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

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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.”

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

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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

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“…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.)

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

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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.

“Instead of offering aid, McCain advised them to move to a different state.” August 17, 2017

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“[Kevin Pratt-King] had asked McCain for help after being diagnosed with the same form of aggressive cancer, glioblastoma. Instead of offering aid, according to Roy’s tweet, McCain advised them to move to a different state.”

“Social workers began going door to door in San Juan housing projects, explaining that a pill could be taken daily to prevent pregnancy. Once women were told what the pill did, they signed up by the hundreds. However, these women were not informed that they were part of a clinical trial or that the treatment was experimental.”

“Side effects [of the vaginal implant] can range from chronic pain and loss of sexual function, to major complications like the implant protruding through the bladder, or bowels, even necessitating removal of organs ensnared in the mesh. It can shrink inside your body, slicing through nerve endings, tissue and organs.

If someone makes the effort of going to doctor after doctor, and all they are given is a pat on the head and told, ‘Oh, sweetie, you’ll be OK—you just need to smile more,’ that is a failure of the physicians.” Article covers both social biases (like doctors assuming a woman’s problems are psychosomatic instead of doing tests) and biological ones (like researchers only testing on male mice, leaving them with huge gaps in knowledge regarding biologically female humans).

“The Gay Men’s Chorus posed to illustrate the impact of AIDS. Those dressed in black, with their backs turned, represent those who had died.” This 1993 photo is a punch in the heart.

The military spends five times as much on Viagra as it would on transgender troops’ medical care.”

And for something more hopeful:

An experiment, recounted in comic form: If you put rats alone in cages, they’ll addict themselves to morphine. If you put them in an enriching environment with a bunch of other rats to hang out with, they’ll avoid it.

Gisella Perl, the “Angel of Auschwitz” — who got that title by providing abortions, so the Nazis wouldn’t have pregnant Jewish women to experiment on.

“As what was thought to be the largest referral service in the country, which referred an estimated half million women for abortions in its six years of existence, the [Clergy Consultation Service] had significant market power that it leveraged to reduce the going rate for an abortion.” The name isn’t a euphemism. It was literally a coalition of Protestant and Jewish religious leaders.

“Intersex advocates are rejoicing at a paper released by three former US Surgeons General. The surgeon-generals called for an end to forced medical surgeries on young intersex people.

A woman’s place is in the Resistance January 23, 2017

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Crowd estimates for the Women’s March on Washington are running to half a million people in DC alone.

Add in the rest of the companion marches in the US — from those with handfuls of people to those (including Boston’s) that joined DC in the six figures — and we’re talking 3 million, total. That’s one percent of the population of the country.

Swing Left: a guide to the most-contested House districts in 2018. Check your area for campaigns to support.

And take a fresh look at how your state stands on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. A bunch of new legislatures are working on it since the last time I checked! As of January 2017, bills are pending in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Old news, still worth sharing: Six record-breaking, history-making women who did get elected in November. All minorities, all Democrats, and the ones who are natural-born citizens might have the White House in their future. Keep your eyes on them.

Final note, some good news from outside the country: Finland is doing a trial of Universal Basic Income. We’ll see how it goes.

Fun Things To Do Over Your Weekend July 25, 2015

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(1) Sign this petition to have the United States recognize the KKK as a domestic terrorism organization. (It is shameful that we haven’t done this already.)

(2) Do a few of these things suggested by the Brady Campaign. They’re fighting the good fight against the US’s gun problem, against a coalition of weapons dealers who are hell-bent on making it easier to sell things.

(3) Pick up the facts about the death of Sandra Bland, who was jailed for three days because she failed to signal a lane change and then found mysteriously dead in her cell. Be horrified. Look for local protests. If you’re in the Massachusetts area, there’s one in Boston this Tuesday.

(4) Read this essay, written from experience, about how medical care is frequently icky and uncomfortable. And don’t let people demonize Planned Parenthood on the grounds that, in the process of providing medical care, they do things that are icky and uncomfortable.

(5) Ask your representative to co-sponsor the Save Oak Flat Act. An eleventh-hour addition to the end of a “must-pass” military spending bill traded 2400 acres of Arizona federal land to a foreign mining corporation — including a sacred site for local Apache tribe members. Because why would the US waste an opportunity to screw over Native Americans for profit?

(6) On a brighter note, celebrate that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is officially illegal across the country. Not even because of a new law — but because the EEOC ruled that it falls under the jurisdiction of the 1964 Civil Rights Act! (Because you can’t discriminate based on sex, and we’re finally acknowledging that that’s what’s happening if you’d fire a woman for dating a woman, but wouldn’t fire a man for the same reason.)

(7) All of the above is US-based stuff, so here’s something that’s hopefully doable anywhere: browse the free-to-download section on the Big Finish website, and help yourself to whatever looks good.

Look, if you can’t make rent without working 10-hour days 7 days a week, your minimum wage is too low November 23, 2014

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“Housing [chronically homeless adults] led to dramatic cost savings that more than paid for the cost of putting them in decent housing, including $1.8 million in health care savings from 447 fewer ER visits (78% reduction) and 372 fewer hospital days (79% reduction). Tenants also spent 84 fewer days in jail, with a 72% drop in arrests.

“It gets even worse for the GOP when you consider that 9 out of the 12 states seeing faster growth are those that set their minimum wages to rise with inflation.

“A screen that OSHA said would have prevented workers from falling into the sugar hopper was removed 13 days before Salinas’ accident.

“There are other examples. We talked last year, for example, about Minnesota and Wisconsin – two similarly sized states with comparable populations […] The former raised taxes, the latter cut taxes. Which state is better off now? Take a wild guess.

“Gender-specific markups mean that in California, women were paying about $1,350 more than men a year for the same products before the state banned gender pricing. Women’s deodorant, for example, costs 30 cents more per ounce on average than men’s even when the only difference is the scent. Women also get charged more for haircuts, dry cleaning, and other beauty products like razors.”

“She was sent last Sept. 9 to the emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital, which was out of her insurance network, instead of to Meriter Hospital, three blocks away, which was covered by her insurance. It’s the difference between a $1,500 maximum out-of-pocket expense and the now-$50,000-plus she’s facing in bills.

State-by-state map of working hours needed at minimum wage to afford rent. It’s at least 70 hours a week, or 10 hours a day every single day, in all states but 2 (Arkansas and Montana).

Dear white people…we’ll just assume you have tickets. November 2, 2014

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Went to see Dear White People in the theater, with some people from a local anti-racist group — for reference, it was about 5-6 of us white, 3 black, and 2 Asian.

We got seats in the theater concessions area afterward to talk about it. A similar-sized group, but with more black/brown people, ended up sitting next to us…and one of the staffers came up and asked if they had tickets. (This isn’t in the lobby, this is *past* the point where they *take* your ticket.) Our much-whiter group had been hanging around longer — none of us had bought any food, either — and still, nobody ever asked if we had a right to be there.

So that was topical.

As for the movie — for reference, here’s a trailer:

We liked a lot of things about it. Were meh about others. Spoilers follow:

(more…)

The woman who saved the space program, the woman who was the Nazis’ most wanted person, the woman who chartered a bank in 1903, and more September 27, 2014

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“Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but was reportedly told by NIC member Charles F. Kettering and others that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell War Bonds.” Instead of…coming up with the technology that Bluetooth and wi-fi are based on.

“The three women pictured in this incredible photograph from 1885 — Anandibai Joshi of India, Keiko Okami of Japan, and Sabat Islambouli of Syria — each became the first licensed female doctors in their respective countries.”

“Much of her work was top secret and she was a very private person – she actively avoided the press. Barely anyone knew about what she did for the space programme. It was only at her funeral did her colleagues begin to share her story. ‘Mary [Sherman Morgan] single-handedly saved America’s space programme,’ he said, ‘and nobody knows but a handful of old men.’

Maggie Walker: first woman of any race to charter a bank in the US. As the daughter of a former slave. In 1903.

Antoinette Perry: the actress and director after whom the Tony Awards are named. Started acting in 1905; got into directing in 1928.

Martha Gellhorn: “Women weren’t allowed to serve in combat in those days – that restriction wouldn’t be lifted until 50 years later, in 1994. So how did a female slip through the cracks and land on the beaches with the boys in uniform? Two reasons — she was a journalist, and she was a stowaway.”

Nancy Wake: the Gestapo’s most-wanted person, parachuting, recruiting, taking command of battles, killing an SS sentry with her bare hands, and generally earning that 5-million-franc price on her head.

“Preparing the animators’ vision for camera required the inking and painting of thousands of fragile, combustible cels with perfect refinement. During Snow White, it was not at all unusual to see the ‘girls’—as Walt paternalistically referred to them—thin and exhausted, collapsed on the lawn, in the ladies’ lounge, or even under their desks. ‘I’ll be so thankful when Snow White is finished and I can live like a human once again,’ Rae wrote after she recorded 85 hours in a week.