March 4, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 8:42 AM


We can overcome vaccine hesitancy. Just look at the HPV shot. (Rachel DuRose, Mar 4, 2023, Vox)

In 2005, a year before the HPV vaccine became available, there were an estimated 20 million people living with the virus in the United States. In the same year, 10,370 people were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,710 people died from cervical cancer. Even today in the United States, around 13 million people are infected annually with HPV, and one in 10 women infected are at risk of cervical cancer.

When it was introduced in 2006, the HPV shots held out the hope that widespread vaccination of adolescents -- before they were infected with the virus -- could drastically reduce connected cancer rates. Despite that, parents were initially apprehensive about immunizing their children, an uneasiness that largely stemmed from the idea of their kids having sex as well as concerns over the shots' long-term side effects.

But healthcare workers were able to address these concerns by generally talking parents through their anxieties. They also homed in on the long-term benefit of preventing cancer, which hugely overwhelms any of the vaccine's possible side effects. As a result of these efforts, cervical cancer rates among vaccinated girls and young women have decreased by nearly 90 percent since 2006, potentially saving thousands of lives.

Posted by orrinj at 8:31 AM


The GOP's epic defeat on health care is laid bare in North Carolina (Paul Waldman and  Greg Sargent, March 3, 2023, Washington Post)

Just after the Affordable Care Act fully took effect in 2014, around two dozen GOP-run states were refusing to implement the ACA's expansion of Medicaid. This left millions of Americans languishing in a needless crisis, all because ACA-despising Republican legislators were turning away enormous sums of federal cash earmarked to cover their state's poorest adult residents.

But in the near-decade since, health-care advocates have painstakingly overcome that opposition, and many of those states have now embraced the expansion. Between this and the failure of years of ACA repeal drives, the GOP has essentially been routed in the Obamacare wars.

The scale of this defeat is evident in big news out of North Carolina, where leaders in the GOP-controlled legislature announced a deal Thursday to accept the expansion. 

Health Care Reform was always inevitable and RomneyCare/Heritage/Obamacare was a rather moderate proposal that a co-operative GOP could have improved.  Instead, we turned our party into a racist swamp and got stuck with a plan we failed to influence.  

Posted by orrinj at 8:28 AM


Showdown before the raid: FBI agents and prosecutors argued over Trump (Carol D. Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein and  Aaron C. Davis,  March 1, 2023 , Washington Post)

Prosecutors argued that new evidence suggested Trump was knowingly concealing secret documents at his Palm Beach, Fla., home and urged the FBI to conduct a surprise raid at the property. But two senior FBI officials who would be in charge of leading the search resisted the plan as too combative and proposed instead to seek Trump's permission to search his property...

Orange privilege...
Posted by orrinj at 8:13 AM


120 US Jewish leaders: Smotrich 'should not be given a platform in our community': Calls against welcoming minister slated to address Israel Bonds confab next week in DC expand to include more mainstream and prominent voices, including former ADL and AIPAC chiefs (JACOB MAGID, 3/04/23, Times of Israel)

The Religious Zionism chair was already a controversial figure both at home and abroad for his long history of remarks against the LGBTQ community, Arabs, Palestinians and non-Orthodox Jews.

While boycotting a sitting Israeli minister might not have been a step characteristic for mainstream Jewish groups in the US to take, it appears to have been normalized after Smotrich said Wednesday that "the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out" and that "the State of Israel should do it."

Those comments came amid an outpouring of shock and horror in Israel and abroad after one Palestinian was killed, hundreds were injured, dozens of buildings and dozens of vehicles were by hundreds of settlers who ransacked the Palestinian town of Huwara where two Israeli brothers were shot dead in a terror attack hours earlier.

"As American Jews committed to Israel's future as a secure, Jewish, and democratic state; to a robust U.S.-Israel relationship; and to Jewish peoplehood that fully encompasses Israeli and Diaspora Jewish communities, we are opposed to Bezalel Smotrich visiting the United States later this month in his capacity as Israel's finance minister, and we call on all pro-Israel Americans to understand that welcoming Smotrich here will harm, rather than help, support for Israel," the 120 Jewish leaders said in the Friday statement organized by the center-left Israel Policy Forum.

"Smotrich has long expressed views that are abhorrent to the vast majority of American Jews, from anti-Arab racism, to virulent homophobia, to a full-throated embrace of Jewish supremacy. To this list, we can now add his endorsement of violence against innocents based on their ethnic heritage," they continued.

Posted by orrinj at 8:04 AM


Feds allow Diablo Canyon to stay open while seeking 20-year extension (NADIA LOPEZ, MARCH 2, 2023, Cal Matters)

Federal regulators today granted an exemption that will allow the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant to stay operating while it pursues permission to keep operating past 2025.

The decision by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission means Diablo Canyon can keep running under its current license as Pacific Gas & Electric seeks full approval to extend its lifespan. PG&E has until Dec. 31 to submit its renewal application, which must outline issues related to safety and integrity of the aging reactors.

PG&E said it will seek permission to keep the plant, now slated for shutdown in 2025, operating for up to 20 additional years -- the full extent that is customary for a nuclear power plant application.

Posted by orrinj at 7:57 AM


Iran announces discovery of large lithium deposit (New Arab, 04 March, 2023)

According to a United States Geological Survey (USGS) report published in 2022, a total of 89 million tons of lithium have been identified worldwide. Australia, Chile, Argentina and China are the main producers.

Posted by orrinj at 7:54 AM


How America Soaks the Affluent: The income tax code is steeply progressive, as 2020 IRS data show. (The Editorial Board, March 3, 2023, WSJ)

The Internal Revenue Service recently released its income and tax statistics for 2020, and they show the top 1% of earners paid 42.3% of the country's income taxes. That's a two-decade high in the share of taxes the 1% pay.

That same 1% reported earnings of 22.2% of adjusted gross income (AGI) on their tax returns, which means the share of taxes paid by the top 1% as a group is roughly double their share of income. Whatever else you say about the current tax code, there's no denying that it is steeply progressive.

Begging the question why we penalize income at all.  Penalize consumption.

Posted by orrinj at 7:43 AM


March 3, 2023 (Heather Cox Richardson, 3/03/23, Letters from an American)

Rather than permit them to establish a false narrative, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and the top Democrat on the weaponization subcommittee, Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), today released a deeply researched and footnoted 316-page report that shreds the Republicans' story. 

The report reveals the Republicans' "dozens and dozens of whistleblowers" are, so far at least, three witnesses--whistleblower is actually a specific category and they do not meet that standard--who have left the FBI and have complained that the agency is biased against "conservatives." Two of them lost their security clearances before they left, and while committee Republicans refused to show Democrats the men's suspension notices, one revealed in his testimony that the notice arrived after he had improperly accessed documents from the FBI's classified system. All three embrace a number of conspiracy theories. Under oath, they provided only right-wing accusations of bias without being able to attest to any first-hand knowledge of the things they alleged. 

The witnesses did not come forward on their own; they were identified by former administrators in the Trump administration, including fervent Trump loyalists Kash Patel and Russell Vought. Patel provided money and legal services to two of the witnesses and found one of them a job at Vought's right-wing think tank, the Center for Renewing America, after he left the FBI.

The witnesses were all fervent Trump supporters who were sympathetic to those involved in the January 6th attack. One of them claimed that the January 6th attack was a "set-up" and that it was "a larger #Democrat plan using their enforcement arm, the #FBI." He described the FBI as "the Brown Shirt enforcers of the @DNC," a reference to Nazi Storm Troopers. Another has repeatedly called for the FBI to be "defunded," "dismantled," "dissolved," "aborted," "abolished,"  and "completely eliminated and eradicated from the federal government."

In a section of the report titled "An Analysis of Witness Testimony Shows That Committee Republicans Are Working to Advance a Politically Motivated Messaging Campaign Unsupported by the Evidence," Nadler and Plaskett show how the witness testimony directly rebutted the Republicans' talking points. Under examination, the witnesses disproved that the Department of Justice was trying to pad its case numbers regarding domestic violent extremism, that it had diverted resources from child abuse cases to pursue January 6 offenders, and that the FBI had overreacted to threats of violence against school administrators and local political officials, all Republican talking points. 

The Democrats provided extensive evidence to suggest that Patel was egging on the witnesses to help push Trump's fight against the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Biden administration. 

Democrats challenge credibility of GOP witnesses who embrace false Jan. 6 claims (Justine McDaniel, March 3, 2023, Washington Post)

House Republicans vowing to uncover a "weaponization" of the federal government against conservatives have so far called witnesses who have not presented any evidence of wrongdoing at the Justice Department and FBI but have peddled conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to Democrats on the panel who have heard their interviews.

The three witnesses who have participated in transcribed interviews, all former FBI officials, have shown no firsthand evidence of the politically motivated misconduct Republicans say they are investigating. But they have variously promoted dissolving the FBI, cited baseless claims that the Jan. 6 insurrection was planned by Democrats, that rioter Ashli Babbitt was murdered, and made Nazi allusions, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said in a 316-page report released Thursday night. In addition, they said, two of the witnesses were paid and supported by Kash Patel, an ally of former president Donald Trump.

"There is reason to doubt the credibility of these witnesses. Each endorses an alarming series of conspiracy theories related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, the Covid vaccine, and the validity of the 2020 election," Democrats wrote in the report. "One has called repeatedly for the dismantling of the F.B.I. Another suggested that it would be better for Americans to die than to have any kind of domestic intelligence program."