Dear Nevada, #&$% You. Sincerely, San Francisco.

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 5:18 PM EDT

For years, the Las Vegas Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, Nevada's primary state mental facility, gave discharged patients a bus ticket out of town. Poor and mentally ill, they ended up homeless in cities around the country—especially in California, where more than 500 psychiatric patients were sent over a five year period.

Twenty-four of these patients landed in San Francisco, costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care, housing, and services. Now Nevada has agreed to cover the costs—or most of them at least. On Monday a tentative settlement was reached and the state agreed to pay $400,000, just short of the $500,000 San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued for back in 2013. The settlement is expected to be approved by San Francisco's Board of Supervisors and Nevada's Board of Examiners later this month.

The class action lawsuit filed by Herrera followed an investigation by the Sacramento Bee, which revealed that 1,500 Nevada homeless patients had been given bus tickets, and were advised to seek medical care elsewhere. A third were sent to California, landing in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are already struggling to house a growing number homeless people.

Chronically homeless people—especially those with mental illnesses—can cost millions. As we reported earlier this year the county of Santa Clara spent $520 million a year, mostly on the hospital stays and the cost of jailing the persistently homeless—a mere 2,800 people.

Still, Nevada health officials tried for two years to get out of paying San Francisco. They argued that what happened in Nevada is similar to San Francisco's "Homeward Bound" program, which relocates homeless people to live with family or friends in other cities.

But now, according The San Francisco Chronicle Nevada has decided to end the fight. After Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital lost its accreditation in 2013, Nevada invested $30 million to reform its system of care. Homeless patients are no longer bused to other areas and state officials want to move forward. The facility regained its accreditation this year.

Read more here:

"The settlement will bring an amicable resolution to this matter," Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. "The settlement will also validate the patient management best practices and procedures which Nevada has had in place for two years."

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Silicon Valley Is Even Whiter Than You Thought

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 5:17 PM EDT

The funders behind Silicon Valley's hottest companies tend to look a lot like the people they invest in: white and male.

Of the 551 senior venture capitalists* examined in a new three-month study by the tech news site the Information and the VC firm SocialCapital, less than 1 percent (precisely four executives) were black, and another 1.3 percent were Hispanic. Twenty percent, or 110 people, were Asian.

While there has been considerable focus on the diversity figures of major companies such as Facebook and Twitter recently, little attention has been paid to the racial and gender makeup of the decision-makers who invest millions of dollars in tech startups, hoping they succeed.

The Information

Ninety-two percent of top venture capital executives are men. According to the report, that's "way worse" than the gender disparity in tech companies, where 77 percent of leadership roles are occupied by men.

The Information

The striking numbers reinforce the narrative surrounding Silicon Valley's diversity problems, as companies and civic leaders alike push to improve the racial and gender balance of the companies that make the gadgets and apps we consume. Not all VCs are doing poorly—the 15-person senior investment team at Y Combinator*, the well-known startup accelerator firm, has "four Asian men, a black man, three white women, and an Asian woman," according to the report. Yet the report found that a quarter of firms have an all-white management crew.

As Mother Jones pointed out in July, the number of African Americans employees at Twitter, Facebook, and Google combined could fit on a single Airbus A830. Now we know the number of black venture capitalists, at least in this study, could fit in an Uber.

In an op-ed Tuesday titled "Bros Funding Bros: What's Wrong with Venture Capital," SocialCapital founder Chamath Palihapitiya criticized the backwards nature of the venture capitalist community and called for changes.

"The VC world is cloistered and often afraid of change—the type of change that would serve the world better," Palihapitiya wrote. "An industry that wields the power to change lives is failing to do just that. Ultimately, fund investors will wake up to this bleak reality. We must change before this happens."

You can check out the rest of the the Information's Future List here.

Correction: Following the publication of this story, Information and SocialCapital corrected several portions of their report, including their description of the racial and gender makeup of Y Combinator's investment team. The story has been updated to reflect those changes.

Watch the Government Shoot Thousands of Moths Out of a Drone

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 4:48 PM EDT

Pink bollworms are a species of pest (they're baby moths) that love to feast on cotton. They've been largely eliminated from the United States, but flare-ups do occur now and then, causing an expensive headache for farmers. So the US Department of Agriculture is experimenting with an innovative but also kind of weird and gross solution, which you can see in the video above.

The process starts by raising bollworms in a lab that are fed a red, oil-based dye. When the bollworms mature into moths, the coloration stays with them, so they can be distinguished from wild moths. The lab moths are blasted with radiation, which makes them sterile. Then they're released into the wild over fields with bollworm infestations. When the sterile lab moths mate with the wild ones, they're tricked into thinking they're going to reproduce, but don't. So no new moths.

Scientists have experimented with releasing sterile moths for the last few years. But now, they've enlisted a new tool: drones equipped with moth cannons. Anytime a bollworm infestation pops up, just call in a drone to deliver a few thousand irradiated moths.

Paul Krugman Explains the Latest Draft of the TPP

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 2:35 PM EDT

Suppose there's a complex public policy proposal being debated and you want to know where you should stand. However, you really don't want to devote a huge amount of time to diving into all the details. There are just so many hours in the day, after all.

One possibility is to simply see what people on your side of the tribal divide think about it. But that's surprisingly unreliable. A better approach is to take a look at who's opposed to the proposal. That's what Paul Krugman does today regarding the final draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement:

What I know so far: pharma is mad because the extension of property rights in biologics is much shorter than it wanted, tobacco is mad because it has been carved out of the dispute settlement deal, and Rs in general are mad because the labor protection stuff is stronger than expected....I find myself thinking of Grossman and Helpman’s work on the political economy of free trade agreements, in which they conclude, based on a highly stylized but nonetheless interesting model of special interest politics, that

An FTA is most likely to be politically viable exactly when it would be socially harmful.

The TPP looks better than it did, which infuriates much of Congress.

Krugman describes himself as a "lukewarm opponent" of TPP who now needs to do some more homework. I'd probably call myself a lukewarm supporter. One reason is that the dispute resolution provisions, which provoked a lot of anger on the left, never struck me as either unusual or all that objectionable in practice. The IP stuff bothered me more, and that's been improved a bit in the final draft. It's still not great, but it's not quite as horrible as before. So you can probably now count me as a slightly stronger supporter.

But I wonder what Republicans will do? They're the ones who are ideologically on the side of trade agreements, and they've spent a lot of time berating President Obama for not putting more effort into trade deals. But with campaign season heating up, it's become more toxic than ever to support any initiative of Obama's. Plus Donald Trump is busily working his supporters into a lather about TPP. I wouldn't be surprised to see quite a few defections from the Republican ranks.

Here's One Simple Rule For Deciding Who the Media Covers

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 1:38 PM EDT

Paul Waldman notes today that Marco Rubio is the latest beneficiary of the media spotlight. Why?

If history is any guide, the “outsider” candidates will eventually fall, and Rubio is the only “insider” candidate whose support is going up, not down. Scott Walker is gone, Jeb Bush is struggling, and none of the other officeholders seem to be generating any interest among voters. Rubio has long had strong approval ratings among Republicans, so even those who are now supporting someone else don’t dislike him. He’s an excellent speaker both with prepared texts and extemporaneously. When you hear him talk he sounds informed and thoughtful, and much less reactionary than his actual ideas would suggest. He presents a young, Hispanic face for a party that desperately needs not to be seen as the party of old white guys.

This is all true, but it gives the media way too much credit. Here's the rule they use for deciding who to cover:

  • If you're leading or rising in the polls, you get coverage.

That's it. All the other stuff about Rubio has been true all along, and nobody cared about him. Now he's rising in the polls and is currently in about fourth place. So he's getting coverage.

This happened first to Donald Trump, then to Ben Carson, then to Carly Fiorina, and now to Rubio. Bernie Sanders, oddly enough, remains fairly immune. Maybe this rule only applies to Republicans this year.

Ben Carson on Oregon Shooting: "I Would Not Just Stand There and Let Him Shoot Me"

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 12:54 PM EDT

Ben Carson says he would have led an effort to stop the shooter who killed 13 people last week in Roseburg, Oregon, had he been there during the attack.

During an interview of Fox & Friends Tuesday, host Brian Kilmeade asked the GOP presidential candidate what he would do if a gunman asked him, "What religion are you?" The shooter allegedly asked his victims their religion before shooting them and opted to fatally injure those who responded that they were Christian.

"Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me," Carson responded. "I would say, 'Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.'"

This is not the first time that Carson has weighed in on the shooting. Last Friday afternoon, Carson sent a tweet that went viral, proclaiming "I am A Christian."

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Ben Carson Supports Arming Kindergarten Teachers to Combat Gun Violence

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 12:49 PM EDT

Ben Carson has some thoughts on gun control.

Less than a week after the massacre at an Oregon community college that left 10 people dead, including the shooter, the Republican presidential candidate dismissed renewed calls for gun safety and called for kindergarten teachers to be armed.

"If I had a little kid in kindergarten somewhere I would feel much more comfortable if I knew on that campus there was a police officer or somebody who was trained with a weapon," Carson told USA TODAY on Tuesday. "If the teacher was trained in the use of that weapon and had access to it, I would be much more comfortable if they had one than if they didn't."

Carson's calls to arm teachers echoes similar views expressed by GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who suggested the Oregon shooting could have been avoided if school officials were armed. "Let me tell you, if you had a couple teachers with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off," he told an event in Tennessee.

The proposal comes just one day after Carson also suggested during a Facebook Q&A that enacting gun control laws would be more "devastating" than the results of gun violence:

"As a Doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies," he wrote on Monday. "There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking—but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."

The talk of arming teachers from Trump led Comedy Central comedian Larry Wilmore to respond on his Monday night show: "Let's not elect a guy who's getting his policy ideas from the movie Kindergarten Cop." Watch below:


Let's Not Rewrite History on Gun Violence

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 12:38 PM EDT

"This is something we should politicize," President Obama said last week after the gun massacre in Oregon. "It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic." Jonah Goldberg is annoyed that Obama said this even though he's routinely spoken out against politicizing issues in the past. "He's not about to try building consensus on gun violence among people of good faith," Goldberg says. Then this:

Obama's comments on Thursday highlighted the problem with his approach to politics. He would rather go for everything he wants and get nothing, but keep the political issue, than make progress on common ground.

Virtually none of the proposals on his gun-control wish list — more comprehensive federal background checks, closing the gun show "loophole," etc. — would help bring down the homicide rate....Typically, mass killers don't buy guns at gun shows. And a CNN analysis found that a comprehensive background check system wouldn't have prevented any of the "routine" killing sprees Obama referred to, save one.

....After the Sandy Hook slaughter, there was a bipartisan consensus that more needed to be done on the mental health side. But Obama, fresh off reelection, rejected a piecemeal approach, largely preferring to go for a "comprehensive" solution. He ended up with nothing at all.

Um, what? Shortly after Sandy Hook, Joe Biden released the final report of his task force on gun violence. It contained recommendations in four areas, one of which was increased access to mental health services. Several bipartisan bills that targeted mental health did indeed get introduced, and I believe Obama supported all of them. So why didn't they pass? That's always hard to say, but the best guess is that it's because they all cost money, and Republicans were unwilling to vote for increased spending. So they died. Obama's preference for a "comprehensive" approach had nothing to do with it.

Beyond that, sure, Obama wanted comprehensive legislation. But in the end, this got whittled down to one thing: a bipartisan bill mandating universal background checks. It was watered down repeatedly, and was about as weak as possible by the time it finally got a vote. Despite massive public support, even from gun owners, it failed after an enormous effort to reach out to all those people of good faith Goldberg talks about. I think you can guess who voted against it.1

1It was 41 Republicans and 5 Democrats, in case you've forgotten.

Why Did Lindsey Graham Vote Against Hurricane Sandy Relief in 2013? Here Are Half a Dozen Guesses.

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 11:41 AM EDT

South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham voted against a $51 billion aid bill for New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, but feels differently about federal aid for the devastating floods that have racked his state. "Let's just get through this thing, and whatever it costs, it costs," Graham told Wolf Blitzer yesterday. Blitzer then asked him why he had opposed Sandy relief:

"I'm all for helping the people in New Jersey. I don't really remember me voting that way," Graham said. Pressed further, he said: "Anyway, I don't really recall that, but I'd be glad to look and tell you why I did vote no, if I did."

Well, yes, he did indeed vote against Sandy aid. I don't know why he did it either, but I can take a few guesses:

  • He was pissed off over the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
  • He was pissed off over the recently concluded fiscal cliff negotiations, which Republicans lost.
  • He was pissed off over the national debt and wanted to make a point about out-of-control spending before the upcoming debt ceiling showdown.
  • He was pissed off over sequester caps that prevented big increases in military spending.
  • He was pissed off over flood insurance provisions in the bill, which had been loudly denounced by the Club for Growth.
  • He was pissed off over alleged pork in the aid bill.

Alternatively, Graham didn't really think about it at all, which is why it's slipped his mind by now. Maybe he just vaguely figured the bill would pass, so this was a chance to demonstrate fiscal toughness without running the risk of being held personally responsible for enormous human suffering in New Jersey. After all, 35 other Republican senators voted against it too. So why not join them?

Thanks to the NSA, Data Sharing With Europe Just Got a Little Harder

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 11:11 AM EDT

The long arm of Edward Snowden just got a little longer today:

Europe’s highest court on Tuesday struck down an international agreement that had made it easy for companies to move people’s digital data between the European Union and the United States. The ruling, by the European Court of Justice, could make it more difficult for global technology giants — including the likes of Amazon and Apple, Google and Facebook — to collect and mine online information from their millions of users in the 28-member European Union.

So what does this have to do with Snowden? Since 2000, a "Safe Harbor" agreement has allowed US companies to store personal data on European nationals as long as the companies comply with a specific set of rules to minimize abuse. At the time, it was commercial abuse that everyone had in mind. Today it's government abuse:

Tuesday’s decision stems from a complaint lodged in 2013 by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems over Facebook’s compliance with EU data-privacy rules. In his charge filed to the Irish data-protection authority, the U.S. social-media company’s lead regulator in Europe, Mr. Schrems claimed that allegations by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showed Facebook wasn’t sufficiently protecting users’ data because it is subject to mass surveillance in the U.S.

There are workarounds for this, but they're complicated and burdensome. What's more, efforts to reach an updated agreement will be difficult since the court ruling allows privacy regulators in every country to set up their own rules. This means that negotiations with the EU almost certainly have to include every national regulator who wants a voice, since each one can essentially veto an agreement in their own country.

Alternatively, the US could announce major reforms to its NSA spying programs. Just kidding, of course. We all know that's unpossible.