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

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Linkee-poo Weekend

"Nasa's Perseverance rover, due to launch to Mars this summer, will search an ancient crater lake for signs of past life. But if biology ever emerged on the Red Planet, how will scientists recognise it? Here, deputy project scientist Ken Williford explains what they're looking for."

"The outcome could be legislation that seeks to rein in the market power of these giants, limiting their ability to create monopolies. Or it could turn out to be one more theatrical tech hearing in a series of them, where members of Congress look to score points with gotcha-style questioning as CEOs furrow their brows and promise that a member of their teams will follow up on that later." I'm going for the latter.

"Long-time friends Joe Feeney and Tom Cook made a pact in 1992 - sealed with a handshake - that if one of them won the US Powerball lottery they would share it… Nearly 30 years later the numbers came up for Tom - and he honoured the deal."

There's all this great news about progress with vaccines for COVID-19, right? Hang on a second. "The race is on to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and some companies and investors are betting that the winners stand to earn vast profits from selling hundreds of millions — or even billions — of doses to a desperate public… Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members are capitalizing on that dynamic… After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies — most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug — have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March… And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before market-moving announcements about their vaccine progress." Ta-da! Welcome to late stage capitalism where all that matters is the appearance of prosperity.

"Moderna Inc has lost the bid to invalidate a key patent related to the development of several of its next-generation vaccines, including one meant for coronavirus, to Arbutus Biopharma Corp, Reuters reported."

"But scientists are increasingly of the view that this virus will not disappear. In interviews and correspondence with more than a dozen researchers around the world, NPR found that the vast majority believes the virus will persist at some level for a long time in places like the U.S. and Europe."

"This month, Stephen Miller, the extremist anti-immigrant Trump adviser who has promoted white nationalist ideas, lost a relative to the coronavirus pandemic, and his uncle tells Mother Jones that the Trump administration is partly to blame for this death." They're even denying how their own family members are dying.

"President Donald Trump says the country is doing great in a pandemic that just infected its four millionth US victim and is killing 1,000 people a day. But his claim is based on a brazen confidence trick, requiring Americans to ignore his responsibility for the spike in the southern and western states as he claims credit for the success of northeastern states that suppressed the disease after not heeding his advice to reopen before the virus was under control… And that might not even be the most outrageous thing the President said at his third briefing in as many days."

"It's time to hit the reset button: Shut it down and restart. That's what more than 150 health professionals are urging government leaders in an open letter published earlier this week." Yeah, that ain't gonna happen.

"Public schools should delay reopening in coronavirus hotspots, but should open fully if they want to receive tens of billions of dollars in new federal aid, President Trump said in a White House briefing." Can't have it both ways, Sparky. Also, "He had previously called the existing guidance 'very tough & expensive,' while Vice President Mike Pence said 'we don't want the guidance from CDC to be a reason why schools don't open.'" Because who wants to follow the guidance of the experts who just want to keep us alive?

"A federal judge has temporarily blocked federal law enforcement officers deployed to Portland, Ore., from targeting journalists and legal observers at the protests against police violence and racial injustice that have intensified in recent days." And then they continued to target them.

"Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced late Thursday that a 'limited number' of federal agents have been sent to Seattle, reports CBS Portland, Oregon affiliate KOIN-TV… Seattle wasn't mentioned when President Trump said earlier Thursday that he'll send federal agents into Chicago and Albuquerque to help combat rising crime, or in a subsequent White House news release saying the program would be expanded in the next few weeks into Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee, as well."

A twitter thread about continuing Facebook manipulation, this time to make it seem like Chicagoans want federal troops.

"Hoping to avoid another high-profile confrontation between police and protesters like the clash that happened last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the statues of Christopher Columbus removed from Chicago’s Grant and Arrigo parks overnight."

"Van Spronsen's belief in militancy to fight injustice showed up in his song lyrics and street protests. Eventually, friends say, it shaped what they call his 'final action,' which began around 4 a.m. that July 13. Armed with a semiautomatic rifle, authorities say, van Spronsen crept onto the grounds of a sprawling immigration jail, set his car on fire, tossed Molotov cocktails and died in a hail of police bullets." Thats one, expect to hear about tit ad nauseam as justification for what Trump is doing.

Who needs a competent government and strict business regulations? "FDA is warning consumers and health care providers that the agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested… The agency is aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that has led to recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations and death."

"The White House is lifting a months-long ban on residents of New York state from taking part in a federal program to streamline passenger security checks at airports and international borders, after the Department of Homeland Security admitted that it made false statements responding to a lawsuit brought by the state over the issue." Because they can't get what they want unless they lie. "In the DHS statement (about restoring NYers access to the program), Wolf said the department appreciates the information-sharing now possible with the amended law. 'Nonetheless, local New York law continues to maintain provisions that undermine the security of the American people and purport to criminalize information sharing between law enforcement entities.'" Fuck this guy.

"Earlier this month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students attending universities that switch to online-only courses in the fall would be required to leave the United States. By threatening student visas, the Trump administration, which has been pushing to reopen businesses and schools despite the continuing pandemic, was widely seen as pressuring colleges to resume in-person classes. If implemented, the visa policy could have driven away thousands of brilliant minds—the brainpower that, for decades, has proved essential to entrepreneurship and technological innovation in the United States." There goes a generation of technological innovation. Oh they'll still probably do it, just not in the USA.

"In the three and a half weeks since the enactment of the law at the end of June, a sense of fear and uncertainty has taken hold in Hong Kong, where anything seen to provoke hatred against the Chinese government is now punishable with up to life in prison. Some people have redacted their social media posts and erased messaging app histories. Journalists have scrubbed their names from digital archives. Books are being purged from libraries. Shops have dismantled walls of Post-it Notes bearing pro-democracy messages, while activists have resorted to codes to express protest chants suddenly outlawed."

"The US has charged four Chinese nationals with visa fraud for allegedly lying about their membership of China's armed forces… Three are under arrest while the FBI is seeking to arrest the fourth, who is said to be in China's San Francisco consulate."

"The US military on Thursday confirmed that one of its fighter jets had flown within a few thousand feet of an Iranian commercial aircraft over Syria to 'inspect it,' after Iranian state media released videos showing apparently shaken and injured passengers."

"Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., took to the House floor Thursday morning to admonish the insults hurled at her by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., earlier this week… Yoho confronted Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, Ocasio-Cortez said, calling her 'disgusting' for linking poverty to crime rates in New York City." Yeah that wasn't the insult she was talking about.

"Mail deliveries could be delayed by a day or more under cost-cutting efforts being imposed by the new postmaster general. The plan eliminates overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and says employees must adopt a 'different mindset' to ensure the Postal Service’s survival during the coronavirus pandemic." The GOP continues their plan to kill off and privatize the US Mail.

"'REQUEST YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT TODAY,' reads a mailer sent to North Carolina Republicans earlier this week by the North Carolina Trump Victory campaign, the Trump campaign’s joint field operation with the Republican National Committee in the state. The mailer, part of a push to contact more than three million voters in the state, calls voting by mail 'easy and secure,' and urges recipients to use the 'Official Republican Party Absentee Ballot Application to safely and securely request your ballot.'" Seems kinda odd for a party whose leader thinks vote by mail can be rigged.

"In a campaign year marked by a global pandemic, a recession and a national wave of protests, it’s easy to forget that this whole election season began with an absolute debacle when it came to the simple act of voting." For a party who likes to tout the support of the "silent majority", they sure are working hard to keep everyone from voting.

"President Donald Trump on Thursday moved to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida, portions of the Republican National Convention, scheduled for August, citing the threat of the coronavirus." And then conservatives rally around the president's "strong" decision.

"Lisa Kenna, Pompeo's executive secretary — a gatekeeper of sorts to his office — told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she was unaware of the substance of Giuliani's outreach at the time, but now knows it was an effort to discredit Yovanovitch. Giuliani made calls and delivered documents to Pompeo that came from Ukrainian figures viewed as corrupt by the State Department."

"Mary Trump said she was devastated when her uncle was elected president: 'I knew he was unfit,' she said. 'And whether other people knew that aspect of the situation or not, they certainly had ample evidence that he was sexist, if not misogynist, racist and not truthful about his alleged success in business.'"

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