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Hundreds Call Paper 'Unscholarly' and 'Racially Violent' - Medscape


Hundreds of academics, anti-poverty advocates and others have signed petitions demanding the journal Society retract a new commentary which argues, in essence, that poor Black and Hispanic people in the United States are poor because they haven't figured out how to be more white.

One petition, to the editor of the journal, Jonathan Imber, had garnered more than 550 signatories by the time of this writing. Another, to the author of the paper, the editorial board of the journal, and the CEO of Springer Nature, which publishes the journal, was at 400 and counting.

The essay, by Lawrence Mead, a public policy researcher at New York University, argues that racism and a lack of good jobs do not explain why America, the world's richest country, continues to have a problem with poverty. "More plausible," Mead states, are differences in "culture":

Link to petition:

The Atlantic: A Vaccine Reality Check - So much hope is riding on a breakthrough, but a vaccine is

is only the beginning of the end.

Should be available outside of the paywall.

Nearly five months into the pandemic, all hopes of extinguishing COVID-19 are riding on a still-hypothetical vaccine. And so a refrain has caught on: We might have to stay home—until we have a vaccine. Close schools—until we have a vaccine. Wear masks—but only until we have a vaccine. During these months of misery, this mantra has offered a small glimmer of hope. Normal life is on the other side, and we just have to wait—until we have a vaccine.

Feeding these hopes are the Trump administration’s exceedingly rosy projections of a vaccine as early as October, as well as the media’s blow-by-blow coverage of vaccine trials. Each week brings news of “early success,” “promising initial results,” and stocks rising because of “vaccine optimism.” But a COVID-19 vaccine is unlikely to meet all of these high expectations. The vaccine probably won’t make the disease disappear. It certainly will not immediately return life to normal.

Biologically, a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus is unlikely to offer complete protection. Logistically, manufacturers will have to make hundreds of millions of doses while relying, perhaps, on technology never before used in vaccines and competing for basic supplies such as glass vials. Then the federal government will have to allocate doses, perhaps through a patchwork of state and local health departments with no existing infrastructure for vaccinating adults at scale. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has led vaccine distribution efforts in the past, has been strikingly absent in discussions so far—a worrying sign that the leadership failures that have characterized the American pandemic could also hamper this process. To complicate it all, 20 percent of Americans already say they will refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and with another 31 percent unsure, reaching herd immunity could be that much more difficult.

For the Americans pinning their hopes on a vaccine, a botched rollout could feel like yet another example of failure in the time of COVID-19. That could have disastrous consequences that last well beyond the pandemic itself. Brunson worries that such a scenario could undermine trust in public-health expertise and in all vaccines. “Both of those would be disasters,” she says, “in addition to the COVID itself being a disaster.” It could mean, for example, further resurgences of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and an even bigger challenge when battling future pandemics.

For all the uncertainties that remain ahead for a COVID-19 vaccine, several experts were willing to make one prediction. “I think the question that is easy to answer is, ‘Is this virus going to go away?’ And the answer to that is, ‘No,’” says Karron, the vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins. The virus is already too widespread. A vaccine could still mitigate severe cases; it could make COVID-19 easier to live with. The virus is likely here to stay, but eventually, the pandemic will end.

Not mentioned in this are the anti-vaxxers, the conspiracy-theory nutjobs, the whackos who think it's OK to have 20-30% of the population die to "thin the herd."

Thousands of Police Discipline Records That New York Kept Secret for Decades - ProPublica

This will cause some major waves.

ProPublica obtained these police records from New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board. NYPD unions are suing to halt the city from making the data public.

Until last month, New York state prohibited the release of police officers’ disciplinary records. Civilians’ complaints of abuse by officers were a secret. So were investigators’ conclusions. The public couldn’t even know if an officer was punished.

The New York City police officer whose use of a prohibited chokehold led to the death of Eric Garner in 2014 had a record of misconduct. Garner’s last words — “I can’t breathe” — became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The city investigator who revealed the existence of the officer’s record was forced to resign in 2017; the officer himself wasn’t fired until 2019.

When the death of George Floyd and footage of his pleas for his life ignited worldwide protests, activists in New York renewed their push to repeal the statute that kept disciplinary records under wraps, known as 50-a. State lawmakers finally acted, voting to repeal the provision, which had been on the books for decades.

Soon after, ProPublica asked New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, or CCRB, for a list of officers, along with the complaints against them, and what discipline, if any, had been recommended.

Today, we are making this information public and, with it, providing an unprecedented picture of civilians’ complaints of abuse by NYPD officers as well as the limits of the current system that is supposed to hold officers accountable. We’ve published a database that lets you search the police complaints so you can see the information for yourself. Data experts can also download the data.

I expect many will download the data to keep it safe since the powerful unions may prevail in their attempts to stop distribution.

I hope this opens up all the rest of the police departments to transparency.

Medicare is running out of money - Kaiser Health News


Everyone involved even tangentially in health care today is completely consumed by the coronavirus pandemic, as they should be. But the pandemic is accelerating a problem that used to be front and center in health circles: the impending insolvency of Medicare.

With record numbers of Americans out of work, fewer payroll taxes are rolling in to fund Medicare spending, the numbers of beneficiaries are rising, and Congress dipped into Medicare’s reserves to help fund the COVID-19 relief efforts this spring.

“I think we have a real, impending health care crisis,” said Dr. David Shulkin, who was undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs under President Barack Obama for two years and led the VA for a year under Donald Trump.

In April, Medicare’s trustees reported that the Part A Trust Fund, which pays for hospital and other inpatient care, would start to run out of money in 2026. That is the same as the projection in 2019. But the trustees cautioned at the time that their projections did not include the impact of COVID-19 on the trust fund.

“Given the uncertainty associated with these impacts, the Trustees believe that it is not possible to adjust the estimates accurately at this time,” said the report.

So Shulkin, now a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, did his own projections. Given even a conservative estimate of how many workers and businesses would not be contributing payroll taxes that finance Part A spending, he said, the trust fund could become insolvent as early as 2022 or 2023.

“I think this is something that needs more immediate attention,” he said.

Others who make projections agree the insolvency date is getting closer, maybe not as close as 2022.

This sounds like part of the (r)epuglicon's plan.

There is one other COVID-related policy that could hasten the depletion of the Trust Fund. At least $60 billion of the funding provided as part of the CARES Act to help hospitals weather the pandemic came not from the general treasury, but from the Trust Fund itself.

That money in “accelerated and advance payments” is supposed to be paid back, via a reduction in future payments. But there is a push in some quarters for that funding to be forgiven, which would make the Trust Fund’s hole even bigger.

It is not exactly clear what would happen if the Trust Fund were to become insolvent because it has never happened before. As the Congressional Research Service pointed out, “There are no provisions in the Social Security Act that govern what would happen if insolvency were to occur.”

Bellingcat: What You Need To Know About The Battle of Portland

For those that don't regularly follow this incredible investigative journalism organization, this is a great article and introduction.

These reporters have uncovered incredible evidence in the Russian downing of MH-17, invasion of Ukraine, poisoning of opponents. They publish an amazing toolkit of open-source resources to help citizens uncover the corruption that has taken hold in many countries (US too?)

July 20, 2020

The city of Portland, Oregon is currently in the national spotlight after video evidence of federal agents driving rented vans and abducting activists went viral. This footage was taken in the early morning hours of July 15, and an Oregon Public Broadcasting article published on the 16th brought the matter out of the local social networks of Portland activists and on to the national stage.

As I write this, mainstream media personalities are beginning to parachute into Portland to cover what some have dubbed the “fascist takeover of Portland”. The word “Gestapo” is trending on Twitter.

The abduction filmed on the 15th did not happen in a vacuum. As other local reporters have noted, it was the end result of more than six weeks of escalating state violence against largely nonviolent demonstrators. I have been in the streets of Portland documenting this movement since the very first riot. Before the national press unleashes a flood of new stories based on their first few hours in town, I’d like to explain what’s been happening:

Trump consults Bush torture lawyer on how to skirt law and rule by decree

Source: The Guardian

The Trump administration has been consulting the former government lawyer who wrote the legal justification for waterboarding, on how the president might try to rule by decree.

In a Fox News Sunday interview, Trump declared he would try to use that interpretation to try to force through decrees on healthcare, immigration and “various other plans” over the coming month.

Constitutional scholars and human rights activists have also pointed to the deployment of paramilitary federal forces against protesters in Portland as a sign that Trump is ready to use this broad interpretation of presidential powers as a means to suppress basic constitutional rights.

“This is how it begins,” Laurence Tribe, a Harvard constitutional law professor, wrote on Twitter. “The dictatorial hunger for power is insatiable. If ever there was a time for peaceful civil disobedience, that time is upon us.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/20/trump-john-yoo-lawyer-torture-waterboarding

Yoo became notorious for a legal memo he drafted in August 2002, when he was deputy assistant attorney general in the justice department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

It stated: “Necessity or self-defense may justify interrogation methods that might violate’ the criminal prohibition against torture.”

Memos drafted by Yoo were used for justifying waterboarding and other forms of torture on terrorism suspects in CIA “black sites” around the world.

Ever scraping at the bottom of the barrel. When can democracy rid itself of these vermin?

Disgraced Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Headed Back to Jail

Source: New York Times

Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist whose corruption became a symbol of the excesses of Washington influence peddling, is set to return to jail for violating the law that was amended in response to his earlier crimes, law enforcement officials said on Thursday.

Prosecutors said Mr. Abramoff, 62, is the first person charged with flouting the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which was amended in 2007 after details of his earlier scheme, one of the biggest corruption scandals in modern times, emerged. He pleaded guilty to the lobbying violations and to criminal conspiracy for secretive and misleading work he did on behalf of cryptocurrency and marijuana projects, according to court documents.

Mr. Abramoff made a public show of having rehabilitated himself when he was released from prison in 2010 after serving nearly four years for a variety of charges related to corrupt lobbying as part of a conglomerate that defrauded Indian tribes of millions of dollars and used much of that money to try to win favor with lawmakers.

But in 2017 he attracted attention when he announced that he would be in a television show, “Capital Makeover: Bitcoin Brigade,” in which he would serve as a tutor and guide to the AML BitCoin project.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/us/politics/jack-abramoff-marijuana-cryptocurrency.html

The (r)epuglicon scum keeps bubbling up.


People convicted in Abramoff probe

Eventually 24 people were convicted of corruption or bribery.

Adam Kidan (an Abramoff associate), was sentenced in Florida in March 2006, serving 27 months in prison, followed by three years of probation.[92]
Todd Boulanger, an Abramoff deputy, pleaded guilty to lavishing congressional aides with meals, gifts and tickets to sporting events, concerts, and the circus in exchange for help with legislation favorable to Abramoff's clients. Sentenced to 30 days and fined.[93]
Roger Stillwell (R) Staff in the Department of the Interior under George W. Bush(R). Pleaded guilty and received two years suspended sentence for not reporting hundreds of dollars' worth of sports and concert tickets he received from Abramoff.
Steven Griles (R) (former Deputy Interior Secretary) the highest-ranking Bush administration official convicted in the scandal, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. He admitted lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with Abramoff, who repeatedly sought Griles' intervention at Interior on behalf of Indian tribal clients.
David Safavian (R) (former White House official), the Bush administration's former top procurement official, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in October 2006[94] after he was found guilty of covering up his dealings with Abramoff.[95][96]
Bob Ney (R-OH) then U. S. Representative, pleaded guilty September 2006, sentenced in January 2007 to 2˝ years in prison, acknowledged taking bribes from Abramoff. Ney was in the traveling party on an Abramoff-sponsored golf trip to Scotland at the heart of the case against Safavian.

Neil Volz (R) a former chief of staff to Ney who left government to work for Abramoff, pleaded guilty in May 2006 to conspiring to corrupt Ney and others with trips and other aid
William Heaton (R) former chief of staff for Ney, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge involving a golf trip to Scotland, expensive meals, and tickets to sporting events between 2002 and 2004 as payoffs for helping Abramoff's clients.
Thomas Hart (R) former chief of staff for Ney, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge involving a golf trip to Scotland, expensive meals, and tickets to sporting events between 2002 and 2004 as payoffs for helping Abramoff's clients.

Italia Federici (R) co-founder of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and obstruction of a Senate investigation into Abramoff's relationship with officials at the Department of the Interior.
Jared Carpenter (R) Vice-President of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, was discovered during the Abramoff investigation and pleaded guilty to income tax evasion. He got 45 days, plus 4 years probation.[97]
Mark Zachares (R) former aide to U. S. Representative Don Young(R-AL), pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He acknowledged accepting tens of thousands of dollars' worth of gifts and a golf trip to Scotland from Abramoff's team in exchange for official acts on the lobbyist's behalf.
Kevin A. Ring (R) former staff to John Doolittle (R-CA) was convicted of five charges of corruption.[98][99] He was sentenced to 20 months in prison in October 2011.[4]
James Hirni (R) US Senate aide, acknowledged bribing Trevor L. Blackann(R) aide to US Senator Kit Bond (R) with meals, concert passes and tickets to the opening game of the 2003 World Series between the Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, pleaded guilty to using wire communications to defraud taxpayers of congressional aides' honest services.[100][101]
Trevor L. Blackann (R) a former aide to US Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) and then-US Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), pleaded guilty to not reporting $4,100 in gifts from lobbyists in return for helping clients of Abramoff and his associates. Among the gifts were tickets to the World Series and concerts, plus meals and entertainment at a "gentleman's club."

Michael Scanlon (R) a former Staff member of Tom DeLay, pled guilty to committing bribery in the course of his work for Abramoff.[90][91]
Tony Rudy (R) another former staff member of Tom DeLay, he also left DeLay to work with Abramoff; pleaded guilty to conspiracy.[91]

John Albaugh (R) former Chief of Staff to Ernest Istook (R-OK), pleaded guilty to accepting bribes connected to the Federal Highway Bill. Istook was not charged. (2008)[102]
Robert E. Coughlin (R) Deputy Chief of Staff, Criminal Division of the Justice Department pleaded guilty to conflict of interest after accepting bribes from Jack Abramoff. (2008)[57]
Horace Cooper (R) a former Labor Department official with the Bush administration and aide to US Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX), pleaded guilty to falsifying a document when he did not report receiving gifts from Abramoff.[103][104]
Ann Copland (R) a former aide to US Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) pleaded guilty to taking more than $25,000 worth of concert and sporting event tickets in return for helping Abramoff.[100]
Roger Stillwell, a former Interior Department official, was sentenced to two years on probation in January 2007 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting hundreds of dollars worth of sports and concert tickets he received from Abramoff.
Fraser Verrusio (R) former Transportation Dept official, was found guilty of conspiracy and accepting bribes. Sentenced to 1 day in jail, 2 years' probation and a $1,000 fine.[105]

'14 Miles': A Look At The U.S.-Mexico Border, And The Lives Defined By It


This was such a powerful broadcast. I get so much information when I'm delivering my Meals-On-Wheels and listening to NPR.

My ultimate take-away was that physical walls don't mean much but just cause disruption. We're allowing corporations to operate across the world with very little oversight and yet want to constrict the flow of mere individuals.

WaPo: "Not clueless and hapless. Malevolent."


Stop saying Trump is ‘in denial.’ The truth is much worse.

Once we dispense with the idea that Trump remains “in denial,” we’re left with a few interpretations. The most charitable is that Trump continues to have principled disagreements with experts over these matters, but there are zero indications he has any substantively grounded views on them of any kind.

A far less charitable interpretation is that he’s merely indifferent to the catastrophic consequences that are resulting from these failures — and will continue to do so — and that he’s prioritizing nakedly self-interested political calculations over any such concerns.

Trump has been steadily wrong in these political calculations, to be sure. At each stage, he has believed not acting was in his immediate interests, only to discover the consequences of inaction proved politically worse.

There may have been a species of denial at play in those faulty political calculations — a misguided faith in his magical ability to re-create his political reality through the force of will and tweet. But we can’t pretend any longer that Trump isn’t perfectly aware of what the real-world consequences of his actions — or inactions — will be.

The press critic Jay Rosen has repeatedly suggested that the effort to obscure Trump’s role in this ongoing fiasco is producing one of the biggest propaganda and disinformation campaigns in modern history. Central to getting this right is dispensing with the idea that Trump is a hapless, clueless actor rather than a deliberate and malevolent one.

The one other possibility that underlies his malevolence is direction from hostile actors - foreign and domestic.

'Crushing experience' awaits Ghislaine Maxwell at troubled jail

Source: Reuters

Ghislaine Maxwell was detained on Monday in a troubled U.S. jail in Brooklyn where she will undergo humiliating searches and be denied nearly all possessions, a far cry from the luxury estate where she was arrested as an accused accomplice of Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell, 58, arrived at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn on Monday and is expected to appear in a Manhattan courtroom on Friday when a judge will consider a government request to detain her without bail.

“You go from living a life like Maxwell to all of a sudden being in a situation where you’re being strip-searched and having people look into your body cavities,” said Cameron Lindsay, a former warden at the MDC. “That is a crushing experience.”

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-people-ghislaine-maxwell-prison/crushing-experience-awaits-ghislaine-maxwell-at-troubled-jail-idUSKBN2472LN

I almost have a sense of pity for her. The hyoid bone is apparently very painful when crushed.
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