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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Linkee-poo no rest for the weary

"Dolly Parton made a special appearance Tuesday in Washington D.C., not only to celebrate a huge milestone for her book-giving literacy program, but also to launch a new venture with the nation's largest library."

"Humanity’s romantic notion that extraterrestrial life might be lurking just beyond our reach has been dealt a serious blow. A new study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters reveals that Earth’s closest exoplanet neighbor, Proxima B, was recently slammed by a colossal stellar flare that bombarded the planet with radiation. That’s obviously not great news for the possibility of life thriving there, and any organisms that call the planet home would not have had a pleasant few days." No wonder they're not returning calls.

"Today we have Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt. Zinke has already slashed the size of two beautiful national monuments and gotten in trouble over his travel habits. Scott Pruitt, meanwhile, has been busy rescinding the Clean Power Plan and getting in trouble over his travel habits—and much more. In fact, Pruitt is so bad that Rebecca Leber’s profile of him, “Making America Toxic Again,” is on the cover of our current issue." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"But in interviews, school employees who traveled from across the state to Charleston said the fight was about much more than their paychecks. West Virginia is one of the few U.S. states with a falling population. As the state grapples with a severe teacher shortage, many educators worry their younger peers will continue to flee for greener pastures, with long-term consequences for successive generations of students." Unions are often fighting for more than money. Unions look at the long-term success of the business and employees. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Late news, strike has been resolved. Teachers are getting the 5% pay raise.

"The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that more than 100 students at Riverview Gardens High School participated in the walkout. However, school officials told students they wouldn’t be allowed to return to campus or ride school buses home if they took part in the protests." Whelp, there's a lawsuit.

Christians love Israel. "The Jerusalem Municipality announced on Tuesday that is will halt its church property tax collection efforts in light of a decision that was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mayor Nir Barkat to form a commission to find a solution to the issue." The tax was levied against churches that weren't "houses of prayer." Funny thing, the Church of the Holy Sepulture, which encloses Golgotha and "Jesus' Tomb" (which is convenient and is also headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem), is more of a administrative/tourism site. So, yeah, they were going to tax the property which lead to the church closing its doors.

"Ambassador Joseph Yun, the special representative for North Korea Policy, is retiring this week after more than 30 years in the Foreign Service." I'm sure it'll be fine. How hard can talks with North Korea be? I mean, probably anyone could set up back channel communications with the Hermit Kingdom.

"A man… who spent his time trying to improve his neighborhood was shot to death on Monday while streaming on Facebook Live, authorities said."

"Now Alabama and several other states are considering doing away with marriage licenses altogether. Alabama's legislation comes after the state became a flashpoint in the debate over same-sex marriage." Remember when anti-same-sex-marriage people were all about how "civil unions" were the "same thing", except in the eyes of the law they aren't. Apparently that didn't get through. "(Democratic State Rep. Merika Coleman is) concerned the new system might not be recognized by other states or the federal government… 'Specifically on Social Security and with military benefits they ask for a marriage license,' she says. 'They do not ask for a marriage contract.'"

"The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that immigrants, even those with permanent legal status and asylum seekers, do not have the right to periodic bond hearings." So what the court is saying is the Constitution is just for "citizens." Note the arguments about how once we start defining who has rights and who doesn't it gets real easy to deny more people their rights. Also note the use of certain political organizations claim on who is a "real American" and who they leave out.

"Top-secret intelligence requested by President Barack Obama in his last weeks in office identified seven states where analysts — synthesizing months of work — had reason to believe Russian operatives had compromised state websites or databases… Three senior intelligence officials told NBC News that the intelligence community believed the states as of January 2017 were Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin." The cat is on the roof. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has lost the top-level security clearance he has been using on an interim basis to do his work inside the White House, according to reports on Tuesday." He still has a lower security clearance that allows him access to some classified information. I wonder how many times that will be violated before he's finally shown the door. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"President Trump put California on notice in a tweet on Wednesday that he wouldn’t complete his much-promised wall on its border until the entire barrier was erected – even though the state’s attorney general said the 'medieval' structure has no place in the '21st century.'" Lawsuits for everybody. Dear Gen. Kelly, you've got to get a grip on your boy.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested more than 150 people since the weekend in the greater San Francisco Bay Area who they say were in violation of federal immigration laws during activity, ICE officials announced Tuesday. The numbers came from a press release issued by officials, CBS San Francisco reports." Just a note that when the ICE press release says, "… about half of the individuals arrested also had past criminal convictions in addition to their immigration violations, including convictions for assault and battery, crimes against children, weapons charges and DUI" a more careful study of ICE's numbers from other press releases show the overall majority of these "convictions" are traffic violations (speeding, failure to come to a complete stop, broken tail lights, driving without a license). Did I ever link to that On The Media segment?

"The Department of Housing and Urban Development spent more than $31,000 on a new table and chairs for the dining room adjacent to Secretary Ben Carson's office — revelations that came just months after an official that warned against high expenses was moved to a new role within the department." Apparently he need a really comfy chair. Who's the elite? Also there's a little bit of a punishment of the whistleblower and some other ethics issues going on.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Linkee-poo has no time to find a lyric

"It has been exhausting work that has often taken away from my own writing and time with my family, and as of March 1st I will no longer host and maintain the Sensitivity Reader database as part of Writing in the Margins." I can't argue with her reasons, but fuck. Look, be professional and kind to other people. That's really all it takes. (Grokked from DongWon Song)

"A good photo can let you see the world in ways you never dreamed of."

"On Feb. 25, that weather station remained above freezing for about 24 hours, which is virtually unheard of during February, when there is no sunlight reaching the ground there… Arctic sea ice in the Bering Sea and to the north of Greenland actually declined during February, a time when sea ice usually expands toward its seasonal maximum in early to mid-March." We're boned.

Sure there's no war against women being waged by the GOP. "Roy Moore, the Republican who lost the Alabama Senate election after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers, is backing a Missouri GOP Senate candidate who calls feminists 'nasty' and 'snake-filled.'" I mean, it only looks like that from the outside.

"The American Civil Liberties Union accused the U.S. government on Monday of unlawfully separating a Congolese woman and her 7-year-old daughter by holding them in different immigration facilities, two time zones apart, after they sought asylum four months ago." What our nation has become. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Delta — now being pressured to reinstate its relationship with the NRA, or lose out on tens of millions of dollars in breaks from Georgia taxpayers — did not respond to a request for comment." Dear Georgia government and taxpayers, because of that action you've now opened yourself to a lawsuit where Delta may gain more from a settlement than they would have from the tax breaks. It's called "coercion". And using your state office to either punish or reward a company for behavior unrelated to government cooperation or for personal gain (or loss in the case of punishment) is illegal, as I'm sure you're about to learn (IANAL so I may be speaking out of my ass at the moment, but I seem to remember this as a part of my government training). So punishing Delta for not offering you an NRA discount, as stated in both social media and to other media outlets, is actionable behavior.

The scientists say the move toward beech-heavy forests is associated with higher temperatures and precipitation. They say their 30-year study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Ecology, is one of the first to look at such broad changes over a long time period in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada… Beech, often used for firewood, is of much less commercial value than some species of birch and maple trees that can be used to make furniture and flooring." We're boned.

"Automakers are watching closely as the Trump administration tries to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the latest round of talks is under way in Mexico City this week." Ending NAFTA could upset the American Car Industry? Why that's unpossible. "Even if the administration got everything it wanted, (Monica de Bolle, an economist with the Peterson Institute for International Economics) says, bringing factory jobs back to the U.S. would take several years. And if the jobs do come back from Mexico, she says, they would likely be done by robots."

"When it comes to Russia, Americans have more trust in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation than they do in President Trump's denials of collusion, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds." And it's pretty damn close on the question of if that meddling altered the outcome of the election. (Grokked from John)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Linkee-poo but whenever Monday comes you can find me crying all of the time

Hip hinging, the secret of bending so you don't hurt your back.

"Only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood. And as many as 2 in 3 depressed teens don't get the care that could help them… To address this divide, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued updated guidelines this week that call for universal screening for depression." I think this is a good idea, but only if it's coupled with general education. Having "Big D" depression is still widely misunderstood. Heck, I had a discussion at the hospital just last week attempting to correct some of my coworkers misperceptions (they still thought clinical depression was just being sad for a long time). There's still a big stigma of being diagnosed with depression (and it also qualifies as a "pre-existing condition" for insurance). Also this will only work if you can disable the helicopter parent (who may try to fill out the questionnaires for the kids).

"A 40-year-old Supreme Court decision is on life support at the nation's highest court, and the expected outcome could further undermine an already shrinking union movement." Remember how conservatives are all up in arms about courts "rewriting laws"? Nope, they're perfectly for it when it advances their agenda. But here's my take on it (besides it should be thrown out, unless you actually rewrite the laws and say the unions contacts don't apply to those who choose not to be in the union - i.e. they have to negotiate their own employment agreement, and the union won't take their side in a complaint), if it's a 1st Amendment right to not pay dues because that money can't be separated out from the general union funds so that it's not paying for political speech that the non-union member may disagree with (note, not all union members agree with the political stance of the union they belong to), then it should also be fair game for a tax payor to withhold taxes if the government is spending money on priorities and politics they disagree with.

"The Trump administration unleashed a flood of outrage earlier this month after unveiling a proposal to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps. The plan would replace half the benefits people receive with boxed, nonperishable… foods chosen by the government and not by the people eating them… Among those horrified at the thought: American Indians who recognized this as the same type of federal food assistance that tribes have historically received, with devastating implications for health." It's been tried before. It doesn't work and it doesn't save overall costs.

"Sales of new U.S. homes fell in January for the second straight month, possibly dragged down again by bad weather." Also, there's a dearth of new homes on the market.

The partisan divide continues to grow as Sen. Feinstein fails to gain the California Democratic Party endorsement. "While the lack of an endorsement certainly won't keep Feinstein off the ballot, it's a sign that grass-roots Democrats are eager to supplant leaders who are seen as too moderate and willing to compromise."

"In red, blue or purple states, in middle America or on the coasts, most Americans loathe the nation’s legislature. One big reason: Most think lawmakers are listening to all the wrong people, suggests a new study by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California-Santa Barbara with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research." But people still approve of their own congressperson, which means we're still stuck in this rut.

"Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been criticised after telling a girl in military uniform that she would be honoured if killed while fighting… 'If she's martyred, they'll lay a flag on her,' he told the sobbing girl at a televised congress of his AK party." Erdogan is the world worst birthday clown.

The supposedly defeated Boko Haram kidnaps another school's worth of children.

"Russian military spies hacked hundreds of computers at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, The Washington Post reported Saturday… According to the report, the Russian agents attempted to place the blame on North Korea, planting false evidence to make it look like the country had done the hacking." (Grokked from Joy Reid)

Let's give everyone guns, what could go wrong? "Police in Amarillo shot an innocent man who helped foil a possible church shooting… Police said Joshua Len Jones, 35, of Amarillo, barged into a church building at Faith City Mission, pulled out a gun and was holding about 100 congregants and church staff hostage… In the time between when police were dispatched and when officers arrived, a handful of churchgoers wrestled Jones to the ground. One of the congregants was able to grab Jones' gun… Officers entered the building and saw the churchgoer holding the gun and opened fire, according to the Amarillo Police Department." (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

"President Donald Trump says his administration has ended more unnecessary regulations than any previous administration. In response to his orders, the Transportation Department has withdrawn, repealed, delayed or put on the back burner at least a dozen significant safety rules, according to an Associated Press review of the department’s regulatory actions over the past year." Who need safety?

"Then, on Saturday, committee Democrats released a rebuttal giving their perspective on the story — or at least part of it… Even though the countermemo is incomplete, it includes several points of interest that advance the never-ending story of the Russia imbroglio."

"Ivanka Trump says she believes her father’s denials of sexual misconduct, arguing that questions to her on the topic are 'pretty inappropriate.'" Dear Ivanka, are you still a "Senior Advisor" to the president (even if he's your father)? If so, the question is entirely appropriate especially since you're also promoting yourself as "an advocate of women and families within the administration." We didn't choose you for the role, your father (and yourself) did.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Linkee-poo Sunday frumpery

"Arizona's earliest residents grew teparies for thousands of years, but in recent history, the beans were at risk of shriveling into obscurity." A story about why biodiversity is important without actually saying biodiversity.

"Our findings indicate that e-cigarettes are a potential source of exposure to toxic metals (Cr, Ni, and Pb), and to metals that are toxic when inhaled (Mn and Zn). Markedly higher concentrations in the aerosol and tank samples versus the dispenser demonstrate that coil contact induced e-liquid contamination." No, vaping isn't more healthy for you.

"Cybercrime is expanding beyond computers and cellphones. Cars, washers and dryers, and even toasters are going online — an evolution of technology called the Internet of things… Samy Kamkar, a felon who knows how to hack these things, may be the best person to help us understand all the possibilities for crime as we move toward a fully connected world." Which is why I try to avoid buying "connected" devices that really don't need to be connected.

"Tens of thousands of years ago, the first artists painted images on the walls of caves. They collected, painted and ground holes in shells, presumably to wear. It was the very first art, created by what we call 'modern humans,' or Homo sapiens… Except, it turns out that some of that cave art may have been created by Neanderthals — our ancient and, by evolutionary standards, failed cousins. At least, that's what a team of scientists is now claiming." Turns out Neanderthals weren't so brutish after all. Paintings, jewelry, game pieces, hunting technology, advanced stone tool making, and evidence of funerary practices have all come to light in the past 10 years.

"On the afternoon of Feb. 20, detectives investigated a report of terroristic threats at the school, where they learned that a student had been completing a math problem that required drawing the square-root sign… Authorities also wrote there was no evidence the student had any intent to commit harm… 'The student used extremely poor judgment in making the comment, but in light of the actual circumstances, there was clearly no evidence to support criminal charges,' the (Police) department wrote, adding that the school board had been contacted to determine any disciplinary action for the student." So a big ado about nothing, but hey, let's discipline the kid anyway. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"When the Trump administration released its latest budget proposal on Feb. 11, fans of human space exploration were dismayed to learn that it included plans to end America’s involvement in the International Space Station." Remember when people were all happy about Trump's plan to expand human exploration and go back to the Moon? Yeah, would you like tires with that used car?

"An extremely rare cardinal has birders and biologists flocking to Shelby County, Alabama this week, as images of a yellow cardinal have circulated around social media." Keeps from making "canary in a coal mine" joke. "'Songbirds like cardinals almost never consume red pigments; rather they consume abundant yellow pigments,' Hill said. 'So, to be red, cardinals have to biochemically convert yellow pigments to red.'" The world is weirder than you thought (oh, and venous blood isn't blue, that's from the light refraction of your skin). (Grokked from John)

"The only armed sheriff’s deputy at a Florida high school where 17 people were killed took cover outside rather than charging into the building when the massacre began, the Broward County sheriff said on Thursday. The sheriff also acknowledged that his office received 23 calls related to the suspect going back a decade, including one last year that said he was collecting knives and guns, but may not have adequately followed up." Because taking cover is an appropriate response. Also, you'd probably be surprised by how many "tips" law enforcement receives on a number of issues. As the saying goes, for prevention of terrorism the government needs to be lucky every single time, the terrorist only needs to be lucky once.

"State legislators in Florida came together on Wednesday — the same day student activists gathered outside the House chamber in Tallahassee to demand stricter gun laws, one week after the school massacre in Parkland — to pass a measure related to schools, but not guns. HB 839 would require every public school in Florida to display 'in a conspicuous place' the state motto, 'In God We Trust.'" I'm sure that will help. Next up, kevlar-vests are too expensive I suggest we give police officers "spiritual armor." That should work just as well. Also pointed to demonstrate that while one party seems to have a lock on stupidity, it's not a complete cornering of the market and there is idiocy on both sides. "'Daniels said she had a vision earlier in the week, "I believe it was God, and I heard a voice say, "Do not politicize what has happened in Florida and do not make this a thing of division."'" I'm sure God would have something different to say about children being killed. Are you sure you weren't on the phone to the NRA, Rep. Daniels? (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

Tweet of my heart: @MrFilmkritik You know, when I said I wanted the real world to be more like Harry Potter I just meant the teleportation and the magic stuff, not the entire plot of book 5 where the government refuses to do anything about a deadly threat so the teenagers have to rise up and fight back. (Grokked from Mary Robinette Kowal)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Linkee-poo Friday dump

Arm the teachers, arm everybody, it's the only way to be safe. "Most of this research—and there have been several dozen peer-reviewed studies—punctures the idea that guns stop violence. In a 2015 study using data from the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University reported that firearm assaults were 6.8 times more common in the states with the most guns versus those with the least. Also in 2015 a combined analysis of 15 different studies found that people who had access to firearms at home were nearly twice as likely to be murdered as people who did not." And then I remember the teacher who threatened me after I saw him slam another kid into a locker for no reason except the teacher was pissed and the kid was moving too slow for him. (Grokked from Chang)

"But the hard part came next: trying to catch the rocket's falling nose cone with a big net on a ship in the ocean." Wut?!

"Ryan Reynolds just shut down a troll who criticized Make-A-Wish kids visiting 'Deadpool' set." After I saw Reynold in Deadpool I commented that I think he finally found the comic book hero he was meant to play. I say it again now. Fuck cancer. (Grokked from George Takei)

"An ex-Google engineer has sued his former employer, claiming that he was wrongfully terminated as a result of expressing his politically liberal opinions—which included opposing harassment and white supremacy—on internal message boards." Maybe he could go in with the guy that was fired for espousing that women weren't good enough in some kinda class action? (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Teachers across West Virginia walked off the job Thursday amid a dispute over pay and benefits, causing more than 275,000 students to miss classes even as educators gathered at the state Capitol in Charleston."

"Paying attention to the quality of the food is more effective for weight loss than religiously counting calories, according to a new study."

Sure there's no war against women. "The State Department is reportedly cutting back language regarding women's rights and discrimination in a report that will be released in the future… Officials at the department have been told to trim parts of the annual report on global human rights that talk about family planning and the amount of access women have to contraceptives and abortion, Politico reported, citing five former and current officials." They're changing the title of the section from "Reproductive Rights" to "Coercion in Population Control." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A review of data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration shows 1,001 more U.S. coal jobs last year compared with 2016, although energy analysts say the reasons are short term and have nothing to do with White House policies."

We don't need no stinkin' regulations. "Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is connecting the dots on how conservative politicians’ hatred of regulation isn’t just failing their constituents on guns, but on a whole host of public safety issues." Conservative policies and ideology leads to more deaths and injuries. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The lead U.S. Agency tasked with granting citizenship to would-be Americans is making a major change to its mission statement, removing a passage that describes the United States as a nation of immigrants. In an email sent to staff members Thursday and shared with The Intercept, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna announced the agency’s new mission statement." There's more to it than just that, but yeah. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, sent a tweet on Wednesday in which he sarcastically called on Russian bots to help an article he had linked to go viral." We already knew he was an ass, he can stop trying so hard. (Grokked from Cherie Priest)

"Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim's body that are roughly the size of the bullet. If the bullet does not directly hit something crucial like the heart or the aorta, and they do not bleed to death before being transported to our care at a trauma center, chances are, we can save the victim. The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body." One of the CEUs I took this past year was on imaging of gun shot wounds. Yes this. Cavitation causes most of the damage. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Linkee-poo is just trying to get through the day

The "father of the internet" and William Gibson. A pretty good explanation of how near-future SF works.

"In the first-ever report on the extent and impact of cooperation between courts and the private debt collection industry nationwide, the American Civil Liberties Union found courts in 26 states and Puerto Rico in which judges issued arrest warrants for alleged debtors at the request of private debt collectors." Debtors' Jail is illegal in the US (even though it's perpetuated in the form of cash bail).

"The U.S. women's hockey team owns Olympic gold for the first time in 20 years, after breaking Canada's remarkable streak of success in a gripping final at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The only previous U.S. win had come in the tournament's first year, in 1998." And yet all we heard about was the gnashing of teeth over the men's team not making it.

"Last summer, 53-year-old Jeff Murphy was hiking in Yellowstone National Park when he disappeared. Park investigators found his body on June 9, where Murphy had fallen 500 feet from Turkey Pen Peak, after accidentally stepping into a chute… But he wasn't on just any hike. He was looking for a treasure box of gold and jewels worth up to $2 million, buried somewhere in the Rocky Mountains by an eccentric millionaire named Forrest Fenn."

"Most voters aren’t noticing more money in their paychecks under the new tax law, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll… Just a quarter of registered voters, 25 percent, say they have noticed an increase in their paycheck, the poll shows. A majority, 51 percent, say they have not."

"A New York congressman this week proposed a bill to allow the federal government to revoke the citizenship of naturalized U.S. citizens within ten years if they are involved in gang activity." Only someone who doesn't understand citizenship would propose such a bill. Of course it came from a Republican. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

Also from New York… "Many mass murders are perpetrated by Democrats, New York Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney said Wednesday in a radio discussion on gun control following the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school." Such nice people. (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

"Rubio was joined by Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., started by answering parents and students at the event in Sunrise… Rubio was the lone Republican lawmaker on the panel, as CNN's Jake Tapper said both President Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott declined invitations to attend." I don't especially like Rubio, but he gets points for at least showing up.

"Donald Trump Jr. says he was impressed by the poor people of India… 'I think there is something about the spirit of the Indian people that is unique here to other parts of the emerging world. You go through a town ... and, I don't want to be glib but you can see the poorest of the poor and there is still a smile on a face. ... I know some of the most successful people in the world and some of them are the most miserable people in the world.'" How the rich see the rest of the world. Wouldn't it be great if American poor people smiled more?

"Why didn't then-President Barack Obama stop Russia's campaign of active measures against the 2016 presidential campaign?" A little fact checking. Also, remember when Clinton stood on stage and told us that Trump was a Russian puppet? Also, "Obama administration officials have said they worried about appearing to put their thumb on the scales for Clinton." And that was a very big fear as the right-wing media had already rolled out conspiracy theories that this was already happening.

"A woman in Florida who unknowingly posted messages in support of events promoted by Russia-linked trolls during the 2016 US presidential campaign denied she had been duped by the Kremlin operatives." Misses the point by saying everyone who showed up at the event she helped promote (which was instigated by the Russians) was a Trump supporter. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Linkee-poo will see what tomorrow brings

Billy Graham has shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to meet his maker. I hope she explains it all over tea. Tea is good. I find myself ambivalent about the elder Graham (his son is a different matter). While I disagree with much of his theology, and he did push his own beliefs at others, I never felt that he demanded acceptance of those beliefs in the way others of his ilk have (or some of his more militant followers). Compare and contrast this with Jerry Falwell.

The Rapture has come. Today was the pre-millennialist dream, but it was only for Russian bots. "Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the #MAGA brigade, as they howl in despair after half their Twitter followers vanished overnight." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Fifty years ago Monday, when Fred Rogers showed up on national public television as the host of what then was a brand new children's show called Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, TV was a lot different. PBS wasn't even a network then — not by that name, anyway — and aside from CBS, NBC and ABC, there were only a few independent local channels to watch, if that."

"Three billion miles away on the farthest known major planet in our solar system, an ominous, dark storm – once big enough to stretch across the Atlantic Ocean from Boston to Portugal – is shrinking out of existence as seen in pictures of Neptune taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope." You might still want to keep an umbrella in your car.

"Doctors in China lead race to treat cancer by editing genes." China has a simpler system for human testing which is not always better.

"An outside legal review of NPR's handling of allegations against its former top news executive, Michael Oreskes, found that questions were raised about his behavior toward women even before he was hired. And concerns about misconduct were reportedly flagged throughout Oreskes' 2 1/2-year tenure at the network right up to the day he was fired."

"But AT&T has been working to push its timeline just that little bit faster than everyone else, and as of today, we have our first concrete promise: Atlanta, Dallas and Waco, Texas, will be the first of 12 markets that should get AT&T’s mobile 5G by the end of the year. Although we’ve had promises about 5G trials coming soon, these are the first cities to be promised real, mobile 5G by the end of the year." Looks like I'm going to have to buy the White Album again. Actually, it'll probably not get to us (where we're at now) until I retire.

"A satirical movie that envisions dictator Benito Mussolini staging a comeback opened in Italy just as the campaign for March 4 general elections was getting underway. It has received rave reviews." The new elections will possibly see avowed fascists take some seats.

"It's a conservative corner of northwest Georgia where Donald Trump won more than 70 percent of the vote. But even here, some employers are nervous that the Trump administration's immigration policies will make it harder to find enough workers." Conservatives are funny. They're all about stopping abortion, except their own, which is totally justified and needed. They're also all about deporting undocumented immigrants, except the ones they need to hire to keep their businesses running (and not pay a lot in wages).

"Loomer has been increasingly desperate for validation from her conservative media counterparts after her anti-Muslim Twitter meltdown and her effort to portray the FBI’s investigation into the Las Vegas mass shooting as a government cover-up caused some to distance themselves. So last week, when Infowars rolled out a combination of conspiracy theories about the Florida shooting, claiming that globalists ordered the shooting to cover up the FISA memo and insisting that the shooting was the 'perfect false flag,' it provided an opportunity for Loomer to once again appear on the scene of a mass shooting and pull her signature stunt of harassing public officials with conspiracy theory nonsense." What wonderful people. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The wife of Kentucky state Rep. Dan Johnson, who killed himself last year amid allegations of sexual assault, has lost a bid to succeed her late husband. The special election returned the seat to Linda Belcher, whom Dan Johnson had unseated."

"Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, prompting an internal struggle with John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, over who should be allowed to see some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, according to White House officials and others briefed on the matter." It doesn't take a year for the security clearance. That Jared doesn't have a permanent (as these things go) clearance means the intelligence agencies (including the FBI) will never clear him.

"Russian police have reportedly arrested a man who has claimed to be a worker at a so-called troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, hours after he gave interviews to foreign journalists and lifted the lid on a secretive organization the U.S. Department of Justice last week accused of trying to undermine the 2016 presidential election." The first rule of Troll Farm… Stay safe, my Russian friends. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Linkee-poo if I had a heart I could love you

"Over the last few days, users have posted false claims that they were attacked by blacks while going to see 'Black Panther,' the first movie from Marvel Studios led by a predominantly black cast." Remember that guy that carved letters into his cheek, only to forget about the mirror image effect? It's that again, only in this case they're not even willing to beat themselves up about it.

"Europe has seen a big surge in measles cases in 2017, which the World Health Organization says is a tragedy after a record low of 5,273 cases in 2016… Cases increased four-fold, with more than 20,000 people affected and 35 deaths." Whispers, "it's also on the rise in the US."

"Among adults 55 and younger, women may be more likely than men to experience lesser-known acute heart attack symptoms in addition to chest pain, a new study has found… And more than half of the doctors seeing women who seek care for those symptoms, prior to being hospitalized, might not even realize that the symptoms are heart-related, the study suggests." I can't tell you how many times I've had to assure people that it was the right decision to come to the ER (even though most are not heart attacks). I've seen enough people come in on the Lucas. You do not want that.

There's trouble, my friend. Trouble right here in the UK. With a capital T that rhymes with C and that stands for chicken. "Until 13 February, KFC's chicken was delivered by specialist food distribution group Bidvest… But after the contract switched to DHL, many of the food giant's outlets began running out of chicken products." How's that union busting going for ya, KFC?

"Theresa May surpassed nine reports proving immigration has little effect on employment or wages." Conservatives gonna conservatate or something like that. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"One of the most common themes among the Fox fans was that the students were being paid by a shadowy left-wing donor to speak out, while other commenters accused the students of swallowing too many Tide Pods." Fox News is not sending us their best… (Grokked from Elizabeth Bear)

"Large majorities of Americans say neither President Donald Trump nor Congress are doing enough to try to prevent mass shootings like the one that took 17 lives in Parkland, Florida, last week, with improved mental health screening and treatment leading the public’s preferences for action." Just a reminder that the GOP let the assault weapons ban expire in 2004 and dismantled the public mental health system in the middle 80s. NRA money is a powerful drug. Remember after Vegas how everyone was for banning "bump stocks"? See how far that got us?

"'The lives of the richest people in the world are so different from those of the rest of us, it's almost literally unimaginable. National borders are nothing to them. They might as well not exist. The laws are nothing to them. They might as well not exist.'" A Hidden Brain podcast repeat on the lives of the wealthy as told through their wealth managers.

A story from about a year ago. "A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders… 'There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,' McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange…House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy… Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions." So what does that make the Majority Leader and Speaker of the House? (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Why look, it's another shoe. "Van Der Zwaan allegedly lied about his last communications with Gates and then deleted emails requested by the special counsel’s office, according to the indictment… He allegedly did so as part of his work for a firm hired by the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice to prepare a report on the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister of Ukraine." (Grokked from Dan)

"For a few weeks in late November, as speculation over whether President Donald Trump would fire his secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, reached a fever pitch, Trump and his chief of staff, John Kelly, also considered pushing out another top national security official: H.R. McMaster."

"In a tweet on Monday, the president endorsed Romney to fill the U.S. Senate seat left open by the retirement of Utah's Orrin Hatch." That's probably the shrewdest move I've seen Trump make. So while you see Romney make the case for how he's "anti-Trump" you can be confident it's all an act for the cameras. Plus I wonder how many times we need to see the video of "Corporations are people, my friend" again?

"Over the weekend, Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) delivered a bagful of thoughts and prayers to Donald Trump, presumably as a response to the tragedy in Parkland, Florida. (I think this is now the official GOP response to all mass shootings.)" Oh. My. God. (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

Tweet of my heart: @NicoleK8686 The same people that said 13 and 14 year olds were perfectly mature enough to date Roy Moore are now saying 17 and 18 year olds are too immature to have opinions on gun control. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Linkee-po, it's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out, it doesn't matter much to me

An employee tells what it's like to work in the Troll Factories. "I failed the test because you had to know English perfectly." Apparently the Twitter Department has lower standards than the Facebook Department. Of course in this world (the Cold War II), this interview could also be a part of Putin's strategy of disinformation. (Waves to all my Russian friends) (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

"Black Panther pounced on the weekend box office, breaking cultural barriers and earning the highest debut ever for a February film, with an estimated three-day domestic gross of $192 million, said Disney, Marvel's parent company." And there is still today that will be included in the overall total for the weekend. World-wide the total gross is approach $400 million. "'There's a massive audience — not just of people of color but everybody — who wants to see different perspectives in this myth-making,' Coogler (the director) told NPR. 'They want to see something fresh, they want to see something new, but also feels very real.'" So between this movie and "Get Out", I'm wondering if Hollywood will finally realize how they need to be more inclusive of minority voices, actors, directors, and themes and how they can actually make money by doing so (since money is the main motivator). Or if we'll go back to making Herbie the Love Bug remakes?

"The adult skulls (except one) were missing jawbones, and at least two of the skulls showed evidence of a stick thrust through the opening at the base through the top of the skull—normally associated with posting a skull to scare enemies. But hunter-gatherers were not known for posting skulls or engaging in gruesome funeral rituals." (Grokked from Warren Ellis)

"Archaeologists in Saudi Arabia have discovered a series of rock reliefs dating back some 2,000 years. The life-sized sculptures show realistic impressions of several animals, though they have been badly damaged by years of erosion and rough treatment by humans." (Grokked from Dr. Caitlin Green)

"In new experiments, however, the physicists coaxed individual photons to cozy up to each other and link, similar to the way individual atoms stick together in molecules." Something new has been added.

Google drops the "view image" button. "Google's Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, announced the change on Twitter yesterday, saying it would 'help connect users and useful websites.' Later Sullivan admitted that 'these changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week' and that 'they are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.'"

"'Cancer was a piece of cake,' Harrod says. 'It was the lymphedema that almost killed me.'" There are two new surgical techniques to help mitigate lymphedema (transplanting lymph nodes and tying the lymph system back into the venous system where lymph nodes are removed) as well as new techniques to reduce the number of nodes requiring removal. Fuck cancer.

"Each year, about 31,000 men and women in the U.S. are diagnosed with a cancer caused by an infection from the human papillomavirus, or HPV. It's the most common sexually transmitted virus and infection in the U.S." And rates of people getting vaccinated are still way too low. Also, HPV related cancers are increasing in men, so now (hopefully) parents will be more inclined to vaccinate boys (who are more often the vector of transmission). Most of the resistance is from our social inability to deal with sexuality, especially of teens coupled with an ignorance of medical knowledge.

"Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin accused political appointees in his department of trying to undermine him over policies he's attempting to pursue." Shulkin is the last of the Obama appointees in the department and the appointees he is talking about are Trump appointees. This might the be first look into the attempt to instill a "deep state" of Trump appointees. Of course it doesn't help that he's involved in his own scandal. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"A federal grand jury has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities in connection with the attack on the 2016 presidential election… The defendants are 'accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes,' according to a statement from the special counsel's office. The indictment charges them with 'conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.'"

"The Washington Post reports that Kushner, whose portfolio encompasses issues ranging from the Middle East peace process to modernizing the federal government’s use of technology, has put in more requests for U.S. intelligence information than any White House staffer not working for the National Security Council." His clearance is a temporary authorization, and I've lost count how many times he's had to amend his clearance declarations. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"The Trump administration is proposing to dramatically cut funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a move critics say is an ongoing assault on the 7-year-old agency."

"Top election officials from across the country grappled with a delicate question this weekend: How do you tackle the threat of election interference, and be transparent in doing so, without further eroding the public's trust in the voting process?"

"After months of criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, President Donald Trump’s supporters are issuing increasingly bold calls for presidential pardons to limit the investigation’s impact." This should be fun.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Linkee-poo learning to fly

Appears all my Russian friends are back. Waves to all my Russian friends.

"Americans hoping to connect with other Americans on social media after the deadly school shooting in Florida may find themselves mired in a surge of content from Kremlin-linked accounts… 'It's information war out there and social media increasingly becomes a battlefield of political adversaries ambiguously foreign and domestic,' David Carroll, an associate professor of media design at the New School, said in an email." (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

"Each new breaking news situation is an opportunity for trolls to grab attention, provoke emotions, and spread propaganda. The Russian government knows this. Fake-news manufacturing teenagers in Macedonia know this. Twitter bot creators know this. And thanks to data-gathering operations from groups like the Alliance for Securing Democracy and RoBhat Labs, the world knows this." While I'd like to believe the end of that last line, sadly it's not true. Not everyone pays attention to these things. (Grokked from John)

Also, unfortunately, as these tactics become more widely known domestic actors and lobbyists are getting in on the disinformation/chaos champaign.

"A father in Indianapolis last week accused his wife of feeding their child bleach to help cure her autism - something his wife had read about in a Facebook group." People will reach for anything that seems to help, but don't take medical advice from the internet, especially strangers on social media. Snake oil salesmen were slightly better by selling either alcohol or opioid infusions.

"Love is complicated, scientifically speaking. There's no single, specific 'love chemical' that surges through our bodies when we see our beloved, and we can't point to a specific corner of the brain where love resides." A love song about the neurological science.

"Researchers discovered that people who eat more ultra-processed foods have a higher risk of cancer. Such foods are the ones with unrecognizable and unpronounceable words on the list of ingredients — anything from the candy that turns your tongue blue to healthier-sounding canned soups packed with artificial flavors, additives or emulsifiers. Most food is processed to some degree, but ultra-processed foods are typically much more calorie-, sodium- and sugar-packed." Processed foods are bad for you, unfortunately they are cheap and sometimes the only foods people can afford or have access to.

Dan Wells talks about his own involvement in the #MeToo movement. "Recanted accusation or not, I found some stuff I need to work on. Not a long history of abusive behavior, but a tune-up on boundaries, and on thinking before I speak." Yep. Those who are conscious of themselves will look at others and wonder, "Am I doing the same thing?" either for good or bad. Just like some people experience the feeling of getting the best comeback line something like 2 hours after they could have used it, I often review my actions and try to see all sides and how I might be coming off. Sometime I realize I was a dick and didn't mean it (other time I realize I wasn't nearly enough of a dick for the circumstances). And then I adjust my behavior going forward. Again, I'm not perfect. If I'm being a dick for no apparent reason (or if I'm making you uncomfortable) call me on it. If I'm inclined I'll give you my reasons or apologize. Also a note, while probably not in the case, not all "recanted" stories are false. It could be that the barriers and work about reporting just became too much. (Grokked for Dave Klecha)

"Under Title III of the ADA, private businesses must ensure new buildings are accessible and remove barriers in older buildings where it is 'readily achievable'—a standard that considers the cost of the change and the resources of the business. For example, a major hotel chain might need to spend several thousand dollars to make a few of their rooms accessible, but a small business might only be expected to spend a few hundred dollars to grind down a three inch lip into a doorway, or to put a ramp up two stairs. Now a group of businesses led by the owners of large shopping malls have persuaded more than 100 representatives to introduce H.R. 620, the so-called 'ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.' This legislation would require people with disabilities who encounter access barriers at a business or facility to become legal experts on the code, to provide “notice” to the business of what code they are violating, and to wait six months or longer. And this isn’t even for the business to actually fix the problem—just for the business to make 'substantial progress' towards accessibility." Because why the fuck not. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"The leader of a white supremacist group said on Thursday that the suspected gunman in one of the deadliest school shootings in modern American history was a member of his group and had participated in paramilitary drills." There is some dispute on this matter, though. (Grokked from John)

Steve Inskeep's (NPR) opinion piece on the Florida shootings.

The National Pipeline Mapping System. (Grokked from Dan)

"More than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including the president’s daughter, son-in-law and his top legal counsel, according to internal White House documents obtained by NBC News." It doesn't take this long for a security clearance. If they don't have one by now, it means they don't qualify.

"The chiefs were not sure Priebus got the message. 'I caught the eye of several of the others and we exchanged worried expressions,' one Republican in attendance remembered. 'He seemed much too relaxed about being able to navigate a difficult job. I think he struck a lot of us as clueless.' Another was even more blunt about Priebus’s nonchalance: 'He was approaching the job like it was some combination of personal aide and cruise director.'" Priebus gives an interview about his time as Chief of Staff.

"FCC boss Ajit Pai is being investigated by his own agency over potential corruption allegations." While nice I'm not holding my breath even if they find Chairman Pai coordinated his efforts to help Sinclair. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"As an example, Barnet recounted on incident from October at the airport in Atlanta. An individual approached Pruitt with his cell phone recording, yelling at him '"Scott Pruitt, you’re f---ing up the environment," those sort of terms,' Barnet said." Hey, I got an idea, Scott. Stop fucking up the environment and you won't have to worry about it. But seriously, people shouting unpleasant things isn't exactly a security problem, that's a PR problem. (Grokked from Fred Clark)

"LiFT is the only sex education program available in her rural community of Shelton, Wash., she says… But come July, LiFT will be gone. The Trump administration cut off the grant funding for it when the Department of Health and Human Services eliminated the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program." They're going all in for abstinence only programs which have been shown to be non-effective in preventing teen-age pregnancy. Tell me again how both parties are the same and let me laugh in your face. Also, apparently there's an app for sex ed.

"H7N4, a new type of bird flu." The article give a lighthearted but decent description of how flus are categorized and named with a little of how viruses change over time.

"Then the bill came." A case example of profiteering in the medical field where a post-op urine test generated a bill for $17,850. Always ask what test is being performed and (while I hate hate hate this) make sure it's done "in network" for your health insurance (some insurance plans force patients to use a specific lab network which is hardly ever convenient, but then some doctors own labs and make more profit from ordering tests there). But, again, the best way to control costs is enact single-payer insurance.

"In a new paper from the Harvard Law Review called 'Are We Running Out of Trademarks?' NYU law professors Barton Beebe and Jeanne Fromer analyzed millions of trademark applications filed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and found that it is becoming increasingly harder to find good names for our companies." This was also a big problem in the 90s. Or in other words, the more things change the more they stay the same. The article also include some top-level tips for choosing a trademarkable name.

"McDougal describes their affair as entirely consensual. But her account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs—sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously—out of the press… On November 4, 2016, four days before the election, the Wall Street Journal reported that American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, had paid a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for exclusive rights to McDougal’s story, which it never ran. Purchasing a story in order to bury it is a practice that many in the tabloid industry call 'catch and kill.'" (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

"As winter settled over Washington, Trump implored senators in mid-January to cut a deal — even if it contained 'things I'm not in love with.' But as senators got to work on a simple agreement to protect Dreamers and boost border security, Trump made new demands. His 'four pillars' — including politically toxic reforms to the diversity lottery and family migration that Democrats could never get behind — became the GOP benchmark." That's the problem with "moving the goal posts" or running government like a business (this is exactly how Trump runs his business and is a standard management practice to get "buy-in" by being general and then switch to your hard-line position once you've obtained that buy-in). "'So, as long as Steve Miller is running the White House and Tom Tancredo is in charge of DHS, we’re going nowhere fast,' Graham said." That too.

"Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is reportedly close to finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller." Shoes are still dropping.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Linkee-poo ain't no sunshine when she's gone

Dan asked about the Fake News bookmark I posted about yesterday. You can get them here. For non-members of the ALA it's $9 for 100 (plus shipping, I'm assuming).

Myke Cole on taking responsibility for your actions (in this case, his own). Been there. Many times no one said anything to me, but I can see in retrospect my stupidity and unexamined position of power. It also makes me ashamed. I still sometimes forget. You have my permission to call me out on it. (Grokked from a lot of people)

"In the photo, a single atom of strontium is held almost perfectly still by an electrical field generated by a pair of electrodes. A laser excites and illuminates the atom, which shines like a tiny speck of dust caught in the glare of the sun. Still, you probably have to squint to see it." (Grokked from Dan)

"In the aftermath of a raid, researchers are finding evidence that the ants care for their wounded. The wounded ants secrete a pheromone that calls other returning raiders to carry their injured comrades home. Back at the nest, healthy nest-mates clean the injured ants’ wounds. And the behavior of injured ants even creates a triage system so that only the ants that might actually be saved get rescued." (Grokked from John)

Remember that plan to either spin Fannie Mae out of the government (again) or just close it entirely? Too late. "The mortgage giant Fannie Mae will need $3.7 billion from the government after losing $6.5 billion in the fourth quarter as a result of the new Republican tax law." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"We live in a post-racial America!" they say. Yeah? Not so much. "Fifty years after the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in lending, African Americans and Latinos continue to be routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts."

"Across America, a troubling pattern emerges in data analyzed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting: Nearly two-thirds of mortgage lenders denied home loans for people of color at higher rates than for white people. But among the 6,600 U.S. lenders, some banks stood out for particularly extreme practices." And then the AP names names.

"In his sparsely settled community in the agricultural countryside of southern Iowa, 'there's just no motivation for people to go' to college, says Gordon, who's now a senior at the University of Iowa." Same for the town I now live in. Now I don't believe we should have such a heavy focus on "college degrees", not everyone is cutout for college. But the pressures against these kids going is astronomical. It's economic, most of these kids either can't or don't feel they can afford it. It's social, the parents don't push them and the school doesn't either. The parents and other organizations don't prepare these kids to live anywhere else that where they are at (and give them the skills to "make it by"). And while more kids graduate from rural schools and score better, I have to tell you their education isn't great. "The Tennessee-based National Rural Education Association notes that, in addition to other problems, rural areas contend with drug and mental-health issues, poverty and a lack of high-speed access to the Internet, for instance." It also comes down to that final line in the story. Once they've left "the farm" (note, most of these kids have never been on a farm) they don't want to go back. And that scares a lot of parents. I can't tell you how many times I've talked with parents and school administrators who talk about how special they try to make the kids' high school experience because, as they tell me, that's as good as it ever will get for them.

Looks like it's not time to discuss our gun problem again. "Police respond to report of shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida." (Grokked from Xopher Halftoungue)

"Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin's chief of staff doctored an email in an effort to cover up travel expenses for Shulkin's wife, according to a VA inspector general's report released Wednesday." Only the best. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Scott Pruitt, EPA chief, on why he must fly first class. "'Unfortunately ... we’ve had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe,' Pruitt told the Union Leader on Tuesday. 'We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment.'" Get it, toxic environment - EPA chief. Insert comments about BLM employees, or how much Obama's administration was harassed. Gee, Scott, if you weren't such a loathsome toadie/dick it wouldn't be a problem. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Hey, remember when the president said he would sign whatever Congress put in front of him? "President Trump on Wednesday called on lawmakers to oppose a series of bipartisan efforts to address immigration and resolve the fate of the so-called 'Dreamers,' demanding fealty to his hard-line proposal even as more moderate senators converged on a narrower approach."

"Three people, including a police officer, were hospitalized Wednesday in a bizarre incident at the super-secret National Security Agency after officers apparently opened fire on a black SUV carrying three men as it breached the main gate, the FBI said."

"Stormy Daniels, the porn star whom Donald Trump’s attorney acknowledges paying $130,000 just before Election Day, believes she is now free to discuss an alleged sexual encounter with the man who is now president, her manager told The Associated Press." Please don't be a golden showers story. You know, I really don't need details. All I need it to know it happened, when it happened, and where the $130,000 really came from (note, Mueller has the banking account records already, although this probably isn't a part of his investigation unless he could tie it to the campaign, say like a suspicious $130,000 withdraw really close to the time of the payment).

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Linkee-poo it's so easy to fall in love

Janiece on her experiment taking a hiatus from social media. Same.

Jim Wright on the long-con of the current politics and beating the drums of the military-industrial complex.

On the government shaming the poor. In this case an older article about limited withdraws on TANF cards in Kansas. Note that every transaction cost the recipient money which went to a government contractor. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Though he's often wrong about his sources, President Trump is very right about one thing: there's a lot of fake news swirling around the internet these days. In fact, the problem has become so prevalent that many teachers are taking extra steps to ensure their students can tell which news is fake and which is real!… For instance, Reddit user soldier4hire was at his local library when he noticed a unique bookmark." Libraries (and librarians) FTW! (Grokked form George Takei)

"With states and even other charter schools massed against them, virtual schools and their supporters have fought back. They've lobbied politicians and donated millions to their campaigns. They've pushed for changes and exceptions to accountability systems. They've taken legal action." Note those "millions" are you tax dollars that state governments have sent to virtual schools. And even in Ohio, which has a deeply entrenched conservative government, the states are trying to close these "virtual" charter schools.

Damnit, I know to never link to Fox News. The Snopes correction to the "teacher dies after not being able to afford flue medication" story. The Fox News article has been updated.

"A punishing series of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria last week reportedly killed an unknown number of Russian mercenaries fighting on behalf of the Damascus regime, with some sources saying there were 'dozens' of casualties." You know, "mercenaries." Like the Russian soldiers "on vacation" in the Ukraine. Seems like Russia is becoming an outsourcer for military might. The US isn't doing much better. Just to reiterate here I have a long standing dislike of mercenaries and "government contractors" doing the fighting (even though my family is from a part of Eastern Europe that supplied and sold mercenaries as their main export for much of medieval Europe).

"The Israeli police recommended on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, casting a pall over the future of a tenacious leader who has become almost synonymous with his country. The announcement instantly raised doubts about his ability to stay in office." This isn't the first time PM Netanyahu has been in trouble with the police. In the past he's been able to get the charges dismissed or just never pursued.

"FBI director Christopher Wray said the bureau completed its investigation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter last July, nearly seven months before Porter was forced to resign over allegations of domestic violence from two ex-wives." So last July he was denied clearance, and they sent a memo to the White House in March outlining his abuse of his wives. So at the time they said the investigation was "ongoing" they new it had been completed. Because background checks don't take a year. Notes all the people working in the White House who don't have security clearances and wonders what their files show.

"FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday said President Trump hasn’t directed him to stop Russian efforts to interfere in this year’s midterm elections 'Not as specifically directed by the president,' Wray responded." (Waves to my Russian friends) (Grokked from Wil Wheaton)

"Twitter has banned Paul Nehlen, a Republican challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan for a congressional seat, for a racist tweet targeting American actress Meghan Markle, the fiancée of Prince Harry." And he isn't even the avowed Nazi running for office. For the GOP not being a racist party there sure are a lot of racists running for office as Republicans (note the Democrats also have their share of racists and Nazis, but it's not like they're coming out of the woodwork and falling out of the windows like it appears is happening on the GOP side).

There's this recurring thread of thought that the stimulus of the tax bill and the budget (at a level of 2x what Obama was able to get through Congress) won't be bad… unless the Fed is forced to raise interest rates quickly. "The Consumer Price Index, which measures how quickly prices are going up in the U.S. economy, rose at a faster than anticipated 2.1 percent in January compared to a year ago, triggering fears of another rocky run on Wall Street. The Dow fell over 100 points at the open." Rhut 'rho, Raggy! The increase in March of an eighth percentile was kinda factored in. But this may mean a quarter point raise or more (or have more than 3 eighth points of an increase this year). (Grokked from Joy Reid)

Hey, you know all those people screaming about how we should cut social programs to help veterans? Yeah, about that… "Every year the Department of Agriculture publishes data about where food stamp benefits (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) are being spent. The categories range from grocery stores and super stores to convenience stores and farmers markets. Also on the list, surprisingly, are military commissaries — those stores on military bases that sell groceries just above cost to active duty and retired military personnel and their families, as well as those in the reserves and National Guard." (Grokked from Fred Clark)

"Just when you thought you'd read about all of the tax scams: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers about a new - and growing - scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into real taxpayer bank accounts. Then, the crooks use various tactics to con taxpayers into turning over the funds. It's a new twist on an old scam."

So, evangelicals, how's that deal with the Trump administration going? "The increased dependence on immigrants to fill U.S. church pews means that Christian leaders have a big stake in the current debate over immigration policy. While many cite the biblical instruction to welcome the stranger, some have a more existential concern for supporting a generous approach: Without immigrants, they fear the U.S. Christian church may not survive in its current form." About as to be expected it looks like. Up until now churches have been off limits for ICE arrests. But then so were hospitals at one time and look at how well that held up.

"On one side, there's the giant Monsanto Company. On the other, a committee of 18 people, mostly farmers and small business owners, who regulate the use of pesticides in (Arkansas). They've banned Monsanto's latest way of killing weeds." And thems fightin' words to Monsanto. So, if dicamba can migrate after being sprayed on fields, while that may be killing your neighbors' crops and trees, what about your inhalation of the drifting dicamba?

"America's adversaries are circling like coyotes just beyond the light from the campfire, top intelligence officials warn — but that's not the scariest thing to some members of the Senate intelligence committee…What bothers them is the need to convince people the coyotes are there." We now have denialism regarding Russian interference in our elections. "The campaign of 'active measures,' as intelligence officers call them, is no longer discussed in terms of whether it happened, but, rather, amid certainty that it never stopped." That's because their goal has not been met.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Linkee-poo will make a reckless prediction, I'll still be in the kitchen when the lights come on

Terri Windling with a short history of adult fairy-tales.

An evening with Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler. An interview of writers talking about writers. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

"No one will deny that marriage is hard. In fact, there's evidence it's getting even harder." The Hidden Brain podcast on the evolution of marriage and how our expectations have changed.

"The Sarnos say they eventually had to disband the Fire Station 55 SC and that Disneyland refused to let them hold another charity walk. They've been ostracized, they say, living in fear of physical assault. They have not felt it safe to return to Disneyland." It's a rumble in Disneyland between different Disney Social Clubs. (Sings the Micky Mouse Club song here)

Who needs decent insurance (say like a single payor program)? (note, Fox News link) "A Texas mother of two died Sunday from flu complications after reportedly deciding that the $116 medication to treat the virus was too costly." Yeah, might have been helpful if she didn't have to worry about the costs. But then they also said this, "This season’s deadly flu season has reportedly taken the lives of hundreds of Americans across the country." Yeah, about that. "There were 40,414 deaths in the U.S. during the third week of 2018, the most recent data available, and 4,064 were from pneumonia or influenza, according to the CDC data."

"An Indiana family that decided against vaccinating a 3-year-old is now haunted by that decision, wondering if a flu shot could have saved the girl's life." It may or it may have not. "Stettler said Alivia’s parents declined to give her the flu shot after hearing that the vaccination could be ineffective." This is false. This year's flu shot is 30% effective against contracting the flu (at least for Influenza A, which IIRC is (H2N3) this year). However if you do contract the flu, this year's shot is believed to lessen the severity and duration of the illness. If you can tolerate the vaccine, get the goddamn flu shot.

And then we have "California's insurance commissioner has launched an investigation into Aetna after learning a former medical director for the insurer admitted under oath he never looked at patients' records when deciding whether to approve or deny care."

"The church that stiffed an Outback server on a $735 order compensated the woman who ended up losing her job at the restaurant after complaining on social media about not getting a tip."

So how's the Amazon 2 search going? "Amazon is laying off hundreds of employees and "managing out" others as the company consolidates its retail operations and expands tech gadgets like Alexa, according to a Monday report in the Seattle Times."

"Even if the president were to get the spending cuts and economic growth he wants, deficits would explode to $7.1 trillion over the next decade." Dear Democrats, when you take back the reins of our broken government and realize the amount of spending needed to fix this country, the Republicans are going to scream about deficit spending and the national debt. Point to this historical period and laugh in their faces. Laugh loudly and laugh in public where the media can see it. Also, raise taxes on the rich and corporations. "After Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts In the 1980’s, deficits exploded in the same range as Trump’s now, when calculated as a percentage of the economy, or Gross Domestic Product." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The January document calls for 'dedicating resources to continuously evaluate' Sunni Muslim immigrants from South Asia, Africa and the Middle East on a 'long-term basis.'" Look, 1984 was a warning about the use of the panopticon, not a government manual. This would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that you are several times over more likely to be killed by a white, Christian, native-born American acting out some white supremacy vision than you are of being killed in a terrorist attack committed by an immigrant muslim. It would also be funny if this administration didn't have a hard-on for authoritarian regimes and the social programs of the Nazis. (Grokked from Saladin Ahmed)

"'What we do is propose that for folks who are on food stamps, part — not all, part — of their benefits come in the actual sort of… Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,' Mulvaney said. 'It lowers the cost to us because we can buy [at wholesale prices] whereas they have to buy it at retail. It also makes sure they're getting nutritious food.'… Mulvaney's remarks drew raised eyebrows from some critics, who accuse the Trump administration official of drawing an unfair comparison between the food stamp program, which delivers an average of $1.37 per meal to America's poorest, and a high-end meal kit that runs $10 per serving." Remember government cheese blocks and peanut butter? I do. For a party that derides the so-called "Nanny-state" the Republicans sure do a lot of it. Besides being more expensive (even if the government is able to buy at wholesale, or even negotiate prices) it is, "(e)qually unclear is whether USDA would allot the same foods to, say, an elderly diabetic and a family with young children."

Sure you can trust the police. "Two Baltimore plainclothes police detectives were convicted Monday of racketeering, robbery and fraud in a trial involving a wide range of criminal activities by an elite police unit charged with reducing the number of illegal guns on that city's streets." This happens when people take their eye off the ball and instead believe the hagiography of our first responders. This is the hero trap and it's why I bristle when people just start assigning that label to a profession instead of an individual.

"A terrorist who set off small bombs in two states, including a pressure cooker device that blasted shrapnel across a New York City block, is set to be sentenced Tuesday to a mandatory term of life in prison." Remember when conservatives screamed about keeping terrorist at GitMo so they could face justice. This was for a terrorist attack in 2016. The trial of the 9-11 "mastermind" hasn't really progressed to the actual trial stage yet.

"Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte should be taken seriously, but not literally, his spokesman said on Tuesday…" How does that work? "…after the controversial leader drew criticism for saying he once ordered soldiers to shoot female Maoist insurgents in the genitals." Misogynists are gonna misogynate. Say, remember when Hitler said Jews were like dogs and the people just laughed and laughed. And gee, I seem to remember Sanders and Spicer telling us the same thing about our President. And we go back to the rules to remember under an authoritarian regime. Rule one is "believe the leader when they say something."

Just someone's opinion. "Increasingly, Wall Street banks and independent economic researchers are starting to flag doubts about the health of the Trump economy, further fueling the belief that a downturn could hit in 2019. The thinking is that the economy is likely to overheat, forcing the Federal Reserve to have to hike interest rates quickly to prevent inflation, where prices rise rapidly on everything from rents to food to gas. Once the Fed starts pumping up rates, business and consumers are likely to pull back their spending."

"There's a glaring hole in President Trump's budget proposal for 2019, global health researchers say. A U.S. program to help other countries beef up their ability to detect pathogens around the world will lose a significant portion of its funding." What could possibly go wrong? Say, remember when people lost their shit with the prospect of Ebola coming to America?

"The World Health Organization says as many as 450 people may have been infected with Lassa fever in Nigeria in less than five weeks."

"But Federal officials say it's not their role to warn the public about missiles. 'FEMA will tell the states that there's a missile inbound and where it's going to land,' says Mark Lucero, chief of engineering for IPAWS. 'And then the state will initiate any plans it has in place, one of which being issuing an alert to the public, telling them what to do.'… This comes as a surprise to many of those local emergency management officials." It shouldn't if they kept up with their required emergency systems training (as all local officials are required to do). But then, as I remember, they were a little vague on who was in charge of every thing (much of the text was "the person in charge/responsible", but very little on chain of command). I asked a lot of questions. But the Hawaii alert failure exposed a lot of problems with the system including software design and lack of strategic thought about all the situations. Basically it took them over half-an-hour to get the all-clear out because nobody had ever thought a warning would be issued by mistake. The system is set up to have the local agency issue warnings because many of the warnings to be issued would be for local issues (weather related, 911 issues, neighborhood evacuations, etc). Having to raise the issues up to the federal level first takes time. So the system is designed top-down. A local official can call an emergency. A state official can call an emergency which then the local officials announce. A federal official can call an emergency which is then communicated to the states which is passed to the local officials to announce.

"American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp warned the Republican-controlled Congress not to underestimate the impact of responsible spending for voters." They're so cute when then think the GOP is the same party they joined decades ago. The GOP is now a social conservative movement.

"The budget outline also zeroes out the Public Housing Capital Fund, dedicated to rehabilitating and modernizing public housing developments, and eliminates the Community Development Block Grant which local governments can use at their discretion to address a variety of community and infrastructure needs." Yep, both sides are exactly the same (except they're not). And I know there's a lot of brouhaha over the president's budget, and we should talk about it because it demonstrates the mind set of the president and the conservative movement. But Congress passed a 2-year budget resolution and the president signed it. That's the real fucking budget. Now, of course, it remains to be seen how Congress sets up the actual appropriations bill (which is the law that tells the government departments how much money they can spend and on what priorities). It's the appropriations bill that matters. Budgets are just wish-lists and guidance documents. The appropriations bill is what spends the money (and where and on what).

"South African President Jacob Zuma must leave office promptly so that the country can move toward political stability and economic recovery, the ruling party said Tuesday, finally disowning a leader who has been discredited by corruption scandals."

"Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate intelligence committee that Moscow viewed its attack on the 2016 election as decidedly worthwhile given the chaos it has sown as compared to its relatively low cost… That's why such interference is likely to continue, he said." No it's likely to continue because their goal has not been achieved and we have not made it too costly to them to continue (with either proportionate responses to their politics or infrastructure, or driving up their actual hard currency costs, or even to impose basic sanctions as required by law which the president just sort of ignored).