June 23, 2018

Canadians using pocketbook diplomacy to get back at Trump

NY Post - Canadians have taken to practicing pocketbook diplomacy in defense of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is caught in a trade war of words with President Trump, by boycotting American goods and canceling vacations to the United States, according to a report.

Shoppers are shunning Kentucky bourbon, California wine and Florida oranges, and avoiding American companies like Starbucks, Walmart and McDonald’s, Canadian network CTV News reported.

... Vacationers said they would be staying up north this summer instead of booking trips to the US.

Private industry has earned billions from Trump's immigration war

Open Secrets - President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is big business for U.S. companies — from private prison and tech firms to defense and security contractors — as well as nonprofits.

.... ICE, which enforces the administration’s immigration policy, has allocated billions in federal contracts to private companies for software, consulting and manpower. Overall, the federal government has spent $4 billion since October 2016 — the start of 2017 fiscal year — on contracts and grants to counter illegal immigration.

... In 2016, the Department of Justice under the Obama administration began phasing out for-profit prisons for federal inmates following a DOJ report that found poor management practices at one private facility contributed to an inmate riot that killed a prison guard in 2012.

The Trump administration, however, has embraced them — particularly as a solution for the high cost of detaining people who crossed the border illegally.

Median renter income and rental cost by decade

A chart shows median renter incomes compared to median gross rents

Citizen interest in voting climbs

NPR - Slightly more than half of Americans (51 percent) told Pew they are "more enthusiastic about voting than usual," the highest share saying so in at least the last 20 years since Pew has been asking the question.

Democrats are more enthusiastic than Republicans, but not by much — 55 percent of Democrats said they are more enthusiastic than usual, but 50 percent of GOP voters said the same. Those are both very high numbers overall for midterms.

In 2006, when Democrats benefited from the spiraling Iraq war and President George W. Bush's declining approval numbers to take control of Congress, a slightly lower number of Democrats than today said they were more enthusiastic than usual (47 percent). But they far outnumbered Republicans in who said they were more enthusiastic in 2006 (30 percent), a 17-point advantage.

In 2010, when Republicans won a whopping 63 seats in the House and regained control of that chamber, the GOP was ahead on this question by 13 points (55 to 42 percent). And in 2014, when Republicans won back the Senate, they had an 8-point overall advantage (45 to 37 percent).

So the bottom line is Democrats today are as enthusiastic about voting as Republicans were in 2010, but Republicans are also fired up, which could mitigate GOP losses in the House and help them protect their slim Senate majority.

Canada experiments with a guaranteed basic income

Slashdot - Lindsay, a compact rectangle amid the lakes northeast of Toronto, is at the heart of one of the world's biggest tests of a guaranteed basic income.

Technology Review: In a three-year pilot funded by the provincial government, about 4,000 people in Ontario are getting monthly stipends to boost them to at least 75 percent of the poverty line. That translates to a minimum annual income of $17,000 in Canadian dollars (about $13,000 US) for single people, $24,000 for married couples. Lindsay has about half the people in the pilot -- some 10 percent of the town's population.

The report outlines that the Canadian province's vision for a basic income -- and the underlying experiment -- differs from that of the one we have seen in Silicon Valley. The report continues:
The Canadians are testing it as an efficient antipoverty mechanism, a way to give a relatively small segment of the population more flexibility to find work and to strengthen other strands of the safety net. That's not what Silicon Valley seems to imagine, which is a universal basic income that placates broad swaths of the population.
The most obvious problem with that idea? Math. Many economists concluded long ago that it would be too expensive, especially when compared with the cost of programs to create new jobs and train people for them. That's why the idea didn't take off after tests in the 1960s and '70s. It's largely why Finland recently abandoned a basic-income plan after a small test.

Housing affordability lowest since 2008

Bloomberg - Housing affordability dropped this quarter to the lowest since late 2008, according to data released this month by the National Association of Realtors.

... A separate report from ATTOM Data Solutions shows average wage earners would need to spend 31.2 percent of income to buy a median-priced home this quarter -- above the historic average of 29.6 percent.

Home price appreciation, coupled with rising mortgage rates, have pushed three-quarters of average wage earners out of the market with property costs rising faster than wages in 64 percent of regions surveyed, ATTOM reported.

Ministers of Sessions' own religion plan to bring charges against him

Alternet - More than 600 United Methodist clergy and church members say they will bring charges against fellow United Methodist Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s attorney general, over his implementation of the president’s “zero tolerance” policy which has resulted in the separation of children from their parents at the border.

According to the United Methodist news wire, Sessions is accused of child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of the church.

June 22, 2018

Immigrant children claim they were beaten in detention center

Daily Beast - Immigrant children as young as 14 say they were beaten while handcuffed, locked up in solitary confinement, and left naked in concrete cells at a juvenile detention center in Virginia. “Whenever they used to restrain me and put me in the chair, they would handcuff me,” said a Honduran immigrant who was sent to the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center when he was just 15.

“Strapped me down all the way, from your feet all the way to your chest, you couldn’t really move... They have total control over you. They also put a bag over your head. It has little holes; you can see through it. But you feel suffocated with the bag on.” Many of the kids were reportedly sent to the facility after immigration authorities accused them of belonging to gangs. .... The detention facility denied all allegations of physical abuse.

Border Patrol stop cars illegally in Maine

Portland Press Herald  - U.S. Border Patrol agents conducted an 11-hour vehicle checkpoint on Interstate 95 in eastern Maine, stopping southbound vehicles near Lincoln in Penobscot County to ask drivers and passengers for their citizenship and immigration status, and to search vehicles with sniffer dogs.

Agents from the Houlton Border Patrol sector manned the checkpoint, arresting a man from Haiti and seizing drugs. Border Patrol said it didn’t keep track of how many vehicles the agents stopped.

Civil rights groups have sharply criticized the practice of snap immigration inspections on highways and bus stations, and said some of the checks are unconstitutional.

The American Civil Liberties Union suspects inspections have become more common during the Trump administration, and in May it sued the U.S. government for records related to immigration enforcement efforts.

“We should all be able to live our lives without being stopped by immigration agents every time we board a bus or drive down the highway,” said Emma Bond, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. “Having (Border Patrol) constantly intruding on our lives and demanding that we show our papers doesn’t make us any safer, but it will make us less free.”

85% oppose presidents pardoning themselves

Supreme Court bans long term cellphone tracking by police without a warrant

USA Today - The Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot monitor people's movements for weeks or months by tracking the location of their mobile phones without a warrant.

... It was another in a series of digital privacy verdicts issued by the high court, following rulings in recent years that police cannot use GPS equipment to track vehicles or search cellphones without a warrant.

....In 2016, police made some 125,000 requests for cellphone location data from Verizon and AT&T alone, often involving several suspects over periods of months.

42% want Trump impeached

The Hill - Forty-two percent of Americans think President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN poll. The survey found that the idea of impeaching Trump divided along party lines, with support from 77 percent of Democrats and just 9 percent of Republicans.

Suicides in long increase

Knoema -Suicide in the US is now considered a major public health issue. In 2016, 45,000 Americans took their own lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 53 percent increase since just 2000.
  • A recent CDC study on trends in suicide rates by US state revealed that in the period from 1999 to 2016 the suicide rate increased in all but one state, Nevada. Among US states, the suicide rate varied from six deaths per 100,000 population in the District of Columbia to 25 in Wyoming.
  • According to the CDC, mental health is just one contributing factor; data from its 27-state study suggests that upwards of 55 percent of suicides in 2015 were linked to substance abuse, health, relationships, work, and finances.
  • While the study also found that the nearly half of those who took their own lives used a firearm, the CDC pointed out that the rising suicide rate is across all methods, not only firearms.
The US is not alone in its struggle to address the underlying causes of suicide and improve access to preventive services. While suicide may only account for 1.5 percent of deaths globally, India reported more than 200,000 suicides in 2015 and China nearly 120,000 in the same year, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 

June 21, 2018

America is world's most incarcerated nation

Truthout - Despite a growing appetite among policy makers for criminal legal reforms, the United States is still the most incarcerated country in the world by a long shot. Even more progressive states have a higher percentage of their population behind bars than most other countries.

Thirty-one US states have a higher incarceration rate than any single nation worldwide, including countries with authoritarian governments, such as Russia and China, according to a new report by the Prison Policy Initiative. The US also leads the world in the incarceration of women. Only 4 percent of women live in the US, but the US accounts for over 30 percent of incarcerated women worldwide.

Social Notes: When Washington after dark still made the news

Sam Smith 1975 – Among the social notes of last month is an item from Texas telling of the meeting between John B. Connally and our president." Asked by reporters how he justified conferring privately for forty-five minutes with Connally, who is under indictment on charges of bribery and perjury, the ever ingenuous Ford replied, "He is a very knowledgable public servant." To some a meeting between the indictee and he who presumably runs the Justice Department that got him indicted may seem surprising, even a bit shocking. But not to me. I read Betty Beale.

Betty Beale is the most enjoyable bad writer in town; apparently the only person in the country to remain unaffected by the events or implications of Watergate. Reading her in today's US is like browsing through "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" in the midst of a Led Zeppelin concert. I wouldn't miss her. Some days before the Connally-Ford exchange, I had become aware, thanks to Betty Beale's Star-News column, that things were looking up for the Connallys. .She reported: "’John Connally never looked better. He's trimmed down and he's relaxed,’ said Ken Crosby upon returning from a weekend in Houston. The Connallys and the Alan Shepards — he is now in the banking business there — were among those invited to the Robert Herrings' dinner at the Petroleum Club for Swedish Ambassador and Countess Wachtmeister. Nellie Connally also looked wonderful, according to Crosby who said, in fact they were the life of the party. Everybody down there still loves them and supports them, he added.”

The item is classic Beale. But before you laugh — scratch out the cliches, pass over her unflagging loyalty to ancien regimes of every variety, and you'll find a unique piece of reportage. Miss Beale writes about the people in power for people in power with the assurance that a sizable number of others will eavesdrop. Half courtier, half correspondent, she does openly what the better part of the Washington press corps does covertly — she fawns over power. The rest of the press may ignore Connally as one more politician down on his luck, but Betty Beale knows better. She knows how power works and who still rates a presidential visit. Her journalistic peers can continue to file broad tales. about the impact of Watergate on the nation's capital, but for her story Miss Beale trots over to a small dinner dance "at Dan Hofgren's -  "who quit the White House while things were still rosy and is now at Goldman Sachs § Co." -  given for former White House social secretary Nancy Lammerding and "her betrothed, Nicholas Ruwe, scion of a wealthy Grosse Pointe family," where she finds life truckin' along despite late indiscretions..

Among the guests were "Dwight Chapin, who now works for Clement Stone and will hear this Friday the results of his perjury appeal. . ."'And speaking of Clem and Dwight, whatever happened to old Pat? Betty Beale found him there - "Pat Buchanan, the speechwriter, who wrote a memo to his boss to burn the tapes when he learned about them. If he had known what was in them he would have kept after Nixon to destroy them, he said. Pat, who has lost about 20 pounds, begins his syndicated column March 1." Apparently, Watergate has been wonderful for the diet. Then there was "Ronald Walker, Nixon's chief advance man who became director of the National Park Service and who said he and his wife were just back from a vacation in Florida where they saw something of Bebe Rebozo. Walker is now in the process of deciding on a new job." And there was Rose Mary Woods, "the devoted Nixon secretary." And Henry Leslie, Cashen, another socialite from Grosse Pointe: "Cashen, one of the young White House lawyers who was untainted by Watergate, left the administration before the second term to go into law practice with Chuck Colson." Untainted and unenlightened it would seem.

Until 330 am, there was dancing to the "mad, marvelous rhythms of Mike Carney. . .Watergate was a thing of the past. The fun and the Hofgrens's Georgetown house had simply become a part of the regular Washington scene." Betty Beale is not making this stuff up. She may be Rebecca but there really is a  Sunnybrook Farm, aka federal Washington. The daylight charades that obscure the attitude and philosophy of the official city fade with a couple of highballs and Miss Beale faithfully takes you where Peter Lisagor's press pass won't get him —, into the hearts and minds of the people who run our country. It's not a pretty picture in aggregate, but after viewing it one quickly loses any astonishment over the official placidity in the face of depression-level unemployment. Try to find in one of Miss Beale's columns a person expressing concern over any human problem and you'll be disappointed. The serious is trivialized, the improper is excused, the critics are turned aside. At the center of power, as Miss Beale dutifully records, are individuals incredibly insensitive to the traumas of the rest of America, resolute in their prejudices, arrogant, isolated and indifferent. Drawing their black limos in a line around the embassy of the evening, they hoist a toast to themselves knowing that when whatever is happening is over, they will still be running things.

Some years ago, the local papers did away with their society pages. The hack social writers were dropped. Maxine Cheshire moved away from writing such things as "Tammy Grimes, wearing the only short dress of the evening and sans stockings came with mouth open and tongue in cheek" to doing more serious gos sip coverage that still only gets her occasionally into the Washington Post. And headlines like that wonderful Times medical bulletin: "Kidney Patients To Be Assisted by Dec. 29 Ball" dropped from sight. But Miss Beale remained and with her our one sure link to the .Washington society that refused to die simply because the papers chose to turn their probes towards the society of movie stars and cult leaders rather than that of local matrons.

The papers may have overreacted.  Ignoring the parties didn't make them go away or make them any less a source on how federal Washington works. Knowing John Brademas's ADA voting record is one thing; reading Betty Beale describe his reaction to "Chic to Sheik," the Public Broadcasting docunentary on Washington social life, is another: "John Brademas, the bachelor congressman who was shown in the "Chic to Sheik" segment. . .was as disgusted as anyone with the obvious intent of that segment — a put-down of social Washington. He was familiar, he said, with the 'counter-cultural approach of the San Francisco group which produced the show."

It helps to know what disgusts our liberal congressmen. Fortunately, Betty Beale cares. Beale, who appeared on the show, complained that the TV program missed "catching the essence of the big scene here — i.e. the nightly mingling in a handsome setting of the people with the power." 'Betty is on the scene because mad, marvelous Betty Beale knows that power doesn't quit at sunset and that to much of official Washington, happiness is an ex parte conversation. How right she is.

Golf is dying

City Lab - Golf is dying, many experts say. According to one study by the golf industry group Pellucid Corp., the number of regular golfers fell from 30 to 20.9 million between 2002 and 2016. Ratings are down, equipment sales are lagging, and the number of rounds played annually has fallen.

Part of the bust can be blamed on the fallen fortunes of a single person: Tiger Woods. Golf boomed in the 1990s and early 2000s as the charismatic superstar raked in titles. Then, beginning in 2009, it faced a one-two punch of recession and bad press when its star golfer’s chronic infidelity came to light.

But the bigger story involves the sport’s aging demographics and the athletic tastes of Millennials, who just aren’t that into an expensive, poky sport that provides few health benefits. Unless the golf industry can change its ways, the decline will mean a lot of empty greens across the country. How that land is used—or isn’t—could reshape America’s suburbs for decades to come.

Golf courses and country clubs currently consume massive amounts of relatively underutilized land in cities and suburbs. Across the country, as courses and clubs begin shutting down, hundreds of thousands of acres of land could soon start opening up for infill redevelopment. While not so great for golfers, this could be a boon for cities, especially those facing a housing crunch.

Minorities not the major beneficiaries of welfare programs

NPR- According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, white people made up the the largest share — at 52 percent — of people lifted from poverty by safety-net programs, while black people made up less than a quarter of that share. When it comes to receiving Medicare, white people make up about 43 percent of recipients, Hispanics about 30 percent, African-Americans 18 percent, with 9 percent identified as other.

Ripping off workers

Dirt Diggers Digest - Off-the-clock work, denial of overtime pay through misclassification and other forms of wage theft are pervasive in American big business. After digging through court records for much of the past year, I found more than 1,200 successful wage and hour lawsuits against hundreds of the country’s largest employers. These collective action suits have yielded some $8.8 billion in settlements and verdicts in the period since 2000. The same group of corporations have paid around $400 million in fines to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Among the dozen most penalized corporations, Walmart, with $1.4 billion in total settlements and fines, is the only retailer. Second is FedEx with $502 million. Half of the top dozen are banks and insurance companies, including Bank of America ($381 million); Wells Fargo ($205 million); JPMorgan Chase ($160 million); and State Farm Insurance ($140 million). The top 25 also include prominent companies in sectors not typically associated with wage theft, including telecommunications (AT&T); information technology (Microsoft and Oracle); pharmaceuticals (Novartis); and investment services (Morgan Stanley and UBS).

More than 100 large corporations have paid penalties in three or more collective action lawsuits. Bank of America and its subsidiaries did so two dozen times.

Americans own 40% of the guns in the world

Independent, UK - American citizens now own 40 per cent of all guns in the world - more than the next 25 top-ranked gun ownership countries combined - with the number only set to grow, according to new research.

According to a decade-long survey released by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, not only do Americans own the highest number of guns per capita, but also between 2006 and 2017, US gun owners acquired some 122 million new guns. That represented more than half of the 207 million new civilian-owned firearms around the world during that time.

Half million Americans face serious flooding

Independent UK - Hundreds of thousands of homes in the United States could face persistent flooding as climate change pushes sea levels higher, according to a new report.

... A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists quantified the risk by comparing areas already known to be at high flood risk against data from the real estate website Zillow.
Coral reef growth ‘already failing to keep pace with sea level rise’ Rising seas could make many islands uninhabitable within decades Sea level rise could be even worse for San Francisco than we thought

The result: more than 300,000 homes lining America’s lengthy coastlines could face chronic flooding by 2045, which would mean 30-year mortgages issued to home-buyers today could be placing them in at-risk properties. Those structures house some 550,000 people.

June 20, 2018

Federal judge strikes down Kansas voting restriction

Ballot Access - A U.S. District Court in Kansas struck down a law that was passed in 2011, requiring individuals who register to vote to produce documents, proving U.S. citizenship.

Canada legalizes recreational marijuana

11 states pull their national guard from border patrol

Business Insider - Eleven US states have canceled agreements to send members of the National Guard to the US-Mexico border as part of a growing backlash over the Trump administration's policy separating migrant families that illegally enter the US.

New York, Massachusetts, and Colorado were the first to pull their forces from current or planned deployments at the border, and they were soon joined by many more.

Most are states with a Democratic governor. Two — Massachusetts and Maryland — have Republicans in charge.

Most Americans disagree with Trump's separation policy at his concentration camps

CBS News-  Two-thirds of Americans oppose the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant children from their families when they cross the border illegally, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

A majority of Republican voters support separating these families (55 percent) -- this was the sole grouping of poll respondents to support the policy. Every other demographic included in the polling -- political party, gender, education, age or racial group-- opposes the policy.

Americans also overwhelmingly (79 percent) agree that "Dreamers," the children of immigrants brought to the United States at a young age, should be allowed to remain in the country and ultimately be able to apply for citizenship.

Minimum wage won't pay for a two bedroom rent in any state, city, or county

City Lab -There isn’t a single state, city, or county in the U.S. where someone earning federal or state minimum wage for a 40-hour work week can afford a two-bedroom home at fair market rent.

For most Americans, access to decent, affordable rental housing remains cruelly beyond reach. Only in 22 counties in the United States is a one-bedroom home affordable to someone working 40 hours per week at federal minimum wage.

That’s from the National Low Income Housing Coalition  report, which outlines the mismatch between wages and rent every year.

Poll finds Millennials favorable towards socialism

Portside - A new survey from the University of Chicago’s GenForward project suggests that these voters could pull the Democratic Party, and American politics, sharply to the left. The survey of 1,750 respondents found that “Majorities of Millennials across race and ethnicity believe a strong government rather than a free market approach is needed to address today’s complex economic problems.”

In the survey’s most striking finding, 61 percent of Millennial Democrats polled – nearly two-thirds – expressed favorable views of socialism. The report notes that 32 percent of independents and “only” 25 percent of Republicans say they are favorable toward socialism.

The study also shows that the “rising Democratic majority” of black and brown voters isn’t very fond of capitalism, for understandable reasons. Only 45 percent of Latinxs and 34 percent of African-Americans hold favorable views of capitalism.

These results suggest that Democratic leaders are ill-advised to insist, as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton both did recently, that theirs is a strictly capitalistic party. Clinton’s dismissive tone toward socialist-leaning Democrats seemed especially counterproductive.

Interesting question

Bob LeMay - I tend to watch people and there is something I have been regularly observing, and yesterday while watching my neighbor it came together:There seems to be a need of humans for facial / tactile contact reassurance...
She was taking out and using her cellphone and I saw the familiar gestures of smokers handling rectangular cigarette packs, and then one way or another, hands and fingers positioning near their faces and them then looking more comfortable after several minutes.
So I wonder... Has cellphone usage come at the right time period to help reduce cigarette smoking ? Is it now, the newer habit ?

Israeli military train US cops in extreme tactics

Institute for Policy Studies - .US police forces actually train extensively with the Israeli military. In fact, hundreds of federal, state, local, and even some campus law enforcement departments across the country have trained in some capacity with the Israeli forces now gunning down Palestinian protesters in droves.

U.S. police departments are sent to Israel, or sometimes Israeli forces come to the United States, under the pretense of counter-terrorism training.

Apparently that training includes learning the benefits of “skunk water”—a liquid developed by Israel that’s used to break up anti-occupation protests like the ones occurring right now. After protests in Ferguson, the St. Louis department started stockpiling the stuff.

And that now infamous NYPD Muslim surveillance program? The NYPD Intelligence Division Chief responsible for that one got the idea from a similar program used to spy on Palestinians.
The former head of Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service) Avi Dichter—who has advocated dropping heavy bombs on civilian-occupied Gaza apartment buildings—believes there’s “an intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” He calls these threats “crimiterrorists.”

But this isn’t a one-sided transfer of tactics. Dichter likes to think of the war on terror and the war on drugs in the same category. And when Israeli forces visit the United States, they also receive training from our police forces on the drug war tactics that have targeted Black and brown communities.

Veteran sports writer explains Trump's decades long grudge against the NFL

June 19, 2018

Woman running for New York Attorney General has Trump in her sights

Intercept - Zephyr Teachout twice pressed former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to lead the judicial challenge to President Donald Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, and both times he refused, she told The Intercept in an interview.

Teachout, who announced that she would be running to replace Schneiderman, formally launched her campaign . Within a week of her announcement, she had raised more than $100,000, with the average donation coming in at $31, her campaign told The Intercept. Schneiderman stepped down following allegations that he physically abused multiple former girlfriends.

“I called him in December and I sat down with him in the first week of January 2017, before Donald Trump took office, and I brought with me precedents from the Office of Legal Counsel, cases about standing, law review articles and said, New York should be leading the charge of bringing a lawsuit against Donald Trump the minute he takes office for violating the foreign and domestic emoluments clause of the Constitution,” Teachout said.

The emoluments clause is a once-obscure constitutional provision that prohibits certain government officials, like the president, from receiving gifts or other payments from foreign governments without congressional approval. Legal experts believe that Trump may be violating the Constitution by maintaining ownership of businesses that take in foreign profits.

Teachout’s argument for a legal challenge, she said, rested on the physical presence in New York of an enterprise involved in alleged ongoing criminal activity, the Trump Organization. “New York has to do that because it is the epicenter of the Trump empire,” she said. “Of the 500 or so Trump companies affiliated with the Trump Organization, they connect in New York state, and the New York attorney general — to protect the people of New York and to stand up for the people of the country — has to be the leading voice on this. Eric did not take action.”

... Teachout, known in legal scholar circles for her work on antitrust law, said that Trump would be a focus of her approach as New York’s top law enforcement official. She added that state law also gives the attorney general significant power in confronting monopoly concentration on behalf of consumers and workers, power that she plans to leverage.

Atrocities under Kim Jong-un

A survey of alternative sex

Buzzfeed - LGBTQ adults in the United States are mostly women, religious, and under 40 years old, according to a new survey conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies and BuzzFeed News.

The poll, taken by 880 LGBTQ Americans across the country, is one of the most thorough surveys of its type, asking more than 100 questions about gender, sex, politics, family, and discrimination.

...The poll finds that gay men also have more sex than lesbian women, while other findings may be more surprising: More than half of LGBTQ Americans are Christian, and nearly half of all LGBTQ people identify as bisexual or queer.

... Nearly half — 46% — of the LGBTQ population identifies as bisexual, which then skews heavily female, younger, and tends to be more racially diverse.

Overall, LGBTQ people are 67% white and 33% nonwhite, which is close to the national census figures.

....More than two-thirds of respondents across generations said coming out made them happier.

Urban middle neighborhood problems ignored

Governing - There’s a sense in Philadelphia, as in many major cities these days, that it’s divided between the affluent folks who are driving up condo prices in and around downtown, which is known as Center City, and those being left behind in parts of town plagued by blight and drugs. Philadelphia has received considerable attention in recent years as one of the nation’s top magnets for educated millennials. At the same time, it has the highest poverty rate of any major city, at 25.7 percent. But left out of the equation are places like Mt. Airy, where most people have decent-paying jobs as schoolteachers, as utility company workers or, like James, as nurses. Or they’re part of a generation that was able to retire with decent pensions. Neighborhoods are a little like seesaws. Some are rising to the top, while others seem to be stuck at the bottom. No one seems to pay attention to what’s in the middle.

Middle neighborhoods have been off the nation’s policy radar for decades. While many of them are relatively stable, others have become shaky in recent years, due to a lack of interest from governments and the private sector. That has left large shares of urban America at risk, particularly in older cities. In Philadelphia, 41 percent of residents live in what are defined as middle neighborhoods, where most people earn between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income, which in the Philadelphia region is $66,000. Nationwide, 48 percent of urban residents live in such neighborhoods, which tend to be more diverse than either wealthy or low-income areas. “There are huge chunks of our cities that are not seeing rapid growth, nor are they completely desolate, economically isolated places,” says Jeffrey Verespej, who runs a community development corporation in Cleveland. “They’re not as sexy as high-investment, high-growth neighborhoods and lack the moral imperative to help those who are truly needy.”

But they’re increasingly under threat. The reality is that no place stays exactly the same year after year. All neighborhoods evolve. The question is what direction they’re moving in, and what forces are pushing them that way. Middle neighborhoods have a lot working against them. Most are not especially close to downtown and lack the anchor institutions such as universities or hospitals that spur new investment. Residents of middle neighborhoods generally don’t receive assistance from poverty programs. At the same time, they don’t have access to capital, either. Half of the residents of Philadelphia -- and many in Mt. Airy -- have credit scores below 650, perilously close to the point where banks won’t even bother looking at a loan application. The city’s denial rate for home improvement loans is 62 percent, well above the national average of 37 percent.

Maps of how much the world has warmed since 1880

June 18, 2018

Washington Post workers demand pay raise

Supreme Court looks the other way on gerrymandering

Trump wants space wars

Reuters -President Donald Trump said he was clearing the way for the United States to exercise extra-terrestrial dominance by establishing a new, sixth branch of the military that he dubbed a “space force.”

“Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,” Trump said at a White House event attended by former astronaut Buzz Aldrin as well as executives of major aerospace companies.

“When it comes to defending America it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

How Ohio used a junk mail trick to purge voters

The illogic of American distance definitions

Child separation is a health danger

NPR - Pediatricians and immigrant advocates are warning that separating migrant children from their families can cause "toxic stress" that disrupts a child's brain development and harms long-term health.

At the facility in South Texas, [Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics] says, the staff told her that federal regulations prevented them from touching or holding the child to soothe her.

While shelter managers and other experts say there is no such rule, Kraft says the confusion underscores why these shelters are not the right place for young children — especially kids who have fled dangerous countries and who have just been separated from their parents. "By separating parents and children, we are doing irreparable harm to these children.";;;;;

.... "Kids started appearing at the shelter who didn't 'know the drill.' They had just been separated from their parents, so they were experiencing an increased amount of trauma," says Antar Davidson, who worked for Southwest Key, a nonprofit that operates more than two dozen shelters for migrant children from Texas to California.

Davidson quit this week because the shelter where he worked in Tucson, Ariz., didn't have the trained staffing to handle the influx of younger, more traumatized children, he says.

The breaking point for Davidson came, he says, when he was asked to tell two siblings, ages 6 and 10, that they couldn't hug each other. "They called me over the radio. And they wanted to translate to these kids that the rule of the shelter is that they are not allowed to hug," he says. "And these are kids that had just been separated from their mom — basically just huddling and hugging each other in a desperate attempt to remain together." Southwest Key says it has a clear policy that allows touching and hugging in certain circumstances.

Alexia Rodriguez, the company's vice president of immigrant children's services, says Southwest Key's facilities are licensed and adequately staffed. And they have worked for years with migrant children, many of them traumatized. "We love the kids. We have experienced staff to provide comfort, counseling. And help the child feel more comfortable," she says.

Asked if that meant it's "absolutely OK to hug them," Rodriguez replies: "Absolutely. I was at one of our shelters last week that has babies and preschoolers, and I walked around holding a baby the entire time I was there. And that's what you would see." The Office of Refugee Resettlement says there are now more than 11,000 children in its shelters. Almost half of them are in facilities run by Southwest Key, including several hundred who are 12 or younger.

Washington Post -The Department of Health and Human Services said that it had 11,432 migrant children in its custody, up from fewer than 9,000 at the end of May.

Republicans nominate white nationalist for Virgnia senate seat

Alternet - On June 12, neo-Confederate Corey Stewart was elected to be the Republican nominee to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Stewart is an ardent defender of Confederate symbols and a staunch opponent of immigrants’ rights, and he has been affiliated with white supremacists...

... In January 2017, Stewart spoke out in support of Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist congressional candidate who holds and espouses deeply racist views, calling him one of his “personal heroes.” According to CNN, Stewart later paid almost $800 to the "pro-White" Nehlen as a “fundraising commission.” And in February 2017, Stewart attended an event put on by “Unity & Security for America,” a group run by Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who would months later organize the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA.

Does your homeland feel more secure now?

From the Secretary of Homeland Security