Links 11/12/19

Trump_dismemberedmistaken
Links for you. Science:

Today’s Electric Car Batteries Will Be Tomorrow’s E-Waste Crisis, Scientists Warn
Isolating Bacillus is always fun!!
Why Saving the Oceans Is as Vital as Protecting Rain Forests
This Congolese Doctor Discovered Ebola But Never Got Credit For It — Until Now
How Washington keeps America sick and fat. Food is closely linked to health, yet federal nutrition research is underfunded, even as the costs of diet-related diseases are skyrocketing. Does Washington hold the key to solving the obesity crisis? (replace the NIH’s Institute of Woo with an Institute of Nutrition Science)

Other:

The Ultimate Fighting President (excellent)
The Death of the Rude Press
A Northern Virginia bus driver strike lands at WMATA’s front door
Mayor Bowser Sends Very Nice Tweet About Michael Bloomberg, Is Immediately Ratioed
For Elizabeth Warren, The Wealth Tax Is About More Than Money: The feud between Warren and economist Larry Summers is a reckoning with the Democratic Party’s relationship with the super-rich. (excellent)
The “Call Your Mother” fight highlights the absurdity of Georgetown’s zoning
Inside the Microsoft team tracking the world’s most dangerous hackers
Updates to DC’s Comprehensive Plan fit together housing and preservation
Under Trump, millions of low-income people lose access to cellphones
America needs to seriously tax the rich – I should know, I’m one of them
New York Offers Half-Price Train And Bus Rides To Low-Income Residents. Why Doesn’t D.C.?
WHAT IF 2020 IS 1972?
There Are No Good Billionaires (Bill Gates edition)
Is Holding Fake Lunch Contests Trump’s Pettiest Scam?
I saw Mike Bloomberg speak to a group of rich executives end of 2018, when he was already considering running for president. I was so shocked at his views that I took notes.
Made In America: For $9.50 An Hour, They Brew Tear Gas For Hong Kong (how has OSHA not shut down this plant?)
How the Sinaloa Cartel Bested the Mexican Army
The Presidency Is Not Enough: And without reform, neither is a Democratic Senate. (Yup.)
Press Watch: CNN has a tough choice to make: Fake political drama or real political news?
He Wanted Cold Medicine, but CVS Rejected His Puerto Rican ID (this happens to D.C. residents too)
Male Chinese ‘Relatives’ Assigned to Uyghur Homes Co-sleep With Female ‘Hosts’
His dark materials: Trump’s war on truth gets sicker, and more dangerous

Posted in Lotsa Links | 3 Comments

But How Will You Pay for It? The Missing the Point Edition

Ever since Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Warren released her healthcare financing plan which, in part, was an attempt to quell the persistent question of ‘how will you pay for it?’, there has been discussion on the left-ish end of Twitter over Warren’s proposed payment method, the core of which is a per-employee tax on employers with more than fifty employees.

I think the lefties have it right (so to speak): this is an inferior mechanism compared to a payroll tax and is more regressive. It’s also not workable over the long term. While Warren is attempting to do a good thing here–make sure that the savings in healthcare goes to workers and not shareholders and owners of companies–the mechanism isn’t a good one.

All that said, this is a tempest in a teapot. It doesn’t matter. Does anyone really think what will kill Medicare for All is the funding mechanism? There are far more fundamental obstacles. Conservatives, which is to say Fox News, will claim that Democrats want to socialize your bodily fluids and that you’ll have to wait for years to get a doctor’s appointment. Many Democrats will embrace Republican talking points as well: many professional Democrats just don’t want Medicare for All. Former, corrupted Obama officials will attempt to appear reasonable and argue against it.

It’s fine to argue about the payment mechanism, but, if we ever reach that point, we’ve already won. To the extent the opposition will shout about ‘how will you pay for it?’, they will be arguing on a much more fundamental level than head taxes and indirect employee taxes. It’s going to be far more primitive and primal than that, and we had better be prepared for it.

Posted in Bidness, Conservatives, Democrats, Healthcare | 2 Comments

Links 11/11/19

Trump_completelyhinged
Links for you. Science:

Healthcare Workers, Activists Demand Flu Shots for Detained Immigrants
Long-awaited cystic fibrosis drug could turn deadly disease into a manageable condition
Why Do Parrots Waste So Much Food?
Isolating conidial ascomycetes from soil collected shortly after the 2013 #RimFire
Scientists Study Sea Levels 125,000 Years Ago And It’s a Terrifying Look at Our Future

Other:

A Welcoming and Safe America for All (Sanders’ immigration plan)
A Massive New Study Says the Washington Post Often Underpays Young Women and People of Color
Leaked document reveals that Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto plans for private taxation, private roads, charter schools, corporate cops and judges, and punishment for people who choose privacy
Progressive Latino pollster: 98% of Latinos do not identify with “Latinx” label
Los Angeles, Blade Runner, and the Theory of Relativity
Northampton report puts panhandling in perspective
A Louisiana DA will let you out of your community service obligation — if you donate to his nonprofit
Alt-right trolls make life miserable for Charlie Kirk and his Turning Point USA ‘Culture War’ tour
Elizabeth Warren’s excellent opening gambit on Medicare for All
The Browning of America Is Making Us Safer
The Go-Go World Mourns EU Guitarist Tino Jackson
The ‘apocalyptic predictions’ over New York’s wage hike have not come to pass, professor says
RFK Stadium Once ‘Had A Holy Feel To It.’ Now, Its Days Are Numbered
The Democratic Wins in Virginia Are What Happens When You Have a Smart Ground Game—and Fair Elections
Former Twitter employees charged with spying for Saudi Arabia by digging into the accounts of kingdom critics
Why $4.5 Billion From Big Tech Won’t End California Housing Crisis
American workers are bored and disillusioned. Here’s what may bring them back
5-Hour Workdays? 4-Day Workweeks? Yes, Please
Survey: Trump’s immigration rhetoric is negatively impacting Latinos’ health (and that’s before you get to the miscarriages)
How Booing Trump Corrects Media Bias
How Biden Killed Prison Education
D.C. Council Unanimously Votes To Expand Rights Of Sexual Assault Survivors

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Add Hatch Act Violations to the Articles of Impeachment

While violations of the Hatch Act, which is designed to the use of executive branch powers by federal employees for partisan ends, by Trump administration minions are now de rigueur (party of Law and Order!), you probably won’t be surprised to learn that Il Trumpe himself has run afoul of this law too. Obviously, the president, who is a politician, can engage in politically-related activity, but there are certain activities that still are illegal, even for a president. The first illegality (boldface mine):

Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 610, makes it a crime — indeed, a felony, punishable by up to three years in prison — for “any person to intimidate, threaten, command, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, command, or coerce, any employee of the Federal Government . . . to engage in . . . any political activity.” Congress enacted this statute in 1993, amending the Hatch Act to provide “additional protections against political manipulation of the federal workforce,” as a 2017 Justice Department publication put it.

In short, the president and his aides cannot commandeer the federal bureaucracy in service of the president’s purely partisan political objectives as a candidate for office. Notably, Section 610 does not require a “quid pro quo,” nor does it require that the object of the political activity constitute a “thing of value” — conditions required to demonstrate extortion, bribery or violations of campaign finance law. If Trump commanded, coerced or intimidated State Department officials or other federal employees to engage in impermissible political activity — or attempted to do so — that would be a criminal violation of the Hatch Act. (This would also be true for other top officials who recruited government employees for the effort.)

The available evidence suggests that, on orders of the president and his acting chief of staff, career diplomats at the State Department were shunted aside to pave the way for an effort to push Ukraine to investigate Burisma Holdings (the company where Hunter Biden served as a director) and supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Sondland and special envoy Kurt Volker allegedly proceeded to press Ukrainian officials to do just that, using the promise of a White House meeting and, later, the release of much-needed military aid as inducements.

MOAR illegality:

Under Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 600, which was part of the original Hatch Act, it is a crime for anyone to promise a benefit made possible by an act of Congress as “consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party” in connection with an election. According to the Justice Department, Section 600 is triggered when “corrupt public officials use government-funded jobs or programs to advance a partisan political agenda rather than to serve the public interest.” Although a violation of Section 600 is a misdemeanor, the Justice Department says that in egregious cases it could support a felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States (by interfering with the fair and impartial administration of a federally funded program).

In other words, if the president or other officials tied the receipt of congressionally authorized military aid to Ukrainian help for the president’s reelection campaign, that too could constitute a criminal offense. Such a scheme would echo a Nixon White House effort, dubbed the “Responsiveness Program,” to channel federal grants and contracts to groups or individuals who promised to support Nixon’s reelection bid. The Senate Watergate Committee’s report concluded that this diversion of taxpayer money from its intended use “to the political goal of reelecting the President” probably involved a criminal violation of the Hatch Act and a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.

These are straightforward violations of federal law. Importantly, they are easy to understand: Il Trumpe used the power of presidency to serve his own political interest. Democrats would be fools not to add these violations to the Articles of Impeachment. Of course, Democrats weren’t serious about getting Trump’s tax returns*, so who knows what these gormless and hapless fools will do.

*Democratic Rep. Richard Neal played a big role in this failure. Support his primary challenger Alex Morse (who isn’t just ‘not Richard Neal’–he’s very good on the issues too).

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Links 11/10/19

Trump_whoneedstohearthis
Links for you. Science:

Fear and Sport Imperil Lebanon’s Striped Hyenas
The Political Battlefield Of Infections And Migrant Children’s Bodies
Massachusetts General Hospital oversaw trial that led to the first death from a fecal transplant, a new paper shows
The trouble with chocolate: A decade after Mars and other chocolate makers vowed to stop rampant deforestation, the problem has gotten worse
How Contaminated Stool Stored in a Freezer Left a Fecal Transplant Patient Dead

Other:

Kentucky: How Beshear (Probably) Pulled It Off
Consensus
What GOP spin about last night’s losses says about Trump’s weakness
DAMNED IF YOU’RE LEFT, DAMNED IF YOU’RE CENTER
An Open Letter To ‘Conservative Christians’ Who Feel As Though The Left Hates Them And Their Traditional Values
Our Hospital’s New Software Frets About My ‘Deficiencies’
The Chicago Teachers Union Victory
Colorado May Be Cool, but Its Roads and Schools Are Meh
We Already Have a Wealth Tax. It’s Just Paid to Hedge Fund Managers.
The 16 worst people on the T, ranked
Baghdadi Is Dead. The War on Terror Will Create Another.
The American System of Tipping Makes No Sense
$16.8 Million In Campaign Funds Went To Trump Businesses, Latest Records Reveal
Could Betsy DeVos Cost Trump the Election?
Wildfires and blackouts mean Californians need solar panels and microgrids
DENIED: In 2004, Texas arbitrarily decided what percentage of students should get special education services. Today, tens of thousands of children are paying the price.
The Real Reason Facebook Won’t Fact-Check Political Ads
A friend of mine posted some excerpts from the textbook for a class she’s in that talk about managing millennials in the workplace, and hoo boy.
The IRS Tried to Hide Emails That Show Tax Industry Influence Over Free File Program
House Dems After Meeting With Richard Trumka: No Vote on Trump’s NAFTA if Worker Concerns Go Unaddressed
Why I Haven’t Gone Back to SCOTUS Since Kavanaugh
I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb

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Republican Daddy Will Never Save You

You would think Democrats would have learned that well before the Mueller hearings. You would be wrong (boldface mine):

Gates’ disclosure to investigators was a key insight into the state of mind of a campaign that was willing and eager to work with electronic thieves — even with powerful foreign adversaries like Russia, if need be — to win a presidential election. Yet that critical information wasn’t revealed in Mueller’s 440-page report that was supposed to tell the American public everything we needed to know about what the president knew and when he knew it, regarding Russia’s election hacking….

Indeed, the 500 pages — including agents’ interviews with key players like Gates, Trump’s now-disgraced former lawyer Michael Cohen, and former top aide Steve Bannon — could be well described as the Mueller probe like you’ve never seen it before.

Among the revelations are that Gates said that a lot of the pressure to find the purloined emails fell on retired general Michael Flynn — soon to be Trump’s short-lived national security adviser — because Flynn “had the most Russia contacts of anyone on the campaign.” The No. 2 man on Trump’s 2016 campaign also gave agents some interesting leads on the wooing of WikiLeaks — the intermediary that did release some stolen Democratic emails and documents — and his belief that the Republican National Committee had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks dumps…

But here’s a more discouraging takeaway — the powerful suggestion that the Mueller investigation that dominated the news for the better part of two years was never what the millions of Americans who believed in the battle-tested former FBI chief, a functioning justice system, and the truth actually thought it was. Saturday’s revealing memos were just the latest and strongest hint that an investigation upon which too many pinned too much hope — from “Mueller Time” T-shirts to that “Hon, Mueller’s got this. Come to bed” cartoon in the New Yorker — was in fact the gaslighting of America on a massive scale, even for the Trump era.

Sorry, hon — Mueller didn’t get this…

In the end — as the memos dropped on Saturday reveal — the Mueller report was not the definitive word on what happened with Trump, Russia and the tainted 2016 election. Rather, it was a series of not-always-great prosecutorial decisions about what to leave in and what to leave out, and what conclusions to make of it all — reached by an iconic-but-fading prosecutor no longer on top of his game, under relentless pressure from a justice apparatus that has been politicized and warped by the president and his Cohn-like hatchet man.

Republican Daddy, no matter how prominent or senior, will not save you. We will have to save ourselves. Terrifying as that is for professional Democrats, they actually might have to do something.

Posted in Democrats, Resistance Rebellion And Death, The Rule of Law | Leave a comment

Links 11/9/19

Trump_charityhome
Links for you. Science:

How Laos lost its tigers
How That DNA Test You Took for Fun Could Be Used by Law Enforcement
Global Warming Is Already Destroying New England’s Fisheries
First South American insect that emits blue light is discovered
Stanford professor who changed America with just one study was also a liar

Other:

The many benefits of a 4-day work week (full report here)
From Deadspin to picket lines at GM and in Chicago, a moral workplace is 2020’s stealth issue
These Hugely Popular Local News Sites In The US And Canada Are Fake
‘Who built this beautiful place?’ Despite Trump’s visits to his properties, some of his businesses show new signs of financial decline.
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso Isn’t Running For Reelection
Racist trolls targeted a Somali refugee’s campaign. She still managed to pull off a historic victory.
Democrats win full control of Virginia’s government, paving the way for a voting rights expansion (could pass the ERA too)
Carbon Taxes and Carbon Pricing Are Not Solutions to the Climate Crisis
I Got Access to My Secret Consumer Score. Now You Can Get Yours, Too.
This foreign meat company got U.S. tax money. Now it wants to conquer America. (make Brazil great again!)
A Majority Of The D.C. Council Is Calling On Jack Evans To Resign
NBC needs a transparent, external investigation of its failure to air Ronan Farrow’s #MeToo reporting
Warehouses Are Tracking Workers’ Every Muscle Movement
Ady Barkan Is Running Out of Time to Speak
Slip Lanes Would Never Exist if We Prioritized Safety Over Speed (keep in mind, most D.C. traffic circles are nothing more than slip lanes)
Conquistadors tumble as indigenous Chileans tear down statues
Turns Out Blogging Is Hard
Why America isn’t equipped for the new rules of war
The Vigilante President
Democratic presidential hopefuls take aim at housing reform. What does that mean for our region?
How Mike Pence’s Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Groups (this has been going on since the early 2000s with the faith-based initiatives)
Warren’s Medicare for All Plan Jumpstarts a Stalled Debated, Finds a Way to Circumvent the Power of Employers

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