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

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Linkee-poo Wednesday Dec 2

"China has successfully put another probe on the Moon… Its robotic Chang'e-5 mission touched down a short while ago with the aim of collecting samples of rock and dust to bring back to Earth."

"Kurt Papenfus, a doctor in the small town of Cheyenne Wells, Colo., started to feel sick around Halloween. He developed a scary cough, intestinal symptoms and a headache. In the midst of a pandemic, the news that he had COVID-19 wasn't surprising, but Papenfus' illness would have repercussions far beyond his own health… Papenfus is the lone full-time emergency room doctor in the town of 900, not far from the Kansas line."

"The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for mass vaccination… Britain's medicines regulator, the MHRA, says the jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe to be rolled out."

"MPs voted for the UK government's tougher Covid tiers system for England by 291 votes to 78… It means new tier restrictions will replace the current lockdown at midnight."

"The pandemic rages on. More than 180,000 people were diagnosed yesterday. States and cities are closing businesses. Nearly 800,000 people are applying for unemployment every week… Despite all this, Congress has not passed an economic relief package since late April — and a set of vital relief measures helping millions of Americans avoid financial ruin and eviction are all set to expire this month."

The gig economy, in China… "The delivery workers described grueling routines: 12-hour days, six days a week, under the automated and watchful eye of mobile apps that track how and when they deliver hundreds of packages a day… Delivery workers are a critical link in China's on-demand courier services, which ship more than 60 billion packages a year and generate nearly 1% of the country's annual economic activity."

"Three prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were sentenced to jail Wednesday for a protest outside police headquarters as authorities stepped up a crackdown on opposition to tighten control by Beijing over the territory."

"President Trump is threatening to veto a critical defense spending bill unless Congress agrees to repeal a liability shield for social media companies." This would be considered normal politics, if it didn't personally benefit the president, which this would. What's hilarious is that without these protections, social media companies would have to censor even more.

"At least five conservative justices have signaled that they are eager to revive the 'non-delegation doctrine,' the constitutional principle that Congress can’t give ('delegate') too much lawmaking power to the executive branch. On paper, the rule requires Congress, when delegating power to an agency, to articulate an 'intelligible principle' (like air pollution regulation needed 'to protect public health') to guide the agency’s exercise of that power. But in practice, the nondelegation doctrine is effectively dead. The court has only struck down two statutes on nondelegation grounds—and none since 1935."

"Overall, however, DeVos didn’t accomplish much of her school-choice agenda. Her hallmark “education freedom” campaign, which sought to create a national private-school voucher program, didn’t come to fruition. Congress repeatedly killed that proposal, which in its latest iteration sought to allocate $5 billion toward tax-credit scholarships for private school." Incompetence is not an excuse for reprehensible behavior. But she did do a lot of damage.

"But this year, in a survey of more than 700 colleges and universities, the Institute of International Education found total international enrollment plummeted 16% between fall of 2019 and fall of 2020. Statistics on new international students was even grimmer — a 43% drop. Tens of thousands have deferred enrollment." International students are big money for college and universities.

"'The future will take care of itself,' said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when asked why he had not condemned Trump’s unproven claims. 'The Electoral College is going to meet December 14th, there will be an inauguration January 20th.'" The spineless tradition continues.

"'Someone's going to get hurt, someone's going to get shot, someone's going to get killed,' Gabriel Sterling, with the secretary of state's office, said Tuesday afternoon in an emotional and forceful news conference. 'It's not right.'… Among other things, a Twitter thread accusing a young technician working on the recount of altering votes led to his identity being released and calls for him to be 'hung for treason.'"

It's a put up or shut up moment. "Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared Tuesday the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election."

But then, AG Barr's hand may be being played for him… "The opinion, entered by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell on Aug. 28, is tied to an ongoing investigation that may involve at least two individuals who 'acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials, without complying with the registration requirement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act … to secure "a pardon or reprieve of sentence for"' one individual whose name is redacted… The investigation also involves an alleged offer by another individual to 'offer a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence.'"

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain, the anticipated and expected retort… "President Trump on Tuesday dismissed reports that the Justice Department was investigating claims of a bribery scheme involving a possible presidential pardon… 'Pardon investigation is Fake News!' the president wrote in a Twitter message."

"Since he was confirmed as attorney general, William Barr has been somewhat of a hero in the right-wing media universe. He has assailed the Russia probe. He has talked a big game about cracking down on Antifa. He has sharply criticized the news media. On and on it goes… But his celebrity status took a hit on Tuesday when he undercut President Trump's brazenly false contention that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 election." In authoritarian regimes, eventually everyone is on the outside.

"Concerned about Republicans slow-walking confirmation hearings for Cabinet appointees and hollowed-out federal agencies, Biden and his aides are eager to place mid- to lower-level officials across the federal government, particularly in national security roles, to ensure his administration can begin to enact his agenda immediately, according to three people familiar with the situation."

"Democrats will pick up a Senate seat on Wednesday when former astronaut Mark Kelly is sworn in as a US senator for Arizona after defeating Republican Sen. Martha McSally last month… While other senators-elect will have to wait until January to be sworn in for the new Congress, Kelly is able to take the oath of office right away since he won a special election. The swearing-in is slated to take place Wednesday afternoon."

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