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 91 
 on: Dec 07, 2016, 05:48 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
December 7, 2016

Study shows there is no ‘safe’ level of smoking

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

Even if you just smoke “a little bit,” it could have a significant negative impact on your health, according to a new JAMA Internal Medicine study that showed even averaging less than one cigarette per day could more than double a person’s risk of premature death.

According to NBC News and Youth Health magazine, Dr. Maki Inoue-Choi, an epidemiologist with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and her colleagues found that people who smoked one cigarette per day had a 64% higher risk of earlier death than those who never smoked, and those having one to 10 cigarettes per day were 87% more likely to die prematurely than non-smokers.

The study authors looked at data from more than 290,000 older Americans (ages 59 to 82), and found that compared with individuals who never used cigarettes, regular low-intensity smokers had a higher risk of death from all causes. Furthermore, the researchers found kicking the habit early was linked to a progressively reduced risk of earlier death.

“The results of this study support health warnings that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke,” Dr. Inoue-Choi said in an interview with NBC News on Monday. “Together, these findings indicate that smoking even a small number of cigarettes per day has substantial negative health effects and provide further evidence that smoking cessation benefits all smokers, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke.”

Dr. Inoue-Choi’s team studied 290,215 older adults (aged 59 to 82) who completed the 2004-2005 questionnaire in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. Based on their answers, the authors determined that 7.7% of responders currently used cigarettes, 53.9.% had quit and 38.4% never smoked.

Compared to those who had never smoked, even consistently low-intensity smokers (10 or less cigarettes per day) faced a higher risk of death from all causes, and links were found throughout all smoking-related causes of death. The findings “provide further evidence that there is no risk-free level of exposure to tobacco smoke,” the study authors wrote.

The study was not without its limitations, as Youth Health noted. It relied on responders recalling their smoking history, including activity that happened several decades ago and may or may not be accurate. In addition, while a large number of individuals were surveyed, there were relatively few persistent low-intensity smokers, the researchers pointed out in a statement.

Furthermore, the majority of the participants were between the ages of 60 and 79, and white, according to Youth Health. That means that the findings reflect only one particular ethnic and age group. Future studies should involve younger populations, as well as an array of different racial and ethnic groups, as low-intensity smoking historically has been more common among minorities, the magazine said.

Despite its limitations, however, the authors of the study conclude that their findings prove that “all smokers should be targeted for smoking cessation, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke per day. Further studies are needed to examine the health risks of low-intensity cigarette smoking in combination with electronic nicotine delivery systems and other tobacco products.”

 92 
 on: Dec 07, 2016, 05:46 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
December 7, 2016

Newly found fossil could be the first animal to walk on land

by Brett Smith
Red Orbit

Fossils of what could possibly be the earliest four-legged vertebrates to walk on land were recently found in Scotland, according to a new report in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The team behind the discovery said the lizard-like animals that left behind these fossils lived approximately 355 million years ago when the precursors of modern reptiles, birds, and mammals appeared out of swamps.

The researchers said some fossil fragments look like lizards or newts, and some are bigger, with crocodile-like dimensions.

"We're lifting the lid on a key part of the evolutionary story of life on land," team member Jennifer Clack, of the University of Cambridge, told BBC News. "What happened then affects everything that happens subsequently - so it affects the fact that we are here and which other animals live with us today."

About 360 years ago, several kinds of life, including early on fish, were wiped out a global extinction event. For roughly the next 15 million years, a major time in the progression of four-legged vertebrates, there is a hole in the fossil record.

To put it another way-- we know very little around how fish-like animals developed the limbs that could help them on land.

Nick Fraser, of National Museums Scotland, said modern-day Scotland just might have been where the first land animals emerged from the water.

"If you want to draw the analogy to Neil Armstrong's first step on the Moon,” he said, “it was one small step for man but a giant leap for mankind, well, this in some ways is a small step out of the water for these animals but it's a giant leap forward for the future evolution of life on land."

Just a few locations on the planet have produced similar fossils from this time period. One site is in Scotland, west of Glasgow, where only a single fossil has been discovered. Fossils bits have also been discovered in the US and Canada.

 93 
 on: Dec 07, 2016, 05:26 AM 
Started by The Otherside - Last post by Helena
Hi Rad,

much appreciation for you thoughts on this.

Thank you very much,
Helena

 94 
 on: Dec 07, 2016, 02:56 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by marty
hello all,

   I'll make a try at the synastry charts of Shaw and Chloe.

   Chloe’s Jupiter, moon, Chiron, Neptune stellium in Aquarius are conjunct his skipped step (Neptune in Aquarius, 7th house). Her proclivity toward the dream state, subliminal messages and inner revelation would cause intrusion, not only in his physical space, but also entering deep into his psychic space.

   She could drain him of the critical alone time that he needs to dream and wonder on his own and explore his own path to imagination and higher receptivity. She is learning boundaries the hard way.

   He needs deep alone time and she would interrupt his personal, somewhat erratic mental processes, almost like static on a radio. Her skipped step, Venus, opposes his Mercury. Her understanding of her need to find her own personal direction will, hopefully in time, allow him the solitude that he so values this lifetime. His creative vision time (Neptune in the 7th) is every bit as important as hers.

   Shaw’s Mercury in Aries, in the 10th house opposes her Mercury in Libra in the 4th, and also her Venus in Libra (her skipped step). Here I can see that she might irritate him by getting in his ‘space’, as Rad pointed out. He needs personal boundaries and she needs to learn to stop projecting idealized, parental images onto him and learn to search within herself for emotional balance.

   Her Pluto is, of course conjunct his moon, but in his sixth house and in Capricorn. It seems to suggest a shared ancestral lineage – one that is seeking forgiveness on many levels which should, ultimately, help him to feel at home in his new phase egocentric structure (moon) to his Pluto which is learning to synthesize old jealousies and frustrations into new ways to not objectify his anger.

   Her Mercury / sun/ Ceres are also on his So. Node in his fourth house suggesting mental struggles and a vying for sustenance in their shared past.

   just an attempt - thank you for your time.

 95 
 on: Dec 06, 2016, 10:55 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Pussy Riot member warns: ‘When Putin came to power, everybody was thinking that it will be OK’

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
06 Dec 2016 at 09:28 ET                  

Nadya Tolokonnikova — the Russian artist, activist and Pussy Riot member — warned Americans not to grow complacent after the election of Donald Trump, who she said has the power to reshape political norms to his own benefit.

She said many Russians, including the wealthy oligarchs who helped engineer his rise to power, failed to appreciate the threat Vladimir Putin posed to the nation’s fledgling democratic institutions until it was too late, reported the New York Times.

“It’s important not to say to yourself, ‘Oh, it’s okay,’” Tolokonnikova said. “It’s important to remember that, for example, in Russia, for the first year of when Vladimir Putin came to power, everybody was thinking that it will be okay.”

Tolokonnikova and her bandmate, Maria Alyokhina, were among the Putin critics who were arrested, shoved into exile, forced to give up their businesses or murdered.

She and Alyokhina were sentenced to two years in prison for their 2012 guerrilla performance brutally mocking Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, and they have become international symbols for the authoritarian leader’s crackdown on free speech.

They were released in December 2013 under an amnesty passed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Russia’s constitution.

Trump has frequently praised Putin and said his killing of critical journalists makes him a “strong leader,” and Tolokonnikova warned Americans that their democratic institutions are vulnerable to the same threats.

“It is a common phrase right now that ‘America has institutions,’” Tolokonnikova said. “It does. But a president has power to change institutions and a president moreover has power to change public perception of what is normal, which could lead to changing institutions.”

 96 
 on: Dec 06, 2016, 10:32 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi Everyone,

Ok, we will now begin, simply, our EA investigation and understanding of the psychological/ emotional, and soul dynamics between Shaw and his sister Chloe.

We will do this by using the synastry charts between both of them. First,  we will examine Shaw's natal chart with the synastry overlay of his sisters chart. Shaw's birth chart is the inner wheel, and his sisters the outer wheel. Synastry charts correlate to the dynamics that occur and exit between two individual as individuals.

So what we want to do, given that we have now done some EA analysis of both Shaw's and Chloe's natal charts, and the skipped steps within them, is to understand what the dynamics are between these two souls, and their individual skipped steps as well as the skipped steps BETWEEN THEM, have been that has brought them to the current life as brothers and sisters: again.

As simple example to illustrate this. Chloe's skipped step signature has her Venus and Mercury in Shaw's 4th house, and her S.Node is in his 12th conjunct the asteroid Ceres, the N.Node in his 6th which is conjunct his Chiron and Juno, and her Saturn is in  his 3rd opposed her Uranus in his 9th. The S.Node ruler for Chloe, her Moon in Aquarius conjunct Neptune, Jupiter, Chiron, and her S.Node of Neptune, is in his 7th House conjunct his Neptune which the planet creating his own skipped steps relative to his own Lunar Nodal axis.

The simple example is this: they have been family members, siblings, before the current life in which there have been skipped steps between them that has required them to come back into a brother and sister relationship again. The soul/ psychological/ emotional dynamics in Chloe have manifested previous to the current life, just one example, as an intense infatuation, an idolizing, of Shaw: the 12th House S.Node of Chloe in Shaw's natal chart. This has then cause her to desire to be around him, to be with him, all the time: to be in his space. Space in EA is Pisces, Neptune, and the 12th House.

This desire within her has then caused her to do whatever she felt she needed to do to be in his space, to capture his attention all the time. In essence, she desire more from him than a normal brother sister relationship: her 12th House S.Node ruler in his 7th House.

For Shaw reacting to those dynamics from within her has caused, given his own dynamics defined by a deep self orientation manifesting as wanting to be in charge of his own space combined with unpredictable emotional cycles wherein he would desire inter-relatedness with others, and then the opposite cycle of needing to completely alone, him to have two extreme, his 7th House Neptune squaring his Nodal Axis, reactions to her. A love/ hate  scenario that has caused confusion in Chloe because of the extremity of his dual reactions towards her.

So what we will be doing in our next step is to fully explore and understand all the psychological/ emotional, and soul dynamics between Shaw and Chloe, and how that has caused skipped steps between them. From there we will try to understand how those skipped steps can become resolved.

So in our next step please look the dynamics within Shaw that are triggered by Chloe. To do this requires that we look at the totality of both of their birth charts interacting, synastry, between them.

If you have any questions please ask them of me now.

God Bless, Rad

 97 
 on: Dec 06, 2016, 09:34 AM 
Started by The Otherside - Last post by Rad
Hi Helena,

" What is the soul's choice here? Avoidance? And how can we best deal with it as also a symbol in our lives, and with the other person?"

There is no one answer for this Helena. Each soul is an individual that has it's own ongoing evolutionary and karmic journey that is the determinant as to the 'why' of this. To me the best way to deal with this is one of compassion, and 'being there' for such a person as best one can. The consciousness of the Soul is still there despite the relative loss of memory from the life being lived. Despite the apparent loss of memory many such Souls still retain emotional cellular memories that reside deep in the brain, and within the cells of the body. Touch can sometimes help stimulate such memories as does music that these Souls used to listen too that meant something to them. Playing such music for them, at times, can thus stimulate and trigger actual memories from the current life.

God Bless, Rad

 98 
 on: Dec 06, 2016, 07:56 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
The psychopathology that explains Donald Trump’s troubling anti-democratic behavior

AlterNet
05 Dec 2016 at 15:06 ET                   

    Reporter: What do you think people will take away from the [Republican National] Convention? What are you hoping

    Donald Trump: From the convention? The fact that I’m very well liked. —New York Times, July 21, 2016

The initial shock has given way to a twofold horror. First, there is the unavoidable fact that more than 62 million Americans voted for this man. Most white college graduates preferred him. Most white women preferred him. Presumably many of those 62 million aren’t bigots or bullies or sexual predators or compulsive liars. But they knowingly voted for someone who is all of those things and more.

And then there are the sickening practical implications. During the campaign, novelist Adam Haslett remarked that “endless acts of verbal violence shock us into stunned passivity so we no longer register the horror of what we’re living through.” But that’s nothing compared to the horror fatigue that awaits us under a Trump administration. His election—along with Republican control of both Houses of Congress and more than two thirds of state legislatures—will almost certainly precipitate an assault on civil rights, civil liberties, environmental protections (including a reversal of early, tentative steps to deal with global climate change), consumer protections, reproductive rights, gay rights, workers’ rights, prisoners’ rights, humane immigration policies, aid to the poor, gun control, antimilitarism, support for public education, and on and on. It will be bad enough for an individual deeply committed to any one of these issues; for those interested in all of them, it will be difficult to absorb, let alone summon outrage about and become active in opposing, a tidal wave of reactionary policies likely to continue on a daily basis for many years.

The potential impact on official policy is staggering. And yet I can’t stop thinking about the man himself. All through the campaign, I found myself looking through a psychological lens at Trump’s behavior, not only appalled at the bellicose, racist pronouncements about, say, Mexicans or Muslims, but riveted by the deeply damaged human being who was saying these things. Even before he ran for president, Trump had been Exhibit A for the axiom that it’s possible to be rich and famous without being a successful human being, psychologically or morally speaking. To flesh out the details now that we’re more familiar with him is to add a layer of disbelief and dismay to the reality that so many people voted for him anyway. This psychological perspective is also critical for trying to predict just how much damage he will do to the country and the world, particularly to those who are most vulnerable.

Donald Trump has distinguished himself as someone who is:

    given to boasting, preening and swaggering to the point of self-parody;
    not merely thin-skinned and petulant but vindictive when crossed or even criticized;
    restless, with the attention span of a toddler;
    desperately competitive, driven to sort the world into winners and losers and to regard other people (or countries) primarily as rivals to be bested;
    astonishingly lacking not only in knowledge but in curiosity;
    given to uttering blatant falsehoods on a constant basis and apparently unaware of the extent of his dishonesty, as if the fact that he believes something makes it true; and
    possessed of a sense of absolute entitlement—so if he wants to kiss an attractive woman, for example, he should be free to do so—along with a lack of shame, humility, empathy, or capacity for reflection and self-scrutiny.

Even if you set out to consider different sorts of deficits, you’re pulled back to the psychological issues. It’s not just that he’s ignorant or even incurious, it’s that he seems incapable of acknowledging that there’s something he doesn’t know. It’s not just that he lacks the cognitive wherewithal to view himself as others view him (or to reflect on his failings), but that his psychological makeup is such that he can’t bear to stop and think about who he is; he’s like a shark, a blind eating machine that must always move forward or die. Similarly, while his speech rarely ventures beyond elementary-school vocabulary or grammar, what’s more alarming than his cognitive limitations is his egocentrism. One careful analysis found that Trump inclines not only to the monosyllabic but to the megalomaniacal: The single word he uses more than any other is “I”—and his fourth-favorite word is his own name.

Donald Trump seems to me a textbook illustration of how a lifelong campaign of self-congratulation and self-aggrandizement (acquiring as much as possible and then pasting his name on everything he owns) represents an attempt to compensate for deeply rooted insecurity. He fears being insignificant, worthless. In fact, his quest to humiliate and conquer, to possess and flaunt, may be strategies to prove to himself that he really exists, reflecting a condition R.D. Laing called “ontological insecurity” (in a chapter of that name in his classic book The Divided Self). He doesn’t even bother—or maybe just lacks the sophistication—to conceal how desperate is his craving for attention and approval, how precarious his mental state.

Why did Trump praise Putin? Well, he explained, because Putin “has said nice things about” him. And the entire spectacle of his party’s convention was a $60 million attempt to prove that he personally was well-liked. If you watch the man carefully, before he lashes out at a critic, before the outpouring of blind rage, insults and threats, there seems to be a moment of genuine perplexity and hurt that anyone could say something about him that isn’t complimentary. The vulnerability, the naked need, would almost occasion our pity were it not for the potentially catastrophic consequences of having someone with this profile in a position of power.

The fact that Trump is basically, in the words of comic commentator Samantha Bee, “an oddly tinted compilation of psychiatric symptoms,” has hardly been a secret. Psychobiographies have been published in The Atlantic and at book length. In Vanity Fair, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post, clinicians and other observers have specifically focused on the extent to which he likely suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. These pieces are worth reading, but it’s possible just to take a quick look at the official criteria for NPD and come away with the uncanny impression that those who defined the pathology were profiling Trump.

This is not someone who is merely narcissistic in the colloquial, casual sense of the term, meaning that he’s selfish or self-centered.  This is someone with a psychiatric disorder in all its flagrant, florid particulars. To grasp its seriousness is to be staggered that someone too disordered and rancid to be a trustee of your condo association will be running our country. How is it possible that almost half the voters, even those who like his values and disliked his opponent, could have listened to him taunt and lie and bully his way through a campaign and then said, Yep, that’s who should be in charge of the country?

The implications are nothing short of chilling. It’s not just how little he knows, but how little that fact bothers him—the overweening arrogance that leads him to believe he has nothing to learn, that he knows “more about ISIS than the generals do.” It’s not just that he’s an extreme risktaker, but that he takes those risks purely in the service of his own wealth and glory. It’s not clear that he has any principles, as such; what he has is an overwhelming need to be the center of attention, to be liked, feared, admired. Apart from considerations of personal profit, his foreign policy is likely to be determined at least in part by which individuals on the world stage stroke his ego and which ones criticize him—never mind that despicable leaders may do the former and reasonable leaders the latter (which is actually more likely than the reverse, if you think about it).

His hunger for approval means he’s likely to keep surrounding himself with those who tell him what he wants to hear and flatter him—the engine of Shakespearean tragedies. His belligerence and volatility, that hair-trigger temper, are the last qualities you want to see in someone holding a position of power, particularly when they’re coupled with a childish us-versus-them view of the world: xenophobic nationalism and compulsive competitiveness. His disorder leaves no room for consensus and collaboration. How can one not tremble at the thought that someone like this will command the military and have access to nuclear weapons?

Is this sort of analysis, focused on psychopathology rather than just politics, just as relevant to a Putin, an Erdogan, a Duterte? Maybe. But those names, and others that come to mind, actually prove the point. A list of narcissistic heads of state, as psychologist Nigel Barber observed, consists mostly if not exclusively of dictators. People like that tend to be “screened out by democratic systems of government.”

This, then, is the bottom line: Trump has little understanding of, commitment to, and (psychologically speaking) capacity for democratic decision-making. And that’s been clear from the start. In his convention speech, he said, “I alone can fix” our country’s problems. As author Masha Gessen put it, “Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.” He won not in spite of that fact but, frighteningly, because of it. Social scientists discovered that the best predictor of who supported Trump wasn’t economic deprivation (for example, having one’s job shipped overseas) but a predilection for authoritarianism, an extreme need for order, a fear of the Other, an attraction to strongman leaders. (Another significant predictor of who was drawn to him, incidentally, was hostile sexism.)

We find ourselves facing a future so treacherous that pundits are reduced to hoping Trump’s psychological disorder can be manipulated. Maybe rather than being committed to right-wing ideology, he’ll “tilt in whatever direction, and toward whichever constituency, is the surest source of applause,” offers columnist Frank Bruni. Sane people—say, those who would like to save the planet or avoid war—need only clap their hands if Trump should happen to tweet something that isn’t insane. A slender reed for hope indeed, particularly as he surrounds himself with right-wing ideologues.

That pretty much leaves us relying on legal challenges (until the appellate courts and Supreme Court are repopulated), protests to pressure lawmakers capable of responding to reason, and should it come to this, mass civil disobedience and disciplined noncooperation with efforts to round up immigrants, create a registry for people of a disfavored religion, and who knows what else.  Have I overlooked other realistic strategies? Lord, I hope so.

Some years ago, I urged my fellow educators to put aside their various pet projects for improving schools and make common cause to challenge high-stakes standardized testing, which threatens all our priorities. Now all of us face a similar challenge, but well beyond the field of education and with far higher stakes. People in all fields, with a range of causes, must join hands to deal with a shared threat.

And we must do so while taking care not to become inured to the magnitude of that threat, determined to resist accepting it as the new normal. On his HBO show, John Oliver urged us to keep reminding ourselves, “A Klan-backed misogynist internet troll is going to be delivering the next State of the Union address. This is not normal.” Furthermore, we need to remember that what’s abnormal here isn’t just a set of positions and policies but the psychological state of the person who will be in charge. The clearer our understanding of that, the better our chances for protecting one another—and our democracy.

 99 
 on: Dec 06, 2016, 07:33 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi Marty,

Thanks for making the effort to contribute. Please review what has already been written about Chloe and the ACTUAL nature of his skipped steps, and why. This is what the purpose is: to identify her skipped steps and why so as to understand the relationship she has with her brother.

God Bless, Rad

 100 
 on: Dec 06, 2016, 07:28 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
USA

Trump 'tantrums' signal trouble for China-US relations – state media

After president-elect controversially spoke with Taiwan leader, Communist party controlled tabloid warns Beijing must be ready to ‘strike back’

Tom Phillips in Beijing and Nicola Smith in Taipei
Tuesday 6 December 2016 11.20 GMT
Guardian

China must prepare to strike back against Donald Trump’s reckless “tantrums”, a Communist party controlled tabloid has warned, as a series of snubs to Beijing from the US president-elect continued to generate diplomatic aftershocks.

Trump’s decision to hold a protocol-trampling conversation with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen last Friday and his subsequent Twitter attacks on China have caused consternation in Beijing.

China’s official public reaction has so far been measured.

“We will not speculate on what motivates President-elect Trump and his team into taking certain moves but we will surely make ourselves clear if what they say concerns China,” the foreign ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang told reporters on Monday, adding that the billionaire’s team had been made “fully aware of China’s solemn attitude”.

Speaking in New York, Henry Kissinger, the veteran US diplomat responsible for helping re-establish relations with China in the early 1970s, said he had been “very impressed at the calm reaction of the Chinese leadership, which suggests a determination to see whether a calm dialogue can be developed”.

But the Global Times, a state-run newspaper that sometimes reflects views from within the Communist party, was less reserved, railing against what it called Trump’s outrageous, reckless and unexpected “provocations”.

“Trump’s China-bashing tweet is just a cover for his real intent, which is to treat China as a fat lamb and cut a piece of meat off it,” the nationalist tabloid claimed on Tuesday in an editorial.

The tabloid said Trump’s “tantrum” suggested it was now “inevitable that Sino-US ties will witness more troubles in his early time in the White House”.

“We must be fully prepared, both mentally and physically, for this scenario,” the Global Times warned.

“No matter what Trump thinks, China must be determined to upset his unreasonable requests at his early time in office, and fight back if his moves harm China’s interests, regardless of the consequences to the dynamics of the Sino-US relationship.”

A commentary in the English-language edition of the People’s Daily, the Communist party’s official mouthpiece, also lamented what it called Trump’s unscrupulous and despicable actions.

“Trump and his transition team should realise that making trouble for China-US ties is making troubles for themselves,” it warned.

In the days after Trump’s shock election some academics on both sides of the Pacific had speculated his arrival in the White House might enable a new, warmer phase of US-China relations.

John Delury, a China expert from Yonsei University in Seoul, said Trump’s anti-China campaign rhetoric, his decision to engage with Tsai Ing-wen and the nature of the policy team now forming around the president-elect suggested such expectations were misplaced.

“If you look at his advisers, the China people are not the kind who are looking to improve the relationship with Beijing,” Delury said.

Among those offering Trump tips on China policy are a collection of hawkish scholars whose bibliographies include titles such as Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – A Global Call to Action; The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower and Awkward Embrace: The United States and China in the 21st Century.

Ultimately, however, Delury said the property tycoon’s true plans remained an enigma, both in Washington and Beijing.

“If Americans themselves don’t know what their president is planning to do, how can the Chinese know?”

Speaking in Taipei, the Taiwan capital, on Tuesday Tsai said that despite her surprise conversation with Trump she did not foresee “major policy shifts in the near future because we all see the value of stability in the region”.

A senior Republican politician who is among those thought to be advising Trump on China policy used a visit to Taipei to deny that a significant change in US-Taiwan relations was imminent.

Stephen Yates, an adviser to the former vice-president Dick Cheney, told reporters the telephone call was “an important step in the direction that many of us have long advocated” but cautioned against over-interpreting the contact. “It would not be reasonable to anticipate major changes in US policy at this point. Let’s allow the new administration to get beyond inauguration and formation of its new policy team,” he said.

Yates, who denied being a formal member of Trump’s transition team, said he was not aware of plans for Tsai to meet the president-elect during an upcoming trip to New York, but added: “Would I think it a good idea for our leaders to be able to meet and see each other and talk to each other? The answer for me, as a private citizen, is unequivocally yes.”

***************

Obama Releases How-To National Security Guide So Trump Doesn’t Completely Destroy World

By Sean Colarossi on Mon, Dec 5th, 2016 at 8:46 pm
PoliticusUSA

Even though Barack Obama will not be president after Jan. 20, 2017, it's clear he wants to hold the world together after he's gone.

In an effort to stave off the threat that the incoming Trump administration poses to the rest of the world, the Obama administration on Monday released a memo that essentially lays out how and when to use military force.

The document serves as a “guidebook” for national security-related topics so that the incoming administration – led by the most unqualified person to hold the office – doesn’t completely destroy the world.

According to the Washington Post:

On the eve of a new administration that has promised more aggressive counterterrorism operations, the Obama White House has released a lengthy compendium of its own policies governing the use of force.

The 61-page document outlines eight years of the administration’s legal opinions, executive orders and military directives. In a strong defense of the administration’s actions, it lists rules for lethal drones and terrorist detention, and describes the international and domestic law that undergirds them.

Such rules are important to reduce “the risk of an ill-considered decision,” President Obama wrote in an introduction to the document. When making policy on war and peace, he wrote, it was critical to disclose “as much information as possible to the public . . . so that an informed public can scrutinize our actions and hold us to account.”

Even though President Obama will not be in the White House after Jan. 20, 2017, it’s clear he wants to hold the country – and world – together after he’s gone, particularly given just how little the incoming president knows, and cares to know, about foreign policy and national security.

In fact, as the Washington Post noted, citing an official, this is “the first time” anything like this has been put together to help prepare an incoming administration for foreign policy matters.

That’s for good reason.

During the campaign, Trump has made a number of alarming comments on this subject, including promises to reinstate torture, kill innocent family members of terrorists, and support more countries having access to nuclear weapons. In a national security briefing earlier this year, Trump even asked several times why the United States couldn’t use the nuclear weapons in our possession.

In an election season where Trump has proven himself – if he follows through on his foreign policy proposals – to be a clear and present danger to the country and the world, it’s smart of the Obama administration to take every possible precaution to prevent an all-out catastrophe under Trump.

***************

Senate Democrats Have One Shot At Saving SCOTUS - Will They?

By Karoli Kuns
CrooksAndLiars
12/05/16 12:32pm

It is now time for Senate Democrats to take their shot at saving this country from fascists assuming the reins of power in January. It can be done, but it will require them to be courageous and aggressive.

David Waldman (KagroX on Twitter) has outlined how they can confirm Judge Merrick Garland on January 3rd for the few minutes that they will be the majority in the Senate. Waldman is a long-standing expert on Senate procedure and political plays. He was one of the first to call for passage of the ACA via reconciliation in the Senate after Scott Brown was elected.

Here it is, in a nutshell.

On January 3, 2017, Democrats will hold the majority in the Senate for a few minutes, until the newly-elected Senators are sworn in. Biden could convene the Senate in those few minutes and call for a vote. The majority could then suspend the rules and vote in Merrick Garland.

The key here is that VP Biden would have to be willing to convene the Senate and recognize Senator Dick Durbin instead of Mitch McConnell. Durbin moves to re-nominate Garland, and Senate Democrats then vote to confirm him. They will have a quorum for those few minutes.

It's bold. Garland would be confirmed by 34 Democrats and no Republicans. It will certainly enrage Republicans, but they're already enraged and full of hubris about how they're going to screw Democrats anyway, so what do they really have to lose?

Not much. It takes courage. It takes a resolve to do what's right for this country, to reclaim the Supreme Court nomination Republicans think they stole from us. It takes backbone.

Here's where the rubber meets the road. We're not talking about "comity" anymore. We're talking about conviction and confirmation.

Here are Waldman's tweets. Let's start making some noise about this. Call everyone. Get Bernie Sanders on board, fired up. Let's DO THIS.

    Send Biden to the Senate on Jan. 3 w Garland's renomination & instructions to recognize Durbin before swearing in. https://t.co/KUNbf8qF8a

    — David Waldman (@KagroX) November 25, 2016

    Dem Senators can force approval of Merrick Garland on Jan. 3: Crazy!

    Trump supporters recite Nazi propaganda & give fascist salute: Dapper!

    ↓ Story continues below ↓

    — David Waldman (@KagroX) November 22, 2016

    @CatrionaMDW On 1/3, before new Sens. are sworn, 67 seated Sens. & Biden are in the chamber. Biden turns to Durbin instead of McConnell. Go.

    — David Waldman (@KagroX) November 22, 2016

    @CatrionaMDW 67 Senators are seated. 34 is a quorum. Rs walk out & it's unanimous instead of 34-30.

    — David Waldman (@KagroX) November 22, 2016

    @CatrionaMDW Schumer's not involved. He's among the Sens. who wouldn't be sworn at the time. And no, pro forma sessions predate them all.

    — David Waldman (@KagroX) November 22, 2016

Senators, don't throw away your shot.

******

Republican Electoral College Elector Makes A Devastating Argument That Trump Could Be Impeached

By Jason Easley on Mon, Dec 5th, 2016 at 6:56 pm
PoliticusUSA

One of the key points of Republican Electoral College elector Christopher Suprun’s argument against Trump is that the president-elect refuses to acknowledge that Constitution forbids him from accepting payments and gifts from foreign governments, which could lead his impeachment.
Suprun explained why he won’t be voting for Trump in The New York Times, but it was the point below that stuck out as a problem that will dog Trump’s presidency:

Mr. Trump does not understand that the Constitution expressly forbids a president to receive payments or gifts from foreign governments. We have reports that Mr. Trump’s organization has business dealings in Argentina, Bahrain, Taiwan and elsewhere. Mr. Trump could be impeached in his first year given his dismissive responses to financial conflicts of interest. He has played fast and loose with the law for years. He may have violated the Cuban embargo, and there are reports of improprieties involving his foundation and actions he took against minority tenants in New York. Mr. Trump still seems to think that pattern of behavior can continue.

The election of the next president is not yet a done deal. Electors of conscience can still do the right thing for the good of the country.

Suprun urged his fellow Republican electors to reject Trump, and instead cast their ballots for a person like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.

The argument that Trump unqualified and unfit to be president have been made a million times over, but the argument that Donald Trump is corrupt that he could be impeached during his first year in office is devastating.

A member of Trump’s own party is warning his fellow electors that if they elect Trump to occupy the White House, they will be risking an impeachment scandal. I can’t recall another occasion when an Electoral College elector has suggested that the president-elect could face impeachment.

For those who have been paying attention to Trump’s scandal’s Suprun’s warning is not far fetched. It won’t be a surprise if Donald Trump runs a corrupt administration that comes to an end with his impeachment. If Trump goes down, he is likely to take Pence and the Republican majorities in Congress down with him.

Trump is a one man corruption scandal waiting to happen.

It is unlikely that electors will mass defect away from Trump, but once the scandals blossom, remember that voters were warned about Trump almost up until the minute that he took office.

There has never been a president-elect as ready made for impeachment as Donald Trump.

***************

Democrats Drop A Bombshell Report That Exposes Trump’s Planned Devious War On Seniors

By Jason Easley on Mon, Dec 5th, 2016 at 12:43 pm
PoliticusUSA

The first peek at what the incoming Trump administration has planned can be found in HHS nominee Rep. Tom Price’s budget plan, and what the new administration is signaling is nothing less than a war on the nation’s seniors.

The report by the Senate Budget Committee Minority Staff provided a great deal of insight into four areas of Prices’s budget that equal a war on seniors:

Sneaking massive benefit cuts through the back door – The Price proposal includes a devious plan that would likely trigger deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other priorities, while avoiding the need for members of Congress to vote directly for the cuts. The Price plan does this by automatically triggering a process to establish caps on spending and debt levels upon approval of a budget resolution, with the threat of sequestration cuts to enforce those limits. This, for the first time, would allow the Republican majority to ram through cuts to Social Security (among other programs) using a special fast-track process that denies Senate Democrats their normal rights to defend these programs and ensure an adequate opportunity for public input. If Republicans were to pass President-Elect Trump’s tax plan, the resulting increase to the deficit, under this plan, could require cuts to Social Security and Medicare of 13.5 percent, meaning the average Social Security beneficiary would lose more than $2,000 a year. [CAP,10/18/16]‎

Rigging the budget process to cut earned benefits– Currently, if Congress fails to offset the cost of mandatory spending or new tax breaks, this can trigger across-the-board cuts, or sequestration. However, Social Security is exempt from these cuts, and Medicare is subject to only limited cuts (of 2 or 4 percent, depending on the type of sequestration). Meanwhile, consistent with a previously long-standing bipartisan consensus, most assistance to Americans with the greatest needs is completely protected. By contrast, the Price plan would subject “all programs” to sequestration, “with limited exceptions such as interest payments, Article I judges’ salaries, and intragovernmental payments.” On its face, this could mean that in the future, seniors, the disabled, and others in need could be forced to pay the price, with deep cuts to promised benefits that many earned through a lifetime of hard work.

Unraveling longstanding guarantees to those who rely on Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and other Benefits – Price’s proposal calls for a non-amendable fast track process to end longstanding guarantees to our nation’s middle-class workers, seniors, children, the disabled and millions of others who rely on Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other benefits. Instead, these Americans would have to fight annually for these benefits in the uncertain appropriations process, with no assurance their hard-earned benefits will be there at the end. Given the Republican Congress’s long record of failure to even consider appropriations bills on time, this could threaten the security of millions who rely on promised benefits. Meanwhile, Price proposes no similar process to eliminate wasteful special interest tax loopholes.

Rigging the budget with a fast-track for billionaire tax breaks – The Price proposal would repeal the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, which imposes fiscal discipline by restricting Congress’s ability to enact deficit-financed tax breaks and direct spending. This would free Congress to hand out massive new breaks for billionaires and large corporations, while driving up the deficit and laying the groundwork for future Republican demands for additional cuts to middle class benefits.

One gets the sense that many Americans went to the polls without the future of Social Security and Medicare in mind. Perhaps, voters took these beloved institutions that help millions of Americans for granted.

Maybe, they made the mistake of believing Donald Trump when he said that he wouldn’t cut the programs, but as Ranking Budget Committee member Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pointed out while commenting on the report, Trump is a hypocrite, “Donald Trump asked workers and seniors to vote for him because he was the only Republican candidate who would not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – programs that are of life-and-death importance for millions of Americans. But instead he has nominated Rep. Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has a long history of wanting to do exactly the opposite of what Trump campaigned on. What hypocrisy. Trump needs to tell the American people that what he said during the campaign were just lies or appoint an HHS secretary who will protect these programs from cuts and do what the president-elect said he would do.”

The Price budget provides insight into the incoming administration’s plans for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance. What it looks like the Trump administration is planning for is a destruction of the social safety net while handing massive tax cuts to millionaires, billionaires, and corporations.

The people who need our help the most are about to punished. The nation’s most economically vulnerable are about to face a full-on assault from the Trump administration.

***************

The ‘Plain Folk’ Have Gotten Their Wish: a White House ‘Adorned by a Downright Moron’

By Hrafnkell Haraldsson on Mon, Dec 5th, 2016 at 11:45 am
PoliticusUSA

H.L. Mencken wrote in 1920, "On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire...and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

In 1918, while Corporal Adolf Hitler was recovering in a Berlin hospital from a gas attack on the Western Front and less than two decades after Donald Trump’s grandfather was kicked out of Bavaria for being a draft-dodger, American journalist and satirist H.L. Mencken wrote,

“Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

Hitler, of course, was not the first to send people chasing for safety from imaginary hobgoblins and Donald Trump won’t be the last. Sadly, our American democracy no more isolates us from false populists than Weimar democracy did Germans.

People are easily manipulated by fear. Hitler knew it. Trump knows it. Republicans have been dangling fear of one “other” or another in front of Americans for many decades: Communists, socialists, women, gays, blacks, any foreigners who aren’t white and some who are. The list is long.

Historian Richard Evans (The Third Reich in History and Memory, 2015), recounting social exclusion in the Nazi Reich, wrote,

“Dividing their world into ‘racial comrades’ and ‘community aliens’…the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’, the Nazis defined almost any kind of refusal to contribute to their goals as deviant, sick, racially motivated or degenerate.”

If this sounds a lot like the Republican Party of today it is because this is how the Republican Party of today categorizes its enemies. Liberalism and progressivism have become as delegitimized in conservative eyes as communism and marxism, and President Obama was subject to a cascade of religious and ethnic insults by Republicans because he declined to contribute to their goals.

Two years later, writing in The Baltimore Sun, Mencken commented, prophetically,

“The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

That day, sadly, has come and the “plain folks,” Sarah Palin’s “real Americans,” have gotten their wish. Mencken had many harsh words for democracy, some of them no doubt richly deserved. Certainly, it is difficult post-election to argue with the proposition that,

“The profoundest truths of the Middle Ages are now laughed at by schoolboys. The profoundest truths of democracy will be laughed at, a few centuries hence, even by school-teachers.”

After all, the greatest democracy on earth just elected a corporation to run it. In particular, the results of the 2016 election might lend truth to Mencken’s claim that,

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

We got it good and hard, folks.

Ironically, that is why the Founding Fathers gifted us with the Electoral College, which was meant to protect us from our ignorant selves by keeping demagogues like Donald Trump out of the White House. That obviously didn’t work. And as becomes more obvious by the year, our democracy is a very fragile thing indeed, held together more by consensus that it functions rather than by any particular glue.

Naturally, that consensus only works if more people agree than disagree and though Hillary Clinton won the election, that margin is slim enough to be easily unbalanced by corporate-owned media, fake news whether from Fox News or a bunch of Macedonian kids trying to make a buck (there is no effective difference between the two), and foreign tampering.

The sad truth is that though American democracy has lasted far longer than Weimar’s brief experiment, the modern-day liberal democracy is a new experiment and there is no guarantee it will endure better or longer than other tried and failed ideologies and political systems.

There is good news too: Demagogues can tatter it and satirists can comment on it, but only people can keep the hope of democracy alive. As one of the greatest liberals to ever be delegitimized by Republicans said,

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Trump would convert our advance into retreat. It is up to Americans living today to save America from the Founding Father’s lack of faith in our judgment and to get the last laugh on one of our greatest political satirists.

Trump can’t take satire. It is up to us to show democracy can. And will.

****************

Under Trump, Red States Are About to Become Low-Wage, Low Health Hell Holes

By Hrafnkell Haraldsson on Mon, Dec 5th, 2016 at 9:33 am
PoliticusUSA

Under Trump, Red states are about to become hell holes. Think Kansas.

Or, as the Wonkblog’s Steven Pearlstein puts it, “red states are finally going to be able to turn themselves into poor, unhealthy paradises.”

Because Trump’s economic plans are not going to make America great again, but they are going to make living in a blue state great again. Because Democratic-controlled states will finally be rid of the red-state “socialist moochers.”

As Pearlstein preaches to the already converted (conservatives won’t see this because of restrictions imposed by confirmation bias,

    Data compiled by the Pew Charitable Trust found that 10 states that receive less than a dollar back for every dollar they send to Washington: Delaware, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. And here are the states that get more than $2 back for every $1 in taxes paid: Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia, Hawaii, South Carolina, Alabama, Maine, Montana, Alaska, Virginia, Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky and Vermont. You don’t have to be a political scientist to see the blue state/red state pattern here. Red state voters may talk a good game about small government and low taxes, but in reality they are socialist moochers.

Here’s the beauty of it for Blue states:

    After all, if Republicans cut taxes — in particular, taxes on investment income — then the biggest winners are going to be the residents of Democratic states where incomes, and thus income taxes, are significantly higher. Governors and legislatures in those states — home to roughly half of all Americans — will now have the financial and headroom to raise state income and business taxes by as much as the federal government cuts them — and use the additional revenue to replace all the federal services and benefits that Republicans have vowed to cut.

In other words, they can “maintain the Obamacare insurance exchanges, the low-income subsidies and the expansion of the Medicaid program.” The only states that need to suffer under a Trump administration are Red states, and we poor Democrats who happen to live in them.

And as Pearlstein adds, “The additional state revenue could also be used to replace cuts in federal funding for public schools, or food stamps, or public transit subsidies.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? So should the idea that “there should even be money left over to invest in public college and university systems” so despised and underfunded by Republicans. So yes, as Pearlstein promises, “Now Democrats could demonstrate that their cherished 10th Amendment can be a sword that cuts both ways,” and,

“Blue state Democrats could look forward to the satisfaction of watching Trump’s voters stew in their own political juices as Red State America finally frees itself from the evil grip of global elites and big government and turns itself into a low-tax, low-wage, low health paradise where it’s every man for himself.”

And that is, after all, what Republicans want most, a return to the state of nature where, a place populated by well-armed Anglo-Saxon individualists. A place where, as the great Thomas Hobbes said ever before Ayn Rand drew breath, the ““dissolute condition of masterlesse men, without subjection to Lawes, and a coercive Power to tye their hands from rapine, and revenge,” will render “the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.”

And Trump will lead the charge.

**************

3 Million People In Red States Are Going To Lose Their Health Insurance Thanks To Trump

By Jason Easley on Mon, Dec 5th, 2016 at 4:16 pm
PoliticusUSA

A new study found that 3 million Americans who live in red states are receiving subsidies to help pay for their health insurance, but once Donald Trump and the Republican congressional majority repeal Obamacare, these people will most likely not be able to afford insurance.

A prime example of people voting against their own self-interest can be found in the latestKaiser Family Foundation study showing how many people in each state are getting subsidies for their health insurance.

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post added up the numbers for people in red states, “In red states, a total of at least 3 million people are currently getting subsidies. This doesn’t include the swing states that Donald Trump won. If you add those in, that swells the total to over six million people.”

The fact that three million people are going to lose their health insurance after the ACA is repealed, just in red states, is why Republicans are intending to rush through a repeal bill while delaying replacement of the ACA for years. It is no accident that Republicans are punting on replacing Obamacare for exactly three years. Congressional Republicans don’t want to face the wrath of voters who lost their health insurance in the 2018 midterm election, so they pushed it back.

The problem is that Republicans have pushed it back to the 2020 presidential election. Does anyone believe that they will be able to pass a replacement bill in the heat of a presidential election campaign? The answer to that question is no.

Republicans don’t want to be blamed for taking away health insurance from millions, and they still haven’t figured out what they could replace Obamacare with. If Republicans do repeal the ACA and don’t replace it, millions of Americans, many of whom in red states voted for Trump, will lose their health insurance.

Red state residents voted for Trump thinking that they were making America great again. Instead, they may have screwed themselves out of affordable health insurance.

By electing Trump, red state voters may have committed the ultimate act of self-sabotage.

*************

Vice President Biden Says He’s ‘Going To Run’ Against Donald Trump in 2020

By Sean Colarossi on Mon, Dec 5th, 2016 at 7:40 pm
PoliticusUSA

If there's any 78-year-old who can pull it off, it's Joe Biden.

While many of us are still grieving the results of last month’s presidential election, Vice President Joe Biden already has his sights set on 2020, telling a group of reporters on Monday that he is “going to run” against Donald Trump in four years.

    … was biden serious about 2020? listen to his remarks for yourself. https://t.co/OQhUenQNaz

    — nick ramsey (@nick_ramsey) December 6, 2016

“I’m going to run in 2020,” Biden said. “What the hell, man.”

While the VP seemed to be joking in the initial comment, he doubled down when asked by reporters if he was serious: “I’m not committing not to run. I’m not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening.”

It’s not clear whether he is totally serious, but at least for the moment, Biden seems to want people to believe he is putting his hat in the ring to take on Trump in 2020 – all before the president-elect is even sworn in.

Biden initially toyed with the idea of running for the White House in 2016 – and came incredibly close to doing so – but, as he said on Monday, fate intervened and the death of his son, Beau, prevented him from being able to put his heart into running a campaign of his own.

While the outgoing vice president would be almost 78 years old on Election Day 2020, there’s no question that Biden has more energy and stamina than politicians much younger than him.

If there’s anyone who can pull it off, it’s Joe Biden.

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