[News] Post a Political News Story

Ongoing discussion of the political news of the day. This thread is for 'smaller' stories that don't call for their own thread. If a story blows up, please start a new thread for it.

New dinosaur fossils found on land no longer protected by Bears Ears National Monument

A group of paleontologists exploring land around Utah's Bears Ears last year say they have found a rare cache of prehistoric fossils on an "extensive" site that as of this month is no longer protected as a national monument.

The researchers, who were working on a Bureau of Land Management grant, announced their discovery at the Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists annual conference last weekend.

The crocodile-like phytosaur dinosaur fossils were found in what the group of paleontologists said, "may be the densest area of Triassic period fossils in the nation, maybe the world."

"Based on our small, initial excavation, we believe that this 63-meter (69-yard) site may be the densest area of Triassic period fossils in the nation, maybe the world. If this site can be fully excavated, it is likely that we will find many other intact specimens, and quite possibly even new vertebrate species,” said Rob Gay, the group's leader.

However, the site in question sits in a precarious position for researchers. More than one million acres of land, which were once protected under a National Monument designation, no longer carry as many protections since the Trump administration opted to shrink the monument starting February 2.

The researchers called the discovery of the fossils on the Utah site "extremely rare" and also announced that during the dig they found that a number of the fossils had been earlier looted.

"It is extremely rare to find intact fossil skulls of specimens from this period,” said Gay. “It is rarer still to recover fossils that have been looted, which was the case with one specimen that was missing a portion of its skull. We did a little more digging before realizing this site had been looted by someone without a permit for this kind of fossil removal.”

Edit: Really cool writeup about it, with pictures:
Major fossil cache found on lands cut from Bears Ears National Monument

Nimcosi wrote:

There are few words that our government introduced into their (our?) lexicon in the last 18(ish) years that rub me the wrong way more than czar and homeland. Having said that, words matter, intent matters. I cannot even...

A bit of a tangent, but the use of 'Czar' as an unofficial title for US government positions is not all that new, and began under FDR.

absurddoctor wrote:
Nimcosi wrote:

There are few words that our government introduced into their (our?) lexicon in the last 18(ish) years that rub me the wrong way more than czar and homeland. Having said that, words matter, intent matters. I cannot even...

A bit of a tangent, but the use of 'Czar' as an unofficial title for US government positions is not all that new, and began under FDR.

This is true. People just got upset when Obama used it. Both Bushes and Clinton used it but no one crapped themselves when they used it.

Baron Of Hell wrote:
absurddoctor wrote:
Nimcosi wrote:

There are few words that our government introduced into their (our?) lexicon in the last 18(ish) years that rub me the wrong way more than czar and homeland. Having said that, words matter, intent matters. I cannot even...

A bit of a tangent, but the use of 'Czar' as an unofficial title for US government positions is not all that new, and began under FDR.

This is true. People just got upset when Obama used it. Both Bushes and Clinton used it but no one crapped themselves when they used it.

Ironically whenever people would talk about "czars" under Obama crazies on the right say things like, "Oh, so now we live in Russia".

DSGamer wrote:

Ironically whenever people would talk about "czars" under Obama crazies on the right say things like, "Oh, so now we live in Russia".

They just kept quiet about the fact that they found it strangely arousing.

At 1:08 (in case the tag doesn't work):

Ted Cruz wrote:

I think that Democrats are the party of Lisa Simpson, and Republicans are _happily_ the party of Homer, and Bart and Maggie and Marge.

Prederick wrote:

As the above article I posted on the Trump-Russia Frenzy goes into, I just don't buy into the amazingly manipulative effectiveness of the Russian trolls. I wouldn't argue they had zero effect, but the vast majority of this stuff is by us and on us.

I think in vacuum propaganda is only so effective.. but it certainly is effective when it is used to make you feel good about your beliefs. In other words our society is probably particularly ripe for exploitation by propaganda. Hell Fox News is basically propaganda 24X7.

absurddoctor wrote:
Nimcosi wrote:

There are few words that our government introduced into their (our?) lexicon in the last 18(ish) years that rub me the wrong way more than czar and homeland. Having said that, words matter, intent matters. I cannot even...

A bit of a tangent, but the use of 'Czar' as an unofficial title for US government positions is not all that new, and began under FDR.

I stand corrected. Still not a fan of using a word that started out as a familial name then morphed into a title that is synonymous with emperor/ruler (Kaiser, Tsar, Czar, etc) for a US government official (regardless of who is president).

Nimcosi wrote:
absurddoctor wrote:
Nimcosi wrote:

There are few words that our government introduced into their (our?) lexicon in the last 18(ish) years that rub me the wrong way more than czar and homeland. Having said that, words matter, intent matters. I cannot even...

A bit of a tangent, but the use of 'Czar' as an unofficial title for US government positions is not all that new, and began under FDR.

I stand corrected. Still not of a fan using a word that started out as a familial name then morphed into a title that is synonymous with emperor/ruler (Kaiser, Tsar, Czar, etc) for a US government official (regardless of who is president).

FWIW I'm not a fan of it either. My biggest beef with the term is that it's an attempt to make you feel better about things because that person, being a "czar", is an expert or has a lot of power. Often times that isn't the case, of course. So czar is partly annoying and partly gives a false sense that someone's got a handle on things.

For example, right now Kellyanne Conway is the "Opioid Czar". Seriously. Is anyone feeling better about addicted love ones because she's the "czar" on that issue?

‘I don’t know how you got this way’ -
A young neo-Nazi reveals himself to his family. And now his mother and grandmother wonder whether they can get him back

The mother and son were sitting in the living room, arguing about Ellen DeGeneres again.

“She definitely helps push the degeneracy. Didn’t she have that cross-dressing little boy on?” Kam Musser, 21, said of one of her recent guests. “That little boy in makeup.”

“He’s a makeup artist,” said his mother, Kirsten, 48, correcting him. “What’s wrong with that? . . . He does a beautiful job.”

“I don’t think putting makeup on little boys is very kosher.”

“He’s not hurting anybody or himself.”

“Okay,” he said, rolling his eyes. “He does what he does; I do what I do.”

What Kam was doing, and what he wasn’t, had come to dominate so much in their lives. He was two years out of high school now, and he didn’t have a job, or a car, or a place of his own, or much money beyond what his mother gave him — nothing at all to occupy his time except a computer that had carried him to the most extreme parts of the Internet, and to beliefs that no one in his family could understand. In the year since the 2016 presidential election, Kam had gone from supporting white supremacists, to joining a neo-Nazi group, to shouting “white lives matter” at a rally, to standing beside Richard Spencer outside the White House, to increasingly tense conversations with his mother and grandmother, both of whom were beginning to fear that what they had once thought was just a phase was quickly becoming his life.

How did this happen?

Where did these ideas come from?

Could he still be saved?

These are questions being asked here and across America, as many among the growing number of young white supremacists — raised in an era scarred by recession, upturned by social change and governed by the first African American president — reveal themselves to their families. In Fargo, N.D., the realization ruptured one family: “Peter Tefft, my son, is not welcome at our family gatherings any longer,” his father said in a public letter after his son joined a white nationalist rally. In Wenonah, N.J., another father uncomfortably accommodates what he abhors: “People expect me to condemn my son,” Bob Stankard said. “But my son is my son.” In Greenland, N.H., another family doesn’t yet know the truth: “I tell [my parents] I’m a feminist, and I run a fake Instagram to throw them off,” said an 18-year-old white nationalist who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I’m living a double life.”

And in this suburb, just outside Columbus, there was this: one more discussion coming to a frustratingly abrupt conclusion between a mother and son who felt as though they didn’t know how to talk to each other anymore.

“I just think they’re pushing all the trannies and stuff,” Kam said of “Ellen.”

“They’re not pushing it, though!” Kirsten said.

“You just went to a bar with a bunch of drag queens. You have an opinion bias right now,” he said. “You’re going to say Hitler was a cross-dresser next.”

“He was gay is what I heard.”

“Okay,” he said, laughing sarcastically. “All the lies about World War II.”

“And he was a horrible painter, too.”

“He wasn’t a horrible painter. I like his stuff,” Kam said. “Where do you get your information from?”

“High school.”

“You were getting shoved all that propaganda down your throat. . . . They got to reach you young. Got to shove it down your throat right away so you buy it. I don’t believe the whole entire narrative of the Holocaust,” he said, referring to Nazi Germany’s murder of 6 million Jews during World War II.

Looking irritated, Kirsten stood up and walked into the kitchen — past the message she’d written for Kam on the refrigerator, saying, “When you chose the behavior, you chose the consequences” — but he kept on talking.

“A lot of it was most definitely fabricated by the Soviets,” he said. “That’s my personal belief.”

She came back to the living room. He looked at her. He sighed.

“I don’t talk about this to all the normies,” he continued.

“I’m a normie,” she replied and then stood up and left again.

“I don’t think putting makeup on little boys is very kosher.”

He's p bad at the whole nazi thing imo.

oilypenguin wrote:
“I don’t think putting makeup on little boys is very kosher.”

He's p bad at the whole nazi thing imo.

Totally missed that in the overwhelming horror of the rest of that quoted bit. Thank you.

He seemed the most offended when she took a shot at Hitler's painting skills.

JeremyK wrote:

He seemed the most offended when she took a shot at Hitler's painting skills.

I think we would all be much happier if he had been accepted by that conservatory... but he really was a sh*t painter.

A gun that they couldn't bring on stage, no less. That much irony has to burn. It just has to!

I feel like AJit Pai is immune to irony at this point. He feeds on it like some kind irony vampire.

thrawn82 wrote:

I feel like AJit Pai is immune to irony at this point. He feeds on it like some kind irony vampire.

Ooooh, I'm putting an Iron Vampire in my next tabletop RPG session.

Mixolyde wrote:
thrawn82 wrote:

I feel like AJit Pai is immune to irony at this point. He feeds on it like some kind irony vampire.

Ooooh, I'm putting an Iron Vampire in my next tabletop RPG session.

All vampires are iron vampires.

That article shows two things. How much raw political and social power the NRA has and how vicious and dirty the gun control movement is going to have to fight to move the needle.

How Putin meddles in Western democracies

IN THE late 1980s, as Mikhail Gorbachev launched perestroika, Russia made peace with the West. It was possible to believe that each would give up trying to subvert the other with lies and cold-war conspiracy theories. With the indictment of 13 Russians on February 16th by the American special counsel, Robert Mueller, it is clear just how fragile that belief was.

Mr Mueller alleges that in 2014 Russia launched a conspiracy against America’s democracy, and he believes he has the evidence to withstand Russian denials and a court’s scrutiny. Perhaps because Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, thought the CIA was fomenting an uprising in Ukraine, the Internet Research Agency, backed by an oligarch with links to the Kremlin, set up a trolling team, payments systems and false identities. Its aim was to widen divisions in America and, latterly, to tilt the vote in 2016 from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump.

Europe has been targeted, too. Although the details are sketchier, and this is not the focus of the Mueller probe, Russia is thought to have financed extremist politicians, hacked computer systems, organised marches and spread lies (see Briefing). Again, its aim seems to have been to deepen divides.

It is futile to speculate how much Russia’s efforts succeeded in altering the outcomes of votes and poisoning politics. The answer is unknowable. But the conspiracies are wrong in themselves and their extent raises worries about the vulnerabilities of Western democracies. If the West is going to protect itself against Russia and other attackers, it needs to treat Mr Mueller’s indictments as a rallying cry.

Prederick wrote:

As the above article I posted on the Trump-Russia Frenzy goes into, I just don't buy into the amazingly manipulative effectiveness of the Russian trolls. I wouldn't argue they had zero effect, but the vast majority of this stuff is by us and on us.

I don't think the trolls need to be amazingly effective. In a racist, sexist society affected by gerrymandering and voter suppression all they need to do is bump the needle.

What I don't understand is the idea I've seen implied among leftists, particularly berners and third party advocates, that Russian troll farms and broad structural issues are mutually exclusive. I suspect a bit of guilty deflection.

The Myth of What’s Driving the Opioid Crisis — Doctor-prescribed painkillers are not the biggest threat

As an addiction psychiatrist, I have watched with serious concern as the opioid crisis has escalated in the United States over the past several years, and overdose deaths have skyrocketed. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show fatalities spiraling up to about 42,000 in 2016, almost double the casualties in 2010 and more than five times the 1999 figures. The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently estimated that the opioid crisis cost the nation half a trillion dollars in 2015, based on deaths, criminal justice expenses and productivity losses. Meanwhile, foster care systems are overflowing with children whose parents can’t care for them, coroners’ offices are overwhelmed with bodies and ambulance services are straining small-town budgets. American carnage, indeed.

I have also watched a false narrative about this crisis blossom into conventional wisdom: The myth that the epidemic is driven by patients becoming addicted to doctor-prescribed opioids, or painkillers like hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin) and oxycodone (e.g., Percocet). One oft-quoted physician refers to opioid medication as “heroin pills.” This myth is now a media staple and a plank in nationwide litigation against drugmakers. It has also prompted legislation, introduced last spring by Senators John McCain and Kirsten Gillibrand—the Opioid Addiction Prevention Act, which would impose prescriber limits because, as a news release stated, “Opioid addiction and abuse is commonly happening to those being treated for acute pain, such as a broken bone or wisdom tooth extraction.”

But this narrative misconstrues the facts. The number of prescription opioids in circulation in the United States did increase markedly from the mid-1990s to 2011, and some people became addicted through those prescriptions. But I have studied multiple surveys and reviews of the data, which show that only a minority of people who are prescribed opioids for pain become addicted to them, and those who do become addicted and who die from painkiller overdoses tend to obtain these medications from sources other than their own physicians. Within the past several years, overdose deaths are overwhelmingly attributable not to prescription opioids but to illicit fentanyl and heroin. These “street opioids” have become the engine of the opioid crisis in its current, most lethal form.

If we are to devise sound solutions to this overdose epidemic, we must understand and acknowledge this truth about its nature.

For starters, among people who are prescribed opioids by doctors, the rate of addiction is low. According to a 2016 national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 87.1 million U.S. adults used a prescription opioid—whether prescribed directly by a physician or obtained illegally—sometime during the previous year. Only 1.6 million of them, or about 2 percent, developed a “pain reliever use disorder,” which includes behaviors ranging from overuse to overt addiction. Among patients with intractable, noncancer pain—for example, neurological disorders or musculoskeletal or inflammatory conditions—a review of international medical research by the Cochrane Library, a highly regarded database of systemic clinical reviews, found that treatment with long-term, high-dose opioids produced addiction rates of less than 1 percent. Another team found that abuse and addiction rates within 18 months after the start of treatment ranged from 0.12 percent to 6.1 percent in a database of half a million patients. A 2016 report in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that in multiple published studies, rates of “carefully diagnosed” addiction to opioid medication averaged less than 8 percent. In a study several years ago, a research team purposely excluded chronic-pain patients with prior drug abuse and addiction from their data, and found that only 0.19 percent of the patients developed abuse and addiction to opioids.

Indeed, when patients do become addicted during the course of pain treatment with prescribed opioids, often they simultaneously face other medical problems such as depression, anxiety, other mental health conditions, or current or prior problems with drugs or alcohol. According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than three-fourths of those who misuse pain medication already had used other drugs, including benzodiazepines and inhalants, before they ever misused painkillers. And according to CDC data, at least half of all prescription opioid-related deaths are associated with other drugs, such as benzodiazepines, alcohol and cocaine; combinations that are often deadlier than the component drugs on their own. The physical and mental health issues that drive people to become addicted to drugs in the first place are very much part of America’s opioid crisis and should not be discounted, but it is important to acknowledge the influence of other medical problems and other drugs.

This Is What Life Without Retirement Savings Looks Like

CORONA, Calif.—Roberta Gordon never thought she’d still be alive at age 76. She definitely didn’t think she’d still be working. But every Saturday, she goes down to the local grocery store and hands out samples, earning $50 a day, because she needs the money.

“I’m a working woman again,” she told me, in the common room of the senior apartment complex where she now lives, here in California’s Inland Empire. Gordon has worked dozens of odd jobs throughout her life—as a house cleaner, a home health aide, a telemarketer, a librarian, a fundraiser—but at many times in her life, she didn’t have a steady job that paid into Social Security. She didn’t receive a pension. And she definitely wasn’t making enough to put aside money for retirement.

So now, at 76, she earns $915 a month through Social Security and through Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, a program for low-income seniors. Her rent, which she has had to cover solo since her roommate died in August, is $1,040 a month. She’s been taking on credit-card debt to cover the gap, and to pay for utilities, food, and other essentials. She often goes to a church food bank for supplies.

More and more older people are finding themselves in a similar situation as Baby Boomers reach retirement age without enough savings and as housing costs and medical expenses rise; for instance, a woman in her 80s is paying on average $8,400 in out-of-pocket medical expenses each year, even if she’s covered by Medicare. Many people reaching retirement age don’t have the pensions that lots of workers in previous generations did, and often have not put enough money into their 401(k)s to live off of; the median savings in a 401(k) plan for people between the ages of 55 and 64 is currently just $15,000, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security, a nonprofit. Other workers did not have access to a retirement plan through their employer.

That means that as people reach their mid-60s, they either have to dramatically curtail their spending or keep working to survive. “This will be the first time that we have a lot of people who find themselves downwardly mobile as they grow older,” Diane Oakley, the executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security, told me. “They’re going to go from being near poor to poor.”

My company doesn’t offer a 401k. I should have walked away, but it was right after my mom passed and I just wanted to go back to work. Starting to look now.

My wife and I are amongst the lucky ones. I have no idea how this nation will hold together once an entire generation without retirement grows older.

EDIT: Fixed bad autocorrect

Fidelity funds are non-profit and well-run.

I know. It doesn’t matter right now. We’ve put away a lot of money this last year in addition to saving for the down payment to buy a home and buying our home. So I’m not worried. I’m mostly frustrated at losing the tax benefit.

The larger issue still stands. What will America look like when a generation of stagnant wages meets no retirement savings?

DSGamer wrote:

My wife and I are amongst the lucky ones. I have no idea how this control will hold together once an entire generation without retirement grows older.

Hopefully the nation that purchases the U.S. will have Universal Basic Income by then.

ruhk wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

My wife and I are amongst the lucky ones. I have no idea how this control will hold together once an entire generation without retirement grows older.

Hopefully the nation that purchases the U.S. will have Universal Basic Income by then.

What’s healthcare like in Russia and China?