Smoking Marijuana Triples Risk Of High Blood Pressure Death, Study Say

CBS Local — A new study is warning that people who smoke marijuana have three times the risk of dying from high blood pressure than those who don’t use the drug. Scientists, publishing their findings in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, added that the risk of dying from hypertension grew with each year of smoking marijuana.

The study revealed that of the 1,200 people tested, those who smoked pot were 3.4 times more likely to die from hypertension. The risk of suffering a fatal blood pressure condition also went up by 1.04 times for each year the person had smoked the substance. The study did not find a link between marijuana use and dying from heart diseases or strokes.

 

Who Benefits from the Russian Hacking Story? Centrist Democrats.

Compelling new evidence suggests that there was no hack of DNC servers (by Russia or by anyone else), but rather someone inside the DNC copied a mass of data onto a thumb drive. This explanation is supported by metadata showing that the transfer rate of the “hacked” data was on the order of 23 megabytes/second (twice the average rate of ISP servers in 2016, but a typical rate for transfer to a thumb drive). There’s more evidence in the article below.

I have no doubt that Putin and Russian hackers are capable and guilty of many scurrilous acts, and that Trump has many suspicious connections with Russian oligarchs and mob figures, but this particular story has smelled rotten from the beginning. Cui bono? Who benefits from the idea of Russians messing with our election? Primarily the centrist Democrats who want a good explanation for why they lost, and who want to do anything rather than examine their own shortcomings and the need to reform the party from the bottom up.

” … the highest average ISP speeds of first-half 2016 were achieved by Xfinity and Cox Communications. These speeds averaged 15.6 megabytes per second and 14.7 megabytes per second, respectively. Peak speeds at higher rates were recorded intermittently but still did not reach the required 22.7 megabytes per second.

“A speed of 22.7 megabytes is simply unobtainable, especially if we are talking about a transoceanic data transfer,” Folden said. “Based on the data we now have, what we’ve been calling a hack is impossible.” Last week Forensicator reported on a speed test he conducted more recently. It tightens the case considerably. “Transfer rates of 23 MB/s (Mega Bytes per second) are not just highly unlikely, but effectively impossible to accomplish when communicating over the Internet at any significant distance,” he wrote. “Further, local copy speeds are measured, demonstrating that 23 MB/s is a typical transfer rate when using a USB–2 flash device (thumb drive).”

“Time stamps in the metadata provide further evidence of what happened on July 5. The stamps recording the download indicate that it occurred in the Eastern Daylight Time Zone at approximately 6:45 pm. This confirms that the person entering the DNC system was working somewhere on the East Coast of the United States. In theory the operation could have been conducted from Bangor or Miami or anywhere in between—but not Russia, Romania, or anywhere else outside the EDT zone. Combined with Forensicator’s findings on the transfer rate, the time stamps constitute more evidence that the download was conducted locally, since delivery overheads—conversion of data into packets, addressing, sequencing times, error checks, and the like—degrade all data transfers conducted via the Internet, more or less according to the distance involved.”

Read the full article here:
“A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack: Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system”

“Being rich wrecks your soul. We used to know that”

“With a billionaire real estate tycoon occupying America’s highest office, the effects of riches upon the soul are a reasonable concern for all of us little guys. After all, one incredibly wealthy soul currently holds our country in his hands. According to an apocryphal exchange between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, the only difference between the rich and the rest of us is that they have more money. But is that the only difference?

“We didn’t used to think so. We used to think that having vast sums of money was bad and in particular bad for you — that it harmed your character, warping your behavior and corrupting your soul. We thought the rich were different, and different for the worse.

“Today, however, we seem less confident of this. We seem to view wealth as simply good or neutral, and chalk up the failures of individual wealthy people to their own personal flaws, not their riches. Those who are rich, we seem to think, are not in any more moral danger than the rest of us. Compare how old movies preached the folk wisdom of wealth’s morally calamitous effects to how contemporary movies portray wealth: For example, the villainous Mr. Potter from “It’s A Wonderful Life” to the heroic Tony Stark (that is, Iron Man) in the Avengers films.”

Read the full article by  Charles Mathewes and Evan Sandsmark in the Washington Post here.

About the authors:

“Charles Mathewes is the Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, where he teaches courses on religion, politics, and ethics.”

“Evan Sandsmark is a PhD student in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.”

 

Help Fiber Come to Your Neighborhood By Taking A Simple Survey

By Don Pelton

If you are interested in Spiral Internet’s fiber deployment and — like me — you are in the “Comcast Challenged” zone, take the following survey:

https://spiral.servicezones.net/ServiceAreaA/ComcastChallenged

In this zone, Comcast claims that residents are already well served by them, so the Calif Public Utilities Commission has made this zone off limits for Spiral’s fiber service.

However, if enough of us take the survey and explain our need for better service, it may turn the CPUC around and help us get fiber

If you are unsure whether you are in this zone, click on the above link to see the map.

Yubanet to Livestream NID Board Meeting Wed 3/21/17 9 AM

From Yubanet today:

“GRASS VALLEY, Calif. March 22, 2017 – Live streaming of the NID Board of Directors meeting starting at 9:00 am on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

“YubaNet will livestream the meeting for NID constituents who cannot attend the meeting since the Board of Directors declined to make video or live broadcast available.

“Many thanks to AJA Video Systems for their assistance with the technology.”

HERE’S THE LIVESTREAM LINK:

 

 

Doug LaMalfa Listens Politely to Nevada County

I notice that quite a few people did what we did: we watched Yubanet’s video while listening to KVMR’s audio stream, because the rough acoustics in the auditorium created a lot of distortion in Yubanet’s mic. I’m happy that Yubanet managed to do video coverage at all. This bodes well for the future. If they’d had a mic at the podium, it would have been very workable. Maybe they can now get into the NID board meetings with their video setup?

Overall, I was impressed with the degree of civility in the meeting, and I was also impressed with how well the progressive forces in our community had organized. This also bodes well for the future.

Questions and comments about Obamacare and Trumpcare seemed to be the dominant concern of the crowd. LaMalfa insists that Obamacare is “falling apart,” which is certainly not true. Such problems as it has could be solved by a single payer system, such as Medicare For All, an idea oft repeated by commenters yesterday.

LaMalfa pretty much hewed to the GOP party line. Very few surprises there. I suspect that he’s very comfortable in Washington, even though he shouldn’t be.

Speaking of which, check out Robert Reich’s latest post on the turmoil in DC (from his Facebook post):

I’ve spent much of this week in Washington – talking with friends
still in government, former colleagues, high-ranking Democrats, a few
Republican pundits, and some members of Congress from both sides of
the aisle. It was my first visit to our nation’s capital since Trump
became president.

My verdict:

Washington is more divided, angry, bewildered, and fearful – than I’ve
ever seen it.

The angry divisions aren’t just Democrats versus Republicans. Rancor
is also exploding inside the Republican Party.

Republicans (and their patrons in big business) no longer believe
Trump will give them cover to do what they want to do. They’re
becoming afraid Trump is genuinely nuts, and he’ll pull the party down
with him.

Many Republicans are also angry at Paul Ryan, whose replacement bill
for Obamacare is considered by almost everyone on Capitol Hill to be
incredibly dumb.

I didn’t talk with anyone inside the White House, but several who have
had dealings with it called it a cesspool of intrigue and fear.
Apparently everyone working there hates and distrusts everyone else.

The Washington foreign policy establishment – both Republican and
Democrat – is deeply worried about what’s happening to American
foreign policy, and the worldwide perception of America being loony
and rudderless. They think Trump is legitimizing far-right movements
around the world.

Long-time civil servants are getting ready to bail. If they’re close
to retirement they’re already halfway out the door. Many in their 30s
and 40s are in panic mode.

Republican pundits think Bannon is even more unhinged than Trump,
seeking to destroy democracy as we’ve known it.

Despite all this, no one I talked with thought a Trump impeachment
likely, at least not any time soon — unless there’s a smoking gun
showing Trump’s involvement in Russia’s intrusion into the election.

Many people asked, bewilderedly, “how did this [Trump] happen?” When Isuggest it had a lot to do with the 35-year-long decline of incomes of
the bottom 60 percent; the growing sense, ever since the Wall Street
bailout, that the game is rigged; and the utter failure of both
Republicans and Democrats to reverse these trends – they gave me blank
stares.

Making America Mediocre Again

As conditions in the U.S. deteriorate, the world will continue to suffer the consequences of U.S. military force — but without the mitigating influences of U.S. foreign aid and diplomacy.
 

The first signs of decline are physical. Citizens don’t grow as tall. They don’t live as long. They start killing each other in large numbers.

Sounds like the post-mortem for a society that disappeared long ago, a conclusion that archaeologists deliver after sifting through bone fragments and pottery shards. Why, the puzzled scholars ask, did such a vibrant society, which produced beautiful art and remarkable scientific advances, fall apart so rapidly and leave so little behind in the unforgiving rainforest?

This time, however, the diagnosis is being provided in real time. And the society in decline is the most powerful country in the world.

According to the most recent global health surveys, the United States is witnessing a decline in life expectancy for the first time in nearly a quarter century. America is also the first high-income country to see its adults, on average, no longer growing taller. Writes Lenny Bernstein in The Washington Post:

The reasons for the United States’ lag are well known. It has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any of the countries in the study, and the highest obesity rate. It is the only one without universal health insurance coverage and has the “largest share of unmet health-care needs due to financial costs,” the researchers wrote.

I’d like to pin this one on Donald Trump. But U.S. decline has been ongoing for some time.

For instance, the United States ranked 16th in the 2014 Social Progress Index developed by Michael Porter at the Harvard Business School. Two years later, the United States slipped to 19th place, with particularly mediocre scores in environmental quality (#36), nutrition and basic medical care (#37), and access to basic knowledge (#40).

Let’s compare that to Canada, which sat near the top of the rankings at number two in the SPI. Canada was a little better on environmental quality (#32), quite a bit better on basic medical care (#26), and a whole lot better on access to basic knowledge (#2).

Even though Trump can’t be blamed for these mediocre social indicators, his party’s steadfast opposition to spending on social welfare and the environment certainly contributed to the problem. And Trump’s promise to “replace” Obamacare, cut social spending even further, and roll back regulatory oversight — all while boosting the Pentagon budget by an extraordinary 10 percent — will send the United States into free fall. The violent crime rate, which dropped nearly in half over the last 20 years despite what Trump claims, may well start to edge up as our pro-gun president makes firearms even more widely available and the economy takes a turn for the worse.

After what Donald Trump does to the United States, Americans won’t be able to stand tall and proud. That’s because we’ll either be short, sick, or dead.

What Goes Up…

Predictions of the eclipse of American power have been around since Donald Trump was a 30-something playboy.

It’s not just the overall health of the population and the toxicity of the environment. The United States has been hobbled by an enormous federal debt, an overextended global military presence, our failing infrastructure, and a paralyzed political system. It’s no wonder that so many Americans were sufficiently fed up in November to vote for anyone who promised to shake up the status quo.

Many Trump supporters are already having second thoughts after witnessing their leader’s first weeks in office. The new administration has given every indication that it’s exchanging the status quo for something incomparably worse.

Much of the problem lies with Trump himself. He has been erratic, often incoherent, and so disconnected from reality that he might be the first president to tweet himself out of office (if the investigation into his campaign’s connections to Moscow doesn’t get him first).

Say what you will about the early Roman emperors, they at least knew something about governance. Then, in the 1st century AD, the imperial stock started to run thin and the empire ran into serious trouble under the deranged progeny of Augustus. Donald Trump is the Caligula of our times: lascivious, incurious, and power-drunk. At what point will our American Caligula, running out of willing and even marginally suitable candidates, try to appoint a horse to his cabinet?

It’s bad enough from a domestic standpoint to have a laughing-stock for a president. The international implications are even worse. As Patrick Cockburn writes in The Independent, “It will be difficult for the U.S. to remain a super-power under a leader who is an international figure of fun and is often visibly detached from reality. His battle cry of ‘Fake News’ simply means an inability to cope with criticism or accept facts or views that contradict his own. World leaders who have met him say they are astonished by his ignorance of events at home and abroad.”

It’s no surprise that other countries are rushing to take advantage of the Trump administration’s early missteps. “It’s not just that Trump seems to have abandoned the larger geopolitical playing field to America’s principal rivals,” writes analyst Michael Klare. “He appears to be doing everything in his power to facilitate their advance at the expense of the United States. In just the first few weeks of his presidency, he has already taken numerous steps that have put the wind in both China’s and Russia’s sails, while leaving the U.S. adrift.”

China sees an enormous opportunity to cast itself as the responsible global leader on trade and climate change. Russia is angling for more influence in its near abroad, the eastern parts of Europe, and the Middle East. Germany and the European Union more generally have sought to replace the United States as a moral leader on diplomacy, human rights, and intercultural engagement.

It’s as if the empire has already fallen apart and the rivals are carving up the corpse. Except that it’s not territory that they’re grabbing, but chunks of America’s political and economic capital.

Those who believe that the United States has had only a malign influence on the world will cheer this downgrade in status. But so far only America’s soft power has taken a hit. The Pentagon remains on the ascendant. The world will continue to suffer the consequences of U.S. military force but without the mitigating influences of U.S. foreign aid and diplomacy.

What about the Stock Market?

So, if everything is doom and gloom, why is the stock market so bullish right now?

The S & P 500 rose to record highs this week. So did the Dow Jones industrial average, establishing the longest stretch of gains in 30 years. Naturally, Trump has claimed credit for all this even as he has complained of inheriting “a mess” from Barack Obama. Kellyanne Conway rushed to judgment as well, attributing the market expansion to “the Trump effect.”

The stock market responds to short-term trends and signals, and it’s focused largely on the health of the business sector. Trump has promised tax cuts, a helping hand to military contractors and energy companies, and a big infrastructure development plan. What’s not to like if you’re a CEO or a large corporation?

But beware irrational exuberance. Much of what Trump is doing is setting up Wall Street for a very unpleasant fall. The administration’s trade policies, particularly with Mexico, will hit producers hard. The infrastructure bill may not come until 2018. The impact of simultaneously adding $54 billion to the Pentagon budget and cutting taxes will throw the economy seriously out of whack.

Ultimately, however, the health of Wall Street is not the issue — it’s the health of Main Street that matters most. When the Obama dividend runs out and economic indicators start to turn south, when the coal mines and steel plants fail to magically return to their glory days of the 1950s, when farmers and blue-collar workers see how much their livelihoods depend on good relations with the world beyond U.S. borders, Trump will have a full-blown revolt on his hands. Then we’ll finally understand the real reason for the boost in Pentagon spending.

Martial law, anyone?


John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus and the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands.

The Massive Clearcutting Above Lake Oroville Can’t Help

By Don Pelton

After sending a few friends a link to a good SacBee article today about the stressed reservoirs in the Feather River watershed above Lake Oroville, one of my friends called my attention to the extensive clearcutting in lands surrounding some of Lake Oroville’s feeder streams up to the southeast of Lake Oroville, all visible in Google Earth (see snapshot below).

Here’s the very informative SacBee article:

Reservoirs feeding Lake Oroville are filled to brim as more rain rolls in

And here’s a snapshot I took a few minutes ago, using Google Earth, showing some of these same areas of the watershed to the east of Lake Oroville, including feeder streams into the Lake.

Clearcutting prevents sequestration of the rainwater and accelerates the runoff, carrying precious soil with it. All of which adds to the already considerable burden on Lake Oroville.

In this snapshot, the light-colored speckled patches upstream from Lake Oroville (clearcut areas) are conspicuous:

Massive_Clearcutting_Above_Lake_Oroville

 

State Was Warned in 2005 About Inadequacy of Emergency Spillway

Oroville_Dam_SpillwayFrom the OrovilleMR:

“More than a decade ago, federal and state officials and some of California’s largest water agencies rejected concerns that Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway — at risk of collapse Sunday night and prompting the evacuation of 130,000 people — could erode during heavy winter rains and cause a catastrophe.

“Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

“The groups filed the motion with FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They said that the dam, built and owned by the state of California, and finished in 1968, did not meet modern safety standards because in the event of extreme rain and flooding, fast-rising water would overwhelm the main concrete spillway, then flow down the emergency spillway, and that could cause heavy erosion that would create flooding for communities downstream, but also could cause a failure, known as “loss of crest control.”

Read the full article here.

Steve Bannon Boasts He is a “Leninist” Who Wants to Destroy Government

I was frightened enough when — like a lot of people — I realized that Steve Bannon is actually the President.
Finding out that he also proudly calls himself a “Leninist” doesn’t help at all. Here’s a report by Ronald Radosh of TheDailyBeast:

“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed.

Shocked, I asked him what he meant.

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.

Read the full article here:

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