Tag Archives: family

Here are some of the best public comments on Trump’s national monument executive order.

In an April 26 directive, President Trump called for a review of 27 national monuments created after 1996, claiming there should be more public input on monument designations.

Public lands experts suggested the order was a ploy to open new turf for energy exploration. They said monuments receive plenty of public comment, both from specialists and average Joes.

The experts appear to be right.

Ahead of a June 10 deadline for the Interior Department’s review of Utah’s Bears Ears — among the newest national monuments, and a particularly contentious one — the department received a flood of nearly 150,000 opinions. The great majority implore the administration to leave Bears Ears and the other monuments be.

Poring over 150,000 missives is a definite tl;dr situation — so we pulled some highlights.

“This monument holds immense meaning for the indigenous peoples in the area and to destroy it would continue the erasure of indigenous beliefs and further the genocide of indigenous cultures,” wrote one commenter.

“The air that I breathed in was so much different from the air that I breathed in when I used to live in Korea,” wrote one respondent reminiscing about a trip to Bears Ears. “The visit reminded why our family had immigrated from Korea in first place [sic].”

But it wasn’t all adulations for our “national treasures.”

One comment labeled the designation of Bears Ears an “unjust and unfair federal land grab” — a sentiment echoed by the oil and gas industry. “Undo everything Obama did !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” read another.

The following commenter’s use of caps lock was not at all unique among the responses: “THESE LANDS ARE REAL AND PROVIDE AN REAL CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE SPIRITUAL CONNECTION AND PHYSICAL WONDER. WITHOUT THESE PLACES WE’LL ALL TRAPPED IN OUR IDEOLOGIES AND LIFE BECOMES HELL.”

“Must we destroy everything?” asked one person, while another chided Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to “show some respect for your goddamn country you monkeys.”

And one sly commenter sought to end the discussion on monuments before it began, appealing to Zinke’s unwavering adulation for a former president: “Teddy Roosevelt had the right idea!”

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Here are some of the best public comments on Trump’s national monument executive order.

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Medicaid Is the Most Widely Used Benefit Program in Existence

Mother Jones

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Aaron Carroll points me to this surprising result from a new Kaiser survey:

Is it really true that 71 percent of Republicans think it’s important to keep ACA’s Medicaid expansion? Yes it is, though with less intensity than Democrats and Independents. Is it because they’re confused and think this is about Medicare? Nope. The question explicitly starts out, “Now thinking specifically about Medicaid, the program for certain low-income adults and children…”

The answer probably lies here:

Even among Republicans, nearly half say Medicaid is personally important to their family. If that’s the case, it’s not really surprising that 71 percent support Medicaid expansion. That includes all the Republicans who think it’s personally important plus another sizeable chunk who have one or more friends who depend on it. (Plus, presumably, some who are unaffected by Medicaid but support it out of ordinary human decency anyway.)

These numbers may seem surprisingly high, but they’re really not. In the Kaiser poll, among all party IDs, 58 percent say that Medicaid is personally important to them and their families. In the US there are, roughly speaking:

68 million Medicaid enrollees
85 million families

If, say, there are 35 million families with one Medicaid enrollee; 10 million with two; and 4 million with three or more; that’s a total of 68 million Medicaid enrollees spread out among 49 million families. And that’s 58 percent of all families.

It’s a big number because Medicaid is the most widely used major benefit program in existence.1 Most people don’t know this.

1I think. It’s more widely used than Social Security (61 million), Medicare (55 million), food stamps (44 million), unemployment insurance (6 million at the height of the recession), the home mortgage deduction (about 60 million), 401(k) plans (about 52 million), IRAs (about 60 million), EITC (26 million), and TANF (about 4 million). Am I missing any major programs?

There is one fly in this ointment: employer health insurance. About 155 million people receive medical coverage through their employers, and they all benefit from the tax advantages of employer health plans. If you count this, then Medicaid is only the second most widely-used benefit program.

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Medicaid Is the Most Widely Used Benefit Program in Existence

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Iowa Just Showed Us What Defunding Planned Parenthood Under Trumpcare Would Look Like

Mother Jones

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In a harbinger of what’s to come if the Obamacare repeal bill becomes law, Planned Parenthood has announced that it will close four health clinics in Iowa next month that serve nearly 15,000 patients.

The move is a direct result of a defunding measure signed into law by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad last week that will go into effect on July 1. The new law rejects federal Medicaid dollars and replaces them with a state-run family planning program that will prohibit low-income patients from using their publicly funded insurance for care at providers, like Planned Parenthood, that also offer abortions.

“What is happening in Iowa is what we could see across the country if Congress passes this dangerous law to defund Planned Parenthood,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement. “This is hardest on people who already face barriers to accessing health care—especially people of color, young people, people with low to moderate incomes, and people who live in rural areas.”

The defunding measure enacted by Iowa is similar to the one attached to the Obamacare repeal bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), that passed the House earlier this month and must now head to the Senate. That proposal would undo a federal statute that allows Medicaid patients to use their coverage broadly, prohibiting states from excluding abortion providers in doling out Medicaid reimbursements for nonabortion care. (The Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funds for most abortions.) Iowa’s new law rejects federal Medicaid funding and replaces it with state money so as not to run afoul of this federal requirement.

A number of other states have attempted to exclude abortion providers from their Medicaid programs, but only Texas has ever done so successfully, doing in 2011 exactly what Iowa did last week. Texas’ state-funded program promised to maintain the same level of care for patients without Planned Parenthood, through community health clinics, federally qualified health centers, and more. In reality, there was a significant drop in care for low-income patients: A number of clinics closed. Other health centers attempted to step in, but nearly 26,000 fewer women received reproductive health care. Medicaid contraception claims declined by 35 percent, suggesting that fewer low-income women were obtaining contraceptive care. There was also an increase in childbirths among women receiving Medicaid who’d previously received contraception from Planned Parenthood clinics. The areas that saw the largest drops in women served were those where Planned Parenthood clinics had to close.

The Iowa counties that will be losing Planned Parenthood clinics are poised for a similar decline in access to care: In three out of the four counties with health centers closing—Burlington, Keokuk, and Sioux City—Planned Parenthood served at least 80 percent of the family planning patients using publicly funded insurance, according to 2015 data.

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Iowa Just Showed Us What Defunding Planned Parenthood Under Trumpcare Would Look Like

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Arkansas Just Executed Its 4th Man in 8 Days—His Lawyers Said His Death Was “Horrifying”

Mother Jones

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Last night, Arkansas conducted the last of a series of executions in its rushed attempt to execute eight men in 11 days before its supply of midazolam, a controversial sedative that’s been behind several botched executions, expires at the end of the month. Kenneth Williams, a convicted murderer, was reportedly convulsing, jerking, lurching, and coughing for about 10 to 20 seconds after the officials administered the midazolam.

Kelly Kissel, a media witness, said he could hear Williams in the next room even after the microphone was turned off. J.R. Davis, a spokesman for Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, denied that the inmate had suffered and claimed that his movements were due to “involuntary muscular reaction.”

“There was no testimony that he was in pain,” he added. Davis was not in the execution chamber. Williams’ lawyers, however, are demanding an investigation; they described the execution as “horrifying.”

A series of legal setbacks halted four of the planned executions, but in the midst of public outcry, the state put four men to death in the span of eight days—three others have received stays, and one inmate received a stay after the parole board recommended clemency. Many of the men suffered from mental illnesses, were physically abused, and received substandard lawyering during their trials. Williams, who suffered physical abuse at the hands of his father was intellectually disabled and had an IQ of 70. At some point, doctors said he may have suffered brain damage. One expert noted, “His brain is not working the way it should.”

Williams escaped from prison in 1998, where he was serving time for the murder of Dominique Hurd. He first killed Cecil Boren and, during a police chase, he killed Michael Greenwood in a car crash. The family of Michael Greenwood, asked Gov. Hutchinson to spare his life. “I believe justice has already been served,” said Greenwood’s wife, Stacey Yaw. “He hasn’t been able to kill anyone else. Executing him is more of revenge.”

For his last meal, Williams asked to be served Holy Communion, and in his final statement, he apologized to the families of his victims he “senselessly wronged and deprived of their loved ones.”

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Arkansas Just Executed Its 4th Man in 8 Days—His Lawyers Said His Death Was “Horrifying”

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The Instant Pot Is a Phenomenon—and Indian Cooks Are Using It in the Most Creative Ways

Mother Jones

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Perhaps you’ve heard by now about the Instant Pot, a slow cooker, rice cooker, food warmer, pressure cooker, sauté pan, and yogurt maker all rolled into one slightly unwieldy programmable metal contraption. Over the last few months, this kitchen gadget has garnered a lot of attention. It’s a bestseller on Amazon. The New York Times took it for a spin, as did NPR’s The Salt. Bon Appétit claimed it “will change your life.”

But there’s one group that applies exceptional creativity to the Instant Pot: people who cook Indian food. On a private Facebook group called Instant Pot for Indian Cooking, home chefs adapt traditional dishes—dals, biryanis, curries, and more—and post the photos and recipes to 70,000 members. They also poll each other for advice—questions like “How much paneer do you get from a gallon of whole milk” in the Instant Pot? and “Has anyone used packaged fried onion from the store for Instant Pot biryani?”

These folks are devoted to their Instant Pots. Many members boast that they’ve thrown away their traditional Indian pressure cookers. Someone recently posted a photo of her Instant Pot overlooking a scenic mountain vista. Yes, the Instant Pot went camping.

So what makes the Instant Pot so good for Indian cuisine? On the last episode of Bite, our food politics podcast, I had a quick lesson with Pooja Verma, who cooks a lot of Indian food for her family in Fremont, California. (The segment starts at 02:28)

Pooja told me she now does an impressive 80 percent of her cooking in the Instant Pot. One reason she likes it, she says, is that it’s great for recipes that usually only work in India’s hot climate. Take idlis—dumplings made from fermented rice and lentil flour. The key to making great idlis, Pooja explained, is that the batter must ferment without the addition of yeast. “So some smart people have figured out that the yogurt function in the Instant Pot emanates just the right amount of heat to get the batter fermented overnight.” For more Instant Pot cooking tips from Pooja, listen to our latest episode of Bite.

Bite is Mother Jones‘ food politics podcast. Listen to all our episodes here, or by subscribing in iTunes or Stitcher or via RSS.

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The Instant Pot Is a Phenomenon—and Indian Cooks Are Using It in the Most Creative Ways

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In One Executive Order, Trump Revoked Years of Workplace Protections for Women

Mother Jones

In 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order. It required companies with federal contracts to heed 14 different labor and civil rights laws, including ones aimed at protecting parental leave, weeding out discrimination against women and minorities, and ensuring equal pay for women and fair processes surrounding workplace sexual harassment allegations.

Last week, Trump revoked this order, leaving workers at thousands of companies much more vulnerable to a host of abuses from their employers—and undoing protections meant to create more equitable workplaces for women.

“We have an executive order that essentially forces women to pay to keep companies in business that discriminate against them—with their own tax dollars,” Noreen Farrell, the director of Equal Rights Advocates, told NBC. “It’s an outrage.”

One provision of the now-revoked order required paycheck transparency by companies holding federal contracts, in which they had to provide all employees with detailed statements of their hours and compensation—a measure that’s particularly important for protecting workers against wage theft. A second provision that was jettisoned banned the use of forced arbitration clauses by federal contractors in handling sexual harassment or discrimination claims in their workplaces. These types of clauses—which require allegations to be settled privately outside of court in usually secret proceedings—are a way for companies to preemptively keep sexual harassment allegations out of the public eye.

Trump’s order also revokes the requirement that companies seeking federal contracts disclose three year’s worth of violations of the Equal Employment Opportunity executive order, first signed in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson and since amended to include protections surrounding gender. The order now states that companies with federal contracts “will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.”

Nor will companies bidding on federal contracts be required to reveal their last three year’s worth of violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires that many companies provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new parents.

The day before President Trump signed this order, it was reported that his daughter Ivanka—who has regularly spoken about her father’s plans to improve protections for working moms, and who is currently pushing a child care tax credit as part of the administration’s upcoming tax reform initiative—would represent the United States at an upcoming women’s empowerment summit in Berlin. Here is her tweet:

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In One Executive Order, Trump Revoked Years of Workplace Protections for Women

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Betsy DeVos’ Confirmation As Education Secretary Is in Trouble

Mother Jones

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Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) told colleagues Wednesday that they will not vote for GOP billionaire megadonor Betsy DeVos for education secretary, throwing her nomination in doubt just a day after a committee voted to advance DeVos’ bid to the full Senate.

With the GOP-Democrat split in the Senate at 52-48, “no” votes from Collins and Murkowski—and a party-line vote from Democrats—would tie the count at 50, leaving Vice President Mike Pence to cast the deciding vote. With one more dissenting Republican, however, Democrats would have officially defeated a Cabinet nominee for the first time since defense secretary nominee John Tower was voted down in 1989.

The two senators’ statements came as somewhat of a surprise given that both had voted in committee Tuesday to move DeVos’ nomination to the full Senate. But each had expressed reservations about DeVos’ support for school choice and voucher programs and her commitment to public education. “I have serious concerns about a nominee who has been so involved in one side of the equation,” Murkowski said on the Senate floor Wednesday, adding that her office had received thousands of calls from constituents concerned about DeVos.

DeVos has been the subject of criticism from teachers’ unions, Senate Democrats, and others for her defense of expanding charter schools and voucher programs, her inexperience in public education, and questions about her commitment to upholding federal civil rights laws, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. As my colleague Kristina Rizga recently pointed out in an in-depth investigation, DeVos and her family have donated millions of dollars to right-wing causes and conservative Christian groups.

DeVos’ vote before the full Senate has not yet been scheduled, though there was speculation Wednesday afternoon that the GOP would move quickly. Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters he had “100 percent confidence” that DeVos would be confirmed, adding, “I think that the games being played with Betsy DeVos are sad.”

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Betsy DeVos’ Confirmation As Education Secretary Is in Trouble

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Beyoncé Will Bless Our Cruel World with Two Beautiful Babies

Mother Jones

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Beyoncé is having twins, y’all.

We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over. We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for your well wishes. – The Carters

A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Feb 1, 2017 at 10:39am PST

The musical superstar posted this photo to Instagram on Wednesday morning to announce her pregnancy.

And Twitter promptly lost its shit.

Continued here – 

Beyoncé Will Bless Our Cruel World with Two Beautiful Babies

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Bernie Sanders Just Roasted Trump’s Billionaire Pick for Education Secretary

Mother Jones

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Early on in Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing to become President-elect Donald Trump’s education secretary Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Bernie Sanders sized up the wealthy philanthropist and let loose: “Do you think that if you were not a multibillionaire, if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions, that you would be sitting here today?”

As my colleague Andy Kroll wrote in 2014, “the DeVoses sit alongside the Kochs, the Bradleys, and the Coorses as founding members of the modern conservative movement.” And as MoJo‘s Kristina Rizga documented in her new in-depth investigation, Betsy DeVos has been a fervent supporter of the Republican push for charter schools and vouchers—with a particular interest in, as Rizga puts it, “building God’s Kingdom through education.”

Watch DeVos’ confirmation hearing response—and Sanders’ continued grilling about free college education and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans—below:

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Bernie Sanders Just Roasted Trump’s Billionaire Pick for Education Secretary

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Science Says This Weird Virus Could Make You Fat

Mother Jones

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It’s January, the month of new diets and gym memberships. In the spirit of starting off a brand new year, there’s no reason not to eat healthier and move around more. But if your aim is just to lose pounds, you might be on the wrong track. In her new book, The Secret Life of Fat, biochemist Sylvia Tara reveals what many dieters have suspected for a long time: There’s more to losing weight than just eating less and exercise. Tara joined us on the most recent episode of Mother Jones’ food politics podcast Bite.

The long list of factors that influence body size and shape, writes Tara, includes our genes, hormones, and bacteria in our gut. And what’s more, she notes, weight is not a great indicator of overall health (a topic I’ve written about before).

But here’s what hardly anyone talks about: Viruses, too, can lead to weight gain. In her book, Tara tells the story of a 62-year-old man named Randy who had struggled with his weight for his entire life. After being scratched by a chicken on his family’s farm at age 11, Randy’s appetite increased dramatically—and despite his intense physical work on the farm every day, he swiftly packed on the pounds. No one could explain Randy’s weight gain, and the fact that the rest of his family members were slim made it even more puzzling.

It wasn’t until decades later that Randy found a possible explanation. He went to see a pioneering endocrinologist named Dr. Richard Atkinson, who suspected that Randy had contracted a virus that was partially responsible for his extra weight—and his difficulty shedding pounds. Atkinson’s postdoctoral assistant, an Indian scientist named Nikhil Dhurandhar who had studied metabolism-changing chicken viruses, confirmed Atkinson’s suspicion with a blood test: Randy tested positive for a virus called AD-36.

Tara chronicles a fascinating series of experiments in which Atkinson and Dhurandhar showed that AD-36 changed animals’ metabolisms. When marmoset monkeys were infected with the virus, for example, their body fat increased by almost 60 percent. The team then set about studying AD-36 in humans. Here’s how Tara describes what they found:

Dhurandhar and Atkinson tested over 500 human subjects to see if they had antibodies to the AD-36 virus, indicating they had been infected with it at some point in their lives. His team found that 30 percent of subjects who were obese tested positive for AD-36, but only 11 percent of nonobese individuals did—a 3-to-1 ratio. In addition, nonobese individuals who tested positive for AD-36 were significantly heavier than those who had never been exposed to a virus. Once again, the virus was correlated with fat.

The team went on to study pairs of twins in which one tested positive for AD-36 and the other tested negative. “It turned out exactly the way we hypothesized,” Dhurandhar told Tara. “The Ad-36 positive co-twins were significantly fatter compared to their AD-36 negative counterparts.”

Whether Randy was infected with AD-36 from the chicken that had scratched him as a child—and how large of a role AD-36 played in his own struggles—is almost impossible to know. There’s no cure for AD-36, though Atkinson is hopeful that scientists will someday develop a vaccine. He believes that as many as 30 percent of obese people may be infected with the virus.

Meanwhile, Tara reports, Randy still struggles to lose weight. He eats just 1,500 calories a day; his main meal is typically a salad. Atkinson told Tara that Randy “is a remarkable person, with more discipline than anyone I have ever met.”

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Science Says This Weird Virus Could Make You Fat

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