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'Poisonous theory'

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The "controversial" theory is too complex for schoolchildren, an education official says.
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JimB
12 hours ago
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And to think: this country had wanted to join the EU , and plans were in place for them to do so!
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Trump proposes solar panel wall for Mexican border

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President Trump has put forward the idea of covering his proposed border wall with Mexico in solar panels.
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JimB
1 day ago
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So now Trump steals ideas and claims them for himself
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Obama Offers the Defense of Obamacare He'd Never Given

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On Thursday, Senate Republicans released a draft version of their Obamacare replacement, the American Health Care Act. The bill looks similar to the version passed by the House in May, and would accomplish much of the same: a large increase in the number of uninsured people and drastic cuts to the Medicaid program that is critical for poor people, pregnant women, children, and people with chronic health conditions.

In the aftermath of the release of that bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes will pass the Senate in the next two weeks, former President Barack Obama issued a rare full-throated post-presidential statement criticizing the AHCA and the political process by which it came to be. The statement, posted to Facebook, comes on the heels of another statement in March defending Obamacare, and is also one of the most thorough defenses of his signature policy, even dating back to his time in office.

-Vann Newkirk


Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.

I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.

We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain—we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.

Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones—a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.

And you made a difference. For the first time, more than 90 percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in 50 years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition—we made that a thing of the past.

We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.

At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts—and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.

That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.

The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.

Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family—this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

I hope our senators ask themselves—what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?

To put the American people through that pain—while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return—that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.

That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.

After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.

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JimB
1 day ago
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"Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family—this bill will do you harm. "
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When Squirrels Attack

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Summertime in Washington, D.C., sometimes seems like an exercise in survival. There are swampy heatwaves in a region where the standard dress-code includes a blazer. And a metro that always seems to be catching fire.

But also: squirrel attacks.

“I was attacked by a squirrel while running this morning so that’s a real thing that happens apparently,” my colleague Adam Serwer told me this morning. He didn’t kill the squirrel with his bare hands, he added, like the Maine jogger who recently drowned a rabid raccoon in a puddle after it bit her.

Adam wasn’t bitten, thankfully. The squirrel leaped onto his chest, then quickly bounded off onto a nearby tree. (“So, basically parkour,” he said.) And it’s actually pretty rare for squirrels to carry rabies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Small mammals such as squirrels, rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rabbits, and hares are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to cause rabies among humans in the United States,” the agency says on its website. Woodchucks on the other hand, you don’t want to mess with. They accounted for 86 percent of rodent-transmitted rabies cases reported to the CDC over a 10-year period ending in the 1990s. (You probably know this, but just in case: if you get bitten by any animal that’s acting weird, or if you’re bitten by an animal in an area where rabies is widespread, seek emergency treatment right away.)

Because squirrels don’t typically transmit rabies, and because squirrel attacks are unlikely to be fatal, the CDC doesn’t keep data on the frequency of squirrel-on-human attacks. (Besides, if most people’s encounters are anything like what my colleague experienced, they’re unlikely to be reported anyway.)

Between 1999 and 2015, the most recent year for which the CDC has published data, 522 people in the United States were killed by dogs and 1,231 people were killed by other non-human mammals—meaning farm animals, mostly, according to a 2012 study published in the journal of Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, including cats, cows, horses, pigs, raccoons, and other hoofed livestock. Another 1,400 people were killed by venomous plants, scorpions, wasps, or bees during that time. “Squirrels aren’t among those listed,” a CDC spokesman told me. “It’s more snakes, spiders, and a few more common things.”

But while there’s no evidence of killer squirrels on the CDC’s books, there is a smattering of anecdotal evidence to suggest they do rumble with humans from time to time. There was, for example, the California squirrel that went on a biting spree—attacking at least eight people last year. And the squirrel that injured three people in a senior center in November. Newspaper archives have plenty of examples of squirrels terrorizing people. A Long Island squirrel—undeterred by a milk bottle thrown in his direction—was eventually shot and killed when he tried to attack some school children in 1921, The New York Times reported that year. That squirrel had gone mad, the newspaper declared.

The fact that squirrels are ubiquitous in cities like New York, Washington, and elsewhere across the U.S. is at least partly by design. The greening movement of the 19th century cast them as a pleasant feature of modern urban life at a time when people sometimes gathered around a single squirrel in Central Park in awe, the way they might react to a black bear in the suburbs of New Jersey today. (New York City still celebrates Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21, according to the city’s department of Parks and Recreation.)

Squirrel attacks were recorded even before urban planners created spaces in cities where squirrels could thrive. Except for the fact that humans in cities tend to feed squirrels, which is ultimately bad for them and for us—it’s a big part of why squirrels occasionally attack people.

Consider the 1878 story of a gray squirrel who charged toward a farmer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, “legs wide spread and tail flaunting as he ran, concentrating all the terror of his little [body] into the loudest war-whoop.” This was apparently a squirrel with some degree of notoriety, the newspaper reported. “Last fall, the same squirrel attacked a laborer on the farm, and mutilated his face in a horrible manner.”

Squirrels mostly don’t bother people, let alone maim them. But they are everywhere, and that’s not always a good thing for humans. Then again, you might say the same thing about people if you were a squirrel.

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JimB
2 days ago
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So I guess you'll not want all of the grey squirrels back from the UK?
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US energy secretary says carbon dioxide is not a primary driver of climate change

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In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that carbon dioxide emissions from human activities aren't the primary driver of climate change. Instead, the former Texas governor responded that "most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in."

It’s unclear how Perry envisions this “control knob” and how it works; a generous analysis of his answer would be that he misunderstood the question. Ocean waters absorb carbon dioxide and are changing, much like climate, because of it. And the oceans have short-term cycles that influence equally short-term temperature trends. But those cycles can't drive the ever-upward trend in temperature.

Oddly, Perry continued by affirming that climate change is happening and that we have to do something about it. The secretary told CNBC, “The fact is, this shouldn't be a debate about 'Is the climate changing? Is man having an effect on it?' Yeah, we are. The question should be just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to effect that?"

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JimB
3 days ago
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Heaven help our children. He'll drive the world uninhabitable. He is stretching alternate truth too far.
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One kind of Android smartphone ransomware is behind a massive rise in malicious software

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McAfee Labs report says 244 new threats are detected every minute - and that Android is the target in a boom in ransomware attacks.
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JimB
3 days ago
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Be wary
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