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

Friday, July 31, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday

"Isaias has become a hurricane as it approaches Florida… The National Hurricane Center said late Thursday that the storm was threatening the Bahamas and had winds of 80 mph. It was about 70 miles east-southeast of Great Inagua Island, moving northwest at about 18 mph."

"NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is on its way to the Red Planet to search for signs of ancient life and collect samples to send back to Earth."

"SpaceX just fired the engine of its latest Starship prototype, paving the way for a test flight in the near future… The company conducted a 'static fire' test of Starship SN5 today (July 30), letting its single Raptor engine blaze while the vehicle remained tethered to the ground at SpaceX's South Texas facilities, near the village of Boca Chica." One survived!

"Contrary to popular opinion, the practice of forgiveness is not about condoning or making excuses for unfair treatment and other hurtful behaviors. It's not about getting an apology or a show of remorse from the offending party. And, despite what's portrayed in films, novels, poems and love songs, it's not necessarily about reconciliation. Granted, reconnecting with loved ones can be a wonderful by-product of forgiveness, but it's not a requirement or even a goal, in some cases – especially if doing so would subject you to more harm." On forgiving.

There's lots of news about coronavirus vaccines today. All of it is spin, all of it is either for stock price jockeying or bragging rights (waves to my Russian friends as Russia says they'll have a vaccine in wide distribution by Christmas). How do I know this? Look at where the stories are being published ("we have a vaccine that's in whatever stage!" in business magazines, the "well have the vaccine in hand" in the political section).

So how's that privatizing the coronavirus data going? "Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete, transparent, and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said… Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say." The public sector can't match the government.

"The revelation Wednesday that Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, a renegade lawmaker known for stalking the halls of Congress without a mask, tested positive for Covid-19 has unleashed a fusillade of anger on Capitol Hill — a sudden release of built-up tension over how the institution has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic within the confines of its own workplace."

"The further easing of coronavirus restrictions in England - due to come in this weekend - has been postponed for at least two weeks, amid concerns over an increase in coronavirus cases… Casinos and bowling alleys will remain shut, with Boris Johnson saying it was time to 'squeeze the brake pedal'."

"As one of the whitest big cities in the America, Portland's outsize role in the nationwide protests may strike some as surprising… Oregon has a long history of entrenched racism, dating back to its statehood in 1859, when the state constitution barred Black people from entering or living there. Yet the recent protests in Portland are part of another long history of black and white Oregonians combating that lingering racism, says Lisa Bates, an associate professor of urban studies at Portland State University."

"That opposition (to Medicaid expansion) by (Missouri) state leaders has meant adults like Organ who don't have dependent children or specific disabilities cannot qualify for Missouri's Medicaid program — even if their incomes are well below the poverty line." Funny how other conservative actions leading to the economic crisis may start shinning a light on some of the more heinous conservative actions.

"One U.S. Marine has died, another is in critical condition and a rescue operation is underway for eight more after a training exercise "mishap" with an amphibious assault vehicle off the coast of Southern California on Thursday." The 80's vibes just keeps getting stronger.

How go the Trade Wars? "China took another step toward meeting agricultural commitments made in the phase one trade agreement with the U.S. with its biggest-ever purchase of American corn."

"Similar deals are likely to happen on a massive scale in the coming years, according to Dave Muth, who helped Ray Williams sell and buy his farms. Muth is a partner with Alternative Equity Advisors, which is affiliated with Peoples Company, a Des Moines-based land broker. 'Right now, over 80 percent of the farmland in the country is owned by somebody 55 or older, and roughly half of [them are] 75 or older,' Muth says. 'We're going to have an incredible shift in value over the next five to twenty years.'" The myth of the small town farmer versus the reality.

"The euro zone economy contracted by 12.1% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the first three months of the year, according to preliminary data from the region’s statistics office." What they've got that we ain't got?

"A federal judge has unsealed hundreds of pages of deposition transcripts and other documents related to a now-settled defamation suit brought against Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping the late Jeffrey Epstein run a sex trafficking operation that catered to rich and powerful men." Watch who runs for cover.

"Indeed, FBI officials even went a step farther. Once McCabe became director, Bureau employees grew so concerned that Trump would try to shut down the investigation that they secreted at least three copies of key documents, including Comey's memos, in remote locations around the Bureau. This was to make sure that in the event Trump directed an end to these inquiries, the documents could always be preserved, located, and shared." It's almost like they knew what would happen.

"The Census Bureau is cutting short critical door-knocking efforts for the 2020 census amid growing concerns among Democrats in Congress that the White House is pressuring the bureau to wrap up counting soon for political gain, NPR has learned." Heinous fuckery afoot. Remember in 2010 when Republicans were all upset about "statistical methods" and demanded a rigorous physical count?

"With aid expiring, the White House offered a short-term extension Thursday of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Democrats rejected it, saying President Donald Trump’s team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis." Expect to hear about this a lot on the weekend talking head shows.

"Congress has approved roughly $2.5 trillion since March to rescue an economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic… And it doesn't look like it will be nearly enough… Lawmakers are working on a fifth round of stimulus relief that could dwarf the four previous rounds of assistance combined." But Mitch McConnell has sent the Senate home for the weekend, as the president (supposedly) "begs" Democrats to extend the $600/week unemployment deal (that's spin, it has no chance to be renewed before it expires). There is at least another week (if not a month) worth of work left to be done to reconcile the bills in the House (already passed months ago) and the Senate bill (which they can't even get to a majority of the Republicans to agree to it, to even begin the process of negotiating with the Senate Democrats). And the two bills have little overlap and agreement.

"Top officials from President Donald Trump’s administration planned more talks with congressional Republicans and Democrats on Thursday, despite flagging hopes of reaching an agreement to extend coronavirus aid before a Friday deadline." Ta-da! The time for this action was 3 weeks ago. But, say, do we have appropriations bills ready for FY2021 yet? (Puts hands in pockets and walks away whistling)

"Hours after voting unanimously to remove Larry Householder as its speaker on Thursday, members of the Ohio House of Representatives elected state Rep. Bob Cupp to replace him."

"As the coronavirus pandemic has upended normal balloting, more than half of voters under the age of 35 say they don't have the resources or knowledge they need to vote by mail in November, according to a new poll." Add in the heinous fuckery of the last few elections surrounding absentee ballots (mail-in ballots) and it's a recipe for disaster unless an effort is made at public education. And given the current state of information flow in the US (waves to my Russian friends) that's a big hurdle to overcome.

"Revealed: super-rich donate to Cuomo as he rejects tax hikes for billionaires… Investigation shows governor’s political machine has received money from more than a third of New York’s billionaire families." Oh look, politics as normal.

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