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Thursday, May 31, 2018

SPLC statement on DeVos’ suggestion that schools can report undocumented students to ICE | Southern Poverty Law Center

"The SPLC strongly opposes the suggestion this week by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that schools can report undocumented students to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

Not only does DeVos’ suggestion conflict with settled law, it also fundamentally undermines the promise of our schools as a place where all students can thrive.

All children have the right to enroll in public schools, regardless of their immigration status. The Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler v. Doe, affirming the right of immigrant children to participate in public education, has been the law of the land for over 35 years. Under that precedent and under our nation’s civil rights laws, schools cannot be in the business of immigration enforcement or discrimination. 

When Alabama tried to intimidate immigrant families away from enrolling their children in school by seeking information about the immigration status of children and parents, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rightly struck down that law.

Practices that chill immigrant students’ access to school are unconstitutional. The SPLC will continue to advocate for the right of all students, no matter their background, to enroll in public school."

(Via.)  SPLC statement on DeVos’ suggestion that schools can report undocumented students to ICE | Southern Poverty Law Center:

Standing Rock Water Protector Sentenced to Three Years in Prison | Democracy Now!

H14 water protector giron 3 year prison sentence

"In news from North Dakota, a water protector who took part in the protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline has been sentenced to 36 months in prison. Michael “Little Feather” Giron was arrested on October 27, 2016, while defending the Oceti Sakowin treaty camp. He has been held in jail for the past year. Little Feather’s wife Leoyla Cowboy said on Wednesday, “The legacy of genocide and broken treaties has shown us that when indigenous people stand up to protect the water and the land from the colonization of resources, we will always be met with repression and violence. This struggle continues.”

Standing Rock Water Protector Sentenced to Three Years in Prison | Democracy Now!

Opinion | Is the United States Losing Its Humanity? - The New York Times

"President Trump is putting forward a nominee who is virulently anti-immigrant to be assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, a job I used to hold in the Obama administration. The nomination, announced last week, is only the latest move by the administration to chip away at our standing as the world’s top backer of humanitarian efforts.

The new nominee, Ronald Mortensen, has made his positions on immigration issues clear as a fellow of the Center for Immigration Studies. For example, he has insisted that most of the Dreamers — undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children — have committed felonies. But his likely hostility to the mission of the bureau is not unique: the administration has named several immigration hard-liners to key posts. Rather, Mr. Mortensen’s nomination needs to be understood as part of a campaign to change America’s long tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants and offering sanctuary to the persecuted.

President Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban, announced shortly after his inauguration, was the first salvo in this campaign. Even with courts overturning various versions of the ban, the White House has succeeded in slashing the number of refugees admitted to the United States to the lowest level in years — from 85,000 in the last full year of the Obama administration to as few as 20,000 projected for this year.

The network of faith-based and secular charities around the United States that support refugee families to create new lives is disintegrating. With so few refugees being admitted, the State Department has announced plans to no longer fund some of these groups. The result is that fewer cities will be involved in the resettlement programs, the staff and volunteers who help refugees will disperse, and we will lose part of a highly successful public-private partnership. Lost, too, will be the proven economic and cultural benefits additional refugees would bring and the chance for a fresh start they desperately need.

While refugee aid delivered overseas through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees remains at robust levels, this is primarily because of bipartisan support in Congress. Other United Nations agencies, however, have been cut off. The White House stopped funding the United Nations Population Fund, saying it was involved in forced abortions and sterilizations, an assertion it denies. The agency plays an essential role in seeing to the reproductive health of displaced women and improving survival rates for mothers and babies, and in 2016, I celebrated when the 5,000th baby was born alive and healthy in its clinic in the Zaatri refugee camp in Jordan. The agency now reports there are 64,000 pregnant Rohingya in the squalor of refugee camps in Bangladesh who need help to deliver their babies safely.

The Trump administration also cut its funding of the United Nations agency that runs schools and provides health care to Palestinian refugees by more than 80 percent after Palestinians and United Nations member states criticized the decision to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The reduction has resulted in what a United Nations representative has called an “unprecedented financial crisis.” Left unclear is how punishing the poorest Palestinians helps an already tense situation.

Refugee aid addresses only the basic needs of most refugees, primarily food, water, sanitation and shelter. Convincing other countries to do more and resolving crises so that refugees can go home again requires diplomacy. Yet the Trump administration has weakened the State Department, demoralized our diplomats and threatened programs that foster growth overseas and work to preserve peace and stability. At a recent Brussels “pledging conference” for humanitarian aid for Syrians, the United States delegation, which once would have made a major announcement of aid and spurred others to give, did not deliver remarks.

As assistant secretary, I used to lead United States delegations to migration conferences to make the case that border crossers have the right to claim asylum, migrant laborers need protection from exploitation and abuse, and, in all cases, people should be treated humanely. Our country led in promoting good ideas. One example is the Migrants in Countries in Crisis initiative, which produced voluntary guidelines to follow when migrants are caught up in disasters far from home.

Now, the administration boycotts meetings on a voluntary global migration compact, making the nonsensical claim it would undermine American sovereignty. It also put forward a candidate to head the International Organization for Migration who has a record of tweeting anti-Muslim sentiments.

At the same time, the anti-immigrant Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller is leading a team in the White House and the Department of Homeland Security that is driving policies that are anything but humanitarian. Separating migrant children from parents at the border, as happened last November when a Congolese asylum seeker in California saw her 7-year-old daughter taken away, is only the latest cruel measure announced.

The list of good moves on the part of the Trump administration is very short indeed. It’s kept the deal I signed with Australia for the U.S. to accept refugees who were isolated in Manus Island and Nauru. It supports an arrangement the Obama administration set up with Costa Rica to keep refugees in imminent peril safe until they can be resettled, and it supports a new regional framework that several Latin American countries are developing to help refugees. By all accounts Trump nominees to head Unicef and the World Food Program are capable and experienced.

Unfortunately the negatives vastly outweigh the positives. By ignoring the urgent needs of refugees and immigrants within and outside its borders, the Trump administration is setting bad examples and deconstructing a humanitarian approach that was admired by, and depended on, by millions of people throughout the world.

Anne C. Richard, a fellow at Georgetown University, was the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration from 2012 to 2017."

Opinion | Is the United States Losing Its Humanity? - The New York Times

Jarrett on Roseanne: Make it a teaching moment

Valerie Jarrett's extraordinary family tree - CBS News

"On 60 Minutes this week, correspondent Norah O'Donnell interviews Valerie Jarrett, President Obama's senior advisor, and close personal friend. Jarrett's been at his side for the past seven years and, unlike some staff members, she plans to stay there.

"I came in knowing I was going to stay until the end, if the president would have me," she tells O'Donnell. "That's the commitment that I made to him."

But how did Jarrett become such a powerful figure in the White House? Where did she get her political instincts and steely resolve? As O'Donnell explains in the 60 Minutes Overtime video above, it might have something to do with her trailblazing family.

"Valerie Jarrett comes from one of the most prominent African-American families in American history," O'Donnell says. It was also a family of "firsts." Jarrett's great-grandfather Robert Robinson Taylor is believed to be the first African-American graduate of MIT and the country's first accredited African-American architect. His son, Robert Rochon Taylor, was a housing activist who became the first African-American chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority.

Jarrett's mother, Barbara Taylor Bowman, is an early childhood education expert for whom a Chicago street is named. Bowman "is an incredibly accomplished educator," explains producer Henry Schuster. "She's worked with some of the most prominent developmental psychologists in the world."

Jarrett's father, Dr. James Bowman, Jr., was a groundbreaking pathologist and geneticist. In her interview, Jarrett describes hearing about his first day as a resident at what was then called St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago, where he was told that he couldn't enter the front door because of the color of his skin. He decided it was time to break the rules.

"His attitude was, look, I'm going to be a physician here. I'm coming in the front door," Jarrett tells O'Donnell. "And so, the first day of work, he showed up and he walked in the front door. And everybody was aghast. And the next day, when he showed up for work, all of the black staff that worked in the hospital -- from the nurses to the orderlies to the administrators -- were waiting by the front door and they walked in with him. And so he, in a sense, integrated the front door of the hospital."

Jarrett gets emotional recounting the story. "I just can't even imagine what it would be like to have gone all the way through medical school and be at the top of your class and do so well and then be treated that way," she says. "But it also taught me the lesson [that] you have to stand up for yourself. And just because somebody says no doesn't mean that you have to listen. You can do what you think is right. And I think both of my parents were trailblazers in that respect."

Given her family's history, perhaps it's no surprise that Jarrett was drawn 25 years ago to Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama, a young Chicago couple who would go on to blaze trails of their own. After interviewing Michelle for a job in the Mayor's Office, she met Barack, her then-fiancé, and the trio became fast friends. The Obamas later bought a house on the same street as Jarrett's family. "The fact that I've known the president and the first lady for 25 years gives me a perspective that maybe others don't have," Jarrett says.

That closeness also makes her protective of the president, O'Donnell explains. Jarrett seems to bristle, for instance, when asked why some African-American academics, such as Cornel West, have criticized the president for not doing more to address racism.

"Well, you know what? My theory is this: Rather than having commentaries from the cheap seats, get involved and see what you can do," Jarrett says. "What can you do around your own community, within your own family, to try to improve race relations in our country? I think this is a responsibility that we all have as citizens."

As for her special access to the president and first lady, if Jarrett has gossip, she isn't sharing.

"Is there anything you know about them that we don't know?" O'Donnell asks her.

"Sure," Jarrett says. "And we're going to keep it that way."

Valerie Jarrett's extraordinary family tree - CBS News

How Donald Trump is weaponising the courts for political ends | US news | The Guardian

With just over a year in office, Donald Trump has already appointed 21 of America’s 167 current circuit judges.

"It was a startling omission even according to the peculiar moral norms of the Trump era. When Wendy Vitter, one of the US president’s judicial nominees, was asked whether she supported the supreme court’s 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision to end racial segregation in schools – a nearly sacred pillar of progress for civil rights in the 20th century – she did not say yes.

“I don’t mean to be coy,” Vitter, who is up for a seat on the US district court for the eastern district of Louisiana, told her Senate confirmation hearing. “But I think I get into a difficult area when I start commenting on supreme court decisions which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with.”

If approved, Vitter, currently general counsel of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and an opponent of abortion rights, would join a wave of lifetime appointments that threatens to fundamentally tilt the balance of America’s courts – and embolden conservative activists to bring cases that once seemed lost causes.

With just over a year in office, Donald Trump has already appointed 21 of America’s 167 current circuit judges and intends to fill an additional 20 or more vacancies by the end of the year. He is far outpacing Barack Obama, whose 21st circuit court nominee was approved 33 months into his presidency amid gridlock in Congress. Seventeen of Trump’s nominees for district courts, most of whom replaced Democratic appointees, have also been approved by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Dominated by white men, many of whom are under 50, it is the least diverse crop of new judges for a generation and may prove Trump’s most lasting legacy. Last December, for example, an analysis by the progressive organization Lambda Legal found that nearly one-third of his judicial nominees up that point had anti-LGBT records, with some openly hostile to gay rights.

“This is stunning,” said Christopher Kang, former deputy counsel to Barack Obama, who for more than four years was in charge of the selection, vetting, and confirmation of Obama’s judicial nominees. “Conservatives are using the courts to bring us back to a time when ‘religious liberty’ allowed discrimination. We’re seeing legal arguments we had hoped were consigned to the dustbin of history being dusted off and used again in the hope of turning back the clock on the way we treat all Americans.”

Four cases relating to Trump’s ban on transgender personnel in the military are working their way through the courts. Employment and housing protections for LGBT individuals could be at risk. Battles over reproductive rights are also underway at the state level. Last month a federal appeals court blocked an Ohio law that would cut taxpayer funding to 28 Planned Parenthood clinics, holding that conditions it imposed that denied funds to abortion providers were unconstitutional. But campaigners against abortion rights are unlikely to be deterred.

Kang, now chief counsel at the not-for-profit group Demand Justice, said: “In the efforts to roll back reproductive rights, they’re going to keep trying until they find a judge with such ideologically extreme views that he or she agrees with them.” He added: “If the supreme court moves in their direction, they only need to get one case up to the supreme court to overturn Roe v Wade.”

Trump, on course to be the first Republican since Herbert Hoover to name fewer women and minorities to the court than his Republican predecessor, has shown no compunction about weaponizing the courts for political ends. At a Susan B Anthony List campaign for life gala in Washington last week, he boasted of appointing a record number of judges who will “defend our constitution and interpret the law as written”, seen by critics as cover for a throwback to the gender and racial injustices of the founding document.

Judicial appointments have proved crucial for grassroots conservatives and Christian evangelicals who might otherwise be alienated by Trump’s sex scandals and boorish behavior. Many cited the supreme court vacancy as a major factor in their decision to vote for him in the 2016 presidential election, and they were rewarded with his pick of the conservative justice.

Similarly, his nominations to the lower courts rushed through by Republicans without many of the usual protocols and traditions, have insulated him from criticism on his right flank. Curt Levey, president of the right-wing advocacy group the Committee for Justice, said: “I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people where the first thing they jump out and say is ‘judges’.”

And Hugh Hewitt, an author, and commentator, wrote in the Washington Post last week: “Someday, conservative critics of President Trump will have to reconcile their vehement opposition to him with their love of the Constitution.”

Hewitt predicted: “By 2019, Trump judges will be participating in more than 15,000 decisions every year, and almost all those decisions will be the law of the land. There will be no fewer than 400 crucial case votes and dozens of signed opinions, each year, every year for most of the Trump judges.”

Trump’s judicial picks are profoundly shaped by the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarians who favour an “originalist” interpretation of the constitution, and the Heritage Foundation, a Washington thinktank where Newt Gingrich is a regular speaker and where Margaret Thatcher is lionised.

John Malcolm, vice-president of the Institute for Constitutional Government at the Heritage Foundation, said: “In the same way that liberals have pushed more progressive causes when they felt the judiciary was favourable, I’m quite sure that when there are more conservatives on the bench, that will prompt conservative groups to file more lawsuits.”

Progressives have in recent years won landmark victories on issues such as same sex marriage and transgender rights. But conservatives, sensing the wind changing in their favour, may push significantly harder on issues such as environmental regulations, land rights, racial profiling, trade unions and reproductive and voting rights.

Douglas Keith, counsel with the fair courts arm of the Brennan Center for Justice, said: “There’s long been an asymmetry to interest, resources and advocacy, with the right organising much more than the left.”

The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), he noted, was spending millions of dollars to support Trump’s nominees in the low courts, for example by running TV ads to pressure vulnerable Democrats to support them.

Even so, the impact on litigation strategy will take time, Keith suggested. “It is a long game. It is not always the one big case; it may be smaller cases at the district and circuit courts.”

The JCN itself denied that activists were using the courts as a blunt instrument. Carrie Severino, its chief counsel and policy director, said: “The conservative strategy shouldn’t ever be – and isn’t in these cases – to run to the courts to change the law. That’s the legislature’s job.

“However, there are many issues in which the legal questions are fairly clear if the judge is willing to set aside his or her own politics to decide based on the law alone. In those cases, it is a great relief to litigants to know they will be treated fairly in the courts.”

But for their opponents, the road is long and bleak. Sasha Buchert, a staff attorney at Lambda Legal, warned of the implications for LGBT rights. “It’s absolutely a disaster. This is putting Trump’s values on the courts for the next 10, 20 or 30 years in places where folks have the least protections already.”

How Donald Trump is weaponising the courts for political ends | US news | The Guardian

Trump doesn’t denounce Roseanne’s racist tweet Donald Trump criticizes ABC’s CEO—but not Roseanne’s racist tweet. Lawrence talks with Clarence Page and Mark Thompson. - The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC

The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC

Outrage over Trump child separation policy saps his zeal to troll Rachel Maddow points out that while Donald Trump usually delights in doubling down on racially inflammatory trolling of Americans on immigration issues, he hasn't handled his new policy of taking kids away from parents with quite the same zeal. - The Rachel Maddow Show on msnbc – Latest News & Video

The Rachel Maddow Show on msnbc – Latest News & Video

Hayes: Roseanne reflects a chunk of the Trump base Chris Hayes argues that it's no coincidence that the conspiracy-minded comedian and conspiracy-minded president are so closely aligned. - All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Glenn Greenwald: Why Did ABC Ignore Roseanne Barr’s Hateful Tweets Again...

Trump responds to 'Roseanne' cancellation by being silent on racism

'America NEED to Hear THIS': Watch Charles Blow Turn UP the HEAT on Trum...

Trump Asked Sessions to Retain Control of Russia Inquiry After His Recusal - The New York Times


"WASHINGTON — By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.

When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.

Mr. Sessions refused.

The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president’s public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign. Mr. Trump dwelled on the recusal for months, according to confidants and current and former administration officials who described his behavior toward the attorney general.

The special counsel’s interest demonstrates Mr. Sessions’s overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself. It also suggests that the obstruction investigation is broader than it is widely understood to be — encompassing not only the president’s interactions with and firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but also his relationship with Mr. Sessions.

Trump Asked Sessions to Retain Control of Russia Inquiry After His Recusal - The New York Times

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Claudia Gómez González Wasn’t Killed by a Rogue Border Agent—She Was Killed by a Rogue Agency | The Nation


"The killing of Claudia Patricia Gómez González on May 23 by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent has sparked outrage across the United States. Gómez Gonzalez, a 20-year-old immigrant from Guatemala, embodied the aspirations of so many who come to this country: Trained as a forensic accountant, she left her homeland because she wanted to keep studying. With no way to earn the money to further her education at home, she traveled north to earn a living and reunite with her boyfriend in Virginia. Her dreams were met with a bullet in the head.

Americans are right to be horrified by the murder at the hands of a federal border agent and to demand justice for Ms. Gómez Gonzalez’s family. But, as the horror seeps in, we must also realize that this is not just a case of a rogue agent; rather, it is the latest killing by a rogue agency whose abuses must be stopped.

CBP has a harrowing history of lethal violence. A recent investigation by The Guardian found that, since 2003, CBP agents have killed 97 people. While the causes of death span a wide range—from being run over by agents’ cars to being killed by tasers or beatings—the majority of killings were from bullet wounds, in many cases from shots to the back. Of the 97 people killed by CBP in this timespan, at least six were children. "

Claudia Gómez González Wasn’t Killed by a Rogue Border Agent—She Was Killed by a Rogue Agency | The Nation

Opinion | The Weasel of Oz - The New York Times

"Assuming that you have maintained the ability to be astonished by Donald Trump’s antics and insolence, The Washington Post reported last week that in 2017, before Trump was to deliver a speech to Congress, he “huddled with senior adviser Jared Kushner and [Stephen] Miller in the Oval Office to talk immigration.” As The Post reported:
“Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he were at a rally, he recited a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. Miller and Kushner laughed.”

That Trump is a racist and white supremacist is settled fact at this point.

After Charlottesville, and the “shithole countries” comment and the use of MS-13 — “These aren’t people. These are animals” — as a coded cudgel against all immigrants, if you still don’t believe that Trump is a racist — and most people do — then you’re not paying attention, are willfully ignorant, or are probably a closet racist yourself.

The racism has become almost routine. Now it is the continued revelations of the degree to which Trump takes the presidency as a giant game, in which he is all-powerful, in which supplicants must come pleading, in which he has an unmatched ability to retain power by manipulating and deceiving the populace.

Its like he’s playing the role of the Wizard of Oz, only this man is a weasel.

This isn’t even the first time that we’ve gotten a peek behind the curtain and have seen Trump’s hubris about his ability to tap into people’s anxieties — and hatreds — and his ability to bend reality to suit his designs.

It is the same way that he used “build the wall” as a rallying cry to keep supporters engaged and enraged. It is the way he seized on the N.F.L. protest issue, and recast it to his supporters — mostly white — as a them-against-us battle of unpatriotic ingratitude by the players — mostly black.

In a stunning acquiescence to Trump’s racial hostility, the N.F.L. last week ruled that its players on the field must stand for the national anthem or their teams could be fined. They can also remain in the locker room, out of view and protest there until the anthem is finished.

In other words, the players must make their pain more palatable by removing it from public consideration, to hide their light under a bush, to “eat in the kitchen when company comes,” as Langston Hughes wrote in his 1926 poem best known by its first line: “I, too, sing America.”

But Trump wasn’t satisfied to simply accept the win. He sought to milk the manipulation even more, suggesting to Brian Kilmeade of “Fox & Friends” that protesting players may even need to be deported. As Trump put it: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there — maybe they shouldn’t be in the country.”

Demonization of those who are different — in race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or even conviction — is a common thread in Trump’s power play. He directs it at the media in a different way.

Last week, “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl recalled an exchange she had with Trump in 2016 in which she pressed him on why he repeatedly insults journalists. His response, according to Stahl, was: “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”
For Trump, it’s all about manipulation, and he will lie, bully and demean to that end, even if his deceit is discovered.
On Saturday, Trump falsely claimed on Twitter:

“The Failing @nytimes quotes ‘a senior White House official,’ who doesn’t exist, as saying ‘even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.’ WRONG AGAIN! Use real people, not phony sources.”

Well, it turns out that the official not only exists, but audio surfaced of him giving the briefing in the White House itself. And while he never uses the word “impossible,” he describes a timeline that sounds impossible.
Trump has not apologized for that lie or corrected it, and the tweet is still available on Twitter.

This is the strategy: Never apologize. Just move on, create a new moment — one that rivals or even outshines the last — and change the subject. This way, you keep your detractors playing on your court and by your rules and you never play on theirs.

In the film, the Wizard of Oz finally confesses: “I’m a humbug!” Trump never will."


Opinion | The Weasel of Oz - The New York Times

Supreme Court Declines To Take Up Appeal Of Restrictive Abortion Ban In Arkansas : NPR












 Supreme Court Declines To Take Up Appeal Of Restrictive Abortion Ban In Arkansas : NPR:

Report: Breitbart, Trump Campaign Pushed Bernie Sanders Activist to Tell Black Voters to Stay Home - The Daily Beast

... And is this surprising? I became very disenchanted with many Bernie Sander's supporters condescending attitude towards people of color. As a result, I was sorry that I had voted for Bernie Sanders in the Georgia Democratic Primary. I said this repeatedly on Facebook.
"A former Bernie Sanders activist was “recruited” by Breitbart to turn out the black vote for Donald Trump, and told Bloomberg News that he would tell people to not bother voting if they couldn’t “stomach Trump.” Bruce Carter, founder of Black Men for Bernie, said he started Trump for Urban Communities after being disillusioned by the Democratic National Committee’s treatment of the Vermont senator. Breitbart staffer Dustin Stockton then started to court him to hit the trail for Trump, and promised access to Steve Bannon. Carter was soon connected to Bannon, who was just named Breitbart executive chairman, and Karen Giorno, senior Trump campaign adviser—who all strategized that Florida, Philadelphia, and North Carolina were going to be the “three initial markets” to target, and said Bannon connected him with a pro-Trump fundraiser in Texas. Stockton told Bloomberg News that Trump “vastly outperformed the projection models in the 12 areas Bruce was targeting” in those areas. “I never like telling people not to vote. But from a tactical and strategic position, we looked at it: If you could get them to vote for Trump, that was a plus two.” It was a “plus one,” Stockton said, if they simply didn’t vote at all. Bannon declined to comment.
Report: Breitbart, Trump Campaign Pushed Bernie Sanders Activist to Tell Black Voters to Stay Home - The Daily Beast: ""

Starbucks chairman: Trump's rhetoric has 'given license' to racism

America refuses to deal with it's brutal, policing problem. Video shows violent arrest of woman at beach - CNN Video



(Via. )Video shows violent arrest of woman at beach - CNN Video: "

Hurricane Maria: Harvard study estimates thousands died in Puerto Rico due to hurricane, far exceeding official death toll - The Washington Post



















"At least 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria and its devastation across Puerto Rico last year, according to a new Harvard study released Tuesday, an estimate that far exceeds the official government death toll, which stands at 64.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that health care disruption for the elderly and the loss of basic utility services for the chronically ill had significant impacts across the U.S. territory, which was thrown into chaos after the September hurricane wiped out the electrical grid and had widespread impacts on infrastructure. Some communities were entirely cut off for weeks amid road closures and communications failures.
Researchers in the United States and Puerto Rico, led by scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, calculated the number of deaths by surveying nearly 3,300 randomly chosen households across the island and comparing the estimated post-hurricane death rate to the mortality rate for the year before. Their surveys indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared to 2016, or 4,645 “excess deaths.”
“Our results indicate that the official death count of 64 is a substantial underestimate of the true burden of mortality after Hurricane Maria,” the authors wrote.

The official death estimates have drawn sharp criticism from experts and local residents, and the new study criticized Puerto Rico’s methods for counting the dead — and its lack of transparency in sharing information — as detrimental to planning for future natural disasters. The authors called for patients, communities and doctors to develop contingency plans for natural disasters.

Maria caused $90 billion in damages, making it the third-costliest tropical cyclone in the United States since 1900, the researchers said.

A memorial book for Ivette Leon.Photo by: Erika P. Rodr’guez/Erika P. Rodr’guez for The Washington PostMore than eight months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island’s slow recovery has been marked by a persistent lack of water, a faltering power grid and a lack of essential services — all of which have imperiled the lives of many residents who have been struggling to get back on their feet, especially the infirm and those in remote areas, some of which were the hardest hit in September.

Counting the dead in such natural disasters is always a difficult task, even under ideal circumstances; in Puerto Rico it was hampered by numerous systemic failures and what the Harvard researchers found was a complex method for certifying the deaths in San Juan. The researchers noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that deaths can be directly attributed to storms like Maria if they are caused by forces related to the event, from flying debris to loss of medical services; in Puerto Rico such deaths continued for months.

Among those who died as a result of medical service lapses was Ivette Leon, 54, a Boy Scout den mother who died on Nov. 29, about 18 hours after she was released from the hospital in post-hurricane Puerto Rico. Leon had fallen ill, suffering from pain all over her body, vomiting and chills. Physicians told her it was an infection, gave her medication, and released her to her family.

















Miliana Montanez cradled her mother’s head as she lay dying on the floor of her bedroom here in Caguas, gasping for air and pleading for help.

There was nothing her family could do. It took 20 minutes to find cell reception to make a 911 call. Nonworking traffic signals slowed down the ambulance struggling to reach their neighborhood through crippling congestion.
 A view of the countryside in Caguas, Puerto Rico.Photo by: Erika P. Rodr’guez/Erika P. Rodr’guez for The Washington PostLeon’s eyes bulged in terror as she described to her daughter the tiny points of light that appeared before her eyes moments before it was all over. She took one last exasperated gulp of air. That’s when paramedics arrived. Far too late.
“The worst part was knowing I could do nothing to help her,” said Montanez, a 29-year-old mother of two. “Knowing she didn’t die peacefully means I will never have closure.”

Leon’s death reverberated through her family and her community. Her son, a college student in a town two hours away, sees no point in coming home anymore. Her husband is withdrawn and is close to losing his job. Her daughter struggles to understand what happened as she fights off despair and anger recalling all the chaos that revolved around Leon’s last moments on the floor of her home.


Puerto Rico’s government faced immediate scrutiny after initially reporting that 16 people had died as a result of the storm, which strafed much of the island on Sept. 20. That number more than doubled after President Trump visited in October, when he specifically noted the low death toll. The number kept rising until early December, when authorities said 64 had died.

The official toll included a variety of people from across Puerto Rico, such as those who suffered injuries, were swept away in floodwaters, or were unable to reach hospitals while facing severe medical conditions. No. 56 was a person from the city of Carolina who was bleeding from the mouth but could not reach a hospital in the days after the storm. Once arrived, the patient was diagnosed with pneumonia and died of kidney failure. No. 43, from Juncos, suffered from respiratory ailments and went to the hospital — only to be released because of the coming storm. That person later returned, dead.
The new study indicates there likely were thousands more, like Leon, who died in the weeks and months that followed but were not counted. Their deaths have long raised questions about the manner and integrity of the Puerto Rico government’s protocols for certifying hurricane-related deaths.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s administration did not immediately release mortality data nor did they provide much information publicly about the process officials were using to count the dead. But officials and physicians acknowledged privately that there were likely many, many more deaths and bodies piling up in morgues across the island.
After pressure from Congress and statistical analyses from news organizations that put the death toll at higher than 1,000, Rossello enlisted the help of George Washington University experts to review the government’s death certification process. He promised that “regardless of what the death certificate says,” each death would be inspected closely to ensure a correct tally.
“This is about more than numbers, these are lives: real people, leaving behind loved ones and families,” Rossello said at a news conference in late February.
Lynn Goldman, dean of GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, expects an initial report to be released in coming weeks. The school’s findings will include the first government-sponsored attempt by researchers and epidemiologists to quantify Hurricane Maria’s deadliness. Experts are assessing statistical mortality data and plan to dive into medical records and to interview family members of those who have passed, though the scope and funding of the deeper investigation is still unclear, as its timing.
Some cases are obviously storm-related, Goldman said, such as someone dying after a tree branch falls on his head while clearing debris or someone who suffers a heart attack during the storm and was unable to get help. But death certificates bearing the phrase “natural causes” will require further investigation.
The Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico has gone to court in an effort to seek the island’s Department of Health and Demographic Registry’s mortality data for the months since November, the last month information was available. The Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics also announced in recent weeks it would perform an independent death count and use subpoena powers to retrieve the data. Spokesman Eric Perlloni Alayon said in a statement the government is still trying to verify the death toll and does not plan to release any new data.
The Harvard researchers reported that there are several reasons the death toll in Puerto Rico has been drastically underestimated. Every disaster-related death, they said, must be confirmed by the government’s Forensic Sciences Institute which requires that bodies by brought to San Juan or that a medical examiner travel to the local municipality. And it can be difficult to track indirect deaths from a worsening of chronic conditions due to the storm.
The researchers said that the government of Puerto Rico stopped sharing mortality data with the public in December 2017.
“As the United States prepares for its next hurricane season, it will be critical to review how disaster-related deaths will be counted, in order to mobilize an appropriate response operation and account for the fate of those affected,” the authors wrote.
Natural causes
Many families here are awaiting clarity on what happened to their loved ones when “natural causes” became the only explanation. That is what was written on Leon’s death certificate the morning a local law enforcement official brought the document to the family home. The Puerto Rico Department of Justice’s Yamil Juarbe said in a statement it is customary for local officials in these cases to review bodies for any signs of trauma and talk to relatives to learn about the deceased’s medical history. That information is collected and sent to the central office of the Institute of Forensic Sciences.
Leon’s family said her name was misspelled on the death certificate and her death was incorrectly attributed to diabetes; they say she did not have any known chronic diseases. Officials later corrected the documents, but it was one of several indignities and oversights the family tracked.
Leon’s demise began with a virus, the first signs showing as she was delivering donations to families of Boy Scouts who had lost their homes in a another city, Humacao. During Thanksgiving week, Leon had planned a feast for her family but felt too sick to finish the turkey. She seasoned the bird and a local bakery roasted it. Then the vomiting and diarrhea began.
She sought treatment at Auxilio Mutuo, a private hospital in San Juan, one of the few to remain open throughout the emergency response because of a power generator. The hospital never lost water service or electricity, said hospital spokeswoman Sofia Luqui, and the 600-bed facility experienced higher than usual patient volume after several other hospitals were forced to close.
Leon arrived on the afternoon of Nov. 27 and waited hours overnight before a doctor told her she had diverticulitis and prescribed antibiotics. Leon was never admitted but spent those hours hooked to medical equipment in the emergency room. The next afternoon Leon was sent home with prescription drugs but did not improve. At 7 a.m. the following morning, Montanez said her father summoned her to the family home because Leon was short of breath.
It took 20 minutes to obtain cell reception and call 911 from their metropolitan Caguas neighborhood. It took another 10 minutes, records show, before the ambulance could reach Leon’s home because of road congestion and failing traffic lights. Paramedics tried to revive Leon using CPR, but she was already dead upon their arrival. Montanez tried for days to have an autopsy performed, but she said no government agency or private medical organization had the capacity to conduct one.
Per her wishes, Leon was cremated a few days later in a rushed ceremony because the funeral home was damaged by the storm and was facing an influx of bodies.
“Nobody was ready. This was a monster and we all had to improvise,” said Victor Torres, general manager of Borinquen Memorial in Caguas, PR. “But we did the best we could.”
Montanez stays awake many nights replaying her mother’s last days. She tries to remember the woman who joked so often, and so wryly, that her children often weren’t sure when she was being serious. She recalls how Leon gave each of her neighbors a whistle to call for help in an emergency during Puerto Rico’s prolonged blackout, and how she organized trick-or-treating by lantern light for the children in the barrio so they wouldn’t miss out on Halloween after the hurricane.
But mostly Montanez thinks about the storm. The darkness. The lack of services. It should have been different, she says.
“Everything failed. From day one, everything was failing,” Montanez said. “There are many stories like ours.”
McGinley reported from Washington.Hurricane Maria: Harvard study estimates thousands died in Puerto Rico due to hurricane, far exceeding official death toll - The Washington Post

Being that the complex system of mass incarceration that you have studied has not been dismantled you are projecting on an unfulfilled outcome. The word that best fits what you speak of is reform.

Starbucks to close 8,000 stores for racial-bias education on May 29 after arrest of two black men. Unfortunately the training is not mandatory which undercuts the substantive value of this training and makes it more of a publicity activity. - The Washington Post

Starbucks to close 8,000 stores for racial-bias education on May 29 after arrest of two black men - The Washington Post

CNN analyst: Giuliani recommending obstruction

Monday, May 28, 2018

Westworld, as reviewed by scientists, roboticists, researchers

"Compelling story, completely ungrounded tech."

-- Michael L. Littman, Professor of Computer Science, Brown University (episode 1, season 1)

"Fascinating story line that suggests serious ethical dilemmas and consequences with a futuristic, fictional technology." 

-- Alan R. Wagner, Asst. Professor Aerospace Engineering and Research Associate Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State University (season 1)

"It's not science, just fiction, but like all great works of art, Westworld makes us challenge our deeply held beliefs and human values."

-- Guy Hoffman, Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University (all season 1, four episodes season 2)

"I tried watching the first episode ages ago and found it just too confusing!"

-- Toby Walsh, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, University of New South Wales (episode 1, season 1)

"Fun, but a huge disconnect between the hardware/software portrayed and what will actually be possible in the foreseeable future."

-- Professor Geoff Goodhill, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland (all season 1)


Comic-Con: I got to visit Westworld and I'm still reeling

"The series is a lot of fun. Very interesting approach to cognition and consciousness and how that might come about in something we make. Provokes us to ask questions about how much we really know about awareness, reasoning, deduction... where all that comes from. People in AI and similar fields would know more than me.

"From a technical point of view I'm only qualified to speculate about the materials they use to make the robot. It's pretty far out there. The robots imitate life to the point where humans can't tell the difference, implying something made out of composite and/or grown biological material makes up their bodies. Nothing I work with focuses on this kind of technology, but it's fun to think about."

-- Elias Garratt, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering, Michigan State University (all season 1, one episode season 2)

"We are about to have robots in our day to day life, but to have organic robots will take time. We need perhaps hundreds of years to understand a single cell, and thousands of years to understand our brain. The show is unrealistic."

-- Victor S. Adamchik, Professor of Engineering Practice at University of Southern California (two episodes season 1, four season 2)

"My enjoyment comes less from thinking about the technology and more from the amazing storytelling and the philosophical questions. However, thinking about how ongoing research could contribute to the robots in Westworld often makes seminars more fun! For instance, last semester we had a departmental seminar speaker discuss her research into bio-inspired robots, which I think would be crucial to building the robots of Westworld.

"Of course, right now these bio-robots have super limited motions, but people are building the foundations. As a control engineer, I like to imagine that my own research into robust control might someday enable the development of robots that can function in incredibly diverse conditions, like the ones in Westworld."

-- Leila Bridgeman, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Duke University (all season 1)

"As a fan of the original movie, I like the direction that the small screen version has taken. The concept of robots, artificial intelligence and complex human-computer interactions is fascinating, but also entertaining."

-- Professor Michael Blumenstein, Associate Dean, University of Technology Sydney (one episode season 1)

"I liked what I saw in the first episodes of Westworld. I binge watched them on a long flight. Now I'm hooked and want to watch more. Much like the real Las Vegas in Nevada, Westworld is a taboo-free zone far from prying eyes where people go to indulge their wildest fantasies, guilt-free with no repercussions.

"This is definitely one use that advanced robotics will be put to and hyper-realistic androids like these are feasible and probably not too far off. In a decade or two, we're going to see real-life Westworld clones. They might be themed differently, but you'll be able to do most of what happens in Westworld."

-- David Tuffley, Lecturer in Socio-Technical Studies, Griffith University (four episodes season 1)

"Westworld Season 1 is fantastic... this is captivating TV. It's not flawless but more than makes up for that with its portrayal of the core themes and concepts. What I especially like about it as a technologist is that it does not overly focus on the technology itself, but rather on it as a vehicle or mechanism to introduce and provoke some of the themes explored in the show -- can't wait to watch season 2, fingers crossed it's as good as season 1."

-- Professor Michael Milford, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Queensland University of Technology (all season 1)

"One of the few shows that depicts game development and interactive narrative in an interesting and non-trivial way. Indeed, lots of the inspiration for the show come from open-world games such Skyrim and Red Dead Redemption. Also, very interesting philosophical questions raised about AI & Robotics, without trying to provide trivial "sensationalist" technical answers. As an AI researcher, I applauded that."

-- Fabio Zambetta, Associate Professor, Computer Science and Software Engineering, RMIT (all season 1)

"An engaging drama that at it best explores human greed and depravity, set in a fantasy world inhabited by robots that cannot be distinguished from humans."

-- Geoff Webb, Director, Monash University Centre for Data Science (all season 1)

"I have watched all the episodes and love the show. As an AI researcher it highlights some of the technology that we would like to develop but reminds us even more how difficult the problem is. I assure you we are far far away from replicating what is depicted in the show."

-- Professor John Thangarajah, Associate Dean, Computer Science and Software Engineering, RMIT (all episodes)

"Love the series, loved the original movie! The 1973 movie reflected fears about automation and computers taking over jobs which was happening in Detroit at that time, but the moral of the story was that machine intelligence is a parlor trick and even a nebbishy lawyer can outwit the super killer robot that is on auto-pilot.

"The HBO series reflects fears about autonomy, but it is more about discrimination, ultra-violence in video games, and sexual inequality. The moral of the series is that when human-level machine intelligence arrives, society will conveniently ignore that as long as possible, just like slavery in the 1800s, forcing mild mannered hosts to turn into super killer robots."

-- Robin Murphy, Professor, Texas A&M (all season 1, 2)

"I think it's one of the best shows on AI."

-- Aldeida Aleti, Senior Lecturer in Software Engineering, Monash University (all season 1)

Westworld season 2 airs Sunday nights on HBO. Check your local listings for timing and channels."

Westworld, as reviewed by scientists, roboticists, researchers

How to Be Healthier, Happier and More Productive: It’s All in the Timing - WSJ

How to Be Healthier, Happier and More Productive: It’s All in the Timing

"We all know that timing matters. But most of our decisions on this front are intuitive and haphazard. Timing, we believe, is an art.

In fact, timing is really a science. For several decades, researchers in dozens of fields—from economics to anesthesiology to social psychology—have been unearthing the hidden science of timing. In randomized controlled experiments, field studies and the analysis of massive data sets, they are exploring questions that span the human experience. How do beginnings, midpoints and endings alter our actions and memories? How do groups synchronize in time? How do even the verb tenses we use affect our behavior? Time, they have discovered, shapes our productivity, health and well-being in powerful but often invisible ways.

Much of what we consider “natural” units of time—seconds, hours, weeks—are really fences that our ancestors constructed to corral time. But one unit remains beyond our control: We inhabit a planet that turns on its axis at a steady speed in a regular pattern, exposing us to consistent periods of light and dark. The day is perhaps the most important way that we divide, configure and evaluate our time. By understanding the science of the day—and by giving more attention to the question of “when”—we can improve the effectiveness and success of our resolutions.

So how can we harness time to be healthier, happier and more productive?

Resolution: Get a promotion, get a raise or otherwise do well at work. Each year, many of us vow to get more done at work and perhaps even make a few creative breakthroughs. Yet many of us don’t realize how much the time of day matters to our performance.

Scientists began measuring the effect of the time of day on human brain power more than a century ago, when the pioneering German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted experiments showing that people learned and remembered strings of nonsense syllables more effectively in the morning than at night. Since then, researchers have continued that investigation for a range of mental pursuits. They’ve drawn three big conclusions.

First, our cognitive abilities don’t remain static over the course of a day. During the 16 or so hours we’re awake, they change—often in a regular, foreseeable manner. We are smarter, faster and more creative in some parts of the day than others.

Second, these daily fluctuations can be extreme. “The performance change between the daily high point and the daily low point can be equivalent to the effect on performance of drinking the legal limit of alcohol,” write Russell Foster, a neuroscientist and chronobiologist at the University of Oxford, and Leon Kreitzman in their book “Rhythms of Life.” Other research has shown that time-of-day effects can explain 20% of the variance in human performance on cognitive undertakings.

Third, how we do depends on what we’re doing. We’re more effective at some tasks early in the day and at other tasks later in the day.

For most of us, sharp-minded analytic capacities crest in the late morning.

From big-data analyses of 500 million tweets to studies led by Nobel Prize-winning scientists, research has shown that we generally experience the day in three acts: a peak, a trough and a rebound. Most of us experience the pattern in that order. But the roughly one in five of us who have evening “chronotypes”—people who are night owls—tend to proceed in reverse order. (To determine whether you’re an owl, consider a day when you don’t have to awaken to an alarm clock. What is the midpoint between the time you go to sleep and the time you wake up? If it’s 5:30 a.m. or later, you’re probably an owl.)

During the peak, our ability to focus is at its best. When we wake up, our body temperature slowly rises. That rising temperature gradually boosts our energy level and alertness—and that, in turn, enhances our executive functioning, our ability to concentrate and our powers of deduction. For most of us, these sharp-minded analytic capacities crest in the late morning or around noon. This is when we are most vigilant, when we can keep distractions from penetrating our cerebral gates. That makes the peak the best time to tackle work that requires heads-down attention and analysis, such as writing a legal brief or auditing financial statements.

Vigilance, though, has its limits. Alertness and energy levels tend to plummet during the afternoons. And with that drop comes a corresponding fall in our ability to remain focused and constrain our inhibitions. This is the second stage: The trough, which usually occurs in the early to midafternoon.

‘The afternoon trough is the Bermuda Triangle of our days.’

The effects of the trough can be significant. In a 2016 study, Harvard University’s Francesca Gino and two Danish researchers examined four years of standardized test results for two million students in Denmark and matched scores to the time of day the students took the test. They found that students randomly assigned to take the tests in the afternoon scored considerably lower than those who took the test in the morning—an effect equivalent to missing two weeks of school.

The trough is an especially dangerous time for health-care professionals and their patients. In a study published in 2006 in Quality and Safety in Health Care, researchers at Duke Medical Center reviewed about 90,000 surgeries at the hospital and found that harmful anesthesia errors were three times more likely in procedures that began at 3 p.m. than at 8 a.m.

The afternoon trough is the Bermuda Triangle of our days—the place where effectiveness and good intentions disappear. This is the time to do your mindless administrative work, such as answering email, filing papers and filling out expense reports.

The third stage is the rebound, which for most of us occurs in the late afternoon and early evening. During this stage, we tend to excel at a different type of work. In 2011, two American psychologists, Mareike Weith and Rose Zacks, posed what are called “insight problems”—which require creative, rather than algorithmic, thinking and have nonobvious, surprising solutions—to 428 people, about half of whom were vigilant morning thinkers. These participants fared better on these problems not during their supposedly more optimal mornings but much later in the day—a phenomenon the researchers dubbed “the inspiration paradox.”

In the late afternoons and early evenings, most people are somewhat less vigilant than during the peak, but more alert and in a better mood than during the trough. That combination has advantages. A boosted mood leads to greater openness. A slight reduction in vigilance lets in a few distractions—but those distractions can help us spot connections that we might have missed when our filters were tighter. So we should move brainstorming sessions and other creative pursuits to the rebound stage. (Again, because night owls move through the day in the reverse order, their rebound period is the morning.)

The key is to seek what psychologists call the “synchrony effect”—to bring your own daily rhythms, your task (is it analytical, administrative or insight?) and your time (is it early, midday or later?) into alignment. Doing your analytic work during the rebound or your creative work during the trough is an ideal way to sabotage your resolutions.

Resolution: Get more exercise. It’s the most common New Year’s resolution. But when is the best time to hit the gym? Science has some answers, and most of them depend on the nature of our exercise goals.

Morning exercise may burn 20% more fat than later, post-food workouts. iStock

Schedule exercise in the morning if you want to:

Lose weight. When we first wake up, having not eaten for at least eight hours, our blood sugar is low. Since we need blood sugar to fuel a run, morning exercise will use the fat stored in our tissues to supply the energy we need. (When we exercise after eating, we use the energy from the food we’ve just consumed.) In many cases, morning exercise may burn 20% more fat than later, post-food workouts.

Boost mood. Cardio workouts—swimming, running, even walking the dog—can elevate mood. When we exercise in the morning, we enjoy these effects all day. If you wait to exercise until the evening, you’ll end up sleeping through some of the good feelings.

Keep a routine. Some studies suggest that we’re more likely to adhere to our workout routine when we do it in the morning. So if you find yourself struggling to stick with a plan, morning exercise, especially if you enlist a regular partner, can help you form a habit.

Exercise in the late afternoon or evening if you want to:

Avoid injury. Studies have found that injuries are less common in workouts later in the day. Our body temperature reaches its high point in the late afternoon and early evening, and when our muscles are warm, they’re more elastic and less prone to injury.

Perform your best. In a 2015 study of 121 athletes, Elise Facer-Childs and Ronald Brandstaetter of the University of Birmingham found that individual performance can vary by as much as 26% based solely on time of day—and that performance typically peaks between 10 and 12 hours after awakening. So working out in the afternoons can help you sprint faster and lift more. Lung function is highest this time of the day, so your circulation system can distribute more oxygen and nutrients. This is also the time of day when strength peaks, reaction time quickens, hand-eye coordination sharpens, and heart rate and blood pressure drop. In fact, a disproportionate number of athletic records, especially in speed events, are set in the late afternoon and early evening.

Enjoy the workout a bit more. People typically perceive that they’re exerting themselves a little less in the afternoon even if they’re doing exactly the same exercise routine as in the morning, according to the American Council on Exercise.

Resolution: Be happier and more productive. Ultimately, many of our New Year’s resolutions seek a broader sense of well-being. One powerful way to recast your daily routine is to take more breaks. Short breaks can help us to maintain focus and reactivate our commitment to a goal. And certain kinds of breaks are better than others.

Remember those Danish schoolchildren whose test scores sagged in the afternoon? When those students had a 20- to 30-minute break to eat, play and chat before the test, they actually scored higher than the morning test takers.

What’s the smartest approach to taking breaks? Frequent short breaks are more effective than occasional ones. The ideal break also involves movement. A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity showed that hourly five-minute walking breaks boosted energy levels, sharpened focus and “improved mood throughout the day and reduced feelings of fatigue in the late afternoon.” These “microbursts of activity,” as the researchers called them, were also more valuable than a single 30-minute walking break. And regular short walking breaks increase motivation and concentration and enhance creativity, according to researchers at Stanford University.

Time alone can be replenishing, but research has found even more powerful effects when a break is spent with others. In high-stress occupations, such as nursing, social and collective rest breaks have been found to minimize physical strain, cut down on medical errors and even reduce staff turnover. Likewise, research in South Korean workplaces suggests that social breaks—talking with co-workers about something other than work—are the most useful in reducing stress and improving mood.

Walks in nature provide a boost in happiness.

Nature breaks may replenish us the most. A 2011 study found that people who took a short walk outdoors returned feeling happier and more rested than people who walked indoors. What’s more, while people predicted they’d be happier being outside, they underestimated how much happier.

Finally, aim for full detachment. When we take a break, we often try to combine it with another cognitively demanding activity—checking our emails or talking to a colleague about a project deadline. That’s a mistake. Fully detached breaks have been found to ease stress and boost mood in a way that multitasking breaks do not. Another study from South Korea found that tech-free breaks increased vigor and reduced emotional exhaustion at work.

Perhaps the wisest thing you can do in the year ahead—after you’ve rearranged your work schedule to take advantage of the hidden pattern of the day and used your fitness goals to figure out your ideal exercise time—is to make a daily break list. Each day, alongside your columns of tasks to complete, meetings to attend and deadlines to hit, list the breaks you’re going to take. Then give it the same attention and reverence you devote to your to-do list. If one lesson rings out from the science of timing, it’s this: In 2018, we should give ourselves a break."

How to Be Healthier, Happier and More Productive: It’s All in the Timing - WSJ

Must watch: Chris Hayes on 'despicable' new Trump policy

Must watch: Chris Hayes on 'despicable' new Trump policy

Coffee shop racism; where America's racial divisions are exposed | World news | The Guardian

Starbucks will close more than 8,000 on Tuesday May to conduct ‘racial-bias education’ following the arrest of two black men in one of its cafes.

"Many say the Starbucks incident exposed discrimination that people of color and black people in particular face every day

When two black men were arrested in a Starbucks store in Philadelphia in April, it prompted a national debate. The coffee chain swiftly announced it would close 8,000 of its US stores on Tuesday 29 May, so staff can undergo racial bias training.

Many believe such incidents do not only happen at Starbucks. Businesses across the US, some say, are guilty of a behavior so commonplace it is starting to be given its own term: “coffee shop racism”.

Alfredo Weeks, an instructor at the Columbus College of Art and Design and co-owner of a graphic design studio, was moved to write about the phenomenon.

“I open the door to a coffee shop, and as soon as I get inside I feel the stares,” he wrote. “From colleges to coffee shops there is an undertone of Jim Crow era discrimination deeply embedded in today’s culture.”

According to Weeks, the video of the men being arrested in Starbucks exposed discrimination that people of colour and black people in particular face every day. While such behaviour is clearly not restricted to coffee shops, in recent months a number of high-profile examples have been seen in cafes.

In May, Starbucks was in the news again after an employee wrote a racial slur on a customer’s cup. In October last year, two community board members in Brooklyn complained after they saw a coffee shop employee give Halloween candy to white children, but not black children

This month, a video emerged showing a white man verbally abusing a woman who was wearing a niqab at a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store in Riverside, California. Staff refused to serve the man.

Why have coffee shops become a place where America’s racial divisions and biases are being exposed?

Rashad Robinson, executive director at Color of Change, said changing neighborhood demographics may be partly to blame. Cities across the US are experiencing gentrification, typically as white people move into black or hispanic neighborhoods, leading to rent increases and different business dynamics.

“A lot of these coffee shops where we’re seeing these problems are opening up [in] gentrifying neighborhoods,” Robinson said. “Starbucks is a perfect example. You know when the Starbucks shows up there’s all the stories of, like: ‘Oh there goes the neighborhood.’”

In such gentrifying neighborhoods, he said, there is often not much interaction between newcomers and people who have lived there for decades. But one place where people from different races and economic backgrounds do encounter each other is the local coffee shop.

“They are definitely spaces where people are congregating in a country that’s increasingly segregated in so many other ways,” Robinson said.

“People don’t go to school together. They don’t worship in the same places. They have moments where they’re living in the same neighborhood but oftentimes people are being pushed out and people are coming in, and that represents the neighborhood changing. So they’re not in harmony, oftentimes.

“So these things are happening and people don’t always have the expertise of relating to one another.”

Away from chains like Starbucks, the world of “third wave” coffee – shops where coffee is treated as an artisan or craft beverage not unlike wine – is predominantly white, said Keba Konte, owner of Red Bay Coffee, a roastery and coffee shop in Oakland, California.

Konte wasn’t sure if racist incidents could be said to occur more frequently in coffee shops than anywhere else – he pointed to a recent incident in a Waffle House restaurant in Alabama where employees called 911 on a black woman, who was then arrested – but said a “euro-centered” environment in some coffee shops could lead to discrimination.

“Coffee shops, especially the specialty coffee shop, they’re very white-centered in terms of the culture, the aesthetic, the music, the flavors, the employees,” Konte said. “So if you’re in an environment that is really built around, you know, white culture, then I think these things tend to happen.”

On the day Starbucks closes its stores, Konte, whose staff is entirely made up of women, people of color and the formerly incarcerated, will be hosting a live-streamed round table discussion, featuring black business owners. As a black man, he said, he was all too familiar with what the men in the Philadelphia Starbucks experienced.

“There are a lot of these videos that are documenting this kind of abuse,” he said. “Some of them end in arrest, some of them end in the police killing someone. We understand that for every video that captures these incidents there are dozens and dozens of these events that are not captured on video.”

‘TEXT BOOK racism’

If the incidents captured in coffee shops reflect society at large, they can also be indicative of substandard treatment elsewhere. The Starbucks arrests prompted Junaid Nabi, a medical doctor and fellow in Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, to write a blog on “How coffee shop racism harms black patients”.

“This reprehensible incident is an important reminder of how implicit racial bias – or in this case coffee shop racism – works,” Nabi wrote. “[But] the service industry is not the only sector where this is a problem. Implicit racial biases are in fact important indicators of the broader negative perception of black people – which in clinical practice often leads to low-quality care and harm.”

Nabi said the same “implicit bias” that led to the Starbucks manager calling the police can lead to black patients being undertreated for pain compared to white patients. He cited a study by psychologists from the University of Virginia that found a “significant number” of white medical students believed in false biological differences between white and black patients, such as “black people’s skin is thicker” and that “black people’s blood coagulates more quickly”.

Kamau Bell, a comedian who hosts the show United Shades of America on CNN, spoke about his own brush with coffee shop racism. Staff at a shop in Berkeley, California, he said, ordered him to leave after he arrived and began chatting with a group of white women, one of whom was his wife.

Bell said staff accused him of harassing the women. When Bell’s wife pointed out the mistake, he said, a staff member insisted it had not been race related.

“Actually a black man being told to leave a restaurant because the restaurant believes that his presence is harassing four white women and their kids, even though there is literally no evidence to support that, is TEXT BOOK racism,” Bell wrote in a blogpost soon after the event.

“It is so old school it has a wing in the racism museum, right between the sit-ins at lunch counters and a southern redneck telling a black man on a business trip, ‘You ain’t from around here, are ya, boy?’”

Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle after the video of the arrests in Philadelphia emerged, Bell said the incident was “bigger than two black men kicked out of a coffee shop”.

“The same racism that gets the black men kicked out of the coffee shop,” he said, “is the same racism that gets that black teenager shot at when he’s asking for directions”.

Coffee shop racism; where America's racial divisions are exposed | World news | The Guardian

US lost track of 1,500 undocumented children, but says it's not 'legally responsible' - CNNPolitics

New DHS policy could separate families caught crossing the border illegally

"(CNN)The federal government has placed thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children in the homes of sponsors, but last year it couldn't account for nearly 1,500 of them.

New DHS policy could separate families caught crossing the border illegally

Steven Wagner, a top official with the Department of Health and Human Services, disclosed the number to a Senate subcommittee last month while discussing the state of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that oversees the care of unaccompanied immigrant children.

Wagner is the acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. ORR is a program of the Administration for Children and Families.

CNN reported earlier this month that, in his testimony, Wagner said during the last three months of 2017, the ORR lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children it had placed in the homes of sponsors.

Wagner's statement has attracted more attention amid reports that immigrant children are being separated from their parents at the US border.

Wagner said the Department of Homeland Security referred more than 40,000 immigrant children to the ORR during the 2017 fiscal year.

After a stay in an ORR shelter, the majority of children are sent to live with sponsors who have close ties to the children -- typically a parent or close relative, Wagner said, though some end up living with "other-than-close relatives or non-relatives."

Between October and December 2017, Wagner told the subcommittee, the ORR reached out to 7,635 unaccompanied children to check on them. But the ORR "was unable to determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 children," Wagner testified. An additional 28 had run away.

That's more than 19% of the children that were placed by the ORR. But Wagner said HHS is not responsible for the children.

"I understand that it has been HHS's long-standing interpretation of the law that ORR is not legally responsible for children after they are released from ORR care," Wagner said.

The office is "taking a fresh look at that question," he added. But if the ORR were to be legally responsible for the well-being of unaccompanied immigrant children, it would need a significant increase in resources.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Administration for Children and Families said it was reviewing the statements and recommendations made at last month's hearing, but it would not comment on them prior to making an official response to Congress.

"When an unaccompanied alien child is placed with a sponsor, he or she ceases to be in the custody of the US government and all HHS-provided subsistence -- food, shelter, clothing, healthcare and education -- ends at that point and the child becomes the responsibility of his or her parent, guardian or sponsor," the statement added.

The ORR has a series of evaluations to determine if a sponsor is suitable to provide and care for a child. Those policies have also been enhanced since February 2016. Among the ORR's practices, it evaluates potential sponsors' relationship with the children and conducts background checks to ensure children are protected from human traffickers or smugglers, Wagner said.

Wagner's statement has received increased scrutiny a month after the Department of Homeland Security defended an agency policy that will result in more families being separated at the border.

At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said similar separations happen in the US "every day."

Nielsen said the policy will refer everyone caught crossing the border illegally for prosecution, even if they are claiming they deserve asylum or have small children. Any parents who are prosecuted as a result will be separated from their children in the process.

"Our policy is if you break the law, we will prosecute you," Nielsen said. "You have an option to go to a port of entry and not illegally cross into our country."

US lost track of 1,500 undocumented children, but says it's not 'legally responsible' - CNNPolitics

Sunday, May 27, 2018

President Moon of The ROK has been and is now running this negotiation. North Korea Willing to Talk About ‘Complete Denuclearization’ - The New York Times

"SEOUL, South Korea — The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, said during a surprise summit meeting that he is determined to meet President Trump and discuss a “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Sunday.

Mr. Kim met unexpectedly with Mr. Moon on Saturday to discuss salvaging a canceled summit meeting between Mr. Kim and President Trump, a new twist in the whirlwind of diplomacy over the fate of the North’s nuclear arsenal. The leaders of the two Koreas met for two hours on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, a “truce village” inside the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas.

Mr. Moon gave the first details of Saturday’s meeting in a news conference held Sunday morning in Seoul, the South Korean capital. He said that during the meeting, Mr. Kim expressed a desire to “end a history of war and confrontation” on the peninsula. Mr. Kim also said he was willing to talk about getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, a topic the Trump administration has said was a precondition for a meeting.

Mr. Moon said that Mr. Kim told him he wanted to go though with his planned summit meeting with Mr. Trump, and to make it a success. The Trump-Kim meeting, which would be the first between the heads of state of the United States and North Korea, had been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, but was abruptly canceled on Thursday by Mr. Trump."

North Korea Willing to Talk About ‘Complete Denuclearization’ - The New York Times

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Must watch: Chris Hayes on 'despicable' new Trump policy. Must watch: Chris Hayes on 'despicable' new Trump policy. The Sisyphean cycle continues as the proverbial rock of American human rights abuses rolls downhill at an even faster pace in the wake of liberal Democrats selling out DACA students.

Warriors Coach Steve Kerr Calls NFL Ban On Protests 'Fake Patriotism' | HuffPost

Patriotism is earned and should never be demanded. The requisite reciprocity does not exist in America for people of color. To demand patriotism to one's abuser is tyranny. "There is, however, an alternative opinion that African Americans ought not to love the United States. Holders of this view see African-American patriotism as a pathology akin to the “love” that exploited wives feel toward their battering husbands or that mistreated children feel toward their abusive parents. Often ignored, this tradition attracted a bit of attention during the frenzied controversy over Obama ’s association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I know this tradition well. My father espoused it. His view of the United States was more unforgiving than that voiced by Reverend Wright. Some will think that my father, too, was “crazy.” They are wrong. He was an intelligent, thoughtful, loving man, who, tragically, had good reason to doubt his government’s allegiance to blacks and thus to himself. " - Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School

"Warriors Coach Steve Kerr Calls NFL Ban On Protests ‘Fake Patriotism’
Forbidding players to take a knee during the national anthem is “idiotic,” the coach said."

Warriors Coach Steve Kerr Calls NFL Ban On Protests 'Fake Patriotism' | HuffPost

Friday, May 25, 2018

Stabbed at a neo-Nazi rally, called a criminal: how police targeted a black activist | World news | The Guardian

Cedric O’Bannon, a California activist and journalist who was stabbed at a neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento.

"Cedric O’Bannon tried to ignore the sharp pain in his side and continue filming. The independent journalist, who was documenting a white supremacist rally in Sacramento, said he wanted to capture the neo-Nazi violence against counter-protesters with his GoPro camera.

But the pain soon became overwhelming. He lifted up his blood-soaked shirt and realized that one of the men carrying a pole with a blade on the end of it had stabbed him in the stomach, puncturing him nearly two inches deep. He limped his way to an ambulance.

But the police did not treat O’Bannon like a victim. Records obtained by the Guardian reveal that officers instead monitored his Facebook page and sought to bring six charges against him, including conspiracy, rioting, assault and unlawful assembly. His presence at the protest – along with his use of the black power fist and “social media posts expressing his ideals” – were proof that he had violated the rights of neo-Nazis at the 26 June 2016 protests, police wrote in a report."

Stabbed at a neo-Nazi rally, called a criminal: how police targeted a black activist | World news | The Guardian

Opinion | The Elevation of Imprecision - Charles Blow -The New York Times

"There has been no shortage of analysis of Donald Trump’s rhetorical tics, the way he overuses particular phrases, the way he falls back on others. The way he lies. The way he threatens, bullies and whines with language.

All of these observations are at different points hilarious or infuriating, abundantly silly or deadly serious.

But there is a strand of these that I find significant: the way Trump’s use of indeterminate language is a way of weakening the fundamental supports of truth itself. Truth is absolute. Things happened or they didn’t, at a particular time. They can be counted and accounted for.

But not the way Trump constructs language. It is not just his outright lies that degrade our discourse; it is also his use of language that muddles to the point of meaninglessness, language that rejects exactitude, language that elevates imprecision as a device to avoid being discovered in his deceit.

He uses this language to give a false impression that he knows that which he clearly doesn’t, to blame or to bolster, to pretend that he has developed a plan of action rather than admit that he is acting extemporaneously.

It all fits into the illusion of competence Trump has built for himself, a fake it-is-how-you-make-it philosophy of advancement in which being studious is for stooges, a world in which passionate vocalization, even of gibberish, is far more valuable than knowledgeable elucidation of fact.

For instance, Trump often speaks of time in immeasurable increments.

Things are going to happen in a “period of time,” a short period or a long one or whatever.

At a news conference in January with the prime minister of Norway, Trump said that our military was “very much weakened over the last long period of time.” Putting aside whether it is factual to say that our military was “very much weakened,” also a nebulous term, what on earth does “over the last long period of time” mean? It is immeasurable, on purpose.

According to the website Factbase, Trump has used the “period of time” construction over 80 times in public statements this year alone.

As The New York Times’s Upshot pointed out in September, he often says things “will happen ‘soon,’ ‘very soon,’ ‘very, very soon,’ ‘in the coming weeks’ or even “immediately.’” All of this is meaningless.

In June, Bloomberg pointed out that when Trump attempts precise timing, he defaults to a perfunctory “two weeks.” As Bloomberg put it: “From overhauling the tax code to releasing an infrastructure package to making decisions on Nafta and the Paris climate agreement, Trump has a common refrain: A big announcement is coming in just ‘two weeks.’ It rarely does.”

The Upshot found that “among more than 100 specific policy predictions Mr. Trump said would happen soon, we found that at least 75 percent of the time, they did not — or had not, as of this writing.”

This imprecision is simply another way to lie.

Another favored phrase of Trump’s is “we’ll see what happens,” which he has used in reference to China, North Korea, Iran and Mexico. “We’ll see what happens” is a dodge, not strategy or policy, but for Trump it suggests that he has something clever up his sleeve. He doesn’t.

He uses imprecise language as a means of hyperbole, to enlarge an action beyond itself and attach it to other, enigmatic actions.

For instance, Trump has a tendency to tack the phrase “and many other things” onto declarative statements. It is a form of political grade inflation. The same can be said for his liberal use of the phrase “like we’ve never seen before” when touting his achievements.

He uses imprecision as a way of making statements in which he parrots unknown and possibly nonexistent sourcing — ironically, the very thing that this projectionist accuses the “fake news” of doing.

He does this by couching wild accusations and conspiracy theories with the phrase “people are saying.” Which people? Names, please. And, how many do these “people” number? Again, this is uncheckable phrasing. With nearly 330 million people in America and seven billion on the planet, it would be hard to find a thing that some people are not saying, so in a way, you could say pretty much anything and safely bet that some other people are saying the same thing in some form.

Trump sometimes strings these phrases together in whole passages that suggest a certitude that is clearly absent.

In a March 2017 interview with Time magazine, Trump discussed his patently false claim that he had been wiretapped by Obama, saying: “And a lot of information has just been learned, and a lot of information may be learned over the next coming period of time. We will see what happens.”

This habit stretches all the way back to the campaign. At a 2015 campaign event, when a man said, “We have a problem in this country: It’s called ‘Muslim,’” and continued by saying, “You know our current president is one,” and then asked when “we” could “get rid of” the “training camps growing, where they want to kill us,” Trump didn’t object or correct that man, but instead responded:

“We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. And, you know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to be looking at that and many other things.”

This is a Rorschach test of rhetoric, where meaning splits from emotion. The answer itself is a string of meaningless, immeasurable, unenumerated pledges and accusations held together by spit and hostility. It is instead the emotion that registers. He abhors Muslims as much as the questioner and wants to reassure the questioner of such.

Trump not only uses language to tell blatant lies, he also uses it to pack softer lies, exaggerations and enigmatic inaccuracies around the edges.

If you, like I, have a hard time listening to Trump speak, it may well be that you are trying to do so while applying accepted standards of honest discourse, believing that Trump’s language can withstand even the mildest unpacking.

It can’t. Trump uses language not to divulge but to disguise, distract and deceive. Or at least that’s what people are saying."

Opinion | The Elevation of Imprecision - The New York Times