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

Friday, September 25, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday Sept 25

(Stories grokked from Gwenda Bond, Robert J Bennett, John and Dan)

"This year, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas or ERCOT, the electric grid that services about 90% of Texas electricity, is scheduled to add almost as much wind as it has in the past five years combined and almost triple its solar capacity. Yes, in 2020. The grid operator’s latest figures indicate that they expect, by the end of the year to have 31,069 MW of wind and 6,035 MW of solar on the system, up from 23,860 and 2,281 MW of wind and solar at the end of 2019."

"A recent Pew Research Center survey shows Republicans 18 to 39 years old are more concerned about the climate than their elders. By a nearly two-to-one margin they are more likely to agree that 'human activity contributes a great deal to climate change,' and 'the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change.'… Some of these young conservatives are starting environmental groups and becoming climate activists. And now they're pushing their party to do more." To be young and dumb once more. Good luck, young conservatives, your about to learn the GOP doesn't really give a shit about what you feel and has worked hard to indoctrinate you into their mind set. And at the very least, just wants your vote so they can continue the way they are. You and the Log Cabin Republicans can have picnics together and lament how the majority of the party doesn't listen to while still remaining wedded to what you think are conservative core principles.

"A Massachusetts construction worker’s love of black licorice wound up costing him his life. Eating a bag and a half every day for a few weeks threw his nutrients out of whack and caused the 54-year-old man’s heart to stop, doctors reported Wednesday." Yeah, don't do that.

"'The curse of being sick in America is a lifetime of debt, which means you live a less-than-opportune life,' says Fentress, who is now 31 and still works for the senior facility, providing an essential service throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 'The biggest crime you can commit in America is being sick.'" Best healthcare system in the world, killing people with debt.

"Frontline healthcare workers are locked in a heated dispute with many infection control specialists and hospital administrators over how the novel coronavirus is spread – and therefore, what level of protective gear is appropriate." Yes. I've already been disciplined for it. My, "crime"? I pointed out how people in other departments weren't following protocol potentially exposing us to risks (proper PPE and posted warnings). And then four weeks later as our employee infection rates climbed, they asked for all of our help to point out non-compliance by filing reports. You can guess how many reports I've filed. Hint, somewhere less than 1. Also note while nominally about "science" and "medicine", the arguments are actually about liability and costs (for the hospitals).

"The first study to analyze the structure of the novel coronavirus from two waves of infection in a major city found that a more contagious strain dominates recent samples, researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital said on Wednesday."

Ma href="https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-09-23/young-adults-are-now-the-largest-group-of-americans-with-covid-19-cdc">"A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the median age of people with COVID-19 in the U.S. has declined over the spring and summer, with Americans in their 20s now accounting for more cases than people in any other age group." And while younger people are at less risk of dying from an infection, we are now seeing serious, long-term effects of infection from COVID-19 (such as heart, kidney, and liver damage).

"The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus."

"Kentucky Representative Attica Scott was arrested with a group of people accused of starting a fire at the Louisville Public Library not far from the church according to a report from LMPD."

"While many have moved over to Microsoft 365, some prefer a perpetual license for Office that allows them to purchase a product once and to have it forever. Microsoft usually releases perpetual updates to Office every few years, though some were concerned that Office 2019 would be the last perpetual update. Luckily for those who prefer a perpetual license, a new version is on the way." Hey Adobe and Quicken, might want to think about this.

"A new report by an Australian research group has identified and mapped more than 380 suspected detention facilities in China's western Xinjiang region… The Australian Strategic Policy Institute said in its report that these centers have been built and expanded, even as Chinese officials claimed most of the people sent to the facilities had 'returned to society.'"

"A federal court has ordered the Trump administration to abandon last-minute changes to the 2020 census schedule and extend the time for counting for an additional month… The preliminary injunction issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California requires the Census Bureau to keep trying to tally the country's residents through Oct. 31."

"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finally acknowledged Wednesday that photos that were part of a facial recognition pilot program were hacked from a Customs and Border Control subcontractor and were leaked on the dark web last year. Among the data, which was collected by a company called Perceptics, was a trove of traveler's faces, license plates, and care information. The information made its way to the Dark Web, despite DHS claiming it hadn't. In a newly released report about the incident, the DHS Office of Inspector General admitted that 184,000 images were stolen and at least 19 of them were posted to the Dark Web."

"The civil rights groups behind this summer's Facebook advertiser boycott are joining other critics to pressure the social network to do more to counter hate speech, falsehoods about the election and efforts to delegitimize mail-in voting."

"As chief justice, Roberts has occasionally shown moderation. He famously saved most of the Affordable Care Act — twice! And he more recently cast a surprising vote to preserve the constitutional right to an abortion (although he simultaneously signaled that this right is unlikely to last much longer)… But Roberts has shown no such moderation on voting rights. Among other things, Roberts dismantled much of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), and he’s joined decisions making it much harder for voting rights plaintiffs to prove they were victims of discrimination. On the basic question of who is allowed to vote and which ballots will be counted, the most important issue in any democracy, Roberts is still the same man who tried and failed to strangle the Voting Rights Act nearly four decades earlier."

"The Cuyahoga County Democratic Party is accusing Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose of trying to suppress voters in the general election."

"The FBI and the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said Thursday that they are investigating 'potential issues' with nine military ballots in one county. They believe the ballots were opened improperly, though they have not filed any charges or taken official action."

"Florida's attorney general is asking law enforcement agencies to open an investigation of a contribution made by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to help pay the fines and court fees of felons… Bloomberg this week raised some $16 million for a fund established by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to help felons who have completed their sentences vote in the upcoming election." Yes, conservatives will fight hard to make sure you can't vote.

"President Trump resumed questioning the integrity of this year's election on Thursday after the White House sought to walk back his earlier comments suggesting he might not accept the results if he were to lose… The back-and-forth started on Wednesday evening at a press conference."

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday Sept 24

"As planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, some have been driven to explore desperate measures. One proposal put forward by the California-based non-profit Arctic Ice Project appears as daring as it is bizarre: to scatter a thin layer of reflective glass powder over parts of the Arctic, in an effort to protect it from the Sun’s rays and help ice grow back." Geoengineering raises its hoary head once again.

"California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035 as the top U.S. auto market shifts to electric vehicles to reduce climate-warming emissions, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday."

The chickens coming home to roost… "A mini-moon is on track to enter Earth's orbit and come as close as 27,000 miles away… However, rather than some asteroid that will orbit around the Earth, it may actually just be some old space junk that made its way back to our planet… Dr. Paul Chodas, the director of NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies, believes that the object, named Asteroid 2020 SO, is an old booster rocket from the 1960s."

"Marine biologists are astonished after a Cuvier’s beaked whale held its breath for nearly four hours during a deep dive. The unexpected observation shows there’s much to learn about these medium-sized whales… Scientists from Duke University and the Cascadia Research Collective recorded the unbelievable dive during field observations off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in 2017. In the first of two epic dives, the Cuvier beaked whale, wearing tag ZcTag066, stayed underwater for nearly three hours. A week later, the whale outdid itself, holding its breath for a bewildering three hours and 42 minutes." That'll do, whale. That'll do.

"Once a fixture at the administration's coronavirus briefings, Dr. Deborah Birx has confided to aides and friends that she has become so unhappy with what she sees as her diminished role as coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force that she is not certain how much longer she can serve in her position, sources familiar with her thinking tell CNN… Birx has told people around her that she is 'distressed' with the direction of the task force, describing the situation inside the nation's response to the coronavirus as nightmarish." Now tell us how bending your will to Trump worked out for you. Again, with an authoritarian, eventually everyone is on the outside.

"COVID-19 cases recorded in the dashboard show a relatively small degree of spread among staff and students. The study looked at data collected from more than 550 schools across 46 states over a two-week period starting Aug. 31, with more than 300 schools maintaining some level of in-person classes… Researchers found 0.23 percent of students had confirmed or suspected cases of the virus, while the rate among educators was 0.51 percent." Okay, run the study for the first 2 weeks in October, you know, after the incubation period elapses, and then tell me. Also note this study is of "reported cases", not antibody testing on the students, teachers and staff.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet decided on Thursday to tighten Israel's coronavirus lockdown after he said a surge in infections was pushing the nation to 'the edge of the abyss.'"

"In the video, which was shared on Twitter, the officer says: 'If you go down there, if you choose to, there is a grassy area along the north side of the road. Those people who want to come down today to exercise your second amendment rights or your first amendment rights…' The woman in the video interjects 'we're not protesters,' to which the officer replies: 'Fantastic.'" The correct response, officer, is, "Then you might want to go home."

"Shortly before a 9 p.m. ET countywide curfew, there were reports of gunfire near one of the marches. Two of the responding officers were shot and had non-life-threatening wounds, Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder told reporters. A suspect was in custody, he added." What still strikes me is that if the officers were responding to the shot fired by the boyfriend, how is it he escaped unharmed? Why do these officers still have guns? I appreciate the chaos of the situation, but the officers were prepared (they were the ones coming through the door), the officers have training and need to re-certify every year (at least in Ohio they do), but they were unable to hit the person who fired at them in close quarters and with emptying their handgun's magazines. So tell me this story again how these are good cops, because it seems they're grossly incompetent.

"Four individuals, including the partner of one of the victims of the deadly Kenosha, Wisconsin, shootings, have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, the suspected gunman Kyle Rittenhouse and two leaders of online groups."

"Traditional door-to-door trick or treating should be avoided this Halloween, under new national guidelines. But even with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest advice, Americans are still rallying to safely bring the spooky season to life. People are discovering new, creative ways to celebrate the occasion during the pandemic." Hey NPR, how about interviewing people who can't buy their kid one costume, let alone three. And all the pouty, "I'm so put out" comments… okay parents, have you got a plan to explain to their children why people close to them are very sick or dying? I think that might stress you out a little more.

This one is mostly for the "how clueless can you be this far into the pandemic" pot. "So, what can you do to keep your child in the spirit of spookiness on Saturday, October 31, 2020? We have 12 alternatives that aimed at keeping you more entertained and less creeped out about COVID-19… 1. Trick or Treat in Reverse: This one might take the whole neighborhood pitching! The kids can still get dressed up in their costumes, but instead of them going door-to-door, they can hang out in the front yard as neighbors walk or drive by and deliver candy!… 2. Trick or Treat Drive By: A lot of parents already drive their kiddos to Halloween hotspots. This allows the family to get dressed up and ride over to visit friends and family by honking, texting or giving shoutout upon arrival. Then, deliver some treats or tricks in costume to your fave folks!" Can anyone point out the flaws in this plan? Anyone? Bueller?

"The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ending Sept. 19 came in at 870,000. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected first-time claims at 850,000, down slightly from the previous week’s 860,000… 'Bottom line, we have a mix of people going back to work because they are now greater incentivized to do so without the extra $600 per week and those that are still challenged in finding a job that matches their skills in this unfortunate pandemic landscape,' said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group. He was referring to the expiration this summer of the $600 a week in supplemental benefits paid to people who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic… New York and Georgia saw the biggest week-over-week increases in initial claims, the department said. Claims in New York jumped by more than 9,000 last week and first-time filers in Georgia rose by more than 6,000." Bottom line, if you have investments with Bleakley Advisory Group, time to pull out and move your accounts. Because apparently their CIO doesn't know shit.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid rose slightly last week to 870,000, a historically high figure that shows that the viral pandemic is still squeezing restaurants, airlines, hotels and many other businesses six months after it first erupted… The figure coincides with evidence that some newly laid-off Americans are facing delays in receiving unemployment benefits as state agencies intensify efforts to combat fraudulent applications and clear their pipelines of a backlog of jobless claims." Notice Fox doesn't who who those economists are who are saying the numbers are inflated (or what they're basing their claim on).

"U.K. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a new emergency package of measures to contain unemployment, replacing the country’s furlough scheme which is due to expire next month… The Job Support Scheme will directly top up the wages of employees working fewer hours due to suppressed business demand, enabling workers to keep their jobs on shorter hours rather than being made redundant. It will run for six months from November."

"The bookkeeper who handled their payroll allegedly embezzled their money and injected it into a notorious scheme used by crime bosses, terrorist financiers, and drug cartels. The participants laundered $10 billion of illicit money into nice clean cash… It all happened with the help of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest financial institution and one of the biggest lenders to Donald Trump. But when the enormous scandal broke, Deutsche blamed it on a few middle-level staffers in its Moscow office, paid a fine, and got back to business… The FinCEN Files investigation reveals that Deutsche managers, including top executives, had direct knowledge for years of serious failings that left the bank vulnerable to money launderers. Documents show two warnings sent to committees that included Paul Achleitner, Deutsche’s chair, and one sent to the bank's supervisory board."

"The US Senate failed to agree on language for a resolution honoring the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a sign of how divided the chamber is over the Supreme Court vacancy… Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tried to pass a resolution by unanimous consent Tuesday to commemorate the liberal icon's life and legacy, but with language that Ginsburg's seat not be filled until the next president is sworn in." The battle of the quotes.

"Before President Donald Trump has even announced his Supreme Court pick, conservatives are fighting to make the conservative Christian views of one of the leading contenders, 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, off-limits in any potential confirmation hearing… Some critics of Barrett are invoking 'The Handmaid’s Tale,' a dystopian feminist novel in which conservative Christians have stripped away women’s rights, as a symbol of their fear that her conservative religious beliefs could reshape American society. Supporters are raising claims of anti-Catholic bigotry, both in response to the critics and in anticipation what they say would be the onslaught to come if Barrett were nominated." Anti-Catholic bias… sure, sure. Say, tell me how many SCOTUS justices are Catholic? There are four. Five counting Gorsuch was raised Catholic, but now attends the Episcopalian Church.

Putting away childish things, a Stonkettle post.

"Local elections used to be a low-key affair in Blue Hill, Maine. So residents of the small town were shocked, in 2010, when a candidate for the Maine State Senate was targeted by a flood of negative ads… We trace the money back to a Republican strategist named Chris Jankowski who hatched a scheme to reshape national politics for a bargain. The strategy was called the Redistricting Majority Project, or 'REDMAP.'" The Planet Money podcast on the project that reshaped congressional districting and gave the GOP a majority control in many state houses even as they lost the overall vote.

"Voters in a number of swing states this November will have more leeway in getting their mail ballots back in time to count, should rule changes announced in the past week hold up to legal challenges. But the changes could delay the reporting of election results and possibly set up court fights down the line."

"With less than six weeks to go before Election Day, and with over 250 COVID-related election lawsuits filed across 45 states, the litigation strategy of the Trump campaign and its allies has become clear: try to block the expansion of mail-in balloting whenever possible and, in a few key states, create enough chaos in the system and legal and political uncertainty in the results that the Supreme Court, Congress, or Republican legislatures can throw the election to Trump if the outcome is at all close or in doubt. It’s a Hail Mary, but in a close enough election, we cannot count the possibility out. I’ve never been more worried about American democracy than I am right now."

"President Donald Trump on Wednesday would not commit to providing a peaceful transition of power after Election Day, lending further fuel to concerns he may not relinquish his office should he lose in November… 'Well, we're going to have to see what happens," Trump said when asked whether he'd commit to a peaceful transition, one of the cornerstones of American democracy.' Trump has no respect for America, it's traditions, and the political process.

"Now the Trump campaign is said to be considering another, even more outrageous approach: In a thorough and deeply disconcerting piece about the constitutional crisis that may await us between November 3 and the inauguration in January, the Atlantic’s Barton Gellman reports that the Trump campaign has been discussing 'contingency plans to bypass the election results and appoint local electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority.' Citing the president’s baseless claims of fraud, Team Trump could ask GOP-controlled state governments to choose electors, completely ignoring an unfavorable or uncertain popular vote, state and national Republican sources told Gellman."

"Donald Trump will face Joe Biden within days for the first of three presidential debates, and some of the president’s supporters are already bracing for a humiliating loss… White House allies, Republican donors and some of Trump’s closest advisers worry that a recent, frenzied push by his top lieutenants to portray Biden as a seasoned debater — with the goal of raising expectations for the Democratic presidential nominee — is too late and too disingenuous to have an impact when the two meet on the debate stage next Tuesday." And Sean Spicer finally tells the truth, the outcome of the debate won't move the numbers much.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Linkee-poo late on Wednesday, Sept 23

Gale Sayers, and so it goes.

"A vast fishing armada of Chinese vessels just off the Galápagos Islands logged an astounding 73,000 hours of fishing during just one month as it pulled up thousands of tonnes of squid and fish, a new report based on data analysis has found."

"As COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have declined in recent weeks, after record highs during the summer, health officials are bracing themselves for a tough winter when Americans move back indoors and the seasonal flu begins to circulate. Seriously complicating the issue is how public trust in the federal response has eroded after a summer of chaotic messaging and unwarranted optimism by Trump and his top advisers."

"President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that the United States would not impose a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus following additional new measures imposed on businesses in the U.K." Well of course not, silly. You didn't impose a lock down before. You left that up to the governors.

"Then the New York Times published a new exposé revealing that Trump officials had overruled medical researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, forcing the agency to publish misleading and dangerous information designed to discourage people who have been exposed to the virus from being tested."

"U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday that the country was at a 'perilous turning point' and he had to act now to stop the spread of the coronavirus… In a marked change of tone, Johnson reversed the lifting of some lockdown measures in England, telling people to work from home once again if possible. It comes just weeks after the prime minster repeatedly urged people to return to the office." Oopsie.

"Police put up concrete barriers and fencing. The mayor declared a state of emergency. More businesses nailed plywood to their storefront windows… Downtown Louisville’s preparations and closures seemed more reminiscent of an approaching hurricane than a grand jury decision… Louisville is bracing for an anxiously awaited decision on whether any police officers will be charged in the March 13 shooting death of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old unarmed Black woman fatally shot by police who has become a national symbol of racial injustice."

"Following months of outrage, activism and anticipation, a Kentucky grand jury has decided to indict one of the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March… Brett Hankison, who was terminated in June, has been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment over shooting into neighboring apartments. Bond was set at $15,000."

"Around 20 Department of Homeland Security open source intelligence reports were recalled in the aftermath of revelations this summer that the department had potentially collected and disseminated intelligence on US journalists, according to a department official familiar with the review… The intelligence reports, which had already been shared with state and local officials, were pulled back because they didn't meet the department's requirements, the official said. Although the nature of the reports is unclear, it speaks to the recent turmoil inside the department's intelligence division." Totally normal (intense side-eye).

"President Trump on Tuesday said he had expanded a ban on racial sensitivity training to federal contractors… His administration had instructed federal agencies to end such training earlier this month."

And to just hammer the point home, over at the National Review… "Systemic Racism? Make Them Prove It." Points to all of US history, redlining, slavery, race riots/massacres, Jim Crow… Yes there are people just this stupid, and they tend to congregate on the right-wing of the spectrum.

"Nationwide protests have cast a spotlight on racism and inequality in the United States. Now a major bank has put a price tag on how much the economy has lost as a result of discrimination against African Americans: $16 trillion… Since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost that much as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans, according to a new study by Citigroup. It's not an insignificant number: By comparison, U.S. GDP totaled $19.5 trillion last year." That's a heckofalotta money for something that supposedly doesn't exist.

"Her story is an especially stark example of how pandemic financial stress is playing out. But the poll found many people reported problems with housing, health care and unsafe workplaces, and a high percentage of Americans — 46% — said they're having 'serious financial problems.' Nearly one out of three respondents had used up all or most of their savings."

"Are you in the top 1%, 5% or 10% of the U.S. income and wealth scale? If you are, congratulations on being rich and economically successful. Good for you too for not being a big part of our current economic challenges. You’re protected from the headwinds affecting the other 90% of your fellow citizens… It’s easy to hate the rich for all that they have and all that you don’t, but the rich aren’t the problem." Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. "Taxes on the wealthy could certainly be higher. Taxing the rich will provide more funds to pay for the government and to pay for interest on the government’s debt. But unless those monies are deployed such that they can create jobs and growth, the problem of the trapped poor and middle class will remain unchanged and may worsen." And we again hear about how government would just waste the money, so we shouldn't tax the rich. Thanks for coming. And all you poor people better start earning more money to save the economy for rich people!

"Shay Chandler did not plan to buy what seemed like the last full-sized refrigerator in all of San Antonio. When her old one broke a few weekends ago, she discovered she'd have to wait almost two months for a replacement."

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clinched an agreement Tuesday to take the threat of a government shutdown at the end of the month off the table… The bipartisan accord, which comes after several days of back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans over the stopgap funding measure, would fund the government through December 11." It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

How's that swamp draining going? "The consulting firm where the wife of acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is an executive has been awarded more than $6 million in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security since September 2018, according to records on the federal government website USA Spending."

"Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is set for a confirmation hearing on Wednesday in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and if he is confirmed, he'll be the first Senate-confirmed secretary in more than a year." I'm sure it went well.

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping anti-corruption package that they're billing as a successor to post-Watergate reforms — updated for a potential post-Trump Washington… The measure, a 158-page Democratic wish list that includes curbs on pardons for close associates of the president, a requirement for campaigns to publicly report many foreign contacts and a requirement for courts to prioritize congressional subpoenas, is House leaders' version of an antidote to what they see as weaknesses in democratic government exposed by President Donald Trump." Sure it's only a political move, but it's a smart one.

"When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns for the final time to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, an army of more than a hundred of her former clerks will meet the casket and accompany it up the stone steps leading to the great hall where the liberal icon presided for almost 30 years."

"For a year, Senate Republicans have teased a bombshell investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden that could rock the former vice president’s campaign for the White House… But an interim report, issued by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) less than six weeks before the presidential election and released publicly on Wednesday, is largely a compilation of previously public information — some of it rehashed anew by witnesses who already testified during the House’s impeachment inquiry last year — as well as news articles and strongly worded insinuations with little evidence to back them up." Because they've got nothing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tuesday is all right for fightin'

Sorry folks, fighting to keep one more from the QAnon black hole. Not a lot of time to read current news.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday Sept 21

Plastics. "When you add it up, the total amount of synthetic microfibres going into the wider environment as we wash our clothes is an astonishing number… US scientists estimate it to be 5.6 million tonnes since we first started wearing those polyester and nylon garments in a big way in the 1950s… Just over half this mass - 2.9 million tonnes - has likely ended up in our rivers and seas… That's the equivalent of seven billion fleece jackets, the researchers say."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reversed controversial coronavirus testing guidance, which previously said that people who didn’t have symptoms but were exposed to an infected person 'do not necessarily need a test.'… The new guidance said that people without symptoms who have been in close contact with an infected person 'need a test.'" And now the general public understands part of what healthcare workers have been going through for over 6 months now. The rules fucking change almost every day until we just don't care anymore.

"The UK could see 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October without further action, the government's chief scientific adviser has warned… Sir Patrick Vallance said that would be expected to lead to about '200-plus deaths per day' a month after that."

"The death toll from the spread of coronavirus in the United States was approaching over 200,000 lives on Monday, more than double the number of fatalities in India, the country reporting the second-highest number of cases in the world."

"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance on its website to say coronavirus can commonly spread 'through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols,' which are produced even when a person breathes." Jazz hands.

"From empty pizza boxes to Amazon cartons, household trash cans are overflowing with the refuse of our new, stay-at-home era — and cities are struggling to keep up… Residential trash volume spiked as much as 25% this spring, according to the trade group Solid Waste Association of North America. It has shrunk a bit since then but remains well above pre-pandemic levels."

More guns make us safer… "At least 40 rounds were fired during a shooting that left two people dead and over a dozen others injured at a house party in upstate New York, authorities said… The party in Rochester started early Saturday as an invite-only event before it eventually grew in size after two nearby parties "infiltrated" the house. Three or four people had handguns, Capt. Frank Umbrino said."

"A White business owner charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting a Black man during protests in Nebraska has died by suicide days after his indictment, his attorney said Sunday… A grand jury on Tuesday charged Gardner, 38, with manslaughter in the death of James Scurlock, the Black man authorities say Gardner shot May 30 during a protest against police brutality and racial injustice outside Gardner's bar in Omaha, Nebraska. Gardner was also charged with attempted assault, making terroristic threats and using a gun to commit a felony."

"The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday effectively established a three-part test that must be met before it will raise interest rates: the economy must be at 'maximum employment,' inflation must have 'risen to 2 percent' and it must be 'on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.'" This, IMHO, is Very Bad™.

"So, in the present moment of booming stock markets and child hunger, you might be feeling too inured to America’s grotesque levels of inequality to summon much interest in yet another report testifying to the one percent’s total victory in the 50 Years Class War… But a new study from the Rand Corporation, in partnership with the Fair Work Center, illustrates the impact of a half-century of upward redistribution in bracingly concrete terms: If income had been distributed as evenly over the past five decades as it was in 1975, the median full-time worker in the U.S. would enjoy annual earnings of roughly $92,000 a year. As is, that worker makes just $50,000."

"The Pentagon slammed the Chinese armed forces for threatening Taiwan with joint military moves as a senior U.S. official conducted a rare visit to the self-ruling island claimed by the mainland government in Beijing."

What if we threw a war and nobody came? "The Trump administration unilaterally declared Saturday that international sanctions on Iran, lifted as part of a 2015 nuclear accord, have been reimposed… There's one problem: Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – the other signatories to the deal President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from – have no intention of enforcing those sanctions."

"President Donald Trump is trying to max out on his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran weeks before the election, setting up a messy diplomatic fight — and potential volatility in the Middle East — just as the president pitches himself as the region’s chief peacemaker." It's called "flailing" and it's never a pretty site.

"President Trump has given tentative approval to a deal that will keep TikTok alive in the U.S., resolving a months-long confrontation between a hit app popularized by lip-syncing teens and White House officials who viewed the service as a national security risk." So, somehow, with this sale, these applications are no longer a threat to US security? "That arrangement appears to satisfy the White House's concerns over the security of American user data, even though Chinese tech company ByteDance is expected to hold its majority-ownership position." I call bullshit.

"President Donald Trump is adamant that a tentative deal involving short-form video app TikTok will include a $5 billion fund to 'educate people' about the 'real history of our country.'… That appears to have taken TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance by surprise, and created even more confusion about how the finer points of an already complicated deal will work in practice." Double bullshit.

"Weeks before the Trump administration announced it was cutting the 2020 census schedule short, career officials at the Census Bureau attempted to send signal flares about how that last-minute decision would lead to 'fatal' data problems with the national head count and the perception of 'politically-manipulated results…' Internal emails and memos, which were released this weekend as part of a federal lawsuit in California, show career officials trying to hold the integrity of the once-a-decade count together in the last weeks of July amid mounting pressure from the administration to abandon the extended timeline it had previously approved in response to the coronavirus pandemic."

"It’s a tale of two feeds, because thanks to confirmation bias and powerful proprietary algorithms, social media platforms ensure we only get a single side of every story… Even though most Americans continue to describe themselves as holding balanced views, we still naturally gravitate toward certain content online. Over time, algorithms turn slight preferences into a polarized environment in which only the loudest voices and most extreme opinions on either side can break through the noise."

"U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said border restrictions between Canada and the United States because of the novel coronavirus pandemic would be lifted 'pretty soon', just hours after the two countries confirmed they would remain in place until at least Oct. 21." The president is lying.

"Weighing the president down in his reelection bid is his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and race relations, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll… More than half of Americans — 56% — disapprove of the job President Trump has done handling the pandemic." It's only 56%? JFC people aren't you all paying attention? (I mean, I know you all are, but :: waves hand around indicating everything ::)

"The White House announced Friday nearly $13 billion in federal aid to help rebuild Puerto Rico's electrical grid system and the education system… The funding is a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), and the announcement comes as Puerto Rico continues to struggle to fully recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria three years ago." Someone is worried about their reelection.

"'As a community social worker, I can tell you that Puerto Rico's recovery, if it can be called that, didn't come thanks to the government. It came from nonprofit associations, it came from the neighbors themselves. It came from foundations. It came from the hands of other people who supported the families that suffered the most,' Perez said in Spanish."

"A woman suspected of sending a package containing the poison ricin to the White House is expected to appear in a New York court Monday, following her arrest at the U.S.-Canada border, authorities said… The suspect was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Peace Bridge border crossing near Buffalo on Sunday and is expected to face federal charges in connection with the package which was intercepted in the past week, a law enforcement official said."

"The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has raised the profile of a case that marks the latest existential threat to the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case the week after the general election in November."

"President Donald Trump said Monday that he will probably announce his Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday or Saturday."

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Friday that whomever President Donald Trump nominates to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will get a vote on the Senate floor, signaling a historic fight in Congress over one of the most polarizing issues in American politics."

"Senate Democrats, lacking votes to stop President Donald Trump's pick to fill the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat, are weighing an array of tactics to battle back -- ranging from bringing the chamber to a screeching halt this year to pushing legislation to expand the court if they win the majority in the fall."

"Young Americans favor Joe Biden over President Trump, according to a new survey, but Trump's supporters appear more enthusiastic about that choice."

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Linkee-poo 2020 can fuck right the fucking fuck off

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and so it goes.

Of course they will nominate a replacement justice. More than likely they will seat a replacement (yes, yes, the Concerned Senator Caucus is Very Concerned™ once again, but once the check clears they will vote, just like they did for Brett Kavanaugh, just like they didn't for Merrick Garland). Did you really expect them not to? Did you really expect them to have morals, scruples, consistency, or conscienciousness? For those who stayed home or voted third party, how do you feel about your protest vote now?

Yes, this is bad. And not the least of it is how Justice Ginsburg has not even been buried and we can't mourn her and celebrate her life because there is no time if we want to save our democracy.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Linkee-poo puts the ape in apricot

"If there is life on Venus, it might want to start learning Russian. The boss of Russia's government space agency has claimed it as a 'Russian planet.'… The bold territorial claim comes on the heels of scientific research suggesting life could exist on Earth's celestial neighbor, the second planet from the sun." Ah, yeah, Sergie.

"Scientists have found a clever new way of measuring ocean warming, using sound waves from undersea earthquakes… Their new method shows the decadal warming trend in the Indian Ocean was far higher than previous estimates."

"Nearly 30 Massachusetts high school students have been told to quarantine after parents sent their child to school despite knowing that the teen was positive for the coronavirus." Jazz hands!

"This means the same proportion of people have been infected in Kenya's two biggest cities as have been infected in some of the hardest hit parts of New York City. But not only has the death rate been low, but the country's health ministry has repeatedly stated that about 90 percent of Kenyans who have tested positive have proven asymptomatic."

"Now at the beginning of the Jewish High Holiday season, Israel entered a second lockdown on Friday as coronavirus cases soar in a country of around 9 million people."

"Britain was on Friday considering whether to impose a second national lockdown, after new COVID-19 cases almost doubled to 6,000 per day, hospital admissions rose and infection rates soared across parts of northern England and London."

"'Pandemic fatigue' has set in across parts of Europe where the outbreak is on the rise again in some countries that were hailed early on for stamping out massive outbreaks." Whispers, pandemic fatigue is not just in Europe.

"The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that weekly coronavirus case numbers are rising in Europe at a higher rate than during the pandemic's peak in March… At a virtual news conference, Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO in Europe, warned, 'We do have a very serious situation unfolding before us.'" Rhut rho.

"That apparent lack of footage is critical, considering that the narrative of what happened during the attempted arrest of Reinoehl in the town of Lacey, Washington, is so confusing. An eyewitness interviewed by VICE News said he did not see Reinoehl pull a weapon; U.S. Marshals, who led a fugitive task force arresting Reinoehl, initially said he drew his weapon on officers and was subsequently shot… The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office (TCOS), which was not involved in the shooting but is investigating the Reinoehl killing, clarified that he had a handgun at the time of his death, but the TCOS wasn’t yet sure whether he drew or fired it… President Trump has described Reinoehl's killing as 'retribution.'" How convenient.

"A Salt Lake City police officer is facing a felony charge stemming from an April encounter in which he ordered a police dog to attack a Black man who was on his knees with his hands raised, seemingly complying with officer commands… Salt Lake City District Attorney Sim Gill announced the aggravated assault charge on Wednesday. He alleges that officer Nickolas Pearce did "attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another" during the April 24 encounter with Jeffery Ryans."

The economic toll of the pandemic isn't being distributed evenly. "Sixty percent of Black households are facing serious financial problems since the pandemic began, according to a national poll released this week by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. That includes 41% who say they've used up most or all their savings, while an additional 10% had no savings before the outbreak." Again, the pandemic isn't causing these inequities, it's just making them easier to see.

"Belarus's president, beleaguered by six weeks of mass protests demanding his resignation, has announced he is putting troops on high alert and closing the country's borders with Poland and Lithuania."

"Citing national security concerns, the U.S. government said it will bar downloads in the U.S. of the Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat apps starting Sunday… In its announcement Friday, the Commerce Department accused China's communist leaders of having shown 'the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S.,'" Funny how this only came about after TikTok users spoofed the Trump campaign's Oklahoma rally.

Remember when conservatives lost their minds over Common Core which basically said, “kids who graduate should be able to read and do math” as being something forced down their throats by the Federal Government and we need to keep local control of schools? President Trump just said, "Hold my beer." "In austere, starkly divisive remarks, President Trump on Thursday said he would create a commission to promote 'patriotic education' and announced the creation of a grant to develop a 'pro-American curriculum.' The move is largely political — a reaction to a growing push by some academics for schools to teach an American history that better acknowledges slavery and systemic racism." Hang on to your asses, folks. The crazy is only just starting.

"The precarious financial position that some friends of Trump and other hotel executives are now in has fueled an intense lobbying campaign aimed at persuading the Trump administration, the Federal Reserve and Congress to rescue hundreds of hotel industry players that relied on riskier Wall Street debt to finance their lodging empires before the virus hit… They are making the case that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has the power — and access to the billions of federal funds he needs — to extend existing coronavirus relief efforts to the commercial real estate sector, which so far has been cut off from most of the stimulus money." And now you know why Mnuchin wanted full control over the money with no overbite. The swamp in all it's glory.

"The one person Republicans were using as a source of 'dirt' on former Vice President Joe Biden, Andrii Derkach, was officially sanctioned by President Donald Trump’s Treasury Department for being an 'active Russian agent.' Now, Trump’s favorite conservative outlet, OANN, is scrambling to remove any mention of his name from their website. They neglected to remove other spellings of his name, however."

"A woman has accused President Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her at the 1997 U.S. Open in New York. In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Amy Dorris said Mr. Trump groped various parts of her body and forced his tongue into her mouth outside a bathroom at the event." Wow, it's almost like that Access Hollywood tape was correct.

"Some Jewish Americans are fiercely condemning President Donald Trump for repeating rhetoric they consider to be 'textbook anti-Semitism.'… During an annual White House conference call to honor the upcoming High Holidays on Wednesday, Trump told American Jewish leaders, 'we really appreciate you, we love your country also and thank you very much.'"

How's that swamp draining going? "In late 2019, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina co-sponsored a bill on prescription drug prices — and WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina, is reporting that Tillis received more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from pharma-associated political action committees 'within two weeks.'" All the money is being drained right into their pockets.

"Election workers around the country are preparing for what could be one of the most chaotic elections in history. There's not only a pandemic, but dozens of ongoing legal fights over voting rules. That's left a lot of things up in the air only weeks before Election Day… In election offices such as the one in Lehigh County, Pa., workers are trying to deal with the uncertainty." The uncertainty, including the outcome, is the plan.

"Across the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has threatened the democratic process ahead of the presidential election. But the situation is even more acute in Texas, where Republicans have long devised a tortuous system that actively disadvantages minority communities who would generally lean Democratic. Long lines, voter intimidation, voting machine malfunctions and other issues afflicted almost 278,000 Texans during the midterm election in 2018, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project."

"Specifically, DeJoy told the officials that his agency was undertaking a public information campaign to explain to voters that the U.S. Postal Service is equipped to handle the expected increase in mail volume that comes during election season, according to New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who leads the National Association of Secretaries of State, which organized the call." Uh huh. Sure. Yeah, you betcha. If you're going to vote by mail, request your ballot as early as you can, follow the directions, and utilize your state's ballot tracking measures to make sure it's counted.

"A former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence assailed President Donald Trump's response to the pandemic in a new video Thursday, adding to the growing list of former Trump administration officials who have criticized the President and, in several cases, endorsed his Democratic opponent Joe Biden." Seems like a trend.

"This year campaigns and political parties have staffed up their legal war rooms, making this election season one of the most litigated ever. A lot of the on-going lawsuits are due to coronavirus-related election issues, with at least 248 nationwide."

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday September 17

"Hurricane Sally made landfall early Wednesday morning near the Alabama and Florida border, with catastrophic flooding rainfall, damaging storm surge and strong winds. Sally will spread the threat of flooding rainfall well inland across the Southeast through early Friday."

"The Trump Team has a plan to not fight climate change… It may take decades to see the worst effects of global warming. Yet Jim Reilly, the director of the US Geological Survey, is committed to short-term thinking."

"Smoke from the wildfires ravaging much of the US West Coast has spread to the east of the country, casting a haze over New York and Washington DC… They have also caused some of the most unhealthy air on the planet in several western states."

"President Donald Trump again contradicted his own health officials' coronavirus statements -- this time on the importance of mask wearing and the timing for a vaccine… And he demeaned Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying the doctor was 'confused' in his congressional testimony." In an autocracy, only the leader's opinion is valid. "'Yesterday he was pointing to a quote, that event Dr. (Anthony) Fauci has noted, which is that masks can have unintended consequences. While we support wearing them, and it's patriotic to do so, the unintended consequence can be inappropriate usage,' (White House Press Secretary) McEnany said." That's not "unintended consequences", that's just poor aseptic technique. The same can be true if servers and wait staff don't wash their hands after using the bathroom. This isn't the mask's fault.

"President Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday that a White House staff member tested positive for the coronavirus."

"Preterm deliveries appear to be linked to coronavirus infections, according to a new study on COVID-19 and pregnancy published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC report also tracked miscarriages and stillbirths in patients with the virus."

"Health systems across the southern hemisphere were bracing a few months ago for their annual surge in influenza cases, which alongside Covid-19 could have overwhelmed hospitals. They never came… Many countries in the southern half of the globe have instead experienced either record low levels of flu or none at all, public health specialists in Australia, New Zealand and South America have said, sparing potentially tens of thousands of lives and offering a glimmer of hope as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere." Whispers, because they're still in lock down and have, mostly, effected precautions like wearing masks and social distancing. They also have been, for the most part, able to control COVID spread.

"In written responses to the House Committee on Natural Resources obtained by NPR, Major Adam DeMarco of the D.C. National Guard said he was copied on an email from the Provost Marshal of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region. He was looking for two things: a long range acoustic device, a kind of sound cannon known as an LRAD, and a device called the Active Denial System, or ADS… It uses millimeter wave technology to essentially heat the skin of people targeted by its invisible ray." Also, the use of LRAD is not so everyone can hear, it's to create a painful, deafening noise. To inform the crowd they must disperse all you need are regular megaphones.

"The Trump administration’s crackdown has already led to more than 300 arrests on federal crimes in the protests that erupted following the death of George Floyd. An AP analysis of the data shows that while many are accused of violent crimes like arson for hurling Molotov cocktails and burning police cars and assault for injuring law enforcement, others are not — prompting criticism that at least some arrests are a politically motivated effort to stymie demonstrations."

How goes Brexit? "The Bank of England has warned that the rising rate of coronavirus infections and a lack of clarity over the UK's future trade relationship with the EU could threaten the economic recovery… It said much of output lost during lockdown had been recovered but the outlook remained 'unusually uncertain'."

How go the Trade Wars? "We can now say, officially, that Trump's trade war with China is an unmitigated, farcical disaster… The World Trade Orginization — a body the US once helped design —ruled that Trump's initial salvo of tariffs on Chinese goods were in violation of WTO rules. Symbolically this ruling crystalizes the fact that this trade war was a breach of the US's own principles."

"The WTO sided with a complaint from China over tariffs imposed on about $234 billion of goods in 2018. The panel found that the tariffs violated several rules, including one that countries apply equal tariff rates to all member trading partners."

"U.S. calls off tariffs on Canadian aluminum — for now… U.S. hit pause on 10 per cent tariff but could re-impose the levy after the November presidential election." But the tariffs on wood products is still in place.

Good news, everybody… "First-time claims for unemployment insurance beat Wall Street estimates last week as the U.S. economy enters a critical new stage… Filings totaled 860,000 for the week ended Sept. 12, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected 875,000, against the previous week’s upwardly revised 893,000." Or, ya know, the other thing.

"'We thought it was done,' (Comedian Jon) Stewart said, 'but it turns out that the veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering the same illnesses and the same toxic exposures, because of the actions of our own government.'… Hundreds of thousands of troops have signed on the VA's registry for those who believe they were exposed to burn pits. His voice filled with anger, Stewart said lawmakers should try creating burn pits in the towns of their home districts."

"A payroll company owned by Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney, took between $150,000 and $350,000 in taxpayer-backed emergency small business loans this spring. It's unclear what Giuliani did with the money… Giuliani initially told Salon he was ignorant of the purpose of this company, which has handled payroll needs across more than 18 years and lists him as CEO. Financial experts tell Salon that one of two scenarios is likely true: Either Giuliani directly employs a number of people through this unknown company, and pays them substantial salaries, or the company misrepresented its finances to the government when it applied for the loan — which would likely constitute fraud, a felony." It's like they just can't help themselves.

"President Trump took to Twitter Wednesday to call for another round of direct stimulus payments as the country looks to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic… Calling Democrats 'heartless,' the president made his case for Congress coming together to pass a more robust COVID relief package." Dear Mr President, talk to your good friend Mitch McConnell, he's the one holding up the plan the House passed 3 months ago.

"As explosive allegations were coming to light about immigrant women who say they've been subjected to unwanted hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures, one of those detainees was put on a plane back to her home country… Pauline Binam was nearly deported Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to Cameroon, a country she left when she was 2 years old. Binam, now 30, was on the tarmac when members of Congress say they intervened."

"The nerve agent used to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detected on an empty water bottle from his hotel room in the Siberian city of Tomsk, suggesting he was poisoned there and not at the airport as first thought, his team said on Thursday."

"The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, on Wednesday refused to say which administration officials were working on a healthcare plan that President Donald Trump has long promised to unveil and recently said was 'all ready'… During the White House press briefing, CNN's Kaitlan Collins pointed out that three top healthcare officials in the Trump administration had said during testimony before a Senate committee that they were unaware of Trump's Obamacare replacement plan… McEnany responded that 'a wide array' of White House officials and 'multiple stakeholders,' including the Domestic Policy Council, were working on the plan." Because there is no plan.

"Michael Caputo, the top spokesman at the Department of Health and Human Services, is taking a two-month leave of absence from his post, the department announced Wednesday, a day after he apologized for a conspiracy theory-laden rant he made against career government scientists in which he accused them of 'sedition' and working to undermine President Donald Trump."

"As Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden continues to maintain his national lead over President Donald Trump, some Senate Republicans have indicated that they're willing to work with Democrats if he wins the election." This should be one of those "not actually a story" story, but for some of these GOP Senators, this could be troublesome. Also note that this is only happening because they feel they're about to be "out of power" and can't stall working with the president because he will be white (unlike McConnell's refusal to work with President Obama). Also, more than likely they will also lose control of the Senate this Fall (or at least it's better than 50/50), so this is the only way they'd be able to get anything done. We aren't at the point of "we will never compromise on our values!" yet. And Graham's statement is aimed at wooing back some less hard core conservatives to his side (as he's neck-and-neck with his challenger), but he's forgotten that his supporters are all still on the "never compromise" tile.

"Attorney General William Barr argued Wednesday that coronavirus-related lockdown orders were surpassed only by slavery as the 'greatest intrusion on civil liberties' in the nation’s history." Just to make the point that Barr is completely unhinged. And about his comment regarding junior prosecutors, it's also true that large corporations that are micromanaged from the top are doomed to fail. This is why you have managers. Also, he's not interfering with low-level prosecutions, he's interfering with prosecutions that take whole offices and include senior prosecutors.

And talking about using the DoJ as a political tool… "Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Wednesday said a report that Attorney General William Barr suggested prosecutors consider filing charges against her is 'chilling and the latest abuse of power from the Trump administration.'… Barr, The New York Times reported, asked prosecutors in the Justice Department's civil rights division to investigate if they could charge Durkan as a result of protests this summer, when some protesters established a police-free zone in downtown Seattle."

"A televised town hall in Philadelphia exposed holes in the president’s explanation of basic facts about the coronavirus, health insurance and stock ownership in America. He fielded pointed questions from undecided voters in the swing state of Pennsylvania covering immigration reform, systemic racism, his attitudes toward the military and views on police officers’ treatment and use of unnecessary force. As top Trump aides watched from a control room, with ABC News determining the ground rules and participants, Trump dodged and blustered his way around pointed questions and fact-checks — skipping moment after moment that most politicians would have seized as slam-dunk opportunities to connect with voters’ everyday concerns."

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Linkee-poo late Wednesday

"Part of a bridge collapsed in Pensacola as 30 inches of rain and storm surge turned streets into white-capped rivers Wednesday morning after Hurricane Sally lurched ashore the Gulf Coast… Sally's strong winds battered Alabama and Florida as the center moved over the Panhandle by afternoon. In Pensacola, Florida, a section of the Pensacola Bay Bridge collapsed, and downtown was largely underwater." We're almost out of names for this hurricane season… and it's only September.

"Giant flares and eruptions from the sun can cause space weather, and stormy space weather can interfere with everything from satellites to the electrical grid to airplane communications. Now, though, there's good news for people who monitor the phenomenon — the sun has passed from one of its 11-year activity cycles into another, and scientists predict that the new cycle should be just about as calm as the last."

"Two of Antarctica's most important glaciers are breaking free from their restraints, a new study reports… This potentially has major consequences for rising sea levels around the world."

"More than 7,400 patients likely caught the coronavirus while seeking care for other conditions in U.S. hospitals between mid-May and mid-July, data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided The Wall Street Journal shows… The data, reported by half of U.S. hospitals to the CDC, indicates hospitals have struggled to prevent contagion within their walls, but experts don't want people to panic. Hospitals are still considered safe and seem to be improving at containing the virus, and the risk of becoming infected has remained low throughout the pandemic. Dr. Meghan Baker, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, told the Journal that avoiding hospitals out of fear of becoming infected with the virus is actually the 'bigger public health risk.'" Ta-da! And I guess relaxing standards of precautions is somehow "improving at containing the virus."

"Top Trump administration health officials testified Wednesday that a vaccine for COVID-19 is not likely to be widely available until next spring or summer, and that wearing a mask, in the words of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, remains 'the most important, powerful public health tool we have.'" Jazz hands.

"Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to push for in-person instruction across the Sunshine State. Even though his administration has released county-level data that indicates the 26% jump, it has not released school-level Covid-19 data for all K-12 public schools, which CNN began asking the state Department of Health for on August 31. On September 2 -- nearly two weeks ago -- state officials said by email the data would be released in the coming days and weeks… But still, the state hasn't provided this key information."

"British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted that the U.K. does not have enough testing capacity but said that the government was hoping that capacity will be up to 500,000 tests per day by the end of October." Just like in the US, adequate testing is coming Real Soon Now™.

"Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the coronavirus testing system, saying it is trying to meet a 'colossal spike' in demand." We didn't know there would be such a run on cake…

"Eight people in Indonesia who refused to wear masks in public were ordered by a local official to dig graves for COVID-19 victims." Yet here, we can't force you to wear a mask.

"Florida‘s Republican governor will end a Trump program to boost unemployment benefits to out-of-work Americans because the state’s bare-bones jobless program is too poor to continue qualifying for the federal boost."

"'We think about ourselves in terms of being on a certain rung with some people above us, and other people below us. Where we think we stand on that ladder tells you a lot about a person's life and their life outcomes'… This week on Hidden Brain, we explore the psychology of inequality."

"The Justice Department announced charges on Wednesday against five Chinese nationals in connection with the hacking of more than 100 American and foreign companies as well as of nonprofits and universities."

"Barbados wants to remove Britain's Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic, the Caribbean island nation's government has said, reviving a plan mooted several times in the past."

"In a stunning podcast released by the Department of Health and Human Services, two top officials at the department repeatedly downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic, railed against mitigation efforts, called closures of in-person schooling 'nonsense,' and said US journalists do not '[give] a damn about public health information.'"

"A sweeping congressional inquiry into the development and certification of Boeing's troubled 737 Max airplane finds damning evidence of failures at both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration that "played instrumental and causative roles" in two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people."

"GOP senators, during floor speeches and press conferences this week, are pointing to chatter that a Democratic-controlled Senate could nix the 60-vote filibuster to make their case to voters that the party has shifted too far to the left in the run up to the election." I wonder what it means when they were discussing nixing the filibuster just 4 years ago, or that they eliminated the filibuster for most appointments (especially judgeships).

"(Trump) recently renewed his promise to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood. He drew bipartisan praise for brokering an agreement that’s expected to boost Israel’s influence in the Middle East. And he released an updated list of Supreme Court nominees on Wednesday… But so far, President Donald Trump’s overtures to religious voters appear to be falling flat."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "That is why we are announcing our Commitment to America with three specific objectives: restore our way of life, rebuild the greatest economy in history, and renew the American dream." That's part of the problem, those aren't specifics. Those are generalities. There's no definition of those things, and there's no roadmap to achieve them. Also, they could have done all these things already. But conservatives just don't give a shit. "To restore our way of life, we will work to triple rapid testing nationwide, deliver a vaccine that is safe, effective, and available by the end of the year…" Even if you win back the majority, Rep. McCarthy, the new congress will not sit until after January. How the fuck will your new majority deliver that vaccine by the end of the year (and isn't this already in the works)?

Linkee-poo Wednesday Sept 16

Sorry, not able to read much this morning, so a short one for now.

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency fails to help tens of thousands of people whose homes have repeatedly flooded, according to a report by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security… A 2004 law requires FEMA to keep a list of homes that have repeatedly flooded, and prioritize those homes for federal assistance. But the new report finds that FEMA's list is rife with errors and that nothing has been done to reduce the flood risk for most of the nearly 38,000 homes on the list." Breaking government.

"First Oaxaca's state legislature passed a ban on selling or giving out high-calorie packaged foods and sugar-sweetened drinks to minors on Aug. 5. Less than two weeks later, Tabasco state approved a prohibition, too. Now at least a dozen other states are considering similar legislation." Now they need to make sure there are "healthy" alternatives available and affordable.

"In fact, Wards Intelligence, an automotive research and analytics firm, found that vehicle production in North America has returned nearly to pre-virus levels — a remarkable recovery… But staffing levels within most plants, according to Orbital Insight's data, have not fully recovered… One challenge is absenteeism — a word that might bring to mind people playing hooky, but which actually covers all the reasons someone might not show up for work… And during a pandemic, there are lots of reasons workers might not show up, from not having child care to waiting for a COVID-19 test result, or even being quarantined after a positive result." Again, the economic shock of COVID didn't create these fault lines in the economy, it's just exposing them.

"The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in 'sedition' in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election." Paranoia strikes deep… I would say this is someone in need of a "break", but I'm worried that's not the case here (or not entirely the case). Later news is Caputo is taking a "leave of absense." Governing is actually pretty hard and if you're not all that stable to begin with, the cracks appear quickly.

Such as… "Citing widely debunked claims of fraud around early voting, absentee balloting and voting by mail, (Roger) Stone told Jones Trump should consider invoking the Insurrection Act and arresting the Clintons, former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Zuckerberg, Tim Cook of Apple and 'anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity'."

And… "Michael Scheuer calls Black Lives Matter a 'terrorist organization' and a 'semi-human mob.' On his blog and his podcast, Scheuer rages against a widespread, treasonous conspiracy targeting not only President Trump but the fundamental character of the American republic. It deserves 'punishment... we’ve not seen before in this country.'"

"Six members of a post-Soviet security bloc led by Russia will hold joint military drills in Belarus from Oct. 12-16, the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday." That's, um, worrying.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday Sept 15

"Hurricane Sally is moving toward the Gulf Coast, threatening to bring possible historic flooding and "extreme life-threatening" flash flooding, according to forecasters… As of Tuesday morning, the storm was located about 65 miles east of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 105 miles south-southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. Maximum sustained winds were 85 mph, with stronger gusts. It was moving northwest at 2 mph."

"The mammoth wildfires torching much of three states have already claimed 36 lives. Now, friends and families worry about 22 people missing as infernos in rural Oregon make it too dangerous to search for them."

"President Donald Trump on Monday baselessly asserted that climate change is not playing a role in the catastrophic wildfires overtaking forests across the west, rebutting an official briefing him who pleaded for the President listen to the science… 'I don't think science knows, actually,' Trump said at a Monday briefing with officials in McClellan Park, California, with a laugh." Our stable-genius president, everybody.

"Wildfires blazed along the Arctic Circle this summer, incinerating tundra, blanketing Siberian cities in smoke and capping the second extraordinary fire season in a row. By the time the fire season waned at the end of last month, the blazes had emitted a record 244 megatonnes of carbon dioxide — that’s 35% more than last year, which also set records. One culprit, scientists say, could be peatlands that are burning as the top of the world melts."

"Scientists at North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, Russia, on Monday announced a finding of 'great importance' — a preserved Ice Age cave bear carcass, estimated to be to be between 22,000 and 39,500 years old."

"The type of pollution emitted by many chemical plants in Louisiana's industrial corridor is correlated with increased coronavirus deaths, according to new peer-reviewed research from SUNY and ProPublica." Not exactly shocking. Hazardous air pollution weakens the immune system and compromises the lungs.

"University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a report published Monday in the journal Cell. The antibody component is 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody and has been used to create a drug known as Ab8 for use as a therapeutic and preventative against SARS-CoV-2, the report says… The researchers reported that Ab8 is 'highly effective' in preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice and hamsters." This essentially is like the use of convalescent plasma, only this is manufactured not harvested. But just a reminder, there are many differences between rodent models and humans.

"Louisville's metro government is expected to announce a 'substantial' financial settlement Tuesday with the family of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman fatally shot by police in her apartment six months ago, The Courier Journal has learned… In addition to the payment, the deal is expected to include several policing reforms, including a requirement that commanders approve all search warrants before they go to a judge, the person told The Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network." You know, it would be cheaper to just get rid of the Nazis.

"'What she had around her neck was not a press credential. I think it said SCPR, that or KPCC,' (Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva) said. 'For the average deputy, doesn't mean anything. Unless it had a household name that they recognize, OK that's a reporter. You have two of their colleagues shot in the hospital, you have a crowd of protesters chanting for them to die. I think it's unrealistic to expect them to separate friend from foe and do it in a correct way. If they felt they were justified because she was interfering with a lawful arrest, well then the elements of the crime are met and they took action based on that. Could they have done it better? Everyone could have done better.'" Let me call bullshit right there. One, your deputies are not familiar with local media outlets? That's both a failure of training, observation, and community knowledge. It's "unrealistic to expect them to separate friend from foe and do it in a correct way" that is exactly your fucking job and if they can't do that, they shouldn't have the badge. And if you don't expect them to act professionally, you shouldn't be sheriff.

"Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost called for licensing police officers with tougher standards and accountability for their conduct during his annual law enforcement conference… The Attorney General also stressed the need for more funding for police training to help officers in Ohio better deal with the public while out on the job."

Remember when bar and restaurant owners said they couldn't bring back their employees because of the extra money they got on unemployment? "All of that, (AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez) said, 'means returning to our workplace,' according to the email viewed by CNBC. The company expects employees — even those who say they’ve been able to work from home just fine — to report to the office to foster creativity and innovation under its phased-in return-to-work plan, according to interviews with three current employees, anonymous complaints in public forums and internal company documents." While it's not exactly the same, as mostly it's telling people working remotely to return to the office, in principle it is the same.

How goes Brexit? "A key part of that deal is the agreement that Northern Ireland will continue to follow some EU rules even after Brexit happens. This is designed to prevent a hard border returning between Northern Ireland (which is in the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (which is in the EU)… But the latest bill would go against the withdrawal agreement - and therefore international law - by allowing UK ministers to 'disapply' previously agreed rules relating to Northern Ireland if there is no trade deal with the EU." That's an interesting way to say that UK leadership doesn't want to be bound to the deals they've already made… and mostly likely condemning Northern Ireland to a restart of "the Troubles."

"As the U.K. enters its fourth round of trade talks with the U.S. this week, Washington will be looking to push its own regulatory standards on the country, and drive it away from EU’s, an international trade policy expert has told CNBC." Here's the thing, if you want to sell into the EU, you have to meet their standards. Also, if the UK breaks the deal allowing a soft-border in Northern Ireland, it's not likely Congress will approve the trade deal anyway.

I'm still a little dubious about this story, but it's now being reported in more mainstream outlets… "Rights groups have filed a complaint against a migrant detention centre in the US, alleging medical neglect and a lack of Covid-19 safety measures… It is based on the allegations of a whistleblower, a nurse identified as Dawn Wooten… She worked at the centre, which houses immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)… As part of her complaint, filed on Monday, Ms Wooten expressed concerns about the high number of hysterectomies performed on Spanish-speaking women at the centre… The nurse said detained women told her they did not fully understand why they had to get a hysterectomy - an operation involving the removal of all or part of the uterus." Forced sterilizations are not unknown in the US, so this is more than possible. And the treatment of detainees, and especially ICE detainees is also not unheard of. But the story hits on all the prejudices all the things people might suspect and therefore falls into the trap of conformational bias. If these allegations are true, this is horrendous and people involved should go to jail over it (what's sad is it will mostly lead to fines and people losing licensure).

"The poisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny is to return to Russia, his spokeswoman has said… 'It's puzzling to me why anyone should think otherwise,' Kira Yarmysh posted on Twitter… Mr Navalny also posted a picture on Instagram for the first time since he was poisoned, announcing that he was breathing free of ventilation."

"Normalising relations with Israel 'can't be the answer' to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a Qatari official has said, adding that Doha will not join other Gulf Arab states in establishing diplomatic ties with Israel." You might remember we have military bases in Qatar and they have their own political fight going on with their Gulf neighbors.

"South Dakota's attorney general struck and killed a man while driving on Saturday night, a death that was discovered after he initially told police he had hit a deer, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety said Monday."