July 25, 2017

How the left can win in the South

Real pay for CEOs rose 937% since 1978, real worker wages up 11%

Popular Resistance - A new report, published by the Economic Policy Institute, shows that while wages for American workers have essentially remained stagnant for decades, CEO pay has soared at an “outrageous” clip.

A study by the Pew Research Center in 2014 found that economic analyses show a “lack of meaningful wage growth.” Looking at five decades worth of government wage data, PRC showed that wages have been flat or even falling since the 1970s, regardless of changes in the economy and job markets.

As PRC states:

“After adjusting for inflation, today’s average hourly wage has just about the same purchasing power as it did in 1979, following a long slide in the 1980s and early 1990s and bumpy, inconsistent growth since then. In fact, in real terms the average wage peaked more than 40 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 has the same purchasing power as $22.41 would today.”

Now EPI’s Lawrence Mishel and Jessica Schieder have found that between the years of 1978 and 2016, CEO pay rose 937 percent. Over that same period, worker compensation grew by a measly 11.2 percent.

The CEOs of America’s largest firms made an average of $15.6 million, 271 times the annual average pay of a typical American worker.

According to the report, “The average CEO in a large firm now earns 5.33 times the annual earnings of the average very-high-wage earner (earner in the top 0.1 percent).”

Trump plans to dumb down geological information



Inside Climate News - A U.S. Geological Survey program coordinator has sent an alert to colleagues around the world, warning that the Trump administration's proposed 2018 budget cuts, if approved, will undermine important data-gathering programs and cooperative studies in areas including forests, volcanoes, flooding, wildfires, extreme precipitation and climate change.

The email went to 500 researchers on June 19 to give them time to comment on the proposed changes and prepare. In it, Debra Willard, coordinator for the USGS Climate Research and Development Program, wrote that the cuts "would reduce or eliminate the availability of current data and collaborations between the USGS, other agencies and universities."

The reductions threaten as many as 40 programs involved in monitoring the speed and severity of climate change impacts and the effects of other land use changes, Willard said.

The town that is rebuilding iutself with cooperatives

Does it pay to interrupt someone

improbable Research - What might you gain (or lose) by interrupting someone? The question has been experimentally examined by Professor Sally Dew Farley, of the Psychology department at the University of Baltimore, US. Experimental subjects who had been asked to discuss an article were systematically interrupted by confederates – revealing the following :

• The Upside for the Interrupters : “Interrupters gained in status and targets of interruption lost status.”
• The Downside for the Interrupters : “As expected, interrupters, especially female interrupters, were liked less than those who did not interrupt.”

Source: ‘Attaining Status at the Expense of Likeability: Pilfering Power Through Conversational Interruption.’ in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, Volume 32, Number 4, 241-260
Further resources: 

July 24, 2017

Massachusetts high court rules against holding uncharged immigrants for ICE

NPR - The highest court in Massachusetts ruled that local law enforcement cannot keep people in custody solely at the request of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The practice, often known as an "ICE detainer," enabled federal authorities to take a longer look at the immigration status of people whom they suspect might be in the country illegally, even if they were otherwise free to leave.

"This could mean the individual's charges have been dismissed, they've posted bail or their jail sentence has been completed," Shannon Dooling of member station WBUR explains. "The detainer — which is not the same as an arrest warrant, which requires proof of probable cause and a judge's signature — gives ICE up to two days to look into a person's immigration status and potentially pursue deportation."

But the state's laws provide "no authority for Massachusetts court officers to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a Federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from State custody," the Supreme Judicial Court said in its unanimous decision.

And because deportation is a civil process, "not a criminal prosecution," the court appeared skeptical that state police — not just court officers — could accede to an ICE detainer either: "Conspicuously absent from our common law is any authority (in the absence of a statute) for police officers to arrest generally for civil matters, let alone authority to arrest specifically for Federal civil immigration matters."

Rome faces water rationing

Guardian - Scarce rain and chronically leaky aqueducts have combined to put Romans at risk of drastic water rationing as soon as this week.

Sky TG24 TV meteorologists noted on Sunday that Italy had experienced one of its driest springs in some 60 years and that some parts of the country had seen rainfall totals 80% below normal. Among the hardest-hit regions was Sardinia, which is seeking natural disaster status.

Word

sick transit, gloria‏  Didn't think it was possible for a human being to look like a reverse subprime mortgage until Anthony Scaramucci became a public figure

Police take more stuff from citizens than burglars do

Washington Post - In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. Martin Armstrong pointed this out at his blog, Armstrong Economics, last week.

Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.

Maine forms socialist party

Press Herald Socialist Party of Maine held its founding convention at the Viles Arboretum, during which they unified the Socialist Party of Eastern Maine and the Socialist Party of Southern Maine into a statewide party and started to map out strategies for running for office.

“Because we believe in democratic socialism, we take both the democratic and the socialism very seriously,” said Tom MacMillan, one of the organizers of Sunday’s event. Democratic socialism means putting people in communities in control of their lives, he said.

“In their workplaces that means promoting worker-owned cooperatives. That’s a good example. Democracy at work, democracy at the ballot box and democracy in society. We think that regular people can control their lives better than their bosses can or by the owners of big companies. If factories are owned by their workers, they are not going to be sending jobs overseas, because that’s their jobs. They (are) not going to be displacing themselves.”

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How Trumnp is already damaging healthcare

Promises Trump hasn't kept

July 23, 2017

What Scaramucci use to say about Trump

Jazz break

Latino unemployment at lowest level since 1970s

National Institute for Latino Policy - The unemployment rate for Hispanic or Latino workers fell to 4.8 percent last month, the lowest level since 1970s. Meanwhile, the rate for black Americans was 7.1 percent, the second-lowest monthly rate, according to the latest Labor Department numbers reported on in The Wall Street Journal. However, both June lows are higher than the 3.8 percent rate for whites and the 4.4 percent overall rate, the Journal reported.

The gains among the two groups have come while the labor-force participation rate for each group also rose modestly, the Journal reported, suggesting the fall in unemployment coincides with new entrants to the labor market finding jobs and not people exiting the workforce.

Black links

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Ethnic relations: Beyond law and virture
Film and facts: The Selma controversy
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Heatwaves will affect many airflights



Inside Climate News -A study published Thursday in the journal Climatic Change looked at 19 airports around the world and found that rising temperatures will make it harder for airplanes to take off. During especially hot periods, airplanes will likely have to reduce the amount of weight they can carry in order to get airborne. 

"Heat waves are going to become much more frequent and intense in the future," said Radley Horton, a climatologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and co-author of the report. "We're already seeing planes unable to take off at full weight."

The situation will get especially troublesome at certain airports, including New York's LaGuardia and Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National, which have shorter runways, and the Dubai International Airport, where temperatures regularly hover above 110 degrees.

More on pardon powers

Experts raise okay blood pressure level for elders

Washington Post - If you’re unsure what your blood pressure levels should be, new advice from the American College of Physicians (and the American Academy of Family Physicians may help...If you are 60 or older and have no other cardiovascular risk factors (diabetes, high cholesterol, a smoking habit), these guidelines recommend maintaining a systolic reading below 150 mm/Hg.

Clinton investigation found that presidents could be indicted

A few reasons for banning Justin Bieber

China banned Justin Bieber for "bad behavior." Salon provides a useful list of some examples

July 22, 2017

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How to keep people going to museums
 
HUMANITIES
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A historian's view of Trump trying to pardon himself

Clark Mindock, Independent, UK - “If Donald Trump thinks that he can easily pardon himself and pardon his aides, pardon his children and limit the [Robert] Mueller investigation, perhaps fire Mueller and or [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions and [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein,” Michael Beschloss, an American historian who specialises in the presidency, said in an appearance on MSNBC, “we are on our way if that happens to see a constitutional crisis that would make Watergate look like a minor event in comparison.”

Mr Beschloss said that, if Mr Trump is truly considering pardoning himself, his family, and his administration officials, then it illustrates a big difference between him and Nixon. The former president, at the height of the Watergate scandal, refused to consider similar pardons, he said, and said at the time that those actions would be “dishonorable”.

It isn’t clear if the President has the ability to pardon himself, and leading constitutional scholars have argued that he definitely doesn’t have that particular power. The constitution gives the President sole power to grant pardons and commutations against federal crimes

What Scaramucci said about Trump in the past

Salon - Incoming White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci has a few skeletons in his closet that he’d like to get rid of. And those skeletons all revolve around things he’s said against President Donald Trump — his new boss.

In a 2015 appearance on Fox Business Network, Scaramucci slammed “anti-American” Trump for being “another hack” who will “probably make Elizabeth Warren as his vice presidential nominee.” But the man known as The Mooch didn’t stop there:
I’ll tell you who he’s going to be president of — and you can tell Donald I said this: The Queens County bullies’ association. You gotta cut it out now and stop all this crazy rhetoric, spinning everybody’s head.
I don’t like the way he talks about women. I don’t like the way he talks about our friend Megyn Kelly. And you know what? The politicians don’t want to go at Trump because he’s got a big mouth and he’s afraid he’s going to light ’em up on Fox and other places, but I’m not a politician. Bring it.
You’re an inherited-money dude from Queens County. Bring it, Donald. Bring it.
Fox Video

Washington Post blows Sessions' cover on Russian meeting

Washington Post - The Washington Post is reporting that Russia's ambassador has said he and Sessions discussed the 2016 campaign during two meetings last year. That is contrary to multiple public comments made by Sessions in March, when he recused himself from oversight of the Russia investigation.

Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller report that Ambassador Sergey Kislyak's accounts of those meetings were intercepted by U.S. intelligence and that in them he suggested that the two men spoke substantively about campaign issues. Yet Sessions said March 1 that he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign,” and the following day, while announcing his recusal, he said it again: “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.”

New Jersey engages in age discrimination

New Jersey has raised the smoking age to 21. Yet, 18 year olds are considered citizens of the state and may vote. Thus the decision on smoking amounts to age discrimination and it's time for the young to fight it.

Kushner forgot to mention $10 million in assets

Washington Times - President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner “inadvertently omitted” more than 70 assets worth at least $10.6 million from his personal financial disclosure reports, according to revised paperwork released Friday.

The previously unreported assets were included in updated disclosure reports certified by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics on Thursday as part of the “ordinary review process,” according to Kushner’s filing .

Senate Judiciary Committee caves to Trump Jr and Manafort

NBC  News - President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and former campaign manager Paul Manafort have agreed to be interviewed by staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee but will not appear at a public hearing next week, the committee said Friday.

The Judiciary Committee had requested that both appear at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, and threatened to issue subpoenas if they refused.

On Friday the Judiciary Committee said "Both Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort, through their attorneys, have agreed to negotiate to provide the committee with documents and be interviewed by committee members and staff prior to a public hearing."

"Therefore, we will not issue subpoenas for them tonight requiring their presence at Wednesday’s hearing but reserve the right to do so in the future," the committee said.

Daily Show tribute to Sean Spicer

Minnesota invades renters' constitutional rights

institute for Justice - In a blow to the constitutional rights of Minnesotan renters, the state Supreme Court ruled today that cities do not need to provide evidence of a suspected housing code violation in order to obtain an administrative search warrant to inspect renters’ homes without their permission. Today’s decision denies Minnesota’s renters—and the landlords who want to support them— protection from unconstitutional searches of their homes.

July 21, 2017

How i helped start a Harvard riot in the 1950s

From our overstocked archives



Sam Smith - On a May late 1950s morning, the Harvard Crimson came out with a story that Cambridge city councilor Alfred E.Vellucci had announced plans to introduce an order asking the city manager to "confiscate" all of the university's lands because of the Harvard administration's "lack of cooperation" in solving the city's parking problems. Vellucci was quoted as saying that "I am going to fine every Harvard student who parks his car on the public street at night unless the university makes all its property available for public parking." Down at the college radio station, where I was news director, I assigned one of our reporters the job of calling Councilor Vellucci. He got an earful:

The citizens and taxpayers are sick and tired of supporting Harvard. The time has arrived when Cambridge should break away and let the state and federal government support the school. Our taxpayers are not able to do the job alone ... Our police department has to rush to the university every time the students start one of their foolish riots ... The fire department has to go in there on school fires. We have to put police officers on extra duty to handle the traffic situation after one of the football games ... Let the university become a state of its own like the Vatican in Rome and pay for its own fire and police departments.

Vellucci added: "John Lund, commander of the local Sullivan Post, American Legion, has told me every veterans organization in the city will support my bill." He went on like that for twenty minutes. We ran excerpts on the 11 p.m. news and student listeners began calling the station demanding to hear the full interview. It was not just the words; the Vellucci voice lent impetus to the message. It was the precise antithesis of a well-cultivated Harvard accent and even at its most irate had a buoyant quality tinged with the faintest hint of satire that in those amusement and issue-starved years of the fifties, tickled the student ear. These were not times when you worried about the impact of the media on events; there were no seminars on TV and violence, no breast-beating over whether the press covered a hostage situation correctly. There was, however, a lot of boredom and whatever else he might be, Al Vellucci was certainly not boring. I ran the whole interview at midnight and calls from those who tuned in during the middle of it were so numerous that I ran it again at one a.m. The next morning, the story was page one in the Boston Globe -- culled from the WHRB interview -- with a two column headline:

COUNCILOR ASKS SETUP LIKE VATICAN
DEMANDS HARVARD SECEDE FROM CITY

The Cambridge citizenry kept calm but not the students. It began, as those things often did, with a peculiarly unrelated and insignificant act the very next night. During a drunken argument in the offices of the college humor magazine over the relative merits of prose and poetry, someone (by some accounts Neil Sheehan, later a famed NY Times correspondent) threw a typewriter out of a window. The riot was on. Two thousand men of Harvard gathered shouting alternatively, "Hang Vellucci," "Vellucci for Pope," and "We want Monaco." Beer cans and water-filled bags were tossed about. Eddie Sullivan, the mayor of the city, showed up in his radio and siren-equipped Chrysler Imperial and attempted to quell the disturbance. He failed to get the attention of the crowd, part of which was busy letting the air out of all four of his tires. From one of the dormitories blared a recording of Tchaikowsky's 1812 Overture. The cops sent reinforcements to Al's home but no one strayed from the campus.

The riot ended once half the students had marched into Harvard Yard, its gates were closed and the ones not trapped inside counted their losses and retired to their rooms or to Cronin's bar.

With what the city would come to realize was his normal tactical brilliance, Al Vellucci had succeeded in turning Harvard against itself. A few students were arrested, a few faced disciplinary action and by one a.m. it was over. Those of us in the WHRB news department went to sleep content in the knowledge that in twenty-four hours we had created a celebrity and a riot. Not a bad day's work for a few student journalists.

For the rest of my time at Harvard, Crimson reporter Blaise Pastore and I faithfully covered city council meetings, relaying every juicy quote and snipe at Harvard that Vellucci and his cohorts provided. Our mentors at the press table were a trio of sardonic and knowledgeable Irishmen from Boston's dailies, who loved delivering their sotto voce lectures to a couple of Harvard students as much as we enjoyed hearing them. The councilors were solicitous, especially Al, who recognized our symbiotic relationship. Harvard educated lawyer Joseph Deguglielmo, eschewing bifocals for two pairs of glasses stacked on his nose and forehead in the order required at any particular moment, explained the workings of a city government with great patience, once commenting that he was uncertain how to vote on a police pay increase because he had to keep in mind that each cop was probably receiving, in goods and cash, several thousand dollars more a year than his official salary. It was literally the end of an era. While I was covering the council, James Michael Curley, the former mayor of adjoining Boston, passed away. I had heard the last hurrah.

Mayor Sullivan bore no gudges towards me for his flat tires and was always willing to talk politics whenever I ran into him. One evening:

I met Eddie Sullivan after coming out of the movies. He was seated in his pale colored Chrysler Imperial listening to calls for the police radio. He waved to me and asked me to join him for a cup of coffee. Over the radio came a report: 'This lady sez some man exposed himself to her as she was walking home. 6 foot 2 inches, chino trousers [even the criminals wore them then], black hair.' . . 'Eddie talked of his recent nomination for Clerk of the County Court (margin 11,000), urban renewal and the good meal he had at the Lido. . . 

The Cambridge City Council was a real Massachusetts legislature, the sort of place where an Irish labor leader during a dispute over a contract could turn to councilor Hyman Pill and plead, "Look, we're all Christian gentlemen here." And Hyman just rocked back in his chair and smiled. It accepted the view that politics was not religion -- neither salvation nor perfection was the goal. It was democracy -- making the best of a confused and difficult situation. The members of the city council were ashamed of neither their beliefs nor of their compromises with them. The Cambridge city council was the best course I took at Harvard. I not only learned about city government but learned that it had a quality that would be unmatched by anything found later covering the White House or Congress.
 

45 senators choose Israel over Constitution

Independent UK - A bill that would criminalize boycotts against Israel has been signed by 45 US senators and 237 congressman.

The so-called “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” would impose fines of up to $250,000 on any US citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israeli goods and services.

This position runs counter to that of the United Nations, which claims Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territory have “no legal validity”, and “constitute flagrant violation of international law”.

The American Civil Liberties Union (has argued that the bill would “impose civil and criminal punishment on individuals solely because of their political beliefs about Israel and its policies”, in a letter sent to members of the Senate.

“In short, the bill would punish businesses and individuals solely based on their point of view,” it wrote. “Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

FCC gets ten million comments on net neutrality

Trump won't even address the NAACP

Helping to secure his position as the most ethnic and gender prejudiced  president in over a half a century, Donald Trump has declined to speak before the NAACP. Even Ronald Reagan did.

Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr represented Russian spy agency for years

Reuters - The Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. after his father won the Republican nomination for the 2016 U.S. presidential election counted Russia's FSB security service among her clients for years, Russian court documents seen by Reuters show. The documents show that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, successfully represented the FSB's interests in a legal wrangle over ownership of an upscale property in northwest Moscow between 2005 and 2013.

Federal judge refuses to allow Trump; to penalize sanctuary cities

Trump plans to damage American healthcare even if Obamacare survives

Politico - If a last-ditch repeal effort fails in Congress next week, all indications are the Trump administration will continue chipping away at the Affordable Care Act — if not torching it outright.

President Donald Trump, who regularly says Obamacare is dead, has already taken steps to undermine the law even as the legislative battle over repeal drags on. His administration has slashed crucial advertising dollars, cut the enrollment window in half, and regularly pumps out anti-Obamacare videos and graphics — actions sure to reduce the number of people who sign up.

Trump has plenty of other options to roll back a program covering roughly 20 million Americans. Those include ending enforcement of the mandate to carry insurance, imposing work restrictions and nominal premiums on low-income adults who qualify for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and letting states relax the law’s robust coverage rules.

Trump regime slashes $210 million from teen pregnancy prevention programs

Trump's personal lawyer takes lesser role

The Hill - President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, will no longer lead the legal team responding to the ongoing Russian investigations and has taken a reduced role, according to reports.

Ty Cobb will now take the lead in managing the team’s response to the ongoing federal probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Kasowitz, who has worked with Trump since the early 2000s, had represented the president in the Trump University fraud case.

Could Trump pardon himself?

Sam Smith - The Washington Post has an interesting article on who Trump can pardon. The mere existence of this article points out something that isn't getting enough attention, namely that while Trump has not been charged with criminal activity, no president has raised so many legal and ethical questions about his activities. The typical honest person, for example, would not be so vigorously attacking those who are, in full respect for the law, investigating what he has been up to. If he has nothing to be ashamed of, he has nothing to worry about.

One of the points that the Post makes is that while whether the President can pardon himself is debatable, his pardon powers are limited to federal offenses: "If Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner were charged with sticking up a bodega in Queens, Trump couldn’t do much about it."

We have noted the likelihood that the Trump scandals would turn away from Washington and Russia towards matters occurring in New York. If, for example, Robert Mueller finds some state or city based crime and hands the case over to the NY Attorney General, the pardon powers become futile.