The Quack Brain Company that DeVos Refuses to Divest

Betsy DeVos will very likely get the approval of the 12 Republicans on the Senate HELP committee today, despite being totally unqualified to be Secretary of Education.

Meanwhile, the New York Times published an article about the “brain enhancement” company that DeVos and her husband invested in, and which she said she will not withdraw from. This means she has a direct conflict of interest. But Trump has demonstrated that financial conflicts of interest are no problem, so let the money flow to the investor even if she is a government official who can promote her investments.

But a review of Neurocore’s claims and interviews with medical experts suggest its conclusions are unproven and its methods questionable.

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Neurocore has not published its results in peer-reviewed medical literature. Its techniques — including mapping brain waves to diagnose problems and using neurofeedback, a form of biofeedback, to treat them — are not considered standards of care for the majority of the disorders it treats, including autism. Social workers, not doctors, perform assessments, and low-paid technicians with little training apply the methods to patients, including children with complex problems.

In interviews, nearly a dozen child psychiatrists and psychologists with expertise in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., expressed caution regarding some of Neurocore’s assertions, advertising and methods.

“This causes real harm to children because it diverts attention, hope and resources,” said Dr. Matthew Siegel, a child psychiatrist at Maine Behavioral Healthcare and associate professor at Tufts School of Medicine, who co-wrote autism practice standards for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “If there were something out there that was uniquely powerful and wonderful, we’d all be using it.”

Will the new Secretary tout the miracle of biofeedback as a cure for autism?

from sarah http://ift.tt/2kMahPS

Ray Richmond: A List I Never Thought I Would Write

Ray Richmond is a writer in Los Angeles. This article appeared in the Los Angeles Times. I won’t reproduce it in full because that would violate copyright law. I hope you will open the article and read it. It expresses my own feelings of personal fear, fear for the future of my nation and my fellow citizens, fear for our democracy, and deep uneasiness about the future.

I never thought I’d have to write that I sense fear from my fellow citizens when it comes to speaking out against a presidential administration. But I do.

I never thought I’d have to write that our president is the biggest and most compulsive liar that I’ve ever encountered in American public life. But I must.

I never thought I’d have to write that the leader of the United States has the demeanor of a middle school-aged adolescent, with mature development arrested at age 13. But it’s true.

I never thought I’d have to write that my government has declared literal war against the truth, or that the president’s chief spokesperson would go on television and with a straight face and present the idea of “alternative facts.” But they have.

I never thought I’d have to write that my president is so insecure and consumed with the size of his support that he would personally phone the acting chief of the National Park Service to produce photographic evidence of a larger turnout at his inauguration. But he did…

I never thought I’d have to write that members of President Trump’s senior staff all were using a private Republican National Committee email server after having made Hillary Clinton’s doing so the centerpiece of the general election campaign. But it has.

I never thought I’d have to write that the winner of the presidential campaign is loudly and persistently making dubious claims of voter fraud despite having come out on top. But he does….

I never thought I’d have to write that an American president this week stood in front of the hallowed CIA Memorial Wall and made a self-aggrandizing speech about his own greatness and popularity, unable to see past his own narcissistic reflection. But he did.

I never thought I’d have to write that five members of the president’s inner circle, including two of his children, are registered to vote in two states. But they are.

I never thought I’d have to write that Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, has gone so far as to tell the New York Times, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. The media here is the opposition party.” But he did.

I never thought I’d have to write that the leader of the once-free world could consume himself with bad-mouthing movie stars and TV shows in tweets and all but declare war on information itself. But he does….

I never thought I’d have to write that waking up in the morning to the news — once an activity embraced with relish — so fills me with dread. But it does.

I never thought I’d have to write that going about the business of my daily life feels utterly empty and foreboding due to what appears to be the purposeful destruction of our hallowed institutions of democracy in real time. But it has.

I never thought I’d have to write that I feel helpless in the face of tyranny and autocratic rule from a man who believes himself at once omnipotent and infallible. But I do.

I never thought I’d have to write that I sense I’m a stranger in my own land. But I do.

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Henry Levin: School Choice Increases Segregation Without Improving Achievement

Henry Levin, the William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, has studied school choice and privatization around the world. Levin says there is no evidence for the efficacy of these strategies.

http://ift.tt/2jyWpqB

Levin writes:

“Some have argued that competitive incentives induced by school choice will lead to better educational outcomes. However, there is little evidence to support this claim.

“Sweden has had an educational voucher system since 1992, but its achievement levels on international tests have been falling for two decades. Chile has had such a system since 1980, and there is little evidence of improvement in achievement relative to countries at similar levels of income. Cleveland, Milwaukee, and the District of Columbia have issued vouchers to low-income families, but sophisticated evaluations find no difference between achievement in private voucher schools and public schools with similar student populations. Students from low-income families in Louisiana who have used vouchers to shift from public to private schools have experienced striking reductions in achievement gains relative to similar students in public schools…..

“In England there has been a dramatic shift from schools governed by public councils to academies run by private groups with great autonomy and the ability to select their own students. The results on student achievement show no distinct advantage, and there are similar results for U.S. charter schools based upon careful statistical comparisons.

“Where school choice has shown powerful effects around the world is the systematic separation of students by ethnicity, social class and religion.

“Sweden’s vouchers have increased segregation by social class and immigrant status. Chile’s voucher system has produced one of the most segregated system of schools in the world by family income. In the Netherlands, studies of the school choice system have pointed to school separation of students by ethnicity, immigrant status and family income. A Brookings Institution study found that U.S. charter schools are more segregated racially and socio-economically than public schools in surrounding areas. The Program for International Student Assessment, an important triennial study of international student performance, finds school segregation by social class is associated with school choice.

“Although even public schools have segregation challenges typically caused by residential location, school choice tends to streamline the racial, social class and ethnic isolation of students, as well as separate them by political ideology and religion.”

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Eliot Cohen: A Clarifying Moment in American History

Eliot Cohen is a conservative foreign policy expert. He worked on Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s staff. During the campaign, he signed a statement opposing Trump, which was co-signed by some 200 others who had worked on foreign policy issues for Republican administrations.

In this post, Cohen says that Trump is even worse than he anticipated and warns his fellow Americans to prepare the worst.

He writes:

“We were right. And friends who urged us to tone it down, to make our peace with him, to stop saying as loudly as we could “this is abnormal,” to accommodate him, to show loyalty to the Republican Party, to think that he and his advisers could be tamed, were wrong. In an epic week beginning with a dark and divisive inaugural speech, extraordinary attacks on a free press, a visit to the CIA that dishonored a monument to anonymous heroes who paid the ultimate price, and now an attempt to ban selected groups of Muslims (including interpreters who served with our forces in Iraq and those with green cards, though not those from countries with Trump hotels, or from really indispensable states like Saudi Arabia), he has lived down to expectations.

“Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity—substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better….

“This is one of those clarifying moments in American history, and like most such, it came upon us unawares, although historians in later years will be able to trace the deep and the contingent causes that brought us to this day. There is nothing to fear in this fact; rather, patriots should embrace it. The story of the United States is, as Lincoln put it, a perpetual story of “a rebirth of freedom” and not just its inheritance from the founding generation.

“Some Americans can fight abuses of power and disastrous policies directly—in courts, in congressional offices, in the press. But all can dedicate themselves to restoring the qualities upon which this republic, like all republics depends: on reverence for the truth; on a sober patriotism grounded in duty, moderation, respect for law, commitment to tradition, knowledge of our history, and open-mindedness. These are all the opposites of the qualities exhibited by this president and his advisers. Trump, in one spectacular week, has already shown himself one of the worst of our presidents, who has no regard for the truth (indeed a contempt for it), whose patriotism is a belligerent nationalism, whose prior public service lay in avoiding both the draft and taxes, who does not know the Constitution, does not read and therefore does not understand our history, and who, at his moment of greatest success, obsesses about approval ratings, how many people listened to him on the Mall, and enemies.

“He will do much more damage before he departs the scene, to become a subject of horrified wonder in our grandchildren’s history books. To repair the damage he will have done Americans must give particular care to how they educate their children, not only in love of country but in fair-mindedness; not only in democratic processes but democratic values. Americans, in their own communities, can find common ground with those whom they have been accustomed to think of as political opponents. They can attempt to renew a political culture damaged by their decayed systems of civic education, and by the cynicism of their popular culture.

“There is in this week’s events the foretaste of things to come. We have yet to see what happens when Trump tries to use the Internal Revenue Service or the Federal Bureau of Investigation to destroy his opponents. He thinks he has succeeded in bullying companies, and he has no compunction about bullying individuals, including those with infinitely less power than himself. His advisers are already calling for journalists critical of the administration to be fired: Expect more efforts at personal retribution. He has demonstrated that he intends to govern by executive orders that will replace the laws passed by the people’s representatives.

“In the end, however, he will fail. He will fail because however shrewd his tactics are, his strategy is terrible—The New York Times, the CIA, Mexican Americans, and all the others he has attacked are not going away. With every act he makes new enemies for himself and strengthens their commitment; he has his followers, but he gains no new friends. He will fail because he cannot corrupt the courts, and because even the most timid senator sooner or later will say “enough.” He will fail most of all because at the end of the day most Americans, including most of those who voted for him, are decent people who have no desire to live in an American version of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, or Viktor Orban’s Hungary, or Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

“There was nothing unanticipated in this first disturbing week of the Trump administration. It will not get better. Americans should therefore steel themselves, and hold their representatives to account. Those in a position to take a stand should do so, and those who are not should lay the groundwork for a better day. There is nothing great about the America that Trump thinks he is going to make; but in the end, it is the greatness of America that will stop him.”

from sarah http://ift.tt/2kNFCoQ

Jeff Sessions is the Brains Behind Trump Policies

Now this is scary! According to the Washington Post, the mastermind behind the Muslim travel ban and other signature Trump policies is Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, soon to be confirmed as Attorney General.

“The early days of the Trump presidency have rushed a nationalist agenda long on the fringes of American life into action — and Sessions, the quiet Alabaman who long cultivated those ideas as a Senate backbencher, has become a singular power in this new Washington.


“Sessions’s nomination as Trump’s attorney general is scheduled to be considered Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, yet his influence in the administration extends far beyond the Justice Department. From immigration and health care to national security and trade, Sessions is the intellectual godfather of the president’s policies. Sessions’s reach extends throughout the White House, with his aides and allies accelerating the president’s most dramatic moves, including the ban on refugees and migrants from seven mostly Muslim nations that has triggered fear around the globe.


“The author of many of Trump’s executive orders is senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, a Sessions confidant who was mentored by him and who spent the weekend overseeing the government’s implementation of the refu­gee ban. The tactician turning Trump’s agenda into law is deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn, Sessions’s longtime chief of staff in the Senate. The mastermind behind Trump’s incendiary brand of populism is chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who promoted Sessions for years as chairman of the Breitbart website.”

from sarah http://ift.tt/2kNBnFC

American Exceptionalism: The Truth About Immigrants.

America is not a country, she is an idea. And we can make her anything we want.

America was built on a foundation of ideas, and not mere geography. One idea in particular: the idea called freedom.

People flocked to America in the 20th century — from all over the world — fleeing repression, oppression, regression and totalitarian dictators. They arrived throughout the 20th Century through what we now refer to as Ellis Island, in New York. They arrived by the multitudes; with little to no money, sketchy documentation, emotional stories, and big dreams. They came from around the world, but mostly from Western and Eastern Europe. These were the immigrants of 20th Century America.

The truth is, we are all immigrants. All but Native American Indians and African-Americans. Native Americans have always been here, and African-Americans — well let’s just say that we got on the wrong boat. But that is a story for another day.

America is the only country in the world comprised of every race of people in the world. Such is the power of freedom.

But here is the most important point here — these immigrants — from all over the world — are in fact the groups that are driving and powering the largest economy on the planet.

According to Fortune magazine, 40% of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.

Diversity is now, and has always been a business case. The largest economy in the world is the United States of America. The two largest economies in the United States, are California and New York. The two most diverse places in the United States, are California and New York.

And then you have our local economies, and jobs. Anyone who believes that products made in say Kentucky, are purchased mostly in say in Seattle ~ are for the most part mistaken. The reality is that we literally live within a global economy. Global economic trade.

Factoid: Mexico is the third-largest trading partner of the U.S. and is the second-largest export market for American-made goods, according to the U.S. Trade Representative.

The reality is that without immigrants — of all races and from all places — there would be no modern and economically prosperous America. In fact, the up from nothing immigrant experience is in many ways what makes America great in the first place.

What would have happened had we closed the door on the son of a Syrian immigrant some 50 years ago? We would be trading rock/paper/scissors, that’s what. Because this Syrian young man’s name was Steve Jobs. That’s right. The Steve Jobs. The founder of arguably the wealthiest and most impactful company of the early 21st century: Apple. The maker of the very device you could very well be using to READ this article.

We cannot say it’s cool that our family — our parents, grandparents and great grandparents — got here X years ago, and we think that this is cool, and then slam the door behind us for everyone that comes next.

And so, the question needs to be asked.

What if we now begin to close the door on immigrants, simply because we are afraid of them? Because we are afraid of what they represent. Although, as it relates to crime and terrorism, according to FBI reports more than 90% of terrorists acts were committed by non-Muslims. Because we are afraid that they may be taking the job that we were not going to get — or take — anyway.

We were not going to get the hi-tech post in Silicon Valley, because too many of us don’t hold the highly specialized and advanced technical skills required to be hired in the first place.

We would not take the jobs in the vast agricultural fields of California because, well, the work is just too hard.

And let me say one last thing that most politicians would not dare to tell you.

No matter what we do, the vast booming factories of the Industrial Revolution in the 20th Century are not returning to southern and midwest states and our small cities. We are going to have to re-imagine the economies of these places. We need new ideas, not an emotional rehashing of the worn out old ones. But these vast traditional factories of old are not coming back because of immigrant threats or international trade agreements, but because it simply no longer makes any economic sense.

And here is one more news flash: when and if those traditional manufacturing facilities do return to the United States we would find yet another shocker awaiting budding, low-skilled workers — 21st Century automation.

The new worker of the modern day traditional factory will increasingly become automation, robots, and computerization. Which takes us back to the point I just made above. According to credible Australian research reports, 40% of all jobs — in the world — will simply disappear within our lifetime.

You see, the real crisis in society and our modern America are not immigrants, nor international trade agreements. It is us. All of us. Represented by our out of control, irrational fears. And we must get a hold of ourselves. And quick.

America is a great nation. Possibly still the greatest and most free nation on the planet. But this is arguably also true — we have lost our storyline, as a nation. And we need to get it back. Now

I am not going to spread irrational fears, and I am asking you to commit not to do the same. Beyond the fact that it is not who we are — to deny someone else their basic human dignity — it also does not work. We need solutions that solve today, not more irrational fears and blaming.

And so, I am committing to do my part, which is precisely why I am opening a network of 1,000 HOPE Inside locations across America between now and 2020. A HOPE Inside network which is raising credit scores an average of 120 points over a 24-month period, and creating a new generation of homeowners, small business owners, entrepreneurs and stakeholders. Black and white, urban and rural.

Serving the working poor, the working class, and the struggling middle class. All across America. A growing network for good, which I jokingly refer to as a cross between a private banker for the working man, and the “Starbucks” of financial inclusion.’

And there you have it. Something we can do other than complain and hate. We can actually, be proud.

Let’s go….

from sarah http://ift.tt/2jPNrWP