Ritual and Political Rape

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'Handmaids' at Statehouses

Mary Emily O'Hara

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They've appeared in Texas, Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, California, and New York; cloaked in stark red robes and white bonnets, the women sit in silence with their faces turned down, subdued and still yet quietly creepy.

While a new television show has brought Margaret Atwood's dystopian sci-fi book "The Handmaid's Tale" newfound popularity, women around the country are bringing handmaids to life -- and to their state capital buildings -- for reasons that have more to do with science than fiction.

At the New York state legislature in Albany on Wednesday, handmaids appeared for the third day in a row to silently urge lawmakers to bring a floor vote on two reproductive health bills they say would protect women against potential federal restrictions many fear the Trump administration could bring.

They've appeared in Texas, Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, California, and New York; cloaked in stark red robes and white bonnets, the women sit in silence with their faces turned down, subdued and still yet quietly creepy.

While a new television show has brought Margaret Atwood's dystopian sci-fi book "The Handmaid's Tale" newfound popularity, women around the country are bringing handmaids to life -- and to their state capital buildings -- for reasons that have more to do with science than fiction.

At the New York state legislature in Albany on Wednesday, handmaids appeared for the third day in a row to silently urge lawmakers to bring a floor vote on two reproductive health bills they say would protect women against potential federal restrictions many fear the Trump administration could bring.

Vanessa Giraldo, a Brooklyn resident who works with special-needs children, took two days off work to take part in the demonstration Monday and Tuesday.

"We're trying to pass the Reproductive Health Act in order to at least protect New Yorkers because the federal landscape is very hostile to women's reproductive rights," said Giraldo.

Giraldo said that standing before her state's leaders stock-still in the restrictive garb was "terrifying" but powerful: "It felt like, this could very well be our future. And it's definitely our past."

In Atwood's dystopian novel -- and the Hulu show based on the book -- handmaids are slave women forced to serve as reproductive vessels for powerful but infertile elites. Ritually raped and made to become pregnant over and over, the handmaids are little more than walking wombs with no say over their own lives.


Rest of Article

Gov't admits lying about drugs

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New Docuseries Aims to Factcheck 'America's War on Drugs'

by Marissa Evans

When Gary Webb's investigative series, "Dark Alliance," came out in the San Jose Mercury-News in 1996 alleging the Central Intelligence Agency was involved in the importation of cocaine into South Central Los Angeles, many people in the Black community claimed the articles proved the CIA deliberately was out to destroy Black people, and a long-standing urban conspiracy theory was born.

Webb's story has since been removed from the Mercury News website, and resulted in a two-part CIA report released in 1998 on cocaine and the agency's involvement in drug trafficking investigations, it fueled deep distrust among the Black community that is still present today.

Anthony Lappé, an executive producer behind the History Channel's new documentary series "America's War on Drugs," says that although these theories around federal agencies injecting drugs into the Black community have swirled for years, this new docu-series will reveal that they're just not true.

But the documentary also makes the case that Blacks were victims caught in the melee of CIA operations and President Richard Nixon's desire to have a "law and order" administration in the 1970s through the war on drugs.

Christian Parenti, a New York University professor interviewed in the documentary, said the trick with the war on drugs was to deal with a variety of things outside of the government's control.

"The war on drugs brought together the peace movement, the hippies, the counterculture, African Americans, all of this stuff can be captured and addressed by force with law enforcement under the rubric of the war on drugs," Parenti said.


When Gary Webb's investigative series, "Dark Alliance," came out in the San Jose Mercury-News in 1996 alleging the Central Intelligence Agency was involved in the importation of cocaine into South Central Los Angeles, many people in the Black community claimed the articles proved the CIA deliberately was out to destroy Black people, and a long-standing urban conspiracy theory was born.

Webb's story has since been removed from the Mercury News website, and resulted in a two-part CIA report released in 1998 on cocaine and the agency's involvement in drug trafficking investigations, it fueled deep distrust among the Black community that is still present today.

Anthony Lappé, an executive producer behind the History Channel's new documentary series "America's War on Drugs," says that although these theories around federal agencies injecting drugs into the Black community have swirled for years, this new docu-series will reveal that they're just not true.

"Of course it wasn't any kind of genocidal experiment or anything like that, what it was is the CIA basically being the CIA," Lappé said. "They're completely amoral and they don't really look at the long term blowback effects of their operations."

"America's War on Drugs" four-part series beginning Sunday night comes as the U.S. fights a raging prescription opioid addiction crisis and increase in heroin use. The series also comes just a month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he will instruct federal prosecutors to enforce so-called mandatory minimum sentences on gun and drug offenses. While Sessions says this is meant to help get criminals off of the streets, opponents say it will mean going back to the days of harsh sentencing that will likely have profound effects on people of color.

Related: Black Lives Matter Chicago Sues City, Seeks Court Oversight of Police Reform

Lappé, alongside Julian P. Hobbs, Elli Hakami, spent a year conducting dozens and dozens of interviews with former CIA officers, Drug Enforcement Agency officers, historians and more. The crew takes viewers through an eight hour journey crisscrossing the world and deconstructing how the U.S. "war on drugs" truly began through interviews, old footage, and reenactments.

What they uncover is that America's history with drugs is intertwined with fears of communism, rogue drug mobsters and warlords, the failed takedown of Fidel Castro in 1961, the Vietnam War, infighting between the DEA and CIA, and drugs -- including LSD, heroin and cocaine -- slowly making waves in communities.
"America's War on Drugs"
Amado celebrates his rise to power at home. "America's War on Drugs" premieres Sunday, June 18 at 9PM ET/PT. Talos Films/HISTORY

But the documentary also makes the case that Blacks were victims caught in the melee of CIA operations and President Richard Nixon's desire to have a "law and order" administration in the 1970s through the war on drugs.

Christian Parenti, a New York University professor interviewed in the documentary, said the trick with the war on drugs was to deal with a variety of things outside of the government's control.

"The war on drugs brought together the peace movement, the hippies, the counterculture, African Americans, all of this stuff can be captured and addressed by force with law enforcement under the rubric of the war on drugs," Parenti said.

Toward the end of the first episode, the creators of the series include a taped conversation between John Ehrlichman, counsel and chief domestic advisor under President Richard Nixon and a Harper's Magazine journalist decades after the "war on drugs" is declared. It's there that Ehrlichman makes a chilling admission.

"The Nixon campaign had two enemies, the antiwar left and Black people," Ehrlichman said. "We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or Black but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and the blacks with heroin and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

Chris Hedges on Resisting Trump

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Truthdig columnist & Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges speaks at the Aladdin Theater for KBOO Community Radio on May 26th, 2017. Hedges takes a provocative look at the current state of revolt in the United States and recounts the US's continuing history of domestic terrorism while outlining ways for communities to resist before it's too late.

Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, a longtime teacher in prisons, is working with 28 of his students to stage a play the incarcerated men collectively created. "CAGED" was born in a New Jersey prison during a course taught by Hedges and was the subject of a 2013 column he wrote for Truthdig.

The play centers on the horrors of mass incarceration and how the prisoners' lives in impoverished urban communities put them on paths that ended in the grim cells of the United States' prison-industrial complex.

Now the Pulitzer-winning journalist and the students are engaged in a special project to stage the play for the first time and to produce a book about the endeavor. (One of the 28 is now a free man and a key force in the effort.)

The project--co-sponsored by Truthdig and Passage Theatre, the Trenton, N.J., site of the proposed premiere--is funded primarily by a Kickstarter campaign that runs through the end of June. Your support is essential. Go to Kickstarter now to help put this extraordinary stage work before the American public. "CAGED" should be let out of prison.

Parfait

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Macron Invites Americans to Move to France to Research Climate Change

by Daniel Arkin

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French President Emmanuel Macron is hitting back at President Donald Trump over the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord with a new website that encourages scientists and researchers to move to France.

The website, Make Our Planet Great Again, parodies Trump's campaign slogan and calls on "all responsible citizens" to take their fight against climate change to France.

"The planet needs your innovative skills," Macron says in an introduction to the site, echoing appeals he has made in other recent remarks. "So, are you IN to change (literally!) our daily lives and make our planet great again?"

They Shoot Horses Don't They

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Making Ignorance Great Again

P. Krugman

Donald Trump just took us out of the Paris climate accord for no good reason.

I don't mean that his decision was wrong. I mean, literally, that he didn't offer any substantive justification for that decision. Oh, he threw around a few numbers about supposed job losses, but nobody believes that he knows or cares where those numbers came from. It was just what he felt like doing.

And here's the thing: What just happened on climate isn't an unusual case -- and Trump isn't especially unusual for a modern Republican. For today's G.O.P. doesn't do substance; it doesn't assemble evidence, or do analysis to formulate or even to justify its policy positions. Facts and hard thinking aren't wanted, and anyone who tries to bring such things into the discussion is the enemy.

Consider another huge policy area, health care. How was Trumpcare put together? Did the administration and its allies consult with experts, study previous experience with health reform, and try to devise a plan that made sense? Of course not. In fact, House leaders made a point of ramming a bill through before the Congressional Budget Office, or for that matter anyone else, could assess its likely impact.

When the budget office did weigh in, its conclusions were what you might expect: If you make huge cuts in Medicaid and reduce subsidies for private insurance -- all so you can cut taxes on the wealthy -- a lot of people are going to lose coverage. Is 23 million a good estimate of those losses? Yes -- it might be 18 million, or it might be 28 million, but surely it would be in that range.

So how did the administration respond? By trying to shoot the messenger. Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, attacked the C.B.O., declaring that it did a "miserable" job of forecasting the effects of Obamacare. (It got some things wrong, but overall did pretty well.) He also accused the office -- headed by a former Bush administration economist chosen by Republicans -- of political bias, and smeared its top health expert in particular.

So, Mr. Mulvaney, where's your assessment of Trumpcare? You had plenty of resources to do your own study before trying to pass a bill. What did you find? (Actually, the White House did do an internal analysis of an earlier version of Trumpcare, which was leaked to Politico. Its predictions were even more dire than those from the C.B.O.)

But Mulvaney and his party don't study issues, they just decide, and attack the motives of anyone who questions their decisions.

Which brings us back to climate policy.

On climate change, influential conservatives have for years clung to what is basically a crazy conspiracy theory -- that the overwhelming scientific consensus that the earth is warming due to greenhouse-gas emissions is a hoax, somehow coordinated by thousands of researchers around the world. And at this point this is effectively the mainstream Republican position.

Do G.O.P. leaders really think this conspiracy theory is true? The answer, surely, is that they don't care. Truth, as something that exists apart from and in possible opposition to political convenience, is no longer part of their philosophical universe.

The same goes for claims that trying to rein in emissions will do terrible economic damage and destroy millions of jobs. Such claims are, if you think about it, completely inconsistent with everything Republicans supposedly believe about economics.

After all, they insist that the private sector is infinitely flexible and innovative; the magic of the marketplace can solve all problems. But then they claim that these magical markets would roll over and die if we put a modest price on carbon emissions, which is basically what climate policy would do. This doesn't make any sense -- but it's not supposed to. Republicans want to keep burning coal, and they'll say whatever helps produce that outcome.

And as health care and climate go, so goes everything else. Can you think of any major policy area where the G.O.P. hasn't gone post-truth? Take budgeting, where leaders like Paul Ryan have always justified tax cuts for the rich by claiming the ability to conjure up trillions in extra revenue and savings in some unspecified way. The Trump-Mulvaney budget, which not only pulls $2 trillion out of thin air but counts it twice, takes the game to a new level, but it's not that much of a departure.

But does any of it matter? The president, backed by his party, is talking nonsense, destroying American credibility day by day. But hey, stocks are up, so what's the problem?

Well, bear in mind that so far Trump hasn't faced a single crisis not of his own making. As George Orwell noted many years ago in his essay "In Front of Your Nose," people can indeed talk nonsense for a very long time, without paying an obvious price. But "sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." Now there's a happy thought.

Mow-nado?

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In this Friday, June 2, 2017, photo provided by Cecilia Wessels via The Canadian Press, Theunis Wessels mows his lawn at his home in Three Hills, Alberta, as a tornado swirls in the background. Cecilia Wessels, who took the image of her husband to show the tornado to her parents in South Africa, said that the twister wasn't as close it appears. (Cecilia Wessels/The Canadian Press via AP)

Not a Book for Children

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The Spurious Scandal of 'Communism for Kids'

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Jacob Blumenfeld

To the dismay of parents everywhere, the MIT Press recently published a little red and white book titled "Communism for Kids." It teaches children how to run gulags, imitate genocidal dictators, praise Satan and pretty much destroy Western civilization -- all for a reasonable price of $12.95. The author proudly endorses Barack Obama, Joseph Stalin, Bernie Sanders, Mao, Fidel Castro and millions of other communists who murdered 80 billion people, all the while surreptitiously spreading Jewish, queer and anti-American values to the next generation of freedom-seeking youngsters. At least, that's more or less the story according to Breitbart, National Review, American Conservative, The Daily Beast, The Daily Signal, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Milo Yiannopoulos, Steven Crowder, The Blaze, Pamela Geller, The Christian Truther, The Washington Free Beacon and Fox News.

Not to mention the tens of thousands of tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and Amazon reviews that virulently concur.

There's only one small problem: None of it is true.

Dark Matter Hunt

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World's Most Sensitive Dark Matter Detector Gives Its First Results

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by Ian O'Neill

After three years of construction, the world's most sensitive dark matter experiment is online, and scientists report that the detector is operating as designed.

The XENON1T detector hasn't found any dark matter particles yet, but it has carried out a 30-day science run, and project scientists are optimistic about the future.

"The best result on dark matter so far! ... and we have just started!" the XENON1T team said in a statement.

The XENON1T experiment is located deep beneath a mountain at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy (known by its Italian acronym, LNGS) so it can be shielded from interference caused by cosmic rays and other radiation sources on Earth's surface.

XENON1T is looking for the microscopic fireworks created by weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) crashing into xenon atoms. WIMPs are hypothetical particles that many scientists think are a primary component of dark matter.

Astronomical observations have confirmed that only about 15 percent of the material universe is composed of "ordinary" (or "baryonic") matter; nearly 85 percent is mysterious dark matter, which cannot be observed directly by telescopes. But dark matter's gravity can be measured indirectly via its effects on galaxy clusters and the rotation rates of galaxies, so we know it's out there.

Because WIMPs are so "weakly interacting" -- that is, they cannot interact with normal matter via the electromagnetic, strong or weak forces -- XENON1T can detect them only by looking out for lucky collisions between WIMPs and atoms in a chamber filled with pure liquid xenon cooled to minus 139 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 95 degrees Celsius).

NOAA 2017

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Honesty

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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

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Random

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So instead of halting the production of plastic, experts argue we need to attack the problem at its weakest points. And that varies throughout the world. Take the U.S. and China. Although America generates nearly twice as much waste per person per day as China does, China tops the list of polluters.

That's because the U.S. has the proper infrastructure to get rid of waste (not that it's perfect), whereas in rural China, there's simply no trash collection at all.

Newsweek on Trump's Business Failures

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Donald Trump's Many Business Failures, Explained

Trump's big line is he should be president because he is a successful businessman. After reading this devastating Newsweek story, no Trump apologist can ever say that again.

The story goes through the bankruptcies of course, but there are defaults, people ripped off, and lie upon lie upon lie upon lie.

Favorite stuff from the article:


Trump lied to Congress.
Trump was publicly insulting Native Americans while other real business people were making deals to help manage their casinos.
Trump signed a deal with one Native American casino, and they paid him $6 million to go away.
Trump punched his second grade teacher
Trump lied in his books, then blamed the same woman he blamed for Melania Trump's plagiarized speech.
Trump lied in a filing with a bank where he was trying to get a loan about how much he was worth.
Trump lied about how much money he got from his dad.
Trump's dad gave him illegal loans by taking cash to his casino, turning it over at a craps table, loading up a suitcase with $5,000 chips, and leaving.
Trump's earliest deals all lost money and he only did well when his dad guaranteed loans.
Trump spent $1 million per plane to turn a shuttle into a luxury trip that no one wanted to take. The planes were only worth $4 million each.

Stupid Watergate

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Moral Realism

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The Alienated Mind


by David Brooks

The campaign of 2016 was an education in the deep problems facing the country. Angry voters made a few things abundantly clear: that modern democratic capitalism is not working for them; that basic institutions like the family and communities are falling apart; that we have a college educated elite that has found ingenious ways to make everybody else feel invisible, that has managed to transfer wealth upward to itself, that crashes the hammer of political correctness down on anybody who does not have faculty lounge views.

As Robert W. Merry put it recently in The American Conservative, "When a man as uncouth and reckless as Trump becomes president by running against the nation's elites, it's a strong signal that the elites are the problem."

The last four months, on the other hand, have been an education in the shortcomings in populism. It's not only that Donald Trump is a bad president. It's that movements fueled by alienation are bound to fail.

Alienation, the sociologist Robert Nisbet wrote, is a "state of mind that can find a social order remote, incomprehensible or fraudulent; beyond real hope or desire; inviting apathy, boredom, or even hostility."

The alienated long for something that will smash the system or change their situation, but they have no actual plan or any means to deliver it. The alienated are a hodgepodge of disparate groups. They have no positive agenda beyond the sort of fake shiny objects Trump ran on (Build a Wall!). They offer up no governing class competent enough to get things done.

As Yuval Levin argues in a brilliant essay in Modern Age, "Alienation can sometimes make for a powerful organizing principle for an electoral coalition. ... But it does not make for a natural organizing principle for a governing coalition."

Worse, alienation breeds a distrust that corrodes any collective effort. To be "woke" in the alienated culture is to embrace the most cynical interpretation of every situation, to assume bad intent in every actor, to imagine the conspiratorial malevolence of your foes.

Alienation breeds a hysterical public conversation. Its public intellectuals are addicted to overstatement, sloppiness, pessimism, and despair. They are self-indulgent and self-lionizing prophets of doom who use formulations like "the Flight 93 election" -- who speak of every problem as if it were the apocalypse.

True Dat

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When You're Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression

Well-Known South African Game Hunter Dies After Elephant Falls On Him

by Safia Samee Ali

A South African game hunter died after an elephant ravaged by gunshots collapsed on him at a Zimbabwe animal reserve on Friday, according to local authorities.

botha-hunter.jpgWhile on a 10-day hunting expedition with several clients, 51-year-old big game hunter Theunis Botha "unknowingly" came across a herd of breeding elephants near the Hwange National Park, park spokesman Simukai Nyasha told the Associated Press.

Botha's group spooked the herd and three elephant cows immediately charged at them -- prompting Botha to open fire on the animals, according to South Africa's News24.

A fourth cow stormed at the group from the side, lifting Botha up with its trunk. One of the members of the group fired shots at the elephant causing the animal to collapse on Botha, crushing him to death.

The Privatization Scam

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A similar argument was advanced by Noam Chomsky in a 2011 lecture titled "The State-Corporate Complex: A Threat to Freedom and Survival". He said:

[T]here is a standard technique of privatization, namely defund what you want to privatize. Like when Thatcher wanted to [privatize] the railroads, first thing to do is defund them, then they don't work and people get angry and they want a change. You say okay, privatize them . . . .

Privatization (or "asset relocation" as it is sometimes euphemistically called) means selling public utilities to private equity investors, who them rent them back to the public, squeezing their profits from high user fees and tolls. Private equity investment now generates an average return of about 11.8 percent annually on a ten-year basis. That puts the cost to the public of financing $1 trillion in infrastructure projects over 10 years at around $1.18 trillion, more than doubling the cost. Moving assets off the government's balance sheet by privatizing them looks attractive to politicians concerned with this year's bottom line, but it's a bad deal for the public. Decades from now, people will still be paying higher tolls for the sake of Wall Street profits on an asset that could have belonged to them all along.

Daily KOS Appeal

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MIchael, next week is Daily Kos' 15-year anniversary.

I started Daily Kos back in 2002 as a voice of resistance to a dangerous, dishonest, oligarchical, war-crazed administration. But the Bush years look like the good ol' days now.

Donald Trump is not just unfit for the presidency--he's a direct threat to the country itself. He's appointed white supremacists to key White House positions, made crackpot claims about being wiretapped, and obstructed justice by firing James Comey in the middle of an investigation into Trump's campaign. And through it all, his dangerous abuses of power, his tinfoil hat Twitter rants, and wild conflicts of interest have been ignored and accepted by Republicans in Congress who are more interested in tax cuts for rich people than protecting and defending the Constitution.

America needs activist, liberal media outlets now more than ever. Daily Kos is prepared to resist Trump every single day until we beat his ass in 2020 or impeach and remove him from office.

Can you chip in $5 a month to help Daily Kos keep fighting?

Can't contribute monthy? Click here to chip in $5 one time.

Keep fighting,

Markos Moulitsas

Founder and Publisher, Daily Kos
Daily Kos, PO Box 70036, Oakland, CA, 94612.


Another Fail from the Idiot-In-Chief

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Judge blocks Trump's order on sanctuary cities

A federal judge has blocked a directive from President Donald Trump seeking to deny federal funding to so-called "sanctuary cities" and other localities that decline to cooperate in enforcement of federal immigration laws.

San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday barring federal officials nationwide from carrying out the portion of a Jan. 25 Trump executive order aimed at cutting off grants to local governments that won't provide assistance to federal authorities in locating and detaining undocumented immigrants.

Orrick cited public comments from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in concluding that the order appeared intended to sweep more broadly than allowed by federal law. The judge, an Obama appointee, called "not legally plausible" the Justice Department's arguments that Trump was simply trying to secure compliance with current law.

"If there was doubt about the scope of the Order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments," Orrick wrote. "The Constitution vests the spending power in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds."

On Removing Civil War Monuments

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Hitting the nail on the head

This Turkey is Not Grade A

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Putting Trump's job rating into historical perspective

Not only is Trump's 40% job rating the worst for a new president in the history of the NBC/WSJ poll; it's the worst rating -- period -- for a newly elected president approaching his first 100 days since the 1950s.

Eisenhower: 73% (April 1953)
Kennedy: 78% (April 1961)
Nixon: 61% (April 1969)
Carter: 63% (April 1977)
Reagan: 67% (April 1981)
Bush 41: 58% (April 1989)
Clinton: 52% (April 1993)
Bush 43: 57% (April 2001)
Obama: 61% (April 2009)
Trump: 40% (April 2017)

Emoluments? What emoluments?

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Virus Linked to Celiac Disease

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Could a normally harmless virus cause a sensitivity to gluten?

by Taboola

A new study has found that a certain type of virus could trigger a person's immune system to overreact to gluten, leading to celiac disease. The findings, published Thursday in Science, provide an explanation for why certain individuals develop celiac disease, while others do not.

"This is the first study to show that a virus can change the way our diet is seen by the immune system," Dr. Bana Jabri of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and senior author of the study, told NBC News. The virus turns off the body's "peacekeeper" response to gluten, tricking the immune system into thinking gluten is a harmful invader that needs to be attacked.

Researchers at the University of Chicago and University of Pittsburgh infected mice with reoviruses -- a harmless type of virus that normally does not make people sick. The mice infected by reoviruses developed a super-charged immune system response when fed gluten, causing them to experience more of the inflammation specific to celiac disease. By comparison, the immune system of mice not infected with these viruses had a much milder response to gluten.

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Jabri found these results in human patients as well. People with celiac disease had more antibodies to reoviruses in their blood compared to healthy individuals. Furthermore, these people with more antibodies were found to have more of the celiac disease inflammation.

Whether a person was infected with reoviruses at some point in the past could explain why they develop celiac at a certain age or had worse symptoms compared to others who were not infected, Jabri said.

An estimated 40 percent of the population have the genes that predispose them to celiac disease, but while 95 percent of people eat gluten, only 1 percent end up developing the disorder, said Dr. Paul Green, director of the Celiac Center at Columbia University in New York.

Viruses in the gut

Normally people are able to tolerate gluten without their immune system being put on alert. Celiac disease occurs when the immune system recognizes gluten, commonly found in wheat or other grains, as harmful. This causes the immune system to attack a person's small intestine, limiting their ability to absorb important nutrients. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and anemia.

The reovirus link to an autoimmune response in the gastrointestinal system makes sense, Dr. Gerard Mullin, director of the Celiac Disease Clinic at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine told NBC News.

"We have more viruses in our gut than bacteria and we know very little about what they do at this point," said Mullin.

The University of Chicago team now wants to study children with genetic predisposition to celiac for evidence of reovirus infection. A New England Journal of Medicine study from two years ago showed that 30 percent of children who had the high risk "celiac genes" ultimately developed the disease.

In the future, families at high risk for celiac disease may change when they introduce foods containing gluten into a baby's diet. These same families may also consider vaccinating their children against reoviruses, although experts currently advise against testing for it. In addition, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended against routine screening for celiac.

Still, the new findings shed light on what some researchers see as a mysterious disorder.

"Now we can starting thinking about preventing celiac in a different way," Jabri said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 3 million Americans have celiac disease, with 97 percent undiagnosed.

So why do some people with the disease-causing genes end up getting the disorder while others remain healthy?

"This study demonstrates the mechanism that a viral infection can cause a switch in the immune system that results in the development of food intolerance," said Green, noting that further study might show that other organisms such as bacteria may do the same.

Black Hole Selfies

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It's Albert Einstein's weirdest prediction -- that the universe is sprinkled with massive objects so dense that not even light can escape them. Although Einstein was skeptical the theory was true, it has held for over a century. Today, astronomers are fairly convinced that nearly every galaxy (including our own) harbors a black hole so massive that it gobbles down any nearby gas and dust, often ripping stars to shreds. And while no one has seen a black hole directly, astronomers might finally be on the brink of doing just that.

For the next 10 days, eight radio observatories at six locations across the globe will be pointed toward the supermassive black hole that hides in the Milky Way's center. Should the weather cooperate at these observatories -- which span the peak of the world's tallest volcano in Hawaii, the frigid landscape at the South Pole, and the ski-covered slopes of the Sierra Nevada in Spain -- astronomers will collect data at a scale never attempted before in physics.

Related: The Hunt For Alien Megastructures Is On

The hope is to image the black hole's event horizon, the gravitational point of no return, for the first time. Although it's but a tiny shadow against a glowing backdrop of radiation in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the image would provide further evidence that black holes exist, put Einstein's general theory of relativity to one of its most stringent tests, and ultimately help astronomers understand how black holes rule over their respective galaxies.

"We hope to see the un-seeable," says Shepard Doeleman, director of this Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). "We want to see something that by its very nature tries to do everything it can not to be seen. It's the ultimate cloaking device."

Rest of article

Cruelty

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R

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Word

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Keeping Michael alive

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There's no success like failure...Bob

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Trump's Triumph of Incompetence

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One of President Trump's rare strengths has been his ability to project competence. The Dow Jones stock index is up an astonishing 2,200 points since his election in part because investors believed Trump could deliver tax reform and infrastructure spending.

Think again!

The Trump administration is increasingly showing itself to be breathtakingly incompetent, and that's the real lesson of the collapse of the G.O.P. health care bill. The administration proved unable to organize its way out of a paper bag: After seven years of Republicans' publicly loathing Obamacare, their repeal-replace bill failed after 18 days.

Politics sometimes rewards braggarts, and Trump is a world-class boaster. He promised a health care plan that would be "unbelievable," "beautiful," "terrific," "less expensive and much better," "insurance for everybody." But he's abysmal at delivering -- because the basic truth is that he's an effective politician who's utterly incompetent at governing.

It's sometimes said that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Trump campaigns in braggadocio and governs in bombast.

Whatever one thinks of Trump's merits, this competence gap raises profound questions about our national direction. If the administration can't repeal Obamacare -- or manage friendly relations with allies like Mexico or Australia -- how will it possibly accomplish something complicated like tax reform?

Failure and weakness also build on themselves, and the health care debacle will make it more difficult for Trump to get his way with Congress on other issues. As people recognize that the emperor is wearing no clothes, that perception of weakness will spiral.

One of the underlying problems is Trump's penchant for personnel choices that are bafflingly bad or ethically challenged or both. Mike Flynn was perhaps the best-known example.

But consider Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism adviser to the president. Gorka, who is of Hungarian origin, founded an extremist right-wing party in Hungary in 2007, and The Forward has published articles claiming that Gorka had ties to the anti-Semitic Hungarian right and is a sworn member of a Nazi-allied group in Hungary called Vitezi Rend.

Members of the organization use a lowercase v as a middle initial, and The Forward noted that Gorka has presented his name as Sebastian L.v. Gorka.

Gorka's background might have become a problem when he immigrated to the U.S., for the State Department manual says that Vitezi Rend members "are presumed to be inadmissible." Karl Pfeifer, an Austrian journalist who has long specialized in Hungarian affairs, told me that Gorka unquestionably had worked with racists and anti-Semites in Hungary.

Gorka and the White House did not respond to my inquiries. But Gorka told The Tablet website that he had never been a member of Vitezi Rend and used the v initial only to honor his father. He has robust defenders, who say he has never shown a hint of racism or anti-Semitism.

As Ana Navarro, a G.O.P. strategist, tweeted: "Donald Trump attracts some of the shadiest, darkest, weirdest people around him."

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