jump to navigation

Bad things. (Tax fraud, short-sheeting FEMA, separating citizens, and more.) October 5, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Categorized Tweets: “Enter your zipcode to catch up on the candid thoughts of individuals who represent you.

“We went through the transcript of the hearing and noted every single time a question was asked of Ford and Kavanaugh. (We didn’t include the times a questioner didn’t ask an explicit question.) Then we noted every instance in which answered the question or said they didn’t know the answer — and we also noted every time they either refused to answer or gave an answer that didn’t address the question. Here are the results.”

“A man emailed recently in response to something I’d written about street harassment. He was so glad, he said, that his college-age daughter never experienced anything like that. Less than a day later, he wrote again. They had just talked. She told him she’d been harassed many, many times — including that week.”

By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after Mr. Trump graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father.” And no, it wasn’t terribly legal.

“Americans by and large want the government to help them get healthcare when they need it—whether that means the ACA’s regulations on insurers or a more direct system where the feds or the states cover everyone. Republicans know this, which is why they are lying about wanting to defend pre-existing condition protections. More fundamentally, Republicans have spent the last decade using every avenue available to them to block any effort to expand coverage.”

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said this week that millions of water bottles meant for victims of Hurricane Maria have been left undistributed at an airport in Puerto Rico for more than a year.

“Merkley believes the transfer from FEMA to ICE was made this summer. He told Maddow that ‘it means that just as hurricane season is starting … the administration is working hard to find funds for child detention camps.‘”

“In one stunning example, the government listed one child who ‘cannot be reunified at this time because the parent’s location has been unknown for more than a year,’ and ‘records show the parent and child might be US citizens.’

U.S. policy has created a food system that excels at producing flour, sugar and oil but struggles to deliver nutrients at anywhere near the same scale. The United States spends $1.5 billion on nutrition research every year compared to around $60 billion on drug research. Just 4 percent of agricultural subsidies go to fruits and vegetables. No wonder that the healthiest foods can cost up to eight times more, calorie for calorie, than the unhealthiest—or that the gap gets wider every year.”

Advertisements

Good things. (Pool parties, Medicare, ocean cleanup, gay stuff in media.) October 1, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

“Remember the teenage girl who got dragged by police at a pool party? Well, she’s getting her money and her own pool party. […] Cole said that her client plans to use a portion of the money to start a business and that she hopes to become a dentist.” I’m so relieved and happy for this nerd.

Koch-backed study finds ‘Medicare for All’ would save U.S. trillions. An estimated cost of $32.6 trillion over 10 years is less than the US would spend over the next 10 years under the current system.”

Engineers on Saturday deployed a trash collection device to corral plastic litter floating between California and Hawaii in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest garbage patch in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.”

“I was just learning about how The Answer book, which was also very difficult to make and I only just now found out that a big part of why it was made was that one of the big champions of the book was an ally for her sister. We’ve had allies at all these different stages, people for whom this is very personal and they understand the personal toll that can be taken.” Rebecca Sugar on breaking ground.

“The truth is they’re scared of getting emails from bigots and they’re cowards. So they’re letting the bigots control the conversation. My response was basically, ‘Let ‘em complain,’ ‘they’re wrong,’ and ‘they’re just gonna have to live with it.’ Unfortunately, it got so contentious that [the network] essentially told me that if I didn’t cut the scene they would cut the episode and they strong-armed me out of it.” More on representation, with Voltron, Gravity Falls, and SU.

“Arnie as a film editor—if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organization? And I was the jokester. So it was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple. I wrote sketches…Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert & Ernie dynamic.

Dog-walking, napping, and buying mints while black September 11, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

In the surveillance video […] Arreola is seen asking for the price of the mints, then hands over cash to the attendant before pocketing the mints in his jacket. That is all it took for the officer to [draw his gun] and demand that Arreola place the mints back on the counter.” Thank goodness he made it out of that alive.

The 34-year-old grad student in African studies unlocked her dorm-room door in front of police to show that she lived there, but they still asked for her ID.” Her too.

“A police sergeant showed up, Fyffe-Marshall says in her account, and said he didn’t know what Airbnb was. The group showed the police their booking confirmations and phoned the home’s landlord to convince police they were telling the truth.” And them!

“Emory Ellis, a black homeless man in Boston, was hungry so he went to Burger King one morning in 2015. But instead of breakfast, Ellis got a ride to the police station and more than three months in jail after he was wrongfully accused of using counterfeit cash.

[My eight-year-old daughter] cried for an hour and now refuses to go outside with her dog. … I told her she did nothing wrong – but she said she must have or someone would not have called the police on her.”

The Onion: “Deciding his firstborn was old enough to learn about the cultural dangers of having things in his hands, African American dad Aaron Mitchell pulled his son aside Thursday to have “the talk” about holding literally any object.

So, hey, we officially don’t have a functioning government. Fun times. September 9, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

It’s official: the West Wing is full of people who fully believe the President is a nonfunctional idiot. But instead of following the legal processes to remove him from office, they’d rather keep him around as a figurehead puppet while they actually run the country themselves.

We’re all clear that this is a coup, right? The Republican party, as a group, has no respect for either the office of the President or the rule of law. They’re happy to shred both, all while pretending like it doesn’t utterly destroy their moral credibility to do so.

Or, as McSweeneys put it:

There are those of us still wandering the labyrinthine halls of the mutated Capitol Building, looking for ways to constructively appease Nyarlathotep, despite continual smear campaigns by the elitist, now underground press. For instance, we replaced the orphans It absorbs every “morning” with migrant laborers, and It didn’t seem to notice. When Its appetite turned to Idaho, one of us directed Its soulless gaze up towards the moon. No more moon, of course, but no one can say we ever turned our back on our core constituents.”

In other news, here’s a thing that happened with the NRA:

July 16: “…federal prosecutors on Monday unsealed a criminal complaint alleging that a Russian graduate student living in the D.C. area conspired to act as an agent of Russia […] One of the contacts was with an “organization promoting gun rights,” which NPR has previously reported is the National Rifle Association.

July 17: “Under the new policy, [certain organizations, including] the NRA, Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club, will no longer be required to include donor identities with their tax filings.”

And here’s a single incident that, in a logical world, would make Brett Kavanaugh an unsupportable judicial candidate for Democrats and Republicans alike:

In 2001, three intellectually disabled D.C. residents brought suit against the city in Doe ex rel. Tarlow v. D.C, after they were subjected to at least three involuntary procedures: two abortions and one elective eye surgery. […] The District Court ruled for the plaintiffs […] On appeal, Judge Kavanaugh vacated the District Court’s injunction.”

No, you’re not reading that wrong. Kavanaugh ruled in favor of forced non-consensual abortions.

Which means the “pro-life” movement is also abandoning any pretense of moral credibility by supporting him.

Cleaning up the ocean with targeted efforts 1000% more effective than straw bans September 3, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

“…skipping a plastic straw in your next Bahama Mama may feel conscientious, but it won’t make a dent in the garbage patch. So what will? A recent survey by scientists affiliated with Ocean Cleanup, a group developing technologies to reduce ocean plastic, offers one answer. Using surface samples and aerial surveys, the group determined that at least 46 percent of the plastic in the garbage patch by weight comes from a single product: fishing nets.” Plus: concrete ways to make that better!

“Our seas are choking on plastic. A staggering eight million metric tons wind up in oceans every year, and unraveling exactly how it gets there is critical. A recent study estimates that more than a quarter of all that waste could be pouring in from just 10 rivers, eight of them in Asia.” Cleanup targets!

In more disheartening links:

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy pummeled the island, causing the already rising seas to spill over the streets and into the homes of Tangier’s 481 residents. A few days after the storm, Carol steered her skiff toward the island’s uppermost tip to survey the damage. Along the shoreline, soil was sluicing into the bay each time the waves hit. A human skull floated at the water’s edge—the remains of a body broken free from an eroded grave.”

Foote’s paper anticipated the revolution in climate science by experimentally demonstrating the effects of the sun on certain gases and theorizing how those gases would interact with Earth’s atmosphere for the first time. In a column of the September 1856 issue of Scientific American titled ‘Scientific Ladies,’ Foote is praised for supporting her opinions with ‘practical experiments.'” (But people keep giving the credit to a guy who rediscovered the same thing years later, because of course.)

Well, this sucks. (climate change, debt growth, school shootings, and more) August 7, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

“This two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it.” They’re…not kidding. It’s heartbreaking.

“By almost every measure, the U.S. economy is booming. But a look behind the headlines of roaring job growth and consumer spending reveals how the boom continues in large part by the poorer half of Americans fleecing their savings and piling up debt.

Twice as many students have been killed in school shootings [in 2018] as have members of the military who were on deployment.”

“Terrorist attacks committed by Muslim extremists receive 357% more US press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims, according to new research from the University of Alabama. […] The disparity in media coverage is particularly out of sync with the reality given that white and rightwing terrorists carried out nearly twice as many terrorist attacks as Muslim extremists between 2008 and 2016.

“Some of the jurors who imposed the death penalty on Charles Rhines, who was convicted of murder, have said they thought the alternative — a life sentence served in a men’s prison — was something he would enjoy as a gay man.” This one has turned up some awful comments about “well, he deserved the death penalty, regardless of how he got it.” No. Stop. You really think this problem will only affect “the bad ones” and leave “the good ones” alone? Because that’s Not How It Works. See previous link. Or, alternately, all of history.

Seaweed, marshmallows, phantom hands, and other science tidbits July 9, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

How a mistakenly-hired seaweed scientist helped win WWII. (Bletchley Park tried to recruit a cryptogramist…well, a cryptogamist is a biologist who studies seaweed, mosses, and ferns.)

According to my mother, my missing pectoral muscle was noticed almost immediately by the doctor who delivered me. There was no diagnosis of any cause for the defect, and I’m not sure if she even asked. It was just missing, and I accepted that absence as a simple fact for most of my childhood.”

“RN’s case is interesting because the hand that was amputated only had three fingers to begin with. One would expect that her phantom limb would be a replica of the hand she lost. But that’s not what happened. RN reported feeling five fingers on her phantom hand. They weren’t five normal fingers—her thumb and index finger felt shorter than the rest—but there were definitely five.

“While students of all categories suffered from class-induced jet lag, the study found that night owls were especially vulnerable, many appearing so chronically jet-lagged that they were unable to perform optimally at any time of day.”

“Ultimately, the new study finds limited support for the idea that being able to delay gratification leads to better outcomes. Instead, it suggests that the capacity to hold out for a second marshmallow is shaped in large part by a child’s social and economic background—and, in turn, that that background, not the ability to delay gratification, is what’s behind kids’ long-term success.”

And the laptop Negroponte was pitching in 2005 simply didn’t exist. [One Laptop Per Child]’s prototype was little more than a mockup. It hadn’t signed a manufacturer, let alone priced out a sub-$100 product. Groundbreaking technologies like the crank and mesh networking system were still mostly theoretical.”

“Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001. Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it — Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one. The drugs were still illegal, of course. But now getting caught with them meant a small fine and maybe a referral to a treatment program — not jail time and a criminal record.

“Avoid unkind generalizations like equating the jailing of ethnic minorities with some malevolent form of fascism.” July 6, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Talking about imprisoned immigrants at the protest last week, a Jewish woman read this poem.

So yeah, I’ve sent $18 each to HOLA Ohio, Kids In Need Of Defense, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, and the Ohio ACLU.

“The medical staffing shortage is of particular concern. This week, initial tests for tuberculosis came back positive for some new arrivals, and further testing will be required to determine whether they might be contagious. Other immigrants have arrived with rashes and skin legions, which are “basically being put on hold because we don’t have the medical staff to treat them,” says Kostelnik.

“A week later, Mr. Garcia was still being held by immigration officials, and his family was preparing to spend Father’s Day without him. […] Mr. Garcia’s case appears to show just how sweeping ICE can be in making arrests regardless of an immigrant’s legal status or how long ago their criminal case was resolved.

The service members affected by the recent discharges all enlisted in recent years under a special program aimed at bringing medical specialists and fluent speakers of 44 sought-after languages into the military.” This is so transparently, blatantly not about making us safer.

Civility tips from The Onion: “Avoid unkind generalizations like equating the jailing of ethnic minorities with some malevolent form of fascism.”

Guys, imagine what they would say if Hillary compulsively ripped up all her papers. Just IMAGINE. July 4, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

White House aides realized early on that they were unable to stop Trump from ripping up paper after he was done with it and throwing it in the trash or on the floor, according to people familiar with the practice. Instead, they chose to clean it up for him, in order to make sure that the president wasn’t violating the law.”

A combined 20 people have died in the Sodini, Rodger, and Minassian attacks. None of it was hard to see coming. The radical misogynist ideology behind the incel attacks was not remotely obscure.”

“But no matter whose fault it is, giving birth to a child with a terminal disease is something I did do. This is just as obvious as it is important: I am the one who was pregnant and gave birth to Dudley. That I continued my pregnancy under mistaken pretenses feels like an irreparable violation, one that I don’t think any man — including the one who loves Dudley as much as I do — is capable of understanding.

“Tell me again how much God hates abortion. Here, he’s giving the recipe for a drink that induces one.” (Numbers 5:11-31)

“While some claim targets for the inclusion of underrepresented groups lead to the promotion of individuals that do not deserve it, economists at the London School of Economics found that the reverse is true. Quotas can work to weed out incompetent men.

Apparently the uptick in allergies over the past few decades can be traced, at least partly, to sex differences in post-Dutch-Elm-disease urban tree-planting patterns, beginning in the 1980s.

“Media attention to rape in film is targeted mostly at how audiences perceive the scenes and lamenting the studios’ sheer mass of sexual violence on screen. Many articles ask the question: Are these scenes gratuitous? But rarely do we think about the filmmakers, actors and crew who make on-screen rapes happen, like MacNair. How do they feel?

“The Erics who spoke up with change-oriented ideas were far more likely to be identified as leaders than Erics who simply critiqued their team’s performance. But Ericas did not receive a boost in status from sharing ideas even though they were exactly the same as the Erics’.”

“So the student researchers were surprised when their hypothesis proved false – code written by women was in fact more likely to be approved by their peers than code written by men. But that wasn’t the end of the story: this only proved true as long as their peers didn’t realise the code had been written by a woman.

Guns in the hands of people who should not have guns. June 15, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: ,
add a comment

People killed by police in the US, 2018. Currently at 524.

“For more than a year, the state of Florida failed to conduct national background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits, potentially allowing drug addicts or people with a mental illness to carry firearms in public.” The government is coming down hard on the background-checking employee who couldn’t log in. Buried in the article is the reveal that she never even asked for the job: “Wilde told the Times she had been working in the mailroom when she was given oversight of the database in 2013. ‘I didn’t understand why I was put in charge of it.’

At Gun World in Hilliard, Ohio, a dealer was found in 2016 to have repeatedly sold firearms to people who appeared to be prohibited from owning them, including a customer who self-identified as a felon. It is a federal crime for a felon to have a gun. An A.T.F. inspector recommended the store’s license be revoked. […] Gun World remains open. When reached by telephone, an employee at Gun World hung up.”

Guns will be barred during Vice President Mike Pence’s appearance at an upcoming National Rifle Association convention to protect his safety.” So even the NRA won’t stand behind the NRA’s “more guns = more safety” claim.

Citigroup won’t do business with companies that don’t background-check their gun sales. As a commenter notes: “I have worked for several banks, and they all have criteria for determining who they will do business with. Unacceptable lines of business often are those engaged in marijuana/drug sales, adult retail or film industry, gambling.”

In Indiana, after the enactment of the [“red flag”] law [in 2005], we saw a 7.5 percent decrease in firearms suicides in the 10 years that followed […] We didn’t see any notable increase or decrease in non-firearms suicide.”

“According to a 2008 RAND Corporation study evaluating the New York Police Department’s firearm training, between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate during gunfights was just 18 percent. When suspects did not return fire, police officers hit their targets 30 percent of the time.

Two Gardena police officers have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of using their position to acquire firearms and illegally selling more than 100 of the weapons to others, including a convicted felon.”