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

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Linkee-poo Wednesday Sept 30

The first person cured of HIV - Timothy Ray Brown - has died from cancer… Mr Brown, who was also known as 'the Berlin patient', was given a bone marrow transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to HIV in 2007… It meant he no longer needed anti-viral drugs and he remained free of the virus, which can lead to Aids, for the rest of his life."

"A new study provides substantial evidence that the first fossil feather ever to be discovered does belong to the iconic Archaeopteryx, a bird-like dinosaur named in Germany on this day in 1861. This debunks a recent theory that the fossil feather originated from a different species.

"The case of the small air leak on the International Space Station may be nearly cracked… Investigators have traced the source of the leak to the "main work area" of the Zvezda Service Module, the heart of the Russian part of the station, NASA officials announced today (Sept. 29)."

"Canada reported new 2,176 infections on Monday, taking the total to 155,301. The death toll rose by 10 to 9,278." And Canada is looking at another lockdown. Just as a comparison, there are approximately 1000 new infections daily in just Florida.

"Communities across the US are loosening restrictions meant to curb the spread of Covid-19 ahead of a fall and winter season experts warn could be especially challenging… Florida this week reported a spike in new cases just days after the governor cleared the way for bars and restaurants to fully reopen. In Nevada, the governor bumped the limit on public gatherings from 50 to 250 participants, still not to exceed 50% capacity of a venue."

"The University of North Carolina system reported its first coronavirus-related student death on Tuesday since several campuses reopened with at least partial in-person learning last month. Chad Dorrill, a 19-year student at Appalachian State University who his mother and former coach described as a 'super healthy' athlete, died on Monday due to coronavirus complications, officials said."

"The grand juror has requested in court that any and all recordings, transcripts, and reports of the grand jury relating to the (Breonna Taylor) case be released to the public, a move a former Kentucky prosecutor called "totally surprising and tremendously uncommon.'… Glogower said Tuesday his client's position (a member of the Grand Jury)is, 'What was presented [to jurors] is not being publicly disclosed.'"

"Now comes the claim that you can't expect to literally believe the words that come out of Carlson's mouth. And that assertion is not coming from Carlson's critics. It's being made by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York and by Fox News's own lawyers in defending Carlson against accusations of slander. It worked, by the way… Just read U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil's opinion, leaning heavily on the arguments of Fox's lawyers: The '"general tenor" of the show should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not "stating actual facts" about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in "exaggeration" and "non-literal commentary."'" Funny how whenever Bullshit Mountain gets taken to court they fall back in the "Hey, we're not actually news, we can say whatever we want" defense.

"The campaign to remove Confederate statues and other symbols of white supremacy in the United States is resonating in Latin America, where protesters have destroyed monuments to European colonizers who brutalized Indigenous populations."

"A new survey from The Hollywood Commission released Tuesday that found 65% of respondents said they didn’t believe someone in power (for example, a producer or director) would be held accountable for harassing someone with less authority. Women (28%) were less likely than men (45%) to believe harassers would be held accountable, and white (36%) and Black respondents (34%) had a more favorable view of accountability than Hispanic or Latin workers (29%)."

"Armenia and Azerbaijan accused one another of firing directly into each other’s territory and rejected pressure to hold peace talks as their conflict over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh threatened to descend into all-out war… Both countries reported on Tuesday firing from the other side across their shared border, well to the west of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region over which fierce fighting broke out between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces on Sunday."

"A French fighter jet broke the sound barrier on Wednesday as it scrambled to join a commercial jet that had lost contact with air traffic control… The boom rattled windows, scattered startled birds, briefly interrupted tennis at the French Open and prompted a flood of calls to emergency services."

"The Trump administration says it will comply, for now, with a federal court ruling that blocks William Perry Pendley from continuing to serve as the temporary head of the Bureau of Land Management… In statements to NPR, the Trump administration said an appeal is planned but no timeline has been given."

"The president’s alliance with religious conservatives has long been premised on the contention that he takes them seriously, while Democrats hold them in disdain… But in private, many of Trump’s comments about religion are marked by cynicism and contempt, according to people who have worked for him. Former aides told me they’ve heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base." He could stand up on TV and call them all fools and suckers and it wouldn't change a damn thing. Why? Because the social conservatives don't really give a shit about those externalities as long as they get what they want, and Trump is handing it to them (who's the sucker now?).

"The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security over documents and testimony related to an ongoing investigation into the agency's intelligence office, the panel's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, announced Tuesday."

"An attorney for former national security adviser Michael Flynn said she briefed President Trump and a lawyer working for him on the status of Flynn's criminal case in the past two weeks, according to statements in court on Tuesday… The lawyer, Sidney Powell, initially told the judge she was wary of disclosing the contact because of so-called executive privilege, even though she does not work for Trump or the White House."

So, I was working, and the only part of the debate I caught live was Trump saying, "People made the virus political, which cost lives. The virus is political…" I may be paraphrasing here, but it was literally one sentence apart. And just a final thought, from me, on the debate, this time Trump actually had preparation and did mock debates. And this was how he performed. Abusiveness, bullying, out of touch with reality, that's what they've got.

"This was maybe the worst presidential debate in American history… If this was supposed to be a boxing match, it instead turned into Trump jumping on the ropes, refusing to come down, the referee trying to coax him off and Biden standing in the middle of the ring with his gloves on and a confused look on his face."

"At the end of a rancorous and chaotic debate -- in which President Donald Trump tried to bulldoze challenger Joe Biden with insults, slashing interruptions and callous attacks on Biden's family -- the President questioned the legitimacy of the November election, refused to say whether he would concede should he lose and declined to forcefully condemn White supremacists."

Tweet of my heart: @xeni It’s very important to not describe Donald Trump’s behavior as childish. He is not a toddler. He’s not having a tantrum. He’s a 74-year-old man and the President of the United States. Stop it. He’s always been acting this way to create room to maneuver. It’s a strategy. It works.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday Sept 29

"The Navy, meanwhile, has quietly charted a new course. A supercarrier now on the drawing boards will be christened the USS Doris Miller." Stands and salutes.

"Three underground lakes have been detected near the south pole of Mars… Scientists also confirmed the existence of a fourth lake - the presence of which was hinted at in 2018… Liquid water is vital for biology, so the finding will be of interest to researchers studying the potential for life elsewhere in the Solar System."

"Computer systems for Universal Health Services, which has more than 400 locations, primarily in the U.S., began to fail over the weekend, and some hospitals have had to resort to filing patient information with pen and paper, according to multiple people familiar with the situation."

"In the past three years , there has been no mass exodus from the (Paris Agreement). But some countries, including American allies such as Japan, have eased up on cutting emissions. The U.S. itself has fallen short of the goals it pledged to reach in order to avert the worst-case scenarios of extreme weather."

People have been asking how will COVID change us… "Boris Johnson has vowed 'radical' changes to the adult education system in England to help boost the post-Covid economy… The prime minister said the pandemic had "massively accelerated" changes to the world of work, and made training gaps 'painfully apparent'." That's a start. In the US we haven't even begun to formulate ideas.

"Over the past several months, there has been controversy over the way SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, travels from an infected person to others. While official guidance has often been unclear, some aerosol scientists and public health experts have maintained that the spread of the virus in aerosols traveling through the air at distances both less than and greater than 6 feet has been playing a more significant role than appreciated."

"New York City public schools opened their doors to 300,000 K-8 students Tuesday, hours after the global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 1 million… Florida is also loosening restrictions, and students at Florida State University. celebrated. Tallahassee police said they had to break up more than a dozen unruly gatherings over the weekend after Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped the state's COVID-19 restrictions and even encouraged college kids to party. No further urging needed." It's the fucking Mask of the Red Death played out en masse. What we need, I think, is a return to memento mori.

"A Texas sheriff has been indicted on felony charges of tampering with evidence in the case of Javier Ambler, a Black man who was killed by police last year during a traffic stop that escalated into a high-speed chase caught on film by a reality television show… Sheriff Robert Chody, who turned himself in, was arrested and booked on Monday. He was released shortly after posting $10,000 bail… The Williamson County grand jury indictment accuses Chody of intentionally destroying or concealing video and audio recordings of the fatal encounter, which was filmed for the television show Live PD… Jason Nassour, a lawyer with the county attorney's office, was also indicted on the same felony evidence-tampering charge."

"But what if the cop patrolling your neighborhood held bizarre and unsubstantiated views? What if there was a chance that officer in the patrol car idling down the block was watching videos about a conspiracy holding that a satanic cabal of high-profile liberal pedophiles is running the world’s most insidious sex ring. Or was swiping through memes popularizing a made-up plot about kidnapped children kept in underground tunnels so their blood can be harvested to help keep wealthy people alive? And what if they sincerely believed it all?" While it's true you can do whatever you want on your own time and believe whatever you wish, those choices do inform the rest of us on your ability to discern reality from fantasy. And if you follow QAnon, you're over your head in bullshit. And it tells me you don't have the judgment qualities I expect in a police officer.

How goes Brexit? "Britain left the European Union eight months ago. Nothing much changed for most people back then, but Brexit is now back with a vengeance as talks on a deal to keep trade flowing next year enter the final stretch."

"'She deferred lease payments on her Infiniti QX60 for three months and started paying again with unemployment benefits. Her husband traded in his Ford F-150 in August for a lower-cost car and reduced his original monthly payment of $820 by about $100, and his income covers the $2,100 mortgage.'… The Ford F-150 payment stuck out to me for a couple of reasons. Maybe it’s because I live in Michigan, but I see Ford trucks all over the roads. And a monthly outlay of $820 is quite high for a car payment, especially when you consider this family has credit card debt and three other car loans or leases." It's obvious the truck is the problem… if your fucking stoned. The author of this article then goes on to basically make the pickup truck the new avocado toast. And I guessing a way I should be happy that they're not shaming poor people in this article, but upper middle-class people. So at least there's some "fairness". I also personally agree with some of these statements (too many people buy too much car for their budget), but can we just stop this bullshit and instead say, "Hey, maybe paying $4,400 a month on a mortgage is fucking extortion and having 4 cars, including the Infiniti, is a little overkill." Also, a $720 a month payment on a car is still bullshit. How about we break the cycle of rampant consumerism here instead?

"Multiple people died during a hostage situation that unfolded in Salem, Oregon, Monday afternoon, officials said… Deputies from the Marion County Sheriff's Office responded to a call of a possible hostage situation on Juneva Place SE around 12:30 p.m., according to a press release issued by the sheriff's office. Salem is about 45 miles southwest of Portland."

The company you keep… "Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, was detained on Sunday night after his wife reported him threatening suicide, police in Florida said. Authorities said he was detained under the state’s Baker Act, a law that lets authorities take people into custody if they are considered a potential danger to themselves or others… The police report obtained by Local 10 described a contentious situation. Parscale’s wife told cops that he had made statements about shooting himself. She had bruises on her arms and face, scratches on her face, which she said were from a physical altercation with her husband from several days before, according to police." Good thing he's white, or he would probably be dead.

"Strong demand from homebuyers in July, coupled with rock-bottom mortgage interest rates, caused home prices to accelerate in major markets across the nation… Nationally, home values rose 4.8% annually, up from a 4.3% gain in June, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index." Not mentioned until the last sentence is the dearth of existing homes on the market. This is a classic bubble market.

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are set to talk Tuesday morning after Democrats unveiled a coronavirus stimulus plan designed to restart progress toward a relief deal… Democrats released the $2.2 trillion legislation Monday night as they struggle to break a weeks-long impasse with the White House over how to structure a fifth relief bill. While the Democratic-held House passed a $3.4 trillion proposal in May, the Trump administration has offered to inject only $1.3 trillion more into efforts to boost the economy and health-care system during the pandemic."

"Tonight, you will hear about the contractor who built both of those walls, Fisher Sand and Gravel out of North Dakota, and how they leveraged those jobs to earn billions of dollars in government contracts with support from President Trump. Last month, reports surfaced that one of their private walls was falling apart. So, we went to Mission, Texas, to see for ourselves."

"But there's another massive revelation contained in the Times' reporting that isn't getting nearly enough attention: Trump wrote off $26 million in unexplained "consulting fees" between 2010 and 2018, with almost $750,000 apparently going to his daughter, Ivanka, in one disclosure." Or, you know, it's just fraud.

"That has helped make (Trump's) financial records a target for congressional and criminal investigators alike. The president is waging multiple court battles to shield his finances from scrutiny, including two cases involving subpoenas issued to his personal accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP."

Monday, September 28, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday Sept 28

Cue the dramatic music… "The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due… Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750… He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made… As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million."

And the predictable response… "'It’s totally fake news,' Trump told reporters at a press conference when asked about the news story, which broke minutes before he entered the White House briefing room. Trump insisted that the public would eventually see his tax returns but claimed, as he has previously, that they are currently 'under audit' by the IRS."

"Here are some of the key figures…"

"The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for nearly all of Northern California as a heat wave hitting the Western states combines with gusty, dry winds to heighten the risk of wildfires in a region already pummeled by the rash of blazes."

"Power will be shut off for 65,000 Northern California electric customers in 16 counties to prevent the spread of wildfires that have engulfed areas of the state, officials said Sunday."

"One-third of American parents have no plans to get their children vaccinated for the flu this year, according to the National Poll on Children's Health released Monday, despite the very real possibility their child could also catch the deadly Covid-19." Get your god damn flu shot.

"The number of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 is topping 25% in several states in the U.S. Midwest as cases and hospitalizations also surge in the region, according to a Reuters analysis."

"Georgia health officials have decided to withhold information about coronavirus infections at each school, saying the public has no legal right to information about outbreaks that the state is investigating… The Georgia Department of Public Health started requiring weekly reports from the schools last month and initially said it might share the information with the public. The decision not to reveal the number of COVID-19 case counts and related quarantines and 'clusters' means the only recourse for parents and teachers trying to gauge the risk is the willingness of their local school system to publicize its own data." Like you do when everything is going really well. Also, Georgia citizens, your government works for you. You don't have the right to know individual cases (HIPAA laws), but you definitely have the right to see the aggregated and anonymized data.

"Parents are knowingly sending their children who have coronavirus back to classes in Wisconsin, health officials said on Thursday, which could lead to potential school district shutdowns." Jazz hands! Look, when I was in K-12 school the rule was, "If you're not throwing up, you're well enough to go to school." Why? Because my Mom had to work and could't stay home to take care of sick kids. I know a lot of people with the same rule. Why did anyone think it would change (or ignore that basic fact in the first place)?

"Coronavirus infection rates have increased at 'an alarming rate' in several New York neighborhoods, particularly among the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, city health authorities warned Sunday. The officials threatened to sanction certain schools if they fail to comply with anti-virus regulations, just as city school leaders express no confidence in the mayor for his handling of reopening classrooms and call for control of schools to be handed over to the state."

"Covid in Scotland: 'Struggling' students told they can return home."

"Australian biotech company Ena Respiratory said on Monday that a nasal spray it is developing to improve the human immune system to fight common cold and flu significantly reduced the growth of the coronavirus in a recent study on animals."

"A Minnesota public health survey of the impact of COVID-19 has been halted after several incidents in which surveyors of color were intimidated or called racial slurs, state health officials confirm to TIME." Not totally unexpected.

"A protester was struck by a pick-up truck during a march for Breonna Taylor at Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles Thursday night."

"The Louisville, Kentucky, Metro Police Department is looking into a derogatory email a police major sent to her colleagues in August that said people who are part of antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement are "punks" who are not important, a spokesman said… Hallahan, 47, confirmed to NBC News on Thursday that she sent the email and said fellow officers have been supportive. She also said she retires in six days." Maybe, if it takes longer to fire her.

"New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods increased more than expected in August and demand for the prior month was stronger than previously estimated, suggesting a rebound in business spending on equipment was underway after a prolonged slump." Yet the video accompanying the article has the caption, "Durable goods orders rose less than expected in August." So I guess this is a Choose Your Own Path article.

"An American has been sued by an island resort in Thailand over a negative TripAdvisor review, authorities said Saturday, and could face up to two years in prison if found guilty. Domestic tourism is still happening in Thailand, where coronavirus numbers are relatively low, with locals and expats heading to near-empty resorts -- including Koh Chang island, famed for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters."

"Swiss voters have rejected a proposal to end an accord with the EU allowing the free movement of people… With all referendum votes counted, nearly 62% said they wanted to keep free movement, while 38% were against… Switzerland is not a member of the EU but has a series of interdependent treaties with Brussels which allow it to access to Europe's free trade area."

"Control over the mountainous area of Nagorno-Karabakh. Populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians, and aided by the Armenian diaspora, it sits inside Azerbaijani territory, connected to Armenia proper by a costly highway. It is heavily militarized and its forces have been backed by Armenia, which has a security alliance with Russia. Azerbaijan has long claimed it will retake the territory, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani. Control over the area has become a point of nationalist -- almost existential -- pride in both countries."

"Belarus police carried out mass arrests as tens of thousands of people again gathered for protests calling on leader Alexander Lukashenko to step down… It was the 50th day of protests following August's disputed presidential vote. Earlier this week Mr Lukashenko held a secret inauguration."

"Republicans have closed the traditional voter registration gap with Democrats to an historically small margin in Florida, triggering a wave of Democratic apprehension in the nation’s biggest swing state."

"President Donald Trump's nomination of federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has drawn new attention to her association with a Christian group called People of Praise… Barrett has not spoken publicly about her relationship to the religious community, which was founded in 1971 and includes 'Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians and other denominational and nondenominational Christians,' according to its website." Sounds like a cult.

"Facing crackdowns from tech companies that limit the reach of their content, leaders in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement have been urging their followers to drop the 'QAnon' label from their wide-ranging conspiracy theories and simply refer to their fight against a fictitious cabal of powerful baby-eating politicians without their increasingly problematic branding." Don't let those fuckers get away with it.

"U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed two executive orders on healthcare for Americans that lawyers said will carry little weight, as the president seeks to boost his flagging credibility with voters on the hot-button issue ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election." His new healthcare bill is still two weeks out… maybe. "Nicholas Bagley, a professor at University of Michigan’s law school, said: 'Unless there’s a law that prohibits the conduct in question, or unless the president is exercising a power that’s been delegated to him by Congress, his statements have no more legal weight than a tweet.'"

"Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Fox News Thursday that he was 'getting killed financially' by his Democratic opponent Jamie Harrison… It wasn’t immediately clear what figure Graham was referring to, given that Harrison has raised just over $28 million as of the last Federal Election Commission filings in June, compared to Graham’s $29 million." It's about the victimization being used to generate more donations, not anything based in reality.

"Robocalls sent by Trump surrogates Kimberly Guilfoyle and the President's daughter-in-law Lara Trump are encouraging Republican voters to use absentee ballots to vote in November, calling them one of the 'best ways' to support President Trump in November… Both calls attempt to draw a false distinction between absentee voting and other forms of mail-in voting. Guilfoyle's call goes so far as to claim the "radical left" wants to 'confuse you' on mail-in voting and that 'Democrats want to scare you away from voting absentee.'"

"White House chief of staff Mark Meadows publicly attacked FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday, a day after the director said there was no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud that have been pushed by President Donald Trump."

"Millions of Americans who are struggling to put food on the table may discover a new item in government-funded relief packages of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat: a letter signed by President Donald Trump… The letter is reminiscent of Trump’s effort to put his signature on stimulus checks and send a signed letter to millions of recipients." These things are not his largess, this is your tax dollars (now and future) at work.

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi has begun mobilizing Democrats for the possibility that neither Joe Biden nor President Donald Trump will win an outright Electoral College victory, a once-in-a-century phenomenon that would send the fate of the presidency to the House of Representatives to decide."

Friday, September 25, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday Sept 25

(Stories grokked from Gwenda Bond, Robert J Bennett, John and Dan)

"This year, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas or ERCOT, the electric grid that services about 90% of Texas electricity, is scheduled to add almost as much wind as it has in the past five years combined and almost triple its solar capacity. Yes, in 2020. The grid operator’s latest figures indicate that they expect, by the end of the year to have 31,069 MW of wind and 6,035 MW of solar on the system, up from 23,860 and 2,281 MW of wind and solar at the end of 2019."

"A recent Pew Research Center survey shows Republicans 18 to 39 years old are more concerned about the climate than their elders. By a nearly two-to-one margin they are more likely to agree that 'human activity contributes a great deal to climate change,' and 'the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change.'… Some of these young conservatives are starting environmental groups and becoming climate activists. And now they're pushing their party to do more." To be young and dumb once more. Good luck, young conservatives, your about to learn the GOP doesn't really give a shit about what you feel and has worked hard to indoctrinate you into their mind set. And at the very least, just wants your vote so they can continue the way they are. You and the Log Cabin Republicans can have picnics together and lament how the majority of the party doesn't listen to while still remaining wedded to what you think are conservative core principles.

"A Massachusetts construction worker’s love of black licorice wound up costing him his life. Eating a bag and a half every day for a few weeks threw his nutrients out of whack and caused the 54-year-old man’s heart to stop, doctors reported Wednesday." Yeah, don't do that.

"'The curse of being sick in America is a lifetime of debt, which means you live a less-than-opportune life,' says Fentress, who is now 31 and still works for the senior facility, providing an essential service throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 'The biggest crime you can commit in America is being sick.'" Best healthcare system in the world, killing people with debt.

"Frontline healthcare workers are locked in a heated dispute with many infection control specialists and hospital administrators over how the novel coronavirus is spread – and therefore, what level of protective gear is appropriate." Yes. I've already been disciplined for it. My, "crime"? I pointed out how people in other departments weren't following protocol potentially exposing us to risks (proper PPE and posted warnings). And then four weeks later as our employee infection rates climbed, they asked for all of our help to point out non-compliance by filing reports. You can guess how many reports I've filed. Hint, somewhere less than 1. Also note while nominally about "science" and "medicine", the arguments are actually about liability and costs (for the hospitals).

"The first study to analyze the structure of the novel coronavirus from two waves of infection in a major city found that a more contagious strain dominates recent samples, researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital said on Wednesday."

Ma href="https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-09-23/young-adults-are-now-the-largest-group-of-americans-with-covid-19-cdc">"A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the median age of people with COVID-19 in the U.S. has declined over the spring and summer, with Americans in their 20s now accounting for more cases than people in any other age group." And while younger people are at less risk of dying from an infection, we are now seeing serious, long-term effects of infection from COVID-19 (such as heart, kidney, and liver damage).

"The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus."

"Kentucky Representative Attica Scott was arrested with a group of people accused of starting a fire at the Louisville Public Library not far from the church according to a report from LMPD."

"While many have moved over to Microsoft 365, some prefer a perpetual license for Office that allows them to purchase a product once and to have it forever. Microsoft usually releases perpetual updates to Office every few years, though some were concerned that Office 2019 would be the last perpetual update. Luckily for those who prefer a perpetual license, a new version is on the way." Hey Adobe and Quicken, might want to think about this.

"A new report by an Australian research group has identified and mapped more than 380 suspected detention facilities in China's western Xinjiang region… The Australian Strategic Policy Institute said in its report that these centers have been built and expanded, even as Chinese officials claimed most of the people sent to the facilities had 'returned to society.'"

"A federal court has ordered the Trump administration to abandon last-minute changes to the 2020 census schedule and extend the time for counting for an additional month… The preliminary injunction issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California requires the Census Bureau to keep trying to tally the country's residents through Oct. 31."

"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finally acknowledged Wednesday that photos that were part of a facial recognition pilot program were hacked from a Customs and Border Control subcontractor and were leaked on the dark web last year. Among the data, which was collected by a company called Perceptics, was a trove of traveler's faces, license plates, and care information. The information made its way to the Dark Web, despite DHS claiming it hadn't. In a newly released report about the incident, the DHS Office of Inspector General admitted that 184,000 images were stolen and at least 19 of them were posted to the Dark Web."

"The civil rights groups behind this summer's Facebook advertiser boycott are joining other critics to pressure the social network to do more to counter hate speech, falsehoods about the election and efforts to delegitimize mail-in voting."

"As chief justice, Roberts has occasionally shown moderation. He famously saved most of the Affordable Care Act — twice! And he more recently cast a surprising vote to preserve the constitutional right to an abortion (although he simultaneously signaled that this right is unlikely to last much longer)… But Roberts has shown no such moderation on voting rights. Among other things, Roberts dismantled much of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), and he’s joined decisions making it much harder for voting rights plaintiffs to prove they were victims of discrimination. On the basic question of who is allowed to vote and which ballots will be counted, the most important issue in any democracy, Roberts is still the same man who tried and failed to strangle the Voting Rights Act nearly four decades earlier."

"The Cuyahoga County Democratic Party is accusing Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose of trying to suppress voters in the general election."

"The FBI and the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said Thursday that they are investigating 'potential issues' with nine military ballots in one county. They believe the ballots were opened improperly, though they have not filed any charges or taken official action."

"Florida's attorney general is asking law enforcement agencies to open an investigation of a contribution made by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to help pay the fines and court fees of felons… Bloomberg this week raised some $16 million for a fund established by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to help felons who have completed their sentences vote in the upcoming election." Yes, conservatives will fight hard to make sure you can't vote.

"President Trump resumed questioning the integrity of this year's election on Thursday after the White House sought to walk back his earlier comments suggesting he might not accept the results if he were to lose… The back-and-forth started on Wednesday evening at a press conference."

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday Sept 24

"As planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, some have been driven to explore desperate measures. One proposal put forward by the California-based non-profit Arctic Ice Project appears as daring as it is bizarre: to scatter a thin layer of reflective glass powder over parts of the Arctic, in an effort to protect it from the Sun’s rays and help ice grow back." Geoengineering raises its hoary head once again.

"California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035 as the top U.S. auto market shifts to electric vehicles to reduce climate-warming emissions, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday."

The chickens coming home to roost… "A mini-moon is on track to enter Earth's orbit and come as close as 27,000 miles away… However, rather than some asteroid that will orbit around the Earth, it may actually just be some old space junk that made its way back to our planet… Dr. Paul Chodas, the director of NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies, believes that the object, named Asteroid 2020 SO, is an old booster rocket from the 1960s."

"Marine biologists are astonished after a Cuvier’s beaked whale held its breath for nearly four hours during a deep dive. The unexpected observation shows there’s much to learn about these medium-sized whales… Scientists from Duke University and the Cascadia Research Collective recorded the unbelievable dive during field observations off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in 2017. In the first of two epic dives, the Cuvier beaked whale, wearing tag ZcTag066, stayed underwater for nearly three hours. A week later, the whale outdid itself, holding its breath for a bewildering three hours and 42 minutes." That'll do, whale. That'll do.

"Once a fixture at the administration's coronavirus briefings, Dr. Deborah Birx has confided to aides and friends that she has become so unhappy with what she sees as her diminished role as coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force that she is not certain how much longer she can serve in her position, sources familiar with her thinking tell CNN… Birx has told people around her that she is 'distressed' with the direction of the task force, describing the situation inside the nation's response to the coronavirus as nightmarish." Now tell us how bending your will to Trump worked out for you. Again, with an authoritarian, eventually everyone is on the outside.

"COVID-19 cases recorded in the dashboard show a relatively small degree of spread among staff and students. The study looked at data collected from more than 550 schools across 46 states over a two-week period starting Aug. 31, with more than 300 schools maintaining some level of in-person classes… Researchers found 0.23 percent of students had confirmed or suspected cases of the virus, while the rate among educators was 0.51 percent." Okay, run the study for the first 2 weeks in October, you know, after the incubation period elapses, and then tell me. Also note this study is of "reported cases", not antibody testing on the students, teachers and staff.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet decided on Thursday to tighten Israel's coronavirus lockdown after he said a surge in infections was pushing the nation to 'the edge of the abyss.'"

"In the video, which was shared on Twitter, the officer says: 'If you go down there, if you choose to, there is a grassy area along the north side of the road. Those people who want to come down today to exercise your second amendment rights or your first amendment rights…' The woman in the video interjects 'we're not protesters,' to which the officer replies: 'Fantastic.'" The correct response, officer, is, "Then you might want to go home."

"Shortly before a 9 p.m. ET countywide curfew, there were reports of gunfire near one of the marches. Two of the responding officers were shot and had non-life-threatening wounds, Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder told reporters. A suspect was in custody, he added." What still strikes me is that if the officers were responding to the shot fired by the boyfriend, how is it he escaped unharmed? Why do these officers still have guns? I appreciate the chaos of the situation, but the officers were prepared (they were the ones coming through the door), the officers have training and need to re-certify every year (at least in Ohio they do), but they were unable to hit the person who fired at them in close quarters and with emptying their handgun's magazines. So tell me this story again how these are good cops, because it seems they're grossly incompetent.

"Four individuals, including the partner of one of the victims of the deadly Kenosha, Wisconsin, shootings, have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, the suspected gunman Kyle Rittenhouse and two leaders of online groups."

"Traditional door-to-door trick or treating should be avoided this Halloween, under new national guidelines. But even with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest advice, Americans are still rallying to safely bring the spooky season to life. People are discovering new, creative ways to celebrate the occasion during the pandemic." Hey NPR, how about interviewing people who can't buy their kid one costume, let alone three. And all the pouty, "I'm so put out" comments… okay parents, have you got a plan to explain to their children why people close to them are very sick or dying? I think that might stress you out a little more.

This one is mostly for the "how clueless can you be this far into the pandemic" pot. "So, what can you do to keep your child in the spirit of spookiness on Saturday, October 31, 2020? We have 12 alternatives that aimed at keeping you more entertained and less creeped out about COVID-19… 1. Trick or Treat in Reverse: This one might take the whole neighborhood pitching! The kids can still get dressed up in their costumes, but instead of them going door-to-door, they can hang out in the front yard as neighbors walk or drive by and deliver candy!… 2. Trick or Treat Drive By: A lot of parents already drive their kiddos to Halloween hotspots. This allows the family to get dressed up and ride over to visit friends and family by honking, texting or giving shoutout upon arrival. Then, deliver some treats or tricks in costume to your fave folks!" Can anyone point out the flaws in this plan? Anyone? Bueller?

"The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ending Sept. 19 came in at 870,000. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected first-time claims at 850,000, down slightly from the previous week’s 860,000… 'Bottom line, we have a mix of people going back to work because they are now greater incentivized to do so without the extra $600 per week and those that are still challenged in finding a job that matches their skills in this unfortunate pandemic landscape,' said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group. He was referring to the expiration this summer of the $600 a week in supplemental benefits paid to people who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic… New York and Georgia saw the biggest week-over-week increases in initial claims, the department said. Claims in New York jumped by more than 9,000 last week and first-time filers in Georgia rose by more than 6,000." Bottom line, if you have investments with Bleakley Advisory Group, time to pull out and move your accounts. Because apparently their CIO doesn't know shit.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid rose slightly last week to 870,000, a historically high figure that shows that the viral pandemic is still squeezing restaurants, airlines, hotels and many other businesses six months after it first erupted… The figure coincides with evidence that some newly laid-off Americans are facing delays in receiving unemployment benefits as state agencies intensify efforts to combat fraudulent applications and clear their pipelines of a backlog of jobless claims." Notice Fox doesn't who who those economists are who are saying the numbers are inflated (or what they're basing their claim on).

"U.K. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a new emergency package of measures to contain unemployment, replacing the country’s furlough scheme which is due to expire next month… The Job Support Scheme will directly top up the wages of employees working fewer hours due to suppressed business demand, enabling workers to keep their jobs on shorter hours rather than being made redundant. It will run for six months from November."

"The bookkeeper who handled their payroll allegedly embezzled their money and injected it into a notorious scheme used by crime bosses, terrorist financiers, and drug cartels. The participants laundered $10 billion of illicit money into nice clean cash… It all happened with the help of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest financial institution and one of the biggest lenders to Donald Trump. But when the enormous scandal broke, Deutsche blamed it on a few middle-level staffers in its Moscow office, paid a fine, and got back to business… The FinCEN Files investigation reveals that Deutsche managers, including top executives, had direct knowledge for years of serious failings that left the bank vulnerable to money launderers. Documents show two warnings sent to committees that included Paul Achleitner, Deutsche’s chair, and one sent to the bank's supervisory board."

"The US Senate failed to agree on language for a resolution honoring the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a sign of how divided the chamber is over the Supreme Court vacancy… Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tried to pass a resolution by unanimous consent Tuesday to commemorate the liberal icon's life and legacy, but with language that Ginsburg's seat not be filled until the next president is sworn in." The battle of the quotes.

"Before President Donald Trump has even announced his Supreme Court pick, conservatives are fighting to make the conservative Christian views of one of the leading contenders, 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, off-limits in any potential confirmation hearing… Some critics of Barrett are invoking 'The Handmaid’s Tale,' a dystopian feminist novel in which conservative Christians have stripped away women’s rights, as a symbol of their fear that her conservative religious beliefs could reshape American society. Supporters are raising claims of anti-Catholic bigotry, both in response to the critics and in anticipation what they say would be the onslaught to come if Barrett were nominated." Anti-Catholic bias… sure, sure. Say, tell me how many SCOTUS justices are Catholic? There are four. Five counting Gorsuch was raised Catholic, but now attends the Episcopalian Church.

Putting away childish things, a Stonkettle post.

"Local elections used to be a low-key affair in Blue Hill, Maine. So residents of the small town were shocked, in 2010, when a candidate for the Maine State Senate was targeted by a flood of negative ads… We trace the money back to a Republican strategist named Chris Jankowski who hatched a scheme to reshape national politics for a bargain. The strategy was called the Redistricting Majority Project, or 'REDMAP.'" The Planet Money podcast on the project that reshaped congressional districting and gave the GOP a majority control in many state houses even as they lost the overall vote.

"Voters in a number of swing states this November will have more leeway in getting their mail ballots back in time to count, should rule changes announced in the past week hold up to legal challenges. But the changes could delay the reporting of election results and possibly set up court fights down the line."

"With less than six weeks to go before Election Day, and with over 250 COVID-related election lawsuits filed across 45 states, the litigation strategy of the Trump campaign and its allies has become clear: try to block the expansion of mail-in balloting whenever possible and, in a few key states, create enough chaos in the system and legal and political uncertainty in the results that the Supreme Court, Congress, or Republican legislatures can throw the election to Trump if the outcome is at all close or in doubt. It’s a Hail Mary, but in a close enough election, we cannot count the possibility out. I’ve never been more worried about American democracy than I am right now."

"President Donald Trump on Wednesday would not commit to providing a peaceful transition of power after Election Day, lending further fuel to concerns he may not relinquish his office should he lose in November… 'Well, we're going to have to see what happens," Trump said when asked whether he'd commit to a peaceful transition, one of the cornerstones of American democracy.' Trump has no respect for America, it's traditions, and the political process.

"Now the Trump campaign is said to be considering another, even more outrageous approach: In a thorough and deeply disconcerting piece about the constitutional crisis that may await us between November 3 and the inauguration in January, the Atlantic’s Barton Gellman reports that the Trump campaign has been discussing 'contingency plans to bypass the election results and appoint local electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority.' Citing the president’s baseless claims of fraud, Team Trump could ask GOP-controlled state governments to choose electors, completely ignoring an unfavorable or uncertain popular vote, state and national Republican sources told Gellman."

"Donald Trump will face Joe Biden within days for the first of three presidential debates, and some of the president’s supporters are already bracing for a humiliating loss… White House allies, Republican donors and some of Trump’s closest advisers worry that a recent, frenzied push by his top lieutenants to portray Biden as a seasoned debater — with the goal of raising expectations for the Democratic presidential nominee — is too late and too disingenuous to have an impact when the two meet on the debate stage next Tuesday." And Sean Spicer finally tells the truth, the outcome of the debate won't move the numbers much.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Linkee-poo late on Wednesday, Sept 23

Gale Sayers, and so it goes.

"A vast fishing armada of Chinese vessels just off the Galápagos Islands logged an astounding 73,000 hours of fishing during just one month as it pulled up thousands of tonnes of squid and fish, a new report based on data analysis has found."

"As COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have declined in recent weeks, after record highs during the summer, health officials are bracing themselves for a tough winter when Americans move back indoors and the seasonal flu begins to circulate. Seriously complicating the issue is how public trust in the federal response has eroded after a summer of chaotic messaging and unwarranted optimism by Trump and his top advisers."

"President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that the United States would not impose a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus following additional new measures imposed on businesses in the U.K." Well of course not, silly. You didn't impose a lock down before. You left that up to the governors.

"Then the New York Times published a new exposé revealing that Trump officials had overruled medical researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, forcing the agency to publish misleading and dangerous information designed to discourage people who have been exposed to the virus from being tested."

"U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday that the country was at a 'perilous turning point' and he had to act now to stop the spread of the coronavirus… In a marked change of tone, Johnson reversed the lifting of some lockdown measures in England, telling people to work from home once again if possible. It comes just weeks after the prime minster repeatedly urged people to return to the office." Oopsie.

"Police put up concrete barriers and fencing. The mayor declared a state of emergency. More businesses nailed plywood to their storefront windows… Downtown Louisville’s preparations and closures seemed more reminiscent of an approaching hurricane than a grand jury decision… Louisville is bracing for an anxiously awaited decision on whether any police officers will be charged in the March 13 shooting death of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old unarmed Black woman fatally shot by police who has become a national symbol of racial injustice."

"Following months of outrage, activism and anticipation, a Kentucky grand jury has decided to indict one of the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March… Brett Hankison, who was terminated in June, has been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment over shooting into neighboring apartments. Bond was set at $15,000."

"Around 20 Department of Homeland Security open source intelligence reports were recalled in the aftermath of revelations this summer that the department had potentially collected and disseminated intelligence on US journalists, according to a department official familiar with the review… The intelligence reports, which had already been shared with state and local officials, were pulled back because they didn't meet the department's requirements, the official said. Although the nature of the reports is unclear, it speaks to the recent turmoil inside the department's intelligence division." Totally normal (intense side-eye).

"President Trump on Tuesday said he had expanded a ban on racial sensitivity training to federal contractors… His administration had instructed federal agencies to end such training earlier this month."

And to just hammer the point home, over at the National Review… "Systemic Racism? Make Them Prove It." Points to all of US history, redlining, slavery, race riots/massacres, Jim Crow… Yes there are people just this stupid, and they tend to congregate on the right-wing of the spectrum.

"Nationwide protests have cast a spotlight on racism and inequality in the United States. Now a major bank has put a price tag on how much the economy has lost as a result of discrimination against African Americans: $16 trillion… Since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost that much as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans, according to a new study by Citigroup. It's not an insignificant number: By comparison, U.S. GDP totaled $19.5 trillion last year." That's a heckofalotta money for something that supposedly doesn't exist.

"Her story is an especially stark example of how pandemic financial stress is playing out. But the poll found many people reported problems with housing, health care and unsafe workplaces, and a high percentage of Americans — 46% — said they're having 'serious financial problems.' Nearly one out of three respondents had used up all or most of their savings."

"Are you in the top 1%, 5% or 10% of the U.S. income and wealth scale? If you are, congratulations on being rich and economically successful. Good for you too for not being a big part of our current economic challenges. You’re protected from the headwinds affecting the other 90% of your fellow citizens… It’s easy to hate the rich for all that they have and all that you don’t, but the rich aren’t the problem." Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. "Taxes on the wealthy could certainly be higher. Taxing the rich will provide more funds to pay for the government and to pay for interest on the government’s debt. But unless those monies are deployed such that they can create jobs and growth, the problem of the trapped poor and middle class will remain unchanged and may worsen." And we again hear about how government would just waste the money, so we shouldn't tax the rich. Thanks for coming. And all you poor people better start earning more money to save the economy for rich people!

"Shay Chandler did not plan to buy what seemed like the last full-sized refrigerator in all of San Antonio. When her old one broke a few weekends ago, she discovered she'd have to wait almost two months for a replacement."

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clinched an agreement Tuesday to take the threat of a government shutdown at the end of the month off the table… The bipartisan accord, which comes after several days of back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans over the stopgap funding measure, would fund the government through December 11." It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

How's that swamp draining going? "The consulting firm where the wife of acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is an executive has been awarded more than $6 million in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security since September 2018, according to records on the federal government website USA Spending."

"Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is set for a confirmation hearing on Wednesday in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and if he is confirmed, he'll be the first Senate-confirmed secretary in more than a year." I'm sure it went well.

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping anti-corruption package that they're billing as a successor to post-Watergate reforms — updated for a potential post-Trump Washington… The measure, a 158-page Democratic wish list that includes curbs on pardons for close associates of the president, a requirement for campaigns to publicly report many foreign contacts and a requirement for courts to prioritize congressional subpoenas, is House leaders' version of an antidote to what they see as weaknesses in democratic government exposed by President Donald Trump." Sure it's only a political move, but it's a smart one.

"When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns for the final time to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, an army of more than a hundred of her former clerks will meet the casket and accompany it up the stone steps leading to the great hall where the liberal icon presided for almost 30 years."

"For a year, Senate Republicans have teased a bombshell investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden that could rock the former vice president’s campaign for the White House… But an interim report, issued by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) less than six weeks before the presidential election and released publicly on Wednesday, is largely a compilation of previously public information — some of it rehashed anew by witnesses who already testified during the House’s impeachment inquiry last year — as well as news articles and strongly worded insinuations with little evidence to back them up." Because they've got nothing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tuesday is all right for fightin'

Sorry folks, fighting to keep one more from the QAnon black hole. Not a lot of time to read current news.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday Sept 21

Plastics. "When you add it up, the total amount of synthetic microfibres going into the wider environment as we wash our clothes is an astonishing number… US scientists estimate it to be 5.6 million tonnes since we first started wearing those polyester and nylon garments in a big way in the 1950s… Just over half this mass - 2.9 million tonnes - has likely ended up in our rivers and seas… That's the equivalent of seven billion fleece jackets, the researchers say."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reversed controversial coronavirus testing guidance, which previously said that people who didn’t have symptoms but were exposed to an infected person 'do not necessarily need a test.'… The new guidance said that people without symptoms who have been in close contact with an infected person 'need a test.'" And now the general public understands part of what healthcare workers have been going through for over 6 months now. The rules fucking change almost every day until we just don't care anymore.

"The UK could see 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October without further action, the government's chief scientific adviser has warned… Sir Patrick Vallance said that would be expected to lead to about '200-plus deaths per day' a month after that."

"The death toll from the spread of coronavirus in the United States was approaching over 200,000 lives on Monday, more than double the number of fatalities in India, the country reporting the second-highest number of cases in the world."

"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance on its website to say coronavirus can commonly spread 'through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols,' which are produced even when a person breathes." Jazz hands.

"From empty pizza boxes to Amazon cartons, household trash cans are overflowing with the refuse of our new, stay-at-home era — and cities are struggling to keep up… Residential trash volume spiked as much as 25% this spring, according to the trade group Solid Waste Association of North America. It has shrunk a bit since then but remains well above pre-pandemic levels."

More guns make us safer… "At least 40 rounds were fired during a shooting that left two people dead and over a dozen others injured at a house party in upstate New York, authorities said… The party in Rochester started early Saturday as an invite-only event before it eventually grew in size after two nearby parties "infiltrated" the house. Three or four people had handguns, Capt. Frank Umbrino said."

"A White business owner charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting a Black man during protests in Nebraska has died by suicide days after his indictment, his attorney said Sunday… A grand jury on Tuesday charged Gardner, 38, with manslaughter in the death of James Scurlock, the Black man authorities say Gardner shot May 30 during a protest against police brutality and racial injustice outside Gardner's bar in Omaha, Nebraska. Gardner was also charged with attempted assault, making terroristic threats and using a gun to commit a felony."

"The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday effectively established a three-part test that must be met before it will raise interest rates: the economy must be at 'maximum employment,' inflation must have 'risen to 2 percent' and it must be 'on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.'" This, IMHO, is Very Bad™.

"So, in the present moment of booming stock markets and child hunger, you might be feeling too inured to America’s grotesque levels of inequality to summon much interest in yet another report testifying to the one percent’s total victory in the 50 Years Class War… But a new study from the Rand Corporation, in partnership with the Fair Work Center, illustrates the impact of a half-century of upward redistribution in bracingly concrete terms: If income had been distributed as evenly over the past five decades as it was in 1975, the median full-time worker in the U.S. would enjoy annual earnings of roughly $92,000 a year. As is, that worker makes just $50,000."

"The Pentagon slammed the Chinese armed forces for threatening Taiwan with joint military moves as a senior U.S. official conducted a rare visit to the self-ruling island claimed by the mainland government in Beijing."

What if we threw a war and nobody came? "The Trump administration unilaterally declared Saturday that international sanctions on Iran, lifted as part of a 2015 nuclear accord, have been reimposed… There's one problem: Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – the other signatories to the deal President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from – have no intention of enforcing those sanctions."

"President Donald Trump is trying to max out on his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran weeks before the election, setting up a messy diplomatic fight — and potential volatility in the Middle East — just as the president pitches himself as the region’s chief peacemaker." It's called "flailing" and it's never a pretty site.

"President Trump has given tentative approval to a deal that will keep TikTok alive in the U.S., resolving a months-long confrontation between a hit app popularized by lip-syncing teens and White House officials who viewed the service as a national security risk." So, somehow, with this sale, these applications are no longer a threat to US security? "That arrangement appears to satisfy the White House's concerns over the security of American user data, even though Chinese tech company ByteDance is expected to hold its majority-ownership position." I call bullshit.

"President Donald Trump is adamant that a tentative deal involving short-form video app TikTok will include a $5 billion fund to 'educate people' about the 'real history of our country.'… That appears to have taken TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance by surprise, and created even more confusion about how the finer points of an already complicated deal will work in practice." Double bullshit.

"Weeks before the Trump administration announced it was cutting the 2020 census schedule short, career officials at the Census Bureau attempted to send signal flares about how that last-minute decision would lead to 'fatal' data problems with the national head count and the perception of 'politically-manipulated results…' Internal emails and memos, which were released this weekend as part of a federal lawsuit in California, show career officials trying to hold the integrity of the once-a-decade count together in the last weeks of July amid mounting pressure from the administration to abandon the extended timeline it had previously approved in response to the coronavirus pandemic."

"It’s a tale of two feeds, because thanks to confirmation bias and powerful proprietary algorithms, social media platforms ensure we only get a single side of every story… Even though most Americans continue to describe themselves as holding balanced views, we still naturally gravitate toward certain content online. Over time, algorithms turn slight preferences into a polarized environment in which only the loudest voices and most extreme opinions on either side can break through the noise."

"U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said border restrictions between Canada and the United States because of the novel coronavirus pandemic would be lifted 'pretty soon', just hours after the two countries confirmed they would remain in place until at least Oct. 21." The president is lying.

"Weighing the president down in his reelection bid is his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and race relations, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll… More than half of Americans — 56% — disapprove of the job President Trump has done handling the pandemic." It's only 56%? JFC people aren't you all paying attention? (I mean, I know you all are, but :: waves hand around indicating everything ::)

"The White House announced Friday nearly $13 billion in federal aid to help rebuild Puerto Rico's electrical grid system and the education system… The funding is a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), and the announcement comes as Puerto Rico continues to struggle to fully recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria three years ago." Someone is worried about their reelection.

"'As a community social worker, I can tell you that Puerto Rico's recovery, if it can be called that, didn't come thanks to the government. It came from nonprofit associations, it came from the neighbors themselves. It came from foundations. It came from the hands of other people who supported the families that suffered the most,' Perez said in Spanish."

"A woman suspected of sending a package containing the poison ricin to the White House is expected to appear in a New York court Monday, following her arrest at the U.S.-Canada border, authorities said… The suspect was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Peace Bridge border crossing near Buffalo on Sunday and is expected to face federal charges in connection with the package which was intercepted in the past week, a law enforcement official said."

"The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has raised the profile of a case that marks the latest existential threat to the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case the week after the general election in November."

"President Donald Trump said Monday that he will probably announce his Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday or Saturday."

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Friday that whomever President Donald Trump nominates to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will get a vote on the Senate floor, signaling a historic fight in Congress over one of the most polarizing issues in American politics."

"Senate Democrats, lacking votes to stop President Donald Trump's pick to fill the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat, are weighing an array of tactics to battle back -- ranging from bringing the chamber to a screeching halt this year to pushing legislation to expand the court if they win the majority in the fall."

"Young Americans favor Joe Biden over President Trump, according to a new survey, but Trump's supporters appear more enthusiastic about that choice."

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Linkee-poo 2020 can fuck right the fucking fuck off

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and so it goes.

Of course they will nominate a replacement justice. More than likely they will seat a replacement (yes, yes, the Concerned Senator Caucus is Very Concerned™ once again, but once the check clears they will vote, just like they did for Brett Kavanaugh, just like they didn't for Merrick Garland). Did you really expect them not to? Did you really expect them to have morals, scruples, consistency, or conscienciousness? For those who stayed home or voted third party, how do you feel about your protest vote now?

Yes, this is bad. And not the least of it is how Justice Ginsburg has not even been buried and we can't mourn her and celebrate her life because there is no time if we want to save our democracy.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Linkee-poo puts the ape in apricot

"If there is life on Venus, it might want to start learning Russian. The boss of Russia's government space agency has claimed it as a 'Russian planet.'… The bold territorial claim comes on the heels of scientific research suggesting life could exist on Earth's celestial neighbor, the second planet from the sun." Ah, yeah, Sergie.

"Scientists have found a clever new way of measuring ocean warming, using sound waves from undersea earthquakes… Their new method shows the decadal warming trend in the Indian Ocean was far higher than previous estimates."

"Nearly 30 Massachusetts high school students have been told to quarantine after parents sent their child to school despite knowing that the teen was positive for the coronavirus." Jazz hands!

"This means the same proportion of people have been infected in Kenya's two biggest cities as have been infected in some of the hardest hit parts of New York City. But not only has the death rate been low, but the country's health ministry has repeatedly stated that about 90 percent of Kenyans who have tested positive have proven asymptomatic."

"Now at the beginning of the Jewish High Holiday season, Israel entered a second lockdown on Friday as coronavirus cases soar in a country of around 9 million people."

"Britain was on Friday considering whether to impose a second national lockdown, after new COVID-19 cases almost doubled to 6,000 per day, hospital admissions rose and infection rates soared across parts of northern England and London."

"'Pandemic fatigue' has set in across parts of Europe where the outbreak is on the rise again in some countries that were hailed early on for stamping out massive outbreaks." Whispers, pandemic fatigue is not just in Europe.

"The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that weekly coronavirus case numbers are rising in Europe at a higher rate than during the pandemic's peak in March… At a virtual news conference, Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO in Europe, warned, 'We do have a very serious situation unfolding before us.'" Rhut rho.

"That apparent lack of footage is critical, considering that the narrative of what happened during the attempted arrest of Reinoehl in the town of Lacey, Washington, is so confusing. An eyewitness interviewed by VICE News said he did not see Reinoehl pull a weapon; U.S. Marshals, who led a fugitive task force arresting Reinoehl, initially said he drew his weapon on officers and was subsequently shot… The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office (TCOS), which was not involved in the shooting but is investigating the Reinoehl killing, clarified that he had a handgun at the time of his death, but the TCOS wasn’t yet sure whether he drew or fired it… President Trump has described Reinoehl's killing as 'retribution.'" How convenient.

"A Salt Lake City police officer is facing a felony charge stemming from an April encounter in which he ordered a police dog to attack a Black man who was on his knees with his hands raised, seemingly complying with officer commands… Salt Lake City District Attorney Sim Gill announced the aggravated assault charge on Wednesday. He alleges that officer Nickolas Pearce did "attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another" during the April 24 encounter with Jeffery Ryans."

The economic toll of the pandemic isn't being distributed evenly. "Sixty percent of Black households are facing serious financial problems since the pandemic began, according to a national poll released this week by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. That includes 41% who say they've used up most or all their savings, while an additional 10% had no savings before the outbreak." Again, the pandemic isn't causing these inequities, it's just making them easier to see.

"Belarus's president, beleaguered by six weeks of mass protests demanding his resignation, has announced he is putting troops on high alert and closing the country's borders with Poland and Lithuania."

"Citing national security concerns, the U.S. government said it will bar downloads in the U.S. of the Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat apps starting Sunday… In its announcement Friday, the Commerce Department accused China's communist leaders of having shown 'the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S.,'" Funny how this only came about after TikTok users spoofed the Trump campaign's Oklahoma rally.

Remember when conservatives lost their minds over Common Core which basically said, “kids who graduate should be able to read and do math” as being something forced down their throats by the Federal Government and we need to keep local control of schools? President Trump just said, "Hold my beer." "In austere, starkly divisive remarks, President Trump on Thursday said he would create a commission to promote 'patriotic education' and announced the creation of a grant to develop a 'pro-American curriculum.' The move is largely political — a reaction to a growing push by some academics for schools to teach an American history that better acknowledges slavery and systemic racism." Hang on to your asses, folks. The crazy is only just starting.

"The precarious financial position that some friends of Trump and other hotel executives are now in has fueled an intense lobbying campaign aimed at persuading the Trump administration, the Federal Reserve and Congress to rescue hundreds of hotel industry players that relied on riskier Wall Street debt to finance their lodging empires before the virus hit… They are making the case that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has the power — and access to the billions of federal funds he needs — to extend existing coronavirus relief efforts to the commercial real estate sector, which so far has been cut off from most of the stimulus money." And now you know why Mnuchin wanted full control over the money with no overbite. The swamp in all it's glory.

"The one person Republicans were using as a source of 'dirt' on former Vice President Joe Biden, Andrii Derkach, was officially sanctioned by President Donald Trump’s Treasury Department for being an 'active Russian agent.' Now, Trump’s favorite conservative outlet, OANN, is scrambling to remove any mention of his name from their website. They neglected to remove other spellings of his name, however."

"A woman has accused President Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her at the 1997 U.S. Open in New York. In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Amy Dorris said Mr. Trump groped various parts of her body and forced his tongue into her mouth outside a bathroom at the event." Wow, it's almost like that Access Hollywood tape was correct.

"Some Jewish Americans are fiercely condemning President Donald Trump for repeating rhetoric they consider to be 'textbook anti-Semitism.'… During an annual White House conference call to honor the upcoming High Holidays on Wednesday, Trump told American Jewish leaders, 'we really appreciate you, we love your country also and thank you very much.'"

How's that swamp draining going? "In late 2019, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina co-sponsored a bill on prescription drug prices — and WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina, is reporting that Tillis received more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from pharma-associated political action committees 'within two weeks.'" All the money is being drained right into their pockets.

"Election workers around the country are preparing for what could be one of the most chaotic elections in history. There's not only a pandemic, but dozens of ongoing legal fights over voting rules. That's left a lot of things up in the air only weeks before Election Day… In election offices such as the one in Lehigh County, Pa., workers are trying to deal with the uncertainty." The uncertainty, including the outcome, is the plan.

"Across the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has threatened the democratic process ahead of the presidential election. But the situation is even more acute in Texas, where Republicans have long devised a tortuous system that actively disadvantages minority communities who would generally lean Democratic. Long lines, voter intimidation, voting machine malfunctions and other issues afflicted almost 278,000 Texans during the midterm election in 2018, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project."

"Specifically, DeJoy told the officials that his agency was undertaking a public information campaign to explain to voters that the U.S. Postal Service is equipped to handle the expected increase in mail volume that comes during election season, according to New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who leads the National Association of Secretaries of State, which organized the call." Uh huh. Sure. Yeah, you betcha. If you're going to vote by mail, request your ballot as early as you can, follow the directions, and utilize your state's ballot tracking measures to make sure it's counted.

"A former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence assailed President Donald Trump's response to the pandemic in a new video Thursday, adding to the growing list of former Trump administration officials who have criticized the President and, in several cases, endorsed his Democratic opponent Joe Biden." Seems like a trend.

"This year campaigns and political parties have staffed up their legal war rooms, making this election season one of the most litigated ever. A lot of the on-going lawsuits are due to coronavirus-related election issues, with at least 248 nationwide."