Sunday, July 23, 2017

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Saturday, July 22, 2017



Thanks to little green footballs.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Berkeley's KPFA: Snowflakes on the left


Shocking that KPFA's stupidity happens in Berkeley, the birthplace of The Free Speech Movement.

From the Friendly Atheist:

Richard Dawkins Canceled Due To His “Abusive,” “Hurtful” Words
Hemant Mehta
July 21, 2017

Richard Dawkins has a new collection of essays coming out next month in a book called Science in the Soul. Naturally, he’ll be visiting the U.S. on a book tour.

One of the stops was going to be in Berkeley, California on August 9. It was sponsored by KPFA, a progressive radio station in the area, in a city known for being the hotbed of liberal activism.

But that talk has now been canceled.

While that website doesn’t offer any reason for the cancellation, Jerry Coyne notes that people who had bought tickets received a more detailed email with this explanation:

We regret to inform you that KPFA has canceled our event with Richard Dawkins. We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt — in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people.

KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier. We also apologize to all those inconvenienced by this cancellation. Your ticket purchases will automatically be refunded by Brown Paper Tickets.

The world’s most famous atheist criticized Islam and upset people, so he can’t give a talk about science?

...Which tweets about Islam were the people at KPFA so offended by? We never find out. They don’t say. But remember that people at Berkeley (the school) once rescinded an invitation to Bill Maher to deliver a commencement address for the same reason — before eventually reversing course. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was going to get an honorary degree from Brandeis University until she, too, was accused of anti-Muslim bigotry. (Yep, a victim of female genital mutilation and an advocate for the reformation of Islam was considered an anti-Muslim bigot. Makes you wonder which version of Islam is acceptable to these critics.)

So much for free speech in Berkeley. If Dawkins is too bigoted for their tastes, the list of people who are allowed to discuss controversial topics must be incredibly thin.

And remember: All this is over a book talk about the beauty of science. That means speakers are being invited and canceled over issues they’re not even talking about.

It would’ve been far better for KPFA to let Dawkins speak — and hear what he has to say — before condemning him in advance for vague reasons and not allowing ticket buyers the opportunity to make up their own minds about it.

Since Dawkins’ travel schedule has likely already been planned out, I’ve reached out to his team to find out if he’ll plan another event in Berkeley on that same date.

On a side note, a couple of days after the Dawkins event was supposed to take place, KPFA is sponsoring a speaker who will talk about how to “access the mind through the body, and the body through the mind for creativity, resilience and self-healing.” Pseudoscience is acceptable to them. But criticism of irrational religious ideas is apparently too mean.

They’re also sponsoring a talk by the legendary black comedian Dick Gregory, who is known for challenging accepted beliefs, pushing boundaries, and making people uncomfortable. I hope someone asks him for his thoughts on de-platforming controversial speakers.

Update: The Center for Inquiry has issued a statement calling the de-platforming “baseless” and “unconscionable”:

“Richard Dawkins is one of the greatest intellects of our time, with a wealth of wisdom and insight that he looked forward to sharing with his Berkeley audience,” said Robyn Blumner, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “For KPFA to suddenly break its commitment to Richard and the hundreds of people who were so looking forward to seeing and hearing him is unconscionable, and the baseless accusation that Richard has engaged in ‘abusive speech’ is a betrayal of the values KPFA has, until now, been known for.”

“The idea that I have engaged in abusive speech against Islam is preposterous, which even the most rudimentary fact-checking by KPFA would have made clear,” said Prof. Dawkins. “I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims — particularly Muslim women — are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so.”

Last year, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science merged with the Center for Inquiry, and Prof. Dawkins joined the CFI board of directors.

“In its forty-one-year history, the Center for Inquiry has fought proudly for human and civil rights, and Richard Dawkins is an invaluable ally for our cause.” said Blumner. “We (including Richard Dawkins himself) strongly opposed President Trump’s misguided and discriminatory Muslim ban. We have been at the forefront of the major civil justice causes of our time, and we have devoted ourselves to countering the outmoded, dogmatic prejudices and misinformation aimed at marginalized groups. It is one of the many reasons why we were proud to be the sole secularist organization invited to join the Know Your Neighbor interfaith coalition, launched in 2015 at the White House.”

“We understand the difference between a people and the beliefs they may hold,” said Blumner, “All of us must be free to debate and criticize Ideas, and harmful ideas must be exposed. It is incredibly disappointing that KPFA does not understand this.”

Rob's comment:
The only objection I have to Mr. Hemant's article is his use of the term "de-platforming." Let's call KPFA's action by the right name: censorship.

See also Richard Dawkins: We are being betrayed by the "nice" people and in Berkeleyside: KPFA cancels Richard Dawkins’ speech because of his tweets about Islam

Later: The Berkeleyside article has had more than 250 comments. Good to see free speech is still alive in Berkeley!

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Thursday, July 20, 2017


This video shows what will happen if Trump's pal invades the Baltic countries.

Thanks to Balloon Juice.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Examiner and the city's "war on cars"

Good to see Examiner columnist Sally Stephens acknowledging City Hall's anti-car policies in a column earlier this month (SF residents are the only casualties in ‘war on cars’):

San Francisco is a transit-first city. Those of us who live here are told we should use Muni to get around. Or ride a bike. Or walk. But above all else, we should not drive our cars. To reinforce this, city policy makes it easy to remove existing parking spaces — turning curbside parking spots into parklets — and explicitly prevents new developments from providing a parking space for every unit built. Some have called this a “war on cars.”

The city has defined "transit first" so that it includes bicycles---and any other "improvement" it wants to make to city streets.

Stephens points out that City Hall is just beginning to study the significant traffic impact of Uber and Lyft:

There’s no war on cars in San Francisco if the cars are being driven for profit. Those are welcome here — even if the drivers don’t live here, don’t pay taxes here and, often, don’t even know how to get from one place to another in The City. No, the war on cars is aimed at San Francisco residents. A recent report released by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority showed that cars from ride-hail companies Uber and Lyft make more than 170,000 trips — driving more than half a million miles — within The City every weekday. Nearly 6,000 ride-hail cars clog the streets during peak commute hours.

In spite of the increased congestion, San Francisco residents actually own more cars than ever. They are surely victims of the city's anti-car policy that's redesigning city streets to discourage driving, particularly if they don't have a parking garage and have to rely on street parking even when they're at home.

The head of the SFCTA, by the way, has spent a good part of her career pushing congestion pricing, a plan to charge everyone a fee when they drive downtown in San Francisco. 

Stephens doesn't mention it, but an important part of the anti-car policy is on behalf of the small city minority of cyclists, taking away street parking and traffic lanes on busy streets to make bike lanes. Insult to injury, the city preys on everyone who drives in the city as an important source of income.

Stephens is the first Examiner columnist to discuss the anti-car issue since days of yore when Ken Garcia was writing for the paper.

The Examiner joined the groupthink anti-car consensus five years ago after the Examiner merged with the Bay Guardian and the SF Weekly. Since then this Examiner editorial on Polk Street is typical of the paper's support for anti-carism.

And, like the Chronicle, the now-defunct Bay Guardian, and the SF Weekly, the Examiner has never done a story on that UC study on cycling accidents that the city's media has been strenuously ignoring.

One more complaint: I've done almost 200 posts that are tagged "Examiner" since 2005. Along with its editorial shortcomings, the Examiner is negligent and irresponsible about access to its archives. Most of the links in those posts are no longer functional. Instead, you get this page:

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The left and Mumia Abu-Jamal

Image result for mumia abu-jamal pictures
Mumia Abu-Jamal

Criticizing the United States for both its domestic and foreign policies is a crucial function of the country's left, and I say that as a radical draft resister during the US attack on and invasion of Vietnam.

But it can be shocking when the left goes overboard, like Counterpunch's recent claim in a book review that the US is now "scapegoating" Russia:

The CIA is not only an unreliable source (e.g. weapons of mass destruction), Kovalik demonstrates that it is also a far greater threat to US democracy than Russia. The Russian hack story is a ruse to excuse Hillary Clinton’s electoral defeat, but even more it is a justification for an ever more aggressive US imperial project.

Steve Bannon couldn't have put it better!

And then there's the left's long embrace of cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal's bogus cause. San Francisco's "progressive" Board of Supervisors even passed a resolution in 2005 calling for a new trial for Abu-Jamal.


...Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal are just the latest in a long line of victims of a cultural genocide and a black oppression agenda that goes back 500 years, with no signs of stopping...Having spent 41 years and 34 years behind bars simply for resisting empire, Peltier and Mumia are perhaps our last living link between the dark past and equally dark future. Their stories, their geography, their art, their words, their ailing bodies, their eyes, today, serve as an atlas of the genocidal and racist white settler history of this country...

Abu-Jamal has been in jail since 1982 for murdering a cop, not "simply for resisting empire." Hard to see how the left in the US can expand its political influence when it peddles bullshit like that.

The ultra-left Truthout also continues to promote that delusional cause, even though it's clear Abu-Jamal was guilty of murdering Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner: see Do Black Lives Matter? The Historical Record Speaks for Itself, an excerpt from one of Mumia's books---published by City Lights! And Exclusive Interview: Mumia Abu-Jamal Speaks About Black Lives Matter and Police Violence.


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Poetry inspired by the Trump Administration

Image
Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand

Poetry by Dan Farber at Legal Planet:

A Man Named Paul Ryan
There once was a man named Paul Ryan,
For whom de-regulation was Zion,
Emissions limits he hated
Lest coal be frustrated,
And his lodestar was someone called Ayn.

The Man From Trump Tower
There once was a man from Trump Tower,
Who longed to have absolute power.
All budgets he’d slash
And the planet he’d trash
And the oceans with acid he’d sour.

A Man Called Scott Pruitt
There once was a man called Scott Pruitt
Who said, “Why, there’s nothing to it!
“You undo all the regs,
“Cut them off at the legs
And tell all the polluters, ‘go to it!’”

The Fellow Named Mitch
There once was a fellow named Mitch,
Whose campaign coffers grew rich,
His passion for coal
Had devoured his soul,
Leaving only a faint smell of pitch.

Trump Administration
There once was an Administration
Whose policies caused consternation.
To turn back the clock
And cause liberals shock
Were their highest goals for the nation.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Health care: The American people want what Congress had

Sen. John McCain
Senator McCain

In the New Yorker in January:

...For all its flaws, bumbled launch, and absence of Republican support, the A.C.A. has provided health insurance to some twenty million Americans who didn’t have it before. Republicans have been venomously eager to dismantle it ever since...

If it’s sometimes hard to understand what makes Republican legislators so angry, here is a theory: their fury may not stem from some ungraspable principle, or hatred of President Obama’s historic victory (or of Obama himself), but, rather, from something personal, and selfish. 

Under the A.C.A., members of Congress, and congressional staff, among other Capitol Hill employees, were no longer eligible for the F.E.H.B.P. In the chilly language of government directives, the Office of Personnel Management Web site said that “Section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act requires that Members of Congress and their official staff obtain coverage by health plans created under the Affordable Care Act or coverage offered via an Affordable Insurance Exchange.”

Ouch! In other words, the comfortable choices that were available for more than fifty years were suddenly transferred to the slightly murky passageways of Obamacare. And it follows that, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, members of Congress would be able to return to the federal plan that they, like millions of federal employees, were so fond of. Twenty million other Americans won’t.

A better idea, though, might be to find a path (it won’t be easy, but it’s certainly easier than anything else that might be effective and that hundreds of legislators could ever agree upon) to finally offer the beloved, and by most accounts well-administered, federal plan to the rest of the uninsured nation. We can almost hear America demanding, “We want what they’re having.” If Congress is serious about repealing, and replacing, the act, then that’s the sort of replacement that almost anyone could live with.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Humans: The lonely guys of the universe

July 2, 2017

Our ventures into outer space are technically awesome but often conceptually pathetic, with the are-we-all-alone? whine/question. Yes, practically speaking, we are alone, given the distances between planets and galaxies. Unless those UFO sightings reflect something real, in which case aliens are keeping their distance and just find our species of interest the same way we find a Melanesian cargo cult interesting.

The cover story in the July 2 NY Times Magazine (Greetings, E.T. Please Don't Murder Us) about contacting other species in the cosmos got some interesting feedback in today's Times:

We are not convinced of global warming, despite the evidence that it is true. Darwin’s views on evolution are, in the main, fact, regardless of the refinement of the details; and prejudice within our species is nearly genocidal with its impact. We are not eligible as a species or a civilization to make decisions about possible extinction events or issues. 

We need to shut up and get our social, political and scientific houses in order before trying to invite unknown aliens to ‘‘Come on down, y’all.’’ We might end up on the menu or in slave quarters. 

And religious concerns should not even be on the table for any form of consideration because there is not any factual evidence to support any tenet of any religion: They must be taken on faith, and you must believe, despite what the facts may belie concerning those beliefs. 

The whole METI thing needs to be decided based on facts, of which we have damned few, and taking a ‘‘Wouldn’t it be nice if. . .” is hardly a tactic designed to ensure our survival as a species. 

Jay Brown
Seminole, Fla.

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Post Christian

Barna

Like Hemant Mehta, I got a perfect score on the criteria below that Barna used to determine the above. People in a city/area must meet 9 of the 16 criteria. 

I bet Mehta would agree that for him the qualifying phrases---"in the last week, "in the last 6 months," etc.---could also be changed to "never" for all the criteria, though I once took a Bible as Literature course at San Diego State (the King James version scores high as literature). And in the 1980s I went to a couple of Buddhist meditation retreats organized by the Insight Meditation Society that I found interesting and helpful:

Do not believe in God

Identify as atheist or agnostic

Disagree that faith is important in their lives

Have not prayed to God (in the last week)

Have never made a commitment to Jesus

Disagree the Bible is accurate

Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)

Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)

Agree that Jesus committed sins

Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”

Have not read the Bible (in the last week)

Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)

Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)

Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)

Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)

Not Born Again

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Berkeley pedestrians take the high ground

Distracted walking
Technobuffalo

Michael Lewis on Berkeley pedestrians (Greece Saunters Across the Autobahn):

A few years ago, the Berkeley Police Department applied for and received a grant from the state of California to improve the behavior of local drivers. The grant came on the heels of data showing that Berkeley was perhaps the most dangerous city in the state in which to cross the street: The previous year more pedestrians had been struck by automobiles in Berkeley than in any of the 55 other comparably sized California cities.

But as anyone who lives here knows, the drivers aren't really the problem. Or rather, they aren't any more of a problem than they are any place else in California, and probably a lot less of one.

The Berkeley pedestrian, on the other hand, seems bent on his own destruction. In daylight hours you can find him sprinting from behind tall bushes into busy intersections, ear buds in place to ensure he remains oblivious to any danger; at night he dons dark clothing and slips, ninja-like, from shadows onto poorly lit streets. 

It's California law that a pedestrian, when he arrives at a crosswalk, must stop and make eye contact with any approaching driver: Hardly anyone here pays that law any attention. If the Berkeley pedestrian glances up at all, it's to glare at any driver moving slowly enough to notice his sudden, almost magical appearance in the middle of the road.

Behind that glare lies the source of the peculiar danger on Berkeley's streets. The Berkeley pedestrian is propelled not just by his desire to get from one place to another but also by his sense that he's doing it in a morally superior way. He believes---even if he might not quite put it this way---that it is the duty of all fossil-fuel consuming, global-warming promoting, morally inferior users of the road to suffer on his behalf. 

He's not suicidal. He doesn't want to be run over by a car. He simply wants to stress to you, and perhaps even himself, that he occupies the high ground. In doing so, he happens to increase the likelihood that he will wind up in the back of an ambulance...

Rob's comment:
See also Distracted Driving Blamed for Increase in Pedestrian Deaths, which, with its usual crude bias, Streetsblog describes as "Distracted driving is causing increase in pedestrian deaths, but National Law Review still finds a way to blame pedestrians."

As the article points out, "pedestrians are as distracted as drivers":

While much attention has been placed on distraction behind the wheel, researchers are finding that pedestrians themselves are often distracted as wheel, with their eyes glued to a device as they walk to their destinations. This may cause them to walk across the street when they do not have a crosswalk or traffic signal to protect them. Not being aware of their surroundings is becoming a contributing factor for many pedestrian injuries and fatalities...

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"Lie after lie after lie"



Mother Jones


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Friday, July 14, 2017

History: A nightmare from which we never awake


Good to see John Briscoe's op-ed in the Chronicle on the systematic killing of California's Indians (The moral case for renaming Hastings College of the Law):

In America’s ever-evolving relations with race, we ride a new wave of sensibility. A moment’s reflection reveals the extent that our streets, schools, buildings — even our nation’s capital — are named for slaveholders. Many more, no doubt, are named for “mere” racists.

A college at Yale no longer bears the name of John C. Calhoun, in response to increasingly vocal outrage that Calhoun owned slaves and, perhaps worse, was an ardent and eloquent proponent of slavery.

The University of San Francisco just renamed its Phelan Hall, originally named for a former San Francisco mayor who railed against Chinese immigrants and whose campaign slogan was “Keep California white.” The hall is now named for legendary football star and magnanimous public servant Burl Toler, an African American.

In this rising crest of new awareness, where, in relation to slavery and racism, might we place genocide?

Between the first European “contact” in 1542 and 1834, the native Californian population dropped from 350,000 to 150,000. The causes of the population collapse were European diseases, abuse at the hands of the Spanish and suicides. After 1834, however, when the native population plummeted from 150,000 to 18,000, the cause was different: Indian hunting was sport for the mostly white gold-seekers and settlers. Indian-hunting raids nearly annihilated the population and had the added benefit of ridding the state of those who might assert their land rights, rights guaranteed under international law.

Serranus Clinton Hastings was promoter and financier of Indian-hunting expeditions in the 1850s. Hastings later founded Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, now the oldest law school in the state, and a part of the University of California system.

Leland Stanford solicited volunteers for his Civil War-era army campaigns against California Indians and, as governor, signed into law appropriations bills to fund those killing expeditions. He later founded Stanford University in the name of his son, Leland Stanford Jr. Both Hastings and Stanford had made fortunes in real estate.

Their ability to acquire land titles was facilitated by the massacre of the rightful claimants, a near-extinction they promoted and funded. As UCLA professor Benjamin Madley wrote in his sobering “An American Genocide,” published in 2016 by none other than Yale University Press, both Stanford and Hastings had “helped to facilitate genocide.”

Our rising sensibility obliterates the names of those who sought to enslave or discriminate against a people. How ought we treat the names of those who sought to exterminate a people?

John Briscoe is a Distinguished Fellow of the Law of the Sea Institute at UC Berkeley School of Law and an adjunct professor at UC Hastings College of the Law.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Upper Market Street and the Bicycle Derangement Syndrome

Hey! Get out of our way!
Jim Swanson

Randal O'Toole:  "All you have to do is mention the words 'public transit' and progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how expensive and ridiculous your plans."

That's surely true about San Francisco progressives, e.g., the Central Subway and our bloated Municipal Transportation Agency with its billion dollar budget.

But O'Toole's words of wisdom can be adapted to cover a favorite progressive transportation "mode": "All you have to do is mention the word 'bicycle,' and San Francisco progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how ridiculous your plans."

I call it the Bicycle Derangement Syndrome (BDS).

The latest manifestation of this public policy neurosis is the mild panic in City Hall and at the Bicycle Coalition caused by David Pilpel's appeal before the Board of Supervisors of the city's Upper Market Street bicycle lanes.

Even if Pilpel had significant support from a single city organization, his appeal would have been rejected, because appeals are always rejected in our one-party city-state. Especially if the appeal involves CEQA issues, which Pilpel's did, along with the safety concerns raised by the SF Fire Department.

Pilpel thought he had the support of Supervisor Sheehy for a continuance on the hearing so he could work on preparing his appeal and maybe even get some people to show up in support at the hearing.

Streetsblog was worried, and the Bicycle Coalition, the most influential special interest group in the city, swung into action to squash Pilpel's thought crime:

Behind the scenes, we’ve learned that Supervisor Jeff Sheehy is waffling on whether to further delay already-approved bike lanes on Upper Market Street. Yes, those are the same protected bike lanes that were approved by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board on May 2 and were ready to be striped this month. They’re the same lanes that Sup. Sheehy publicly supported after receiving hundreds of emails from you. And now, they’re being threatened by indefinite delays.

There was never any real chance of "indefinite delays," which even the crackpots at the coalition surely understood. Sheehy did in fact receive hundreds of emails in response to the Bicycle Coalition's call. He quickly rolled over and dumped the idea of a continuance to discuss the CEQA issues:

Pilpel also contended that the Planning Department may have exempted the project from environmental review incorrectly, since the SFMTA changed aspects of the project after it was exempted from review. Supervisor Aaron Peskin told SFMTA staff, “I’m a little sensitive to not blowing it,” adding, “next time, if you’d just do it right.”

Umentioned in the Examiner story---by the Bicycle Coalition's favorite reporter---before his rebuke of the city representatives for their sloppy CEQA work, Peskin explained why he was "sensitive" about CEQA issues. He recalled the dark days of 2005/2006 when yours truly and some other folks busted the city in court for its gross violation of the most important environmental law in the state by unanimously passing the Bicycle Plan and starting to implement it with no environmental review.

Peskin was president of the Board of Supervisors at the time, and he ran with the progressive lemmings in the unanimous vote to reject our appeal.

The other day, even though he understood that the city's CEQA paperwork was crap, he again voted with the lemmings in the unanimous vote to crush Pilpel's appeal. 

Why not send a message to the city by voting in favor of the appeal, even if it meant being the only one to do so? That would have at least put Planning and the MTA on notice that they weren't going to get a free pass in the future. The answer: because in reality Peskin is also a political lemming whose reputation as a maverick was always bogus (see thisthis, and this). 

The message Peskin sent: Planning and the MTA will continue to get away with violating CEQA, especially on bicycle projects.

You would think Peskin would have learned his lesson when he ran with the lemmings years ago on the Central Subway fiasco, which he felt obligated to renounce when he ran for mayor in 2012.[Later: Wrong! Peskin didn't run for mayor in 2012]

As District 8 Supervisor, Jeff Sheehy is following in the lame tradition of his predecessors, Bevan Dufty and Scott Wiener. This district is now presumed to be a gay seat on the board, since all three District 8 supervisors have been gay. They haven't exactly been a credit to their sexual orientation.

There are also now six women on the Board of Supervisors. We are in a new era of San Francisco political history: gays, straights, men, women, whites, and people of color can all unite in stupidity and political cowardice.

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Repugs "will beat up on Hillary until the day she dies"

Michael Tomasky in the Daily Beast:

...Donald Trump’s fortunes will wax and wane, Sean Hannity’s ratings will go up and down, and the Republican Party will see good days and bad. But one thing will never change: They’ll beat up on Hillary until the day she dies. After, actually. They’ll decide she didn’t leave enough to charity. Or left too much. Whatever. It will always be something.

And in the press at least, outside of a few columnists, Clinton won’t have many defenders, because the fashionable thing is always to bash her, too. And of course, she and Bill have made their mistakes. Both Clintons were way too insensitive to the appearances of their actions, like how much money they were making. 

And as I’ve written many times, I think she decided to use a private server because she put her distrust of those out to get her (like Judicial Watch) ahead of her obligation to public transparency. It doesn’t matter that Colin Powell used a private server, too. The press loved Colin Powell. They didn’t love her... 

She was the target of the biggest coordinated campaign attack, stretching from the Kremlin to Julian Assange’s sitting room, in the history of American politics. She got zonked by Jim Comey 11 days before the election in a move that was totally without precedent in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

And both of these after a quarter-century smear campaign that alleged everything up to and including murder but that never actually proved---and I mean proved, not “proved”---to the satisfaction of millions of people who’d been worked into a state of rage against her over two decades---a single thing of importance that she did that was wrong or unethical. And still she got 3 million more votes.

Three emails marked classified on her server. Three. About things like talking points for a call with the president of Malawi. And two of those may have been marked in error. And that was her great crime? For that we have to live through this?

She’s the most royally screwed-over person in the history of American politics. She should be in the White House right now. And she’d have been good. Maybe not great. They wouldn’t allow that. We’d be having impeachment hearings underway already, I assure you, over far smaller matters than the things we know the Trump family has done. 

That would be rough, but I know this much: She wouldn’t be suddenly discovering that health care is complicated, she wouldn’t have her son-in-law on the White House staff and in charge of Middle East peace, and she wouldn’t be an international embarrassment. The free nations of the world wouldn’t be trying to find ways to work around the United States of America...


Matt Davies


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Golden Gate Bridge circa 1950

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017



...To think for a minute at the scarier end of the spectrum. If we do end up four or five degrees warmer, within a relatively short period of time — that’s the IPCC’s RCP8.5 scenario, by the end of the century, and that’s not counting some of these dramatic feedback mechanisms, what would that do to the planet, in your mind? 
I don’t think we’re going to get four or five degrees this century, because we get a cooling effect from the melting ice. But the biggest effect will be that melting ice. In my opinion that’s the big thing — sea-level rise. Because we have such a large fraction of people on coastlines — more than half of the large cities in the world are on coastlines. 

The economic implications of that, and the migrations and the social effects of migrations — the planet could become practically ungovernable, it seems to me. But if you’re really talking about four or five degrees, that means the tropics and the subtropics are going to be practically uninhabitable. It’s already becoming uncomfortable in the summers in the subtropics — you can’t work outdoors. And agriculture — more than half of the jobs are outdoors.

Food production seems a real worry.
Population is a problem. That’s why you want to have energy that’s needed for people to eliminate poverty, because countries that have become wealthy have the population under control. But if you do begin to lose major cities then the planet becomes ungovernable.

And what level of sea-level rise would precipitate that? What worries you?
Once sea levels go up significantly, you won’t have stable shorelines. Just parts of the city will go under water, but then it doesn’t make sense to continue to build there. So, I don’t know. By the time you get to even one-meter rise, you’re going to be losing more land. We argue in our paper “Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, and Superstorms,” which we published in 2016, that you could get multi-meter sea-level rise in 50 to 150 years...


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See also The NRA and American fascism and The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People.

Thanks to Salon.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mosul: Make a desert and call it peace

"They make a desert and call it peace."

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Judy Woodruff yesterday on PBS Newshour:

"As Republicans on Capitol Hill try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, we visit patients and health care providers at a free clinic in rural southwest Virginia---a region that strongly supported President Trump, in a state that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act---to listen to the extreme health care challenges they face and what they think should be done..."

See Virginia Is Broken.

Poor people in Virginia struggle getting health care, but they have no problem getting guns: Virginia earns bragging rights — as the best state for illegal gun trafficking.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Centers for Disease Control on bicycle safety

Carolyn Tyler

The Centers for Disease Control announces a new Spanish version of its Motor Vehicle Safety Website. I don't speak Spanish, so I click on the "Bicycle Safety" link on the English version and find this information:

Bicycle trips account for only 1% of all trips in the United States. However, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash related injury and deaths than occupants in motor vehicles.

How big is the problem?

In 2015 in the United States, over 1,000 bicyclists died and there were almost 467,000 bicycle-related injuries.

Data from 2010 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.

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Bikes in the suburbs


Richard Hall

Dick Spotswood in the Marin Independent Journal (After spending millions, will bike investment pay off?):

...Take the hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent pushing cycling as a practical means of commuting. I’m not referring to money spent encouraging recreational cycling or facilitating bike commuting in densely packed eastern San Francisco. I’m pointing to the now-under-construction Richmond-San Rafael Bridge bikeway folly and the preposterous idea of spending a half-billion in toll dollars extending bike lanes across the suspension portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

A prime Marin example is the new $13 million bike bridge across Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, by the Highway 101 interchange. Planners thought the span would be flooded by biking commuters gleefully forsaking their cars.

What we now mostly see is the occasional recreational cyclist or jogger. Nothing wrong with those folks, but the question remains, was the little-used bike bridge the best use of your taxes?

Professional transit planners are taught that automobiles are the enemy and that efforts to relieve traffic are counter-productive. They believe public transit is the answer, but lack the huge resources needed to make meaningful rail, bus or ferry expansions. They resolved this dilemma by devising a theoretical solution: bike commuting...

Not unexpectedly, when implemented in suburban and quasi-rural areas, those commuting to work by bike fail to achieve planners’ over-optimistic expectations. It proves Rentschler correct; it’s hard for planners to predict what they don’t want to happen.


Rob's comment:
Spotswood refers to "bike commuting in densely packed eastern San Francisco." But bike lanes here in SF are about the limited space on city streets, not about money. San Francisco can find the money to do whatever transportation folly it chooses (e.g., the Central Subway), especially with Democrats like Nancy Pelosi ready to provide federal money for city projects---and I say that as a Democrat. 

The real issue here is the limited space on city streets. To create protected bike lanes, the city has to remove limited street parking and traffic lanes on busy streets. This benefits the 4% of the population that ride bikes to work while making traffic worse for everyone else who uses city streets.

Instead, the city uses lies about safety to justify bike lanes: Polk and Masonic: Not so dangerous after all.

With its usual crude bias, SF Streetsblog links Spotswood's column: Commentary: Nobody Really Commutes by Bike.

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