December 5, 2016

Cancer rates up by more than a third

Web MD - Cancer cases rose 33 percent worldwide in the past 10 years, a new study shows.

In 2015, there were 17.5 million diagnoses and 8.7 million deaths in the world from the disease, the researchers found.

The rise in cancer cases was mainly due to population aging and growth, along with changes in age-specific cancer rates, according to the Global Burden of Disease Cancer Collaboration study.

The lifetime risk of developing cancer was one in three for men and one in four for women, the researchers said.

Prostate cancer was the most common type of cancer in men (1.6 million cases), and tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in men.

Breast cancer was the most common cancer for women (2.4 million cases), and the leading cause of cancer death in women.

The most common cancers in children were leukemia, other neoplasms, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and brain and nervous system cancers, said researcher Dr. Christina Fitzmaurice, from the University of Washington in Seattle.

The study was published online Dec. 3 in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Jill Stein takes on Christ Wallace about why a recount is necessary

Trump's "Mad Dog" Secretary of Defense

Global Research - [General James]Mattis has a long and bloody career. He played leading operational roles in both the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003-2004. He later co-authored the Pentagon’s counterinsurgency warfare manual with General David Petraeus, and held a top position with NATO.

He ended his career as head of the US Central Command from 2010 to 2013, overseeing the US withdrawal from Iraq, the increasingly bloody stalemate in Afghanistan, and the US efforts to bolster the Egyptian military against the revolutionary upsurge in that country. He also supervised the drawing up of US plans for intervention in Syria, hailing the armed Islamic uprising against the Assad regime as a potentially devastating strategic blow to Assad’s ally Iran.

The four-star general was removed from his post at CENTCOM five months early, after he came into conflict with the Obama White House over its policy towards Iran, which he regarded as unduly conciliatory. Once retired, Mattis made his differences public, blasting the Obama administration for what he called its “policy of disengagement in the Middle East.”

This public criticism endeared Mattis to all factions of the Republican Party. “Never Trump” conservatives like William Kristol floated his name as a possible independent candidate for president against Trump. Both Trump and Hillary Clinton invited him to speak in their support at the Republican and Democratic conventions, but he declined to play any role in the 2016 campaign.

In the corporate-controlled elite media, there is remarkable unanimity in support of Trump’s appointment. The praise of Mattis runs the gamut from conservative to liberal.

More than half of US aid goes to Israel and it still dosn't hear us

Mondoweiss - John Kerry offered yet another tough-love talk to Israel at the pro-Israel Saban Forum. The United States gives Israel more than half of the aid that we give “to the entire world,” and Israel simply ignores us when we warn it about new settlements.
Kerry: Every president, Republican and Democrat, has been opposed to settlements – we issue a warning today when we see a new settlement announced. Nothing happens. It’s ignored, a new settlement goes up. New units, new sales. So the issue —

Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg: You’re describing a situation in which you have zero leverage.

Kerry: I think we do – I think we do have leverage —

Goldberg: But they never listen to you.

Kerry: No, they don’t, and they haven’t listened on settlements, that’s correct.
Here’s how much money we give Israel to ignore us.

I’ve watched while we, the Obama Administration, have put $23.5 billion on the line for foreign military financing. More than 50 percent of the total that we give to the entire world has gone to Israel. We have just signed an agreement for $38 billion over 10 years, $3.8 billion a year, up from 3.1. 
John Kerry offered yet another tough-love talk to Israel at the pro-Israel Saban Forum yesterday. The United States gives Israel more than half of the aid that we give “to the entire world,” and Israel simply ignores us when we warn it about new settlements.
Kerry: Every president, Republican and Democrat, has been opposed to settlements – we issue a warning today when we see a new settlement announced. Nothing happens. It’s ignored, a new settlement goes up. New units, new sales. So the issue —
Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg: You’re describing a situation in which you have zero leverage.
Kerry: I think we do – I think we do have leverage —
Goldberg: But they never listen to you.
Kerry: No, they don’t, and they haven’t listened on settlements, that’s correct.
Here’s how much money we give Israel to ignore us.
I’ve watched while we, the Obama Administration, have put $23.5 billion on the line for foreign military financing. More than 50 percent of the total that we give to the entire world has gone to Israel. We have just signed an agreement for $38 billion over 10 years, $3.8 billion a year, up from 3.1.
Goldberg, the new editor-in-chief of the Atlantic, pl
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Progress in ending marijuiana prohibition

MPP -  California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voted to end marijuana prohibition and Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota adopted medical marijuana laws in the most momentous election to date for marijuana policy reform. Montana approved an initiative to re-establish patients’ access to medical marijuana providers, which was hindered by state lawmakers, and create a more regulated system of medical marijuana production and distribution. Eight states have now adopted laws that legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adult use, and 28 states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws.
Inside Climate News - Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline won an important victory on Sunday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the final permission to cross Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. But even as Native American protesters celebrated, they acknowledged the larger battle is far from won.

The Army Corps' decision keeps the pipeline from crossing a spot the tribe has vowed to protect, and called for a more comprehensive environmental review of alternative routes. But an incoming Trump administration could not only reverse this decision, but could also strike back at a core environmental law that has governed fights like this for more than half a century.

There are many in the oil industry, Congress and President-elect Donald Trump's inner circle ready to target the process of repeated reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. That law resulted in the years-long review of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, eventually ending in President Obama's rejection of a cross-border permit.

The question is how aggressively, and how soon, they will move to rein in the law, a potent tool for two generations of environmentalists.

The Dakota Access Pipeline's opponents are happy to claim their victory, even if it is only temporary. For months, they have gathered under the banner of water protectors, facing down forceful tactics by authorities while demanding relief from Washington.

"While this is clearly a victory, the battle is not 'over,'" said a statement from four organizations supporting the encampment: Honor the Earth, the International Indigenous Youth Council, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Sacred Stone Camp.

America's largest worker-owned cooperative

Is this what libertarianism leads to?

From our overstocked archives. 

Sam Smith, 2010 - I like libertarians. They're dead right on many things such as civil liberties and the drug war. Even when they're wrong, their arguments are of the sort that make you think.

And where they're mainly wrong is in their approach to the economy. I suspect too many libertarians may have grown up as single children, never played in a band or on a sports team, and certainly never had much experience living in a community where cooperation was important.

My time in Maine has taught me that cooperation is one of the concepts most lacking when economists or libertarians sit down to talk. They don't even seem to have heard of the concept. But if you spend any time around lobstermen, farmers or just business folk in a small town, you quickly become aware of competition repeatedly being mediated by cooperation.

And it's not a bad way to live.

But then I'm the third of six kids and never read Ayn Rand. I just assume my success is going to be determined in part by getting along with other people and helping them when they need it. And I hope to get the same in return.

But lately, it has occurred to me that economic libertarianism is no longer a theory to argue about. We're seeing it all around us and it ain't pretty.

In fact, you don't even hear that many conservatives blaming an autocratic government for the collapse of our economy. That's because the blame is pretty clear: at every level and in every aspect, the major causes of our financial disaster has been too many people getting away with too much with nobody willing or able to tell them no. They have been living the Ayn Rand fantasy to the hilt and now we are all paying for it.

I sort of hope a few libertarians will apologize to us for leading us so astray, but I guess that's not in their playbook, either. But if anyone tries to convince you of the wonders of economic libertarianism, just remember the current mess started because too many believed it really didn't matter what banks and hedge funds did with their money or how they conned us along the way or how government made it easier for them.

So if you want to know what's wrong with economic libertarianism, just check your bank account or retirement savings. At some point we just can't do it all alone.

How Milwaukee educators beat back the war on public schools

Amy Mizialko, Labor Notes - If the Wisconsin legislature had gotten its way, private charter companies would have taken over at least one more public school in Milwaukee this year—pushing us dangerously near a tipping point to the planned extinction of our school district.

But instead, thanks to the dogged activism of educators, students, parents, and community activists, we have staved off the immediate threat. The takeover commissioner backed away from announcing target schools, then resigned his post. And on October 12 we celebrated the news that our district is out of danger from the takeover law.

We did it by raising a ruckus, by nurturing a grassroots coalition over the long term, and by sticking to the principle of “all for one and one for all.” And we don’t intend to let up.

Twenty years ago it never occurred to me how bad things could get—that we would be fighting for the very survival of our public school system.

Milwaukee was the first school district to offer vouchers, and one of the first cities where private charter schools took root. Between the two, we’ve lost 44 percent of our public school student population.

As charter schools expanded, our union did not draw a hard line in the sand. It didn’t occur to us in the 1990s and 2000s that we could lose students on this scale. But that’s changed as we’ve watched the systematic privatization of schools not only here, but in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Bridgeport, Detroit, Memphis, Atlanta, Little Rock, and Newark.

Sixteen months ago, as part of the state budget, Republican legislators passed a plan to end public schools in Milwaukee. They empowered the county executive to appoint a takeover commissioner who would choose schools to hand over to charter school companies.

The new law required that at least one school, and up to three, be taken over in the 2016-17 school year. The following year, it could be up to three schools, and every year after that, up to five.

What would happen to any school taken over? There would be no requirements for certified teachers. There would be no publicly elected board answerable to community and parents.

The architects of this law live in rich, almost exclusively white communities. They aren’t from Milwaukee, yet they’ve decided they know what’s best for Milwaukee students and families.

Luckily, students, families, and educators weren’t facing this threat alone. We have many partners in Schools and Communities United, a coalition our union has been working for a few years to develop.

“Creating a space for the community to gather, express concerns, and plan for change has been invaluable in this takeover fight,” said union Secretary Ingrid Walker-Henry, a co-chair of the coalition. “The combined knowledge and skills has proven to be effective.”

“Our focus is singular, but our membership is multi-faceted,” said Marva Herndon of Women Committed to an Informed Community, one of the coalition’s key partner groups. “There are parents, grandparents, retirees, students, teachers, real estate brokers, transportation workers, researchers, and computer programmers, to name a few.”

We started showing up at school board meetings and all the other public events where the county executive or the takeover commissioner appeared.

Community members and educators made calls to Senator Alberta Darling, one of the law’s architects, telling her, “Hands off of our public schools!” She instructed her staff to tell people to stop calling her. After we made that public on social media, the calls doubled.

Another time we went to the rich school district where the takeover commissioner is superintendent, and held a press conference while he was trying to conduct a school board meeting. Our message to the people there was, “You have democratic control of your schools, and that’s all we want for ours.”

We bought rush-hour radio time on the most-listened-to stations on each side of town. Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the nation, with most Spanish speakers living on the South Side and most African Americans living on the North Side. So one ad was in English, one in Spanish. Both featured students and parents educating the public about what was coming their way.

And at the school level, we held walk-ins—where students, parents, and educators meet before school to rally and then walk in together—calling for full and fair funding, local control, and the expansion of community schools. The first walk-in was in June 2015, the same month the legislation was announced. About 30 schools participated, and 10 more followed suit the next week.

In the latest walk-in October 6, 117 schools participated.

On April 22, the commissioner was supposed to begin a qualitative analysis of the 53 schools on the state’s list. On May 10 they would announce which eight schools would be on the short list for takeover.

Our attitude was, “Tell us.” We were ready to zero in and defend those schools—to educate local parents, neighbors, and students, to let them know, “We will not let this happen in any neighborhood.”

We even held civil disobedience trainings at our union, and began to get ourselves mentally and physically prepared for direct action.

They never did announce the eight targeted schools. In June, the takeover commissioner resigned—and in October, the state announced that our district no longer qualified for the takeover plan. Despite egregious disinvestment, our students had made notable achievement gains.

Norman Soloman, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting  -Euphemism isn’t journalism, but conflating the two can be irresistible for mainline journalists when candor might seem overly intrepid. Two months before Inauguration Day, a straw in the US media wind pointed toward evasive fog around the incoming president when PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff convened a roundtable segment (11/21/16) with program regulars Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report.

From the outset, the journalists emphasized that the new president won’t be “traditional.” Walter said: “We have to stop treating Donald Trump like this is just a traditional, normal political candidate who’s now going to be a traditional, normal president.”

Moments later Keith, a White House correspondent for NPR, was explaining that Trump “has not related to the press or the public in a traditional way ever. And he’s had an incredible skill at distracting, at creating—there was this movie Up and there was a dog who gets distracted, and, squirrel, squirrel. That’s what happens.”

As happens so often, top-of-the-line political journalists marveled at Trump’s ability to create distractions while they kept themselves—and their audience—distracted from substantive matters. As Keith immediately demonstrated:
Every time there is a story that is not favorable to him, like settling the Trump University lawsuit for $25 million, suddenly there is a Twitter fight. Meanwhile, he has skillfully avoided sort of the type of environment that a press conference creates, the environment where you get asked a question, and then somebody else asks a question, then somebody else asks a question, it builds on it, and you really can’t escape. There’s nothing like a press conference.And his transition team is saying, well, you know, don’t tell him what’s traditional and what’s conventional. This is Donald Trump.
The way Keith veered away after a mention of an actual issue—like the Trump University fraud settlement—to focus on Trump’s stagecraft is, unfortunately, how Beltway journalism typically treats a “traditional, normal president.” When Woodruff commented that Trump is “keeping us on the edge of our seats,” Walter responded: “And he loves doing that. Remember, this is a candidate who said, I like being unpredictable.” From there, Walter was soon back to how untraditional Trump is:
So, this isn’t surprising to me at all that he’s continuing this as president. I think this is what we learned during the course of the campaign is that just, every day, we would come in and we would say, well, maybe now is the time that he’s going to pivot. Maybe now he’s going to look more like a traditional candidate.

That just is not going to happen. And so as he’s parading these people through, you can argue that he’s bringing a lot of different faces and voices, but the people that he’s picked are the people we should be focusing on.
But somehow the seven-and-a-half minute segment never got around to focusing. When the discussion went through the motions of covering the ground of Trump’s major appointees and nominees at that point—Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo got brief mentions—there wasn’t the slightest indication that in total they had backgrounds inclusive of racism, anti-immigrant fervor, extreme hostility to Muslims, antisemitism and support for torture.


December 4, 2016

Changing America

The Hill

Nationally, the number of whites born in 2014 is only slightly higher, 2.15 million, than the number of whites who died, 2.06 million. A decade ago, white births outpaced deaths by nearly 400,000 each year. The ratio of white births to deaths fell 79 percent between 1999 and 2014.
Members of the baby boom generation, a generation with a greater percentage of whites than younger generations, are beginning to reach retirement age, and mortality rates are rising. Today, the median age of a white American is 43, four years higher than it was in 2000. The number of white Americans over the age of 65 has jumped from 15 percent to 18 percent of the overall white population. 
By contrast, the average American Latino is just 28 years old. Latino birth rates exceeded death rates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the researchers found. 

Senate chooses Israel over Constitution

In a move intended to dramatically broaden Department of Education probes of colleges and universities who tolerate students that criticize Israel, the Senate unanimously passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which was passed with little debate or fanfare.
Sen. Bob Casey (D – PA) and Tim Scott (R – SC) presented the bill as targeting a growing number of “religiously motivated hate crimes,” warning that the Department of Education needed to take “urgent action” to investigate all anti-semitism at school.
The bill intends to do this by instructing the Department of Education to use the State Department’s definition of anti-semitism, which broadly includes criticism of Israel or attempts to “delegitimize” Israel’s status as a Jewish state, or even “focusing on Israel” for human rights investigations or urging peace.
Though it’s unclear how the Department of Education will ultimately handle this new legislation, the bill is aimed at giving legitimacy to Title VI discrimination complaints against universities related to all of this newly-minted anti-semitism under the broader, State Department definition.

Trump's counsel key to Citizens United disaster

Don McGahn, soon to be Donald Trump’s White House counsel, bears as much responsibility as any single person for turning America’s campaign finance system into something akin to a gigantic, clogged septic tank.
From 2008 to 2013, McGahn was one of the six members of the Federal Election Commission, the government agency in charge of civil enforcement of campaign finance laws. While there, he led a GOP campaign that essentially ground enforcement of election laws to a halt.
“I’ve always thought of McGahn’s appointment as an FEC commissioner as analogous to appointing an anarchist to be chief of police,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president at Common Cause. “He’s largely responsible for destroying the FEC as a functioning law enforcement agency, and seemingly takes great pride in this fact. McGahn has demonstrated a much stronger interest in expanding the money-in-politics swamp than draining it.”

Immigrants account for over half of federal crime prosecutions

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse - Immigration remains the major focus of all federal criminal enforcement efforts. The latest available data show that criminal prosecutions for illegal entry, illegal re-entry, and similar immigration violations made up 52 percent of all federal prosecutions in FY 2016. During the 12 months ending September 30, immigration prosecutions totaled 69,636.

This number compares with just 63,405 prosecutions for all other federal crimes -- including drugs, weapons, fraud, and violations of the thousands of other criminal provisions that the federal government is responsible for enforcing.

Jazz break