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It’s a hoax says Limbaugh

Think Progress reports:

Limbaugh did not recant his earlier statements about Irma, and he did not encourage his listeners in the area to evacuate. In fact, Limbaugh seemed to even double down on his earlier views.

“The views expressed by the host of this program [are] documented to be almost always right 99.8 percent of the time,” Limbaugh said right before announcing he would be leaving South Florida for parts unknown. “There is a reason for that because we engage in a relentless and unstoppable pursuit of the truth and we find and proclaim it and that happens to drive people crazy.”

On his show Tuesday, Limbaugh said he was reading the paths of the hurricane and was certain it would curve into the Atlantic, and even if it did so, Limbaugh said “official” meteorologists and the media would have accomplished their goal.

“If it ends up not hitting where you are, hits somewhere else, you might temporarily breathe a sigh of relief, but you’re still gonna think, ‘Man, there might be something to this climate change,” Limbaugh said. “Do not doubt me, with everything being politicized, of course it is an objective of some, not everybody, of course, but some of the people involved here.”

Even Big Water was in on the conspiracy, Limbaugh concluded, as people were stocking up on cases of bottled water for the storm that wouldn’t come when they could just use the water coming out of their taps.

Limbaugh’s hurricane denialism came just a week after Vice President Mike Pence joined Limbaugh on the show to discuss Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, but, at any rate, Limbaugh seems to have stopped believing his own conspiracy.

As CNN security analyst Juliette Kayyem noted, Limbaugh has a large audience—his show reaches 15 million people per week—and many of his listeners believe his theories. While Limbaugh evacuates, others may stay behind in part because he wrote off the storm as a conspiracy.

Limbaugh did not respond to requests for comment about where he will be going.

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Why Are We Not Keeping Track Of The Dead From Hurricane Harvey?

Why Are We Not Keeping Track Of The Dead From Hurricane Harvey?

It is not surprising that as Hurricane Harvey has finally moved off the Atlantic coast and is over, and the flood waters recede in the various places that it caused damage, it is unsurprising that reporting has moved onto the inside pages of papers and even seems on the verge of disappearing.  But somehow a piece of information that I would think is important, and that I have seen reported more substantially in past disasters, is the number who died as a result of the hurricane.  If one googles “dead from Hurricane Harvey,” one gets as the top hits reports from many days ago in which one learns that the number who died is in single digits.

As it is, by digging hard I have found that the number is much higher, but seems unclear, but is only barely being mentioned deep in stories on the event.  After digging hard, I found scattered reports within the last 12 hours.  The number dead are reported to be either 38, 40, 43, 45, 46, or 50.  Those searching through badly flooded buildings, now free from the water, are gradually discovering those who could not escape and drowned.  But somehow these numbers seem to be of little interest.  I remember previous disasters where a few died, and that number would be the big headline, and people would keep track.  But somehow, for reasons I do not understand, the number dead from this event somehow seems to be of little interest to the media, and perhaps even the public. Is this really true, and if so, why?

Somehow I doubt that it is because over 1,200 people have died this season in South Asia from floods as that piece of information has received even less media attention.

Barkley Rosser

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Sessions, Krugman, DACA and the Lump-of-Labor Fallacy

Now may be a good time to remind people that there can be bad arguments for good causes. There may even be good arguments for bad causes.
Sessions is wrong:

The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.

This is a lie. DACA has not “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans.” But it isn’t a lie because it assumes the amount of work to be done is fixed. To make that claim trivializes both the mendacity of the Trump administration and the gullibility of people who believe the lies that demagogues tell them. The alleged “fixed amount of work” has nothing to do with it.

To the extent there is economic illiteracy, the economics profession is the main culprit. Economists have shamelessly touted policies that enrich the rich and impoverish the poor and pooh-poohed egalitarian proposals like work-time reduction. For all too many of them, it’s their job. When those policies have exactly the effects they were designed to have, economists become puzzled about where all the inequality is coming from.

In simple terms, when things are not going well for people they tend to scapegoat vulnerable others. This is not “economic illiteracy.” It is scapegoating. Ironically, the economic illiteracy claim is itself a form of scapegoating. People stop listening to the experts because the experts have sold their credibility to the highest bidder. Instead of reflecting on why people don’t trust them any more, the experts blame it on economic illiteracy.


UPDATE: Here Paul Krugman makes good arguments in defense of DACA and avoids the fixed-amount-of-work straw man distraction. The Very Bad Economics of Killing DACA. Much better.

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Whats In the News . . .

Quite a few things going on requiring some type of commentary. Trump can certainly get people going in different directions away from him. It is important to recognize these issues without losing sight of what Trump has done in stealing an election. Just a few things I have noticed in the news.

DACA

“But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.” former President Barack Obama.

Some at Angry Bear fear immigrants and minorities citing commentary and statistics to support their beliefs of a threat to the nation, its economy, and citizenry. While there is a relatively small minority of immigrants who may pose such a threat, the majority of immigrants like many of our forefathers have done over the years assimilated into society.

Pack Your Bags

President Trump’s “Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States – including proactively seeking travel documentation – or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible,”

“As I’ve said before, we (President Trump) will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful democratic process,”

Such heart and compassion shown to a bunch of young adults and children. Maybe Trump will change his mind before some leave. I would not bet on it. If they did leave early, I am sure they would not be allowed back into the states resulting from Trump’s heart and compassion. Corpocracy at its finest . . .

Growing list of Departures

Javier Palomarez , the president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced his departure from Trump’s National Diversity Council.

“As a nation of immigrants, we have a moral responsibility to support and defend ‘Dreamers,’ who arrived to this country — at the average age of six — through no fault of their own,”

His departure comes after Trump rescinded DACA.

Javier joins a group of others who have left Trump’s committees due to the administration’s stance on DACA, Charlottesville comments, Paris Accords withdrawal, increased Uber charges, etc. Daniel Kammen climate Science Envoy for the State Department, the entire Arts and Humanities Panel, Elon Musk business and manufacturing advisory, Bob Igor business and manufacturing advisory, Travis Kalanick business and manufacturing advisory, Kenneth Frazier business and manufacturing advisory, Kevin Plank business and manufacturing advisory, Brian Krzanich business and manufacturing advisory advisory, Richard Trumka business and manufacturing advisory, Inge Thulin business and manufacturing advisory, Scott Paul business business and manufacturing advisory, and Denise Morrison on the business and manufacturing advisory committees also.

Gotta be getting pretty lonesome there in the WH.

Wiretapping

“The U.S. Justice Department said it had no evidence to support the unsubstantiated claim made in March by President Donald Trump that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.

There has never been any evidence to support Trump’s assertion on Twitter that “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” despite continued insistence from some conservative websites and commentators.

But in a court filing late on Friday, the Justice Department added itself to the list of entities debunking the allegation.”

Easy enough, President Trump lied and the DOJ under Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions quietly confirmed it.

Wardrobes

Melania versus Michelle cost of clothes. As the article says, “See how they measure up.”

Other Things

Not much being said about Mueller investigating the Russian Connection and Trump. People are getting out-of-town in Florida and other places due to category 5 hurricane Irma. North Korea has not blown anything up yet and Trump can not use them as a distraction or an excuse to blow them up.

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From the Onion to the Times of London… And Back Again to be added soon

Jô Soares, a well known Comedian turned political commentator (think Al Franken but not in the Senate) in Brazil, used to do a recurring skit about a former general who woke up from a coma. The rib was, the general had gone into the coma while the country was still ruled by a military junta. Anyway, the general would see stories in the news about former political prisoners turned into leading politicians, or former military personnel on trial, etc., and he’d demand to have his feeding tubes removed. To get the jokes, of course, you not only have to understand Portuguese but also have some understanding of Brazilian politics from about 1970 to the mid-1980s.

I believe this clip showed the first appearance of the character. (Sorry – I can’t find it in English.)

I am not sure whether to provide a trigger warning or not. The title of Soares’ show, at the time, translates as “Hurray for the Fat Guy.”

Anyway, for a moment I felt like Soares’ general. That moment came when I read this article in the Times of London, which of course is widely viewed as having a center-right orientation:

Edinburgh University is investigating a law student over claims that he mocked Islamic State on social media and put “minority students at risk and in a state of panic and fear”.

An official at the university who conducted a preliminary investigation allegedly accused the third-year law student of having committed a “hate crime” even though there has been no criminal investigation by the police.

The law student says that the complaint against him came in retaliation after he highlighted that a former leader of an ethnic minority student group at the university had referred to black men as “trash”.

Robbie Travers, 21, acknowledged that his social media comments were highly opinionated but he denied that they were racist or in any way incited violence.

The article continues:

One of his Facebook postings came after the US air force dropped a “massive ordnance air bomb” on an Isis stronghold in Afghanistan in April.

Mr Travers wrote: “Excellent news that the US administration and Trump ordered an accurate strike on an IS network of tunnels in Afghanistan.

“I’m glad we could bring these barbarians a step closer to collecting their 72 virgins.”

Esme Allman, a second-year history student and the former black and ethnic minority convenor of the university’s students’ association, filed a complaint to the university, saying: “Not only do I believe this behaviour to be in breach of the student code of conduct, but his decision to target the BME Liberation Group at the University of Edinburgh, and how he has chosen to do so, puts minority students at risk and in a state of panic and fear while attending the University of Edinburgh.”

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Trump Labor Policy

Trump Labor Policy  by Noam Scheiber via NYT:

In June, Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta announced the withdrawal of two prominent Obama administration guidances — documents that do not change the law but indicate how a department interprets it and can influence employers.

The first had clarified when a worker could be classified as an independent business operator as opposed to an employee, who is covered by protections like the minimum wage and overtime pay. The Obama approach suggested that many so-called gig-economy companies were improperly treating workers as independent contractors when in fact they were largely dependent on the companies for their livelihood.

The second guidance had laid out when a company could be considered a so-called joint employer — meaning that it shared responsibility for a worker alongside a contractor, staffing agency or franchisee — and could therefore be held liable for infractions those other companies committed.

The administration’s entrepreneurial ethos is also reflected in its posture toward another rule: the requirement that employers pay workers a time-and-a-half rate for overtime if their salary falls below a certain threshold.

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A New Type of Labor Law for a New Type of Worker

Via the New York Times, William E. Forbath and Brishen Rogers write an op ed for Labor Day:

A New Type of Labor Law for a New Type of Worker

Labor Day was born in the late 19th century, during a time of raw fear about the path of economic development. Opportunities for decent, middle-class livelihoods seemed to be shrinking, and the “laboring classes” confronted a grim future of what many called wage slavery. Conservatives held most of the seats of power, but reform-minded politicians, activists and policy mavens were thinking big about labor’s rights and wrongs.

We can’t hope to build a more equitable economy unless working people have strong organizations of their own. During and after the New Deal, unions were essential to forging a broad new middle class — not only because they raised wages and benefits, but also because they countered corporate and financial political power, which today is the greatest impediment to serious change. Without a rejuvenated labor movement, it’s almost inconceivable that breakthrough reforms will come to pass.

First, because it arose out of the struggles of factory workers with big corporate employers, our labor law encourages bargaining at the employer or work-site level. This made sense when most workers were in large factories. But today’s workplaces are much smaller, even if they are owned or controlled by big corporations… Second, our labor law holds businesses accountable only to the workers whom they “employ” in an old-fashioned, contractual sense. That too made sense in the industrial era, when leading companies had millions of employees. But today, janitors, Amazon delivery drivers and warehouse workers are often employed by subcontractors who have little real power over their livelihoods. And Uber and Lyft drivers are misclassified as independent contractors. As a result, these workers don’t have clear rights to bargain with the companies that actually set the rules.

A few simple but bold legal reforms would make a world of difference. First, Congress could pass laws to promote multi-employer bargaining, or even bargaining among all companies in an industry. If all hotel brands, all fast-food brands, all grocers or all local delivery companies bargained together, none would be placed at a competitive disadvantage as a result of unionization, which is often the main reason employers resist it so fiercely. Second, Congress could ensure that organized workers can bargain with the companies that actually profit from their work by expanding the legal definition of employment to cover more categories of workers.

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Warranted behaviors

Much of the coverage of this incident at a hospital in Utah write of ‘recent changes’ in the law concerning drawing blood, but that, as far as I can tell, was a year ago. Is that a recent change? Certainly not changed by an obscure agency or executive order.

Perhaps this kind of optic will help drive home the need for a less fear based police protocols, or even explaining why the need is there in this situation. It also appears to present distinct feelings of helplessness in many of the players, and with hospital staff knowing the culture of exacting HIPA rules.  Since it is emotions that often drive concern, is this a useful optic and in what way? It certainly impacted nurses that I know.

ABA Journal June 23, 2016

States may not prosecute suspected drunken drivers for refusing warrantless blood draws when they are arrested, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 7-1 opinion on Thursday that found such tests violate the Fourth Amendment.

The majority opinion (PDF) by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. held that states may, however, require a warrantless breath test incident to arrest because such tests are less intrusive. That portion of Alito’s opinion was joined by five other justices.

“We conclude that the Fourth Amendment permits warrantless breath tests incident to arrests for drunk driving,” Alito wrote. “The impact of breath tests on privacy is slight, and the need for [blood-alcohol concentration] testing is great. We reach a different conclusion with respect to blood tests. Blood tests are significantly more intrusive, and their reasonableness must be judged in light of the availa­bility of the less invasive alternative of a breath test.”

(Dan here…the video is below the fold)

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So what now, America?

by David Zetland (originally published at Aguanomics)

So what now, America?

I was going to call this post “I told you so, America,” but I want to change people’s perspectives and motivate action more than be right.

First of all, let’s all agree that the flood damages to Houston were worse due to poor planning that paved wetlands and allowed the city to sprawl into flood plains.

Second, subsidized flood insurance (or the lack of a requirement for insurance) means that many people fail to consider the risk of flooding when choosing where to live. (Me complaining about this 10 years ago, an update 5 years ago, and my student this year.)

Third, climate change means that many models and assumptions are wrong. Houston has experienced three “500-year storms” in the past 40 years, and the number of storms is increasing, worldwide:

 


Fourth, people and cities around the world are going to experience greater damages as climate change (emphasis on change) raises sea levels, redirects ocean currents and increases storm strength. Greater threats to weaker populations (Bangladesh just flooded) will result in economic loss, political instability, forced migration and many other impacts that will spill over to countries that are not immediately affected by climate.

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Flood damage in Houston costs whom?

Via New York Times comes this information on flood insurance, which I believe is the predominate cause of storm damage in the Houston area and beyond:

Private homeowners’ policies generally cover wind damage and, in certain cases, water damage from storm surges. But for almost half a century, all other homeowners’ flood coverage has been underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal program that itself faces financial uncertainty.

Flooding has dealt the hurricane’s biggest blow. And in areas where it is prudent — or even obligatory — to buy it, having flood coverage is the exception rather than the norm.

People without coverage will have to apply for grants or low-cost loans from other branches of the federal government, said Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute. That means delays in receiving funds, if such requests are even approved.

The National Flood Insurance Program was created in 1968, after most private insurance companies stopped writing homeowners’ flood coverage because they could not charge premiums high enough to cover the potentially catastrophic costs. (In addition to wind and limited storm-surge damage, private insurers cover vehicles caught in flooding.)

The 49-year-old program is now run by FEMA. Its coverage has caps: $250,000 for a house and $100,000 for its contents, and $500,000 apiece for a business building and its contents. Larger companies can still buy flood coverage through commercial insurers.

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