Say Hello to My Little (Furry) Friend
June 20, 2019
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Furry Friend Or Furry Fraud?
Just like opioid abuse ruined it for legitimate pain sufferers, bogus requests for an odd emotional support animal (ESA) are causing governments to get involved. To date more than two dozen state legislatures have enacted laws to crack down on ‘service animal fraud.’
In 2011 a for-profit company that registers service animals, and sells official-looking vests and certificates for owners, had 2,400 service and emotional support animals in its registry. Today the National Service Animal Registry has nearly 200,000 logged in.
Landlords were possibly the catalyst for the new laws. A spokesperson for the Florida Apartment Association, which represents landlords, said “We’ve seen everything from reptiles to insects.” Advocates for therapy animals point out that they are protected by the Fair Housing Act, which requires landlords to make “reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities. They worry the new laws will encourage landlords to deny animals to tenants who need them. But how to distinguish a legitimate need from a fraud can be daunting.
A former assistant secretary for fair housing at HUD said certificates sold online aren’t really helpful. But she warned that criminalizing people for seeking documentation of a need for a support animal could be sending the wrong message to landlords. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects highly trained service animals, like dogs or miniature horses, who can lead blind people and detect seizures; they must be allowed into restaurants, stores and other public places, or proprietors could be hit with hefty federal fines. ESAs don’t have the same status under the ADA, but federal law has been interpreted to allow renters the right to live with an animal if it helps treat depression or anxiety.
A Record Number Of Asylum-Seekers In This Insane World
- In its latest Global Trends report, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reveals a record 70.8 million people had been forcibly displaced by war, persecution and other violence by the end of 2018. That’s an increase of nearly 2 million more refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people over the year before, and an almost 65 percent increase from 2008.
- Ethiopia accounted for the most newly displaced people, followed by Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. The largest number of new asylum-seekers are people fleeing violence and insecurity in Venezuela. More than 3 million Venezuelans had fled their homes by the end of 2018, the “biggest exodus in the region’s recent history.” (NPR)
Caught Red Handed
- In 2014 a missile shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over a war zone in Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. The Russian government denied any role in the plane’s downing.
- On Wednesday at a news conference in the Netherlands, international prosecutors announced murder indictments against three Russians linked to Moscow’s military and intelligence agencies and a Ukrainian citizen who led a Russian-backed separatist unit commanded by one of the Russians.
- A senior aide to President Vladimir Putin was implicated but not charged. Investigators will seek international arrest warrants for the suspects in hopes of snagging them before the trial begins next March. (NYT)
Take Two And Pay Me in the Morning
- Despite the high prices Americans pay for drugs, they still have an advantage over people in low-income African countries. Thanks to public money and strong processes for buying drugs, richer nations are able to procure cheaper and more effective medicines.
- A spokesperson for the Center for Global Development said drug markets in poorer countries “just don’t work.” Due to a “concentrated supply chain…competition is broken.” That means everyday drugs such as the pain reliever paracetamol can cost 30 times more in countries like Zambia, Senegal and Tunisia than they do in the US or the UK. (BBC)
- Florida Wants To Import Medicine From Canada. But How Would That Work? (NPR)
Hear Evil, See Evil, Speak No Evil
- Former top White House aide Hope Hicks was questioned Wednesday behind closed doors by House Judiciary Committee members. Hicks was accompanied by administration lawyers who kept her from answering any questions about her tenure in the West Wing, claiming immunity for the executive branch.
- Committee members were prepared to question Hicks about her time in the White House and instances of potential obstruction detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. But Tuesday afternoon Committee Chair Jerry Nadler received a letter stating the president had instructed Hicks not to answer questions related to her time serving as a senior White House adviser, claiming she was “absolutely immune” from being “compelled to testify” about her service.
- Hicks was also directed not to comply with Committee requests for White House records from the time she served in the administration. The same argument was used when former White House counsel Don McGahn was directed to defy a congressional subpoena and refuse to testify. The “absolute immunity” argument has always applied to current aides; both Hicks and McGahn are private citizens. Trump uses the legal theory as part of a comprehensive strategy of total resistance to congressional oversight on every conceivable front. Democrats plan to go to court to force McGahn’s testimony — now they may do the same with Hicks. (ABCNews, WaPo)
But Don’t You, Tax On My Blue Suede Shoes
- President Trump talks about rebuilding American manufacturing, but some industries whose products are mostly outsourced, like footwear, just can’t turn back time. 99 percent of shoes sold in the US today are imported, many of them from China, Vietnam and Indonesia. China’s share has declined in recent years, but it remains a key source of America’s shoes and shoe parts.
- An American shoe-factory job pays $12 – $16 an hour, compared to about $3 an hour in China. The head of global operations for an American shoe manufacturer put it this way: “There’s really very little commercial reason for why you would make footwear in the U.S. today,” That explains why some US footwear companies have been loud opponents of Trump’s threat of more tariffs for almost everything imported from China. (NPR)
- A beautiful piano song that includes the line Blue Suede Shoes: Marc Cohn – Walking In Memphis
Additional USA News
- E.P.A. Finalizes Its Plan to Replace Obama-Era Climate Rules (NYT, $)
- Trump says immigration roundup will start next week (Reuters)
- PG&E settles California fire claims with local governments for $1 billion (Reuters)
- 18 Questions. 21 Democrats. Here’s What They Said.: We tracked down the 2020 Democrats and asked them the same set of questions. (NYT, $)
- Elizabeth Warren Is Completely Serious: About income inequality. About corporate power. About corrupt politics. And about being America’s next president. (NYT, $)
- Push to impeach Trump stalls amid Democrats’ deference to — and fear of — Pelosi (WaPo, $)
- What it’s like to be a white woman named LaKiesha (CNN) and Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks – SNL and The Trebek effect: The benefits of well wishes (The Conversation)
Just Lose It
- Over the past year hundreds of pairs of unworn Nike shoes washed up on beaches from Bermuda and the Bahamas to Ireland and Orkney. The mystery of how they got there was finally thought solved after research indicated the shoes most likely came from fallen shipping containers carried on the Maersk Shanghai as it traveled from Norfolk, VA to Charleston, SC.
- The World Shipping Council estimates that of the 218 million containers transported annually, just over 1,000 go overboard. But one oceanographer, who worked with Nike on a previous spill of its shoes, believes the real number is probably higher.
- Shipping companies only have to report lost containers if they could become a hazard for other vessels or if they include substances deemed “harmful to the marine environment,” such as corrosive or toxic chemicals. Products like shoes definitely harm marine environments, but they don’t count as “harmful” for the purpose of reporting cargo lost at sea.
- The UN’s shipping regulator said more action needs to be taken to identify and report lost containers, and to address marine plastic litter from ships. (BBC)
- This is the best article we have read this week: Stay in the Game (Albert Bridge Capital)
- Two-hour ‘dose’ of nature significantly boosts health – study: Researchers say simply sitting and enjoying the peace has mental and physical benefits (Guardian) We think more sleep and more time with mother nature are two of the best things for our physical and mental health.
- Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Without Drugs: Alternatives to prescription drugs for insomnia offer better, safer and more long-lasting solutions, experts say. (NYT, $)
- How you’re recycling plastic wrong, from coffee cups to toothpaste: If you don’t clean your recycling, it can harm more than it helps. And that icon with the arrows is virtually meaningless (Guardian)
- Can planting billions of trees save the planet?: Organisations from around the world are reforesting at an unprecedented rate (Guardian)
- Boaty McBoatface, Internet-Adored Sub, Makes Deep-Sea Discovery On Climate Change (NPR)
“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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