Archive

September 18th, 2016

I treated kids in a Syrian hospital. We have no idea how to heal their trauma.

    One evening in June, I found myself on the roof of a bombed-out hospital in Aleppo. It was pitch black because the city's east side is without electricity. My colleagues and I watched jets fly by, dropping bombs on the outskirts of the besieged region. Exploding rockets could be heard throughout the night.

    I'm a pediatrician in Chicago. This summer I traveled with two colleagues from the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) to Aleppo. There, I saw firsthand the way this war is maiming children emotionally as well as physically. The kids I encountered often struggled with debilitating trauma. Some had stopped eating; others could barely communicate.

    My experience echoes across the country. In one town, CNN reported a rash of child suicide attempts.

    "The children are psychologically crushed and tired. When we do activities like singing with them, they don't react at all; they don't laugh like they would normally," a teacher in the western town of Madaya told Save the Children. "They draw images of children being butchered in the war, or tanks, or the siege and lack of food."

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House Republicans revel in their irrelevance

    We're about to see if House Republicans have learned anything in the last few years. That is, we'll see if the small group of radicals can bully mainstream conservatives into casting irresponsible and counterproductive votes on two measures.

    First, the House Freedom Caucus zealots are intent on forcing a vote this week on impeaching the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, John Koskinen. Even if they had a case against him -- and they don't -- it's an abuse of their power to go through with an impeachment procedure with no chance for a conviction in the Senate, and with limited time before the end of the current Congress.

    Then sometime before the end of the month, the House will need to bring up a bill to keep the government running after the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. Since it has run out of time to pass regular appropriations bills (none have been sent to Barack Obama so far, even for a veto), the House will need to pass a "continuing resolution" to give itself more time. And since members are determined to leave town to resume campaigning, after already taking an unusually long summer break, "more time" means waiting until after the election.

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Factory jobs rise under Democratic presidents

    Since the presidential race began more than a year ago, Donald Trump has missed few opportunities to castigate Hillary Clinton for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

    He blames her for accelerating the job exodus by supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, which was initiated by President George H.W. Bush and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

    It's prudent to resist giving American presidents too much credit or blame for the economy's performance. Success often depends as much on luck and timing as on smart policymaking, and correlation is not causation. But it's fair to ask what happened to manufacturing workers since Nafta and during the presidencies of the men who preceded and followed Clinton into the White House.

    Manufacturing jobs increased under each of the seven Democrats and decreased under the six Republicans who became president during the past eight decades, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Even as U.S. employment expanded -- as it did under every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt -- manufacturing jobs declined only under Republican presidents.

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Even Organic Farms Sacrifice Sustainability to Cut Costs

    I visited a family farm recently. It was small, and local, and certified organic. In theory, it was everything an eco-conscious foodie could want. And yet, it wasn’t.

    Like every farm family, the couple who runs the farm is constrained by economic factors.

    Unfortunately, the measures they’ve taken to make their finances work have made their farm less environmentally sustainable.

    Their biggest expense is labor, so they do everything they can to reduce the amount of labor they need, including employing machines. A lot of machines. Machines that run on fossil fuels.

    They use tractors to plow, plant, and weed the fields. They frequently disturb the soil this way, because herbicides aren’t organic, and hand weeding is too expensive.

    They get a few extra weeks of productivity and added income from extending their growing season by lining the ground with plastic to heat the soil. Then they throw the plastic away.

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Donald Trump is the symptom of our PTSD

    How did we get here?

    It is September 2016 and Donald Trump is one of two people who have a chance of being the next leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world. Something in excess of four out of 10 Americans who are likely to vote support him and, according to a recent poll, his voters are more enthusiastic and engaged than those supporting his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

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Why taco trucks won't be taking over U.S. streets

    Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos for Trump, warned darkly this month that Hispanic immigration would lead to "taco trucks on every corner." Yet, in fact, the factors that led to an explosion of taco trucks are reversing.

    A recently published study by the Pew Research Center showed that the growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S. is slowing drastically. Since 2010, it has slowed to a 2.4 percent annual rate, down from 2.8 percent from 2007 to 2014, 4.4 percent between 2000 and 2007, and a high of 5.8 percent in the 1990s. The overall U.S. population growth rate is a little less than 1 percent.

    The decline appears even more stark if you dig into the numbers. Net immigration from Mexico has been negative since the recession, and Hispanic population growth is increasingly due to U.S.-born babies. And the birthrates of Hispanic mothers are collapsing. Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that between 1990 and 2014, births per 1,000 for Hispanic women age 15-44 have fallen from 107.7 to 72.1.

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September 17th

How is Hillary Clinton still alive?

    Let us suppose, for a moment, that everything we have ever heard about Hillary Clinton's health is true.

    She has had multiple strokes. Also, she has multiple sclerosis.

    She depends upon a stool.

    She has Parkinson's. And HIV.

    She might or might not have asthma.

    She has one year left to live.

    There are at least two so-called Hillary Clintons. One is a body double. Both wear adult diapers, which accounts for the shape of their garments, but they are not very subtle about it, so that many YouTube users were able to notice and comment.

    She is constantly suffering from seizures, blackouts, falls and collapses.

    She has unspecified heart trouble.

    She has lupus.

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West Virginia cop fired for not killing a man with an unloaded gun

    We've tracked countless cases here where cops were able to keep their jobs after killing unarmed people, killing people after responding to the wrong house, killing people and then lying about it ... the list goes on.

    Give the Weirton, West Virginia, police chief some credit. He's come up with a new spin on the the same problem. He just fired a cop for not killing someone.

    From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    "After responding to a report of a domestic incident on May 6 in Weirton, W.Va., then-Weirton police officer Stephen Mader found himself confronting an armed man.

    "Immediately, the training he had undergone as a Marine to look at "the whole person" in deciding if someone was a terrorist, as well as his situational police academy training, kicked in and he did not shoot.

    "'I saw then he had a gun, but it was not pointed at me,' Mr. Mader recalled, noting the silver handgun was in the man's right hand, hanging at his side and pointed at the ground.

Voters already know what they need to know

    We have a strong if mistaken assumption that voters should be experts on political candidates, at least when it comes to those running for president. How does this assumption affect the reaction to Hillary Clinton's health issue, for example, or to new revelations about Donald Trump's business practices? Or, for that matter, to our understanding of the policies the candidates articulate?

    Let's start with the policy part.

    When it comes to their positions, candidates generally give detailed information, freely available on their web sites (Donald Trump is a partial exception, but even he sometimes talks about his plans if he's elected). So, as David Weigel of The Washington Post correctly points out, the people mainly responsible for voter ignorance are … the voters themselves.

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Trump's tax returns could offer key answers to Russia questions

    Why does Donald Trump say such nice things about Vladimir Putin and Russia? What is Trump hiding in the tax returns he refuses to release? And are those two questions related?

    Voters should demand answers. Until we get them, we can only speculate about Trump's weird admiration for a strongman who presides over a system of autocratic cronyism, flouts international law with his territorial ambitions, works against U.S. interests in hotspots around the globe, and apparently might have even deployed computer hackers to meddle in our election.

    There may be nothing nefarious here; perhaps Trump just admires Putin's swaggering style. But there are reasons to wonder whether Trump's warm-and-fuzzy feelings are prompted by financial motives.

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