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

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Linkee-poo Wednesday

"We've known for some time now that our neighbor Venus is hell off-Earth, but new research suggests it's even worse than we thought… In addition to its toxic atmosphere and lead-melting (literally) temperatures, the second planet from the sun looks to be home to at least a few dozen active volcanoes belching up brimstone to add to the ambience." It's alive (said in my best Dr. Frankenstein voice).

"In his first coronavirus briefing since April, President Donald Trump got a little more accurate about the state of the pandemic in the US -- but also continued to make some of the same false claims and promote some of the same misleading narratives of his previous moments in the White House briefing room."

"New research suggests that antibodies the immune system makes to fight the new coronavirus may only last a few months in people with mild illness, but that doesn’t mean protection also is gone or that it won’t be possible to develop an effective vaccine." The question about reinfection still remains to be answered.

Remember the line about why drugs are so expensive because it has to do with development costs? "The U.S. will pay Pfizer and biotech firm BioNTech $1.95 billion to produce and deliver 100 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine if it proves safe and effective, the companies announced Wednesday." That's a lot of money. Now, the first does costs a hellofalot, but all those subsequent doses are hellacheap.

Remember when we used to have psychiatric hospitals, but then closed the majority of them to save money and then expected police and other parts of the healthcare system to pick up the lose ends? "'The patients that I was seeing in my hospital were indistinguishable many times from the men and women that I was evaluating in jail,' Montross says. 'But the environments were so markedly different. One [is] charged with ... trying to help and heal, and the other [is] really designed to control and punish.'" If you're able to get into a "behavior ward" you might get actual help, but the ER and jails are not the place for those in the grips of mental disease.

"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection arm confirmed on Tuesday it has deployed officers from three paramilitary-style units to join a federal crackdown on protests against police violence in Portland, Oregon."

How go the Trade Wars? "The US has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, by Friday - a move described as 'political provocation' by Beijing… The US State Department said the decision was taken 'in order to protect American intellectual property'."

"Sales of existing homes jumped nearly 21% in June compared with May, according to the National Association of Realtors… It was the largest monthly gain since the Realtors began tracking the data in 1968 and came after sharp declines over the previous three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sales were still 11.3% lower annually." Don't expect that second number to halt the rise in home prices (note I didn't say "home values").

"'The outrage isn't [whether] there was (Russian) interference (in UK politics/BREXIT); the outrage is that no one has wanted to know if there was interference,' member Kevan Jones of the Labour Party told a news conference laying out the committee's findings. 'That, I think, comes through very loud and clear in our report.'"

"Labour has agreed to pay 'substantial' damages to seven former employees who sued the party in an anti-Semitism row… The party has issued an unreserved apology in the High Court for making 'false and defamatory' comments about seven whistleblowers who spoke out in a BBC Panorama programme last year." About the anti-Semitism in the UK Labour party which was used as a hammer in the last elections. And while the apology and payments are a good thing, unless heads roll at the top, it's mostly window dressing.

"President Trump issued a directive Tuesday instructing the U.S. Census Bureau to not count undocumented immigrants for purposes of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives, targeting states like California, Texas and New York with large communities of residents who lack a legal immigration status." Yeah, there's this little thing called the Constitution which countermands that order. But he expects this will play well to his base and will play in the background when he says this election was "rigged" against him.

"The body of a Fort Hood soldier was found by a lake near the military installation, officials announced Tuesday, marking the third time in a month that remains of a service member from the Texas base have been found."

"Senate Republicans plan to include a second round of direct payments, or stimulus checks, for Americans in the next coronavirus relief package, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday… The details of the final proposal remain a work in progress, with White House negotiations and Republicans shuffling back and forth to meetings throughout the day in an effort to coalesce around a unified overall plan in the range of $1 trillion."

"Senate Republicans and the White House remain at odds over several central components of their next stimulus proposal after a full day of negotiations on Capitol Hill… With fewer than three weeks to go until the August recess -- and with the virus still ravaging many corners of the country -- Tuesday's negotiations marked little progress, and instead evolved into a day of venting sessions for rank-and-file members, each with his or her own idea of how to tackle the next chapter of spending. It all comes just days before a $600 federal enhancement to unemployment insurance is set to expire." Note they haven't even begun to include Democrats in the negotiations.

"Beset by internal divisions and clashes with the Trump administration, Senate Republicans downplayed the prospects Tuesday of enacting new coronavirus relief before key programs like boosted unemployment payments expire." And now we'll see who is a kool-aid drinker and who still has a functioning brain. Also note the pre-emptive "it's all Democrats fault for not passing my bill" language from McConnell.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Sen. Rand Paul slammed Republican colleagues on Tuesday after leaving a coronavirus stimulus bill negotiating session, venting that he could have been in a meeting with 'Bernie Bros' while claiming there are no fiscal conservatives left in the Senate… There is 'no difference' between the Democratic and Republican parties when it comes to spending, he said." The start of the "fiscal conservative" retrenchment. They aren't. They never have been. And there are huge differences between the parties. This is also throwing sand into the bull's eye for the next election.

"Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was arrested Tuesday morning ahead of an announcement about a $60 million federal racketeering case related to Ohio’s new nuclear bailout law, according to sources and media reports." Larry got the job because he was supposed to help break the corruption in Columbus. Apparently it was just that he wanted his check first. You might remember me talking about HB6, the bill that created surcharges to Ohioans' electric bills to support FirstEnergy's nuclear power plants (for which we have already paid twice). There was a vicious fight over a voter initiative to repeal the law. Yes, the republicans took money to screw the citizens of the state. Fuckers.

And this morning… "Now, two GOP lawmakers and a slew of Democrats are working on a way to repeal House Bill 6." Two. The Ohio legislature is dominated by Republicans. Also, HB6 had several other onerous positions. "The law is now on Ohio’s books. Starting Jan. 1, Ohioans will pay 85 cents a month on their electric bills, raising about $150 million a year for the two nuclear plans outside Toledo and Cleveland." It also increased setbacks for wind generation stations, repealed all mandatory clean energy goals, and also supported several coal-fired power plants. "But repealing the measure could be a challenge. For one, it’s not clear when the Ohio House of Representatives will meet next or who will lead them when they do." Expect to see a lot of shamed faces on the news, but not a lot of action on the floor. Fuckers.

"In a brief but heated exchange, which was overheard by a reporter, Yoho told Ocasio-Cortez she was 'disgusting' for recently suggesting that poverty and unemployment are driving a spike in crime in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic… 'Fucking bitch,' he said." He seems nice. And they wonder why we call them "deplorable." Rep. Yoho then went on to not apologize "for his passion." Fair. Rep. Yoho adequately represents the cousin-fuckers, racists, and generally low-brow asshole electorate in this country. Sorry man, "I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my god, my family and my country," fucker.

"While law enforcement violating civil rights is sadly not new, Trump appears to be trying to do something novel in this country: establishing a force like interior ministries in other countries. The United States has a Department of the Interior, but it is unlike most agencies with that name around the world. Here, it oversees units such as the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Geological Survey. But in many countries, the ministry’s role is much broader and more powerful: Its role is to oversee the interior of the country."

"Announced with much fanfare, (Ivanka Trump's “Find Something New”) program amounts to a website with links. Seriously. That’s all it is. There are links to one of those handouts high school guidance counselors give you, asking if you want to work outdoors or in an office, or if you like ideas or working under pressure. There’s a link to the entire Occupational Outlook Handbook of the Department of Labor that lists every job title in the country and tells you if it’s growing or shrinking. (Animal trainer, I was surprised to learn, is growing faster than average!) There are links to community colleges, and links to a few big corporations that say they want to help people find work. There are a lot of links, but none to any actual jobs that are open… For all its laziness and uselessness, the site is a perfect distillation of a lot of the inherited, poorly thought-through ideas that govern much career advice." (Grokked from Coca)

"The message: be afraid, be very afraid… The newest ad from Trump's campaign is a very dramatic dramatization of an older white woman calling 9-1-1 when she sees an intruder. But no one is there to answer her call for help. As she is attacked, the words 'You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America' flash on the screen." Since they lost the anti-gay fight and terrorism just isn't the boogie man it was before, it's the only lever conservatives have left. Also this… "'Your home will go down in value and crime rates will rapidly rise,' (Trump) said. 'People have worked all their lives to get into a community, and now they're going to watch it go to hell. Not going to happen, not while I'm here.'… That kind of racial view, pitting whites in the suburbs against Blacks and Latinos who might move in, is an appeal that seems to stem from an anachronistic view of the suburbs." Just a reminder Trump and company have been sued several times for blocking minority families from renting.

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