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

Friday, December 15, 2017

Linkee-poo, do you hear what I hear

An emoji cheat sheet for a lot of social media outlets. (Grokked from Dan)

"The popular crowdfunding service Patreon has backed off plans to change its payment structure, after widespread, vocal and passionate opposition from creators and their fans."

"A cow in Philadelphia apparently wanted to be away from the manger, as it escaped twice Thursday morning from a church’s live nativity scene." Cows are wily, man.

"Ten years ago this month, you may not have noticed the cracking and crumbling under you." Ten years after the Great Recession and how things are different, but still the same.

"As avocados grow increasingly popular, more and more people are apparently cutting themselves. While there aren't any official, global figures on how many people accidentally hurt themselves this way, anecdotal reports abound." Avocado hand… because people don't understand how to prepare pitted fruit.

"The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan counted 728 alleged disappearances last year. Since 2001, the group estimates that up to 10,000 people have gone missing, with nearly 3,000 still unaccounted for. And this, says Zohra Yusuf, a commission board member, is a conservative estimate." And getting an official police report for one of those disappeared takes tenacity, perseverance, and sometimes shaming witnesses to tell the truth. While the disappearances started with grabbing al Qaeda and Taliban off the streets, as often happens the government took the opportunity to also silence critics. This is why in the fight against terrorism, you must adhere to the law and treat terrorists as outlaws. It is a goal of the terrorists to get the targeted government to break their own laws and principles.

"One of the (bank) drafts (for an inheritance), in the order of 846,650 Canadian dollars ($664,850), was destined for her brother… who hired UPS to ship it to his local store, 270 miles away from the family lawyer. The package never arrived… Ten months later, the Ontario family complained to the media that all UPS had offered by way of compensation was $32, representing the mailing costs." This is why you have insurance on shipping. Fortunately the bank became a little more reasonable (once it hit the media) and offered to reissue the draft. Two words, wire transfer.

There's a letter going around the Special Forces community talking about how the Green Berets are lowering their standards and admitting less-than-qualified soldiers. And that would be a problem if true. "The anonymous letter writer claims there's a reason the standards are being adjusted: To bring in female candidates, a view supported by one of the Green Berets contacted by NPR. The Pentagon allowed women to apply for Green Beret training two years ago. Only a handful have tried; None has passed." Nope, just your basic misogyny again saying that girls ruin everything.

"'Sorry for the interruption,' Pai said. 'We were acting on the recommendation of the Federal Protective Service. But we can now reconvene.'" Sounds more like personal paranoia. (Grokked from Rodney)

"But under current federal rules, any such tip sharing with kitchen staff must be voluntary, unlike tip pools with busboys and hostesses, which employers are allowed to mandate. As a result, the shared tips add only a few dollars to kitchen workers' pay, and Huffman often struggles to find qualified cooks and dishwashers… If the proposed Labor Department rule goes through, restaurant owners would have more control over tips and could redirect more money to kitchen workers." Or, you know, to themselves. The other option would be to increase the minimum wage, eliminate any exclusions, and end the practice of tipping altogether.

"Federal regulators voted on Thursday to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules for internet traffic — a major victory for telecommunications companies and another milestone for the Republican deregulation push under President Trump." We're back to the rule before 2015 when Comcast throttled Netflix, AT&T was throttling data for the "unlimited" plan, and other top level carriers were hitting up big sites for bribes, I mean payments for better connections to their customers. The Democratic Party really needs to set the debate here by hanging this albatross on conservatives (before the lawsuits are settled). This is the market conservatives want. So what happens now is a result of conservative ideologies.

"There's new — and shocking — evidence about the toll that health care costs are taking on the world's most vulnerable. A joint report pulished in the journal Lancet Global Health this week by the World Bank and the World Health Organization estimates that each year more than 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty in order to pay for health services…" Remember when most individual bankruptcies in the US were about healthcare costs? Don't worry it's still here (most bankruptcies include a significant amount of healthcare debt even if it isn't the "major" cause of the bankruptcy).

"He says he is among a handful of American doctors who went north to practice in Canada's single-payer system. Now he doesn't worry about whether his patients can afford treatment. 'Everyone gets a basic level of care,' he says, which lets him focus on their medical needs instead of their finances." On the differences in healthcare between the US and Canada. And while Canadians don't have prescription coverage, their actual prescriptions cost less (note how many in the US go to Canada and the prevalence of "Canadian" pharmacies advertising their webs services in the US). But if you want to cut medical costs, one obvious way it to stop all the paperwork involved with healthcare (because of different insurance requirements/coverages, the precerts, the resubmission of forms because of "improper" coding).

"Scientists have discovered hundreds of huge craters—some over 3,000 feet wide—on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. The craters in the Barents Sea, north of Norway and Russia, formed through huge mounds full of methane exploding suddenly and catastrophically, thousands of years ago… Scientists say the discovery could help explain why so many craters have appeared in Siberia over recent decades, with the same processes causing these explosive events." Note, methane is 10x more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere. We're boned. (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

Sure you can trust the police. "The headline stated, 'New Jersey police chief says black people "have no value" and should all be executed.' A federal criminal complaint states that Nucera expressed those opinions; the case is pending. Because there hasn't been a final determination made by a court, we rate this claim Mostly True." You know, because there's an audio recording.

Fact checking the president's "closing arguments" for the tax cuts. Again, if this were actually a middle-class tax cut those cuts would be permanent and the corporate tax cuts would expire. Instead the conservatives are making an appeal to greed. This is the classic tactic of the con-man. Also, no business hires more people because they have more money. They only hire people because of demand and need.

"Yentel says for decades there's been this bedrock funding mechanism that's helped millions of affordable housing units get built. It's called a 'private activity bond.' And it allows banks and other companies to get a tax break if they invest in affordable housing construction… In the House version of the tax bill, these bonds lose their tax exempt status."

So according to Paul Ryan we're a bunch of slackers or we not pushing out enough babies. That's some deep mind fuckery right there. But what he's doing is preparing the ground for entitlement cuts (what he'll call "reform"). See earlier links about what Democrats need to start doing. Here is an example, Ryan is seeding and building the frame for his push to cut Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security (even though these programs are not in immediate danger, nor do they contribute to the deficit).

And then there's rumors that Paul Ryan is not long for Congress. It's a long article but with a lot of inside baseball about the machinations in the House GOP.

The Planet Money podcast about Trump SoHo and Felix Sater. Or, why Mueller is interested in the Trump finances and a part of what he may be sniffing around at.

"CNN reported in mid-July that Strzok had joined Mueller's team, but his time there was short-lived. He was removed after Mueller learned on July 27 about a stockpile of text messages exchanged between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page through November 2016 in which the pair dreaded Trump winning the election… People who worked with Strzok describe him as a seasoned agent who never allowed political opinions to influence his work. His role as a leader in the Clinton email investigation was overseen by top FBI officials, some with Republican political leanings, and the prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, who helped oversee the investigation included Republicans, according to current and former officials close to the matter." This is only an issue if you have no idea how investigations are conducted, he was removed from the investigation within a few weeks and (I'm assuming) shortly after Meuller was made aware of the texts. This is because Meuller is old school and knows that any hint of impropriety will be jumped on, like it is being jumped on now.

"The Justice Department says that it did not authorize the early release of anti-Trump text messages between two FBI officials to the media." Oopsie. Well, someone is certainly leaky these days. I wonder who it might be? "The Justice Department's inspector general came across the texts during an assessment of the FBI's handling of the Clinton investigation… The new Justice Department statement comes after it said earlier Thursday that it had invited a group of reporters to its offices to view the messages prior to Rosenstein's testimony."

"President Trump's daily intelligence updates are reportedly set up oftentimes in an effort not to displease him." As you should know by now the PDB is tailored to everyone who has sat in the Oval Office (from a full on debrief to bulleted lists).

"President Trump is traveling to Quantico, Va., on Friday to speak with an unlikely audience: the latest graduating class at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy for law enforcement managers." Awkward.

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