Harvard researcher looks for the key to understanding the link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease

  - promoted by david

(Cross-posted from The COFAR Blogsite)

The link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease has become the subject of increasing scientific interest, and a major new study is seeking to shed further light on that connection.

Dr. Florence Lai of Harvard University, McLean Hospital in Belmont, and Massachusetts General Hospital, is the lead Massachusetts investigator in a multi-center, five-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Donald Trump's Big League Russian Circus

promoted by david

Clowns are the pegs on which the circus is hung.

-P. T. Barnum

A drunk juggler, walking a high wire, juggling chainsaws, as the American public looks up in shock and disbelief. That’s Donald Trump. The man who would be ringmaster of our political circus. Surrounded by a bevy of freaks, his only mirror the fun house of the right wing media.

There’s no way this circus presidency ends well. The only questions are how and it ends. (Bookmakers are giving odds). And more importantly, what the extent of the damage to America will be.

If there were a way to stave off investigations into his and his campaign’s connections to Russia, his unhinged, Saturday morning tweets were not it. Accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower was completely nuts. There are enough people with an investment in reality that investigations are inevitable. The GOP is trying to get enough of its agenda passed before the Trump presidency completely crumbles.

A sane president, one without a virulent personality disorder abetted by a personal fortune, might have used the tweets as pre-emptive strike against whatever the next Russia revelation will be. Instead, it was up to talk show host Mark Levin, a pus-bag of conservative vitriol, to pass the buck to Obama–the man who couldn’t do anything right as president but can manage the most nefarious conspiracy now out of office. (It’s him behind the protests, don’t you know).

Levin’s story, passed on by Breitbart, wasn’t absolutely unsourced. “A series of reports that began with a piece by Louise Mensch in Heat Street back in November, later corroborated by articles published by The Guardian and the BBC in January, claimed that the FBI sought a warrant from the FISA Court.

Trump-Russia Links in a Graph

  - promoted by david

I would embed this if I could.


Since we are certain we do not yet have all the actors and connections, we really cannot draw any conclusions. Still, there may be some utility in the exercise, and the data can be updated as new information becomes available — as it has, nearly every day.

Centrism's Solutions To Inequality Are Mostly Feckless

Good discussion. (Among other things, adds to nostalgia about Richard M. Nixon. Remember when it was permissible to consider a program like universal basic income -- and remember when it was permissible to create the Environmental Protection Agency?) - promoted by hesterprynne

If you want to feed a hungry person, you need to give them food, and if you want to solve inequality, you need to take money away from wealthy people and redistribute it to non-wealthy people. The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine recently ran 7 solutions to inequality from Brandeis University’s Thomas Shapiro, but six of the seven ideas are akin to trying to solve hunger by distrubuting cookbooks.

The list starts strong with “Baby Bonds” – giving each American child a certain amount of money in a savings account. There are flaws – restricting what the child could do with the money would inflate the program’s cost by adding administrative hurdles & costs, and income restrictions seem divisive & unnecessary. But the point is sound – wealthy people pay more in taxes (though often a lower share of their income) than the poor, so by redistributing tax revenue equally back to children, this solution would accomplish the goal of defeating inequality.

Sometimes centrists are just putting new names on old ideas, like “offer universal retirement accounts.” We already have a federal system of delivering cash to retirees – it’s called Social Security. Why not just raise benefits? If the goal is to nudge workers to save more, we already have 401ks and myriad similar schemes. Why aren’t those working? They’ve been a public policy disaster because they expect workers to save money they don’t have.

“Full employment”? Falling unemployment over the last five years has failed to raise wages. The invisible hand won’t save us.

The rest of the lists consists of giving out cookbooks – nice ideas that would not directly solve inequality. Leveling education funding, universal pre-K, capping mortgage write-offs – these are all really good ideas! But if you’re Sandy Guerrier, working your tail off but still falling behind, none of them put money in your pocket.

There are two problems with trying to fix inequality of opportunity (some have much worse education opportunities than others) instead of inequality of outcome (some have much less money than others). One is that you’re completely giving up on fixing inequality today. The other is that it ignores the impact of inherited wealth. A “family’s economic circumstances play an exceptionally large part in determining a child’s economic prospects later in life,” concluded a Stanford study funded by Pew. As Evan Horowitz wrote for the Globe in 2015, education can’t fix inequality.

Shapiro knows this as well as anyone because he literally wrote the book on it. Black Wealth/White Wealth talks about how black families have, on average, 10 cents of wealth for every dollar white families have. If your family is poor, if follows you throughout your life. You’re more likely to live in a high crime area, more likely to get into trouble, and less likely to have a wealthy family to bail you out of it. You’re more likely to have to pass up educational opportunties to take paying work, more likely to graduate from college with debt, and more likely to need to go much deeper into debt buying a car or a home.

Centrists ignore the single best idea for immediately, effectively curbing inequality: Basic income. Think of it as Social Security for all, regardless of age or work status. By taxing everyone & writing everyone a check, you provide immediate, direct relief of inequality. It could be done in place of or on top of existing programs.

As an added benefit, it would be a massive economic stimulus, moving money from sitting in the bank accounts of the wealthy to working people who’d use it immediately to pay off debts or buy essential goods or services. President George W. Bush knew this – he worked to send taxpayers a check as part of his 2001 tax cut and included a direct rebate in the 2008 stimulus bill, both essentially one-off Basic Income efforts.

There are plenty of other widely-beneficial, inequality-reducing programs the government could offer – single-payer health insurance, free or deeply subsidized child care, free college education – but Basic Income is the biggest, fastest, most effective solution.

But the Kochs would hate it, so centrists don’t talk about it.

What's a good school? The answer matters!

promoted by david

What’s a good school?  And how do you know?

How you answer may affect where you choose to live, send your children, or teach.

How we answer as a state can affect the future of children, teachers, schools, and communities.  Teachers may lose their jobs, schools may close, tax bases may shrink.

There are a lot of ways to rank schools. 

This week Niche listed the “Top 100 Public High Schools in Massachusetts.”  You may be surprised.

It’s quite different from Boston Magazine’s “Best Public High Schools in Greater Boston.

That’s because both rankings include MCAS scores — but also other things.  Both include graduation rate and sports.  Niche includes lots of other data, including diversity, and parent and student surveys on food, school culture and safety, administration, and other topics.

Sessions Open Thread

Yesterday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was in the "Russian Ties" spotlight. Today it's Jeff Sessions. Tomorrow? - promoted by hesterprynne

My early take, a bit too hard to believe. Link.

But AT BEST, he “misspoke” while making a blanket statement about this, in non-answer to Senator Franken’s question.

Thoughts? Developments?

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Who's smarmier - our current President of former FBI agent John Connolly? - promoted by hesterprynne

*crossposted from whiteworkingclassliberal.com

Maybe if we think, and wish, and hope, and pray, it might come true
Baby, then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do (The Beach Boys)

I was going to write something about last night’s speech, but Sarah Kendzior has written a wonderful rebuttal that is better than anything I could do. It’s  here  and I highly recommend reading it.

The headline to Sarah’s piece says “Trump played nice for the night,” and that seems to have come as a surprise to a lot of people. President 44 1/2 doesn’t often play nice or like to talk much about things that would be nice. His rhetoric leans towards fearfulness and apocalyptic ravings, with some empty promises and slogans thrown in, such as in last night’s speech. Indeed, I Googled “donald trump wouldn’t it be nice” and I found a few references to an off the cuff remark he made at a town hall in October about not broadcasting battle strategies. Oh, and also, about one thousand references or variations on the same theme, that he keeps hitting over and over again:

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we got together with Russia and knocked the hell out of ISIS?”

The President has been saying this for years now, so I’d thought I’d respond. I want to ask him if he’s ever seen Black Mask, or is somehow otherwise familiar with the story of Whitey Bulger and FBI agent John Connolly. Because an alliance between the US and Putin’s Russia would be built on the same moral ground as the alliance between the FBI and Whitey Bulger, and a Putin alliance would be just as bad for the US as the Bulger alliance was for the FBI.

Maddow on Russians funneling millions to Trump and an open question

It was only yesterday that, of the President's cabinet appointees, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seemed to have the most problematic Russian ties. - promoted by hesterprynne

Stop what you’re doing. Go watch Rachel Maddow untangle the wild connections in a real estate deal that netted Trump over $50 million.

I’ll wait

To recap:

  • Deutsche Bank gets into $630 million of hot water with Obama’s feds because of laundring Russian oligarchs’ money — moving $10 billion out of Russia
  • The head of Deutsche Bank ends up running the Bank of Cyprus, which is Russian oligarchs’ favorite bank
  • In 2004, Donald Trump buys a fabulously overwrought Palm Beach estate — Maison de l’Amitie – from the bankruptcy of tax-evading healthcare tycoon Abe Grosman for $40 million
  • At the same time, there’s a multi-billionaire Russian — Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Fertilizer King — trying to move his wealth into real estate trust to avoid paying some of his billions to his ex-wife
  • Rybolovlev happens to be one of two vice-chairmen of the Bank of Cyprus
  • In 2008, Rybolovlev buys Maison de l’Amitie from Trump for $95 million, 2-1/2 times more than Trump paid for it
  • Trump claims transaction happened without his ever meeting Rybolovlev
  • The other vice-chairman of the Bank or Cyprus, and the majority shareholder is Wilbur Ross, Trump’s just confirmed Commerce Secretary
  • At the time of the windfall from Rybolovlev, Trump was having very public problem making good on a $40 million loan from Deutsche Bank

Explosive, no? (A bullet list doesn’t do it justice. Watch the video.)

As many dots as Maddow connects, there’s one gaping hole in the narrative: why was Rybolovlev willing to overspend by as much as $60 million for a Florida estate? Moving money out of the way of the ex-wife doesn’t seem like sufficient motivation to give away tens of millions to not-yet-even-candidate Trump.

This must be connected to another deal (or deals). Some part of the overpayment bought somebody (maybe Rybolovlev) something other than a Xanadu of bad taste in South Florida. What did that extra money buy? Why wasn’t that investment made directly?

You know what might clear this up? Tax returns.

The Next Elected President Will Be Republican Unless Democrats Address The Non-Racist Root Problems Inflaming Most Trump Voters

Come for the Life of Brian clip. Stay for the discussion of Governor Baker's vulnerability in '18 (among other things). - promoted by hesterprynne

Call me an optimist but I refuse to believe that most Trump voters (63 million Americans) are true racists and homo-phobes and anti-immigrant etc.

Most are pissed about lost opportunities for them and their children. Then Trump comes along and provides them outlets  to vent a good amount of steam.

Meanwhile the Democratic Party is ignoring their concerns and re-empahasising the social issues that the party is known without addressing their concerns.

“That’s all great and everything, but what about me,” asked the average Trump voter. “And oh by the way, I’m super pissed.”

Unfortunately the party, like all major institutions, is run and controlled by people in the .01% (not the 1%) and it’s in their best interest to keep the economic status quo.

So Trump can get shit-canned and Pence can stay they course for the .01% who run this country and that will be that. OR, we can start hearing of a new more inclusive economy that will close the income gap and return lost opportunities to Americans of all ethnicities, sexes, races, religions, sexual orientations, breeds, and litters.

We need to hear more from the “Old Elizabeth Warren” and the message she was delivering.

Jesus Christ people it’s not rocket science.

Time for us all to join the Front Against A Repulsive Trump (FART)


Trump speech was "Bannon on steroids with a smile"

promoted by david

That’s how our new DNC Chair Tom Perez described it.

So what do you think ?

Personally,  I found it to be more performance than pivot but we’ll know soon enough.

I still think the Imposter is all sizzle and no fat.

Fred  Rich  LaRiccia

Are the Protesters Just Crybabies?

promoted by david

There’s a meme going around depicting demonstrators as cry babies.  If we are crying, it is not because we lost, but for:

The families of the Jews buried in peace whose graves are being desecrated because of the empowerment of the worst racists in our society at the highest levels;

The families of the Indian men murdered in cold blood last week by a man screaming ‘get out of my country’ with no response from the White House for a week other than a nonsensical evasion of any responsibility for enabling hate;

The disgrace of following up in the White House one of the finest class acts we have ever had in this country with a petulant, selfish embarrassment;

The thought of all of the families of ordinary farm and culinary workers from Latin America worrying that any day they will be ‘disappeared’  from their homes without warning, with their children left helpless and alone in their own homes, their only ’crime’ being coming to our country to do back-breaking work that Americans will not do;

The embarrassment and shame of becoming a country that stops and detains people in our airports – like the son of Muhammed Ali – because of their religion, in direct violation of our Constitution and our values;

The shameless assault on the free press and very idea of truth, facts, and science; and

Finally, because the American dream is being attacked and replaced with an ideology of resentment and hate that is not the America we love.

The demonstrators are not there to express themselves.  They are there to tell the powers that be that they will not be passive in the face of lawlessness and hatred, and they will not cooperate in the dismantling of a country based on e pluribus unum- out of many, one.


Accepting JConway's Challenge - Party Participation 101

Scaling the walls of the Massachusetts Democratic Party with Christopher - promoted by hesterprynne

On one of the recent threads regarding the race for DNC Chair, JConway suggested that I try my hand at a diary written in layman’s terms regarding how to break into what to some may feel like a fortress which is difficult to breach.  While the information is available, upon reflection maybe my “special power” which I denied having in response to the linked comment is that I have a high tolerance and understanding of the nuances of rules and procedure that not everyone shares.:)  This diary will attempt to address a few different possible points of entry into participation in the institutional Democratic Party.