I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're goin' through

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Linkee-poo February 17

"Record hot seawater killed more than three-quarters of human-cultivated coral that scientists had placed in the Florida Keys in recent years in an effort to prop up a threatened species that’s highly vulnerable to climate change, researchers discovered." Well fuck.

"Officials reported Thursday that the Osiris-Rex spacecraft collected 121.6 grams (4.29 ounces) of dust and pebbles from asteroid Bennu. That’s just over half a cup and the biggest cosmic haul ever from beyond the moon."

"In fact, buprenorphine prescriptions for adolescents were declining as overdose deaths for 10-19-year-olds more than doubled. These overdoses, combined with accidental opioid poisonings among young children, have become the third leading cause of death for U.S. children." The staunch "cold turkey" brigade strikes again.

"As part of a growing effort among museums to reevaluate the curation of human remains, the Ivy League school laid some of the remains to rest last week, specifically those identified as belonging to 19 Black Philadelphians. Officials held a memorial service for them on Saturday... The university says it is trying to begin rectifying past wrongs. But some community members feel excluded from the process, illustrating the challenges that institutions face in addressing institutional racism."

"Yet in the United States, the economy motored ahead in last year’s fourth quarter for a sixth straight quarter of growth. It’s blown past many predictions coming into last year that a recession seemed inevitable because of high interest rates meant to slow the economy and inflation." Yes, our economy is doing very well, but this inflation being driven by corporate greed is really hurting. This is why we have governments, to protect our collective needs.

"Amazon is arguing in a legal filing that the 88-year-old National Labor Relations Board is unconstitutional, echoing similar arguments made this year by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and the grocery store chain Trader Joe’s in disputes about workers’ rights and organizing." The neo-gilded-age barons are upset that your puny labor issues might affect their whole pillaging of the American economy.

"And so, the same state that questioned Mayron’s fitness to care for her four children forced her to continue a pregnancy that risked her life to have a fifth, one that would require more intensive care than any of the others… Tennessee already had some of the worst outcomes in the nation when measuring maternal health, infant mortality and child poverty. Lawmakers who paved the way for a new generation of post-Roe births did little to bolster the state’s meager safety net to support these babies and their families."

And in "when you only have a hammer, everything is a nail" news… "In a video that has gone viral on social media this week both for its absurdity and terrifying implications, Deputy Jesse Hernandez hears an acorn drop onto his car. In response, he dramatically rolls on the ground while repeatedly shouting 'shots fired!' and unloading his sidearm into the vehicle, shattering its back window."

"Jackson County's Office of the Juvenile Officer charged two people under 18 with gun charges and resisting arrest on Thursday, in connection with the shooting at the end of the Chiefs parade and rally at Union Station... Police believe the shooting occurred because of a dispute, and not because of terrorism or extremism." Ah the "more guns make us a politer society" gang strikes again.

"The family of a disabled undergraduate who killed herself on the day of a 'truly terrifying' oral exam have won the latest stage of a legal battle to compel universities to take more care of students struggling with their mental health."

"Ukraine’s military chief said early Saturday that he’s withdrawing troops from the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, where outnumbered defenders battled a Russian assault for four months."

"(Ukrainian) Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov said that Russian troops have been communicating over the Starlink system 'for quite a long time' and acquired the terminals from private Russian firms that purchased them from intermediaries." Remember when Musk cut off Starlink access when Ukrainian troops crossed into Russian held territories on the eastern edge and southward toward Crimea? It's almost like Starling can pinpoint the ground stations with great accuracy and turn individual systems off. When they want to.

"The death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a penal colony in Russia's Arctic north was shocking, but hardly surprising... For years, critics and opponents of Russian leader Vladimir Putin have fallen victim to shootings, poisoning with radioactive or nerve agents, or have plunged to their deaths from open windows." We all knew it was coming.

"Russia is trying to develop a nuclear space weapon that would destroy satellites by creating a massive energy wave when detonated, potentially crippling a vast swath of the commercial and government satellites that the world below depends on to talk on cell phones, pay bills, and surf the internet, according to three sources familiar with US intelligence about the weapon." And this is why we had treaties that the Trump Administration helped Putin dismantle. Also, it's not that hard, it's called a halo burst, and it is one of the first strike scenarios we've had on the books since the 70s.

"State lawyers said at the trial that LaPierre, who announced his resignation just days before the trial opened in early January, billed the NRA more than $11 million for private jet flights and spent more than $500,000 on eight trips to the Bahamas over a three-year span. They also say he authorized $135 million in NRA contracts for a vendor whose owners showered him with free trips to the Bahamas, Greece, Dubai and India, and gave him access to a 108-foot (33-meter) yacht." No no no, bribery and corruption are only done by those brown people.

"The Texas National Guard will expand its presence on the border in the form of a new operations center in Maverick County that can house more than 2,000 soldiers... Gov. Greg Abbott announced the construction of a base camp, which will be built on 80 acres of property near the banks of the Rio Grande, Friday afternoon." The problem with playing the tough guy is that you always have to one up the other person, do one better. It's a never ending cycle.

"Prosecutors say Smirnov falsely told FBI agents in 2020 that executives associated with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in bribes in 2015 or 2016 to protect the company from investigators... The indictment also alleges that Smirnov repeated false claims when interviewed by the FBI last year and changed some of his story."

"A man expected to be a key witness for lawyers trying to get Fani Willis disqualified from the Georgia election interference case against Donald Trump instead refused to answer most of their questions on Friday, citing attorney-client privilege during the second day of a hearing that sometimes bordered on theater."

"The Friday decision from Judge Arthur Engoron orders Trump and his flagship organization to pay the bulk of that amount: almost $355 million. Trump's two sons and co-defendants, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., are each liable for $4 million. Allen Weisselberg, a former Trump Organization executive, is liable for $1 million. The total is even higher with interest — more than $450 million overall, according to the attorney general's office."

"The verdict in the civil fraud trial requires Trump to pay interest on some of the deal profits he has been ordered to give up. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case, said the interest payments totaled $99 million and would “continue to increase every single day until it is paid."

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Linkee-poo Valentines Day 2024

Bob Edwards, and so it goes.

"This year, Patronick – who lives in Hanover – hopes to do the same for other people who’ve suffered that kind of loss. On Wednesday, she plans to drive all over the Upper Valley, hand-delivering cards and roses to around 30 widows and widowers... She said she doesn’t have all the answers. She just wants people to know that someone else understands what they’re going through." Thinking about friends in similar situations.

"With Arctic sea ice shrinking from climate change, many polar bears have to shift their diets to land during parts of the summer. A study looking at Hudson Bay polar bears tries to figure out if they can keep up their roly-poly figure, which is what’s needed and found that an overwhelming number of them are dropping the pounds no matter what they do to try to beef up their weight."

"Nearly half of the world's already threatened migratory species have declining populations, the first of its kind U.N. report found. More than a fifth of the nearly 1,200 migratory species monitored by the U.N. – whales, sea turtles, apes, songbirds and others – are threatened with extinction."

"The debate is focused on the Uniform Determination of Death Act, a law that was adopted by most states in the 1980s. The law says that death can be declared if someone has experienced 'irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain.'... But some parts of the brain can continue to function in people who have been declared brain dead, prompting calls to revise the statute."

"A scientific paper that raised concerns about the safety of the abortion pill mifepristone was retracted by its publisher this week. The study was cited three times by a federal judge who ruled against mifepristone last spring. That case, which could limit access to mifepristone throughout the country, will soon be heard in the Supreme Court."

"In December, the House passed a bill that included a provision requiring Medicare to pay the same rates for medical infusions, like chemotherapy and many treatments for autoimmune conditions, regardless of whether they're done in a doctor's office or clinic owned by a hospital or by a different entity. The policy, known as site-neutral payment, has sparked a ferocious lobbying battle in the Senate, not the first of its kind, with hospitals determined to kill such legislation."

"Gov. Jim Pillen reversed himself and announced today/Monday that Nebraska will participate in the so-called 'Summer EBT' food program for kids from low-income families."

"For Perić, knowing that enslaved people lived and are buried in her neighborhood is haunting, she says. She's in synergy with Chapman about the goals, she says, 'to bring back that sense of dignity and humanity to people who never received it in their lifetime.'"

Instead of a snow day, NYC schools tried to do it all remotely. "Unfortunately for (Mayor) Adams, the plan didn’t go so well: Many students, teachers and administrators were unable to log in to their accounts — a problem that city officials blamed on a technology contractor."

"A 45-year-old man was arrested in the theft of a bronze Jackie Robinson statue that was cut off at the ankles and found days later smoldering in a trash can in a city park in Kansas, police announced Tuesday." Sure sounds like he was going to sell it for scrap. Not.

"House Republicans having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time are determined Tuesday to try again with a do-over vote to punish the Biden administration over its handling of the migrant crisis at the U.S-Mexico border." A do-over? I'mma not a parlimentarian, but I'm pretty sure that's not how business is supposed to go.

But they did it anyway. "The U.S. House voted Tuesday to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, with the Republican majority determined to punish the Biden administration over its handling of the U.S-Mexico border after failing last week in a politically embarrassing setback."

"Trump has yet to secure the GOP’s presidential nomination and just last week, he and current (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel privately agreed that no major changes would take place until after South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary. But that didn’t stop Trump from announcing Monday on social media that he wants McDaniel to be replaced by Michael Whatley, the North Carolina GOP chairman. The new co-chair, Trump said, should be his daughter-in-law Lara Trump."

"Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday began debate on legislation to restrict assistance with absentee ballot applications." Let the season of election interference begin.

"The lawsuit by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club zeroes in on the manual’s instructions on operating ballot drop-off locations and preventing voter intimidation, saying the provisions are unconstitutional because they try to restrict protected speech. The group says the restrictions in the manual released in December by Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes’ office put people at risk to criminal prosecution for monitoring drop boxes and polling locations."

How's that Jan 6 as a "peaceful protest" narrative coming along? "Newly unearthed footage from Jan. 6, 2021, appears to show a rioter — a man identified in an NBC News story nearly two years ago — firing a gun into the air outside the Capitol during the attack."

"Former President Donald Trump said America would not defend NATO allies against Russia if they did not meet his definition of contributing enough defense spending, threatening to upend the alliance if elected president again in 2024." Yeah, he did that in 2017 as well.

"Former President Donald Trump on Saturday questioned why Nikki Haley’s husband wasn’t on the campaign trail, drawing sharp responses from both the former U.N. ambassador and her husband, who is currently abroad on a National Guard mission... 'What happened to her husband?' Trump told a crowd in Conway, South Carolina, as he and Haley held events across the state ahead of its Feb. 24 Republican primary. 'Where is he? He’s gone. He knew. He knew.'" What did he know? This doesn't even make any sense.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Linkee-poo Feb 10

"When Rachael Kay Albers was shopping around her book proposal, the editors at a Big Five publishing house loved the idea. The problem came from the marketing department, which had an issue: She didn’t have a big enough following. With any book, but especially nonfiction ones, publishers want a guarantee that a writer comes with a built-in audience of people who already read and support their work and, crucially, will fork over $27 — a typical price for a new hardcover book — when it debuts." The "artist as self-promoter" article all the cool kids were talking about. There's some things about "brand" in here and it makes me crazy because people misunderstand. But what I've just come to realize that for these people "brand" has the connotation of "commodification", and with that I'll agree. Do not become your product, do not create a brand around one product, but especially do not become the product (unless you intentionally want to be famous). There's a lot of mixing concepts and bemoaning the "current state of affairs," but having made a 30+ year career on my creativity I'm left with this; it's the same as it ever was.

"In a paper published today in the journal Antiquity, researchers report finding a cache of Roman-era black henbane from the first century C.E. hidden within the hollows of a goat or sheep bone from the Netherlands. Medical uses of the plant are described in Roman texts, but the find shows its powers were known even on the far fringes of the empire." One pill makes you larger…

"'They thought they were doing good but it made people worse': why mental health apps are under scrutiny." And not only do they have worse outcomes, there is a real privacy concern here. This is my shocked face.

"The European Union pumped out 8% less carbon dioxide from the fossil fuels it burned in 2023 than it did in 2022, the Guardian can reveal, pushing these emissions down to their lowest level in 60 years." While growing the economy. It's almost like the fossil fuel companies and lobbyists were lying to us the whole time. Okay, yeah, milder weather and Russia's fuckery with natural gas prices helped.

But then… "A nationwide analysis by USA TODAY shows local governments are banning green energy faster than they’re building it… At least 15% of counties in the U.S. have effectively halted new utility-scale wind, solar, or both, USA TODAY found. These limits come through outright bans, moratoriums, construction impediments and other conditions that make green energy difficult to build."

"A recent study claiming to describe more than 1,600 possible cases of a 'socially contagious syndrome' was retracted in June for failing to obtain ethics approval from an institutional review board. The survey examined 'rapid-onset gender dysphoria,' a proposed condition that attributes adolescent gender distress to exposure to transgender people through friends or social media. The existence of such a syndrome has been the subject of intense debate for the past several years and has fueled arguments against transgender rights reforms, despite being widely criticized by medical experts." Funny, I seem to remember the same bullshit being said about gays back in the 80s. Hell, it was even a joke on the show Friends.

"'It appears this all stems from a post made earlier this week by Chaya Raichik and her "Libs of TikTok" account,' Dvorak wrote in a report to her superiors… Raichik, 29, is not accused of making any bomb threats in Iowa or anywhere else. But about a day and a half before authorities responded to the threat at Coralville’s Northwest Junior High, Raichik posted that the school offers a 'pornographic' book in its library that 'teaches kids about gay sex.'" It's like there's some sort of connection here, like this stochastic terrorism is actually coordinated and directed in a roundabout way.

And then… "A man in the US state of New Mexico has pleaded guilty to helping a defeated Republican candidate carry out drive-by shootings at the home of Democrats… The defendant, Demetrio Trujillo, says the candidate, Solomon Peña, hired him after failing to win a seat in the state legislature in November 2022."

"That’s how things seemed in Pennridge until November’s school board election, when all five open seats were won by Democrats—a stunning turnaround in a district with a more than 3:2 Republican advantage. A week later, another page in an emerging playbook for fighting back was more quietly revealed, when a group of Pennridge community members charged that the policies Pennridge had adopted weren’t just partisan, but violated civil rights law, in a federal complaint that could have implications far beyond Bucks County." Yes, there is a playbook for right-wing takes of school boards. Yes this is coordinated. Yes it is well funded.

"A Utah high school student needs police protection after a state school board member publicly singled out and suggested the student was transgender — without evidence — inciting threats from her followers on social media… Natalie Cline later apologized — but not before many commenters personally attacked the player, the student’s school district had to provide extra security for her, and the lawmaker who wrote the state’s anti-transgender athlete bill weighed in sharing private information possibly in violation of her own measure." It's not like a lot of people said exactly this would happen. Parents are calling out girls for being transgender who aren't. It'll all come down to, "who is girly like enough." Also note there is absolutely no talk of preventing trans boys from playing on boys teams. It's almost like this is really about Title IX than anything else.

There' petty crime and then there's… "A radio station in Alabama was forced to go silent after thieves stole its 200-foot radio tower and other equipment from a building… The station, WJLX, sent a landscaping crew to the site Friday morning for spring cleaning, only to find the 200-foot radio tower gone. When a crew member called the station’s general manager to break the news, he was in disbelief."

"Prosecutors released new footage of a viral attack on two police officers that appears to conflict with police accounts of their initial interaction with a group of migrants that quickly escalated into a melee that triggered nationwide outrage." In any other profession falsifying an official document is grounds for immediate termination. But police just keep doing it.

"Tax revenues are expected to rise by as much as $561 billion from 2024 to 2034, thanks to stepped-up enforcement made possible with money from the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, which became law in August 2022." It's almost like Democrats know what they're doing and the GOP has been stonewalling actual progress to benefit their rich friends this whole time.

"Elon Musk suffered one of the biggest legal losses in U.S. history this week when the Tesla CEO was stripped of his $56 billion pay package in a case brought by an unlikely opponent, a former heavy metal drummer." Couldn't have happened to a better guy.

"A sizable portion of right-wing media has recently become obsessed with the conspiracy theory that Swift and her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce is a 'psy-op' to influence NFL fans and the singer’s supporters to vote for President Joe Biden later this year. Others in right-wing media are now recognizing the absurdity of these claims and questioning why their colleagues are spreading them instead of focusing on issues that are important to voters ahead of the 2024 presidential election." Whackaloon quotient sky-high.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Linkee-poo February 1

"A new study, published in the journal Science Advances, Wednesday, finds that hot droughts have become more prevalent and severe across the western U.S. as a result of human-caused climate change." We're boned.

"A prized statue of Jackie Robinson was stolen from a public park in Kansas, spurring a police search Friday and outrage across the city of Wichita... The statue honors the first player to break Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947. Surveillance video was released of two people hauling the sculpture away in the dark. Wichita police said in a Facebook post that it went missing Thursday morning." I would like to think this is just about the bronze resale value, but I have a feeling it is not.

"While St. Patrick has long been the saint most identified with Ireland, Brigid has gained a growing following in the 21st century. Devotees draw inspiration from Brigid the saint — and from Brigid the ancient pagan goddess, whose name and attributes she shares — as emblematic of feminine spirituality and empowerment. This comes amid growing disenchantment with the patriarchal and historically dominant Catholic Church."

"New clues have emerged in what is one of the greatest mysteries of all time: the disappearance of legendary American aviator Amelia Earhart… Deep Sea Vision, an ocean exploration company based in South Carolina, announced Saturday that it captured compelling sonar images of what could be Earhart's aircraft at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean."

"When big-headed ants (Pheidole megacephala) invade the savanna, they kill off native acacia ants (genus Crematogaster), robbing local whistling thorn trees of their valiant defenders against hungry elephants. Without ants to bite them, the elephants rip up the thorn trees, opening up the grassland, which makes it harder for lions to catch their preferred zebra meals. Lions end up hunting buffalo instead. The findings, published online January 25 in Science, show that invasive species’ effects can be very indirect — and suggest that changes in different low-level mutualisms might also echo up food webs in other ecosystems."

"'Based on what we learned through this study, as well as the existing research, we recommend that most people avoid dieting, unless it is medically necessary. Our study also offers insights into how people can combat insidious aspects of weight cycling and challenge the cycle.'" The study is based on those who felt social pressure to lose weight, which can lead to slightly different outcomes. Also note that the number of people in the study is very small. But, if you want to lose weight, a "diet" is one of the worst ways to do it. Once you are on a diet, you are always on a diet. Eat less, exercise more. When I am able to stick to that, I lose weight. My main problem is that 1) I love food, 2) I'm a stress eater, 3) my life has a lot of stress, and 4) my work is a toxic food environment (most people bring snacks to share, because surprise, we're all stressed).

"The issue made headlines this week, as bogus pornographic images purporting to show pop superstar Taylor Swift proliferated on X (formerly known as Twitter), Telegram and elsewhere. Many postings were removed, but not before some of them racked up millions of views." The conservatives have a weird obsession with Taylor Swift. There are now major conspiracies that the NFL contrived to make the Chiefs win the Superb Owl (SIC) and at the end of the game, Taylor will be on field and announce Biden's re-election campaign, or just taking power by fiat. It keeps changing. We're going to have to launch satellites to measure this elections season's wackaloon quotient.

"The Biden administration has temporarily frozen consideration of new natural gas export facilities. The Department of Energy will now review the long-term implications of the facilities on climate change, and ultimately decide if they serve the public interest... Currently, there are 17 planned projects awaiting permits — all now delayed by the administration's decision. The pause doesn't affect more than a dozen plants that are already operating, or that are under construction or have received permits. Nor will it halt the export of gas."

"Questions about the possibility of a low-level regional war in the Middle East are rising after attacks there have escalated in the past 24 hours… On Sunday, an aerial drone strike killed three United States service members and injured at least 34 others. The strike happened at a support base known as Tower 22 in northeast Jordan near the Syrian border and likely hit a barracks."

"Employees from a Ukrainian arms firm conspired with defense ministry officials to embezzle almost $40 million earmarked to buy 100,000 mortar shells for the war with Russia, Ukraine’s security service reported."

"A Black man who was detained by police during an early morning walk in a quiet community northwest of Detroit says the white officer who threw him against a squad car, cuffed him and accused him of planning to break into a car also told a significant lie."

"Legislative efforts in Missouri and Mississippi are attempting to prevent voters from having a say over abortion rights, building on anti-abortion strategies seen in other states, including last year in Ohio."

"If presidential approval numbers are not perfect predictors of an incumbent's reelection, is there something else that is? Observers have long sought the True North by which to set their compass and their expectations." I dunno, maybe news should get out of the prognostication racket and maybe shift their focus away from horserace statistics.

"Myers says she also felt compelled to serve after Donald Trump and his supporters baselessly attacked the integrity of Fulton County's 2020 election and the people who ran it, including two Black women who endured threats and harassment once Trump and others falsely accused them of election fraud." Never mess with the Aunties.

"U.S. officials have told NPR that the dip is related to a series of meetings in late December between the Mexican government and White House officials regarding immigration enforcement. Nothing official was announced following the meetings — in fact Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador publicly criticized U.S. immigration policy after the meetings, saying that only addressing the root causes of migration (poverty, violence, repression) can work... But, official sources have told NPR that the Mexican National Guard is ramping up its enforcement. Suddenly, you can see them from Jacumba on the other side of the border fence."

"Activist who led ouster of Harvard president linked to ‘scientific racism’ journal… The rightwing activist Christopher Rufo has links to a self-styled “sociobiology magazine” that is focused on the supposed relationships between race, intelligence and criminality, and which experts have characterized as an outlet for scientific racism." Ah, I see we've arrived fully in the "find out" section of the equation. First his wife is found out to have more egregiously plagiarized in her academic papers, and now his background is coming out.

"House Republicans on Sunday released two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as they vowed to swiftly push forward with election-year efforts to oust the Cabinet member over what they call his failure to manage the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats and the agency slammed the move as a politically motivated stunt lacking the constitutional basis to remove him from office."

"But, Eisen said, 'the wise thing to do at this point is for Mr. Wade to voluntarily end his time on this case.' Even though he is not legally required to do so, Eisen said, 'at this point, the conversation about these issues has become a distraction' from the 'overwhelming amount of evidence justifying the decision to prosecute Mr. Trump and his co-conspirators.'"

"In Taiwan, the response to disinformation was swift. Fact-checking groups debunked the rumors, while the Central Election Commission held a news conference to push back on claims of electoral discrepancies. Influencers like @FroggyChiu with more than 600,000 subscribers also put out explainers on YouTube explaining how votes are tallied." It takes coordination, preparedness, and a quick reaction to work.

"As Trump steamrolls to the nomination, there are ample questions in GOP circles about how – and whether – Trump can rebuild Senate alliances that were critical in his first term but are nonexistent now. The lack of relationship has become abundantly clear in recent days as Trump has publicly and privately lobbied rank-and-file senators and House GOP leaders to kill a major immigration and Ukraine deal that McConnell has worked for months to secure in the Senate."

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Linkee-poo Saturday January 27

Charles Osgood, and so it goes.

"Given that there was a decided lack of transparency at the previous Worldcon for the disqualification of several potential finalists, which has caused quite the fracas online and in fandom, this is a positive and necessary step on the part of the Glasgow Worldcon in order to restore confidence in the Hugo voting process. I’m very happy they did it. This one sentence does a lot of work, and it’s good work to see." John Scalzi on the coming Worldcon and Hugo fun.

"NASA is retiring Ingenuity, its mini Mars helicopter, a week after it was damaged during its 72nd flight. The spindly overachiever made history as the first aircraft to complete a powered, controlled flight on another planet."

"A Florida woman, unable to get an abortion in her state, carried to term a baby who had no kidneys… She said her pregnancy was proceeding normally until November, when, at 24 weeks, an ultrasound showed that the fetus did not have kidneys and that she had hardly any amniotic fluid. Not only was the baby sure to die, her doctors told her, but the pregnancy put her at especially high risk of preeclampsia, a potentially deadly complication." This is the result of the growing authoritarian theocracy in the US.

"He and a group of colleagues have arrived at an answer. They estimate in a research letter published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine that 64,565 pregnancies have been caused by rape in the 14 states where abortion is banned… The figure, while an estimate that may spark some debate, is an important data point since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Supreme Court decision overturned the federal guarantee of abortion rights. While there once was political consensus that abortion should be permitted in cases of rape, that has changed. Few states with total bans on abortion have exceptions for rape. Those that have exceptions require victims to report the rape to authorities, something that research shows happens only in a small fraction of sexual assaults."

"Panozzo and her husband's experience exposes a loophole in the law meant to guarantee zero-cost preventive services: Health care providers may bill how they choose as long as they abide by their contracts with insurance — including for whatever goods or services they choose to list, and in ways that could leave patients with unexpected bills for 'free' care." When a coding error becomes a business process and the rise of "private equity" in healthcare. "Having lived abroad with her family for almost 10 years, she said, 'I could function in a health care system in German better than I could here in English.'" And if that isn't a call for reform, I don't know what is.

"Drug companies often increase prices at the start of the new year, and 2024 seems to be no exception. There have been about 600 price hikes so far in January, according to the drug price nonprofit 46Brooklyn Research… But the increases haven't been as steep as they were in some previous years. In the 2010s, drug price hikes were typically much bigger — up to 10% on average." PR isn't always just press releases.

"At least eight people have been diagnosed with measles in an outbreak that started last month in the Philadelphia area. The most recent two cases were confirmed on Monday… The outbreak began after a child who'd recently spent time in another country was admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) with an infection, which was subsequently identified as measles. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health considers the case to be 'imported' but did not say from where." Oh fuck.

"A new study has found that no cases of cervical cancer have been detected in young women who have been fully-vaccinated as part of the HPV immunisation programme… The Public Health Scotland (PHS) research said the HPV (human papillomavirus virus) vaccine was 'highly effective' in preventing the development of the cancer." That's a wonderful result, however I will point out that the cohort of women immunized is at the early part of the window (26-27) and "Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 25 to 35 years of age in Scotland." Also, most cervical cancers are found between ages 35-44. But yes, this is a good report and adds credence to increased immunization programs.

"A prominent cancer center affiliated with Harvard said it will ask medical journals to retract six research papers and correct dozens of others after a British scientist and blogger found that work by some of its top executives was rife with duplicated or manipulated data." Oopsie.

"People who took an anti-malaria treatment that Donald Trump touted as a cure for Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic and waning days of his presidency were 11% more likely to die from the virus, according to a new scientific study."

"The mutation, called JN.1, is a subvariant of Omicron that was first detected by the World Health Organization in late August. At the time it appeared to be spreading slowly but as temperatures have dipped, JN.1 has spiked."

"'Someone was gently running their palm in a circular motion to soothe me the way a mom does with her child,' McMillan recalled. 'Those few minutes of physical contact, at a time when I felt like I had lost all my bodily autonomy, that was what got me through the biopsy.'" As a caregiver, these are the most fraught moments. Reaching out like this could cost us our jobs (unwanted touch, interference with a procedure), but there are times when one human touching another human is the best form of medicine you can provide. And yes, letting a patient know they aren't going through these things alone can mean the difference between a successful outcome and a patient having a panic attack, crashing, or giving up hope. This is also why I stopped trying to minimize the surgery scar on my left forearm. Patients often ask about it, so it gives them something else to focus on while the medic is setting an IV, it offers comfort to those facing a cancer diagnosis, it tells them, "I've been through this, and you can get through this too."

"They are here for a distribution of coupons for the Fruit and Veg Boulder program, run by county health department staff and community groups. These distributions happen every three months – a family of two gets $40 a month in coupons, families of four and up get $80. They can be used pretty much anywhere in town where you can buy fresh produce – from big grocery stores to farm stands."

"The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Wednesday that it was proposing a rule to bar banks, credit unions and other institutions from immediately denying a customer's transaction for insufficient funds to cover it and then levying a fee on top of that."

"'The pitch of these containers is, "Well, we're saving them." But it doesn't make any sense,' said San Francisco-based architect Mark Hogan of OpenScope Studio, who has publicly shared his concerns about shipping container housing. 'You'd be much better off recycling the container into steel and then build out of steel studs — like the normal way you'd build a building.'"

"The U.S. economy continues to defy expectations… The nation's gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic activity — grew at an annual pace of 3.3% in October, November, and December, according to a report Thursday from the Commerce Department… That was substantially faster than forecasters had expected."

"Oxfam spells out just how well billionaires are faring: 'The world's five richest men have more than doubled their fortunes from $405 billion to $869 billion since 2020 —at a rate of $14 million per hour— while nearly five billion people have been made poorer.'"

"The Federal Trade Commission says the company behind the popular tax filing software TurboTax engaged in 'deceptive advertising' when it ran ads for free tax services that many customers were ineligible for."

"As the new year begins, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) announced today its latest tally of municipal broadband networks which shows a dramatic surge in the number of communities building publicly-owned, locally controlled high-speed Internet infrastructure over the last three years… Since January 1, 2021, at least 47 new municipal networks have come online with dozens of other projects still in the planning or pre-construction phase, which includes the possibility of building 40 new municipal networks in California alone." While I've "solved" my broadband issue here, municipal owned broadband providers is one of my pet interests. They work better, provide better service, and do it at a low cost.

"In fact, more such households and many others also now struggle to pay rent, according to a newly released report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. It finds that in 2022, as rents spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, a record half of U.S. renters paid more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities. Nearly half of those people were severely cost-burdened, paying more than 50% of their income." The rent is too damn high.

How "gun control" could help. "A US appeals court has ruled that a $10bn lawsuit filed by Mexico against US gun manufacturers can go ahead, reviving a long-running legal battle… Mexico's government argues that the "flood" of illegal guns across the border is a result of "deliberate" business practices by the US gunmakers."

"It was hardly the last serious accident at SpaceX. Since LeBlanc’s death in June 2014, which hasn’t been previously reported, Musk’s rocket company has disregarded worker-safety regulations and standard practices at its inherently dangerous rocket and satellite facilities nationwide, with workers paying a heavy price, a Reuters investigation found. Through interviews and government records, the news organization documented at least 600 injuries of SpaceX workers since 2014." This isn't the cost of space travel, this is negligence and a sociopathy that translates to not caring about employee health.

"Elon Musk, the electric car company’s chief executive, said he would 'build products outside of Tesla' unless the board raises his stake to 25 percent." Sounds like someone is a little hard up for cash. I hope the board tells him to go pound salt. (Grokked from John)

"A state law banning gender transition treatment for minors and prohibiting trans athletes from competing in girls' sports will go into effect, in spite of a veto from Gov. Mike DeWine. The Ohio Senate voted along party lines to override that veto, putting the law in place starting this spring." Remember when Republicans were about small government and fiscal prudence? Well, I guess I know what will be on the Fall ballot for a Constitution Amendment. Just let me know where I can sign the petition.

"A church in Ohio, whose pastor was criminally charged for allowing unhoused people to sleep at the church, has filed a federal lawsuit on the grounds of religious discrimination… Dad's Place is located in Bryan, Ohio, about an hour outside of Toledo. Last year, the church began to offer temporary housing for people living on the street. The city ordered the church to stop, citing zoning and safety concerns. But the pastor, Chris Avell, refused." These days I rarely side with religious organizations and their political causes, but I agree with the church here. Although I do agree with the city that the church needs to fix their code violations.

"An Ohio toddler was sent to the hospital with burns and was struggling to breathe after police raided what may have been the wrong address and used flash-bang devices, according to the boy's mother who shared doorbell footage that contradicts the police account."

What happens under "strong man rule." "An unlikely charge of intent to commit treason landed Meir Baruchin, a grey-haired, softly spoken history and civics teacher, in the solitary confinement wing of Jerusalem’s notorious 'Russian Compound' prison in early November… The evidence compiled by police who handcuffed him, then drove to his apartment and ransacked it as he watched, was a series of Facebook posts he’d made, mourning the civilians killed in Gaza, criticising the Israeli military, and warning against wars of revenge." There can be no criticism, no matter how small.

"Email sheds new light on Texas House candidate Jared Woodfill’s role in Southern Baptist leader’s sex abuse scandal… Woodfill has been endorsed by Attorney General Ken Paxton despite his connection to Paul Pressler, a prominent religious figure accused of rape."

"The New Hampshire attorney general's office is investigating recorded calls that appear to use a voice crafted to sound like President Biden to tell voters not to cast their ballot in the state's presidential primary on Tuesday." The deep fake attacks have begun.

"The signal feature of the 2016 election is that it settled the question of whether US conservatism — the actual movement, I mean, not the people in Washington think tanks who claim to be its spokespeople — is animated by a set of shared ideals and policies. It is not… For many years, many people have convinced themselves otherwise. A lot of people believe to this day that the Tea Party uprising and the subsequent eight years of hysterical, unremitting, norm-violating opposition to Barack Obama was about small-government philosophy and a devotion to low taxes and less regulation, and had nothing to do with social backlash against a black, cosmopolitan, urban law professor and his diverse, rising coalition… But that kind of credulity can only stretch so far, and Donald Trump has stretched it to the snapping point."

"People identify with provocative, sometimes violent movements and displaying symbols of those movements. And the symbols usually have one thing in common. They reflect anger or distrust towards the government or towards society as a whole." We used to have a word for that, psychopaths.

"A New York jury on Friday ordered former President Donald Trump to pay a total of $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll for ruining her credibility as an advice columnist when he called her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault." It'll certainly be appealed, but to do so, Trump will have to post a bond for the total amount.

"Punchbowl News first reported that McConnell told Republican senators the politics 'have changed' because former President Trump wants to build his reelection campaign around immigration. 'We don't want to do anything to undermine him,' McConnell reportedly said."

"Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro was sentenced Thursday to four months in prison for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack."

"The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, granted the Biden administration's request to vacate the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' injunction in a case involving razor wire placed along Texas' border with Mexico… The move paves the way for federal officials to remove the wire." This shouldn't have been a split vote, the Constitution is very clear about the Federal Government being responsible for immigration enforcement. That the dissenters are all "originalists" should be all you need to know about what bullshit that is.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Linkee-poo for Saturday January 13

"A huge ancient city has been found in the Amazon, hidden for thousands of years by lush vegetation... The discovery changes what we know about the history of people living in the Amazon."

"Long before the advent of the Apple Watch, Levine began picking apart the energetic costs of daily activities, performing tightly controlled experiments involving body sensors and other technology to understand the implications for metabolic health."

"Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have published evidence that suggests the popular weight loss and diabetes drugs Wegovy and Ozempic may also reduce a person’s risk for colorectal cancer." Yeah, why don't we wait until we have a decade's worth of data first.

"A new generation of blood tests is poised to change the way doctors determine whether patients with memory loss also have Alzheimer's disease... The tests detect substances in the blood that indicate the presence of sticky amyloid plaques in the brain — a hallmark of Alzheimer's. So these tests have the potential to replace current diagnostic procedures, like costly PET scans and uncomfortable spinal taps."

"One key comment jumped out for those who follow health policy: Retton said she was uninsured, blaming that lack of coverage on 30 orthopedic surgeries that count as 'preexisting conditions,' a divorce and her poor finances... Nonetheless, her situation can be informative because the reasons she cited for not buying coverage — preexisting conditions and cost — are among the things the Affordable Care Act directly addresses." It's hard to reverse a lifetime of learning.

"Factory workers at Tesla have been told to expect pay raises this year, a move that comes as the United Auto Workers union tries to organize the electric vehicle maker’s U.S. plants." I'm sure it's just a coincidence. And just another example of how unions benefit all workers, even those not in unions.

"Inflation ticked up a little in December on the back of higher costs for housing and car insurance... The overall cost of living in December was up 3.4% from a year ago, a slightly larger increase than the 3.1% rate in November, according to data from the Labor Department on Thursday."

"The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits inched down to its lowest level in nearly three months last week as the U.S. labor market continues to flex its muscle in spite of elevated interest rates."

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised Israeli citizens that the military offensive in Gaza will press on until reaching a 'definitive victory over Hamas' following its deadly Oct. 7 attack that killed more than 1,200 people in southern Israel... But skepticism is growing in Israel about the kind of military victory that can really be achieved." It's an impossible goal to achieve militarily, and with every strike, Israel strengthens support for Hamas and drives Palestinians into their arms. If you really wanted to disable Hamas, Israel would need to offer Palestinians a better option for their survival. Hamas is not generally loved among Gazans, but between one evil and the other evil killing you wholesale, there's not much of a choice there.

"Post-pandemic burnout is at worrying levels among Christian clergy in the U.S., prompting many to think about abandoning their jobs, according to a new nationwide survey." I would be interested to see a breakdown of this data with political activism from the pulpit.

"We won't prosecute women who have miscarriages," they said. "The Trumbull County prosecutor’s office said grand jurors declined to return an indictment for abuse of a corpse against Brittany Watts, 34, of Warren, resolving a case that sparked national attention for its implications for pregnant women as states across the country hash out new laws governing reproductive health care access in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned." Of course they will. Yes, there are different problems with this case, but seriously anyone paying attention these last 3 decades could have told you this will happen. And then it becomes a matter of "she didn't mourn properly or fully."

"The Transportation Security Administration says it found a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints in 2023. A total of 6,737 were intercepted — or an average of 18 firearms per day — 93% of which which were loaded, the agency says."

See something, say something they said. "Sean Hodgson watched and worried as his best friend of nearly two decades unraveled. His former roommate and fellow U.S. Army reservist’s anger and paranoia were mounting, he had access to guns, and he refused to get help. So Hodgson did the hardest thing of his life: He sent a text about Robert Card to their Army supervisor."

"Shortfalls in required monitoring by American officials mean the U.S. cannot track more than $1 billion in weapons and military equipment provided to Ukraine to fight invading Russian forces, according to a Pentagon audit released Thursday." While they speculate on fraud and arms marketing, actually 59% is about in line with all of the Pentagon's budget that they can't account for IIRC. The Pentagon is notoriously bad at tracking materials and money.

"The mayor of a Texas border city at the center of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ‘s aggressive measures to curb migrant crossings accused the state Thursday of a new escalation as state troopers closed a large public park along the Rio Grande without asking permission." Ah, I see the problem here. You think Texas' border "response" is about good governance and not about flexing military might with authoritarian rule.

"Tennessee House Republican leaders went on the defensive Thursday after surprising people who showed up to watch their lawmakers kick off this year’s work by asking some of them if they had a ticket to get in. The new and previously unpublicized requirement has only fueled lingering criticism that the GOP supermajority is unfairly flexing its ability to silence those with differing political views." JFC, just the peevishness of their responses.

"A Republican member of the Maryland State Board of Elections is resigning after being arrested by the FBI this week on felony and misdemeanor charges relating to his alleged conduct during the attack at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021."

"Hard-right House Republicans on Thursday met with Speaker Mike Johnson and pressured him to renege on the spending deal he cut with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., just days ago." Let's see, does the House still have that rule that one member can ask to unseat the speaker? Yep, I think it still does.

"Hunter Biden has been accused of nine felony and misdemeanor tax offenses. The charges stem from what federal prosecutors say was a four-year scheme to skip out on paying the $1.4 million he owed to the IRS and instead use the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle that by his own admission included drugs and alcohol."

"Bomb threats and false reports of shootings at the homes of public officials, state capitols and courthouses have surged in recent weeks, including some connected to court cases against former President Donald Trump."

"Trump spoke as the judge was trying to find out if the former president would follow rules requiring him to keep his remarks focused on matters related to the trial. Asked whether he would comply with the guidelines, Trump defied the judge and simply launched into his speech." If only we could cut him off during all his tirades.

"The Justice Department on Friday asked the Supreme Court to order Texas to stop blocking Border Patrol agents from a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border where large numbers of migrants have crossed in recent months, setting up another showdown between Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and the Biden administration over immigration enforcement."

"Former President Donald Trump was ordered Friday to pay nearly $400,000 in legal fees to The New York Times and three investigative reporters after he sued them unsuccessfully over a Pulitzer Prize-winning 2018 story about his family’s wealth and tax practices."

"While critics have been challenging what the Justice Department has called 'the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever adopted by the United States Congress' since shortly after it was first enacted in 1965, many voting rights experts say the Supreme Court's current conservative supermajority has inspired new legal strategies."

"As a massive winter storm sweeping the United States threatens to impact the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump supporter Laura Loomer suggests Republican challenger Nikki Haley is "using HAARP" to foment the cyclone and derail the former US president's campaign. This is false; scientists have repeatedly refuted the notion that the atmospheric research program can manipulate the weather." Here we go again.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Linkee-poo for January 11, 2024.

"Tor Publishing Group announced today that Tor.com will become Reactor…"

"A crippling fuel leak forced a U.S. company on Tuesday to give up on landing a spacecraft on the moon."

"Africa’s birds of prey have experienced a widespread population collapse that risks unforeseen consequences for humans, according to a new study."

"Last year was the hottest ever recorded, according to temperature data going back to 1850. And it beat the previous record by a wide margin, according to new data released by the European Union's weather and climate monitoring agency, Copernicus." We're boned.

"The unclaimed dead of Hinds County, Mississippi, are buried along a dirt road on the grounds of a jail work farm, their graves marked with just a metal rod and a number… Every few months, inmates dig new graves and add new bodies to the hundreds already buried in unkempt plots." When the government just doesn't care to do its job.

"Several prominent museums have been unable to display their collections online since a cyberattack hit a prominent technological service provider that helps hundreds of cultural organizations show their works digitally and manage internal documents… The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas were among the institutions confirming that their systems have experienced outages in recent days."

"How did a young man born 2,000 years ago near what is now southern Russia, end up in the English countryside?" Well, the M5 is kinda troublesome…

"Microscopic pieces of plastic are everywhere. Now, they've been found in bottled water in concentrations 10 to 100 times more than previously estimated."

"Dear Struggling in Ohio: 'You're not alone.' Love, the sewer district." Social media for the win.

"Getting and staying focused can be a challenge in the best of times. But with everything going on in the world, concentrating can often feel down-right impossible."

"ProPublica’s Claim File Helper lets you customize a letter requesting the notes and documents your insurer used when deciding to deny you coverage. Get your claim file before submitting an appeal."

"By taking biopsies from long COVID patients before and after exercising, scientists in the Netherlands constructed a startling picture of widespread abnormalities in muscle tissue that may explain this severe reaction to physical activity." COVID 19 is a mitochondrial disease.

"As a physician and infectious disease epidemiologist, I've seen a lot of COVID-19 patients during the course of the pandemic, and there's a question I hear over and over… How is it possible that my partner – or child or sibling or roommate – tested positive for COVID, and even though I slept in the same room or lived in the same house, I didn't come down with the virus?"

"Flannery turned out to be a consortium of Silicon Valley venture capitalist billionaires led by a former trader from Goldman Sachs. When pressed, they announced plans to build a new city from scratch in windswept farmland about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco in Solano County. They called the project 'California Forever' and released colorful renderings of idyllic tree-lined streets and plazas — but no details beyond a pledge to create a 'walkable' community powered by alternative energy." When billionaires don't understand that the law applies to them as well.

"The Department of Justice released new details of a settlement with engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. Wednesday that includes a mandatory recall of 600,000 Ram trucks, and that Cummins remedy environmental damage it caused when it illegally installed emissions control software in several thousand vehicles, skirting emissions testing." Naughty naughty.

"Sales of sugary drinks fell dramatically across five U.S. cities, after they implemented taxes targeting those drinks – and those changes were sustained over time. That's according to a study published Friday in the journal JAMA Health Forum."

"Last week, the National Retail Federation (NRF) removed language from their April report after reporting showed that their major claim about 'organized retail crime' (ORC) was based on faulty data. The language they removed came from the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail (CLEAR) and stated that 'nearly half' of the total inventory loss to retailers in 2021 'was attributable to ORC.' Organized retail crime, or ORC, is a term to describe shoplifting conducted coordinated groups of people stealing items for the purpose of personal enrichment. Organized retail crime has been increasingly targeted by lawmakers aiming to crack down on the crime with stiffer penalties and more jail time. The National Retail Federation’s retraction highlighted that data behind an apparent crisis in retail crime is baseless." Outside NYC, shoplifting is decreasing everywhere. The "ORC" number was started by :: checks notes :: the guy responsible for countering ORC (you know, no conflict of interest there).

"For years, rumors spread on social media that Steven Reece Lewis, the chief executive officer of a now-shuttered cryptocurrency hedge fund called HyperVerse, was a 'fake person' who 'doesn't exist.' After its investigation, The Guardian has confirmed that no organization cited on his resume 'can find any record of him.'"

Why does everyone say the economy is bad, Paul Krugman? "Republican assessments of the economy soared when Donald Trump took office. Even during the pandemic recession, when unemployment rose to almost 15 percent, Republicans had a more favorable view of the economy than they did in the Obama years. And when Joe Biden came in, almost all Republicans declared that the economy was bad — a view that has barely budged in the face of good macroeconomic news… Democrats are not Republicans’ mirror image." Funny that.

"It wasn’t a cakewalk for Chris Rufo… The right-wing thought leader delivered a smooth and articulate call to 'lay siege' to the nation’s system of higher education at UT’s Republican donor-funded Salem Center on Nov.13. But by the end of the Q&A, a trio of university professors had neutered his message." All bluster, no brain.

"Former county clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses in Kentucky to same-sex couples, must pay a total of $260,104 in fees and expenses to attorneys who represented one couple, according to a federal judge’s ruling."

"A ‘faith-based’ leader of Moms for Liberty in Philly turns out to be (subscription required) a registered sex offender. But don’t worry: He says he was framed." Funny how that keeps happening.

"The Republican Party of Florida officially ousted its former chair Christian Ziegler in a closed-door meeting Monday. The party also announced they have elected Leon County Republican Party chair Evan Power as his replacement… Ziegler is currently facing a rape investigation and other charges that he denies. The situation prompted the party to remove him after calls for his ouster from Republican elected officials across the state coupled with Ziegler's suspension last month."

"In the 32 years since Justice Thomas came through the fire of his confirmation hearings and onto the Supreme Court, he has assembled an army of influential acolytes unlike any other — a network of like-minded former clerks who have not only rallied to his defense but carried his idiosyncratic brand of conservative legal thinking out into the nation’s law schools, top law firms, the judiciary and the highest reaches of government."

"The hard-right Republicans on the 11-person county board swept into office last year after defeating more-moderate GOP incumbents in a primary. The old commissioners had for years focused on keeping taxes low and the county’s biggest multinational employers happy. Their replacements reflected an increasingly populist and conspiratorial GOP — remade in the image of Donald Trump… They complained that they couldn’t trust (leader of the health department) Hambley. They accused her of supporting mask mandates and pushing coronavirus vaccines that they believed were unproven and possibly unsafe. They said her employees had encouraged dangerous, sexually perverse behavior by attending a local Pride festival, where they tested attendees for sexually transmitted diseases and administered the mpox vaccine." When religion gets involved with politics, it's never a good outcome.

"Lawmakers in the Maine House rejected an effort on Tuesday to launch impeachment proceedings against Secretary of State Shenna Bellows over her decision to remove former President Donald Trump from the Republican primary ballot."

"In arguments that extended for more than an hour, three judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit pressed Trump's attorney on his sweeping claims of immunity from federal prosecution."

"The No. 2 official at the Pentagon was kept in the dark about Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's hospitalization even after she was filling in for him, according to a senior defense official." See, that part is the real problem.

"Congressional leaders have reached an agreement on a framework to avert a shutdown and keep the federal government funded until the end of the fiscal year." And not two days later… "Without support from the most conservative members of his party, Johnson will have to rely heavily on Democratic support to avert a government shutdown. That could threaten Johnson's plan to add conservative policy provisions to the bill, like restrictions on abortion rights."

"The presidential nominating contests kick off in less than two weeks with voting in Iowa on Jan. 15. That's followed by New Hampshire on Jan. 23." Here we go again.

"Christie ended his presidential campaign after his stance on Trump's leadership and role in the Republican Party proved to diverge too far from where the GOP currently stands. Numerous conservatives had additionally been calling on Christie to end his campaign for weeks, so that former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, who's been surging in the polls, could have a stronger chance to beat Trump for the GOP nomination."

"Trump posted an article on his Truth Social account from a right wing outlet that claims Haley is ineligible to be president because her parents were not U.S. citizens when she was born… While her parents became citizens after her birth, Haley was born in South Carolina. Under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, being born in the United States makes her a natural-born citizen. She is therefore eligible to become president." Can't wait for the calls to see her birth certificate.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Linkee-poo Pre Solstice

"A 2,000-year-old Sri Lankan hydraulic system uses natural features to help harvest and store rainwater. In a rapidly warming world, it is providing a lifeline for rural communities." Again, our ancestors were not stupid.

"New Horizons is now nearly twice as far from the Sun as Pluto, the outer planets are receding fast, and interstellar space is illuminated by the vast swath of the Milky Way ahead. But the spacecraft’s research is far from over. Its instruments are all functioning and responsive, and the New Horizons team has been working hard, pushing the spacecraft’s capabilities to carry out new tasks."

"Doctors working for health insurers can rule on 10,000 or more requests for care a year. At least a dozen were hired by major insurance companies after being disciplined by state medical boards or making multiple or outsized malpractice payments." Sounds like a winning business plan.

"The nation’s largest pharmacy chains have handed over Americans’ prescription records to police and government investigators without a warrant, a congressional investigation found, raising concerns about threats to medical privacy." And yet, they can't tell a spouse anything about the other spouses prescriptions.

"More than 30 million older Americans are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, wooed by lower premiums and more benefits than traditional Medicare offers… But a bipartisan group of lawmakers is increasingly concerned that insurance companies are preying on seniors, and, in some cases, denying care that would otherwise be approved by traditional Medicare." Sure, let's privatize the our collective healthcare safety net. What's the worst that could happen?

"ProPublica’s Claim File Helper lets you customize a letter requesting the notes and documents your insurer used when deciding to deny you coverage. Get your claim file before submitting an appeal."

"General Mills Inc., a Kraft Heinz Co. unit, Kellogg Co., and Nestle SA for years likely overpaid for eggs because the nation’s largest producers and two trade groups conspired to restrict the supply, an Illinois federal jury decided on Tuesday." Greedflation.

"Some officers are still paid in cash, increasing the risk of tax evasion. And, several business owners and Minneapolis officials said some small business owners — particularly those owned by immigrants — have been led to believe they must hire MPD officers, or risk getting ghosted by police." Well there's a racket, and no mistake.

"The Russian military has suffered dramatic casualties on the battlefield since invading Ukraine in February 2022, according to newly declassified intelligence shared with Congress, a person familiar with the intelligence told NBC News… In the past 22 months, 315,000 Russian troops have been killed and wounded, according to the assessment provided to lawmakers. Prior to the invasion, Russia had a ground force strength of about 360,000."

"A Russian propaganda campaign involving thousands of fake accounts on TikTok spreading disinformation about the war in Ukraine has been uncovered by the BBC… Its videos routinely attract millions of views and have the apparent aim of undermining Western support."

"Israeli officials obtained Hamas’s battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out."

"An Ohio woman who had sought treatment at a hospital before suffering a miscarriage and passing her nonviable fetus in her bathroom now faces a criminal charge, her attorney told CNN… Brittany Watts, 33, of Warren, has been charged with felony abuse of a corpse, Trumbull County court records show." (Grokked from John)

"The children hid. They dropped to the floor, crouching under desks and countertops, far from the windows. They lined up against the walls, avoiding the elementary school doors that separated them from a mass shooter about a decade older than them. Some held up the blunted scissors that they often used to cut shapes as they prepared to fight. A few grabbed bloodied phones and dialed 911. And as students across the country have been instructed for years, they remained quiet, impossibly quiet. At times, they hushed classmates who screamed in agony from the bullets that tore through their small bodies… Then, they waited. Waited for the adults, whom they could hear in the hallway. If they were just patient, those adults would save them."

"A jury spent about five hours deliberating before convicting Kim Phuong Taylor on 52 counts of voter fraud in federal court Tuesday in Sioux City. Taylor faces up to five years in prison on each count. A sentencing date hasn’t been set." Oh look, real voter fraud! Oh wait, never mind, it's another Republican. Move along, nothing to see here.

"When the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade, it greenlighted the kind of near-universal abortion restrictions that Idaho lawmakers had spent the previous two years crafting. Gov. Brad Little said the state should turn to helping women who might otherwise have terminated pregnancies… But since the June 2022 decision, Idaho has failed to deliver — even as other conservative states with abortion bans took steps to enhance their safety nets for families during pregnancy and after birth."

"Since then, Trump has fixated on new bogeymen. Lately, he has found one in a mundane nonprofit designed to spot the very voter fraud Team Trump professes to hate. Until recently, 33 states and the District of Columbia — a mixture of solidly Republican, Democratic, and battleground states — used data from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to spot voting irregularities and to identify and reach voters who haven’t yet registered, a group that numbered 4.4 million people in 2022. ERIC has been employed in this way since 2012, without incident or controversy. But in Trump’s imagination, ERIC is the engine for election rigging."

"Trump has not spelled out precisely how he might use the military during a second term, although he and his advisers have suggested they would have wide latitude to call up units. While deploying the military regularly within the country's borders would be a departure from tradition, the former president already has signaled an aggressive agenda if he wins, from mass deportations to travel bans imposed on certain Muslim-majority countries." He's promising to overturn democracy.

"A binder containing highly classified information related to Russian election interference went missing at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, raising alarms among intelligence officials that some of the most closely guarded national security secrets from the US and its allies could be exposed, sources familiar with the matter told CNN… The binder was last seen at the White House during Trump’s final days in office." Totally normal.

There's also news that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that Trump can not be on the ballot due to the 14th Amendment barring those who commit insurection against the Constitution after swearing an oath to the same. The ruling has been stayed waiting on appeal to SCOTUS. Constitutional crisis here we come.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

What the hell happened to you

Sorry for the dearth of posts here. Between everything going on, my brain needed (and still needs) a break.

Almost all my creative production went off the rails earlier this year. I'm working back towards reordering my life. While the Linkee-poos are much easier than publishing my own content, they still aren't easy and take up a lot of time and headspace that I haven't had for a long time.

So, sorry, but not sorry.

This is a post to explain, appologize, and provide a kick in the ass to get back to doing what is necessary. There's still a metric ton of things in my personal life that need attending to, but I will try to post more often.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Linkee-poo Saturday Oct 14th

First, the important one, the On the Media series, "We Don't Talk About Leonard… the background of the man who has played a critical role in the conservative takeover of America's courts — Leonard Leo." Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. If I told you that throughout the episodes there wasn't the sound of an RPG launch playing over and over in the deep recesses of my brain, well, I'd be lying. The right screams about George Soros, and again, every acusation is a confession.

"As the latest Israel-Hamas war reaches its sixth day, the Israeli military pulverized the Gaza Strip with airstrikes, prepared for a possible ground invasion and said Thursday its complete siege would remain in place until the Hamas militants that rule the territory freed some 150 hostages taken during a grisly weekend incursion." The terrorist strikes to provoke an overwhelming response where the target government violates their own laws and norms.

"Four dozen Antarctic ice shelves have shrunk by at least 30% since 1997 and 28 of those have lost more than half of their ice in that time, reports a new study that surveyed these crucial “gatekeepers’’ between the frozen continent’s massive glaciers and open ocean." Place gif of Jack Nicholson as the Joker shouting, "We're gonna take them out a whole new door!"

"Workers are beginning the process of removing the famous Sycamore Gap tree trunk and crown from Hadrian's Wall, which was felled in late September in a shocking act of vandalism in northern England. The tree's stump will remain."

"High school students’ scores on the ACT college admissions test have dropped to their lowest in more than three decades, showing a lack of student preparedness for college-level coursework, according to the nonprofit organization that administers the test." Time to fire up the headlines of, "Why Johnny Can't Read." Let the handwringing begin.

"The American College of Emergency Physicians in a statement called the paper outdated and said the term excited delirium should not be used by members who testify in civil or criminal cases. The group’s directors voted on the matter Thursday in Philadelphia." It was always bullshit.

"Caroline Ellison had testified over the two previous days that Bankman-Fried directed her at several times over the years to pull money from FTX customer accounts to fund investments and trading strategies at Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency hedge fund, Alameda Research. Ellison was the CEO of Alameda when it and FTX collapsed in November of last year."

"Businesses and climate activists have been pushing to shape the SEC rules for months, because the stakes are high. The economy is awash in climate disclosures that companies tout, but there are few ways for customers and investors to gauge the validity of the claims. The SEC's goal is to ensure that publicly-traded corporations are reporting comparable information, and also to make sure they aren't misleading investors about their environmental activities — a practice known as greenwashing, Gary Gensler, chair of the SEC, told the House Financial Services Committee in September."

"Many consumers are no strangers to added and surprise fees, from buying airline tickets to renting a car or ordering takeout...These pesky charges are the target of new actions announced Wednesday by the Biden administration, which hopes to stamp out so-called 'junk fees' and make it easier for buyers to know what they're paying and why." Hell to the fuckin' yeah. Just two examples: we had a basic landline up until this year, it was $15 for the line, but with all the fees it was over $50 a month. Two, just bought tickets to a speaking event, the processing fee was a third of the ticket price (added on top) which wasn't disclosed until checkout.

"The FBI’s highly unusual search for buried Civil War-era treasure more than five years ago set in motion a dispute over what, if anything, the agency unearthed and an ongoing legal battle over key records. There’s so much intrigue that even a federal judge felt compelled to note in a ruling last week: 'The FBI may have found the gold — or maybe not.'"

"Nominated to be House speaker, Rep. Steve Scalise on Thursday ran straight into a familiar, intensifying Republican problem: Skeptical GOP colleagues are refusing to give their support, denying him the majority vote needed to win the gavel." The party of "anti-government" can govern you say? Weird. UPDATE: Scalise is out.

"Republicans have tapped Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to be their latest nominee for House speaker, one day after the conference's initial nominee, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, failed to consolidate party support." I'm sorry, GOP, you've already had a child abuser as speaker. Try and mix it up a little.

"U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was accused Thursday of conspiring to act as an agent of the Egyptian government in a new indictment that places the Democrat who had a key role in shaping U.S. policy in deeper legal trouble as he continues to ignore calls to resign." Time to go, Bob.

"Donald Trump obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in loans using financial statements that a court has since deemed fraudulent, a retired bank official testified Wednesday at the former president’s New York civil fraud trial."

"Donald Trump will be back in court next week for his New York civil fraud trial, a person familiar with the former president’s plans told The Associated Press on Thursday, setting up a potential face-to-face showdown with fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen, who is expected to testify."

And in case I didn't post it before, the On the Media Podcast short on "Why You Should Pay Attention to Trump's Civil Fraud Case."