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

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Linkee-poo Sunday redux

There are some posts today grokked from various people I know. I've made a conscious decision to not point out who shared what. For posts that do not have the potential of blowback from those in power, I have included the names of those who shared.

"The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd were caught up in violence again on Saturday, as police all over the country tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with nonlethal rounds on journalists or people on their own property, and in at least one instance, pushed over an elderly man who was walking away with a cane. Here are some of the ways law enforcement officers escalated the national unrest."

"Police fired pepper spray at demonstrators near the White House and the D.C. National Guard was called in as pockets of violence and vandalism erupted during a second straight night of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and President Donald Trump’s response to it."

"Protests over the police killing of George Floyd, and the larger problem of racial prejudice in American criminal justice, spread across the country on Friday night and continued Saturday."

"Police are investigating after a video appeared to show a New York City Police Department truck plowing through a crowd during Saturday's protests over the death of George Floyd."

"John Cusack said he was targeted by police officers in Chicago and hit with pepper spray as protests raged across the county over the death of George Floyd."

"National security adviser Robert O’Brien on Sunday defended President Trump’s tweets labeling violent protesters as thugs and saying that looting leads to shooting amid demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, saying the president 'wants to de-escalate violence.'" The president's tweets actually threatened increased violence. Just how strong is this kool-aid they have?

This strong. "National security adviser Robert O'Brien on Sunday denied in an interview on CNN that systemic racism exists across the nation's police forces, arguing instead that 'a few bad apples' give the impression of racism among law enforcement officers."

"Hundreds of people protested in London and Berlin on Sunday in solidarity with demonstrations in the United States over the death of a black man shown on video gasping for breath as a white policeman knelt on his neck in Minneapolis." Funny, it looked like thousands to me.

"A SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon crew capsule, lifts off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Saturday, May 30, 2020."

"The city of Moscow has suddenly doubled its coronavirus death toll from last month… Media reports and analysts have questioned the accuracy of Russia's mortality figures for the virus." He's lying to you too, my Russian friends.

"United Airlines will cut 13 of its 67 senior-executive positions, the company said Friday… Eight of its executives will leave Oct. 1 and five openings will not be filled." I'm not an MBA, but if you can cut nearly 20% of your top-level executives without repercussions, that looks like bloat to me.

"Amazon.com Inc said it was removing certain images after messages using extremely strong racist abuse appeared on some listings on its UK website when users searched for Apple’s AirPods and other similar products."

"A divided Supreme Court on Friday rejected an emergency appeal by a California church that challenged state limits on attendance at worship services that have been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus."

"It is likely to be a preview of what's to come in the fall, and some worry whether the U.S. Postal Service is up to the challenge… A lot of people like the Postal Service; according to a recent Pew poll, 91% of Americans had a positive view, higher than any other branch of government. But it's an agency with some big problems."

"The rampage at a Virginia Beach city government building was the latest in a string of high-profile mass shootings nationwide, between the high school killings in Parkland, Florida, and the Walmart massacre in El Paso, Texas… As the tragedy nears its one-year anniversary Sunday, some victims’ family members feel it has effectively been forgotten after the national spotlight moved on to other mass killings, and more recently has been all but eclipsed by the coronavirus pandemic."

"President Donald Trump escalated his war on Twitter and other social media companies Thursday, signing an executive order challenging the lawsuit protections that have served as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet."

"Twitter’s decision this week to stand up to President Donald Trump by attaching warnings to some of his many tweets has been years in the making, a culmination of American divisions playing out and being amplified across social media. It is fueled by some of the very elements that make modern American discourse so polarized, so fast-moving and — at the oddest of historical moments — so fragmented."

"Yet Goldman and other experts interviewed for this story say the most likely outcome of a repeal of Section 230 is one that neither the left nor the right want to see: more censorship by major tech companies and potentially paralyzing other websites."

"More people are more online right now than at any point in human history, and experts say the Internet has gotten only more flooded since 2016 with bad information."

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Linkee-poo Weekend

"Implying that organized outsiders, perhaps including anarchists, white supremacists and drug cartel agents from outside Minnesota, were contributing to the chaos, Walz said, 'The sheer number of rioters has made it impossible to make coherent arrests. ... The capacity to be able to do offensive action was greatly diminished' by the sheer scope and seemingly organized nature of the assaults… 'The terrifying thing is that this resembles more a military operation now as you observe ringleaders moving from place to place,' he said."

"Shots were fired at law enforcement officers in Minneapolis early Saturday morning near the police department's Fifth Precinct, according to Minnesota State Police. No officers are believed to have been hit."

"Minnesota's governor has fully mobilized the state's National Guard, and the Pentagon has put military police on alert to go to Minneapolis. The units are on notice to return to their bases within 30 minutes, which is the last alert stage before actually receiving an order, CBS News' David Martin reports."

"Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Friday evening denounced vandalism in her city as 'chaos' after demonstrations over the death of George Floyd while in in the custody of Minneapolis police turned violent."

"SpaceX had just conducted yet another static fire test of the Raptor engine in its Starship SN4 prototype launch vehicle on Friday when the test vehicle exploded on the test stand in Boca Chica, Texas. This was the fourth static fire test of this engine on this prototype, so it's unclear what went wrong versus other static fire attempts."

"Making America great again just wasn’t enough. 'President Trump is making space great again,' the Republican National Committee declared this week… Donald Trump returns to Cape Canaveral in Florida on Saturday to witness the rescheduled launch of a SpaceX rocket carrying Nasa astronauts that was delayed by weather three days earlier." Eye-roll.

"The Ohio Department of Health is now estimating a January onset of coronavirus symptoms for at least 13 cases in eight counties, evidence that the virus arrived earlier and more widely than originally could be confirmed." Ta-da!

"The warning about singing was part of new guidance for leaders of faith-based organizations that the CDC posted to its website last Friday. But the guidance disappeared over the weekend, apparently because the White House had not approved it."

"On March 15, Lin shared on Facebook the text of a letter he had sent to the hospital's chief medical officer, pointing out the infection risks of how the hospital was testing for the coronavirus, and suggesting changes he thought the hospital should make, including checking the temperature of staff at the beginning of shifts and triaging patients outside the emergency room, in the parking lot." And then they fired him. Hospital management is where business consulting ideas go to die.

"This weekend, such temporary pay bumps are ending at companies including Amazon and Molson Coors. They already ended at Rite Aid and Kroger. Some companies, like Walmart and CVS, paid one-time bonuses instead. Some had no hazard pay altogether. Target and Kraft Heinz told NPR they're extending their temporary extra pay a bit longer… Meanwhile, particularly at stores, new hazards arise, as workers who signed up to stock shelves and run registers take on new roles as enforcers of social distancing and mask wearing. For many, their pay — for being essential, with hazard pay — is lower than what the federal government is paying in unemployment relief."

"Two U.S. senators are expected to introduce next week sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that Russia is trying to finish, but which Washington has opposed since the Obama era, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) panned President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO), calling the move 'senseless.'"

"A German government spokesman has confirmed that Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend an in-person summit of world leaders that President Donald Trump has suggested he will host in the United States despite concerns over the coronavirus."

"The history behind 'When the looting starts, the shooting starts'." Racist president says what now?

"Taylor Swift lashed out at President Donald Trump on Friday for his late-night tweet threatening violence against protesters in Minnesota, tweeting that the President has been 'stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism (his) entire presidency.'"

"In an effort to keep voters safe, states of all political complexions are finding ways to expand access to mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic… Then there's Texas."

"White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany thought she had scored a direct hit on the media's credibility during Thursday's press briefing."

"Incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn told Russia’s ambassador to Washington in late 2016 to take 'reciprocal' actions in response to Obama administration sanctions for election interference, rather than escalating the situation into a 'tit for tat.'" Flynn testified he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak before the inauguration. Also, with all of the transcripts, several people in the known see Kislyak grooming Flynn and Flynn responding in a way that indicates he was cooperating. Kislyak, besides being the Russian ambassador to the US, was also considered the main Russian spymaster and recruiter in the US. Kislyak was also granted a private tour of the White House by president Trump less than a week after the inauguration.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday

OMG this has been a week.

"Protesters clashed with riot police firing tear gas for a second night in Minneapolis on Wednesday in an outpouring of rage over the death of a black man seen in a widely circulated video gasping for breath as a white officer knelt on his neck." Amazing how the difference in police response to protests, such as this one versus the Michigan "stay-at-home" protesters who stormed the capital heavily armed, leads to different outcomes. In other words, the police escalated the violence in Minneapolis which lead to rioting and looting.

"A CNN crew was arrested while giving a live television report Friday morning in Minneapolis -- and then released about an hour later -- as the crew covered ongoing protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd." Yet they allowed another CNN reporter, not on camera, to remain. Let's see if you can spot the difference.

There are reports of police officers acting as agents provocateur in Minneapolis, but I can't find a reliable report, although the police have denied it was their officer.

"President Trump said he will 'send in the National Guard' to restore order to Minneapolis, which has been wracked by protests and looting following the death of George Floyd, a black man, after he was pinned to the ground for several minutes by a white police officer. 'When the looting starts, the shooting starts,' Trump said, prompting Twitter to hide the message for, in its view, 'glorifying violence.'" Funny how there's no fact check stating the president doesn't have the power (in this case) to mobilize the National Guard. That's still in the hands of the governor.

"When police stopped a Texas man for an alleged traffic violation, the confrontation turned tense, videos of the incident show… What happened next left a family shaken, a young man on the ground and his grandma attempting to intervene in the tense confrontation that followed." He was not charged with the supposed traffic violation, but "was charged with evading in a motor vehicle while police were attempting to detain him, according to a statement from Midland police."

"Outcry over the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor reached a boiling point overnight Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky, when gunfire erupted during protests and audio was released of Taylor's boyfriend's call to 911 the day of her death… Seven people were shot downtown, the mayor said in a video message on Twitter. Property damage also was reported after peaceful demonstrations took a turn, Louisville Metro Police Department officials said during a news conference."

"Stormy weather across Florida's Space Coast forced SpaceX to call off the long-awaited launch of two astronauts aboard the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft, the first piloted flight to orbit from U.S. soil in nearly nine years… The company plans to make another attempt Saturday, at 3:22:45 p.m. EDT, the next opportunity for a launch into the plane of the International Space Station's orbit with the proper conditions for a rendezvous and docking."

"When a woman told a wildlife official she thought she'd seen a wolverine on the beach of Washington state's Long Beach Peninsula they didn't believe her." I remember trying to tell some park rangers that I saw two golden-eagles eating carrion on the road and they told me they must have been turkey vultures. Awful lot of feathers on their heads to be vultures. Then I told rangers in Denali that I had found a wolf print close to the visitors center and they said it must be a coyote because wolves don't come in that close and have much bigger feet. Then I showed them the photo I took, "Well, it's probably a very large coyote…" Or, ya know, it was the right size for a wolf.

"(Scientists have) identified features on the seafloor that indicate the ice edge was reversing at rates of up to 50m a day at the end of the last ice age… That's roughly 10 times faster than what's observed by satellites today."

"Rising temperatures, deforestation, development and climate-induced disasters are transforming the very makeup of the Earth's forests, new research published in the journal Science finds… Older, bigger trees — stalwarts in their respective ecosystems — are being lost at an alarming rate, making the planet's collective forests shorter and younger."

"For untold millennia, screwworms were a grisly fact of life in the Americas. In the 1950s, however, U.S. ranchers began to envision a new status quo. They dared to dream of an entire country free of screwworms. At their urging, the United States Department of Agriculture undertook what would ultimately become an immense, multidecade effort to wipe out the screwworms, first in the U.S. and then in Mexico and Central America—all the way down to the narrow strip of land that is the Isthmus of Panama. The eradication was a resounding success. But the story does not end there. Containing a disease is one thing. Keeping it contained is another thing entirely, as the coronavirus pandemic is now so dramatically demonstrating."

"It has become a political and cultural flashpoint, drawing a clear divide between the 'masked' and the 'masked-nots.' The disdain runs between the consciously unmasked president of the United States and his deliberately mask-donning Democratic rival, all the way on down to those crossing paths — and often crossing each other — in the cereal aisle of the grocery store." Wear the goddamn mask.

"Blue, turquoise, and white crosses mark the dead in mass graves in Manaus, Brazil, a visual reminder of the toll the novel coronavirus has had on the country… Brazil now has the second-most COVID-19 cases in the world, just behind the US."

"More than 500 schools closed again Friday to students after briefly reopening, as South Korea moves to stamp out a resurgence of the coronavirus in the capital, Seoul, and its surrounding metropolitan area."

"Mounting evidence suggests the coronavirus is more common and less deadly than it first appeared… The evidence comes from tests that detect antibodies to the coronavirus in a person's blood rather than the virus itself." It's still at least 4x as deadly as the annual flu. Also note, we don't test for antibodies to the annual flu.

"The number of US servicemen and women killed in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan - over an aggregate 44 years of fighting - is almost exactly the same as the number of Americans who've now lost their lives to coronavirus in just three months of America's war against the hidden enemy, as Donald Trump likes to refer to Covid-19."

"The chief executive of AstraZeneca, which is developing a leading coronavirus vaccine with Oxford University, said it is too early to deliberately expose trial participants to the pathogen, but it may become an option if ongoing tests hit a snag." Can't make omelets without breaking some eggs, amIright?

"President Donald Trump expressed his condolences Thursday morning to the American victims of the coronavirus pandemic, a day after the US officially reached 100,000 dead and amid a morning tweetstorm in which he tweeted and retweeted political insults and criticisms." Gee, that only took (checks watch) three months.

The White House claims the president ordered the flags at the White House lowered to half-staff to honor those who have succumbed to the coronavirus. The flags were lowered last weekend… over Memorial Day. A weekend where it's traditional to lower the flag to half-staff.

"On Friday, the Justice Department will try to come after the Bundys again, when federal prosecutors will appeal for a retrial over a 2014 armed standoff between Bundy, his militia and federal agents who had come to round up the rancher's cows that were illegally grazing on federal land."

Ah those good ol' boys of Duck Dynasty, the bedrock of Christian conservatism. "Phil Robertson and his children Al, Jase, Jep and Willie revealed during the Unashamed podcast on Thursday that the family recently discovered the deeply religious patriarch has an adult daughter… Phil has previously admitted to being a philander prior to finding Jesus, however, it appears his daughter was conceived just before he devoted himself to the church." Nobody goes to Jesus on prom night.

"The Justice Department accused more than two dozen North Korean and Chinese individuals with operating an illegal global financial network to aid Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile program in violation of U.S. sanctions."

"Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he stands by the company’s decision to fact-check two tweets by President Trump, even as it has attracted intense criticism by Trump and his allies." After many years of users asking for twitter to enforce their TOS on the president, they finally make a small move. The president over reacts, exactly how we all thought he would.

"President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order aimed at social media companies Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Wednesday evening, a move that comes as the president and his allies have escalated their allegations that companies like Twitter and Facebook stifle GOP voices." Aww, somebody's liddle fewllings are hurt.

Full text of the executive order. I guess having Administrator Pei loosen restrictions on ISP and internet content providers wasn't a good thing, then. So, in the name of Free Speech the government (the organization actually prohibited by the 1st amendment to censor content) is, by executive order, prohibiting commercial entities the free exercise of their political speech. Do I have that correct?

"Supermarket customers are paying more for beef than they have in decades during the coronavirus pandemic. But at the same time, the companies that process the meat for sale are paying farmers and ranchers staggeringly low prices for cattle… Now, the Agriculture Department and prosecutors are investigating whether the meatpacking industry is fixing or manipulating prices."

"First-time jobless claims totaled 2.1 million last week, slightly ahead of the 2.05 million Wall Street estimate… Continuing claims, or those who have been collecting for at least two weeks, numbered 21.05 million, a clearer picture of how many workers are still sidelined. That number dropped sharply, falling 3.86 million from the previous week." Hunting the silver lining.

"Consumer spending in the U.S. fell 13.6% in April, the government reported Friday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a 13% decrease, compared with an original estimate of 7.5% decline in March. On Friday the Commerce Department revised consumer spending in March to an decrease of 6.9%. Meanwhile, personal income rose 10.5% in April, boosted by government payments."

"The two-year trade war between the US and China has slashed $1.7 trillion from American companies' market cap, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said in a Thursday report."

"Brazilian police have raided addresses linked to some of Jair Bolsonaro’s most ardent online cheerleaders as part of an investigation into a fake news network investigators reportedly suspect could be linked to the president’s son." Okay, that's interesting.

"President Donald Trump said 'it is time' for all U.S. service members to exit Afghanistan, undermining his administration's agreement with the Taliban that stipulates any withdrawal below 8,600 troops be based on conditions on the ground." He doesn't care, he desperately needs a "win." Also, "'We are acting as a police force, not the fighting force that we are, in Afghanistan,' the president tweeted on Wednesday. 'After 19 years, it is time for them to police their own Country.'" They can't police the US, by law. The president is a moron.

"As President Donald Trump attacks the legitimacy of elections with increased mail-in voting, his campaign is trying to make it easier for supporters in Pennsylvania to request mail-in ballots for next week's primary there." Some are more equal than others.

"Attorney General William Barr has appointed a U.S. attorney to scrutinize episodes of the intelligence practice known as 'unmasking' that took place 'before and after' the 2016 election as part of the Justice Department’s broader review of the Russia investigation, department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec announced Wednesday." We've already been through this. And Barr is a tool. It's how he got the job.

"A little more than three months ago, as Democrats cast their ballots in the Nevada caucuses, Republicans felt confident about their chances in 2020. The coronavirus seemed a distant, far-off threat. Democrats appeared poised to nominate a self-described socialist for president. The stock market was near a record high. The economy was roaring. President Donald Trump looked well-positioned to win a second term, and perhaps pull enough incumbent Republicans along with him to hold the party's majority in the Senate… Today, that view has drastically changed." Just wait until the stock market wakes up from its bender and realizes the economy isn't going to come roaring back.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Linkee-poo OMG it's Wednesday

New skin biopsy this morning. Weee. Also, because of car trouble don't expect a post Thursday and possibly Friday. Yes, who knew car trouble could affect things on the internet (well, it's because of travel time). This year just gets better and better.

Forgot to mention, "When it comes to watching SpaceX's historic first astronaut launch for NASA on Wednesday (May 27), to say 'you have options' would be an understatement. Since NASA has asked the public to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many ways to watch it on TV, cable news and — of course — online."

"Huge swarms of desert locusts are destroying crops across western and central India, prompting authorities to step up their response to the country's worst plague in nearly three decades." This is a year of Biblical proportions.

"Less than 24 hours later, the (Brazilian Health) ministry watered down its own advice, citing 'criticism and suggestions' it had received from local communities… In fact, four people familiar with the incident told Reuters, the change came after intervention from the chief of staff’s office for Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro." How's that working out for you, Brazil? "Brazil now has the world’s second-worst outbreak behind the United States, with more than 374,000 confirmed cases." Well done.

"The French health ministry is banning the use of hydroxychloroquine as a cure to coronavirus, according to a decree published Wednesday morning." We're still hemming and hawing.

"A junior minister in Boris Johnson's government resigned on Tuesday over top aide Dominic Cummings' alleged breach of the U.K.'s lockdown guidelines, saying he could not 'in good faith' tell his constituents that the advisers' actions were justifiable." Well, someone had to fall open that sword.

"Although streets across Chicago have been mostly empty during the pandemic, pest control experts are now noticing rats are out in full force. With bars and restaurants empty, rats are being spotted in residential areas, including homes, yards, and even cars." Well, it is an election year.

"EU unveils plan to borrow 750 billion euros to aid economic recovery."

"China's top military commander in Hong Kong has emphasized the role of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in upholding "national sovereignty" in the city a day ahead of expected anti-government protests." I'm sure that will turn out well.

"President Donald Trump has threatened to 'strongly regulate' or close down social media platforms if they curb the speech of conservative users… The commander-in-chief said on Wednesday morning that his administration would consider the measures if the tech platforms were to 'totally silence conservative voices.'" All because Twitter dare fact check him.

"The simple act of wearing a mask to protect others during a pandemic is now a political and cultural flashpoint, underscoring the polarization afflicting every corner of American life." Wear the fucking mask.

"Thousands of protesters demanding justice for 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, gathered at the intersection where Floyd was restrained and marched to a city police precinct before clashing with officers late Tuesday." And unlike the armed yelling white people who stormed state capitals, the police this time responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. At least in this case the officers have been fired (except the police union to file a grievance).

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday on a Tuesday

"As parts of the US have lifted shutdown orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, there's been a fierce argument online about the risks and benefits of reopening. New research suggests that bots have been dominating that debate… Carnegie Mellon University researchers analyzed over 200 million tweets discussing COVID-19 and related issues since January and found that roughly half the accounts — including 62% of the 1,000 most influential retweeters — appeared to be bots, they said in a report published this week." Do you really want to listen to what Skynet tells you to do? (Grokked from Anne Wheaton)

"Packing beaches, pool parties and outdoor gatherings all over the US, many Americans used the holiday weekend to mark the unofficial beginning of summer -- ditching the face masks and social distancing urged by health officials." This is how we die.

"People across the country attempted to kick off summer this holiday weekend, as beaches, parks and bars began to reopen while following social distancing guidelines with varying degrees of success." Stupid is as stupid does, sir.

"And there's no such thing as a zero-risk outing right now. As states begin allowing businesses and public areas to reopen, decisions about what's safe will be up to individuals. It can help to think through the risks the way the experts do."

"Countries where coronavirus infections are declining could still face an 'immediate second peak' if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak, the World Health Organization said on Monday." Ta-da! Well, immediate as in 10-14 days later.

What does it matter if people don't have science classes? "In the scientific world, it’s expected that even the highest-ranking academics will evolve their thinking — and many have done so during this Covid-19 pandemic… But some scientists fear that the public doesn’t understand this, and is losing faith in scientists who change their minds. And that’s having real consequences on the front lines." Add in the intentional misinformation campaigns and it creates a potent stew of mistrust.

"U.S. small firms leave $150 billion in coronavirus stimulus untapped." How's that outsourcing plan going?

"Relations between the U.S. and China — the world’s top two economies — look set to worsen, and the endgame is a 'lose-lose' situation for both sides, said a political science professor from Harvard University." Fancy that.

"A white woman has apologized for calling police on a black man bird-watching in Central Park on Monday morning after the two argued about her unleashed dog." She says she didn't mean to threaten the man asking her to put her dog on the leash. Yeah, sure, Amy. We believe you (side-eye).

"A video taken by an onlooker Monday evening shows a Minneapolis police officer keeping his knee on the neck of a motionless, moaning man at the foot of a squad car. The man later died."

"S. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family of Ahmaud Arbery, told CNN on Monday that the US Department of Justice is investigating the shooting death as a hate crime." Gee, ya think?

"The widower of a woman whose 2001 death has become fodder for baseless conspiracy theories spread by President Donald Trump is appealing directly to the head of Twitter to take down the president‘s tweets." Hey Jack, time to start enforcing the TOS when it comes to the political elite. But then, that would betray your politics, wouldn't it.

"President Donald Trump on Monday shared a tweet mocking his presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential challenger, Joe Biden, for wearing a face mask at a public Memorial Day appearance."

"President Trump’s struggles to stand still during a Memorial Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery lit up social media Monday, prompting users to recall past incidents in which the commander in chief, who turns 74 next month, battled to find a balance." Never mind the asshole salutes during the National Anthem. You're not in uniform, Sparky. Hand over heart.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Linkee-poo Memorial Day short version

"Intrigued, he and two colleagues set out to study these strange moss balls. In the journal Polar Biology, they report that the balls can persist for years and move around in a coordinated, herdlike fashion that the researchers can not yet explain."

On the positive side, there's now evidence that contracting and fighting off COVID-19 conveys immunity. Now, for how long that lasts…

"Nearly two weeks ago the White House urged governors to ensure that every nursing home resident and staff member be tested for the coronavirus within 14 days… It’s not going to happen." This is my shocked face.

"North Carolina has reported its highest one-day spike in new COVID-19 cases, a development that comes a day after the state entered its second phase of reopening… In a statement on Saturday, the state's Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,107 infections — around 250 more cases than the state's last highest daily tally." You have to read down a bit to find out NC entered Phase 1 reopening two weeks ago. You know, 14 days. Average incubation time.

"President Trump is visiting one of his golf courses this weekend, his first apparent golf outing since declaring a state of emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic… On Saturday, the president visited the Trump National Golf Club located just outside Washington, D.C., in Northern Virginia. His last visit to a course was on March 8 to his West Palm Beach club in Florida, days before he declared a national emergency." Okay, everybody can relax now. The president is able to golf again.

"Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday he wouldn’t fire his chief aide for allegedly violating the national lockdown rules that he helped to create by driving the length of England to his parents’ house while he was infected with the coronavirus." Sure. Rules for everyone else, but not for the rule makers.

"Hong Kong police fired tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons as thousands of protesters rallied against proposed security measures aimed at tightening Beijing's grip on the semi-autonomous territory." Who could have seen this coming?

"A Florida law requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the vote is unconstitutional for those unable to pay, or unable to find out how much they owe, a federal judge ruled Sunday."

"President Donald Trump began a solemn Memorial Day railing against North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, ahead of the 2020 Republican National Convention, threatening to pull it out of Charlotte, where the convention is expected to be held August 24 to 27… Trump contended that Cooper is 'unable to guarantee' that the arena can be filled to capacity." Trump is going to take his little red ball and go home if he can get the adulation he feels he deserves. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Friday, May 22, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday Late Edition

"SpaceX will make history with NASA astronaut launch next week. But will it draw crowds to Florida?"

"NASA’s troubled space telescope, WFIRST, has been renamed the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope in honour of NASA’s former chief of astronomy."

"The eastern Indian city of Kolkata has been devastated by a powerful cyclone which has killed at least 84 people across India and Bangladesh."

"The giant tectonic plate under the Indian Ocean is going through a rocky breakup … with itself… In a short time (geologically speaking) this plate will split in two, a new study finds."

"With traffic dramatically down in recent months, the United States is in the middle of an accidental experiment showing what happens to air pollution when millions of people stop driving… The air is clearer. But the pollution declines aren't nearly as large as early indications suggested, according to an NPR analysis of six years of Environmental Protection Agency data."

"According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, the vibrant color is caused by microscopic algae blooming across the surface of the snow. Using satellite data and fieldwork observations, a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey have created the first large-scale map of the green algae and predicted the future spread of the bizarre snow." Wow, they didn't mention how algal blooms on snow darkens the mass, which then traps more heat, which then increase snowmelt.

"Last month the White House issued guidelines suggesting a way to reduce the number of false positive results in antibody tests: Run two tests. But that strategy has not yet been validated for coronavirus testing. And the details matter."

"In new guidance for mathematical modelers and public health officials, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is estimating that about a third of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic… The CDC also says its 'best estimate' is that 0.4% of people who show symptoms and have Covid-19 will die, and the agency estimates that 40% of coronavirus transmission is occurring before people feel sick." Really? So then why does it look more like 3 to 4% in almost every country's statistics? Although 0.4% is still 4x as many as the seasonal flu.

"Meat processing plants across the country are struggling with outbreaks of the coronavirus. That includes the Tyson Foods chicken processing facility in Wilkes County, N.C.… More than 2,200 workers were tested at the Wilkesboro plant and 570 were positive for the coronavirus. Tyson said a majority of the workers who had the virus didn't show any symptoms."

"Two-thirds of Americans do not expect their daily lives to return to normal for at least six months, and as states reopen, three-quarters are concerned that a second wave of coronavirus cases will emerge, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds." Americans, always optimistic.

"Essential workers are losing their hazard pay even though the hazard isn’t over… Kroger and other companies provided 'hero pay' to employees as the pandemic ratcheted up the risk to their safety. For many, it will end this month." The worm is turning (back to normal). Hey Congress, instead of Hero Pay hows abouts y'all increase the minimum wage to like $15-$20/hr and then track increases to inflation? How about using this crisis to highlight exactly where the strength and wealth of this country really belongs and then reward those workers? How about we change the system to be more equitable? How about we change how health insurance is provided and expand it to everybody so that no-one should have to chose between work and living. While the vision is still clear as to how shit really gets done, how about we do those things.

"The coronavirus has taken a hatchet to municipal budgets everywhere, forcing cities and towns to lay off librarians, parks workers and even first responders like police and firefighters… From big cities like Detroit to small towns like Ogdensburg, N.Y., workers are being furloughed, programs are being cut and major capital projects are being shelved."

"More facilities in Texas, including gyms, childcare centers, youth clubs and personal care centers, were reopened on Monday. Bars, aquariums and bowling alleys will resume service from Friday… On Saturday, Texas recorded its highest single-day rise in cases since the outbreak began. In an interview Monday with CNN's New Day program, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the record spike was likely to be connected to recent reopenings, as well as increased testing across the state." Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

"President Donald Trump on Thursday said 'we are not closing our country' if the U.S. is hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections… 'People say that’s a very distinct possibility, it’s standard,' Trump said when asked about a second wave during a tour of a Ford factory in Michigan." The president is willing to have you die for his economy. On a better note, the president doesn't have dick to say about this as he didn't close or open the economy this time either, the governors did.

"Another week, another grisly job reports for the US. The data is still streaming in, but it’s time to start calling this what it is—a global economic depression." Ta-da!

"The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is falling on poorer Americans, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday… 'And while the burden is widespread, it has not been evenly spread,' Powell said… 'Those taking the brunt of the fallout are those least able to bear it.'" I would maker a Capt. Obvious joke, but I really think people in power need to hear that story told many more times.

"A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday reached agreement on a bill that would ease restrictions on emergency small business loans that are designed to curb massive layoffs during the Covid-19 pandemic."

"The man who filmed the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery has been arrested on felony murder charges, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation… William 'Roddie' Bryan Jr., 50, was arrested Thursday and will be booked into the Glynn County Jail, the bureau announced. GBI Director Vic Reynolds said earlier in the month the department was investigating Bryan, while Kevin Gough, the man's attorney, had previously called on the GBI to clear his client's name." Good. Just a reminder he released the video believing it exonerated his friends, Gregory and Travis McMichael.

"China will move to pass a hugely controversial national security law for Hong Kong, in what could be the biggest blow to the city's autonomy and civil liberties since its handover to Chinese rule in 1997… The move by China's rubber stamp parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), which is meeting in Beijing this week, is sure to fuel further anger and protests in the city, which was rocked by over six months of increasingly violent anti-government unrest last year." Well that's a nice looking rabbit hole they've got there.

"Norma McCorvey, known as Jane Roe in the US Supreme Court's decision on Roe v Wade, shocked the country in 1995 when she came out against abortion… But in new footage, McCorvey alleges she was paid to switch sides." Ah, those principled conservatives.

"The Trump administration is asking local Planned Parenthood affiliates around the U.S. to return millions of dollars in loans received through the federal government's coronavirus relief package." Because of course they are.

"Congressional Democrats have accused U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of trying to reroute hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The coronavirus rescue package, known as the CARES Act, included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs." Because of course she did.

They burn churches, don't they? "The fire Wednesday in Holly Springs destroyed the First Pentecostal Church, and investigators found graffiti in the church parking lot that reads, 'Bet you stay home now you hypokrits,' NBC affiliate WMC of Memphis reported." Yeah, that intentional misspelling feels fake.

"In the statement, posted on Friday, Salah Khashoggi said his family pardons those who took the reporter's life in 2018 when he visited Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul… Under Islamic law, death sentences in Saudi Arabia can be commuted if the victim's family pardons the perpetrator, but it is not clear whether that will happen in this case." Well I bet MBS sleeps a little better now. Good thing he doesn't have the power to intimidate and threaten the Khashoggi family into a political act of… wait a second.

"President Donald Trump confirmed the US will be exiting the Open Skies Treaty, a pact designed to reduce the risk of military miscalculations that could lead to war, and said Russia's actions had prompted him to take the decision." Oh FFS.

"The Trump administration failed to turn over hundreds of emails and other internal documents before going to trial over the now-blocked census citizenship question — and a federal judge says it has to pay for it… U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of New York — the first judge to block the administration's plans to include the question last year because of its 'sham justification' — is now ordering the administration to cover the attorney's fees and other costs related to a legal dispute over the previously undisclosed documents."

"Michigan's attorney general sent a warning to Ford for allowing President Donald Trump to refuse to wear a mask in front of cameras during his visit Thursday to a manufacturing plant." Ooo, it's a pissing war now.

"In a statement later that day to The Miami Herald, DeSantis' communications director, Helen Aguirre Ferré, said, 'Rebekah Jones exhibited a repeated course of insubordination during her time with the department, including her unilateral decisions to modify the Department's COVID-19 dashboard without input or approval from the epidemiological team or her supervisors.'" Uh huh, sure. Say, would you be interested in buying any of these turnips? But they're going to try and smear her as much as they can, because they think she's disposable.

"The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to subpoena documents and depositions from Blue Star Strategies, a consulting company that worked with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma when Hunter Biden served on its board… Democrats on the committee said Republicans were chasing conspiracy theories and bolstering Russian disinformation efforts by using their power to investigate the Biden family instead of the government response to the coronavirus pandemic, which falls under the committee's jurisdiction." These circuses would be much more fun if the bread was better.

And as a surprise to no one… "A Trump election conspiracy theory fell apart Wednesday when Florida’s law enforcement agency said it had found no widespread voter fraud in the 2018 races for Senate and governor… President Donald Trump had complained repeatedly about election 'fraud' and theft in heavily populated, Democrat-rich Broward and Palm Beach counties, which had slowly but erratically updated their vote totals after polls closed on Election Day."

Prison reform? "Michael Cohen is just the latest well-connected federal prisoner to be sent home early because of the coronavirus, even though he has served only a third of his sentence — well shy of the 50 percent threshold federal officials often cite in denying requests for early release. By contrast, prisoners like Eddie Brown, an Oklahoma man who has served a bigger portion of his sentence than Cohen and also cites health problems, remain behind bars, raising questions about the Bureau of Prisons' opaque process and its fairness." Not so much.

"A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic… The IHS told ProPublica it has found that 247,000 of the masks delivered by Fuentes’ company — at a cost of roughly $800,000 — may be unsuitable for medical use. An additional 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the type specified in the procurement data, the agency said." (Grokked from Michele)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Linkee-poo if you want to fill a bottle up with lighting, you gotta stand in the rain

A zoomable map of 11th-12th century trade routes for Europe, Northern Africa, Middle-East, and Asia. (Grokked from S.A. Chakraborty I think)

"'Showing up is the act of bearing witness to people's joy, pain and true selves,' Rachel Wilkerson Miller writes in the first chapter of her new book The Art of Showing Up: How to Be There For Yourself and Your People. '[It's] validating their experiences, easing their load, and communicating that they are not alone in this life.'… Miller walks us through the do's and don'ts of showing up for your people."

"The coronavirus pandemic has forced countries around the world to enact strict lockdowns, seal borders and scale back economic activities. Now, an analysis published Tuesday finds that these measures contributed to an estimated 17 percent decline in daily global carbon dioxide emissions compared to daily global averages from 2019." That's with most of us staying home, not buying things, not traveling, basically cutting everything that the corporatists tell us we should cut because it's a consumer problem, not a manufacturing/supplier problem. Seventeen percent is nothing to sneeze at, but it shows you just how much of this is the consumers' actions and how much is industry and fossil fuels.

"A rain-swollen river has flooded fields and streets in parts of mid-Michigan after breaching two dams, forcing evacuation orders for thousands amid a coronavirus pandemic that's posing safety challenges Wednesday for officials trying to provide shelter." Stay safe my Michigan friends.

"Cyclone evacuation efforts in India and Bangladesh are being complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, as relief teams grapple with how to get millions of people to safety while also protecting them against the risk of Covid-19."

"Astronomers believe they may have found the first direct evidence of a new planet being born… A dense disc of dust and gas has been spotted surrounding a young star called AB Aurigae, about 520 light years away from Earth."

"NASA's head of human spaceflight has abruptly resigned just one week before a historic test flight to send astronauts up in a new space capsule developed by the rocket company SpaceX." Insert dramatic music here.

"A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that a salvage firm can retrieve the Marconi wireless telegraph machine that broadcast distress calls from the sinking Titanic… The order is a big win for RMS Titanic, the court-recognized salvor, or steward, of artifacts from the doomed ocean liner." Eye-roll. This isn't about contributing "to the legacy", but about voyeurism and selling tickets to see it (or selling it to the highest bidder).

"'Captain Tom' Moore, the war veteran who raised almost £33 million ($40 million) for the UK's National Health Service (NHS) by taking laps of his backyard, is to receive a knighthood after a special nomination from Prime Minister Boris Johnson."

"The President, who has consistently tested negative for coronavirus, appeared to suggest he was taking the drug as a way to prevent getting infected, something he claimed frontline health workers are doing as well… 'You look at doctors and nurses. A lot of them are taking it as a preventative,' Trump said." Narrators voice, no they aren't.

"The CDC now says that COVID-19 spreads from person to person contact, and then lists touching infected surfaces under a section titled, 'The virus does not spread easily in other ways.' The CDC adds: 'This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.' The language is a subtle change from the organization’s warning in early March, when it wrote simply that it 'may be possible' to spread the virus through contaminated surfaces." Keep washing your hands.

"Florida and Georgia, two states that were among the first to announce the reopening of businesses and public spaces amid the health crisis, have come under scrutiny for their reporting on Covid-19 cases.">Georgia actually shuffled the dates in a chart to be on-linear to show infections going down. Does anyone think any of these statistics are actually good?

"Rebekah Jones, an official at the Florida Department of Health who oversaw the state's public COVID-19 'dashboard,' has been removed from managing the data and cautioned that the decision could negatively impact transparency about infections."

"The scientist who created Florida's COVID-19 data portal wasn't just removed from her position on May 5, she was fired on Monday by the Department of Health, she said, for refusing to manipulate data."

"A man who initially said he believed the coronavirus was a 'fake crisis' that was 'blown out of proportion' is now hospitalized with the virus, along with his wife, and has a warning for others." It's all fun and games until it's your throat their shoving the endotracheal tube into (or a loved one, I'm glad he thinks his wife forgives him).

"In interviews with CNN, CDC officials say their agency's efforts to mount a coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science."

"As the coronavirus outbreak eases in Western Europe and parts of the U.S., cases are rising steadily in Russia in a crisis that has damaged President Vladimir Putin’s standing and stirred suspicion that the true death toll in the country is being concealed." Stay safe my Russian friends. I hear there's this thing called hydroxychloroquine that could help out.

"Johnson & Johnson announced Tuesday that it will discontinue sales of its talc-based baby powder in Canada and the United States. The company has faced thousands of lawsuits alleging the powder contains asbestos, a claim the company denies."

"Taiwan cannot accept becoming part of China under its 'one country, two systems' offer of autonomy, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday, strongly rejecting China’s sovereignty claims and likely setting the stage for an ever worsening of ties." Must be time for another arms sale.

"In a letter Monday to the director-general of WHO, Trump said that his administration's review of WHO's response to the outbreak found that the organization ignored 'credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal.'… The Lancet, however, said Tuesday 'this statement is factually incorrect' and that it 'published no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China.'" I know they had to refute it, but it's been 3 years and it still astounds me that people think Trump can tell any truth and get any facts correct.

"President Donald Trump is set to unveil rules Tuesday for a $19 billion coronavirus farm aid package covering a broad swath of American agriculture that producers can begin claiming by next week." Instead the president was ore concerned about farmers not being able to get guns to protect their potatoes.

There's this thing in conservative circles where the read documents the way they read the Bible. All the words are there, but if they switch up the order, they can make it say whatever they think they want it to say. "Now the full text of (Susan Rice's) email has been declassified, and POLITICO reviewed it. It says that then-FBI Director James Comey worried about sharing classified information with the Trump team because of incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn’s frequent conversations with the Russian ambassador but that Comey had no knowledge of Flynn sharing classified information with the envoy." So while the contents seem very much with in line with President Obama keeping hands off, telling subordinates to follow the rules, and shows how a functioning White House works, the Trump administration is trying to spin this in all sorts of ways.

"President Donald Trump announced Wednesday his intention to block federal funding to Michigan if election officials there do not retreat from measures meant to facilitate mail-in voting… The threat from the White House comes as Michigan, a state crucial to Trump’s reelection chances later this year, combats the fallout from a particularly severe coronavirus outbreak." There is no legal mechanism for the president to withhold funds because of how states run their elections. Especially emergency funds to help with the flooding.

"Michigan's secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, said Tuesday that all of those registered voters will be mailed applications for absentee ballots for the state’s elections in August and November — not the absentee ballots themselves… Trump said the move was done 'illegally and without authorization from a rogue secretary of state.'" IANAL, but I'm pretty sure the Secretary of State (for the individual states) are the top election official in most states. There is no one else to get "authorization" from. Sure, the sending out of ballots is handled by the county officials, but nothing stops the state from sending out the applications (or reminders). In Ohio, they do it all the time. Also note the intention confusion between the ballot and the application for a mail-in-ballot.

"Almost immediately after special counsel Robert Mueller closed his investigation last year, Attorney General William Barr was huddling with the prosecutor he assigned to re-examine the Russia probe -- in a series of meetings that haven't been previously known and appear to highlight Barr's drive to rewrite the legacy of the Mueller investigation."

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday

"The rainy weather that hung over northeastern Illinois on Sunday, combined with a record rain in Chicago last week, left swaths of the city and suburbs underwater and waterlogged as many of the region’s network of rivers and streams overflowed their banks."

"Human-caused global warming has strengthened the wind speeds of hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones around the globe, a new study released Monday said… These storms, collectively known as tropical cyclones, are some of nature's most powerful and destructive storms. Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, for example, laid waste to portions of the Bahamas last year as the storm's 185-mph winds cut through the nation like a buzzsaw." We're boned.

"President Trump on Monday revealed to reporters that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and zinc to protect against the coronavirus."

"'The good news is that, like Kawasaki disease, almost all the kids are treatable,' Schleien said. 'It is highly likely that, with treatment, they’re going to be fine. It’s not like the fear of COVID-19 where we know there are no treatments and it’s a matter of luck.'" You know, as long as you have health insurance and access to decent healthcare.

"Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday sought to downplay a new enforcement tool he quietly filed last week that allows the state to cite nonessential businesses with a misdemeanor for opening up to customers in violation of his executive orders dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic."

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans a nationwide study of up to 325,000 people to track how the new coronavirus is spreading across the country into next year and beyond, a CDC spokeswoman and researchers conducting the effort told Reuters."

"COVID-19 has taken the medical focus away from many other serious diseases, including cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, more than a quarter of patients with active cancer are reporting delays in treatment. Also, cancer screenings are down, meaning many conditions will worsen while the health system diverts to fight the virus. At the same time, the pandemic is creating bottlenecks in care."

"In the early days of the outbreak, a scarcity of tests often hampered their efforts. Now, as that equipment gradually becomes more widely available, these professionals may be able to fill in answers about how people died and if those deaths were related to the coronavirus. And these confirmed cases can also help investigators trace contacts who may also be infected." That only took 4 months.

"A bipartisan congressional panel is questioning why the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve have loaned out little of the $500 billion designated in a recent spending bill for economic relief from the novel coronavirus." Their conservative sycophants are notoriously late in filing paperwork.

"Australia and China traded barbs on Tuesday in an increasingly acrimonious diplomatic spat over Australia’s support for a global inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, as Australia recorded its 100th COVID-19 fatality."

"Senate Republicans in difficult reelection races are aligning themselves with President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, calculating that his stewardship of the country through the deadly crisis will help their reelection hopes even as he's been criticized for moving too slowly and as the American public remains sharply split over his response so far." Good luck with that.

"US President Donald Trump has sent a letter to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) threatening to pull US funding permanently over Covid-19… The letter outlines a 30-day deadline for the body to commit to 'substantive improvements' or risk losing millions and US membership altogether." Gotta blame somebody. Waits for the hot take timelines showing how the WHO was ahead of Trump the entire time.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday

Fred Willard, and so it goes.

Coming to a supermarket near you! "Now, however, freshwater prawns may be able to enjoy wider commercial success, thanks to a new breeding technique developed by Enzootic, an Israeli agro-biotech venture founded in 2012 by Dr. Assaf Shechter and Professor Amir Sagi. One of the company's first initiatives was to develop and commercialize a technology for manipulating the gender of freshwater prawns in collaboration with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. This collaboration led to the creation of a one-time, non-chemical, non-genetic gender-bending treatment that allows freshwater hatcheries to produce crops of all-female prawns."

"A factory in Colombia is making hospital beds that can be turned into a coffin if the patient dies… These dual-purpose beds are designed for #COVID19 patients." They're made out of corrugated cardboard. There's a video of how they work. Trigger warning, the "patient"/coworker on the bed appears to be the only female in the video. So, ya know, extra points for the misogyny. (Grokked from Bo Bolander)

"In particular, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator for the President's coronavirus task force, has become increasingly critical of the CDC, making clear in recent meetings that she is more than frustrated with the agency, according to two senior administration officials. Specifically, Birx believes the way the CDC gathers data on the coronavirus is antiquated, causing inaccurate and delayed numbers on both virus cases and deaths." What we need is the New Math.

"The health care system in Brazil's largest city is wavering on the brink of collapse and coronavirus deaths throughout the South American nation are soaring -- but President Jair Bolsonaro nonetheless reveled in crowds of supporters on Sunday, joining yet another anti-lockdown protest in Brasilia." Fiddling while Rome burns.

"India has begun evacuating thousands of villagers and halted port operations ahead of a cyclone expected to hit its east coast this week, officials said, piling pressure on emergency services already grappling with the coronavirus pandemic."

"The new cases Thursday marked the seventh day in a row that Texas saw more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases in a single day, bringing the total number of known cases to 43,851. There are 18,148 active cases of the coronavirus, the health agency reported." That's 14 days after Texas "re-opened." ::Checks watch:: Right on time. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Authorities are not seeing spikes in coronavirus cases in places that are reopening but are seeing increases in some areas that remain closed, U.S. health secretary Alex Azar said on Sunday." Uh, sure, Bob. (Strong side-eye)

"But when Tapper pressed him further, and emphasized that the overall number of deaths in the US is the highest in the world, Azar said this could be explained by ethnic demographics… 'Unfortunately the American population is a very diverse, and, it is, it is a population with significant unhealthy comorbidities that do make many individuals in our communities, in particular African American, minority communities, particularly at risk here, because of significant underlying disease, health disparities, and disease comorbidities,' Azar said." Well I'm glad he didn't go full racist there. He only went halfway (narrator voice: still racist).

"Just as epidemiologists are concerned that a post-reopening 'second wave' of Covid-19 cases could further batter America’s health care system, many economists warn that the current wave of nutritional insecurity and overwhelmed food banks could be just the beginning of the economic crisis and will get worse starting in August if Congress doesn’t act now."

A new twist to the phrase, your money or your life. "But Murray kept telling herself she had bills and rent coming due. The store had cut back her hours in recent years, making it harder to accumulate enough paid time off – she says it takes her more than a week of work to earn one hour of sick time… But one angry customer put her over the edge."

"Can you refuse to go back to work and still claim unemployment benefits?" Signs point to no (but it's complicated).

"A federal judge has denied a request from Martin Shkreli — the former pharmaceutical executive widely disdained as 'pharma bro' — to be released from prison so he can work on a coronavirus treatment." Good. Plus the fact that this asshole is a business major, not even a scientist (let alone a biologist, and he has never researched diseases, and even if he was release right this second, he's 3 months behind everyone else). Seriously, these people don't know how businesses are actually run and how the work gets done.

"The U.S. economy could shrink by upwards of 30% in the second quarter but will avoid a Depression-like economic plunge over the longer term, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told '60 Minutes' in an interview aired Sunday." Uh huh, pull the other one. Again, they're looking at this as if it's only the coronavirus, not that the response is putting pressure on all the cracks in the system.

"When banks got done making their first batch of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, the results looked like a quiet 'red state bailout,' as the Atlantic’s David Frum put it. The quickly depleted funds had disproportionately aided smaller, more rural states in the middle of the country that just happened to have voted for Donald Trump in 2016—to the relative neglect of blue states that had been hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic."

"Michigan closed down its capitol in Lansing on Thursday and canceled its legislative session rather than face the possibility of an armed protest and death threats against Democratic Governor Gretchen … The gathering, meant to advocate opening the state for business despite the coronavirus pandemic, followed one April 30 that resulted in pictures of protesters clad in military-style gear and carrying long guns crowding the statehouse. They confronted police and taunted lawmakers." Ah those patriotic people who ::checks notes:: don't believe in government and worked to shut it down. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware will open beaches Memorial Day weekend with some restrictions, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Friday." Somebody has to feed those sharks.

"Japan has fallen into recession for the first time since 2015 as the financial toll of the coronavirus continues to escalate… The world's third biggest economy shrank at an annual pace of 3.4% in the first three months of 2020."

"Félicien Kabuga, one of the most wanted suspects in the Rwandan genocide, has been arrested near Paris, the French justice ministry has announced… Mr Kabuga was detained by gendarmes in Asnières-sur-Seine, where he had been living under a false identity."

"US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is asking Congress for a $1.2 billion bailout. The agency claims it will run out of money by the end of the summer without aid due to a decline in immigration caused by the coronavirus pandemic… Unlike other federal agencies, USCIS receives almost no taxpayer dollars, and is dependent on fees associated with filing applications for green cards, visas, work permits, US citizenship, and humanitarian benefits such as asylum."

"'And you hear that outside, that beautiful sound -- those are truckers that are with us all the way. They are protesting in favor of President Trump, as opposed to against,' Trump said. 'There's hundreds of trucks out there, and that's the sign of love. Not the sign of your typical protest. So I want to thank our great truckers. They like me and I like them.'" Hey Sparky, sometimes they are laughing at you, not with you. And to the truckers, guess you didn't realize what red tape the conservatives wanted to cut, eh?

"President Donald Trump has removed State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and replaced him with an ally of Vice President Mike Pence — the latest in a series of moves against independent government watchdogs in recent months." Slow motion Saturday night massacre.

"The State Department inspector general who was removed from his job Friday was looking into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning and make dinner reservations for Pompeo and his wife, among other personal errands, according to two congressional officials assigned to different committees." That's abuse of office.

"The Texas Supreme Court on Friday halted the expansion of mail-in voting in the state during the coronavirus pandemic… The court issued the stay after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) asked the Lone Star State's top court to take action in a letter earlier this week."

"Donald Trump has hit back at Barack Obama’s criticism of his administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, accusing the former US president of being 'grossly incompetent' during his time in office." Ah, the ol' I'm rubber, you're glue gambit.

"Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the Senate would work to confirm a Supreme Court nominee this year if a vacancy arises, saying the circumstances are different from 2016, when Republicans blocked then-President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland." Because of course it is, when it serves the conservative interest there is no road-block. It's only when a liberal wants to appoint a judge that there's a problem. Because it never was about letting the people have a vote (their original argument). "However, the comments mark a reversal from Graham, who in 2018 said no nominations would be considered in 2020."

Friday, May 15, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday

"An early Friday morning earthquake near Tonopah, Nevada, was strong enough to be felt over 300 miles away in areas such as Bakersfield, California. The 6.5 magnitude quake struck at 4:03 a.m., PDT, according to the U.S. Geological Survey and had a depth of 2.5 miles. The USGS upgraded the quake’s magnitude to 6.5 from 6.4 about an hour after the initial strike."

"The US’s uncrewed X-37B military spaceplane is expected to launch from Cape Canaveral air force station, in Florida, on 16 May."

"It's the moment international aid groups have been dreading for months—the coronavirus has reached the sprawling refugee camps in the Cox's Bazar district of southern Bangladesh, home to roughly a million Rohingya refugees."

"The Food and Drug Administration is cautioning the public about the reliability of a widely used rapid test for the coronavirus. The test, made by Abbott Laboratories, has been linked with inaccurate results that could falsely reassure patients that they are not infected with the virus." Jazz hands. Also, these machines which were built quite hastily have been being used 24/7 for the past 2 months. Besides the fault in the tests, the machines are also starting to fault on their own.

"U.S. employers have cooled to the idea of testing workers for possible immunity to the coronavirus as they prepare to reopen factories and other workplaces." Have we talked about how surface temperature monitors are also for shit?

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a set of documents on Thursday designed to provide guidance on how child care centers, schools, restaurants and bars, and other establishments could begin the process of reopening in the face of the coronavirus. The direction comes after calls from lawmakers and state officials mounted for the CDC to weigh in on how regions should reopen their economies." You mean after the Trump Administration shelved the full CDC report and guidelines on how to reopen.

"'We're mobilizing our military and other forces but we're mobilizing our military on the basis that we do have a vaccine. You know, it's a massive job to give this vaccine. Our military is now being mobilized so at the end of the year we're going to be able to give it to a lot of people very, very rapidly,' the president said." There's a year's worth of work for an industrious fact-checker.

The Daily Beast, but… "In a quote attributed to an unnamed Trump confidant who is said to speak to the president frequently, it’s claimed: 'Jared [Kushner] had been arguing that testing too many people, or ordering too many ventilators, would spook the markets and so we just shouldn’t do it... That advice worked far more powerfully on [Trump] than what the scientists were saying. He thinks they always exaggerate.'" (Grokked from Anne Wheaton)

"The reopening — after six weeks of lockdown — is important, Montgomery says. 'It's our culture,' he adds. 'Southern California here, the beach is where people go to not just recreate but just take a piece of mind off.'" And catch a potentially deadly infection. All about the culture.

"Google has significantly rolled back its diversity and inclusion initiatives in an apparent effort to avoid being perceived as anti-conservative, according to eight current and former employees." That pretty much lays it out on the open. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"In two, terrible, months the coronavirus pandemic has driven unemployment in the US to levels unseen since the 1930s Great Depression. Did it have to be this way?" No.

What's that whistling noise? "U.S. retail sales tumbled by a record 16.4% from March to April as business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus kept shoppers away, threatened the viability of stores across the country and further weighed down a sinking economy." Oh. Tired of winning yet?

"Our weird behavior during the pandemic is messing with AI models… Machine-learning models trained on normal behavior are showing cracks —forcing humans to step in to set them straight." I guess then they aren't so I as they are A.

"Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' revised federal guidelines on how sexual assault allegations should be handled on college and K-12 campuses are the target of a federal lawsuit filed Thursday claiming that the changes would "inflict significant harm" on victims and 'dramatically undermine' their civil rights… The suit, filed on behalf of four advocacy groups for people who have been sexually assaulted, including Know Your IX and Girls for Gender Equity, is the first that seeks to block the Education Department's new provisions before they go into effect on Aug. 14." Just a reminder this administration continues its heinous fuckery undeterred by the coronavirus.

"The Trump administration on Friday moved to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei Technologies from global chipmakers, in an action that could ramp up tensions with China."

"U.S. President Donald Trump signaled a further deterioration of his relationship with China over the coronavirus outbreak, saying he has no interest in speaking to President Xi Jinping right now and going so far as to suggest he could even cut ties with the world’s second largest economy." But I thought Trump and Xi had a great relationship. Trump said so himself. But China's insistence on the facts threatens the president's world view. So even though it'll sink our economy, China has to go. Good luck getting parts.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Fox News contributor Karl Rove joined 'The Daily Briefing' Thursday to discuss a new poll that shows President Trump topping Joe Biden by seven percentage points in 15 battleground states ahead of November’s general election." You remember Karl "I have The Math" Rove. I wonder how few states they think they need to win to keep the White House. He's already righting off Pennsylvania as Wisconsin. You might remember that Trump needed those 2 states to make it over the electoral college hump. This only works inside the bubble where Trump won by a landslide, and you don't listen to what the other side is saying or doing.

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell conceded Thursday night that he was wrong to claim that the Obama administration had not left behind a plan to deal with a pandemic in the US." Don't worry, that won't change your crazy Nazi Uncle from making the same claim. Also, and let me say this clearly, it is year 4 of the Trump presidency. Even if the Obama administration didn't leave Trump anything, that should have been remedied by now.

"Over Mother’s Day and then through Monday—and who knows, perhaps continuing today—Trump has fired off hundreds of rounds of weapons-grade lunacy on Twitter. When Trump does this kind of thing, many are ready with an explanation: He’s rallying his base; he’s distracting his critics; he’s challenging the existence of reality itself."

"President Donald Trump claimed the coronavirus pandemic has proven his America-first economic philosophy correct, slamming the competing financial theories espoused by those he dismissed as 'globalists.'" How's that "businessmen in government" philosophy working out? Also, nobody outside Trump's circle is saying anything close to this.

"The US Senate has voted to give law enforcement agencies access to web browsing data without a warrant, dramatically expanding the government’s surveillance powers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic… The power grab was led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell as part of a reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which gives federal agencies broad domestic surveillance powers. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) attempted to remove the expanded powers from the bill with a bipartisan amendment." (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)