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

Friday, June 29, 2018

Linkee-poo staggers toward a weekend

I now seem to be an every other day interest. So soon the bloom comes off the rose.

Harlan Ellison, not without his faults, and so it goes.

"Five people are dead and at least two others were wounded in a shooting at The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Md., officials announced at a news conference Thursday afternoon." It appears as if the shooter had a long standing grudge against the paper. On social media there's various attempts to connect the shooter to different politics, of which there's no real, verified reporting. But I think it's safe to say when the president says that news media are the enemy of the people, this gives some people permission to act out.

"Using data collected by NASA’s late-great Cassini space probe, scientists have detected traces of complex organic molecules seeping out from Enceladus’ ice-covered ocean. It’s yet another sign that this intriguing Saturnian moon has what it takes to sustain life."

"Swirled amid the dust, soot and electromagnetic radiation that sits among the stars of the Milky Way, there is also a whole mess of toxic grease. This 'space grease' — actually an oily form of hydrogen-bound carbon called aliphatic carbon — is one of several types of carbon leaked into empty space by blazing stars, and may be among the key ingredients in the formation of new stars and planets, astronomers say."

"Friends of mine live in Hawaii, right next to the area impacted by the most recent lava flows. In the midst of the destruction nearby & stress of the unknown, they woke up to this - tiny pieces of olivine all over the ground. It is literally raining gems." (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"Government scientists trying out a new kitchen safety training video got an unpleasant surprise when they watched how people behave during food preparation… Not only did their volunteers fail to use meat thermometers properly — or even at all in many cases — but they failed to wash their hands and spread germs all over the kitchen." Washing your hands, it's not just for hospitals.

"Glioblastoma is a type of brain cancer that has recently been quite visible in the media after Sen. John McCain was treated for it. Glioblastoma claimed the lives of over 15,000 people in 2015. However, researchers at Duke University are working to reduce that number through 'oncolytic virus therapy' from an unexpected medical foe: The poliovirus." Fuck cancer.

"One reason the union's rate is so low is that it classifies occupational and physical therapy not as ancillary medical services but as alternative treatment, on par with acupuncture and chiropractic care, according to insurance policy documents provided by Lopez… Also, because of that categorization in Lopez's plan, the amount not covered by insurance that Lopez has to pay out-of-pocket doesn't even count toward the family's out-of-pocket maximum — that's when the sum of deductibles, premiums and other charges reaches a threshold that triggers the insurer to pick up the remainder of the tab." And this is considered a "good" health insurance policy.

"New and tougher rules designed to protect coal miners from the coal and silica dust that causes the fatal disease black lung may not be enough to stem an "epidemic" of the worst stages of the disease or the highest rates of disease in Central Appalachia in 25 years." Note the industry says it's pursued a "beyond compliance" route for over a decade now, and yet miners are still getting black lung in record numbers.

"Lawsuits and media reports have accused Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, of aggressively marketing the powerful narcotic even after it knew the drug was being misused. Prosecutors have charged the founder of Insys Therapeutics and several of the company's sales representatives and executives for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to bribe doctors to use its fentanyl spray for unapproved uses. State and local governments have sued a host of drug makers, alleging they deceptively marketed opioids and seeking to recoup what it costs to treat people addicted to the drugs." But this is the thing that gets me. When I've asked doctors to pain meds after a legit diagnosis that includes pain, such as post surgery, I have trouble getting the meds of my choice (not all painkillers work the same for everybody).

"Police in Germany have arrested a man who may have murdered 21 of his co-workers by poisoning their lunches in a killing spree stretching back to 2000."

What if we threw a parade and nobody came? "Four months after President Donald Trump directed the Defense Department to organize a military parade, planning is just beginning but no budget has been assigned yet." Just going to say, I love the photo of the French parade, all the berets with their rifles with bayonets. Who the fuck uses a bayonet anymore? And who the hell would want on a FAMAS with its bullpup design? Seriously, it would be more effective to use it as a handheld knife in your non-dominate hand. "It's like a pole-arm, but a really really short spear," (said in a bad French accent). Don't get me wrong, I like the bullpup concept for close in fighting and while the FAMAS has issues (and the French military is moving away from it), it's also quite effective. But what genius had the thought, "We'll add a bayonet, it'll be kickass"? (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"(Ag Secretary) Perdue wouldn’t say exactly what form the support would take, noting that it’s 'not good practice to open our playbook while the opposing team is watching.' But he appears to be suggesting that he’ll soon be hitting up the US Treasury and paying farmers, directly or indirectly, to offset sales lost to foreign buyers retaliating against Trump’s threatened tariffs. Despite his shrewd reticence in the USA Today piece, Perdue has been mulling such a program…" Your newly limited tax dollar being spent wisely. Waits to see "government tofu" being handed out in food pantries like "government cheese" was when I was a kid. (Grokked from Wesley Chu)

"In a large, brightly lit grocery store in Canada's capital Ottawa, Scott Chamberlain smoothly navigates his shopping cart through the produce section, looking for ingredients to make chili. He snaps up a bag of red peppers, clearly stamped 'Product of Canada.' But the only onions available are from the U.S. He reaches for Canadian-grown leeks instead." I wonder when we'll hear conservatives laments about the so-called politeness of Canadians?

Story from 2017, when the travel bans were first put in place. "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a message for refugees rejected by U.S. President Donald Trump: Canada will take you." PM Trudeau is trolling us quite well. Of course our president makes it easy for him. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Federal agents broke up a group of protesters early Thursday morning who had camped for several days in front of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Portland, Oregon, according to CBS affiliate KOIN-TV. Agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security then formed a human barricade outside the building and faced off with the protesters, who had backed up onto city property"

"Long-standing law requires candidate campaigns and party committees to report their finances regularly. But among outside groups — political action committees, superPACs and nonprofit groups — nearly half the money spent so far in the midterm elections was either never disclosed or only partially disclosed." And the new rule won't do much to help, either.

"Sounds good, right? Imagine, filing your taxes on a post card. What could be easier?… But a look at a draft version of the form, obtained by NPR, show things aren't quite so simple."

"Rep. Maxine Waters stirred up a lot of controversy last week when she called on people to confront Trump administration officials whenever they are out in public. Now the California Democrat reportedly has canceled events in Texas and Alabama because of a 'serious death threat' made against her." The conservatives can take their calls for "civility" and stick it.

"Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is asking a federal appeals court to order his release in advance of two upcoming criminal trials where he's set to face charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller." No.

There's some story brewing about how Justice Kennedy's son was the Deutsche Bank lender who gave Trump loans of nearly (or more than) $1 billion after Trump had defaulted on earlier loans (including to Deutsche Bank) and no other US bank would go near him. There's also a report that Justice Kennedy had already hired law clerks for the next year of cases, and had previously no intent of retiring, until having a 20 minute private conversation with the president. That Josh Kennedy was Trump's loan officer is now established, the rest is hearsay (or at least I haven't seen an article on it yet).

Tweet of my heart: @AllenCMarshall "What ever happened to civility?"… "You labeled it 'political correctness' and decided it was something bad." (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Linkee-poo Thursday

"But as the website became more prominent, Tommy realized there was a big problem: Weirdly positive reviews. Tommy suspected they were being written by supplement companies themselves." So we writes a program to spot bad reviews. ReviewMeta.com which also has browser plug ins.

So besides misunderstanding (and attempting to appropriate) the politics of Ian Banks, Elon Musk feels he can rip-off ceramics artist Tom Edwards and not have to do anything about it. Dude, seriously, the guy offered to talk and you shit all over it. It's a pretty clear case of copyright infringement. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A rush to pump oil out of the West Texas shale field has vaulted the United States to record-high production levels… But the gangbusters growth has created serious challenges. The Permian Basin is rapidly running out of pipeline to carry all that crude. Companies are struggling to find talented workers. And the region's infrastructure is buckling under the pressure." Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

"Their new study suggests that 'Oumuamua is a cometary interstellar object. They were able to determine this by accounting for the motion of the object itself."

"One of the more fascinating and horrible details in Reuters' thoroughly fascinating and horrible long-form report on Trump's cruel border policies is this nugget: ICE hacked the risk-assessment tool it used to decide whom to imprison so that it recommended that everyone should be detained." The computer made us do it. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"An immigration lawyer said she fractured her foot after being pushed to the ground by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer as she followed her client, a 3-year-old boy, into an ICE building in Kansas City, Mo."

Association health plans, "(Critics) point to 'the long history of fraud and scams and insolvencies' for these plans, says Timothy Jost, professor emeritus of law at Washington and Lee University in Virginia… 'I think consumers are going to be in for a pretty wild ride," Jost says.'"

"Satellite images from last week show that North Korea is making numerous improvements to the infrastructure at a nuclear research facility, according to a new study." This is my shocked face.

"ProPublica spent the past several days interviewing seven current and former employees from Southwest Key facilities in Texas and Arizona who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 'We have too many kids and not enough staff,' one employee said." Privatizing government functions is a Bad Idea™. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday, setting the stage for what promises to be an epic political battle over his replacement." Note that Kennedy, now considered "moderate" was a staunch Reagan conservative. He didn't change positions, it's just another metric of how far to the right conservatives have gone. Let the horse race betting begin.

"Details of a summit meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be announced on Thursday, a US official has told CNN. This official would not offer more details, but Helsinki, Finland, remains a leading site contender for the two leaders' meeting." It's annual review time.

"A Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin loaned jailed former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort $10 million, Reuters reported." I'm sure it was all normal business. (Grokked from Dan)

"First daughter Ivanka Trump’s company received approval from China to register three trademarks on the same day her father, President Donald Trump, agreed to lift sanctions against a Chinese telecommunications company, according to a government watchdog group." I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the president, Ivanka's father, overruled his commerce department and national security advisors to remove penalties and reinstate trade with a Chinese government owned entity that had been sanctioned for both trading with Iran and possible espionage. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Linkee-poo Wednesday

Apropos of nothing, Akamai's real-time web monitor where you can visually see heavy internet traffic as well as internet attacks. (Grokked from Dan)

"Smart home technology is being used to inflict new forms of domestic abuse on partners and former partners. Examples include everything from video surveillance through cameras to blasting out loud music through smart speakers and turning up thermostat temperatures to oppressive levels." (Grokked from John)

"This is what consciousness looks like – but these aren’t brain scans. Neuroscientist-turned-artist Greg Dunn created the art, aided by artist and physicist Brian Edwards, largely by hand, and using a special etching technique." So when people talk about "we only use 10% of our brain", understand that statistic is talking about all that complexity at the edges of the gyrus which are layers up[on layers of "grey matter." That the cell body and dendrite connection of the neuron. All those lines stretching back, that's the "white matter." Those are the axions of the same neurons, that's how the brain communicates with the other parts of the brain and with the body. That makes up roughly another 20% of mass (the rest are "non-processing" cells like glia, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and microglia cells (although this "non-processing" concept is currently being challenged). The neurons couldn't function without those other cell types. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Last month it was revealed that someone somewhere was illegally manufacturing a banned ozone-destroying chemical. Now it appears that small factories in China are the source." This is my surprised face. It looks just like my shocked face. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Now, a team of Norwegian scientists is suggesting it's watched the climate reach a tipping point: the loss of Arctic sea ice has flipped the Barents Sea from acting as a buffer between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans to something closer to an arm of the Atlantic." We're boned. (Grokked from John)

"In a blow to organized labor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that government workers who choose not to join a union cannot be charged for the cost of collective bargaining." In that case, the workers who choose not to pay agency fees should not be covered under the collective bargaining agreement and must negotiate their own terms of employment, which should not be grossly similar to the collective bargaining contract (different insurance, different pay scale, different vacation time, different grievance policy). If not, the unions in the next negotiations should create a separate class of employment for those people (and if I were in the union, it would mean substantially less pay to match "industry norms").

"In a stunning primary upset, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — a young socialist activist, woman of color and political newcomer — has unseated leading House Democrat Rep. Joe Crowley in New York's deep-blue 14th Congressional District." Dear DNC, please learn from this, and not the message most media seem to be sending ("she's a socialist!"), but that a "young activist, woman of color" won.

"An Air Force veteran was in serious condition on Tuesday after he set himself on fire in front of the Georgia Capitol to protest his treatment by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to state and local law enforcement officials." (Grokked in a roundabout way from Laura J Mixon)

"White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will reportedly receive temporary Secret Service protection days after she was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant." OMG, she was asked to leave a restaurant. Security! And a "Hollywood celebrity" said she should receive the same treatment people seeking asylum at our Southern border have received. Shocking! And now there's a whole discussion of "civility." Here's my hot take. I have been civil, and I see where that's gotten us. When I see the other side behave in a civil manner, I will return that attitude. But right now, I see no sign the other side intends to embrace their own call for civility, including the president and the functionaries of his administration. So fuck that call for civility. I aim to misbehave.

And why do we need to do this? "The extreme right is now in charge of the interior ministries in both Vienna and Rome, putting conspicuous pressure on the intelligence services. In Austria, there have even been police raids on the homes and offices of top intelligence service staffers." In the US, note the attack on the FBI, CIA and NSA from the so called "Law and Order" right. Fuck Nazis. (Grokked from John)

"China and Russia, emboldened by the Trump administration’s retreat on human rights issues and its drive to cut spending at the United Nations, are quietly seeking to scale back programs in U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world that protect civilians from violence and sexual exploitation, according to diplomats and confidential documents." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Sure, you've heard Trump Quotes as read by Mark Hamill in the voice of the Joker, but have you heard them in the voice of Zapp Brannigan from Futurama? (Grokked from John)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Linkee-poo the calliope crashed to the ground

"A division of the American Library Association voted unanimously Saturday to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a major children's literature award over concerns about how the author referred to Native Americans and blacks."

"Tick bites can cause all sorts of nasty afflictions. And if you're bitten by a Lone Star tick, here's one more to add to the list: a red meat allergy."

"Earlier that day, a customer at the Fishers, Indiana, store sat down on the couch to test it out, CNN affiliate WTTV reported… When he got up to keep shopping, he didn't realize his gun had fallen out of his pants… Later, a group of kids sat down on the sofa and found the gun, Fishers police told WTTV. One of them pulled the trigger and fired a single shot." You know how the NRA keeps saying it's just a few bad actors, well it seems there's a hellofalota bad actors out there.

"The medicinal acknowledgment of CBD should come as good news to marijuana startups eyeing the compound for consumer and medical consumption. Cannabis-derived CBD products are available where recreational marijuana is sold, though CBD derived from industrial hemp faces fewer regulations and is even stocked by some grocery stores."

"Scientists have long found that flight attendants get more breast cancer and melanoma. The new study, published Monday in the journal Environmental Health, saw the same trend and detected a higher prevalence of every other cancer the researchers examined: Non-melanoma skin cancer, uterine, gastrointestinal, cervical and thyroid cancers were all seen at a higher rate in flight attendants." Fuck cancer. And then there's this, "Flight attendants are often exposed to possible or probable carcinogens like pesticides, fire retardants, jet fuel and other chemicals more frequently than the general population. They are also exposed to higher levels of cosmic ionizing radiation; the World Health Organization says this is a cancer risk." It's that last one. As a person who works with radiation, those other things may also contribute, but it's mostly that last one. Living on Earth we're exposed to radiation from many sources (although medical radiation exposure has increased the most over time). You get about 300mREMs a year just living on this planet. One cross continent high-altitude flight is equal to about an extra week's worth of exposure, depending on solar activity (there have been severe spikes of radiation reordered on high-altitude flights). So let's say that's 7mREMs per flight. Let's say you have 2 flights 4 day a week, that's almost 3REM a year. As a radiation worker, if I get 5REM in a year, that can be the end of my career (at 5REM in a year, your chance of cancer increases to a point that it's identifiable as being out of the normal range for your population group), although there are also age considerations (having started later in my career, it's unlikely I'll ever reach the max allowable unless there is a sentinel-level radiation event).

"The fact is, grifters exist on both sides of the aisle, and right now is a really good time to get rich and famous off of liberal fear." Yes, this. Grifters look for the opportunity and will enter any space they think there's a profit to be made. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Apropos of nothing, buy my shirts.

If I can't make fun of myself, who can I make fun of?

"'If you think we're rallying now you ain't seen nothing yet,' Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif, told supporters at a rally in Los Angeles over the weekend, 'If you see anybody from that (Trump) Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere.' A video of her remarks was posted on Twitter on Sunday."

"The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the president's travel ban by a 5-4 ruling." Elections matter, and it's not just about abortion rights.

Nobody read the actual bill. "(The Republican's) recent tax-code rewrite requires churches, hospitals, colleges, orchestras and other historically tax-exempt organizations to begin paying a 21 percent tax on some types of fringe benefits they provide their employees… Many organizations are stunned to learn of the tax — part of a broader Republican effort to strip the code of tax breaks for employee benefits like parking and meals — and say it will be a significant financial and administrative burden." (Grokked from Dan)

"Despite pressure from President Trump for the U.S. to arrest and prosecute anyone caught crossing the border illegally, Customs and Border Protection says its agents will temporarily suspend the practice of detaining adults who arrive with children — something that had been a tenet of Trump's 'zero-tolerance' policy." I would like to say that it's because their hearts had grown three-sizes since then, but mostly it's because we've run out of places to keep them. Also, we need about 3 times the number of administrative judges (note, they are not Judicial Branch employees, but DoJ employees) to adjudicate all of the cases we already had in the system, let alone this increased workload. Whispers, just wait until we see the bill for all this.

"U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he will not put a timeline on negotiations for North Korea’s denuclearization, contradicting a senior defense official who said Washington would soon present a timeline to North Korea with 'specific asks.'" Anybody who has ever had to deal with an asshole boss knows exactly what's going on here. Boss says, "I want it ASAP," as the people tasked with doing the hard work try and tell them that it's not physically possible in the universe we occupy.

"In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said that Texas' legislative and congressional maps are not a racial gerrymander and that all districts are OK, except for one, which it determined is a racial gerrymander — House District 90." Oddly (not oddly) that's a district held by a democrat.

"Former radio host Randy Credico — who denies serving as that link but says he has served as a go-between at other times to WikiLeaks — told NPR that a prosecutor working for Mueller had asked him for a voluntary meeting… Credico said he declined. The special counsel's office declined to comment." So much for the "cooperating because we have nothing to hide" stance.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Linkee-poo, that's where the fun is

Elizabeth Bear post the proposed TOC of her writing book. I guess I should explain my fascination. Ms. Bear was an instructor at the Viable Paradise I attended. Her lecture on story plot structure was fabulous and I really wish I remembered more of it (I was stone-cold, deadman walking throughout my VP because of being overworked the week before and not getting adequate sleep while there). I also would devour her live journal posts on writing and re-writing.

Another example in the pageant of how stupid are we, "People in Vancouver reportedly paid $38 for bottles of unfiltered 'hot dog water' said to support weight loss, increase brain function, and give a more youthful appearance, Yahoo News reported." Yes it was a stunt, but people bought it. (Grokked from Lizz Winstead)

"Colored bulbs cast an eerie blue glow in the restroom of a convenience store where people who inject heroin and other drugs have been seeking the relative privacy of the stalls to shoot up… The blue lights are meant to discourage people from using drugs in store bathrooms by making it more difficult for them to see their veins. It's an idea that's been around for years but is getting a fresh look as a result of the nation's opioid epidemic." That'll show them.

"If you read the latest Social Security Trustees Report, you're aware that the program's combined trust funds are expected to run dry in 2034. And clearly, that's not great news. But before you start panicking about your benefits, it's important that you understand the implications of those trust funds running out." It's not actually a "trust fund", these are US Treasury Bonds Social Security has been buying with its surplus. They just aren't reinvesting them like before. Social Security is a pay as you go program, and just like Medicare/Medicaid it is paid for by a separate payroll tax (not your income tax). Want to make Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid solvent for the foreseeable future? Make all income taxable for Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid (currently you only pay on the first $128,400 of your income).

"A woman in Arizona made the brave choice this week, to make a very private loss — a miscarriage — into a public discussion, in the hopes that her story can save other women from what she went through at her local Walgreens. The pharmacist there refused to fill the prescription required to help her end her pregnancy, citing moral objections, even though her fetus no longer had a heartbeat." When people complain about Huckabee-Sanders being refused restaurant service, I just remember that conservative championed these "moral consciousness" exclusion laws and I'm just fine with it.

"In a major win for privacy rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that police must obtain a search warrant in order to get access to cellphone location information." Good.

"In Virginia, where the law already requires schools to post 'In God We Trust' signs in public buildings, the Lee County Public Schools is going a step further… Starting next year, the school buses will also have to promote God using these (same) signs." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"By a razor-thin margin, the House of Representatives passed its version of the farm bill Thursday as Republican leadership was able to round up just enough support from members of its conservative wing to clear passage… The $867 billion package renews the safety net for farmers across the country, but also includes tougher work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Program or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps." Because the GOP likes to fuck the poor to give money to millionaires.

"Months before he was asked to review a Justice Department request for a citizenship question to be added to the 2020 census, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross already had concluded that including one 'could be warranted.' In fact, Ross and his staff asked the Justice Department to submit the formal request for the controversial question, according to a newly released memo written by the Commerce secretary." Wow, that's like a whole closet of shoes dropping. Because not also means Wilbur Ross committed perjury during his congressional hearings.

"The White House unveiled a plan Thursday to merge the Education and Labor departments into a single Cabinet agency: the Department of Education and the Workforce. The proposal is part of a 132-page document outlining a broad restructuring of the federal government. The changes would require congressional approval."

"The Pentagon is being asked by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide temporary beds for up to 20,000 undocumented children. That bed space would be needed beginning in July and running through the end of the year."

"President Trump is repealing a controversial executive order drafted by former President Obama that was meant to protect the Great Lakes and the oceans bordering the United States… In his own executive order signed late Tuesday, Trump put a new emphasis on industries that use the oceans, particularly oil and natural gas drilling, while also mentioning environmental stewardship." Because of course they would. I've seen this movie before. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Days before taking office, Donald Trump said his company would donate all profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, part of an effort to avoid even the appearance of a conflict with the Constitution’s emoluments clause… Now, however, the Trump Organization is telling Congress that determining exactly how much of its profits come from foreign governments is simply more trouble than it’s worth." What's a law? Most corrupt presidency ever, and that's working hard to cross that bar. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

How go the Trade Wars? "Harley-Davidson says it plans to move production of motorcycles it sells in Europe overseas in response to growing trade friction between the United States and Europe." I'm sure this somehow means more American jobs somewhere.

"Ranking U.S. House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They want to know more about a land deal between Zinke's family foundation and a real estate project with ties to the oil and gas giant Halliburton. Earlier this week, Politico first broke the story on a possibly unethical relationship between Zinke's family foundation and a proposed real estate development in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana." Corruption Junction, what's you're function? To bilk the people, and hide the money careful.

"Federal prosecutors have canceled their planned interview with Stormy Daniels Monday, according to Daniels' attorney."

"They've promised a vote on compromise legislation that was brokered among moderates, conservatives, GOP leaders and the White House in the hopes of crafting an immigration bill that can win the votes of 218 of the 235 House Republicans. At the end of last week, multiple GOP sources told NPR that leaders were still far short of that threshold. Leaders have so far been unable to bridge the divide, and the fight is fueling accusations that they are out of step with members of their conference."

"Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emerged victorious in a high-stakes election, seeing off the most serious challenge yet to his political dominance and tightening his grip on the nation he has ruled for 15 years." Just barely eking out an above 50% showing so as to avoid a runoff.

"The way these recent presidential decisions on major national security issues have played out, as detailed by current and former White House and defense officials, underscores a significant change in Mattis's role in recent months. The president is relying less and less on the advice of one of the longest-serving members of his cabinet, the officials said." Funny how the longer someone serves in this administration, the more on the "outs" they become.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Linkee-poo for a Friday

"A plain, single-story structure housing the new Maple Museum of Geauga County in Burton Village provides no indication of the plethora of historical treasures presented within." People around these parts are awfully proud of their tree sap. Growing up syrup on pancakes used to give me headaches, until I had the "Real Thing™". No more headaches.

"Just in time for the hot, humid, bug-bite-riddled summer, here's another disease to worry about: Researchers from the University of Florida have confirmed a new mosquito-borne virus has made the jump from infecting only animals to infecting humans in a study published earlier this month." Life finds a way.

"Two common herpes viruses appear to play a role in Alzheimer's disease… The viruses, best known for causing a distinctive skin rash in young children, are abundant in brain tissue from people with Alzheimer's, a team of scientists reports Thursday in Neuron. The team also found evidence that the viruses can interact with brain cells in ways that could accelerate the disease." But it's not certain if it's a casual or a causal relationship.

"At least 33 children and three adults have been transported to hospital after they fell sick at a summer camp in Lake Placid, Florida, officials say."

"Bedrock under Antarctica is rising more swiftly than ever recorded — about 1.6 inches (41 millimeters) upward per year. And thinning ice in Antarctica may be responsible… That's because as ice melts, its weight on the rock below lightens. And over time, when enormous quantities of ice have disappeared, the bedrock rises in response, pushed up by the flow of the viscous mantle below Earth's surface, scientists reported in a new study." See Northern NJ as an example.

"While many residents fear the monthly rocket launches that pepper the region with debris, others see in it a unique opportunity. Resourceful scrap dealers wait for the announcement of rocket launches and then watch the sky with binoculars. They track the paths of debris and ride out on jeeps and even on horses to the crash sites. With little protective gear other than welding masks, they use blowtorches to strip the wrecks of their valuable light metals, alloys of titanium and aluminium, as well as other useful components like copper wire. Visitors to the region have reported seeing the roofs of chicken coops and sheds built with rocket parts still showing the original Proton insignia. Even farm tools and sledges for children have been built out of the fragments of rocket hulls." Life on the Altai where precious materials rain form the sky and bring prosperity, death and disease. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"A Canadian mining firm says it will move forward with plans to mine minerals from land that was previously part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah." That was fast. Usually companies wait until the public has forgotten about their dick moved before moving in on the kill.

"Depictions of dinosaurs often show the animals baring their teeth with their tongues outstretched like lizards. However, a study published in the journal PLOS ONE indicates that this image may be inaccurate because dinosaur tongues were probably stuck to the bottom of their mouths, much like those of crocodiles and alligators today." So, besides making fun of the T-Rex's short arms you can now taunt them by sticking your tongue out at them. It'll be funny right up until the time they chomp your head off.

More in the "just how dumb are we"? "Stonehenge was designed using a complex mathematical formula some 2,000 years before the equation was even established, it has been revealed." You know before Fibonacci came along, everything progressed by adding 1 to the previous number, leaves were symmetrical and spaced evenly, and… well, you get the point. Dudes, seriously, the pyramids were built following Pythagorean geometry because here's the thing, you can make an right-angle triangle out of sticks or with a knotted string and use that to do your rough calculations and on-site planning. It's not that fucking hard. Also, as you may have learned in 9th grade geometry, the science was based on observing patterns existing in nature. These things didn't suddenly appear because come yokel wrote "a^2 + b^2 = c^2…" POOF! Viola. Please don't ever show these precious ones a roofing/speed square, it will blow their freaking minds ("but it's not a square!").

And then we have this. "One of the enduring mysteries of biology is why so much of the DNA in our chromosomes appears to be simply junk. In fact, about half of the human genome consists of repetitive bits of DNA that cut and paste themselves randomly into our chromosomes, with no obvious purpose." No, we call it "junk" because we don't understand what it does. Hint to everybody, I know it appears that we know a lot, and people in white coats love to make you think they're the All Powerful Wizard of Oz, but basically we don't know fucking squat. Or as my anatomy professor liked to tell us, "Medicine, it's the best lies we know." It wasn't that long ago (civilization wise) that humans "believed" in "spontaneous generation" of lower life forms (actually that's not completely correct, but only in the same way people thought the Earth was flat, which by the time of Columbus nobody really thought that). This is why science is great.

"The court ruled 5-4 in favor of South Dakota's law to require certain out-of-state sellers to collect the tax on sales to South Dakota customers."

"The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted Thursday on fraud charges, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported… Prosecutors allege that Sara Netanyahu committed systemic fraud by directing staff at the prime minister’s residence to order meals totaling 360,000 shekels, or roughly $99,000, from gourmet restaurants between 2010 and 2013."

"Right-wing extremists are making their presence felt in mainstream American politics. Whether they are running for high-profile offices themselves, or aligning themselves with candidates in races around the country, members of the extremist right – and their racist, anti-Semitic views – are experiencing more exposure today than at any time in recent history." Fuck, Nazis. Fuck Nazis. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Apparently FLOTUS wore a jacket from Zara that has the phrase, "I really don't care, co u? printed on the back. This was as she went to tour the children's detention centers. "Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, when asked about the message said, 'It's a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today's important visit to Texas, I hope this isn't what the media is going to choose to focus on.'" Oh you precious Summer child.

There are some rumors that the First Lady's trip yesterday wasn't to an actual detention center, but just a staged photo op. "Melania Trump visited a church-run shelter and staged a photo-op for the press while canceling the visit to the real detention center." So far I haven't found much collaboration of this story, so I'm not going to link to it, but it was enough to say there are rumors that yesterday's trip wasn't all it was supposed to be.

"In the latest chapter of “Sinclair Spews Conservative Propaganda on Hundreds of Television Channels,” the media conglomerate forced its networks to air a segment claiming that the outcry over the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their families and placing them in detention centers was largely just liberal histrionics." This is the world they want, this isn't an unfortunate accident of circumstances. (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"White House senior adviser Stephen Miller was called a fascist earlier this week while dining at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., according to the New York Post… The incident occurred just a few days before activists similarly interrupted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's dinner at a Mexican restaurant, resulting in her leaving the restaurant." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Linkee-poo Thursday

I'd be remise if I didn't point out a few other writerly patreon/drip items. Fran Wilde has a Drip were she offers a lot of things. She also was doing a LOUDBIRD thing (it was a twitter performance piece, but I think she was making it into a bigger project). I don't know if her general drip account gets you that as well, but her LOUDBIRD tweets were hilarious (and a welcomed respite from the news these past two weeks). Jason Sanford has a patreon and subscribers get a genre gossip column. I hear it's excellent. =Tobias Buckell has a patreon where you get exclusive stories and other things. Tobias is one hoopy frood and I dig his writing. And Kameron Hurley also has a patreon where you also get access to exclusive stories. Ms Hurley is also working to emigrate to Canada, but I'm not sure if she wants help through the patreon or her general tip jar for help with that (and if she's watching, there are many of us who are interested in this process, we'd all like to know more).

John Scalzi gives his endorsement for "distraction-free" software. I've heard of Freedom before (from Tobias Buckell, IIRC), and I think I had installed an earlier version, but then never activated it. I may need to do something like this soon.

"So go home. Sleep. And then when you are ready, spread your wings and begin to fly." Cat Rambo's morning keynote speech for the Surrey International Writers Conference (2016).

"Koko, a western lowland gorilla known for her impressive sign language skills, died in her sleep Tuesday morning at the age of 46, The Gorilla Foundation has reported."

"Last week, a giant dust storm on Mars took up about a quarter of the Red Planet. Now, it's officially "planet-encircling" global dust event, according to NASA." CNN, um, you do know the Curiosity tweets are not actually written by the Curiosity rover, right?

"A 9-year-old boy in Greece permanently injured his left eye when he repeatedly gazed into a laser pointer's green beam, doctors say." Don't do this.

"There has been increasing attention directed towards the rising rate of colorectal cancer in younger age groups. In the United States, there was a 51 percent increase in colorectal cancer incidence in adults younger than 55 years old between 1994 and 2014." Fuck cancer.

Just how stupid are we? "According to a recent survey, seven percent of Americans believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows." Yes, all the respondents were "adults." Actually most of our milk comes from holsteins which are black and white (and have been made into grotesque, monsterous parodies of cows by breeding to get high-milk production - yes, they still "look" like cows from a distance, but they're giants whose hips bulge out of their skin and they have weak legs). (Grokked from Saladin Ahmed)

"By the time Fridays roll around, 74-year-old Hale, a principal at West Elementary School in McArthur, Ohio, is overcome with worry, wondering whether her students will survive the couple of days away from school." Meth is making a comeback. About 2 years ago a house just west of the village blew up. It was a meth lab and they got careless. Meth never really went away, it's just heroin was cheaper. But now meth is made in Mexico. See drugs come and go, but the problem never does. It just stays and burrows deeper into the fabric of communities.

How go the Trade Wars? China tells their farmers to grow more soybeans.

"According to the suit filed by Underwood, who took over the A.G.’s office after her predecessor, Eric Schneiderman, resigned over abuse allegations, the Trump Foundation “was little more than a checkbook for payments to not-for-profits from Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization.” Here’s a taste of the allegations regarding how the family charity misappropriated its funds…" Someone's been naughty. Remember when Trump asked us if we wanted to have a president who was being investigated for criminal activity from day one of their presidency? (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"'The students reviewing these records were shocked by the abuse and neglect these children were subjected to at the hands of U.S. officials. The fact that these children were already so vulnerable — most traveling alone in hopes of escaping violence and poverty in their home countries — made the unlawful and inhumane actions reflected in the documents even more distressing,' said Claudia Flores, faculty director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School." And this was during the Obama Administration when it was just "unaccompanied" minors. Jail is no place to "store" kids. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"The nonprofit, Southwest Key Programs Inc., is to be paid more than $458 million in fiscal 2018, according to the data -- the most among the organizations, government agencies and companies that run a detention and care system for immigrant children on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services. Southwest Key has about a dozen facilities in Texas, including a site at a former WalMart Inc. store in Brownsville that has drawn attention from members of Congress and national news organizations." Just because it's a "non-profit" does not mean they don't make a hellalotta profit. (Grokked from Kelli Link)

"The cost of holding migrant children who have been separated from their parents in newly created "tent cities" is $775 per person per night, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services — far higher than the cost of keeping children with their parents in detention centers or holding them in more permanent buildings." The problem is we don't have enough permanent buildings to implement this plan. It costs even less to release these families with some form of tracking. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"As President Trump faced growing outrage over his child detention policy on the U.S.-Mexico border, conservative outlets like Fox News and Breitbart scrambled to his defense. They urged Trump to stand firm, describing the forced separation of migrant children from their families as part of a strategy to keep America's borders safe… But by Wednesday afternoon, that narrative began to unravel as national outrage grew and it became clear the president would reverse course."

"The order also seeks more authority to detain those families together until the end of their immigration proceedings. That process will begin immediately, which is likely to be met with swift legal challenges, though the order does acknowledge that current law may restrict their hands… But there are no new special procedures for children already in custody, according to the Department of Health and Human Services." This is not an actual reversal of the previous policy, and it adds a whole lot more bullshittery to the mix.

"According to the investigation, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in California in late April alleges the Shiloh Treatment Center, a private shelter south of Houston that houses immigrant minors, was administering drugs to children against their will, leaving them 'dizzy, listless, obese and even incapacitated,' as described by the Reveal report. Reveal also reported that the children were told the injections were vitamins, and that they could not see their families again unless they cooperated." JFC!

"Immigrant children as young as 14 housed at a juvenile detention center in Virginia say they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells."

"Dozens of federal agents descended on a major meat supplier in northeast Ohio on Tuesday, arresting 146 Fresh Mark employees in what the agency calls its largest workplace raid in recent history — and its second massive raid in the state this month." Still, no business owners have been arrested or charged with all these ICE business raids.

"You could call what (Sec. Nielsen) said a deception, an evasion or a technical nicety. NPR will not call what Nielsen said a lie because it cannot gauge her intent… I report about the media for NPR and in so doing, I periodically cover NPR and its policies. I don't speak for the network. I would say the word 'lie' fits here." Conservatives thought Obama lied all the time (mostly because the truth didn't fit into their worldview), so now they believe they also can lie all the time.

"'Was that a man or a woman? Because he needs a haircut more than I do,' Trump joked as the protester was escorted out of the Duluth event. 'I couldn't tell. Needs a haircut.'" Long-haired, hippy freaks need not apply. YEs, conservatives are still fighting the culture wars of the late 50s.

Tweet of my heart: @MykeCole "This is not who we are" is the new "thoughts and prayers." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Linkee-poo is all out of pennies and the well, it done run dry

Wow, GE is being dropped from the DOW Jones Industrials. That's huge (but not entirely unexpected). Again, the DOW is rigged to go up and GE has been a solid underperformer for almost a decade. The real social problem here is that a lot of GE retirees' pensions are almost all GE stock.

Elizabeth Bear is writing a book about writing and her Patreon sponsors will get a first look. I think this is about the first Patreon that has me really thinking of signing up.

I have nothing against Patreon (or Drip), or the people who use it (hell, I've thought of setting one up), but long ago I trained my brain to think about money in this fashion; "$3 a month is $36 at the end of the year. That's a first-run movie with snacks or a moderate diner before drinks and tip." I started that thought process to keep me from falling into economic traps and to re-enforce good habits (like bringing a lunch instead of buying a lunch). My other habit it to calculate just how much work I have to do to pay for something.

"Both the Hollywood Reporter and Variety reported Tuesday that plans are afoot to bring multiple new Star Trek shows to life…" I'll believe it when I see them. This is one of those, "let's see what buzz we can develop" stories to judge if a project would have the audience draw it would need to be profitable.

"In addition to making Venus notoriously inhospitable to rover missions, the planet’s thick atmosphere and the speed at which it moves may accelerate Venus’s rotation, Science News reports."

"Scientists have uncovered a pit of human bones at a Civil War battlefield in Virginia. The remains are the amputated limbs of wounded Union soldiers… It's the first 'limb pit' from a Civil War battlefield to be excavated, and experts say it opens a new window on what is often overlooked in Civil War history: the aftermath of battle, the agony of survivors and the trials of early combat surgeons."

"A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine on Tuesday provides some new insight. It found that those who drink the most have the highest risks of death and cancer… Yet the study also found that a person's combined risk of dying younger or developing cancer is lowest among light drinkers: those consuming only one to three alcoholic drinks per week. That risk increases with each additional drink consumed per week." Unfortunately the study (which I've heard other reports about, one of which was AB InBev pulling their funding) doesn't show a direct link between alcohol consumption and risks, only a casual (not causal) relationship. People who drink moderately may have other tendencies which lead to lower mortality and cancer risks, or those who don't drink or drink heavily have other behaviors that lead to increased risks of cancer or mortality. This is like those studies of "people who live (in place) eat (dietary prescriptiveness) and live longer lives" which leads people to believe if they eat those foods they'll live longer. Which the study doesn't actually say (and more in-depth research show many social differences which help those people live longer).

"More than 115 Americans are dying every day from an opioid overdose. But a study out Monday finds that just three in 10 patients revived by an EMT or in an emergency room received the follow-up medication known to avoid another life-threatening event." Remember when Trump declared an emergency? Where did all that money (he finally allocated) go? "Even at just 3 in 10 patients, Massachusetts was likely offering more opioid medication treatment than many states as of 2014. That's because 97 percent of the state's residents have health insurances, the highest rates in the country. In many parts of the U.S., it's difficult to find someone who will prescribe a patient methadone or buprenorphine." Again universal, single-payor, comprehensive health care for all would solve a lot of this problem.

"Mounting evidence suggests that many key plants lose nutritional value at higher CO2 levels, and scientists are running experiments all over the world to try to tease out the effects." So in the future our food will be less nutritious. Hint, it already is. Yes, plants love increase CO2 levels. For almost all plants it makes them grow faster. But faster growing does not mean better plants. That includes trees, which have also shown a tendency to grow faster with increased CO2 levels, but the wood they produce is not structurally sound enough to produce dimensional lumber.

"A plan to save $75 million on Akron’s massive sewer project is awaiting a federal judge’s approval, after changes were approved by the Akron City Council." While that's a fraction of the $1.2 billion project, it still shows how "greener" is cheaper. Note the amended plan also will include repaving some roads (and plus), small "green spaces" (another plus), and reduce the storm water load the sewer will need to handle (all pluses).

Why do we need regulations? "Big banks are skirting the rules on the sale of the complex financial instruments that helped bring about the 2008 financial crisis, by exploiting a loophole in federal banking regulations… The loophole could leave Wall Street exposed to big losses, potentially requiring taxpayers to once again bail out the biggest banks, warns the report's author, Michael Greenberger, former director of trading and markets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission." Because the greed factor is too high.

How go the Trade Wars? "The White House said Monday evening that if China goes through with its promise to retaliate against the US tariffs announced last week, the United States will impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods." Tit meet Tat, shake hands. And just as an aside, while we talk of Stormy Daniels, the separation of parents and children at our border, and the so obvious interference of the Russians in our domestic politics (and support of Trump as president) as bringing Trump down it's the fall out from this trade war that will actually do it.

More Trade War news. "The Dow sank around 350 points, or 1.4%, on Tuesday. That put it in negative territory for the year and on track for its sixth straight day of losses. The S&P and the Nasdaq fell, too."

"The combined wealth of the world’s millionaires rose for a sixth straight year and topped $70 trillion for the first time ever in 2017 thanks to an improving global economy and strong stock market performance, according to a new report released Tuesday." Why do you rob banks, Mr. Sutton? Where do you look to increase taxes, beleaguered average American Citizen?

"President Donald Trump was vocal on Twitter on Monday morning amid a rising outcry from both sides of the aisle over his administration's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy." Manbaby tears.

"A Michigan resident awoke Tuesday morning to slashed tires, swastikas and a racist message spray-painted on the pickup truck parked outside his family’s home in Vienna Township." And they can't even spell "white" correctly.

"After more than a year of complaints and warnings — some subtle and others a little less so — the Trump administration has announced that the United States is withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council."

"The president on Tuesday called on Congress to come up with a 'third option': for the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit. This is similar to a practice used during the Obama administration, when some families were detained together. That, too, was criticized, but it is emerging now as a preferred alternative." With a discussion of the Flores Settlement Agreement.

"The head of the American Academy of Pediatrics went so far as to call the policy 'child abuse' and against 'everything we stand for as paediatricians'."

"Kirstjen Nielsen says it’s 'offensive' to suggest the Trump administration is purposely separating families… But that’s exactly what the homeland security secretary and other officials are directing border agents to do." When did conservatives just get so bad at lying?

"Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's rough week got worse on Tuesday night after activists interrupted her dinner at a Washington D.C. Mexican restaurant and heckled her for her department's controversial 'zero tolerance' child separation immigration policy." In the words of Finley Peter Dunne, "The job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable." Don't worry she can always dine at the Trump International. I hear they have great taco bowels. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"U.S. Senate Democrats on Monday pressed Justice Department officials about whether some FBI agents may have leaked damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Rudy Giuliani, now an adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, shortly before the 2016 election." Rhut rho, Raggy.

"Olivia Nuzzi had no plans to play the heart-rending audio of Central American children crying for their parents when she arrived in the White House briefing room Monday… When no one else did, Nuzzi said, 'I just kind of went for it.'" (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"The Trump administration rolled out a rule that will allow small businesses and self-employed workers the option to buy less-expensive health insurance plans that can jettison benefits required by the Affordable Care Act." I'm currently in one of those, it's not all that great (and not at all inexpensive). It's just another ploy to weaken the Obamacare markets.

I am Spartacus. "As Donald Trump walked through the Capitol Rotunda to his meeting with the GOP, amid tensions over the current immigration crisis gripping his administration, a young woman’s voice echoed down down the hallowed halls of Washington power: 'Mr. President, f*** you!'" (Grokked in a roundabout way from Kathryn Cramer)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Linkee-poo Tuesday

"We have an announcement: after thirteen years, Shimmer’s closing. Our last issue will be November 2018." Well fuck. (Grokked from lots of people)

The Planet Money podcast on storing solar power in batteries (and what those batteries actually are).

"Russia’s state-run media channel Russia 24 wants everyone to know that President Donald Trump belongs to Moscow." Yeah yeah, tell us something we don't know. (Grokked from Elizabeth Bear)

"A federal judge on Monday ruled that Kansas’ proof of citizenship voter registration requirement was a violation of the Constitution as well as the National Voter Registration Act." Oh, and the judge ordered that Kris Kobach needs to complete 6 hours of continuing education to specifically focus on rules of evidentiary procedure. That's the nice and legal way her saying the Kansas Secretary of State doesn't know how to do his job properly. What would be hilarious is if the appeals court agreed to hear the case, but rule that Kobach had to complete those 6 hours before they would entertain arguments. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Why the passing of David Koch won't really change much. "(T)he Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government." They've built institutions that will long outlast them. And here's the money shot, "Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads." See, they don't oppose all taxes, just those that won't directly or indirectly help them. It's just more of the "Got mine, screw you" mentality. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"More than 600 clergy and members of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ church denomination have filed a formal complaint against him, claiming that he’s committed a slew of offenses against the United Methodist Church’s 'Book of Discipline' with his 'zero tolerance' immigration policy." For someone who used the Bible to justify his actions, having your church say, "Nope" probably stings a bit. (Grokked from Dan)

"Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday described the facilities that are holding immigrant children who have been separated from their parents as 'essentially summer camps.'" I don't know what summer camps conservatives send their kids to, but yeesh. Of course she walked it back to "like boarding schools." Again, not sure what kind of schools conservatives are sending their kids to… And just to reiterate, Laura Ingraham is a Nazi.

This form an article about Kirstjen Nielsen's performance, "But Kelly’s status in the White House has changed in recent months, and he and the president are now seen as barely tolerating one another. According to four people close to Kelly, the former Marine general has largely yielded his role as the enforcer in the West Wing as his relationship with Trump has soured. While Kelly himself once believed he stood between Trump and chaos, he has told at least one person close to him that he may as well let the president do what he wants, even if it leads to impeachment — at least this chapter of American history would come to a close." If that's the case, General, you're ignoring your oath of office. (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Linkee-poo feels a hot wind on my shoulder and the touch of a world that is older

Large image of Pluto (Grokked from John)

"Fifty years ago, 5 unmanned lunar orbiters circled the moon, taking extremely high resolution photos of the surface. They were trying to find the perfect landing site for the Apollo missions. They would be good enough to blow up to 40 x 54ft images that the astronauts would walk across looking for the great spot. After their use, the images were locked away from the public until after the bulk of the moon landings, as at the time they would have revealed the superior technology of the USA’s spy satellite cameras, which the orbiters cameras were designed from." (Grokked from Dan)

"Native to the Caucasus region, (giant hogweed) looks like a huge mutant version of the benign common hogweed - but it can cause severe skin burns if you so much as brush against the bristles on its stalks."

"'What people deserve is well thought-out information,' (James Evans, a professor of genetics and medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) says. 'The only people who will really benefit are the investors in these companies that market these incomplete and misleading (medical DNA) tests.'" You know what would really help? Universal, single-payor, comprehensive medical insurance.

"Attom Data looked at the annual change in home prices and sales across 3,397 cities around the country, then divided those cities into five groups based on their exposure to various types of natural disasters. What they found suggests the threats of climate change are beginning to register." Beach front property should be getting real cheap, but not, you know, where it's really pretty.

"Politicians often sell charters as a solution for low-income black and brown students stuck in poor-performing public schools. Yet, by 2015, racially identifiable white charter schools had emerged in 18 states — at a time when charters existed in 42 states. The federal government has played a role in the growth of these charters by granting charter startup grants to schools without considering whether they will lead to increased segregation. Some have been approved even while their communities were still under active school desegregation court orders, and in one case even after residents implored the federal court to step in and bar the school from opening." Gee, charter schools were designed to reverse desegregation? Shocked, shocked I am…

"The World Health Organization announced "gaming disorder" as a new mental health condition included in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases, released Monday." Here we go again.

"One teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she didn’t know because the child’s aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She said she had to show others in her cell how to change the girl’s diaper." We are creating the next generations of people who will fight us because of our inhumanity towards them. (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"A group of House Democrats converged on an immigration detention facility in New Jersey on Sunday, days before a planned vote by House Republicans next week. Meanwhile, Trump administration officials alternately took credit and sought to distance the administration from the family separation policy."

"With chants of 'families united' and 'free our children now,' hundreds of people marched to the tent city in Tornillo, Texas, where children have been detained for immigration violations."

"Former first lady Laura Bush spoke out Sunday night about the separation of families on the US border, writing a harsh criticism of the current zero-tolerance immigration policy being enforced under the Trump administration… Bush, whose opinion piece ran in The Washington Post, decries the separation of children from parents entering the United States illegally as 'cruel' and 'immoral.'"

So what could be the harm by making "illegals" feel vulnerable and that they can't trust the police for fear of separation and deportation? "A Texas sheriff's deputy was being held Monday on a charge of 'super aggravated sexual assault' of a 4-year-old girl after authorities say her mother, an undocumented immigrant, was being blackmailed to stay silent about the abuse — or face deportation." And I'll just note that to fill hiring quotas ICE and CBP have stopped a lot of the vetting of their applicants (because so many failed they couldn't keep [positions filled). (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

So, everybody happy we're not talking about Stormy Daniels "taking down the president" anymore?

"In November 2017, (Commerce Secretary Wilbur) Ross confirmed in writing to the federal Office of Government Ethics that he had divested everything he promised… But that was not true." Ah, the "amended paperwork" gambit again. (grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"The Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped two major cases concerning partisan gerrymandering, allowing controversial district maps to stand and be used in this fall's midterm elections." They're not going to be able to avoid it much longer.

"There are, after all, valid security questions for election officials across the country: from the fact that 13 states still use electronic voting machines that don't provide an auditable paper trail, to the security of local election websites that have often never seen a major test… Even if every state did prioritize its own issues, bureaucracy has slowed the process. With midterms nearing, and the intelligence community warning about impending interference from Russia, that could be a problem." The problem of our current "last minute possible" or reactionary form of governing (it's a conservative mindset/problem)

Sherman, set the Spin-cycle Machine to high. "Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Christopher Wray will head to Capitol Hill Monday, to be grilled by senators about last week's inspector general's report that concluded that the FBI violated long-standing department guidelines and mishandled the Hillary Clinton email investigation in 2016."

Friday, June 15, 2018

Late Linkee-poo

"A federal judge ordered Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to jail on Friday following allegations by prosecutors that he tampered with witnesses in his case." Most likely Manafort will never see the outside of a jail again unless the President pardons him. Which might trigger a crisis. The President has already lied today that Manafort only worked for him for 49 days (it was 144 days).

Linkee-poo closes out the week

"An entity called 'MSE Media LLC,' registered to a private residence in Austin, Texas and listing the email address of Austin IP lawyer Tim D. Chheda as a contact email has filed an application to trademark 'DRAGON SLAYER' in connection with fantasy novels." (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"Foods that combine fats and carbs appear to send the human brain haywire, creating rewards above and beyond what people get from foods that contain either ingredient alone, researchers reported Thursday."

"Since American politics is a big puke-hole into which more puke is always being dumped, though, Stewart then ran for Senate, and this time he won the primary and will face incumbent Tim Kaine in November. At Stewart’s Tuesday-night victory party, his supporters began a chant of 'lock her up!'—her being the uppity she-demon Hillary Clinton—to which he responded by suggesting that Kaine should also go to prison…" An yet, apparently, we're not supposed to cuss. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The Trump administration's latest move against 'Obamacare' could jeopardize legal protections on pre-existing medical conditions for millions of people with employer coverage, particularly workers in small businesses, say law and insurance experts." This will affect your health insurance even if you don't buy it through the exchanges.

"Police officers regularly ordered paramedics to administer ketamine, the OCPR report says. It then questions why suspects received the drug before being transported to a hospital, 'given the immediate effects on breathing and heart function that the drug induces.'" JFC! If that is true, that paramedics have injected patients with ketamine at the instructions or urging of police, both the police and the paramedics need to be fired and prosecuted. Police can not, NOT, give medical direction and you can only give medicine when ordered by a doctor (or NP, or just a few others, but not police).

"An unnamed Obama administration official told Politico that resorting to a job fair is an unusual measure for an administration to take, as White House jobs are usually highly sought after. The official added that West Wing jobs are rarely even listed on the official job site for the federal government, and that the Obama administration only recruited to increase the diversity of White House staff." Only the best people. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

How goes the Trade War? "U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin to collect tariffs on the first $34 billion worth of Chinese imports on July 6. A second set of imports subject to tariffs is still under review." At this point it's circus, but it'll soon affect everyone's bread.

"'We’re here now,' the president said, according to the people. 'Why can’t we just do it?'…Trump’s impatience, coupled with a tense staff-level meeting between the two sides on Sunday, left some aides fearful that the entire summit might be in peril." His greatest weakness is that he thinks he's still running his corporation and not the government.

"Lawmakers, advocates and journalists are outraged at the the mural of President Donald Trump at a holding center for migrant children in Texas, labeling the painting and subsequent quote from Trump’s 'Art of the Deal' book 'Orwellian' and un-American." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Jesus this morning is a shitshow. The AG and the WH Press Secretary quoting the Bible (incorrectly and by using a passage used to justify both slavery and the Holocaust in the first part, and just in general to the divine right of kings on the second part). The president saying he would like people to treat him like N. Koreans treat Kim Jung Un. Way too many things going on.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Linkee-poo on a Thursday

Neil Gaiman's 8 rules of writing.

"The revised paper says only that people eating the Mediterranean diet had fewer strokes and heart attacks, not, as the original paper claimed, that the diet was the direct cause of those health benefits." Lies, damnable lies, and statistics. "It turns out approximately 14 percent of the more than 7,400 study participants hadn't been assigned randomly to either the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one… When the researchers reanalyzed the data excluding the nonrandomized people, the results were the same…"

"Scientists have completed the most exhaustive assessment of changes in Antarctica's ice sheet to date. And they found that it's melting faster than they thought… Ice losses totaling 3 trillion tonnes (or more than 3.3 trillion tons) since 1992 have caused global sea levels to rise by 7.6 mm, nearly one third of an inch, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday." We're boned.

"Oil companies now help support a cottage industry of consultants and product manufacturers in Alaska, all providing workarounds for the fact that the frozen ground they rely on to produce oil isn't as frozen as it used to be." Climate change as business opportunity.

"With hospitals pushing patients out the door earlier, nursing homes are deluged with increasingly frail patients. But many homes, with their sometimes-skeletal medical staffing, often fail to handle post-hospital complications — or create new problems by not heeding or receiving accurate hospital and physician instructions… Patients, caught in the middle, may suffer. One in 5 Medicare patients sent from the hospital to a nursing home boomerangs back within 30 days, often for potentially preventable conditions such as dehydration, infections and medication errors, federal records show. Such rehospitalizations occur 27 percent more frequently than for the Medicare population at large." Yes Medicaid and Medicare need reforming, unfortunately one side of the political debate simply wants to end the programs so real reform is probably not possible at this time.

Remember Rand Paul being tackled by his neighbor? "The next day, Paul, possibly underestimating the depths of his neighbor’s rage, used his lawnmower to blow leaves from his property onto Boucher’s. Then he piled on the insults: 'During this process, Rand Paul stepped away from his lawnmower, gathered several branches from an adjacent pile of trash, and placed them in the exact location where the last pile had been burned just one day prior.'" It was a lawn waste dispute. Never underestimate the energy people will put into these things (I also suspect it wasn't just the pile of brush). (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

Remember when I said earlier this year one of the signs that a recession will happen this year is if the Fed raises interest rates 4 times instead of the predicted 3? "The Federal Reserve increased a key interest rate again Wednesday, which will trigger higher rates on credit cards, home equity lines and other kinds of borrowing… The Fed also signaled that it will raise rates more this year than previously expected — four times rather than three." Insert ominous music here.

When President Donald Trump was pushing Congress to pass his tax plan last year, which focused on lowering corporate rates and the income taxes of high earners, he pulled out a handy statistic: according to the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, the average family would make $4,000 more under the new plan… The true revelation was tucked away at the bottom of the release, in the “Production and nonsupervisory employees” section: 'From May 2017 to May 2018, real average hourly earnings decreased 0.1 percent, seasonally adjusted,' it read." This is my shocked face. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Internal briefing documents show FEMA never had 500 generators on (Puerto Rico) before the storm (as FEMA claimed) — it had 25. Its plastic roof program was out of plastic, and the most tarps FEMA ever produced was 125,000 — months after people needed them… FEMA's federal coordinating officer for Maria, Michael Byrne, said blame rests with the storm, not with federal responders contending with taxed resources and complicated geography… Still, as NPR and Frontline traveled the island in the months after the storm, it was clear many of the problems were man-made."

"On Tuesday, the Trenton, a Spearhead-class high-speed transport that is part of ongoing 6th Fleet military operations off the coast of Libya, came upon a migrant boat in distress and disintegrating. People were in the water. Several corpses were already floating. The Trenton called for help and, along with the German non-governmental organization Sea Watch, whose ship was patrolling nearby, the American crew carried out the rescue of 40 African migrants and recovered 12 corpses."

"They have been carrying out a variety of tasks assisting the U.S. Border Patrol in the months since their initial deployment, but all with one thing in common: They’re as far away from the border as possible. In reality, the hundreds of troops deployed in southern Arizona are keeping up the rear, so to speak; in one assignment, soldiers are actually feeding and shoveling out manure from the stalls of the Border Patrol’s horses." Bet you won't see that in a National Guard recruitment ad.

"The undocumented immigrant from Honduras sobbed as she told an attorney Tuesday how federal authorities took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center, where she was awaiting prosecution for entering the country illegally." This is America in 2018.

"Jose Luis Garcia, 62, was watering his lawn and having his morning coffee outside his home in the Arleta neighborhood of San Fernando Valley when ICE agents put him in handcuffs and detained him, according to his daughter, Natalie Garcia… The arrest came as a shock to the 32-year-old Garcia, who said that her father is a law-abiding, legal permanent resident who came to the United States nearly 50 years ago when he was 13 years old." (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

Also, it's no safety having citizenship. "The Trump administration is not only doing everything it can to discourage immigration of all sorts, it intends to launch an effort to identify naturalized American citizens it believes cheated the naturalization process and strip them of their American citizenship. The extraordinary process of denaturalizing an American citizen has occurred very rarely, with the Justice Department filing an estimated 300 civil denaturalization cases since 1990." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Sure it's not about racism. "Arizona Representative David Stringer, speaking at the Yavapai County Republican Men's Forum on Monday, called immigration an 'existential threat' to the United States, warning that it will change the face of the country." (Grokked from Dan)

"A senior advisor to the State Department appointed just two months ago has been quietly vetting career diplomats and American employees of international institutions to determine whether they are loyal to President Donald Trump and his political agenda, according to nearly a dozen current and former U.S. officials… Mari Stull, a former food and beverage lobbyist-turned-wine blogger under the name 'Vino Vixen,' has reviewed the social media pages of State Department staffers for signs of ideological deviation." Hydra alert goes directly to 11 (on a scale of 1 to 10). The devastation of our institutions by this administration will take a generation to heal. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"But the announcement earlier this week about Pence’s appearance at the Dallas meeting provoked a remarkable pushback from attendees. Five pastors made formal attempts to pass motions to prevent the vice president from speaking or to bar politicians from speaking at future meetings. A Florida pastor offered a proposal to replace Pence’s appearance with a session of prayer, because the appearance would hurt “our minority brothers and sisters” and confuse the denomination’s Christian message. The measure did not go up for an official vote, but observers in the hall estimated that at least 30 percent of attendees supported it." The magic sauce is wearing off.

"CNN host Chris Cuomo and Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart (R) sparred Wednesday night in a heated interview that focused on Stewart’s affiliation with white nationalists."

"In other words, if the IG report faults Comey, Lynch or others, it is not expected to second-guess their decisions not to press criminal charges against Clinton."

"'We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed,' Horowitz said in the report to be issued Thursday. 'The conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.'" (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said Wednesday that Republicans aren’t 'cult-like' in their devotion to President Trump, as his colleague Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) charged, because 'you got to be organized' to be a cult." Uh, yeah you are, and no you don't have to be. (Grokked from Fred Clark)

"Press secretary Sarah Sanders and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah are both heading for the exits, according to sources inside the White House and close to the administration. Sanders, who has become a confidante of President Trump since the departure of former communications director Hope Hicks, has told friends that she plans to leave the administration at the end of the year… Shah is also considering his exit, but he has not yet settled on an exact date." (Grokked from Chang)

"President Donald Trump is apparently not happy about the way his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is being depicted by the media and on Tuesday called 'FAKE NEWS' America's 'biggest enemy.'" While yes "fake news" is a dire threat, unfortunately the president believes NBC and CNN are "fake news." That's the problem here. The Dear Leader is upset the American people and the media aren't as fawning over him as N Korea's people and media are of Kim.

Such as, "Images of hundreds of North Koreans jubilantly clapping and waving flags as Kim Jong Un landed in Pyongyang Wednesday have been broadcast across the reclusive country as part of a lengthy state media documentary about his historic summit with US President Donald Trump."