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Thursday, December 31, 2020

If we want to fix the economy, there is a way

Trickle-Down Economics Doesn’t Work but Build-Up Does

By Robert Reich

How should the huge financial costs of the pandemic be paid for, as well as the other deferred needs of society after this annus horribilis?

Politicians rarely want to raise taxes on the rich. Joe Biden promised to do so but a closely divided Congress is already balking.

That’s because they’ve bought into one of the most dangerous of all economic ideas: that economic growth requires the rich to become even richer. Rubbish.

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith once dubbed it the “horse and sparrow” theory: “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.”

We know it as trickle-down economics.

In a new study, David Hope of the London School of Economics and Julian Limberg of King’s College London lay waste to the theory. They reviewed data over the last half-century in advanced economies and found that tax cuts for the rich widened inequality without having any significant effect on jobs or growth. Nothing trickled down.

Meanwhile, the rich have become far richer. Since the start of the pandemic, just 651 American billionaires have gained $1 trillion of wealth. With this windfall they could send a $3,000 check to every person in America and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic. Don’t hold your breath.

Why he won't go

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.


Yeah, happy new year


Moscow Mitch explains why you don't deserve help


Magnetic induction cooking can cut your kitchen's carbon footprint

NOT cooking with gas

Kenneth McLeodBinghamton University, State University of New York

Bye-bye, burners. brizmaker/iStock/Getty Images Plus
To curb climate change, many experts have called for a massive shift from fossil fuels to electricity. The goal is to electrify processes like heating homes and powering cars, and then generate the increased electrical power needs using low- or zero-carbon sources like wind, solar and hydropower.

More than 30 cities in California, including Berkeley and San Francisco, have moved in this direction by banning natural gas service in most new buildings. Currently energy use in buildings generates over 40% of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions.

There are straightforward electric options for heating buildings and hot water and drying clothes, but going electric could be more controversial in the kitchen. 

Traditional electric stoves are notoriously slow to heat up and cool down. They also pose safety issues because their heating coils can stay hot for tens of minutes after they are shut off.

What is a serious cook to do? One high-tech alternative is magnetic induction. This technology was first proposed over 100 years ago and demonstrated at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair

Today magnetic induction stoves and cooktops are common in Europe and Asia, but remain a niche technology in the U.S. As more cities and states move toward electrification, here’s a look at how magnetic induction works and its pros and cons for cooking.

Would you eat indoors at a restaurant?

We asked five health experts

Open to eat indoors – but will you? 
David Mbiyu/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Earlier this fall, many of the nation’s restaurants opened their doors to patrons to eat inside, especially as the weather turned cold in places. Now, as COVID-19 cases surge across the country, some cities and towns have banned indoor dining while others have permitted it with restrictions. Still other geographies have no bans at all.

The restaurant and hospitality industry has reacted strongly, filing lawsuits challenging indoor dining bans and, in New York state, pointing to data that showed restaurants and bars accounted for only 1.4% of cases there – far lower compared with private gatherings.

We asked five health professionals if they would dine indoors at a restaurant. Four said no – and one had a surprising answer.

Essential workers in RI struggle to make ends meet

Treat essential workers as essential
By Economic Progress Institute in UpriseRI

The Economic Progress Institute released its biennial Rhode Island Standard of Need (RISN) report which shows what it costs to live in Rhode Island. The RISN calculates a no-frills budget that includes the cost of housing, food, transportation, health care, child care, and other basic necessities. 

It also highlights how federal and state work supports help Rhode Islanders meet the costs of basic needs. This year’s report also looks at racial and ethnic disparities in the ability of Rhode Islanders to meet basic needs and how additional government support has helped essential and other workers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The findings of this report show that Black and Latinx Rhode Islanders are less likely to be able to meet expenses.

“We know it is expensive to live in Rhode Island and many individuals do not have the necessary income to meet their basic needs” said Rachel Flum, executive director of the Economic Progress Institute. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Despite a difficult year, Rhode Island passed a decent 2021 budget – We can do better for 2022

In March, voters will be asked to approve important bond issues

By  Steve Ahlquist UpriseRI

Rhode Island’s 2021 budget (H7171A) passed the House and the Senate this week, and now heads to Governor Gina Raimondo‘s desk to be signed. 

Far from being the austerity budget that many feared, one that would make deep cuts to social programs and education, this “pared-down” or “skinny” budget restored cuts that had been proposed by the governor, and in some cases temporarily instituted, to municipal aid including distressed communities and car tax reimbursements, provider rates and social programs. 

The bill fully funds state aid to education according to the state education formula. The committee was also able to avoid proposed fee increases at the Veterans Home.

This was also the first budget passed in many years that did not cut Medicaid.

The Economic Progress Institute (EPIpointed out the dangers of an austerity budget back in June, writing, that “austerity and stimulus produce very different results” and it “is not simply a matter of common sense or theory. There is strong evidence, including from the Great Recession of a decade ago. 

For example, a recent analysis from EPI demonstrates that states which maintained their public employment levels during the Great Recession experienced on average a return of private employment to pre-recession levels a year and a half more quickly than states, like Rhode Island, that embraced a more austerity-focused mindset and made deep cuts. 

More generally, if state and local governments had not functioned as ‘relentless anti-stimulus machines’ during the years following the Great Recession and had instead followed the approach taken with the recession of the early 1980s, recovery would have arrived four years earlier, in 2013 instead of 2017. In light of this experience, cutting jobs, services, and spending would prove an irresponsible move.”


Glad he cleared that up


In Rhode Island, who gets the COVID vaccine first

Mussels, oysters and scallops, oh my

Highest levels of microplastics found in molluscs

University of York

Mussels, oysters and scallops have the highest levels of microplastic contamination among seafood, a new study reveals.

Scientists are still trying to understand the health implications for humans consuming fish and shellfish contaminated with microplastics.

The study - led by researchers at the joint medical school of the Universities of Hull and York (Hull York Medical School)  -  looked at more than 50 studies between 2014 and 2020 to investigate the levels of microplastic contamination globally in fish and shellfish.

Scientists are still trying to understand the health implications for humans consuming fish and shellfish contaminated with these tiny particles of waste plastic, which finds its ways into waterways and oceans through waste mismanagement.

Human body

Study author, Evangelos Danopoulos, a postgraduate student at Hull York Medical School said: “No-one yet fully understands the full impact of microplastics on the human body, but early evidence from other studies suggest they do cause harm.

The psychology of fairness

Why some Americans don't believe the election results 

David M. Mayer, University of Michigan

Voters deeply divided over accuracy of vote count
Voters deeply divided over election process and accuracy of vote count. 
Based on voter survey of U.S. adults conducted Nov. 12-17, 2020.
Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C.
The electoral votes have confirmed Joe Biden won the 2020 United States presidential election. The presidential electors gave Biden 306 electoral votes to President Donald Trump’s 232 votes. Biden also recorded a solid lead of over 7 million in the popular vote.

Nonetheless, results from a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey found that approximately three-quarters of Republicans did not trust the election results. 

Corroborating this finding, a separate study of 24,000 Americans found that nearly two-thirds of Republicans lacked confidence in the fairness of the election and over 80% feared fraud, inaccuracy, bias and illegality. 

In addition, nearly 60 lawsuits filed by Trump claiming various forms of election fraud have been dismissed, including two evaluated by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Of course, doubting the fairness of a disappointing decision is not a Republican phenomenon – it’s a human one.

When a decision is made and people get the outcome they want, they often tend to see the outcome as fair. 

For example, when people apply for a promotion and get it, they are more than likely to believe they deserved it. But if they didn’t get the promotion, it is likely to drive a different reaction. 

At that point, the process used to make the decision becomes of utmost importance. Some might ask whether the process was free of bias, consistent and ethical.

To investigate this perplexing phenomenon, it’s important to understand the psychology of fairness.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Timeless Truths for Trying Times

The eternal wisdom of “Hee Haw”

By Jim Hightower for

In a spoof of country music's sad songs of heartache and woe, the old "Hee Haw" TV show periodically featured a couple of its regulars dejectedly wailing a song of total anguish:

"Gloom, despair, and agony on me

"Deep, dark depression, excessive misery

"If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all

"Gloom, despair, and agony on me"

For many Americans in 2020, that lament could be the anthem of our national despondency, expressing our dismay and exasperation at humankind, which has seemingly gone mad:

—Fanatics in "Make America Great Again" caps rabidly cheering a tyrannical, lying — and clearly insane — president.

—Avaricious corporate executives and reckless public officials spreading and prolonging the coronavirus by rushing employees into infected workplaces, thus knowingly sickening and killing thousands of them.

—Viciously xenophobic U.S. government officials cruelly separating impoverished refugee families at the border, incarcerating their terrified children — even babies — in cages.

—A militarized police system that won't stop targeting and murdering innocent Black people and then beats, shoots and arrests the outraged citizens who protest the killings.

—Corporate profiteers who routinely poison people and our planet have no fear of being stopped or jailed for their rapacious immorality, routinely poisoning people and our planet.

—A supposed "democracy" that produces plutocratic, kleptocratic governments by autocratically rigging the rules to block millions of eligible voters from casting ballots.

— Roving gangs of goofball Proud Boys strutting around in militia costumes, puerilely proclaiming themselves heroes for beating and shooting protesters whose politics they dislike.

—A new cadre of wackadoodle extremists who advocate political violence by promoting the group hallucination that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is secretly leading a takeover of America by a fiendish Democratic cabal of child sex traffickers and cannibals.

And ... holy crap. What is wrong with people? Has the savagery, selfishness and raw, animal hatred within the human species finally come out of the darkness to devour our society?!

Undeniably, 2020 has been despair-inducing — and there are still a few dicey weeks left! Indeed, Trump is still contesting November's national election results — which will either somewhat alleviate or dramatically exacerbate the sense of gloom permeating the progressive community. So, instead of speculating about either outcome, 

I'm offering up some TIMELESS TRUTHS ABOUT HUMANITY that will apply however Trump's Lawsuit-palooza turns out. These little-discussed maxims might help all of us get a grip, step back from hopelessness and push ahead in our political work with a fresh perspective on what is possible.

Warning! These truths are so contrary to present-day conventional thinking — and so at odds with our recent sojourn through the dark jungle of Trumplandia — that when some people are first exposed, their brains get whiplash. So, brace yourself. Here goes:

Nation of moochers

For more cartoons by Jen Anderson, CLICK HERE.


The law does not equal justice


Granny's on Instagram!

In the COVID-19 era, older adults see time differently and are doing better than younger people 

Many older adults are learning new digital skills to help
 them socialize virtually. Eva-Katalin/Getty Images
Time in the era of COVID-19 has taken on new meaning. “Blursday” is the new time word of the year – where every day seems the same when staying home and restricting socializing and work.

As a public health and aging expert and founding director of the Texas A&M Center of Population Health and Aging

I have been studying the impacts of COVID-19 with an interest in debunking myths and identifying unexpected positive consequences for our aging population.

It is common to view older adults as especially vulnerable. Public health statistics reinforce the picture of older adults infected with SARS-CoV-2 as more likely to have serious complications, to be hospitalized and to die.

But what do we know about how older adults themselves are responding to social distancing restrictions in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19? And what does this changing sense of time mean for them?

The aroma of distant worlds

New evidence that spices, fruits from Asia had reached the Mediterranean earlier than thought

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Bronze Age market scene at the Levant. Illustration: Nikola Nevenov
Asian spices such as turmeric and fruits like the banana had already reached the Mediterranean more than 3000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought. 

A team of researchers working alongside archaeologist Philipp Stockhammer at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich (LMU) has shown that even in the Bronze Age, long-distance trade in food was already connecting distant societies.

A market in the city of Megiddo in the Levant 3700 years ago: The market traders are hawking not only wheat, millet or dates, which grow throughout the region, but also carafes of sesame oil and bowls of a bright yellow spice that has recently appeared among their wares. 

This is how Philipp Stockhammer imagines the bustle of the Bronze Age market in the eastern Mediterranean. Working with an international team to analyze food residues in tooth tartar, the LMU archaeologist has found evidence that people in the Levant were already eating turmeric, bananas and even soy in the Bronze and Early Iron Ages. 

When Should Kids Be Part of Covid-19 Vaccine Trials?

COVID can infect, sicken and kill small children, too...and leave long-term effects


CLINICAL TRIALS for Covid-19 vaccines aren’t expanded soon to include children, it’s unlikely that even kids in their teens will be vaccinated in time for the next school year.

The hurdle is that Covid vaccine makers are only in the early stages of testing their products on children. 

The Pfizer vaccine authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration two weeks ago was greenlighted only for people ages 16 and up. 

Moderna just started trials for 12- to 17-year-olds for its vaccine, likely to be authorized later this month.

It will take months to approve use of the vaccines for middle- and high school-aged kids, and months more to test them in younger children. But some pediatricians say that concerns about the safety of the front-runner vaccines make the wait worthwhile.

Although most pediatricians believe the eventual vaccination of children will be crucial to subduing the Covid virus, they’re split on how fast to move toward that, says Dr. James Campbell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health. Campbell and colleagues say it’s a matter of urgency to get the vaccines tested in kids, while others want to hold off on those trials until millions of adults have been safely vaccinated.

Much of the debate centers on two issues: the degree of harm Covid-19 causes children, and the extent to which children are spreading the virus to their friends, teachers, parents, and grandparents.

Covid-19’s impact on children represents a tiny fraction of the suffering and death experienced by vulnerable adults. Yet it would qualify as a pretty serious childhood disease, having caused 154 deaths and more than 7,500 hospitalizations as of Dec. 3 among people 19 and younger in the United States. 

Those numbers rank it as worse than a typical year of influenza, and worse than diseases like mumps or hepatitis B in children before the vaccination era.

Studies thus far show that 1 to 2 percent of children infected with the virus end up requiring intensive care, Dr. Stanley Plotkin, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, told a federal panel. That’s in line with the percentage who become gravely ill as result of infections like Haemophilus influenza type B, or Hib, for which doctors have vaccinated children since the 1980s, he pointed out.

Monday, December 28, 2020

We ignored pandemic warnings and now look.

Let’s not do the same for climate change.

Peter Dykstra for the Environmental Health News

By Michael RamirezLas Vegas Review-Journal
Our intrepid TV newsfolk are fond of comparing daily U.S. COVID-19 death tolls to other disaster numbers.

I've seen or heard the grim stats compared to deaths at Antietam, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, or "12 jumbo jets a day falling out of the skies," as we exceeded each one by Wednesday. 

Fair enough, but what about other comparisons?

It's not as easy when you're describing whether the latest calved iceberg is the size of Central Park, or all of Manhattan, or even Connecticut. It's harder still since icebergs generally don't shut down beaches or restaurants or kill your Aunt Gladys.

The wrath of climate change could span decades, or even centuries. It won't have the immediacy of shutting down the school year, or postponing the Masters, but it will hurt more, and for much, much longer.

The 12 Days of Covidmas

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.


Friendly reminder


“Was that chair there?”

How our brains know when something's different

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Imagine you are sitting on the couch in your living room reading. You do it almost every night. But then, suddenly, when you look up you notice this time something is different. Your favorite picture hanging on the wall is tilted ever so slightly. 

In a study involving epilepsy patients, National Institutes of Health scientists discovered how a set of high frequency brain waves may help us spot these kinds of differences between the past and the present.

"Our results suggest that every experience we store into memory can be used to set our expectations and predictions for the future," Kareem Zaghloul, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator at the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and senior author of the study published in Nature Communications

"This study shows how the brain uses certain neural activity patterns to compare our expectations with the present. Ultimately, we hope that these results will help us better understand how the brain portrays reality under healthy and disease conditions."

The study was led by Rafi Haque, an M.D., Ph.D. student at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, who was completing his dissertation work with Dr. Zaghloul. His primary research goal was to test out whether a theory called predictive coding can be applied to how our brains remember past experiences, known as episodic memories.

Drink water – fight diabetes

Increasing Water Intake May Help Prevent, Treat Metabolic Syndrome

Science News Staff / Source

Water suppresses vasopressin, a hormone linked to fructose-induced obesity and diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal JCI Insight.

“The clinical significance of this work is that it may encourage studies to evaluate whether simple increases in water intake may effectively mitigate obesity and metabolic syndrome,” said Dr. Miguel Lanaspa, a researcher in the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension at the University of Colorado Denver.

Dr. Lanaspa and his colleagues wanted to understand why vasopressin, which maintains the body’s water levels, was elevated in those with obesity and diabetes.

They fed mice sugar water, specifically fructose, and found that it stimulated the brain to make vasopressin.

The vasopressin in turn stored the water as fat causing dehydration which triggered obesity.

Treating the rodents with non-sugary water reduced the obesity.

Coping with crummy gifts

Many painful returns

Deborah Y. Cohn, New York Institute of Technology

By Clay BennettChattanooga Times Free Press

What happens to the gifts you get? I’m not talking about the ones that you really adore. I mean the rest of them – the ones you can’t or don’t want to use, or even hate.

The problem doesn’t end when you’ve awkwardly thanked someone and thrown away the wrapping paper. 

In my case, I stowed an awful present from my dad in a closet for years. Whenever I looked at it, I got upset all over again.

That experience was one reason why I became a consumer researcher who studies gift giving. Based on my research, I have come to understand the price paid by the people who get unwelcome gifts.

Many costly returns

Painful gift giving falls into two categories. One is intentional and the other is accidental. Either way, it burdens friends and loved ones with unwanted stuff they may try to get rid of.

One common solution, at least for purchased gifts, is returning them. But even when the giver gets a refund or the recipient converts an eyesore into a pile of more useful cash, that still takes a toll.

Retail holiday sales amounted to an estimated US$720 billion in 2018, with about 10 percent of those purchases being returned.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Whatever He Wants

Why Donald Trump’s Supporters Stay with Him No Matter What

By Harper West and Bandy X. Lee

By Bill BramhallNew York Daily News
With the vote of the Electoral College confirming the election result of Joe Biden’s win, many are asking: How do we heal the country? 

Notably, how do we help the Republican Party break up with the abusive personality that has held the GOP in a cult of personality for the past five years?

Extracting individuals from an abusive relationship or members from a gang or cult involves similar psychological interventions. 

These are difficult situations because it is not a matter of speaking about facts or appealing to logic. Victims of abuse and cult members are emotionally “hooked” into the relationship or organization, making removal very difficult. 

This explains why abuse victims so often stay in toxic relationships far longer than they should, given what may be obvious to outsiders about the harm that is being done to them.

Wear it over your head

By Signe Wilkinson



By Liza Donnelly


URI scientist tests new technology for removing, destroying ‘forever chemicals’

Harmful compound is found almost everywhere

Todd McLeish

The PFAS compounds extracted from the ground are destroyed using
an ultraviolet light technology inside this trailer.
(Photo courtesy of EnChem Engineering Inc.)
University of Rhode Island hydrogeologist Thomas Boving and colleagues at EnChem Engineering Inc. are testing a proprietary new technology for quickly removing and destroying hazardous chemical compounds from soil and groundwater. 

If proven effective, the technology could soon be applied to cleaning up the abundant per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively referred to as PFAS and “forever chemicals,” that contaminate drinking water supplies serving about one-third of Americans.

PFAS compounds have been in use for more than 60 years and are found in common household goods like non-stick cookware, stain-proof carpets and pizza boxes, as well as in firefighting foams and other industrial products. Because they do not break down easily in the environment, they find their way into human and animal tissues and can lead to many serious diseases.

Immodium® as a cancer treatment?

Anti-diarrhoea drug drives cancer cells to cell death

Goethe UniversityIn glioblastoma cells, the antidiarrheal drug loperamide triggers the degradation of the endoplasmic reticulum. In the normal state, it is coloured yellow in these microscopic images. In the degradation state, it glows as a red signal (marked with arrows). Left scale bar: 20 µm, right scale bar (inset): 5 µm (Photos: Svenja Zielke et. al.)

In cell culture, loperamide, a drug commonly used against diarrhoea, proves effective against glioblastoma cells. 

A research team at Goethe University has now unravelled the drug’s mechanisms  of action of cell death induction and – in doing so – has shown how this compound could help attack brain tumours that otherwise are difficult to treat.

The research group led by Dr Sjoerd van Wijk from the Institute of Experimental Cancer Research in Paediatrics at Goethe University already two years ago found evidence indicating that the anti-diarrhoea drug loperamide could be used to induce cell death in glioblastoma cell lines. 

They have now deciphered its mechanism of action and, in doing so, are opening new avenues for the development of novel treatment strategies.

COVID questions answered

If I have allergies, should I get the coronavirus vaccine? An expert answers this and other questions  
Mona Hanna-AttishaMichigan State University

Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center,
is inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester.
 Mark Lennihan/Pool via Getty Images

Editor’s Note: With a coronavirus vaccination effort now underway, you might have questions about what this means for you and your family. 

If you do, send them to The Conversation, and we will find a physician or researcher to answer them. 

Here, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a public health pediatrician whose research exposed the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, answers questions about the vaccine and allergies, and when kids might be able to get the vaccine.

If I have allergies, should I still get the vaccine?

If you have a history of allergies to food, pets, insects or other things, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you proceed with vaccination, with an observation period. If you have a history of severe allergic reaction, or what is called anaphylaxis, to another vaccine or injectable therapy, your doctor can do a risk assessment, defer your vaccination, or proceed and then observe you after vaccination. The only reason to avoid vaccination is a severe allergic reaction to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC has specific recommendations for post-vaccine observation.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

The economic case for taxing the rich

Hard data shows tax cuts for the rich do no good but lots of harm
David Hope, King's College London and Julian Limberg, King's College London

Governments shouldn’t be worried that raising taxes on the rich will harm their economies when deciding on how to pay for COVID-19. 

Our new research on 18 advanced economies shows that major tax cuts for the rich over the past 50 years have pushed up inequality but have had no significant effects on economic growth or unemployment.

These findings shed new light on a debate that has long divided policymakers, with one side claiming higher taxes on the rich could raise revenue and reduce inequality, and the other arguing that low taxes on the rich are the best route to wider economic prosperity.

The data suggests that low taxes on the rich bring economies little benefit, and this suggests there is a strong economic case for raising taxes on the rich to help repair public finances following the pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is putting government finances under pressure worldwide, higher taxes on the rich are back on the political agenda. In the US, the president-elect, Joe Biden, has promised to raise taxes on top income earners and corporations

Voices demanding a wealth tax have also become louder in the UK and Germany. Given the damage the pandemic has done to economies, the notion of getting the most affluent to help foot the bill is one that has many supporters. But once again this is being countered by those who insist that low taxes are crucial for stimulating the economy.

There's fast and then there is faster

By Steve SackStar Tribune


I remember


Can't sleep?

Individuals with high ADHD-traits are more vulnerable to insomnia

Karolinska Institutet

Individuals with high ADHD-traits that do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis are less able to perform tasks involving attentional regulation or emotional control after a sleepless night than individuals with low ADHD-traits, a new study from Karolinska Institutet published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging reports.

While it can cause multiple cognitive impairments, there is considerable individual variation in sensitivity to the effects of insomnia. The reason for this variability has been an unresolved research question for long. 

In the present study, KI researchers investigated how sleep deprivation affects our executive functions, which is to say the central cognitive processes that govern our thoughts and actions. 

They also wanted to ascertain if people with ADHD tendencies are more sensitive to insomnia, with more severe functional impairments as a result.

Plastics pose threat to human health, report shows

Plastic killers

The Endocrine Society

Plastics contain and leach hazardous chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that threaten human health. An authoritative new report, "Plastics, EDCs, and Health," from the Endocrine Society and the IPEN (International Pollutants Elimination Network), presents a summary of international research on the health impacts of EDCs and describes the alarming health effects of widespread contamination from EDCs in plastics.

EDCs are chemicals that disturb the body's hormone systems and can cause cancer, diabetes, reproductive disorders, and neurological impairments of developing fetuses and children. The report describes a wealth of evidence supporting direct cause-and-effect links between the toxic chemical additives in plastics and specific health impacts to the endocrine system.

Conservative estimates point to more than a thousand manufactured chemicals in use today that are EDCs. Known EDCs that leach from plastics and threaten health include bisphenol A and related chemicals, flame retardants, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), dioxins, UV-stabilizers, and toxic metals such as lead and cadmium. 

Plastic containing EDCs is used extensively in packaging, construction, flooring, food production and packaging, cookware, health care, children's toys, leisure goods, furniture, home electronics, textiles, automobiles and cosmetics.

COVID-19 virus enters the brain, research strongly suggests

A new study shows how spike protein crosses the blood-brain barrier

University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Johns Hopkins Medicine

More and more evidence is coming out that people with COVID-19 are suffering from cognitive effects, such as brain fog and fatigue.

And researchers are discovering why. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, like many viruses before it, is bad news for the brain. In a study published Dec.16 in Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that the spike protein, often depicted as the red arms of the virus, can cross the blood-brain barrier in mice.

This strongly suggests that SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, can enter the brain.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Trumpmas!

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.


Merry Christmas, Mike


My Christmas list

The special gifts I’ve arranged for special people.

By Jim Hightower 

The actual official - and last - Trump xmas portrait
Ho ho ho, wait till you hear about the gifts I gave to some of America’s power elites for Christmas.

To each of our Congress critters, I sent my fondest wish that from now on they receive the exact same income, health care, and pensions that we average citizens get. If they receive only the American average, it might make them a bit more humble — and less cavalier about ignoring the needs of regular folks.

To the stockings of GOP leaders who’ve so eagerly debased themselves to serve the madness of Donald Trump, I added individual spritzer bottles of fragrances like “Essence of Integrity” and “Eau de Self-respect” to help cover up their stench.

And in the stockings of Democratic congressional leaders, I put “Spice of Viagra” and “Bouquet du Grassroots” to stiffen their spines and remind them of who they represent.

For America’s CEO’s, my gift is a beautifully boxed, brand new set of corporate ethics. It’s called the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Going to pollute someone’s neighborhood? Then you have to live there, too. Going to slash wages and benefits? Then slash yours as well. Going to move your manufacturing to sweatshops in China? Then put your office right inside the worst sweatshop. Executive life won’t be as luxurious, but CEOs would glow with a new purity of spirit.

To the Wall Street hedge-fund hucksters who’ve conglomerated, plundered, and degraded hundreds of America’s newspapers, I’ve sent copies of Journalism for Dummies and offered jobs for each of them in their stripped-down, Dickensian newsrooms. Good luck.

And what better gift to the Trump family — Donald, Ivanka and Jared, Eric, Donnie Jr., and the whole nest of them — than to wish that they live with each other constantly and permanently. No, really, each of you deserve it.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. Distributed by