Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 - American Les Misérables

The Trump administration wants to jail poor people because they cannot pay court fines or fees and/or suspend their driver’s licenses.

I am sad to say that Michigan is one of five states practicing this heinous injustice and would be at this very hour, save for a preliminary injunction blocking the state from suspending driver licenses. The injunction was issued by U.S. District Judge Linda Parker on 14 Dec 2017.

History does not favor jailing poor people because they cannot pay debts or unjust court fines. These are fees that by their very nature preclude one’s ability to pay. In fact, the French people fought a righteous and fearsome revolution over that issue and others, from the 1790s through 1850.

While historians agree that the June revolution of 1832 depicted in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables accomplished little, progressive reforms which were an outgrowth of the French Revolution as a whole did, living to this day as part of the foundation of modern France and Western Democracy.

Yet, today, in Michigan alone, more than 100,000 of our citizens are already condemned to a lifetime of underclass servitude because they are denied driver’s licenses. In Metro Detroit, where public transportation to jobs in distant suburbia is nonexistent, these people have no way to get to a workplace, in most cases located miles away, that could pay a decent wage.

“Since 2009, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and ACLU affiliates across the country have been exposing and challenging modern-day debtors' prisons, and urging governments and courts to pursue more rational and equitable approaches to criminal justice debt.”

The ACLU explains:

“State and local courts have increasingly attempted to supplement their funding by charging fees to people convicted of crimes, including fees for public defenders, prosecutors, court administration, jail operation, and probation supervision. And in the face of mounting budget deficits at the state and local level, courts across the country have used aggressive tactics to collect these unpaid fines and fees, including for traffic offenses and other low-level offenses. These courts have ordered the arrest and jailing of people who fall behind on their payments, without affording any hearings to determine an individual's ability to pay or offering alternatives to payment such as community service.”

No doubt, history will not be kind to Mr. Trump and his would-be slaver, Mr. Sessions. Not only for this despicable modern-slavery action, but also for much more, including as Lucian K. Truscott, IV enumerates, the Trumpian Republicans’ accomplishments:

“Suppress the votes of fellow citizens who are black, latino, and poor? Check. Keep them in poverty by refusing to raise the $7.25 minimum wage? Check. Allow owners of restaurants to collect tips and dole them out any goddamn way they want? Check. Take away the ability of teachers to deduct money they spend out of their own pocket to help educate their students? Check. Tax contract workers’ income at regular rates while taxing owners’ pass-through income at lower rates? Check. Lower corporate tax rates while raising workers’ taxes? Check. Repeal the Johnson Amendment so billionaires could make tax-deductible “donations” to churches which could turn around and spend the same money on political campaigns? Check. Make it harder for workers to file discrimination suits? Check. Make it easier for polluters to foul the air and water? Check. Appoint a Secretary of Education who wants to privatize public education? Check. Allow billionaires to deduct certain expenses for their Gulfstreams? Check. Leave in place laws that allow offshore trusts and other tax avoidance schemes used by millionaires and billionaires? Check. Prepare the upcoming 2020 Census so it will provide a population count ripe for corrupt gerrymandering? Check. Pass an insane law that will enable lunatics to carry concealed guns across state lines into places where concealed-carry is illegal? Check.”

The paramount question we face in 2018 is: Must Mr. Trump’s mental deficiencies; his psychopathy; his racism; his bigotry and his failures, plus those of his acolytes, whom he has empowered, condemn the rest of us to poverty and modern-day slavery in 2018?

I’m betting that sooner rather than later, world-wide, we will not be slaves again.

Les Misérables: Do you hear the people sing: Sung by 17 Valjeans from around the world

Do you hear the people sing?
 Singing a song of angry men?
 It is the music of a people
 Who will not be slaves again!
 When the beating of your heart
 Echoes the beating of the drums
 There is a life about to start
 When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
 Who will be strong and stand with me?
 Somewhere beyond the barricade
 Is there a world you long to see?

Then join in the fight
 That will give you the right to be free!!

Do you hear the people sing?
 Singing a song of angry men?
 It is the music of a people

Who will not be slaves again!
 When the beating of your heart
 Echoes the beating of the drums
 There is a life about to start
 When tomorrow comes!

Will you give all you can give
 So that our banner may advance
 Some will fall and some will live
 Will you stand up and take your chance?
 The blood of the martyrs
 Will water the meadows of France!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Goodbye 2017... Thank God.

Workflow, 29 Dec 2017
At the last moment of the old year, I decided to do something I really hate: post a recap of the year.

When I read Mike Luckovich’s recent editorial cartoon, I just couldn’t help myself. Twice-awarded the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, Luckovich's* works of art have best summed up the past year for me. Below are only a few of his outstanding observations…

Ebenezer Ryan, 21 Dec 2017
The Dark Side, 19 Dec 2017

Screwed, 18 Nov 2017

Pardon Me, 17 Nov 2017

* Mike Luckovich received the top honor of his profession when he won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize and 2006 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. The prize committee praised his work for its creativity and effectiveness.

His Pulitzers are only the latest in a long line of awards for the cartoonist, however. Luckovich was a runner-up for the award in 1987. In 1989, he won the Overseas Press Club's award for the "Best Cartoons on Foreign Affairs for 1989," and in 1991, he was awarded the National Headliners award for editorial cartoonists. In addition, Luckovick received the Ruben in both 2001 and 2006 and received the National Journalism award in 2008 for his editorial cartoons.

A Luckovich cartoon was selected by voters in a Newsweek magazine poll as one of the four best editorial cartoons of 1994.

After freelancing and selling life insurance to make ends meet following his graduation from the University of Washington in 1982, Luckovich landed his first cartooning job at the Greenville News in South Carolina. After nine months at the News, Luckovich was hired by The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, where he stayed for four years before moving on to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Luckovich's cartoons, syndicated nationally by Creators Syndicate, appear in more than 350 daily publications.

Friday, December 29, 2017

I've Got Your Back... Edward Snowden

Haven’t given it much thought myself, but it’s possible we all have something on our Android smartphones we really need to keep private.

Edward Snowden, former National Security Agency contractor, thinks we do.

"You need a new phone app called Haven", he says. Because, "We all have something to protect... get Haven... get control."

Now you have something to think about over the holiday…. Happy New Year!

Introducing Haven

Thursday, December 28, 2017

New World Comin'?

So, there's a new year comin' in a day or two.
Can we do better than last year?

Boy, I hope so. Don't you?
As for me, I'm lookin' for that new world.

Mama Cass Elliot - New World Coming 1970

Video above: Corruption is Legal in America

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

What The Angels Sang

The first and only test of an atomic cannon at the Nevada Test Site. What could go wrong?* (Reuters)
One day a long, long time ago, the angels sang about the birth of Christ, Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men.

Luke 2
13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Little did men know then and little do we know today the incalculable cost of war paid with the millions of lives lost, many, many more maimed in body and spirit and heartbreaking treasure squandered. 

There is no doubt that our lives would be different today if we could have somehow managed to honor what the angels sang that day; Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Celtic Women VEVO - 2013
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Live At The Helix In Dublin)

US nuclear tests killed far more civilians than we knew, Tim Fernholz,, 21 Dec 2017.

"When the US entered the nuclear age, it did so recklessly. New research suggests that the hidden cost of developing nuclear weapons were far larger than previous estimates, with radioactive fallout responsible for 340,000 to 690,000 American deaths from 1951 to 1973." more

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Playing the Fake News Card

Fake News/Real News: The game of Fake News and Alternative Facts, see below.

When you lie you’d better be a really good liar, especially if you’re a public figure such as an ambassador. Because, as every politician should know, past lies have a habit of popping up at inconvenient moments to reveal a pompous fool as his true self.

Today, someone, somewhere has your past statements on “the record” either in video or via an “open mike”. So, it behooves a liar to develop a super system to keep his lies for instant retrieval.

President Trump, an accomplished psychopath, is a “Teflon” liar. No lie, no matter how egregious, seems to “stick” to him. Even though he is called out every day on any number of falsehoods and misstatements he has become adept at deflecting truth finders with his array of grade school bullying tactics - outrageous claims, insinuations, browbeating, cowing, intimidation, racial slurs, demeaning personal attacks, threats and sexual innuendos.

 But when bullying tactics are not apropos for the challenge at hand, Mr. Trump favors playing the Fake News Card. He simply labels the inconvenient fact as “Fake News” and thus immediately dispenses with it.

The tactic has worked so well that Mr. Trump’s acolytes and political appointees have adopted it, as well. Take, for instance, former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). He’s representing us now as ambassador to the Netherlands. Ambassador Hoekstra tried to play the Fake News Card in an interview with Dutch TV, but the astute reporter, Wouter Zwart, was ready for him, immediately calling out Hoekstra on two lies within a few minutes by playing a video clips of Hoekstra saying exactly what he denied he said.

To his credit, Hoekstra later apologized for being outed for his misapplication of the Fake News Card

Mr. Trump has never apologized…. Well, he did one time, sort of. For years Mr. Trump claimed that former President Obama was not born in the U.S., then right before the election he admitted that his claim was false. But, in true Trumpian style, he’s recently gone back on that retraction, dredging up the false claim again.

The moral of this story might be: unless you’re Teflon Trump, be very careful when you play the Fake News Card.

By the way, playing Fake News has become so popular, there is even a card game called: Fake News/Real News: The game of Fake News and Alternative Facts.

More About Mr. Hoekstra
Rachel Maddow: 'Pete Hoekstra the Best the Republican Party Has to Offer on Intelligence


Seriously, is lying bad for us?
"Perhaps the most powerful moral argument for honesty has to do with what the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre called "bad faith." Liars deceive others, but in a sense, liars also deceive themselves. When we lie we tend to distort our own view of reality, and the more often we lie, the more habitual this distortion becomes. Over time, the habit of lying divorces us further and further from reality, so we see less and less clearly the choices before us and what is at stake in them. Eventually, we may find ourselves unable to see what we are really doing and how it is affecting others and ourselves. We end up leading inauthentic and irresponsible lives."

Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD, is a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He is a professor of radiology, pediatrics, medical education, philosophy, liberal arts, and philanthropy, and vice-chair of the Radiology Department, at Indiana University. Gunderman's most recent book is X-Ray Vision.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ready? Let's Think Outside of Ourselves

Please. For just a few minutes, join with me, putting aside our modern arrogance  and watch this video. A long, long time ago, some people knew a lot more than we know today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Need Some Relief, Too?

What can I say? I needed some relief from that "R" stuff goin' on in D.C. So, I went to my old faithful relief-givers, Berkeley Breathed and Opus. I recommend taking a few keystrokes detour and havin' a relief-given chuckle or two...

A Charlie Brown Christmas - Clip
(Pres. Trump has even brain washed Lucy! Good Grief!!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

We Take Care of Our Own... Well, Do We?

Throughout my career as a marketing and media relations consultant, I have had the good fortune to help many people achieve their dreams. All were smart and dedicated. None, to my knowledge, purposely tried to hurt or take advantage of anyone. They worked hard to bring new ideas, services and products to their customers. They hired many people and paid them fairly. Today, several rank among our nation’s millionaires.

I’m proud of my small role in helping them succeed because I know they deserve their successes.
Still, despite all their wealth, not one is a member of the .001%, the oligarchs now disassembling our nation, the United States.

Perhaps, someday, the oligarchs’ “useful idiots”, the Republican Party and the American voters who put Trump into office, may realize their mistake, as they try to exercise their former Constitutionally guaranteed rights. But it will be to no avail.

By then, I expect I’ll be long gone or in my mind-sapping dotage, parked in my wheelchair, staring at a fish tank, in some God forsaken “nursing home”, just like so many of the people I see today “living out” their final days on this Earth under our “healthcare” system.

As I see it, the Republican tax plan is just another nail in our collective coffin.

All this is clearly in the stars for us. Unless we, the 99.9%, have some sort of a mass epiphany and together see “the light” to begin to restore our “Constitutional Federal Republic” experiment, The United States of America.

I agree with Dr. Robert Reich's* perspective about this Republican Tax. Here is what he has to say:

The Triumph of the Oligarchs, Robert Reich,, 17 Dec 2017.

The Republican tax plan to be voted on this week is likely to pass.

“The American people have waited 31 long years to see our broken tax code overhauled,” the leaders of the Koch’s political network insisted in a letter to members of Congress, urging swift approval, adding that the time had come to put “more money in the pockets of American families.”

Please. The Koch network doesn’t care a fig about the pockets of American families. It cares about the pockets of the Koch network.

It has poured money into almost every state in an effort to convince Americans that the tax cut will be good for them. Yet most Americans don’t believe it.

Polls shows only about a third of Americans favor the tax plan. The vast majority feel it’s heavily skewed to the rich and big businesses – which it is.

In counties that Trump won but Obama carried in 2012, only 17 percent say they expect to pay less in taxes, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Another 25 percent say they expected their family would actually pay higher taxes.

Most Americans know that the tax plan is payback for major Republican donors. Gary Cohn, Trump’s lead economic advisor, even conceded in an interview that “the most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan.”

Republican Rep. Chris Collins admitted “my donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’” Senator Lindsey Graham warned that if Republicans failed to pass the tax plan, “the financial contributions will stop.”

By passing it, Republican donors will save billions – paying a lower top tax rate, doubling the amount their heirs can receive tax-free, and treating themselves as “pass-through” businesses able to deduct 20 percent of their income (effectively allowing Trump to cut his tax rate in half, if and when he pays taxes).

They’ll make billions more as their stock portfolios soar because corporate taxes are slashed.

The biggest winners by far will be American oligarchs such as the Koch brothers; Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor; Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets football team and heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune; and Carl Icahn, the activist investor.

The oligarchs are the richest of the richest 1 percent. They’ve poured hundreds of millions into the GOP and Trump. About 40 percent of all contributions for the entire federal election came from the richest 0.01 percent of the American population.

The giant tax cut has been their core demand from the start. They also want to slash regulations, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and cut everything else government does except for defense – including Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

In return, they have agreed to finance Trump and the GOP, and mount expensive public relations campaigns that magnify their lies.

Trump has fulfilled his end of the bargain. He’s blinded much of his white working-class base to the reality of what’s happening by means of his racist, xenophobic rants and policies.

The American oligarchs couldn’t care less about what all this will cost America.

Within their gated estates and private jets, they’re well insulated from the hatefulness and divisiveness,

They don’t worry about whether Social Security or Medicare will be there for them in their retirement because they’ve put away huge fortunes.

Climate change doesn’t concern them because their estates are fully insured against hurricanes, floods, and wildfires.

They don’t care about public schools because their families don’t attend them. They don’t care about public transportation because they don’t use it. They don’t care about the poor because they don’t see them.

They don’t worry about the rising budget deficit because they borrow directly from global capital markets.

Truth to tell, they don’t even care that much about America because their personal and financial interests are global.

They are living in their own separate society, and they want Congress and the President to represent them, not the rest of us.

The Republican Party is their vehicle. Fox News is their voice. Trump is their champion. The new tax plan is their triumph.

But if polls showing most Americans against the tax cut are any guide, that triumph may be short lived. Americans are catching on.

The recent electoral results in Virginia and Alabama offer further evidence.

A tidal wave of public loathing is growing across the land – toward Trump, the GOP, and the oligarchs they serve; and to the deception, the wealth, and the power that underlies them.

That wave could crash in the midterm elections of 2018. If so, the current triumph of the oligarchs will be the start of their undoing.

* ROBERT B. REICH is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, INEQUALITY FOR ALL.

Bruce Springsteen - We Take Care of Our Own

Monday, December 18, 2017

MSU - The $21 Trillion University

I'll admit it. I'm from Ohio (University of Akron, 1971).

When I arrived in Metro Detroit in the 1970s, courtesy of Eaton Corporation, I took some pleasure as an “Ohio boy” occupying a home situated between neighbors - one a Michigan supporter and the other a State supporter. Frankly, I wondered what was with these people. In Ohio we just had one, Ohio State University. Not, two, premiere “state” universities, each counting nearly half of the people of the state as fanatical sports fans. It was just weird, I thought.

Well, after more than 40 years as a Michigander, I now understand.

This report is exemplary of Michigan State University, her faculty, such as Dr. Mark Skidmore, and student body, which together comprise one of the outstanding, world class State of Michigan universities. This article is also a tribute to Catherine Austin Fitts, president of Solari, Inc., and the publisher of The Solari Report and managing member of Solari Investment Advisory Services, LLC.

Catherine Austin Fitts is the hero who first "blew the whistle" on the mind-blowing, missing $ Trillions in government funds. She is the former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in the first Bush Administration, who, at tremendous personal cost, ferreted out something amiss and has never given up trying to find out the truth

MSU Scholars Find $21 Trillion in Unauthorized Government Spending; Defense Department to Conduct First-Ever Audit, Mark Skidmore, Andy Henion, MSUToday, 11 Dec 2017.

Earlier this year, a Michigan State University economist, working with graduate students and a former government official, found $21 trillion in unauthorized spending in the departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015.

The work of Mark Skidmore and his team, which included digging into government websites and repeated queries to U.S. agencies that went unanswered, coincided with the Office of Inspector General, at one point, disabling the links to all key documents showing the unsupported spending. (Luckily, the researchers downloaded and stored the documents.)

Now, the Department of Defense has announced it will conduct the first department-wide, independent financial audit in its history (read the Dec. 7 announcement here).

The Defense Department did not say specifically what led to the audit. But the announcement came four days after Skidmore discussed his team’s findings on USAWatchdog, a news outlet run by former CNN and ABC News correspondent Greg Hunter.

“While we can’t know for sure what role our efforts to compile original government documents and share them with the public has played, we believe it may have made a difference,” said Skidmore, the Morris Chair in State and Local Government Finance and Policy at MSU.

Please, go here for more.

The Black Budget | Catherine Austin Fitts

Found 'em! Are "They" US?

This post is for the world... and the friends who believe I am nuts when I talk about advanced weapons and space programs financed through the "Black Budget" and perhaps through the "on-the-books" Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) programs, too.

(photo) Robert Bigelow, a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid, received most of the money allocated for the Pentagon program. On CBS’s “60 Minutes” in May, Mr. Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth. Credit Isaac Brekken for The New York Times.

US Navy Jet Encounters Unknown Flying Object

An encounter between a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and an unknown object. It was released by the Defense Department's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Courtesy of U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Published - December 16, 2017

WASHINGTON — In the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was almost impossible to find.

Which was how the Pentagon wanted it.

For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.

The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.

On CBS’s “60 Minutes” in May, Mr. Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Itty-Bitty Lights Take on Cancer

Watch out cancer! Those itty-bitty lights are coming to get you!

This illustration shows how human breast cancer cells in a mouse model were “chased” with novel rare earth nanoscale probes injected intravenously. When the subject is illuminated, the probes glow in an infrared range of light that is more sensitive than other optical forms of illumination. In this case, the probes show the spread of cancer cells to adrenal glands and femur (thigh) bones.
Image: Harini Kantamneni and Professor Prabhas Moghe/Rutgers University New Brunswick

Faster, More Accurate Cancer Detection Using Nanoparticles, Rutgers-Led Study Finds, Todd B. Bates, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, 11 Dec 2017.

Using light-emitting nanoparticles, Rutgers University-New Brunswick scientists have invented a highly effective method to detect tiny tumors and track their spread, potentially leading to earlier cancer detection and more precise treatment.

The technology, announced today, could improve patient cure rates and survival times.

“We’ve always had this dream that we can track the progression of cancer in real time, and that’s what  we’ve done here,” said Prabhas V. Moghe, a corresponding author of the study and distinguished professor of biomedical engineering and chemical and biochemical engineering at Rutgers–New Brunswick. “We’ve tracked the disease in its very incipient stages.”

Debby Boone You light up my life -1977

Friday, December 8, 2017

Evil Really Does Walk Among Us

Evil really does walk among us. Today, we know evil as the Republican Party.

Here are just four of evil’s signs:

1. VA kills plan to cut homeless-vet program after outcry, Arthur Allen & Lorraine Woellert, Politio, 6 Dec 2017.

The VA says it is essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans.

Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program.

The VA said it was essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans. Instead, the money would go to local VA hospitals that can use it as they like, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness.

Please go here for more of the story.

2. How The GOP Tax Plan Scrooges Middle Class, Retired And Poor, Joh Wasik, Forbes, 29 Nov 2017.

Retirement Benefits Will Likely Be Cut. Because the plan proposes to add at least $1.5 trillion to the national debt, fiscal conservatives say the imbalance needs to be offset by either cuts of "entitlement" programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid or tax increases...

Please go here for more of the story.

3. A grim budget day for U.S. science: analysis and reaction to Trump's plan, Science News Staff , Science News, 16 Mar 2017.

Please go here for more of the story.

4. Paul Krugman: The GOP Hates America's Children This Much, Jacob Sugarman, AlterNet, 8 Dec 2017.

Republicans would rather give heirs and heiresses a tax break than care for needy kids.

More than two months ago, Congress let the Children's Health Insurance Program expire, and has offered no indication it will provide funding any time soon. Just last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-MA) on the Senate floor that, "the reason CHIP's having trouble is that we don't have money anymore." Two days later he voted in favor of a trillion-dollar tax cut for multinational corporations and the wealthy.

For the New York Times' Paul Krugman, this is just the latest salvo in a Republican war on children. In his Thursday column, he argues the GOP is further enriching its already fabulously wealthy donors at the expense of America's youth. Take CHIP, which provided health care to 8.9 million kids whose parents could not afford it last year. The estate tax would finance the program and then some—the former generates $20 billion in revenue while the latter costs taxpayers $15 billion—but Republicans would rather give a tax break to heirs and heiresses worth millions (or more).

"Are there any possible defenses for this choice?" Krugman asks. "Republicans like to claim that tax cuts pay for themselves by spurring economic growth, but no serious economists agree—and that’s the case even for things like corporate tax cuts that might have some positive economic effect. Applied to inheritance taxes, this claim is beyond absurd: There is no plausible argument to the effect that letting wealthy heirs claim their inheritance tax-free will make the economy boom."

The GOP's ridiculous argument that the estate tax hurts small businesses and family farms really demands no response, but Krugman provides one anyway. Just 80 ("eight-zero") such taxpayers would qualify at all. As for Chuck Grassley's claim that the country needs to reward those who invest rather than spend their money on "booze or women or movies," Krugman offers this rejoinder: "Yes, indeed, letting the likes of Donald Trump Jr. inherit wealth tax-free is a reward for their fathers’ austere lifestyles."

What Republicans will never acknowledge, despite a wealth of supporting economic data, is that increasing aid to poor kids ultimately saves the government money. The healthier children are and the more financial support they receive, the more likely they are to become productive members of society who pay their own taxes.

"But such results, while interesting and important, aren’t the main reason we should be providing children with health care and enough to eat," Krugman is quick to clarify. "Simple decency should be reason enough. And despite everything we’ve seen in U.S. politics, it’s still hard to believe that a whole political party would balk at doing the decent thing for millions of kids while rushing to further enrich a few thousand wealthy heirs."

The Republican Party’s new motto: tu es labore sudatum - You Are Scum.

Santana - Evil Ways (1969-70) HQ

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Republican Iron-Boots Tax

Please stop for a second.
Please consider who will pay for the current Republican Party Iron-Boots Tax.

Your children, your grandchildren will suffer under the debt generated by this Republican life-paralyzing tax for their entire lives.

Why are you letting this happen to them?

Who will benefit from the Republican Iron-Boots Tax Program?

Those you love will not benefit. They will suffer.

Who will benefit? Who will benefit?

Look, we just gotta let those kids have a chance to make their own choice about which kind of boots they want to pull on... don't you agree?

Lyle Lovett - That's Right (You're Not From Texas) - 1996

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Little 'Tude Wins for Us

Wile E. Coyote is finally going to have something to eat. And, it's not Road Runner.

This from Stanford University Medical Center:
Researchers have tapped into inter-cellular conversations between good cells, (white blood cells) the “scavenger cells” called macrophages. Here is what they heard… "You are doomed, bad, bad cancer cell! I'll never give up until all you bad guys are gone!" (more)

OK. I just imagined all this. But, the research is valid and a major breakthrough, made by really smart people at Stanford University Medical Center.  Here’s the real story…

A second biological pathway that signals immune cells not to engulf and kill cancer cells has been identified by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

An antibody that blocks the "don't eat me" signal has shown promise as a cancer treatment in animal models and is currently in clinical trials. Combining that antibody, known as anti-CD47, with another that blocks this newly discovered pathway could further enhance the ability of the immune system to eradicate many types of cancers, the researchers believe.

"The development of cancer cells triggers the generation of SOS molecules recognized by the body's scavenger cells, called macrophages," said Irving Weissman, MD, the director of Stanford's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, and also of its Ludwig Cancer Center. "However, aggressive cancers express a 'don't eat me' signal in the form of CD47 on their surfaces. Now we've identified a second 'don't eat me' signal and its complementary receptor on macrophages. We've also shown that we can overcome this signal with specific antibodies and restore the ability of macrophages to kill the cancer cells."

But, remember our Wile E. Coyote is a good guy! He's just hungry and I admire his "never-give-up" 'tude.

Wile E. Coyote on Night Court

Friday, December 1, 2017

Your Grandkids' 10 Necessities

Catherine's Thank You Love Note to Poppy

Your grandchildren will thank you, too, for making sure they have these 10 Necessities.

OFFICIAL Somewhere over the Rainbow - Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole - 1996

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

By the Rockets’ Red Glare

Mr. Trump said, "We'll take care of it."
Somehow, I don’t feel reassured. Do you?
I’m not liken’ this version of, Makin’ America Great Again.

Perhaps, we’d better start teachin' the grandkids about, “Duck & Cover”.

Duck and Cover - 1950s

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Each Man For Himself

On a clear day in Southeast Michigan
On a clear day in Southeast Michigan I can see the sun and blue sky. I love clear days!

For many people residing elsewhere, seeing the sun and blue sky is not so cherished.

But, seeing blue sky instead of the near constant gloomy, cloudy skies is just short of a miracle here in Michigan. It’s good to see the sun. It’s reassuring and soothing.

This morning, the beautiful sun streaming through the window, empowered me to see many things I didn’t want to see. In the gloom, they conveniently remained hidden.

In the brilliance of the sun a few of those things stood out and I was forced to ponder them.

For instance, in the past I’d considered Mr. Trump simply an accomplished psychopath. Adept at obtaining “wealth and fame” through any means, but without a particular plan or political philosophy, save for the “philosophy” of Trump First.

Today, following his appointment of Mr. Mick Mulvaney to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in the bright morning light, I did recognize the outline of a plan.

Mr. Trump’s plan is: anarchy. The total destruction of the U.S. government.

It’s obvious now. He wants it to be, each man for himself.

I’ll bet you can remember the last financial disaster. Just a couple of years back nearly all of us, including the Banksters, were on our backs like a bunch of nearly dead bugs, gasping for air. Due in large part to outright fraud, the Big To Fail Banks had to be saved from their own bottomless swamp at the cost of trillions of dollars. The public paid the price…, millions of mortgages gone bad… repossessed homes, lost savings… and much more misery than I can relate.

Now Mr. Trump wants to back-knife the itty-bitty consumer protection we have, even in the face of continuing big-bank fraud.

He may very well see his wish come true. But, he won’t be happy if it does.

Sammy Davis Jr - On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Aryans – Another Lie Too Big to Fail

The Aryan Supremacy Myth or white male racial superiority may very well be the reason the American Dream fails in the United States itself, to say nothing of failure throughout the world.

Certainly, its modern-day advocates, in the form of the current Trump administration, are responsible for shredding 300 years of life-affirming American social progress, plus reducing the U.S. presidency into a “has-been” world leadership role. Needless-to-say, most leaders throughout the world hold a less than favorable view of President Trump’s leadership strengths, with the sole exception, perhaps, of Mr. Putin.

Mr. Trump does not embody, let alone project, America’s greatest values, among them our “culture and civic liberties”.

The idea of Aryan supremacy which became the foundation of sand, born out of the 1800s and used justify the most heinous crimes of the 20th Century, bolster the “American exceptionalism” ideology, sustain the British hegemony of India, and the touchstone of the pre-WWII Nazi movement, as well as the current neo-Nazi in the USA, is in fact based upon a misunderstanding and misapplication of the word ‘Aryan’.

Mistranslated from the Rig Veta, which in its written form was compiled in ancient Sanskrit, the word ‘Aryas’, actually means ‘noble’ or ‘cultured’ and does not refer to a “race” of invaders who supposedly not only vanquished, destroyed and conquered the people of northern India, but also brought enlightenment and culture to ancient Indian civilizations in the form of the largest historical body of works, the Vedas.

Fortunately, understanding and discovery, if allowed to see the light of day, has a way of challenging and eventually dismantling false theories.

In this case, the discovery and excavation of the Indus valley sites of Harappa and Mohenjodaro during the 1920s and 1930s and subsequent exploration of the sites, and others, has led to a certain academic epiphany.

By the 1990s, historians began to realize that Harappa and Mohenjodaro were, “…sophisticated, centrally planned cities… much older than the supposed 1500 BC date for the Aryan invasion of India and that they belonged to a previously unidentified high civilization of remote antiquity, perhaps almost as old, it was speculated, as Sumer or Egypt – in other words, dating back to 3000 BC or earlier.”

Gregory Possehl, Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, and author of numerous academic articles and books, including, Indus Age: The Beginnings, explains:
“This had to do with the Aryan race, proposed to be the people who spoke the languages of the Indo-European family. European intellectual and moral superiority was a foregone conclusion to most savants of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The success of European colonialism, Christianity and the Industrial Revolution proved that. This condition of innate superiority was seen in the Classical Greeks and to have been carried forward by Rome. With the discovery of the Indo-European family of languages there was evidence for an even earlier history, one set within a prehistoric past that only archaeology could uncover. The Aryans, or Indo-Europeans, must have been blessed with this ‘superiority’ since they too were successful conquerors of vast lands, from the Bay of Bengal to the outer islands of Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.”

“In the end there is no reason to believe today that there ever was an Aryan race that spoke Indo-European languages and was possessed of a coherent or well-defined set of Aryan or Indo-European cultural features.”

Due to underwater exploration and sophisticated computer modeling of the ocean levels during the various ice age meltdowns, we now know even more… some researchers share the opinion that the Indus Valley civilization actually predates the last ice age.

And, there is much more…

"This should help settle the issue as far as its modern misuse is concerned. As far as ancient India is concerned, one may safely say that the word Arya denoted certain spiritual and humanistic values that defined her civilization. The entire Aryan civilization - the civilization of Vedic India - was driven and sustained by these values. The whole of ancient Indian literature: from the Vedas, the Brahmanas to the Puranas to the epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayanacan be seen as a record of the struggles of an ancient people to live up to the ideals defined by these values. Anyone regardless of birth, race or national origin could become Aryan by following this code of conduct. It was not something to be imposed upon others by the sword or by proselytization. Viewed in this light, the whole notion of any 'Aryan invasion' is an absurdity. It is like talking about an 'invasion of scientific thinking'."

Aryan Invasion — History or Politics?,, Dr. N.S. Rajaram

Take that, you wall-building, xenophobic Trumpists and neo-Nazis!

The Aryan superiority, white male superior thing, is based on a big bottomless swamp. But then, we just somehow knew that, didn’t we? It’s just another lie too big to fail.

Rig Veda Full Sri Suktam in Devanagari Sanskrit English translations.wmv

Saturday, November 25, 2017

On the Trail of a Limitless Energy Source

Physics professor Paul Thibado has designed tiny graphene-powered motors that can run on ambient temperature.
Could it be that a bunch of atoms - that like to constantly move around together - connected in a sheet of graphene can be harnessed to produce energy?

Yes. It is possible.

Explained Physics professor Paul Thibado, University of Arkansas, "Unlike atoms in a liquid, which move in random directions, atoms connected in a sheet of graphene move together. This means their energy can be collected using existing nanotechnology."

“Self-powering enables smart bio-implants, which would profoundly impact society, ” he said.

Here’s the story:
Good Vibrations, Camilla Shumaker, University of Arkansas, 20 Oct 2017.

Using the Natural Motion of 2D Materials to Create a New Source of Clean Energy

Graphene is a seemingly impossible material. For years, scientists had theorized that lifting a single layer of carbon atoms from a chunk of graphite could produce the first two-dimensional material, which they called graphene. Finally, in 2004, this was accomplished by two physicists at the University of Manchester, who earned the Nobel Prize in Physics for this breakthrough.

There was a problem, however: two dimensional materials violate the laws of physics. Without the support of a substrate, physics predicts they would tear apart or melt, even at a temperature of absolute zero. Physicists had to find a loophole to explain their existence.

That loophole turned out to be related to a phenomenon known as Brownian motion, small random fluctuations of the carbon atoms that make up graphene. This causes the material to ripple into the third dimension, similar to waves moving across the surface of the ocean. These movements in and out of the flat surface allow graphene to stay comfortably within the laws of physics.

Ever since Robert Brown discovered Brownian motion in 1827, scientists have wondered whether they could harvest this motion as a source of energy. The research of Paul Thibado, professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, provides strong evidence that the motion of graphene could indeed be used as a source of clean, limitless energy.

Much more here…

A Potential Source of Clean, Limitless Energy

The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations - 1966

Friday, November 24, 2017

Inquiring Minds... Thank You!

Astounding, that’s what it is.

Each and everyday researchers somewhere throughout the world are making life-changing discovers in nearly every discipline. We are learning more everyday about those who preceded us on this earth and their incredible abilities to engineer and build as well as their unbelievable understanding of the sciences. 

Scientists specializing in microbiology, nanotechnology and physic, just to name a few, are modern day heroes, living on the cutting edge of knowledge and understanding. They are our future.

For one, I’m thankful for these inquiring minds and for the questions they ask.

Here’s an example:

Buildings of the future may come equipped with windows that can generate their own electricity, thanks to a finding of a team led by Jacqui Cole, a materials scientist from the University of Cambridge, UK, currently based at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

For the first time, Cole and colleagues determined the molecular structure of working solar cell electrodes within a fully assembled device that works like a window. The finding, published in Nanoscale, helps advance smart window technology that could enable cities to move closer to the goal of being energy sustainable.

The experiments were performed on dye-sensitized solar cells, which are transparent and thus well-suited for use in glass. Attempts to create smart window technologies have been limited by the many unknown molecular mechanisms between the electrodes and electrolyte that combine to determine how the device operates.

"Most previous studies have modeled the molecular function of these working electrodes without considering the electrolyte ingredients," Cole said. "Our work shows that these chemical ingredients can clearly influence the performance of solar cells, so we can now use this knowledge to tune the ions to increase photovoltaic efficiency."

The discovery was made with colleagues from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK. Researchers are continuing to apply this materials characterization technique to dye-sensitized solar cells, which could reveal further molecular secrets and lead the way to future energy applications.

Simon & Garfunkel - Song For The Asking - 1970

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Yesterday's Coffee

Working nights as an orderly at Akron City hospital help pay my way through college and often it was Grandma Baker’s coffee that helped me make it to work. She always had some Eight O’Clock coffee brewing on her stove when I’d stop by her place to see how she was doing. We’d talk for a few minutes and then I’d head out to work. I still remember the wonderful aroma of that coffee when I think about those few precious moments.

Next time I visit London I may reprise that coffee memory because the buses are scheduled to be powered by bio-diesel fuel comprised of coffee grounds and some other stuff. It’s a great idea that I hope we’ll bring home to the USA one day soon.

Here’s the story:

It is the first time a coffee-derived biofuel will be used on London's public transport system
Waste coffee grounds will be used to help power some of London's buses from Monday, it has been revealed.

A biofuel created by blending oil extracted from coffee waste with diesel is to be added to the public transport fuel supply.

Technology firm bio-bean says it has produced enough coffee oil to power one bus for a year.
Transport for London (TfL) has increasingly turned to using biofuels to reduce transport emissions.
Will buses be run on coffee in future?

Biofuel made using waste products such as cooking oil and tallow from meat processing is already used in many of the capital's 9,500 buses.

However, this is thought to be the first time a coffee-derived biofuel has been added to London's public transport system.

Londoners create 200,000 tonnes of coffee waste a year, according to bio-bean.

The company takes the used grounds from coffee shops and instant coffee factories, and extracts oil from it in its factory.

This is then processed into a blended B20 biofuel.

Buses can be powered using the fuel without the need for modification.

Please go here for more information:

Coffee Drinkers... Oh, My!! What have we come to??
 The Muppets - The Coffee Song -2011

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Life-Affirming App

My mind went wild the other night as I conjured-up a new app for smartphones to aid in finding life-affirming products and services. I thought, "Let’s use all that 'big data' for something good."

Instead of buying unhealthy stuff and garbage services, let’s be proactive and purchase only stuff that serves our best interests.

But, how? How do we recognize the good stuff?

Well, let's take advantage of all that "big data" (Which is collected from us, without compensation, when we use the Internet.) and create an app that will sort out the bad, unhealthy stuff, and provide us with the life-affirming, healthy products and services… the really good stuff we need and want.

Here’s how it will work: just type in a product, like for example: household cleaner. The Life-Affirming App will sort through its magical algorithms and out will pop the best life-affirming product for you to purchase. And, not only that, it will direct you to a choice of locations where you may purchase it.

The same will work for a service you might need. Say, I need a lawn care service. Type in “lawn care” and out will pop a selection of companies that provide lawn services using bio-friendly fertilizers and other products.

That’s what I need, I thought!

Perhaps tonight I can get a little sleep and begin my app programming chore later.

Please go here for the spark-of-it-all… you know, the story that provoked my sleeplessness:

Shop Here, Not There: Science Says Reducing Inequality Is Almost That Simple, Chris Winters,, 20 Nov 2017.

"New research shows that shuttling even 5 percent of consumer transactions to poorer neighborhoods can reduce income inequality by up to 80 percent."

Imagine heading out to run errands at all your usual places, and your phone’s “equity app” has a better idea. Siri might say: “Buy your groceries at one of these other stores, just as close as your regular store.” Or: “There are three coffee shops within 2 miles. You haven’t tried this one before.”

We already get shopping suggestions when we bring up Google Maps, especially when our smartphones are transmitting our GPS coordinates. A similar type of computation is happening behind the scenes at Facebook and Twitter, whose targeted ads can sometimes be scarily on point.

But what if, instead of just boosting sales, those suggestions coming from your phone were designed to address social problems like inequality?

A group of researchers in France and Spain may have solved one preliminary puzzle toward getting us to that point. In the paper “Crowdsourcing the Robin Hood Effect in Cities,” published in June in the journal Applied Network Science, the researchers describe a computer algorithm they created that attempts to “rewire” the complex network of commercial transactions and shopping trips people take part in every day. The goal is to redirect more money to poorer neighborhoods so that the wealth differences between rich and poor parts of a city are evened out.

The study used data from 150,000 people and 95,000 businesses in Barcelona and Madrid, and on the surface the pattern of transactions and the money spent revealed that some neighborhoods were up to five times wealthier than others. But researchers were shocked to find that if as few as 5 percent of commercial transactions were changed—so that capital flowed from richer to poorer neighborhoods—income inequality in those cities was drastically reduced, up to 80 percent.

“We were not expecting that,” said one of the study’s authors, Maxime Lenormand of the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture in Montpelier, France. “Actually, I checked the algorithm because I was not sure in the beginning that everything was OK in the code.”

Lenormand conducted the study of the Robin Hood Effect with Thomas Louail of the Paris-based National Center for Scientific Research’s Joint Research Unit of Urban Geography, Juan Murillo Arias of Madrid-based BBVA Data & Analytics, and José J. Ramasco of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Physics and Complex Systems in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Guiding and changing individual behavior to instigate social change is possible.
Their research began as an attempt to use a model in transportation planning that finds the most efficient way people can get to work and extend it into the area of reducing inequality, Louail said.