There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'oppression!'
And the oaks, just shake their heads

Friday, February 14, 2020

Linkee-poo on the cover of the Rolling Stone

"Scientists have found evidence for a mysterious “ghost population” of ancient humans that lived in Africa about half a million years ago and whose genes live on in people today… Traces of the unknown ancestor emerged when researchers analysed genomes from west African populations and found that up to a fifth of their DNA appeared to have come from the missing relatives." Something new has been added. What I always find hilarious is that these articles are written and the discovery of Neanderthal DNA in Europeans that the DNA is discussed in relation of "purity" to homo sapiens. But this DNA is a part of us, it is a part of what makes us homo sapiens. It is not "foreign."

"When you think of wildlife photography, do you see mice brawling on a dirty London Underground platform?… That's the moment that won photographer Sam Rowley the LUMIX People's Choice Award for wildlife photography. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by London's Natural History Museum. Winners were announced on Wednesday."

How bad is the fear of COVID-19? "The MS Westerdam with nearly 1,500 passengers aboard had been rebuffed by Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines and the U.S. territory of Guam before ultimately being allowed to dock at the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville… Although none of the passengers or crew aboard had reported any symptoms of COVID-19, the pneumonia-like disease caused by the novel coronavirus, concern of contagion had forced them to remain at sea after the vessel docked in Hong Kong on Feb. 1."

"Fire officials in Australia are celebrating a landmark moment, saying that for the first time in what has been a horrendous wildfire season, every fire in hard-hit New South Wales is now under control. Bushfires have destroyed more than 2,400 homes and burned 5.4 million hectares of land – or about 13.3 million acres — in the country's most populous state." Finally. And it only took the arrival of heavy rains.

"When the United States of America was founded, it was only a union of a small number of states. By the beginning of the 20th century, the United States had become an empire; with states and territories and colonies that spanned the globe. As a result, the country began to not only reconsider its place in the world, but also its very name." The Throughline podcast on "Becoming America."

Okay, the site has a bias, but… "According to the AP, the (Tennessee) GOP lawmakers worried that women would abuse the law and purchase too many feminine hygiene products during the pause on state sales tax on some items — including computers and clothing. The pause lasts only one weekend, starting on the last Friday of July, the AP reported." I… well… um… what the actual fuck?! Sure, tell me again how there's no war on women. (Grokked from Lizz Winstead)

"The two largest teacher unions in the nation on Tuesday called for an end to unannounced active shooter drills and life-like simulations… The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association made the recommendation with the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, citing the traumatic effects on students." No no no. See, if you stop having active shooter drills then we're going to have to come up with another solution to the problem of guns in our society. And that might lead to having fewer shooting incidents, but it might mean grandpa has to give up some of his guns. (That's sarcasm in case it wasn't clear.) I can tell you when we had a bomb scare at the hospital, frankly it terrorized a lot of the adults I work with. And those are adults. And they didn't have to run for their lives.

"Two Ohio State University football players were arrested on rape and kidnapping charges Wednesday after what local police describe as a violent sexual encounter with a woman last week. The men are scheduled to be arraigned on first-degree felony charges Thursday."

"A judge has overturned a contentious settlement that the University of North Carolina system reached with the Sons of Confederate Veterans over the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam." Seems like the timeline was a little suspicious. Oopsie.

"The U.S. Department of Education says it is opening an investigation of Yale and Harvard universities for failing to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts and contracts from foreign donors." And what may get lost in this story is the DoE never wrote rules to enforce this law. There was no way for these institutions to comply. This is just more attacks on education and an attack on the supposed "East-coast elites" as red meat for the base.

"Two boys with the same disability tried to get help. The rich student got it quickly. The poor student did not." Shocked… I guess the poor kid needs to go find some bootstraps to pull on and become one of those stories we celebrate people for their hard work and ingenuity so we can ignore fixing broken systems. I hear they have extra bootstraps over in the rich kid's home.

How goes Brexit? "Sajid Javid has shocked Westminster by quitting as chancellor in the middle of Boris Johnson's cabinet reshuffle… Mr Javid rejected the prime minster's order to fire his team of aides, saying "no self-respecting minister" could accept such a condition." I see we've reached the "tell them you're re-engineering" envelope early (this is a reference to the "3 Envelopes" joke).

"Right before the deadly coronavirus outbreak set in, Germany's economy ground to a halt — setting up the country for a tough 2020 just when it was meant to be kicking into recovery mode."

"Euro zone economic growth slowed as expected in the last three months of 2019 as gross domestic product shrank in France and Italy against the previous quarter, but employment growth picked up more than expected, official estimates showed on Friday."

"Stocks are at record highs, the job market is booming and fears about China’s deadly coronavirus have eased on Wall Street. The bond market, however, is again flashing a potential warning signal for the global economy… A sharp rally in Treasurys (SIC) in recent weeks led parts of the U.S. yield curve to invert, a signal that is often a harbinger of a recession." This is the 3rd inversion in 2 years. Have I mentioned how credit card debt is now the highest ever, and defaults are increasing? Also how the subprime car loan industry is hitting some bumps as well?

"A California man who spent 14 years in prison for the murder of a newspaper columnist has been exonerated thanks to the same DNA technology that caught the Golden State Killer suspect, authorities said." Another broken system.

"That was more than two years ago. Vadell and five other executives for the Houston-based oil conglomerate have been held in Venezuelan prisons ever since. The South American government charged them with embezzlement and other crimes, but U.S. officials call them pawns — caught between socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s battle to stay in power and the Trump administration’s effort to oust him." After Guaido appeared at the State of the Union, their internment became a little harsher.

"Turkey will use force against rebel groups violating a ceasefire in Syria’s northwest Idlib region, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday, in an apparent response to Russian criticism." I believe the technical term for this is "escalation."

"Turkey-Syria clashes escalate as 800,000 displaced people battle bitter temperatures."

"A Florida jury acquitted a Chinese woman Wednesday of trespassing at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort after she testified she didn't understand a security guard who told her to leave." Uh huh. Sure.

"The Senate passed an Iran War Powers resolution on Thursday, a rare measure that was approved with bipartisan support despite the fact that it has been opposed by President Donald Trump and aims to rein in his ability to use military action against Iran without congressional approval." Won't mean much until they can get a veto-proof majority.

How's that border wall coming? "A visit to the now-defunct Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course in Brownsville, Texas, is a cautionary tale of how Trump's border wall can create dead zones. The clubhouse is shuttered, par signs are fading, and the once-manicured greens are fields of weeds." One person is watching the destruction of his personal economics, but still supports Trump. So much for that "economic worried" narrative.

"The Trump administration has notified Congress that it plans to divert $3.8 billion from the Defense Department's budget to build the border wall." That's in addition to all the other money he diverted last year. I didn't know Mexico funded our DoD.

"Jared Kushner has been quietly trying to resurrect discussions to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, multiple people familiar with the conversations have told NPR." So much for peace in the Middle East.

"'When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper,' Trump wrote in a pair of tweets, accusing Kelly of merely seeking the spotlight." Didn't know the guy. I think he got coffee.

"A barrage of former justice department figures have sounded the alarm following a decision on Tuesday by the US attorney general, William Barr, to undercut a sentencing recommendation for Trump’s friend Roger Stone. In a new court filing, Barr’s office condemned the initial recommendation of seven to nine years in prison as 'excessive and unwarranted'." Unfortunately there is no law that forbids this, but it's been held of obvious that no president would do this for fear of being tossed out of office for corruption. Trump doesn't have that fear.

"Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee after the Justice Department took the unusual step of intervening in Roger Stone's sentencing recommendation." Anybody taking bets on this yet?

"In an exclusive interview, Attorney General Bill Barr told ABC News on Thursday that President Donald Trump 'has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case' but should stop tweeting about the Justice Department because his tweets 'make it impossible for me to do my job.'" AG Barr says he's not being bullied by the president, and that's true. When you're a willing sycophant, they person of your adoration can't bully you. You do it willingly. While the media is playing this as Barr pushing back against the president, that's not what is happening here. Barr knows what the president wants and is more than willing to just do it.

"Judy Shelton has had a decades-long affinity for the gold standard, but she’s been downplaying that since President Donald Trump nominated her to the Federal Reserve Board. She slammed low interest rates for years, but now she supports Trump’s view that rates should be cut to zero. And she has abandoned her view that the central bank shouldn’t try to cater to financial markets." There goes the Fed.

"The elections office of Florida's third-most populous county was breached by a crippling cyberattack in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, NPR confirmed on Thursday… There is no indication that the ransomware attack was connected to Russian interference efforts leading up to the last presidential race, but the revelation about it now shows how election officials are preparing for this year's election without knowing all the details of what happened before." Bwu-what?

"Hope Hicks, a one-time close aide and communications director to President Donald Trump, will return to the White House next month after two years away to work closely with key advisors, administration officials said on Thursday."

If you want to know whom the media (and the billionaires who run it) are afraid of, just look to whom their either ignore or dismiss. "After a devastating fourth place finish in New Hampshire Tuesday night, the Massachusetts Democrat's path to her party's nomination for president has drastically narrowed. It is a bleak new political reality for the senator, who was topping national and early state polls as recently as a handful of months ago, and at her peak, seemed to have unstoppable momentum." Notice they're not asking Biden to bow out.

"A new poll found a majority of respondents classified former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s job at Burisma as 'inappropriate.'… A Politico/Morning Consult poll found 52 percent of participants found the fact that Hunter Biden sat on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma 'inappropriate,' compared to 18 percent of people who thought it was appropriate." Dear The Hill, given your complicity in this scandal, you don't get to comment on this. Also, most of the public would be astonished to find out the real qualifications of people who sit on corporate boards across this country (hint, they're not qualified, but just well connected). Basically in this case, only one side has garnered the attention of the public (because shouting, "hey, here's a scandal" gets more attention than, "it's nothing"). And this article outlines exactly what Trump was trying to do with his call to Ukraine. The Hill also muddles some of the facts with unclear and intentionally poor writing here.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday

The alligators have been frisky today.

"This week on Hidden Brain, we explore the paradox of our passion for politics: we're more informed than ever, but many of us are also less politically active. Why do we see politics as something that happens on Capitol Hill, and not in our neighborhoods? How do we re-frame politics from a form of entertainment to a vehicle for change in our lives? Hersh suggests that the solutions may be less daunting than we think." Here we are now entertain us. Or it's all fun and games until they come for you. These past 3 years have been filled with stories of, "Well, yes, he said he would do this, but I didn't think it would affect me." Surprise. We're all in this together. However this podcast misses a number of issues which can be summed up with the line from Ford Prefect, "They care, we don't, they win. Let's find a party." Also, I have had power. I don't crave it anymore. The concept of people are always after power is a canard. Also, I believe Dr. Hersh's conclusions are more a product of the self-selected nature of his students (Tufts) and that socio-economic class than the full reality. Although I will agree that there are lots of hobbyists. I also agree with the observation that the way to power is helping people with their needs (and not talking policy) and that political parties should be at the front of doing these things. And then it makes me wonder if Dr. Hersh doesn't believe that the cathartic release of Trump's rallies for his followers is one of those needs.

\ "Sudan says it has signed a deal to settle claims related to the bombing attack on the USS Cole 20 years ago, in a move that could end lawsuits filed by victims and their families and also improve Sudan's chances of getting off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism."

"The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection made a surprising admission this week about the agency's Seattle field office…Last month, officers at a border crossing there pulled aside hundreds of Iranian-Americans — including U.S citizens and green card holders — and held them for hours… 'In that specific office,' acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan said at a briefing with reporters in Washington, 'leadership just got a little overzealous.'" Or to paraphrase, "He he he, well, we just got a little ahead of ourselves there." Note there's no real plan to resolve the problem of "overzealous" officers.

"Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council aide and impeachment witness President Donald Trump fired Friday, was just doing his job, former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told students and guests at a Drew University event here Wednesday night." And so continues the attempt by some to rectify their reputations. So now Kelly comes off as the kinder, gentler, fascist supporter.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Linkee-poo Wednesday

For your rejectomancy consideration… "If you’ve gotten more than a few rejections, maybe even from me, you may have heard 'I’m sorry, I just didn’t fall in love with this,' as a reason an agent isn’t offering representation or an editor isn’t offering a book deal." (Grokked from DongWon Song)

"I’ve found that the insidious problem for me in scrolling through social media is that it feels like action. Ironically, it also creates – in me – a profound feeling of being out of control over events in the wider world, while generating a huge amount of anxiety and worry. But while surfacing atrocity after atrocity, treason after treason, may feel like action, we often find that our righteous need for easy action turns us into agents in the proliferation of disinformation and chaos." Kameron Hurley puts it succinctly, although I do try and find what I believe are creditable sources for the links I post here (or at least see that other outlets are reporting on the same story). She is also truthful on reclaiming our own space. I wanted to do this in 2016, but then the election tossed those ideas in the bin. After this coming election (in November) I am thinking of taking an internet vacation for some duration. I need to break out of this mindset. In the last year I've reclaimed some time for writing (I really want to write those other projects but I feel relieved to write a stock sword and sorcery story like I loved when I was a kid). I like to designing silly things, which are the t-shirts I sell (buy my stuff!), but even that has been hard to prioritize in this last year. I could probably write 7000 words on the storms that are tearing at me even if I just focus on reclaiming myself (and not about the storms themselves, which tend to be the focus of this blog, for which I've written hundreds of thousands of words over the past 3 years).

"Scientists have taken a small step toward personalizing treatment for depression… A study of more than 300 people with major depression found that brain wave patterns predicted which ones were most likely to respond to the drug sertraline (Zoloft), a team reported Monday in the journal Nature Biotechnology."

"Tracking data from almost 350,000 patients with a large commercial insurer, the researchers found that more than 20% were hit with an unpaid balance, according to a study released Tuesday in JAMA. The average bill was over $2,000. The researchers didn't have the actual bills received by patients, so they calculated what health care providers could bill based on claims data: unexpected out-of-network charges minus average costs insurance would pay." Uh, yeah. I think they estimated low.

"In an incredible feat of remote engineering, NASA has fixed one of the most intrepid explorers in human history. Voyager 2, currently some 11.5 billion miles from Earth, is back online and resuming its mission to collect scientific data on the solar system and the interstellar space beyond." (Grokked from Dan)

"NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a rare view of one of these dust devils in action. The MRO HiRise camera team at the University of Arizona shared the fascinating photo on Monday."

"NASA and SpaceX are closing in on the first launch of humans into orbit from US soil since 2011, when the space shuttle made its final flight… Although the space agency has not yet said so publicly, NASA is working toward a May 7 launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station." (Grokked from John)

"Yet Ginsburg said on Monday that one of her life’s goals — writing a strong prohibition against gender discrimination into the Constitution — must be put on hold." That's not exactly what she said, but boy does that get the clicks.

"There was a time when congressional Republicans railed against the budget deficit. In recent history, think of the Tea Party movement, whose members called for driving down debt, deficits and government spending… But the U.S. deficit has soared, and the budget proposal (Trump) unveiled Monday is no match for it." It's so cute that some of the true believers still think they're a part of the party and haven't been pushed aside by the social conservatives that they rallied in the 80s to keep in power. Also, as the president likes to tell us, we are in the midst of a booming economy, this is exactly the moment we should not be having deficit spending and be paying down our debt. Because when the bad times come, government needs to spend.

"Today the Trump administration released its comprehensive budget for the Federal government for FY 2021. The White House has requested that Congress appropriate $33.4 million to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the orderly closure of the agency. This amount includes funds to meet grants and matching offers awarded prior to October 1, 2020, as well as funds to cover administrative expenses." Autocrats and fascists don't need culture when they will tell you what you like, what your history is, and what you can appreciate. These programs, the National Endowments, have long been a target of conservatives.

"Fresh off a series of scathing attacks from Donald Trump because of his vote to remove the president from office, Mitt Romney spent Tuesday hunting for votes for the president’s agenda." Don't get caught up in the petty squabbles. They'll all support Trump when it comes down to the clutch. Romney knew he could cast his vote to find Trump guilty and it wouldn't mean a damn thing except for his positioning and self-gratification.

"The Department of Justice will reverse course Tuesday on its sentencing recommendation for President Donald Trump's longtime friend and former campaign adviser Roger Stone, a senior DOJ official said, only hours after Trump himself reacted to the recommendation by calling it a 'miscarriage of justice.'" For not having "any connections" the timing is awfully suspect. And despite having decided before Trump tweeted, according to the DoJ spokesperson, they waited to announce until after the tweet. But then the DoJ knows that if Trump's tweet and or ire is actually connected to their reversal, this is another impeachable act.

And then, "Two lead prosecutors on Roger Stone’s case abruptly withdrew from that proceeding Tuesday afternoon, just over a week before Stone’s sentencing — in an apparent protest of interference from Justice Department higher-ups over a sentencing recommendation for the longtime Trump adviser." With one of them resigning from the DoJ completely. I think that tells us exactly where the orders for this came from. And now all four lawyer who prosecuted the case have asked to be removed, with one resigning from the DoJ entirely.

"The New Hampshire primary is over and Sen. Bernie Sanders has been named the victor with 26% of the vote with 94% of precincts reporting." Shocking he won in his home state.

"Democratic voters turning out for Tuesday's New Hampshire primary say they are looking for a candidate who can beat President Donald Trump over one who agrees with them on the issues by a roughly 2-to-1 margin, according to early exit polls conducted for CNN… Six in 10 Democratic voters in New Hampshire prioritize a nominee who can beat Trump. Yet Democrats seem split over what qualities a candidate ought to have." Dear fellow Democrats, vote for the person of your choice, don't try to game the November election. And then support whomever is the nominee and get the fuck out to vote and we will win.

"President Donald Trump claimed that his rally on Monday had been attended by '40 to 50,000' people, despite the venue holding fewer than 12,000 people."

"Among them was a 1963 poem called 'The Snake,' which Trump interpreted as a parable on the dangers of illegal immigration. Many critics have repeatedly denounced Trump's version of the poem as racist scaremongering."

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday's child

Planet Money podcast with… "Here is a thing we hear approximately every day: 'The world is changing faster than ever before.'… Robert Gordon doesn't buy it." Having lived through the 90s computer revolution, yes this. One a tangent, there are ways to measure productivity of healthcare workers. Trust me, my annual review at the hospital includes them.

"For wolf advocate Larry Wiess, the battle to bring wolves back to Colorado isn't just about ecology. It's about challenging more than a century of U.S. wildlife management… According to the coalition backing the plan, it'd also be the first time that voters — in any state — would decide whether to reintroduce an endangered species."

"The first US evacuee from China known to be infected with the Wuhan coronavirus was mistakenly released from a San Diego hospital after an initial test found the person had not been infected, local health officials said Monday." Oopsie.

"China's government on Tuesday fired two senior health officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, placing Beijing in direct control of efforts there to contain its spread." Totally normal, not spinning out of control, no sir.

"Lovell is one of about 10 state workers participating in a year-old program to lower prescription drug costs by having (Utah) public employees buy their medication in Mexico at a steep discount compared to U.S. prices. The program appears to be the first of its kind, and is a dramatic example of steps states are taking to alleviate the high cost of prescription drugs." It's cheaper for them to travel to Mexico to buy some drugs. (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

"In recent years, headlines, pundits and politicians have often warned that we’re in the midst of a job-stealing robot revolution; but roboticists argue that their creations will complement, rather than replace, us. In Japan, the robots are already here – what’s more, many are actively embracing the robot age, from suburban nursing homes to the highest levels of government, which announced an investment of 100bn yen ($100m) in robot development a few years ago. Some entities are even highlighting robotic colleagues as a selling point to young, new recruits."

"A coalition of senators called on Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to address high rates of work-related injuries at the company’s massive warehouse facilities, saying they were concerned the tech giant had focused more on profits than its 'own workers’ safety and health.'" Naughty naughty. Who would have thought unbridled capitalism would exploit the workers (sit down, Karl Marx, we all know what you think).

"The Justice Department announced charges Monday against four members of the Chinese military for allegedly hacking the credit bureau Equifax in 2017 and stealing the personal information of around 145 million Americans." Voice over before the play, "Tonight, the part of Russia will be played by the Chinese."

"At the direction of President Rodrigo Duterte, a fierce critic of the United States, the Philippines announced Tuesday that it would scrap a security pact that allows American forces to train there." So much winning.

"North Korea illegally exported millions of tons of commodities like coal last year to enhance its ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons programs, according to a confidential UN report."

But "President Donald Trump has told top foreign policy advisers that he does not want another summit with Kim Jong Un before the presidential election in November, according to two sources familiar with the discussions." Oh look, it's another bankrupted casino.

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) is under fire after a whistleblower complaint revealed that the department had given over $1 million in anti-human trafficking grants to two groups, Hookers for Jesus and the Lincoln Tubman Foundation, rather than highly recommended, established groups." For draining the swamp, there sure are lots of alligators and snakes in here, plus the ground is awfully, well, swampy. Welcome my friends to the show that never ends…

"The Trump administration wants to slash billions of dollars in federal support from Medicaid, food stamps and other safety net programs for the poor, while largely sparing the Medicare program that benefits seniors." As I tweeted last night, the Democratic presidential candidates need to grab copies of this budge and start a fire and brimstone revival type speech where they say, "This is the conservative agenda, this is their view of the America they want" and start listing off what will be cut and how that affects everybody. I know, it'll require in depth knowledge and knowing the results of a lot of studies, but you're asking for the top job, I think you (and your speech writers) could handle it. "The administration wants to require that those claiming the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and credit for other dependents provide a Social Security number, which would target immigrants. This would save nearly $73 billion over 10 years, according to the budget's summary table." As you know form the link posted previously, this is a red herring. People without SS numbers can't claim those anyway.

"A $4.8 trillion budget proposal that President Donald Trump unveiled on Monday would provide more than $80 million for a new FBI office in Cleveland and $320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration initiative, but would cut an Energy Department loan program that an electric truck builder has planned to use to repurpose General Motors’ closed Lordstown plant." Hey look, Lordstown, you're getting fucked again. How do ya like Trump now?

The people who control the actual pursestrings. "Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi said Monday he will not hold a hearing on Donald Trump’s $4.8 trillion budget, warning that it will turn into a 'diatribe against the president.'… Trump’s budget for fiscal year 2021 offered a conservative outline for spending levels — but is merely an aspirational document. The White House and Congress have already decided on their spending caps for the upcoming fiscal year."

"Trump over the weekend retweeted several conservative personalities and stories attempting to connect (Mitt Romney) to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma and its former board member Hunter Biden, two parties at the center of Trump’s attempted quid pro quo. The allegation was featured in several far-right blog posts: A senior adviser from Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign was on Burisma’s board of directors, and that by voting to impeach Trump last week, Romney was covering for his fellow swamp crony." Burisma, Benghazi, it's all good.

"Transcript: Lindsey Graham on 'Face the Nation,' February 9, 2020". JFC, this is the rantings of a person on the verge of a mental breakdown. The contradictions, the blender of issues and events, sentences next to each other that are completely the opposite. Just staggering. He says in one sentence that the Russians are still engaging in disinformation and we should scrutinize any information coming from them, but we need to investigate the Bidens… which the charges against the Bidens are Russian propaganda. And I'll just say it here, the Steele Dossier has mostly been proven (not all of it, not the most salacious details). He's swallowed the Deep State conspiracy. Senator Graham, are you okay? 'Cause you might be having a stroke. (Grokked form Chuck Wendig)

"The sloppy roll-out of Iowa results prompted disinformation and confusion over the mechanics of the caucus system. This week, On the Media looks at the origins of the nomination process to explain how we got here. Plus, local reporters in New Hampshire examine the power struggle at the heart of the upcoming contest." The New Hampshire "First in the Nation" industrial complex.

"The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings. Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside."

"Climate change is a top issue in the Democratic presidential primaries and some candidates have taken relatively aggressive policy stands, including vows to ban hydraulic fracturing. But some Democrats worry that could push moderate voters in key swing states to reelect President Trump next November." Want to know how to change it. Explain to people just how much they've been underpaid for leases on their land considering the long term damage fracking has done. Explain how much profit the companies have made (even with the lower price of natural gas) compared to fractured water tables and environmental damage to these people's land which may make their homes less sellable (including the incurred lost of the mineral value). Then you can bring up climate change.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday

Also don't miss the post from late yesterday.

"Chinese President Xi Jinping insisted the country will win the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, saying he will adopt more decisive measures to contain the spread." Uh, yeah, Bob. The problem with the novel coronavirus (and SARS/MERS) isn't so much "combatting" the disease as it is a warning sign. The novel coronavirus is now in the population, quarantine will only help so much. It's doubtful we will find a "cure" (but hopefully a successful standard of treatment), although a vaccine would be nice. But for the time being novel coronavirus will burn through the population in Wuhan, and hopefully we can "contain" it's spread. But it will spread. The big question, however, is how do we prevent these outbreaks from occurring and how can we stop the spread early. I'll just note here that the NSC no longer has a team dedicated to the spread of contagious diseases and the CDC's budget for operations outside the US has been drastically cut.

"A study published Friday in the medical journal JAMA found that 41% of the first 138 patients diagnosed at one hospital in Wuhan, China, were presumed to be infected in that hospital." Rhut rho.

"The head of the World Health Organization is warning that a few cases of the novel coronavirus that have been spread by people who never traveled to China could be 'the tip of the iceberg,' as officials reported the highest single-day death toll since the epidemic began."

"A completely passive solar-powered desalination system developed by researchers at MIT and in China could provide more than 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour for every square meter of solar collecting area. Such systems could potentially serve off-grid arid coastal areas to provide an efficient, low-cost water source."

"Krauss tested hundreds of configurations on his path to self-contained ion powered flight, gradually downsizing the power components so that they could be carried aloft… It took about a decade of work for Krauss to build the first ever ion craft that could fly with the power supply onboard instead of tethered to a battery on the ground."

Trigger warnings for domestic abuse. "'I didn't know it was abuse until I nearly died'" For help in identifying the issue, how abusers control the abused, and how the British police system found a solution to the "problem" of victims withdrawing charges and relapsing into the state of being controlled by the abuser.

"A New York City police lieutenant was shot in the arm Sunday morning after an armed suspect opened fire inside a Bronx precinct about 12 hours after another officer was shot in the head while on patrol nearby, police authorities said."

How goes Brexit? "The UK is 'open to global talent', the government declared last week, with a new visa designed to woo the best overseas researchers. But angry academics say their protests about the Home Office’s 'shocking' refusal to grant residency to Dr Asiya Islam, an 'unequivocally superb' Indian sociologist at Cambridge University, have fallen on deaf ears." Not exactly Brexit related, but insight into the broken systems of immigration beginning to take hold around the world.

"Heavily-armed police and soldiers in El Salvador have forced their way into parliament, demanding the approval of a $109m (£85m) loan to better equip them… They entered the building as President Nayib Bukele was about to address lawmakers. Earlier, he gave them seven days to back his loan plan." You know, totally normal.

About that "blue-collar boom" the president is touting. "But the operative word here is nominal, which means not adjusted for changes in the cost of living. Once you factor in inflation, the picture changes drastically. And far from representing a “blue collar boom” – as the president put it in his State of the Union address – the real, inflation-adjusted data show most U.S. workers have not benefited from the growing economy."

"President Trump will propose $4.4 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade in his budget for fiscal year 2021 — a document that is expected to be quickly dismissed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives." Don't worry, I'm sure the Navy will get the extra 30% to build all those new ships the president promised.

"A Florida man was arrested Saturday and accused of driving his van through a tent where a local Republican group was registering voters, authorities and officials said."

"It's not just the chaos in Iowa or the newly bitter tone of the campaign in New Hampshire that's to blame for the angst gripping the Democratic Party in recent days… It's the realization that the primary on Tuesday may do nothing to resolve the discord." Because media loves a conflict because of the ease of the reporting and the ratings they get for it. But remember just two weeks ago when all the hand wringing was about "Should we really have Iowa and New Hampshire picking the candidate?" Now it's "OMG, we don't have a clear front runner!" And while I agree that it's bad from the fund raising side of things, I don't see much else of a downside not having a clear front runner heading into Super Tuesday. Don't worry, the media handwringing shows no sign of dissipating before November 3rd.

"Donald Trump is moving fast in the wake of his impeachment trial to use the government to punish his enemies and pursue his political ends, underlining how his acquittal has helped make him one of history's most powerful modern Presidents." Did we really expect anything else?

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Linkee-poo weekend clearing house

"Thirty lead curse tablets have been discovered at the bottom of an ancient well in Athens. The well was discovered the Kerameikos, ancient Athens’ main cemetery built in potters’ neighborhood (keramos means potter’s clay) northwest of the ancient center next to the Dipylon gate in the city wall." Leave them the fuck alone. You saw what happened when they opened that black sarcophagus. Also some good world building info about curses in ancient Greece. (Grokked for Chuck Winding, I think)

"The preliminary estimate of the (BLS) benchmark revision indicates a downward adjustment to March 2019 total nonfarm employment of -501,000. This means that between April 2018 and March of 2019, there were a half million fewer jobs created than initially reported." This is about 5x the normal amount of revision. I couldn't find any official release that was supposed to happen on Friday. But if those numbers hold up, wow. (Grokked from Michele)

"As electric cars grow in popularity and visibility, experts say a revolution is coming in a place most people overlook: corporate and municipal fleets." That's actually the tipping point. Corporate fleets played with CNG, but except for some small areas it never worked well.

"'Working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration,' Trump said, suggesting that undocumented immigrants are using government services and programs they don’t pay for… That’s not true. Contrary to this persistent myth, undocumented immigrants do in fact pay taxes. Millions of undocumented immigrants file tax returns each year, and they are paying taxes for many benefits they can’t even use." The article is from 2018, but it still holds true. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed Democratic lawmakers' lawsuit against President Donald Trump alleging he has violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution on technical grounds… In the ruling, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the members of Congress did not have legal standing to bring the lawsuit against the president for violating the clause, which bars federal officials from collecting payments from foreign governments without the approval of Congress." Their standing is in the damn definition. Oh, wait, they're dismissing it because the number of congresspeople and Senators aren't a "majority" in Congress and so wouldn't be able to approve the president taking the money. Ah, yeah, sure Bob. By that reasoning it's just a quick step to, "Well, this poisoning affected 3,000, and since there's only 5 of you bringing the case you don't speak for the majority, case dismissed." (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"Meanwhile Trump is engaged in massive personal, ongoing corruption. The Washington Post has obtained Secret Service receipts from Trump’s properties. It reveals a massive profiteering scandal." We all knew this, right? (Grokked from Kelly Swails)

"The Republican National Committee (RNC) in recent weeks have reportedly funded thousands of automated phone calls to jam up the offices of dozens of House Democrats amid the fight surrounding the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump." Over 11,000 calls. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Attorney General William Barr has issued new restrictions on opening investigations into politically sensitive individuals or entities, including a requirement that he approve any inquiry into a presidential candidate or campaign." I see no way this could go horribly wrong.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday news dump(ster fire)

"A powerful and deadly storm system is leaving a path of destruction from the Florida Panhandle to Virginia. There are at least four deaths from the storm, including a Tennessee teacher who was killed when a tree fell on a bus."

"NASA astronaut Christina Koch made the most of her first trip to the International Space Station by breaking the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman and conducting the first all-female spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir." Congrats. I wait for the day that these things are not milestones, but regular occurrences.

"Astronomers just discovered a rare monster galaxy that grew rapidly in the universe's early days — and then went quiet surprisingly fast."

"It's some next-level skywatching: Scientists are using images captured by NASA's InSight lander to look for meteors on Mars… From a glance at the resulting images, the search seems straightforward: Countless streaks fill the sky. But squint a little, and the story turns out to be more quixotic. The images show mostly ghosts, the invisible made visible and the visible drowned out amid the illusions." Star gazing on Mars.

"NASA is at a critical juncture in its push to get people back to the moon by 2024, with key decisions expected within weeks." Sure. Sure.

"Hard drive manufacturer Seagate promises that HAMR—Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording—hard drives in 18TB and 20TB models will be available in retail channels in 2020." Using lasers to heat the magnetic material to develop platters that can store more in the same surface area… what will they think of next. Spherical chickens in a vacuum. With lasers. (Grokked from John)

"In the 1990s, web browsers like Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer competed bitterly to offer the snazziest new features and attract users. Today, the browser landscape looks totally different. For one thing, Chrome now dominates, controlling around two-thirds of the market on both desktop and mobile. Even more radical, though, is the recent competitive focus on privacy, a welcome change for anyone who's gotten sick of creepy ad tracking and data mismanagement. But as browsers increasingly diverge in their approaches, it's clear that not all privacy protections are created equal."

"The State Department continues to evacuate U.S. citizens from Wuhan, China, the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak that has now sickened more than 28,000 people and killed at least 565… The first airplane with repatriated U.S. citizens landed last week at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California. All of the passengers are under federal quarantine orders for 14 days since they left Wuhan." Is it just me, or is this like "zombie virus" apocalypse type coverage? It's like we're expecting a future Bruce Willis to show up any time now.

"China grows isolated as airlines cancel more than 50,000 flights amid coronavirus epidemic."

"The world’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, an agricultural pesticide linked to brain damage in children, has announced that it will stop producing the chemical by the end of the year… The announcement on Thursday by Corteva, the corporation formed from a Dow Chemical and DuPont merger, comes after the Trump administration reversed regulatory plans to ban the pesticide and rejected the scientific conclusions of US government experts." Mostly because of declining sales, not because it causes brain damage. Last stage capitalism at work.

"Bill Moreau was vice president for sports medicine at the USOPC for 10 years. In an interview with NPR, Moreau says the USOPC still is not doing enough to prevent abuse, even though the issue has been in the public spotlight for more than three years because of the sexual abuse scandal involving former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar."

"Bank accounts are a top target for hackers, and retirement accounts may not be far behind. Cybercriminals are moving toward retirement and loan accounts. Although the number of consumers affected by identity fraud has declined between 2017 and 2018, hackers are targeting new types of financial accounts — such as customer rewards programs and retirement plans, according to the 2019 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research." Boogah boogah! Can't wait to hear how much that "credit watching" service costs.

How go the Trade Wars? "China on Thursday said it would halve additional tariffs levied against 1,717 U.S. goods last year, following the signing of a Phase 1 deal that brought a truce to a bruising trade war between the world’s two largest economies." Unfortunately this has more to do with coronavirus than the Phase 1 "deal" and they're not much of cuts to the rates. Apparently there is also a "disaster" clause in the Phase 1 agreement that will allow China to not purchase as much as they promised.

"The U.S. labor market revved up in January, with employers adding 225,000 jobs. That's well above the number forecasters were expecting. The unemployment rate inched up to 3.6%, near a 50-year low, according to a new report from the Labor Department… Employment growth for November and December was also revised upwards by a total of 7,000 jobs." Of course the devil is in the details.

The retail apocalypse continues unabated. "Macy’s will close roughly 125 stores, a fifth of its locations, over the next three years… After previously announcing that it would close 298 locations, Macy's said Tuesday that it will now shutter nearly 100 more."

"The White House announced Thursday evening that Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of terror group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in an airstrike in Yemen." While killing terrorism's leaders is important, you don't defeat terrorists by taking heads. Especially when the collateral damage is great.

"A passenger plane in Syria was forced to re-route after it was almost hit by the country's missile defence system, Russia's defence ministry says… According to a statement quoted by Russian media, the plane was about to land in Damascus when Syrian anti-aircraft fire responded to an alleged Israeli attack early on Thursday."

"Mississippi's auditor says the former head of the state's welfare agency was part of a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme in which officials diverted public money away from needy families and toward their own personal projects, from business investments to a luxury rehab stay in California."

"Turkey expects Russia to stop the Syrian government’s attacks in the northwestern region of Idlib immediately, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, adding that Ankara needs to work with Moscow to resolve problems in the region." Good luck with that.

About the failures in Iowa… "Supporters of President Donald Trump flooded a hotline used by Iowa precinct chairs to report Democratic caucus results after the telephone number was posted online, worsening delays in the statewide tally, a top state Democrat told party leaders on a conference call Wednesday night." Just in case you might still think there was hope for a clean election.

"The Associated Press, which NPR and lots of other news organizations rely on to call winners and losers, said it will not be calling the race at this point, despite all votes being in, because of irregularities in the vote count."

"FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday that foreign disinformation efforts against the U.S. “never stopped” after Russian actors used them on social media platforms during the 2016 elections." Gee, ya think? And hostile governments have looked at the Russian operation and are also getting into the game. Also, it's a little ironic for this coming from the Hill, which is accused of it's own disinformation campaign in forcing Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch out of Ukraine.

"The Justice Department has begun reviewing a 10-month-old allegation by the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), that Erik Prince, an ally of President Donald Trump, repeatedly misled lawmakers during the panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election." Ten-month delay in even responding to the letter from Congress.

"The Treasury Department has complied with Republican senators’ requests for highly sensitive and closely held financial records about Hunter Biden and his associates and has turned over '"evidence" of questionable origin' to them, according to a leading Democrat on one of the committees conducting the investigation." It's funny how fast Treasury has responded to these request regarding a private citizen. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

An opinion piece… "The National Prayer Breakfast is a bipartisan event. It brings politicians and religious leaders together to seek common ground through a shared faith… But President Donald Trump showed at the Thursday morning breakfast that he lacks the spiritual compass and moral understanding to rise to such an occasion." I think they missed the actual religion and religious practices of the president.

"Less than 24 hours after formally being acquitted by the Senate, President Donald Trump riffed for over an hour from inside the White House -- a vengeful, angry, fact-challenged spew of score-settling that even for this most unorthodox of presidents was eye-opening in its tone and jaw-dropping in its boundary busting… 'It's a celebration,' Trump said of the event, attended by a 'who's who' of Republican politics, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, as well as the President's Cabinet and the legal team that defended him in the Senate trial."

"A day after his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, President Donald Trump made celebratory remarks in the White House on Feb. 6, thanking many Republican politicians and repeating several false and misleading claims, many of which we’ve checked before… The president twisted the facts on the Russia investigation, former FBI officials, European contributions to Ukraine, the stock market, Medicare for All and drug prices." I think we all know where this is going.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain, "House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Thursday that people who allegedly abused their power in an attempt to overturn the results of President Trump's election should be promptly sent to prison."

"A pledge to investigate the Bidens and Ukraine once the impeachment trial wraps is sparking divisions among Senate Republicans."

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday

Alligators, man. They'll get you every time.

Kurt Douglas, I am Spartacus.

Who need regulations? "Every summer for the past three years, the phones have been ringing like crazy in the Office of the Indiana State Chemist. Farmers and homeowners were calling, complaining that their soybean fields or tomato plants looked sick, with curled-up leaves. They suspected pesticides from nearby farms — a kind of chemical hit-and-run." Dicamba, again.

The Throughline podcast with planned obsolescence. Yeah, it's a real thing.

"China’s fast-moving coronavirus spread among passengers of a quarantined Japanese cruise liner on Thursday and dragged down production at more global businesses, as scientists across the world searched for a vaccine."

"The Department of Homeland Security has suspended Global Entry and several other trusted traveler programs for all residents of New York… Chad Wolf, the Acting Homeland Security Chief… said that New Yorkers 'can’t enroll or re-enroll' in the Trusted Traveler Programs — which includes Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, Nexus and more — because the department 'no longer [has] access to make sure that they meet those program requirements.'" Bullshit, Chad. And they announced it on Bullshit Mountain to boot. So much for the theory that just having been impeached would make the president a little more wary about stupid moves like these. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"In the early morning of June 12, 2017, a group of eight Central American migrants decided to go on a hunger strike to protest conditions at the immigration detention center where they were being held in California." There is no reforming ICE. It needs to be dismantled.

"A draft of an executive order called 'Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again' would establish a classical style, inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, as the default for federal buildings in Washington and many throughout the country, discouraging modern design." I appreciate where they supposedly say this order comes from ("The order, spearheaded by the National Civic Art Society, a nonprofit group that believes contemporary architecture has “created a built environment that is degraded and dehumanizing,'"), and while I have a preference for Greco-Roman design, I strongly disagree with the thrust and intent of this law. First is the cost of that design, both construction and maintenance of the building are much higher than some of the modern designs (although, oddly, brutalist design tends to have higher costs for maintenance, although that's mostly to cutting corners during construction and bad use of the buildings). But mostly I have a very strong negative reaction to it because this is what fascists and dictators do. If this were in place, the Vietnam Memorial would not look like it does, and it's one of the most stirring monuments, drawing millions and inspires interactions that necessitated their own museum. The National Museum of African American History and Culture starts off a little bewildering, but becomes more beautiful the longer you look at it. And for general office buildings do you really want to spend the money and waste the space for porticos and colonnades?

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., drew the ire of Republicans when she tore up a copy of President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address… One conservative pundit said she deserved more than just the ridicule of her GOP colleagues." Yeah, that's pant's on fire wrong. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Pelosi, addressing her caucus Wednesday morning, said she felt 'liberated' after defiantly ripping up Trump’s speech for the world to see, tearing up each page as she stood behind the president after he concluded his annual address." She's crossed her Rubicon.

On the Media podcast on Rush Limbaugh and his legacy and what it means for the US that he has the Medal of Freedom. The only good I see in this story is Rush will soon face his eternal fate.

"Senators voted on Wednesday afternoon to acquit President Trump on two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — after a historically unusual but typically contentious trial." And the president, and the Senate GOP have learned nothing except that they can get away with it. It's about to get worse.

"Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cracked a joke during a Tuesday lunch with his Republican colleagues that the previous two weeks had been like a family vacation that had gone on too long."

"For the stay-in-office-at-all-cost representatives and senators, fear is the motivator. They are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like 'Low Energy Jeb' and 'Lyin’ Ted,' or that he might tweet about their disloyalty. Or — worst of all — that he might come to their state to campaign against them in the Republican primary." An op-ed from Sherrod Brown, one of my Senators. Integrity is what you do when no one is watching, but that presumes you do the right thing when the whole world is watching.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Linkee-poo on a dark Wednesday

On single-payer healthcare… "'I could make a lot more money if I didn't have to pay that,' he acknowledges. But the greater burden, he says, are the hours of administrative paperwork he has to deal with — and all the confounding choices from insurers. Though he tries to pick a good option, he says, 'I have no idea if it's a good [health] plan or a bad plan, in comparison to everything else.'… Restaurant industry groups have largely opposed the idea of a single-payer system, worrying it would mean tax hikes. But some individual owners are increasingly open to the idea." Yes this. Want to cut costs in healthcare, eliminating the need for large departments of coders and people getting pre-authorizations and you will cut a large cost out of the system. Now do retirement plans where you are expected to be a financial guru to plan your future (or at least bring back the fiduciary rule).

"A guide in Mexico's monarch butterfly preserve has been found apparently slain, officials say, days after a butterfly activist in the same region was found dead in uncertain circumstances."

"More than 200 people the United States has sent back to El Salvador have been killed or seriously abused — including sexually assaulted and tortured — according to a new report by Human Rights Watch." The sample was from 2013 to 2019, and I have a feeling there's a lot of people who can't be traced. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"The Justice Department official leading the investigation of big tech companies’ market dominance is stepping aside from the department’s Google probe because of his previous lobbying work for Google as a private attorney."

"Prosecutors have dismissed charges against two Massachusetts women who had been accused of hurting and threatening two children during what authorities described as a Voodoo ritual… The case was withdrawn because the children would not be available to testify at trial, the prosecutor wrote." Well, their mother did hire the women to perform the ritual (this is not an excuse, but of course she wouldn't make the children available because of her own culpability).

"The European Union expressed major reservations about President Trump's newly unveiled plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying it doesn't meet "internationally agreed parameters" on issues such as where Israel's borders should be drawn… The plan, which has been roundly rejected by Palestinians, sides with Israel on major sticking points such as Jerusalem, settlements in the West Bank and the right of return for Palestinian refugees." Gee, ya think?

Sure the President's ranting and Fox News (aka Bullshit Mountain) are just harmless. "An Arizona man indicted in October for threatening to kill Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told police he was likely reacting to a Fox News segment when he left the alcohol-fueled voicemail, according to newly filed court documents." (Grokked in a roundabout way from Laura J Mixon)

"U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres laid out a sobering view of the current state of the world Tuesday, saying that 'a wind of madness is sweeping the globe' as instability erupts into unpredictable and violent conflicts. The problems are made even worse, he said, by faltering economic situations and countries that disrespect U.N. Security Council resolutions 'before the ink is dry.'" I expect "winds of madness" or "mad wind" to become a political catch phrase.

"President Trump's State of the Union address included some surprising moments — both emotional announcements and a blunt reaction from the speaker of the House — all playing out live before a prime-time audience… Here are six of the highlights…"

"Nancy Pelosi deviated from tradition in introducing President Trump at 2020 State of the Union."

"President Trump took a shot at Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, declaring at his annual State of the Union address, 'We will never let socialism destroy American health care!'" Medicare for all would reduce our national healthcare spending by a few trillion. "'If you believe that we should defend American patients and American seniors, then stand with me and pass legislation to prohibit free government health care for illegal immigration,' (Trump) said." That he can say this with a straight face while proposing some draconian cuts to Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security, which are paid for by separate taxes (that they're not talking about cutting) just show the lying duplicity of conservatives. Also, illegal immigrants don't get free healthcare, that's already the law. This is a red herring.

"Fred Guttenberg, a gun control activist whose daughter died during the 2018 Parkland mass shooting, has spoken about being ejected from the gallery during President Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday." Remember when a sitting Congressman yelled "You lie!" and he got praised?

"President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday in an unprecedented move during the State of the Union address." Fuck Rush Limbaugh. This was pure red meat for the base and should not have been done during the SOTU.

You might remember me saying that the fight against Fake News is a matter is citizen education. Well, "With democracies around the world threatened by the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of false information, Finland – recently rated Europe’s most resistant nation to fake news – takes the fight seriously enough to teach it in primary school." (Grokked from Steven Gould)

"The two leaders of Milwaukee’s host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention have been placed on leave pending an investigation into allegations that they oversaw a toxic work environment, a letter sent to staff working on planning the event revealed." The difference is Democrats actually do something about misogyny in their ranks (most of the time).

"A group of prominent Upstate Republicans is preparing to launch a wide-scale effort this week to encourage GOP voters across South Carolina to vote for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Feb. 29 Democratic primary, The Post and Courier has learned… The Republican plan to impact the Democratic race, emerging just weeks before the 'First in the South' primary, has two goals: Boost the candidate who the Republicans believe presents the weakest general election threat to President Donald Trump and pressure Democrats to support closing state primaries in the future." Tell me again how "principled" conservatives are, cause that one never gets old. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Fall out. "Ivan Yakovina, a political commentator in Kyiv, says Ukraine's political class has become disillusioned with the United States… 'Previously it was Ukraine that was unpredictable. Now, we have no idea what's going to happen in the United States next week,' Yakovina says. 'A lot of people are disappointed. America used to be a beacon of freedom, liberty and anti-corruption efforts. Now a lot of Ukrainians feel like, "yeah, we are by ourselves."'"

"If the Iowa caucuses were a pop quiz on how well the nation is prepared for the 2020 elections, it looks like almost everyone failed. Or at least that they need to do a lot more remedial work." No it wasn't a preview. This is hype meant to sell news. Although it should be a warning for buying or using new electronic voting systems (or any software or hardware) that hasn't been beta tested or put through it's paces before doing a general roll out. And it's not just election systems (the hospital is notorious for doing this and breaking everything). Also, have a paper record/backup.

"Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., is neck and neck with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses, according to a partial release of results from the state Democratic Party."

"Sen. Rand Paul read aloud the name of the alleged whistleblower who first raised alarms about President Donald Trump's conduct toward Ukraine. And most Republicans didn’t seem to care… After being denied by Chief Justice John Roberts last week, Paul used a period reserved for senators’ impeachment speeches to read aloud the name of an intelligence community official alleged to be the whistleblower." Your weekly reminder that Rand Paul is not some high-minded intellectual. Just like Brad in the bar who tells you about how libertarianism is the only true politic and everyone should pay their own way right before he complains about the high-cost of beer, Rand is also a dick. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday

"Two lawmakers in Sweden have nominated Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize." That sound you hear? Those are conservative minds imploding. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) spacecraft has discovered 'layers' and 'rifts' in the electrically charged part of the upper atmosphere (the ionosphere) of Mars. The phenomenon is very common at Earth and causes unpredictable disruptions to radio communications. However, we do not fully understand them because they form at altitudes that are very difficult to explore at Earth."

"Scientists have long known that higher air temperatures are contributing to the surface melting on Greenland's ice sheet… But a new study has found another threat that has begun attacking the ice from below: Warm ocean water moving underneath the vast glaciers is causing them to melt even more quickly." We're boned.

"Eventually we learned thanks to an announcement from Microsoft on Twitter why Teams went down: the company forgot to renew the service's SSL certificate." Math is hard. Having suffered the same issue this past weekend (and coming up with the workaround for our site until IT got it's shit together 3 hours later) let me speak to all IT managers responsible for this, it's called an electric calendar. Outlook has one (on a Mac you can use iCal). It can send you alerts and reminders, even email, so you don't forget this shit. And while you're at it, mark your spouse's, parents', kids', relatives', and friends' birthdays and anniversaries.

From yesterday, "Chinese stocks recorded their worst day in years as investors finally got a chance to react to the worsening coronavirus outbreak… The losses wiped out a combined $445 billion in market value." Oh no, now it's serious. Rich people are losing money.

"So Ganguli is worried about the results of a big study she and colleagues published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine: Adults with commercial health insurance are visiting primary care providers less often than they did about a decade ago." While this is also me, this is a bad development. "It's hard to pinpoint exactly what's behind this decline, the researchers say. But the evidence points toward rising out-of-pocket costs as a factor." Gee, ya fuckin' think so? And note, this is a feature of the private healthcare insurance industry, not a bug.

The Retail Apocalypse continues… "Forever 21′s $81 million deal is with a group that includes Simon Property Group, Brookfield Property Partners and Authentic Brands."

A Forbes article… "Imagine this scenario: All $1.6 trillion of your student loan debt is forgiven. Now, what happens next?… Here’s what you need to know…" Chaos! Mass Hysteria! Cats and dogs living together! Seriously, this is how rich people try to keep us down.

How goes Brexit? "The pound has fallen in value as comments from Prime Minister Boris Johnson renewed concerns the UK faces leaving the EU without a trade deal… Mr Johnson said he favoured a Canada-style free trade deal, but would use the existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU if they failed to reach terms."

"Iran's top court has confirmed a death sentence for a man convicted of spying for the CIA… Amir Rahimpour 'earned a lot of money' to pass on information about Iran's nuclear programme to the US, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said… He added that 'two more American spies' had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage and five years for acting against national security… Mr Esmaili did not name them, but said they had been working for a charity." Uh, sure, Bob.

Another day in America, "One person was killed and five others were wounded when gunfire erupted on an overnight Greyhound bus traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco, CBS LA reported. The bus left Los Angeles at 11:45 p.m. Most of the passengers were asleep when they heard shouting and gunshots around 2 a.m."

And… "A high school student was struck and killed by a pick-up truck Monday while training with other members of a cross country track team in Moore, Oklahoma… Five other students were also hit by the vehicle."

"The Justice Department and nearly all state attorneys general have opened investigations into allegations that Alphabet’s Google has broken antitrust law. The probes focus on search bias, advertising and management of Google’s Android operating system." Wow, I still have the t-shirt form the Microsoft anti-trust investigation.

Sure you can trust the police. "A homeless man is suing the Honolulu Police Department and the city after he says officers forced him to lick a urinal in a public restroom."

"Rush Limbaugh revealed he has been diagnosed with an advanced lung cancer." Seems like a metaphor. As one twitter user said, I don't wish this on anyone, but it's good that he has insurance and a plan for treatment, we just wish everyone had that same access and ability.

"Turkey and Syria traded attacks near their shared border in a spasm of direct, deadly violence that threatens to escalate the friction between two increasingly bitter neighbors — and more deeply entangle Syria's ally Russia." Checks watch, yep, right about on time.

"But during the national anthem at his own Super Bowl watch party Sunday night, a brief video posted to Instagram shows Trump greeting guests, adjusting his chair, and straightening his suit jacket as other attendees — including first lady Melania Trump and their teenage son — stand with their hands over their hearts. As 'The Star Spangled Banner' crescendoes, Trump raises both of his hands in the air, and twirls them around as if conducting the music… The video was included in an Instagram story by a real estate agent for a Russian-American firm who frequents Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties and events." One, again, a lot of fucking Russians hanging around here. And two, the worm begins to turn? (Grokked from Eric VanNewkirk)

"Donald Trump’s decision to change definitions of domestic violence and sexual assault has rolled back women’s rights by half a century, campaigners have warned… The Trump administration quietly changed the definition of both domestic violence and sexual assault back in April but the move has only just surfaced." Considering the abuse the president has been accused of (including raping his first wife), it's not entirely unsurprising. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"A man who voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 now says he would never back the president a second time after his own wife got deported to Mexico… 'I had to go with the fact that my wife would be fine because she was not a bad person,' he explained. 'I was wrong.'" Of course he's not sure who he'll vote for because none of the Dems excite him. I'm more sorry for his wife and kid than I am for him. Another example of the Shirley Exception, as in surely the people I like will be an exception to the rules. Narrator voice: No, they won't be. (Grokked from Wesley Chu)

"The Montana Republican Party on Saturday condemned a comment made by a state GOP lawmaker who said the U.S. Constitution calls for people who identify as socialists to be jailed or shot." So, sure, conservatives aren't fascists. I mean, the party condemned what he said out loud what they say in private when they think no one is listening.

"State party officials said Tuesday morning they are certain 'the underlying data' collected at caucus sites is sound but that an issue arose in reporting that data. Results are expected later Tuesday. Chair Troy Price said though the app was recording data accurately, 'it was reporting out only partial data' because of a 'coding issue in the reporting system.'" I know it's fallen out of favor recently, but when I was a young boy we used to have these things called "Beta Tests" before going golden. The IT world may want to re-examine implementing them, or at least build robust testing benches. I'm also dealing with these issues at the second job and it really it quite amazing to me that no one tests changes to systems before rolling out the code. I mean, you can't plan for every contingency, but damn, IT people, you ain't even getting the basics of interoperation between systems.

"As word of the confusion and chaos spread, the IDP held a conference call with the presidential campaigns in an effort to explain the issues with the reporting system. In another call with reporters at 2 a.m., state party Chairman Troy Price said he wanted to emphasize this is a 'reporting issue, not a hack' and 'this is why we have a paper trail.' The party said it was turning to other methods to collect results." Much of the issues are the media and the campaigns who are used to instant feedback, so when they have to wait it's unusual. In the empty space there has been some disinformation pushed out. But that's why they had a paper trail. They can always go back to the paper trail. As to the GOP having a clean process, well congrats GOP, I guess you can organize a 1 car parade. My apologies.

And the media is angry they don't have grist for the mill. "The Democratic 2020 crusade to oust President Donald Trump could not have got off to a more disastrous and embarrassing start… The party couldn't even deliver a first-in-the-nation election night winner after a vote-reporting debacle in Iowa — where candidates spent months and millions of dollars vying for a glittering opening prize in their nominating duel." And so begins the left-wing conspiracies.

"Another debunked claim from a right wing 'activist' group responsible for chronic disinformation continued to spread on social media on February 3 2020 as voters in Iowa prepared for the Democratic Party presidential caucus… But despite being debunked by both state officials and news outlets like the Washington Post, a spokesperson for Twitter said that platform would not take action against its spread." Social media will not save us, they can't even effectively police themselves (and there is cause to believe that as long as the alt-right is marching forward, they won't try hard).

"Contrary to Biden's assertion on Monday that no one had said his son was offered the seat to gain access to him, several Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have suggested exactly that… And though no U.S. or Ukrainian officials have alleged the Bidens acted illegally, Republicans like Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham have said the matter has not been examined closely enough." Benghazi 2, Electric Boogaloo.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday

"The US has begun implementing new rules around travel from China as the coronavirus death toll creeps higher -- rules that include re-routing Americans flying into the country to specific airports for screening." I'll again just note the total worldwide deaths from the novel Coronavirus is still factors lower than the current number of deaths from the flu in just the US.

If you're engineering medical devices that people rely on, and it involves any electronics, if you don't have inbuilt security measures from the start you are, IMHO, not doing your job. "Two years ago, researchers Billy Rios and Jonathan Butts discovered disturbing vulnerabilities in Medtronic's popular MiniMed and MiniMed Paradigm insulin pump lines. An attacker could remotely target these pumps to withhold insulin from patients, or to trigger a potentially lethal overdose. And yet months of negotiations with Medtronic and regulators to implement a fix proved fruitless. So the researchers resorted to drastic measures. They built an Android app that could use the flaws to kill people." And now there's a "voluntary" recall, and the company states most people in the US no longer use the device (unless you're a "looper" which is another hack which makes the device "better" for the patients). And sure, I'll just bet it was because of all the regulatory hurdles that kept Medtronic from doing this before the researchers created the app, and it just so happens that all the paperwork cleared just a few weeks after they demonstrated the app. I'm sure. (Grokked from John)

"Because only one out of the dozen or so most commonly cited facts about the fashion industry’s huge footprint is based on any sort of science, data collection, or peer-reviewed research. The rest are based on gut feelings, broken links, marketing, and something someone said in 2003." Look, fashion screws up our world enough that we don't have to make shit up about it. And the same is true for a lot of climate change reporting.

How goes Brexit? "Boris Johnson has set out his vision for a trade deal with the EU, saying there is 'no need' for the UK to follow Brussels' rules… The PM called for a Canada-style free trade deal, saying the UK would return to the Withdrawal Agreement if such a deal was not reached… Under the EU-Canada deal, import tariffs on most goods have been eliminated between the two countries, though there are still customs and VAT checks… The flow of services, such as banking - which is much more important for the UK - between Canada and the EU are much more restricted." Three years on and they still have no idea what they're doing. And here's a little secret, if you want to trade with the EU, you need to be compliant with the EU rules.

"Sanders and his team have made clear their intention to tout the results of the first round of caucus voting Monday, even though the Iowa Democratic Party stresses that the only number that matters is the final delegate count." Hey, remember last time where Sanders claimed he was out gamed in the primaries and caucuses? Guess who is "flipping the script" (note, he wasn't out gamed in 2016).

"The Senate impeachment trial may be over after this week, but its legacy will have lasting consequences for American generations to come. And Donald Trump, only the third president to be impeached in US history, isn't expected to apologize for any of it -- as President Bill Clinton had after his own impeachment."

"Iowa Senator Joni Ernst warned Sunday that Republicans could immediately push to impeach Joe Biden over his work in Ukraine as vice president if he wins the White House." You mean like they constantly did to Obama? Shocked, shocked I am… As for "The grounds for impeachment, the first-term Republican said, would be 'for being assigned to take on Ukrainian corruption yet turning a blind eye to Burisma because his son was on the board making over a million dollars a year.'" There's just a little problem here, Hunter Biden joined the board after Burisma "cleaned-up" as a part of it's rebranding in the political sphere. Also I'll just point out that Republicans, but saying this, are admitting that they totally suck on government oversight. They had 6 years to do this while Biden was VP, but nary a peep emerged (why? because the global political consensus at the time was Biden was doing the right thing in having a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor fired). And finally, if Sen. Joni Ernst (or any other senator or congressperson) truly believes that Joe Biden abused his office, you can investigate him right the fuck now. Don't wait until the election, you're sworn to protect the Constitution. If you believe this is the case you are (again) abdicating your oath of office by not pursing it.