Monday: Foggy Day Reads

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’ve talked to people from several places around Texas and they have the same eerie fog that we’ve got here in New Orleans.  Foggy is also a good description  for my brain activity today. It’s also foggy in Minnesota. Nothing seems clear at the moment.

Four US Senators are urging Senator Al Franken to reconsider his resignation over alleged sexual misconduct. It’s a rare day I’m in agreement with Joe Manchin.

“What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats,” said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast to post on Tuesday.

Franken’s unusual timeline — in his departure announcement he said he’d go “in the coming weeks,” without setting a date — has fed the fleeting hopes that there’s still time to reverse course. However, Tina Smith, Minnesota’s Democratic lieutenant governor, was named last week as his appointed successor.

People familiar with Franken’s plans said he has not changed his mind and intends to formally resign in early January. He praised the selection of Smith and has begun working with her on the transition.

At least four senators are urging Al Franken to reconsider resigning, including two who issued statements calling for the resignation two weeks ago and said they now feel remorse over what they feel was a rush to judgment.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who urged Franken not to step down to begin with — at least not before he went through an Ethics Committee investigation — said the Minnesota senator was railroaded by fellow Democrats.

An Amtrack train derailed this morning outside of Seattle.  It actually dropped from a raise overpass onto a section of I-5.  It is also drizzly and foggy up there too. The cause, extent of damages, and the number of folks injured are unknown. There are eyewitness accounts indicating there are cars beneath the fallen cars.

The Amtrak train car fell from an overpass, landing on the I-5 highway outside Seattle. All lanes of traffic have been closed.

Authorities have not yet confirmed the extent of casualties. But witnesses say several people have been injured.

Local news stations report that this was the inaugural run of the new high-speed rail line.

The crash occurred around 07:30 (15:30 GMT), about 45 minutes into train 501’s journey between Portland and Seattle.

Before the crash, it was travelling at more than 80mph (130kmh), with at least 75 people aboard.

It is unclear if it landed on any cars below, but CNN reports that several cars are crushed below the train.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

David Leonhardt has a great Op Ed up in the NY Times about the Republican Tax Plan and how it will exacerbate income in equality. Here is one significant finding of three provided in the piece.

The great tax-cutting revolution of the last half-century hasn’t actually been a tax-cutting revolution for most Americans.

True, they have benefited from a series of cuts in income-tax rates, signed by Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. At the same time, though, another tax has been rising. It is the quiet giant of federal tax policy: the payroll tax.

It funds Social Security and Medicare, and it has been rising in response to the aging of society and rising medical costs. It increased from 2 percent just after World War II to 6 percent in 1960 to 12.4 percent in 1990, where it is today. It has risen so much that it’s now the largest tax that 62 percent of American households pay — larger than the income tax, which gets much more attention.

The increases in the payroll tax have more than offset the declines in the income tax for most middle-class and poor families. They now face higher total tax rates than a half-century ago.

Kremlin Caligula and his krazy krewe of kooks have developed a new Security Strategy that doesn’t include climate change. It also has weird language for traditionally hostile nations like China and Russia.

The White House will unveil a new national security strategy that, according to multiple reports, will break with the Obama administration by declining to recognize climate change as a threat to national security interests.

Why it matters: The report is the latest sign of how the Trump administration, in addition to unwinding domestic global warming rules, has made a sharp rhetorical break with its predecessor when it comes to the geo-politics of climate change.

Buzz: The New York Times points out that climate will surface in the report in a section on embracing U.S. “energy dominance.” The Federalist reported Friday that the strategy will note that “[c]limate policies will continue to shape the global energy system” but will also state:

“U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth, energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.”

It also underscores the mixed messages from the administration on how to assess climate change.

Russia and China are now “competitors”. 

 President Donald Trump will declare that China and Russia are competitors seeking to challenge U.S. power and erode its security and prosperity, in a national security strategy he will lay out in a speech on Monday.

“They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence,” according to excerpts of Trump’s strategy released by the White House.

Still no word about the cyber threat to our elections and the capture of the administration by our ‘competitor’ Mother Russia.’

Twitter has announced new rules designed to promote safety and reduce “hateful conduct and abusive behavior”.  Will it ban Kremlin Caligula?

Today, we will start enforcing updates to the Twitter Rules announced last month to reduce hateful and abusive content on Twitter. Through our policy development process, we’ve taken a collaborative approach to develop and implement these changes, including working in close coordination with experts on our Trust and Safety Council.

New Policies

New Rules on Violence and Physical Harm

Specific threats of violence or wishing for serious physical harm, death, or disease to an individual or group of people is in violation of our policies. Our new changes include more types of related content including:

  • Accounts that affiliate with organizations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes. Groups included in this policy will be those that identify as such or engage in activity — both on and off the platform — that promotes violence. This policy does not apply to military or government entities and we will consider exceptions for groups that are currently engaging in (or have engaged in) peaceful resolution.
  • Content that glorifies violence or the perpetrators of a violent act. This includes celebrating any violent act in a manner that may inspire others to replicate it or any violence where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group. We will require offending Tweets to be removed and repeated violations will result in permanent suspension

We shall see.

What’s on your reading and blogging list?  How’s the weather and end of the year stuff going?

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50 Comments on “Monday: Foggy Day Reads”

  1. joanelle says:

    eerie is an understatement. the snow is melting here in NJ and the sun is working very hard to make it’s presence known – but no fog here!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Freezing rain here.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    CNN: Multiple deaths reported in Amtrak train derailment over Washington state highway

    The deaths “are all contained to the train,” said Ed Troyer, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. “It’s pretty horrific.”

    Troyer said there were “multiple fatalities” but couldn’t provide a precise number.

    — About 77 people were transported to hospitals in Pierce and Thurston counties, officials said. Four of them suffered serious injuries, according to Cary Evans, spokesman for CHI Franciscan Health

    The governor declared a state of emergency for counties involved.

    • dakinikat says:

      I heard six deaths on the train. Sounds awful and I guess that city has sued before. They basically put the tracks in the back yard of poor people.

      • dakinikat says:

        Via a WA resident:

        “In 2013, the City of Lakewood sued the WA Dept. Of Transportation to prevent this high speed Amtrak train that just derailed, 3 dead so far, 77 taken to the hospital, from being routed through residential neighborhoods, saying it was unsafe. They lost. 😢 It was routed through poor neighborhoods, people’s backyards. This trestle was basically in a woman’s back yard.”

        This occurred on the train’s first run on the section.

        • Enheduanna says:

          Why can’t we get rail right in this country?

          • Sweet Sue says:

            We can’t get anything right in this country now.

          • NW Luna says:

            The WaPo article on this which I read about an hour ago had a paragraph about the safety equipment sensors and processes which were available or planned but not in place for this first run. I just went back to copy that to post here and it’s no longer in the article. Hmmm. Maybe that info wasn’t accurate or they couldn’t reliably source it.

          • NW Luna says:

            Here it is…maybe got added back in later?

            A website that collects train location and speed information from Amtrak’s live map said the train was traveling at 81 mph as it neared the curve. Trains are supposed to reduce their speed to 30 mph to negotiate the curve, according to Rachelle Cunningham, a spokeswoman at Sound Transit, which owns the tracks.

            Dinh-Zarr said that speed is one of the first factors that NTSB investigators will be looking at. They will also be assessing what crash-avoidance technology existed on the tracks or on the train and whether that technology functioned properly.

            Though Amtrak trains are equipped with it, the railroad said the train was not using positive train control, a system that would have slowed it as it entered the curve. The system requires that sensors also be placed along the rail bed, and those were not scheduled to be in place until sometime next year, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

    • NW Luna says:

      Look at this detail from the Seattle Times. Story just updated 1:10 pm West Coast time.

      However, an official who was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity that preliminary signs indicate the Amtrak train may have struck something on the track before going off the rails.

      The official said because the tracks were new it was unlikely to be a maintenance issue.

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. NW Luna says:

    including two who issued statements calling for the resignation two weeks ago and said they now feel remorse over what they feel was a rush to judgment.

    Um, “rush to judgment,” yeah? I wish he’d stay until the investigation is finished.

    • Catscatscats says:

      Richard Painter just said on Ari’s show that the Dems made a mistake in forcing Franken out. And he is a Repub! Painter pointed out that Franken’s questioning of Sessions caught Sessions in a lie and we need aggressive senators like Franken to stand up to this administration.

  6. palhart says:

    Two things: In today’s “Politico” reads, someone called the Congressional lemmings, “Vichy Republicans.” Damn, I wish I had thought of that description!

    How can we compete globally if the Republicans give no thought to quality education, universal healthcare, and provisions for upward mobility? The Republican ruse is: all of the above plus infrastructure projects, re-instating State, Environmental, National Security, and other, departments will have to be funded by tax increases. When the Democrats’ majority returns, they ought to present to the people a carefully thought out presentation of how we are failing our people and as a country if we continue under this authoritarian take-over by a crazed leader and his “Make us rich, or richer, again” regime, or his 32% true believers (excellent book by Eric Hoffer). Shame the religious hypocrites with the Bible’s teachings to help the poor, sick, elderly, orphaned. Shame the selfish, cruel rich. Shame those who don’t adhere to laws and the Constitution. Topple this group, like Louise Linton Mnuchin, who brags about her expensive bags and clothing shamefully in a country where 1 in 8 live in poverty.

    • NW Luna says:

      You’re so rational. I don’t think shame makes these Republican blink.

      OTOH, the idea of investment-funding education, healthcare, living wage policies, clean water and clean air sounds like a good strategy.

      • palhart says:

        I’ve long been disappointed with the lack of return fire of the Democrats. The miracle in the Alabama Senate election has to catch fire. My stance is to take the results of the Republican agenda to the people; in essence, they only care about the rich and keeping their power and control. Hammer it home with the example of this pending tax cut bill and who will gain and who will lose badly. Their next move will be cutting Social Security and gutting Medicare and Medicaid. I’ll admit that I don’t know how to change people’s minds in this age of Fox News and bold-face liars. And I’m totally frustrated.

    • Enheduanna says:

      GOPers are only interested in the here and now and how much loot they can get away with. They do not care about the people of this country outside their own limited circle and they don’t actually care about their own descendants either (personal experience with this).

    • NW Luna says:

      The UN has certainly noticed that 1 in 8 living in poverty here. Don’t hear much about that in US journalism though.

      The United Nations monitor on extreme poverty and human rights has embarked on a coast-to-coast tour of the US to hold the world’s richest nation – and its president – to account for the hardships endured by America’s most vulnerable citizens.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/01/un-extreme-poverty-america-special-rapporteur

      • palhart says:

        Thanks for posting that article. I couldn’t remember where I had read it. I worked for 6 years as a social worker in a mill town DSS. It was an eye-opening experience.

  7. NW Luna says:

    *makes popcorn*

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Sarah Palin’s eldest son Track broke into his parents’ home and beat up his father, who had confronted him with a gun.

    When police arrived, they saw Todd and Sarah Palin fleeing the house in separate vehicles, Todd Palin with blood running down his face and Sarah Palin looking “visibly upset,” the documents say.

    Police confronted Track Palin in the residence. He called them “peasants” and told them to lay down their weapons, according to the documents. Eventually, Palin left the house and was placed in handcuffs.

    He told police that when he arrived at the house, his father had his gun aimed at him, and he had urged his father to shoot him several times before entering the house, according to the documents.

    Such a lovely family.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Clapper calls Trump a Russian asset!

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • quixote says:

      He obviously IS an asset. (In the CIA sense. Not in any other sense.) I’m glad some people are speaking plain English instead of that let’s-pretend-we-have-a-normal-president crap you see everywhere.

  10. dakinikat says:

    This is eye popping!

    Final Tax Bill Could End Up Costing $2.2 Trillion

    http://www.crfb.org/blogs/final-tax-bill-could-end-costing-22-trillion

  11. palhart says:

    It’s estimated that foreign investors will benefit by $50B in the new tax “giveaway” in 2019. So much for the “America first”lie.