

So why is Trump supporting a health care bill that experts have said will only make our opioid problem worse?

Study will look at mercury and PCB exposure to Narragansett tribal members from locally caught fish

Collaborations with Brown University, Bradley Hospital target environmental and behavioral health issues

EDITOR’S NOTE: Federal funding for environmental health research is gravely imperiled by Trump’s newly submitted budget. That budget takes a meat cleaver to the EPA and to science research.

Pilot Projects involving researchers at the University of Rhode Island have been awarded federal funding through Advance Clinical and Translational Research (Advance-CTR), a statewide effort to support clinical research that can be translated into approaches and policies that improve the health of Rhode Islanders.

Marcella Thompson, assistant professor in the College of Nursing/Academic Health Collaborative, and Kunal Mankodiya, assistant professor in the College of Engineering, along with colleagues at Brown University and Bradley Hospital, will each receive one-year grants of $75,000 through Advance-CTR’s initial round of funding.

Thompson and co-principal investigator Dinalyn Spears of the Narragansett Indian Tribe are collaborating with Elizabeth Hoover, Gregory Wellenius and Alison Field of Brown University to examine exposure to PCBs and mercury among members of the tribe, whose traditional diet includes locally caught fish.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trump budget will hurt his own supporters worst of all

To watch this video on YouTube:

The theme that unites all of Trump’s initiatives so far is their unnecessary cruelty.

1. His new budget comes down especially hard on the poor – imposing unprecedented cuts in low-income housing, job training, food assistance, legal services, help to distressed rural communities, nutrition for new mothers and their infants, funds to keep poor families warm, even “meals on wheels.”

These cuts come at a time when more American families are in poverty than ever before, including 1 in 5 children. 

Why is Trump doing this? To pay for the biggest hike in military spending since the 1980s. Yet the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 7 biggest military budgets put together.

Obamacare versus Trumpcare

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

UGC 12591: The Fastest Rotating Galaxy Known 

Why does this galaxy spin so fast?

To start, even identifying which type of galaxy UGC 12591 is difficult -- it has dark dust lanes like a spiral galaxy but a large diffuse bulge of stars like a lenticular

Surprisingly observations show that UGC 12591 spins at about 480 km/sec, almost twice as fast as our Milky Way, and the fastest rotation rate yet measured.

The mass needed to hold together a galaxy spinning this fast is several times the mass of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Progenitor scenarios for UGC 12591 include slow growth by accreting ambient matter, or rapid growth through a recent galaxy collision or collisions -- future observations may tell.

The light we see today from UGC 12591 left about 400 million light years ago, when trees were first developing on Earth.

Help a neighbor in need by volunteering with Southern Rhode Island Volunteers

Southern Rhode Island Volunteers

Volunteer opportunities

Give a little of your time to make a huge difference in someone's life! Become a volunteer today. 

Flexible schedule, mileage reimbursement, training and support provided. No special skills needed.

Continue reading for some examples of how you can help....

Frozen out

Rules Frozen by Trump Could Melt Away Without a Trace
By Jesse Eisinger for ProPublica

New rules to prevent train crashes are among those put on hold by Trump

Ridding day care centers of fluorescent lightbulbs with toxic PCBs. Requiring a backup engineer on freight trains to avoid crashes. Restricting drones from flying over people.

Federal agencies were preparing these rules and dozens more when Donald Trump was elected. In one of his first acts, the president quietly froze them. That isn't unusual. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama signed similar orders.

Unlike in previous administrations, however, this time the proposed rules are long shots to be finished and enacted. 

How Obamacare repeal hurts women

Congress’ Cuts in Health Care Will Hit Women Harder

Republican leaders in Congress are working on plans to cut health benefits for tens of millions of people. 

The harms from these cuts are likely to have the biggest impact on women, both for their own health benefits and as they try to manage health care for their families.

Every major source of health coverage is now at risk under the Republican health plans. 

This includes individual coverage bought through the Affordable Care Act, workplace health plans, Medicaid benefits for people struggling to make ends meet, and Medicare for seniors and people with disabilities.

The ACA included important changes in the law requiring women to be treated fairly. Repealing the ACA outright, as Republican leaders say they want to do, could mean going back to the days when insurance companies could legally discriminate against women by charging them higher monthly premiums for individual coverage than men.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A “dynamic” solution?

Keeping America’s retirement promise
By Gerald E. Scorse, Progressive Charlestown special contributor

Related imageToo many Americans are saving little to nothing for retirement. According to one study, 45 percent of working-age households “do not have any retirement account assets.” Congress could sharply improve those numbers by adopting dynamic scoring of retiree distributions. The move could lead to millions of new accounts, and a fairer sharing of America’s retirement promise.

That promise was the whole idea behind a breakthrough reform over 40 years ago. Let’s see where it came up short, and how the country can still make good for those left behind.  

In 1974, a far-sighted Congress created a new benefit for workers not covered by traditional pensions. It set up Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), combining pre-tax employee contributions with tax-deferred capital gains (tax-free, actually). A major sweetener, employer contributions, came later with 401(k)s.

The accounts rapidly took hold, but too many companies don’t participate: over half the labor force lacks access to a workplace savings plan. No surprise, it’s mainly low- to middle-income employees who go without. Some states are trying to set up their own programs, but federal action would be far more efficient—and a new rule gives Congress a golden invitation.


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Trump's health care lies

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