For the first time in its 175 year history, Scientific American endorses a presidential candidate

By THE EDITORS | Scientific American

Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.

The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.

The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic in the U.S. He was warned many times in January and February about the onrushing disease, yet he did not develop a national strategy to provide protective equipment, coronavirus testing or clear health guidelines. Testing people for the virus, and tracing those they may have infected, is how countries in Europe and Asia have gained control over their outbreaks, saved lives, and successfully reopened businesses and schools. But in the U.S., Trump claimed, falsely, that “anybody that wants a test can get a test.” That was untrue in March and remained untrue through the summer. Trump opposed $25 billion for increased testing and tracing that was in a pandemic relief bill as late as July. These lapses accelerated the spread of disease through the country—particularly in highly vulnerable communities that include people of color, where deaths climbed disproportionately to those in the rest of the population.

It wasn’t just a testing problem: if almost everyone in the U.S. wore masks in public, it could save about 66,000 lives by the beginning of December, according to projections from the University of Washington School of Medicine. Such a strategy would hurt no one. It would close no business. It would cost next to nothing. But Trump and his vice president flouted local mask rules, making it a point not to wear masks themselves in public appearances. Trump has openly supported people who ignored governors in Michigan and California and elsewhere as they tried to impose social distancing and restrict public activities to control the virus. He encouraged governors in Florida, Arizona and Texas who resisted these public health measures, saying in April—again, falsely—that “the worst days of the pandemic are behind us” and ignoring infectious disease experts who warned at the time of a dangerous rebound if safety measures were loosened.

And of course, the rebound came, with cases across the nation rising by 46 percent and deaths increasing by 21 percent in June. The states that followed Trump’s misguidance posted new daily highs and higher percentages of positive tests than those that did not. By early July several hospitals in Texas were full of COVID-19 patients. States had to close up again, at tremendous economic cost. About 31 percent of workers were laid off a second time, following the giant wave of unemployment—more than 30 million people and countless shuttered businesses—that had already decimated the country. At every stage, Trump has rejected the unmistakable lesson that controlling the disease, not downplaying it, is the path to economic reopening and recovery.

Trump repeatedly lied to the public about the deadly threat of the disease, saying it was not a serious concern and “this is like a flu​” when he knew it was more lethal and highly transmissible, according to his taped statements to journalist Bob Woodward. His lies encouraged people to engage in risky behavior, spreading the virus further, and have driven wedges between Americans who take the threat seriously and those who believe Trump’s falsehoods. The White House even produced a memo attacking the expertise of the nation’s leading infectious disease physician, Anthony Fauci, in a despicable attempt to sow further distrust.

Trump’s reaction to America’s worst public health crisis in a century has been to say “I don’t take responsibility at all.” Instead he blamed other countries and his White House predecessor, who left office three years before the pandemic began.

But Trump’s refusal to look at the evidence and act accordingly extends beyond the virus. He has repeatedly tried to get rid of the Affordable Care Act while offering no alternative; comprehensive medical insurance is essential to reduce illness. Trump has proposed billion-dollar cuts to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agencies that increase our scientific knowledge and strengthen us for future challenges. Congress has countermanded his reductions. Yet he keeps trying, slashing programs that would ready us for future pandemics and withdrawing from the World Health Organization. These and other actions increase the risk that new diseases will surprise and devastate us again.

Trump also keeps pushing to eliminate health rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, putting people at more risk for heart and lung disease caused by pollution. He has replaced scientists on agency advisory boards with industry representatives. In his ongoing denial of reality, Trump has hobbled U.S. preparations for climate change, falsely claiming that it does not exist and pulling out of international agreements to mitigate it. The changing climate is already causing a rise in heat-related deaths and an increase in severe storms, wildfires and extreme flooding.

Joe Biden, in contrast, comes prepared with plans to control COVID-19, improve health care, reduce carbon emissions and restore the role of legitimate science in policy making. He solicits expertise and has turned that knowledge into solid policy proposals.

On COVID-19, he states correctly that “it is wrong to talk about ‘choosing’ between our public health and our economy…. If we don’t beat the virus, we will never get back to full economic strength.” Biden plans to ramp up a national testing board, a body that would have the authority to command both public and private resources to supply more tests and get them to all communities. He also wants to establish a Public Health Job Corps of 100,000 people, many of whom have been laid off during the pandemic crisis, to serve as contact tracers and in other health jobs. He will direct the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to enforce workplace safety standards to avoid the kind of deadly outbreaks that have occurred at meat-processing plants and nursing homes. While Trump threatened to withhold money from school districts that did not reopen, regardless of the danger from the virus, Biden wants to spend $34 billion to help schools conduct safe in-person instruction as well as remote learning.

Biden is getting advice on these public health issues from a group that includes David Kessler, epidemiologist, pediatrician and former U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief; Rebecca Katz, immunologist and global health security specialist at Georgetown University; and Ezekiel Emanuel, bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. It does not include physicians who believe in aliens and debunked virus therapies, one of whom Trump has called “very respected” and “spectacular.”

Biden has a family and caregiving initiative, recognizing this as key to a sustained public health and economic recovery. His plans include increased salaries for child care workers and construction of new facilities for children because the inability to afford quality care keeps workers out of the economy and places enormous strains on families.

On the environment and climate change, Biden wants to spend $2 trillion on an emissions-free power sector by 2035, build energy-efficient structures and vehicles, push solar and wind power, establish research agencies to develop safe nuclear power and carbon capture technologies, and more. The investment will produce two million jobs for U.S. workers, his campaign claims, and the climate plan will be partly paid by eliminating Trump’s corporate tax cuts. Historically disadvantaged communities in the U.S. will receive 40 percent of these energy and infrastructure benefits.

It is not certain how many of these and his other ambitions Biden will be able to accomplish; much depends on laws to be written and passed by Congress. But he is acutely aware that we must heed the abundant research showing ways to recover from our present crises and successfully cope with future challenges.

Although Trump and his allies have tried to create obstacles that prevent people from casting ballots safely in November, either by mail or in person, it is crucial that we surmount them and vote. It’s time to move Trump out and elect Biden, who has a record of following the data and being guided by science.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientific-american-endorses-joe-biden/

Why the giant heads of 43 presidents are sitting in a field in Virginia

by MARY JO DILONARDO

They stand in rows in a Virginia field, kind of a White House version of Easter Island. There are 43 concrete busts of most of the U.S. presidents — from George Washington to George W. Bush. Towering at an average of about 20 feet and weighing as much as 22,000 pounds, this is an elementary school student’s history class nightmare.

The presidential heads once were on display at Presidents Park in York County, near Williamsburg. The 10-acre park featured a museum and a sculpture garden where visitors could stroll among the presidential busts while reading about each man’s accomplishments.

The park was open from 2004 to 2010, according to “All the Presidents’ Heads,” a documentary about the giant creations. When the park closed, the heads sat abandoned for several years until new developers bought the property. They were putting in a rental car business and asked Howard Hankins, who owned a local waste management company, to haul the statues away and destroy them.

“Instead of going into the crusher, I brought them up to the farm and there they are in their new home,” Hankins says in the documentary, which you can watch at the bottom of the file.

It took 10 men more than three weeks to lug the statues to Hankins’ farm in Croaker, Virginia, about 10 miles from their original home in Presidents Park. The ordeal cost Hankins about $50,000 and several of the presidents were “injured” in the process.

Since 2013, the heads have sat, relatively undisturbed on the farm. Weeds have grown up between them, and Hankins says frogs and snakes share the field with the former leaders.

“You almost feel they’re looking at you the way the sculptor did the work on them,” Hankins says. “It’s an overwhelming feeling being next to these giants of men who represented our country and built this strong country we live in.”

Although the farm is private property and not open to the public, Hankins hopes to once again share the presidents with the people. He has partnered with photographer and historian John Plashal to provide tours of the busts. There is also a crowdfunding campaign to restore and transport the massive sculptures somewhere for public viewing.

In various media interviews, Hankins has said he needs to raise $1.5 million to preserve the sculptures and have them moved and reset.

“It meant a lot to me to preserve history. I would love to find the means to build an educational park for our kids to come to from all over the country,” Hankins says. “I really want to do something with these guys. If I have to leave them here, this would really disappoint me.”

https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/blogs/43-giant-heads-presidents-field-virginia?utm_source=Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3ddc2ee848-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_FRI0503_2019&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fcbff2e256-3ddc2ee848-40844241

In 1995 Walmart banned a T-shirt saying ‘a woman will be president’

woman-t-shirt

By Lindsey Bever

In 1933, Ann Moliver Ruben said her cousin, Irwin, told her that a girl could never be president.

Decades later, corporate America, it seemed, was trying to tell her the same thing. Ruben, a psychologist from Pittsburgh, had been studying children’s perceptions of women leaders in the 1990s when she stumbled upon a “Dennis the Menace” comic strip in a Sunday newspaper — an episode in which a young, curly-haired feminist named Margaret told him: “Someday a woman will be president!”

Ruben put the slogan on T-shirts and sold them to a Walmart store in Florida, which pulled them from the shelves in the ’90s. According to Ruben, Walmart said that “the message went against their philosophy of family values.”

Walmart did not confirm that the message went against its philosophy of family values, but said it went against its policy of philosophy of political neutrality, according to the Miami Herald.

Following a nationwide uproar, Walmart put them back — and, Ruben said, she later created a new version with a second message on the back: “Someday is now.”

Ruben, a 91-year-old women’s rights advocate, said that “someday” came Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention when Hillary Clinton became the first female presidential nominee for a major party.

“I’ve been waiting 83 years to see what happened yesterday,” she told The Washington Post on Wednesday in a phone interview. “This is a wonderful time in our history, and I thank God I’ve lived to see it happen.”

Clinton is scheduled to formally accept the nomination on Thursday, but in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, she addressed the crowd at the Democratic National Convention at an unprecedented moment in history.

Photos flashed across a jumbotron, showing each of the nation’s 44 presidents — all men and all but one of them white. Then it showed Clinton, breaking through glass.

“I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet,” Clinton said, adding: “If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say: I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”

Breaking glass ceilings

Over the decades, Ruben has broken her own glass ceilings. During World War II, she was starting a family and praying for her husband’s safe return from battles overseas while earning a college education at a time when most women did not do that. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh — then a master’s in counseling and psychology, and a doctorate in higher education and psychology, according to her website.

“My father told me, ‘Annie, you’re very smart, and whatever you decide to do in your life, you’re going to be successful. So don’t ever give up, Annie,'” she told The Post. “I heard him loud and clear, and that gave me the incentive.”

For years, Ruben was a psychology professor in Florida before she went into private practice, where she said she focused on providing family therapy.

In 1993, Ruben began studying children’s attitudes toward women leaders, surveying 1,500 elementary school students in Miami. She found that nearly half of them believed that only men could be president, according to an article in the Miami Herald the next year.

“The girls who finished the survey were sad,” she told the newspaper at the time. “It was clear that if they’re going to do anything, they’ll have to do it themselves. They can’t count on boys who grow up to be men to help them.”

Ruben created a company called Women are Wonderful Inc., and started selling T-shirts to raise girls’ self-esteem, according to a 1995 report in the Herald.

“I don’t want girls to believe what I grew up believing — that a girl can never be president,” she told the newspaper.

Indeed, more than 20 years ago, it was Ruben’s inspirational T-shirts, based on a cartoon, that created a flap, exposing tension between competing ideals.

‘No girls allowed’

The 1993 “Dennis the Menace” comic showed Dennis building a clubhouse. No girls were allowed. Margaret attempted to school him on all the things girls could do, including growing up to become president.

Ruben said she called the cartoon’s creator, Hank Ketcham, and then got permission from King Features Syndicate to use the frame for a T-shirt.

She sold several dozen to a Walmart store in Miramar, a city in South Florida, but the company pulled the shirts after some customers complained that the message was too political.

“It was determined the T-shirt was offensive to some people and so the decision was made to pull it from the sales floor,” Walmart spokeswoman Jane Bockholt told the Associated Press in September 1995.

Ruben told the news agency at the time that she saw it as a sign that “promoting females as leaders is still a very threatening concept in this country.”

“It’s a tragedy,” she told the Miami Herald at the time. “I think it’s a barometer of the prejudices against females in our society.”

‘We overreacted’

Ruben told The Washington Post on Wednesday that she put one of the T-shirts on her 8-month-old grandson, boosted him atop her shoulders and went to see an Associated Press reporter to get out her story.

The wire version went into newspapers across the country, Ruben said, and women were soon flooding Walmart’s phone lines to voice their concerns.

Ruben said women with the Miami chapter of the American Association of University Women, of which she was a member, marched in protest. Jackie DeFazio, who was AAUW president at the time, wrote a letter to the company’s CEO, saying, “Believing in girls’ potential is neither offensive to the public nor adverse to the family values,” according to an article from the group’s membership magazine.

Almost immediately, Walmart representatives admitted they “made a mistake.”

“A few customers complained about the political nature of the shirts, and we overreacted,” Jay Allen, a spokesman for Walmart, told the Miami Herald in 1995. “That’s what we tend to do when it comes to customers’ concerns. We overreact.

“We should have never pulled the shirts from the shelves in the first place.”

Ruben told the Miami Herald in December 1995 that since the incident, she had received 50,000 orders from women’s groups and other companies, and another 30,000 orders from Walmart, which said it heard customers “loud and clear” and stocked more than 2,000 stores.

“Wow, it still pains us that we made this mistake 20 years ago,” Danit Marquardt, director of corporate communications for Walmart, told The Post on Wednesday in a statement. “We’re proud of the fact that our country — and our company — has made so much progress in advancing women in the workplace, and in society.”

Ruben, it seems, is still a “Dennis the Menace” fan, especially when it comes to illustrating politics.

In March, she penned a letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, asking fellow readers, “Would Dennis vote for Donald Trump?”

She wrote:

My husband, of blessed memory, loved the cartoon created by Hank Ketcham called “Dennis the Menace.” Never did a Sunday go by that reading Dennis didn’t give him a laugh. But I wonder if my Gershon Ruben were living today, would he laugh and see how much his 5-year-old Dennis resembles the guy who wants to be president today, Donald Trump?

I see so many similarities that it truly makes me want to laugh, but instead I cry. That Donald, acting like Dennis, is the Republican front-runner in the polls this election year makes me feel that a lot of us are nuts.

As for Clinton, Ruben told The Post, “when she’s sworn in in D.C. in January, I’m going to be there and I’m going to be wearing my T-shirt.”

Ruben said if she could pass along one message to young girls today, it would be one similar to what her father told her many years ago.

“You’re smart. Get educated. Don’t ever give up on your dream and you’ll make it,” she said. “Hillary made it. She never gave up on her dream.

“We now have a wonderful role model.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/07/27/that-time-walmart-banned-a-t-shirt-saying-a-woman-will-be-president/