Trump’s budget slashes child care for military families

Trump promised to improve child care for all working families. He’s not keeping his word.

❝ If President Trump has his way, more military families will struggle to find child care.

…Trump proposed a budget with a $100 million cut to child care and youth programs for military families. These programs provide early education programs to children aged 6 weeks to 12 years old as well as after-school and summer enrichment activities for school age children. In total, 700,000 children of military service members receive such services. The budget would defund these programs — despite calls for increased child care funding from military families and advocates.

The military has a model child care program designed to support the unique needs of military families. Ninety-five percent of programs are nationally accredited, and all teachers participate in training and professional development to improve their skills. Parents pay on a sliding scale based on their income so that programs are affordable for all service members.

And, yes, this is the sort of aid that should be available to all Americans.

❝ Cuts to child care could also have consequences for military spouses. About one in five military spouses are unemployed, often due to career interruptions from frequent relocations. Losing access to child care would become an added barrier for military spouses pursuing a career. In addition, many spouses rely on child care when the military parent is deployed to help them balance parenting alone.

❝ Throughout his campaign and into his presidency, Trump promised to bolster support for military personnel and to improve the affordability of child care for all working families. But Trump reneges on both of these promises in one fell swoop by proposing a cut to child care funding for military families.

I hope none of y’all expected Trump to come through on any promises that don’t involved tax cuts for corporations, the wealthiest Americans, racist and bigoted discrimination against all minorities including women. Trump thinks he owes nothing to folks who believed his blather, who voted for him.

40 questions for Jeff Sessions: Will Senators ask any/all of these? Which will be answered?

❝ US Attorney General…Jeff Sessions will testify in open session Tuesday afternoon before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

It will be his first public appearance on the Hill since Jan. 10, when he falsely said at his confirmation hearing: “I did not have communications with the Russians.”

❝ Here are a few of the subjects the nation’s chief law enforcement officer is likely to be pressed on during his testimony, which will take place in the same hearing room where Comey appeared last week:

Does Sessions believe Trump’s version of events over Comey’s? Does he take contemporaneous notes about his conversations with the president?

Sessions was involved in selecting Christopher Wray as FBI director. Did Sessions discuss either Comey’s termination or the Russia investigation during his job interview?

Does Sessions know if the tapes exist? If the tapes exist, does he believe the president is obligated to release them?

It goes on and on with sensible, questions requiring firsthand knowledge to answer – or fear to answer. I’m looking forward to seeing how many of these questions get asked by our leading Senators?

RTFA for the whole assembly of questions.

Generals Warn Trump He’s Surrendering U.S. Leadership in New Energy Policies

❝ Failure to adopt new energy technologies will hurt America’s chances to help slow climate change. It may also jeopardize U.S. global power and security.

“If we don’t want to necessarily repeat a lot of the tough lessons of the last 40 to 50 years,” said retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Richard Zilmer. “Better to plan now and get ahead of that — and control the process — than react to it.”

❝ The quest for cleaner and more efficient energy systems is already forging new trade ties and, consequently, political relationships, according to a report by Zilmer and 14 other former high-ranking military officials. Ultimately, those ties will bring “dramatic changes in global spheres of influence,” they wrote. China and European Union members are steering their economies into “the vanguard of manufacturing” and commerce, with the U.S. showing little competitive vision.

❝ Dismissing multiple decades of research into manmade climate change has been a common theme among Republicans who control Congress and now the White House. Dismissing market forces that push nations and industries to clean up while becoming more energy efficient, however, is another thing. The CNA Military Advisory Board report doesn’t mention “climate change” or “global warming,” but it makes clear that ignoring these market signals carries ominous implications for U.S. economic and national security.

❝ The report, called Advanced Energy and U.S. National Security [pdf], is the seventh analysis put out in 10 years by the nonprofit research group’s advisory board. Initiated in 2015, the study was led by 14 U.S. generals and admirals and a retired British Royal Navy rear admiral.

I doubt the current leadership of Congressional Republicans and their pimp in the White House could name very many military-based specialists in global energy policy. And I doubt Robert E. Lee wrote enough on the topic to catch their attention either.

A third of our nation’s honeybee colonies died last year

❝ An annual survey shows a third of America’s bee colonies were lost over the past year, and over 10 years, the numbers are even more troubling…

America’s beekeepers watched as a third of the country’s honeybee colonies were lost over the last year, part of a decade-long die-off experts said may threaten our food supply.

The annual survey of roughly 5,000 beekeepers showed the 33% dip from April 2016 to April 2017. The decrease is small compared to the survey’s previous 10 years, when the decrease hovered at roughly 40%. From 2012 to 2013, nearly half of the nation’s colonies died.

❝ “I would stop short of calling this ‘good’ news,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland. “Colony loss of more than 30% over the entire year is high. It’s hard to imagine any other agricultural sector being able to stay in business with such consistently high losses.”…

❝ One in every three bites of food, van Engelsdorp said, is directly or indirectly pollinated by honeybees, who pollinate about $15 billion worth of U.S. crops each year…

“Keeping bees healthy is really essential in order to meet that demand,” said vanEngelsdorp. He said there are concerns it won’t.

❝ So what’s killing the honeybees? Parasites, diseases, poor nutrition, and pesticides among many others. The chief killer is the varroa mite, a “lethal parasite,” which researchers said spreads among colonies…

vanEngelsdorp said people can do their part to save bee colonies by buying honey from a local beekeeper, becoming a beekeeper, avoiding using pesticides in your yard and making room for pollinators, such as honeybees, in your yard.

“Bees are good indicators of the landscape as a whole,” said Nathalie Steinhauer, who led data collection on the project. “To keep healthy bees, you need a good environment and you need your neighbors to keep healthy bees. Honeybee health is a community matter.”

Taking healthy care of the critters which fly and crawl around your own home patch are part of the larger environment for which we should all assume responsibility. Otherwise – we’re part responsible for the death and failure of that environment.

Dogs and wolves share a key sense of fair play

❝ The sense of fair play is an important human trait, but new research suggests that it’s a key behaviour for dogs and wolves as well.

In tests, if one animal was given a more substantial reward when performing a task, the other one downed tools completely.

❝ It had been felt that this aversion to unfairness was something that dogs had learned from humans.

But the tests with wolves suggest that this predates domestication of dogs.

❝ Scientists have long recognised that what they term a “sensitivity to inequity”, or a sense of fairness, played an important role in the evolution of co-operation between humans. Basically, if others treated you badly, you quickly learned to stop working with them.

Researchers believe that the behaviour is also found widely in non-human primates.

❝ Experiments in 2008 demonstrated that dogs also had this sensitivity. This new study shows that it’s also deeply ingrained in wolves.

The fact that the behaviour was found in both wolves and dogs helps to overturn the idea that dogs learned this concept because they were domesticated.

I’m not being political for the sake of ideology; but, I have to wonder what this says about our own species. Certainly here in the United States and in other nations where the phenomenon of populism is once again on the rise.

A pair of distinctive dialectical features of populism are fear and hatred of those who are somehow different from what “natives” consider normal. My only personal experience with this cultural hangup was working in the Deep South in the late 1960’s. I survived in the workplace by turning it into a joke. Literally placing a sign at the entrance to my department that said – DANGER…North American Wild Yankee…Do Not Feed. Pretty much everyone got the joke and usually tried to understand our social and political differences.

Still, the Confederacy hasn’t changed much. Political struggle has taken much power away from racists. Democracy has made inroads. But, the populist myths of fear and hatred persist and have taken significant control in today’s Republican Party. Shoving most traditional conservatives to the side in a quest for brute power.

Salty Snacks Sinking Along A Predictable Rich-Poor Divide

❝ Consumers are buying less salty packaged food, although still too much by some standards, according to a longitudinal study of more than 170,000 households that used barcode scanners to record all packaged food purchases for a year as part of the Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panel.

❝ Total sodium from packaged food purchases decreased significantly between 2000 and 2014 (by 396 mg/d per capita). Sodium content of packaged foods also dropped overall by 12% over that 15-year period, which extended to all of the most salty foods, particularly condiments, sauces, and dips.

Still, the researchers noted in the paper in JAMA Internal Medicine that there is room for further reduction as more than 98% of households had packaged food purchases containing more than “optimal” levels of sodium…

❝ Two analyses in JAMA Cardiology of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from the past 10 and 15 years, respectively, showed that income still matters for cardiovascular risk factors.

One showed that predicted cardiovascular event risk, smoking rates, and blood pressure improved in high-income groups but not among people at or below the federal poverty level. The other showed persistent gaps between the lowest and highest income groups for diabetes, dyslipidemia, and obesity as well as a widening gap in prevalence of hypertension and in smoking.

Anyone surprised when cultural and income differences reinforce poor choices?

Congressional-Creeps are so corrupt they believe everyone must be as crooked as they are


$50 worth of Post-Its and worth every penny!

❝ The Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives is considering a major reform of the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 — a federal law which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the public sphere (at work, in schools, riding public transit, and in all spaces open to the general public, including privately-owned businesses). For example, under the ADA, businesses open to the public, such as restaurants or pharmacies, need to be wheelchair accessible.

❝ The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (HR 620) seems like a rather innocuous bill at first glance — it compels the Department of Justice to formulate a program that educates state and local officials and business owners on “strategies for promoting access to public accommodations for persons with a disability.” A prime example of fatty, ostensibly meaningless Washington wonk-speak. But it goes further — the bill, if passed, would prohibit civil suits arising out of a failure to provide adequate access to public accommodations for the disabled unless the plaintiff provides offending property owners with a written notice…blah, blah, blah…Owners would then have 60 days to respond with a written plan for improvement, and an additional 120 days to correct the deficiency, or at least demonstrate sufficient progress towards a correction…

❝ Sponsored by Texas representative Ted Poe, a Republican, along with two Republican and three Democratic colleagues all from Texas and California, HR 620 aims to “curb frivolous lawsuits filed by cash-hungry attorneys and plaintiffs that abuse the ADA,”…

With a so-called president who likes to imitate disabled Americans, this may be the right time for “America’s leading criminal class” [thank you Sam Clemens] to take back some of the parking places they feel should be theirs for class loyalty or whatever.

Right-wing moneygrubbers say they are being silenced by the folks who sign the checks

❝ There is a delicious irony when free market zealots become victims of the very system they celebrate…When the market tells them: “You know what? You’re losing us money. We couldn’t care less what you did or how much you made for us yesterday. Get lost.”…

❝ For critics and scholars who have for decades pointed to the acute dangers connected to corporate control of the media, howling from the far-right over O’Reilly, Hopkins and Hannity rings hollow for a couple of reasons.

First, an individual who invokes Nazi ethnic cleaning terminology in relation to Muslims, or was involved in so many sexual harassment lawsuits that his employer had to pay $13m in settlement deals, are hardly poster children for journalistic free speech. At the broader level, however, these are people who have served a political ideology that has pushed deregulated markets conducive to the concentration of corporate control – which in the case of media also means excessive advertiser influence…

❝ Breitbart, Fox News, the Daily Mail and Daily Express are all alive and well. Bill O’Reilly wasn’t replaced by Noam Chomsky. He was replaced by Tucker Carlson, who provides a very similar brand of far-right vitriol … just without the sexual harassment accusations. And will LBC now be bereft of far-right anti-immigration voices? Fear not. You can always tune in to Nigel Farage’s show on the same station.

❝ So when senior people at Breitbart and on-air talent at Fox News start saying they are only now realizing the extent of corporate and advertiser power? Cry me a river. They are liars, naïve or have been in a coma for the last 50 years.

RTFA for more dissecting of rightwing moneybags whining about losing their profitable squeeze. Couldn’t happen to a more perfect class of hypocrites and scumbags. Profits are still more important than people, guys. Isn’t that what you wanted?

Chart of the Day: Coal Mining in America

❝ OK, here’s a post with an image in it. And what better way than to visually deconstruct a Trump administration lie? Here is EPA chief Scott Pruitt this weekend:

Since the fourth quarter of last year until most recently, we’ve added almost 50,000 jobs in the coal sector. In the month of May alone, almost 7,000 jobs.

❝ And here’s the truth:

The actual increase since October is 1,700 jobs. But hey, that’s “almost” 50,000 jobs…

Not certain which strays furthest from truth and reality. Deliberate lies from thugs like Pruitt and his boss — or the self-delusion of Trump chumps, the folks who voted him into office and accept this crap as gospel.