The Intertwining of Trees and Crime.

Screencapture.

There’s been some very interesting research happening in Chicago, and it turns out that trees reduce crime. I don’t find this surprising at all, but I’m a “must be attached to the land” person. When your environment is bleak and desolate, you end up with bleak, desolate, desperate people. We need to be aware of our earth, we need to be connected to our planet. In urban environments, the best way to restore that connection is with trees. Yes, they are a long-term investment, but that’s good, because it means people are thinking the right way, generations ahead of themselves.

In June, the Chicago Regional Tree Initiative and Morton Arboretum released what they say is the most comprehensive tree canopy data set of any region in the U.S., covering 284 municipalities in the Chicago area. Now, that data is helping neighborhoods improve their environments and assist their communities.

“When we go to talk to communities,” says Lydia Scott, director of the CRTI, “We say ‘trees reduce crime.’ And then they go, ‘Explain to me how that could possibly be, because that’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard.’”

In Chicago, where more than 2,000 people have been shot this year, scientists are looking at physical features of neighborhoods for solutions. “We started to look at where we have heavy crime, and whether there was a correlation with tree canopy, and often, there is,” says Scott. “Communities that have higher tree population have lower crime. Areas where trees are prevalent, people tend to be outside, mingling, enjoying their community.”

The map revealed that poorer neighborhoods are often “tree deserts,” areas with little or no tree canopy. Trees reduce flooding, improve property values, prevent heat islands, promote feelings of safety, reduce mortality, and provide other significant social and health benefits. This means that when you live in, for example, the South Side, where trees are scarcer, you lose more than just green leaves overhead.

Never before have researchers been able to look so widely and deeply at this sort of data. The map is huge—it covers seven counties—and extremely detailed. That has allowed Scott and her colleagues to notice some startling patterns. For example, in the North Shore community—an affluent, lakeside, suburban area—canopy cover tends to be 40 percent or higher. On the economically depressed South Side, canopy can be as low as 7 percent.

That last is no surprise, either. As it goes with people, the poorer you are, the less of everything you get, including trees. There’s much more to the article, all the research, how it was conducted, and information about Blacks in Green, who are doing stellar work. Click on over to Atlas Obscura for the full story. Then see if you could help plant a tree. Or just hug one.

Oh There’s Crazy Alright.

Donny Trump: “The Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes. Even parts of full Repeal need 60. 8 Dems control Senate. Crazy!

The only thing crazy here is just how utterly ignorant the Tiny Idiot Tyrant happens to be. The Senate doesn’t work that way. The Murica Excuse for Healthcare crashed and burned, in large part due to some republicans getting a half ounce of sense, and fearing for their careers in the face of constituent anger. Not that there’s reason to be happy here, there isn’t. Yes, action by people forced this travesty to be trashed, but there won’t be any replacement which is remotely workable, which is not what the rethugs ever wanted anyway. They’re simply appalled by the idea of healthcare, and don’t want there to be any at all, and that’s exactly what they are going to do, repeal, make some noises about replace later, and drop it like a radioactive potato.

Some reading:

Trump reacts to Trumpcare failure by revealing he has no clue about Senate rules.

Repeal and delay is back, and even worse than Trumpcare: The CBO estimates that if Congress repeals Obamacare, 18 million would lose coverage next year alone.

Trump vows to let ACA fail.

The Twitterati respond to Trump’s most impressive failure.

Sunday Facepalm.

Healthcare? Who needs it, anyway? Jim Garlow thinks he has a most cunning plan – tax people, hand the money to churches, and they will do the healthcare! See, all taken care of, no problems.

According to Garlow, any government healthcare program is “doomed to fail” because the Constitution lists the “enumerated powers of what the government is allowed to do and can do, and one of them is not healthcare.” Instead, Garlow argued, the government ought to defer to the church on this issue because God “has already designed a format” for properly providing healthcare to a nation.

The “format” for healthcare that Garlow proposed has three tiers: the “government of personal responsibility, government of the family, and government of the church,” notably excluding “the civil government,” which he said has no role in providing healthcare.

Personal responsibility: not a government. Family: not a government. Church: not a government. The health of citizens is something every right thinking government tackles, because only idiots think that having citizens in poor health is a dandy idea.

“First of all,” Garlow argued, healthcare is “my own personal responsibility: I have to make decisions for my health. If I am not exercising properly, this is a terrible confession to make, if I am not properly exercising right now like I should, then I have to get that corrected it or I will pay a high price for it.”

Sure, we all have to try and do sensible things, but whether or not we do those sensible things, we should still have the right of healthcare. As much as idiots like yourself love to think that every little thing can be handled by exercise and diet, that’s not so. You can be the most conscientious person on the planet and still be slammed with any number of diseases. Then there are accidents. All the diets in the world won’t fix a broken back, or any other broken bits. Exercise and diet don’t confer immunity, and they don’t make you unbreakable. A lot of people will still have to deal with health issues in spite of doing all the healthy things – dropping all salt from your diet will certainly help on the high blood pressure front, but it won’t magically make it go away. Some people never exercise a day in their life and still live half of forever, and healthily and happily so. Other people can exercise every single day of their lives and still get nailed by one health problem after another. Some people can only take exercise if it’s a certain kind, and well regulated for their health concerns, such as people with asthma. And so on. It’s not a matter of “easy peasy, do this, and you’ll be fine.”

The next safety net should be the “family unit,” Garlow reasoned, because “I can take care of my children much better than Donald Trump can. He’s a good man, but he can’t take care of my kids.”

Fuck you and your “family unit”. You don’t think I’m a “family unit” because I don’t have children. You don’t think of queer people as a “family unit” whether they have children or not. And so on. Trump is not a good person, in any sense. This isn’t about someone waltzing in and doing a spot of babysitting, you dimwitted arsepimple. Lots of people, in spite of working their asses off, are stuck in a poverty loop, which requires correction from the ground up. That doesn’t get better because assholes like you want to sermonize about how they aren’t working hard enough. People should not have to deal with high rates of crime. People should not have to worry about every idiot in the country walking about waving guns. People should not have to deal with food deserts. People should be able to access and afford healthy foods. People should have the time to cook it. People should have the right to a good education for all. People should have a right to comprehensive healthcare.

The final resource for those in need of healthcare, Garlow suggested, ought to be the church because Christians are already commanded to care for the poor and the widows and the orphans: “If the church were freed up from the encroachment and the severe over-regulation in our culture and the severe over-taxation of our culture, the church could resume what it did very successfully” throughout history.

Really. Gosh, I don’t see armies of christians out in the streets, ministering to widows, orphans, or anyone else. Funny thing about healthcare, that comes with requirements. Being an asshole christian does not enable you to provide healthcare of any kind. “Encroachment and severe over regulation”? Of what fucking kind? Severe over taxation? :Snort: Churches are already tax exempt. That’s not even taxation, you dipshit, and you’re the one proposing taxing the populace at large so you can fill your fucking coffers even more. I note you don’t specify which churches. That one ought to lead to internecine fighting for the next several decades.

Garlow insisted that “the best medical care and welfare benefits can be done by the church” and should be funded through a “once every three years, ten-percent taxation on people” that would allocate money to “the faith communities.” According to Garlow, allowing the church to provide healthcare would “get rid of the freeloaders that abuse welfare.”

Ah. So you admit this isn’t about healthcare at all. You just don’t want any social safety nets for anyone, unless such things are in the hands of parsimonious christians with judgments trembling on their pursed lips.

In the anticipation that some might object to his unconstitutional conflation of church and state, Garlow insisted that his plan actually puts the church and state “in their proper lanes.”

The “church” can stay in it’s pitted backroad, where it can continue to be an obstacle to all progress, while it’s left behind by everything in the “proper lanes”.

Via RWW.

No Worries, “God” Will Heal All Diseases.

Jehovah Drowns People For No Good Reason. Gustave Doré.

Gordon Klingenschmitt is having another rant, this time about Planned Parenthood, what else. If Planned Parenthood is killed off, well then Jehovah will be all happy, and heal all diseases. He uses a passage from Exodus for this reasoning:

15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

I’ve always had a particular loathing for the story of the Egyptians in Exodus, it’s a stark illustration of the psychopathic nature of Jehovah. When I was a child, I never could get past the “hardening of the heart” business. It was clear to me, even at a young age that this was a particularly nasty, sleazy cheat. As Steve Wells points out*:

So Moses rounded up all three million or so Israelites, their flocks, herds, cattle, unleavened bread, and all the silver, gold, and clothes that they could steal from the Egyptians and left town.  [See Exodus 12.34-38] And everything would have ended happily ever after, too, if God could have resisted the temptation to harden the Pharaoh’s heart a few more times. You see, the Pharaoh’s heart was just too damned soft to suit God. So he set about hardening it a bit more. (He had to harden it 8 times to pull off his last killing.) (14.4, 14.8, 14.17-18.)

Now, there is a bit more about medical care in the bible, which Gordon has conveniently neglected:

16:12 And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.

16:13 And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.

See? Don’t go to doctors, ever! Doctors are awful, and you’ll die. You just need to pray, have faith, or touch the right religious leader’s hankie. There’s nothing at all about Planned Parenthood, or idiots who think terminating a pregnancy is the same as infanticide.

Part of Gordon’s little rant here:

“You know what the solution to America’s healthcare crisis is?” Klingenschmitt asked. “Obey the Ten Commandments, stop funding abortion, stop funding child killing and God will heal your diseases, America. The supernatural blessing of healing is available if we stop working with the demonic spirit of murder.”

Klingenschmitt proclaimed that if America were to repent for the sin of abortion, then “we would receive [God’s] healing and wouldn’t need to rely on socialist healthcare.”

The problem there, Gordon, is that I don’t believe in your psychopathic god, and I don’t care one whit about that evil creature, who is the obvious villain in every story. So, even if we were to pretend Jehovah existed, that would make me one of the Egyptians in his eyes, so I wouldn’t come in for that wondrous healing of all diseases. It would be lovely if you fucking idiots could figure out that not everyone in this mess of a country are christian, and that many of us have zero interest in becoming one.

*I receive no monies from Amazon.

Via Right Wing Watch.

Sunday Facepalm.

In the coming days, 100 US Senators will be delivered an important package. But this delivery won’t be a simple note from one of their constituents. Within days, every single US Senator will be delivered Baby Hope, a twelve-week old baby, with a personal message from her to defund Planned Parenthood and redirect tax payer dollars to community health centers.

[…]

Here is the letter to every US Senator from Baby Hope:

Dear Senator,
My name is Baby Hope. I’m only 12 weeks old, but I want to live. Sadly, there is a high likelihood I will be killed by Planned Parenthood before I ever get a chance to be born. Even worse, Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider that kills 900 preborn babies like me each day, would get paid by American taxpayers to kill me.

However, you can stop Planned Parenthood from killing me and many others. Here’s how: Vote for a health care bill that will not subsidize abortion and will redirect abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding to community health centers.

For my sake and hundreds like me, I beg you to refuse to fund abortion and Planned Parenthood in the health care bill.

Please protect me.

Sincerely,

Baby Hope

Dear anti-autonomy asshole christians,

It would be ever so nice if you all would get one tiny fact into your malnourished, underused brains: no federal or taxpayer monies go towards terminations. Please repeat that to yourselves as many times as necessary for it to penetrate those pea brains. Federal monies go to womens’ health, as in breast exams and other cancer prevention, among other things.

As for Baby Hope, please shove her where the sun don’t shine. What women do in regard to their own bodies is none of your business, and trying to remove one of the only sources of healthcare for women is not helping them. Nor are your “community health centers” or your “women’s clinics”. Your personal hatred of women is your business, of course, however, your thirst to see it translated into an increasing amount of women dead, along with a higher number of children born into dire circumstance needs to stop. Learn to mind your own damn business, and try something different, like looking after children who are bereft of care. There are plenty of them. There are also many children in this country who go without adequate food every day. That situation could use more attention. Women do not need you fucking assholes constantly attempting to control every aspect of their lives. You could always turn to advocating for comprehensive sexual education, accessible, affordable birth control, and more education for girls. Those are all proven methods in reducing abortions.

As always, since you find women being allowed full human rights and control over their own bodies so terribly distressing, I give you my constant suggestion: leave it up to that piece of shit god of yours. You’re the ones who think he’s so great and mighty and all that. Seems to me you must be pretty damn sure there’s no such god at all, else you’d be happy to put it all in his hands, no?

Via ChristianNewsWire.

A Request For Horror Stories Leads To Love Stories.

Screenshot.

The Indiana Republican Party had the bright idea to set up their FB to ask constituents for their ACA horror stories, but it backfired most spectacularly. There was plenty of horror, but it was splattered all over those rethuglicans who though they were being so clever.

The Indiana Republican Party has requested that the state’s constituents share their “horror stories” with ObamaCare, the Indianapolis Star reported Tuesday.

“What’s your Obamacare horror story? Let us know,” the GOP party wrote in a Facebook post as it sought to collect negative stories about the Affordable Care Act, such as higher premiums or insurance companies leaving the market.

Many of the people respondents, however, flooded them with stories about how the healthcare law has positively affected their lives.

“My sister finally has access to affordable quality care and treatment for her diabetes,” one person wrote, according to the news outlet.

“My father’s small business was able to insure its employees for the first time ever. #thanksObama,” another said.

Another person claimed that “the only horror in the story is that Republicans might take it away.”

Rethugs should seriously give up on the trying to be clever business, it never works out. The Hill has the story.

In yet an even more embarrassing move by the GOP geniuses, they decided to tweet out what they thought were cutting remarks and questions to assorted democrats, asking them where their healthcare plan was. In this effort, they included the Clintons, neither of whom hold office at the moment. I would have thought that much hadn’t escaped them. Naturally, the Twitterati have been merciless, if more than a bit exasperated. Raw Story has the full story and assorted tweets.

The Death of Medicaid.

Al Franken at The BookExpo2017 in New York City, 6/1/17. CREDIT: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx.

Getting back to the Fuck You Care Plan, which gets worse at every small reveal. The denials over medicaid come in fast and furious, from evasive denials to outright lies, but the bottom line is quite simple: money will go into select filthy rich pockets; medicaid will be dead in few short years.

The bill would in fact massively cut Medicaid, threatening to completely phase out the program as we currently know it. The legislation would roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, starting in four short years. It would also make deeper cuts to Medicaid by placing “per capita caps” on the program such that states will receive only a set amount of money for each recipient, no matter how much their care actually costs.

Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicaid in the Obama administration, said on Twitter that “the main event in the Senate bill is the destruction of Medicaid,” characterizing it as “far, far worse than even the House bill.” And the House bill, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office, would leave 23 million more people without coverage.

But Trump administration officials presented alternative facts on Sunday.

Full story here.

Monday morning on MSNBC, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) countered Roy’s argument. He noted that the tax cuts that Trumpcare would deliver to the richest 400 taxpayers would pay for 750,000 people to be on Medicaid. Franken didn’t rely on a single study but cited the more comprehensive analysis of recent research on Medicaid published in NEJM. These researchers found that for every 750,000 people who lose Medicaid coverage, 1,000 to 2,000 people would die.

Franken actually understates the case. The NEJM cited a recent study estimating that Medicaid expansion has saved one life for every 239 to 319 people covered. That means enrolling 750,000 people in Medicaid could actually save 2,300 to 3,100 lives.

Full story here.

America: Draconian, Backwards, Doomed.

Shutterstock.

America, the experiment, is one that will fail. And no, this isn’t yet another report about the disastrous regime, which is simply yet another symptom of the failure in progress. It doesn’t matter that there a few states sprinkled here and there that you could consider progressive and social minded. The majority of states are not those things. A whole hell of a lot of people aren’t those things. Christianity is the biggest obstacle to social progress, morality, and humaneness. And no, I don’t give a shit if you’re a progressive, social minded christian. Until I see all of you busy, active, protesting, and lobbying against all the asshole christians, I don’t care what you say in private. Whatever you’re doing, it isn’t enough.

The insistence on puritanism rooted in misogyny is one big reason this lost country will continue to slide inexorably downwards. Too many Americans seem to think of the country as a church, and they should have the right to oppress and stomp all over certain people. Missouri is providing a fine example of this in action:

Missouri’s Senate is considering legislation that would allow employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions. The bill, which has the support of the state’s governor, Eric Greitens, was approved by the Missouri House Tuesday.

Known as SB 5, the bill was first passed by the Senate on June 14 following a special session called by Greitens. His aim was to overturn an ordinance that prevents employers and housing providers from punishing women for their reproductive health choices, according to a report by Feministing, a feminist website.

The ordinance was passed by the city of St. Louis, and Greitens had said it made the area into “an abortion sanctuary city.” The Senate seemed to agree with him, as did the House, which on Tuesday passed an expanded version of SB 5 that included more anti-abortion restrictions. Given the Senate’s vote on June 14, it it seen as likely to approve the updated version of SB 5. This would mean that landlords could refuse to offer housing to women based on their reproductive health choices, while employers could fire female staff members who were using birth control, or refuse to hire them. And while of course this isn’t information most landlords or employers have access to, under SB 5 they could ask women what forms of reproductive health care they are using.

Yes, of course women could lie; that’s not the point though, is it? The mere fact that anyone could be given the authority to question you on your contraception use* or specific bits of your medical history ought to scare the living hell out of everyone, it should not be something enshrined in law, to say the least. Can you imagine anything of this kind of thing being applied and passed in regard to men?

* Not that most women will be able to afford contraception in the near future.

Full story here.

When Words Come Back To Bite Your Ass.

In this photo taken April 21, 2010, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks about financial reform at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. In a letter circulated by Hatch Thursday, March 3, 2011. CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak.

With all the secrecy and other slimy moves in the ramming through of the Fuck You Care Plan, an interesting op-ed has surfaced, from Orrin Hatch. It certainly highlights the ongoing hypocrisy of rethuglicans, and why you can never trust anything they might say, and certainly not what they might do.

In short, in less than a week, Senate Republicans are considering ramming through a major piece of legislation that the public has not seen and will not be able to respond to, and they’re using a method specifically designed to circumvent any mechanism the Constitution allows the Senate’s minority party to stop it.

But don’t take it from me: Take it from Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who agitated fiercely against the Senate Democrats’ rumored plan to pass Obamacare through reconciliation in 2010.

“This use of reconciliation to jam through this legislation, against the will of the American people, would be unprecedented in scope,” Hatch wrote in a 2010 Washington Post op-ed titled “Reconciliation on health care would be an assault to the democratic process.” “And the havoc wrought would threaten our system of checks and balances, corrode the legislative process, degrade our system of government and damage the prospects of bipartisanship.”

In the op-ed, Hatch details exactly how reconciliation allows a majority party to abuse parliamentary power, and why it’s inappropriate for health care. “It sharply limits debate and amendments to a mere 20 hours and would allow passage with only 51 votes (as opposed to the 60 needed to overcome a procedural hurdle),” he wrote. “But the Constitution intends the opposite process, especially for a bill that would affect one-sixth of the American economy.”

Now, of course, Hatch is all for the terrible process, and defends the secrecy on the basis it won’t give democrats a chance to criticise, because as we all now know, criticism is just the worst thing ever.

According to Hatch, holding public hearings on Senate Republicans’ Obamacare replacement plan would be useless, because those hearings would only give Democrats opportunity for criticism.

“We have zero cooperation from the Democrats,” he told reporters. “So getting it in public gives them a chance to get up and scream.”

When it was Obamacare on the table, Hatch was a staunch proponent of bipartisanship, arguing in an open letter to Obama that “our nation expects us to solve this challenge in an open, honest and bipartisan manner.” He added that “the American people deserve an open and vigorous dialogue on this critical legislation and the use of this process would be a clear signal that Washington continues to ignore their voices.”

Think Progress has the full embarrassing story. Well, it would be embarrassing to anyone except a rethuglican.

Media, Oh Media, Wherefore Art Thou?

CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci.

The Senate secrecy over the Fuck You Care Plan is working, and like a dream. It’s not being covered, anywhere, by anyone. Granted, there’s not a whole lot of story there, but media has no business ignoring it to the point that it seems it’s not a reality. If anything, media should be pounding on this, hard. If there’s a case of the death of democracy, it’s right there.

The informal July 4 deadline Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has set for Senate Republicans to pass a health care bill that could strip coverage from 23 million Americans is rapidly approaching — but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the front page of major newspapers across the country on Monday.

National outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post featured no front-page coverage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), also known as Trumpcare, which is being secretly written by an all-male group of senators. The lack of attention being paid to the bill indicates McConnell’s strategy of avoiding publicity by drafting the bill behind closed doors, holding no hearings, and unveiling the bill’s text at the last possible minute is paying dividends.

[…]

People who consume their news online also didn’t see any coverage on major outlets’ homepages Monday morning.

Trumpcare has also been a blip on the TV news radar. According to an analysis by Media Matters looking at coverage from June 1 through June 14, the bill has received scant mention on broadcast and cable news, with Republican secrecy surrounding the bill barely even being mentioned.

There’s a reason Republicans want to Trumpcare on the down low — even Fox News is unable to spin the unpopularity of the bill, which is essentially a tax cut for the rich masquerading as health care reform.

[…]

Progressive senators are trying to make the media take notice. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to Republican committee chairs with jurisdiction over Trumpcare requesting that they “schedule hearings to discuss, debate and hear testimony about the health care bill you are currently drafting in secret.”

The letter, which goes on to list each of the 31 rooms where a hearing could be held, says the millions of American who would be negatively impacted by Trumpcare “deserve an open and public debate over the bill.”

“The American Health Care Act would fundamentally redefine health care in our country,” it concludes. “To draft it behind closed doors and pass it without even one hearing is nothing short of legislative malpractice and a repudiation of all the Senate stands for.”

So…how about it, media? Can we get a little bit of outrage over this travesty? A little bit of attention? Think Progress has the full story, along with many images showing the complete lack of coverage.

BIEM.

Courtesy of BIEM.

BIEM is a new sexual health app, designed to help de-stigmatize testing, and make communicating results with partners easier, too.

With the goal of removing stigmas and empowering a new generation to take action, Biem is offering the world’s first virtual sexual health clinic. The app, which launched today, allows users to discreetly talk one-on-one with sexual healthcare providers, get tested right at home, receive results directly to their phones and effortlessly share the information with sexual partners.

Bryan Stacy, Biem’s founder and CEO, created the mobile app’s concept after he was diagnosed with Chlamydia and testicular cancer at once.

“I realized that the worst part of the entire experience was the two-month period before I was diagnosed—the time during which I felt something was wrong, but rationalized it away,” says Bryan about the motivation for developing Biem. “I knew I had to eliminate the barriers that keep people in this damaging loop.”

Notably, Biem doesn’t require a subscription and complies with all medical regulations. The app’s judgement-free, information-forward experience requires a video chat with one of Biem’s healthcare providers prior to getting tested, and costs $45 for each session. Once complete, users will get tested through one of the app’s lab partners hosted throughout the United States. If users prefer being tested at home, there’s an additional $45 fee.

As STD rates in the U.S. rapidly rise, Biem hopes to address the national epidemic with a platform that eliminates “the awkwardness, shame and inconvenience that prevents people from getting tested and talking to their sexual partners about health and STDs.” Unlike other online heath clickbait, which often employs fear mongering tactics, Biem is an LGBTQ-friendly alternative that merges convenience with personalized care.

Courtesy of BIEM.

Via Out. You can download BIEM here.