August 10, 2017 in 4,635 words

Wins for Cory Gardner ADAPT Protesters in Cases That Made Him Run Away

Dawn Russell’s case involving a January protest against Senator Cory Gardner was dismissed

Charges against Dawn Russell and Elizabeth Moseley in relation to an ADAPT protest of Senator Cory Gardner in January have been dismissed. This decision, which came down on the same day that cases against five Democratic Socialists of America members who demonstrated against the senator at a July sit-in were also tossed (at Gardner’s request), helps explain why the senator recently relocated his offices from the Chase Bank building, a commercial enterprise, to a federal building.

“These things absolutely contributed to that move,” maintains attorney David Lane, who represented Russell and Moseley.

The details of the January protest are contained within the Russell and Moseley dismissal order, accessible below. As the document notes, the first ADAPT case, which preceded one in June involving Wheelchair Sports Camp’s Kayln Heffernan that’s still working its way through the legal system, focused on a group of protesters who arrived at the Chase Bank building with the goal of visiting Gardner’s office, on the fifth floor of the structure, and demanding that he not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. However, building management prevented them from doing so, and when the activists, many of them disabled, refused to vacate the premises, they were cited for trespassing.

Finally, Democrats are looking in the mirror. That’s reason for optimism.

One of the awesome things about the Democratic manifesto? It is a tacit admission by the party that it needs to change course.

This is only the first glimmering of the larger sort of self-appraisal.

At the end of July, the leadership of the Democratic party bestirred themselves from their comfortable Washington haunts and paid a visit to a small town in Virginia, where they assumed a populist guise and announced before the cameras of the world that they were regular folks just like you.

The occasion for this performance was the launch of a Democratic party manifesto that bears the uninspiring name, A Better Deal. Its purpose, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer wrote in the New York Times, was to “show the country that we’re the party on the side of working people”.

Famous for being one of Wall Street’s greatest friends in Washington, Schumer makes for an unlikely populist. Still, reacquainting Democrats with their working-class roots is a worthy goal, and a politically necessary one these days.

Working people have been deserting the Democratic party for decades, making possible numerous Republican triumphs. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out how to appeal to them in the fourth decade of the great race to the bottom.

Adopting some of Bernie Sanders’s proposals would be eminently suitable for such an endeavor: universal healthcare, free college, going after the big banks, to name a few.

Is Mike Pence the “Deep State” That Trump Fears?

The vice president is clearly planning for a post-Trump presidency. But is he also trying to accelerate Trump’s demise?

Last summer, the idea of being Donald Trump’s running mate was so fraught and distasteful that Trump was forced to choose from a shortlist of Republican Party mediocrities, has-beens, and hangers-on—including ethical basket-cases like Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Last summer, the idea of being Donald Trump’s running mate was so fraught and distasteful that Trump was forced to choose from a shortlist of Republican Party mediocrities, has-beens, and hangers-on—including ethical basket-cases like Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Pence may or may not be Agnew, but he isn’t Ford either, and if he inherits the presidency from a beleaguered Trump, he won’t ever be able to escape Trump’s fetid aroma.

The Danger of an Incurious President

There are an infinite number of questions to ask of history. For instance, is Frederick Douglass being recognized more and more? (Yes, partly because he’s doing an amazing job but mostly because he’s dating Taylor Swift.) Or here’s a basic question we as a species should pose to the 20th century every Aug. 6 (the anniversary of Hiroshima) through 9 (Nagasaki): What if fewer children were killed?

On Aug. 10, 1945, that query was on President Harry Truman’s mind. According to a cabinet secretary’s diary, the day after the five-ton nuclear weapon nicknamed Fat Man obliterated Nagasaki, Truman “didn’t like the idea of killing, as he said, ‘all those kids.’ ”

Lately, President Truman has been in my thoughts. Not because Franklin Roosevelt’s death drop-kicked him into the Oval Office unprepared, though that does resonate, but because of his secretary of war, Henry L. Stimson. He had visited Kyoto in the 1920s and persuaded the president to take the city off the list of potential targets for atomic bombs. As Stimson recalled in Harper’s in 1947: “Although it was a target of considerable military importance, it had been the ancient capital of Japan and was a shrine of Japanese art and culture. We determined that it should be spared.”

Trump gets a folder full of positive news about himself twice a day

It’s known as the “propaganda document”

Twice a day since the beginning of the Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up, around 4:30 p.m. Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the 20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources say.

These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful.

One White House official said the only feedback the White House communications shop, which prepares the folder, has ever gotten in all these months is: “It needs to be more fucking positive.” That’s why some in the White House ruefully refer to the packet as “the propaganda document.”

Top Democratic, Republican health experts agree on this plan to fix Obamacare

A prominent and unlikely group of liberal and conservative health experts have authored an ambitious plan to fix the Affordable Care Act — and they plan to make a hard push for their ideas on Capitol Hill. The plan is notable because it has the support of especially well-connected health advisers on both sides of the aisle.

This new plan would aim to bring more stability to the Obamacare marketplaces by securing funding for key health law subsidies and ensuring strong incentives to enroll in coverage. In a nod to conservative priorities, it would also allow states more flexibility to pursue experimental waivers and higher contributions to tax-advantaged health savings accounts.

Those ideas aren’t new. Other plans to fix the health care law released in recent months have made similar arguments about continuing the CSR payments and incentivizing enrollment; there is a pretty clear consensus about how you stabilize the individual market, if that is Congress’s goal.

The big deal here is who now supports that plan. The group includes both Democrats who advocated vociferously for Obamacare’s passage and Republicans who have served in previous administrations or advised recent presidential candidates, and who have argued for scrapping much or all of the law. It’s not a bunch of centrist health policy experts. In fact, those who began the effort specifically wanted to avoid a centrist effort. They felt it was important to have experts who are generally divided on health care issues. If that group could come together, then Congress might have a shot too.

5 people from around the world share what it’s like to have single-payer healthcare

The United States is the only wealthy, industrialized country that lacks universal healthcare.

Some proponents of the US model say this increases people’s level of choice, allowing citizens to pick the plan that is right for them.

Advocates for a single-payer model argue government-funded care significantly reduces cost and provides a stronger social safety net.

Business Insider spoke with a handful of people around the world to find out how single-payer actually shakes out.

The Debt-Ceiling Crisis Is Real

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, at a budget meeting last week.

Sometime in October, the United States is likely to default on its obligation to pay its bills as they come due, having failed to raise the federal debt ceiling. This will cost the Treasury tens of billions of dollars every year for decades to come in higher interest charges and probably trigger a severe recession.

The debt ceiling is politically imposed, and the decision not to raise it, and therefore to choose to default, is also political. It’s something America has avoided in the past. This time, though, will be different.

This country has hit the debt ceiling once, in 1979, and then largely by accident and only to a minor extent. But even that foot fault was estimated to cost the United States about 0.6 percent in higher interest costs for an indefinite period. More recently, congressional debt ceiling brinkmanship in 2011 led Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the credit rating of the United States.

An increase in Treasury interest rates of just 0.2 percent a year would cost the government about $400 billion over the next 10 years. It also would lead to higher borrowing costs for American businesses, because borrowing rates are set by reference to Treasury rates. Moreover, each month holders of tens of billions of dollars in valid claims against the United States would go unpaid, triggering a major recession.

7 Huge Apocalypses (That Might Happen In Your Lifetime)

These days, it’s hard not to be a little jaded when it comes to disaster. Every day, we’re reminded of the threat of global warming, terrorist attacks, and the fact that someone could just tweet us into the Apocalypse. So we’re pretty detached from the kinds of massive earth-shaking terrors that have shaped human history in the past, but don’t worry, there are lots more global tragedies coming down the tube, for example…

#7. A Catastrophic Flood Is About To Turn California Into A Lake

Ask Californians about the most pressing natural-disaster issue facing them and they’ll tell you it’s the so-called “Big One” — the long-anticipated San Andreas Fault earthquake that, according to Hollywood scholars, will sink the whole west coast into the sea, leaving only Dwayne Johnson to save us all. But while we wait for that probably overblown scenario, they seem to have forgotten about the true threat to the birthplace of Michael Bay movies: the surprisingly reliable California Superstorm.

The California Superstorm happens every 100-200 years and drowns the whole state in a catastrophic flood. And oh, good heavens, would you just look at the time. The last time this megaflood struck the Golden State was in 1862 when it rained for an excessively biblical 42 days and nights. The deluge not only drowned thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of cattle, but it temporarily forced California to move its capital from Sacramento to San Francisco and bankrupted the entire state. In some places, the tops of telegraph poles were submerged, and survivors were forced to travel by rowboat.

From Venice Beach to Venice, Italy.

And the next one isn’t going to be any better. According to a simulation called “ARkStorm” (short for “Atmospheric River 1000 Storm” and proof that scientists shouldn’t be allowed to name things), researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey project that a stretch of the Central Valley 300 miles long and 20 miles wide will be completely underwater. One quarter of the houses in the entire state of California will suffer some kind of flood damage. “Cities up and down the coast of California would flood. Winds would howl 60 to 125 miles per hour, and landslides would make roads impassable.” So, at most, Americans have 45 years to figure out something the Native Americans have known since forever: California is the biggest of the Great Lakes.

Economists have put a price on pain, and it’s $56-$145 a day

Bring The Pain

Even pain has its price.

Economists can put a dollar value on anything. Even pain.

In a recently released working paper (paywall), economists from the University of Iceland and the University of Michigan set out to quantify just how much it’s worth to people to live a life without pain. They estimate that for people in the US age 50 and older, avoiding chronic pain is worth somewhere between $56 and $145 a day.

The act of putting a monetary value on pain might seem ridiculous. It’s not. As the researchers point out, since governments pay partly or fully for health care in many countries, they have to compare the value of money spent on providing and researching pain relief to the value of other spending priorities, such as improving highways. And to quantify the value of pain-relief research, you have to know how much pain relief is worth to people with pain.

Usually, economists rely on markets to tell them the values of things. A researcher can get a pretty good sense of how much people value coffee just by going to Starbucks. But because chronic pain relief is usually not provided in a market setting, researchers have to be more creative.

Maybe Americans don’t need fast home Internet service, FCC suggests

By saying mobile is good enough, FCC could find that deployment problem is solved.

Americans might not need a fast home Internet connection, the Federal Communications Commission suggests in a new document. Instead, mobile Internet via a smartphone might be all people need.

The suggestion comes in the FCC’s annual inquiry into broadband availability. Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act requires the FCC to determine whether broadband (or more formally, “advanced telecommunications capability”) is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. If the FCC finds that broadband isn’t being deployed quickly enough to everyone, it is required by law to “take immediate action to accelerate deployment of such capability by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and by promoting competition in the telecommunications market.”

The FCC found during George W. Bush’s presidency that fast Internet service was being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion. But during the Obama administration, the FCC determined repeatedly that broadband isn’t reaching Americans fast enough, pointing in particular to lagging deployment in rural areas. These analyses did not consider mobile broadband to be a full replacement for a home (or “fixed”) Internet connection via cable, fiber, or some other technology.

Last year, the FCC updated its analysis with a conclusion that Americans need home and mobile access. Because home Internet connections and smartphones have different capabilities and limitations, Americans should have access to both instead of just one or the other, the FCC concluded under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Ten years ago today, people weren’t that worried about impending financial doom

20/20 Hindsight

Got a bad feeling about this…

If we knew then what we know now…

Ten years ago today, all was not well with the global financial system. On Aug. 9, 2007 BNP Paribas froze more than $2 billion in funds, barring investors from withdrawing their money due to a “complete evaporation of liquidity in certain market segments.”

This marked the beginning of a dangerous new phase in what eventually developed into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Central banks scrambled to prop up money markets, banks, and other investors rushed to dump subprime-laced securities, and trust between market players completely evaporated. About a year later, Lehman Brothers collapsed and then things got really scary.

But back in August 2007, it wasn’t clear what was coming. (Indeed, the boss of BNP Paribas said that the bank’s exposure to toxic subprime assets was “absolutely negligible” just days before it was forced to freeze billions worth of funds.) A scan of news reports at the time captures a general sense of unease, but also reveals how the financial crisis caught many people off-guard in the markets and said little to the general public, who were trying to make sense of it all.

Stop Equating “Science” With Truth

Evolutionary psychology is just the most obvious example of science’s flaws.

It’s 2017, and people are still debating whether or not women are intellectually inferior to men, and whether we are entitled to a workplace that isn’t toxic to people simply based on their gender and sex. The Google employee memo about the apparent harms of diversity policies in Silicon Valley is both a shocking news story for the general public and for many women and gender minorities—especially of color—working in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine, a banal sign of normalcy.

At least science is helping us make progress, right? Science is sold to us as an almost holy, objective pursuit: a pure endeavor, a way of pursuing truth and only truth. As a high school senior planning to study physics and astronomy in college, I was thoroughly convinced that solving quantum gravity would trickle down to improved human relations. Of course, I was adorably naïve about both the difficulty that quantum gravity presented us (we’ve made little progress in the 18 years since I started university) and about the relationship between science and humanity’s various imperfections.

My education as a scientist did little to disabuse me of this simple view of science as a great unifier, as an objective means of distilling information. When skeptical members of my family argued that physics was dangerous because of nuclear weapons, I pointed out that it wasn’t science that was the problem but rather how people used it. But nowhere is it more evident that this perspective is flawed than when we consider the uses and abuses of evolutionary biology and its sibling, evolutionary psychology.

The secret to office happiness isn’t working less—it’s caring less


Footloose, fancy free.

We live in an age of “total work.” It’s a term coined by the German philosopher Josef Pieper just after World War II—describing the process by which human beings are transformed into workers, and the entirety of life is then transformed into work. Work becomes total when all of human life is centered around it; when everything else is not just subordinate to, but in the service of work. Leisure, festivity, and play come to resemble work—and then straight-up become it.

Even our co-circular habits play into total work. People work out, rest and relax, eat well, and remain in good health for the sake of being more productive. We believe in working on ourselves as well as on our relationships. We think of our days off in terms of getting things done. And we take a good day to be a day in which we were productive.

But caring as much as we do about work is causing us needless suffering. In my role as a practical philosopher, I speak daily with individuals from Silicon Valley to Scandinavia about their obsessions with work—obsessions that, by their own accounts, are making them miserable. Nevertheless, they assume that work is worth caring a lot about because of the fulfillments and rewards it supplies, so much so that it should be the center of life.

The Moral History of Air-Conditioning

Cooling the air was once seen as sinful. Maybe the idea wasn’t entirely wrong. An Object Lesson.

Willis Carrier, the engineer who coined the term “air-conditioning,” holds a thermometer inside a display that demonstrates air-conditioning at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.

Until the 20th century, only the wealthy or dying might have witnessed someone trying to cool the air indoors—even though building a fire to keep warm in the winter would have been perfectly reasonable. Extreme heat was seen as a force that humans shouldn’t tamper with, and the idea that a machine could control the weather was deemed sinful. Even into the early 1900s, the U.S. Congress avoided the use of manufactured air in the Capitol, afraid voters would mock them for not being able to sweat like everyone else.

While adoption of air-conditioning demanded industrial ingenuity, it also required renouncing the vice of cooling the inside air. But in the process of shedding its hypothetical moral slight against the heavens, the air conditioner has perpetrated worse, actual sins against the Earth.

* * *

Despite the shadow of immorality, breakthroughs in air-conditioning developed out of desperation. Doctors scrambling to heal the sick took particular interest. In 1851, a Florida doctor named John Gorrie received a patent for the first ice machine. According to Salvatore Basile, the author of Cool: How Air-Conditioning Changed Everything, Gorrie hadn’t initially sought to invent such an apparatus. He’d been trying to alleviate high fevers in malaria patients with cooled air. To this end, he designed an engine that could pull in air, compress it, then run it through pipes, allowing the air to cool as it expanded.

Outside of his office though, people saw no practical need for this achievement. It wasn’t until the pipes on Gorrie’s machine unexpectedly froze and began to develop ice that he found a new opportunity. Still, this accomplishment was lampooned as sacrilege in The New York Globe: “There is Dr. Gorrie, a crank … that thinks he can make ice by his machine as good as God Almighty.”

The Eclipse as Dark Omen

America’s skies are set to dim at a strange hour of its history.

To experience transcendence during a solar eclipse is a privilege of modernity. I know a man who once sailed to a remote island in the South Pacific to see an eclipse, and having caught the bug on that trip, later flew to see another in Svalbard, where local law required him to keep a shotgun handy, lest he end up a warm meal for a polar bear. If I had to compress his field reports from these far-flung eclipse viewings into a single word, it would be wonder. In that, he’s no outlier. Wonder is the dominant theme of recent eclipse accounts, whose general spirit is captured by a 1925 article in The New York Times that described an eclipse as “the most magnificent free show nature presents to man.”

These breathless reports of “magnificence” represent a radical break with the historical literature on eclipses. For Shakespeare, an eclipse was a “stain on the sun that portended no good.” Milton compared the eerie light of the eclipsed sun to the tarnished glow of the fallen Lucifer. And these are relatively recent accounts. The eclipse myths of antiquity were more unsettling still.

It’s no surprise that eclipses used to trouble us. One behavior that distinguishes humans from animals is the considerable energy we devote to observing the sky. Some form of stargazing likely took hold among other species, especially the Neanderthals, who shared our upright-ape body plan, a natural advantage for looking at the sky. Several of our fellow creatures respond to the moon’s phases—and much else, I’m sure, given that our understanding of animal consciousness is so impoverished. But humans are a special case. We are obsessed with the sky, in part because we recognize its dangers.

Other creatures may fear thunder and lightning, but only a species with written records can remember the devastation that follows in an asteroid’s wake. And only humans feel philosophical dread when looking at the sky. Whether you’re gazing up at the blue, sunlit vault of noon, or peering through a telescope into a dark, galaxy-filled vista, the sky always conceals deeper recesses. It always confronts you with a vision of the unknown.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Kare Russo acts as an “eclipse doctor” for small communities that suddenly find themselves in the path of a total solar eclipse.

THANKS to HBO and VICE News for making this program available on YouTube.

Vladimir Putin’s favorability ratings have tripled among Americans in recent years – and the polls say he’s most popular among Republicans. To find out why, Paul Lewis travels to deeply conservative Alabama in the run-up to next week’s Republican Senate primary to choose a replacement for Jeff Sessions. He finds Putin’s rising popularity may actually be explained through the same Christian evangelical community backing Roy Moore, Alabama’s famed ‘Ten Commandments Judge’ turned Senate frontrunner.

Donald Trump’s plan to hire more Border Patrol agents could lead to more corruption and misconduct. If only their recruitment ads were designed to attract the most suitable applicants.

THANKS to HBO and Last Week Tonight for making this program available on YouTube.

The President has reportedly been sending private ‘greetings’ messages to the man leading the Russia probe. So why not greetings cards?

Having studied improv at The Second City in Chicago, Stephen gives the President some pointers after witnessing the improvised disaster that was Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ threat to North Korea.

The Lord Almighty drops by the Late Show to alleviate Stephen’s existential distress.

THANKS to CBS and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.

Jordan Klepper asks former KGB operative Jack Barsky to analyze the relationship between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After hearing Ivanka Trump’s ideas on maternity leave, childcare and sexual harassment, Michelle Wolf breaks down why the first daughter’s brand of feminism is self-serving.

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

We read the Steve Bannon book so you don’t have to spend the rest of your life showering.

A brief look at the one place Trump has been extremely prolific: judicial appointments.

Meet the Iraqi women who are queens of the land, bosses of alllll the shit, and whose fearlessness inspired us.

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

Seth takes a closer look at how Trump is tackling the North Korea’s nuclear weapons program without trust from diplomats or being able to stop himself from lashing out on Twitter.

THANKS to NBC and Late Night with Seth Meyers for making this program available on YouTube.

How do Scarlett Johansson, Mindy Kaling, and Melissa McCarthy and other women put up with this crap? Typical question for male celebrities on red carpet interviews: “How did you mentally prepare for such a challenging role?” Typical question for female celebrities: “So, like, were you able to wear panties in your costume?” What kind of questions are these?

Cats often do hilarious and unexpected things. Watch THIS video to see cats doing something very unusual — acting like dogs!

When you are having fun with your bird and they give you the “man, he is crazy” look.


Dear USA Today: Marijuana Hasn’t Devastated Colorado

Jeff Hunt, the vice president of public policy at Colorado Christian University, invited Westword and others to share his op-ed titled “Marijuana Devastated Colorado, Don’t Legalize It Nationally” earlier this week. Although we declined, USA Today obliged in spreading Hunt’s reefer-madness gospel on August 7. And Hunt’s piece — as well as the alleged facts, studies and sources he used to hammer home his point — elicited quite the response.

Several members of Colorado’s cannabis industry, along with attorneys and legislators, have voiced strong displeasure with Hunt’s opinions, which he said he was sharing in hopes of rallying prohibitionists against New Jersey Senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, a bill that would make marijuana legal federally. Hunt has been a vocal opponent of legalized marijuana in Colorado, creating a petition to ban the Denver 420 Rally and even agreeing to publicly debate the event’s attorney, Rob Corry.

We reached out to Hunt to discuss his warning to the nation, but he hasn’t responded. He might be busy arming himself with better information for that debate than what he cited in his recent op-ed…unless he’s counting on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to be the moderator.

Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Not?