Stealing from American taxpayers is still theft.
❝ A sense of humor, appreciation of a good joke, knowing when to let the stupid ones go, and the ability to tell the difference is a very basic part of human socialization and the ability to interact with others. Donald Trump’s inability to do so is a central part of his character, and everything he’s ever done is an indication that he possesses the dullest of minds, a feeble flesh so consumed with superficiality and the selfishness of ego, so obsessed with the perceptions of others and protecting the fragile shell of his self-worth that he is incapable of appreciating the wonders and the miracles that five thousand years of human civilization have to offer to him. This leaves him devoid of leadership qualities. More significantly, since he has a fundamental lack of appreciation for what our country is and what it can produce and what people have to offer, how can he be trusted to guide this nation into the future?
❝ Miriam Grunstein is an attorney and former advisor to the Mexican Senate on energy and international law. Legislation has been proposed at the Mexican Senate that bans the use of public funds on any project that is “against the country’s interest.” That’s widely taken to mean the wall.
“Just because of, you know, tantrums, we could really waste a golden opportunity of uniting,” Grunstein said.
❝ The proposed Mexican legislation would lead to a review of some of the most fundamental treaties between the two countries, among them the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe. The treaty ceded Texas and California, as well as parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming to the U.S.
❝ The bill also states, “in cases where the assets of our fellow citizens or companies are affected by a foreign government, as Donald Trump has threatened, the Mexican government should proportionally expropriate assets and properties of foreigners from that country on our territory.”
Translated that means that should Trump follow through on threats to expand the wall, withdraw U.S. participation in NAFTA or stop remittances, Mexico could target U.S. assets in Mexico. Assets estimated by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative at over $100 billion.
Trump’s blather seems to have drawn a film of ignorance over the brains of many papier-mache journalists. Favorite example? Financial analysts who wonder why housing construction “suddenly” lacks sufficient skilled and/or experienced labor to meet demand.
Reason 1: Greedy contractors who put Mexican immigrant labor to work for cheaper than trained native workers. Driving the latter from that jobs market a couple of decades ago.
Reason 2: The Great Bush Recession killed many of those jobs. Folks went back to Mexico. Harder to return, now – especially since many of those who returned to Mexico now have jobs back home. Why come here to get their chops busted all over again?
❝ The religious left is the Sasquatch of American politics. It leaves footprints in the snow but recent sightings of the creature itself are rare, and not always credible.
Progressive politics is dominated by secular ideals and, increasingly, secular voters. In recent decades, the words “Christian” and “evangelical” have been commandeered as synonyms for “white conservative.” Religious liberals never achieved the power of their conservative opposites…The once-explosive growth of conservative evangelicals has stalled. Yet the religious left doesn’t appear to be benefiting much.
Instead, the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated are growing. A 2016 report by the Public Religion Research Institute stated: “Today, one-quarter (25 percent) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest ‘religious group’ in the U.S.”
❝ Yet if ever there were a moment for the left to seize the mantle of religion from conservatives, surely it arrives Jan. 20 at noon. Donald Trump received the votes of four in five white evangelical or born-again Christians. Hypocrisy is as old as humanity, but even hypocrisy has a gross weight limit.
Christian conservatives are now inextricably tied to an incoming president with a long, public history of exploiting the weak, and no documented history of charity, faith or Christian communion or witness. They have endorsed a First Lady whose modeling career included a pornographic photo shoot described by the Trump-friendly New York Post as “girl on girl.” Even among the plaster saints of the religious right, Trump is a heavy burden to bear.
❝ Sojourners is one of the groups seeking to rally the religious left. “Our Constitution’s protection of religious freedom empowers faith institutions to oppose state-sanctioned bigotry and violence and creates strong sanctuaries for those Jesus called the ‘least of these’ in Matthew 25,” said Lisa Sharon Harper…
A coalition of groups has launched the “Matthew 25” initiative to fight an expected barrage of federal policies targeting the most vulnerable — including the poor, immigrants and Muslims. “These people are organizing under the banner of Jesus,” Harper said.
❝ In North Carolina, the liberal “Moral Mondays” movement has been partially credited with the election in November of Democrat Roy Cooper as governor. The success of the movement — named for weekly public demonstrations against the conservative legislature and incumbent governor — is a powerful precedent. It gained momentum not only because of charismatic religious leadership, but because of unusually aggressive Republican efforts to undermine voting rights and cut funding for education and services…
❝ Trump’s regular shocks to decency, along with an expected Republican assault on funding for the poor, will outrage both secular liberals and the religious left. But will that be enough to bring the left’s religious Sasquatch out of hiding?
I have no idea. Being an old cranky geek, I’m less likely to find myself marching than blogging, nowadays.
There was a time when I could count on cellmates who were priests, partners canvassing door-to-door who were nuns, family and friends who learned childhood ethics in Protestant Yankee denominations who dedicated time and effort to the betterment of life on earth – instead of preaching faith in Wall Street dollar$ over old-timey Christian values.
I wish Sojourners well. Same to the brave folks leading the activism of Moral Monday in Confederate and other Republican states. I respect your courage and integrity. As I always have. But, I surely wish you had more friends.
Yup, here comes 2017. Dumb and dumber.
Thanks, Ian Bremmer
❝ In 1942, Bill Manbo and his family were forced from their Hollywood home into the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, a Japanese American internment camp in Wyoming. While there, Manbo documented both the bleakness and beauty of his surroundings using Kodachrome film—a technology then just seven years old—to capture community celebrations and to record his family’s struggle to maintain a normal life under the harsh conditions of racial imprisonment.
We live in a nation cruel enough, racist, sufficiently ignorant to repeat both the crime and folly of concentration camps for Americans judged by their religion, ethnicity, whatever trips the trigger of bigotry.
I fear we may yet repeat this crime.
❝ France employees are getting the legal right to avoid work emails outside working hours…The new law, which has been dubbed the “right to disconnect”, comes into force on 1 January.
Companies with more than 50 workers will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails…
❝ The measure is part of a set of labour laws introduced in May…It was the only one of the laws – which also made it easier for firms to hire and fire employees – that did not generate widespread protest and strikes.
I’ll second that emotion. For most occupations, companies requiring email attention on your own time are folks I wouldn’t recommend working for.
Yes, there are exceptions. That’s not what this is about.
❝ Being overweight can raise your blood pressure, cholesterol and risk for developing diabetes. It could be bad for your brain, too.
A diet high in saturated fats and sugars, the so-called Western diet, actually affects the parts of the brain that are important to memory and make people more likely to crave the unhealthful food, says psychologist Terry Davidson…
❝ He didn’t start out studying what people ate. Instead, he was interested in learning more about the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s heavily involved in memory…He did that by studying rats that had very specific types of hippocampal damage and seeing what happened to them.
In the process, Davidson noticed something strange. The rats with the hippocampal damage would go to pick up food more often than the other rats, but they would eat a little bit, then drop it.
Davidson realized these rats didn’t know they were full. He says something similar may happen in human brains when people eat a diet high in fat and sugar. Davidson says there’s a vicious cycle of bad diets and brain changes. He points to a 2015 study…that found obese children performed more poorly on memory tasks that test the hippocampus compared with kids who weren’t overweight.
❝ He says if our brain system is impaired by that kind of diet, “that makes it more difficult for us to stop eating that diet. … I think the evidence is fairly substantial that you have an effect of these diets and obesity on brain function and cognitive function.”…
❝ Davidson is…moving forward by studying how to break the vicious cycle of a Western diet, obesity and brain changes. But he says the underlying idea that obesity affects the brain is clear.
“It’s surprising to me that people would question that obesity would have a negative effect on the brain, because it has a negative effect on so many other bodily systems,” he says, adding, why would “the brain would be spared?”
Another smartass scientist who lets sound logic and data get in the way of profits from corporations producing and selling crap food. Will they never learn?
RTFA for a range of studies that move from correlation to causation.