Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 17th, 2019

Trump throws kids’ lives under the bus in hopes of being re-elected

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“Who cares whether kids die, so long as I don’t risk losing any votes?” President Trump implicitly asks. Annie Karni, Maggie Haberman, and Sheila Kaplan report in the NY Times:

It was a swift and bold reaction to a growing public health crisis affecting teenagers. Seated in the Oval Office in September, President Trump said he was moving to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes as vaping among young people continued to rise.

“We can’t have our kids be so affected,” Mr. Trump said. The first lady, Melania Trump, who rarely involves herself publicly with policy announcements in the White House, was there, too. “She’s got a son,” Mr. Trump noted, referring to their teenager, Barron. “She feels very strongly about it.”

But two months later, under pressure from his political advisers and lobbyists to factor in the potential pushback from his supporters, Mr. Trump has resisted moving forward with any action on vaping, while saying he still wants to study the issue.

Even a watered-down ban on flavored e-cigarettes that exempted menthol, which was widely expected, appears to have been set aside, for now.

On a flight on Nov. 4, while traveling to a political rally in Kentucky, Mr. Trump was swayed by the advisers who warned him of political repercussions to any sweeping restrictions. Reviewing talking points on the ban aboard the plane with advisers, Mr. Trump decided to cancel the administration’s rollout of an announcement, which included a news conference that Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, was planning to hold on the issue the next day. Instead, another meeting was proposed.

The discussion aboard the Nov. 4 flight was first reported by The Washington Post.

White House officials pushing for action were still holding out hope that there would be an announcement of a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, with an exemption for menthol, last week.

The proposed ban had gathered significant support earlier this fall, as the crisis over teenage vaping, with year-over-year increases, coincided with a sprawling outbreak of severe lung injuries. While most of the illnesses, now affecting more than 2,000 people and causing more than 40 deaths, have been attributed to vaping THC products, the e-cigarette industry also became the target of criticism for luring minors into using its products.

A lack of federal action prompted several states to try to institute bans on flavored e-cigarettes, spurring the vaping and tobacco industries to mount legal challenges and lobby lawmakers and the White House against regulatory restrictions that would impede adult e-smokers.

Juul Labs, the largest seller of e-cigarettes in the country and the target of several federal investigations, had taken most of its flavors off the market in anticipation of a national flavor ban. The company had said that its mint-flavored pods made up about 70 percent of its sales; menthol was 10 percent; and two tobacco flavors accounted for 20 percent. But many other look-alikes, in flavors like chai and melon, have sprung up to fill the void left by Juul’s actions. . .

Continue reading.

The Washinton Post report from Josh Dawsey and Laurie McGinley:

Everything seemed ready to go: President Trump’s ban on most flavored e-cigarettes had been cleared by federal regulators. Officials were poised to announce they would order candy, fruit and mint flavors off the market within 30 days — a step the president had promised almost two months earlier to quell a youth vaping epidemic that had ensnared 5 million teenagers.

One last thing was needed: Trump’s sign-off. But on Nov. 4, the night before a planned morning news conference, the president balked. Briefed on a flight to a Lexington, Ky., campaign rally, he refused to sign the one-page “decision memo,” saying he didn’t want to move forward with a ban he had once backed, primarily at his wife’s and daughter’s urging, because he feared it would lead to job losses, said a Trump adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations.

As he had done so many times before, Trump reversed course — this time on a plan to address a major public health problem because of worries that apoplectic vape shop owners and their customers might hurt his reelection prospects, said White House and campaign officials. He also believed job losses tied to the ban would cost him as he sought to trumpet economic growth. It was the latest example of the chaotic way policy is made — and sometimes unmade — in a White House where the ultimate decider often switches gears after making a controversial vow, whether on combating gun violence, pulling troops from Syria or promising to deliver an Obamacare replacement plan.

Officials said the blowback to Trump’s vow to ban most flavored e-cigarettes had rattled him. In an aggressive social media campaign — #IVapeIVote — advocates claimed the ban would shut down thousands of shops, eliminating jobs and sending vapers back to cigarettes. The president saw protesters at events and read critical articles. His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, privately warned the ban could hurt him in battleground states, said a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Trump was now upset with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who had taken the lead in rolling out the plan, said three officials familiar with the discussions.

“He didn’t know much about the issue and was just doing it for Melania and Ivanka,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share the discussions.

In recent months, the president’s wife and daughter, who had become increasingly alarmed about youth vaping, were pressing him to take action.

An HHS spokeswoman declined to comment on the vaping deliberations.

Whether or when the administration will unveil a new policy to combat underage vaping is now unclear

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2019 at 8:34 pm

“Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories”

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I seem to be on a Japanese gastronomic kick. I found the food portrayed in “Samurai Gourmet” to be very appealing indeed, and now I’m watching “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories” with the same appreciation. Both series have 25-minute episodes, so they move right along. And the food is mouth-watering.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2019 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Food, Movies & TV

Lentils 101

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And a tasty looking recipe for veggie burgers:

And a different veggie burger:

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2019 at 2:51 pm

“Lady in the Dark” and some memories of it

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In the late 1930’s Moss Hart (a frequent collaborator with George S. Kaufman, whose father Gustav Kaufman was involved in the invention of the Ferris wheel) underwent psychoanalysis, something that few people at the time had heard of and something that was generally not discussed. He, however, was quite impressed and wrote a Broadway musical derived from his experience, Lady in the Dark (1941), with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. The play was subsequently made into the movie Lady in the Dark (1944), starring Ginger Rogers, Danny Kaye, and others.

Hart’s autobiography, Act One, is a good read.

Danny Kaye has a marvelous patter song made of up of the names of Russian composers. Legend has it that Ira Gershwin got the names by going through the sheet music on his brother George Gershwin’s piano. The song occurs in a dream sequence in which the protagonist, Liza Elliott, the unhappy female editor of a fashion magazine, Allure, who is undergoing psychoanalysis, is (in the dream) on trial (as explained in the second clip). In the play, a Russian composer (Tchaikovsky) is named, and…

The title is “Tschaikowsky (and Other Russians,” using the spelling Gershwin preferred (the German transliteration of the name). The song (lyrics here) was cut for the movie, but they did keep one of my favorite songs from Lady in the Dark, “The Saga of Jenny,” also in the trial dream sequence, here from the movie version with Ginger Rogers:

One effect of the musical was to bring psychoanalysis and its ideas into the national conversation.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2019 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Books, Movies & TV, Music

Benford’s law and its applications

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I’ve blogged before about Benford’s law (PDF), but that was 11 years ago. I imagine now that accounting and other financial control systems as well as data analysis (statistical) programs must surely include routines that check the validity of the data by looking at the distribution of the high-order digits of the entries.

It’s an interesting paper, in any case.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2019 at 12:10 pm

Dental health and general wellness

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I was rebuked by my dental hygienist at my most recent tooth cleaning for not doing a better job, and I got to thinking. I googled “dental health heart disease.” Take a look at some of those articles. Sobering, eh? Also, look at “Links between oral health and general health the case for action” (PDF — and thanks to Eddie of Australia for the link).

The hygienist said that I must brush at least twice a day and floss once (at night, just before bed). So I added pop-up reminders to my iPhone/computer calendar. Always before, I have simply relied on resolution. Resolution fades, but pop-ups persist: they buzz up every day at the assigned time, and they turn out to work very well (in combination with the articles at the links above).

FWIW, the dental hygienist said that dental tape is pretty much worthless — use dental floss — and she recommended GUM Expanding Floss.

And Eddie mentioned this product, which has excellent reviews so I’m going to give it a go. He specifically suggested their starter kit, which includes the remineralizing, whitening tooth powder.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2019 at 8:25 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

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