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

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday

Milton Glaser and Carl Reiner, and so it goes.

"An unstable massive star has suddenly vanished from view, and astronomers aren't sure if it collapsed into a black hole or is playing peek-a-boo behind galactic dust."

"On the night of July 4, the full moon will pass through part of Earth’s shadow, creating a lunar eclipse that will be visible across North America and South America. This will be the first lunar eclipse visible from this part of the world since 2019. People in some places in Africa and western Europe will also be able to see part of the eclipse." It's just a penumbral eclipse, but they're still pretty cool.

"Flying snakes like Chrysopelea paradisi, the paradise tree snake, normally live in the trees of South and Southeast Asia. There, they cruise along tree branches and, sometimes, to get to the ground or another tree, they'll launch themselves into the air and glide down at an angle." They don't so much fly as fall gracefully and glide.

"Back in March, the Food and Drug Administration took the unprecedented step of allowing COVID antibody tests to flood the market without review. The tests were billed as a critical tool to assess where the virus had spread and who might have immunity… Over the course of a three-month investigation, 60 Minutes has learned that federal officials knew many of the antibody tests were seriously flawed but continued to allow them to be sold anyway." Whispers, all the tests are crap. If any of the testing we have (both RNA and antibody) comes above the minimum of 75% accuracy for both the test kit and how it's administered, I will be shocked.

"At least 16 states have paused or rolled back their reopening plans in response to a surge in new coronavirus infections, but some health officials say the spread of the virus will still be difficult to control." We're still in the first wave of infections.

"The coronavirus is spreading too rapidly and too broadly for the U.S. to get it under control as some other countries have, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday." Who had "throw in the towel" on their 2020 Bingo Card?

(Theme to Jaws) "Summer has just begun, but health officials are already warning Americans that the fall and winter months ahead will likely be challenging. Once flu season begins, the U.S. will have to worry about not one, but two contagious viruses."

"WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the virus would infect many more people if governments did not start to implement the right policies." Anybody think that will happen, especially here in the US?

On the expense of just trying to get a COVID-19" test. Note, she never did get tested. Single-payer.

"Travelers from a list of 15 nations will be allowed entry to the European Union starting Wednesday, but the United States is not on the list."

And there out on the horizon… "A new strain of flu that has the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in China by scientists… It emerged recently and is carried by pigs, but can infect humans, they say… The researchers are concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak." In truth there is usually one or more viruses like this.

"China's new national security legislation for Hong Kong was written and passed behind closed doors, without the consultation of the city's local government or legislature. It reportedly came into force on June 30, potentially rewriting the city's legal system -- despite the fact the overwhelming majority of residents have no idea of what precisely it will entail."

"… GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee have skipped all but one of the panel's proceedings, public and private, since before Congress went into its coronavirus-lockdown in early March. And that impasse shows no signs of ending, even as the panel takes up issues like China, Covid-19 and the annual intelligence policy bill." They've taken their little red ball and gone home. But then, they really never wanted to govern anyway. and I doubt they're really concerned about security and more worried that there will be a video record of the meetings instead of just note takers.

"In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America's principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials -- including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff -- that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations." This is my shocked face.

"But a US official familiar with the latest information told CNN on Monday that intelligence about the Russian bounty was included in the President's Daily Briefing (PDB) sometime in the spring. The written document includes the intelligence communities' most important and urgent information. On Monday night, the New York Times reported that the information was included in a written briefing to the President in late February." We all know the president does not read the daily briefing. But that is no excuse for him.

"President Donald Trump's White House can never, ever, get its story straight on Russia."

"Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden told potential donors to his campaign that his administration would end most of President Donald Trump’s multitrillion-dollar tax cuts – even though 'a lot of you may not like that.'… Biden’s warning to his backers came as the candidate laid out an ambitious suite of policy goals during a virtual campaign fundraiser on Monday." Taxes are going to have to go up. But you know what, those rich people have an awful lot of money, so that's where we should look first. Expect the GOP to start the argument with, "We all have to share the burden" (with a consumption tax, or raising all tax brackets the same percentage). Nope, the rich made out with every tax cut since Reagan. They can handle the vast majority of the increase.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday

"Locus Magazine has announced the winners of the 2020 Locus Awards during its virtual Locus Awards Weekend. The event took place on June 27th, 2020, with Connie Willis acting as MC for the evening."

"Texas Medical Center hospitals have stopped reporting key metrics… The change came one day after the hospitals reported their base intensive care capacity had hit 100 percent for the first time during the pandemic, with projections… on pace to exceed their 'unsustainable surge capacity' by July 6." I'm sure they have done the same thing my hospital has, repurposing several non-ICU beds as ICU-surge beds.

"Even if someone is infected by the novel coronavirus and remains asymptomatic — free of coughing, fever, fatigue and other common signs of infection, that doesn't mean the coronavirus isn't taking a toll. The virus can still be causing mild — although likely reversible — harm to their lungs."

"Coronavirus patients are showing up in emergency rooms after calling 911 from the US-Mexico border… 'They'll literally come to the border and call an ambulance,' says Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health, a hospital system in southern California." To be clear, these are mostly US citizens who live in Mexico.

"Its single-day totals, which exceeded 8,500 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, were higher than those reported by almost every other U.S. state since the start of the virus pandemic. Only New York, once the epicenter of the nation's outbreak, has confirmed more than 8,500 cases on a single day. During the peak of New York's virus curve, the state reported more than 8,500 positive tests on at least 12 separate days. Health officials confirmed New York's highest single-day jump in cases on April 4, with more than 12,200 diagnoses."

"The spread of coronavirus infections has taken a 'swift and very dangerous turn' in the US state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has warned… Several southern and western states have recorded a surge in cases after lockdown restrictions were eased." That should be a "record surge".

"Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation's leading experts on infectious diseases, warned Sunday that it's "unlikely" the U.S. will achieve herd immunity to the coronavirus if a portion of the population refuses to get a coronavirus vaccine."

"The Mississippi state legislature voted on Sunday to replace its state flag, the last in the nation to display the Confederate battle emblem. The removal of the flag marks the latest Confederate symbol to topple in the weeks following George Floyd's death as activists have called for a reexamination of the racism that exists in all corners of society… The bill passed by a vote of 91-23 in the House and 37-14 in the Senate."

"President Donald Trump promoted a video on Twitter Sunday morning showing a man in a golf cart with Trump campaign gear shouting 'white power.'… The tweet was removed from his feed hours later." Funny how the president keeps retweeting racists.

"Donald Trump courted controversy on Monday – and perhaps sought to deflect attention from reports about Russia placing bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan – by retweeting news footage of a white couple in St Louis, Missouri who pointed guns at protesters marching for police reform." It's called "menacing" and it's a felony crime even if people are on your property (they weren't).

"2 Brook Park, Ohio Little Caesars workers fired after putting swastika sign on couple’s pizza." And they didn't even do it correctly.

"Authorities in Louisville, Ky., have identified the victim in a fatal Saturday night shooting in a park where demonstrators gathered to protest the police killing of Breonna Taylor… Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Sunday that 27-year-old Tyler Gerth died shortly after a shooter opened fire into a group of protesters in Jefferson Square Park."

"A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday stood by its most recent abortion precedent. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's four liberals, citing the Supreme Court's adherence to precedent, to invalidate a Louisiana law that required doctors at clinics that perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital."

"The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the president can fire at will the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but left intact the rest of the statute that created the agency. Congress created the independent agency in 2010 to protect consumers from abuses in the banking and financial services industry that led to the 2008 financial meltdown." Legislating from the bench.

How goes Brexit? "Britain’s most senior civil servant, Mark Sedwill, told Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday he would stand down as cabinet secretary and national security adviser."

"Facebook shares lost more than $55 billion in value Friday after brand giant Unilever said it would pause ad spending on the platform for the rest of the year, and the losses look to continue as more than 150 companies join an effort to contain hate speech and misinformation on social media."

"The Israeli government faces calls from campaigners to declare sovereignty over ancient Jewish ruins on land in the occupied West Bank that Israel does not plan to annex under U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace blueprint." More more more.

"President Trump said late Sunday that he was not told of intelligence that a Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan, including U.S. troops, because U.S. intelligence officials did not find it credible." Sure, sure.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Linkee-poo Weekend

John Scalzi has a fairly decent take on the current "fuck up" moments in SF/F. And it's time to be clear, I have also fucked up in the past (and probably do still in some ways). Some of that behavior I've recognized and I have tried to change, some of it I may be blind to. I still sometimes affect accents not my own or use an effeminate or overly-masculine voice for "the joke." In my defense the jokes are usually self-deprecating, self-referential, or intended to stab at cultural perceptions of the white-straight-male worldview (my effeminate voice usually comes out when what I'm doing or saying would not be perceived as masculine by the manly-man set, and is meant as a "fuck you" to that group of manly-men and that a human being has both qualities in them, but I recognize that others may not see that aspect of it). I know these are not cool, I've tried to root it out, but I still catch myself usually about half-a-minute too late. And my worse sin is not recognizing when others have made what I consider a safe-place not a safe-place for some of my friends and as such I haven't done enough to rectify those situations. I haven't always recognized predators even though I know the signs and should have seen some of them. These are parts of myself that I'm still working on. If I have wronged you (and you're not a troll or the like), if you feel safe to do so, please let me know this and what I did so that I can change those behaviors.

"NASA has released a time-lapse video of the sun that shows 10 years' worth of activity at the corona in just one hour. The video was created from a selection of some of the 425 million high-resolution images that have been taken of the sun over the last decade." In case you're into such a thing.

"NASA announced Wednesday that the agency’s D.C. headquarters will be named after Mary W. Jackson, its first African American female engineer."

Get out those pencils. "NASA wants you to help put the loo in lunar, so it's offering $35,000 in prizes to design a toilet that can be used on the moon… The space agency has set an ambitious goal of sending astronauts back to the moon by 2024 and the crew will obviously have to go to the bathroom during the mission."

"The US Food and Drug Administration had been warning customers not to eat certain store brand garden salad mixes sold by ALDI, HY-Vee, and Jewel-Osco. The government investigation found that the mix, which is produced by Fresh Express, was also sold at Walmart stores. The mixes are under different brand names at the different stores."

"On Friday, the U.S. reported 45,255 new cases, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University. It's the second day of record high increases. Thursday saw 39,972 new cases."

"Bars in Texas were ordered to shut and restaurants will face renewed restrictions as Governor Greg Abbott scales back the economic reopening amid a burst of new Covid-19 cases." A second round of closures begin, we'll see how well people obey this time.

Yet, at the White House yesterday, "… Vice President Mike Pence told Americans that things were going well… And Pence claimed that 'to one extent or another, the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country' -- yet many states are seeing rising percentages of positive tests, which are indicative of genuinely rising levels of infection in the community." Wow, that spin will give you whiplash.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has quietly added three new coronavirus symptoms to its ongoing list… According to the CDC’s website, the following symptoms were added on May 13… Congestion or runny nose… Nausea… Diarrhea." Wouldn't be too bad if the CDC hadn't been telling us those were NOT symptoms of COVID-19 for the past 4 months.

"In addition to respiratory distress, patients with COVID-19 can experience blood clotting disorders that can lead to strokes, and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems. The virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headache, dizziness and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion… And recovery can be slow, incomplete and costly, with a huge impact on quality of life." Not really strange given the newness of the virus. The virus will change us (in terms of generational timescales).

"European Union envoys are close to finalizing a list of countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter Europe again, possibly from late next week, EU diplomats confirmed Saturday. Americans are almost certain to be excluded in the short term due to the number of U.S. coronavirus cases."

"We feel it to be our solemn duty to make a statement about recent events before all our peer institutions beat us to the punch. In this time of division, we flailed through the Provost’s book of inspirational, unifying quotes and landed on the aphorism, “Change begins at home.” As we reflect on our own campus home, we definitively state our intent to stand against hate, prejudice, and other harmful nouns, as well as to fight racism where it lives: elsewhere." Oh, McSweeneys, dont ever change.

"Last August, police officers in Aurora, Colorado, approached 23-year-old Elijah McClain as he walked home from a convenience store. The Aurora Police Department later said that a 911 caller had reported a 'suspicious person' in a ski mask, and that when officers confronted McClain — who was not armed and had not committed any kind of crime — he 'resisted arrest.' In the 15 minutes that followed, the officers tackled McClain to the ground, put him in a carotid hold, and called first responders, who injected him with ketamine. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital, and died days later, after he was declared brain dead."

"Mississippi is the last state in the country whose flag features the Confederate emblem. And there may be enough lawmakers who want to remove the battle emblem in the state legislature to make the change, a senior state lawmaker told CNN on Friday."

"President Donald Trump said on Twitter Friday that he has signed an executive order on protecting monuments, an action the President had been teasing for the past week… In essence, the order directs the attorney general to enforce the already-existing law."

"Three people are believed to have been stabbed to death in a hotel stairwell in Glasgow city centre… Armed police shot the suspect, who is also understood to have died."

How goes Brexit? "Britain will be ready to quit its transitional arrangements with the European Union 'on Australia terms' if no deal on their future relationship is reached, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki on Saturday."

The retail apocalypse continues unabated. "Well-known stores and mall staples announced they were closing thousands of locations in June as shoppers shift their behavior and the pandemic continues to cripple companies' bottom lines."

"Ford Motor is bringing a new level of technology to its 2021 F-150 pickup to attract new buyers while also trying to please its loyal customers with new features tailored to them." Ooo, they're catching to to where they should have been (checks watch) 5 years ago.

"The GOP has been fighting to eviscerate Obamacare since it was passed a decade ago. But the effort to strip Americans of health care has never appeared more out of touch and tone deaf than it has during a pandemic, when more than 125,000 Americans have died, more than 2.4 million have been infected and many have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance in the waves of layoffs that have decimated the economy."

"President Donald Trump's White House is rolling out a new "skills-based hiring" initiative for the federal government — but it faced instant backlash by making the president's older daughter the new policy's figurehead." Seriously?

"The Trump administration doesn't have the authority to divert Pentagon funds to construct additional barriers on the US-Mexico border, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, days after President Donald Trump's visit to a section of the wall in Arizona… In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said that the transfer of $2.5 billion circumvented Congress, which holds the authority to appropriate money."

"American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter." No no no. That's not how you do it, my Russian friends. You have to pay by the ear or the scalp.

"Attorney General William Barr on Thursday raised concerns that expanding mail-in voting could lead to widespread fraud — but admitted he had no evidence to support his claims." Because there is none. They're just afraid that after working hard to suppress the number of voters, if everyone could vote by mail then conservatives would loose badly. Basically these people don't know how voting actually works, and they're betting you don't either.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday

Jason Sandford wraps up several of the ongoing revelations (harassment) and happenings in the SF/F world that have been roiling in the social media. There are several times I left a conversation/meeting wondering if how I was acting, or a joke I said, was within bounds. And I worry about it. And then I read the actions of these guys and think, "At least I didn't do THAT."

"Dust lofted into the air by a few dust storms across Africa has made the 5,000-mile journey across the Atlantic, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and now on Thursday into the United States."

"'The Big Bang Theory' actor Mayim Bialik is teaming with DC Entertainment on a project that joins superhero power to the power of science." Unfortunately you have to get to the last sentence before they actually say that Ms. Bialik is a neuroscientist. And while they don't say it in the article, it's actually Dr. Bialik.

"Three research institutions in Seattle have joined forces to study how Alzheimer's disease takes root in the brain… The consortium will create a new research center at the Allen Institute for Brain Science to study tissue from brains donated by people who died with Alzheimer's."

"The studies were published this month on the preprint server bioRxiv, and have not yet been peer-reviewed. But taken together, they give scientists a good look at what some say is an underappreciated risk of CRISPR–Cas9 editing. Previous experiments have revealed that the tool can make ‘off target’ gene mutations far from the target site, but the nearby changes identified in the latest studies can be missed by standard assessment methods." Yes, when you hear about how "precise" our DNA editing tools are, understand this is a qualitative statement comparing previous methods with the new.

"With numbers spiking across Southern states, the United States set a daily record for new COVID-19 cases Thursday in a return to figures not seen since late April."

Today in Capt. Obvious revelations… "With infection numbers rising in more than 30 states, the US set a daily record for new coronavirus cases. And federal health officials warned that the number of people who've been infected is vastly undercounted."

"Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Friday that he will roll back some of the state’s reopening as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise." Closing the barn doors after all the horses have gotten out.

"The NFL has canceled the Hall of Fame game that traditionally opens the preseason and is delaying the 2020 induction ceremonies for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic." As someone who went to high school in Canton and marched in 4 HoF parades (in a wool uniform, this was before lighter uniforms because acceptable), let me say holy shit.

"Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a Thursday television interview he would require wearing face masks in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus… Asked by Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA what he would do to help halt the surge in coronavirus cases, Biden said he would 'go back to making sure that everyone had masks.'"

Hello fellow kids. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering tapping social media platform TikTok to encourage more young Americans to practice public health precautions as coronavirus cases surge among younger people, officials said Thursday." Gots ta reach the youth so we're going to the Tik-Tok.

"Spikes in coronavirus cases abroad should act as a warning to Britons who flout social distancing rules, Boris Johnson has said… The PM said crowded scenes on Bournemouth beach on Thursday suggested people needed to understand that too much mingling could set the UK back."

"In a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court, the Trump administration has reaffirmed its position that the Affordable Care Act in its entirety is illegal because Congress eliminated the individual tax penalty for failing to purchase medical insurance." Yes, they are still trying to take your healthcare protections away. No, they don't have a replacement.

"Short-term health plans routinely refuse to pay the costs of treating beneficiaries, but have seen a surge in enrollment as a result of Trump administration policies, according to a new report released Thursday from House Democrats." Next up, water is wet.

"The outcry has reverberated for weeks online and at demonstrations nationwide: Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor."

"Police in America’s biggest cities are failing to meet even the most basic international human rights standards governing the use of lethal force, a new study from the University of Chicago has found… Researchers in the university’s law school put the lethal use-of-force policies of police in the 20 largest US cities under the microscope. They found not a single police department was operating under guidelines that are compliant with the minimum standards laid out under international human rights laws."

"City Hall officials announced Wednesday that the 'Black Lives Matter' rallying cry would be painted in bold letters on the street in front of the president's midtown skyscraper." Unfortunately Trump has already declared he's moving to Florida.

"Declaring 'the noose was real,' NASCAR officials on Thursday released a photo of the rope found in the garage stall of Black driver Bubba Wallace that prompted a federal investigation that determined it had been there since last October."

"The Federal Reserve and four other regulatory agencies announced on Thursday that they have finalized a rule that will ease restrictions curtailing the ability of banks to make investments in such areas as hedge funds." 2008 was more than a decade ago. We can't be expected to remember that far back.

"For those managing to hang onto a job right now, there are threads of hope as financial services giant Fidelity points out that employers look largely dedicated to those vital 401(k) matches. A survey of 302 attendees representing companies whose plans are managed by Fidelity found that 82% aren’t considering any match reduction or suspension to plans. Fidelity manages 29% of the nation’s 401(k) or 403b plans." Yeah, the hospital has rolled back matching for "the foreseeable future."

"U.S. consumer spending rebounded by the most on record in May, but the gains are not likely to be sustainable, with income dropping and expected to decline further as millions lose their unemployment checks starting next month."

"Kosovan President Hashim Thaci has been indicted for war crimes allegedly committed during the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s, leading him to cancel a planned trip to the White House this weekend for talks with Serbian leaders."

"The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation on Thursday to expand the authority of the Justice Department inspector general over opposition from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and the Department of Justice (DOJ)… The committee voted 21-1 on the legislation, which would give the DOJ watchdog the authority to investigate attorneys within the department. Graham was the only senator to vote against the measure."

"The Trump administration on Thursday moved forward with a policy ordering public schools across the U.S. to share coronavirus relief funding with private schools at a higher rate than federal law typically requires." Because why wouldn't they.

"Noting that Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN, is an 'international negotiator,' Colbert said: 'How could you be naive? You've dealt with the worst people in the world.'… 'You've really insulted me now by calling me naive,' Bolton said." Because John Bolton is historically very bad at everything he does. He thought he could use Trump. But Bolton is not very good at getting things done. All he has is his hate.

"The incident is far from the only time the Trump campaign’s outreach and White House’s policies have clashed. Trump has advanced policies, gone off script in interviews or lashed out on Twitter in ways that contradict his own campaign’s attempts to slice into the Democrats’ advantages with African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics." And this is apparently surprising. The problem isn't "coordination", the problem is the president.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday

"Gravitational wave detectors have spotted a cosmic collision in which a giant black hole swallowed up a mystery object seemingly too heavy to be a neutron star, but too light to be a black hole. Weighing in at 2.6 times the mass of the Sun, the object falls into a hypothetical 'mass gap,' a desert between the heaviest neutron star and the lightest black hole that some theories predict—suggesting the gap doesn’t exist and that those theories need to be amended."

"The launch of NASA's next Mars rover has been delayed to no earlier than July 22 due to a contamination issue with ground support equipment, the space agency said today (June 24)."

"The three most populous states set records for new coronavirus cases daily and there are fears of 'apocalyptic' surges in major Texas cities if the trend continues." Checks watch, yep, right on time.

"As the number of new coronavirus cases surges each day in many parts of the country, some states are hitting pause on their plans to reopen." Waits for the blowback.

"In the wake of the massive turnout at anti-racism demonstrations around the country, public health officials are encouraging protesters to get tested for the coronavirus. As purely precautionary testing has become more common, some insurance companies are arguing they can't just pay for everyone who's concerned about their risk to get tested."

"The federal government is ending its support for 13 drive-thru coronavirus testing sites on June 30, urging states to take over their operations — even as cases spike in several parts of the country."

"The state of New York announced Wednesday it will begin requiring travelers from eight states where the number of coronavirus cases is surging to quarantine for 14 days. The new measure singles out visitors and New York residents arriving from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut are suggesting a quarantine for people who are arriving from the hard-hit states, but acknowledged they do not have an enforcement mechanism to compel compliance. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a failure to quarantine is punishable by fines that could run into the thousands of dollars."

"As the U.S. begins to open back up, coronavirus clusters — where multiple people contract COVID-19 at the same event or location — are popping up all over the country. And despite drawing massive crowds, protests against police violence and racial injustice in Washington state weren't among those clusters."

"Disneyland will not reopen as scheduled on July 17, Disney announced Wednesday, citing a lack of guidance from California officials. The announcement comes as the company moves forward with plans to reopen the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida — despite local concern that it could exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus."

"The de facto leader of the autonomous protest zone in Seattle said Wednesday 'a lot of people have already' left the area, days after the mayor said she was going to persuade people to leave."

Okay, it's the NY Post, but… "The three cops at the center of the NYPD milkshake 'poisoning' scandal never even got sick, and there wasn’t the slightest whiff of criminality from the get-go — but that didn’t stop gung-ho brass from rolling out the crime scene tape and unions from dishing out empty conspiracy theories, The Post has learned." How the union created the scandal to perpetuate their "cops under fire" narrative.

"The Columbus Police Department responded late Monday night to the incident, saying the protester with prosthetic legs had just moments earlier thrown large plywood signs at officers. Sgt. James Fuqua defended the response of his officers to The Columbus Dispatch: 'It blew up into this thing with little or no context. We're just getting annihilated publicly because they really think what they saw actually happened.'" They say they didn't know he had prosthetic legs, but then took them from him and left him on the ground. Sgt Fuqua (seriously, that name) should have all his reports scrutinized for fabrications.

"The police hadn’t done anything wrong, Baker said. I don’t know what your wife saw, he explained, but a police car did not hit a kid… As his statement put it: 'One unknown male fled the scene and ran across the hood of a stationary police car.'"

"30 years ago, Romania deprived thousands of babies of human contact… Here’s what’s become of them." It's a long read mostly following one boy. "He’s working with a screenwriter on a miniseries about his life, believing that if people could be made to understand what it’s like to live behind fences, inside cages, they’d stop putting children there. He’s keenly aware that up to 8 million children around the world are institutionalized, including those at America’s southern border."

"The economy, which contracted 5% in the January-March quarter, is widely expected to shrink at a roughly 30% annual rate in the current April-June quarter. That would be the worst quarterly contraction, by far, since record-keeping began in 1948." Ouch.

"First-time claims for unemployment benefits have fallen in every report for the past 12 weeks. Still, the American jobs crisis is far from over: Another 1.5 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week." I'm old enough to remember when 200,000+ new unemployment claims were cause for worry.

"Jobless claims totaled 1.48 million last week as unemployment related to the coronavirus pandemic remained stubbornly high, though those receiving benefits fell below 20 million for the first time in two months, the government reported Thursday."

"Macy's Inc. M, -3.54% said Thursday that it will cut 3,900 workers across corporate and management roles, as well as store staff, supply chain employees and the customer service network due to the impact of COVID-19. The restructuring is a cost-cutting effort as the department store retailer recovers from the pandemic."

"Bayer will pay more than $10 billion to resolve thousands of lawsuits regarding claims that its herbicide Roundup causes cancer, the company announced Wednesday… The settlement, however, does not contain any admission of wrongdoing or liability." Of course it doesn't.

"The Trump administration is preparing a major effort to protect national monuments that President Donald Trump has described as part of the country's heritage, including assigning US Marshals to oversee them and signing an executive order meant to protect them, people familiar with the plan say."

"President Donald Trump's plans to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore are drawing sharp criticism from Native Americans who view the monument as a desecration of land violently stolen from them and used to pay homage to leaders hostile to native people."

"President Trump on Wednesday said he would remove some U.S. troops from Germany and relocate them to Poland and other European and U.S. locations, a reaction to his long-standing complaint that Germany falls short on defense spending obligations to NATO."

"Jamaal Bowman isn't claiming victory just yet in his high-profile challenge of Congressman Eliot Engel, a 31-year-incumbent and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but Bowman has a strong early lead." This is in a fairly safe Democratic district, but it's another sign of the frustration that the part has moved too far to the center. Also it's another warning story to never consider your seat safe. You should always be proving to your voters you have their interests at heart.

"As protests stemming from George Floyd's killing at the hands of Minneapolis police spread across the country, Black progressives appear to have had a good night in Democratic primaries Tuesday, while some Republicans endorsed by President Trump did not fare as well on the GOP side."

"The debacle that unfolded in Oklahoma, where sparse crowds forced Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to cancel pre-rally appearances and ignited an unpleasant news cycle for Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, has raised the stakes for the Jacksonville convention, where hundreds of Republican delegates, party leaders and MAGA devotees will send Trump off to battle against his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden."

"Section 230, the law that is often credited as the reason why the internet as we know it exists, could be facing its greatest threat yet. A seemingly coordinated attack on the law is unfolding this week from the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress. It follows complaints that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube unfairly censor conservative speech. Though some are framing the efforts as a way to promote free speech, others say the result will be exactly the opposite." The way I look at this, they realize how they came to power using social media, and now they want to make sure no one else can use that ladder.

"Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the head-spinning number of misdeeds coming from his administration. We called this list a collection of Trump’s cruelties, collusions, and crimes, and it felt urgent then to track them, to ensure these horrors — happening almost daily — would not be forgotten. This election year, amid a harrowing global health, civil rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis, we know it’s never been more critical to note these horrors, to remember them, and to do all in our power to reverse them. This list will be updated between now and the November 2020 Presidential election."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday

Just a heads up that tomorrow will definately not have a post (or if there is one, it'll be late in the afternoon or evening). Also, things might be late for the next week.

"SpaceX won't be the only private company bringing people to the International Space Station. Virgin Galactic announced Monday that it has signed a deal with NASA to train private astronauts and coordinate potential trips to the ISS."

"The Perseverance rover will land on Mars to search out signs of past microbial life, if it ever existed. It will be the first Nasa mission to hunt directly for these 'biosignatures' since the Viking missions in the 1970s."

"A drug that could stop cancer cells repairing themselves has shown early signs of working… More than half of the 40 patients given berzosertib had the growth of their tumours halted."

"Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers can open from 4 July in England, when social distancing rules will be eased… Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people should remain 2m apart where possible but a 'one metre plus' rule will be introduced."

"Most health officials departing their roles are leaving because of pushback from people who don't like public health restrictions needed to control the pandemic, Freeman, CEO of NACCHO, said… She said the organization is seeing more positions being vacated in past weeks."

"A confrontation between protesters and police in the park across the street from the White House on Monday evening led the US Secret Service to take the unusual step of ordering members of the White House press corps to immediately leave the grounds."

"NASCAR drivers and crew members sent a powerful message to the world on Monday: 'We stand with Bubba Wallace.' The show of solidarity came a day after NASCAR announced that a noose was discovered inside Wallace's garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway… A massive crowd pushed and followed Wallace's No. 43 car as he sat in the driver's seat during pre-race activities." Something positive.

How goes Brexit? "The United Kingdom officially exited the European Union in January, but the divorce was far from finalized… And the two sides are very much still working the entire thing out." Tick-tock.

How go the Trade Wars? "After various media reports quoted Navarro as saying that the China deal is 'over,' stocks and the Chinese currency tumbled… Later, Navarro issued a new statement, saying that the trade deal remains in place."

"President Donald Trump has said there will be another relief package, raising the prospect of further stimulus checks amid economic turmoil posed by COVID-19… While Congress is yet to pass a further such bill, with the HEROES Act passing the House before stalling in the Senate, the president said he believes bipartisan action will be taken in the coming weeks." Funny how this came out after the Tulsa rally flop and how there's absolutely zero details. Also note, not everyone has received the first round of stimulus.

"First up, consumer spending. Typically, Chetty said, recessions are driven by a drop in spending on durable goods, like refrigerators, automobiles and computers. This recession is different. It's driven primarily by a decline in spending at restaurants, hotels, bars and other service establishments that require in-person contact… But what the team's data show is that this decline in spending is mostly in rich ZIP codes, whose businesses saw a 70% drop-off in their revenue. That compares with a 30% drop in revenue for businesses in poorer ZIP codes." Trickle-down never really worked, but now it really isn't even working in the limited sense. And when extended unemployment benefits end next month, expect the bottom to drop out as well. The rich don't really spend much of their capital (although in dollar terms they spend more). What would make the economy start humming again is to tax them (although attempting to tax existing stockpiles would be troublesome). But right now the pain of holding onto their money isn't as great as the perceived pain of spending that money. Until that pain equation flips, nothing will change.

"U.S. President Donald Trump will suspend the entry of certain foreign workers, a senior administration official said on Monday, a move the official said would help the economy, but which business groups strongly oppose." Again, you thought he was on your side, business people. He's not. You were just convenient to him at the moment. With authoritarians eventually everyone falls into the "out" group eventually.

"When the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, went dark last year, it was a familiar story for the region. Yet another manufacturing powerhouse — a pillar of the local economy and a rare source of good jobs — was shutting down… But the closure of the plant was not the end of the story. The factory was sold to Lordstown Motors, a start-up building an electric pickup truck that's scheduled to be unveiled on Thursday."

"A group of Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives urged President Donald Trump on Tuesday to reconsider his decision to cut the number of U.S. troops in Germany, saying their presence is the backbone of NATO’s deterrent against Russian aggression."

"The White House on Monday denied any malicious intent behind President Trump's use of the racist term 'kung flu' this weekend to describe the deadly coronavirus pandemic, saying that the president had no "regrets putting the onus back on China" for the deadly virus." Ugh. Bullies always think they're clever when they're just boorish. The president is a virulent racists.

"Fresh off a rally in Tulsa, Okla., in which nearly two-thirds of the arena was empty, President Trump heads to Arizona for a series of smaller events centered on a key element of his reelection pitch: border security… The president is scheduled to survey part of the border fence with Mexico in Yuma, Ariz., on Tuesday."

"Barr’s quick descent from 'Washington insider' to authoritarian bag man has been ably chronicled by my colleague Jeremy Stahl. It began when he lied extravagantly about the contents of the Mueller report, over Robert Mueller’s own objections, and had seemingly bottomed out with his interference in both the Roger Stone sentencing this winter and the abrupt dropping of the case against Michael Flynn. In both instances, career lawyers at the Justice Department walked off the job, and both actions aroused massive internal dissension that took the form of a letter by hundreds of former DOJ attorneys seeking his resignation." Usually when you drain a swamp people stop getting caught in the muck.

"Geoffrey Berman, the federal prosecutor ousted over the weekend by the Trump administration, recently refused to sign a letter from the Justice Department that criticized New York City's coronavirus restrictions that affect religious institutions, a person briefed on the matter said."

"The White House on Monday admitted that President Donald Trump was involved in the removal of US Attorney Geoffrey Berman after Trump had claimed he was "not involved" in the process this weekend… Speaking at the White House Monday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was 'involved in the sign-off capacity' as she sought to explain the removal of Berman as a simple swap that would allow Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to take the post."

Monday, June 22, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday

"Warrior’s grave found in 1988 was identified as male - yet now the 2,600-year-old teenager 'with wart on face’ is revealed to be female." Yet another grave met with, "weapons, must be male." They have always fought.

"A Siberian town with the world’s widest temperature range has recorded a new high amid a heat wave that is contributing to severe forest fires."

"Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer demanded Friday that Enbridge Energy provide proof that the damage to one of its dual oil pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac will not pose a threat to the area."

"Researchers are growing miniature organs in the laboratory to study how the new coronavirus ravages the body. Studies in these organoids are revealing the virus’s versatility at invading organs, from the lungs to the liver, kidneys and gut. Researchers are also experimenting with drugs in these mini tissues to see whether such therapies might be candidates to treat people."

"Scientists generally agree the nation is still in its first wave of coronavirus infections, albeit one that’s dipping in some parts of the country while rising in others."

"President Donald Trump said Saturday he’s asked his administration to slow down coronavirus testing because robust testing turns up too many cases of COVID-19." Uh, yeah, sure Bob. Besides the brain-aching stupidity of the statement, even now there isn't enough testing capacity.

"But the now-familiar scenes of U.S. police officers in riot gear clashing with protesters at Lafayette Park across from the White House and in other cities have police critics charging that the weaponry too often escalates tensions and hurts innocent people."

"A pre-dawn shooting in a park in Seattle’s protest zone killed a 19-year-old man and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday… The shooting happened at about 2:30 a.m. (Saturday) in the area near the city’s downtown that is known as CHOP, which stands for 'Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,' police said."

"A shooting in a popular Minneapolis nightlife area early Sunday left one man dead and 11 people wounded in a chaotic scene that sent people ducking into restaurants and other businesses for cover."

"Right-wing extremists are turning cars into weapons, with reports of at least 50 vehicle-ramming incidents since protests against police violence erupted nationwide in late May… At least 18 are categorized as deliberate attacks; another two dozen are unclear as to motivation or are still under investigation, according to a count released Friday by Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago's Chicago Project on Security and Threats. Weil has tracked vehicle-ramming attacks, or VRAs, since protests began." Say, who else uses VRAs as a modus operandi? What do we call those people again?

"The eight minority officers assigned to the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in St. Paul complained to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights that the decision to segregate them and keep them away from fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and the entire floor he was being housed on at the jail, was based solely on the color of their skin."

"NASCAR said late Sunday night that a noose was found in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega and said it had launched an investigation to find out who put it there… Wallace is the only Black driver who races full-time in NASCAR’s top three series and has been outspoken about racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s killing on May 25."

"Dutch police arrested about 400 protesters and used a water cannon Sunday after violence erupted around a demonstration in The Hague against measures put in place by the government to rein in the spread of the coronavirus… A peaceful protest turned violent when dozens of what police said were soccer fans arrived and clashed with riot police near the city’s central railway station."

"The attack took place in Forbury Gardens, a public park in the town of Reading, England, about 40 miles west of London. According to the Thames Valley Police, a man attacked park-goers with a knife around 7 p.m., leaving three people dead and three with 'serious injuries.' Officers detained a 25-year-old man from Reading on the scene and arrested him for suspicion of murder."

"While a Federal Reserve report said the expanded benefits provide a critical lifeline to many individuals, there is concern that the additional money is leading crucial workers to stay home. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities, hard hit by the pandemic, have been struggling with understaffing." Notice how the one person they profile didn't stop working because of the money, but because her kids needed her at home. She may be staying home because of the money (which will run out soon). But maybe adjust Medicare payments for nursing home care (most care is paid by Medicare), maybe adjust the rules to provide more flexibility and add accountability. Also, pay people more.

How go the Trade Wars? "Tyson Foods is looking into reports that China’s customs agency has suspended poultry imports from a Tyson facility in the United States after coronavirus cases were confirmed among its employees."

"On Saturday, China's National People's Congress (NPC), which is expected to pass the law in coming weeks, gave Hong Kong its first glimpse of what it contains. The critics may have been right to be worried: as drafted, the law appears to upend the city's prized independent legal system, allowing Beijing to override local laws while enhancing its ability to suppress political opposition."

The whackaloon quotient is rising again. "The paid advertisement that appeared in Sunday’s editions of The Tennessean from the group Future For America claims Donald Trump 'is the final president of the USA' and features a photo of Trump and Pope Francis. It begins by claiming that a nuclear device would be detonated in Nashville and that the attack would be carried out by unspecific interests of 'Islam.'"

"President Trump is expected to sign an order to suspend H-1B, L-1 and other temporary work visas through the end of the year, according to the multiple sources familiar with the plan." Red meat for the base, crippling action against tech industries.

"There have been many damning insider accounts about Trump, most recently by his former national security adviser John Bolton, but perhaps no perceived betrayal will sting like the one that springs from his own flesh and blood."

"As he barrels toward the November election, Trump is again positioning himself as the spokesperson for voters resisting a new wave of cultural change, ready to ride any backlash from the protests calling for racial equality and police reform and this week’s Supreme Court rulings extending protections to gay workers and young immigrants."

"Nearly a month after the killing of George Floyd while in police custody and the launch of massive protests against police brutality across the country, President Trump was asked what part of his response would he have handled differently."

"A look at claims and the reality from the past week…" That plane is gonna take off with that much spin.

"President Donald Trump used his comeback rally to try to define the upcoming election as a choice between national heritage and left-wing radicalism, but his intended show of political force during the pandemic was thousands short of a full house and partly overshadowed by new coronavirus cases among his campaign staff."

"Swaths of empty blue seats and a vacant overflow venue in Oklahoma have led President Donald Trump's aides to begin debating what his signature campaign rallies will look like going forward, people familiar with the matter say."

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Linkee-poo Weekend

"But neither protests or more people leaving home explain the surge of new COVID-19 cases, a USA TODAY analysis of counties with at least 100 cases has found. Residents of counties with growth of 25% or more over the previous two weeks left their homes at the same rate as people in counties without a surge of new infections, according to cell phone location data compiled by the company SafeGraph."

"As much of the country presses forward with reopening, a growing number of cities and states are finding that the coronavirus outbreak now has a foothold in a younger slice of the population, with people in their 20s and 30s accounting for a larger share of new coronavirus infections." Millennials (and Gen Z), killing it again.

"Brazil passed 1 million coronavirus cases on Friday and approached 50,000 deaths, a new nadir for the world’s second worst-hit country as it struggles with a tense political climate and worsening economic outlook."

"The coronavirus pandemic reached a new one-day high Thursday with 150,000 new confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization… Almost half of those cases were reported in the Americas, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference."

"AMC reversed course on a controversial policy on Friday, saying it will now require all patrons at its movie theaters to wear face masks in an effort to quell the spread of the coronavirus." Well, good. Now how about the rest?

"The Transportation Security Administration withheld N95 masks from staff and exhibited 'gross mismanagement' in its response to the coronavirus crisis – leaving employees and travelers vulnerable during the most urgent days of the pandemic, a senior TSA official alleges in a new whistleblower complaint."

"Wall Street jitters over a resurgence in COVID-19 cases as states moved to reopen long-stifled commerce and ease social-distancing measures helped drive down major U.S. stock indexes, reversing earlier gains." In case you may still harbor the sentiment that the investment class may be smarter that other people. Nope, they're actually less smart. It's just that they have the money.

"A biracial woman on Friday confronted a white man for ripping down fliers for a Black Lives Matter event in Berkeley, and now a recording of the encounter is going viral."

"Television images showed the statue of Albert Pike, which was located near Judiciary Square, being pulled down with ropes as protesters cheered 'Black Lives Matter.' They then used flammable liquid to set a fire on the statue. Police put out the fire… President Donald Trump said in a tweet, 'The D.C. Police are not doing their job as they watch a statue be ripped down & burn. These people should be immediately arrested. A disgrace to our Country!'"

"Vice President Mike Pence declined to say the words 'Black lives matter' during an interview with an ABC affiliate in Pennsylvania on Friday, instead saying that 'all lives matter.'"

"The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced on Friday that NCAA championship events will not be held in states where the Confederate flag has a 'prominent presence.' The statement targeted Mississippi, writing that it's 'the only state currently affected by the Association's policy.'" Can't wait for the response from all those "free speech" and "free market" types.

How go the Trade Wars? "Europe is facing the prospect of a new transatlantic trade war with its trade chief muzzled and mired in a potential conflict of interest." Some inside baseball.

"The Small Business Administration and Treasury Department, under withering criticism for lack of transparency, shifted course Friday and announced they would disclose details of borrowers in the Paycheck Protection Program… Such data would be released for businesses that received loans of at least $150,000, which make up nearly 75% of approved funding, the SBA and the Treasury Department said." I guess someone finally talked with their lawyers.

"China has accused Indian troops of a 'deliberate provocation' in its first official comments on Monday's deadly clash at a disputed Himalayan border… Foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao said the troops had crossed into Chinese territory and attacked, triggering 'fierce physical conflicts'."

"Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, plans to step down and President Donald Trump will nominate the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission to succeed him, Attorney General William Barr announced Friday evening… But Berman said he learned of the plan in a Justice Department press release and shot back that he has no intention of stepping down." Someone didn't get the memo.

"President Donald Trump warned those protesting his planned rally in Oklahoma they could be treated roughly, an opening threat a day ahead of what he says is the new kickoff of his reelection campaign."

"(Judge) Lamberth said he will consider how the Trump administration determined parts of Bolton's book should be classified after extensive reviews of the book." It's not looking good for the Trump administration.

"Ms Trump, who now serves as a senior White House adviser in President Donald Trump’s administration, was found to have conducted government business over a private server using personal email account 'on hundreds of occasions', according to the watchdog group, American Oversight."

Friday, June 19, 2020

Linkee-poo, why do the white gulls call

Ian Holm, Bilbo has left the Grey Havens and gone into the West.

"Researchers, armchair astronauts and even brides and grooms looking for an out-of-this-world wedding experience will be able to celebrate, collect data or simply enjoy the view from an altitude of 100,000 feet in a balloon-borne pressurized cabin, complete with a bar and a restroom, a space startup announced Thursday." Its not actually space, but close enough. Also it's all theoretical at this time.

"A prime of example of said chaos was the freakishly low sea ice extent in Antarctica in 2016 and 2017. Ice extent crashed hard everywhere, but particularly in the Weddell Sea near the Antarctic Peninsula. Among the oddities of the austral spring and summer those years was a Netherlands-sized hole in the ice known as a polynya… Now, new findings published in Geophysical Research Letters show the likely cause of the abnormal conditions were intense, warm winds, which also helped usher in powerful storms that wiped out icepack."

"A prolonged heatwave in Siberia is 'undoubtedly alarming', climate scientists have said. The freak temperatures have been linked to wildfires, a huge oil spill and a plague of tree-eating moths… On a global scale, the Siberian heat is helping push the world towards its hottest year on record in 2020, despite a temporary dip in carbon emissions owing to the coronavirus pandemic." We're boned.

"President Donald Trump said some Americans might wear face masks not as a way to prevent the spread of coronavirus but as a way to 'signal disapproval of him.'" This also gives a green light to those idiots who feel wearing a mask is an infringement on their liberty and have become hostile when asked to wear one. Also, sometimes the movie ain't about you, Sparky.

Whatever happened to the American economy coming "roaring back"? "Washington’s massive small business rescue is ending after delivering more than half a trillion dollars to millions of employers. Now, everyone from key lawmakers to the Federal Reserve says it may not be enough… That’s spurring a debate in Washington over how to provide a new lifeline to the beleaguered businesses." Hey, while we're at it, let's make it part of the law that every loan given out is public record (including loans in the past two bills).

How go the Trade Wars? "The European Union said on Thursday it could impose taxes on digital giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook even without a global agreement by the year-end, after Washington quit talks and stoked fears of a new trade war." Sure it's a negotiation tactic, but it's one the other countries could say, "Fine, pay the tax."

Like this… "After Washington’s move, France said it would move ahead with plans to impose digital taxes at the national level, while Italy and the U.K. said they remained committed to finding a 'global solution.'"

"A New Mexico prosecutor on Wednesday dropped a shooting charge against an Albuquerque man suspected of shooting a protester and called for further investigations after allegations the protester was armed at the time he was shot."

"Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Thursday he will introduce legislation making Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the emancipation of formerly enslaved African Americans, a federal holiday." Oh look, it's the annual attempt again.

"California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill Thursday to require county officials to mail a ballot to every registered voter for the November election, cementing into law the Democratic governor's earlier order to mail out ballots statewide in response to the coronavirus outbreak."

"Pyongyang-watchers are waiting to see if the silence portends a fresh escalation following the destruction of the inter-Korean liaison office in the Northern city of Kaesong on Tuesday. Pyongyang has warned that its military may re-enter border areas demilitarized as part of a 2018 inter-Korean agreement, and turn the zones into a 'fortress.'"

"Religious Jewish settlers like Deutsch are mounting unexpected, vocal opposition as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to execute one of the provisions of President Trump's plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank."

"The Trump administration plans to reinterpret a Cold War-era arms agreement between 34 nations with the goal of allowing U.S. defense contractors to sell more American-made drones to a wide array of nations, three defense industry executives and a U.S. official told Reuters."

"Senate Republicans are unmoved by the stunning allegations in former national security adviser John Bolton's forthcoming book, saying Bolton's accusation that President Donald Trump sought reelection help from Chinese President Xi Jinping did not change their minds against calling him as a witness in the impeachment trial." Don't let conservatives fool you this coming Winter, they are all totally fine with Trump. Even the Lincoln Project. They're just upset at what they see as the coming blowback. Trump is what conservative ideology calls for. He is the base.

"President Donald Trump is not 'fit for office' and doesn't have 'the competence to carry out the job,' his former national security adviser John Bolton told ABC News in an exclusive interview." We already knew that.

"A doctored viral video shared by President Donald Trump on Twitter has been labeled as 'manipulated media' by the microblogging site as it looks to clean up disinformation." The president is an idiot.

"Facebook (FB) on Thursday said it had taken action against ads run by President Trump's re-election campaign for breaching its policies on hate. The ads, which attacked what the Trump campaign described as "Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups," featured an upside-down triangle… The Anti-Defamation League said Thursday the triangle 'is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps.'"

"On Friday morning, before an ill-advised campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which will take place in the middle of an unabated COVID-19 pandemic, the president of the United States threatened Americans who might come to the rally to express their first amendment rights." America in 2020.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Linkee-poo, does anybody here remember Vera Lynn, remember how she said that we would meet again, some sunny day

Vera Lynn, and so it goes.

"There are three potential explanations for the new signal from the Xenon1T experiment. Two require new physics to explain, while one of them is consistent with a hypothesised dark matter particle called a solar axion."

"Now, analysis has revealed that the mystery fossil is in fact a soft-shelled egg, the largest ever found, laid some 68 million years ago, possibly by a type of extinct sea snake or lizard."

"In a major U-turn, the UK is ditching the way its current coronavirus-tracing app works and shifting to a model based on technology provided by Apple and Google… The Apple-Google design has been promoted as being more privacy-focused… However, it means epidemiologists will have access to less data."

"Now a team of European researchers have found that people with blood type A had a 45% higher risk of catching coronavirus and developing 'COVID-19 with respiratory failure,' compared to people with other blood types. On the other hand, people with type O blood had a 35% lower risk for this more serious form of COVID-19."

Florida… "Now, with cases on the rise and beaches reopened, the city has taken a different approach: It doesn’t enforce its own rules mandating face masks or social distancing when people are with non-family members… In four of the last seven days, the state has reported a record number of daily total COVID-19 cases, which Morris called 'very concerning.' Florida reported 2,783 new cases Tuesday, more than it has ever recorded in a single day."

"Well, here we are. It’s June 12, and Covid-19 hospitalizations are rising in Arizona, the Carolinas, Utah, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, and perhaps Florida. Those states are also seeing higher numbers of positive Covid-19 tests, as well as increases in the percentage of tests that come back positive. This indicates that the higher case counts aren’t simply due to more widespread testing finding milder cases… Call it a reopening backfire. But really: No expert thought that reopening this quickly was going to work in the first place."

Violence was inevitable. "A movement that had swept into much of the nation’s big cities was about to reach a small town, a rural enclave where the message from demonstrators would be heard not as a wake-up call or a rallying cry, but as a challenge to a way of life… In Bethel, peaceful protesters would be seen by some as no different than looters and rioters. They represented chaos, the problems of other people from other places."

Trigger warnings for child sexual abuse… "Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice were teenage Ren & Stimpy fans who wanted to make cartoons. They say they were preyed upon by the creator of the show, John Kricfalusi, who admitted to having had a 16-year-old girlfriend when approached by BuzzFeed News."

"First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 1.5 million last week, well above the 1.3 million expected." What, no joyous celebration. I mean, it's lower than last week's numbers, which were heralded by the market as the end.

Is it time for infrastructure week again? "A well-traveled South Florida bridge is not at risk of imminent collapse, authorities said this week, diverging from the US Coast Guard's warning that the bridge would soon fail." And we know how well Florida authorities do with health risks.

Trouble in paradise… "The community of Kahului saw the largest over-the-year unemployment rate increase in April, shooting up more 32.5% points, according to the BLS’s most recent data. As the travel industry was hit hard by the pandemic, fellow tourist hubs Las Vegas, Nevada, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, saw the second and third highest increases in over-the-year unemployment rates."

"As it headed toward bankruptcy, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. took advantage of a little-noticed provision in the stimulus bill Congress passed in March to get a $9.7 million tax refund. Then, it asked a bankruptcy judge to authorize the same amount as bonuses to nine executives." How's that extra $600 a week working out for ya?

"Cream of Wheat’s parent company, B&G Foods, said it is 'initiating an immediate review' of the brand’s packaging… The announcement follows decisions by the parent companies of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Mrs. Butterworth's to overhaul their imaging in the wake of renewed calls for racial equality."

"U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi on Wednesday and discussed the need for full transparency and information sharing between the two nations to combat the coronavirus pandemic and prevent future outbreaks." That kinda thing is usually handled at the assistants to the assistants to the deputies level months before actual meetings of the principals. "As the meeting got under way, U.S. President Donald Trump signed legislation calling for sanctions against those responsible for repression of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region." Great timing, Sparky. But that was mostly to address issues brought up in Bolton's book than it was to affect actual policy.

"John Bolton details a troubling and shocking series of allegations in a new book about his tenure as President Donald Trump's national security adviser, alleging Trump requested Chinese help to win the 2020 election, that the President argued Venezuela is part of the US, that he casually offered to intervene in the criminal justice system for foreign leaders and that his own senior officials mocked him behind his back." And this way, you don't have to buy the book.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Linkee-poo Wednesday

"Public health officials have an explanation for why they flip flopped on recommending masks to the general public. There was a shortage, and masks needed to be available for healthcare workers, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told TheStreet." Many decisions on proper PPE use in the early days (and somewhat even now) are based more on the economics of the event (if we have proper PPE, if we can buy more) than actual medical best practices.

"Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NPR's '1A,' which is produced out of WAMU in Washington, D.C., that the last time he talked to Trump was 'two weeks ago' and it was about 'vaccine development efforts.'"

"The new coronavirus outbreak in Beijing grew to 106 cases Tuesday, with 29 communities in the sprawling Chinese capital back on lockdown. Health officials confirmed another 27 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, a smaller increase than in previous days but still a worrying resurgence after Beijing enjoyed almost two months without a single new infection."

"Health officials in New Zealand have made an embarrassing U-turn in the case of two women recently arrived from Britain who were infected with Covid-19 and allowed to leave quarantine without being tested – admitting the pair met up with friends when they should not have done."

"A month after President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed, administration officials are offering no guarantees that the project will meet its goal of producing 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by January." Ta-da!

"New numbers released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a comprehensive picture of who in the United States has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and how they fared… The latest figures confirm that older people, minorities and those with preexisting health conditions are at the highest risk of death."

"In Florida, where there's a surge of new COVID-19 cases, officials are divided over what to do about it. The state saw 2,783 new cases Tuesday. It was the third time in a week that Florida set a new daily record."

"Despite the concerning uptick in people sick with the virus, Abbott said that the reason for his news conference was to let Texans know about the 'abundant' hospital capacity for treating people with COVID-19. He and other officials spent much of the briefing touting the state's hospital bed availability."

"Hundreds of pages of tax returns, depositions and other filings in state court in Houston show how TeamHealth marks up medical bills in order to boost profits for investors." It ain't the healthcare workers who are pulling gin the big bucks.

"Alleged 'Boogaloo' extremist charged in killing of federal officer during George Floyd protest."

"Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost will announce new law enforcement reform efforts on Wednesday."

There's an app for that. "If a situation arises that you want to record, you might not have the time or forethought to pick up your phone, send a message and begin recording… If you have an iPhone, however, you can use Apple's Shortcuts app and a Shortcut created by Reddit user RobertAPeterson to send a message with your location to a friend or family member and automatically begin recording a video with nothing more than a simple command, 'Hey Siri, I'm getting pulled over.'"

"The wealthiest American households are keeping a tight grip on their purse strings even as their lower-income counterparts are spending a lot more freely when they emerge from weeks of lockdown. That decline in spending by the wealthy could limit the whole country's economic recovery."

"A closed highway and a 'mad dash' to e-commerce: Here’s how one New Jersey Main St. is preparing to reopen."

"Target said Wednesday it is raising its minimum wage to $15 per hour and will give all hourly employees a one-time bonus of $200… The $2 per hour raise will apply to employees at stores and distribution centers, beginning July 5. Target had temporarily raised its wages by $2 an hour in March as coronavirus cases rose."

"Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington talks about the more than $1.7 billion in coronavirus-related unemployment benefits paid out to over 300,000 claimants since March 16… 'At this point, we are paying out the equivalent of a "normal" year’s worth of benefits every two weeks,' Washington said." That's how piss poor the unemployment normally pays.

"India's prime minister has said the deaths of at least 20 soldiers in a fight with Chinese troops in a disputed Himalayan border area 'will not be in vain'… Narendra Modi said India would be 'proud that our soldiers died fighting the Chinese' in the clash in the Ladakh region on Monday." This is fine.

A Frontline Dispatch podcast… "As COVID-19 has spread, so, too, have misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus — amplified by figures like Alex Jones, and proliferating on social media and even at the highest levels of government. Veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk, who was already making a documentary about the rise of conspiracy theories in American politics when the pandemic hit, shares what he’s learned about how such theories have become central to understanding the nation’s response to the coronavirus outbreak."

"A 27-page civil lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against Bolton with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleges that publication of his 592-page book, The Room Where It Happened, would be a violation of nondisclosure agreements he signed and compromise national security."

"One of four prosecutors who withdrew from the case of longtime Donald Trump ally Roger Stone after Justice Department leaders intervened in his sentencing, Aaron Zelinsky, is prepared to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week, Chairman Jerry Nadler revealed Tuesday."

"'The word "fascist" has acquired a feeling of the extreme, like crying wolf,' Stanley writes — not because Americans are so unfamiliar with fascist tactics but because we are becoming inured to them. 'Normalization of fascist ideology, by definition, would make charges of "fascism" seem like an overreaction.' Our senses have been dulled by exposure. The United States has had a long history of pro- or proto-fascist sentiment, including the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan, the America First movement of the interwar years and the Jim Crow laws that Adolf Hitler cited as an inspiration. 'Fascism is not a new threat,' Stanley writes, 'but rather a permanent temptation.'"

"Speaking during a discursive noontime event in the Rose Garden, Trump initially sought to adopt a unifying tone as he announced an executive order that, among other steps, creates a federal database of police officers with a history of using excessive force… But later he veered from that topic and that tone to assault his political rivals and tout the stock market's recent rally."

Say hello to the Farm Team… "The operation, named 'Secondary Infektion' by researchers, has sought to spread pro-Russian propaganda around the globe by sharing fake tweets from U.S. elected officials and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. And it attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Researchers say it will likely try to spread falsehoods tied to the November election, too." Waves to our Russian friends.

"That was precisely the problem in 2016: The national polls were largely accurate, to within the margin of error. But there were too few state polls, and many of those that were conducted failed to collect accurate data, especially from white voters without college degrees in key swing states… And those issues haven’t been fixed." Also, any polling before the end of August is fundamentally flawed (which is why I don't often point out articles based on polling until we're closer to the election).

"A familiar tale is unfolding in American politics in 2020: women are once again setting records as candidates for Congress. While the 2018 midterms saw a historic wave of Democratic candidates and general election winners, this time the surge in candidates is among Republican women running for the House."