What if Kurzweil doesn't make it?
What if all the switches get stuck on destroy?
When the shuttle goes, we won't take it
When the final counter-measures are deployed
All we'll have is all this time

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Linkee-poo late weekend

"There have been numerous explanations for why the fairies disappeared in Britain - education, advent of electrical lighting, evangelical religion. But one old man in the village of Alves, Moray, Scotland. knew the real reason in 1851: tea drinking. Yes, tea banished the fairies." (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

"Archaeologists are excavating a 4,000-year-old burial mound on a British island linked in mythology to the mysterious order of magical priests known as the Druids." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The New Food Economy has found that GrubHub owns more than 23,000 web domains. Its subsidiary, Seamless, owns thousands. We’ve published the full list here. Most of them appear to correlate with the names of real restaurants." With some services web domains are cheap, and most people don't know to buy all of variations of their names. (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horne) "Income inequality in the U.S. has grown over the past several decades. And as the gap between rich and poor yawns, so does the gap in their health, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open Friday." Because when you have a system based on employment and financial position, that's not unsurprising. "In 2017, the nonprofit hospital system based in Memphis sued the woman for the cost of hospital stays to treat chronic abdominal pain she experienced before the hospital hired her… It's surreal, she says, to be sued by the organization that pays her $12.25 an hour. 'You know how much you pay me. And the money you're paying, I can't live on,' says the housekeeper, who asked that her name not be used for fear that the hospital would fire her for talking to a reporter." Not surprised. One of the little known secrets of the healthcare world, healthcare employee health insurance sucks. "In Malawi, for instance, a woman may take a fisherman's catch and promise to pay him once she's made her sales. Only she might have trouble selling all the fish. So she might pay off what she owes for the fish by engaging in a sexual encounter… Either the man or the woman 'just suggests, let's have sex as a way of compensating,' says Benjamin Kachikho, a project officer with the Malawi office of the Timotheos Foundation, which focuses on social issues such as education about HIV." Poverty and misogyny drives the practice.

"Wind and solar power are now the cheapest way to add new power in two thirds of countries around the world and they will make up almost half of the electricity system by 2050, a new report claims." The article outlines the future as a fait accompli, which is intended to soften the push to replace fossil fuels. This doesn't mean we can stop pushing for renewable power. It just means are arguments for it are bolstered by economics as well. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Democrats don’t win elections because US voter turn out is abysmally low." A tweet thread on the real reason Democrats win (or lose) elections, low turnout. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cited an awkward encounter with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law in a restaurant as an example of diplomacy being conducted behind his back when he was in the administration, according to a newly released transcript of a congressional hearing."

"Speaking to the FT on the eve of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, during which world leaders will discuss trade, security and other matters, Putin said 'the liberal idea' had 'outlived its purpose' and 'come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.'" You know that scene in the Avengers where Loki tells the crowd to kneel? Yeah, that's what Putin is doing here. "liberal idea" means a society of laws where no one is above that law. Putin is a dictator who believes everything belongs to him. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"For much of the last three months, the most popular Joseph R. Biden Jr. website has been a slick little piece of disinformation that is designed to look like the former vice president’s official campaign page, yet is most definitely not pro-Biden… Mr. Mauldin’s website hews far closer to the disinformation spread by Russian trolls in 2016 than typical political messaging. With nothing to indicate its creator’s motives or employer, the website offers a preview of what election experts and national security officials say Americans can expect to be bombarded with for the next year and a half: anonymous and hard-to-trace digital messaging spread by sophisticated political operatives whose aim is to sow discord through deceit. Trolling, that is, as a political strategy." Not all trolls are Russian. And a twitter commentary on questions not asked in the article. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

So our president met with Kim Jung Un at the DMZ, and stepped into N. Korea… and then invited Kim to the White House. All for only the promise of starting talks again. It's a desperation move by someone looking to change the conversation.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Linkee-poo Fridays

For just the second time ever, researchers have pinpointed the location of a fast radio burst (FRB), a super-brief explosion that releases as much energy in 1 millisecond as Earth's sun does over nearly a century."

"On Wednesday NASA announced it will send a spacecraft to the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and one of the leading candidates for finding extraterrestrial microbial life in our solar system. The Dragonfly mission will involve a small, drone-like rotorcraft lander that will be able to fly in small hops across Titan’s surface, covering more distance during its two-year mission than any planetary rover in history."

"Twitter plans to place a disclaimer on future tweets from world leaders that break its rules but which Twitter decides are in the 'public interest,' the company said in a blog post Thursday." That'll work, my Aunt Fanny it will. "There are some exceptions, however. '[D]irect threats of violence or calls to commit violence against an individual' are 'unlikely to be considered in the public interest,' Twitter said in the blog post." How about groups of people? (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A planned 'Straight Pride' parade received approval from the city of Boston, clearing another hurdle to allow the contentious event to move forward… The city approved the event application for the group Super Happy Fun America to host the parade Aug. 31, the Boston Globe and WBUR reported. The event still needs approval from the city's police department and licensing board, according to WBUR." Do not taunt Super Happy Fun Ball. As someone who marched 4 years in the Football Hall of Fame Parade at the beginning of August (this was before marching bands had "summer" uniforms, so it was the wool uniforms for us), they can have it. I know some people have been upset, but this is set to be a flop. Let them fail. Or, you know, counter program.

"Owing to such magic-seeming intercessions, GoFundMe has acquired a wishing-well mystique… A third of the money raised on GoFundMe in 2017 was for medical expenses. This isn’t surprising, given that the United States has the highest over-all health-care costs in the developed world… A study in The American Journal of Medicine last fall found that 42.4 per cent of the 9.5 million people diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and 2012 had depleted their assets within two years. Like the vase between the faces in the famous optical illusion, GoFundMe has become a negative-space portrait of our country’s teetering medical finances, a repository for the costs that patients and underwriters cannot or will not cover on their own." Our world class healthcare system.

"Patients who are brain-injured and unresponsive may appear unconscious, but a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine repurposed a widely-used technology to demonstrate that the brains of some of these patients are still active." No word on if this technology will be successful to demonstrate conservatives still having brain activity.

"When it comes to sending U.S. aid to poor countries, every Republican president from Ronald Reagan through Donald Trump has imposed a rule: Foreign aid groups are prohibited from getting U.S. assistance for family planning unless they promise not to 'perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.'… But a new study in the medical journal The Lancet suggests that the Mexico City policy has actually increased the rate of abortions by about 40% in the countries studied — likely because the funding ban caused a reduction in access to contraception and a consequent rise in unwanted pregnancies." Oh look, another conservative ideology that doesn't work in with reality.

"Hasbro announced Wednesday it will release a version of the classic board game Monopoly designed for the digital age. But financial experts argue the game’s new design could deprive children of important financial lessons… In Hasbro’s… latest edition of Monopoly, gone are the paper money and Community Chest cards. Instead, the board game now comes with a voice-controlled, artificial intelligence device shaped like a top hat." ZOMG, how will the kiddies learn how to go into crushing debt without the phony money in Monopoly. Oh woes is us.

On the Media podcast with their final episode of their reporting on "The Scarlet E." "First, a look back on a solution that worked in some places and was allowed to fail in many others."

How go the Trade Wars? "U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are poised to write the latest chapter in their globe-shaking trade war when they meet Saturday morning in Japan." The news media, especially the financial media, expect Trump to behave like a rational adult. They're so cute when they're that naive. Look, he's going to be soft in front of the other leaders, and then fuck us over when he gets back. That's how he operates.

"In a defeat for the Trump administration, the Supreme Court leaves the citizenship question blocked for now from the 2020 census, in part because of the government's explanation for why it added it in the first place… The majority said it 'cannot ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given' by the Trump administration." Let me check the google Legalize to English translation here… yep, it say's "pants on fire."

"In a 5-4 decision along traditional conservative-liberal ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled that partisan redistricting is a political question — not reviewable by federal courts — and that those courts can't judge if extreme gerrymandering violates the Constitution." The fuck you say?

"Armed with a five to four conservative majority thanks to President Donald Trump's appointment of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh over the past two years, the Supreme Court said it had no role to play in partisan gerrymandering -- a decision that amounts to a massive political victory for Republicans, not just in the moment, but also likely for the next decade-plus." Welcome to RedMap2020. The good thing is, like Ohio, several states have already changed how redistricting happens. Taking the power out of a partisan process (although this is yet to be fully tested).

"The Supreme Court has ruled that police may, without a warrant, order blood drawn from an unconscious person suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol… The decision conflicts with previous court rulings in which the justices ruled that a blood draw is a significant bodily intrusion into a person's privacy and that there are less intrusive ways of enforcing drunken driving laws against unconscious motorists — getting a warrant, for instance, which in these tech-savvy days can be done relatively easily and quickly." Goodbye Fourth Amendment.

"President Donald Trump arrived at a gathering of world leaders Thursday searching for support for a new deal to curtail an increasingly aggressive Iran. He’s not likely to find any… Not only do other countries still support a 2015 nuclear pact, they’re skeptical Trump can strike a better agreement within the time constraints of his fast-approaching reelection campaign, especially after Iran recently proclaimed the end of diplomacy with the U.S." The art of the deal. It works well when people want or need your money. It fails spectacularly when they have options.

Sort of like this… "North Korea issued new warnings to the U.S. on Thursday, blasting recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and threatening military action if diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang continues to falter." What was the "excellent content" in the letters they've exchanged? My money is Kim Jong Un was sharing his Netflix password.

"President Trump met face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Japan and told his counterpart not to 'meddle' in the 2020 elections when pressed by a reporter, but his delivery faced immediate criticism as being aloof." No, it faced criticism for not being sincere. There's a difference.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Linkee-poo Thursdays child

Harry and the Potters, a "punk" rock group? they don't sound punk to me.

"At 1,000 pounds and over 10 feet tall, it was one of the largest birds that ever lived in Earth's history. And almost 2 million years ago, early Europeans lived alongside some of these huge birds, according to new research published Wednesday." That's a big turkey.

"Hydroelectric dams, solar panels and wind turbines generated almost 68.5 million megawatt-hours of power in April, eclipsing the 60 million that coal produced that month, Energy Information Administration data released late Tuesday show. That’s the most clean power the U.S. has ever made -- and the least coal it has burned for power in years." It'll slide back and forth for a while, but it's a good start. Coal is facing more competition from natural gas, though. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

"The rise in insulin prices has nothing to do with recouping R&D costs (the majority of which are funded by government agencies, in any event): the cost of Humalog has risen 1000% in a decade, without any reformulations or refinements… Why are the prices so high? Because there's no competition to speak of. Re-patenting and legal saber-rattling have kept most new entrants out of the market, while lax antitrust enforcement has allowed existing companies to merge, eliminating potential competitors." I'm going to disagree here, the problem isn't the lack of competition. The problem is the business mindset that says we need to maximize profit to pay the executives high salaries and bonuses (or, "we gotta protect our phony baloney jobs" as Mel Brooks once said). It's a loss of societal norms and the insistence (and reward) of psychopathic behavior in our corporate executives. Why was insulin less expensive (note, not "cheap") before this? Because it never occurred to previous generations to hold consumers hostage in this manner, a literal "your money or your life" situation. When pricing decisions are based on "how much you got" versus "cost + profit", this is what happens. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Vaccination against the human papilloma virus, which causes most cervical cancers, began over a decade ago… Over decades, this should translate into a significant fall, and possible eradication, of the cancer they said." Except in the US where we are culturally squeamish about vaccinating our young women (and men) for a sexually transmitted disease, even if it means saving their lives.

Just how fucked up is the concept of fetus personhood? "A woman whose unborn baby was killed in a 2018 Pleasant Grove shooting has now been indicted in the death… Though Jones didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire. Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her." But then it could also just be the ongoing denial of the personhood of black people. (Grokked from Seanan McGuire)

"When patients arrive at the Ebola Treatment Center in the city of Beni, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Modet Camara oversees a strict protocol. First they're tested to confirm that they have the virus. Then a social worker asks if they're willing to participate in a study that would randomly assign them one of four experimental treatments intended to attack the virus, eliminating it from the body before it can kill the patient." And the vaccine is showing promise.

"Genetically modified salmon may soon be on the menu. It will be the first GMO animal approved for human consumption in the U.S., and the fish are being raised in an unlikely place." No transcript yet. The modification means the salmon mature in 1.5 years instead of 2+ years. Considering the chicken we eat are barely a 2 months old, I'm not sure this is a problem (except the faster you grow an organism, the less nutritious and flavorful it is).

How go the Trade Wars? "Chinese President Xi Jinping will present President Trump with the terms it expects the U.S. to meet for Beijing to settle the trade war, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing Chinese officials." What, China isn't breaking down and begging the president for relief? They think they're in control of this? Shock! Outrage! Scandal! My guess is that just like the Iran situation, Trump made overtures on how both sides could exit without losing face and the Chinese are telling him to stuff it.

The retain apocalypse continues. "Pier 1 Imports is increasing the number of stores expected to shutter this year… The Texas-based home goods retailer said Wednesday it was looking to close 57 stores in the fiscal year, up a dozen from the April estimate of 45 stores."

"Long a feature of white-collar employment agreements, non-compete clauses are increasingly showing up in blue-collar job contracts. That move may be hurting the economy." No transcript yet, but WTF? I'm old enough to remember when companies worked on keeping employee loyalty. It was a long time ago, but seriously there are white papers on how to do this without being dicks.

"A right-wing militia group member that was seen on video detaining people along the U.S.-Mexico border on suspicion of crossing illegally was arrested for impersonating a Border Patrol agent." Like we couldn't see that coming. Also, who recorded the video? If you guessed these jack-asses you'd be right. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"The House on Thursday will consider adding to the Senate-passed bill several requirements that were in the House version, including medical, nutrition and hygiene standards for facilities holding migrants, and a three-month limit for any child to spend at an intake shelter, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It would also require the death of a child be reported within 24 hours."

"The photo shows several migrants from Nicaragua who troops intercepted Friday as they tried to cross the border, Martínez told CNN. One woman had been traveling with her husband and two daughters. They made it across the river. She didn't."

"The Trump administration wants to scale back a program that protects undocumented family members of active-duty troops from being deported, according to attorneys familiar with those plans." Because of course he does. So how will that affect troop readiness as those who are deployed now must worry about those at home?

"The labor union for federal asylum officers is condemning President Trump's policy of sending migrants to Mexico as they wait for their assigned court dates in the U.S., calling the Trump administration's program 'fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation.'" Ya think? Just a reminder, the only reason why we're having this be an issue is because the President and his coterie are racists.

"President Trump is ordering the Pentagon to rewrite a rule allowing athletes to delay mandatory active service in order to play professional sports directly upon graduation… During the Obama administration, military academy athletes were able to go right into sports after graduating if they were granted reserve status. But last year, Trump's own Defense Department revoked that policy." I think that says all you need to know about the Trump administration. Oh, and military academies are free, but highly competitive.

"The National Security Agency improperly collected phone call records of Americans last fall, months after a previous breach that compelled the agency to destroy millions of records from the contentious program, documents released Wednesday revealed." They just can't quit us.

"During the hearing, Special Counsel Henry Kerner, who recommended that Conway be removed from federal service, said that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) had 'never issued two reports on the same person' in the 30 years it has been independent, before Conway. No one before Conway had repeated violations of the law prohibiting executive branch employees from using their official position to influence an election, Kerner said." There's this news meme about how the "next generation" of whatever employees aren't as smart or savvy as the baby boomers (they're always compared to the boomers, and sometimes it appears as if Gen-X were all abducted by aliens). But here we see it in full play. These people are so dumb that they can't even make the simple work arounds honed by decades of public service work for them. But then, they also never think the rules apply to them, just the rest of us plebes.

"A U.S.-led conference in Bahrain designed to drum up investment in the Palestinian economy and pave a path to peace with Israel has gone largely unremarked by Israelis preoccupied with a political crisis and their arch-foe Iran." That's because it's not really a plan that has any chance. It's a plan that the Trump administration can point to and say, "See, we tried. But nobody wanted it." And then bang on about how it's all the Palestinian's fault.

"The US-led economic workshop in Bahrain closed amid derision and rejection from Palestinian officials on Wednesday, who said its framework for a trade and investment boost ignored their political aspirations for statehood." So how can you have a two-day workshop on a peace deal when both of the sides that need to comes to peace ignore your conference? It's like what is the opposite of "what if we threw a war and nobody came?"

"Beto O’ Rourke and Cory Booker didn’t just sprinkle in a few words or phrases à la George W. Bush (remember 'mi casa es su casa'?). No, they were determined to answer debate questions with long, somewhat tortured Spanish sentences."

So what was the conservative response to last night's debate. Since there wasn't much they could hang their hat on, it was the technical glitch they focused on. Strong reporting there, Fox News.

"One indication of the difference came the night before President Trump's attention-grabbing rally in Orlando to kick of his re-election effort. Volunteers gathered… (and) responded to an hour-long PowerPoint presentation with enthusiastic hoots and hollers… They were there to learn the process for registering voters and how to leverage their own social media accounts to spread the word about Trump's accomplishments." I won't make a powerpoint joke here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Linkee-poo mega-Wednesdays

"'How Many Psychologists Does It Take ... to Explain a Joke?'… Many, it turns out. As psychologist Christian Jarrett noted in a 2013 article featuring that riddle as its title, scientists still struggle to explain exactly what makes people laugh." That's because it's not one thing, and humor is not universal. But the article descends into the mistaken notion about laughter. Laughter is a biological trait and form of communication. While associated with humor, it is not a stand-in for humor. And look, if you have to explain a joke, you kill it. Because humor is a liminal characteristic. It is the dead and alive Schrödinger's cat that will claw your eyes out.

"On June 22nd at 21:25 UT, a small asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere and exploded in broad daylight south of Puerto Rico. Airwaves recorded by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization's infrasound station in Bermuda pegged the blast energy between 3 and 5 kilotons of TNT--a fraction of a WW II atomic bomb."

"This version of a solar sail will have a total area of 32 square meters, and mission planners will deploy the sail about two weeks after launch if all goes well. (More details about what will happen can be found here). Using a momentum wheel to adjust the orientation of its sail, the spacecraft will essentially attempt to demonstrate that it can "tack" into the stream of photons emanating from the Sun. Success will come as the spacecraft manages to raise its orbit over the course of a month." (Grokked from Dan)

"By testing monarchs bought from a commercial supplier, Ayse Tenger-Trolander from the University of Chicago showed that they make terrible migrators. While their wild counterparts have a strong tendency to head south, the mail-order insects flew in random directions. Tenger-Trolander also found that wild monarchs became similarly inept if she raised them indoors, even if she tried her best to mimic natural conditions."

We're having a heat wave. "Western Europe is expecting a potentially devastating heat wave that could reach temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In France, this heat wave is being compared to one it experienced almost 16 years ago when thousands died."

"Some 84% of people surveyed said Americans are angrier today compared with a generation ago, according to the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health poll." Well fuck yeah.

How go the Trade Wars? "U.S. property sales to Chinese buyers saw a 4% drop from 2017 to 2018, according to Chinese foreign property sales site Juwai.com."

"Eight of the world's biggest technology service providers were hacked by Chinese cyber spies in an elaborate and years-long invasion, Reuters found. The invasion exploited weaknesses in those companies, their customers, and the Western system of technological defense." The Cloud is just someone else's hard drive.

"Nike is said to have axed a new line of China-only sneakers earlier this month after the designer promoted a photo in support of the Hong Kong protests."

"A key measure of the American economy slipped this month after three consecutive months of increases as consumers saw the trade war with China as an increased risk… The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index declined to 121.5 in June, the business research group said on Tuesday. The drop was more than the decline to 131.1 that economists surveyed by Reuters expected."

"The friend who was driving eventually turned around and headed back toward the gathering. As they went to park the car, Menagh and the driver noticed Echartea headed toward them. When he got to the car, Echartea fired three rounds into the driver’s window, one hitting Fayth in the head." If you've followed me for a while, you know that in general I'm against the death penalty. But not in this case (although I don't believe this crime will qualify for death penalty consideration).

"Three people, including the suspected gunman, died at a Ford dealership in Northern California on Tuesday night, police said… Authorities responded to the Morgan Hill Ford Dealership just after 6 p.m. and found two employees with gunshot wounds, according to a statement from the Morgan Hill Police Department." I guess it's still to early to talk about gun control. Again.

In related news, "The National Rifle Association is shutting down production of its online streaming network, NRATV, according to a spokesman for the gun lobby… Andrew Arulanandam confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that the organization will stop producing new content for its 24-hour live online channel. The decision was first reported by the New York Times." The NRA also dumped Ackerman McQueen Inc., their advertising/marketing firm since forever. No honor among thieves. Don't worry, though, I'm sure they'll show up somewhere.

"Sometimes with a cellphone video you'll see cops behave bizarrely, abruptly shouting things like 'stop resisting!' or 'gun!' when it's obvious the suspect is not resisting and is either unarmed or not reaching for a weapon. The point of it is to establish, on less revealing recording devices such as bodycams and dashcams, that the officer has a reasonable fear for their lives." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"'Every time we see a Supreme Court nominee come on board, or even in a presidential election, we hear calls for strict reading of the Constitution, judges that aren't going to color outside the lines. And the point — one of the many takeaways from the book — is that the Constitution is rarely black and white.'" It's more like guidelines, actually.

"The protesters in Hong Kong have two characteristics that really boost their chances (of success): non-violence and more than 3.5% of the population have gotten involved." Leave the violence to the professionals.

"Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday pushed back on market expectations and presidential pressure for the central bank to deliver a significant U.S. interest rate cut of half a percentage point as soon as its next meeting." Nice Dow Jones you've got there. Shame if anything happened to it.

"San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in the city. The city is the corporate home of Juul Labs, the biggest producer of e-cigarettes in the United States." The only thing different about e-cigs from regular cigs is there is less chance of accidentally setting a fire. e-Cigs don't include the chemical treatments given to regular cigarettes, but they also contain other chemicals to help the "vaping action" of nicotine. And while nicotine wasn't the only carcinogen found in regular cigs, it still is a carcinogen, and a highly addictive one at that.

In our name. "These are children. They have done nothing wrong. How they got here shouldn’t matter. Whose fault it is that they’re here shouldn’t matter. They are here, and one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world is failing to care for them in even the most marginally humane way."

"Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders is resigning, he said in a message sent to agency employees Tuesday, amid the dramatic increase in the number of undocumented migrants crossing the border and a fight over how to address it."

"John Kelly joins board of company operating largest shelter for unaccompanied migrant children." It's a growth business, which Kelly helped initiate and feed. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Trigger warning for photo: "A father and daughter lie face down in murky waters littered with reeds and discarded beer bottles. Their heads are wrapped in a black T-shirt -- her tiny right arm draped over his shoulders."

"Rep. Terry Canales… sent a letter to local Border Patrol officials asking what items members of the public could donate… Canales says the response he received baffled him. 'We don't accept donations,' the email from a Border Patrol representative said, according to Canales." You don't accept donations of things you never intend to use.

"Congress on Tuesday passed a $4.5 billion border funding bill in a win for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It includes provisions for the treatment of migrant children in U.S. custody. It sets up a showdown with the GOP-controlled Senate, and President Trump has threatened to veto the bill even if it does pass the Senate." But the president, who told Congress to do something or he'll order mass deportations (that will be managed by departments who are running out of money) says he'll veto it. The delay is nothing, it's meant to be a tool he can use to say, "Look, I was reasonable" when he never had any intention of being so.

"Sean Lawler, a State Department official whose title is chief of protocol, is departing amid a possible inspector general’s probe into accusations of intimidating staff and carrying a whip in the office, according to one of the people." You just couldn't make this shit up. (Grokked from Dan)

"Justice Department prosecutors alleged on Monday that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) used campaign contributions to have multiple extramarital affairs, including a $1,000 ski vacation with a female lobbyist." (Grokked for Kathryn Cramer)

"A Catholic high school in Indianapolis says it has decided to fire a gay teacher to remain in the local archdiocese… The school's president and chairman of the board wrote that if the unnamed teacher remained employed, the 100-year-old school would lose its nonprofit status and would no longer be able to perform Catholic sacraments." Win some, lose some. It also helps that the Jesuits who run the other school will still keep their positions in the church even if their school is no longer affiliated with the church.

"NATO said Russia must destroy its short-range nuclear-ready cruise missile system, or the alliance will be forced to respond… The U.S. has previously said it will quit a decades-old missile treaty with Russia if the latter fails to destroy the missile, labeled the SSC-8 by NATO." To my Russian friends, we've already played this game. There is no such thing as a "winnable" nuclear war. If you think this short-range missile gives you an advantage, understand what the response would be to its use. It would mean the end of humans on this planet. We understood this in the 70s and 80s. There is no "limited" when it comes to these weapons. The only "smart" move, if you determine to launch nuclear weapons, is to launch everything at the same time. The lucky ones will be within Zone 1 (instant death from the explosion), the unlucky will finish dying within a few months.

"The Trump administration made an unusual last-minute plea to the Supreme Court Tuesday, telling the justices that actions by lower courts make it urgent to act quickly to resolve the legality of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census." You mean like new and more evidence that the question was added to suppress responses (which will increase the cost, BTW) which may lead to an undercount of minorities and may disrupt their lawful representation in government?

"Robert Mueller will testify before Congress on July 17 after House Democrats issued a subpoena for his appearance, a move that paves the way for a reluctant special counsel to answer questions publicly for the first time about his 22-month investigation into President Donald Trump." How bad could this get? Well, Fox News is freaking the fuck out. "Key Democrat lawmakers who triumphantly announced that Robert Mueller will testify under subpoena next month about his report on alleged Russian collusion may have played right into Republican hands, several legal and political experts told Fox News." Who are those who are saying this? Why people like Lindsey Graham and other Fox News commentators. Including Alan Dershowitz who says, "When former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies July 17 before two Democratic-controlled House committees about his investigation of Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, Mueller should refuse to say anything about the investigation of Trump and his campaign beyond what is already in his report." You hear that, Mueller, you better keep your trap shut, because if not it may backfire against Democrats… or something like that.

"Three senators, four current or former representatives, a mayor, a governor and a former cabinet secretary all walk onto a stage ... followed the next night by a former vice president, four senators, a congressman, a former governor, a mayor and a pair of entrepreneurs." Sounds like the beginning of a joke, and it is. It's the first Democratic Party presidential debate.

"Interviews with nearly 20 Democratic elected officials, party chiefs, labor leaders and operatives the past week revealed an air of foreboding verging on alarm that the debates will degenerate into a two-night, bare-knuckle brawl. With the divisive 2016 Democratic primary fresh in their minds and the current presidential candidates starting to take swipes at one another, the fear is that voters will be left with the impression of a bickering, small-minded opposition party." Look, except for the diehards, nobody is going to be watching this except for the entertainment value. Hell, I'm not sure I'm going to watch it. But you know what, last time the GOP was all about who could perform the best hand-job on the planks of the conservative movement. This will be more of a substantive difference in policy and priorities. The GOP is about who can wrap themselves in the flag the tightest (and went to the guy who dry humped flags on stage). The Democrats are about who is going to help who the most.

"Decades as an advice columnist have taught Carroll something about American psychology; she might understand, better than most, that many of Trump’s devotees seem to find sexual harassment and assault more titillating than objectionable. They might actually kind of like the idea of his having done what he is on record as saying he does. Seen through this looking glass, it’s evidence of red-blooded American manhood. Of power." The president is a serial sexual assaulter. (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Linkee-poo Tuesdays

Judith Krantz and Chris Cornell, and so it goes.

"Uranus has rings, too." Don't get personal. (Grokked from Dan)

"Democratic state attorney generals and environmental groups are gearing up for what is expected to be a precedent-setting legal battle with the Trump administration over its rollback of an Obama-era power plant pollution rule… They argue the new Trump rule won't do enough to stop climate change and that the administration is ignoring the Clean Air Act's (CAA) requirement that the federal government manage pollution that is harmful to human health."

"But, (VP) Pence isn't really saying that the administration understands what the science says and will follow it. Instead, he's simply hiding behind a bunch of equivocations -- the ridiculousness of which are laid bare by Tapper's repeated fact-based pushback and the VP's anemic 'responses.'" We're boned.

"SpaceX caught the fairing, or nose cone, of its Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday, passing another milestone as the company seeks to consistently reuse an expensive part of its rocket." But only returned two of the 3 cores.

"Scientists have long found a possible link between anticholinergic drugs and an increased risk of dementia… A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday suggests that the link is strongest for certain classes of anticholinergic drugs -- particularly antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinics, antipsychotics and antiepileptic drugs… people taking these medications are advised not to stop them without consulting with their doctor first, as that could be harmful." Also add the usual disclaimers about it being one study, a small study, the results are not determinative just related.

"Anyone who has tried to shop around for hospital services knows this: It's hard to get prices in advance… President Trump signed an executive order Monday that he says would make such comparisons easier, and make the pricing process more transparent." The problem is that even with prices (and I agree that the only way for the consumer to have an effect in the market is to show the full price upfront) consumers don't have enough information to make good decisions. So what I see this doing, besides upping the information caregivers will need to know (as it is we are often asked how much the x-rays/CTs will cost), is delaying care, patients going against medical advice, and hospitals and providers charging the high-end of their prices to make sure they cover all of the various possibilities of the care. And when you're in an emergency, are you really going to price shop? So with the cost of the x-ray, are we going to include the cost of the Radiologist to read that x-ray? Are we going to force providers to disclose the whole pricing structure (hint: your pharmacy co-pays often are more than what the pharmacy pays for the drugs) or just the "MSRP"? What happens if you're getting a standard surgery and there is a complication, do we wake you up and wait until you're legally able to make a decision to explain the cost options to you? The devil will be in the details, but if I had to lay money this will be done in the most stupid manner possible. Which won't change a damn thing and will end up costing even more.

"The fake messages are an example of 'dark patterns,' devious online techniques that manipulate users into doing things they might not otherwise choose to. They are the digital version of timeworn tactics used to influence consumer behavior, like impulse purchases placed near cash registers, or bait-and-switch ads for used cars." Know what you want up front, don't let them drive you to make choices, make sure you slowly read all options given to you.

"In the photograph, Gretchen Altman is smiling, leaning back casually, a cup of coffee in hand — Hills Bros. Coffee, to be precise. It looks like a candid shot, but if you hit like, leave a comment, and tag a friend, you can get three different blends of brew, for free." The rise of the "micro-influencer." We've been dealing with this for a long time, including people posting book reviews (which is why I don't do that here).

In case you ever wondered why I rail against the system, here's a tweet storm by Jim Wright that explains a little of it. In the village I live in I was appalled that only 18% of the kids went on to higher education than HS. The drop out rate was higher. It's now about 50% (when you include trade schools), but that still too damn low. Parents in my village quit their jobs when their kids are Seniors to "make it the best year of their (kid's) lives." Seriously. I've been told this to my face by the parents. The best these kids can hope for is Senior year of High School. And no matter how much my wife and I have tried, they stubbornly refuse to change or accept that help. We donate science books to the school, they go missing. We donate art books, they give them to the little kids to cut up to make "arrangements". We donate books on college selection and financial aid, they disappear into the counselors' offices never to be seen again. The kids we meet and know we encourage to do better, have more, see the world. Most don't. And just like Jim says, they're "(n)ot just proud of it, but determined to it. Their politicians and their religion tell them that a desire for a better future is arrogance, elitism, a sin, unamerican and that doing so makes for lazy entitled children. I look around at this proud poverty and am appalled." And they "don't want a government handout", but boy-howdy let them plant a few acres less than will qualify them for crop insurance or assistance and you'll hear it shouted across the fields (seriously). Two of my coworkers at the hospital are from that. I'm proud they've at least gone for a 2 year degree and have a great job. But neither are going to leave their parent's farms, and both are marrying their high school sweethearts. My grandparents were middle class, but we were working poor. I look back at the opportunities I didn't even consider were available to me and sometimes I wonder what might have been. And not to blow my own horn, but (knock on wood) I've done pretty well for myself and my wife.

"My work as a journalist has taken me to many foreign countries, including frequent trips to Mexico. On May 13, I was returning to the U.S. from Mexico City when, passing through immigration at the Austin airport, I was pulled out of line for “secondary screening,” a quasi-custodial law enforcement process that takes place in the Homeland Security zone of the airport." (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

"The Pentagon announced earlier this month that training by Turkish pilots on F-35 fighter jets had been halted at a U.S. air base in Arizona following Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems."

"Iran accused the United States Tuesday of lying about wanting to resume talks between the two countries in the wake of new sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump earlier this week."

"Fresh sanctions levied by the United States drew an intense reaction from Iran on Tuesday, with a senior official saying they spell the 'permanent closure' of diplomacy between the two countries." Two can play hardball. Iran tells the US to get lost.

"There is no American strategic alliance that President Trump won’t seek to undo in the name of… a quick buck? After years of grousing about NATO, this week Bloomberg reports Trump has been privately musing to aides about upending the U.S.-Japan defense treaty that came out of the wreckage of World War II. The 60-year-old pact saw Japan give up its military in return for security guarantees from the U.S., laying the groundwork for decades of regional stability and economic growth." But Trump doesn't like it because it doesn't require Japan to militarily assist the US. There's a reason for that.

"A Vietnamese court has sentenced an American to 12 years in jail for what was described as an attempt to overthrow the Communist nation’s government."

"A Russian air force plane landed on Monday in Venezuela’s main airport, according to a Reuters witness and a website that tracks plane movements, three months after a similar arrival spurred a war of words between Washington and Moscow." End game, reduction of force, escalation of force? Time will tell.

"The Treasury Department will conduct an investigation into the circumstances leading to a delay in the production of a new $20 bill featuring a portrait of slave-turned-slave-emancipator Harriet Tubman."

"The White House on Monday threatened to veto House Democrats' proposal on how to meet its request for $4.5 billion in funds to address the influx of migrants on the southern border." So much for those two weeks (also next week starts the 4 of July recess).

"More than 200 migrant children detained in a remote Border Patrol station in southwest Texas without adequate food, water and sanitation have been moved after news of the conditions became public last week." It wasn't just about that one station.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Linkee-poo deals with Monday

"Somewhere back down the line, the West woke up to the Fox Woman gone. And when she left, she took many stories with her. And, when the day is dimming and our great successes have been bragged to exhaustion, the West sits, lonely in its whole body for her. For stories are more than just a dagger between our teeth. More than just a bellow of conquest. We have turned our face away from the pelt. Underneath our wealth, the West is a lonely hunter." Terri Windling with a cut of manuscript from Martin Shaw about the importance of story.

Who farted? "The American space agency's Mars rover Curiosity has recorded its largest measurement yet of methane."

"Their island getaways went bad in ways that sound similar: crippling stomach cramps, explosive diarrhea and malaise that lasted after they returned home… But in some ways, they consider themselves lucky. They survived their trips to the Dominican Republic." Who needs regulations and consumer protections?

"Compared to traditional open surgery, robotic surgery is minimally invasive and recovery time is often shorter, making the technology attractive to patients and doctors. But the da Vinci surgical system is expensive, costing as much as $2 million, and recent studies show that for certain procedures it can sometimes lead to worse long-term outcomes than other types of surgery."

"They're part of a sober social club, made up mostly of women in their 30s who want to have fun and make friends without alcohol… The members of this club work out, have demanding jobs and simply don't want to feel foggy or hungover anymore. Without alcohol, they say, they just feel better." Sober curious? We used to have a name for people like this. We called them people. How screwed up is society that people wanting to not drink throws a monkey wrench into the works.

How goes Brexit? "Sky News has said it will be forced to cancel a debate between the two men vying to be the next Tory leader unless Boris Johnson agrees to take part… Mr Johnson has faced three days of questions over his private life after a row with his partner Carrie Symonds."

"Analysts have rebuked the economic part of the United States's Middle East peace plan for failing to address the main problem that has heavily curbed the Palestinian economy - the 52-year-old Israeli military occupation over the Palestinian territories." Without a political solution, no amount of economic stimulus will help.

"President Donald Trump is threatening to impose 'major' new sanctions against Iran on Monday, ramping up the pressure on the Islamic Republic at a time when its economy is straining under the weight of financial restrictions." What remains to be sanctioned?

"China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Jun said on Monday that China will not allow the Group of 20 nations to discuss the Hong Kong issue at its summit this week." Oo, the family dinner doesn't look like it'll go well.

"Tens of thousands of Czechs filled Prague's Letna Plain park on Sunday, taking part in what its organizers described as 'the biggest protest since the fall of Communism.'… They were demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, a controversial politician accused of fraud and collaborating with the Communist-era secret police, and his justice secretary Marie Benesova."

"Istanbul has elected a new mayor in a rerun that is widely being seen as a referendum on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his grip on Turkey after the first mayoral elections were annulled." For the second time.

"U.S. President Donald Trump will visit South Korea this weekend after an exchange of letters with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boosted hopes for talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear program." We've been here before, right. It feels like we've been here before.

"President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence responded separately to criticism over reports that the government is not providing detained immigrant children with adequate food, water, soap, toothbrushes, or blankets. In three interviews that aired Sunday, both men blamed Democrats for the conditions at detention facilities." They know this is a PR problem for them, so they're trying to shift the blame. This is a direct result of the Trump administration policies, they just didn't care that they didn't have the money to implement them properly. It was their stated goal to make these detentions horrible as a deterrent.

Understand that these migrants know this is a possible outcome. "Border Patrol agents found four bodies, including three children, near the Rio Grande River in South Texas on Sunday, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said." And they're still coming. Do you think a little unsanitary conditions will stop them? Besides the health concerns, it just makes Americans look bad.

"President Trump is delaying immigration raids that were set to begin this weekend, saying he will give Congress two weeks to make changes to asylum law before dispatching Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents around the country to deport undocumented immigrants." Holding immigrants hostages all to force Democrats to give him more powers to be even worse to immigrants.

"South Bend mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg faced his constituents at a tense town hall Sunday afternoon one week after the fatal shooting of Eric Logan, an African American man, by South Bend Police Sgt. Ryan O'Neill, a white police officer." No matter the outcome, this will be a hell of a albatross for Buttigieg.

"A popular knitting social media website has banned support for President Donald Trump on its platform, accusing his administration of propagating 'open white supremacy.'" I think we'll all remember where we were when we learned that the knitting community got fed up with bullshit. And it may be my own confirmation bias, but I'm thinking that conservatives were starting to get obnoxious with their proselytizing. (Grokked from Dan)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Linkee-poo Weekender

"Seven years after scientists caught the elusive deep-sea cephalopod on video, they saw another. Then lightning struck a third time."

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its plan to relax limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, eviscerating one of former president Barack Obama’s flagship climate policies… The EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule allows states to set their own emissions-reduction goals." We did this once before. And then acid-rain started devastating the Northeast (and still has effects lasting to this day). This is just stupid as green-house gases has affects that are world-wide, let alone cross state lines. Before it was about sulfur (and other things) in the air. When utilities talk about how much they've reduced pollutants in emissions since the 70s, this is what they're talking about. And they only reduced them because of regulatory action (and a promise of making them pay for the damage being done).

"For years, Internet users have been griping about the USB, or Universal Serial Bus, and its maddening difficulty to plug in right, even creating memes about the commonly shared experience. Some call it the USB paradox, the seemingly impossible process of making a 50-50 guess wrong twice."

"The Supreme Court ruled Friday to allow people to sue in federal court when they believe states and local governments have harmed their property rights, handing a victory to a Pennsylvania woman fighting her town over a cemetery ordinance." Here come the lawsuits.

"Missouri’s health department has declined to renew the abortion license for the state’s lone clinic, but a court order allows the St. Louis Planned Parenthood affiliate to perform the procedure — for now." Because of course they did.

"A Kentucky grand jury has declined to indict a Louisville woman accused of attacking an 82-year-old anti-abortion protester while leaving a women’s clinic." Huhn.

How goes Brexit? "The European Union insisted Friday that it will not reopen the Brexit withdrawal agreement with the U.K. government whoever succeeds Theresa May as British prime minister." But Boris is such a great negotiator.

"House Democrats have unveiled a $4.5 billion measure to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis at the southern border and to the government’s responsibility to care for tens of thousands of people seeking safe harbor under U.S. asylum laws."

This just keeps getting weirder. "Anti-government militias have vowed to protect an Oregon GOP lawmaker who threatened to shoot state police trying to bring him back to the capitol to pass legislation this week." The legislation is a carbon bill and increasing taxes on the rich. One legislator basically said he'd shoot anyone who came for him. And then this asshole, "'The First Amendment is just as important as the Second,' (Eric Parker, president of the Idaho 3 Percenters) said. 'The Second Amendment protects the First. If it was the Democrats running from Republicans, we would be just as fast to say "you're not going to intimidate them and we will protect them."'" Hey dickhead, remember Texas senators going to Oklahoma to prevent approval of a heavily gerrymandered election map? I don't seem to remember you being there.

Why is control of the courts important? "The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Republican state lawmakers and upheld laws limiting the power of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers." Because conservatives will try to rule from the bench.

"President Trump reportedly appeared to threaten a Time magazine reporter with prison time after a photographer tried to take a picture of a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Time reports." Granted that the reporter/photographer shouldn't have tried to snap the picture while the session was "off-the-record", but then Trump really needs to get over this "showing paper" thing. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Friday, June 21, 2019

Linkee-poo you got to let me know, should I stay or should I go

"A series of explosions early Friday tore through a Philadelphia gasoline refinery, the East Coast’s largest, sending shock waves for miles and raining debris on nearby neighborhoods, just as the busy summer driving season was beginning." Three-dollars-a-gallon gas later…

"'People were more likely to return a wallet when it contained a higher amount of money,' Cohn says. 'At first we almost couldn't believe it and told him to triple the amount of money in the wallet. But yet again we found the same puzzling finding.'"

"Vaping may or may not be healthier than smoking conventional cigarettes, but a recent incident involving a teenage boy, in which an exploding e-cigarette blew out several of his teeth and cracked open his jaw, is a serious cause for concern." But they're totally safe. I mean, it wasn't like he got cancer or something.

"A Russian scientist says he wants to create more genetically modified babies, flouting international objections that such a step would be premature, unethical and irresponsible… Rebrikov wants to create babies from embryos whose DNA he would edit to protect the resulting children from HIV. Rebrikov would edit a gene called CCR5 to replicate a naturally occurring variation that protects people from HIV." That's exactly what the Chinese doctor did. What was it about "no" you didn't understand?

"As NASA talks up its Artemis Program to return humans to the Moon by the year 2024, a new report from the US Government Accountability Office raises questions about the space agency's ability to build the spacecraft and rockets intended to carry out that mission." Rhut rho.

"Car makers are launching a last-second drive to challenge a proposal by California Gov. Gavin Newsom that would close a set of business tax benefits that collectively would raise about $1.4 billion a year for the state… Newsom’s plan would eliminate the car makers’ tax break by bringing California’s tax code into partial conformity with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the 2017 federal tax overhaul that President Donald Trump signed."

"The parent company of Kraftmaid Cabinetry in Middlefield and Orwell announced this week that the company is being sold." Of local interest as this could seriously disrupt the tax base of my town.

"The nation's top coal mine safety regulator told members of Congress on Thursday that existing safety regulations are sufficient to protect miners from toxic dust, despite calls for change amid an epidemic of advanced black lung disease among coal miners in Appalachia." Who needs regulation anyway? I mean, are you going to believe the guy who says everything is okay or the hundreds of miners dying from black lung?

"A Jesuit high school in Indiana can no longer call itself 'Catholic' because it employs a teacher engaged in a same-sex marriage, the Archbishop of Indianapolis says… Archbishop Charles Thompson's decree, dated June 21, means that Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis will no longer be recognized or identified as a Catholic institution within the archdiocese."

"The war crimes trial of Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher took a dramatic turn Thursday when a lead prosecution witness — another SEAL who has been granted immunity to testify — confessed that he was the actual killer of a 17-year-old ISIS prisoner." I think the knife in the kids neck had something to do with it. I can't wait for the next turn of events as the medic realizes that such an admission precludes any licensure in the civilian medical field. "The prosecution accused Scott of being untruthful and said he fabricated the new version of events because he is a friend of Gallagher's. When asked about his opinion of his former superior, Scott responded saying he likes him 'and that he didn't want him to go away for the rest of his life…'". But it's not the only war crime Gallagher has been charged with. And I think the selfie Gallagher took shows all the intent needed here.

"A legal team that recently interviewed over 60 children at a Border Patrol station in Texas says a traumatic and dangerous situation is unfolding for some 250 infants, children and teens locked up for up to 27 days without adequate food, water and sanitation." In case you haven't seen it, there's an argument online about whether we should call these places concentration camps or something else. They're concentration camps. The fit every definition of that.

"Oregon Gov. Kate Brown deployed the state police Thursday to try to round up Republican lawmakers who fled the Capitol in an attempt to block a vote on a landmark climate plan that would be the second of its kind in the nation."

"Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. surveillance drone Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz, marking the first time the Islamic Republic directly attacked the American military amid tensions over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers." More information on the where, when, and how. Just in general, most first reports are wrong. It generally takes a week or so to get the whole story.

"The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday evening issued an emergency order that bars U.S. aircraft from an overwater area of Iranian airspace amid increased U.S./Iran tensions, according to Reuters."

"President Trump confirmed that he approved a strike on Iran on Thursday after it shot down a U.S. drone but called off the operation after the initial moves were underway. Trump said he canceled the attack after being told 150 Iranians would likely be killed." When the military presents options for the president, they already have the projected casualties figures. They include them in their briefing (normally, again for this president our intelligence agencies have practically created comic books for his briefing). My guess is either the Joint Chiefs finally got through the noise in his head after the meeting, or it actually was Putin's announcement. Look, when you decide to pull the gun out, you have to have already made the choice to fire it. This is just bully tactics, taking a stomping step toward someone with your fists raised trying to intimidate them. States don't act like schoolyard bullies.

"But throughout her marathon testimony, Hicks did not answer many questions related to her time in the Trump administration. Two White House lawyers were present during the testimony and often interjected with a quick 'objection' to lawmakers' questions… In total, 155 questions went unanswered." Again, immunity from testifying is not a real thing. The president must invoke executive privilege, but he knows that's a dangerous path that could be overruled. And having a lawyer say, "objection" is something that only happens before a judge.

"Vice President Mike Pence will attend a kickoff event next Tuesday in Miami for 'Latinos for Trump,' a campaign effort to engage Latino voters ahead of the 2020 election." The president send the most white person in his administration to get Latino support.

"Trump sat for his first Spanish-language television interview with Telemundo, during which anchor José Díaz-Balart noted that there are some Latino voters who 'fear' the president's rhetoric on immigration and his threat to deport 'millions of people.'… 'They want me to do it. They’re here illegally,' Trump said… 'Mr. President, they do not,' Díaz-Balart responded… 'They do,' Trump reiterated."

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Linkee-poo, it's stopped raining everybody's in a play and don't you know it's a beautiful new day

Well, not really.

This will be over by the time this posts, but wow. "Dubbed 'Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence' by Christie's auction house, the trove includes nearly 400 diamonds, gemstones, ornaments and paintings, spanning about 500 years of Indian history from the Mughal Empire to the 20th century."

"More than 20,000 Christians have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of Good Omens, the television series adapted from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 fantasy novel – unfortunately addressing their petition to Netflix when the series is made by Amazon Prime." Which slightly proves a point, the people prompting censorship (both against Good Omens and books) don't really know much of what they're talking about.

The return of Boaty McBoatface. "Now, the findings from Boaty's first mission are out — and they shed light on how Antarctic winds that are strengthening due to climate change are impacting sea levels."

"The Himalayan mountain range, home to Mount Everest, holds tens of thousands of glaciers. The study authors looked at 650 (declassified spy satellite images), across a 1,240-mile swath. They found that, on average, the Himalayan glaciers lost 10 inches of ice per year from 1975 to 2000. As average global temperatures increased, the average loss rate doubled to a loss of 20 inches of ice per year from 2000 to 2016." We're boned.

"The number of gray whales washing up dead on West Coast beaches keeps rising. Nearly all of the whales show signs of malnourishment. Now this has led local authorities to make an unusual request to people who own waterfront property." They weren't able to fatten up enough.

"The rate of U.S. adolescents and young adults dying of suicide has reached its highest level in nearly two decades, according a report published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association." And just from an anecdotal side, so has cutting. "If you or someone you know has talked about contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

"In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill last week that, if federal authorities give it their go-ahead — still a very big if — would allow his state to import prescription drugs from Canada. That makes Florida the third state to pass such a law, joining Vermont and Colorado. More such legislative attempts are in the works." If. Or, ya know, we could just let the federal government negotiate drug pricing for Medicare (including Part D) and Medicaid. Or free travel for drugs from Canadian Pharmacies (and wouldn't CVS just love that).

"The study, which looked at interactions between surgeons and their teams, found that patients of surgeons who behaved unprofessionally around their colleagues tended to have more complications after surgery. Surgeons who model unprofessional behavior can undermine the performance of their teams, the authors write, potentially threatening patients' safety." Hey, I got a better idea. They ain't as gifted as they think they are. Yes, abusive doctors (and from personal experience they may have fantastic bedside manners but are atrocious once the patient is under sedation) can cause a team (and surgery is a team effort) to check out. One surgeon I work with I've come to realize this behavior is more of a performance to him, like it's his mental picture of a top surgeon is one who cusses and is misogynistic and so he acts that way (it's still as annoying as fuck). Some doctors act that way until you stand up to them (I work with a few of these). Some doctors reserve it for their residents. And some residents are the worst because they haven't figured out how to work well with others. They also run with scissors.

Let the grifting begin. "Rick Santorum… is getting into cryptocurrency. He’s an adviser on the board of a new company called Cathio, which says it 'provides Catholic organizations with a payments platform that aligns with Catholic values, provides the tools necessary to increase donations and connect with both local and global Catholic communities.' Santorum’s son-in-law is Cathio’s CEO." When the hucksters get into the game setting up Big Stores, you know it's about to become a mature technology. So you have Ricky in a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme, and Boehner pushing pot, and Fox News pundits pushing gold, the true nature of conservatism just becomes apparent. (Grokked from John)

If you prick us, do we not bleed? "In a bid to make robots more lifelike, scientists have created a soft robotic lionfish and have pumped it full of life-giving 'blood.'" The "blood" is an electrolyte hydraulic fluid that acts as both battery and mechanical actuator.

"Trudeau, an ardent supporter of green energy, has found himself defending the 620-mile Trans Mountain pipeline expansion since his government first approved it in 2016. The project is meant to bring petroleum from oil sands near Edmonton, Alberta, to tanks in Burnaby near Vancouver on Canada's Pacific Coast… Trudeau said the pipeline would deliver oil to the Pacific Coast for shipment to Asia, reducing Canada's dependency on selling its petroleum to the United States." Money makes whores of us all.

"One question is -- or should be -- central to any assessment of the state of America: Why, more than a century and a half after slavery ended, does the typical black family remain so much poorer than the typical white family?… A new study on housing in Chicago illustrates a big part of the answer: Generation after generation, the U.S. system of real-estate finance has enriched whites at the expense of blacks." And that's just the "contract-for-deed" part. The article doesn't talk about black communities who started to outshine their white neighbors would be razed to the ground by bands of those white neighbors, the original race riots. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

The On the Media podcast series about The Scarlet E (eviction)." In regards to the Bloomberg article about the redlining in Chicago and the "contract-for-deed" pillaging of black wealth, I recommend Episode 2: "40 Acres".

"In a blow to the Trump administration, a federal trial judge said Wednesday that he believes new evidence presented in a challenge to the 2020 census citizenship question 'raises a substantial issue.'… The decision could lead to reopening one of three federal trials into the citizenship question and lead to further examinations of Republican redistricting consultant Thomas Hofeller's role in developing the question." That's great, except SCOTUS only has a week and a half to put out their final decisions.

"Controversial new (abortion restriction) laws in six states were copied from special-interest group's ideas and 'model legislation.' More than 400 other abortion-related bills were, too, according to our analysis of copycat lawmaking nationwide." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

How go the Trade Wars? "Just in case you weren’t there yet, President Trump’s recent threats to impose tariffs on Mexican imports into the US confirm that his trade policy is erratic, chaotic, and reckless."

"Iranian forces have shot down a United States military drone today, a move that could escalate an already tense relationship between the two countries." While this is being portrayed as an escalation or proof that Iran won't be intimidated, it isn't any of that. This is a message being sent. It says, "We can see what you're doing and we have the technical knowhow to stop you." The drone is said to be a MQ-4C Triton, which is a big daddy, Navy version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk (which NPR is still stating it was). These drones fly high and while not small, don't present much of a target. Iran is sending us the message, "We can shoot down your latest aircraft." Drones fly slower than most military aircraft and aren't as good in avoidance or have as many countermeasures, but in this case the altitude would be the technological leap. Iran has the missiles and radar to make an air campaign difficult. In Afghanistan and Iraq we owned the skies.

"'Iran has probably arrived at the conclusion that it has less to lose from acting this way (stacking shipping in the Strait of Hormuz) than from doing nothing,' Aniseh Tabrizi, a research fellow and Iran expert at London’s Royal United Services Institute, told CNBC via phone Tuesday." That's only the case if you look at the issue from a US centric worldview. Iran has a lot to lose as it tries to pressure EU and Asian countries to support its bid to get the US back to the nuclear deal they had before Trump. Attacking international shipping erodes their influence there.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Linkee-poo Expecto Patronum

(NPR) want(s) to hear about your favorite summertime memories in just three lines, haiku style…"

The next Pokemon Go is Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (video link). which will be released this Friday. I doubt my phone will be able to run it. The tech looks like a step forward in the AR gaming experience, and the game appears to be deeper and more "game like" than Pokemon. I hope they have all the bugs worked out, because I see a lot of people being frustrated with the game play, and if the game itself has problems, then it won't really take off too well.

"Whale watching is generally regarded as innocent fun. Unlike an aquarium park, whale watching boats take you to see majestic animals that remain free in their natural habitat… But when it comes to marine mammals that are already struggling to survive, are the boat-based watching tours really harmless?" Loved to death. Also there's more than sightseeing tours and the decline of chinook salmon that are pressuring the resident whales.

Dog sledding on water. "Rapid melt and sea ice with low permeability and few cracks leaves the melt water on top." We're boned.

Welcome to the fucking future. "Yesterday on Twitter, Samsung's US support team reminded everyone to regularly—and manually—virus-scan their televisions." (Grokked from John)

"Texas is now among more than a dozen states that have cracked down on the practice of surprise medical billing… Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed legislation Friday shielding patients from getting a huge bill when their insurance company and medical provider can't agree on payment." Wut?! But it won't go into effect until September of 2020.

"A pharmacy warned the Food and Drug Administration that it found a chemical believed to cause cancer in a widely used blood pressure medication, according to a filing from the federal agency."

"American authorities seized 16.5 tonnes of cocaine worth more than $1bn from a ship in Philadelphia in one of the largest drug seizures in US history, the US Justice Department said on Tuesday." What we really need to do is start-up a Fair Trade coop for cocaine, like coffee (it's a joke).

Truth in game reporting? "An anonymous fan edited out shots, scenes and characters in a 'defeminized' version (of Marvel End Game) circulating now on an illegal streaming site." I can't imagine being so terrified of things like women being strong and capable or men showing emotions. What snowflakes these idiots are.

"One of the U.S. military’s largest private-industry landlords falsified maintenance records, Reuters found, helping it secure incentive fees as families awaited repairs. The company’s actions, a former employee said, were akin to 'bank robbery at a corporate level.'" Repeat after me, privatization of essential services never saves money, never improves service, is only corporate welfare.

"The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million globally last year - the highest number in the UN refugee agency's almost 70 years of operations." It's almost like there's a worldwide migration happening.

Mitt Romney believes there should be some sort of reporting mechanism in case a campaign is approached by a foreign power. It's called the fucking FBI, Mitt. Call the FBI. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"'I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea,' McConnell said. 'We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We elected an African American president.'" Oh, well, at least that settles it then. (looks at Cleveland's housing map and notices that it still pretty well conforms to the old Red Line map) Hey Mitchel, remember when you posed in front of a confederate battle flag and shook the hand of a well known racist. You were grinning ear to ear you weasel. (Grokked from Chip Dawes)

"Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son was killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has been battling against conspiracy theorists for years, and on Tuesday he scored a victory against deniers who claim that the shooting that left 20 first-graders dead never happened." Small steps.

"Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of a 'deliberate, premeditated execution,' a United Nations special rapporteur has concluded in the first independent investigation into his death." You're shocked, I can tell.

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blocked the inclusion of Saudi Arabia on a U.S. list of countries that recruit child soldiers, dismissing his experts’ findings that a Saudi-led coalition has been using under-age fighters in Yemen’s civil war, according to four people familiar with the matter." But we're going to put Sudan back on the list. Sudan which is aiding the Saudi coalition in prosecuting the war in Yemen. "The State Department said at the time that while the use of child soldiers was 'abhorrent,' it was still in 'technical compliance with the law.'" Well good, otherwise we wouldn't be able to sell them all that military equipment the president keeps talking about. (Grokked from Chip Dawes)

How goes Brexit? "However, Boris Johnson - who has pledged to take the UK out of the European Union on October 31 without a withdrawal deal - came under pressure in the BBC discussion over tax-cut pledges and comments that have earned him a reputation as reckless."

How go the Trade Wars? "In a little known fact, Beijing has over the past year lowered duties on goods from countries that compete with America, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics… Such a move by China has placed American firms at a 'considerable cost disadvantage,' said PIIE researchers, who include notable trade expert Chad P. Bown."

"(Cancer researcher Xifeng Wu's) resignation, and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese American scientists from Houston-based MD Anderson, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at U.S. research institutions. The aim is to stanch China’s well-documented and costly theft of U.S. innovation and know-how. The collateral effect, however, is to stymie basic science, the foundational research that underlies new medical treatments. Everything is commodified in the economic cold war with China, including the struggle to find a cure for cancer." The collateral damage is spreading.

"President Trump says he and Chinese President Xi Jinping 'will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan.'" When you can't get the big wins, lower the bar to ground level and get praise for walking over it. No so sure about this "art" of the deal thing. Also the president still doesn't know how tariffs work.

"'We'd love to make shoes in the United States,' Steve Madden CEO Ed Rosenfeld told NPR. 'It's very hard to envision a scenario where we'd make the types of products that we make, at the prices that we make them, in the United States.'" He left unsaid, "and pay our executives at the same level they are now."

"President Donald Trump, asked if he still wants to demote Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, told reporters Tuesday, 'Let’s see what he does.' Trump’s remarks came a day before the Fed was set to announce its next decision on interest rates."

"Stocks were little changed on Wednesday, putting the breaks on a month-long rally, as investors waited for the Federal Reserve’s latest decision on monetary policy."

"Ronald Reagan's former budget director, David Stockman, calls Art Laffer 'the greatest Fake Economist to ever come down the pike.'… Laffer helped popularize the notion that tax cuts pay for themselves through faster economic growth… It almost never works out in practice. But Laffer and his namesake curve remain darlings of Republican politicians… On Wednesday, Laffer will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation's highest civilian honor — from President Trump." This is the person who is almost totally responsible for the deficit and debt being so high. It's his philosophy that has driven conservative economic wet-dreams since Reagan and most dramatically in Kansas. But conservatives think if they just clap hard enough, it'll eventually prove true.

The hollowed out government is reflected in the president's cabinet. "Instead, Trump has a Cabinet by default, with many of its members simply being the last person standing after others pulled out of the running, declined the president’s offers or couldn’t get through their confirmation hearings." With most administrations there are people who are willing to air their dirty laundry just for the chance of serving. Not with this administration, and there's been a fuck-ton of dirty laundry exposed anyway.

"The Trump administration announced Monday it is sending an additional 1,000 American troops to the Middle East after it accused Iran of orchestrating attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. The Defense Department said the troops would be deployed for 'defensive purposes' and, NPR reports, would primarily consist of intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance, or ISR, as well as force protection and engineers. The increase in troop levels is part of a more general, though still modest buildup that began last month after another series of attacks on ships in the region that the U.S. similarly suspects is Iran’s doing." So. Much. Winning.

"The Trump administration and its domestic political allies are laying the groundwork for a possible confrontation with Iran without the explicit consent of Congress — a public relations campaign that was already well underway before top officials accused the Islamic Republic of attacking a pair of oil tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman." It's time to end the authorization for use of military force of 2001.

The War Whisperers. On the Media Podcast with "Heshmat Alavi, an Iranian commentator, has been portrayed as a courageous dissident with a broad constituency and rare insight into the inner workings of the Iranian theocracy. His columns have been printed in Forbes, The Diplomat, The Federalist, Voice of America, The Daily Caller and The Hill. And his analysis, such as his assertion that Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran pumped money into the mullah's military budget, has been cited by the White House to justify leaving the agreement. But what if...he doesn't actually exist?" Heshmat Alavi is the Ahmed Chalabi of the Trump administration. Also, the MEK shows up again. It's an organization that John Bolton has a long history with, including meeting with and making paid speeches in front of before GW Bush went to war in Iraq.

"The White House is arguing that former aide Hope Hicks is 'absolutely immune' from being compelled by Congress to testify about her time working in the Trump administration, in an effort to limit her closed-door interview Wednesday." Yeah, that's not an actual thing.

"To a packed Orlando arena Tuesday night, Trump referenced Hillary Clinton more than his potential 2020 opponents. He ripped into the polls, the 'witch hunt,' the 'hoax,' the 'phony dossier,' and the Democrats who don’t want to move on from the Mueller report. He listed his claim of accomplishments on jobs, conservative judges and military spending that he said are overlooked by the media." Well, here's one thing I agree with. The media really hasn't been showing just what assholes Trump and McConnell have been putting into lifetime judgeships.

"Yet in a very real sense, Trump has been campaigning for reelection since the very first day his entered the Oval Office and filed his reelection papers. This has allowed his campaign to quietly amass huge sums of money that his team has already been spending, particularly on social media… Moreover, the president never stopped holding rallies such as the one in Orlando, specifically designed to rally his most loyal supporters and boost his ego. Reuters pointed out Tuesday’s event was Trump’s 60th political rally since taking office." One trick pony is gonna work that one trick.