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25 Oct 16:59

NORTH CAROLINA: Petulant State Officials Demand That PayPal Return Pre-HB2 Ceremonial Wooden Bowl

by Joe Jervis

The Charlotte Observer reports:

Over the last year, when companies announced plans to grow their footprints in North Carolina, state leaders have presented them with an unusual gift: An oak bowl carved from wood from the state capitol grounds.

So when PayPal unceremoniously canceled its plans for an expansion in Charlotte over opposition to House Bill 2, state officials did what any jilted ex might: Asked for their stuff back.

“We reached out to them and said, ‘Give us the bowl back.’ That is a North Carolina artifact from the North Carolina state capitol made by North Carolina artisans for companies that are coming into North Carolina,” N.C. Commerce Secretary John Skvarla told the Observer Monday during a visit to Charter Communications’ training center in Matthews.

“We got it back, gave it to a charity auction, and they raised money that is for the benefit of the state capitol.”

The origin of the bowls traces back to about a year ago, when an oak tree on the capitol grounds was struck by lightning. Crews were about to come chop up the tree and dispose it, but Skvarla called the governor’s office to implore them to keep the pieces.

The post NORTH CAROLINA: Petulant State Officials Demand That PayPal Return Pre-HB2 Ceremonial Wooden Bowl appeared first on Joe.My.God..

24 Oct 17:48

CMV Is a Greater Threat to Infants Than Zika, but Far Less Often Discussed

Every year in the U.S., 20,000 to 40,000 infants are born with cytomegalovirus. Yet most doctors don’t talk with pregnant women about how to prevent it.
03 Oct 13:19

A Chance the Rapper Christmas

by Liz Wood

The White House has really been stepping up its music game these days, organizing festivals and now inviting Chance the Rapper to perform at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Because if you’re on your way out and can’t do much, you might as well use holidays you’re forced to celebrate as opportunities to invite your favorite artists to perform at your house.

Related Posts:

23 Sep 17:27

Don’t Call It Chi-Town (And Other Things to Learn in Chicago Books)

by A-J Aronstein


It makes little sense to come up with another list of “best” Chicago books. To select a “top” 10 (or 20 or 1,000) has always seemed arbitrary and destined for accusations of unjustified boosterism and hyperbole, even in a city built on a foundation of unjustified boosterism and hyperbole.

Fairly or unfairly, Chicago often serves as a general proxy for American cities. Love or hate this idea of ostensible representativeness (most Chicagoans kind of just roll their eyes), to embrace it can prove helpful in one respect: looking at ambition, failed policies, immigration, founding myths, and contemporary life in Chicago, you find resonance elsewhere in America. When thinking through issues confronted by American cities today (and maybe always) — unequal distribution of resources, violent policing, persistent de facto segregation, administrative corruption, privatization of public services, neoliberal coddling of gentrification, fallout from decades of environmental degradation, and others — Chicago serves as a vital case study.

The local commentariat here works itself into spitting rages whenever any outsider — especially if that outsider bears a New York Times business card — parachutes into the Loop for 36 hours to explain Chi-Town (seriously, stop it: no one here calls it that) to the rest of the world. So, designed as a “Chicago 101” syllabus, these books serve as starting points rather than final judgments. They place Chicago at the center of ideas about city life, in some case pressing back on prevailing narratives about American urbanism. Instead of best Chicago books, this selection focuses on books that use a Chicago-centric perspective to address challenges that other places similarly confront.

And given that I’m leaving town this fall and casting my lot with the outsiders when I transplant to — I cringe, really, it feels like betrayal — Brooklyn, I wanted to get this thing together before the movers arrive. Much is missing: I chose not to focus on novels because so many others have done so, and poetry is almost entirely absent. Nelson Algren and Carl Sandburg were not on this list because they are prerequisites for the list. But with the excuses that I don’t intend on completeness and the movers at the gates, I hope it’s acceptable to leave gaps that conversation might fill.

1. “It Really Wasn’t Much of a Place at All.”
coverDominic A. Pacyga
opens Chicago: A Biography, his sweeping history of the Midwest’s largest city, with Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet. The priest and explorer first came upon a portage between the Chicago and Illinois Rivers in 1673. To build a canal here would be to connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi, creating the largest inland waterway in the world and facilitating transportation from New York Harbor to the Mississippi along the entire midsection of the continent.

There’s a lot in between and after, and the last page of Pacyga’s book makes it to Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. That Pacyga covers so much — from the fire that destroyed one third of Chicago in 1871, to the city’s subsequent explosive growth (Chicago had a 1.7 million residents by 1900), to the Haymarket riot, to the 1968 DNC — should give a sense of the book’s scope. With so much terrain to cover, it comes as little surprise that even major events get relatively little space. Pacyga does, however, provide an especially detailed account of labor upheavals that characterized Chicago around the turn of the 20th century, providing context for understanding the city’s pushback against the rampant capitalism for which it earned its reputation.

Chicago: A Biography represents an essential starting point, primarily because it tracks the evolution of the city from a mucky swamp to a “global city.”

2. “Natural Advantages” 
covercoverWilliam Cronon’s Nature’s Metropolis and Donald Miller’s City of the Century both present meticulously detailed and conceptually riveting pictures of Chicago in the 1800’s — a century of incredible expansion. Chicago’s founding hustlers (to borrow Nelson Algren’s term for his fellow Chicagoans) proclaimed as early as the 1830’s that a marsh named for stinking onions by indigenous people, seated aside gloriously fertile grasslands on the shores of an inland ocean, would one day represent “the most important point in the great west.” By the time of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, the climax of Chicago’s ascendant century, that destiny had been realized.

Cronon and Miller interrogate the stakes of this transformation, asking about the lives it altered and about the enduring epistemic shifts that Chicago’s rise implied for the United States. Chicago transformed America’s relationship with the West and with capital itself, producing not only a vast urban expanse but also structuring what we would come to understand as “rural,” “suburban,” and “hinterland.” Cronon helps us understand how the city transformed goods into abstract commodities, reshaping our relationship to the food we buy and the environment we consume. He shows how rail transit didn’t just connect distant places, but rather restructured our very understanding of space and time. In notable contrast, Miller’s history dives into the enormous cast of characters that built Chicago and chronicled its rise. City of the Century’s meticulous characterization of the “hustlers” that poured concrete into Chicago’s foundations provides singular descriptions of this cast’s influence on the city’s trajectory.

3.“High Strung, Contagious Enthusiasm”
covercoverErik Larson’s
The Devil in the White City has become standard literary fare for newcomers to Chicago, and one will often find multiple copies in a transplant’s household. Larson dramatizes the planning of the aforementioned World’s Columbian Exposition, which marked the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to America. Planning required construction of an enormous classical-inspired city in Jackson Park on the South Side, involving many of the city’s (and nation’s) architectural and economic leaders, and marking Chicago’s global coming-out party.

Lurking in the crowds, H.H. Holmes — the book’s eponymous devil — became one of America’s first serial killers. He committed scores of murders silently throughout the fair, the urban anonymity afforded him by the crowds facilitating his crimes. Larson’s book has become important, not just as a document that depicts this contradiction between glorious spectacle and urban underbelly, but also because his romanticized vision of Chicago squares with how the city still views the fair. Its spectacle (and specter) looms large in Chicago’s self-conception.

Where Larson spends time examining the drama among fair planners, Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Kid on Earth presents an imaginative — and sparely, gorgeously rendered — view of the event’s history through a child’s eyes. An emotionally paralyzed man living in present-day Chicago, Jimmy attempts to reconnect with his father. In scenes from the 1800s, the monumental fair casts similar shadows over an inter-generational Corrigan family history. Ware depicts how the tendrils of Chicago’s past reach to its present in a city with a complicated history.

4. Plans for Chicago
covercoverTo understand how American cities thought of their futures at the turn of the 20th century, one must consider two very different city planners in Chicago.

Jane Addams founded Hull-House in 1889, well before the Columbian Exposition’s electric lights flickered on. Her settlement house ultimately comprised an enormous complex of buildings in one of Chicago’s poorest immigrant neighborhoods. In Twenty Years at Hull House, one gets the sense of Addams’s determination to reformulate the way that cities treated the poor and immigrant classes — with dignity and a focus on individuals. She charted a course for services and advocacy for the poor that formed the foundation of social work and emphasized that communities matter in urban development.

Concurrently, Daniel Burnham — architect of the Columbian Exposition — moved on from the fair to create an urban plan that would transform Chicago and cement the city’s status as a global metropolis. Carl Smith’s The Plan of Chicago makes it clear that Burnham’s monumental visions leave a complicated legacy. Despite “sincere” hopes that “City Beautiful” concepts would ennoble the poor, the Plan of Chicago deserves criticism for overlooking conditions of daily life for those to whom Addams ministered. As much as it marks a culmination of optimism in city planning, it lays some of the foundation for abysmal policies that would haunt public housing in Chicago and in many other cities. Moreover, it marks a kind of opening chapter in “public-private partnerships” that govern contemporary efforts to encourage markets to solve urban problems.

5. Bigger Ambitions for Chicago-Born Novels
covercoverNative Son and The Adventures of Augie March belong at the heart of any serious conversation about Chicago novels (though I find Augie difficult to get through). The ambitions of Richard Wright and Saul Bellow in these two midcentury novels rise to the level of Chicago’s ambitions for itself. Their alternatingly devastating and ennobling investigations of individual agency and social determination in two unforgettable protagonists — Augie and Bigger Thomas — make them essential to an understanding of American ideas about selfhood, race, and ambition.

It can be easy to forget that these novels take place in Chicago; they belong to us all and not to any one city. “I am an American,” Augie declares right at his beginning. “Chicago born” comes only second, though it acts as validation of his Americanness. Upon reflection, one cannot imagine either novel taking place in any other American city — one of huge immigrant classes fragmented into neighborhoods bitterly segregated along racial and ethnic lines.

Reading these novels together with a spatial understanding of Chicago deepens one’s appreciation for how wide a gulf exists between the lives of their protagonists and the populations they represent. Augie and Bigger find themselves in Hyde Park, for example (which still boasts of its veneer of racial diversity relative to other neighborhoods), but their experiences there are utterly separate. From this smallest of details — the incongruity of lives despite physical proximity — emerges persistent truths about the structure of racial dynamics in American cities.

6. Making the Most of Migration
covercoverThe Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson’s mammoth history of the Great Migration, won the 2015 Chicago Reader’s poll of “Greatest Chicago Book.” Chicago shares billing with LA and NYC as important destinations for those whose lives Wilkerson traces from the rural south to the urban north and west, but there can be no doubt that the Great Migration wrought indelible changes in the social fabric of every region in the United States from World War I through the 1970s; and in this story, Chicago plays a central role. Unwavering in her depictions of the political and physical violence of Jim Crow and nuanced in both her telling of personal stories and descriptions of broader effects of the migration on cities and people, Wilkerson’s book is the seminal text on the largest internal migration in American history.

Meanwhile, Adam Green’s Selling the Race provides an incisive contribution to conversations about how black Chicagoans carved a place for culture in modern America. Against prevailing narratives that cast black Americans (including many new migrants to Chicago) as victims of modernity, swept up by forces that looked to capitalize on anxieties of belonging, Green argues that they became powerful agents of cultural production. Examples from Mahalia Jackson to Ebony and Jet magazine (product of the Chicago-based Johnson Publications) present a rich picture of how much of black culture was generated and packaged for sale to wide audiences in Chicago.

7. Obsessions with the Ordinary
covercoverNo city values the “ordinary” so dearly as Chicago. And if Studs Terkel stands as the everyman’s greatest champion, his Division Street America best ties the city’s affection for ordinariness to American identity. It would be a mistake to suggest that Terkel shilled the myth of a “city that works” (a term coined by Richard J. Daley). Rather, his no-nonsense portrayals of everyday Chicagoans — rich, poor, Democrat, Republican, racist, gay, jag-baggy, and others — coalesce to create this affecting hodgepodge. As Alex Kotlowitz (no slouch himself in the department of spotlighting and writing movingly about injustice in Chicago) has observed, there’s always Studs in the background — curious, probing, insisting, and asking questions that prompt often-ignored individuals to tell their stories.

Vivian Maier, whose recently discovered work also transacts in Chicago’s obsession with the ordinary, may outshine Terkel decades from now. She embodies the perfect female flâneur (or, as historian Lauren Elkin has rightly insisted, flâneuse). Maier spent most of her life as a nanny in Chicago, secretly capturing some 100,000 images on the city’s streets. The domestic nature of her work all but guaranteed invisibility, given chauvinistic structures of artistic production and labor valuation. But when John Maloof was researching the Northwest Side neighborhood of Portage Park in 2007, he came upon Maier’s forgotten images. He bought and disseminated them. Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found is a great introduction and Maier now belongs in discussions about great American street photographers. Hers is an utterly Chicago story.

8. Daley’s Siege
covercoverRichard J. Daley reigned over much of 20th-century Chicago. He ruled the city from 1955 until 1971, dominated Democratic Machine politics, and earned all of his enemies. Several books on this list describe Daley, and his complicated legacy plays out differently in their assessments. For this reason, I have left out of this list any Daley biographies.

Perhaps no account of Daley proves as brutal as Norman Mailer’s Miami and the Siege of Chicago. In his run-up to descriptions of protests and Chicago police reprisals, Mailer writes, “Daley was no national politician, but a clansman.” The 1968 DNC, convened by Daley, proved a flashpoint in American political history. The chaos fragmented the Democratic Party nationally, and set the stage for Richard Nixon’s victory in November. In Mailer’s description of Chicago, his clear affection for the city makes it all the more heartbreaking (despite his intimations of inevitability) that the fractures of American society should appear on live television broadcasts from Michigan Avenue.

Algren-esque musings notwithstanding, Mailer remains a Chicago outsider. So it feels appropriate to add Chicagoan Haskell Wexler’s film Medium Cool to this list of books. Combining documentary footage of the convention protests with a fictional film, Wexler enlivens and deepens Mailer’s account. He depicts the tumult of 1968 like perhaps no other text from that stormy year. As a bonus, Medium Cool echoes experiments happening in documentary at places like Kartemquin films, which would go on to produce the now-canonical Chicago films Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters.

9. Out in Chicago
coverThe most recently published addition to this list is Timothy Stewart-Winter’s Queer Clout. In it, Stewart-Winter troubles the dominant narrative of 20th-century gay rights activism in the United States, which typically treats New York and San Francisco as the two central cities, often to the exclusion of the Midwest. He fills this narrative with a cacophonous history of LGBTQ culture and activism in Chicago, where firings, shakedowns, police bribes, and bar raids were just as much a part of life throughout the city as anywhere else.

Effective action depended ultimately on collaborations between gay rights and black civil rights groups, and the pursuit of delicate coalitions. Queer Clout traces the fits and starts of these collaborations and coalitions. Post-Orlando, Stewart-Winter’s discussion of the importance of gay bars for LGBTQ individuals — historically and presently — seems especially valuable. Bars served ground zero for exploitation by law enforcement, but also as meeting places and (most of the time) safe havens.

Stewart-Winter cautions against readily equating the gay rights movement with the civil rights movement; the layering of race, sexual orientation, and gender identification necessitates a more complicated picture. And his affecting description of unequal access to healthcare among Chicagoans affected by AIDS creates a devastating picture of failed policies. In a city divided between a black south and white north, lack of access to educational resources, preventive care, and treatment becomes a reminder of how segregation produces injustice that communities and policymakers must continue to fight to address.

10. Humboldt Park
covercoverTo understand gentrification in Chicago, head to the Humboldt Park neighborhood, where protests against rising rents, tax hikes, and teardowns took place recently on the 606. This park, built on a former rail line, echoes efforts in other cities to erase industrial infrastructure from urban landscapes. Having whetted the appetite of developers, The 606 has accelerated the pace at which Humboldt Park is becoming unaffordable for longtime residents.

Sandra Cisneros grew up in Humboldt Park. Her beloved The House on Mango Street takes place in a similar fictional neighborhood. Traditional readings peg the novella as the coming-of-age story of Esperanza, a daughter of Mexican immigrants. Cisneros experiments with form — the book is a series of short vignettes — to explore Esperanza’s struggles with sexuality, national identity, class, and the Spanish language. The poetic language of these depictions alone makes an argument for the work’s importance.

To read Mango Street alongside Chris Ware’s Building Stories widens the lens through which readers can examine the relationship between individual and community identity. Ware’s unnamed protagonist, who loses a leg in a childhood accident, lives in Humboldt Park. Her story unfolds across 14 pamphlets, broadsheets, books, and other objects. Like Cisneros, Ware’s formal cartwheels advance conversations about identity. As with Cisneros, the book’s themes center on self-description — again, a disjointed and chronologically jumbled task (there’s no “right” way to read the book). He’s also interested in the evolving neighborhood, as the heroine moves away and revisits the three-flat in which so much life happens.

11. Whose City?
covercoverWhat does Chicago look like today? Natalie Moore’s The South Side, published last year, combines history and memoir to describe neighborhoods in the city that are too often represented in national news media in one-dimensional stories of gun violence. Her book draws productively from her own biography of a childhood in middle-class and largely black Chatham, and feels less concerned with comprehensiveness than with augmenting and correcting the record. As the current South Side reporter for the local NPR affiliate, Moore brings a great deal of connections and numerous voices to this project.

By contrast, Larry Bennett’s The Third City offers a picture of contemporary Chicago that seems at times too rosy in its assessment of the younger Richard M. Daley’s infrastructure investments (the book was published before the first term of Mayor Rahm “One Percent” Emanuel). Visions of Chicago as a global city — one that attracts entrepreneurs to ride the next wave of innovators was for a time called “Silicon Prairie” — ring with the optimism of the 19th century. It presents a picture of Chicago that has become popular among elected officials looking to attract private money and foreign tourists. This vision of Chicago’s third incarnation (a vision of privatization premised on the notion that a city’s chief ambition should be to attract capital to its core) looks like a new version of Burnham’s century-old Plan. It has fans elsewhere.

How to square this vision with the neighborhoods that sustain Chicago, and other cities, remains an unanswered question.

12. There Are No Two Finer Words…
coverAmong garrulous Chicagoans, most will grudgingly agree: we miss Hot Doug’s. Chicago treasure Doug Sohn’s sausage emporium was not only a celebration of encased meats, but equally a democratizing force on a desolate block on California Avenue in the Avondale neighborhood. One waited in line (often for more than an hour) whether one was Anthony Bourdain, Aziz Ansari, or even Doug’s dad. In Hot Doug’s, the coffee table book that cashed in on Doug’s decision to close the shop not long ago, local voices weigh in on The Line: when they waited, how long they waited for, who got engaged to whom while waiting, who had to rush to the hospital to deliver a baby, etc.

Doug reminded us all (always calling us “my friend”) that in Chicago, one waits in line like civilized people. The snow, cold, heat, wind, and rain be damned.

13. Coda: Next Steps
covercoverThere’s so much more to read and through-lines to trace from Carl Sandburg to Gwendolyn Brooks to Aleksandar Hemon to Chance the Rapper. Those interested in extensive lists of Chicago novels should consult, all kidding aside, several best-of lists already out there. My favorite was published by the dearly departed local site Gapers Block, and it organizes novels by neighborhood. Chicago magazine published a fun list of new Chicago-centric reads for the summer. I’m excited to read Margo Jefferson’s Negroland and Darryl Pinckney’s Black Deutschland. And Curbside Splendor Publishing (a local house) recently put out The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing, a history of one of the Northwest Side’s most-loved venues.

But now, it’s time to get to packing.

Image Credit: Pixabay.

The post Don’t Call It Chi-Town (And Other Things to Learn in Chicago Books) appeared first on The Millions.

21 Sep 17:12

NORTH CAROLINA: Dem Attorney General Roy Cooper Leads Gov. Pat McCrory By Five Points In New Poll

by Joe Jervis

Public Policy Polling reports:

For the first time this entire cycle PPP finds a clear leader in the race to be North Carolina’s next Governor: Roy Cooper. Cooper’s at 46% to 41% for Pat McCrory, with Libertarian Lon Cecil at 2%. When undecideds and Cecil voters are asked who they’d pick if they had to choose between Cooper and McCrory, Cooper’s lead ticks up to 50/43.

McCrory continues to be unpopular, with only 41% of voters approving of him to 49% who disapprove. This makes 39 months in a row we’ve found his approval rating under water. Voters are generally having a positive reaction as they’ve become more familiar with Cooper, with 40% of voters rating him positively to 32% who have a negative opinion.

The story in this race is Cooper’s strength with independent voters. He leads McCrory 44-33 with them in the full field, and 50-34 with them in the head to head. By contrast, McCrory defeated Walter Dalton by a 2:1 margin with independents in 2012. But they have largely soured on him with now only 36% approving of him to 49% who disapprove.

HB2 is causing McCrory big trouble as well. By a 20 point margin voters want to see it repealed- just 32% support keeping it on the books, to 52% who think it should be overturned. Among pivotal independent voters, there’s 56/29 support for repeal. There may be one simple reason HB2 is so unpopular- it’s a bill targeting LGBT people, yet only 19% of North Carolinians say they have a negative opinion of LGBT people, to 47% with a positive one and 34% who are indifferent. A bill cutting the rights of a group of people that only a small slice of the electorate has a problem with isn’t going to be very popular.

McCrory’s taken a direct hit thanks to HB2. Only 39% of voters approve of how he’s handled the issue, to 49% who disapprove. And by an 11 point margin voters say his handling of HB2 makes them less likely to vote for him this fall- 41% say it makes them less inclined to support him to only 30% who say it makes them more likely to.

The post NORTH CAROLINA: Dem Attorney General Roy Cooper Leads Gov. Pat McCrory By Five Points In New Poll appeared first on Joe.My.God..

19 Sep 19:19

CHARLOTTE: Newspaper Busts McCrory For Planting Fake Questions From Them At Press Conference

by Joe Jervis

From the editorial page editor of the Charlotte Observer:

With Hurricane HB2 blowing North Carolina’s doors off, Gov. Pat McCrory took questions in Charlotte last week – from himself. McCrory’s staff planted questions at a lunch event in SouthPark on Thursday with the crowd under the impression that they were coming from the media or the audience.

The moderator, a volunteer from the lunch audience, introduced three questions by saying they were from the Charlotte Observer.

He apologized to me afterward, saying it was his understanding all the questions on one of his sheets were from the Observer. In fact, they were from the governor’s own staff, an event organizer said.

Speakers at Hood Hargett Breakfast Club events routinely take questions from the floor. McCrory required that all questions be submitted in advance in writing.

When the moderator asked how to get started, McCrory said, “Anything you like. No filter here.” Sure, who needs a filter when you posed the questions yourself?

When I tried to ask McCrory a question, the filter went up. “We’ve got three Observer questions answered already. I think you guys dominate the news enough.”

Of course, those weren’t Observer questions. They were softballs from his staff about what he wanted to do with his next term; how he wanted to reduce the state’s rape kit backlog; and how the state crime lab performed under McCrory’s opponent, Roy Cooper.

When the event was over, McCrory did not meet with the throng of reporters who were there. He ducked out a side door and down a hall that led to a back exit. I followed him to try to ask him about HB2, but his staff blocked me.

(Tipped by JMG reader BK)

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19 Sep 13:27

NORTH CAROLINA: Losses From Sports Cancellations Over Anti-LGBT Hate Law Could Exceed $100M

by Joe Jervis

Yahoo Finance reports:

College sports are big money, and losing them can cost a state, big-time. The Atlantic Coast Conference’s announcement Wednesday to relocate all neutral-site championships from North Carolina was yet another hit to the state over its controversial “bathroom law.”

The ACC decision comes just two day after the NCAA announced it will pull all 2017 championships from the state as well. In July, the NBA announced the decision to relocate its 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte due to the law, also known as HB2. The economic cost as a result of lost sport-related business could top $100 million, experts say.

Sports business professor Patrick Rishe, writing at Forbes, identified four areas the state will likely lose out based on the NBA and NCAA’s decisions to pull out of the state:

  • Loss of new spending by non-North Carolina residents (coming to the state for sports events)
  • Leakage of spending by North Carolina residents (going to other states to see sports events)
  • Loss of new spending by non-local organizations (event-related expenditures)
  • Loss of local spending through the multiplier effect (money injected into the NC economy gets spent at local businesses who then spend money at other local businesses)

It’s tough to put an exact number on any of those, but by looking at spending for previous games and tournaments, Rishe puts a conservative estimated loss for 2017 at $112.5 million. And that estimate was made before the ACC’s decision was announced.

The post NORTH CAROLINA: Losses From Sports Cancellations Over Anti-LGBT Hate Law Could Exceed $100M appeared first on Joe.My.God..

15 Sep 20:16

WISCONSIN: Leaked Emails Expose Republicans As Promoting Phony Voter Fraud Stories To Boost Turnout

by Joe Jervis reports:

Hours after polls closed in the closely contested 2011 state Supreme Court election, Republican consultants and lobbyists traded emails about launching a potential public campaign to allege “widespread” voter fraud, newly released emails show. Critics say the emails are another sign of political motives behind Republican claims that voter fraud is a serious problem in Wisconsin.

The emails became public Wednesday through a report by Guardian US, an arm of the British newspaper, which included leaked court documents from the secret John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign.

They were dated to the early morning hours of April 6, 2011. At that time, the outcome remained too close to call in the race between incumbent and GOP favorite then-Justice David Prosser and the candidate favored by Democrats, Judge Joanne Kloppenburg.

Steve Baas, a lobbyist for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and former Republican legislative staffer, floated an idea on the email thread: “Do we need to start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number? I obviously think we should.”

Scott Jensen — the former GOP Assembly Speaker turned lobbyist for American Federation for Children, a private school voucher advocacy group — quickly responded: “Yes. Anything fishy should be highlighted. Stories should be solicited by talk radio hosts.”

The post WISCONSIN: Leaked Emails Expose Republicans As Promoting Phony Voter Fraud Stories To Boost Turnout appeared first on Joe.My.God..

15 Sep 20:09

100 objects that shaped public health

by Jason Kottke

From the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins comes this list of 100 things that have “made their mark on public health”, good and bad. Here’s a sampling of the objects:

Horseshoe crab. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the helmet-shaped horseshoe crab, whose ancestors date back 450 million years. From vaccines to needles to pacemakers, any IV drug or medical equipment that will come in contact with the human body must first be safety-checked using a test that comes from a clotting compound in the crab’s blood. This compound can detect even the smallest amount of deadly bacteria and is sensitive enough to isolate a threat equivalent to the size of a grain of sand in a swimming pool.

Vaccines. Immunization is one of the most important public health achievements in human history. Vaccines helped eradicate smallpox globally and eliminate polio in the United States. The introduction of effective vaccines has also drastically reduced deaths from measles, diphtheria, rubella, pertussis (“whooping cough”) and other diseases that sickened hundreds of thousands of Americans in the early 20th century.

American Cheese. Food processing was actually developed to make food safer. Milk is pasteurized to kill harmful organisms, and canning and freezing foods such as meats, fruits and vegetables helps them last longer. But the food industry has taken processing well beyond these early origins. Often, to extend a food’s shelf life, manufacturers increase fats, sugars, and salt and add in chemical flavorings, emulsifiers, and other additives — taking foods that could have been healthy and making them much less so.

Pap smear. Since its introduction in 1955, the Pap smear has reduced death from cervical cancer by more than 60 percent. Invented by Dr. Georgios Papanikolaou, the Pap smear is a diagnostic procedure in which a health-care professional swabs a cell sample from the cervix and sends it to a lab to see if any of the cells are malignant. Before the invention of the Pap smear, cervical cancer was one of the leading causes of death for women of childbearing age in the United States. Today, it comes in at number 14 on the list of cancers found in women.

Spittoons. Spittoons were developed centuries ago as receptacles for spitting — think ashtrays for saliva. These brass or even porcelain repositories were everywhere: In homes, train stations, saloons and even the U.S. Congress. They were meant for men to dispose their chewing tobacco and the abundant phlegm that accompanied the habit. Convenience turned to concern in the late 19th century when a global tuberculosis epidemic took hold and scientists realized that spittoons might actually spread diseases. Some argued that when people spat in the general direction of a spittoon and missed the target, they caused a greater health threat than if the spittoon hadn’t been there at all.

Vaccines. And now my kids don’t die.

Tags: lists   medicine   vaccines
15 Sep 13:50

NORTH CAROLINA: NCAA Revokes Seven Championship Sporting Events Over State’s Anti-LGBT Hate Laws

by Joe Jervis

BOOM. Via press release:

Based on the NCAA’s commitment to fairness and inclusion, the Association will relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year. The NCAA Board of Governors made this decision because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections.

In its decision Monday, the Board of Governors emphasized that NCAA championships and events must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans. Current North Carolina state laws make it challenging to guarantee that host communities can help deliver on that commitment if NCAA events remained in the state, the board said.

“Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships.”

The board stressed that the dynamic in North Carolina is different from that of other states because of at least four specific factors:

  • North Carolina laws invalidate any local law that treats sexual orientation as a protected class or has a purpose to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals.
  • North Carolina has the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender on one’s birth certificate, regardless of gender identity.
  • North Carolina law provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community.
  • Five states plus numerous cities prohibit travel to North Carolina for public employees and representatives of public institutions, which could include student-athletes and campus athletics staff. These states are New York, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont and Connecticut.

The championship events are for baseball, basketball, lacrosse, golf, and tennis. (Tipped by JMG reader TJ)

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15 Sep 13:49

NORTH CAROLINA: Atlantic Coast Conference Pulls Ten Championship Events Over Anti-LGBT Hate Law

by Joe Jervis

NCAA 2, Electric Boogaloo! Via press release:

Statement from the ACC Council of Presidents:
“As members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the ACC Council of Presidents reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination. Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites. We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year. All locations will be announced in the future from the conference office.”

Statement from Clemson University President James P. Clements, chair of the ACC Council of Presidents:
“The ACC presidents engaged in a constructive, wide-ranging and vigorous discussion of this complex issue over the past two days. The decision to move the neutral site championships out of North Carolina while HB 2 remains the law was not an easy one but it is consistent with the shared values of inclusion and non-discrimination at all of our institutions.”

Statement from ACC Commissioner John Swofford:
“The ACC Council of Presidents made it clear that the core values of this league are of the utmost importance, and the opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount. Today’s decision is one of principle, and while this decision is the right one, we recognize there will be individuals and communities that are supportive of our values as well as our championship sites that will be negatively affected. Hopefully, there will be opportunities beyond 2016-17 for North Carolina neutral sites to be awarded championships.”

Stand by for more screaming sadz, especially since this morning Tony Perkins called on his followers to beg the ACC to stay. The affected championship events include diving, soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, and golf.

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15 Sep 13:49

NORTH CAROLINA: State Senator Becomes First Republican Legislator To Call For Repeal Of Hate Law

by Joe Jervis

Bet you can guess why. Raleigh’s NBC affiliate reports:

State Sen. Tamara Barringer, R-Wake, told WRAL News Tuesday night that she became the first Republican lawmaker to call for the “substantial and immediate” repeal of House Bill 2 due to the measure’s “unintended consequences,” which have played out over the past six months.

“I did not realize the consequences of this bill, that it would have worldwide consequences, and they just keep piling up,” Barringer said. “So, at this point, I’m willing to stand up and say, ‘Let’s put the brakes on it. Let’s get together and find a common solution that we call can live with and move forward.'”

Barringer also faces re-election. Her state Senate district covers Wake County’s southwestern corner, a suburban swath of territory that juts up to Interstate 400 in Raleigh and, in many respects, is far less socially conservative than the state’s rural counties. Susan Evans, Barringer’s Democratic rival, accused the Republican of changing positions based on political expedience rather than any profound change of heart.

“A vote is a vote. When she voted for HB2 in March, Sen. Barringer knew what she was doing,” said Dustin Ingalls, Evans’ campaign manager. “Only now that she’s in danger of losing her seat does she waffle. Her latest change of mind is certainly not a change of heart. It’s a purely political move designed to make voters forget that she is responsible for the loss of jobs and millions of dollars in economic investment in her district.”

Here’s Barringer’s formal statement:

“Whenever legislative bodies rush to judgment on important public policy decisions, there are unintended consequences. With the most recent announcements impacting our state, there are simply too many examples of very sad and unfortunate ramifications and unintended effects of HB2.

“I do not want men or boys legally to be able to share the same locker rooms or bathrooms with my 16-year-old daughter and her classmates or teammates. However, if we want to preserve the proud heritage of North Carolina, it is time for our leadership to consider a substantial and immediate repeal of HB2.”

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06 Sep 16:55

F.D.A. Bans Sale of Many Antibacterial Soaps, Saying Risks Outweigh Benefits

The agency said manufacturers had failed to prove the products were safe to use over the long term or more effective than using ordinary soap and water.
29 Aug 16:55

NORTH CAROLINA: Federal Judge Bars State University From Enforcing Anti-Transgender Portion Of Hate Law

by Joe Jervis

Chris Geidner reports at Buzzfeed:

In a limited ruling on Friday afternoon, a federal judge barred the University of North Carolina from enforcing the “bathroom bill” provision of the state’s anti-LGBT HB 2 law against those transgender individuals who sued the state following the passage of the law.

In the ruling U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder noted, “Ultimately, the record reflects what counsel for Governor [Pat] McCrory candidly speculates was the status quo ante in North Carolina in recent years: some transgender individuals have been quietly using bathrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity, without public awareness or incident.”

The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of several North Carolina residents, including professors and students at UNC schools. After reviewing the record in the case and relevant case law, Schroeder concluded a preliminary injunction of part of the law was appropriate.

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25 Aug 13:47

NORTH CAROLINA: Anti-LGBT Hate Law Drags Gov. Pat McCrory Down To -9 Points In Stunning New Poll

by Joe Jervis

USA Today reports:

For the governorship, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is far behind Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper. The incumbent trails Cooper, 52%-43%.

Some of McCrory’s struggle could stem from the HB2 law that he signed. The HB2 law, also known as the “bathroom bill,” among other things requires users of public restrooms to use the bathroom of the gender they were born with. A majority of voters said they disapproved of the law, 55%-36%.

The telephone poll was conducted Aug. 20-23 of 401 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 points.

More from Monmouth:

Importantly, Tar Heel voters are split on the incumbent’s performance as governor, with 45% approving of the job McCrory has done and 46% disapproving. A key element in the governor’s rating is his support for House Bill 2 or HB2, the controversial law that prohibits local governments from allowing for transgender public restrooms.

A majority of voters (55%) disapprove of HB2 compared to fewer than 4-in-10 (36%) who approve of HB2. Among voters who approve of the law, 74% are backing McCrory in the governor’s race. Among those who disapprove of it, 72% are voting for Cooper. “McCrory is trying to take control of the HB2 debate with a new TV ad. As of right now, though, North Carolina voters feel it has hurt the state, which is helping Cooper’s bid to unseat the incumbent,” said Murray.

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25 Aug 13:46

Adrenaclick Is a Cheaper Alternative to the EpiPen

by Beth Skwarecki on Vitals, shared by Andy Orin to Lifehacker

If you carry an EpiPen in case of a deadly allergic reaction, you’ve probably noticed the price skyrocket over the last decade. The injectors now cost over $600 and still expire after a year, so it may be tempting to carry an expired EpiPen, or none at all. There’s an alternative, though: the Adrenaclick is a different device that delivers the same drug.


23 Aug 18:43

Well: Beware of Bagpipes?

Doctors have identified a newly recognized cause of a potentially fatal lung disease: playing a contaminated wind instrument.
22 Aug 12:51

Kanye West's poem about McDonald's

by Jason Kottke

Kanye Croissant

Frank Ocean dropped his long-awaited album the other day and to go along with it, he gave away a magazine called Boys Don't Cry for free at four pop-up locations in LA, NYC, Chicago, and London. Kanye West contributed to the album and magazine, penning a poem about McDonald's for the latter. Here's the poem:

McDonald's man
McDonald's man
The French fries had a plan
The French fries had a plan
The salad bar and the ketchup made a band
Cus the French Fries had a plan
The French fries had a plan
McDonald's man
I know them French fries have a plan
I know them French fries have a plan
The cheeseburger and the shakes formed a band
To overthrow the French fries plan
I always knew them French fries was evil man
Smelling all good and shit
I don't trust no food that smells that good man
I don't trust it
I just can't
McDonald's man
McDonald's man
McDonald's, man
Them French fries look good tho
I knew the Diet Coke was jealous of the fries
I knew the McNuggets was jealous of the fries
Even the McRib was jealous of the fries
I could see it through his artificial meat eyes
And he only be there some of the time
Everybody was jealous of them French fries
Except for that one special guy
That smooth apple pie

Man, I can't help but like Kanye. Just when you think he takes himself way too seriously, he does something like this and you can't tell if he's taking himself way WAY too seriously or not seriously at all. McDonald's, man. Kanye drawing courtesy of Chris Piascik. (via @gavinpurcell)

Tags: food   Frank Ocean   Kanye West   McDonald's   music   poetry
16 Aug 19:46

NORTH CAROLINA: Gov. McCrory Asks SCOTUS To Reinstate Racist Voter ID Law For November Election

by Joe Jervis

The Raleigh News & Observer reports:

Gov. Pat McCrory wants the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate North Carolina’s voter ID law for the November election. The law, which requires voters to bring a photo ID to the polls, was thrown out by a federal appeals court ruling. Late Monday, McCrory announced that he has sent a formal request to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to stay the ruling while state leaders appeal the decision.

“Allowing the Fourth Circuit’s ruling to stand creates confusion among voters and poll workers and it disregards our successful rollout of Voter ID in the 2016 primary elections,” McCrory said in a news release. “The Fourth Circuit’s ruling is just plain wrong and we cannot allow it to stand. We are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold our state’s law and reverse the Fourth Circuit.”

Two weeks ago the Fourth Circuit ruled that the law targeted black voters with “almost surgical precision.”

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12 Aug 13:17

2 Polio Paralysis Cases in Nigeria Set Back Eradication Effort

The discovery dashed the hopes of global health authorities who had wanted to declare the continent polio-free soon.
12 Aug 13:05

The Overview Effect

by Jonah Lehrer

After six weeks in orbit, circling the earth in a claustrophobic space station, the three-person crew of Skylab 4 decided to go on a strike. For 24 hours, the astronauts refused to work, and even turned off their communications radio linking them to Earth. While NASA was confused by the space revolt—mission control was concerned the astronauts were depressed—the men up in space insisted they just wanted more time to admire their view of the earth. As the NASA flight director later put it, the astronauts were asserting “their needs to reflect, to observe, to find their place amid these baffling, fascinating, unprecedented experiences.”

The Skylab 4 crew was experiencing a phenomenon known as the overview effect, which refers to the intense emotional reaction that can be triggered by the sight of the earth from beyond its atmosphere. Sam Durrance, who flew on two shuttle missions, described the feeling like this: “You’ve seen pictures and you’ve heard people talk about it. But nothing can prepare you for what it actually looks like. The Earth is dramatically beautiful when you see it from orbit, more beautiful than any picture you’ve ever seen. It’s an emotional experience because you’re removed from the Earth but at the same time you feel this incredible connection to the Earth like nothing I’d ever felt before.”

The Caribbean Sea, as seen from ISS Expedition 40

The Caribbean Sea, as seen from ISS Expedition 40

What’s most remarkable about the overview effect is that the effect lasts: the experience of awe often leaves a permanent mark on the lives of astronauts. A new paper by a team of scientists (the lead author is David Yaden at the University of Pennsylvania) investigates the overview effect in detail, with a particular focus on how this vision of earth can “settle into long-term changes in personal outlook and attitude involving the individual’s relationship to Earth and its inhabitants.” For many astronauts, this is the view they never get over.

How does this happen? How does a short-lived perception alter one’s identity? There is no easy answer. In this paper, the scientists focus on how the sight of the distant earth is so contrary to our usual perspective that it forces our “self-schema” to accommodate an entirely new point of view. We might conceptually understand that the earth is a lonely speck floating in space, a dot of blue amid so much black. But it’s an entirely different thing to bear witness to this reality, to see our fragile planet from hundreds of miles away. The end result is that the self itself is changed; this new perspective of earth alters one’s perspective on life, with the typical astronaut reporting “a greater affiliation with humanity as a whole.” Here’s Ed Gibson, the science pilot on Skylab 4: “You see how diminutive your life and concerns are compared to other things in the universe. Your life and concerns are important to you, of course. But you can see that a lot of the things you worry about do not make much difference in an overall sense.”

There are two interesting takeaways. The first one, emphasized in the paper, is that the overview effect might serve as a crucial coping mechanism for the challenges of space travel. Astronauts live a grueling existence: they are stressed, isolated and exhausted. They live in cramped quarters, eat terrible food and never stop working. If we are going to get people to Mars, then we need to give astronauts tools to endure their time on a spaceship. As the crew of Skylab 4 understood, one of the best ways to withstand space travel is to appreciate its strange beauty.

The second takeaway has to do with the power of awe and wonder. When you read old treatises on human nature, these lofty emotions are often celebrated. Aristotle argued that all inquiry began with the feeling of awe, that “it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin and at first began to philosophize.” Rene Descartes, meanwhile, referred to wonder as the first of the passions, “a sudden surprise of the soul that brings it to focus on things that strike it as unusual and extraordinary.” In short, these thinkers saw the experience of awe as a fundamental human state, a feeling so strong it could shape our lives.

But now? We have little time for awe in the 21st century; wonder is for the young and unsophisticated. To the extent we consider these feelings it’s for a few brief moments on a hike in a National Park, or to marvel at a child’s face when they first enter Disneyland. (And then we get out our phones and take a picture.) Instead of cultivating awe, we treat it as just another fleeting feeling; wonder is for those who don’t know any better.

The overview effect, however, is a reminder that these emotions can have a lasting impact. Like the Skylab 4 astronauts, we can push back against our hectic schedules, insisting that we find some time to stare out the window.  

Who knows? The view just might change your life.

Yaden, David B., et al. "The overview effect: Awe and self-transcendent experience in space flight." Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice 3.1 (2016): 1.


08 Aug 17:22

NORTH CAROLINA: Court Hearing Begins On Lawsuit To Overturn Magistrates’ Same-Sex Marriage Opt-Out Law

by Joe Jervis

The Associated Press reports:

Roughly 5 percent of North Carolina’s magistrates are refusing to marry same-sex couples for religious reasons, and lawyers for the state say people suing in federal court have no standing to challenge these opt-outs as unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn scheduled a hearing for Monday in Asheville in part to consider a motion by the state to dismiss their lawsuit altogether. Separately, Republican legislative leaders and some magistrates also want to be added as defendants as the case, saying they don’t trust Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper to defend the state law.

Three couples — two lesbian and one heterosexual — say taxpayer dollars are being spent to implement the 2015 opt-out law that treats them as second-class citizens and favors one set of religious views over another.

“It allows judicial officers to opt out of upholding the constitution,” said Jake Sussman, one of their attorneys. “We don’t believe that the law appropriately balanced issues of religious liberty and these constitutional obligations.”

The Liberty Counsel has petitioned to join the defense on behalf of an anti-gay magistrate. (Tipped by JMG reader Rob)

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08 Aug 16:53

Six Reasons That Justify A ‘Marriage Of Convenience’ Between HIV And Noncommunicable Disease Programs

by Irene Yameogo Ngendakumana and Mohammed K. Ali


Another round in the battle to end HIV/AIDS began on June 10, 2016, at United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, when the HIV community adopted targets and actions to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. For Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), which bears the largest burden of HIV deaths (800,000 in 2015), this is the promise of a new dawn.

However, this ambitious goal to improve health for people with HIV will not be fully realized unless health systems in sub-Saharan Africa address another threat that looms large on the horizon: the growing epidemic of chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). These include heart disease, respiratory and mental health conditions, cancers, and diabetes. In 2008, SSA accounted for about 10 percent of the low- and middle-income countries’ deaths due to NCDs and NCDs are expected to be the leading cause of deaths in SSA by 2030, outnumbering deaths due to maternal, perinatal, nutritional, AIDS, and other infectious diseases combined.

How can the international community seize on this opportunity to collaborate to end AIDS by 2030 and also address NCDs in SSA?

Traditionally, HIV/AIDS and NCDs have been “siloed” in communicable or noncommunicable disease camps. Therefore, in SSA, health systems deliver the response to HIV and NCDs through programs that operate separately. However, due to better access to antiretroviral therapy, HIV patients will soon have near-normal life expectancy and HIV infection will soon be considered a chronic disease.

Indeed, the HIV response’s engagement of stakeholders, patients, and civil society is considered innovative, and its strengthening of broader health systems makes it an efficient approach. The model may hold lessons for efforts to improve NCD prevention, treatment, and care. However, aside from a few pilot projects, the two responses still remain highly separate.

This traditional partition should stop. A “marriage of convenience” between HIV and NCDs will be highly advantageous in SSA. Here are six reasons we have derived from our experiences as an HIV researcher and as a diabetes researcher.

1. A win-win partnership for the patients

In SSA, those affected by NCDs have reduced access to prevention, treatment, and palliative care. At the same time, patients affected by HIV and accessing HIV care in SSA may well develop NCDs, both because they are living longer, due to the side effects of their lifesaving medications, and possibly due to the virus itself, which can increase the risk of some cancers.

HIV patients will need to have access to NCD health services, but little is known about how to do this. Some studies are in progress. The NIH and PEPFAR-NCD program is exploring the integration of stroke prevention and care programs in existing HIV platforms. In some countries, evidence shows that offering comprehensive care to both types of patients in the same place is feasible and can achieve success. For example, in an HIV and diabetes project in Cambodia, the retention of patients in care was high after three years (80-90 percent).

2. A solution to the scarcity of financial resources for NCDs response at global and domestic level

Health financing and access are major issues in SSA where most countries are classified as low-income (58 percent). Despite commitments in 2011 from African Union countries to allocate 15 percent of their annual budgets to the health sector, very few of them have met this target five years later. Globally, NCDs have been a chronically underfunded group of health conditions. Advocacy and coordination with the HIV response may be an efficient way to support the response to NCDs in SSA.

3. An efficient way to tackle the lack of human resources in health

Addressing both HIV and NCDs requires human resources to achieve ambitious targets. The HIV response is seeking to offer testing and treatment to 90 percent of eligible groups in SSA by 2020, while the NCD community wants to provide drugs and counseling to 50 percent of eligible people by 2025.

The shortages in the health workforce could hinder these achievements. SSA bears 70 percent of HIV infection burdens but is home to only 3 percent of the global health workforce. That said, task shifting and task sharing in primary health care settings to address HIV have been hailed as successful models of chronic care delivery.

Nurses, community health workers, civil society, and people living with HIV/AIDS were important actors in these successes. Within multi-disciplinary teams, they contribute to a better continuum of care by providing support for adherence to medication, retention in care, and patient and community education. There is a leverage opportunity here, to expand the NCD response by piggy-backing on the HIV program’s human resources and decentralized care delivery.

4. An excellent way to gather data regarding NCD’s in SSA

Few data are available on NCDs in SSA while HIV research is more developed and provides timely and proper strategic information. A partnership such as this would bring in more technical expertise, lab equipment, and global technical assistance that could contribute to better knowledge of the NCD epidemic in SSA.

5. Better access to NCD essential medicines and adherence support

Cancer drugs are expensive and their prices limit access to care. This situation shares similarities with the early days of the HIV epidemic. Due to the strong leadership of actors, patients’ activism, market size, and some innovative drug access initiatives, the price of one year of HIV first line treatment dropped from US $10,000 (2000) to $100 per person (2012) in SSA. Furthermore, the HIV response was an opportunity to improve drug forecasting, procurement, supply chain management, and adherence management in SSA. Therefore, an association of the two programs will be win-win for countries, corporations, and patients alike.

6. A good way to reduce HIV-related stigma in SSA

The stigma toward HIV remains high and may be associated with delays in access to testing and care. It is one of the most significant barriers for ending the epidemic in SSA. A pilot project that integrated HIV and NCDs services in Cambodia reported a reduction in perceptions of HIV stigma and self-stigma. The results showed increased patient attendance despite an “initial concern about HIV-related stigma.”

Despite these compelling reasons, change will not be easy. Beyond the traditional division between NCDs and infectious diseases, there are other aspects that deserve consideration. NCDs are a very heterogeneous group of conditions. Unlike infectious diseases, there is no single vector of disease, but instead, a myriad of individual, environmental, and social risk factors. Also, without more evidence about how to address NCDs and HIV together, program integration may lead to suboptimal or even negative outcomes.

That is why SSA governments need to urgently take the lead on program integration and invest in operations research to develop a strong evidence base. We must go beyond speeches and actually test and implement.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible, until it is done.”

05 Aug 15:00

NORTH CAROLINA: Appeals Court Refuses Stay On Ruling That Struck Down Racist Voter ID Law

by Joe Jervis

Next stop, SCOTUS. Reuters reports:

A U.S. appeals court issued an order on Thursday denying North Carolina’s motion to stay the court’s decision last week striking down the state’s voter ID law. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said staying its ruling now “would only undermine the integrity and efficiency of the upcoming election.” On Friday, the court ruled that the North Carolina law, which required voters to show photo identification when casting ballots, intentionally discriminated against African-American residents.

Early this week Gov. Pat McCrory denounced Attorney General Roy Cooper, saying that Cooper should not get paid because he refused to appeal the ruling. Cooper, a Democrat, is leading McCrory by four points in the gubernatorial race.

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05 Aug 14:17

Against North Carolina’s HB2 Law: Mental Health And Discrimination Cannot Co-Exist

by Octavio N. Martinez, Jr.

Blog_North Carolina map

This past May, the board of directors of Grantmakers in Health (GIH) decided to relocate the organization’s 2017 Annual Conference on Health Philanthropy from Charlotte, North Carolina, to another city.

This difficult decision was made in light of the state of North Carolina’s controversial new law, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2). The law overturned a Charlotte ordinance that extended rights to gay and transgender people.

In doing so, the state effectively sanctioned discrimination against a class of its citizens.

I am a member of the GIH board. Not only am I proud of GIH’s decision, but as executive director of a mental health grant-making foundation in Texas, I have compelling reasons of my own for associating myself with this action.

Since its founding seventy-five years ago, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has had an overarching mission: to advance mental wellness for the people of Texas. Our sense of what this means, and of the hard realities we feel called upon to address because of this mission, has evolved over time and with changing social conditions. As far as we’re concerned, transgender individuals are rightful members of the human community to whom we feel obligated, as a humanitarian organization.

What’s more, there is no definition of “mental wellness” that can abide the psychosocial harm of the kind of discrimination that the HB2 law enshrines.

The world changes, and we change with it. It wasn’t that long ago that prejudice against, and even vilification of, transgender persons would have been a nonissue for most people. My own profession, psychiatry, has historically been complicit in the pathologizing of gender identities that do not conform to the “gender binary”—that is, the rigid categorization of people as either male or female based on their visible anatomy.

When transgender people were noticed at all in the past, their experience of themselves and of the world was invalidated. The real psychological toll of being forced to live outlaw lives was misdiagnosed as the natural and inevitable consequence of “deviant” behavior.

As a foundation, we pride ourselves on our circumspect approach to challenging and complex issues and appreciate the need to be respectful toward differing viewpoints. However, there also comes a time when, as an organization devoted to mental health, we must stand in solidarity with all of those people who are striving to create healthful identities in the face of ongoing stigma and discrimination.

Consider what’s at stake. A recent NPR story contrasts the results of two recent studies. One, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that among a group of young transgender women in Boston and Chicago, the rate of mental illness and substance use disorders was 1.7 to 3.6 times greater than the rate for the general population. The other study, published in Pediatrics, studied seventy-three transgender children between ages three and twelve. In contrast to the transgender population in the JAMA study, this group had rates of depression and anxiety roughly on par with those of their non-transgender peers.

What’s the difference? The transgender children received emotional support from peers and family, while the young women experienced being transgender within a context of poverty and lack of such support.

This difference points up why it’s misleading and dangerous to trivialize HB2 as the “bathroom bill.” Stigma, whether perpetuated by family or ratified by a legislature, encroaches on emotional well-being and the ability of people to live whole and happy lives.

We know that this is a complicated issue about which people of good will can disagree. Within GIH, we discussed whether to show support for Charlotte by keeping the conference there or to protest HB2 by moving our meeting. And, we should not forget the many proud North Carolinians who have spoken out against HB2.

This opinion should not be taken as a severance of my relationships with friends and colleagues in North Carolina who continue to do great philanthropic work. Nor is it a call for a wider boycott. It is an opinion in defense of the relocation of a single event as a modest statement on an issue of great importance.

Returning to my field, consider that psychiatrists today don’t recognize drapetomania, once hypothesized as the cause of black slaves’ desire to flee captivity, as a legitimate mental disorder. Those of us who are concerned with healthy minds and the social conditions that support them should always permit ourselves the freedom to get out from under the legacy of past mistakes.

04 Aug 12:48

Norwegian ‘Slow TV’ Is Coming to Netflix This Month

by Michele Debczak

Hours of real-time knitting will soon be available to stream.

02 Aug 19:31

SUPER SADZ: McCrory Says Dem AG Doesn’t Deserve Paycheck For Refusing To Appeal Voter ID Ruling

by Joe Jervis

The Raleigh News & Observer reports:

Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday called a news conference to announce that the attorney general will not appeal last week’s ruling by three federal judges throwing out the state’s requirement that voters produce photo identification, along with other changes to election law.

The governor said the state would appeal the ruling without help from Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office. McCrory said Cooper’s decision was another example of him refusing to represent the state.

“We’re very disappointed to hear that again his office is not willing to do his job,” McCrory said. “In fact, I question whether he should even accept a paycheck from the state of North Carolina anymore because he continues to not do his job, as his oath of office requires him to do.” A spokeswoman for the attorney general confirmed Cooper’s decision.

“Attorneys with our office put forward their best arguments but the court found that the law was intentional discrimination and we will not appeal,” Noelle Talley said. “Other parties are adequately represented if they choose to appeal further, although additional appeals would only incur more expense and foster uncertainty with the approaching election and early voting.”

McCrory trails Cooper by four points in the latest gubernatorial poll.

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02 Aug 12:49

NORTH CAROLINA: Arguments Begin At Trial To Halt Enforcement Of Hate Law, Judge Skeptical Of HB2

by Joe Jervis

Dominic Holden reports at Buzzfeed:

A federal judge expressed skepticism on Monday that North Carolina lawmakers were solving a legitimate safety problem when they passed a law in spring that bans many transgender people from restrooms in government facilities that match their gender identity.

US District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder also seemed flummoxed at one point by how the law could function in practical terms — it requires people to use single-sex restrooms associated with the sex on their birth certificate, thereby making transgender people enter facilities that conflict with their identity and appearance.

“We would have people dressed like males, who consider themselves male, walking into the ladies room,” he told a lawyer representing Gov. Pat McCrory. “How on earth is that supposed to work?” he asked.

Schroeder was considering a request to suspend the law while its underlying legal merits are considered at a trial. “I endeavor to make a decision as soon as I can,” he told the courtroom. “I know school is about to ramp up.”

In a hearing that stretched more than three hours, Schroeder also asked lawyers from both sides law how other state laws that prohibit indecent exposure, peeping, and trespassing could apply. And he asked whether the University of North Carolina should be named as a defendant at all.

Lambda Legal has issued a press release:

A federal court today heard oral argument on a motion seeking an immediate halt to provisions of North Carolina’s House Bill 2, the law that, among other things, mandates discrimination against transgender people in single-sex facilities.

“All I want is to use the appropriate restroom, in peace, just like everyone else. It’s humiliating that this law separates me from my peers and treats me like a second-class citizen,” said Joaquín Carcaño, 28, a UNC-Chapel Hill employee and transgender man who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and the law firm of Jenner & Block are challenging the law on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina. Paul Smith of Jenner & Block, argued on behalf of plaintiffs in the case’s first oral argument.

“Each day, Joaquin, Payton, Hunter, and other transgender people in North Carolina are dealing with the humiliation of being singled out by this harmful law in school, at work, and in other public places because all they want to do is use public facilities safely,” said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney with Lambda Legal. “We’re in court today because by requiring people to use restrooms that do not correspond to their gender identity, North Carolina not only endangers and discriminates against transgender people—it also violates federal law.”

The post NORTH CAROLINA: Arguments Begin At Trial To Halt Enforcement Of Hate Law, Judge Skeptical Of HB2 appeared first on Joe.My.God..

01 Aug 13:33

NORTH CAROLINA: Gov. Pat McCrory Melts Down After Federal Court Overturns Racist Voter ID Law

by Joe Jervis

As you can see, North Carolina Pat McCrory has a case of the raging sadz over today’s overturn of his state’s voter ID law, which a federal appeals court declared was a “surgically precise” attack on black citizens. McCrory has vowed to “immediately appeal.” He writes:

Roy Cooper opposes Voter ID. Yet photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane, enter a federal courtroom… or even pick up your credentials at the Democratic National Convention! Three Democrat judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state. We will immediately appeal their decision to strike down our voter ID law and also review other potential options.

McCrory will likely demand an en banc review at the Fourth Circuit. Failing that, it will be on to SCOTUS.

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29 Jul 17:09

NORTH CAROLINA: Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law As Targeting Blacks With “Almost Surgical Precision”

by Joe Jervis

Woo-hoo! Via Talking Points Memo:

A three-judge panel of the U.S Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has found North Carolina’s controversial GOP-backed voting restrictions were intended to discriminate against African American voters. The Friday ruling is a huge win for voting rights activists in a closely watched case in a potential 2016 swing state.

In the opinion, the panel of judges said that the law restricted voting in ways that “disproportionately affected African Americans” and that its provisions targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision.” It said the state’s defense of the law was “meager.”

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