September 24, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 9:00 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:56 PM


Estimating the Impacts of the Trump and Clinton Health Plans (Q&A with Christine Eibner, Rand)

Christine Eibner, a senior economist at the RAND Corporation, led a team that analyzed parts of the proposed health care plans of the two major parties' presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. [...]

Can you briefly describe what each candidate's plan does and how you went about analyzing the plans?

The Trump plan repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA). So we first analyzed the effect of full repeal by itself. Then we conducted three additional analyses, in which we examined the effect of repealing the ACA combined with each of three other parts of the Trump proposal:

allowing tax deductions for the full amount of health insurance premiums;

converting Medicaid to a block grant program; and

allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.

The Clinton plan modifies the ACA. It introduces a number of policies designed to expand coverage and reduce consumer out-of-pocket costs. We analyzed four of the policies included in Clinton's plan:

A cost-sharing tax credit of up to $2,500 per individual or $5,000 per family to offset the cost of out-of-pocket spending in excess of 5 percent of income, available to all individuals enrolled in private coverage;

Reducing the maximum premium contribution individuals must make to enroll in a benchmark plan on the ACA marketplaces;

Fixing the "family glitch," a quirk in the ACA that means workers and their families could be ineligible for marketplace tax credits, even if they cannot obtain employer coverage without spending more than 9.7 percent of income on health insurance. We model this policy in combination with the reduction in premium contributions.

Introducing a public option in the ACA's marketplaces. [...]

What were the key findings?

All of the Trump proposals decrease the number of insured, increase out-of-pocket spending for consumers enrolled in individual market plans, and raise the federal deficit compared to the ACA. The federal deficit increases because repeal of the ACA would eliminate the ACA's provisions that reduce spending and generate revenue, such as changes to Medicare payment policy; and taxes and fees levied on insurers, medical devices, and branded prescription drugs. The amount that the deficit increases varies widely, from half a billion dollars under the block-grant provision to $41 billion under the tax deduction provision. People with lower incomes would be more affected than other groups. This is true largely because repealing the ACA means eliminating Medicaid expansion, which covers people with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Sicker people would also be disproportionately affected, because the proposals would eliminate the ACA's rule that people with pre-existing conditions can't be denied coverage.

The Clinton proposals all increase the number of people with insurance and decrease consumer out-of-pocket spending among the insured population. Three of the four proposals increase the federal deficit. The amount of the increase varies from $3.5 billion under the premium reduction to $90.4 billion under the cost-sharing tax credit. One of the Clinton proposals (the public option) reduces the deficit by $700 million. In terms of out-of-pocket spending, the Clinton proposals have the biggest effect on people whose incomes fall between 139 to 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($33,534 to $60,750 for a family of four). The cost-sharing tax credit proposal has the largest effect because it potentially touches as many as 178 million people and expands coverage to an additional 9.6 million.

Posted by orrinj at 5:46 PM


No Fortune 100 CEOs Back Republican Donald Trump (REBECCA BALLHAUS and  BRODY MULLINS, Sept. 23, 2016, WSJ)

No chief executive at the nation's 100 largest companies had donated to Republican Donald Trump's presidential campaign through August, a sharp reversal from 2012, when nearly a third of the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies supported GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

During this year's presidential primaries, 19 of the nation's top CEOs gave to other Republican candidates, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of campaign donations. [...]

Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric Co., who gave to Sen. Lindsey Graham during the GOP primary, called Mr. Trump's comments about Mexicans and Muslims "unacceptable" in an interview with Vanity Fair last month.

Posted by orrinj at 11:36 AM


What We Know (And Don't Know) About Immigration and the U.S. Economy (JEFFREY SPARSHOTT  AND PAUL OVERBERG, Sep 23, 2016, WSJ)

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine this week released a report looking at the economic and fiscal implications of immigration to the U.S.  The findings suggest benefits for the immigrants themselves and the broader U.S. economy, but also acknowledge costs for state and local governments. Here are some additional facts, figures and findings from the study: [...]

Immigrants and their children will account for the vast majority of current and future net workforce growth. Even so, the U.S. civilian labor force is growing only slowly. It's expected to expand 0.5% this decade, compared with 1.2% in the 1990s and 0.7% in the 2000s. That has significant implications for overall economic growth as well as funding for programs like Social Security.

The panel didn't look at immigrants' social or cultural impact that may have economic effects. For instance, 59% of immigrants over 15 are married versus just 48% of natives.

Posted by orrinj at 10:54 AM


Read Vin Scully's touching farewell letter to Dodgers fans (Jason Foster,  Sep. 23, 2016, Sporting News)

Posted by orrinj at 10:39 AM


Trump Stumbles on Good Idea: Take Away Harvard's Tax Breaks (Eric Levitz, 9/24/16, New York)

A broken clock is right twice a day. Donald Trump is correct far less often. But he does, on occasion, have himself a point.

Your average elite university has become an enormous hedge fund with a side business in research and education. Harvard spends roughly $800 million on research every year -- and $4.2 billion in total operating expenses. As New York's Annie Lowrey notes, the university has used its wealth to buy up enormous amounts of land in Cambridge, driving up real-estate prices while contributing little, if anything, in property tax. Revoking its nonprofit status would provide the state of Massachusetts with an additional $80 million a year. Considering that Harvard recently spent a billion dollars renovating its student dorms, the Bay State can probably be trusted to find a more socially useful way to invest that $80 million.

Posted by orrinj at 10:31 AM


Rafsanjani takes aim at Iranian military spending amid furor  (Saeid Jafari, September 23, 2016, Al Monitor)

The chair of Iran's Expediency Council, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, delivered the following remarks Aug. 10 at the 33rd Summit of Managers and Heads of Education in the Country, organized by the Ministry of Education:

Today, you can see that Germany and Japan have the strongest economies in the world. These same two countries were prohibited from having military forces after the Second World War. When a country is at war, it spends so much money on its military. With no military spending, these countries could use that extra money on science and production and were able to create a science-based economy for themselves. As a result, they are no longer fragile. The door has been opened to a similar process in Iran. Managers, teachers, and concerned citizens should use this opportunity. I am sure that we can get there during President [Hassan] Rouhani's second term.

And for the same reason : the protective cover of American alliance.

Posted by orrinj at 10:18 AM


Why Ted Cruz Is Finally Endorsing Donald Trump (Ed Kilgore, 9/24/16, New York)

At The Atlantic, Russell Berman suggests Cruz is worried about his reelection bid in 2018, and the possibility of a primary challenge fed by the parallel grudges that Establishment Republicans and Trumpites hold against the junior senator from Texas.

It is the changing dynamics of the presidential general election, however, that may well be pushing Cruz toward at least a pro forma gesture toward his party's nominee. By that I do not mean that Cruz is gaming the possibility that Trump will win; no matter what he does now, the Texan will almost certainly be frozen out of any real influence in a Trump administration. It's the significant likelihood of a narrow Trump loss that is probably bugging Cruz and his advisers. It was one thing to stay on the sidelines and watch sadly as Trump self-destructed and lost by a landslide, as appeared likely for a good part of the general-election campaign. In that scenario, Cruz was in a good position to help pick up the pieces afterward and become the chief advocate for a movement-conservative version of the GOP's post-Trump future. But after an agonizingly close Trump defeat, Cruz would become a prime object of recriminations for having helped Hillary Clinton and her baby-killing, Christian-hating secular-socialist minions to seize power.

Given that his own politics is driven primarily by the same racial and religious hatreds as Trump's, the only reason not to endorse him was petty personal hurts.  Serious politicians should be above such things and able to support those who are vindicating their beliefs.

The Senator has to endorse him for all the same reasons that conservatives have to oppose him.

Posted by orrinj at 10:11 AM


Clinton's eyes -- a window into her health issues (John R. Coppedge, 9/22/16, The Hill)

It appears that she has a problem with her left sixth cranial nerve. That nerve serves only one function and that is to make the lateral rectus muscle contract. That muscle turns the eye in the direction away from the midline. 

It comes out of the base of the brain and runs along the floor of the skull, immediately beneath the brain before coursing upward to the eye. Dysfunction of that muscle causes the striking picture of the eyes not aiming in the same direction and causes the patient to suffer double vision.

Like all things medical, there is a long list of potential causes but in my opinion the most likely one, based on Clinton's known medical history is an intermittent lateral rectus palsy caused by damage to or pressure on her sixth cranial nerve.

It is known that she suffered a traumatic brain injury in late 2012 when she fell and struck her head. What is also known is that she was diagnosed with a transverse sinus thrombosis -- blood clot in the major vein at the base of the brain. Almost all patients with a transverse sinus thrombosis suffer swelling of the brain and increased intracranial pressure. Most have headaches, balance issues and visual disturbances -- all of which Clinton was reported to have following that event.

Clinton's physician reported that she was placed on Coumadin (a blood thinner) to dissolve the blood clot. Actually, that is incorrect, because Coumadin has no effect on an existing clot. It serves only to decrease the chance of further clotting occurring Clinton's physician has also reported that on follow up exam, the clot had resolved. That is surprising since the majority of such clots do not dissolve. The way it was documented that the clot had resolved has not been reported.

If, as is statistically likely, Clinton's transverse sinus is still blocked, she would still have increased pressure and swelling and decreased blood flow to her brain. That swelling would place pressure on the exposed portion of the sixth cranial nerve at the base of her brain, explaining the apparent lateral rectus palsy. And such a deficit can be partial and/or intermittent. 

Additionally, when patients who have decreased intracranial blood flow becoming volume depleted (dehydrated) or have a drop in blood pressure loss of consciousness can occur. That could explain her witnessed collapse in New York City on 9/11. [...]

It would be very helpful if Clinton agreed to an independent exam and to have the questions raised here answered. 

Posted by orrinj at 10:01 AM


Monetarists are out of ideas (Noah Smith, 9/24/16, Live Mint)

Maybe doubling down on activist monetary policy would work, but another possibility is that the standard theory of how monetary policy works--the general idea that low interest rates stimulate both inflation and the real economy--is broken.

I have no idea whether Williamson's Neo-Fisherism is the answer. An alternative possibility is that monetary policy just doesn't do very much when interest rates are very low.

Perhaps the premium of corporate bond rates over government rates diverges when rates get low. Maybe interest on bank reserves changes the equation. Or maybe the institutional peculiarities of the banking system prevent low rates, quantitative easing and forward guidance from having much of an effect.

Perhaps Fed policy affects expectations in ways that are very hard for us to understand, that end up cancelling out much of monetary policy's intended effect.

But whatever's going on, I don't foresee the conventional wisdom, or the instincts of central bankers, changing very much. I predict that policymakers, and mainstream macroeconomics, will continue to believe that low interest rates encourage both inflation and growth, and that high rates do the opposite.

Rather, inflation is the cause of higher rates and deflation, while it causes lower rates, actually hides how high real rates are.

Posted by orrinj at 9:49 AM


What One Man Learned Attending Both The RNC And Gathering Of The Juggalos In One Week : "Two sets of clowns, two divergent worldviews." Author Nathan Rabin crosses societal screams with his new book, 7 Days in Ohio. (JOE BERKOWITZ 09.23.16, Fast Company)

"Both events felt very influenced by wrestling. Insane Clown Posse used to be involved with the WWE, and there's a wrestling ring at the Gathering of the Juggalos, but also don't forget that Trump is a Hall of Famer at the WWE. He's a performer," Rabin says. "Both events kind of had the vibe of cult meetings, too. There's a lot of chanting, but the chanting is very different. At the Gathering, people will be chanting 'Fam-i-ly! Fam-i-ly!' or 'Magic magic ninja what!' It's about community, and there's affection there. People were chanting to affirm themselves and their experience and just be generally positive. At the RNC, when people would chant things, it was terrifying. It made me feel scared--it played to this hatred of women, more than anything. 'Lock her up!' There's this hatred that kind of goes beyond the pale and becomes frightening. 'Build a wall!' These are all just incredibly negative things. When people were chanting at the RNC, they wanted to hurt or punish somebody."

"I wouldn't say Insane Clown Posse are totally Christian, but they do promote a Judeo-Christian theology. It's almost like AA, where you just have to have faith in something bigger than yourself. The form of Christianity at the Republican National Convention just took the form of flat-out hate. The Westboro Baptist Church--the God Hates [****] people--were there, but they kind of lost some of their mojo because everybody was saying horrible things about homosexuals. There were a lot of signs like 'Sodomites roast in hell.' I think Trump's a fake-Christian. I think he is obviously a debauched sinner who realized that in 2016, if you wanna get elected as a Republican, you better start talking about how much you love Jesus and your favorite book is the Bible."

"These events are funhouse mirror reflections of each other--they're spectacles, very vulgar, populist, and they're about appealing directly to the base, but in different ways," Rabin says. "Here we have the party of the establishment, one of these two giant parties who have dominated American politics, and it has sort of compressed itself into the fringe. To say you support the Republican presidential nominee this year is to make a kind of extreme and radical statement and that's crazy. While this party is descending into madness, the Juggalos are starting to get at least a little more activist-minded and respectable. They've never been more political, working together on this case to counter the FBI."

Posted by orrinj at 9:14 AM


The Slow Slide Into Single-Payer Health Care (IB Times, 9/24/16)

For decades, liberal Democrats have been advocating a single-payer health care system where government pays all the bills. The public has never supported this idea, but it looks like the country is headed there anyway, slowly but surely.

The latest data from the Census Bureau show that just since President Obama took office, the number of Americans getting health care through a government program -- Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, etc. -- shot up by 32 million (an increase of more than 32%).

In contrast, the number of people getting coverage from private insurers has gone up 11.6 million (a gain of less than 6%).

The Congressional GOP's strategy of just trying to obstruct the UR--who they imagined an illegitimate and temporary figure, just as Democrats considered W--meant that they offered no alternatives to things like immigration reform and Obamacare, both 60-40 issues.  The former left room for Trump to rise, which will at least cost this eminently winnable presidential, potentially both houses of Congress and who knows what long term damage with everyone but older white men. The latter has just served to make an eventual National Health system more likely, where universal HSAs would have been preferable.  

Posted by orrinj at 9:09 AM


'What's red and can't be trusted at Number Ten?' - Twitter reacts to Rooney benching (Ronan Murphy, Sep 24, 2016, Goal)

Posted by orrinj at 9:03 AM


The New Know-Nothings (The Editors, 10/03/16, American)

It was a time of great economic uncertainty and political turmoil. The next election promised to move the nation closer to a terrible precipice, and the native-born were frustrated by their diminished status, one accelerated by an apparently endless flow of newcomers who seemed destined to dislocate and replace them. Cries of "America for Americans" rose across the anxious republic.

Was that 1856 or last week? It appears it has been both. Responding to the "dog whistling"--or worse--of politicians, the xenophobia and neo-nativism of the so-called alt-right, thinly veiled as a political position, has emerged from the murk of the internet. The alt-right's message has found an especially receptive audience among white males frustrated by reduced economic prospects and a perception of a loosening hold of white hegemony in U.S. society.

Voices from within this fringe sometimes bluntly promote hate and a juvenile, pseudo-scientific delusion of the superiority of European culture, denigrating others as polluters or diminishers of its greatness. But the Hispanic presence in the New World is old and deep enough to rival any Anglo claim to cultural legitimacy on these shores. Of course it is not as old as that of the "Americans" regularly ignored by such competing claims of authenticity: the indigenous people whose cruel eradication made room for everyone else in the first place.

The reek of this creed of tribalism and intolerance should be instantly recognizable to modern-day Catholics. To the Know-Nothings, Irish Catholics came to America merely as paupers or felons in service to a Romish plot to undermine American liberty through the ballot box. Recycling 19th-century nativist headlines would require little more than the adjustment of a few words: Replace Irish with Mexican, Catholic with Muslim.

It's easy to forget that it took a hundred and fifty years from that point to Reform the Church so that it accepted democracy, capitalism (John Paul II) and protestantism (Benedict).  We'll Reform the Sunni much more quickly.  

Posted by orrinj at 8:51 AM


Four al Qaeda members killed in suspected U.S. drone strike: officials (Reuters, 9/24/16)

They said the attack in Marib province, controlled by forces loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, occurred late on Friday. A local commander of the militant Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), known as Abu Khaled al-Sanaani, was killed along with three associates, they said.

It was the second drone strike in two days to target a local commander of the Islamist militant group regarded by U.S. officials as one of the most dangerous branches of al Qaeda.

Posted by orrinj at 8:37 AM

IF HE'S CALLING HIMSELF "THE UNICORN RIDER"... (self-reference alert):

Obama used a pseudonym in emails with Clinton, FBI documents reveal (JOSH GERSTEIN and NOLAN D. MCCASKILL, 09/23/16, Politico)

President Barack Obama used a pseudonym in email communications with Hillary Clinton and others, according to FBI records made public Friday.

The disclosure came as the FBI released its second batch of documents from its investigation into Clinton's private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

...we're doing the Icky Shuffle.

Posted by orrinj at 8:19 AM


The Democrats' Methodist Moment : Young Hillary Rodham saw the church's social concerns shift from alcohol and gambling to sexism and racism. (KENNETH L. WOODWARD, Sept. 22, 2016, WSJ)

After Bill Clinton, a Bible-toting Southern Baptist, was elected, I repeatedly tried as religion editor of Newsweek to interview him about his religious beliefs and practices. Ten days before the 1994 midterm elections, the White House offered me Hillary, the sturdy Methodist, instead.

The first lady spoke candidly about her Methodist upbringing, her core Christian beliefs and prayer habits, and how she frequently consulted the latest Methodist Book of Resolutions, the church's official handbook on social and political issues, which she kept upstairs in the family quarters. Piety plus politics was her message.

I asked her if she ever thought of becoming an ordained Methodist minister once her White House years were over. "I think about it all the time," she instantly replied. But after exchanging glances with her press secretary, Lisa Caputo, she asked me not to print what she had said because she felt it made her sound much too pious. I didn't.

I feel free to mention this now because Hillary Rodham Clinton obviously has opted for a career in public service. But for a serious Methodist, public service is a form of ministry. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:07 AM


On Jacoby Brissett's touchdown, it's a case of walk before run (Keith Pearson, September 24, 2016, Boston Herald)

The play that will stick out from Jacoby Brissett's first NFL start Thursday night was the rookie quarterback's 27-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter that gave the Patriots a 10-0 lead.

After initially faking a give to LeGarrette Blount running left, Brissett rolled to the right and was able to break into space as Shaq Mason blocked Benardrick McKinney, the linebacker to that side, who had initially started to follow Blount.

At the 6-yard line, Brissett made a quick shift to his left and watched as free safety Andre Hal whiffed on a tackle and Malcolm Mitchell blocked downfield to neutralize cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

Making the play all the more impressive was that it was only installed during the weekly walk-through according to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

"We thought we could get outside and there wasn't really anybody left out there but the corner who was in man coverage and it's just a question of -- once we got outside -- it was just a question of when the free safety would get there or if an inside linebacker would be able to get there quick enough, but because LeGarrette flowed across the formation that dragged the linebackers with him and so there was, as you saw, nobody left," Belichick said during a conference call yesterday.

"The timing of the play between Jacoby and Shaq was really perfect, which is remarkable considering the fact we've never run the play other than just a walk-through. But Shaq cut McKinney down at the perfect time as Jacoby was getting outside of him. McKinney just didn't really have a chance to recover."

Posted by orrinj at 7:59 AM


Trump Underperforms Romney Among Every Group -- WSJ/NBC News Poll (NEIL KING JR., Sep 22, 2016, WSJ)

[I]n a stark illustration of Mr. Trump's challenge, the poll showed him underperforming Mr. Romney's marks among every portion of the population, including among the groups where he will have to rack up truly historic numbers to offset declines elsewhere, particularly among non-white voters.

For instance, Mr. Trump has performed particularly well among white voters who lack a college degree, a contingent that made up around 36% of the electorate in 2012. In the new poll, the GOP nominee performed well among that slice, topping Mrs. Clinton by 18 percentage points.

But Mr. Romney, in his loss in 2012, did much better in the election exit polls among that same group, leading Mr. Obama by 26 percentage points.

Pick your group and you will find the same dynamic.

Mr. Trump is up 55 points among self-declared conservatives, but Mr. Romney clocked an advantage of 65 points. He is up 77 points among Republicans, but Mr. Romney topped that mark by 10 points. Among white men, Mr. Trump enjoys a 13-point advantage, compared to Mr. Romney's 27-point edge.

All you ever hear from the Right is how the GOP damages itself by nominating "squishes"--GHWB, Bob Dole, Maverick, Mitt--and if only we'd nominate a full-blooded rightwinger it would be magical...

Posted by orrinj at 7:47 AM


Sorry, Mark Zuckerberg. Your plan to put an end to disease is a sickeningly bad idea (Jemima Lewis 22 SEPTEMBER 2016, The Telegraph)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already made extraordinary progress in combatting malaria worldwide, and almost completely eliminating polio. But the Zuckerberg-Chans have the most ambitious vision yet: developing new technologies and medicines to tackle every disease ever invented.

We'd better hope they don't succeed. What would it do to the human race if we were granted eternal health, and therefore life? Without any deaths to offset all the births, we would have to make room on earth for an extra 208,400 people a day, or 76,066,000 a year - and that's before those babies grow old enough to reproduce themselves.

Within a month of Mr Zuckerberg curing mortality, the first wars over water resources would break out. Within a year, the World Health Organisation would be embarking on an emergency sterilisation programme. Give it a decade and we'd all be dead from starvation, apart from a handful of straggle-bearded tech billionaires, living in well-stocked bunkers under San Francisco.

To avert global catastrophe, the Zuckerbergs will have to leave us something to die of. But perhaps they've thought of that already. Perhaps instead we will be discreetly euthanised, once our online data suggests we are starting to flag. There'll be a knock on the door, and one of those cute Japanese nursing robots will gently see us off with a painlessly lethal injection .

200 years of hoping humans will die off and every day takes them farther from their wish.

September 23, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 9:30 PM


With Kevin Garnett Retiring, 2021 Hall Of Fame Class Is The Best Ever* (Mitch Lawrence , 9/23/16, Forbes) 

Kevin Garnett had to call it quits. After 21 years, his body could no longer take the pounding. Last season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 2004 MVP hit the old-man wall. He did not play a single minute over the final 34 games, as his very good friend and coach, Sam Mitchell, felt that Garnett was no longer able to contribute, or even hold up. In effect, he was already retired. So it merely paved the way for Garnett's decision on Friday to accept a buyout, according to league sources. He was scheduled to make $8 million this coming season.

A 15-time All-Star who was a relentless competitor and a defensive force in his prime, Garnett's retirement means that he'll be eligible in five years for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2021, he'll actually be overshadowed by the automatic first-ballot inductions of two NBA icons, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant.

...weren't just the best defensive players of their respective generations but actually intimidated teammates into playing defense too.

Posted by orrinj at 8:46 PM


Trump's Father Helped GOP Candidate With Numerous Loans (ALEXANDRA BERZON and  RICHARD RUBIN, Sept. 23, 2016, WSJ)

The document, a ca**no-license disclosure in 1985 by then-wife Ivana Trump, shows Mr. Trump taking out numerous loans from his father and his father's properties near the start of his career in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

At the time of the disclosure, Mr. Trump owed his father and his father's businesses about $14 million, according to the document.

That is a different picture from the one he paints at campaign rallies. "I started off with a million-dollar loan and I built it up to more than $10 billion in value--a million dollar loan," he said at an event in Rome, N.Y., in April.

Unlikely as it seems, he's an even worse businessman than everyone thought.

Posted by orrinj at 3:51 PM


Does gluco[**]mine really help joint pain? (BBC, 22 September 2016)

In collaboration with Prof Phil Conaghan of the University of Leeds, a world expert on joint pain, we recruited 80 people with painful knees. Phil and his team assessed their joints and asked them to rate their pain levels, and then 40 of them were given a "supplement pill" to take daily and the other 40 were given daily exercises. After two months, we asked them to rate their pain again. And the results were very telling.

In the group that took the supplement pill, 55% reported a significant reduction in pain - an improvement of around 30% or more. In fact, many in the group were extremely enthusiastic about the effect this supplement had, one saying she felt "like a new person".

In the group that were given exercises to do, 80% reported the same reduction in pain. So, the exercises were much more effective than the supplement - but the supplement was still very good at reducing our volunteers' pain.

So what was this marvellous pill? As you've probably already guessed by now, it was just a placebo. Placebo works very well for joint pain. Gluco[**]mine "works" - but the evidence is that it doesn't work much better than placebo.

If you've got sore joints, then, you might as well save yourself some money - about half the time a sugar pill will make you feel better, but if you actually want the best chance of making a difference, then Phil's exercises are the way to go. Nothing beats them in studies - and they're free.

Posted by orrinj at 3:45 PM


U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin (Michael Isikoff, September 23, 2016, Yahoo News)

U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials -- including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.

The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. [...]

Some of those briefed were "taken aback" when they learned about Page's contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser's talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being "actively monitored and investigated."

Posted by orrinj at 3:41 PM


Enquirer: It has to be Hillary Clinton (Enquirer editorial board,  September 23, 2016)

The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century - a tradition this editorial board doesn't take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst.

That's why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.

Posted by orrinj at 1:31 PM


Debate Prep? Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Differ on That, Too (PATRICK HEALY, AMY CHOZICK and MAGGIE HABERMANSEPT. 23, 2016, NY Times)

Mr. Trump, in turn, is approaching the debate like a Big Man on Campus who thinks his last-minute term paper will be dazzling simply because he wrote it.

He has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:25 PM

60-40 NATION:

Most Americans See Trump As a Racist Madman -- Some Just Like That in a President (Eric Levitz, 9/23/16, New York)

An Associated Press-GfK survey released Friday finds that a majority of Americans think Trump is at least somewhat racist, while 60 percent say he does not respect ordinary people, and nearly three-quarters say he is neither civil nor compassionate -- a sentiment endorsed by 40 percent of Trump's own supporters. Clinton earns kinder marks on all of those fronts, with 22 percent saying she's racist, 48 percent that she doesn't respect ordinary folks (and/or "deplorables"), and 58 percent that she isn't compassionate.

A new SurveyMonkey poll shows Americans taking an even darker view of the Republican nominee, with a majority of voters saying Trump would abuse the power of the presidency to punish his political opponents, allow the U.S. to default on its debt, inspire "race riots" in major cities, create a database to track Muslim Americans, and order air strikes against the families of terrorists.

Posted by orrinj at 9:17 AM


Trump's English-only campaign : Paying little attention to shifting demographics, the Republican nominee offers nothing in Spanish. (SHANE GOLDMACHER 09/23/16, Politico)

It was just over a year ago, at a nationally televised debate, when Donald Trump chided Jeb Bush for speaking another language on the campaign trail. "This is a country," Trump said standing at the lectern next to Bush, "where we speak English, not Spanish."

The crowd at the Ronald Reagan presidential library applauded. Ever since, Trump has stayed true to his word.

With 46 days until the November elections, and as early voting begins in a handful of states, Trump is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition.

Posted by orrinj at 9:11 AM


Obamacare Has Increased Insurance Coverage Everywhere (Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Ben Casselman, 9/22/16, 538)

When congressional candidates last hit the campaign trail in 2014, one word seemed to be at the top of the agenda for virtually every Republican: Obamacare. But that was before most of the law's provisions took effect. Two years later, the health law seems to have faded as a campaign issue.

New data released this month might give a hint as to why: The uninsured rate -- the share of the population without health insurance -- dropped in every congressional district in the country between 2013 and 2015, according to the American Community Survey.

The GOP will increase coverage, not decrease it.
Posted by orrinj at 9:00 AM


This could be the end of the Labour party : It has no way forward even as a credible opposition so long as it follows Corbyn's vicious, vacuous creed (Nick Cohen, 24 September 2016, The Spectator)

The last upsurge of left-wing militancy in the 1970s had Eric Hobsbawm, E.P. Thompson and other formidable socialist thinkers behind it. Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty and Danny Blanchflower looked like their successors. They too have produced formidable work on how to make society fairer. They agreed to help Corbyn, but walked away after discovering that Corbynism is just a sloganising personality cult: an attitude, rather than a programme to reform the country. That attitude is banal in content, conspiracist in essence, utopian in aspiration and vicious in practice. [...]

Corbyn's banality, which has driven serious leftists away, is not the unmitigated political disaster it seems either. As with so many who call themselves socialists, it has let him embrace Islamist movements, which are fascist in their political outlook, and Russia's conservative and kleptomaniac autocracy. This has been my left-wing generation's greatest betrayal, and its hypocrisy and cynicism is exacting a heavy political price. Yet the banality that allows disgraceful alliances also ensures that the far left does not have to commit to a specific domestic programme.

Utopias are always banal. Corbyn's Utopia allows his supporters to wallow in the warmth of self-righteousness. They want to end austerity. Stop greed. Bring peace. How they do it is not their concern. Practicalities are dangerous. They take you away from utopia and back into the messy, Blairite realm of compromises and second-bests.

Anyone who knows history knows that utopianism can justify viciousness. By his supporters' reasoning, leftists who are against Corbyn must be in favour of poverty, greed and war. All tactics are justified in the struggle against such monsters.

Just as Trump is nothing more than a reaction against W, so too is Corbyn just a reaction against Blair.  Reactionaries don't win in the Anglosphere.

Labour of the negative (Roger Scruton, 9 Sep 2016, The Spectator)

The current crisis in the Labour party has many causes; but the principal one, it seems to me, is that the party is now led in Parliament by someone who thinks that he is answerable only to those who voted for him, and neither to his wider constituency in the country -- the constituency of Labour voters -- nor to the institution in which he sits. He is not entirely to blame for this. The rules for the election of the leader were changed by Ed Miliband so as to bypass the parliamentary party, a move that reflected Miliband's general indifference towards institutions that gave a voice to those who disagreed with him.

The result is that the parliamentary Labour party is nominally under the control of someone who sits silent and impotent on the bench of the House of Commons certain only of one fact, which is that he is the elected leader. It is as though Parliament and its offices were of no interest to him; yet there is no procedure for removing him other than the one that will ensure that he is re-elected. When, a century ago, the members of the parliamentary Conservative party voted in a way of which their leader Andrew Bonar Law disapproved, he was asked what he felt, and he replied: 'I must follow them, I am their leader.' The wisdom of this remark would be lost on Jeremy Corbyn.

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