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

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday

"Astronomers have found a previously unseen type of object circling a distant star… It could be the core of a gas world like Jupiter, offering an unprecedented glimpse inside one of these giant planets."

The stealth death-tax that most people want repealed, not the estate tax. "Medicaid, the government program that provides health care to more than 75 million low-income and disabled Americans, isn’t necessarily free. It’s the only major welfare program that can function like a loan. Medicaid recipients over the age of 55 are expected to repay the government for many medical expenses—and states will seize houses and other assets after those recipients die in order to satisfy the debt." Medicaid repayment robs poor people of the minuscule legacy they felt they would leave their children.

"The U.S. coronavirus outbreak will come to an end by January 'one way or the other,' thanks to a vaccine or because enough people will have already been infected and have some immunity to it, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC." Um, no. Such a prediction takes into account a lot of other things that are not likely to happen and is based on the idea that once you have COVID-19, you won't get it again (has not been proven and won't be for years) and it means a lot of institutions accept a lot of liability that they won't do (such as in person classes at schools).

Gonzalez-Cid says she hopes the crisis may be an opportunity for communities to re-evaluate their own arts funding. Mary Anne Carter hopes that will be true of the country as well. 'The arts account for about $877 billion of our GDP and that just stopped overnight,' she says, adding that arts may be needed more right now than at any other point in U.S. history, not just to help the economy but to help the country heal."

"But most children's museums are neither big nor famous. Several have permanently closed since the onset of COVID-19, including the Children's Museum of the Sierra in Oakhurst, Calif., the Orpheum Children's Science Museum in Champaign, Ill., and the Children's Museum of Richmond's branch in Fredericksburg, Va."

"Abbas says before the pandemic, the gravediggers would bury seven or eight people a day. Now it's more like 20. He sometimes buries family members side-by-side… Kabul's gravediggers have long been witness to Afghanistan's bloodshed. Now, they're emerging as some of the most important eyewitnesses of how badly the pandemic is affecting the Afghan capital."

Florida man… "With a stroke of his veto pen, Gov. Ron DeSantis wiped out the entire $29.4 million budget for a suite of online education services that have become critical to students and faculty during the Covid-19 outbreak… The move… will kill the Complete Florida Plus Program, an array of technology systems that faculty, staff and students throughout Florida rely on… in the midst of a pandemic that has amplified reliance on distance learning. The cuts include a database of online courses and an online library service that provides 17 million books to 1.3 million students, faculty and staff."

Columbus, Ohio, removes the large statue of Christopher Columbus from in front of the city hall. "Columbus Day 'was adopted at a time when Italians were vilified and faced religious and ethnic discrimination,' as NPR's Leila Fadel has reported. 'Italian Americans latched onto the day as a way to mainstream and humanize themselves in the face of rampant discrimination. It became a national holiday in 1934 to honor a man who, ironically, never set foot in the United States. Columbus anchored in the Bahamas.'"

"Ghilsaine Maxwell, the longtime girlfriend and alleged accomplice of accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested Thursday morning in connection with the ongoing federal investigation into Epstein's accomplices, according to a person familiar with the matter." Finally.

"Women who say they faced sexual misconduct and workplace sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein could receive restitution in the form of a nearly $19 million settlement… On Tuesday, the New York Attorney General's office announced the settlement that would create an $18,875,000 victims compensation fund, which awaits approval from bankruptcy and district courts later this year." That feels very low.

"Nonfarm payrolls soared by 4.8 million in June and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1% as the U.S. continued its reopening from the coronavirus pandemic, the Labor Department said Thursday." Before you all start popping the champaign, this is mostly people being called back to work, and the unemployment rate is over 10%. In the Great Recession, approaching a 10% unemployment rate was an alarm call. "Indeed, new jobless claims remained stubbornly high last week, with another 1.427 million Americans filing, above the estimate of 1.38 million, the Labor Department said in a separate report Thursday." And the same report from CNN with some helpful charts.

"President Donald Trump’s biggest trade achievement, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, (went into) effect Wednesday, replacing NAFTA and ending his threat to break apart the three-nation free trade zone… The pact is far from an assured success. It’s also landing amid rising trade tensions with Canada and widespread concern about Mexico’s ability to enforce labor protections. Plus, any economic benefits and job gains are years away."

"The UK High Court has ruled against Venezuela's government in a legal battle over access to $1bn (£820m) of gold stored in the Bank of England… It said the UK had 'unequivocally recognised opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president', rather than President Nicolás Maduro."

"President Vladimir Putin has won a resounding victory in his bid to stay in power until the middle of the next decade, as Russians voted overwhelmingly to endorse the country's political status quo, according to preliminary results." To say there were "irregularities" is an understatement. Also, there were plenty more changes made to the Russian Constitution as well. Enjoy your new Tsar, Russia.

"President Trump said Wednesday that reports of Russia paying bounties to Taliban-linked fighters to kill U.S. troops and coalition forces in Afghanistan is a hoax, even as his administration continues to brief members of Congress on the matter."

"President Donald Trump was briefed less and less with warnings about Russia's behavior towards the US because he would get angry when presented with intelligence about it, a CNN report said… 'The President has created an environment that dissuades, if not prohibits, the mentioning of any intelligence that isn't favorable to Russia,' one former senior national security staffer told CNN." Our stable-genius president. For not being a Russian asset, he sure acts like one.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "If the White House had solid intelligence about the GRU, the foreign military-intelligence agency of the Russian armed forces, offering bounties for killing American soldiers in Afghanistan (as alleged by some recent media reporting led by The New York Times), the president would take exactly the same step. He would find out who they are. He would never rest until they were punished. He would care no more about upsetting the Kremlin than he fretted about upsetting the mullahs in Tehran."

"This seemingly unending barrage of bad news has made what was already going to be a tough cycle for Senate Republicans even more difficult. They’re in real danger of losing their six-year-old majority to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the Democrats, who have gotten their favored candidates lined up in key races, including Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa and Kentucky. If something doesn’t change for Senate Republicans soon, they could be facing real problems in November, according to political handicappers."

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a message for Democrats: Don't end the legislative filibuster if you win control, or you'll regret it."

"Racism is all he's got… Everything else Donald Trump was going to run on this summer and fall has evaporated. The 'booming' economy? (Which he inherited from Barack Obama in the first place.) The U.S. has the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression and the situation is about to get exponentially worse as unemployment benefits expire. And no, 'reopening' is not a solution, since the data makes clear that consumers have little interest in shopping or eating out during a pandemic."

To wit… "President Donald Trump gave the Republicans in Congress a tough choice Tuesday night: vote to honor leaders of the Confederacy, or vote against him."

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