There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Linkee-poo Tuesday's alligators are bitey little bastards

John Singleton, and so it goes.

"The leader of Venezuela's opposition, Juan Guaidó, on Tuesday declared 'the start of the end of the usurpation,' in a dawn address in which he was flanked by men in military fatigues and armored vehicles in the capital Caracas." And here we go.

"Astronomers have spotted wildly wobbling jets of particles spewing out of a black hole, and they think this unusually rapid motion could be happening because the black hole's strong gravity is warping space around it." There's been mornings I've felt exactly the same. Although this article has a better animation to explain what is happening.

"Indonesia is moving its capital city away from Jakarta, according to the country's planning minister… Jakarta, home to over 10 million people, is sinking at one of the fastest rates in the world… Half of Jakarta is below sea level. One of the main causes of this is the extraction of groundwater which is used as drinking water and for bathing." (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

How goes Brexit? "The latest talks between ministers and Labour to try to end the Brexit impasse were "positive" and "productive", the PM's de facto deputy has said."

"Now, with two confirmed cases of HIV, the (New Mexico) Department of Health has issued an alert to anyone who may have had an 'injection-related procedure' at the spa. That includes procedures like the vampire facial, which stars like Kim Kardashian have had done."

"The city of Cleveland has an ordinance, known locally as the Fannie Lewis law, that requires contractors working on projects that receive more than $100,000 in city funds to hire city residents for at least 20% of the construction work hours." Now that's being challenged in Ohio's Supreme Court and the state is moving a law to remove all such ordinances. And self-rule continues to slip away.

"If you think you notice a pattern here, you’re right. After years of inertia, courts and regulators are starting to take on companies that categorize employees as contractors in order to avoid wage and benefit costs. With inequality and the declining middle class becoming major issues in the 2016 presidential race, politicians (at least on the Democratic side) are now also vowing to do something about the plight of contingent workers. 'I’ll crack down on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors or even steal their wages,' Hillary Clinton said in her big economic-policy speech in July." That was written in 2015. They went on to talk about adjunct faculty; "Nowhere has the up-classing of contingency work gone farther, ironically, than in one of the most educated and (back in the day) secure sectors of the workforce: college teachers. In 1969, almost 80 percent of college faculty members were tenure or tenure track. Today, the numbers have essentially flipped, with two-thirds of faculty now non-tenure and half of those working only part-time, often with several different teaching jobs." Since then, nothing has changed and the situation has only gotten worse as tenure track professors retire and/or transfer to other colleges and universities (losing tenure, but believing other places have a better focus on educating the next generation of people who will keep us alive). (Grokked from NK Jemisin)

"Activists say 40 million Muslims and 30 million Dalits not on (India's) electoral rolls, raising fears of targeted suppression." (Grokked form Laura J Mixon)

"For the first time in more than 200 years, a Japanese emperor has abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne."

"The elusive leader-at-large of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has appeared in a new clip released by the jihadi organization, appearing to disprove long-standing rumors about his death or failing health." So it appears as if the "confirmed" reports of al-Baghdadi were premature.

"A 33-year-old man in the New Zealand city of Christchurch has been arrested after a package containing a suspected explosive device and ammunition was found at a vacant property, police said."

"President Trump has filed suit against Deutsche Bank and Capital One in an attempt to block congressional subpoenas for his business records… The lawsuit by the president, sons Donald Jr. and Eric and daughter Ivanka, was filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan. The Trump Organization and the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust are among other plaintiffs." Good luck with that.

"US President Donald Trump wants asylum seekers to pay a fee to have their applications processed in the latest move in his crackdown on migration… The direction was given in a presidential memorandum on Monday, which called for a slew of new rules." Just wait until Trump finds out about the public comment period.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Linkee-poo Monday

@omgjulia is stepping down as editor at Fireside Fiction, and Pablo Defendini says he'll have a series of new editors for the next two year. Good luck, Pablo.

"The universe is expanding faster than it used to, meaning it’s about a billion years younger than we thought, a new study by a Nobel Prize winner says. And that’s sending a shudder through the world of physics, making astronomers re-think some of their most basic concepts." One of the reasons we've believe the Universe is "old" is because we still have the concept that we, as a species, are the logical end point. Realizing the Universe is much younger than we thought is like finding out the Earth is not the center of the Universe.

"What would we do if we knew an asteroid would hit Earth in 2027? That's what NASA personnel will explore during a simulation taking place next week." Are they trying to tell us something?

"As baby boomers age and the workforce shrinks, there may not be enough people or money to care for all our elders, especially those with medical needs. In many ways, that reality has already arrived in Vermont." Don't worry folks, things will work out for the Baby Boomers. They've fucked up everything and somehow it's worked out for them. It's the rest of us we have to worry about.

"Boeing did not tell Southwest Airlines, its largest 737 Max customer, that a standard safety feature designed to warn pilots about malfunctioning sensors had been deactivated on the jets." Awkward.

"Police in Japan have tightened security around Emperor Akihito's 12-year-old grandson after two knives were found near his school desk."

"NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre says that the gun lobby’s president, Oliver North, is extorting him on behalf of the ad firm that operates NRATV, according to a letter the NRA chief sent to board members on Thursday." That's so weird. I mean, they're such good people. I mean, you're trying to say that hiring Oliver North wasn't a good idea? (Grokked from Dan)

And then… "Oliver North announced Saturday that he would not serve a second term as National Rifle Association president, making it clear he had been forced out by the gun lobby’s leadership after his own failed attempt to remove the NRA’s longtime CEO in a burgeoning divide over the group’s finances and media operations." Payton fucking Place.

"Count Kim Jong Un among the long list of people who were stiffed after reaching a deal with Donald Trump… National Security Adviser John Bolton confirmed the Trump administration agreed to pay North Korea $2 million for the release of mortally injured American student Otto Warmbier." This is not how nation states behave.

"Police on Sunday raised the death toll at two homes in rural Tennessee to seven and said they are investigating whether a suspect captured after an hourslong (SIC) manhunt knew the victims."

"Baltimore city leaders urged witnesses to share what they know with police after a gunman fired indiscriminately into a crowd enjoying Sunday afternoon cookouts, killing a man and wounding seven other people."

Friends, you just can't make this shit up. "Norwegian marine experts have encountered a beluga whale they believe was been trained by the Russian navy to harass foreign shipping as part of a wider program of utilizing marine mammals in military operations."

"Founded in 2014 by muckraking national security journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, the Intercept is still best-known for its first incarnation as an obsessive anti-surveillance reporting enterprise… But in the past few years, and especially in the aftermath of the 2016 campaign, the Intercept has taken a sharp turn into party politics… and landed in a unique spot in the media ecosystem—as the loudest voice attacking Democrats from the left."

The president continues to come unglued. "'We go out and we stop the separation. The problem is, you have 10 times more people coming up with their families. It's like Disneyland now,' he continued. Trump also complained that due process was required to remove these people from the country, complaining of lawyers ('Perry Mason') getting in the way." Yes, the president is complaining that we're a nation that follows the law.

"Trump says he answered Charlottesville questions 'perfectly'… The president is refusing to back down from his comments that there were 'very fine people' on both sides." Dear Mr President, Robert E. Lee was a traitor to his country. When faced with the choice of supporting the US and our Constitution, or abandoning them to fight for the rebellion, he violated his oath of office, turned his back on the US, and ordered the death of thousands of Americans to support slavery. You might want to actually learn some fucking history.

So what's the problem? "Authorities have identified the suspect in a shooting Saturday at a synagogue in the San Diego suburb of Poway, Calif., as 19-year-old John Earnest, from the city of San Diego. At least one person died and three were injured in the attack."

"A former White House staffer who was at risk of being held in contempt of Congress has agreed to testify, potentially averting a showdown between Democrats and the White House."

Friday, April 26, 2019

Linkee-poo closes out an alligator filled week

And next week isn't looking any better.

"Gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in the first quarter, up from 2.2% at the end of last year. That's a significant turnaround from six weeks ago, when many analysts expected a slump in GDP growth to just 2% or less." Well that's good. But it's not all peaches and cream. "A pickup in consumer spending contributed to the improved outlook. Retailers enjoyed strong sales gains in March after a lackluster February." While not said, that indicative of pent-up consumer demand (people held off buying things Dec-Feb and then just couldn't hold off anymore). There are other indicators that spending may be slowing again and those commercial indications of "future spending" may be just "covering the bases" (in case they see an uptick, they don't want their suppliers to have a lag time as they restaff, but would want their materials as the buyer restaffs).

"The giant galaxy around the giant black hole."

"Earlier this month, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft used an explosive device to create an artificial crater on the Ryugu asteroid, but the probe couldn’t stick around to confirm the job for fear of being damaged by debris. The Japanese space agency has now confirmed the artificial crater—but it’s not exactly what they expected."

"Amazon is making one-day shipping the standard for Prime members." Now if only they would fulfill orders in one day, that would be something.

"A highway crash killed "multiple" people and started a large fire on Interstate 70 along the western edge of Denver on Thursday, in a disaster that police say was triggered by a semitruck that slammed into a group of cars that were stopped in traffic. The exact number of fatalities is still unknown."

"A Twitter employee who works on machine learning believes that a proactive, algorithmic solution to white supremacy would also catch Republican politicians." I'm not sure I see the problem here. Ban the fucking Nazis. Actually I do see the problem as those politicians (and their supporters) will scream bloody murder and twitter does want to have (and in fairness shouldn't have to have) a conversation about how white supremacy has infected the right wing of American politics (going back to the John Birch Society). (Grokked from Cherie Priest)

"In this Twitter exchange, jetBlue explains to a passenger how it got a photo of her face -- from the DHS." Wow, that's totally not Big Brother at all. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"A federal court in Michigan says that the state's Republican-controlled legislature unfairly drew some of Michigan's state legislative and U.S. House district lines and that a divided government will have to come up with new boundaries."

"Last month, a federal judge in Alaska ruled that President Trump exceeded his authority when he signed an executive order to lift an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans."

"A federal judge in Washington state has temporarily blocked the Trump administration's overhaul of the federal reproductive health care program known as Title X… The nationwide preliminary injunction puts a stop — at least for now — to new regulations that were set to take effect on May 3. Among other changes, the rules would prohibit any organization that offers or refers patients for abortion from receiving Title X funds to cover services like contraception and STD screenings for low-income patients."

"Rep. Gerry Connolly threatened jail time for White House officials who are declining to comply with congressional committees' efforts to conduct oversight of President Donald Trump's administration. It's the latest salvo in the escalating battle between the White House and congressional Democrats, who have scaled up their oversight requests following the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation." Hope it's not just tough talk. Constitutional Crisis on the horizon.

"A Russian woman who plotted to infiltrate conservative political circles and open backchannel lines of communication as part of an unofficial influence campaign was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday."

"'This was a coup,' Trump told host Sean Hannity… in his first interview since the Mueller report's release. 'This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government.'" Words have meaning and weight, Mr. President. You're inciting violence here. This is not how sane people act.

"Trump's efforts to enlist Lewandowski as a back channel to try to curtail the probe, detailed in 10 pages of Mueller's 448-page report, provides a new window into how far the president went in trying to hold back the special counsel."

Well, it seems conservative media believe Uncle Joe has the best shot. At least if headlines like this one at Fox News keep popping up. "Why the media are convinced Joe Biden will implode." This is what we call "a political hit job."

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Linkee-poo Thursday

Apparently the alligators ate Wednesday's blog. Actually it was another one of those blogger anomalies where I was pretty sure I closed one window, finished the blog on a different system, go back to first system and the blog entry is open, but without the updates I did on the other system and then blogger saves over the completed file.

"'Bat poo is highly informative, and especially so in the tropics, where the climate can make some of the more traditional modes of investigation less available,' Dr. Wurster said… A three-metre pile of bat faeces at Salah Cave in Borneo gave the researchers a 40,000-year-old record composed of insect skeletons." Sort of like a biological ice-core.

One of the problems with a warming planet… "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a girl in Delaware was bitten by a 'kissing bug,' ABC News reported… Formally known as Triatomine bugs, the blood-sucking insects can 'spread a deadly disease called Chagas,' with a bite, McClatchy reported."

"One in five adult Americans carry student loan debt. The issue returned to the headlines this week, when Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts proposed canceling this debt for more than 40 million Americans. Here's a look at the landscape."

This rabbit hole looks fun. "Political tension mounted in Sri Lanka on Wednesday over the handling of advance intelligence related to Easter Sunday’s suicide bombings, with an ally of the prime minister charging that top officials deliberately withheld critical information."

"White supremacist John William King, whose gruesome murder of James Byrd Jr. changed how the U.S. prosecutes hate crimes, was put to death Wednesday in Texas. The execution by lethal injection was carried out 21 years after King, in his early twenties at the time, and two other white men killed 49-year-old Byrd, who is black, in Jasper, Texas." While I believe the death penalty is too easily given in the US, I'm not troubled by my support in this case.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to denuclearize but needs 'security guarantees' to do so… Speaking after a high-profile summit with Kim, Putin said Russia favored denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and Kim agreed, but said bilateral security guarantees were not enough." This president doesn't agree with multi-lateral negotiations, and the North Korean version of "security guarantees" includes the US disarming. But what might be interesting is that Putin just upstaged Trump, and we will now see if Trump's fragile ego will overcome his deference to Putin.

"After hours of debate, the Florida House on Wednesday passed along party lines its version of a bill implementing Amendment 4, which was supposed to restore the right to vote to more than a million former felons… The 71-45 vote sets up a potential dispute with the Senate over whether court fines, fees and restitution should be required before felons can vote."

It's all fun and games until someone goes to jail. "'I’m angry,' Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, told The Washington Post before a judge sentenced her to 13 months in prison. 'I think that he knew that I would be an easy target, and I’m wildly disappointed. I’m so angry at myself for trusting these people. I’m so angry at myself for not asking more questions. I find it really unfortunate.'" Won't get fooled again.

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Wednesday that it is offering a 5 percent pay bump to agents willing to stay on the job another year as the agency grapples with a surge in families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border."

"From Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats cautioning that the 'warning lights are blinking red again' to reports that someone has launched a disinformation campaign to target 2020 Democrats, all signs point to the security of American elections once again being at risk… And yet, according to the Times, the Trump administration has hit a major road block in its attempts to address the issue: the president’s fragile ego." Waves to my Russian friends. You know, not even W made me shout, "Tell the president to go fuck himself" as many times in 8 years as I have done in just the past year. (Grokked from Michele)

"After months of deliberation, former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday announced his decision to run for president for a third time, answering one of the biggest outstanding questions about the makeup of the 2020 race… Biden framed the 2020 race as a 'battle for the soul of this nation.'" Uncle Joe throws his hat in the ring. I am typically of the mindset that the Greatest Generation and the Boomers need to sit the fuck down, but maybe Biden could have a greater stabilizing effect on the race (or even the Presidency).

"The Democratic chairman of the House Oversight Committee accused the Trump administration of a 'massive, unprecedented, and growing pattern of obstruction' for ordering federal employees not to comply with congressional investigations."

So, could someone please inform the President that if he is impeached that SCOTUS sits in the Senate as the judge of the proceedings. Cause I think he's confused on this issue.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Linkee-poo Tuesday

Still slaying alligators.

"A teenager from Texas has taken quantum computing down a notch. In a paper posted online earlier this month, 18-year-old Ewin Tang proved that ordinary computers can solve an important computing problem with performance potentially comparable to that of a quantum computer." Well, it wasn't just any teenager, but that's some special eggs on people's faces (although not the two who came up with the quantum function, they just said they couldn't think of a classical algorithm that could solve it as fast). (Grokked from Sheila)

"Greenland, home to the Earth's second largest ice sheet, has lost ice at an accelerating pace in the past several decades – a nearly sixfold increase that could contribute to future sea level rise, according to a new study based on nearly a half century of data." We're boned.

"Many teens who use e-cigarettes aren’t aware they are inhaling nicotine when they vape, even though they are often taking in high levels of the addictive substance, a new study suggests." Surprise. Yeah, I've had that argument several times. Vaping is not better than smoking, all it does is reduce the risk of accidentally burning down your house.

"Whether you eat breakfast might be linked with your risk of dying early from cardiovascular disease, according to a new study." Again, correlation is not causation. "'However, the major issue is that the subjects who regularly skipped breakfast also had the most unhealthy lifestyle habits,' (Krista Varady, associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago) said. 'Specifically, these people were former smokers, heavy drinkers, physically inactive, and also had poor diet quality and low family income.'" Now, when you wake up (and go to sleep) your body gives you a dose of cortisol, which has the effect of scrubbing your blood for glucose. If it doesn't find it there, your body begins converting lean muscle protein into glucose (instead of fat process). So not eating breakfast does lead to muscle loss.

"Since it was created in late 1998, NICS has initiated some 311 million background checks, including 26 million in 2018 alone, the federal government says… The NICS system relies on state and local agencies to make the data more robust, but sometimes records can be missing or incomplete." The system is failing, as it was designed.

"The next time parking enforcement officers use chalk to mark your tires, they might be acting unconstitutionally… A federal appeals court ruled Monday that "chalking" is a violation of the Fourth Amendment."

"The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a legal battle with lasting implications that could dramatically affect political representation and federal funding over the next decade. The justices are weighing whether to allow the Trump administration to add a question about U.S. citizenship status to forms for the upcoming 2020 census."

"A leader of an armed militia that has held hundreds of migrants at the border previously claimed the group was training to assassinate Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, according to court documents unsealed on Monday." Nice people.

A little bit more on the group and what's happening at the border. "The alleged leader of an armed militia group that has intercepted and detained migrant families along the southern border in New Mexico was charged with federal firearms offenses on Monday." As of posting, there wasn't a transcript, sorry. Whackaloon alert.

"When she arrived in the US, the West African girl was just five years old, but she soon was responsible for caring for a Texas couple's children, cooking, cleaning and mowing the lawn. She was abused and neglected for 16 years -- until she escaped, according to a criminal complaint against the couple." Too bad the Trump administration hasn't prioritized going after the actual criminal immigrants, like this couple.

"Two Reuters reporters, jailed after investigating the killing of several Rohingya Muslims, will remain in prison, Myanmar's highest court ruled Tuesday."

"North Korean state media has confirmed that leader Kim Jong-un will travel to Russia 'soon' for his first ever meeting with Vladimir Putin." And of course Moscow wants North Korea to keep its nukes, all the more to destabilize the US.

"President Donald Trump said Tuesday that European Union tariffs hitting Harley Davidson were “unfair,” and pledged to reciprocate after the company posted first-quarter profit that fell 26.7%… The president appeared to reverse course on Harley after calling for a boycott of the company last year amid a spat over steel. In a tweet, he said that the EU tariffs have forced the company to move U.S. jobs overseas. 'So unfair to U.S. We will Reciprocate!'" On trick pony is gonna work that one trick (even though that one trick is what got us here).

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday proposed eliminating the student loan debts of tens of millions of Americans and making all public colleges tuition-free, staking out an ambitious stance on one of the central policy debates of the 2020 Democratic primary." Those who are against this (coughconservativescough) are trying to stir up resentment from those of us who have paid off our loans. And am I resentful? You bet. But not at this proposal or the kids (it won't be all kids) who will benefit. I'm pissed at the Greatest Generation and the Boomers who didn't care enough about what those of us in Gen-X were going through to even consider this an option. But then, nobody really give a shit about Gen-X except Gen-Xers (there's a running meme on twitter where we show examples of how we've been erased). So fuck yea, jubilee. Oh and conservatives, you want to make it fair, make sure Social Security and Medicare are there when we need it, and maybe give us a little bump to offset the economic drag from our loan debt.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Linkee-poo late on Monday

Sorry, the alligators were grumpy this morning.

"Snoring is never great news, but often it's harmless (other than the pain your sleeping partner may feel). In some cases though, it's a sign of something serious."

"The Sri Lankan government has admitted it failed to act on multiple warnings before a coordinated series of attacks ripped through churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, and said it feared an international terror group might have been behind the atrocities." That won't go over well.

The State Department is set to announce all countries that continue to import Iranian oil will be subject to US sanctions, The Washington Post reported on Sunday." Welcome back, $3+ gas.

"Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has scored a landslide victory in the country's presidential election… 'I will never let you down,' Mr Zelensky told celebrating supporters." No word yet if he'll promise to never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, or never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

"Asia markets mixed; oil prices surge on report that US is set to end Iran sanctions waivers."

Or not. "The United States has largely carved out exceptions so that foreign governments, firms and NGOs do not automatically face U.S. sanctions for dealing with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards after the group’s designation by Washington as a foreign terrorist group, according to three current and three former U.S. officials." So, they're not so much of a terrorist organization then.

Be careful of what you wish for. "Late last month, Rep. Andy Barr [R-KY] "invited" Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to visit the coal miners in his Appalachian district… AOC took him up on the invitation, saying 'It’s a complete injustice the cancer levels that a lot of these communities are confronting…' Now, Barr has rescinded the invitation, blaming it on her defense of Rep Ilhan Omar…" (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Hunter either broke the law and violated the conditions of his release or was pulling a political stunt, Campa-Najjar said, according to the Times of San Diego." Ah, America. Where an elected official has to either admit he lied, or that he violated his parol. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"Larry Mitchell Hopkins, who runs The United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), an armed border militia group that spreads far-right conspiracies and rounds up asylum seekers on the border, was arrested by FBI in New Mexico Saturday on charges of possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon." Good. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"After high turnout in last year's midterm elections propelled Democrats to a new House majority and big gains in the states, several Republican-controlled state legislatures are attempting to change voting-related rules in ways that might reduce future voter turnout." Who is for democracy?

"At the moment, Democrats appear to be scattered all over the place when it comes to impeachment." Timidity will sink you just as fast as leaning the wrong way. At some point you reach the question if duty is a higher purpose than being re-elected.

"Fox News host Chris Wallace pushed back hard in a Sunday interview with President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference, confronting him head-on as he tried to shift the interview to attack his client’s former political opponent Hillary Clinton."

Friday, April 19, 2019

General talk

I'm not going to have time to do a lot of reading this weekend, so expect very little from me here until Monday. That should be long enough for people to digest the Mueller Report and have some good responses to it. Right now everyone is shouting from their respective corners and only a few people are looking at this level headed. The take so far is that Barr lied in his summary (shocking), Mueller believed it was up to Congress to save the Republic (not exactly a stretch), the corruption of this administration is staggering, that Mueller couldn't prove (in a Court at least) cooperation between the Trump Campaign and Russia there is a metric shit-ton of circumstantial evidence, Sarah Sanders (when it came to legally actionable language) admits she lies for the president (again, shocking), the central crux around the question "Did the president commit obstruction of justice" depends on your legal definition for bringing prosecution of if you first have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a crime was committed to obstruct (note, most legal scholars say "no"), and basically we're all fucked until 2021 (or longer).

What do I think? Well I think the House has a duty to open Impeachment Hearings to come to conclusions which may differ from the Attorney General. The legal hurdles to impeachment are much different than the hurdles of criminal courts. The Democrats need to build their case carefully and make it an indictment of conservative politics and the philosophy and complicity of the GOP. Many liberal commentators wonder why Graham and others have become presidential boot-lickers. This is your answer (although I do believe the president, or Russia, have leverage over some of them), along with "party first and always" mindsets. They know that Trump is the embodiment of their base and holds their core beliefs. They're scared out of their minds that this will receive a public hearing in full sunlight because then the jig is up. The Democrats need to build the case (both in the public conscience and in legal terms) that any vote in the Senate against it will be an admission of guilt by association.

Don't expect it to be easy. The president is half-way to dictatorship already (the main reason why the president isn't in court right now is the people he ordered to do things either had a conscience or were very bad at their jobs). He will dig in and fight hard. This is why the Democrats need to make the fight in easy soundbites and with a phalanx of evidence that talking heads can debate about. Dems need to adopt the strategy of throwing out so many facts while discussing one issue that the opposition can't respond to everything (this has long been a conservative debate strategy). It's not enough to show the criminality, you have to frame the questions that any defense of that criminality is also criminal. You have to knock out the pillars holding the conservative edifice up, not just bricks at the top.

But to do that liberals would have to change their very nature. So my take on this will be everyone will entrench in their positions and the tit-for-tat spit fights will continue.

At the very least Congress should censure the president and people in his administration. They tried to remove President Clinton for lying about a blowjob. What we already know from the Mueller report is much, much worse.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Linkee-poo Thursday

So. Many. Alligators.

I'm writing this in the morning, before AG Barr's press conference. Unless there is a huge (substantiated) bombshell in there, I probably won't link to too much reporting. Even an un-redacted a report like this takes time to digest. We won't really have good information and analysis until the Sunday Talking Heads shows. There will be breathless press releases flying like song-birds on their annual migration, but again, nobody will really know much until the second or third reads of the report. And then expect the, "this totally exonerates…" as well as the, "what's missing here could be key to criminal…" to continue. I think the fact that the AG and the White House has been attempting to spin this for the last few weeks should tell you something about what is actually in the report. Also that both have scheduled press conferences this morning should be a huge red-flag. There is a ton of grumbling about the redactions (note that previous reports on the president have been released in full including in ways that made news anchors uncomfortable describing oral sex without being graphic). Mueller will be subpoenaed, Barr will be forced to testify about what he did. Expect to hear about how the redactions were too many, and that those who have seen less and un-redacted reports know more than we do (so we should "believe" what they tell us). So we all have the script for the next two days. No real need to belabor the point with wasting your reading time, eh?

"There's a bright magnetar photobombing the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, frustrating astronomers' efforts to study the black hole — called Sagittarius A* — using X-ray telescopes." Damn camera hogs.

"Botswana unveiled the largest rare blue diamond ever discovered within its borders: a super rare 'Fancy blue' diamond weighing more than 20 carats." No word of a curse. Yet.

"Susan's story of delaying care because she's underinsured is not an outlier. A study published last month in Health Affairs examined claims data from a large national insurer for 316,244 women whose employers switched insurance coverage from low-deductible health plans (i.e., deductibles of $500 or less) to high-deductible health plans (i.e., deductibles of $1,000 or more) between 2004 and 2014." Note employer plans aren't as affected by Obamacare as the regular markets (yes, the ACA did add requirements, like must cover birth control, but they're not as strict as the marketplaces). Basically the insurers' method of cost control is to pass as much cost to the individual as they can. This is one of those things that needs fixing (as well as the paperwork and reporting side of insurance). In the end run, the way to reduce costs is a single-payer plan.

"The Yale University research team is careful to say that none of the (pig's) brains regained the kind of organized electrical activity associated with consciousness or awareness. Still, the experiment described Wednesday in the journal Nature showed that a surprising amount of cellular function was either preserved or restored." Back in the 19th century scientists, doctors, and crackpots would demonstrate the effects of electrical currents on "dead" muscle tissue. The results of those experiments, and the brouhaha that enveloped them, led to Mary Shelly writing Frankenstein. And there is a huge chasm between cellular activity and what most people would consider "actual life" in a complex organism.

"Virginia Hall is one of the most important American spies most people have never heard of." But now you will.

"A former student of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, has pled guilty to charges that he destroyed tens of thousands of dollars worth of campus computers using a USB device designed to instantly overwhelm and fry their circuitry." Funny, I've never seen one of those in Amazon's "people who bought this also bought these things" lists. (Grokked from Dan)

"North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un has overseen the testing of a 'new-type tactical guided weapon.' With nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea stalled, Kim emphasized that he is continuing to upgrade his country's military." Sounds scary, but it isn't all that much so.

"Under orders from the Trump administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development is preparing to lay off most of its Palestinian aid workers in its West Bank and Gaza mission, according to U.S. government communications reviewed by NPR." That ain't good.

"A New Jersey man was arrested after entering St. Patrick’s Cathedral carrying two cans of gasoline, lighter fluid and butane lighters, the New York Police Department said…" I'm sure he had a good reason. Given the way this is being reported, I'mma gonna guess this guy is white.

"The Department of Justice issued an order on Tuesday that could keep thousands of asylum-seekers detained while they wait for their cases to be heard in immigration court — a wait that often lasts months or years." Welcome to the self-made "humanitarian crisis." Hope your 401(k) plans hold stock in for-profit jails.

"A new Trump administration report on international compliance with arms control accords provoked a dispute with U.S. intelligence agencies and some State Department officials concerned that the document politicizes and slants assessments about Iran, five sources with knowledge of the matter said." We've seen this movie before and the franchise really didn't need a reboot.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Linkee-poo Wednesday

"Cathedrals often took more than a century to build in medieval times, a process that sometimes spanned the lives of several monarchs… So French President Emmanuel Macron's pledge Tuesday to restore fire-devastated Notre Dame within five years was at odds with experts who predicted restoring the jewel of Gothic architecture would likely take much longer." The difference is we have power tools and the plan is decided. The questions for this renovation is do they have the financial support for the long run, what damage did the fire do to the limestone, the direction of the renovation (restore or renew) and will the plan experience scope creep.

"The first meteor to hit Earth from interstellar space — and the second known interstellar visitor overall — may have just been discovered, a new study finds."

"Crucially for the experiment, the LED emits no light when the voltage is reversed, as the electrons cannot go over the ramp in the opposite direction. In fact, reversing the voltage also suppresses the device’s infrared radiation—the broad spectrum of light (including heat) that you see when you look at a hot object through night vision goggles." Did they… did they just reverse the tachyon flow out of the main reflector dish? This was blink promoted in my timeline. The physics doesn't "feel" right to me, but I thought it was interesting.

"For example, NPR has learned that a U.S. CRISPR study that had been approved for cancer in at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has finally started. A university spokesman Monday confirmed for the first time that two patients had been treated using CRISPR." Brave, new world. I hope this doesn't go like some of the previous gene editing studies. There's a lot of "happy happy" language and "this will cure EVERYTHING" going on in the article. Just realize that this is never the case. Also, these aren't the first actual studies, it's just becoming more common.

"Workplace wellness programs — efforts to get workers to lose weight, eat better, stress less and sleep more — are an $8 billion industry in the U.S.… But no one has been sure they work. Various studies over the years have provided conflicting results, with some showing savings and health improvements while others say the efforts fall short." It depends on what you think the Wellness Programs are actually designed to do.

"Sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University is known for its adherence to church teachings and for its strict Honor Code, which regulates everything from beards to premarital sex. Student protest is uncommon… Students allege that the university is mistreating victims of sexual assault and harassment, especiallyy women and LGBTQ students."

"This year, US retailers have announced that 5,994 stores will close. That number already exceeds last year's total of 5,864 closure announcements, according to a recent report from Coresight Research." Everything is fine here, we're all fine. How are you?

"More than a dozen school districts in Colorado are closed Wednesday after the FBI and local law enforcement warned of an 18-year-old white woman who is "armed and dangerous" in the Denver metropolitan area."

"On the eve of the Alberta election, Twitter suspended numerous outspoken critics of the United Conservative Party (UCP) and its leader, Jason Kenney." Whispers, "Twitter is taking sides." I can't find this story elsewhere, so I'm not (Grokked from Mur Lafferty)

"Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data, according to about 4,000 pages of leaked company documents largely spanning 2011 to 2015 and obtained by NBC News… In some cases, Facebook would reward favored companies by giving them access to the data of its users. In other cases, it would deny user-data access to rival companies or apps." Hello anti-trust action (well, if we had a functioning government). (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Accelerationism is a term white supremacists have assigned to their desire to hasten the collapse of society as we know it. The term is widely used by those on the fringes of the movement, who employ it openly and enthusiastically on mainstream platforms, as well as in the shadows of private, encrypted chat rooms. We have also recently seen tragic instances of its manifestation in the real world." And now you know why the white nationalists support the efforts of Russia to disrupt our elections. It is the belief that underpins terrorism, to attack the social contract directly spur the general populace into revolt. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"After allegations of a toxic workplace culture that discriminates against women and people of color, the Southern Poverty Law Center is trying to emerge and chart a way forward. Turmoil in the civil rights organization last month resulted in the firing of its famous founder, and the resignations of its longtime president and legal director."

"President Donald Trump issued the second veto of his presidency Tuesday, stopping a congressional resolution that would have sought to end US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen."

"Hundreds of migrants are being held for days in an emerging tent city at a Border Patrol station in a preview of what the Trump administration is reportedly considering to absorb a surge on the border." (Grokked from George Takei)

"The Trump administration will allow lawsuits in U.S. courts for the first time against foreign companies that use properties confiscated by Communist-ruled Cuba since Fidel Castro’s revolution six decades ago, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday." I don't see how this could possibly go wrong.

"The United States special representative for North Korea is headed to Moscow amid rumors in South Korean media that Kim Jong Un is planning to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin soon."

This story has been making the rounds in advance of Thursday's "redacted" Mueller Report release. "On Friday the thirteenth October 1989… news leaked of a legal memo authored by William Barr… (which) concluded that the FBI could forcibly abduct people in other countries without the consent of the foreign state… Members of Congress asked to see the full legal opinion. Barr refused, but said he would provide an account that 'summarizes the principal conclusions.'… What’s different from that struggle and the current struggle over the Mueller report is that we know how the one in 1989 eventually turned out… When the OLC opinion was finally made public long after Barr left office, it was clear that Barr’s summary had failed to fully disclose the opinion’s principal conclusions." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"'The attorney general has created an environment that has caused a significant part of the public … to be concerned about whether or not there is full transparency,' U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton said during a hearing Tuesday afternoon on a Freedom of Information Act suit demanding access to a report detailing the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller."

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Linkee-poo when I'm lost at sea I hear your voice and it carries me

Gene Wolfe, and so it goes.

"The roof of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral collapsed Monday as a massive fire ripped through the structure." Although later reports emphasized that it was mostly the roof that was damaged. There are also reports that the large "rose" windows are intact. (Grokked from John)

"On its final flyby of Saturn's largest moon in 2017, NASA's Cassini spacecraft gathered radar data revealing that the small liquid lakes in Titan's northern hemisphere are surprisingly deep, perched atop hills and filled with methane."

"'Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX's recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral.'" Not only is space hard, the sea is a tough mistress. (Grokked from Dan)

Water, water everywhere. "Meteorites can strike the moon and cause bursts of water to shoot up out of the ground… That's the main takeaway from a new study announced by NASA that challenges our perceptions of the moon and other rocky orbs out in space."

"When Merdis Wells visited the diabetes clinic at the University Medical Center in New Orleans about a year ago, a nurse practitioner checked her eyes to look for signs of diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of blindness… At her next visit, in February of this year, artificial intelligence software made the call." Barrelling ahead because why the fuck not. Well, actually, the device is used to detect one pathology. So, yes, AI can be very good at that. Catching multiple pathologies (or interlinking pathologies) is much harder.

"Parenting can be a challenge, but a trio of bald eagles in Illinois have banded together to tackle it… In an unorthodox nest on the Mississippi River in northwest Illinois, two male eagles named Valor I and Valor II and a female eagle named Starr are sharing baby-raising duties." Nature finds a way.

"A girl enrolled at North Pole High School was reportedly suspended for using excessive force on a boy last week after a group of boys entered the girl’s bathroom and blocked the door, according to Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole." (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horne)

"After years of tension over expanded oil and gas drilling, including a deadly explosion that galvanized critics, Colorado is moving to tighten regulations on the booming industry. In a sweeping overhaul the governor is expected to sign, regulators will now have to consider public health, safety and the environment in decisions about permitting and local land use." Well you can bet the oils and gas industry won't stand for that.

"Dirty words make it to the U.S. Supreme Court only occasionally. One of those occasions came Monday, in a case involving a clothing line named 'FUCT.'"

"But if you know where to look, you might find a mortgage that will save you thousands of dollars a year or discover that you qualify for a loan when you didn't think you could — and that's exciting. You might even find free money to help with a down payment."

"Since World War II, the IMF and World Bank have served as guardians of global capitalism. The IMF, in particular, has a long history of bailing out countries in financial crises and using its power to push a free-market agenda. That's why we were surprised to hear IMF officials suggest capitalism is running amok."

Hanna Rosin on Empathy. "When I was growing up in the '70s, empathy was all the rage. The term was coined in 1908; then, social scientists and psychologists started more aggressively pushing the concept into the culture after World War II, basically out of fear. The idea was that we were all going to kill each other with nuclear weapons — or learn to see the world through each other's eyes. In my elementary school in the 1970s, which was not progressive or mushy in any way, we wrote letters to pretend Russian pen pals to teach us to open our hearts to our enemies." (Grokked from Janiece)

And the Invisibilia (which Hanna Rosin cohosts) on empathy. "Jack was letting me know that I had been so eager to build a bridge, to get to the 'we are all one' place, that I'd missed a few things. Like fundamentally misread the person I was supposed to be empathizing with. I went right past Jack the actual person, to Jack the idea in my head, Mr. 'Reformed Incel'." Empathy can trick you just as much as hate.

I've been thinking about this topic (well, one close enough it doesn't matter to most). I am not as empathetic as I was as a kid. I find myself hardening, forming a shell to allow sociopathy a place outside that shell. You could view it as a defense mechanism.

"Here's what we can — and can't — say about how President Donald Trump's tax cuts have impacted the economy so far." Hmm, let me adjust my rose-colored glasses here and take a look.

"President Trump lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday night and again on Monday morning on Twitter following a CBS '60 Minutes' interview during which she recounted standing up to him and reiterated her opinion that he is unfit for office and knows it." Pelosi is living rent free in the president's head. (Grokked from Janiece)

"House Democrats on Monday reportedly subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and several other banks, asking for information about President Trump's finances as well as the dealings between the banks and Russia." This shit is about to get real.

Tweet of my heart: @amyewalter I think many have over-learned the lesson of 2016 about responding or not responding to Trump tweets. To me, the issue in 2020 is the exhaustion factor. Can a Dem message on stopping the cycle of outrage be enough to woo non-base Ds and Rs?

Monday, April 15, 2019

Linkee-poo will one day have interesting titles again

"Just like on Earth, there is a robust population of microbes and fungi on the International Space Station (ISS) — and a new study catalogues its exact composition." Before you say, "Gross!" I'll just ask when was the last time you wiped your cell phone down with a sanitizer, or your tv remote?

"'Snowball chamber' helps researchers use supercooled water to search for dark matter." The problem not discussed here is how do you differentiate between types of matter that create the ice crystals.

"The world's largest plane by wingspan took its first flight on Saturday above the Mojave Desert in California."

"Extinction Rebellion: Climate change protesters block London roads."

"For kids with anxiety, parents learn to let them face their fears." Yes, Virginia, preparing children for adulthood is an actual process, not something that happens naturally. The article details this, on how parents can help and it's not throwing the kids "in the deep end". This is parenting.

"Lyft-owned bike-sharing services are removing electric bikes from their respective fleets in New York, Washington and San Francisco citing safety concerns. Citi Bike, Capital Bikeshare, and Ford GoBike recalled the e-bikes after 'a small number' of users experienced 'stronger than expected braking force on the front wheel.'"

"Police have made an arrest in the brutal beating Friday of a transgender woman that's being classified as a hate crime. It occurred in broad daylight in front of a crowd of people and was caught on cellphone video."

"Arivaca, Ariz., is a tiny village, population around 700… and has become a magnet for self-styled militia groups from out of state who say they want to patrol the border and stop migrants. Their presence has put strains on a town that has long prided itself on its live-and-let-live, cooperative spirit."

"A plan under consideration by President Trump to transfer detained immigrants to 'sanctuary cities' should be viewed as an overture to Democrats, not political retribution, a White House spokesman said on Sunday." Jesus these people are bad at this.

"Republicans on Capitol Hill are raising alarms at the White House's resistance to congressional demands, fearing President Donald Trump is bolstering the power of his office at the expense of Congress." Hey guys, there's a way you could fix that.

"As the Trump administration lurches from usurpation to usurpation, shattering foundational practices of American democracy, the Democrats have yet to craft a coherent response. One possibility lies in the fact that among the public there appears to be consensus on three key norms: Power should be divided and accountable; all public officials, including the president, are subject to the rule of law; and government service is a public trust, not a private opportunity." An opinion piece that basically states that we need to get back to the rule of law. Also how a lot of our behavior is guided by norms and the honor system, not codified laws. As in other areas it's mostly the bad behavior of a few (or one) that brings about new laws which constrain everyone. It takes someone to show that not everyone can be trusted to behave normally.

"Special counsel Robert Mueller's report is expected to arrive this week. Whether it wafts in like a feather or falls to Earth like an asteroid, here's what you need to know." In case you need to get caught up.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Linkee-poo weekender

Star Wars Episode IX trailer.

You know that argument against trying to mitigate climate change because it's too expensive. Hold my beer… "The $14 billion network of levees and floodwalls that was built to protect greater New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a seemingly invincible bulwark against flooding… But now, 11 months after the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of the largest public works projects in world history, the agency says the system will stop providing adequate protection in as little as four years because of rising sea levels and shrinking levees." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

When I've discussed the "immigration crisis" (ie. mass human migration occurring world-wide) I often mention not only the pernicious effect of deliberate underdevelopment of colonialism, but the effects of global climate change driving people from tropical zones into temperate zones. Until now I would get a lot of blank stares, or a "nah, that's can't be happening." Whelp, it ain't just me anymore. "How Climate Change Is Fuelling the U.S. Border Crisis… In the western highlands of Guatemala, the question is no longer whether someone will leave but when." The New Yorker. Right now it's the effects of climate change, stronger storms, wetter atmosphere, crop failures, etc that are driving factors. What until it becomes biome collapse. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"More than 30,000 grocery store employees in the northeastern US are refusing to return to work for the second day in a row… Cashiers and deli workers at Stop & Shop supermarkets walked off the job Thursday afternoon at 240 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, saying the supermarket chain is trying to slash their pay by hiking health insurance premiums and lowering pension benefits for new employees." You know, I don't remember as much labor action since I was a little kid. It's kinda startling. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A strong majority of people in wealthy countries want to tax the rich more and there is broad support for building up the welfare state in most countries, a survey conducted for the OECD showed on Tuesday."

"During the sentencing deliberations, the jury sent a note to the judge questioning whether Mr. Rhines would be allowed to marry or have conjugal visits; or be allowed to create a group of followers or admirers; or have a cellmate, should he be sentenced to life in prison. Less than eight hours later, the jury voted to impose the death penalty. Later it became known that some of the jurors who sentenced Mr. Rhines to death 'knew that he was a homosexual and thought he shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison' and thought that 'if he’s gay, we’d be sending him where he wants to go if we voted for [life in prison].' These comments and the note to the judge raise serious doubts regarding the fairness and impartiality of the jury’s decision." (Grokked from John)

"A new policy proposal by the Trump administration calls for the surveillance of disabled people’s social media profiles to determine the necessity of their disability benefits. The proposal, which reportedly aims to cut down on the number of fraudulent disability claims would, monitor the profiles of disabled people and flag content that shows them doing physical activities. When it comes down to it, the policy dictates that disabled people shouldn’t be seen living their lives for fear of losing vital financial aid and, possibly, medical care." So many thoughts about this, but one of the major ones (besides welcome to the surveillance state) is that fact that the Final Solution actually began with killing the disabled. (Grokked from Michele)

"Thousands of dollars in donations flowed to an undisclosed source at a Trump inaugural ball with links to China and dubious donors… But there’s no trace of the money raised that night, as required by law, The Palm Beach Post has found." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"But fast-forward 27 months and the Trumps are no longer even pretending that there’s a meaningful separation between business and politics." This is my shocked face.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Valar dohaeris

I haven't seen this take on the coming season of Game of Thrones, and while I frankly don't believe it'll play out this way, I give it a 33% chance of happening. Strap in.

Winter is coming.

It depends on how you want to look at GoTs. Is it fantasy? Are you sure. Because I'm going to say it's not. It's horror.

What's the difference? Fantasy rewards hope, horror doesn't care about your hope.

So let's look at look at the story so far, shall we. What is the one thing everyone will warn you about when you start watching? "Don't get too attached to anyone you might like." Why? Because they're gonna die soon. Hope does not survive.

While some characters have redeeming arcs after starting on the "wrong" side of the morality play, The Hound is Lancelot after all and Jamie only had to lose a hand and let his little brother into his head before finding a change of heart (well not completely, he is "Kingslayer" after all), all that remain have been compromised in some fashion (maybe not Samwell Tarly, but he did break his vow to the Night Watch). They are all tainted, no-one has made it out without compromise.

Who will end up on the Iron Throne? Well, sure, were all probably pulling for Jon and Daenerys (depending on your personal bent), and I have my own theory of what Arya is running from (or to) in the previews, but I'm not so sure.

Game of Thrones is huge morality play. Nobody deserves to win, and death is the only victor in war. And we have an impersonation of Death in this play. And GoTs is horror.

The Night King will win, but he won't sit on the Iron Throne.

The White Walkers are implacable, resourceful, and how can you defeat an enemy who staffs their own ranks with your dead?

That's the answer to Daenerys' vision. GRR Martin has been hinting at this all along. Winter is coming.

Valar morghulis.

(Editors note) I don't have HBO, so I won't see it until I can buy the DVDs. So I won't be watching Sunday. No I don't mind about spoilers, never have.

Linkee-poo what a week

"As the spacecraft approached the moon, SpaceIL lost contact with Beresheet several times. The scientists kept hope as the connection was restored, but just minutes before the spacecraft was supposed to touch down, contact was lost once again and it crashed on the moon." Space is hard. (Grokked from Dan)

"SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy and lands all three rocket boosters for the first time."

"A team of researchers with members from Norway, Austria, Russia and Germany has found a kind of bacteria that oxidizes methane. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their findings and suggest their work could lead to progress in combating global warming." Remembers reports on how bad water run off is because of how much soil we've entombed beneath concrete and paving. We're boned. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Thirty-five miles out of Carlsbad, in the pancake-flat desert of southeast New Mexico, there's a patch of scrub-covered dirt that may offer a fix — albeit temporarily — to one of the nation's most vexing and expensive environmental problems: What to do with our nuclear waste?" You know for a "non-polluting" form of energy generation, there sure is a lot of byproduct that needs to be handled.

"These scientists believed that plants couldn't become immune to Roundup because it required too big of a change in a plant's biology." Life finds a way. Also here's a perfect example of the "sunk-cost fallacy." Maybe not using these chemicals and returning to more traditional methods of weed control and maybe heirloom seeds might be the answer. But then Monsanto/Bayer wouldn't be in the seed business anymore and that'a lotta money they wouldn't make. Farmers would be ecstatic after a few years. They'll bitch like a stuck pig before then, though.

"A gross, yet fascinating new video shows a troop of deep-sea bugs chowing down on the carcass of an alligator, which researchers from Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) dropped two kilometres (1.2 miles) deep in the Gulf of Mexico." Because SCIENCE!

"A father and son have been federally charged for allegedly selling body parts on the black market they knew were contaminated with infectious diseases."

"Georgetown University could become the first college in the nation to mandate a fee to benefit descendants of slaves sold by the university nearly 200 years ago -- a debate that takes place against the backdrop of a broader political conversation unfolding on the 2020 presidential campaign trail about reparations."

"In his 6,000-word essay, published Thursday in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, with an English translation by the Catholic News Agency, Benedict blames the epidemic of clergy sex abuse largely on a collapse of moral standards in the 1960s and the subsequent failure of Catholic leaders to uphold traditional church teaching." Lemme stop you right there and call bullshit. As many long time readers know, it's my position that the Right-to-life movement is actually a reaction to the sexual revolution in the 60s. Well, here is the Pope making the same argument except about "clergy abuse." He might have a point if it weren't for the fact that the abuse goes well back into history and predates the 60s. So, nice try, but no cookie.

"The six-week abortion ban known as the 'heartbeat bill' is now law in Ohio. That makes Ohio the sixth state in the nation to attempt to outlaw abortions at the point a fetal heartbeat can be detected." Because of course they did. But I want to point out the language here, about how the governor said "The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us…". Notice there is no bill to reform sentencing, no bill to halt predatory business practices, with the increased gas tax we're shifting more burden to the poor, no major change to public school financing, no protection to the other "vulnerable among us." Conservatives are hypocrites through and through. At six weeks, the fetus still doesn't have a brain or spinal cord and the "heartbeat" is a heart just beginning to form.

How go the Trade Wars? "China’s exports for the month of March came in much higher than expected, while its imports came in much lower than expected, according to customs data released on Friday… For the first quarter in total, China notched a $62.66 billion surplus with the United States, according to the data."

"Hearts pounding, guns ready to fire, they counted down and entered the bathroom. But instead of confronting a suspect, they found ... a rogue Roomba robot vacuum that was apparently doing 'a very thorough' job." They shot it anyway, for good measure. I'm kidding, no robots were harmed.

"A woman wanted by police is behind bars after revealing her whereabouts in an online spat on the force's Facebook page."

"The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, one of the largest retailers in the United States which serves millions of active-duty military members and their families, is clarifying a memo sent this week which recommended that stores stop displaying the news on their televisions."

"But Alaska's new Republican governor, Mike Dunleavy, is taking aim at the ferry system's budget, proposing sharp cuts that are threatening its future. He's also pushing major reductions to public schools, health care and the state university system. The savings would be used to boost dividends from the state's oil-wealth fund up to $3,000." Sometimes the sun doesn't shine and the grass doesn't grow. So basically this rum runner promised more free money for the people and nobody bothered to ask where it was coming from. Isn't that what the conservatives say Democrats do? Anyway it's all "sure, more for us" until the rubber meets the road and you have to decide if you want to cut off your arm or leg to pay the bill.

Sure drilling in water is safe. "MacDonald is a scientist at Florida State University where he studies oil spills. This one is not a black, sticky slick, but it stretches on for miles. And here, where the murky Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf, it's been leaking for more than 14 years."

"Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday warned the Trump administration not to go to war with Iran, at least not without getting permission from Congress… The libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican spoke directly to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."

"Kim Jong Un is skirting sanctions and pursuing this energy strategy to keep North Korea afloat."

"White House officials have tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of 'sanctuary cities' to retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Washington Post." This may sound like a lunatic idea… but instead it's an indication of the serious criminal mindset of this White House. Seriously, this is tin-pot, banana-republic thuggery. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"The dramatic end to Julian Assange's asylum has sparked curiosity about his 7-year stay inside Ecuador's Embassy in London that was marked by his late-night skateboarding, the physical harassment of his caretakers and even the smearing of his own fecal matter on the walls of the diplomatic mission." And he apparently left the toilet seat up. "The final straw for (Ecuadorian President Lenin) Moreno was WikiLeaks' decision to spread information about a purported offshore account controlled by the president's brother. Personal photographs of Moreno lying in bed, as well as images of close family members dancing, were also leaked, further incensing him." As the saying goes, don't poop where you eat.

"A former Obama White House counsel has been charged by a grand jury with lying to officials and concealing information about his lobbying efforts in Ukraine." And as you'd expect, this is getting a lot of play in the conservative media space. Which is strange, because it's a part of the Manafort case. But I guess as long as conservatives can says, "See, it's liberals too" they can eventually stop saying, "too" and their base won't even notice.

"Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is already accused of federal financial crimes, has been indicted on 36 counts of embezzlement and fraud by a California federal grand jury, U.S. prosecutors announced Thursday." Look, if you're gonna grab the spotlight and mold yourself as a champion of truth, you gotta deal with the ghosts of your past first of all, and maybe not think your new status will wipe away the old. Just ask the president.

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the path to GOP success in 2020 is running "to be the firewall that saves the country from socialism.'" I guess scaring people with "teh gayz" weren't bringing in the money or votes anymore so we gotta play this other card. But here is Mitch acknowledging the demographic switch from "conservatism" and watching his party being the permanent minority (which, again, is why they're so committed to stacking the courts, it's the last branch of government they'll control until something drastic changes the demographics again).

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Linkee-poo is swamped

Getting a lot of work done. Nothing that I had on my schedule to get done. Feels like I'm stripping gears.

"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London Thursday, British police said, ending the long tenure of the anti-secrecy activist in Ecuador's embassy." So the question is; espionage trial in the US, or rape trial in Sweden?

"The Libro de los Epítomes manuscript, which is more than a foot thick, contains more than 2,000 pages and summaries from the library of Hernando Colón, the illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus who made it his life’s work to create the biggest library the world had ever known in the early part of the 16th century. Running to around 15,000 volumes, the library was put together during Colón’s extensive travels. Today, only around a quarter of the books in the collection survive and have been housed in Seville Cathedral since 1552." This is actually how we know of many early books, not because they survived, but they're mentioned or summarized in other books which have survived. (Grokked from S.A. Chakraborty)

"Astronomers have taken the first ever image of a black hole, which is located in a distant galaxy." And: "This Focus Issue shows ultra-high angular resolution images of radio emission from the supermassive black hole believed to lie at the heart of galaxy M87 (Figure 1). A defining feature of the images is an irregular but clear bright ring, whose size and shape agree closely with the expected lensed photon orbit of a 6.5 billion solar mass black hole." Man, Disney was way off base. (Grokked from John)

How goes Brexit? "Prime Minister Theresa May managed to convince EU leaders to grant the U.K. more time before it leaves the bloc, but experts say her days in office are now numbered." Well, she did get an extension. I didn't expect that (but I expect it was 6 months in an "and this is the last time" kind of offer). And let me say if the next few weeks are not filled with parliamentary votes to get a direction on what type of deal would actually pass, I'd bet on a hard Brexit come All Souls Day and the Guy Fawkes bonfires will be quite bright.

"As with its previous iterations, Sanders' latest bill would establish a national, single-payer Medicare system with vastly expanded benefits. Sanders' plan would also prohibit private plans from competing with Medicare and would eliminate cost-sharing. New in this version is a universal provision for long-term care in home and community settings (though Medicaid would continue to cover institutional care, and states would determine the standard of eligibility)."

"The Vermont independent, one of the top-tier contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been skeptical of getting rid of the legislative filibuster to pass a sweeping legislative agenda. Instead, Sanders is taking a page from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who wanted to shred Senate rules in order to pass ambitious GOP health care legislation in 2017." I applaud the move (including that if he's successful it takes away any other opportunity to use reconciliation for the year), but picture me with a serious eye roll. "He doesn’t yet even have 50 votes for Medicare for All."

"A military council has taken control of Sudan and arrested longtime President Omar al-Bashir, the country's military said Thursday. The move comes after opposition protesters recently gained new momentum in demanding al-Bashir leave office." What's old is new again.

They burn churches, don't they? "A man arrested in connection with fires at three historically black Louisiana churches is a law enforcement official's son, according to local reports."

"Aiming to streamline oil and gas pipeline projects, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed two executive orders making it harder for states to block construction because of environmental concerns." Let the lawsuits begin.

"As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked Republicans this week to head off problematic nominees before President Donald Trump officially picked them, the Kentucky Republican singled out Ken Cuccinelli." It's all fun and games… until it's your seat on the chopping block. And that's all this is really about, McConnell's re-election. It's not about the president having anti-democratic tendencies and appointing laughably incompetent people to positions of power.

"Attorney General William Barr has launched his own informal inquiry about the origins of the Russia investigation, he confirmed to senators on Wednesday." Funny how conservative who are all against looking into the role the Russians played in 2016 (and 2018) because it's already been investigated, are silent on how both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have looked into this matter already and found it to be nothing. "Barr later clarified to Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., that he has no 'specific evidence' about abuse of power or improper surveillance." The AG is speaking out of his ass here. Also, an investigation is not "spying." He would have to prove that information had been passed to the DNC or the Clinton Campaign for that to be true. In either case, AG Barr is showing he is not up to the office. And then there was this, "Why, for example, wasn't Trump briefed explicitly about the contacts his staffers were making with Russians at the time the FBI became concerned enough about it to open its counterintelligence investigation?" I don't know, maybe because the investigators weren't sure if candidate Trump was directing these contacts and wasn't acting as a foreign intelligence asset?

"DHS, FBI say election systems in all 50 states were targeted in 2016… Joint Intelligence Bulletin issued in March says Russian hacking efforts were wide-ranging." The cat is on the roof and won't come down. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Linkee-poo less weak sauce

Still too many alligators, but I did get some reading done.

Sword porn. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Behold the Sola-Busca Tarot Deck, the earliest complete set of Tarot Cards (1490)." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The Curiosity rover is living its best life on Mars. NASA chose the Gale Crater as the vehicle's stomping ground in part because of the siren call of the crater's 'clay-bearing unit.' The rover has now finally drilled into that area, nearly seven years after landing on the red planet."

"Across the U.S., many doctors, nurses and other health care workers have remained silent about what is being called an epidemic of violence against them… The violent outbursts come from patients and patients' families. And for years, it's been considered part of the job." Code Violet. It's called usually once a time during my shifts at the hospital. We don't have metal detectors. Yet.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a deadly, drug-resistant fungus is spreading around healthcare facilities and is 'a serious global health threat.'"

"Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals can lower your risk of an early death, but they should come from food instead of supplements, a study published Tuesday suggests… Researchers from Tufts University say they found no association between the use of dietary supplements and a lower risk of death." Again, the form of these molecules is crucial. To say the "heme" in your blood is iron misses that it's a specific type of iron ("organic iron") and other types of iron could be very harmful. Everything in moderation, vitamins don't cure, but your body needs certain amounts to keep functioning well. Also just a reminder that no one in the "health care industry" makes money from vitamins, that's an entirely different business.

"There was a major break in the investigation of a Florida woman's 1993 disappearance when the mother's son found her body buried in the backyard of his childhood home."

"When it comes to dollar bills, a new report from the federal government says they're lasting more than twice as long as they were at the beginning of the decade… And that's upending an old argument about replacing the dollar bill with a $1 coin."

How go the Trade Wars? "For regular American shoppers, major household appliances perfectly illustrate the complicated reality of the trade dispute. One tariff was a boon to some domestic manufacturers. But other tariffs hiked costs for the entire industry worldwide. Prices on appliances are now slowly recovering from their biggest increase in about five years."

How goes Brexit? "European leaders will decide on Wednesday whether to grant the U.K. another extension to its departure from the bloc, due to take place on Friday April 12." I love how the analysis is, "nobody benefits from a hard Brexit." Nope, the EU could want to send a message of, "Leave the EU at your peril."

"Rapidly escalating violence is limiting civilians' ability to travel in and out of Libya's capital. An airstrike on Tripoli's international airport Monday and other recent clashes have now forced some 3,400 people to leave their homes, according to the U.N.'s Humanitarian Affairs office."

Tit meet tat. "The Trump administration is designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, taking an unprecedented step as it seems to increase pressure on Iran's regime… Iranian lawmakers have prepared legislation that would label part of the U.S. military as a terrorist group, according to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency."

"When it came down to a final issue for Israeli voters to ponder before Tuesday's elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an extraordinary campaign pledge: If re-elected, he said on Saturday, he would annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank." And that's one way to continue war for another generation or 3. If that happens, there will be no peace until one side is eliminated, and then there will be many wars after that.

"Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be on the cusp of securing a record fifth term as Israeli Prime Minister Wednesday after a dramatic finish to a closely fought election race."

"A Ugandan government official said on Wednesday that a total of eight people were in custody over the kidnapping of an American tourist and her guide, and he rejected President Donald Trump's 'lectures' on how to keep visitors to the nation safe." I believe that's international speak for, "please go fuck yourself."

Texas "State legislators stayed up well into the morning hearing emotional testimony about a proposed abortion ban… House Bill 896 would criminalize abortion and classify it as a homicide. Women who have abortions could be sentenced to the death penalty." Just in case you thought this was just about stopping abortion. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"The House Oversight Committee is attempting to study how drug companies set prescription drug prices, but Republicans have warned the industry that it may be better for them not to cooperate." The fuckers. But it's not the first time conservatives have run this game. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, engaged in a fiery exchange Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the length of his testimony before the committee." Things just aren't the same here on Walton's Mountain. Also, Mnuchin just keeps demonstrating what an ass he is.

"A federal judge in California blocked the Trump administration from requiring asylum-seekers to return to Mexico as they await court hearings in the U.S. But the judge delayed implementing his ruling to give the government time to appeal."

"Trump has already faced more joint challenges from states in his first two years than either Barack Obama or George W. Bush did in their eight years in office, according to Paul Nolette, a political science professor at Marquette University who tracks the lawsuits." And now you know why conservatives want to change the makeup of the courts and Majority Leader McConnell has stripped away any of the minorities rights in challenging court appointees (including ignoring blue slips, removing the filibuster, and now limiting debate from 30 hours to 2 hours). They are trying to steal our freedoms and our democracy.

"While some migrant families were separated during the Obama and Bush administrations when immigration officials determined parents posed a risk to their children, there was no government policy of systematically separating children from their parents… Under the discontinued 'zero tolerance' policy of increased prosecution for those who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, the Trump administration forcibly separated more than 2,600 migrant children from their families near the southern border and designated them as unaccompanied minors."