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

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Linkee-poo Weekend

"The group of researchers, who published a commentary in the journal Nature, say there is growing evidence to suggest that irreversible changes to the Earth's environmental systems are already taking place, and that we are now in a 'state of planetary emergency.'" We're boned. This is he little told secret, climate change scientists have been projecting hope as a way to spur action. So people won't panic or say scientists are being doomsayers. But as I've said elsewhere, avoiding catastrophe is not really possible, we're negotiating the type and extent of catastrophe now. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Levick had accompanied Scott to Antarctica, but was not one of the five expedition members on the final trek to the pole. The return journey claimed the lives of all five. Levick survived the expedition, however, and in 1914, published a manuscript summarizing his observations — the first scientific descriptions of Antarctic penguins… But he left something out." The homosexuality, promiscuity and other things that made them all icky. So why would he leave that part out (which is not actually answered in the article)? I don't know, maybe because at that time and until very recently animal observations were done in such a way as to illuminate human behavior (and provide models). And those kinds of things wouldn't fly (much like the penguins) in the early 20th century. Of course had he actually published that may have changed (but more than likely he just wouldn't have ever been invited back into the comfy society of scientists and their grant money).

"Rocket Lab launched its tenth Electron spacecraft on Friday morning, successfully delivering payloads for clients Spaceflight and Alba Orbital. The launch company also had an important secondary mission for this launch: testing the guidance, control and navigation systems of their first-stage rocket recovery system."

Why selling health insurance across state lines is a bad idea. "State regulators say an out-of-state health insurance company illegally sold inadequate plans to thousands of college students in Vermont and improperly denied nearly a half-million dollars in medical claims." This plans didn't meet the basic minimum requirements set in state law. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Saturday is the deadline for most people with Medicare coverage to sign up for private drug and medical plans for next year. But members of Congress, health care advocates and insurance agents worry that enrollment decisions based on bad information from the government's revamped, error-prone Plan Finder website will bring unwelcome surprises."

"An internal investigation conducted two years ago by the Orange County Sheriff's Department, the findings of which were not made public at the time, uncovered systematic mishandling of evidence. Deputies are required to turn in evidence at the end of their shift, but the audit found that more than 70% of them failed to do so. Instead, officers frequently waited days, weeks or even months to submit key evidence, including seized drugs, cash, photos and videos pertaining to criminal cases." Oopsie.

"On Friday, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) will introduce the Fairness For All Act, a purported compromise bill that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations — but carves out broad exemptions for churches and religious organizations." That's not a discrimination ban, that a codification of exemptions.

A year without a Santa Claus. "A town has canceled its annual Christmas parade over fears that protesters and supporters of its inclusion of Confederate groups would clash. After more than 70 years, the town of Wake Forest, North Carolina will not have a parade at all this holiday season." So, instead of saying, "hey, maybe leave the Confederacy bullshit at home," instead they just cancel the whole parade.

"In an interview with Glenn Beck, Haley also said that the murderer, Dylann Roof, 'hijacked' the supposedly virtuous nature of the Confederate battle flag." Uh, no. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

That Yule Log smells like chicken. "In a partnership with artificial fire log company Enviro-Log, Kentucky Fried Chicken is offering what's sure to be the hottest commodity of the season -- a hunk of flammable, chicken-scented bliss otherwise known as the 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog."

"In the spring of 2018, the antitrust division of the DOJ announced it would begin a bit of legal housekeeping - clearing the cobwebs, they called it. Basically, through the 1970s, many federal anti-trust agreements were perpetual. They never ended. Thus, the DOJ explained, it would review nearly 1,300 judgments going back over 100 years to evaluate whether they're still in the public interest. Those included antiquated sounding settlements aimed at curbing monopoly power over music roles for piano players and hoof pads for horseshoes." Rolling back regulations to allow monopoly powers to grow.

"Recent studies by the African Union show that Africa loses at least $50bn annually as a result of illicit financial flows from foreign companies doing business on the continent. Global Financial Integrity estimates that for every dollar that comes into the developing world in the form of foreign aid, $10 leave, mostly as a result of tax avoidance by multinational companies. These figures are a stark reminder of how foreign companies have thoroughly ravaged African economies, leaving little behind for the people of the continent." The chronic underdevelopment of Africa, as told through a story about bribery and fish and the Fishrot files. Or if you just ever wondered what it meant when someone was called a colonizer.

"Zelenskiy didn't mention the U.S. impeachment scandal, which few Ukrainians care about. He focused instead on his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, set to take place in Paris at a summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron on Dec. 9."

"Interviews with current and former officials show how the Trump administration's hold-up of aid to Ukraine was irregular and likely violated U.S. law, but has far-reaching consequences at home and overseas."

Friday, December 6, 2019

Linkee-poo Fridays

"Whenever you decide to directly quote, excerpt, or reproduce someone else’s work in your own—whether that’s a book, blog, magazine article, or something else—you have to consider, for each use, whether or not it’s necessary to seek explicit, legal permission from the work’s creator or owner." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission arrived at near-Earth asteroid Bennu a year ago, and the spinning top-shaped space rock has been full of surprises. The latest findings now classify it as an active asteroid with observable events happening on the surface."

"Infrared photography has helped to identify tattoos on seven mummified individuals dating to at least 3,000 years ago at a site called Deir el-Medina, archaeologist Anne Austin of the University of Missouri–St. Louis reported November 22 at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Although the identities of these tattooed folks are unknown, artisans and craft workers at Deir el-Medina built and decorated royal tombs in the nearby Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens."

"New research raises concern about the safety of permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners, especially among African American women. The study was published Wednesday in the International Journal of Cancer."

"After decades of progress against one of the most contagious human viruses, the world is seeing measles stage a slow, steady comeback… The World Health Organization and the CDC say in a new report that there were nearly 10 million cases of measles last year, with outbreaks on every continent… And so far 2019 has been even worse."

"Samoa has arrested an anti-vaccination campaigner as the country continues to battle a deadly measles outbreak… Edwin Tamasese was charged with incitement against a government order after he was detained on Thursday."

Who needs regulations? "A Detroit property contaminated with uranium and other dangerous chemicals partially collapsed into the Detroit River on Nov. 26, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has confirmed… The news is especially concerning because the Detroit drinking water intake lines are nearby downriver." I'm sure there's no reason (not) to panic. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"A study designed to test the effectiveness of a controversial practice known as 'abortion pill reversal' has been stopped early because of safety concerns." Whispers, it doesn't work no matter what the pro-lifers want to believe.

"In recent years though, biologists and fisherman noticed something was wrong. On sections of the Clinch and other waterways in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, dead mussels were turning up on shores and could be seen glinting from the river bottom. Surveys revealed more fresh dead or dying mussels half-buried and rotting in still-clasped shells." They might not be sexy, but freshwater mussels do a lot of heavy lifting in the food web. Another spoke in the mass extinction event going on around us.

"The U.S. Justice and Treasury departments took action Thursday against a Russian hacking group known as 'Evil Corp.,' which stole 'at least' $100 million from banks using malicious software that swiped banking credentials, according to a joint press release." To my Russian friends, I've really been restraining myself from making Boris and Natasha jokes, but if you keep this up with things like "Evil Corp" and Maksim Yakubets I'm not going to be able to hold back. I mean, come on, at least come up with something like SPECTRE. Let's not be lazy here. And for everyone else, these days there is very little difference between the government, intelligence, and organized crime in Russia. They all tend to stew in the same pot. (Grokked form Kathryn Cramer)

"Uber disclosed 3,000 sexual assaults reported in U.S. rides last year in its long-awaited safety report, amid widespread criticism of its safety practices and pressure to increase its transparency over the issue." Da fuq? "In a lengthy report, which divides sexual misconduct into 21 categories, Uber said it recorded 235 rapes last year and hundreds more reports of assault that could involve unwanted touching, kissing or attempted rape." Oh, well, at least we broke it down. Oh, and that statement about how they're bringing transparency to "something that touches every corner of society"… That's PR speak for, "not our fault." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

How goes Brexit? "But old ties are being tested to their limits with a possibly devastating impact on Labour, which is fighting to defeat the ruling Conservative Party. Voters in Hartlepool feel they have missed out on the economic growth of the last few decades, which has transformed London and the southeast of England. This is the eastern edge of what pollsters have called the 'red wall' of Brexit-supporting seats Labour holds with a majority of less than 8,000 votes."

How go the Trade Wars? "China will waive import tariffs for some soybeans and pork shipments from the United States, China’s finance ministry said on Friday, citing a decision by the country’s cabinet." China's pork industry has suffered catastrophic losses because of African Swine Fever and they've already been pulling from their strategic frozen pork stock.

"The tariff war has caused a lot of anxiety for business owners and farmers. But how much has it hurt the overall economy?" It's a mixed picture.

"U.S. employers added a better-than-expected 266,000 jobs in November in a sign the economy continues to power ahead… The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5%. Job gains for the two previous months were revised up by a total of 41,000." The numbers were juiced by the end of the UAW strike, but still a good number.

"The wealth of the top 1% of Americans has grown dramatically in the past four decades, squeezing both the middle class and the poor. This is in sharp contrast to Europe and Asia, where the wealth of the 1% has grown at a more constrained pace." I wonder how that could happen?

"Thousands of people are marching in the streets of Paris, Lyon, Marseilles and other French cities Thursday, as more than 30 unions launch a massive workers' strike that's meant to shut down the country and force President Emmanuel Macron to reevaluate his plans for pension reform." They're marching in Paris, again.

"Four men held over a high-profile rape and murder case in India have been shot dead by police while they were in custody, an official confirmed Friday, drawing praise from the family of the victim." When vigilantism is praised, there's a problem with law enforcement.

"A video taken by a Mexican citizen shows the newly replaced border fence in Mexicali being scaled by two men with a rope ladder, one of whom makes it over to the United States." The CBP says the system worked as intended, and only one person got over and they were caught. Yeah, sure, Bob.

"A sick Guatemalan boy who died in government custody was lying on the floor for hours before someone found him dead, a video first obtained by ProPublica shows… But Border Patrol logs obtained by ProPublica indicate that three welfare checks were done on Carlos over the period in which the video suggests the boy laid on the floor. The logs do not indicate how those checks were done or note that anything was amiss." Falsification of records is a crime.

"Two Muslim US congresswomen have been targeted by a vast international operation that exploits far-right pages on Facebook to inflame Islamophobia for profit, a Guardian investigation has found… A mysterious Israeli-based group uses 21 Facebook pages to churn out more than a thousand coordinated fake news posts per week to more than a million followers around the world. It milks the traffic for revenue from digital advertising." Like Uber, but for fake news. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Why diversity in representation matters… "Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) slammed the Trump administration’s decision to implement cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), referencing her family’s past reliance on food stamps."

"The first House member to endorse Donald Trump, Chris Collins of New York, pleaded guilty to insider-trading charges…The second House Trump endorser, Duncan Hunter of California, pleaded guilty to criminal misuse of campaign funds… Is a pattern emerging?" I wouldn't say it's emerging, more like deepening in color and texture. We've already seen the pattern. Note the article doesn't mention the number of people in his inner circle, campaign and administration who have gone to jail or been accused of crimes. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The story of the House Democrats' impeachment report has quickly become all about the phone records." And with this, "Nunes said… 'I'll go back and check all my records. It seems very unlikely that I'd be checking calls from random people.'" I agree, Devin. It seems unlikely that you'd spend time talking with someone you don't know, just some bloke from off the street. (Grokked from Jim Wright) "CNN has learned that the number the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment report said was 'associated' with the Office of Management and Budget is a number that could go to multiple officials within the White House complex, including the White House itself. Real Clear Politics was first to report on the phone number issue." Well, yeah, you can transfer phones almost anywhere. Considering Giuliani also called numbers that go to the West Wing, this is a very bogus defense. And then… "'For his part, Mr. Giuliani has now confirmed speaking to Mick Mulvaney, who continues to serve as both the head of OMB and Acting Chief of Staff in the White House,' the House Intel committee official said in a statement."

"Other officials in the West Wing and numerous Trump associates learned about his latest foreign adventure, which included a stop in Ukraine, by reading the news. Many of them expressed exasperation at the thought of Giuliani—himself reportedly in the crosshairs of federal investigators—continuing to cause headaches for the White House. Others feared he would cause tangible damage to U.S. foreign policy." It's the Daily Beast, so take that as you will.

"Parnas' lawyer Joseph Bondy said that Parnas 'remembers' what the pair allegedly spoke about in a tweet directed at Nunes yesterday, responding to the California representative's claim that he was 'not able to confirm' whether the pair had any phone conversation." And now you see why professionals in government keep copious notes.

"The California Democrat forcefully pushed back on the idea that she and her caucus are proceeding with articles of impeachment because of a personal dislike of Trump, after being asked by a reporter from Sinclair, James Rosen, if she hates him on her way out of the weekly press conference." That was a moment.

Meanwhile in the Senate… "But Senate Republicans are beginning to deliver a reality check to the president and House Republicans that there are limits to what they can do."

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Linkee-poo Thursday

"A U.S. Navy sailor shot and killed two civilian employees of the Defense Department and wounded a third, before killing himself at Hawaii's Pearl Harbor military installation."

"Since it launched in August 2018, the Parker Solar Probe has rocketed around the sun three times, getting closer than any spacecraft before it and traveling faster than any other human-made object in history."

"Rogue plasma waves. Floating magnetic islands. Showers of charged particles. These are just some of the things NASA’s Parker Solar Probe witnessed during its first two intimate encounters with the sun."

"A study published on Wednesday involving 70,716 birds killed from 1978 through 2016 in such collisions in the third-largest U.S. city found that their average body sizes steadily declined over that time, though their wingspans increased."

"Long story short: 'We find that climate models published over the past five decades were generally quite accurate in predicting global warming in the years after publication.'" And yes, that means we're boned in case you were wondering. Also, "To be clear, almost all the models chosen are no longer in use, having been superseded by more sophisticated models since."

"Seven people in San Diego have died in the last two months from a flesh-eating bacteria associated with black tar heroin use, according to health officials." People are still using black-tar heroin? Sure, it's probably cheaper, but still. Also, it's so shocking to hear that drug pushers may not have sterile procedures in place.

"Over the past decade there has been a surge of interest in a novel approach to helping the world's poor: Instead of giving them goods like food or services like job training, just hand out cash — with no strings attached. Now a major new study suggests that people who get the aid aren't the only ones who benefit." It's almost like the thing that keeps people poor is their lack of access to ready cash. I know this goes against the American Dream™ as portrayed by conservatives that tells you the poor are that way because they don't know how to make money, handle money, not be lazy, behave, play the game correctly, and whatever trait the rich want to believe they aren't. Because here's the thing, there is no trickle down. Tides don't rise because a river swells. A tub doesn't fill because the water falls into it, it fills because it holds the water. "The net effect: Every dollar in cash aid increased total economic activity in the area by $2.60." Poor people spend money, rich people horde money. Giving more money to rich people doesn't increase economic activity (sure, they may invest it, but that's as far as it goes). Giving more money to poor people, they may save a little, but they will spend most of it on necessities. Those who provide those necessities will spend that money purchasing more, or on their own necessities. Economy isn't about the water level in the tub, but how the water moves in the tub. (Grokked from Ann Leckie)

"As the family later learned, Glenda Moore had the right to appeal the Medicare decision, or to apply for Medicaid — and, if she qualified (which she later did), to stay in the nursing home on Medicaid for as long as she needed nursing care. Instead, Moore’s family said, Moore became one of thousands of Americans discharged against their wishes or evicted from nursing homes each year." If you have someone in your life who is on Medicare/Mediaid, I strongly advise getting to know the social workers, Medicare advocates and case workers, and finding a lawyer who can help you navigate this system. Do it at the beginning. Also I highly recommend preparing for this possible outcome early. Also, interview these facilities before you need to make a decision. It's a lot of work.

"But the lofty expectations placed upon Johnson came crashing down this week, when (Chicago) Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a former police board president who was elected earlier this year, unexpectedly fired Johnson, saying he misled the people of the city and 'intentionally lied to me several times' in connection with an incident in October in which he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car."

"Faulty Takata airbags have already caused the largest auto recall in history, with tens of millions of cars affected. Now a newly discovered defect has prompted the recall of another 1.4 million vehicles."

"Instagram will start requiring all new users to provide their birthdays when making an account. The new requirement starts today and is seemingly geared toward creating 'age-appropriate experiences.' A user’s age might produce different recommended privacy settings or generate in-app information about staying safe online, the company says in a blog post. Birthdays will be hidden from other users, and existing users won’t have to add their birthdays for now. Users have to be 13 to join the service." You know, totally for programing experiences so the kiddies are safe and not to link more information together for Facebook to sell.

How go the Trade Wars? "China gives little indication US trade talks are progressing…" Shocked, shocked I am… Here we go again. This is becoming more annoying than the Ross and Rachel thing.

"Labour, which founded the NHS in 1948, frames the choice facing voters this way: Will the U.K. preserve the service as a pillar of postwar society, providing free health care in a system that's rated as the best in the developed world?… Or will the U.K. allow increased influence from the United States, whose far more expensive free-market-oriented model is ranked worst in the world, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan research organization." Hint to our British friends, you don't want to have what we're having. Also in the article is a link to the video of people in London being asked if they know the costs of healthcare in America. That's really an unfair question (I mean, how much does a gallon of milk cost in England), but their responses to the actual prices are what we should also be having.

"The Pentagon has denied a report that the United States was weighing sending up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in the face of a perceived threat from Iran."

"A Florida Republican congressional hopeful who apparently called for Rep. Ilhan Omar and other Democrats to be hanged in a fundraising email has been removed from a GOP initiative that supports candidates." It's not everything they could do, but it's a start. Now do something about the Danielle Stella, who tweeting something similar and is running against Rep. Omar.

"President Donald Trump campaigned on claims that the rest of the world was 'laughing at' the United States and its leaders, arguing he would get the world to take the US seriously… A video posted to Twitter by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation shows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemingly mocking Trump during a candid moment at a reception. And other world leaders — including French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands — appear to be in on the joke." They aren't laughing at you… well, yes, I guess they were. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a news conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting." Somebody's feeling were hurt. Hot mics all around.

"It’s too easy, and too often an easy coverup for, yes, epistemological nihilism: The notion that are no facts, so let’s not bother to try establishing them… But here’s the thing: There are facts. There is truth. We do live in a country that abides by laws and a Constitution, and nobody ought to be above them." Margaret Sullivan on the media game and being gamed.

"Democrats are injecting an urgent new argument into their already fast-moving impeachment drive: President Donald Trump poses such a flagrant threat to the republic that there is no time to waste."

"Melania Trump admonished one of the legal scholars testifying at Wednesday's impeachment inquiry hearing after the professor made a joke involving her son, Barron, for which the professor later apologized." I appreciate the first lady's concern, but this is also changing the context of the comment by Dr. Karlan. The choice of naming the child Barron was what was used, not the child himself. This is just an attempt to crowd out what was a damaging day of testimony.

"Across from a Capitol Hill impeachment hearing that President Trump and his allies loudly rebuked, members of the White House legal team and its top legislative aide huddled Wednesday with Senate Republicans over lunch to plot out a potential trial in the upper chamber." So, thinking about "due process", how many defendants' legal teams get to have negotiations with the jury prior to a trial?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Linkee-poo Wednesdays

"Fish will mate with a species outside their own if the male's colouring is attractive enough or if the female can't see him properly, according to new research." But this is based on cichlids, which IIRC have a high degree of phenotypes, but genetically they're very similar.

"Call it a tale of science and derring-do. An international team of researchers has spent six years fanning across the globe, gathering thousands of samples of wild relatives of crops. Their goal: to preserve genetic diversity that could help key crops survive in the face of climate change. At times, the work put these scientists in some pretty extreme situations."

"The way many of us think about weight loss is totally counterproductive. Here are some tips on approaching weight loss in a different way — a saner way — that might help you achieve and maintain a healthier lifestyle while being a little kinder to yourself."

"With fewer than 100 days left before the 2020 census is fully underway, rural communities caught in the digital divide are bracing for a potential undercount that could make it harder for them to advocate for resources over the next decade." Making sure all are counted, which is normally the government's job. There was a similar reaction in the last census, although in the opposite political direction. In 2010 libertarians and what would become known as the alt-right were totally convinced that Obama was going to use the Census to round them up, so they would refuse to participate. Which meant people actually knocked on their doors (to various receptions). But this time, with the citizen's question, the fact that conservatives are all in on using the internet to help the count (something they were dead set against in 2010), it does appear there is some credence to claims the government will intentionally undercount in minority areas.

"The numbers tell one story. Unemployment in the US is the lowest it’s been in 50 years. More Americans have jobs than ever before. Wage growth keeps climbing… People tell a different story. Long job hunts. Trouble finding work with decent pay. A lack of predictable hours… The 'whole story' told by the index, he adds, is 'the devaluation of American labor.'" Most jobs today are low-quality (ie. they pay below the average). (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

How go the Trade Wars? "The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to counter what it calls the 'arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment' of Uighur Muslims in China." Can't wait for the conservative talking point about how tariffs are an attempt to gain a lever to change China's behavior vis a vis the Uighurs and Hong Kong.

"Page after page, the names stack up: 629 girls and women from across Pakistan who were sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China. The list, obtained by The Associated Press, was compiled by Pakistani investigators determined to break up trafficking networks exploiting the country’s poor and vulnerable." And government officials in China and Pakistan are dismantling and disabling law enforcement efforts to break up the human trafficking rings. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"The Trump administration will announce a plan Wednesday to end food stamps benefits for more than 700,000 Americans, issuing a new regulation that makes it harder for states to gain waivers from a requirement that beneficiaries work or participate in a vocational training program, according to people familiar with the matter."

"In hearings this week, House Democrats sought to highlight an emerging set of facts concerning the President’s conduct. On this week’s On the Media, a look at why muddying the waters remains a viable strategy for Trump’s defenders. Plus, even the technology we trust for its clarity isn’t entirely objective, especially the algorithms that drive decisions in public and private institutions. And, how early radio engineers designed broadcast equipment to favor male voices and make women sound 'shrill.'" Recommended for all parts, but especially the first one. This is what's also known as "throwing sand in the bull's eyes." And the algorithm part is also highly recommended. Computers aren't neutral, because the programming isn't. Very important as we automate more and more of our work. And the last segment is also very important, structural (and engineered) sexism about voices and the social implications.

"That the nation under Donald Trump is politically polarized — with Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other — has become a cliché of American political journalism… As it happens, the plurality of Americans actually identify as independents (38 percent, according to Gallup), rather than Democrats (31 percent) or Republicans (30 percent). So the cliché is not technically accurate." Also pointed out that while opinion on impeachment "hasn't moved", the majority of people still believe the president should be impeached with slightly less believing he should be removed from office. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"FactChecking Trump’s NATO Remarks." The president is a habitual liar.

"Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter is guilty. He is likely out of office and on the way to jail. And it all started when a reporter asked reasonable questions about his spending habits."

"For months, President Donald Trump has fired off tweet missives accusing House Democrats of 'getting nothing done in Congress,' and being consumed with impeachment… Trump may want to look to the Republican-controlled Senate instead. Democrats in the House have been passing bills at a rapid clip; as of November 15, the House has passed nearly 400 bills, not including resolutions. But the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee estimates 80 percent of those bill have hit a snag in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is prioritizing confirming judges over passing bills."

"When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was released from the hospital last weekend after another in a string of health scares, blue America breathed a sigh of relief. Only one more month, many whispered, until the start of a presidential election year when filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court would be off limits in the Senate… But would it?" Asking conservatives to be ethically consistent is a wish on the wind.

"'But I think today, American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers,' (AG William) Barr said. 'And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves ― and if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.'" That's some deep blackshirt shit right there. Okay, true story time. When I was Chairman of Safety for my little community, we had a very bad relationship (for good reasons) with the county sheriff. At one county-wide meeting the sheriff called I attended along with my police chief, the mayor, and our solicitor. We all went to hear how the sheriff was about to screw us all over again (that's another long story). The solicitor went to help me restrain the mayor in case something went wrong (a 50/50 chance). During the meeting, where the sheriff stood in front of 3 of his armed deputies (I told you there was good cause), he made the statement about how his office needed more money that he was getting from our taxes, and that maybe communities might want to donate to his budget and mentioned that those who didn't might not get as much protection as the others. My police chief, myself, and the mayor physically restrained our solicitor from attacking the sheriff (as in fortunately we were all paying attention and were ready when the solicitor leapt out of his seat to attack the sheriff). It wasn't because we didn't want to beat the crap out of the asshole ourselves, but because of the collateral injuries that would happen (3 armed deputies) and the lawsuit we'd face. I can't state the my level of contempt for leaders, especially law enforcement types, who spout such shit here because that would invite a visit from the Secret Service, but this is the kind of thing that people get ridden out of town on a rail for. (Grokked from Vincent O'Connor)

"Armed with never-before-seen phone records, Democrats on Tuesday accused President Donald Trump's allies of coordinating with a conservative journalist to peddle 'false narratives' about Trump's opponents as part of his multi-pronged pressure campaign on Ukraine… The House Intelligence Committee's impeachment report -- which was made public Tuesday -- says the committee's top Repub(l)ican, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, was linked to that effort." Whoa. I guess Devin should have attended more of those meetings. I believe that's what's known, in colloquial terms, as disqualifying heinous fuckery. So not only is Rep. Nunes Trumps lapdog, he's a coconspirator. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

You may remember Nunes from 2017 when he held an impromptu press conference declaring, "President Trump and his associates… had been caught up in surveillance by US intelligence agencies. Nunes then rushed to the White House to share the information in person. It was a remarkable breach of protocol… Further complicating matters is the fact that Nunes was an adviser to Trump's transition team."

And in what can only be described and impeccable bad timing… "Rep. Devin Nunes of California… filed suit against CNN Tuesday, alleging the cable-news network defamed him when it reported on allegations about the President and his representatives seeking information from Ukraine officials that would raise suspicion about the presidential campaign of Joe Biden."

?"According to the pro-Trump Republican lawmaker (Nunes), the calls with individuals at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against the president were joking in nature—or maybe didn’t even happen at all (despite records saying they did)." They can't even lie well.

"Fact-checking House Republicans’ impeachment report defending Trump on Ukraine."

"Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed new laws that allow authorities to designate individual journalists, bloggers, or virtually anyone else who uses social media as foreign agents. It's an expansion of powers that many fear will be used to further silence dissenting voices in Putin's Russia." Waves to my Russian friends.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Linkee-poo Tuesday

Alligators overboard.

NPR's 2019 Book Concierge list.

Trigger warning for descriptions of sex and sexual harassment. "This week on Hidden Brain, we explore how certain situations cause us to become strangers to ourselves. We hear from people who can't reconcile the person they believe themselves to be with their actions while in the grip of an intense feeling. And we look at the deep psychological mystery that occurs during these moments: no matter how many times we discover the strangers living inside us, the next time always catches us by surprise." On the Hot-Cold Empathy Gap.

"Two stories can be told about Tanzin v. Tanvir, a major religious liberty case that the Supreme Court agreed to hear last Friday." Damned if you win, damned if you don't win.

How go the Trade Wars? "President Donald Trump said Tuesday it might be better to wait until after the 2020 election to strike a trade deal with China." Here we go again.

"The U.S. government on Monday said it may slap punitive duties of up to 100% on $2.4 billion in imports from France of Champagne, handbags, cheese and other products, after concluding that France’s new digital services tax would harm U.S. tech companies."

"France and the European Union said on Tuesday they are ready to retaliate if U.S. President Donald Trump acts on a threat to impose duties of up to 100% on imports of champagne, handbags and other French products worth $2.4 billion." Remember when Trade Wars were "easy to win"? So how come we haven't won any?

"The NATO 'Leaders Meeting' in London this week features a cast of presidents and prime ministers who have left the alliance without the leadership it needs to tackle today's security challenges, which are unlike any since the end of the Cold War."

"North Korea on Tuesday said that the 'year end limit' is nearing for the U.S. and that 'it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get,' the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, citing Ri Thae Song, North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs in charge of U.S. affairs." So much winning.

It's not just the people coming to America, it's about the people already here. "A New Yorker who gained US citizenship as a child is suddenly facing deportation, along with several green card-holding members of his family, after apparent targeting by the Trump administration in what the family believes is a clear case of anti-Muslim bias."

"Democrats are expected to continue their march toward impeachment on Tuesday with the release of a report summarizing their case — one day after Republicans opened the bidding with a salvo of their own." It's the battle of reports.

"This is the second release of interview notes from Mueller's special counsel investigation sparked by lawsuits from CNN and BuzzFeed… Here are highlights from the documents…"

"The Justice Department says releasing secret grand jury documents from then-special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe to House lawmakers engaged in the impeachment inquiry could discourage future witnesses to presidential abuse from cooperating with grand juries." Bullshit.

"With the Justice Department’s inspector general report on the origins of the Russia investigation expected to be released in a matter of days, reports of Attorney General Bill Barr’s disagreement with the independent probe’s findings have begun to trickle out. In particular, Barr has reportedly told colleagues at the DOJ that he is not convinced by Inspector General Michael Horo­witz’s conclusion that the FBI had sufficient evidence during the 2016 presidential campaign to properly and lawfully open an investigation into Russian interference on July 31, 2016." Because he was never going to accept the truth.

Because the who raison d'être of the Trump administration is conspiracy theory. "A product of tabloid culture, Trump has long trafficked in conspiracy theories. But as chief executive, he’s used the machinery of government to give the ones especially useful to him the stamp of official validation. (That’s the main reason he now faces impeachment in the House.) These baseless theories are a way for Trump to explain away his problems and undercut opponents."

Monday, December 2, 2019

Linkee-poo has had enough turkey already

I'll be over here in the corner hacking up a lung.

"Although there is enough expertise and knowledge to limit global warming, 'what is lacking is political will,' Guterres said. In order to combat the crisis, 'Our war against nature must stop,' he added. And that involves changing the old ways of doing things. 'We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions,' he said." We're boned.

"It's long been suspected but scientists can now show conclusively that thinning in the ring of floating ice around Antarctica is driving mass loss from the interior of the continent."

"Canada's vaping approach was based on a hypothesis — that the minority of Canadians who still smoked might switch to vaping… And today it's becoming clear that the utopian post-tobacco vision is not materializing the way it was imagined." Vaping is just a new way to create the next generation of nicotine addicts. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"However, if countertop-making businesses don't follow worker protection rules, cutting these slabs to fit customers' kitchens can release lung-damaging silica dust." And we all know how well companies follow safety regulations.

"Rolling back federal regulations has been a cornerstone of the Trump presidency. Now the administration has proposed rolling back some Obama-era rules for nursing homes and how they care for more than 1.3 million residents." Fuck no. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

So in Ohio we now have a law which requires doctors to "transplant" ectopic pregnancies to a woman's uterus. There is no known medical procedure (or even a process) that would make that feasible. It simply doesn't exist. You may thing that would be the height of the right-to-life idiocy. Here comes Pennsylvania telling Ohio to hold PA's beer. "Anti-abortion lawmakers in Pennsylvania want to pass a bill that would require health providers to arrange burials or cremations for all of a person's 'fetal remains,' which under the lawmakers' terms, includes fertilized eggs that never implanted in the uterus." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"But boarding in the ER affects much more than patients' state of mind. The American College of Emergency Physicians has identified boarding as one of the most important factors in ER overcrowding. And overcrowding, in turn, has been associated with everything from delays in administration of pain medication and antibiotics to longer inpatient stays, greater exposure to medical error, delayed treatment for heart attack and even increased mortality." Yes, this. And it's not unknown to have a patient in the ER for over 24 hours. These are mostly waiting for outpatient beds or treatment openings. Although there are several times patients have been cleared for admission, but sit in the ER waiting for hours until they're transferred in.

"A small relic of wood believed to be a fragment of the manger where Jesus was laid after his birth arrived in Bethlehem on Saturday, a gift from Pope Francis to help mark the start of the Christmas season." The veneration of relics has always been interesting to me.

"As U.S. corporate jet use approaches pre-financial crisis levels and chief executives take an increasing number of personal trips on the company tab, many investors are being kept in the dark about the true cost of the perk." Ah, the poor investor not knowing exactly how much the CEO is being compensated and how much tax deductions are being lost because they use the corporate jet for personal travel.

"Police said Khan then left the building and moved to London Bridge, where he continued his attack before being apprehended by bystanders, one armed with a narwhal tusk, another with a fire extinguisher. Videos of the attack posted online show Khan being sprayed by a fire extinguisher as another man jabs forward with the tusk." You just couldn't make that up.

"Ten people were shot in New Orleans' French Quarter early Sunday morning, according to police. NPR affiliate WWNO reports that shooting victims were taken to University Medical Center New Orleans and Tulane hospital and that two victims are in critical condition."

How go the Trade Wars? "President Donald Trump announced Monday that the US will 'restore' steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil and Argentina, citing a 'massive devaluation of their currencies.'"

"Spending on U.S. construction projects fell 0.8% in October, dragged down by declines in apartment and multi-family homebuilding."

"NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this year that the summit on Dec. 3 and 4 will give members the opportunity to address 'current and emerging security challenges and how NATO continues to invest and adapt to ensure it will remain a pillar of stability in the years ahead.'" And how to survive when the US is no longer a world leader.

"China will ban US warships and military aircraft from making stops in Hong Kong in the wake of Washington passing legislation supporting the territory's pro-democracy protesters, the country's Foreign Ministry said Monday." Tit meets tat.

"Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page who was mocked by Donald Trump for tweets she exchanged with her lover has spoken of her anguish at the president's "reprehensible" stunt at a rally in October." One being personally called out by the president.

Why is control of the courts important? "With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, there now are five conservative justices who may be willing to shut down many attempts at (gun) regulation, just as the NRA's lock on state legislatures may be waning."

"With the US deep in questions of impeachment, what lessons can we learn from divided societies abroad? This week, On the Media travels to Poland, where conspiracy, xenophobia and the rise of illiberalism have the country in an existential fight for its future. On the Media producer Leah Feder reports."

Again, the In The Media podcast, Purple Project, episode 3: "One of the reasons so many Americans have lost trust and faith is democratic institutions is simple misunderstanding about how the system is designed to work. Another, however, is familiarity with how the system does work— which isn’t exactly of, by and for the People. Anand Giridharadas is author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. He says the founders also didn’t plan on politicians constantly trash-talking government itself and that a decline in trust in government is the result of a concerted, private sector propaganda war waged over the last four decades."

"The rising stakes come as Republicans on Sunday launched a new offensive to destroy the legitimacy of the Democratic process by claiming that Trump's enemies are rushing the somber business of making him the third impeached President in order to dodge a voter backlash." Same crap, new wrapper.

Also, unsurprisingly, the Trump White House will not participate in the Judiciary Committee's look into impeachment. You would think they would at least want a lawyer in there.

"Ohio… Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the 'relatively unsophisticated' hacking attempt on Nov. 5 (of an election website), which was Election Day, originated in Panama but was traced to a Russian-owned company." Man, election hacking comes earlier and earlier every year. (Grokked from Michele)

"Professional trolls are good at their job. They have studied us. They understand how to harness our biases (and hashtags) for their own purposes. They know what pressure points to push and how best to drive us to distrust our neighbors. The professionals know you catch more flies with honey. They don’t go to social media looking for a fight; they go looking for new best friends. And they have found them." Waves to our Russian friends. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Facebook’s only Dutch factchecker has quit over the social network’s refusal to allow them to highlight political lies as being false." It's not that Facebook didn't learn or isn't aware, they are fully aware of what they're doing. And as long as the check clears, they're fine with it.

Annalee Newitz's NYT op-ed on the future of social media. At the great age I've obtained I've seen so many of these futures, which never actually appear. The problem with all these futures is they're normally top down driven, "Someone comes up with a bright idea…" kinds of solutions. It's a slow evolution and the only thing which progresses is the speed of processing. What I do see if an extendable social media presence. Twitter is almost, almost there. You can use other apps to read your timeline and exclude things you don't want to see (as long as you know how to block the correct terms). It was almost there with the blue check box. But then all of these things were subverted. Because there are multiple information wars going on. And as the old saying goes, when you're at a poker table if you can't tell who the sucker is, the sucker is you. (Grokked from John Scalzi among others)

"Vote totals in a Northampton County judge’s race showed one candidate, Abe Kassis, a Democrat, had just 164 votes out of 55,000 ballots across more than 100 precincts. Some machines reported zero votes for him. In a county with the ability to vote for a straight-party ticket, one candidate’s zero votes was a near statistical impossibility. Something had gone quite wrong." Turns out a paper audit showed he won. And as stated in the article, what if the glitch was only 10% of a vote? (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Facing shots over his planned pick for an open U.S. Senate seat, Gov. Brian Kemp’s inner circle unleashed a special type of vitriol against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida after he blasted the governor’s plans to select financial executive Kelly Loeffler." Usually this type of pissing match is reserved for intrastate and local politics. But not in Trump's party where loyalty is utmost on people's minds and the small minions of brown shirts are always willing to step into the fray. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Linkee-poo Black Friday Night

"This is the story of the Rinka family and what happened when tragedy befell them. It's a story that explores how the choices we prefer when we're healthy may no longer make sense to us when we're actually confronting death." The Hidden Brain podcast on our choices, the power of wanting to live, and the effect of those choices. When of sound mind, the choice can appear easy and clean. In the crux, though, choices start getting fuzzier.

"Astronomers have found a compact group of galaxies clustered around an active galaxy, and that central galaxy's black hole is so powerful it's blowing a wind that's causing star formation in the galaxies around it!"

"FRONTLINE investigates the promise and perils of artificial intelligence, from fears about work and privacy to rivalry between the U.S. and China. The documentary traces a new industrial revolution that will reshape and disrupt our lives, our jobs and our world, and allow the emergence of the surveillance society." It's one of their longer shows (almost 2 hours), but highly recommended. But again, we're taking the state-of-the-art and drawing the line behind us to declare we've arrived. This is not AI except by the loosest of definitions. Mostly it's allowing the computer machine learning to determine it's own dataset and process for very specific, and limited, functionality. But this show does a good job running out where we are, how fast the future is coming, and where it may be leading us.

"But an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found that, as Gov. Eric Holcomb sought to lure Amazon’s HQ2 to Indiana, state labor officials quietly absolved Amazon of responsibility. After Amazon appealed, they deleted every fine that had been levied and accepted the company’s argument — that the Amazon worker was to blame." There is a culture war, and we're losing. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Police said two people were killed in a stabbing near London Bridge on Friday afternoon that authorities are describing as a terrorist incident. A male suspect was shot and killed at the scene."

"The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the U.S. economy was expanding at a modest pace in October and early November, supported by growing consumer spending." I'll just note they don't give an actual number.

"The Commerce Department said Wednesday that consumer spending rose 0.3% last month, the best gain since a 0.5% rise in July." See, because they do have numbers.

"The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its pending home sales index, which measures the number of purchase contracts signed, fell 1.7% last month… Still, declining mortgage rates over time have lifted home sales. The index is up 4.4% from a year ago."

"An Indiana judge has canceled a trial challenging limits on the state’s religious objections law, finding conservative groups failed to prove they were harmed by changes the Republican-dominated Legislature approved shortly after then-Gov. Mike Pence signed it." But the religious groups feel they have been harmed because :: checks notes :: can't discriminate against gays, women, or any LGBTQ persons.

"After weeks in a makeshift refugee camp in the Mexican border town of Matamoros, Martinez knew he had to send 5-year-old Benjamin and 7-year-old Osiel without him. Benjamin had contracted bronchial pneumonia, and Martinez couldn't afford any more antibiotics." The changing face of asylum seekers, people who send their kids to the US alone.

"Mexico's Foreign Ministry is requesting a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after President Donald Trump told former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly he planned to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations." Words have meaning, and consequences.

"Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Friday he would step down following weeks of violent protests and a call for his ouster by the country's top Shia Muslim cleric."

"During a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to troops stationed in Afghanistan, President Trump said that his administration has reopened peace talks with the Taliban, nearly three months after he abruptly canceled them. Trump made the announcement at a rally staged at Bagram Airfield outside Kabul, where he exchanged handshakes and posed for photographs with U.S. troops."

"A former Deutsche Bank executive who signed off on several controversial loans to Donald Trump killed himself in his Malibu home earlier this month." Oddly, when I first heard about this I thought it was a retread of an old story, but it's not. This is not the first time an executive at Deutsche Bank, connected to loans to Donald Trump, has hung themselves. Add in Epstein, and you'd think the lunatic conspiracy fringe of the right would be adding 2 and 2 to get 22 and saying that Trump is having people bumped off. You know, like what they believe of the Clintons. (Grokked form Kathryn Cramer)

"President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied that he directed his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to go to Ukraine and seek out investigations on his behalf, contradicting his own words to the Ukrainian President in the White House released transcript of the July 25 call." It's getting crowded under that bus. And then there's Rudy's statement about having "insurance" in his safe for just such an emergency.

"Former Republican congressman Charlie Dent said Thursday some of his former colleagues in the House of Representatives have privately told him they are 'absolutely disgusted and exhausted by the President's behavior.'" Doesn't mean squat unless it's done in public. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Linkee-poo found an old puzzle somebody had quit, tried a few pieces and hoped that they fit

So tomorrow is a national holiday, don't expect updates until next Monday as I think I need a break for a little bit (now watch me post 6 things). If you celebrate, have a great day. Remember, family of choice is always an excellent option. If your family is difficult to be around, we see you. You aren't alone.

"A storm packing heavy snow and high winds that wreaked havoc as it whipped through Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska marched into the upper Midwest on Wednesday as anxious Thanksgiving travelers buckled up and barreled headlong into a busy, if not perilous, holiday week." Stay safe, peoples.

But on Jupiter, "Earlier this year, several amateur astronomers spotted an unusual anomaly on the planet Jupiter: bits of the gas giant's famed Great Red Spot appeared to be flaking off, raising fears that the planet's most identifiable feature might be showing signs of disappearing. But Philip Marcus, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, begs to differ."

"It can be hard to stay relevant in the ever-changing world of children's entertainment, but Highlights For Children magazine has lasted for generations by sticking to the formula of mixing fun with learning."

"Moscow-area farmers strapped modified VR headsets to cows to see if it improved their mood -- and, of course, their milk production. The project subjected cattle to a simulated summer field with colors tuned for the animals' eyes, giving them a decidedly more pleasing landscape than a plain, confining farm." We're really fucked up. (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

"Smith has never been diagnosed, but he thinks this was just another instance of sleep paralysis. Short Wave spoke with doctors who confirmed that Smith's symptoms are consistent with the disorder: complete immobility upon waking, a feeling of terror and occasionally, hallucinations."

"According to a new study published in the American Journal of Medicine, 42% of new cancer patients lose all of their life savings in two years because of treatment. The average amount a cancer patient lost was $92,098." In case you want to know why I fear a cancer diagnosis (other than what I have), it's this. I'm not afraid of the disease (fuck cancer). I'm afraid of how it will leave my spouse when I'm no longer here. (Grokked from Sarah Goslee)

"Mackin is using an MX908, a mass spectrometer initially marketed as a counterterrorism tool. The machine can help military teams looking for traces from biological or chemical weapons, or hazardous material specialists trying to identify materials used in spills or explosions. But now the MX908 has been commandeered in the fight against fentanyl, one of Boston's — and the nation's — top killers."

"A final tally of babies born in the U.S. last year confirms that the birth rate fell again in 2018, reaching the lowest level in more than three decades." Panic, consternation… Yes there are societal ramifications of this (examples in China and Japan), but hey, we have a lot of immigration that could solve those problems. All we need to do is be less racist.

Also, we're automating more. "On a recent night, the bar was quieter. Still, customer after customer strode up to a stainless steel wall lined with beer taps to insert a card, touch a screen and pour a glass of self-serve beer… No waitstaff. No waiting." I personally think this sucks, but I think back on some barcon experiences and think this may be good. Essentially, though it's about making the customer more of an employee.

How go the Trade Wars? "Chinese President Xi Jinping has had a 'horrible couple weeks' politically — and he’s not likely to sign a 'phase one' trade deal with U.S. President Donald Trump without any roll back in existing tariffs, one expert said." Show of hands, who think that'll happen?

How goes Brexit? "Labour says it has evidence the NHS would be at risk under a post-Brexit trade deal with the US… At a press conference in London, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he had a 451-page dossier showing initial talks had taken place on drug prices and the NHS."

Ohio's broken law enforcement system. "In 1993, Jeanette Crabb was raped in a field. She immediately reported her attack and got a sexual assault kit. Twenty years later, her kit was finally tested and there was a DNA hit. But, no one told her about that hit, until 5 On Your Side Investigators started asking questions." The result came back to late to actually prosecute the rapist. And even after promises to test all of them, there is a huge backlog of kits to be tested. (Grokked from Michele)

Meanwhile, in Texas, who needs regulations? "County Judge Jeff Branick says his emergency management coordinator is reporting to him (the explosion) is the TPC plant off Highway 366 in Port Neches, once known as Neches Butane."

"The border post, OP 247, offers a commanding view of this starkly beautiful area some 250 miles above the Arctic Circle. To the east, on the other side of the border, is a Russian observation post and a coast guard facility. Directly ahead, across the Barents Sea, is the small Norwegian island of Vardo, which houses a U.S.-funded military surveillance radar system." In case you're wondering why Russia may want a disorganized and weakened West. Waves to my Russian friends.

"Guardian analysis finds VDare and Red Ice TV among several outlets that are still on the platform despite Facebook’s promised ban." Shocked, not shocked.

Remember when I talked about how the conservative want to control the court as their last ditch effort to hold power long after the demographics of the country have changed? "In that opinion, Gorsuch suggested that current law risks giving agencies 'unbounded policy choices.' His explanation of what new limits he would impose on federal agencies is vague and it’s hard to find a clear legal rule in the opinion. Nevertheless, Gorsuch writes that a federal law permitting agencies to regulate must be '"sufficiently definite and precise to enable Congress, the courts, and the public to ascertain" whether Congress’s guidance has been followed.'" And there's the power grab. Fortunately it's only in a dissent, for now. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Senate Republicans voted Thursday to advance another of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, Justin Walker, who earned a rare and embarrassing 'not qualified' rating from the American Bar Association." The Republicans only care that they will be activist judges and will hold to the ideology of conservatism (as fostered, instilled, and enforced by the Federalist Society). (Grokked from Chip Dawes)

"In the latest case, the occupancy rate of the Trump Tower’s commercial space was listed, over three consecutive years, as 11, 16 and 16 percentage points higher in filings to a lender than in reports to city tax officials, records show." The president is a liar. And with this (the 3rd major property to show this disparity) he has the choice between saying he's a tax cheat (criminal and civil liability), or he lied on official documents to a bank (mostly civil, but possibly criminal liability). (Grokked form Laura J Mixon)

"This trip also marked his first official campaign visit as a permanent resident of Florida — a move partly designed to lower his taxes and partly to give the finger to New York, a city where he remains deeply unpopular among left-leaning voters — not to mention the city’s top political and legal officials who keep launching investigations into him and keep trying to track down his tax returns."

"President Donald Trump has made… Jared Kushner, the de facto project manager for constructing his border wall… according to current and former administration officials… The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser is pressing U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the process of taking over private land needed for the project… More than 800 filings to seize private property will need to be made in the coming months if the government is going to succeed, officials said." (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

"In addition to a lawsuit the House Oversight and Reform Committee filed Tuesday over redacted documents, two recent surprising turns of events have resurfaced questions about whether administration officials are holding on to potential evidence of the (Census) citizenship question's true origins."

"That result is being spun in some corners of the internet as great news for Trump, because that 50% number is unchanged from a CNN poll in mid-October, the conclusion being that the last 10 days of public impeachment hearings have not convinced more of the public that the President needs to go." It still means 50% want the president impeached AND removed.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "House Dem now sees no 'value' in impeachment, as polls show falling support among independents." Because 1 Democrat in the house said so.

About that "nobody said anything against the hold" of Ukrainian military support… "(Mark) Sandy also testified that another unnamed official at the OMB resigned. 'Yes, this individual did express frustrations,' he said. 'He expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold.'… In a further sign of pushback, the Pentagon raised concerns, Sandy added."

"But a New York Times report Tuesday night suggests Trump was briefed on the existence of the whistleblower in late August… That makes it all the more important to take his actions in early September in context."

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he thinks the U.S. should investigate a conspiracy theory — debunked by American intelligence services — that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee's computer server in 2016." There isn't enough eye-roll capability in the US for this. We may need Mexico's and Canada's help.

"The Texas Republican Party mistakenly sent a document laying out their upcoming 2020 primary and general election plans to Democrats Monday evening, including a target list of 12 statehouse districts they are focusing negative ads on ahead of next year's elections. In a move The Dallas Morning News described as the party's latest "bizarre political blunder," the internal strategy email offered advice on how to counter the 'narrative driven by Democrats' about the GOP's lack of diversity as well as a timeline for a rollout of websites which will bash specific Democratic opponents." Oopsie. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Linkee-poo gives you shelter from the storm

"Arctic researchers just starting out face an intriguing but unsettling reality: much of the sea ice that's covered the Arctic Ocean for thousands of years may rapidly melt away over their careers. In fact, some projections say the region may see its first ice-free summer in modern history by 2040." Let's see, last I knew 2040 is earlier than 2050, and much earlier than "by the end of the century." We're boned.

"However, this year's report describes more of a chasm than a gap. Global emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gasses have continued to steadily increase over the last decade. In 2018, the report notes that global fossil fuel CO2 emissions from electricity generation and industry grew by a mammoth 2%." Really boned.

"Weather forecasters pushing for strict limits on 5G’s rapidly growing footprint were dealt a blow today by the World Radiocommunication Conference in Egypt. Delegates there voted to create a new international standard that places much looser limits on interference from 5G operating in a specific radio frequency that’s crucial to accurate weather forecasting. Meteorology experts worry that this decision could one day seriously impact their ability to forecast severe storms, leaving communities around the world vulnerable to extreme weather events." All for a chance at better crappy internet service. Note that some parts of my commute I only get 3G service. And given the technical limits of 5G, more than likely it won't come out to us.

"Storms emit sounds before tornadoes form, but the signals at less than 20Hz are below the limit for human hearing. What causes these rumbles has also been a conundrum." Borborygmus?

It'll be safe, they said. It's the state-of-the-art technology they said. It's perfectly safe. "The amount of land impacted by an oil spill in North Dakota is almost 10 times larger than initially reported, officials say. The disclosure comes about a month after the Keystone 1 Pipeline leaked about 383,040 gallons of oil… TC Energy, the company that owns the pipeline, shut down it down on October 29 after discovering that the oil had leaked from the pipe into the surrounding wetlands. The pipeline was returned to service on November 10 following approval by the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, TC Energy says." It destroyed crucial habitat and poisoned waters. The Keystone XL cuts through the Ogallala Aquifer. If it spills there, we are fucked. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"Uganda has come up with a solution that goes back to basics with one of the world's original painkillers: morphine… The government mixes a powdered form of the drug with water to create a drinkable analgesic that officials say has provided patients with effective relief without giving rise to widespread addiction. Just as important, it's cheap." This is something big pharma doesn't want you to know, the older drugs still work and many newer drugs aren't as effective (although sometimes the reverse is true).

"A measles outbreak in the Pacific nation of Samoa has killed 22 people, nearly all children under five."

"A 63-year-old man in Germany has died after contracting a rare infection when he was licked by his dog."

"Earlier this year, (Texas) lawmakers from both parties came together on legislation to protect people in state-regulated health plans from getting outrageous bills for out-of-network care. The new law… creates an arbitration process for insurers and providers to negotiate fair prices in those cases. The intention of the law is to get to those fair prices without ever involving patients… But that protection is at risk of becoming 'irrelevant,' consumer advocates in Texas say." Who writes the rules is also very important.

"McDonald's has agreed to pay $26 million to settle a years-long legal battle with California cooks and cashiers who have accused the company of failing to properly pay them for their work and expenses." That's a nice way to say McD's ripped their employees off.

"Amazon subsidiary Ring, which makes home surveillance equipment and cameras, has 'partnerships' with more than 600 law enforcement agencies nationwide, allowing those police access to users' footage. And while Ring says it sets terms around how and when it will share that footage with police, anything the police do with it afterward is entirely out of its hands, the company says." All your face are belong to us.

"But looked at another way, the prospect of free tuition does inspire students to enroll in college who might not have considered it previously. A recent report found that 15% of Chilean students in the program would have otherwise not sought a college education. And Chileans who get free tuition are also slightly less likely to drop out than their classmates who don't, the government has found." Chile goes to (limited) free college.

"But economists say the dramatic proposals from Sanders and Warren to free millions of Americans from the burden of student debt could boost the economy in significant ways and help combat income inequality."

"A nonprofit student loan group is suing the nation's most powerful consumer watchdog agency. The lawsuit, first obtained by NPR, alleges that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has abandoned its obligation to oversee companies that manage student loans, in particular a troubled loan forgiveness program." You government, unable to work for you.

More guns make us safer. "The man charged with murder in the shooting death of Lowndes County Sheriff 'Big John' Williams appeared in court Monday morning… William Chase Johnson, 18, arrived escorted by four state troopers. He is the son of a sheriff's deputy in neighboring Montgomery County." He was asked why he was playing his music so loud, and then he shot the sheriff. But he didn't not kill the deputy.

"Russian athletes will have a chance to compete at next year’s Olympics, but their flag would not fly in Tokyo if the World Anti-Doping Agency approves a recommendation it received Monday." Waves to my Russian friends.

How go the Trade Wars? "Liu He, China’s top negotiator on trade, spoke with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday morning, China’s Ministry of Commerce said in an online statement."

"The watch towers, double-locked doors and video surveillance in the Chinese camps are there 'to prevent escapes.' Uighurs and other minorities held inside are scored on how well they speak the dominant Mandarin language and follow strict rules on everything down to bathing and using the toilet, scores that determine if they can leave." Just so you know the quality of those very fine people Trump is trying to get a deal with.

"Stocks ended higher Monday as the market’s rally to records resumed amid increasing expectations that China and the U.S. will reach a so-called phase one trade deal." Here we go, again.

"U.S. consumer confidence declined slightly for a fourth consecutive month, but it remains elevated with the holiday shopping season ramping up."

"The letter was from Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, and it accused Lemonade of stealing its trademark… But, oddly, the dispute wasn't over the name T-Mobile or even its logo or tagline. It was over a color. In this case, Pantone Rhodamine Red U, also known as magenta." Uh, yeah, Bob.

"General Motors is building a $175 million plant in Ohio to produce truck engine components that will employ about 100 people… Plant construction is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of next year in the Dayton suburb of Brookville." GM to Lordstown, "Fuck you."

"On November 22nd, roughly 200 Google employees and supporters rallied to protest the suspension of two colleagues, Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland, for allegedly accessing internal information they shouldn’t have in the course of their worker activism. Now, it appears Google has fired both those workers, as well as two other employees who participated in the rally." How much deeper are they going to bury "Do no evil"?

"More than a decade and a half after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, a new study found that babies are being born today with gruesome birth defects connected to the ongoing American military presence there. The report, issued by a team of independent medical researchers and published in the journal Environmental Pollution, examined congenital anomalies recorded in Iraqi babies born near Baghdad at Camp Taji, a base operated by the U.S.-led foreign military coalition. According to the study, babies showing severe birth defects — including neurological problems, congenital heart disease, and paralyzed or missing limbs — also had corresponding elevated levels of a radioactive compound known as thorium in their bodies." "Depleted" uranium rounds, they're a bitch. (Grokked from Ali A Olomi)

Oh look, after months of searching, they finally came up with a reason the president said the US wanted to buy Greenland. "The craggy hills surrounding the town are estimated to hold about a quarter of the world's rare earth minerals. With names such as cerium and lanthanum, rare earths contain key ingredients used in many of today's technologies — from smartphones to MRI machines, as well as electric cars and military jets."

"Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was 'flabbergasted' to discover that then-Navy Secretary Richard Spencer had been working a White House back channel to resolve a standoff over controversial Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher." Shocked, shocked they were to discover… Meanwhile I'll just note the silence of all those who like to trot out the "unit cohesion" and "force readiness" arguments whenever it comes to progressive issues. In this case, here is something that demoralizes the troops (Trump's pardons and interference in the chain of command decisions) and breaks down good order, and yet we hear crickets from them. Gallagher is not an "ultimate fighter", he's a cowboy and a criminal.

"'However busy or essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her from taking an action that the law requires,' Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote." Don McGahn must obey the subpoena and testify before Congress. And there goes the "executive privilege" argument. And yes, they're appealing to SCOTUS. They have until mid December to file their briefs. No kings or landlords.

"Louisiana senator John Kennedy, a key ally of President Trump, has meanwhile admitted he was wrong to push a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, who hacked a Democratic National Committee server in 2016." Now do it on Fox. And apparently to build the border wall, Trump went to Jareds.

Oh yes, the left is full of anti-semites. "Popular conservative Christian TV Host Rick Wiles warns his followers that the effort to impeach President Donald Trump is a 'Jew coup.'" Just dripping with them. (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

"President Donald Trump has been working to defend himself against the ongoing impeachment inquiry by citing polling he says shows support for impeachment is on the decline. While some polling does in fact show a decrease in support for impeachment, it is not 'dropping like a rock' as the president has claimed, nor have polls 'turned very strongly against Impeachment.'" Can't wait to see the Nielsen Overnights for this.

"The Supreme Court is shielding President Trump's financial records from House Democrats for now. On Monday, the court agreed to temporarily stay the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruling demanding that Mr. Trump's accounting firm, Mazars, hand over his tax and financial records to the House Oversight Committee… The high court's stay will remain in effect until December 5, the deadline it has given the president's legal team to file its appeal of the lower court's ruling." It's going to be a big Christmas for Trump's lawyers.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "'Democrats have been talking about impeachment since the very day that Trump was inaugurated, but until recently, no one here in Washington took that idea very seriously,' Carlson said on 'Tucker Carlson Tonight.' 'Suddenly, we had impeachment hearings playing out live on TV. Nobody explained why. Looking back, what exactly happened? Well, part of the answer is that Democrats were simply responding to their own cheerleaders on cable news.'"