It’s an easy A for Jerry Brown in his final two terms as governor of California – By GEORGE SKELTON DEC 24, 2018 | 12:05 AM | SACRAMENTO

It's an easy A for Jerry Brown in his final two terms as governor of California
Gov. Jerry Brown listens to a question during an appearance at the Sacramento Press Club on Tuesday. Brown, a Democrat, will leave office Jan. 7 after serving a record four terms. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

It’s time to grade Gov. Jerry Brown, who’s packing his thousands of books and leaving the Capitol campus for good.

No need to think twice. He earned an A for his final two terms as governor.

For his 34 years in five elective offices, including a record 16 as governor? He deserves an A for all that too. Give it to him for durability alone.

“Perhaps Gov. Jerry Brown’s most important contribution…was to restore public confidence in state government,” Mark Baldassare, president of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, wrote last week.

Baldassare, who’s also the policy institute’s pollster, bases that glowing praise on approval ratings for Brown and the Legislature, and also the citizens’ view that the state is headed in the right direction.

His latest poll shows 51% of California adults approving of Brown’s job performance, with only 31% disapproving. That’s 10 points higher than when he returned to the governor’s mansion in 2011.

Brown’s job rating has never slipped below 47%, Baldassare says, despite tax increases and controversies over such heated issues as the bullet train and state protections for immigrants living here illegally. The Legislature’s approval rating is 47%, up from the teens several years ago.

“Perhaps the Legislature rode the coattails of Brown’s success,” Baldassare writes. “Brown and the Legislature took the drama out of the annual budget process.”

That’s giving the governor and the Legislature way too much credit in my view.

What finally ended summer budget gridlock in Sacramento was voter passage of a 2010 ballot measure. It reduced a two-thirds legislative vote requirement for budget passage to a simple majority. That, more than anything else, polished the Legislature’s tarnished image and helped Brown succeed.

Here are some things Brown did in his last two terms:

— Budget: When he came to office, the state budget was bleeding $27 billion in red ink, a deficit caused by the recession. Brown leaves with a projected $15-billion surplus, plus a $14.5-billion rainy day reserve.

Credit three things: The national economic rebound, Brown’s keeping Democratic spenders in check and his persuading voters to greatly increase income taxes on the wealthy. That tax hike is expected to generate $8.3 billion this fiscal year.

What California really needs is to update its tax system, which is way too reliant on rich people’s incomes. When the inevitable recession hits, their capital gains nosedive and state revenue dwindles. Crucial state programs are whacked. To reduce the revenue volatility, we need to flatten the income tax and extend the sales tax to certain services, such as legal.

Brown dismissed that notion as politically impractical in an interview last week.

“Put the ‘Skelton tax’ on the ballot and it’d be a loser,” he told me. He scoffed at the idea of telling the middle class it would have to pay higher income taxes in order to lower levies on the rich “so there’ll be less volatility in the tax system.”

It wouldn’t need to be done that way, but there was no interest by Brown in trying.

— Climate change: Brown unquestionably has been a world leader in trying to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, he signed legislation to reduce petroleum use in vehicles 50% by 2030.

— Highways: He maneuvered legislative passage of a gas tax increase to raise $5 billion a year for highway repairs and other transportation improvements. Then he led the successful fight against a repeal effort on the November ballot.

— School funding: He pushed through legislation changing the K-12 spending formula to provide extra money for low-income students and English learners.

— Prisons: Under orders from three liberal federal judges, Brown greatly reduced the state prison population by locking up more criminals in county jails. Sentences also were lowered.

Brown fought the judges, but acknowledges that their intervention was “a very good thing. Without them, there’d be massive overcrowding.

“That’s proof of the wisdom of separation of powers,” he added. “The judiciary can stop a state from doing what it wants.”

Brown has been a lifelong opponent of the death penalty. But when there were ballot measures in 2012 and 2016 to abolish capital punishment, he didn’t endorse either and they lost. I asked him why at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon last week.

“The essence of leadership is knowing when to hold and when to fold, when to move forward and when to stay still,” he answered. “I’ve focused on reforming criminal justice.”

What Brown didn’t say was that in 2012 his “soak the rich” tax hike was on the ballot, and in 2016 he was pushing a proposition to overhaul criminal sentencing. He figured that wading into the death penalty fight might jeopardize his ballot propositions.

Brown’s a skilled political practitioner and as feisty at age 80 as he was when he first became governor at 36.

Asked at the press club about the fate of his embattled bullet train and Delta twin-tunnel projects after he’s gone, Brown answered without hesitation: “They will be built.” Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom wants to scale back both projects.

I asked Brown how the $77-billion bullet train — way over budget and far behind schedule — could possibly be paid for. “Easy,” he said: The federal government must kick in.

And the $17-billion water tunnels?

“Listen, George, I know you don’t like the tunnels,” he said. “But without the tunnels the Delta will die.”

It may die as a plumbing fixture, but not as a recreational haven and the largest estuary on the West Coast, a vital producer of salmon and steelhead.

There are Brown policies many of us don’t like. But he fully participated in the democratic process rather than use his family connections and talent to make a mint in the private sector.

He enjoyed public service and making a difference, instead of just complaining. For the civic contribution alone, he deserves an A.

And the unfailing entertainment will be missed.

George Skelton

Political columnist George Skelton has covered government and politics for more than 50 years and for The Times since 1974. He has been a Times political writer and editor in Los Angeles, Sacramento bureau chief and White House correspondent. He has written a column on California politics, “Capitol Journal,” since 1993. Skelton is a Santa Barbara native, grew up in Ojai and received a journalism degree at San Jose State.

Roberts, Leader of Supreme Court’s Conservative Majority, Fights Perception That It Is Partisan – Dec. 23, 2018

“We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans,” he has said, a theme he has returned to while trying to strike a delicate balance as the chief justice.

WASHINGTON — In his first 13 years on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s main challenge was trying to assemble five votes to move the court to the right, though there were only four reliably conservative justices.

Now he faces a very different problem. With the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and his replacement by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, the chief justice has the votes he needs on issues like abortion, racial discrimination, religion and voting. At the same time, he has taken Justice Kennedy’s place as the swing vote at the court’s ideological center, making him the most powerful chief justice in 80 years.

But all of that new power comes at a dangerous time for the court, whose legitimacy depends on the public perception that it is not a partisan institution. “We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans,” Chief Justice Roberts said in 2016, and he reiterated that position in an extraordinary rebuke of President Trump last month.

He seemed to underscore that point again on Friday, joining the court’s four-member liberal wing, all appointed by Democratic presidents, to reject a requestfrom the Trump administration in a case that could upend decades of asylum policy. This month, he drew sharp criticism from three conservative colleagues for voting to deny review in two cases on efforts to stop payments to Planned Parenthood.

The Trump administration has tested the chief justice with a series of applications and petitions asking the court to ignore its ordinary procedures in cases on issues like the census and climate change. After what has often appeared to be intense behind-the-scenes negotiations, Chief Justice Roberts has so far assembled coalitions that mostly denied the requests, often over the dissents of two or three of his most conservative colleagues.

The court’s newest member, Justice Kavanaugh, did not note a dissent in any of those cases, suggesting that he was following Chief Justice Roberts’s lead. That changed on Friday in the asylum case, casting the new dynamic at the court into sharp relief.

Chief Justice Roberts was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2005 after Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died. Above, his swearing-in ceremony in 2005.Doug Mills/The New York Times

Chief Justice Roberts was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2005 after Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died. Above, his swearing-in ceremony in 2005.Doug Mills/The New York Times

Controlling the pace of change on a court whose conservative wing is eager to move fast will be the central problem of the next phase of Chief Justice Roberts’s tenure, said Daniel Epps, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

“If he’s smart, and he is, what he’s probably thinking is, ‘I do have a substantive agenda of things I want to accomplish. But it’s a lot easier to do that when the court retains its legitimacy. Let’s do as much as we can get away with, but maybe that’s a little less than some of my colleagues to my right think we can get away with,’” Professor Epps said.

Leading the court through an ideological minefield at a time of intense political partisanship will tax the leadership of Chief Justice Roberts, who has earned the respect if not affection of his colleagues during his time as the court’s leader. He is a skilled administrator with a light wit and exceptional legal skills. But some justices say they miss the “old chief” — Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, his predecessor, who had a knack for not taking himself too seriously.

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10 science stories in 2018 that made us go, “Whoa, that’s awesome” – Brian Resnick Dec 2018

Fat bears, a new kilogram, and the stunning power of trees: our favorite science stories from 2018.

Getty Images/EyeEm

As science journalists, we cover a huge range of phenomena — from the minute to the outer reaches of the universe. But the best stories of 2018 all had one thing in common: They hit us in the gut with a sense of awe.

These stories taught us about the incredible scale and power of distant objects in the universe, like a special type of galaxy called a blazar. They showed the ingenuity and compassion of fellow humans, like vaccinators trying to stop a deadly Ebola outbreak amid a war in central Africa and divers navigating a flooded Thai cave for a daring rescue.

Here are some of our favorite stories from the past year that, very simply, made us say “whoa.” They fan our excitement of science and the natural world and give us a glimpse into the future. We hope they’ll do the same for you.

The kilogram was redefined in terms of the Planck constant

Brian Resnick/Vox

In November, scientists from around the world met at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles, France, and voted to change the definition of a kilogram, tying it to the Planck constant, a universal, foundational concept in quantum mechanics.

That sounds incredibly nerdy. And it is. But what made us go “whoa” was not exactly the science behind this change (which is enormously impressive) but the philosophical victory it represents.

Until the change goes into effect in May, the kilogram has a very simple definition: It’s the mass of a hunk of platinum-iridium alloy, called “Big K,” that’s been housed at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sèvres, France, since 1889. That artifact is imperfect. It can get lost or stolen. There’s even evidence that it’s lost some mass over the years.

The kilogram is the world’s standard unit of mass, recognized universally, even in the United States. (The US’s pounds are technically defined in terms of kilograms.) By affixing the definition of it to a universal force of nature, we make it permanent — celestial even.

Scientists estimated the weight of all life on Earth

Just a small section of an awesome infographic. See the whole thing here.
Javier Zarracina/Vox

By weight, human beings are insignificant.

There are an estimated 550 gigatons of carbon of life in the world, according to a study published in May in PNAS. We humans make up less than 1 percent of that. (A gigaton is equal to 1 billion metric tons. A metric ton is 1,000 kilograms, or about 2,200 pounds.)

The “whoa” factor really kicks in when you see this data visualized. The graphic, by Vox’s Javier Zarracina, is a bit too large to post here, but you should check it out.

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Visions of a Better World – John Horgan December 2018

Noam Chomsky, Richard Dawkins, Martin Rees and others answer the question: What’s your utopia?

Visions of a Better World
Credit: Kiratsinh Jadeja Getty Images

Unless you are too stoned or enlightened to care, you are probably dissatisfied with the world as it is. In that case, you should have a vision of the world as you would like it to be. This better world is your utopia. That, at any rate, is the premise of a question I’ve been asking scientists and other thinkers lately: What’s your utopia?

I presented students’ responses to this question last year. This final column for 2018 (if aliens land in Central Park or CERN discovers a portal to a parallel universe, I’ll let major media handle it) offers responses from scientists and others I’ve interviewed lately. My hope is that these visions will cheer up readers bummed out by my previous post, “Dark Days.” See the end of the post for my utopia.

Noam Chomsky: I don’t have the talent to do more than to suggest what seem to me reasonable guidelines for a better future.  One might argue that Marx was too cautious in keeping to only a few general words about post-capitalist society, but he was right to recognize that it will have to be envisioned and developed by people who have liberated themselves from the bonds of illegitimate authority.

Richard Dawkins: My utopia is a world in which beliefs are based on evidence and morality is based on intelligent design—design by intelligent humans (or robots!). Neither beliefs nor morals should be based on gut feelings, or on ancient books, private revelations or priestly traditions.

Sheldon Solomon: Staying alive long enough to see that my children are relatively settled and economically secure and knowing that there’s a decent chance that the earth will not be reduced to a festering heap long before the sun explodes!

Sabine Hossenfelder: That we finally use scientific methods to restructure political and economic systems. The representative democracies that we have right now are entirely outdated and unable to cope with the complex problems which we must solve. We need new systems that better incorporate specialized knowledge and widely distributed information, and that better aggregate opinions. (I wrote about this in detail here.) It pains me a lot to think that my children will have to live through a phase of economic regress because we were too stupid and too slow to get our act together.

Scott Aaronson: Since I hang out with Singularity people so much, part of me reflexively responds: “utopia” could only mean an infinite number of sentient beings living in simulated paradises of their own choosing, racking up an infinite amount of utility.  If such a being wants challenge and adventure, then challenge and adventure is what it gets; if nonstop sex, then nonstop sex; if a proof of P≠NP, then a proof of P≠NP.  (Or the being could choose all three: it’s utopia, after all!)

Over a shorter time horizon, though, maybe the best I can do is talk about what I love and what I hate.  I love when the human race gains new knowledge, in math or history or anything else.  I love when important decisions fall into the hands of people who constantly second-guess themselves and worry that their own ‘tribe’ might be mistaken, who are curious about science and have a sense of the ironic and absurd.  I love when society’s outcasts, like Alan Turing or Michael Burry (who predicted the subprime mortgage crisis), force everyone else to pay attention to them by being inconveniently right.  And whenever I read yet another thinkpiece about the problems with “narrow-minded STEM nerds”—how we’re basically narcissistic children, lacking empathy and social skills, etc. etc.—I think to myself, “then let everyone else be as narrow and narcissistic as most of the STEM nerds I know; I have no further wish for the human race.”

On the other side, I hate the irreversible loss of anything—whether that means the deaths of individuals, the burning of the Library of Alexandria, genocides, the flooding of coastal cities as the earth warms, or the extinction of species.  I hate when the people in power are ones who just go with their gut, or their faith, or their tribe, or their dialectical materialism, and who don’t even feel self-conscious about the lack of error-correcting machinery in their methods for learning about the world.  I hate when kids with a passion for some topic have that passion beaten out of them in school, and then when they succeed anyway in pursuing the passion, they’re called stuck-up, privileged elitists.  I hate the “macro” version of the same schoolyard phenomenon, which recurs throughout cultures and history: the one where some minority is spat on and despised, manages to succeed anyway at something the world values, and is then despised even more because of its success.

So, until the Singularity arrives, I suppose my vision of utopia is simply more of what I love and less of what I hate!

David Deutsch: Of course I’m opposed to utopianism. Progress comes only through piecemeal, tentative improvements. I think the world will never be perfected, even when everything we think of as problematic today has been eliminated. We shall always be at the beginning of infinity. Never satisfied.

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Stephen Wolfram: If you mean: what do I personally want to do all day?  Well, I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to set up my life to let me spend a large fraction of my time doing what I want to be doing, which usually means creating things and figuring things out.  I like building large, elegant, useful, intellectual and practical structures—which is what I hope I’ve done over a long period of time, for example, with Wolfram Language.

If you’re asking what I see as being the best ultimate outcome for our whole species—well, that’s a much more difficult question, though I’ve certainly thought about it.  Yes, there are things we want now—but how what we want will evolve after we’ve got those things is, I think, almost impossible for us to understand.  Look at what people see as goals today, and think how difficult it would be to explain many of them to someone even a few centuries ago.  Human goals will certainly evolve, and the things people will think are the best possible things to do in the future may well be things we don’t even have words for yet.

Peter Woit: Besides the peace, love and understanding thing, in my utopia everyone else would have as few problems and as much to enjoy about life as I currently do.

Martin Rees: A utopian society would, at the very least, require trust between individuals and their institutions. I worry that we are moving further from this ideal. Two trends are reducing interpersonal trust: firstly, the remoteness and globalization of those we routinely have to deal with; and secondly, the vulnerability of modern life to disruption –- the realization that “hackers” or dissidents can trigger incidents that cascade globally. Such trends necessitate burgeoning security measures. These are already irritants in our everyday life – security guards, elaborate passwords, airport searches and so forth — but they are likely to become ever more vexatious. Innovations like blockchain could offer protocols that render the entire Internet more secure. But their current applications – allowing an economy based on crypto-currencies to function independently of traditional financial institutions –seem damaging rather than benign. It’s depressing to realize how much of the economy is dedicated to activities that would be superfluous if we felt we could trust each other. (It would be a worthwhile exercise if some economist could quantify this.)

And the world is so interconnected that no utopia could exist on the scale of one nation-state.  Harmonious geopolitics would require a global distribution of wealth that’s perceived as fair– with far less inequality between rich and poor nations. And even without being utopian it’s surely a moral imperative (as well as in the self-interest of fortunate nations) to push towards this goal. Sadly, we downplay what’s happening even now in far-away countries and the plight of the “bottom billion.” And we discount too heavily the problems we’ll leave for new generations. Governments need to prioritize projects that are long-term in a political perspective, even if a mere instant in the history of our planet.

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In the remote high plains of Peru, a red-hot chunk of rock plummeted from the heavens, making landfall with a tremendous blast. Half a world away, meteorite hunters like Robert Ward (above) got word and rushed to get a piece of the action. Then things got weird.JAKE NAUGHTON

ON THE MORNING of September 15, 2007, station I08BO—an infrasound monitoring post for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty near La Paz, Bolivia—picked up a series of atmospheric vibrations. It was an explosion at very high altitude, and there was something streaking across the sky, heading southwest at 27,000 mph.

A FEW MINUTES later, at about 11:45 am, a brilliant fireball flashed over Carancas, a tiny village at 12,000 feet in Peru’s remote altiplano, a high plain bounded by the Andes. For those on the ground, this celestial visitor was the brightest thing anyone had ever seen in the sky.

A local radio host witnessed the blaze descend behind a hilltop statue of Jesus and rushed to his station to announce the arrival of a UFO. One villager saw the smoky trail and figured it must be Superman. Someone else saw a scorpion falling; he thought it was an antahualla, a mythical creature in local lore that soars from mountaintop to mountaintop at night, cloaked in light, menacing those below.

What they all saw was a rock, somewhere between 7 and 12 tons of chondrite studded with pyroxene, olivine, and feldspar, burning at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It had begun its journey in the asteroid belt, more than 110 million miles away, floating between Mars and Jupiter, and it was among the largest meteorite arrivals in living memory. The rock was probably not much bigger than a dinette set, but that was large enough to generate an exospheric detonation with the energy of a low-yield nuclear weapon. Then it struck Earth.

Gregorio Urury, a farmer in Carancas, was sitting outside his small adobe house, taking a break from tending his sheep, when he felt the impact. He listened, paralyzed, as the sound passed over him—a low hum that quickly rose into a scream—until the ground shook. He couldn’t stand up at first. His dogs barked wildly. When he gathered himself and searched the plain, he saw a column of dense smoke rising in the distance.

It was the end of the dry season and the land was parched. The spring storms were about to roll in, and farmers would take cover indoors for fear of being found by a lightning bolt in the flat expanse. Urury, like most residents of Carancas, is part of the indigenous Aymara nation, a group that has lived here for centuries. Their land is hard to farm, contains few minerals, and has almost no features but for sod brick houses, shepherds, and their flocks, along with wild herds of vicuña, a more graceful relative of the llama. There are no fences, and a single dirt road bisects the plain. Urury’s farm is a modest holding that he had meant to leave to his children, until they, like so many others, left their father’s village for the cities.

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Trump is forcing out Defense secretary James Mattis by New Year’s instead of allowing him to stay another 2 months Jacob Shamsian December 2018

  • President Donald Trump is forcing Defense Secretary James Mattis to leave his position by New Year’s.
  • Mattis planned to stay until February 28 to ensure an orderly transition.
  • He’ll be replaced by Patrick Shanahan, the deputy defense secretary, Trump said in a tweet.
  • Mattis quit his cabinet position because he disagreed with Trump’s position to pull American troops out of Syria.

President Trump announced that Secretary of Defense James Mattis will leave his position by January 1. Patrick Shanahan, Mattis’s deputy, will take over as the acting defense chief.

Mattis announced his resignation from the Defense Department on Thursday over President Trump’s decision to withdraw United States troops from Syria and halve the number of troops in Afghanistan. Mattis originally said he would stay in his position until February 28 to ensure an orderly transition.

In his resignation letter, Mattis blasted Trump for mistreating allies.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” he wrote.

Read more:The incredible career of Jim Mattis, the legendary Marine general turned defense secretary who just quit the Trump administration

Trump has been furious about the resignation letter, according to the New York Times. On Saturday, he criticized Mattis in a tweet.

“When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should,” he wrote.

Mattis is a retired four-star Marine general who oversaw the United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013. He left the position when President Barack Obama was reportedly unhappy with his stance on Iran.

Before beginning his position as deputy secretary of defense in June 2017, Shanahan was an executive at the aircraft and weapons manufacturer Boeing. He does not have any prior government experience.

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Sorrel: The Ruby-Red Caribbean Christmas Drink Flavored With Black History – Andrea Y. Henderson December 23, 20189:00 AM ET

Sorrel, a festive drink made by steeping hibiscus flowers, is the taste of the holidays throughout the Caribbean. It is also a close cousin to the African-American red drink, described as “liquid soul.”
Andrea Y. Henderson/NPR

In America, the boozy drink of Christmastime is buttery, cream-colored eggnog. But throughout the Caribbean, the sip of the season comes in a holiday-appropriate shade of ruby red: sorrel.

This sweet, cinnamon-spiced drink gets its festive deep-red shade from the flowers of roselle, a species of tropical hibiscus plant used to make it. “It has notes of family, warmth, Christmas and of being around people that you love,” says Jamaican chef Suzanne Rousseau, who with her sister, Michelle Rousseau, co-authored the vegetarian cookbook Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking.

Different islands give sorrel their own spin, varying the spices and other ingredients. Some people add ginger ale to the mix. Wine, rum or other alcohols can be used for the optional buzzy kick. The Rousseau sisters take the crimson hibiscus buds and combine them in a saucepan with spices like cinnamon, cloves and ginger, boil the mixture for a few minutes, then steep it for two to three days. Once the mixture is steeped, they add sugar, wine and rum to taste, and chill the blend until the holiday drink is ready to be served. “It’s not really a cocktail, it’s more like a punch,” Michelle Rousseau says. The sisters say they like to keep sorrel in their fridge year round — the longer it sits, the richer and sweeter it gets.

But this beloved island drink isn’t just a local tradition. It actually has deep roots in the history of the African diaspora, and is a close cousin of another beverage — one with a special place among African-Americans: red drink.

If you don’t know what red drink is, then most likely you have never attended a black American church function, family reunion or barbecue, because these gatherings have red drink readily available — not just at Christmastime but throughout the year. If you walk into a soul food restaurant and red drink isn’t on the menu, you might as well walk out.

That’s because red drink is “liquid soul,” as African-American food historian Adrian Miller has called it.

But what exactly is red drink, you ask? It is more of a phenomenon than a single drink. Most commonly, red drink is served ice cold — and red, of course — a sugary blend of several flavors of Kool-Aid. In the South, red flavored Kool-Aid is available during gatherings, but the most popular red drink often comes in the form of Big Red, a fizzy canned soda.

“Red drink is very popular in African-American culture,” says Miller. “It’s just essentially a nod to ancestral traditional red drinks that crossed the Atlantic during the Atlantic slave trade.”

Red drinks made from Roselle hibiscus have spread far and wide. A version of the drink is “known as bissap to many African countries,” Miller says. “Then it became sorrel in Jamaica. It’s even being embraced by the Latinx culture, calledagua de Jamaica.”

Miller says that while searching historical records, including old periodicals and thousands of narratives from formerly enslaved African-Americans collected as part of the 1930s Federal Writers’ Project, he discovered many references to red drinks served as part of celebrations on U.S. plantations during slavery and after Emancipation.

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The story of Marvel’s first queer Latina superhero | Gabby Rivera – TED Published on Dec 20, 2018

With Marvel’s “America Chavez,” Gabby Rivera wrote a new kind of superhero — one who can punch portals into other dimensions while also embracing her gentle, goofy, soft side. In a funny, personal talk, Rivera shares how her own childhood as a queer Puerto Rican in the Bronx informed this new narrative — and shows images from the comic book that reveal what happens when a superhero embraces her humanity. As she says: “That myth of having to go it alone and be tough is not serving us.”

The U.S. surgeon general explains why he’s issuing a rare warning on e-cigarettes and kids. – POLITICO’s Pulse Check By POLITICO’s Pulse Check Episode Surgeon General Jerome Adams Episode 133 Dec 18, 2018


“I don’t want anyone to think I’m against the harm-reduction potential of these devices for adults. But 3 percent of adults are using these devices — [and] 20 percent of high schoolers are using these devices.”

Surgeon General Jerome Adams sits down with POLITICO’s Dan Diamond to explain why he’s issuing an advisory on the risks of e-cigarettes for youth — just the second surgeon general advisory since 2005. (Starts at the 1:30 mark.) Adams also reviews what he thought of doctors’ recent clash with the NRA on social media, how he’s setting his 2019 priorities and even shares some personal details.

After the break, POLITICO’s Sarah Owermohle joins Dan to discuss Adams’ comments on e-cigarettes and the Trump administration’s broader push on vaping. (Starts at the 21:30 mark.)


The surgeon general’s office has a resource guide for parents, providers and children on e-cigarettes.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb joined POLITICO’s podcast in November to discuss his own concerns about vaping and his pending crackdown.

Physicians pushed back after the NRA said doctors should “stay in their lane” and not discuss gun violence.

Adams praised “Blue Zones,” the work into why some communities appear to be healthier than others.

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy appeared on POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” in 2016, discussing his own approach to the role.


Weekly conversations with some of the most interesting and influential people in health care, hosted by POLITICO Pulse author Dan Diamond.