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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Linkee-poo Wednesday

Our stable genius of a president is blustering at Russia in an attempt to make him look bigger, to not be seen as Putin's lapdog, and because he's lashing out. If I believed he was actually outraged at Assad's behavior regarding chemical weapons or intentionally targeting an American journalist, I would feel differently. But basically I see this as his thinking Assad a "small man" that he can beat up to make himself feel better about his impotence in other matters.

Found this handy today, you might as well. Is Mercury Retrograde? Easy website.

"If you've tried to delete your Facebook account and found yourself mysteriously lost and frustrated, welcome to the world of Dark Patterns, the website and app trickery designed to make you agree to things or otherwise fool you into doing something other than you intend." Here's a video that explains how it's done. In case you've ever tried to look at a bank or retirement fund account online you've seen this as well. Every time I log into Fidelity's 401k site I am challenged to "update my contact information" which is really just their attempt to send you electronic notices instead of paper notices. In case you ever wondered how "marketing" works, here's a good primer for some of the tricks. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

There's trouble in Sweden. "After three members of the Swedish Academy resigned Friday, protesting its response to a long-simmering scandal, the committee known for awarding the Nobel Prize in literature has found itself in unfamiliar — and precarious — territory: Beyond examining the merits of an author's past work, as it does each year, the centuries-old group is now also facing questions about its own future."

"The federal agency that trains, tests and certifies the physicians who read X-rays and diagnose the deadly coal miners' disease black lung said today it was not consulted by Kentucky lawmakers in the 14 months they considered a new law that mostly limits diagnoses to pulmonologists working for coal companies." See, if they would have done that, they couldn't have protected the coal companies and swept the problem under the rug.

"The Charles Koch Foundation issued $100 million worth of grants in 2017 for higher education, up from about $35 million in 2014, according to figures provided by the foundation. The money funded programs at roughly 350 colleges and universities last year. But the shift at Wellesley’s Freedom Project raises questions about the sturdiness of the Koch-backed programs at a time when the organization is aggressively ramping up funding." "Academic Freedom Grifters" is an interesting concept, but not an entirely original one. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"The letters warn that FTC staff has concerns about the companies’ statements that consumers must use specified parts or service providers to keep their warranties intact. Unless warrantors provide the parts or services for free or receive a waiver from the FTC, such statements generally are prohibited by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a law that governs consumer product warranties. Similarly, such statements may be deceptive under the FTC Act." And this is why government is important.

"An Akron mother nodded in agreement Tuesday morning as she heard the verdicts reached by a Summit County jury in the murder trial of a man who shot and killed her son last year in a dispute over a dirt bike… After deliberating for about three hours Monday and early Tuesday, the jury of five women and seven men found William Knight guilty of all charges — two counts each of murder and felonious assault." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Why do unions get started? "Tronc has underpaid women and journalists of color by thousands of dollars a year at the Los Angeles Times, suggesting systemic salary gaps by race and gender, according to an analysis of newsroom salary data by the L.A. Times Guild." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Forty-two years after founding one of the nation’s most influential evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Bill Hybels told his congregation Tuesday night that he would step down from the helm of Willow Creek Community Church six months ahead of schedule… His departure comes less than a month after a Chicago Tribune investigation disclosed that Hybels had been the subject of inquiries by church leaders into claims that he ran afoul of church teachings by engaging in inappropriate behavior with women in his congregation — including employees — allegedly spanning decades."

"A 2016 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology said that in 2012, Texas reported 147 women who died from pregnancy-related causes. The same journal on Monday released a new study by Texas Department of State Health Services researchers who say the number of maternal deaths was much lower 56… The cause for the discrepancy, according to the department, was likely mistakes made by doctors, justices of the peace and medical examiners, who incorrectly reported in the state's electronic death registration system that some women were pregnant at the time of their death, even though they weren't."

"You might recognize Wendy Vitter's last name… On Wednesday, she is likely to face some difficult questions about her statements on abortion and birth control at her Senate confirmation hearing to the post." This is why evangelicals love Trump, because he nominates people like this to judgeships. Also note that no less than Jeff Sessions has said to omit the speaking engagements from her forms was not only grounds to not approve her, but could possibly be a felony. Also note that I don't expect these "problems" (which halted several Obama nominations) to make a wit of difference with the Senate GOP approving her.

"A video obtained by NBC News shows U.S. Border Patrol agents attempting to break international law by forcing an injured and mentally unstable man back into Mexico by falsely claiming that he is not in their custody, failing to identify him and assuming he is Mexican because 'he looks like it.'" Our brave Customs and Border Patrol agents at work.

"Arizona students protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will no longer be eligible for in-state college tuition, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday." Because, you know, Arizona has been shown to promote a racist agenda before. Why should they stop now with Trump in the White House. I'm sure this isn't because the conservative talking point about the Dreamers being a drain on public services has been shown to not only be a lie, but that the Dreamers contribute significantly to our country and our economy.

"In elections past, the integrity of the vote was protected by poll workers and election officials. But in 2018 and likely beyond, elections are being protected by people like the anonymous man who works in the basement of the West Virginia Capitol… He's member of the West Virginia National Guard who is a cybersecurity specialist responsible for monitoring any computer-related threats to the state's elections."

"John Boehner is heading for the boardroom of a cannabis company, the former Speaker of the House announced Wednesday… 'I'm joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved,' the Ohio Republican tweeted. 'I'm convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.'" I'm sure the profit motivation had nothing to do with it.

"House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republicans in the House Wednesday that he will not run for re-election in 2018." I'm sure his retirement pay will help. It's a little less important than if he had still been chairman of Ways and Means. There are also rumors he's a little upset because as a part of his deal to become Speaker of the House, he was supposed to be on the Presidential ticket in 2016.

Remember when candidate Trump said he would strengthen the social welfare net? "President Trump quietly signed an executive order Tuesday, directing federal agencies to strengthen the work requirements for various welfare programs. The move could eventually affect recipients of Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance and cash welfare." This is what he meant. He will cut social programs (even if the money isn't cut, more will go toward administrative of education costs, just like what happened to welfare). "'This is one of the best economic environments we've seen in years, yet businesses are having a hard time finding qualified workers,' (Paul) Ryan said in a statement." This is an obvious bullshit argument by the addition of "qualified workers." It's not like people who have the abilities, skills, and location to work are sitting on their hands.

"President Trump had a ready retort to a Russian threat to shoot down any U.S. missiles in Syria: 'Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and "smart!"'" And so continues his weird use of scare quotes. Also, there are official channels for this (no, really, more than likely if there were Russians at the target zone there would be a quiet call between to commanders of the same level and a warning to get their people out and not say anything - it's rumored this is why there were no Russian - or Syrian - casualties during last year's missile attack). And finally, weak people threaten, strong people do. Finally there's this, "'He's doing exactly what he criticized Obama for doing,' Mara (Liasson) said on Morning Edition."

"New evidence presented in a Washington, D.C., federal court claims that American journalist Marie Colvin was killed in a targeted assassination by the Syrian regime in 2012… Key testimony comes from a Syrian defector, who had been a high-ranking intelligence officer and says he witnessed the orders that led to the death of Colvin." Casus belli.

"Trump's tunnel vision about widening legal probes surrounding him and his White House may not reflect reality, or even the views of many supposed allies on Capitol Hill, but it's a powerful driving force behind his actions, as everyone waits with dread to see what happens next following Monday's FBI raid targeting his personal lawyer Michael Cohen."

"Trump Organization lawyers wrote a letter to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela requesting his 'influence' in a private business dispute in Panama and implied that his government could pay consequences if he didn’t intervene… But the letter appears to be more than just a request — it also seems to be a thinly veiled threat. The lawyers wrote that the Panamanian court’s ruling violates a bilateral investment treaty between the US and Panama and hinted that Varela’s response could affect US-Panamanian relations more broadly." Even if the president was not directly involved in the drafting of that letter, this shows the level of corruption possible because the president didn't divest of his businesses (and there's little different between corruption directed and corruption expected). (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

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