January 20, 2018

A country club mind: another explanation for the way Trump talks

A Philadelphia loan program to help preserve housing

Philadelphia Inquirer -Starting this summer, the city is launching a low-interest loan program that aims to give homeowners as much as $25,000 to fix up their aging homes.

The initiative — born out of city legislation passed in 2016 and called the Housing Preservation Loan Program — aims to give residents who have struggled to get loans a new chance at borrowing. For years, homeowners who had less-than-perfect credit scores — and who were not eligible for city grants — were forced to sideline major repairs, worsening their home’s problems.

Collectively, officials say, it’s created a city housing stock filled with more troubles than just old houses. In 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 160,000 homes in the Philadelphia metro area experienced roof leaks. Nearly 120,000 had a crumbling foundation. At least 70,000 homes had mold. And 258,000 were reported as being “uncomfortably cold” for 24 hours or more.

“We have this extraordinary asset in these resilient rowhouses, but we are going to lose them because they are falling apart,” said Karen Black, the CEO of the research firm May 8 Consulting and the cofounder of the Healthy Rowhouse Project, a local advocacy program that worked with city officials to create the loan program. “If folks live in safe, quality housing, their children do better in school. They have more stability. It changes their health.”

Universal health coverage approaved in Egypt

Word: How the Democrats gave in to Trump

Corey Robin, Guardian - You’d think that Democrats in Congress would jump at the opportunity to impose a constraint on Donald Trump’s presidency – one that liberals and Democrats alike have characterized as authoritarian. Apparently, that’s not the case.

Despite being in the minority, Democrats last week had enough Republican votes on their side to curb the president’s ability, enhanced since 9/11, to spy on citizens and non-citizens alike.

In the House, a majority of Democrats were willing to join a small minority of Republicans to do just that. But 55 Democrats – including the minority leader, Nancy Pelosi; the minority whip, Steny Hoyer; and other Democratic leaders of the opposition to Trump – refused.

After the House voted for an extension of the president’s power to spy, a group of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans attempted to filibuster the bill. The critical 60th vote to shut down the filibuster was a Democrat.

LA Times staff joins a union

Huffington Post -  After 136 years without a union, staffers at the Los Angeles Times decided it was finally time to join one.

Their cause was inadvertently helped along by management, which ran a union-busting campaign that, in its oafishness and ineptitude, served as a fitting monument to the newspaper’s publisher.

On Thursday, NPR detailed allegations of past misconduct by LA Times CEO and publisher Ross Levinsohn. The paper announced Friday afternoon that Levinsohn would be taking an unpaid leave of absence while an outside law firm investigates.

Most journalists had already cast their votes by the time the Levinsohn story was published. But it served as yet another reminder of why so many decided it was time to bargain collectively.

“I wasn’t planning on going to the vote count, but after [the Levinsohn news] yesterday, I really do feel like I want to go,” said Jaweed Kaleem, a former HuffPost reporter who now covers race and justice for the Times.

On Friday, federal officials released the lopsided ballot count of a historic election at the storied paper: The newsroom cast 248 votes in favor of joining the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America, and just 44 votes in opposition.

Trump's time with Stormy Daniels

Her detailed description

Pope still not firm on church sexual abuse

NY Times editorial - Pope Francis arrived in Chile with the right message: He was “pained and ashamed,” he said on Tuesday, about the irreparable damage abusive priests have inflicted on minors. Yet he refused to meet with victims of the country’s most nefarious sexual abuser, and when pressed about his support of a bishop linked to that priest, he dismissed the accusations as slander.

For all his professions of horror at the revelations about predatory priests whose activities were covered up by the hierarchy — and for all his other admirably enlightened and pastoral actions — it seems the pope has yet to fully appreciate that the abuse of minors is not simply a matter of a few deviant priests protected by overzealous prelates but of his church’s acceptance of a horrible violation of a most sacred trust: that of a devout and questioning youth and a spiritual guide.

Acknowledging and regretting the damage is not enough. If the Catholic Church is ever to lift the deep stain of child sex abuse, the pope must take every opportunity to reject not only clear violations but also the slightest appearance of tolerance for such behavior.

Dept of good stuff: cyber links

Cyber notes
Guide to stopping internet tracking

American Computer Museum
Digital Freedom Network
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Save the Internet
Ars Technica
Digital Trends
Register, UK
Torrent Freak

The psychology of parents who torture their children

What Trump is doing to regulations

Politico - What Trump has actually done is, rather than repealing old rules, he has put a cork in the federal regulatory process, slow-playing rulemaking and in many cases stopping it entirely. According to a Politico analysis, the White House’s regulatory office has approved just 156 regulations since Inauguration Day, a huge drop compared with the Obama and Bush administrations: The office approved 510 rules in Barack Obama’s first year. For George W. Bush, it was 445.

Conservatives have celebrated this regulatory slowdown as welcome relief from an overbearing Washington, while liberals worry the government is neglecting its duties as a watchdog. But the numbers in many ways mask the unprecedented nature of what Trump is doing. Over the past year, the White House has laid the groundwork for a radical regulatory experiment across the government, limiting the ability of agencies to issue new rules and installing task forces at each agency to root out outdated ones. Conservatives have long said such a review would turn up numerous rules with huge costs and few benefits; Trump has begun testing that theory, and supporters are confident in the results.

Sure sign pot is really in: producers want you to call it cannibis not pot

January 19, 2018

Department of Labor plan to let businesses swipe tips could really hurt women workers

Economic Policy Institute -The Department of Labor has proposed a rule that would make it legal for employers to pocket their workers’ tips, as long as they pay those workers at least the minimum wage. The proposed rule rescinds portions of longstanding DOL regulations that prohibit employers from taking tips. We estimate that if the rule is finalized, every year workers will lose $5.8 billion in tips, as tips are shifted from workers to employers.2 Of the $5.8 billion, nearly 80 percent—$4.6 billion—would be taken from women who are working in tipped jobs.

Mueller looking into whether Rusian money funded NRA gifts to Trump campaign

Alternet - The FBI is reportedly investigating whether Russian money was illegally funneled to the National Rifle Association  to benefit Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.Two sources familiar with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation told McClatchy that the FBI is looking into ties between Alexander Torshin, a deputy from Russia’s central bank, and the NRA. Alexander Torshin “is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA,” according to McClatchy.

Trump's lawyer set up private corporation to pay off Trump's sex partner

Wall Street Journal- President Donald Trump’s lawyer used a private Delaware company to pay a former adult-film star $130,000 in return for her agreeing to not publicly discuss an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to corporate records and people familiar with the matter.

The lawyer, Michael Cohen, established Essential Consultants LLC, on Oct. 17, 2016, just before the 2016 presidential election, corporate documents show. Mr. Cohen, who is based in New York, then used a bank account linked to the entity to send the payment to the client-trust account of a lawyer representing the woman, Stephanie Clifford, one of the people said.

Mr. Cohen’s decision to establish the company in Delaware offered him privacy and simplicity, hallmarks of a state that has attracted more than one million business entities. Unlike some states, Delaware doesn’t require companies to publicly disclose the names of their managers. In October 2016, the month Mr. Cohen created the entity used in the deal with Ms. Clifford, Delaware officials recorded 10,574 new limited liability companies.

Deutsche Bank looking into "suspecious" money in Kushner accounts

NY Daily News - Deutsche Bank is looking at evidence that companies related to Jared Kushner may have moved "suspicious" money through the German lender, according to a report.

The bank has informed a national finance supervisor about the transactions and will also inform special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian election meddling, Manager Magazin, part of the Der Spiegel group, reported.

Trump himself has done extensive business with Deutsche, and acknowledged having $130 million in debts to the bank last year that the Financial Times reported were closer to $300 million.

Kushner Companies has done major business with Deutsche Bank, including a $285 million loan in 2016 related to its property in the former New York Times building in Manhattan.

Kushner’s interactions with the bank were also the subject of a subpoena from federal Brooklyn prosecutors believed to be unrelated to the Russia investigation, according to reports last month.

Its financial dealings have now repeatedly come under scrutiny, and there is an ongoing Department of Justice investigation into its role in a Russian money laundering scheme for which it has paid hundreds of millions in fines to New York and British regulators.

Portland OR goes for low speed limits

Planetizen -"To improve traffic safety and make streets more welcoming for walking and biking, Portland will lower speed limits on nearly all of its residential streets to 20 miles per hour, in most cases replacing a 25 mph limit," reports Angie Schmitt.

According to Schmitt, the 70 percent of the city's collected miles of streets will now be subject to the 20 mph speed limit. Portland... The action by the Portland City Council is perhaps the most sweeping of any similar efforts around the country, though Portland is not the first city in the country or in the world to lower speed limits in the name of traffic safety.

First year poll finds Trump least popular president of modern times

Historic alternative radio network in financial trouble

Current - The Pacifica Foundation is seeking a loan to avoid bankruptcy and seizure of its assets.

The foundation is close to acquiring a $2 million loan from supporters of KPFK in Los Angeles, according to Bill Crosier, interim executive director of the Pacific Foundation, and board member Grace Aaron.

Pacifica is at risk of asset seizure following a judgment in October that ordered the network to pay $1.8 million in back rent plus interest to the Empire State Realty Trust. The rent is for the transmitter of WBAI, Pacifica’s New York City station.

Dept. of Good Stuff: Civil liberties and justice

Civil liberties & justice
Drugs: marijuana
Homeland Security
Clues your country may be becoming a fascist state
The militarization of civilian America
The true power of juries
Letter to a spook
How to stay free
Of pink suits, golf balls & civil liberties
Letter to Thomas Jefferson
Mississippi summer 1964
Backing off of hate
The biggest threat to America: ourselves
Final thoughts
September 12, 2001
Follow the limousines
Electronic Privacy Informatiuon Center

American Civil Liberties Union
Constitutional Accountability Center

National Lawyers Guild
Gun talk
On guns
Firearm insurance

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center
Project on Government Oversight

Stand Against Spying


Play it again, Sam

Sam Smith - I'm uploading some of my old band tunes to Sound Cloud, so thought I would share them with you. This is Am I Blue from my Decoland Band that I ran in the 1980s and 1990s.
Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and people on stage

January 18, 2018

Movie ticket sales down 6% in 2017

Misspending money on bullet trains instead of real ones

CBS Sacramento - Officials are raising the projected cost of the first phase of California’s bullet train by 35 percent, to $10.6 billion. The extra $2.8 billion comes on a 199-mile segment in the Central Valley that is partly under construction.

19 attorney generals want banking for legal weed industry

Huffington Post - In a letter sent to congressional leaders on Tuesday, attorneys general from 17 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. territory of Guam said they shared “a strong interest in protecting public safety and bringing grey market activities into the regulated banking sector.”

“To address these goals, we urge Congress to advance legislation that would allow states that have legalized medical or recreational use of marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system,” the letter stated.

Such a law “would bring billions of dollars into the banking sector, and give law enforcement the ability to monitor these transactions,” 

Poll: Democratic presidential nomination

 Harvard CAPS/Harris

27% Biden
16% Sanderss
13% Winfrey
13%  Clinton H
10% Warren
 4%  Booker
 4% Harris
 2% Cuomo
 1%  Gilibrand

Restorative justice at work

Dept. of Good Stuff: Urban

City news


What Hollywood women could learn from farmworkers about sexual abuse

Talk Poverty - - What could Hollywood’s brightest stars learn from farmworkers in Florida’s tomato fields? When it comes to creating a workplace where women are empowered to report sexual harassment—and receive justice rather than retaliation when they do so—the farmworkers of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) offer a proven model. That the group created this solution in a town known less than a decade ago as “ground zero for modern slavery” makes it all the more remarkable and promising for other industries.

Agriculture is a notoriously dangerous industry for women: 80 percent of women farmworkers report having experienced some form of sexual violence on the job. The CIW is addressing this crisis through its Fair Food Program (FFP), which puts market pressure on tomato growers to enforce a strict code of conduct in their fields. The code, which was developed by workers themselves, sets various human rights standards, one of which is zero tolerance for sexual assault. (It mandates immediate firing for unwanted “physical touching.”) If violations of the code go unaddressed, the result is severe economic consequences for the grower. Get TalkPoverty In Your Inbox

To enforce the code, which covers more than 90 percent of Florida’s $600 million tomato industry, the CIW has established legally-binding agreements with 14 of the world’s largest retail food corporations that purchase tomatoes—including WalMart, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and all major fast-food companies with the exception of Wendy’s. These corporations promise to cut off purchases from farms that are out of compliance with the code. Now, tomato growers know if they don’t crack down on abuses in their fields, they can’t sell their produce to these major buyers. These agreements didn’t come easily: CIW educated consumers about the plight of farmworkers via hunger strikes, marches, and direct action. It took intense public pressure to get most of the corporate retailers to sign on.

Trump regime to allow doctors, nurses to discriminate against women and alternative sexe

NPR -Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump administration.

The top civil rights official at the Department of Health and Human Services is creating the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion or treat certain people because of moral or religious objections.

The establishment of the division reverses an Obama-era policy that barred health care workers from refusing to treat transgender individuals or people who have had or are seeking abortions.

US border patrol routinely sabotages water for migrants

Guardian -United States border patrol agents routinely vandalise containers of water and other supplies left in the Arizona desert for migrants, condemning people to die of thirst in baking temperatures, according to two humanitarian groups.

In a report published on,  the Tucson-based groups said the agents committed the alleged sabotage with impunity in an attempt to deter and punish people who illegally cross from Mexico.

Volunteers found water gallons vandalised 415 times, on average twice a week, in an 800 sq mile patch of Sonoran desert south-west of Tucson, from March 2012 to December 2015, the report said. The damage affected 3,586 gallons.

The report also accused border patrol agents of vandalising food and blankets and harassing volunteers in the field.

Poll: Global view of American leadership; who's responsible for economy

Other nations’ approval of U.S. leadership under President Donald Trump hit a historical low of 30 percent in 2017, according to a Gallup poll

Obama gets more credit than Trump for the improved economy: 56% to 49%

January 17, 2018

Worst 2018 alternative sex bills

Freedom of information cases soar

TRAC--Since the new administration took office at the end of January 2017, there has been a sharp jump in the number of lawsuits filed by individuals and organizations seeking court orders to obtain federal government records. Suits brought by the news media and nonprofit advocacy organizations have fueled a significant part of this rise.

Lawsuits this past fiscal year rose an astonishing 26 percent, and are continuing to climb. Freedom of Information Act court cases are now up over 70 percent from just five years ago. Court backlogs of pending FOIA litigation have climbed even faster, with nearly 900 cases waiting resolution.

The Department of Justice with 197 FOIA lawsuits - a jump of 33 - was sued the most often, followed by the Department of Homeland Security with 98 suits. The Department of Interior with 68 new FOIA suits filed against it moved up in the rankings from fifth place in FY 2016 to third place in FY 2017.

Best states slash incarceration and crime

China fires shot in new financial war with US

The Daily Proof -  Bloomberg reported that Beijing is reviewing the composition of Chinese reserves and considering reducing their allocation to U.S. Treasury securities. China has been diversifying away from Treasuries for years, including increased allocations to gold, direct investments in private equity, hedge funds and high-quality, euro-denominated debt.

The Chinese leak is best understood as a shot across the bow in what is shaping up as a new currency and trade war between the U.S. and China.

The U.S. is preparing to slap tariffs and trade sanctions on China, so China was warning Washington that such actions might be met with retaliation.

Party control by state

Ballotpedia - Phil Murphy (D) was sworn into office as the Governor of New Jersey. He replaces Chris Christie (R), who was ineligible to run for re-election in 2017 due to term limits. Murphy's swearing-in gives Democrats trifecta control of the state, as they now hold the governor's mansion and both houses of the legislature.

The Democratic trifecta in New Jersey now brings the Democratic total to eight across the country. Democrats also picked up a trifecta in Washington as a result of the 2017 elections. Republicans currently have 26 trifectas, while 16 states remain under divided government.