And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday May 14

"For the past five weeks, Perseverance has been focused primarily on supporting and documenting the pioneering flights of its little cousin, NASA's 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) Mars helicopter Ingenuity. But the car-sized rover has been doing science work of its own in the background as well." The headline says, "mysterious rocks", but then never gets to why they're "mysterious".

"Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Thursday revealed in filings to the Federal Communications Commission its plan for the next step in testing its massive Starship rocket, in a flight that would splash down off the coast of Hawaii."

"But making it through childbirth alive doesn’t mean a parent is medically out of the woods. The health care system is often unresponsive, too fragmented or ill-prepared to handle women’s postpartum conditions, from physical pain and discomfort to psychological anguish, that can have life-long consequences. Many women surrender, thinking this is just how it goes when you have a baby… But experts say it doesn’t have to be this way. And there’s a growing focus on the need to prioritize a mother’s care as much as the infant’s, especially during that first year after child birth." The stories we tell ourselves. And it's not just birth, but let's keep the focus there for a while.

"Researchers have found just 12 people are responsible for the bulk of the misleading claims and outright lies about COVID-19 vaccines that proliferate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter."

"Ireland’s state health services provider has shut all its IT systems and cancelled some medical appointments after what it described as a 'significant ransomware attack' overnight caused widespread disruption."

"The owner of the Colonial Pipeline paid hackers about $5 million in bitcoin to regain access to its data and end a standoff that forced one of the country’s largest energy pipelines offline, multiple media outlets reported Thursday."

"The Colonial Pipeline became fully operational at 12 p.m. Thursday, and tuck drivers in North Florida and South Georgia are working with Federal and state agencies to efficiently distribute gas when it arrives from the pipeline… But, the Florida Trucking Association says it could still take a few more days for fuel levels to return to normal."

"Alarming economic numbers and scenes of long lines at gas pumps in the Southeast are causing new political hurdles for President Joe Biden just as he begins negotiations with Republicans over major new spending proposals… Speaking from the White House on Thursday, Biden sought to tamp down on panic-buying and warned gas station owners against price gouging. He listed a series of administration steps meant to alleviate fuel shortages."

"Chemical giants DuPont and Daikin knew the dangers of a PFAS compound widely used in food packaging since 2010, but hid them from the public and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), company studies obtained by the Guardian reveal." Fuckers. Just a reminder that corporations exist at the tolerance of the government. They require a license and a charter.

"McDonald’s (MCD) will raise hourly wages "by an average of 10%" for more than 36,500 employees at more than 660 U.S. restaurants… 'These increases, which have already begun, will be rolled out over the next several months and include shifting the entry level range for crew to at least $11-$17 an hour,' the fast food giant said in a statement, adding that shift managers would be paid at least $15 an hour."

"A growing number of governors are ending the $300 federal unemployment bonus starting in June -- saying the benefit is holding back job growth in their states. In response, President Joe Biden said he will work with states to make sure unemployed workers can find and take jobs: 'The law is clear. If you're receiving unemployment benefits and you're offered a suitable job, you can't refuse that job and just keep getting unemployment benefits.'" Because fuck the poor, that's why. I've been trying to say this for years, and mostly since the "nobody wants to work" whining began last year. Getting unemployment is fucking difficult. And it's always been the law that if you are offered employment and refuse, you will lose your unemployment benefit (and in some states may need to pay back what you got).

"A $26 million lottery ticket was sold in Norwalk, California about six months ago. Regulars and workers at the gas station that sold the ticket believe it was accidentally destroyed in the wash by a woman whose coworker bought it for her… CBS Los Angeles spoke with a regular named Bobby Henley who says he ran into the unidentified woman. She had until Thursday to come forward and claim her prize." The worst part is she knows it. File the investigated claim, at the very least.

So, there's no institutional racism? "Tennessee could owe a historically Black university more than a half-billion dollars after it withheld funding for decades… A bipartisan legislative committee determined last month that the state failed to adequately fund Tennessee State University in matched land grants going all the way back to the 1950s, costing the public university between $150 million and $544 million."

"Israel continued to bombard the Gaza Strip Friday with artillery and airstrikes in response to a new barrage of rocket fire from the Hamas-run enclave. More than 100 people have now been killed in Gaza and eight in Israel as the conflict continues to escalate."

"Violent confrontations erupted in Lod, Acre, Jerusalem, Haifa, Bat Yam, Tiberias and many other locations, with people injured, some of them seriously, leading Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce he was looking at deploying the military inside towns to restore order." It's strange how these things always seem to flare up just as Netanyahu is either facing re-election or being thrown out of the Prime Minister office.

"Two workers were killed in an Oklahoma dam explosion Thursday night, a dam agency official said."

"Thomas Farley has resigned as Philadelphia’s health commissioner due to his involvement in the mishandling of remains of the victims in the 1985 MOVE bombing."

"The battle over Medicaid expansion in Missouri reached a new boiling point Thursday as Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, announced that the state will not implement expansion, in defiance of a ballot measure passed by voters last year." Party of the people my ass. "The same study found the Medicaid expansion was most likely to result in budget savings for the state. That counterintuitive finding, which has been observed in other states, is explained by demand shifting from other public programs that are more expensive for the state, as more people opt for expansion coverage, which is largely funded by the federal government." Party of fiscal responsibility my ass.

"The ex-Florida tax collector with close ties to Rep. Matt Gaetz is planning to plead guilty on Monday in a federal court in Florida, according to a new filing Thursday… As part of the deal, Joel Greenberg will cooperate with investigators in a wide-ranging probe, according to one source familiar with the matter. For months, federal investigators have been examining whether Gaetz broke federal sex trafficking, prostitution and public corruption laws and whether he had sex with a minor."

"And if half (or even a third) of people who identify as Republicans right now left the party if there were a concerted effort on behalf of the establishment -- such as it is -- to rid the party of Trump, then the GOP would have approximately a 0.0% chance of winning a national election… Which Trump knows. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knows. And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy knows." Nice political party you've got there, shame if anything happened to it.

"Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said Thursday he is running to challenge GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York in her bid to become the next Republican conference chair… Roy, whose bid would be considered a long shot given the support Stefanik has amassed, sees it as an opportunity to not only hear from Stefanik, but also voice his concerns about the process."

"Rep. Liz Cheney said some of her Republican colleagues in Congress are opposed to a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot because they helped provoke the attack or are otherwise culpable."

"US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for an ethics inquiry into a Republican for a 'verbal assault' on another lawmaker… In the halls of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly accused New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of supporting 'terrorist' groups… Ms Ocasio-Cortez later said her antagonist was the kind of person she used to throw out of bars."

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday May 13

The 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class. (Grokked from Dan)

"Unfortunately, since then although Foster has been paid royalties, more authors have come forward who are in a similar situation: about a dozen authors know they have been denied royalties going back years–but likely others are affected that aren’t aware of what they’re owed. Now, Alan Dean Foster and other authors, including Neil Gaiman, Tess Gerritsen, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Chuck Wendig, have put together a #DisneyMustPay Task Force to fight to have all these authors get paid for their work."

"Here’s a myth we’d like to immediately dispel: Sunscreen is only necessary in the summer, while at the beach or playing sports outdoors. In fact, as experts have been arguing for years, protecting your skin from the sun should be part of your year-round routine given the negative consequences of prolonged exposure to sunlight."

"Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a 10-year-old in New York, just became the country's newest national chess master."

"The U.S. Interior Department approved the country's first large-scale offshore wind project Tuesday, a final hurdle that reverses course from the Trump administration and sets the stage for a major shift in the energy landscape."

"Thirty-five years after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded in the world’s worst nuclear accident, fission reactions are smoldering again in uranium fuel masses buried deep inside a mangled reactor hall. 'It’s like the embers in a barbecue pit,' says Neil Hyatt, a nuclear materials chemist at the University of Sheffield. Now, Ukrainian scientists are scrambling to determine whether the reactions will wink out on their own—or require extraordinary interventions to avert another accident." That's not worrying at all.

"In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Mexico Department of Health said it is seeing multiple outbreaks of norovirus across the state, including in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties… A doctor who works in the emergency room at UNM Hospital said he’s seeing more and more patients come in with norovirus. And, there’s concern it could add stress to an already stressed medical system."

"The Covid-19 pandemic was preventable, an independent review panel has said… The panel, set up by the World Health Organization, said the combined response of the WHO and global governments was a 'toxic cocktail'."

"South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a coronavirus mandate Tuesday preventing schools and local governments from creating mask mandates. His order also bans the use of so-called 'vaccine passports' in the state… Under the 15 page executive order, parents — not public school officials or school districts — will decide whether their student wears a mask in class." Idiots at all levels of government. But mostly conservatives.

"Amid dropping vaccine demand in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine announced five, weekly drawings of $1 million open to residents who've received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A similar lottery for teenagers will provide the lucky names with a full, four-year scholarship to a public university in Ohio - room and board included."

"If you've spent any time around cats, you've probably noticed that they love to curl up in small, cozy boxes. What you may not know is that they'll also go sit inside the two-dimensional outline of a square box on the floor. What's more, a new study has found that pet cats will also spontaneously sit inside an optical illusion that merely looks like a square." If I fits, I sits.

"Lawyers for relatives of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by deputies, said Tuesday that body camera videos show that he didn't strike them with his car before they opened fire, contradicting a local prosecutor… The family's lawyers say the footage contradicts statements by the local district attorney, who said in court that deputies didn't start firing until after Brown's vehicle struck them twice. Lynch's description aligns with what another family attorney said after seeing the shorter clip."

"Inflation in April accelerated at its fastest pace in more than 12 years as the U.S. economic recovery kicked into gear and energy prices jumped higher, the Labor Department reported Wednesday."

"You may have already noticed it, but yes, many things you need or love have gotten more expensive. A lot more expensive."

"The percentage of Americans struggling with hunger is now at its lowest level since the pandemic began, suggesting the recent flood in aid from Washington is making a significant difference to families struggling economically… Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week shows the percentage of adults living in households that sometimes or often did not have enough to eat dipped to just over 8 percent late last month, down from nearly 11 percent in March. That is a substantial drop, and it came after hundreds of billions in stimulus checks went out."

"Three Fort Campbell soldiers are facing charges of buying and transferring nearly 100 guns to Chicago. Guns bought and handled by the men were later tied to shootings, some fatal, in Chicago, according to federal prosecutors."

"A federal bankruptcy judge dismissed an effort by the National Rifle Association to declare bankruptcy on Tuesday, ruling that the gun rights group had not filed the case in good faith."

Is it infrastructure week again? "Traffic on and below a major bridge over the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tenn., could be halted for several days or longer, causing significant disruptions to motorists and shipping, officials said Wednesday… Authorities in Arkansas and Tennessee, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, indefinitely stopped all traffic related to the Hernando de Soto Bridge on Interstate 40 after inspectors discovered a crack in the steel structure Tuesday, and Tennessee officials said repairs could take some time."

"President Biden continues conversations with congressional Republicans on Thursday in the hopes of landing a bipartisan deal on an infrastructure package, but major hurdles persist over what items would be in the measure, and how it might be paid for."

"Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have escalated further as Palestinian militants in Gaza fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, which responded with ramped up airstrikes on the coastal enclave, as unrest spread to cities and towns beyond Jerusalem."

"The university's president, Robert Caslen, delivered a speech so bungled — with the wrong school name and closing remarks lifted nearly word-for-word from another famous commencement address — that it prompted widespread criticism from social media users to state legislators in South Carolina… Now, less than a week later, Caslen has resigned."

"The Senate on Tuesday advanced S. 1, the For the People Act, setting up a floor vote for the controversial bill. Senators clashed over voting rights and election procedures for hours in a contentious committee meeting to consider amendments for the massive bill… The committee deadlocked 9-9 along party lines on whether to approve the bill. The committee can't report it out, but Senate rules allow Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to bring the bill to the floor. All nine Republicans voted against the bill, even though some amendments proposed by GOP senators had been adopted."

"Shortly after Arizona Republican lawmakers approved it, GOP Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday quickly signed a bill into law that could remove tens of thousands of voters from the state's early ballot mailing list."

"Former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn will testify before the House Judiciary Committee about his role in former special prosecutor Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, the panel announced Wednesday… McGahn will speak only to committee members in private, under an agreement negotiated by his attorneys, the committee and the Justice Department. The interview will be conducted 'as soon as possible' and a transcript will be released publicly shortly thereafter, according to the court filing."

"Former Trump administration officials testified for the first time on the Jan. 6 insurrection before a congressional committee on Wednesday, putting on center stage the bitter partisan divide over the role former President Donald Trump and his supporters played that day… As Republicans looked to focus on what they said were partisan Democratic games to control the narrative of the riot, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee took former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to task."

"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday papered over the significant skepticism of the 2020 presidential election within the GOP just hours after his conference deposed Rep. Liz Cheney for criticizing fellow Republicans over that very issue… 'I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election,' McCarthy said after meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House alongside other congressional leaders." It's like they don't think we have collective memory and recordings.

"House Republicans have removed Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as conference chair in retaliation for her unyielding criticism of former President Donald Trump, his continued false claims of a stolen election, his role in the Jan. 6 riot and his future in the Republican Party."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Memo to President Biden: Life moves pretty fast, and now the world is on fire… Israel is erupting, Americans are utterly confused when masks should be worn for COVID-19 protection and then there are the agita-inducing long lines for gasoline… And that was just Tuesday."

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

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Your activity is going up. We applaud your industry and drive. However, we don't allow link farming, spamming, or other non-related commercial or political activities here. We are open to dissent, on topic content, and even tips. However, the management of this blog continues to reserve the right to remove any comment that may be considered to fall into any of the afore mentioned categories.

Again, we encourage commenting (although we haven't had much here lately, but that also may be a product of the nature of this blog now being mostly news aggregation, we hope to change that back to just being one of many things, but we've been wanting to do that for years and you see where it's gotten us). We encourage dissenting views. We encourage engagement with the world (waves to my Russian and Italian friends). And we encourage argument (in the classical sense, not in the "sibling rivalry" sense).

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We now return you to the regularly scheduled programing.

Linkee-poo Tuesday May 11

Mercury has a sodium tail. And it's brightening lately.

"China's space agency said a core segment of its biggest rocket reentered Earth's atmosphere above the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and most of it burned up early Sunday."

"After nearly five years in space, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is on its way back to Earth with an abundance of rocks and dust from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu… On Monday, May 10, at 4:23 p.m. EDT the spacecraft fired its main engines full throttle for seven minutes – its most significant maneuver since it arrived at Bennu in 2018. This burn thrust the spacecraft away from the asteroid at 600 miles per hour (nearly 1,000 kilometers per hour), setting it on a 2.5-year cruise towards Earth."

"(Voyager 1) has long since zipped past the edge of the solar system through the heliopause—the solar system's border with interstellar space—into the interstellar medium. Now, its instruments have detected the constant drone of interstellar gas (plasma waves), according to Cornell University-led research published in Nature Astronomy."

"It's not just a crisis destroying communities and plunging countless people into addiction, but is also a crime, says documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney. His new documentary on HBO is called The Crime of the Century… It's a crime, he says, that was committed by pharmaceutical companies, distributors, pharmacists and doctors, all looking to profit."

"Daily COVID-19 vaccination rates are falling nationwide, and gaps in vaccine uptake are starting to show, especially in rural America. That leaves many communities grappling with an imperfect pandemic endgame."

"The Indian government has told doctors to look out for signs of mucormycosis or 'black fungus' in COVID-19 patients as hospitals report a rise in cases of the rare but potentially fatal infection… The state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said at the weekend that doctors treating COVID-19 patients, diabetics and those with compromised immune systems should watch for early symptoms including sinus pain or nasal blockage on one side of the face, one-sided headache, swelling or numbness, toothache and loosening of teeth."

"Dozens of bodies believed to be Covid-19 victims have washed up on the banks of the Ganges River in northern India as the pandemic spreads into India’s vast rural hinterland, overwhelming local health facilities as well as crematoriums and cemeteries."

"China will set up a 'line of separation' on one side of Mount Everest's peak, saying the measure is needed to keep Nepal's COVID-19 outbreak from crossing the border, according to state media." Sure, that'll work. (strong side-eye)

On the "nobody wants to work anymore" myth… "The implication is that the federal government’s expanded unemployment benefits of $300 each week are keeping people at home instead of behind cash registers and in fast-food kitchens."

"'We're going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment, who was offered a suitable job, must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,' Biden said before adding: 'We don't see much evidence of that.'" Because it already happens. Several states have tip lines to report people who refuse work.

In normal times, chef Michael Beltran would have a straightforward plan: Take the seasoned staff from his existing restaurants and have them launch the new ones. These are not normal times." (Grokked from Steve)

"The Biden administration is preparing to release $5 billion in new housing vouchers, approved in the latest COVID relief bill. The goal is to help 70,000 low-income families at risk of homelessness due to the pandemic… But, even in the best of times, it can be hard to use such vouchers, which allow recipients to pay one-third of their income on rent, with the government covering the rest. Many landlords won't accept them and the vouchers are often hard to come by. Some families have to wait years to get one."

"JPMorgan Asset Management is bullish on Chinese technology stocks even though regulators are cracking down on internet giants in the mainland."<./a> Hey, remember 2007-2009 when we saved these idiots? (and the counter argument is, yes, but we also made them buy troubled companies.)

"Several children and a teacher were among the dead following a shooting at a Russian school on Tuesday, which left many others wounded… Russia’s Interior Ministry tweeted a statement earlier in the day in which it said: 'This morning Tatarstan police received a message that in School 175 in Kazan the sound of shots were heard. According to preliminary information, there are dead and wounded.'"

"A new round of Israeli-Palestinian violence continued to escalate Monday as Palestinian militants fired rockets from Gaza toward Jerusalem and Israel responded with airstrikes." Isn't amazing how these conflicts always seem to escalate just as there's an election, or some major political movement in Israel (such as Netanyahu being sidelined after failing to form a government for, what, the fifth time now?).

"A Texas man free on bond from a murder charge was returned to custody Monday after neighbors found a pet tiger wandering around a Houston neighborhood." The tiger, however, is still on the lamb.

"(NBC) announced that it would not carry the show in 2022 after controversy surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's lack of diversity and ethical questions related to financial benefits given to some members, such as a hotel stay in connection with an 'Emily in Paris' junket."

"California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, facing a Republican-led recall, said Monday he wants to return the state's enormous $75.7 billion budget surplus to the pockets of taxpayers via an expanded stimulus check program he says would benefit two out of every three residents." I'm sure those two things are not related. Not.

"Five young undocumented migrants, including a 2-year-old and an infant, were by themselves when they were apprehended in South Texas at the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities said Monday."

Why some in Trump country love refugees… "About 70% of Amador's caregivers are refugees. He says his business would not be what it is today without them. First of all, locals don't usually apply for these jobs. As a Medicaid provider, he can only offer around $11 an hour to start. For refugees though, it's usually their first employment in the U.S. They work hard and want to move up, he says." Most employment models are based on exploitation of their workers.

"It's a tough time to be a young person. COVID-19 has robbed many of them of experiences and plans. Their unemployment rate remains high. College enrollment is down… To address those concerns and bolster the country's preparedness for a warming world, President Biden wants to retool and relaunch one of the country's most celebrated government programs: the Civilian Conservation Corps."

"The U.S. Capitol Police identified about 200 members of the Proud Boys assembling on the morning of Jan. 6, but officials sent the department’s intelligence resources elsewhere, a key lawmaker said on Monday… Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), chair of the House Administration Committee, said at a hearing that the department’s timeline made no further reference about the Proud Boys, many of whom breached the Capitol later that day. Less than half an hour later, the timeline said, the department opted to monitor three to four counterdemonstrators who had been 'setting up props,' she said."

"A U.S. Capitol Police watchdog told a congressional committee on Monday that the agency was not equipped to handle the flow of intelligence ahead of the Jan. 6 attack on the complex, and he focused his testimony on a suggestion that the force create a dedicated counterintelligence unit."

"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told House Republicans on Monday that there would be a vote to recall Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney as chairwoman of the GOP conference on Wednesday, saying it's 'clear' there needs to be a change in the ranks of House Republican leadership." Ah, the big tent, party of ideas on full display here.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday May 10

Ernest Angley, and so it goes. Again, not everyone I list here I like or am tied to, but some deaths are inherently news worhty enough for mentions. While probably only regionally relevent, Ernest was quite well known at one point and he inspired a thousand impersonators and comedic impressionists.

"For Sunday morning's launch, SpaceX used a first stage that had flown into space nine previous times. After this launch, the B1051 booster landed safely on a drone ship, completing its tenth flight to space. This is a notable milestone because, in 2018, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the goal for its Falcon 9 rocket would be to fly each first stage booster 10 times before requiring significant maintenance."

"Archaeologists discovered the fossilized remains of nine Neanderthals at a prehistoric cave site south of Rome, the Italian Cultural Ministry announced on Saturday." Not stated in the article, but it's believed the Neanderthals had been victims of hyenas.

"Doctors in Canada have been coming across patients showing symptoms similar to that of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare fatal condition that attacks the brain. But when they took a closer look, what they found left them stumped."

"After a decade of fighting for regulatory approval and public acceptance, a biotechnology firm has released genetically engineered mosquitoes into the open air in the United States for the first time. The experiment, launched this week in the Florida Keys — over the objections of some local critics — tests a method for suppressing populations of wild Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can carry diseases such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever."

"Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the top respiratory disease official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who was among the first to warn the American public about how much the pandemic would change everyday life, is stepping down from the agency."

"While school shutdowns were global, Latin American children have lost on average around three months more of class time than students elsewhere in the world. More than 3 million may never return to school, which UNICEF rightly calls a 'generational catastrophe.'" I'm sure this won't come back to bit us in a decade or two (strong side-eye).

"The U.S. will protect gay and transgender people against sex discrimination in health care, the Biden administration announced Monday, reversing a Trump-era policy that sought to narrow the scope of legal rights in sensitive situations involving medical care." Good.

Because sometimes you need a good news story… "This spring Steve Stuttard reunited with an unusual friend: Mrs. Mallard, a duck that nested in the fuchsia planter on his ninth-story apartment balcony in Manchester, U.K., last year. Upon her return, she laid 11 eggs in a planter filled with grass… 'I know ducks have strange routines when it comes to nesting, and mallards, if they have a successful site, they will return to it,' says Stuttard, a retired Royal Navy survival specialist and an avid bird lover since childhood."

"The shutdown of one of the largest refined products pipelines in the United States following a ransomware attack has prompted speculation about what could happen to gas and diesel prices if the shutdown continues."

"The DarkSide hacker gang that is reportedly responsible for the devastating Colonial Pipeline attack this weekend is a relatively new group, but cybersecurity analysts already know enough about them to determine just how dangerous they are… Under a heading, 'About the latest news,' DarkSide claimed it’s not political and only wants to make money without causing problems for society." The kinder, gentler hacker group. Like SPECTRE, but without the nuclear ambitions.

"A joint US Navy and Coast Guard team seized thousands of illicit weapons last week after stopping a small ship in the North Arabian Sea, the Navy said in a statement."

"Weeks of sporadic violence between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem intensified on Friday evening at a sacred religious site for Muslims and Jews, as the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan nears… Israeli police in riot gear confronted crowds of Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites. Worshippers threw rocks and chairs at police, who fired rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades."

"Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday tapped centrist opposition figure Yair Lapid to try to form a new government, sparking potentially weeks of political negotiations that could break Israel's cycle of inconclusive elections and lead to the end of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's record-breaking uninterrupted 12-year tenure."

"A huge increase in thefts of catalytic converters has hit the nation, for at least the second time this century. Thieves are sliding under cars and trucks and brazenly sawing off converters by the thousands. The attraction is the valuable metals inside the converter, an anti-pollution device."

"In a new report, New York Attorney General Letitia James found that of the more than 22 million public comments the Federal Communications Commission received in 2017 regarding the repeal of net neutrality protections, a whopping 18 million were fake. Millions of those comments, the report says, were funded by the broadband industry." I know, this is my shocked face. (Grokked from Dan)

"Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday that the Republican Party cannot continue without former President Donald Trump… 'I would just say to my Republican colleagues: 'Can we move forward without President Trump?' The answer is no,' Graham said in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity." Lindsey continues to vacillate from sanity to insanity, but here he speaks the truth. The GOP has no ideas and has been losing the demographics battle. Only with Trump and his ability to shake down the suckers and play the strongman does the GOP stand a chance to win elections. Because they have nothing else to offer. That doesn't mean they're actually a populous party, but it plays well on TV.

"Responding to concerns raised by the U.S. Justice Department about aspects of a controversial election review, the leader of Arizona's state Senate says plans to go door-to-door asking residents about their voting history are 'indefinitely' on hold… The decision, which had not previously been announced, follows a letter sent to state Senate President Karen Fann from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division."

"Greene, the freshman congresswoman from Georgia, was there with Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz to kick off what they say will be a series of America First rallies… The Villages isn't in Gaetz's district, or even Greene's state. But it is full of their people, which is to say, Trump's people. The three counties that make up The Villages voted for him last year at rates around 60% or more."

"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Sunday formally threw his weight behind Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York in her bid to replace Congresswoman Liz Cheney as the third-ranking Republican in the House."

Friday, May 7, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday May 7

"The river monster wasn't just large, it was a record-setting giant weighing in at 240 pounds and measuring nearly 7 feet long with a girth of nearly 4 feet. Scientists believe the fish is a female and at least 100 years old." In the Detroit River.

"SpaceX managed to land its prototype Starship rocket at its Texas base without blowing it up on Wednesday, the first time it has succeeded in doing so in five attempts."

"Since his election in November 2018, DeSantis is making good on some of his environmental promises, including what he likes to call 'resilience,' a new buzzword for climate adaptation… Some of his critics acknowledge that the $1 billion Resilient Florida plan he announced in January could be a first step toward helping some communities pay for adaptation. But critics also point out that DeSantis has done almost nothing to put Florida on a path to scaling back the state's heavy reliance on fossil fuels." You let me know how that resilience works after the Twaits Glacier collapses.

"So why aren’t we covering our airports—dedicated spaces that can’t be used for anything other than the business of air travel—with solar arrays? Well, it turns out that airports not only have a lot of empty space, they also have a lot of rules." Like having places to access crashed aircraft. Also, the glass on solar panels can cause glare.

"Scientists uncovered evidence of an ancient human burial in Africa that changes what we know about social behaviors inHomo sapiens, according to a new study… The discovery offers insight into how people from 78,000 years ago treated their dead."

"Coronavirus cases across the U.S. are likely to peak this month before dropping by July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday."

"Vaccinations could soon open up for children 12 to 15 years old, a development that could be key to protecting the United States against Covid-19 as overall vaccination rates slow."

"A new study estimates that the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. is more than 900,000, a number 57% higher than official figures… Worldwide, the study's authors say, the COVID-19 death count is nearing 7 million, more than double the reported number of 3.24 million." Remember people talking about how the official estimates are way overblown?

"Mental health care providers around the U.S. are hearing similar complaints. And many providers, like Cyrus, are feeling it themselves… This kind of mental fog is real and can have a few different causes. But at the root of it are the stress and trauma of the past year, say Cyrus and other mental health experts. It's a normal reaction to a very abnormal year." Sitting in darkened rooms listening to Carole King records over, and over…

"Some Question Whether Hospital Visitation Bans During Pandemic Were Too Strict." Yes. And in many other cases there weren't as strict as they should have been. In general, the policies were written from a perspective of limiting hospital liability, not actual science or best practices. Also "In a survey released last fall by the online site Medscape, two-thirds of U.S. doctors said they battled intense burnout during the pandemic. A quarter of respondents said they were leaving the medical field because of their experience during the COVID crisis."

"A federal grand jury has indicted four former Minneapolis police officers in connection with the death of George Floyd, alleging the officers violated Floyd's constitutional rights, according to court documents filed in federal court in Minnesota… The indictment says Derek Chauvin -- who was convicted last month on state murder charges in the Black man's death -- deprived Floyd of the right to be free from 'unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer.'"

Let's send kids back to school, what's the worst that could happen? "A sixth-grade girl brought a gun to her Idaho middle school and shot and wounded three people before she was disarmed by a teacher, authorities said Thursday. Two students and a custodian were shot in their extremities and were expected to survive, officials said."

"Hiring was a huge letdown in April, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by a much less than expected 266,000 and the unemployment rate rose to 6.1% amid an escalating shortage of available workers… Dow Jones estimates had been for 1 million new jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.8%." In normal times a jobs increase of over 225,000 would be considered good.

"Today, Wall Street's work-till-you-drop culture is under siege. In March, the extreme nature of it came into full view when a presentation from first-year analysts at Goldman Sachs became public… One claimed to be working from 9 a.m. till 5 a.m. the next day. One said there was no time to eat, sleep or shower because of the draining nature of the work. "My body physically hurts all the time," one of them wrote. 'And mentally, I'm in a really dark place.' In response, the company's CEO said the firm would do more to enforce a rule that restricts work on Saturdays." Yeah, that'll help. Welcome to late stage capitalism, it's just like the start of the industrial revolution.

"Friday’s column was mainly about the payoffs to expanded child care, but I also talked a bit about the consistent failure of conservative predictions that say raising taxes on high incomes will lead to economic disaster and introducing tax cuts will lead to nirvana. However, I didn’t talk about why tax rates on the rich don’t seem to have major economic consequences. So I thought I’d devote today’s newsletter to some speculations on that question." Paul Krugman on why trickle down never trickles down.

"The severity of the global chip shortage has gone up a notch over the last few weeks and it’s now looking as though millions of people will be impacted… As technology has advanced, semiconductor chips have spread from computers and cars to toothbrushes and tumble dryers — they now lurk beneath the hood of a surprising number of products."

"Google is adopting a series of changes to give its employees greater workplace flexibility as the tech giant prepares for an updated, post-pandemic return to normalcy… Chief Executive Sundar Pichai announced that Google will allow employees to work a hybrid workweek, which would allow some workers to spend three days in the office and two days teleworking. Google is also allowing some workers to request a change of office locations altogether." But, you know, the ping pong and foosball tables at home just aren't the same.

"Britain's governing Conservative Party won a new seat in parliament on Friday, ousting the Labour Party in the northern English town of Hartlepool with a sweeping special election victory that tightens its grip on traditional opposition-voting areas."

"The speaker of parliament in the Maldives, former President Mohamed Nasheed, was being treated for shrapnel wounds after a blast outside his family home on Thursday, a spokesman for his governing Maldivian Democratic Party said… Two close family members, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation, told Reuters that Nasheed was talking and responsive before being treated under anesthesia at the hospital."

"South Carolina state lawmakers have voted to allow firing squads to be implemented as a method of capital punishment in the state… The Republican governor, Henry McMaster, has said he will approve the bill when it arrives at his desk, making South Carolina only the fourth state in the US that allows death by firing squad. Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah already allow the execution method, according to the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center." Just can't make this stuff up.

"In a breakthrough for an eight-year-long effort, two senators behind legislation to revamp the way the military handles sexual assault cases and other serious crimes say the bill has the bipartisan votes to gain passage… New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Iowa GOP Sen. Joni Ernst said on Wednesday that the legislation would, for the first time, move cases out of the chain of command to trained, military prosecutors. Such cases would remain under military oversight, but instead be handled by criminal justice attorneys with relevant expertise, as opposed to commanders who often lack legal training."

"President Biden rolled out a proposal to overhaul the nation's immigration system on his first day in office… But on Day 100, he shifted to talk about a more targeted, pragmatic approach… It left some advocates feeling abandoned." Four and a half months in…

"The tech company on Wednesday announced it has released a feature that detects 'mean' replies on its service before a user presses send. When a not-very-nice tweet is detected, an automatic prompt reads, 'Want to review this before Tweeting?' The user is presented with three choices: tweet, edit, or delete." Since then I've sent about 4 mean tweets (all to trolls, I promise), I have not encountered this "feature" yet. I have a feeling it's because my insults take a modicum of brain power to process.

"It's a big challenge. More than 30 million Americans live in places without high-speed internet. The reasons for this are complicated. But it's partly because in areas where customers are more spread out, it's harder for providers to turn a profit." Waves at crappy and slow DSL speeds.

"Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday morning signed into law a controversial voting bill aimed at curbing access to mail-in voting in the state, joining a host of other GOP-led states pushing new limits in connection with former President Donald Trump's baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election… In signing the bill during an appearance on 'Fox & Friends,' the Florida Republican highlighted provisions of the bill including stricter voter ID requirements for voting by mail, creating limits on who can pick up and return a voter's ballot, and banning private funding for elections." Sounds more like he was interviewing with Fox & Friends.

?"Texas lawmakers advanced a restrictive election bill in the dead of night Friday, after Democrats leveraged a procedural challenge to negotiate some changes to the bill… The bill, which passed the key vote 81-64 after 3 a.m., would add a host of criminal penalties and empower partisan poll watchers."

"Drive-up voting. Ranked-choice balloting. Weighting by locality. And results we won’t know for days… Welcome to this Saturday’s unassembled Republican convention in Virginia that will determine the 2021 GOP nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general — and it will be far different than the state-run primary Democrats will be holding on June 8 to choose their nominees."

The devil made him do it… "Alleged US Capitol rioter Anthony Antonio was hooked on Fox News and developed 'Foxitis,' his lawyer said Thursday in a virtual hearing interrupted multiple times by another defendant's profane outbursts… Antonio, his lawyer Joseph Hurley said, had lost his job at the beginning of the pandemic and for the next six months watched Fox News constantly. Antonio developed what his lawyer called 'Foxitis' and 'Foxmania,' and believed the lies about the 2020 election from Fox News and then-President Donald Trump." I believe this lawyer should exam the legal president found in If Everyone Jumped Off A Bridge versus What Would You Do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday May 5

"An Antarctic glacier larger than the UK is at risk of breaking up after scientists discovered more warm water flowing underneath it than previously thought… The fate of Thwaites – nicknamed the doomsday glacier – and the massive west Antarctic ice sheet it supports are the biggest unknown factors in future global sea level rise." Insert dramatic music here.

"A rare glimpse of a star before it exploded in a fiery supernova looks nothing like astronomers expected, a new study suggests… Images from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal that a relatively cool, puffy star ended its life in a hydrogen-free supernova. Until now, supernovas without hydrogen were thought to originate only from extremely hot, compact stars."

Round and round she goes… "A huge piece of space junk is about to make an uncontrolled re-entry back into Earth's atmosphere, threatening to drop debris on a number of cities around the world in the coming days. It's leftover from China's first module for its new Tianhe space station — and no one knows where it will land." And where she lands, nobody knows.

"President Biden on Tuesday is set to announce new steps to reach rural Americans in the push to get as many people as possible vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official tells NPR. This emphasis comes as rural hospitals are raising alarms about the pace of vaccination — even among their own employees… The Biden administration is moving into a new phase of its vaccination campaign, one where it knows doctors and health care professionals are often more persuasive than the government." Meet the people where they are.

"President Joe Biden's new benchmark in the fight against COVID-19 -- ensuring 70% of American adults to get at least one shot by July 4 -- seems to be a tacit acknowledgement of what scientists have been saying now for months: Eradicating the virus that causes COVID-19 might not be possible. But if enough Americans get some protection, it'll become manageable." As someone working in healthcare I can tell you, this is not manageable. The disease? Sure. We could probably manage that. But the effects it has on healthcare workers, facing another year of this is enough to drive most of us over the brink. We have a chance to stop it. We should take that chance.

"With India experiencing a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, questions are being asked about how the country — which is home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer — got to this tragic point."

"Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who was convicted last month of murdering George Floyd filed court documents for a new trial on Tuesday… His attorney, Eric Nelson, petitioned the court, alleging that Chauvin's constitutional rights were violated when Judge Peter Cahill refused to change the venue of the trial, and that the pretrial publicity deprived the officer of a fair trial." This is so standard I would guess there is a form letter for it.

"India’s foreign minister on Wednesday said he had been made aware of positive Covid cases among the country’s delegation to the G-7 summit in the U.K., prompting his entire team to self-isolate."

"Once Europe's biggest problem, Napoleon Bonaparte is still posing a dilemma for France, 200 years after his death in exile on the Atlantic island of St Helena."

"More than two dozen Chinese military jets, including bombers, ripped through the sky above Taiwan one Monday last month… The record incursion into Taiwan's air defense identification zone was the latest move to heighten fears about what critics say has been Beijing's increasingly brazen behavior in the South China Sea."

"Part of the issue is that a Trump administration halt on those visas expired just about a month ago, so processing got off to a late start. And on top of that, the work at U.S. embassies and consulates is still 'severely' slow, because of pandemic restrictions, according to a State Department official, and J-1 and H-2B visas are at the bottom of the priority list." Repairing the damage of the Trump administration is going to take decades. And while it is NPR, notice that the interview twice as many business owners as they do actual employees.

"A Florida high school student who is accused of working with her mother to rig a homecoming election is being charged as an adult, a prosecutor said."

"The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case involving sentencing disparities between people found guilty of possessing crack cocaine and those possessing powdered forms, and whether recent changes in federal law should apply retroactively to those given long prison terms for small amounts of crack."

"One of President Joe Biden’s campaign proposals was a $15,000 incentive to help first-time homebuyers achieve the American Dream. His Democratic party allies have taken that proposal and are running with it… Lawmakers recently introduced a pair of bills that could result in as much as $25,000 in down payment assistance and a new tax credit of up to $15,000." Good luck finding a house, though. Prices are already ballooning, with this every house will see a $25,000 bump in price from the get go.

"A federal judge has ruled that former Attorney General William Barr was 'disingenuous' about the process behind his decision to issue a memo clearing then-President Trump on obstruction of justice charges… At issue is a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking, among other things, a Justice Department memo that Barr said helped guide his decision to declare that the evidence described in special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into Trump did not support a charge of obstruction, even leaving aside the policy against indicting a sitting president."

"Rep. Liz Cheney's days as the No. 3 in House GOP leadership appear to be numbered, with speculation growing about her replacement and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy contending she has failed to do her job in driving the party's message to take back the majority… Cheney has grown increasingly isolated within her conference amid her feud with former President Donald Trump, a battle that intensified after she was one of just 10 Republicans who backed his impeachment on a charge of inciting the January 6 insurrection and as she's called out his lie that he actually won the 2020 election."

"(Liz Cheney is) also not afraid of former President Donald Trump, nor is she afraid of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. Cheney has repeatedly called the Jan. 6 insurrection 'a threat to democracy' — a surprisingly controversial statement given what all of America witnessed on live television." I think they meant to say the statement being controversial is a surprise given we have the thing on video.

"Facebook was justified in its decision to suspend then-President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the company's Oversight Board said on Wednesday."

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday May 4

"Take Gunsmoke Farms, a vast property that covers 53 square miles just northwest of Pierre, S.D. The food company General Mills, maker of Cheerios, announced in 2018 that it would convert the farm to organic production. The company planned to turn it into an educational hub to teach other farmers 'how to implement organic and regenerative agriculture practices.'… Now, some of Gunsmoke Farms' neighbors say that the farm is doing more environmental harm than good." I'm sure it has nothing to do with not following the expert advice they were given. Nothing at all.

"The number of children contracting COVID-19 in the U.S. is much lower than the record highs set at the start of the new year, but children now account for more than a fifth of new coronavirus cases in states that release data by age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's a statistic that may surprise many: Just one year ago, child COVID-19 cases made up only around 3% of the U.S. total." Well, they're the only major population left and much of the public discourse is throwing them into the maw of the disease.

"At least 10 people died overnight at the Chamarajanagar District Hospital in Karnataka, India, after the facility ran out of oxygen… Officials said 14 more patients died before oxygen arrived on Monday morning, but it's unclear if the oxygen deprivation is what led to their deaths."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain, Trucker Carlson is a direct threat to this nation and our democracy. "If you let Democrats force you to get the vaccine, they'll have complete control forever." He is, if not a Russian plant, a willing dope for their propaganda. And he's willing to push that just to get ratings. Funny how he now supports "your body, your choice." But he doesn't really. He's just a smarmy asshole that thinks he's intelligent because his mommy told him he was. "Just because there’s no official federal requirement to take the coronavirus vaccine, does not mean that you and your family won’t be required to take it. With the full backing of the Biden administration, private industry and nonprofits may be forcing you to. For example, colleges across the country have announced they will require vaccine passports in the fall." You know when I went to school (both grade school and college), I had to show I was immunized. This is not something new.

And it's because of fuckers like Carlson that we will most likely not be able to control SARS-Cov2, and it will become a disease which we must "manage." "While the Biden administration has been racing to maximize the number of Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, government researchers have also been working on what form the next generation of vaccines will take… They may be combined with the seasonal flu vaccine, or could come in the form of pills or patches instead of shots. Scientists also envision vaccines that might shield against viruses beyond SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) that could avert future pandemics."

"The U.S. trade deficit hit a fresh record high in March as consumers flush with government cash spurred a continuing demand for foreign-made goods… With a new round of $1,400 stimulus checks pouring in and the domestic economy continuing to show substantial improvement, the imbalance in goods and services with the rest of the world swelled to $74.4 billion, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday."

You might be seeing those memes of businesses that can't hire enough people to reopen because of the "generous unemployment benefits" (as if). Well, this might be the actual story… "Already battered by long shifts and high infection rates, essential workers struggling through the pandemic face another hazard of hard times: employers who steal their wages."

Only mentioned because at that level of wealth it is newsworthy… "Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced after 27 years of marriage, the couple announced in a joint statement Monday."

When you don't know your history… "A farmer in Belgium has caused a stir after inadvertently redrawing the country's border with France… A local history enthusiast was walking in the forest when he noticed the stone marking the boundary between the two countries had moved 2.29m (7.5ft)… The Belgian farmer, apparently annoyed by the stone in his tractor's path, had moved it inside French territory." Oopsie. What's not mentioned in this article is the farmer has been encroaching on someone else's land. I doubt the farm encompasses both sides of the border.

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has one more day to convince potential partners to join him in a new government, or risk seeing the country's President hand the opportunity to a rival… One of the key figures Netanyahu needs to get onboard is former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Yamina party." Again.

"A man was shot and wounded outside the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters in McLean, Virginia, on Monday after emerging from his vehicle with a weapon, according to the FBI's Washington Field Office. The CIA said the suspect did not breach the compound."

"Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) developed nations are to meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the most pressing geopolitical challenges facing the world, including Russia and China… The U.K. is hosting G-7 foreign and development ministers in the first face-to-face meetings since the coronavirus pandemic began, and the first gathering of the group’s foreign ministers since 2019."

"Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, said on Monday her party cannot accept the 'poison' of the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and should not 'whitewash' the January 6 Capitol riot -- and Donald Trump's role in fomenting it." Goddamn it, don't make me start liking her.

But the GOP continues down the "part of Trump" path… "Michael Wood, a Republican whose anti-Donald Trump message resulted in a crushing defeat in a special election for a Texas US House seat over the weekend, said the party is compromising its values by spreading the former president's falsehoods."

Monday, May 3, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday May 3

"A 'large and extremely dangerous tornado' touched ground in northeastern Mississippi late Sunday as severe weather rolled through the region."

"Strange sinuous features on a flat plain known as Arcadia Planitia bear a striking resemblance to ice streams within ice sheets in Antarctica, a new study finds. If these shallowly covered glaciers do, in fact, exist, they could be a reason to direct future crewed missions to Mars toward the region. The spot was already intriguing to SpaceX and NASA because it is a broad, flat plain, which is ideal for landing spacecraft. If there is ice not too deep below the surface of the plain, astronauts could also have a water source easily at hand."

"And fossil fuels actually were doing part of the job — more than the 94.5% figure might suggest. California was producing enough clean power to supply nearly 95% of its in-state needs, but it was also burning a bunch of natural gas and exporting electricity to its Western neighbors. It’s impossible to say exactly how much of the Golden State’s own supply was coming from renewables." And it was only about 4 seconds, but still.

"Early in the pandemic, when vaccines for the coronavirus were still just a glimmer on the horizon, the term “herd immunity” came to signify the endgame: the point when enough Americans would be protected from the virus so we could be rid of the pathogen and reclaim our lives… Now, more than half of adults in the United States have been inoculated with at least one dose of a vaccine. But daily vaccination rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever." Fuuuck.

"'If you have ongoing transmission, replication of the virus in places like India and Brazil, you will have mutant viruses arise, which threatens our own recovery,' Gounder said."

"Wearing a face mask will continue to be a requirement at airports, aboard commercial flights and on other public transportation across the country through the summer… The federal mask mandate, which was set to expire on May 11, will remain in effect through Sept. 13, according to updated guidance issued by the Transportation Security Administration on Friday."

"For months, members of the Sackler family who own Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, have portrayed their bid for immunity from future opioid lawsuits as a kind of fait accompli, a take-it-or-leave it fix to a legal morass… But a growing group of public officials and activists are mounting a last-ditch effort to derail the plan, describing it in legal briefs as an unethical, and possibly unlawful, use of the bankruptcy court's power."

"A federal judge has ordered police in Columbus, Ohio, to stop using force including tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets against nonviolent protesters, ruling that officers ran 'amok' during last summer's protests of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis… Judge Algenon Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio described the actions of the Columbus police as 'the sad tale of officers, clothed with the awesome power of the state, run amok.'"

"German police have arrested three men and a fourth is being held in Paraguay for allegedly running one of the world's biggest online networks for sharing images of child sex abuse… The international operation, involving several police forces, targeted a dark net platform called Boystown, which has now been taken down."

"Ford uses technology from a startup called Symbio Robotics that looks at the past few hundred attempts to determine which approaches and motions appeared to work best. A computer sitting just outside the cage shows Symbio’s technology sensing and controlling the arms. Toyota and Nissan are using the same tech to improve the efficiency of their production lines."

"Colombia's President Iván Duque has withdrawn a controversial tax reform bill following four days of huge protests across the country… In a televised statement, he said his government would work to produce new proposals and seek consensus with other parties and organisations."

"North Korea warned on Sunday that the United States will face a grave situation if it continues to pursue its 'hostile policy' toward Pyongyang's nuclear program. The statement, attributed to Kwon Jong Gun, head of the Foreign Ministry's department of U.S. affairs, comes as the Biden administration is set to unveil a new strategy to deal with the isolated Asian nation." Someone is feeling a little ignored.

"The Biden administration will reunite four migrant families separated during the Trump administration this week, while its reunification task force estimates that over 1,000 families remain separated, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday."

"Sen. Joe Manchin on Friday said that he did not support the D.C. statehood bill, a blow to advocates pushing to make it the 51st state after the legislation passed the House last week." The Senator from a state, literally carved out from another state, doesn't believe DC should be a state. That take some serious denialism.

"When Sen. Joe Manchin learned a throng of pro-Trump protestors was threatening to disrupt Congress' count of the Electoral College votes in the Capitol on Jan. 6, the 73-year-old, 6-foot-3 former football standout said he was not ready to back down." Oh shut the fuck up. Take your Yosemite Sam bullshit and peddle it somewhere else.

"A Florida Democrat who released audio of a strange voicemail from Matt Gaetz has called the scandal-hit Republican congressman 'one of the most extreme examples of bro culture', adding: 'We can’t hold back in calling out a hostile and dangerous culture for women and girls.'"

"Last week, Rick Santorum repeated a widely held myth of US exceptionalism. 'We came here and created a blank slate, we birthed a nation from nothing,' the former US senator and CNN commentator told the rightwing Young America’s Foundation’s summit. 'It was born of the people who came here.' His 'we”' doesn’t include Indigenous people who were already here or African people who were brought in chains. And that 'blank slate' required the violent pillaging of two continents – Africa and North America. If the United States was “'birthed from nothing', then the land and enslaved labor that made the wealth of this nation must have fallen from the sky – because it surely didn’t come from Europe." White supremacists gonna beat that white supremacy drum.

"'If a prerequisite for leading our conference is continuing to lie to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit,' Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio) told The Hill. Gonzalez was one of ten GOP representatives, including Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump following the Capitol riot on January 6." That's not a prerequisite for leading, that's basic membership level stuff.

"The campaign to oust the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is part of the federal inquiry into the dealings of Rudy Giuliani, the personal lawyer to former President Donald Trump, who dismissed Marie Yovanovitch from her post two years ago."

"States are months away from getting the census data they need to draw new political maps, but courts are already filling up with lawsuits challenging the redistricting process."

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Linkee-poo Saturday May 1

"International Workers' Day is celebrated with rallies and protests all over the world on May 1, but it's not a big deal in the United States. Back in 2018 , Brooke spoke with Donna Haverty-Stacke of Hunter College, CUNY about the American origin of May Day — and about how it has come to be forgotten. The first national turnout for worker's rights in the U.S. was on May 1, 1886; contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, it wasn't the same thing as the Haymarket Affair. Haverty-Stacke is also author of America’s Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism, 1867–1960, and she explains that the fight over May 1, or May Day, is also about the fight for American identity and what it means to be radical and patriotic at the same time."

"An ancient tomb thought to date back more than 3,000 years has been discovered in southwest Ireland by workmen carrying out land improvements on a farm… Archaeologists say the tomb on the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry is 'untouched' and that some of its unusual features, including a mysterious oval-shaped stone inside, indicate that it could be an early example of an ancient burial."

"Polish researchers examining an ancient Egyptian mummy that they expected to be a male priest were surprised when X-rays and computer tests revealed instead that it was a mummy of a woman who had been seven months pregnant."

"German officials say they have reached an agreement with Nigeria to return a share of plundered artifacts known as Benin Bronzes… Thousands of plaques and sculptures were looted from the ancient Kingdom of Benin — now southern Nigeria, not the modern nation of Benin — by British soldiers in an 1897 raid, and were ultimately acquired by museums largely in Europe and the United States."

"Scientists first spotted the asteroid using the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, which tracks asteroids as part of NASA's Planetary Defense program. It marked just the second time scientists have been able to study an asteroid in space before it reaches Earth — typically, they don't know about them until after it's happened."

"Now, Zoë is a 21-year-old senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who works at an Italian restaurant. Earlier this month came a big payoff for all this fame: A "nonfungible token," or NFT, of the original copy of the iconic photo sold at auction for nearly $500,000. The buyer is 3fmusic, a Dubai-based music studio, which has collected several other NFTs." These tulip bulbs are very rare and valuable.

Failure to launch… "Data received from the Mars Ingenuity helicopter on Thursday morning shows the helicopter did not execute its planned fourth flight as scheduled. The helicopter is safe and in good health. Data returned during a downlink at 1:21 p.m. EDT (10:21 a.m. PDT) indicates the helicopter did not transition to flight mode, which is required for the flight to take place."

"As May arrives, the US is taking a major step toward resuming normal life, with cities, businesses and entertainment venues announcing plans to begin reopening after the deadly winter surge of Covid-19 infections." Too soon, and if it becomes necessary to close or slow down, nobody will follow the directions.

"After spending much of the past year tending to elderly patients, doctors are seeing a clear demographic shift: young and middle-aged adults make up a growing share of the patients in COVID-19 hospital wards… It's both a sign of the country's success in protecting the elderly through vaccination and an urgent reminder that younger generations will pay a heavy price if the outbreak is allowed to simmer in communities across the country." Ta-da!

"The number of deaths related to Covid-19 has passed 400,000 in Brazil, the second-highest in the world, as the country continues to struggle with its vaccination programme… There were 3,001 deaths in 24 hours, after a peak of more than 4,000 was reached at the start of April."

"Uganda has detected the Indian variant of the novel coronavirus, igniting fears the East African nation could suffer a resurgence of cases just when its outbreak has waned, a senior health official said on Friday."

"As a professor whose major field of research is the application of psychology and game theory to ethics, I believe that Frazier’s regret about not physically intervening illuminates two major points: First, a witness to a troubling situation who is in a group may feel a lesser sense of personal responsibility than a single individual. Second, someone in a group of people who can see one another may nonetheless feel responsible to act." A somewhat insightful look into "bystander effect", but it misses a major problem. The question isn't so much why other civilians didn't physically intervene with Chauvin, but why his fellow officers who are trained to act failed to intervene.

"After a public outcry, a robotic dog once hailed by the New York Police Department a high-tech crime-fighting sidekick is getting sent back to its owner… The police canceled a $94,000 contract with the robot's maker Boston Dynamics following a backlash tied to calls to cut the police budget and concerns of police militarization and abuses of force."

"From iPads to dresses, Americans flush with cash are stepping up their spending, helping turbo-charge the U.S. economy… The Commerce Department reported Friday that personal income jumped 21.1% in March — the largest increase on record as the government sent out $1,400 relief payments as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue effort."

"The eurozone's economy has fallen back into recession as the impact of the pandemic continues to hit activity… Europe's economies have been set back by a renewed surge in infections this year and Covid-related restrictions."

"There's a $200 million abandoned village of Disney-like castles in Turkey. Take a look inside." McMansions gone bad. (Grokked from John)

"In an exclusive interview with CNN conducted through intermediaries, two al Qaeda operatives tell CNN that 'war against the US will be continuing on all other fronts unless they are expelled from the rest of the Islamic world.'… In the past al Qaeda has rarely responded to questions, choosing instead to hide behind its own self-serving propaganda, dodging even the most distant scrutiny. It's unclear why the group has chosen to do so now." So, same thing next week, fellas?

"At least 45 people were killed and some 150 more injured in a crush at a religious festival of ultra-Orthodox Jews in northern Israel, where tens of thousands of faithful had convened in one of the country's largest events since the pandemic began."

"President Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday and the official Republican response that followed offered two contrasting perspectives on race in America."

"For months, Republicans like Chase have cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The upcoming vote in Virginia presented the state party with the opportunity to run an election of its own… It hasn't gone smoothly."

"Both chambers of Florida's state Legislature approved new election legislation Thursday that would place restrictions on ballot drop boxes and residents' ability to vote by mail… It's the latest Republican-led effort to alter state voting rules following record-breaking turnout during the 2020 election."

"Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger (R-Lewiston) has resigned following a scathing two-day hearing by the House ethics committee over allegations he raped a 19-year-old intern… 'I have determined that I will not be able to effectively represent my constituents in the Idaho House of Representatives,' von Ehlinger wrote in his resignation letter… He called the committee’s recommendation 'expulsion in all but name.' The committee Thursday unanimously recommended suspending von Ehlinger through 2022 without pay."

"The family of Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot while participating in the pro-Trump invasion of the U.S. Capitol, plans to sue the police department and the officer who fired the gun for at least $10 million." So far papers have not been filed, and this is probably a play to receive some compensation. My guess is they would have a difficult time in court.

"The far-right media outlet Newsmax, which amplified former President Donald Trump's false allegations of election rigging and widespread voter fraud, said on Friday there is no evidence that Dominion Voting Systems and one of its top employees, Eric Coomer, manipulated election results in 2020." Yeah, make it sound like you did an actual investigation.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday April 29

Michael Collins, and so it goes.

"The mysterious Plain of Jars in northern Laos — a landscape dotted with massive stone jars hewn from sandstone thousands of years ago — was likely used as a burial site for much longer than previously suspected, and perhaps for up to 2,000 years, according to new research… The massive jars, which were likely used to expose the dead to the elements until only their bones were left to be buried, could be more than 3,000 years old, new tests suggest."

Opening up a whole new orbit… "SpaceX today was granted permission to use a lower orbit for Starlink satellites, as regulators agreed with SpaceX that the change will improve broadband speed and latency while making it easier to minimize orbital debris." (Grokked from John)

"As demand for electric vehicles heats up, there's concern about a shortage of the key minerals needed to make them. The Biden administration has called for boosting domestic production of such minerals, including lithium for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. And that has many hoping for big business in a desolate spot of California's Imperial Valley."

"The U.S. Senate has taken a step toward more vigorously regulating climate-warming methane leaks from the oil and gas industry, a move supporters say is key to achieving President Biden's ambitious climate goals… Senators on Wednesday reversed a Trump rollback by voting on a resolution under the Congressional Review Act, which gives them the ability to undo agency rules passed in the last months of the previous administration."

America is so advanced socially… Hold my beer. "Dozens of human skulls of Black people — some hundreds of years old — will be returned to their communities of origin for reburial, according to a commitment by the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology… Last week, the Penn Museum issued both an apology for possessing the skulls in its historic Morton Collection, and outlined a plan to repatriate them."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask when they're outdoors unless they're in a crowd, such as attending a live performance, sporting event or parade." Ugh. Bad Idea™. The American Public, by and large, doesn't do conditionals or nuance.

"New York City will fully reopen on July 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday."

"But rampant myths and unnecessary concerns stand in the way (of vaccination). Here are some of the most popular arguments for not getting vaccinated and why doctors want to set the record straight…"

"The Amish communities of northeast Ohio engage in textbook communal living. Families eat, work and go to church together, and through the pandemic, mask wearing and social distancing have been spotty. That has meant that these communities have experienced some of the state's highest rates of infection and deaths."

There's the good news that with the mask wearing the flu season was unusually light. And then there's the flip side… "COVID-19 has overwhelmed health-care systems and disrupted TB care all over the world. Peru in particular has struggled to secure sufficient personal protective equipment and continue medical services during the pandemic."

"On Tuesday, the city of Alameda, Calif., released police body camera footage of an interaction with a 26-year-old man who died after police pinned him to the ground for at least five minutes… Mario Gonzalez of Oakland died April 19 after what police previously called a 'scuffle' with officers. The Alameda Police Department said Gonzalez suffered some sort of 'medical emergency' after an interaction with police." Police who lie on their reports should be prosecuted.

"'He's unarmed. He's just got a comb. He's been combing his hair and he's been loitering there for half an hour,' she told NPR's Eric Westervelt. 'Why this required a law enforcement response right at that moment is beyond me.'… Sherwin said officers never told Gonzalez why he was under arrest before they attempted to handcuff him."

"Three men were indicted on hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges by a federal grand jury in Southern Georgia in connection with the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday."

"President Biden will propose a capital gains tax increase for households making more than $1 million per year. The top rate would jump to 39.6% from 20%… These changes may hit homeowners looking to sell in hot markets." What complete bullshit. This is like "we want to eliminate the inheritance tax to help the poor farmers" canard. OMG, selling my house I might make one-million dollars (Dr Evil pinkie to lips gesture) which might put me in jeopardy here, oh noes! Yeah. Not gonna happen. The article does go on to point out exactly why this really won't happen (standard deductions for example), but then tries the old, "but it could happen!" "For example, let’s say a single home seller earns $200,000 per year. If they bought a home for $250,000 and sold for $1.5 million, they could have annual income above the $1 million threshold, even with the $250,000 exclusion." How many people fall into that category?

"The reopening economy surged in President Joe Biden's first 100 days, with U.S. gross domestic product hitting 6.4 percent, the best quarterly reading since 2003… U.S gross domestic product, or GDP, a measure of the total amount of goods and services produced, hit 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021, according to advance estimates released Thursday from the Commerce Department."

"The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will propose a ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes in the United States, which would be a huge blow for future tobacco sales… Menthol is the last allowable flavor for cigarettes. According to the FDA, menthol cigarettes have been disproportionately been used by youth, people of color and low-income communities. The vast majority of Black smokers favor menthol cigarette brands, and Black men currently have the highest rates of lung cancer in the country."

How goes Brexit? "European Union leaders, their British counterparts and European businesses expressed hope Wednesday that the final ratification of the post-Brexit trade deal will open a new, positive era of cooperation despite the many divisive topics remaining between the former partners."

"Britain’s political spending watchdog said Wednesday it was scaling up an investigation into Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s finances, saying there were 'reasonable grounds' to suspect an offense had been committed over the pricey refurbishment of the prime minister’s Downing Street residence."

"In another reversal of Trump administration immigration enforcement policy, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that federal agents would no longer be permitted to arrest people in or near courthouses for most immigration violations." Good.

"Facing its biggest student speech case in a half century, the Supreme Court seemed to be looking for a narrow exit door on Wednesday… At issue was whether schools may punish students for speech that occurs online and off campus but may affect school order."

"When we think of deepfakes, we tend to imagine AI-generated people. This might be lighthearted, like a deepfake Tom Cruise, or malicious, like nonconsensual pornography. What we don’t imagine is deepfake geography: AI-generated images of cityscapes and countryside. But that’s exactly what some researchers are worried about." I would like to say governments won't be faked or have problems because of open sourced data (because governments can generate their own trusted data), but it's already happened. Also, the first Desert Storm, our commanders were buying old National Geographics to get the maps included because we didn't have current and accurate maps of Iraq. (Grokked from John)

"The massive package -- which Biden is calling the American Families Plan -- is the second half of his effort to revitalize the nation and ensure a more equitable recovery. The proposal would also extend or make permanent enhancements to several key tax credits that were contained in the Democrats' $1.9 trillion rescue bill, which Biden signed into law last month."

"Several former members of the Red Brigades – a violent radical-left Italian terrorist group that was active in the 1970s and 1980s – were arrested Wednesday in France after years of living under de facto asylum, the French government said in a statement." Good.

"Federal agents executed search warrants Wednesday at the Manhattan apartment and office of Rudy Giuliani, his attorney said, advancing a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors that has been underway for more than two years." Whelp.

"A New York City man charged with making online threats to murder members of Congress told a jury on Tuesday that the threats weren't meant to be taken seriously… Brendan Hunt acknowledged he had written the online statements but dismissed them as 'blather' produced under the influence of marijuana and alcohol." See, he was "just joking." Narrator: no he wasn't.

"The fanatical Donald Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol in January are facing an unexpected obstacle to their freedom: Trump himself… Trump’s refusal to accept the reality that he lost the 2020 election — reflected in a torrent of recent statements renewing discredited claims about a 'rigged' vote — has become a feature of prosecutors’ latest attempts to jail Capitol riot defendants they deem too dangerous to release pending trial." Not sorry.