Tuesday, July 26, 2016

El Salvador Bill Would Put Those Found Guilty of Abortion Behind Bars for 30 to 50 Years

from https://rewire.news/article/2016/07/26/el-salvador-bill-put-found-guilty-abortion-behind-bars-30-50-years/

"Abortion has been illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador since 1997, with a penalty of two to eight years in prison. Now, the right-wing ARENA Party has introduced a bill that would increase that penalty to a prison sentence of 30 to 50 years—the same as aggravated homicide."

rest at https://rewire.news/article/2016/07/26/el-salvador-bill-put-found-guilty-abortion-behind-bars-30-50-years/

Monday, July 25, 2016

DNC Apologizes To Bernie Sanders As He Urges Supporters To Play Nice At Convention

from http://deadline.com/2016/07/dnc-apology-bernie-sanders-text-supporters-hillary-clinton-1201792425/

"The news keeps coming from Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention: In a bid to unite a party whose fractures have become clear this morning in Philadelphia, the Democratic National Committee has issued "a deep and sincere apology" to Bernie Sanders (read it here) over the "the inexcusable remarks made over email." The news comes as the Vermont senator and party renegade sent a text to his supporters urging them not to protest on the convention floor.

Wrote Sanders this afternoon: "I ask you as a personal courtesy to me to not engage in any kind of protest on the floor. It's of the utmost importance you explain this to you delegations."

Here is the DNC's full statement, followed by Sanders' text:

"On behalf of everyone at the DNC,we wa nt to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email. These cornments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process.The DNC does not — andwill not — tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates.Individualstaffers have also rightfully apologized for theircomments, and t he DNC is taking appropriate action to ensure it never happens again.

"We are embarkingon a convent ion today that – thanks to the great efforts of Secretary Clinton,her team, Senator Sanders, his team,and the entire Democratic Party – willshow a forward-thinkingand optimistic vision for America, as compared to the dark and pessimistic vision that the GOP presented last week in Cleveland. Our focus is on electing Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine and Democrats across the country,thanks to Democratic Party that is strong,unified, and poised for victory in November."

Donna Brazile, Incoming Interim Chair Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake,Secretary Andrew Tobias, Treasurer
Raymond Buck ley,Vice Chair,ASDC President Maria Elena Durazo,Vice Chair
Mayor R.T. Rybak,Vice Chair
Henry R. Munoz 111, National Finance Committee Chair

rest at http://deadline.com/2016/07/dnc-apology-bernie-sanders-text-supporters-hillary-clinton-1201792425/

Stop the privatization of health data

from http://www.nature.com/news/stop-the-privatization-of-health-data-1.20268

Tech giants moving into health may widen inequalities and harm research, unless people can access and share their data, warn John T. Wilbanks and Eric J. Topol.

Over the past year, technology titans including Google, Apple, Microsoft and IBM have been hiring leaders in biomedical research to bolster their efforts to change medicine.

In September 2015, Tom Insel announced that he would quit his position as head of the US National Institute of Mental Health to join Google Life Sciences (now Verily). Three months later, Michael McConnell took a leave of absence from directing major cardiovascular research programmes at California's Stanford University to join him. And last month, Stephen Friend took a senior position with Apple. He is co-founder and former president of Sage Bionetworks, a non-profit organization that promotes open science and patient engagement in research (where one of us, J.T.W, works).

In many ways, the migration of clinical scientists into technology corporations that are focused on gathering, analysing and storing information is long overdue. Because of the costs and difficulties of obtaining data about health and disease, scientists conducting clinical or population studies have rarely been able to track sufficient numbers of patients closely enough to make anything other than coarse predictions. Given such limitations, who wouldn't want access to Internet-scale, multidimensional health data; teams of engineers who can build sensors for data collection and algorithms for analysis; and the resources to conduct projects at scales and speeds unthinkable in the public sector?

Yet there is a major downside to monoliths such as Google or smaller companies such as consumer-genetics firm 23andMe owning health data — or indeed, controlling the tools and methods used to match people's digital health profiles to specific services.

Digital profiling in other contexts is already creating what has been termed a 'black box' society. Online adverts are tailored to people's age, location, spending and browsing habits. Certain retail services have preferentially been made available only to particular groups of people. And law enforcers are being given tools to help them make sentencing decisions that cannot be openly assessed (see go.nature.com/29umpu1). This is all thanks to the deliberately hidden collection and manipulation of personal data.

If undisclosed algorithmic decision-making starts to incorporate health data, the ability of black-box calculations to accentuate pre-existing biases in society could greatly increase. Crucially, if the citizens being profiled are not given their data and allowed to share the information with others, they will not know about incorrect or discriminatory health actions — much less be able to challenge them. And most researchers won't have access to such health data either, or to the insights gleaned from them.

rest at http://www.nature.com/news/stop-the-privatization-of-health-data-1.20268

Our public health data is being ingested into Silicon Valley's gaping, proprietary maw

from http://boingboing.net/2016/07/25/our-public-health-data-is-bein.html

In a lead editorial in the current Nature, John Wilbanks (formerly head of Science Commons, now "Chief Commons Officer" for Sage Bionetworks) and Eric Topol (professor of genomics at the Scripps Institute) decry the mass privatization of health data by tech startups, who're using a combination of side-deals with health authorities/insurers and technological lockups to amass huge databases of vital health information that is not copyrighted or copyrightable, but is nevertheless walled off from open research, investigation and replication.

The key to their critique isn't just this enclosure of something that rightfully belongs to all of us: it's that this data and its analysis will be used to make decisions that profoundly affect the lives of billions of people; without public access to this, it could be used to magnify existing inequities and injustice (see also Weapons of Math Destruction).

Even when corporations do give customers access to their own aggregate data, built-in blocks on sharing make it hard for users to donate them to science. 23andMe, holder of the largest repository of human genomic data in the world, allows users to view and download their own single-letter DNA variants and share their data with certain listed institutions. But for such data to truly empower patients, customers must be able to easily send the information to their health provider, genetic counsellor or any analyst they want.

Pharmaceutical firms have long sequestered limited types of hard-to-obtain data, for instance on how specific chemicals affect certain blood measurements in clinical trials. But they generally lack longitudinal health data about individuals outside the studies that they run, and often cannot connect a participant in one trial to the same participant in another. Many of the new entrants to health, unbound by fragmented electronic health-record platforms, are poised to amass war chests of data and enter them into systems that are already optimized (primarily for advertising) to make predictions about individuals.

The companies jostling to get into health face some major obstacles, not least the difficulties of gaining regulatory approval for returning actionable information to patients. Yet the market value of Internet-enabled devices that collect and analyse health and fitness data, connect medical devices and streamline patient care and medical research is estimated to exceed US$163 billion by 2020, as a January report from eMarketer notes (see 'The digital health rush' and go.nature.com/29fbvch). Such a tsunami of growth does not lend itself to ethically minded decision-making focused on maximizing the long-term benefits to citizens.

It is already clear that proprietary algorithms can replicate and exacerbate societal biases and structural problems. Despite the best efforts of Google's coders, the job postings that its advertising algorithm serves to female users are less well-paying than are those displayed to male users2. A ProPublica investigation in May demonstrated that algorithms being used by US law-enforcement agencies are likely to wrongly predict that black defendants will commit a crime (see go.nature.com/29aznyw). And thanks to 'demographically blind' algorithms, in several US cities, black people are about half as likely as white people to live in neighbourhoods that have access to Amazon's one-day delivery service (see go.nature.com/29kskg3).

rest at http://boingboing.net/2016/07/25/our-public-health-data-is-bein.html

Homeland Security Border Agents Can Seize Your Phone

from https://yro.slashdot.org/story/16/07/23/220233/homeland-security-border-agents-can-seize-your-phone

Slashdot reader v3rgEz writes: A Wall Street Journal reporter has shared her experienced of having her phones forcefully taken at the border -- and how the Department of Homeland Security insists that your right to privacy does not exist when re-entering the United States. Indeed, she's not alone: Documents previously released under FOIA show that the DHS has a long-standing policy of warrantless (and even motiveless) seizures at the border, essentially removing any traveler's right to privacy.
"The female officer returned 30 minutes later and said I was free to go," according to the Journal's reporter, adding. "I have no idea why they wanted my phones..."

Russia had hacked into systems at the Democratic National Committee to meddle in elections/help trump?!

from https://politics.slashdot.org/story/16/07/24/2054202/clinton-campaign-russia-leaked-emails-to-help-trump

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the Washington Post: A top official with Hillary Clinton's campaign on Sunday accused the Russian government of orchestrating the release of damaging Democratic Party records in order to help the campaign of Republican Donald Trump -- and some cyber security experts in the U.S. and overseas agree. The extraordinary charge came as some national security officials have been growing increasingly concerned about possible efforts by Russia to meddle in the election, according to several individuals familiar with the situation.

Late last week, hours before the records were released by the website Wikileaks, the White House convened a high-level security meeting to discuss reports that Russia had hacked into systems at the Democratic National Committee... Officials from various intelligence and defense agencies, including the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, attended the White House meeting Thursday, on the eve of the email release.

Clinton's campaign manager told ABC News "some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump." Donald Trump's son later responded, "They'll say anything to be able to win this."

Michael Jordan speaks out on recent violence, writes $1M check

from http://chicago.suntimes.com/sports/michael-jordan-speaks-out-on-recent-violence-writes-1m-check/

Former Bulls star Michael Jordan released a statement today condemning recent violence across the United States, the shootings of African Americans and the targeting of police officers.

Jordan released a lengthy statement on the web site theundefeated.com.

"As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," Jordan wrote. "I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

"I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 01:  Owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, watches on during their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 1, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 01: Owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, watches on during their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 1, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

"Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.

rest at http://chicago.suntimes.com/sports/michael-jordan-speaks-out-on-recent-violence-writes-1m-check/

Saturday, July 23, 2016

New York became the 11th state to remove regressive tax on menstrual products

from http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/07/new-york-terminates-the-tampon-tax.html

Newsweek, New York Terminates the Tampon Tax:

There are plenty of things you can buy in the U.S. tax-free: bagged salads in Colorado, seasoned croutons in Texas, manicures and massages in West Virginia. But in 40 states, menstrual products—used to care for a normal bodily function that occurs every month, for 30 to 40 years—are taxed anywhere from 4 to 10 percent. Meanwhile, we can all participate in rodeos tax-free (thanks, South Dakota!)

On Thursday, however, New York became the 11th state without a tax on menstrual products when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation eliminating local and state sales taxes on them.

"This is a regressive tax on essential products that women have had to pay for far too long and lifting it is a matter of social and economic justice," Cuomo said in a statement. The new law, which goes into effect on September 1, 2016, includes panty liners and newer products like cups period underwear. ...

Since the start of 2016, 15 states have introduced legislation or initiated legislative debate to eliminate the tampon tax. It's a dramatic turn for an issue that was barely even whispered about one year ago. "I hope that of the 15 states that took up this issue this term, more of them will feel the pressure or the will to see it through next legislative session," says Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a leading writer and advocate for menstrual equity. In addition to New York, Illinois and Connecticut have both seen legislative success in repealing the tampon tax.

rest at http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/07/new-york-terminates-the-tampon-tax.html

Trump Family Would Get $7 Billion Windfall From Estate Tax Plan

from http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/07/trump-family-would-get-7-billion-windfall-from-estate-tax-plan.html

The Hill, Trump Family Would Get $7B Windfall From Estate-Tax Plan: Analyst:

Donald Trump's family would get a $7.1 billion tax cut under the Republican presidential nominee's proposal to eliminate the federal estate tax, a centrist think tank estimated.

"The staggeringly high value of the tax cut for the Trump dynasty alone carries the same price tag as multiple high-value national priorities," Third Way said in an analysis Wednesday.

Trump proposed repealing the estate tax in a tax plan he released last year. The nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center has estimated that Trump's plan as a whole would cost almost $10 trillion over a decade and disproportionately benefit the wealthy. ...

The think tank came up with the $7.1 billion figure by estimating that Trump's estate would be valued at $17.7 billion in 2030, the year actuarial tables estimate that Trump's family would inherit the money.

Third Way calculated that Trump's estate, minus an exemption for $15 million of it, would be subject to a 40-percent tax if the estate tax is not repealed.

rest at http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/07/trump-family-would-get-7-billion-windfall-from-estate-tax-plan.html

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mom writes about food scarcity/insecurity, politicians vilifying poor, and joy at being able to buy fresh fruit

from https://talkpoverty.org/2016/07/22/yes-food-can-entertainment-low-income-people/

"For me the piece plays right into the hands of politicians, who judge and try to control how people who are struggling spend what little we have. These politicians push for laws to keep the poor from purchasing "luxury items" like high-end meats, seafood, and cakes, as if we are frivolous. They point to unhealthy eating habits as the cause of obesity among those trying to make ends meet, but it is not because people are choosing junk food over fruit. It is because they are walking into a store with $50 to last a family of three an entire week, and looking for the cheapest food, with the highest caloric content, that is easiest to prepare after a day of working long hours at a minimum wage job. It is because they are growing up, like my older daughter did, pressured to eat what is served because there isn't enough to get through the month. It is because they are gorging on rare sugary treats when they are available.

Milburn's post spurred in me a deep sadness and anger. For many food insecure people, the ability to serve their family a nice meal is indeed a source of comfort, their only entertainment, and a moment of pride."

rest from https://talkpoverty.org/2016/07/22/yes-food-can-entertainment-low-income-people/

Social Security Helps Twice As Many Children As We Thought

from https://talkpoverty.org/2016/07/20/social-security-twice-as-many-children/

"Workers and their children are caught in a broken economy.  There is an urgent, growing need for policy solutions that can strengthen the economic security of American families while ensuring children have a real chance at success in life. Social Security, and social insurance more broadly, are proven policy tools that can help meet this need."

NBA pulls 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over North Carolina's transgender bathroom law

from http://boingboing.net/2016/07/21/nba-pulls-2017-all-star-game-f.html

"The National Basketball Association won't be holding the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina, because of a recently passed state law that discriminates against transgender people.

Other cities seeking the related revenue are scrambling for the opportunity to host the midseason game, but the NBA is reportedly planning to move it to New Orleans. The Louisiana city hosted the game in 2008 and 2014.

A Yahoo News report citing league sources was first to break the news, and says NBA is expected to make a formal announcement as soon as this week.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver previously said North Carolina's widely criticized anti-trans law, passed in 2016, is "inconsistent with the core values" of the NBA and that the All-Star Weekend, which generates millions of dollars in economic activity, could be relocated as a result.

North Carolina is the first and only U.S. state to formalize the insane, perverse, and prejudicial notion that transgender people who need to take a shit or a piss while in a public building or school must be able to present identification that matches the gender (some like use the word "sex") on their birth certificate, rather that using the gendered bathroom that most closely matches their actual gender identity."

rest at http://boingboing.net/2016/07/21/nba-pulls-2017-all-star-game-f.html

Secret Service now investigating Trump's adviser call to execute Clinton. This is Trump's GOP.

from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/07/20/1550279/-Secret-Service-now-investigating-Trump-s-adviser-call-to-execute-Clinton-This-is-Trump-s-GOP

The hits keep coming from the radical party of Trump. First, Michael Folk calls for a public hanging of Clinton and is then suspended by his employer United Airlines.

Now we have New Hampshire delegate and Trump adviser Al Baldasaro's call to execute Clinton by firing squad being investigated by the Secret Service. 


"Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason," he added.

According to Politico, Secret Service spokesman Robert Hobackis said the agency is aware of Baldasaro's statement and will "conduct the appropriate investigation."

The clown show that is the GOP convention continues on tonight, as right wingers like Michael Folk and Al Baldasaro continue to advocate violence and validate what Trump's America will look like. Make no mistake, this is Trump's GOP.

rest at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/07/20/1550279/-Secret-Service-now-investigating-Trump-s-adviser-call-to-execute-Clinton-This-is-Trump-s-GOP

Trump’s courtship of black voters hampered by decades of race controversies

from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-courtship-of-black-voters-hampered-by-decades-of-race-controversies/2016/07/19/d9822250-4d2e-11e6-aa14-e0c1087f7583_story.html?postshare=7361469015275317&tid=ss_tw

"CLEVELAND — Donald Trump's campaign has tried to use this week's Republican National Convention to court African Americans by arguing that President Obama has failed them on jobs and crime. But when the GOP presidential nominee delivers his acceptance speech here Thursday, he will address an estimated 18 blacks out of 2,472 delegates.

Although that handful includes some of Trump's most vociferous backers, the overall lack of ethnic diversity at the convention illustrates one of his greatest challenges: how to court black voters after four decades of controversy over his racial views, including campaign-trail rhetoric that has alienated many minorities.

Twelve years ago, the GOP seemed on its way toward broadening its base, boasting 167 black delegates at its convention. That year, President George W. Bush drew 16 percent of the black vote here in Ohio, unusually high for a Republican, to help secure his reelection, as well as 11 percent nationally, and party leaders had hoped to increase minority engagement in 2016.

But as Trump heads to the general election, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Trump among blacks by 89 percent to 4 percent, and a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll said Trump has zero support among African Americans in Ohio.

That is frustrating to the black delegates here, several of whom said in interviews that Trump has a compelling case to make to African Americans.

"The rest of America has to see the person I sat down with," said James Evans, the chairman of the Utah Republican Party, who last month met privately with Trump after unsuccessfully trying to draft Mitt Romney to seek the nomination. "The Democratic playbook is that if you are a white Republican candidate, you are a racially insensitive candidate. Let's look at the policies of the political left and how they devastated the black community, and you tell me who is more racist."

Bruce LeVell, a delegate who heads Trump's National Diversity Coalition, said he faces discrimination as a Trump supporter. "To be a black American in Georgia, and to be a Republican and to be for Trump, I can't even tell you all the things I've been called," he said.

Trump's outlook on race has come under new scrutiny in recent days as he has stepped up his criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying it is "very divisive." He asserted that after a black man shot five white police officers in Dallas before being killed, adding, "I have seen, you know, moments of silence called for . . . this horrible human being." The assertion came despite the fact that leaders of Black Lives Matter condemned the killing of police officers.

Trump has vowed that he would unify the races as president.

"I am not a racist," he told The Washington Post in an interview earlier this year. "I'm the least racist person that you've ever interviewed."

Trump, however, faces many challenges in winning over black voters, in part because he has been at the center of controversies regarding his racial views for decades.

The first front-page news story about Trump was a 1973 report about the federal government's lawsuit against him and his father in a racial bias case. Trump denied discriminating against black housing applicants and settled the case without admitting guilt.

Several years later, after Trump had expanded his real estate empire by building casinos in Atlantic City, a former executive from his business accused him of making racist statements. John O'Donnell, who was president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and later wrote a memoir about his experience, said Trump blamed financial difficulties partly on African American accountants.

"I've got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza — black guys counting my money!" O'Donnell's book quoted Trump as saying. "I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else. . . . Besides that, I've got to tell you something else. I think that the guy is lazy. And it's probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is; I believe that. It's not anything they can control.""

rest at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-courtship-of-black-voters-hampered-by-decades-of-race-controversies/2016/07/19/d9822250-4d2e-11e6-aa14-e0c1087f7583_story.html?postshare=7361469015275317&tid=ss_tw

Trump blamed black accountants for troubles at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza

from http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/7/20/1550251/-Trump-laziness-is-a-trait-in-blacks-I-believe-that

"I think that the guy is lazy. And it's probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is; I believe that. It's not anything they can control."

The "laziness" statement came after Donald Trump started having financial difficulties at his casinos in Atlantic City. Trump's response? He had black accountants. And he managed to squeeze two forms of racism into a single statement.

John O'Donnell, who was president of the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino and later wrote a memoir about his experience, said Trump blamed financial difficulties partly on African American accountants.

"I've got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza — black guys counting my money!" O'Donnell's book quoted Trump as saying. "I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else. . . . Besides that, I've got to tell you something else. I think that the guy is lazy. And it's probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is; I believe that. It's not anything they can control."

Of course, Trump hasn't read O'Donnell's book, because Donald Trump doesn't read.​ But he did give an interview.

Trump told Playboy magazine that O'Donnell's memoir was "probably true.""

rest at http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/7/20/1550251/-Trump-laziness-is-a-trait-in-blacks-I-believe-that