Lazy Caturday Reads

Spooked, by Chiakiro

Spooked, by Chiakiro

Good Morning!!

Bill Clinton is still in a California hospital being treated for a urological infection that got into his bloodstream. The Guardian: Bill Clinton to remain in hospital as he recovers from urological infection.

The former US president Bill Clinton’s health is improving but he will remain in a California hospital for at least another night to receive antibiotics intravenously for a urological infection that spread to his bloodstream, his spokesperson said on Friday.

The 75-year-old Clinton, who served as president from 1993 to 2001, entered the University of California, Irvine, medical center on Tuesday evening after suffering from fatigue. He spoke with Joe Biden on Friday.

Clinton’s spokesperson Angel Ureña said that Clinton’s white blood count has decreased, indicating his health is improving.

“All health indicators are trending in the right direction, including his white blood count which was decreased significantly,” Ureña said on Twitter. “In order to receive further IV antibiotics, he will remain in the hospital overnight.”

Since his admission to the intensive care unit at the hospital, Clinton has received fluids along with antibiotics, his doctors said.

His wife, a former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, was at the hospital on Thursday and Friday, and the two read books and talked about politics, Ureña told Reuters.

It remained unclear when Clinton would be released.

Biden said Clinton would likely go home soon, though it was not clear whether he would be released on Saturday or later.

“He is getting out shortly. … Whether that’s tomorrow or the next day, I don’t know,” Biden told reporters in Connecticut. “He’s doing fine. He really is.”

aldemir-martins-gato-verde-acrilica-sobre-tela-14335

Aldemir Martins, Gato Verde (Green Cat)

NBC News has an explainer on the infection Clinton is fighting: What led to Bill Clinton’s hospitalization? Warning signs of the common infection.

The urologic infection that a source close to Bill Clinton says led to the former president’s hospitalization is common in older individuals and can be serious, experts say.

But when treated in a timely manner, the prognosis for such cases is excellent….

A source close to Clinton told NBC News that his initial diagnosis was a urologic infection that morphed into a broader infection.

While little else was immediately revealed about Clinton’s condition, including whether it originated in his urinary tract or elsewhere in the urinary system, experts who were not involved in his care said such spread of infection can be life-threatening without prompt medical attention.

“This is not uncommon. This is something we frequently treat in the emergency room, where somebody comes in with a urinary tract infection,” NBC News senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres said Friday on the “TODAY” show. “Especially as they get older, their body is not able to contain that, so it moves from the urinary tract, from the bladder and the kidneys, into the bloodstream.”

At that point, Torres said, a patient is at risk of sepsis — a dangerous overdrive of the immune system in response to an infection — or septic shock, when organs start to fail.

Doctors must keep a close eye on these patients to make sure the strong antibiotics they are treating them with are lowering their white blood cell counts, which would indicate the infection is getting under control, said Dr. Ash Tewari, a urologist and prostate cancer specialist at Mount Sinai in New York.

Doctors will also work to identify any underlying conditions that may have led to the infection in the first place: a blockage, a kidney stone, even diabetes, Tewari said. Sometimes, procedures are necessary to prevent future recurrences.

More info at the NBC link.

Incatneato, by Jeff Haynie

Incatneato, by Jeff Haynie

This is a horrific story from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. That’s the backwoods part of the state Dakinikat has told us about. Raw Story: Three children attacked a Black woman. A sheriff’s deputy arrived — and beat her more.

The Jefferson Parish Shraeriff’s Office is investigating a deputy accused of holding a Black woman by her hair and slamming her head repeatedly into the pavement with such force that a witness to the Sept. 20 incident said it ripped several of Shantel Arnold’s braids from her scalp. A 14-second video captured the incident in the New Orleans suburb where, for decades, Black residents have accused the Sheriff’s Office of targeting them.

It was the second time that hour that Arnold had been assaulted. By the time the deputies arrived, she said she had already fended off an attack by some local boys.

In an interview, the 34-year-old Arnold, who has not been previously identified, told the news organizations she had needed the police’s protection. But protection is not what she got.

The video begins with a sheriff’s deputy seen holding the wrist of Arnold, who is lying on her back on the sidewalk. The deputy appears to be dragging her along the pavement. The deputy then grabs Arnold’s arm with his other hand and jerks her upward, lifting her body off the ground. They briefly disappear behind a parked white vehicle. When they come back into view, the deputy is holding Arnold by her braids, slamming her repeatedly onto the cement. At one point, he whips her down so violently her body spins around and flips over.

The footage ends as the deputy crouches down and places a knee onto Arnold’s back.

Arnold is only 4 feet eight inches tall and weighs about 100 pounds.

The incident started around 2 p.m. on Sept. 20 when Arnold was attacked by three boys as she was walking down the street near her family’s trailer home. At 4-foot-8 and about 100 pounds, her left eye missing from a car accident years earlier, Arnold regularly made an easy target for the neighborhood bullies, her family said.

During the attack, which lasted several minutes and was captured in a cellphone video, the boys slammed Arnold to the ground and beat her while a crowd watched and laughed. She tried to defend herself with a stick, which is visible in the video. The assault ended only after 71-year-old Lionel Gray, whom Arnold considers her stepfather, chased the boys away.

Disheveled and covered in dirt, Arnold stumbled down the road toward her home when an unidentified sheriff’s deputy rolled up beside her in his patrol car.

There’s more at the link. ProPublica has an expose on Jefferson Parish’s history of brutal racism: “They Saw Me and Thought the Worst.” For years, Black residents of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, have voiced complaints about abuses and a lack of accountability within its Sheriff’s Office.

remedios varo

Painting by Remedios Varo

At the New York times, another tale of government racism and crumbling infrastructure from Michigan: More Lead-Tainted Water in Michigan Draws Attention to Nation’s Aging Pipes.

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — During the three years that officials have known about dangerous amounts of lead flowing from faucets in Benton Harbor, Mich., they have sent out notices, distributed filters and tried to improve water treatment. But the problems persisted, and some residents said they never heard about the risks of the toxic water coming from their taps.

Now, in scenes reminiscent of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., state officials have told Benton Harbor residents not to drink, cook or brush their teeth with tap water. Elected officials came to town Thursday promising help. And so many cars have turned out for bottled water giveaways that traffic has been snarled, a rarity in a place with 9,100 residents.

“It’s horrible to watch, to see my city like this,” Rosetta Valentine, 63, said as she directed traffic at a water distribution site where some people lined up nearly an hour before the event started.

Residents of Benton Harbor see parallels between their plight and the water crisis that unfolded less than three hours up the highway in Flint, also a majority-Black city, where a change in the water source in 2014 led to residents drinking contaminated water despite repeated assurances that it was safe. In Benton Harbor, where thousands of homes are connected to the water system by lead pipes, efforts to bring down problematic lead readings by using corrosion controls have so far failed, and officials have recently grown concerned that lead-removing filters given to residents since 2019 might not work.

The problems in Benton Harbor and Flint are extreme examples of a broader, national failure of water infrastructure that experts say requires massive and immediate investment to solve. Across the country, in cities like ChicagoPittsburgh and Clarksburg, W.Va., Americans are drinking dangerous quantities of brain-damaging lead as agencies struggle to modernize water treatment plants and launch efforts to replace the lead service lines that connect buildings to the water system. Health officials say there is no safe level of lead exposure.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Graceful Beauty, by Hans Ruettimann

Graceful Beauty, by Hans Ruettimann

Here’s some revenge porn for us Democrats by Molly Jong Fast at The Atlantic: Democrats Are Ready to Send Steve Bannon to Jail.

Congressional Democrats, who control both chambers and have a majority on the January 6 committee, can ask the House or Senate sergeant-at-arms to arrest Bannon. Yesterday afternoon, though, Representative Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the committee, announced that he will pursue a more moderate path: Next week, the committee will vote on whether to refer Bannon to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution.

“We fully intend to enforce” the subpoenas, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who is one of two Republicans on the special committee, assured me. “That doesn’t come with the snap of a finger, but we will get to the bottom of these questions and pursue all avenues.”

Democrats want to uphold norms of interparty civility while also preventing Trump and his buddies from completely undermining democracy. But time is running out. The January 6 committee is one of Congress’s last chances to narrate the Capitol riots and the Trump administration’s efforts to subvert the peaceful transfer of power. The only way to fight fascism is with narrative, Masha Gessen, the writer and activist, once told me. The select-committee probe presents a real opportunity to do just that.

Enforcing the committee’s subpoenas isn’t a controversial idea, Representative Eric Swalwell of California told me. “We must enforce congressional subpoenas not just for holding insurrectionists accountable but to show everyone in America that we all follow the same rules,” he said. “If Bannon and company are above the law, why wouldn’t nonpublic figures toss their lawful subpoenas in the trash?”

Perhaps Bannon thinks that the committee won’t follow through, or that jail time might martyr him. He’s dodged consequences for alleged misconduct before. Last year, he faced prison for his role in the “We Build the Wall” scheme, which prosecutors said was fraudulent, but Trump granted him an 11th-hour pardon. At least he’s had some time to think about what he might have to pack.

Head over to The Atlantic to read the rest.

Toracat, by Chiakiro

Toracat, by Chiakiro

This is from Mary Ellen Cagnassola at Newsweek: Adam Schiff Says ‘People Like Steve Bannon’ Are Not ‘Above The Law’ Ahead of Contempt Vote.

The congressional committee tasked with investigating the January 6 Capitol Riots is closing in on top Trump ally and adviser Steve Bannon with an expected vote to recommend criminal contempt charges against the former White House aide for defying a subpoena.

Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who also sits on the January 6 committee, went as far as to say that he expects the Justice Department to prosecute.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who also sits on the January 6 panel, said he expects the Justice Department to prosecute the cases.

The chairman of the special committee, Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said the panel will vote Tuesday to recommend charges against Bannon, an adviser to Donald Trump for years who was in touch with the president ahead of the most serious assault on Congress in two centuries….

If approved by the Democratic-majority committee, the recommendation of criminal charges would go to the full House. Approval there would send them to the Justice Department, which has final say on prosecution.

The showdown with Bannon is just one facet of a broad and escalating congressional inquiry, with 19 subpoenas issued so far and thousands of pages of documents flowing to the committee and its staff. Challenging Bannon’s defiance is a crucial step for the panel, whose members are vowing to restore the force of congressional subpoenas after they were routinely flouted during Trump’s time in office.

Psycho Cat, by Jeff Haynie

Psycho Cat, by Jeff Haynie

Why is the committee waiting until Tuesday to hold the vote on Bannon? Because it will be televised in prime time. This is from The Palmer Report: Get your popcorn ready: the Steve Bannon criminal contempt proceedings will be in prime time. (Mainstream journalists hold this guy in contempt, but he is almost always right.)

Why is the January 6th Committee waiting until Tuesday to hold Steve Bannon’s criminal contempt hearing? Because they’re doing it in prime time and airing it in public. They’re going to make an example out of him as loudly as possible. Get your popcorn ready.

Of course no matter how forcefully the hearing is conducted, and no matter how serious the resulting criminal contempt referral is, we’ll still have to put up with the defeatists. Whatever the committee does, most pundits will naturally insist that it should have done the opposite, because that’s the only way that a lot of pundits feel they can keep themselves relevant.

And of course the defeatists will falsely insist that the Department of Justice “won’t do anything” and that Bannon will “get away with it all.” But at this point that kind of background whining is just par for the course.

What the whiniest of pundits and activists don’t get is that these kinds of hearings are not for their benefit. Their minds are already made up. The January 6th Committee, its actions, its hearings, and its conclusions are for the benefit of average Americans in the middle who know that something went wrong that day but want to be convinced of what specifically happened in painstaking fashion.

We’ll find out next week. I can’t wait.

I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread. Have a nice weekend everyone!! 


Monday Reads: Farewell my Lovely!

795584d4afa6807e8967bfb2d7d1e515Good Morning and Happy Solstice!

It is a very gloomy Monday here in New Orleans.  It’s supposed to be 71  degrees Fahrenheit but I think the dampness has taken the warmth away.  I’m sitting at my desk in my thick and sloppy chenille sweater that I slept in last night.  It does double duty over sweats and flannel pajamas when it gets like this.  Yes, the word for it is bone-chilling cold.  Some times I’m glad for the breeze off the mighty Mississippi–blocks from my door–but it’s not July so I’m shivering while watching the big green leaves of my avocado tree flutter in the wind.  I’m most fortunate that Temple is an excellent hot water bottle because the cold, damp, and age are taking a toll on me. My fingers ache and don’t seem to want to type as fast as usual.

There are some interesting tids and bits in the morning news.   Lady Lindsey has given up on the Republican nomination having gained just about as much traction as pig on ice.  I’m actually going to miss him because he sounded reasonable and actually less of a war monger than the rest of the slate as impossible as that sounds!  All of us are very aware of the Lady’s love of the manly pursuit of war. Oh, and his last words were inkled to Hillary Clinton. Back to the quiet of your closet m’lady!!  You sashayed mightily across the stage of the kiddie debate.

Senator Lindsey Graham is ending his presidential campaign, he told CNN during an exclusive interview airing Monday.

“I’m going to suspend my campaign. I’m not going to suspend my desire to help the country,” the South Carolina senator said in a wide-ranging and candid discussion in which he acknowledged: “I’ve hit a wall here.”

He made the official announcement in an email to supporters and Youtube video posted Monday morning.

Graham is known for his quick wit and famous for his one-liners (just ask Princess Buttercup about his retort from the last debate), but he was sober, serious and emotional as he described his decision to leave the race just weeks before the voting begins.

One thing is clear: Graham still wants his voice heard on the direction his party is headed, especially with regard to the Middle East.

“Here’s what I predict. I think the nominee of our party is going to adopt my plan when it comes time to articulate how to destroy ISIL,” he said. “We’ve fallen short here, but the fight continues. To those who are doing the fighting, I want to be your voice. To those in the Republican Party who want to win, check my plan out. Hillary, if you get to be President, I’ll help you where I can. I hope you’re not. But if you are, I’ll be there to help you win a war we can’t afford to lose.”

One of the most frustrating things about the inability of life to accommodate women is your basic restroom visit.  Bathrooms are generally inadequate for women in all ways. They are too small and badly placed probably by design or male architectural ignorance.  I knew exactly why Hillary was a bit late to the 4ad9f9be1ec7cb42332e73c2163e124dstage during one of those breaks.  It had to be the shortness of time and the hassle of using a public restroom. I guess it was inevitable given the scout work Huma did prior to Saturday’s shindig. But, here we go women, I give you Pottygate.

The reason is one many women are familiar with: An unexpected line for the loo. While Clinton waited for the ladies’ room to clear out, time ticked down, and the debate organizers allowed the show to go on without her.

What viewers didn’t know was the sole women’s bathroom was a little further than the men’s room from the stage. And when the debate went to a long commercial break Clinton lost out to Lis Smith, the caffeine-guzzling deputy campaign manager for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who beat her to the restroom. Smith declined to comment for the story.

A top Clinton staffer who was strategically posted outside the bathroom (presumably to avoid these kinds of situations) gave Smith a verbal OK to make a quick pit stop, according to one person familiar with the ladies’ line.

Meanwhile, we continue to see the fallout from Datagate.  Bernie Sanders has suspended two staffers.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign suspended two more staffers directly involved in the data breach that has roiled the party, a Sanders aide confirmed to POLITICO after the Democratic debate on Saturday night.

Pending an investigation, the two aides join data director Josh Uretsky in leaving the campaign following the revelation that they accessed and downloaded voter information from Hillary Clinton’s team during a technology glitch on Wednesday

9053f3971117e22887a97304a012cc20Sanders did apologize for the breach at the debate.  An independent investigation into the incident has been agreed to by both Clinton and Sanders.  The Clinton campaign is assessing the damage.

Clinton’s top strategist and pollster-in-chief Joel Benenson, who oversaw two successful Obama campaign operations that set records for maximizing core-voter turnout, says his staff is eagerly awaiting the results of a third-party audit into the hack of the Democratic National Committee-housed lists. The DNC said it is just beginning the process of securing an independent audit by a data security firm.

The Clinton campaign also wants to learn basic details of the narrative — like why, for instance, Sanders’ campaign manager didn’t tell his candidate when he learned of the breach last Wednesday; Sanders was only looped in a day later, after DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called him personally with the news. Weaver told POLITICO on Saturday he withheld the information from Sanders because he at first believed the breach was a staff-level concern that could be dealt with in-house. “My field director informed me,” he recalled. “I said, ‘let everyone know that no one is to do anything with the Clinton data.’ It was not clear immediately there was any problem on our side.”

On Saturday, it was still not clear to the Clinton campaign how much damage had been done. “I don’t think any of us will know until this audit is completed how serious this all is,” Benenson said after the debate at St. Anselm’s College — adding that the value of the information is less about the specific voters being targeted than hints about how Clinton’s campaign plans to deploy its resources.

“All of [the data] is extremely valuable, it is work produced by tens of thousands of volunteers. … it is part of a roadmap to how we are running and strategizing in our campaign and how we get to the totals we need to win in Iowa and New Hampshire, especially,” he said, his voice rising with exasperation.

I have a few other links for you today.  First, a new study shows the impact 27865bcf2633a32984c3f2b6c39ccf61of Poverty on intellectual development.  This should concern us given the number of US children living in poverty and their treatment by states like Kansas, Wisconsin, etc.

Whether intelligence is more the product of nature or nurture has long fascinated American social scientists and the general public alike. Typically the result is explained as some balance of genetics and environment, but since the early 1970s, researchers have noticed that this scale tends to shift dramatically across social classes. It’s as if nature and nurture play by different rules for rich and poor.

Generally speakingthiswork has found that genetic variance tends to explain the bulk of IQ scores for advantaged groups, whereas environmental variance plays a larger role for disadvantaged ones. (This line of research draws its results from comparative analyses of identical twins, who share a complete genetic makeup, and fraternal twins or siblings.) In other words, when it comes to intelligence, a comfortable upbringing seems to help nature reach its potential, but an impoverished one seems to interfere at every turn.

Still, other studies have failed to confirm these findings, enough so that scholars continue to wonder. But a strong new analysis published in the journalPsychological Science suggests that the role of genetics in intelligence indeed varies with socioeconomic status—at least in the United States. The data reveal no such pattern in other parts of the developed world, a finding the researchers attribute to “more uniform access” to social programs such as strong education and health care.

“The differences observed across nations might be explained by weaker social safety nets in the U.S. compared to Western Europe and Australia,” the psychologist Elliot Tucker-Drob of the University of Texas at Austin, the paper’s lead author, tells CityLab via email. “While this study did not investigate specific policies or services that might explain the differences … I think that it is fair to say that the causes of the difference are likely to be manifold.”

If that isn’t cause enough for concern, consider the impact of increased lead in the water in Flint, Michigan due to their wicked stupid Governor and his administration.  This has put nearly every child in the city in extreme danger.  Rachel Maddow has done some excellent shows on this disaster.  Here’s an in depth article from AJ.seasonal-reindeer-milking

In October, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced that the city of Flint would change its water source. This was in response to the discovery that temporarily pulling water from a local river produced high levels of lead in the water supply for Flint, an economically struggling community of 100,000 residents roughly an hour northwest of Detroit.

It was a crisis months in the making. Problems began as soon as officials decided in April 2014 to have Flint stop using Detroit’s water system and begin drawing water from the Flint River.

This was billed as a measure that would save millions of dollars. But residents almost immediately raised concerns about the discolored and smelly water that was flowing from their taps. Tests revealed high levels of chemicals that could cause liver or kidney problems, and some complained of losing hair and getting rashes after drinking the water.

In response to the growing backlash and the evidence that residents were drinking poisoned water, state and city officials sought to quell concerns, insisting the water was safe to drink and continually disputing local studies published this fall that showed lead levels sharply increased in the bloodstreams of Flint residents, including children. (Research suggests that lead can cause irreversible cognitive and developmental damage to children.)

But even as Snyder and other state officials relented, a question has continued to linger among activists and residents with children who could face life-altering circumstances as a result of lead poisoning: Who’s to blame for this mess?

At the October announcement that Flint would switch back to Detroit’s water system, Snyder made clear that he was interested solely in finding a solution to fix the problem, not in revisiting mistakes. Nonprofit donations, along with appropriations from the state and city, would pay for the $12 million transition back to Detroit’s system, he said.

22bdd54a94418c617213d38efa5d3c03The impact on Flint’s children is devastating and may be permanent.

Research published by Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha in September showed levels of lead in children’s blood spiked at the same time as the water switch. Elevated blood lead levels are especially harmful for children, who can suffer stunted growth and irreversible brain damage. In October, after denying any problem, state officials acknowledged they failed to treat the water to adjust for its corrosiveness, and Snyder signed legislation switching Flint back to Detroit’s water.

The city has told residents it could take as long as six months for the water lead levels to decline. A Dec. 11 report from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said the state found elevated blood lead in 39 of 1,836 Flint residents who had testing done since early October. Blood lead levels can decline in a matter of weeks after a person is exposed to lead.

This week, in response to Weaver’s new disaster declaration, a spokesman for Snyder referred HuffPost to previous statements from the governor’s office outlining actions already taken, including an Oct. 2 action plan and the Oct. 21 creation of a special task force to investigate what went wrong and recommend solutions.

Well, that’s it for me today.  Hope your week goes well and that you get to spend some relaxing and fun time with family and friends!  On to the celebration of Festivus for the rest of us!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?