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

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Linkee-poo Sunday Dec 6

"The north-eastern US was braced on Saturday for a powerful storm that forecasters said could bring 18in or more of heavy and wet snow to parts of the region." And so begins the annual, "Where's your global warming now?" season.

"Right before the ascent vehicle lifted off, the lander unfurled what the space administration called the first free-standing Chinese flag on the moon. The agency posted an image — apparently taken from the lander — of the ascend vehicle firing its engines as it took off."

"A Japanese space capsule ferrying sample material from an asteroid — the bounty from a six-year mission spanning billions of miles — made its triumphant return to Earth this weekend… The small capsule that had detached from the Hayabusa2 space probe landed in the vicinity of the town of Woomera, in the Australian Outback, early Sunday Japan time. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, which spearheaded the mission, said a helicopter found the capsule in the planned landing area."

"Britain's Royal Air Force has obtained images of what is considered the largest iceberg as it veers toward the island territory of South Georgia… Pictures of A68a were released Friday following a reconnaissance flight of the iceberg. At roughly 93 miles long and 30 miles wide, the floe is believed to be the world's largest."

"Although correlates of protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans are not yet established, these results show that despite a slight expected decline in titers of binding and neutralizing antibodies, mRNA-1273 has the potential to provide durable humoral immunity. Natural infection produces variable antibody longevity and may induce robust memory B-cell responses despite low plasma neutralizing activity. Although the memory cellular response to mRNA-1273 is not yet defined, this vaccine elicited primary CD4 type 1 helper T responses 43 days after the first vaccination, and studies of vaccine-induced B cells are ongoing. Longitudinal vaccine responses are critically important, and a follow-up analysis to assess safety and immunogenicity in the participants for a period of 13 months is ongoing. Our findings provide support for the use of a 100-μg dose of mRNA-1273 in an ongoing phase 3 trial, which has recently shown a 94.5% efficacy rate in an interim analysis."

"Eleven Southern California counties are set to put a regional stay-at-home order into effect as early as Saturday by 12:59 p.m., CBS Los Angeles reports. The move comes after the region's available intensive care unit beds dropped below 15%, under a new order issued Thursday by Governor Gavin Newsom."

"With coronavirus cases surging and capacity inside intensive care units rapidly nearing dangerously low levels, nearly 85% of California residents will soon be under sweeping new restrictions as part of the state's latest salvo to bring the pandemic under control."

"The CDC on Friday issued its strongest mask guidance yet during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for 'universal mask wearing' in all activity outside of one's home. The new recommendation comes at the end of a week when the U.S. saw its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with more than 3,100 lives lost on Thursday alone."

Mr. "Thoughts and Prayers" meets with real scientists. "Vice President Pence traveled to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday for a briefing, saying America is 'in a season of hope' and 'help is on the way' with emergency use authorization for the first coronavirus vaccine potentially less than two weeks away… But what Pence heard from some of the nation's top public health officials was a grim assessment of the current state of the pandemic." No word on if he actually fiddled during the meeting or not.

How goes Brexit? "Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen are speaking as they try to break the post-Brexit trade deal stalemate… The leaders were called in after negotiators for the two sides said 'significant divergences' remained following a week of intensive talks." Well, the good news is even if they don't have an actual deal by January 1st, there is nothing preventing them from keeping up negotiations. Especially when the general UK populace realizes they got the fuzzy end of the lollipop stick.

"Wildlife, nature and the climate will benefit from the biggest shake-up in farming policy in England for 50 years, according to government plans… The £1.6bn subsidy farmers receive every year for simply owning or renting land will be phased out by 2028, with the funds used instead to pay them to restore wild habitats, create new woodlands, boost soils and cut pesticide use."

"About 150 General Motors dealers have accepted buyouts and will stop selling Cadillacs as the Detroit automaker pivots the luxury brand to lead its all-electric vehicle efforts, a person familiar with the details confirmed to CNBC."

"At least 18 people have been confirmed dead following a carbon monoxide leak inside a coal mine in southwest China, the nation's Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday."

"The Pentagon said Friday it is pulling most U.S. troops out of Somalia on President Donald Trump's orders, continuing a post-election push by Mr. Trump to shrink U.S. involvement in counterterrorism missions abroad… Without providing details, the Pentagon said in a short statement that 'a majority' of U.S. troops and assets in Somalia will be withdrawn in early 2021. There are currently about 700 troops in the Horn of Africa nation, training and advising local forces in an extended fight against the extremist group al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaida."

"Saudi Arabia and Qatar are expected to reach an agreement within days that will help ease a standoff that has embroiled the Gulf region since 2017, three people briefed on the discussions told NBC News on Friday."

"Microwave radiation is the 'most plausible' cause of migraines, dizziness, memory loss and other ailments that dozens of U.S. diplomats have complained of while serving in Cuba and China, a new report says… Since 2016, the so-called Havana Syndrome has afflicted more than 40 U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in the Cuban capital at least a dozen more at the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China. At the request of the State Department, the National Academies of Sciences investigated and produced a 64-page report."

"A more combative Ivanka Trump has emerged with little more than one month left in her role as adviser to President Donald Trump, as the first daughter makes a conscious effort to publicly push back on her critics… According to a source familiar with her thinking, Ivanka Trump recognizes there is a time stamp on the administration and she's spent the last several weeks highlighting on social media the causes she feels she has impacted during her tenure, as well as showing hints she is ready for a fight." The poster-child for entitled, white privilege wants you to know she's not going anywhere.

"A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore an Obama-era initiative that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, requiring officials to open the program to new applicants for the first time since 2017."

Doing the bare minimum… "U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced on Friday that the payment pause and interest waiver for student loan borrowers will be extended through the end of January… The department said it would also halt collection activity on federal student loans, including garnishing wages and Social Security checks, until next year."

"The House on Friday passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, a sweeping measure that aims to reduce racial inequities in drug arrests. The measure, which would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances and expunge federal convictions for non-violent marijuana offenses, now goes to the Senate, where it is unlikely to pass."

"About a month before the election, Curtis Woodall logged on to Amazon and ordered an American flag. The 72-year-old Vietnam War veteran and retired infantry soldier had taken down his old flag about a year into the Trump administration. 'It hurt. It did,' Woodall said. But he didn’t want anyone in his neighborhood outside Columbia, South Carolina, to associate him with President Donald Trump’s racial rhetoric or anti-immigrant policies. He grew angry when he saw American flags on pickup trucks around town. 'They’ve always got a Trump flag and the American flag,' he said. 'And I said, "That’s bull. That is desecrating the flag that I served over 20 years with."'"

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday told a private gathering of political donors and corporate executives that he has urged President Donald Trump to 'fight on' to overturn November’s election results… In wide-ranging remarks made in person behind closed doors at a meeting of the Associated Industries of Florida, DeSantis dismissed the risks of the coronavirus, contradicted science and targeted U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He also defended Trump's attempt to fight the results of the election." There is no meeting in the middle for crazy.

"Georgia's campaign ads tell a tale of two states: Raphael Warnock’s ads are bright and sunny, featuring the pastor expounding on health care policy, telling his family story and walking a puppy. But the majority of Kelly Loeffler’s spots take a grimmer tone, attacking Warnock as 'the most dangerous, radical candidate in America.' In one ad, the camera pans across a photo of Warnock, who is Black, darkened and superimposed over footage of riots. 'Saving the Senate,' the narrator intones, 'is about saving America … from that.'"

"President Donald Trump heads to Georgia on Saturday to campaign for two Republican senators one month ahead of a critical runoff that will determine which party controls the Senate. But Trump's visit comes as he has spent the last several weeks consumed by his own election loss while attacking party officials in the state, casting doubt on its voting process and questioning one of the lawmakers he's urging voters to elect."

There's always been whackaloons in the military. "Less than a week later, on Dec. 1, Flynn tweeted his support for the right-wing group, We The People, which called on Trump to 'immediately declare a limited form of Martial Law, and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections, for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a re-vote.'" Fortunately they've been few and far between.

"Friday was a disastrous day for the Trump campaign, which has repeatedly tried and failed to overturn the presidential election results in key states. Within a span of hours, the legal teams of Trump and allied Republicans lost challenges in courts in six states."

In other news… "California certified its presidential election Friday and appointed 55 electors pledged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, officially handing him the Electoral College majority needed to win the White House." Joe Biden wins again.

"President-elect Joe Biden says he thinks it’s important for the sake of appearances that President Trump attend his inauguration — although as far as he’s concerned 'it’s of no personal consequence.'… Trump, who is continuing to contest the results of the election, hasn’t said whether he intends to be there when Biden takes the oath of office on Jan. 20." Trump doesn't care about anything but himself.

"While President Trump continues to baselessly allege widespread election fraud, the political world is starting to move on from his presidency." And so yawns the memory hole.

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