What if Kurzweil doesn't make it?
What if all the switches get stuck on destroy?
When the shuttle goes, we won't take it
When the final counter-measures are deployed
All we'll have is all this time

Monday, August 31, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday

Just a short one.

"Hundreds of demonstrators, many not wearing masks, came to the Massachusetts State House on Sunday to oppose a new state rule that requires flu shots for school children, CBS Boston reports. Earlier this month, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced what is believed to be the first such requirement in the country earlier this month." You have the freedom to homeschool. "Twitter on Sunday removed a tweet shared by President Trump that contained false information about coronavirus statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the company saying it violated its rules." "More than a day after a man was shot and killed in downtown Portland Saturday night, as President Donald Trump supporters clashed with protesters against police, few details have emerged about what took place." "Witnesses describe the night Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire during protests in Kenosha." Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth it's time for you to leave. "According to a report from the Religion News Service, a website dedicated to raising funds for Christian endeavors has allowed supporters of accused Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse to accumulate over $250,000 for his defense." "India has accused China of violating the border consensus reached between them during recent peace talks… It said Chinese troops carried out 'provocative military movements' to change the status quo in Ladakh." "President Trump's campaign to discourage the use of mail-in voting this fall is raising concerns among Republicans, particularly in the key swing state of Wisconsin, that his efforts could hinder their party on election night."

The good fight

Sorry, spent my morning reading time fighting QAnon lunacy (which is part of their plan, to waste time and soak up energy of the opposition). Might have a small linkee-poo later.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Linkee-poo weekend

Chadwick Boseman, and so it goes.

"Firefighters increased containment on at least two of the major complex fires ravaging the Bay Area, as officials work to continue lifting evacuation warnings and allowing residents back into their homes in Felton and Davenport."

"Fishermen battled on Sunday to save dozens of injured dolphins washed ashore in Mauritius where in recent days at least 40 of the animals were found dead in a lagoon near the site of an oil spill from a Japanese bulk carrier which struck a coral reef."

"Water covers 70 percent of the Earth's surface and is crucial to life as we know it, but how it got here has been a longstanding scientific debate… The puzzle was a step closer to being solved Thursday after a French team reported in the journal Science they had identified which space rocks were responsible, and suggested our planet has been wet ever since it formed."

"A consensus is building among public health experts that it’s better to keep university students on campus after a Covid-19 outbreak rather than send them home as many are doing… It’s easier to isolate sick or exposed students and trace their contacts if they stay put, said Ravina Kullar, epidemiologist and spokesperson for Infectious Diseases Society of America. Sending students home risks exposing other people there as well as along the way, and makes contact tracing all but impossible." Jazz hands! But then comes the problems of liability.

"More than half of 50,307 college students who participated in the American College Health Association's Spring 2020 National College Health Assessment reported receiving mental health services from their current campus health or counseling center in the last year. Those numbers are expected to dramatically increase as students return to college this fall, experts predict." Another aspect go how to deliver services we've demanded schools be the provider for when schools are no longer in person.

"Veteran K-12 teachers in states across the U.S. are resigning and retiring at higher rates as schools begin reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic this fall, with educators citing the stress tied to remote learning, technical difficulties and COVID-19 health concerns."

"But a ten-fold surge in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations over the last month has triggered new shutdown orders and a scramble to bolster the public health measures state officials neglected before reopening. When the state was locked down and caseloads were smaller, a key to Hawaii’s success was quick testing and contact tracing to find people exposed to the virus. But failure to build up that capacity for reopening, along with growing public complacency around social distancing measures, allowed the outbreak to spiral out of control, say numerous state officials — including many from Ige’s party." And if you don't think the people in healthcare are also growing complacent, I've got news for you.

"White vigilantes and far-right actors have shown up to oppose Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. at least 497 times this year, according to data collected by Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right. He started gathering data on May 27, two days after police in Minneapolis killed George Floyd, and continued through this week."

"A person was shot and killed in downtown Portland Saturday night as a pro-Trump car caravan wound its way through city streets, clashing with counterprotesters along the way. It is uncertain whether the shooting is directly connected to the competing protests, but what became clear late Saturday night was that it likely soon will be."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Trump rails against 'incompetent' Portland mayor, says 'backlash' involving supporters not 'unexpected'."

"'It’s just going to keep going, people have a lot of anger with the police. People are frustrated with the system,' Demaag, 45, said standing outside the charred remains of his former furniture store (in downtown Minneapolis). 'The minute we have this anger, people are going to hijack it and do other stuff again, the same thing. It’s a very scary situation.'"

"Though concerns about instability in the Middle East dominated most public discussions on counterterrorism, about 80 percent of the leaders at the conference ranked far-right extremism among their top concerns." And statistics would show they were correct to be concerned.

"On Saturday, more than 200 cities from Spokane to Scranton saw modest rallies for a cause so pure, so unifying, that who in their right mind wouldn’t want to join in? 'Save the children' was the chant and child trafficking the scourge. But lately it is a movement being hijacked from within, which is just the latest instance of the QAnon conspiracy theory spilling out of its online domain. This we know from reporting by NBC News investigative reporter Brandy Zadrozny, along with reporter Ben Collins. In this podcast extra, Zadrozny explains how these rallies function as 'information laundering,' and how local journalists have inadvertantly taken part in QAnon's recruitment strategy."

"The ruler of the United Arab Emirates has formally ended the country's boycott of Israel, marking one more step toward normalized relations between the two countries following a U.S.-brokered deal earlier this month."

"Authorities in Belarus have deported some foreign journalists reporting in the country and withdrawn the accreditation of many Belarusian reporters covering large anti-government protests that erupted after a disputed presidential election earlier this month."

"Montenegrins are voting in a parliamentary election that is pitting the country's long-ruling pro-Western party against an opposition seeking closer ties with Serbia and Russia." Waves to my Russian friends.

"Statistics show that some crime has been increasing in big cities, with mayors who are Democrats and Republicans. According to figures compiled by data analyst and consultant Jeff Asher, the murder rate this year has increased by 26% through July, compared with a year ago. Other violent crimes are up slightly, while property crimes are down by 7.7%… This is a reversal of longer-term trends, in which violent crimes have been generally declining since the '90s." And this has happened on whose watch? A comparison of the records between Trump/Pence and Biden/Harris.

"The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will stop providing in-person briefings on election security and foreign interference to Congress, according to congressional and intelligence officials, and instead will provide 'primarily' written updates ahead of the November election."

"House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday it is possible the House could subpoena intelligence officials to testify on election interference, a day after Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed members of Congress that the nation's top intelligence office will no longer deliver in-person briefings on election security issues." It's the battle of leakers and spin doctors. Here's my takeaway; the charge of "leaking" is spurious, and it's simply the office of the president doesn't want the public to know (until they have to say the election was rigged).

"Trump continues to break the polling." Your vote matters. Go vote.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday

"Remnants of Hurricane Laura unleashed heavy rain and twisters hundreds of miles inland from a path of death and mangled buildings along the Gulf Coast, and forecasters warned an eastern turn would again make the storm a looming threat, this time to the densely populated Eastern Seaboard."

"A chemical plant in Westlake, La., that caught fire during Hurricane Laura is still burning Thursday evening."

"The upshot of climate change is that everyone alive is destined to experience unprecedented disasters. The most powerful hurricanes, the most intense wildfires, the most prolonged heat waves and the most frequent outbreaks of new diseases are all in our future. Records will be broken, again and again… But the predicted destruction is still shocking when it unfolds at the same time." That's not what "upshot" means.

"The United States, Japan, Britain and the European Union have struck their own deals to secure millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for their citizens, ignoring the U.N. body’s warnings that 'vaccine nationalism' will squeeze supplies." Note that we don't know if any of them will work.

The problem with remote classes, "While all parents in the Geauga Local School District don’t have that luxury because of access to a good internet connection, the district is working to change that… In Geauga County, according to Connected Nation Ohio, 21.25% of residents don’t have internet access." Geauga, while "rural" is still a fairly wealthy county.

"Anthony Huber was armed with nothing but his skateboard when he spotted an armed person among a crowded street in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but he still ran toward the danger, his girlfriend says."

"Over the last three months in Portland, mass protests against police violence and racism gradually gave way to nightly often violent standoffs between a core of pro-Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist protesters and law enforcement… But in the past week the city has fallen back into a pattern of more politically polarized street violence which has marked the city throughout the Trump era, with broadly leftwing and anti-fascist activists sometimes facing off against far-right groups."

"Nightly protests passed their 90th day this week. Over the course of nearly three months, crowd sizes have at times exceeded 10,000 people and on other occasions been fewer than 100. Between May 29 and Aug. 27, the Portland Police Bureau declared 23 riots and 22 unlawful assemblies (that doesn't include nights that started as unlawful assemblies and were later declared riots). But the laws governing those declarations are vague and have roots in Oregon's deeply racist past."

"White supremacist groups have infiltrated US law enforcement agencies in every region of the country over the last two decades, according to a new report about the ties between police and far-right vigilante groups… In a timely new analysis, Michael German, a former FBI special agent who has written extensively on the ways that US law enforcement have failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats, concludes that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content."

"The Milwaukee Bucks walked out. The Orlando Magic followed. So did the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. The WNBA players walked out, but not before gathering and speaking and sporting haunting white T-shirts each designed with a letter of Blake's name on the front and seven bullet holes on the back -- the number of times and the location where Kenosha police shot Blake."

"Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell unveiled a new framework of thinking for the central bank that will tolerate inflation “moderately” above its 2% target. The Fed also committed to reviewing this policy every five years." Fuck. No.

"U.S. consumers increased their spending by 1.9% last month, a dose of support for an economy struggling to emerge from the grip of a pandemic that has held back a recovery and kept roughly 27 million people jobless… The July gain marked the third straight monthly increase in consumer spending, the primary driver of the U.S. economy, but represented a slowdown from the previous two months. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that income rose 0.4% in July after two months of declines."

"Despite the steepest plunge into a recession on record, historically high unemployment and an uncertain outlook for the economy, the housing market is on a tear."

"A taxi driver wanted on suspicion of murdering his teen daughters has been arrested after 12 years on the run… A warrant for Yaser Abdel Said's arrest was issued the day after the 2008 shootings of his daughters, Sarah Yaser Said, 17, and Amina Yaser Said, 18… The Egyptian-born suspect was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives in 2014."

"Two people were charged in Newton County among nine total suspects following a two-week operation this month in Atlanta and Macon to rescue endangered missing children… The U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, in conjunction with the agency’s Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Georgia state and local agencies, led Operation Not Forgotten, a news release stated."

"Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in history, has resigned, citing health reasons."

"The British street artist Banksy has financed a boat to rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from north Africa, the Guardian can reveal… The vessel, named Louise Michel after a French feminist anarchist, set off in secrecy on 18 August from the Spanish seaport of Burriana, near Valencia, and is now in the central Mediterranean where on Thursday it rescued 89 people in distress, including 14 women and four children."

"Bahrain's king has told visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Gulf state is committed to the creation of a Palestinian state, according to state media, in an implicit rejection of Washington's push for Arab countries to swiftly normalise ties with Israel."

"El Al Airlines will on Monday fly Israel’s first flight to the United Arab Emirates by a commercial carrier, an airline spokesman confirmed on Friday, as the countries forge ahead with a deal to normalise ties."

"China launched a series of ballistic missiles into the South China Sea this week, according to United States defense officials, part of a flurry of military exercises extending thousands of miles along the country's coastline, as tensions with Washington over the disputed waterway continue to escalate."

"The Chinese military said it forced a U.S. warship away from disputed islands in the South China Sea, where both sides have defied military warnings to stay out of sensitive areas amid heightened military tensions between the two powers."

"The Trump administration is pushing dramatic changes to the American retirement system that will benefit Wall Street but push average citizens into plans that are riskier, less profitable, and loaded with high and hidden fees… In the past two months, the Trump’s Labor Department has introduced two pending changes to deregulate vulturous private equity firms and multi-trillion dollar retirement managers like Vanguard, Fidelity, and BlackRock. A third proposed change would restrict retirement investments with an underlying environmental, social, or governance mission — mainly to boost the struggling fossil-fuel industry." The corruption and graft is appalling.

"Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was confronted by a group of protesters outside the White House with police intervening amid tense scenes following night four of the Republican National Convention."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he was attacked by a "crazed mob" of more than 100 people after leaving the White House following President Trump's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention." I guess being called on being a dick is now "being attacked."

"Republicans wrapped up their four-day convention Thursday having achieved much of what they sought to do: renominating President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on the November ballot, energizing the party's base and portraying Democratic nominee Joe Biden as a pawn of a leftist movement that would destroy America."

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday

"'Extremely dangerous' Hurricane Laura made landfall overnight near Cameron, Louisiana, bringing 'catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding' to portions of the state, the National Hurricane Center said early Thursday. The storm had intensified rapidly into a Category 4 hurricane before slamming into the Gulf Coast near the Louisiana-Texas border."

"Flash flooding in Afghanistan's Parwan province has killed at least 86 people and injured at least 106, according to Rahmatullah Haidari, deputy spokesman for the governor of the province… Officials in in the disaster management ministry said that torrential rain earlier this week triggered flash flooding in the country's Parwan province -- which borders Kabul -- Reuters news agency reported."

"On Wednesday, new research from the Tanpopo team was published in Frontiers in Microbiology that details how multiple species of Deinococcus bacteria survived three straight years of exposure to the hostile space environment. This type of bacteria is renowned for its unusual ability to resist genetic damage from high doses of ultraviolet radiation, which classes it among other so-called “extremophiles” like tardigrades. But researchers weren’t sure exactly how it pulled off this feat."

I'm catching up on some podcasts, this is from April… "As the coronavirus continues to devastate communities across the globe, the Trump administration and right-wing propagandists work to recast the White House response and redirect the blame. This week, On The Media considers partisan revisionist history in the White House briefing room and beyond. Plus, a peek inside the thorny world of infectious disease modeling."

"A sudden change in federal guidelines on coronavirus testing came this week as a result of pressure from the upper ranks of the Trump administration, a federal health official close to the process tells CNN, and a key White House coronavirus task force member was not part of the meeting when the new guidelines were discussed… 'It's coming from the top down,' the official said of the new directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

"A Kentucky man accused of breaking Canada's coronavirus rules — twice — could be forced to pay a $569,000 fine ($750,000 Canadian), spend up to six months in prison, or both."

"To answer this question (about COVID exploiting the existing fractures in our society, bot causing them), we talked to Ed Yong, a science writer for the Atlantic who has spent the past seven months covering COVID-19. In his September cover story for the magazine, titled 'How the Pandemic Defeated America,' he says it's the inequities that have been with us for generations that made the U.S. so vulnerable to the virus. Below is an excerpt from our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity."

"Devices like those are nothing new, but the pandemic-borne surge of interest in them is raising alarms, because UVC light is a known carcinogen, and even a few moments of direct exposure can be hazardous to the eyes and skin… Now, as research into UVC and the coronavirus continues, regulators, industry leaders and safety science professionals are urging caution. Here's what you need to know -- the science, the safety risks and everything experts say you should take into consideration before bringing any UVC-powered light source into your home." I'm not sure if I shared the "UVC light is a safe alternative" story that was out about a month ago (the premise being that UVC can't penetrate that far into the skin). No it's not. There are 3 components to the dangers of ionizing radiation (that is, radiation that can change the valence of atoms, knocking electrons off of the outer and inner shells); wavelength (the physical property of the energy), voltage (measured in kVp or "kilovoltage potential" for generation, this regulates how far the radiation can penetrate and can also affect wavelength, the higher the kVp, the shorter the wavelength), and time (for x-rays we measure in milliseconds). Those are all generalizations. Is is possible to create ionizing radiation that doesn't penetrate too far? Yes. Radiation with lower voltage doesn't penetrate too far. When we create x-rays we generate them at a lot of voltage ranges (that's the "potential" part). For diagnostic x-rays we shield/filter the beam to eliminate these low-end rays because they're not diagnostic, they don't penetrate to our detector/film through the body, and all they do is deposit energy into the tissues of the patient. That energy is harmful, so we try to eliminate it. What the proponents of far-UVC light are saying (hoping) talks about transmission windows. That the specific wavelength of their light does not transmit through the skin or water covering of the eye. And that might be true, however that means all of the photon's energy is being deposited in the area that is attenuating the beam (basically, whatever is blocking the light will absorb all it's energy, this is why items that are black warm up faster in sunlight than items that are white). So let's say water is the idea block for far-UVC (which it would appear), your outer skin does not have a lot of water, so that energy is penetrating deeper than they are thinking. With x-ray radiation we use lead as shielding. Why? Because lead is ideal, the inner shell of electrons has the right valence to absorb the wavelengths and energies we use in diagnostic x-ray. Is it perfect? Not in the slightest (gold is actually better), but lead absorbs most of the energy (you can read that thinking some of the x-rays make it through the lead shield) without producing too much scatter radiation (lead is also used because it's cheaper). Now you can translate what people are saying about far-UVC.

"So they brought her to the University of Virginia's hospital for a complete pulmonology and cardiac work-up and a VO2 max test. The result? Reese learned she did have exercise-induced asthma, but she also had a lesser-known condition that affects how much air you inhale. It's called exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction or EILO… The condition often strikes young athletes and is frequently misdiagnosed as asthma."

"The suspect in the Kenosha, Wisconsin, fatal shooting is a former member of a youth police cadet program with an affinity for guns, according to police and online profiles."

"In another video recorded before the shootings, a teen who appears to be Rittenhouse says, 'I'm Kyle,' and describes himself as a member of a local 'militia' that was effectively protecting businesses in Kenosha… A third video again shows the teen armed with a gun and strolling among what appear to be uniformed police officers… In that video, the law-enforcement personnel thank the teen and others in plainclothes and toss them bottles of water from a circular door that pops open from the top of an armored vehicle… 'We appreciate you guys, we really do,' a man says to the group through a speaker on the armored truck."

"On Wednesday, the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks decided not to play their playoff game against the Orlando Magic to protest Sunday's police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Wisconsin. Following the Bucks' decision, the NBA announced all three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday were postponed."

"Officials in Kalamazoo have apologized for the arrest of a Black reporter who was covering a Proud Boys rally and counterprotests on Saturday, according to affiliate reports… In video taken by Robinson, the journalist could be heard telling officers several times that he was a member of the media as he was arrested with his identification lanyard around his neck."

"The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits for the first time came in above 1 million for the 22nd time in 23 weeks as the economy struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the Labor Department said Thursday."

"Now, Realtor.com has become the first site to disclose information about a home's flood risk and how climate change could increase that risk in the coming decades, potentially signaling a major shift in consumers' access to information about climate threats." Goodbye Florida real estate market.

"Now, the Department of Housing and Urban Development says it will extend a ban on evictions in single-family houses with mortgages issued by the Federal Housing Administration, Politico reported this week. Indeed, that protection would be far narrower than the now-expired eviction moratorium in the CARES Act, which also included properties backed by government-sponsored lenders Fannie May and Freddie Mac, and was estimated to have covered nearly a third of the country’s rental units."

"Sprinkled throughout the Midwest, including in remote areas — O.U. is in southern Ohio, in the foothills of Appalachia — these schools were built to educate locals and serve as regional economic engines. But after seeking national profiles to attract out-of-state students in a bid for more tuition dollars — and financial survival — there is now 'a lot of hand-wringing around "what are we supposed to be?"' said Christina Ciocca Eller, an assistant professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University who studies regional public universities. 'There is big tension over purpose and identity.'" Whispers, it's not just the small colleges and universities. The rise of the MBA into all management positions is still the drain on the economy.

"U.S. Postal Service customers across the country have been receiving a notification that often alarms and perplexes them: The message says packages they expected delivered to their home or business are being held at a post office 'at the request of the customer.'… But customers who are receiving these notifications never requested that their mail be held."

"Ammon Bundy, who led an armed standoff against federal agents in Oregon in 2016, was arrested at the Idaho state Capitol for trespassing and other charges after a protest Tuesday afternoon."

"Authorities in Russia are reportedly moving forward with an investigation into the suspected poisoning of prominent opposition leader and outspoken Kremlin-critic Alexei Navalny." They're beginning the hunt for someone to fall (or be pushed) on their sword.

"The Russian and US governments have blamed each other for a collision between Russian and US armoured vehicles in north-eastern Syria in which several US troops were injured… Video of the collision was broadcast by a Russian nationalist website, Rusvesna.su, then widely retweeted."

"President Trump, in a tweet Tuesday, said he will nominate Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to be DHS secretary… The announcement comes less than two weeks after the Government Accountability Office concluded that Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of DHS deputy secretary, were not appointed through a valid process. They have been serving in their roles since November without Senate confirmation."

"CNN correspondent Brian Stelter says President Trump's 'cozy' relationship with Fox News is 'like nothing we've seen in American history.'… In his new book, Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, Stelter describes the president as a 'shadow producer' to Fox News host Sean Hannity — who, in turn, acts as a 'shadow chief of staff' for Trump."

"Ask any Republican strategist about the state of their party in 2020 and you'll get an answer something like this from GOP consultant Antonia Ferrier. 'This is Donald Trump's party,' she said, 'and I don't think that should be much of a surprise.'… To underscore the point, the Republican National Committee decided not to write a new party platform this year. Instead, ahead of this week's GOP convention, the committee unanimously approved a resolution stating that the party 'will continue to enthusiastically support the President's America-first agenda.'" It's a cult.

"The president reiterated that the 'only thing' he’s concerned about are 'unsolicited ballots, where they're going to send 80 million unsolicited ballots to people that they don't even know if they're alive or if they're living there. I think it is a catastrophic disaster for this country.'" Reporters missing the forest for the trees.

"The 'S' word is a charge Republicans have leveled against Democrats for decades, says Thomas Alan Schwartz, a Vanderbilt University history and political science professor… 'Democrats have tended, through regulation and other ways, to be more empowering of the federal government and in regulating the economy than the Republicans,' Schwartz says, 'and this has been called socialism.'" Socialism is not the "S" word (severe eye roll).

"US President Donald Trump has called for himself and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to submit to drug tests before their first debate next month… Mr Trump told the Washington Examiner he had noticed a sudden improvement in Mr Biden's performance in the Democratic TV debates… The president offered no evidence his rival might be on drugs other than to say: 'I'm pretty good at this stuff.'" He should be (given all the rumors of the president's use of Adderall).

"So at the shape-shifting Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Trump's most loyal subordinate Vice President Mike Pence had little option but to do what he does best. He twisted the facts, spun a more pleasing alternative national reality and showered his boss with praise." When all you've got are lies…

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Linkee-poo Wednesday

"Hurricane Laura is expected to be an 'extremely powerful Category 4 hurricane' with 'unsurvivable storm surge' when it reaches the Gulf Coast on Wednesday night and early Thursday, the hurricane center said in its 10 a.m. CDT update."

About that convalescent plasma EUA… "On Monday night, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn acknowledged that he had made a significant error in presenting the benefits of the treatment, and he followed that statement with an apology on Tuesday. But Hahn pushed back against indications that the approval of the treatment on the eve of the Republican National Convention was motivated by political pressure." The article talks about what the numbers actually meant and how statistics work in reality. While they come to the conclusion the EUA had enough to be authorized and released (the opposition to it's release from was outside the FDA by people asking to see randomized blind placebo testing done first), it's obvious this was a political move, not a healthcare move. (Grokked from John)

"The unflappable health care heroes of the current crisis are beginning to crack under the strain. Doctors, nurses and other professionals are not only fighting an intractable virus day after day, they're also coping with isolation, shifting official guidelines and limited ways to recharge." Unflappable, yeah, my Aunt Fanny. Not included here is the stress of constantly shifting guidelines and procedures handed down by hospital management which (IMHO) embodies and models the worst of management behavior. Sure, nice people, but I wouldn't want them in management and making those personnel and policy decisions (because, day-um).

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer recommending testing for everyone who’s been exposed to Covid-19, saying people who don’t have symptoms 'do not necessarily need a test.'… The agency quietly revised its testing guidance for asymptomatic individuals Monday, advising people who are vulnerable to the virus to get tested if they have been within 6 feet of an infected individual for at least 15 minutes." In case you want to know why the numbers are going down (whispers, we're doing less testing). Also, as a healthcare worker if I'm exposed (without full PPE), I'm to self-report any symptoms and if I do have symptoms to self-isolate for 14 days. There is no testing for us. Not surprising the numbers of infected healthcare workers continue to rise. "The CDC’s updated guidance still acknowledges that people can carry and spread the virus, even if they don’t have symptoms and feel healthy. In the CDC’s pandemic planning scenarios, the agency says its 'current best estimate' is that up to 50% of spread of the virus occurs before patients begin to experience symptoms." But we're not going to test those people or mandate mask wearing.

"The current guidance for safe social distancing may not be enough to stop the spread of COVID-19, a new analysis suggests… In the report, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Oxford say other factors, such as ventilation, crowd size, exposure time and whether face coverings are worn, need to be considered, as well." Ta-da!

On the shooting last night… "Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told The New York Times his office is investigating whether the shooting resulted from a conflict between demonstrators and a group of men with weapons who were protecting businesses."

On Bullshit Mountain… they have a video. Note how the police drive right by the guy carrying a gun, whom others where shouting "that dude just shot them…" While it's hard to tell, the guy looks white. Then Fox goes on to talk about all the violence the protestors are involved in. I'm sure they didn't mean to blame the victims here (side-eye).

"There’s good news for married people whose coronavirus stimulus payments were wrongly garnished to pay their spouse’s back child support… About 50,000 people whose payments were garnished will be getting their money after all."

"More than half of U.S. states have been approved for President Donald Trump's extra $300 in weekly jobless benefits. The aid is geared toward helping the 28.2 million workers who are currently collecting their states' regular unemployment benefits, which typically replaces only a fraction of a worker's regular income… The latest state to receive approval was Connecticut, which received the green light from FEMA on Monday. Another 29 states have also been given the nod from the federal agency. The aid is funded by $44 billion in funds allocated for natural disaster relief." Note news about hurricane season getting a little rougher and the ongoing fires in California. This $44 billion is the money set aside for those disasters.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi went on offense in her Republican Convention address, focusing on the Biden family and the political ties she says they benefited from… 'But, when you look at (Biden's) 47-year career in politics, the people who benefited are his family members, not the American people,' the Florida prosecutor continued." You may remember Bondi as the Florida AG who dropped her investigation of Trump University after a sizable donation to her re-election campaign came from the Trump Organization. Again, what they claim others have done is exactly what they themselves have done (and not in a "both sides" as in they project their crimes onto other innocent people). Also, for the GOP and specifically Trump's campaign to make this claims against others is just fucking hilarious.

"Mary Ann Mendoza was removed from her speaking slot just hours before she was set to appear at Tuesday night's Republican National Convention after she was found to have promoted a series of tweets positing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories… Mendoza is on the advisory board of President Trump's re-election campaign. She has been an outspoken advocate for Trump's immigration policies. Her son was killed in 2014 by a drunk driver who was an undocumented immigrant." The only vetting going on is how well they shout they love the president. Note she is also a raging Islamaphobic and a QAnon supporter. But I guess those weren't enough to get her kicked off the stage. Also note, she still has her job on the president's re-election campaign.

"'Whether it's defunding the police, ending cash bail so criminals can be released back out on the streets the same day to riot again, or encouraging anarchy on our streets,' Mark McCloskey said, 'it seems as if Democrats no longer view the government's job as protecting honest citizens from criminals, but rather protecting criminals from honest citizens.'… He added that "radicals" who marched outside of his home also want to 'walk the halls of Congress,' stating, 'This is Joe Biden's party. These are the people who will be in charge.'" You may remember Mark McCloskey as the raging lunatic waving an AR-15 at BLM protestors marching in front of his home.

The onslaught of bots posting about how they used to be Democrats, but became disillusioned (OMG we're Marxists now!) and switched to Republicanism has already started with hundreds of identical posts (word for word) from different accounts.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday

"Hurricane Laura will make landfall as a major hurricane, with winds of around 115 mph and a storm surge up to 11 feet, when it strikes near the Louisiana-Texas border late Wednesday or early Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center."

"Multiple fires are burning in Contra Costa County, Alameda County, Santa Clara County, Stanislaus County and San Joaquin County. Cal Fire is referring to them collectively as the SCU Lightning Complex. 'SCU' stands for Santa Clara Unit."

"Africa is to be declared free from wild polio by the independent body, the Africa Regional Certification Commission… Polio usually affects children under five, sometimes leading to irreversible paralysis. Death can occur when breathing muscles are affected… Twenty-five years ago thousands of children in Africa were paralysed by the virus… The disease is now only found in Afghanistan and Pakistan." Just as a measure, I x-rayed a US polio survivor the other day.

"New Covid-19 cases in the US may be on the decline but some officials across the country's heartland reported worrisome news this week… Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Monday the state had reached an 'unfortunate milestone' by reporting at least one case of the virus in every county." Whispers, testing is still a problem, and isn't it funny that now all reporting goes through a private company instead of the CDC that the numbers are trending down?

"President Trump announced on Sunday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed for the emergency use of an unproven treatment known as convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients, stating it can reduce the chances of dying in some by 35 percent. But scientists were quick to cast doubt on the claim, with one calling it 'outrageous.'" The press release could have had a little lees Ministry of Truth feel and more science (but they don't have the science yet).

"A man in Hong Kong has become the first confirmed patient to be infected with the coronavirus a second time, according to researchers at the University of Hong Kong… The finding suggests that some patients who recover from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, may have only short-lived immunity from reinfection. The case will likely also be significant for scientists who have been working on treatments using antibodies from recovered coronavirus patients, and those who have been scrambling to develop a safe and effective vaccine, though it’s too soon to draw any firm conclusions." He was infected by two different strains of the virus, which is worrying as viruses continually mutate. But they're trying their best to spin this as a positive.

"In Boise, the first day of Idaho's special legislative session erupted into chaos before it began. Dozens of unmasked protesters, some of them armed, shoved their way past state troopers to pack the gallery overlooking the state's House of Representatives… To enforce social distancing, the gallery area above the House chamber was restricted with limited seating. But after the confrontation with state troopers, which resulted in the shattering of a glass door, Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke relented and allowed protesters to fill every seat." I guess they weren't black. Maybe they politely broke the glass door? Again, America shows there are separate systems for her citizens of different ancestry.

The Pumpkin Spice hunters have returned early this year. The spice must flow.

"Best Buy on Tuesday reported strong second-quarter sales growth, helped by its biggest quarterly increase in online sales ever, as customers bought computers, kitchen appliances and other tech to help them work, cook and attend school at home during the coronavirus pandemic."

"Rescue workers pulled more than 60 people alive from the rubble of a collapsed building in an industrial town near India's financial capital Mumbai, a senior official told Reuters on Tuesday, as rescue efforts continued."

"Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has said he discussed his country's listing by the US as a state sponsor of terror with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his visit to Khartoum… Sudan wants to be removed from the list so sanctions can be lifted."

"The Kremlin has dismissed accusations that President Vladimir Putin sanctioned the poisoning of critic Alexei Navalny… Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the allegations were untrue and could not be taken seriously." Funny how he has to keep saying that.

"Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong is effectively running one of the most important political bodies in North Korea, officials in Seoul believe, according to South Korea's defense minister… The development, if true, likely further cements her status as the secretive country's second-most powerful figure."

"The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced on Sunday that it was forgoing a new party platform for 2020 in favor of simply rallying around President Donald Trump’s agenda… One day before the party’s convention was slated to begin, the RNC issued a resolution stating that the GOP 'has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda' and would not be adopting a new platform until the next convention in 2024." They also admitted that their platforms are basically bullshit. So, "what we said before was bullshit anyway, we're just gonna go with whatever the fuck the president decides, and we'll come up with new bullshit in 2024." Way to make a play, GOP.

"Political conventions are usually as much about a party’s next nominee as they are about its current flag-bearer. The Republican convention on Monday night featured a glimpse of the coming fight to define the post-Trump world: Will it look and sound more like Donald Trump Jr. or Nikki Haley?" We're out of cake. So my choice is "or death?" It's like the old Mounds versus Almond Joy commercials.

"When Mike Pompeo addresses the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, he’ll be solidifying his place as the most partisan secretary of state in decades — and tarnishing the proudly independent reputation of the agency he leads… The nation’s chief diplomat is on official travel to the Middle East to handle important foreign policy issues, namely how to strengthen a US-brokered deal to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Instead of spending all his time focused on those matters, though, Pompeo will also address voters back home, using the backdrop of the holy city of Jerusalem (very literally, as he’s expected to deliver a recorded message from a rooftop somewhere in the city) to boost the president’s reelection campaign." It's like a telethon. Also Pompeo signed memos specifically forbidding what he's doing tonight.

"In a claim likely to intensify the controversy surrounding one of the most influential figures in the American Christian conservative movement, a business partner of Jerry Falwell Jr has come forward to say he had a years-long sexual relationship involving Falwell’s wife and the evangelical leader." If Falwell wasn't so judgmental about others' sexual lives, I really wouldn't be posting this. But don't worry for Falwell, 1) he's richer that Croesus, and 2) there is a well defined roadmap back into the evangelical good graces (I used to do work for the Gospel music industry, it's a well known formula).

Monday, August 24, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday

"After a day as a hurricane, Tropical Storm Marco approached Louisiana for an expected landfall around midday Monday, while Tropical Storm Laura was forecast to move along Cuba's southern coast during the day before entering the Gulf of Mexico and heading toward the same stretch of U.S. coast later in the week, most likely as a hurricane and perhaps a powerful one."

"A lost medieval sacristy used by 13th century monks has been uncovered in the grounds of Westminster Abbey along with the bones of hundreds, if not thousands, of buried bodies." (Grokked from Deborah Beale)

"Massive stone structures in Saudi Arabia may be some of oldest monuments in the world."

"Mining giant Rio Tinto has cut the bonuses of three executives over the destruction of two ancient caves in Australia… In May, the world's biggest iron ore miner destroyed the sacred Aboriginal sites in Pilbara, Western Australia… The company went ahead with the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters despite the opposition of Aboriginal traditional owners… They were among the oldest historic sites in Australia." How about firing them? Or maybe having them arrested.

"While appearing as a delicate and light veil draped across the sky, this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope actually depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, located around 2400 light-years away. The name of the supernova remnant comes from its position in the northern constellation of Cygnus (The Swan), where it covers an area 36 times larger than the full moon."

"It's a simple little tool that's been used by doctors for decades, but the system of measuring Body Mass Index, or BMI, is increasingly coming under fire. Critics have denounced BMI as not just unreliable but sexist and racist, and even many clinicians who see value in it also recognize its flaws."

"The US Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19, saying the 'known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.'" They say it's not political, but you read the FDA press release and tell me this is not a political action. I'm old enough to remember hydroxychloroquine being the next great thing.

"Blood plasma treatment has cut Covid-19 mortality by 35%, Trump claimed on Sunday. However, results of the study by the Mayo Clinic that the FDA cited in its authorization of the treatment indicates that patients below age 80 who were not on a respirator and received plasma with a high level of antibodies within three days of diagnosis were about 35% more likely to survive another 30 days compared with patients who received plasma with a low level of antibodies. The study acknowledged, however, that its findings are limited, particularly because it did not have a placebo comparison."

How is COVID playing out politically? "The poll found that 31% of registered voters thought the U.S. death toll of 176,000 was 'acceptable' when evaluating the U.S. efforts against the coronavirus pandemic, a number that is buoyed by a 57% majority of Republican voters. Only 10% of Democrat voters thought the death toll was 'acceptable' and 67% of independents said it was 'unacceptable.'" Debating the acceptable amount of casualties. Just in case a conservative tries to tell you they're the party of Pro-Life.

"The coronavirus crisis will see the world’s biggest firms slash dividend payouts between 17%-23% this year or what could be as much as $400 billion, a new report has shown, although sectors such as tech are fighting the trend."

"The $400 in extra unemployment aid for millions of out-of-work Americans is actually $300 in most states. And it won’t arrive for weeks, experts warn… Americans may just get three weeks’ worth of payments, according to guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will run the relief program through its Disaster Relief Fund, following an executive action from President Donald Trump this month."

"City officials in tony Danbury, Connecticut, are slinging sludge back at the famous host of HBO's 'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.'… After Oliver tore into the town on his Aug. 16 show, the city's mayor posted a now-viral Facebook video vowing to name the town's sewage plant after the HBO talk-show host." But they're not really doing that. I'll be back, I'm just going to go make some more popcorn.

"Lukashenko has denied allegations of electoral fraud and maintained that he won the election fairly. The 65-year-old has also ruled out holding another vote and vowed to crush the unrest… The president was shown in state media footage flying over the protests in a helicopter on Sunday, before landing at his residence and emerging wearing body armor and carrying an assault rifle in his hand."

"The German government says it is 'fairly likely' that Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned and will therefore need special protection… Navalny is being treated in a Berlin hospital after falling ill on a flight from Siberia last week. He was transferred to the German capital from the Siberian city of Omsk on Saturday morning."

On the Media podcast with "Recently, the president threatened the post office — and with it, the November elections. On this week's On The Media, a look at how decades of cuts to the mail system led to this emergency. Plus, the 'birther' lie reared its ugly head once more — but this time, journalists were ready for it. And, the so-called 'rising stars' of the Republican Party."

"Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is back in the hot seat Monday, testifying before a House panel amid Democratic accusations he's doing President Donald Trump's bidding to harm Postal Service operations ahead of the November election."

"White House counselor Kellyanne Conway announced Sunday evening she will leave her post at the end of the month while her husband, George Conway, said he was withdrawing from The Lincoln Project, both citing a need to focus on their family."

"But there was an equally remarkable story buried on page 16 of the indictment, one that seems to me to require more transparency on the part of the government. The prosecutors wrote, 'On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate's opponent.'" The DOJ has refused 60 Minutes FOIA request. Expect a lawsuit soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Linkee-poo Weekend

If you're a long time reader, you'll know I hardly ever post links to GoFundMes, Kickstarters, Etsy stores, whatever. When I do it's because I believe in what those people are doing (and IIRC, I've really only been slightly wrong once, the kickstarted product works, it just took a hellofa long time to get produced and it only gave some modest benefit). For those I post I've usually already given them money (not 100% of the time, but mostly, I also don't post everything I give money to). I try not to do them close together, so I ask your forgiveness here in posting two within a week (the last one was for Nichelle Nicholes). But…

Jim Wright is asking for help. If you've been a long time reader you also know I post to many of Jim's writings. Jim is a good egg, as we used to say. In the past I've bought his woodworking, and I've been trying to get a pen of his for awhile (but, they're a little out of my price range, and when he has a sale with one that I like, it's gone before I can get to his Etsy, although I once was able to get one I liked in a shopping cart before it sold out). You can read in Jim's post what is going on.

"Well, 2020 keeps getting better all the time… Amid a pandemic, civil unrest and a divisive US election season, we now have an asteroid zooming toward us… On the day before the presidential vote, no less." It won't hit, but come on sweet release of global destruction! Actually it's too small to do more than take out a small city.

"The last time we saw NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission was on July 30, 2020, as it disappeared into the black of deep space on a trajectory for Mars. But with NASA's Eyes on the Solar System, you can follow in real time as humanity's most sophisticated rover - and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter traveling with it - treks millions of miles over the next six months to Jezero Crater."

"The Trump administration is planning to block the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska early next week, six people familiar with the plans told POLITICO, marking a surprise reversal that could be the death knell for the massive copper and gold project." This isn't a reversal of politics, it's a bandaid that can be reversed after the election.

"US President Donald Trump has declared that wildfires burning through homes and devastating precious forestry in California are a major disaster and he has released federal aid." My guess is he had little to do with it. But note the money he is releasing is the same money he earmarked for his unemployment relief. And why is California scrambling for bodies to help fight the fires? Because CalFire was bolstered by inmate workers and those inmates can't work because of COVID-19 concerns.

"Abruptly shifting much of the U.S. education system online in the middle of a pandemic was never going to be easy. But for students of color at some of the country’s largest school districts, the practical, technical, and emotional challenges are far more acute. Their lack of reliable internet access and technology is only the tip of the iceberg." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"President Donald Trump on Saturday suggested that his own FDA is making it difficult for drug companies to enroll people in clinical trials for vaccines and therapies to treat Covid-19, part of a 'deep state' plot to hinder his re-election prospects." No, he's starting to feel the heat that Russia and China have announced vaccines (although both haven't been through Stage 3 trials yet, and that's also where the US is at) and he's seeing how that appearance of being behind the curve may start to hurt him politically.

"Americans are sharing stories about medication delays with the hashtag #USPSMeds. Many are veterans who have reported weeks-long delays. Some are seniors who instead have to visit a pharmacy, putting them at higher risk of exposure to Covid-19… Geissel chose mail-order for the convenience — the nearest pharmacy is 20 minutes away — and the affordability. His insurance company covers more of the cost of the medication when it’s delivered by the U.S. postal service. Geissel has to pay a $135 copay for a months supply if he instead picks it up at a retail pharmacy." No, he didn't choose it for the convenience. He chose postal delivery because the insurance in punitive against in-person pharmacy visits and only begrudgingly allows them for emergency medications. Just like most of our insurance plans. Why? Because pharmaceuticals is to the health industry what fountain drinks are to the hospitality industry. They are huge money makers (most medications, before markups, are priced way below your typical copays, and when I say "markups" I mean markups of over 500%). And this is one of those things that the people who decided to sabotage the USPS had no concept would happen, and they have no concern over it now (except for the optics and proof of their actions).

"José Roberto Álvarez Mena, her dad, was one of thousands of essential workers who showed up to work as California saw a surge in coronavirus cases after partially reopening its economy earlier this summer. Álvarez Mena was working as the head of maintenance for Mission Foods Corp. in Commerce, California, when he tested positive to COVID-19 on June 28." When some people realize that "essential worker" means "expendable person."

"The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over in under two years… Speaking in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Spanish flu of 1918 had taken two years to overcome… But he added that current advances in technology could enable the world to halt the virus 'in a shorter time'." If it is halted in 2 years just realize we haven't made it 1 year yet.

"Police officers were hit by rocks and bottles during a protest in the Oregon city of Portland late on Saturday, police said, and there were clashes between rival groups of demonstrators in the city’s downtown area earlier in the day… In a Twitter post, police said early on Sunday they had declared a riot for the gathering around the Penumbra Kelly Building, a city building that houses offices including police."

"A former California police officer who became known as the notorious Golden State Killer said he was 'truly sorry' before he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on Friday… Joseph DeAngelo, 74, who confessed to 13 murders and dozens of rapes, terrorized the victims in the 1970s and '80s." He's truly sorry he was caught.

"Newfound freedom is part of the allure of going off to college, but COVID-19 changes things. At Oklahoma State University, the school tracks where students are at all times on campus to slow the spread of the disease… Oklahoma State tracks the location data of students and staff who are signed on to campus Wi-Fi routers. The school also uses student card swipes, campus purchases and course attendance to complete contact tracing." What's a little Big Brother between friends if it's supposed to help fight COVID-19 transmissions (note, it's not)?

"Gravely ill Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was evacuated to Germany for medical treatment on Saturday, flown out of the Siberian city of Omsk in an ambulance aircraft and taken to a hospital in Berlin."

"Photos (of) Belarus' massive and unprecedented protests."

"Allegations by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that 'foreign powers' are organising a build-up of troops on the country's border are baseless, says Nato."

"Libya's rival authorities have announced an immediate ceasefire… The Tripoli-based and internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) published a statement that also calls for elections in March next year… The truce was also agreed by an ally of Gen Khalifa Haftar, who controls large parts of the east and south of Libya."

"President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would send law enforcement officials to polling locations to guard against voter fraud in November's election, although it's not clear he has the authority to do so." Narrator's voice, he doesn't have the power to do this, and in some places it's illegal. And yes, it's just a intimidation tactic.

"The US Senate convened for a virtual hearing Friday for the testimony of US Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who is in the spotlight over sweeping changes he's made that could affect mail-in ballots in the upcoming presidential election. As Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware attempted to speak, he appeared to believe he was on mute when he voiced frustrations with the Webex videoconferencing software… 'F---, f---, f---!' Carper can be heard saying in a video. He then called someone in to help with the issue." It's a nothing burger of an interesting side-show. Oh look, old people have problems with semi-complicated and poorly designed human-interface software, and politicians can curse.

"Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday accused the Trump White House of covering up the role Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin played in recruiting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor with no prior experience working for the U.S. Postal Service."

"A California court ordered President Trump to pay $44,100 to Stephanie Clifford, the adult-film actress known as Stormy Daniels, to cover her legal fees regarding her nondisclosure agreement."

"An extraordinarily high number of ballots — more than 550,000 — have been rejected in this year's presidential primaries, according to a new analysis by NPR… That's far more than the 318,728 ballots rejected in the 2016 general election and has raised alarms about what might happen in November when tens of millions of more voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail, many for the first time." The rules are complicated, and your ballot can be rejected for the slightest variation.

"In a private meeting inside Trump Tower days before his inauguration, Donald Trump told a group of civil rights leaders something most Republicans wouldn’t dare publicly acknowledge: lower turnout among Black voters did, in fact, benefit him in the 2016 presidential election… 'Many Blacks didn’t go out to vote for Hillary ‘cause they liked me. That was almost as good as getting the vote, you know, and it was great,' the president-elect said, according to an audio recording of the meeting shared with POLITICO." Love how he turns a non-vote into a vote for him… because this is what politicians do. Your "protest vote" is not a protest. The winner doesn't care and won't worry. The loser doesn't have the power to change anything. You want to change politics? Then you've got to show up every. single. time. You have to go to meetings. Withholding a vote (or voting third party because you want to "punish" one of the 2 major parties) has absolutely no effect, except to usher in the greater evil.

"President Donald Trump's relentless effort to undermine Joe Biden as 'Sleepy Joe' backfired this week when the former vice president delivered a forceful speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination. Now the pressure is on the President to right his own campaign as he heads into the Republican National Convention next week." Expect bombast and a reiteration of "Our Nation Is an Apocalyptic Battlefield" that permeated his inaugural address.

"Four years ago, older white voters played a big role helping elect Donald Trump president, especially in key battleground states like Florida and Pennsylvania… Robert Griffin, who's with the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, says to win a second term, Trump needs them to turn out in even bigger numbers… A lot of seniors who backed Trump four years ago also told NPR they're tired of his tweets, dislike his use of of profanity, and many rate him poorly on his handling of the coronavirus… But NPR heard something else from these voters: a reminder of just how hard it is these days to actually change peoples' votes." The olds love their Donald. And it's mostly social conservatives who formed the backbone of the Reagan revolution and are now the base of the GOP.

"Former CIA Director John Brennan was interviewed for eight hours on Friday by U.S. Attorney John Durham as part of Durham's ongoing review of the origins of the investigation launched into Russia's 2016 election interference, according to a statement released by Brennan's spokesperson… During the interview, which took place at CIA headquarters, Brennan was informed by Durham that he was 'not a subject or a target' of a criminal investigation, and was being questioned as a 'witness to events that are under review,' Nick Shapiro, who previously served as Brennan's senior adviser, said." The October Surprise is on (the) schedule.

"Maryanne Trump Barry bitterly criticized her brother, President Donald Trump, saying, 'Donald's out for Donald,' and appeared to confirm her niece Mary Trump's previous allegations that he had a friend take his SATs to get into college, according to audio excerpts obtained by CNN." I would say this is just "dirty laundry" reporting, but there's a sizable portion of the nation that doesn't understand this. But that portion won't hear this or accept it.

"Stuart Stevens spent four decades helping Republicans—a lot of Republicans—win. He’s one of the most successful political operatives of his generation, crafting ads and devising strategies for President George W. Bush, Republican presidential nominees Mitt Romney and Bob Dole, and dozens of GOP governors, senators and congressmen. He didn’t win every race, but he thinks he had the best won-lost record in Republican campaign world… And now he feels terrible about it." Begging for absolution. Fuck off. "His point is that Trump is a fitting representative of the modern GOP." As I've argued on some facebook posts, you can draw a direct line from the GOP welcoming the Birchers in the 50's, through Nixon's Southern Strategy, the Reagan Compromise, Buchannon, the rise of Fox News, the Tea Party (and now QAnon) and that line points directly at Trump. What people like Stevens thought is that they could control the hate an animus they used to rise to power, not understanding that the kids didn't understand the con game, that the institutions they set up in the 80s (Heritage Foundation, Federalist Society, a hundred think tanks) would all substitute reality with the myth, and the drive to the right was also the drive to the lowest common denominator. Hate. And this book is another example in what Steves saw himself in post Nazi Germany, the argument of, "You have to understand… we aren't bad people." No. No I don't have to understand and yes you are. Because I saw this in the 80s and I was relatively unschooled politically (compared to now). And you can tell from the interview that he still doesn't get it.

Tweet of my Heart: @alexanderchee Bannon, arrested by the Postal Service, on a fugitive Chinese billionaire's yacht, for border wall fundraising fraud... this is like Clue for 2020. (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

Friday, August 21, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday

"Shields Up, Nichelle Nichols!" A GoFundMe to support Nichelle Nichols' legal battles against Gilbert Bell who has exploited her and is attempting to take her wealth.

"The National Hurricane Center is forecasting for two tropical systems to reach hurricane strength, with both sharing the Gulf of Mexico at the same time."

"Scientists are trying to understand how much plastic humans are pumping into the ocean and how long it sticks around. A study published this week says it may be much more than earlier estimates."

"The melting Greenland ice sheet is already one of the largest contributors to sea level rise. But now, scientists have confirmed that the region saw a record amount of ice melt last year — shattering previous records with 532 billion metric tons of ice lost." We're boned.

"A gigantic fleet of floating rocks, spewed up from an underwater volcano in the Pacific Ocean, floated across the waves for thousands of miles. Eventually, it made it all the way to Australia, then started on a new project: revitalising the world's largest (and very threatened) coral reef system."

"The International Space Station (ISS), in Earth orbit at hundreds of kilometres altitude, is not perfectly airtight. Every day, the cabin loses a minute amount of air, monitored carefully so that a liveable atmospheric pressure can be maintained, and to identify leaks… Now the latter has come to pass, just two years after the last leak. The rate of air loss on the station has risen above a level that can be explained by the normal ISS day-to-day, according to a NASA blog post."

"President Donald Trump on Thursday blamed California for its raging wildfires and threatened to withhold federal money, reprising his attacks from previous rounds of catastrophic blazes… 'I see again the forest fires are starting,' he said at a rally in swing-state Pennsylvania. 'They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up.'" Our stable genius president, everybody.

"The message to vaccinate is not lost on Americans who are already calling their doctors and pharmacists to schedule a flu shot appointment before the start of the 2020-2021 season." It's a little too early right now, but yes, if you can you should get a flu shot. It also might be good to schedule it now (if you can).

"The White House is formally declaring teachers essential workers as part of their efforts to encourage schools around the country to reopen for in-person learning. The move is just the latest in the administration's aggressive campaign to pressure districts into bringing back students this fall -- and although the essential worker designation provides guidance for educators that is only voluntary, it calls on teachers to return to the classroom even after potential exposure." Funny how the majority of "essential workers" are often the least paid or given support.

"The answer, according to education experts, is simple: their options are limited. They can reopen, and impose safety measures to try and curb the spread of the virus, or they can continue to conduct remote learning only, and risk financial devastation." It's always about the money.

"'The expectation in the Great Recession was that it was going to last a very long time, so there weren’t many furloughs,' Hall said. Despite the pandemic, he said, 'Companies are hoping to get back in business pretty quickly.' Indeed, the number of furloughed workers has already dropped to 9 million in July, from 18 million in April." Raise your hand if you think that'll happen. "Yet furloughed workers are often never brought back, Sullivan said, and can put themselves at a disadvantage by staying on the sidelines."

"Earlier this week, both Uber and Lyft threatened to shut down in California as a result of a ruling that would force them to reclassify their drivers as employees. Lyft even announced that it would stop operations starting this Friday… The truth is, however, both companies have had nothing but time to comply with the law. The fact that they fought back, stalled, made excuses and are funding a ballot proposition that would undo worker rights, is a sign that these companies have no intention of following the rules or giving their drivers the benefits they deserve. They had their time, but they squandered it."

The continuing retail apocalypse… "Over a two-week span in early July, seven retailers, including The Paper Store, Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand, filed for bankruptcy protection… J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney and four other retailers had already filed in May. Lord & Taylor and the off-price shop Stein Mart led another wave that hit earlier this month. Some would say it has been a flood, but what’s coming could be a tsunami."

"Crowds rejoiced after a group of colonels seized power in Mali, a vast country stretching into the Sahara, where troops - including French soldiers and UN peacekeepers - are fighting jihadist groups, but not everyone is happy, writes West Africa analyst Paul Melly… But now Ecowas, the West African regional bloc to which Mali belongs, has laid down a firm line, with member heads of state issuing a call for Mr Keïta's reinstatement as president."

"Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's life is being put at risk by Russian doctors refusing to let him be moved from the Siberian hospital where he's being treated for suspected poisoning, his spokeswoman charged on Friday. A senior doctor at the facility claimed, meanwhile, that 'no poison' were found in Navalny's body, and their preliminary diagnosis was that the opposition leader had merely suffered from a sudden drop in blood sugar… Hospital officials have not allowed the harsh critic of President Vladimir Putin to be seen by his family or one of his own doctors who came to the facility."

"Along the way, the request set off legal and logistical alarms, raising questions about whether Pompeo is eligible for any sort of military housing… According to a memo obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight and shared this week with POLITICO, a top Navy lawyer warned that the Pompeos’ initial request for housing was 'problematic' and raised 'factual, legal, fiscal and ethical' issues, not the least of which was whether he’d be displacing military officers already in line for the limited housing."

"Shortly after USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issued a public statement saying he wanted to "avoid even the appearance" that any of his policies would slow down election mail, USPS instructed all maintenance managers around the country not to reconnect or reinstall any mail sorting machines they had already disconnected, according to emails obtained by Motherboard." Because it was all window dressing. They feel they've crippled the mail enough already.

"Memos are trickling down the United States Postal Service bureaucracy warning employees that they should not speak to the press and any customer asking lots of questions may be a journalist sneakily trying to get information out of them." You know you're winning when you have to tell your employees not to talk to anyone. Also these memos show a striking ignorance not just of how journalists work (because they're used to supporting "journalists" like James O'Keefe) and that most postal employees know their customers. When we had to send stories out by mail, the post office I used knew me on site, would make conversation and ask me how it was going. You may not know the postal employees in your local PO, but trust me when I say they know you.

"A federal judge has dismissed President Trump's latest attempt to block a subpoena for his tax records from the district attorney of Manhattan… Thursday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero came in response to a filing by the president's personal attorneys that sought to prevent Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance from obtaining eight years of his tax records. The president's legal team has argued that the subpoena to Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, is 'overbroad.'" And of course they have more objections.

"In early May 2018, after weeks of phone calls and private meetings, 11 of the president's most senior advisers were called to the White House Situation Room, where they were asked, by a show-of-hands vote, to decide the fate of thousands of migrant parents and their children, according to two officials who were there… President Donald Trump's senior adviser Stephen Miller led the meeting, and, according to the two officials, he was angry at what he saw as defiance by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen." So when they said they didn't know, or there wasn't a plan, they were lying. and of course they will deny it happened.

"Too often in politics, a woman’s gender or her race — or both — get used against her, forcing her to walk lines around tone, language, and ambition that men do not. This is particularly true for Black women who face myriad tropes used to diminish them in public life and on the campaign trail, like the 'Sapphire' stereotype known today as the 'angry Black woman,' or the biblical temptress Jezebel. All of which are clear examples of misogynoir — the unique brand of misogyny that Black women face because of the combination of their gender and race." I'll let you guess whom they're talking about.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Linkee-poo is proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free* (* limited time offer)

I'm Batman… "Thinking of yourself as a separate entity can reduce anxiety, while also kicking up some major benefits for your confidence and determination." I remember during on panel that a moderator got upset when I admitted that my being on the panel was "acting." Yes, my normal self is sitting to the side in the audience, listening intently and processing. To get in front I have to moderate myself, ramp parts of me up to 10 and other parts back to 2. So it's me, but with a different equalizer setting. He seemed offended that someone would "act" on a panel. And I wanted to reply that I knew another member of the panel as an extreme introvert who would probably go back to their room right after the panel to decompress, are they not also acting? But I didn't want to out them.

"A plan to release over 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes into the Florida Keys in 2021 and 2022 received final approval from local authorities, against the objection of many local residents and a coalition of environmental advocacy groups. The proposal had already won state and federal approval." A bold experiment, or extreme folly? We probably won't know for a few years.

"Lava tubes beneath the surface of Mars and the moon could be, respectively, 100 and 1,000 times wider than lava tubes on Earth, which could provide shelter and create exploration opportunities for astronauts in the future, according to a new study." As lots of science fiction stories have postulated.

"The US state of Michigan has agreed to pay a settlement of $600m to victims of the Flint water crisis, US media say… Most of the money will go to children in the city who were exposed to drinking water poisoned with lead, reports add." How's that new investigation coming along? Hello? Hello?

"The idea of using a public bathroom with see-through walls may sound like the stuff of nightmares. But a famous Japanese architect is hoping to change that view, using vibrant colors and new technology to make restrooms in Tokyo parks more inviting."

"The piece was among thousands looted from the National Museum in Baghdad in 2003, he says. Without instructions from the U.S. military to protect the museum, American soldiers who helped topple Saddam Hussein stood by while Iraqi looters rampaged through the museum… Heritage experts estimate hundreds of thousands of other objects were looted directly from Iraq's archaeological sites after Saddam lost control of parts of the country in 1991, following the war to end Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. The looting and illegal trade of its antiquities in international markets continue to this day, Iraqi officials say."

"President Donald Trump urged universities to continue reopening their campuses on Wednesday, even as some institutions across the country report clusters of coronavirus outbreaks among their students."

"Children infected with the coronavirus have been found to carry high levels of the germ, according to the authors of a study who warned students could fuel the pandemic if the correct precautions aren't taken when schools reopen." Too late.

"One of the few treatment options for patients seriously ill with COVID-19 is the antiviral drug remdesivir. Authorized by the Food and Drug Administration in May for emergency use in the pandemic, remdesivir is in short supply. The federal government has taken on the responsibility for deciding where vials of the medicine should go… Between July 6 and July 19, the federal Department of Health and Human Services allocated shipments of remdesivir to 31 states… North Carolina wasn't one of them."

Heinous fuckery… "During the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook has taken a public stance against bogus health claims that discourage people from taking proper precautions against the virus. The company even gave the World Health Organization free advertising to help fight misinformation… But research from Avaaz, a global non-profit that works to protect democracies from disinformation on social media, shows that global health misinformation accumulated an estimated 3.8 billion views on Facebook in the past year. The conspiracies circulating on Facebook can be fatal — some of them suggest ingesting poisonous substances, while others tell people not to wear masks or to shun vaccines." An On the Media podcast extra (about 20 minutes) about the problem of misinformation (warfare) and how Facebook's intentionally not addressing the problem (because of the politics of the owners and the business models) have left the public in a position to be preyed upon.

"How do you fix healthcare's medical waste problem?"

"State officials and federal agencies warn there's a new phone scam circulating: Callers posing as COVID-19 contact tracers are trying to pry credit card or bank account information from unsuspecting victims… The grifters apparently are taking advantage of a genuine public health intervention that is crucial to stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus: contact tracing."

"Dramatic new footage has emerged of the altercation between Toronto Raptors' president, Masai Ujiri, and a San Francisco Bay Area police officer, following the Canadian team's decisive game 6 victory in the NBA Finals last year… The video, obtained by CNN, raises questions about a claim by the officer -- Sheriff's Deputy Alan Strickland -- that Ujiri was the aggressor in the exchange."

"Educators from around the country have been reflecting on what they teach and how they teach it in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the national protests that followed… Some lessons up for reconsideration: the dismissive take that it was simply 'the norm' that Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves in the late 1700s and language around Christopher Columbus' 'discovery' of America." The history is the same, but it's time for it to have a more truthful flavor and focus. Waits for the inevitable conservative backlash about "indoctrination" and "people who don't love this country."

And in today's "Well, duh" news… "Federal Open Market Committee members expressed concern at their latest meeting over the future of the economy, saying that the coronavirus likely would continue to stunt growth and potentially pose dangers to the financial system." Shocked, shocked investors are…

One data point does not a trend make… "The Labor Department said Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 15 came in at 1.106 million. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a total of 923,000. Initial claims for the previous week were also revised higher by 8,000 to 971,000. Last week marked the first time in 21 weeks that initial claims came in below 1 million."

"American Airlines said Thursday it plans to cut service to 15 small U.S. cities with low demand in October after the terms of federal aid requiring the flights expires… American and the other U.S. passenger carriers that accepted portions of $25 billion in federal payroll support were required to maintain minimum levels of service through Sept. 30." That's going to hurt those cities economies.

"Alexei Navalny, Russia's most outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, is fighting for his life in a hospital, and his spokeswoman says she believes Navalny was poisoned as he was flying from Siberia back to Moscow." Stay safe my Russian friends. Don't drink the tea at work.

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to demand Thursday that crippling international sanctions are reinstated against Iran… President Donald Trump has directed Pompeo to travel to the United Nations Security Council in New York to enforce what's known as the 'snapback,' a mechanism built into the Iran nuclear deal signed under President Barack Obama in 2015." I have a feeling this won't go as they think it will and will be proof of just how far our standing in the world has dropped.

"Attorney General William Barr announced Wednesday that there have been nearly 1,500 arrests across eight U.S. cities thus far under the 'Operation Legend' law enforcement initiative launched roughly six weeks ago and highlighted by President Donald Trump in his reelection campaign… Of those arrests, according to the Justice Department, approximately 217 defendants have been charged with federal crimes, most of which are drug and gun-related. Barr said investigators have also assisted state and local authorities in bringing homicide charges against more than 90 defendants." Which will be spun by all sides for their own purposes. But here's one thing I don't see covered, prison populations had been steadily decreasing over the past decade, which might have lead to some private prisons going bust. Now they won't. I'm sure that had nothing to do with this initiative.

"Democrats, however, appear to be awakening to this threat to their ability to govern. In contrast to prior versions of its party platform, which barely mentioned the courts, the Democratic Party’s 2020 party platform states that the party 'will commit to creating new federal district and circuit judgeships.'… That means that, if Democrats follow through on this proposal under a President Biden, the influence of President Trump’s unusually conservative crop of judicial appointees will be diluted by Biden appointees named to fill newly created seats on the federal bench." It's a good start, but more is needed. Also with a little history of the problem.

"The Democratic National Committee has removed a provision in its party platform that called for an end to subsidies and tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry… First reported by HuffPost on Tuesday, the revelation comes amid the party’s convention this week, where fighting climate change has been a recurring theme and where there has been a particular emphasis on switching to cleaner alternatives and away from dirty energy sources like coal and oil that emit greenhouse gases." That's a mistake.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Fox News host Trace Gallagher asked ex-Obama spokesperson-turned-Joe Biden surrogate Zach Friend if it was 'very confusing' when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nominated Sen. Bernie Sanders during her Democratic National Convention speech." There is no confusion. This is reporters trying to find conflict when there isn't any. And it's a smarmy story from Fox. This is what happens when stupid people become reporters and talking heads.

Trump endorses QAnon… "President Trump addressed the baseless, far-right QAnon conspiracy theory directly for the first time on Wednesday, saying he didn't know much about the online community and its followers other than 'they like me very much.'… 'I heard that these are people who love our country,' Trump added in response to a question about the conspiracy community during a press briefing at the White House."

"The Susan B. Anthony Museum and House has rejected President Donald Trump’s pardon, arguing that the move would go against the late women’s suffrage leader’s wishes… 'On news of a presidential pardon for Susan B. Anthony on August 18, 2020: Objection! Mr. President, Susan B. Anthony must decline your offer of a pardon today!' the museum tweeted." As anyone even cursorily familiar with the suffragette's story could have told the president, and why many people in the audience for his proclamation laughed, even as they tried to support Trump. Even the dead are telling Trump he can fuck right off.

"Steve Bannon, President Trump's former political adviser, has been arrested alongside three other people in connection with an online fundraising scheme that federal prosecutors in New York say is responsible for defrauding hundreds of thousands of people." Fraud? Bannon? Inconcevable!

The company you keep… "Loomer is one of the most high-profile figures of this movement -- and one of its most controversial. She has described Islam as a 'cancer on humanity' and said that Muslim candidates should not be allowed to hold office in America. She has called herself a 'proud Islamophobe.'… That behavior has led to Loomer being banned from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- not to mention ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft. (She tweeted in 2018 that 'someone needs to create a non Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver.')… And as of Wednesday morning, Loomer is the Republican nominee in Florida's 21st District, which happens to include President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort." Whackaloon quotient goes up.

"President Donald Trump may rail against mail-in ballots in public, but state and local Republicans are quietly telling Americans that’s exactly how they should vote… In Iowa, the Republican Party mailed absentee ballot applications to voters without waiting for requests. In Pennsylvania, the GOP’s website promotes voting by mail: 'Vote Safe: By mail. From home.' And in Ohio, the Republican Party sent mailers with Trump’s photo saying 'Join President Trump and Vote by Absentee Ballot.'" Calling the Republic Party hypocrites is like saying water is wet. It's become so regular, it hardly even registers anymore.

"From the Philadelphia ground where the American experiment was born, one former president -- in a stunning prime-time address to the nation he once led -- warned that his successor was on the cusp of destroying democracy itself… Trump meanwhile, back at the White House, was rage-tweeting in real time in all-caps, flinging wild accusations and lies that, if anything, provided contemporaneous evidence of his predecessor's somber warnings."