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

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday Feb 24

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and so it goes.

"Octavia Butler's alternate realities and 'speculative fiction' reveal striking, and often devastating parallels to the world we live in today. She was a deep observer of the human condition, perplexed and inspired by our propensity towards self-destruction. Butler was also fascinated by the cyclical nature of history, and often looked to the past when writing about the future. Along with her warnings is her message of hope — a hope conjured by centuries of survival and persistence. For every society that perished in her books, came a story of rebuilding, of repair." The Throughline podcast on Octavia Butler.

"When researchers began to excavate a tunnellike cave on the west coast of Alaska in 1998, they were hoping to discover the remains of ancient bears. Instead, they unearthed something even more intriguing: a tiny chip of bone belonging to the first known dog in the Americas. The find supports the idea that dogs accompanied the first humans who set foot on these continents—and that both traveled there along the Pacific coast."

"A sheep named Baarack received a much needed shearing after rescuers in Australia found the abandoned animal with more than 75 pounds of wool weighing it down." Noted for the "what have we done to animals" aspect of the story.

"In an analysis released Wednesday, the US Food and Drug Administration said the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine has met the requirements for emergency use authorization… The efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against moderate to severe/critical Covid-19 across all geographic areas was 66.9% at least 14 days after the single dose vaccination and 66.1% at least 28 days after vaccination, a new analysis meant to brief the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee said."

"A coronavirus variant that emerged in mid-2020 and surged to become the dominant strain in California not only spreads more readily than its predecessors, it also evades antibodies generated by COVID-19 vaccines or prior infection and it’s associated with severe illness and death, researchers said." USA leading the way with dangerous SARS-CoV2 variants.

"Patients who have recently taken the Covid-19 vaccine are advised to reschedule their yearly mammogram screenings as the presence of swollen lymph nodes, which is one of the known side effects of the jab, could be mistakenly identified as a sign of breast cancer."

"As Australia entered the third day of its vaccination drive its health minister told local media on Wednesday that two people had received incorrect coronavirus vaccine doses… The two patients, aged 88 and 94, were given four times the recommended dose of the Pfizer vaccine." Oopsie.

"Some residents of Marin County are misusing access codes intended for people living in Black and Latino communities to book vaccine appointments at the Oakland Coliseum through the state's vaccine scheduling system My Turn, SFGATE has learned."

"A national health care provider has administered COVID-19 vaccinations to people deemed ineligible for the scarce vaccine by local health departments, including people with connections to company leaders and customers of its concierge medical service, according to internal communications leaked to NPR." Best healthcare in the world, as long as you're rich.

Farmers are the stewards of the land… really? "Farming has destroyed a lot of the rich soil of America's Midwestern prairie. A team of scientists just came up with a staggering new estimate for just how much has disappeared… The most fertile topsoil is entirely gone from a third of all the land devoted to growing crops across the upper Midwest, the scientists say. Some of their colleagues, however, remain skeptical about the methods that produced this result." Farmers mostly pillage the lands, increasingly salting it and rendering it unusable except for applying huge amounts of chemicals and fertilizers. You might remember that the Dust Bowl was created by unsustainable farming practices.

"Five members of the board of directors at the entity that operates Texas' electrical grid will resign from their posts Wednesday, according to a notice posted to the Public Utility Commission website… None of the five members resigning from their posts live in Texas."

"Tiger Woods escaped a Tuesday morning car accident with his life, but suffered 'significant' leg injuries that required extensive surgery and a rod being inserted into his lower right leg… Woods suffered 'comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower tibia and fibula' said Dr. Anish Mahajan, interim CEO and chief medical officer of Harbor-UCLA Hospital, where Woods was taken to the trauma center and treated."

"Warner, who was 63 when he died, was not among the angry QAnon followers who came to believe the unlikely theory that Donald Trump would hold onto power and defeat a satanic cabal. He was a computer specialist with a deep distrust of government, according to his own writings and to those who knew him. A loner, he had made at least one female friend feel manipulated and frightened. And he had cultivated a bizarre obsession with shape-shifting alien lizards and a dense thicket of other peculiar ideas… As Warner’s best friend in his final months, Deck believes that some combination of a fatal cancer diagnosis salted with a belief in conspiracy theories led Warner to kill himself in such a brutally spectacular manner." By blowing up his RV in downtown Nashville.

"A court in Germany has found a former Syrian regime official guilty of being an accomplice to crimes against humanity, in a historic first victory for efforts worldwide to bring legal accountability for atrocities committed in Syria’s long war… Eyad al-Gharib, a 44-year-old former colonel in the Syrian intelligence service, carried out orders in one of Bashar al-Assad’s notorious prisons."

Why did the Trump administration and Mitch McConnell work so hard in appointing judges (while ignoring most everything else)? "A federal judge late Tuesday indefinitely banned President Joe Biden's administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on most deportations… U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a preliminary injunction sought by Texas, which argued the moratorium violated federal law and risked imposing additional costs on the state."

And… "Judges with backgrounds as prosecutors or corporate lawyers, who represent the majority of federal district court jurists, are significantly more likely to rule in favor of employers in workplace disputes, according to a new study of diversity on the bench."

"The supply chain failures are two examples of why the Biden administration wants to jump-start production of critical materials that go into cell phones, computers, cars, medicine and other sectors… The sectors are part of a sweeping review of critical supply chains that will kick off on Wednesday when President Biden is expected to sign an executive order and meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have worked on the issue." Waits for the GOP to start wailing about "controlled economies" and that we should let business run business how they see fit which will help :: checks notes :: China. Just wait until they find out about global supply of some rare earth metals, like lithium.

"Administration officials said Biden’s executive order, to be signed at 4:45 p.m. EST Wednesday, will launch an immediate 100-day review of supply chains for four critical products: semiconductor chips, large-capacity batteries for electric vehicles, rare earth minerals and pharmaceuticals." Boom, there it is.

"The House of Representatives is set to vote Wednesday on the Equality Act, a bill that would ban discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also substantially expand the areas to which those discrimination protections apply… It's a bill that President Biden said on the campaign trail would be one of his top legislative priorities for the first 100 days of his presidency."

"A coalition of evangelical Christian leaders is condemning the role of "radicalized Christian nationalism" in feeding the political extremism that led to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former President Donald Trump… In an open letter, more than 100 pastors, ministry and seminary leaders, and other prominent evangelicals express concern about the growing 'radicalization' they're seeing, particularly among white evangelicals." I think they've missed how the history of evangelicalism in America has been tied tightly with Christian Nationalism and white supremacy.

"Secretary of State Antony Blinken recommitted the U.S. to rejoining the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday, three years after former President Donald Trump withdrew over what his administration called bias against Israel."

"DeSantis’s popularity among Republicans has been steadily rising in the state and nationwide amid his handling of Covid, and now a new survey from top GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio gives a clearer picture of just how much the Florida GOP likes what he’s doing… In a hypothetical three-way primary for president, DeSantis gets 64 percent support compared to 12 percent for Rubio and 10 percent for Scott, according to Fabrizio’s survey, which was conducted last week for a private client and shared with POLITICO." DeSantis. Popular. For his handling of COVID in Florida. JFC.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Feb 23

"New video from NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars." And actual audio recordings from Mars.

"Norway’s National Museum says a small, barely visible sentence written with a pencil on Edvard Munch’s 1893 masterpiece “The Scream” was penned by the Norwegian painter himself."

"Scientists have cloned the first U.S. endangered species, a black-footed ferret duplicated from the genes of an animal that died over 30 years ago."

"A father-to-be from New York state has died after a device he was building for his child's gender-reveal party exploded, according to police… Christopher Pekny, 28, was assembling the device in the town of Liberty when it exploded just before noon on Sunday."

"Facebook has reached an agreement with the Australian government and will restore news pages in the country days after restricting them… The decision follows negotiations between the tech giant and the Australian government, which is set to pass a new media law that will require digital platforms to pay for news." Well, so much for linking to Australian news outlets.

"In April 2019, Facebook was preparing to ban one of the internet’s most notorious spreaders of misinformation and hate, Infowars founder Alex Jones. Then CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened." Facebook is not a friend of democracy.

"A family in Arizona bought a toy worth far more than what they paid for when they discovered more than 5,000 pills believed to be fentanyl inside the doll." Wasn't that a plot line in Christopher Nolan's Batman?

"Then Pollock knew her tribute, however heartfelt, would never begin to convey the grief of a pandemic that has now claimed 500,000 lives in the U.S. and counting."

"Vaccine advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration will meet Friday to discuss whether to recommend Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use authorization."

"President Joe Biden marked the grim milestone of 500,000 lives lost to the Covid-19 pandemic in a brief but poignant address to the nation Monday evening, drawing on his own personal tragedies as a rhetorical salve for a country still combating the deadly disease."

"Snow and ice melted across Texas over the weekend, but plumbers are still racing from home to home to patch uncounted stretches of burst pipe. Many residents are unsure when they’ll be able to make permanent repairs, what they’ll have to pay out of pocket or even when they’ll be able to go home."

"According to Arizona Department of Corrections whistleblowers, hundreds of incarcerated people who should be eligible for release are being held in prison because the inmate management software cannot interpret current sentencing laws."

"Women’s rights activists and allied Democrats are growing increasingly vocal about what they call the unfair targeting of women and people of color nominated by Joe Biden to top posts in his administration… Their fears had been bubbling for weeks, as Biden’s nominees of color came under sharp attack from conservative groups or saw their nominations delayed or opposed in greater numbers. But the worries burst out into the open over the weekend as Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget neared defeat at the hands of a Democrat."

"President Biden plans to welcome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a delegation of Canadian officials to the White House on Tuesday – a virtual session due to COVID-19 constraints that will try to recreate some of the ceremonial flourishes of an in-person visit to Washington."

"More than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup 10 years ago, the Guardian can reveal."

"The Biden administration’s early efforts to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are getting a chilly early response from Tehran. Though few expected a breakthrough in the first month of the new administration, Iran’s tough line suggests a difficult road ahead."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Biden administration officials, including John Kerry and Robert Malley, had meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during the Trump administration that were orchestrated to undermine President Biden's predecessor, a recent report from The Washington Times claims." Only… "Kerry has been open about the fact that he met with Zarif at least twice during the Trump administration…"

"Former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund will tell lawmakers Tuesday that law enforcement was prepared for the January 6 US Capitol riots based on the intelligence it had but that intelligence did not suggest a violent, coordinated attack, which overwhelmed their forces that day."

"A member of an Ohio militia group facing federal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol is now backing off claims that she met with the Secret Service before a rally for former president Donald Trump… A.J. Kramer, a court-appointed defense lawyer for Jessica Watkins, 38, wrote in a court filing Monday that Watkins spoke with Secret Service members while passing through a security check but did not meet with them, according to Reuters."

"A sprawling lobby and bar with only a handful of people. Confused guests asking where everybody went. Elegant, but empty hallways. These are the scenes CNN observed inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, this month as the once-humming destination confronts a new reality without its namesake in the White House." Sad trombone sounds.

"When New York prosecutors finally get to examine the federal tax returns of former President Donald Trump, they will discover a veritable how-to guide for getting rich while losing millions of dollars and paying little to no income taxes… Whether they find evidence of crimes, however, will also depend on other information not found in the actual returns."

Monday, February 22, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Feb 22

Cat Rambo on the Baen Bar and dis-inviting Toni https://catrambo.medium.com/more-fuel-for-the-recent-baenfire-2d8bdfa7f795 as the WoldCon GoH.

"A California lawmaker has introduced legislation that would decriminalize psychedelics in the state, the latest bold step in a movement to end America’s war on drugs… Scott Wiener, the state senator who authored the bill, hopes that in following the lead of places such as Oakland, Santa Cruz and the District of Columbia – all cities which have decriminalized psychedelics – California will move one step closer to decriminalizing the use and possession of all drugs, something that Oregon passed by voter initiative in November."

"Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged Sunday that state and local health officials have stumbled in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine equitably among Latino and Black communities in California… Speaking at a mobile vaccination clinic in Inglewood, Newsom said the state needs to “do more and do better” to provide outreach and set up vaccine sites directly in the communities that have been hardest hit by the virus."

"Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration during the Trump administration, predicted Sunday that declining COVID-19 infection rates are 'likely to continue' due to more Americans receiving their vaccines and the amount of people who have already contracted the coronavirus." And, you know, we've passed the holiday season. Next up, Spring Break.

There was this conspiracy theory about how the numbers of deaths from COVID were wrong, that it couldn't be that high, that doctors/hospitals were somehow profiting by labeling random deaths on COVID. Well, they were correct that the numbers were wrong, but not in the direction they thought. "Ohio's COVID-19 death toll has been underreported by as many as 4,000 people, the state Department of Health announced Wednesday… Officials say the issue was discovered during 'routine employee training,' and the unspecified problem apparently began last October and went on for months. The bulk of the so-far uncounted deaths occurred in November and December, according to the ODH."

"All schools in England are to reopen on 8 March as part of the prime minister's 'cautious' four-part plan to lift the coronavirus lockdown… Boris Johnson will share his finalised roadmap with ministers later, before unveiling it to MPs and then leading a news conference at 19:00 GMT."

"Texas officials are cracking down on businesses they say have hiked the prices of food, water, and hotel rooms while the state continues to deal with shortages caused by unprecedented winter weather." Now do public utilities.

"The surge in pricing is hitting people who have chosen to pay wholesale prices for their power, which is typically cheaper than paying fixed rates during good weather, but can spike when there’s high demand for electricity. Many of those who have reported receiving large bills are customers of electricity provider Griddy, which only operates in Texas."

"The brutal winter storm that turned Texas roads to ice, burst pipes across the state and left millions of residents shivering and without power has also damaged the reputations of three of the state’s leading Republicans." It won't last long.

"A suspected oil tanker leak off the coast of Israel last week has led to Israel's biggest maritime ecological disaster in many years, with authorities closing the country's beaches and beginning a massive cleanup effort."

"Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is buying competitor and fellow Ohio tire maker Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in a deal valued at $2.5 billion, the companies announced Monday morning." Ah, it's the "mergers to make insanely large companies while reducing customer choice" time of the recovery.

"While the President bungled two different statistics at a CNN town hall last week, the thrust of what he said is accurate: The minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009, has fallen far behind in terms of both inflation and productivity."

"Even with a raise to $15 per hour, a typical family of four couldn’t afford the basics in any U.S. state, according to a CNBC analysis of cost-of-living data assembled by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (This example assumes two kids and two adults working full-time for minimum pay.)"

"Showers of jet engine parts over residential areas on both sides of the Atlantic have caught regulators’ attention and prompted the suspension of some older Boeing planes from service."

"Disney+ is warning viewers that some episodes of 'The Muppet Show' feature 'negative depictions' and 'mistreatment of people or cultures.'… The variety show, which ran for 120 episodes in the 1970s and features puppet characters interacting with celebrity guests, was added to Disney's streaming service last week. Viewers are being shown the warning label before episodes." Also, The Muppet Show was a show for adults, it wasn't kids' fare.

"For months, Democrats in Washington have been debating what to do about student loan debt. About 43 million borrowers owe $1.6 trillion in federal student loans. While some lawmakers have pushed for President Biden to forgive up to $50,000 per borrower via executive order, Biden has so far only expressed support for more limited forgiveness, of $10,000, through pandemic relief legislation."

"Now, the once-snubbed Supreme Court pick will finally come before the Senate, this time as President Joe Biden’s choice for attorney general. Garland, an appeals court judge, is widely expected to sail through his confirmation process, which begins Monday before the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, with bipartisan support."

"In a reversal of the past four years, President Biden has vowed to take on the violent threat posed by the far-right. But how? On this week’s On the Media, a look at the techniques and tactics used to undermine extremism, here and abroad."

"But in the four years since he had joined the church as a pastor, Stacy had found himself increasingly up against an invisible, powerful force taking hold of members of his congregation: conspiracy theories, disinformation and lies… Stacy has seen the real consequences of these lies build up over the years; he says it has tainted the name of his faith."

"As happens at such moments, some editorialists and on-air voices are saying the Grand Old Party is over. But premature obituaries of this kind are neither new nor convincing. The latest batch of them might just set the stage for the next remarkable Republican comeback."

"South Dakota's Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was charged Thursday with three 2nd-class misdemeanors for his role in a car accident that killed a man who was walking down the side of a highway in September."

"Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Sunday the US had begun to communicate with Iran over the detention of American citizens, calling the matter a 'complete and utter outrage'… Iran has arrested dozens of dual nationals, including several Americans, in recent years, mostly on espionage charges. Human rights activists accuse Tehran of trying to use the detentions to win concessions from other countries, a charge it dismisses."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "President Biden’s 'radical' foreign policy agenda is 'turning upside down our Middle East policy' and giving Iran an 'out' to become a nuclear state with a return to the Obama-era nuclear deal, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said Sunday." Up is down, black is white. He then goes on to shove Jan 6th down the memory hole.

"Former vice president Mike Pence has declined an invitation to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where former president Donald Trump is scheduled to make his first public speech since leaving office." Ouch.

"About 19,000 Pennsylvanians have left the Republican Party since Jan 6. That’s a drop in the bucket for a state with more than 8.8 million registered voters, and almost 3.5 million Republicans. But it’s also an unusually high rate of defections: Almost two-thirds of the voters who have switched parties this year left the GOP, compared with a third or less typically."

Friday, February 19, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday Feb 19

"The NASA Perseverance rover safely landed on Mars after its 292.5 million-mile journey from Earth, the agency confirmed at 3:55 p.m. ET Thursday. The rover landed itself flawlessly, according to the mission's team."

"This new information has led them to link the flipping of the poles to key moments in the prehistoric record, like the sudden appearance of cave art and the mysterious extinction of large mammals and the Neanderthals. They argue that the weakening of the Earth's magnetic field would have briefly transformed the world by altering its climate and allowing far more ultraviolet light to pour in."

"Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continued to slam the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on Thursday for what he says are failures to prepare the state for the winter storm that has left thousands freezing in the dark without running water… But the governor also said he had the responsibility to ensure the nonprofit company functions properly and he vowed reforms." I guess the "blame windmills/blame New Green Deal" strategy didn't work out so well. Don't worry, though, I'm sure we'll get back to that.

"The number of people in Texas without running, drinkable water dwarfed the number of homes and businesses without power Friday morning as the state continued to struggle to recover from the storm that paralyzed it with a blanket of snow, ice and frigid temperatures… Some 12 million people were under boil water notices, the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality said. And while approximately 187,000 utility customers were still suffering from outages, according to poweroutage.us, that was down from a peak of some 4 million." Good luck with that if you don't have power. Also scroll down to read the story about "Some Texans are going to be dealing with surprisingly high electric bills."

"Texas’ power grid was 'seconds and minutes' away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months, officials with the entity that operates the grid said Thursday."

"The first dose of the Pfizer vaccination is 85% effective against coronavirus infection between two and four weeks after inoculation, according to a study published in the Lancet medical journal. The pharmaceutical giant and its German partner BioNTech, meanwhile, have told the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that their vaccine can be safely stored at standard freezer temperatures, which, if approved by the FDA, could help facilitate faster distribution by negating the need for expensive deep-freeze storage."

"CVS Health plans to contact Americans living in underserved communities to help them schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments amid signs that white people are getting the free vaccine at higher rates than Black Americans."

"A Manatee County, Florida, commissioner broke protocol for equitable vaccine distribution, which she had previously voted in favor of, when planning a vaccine drive initiated by Gov. Ron DeSantis… Vanessa Baugh admitted on Thursday that she 'wanted to make sure certain people were on the list' for vaccination after emails revealed that she directed county officials to create a list to let her and others jump the line. In response to criticism that county officials had only permitted residents from the two richest zip codes in the county to get vaccinated at the event, Baugh further admitted that she picked the zip codes herself." Making sure the "good people" get their vaccines first.

"Life expectancy in the United States fell by an entire year in the first half of 2020 as Covid-19 swept through the country, health data published Thursday found, a decline not seen since World War II."

"Amid reports of a federal probe into Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's handling of COVID-19 nursing home deaths, Democrats from New York's General Assembly and Senate have begun discussing the possibility of stripping Cuomo of broad executive powers granted to him last March to oversee the state's COVID-19 response efforts."

"According to a new Politico profile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is already positioning himself as one of these post-pandemic White House hopefuls. The basic gist of the story is that while DeSantis, just 42 years old and still in his first term, formerly 'drew national scorn for his stewardship of Florida’s Covid-19 response,' his 'resistance to restrictive measures' like mask mandates and the blowback he got for being 'divorced from science' has now 'strengthened' his standing 'among the GOP grassroots and elites heading into his 2022 reelection' — and even inspired 'conservative chatter nationwide about a presidential bid.'" Of course conservatives love him. See comment about the "good people" getting the vaccines first. But then they say there is no bad press as long as they spell your name correctly.

"Lawmakers grilled Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev for more than five hours Thursday over the online brokerage firm's role in frenzied buying last month of GameStop shares and other beaten down stocks. Although Tenev apologized for his company's decision to restrict trading in the video game retailer and other high-flying shares, he also defended its business model as one that benefits average investors… Tenev was joined by two hedge fund managers, Citadel CEO Kenneth Griffin and Melvin Capital CEO Gabriel Plotkin, as well as Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, Reddit investor Keith Gill and the Cato Institute's Jennifer Schulp. Together, the group faced questions about the intersection of social media, hedge funds and small investors that use Robinhood."

"When investigators raided a strip mall store in Garden Grove, California, in December, they found a line of customers snaking around the parking lot and huge stacks of cash inside the store… Orange County prosecutors say Nguyen Social Services was charging up to $700 a pop to file false unemployment claims for people who did not qualify to receive Covid-19 relief money."

"Uber drivers must be treated as workers rather than self-employed, the UK's Supreme Court has ruled… The decision could mean thousands of Uber drivers are set to be entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay… The ruling could leave the ride-hailing app facing a hefty compensation bill, and have wider consequences for the gig economy."

"Facing a rapidly approaching April deadline to act, Democrats are instead coalescing around a targeted effort to pass popular immigration bills that already have bipartisan backing, including legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented group known as Dreamers and immigrants from war-torn areas."

"President Joe Biden’s administration wants to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, but is demanding to see changes from Tehran before it will lift the heavy sanctions imposed on the country by the Trump team… Meanwhile, Iran says it wants Washington to step up its game and make the first move, refusing to budge until those sanctions are lifted."

"Donald Trump’s ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, violated federal law when she urged Americans to donate to her boss’s campaign using her official Twitter account… She did it again when she tweeted — once more from her official account — an article questioning whether Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants, was eligible to be vice president." Appoint an independent investigator/prosecutor who can move on these investigations without political interference.

"Democratic leaders are racing to get President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic aid plan through Congress, fulfilling one of his biggest early promises. But even if they hit their ambitious targets, major parts of the bill may already be too slow for many Americans walloped by the virus."

"Sen. Ted Cruz said that flying to Cancun, Mexico, as a winter disaster in his home state left millions without power or water 'was obviously a mistake' and that 'in hindsight I wouldn't have done it.'… Cruz, a Texas Republican, spoke to reporters after returning to his Houston home Thursday evening from a trip that has earned fierce criticism on social media and in his own backyard." And then goes on to blame his daughters (he Ted, you're the adult in that relationship), moves to both siderism (it's because of the "atmosphere of vitriol" that you helped create, Ted), and what's not mentioned is they left their dog at home, alone.

"U.S. Sen. John Thune is criticizing Republican activists and party leaders for engaging in 'cancel culture' by rushing to censure GOP senators who found former President Donald Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection." Conservatives have a long history of "cancel culture." It's just their boycotts tend to fail, but internally they've been doing it for decades.

"Six US Capitol Police officers have been suspended with pay, and 29 others have been placed under investigation, for their actions in the January 6 riot, a department spokesman said Thursday."

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Feb 18

"Teeth from mammoths buried in the Siberian permafrost for more than a million years have yielded the oldest DNA ever sequenced, according to a study published on Wednesday, shining a genetic spotlight into the deep past."

"NASA's Perseverance Mars rover is scheduled to touch down on the Red Planet today (Feb. 18) at 3:55 p.m. EST (2055 GMT) — or at least that's when NASA will find out if it landed."

"A blanket of snow covered portions of the Mediterranean basin after a winter storm swept through the region Tuesday night… Snow is common in the mountain ranges outside of Athens, Greece, but rarely does it fall within the city limits. Children opted to skip online classes to play. Adults did the same, including Norwegian Ambassador Frode Overland Andersen, who shared a video of himself skiing near the Olympic Stadium in Filothi on Twitter, The Associated Press reported."

"As winter storms and freezing temperatures continue to wreak havoc across Texas, many are having to fight for survival… Millions in the state remain without power on Wednesday, trying their best to stay warm and dry as burst pipes flood homes… Here are just some of the struggles some Texans said they are facing during this winter crisis."

"But the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which supplies about 90% of the state with its power, said Tuesday that wind power is responsible for just a fraction of the loss. Of the 45,000 megawatts of power offline during the peak, 30,000 megawatts stemmed from natural gas, while 16,000 megawatts were from wind turbines… Experts say traditional energy sources, including coal and natural gas, performed below expectations, while wind power actually performed above expectations." I guess ERCOT didn't get the memos in time.

"'Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,' (former Gov and presidential candidate Rick) Perry is quoted as saying. 'Try not to let whatever the crisis of the day is take your eye off of having a resilient grid that keeps America safe personally, economically, and strategically.'" Which is hilarious because that's exactly the opposite of what you have, Ricky. And Texans, I think you should let your former governor know exactly what you think of his proposal that you're willing to suffer for his gain.

"Police in Brazil are investigating allegations that healthcare workers are giving fake Covid-19 inoculations, amid reports of nurses injecting people with empty syringes… Police announced a criminal investigation on Wednesday, amid speculation that the nurses were either anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists, or were pocketing vaccine shots to be sold on the black market."

"As first reported by New Scientist, the B.1.429 variant of SARS-CoV-2 that originated in California has somehow had a "recombination" event with the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the United Kingdom. If confirmed by other scientists, this would mark the first recorded time that the novel coronavirus has developed a recombinant strain during the pandemic, although it is not unusual for coronaviruses in general to recombine." It's Thunderdome, two viruses enter, one virus leaves.

"Two men are accused of pretending to be federal marshals and flashing phony credentials to get out of wearing facial coverings at a South Florida resort hotel… When the staff at the Wyndham Deerfield Beach Resort asked Walter Wayne Brown Jr., 53, and Gary Brummett, 81, to cover their faces, the men refused, and threatened to arrest employees and saddle the hotel with a fine, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported." Just wear the goddamn mask.

"Prosecutors asked a Dutch court Thursday to drop the case against a 68-year-old father who is accused of isolating and abusing his own children, who were kept secluded from the outside world for years in a remote farmhouse." In case you thought Europe was more enlightened when it came to abuse.

"First-time filings for unemployment… totaled 861,000, the highest level in a month and above the Dow Jones estimate of 773,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday… The total for the week ended Feb. 13 marked only a slight uptick from the 848,000 a week earlier. That number was revised up from the initially reported 793,000."

"In a memo to U.S. associates obtained by Yahoo Finance, U.S. CEO John Furner said the wages for Walmart’s 425,000 store associates in the digital and stocking workgroups would increase to a range of $13 to $19 per hour, depending on location and market. The pay increase will take effect on March 13." The anti $15/hr wage arguments are starting to look a little ridiculous.

However… "Walmart said its minimum starting wage for workers will remain at $11 an hour. Its U.S. workforce numbers about 1.5 million people, making it the nation’s largest private employer." Nothing says you're special to your employer by creating a perverse incentive to cut costs by firing you.

"The 'meme stock' saga that began with wild swings in the price of GameStop stock last month opens a new chapter today. The House Financial Services Committee is convening a noon hearing to hear from major players touching several facets of the story… In announcing the hearing, Chairwoman Maxine Waters took particular aim at hedge funds, saying 'private funds engaging in predatory short selling to the detriment of other investors must be stopped.'"

No, no, no, see… "‘What I would like to point out here is that we have come dangerously close to the collapse of the entire system, and the public seems to be completely unaware of that, including Congress and the regulators.’… That’s Thomas Peterffy, founder and chairman of Interactive Brokers Group Inc., detailing Wednesday on CNBC the dire situation in which the market stood in late January as individual investors on social-media platforms banded together to send a handful of heavily shorted stocks, including bricks-and-mortar videogame retailer GameStop Corp.and movie chain AMC Entertainment Holdings to sky-high levels, with shockwaves registering throughout the market." It all depends on who you see as the hero and who you see as the villain.

So, with all the stories about how state GOP organizations are voting to censure those conservative representatives who voted for impeachment (both in the House and the Senate), kinda puts the lie to the "Big Tent" party line, doesn't it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday Feb 17

EDITED: Late breaking news: Rush Limbaugh, and so it goes. Do let the door kick you in the ass on the way out, Rush.

Who needs regulation? "A devastating winter storm that has plunged Texas into an electricity crisis offers warning signs for the U.S. as the Biden administration seeks to prepare for a future in which extreme weather is a greater risk and America is almost entirely powered by renewable energy… Wind and solar, still fairly small slices of the state's energy mix, played only a minimal role in the sudden power shortage, utility officials said — contrary to a wave of conservative critics who tried to falsely pin blame for the situation on renewable energy." Most of Texas's power grid is isolated from the rest of the US because Texas didn't want to follow federal regulations. They apparently had hardly any regulation on their operation, including no mandate to cold-weather proof their systems. So as the rest of the country had to deal with broken power lines from the storm, Texas also is dealing with the fact their their gas, coal, and nuclear power production had to shut down because temperatures were too cold to safely produce power. And while, yes, we need to modernize all 3 major power grids in the US and increase our ability to store generated power, this is not a tale about how terrible everything is. The wind turbines in Iowa (and Norway) and working just fine, thank you. This is the Texas government's (conservative lead for over 2 decades) fault, totally, 100%.

And they had warnings… "Still, Magness said ERCOT could not offer a firm timetable for when power might be fully restored. The outages are the widest Texas' grid has suffered but hardly a first in winter. A decade ago, another deep February freeze created power shortages in Texas the same week the Super Bowl was played in Arlington. A federal report later flagged failures in the system, including power plants that are unable to stand up to extreme cold."

"The mayor of a Texas city resigned after telling people it was their own fault if they were suffering from the vast loss of electricity in the state this week amid a historic cold snap… Tim Boyd, the mayor of Colorado City, accused his constituents of looking for a 'handout' as power went out across the state. He encouraged residents with no water to 'think outside the box to survive.'" What an asshole.

"At certain levels, just five minutes of carbon monoxide exposure is enough to be fatal. The colorless, odorless gas is produced wherever fuel is burned and can build to deadly levels especially quickly in enclosed spaces. Portable generators, whose engines each emit as much carbon monoxide as approximately 450 cars, are especially common culprits."

"The apparent uptick in MIS-C cases coincides with a decrease in COVID-19 cases nationwide, in the wake of a post-holiday surge. But experts interviewed by ABC News explained that there is often a lag -- sometimes three to four weeks -- between COVID-19 infections and the onset of MIS-C symptoms."

"The U.K. is set to be the first country in the world to run a Covid-19 'human challenge' study, following approval from the country’s clinical trials ethics body." Uh, yeah, Bob. Imma going to put my marker down on "this study is too dangerous."

"Fully vaccinated people can now skip quarantine even if they've been exposed to Covid-19, according to new guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But at the same time, the agency also acknowledges there's a lot researchers don't know about how vaccines impact transmission… The new guidance only applies if it has been at least two weeks since your final dose, no more than three months since that dose, and provided you don't develop symptoms." That's a lot of caveats. But, again, new disease, it's only been a little over a year that we've recognized the disease, yada yada yada.

And in England… "People with learning disabilities have been given do not resuscitate orders during the second wave of the pandemic, in spite of widespread condemnation of the practice last year and an urgent investigation by the care watchdog." The patients did not ask for them, or consent, they were just assigned. That's criminal and the people responsible should be held accountable for their actions (which are tantamount to murder).

"After last Friday night's unprecedented COVID-19 press briefing addressing the return of students to schools around the state, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday doubled down on his request to prioritize getting kids back into the classroom… During his Tuesday afternoon COVID-19 briefing, the Governor once again stressed the importance of vaccinating teachers and school employees and the hard deadline of getting kids back in schools by March 1."

"President Biden said Tuesday night that teachers should move up in priority for getting vaccines, although he didn't say whether he thinks teachers should be vaccinated before returning to the classroom. Mr. Biden's own Centers for Disease Control has said teacher vaccinations are not a prerequisite for school reopenings."

"For months, Nicholas Atencio and his girlfriend, Heather Surovik, spent nearly every minute of their lives together in a 2000 Cadillac Escalade… After Atencio, 33, lost his job as a plumber in May, he and Surovik, 36, delivered for Grubhub by day and at night curled up with their puppy on an air bed in the back of their car parked in a lot in Longmont, Colorado… Americans are being driven into their vehicles by COVID-19 pandemic-fueled woes. And their ranks are likely to grow as the government safety net frays and evictions and foreclosures rise."

"The benchmark Treasury yield rose again on Wednesday as U.S. retail sales easily topped expectations, adding to fears of potential inflation during the post-Covid economic recovery… The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.316 at roughly 8:35 a.m. ET, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond slipped to 2.073%. Yields move inversely to prices."

"Consumers flocked to spend their stimulus checks in January, sending retail sales for the month up 5.3% in a blockbuster start to 2021, according to a government report Wednesday… Economists surveyed by Dow Jones were expecting a rise of just 1.2%."

"New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Amazon on Tuesday, claiming the massive e-commerce company's 'flagrant disregard for health and safety requirements' during the coronavirus pandemic put the lives of workers and the general public at risk."

"Gunmen from a suspected criminal gang stormed a school in central Nigeria, killing one student and kidnapping dozens of other pupils, teachers and relatives, the local government said Wednesday, in the country's latest mass abduction."

"The princess-daughter of Dubai's ruler is being held captive by her family and fears for her life after a foiled attempt to flee the wealthy emirate in 2018, according to new video evidence in a case that has been highlighted by USA TODAY."

"Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday she knows her vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his recent Senate impeachment trial could have political consequences, 'but I can’t be afraid of that.'"

"Former President Donald Trump went after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, calling him 'a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack' in a broadside attack just days after the Kentucky Republican voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment trial." How do you feel about your vote now, Mitchell?

"Leo Brent Bozell IV, the son of a prominent conservative activist and media critic, has been charged for his alleged involvement in the Capitol insurrection… His father, Leo Brent Bozell III, is the founder and president of the nonprofit Media Research Center, which describes its mission as working 'to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media.' The organization runs the NewsBusters website, which frequently accuses mainstream media organizations — including NPR — of liberal bias."

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Feb 16

"This is an investigative report about how Baen’s Bar, the private forum run by the science fiction and fantasy publishing company Baen Books, is being used to advocate for extremist political violence. Evidence will be presented. Comments by a number of the forum’s users will be shared." Jason Sanford finds the receipts. Baen's current publisher has suspended the operations as it looks into this problem, good for them. Jason is facing a backlash for this in the form of death threats and harassment. Just shows what small people with small minds these supposed tough people are. Baen's Bar at one time was being pushed as a way to get published by Baen. You could post your stories there and they would be voted up or down, also you'd receive feedback and could rewrite (IIRC). It's unfortunate, but not entirely unforseeable given their market focus and previous problems. It's a place the radical right would gather beleiving they have a sympathetic corporate sponsor (weither it's true or not). As SWFA cleaned it own house and pushed to modernize, Baen became a symbol for conservatives/the right.

"Five people have now died from Ebola in Guinea as the government launched an urgent contact-tracing search after the disease’s latest reappearance… Guinea announced the outbreak on Saturday – the first in West Africa since a 2013-2016 epidemic that left more than 11,300 dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone."

"For decades, the prevailing theory about the extinction of the dinosaurs was that an asteroid from the belt between Mars and Jupiter slammed into the planet, causing cataclysmic devastation that wiped out most life on the planet… But new research out of Harvard University theorizes that the Armageddon-causing object came from much farther out than originally believed." If you're the dinosaur, it's a difference without much meaning.

"North Korean hackers tried to break into the computer systems of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in a search for information on a coronavirus vaccine and treatment technology, South Korea's spy agency said Tuesday, according to a South Korean lawmaker."

"Energy prices jumped Tuesday as a deep freeze in the South boosted demand for fuel and hampered production… More than 4 million people were without power across Texas on Tuesday morning, according to poweroutage.us, as the electric grid couldn’t keep up with heightened demand, forcing utilities to implement rolling blackouts in some cases."

"President Joe Biden is extending a ban on housing foreclosures to June 30 to help homeowners struggling during the coronavirus pandemic."

On the Media on taxes… "Few clichés are as well-worn, and grounded in reality, as the dread many Americans feel towards doing their taxes and the loathing they have for the IRS. But as much as the process is despised, relatively little is known about how it could be improved. Pro Publica's Jessica Huseman said that's largely because tax prep companies keep it that way. Brooke spoke to Huseman in 2017 about what an improved system might look like and how tax prep companies work to thwart any such changes."

"Ashenfelter is an economist at Princeton University, and he's spent a couple decades studying McDonald's. Back in 2012, when he was president of the American Economic Association, he even dedicated part of his big presidential address to the company… He views McDonald's as a kind of natural 'laboratory' to compare and contrast different labor markets… each McDonald's restaurant is pretty much the same; the workers have almost identical jobs, regardless of which part of the world they're in; the food they make is generally the same; and McDonald's are basically everywhere." Yeah, not really. Now, if it's a study of the corporate owned McD's, sure. And this seems to leave out that restaurants do have widely varying prices depending on the markets (such as how much you pay for a Big Mac at an airport, toll road rest stop, or side street in a small town).

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans for Congress to establish an outside and independent commission to investigate "the facts and causes" related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6… In a letter sent to her Democratic colleagues on Monday, the California Democrat said the commission will be modeled on the commission established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

"On the heels of the Senate's acquittal of Donald Trump, the NAACP, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll filed a lawsuit against the former president, Rudy Giuliani and two white supremacist groups, citing their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection."

Monday, February 15, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Feb 15

"A mix of wintry weather conditions is bringing warnings and advisories for some 150 million people, stretching from the Northwest down to the Texas border into the Northeastern U.S. early into the week."

"A winter storm dropping snow and ice also sent temperatures plunging across the southern Plains, prompting a power emergency in Texas a day after conditions canceled flights and impacted traffic across large swaths of the U.S."

"The lions are thought to bring good luck and prosperity for the Lunar New Year. And as they strutted and danced in the streets of Chinatown, decorated with silver bells and fur trim, they passed Rose Wong who was walking inside a wearable red and gold lantern she created as an artwork and symbol of hope for the neighborhood." Happy Year of the Bull.

"Perseverance, NASA's most sophisticated rover to date, is expected to land on the surface of Mars on Thursday, February 18, around 3:55 p.m. ET."

So what do we mean by a carbon tax and why is it necessary? "Air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil was responsible for 8.7m deaths globally in 2018, a staggering one in five of all people who died that year, new research has found… Countries with the most prodigious consumption of fossil fuels to power factories, homes and vehicles are suffering the highest death tolls, with the study finding more than one in 10 deaths in both the US and Europe were caused by the resulting pollution, along with nearly a third of deaths in eastern Asia, which includes China. Death rates in South America and Africa were significantly lower." Besides being tragic, these are "costs" being incurred by the rest of us to support the profits of industry. Your health insurance is higher, Medicare payments are increased, the loss of productivity because of illness, all of this is a cost borne not by the industry that caused it. A carbon tax attempts to make industry pay the full cost of their actions.

"Drilling through half-a-mile-thick ice and peering beneath Antarctica's Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, researchers have accidentally stumbled upon strange creatures lurking on a rock beneath the icy continent. Using a GoPro, a team of polar scientists with the British Antarctic Survey examined a boulder at a depth of over 4,000 feet and found it was alive with alien stalks."

"For the first time since November, average new daily coronavirus infections in the U.S. fell under 100,000--well below the average infection rate in December and January, according to data from Johns Hopkins University… The seven day average of new infections dropped below 100,000 on Friday, continuing at that level through Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Researchers reported 83,321 new infections and 3,361 new deaths Sunday."

"Researchers have discovered seven variants of the coronavirus in the US, with a mutation in the same genetic letter, a new study found… They were discovered in states across the country and it's not yet clear if the strains are more contagious, but researchers are concerned." Concerned scientists are concerned.

"The first travellers required to stay at quarantine hotels have begun arriving at Heathrow Airport… All British and Irish citizens and UK residents who arrive in England after being in a high-risk Covid country now have to self-isolate in hotels."

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight on the Next Pandemic. Winter is coming.

"For people suffering addiction, (seeking treatment) can be a life-or-death moment. Studies show that getting high-quality medical care can make a huge difference, leading to long-term recovery and a healthier life. So what Beetham's team found was troubling… According to their peer-reviewed study, published in the February issue of the journal Health Affairs, many for-profit rehab programs charged inflated fees and used misleading sales practices to attract patients without evaluating their actual medical needs."

"There’s no question that the pandemic has been hard on children, whether or not their schools have reopened. A flood of research in recent months has found alarming spikes in depression and anxiety among children and their parents. Multiple studies have found that students — especially those with disabilities and from low-income families — are learning less than they should… But a new study from NBC News and Challenge Success, a nonprofit affiliated with the Stanford Graduate School of Education, is one of the first to shed light on the differences between students whose classes have been exclusively online and those who’ve been able to attend in person at least one day per week." And this is part of the reason why the bungling of the pandemic is as terrible as we say it is. You can count the cost in the dead and sick, the direct medical expenses and calculate the continuing expenses for those who now have chronic conditions due to COVID (as we're discovering more long last effects of this disease), but then there are the hard to evaluate costs of lives disrupted, thrown off the rails, the costs of having depended on schools to deliver vital social services to those in need and what happens when that support is cut.

"The United States Coa(s)t Guard is searching for 16 people who have gone missing from two separate boats off the coast of Florida. Officials said 10 people went missing near Key West while six others disappeared off the coast of Fort Pierce."

"Some industries are thriving and eager to hire, which should be welcome in an economy that has recovered only a little over half of the 22 million jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic… Data from the Labor Department this month, for example, showed job openings at a five-month high. Meanwhile, job search site Indeed said recently that job postings are back to pre-pandemic levels." Pay. Living. Wages. Understand that when this owner says "increased wages" he means $11/hr (most likely, looking at local business, which oddly, we have a lot of plastics manufacturers in the area, most of which pay less than $10/hr).

"The rally in commodities that some say is the start of a supercycle continued on Monday, buoying resource stocks… The West Texas Intermediate contract, the leading benchmark for oil in the U.S., topped $60 a barrel for the first time since Jan. 2020. Middle East tensions and an unusual cold snap in Texas that could cause supply disruptions was credited with moving prices higher. Other commodities including platinum also advanced."

"Even before taking office, former President Donald Trump's administration obsessed over the U.S. census… From a failed bid for a citizenship question to a presidential memo about unauthorized immigrants that was fast-tracked to the Supreme Court, its moves over the past four years followed a playbook first drawn up more than four decades ago by the Federation for American Immigration Reform." Again, Trump isn't an aberration, he is the culmination of 50 years of conservative politics.

"More than 46,000 Missourians have also gotten letters demanding repayment. The state says it paid out more than $150 million last year to people who it later determined weren't eligible. The federal COVID-19 relief package passed in December gave states the power to forgive overpaid federal unemployment benefits. Many states, such as Illinois and Colorado, have decided to offer waivers — but not Missouri."

"Business and civil rights groups in California are demanding action after a recent surge of xenophobic violence against Asian Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area left one person dead and others badly injured… The brazen, mostly daylight assaults have rattled nerves in communities ahead of (last) Friday's Lunar New Year holiday."

Trying to make it Biden's fault. "President Joe Biden kept his head down during the impeachment trial of his predecessor, which ended Saturday afternoon with Donald Trump’s acquittal… And now he can’t move on fast enough… Biden is traveling to Wisconsin and Michigan this week as he presses ahead on the challenges that will make or break his own presidency: defeating the pandemic and reviving the battered economy."

"Democratic and Republican lawmakers have issued fresh calls for a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate why government officials and law enforcement failed to stop the attack on the US Capitol in January, following Donald Trump’s acquittal in his impeachment on charges that he incited the insurrection."

"Sen. Lindsey Graham is taking aim at Vice President Kamala Harris with a warning that she could be impeached if Republicans take over the House of Representatives in 2022." Serious eye roll. Yes, this is how conservatives think. Sure, the president standing before a crowd, telling them to march on the Capitol and fight like hell which lead directly to an insurrection just a few minutes later is exactly the same as :: checks notes :: contributing to a bail fund which also inadvertently released someone who then committed a violent crime a few days later. And yes, conservatives do think it's the same thing.

"But now the decades-long love affair is over. After a member of Publix’s founding family donated $300,000 to the Donald Trump rally that preceded January’s deadly Capitol riots, Mize is pulling out of what she says has become 'an abusive, dysfunctional relationship', and joining others in a boycott of the Florida-based grocery chain that operates more than 1,200 stores across seven south-eastern states."

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Linkee-poo Valentines

"Remnants of planets with Earth-like crusts have been discovered in the atmospheres of four nearby white dwarf stars by University of Warwick astronomers, offering a glimpse of the planets that may have once orbited them up to billions of years ago."

"The Chang'e 4 lander and Yutu 2 rover resumed activities on Feb. 6 after hibernating during the severe cold of lunar night, according to the Chinese state-run media outlet Xinhua. But one lunar day earlier the rover came across a curious rock specimen which the Yutu 2 drive team began to refer to as a 'milestone.'"

"A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Japan, close to Fukushima, late Saturday evening leaving at least 12 people injured… The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 11:07 p.m. local time (9.07 a.m. ET), was located 45.9 miles (73.9 kilometers) northeast of Namie, a coastal town 60 miles from Fukushima, according to the United States Geological Survey."

"Gina Carano isn't apologizing for her controversial social media posts that led to her departure from The Mandalorian… On Friday, the actress and former mixed martial artist hit back at critics and revealed a new movie project with The Daily Wire, a conservative news and opinion website founded by conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro."

"Amid the swirling controversy over whether New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration knowingly undercounted deaths among nursing home residents during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in the state, a top aide for the governor apologized to Democratic lawmakers, saying the administration "froze" when initially asked by state legislators back in August about the issue… Which is a stunning admission. And seems to jibe with a report released last month by New York Attorney General Letitia James that suggested that Cuomo's administration undercounted deaths among nursing home residents by as much as 50%." So you know all those people who were saying the counts were wrong? They were just wrong in the opposite direction.

"Many Europeans are desperate for a coronavirus vaccine. But not just any vaccine."

"A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention roadmap for reopening the nation’s schools during the Covid-19 pandemic got a passing grade Friday from powerful teachers unions… 'Today, the CDC met fear of the pandemic with facts and evidence,' said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in a statement. 'For the first time since the start of this pandemic, we have a rigorous road map, based on science, that our members can use to fight for a safe reopening.'" Let the intentional misunderstanding of the guidelines begin.

"Crowds are usually welcome and even encouraged in tourist-dependent New Orleans in the days leading up to Mardi Gras but as the final weekend of the 2021 season began Friday, police warned that crowds won’t be tolerated amid efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus."

"What happened to Kelvin was the result of a vast gray area: For years, Californians could legally possess medical marijuana, but stores weren’t allowed to sell it—in fact, the whole supply chain bringing it to them was considered illegal. Now, even though the city and the state are licensing cannabis shops, Los Angeles continues to struggle with its legacy of legal confusion and selective enforcement. Businesses can appear legitimate, and even exist for years, without any legal license to operate. Many of the illegal shops are in Black and Latino neighborhoods, with their employees vulnerable to arrest while owners are shielded behind shell companies. So as police and prosecutors attempt to crack down on unlicensed dispensaries, they appear to be reproducing the very social inequalities that legalization was supposed to fix."

"Under the plan advancing in the House Ways and Means Committee, the next stimulus bill would send $1,400 to eligible people, as well as expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Altogether, the three programs would provide a 33% boost to the pre-tax incomes of the poorest 20% of Americans — or a $3,590 hike per family — according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy."

"The budget gambit Democrats are embracing to fast-track President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic aid plan will trigger billions of dollars in cuts to critical programs… Top Democrats are already shrugging off the threat, insistent that Congress will once again act in time to head off the slashing to programs like Medicare and farm subsidies — a byproduct of using the reconciliation process. But in that high-stakes trust fall, Democrats will be relying on the Senate Republicans they are now spurning." Remember when everybody said sequestration would be enough of a threat to get conservatives to go along? Conservatives want to cut Medicare, and their willing to blame Democrats for cutting farm aid.

"White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo announced Saturday that he is resigning for the 'abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable' threats he made to a female reporter in January. Ducklo's resignation comes one day after he was placed on a one-week suspension over the incident." Looks like someone had a talking to.

The moment when… "While scores of Capitol rioters flaunted their role in the January 6 attack, a growing number of insurrectionists are accused of covering their tracks by destroying cellphones, wiping social media posts and threatening witnesses… After the sugar high of storming the Capitol wore off, about 30 of the known rioters facing charges allegedly tried to destroy evidence or sanitize their social media profiles, according to a CNN review of FBI affidavits and court documents filed by the Justice Department."

"Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler backed reports late Friday that said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke with then-President Donald Trump as a mob was attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and that the president seemed unconcerned about the riot." Everybody knew the Trump called for the riot, launched the riot, and was responsible and could have called it off.

"After lawyers for Trump finished their defense of his impeachment for inciting the insurrection, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) questioned the timing of Trump's 'disparaging tweet' about Pence during the attack. At 2:24 p.m., 11 minutes after Pence was escorted from the chamber as Trump backers stormed the building, Trump tweeted that Pence 'didn't have the courage to do what he should've done' and somehow object to the election results. Despite the implication of the certification process already being over (it wasn't), Trump's lawyers said he had not been informed Pence was in danger when it happened."

"Ivanka Trump reportedly urged her father, former President Donald Trump, to make peace with former Vice President Mike Pence after the deadly Capitol riots, sources familiar with the matter told the Washington Post… A growing rift had emerged between the two leaders after Trump had publicly denounced Pence and encouraged a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol and stop the vice president from verifying the election results."

"The Senate voted Saturday morning to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump… The vote, which was 55-45, throws a new wrinkle into the proceeding, which had been on a fast track, with many Senators from both sides of the aisle anxious to put it behind them and move on." And then they rolled over. "The Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump won't be hearing from witnesses after all."

"President Biden responded to the Senate's acquittal of Donald Trump on Saturday by reminding Americans that truth must be defended, saying the impeachment of the former president was a stark illustration of the danger posed to democracy by lies, misinformation and extremism… And Biden said that although Trump was acquitted, his actions in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection were not 'in dispute.'" And yet, in a month's time, it will be disputed on every talking-head show.

"U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Donald Trump 'practically and morally responsible' for his supporters' deadly attack on the Capitol, only moments after voting to acquit the Republican former president on an impeachment charge of inciting the melee." McConnell is trying to have it both ways. If he felt this was true, he would have voted to impeach. This is him trying to shake himself and the Senate GOP free from his vote to acquit. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. If he really believe this, McConnell has also failed his oath of office, failed to protect and uphold the Constitution, and should be removed.

"Former President Donald Trump's lawyers mounted an aggressive defense Friday in Trump's second impeachment trial -- and made multiple false and misleading claims to bolster their case."

Friday, February 12, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday Feb 12

Chick Corea, and so it goes.

"A dense clump of stars a few thousand light-years away has been harbouring a surprise in its core. Rather than one relatively chunky black hole, astronomers have found that the globular cluster NGC 6397 is wrapped around a cluster of smaller, stellar-mass ones… This could not only help us better understand the formation of larger black holes, it suggests that globular clusters could be of great interest to gravitational wave astronomy as the black holes inevitably draw closer together towards collision."

"And now (researchers) have succeeded in growing human brain organoids, or 'minibrains,' that contain the Neanderthal variant of a gene called NOVA1, a team reports in the journal Science."

"In a day of confusion and frustration, Los Angeles vaccination sites that were slated to close Friday due to supply shortages ran out of doses sooner than expected and had to turn people away Thursday."

"Gov. Mike DeWine said on Thursday that the statewide curfew has expired and is no longer in effect… He made the announcement during Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing."

"Former President Donald Trump's condition after testing positive for Covid-19 became so concerning last October that there was talk of putting him on a ventilator, according to what Trump told one person at the time… The detail raises questions about whether the former President's condition was worse than officials were willing to publicly acknowledge, a development first reported in detail by The New York Times on Thursday."

"A massive crash involving more than 130 vehicles on an icy Texas interstate left six people dead and dozens injured Thursday amid a winter storm that dropped freezing rain, sleet and snow on parts of the U.S."

How goes Brexit? "The U.K. economy contracted by 9.9% in 2020, its largest annual contraction since the Great Frost of 1709, as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged economic activity… In the final quarter of the year, gross domestic product grew by 1%, according to the Office for National Statistics, as the country reimposed nationwide lockdown measures in a bid to combat a resurgence of Covid cases." Granted some of that is COVID related.

"There is a 'very credible case' that the Chinese government is carrying out the crime of genocide against the Uighur people, according to a formal legal opinion newly published in the UK… It concludes there is evidence of state-mandated behaviour showing an intent to destroy the largely Muslim minority in north-western China."

"A group of 60 House Democrats urged the Biden administration on Thursday to end programs at the Department of Homeland Security that allow for state and local police officers to take on the role of federal immigration enforcement… The push comes as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under recently-confirmed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, is set to release new guidelines on how the agency will handle enforcement after four years of the Trump administration’s aggressive immigration agenda."

About that "free speech" argument… "A North Carolina man has been charged with making threats to kill President Joe Biden, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed in court Thursday… David Kyle Reeves, 27, of Gastonia, North Carolina, was arrested February 5 for knowingly and willfully making threats to take the life of and inflict bodily harm upon the President, according to newly unsealed court documents."

"Military officials overseeing the authorization process to launch nuclear weapons were unaware on January 6 that then-Vice President Mike Pence's military aide carrying the "nuclear football" was potentially in danger as rioters got close during the violent Capitol insurrection, according to a defense official." Mostly it was because the people involved, Pence's team, didn't know the full situation.

"Over two days of testimony, the Democrats asserted that Trump deliberately ordered his supporters to 'fight like hell' and 'go by very different rules' or they 'wouldn’t have a country anymore.' They bolstered their case with accounts from the rioters themselves, some of whom said they were acting on Trump’s orders."

"A trio of Republican senators allied with former President Donald Trump met with his defense team Thursday evening, in the middle of an impeachment trial in which they will vote on whether to convict Trump and potentially bar him from holding public office again… Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah were spotted going into a room in the US Capitol that Trump's lawyers were using to prepare for their arguments." The fix is in.

"Only hours before his defense team was set to take to the Senate well to begin his defense, former President Donald Trump is reportedly hoping attorney David Schoen takes the lead following a disastrous performance from his other attorney, Bruce Castor, on Tuesday… Trump, according to ABC News, is also hoping Castor won’t speak at all."

"On Thursday, the House impeachment managers wrapped up their case for the conviction of Donald Trump for inciting the US Capitol riot on January 6, centering their argument on connecting the former President's words in advance of the riot and the actions taken by his supporters on that day."

"The mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol may have been a fringe group of extremists, but politically motivated violence has the support of a significant share of the U.S. public, according to a new survey by the American Enterprise Institute… The survey found that nearly three in 10 Americans, including 39% of Republicans, agreed that 'if elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent actions.'"

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Feb 11

"China is falling in love with space, inspired by the ruling Communist Party’s increasingly ambitious plans over the past two decades to launch humans into orbit and explore the moon and Mars."

The Two Nurses Talking substack… "But what happens IF the vaccines work and then we return to normal? We’re in crisis mode now, but when the crisis abates, the trauma won’t." The hospital I work at isn't as bad as this, but we're close. Last week I worked with severe achilles tendon pain. Why? Because you have to. I picked up 6 extra hours one day because there was a call off and someone needed to work it or there would be a single tech for the entire hospital (and they're a newbie, and it was only 6 because the hospital doesn't want to pay for a single-second of overtime that they don't absolutely have to). Which, btw, I'm looking at 2 hours this Friday night where I will be that single tech, me and a student who I can't have exposed to COVID because 1) she's a student and if a student gets COVID our "teaching hospital" days are done and 2) she's also a coworker at the front desk looking to retrain. And I'm still being pressured to pick up more time to help the nurses. Have I mentioned I already work 60+ hours a week between my two jobs? The hospital is offering us a full year of a "meditation/wellness" application subscription. And in case you think she's being hyperbolic about people even now saying it's a hoax or just a bad flu, she is understating it.

"People who have received the full course of Covid-19 vaccines can skip the standard 14-day quarantine after exposure to someone with the infection as long as they remain asymptomatic, US public health officials advised."

"First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 793,000 last week as declining Covid-19 cases provided little relief for the jobs market… The total for the week ended Feb. 6 was above the 760,000 forecast from economists surveyed by Dow Jones but a slight decrease from the previous week’s upwardly revised total of 812,000."

"Automakers across the globe are expected to lose billions of dollars in earnings this year due to a shortage of semiconductor chips, a situation that’s expected to worsen as companies battle for supplies of the critical parts."

"Dan and Grace Porte worked together for decades… In the 1970s, they started a paint and wallpaper business. Then, after the housing bubble burst in the Great Recession, the couple delivered cars for Enterprise. Five years later, they were fielding customer returns at Target… But the pandemic brought that to an end. Now, in their mid-80s, the Portes are unemployed." Social Security is not enough.

"Saudi Arabia has released jailed activist Loujain al-Hathloul, best known for leading the campaign to legalize driving for women in Saudi Arabia, according to her family. She was held for nearly three years."

"Democrats are confronting a growing intraparty dispute over whether the Covid-19 relief bill they are crafting should include a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, a top progressive priority for years… Two disagreements are brewing between Democrats: first, a procedural dispute over whether Senate rules even allow them to include it in the coronavirus relief bill. And second, a policy division over whether a nationwide wage floor of $15 an hour is too high."

Jim Wright on combat fatigue of the last four years.

"A group of more than 100 former Republican officials have discussed the possibility of forming a conservative party due to their unhappiness with the direction of the GOP under former President Donald Trump and the likelihood he'll be acquitted at the end of his second impeachment trial, according to Republicans who participated in the conversation." If they do it correctly, they may engage many who have left the political scene for the past 3 decades, the so called "independents." But I don't give it much of a chance. For forty years the two parties made sure a third party faced too many hurdles to get started.

"Federal prosecutors on Wednesday appealed the release of a Pennsylvania woman accused of using a large pipe to break a window in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. and giving directions to fellow insurrectionists about how to take the building." But yet they let another go on vacation in Mexico.

"New security footage of the Capitol assault presented Wednesday by House impeachment managers showed Officer Eugene Goodman directing Senator Mitt Romney to turn to safety on January 6. Romney appeared to be heading in the direction of the rioters when Goodman steered him away."

"House Democrats leading the prosecution of former President Trump wrapped up the second day of his impeachment trial on Wednesday by calling into question what Mr. Trump was doing while the Capitol was under attack on January 6."

"Former President Donald Trump's legal team isn't discouraged over graphic, never-before-seen video that House impeachment managers used in a detailed play-by-play of the violent riot that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on January 6… 'I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know,' Trump attorney Bruce Castor told reporters Wednesday during a brief break after senators saw several close encounters with the rioters. 'We know a mob breached the Capitol and wreaked havoc in the building. I'm waiting for them to connect that up to President Trump and so far that hadn't happened.'" And while it's true they showed a lot of footage of the attack, they also showed how the president planned and encouraged this attack preparing the ground for over a year.