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Polluting our kids’ brains

We all know this. And it’s not as if the establishment would be willing to rock this particular boat when there are campaign contributions to be had:

As many as one in six children nationwide has a neurodevelopmental disability, including autism, speech and language delays, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that ADHD alone affects 14 percent of children, although experts debate whether it may be overdiagnosed. In any case, the number of children needing special education services has increased 200 percent in the past 25 years. In a 2000 report, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that 3 percent of brain disorders are caused outright by environmental toxicity and an additional 25 percent by environmental exposures interacting with genetic susceptibilities.

Every day, America’s pregnant women and young children are exposed to a trifecta of suspected neurotoxicants in the form of pesticides (mostly via food and water but also home, lawn, and farm applications), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH (mostly via exposure to vehicle exhaust), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs (flame retardants, mostly in upholstered furniture and electronics). The CDC routinely samples Americans for these and other industrial by-products in our bodies, so we know their reach is pervasive. But we are not all equally exposed, and some of us appear to be more vulnerable to them for reasons that may include genetic susceptibility, poor nutrition, stress, and age.

Equal opportunity?

Jasan Lazarus Live Archive
Not exactly. Kevin Drum:

Via James Pethokoukis, here’s an interesting tidbit of income mobility data from a new Brookings report. The chart below is a little tricky to read, but basically it shows how likely you are to make more money than your parents. You’d naturally expect smart kids to do better than dimmer kids, so it tracks that too.

Take a look at the green column on the far left. It’s for kids who grow up in the very poorest families. If you have high cognitive ability, you have a 24 percent chance of becoming a high earner as an adult. That’s not too bad.

But if you come from a high-income family, you have a 45 percent chance of becoming a high earner as an adult. Same smarts, different outcome.

No society will ever get this perfect. Still, there’s a huge difference between 24 percent and 45 percent. Better schools, more extracurricular opportunities, different skin color, bigger networks of connected friends, higher odds of going to college, and the simple ability to get in the door all give richer kids a huge leg up that poor kids don’t have. We obviously have a ways to go before everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed in America.

2000 miles

The Pretenders:

I’ll be home for Christmas

Kelly Clarkson:

Christmastime is here

Diana Krall:

This Christmas

Donny Hathaway:

Your librul media

Chris hayes

Chris Hayes attends secret NBC union meeting. Who skips it? Ed Schultz, Friend of Labor!

Amid workers alleging union-busting by an NBC Universal-owned company, MSNBC’s prime-time host Chris Hayes recently met privately with a group of them to hear their concerns, according to several people present at the meeting.

Hayes is one of five prime-time MSNBC hosts – along with Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz – whose support the Writers Guild of America–East is seeking in an ugly labor struggle with Peacock Productions, which is owned by NBC Universal and has produced programming for MSNBC. A petition posted by the AFL-CIO and hosted by MoveOn.org Civic Action asks the five hosts to “Please meet with these workers and take a public stand to support their right to organize” at Peacock Productions. None of the five has so far publicly addressed the issue.

Hayes, Maddow, Sharpton and O’Donnell did not comment in response to Monday inquiries (sent to MSNBC or personal email addresses, to Sharpton’s National Action Network, and to Random House, which published Maddow’s book; Random House referred the inquiry to MSNBC).

But, asked about the campaign, Schultz emailed Salon, “Moveon.org has never been an ally of Ed Schultz, why should I help you with a story? Give me a reason.” A follow-up email was not answered. (The email came from a personal address provided to Salon by people who have been in touch with him there; following a series of inquiries, an MSNBC spokesperson said, “I can’t confirm that e-mail address,” but declined to dispute that it belonged to Schultz.)

In apparent contrast to his colleagues, Hayes met with Peacock Productions workers in a private meeting with WGA-E staff at the union’s office, according to people who were in the room (Hayes did not respond to a Monday request to comment on that account). “We presented our case to Chris Hayes and he understood what we were dealing with …” Peacock Productions worker David Van Taylor told Salon. “I don’t know whether Chris Hayes will do anything in support of us – you know, of this campaign. I have no idea. But he listened and he heard us. And you know, I appreciate that he took the time to listen.”

WGA-E organizing director Justin Molito confirmed the meeting but said he could not provide further detail on the private sit-down. He said the union saw MSNBC’s prime-time hosts as “natural allies in the rights of employees that work in the same building as them, and for the same company as them.” Peacock Productions’ programming includes Investigation Discovery’s true-crime show “I’d Kill for You” and political documentaries for MSNBC.

Molito alleged that NBC Universal – owned by Comcast – was guilty of hypocrisy, treating Peacock Productions workers in a way that defied the values promoted on its cable channel, MSNBC: running “a textbook anti-union campaign that you would see at companies like Wal-Mart”; attempting “voter suppression” by preventing union election ballots from being counted; and exploiting the “right-wing extremist takeover in Congress” by mounting National Labor Relations Board stalling tactics abetted by recent Senate obstruction. An NBC spokesperson referred an inquiry regarding the Peacock Productions dispute to a colleague, who did not respond to a request. In an August statement provided to the LA Times, NBC said, “We believe that Peacock’s producers hold meaningful supervisory authority, which, according to Federal Labor Law, excludes them from voting.”

The goombah

chris christie

Everyone who lives around here already knows what a vindictive asshole Christie is:

So the unfolding story of the lane closings has become something of a cause célèbre, resulting in a hearing before the New Jersey Legislature on Monday, as well as a window into the proudly aggressive and often secretive dealings of Mr. Christie’s team.

The mayor of Fort Lee, a Democrat, complained in a letter in September that the lane closings were “punitive” — Mr. Christie, a Republican, was leaning heavily on Democratic mayors to endorse him for re-election so he could present himself as a presidential candidate with bipartisan appeal, but the mayor was not going along.

Mr. Christie laughed off the idea that he had been involved in a matter as small as closing bridge lanes, and his chief appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, insisted that the lane closings were simply part of a traffic study.

But on Friday, the man who ordered the closings — a high school friend of the governor’s who was a small-town mayor and the founder of an anonymous political blog before Mr. Christie’s appointee created a job for him at the Port Authority — resigned, saying the issue had become “a distraction.”

And testifying under subpoena in Trenton on Monday, bridge workers described Mr. Christie’s associates’ ordering the closings, and called the different maneuvers “unprecedented,” “odd” and “wrong.” There was, they said, no study.

Mr. Christie’s associates at the Port Authority, they said, ordered bridge workers to shut down the lanes with three days’ notice despite warnings that it would cause havoc, and that changes of this magnitude typically took years of planning. They were instructed not to tell anyone — not the news media, not Fort Lee, not even the Port Authority’s executive director, who is an appointee of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, they said. They protested, but went along, they said, because they feared retribution.

At perhaps the strangest turn in the legislative hearing, the chairman of the Transportation Committee, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat, pressed the Port Authority’s executive director, Patrick J. Foye, to say whether it was possible that the police officer who had overseen the moving of the cones that closed the lanes — a man named Captain Licorice, though no one who testified could verify the spelling of his name — had been given a promotion as a reward for staying silent about the whole operation.

“You have to forgive our suspicion here,” Mr. Wisniewski told Mr. Foye, who was forced, as other Port Authority officials were, to attend the hearing by subpoena. “There’s a lot here that’s happened that is not normal, that is unprecedented.”

“It is troubling to me, too,” Mr. Foye replied. (He did say, however, that the promotion was not an exchange for silence.)

Via DUI Lawyer Kush Arora.

Affluenza

From the state with the best justice money can buy! I wonder how understanding the judge would be if this kid was poor, and the defense argued his parents never taught him right from wrong. At least the families of his four victims will be able to sue the pants off this spoiled brat’s family:

A spoiled Texas teen who killed four in a drunken driving accident dodged prison and was sentenced to probation instead after defense lawyers argued his wealthy parents never taught him right from wrong.

Ethan Couch, 16, was facing 20 years behind bars for the horrific June wreck, but instead walked out of a Fort Worth courtroom Tuesday with 10 years’ probation.

The rich brat’s legal team said he needed counseling, not hard time, and proposed sending him to a posh Southern California treatment facility that would cost his family $500,000 a year.

You guessed it: He got ten years probation and will enter a rehab center for the wealthy. Bet he learns his lesson now, huh?

Another charter school raid

This one, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Some more of that great for-profit education!

BATON ROUGE – FBI agents raided a charter school today in East Baton Rouge Parish.

An FBI spokesperson could only confirm that agents were at the Kenilworth Science and Technology School on Boone Avenue for a matter not related to public safety. News 2 crews saw FBI agents taking boxes of items out of the school on dollies and loading them into vans.

The charter school is operated by the Pelican Educational Foundation, which in 2011 lost its charter to operate the Abramson Science and Technology Center in New Orleans after allegations of rape and sexual incidents between students.

The school would not comment on today’s raid.

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