March 6, 2019

*Gallup: Trust in Fed. Govt’s Ability to Handle Problems ‘Lowest to Date’:

Gallup poll published on Jan. 31 revealed that Americans’ trust in the federal government’s ability to handle both domestic and international problems is at its “lowest” since Gallup began consistently asking that question more than two decades ago, in 1997. Only 41 percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the government’s ability to handle international issues, and only 35 percent trust its ability to handle domestic issues.

These numbers have decreased substantially since September 2018, when 50 percent of Americans trusted the government’s ability to handle international problems and 45 percent trusted its ability to handle domestic problems.

*Scarlett Johansson Gets Candid About The Deepfake Porn Phenomenon: ‘Useless’ To Regulate It:

Fighting the phenomenon of deepfake porn is a “useless” pursuit, according to actress Scarlett Johansson, who has seen her face grafted onto dozens of online porn videos by highly-advanced artificial intelligence software. Speaking with The Washington Post, Scarlett Johansson candidly admitted that the internet, especially the Dark Web, has become such an abysmal blackhole of depravity that regulating deepfake porn videos out of existence is close to impossible.

“I think it’s a useless pursuit, legally, mostly because the internet is a vast wormhole of darkness that eats itself,” said Johansson. “There are far more disturbing things on the dark web than this, sadly. I think it’s up to an individual to fight for their own right to the their image, claim damages, etc.” Johansson’s concern, however, is not with how the deepfake porn revolution affects herself or other celebrities, but how it will affect women who have absolutely no public capital to protect their image.

 *Least-Educated State: California No. 1 in Percentage of Residents 25 and Older Who Never Finished 9th Grade; No. 50 in High School Graduates:

California ranks No. 1 among the 50 states for the percentage of its residents 25 and older who have never completed ninth grade and 50th for the percentage who have graduated from high school, according to new data from the Census Bureau.

Texas ranks No. 2 for the percentage of its residents 25 and older who have never completed ninth grade and 49th for the percentage who have graduated from high school.

9.7 percent of California residents 25 and older, the Census Bureau says, never completed ninth grade. Only 82.5 percent graduated from high school.

8.7 percent of Texas residents 25 and older never completed ninth grade, and only 82.8 percent graduated from high school.

 *Third Of Americans Can’t Even Name All 4 Grandparents, Survey Finds:

How much do you know about your family tree? For many folks, it’s not very much. A recent survey finds that a third of Americans can’t even name all four of their grandparents, incredibly.

While DNA kits that trace one’s ancestry have surged in popularity over the years, there are still plenty of people who don’t seem to care too much about where they came from. The survey of 2,000 Americans showed that a third of respondents struggled to climb the branches of their family tree beyond their grandparents.

One in five couldn’t even name one of their great-grandparents.

 *Only 31% of Catholics Give Clergy’s Honesty, Ethical Standards
‘High’ Marks:

In the wake of more revelations about sexual abuse of young people by Catholic clergy — among other scandals — a new survey shows that only 31% of Catholics give their clergy “very high” or “high” marks for their honesty and ethical standards.

This percentage is down from 49% in 2017, an 18-percentage-point drop in one year. In the survey, Gallup asked, “Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields — very high, high, average, low or very low? How about clergy?”

For Catholics, 31% said “high/very high.” For Protestants, 48% said “high/very high.”


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Regarding socialism, just 18 percent of all Americans say they view the term positively, versus 50 percent who see it in a negative light.


There’s a lot of gold in the ocean, both dissolved in the water and on the sea floor. Unfortunately, there’s no economically feasible way of mining it. If we could, there’d be enough for each person on Earth to have nine pounds of pure gold.


Juul is trying to rehabilitate its image as one of Silicon Valley’s most problematic start-ups.


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Michael D. Finn, Founder of the Finn Law Group, Explains the “Unconscionable Suppression” of the
Timeshare Market

Michael D. Finn, the founder of Finn Law Group, has been a practicing attorney for over 40 years, working on behalf of consumers with real estate, timeshare and fractional ownership issues. In addition, he’s been able to assist clients with mortgage modifications, foreclosure defense and bankruptcy alternatives. Now, the talented attorney shares his views on the “unconscionable suppression” of the timeshare market.

“What’s the difference between a used car and a used timeshare? Value,” states Finn, “A continuously maintained large timeshare unit in a nice resort does not retain its ‘value,’ while a four-year-old sedan with over 50,000 miles on it could be easily resold in the secondary vehicle market with a recovery of over half of its original cost.”

This cavernous disparity in values occurs because there are relatively healthy secondary markets for many consumer products and next to none for timeshares. If someone takes a look at the timeshare industry’s tightfisted control of their markets, where no viable secondary market is permitted to exist, let alone thrive or prosper, they will begin to understand the complexity of the issue. For example, each and every one of the timeshare developers who file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission to support their public filing requirements have included language in each of their filings that specifically addresses the secondary resale market as a threat to their bottom line. A direct quote from Bluegreen’s SEC filing states, “The resale market for VOIs [vacation ownership interest] could adversely affect our business.”

A strong resale market will strengthen the industry. There is no better time than now to make the important and essential changes that might, in the short term, slow down profitability, but in the long term, turn the timeshare industry into a more socially responsible and far more sustainable industry for decades to come.

“Timeshare developers should take a hard look at themselves and their industry,” concludes Finn, “Take pride, not just profit, from making family vacations an affordable part of the American lifestyle by opening up that opportunity to even more folks.”


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Welcome to Episode # 1 of the revealing TV show “Without Notes” with Eliad Moreh-Rosenberg, curator of the Holocaust Museum in Israel – Episode 1: The Early Years:


(Dr. Srini Pillay is a Harvard psychiatrist, former brain researcher and author of “Tinker Dabble Doodle Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind.”):

The psychological challenges that jurors face are well-known. They range from depression to anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder.  After hearing testimony about live burials and 13 year-old girls being raped and considered ‘El Chapo’s’ vitamins, who can expect otherwise? In fact, for trials as long and intense as the “El Chapo” trial, 86-96 percent of people have reported feeling stressed, “numb and detached” and “tense.” The stress comes from worrying, having to concentrate, tolerating monotony, and making decisions.

While many of these symptoms may strike one as “all in a day’s work”, when the jury makes decisions in the ‘El Chapo’ case, there is one big concern that will impact decision-making: the ego-depletion effect. Formally known as self-regulation depletion (SRD), this phenomenon refers to brains that “switch off” when there is too much emotion to process or when a situation demands too much attention. After hearing 200 hours of testimony, emotional fatigue and distorted thinking is to be expected.

It is a well-known fact that the “anxiety” and “thinking” circuits in the brain interact. Anxiety makes the brain over-focus on threat and biases how we make decisions. And when the jurors worry excessively, they will be less likely to tolerate risk as well. In the “El Chapo” case, juror anxiety will be high. Freezing, fleeing, or even avoiding making a decision is to be expected. No wonder the first day of jury deliberations ended in no verdict.

We live in a world obsessed by focus. And we erroneously believe that continuous focus will help us gather more data and interpret that data more effectively too. Yet, after three months of deliberation on the case, it would be inhuman to expect jurors to think clearly. As frivolous as brain breaks may sound, they will significantly ameliorate the disastrous consequences of SRD.  And a fair and just trial for “El Chapo will be much more likely too.

Once upon a time, fakers posed as heroes and winners. Rosie Ruiz pretended to win the Boston MarathonRichard Blumenthal said he served in Vietnam. And Frank Abagnaleof Catch Me If You Can fame pretended to be a pilot and a doctor. Those were the good old days, when Willie sang about how his heroes had always been cowboys. Today, everyone wants to play the victim. It’s worth asking: Why?

The answer, of course, is a culture that rewards and honors them.

I start with the pain. A couple times a week I give a speech somewhere in the country about social isolation and social fragmentation. Very often a parent comes up to me afterward and says, “My daughter took her life when she was 14.” Or, “My son died of an overdose when he was 20.” Their eyes flood with tears. I don’t know what to say. I squeeze a shoulder just to try to be present with them, but the crying does not stop. As it turns to weeping they rush out of the auditorium and I am left with my own futility. What can I say to these parents? What can I say to the parents still around who don’t yet know they may soon become those parents?

This kind of pain is an epidemic in our society. When you cover the sociology beat as I do, you see other kinds of pain. The African-American woman in Greenville who is indignant because young black kids in her neighborhood face injustice just as gross as she did in 1953. The college student in the Midwest who is convinced that she is the only one haunted by compulsive thoughts about her own worthlessness. The Trump-supporting small-business man in Louisiana who silently clenches his fists in rage as guests at a dinner party disparage his whole way of life. These different kinds of pain share a common thread: our lack of healthy connection to each other, our inability to see the full dignity of each other, and the resulting culture of fear, distrust, tribalism, shaming and strife.