Thursday, June 22, 2017

BBC -- Phoenix flights cancelled because it's too hot for planes

“The weather forecast for the US city suggests temperatures could reach 120F (49C) on Tuesday.

“That is higher than the operating temperature of some planes.

“American Airlines announced it was cancelling dozens of flights scheduled to take off from Sky Harbor airport during the hottest part of the day.”

Senator Bernie Sanders writes:

In Phoenix, Arizona, yesterday, more than 40 flights have been cancelled — because it is too hot for the planes to fly. That is insane. But that is the reality of what we are seeing with our climate now. Of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have occurred in the 21st century. Climate change is real and is caused by human activity. This planet and its people are in trouble. Unless we get our act together, we will see in years to come more record temperatures, more droughts, more floods and more extreme weather disturbances. If we do nothing to address climate change, the planet will heat up five to ten degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. This isn’t just a problem for the future – the impacts of climate change are apparent here and now.

Phoenix flights cancelled because it's too hot for planes

Robert Reich: The Real Reason Republicans want to Pull the Plug on Obamacare (VIDEO)

“A draft copy of the secret Republican Senate bill that would overhaul Obamacare is expected to be released online at 11 a.m. ET Thursday, less than two hours after many GOP senators get to see if for the first time.

“Even some of the senators who were reportedly part of a group tasked with writing it, including Mike Lee of Utah, had not seen its details.”

GOP health bill due for Thursday morning release; here's a sneak peek By Dan Mangan

Robert Reich in this video presents the real reason why they keep pushing for repeal.

NPR -- U.S. Elections Systems Vulnerable, Lawmakers Told In Dueling Hearings

“If two nearly simultaneous hearings Wednesday by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election revealed anything, it's that U.S. officials saw what was going on but were all but powerless to stop it.”

Robert Reich points out some highlights:

1. Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the House Intelligence Committee: "In 2016 the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple. Now, the key question for the President and Congress is: What are we going to do to protect the American people and their democracy from this kind of thing in the future?"

2. Witnesses before the Senate Intelligence Committee, from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, told lawmakers they expect the Russian cyber-threat against the U.S. to evolve into a larger threat in future elections. "I believe the Russians absolutely will continue to try to conduct influence operations in the U.S., which will include cyber operations," said Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division.

3. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who has inspected state elections systems, said “our highly computerized election infrastructure is vulnerable to sabotage, and even to cyberattacks that could change votes," and warned "these realities risk making our election results more difficult for the American people to trust. I know America's voting machines are vulnerable because my colleagues and I have hacked them."

4. Halderman and other experts urged states to replace "obsolete" paperless machines with optical-scan machines that count paper ballots; audit election results by examining paper ballots to "provide high assurance" that the election results are correct; and apply tougher cybersecurity safeguards to voting equipment and elections management.

But what are Trump and the White House doing about all this? Either ignoring Russia’s cyber-attack, denying it, or seeming to cover it up.

The president has a sworn duty to protect the United States and the Constitution. We have been attacked, folks. Trump is failing in his most fundamental responsibility.

Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary 
Jeh Johnson arrives to testify before the House Intelligence
Committee on Wednesday.

U.S. Elections Systems Vulnerable, Lawmakers Told In Dueling Hearings

By Brian Naylor

Bernie Sanders: Mr. President, I have some bad news for you (VIDEO)

Details of the Senate’s “draft” health care bill, which Republicans were set to unveil Thursday after weeks of secretive negotiations, have finally leaked—and from the sound of things, Mitch McConnell and his cohorts have written a morally appalling piece of legislation that many conservatives will nonetheless find deeply underwhelming. -- Slate

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

Mr. President, I have some bad news for you. This pathetic health care bill is not getting through the Senate. We will throw this in the garbage and start from zero.

Top comments:

Kathleen Decker I hope so but I have lost all faith in our country. This is not my country, not where I grew up. I don't recognize it. And public servants....politicians....are not serving us any more. This administration is abhorent.
8 hrs

Michael Rabbe Stop wasting time and just have “Medicare for All.” Everything else is just a colossal waste of time and taxpayers' money. But, of course, the Idiot-in-Chief would veto it, so we're still screwed.
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8 hrs

Robyn Annala Why aren't we just asking Canada, for example, how THEY are making a universal healthcare system work? Why do we think we have to reinvent the wheel, when so many countries are already making this work?
8 hrs

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Hill -- GOP hits the gas on ObamaCare repeal

Mitch McConnell has promised Senate Republicans they’ll receive draft legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act Thursday, with a floor vote next week.

McConnell will first bring to the floor the House-passed American Health Care Act (which the Congressional Budget Office has found would eliminate health care for 23 million Americans), and then offer the Senate version as an amendment. The CBO will by then have estimated how many millions of people will lose coverage under the Senate version.

McConnell wants to move fast – getting a majority vote before the public has had a chance to learn what’s in the Senate version. It’s his only hope for passage.

Shame on him. Shame on anyone who wants to take health care away from the poor and sick, in order to give a tax cut to the rich.


John OReilly Republicans are doing exactly what they are paid to do, by their donors. Give them huge tax breaks at the expense of the middle class and poor. McConnell was calling them the "job creators" for years when in fact they don't create anything but more wealth for themselves by owning the Republican Congress. The Republican actions takes huge balls because their health care bill is nothing more than a tax cut for the top 1%. Actual health care means nothing to Republicans, they have great government health care which we pay for. Once again Trump has lied and failed to deliver on his promise of "great health care" for all. Total disgrace.

Mitch Saifert I'm a Canadian so maybe I don't understand completely..... everything the GOP and Trump has done this far is to a) reverse as anything Obama did.... because it was Obama.....and b) ensure the rich and Trump business are well taken care of.....yet every special election a Republicans win... This healthcare business cannot be legal? I'll stay on my side of the border thank you

By Alexander Bolton

Senator Bernie Sanders message to Republican Senators regarding their healthcare plan (VIDEO)

Before they think about cutting Medicaid by $800 billion behind closed doors, I want my Republican colleagues to listen to the stories of people like Ms. Weintraub, who relies on Medicaid to live an independent life. How do Republicans morally justify cutting her services while giving massive tax breaks to their wealthy donor friends?

Sen. Sanders On GOP Efforts To Replace Obamacare

A favored comment to Bernie's Facebook post:

David Mook Vincent from Canada: ”Healthcare is about caring for your community. It's about having a neighbor who can't pay their little daughter's cancer treatment bills and everyone in the community saying "hey man, guess what? We all came together and pitched in a few dollars each for your daughter. The rich paid more, the poor paid little (if any) and you just have to pitch in your part and the rest is all paid. Your daughter is safe now." it's about being a community and know that it would do the same for you. Anyone opposing health insurance, in my opinion, is either brainwashed by corrupt media or selfish. And actually it costs less when there is only one governmental healthcare instead of all the private ones, so these people can't even be considered selfish........ Just mislead."
According to my nephew, an Aetna Healthcare executive, the only thing blocking Universal Healthcare (like the all the rest of the developed world has) are the huge insurance company profits. Example: The CEO of my prescription insurance company raked in $66 million last year. $66 million - one man - one year. Healthcare is a right, multi-million dollar bonuses are not. 

Universal Healthcare is the only real solution to our healthcare crisis. A 2.2% payroll tax plus a small transaction fee on speculative Wall Street transactions could cover everyone, lower drug costs, lower total medical costs, and save most families thousands! All of your premiums, deductibles, co-pays go away!! Universal healthcare may not be free, but it is freeing: you are free to change jobs without the worry of losing healthcare, a parent is free to stay home a few years and raise children, free to go back to college, free to make life choices without sacrificing healthcare. Time to put real people and their needs before corporations and their profits. The rest of the developed world does it and the richest country in the world can too.

New Yorker -- Behind the Democrats’ Emoluments Lawsuit Against Trump

The Constitutions emolument clause states that “No Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

“The Emoluments Clause has apparently never been litigated, but it has been interpreted and enforced through a long series of opinions of the Attorneys General and by less-frequent opinions of the Comptrollers General. Congress has also exercised its power of "Consent" under the clause by enacting the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, which authorizes federal employees to accept foreign governmental benefits of various kinds in specific circumstances.”

President Donald Trump has declined to cut ties with his foreign business interests. “Foreign countries, which want to ingratiate themselves with the new President, have flocked to Trump’s businesses, especially to the Trump International Hotel, in Washington, D.C., creating a modern version of the problem that the Framers tried to address.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal has “joined forces with the Constitutional Accountability Center and became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the President, last week, for violating the emoluments clause. Thirty other Senators and more than a hundred members of the House of Representatives, all Democrats, have joined as co-plaintiffs.”

The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin provides insight:

Senator Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, 
has become the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the President.
Photograph by Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call 
/ Getty

Behind the Democrats’ Emoluments Lawsuit Against Trump

By Jeffrey Toobin

Vanity Fair -- Sean Spicer’S Tortured Relationship With Trump Hits A New Low

Press Secretary Sean Spicer has taken the brunt of Trump’s frustrations. Supposedly, the President “watches his daily briefings like SportsCenter, barking critiques of Spicer’s performances at his television.”

Monday’s Press briefing was held off-camera, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s insulting reason: “Sean got fatter.”

“ . . . White House press secretary, Sean Spicer’s job is to effectively communicate with the White House press corp, a responsibility that might come as a surprise to anyone who has heard him speak. Among Spicer’s greatest hits since landing the West Wing gig are the time he said that ‘even Hitler’ wasn’t as bad as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, because he ‘didn’t sink to using chemical weapons,’ a gaffe Spicer topped off by referring to concentrations camps as ‘Holocaust centers’; the briefing in which he claimed that Mike Flynn was merely a ‘volunteer’ for the Trump campaign and that the hugely powerful Paul Manafort had served a limited role; and the time he hid ‘among’ some bushes before coming out to begrudgingly answer some questions about the abrupt firing of F.B.I. Director James Comey.

“To be fair, not all of Spicer’s worst moments have been his fault; some of them could be blamed on the fact that he works for a guy with the attention span of a gnat on speed, who cares more about looking all-powerful than embarrassing his communications team. It’s hard, after all, to stick to one’s talking points when serving a president who doesn’t hesitate to admit, on national television, that he fired the director of the F.B.I. because he was investigating ‘this Russia thing.’ “

Vanity Fair's Bess Levin concludes that. . .

“White House staffers are apparently wise to the difficulties of appeasing a notoriously fickle president, who has repeatedly claimed he is his own best spokesperson. The Washington Post reports that the aides have “considered deploying a rotating cast of briefers, in part to prevent the president, who has a short attention span, from growing bored or angry with his press secretary.” Distracting the president’s febrile mind, it seems, is a very real concern inside his West Wing. As Politico notes, Spicer and Sanders have “increasingly [been] conducting gaggles with reporters that include no cameras and no audio.” Perhaps that’s less about evading the American people than it is trying to stay out of Donald Trump’s cross-hairs.”

Sean Spicer’S Tortured Relationship With Trump Hits A New Low
The debasement of the press secretary will continue until Trump’s morale improves.

By Bess Levin

Vox -- The real reason Republicans can’t answer simple questions about their health care bill

Does everyone realize what's happening here? Please understand that healthcare, the ability to afford medicines that will keep many alive, or not, is being decided in secret. No hearings, no press conferences, no debate. It is beyond stunning. Remember the death panels? Ironic isn't it that GOP Senator McConnell and his staff, who are drafting the plan behind closed doors, have become the judge and jury over who lives. The Republicans hope they can sneak this through in the dark of night. They really hope you aren't watching. They suspect you don't care.-- News And Guts

Senator John Mccain says no one has seen the Republican healthcare bill, but I’m sure Russia has.

Photo by Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

The real reason Republicans can’t answer simple questions about their health care bill
They know you won't like the answers.

By Ezra Klein

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vox -- Persuasive proof that America is full of racist and selfish people

This is what millions of Google searches reveal about America’s racial attitudes. Although most of us didn’t need research to tell us what we already knew.

“Google is a digital truth serum,” Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies, told me in a recent interview. ‘People tell Google things that they don't tell to possibly anybody else, things they might not tell to family members, friends, anonymous surveys, or doctors.’

“Stephens-Davidowitz was working on a Ph.D. in economics at Harvard when he became obsessed with Google Trends, a tool that tracks how frequently searches are made in a given area over a given time period.

“He spent five years combing through this data. The idea was that you could get far better real-time information about what people are thinking by looking at Google Trends data than you could through polls or some other survey device.

“It turns out he was right.

"As a barometer of our national consciousness, Google is as accurate (and predictive) as it gets. In 2016, when the Republican primaries were just beginning, most pundits and pollsters did not believe Trump could win. After all, he had insulted veterans, women, minorities, and countless other constituencies.

"But Stephens-Davidowitz saw clues in his Google research that suggested Trump was far more serious than many supposed. Searches containing racist epithets and jokes were spiking across the country during Trump’s primary run, and not merely in the South but in upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, rural Illinois, West Virginia, and industrial Michigan.

"Stephens-Davidowitz saw in the Google Trends data a racially polarized electorate, and one primed to respond to the ethno-nationalist rhetoric of Trump.

"There were earlier signs, too. On Obama’s 2008 election night, Stephens-Davidowitz found that 'one in every hundred Google searches that included the word ‘Obama’ also included ‘KKK’' or the n-word. Searches for racist websites like Stormfront also spiked.

“There was a darkness and hatred that was hidden from traditional sources,' Stephens-Davidowitz says. 'Those searches are hard to reconcile with a society in which racism is a small factor.' "

Persuasive proof that America is full of racist and selfish people
What millions of Google searches reveal about our national psyche.

By Sean Illing

Robert Reich - The Case for Obstruction of Justice (VIDEO)

Robert Reich's new video:

Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense. It was at the heart of Richard Nixon’s impeachment. The parallel between Nixon and Trump is almost exact. There's already more than enough evidence of probable cause to begin an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump. Our latest video explains.

Some top comments:

Dan Mccurdy It will never happen unless we win back the House. ...Which is entirely possible IF people get out and vote!

Impeachment proceedings start in the House. Clinton was impeached in the House because it was controlled by Republicans. He was not impeached 
in the Senate (which was controlled by Democrats). So he kept his job. 

Now, the Republicans hold the House so they're not going to start impeachment proceedings against their own party. 

Democrats must win back the House to get this nightmare out of office. Watch Georgia today and see if we win there. It's usually an uncontested seat because the Republicans have had a strong hold. But because of the Donald, it's a very tight race!

Hopefully Robert Reich will write a post explaining the process. Understanding that the proceedings are politically divided and start in the majority controlled House might actually get more people out to vote!

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1 hrEdited
Ziggy Nixon If there is even a shred of justice or decency left in our country, then we must see this to the end which will only be truly served with impeachment of 45, Pence and the jailing of any and all who's crimes go beyond just obstruction! Even though his legacy is already set - he will never escape his image as the dumbest CE nor the taint of his Russian owners - we must end this scourge!

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1 hr
Richard Chapkis Trump admitted that he fired Comey to stymie the Russian investigation. That is obstruction of justice. Trump should be impeached for obstruction (among other offenses, such as his violations of the Emoluments Clause and his failure to faithfully execute his oath of office).

Truthout -- I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn't Pay My Way Out

With President Donald Trump in the White House and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the helm of the Justice Department, the exploitative bail industry is in a good position to profit even more off of Americans who can’t afford legal representation. So the stories of the Justice Department and the bail industry’s exploitation are important and timely.

Lawmakers across the United Stares are finding ways to turn protesting into a crime, the Trump Administration’s rescindment of Obama order ending use of private prisons, and Jeff Sessions’ plans for the Civil-Rights Division should be of great concern.

“On any given day, more than 7,000 people are incarcerated at Chicago's Cook County Jail. Stretching over 11 city blocks, Cook County Jail is the largest single-site jail in the United States. Ninety-five percent of the people locked up in Cook County Jail have not been convicted of a crime. They are incarcerated pretrial -- and 62 percent of them are there only because they cannot afford to pay a monetary bond.

“In Cook County, bond court hearings last a mere 37 seconds on average. In that time, a judge makes bail decisions that reshape the entire course of people's cases, and often, their lives. For many people, the judge's decision includes setting a money bond they must pay before they can be released from jail. The amount of that bond -- and whether their family or friends can pay it -- then determines whether they await their trial in freedom or in a cage.

“Felony cases in Cook County commonly take more than a year to resolve, and some take several years. Right now, more than 4,000 people are being incarcerated in Cook County because they cannot pay bonds that were set using less than a minute's worth of information.”

I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn't Pay My Way Out

By Lavette Mayes and Matthew McLoughlin

Huffington Post -- The Not-So-Secret Truth About the Senate GOP’s Secret Health Care Bill

The Huffington Post’s Jeffrey Young writes:

Senate Republicans are hurling themselves toward passing an incredibly unpopular set of health care reforms that even they don’t understand, haven’t seen and likely won’t see until just before it hits the floor.

This rightly has raised the hackles not only of Senate Democrats and the media, but anyone who values transparency in government or is anxious about the consequences of reordering the American health care system and taking away health coverage from millions of people.

But as important as the legislation’s details will turn out to be, there’s a simple, fundamental, incontrovertible fact about whatever the Senate health care reform bill winds up looking like: The purpose of this bill is to dramatically scale back the safety net so wealthy people and health care companies can get a massive tax cut.

It’s the biggest open secret about the secret Senate health care bill.

"What’s shocking is not that the Senate is attempting to pass this bill under a shroud of secrecy; it’s that the strategy is working. With few exceptions, mainstream media outlets have either ignored the Senate health care discussions or downplayed their urgency." -- Jeremy Slevin, Center for American Progress

The Not-So-Secret Truth About the Senate GOP’s Secret Health Care Bill
The details matter. But at its core, it’s still a massive tax cut paid for by depriving millions of health care.

By Jeffrey Young

Monday, June 19, 2017

CNBC -- Energy Secretary Rick Perry says CO2 is not the main driver of climate change

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told CNBC on Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are the main driver of climate change, joining the EPA administrator in casting doubt on the conclusion of some of the government's top scientists.

Years of Living Dangerously:

When asked whether he believed CO2 was the primary cause of climate change, Energy Secretary Rick Perry responded with a resounding NO. We've broken down his statement with a few corrections.

PERRY: "No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in."

RESPONSE: This answer is not only wrong, it is nonsensical. Warming ocean waters are an example of climate change, not a cause. The term "this environment that we live in" is so vague as to be meaningless, unless you are referring to the current political environment, in which case, spot on. 👏

PERRY: "The fact is this shouldn't be a debate about, 'Is the climate changing, is man having an effect on it?' Yeah, we are.

RESPONSE: This is completely right and contradicts what you said both before and afterward. This should have been your entire answer.

PERRY: The question should be just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to effect that?"

RESPONSE: How much? A lot. As for policy suggestions, a good place to start would be re-entering the Paris Agreement, not repealing the Clean Power Plan, and establishing a national price on carbon.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says CO2 is not the main driver of climate change

By Tom DiChristopher