Saturday Report 6/2/22 - Can a Flu Shot Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by 40%?
The Best of the Rest of the News
— This weekend we celebrate the Founding generation successfully fighting a Revolutionary War against what several identified as the rich, theocrats, and warlord kings. Now all three are fighting back, trying to reverse the American Revolution, as the morbidly rich corrupt business and our politics, theocrats take over our courts and schools, and the war industry has virtually total control of Congress. These are, as Thomas Paine famously wrote, “the times that try men’s souls.” Will America again rise to the battle and fight back against those who work to destroy democracy, or will the American Way fail and our country devolve into oligarchy and dictatorship like Hungary and Russia? Stay tuned…
— Polling shows that Trump beats all comers, including DeSantis, in a Republican primary as speculation swirls that he may announce a 2024 run for president this 4th of July weekend. As the January 6th revelations chip away at Republican and independent support for Trump, the professional con man is realizing that if he doesn’t announce his 2024 run soon he may end up on the outside looking in. On the other hand, the longer he can avoid formally announcing his candidacy the longer he can raise millions of dollars and put them into his own pocket with no Federal Election Commission oversight: so far he’s raised over a half-billion just since January 6th of last year. Trump’s facing a hard decision: his fundraising efforts are slowing rapidly in the wake of the January 6th committee’s discoveries, yet it’s the most profitable grift he’s ever come across in his long lifetime of grifting. Choices, choices, choices…
— This Supreme Court is committed to remaking America in the vision of the rightwing billionaires who paid for it. In just one term it’s ended women’s right to bodily autonomy; First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights to privacy; Fifth and Sixth Amendment Miranda rights; States’ rights to freedom from gun violence; children’s First Amendment rights to not be coerced into state-sponsored prayer; and all of our collective right to live on a habitable planet. While their decision to okay state-forced pregnancy gets most of the attention, the real goal of the fossil fuel billionaires who paid to get five of the six Republicans on the Court was to end EPA regulation of their industry, which the Court did with enthusiasm. Barrett’s father worked for an oil company for decades; Gorsuch’s mother ran the EPA for Reagan and had to resign in disgrace after she’d so badly gutted and mismanaged it that it was a national disgrace. Neither recused themselves, and neither did Roberts, Kavanaugh, or Alito who were all put on the court with fossil-fuel billionaire money. What can be done? First, Congress must impose a code of judicial ethics on the Supreme Court that’s simply identical to the one every other federal judge must abide by. Second, Congress needs to pass legislation establishing the right to privacy and bodily autonomy at the core of the Roe decision, thus protecting gay marriage, contraception, and preventing states from criminalizing gay sex. Third, Congress should expand the Court: when Congress expanded it to 9 justices there were 9 circuit courts (each justice used to oversee one of those courts) but now there are 13. The Court should grow to 13 members, and each should be term-limited to 18 years, which would force the retirement of Clarence Thomas, the most corrupt member of the court in a century. Call your two senators and your member of the House and let them know: the number is 202-224-3121. This fall, the Court is preparing to give Republican state legislatures the power to overrule voters in presidential elections; with 2024 on the horizon, time is of the essence.
— Texas educators are stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place when it comes to teaching the history of slavery in that state. To solve the problem, a panel recently considered renaming “slavery” in textbooks and classrooms as “forced relocation” so it could put the story of enslaved Africans in the same context as the story of Irish prisoners who England shipped to Australia and the US. Governor Abbott last year signed SB 3, a law that requires “both sides” of history be taught, so students can understand both that Africans were enslaved in Texas but also that the poor misunderstood members of the Klan had their own legitimate concerns that required them to fight to preserve slavery and white supremacy. The law also makes it a crime for teachers to cause their white students to feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” when teaching about race, slavery, systemic racism, or the genocide of Native Americans. The state also institutionalized their “1836 Project” that forces teachers, under threat of losing their jobs, to promote “Texas values” and put both historic and current social studies events in the context what Republicans call a “patriotic education” that “gives deference to both sides” of events like January 6th, mass shootings, rightwing militia and their murders of people like Heather Heyer, etc. Now that the GOP has openly become the party of white supremacy and political violence, complete with its own armed militia wing, expect more GOP-controlled states to adopt similar laws, while Texas Republicans are now planning to pick up Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law next.
— Tucker Carlson is two-timing Orbán for Bolsonaro, his newest favorite strongman wannabee dictator. Remember when Bernie Sanders visited Denmark and told Americans how good life is in a country with free healthcare and college education? Tucker and Fox are doing the same thing with authoritarianism, last week visiting Brazil. They’re pushing the oligarchic/autocratic neofascist political system that Orbán established in Huntary, Putin in Russia, and Bolsonaro has nearly succeeded in imposing on Brazil. One wonders why the frozen food heir and the billionaires who own Fox would push such a brutal system, but their reasoning probably isn’t so hard to understand: Putin, Orbán, and Bolsonaro have all established systems where taxes on the morbidly rich are extremely low and average people have virtually no power relative to their employers, the police, or giant corporations.
— Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law took effect this past week and schools are rolling out restrictions on teachers wearing rainbows, blocking discussion in class of same-sex parents, and forcing teachers to notify parents if they think a child may be dressing or behaving in a way that’s not “traditional” for their gender. The Leon County School Board has gone so far as requiring schools to notify all parents if a queer child is participating in a phys ed class or going with a class on a school trip, putting that child and their family firmly in the crosshairs of any bigots in the school district. Teaching in public schools has never been an easy or well-paid job, but Republicans in Florida are going full-out on the GOP’s 40-year war on public education as giant for-profit charter school companies shovel money into the party and political races. Just like prison has become a big for-profit industry in Florida, private for-profit education is now a growth industry across the nation as legislatures make it dangerous to teach in public schools.
— Arizona is doubling down on the GOP war on public education wit a new “universal voucher” law that gives $7000 a year to families who pull their kids out of public schools and put them into for-profit private, religious, or all-white rightwing schools. Since the voucher is for less than the annual tuition of most private schools, this amounts to a state subsidy for upper-middle-class and wealthy parents; as planned, it’ll lead to poorer — and poorer performing — students ending up clustered into public schools, deepening the opportunity divide between Arizona’s “haves” and “have-nots.” Which, of course, is exactly the goal of so-called “school choice” advocates who believe the way to push people out of poverty is to punish them for being poor. Over the next year dozens of Red states are expected to follow Arizona’s lead.
— Worries about the economy are spreading, according to polling. Post-pandemic inflation is a problem for every country in the world as supply chains sputter and the Saudis continue to operate under the oil-production-cut deal they worked out with Jared Kushner in 2020. More than half of Americans say they’re “worse off than a year ago” and the perceived drag on the economy is already influencing this year’s elections. The reality of the moment is that unemployment is lower than any time since the 1960s, wages are rising, and inflation is cooling, but Biden administration messaging on the economy is failing in the face of a loud drumbeat of doom and gloom from the GOP and America’s rightwing media juggernaut. As the stock market continues its deep dive, Democrats have a few months before the November election to turn the economy around — and, more importantly, turn around perception of the economy — or face a wipeout at the polls this fall.
— Geeky Science! Can a flu shot reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by as much as 40 percent? Results of a 4-year study of almost a million American patients found that the answer is a resounding “yes” although nobody is sure exactly why. The lead researcher on the study done at the University of Texas Health Center, Avram S. Buckbinder, told reporters: “We found that flu vaccination in older adults reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease for several years. The strength of this protective effect increased with the number of years that a person received an annual flu vaccine – in other words, the rate of developing Alzheimer’s was lowest among those who consistently received the flu vaccine every year.” Next they’re looking at whether annual flu shots may slow progression of the disease. Fascinating!
— Crazy Alert! Rudy Giuliani was offended when Cassidy Hutchison testified this past week that he’d sought a pardon from former President Trump. To prove that she wasn’t telling the truth, the former mayor — who, one wonders, may not have been getting his flu shots — tried to prove his innocence by proclaiming, “She was never present when I asked for a pardon!” Never? There were more than one tries to get a pardon? Oh, Rudy…
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