August 3, 2017 in 4,203 words

Cory Gardner’s Answer for GOP Woes: I’m Going to Disney World!


These are grim times for Republicans. Despite ostensible control of two branches of government, the GOP faithful have been mired in bickering over health care, Russia, the Mooch and other distractions while failing to tame long-simmering conservative hobby horses such as tax and immigration reform. The situation is so dire that Representative Ken Buck felt compelled to declare this week — in the Denver Post, no less — that his party “no longer has a vision for a better America,” has been overrun by lobbyists and special interests, and might be on its deathbed.

But never fear: Colorado’s Republican senator refuses to join the mourners. In fact, Cory Gardner has a plan to put the “party” back in the Grand Old Party. While others bitch and moan, Gardner is headed for Disney World — with an entourage of donors, lobbyists, PAC contributors and very special friends in tow.

Potential donors recently received an invitation from a Gardner fundraising committee to join him in Orlando in November for a weekend filled with “family friendly events.” Access to such events doesn’t come cheap; we’re not talking some Mickey Mouse operation here. The donation levels are $1,500 per person, $2,000 per couple, $3,000 for PACs (up to two attendees), and a special bargain rate for families or family-value PACs of four, for a low, low, low $5,000.

Trump wouldn’t need a trade war with China if he’d stayed in the TPP trade deal

Lost Opportunity


In hindsight…

The White House has a plan to deal with all those pesky Chinese companies stealing Americans’ hard-earned intellectual property. It will impose tariffs on Chinese imports or revoke some Chinese companies’ licenses to sell products in the US, according to multiple reports.

The Chinese problem of copycat products, names, and ideas is so egregious that Shenzhen’s factories can be mass-producing copies of a brilliant Kickstarter idea before it is even fully funded, and one of China’s largest companies, Tencent, distributed Mad Shelia, a flagrant rip-off of the blockbuster movie Mad Max, last year, streaming it online. Pirated software, counterfeit goods, and theft of trade secrets cost the US economy as much as $600 billion a year, according to the bipartisan Huntsman commission (pdf).

Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, China would have been forced to crack down on these types of imitations, as well as bring tariffs in line with those of other countries, and strengthen its environmental regulations to be more like those of developed countries—all measures that might have made the cost of manufacturing more in the US more competitive. But the complicated, far-reaching trade deal negotiated by Barack Obama’s administration was a common punching bag of US president Donald Trump on the campaign trail, and he pulled the US out of it just three days after his inauguration.

A Nissan Victory Could Usher in a New Era of Southern Organizing

In Canton, Mississippi, an inspiring UAW campaign is linking workers’s rights to demands for racial justice—and charting a new path for organizing in the South.

The United Automobile Workers union and its allies in the labor and civil-rights movements have been organizing for years to get a union at the sprawling Nissan Motor Company vehicle assembly facility in Canton, Mississippi. But most Americans became aware of the struggle only this year, when Senator Bernie Sanders, actor Danny Glover, and NAACP President Cornell William Brooks joined union activists and labor leaders for a “March on Mississippi” that sought to highlight abuses of worker and civil rights at the factory.

Despite taking place in a community of just 13,189, the March 4 show of solidarity was one of one of the largest rallies Mississippi has seen in years.

An estimated 5,000 labor and civil-rights activists undertook an urgent mission to highlight unsafe working conditions and mistreatment of workers at the plant where an overwhelming majority of workers are African Americans. It called on Nissan to stop resisting union organizing efforts, and to allow a free and fair vote on whether workers can exercise their right to collectively bargain.

The union representation vote by more than 3,500 Nissan workers takes place today and tomorrow, amid complaints that the company has continued to resist the UAW’s efforts. Just this week, the National Labor Relations Board charged that Nissan had violated workers’ rights with its over-the-top anti-union pressure tactics. And this isn’t the first time Nissan has drawn their attention.

Nissan dispute could go down as most vicious anti-union crusade in decades

Nissan’s efforts to stop workers from forming a union is an all-too-familiar story of how greedy corporations divide and conquer working people, writes Bernie Sanders

A few months before the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Dr Martin Luther King Jr wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “We know from painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

This week, thousands of courageous workers at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, are doing just that. They are voting for the right to join a union, the right to make a living wage and the right to job security and pensions. And they are doing so by connecting workers’ rights with civil rights, as the plant’s workforce is over 80% African American.

But Nissan, like other large corporations, is doing everything it can to stop these workers from forming a union. In the lead up to the vote, Nissan management has been deluging employees with anti-union literature and is threatening to close the plant if a majority of its workers vote to establish a union.

Supervisors have called workers off assembly lines for one-on-one interrogations. Anti-union videos are being run on a constant loop in employee break rooms. Groups of workers have been called into “roundtable” meetings to hear management disparage the United Auto Workers (UAW). Nissan has been saturating local TV and radio with anti-union propaganda.

What Does ‘Late Capitalism’ Really Mean?

Unpresidented

The cynical #latecapitalism meme going around social media calls out the inequities and absurdities of the modern economy. Google search interest in the phrase has more than doubled in the past year. In this episode of Unpresidented, Atlantic contributing editor Annie Lowrey explains where the phrase comes from, how it got so popular, and the deeper meaning of its current usage. For more, read her article Why the Phrase ‘Late Capitalism’ Is Suddenly Everywhere.

Venezuela’s Unprecedented Collapse


In a hastily organized plebiscite on July 16, held under the auspices of the opposition-controlled National Assembly to reject President Nicolás Maduro’s call for a National Constituent Assembly, more than 720,000 Venezuelans voted abroad. In the 2013 presidential election, only 62,311 did. Four days before the referendum, 2,117 aspirants took Chile’s medical licensing exam, of which almost 800 were Venezuelans. And on July 22, when the border with Colombia was reopened, 35,000 Venezuelans crossed the narrow bridge between the two countries to buy food and medicines.

Venezuelans clearly want out – and it’s not hard to see why. Media worldwide have been reporting on Venezuela, documenting truly horrible situations, with images of starvation, hopelessness, and rage. The cover of The Economist’s July 29 issue summed it up: “Venezuela in chaos.”

But is this just another bad run-of-the-mill recession or something more serious?

The most frequently used indicator to compare recessions is GDP. According to the International Monetary Fund, Venezuela’s GDP in 2017 is 35% below 2013 levels, or 40% in per capita terms. That is a significantly sharper contraction than during the 1929-1933 Great Depression in the United States, when US GDP is estimated to have fallen 28%. It is slightly bigger than the decline in Russia (1990-1994), Cuba (1989-1993), and Albania (1989-1993), but smaller than that experienced by other former Soviet States at the time of transition, such as Georgia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Ukraine, or war-torn countries such as Liberia (1993), Libya (2011), Rwanda (1994), Iran (1981), and, most recently, South Sudan.

Put another way, Venezuela’s economic catastrophe dwarfs any in the history of the US, Western Europe, or the rest of Latin America. And yet these numbers grossly understate the magnitude of the collapse, as ongoing work with Miguel Angel Santos, Ricardo Villasmil, Douglas Barrios, Frank Muci, and Jose Ramón Morales at Harvard’s Center for International Development is revealing.

5 WTF Aspects Of The Most Surreal Job I Ever Had

I grew up in small towns in the dead butthole center of redneck country U.S.A. Sometime around 1995, I packed up everything I owned into one large army bag, stepped onto a bus and hauled my penniless ass to Los Angeles. I basically became half a dozen Journey songs in three days.

I had heard a ton of stories about how it’s a totally different universe out there, more cartoon than reality. It wasn’t until I got my first job in Hollywood (which would become the most surreal job I’ve ever had) that I realized those stories were vast understatements. It got weird — really weird — right out of the gates.

#5. I Was Rapped At During My Job Interview


The place I ended up working was a small store in Universal Studios Hollywood called “Scientific Revolution.” It was basically a toy store that sold novelty items, loosely based around the most simplistic idea of “science.” For instance, one of the products was a hacky sack shaped like a brain. Another was a “collector’s edition” copy of the original Star Wars trilogy scripts. SCIENCE!

The interview for that job (salesperson) was the single stupidest thing I’ve ever sat through.

The assistant manager was the one conducting it. Right away, he told me out of the blue — and I’m not kidding, like three seconds after the introduction — that he wanted to be a soap opera star. He had jet-black, slicked-back hair and a perpetual five o’clock shadow that you could tell was meticulously kept that length. He wore a lab coat like all of the other employees in the store, but his was kept open to show his dress shirt, unbuttoned at the top, with a loosened tie. You know, to show how casual and aloof he was.

Right away, he asked what I did for a living. I told him, “Well, I just got into town, and I don’t have a job yet, so I’m really excited that you called me in for the interview.” He explained, “No, no, no. You’re in LA. Everybody does something here. Are you an actor? A musician? A writer? You have to be something.” I told him that I just didn’t have that kind of dream, but he was having none of it. He actually pressed me twice more until I just picked “writer” so he’d drop it.

And that’s when he started rapping.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”

Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”

Why mastery beats creativity—every time

How To Innovate


Creativity without mastery is often messy.

The idea that comes out of nowhere. The eureka moment. If we could figure out how to get there faster and automate up the process, humankind would be forever changed, right? This is something we can’t stop obsessing about as a society—but maybe we’re thinking too hard about it.

Two years ago, the New York Times reported on a whimsical new trend on college campuses: studying creativity itself. Schools were suddenly offering minors in creative thinking and asking their students to problem-solve for problem-solving’s sake. The classes seemed to make the students more confident, and had benefits that were tangible if slight: one student figured out a quicker way to re-shelve DVDs at his library job.

And yet this worship of creativity has haunted me since I first read the article. Aren’t we thinking of “creativity” too broadly here? Is it truly something we can study on its own, divorced from the problems and distractions and flash cards of the real world?

The commonly-accepted definition of “creativity” is quite vague: “a novel work that is accepted as tenable or useful or satisfying by a group in some point in time.” But that definition does have its roots in neuroscience. Creativity is a characteristic born in Homo sapiens by virtue of extended cortical development, which served to privilege environmental influences on the brain over a genetic determinism. Recent studies have suggested that creative people are more fluent in generating responses to problems overall. And generating responses is part of what the study of creativity teaches.

A highly successful attempt at genetic editing of human embryos has opened the door to eradicating inherited diseases

New Era


Tiny Edit.

On July 26, Shoukhrat Mitalipov woke up to headlines about his research: “First human embryos edited in US,” said one; “Genome of viable human embryos edited in controversial study,” said another. Normally, this would be a cause for celebration for the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) professor. But in this case, all the media coverage did was stress him out—his study wasn’t supposed to be published until Aug. 2.

“I don’t know how it got leaked,” Mitalipov said on July 28. “It’s likely because of a combination of hot words: Crispr, gene-editing, and designer babies.”

He sounded annoyed, and justifiably so. The articles had rung alarm bells about “designer babies” engineered to have advantageous genetic traits, but his research was far from proving that a possibility. Although it did involve the use of human embryos—which is a union of egg and sperm—it also wasn’t particularly controversial. In 2015, after a long debate, experts at the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that this sort of research on human embryos should be encouraged. And in fact, one prominent news story that called Mitalipov’s study “controversial” actually contained testimonies from two bioethicists who supported the study (the headline has since been changed).

Scary toddlers and super creeps – helicopter parenting and the rise of ‘kindergarten horror’

Today’s horror films are being hit by a new wave of creepy clowns, dolls and kids. Are fans reclaiming childhoods stolen by overbearing parents?


Little terrors … Cult of Chucky.

There’s nothing like a horror movie for homing in on society’s open wounds and picking at them until they bleed. But if, in the first decade of the 21st century, “torture porn” was the genre’s way of reflecting the brutality and nihilism of a new world order, and if zombie movies could be read as metaphors of everything from ebola to the credit crunch, then what are we to make of the current trend for creepy dolls, creepy clowns and creepy kids?

If I call this “kindergarten horror”, it’s not intended as an insult (watching these spookfests with a rowdy but attentive audience can be a blast), but if you check out any recent horror movies – or even just their trailers – you’ll see the same imagery cropping up so often that it feels as though you’re stuck in a gruesome variation on Groundhog Day. Get a load of those dolls (Annabelle: Creation, Cult of Chucky, The Conjuring 3), clowns (It, Crepitus, Clowntown) or clown masks (Rock Paper Dead, Happy Death Day) and creepy kids (Ouija: Origin of Evil, Sinister 2, The Darkness) possessed by vengeful ghosts or ancient Babylonian deities.

There have always been creepy dolls, kids and clowns in horror movies, of course – from the original Chucky to The Shining’s Grady twins. Lately, though, their ranks have swollen to epidemic proportions. And if it’s not dolls, clowns or kids, it’s ominously bouncing balls, or evil musical boxes, or clockwork monkeys. It’s as though today’s horror cinema has hijacked the innocent iconography of childhood and twisted it into one long nursery-rhyme-themed nightmare.

Could this be a response to the “helicopter parenting” of the past couple of decades, in which (largely middle-class) parents have wielded unprecedented control over their offspring’s daily lives?

A Dinosaur So Well Preserved It Looks Like a Statue

Borealopelta, discovered accidentally by Canadian miners, is one of the most spectacular fossil finds of all time.

In March 2011, a construction worker named Shawn Funk visited an impressive dinosaur collection at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta. As he walked through halls full of ancient bones, he had no idea that a week later, he’d add to their ranks by finding one of the most spectacular dinosaur fossils of all time. It’s an animal so well preserved that its skeleton can’t be seen for the skin and soft tissues that still cover it.

When we look at dinosaurs in museums, it takes imagination to plaster flesh and skin on top of the bones. But for the dinosaur that Funk unearthed—a 110-million-year-old creature named Borealopelta—imagination isn’t necessary. It looks like a sculpture. And based on pigments that still lurk within the skin, scientists think they know what colors the animal had. “If someone wants to come face to face with a dinosaur, and see what it actually looked like, this is the one for that,” says Caleb Brown from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, who has studied the animal.

Borealopelta was one of the ankylosaurs—a group of heavy-set, low-slung, tank-like dinosaurs. It lacked the shin-thwacking tail clubs that some of its relatives wielded, but its back was covered in heavy, armored scales, and a pair of 20-inch-long spikes jutted from its shoulders. It weighed 1.5 tons and was 20 feet from foot to tail. And it probably couldn’t swim very well.

Japan has engineered an ice cream that “doesn’t melt”

In Good Shape


Won’t melt until you bite it.

In Japan’s humid summers, some popsicles are staying cool even in the heat.

An accidental discovery at Kanazawa-based Biotherapy Development Research Center helped create popsicles that don’t melt, and they’re available for sale in parts of Japan. Kanazawa Ice—also known as “not melting popsicles”—first hit stores in the northwestern city Kanazawa in April, reported Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, before rolling out in Osaka and Tokyo.

The secret ingredient that helps the popsicles keep their shape is polyphenol liquid extracted from strawberries. “Polyphenol liquid has properties to make it difficult for water and oil to separate so that a popsicle containing it will be able to retain the original shape of the cream for a longer time than usual and be hard to melt,” said Tomihisa Ota, the popsicle’s developer.

The company didn’t set out to create popsicles that don’t melt. It came into the discovery by surprise when it tapped a pastry chef to try to use strawberry polyphenol to create a new kind of confectionary, an attempt to make use of strawberries, which were not in good enough shape to be sold, from Miyagi Prefecture, which is still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The pastry chef complained that cream would solidify when it came in contract with polyphenol.

THE TWO GRAVES OF MAD ANTHONY WAYNE

Historians tell many stories about heroes who are so beloved that everyone wants a piece of them. In the case of this man, they mean it literally.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

Great generals frequently earn descriptive nicknames: “Blood and Guts” Patton, “Black Jack” Pershing, and “Stonewall” Jackson, to name a few. Revolutionary War hero “Mad Anthony” Wayne got his nickname for his bravery in battle—he was bold, he took big risks…and he won. His forces smashed the British in a surprise attack on Stony Point, New York; he led the American victory at Monmouth, New Jersey; and he prevented a disastrous rout at Brandywine in Pennsylvania. Washington’s reports repeatedly praised Major General Wayne for his leadership and valor, and the Continental Congress awarded him a special gold medal celebrating the victory at Stony Point.

Wayne was born near Philadelphia on New Year’s Day, 1745. He grew up to be a surveyor, then took over as manager of the family tannery until the Revolutionary War began. When the war ended, Wayne returned to civilian life, but his fighting days weren’t over yet. In 1792 President Washington called him out of retirement for one last combat mission.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Just when the Steele dossier had faded from view, Trump brings it up on Twitter.

Donald Trump keeps threatening his hostages. Except he has no hostages.

After Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department will challenge affirmative action, Jordan Klepper and Roy Wood Jr. weigh in on the discrimination of white people.

The White House is all part of a reality show called “The Celebrity Appresident,” and the producers are here with an inside look.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.

Republicans have been sabotaging Obamacare since it first passed, and somehow they still don’t have the hang of it.

Join Kris Kobach as he travels from town to town, bringing bankruptcy, racism and music! (And somehow sexy Hamilton is there!)

We went to the one place where Trump is universally beloved: Iraq.

THANKS to TBS and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee for making this program available on YouTube.

We’re still paying for Richard Nixon’s war on black people and hippies … sorry, ‘War on Crime’ … and now Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump want to take it to the extreme.

IT’S ROMANCE MONTH! To celebrate watch this romantic STORYTIME with Simon’s Cat. Follow Simon on his internet dating journey through a selection of classic black & white episodes!

Are you a cat mum or dad who has had similar experiences with your cats?! Does your cat or kitten affect your love life? Or is Simon’s Cat an exception?

The new guns have been specifically designed to appeal to gay community.

THANKS to Comedy Network and The Beaverton for making this program available on YouTube.

Max decided to make his room explode.

FINALLY . . .

CBD Success Stories: How Cannabidiol Improves Lives


Cannabidiol isn’t psychoactive and can be purchased by people of all ages if it’s derived from hemp.


Colorado is known for majestic mountains, craft breweries and, of course, its wonderful world of weed. However, not everyone knows to take advantage of the state’s most progressive medicinal plant-based resource: cannabidiol, or CBD.

A compound known to produce medical benefits in both humans and animals, CBD is available in many formats for consumption. Hemp-based CBD products derived from plants with less than 0.3 percent THC are currently legal to produce in Colorado without a license from the Marijuana Enforcement Division and to sell in all fifty states. But cannabis-based CBD products in marijuana dispensaries are extracted from plants with much higher THC contents, and are highly regulated at a state level. Both are becoming increasingly popular among patients and retail consumers alike – so what’s all the fuss about?

Humans are all born with endocannabinoid systems, a network of cannabinoid receptors in our brains and bodies that receive CBD. Our bodies generate CBD by themselves, but can benefit from externally introduced CBD through ingestion or inhalation. So while you might think all of your pot-loving friends are only taking dabs and smoking bowls, they might also be downing droppers of CBD hemp oil for pain management in the morning and consuming CBD isolate powder as a sleep aid at night.

As lucky as we are to live in Colorado’s cannabis haven, it’s important to arm ourselves with knowledge about CBD and its healing effects – but that can create a lot of questions: What kind of CBD is best for me? Should I use THC at all? Where can I find what I need? Don’t worry: We’ve done the legwork for you. Here are six instances in which CBD helps Mile High residents, from treating Multiple Sclerosis to enhancing love lives.

Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Not?