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

Friday, January 29, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday Jan 29

Cicely Tyson, and so it goes.

And the pendulum swings back… "The moon dictates the pushes and pulls of the tides, but it could also affect our sleep… As we head toward the first full moon of the year on Thursday night, take note: In the days leading up to a full moon, people go to bed later and sleep less, according to a study published in Science Advances on Wednesday."

Something new has been added… "Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe they have identified a new species of whale in the Gulf of Mexico. The Rice's whale is a filter feeder that can grow to 42 feet. It's also critically endangered. There are believed to be fewer than 100 of them left."

"Avoid pain relief medications just before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but they are 'perfectly fine' to take after, experts say."

"Some people got out of bed overnight to get vaccinated for COVID-19 to keep vaccines from going to waste… The clinics were set up when Kaiser Permanente had 1,600 doses that needed to be used by 5:30 a.m. Friday due to an issue that allowed the vaccine to become warmed."

"Johnson & Johnson’s long-awaited vaccine appears to protect against COVID-19 with just one shot – not as strong as some two-shot rivals but still potentially helpful for a world in dire need of more doses."

"The European Union's medicines regulator on Friday recommended authorizing the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for use among its 27 member states, capping off a turbulent week which saw the bloc attack the drugmaker over delays to supply… The long-awaited decision from the European Medicines Agency came after several EU countries warned they were running out of vaccine doses, and as coronavirus deaths pile up across the continent." Running out of other vaccine does is not a good reason to approve a new vaccine.

"Germany's vaccine commission said the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine should not be given to people older than 65 years, amid a bitter dispute between the European Union and the drugmaker over delayed supplies."

"Joseph Mensah, who quit his job as a police officer in Wauwatosa, Wis., after shooting and killing three people in the line of duty over a five-year period, has a new job as a sheriff's deputy. Sheriff Eric Severson of neighboring Waukesha County says multiple authorities concluded Mensah's controversial use of force was both legal and in line with his training… In announcing the hire, Severson acknowledged that 'some have expressed concerns about Mr. Mensah's past uses of force.' But he said Mensah had gone through 'an extensive, thorough and exhaustive hiring process.'"

"The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes declined slightly for the fourth straight month, but it was still a record high for December."

"U.S. consumers slowed their spending by 0.2% in December, cutting back for a second straight month in a worrisome sign for an economy struggling under the weight of a still out-of-control pandemic."

"Total U.S. workers compensation rose 0.7% in the October-December quarter, an increase over the previous two quarters, the Labor Department said Friday. Growth was 0.5% in the second and third quarters, down from 0.8% in the first three months of the year." And how's your paycheck?

"A liquid nitrogen leak at a poultry plant northeast of Atlanta killed six workers and sent 11 more to the hospital Thursday. At least three of the people hospitalized are in critical condition, officials said." Fuck.

"In that spirit of low-grade confrontation, a few weeks before Americans cast their ballots in the 2020 election, NSA operators gave their Russian counterparts a little tweak: They sent individualized emails to specific Russian hackers, just to let them know U.S. cyber forces had their eye on them. It was an electronic version, in a sense, of that postcard that went to FireEye's Mandia… Did Nakasone's discussion of U.S. cyber capabilities inspire Russian hackers to do something epic just to prove they could? Kiersten Todt, managing director of the Cyber Readiness Institute, said that while that might have played a small role, Russian cyber forces hardly needed an excuse to try their hand at compromising American networks."

"The Reddit community's actions have had such an impact that TD Ameritrade took the extraordinary step earlier this week to limit share trading on Game Stop and AMC stocks, "out of an abundance of caution amid unprecedented market conditions." Nasdaq as well warned that it will halt trading on stocks it thinks are being manipulated by social media." Note trading companies have absolutely no problem with hedge funds manipulating prices with short sells and limited buy-ups, or any of the so-called business analysts broadcasting buy and sell calls. Are a lot of people going to be burned in this? Yes. Several hedge funds already have been burned (although probably not as much as they were, note the wild downward swings in the price as well, those more than likely were "sweetheart" deals to limit their losses).

"Short selling (is)… a common but controversial way of trading in financial markets. Let's say an investor decides a company's share price is overvalued and likely to fall… Markets provide a way to make that bet. The investor borrows shares of the company, normally from a broker… The short seller then quickly sells the borrowed shares into the market and hopes that the shares will fall in price. If the share prices do indeed fall, then the investor buys those same shares back at a lower price."

"The chair of Arizona's Republican Party has been a leading voice for false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen… Now Kelli Ward faces questions from her fellow Republicans about the state party's recent election of party leaders, and possibly her own reelection as party chair."

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took aim Thursday at Republican leadership, saying the GOP had ignored a wave of threats and comments by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a promoter of QAnon and other conspiracy theories, and placed her on the House Education Committee despite her questioning of school shootings." She's been purging her social media accounts of prior postings. Whackaloon quotient remains sky high.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Linkee-poo on a busy Thursday Jan 28

Cloris Leachman, and so it goes.

"New coronavirus variants seem to be cropping up everywhere. There's one from the U.K., which is more contagious and already circulating in the United States. There's one from South Africa, which is forcing Moderna and Pfizer to reformulate their COVID-19 vaccines and create 'booster' shots, just to make sure the vaccines maintain their efficacies… But for some scientists, the most worrying variant might be the newest one. A variant called P.1, which emerged in early December in Manaus, Brazil, and by mid-January had already caused a massive resurgence in cases across the city of 2 million people." You mean there's a fault to the idea of just letting the virus run wild in hopes we gain "herd immunity"? Shocked, shocked I am…

"An angry red rash being called 'COVID arm' is a harmless but annoying response in some people who get the Moderna vaccine. Aside from sometimes being itchy, it doesn't appear to be dangerous and people who get it should not hesitate to get their second dose of the vaccine, doctors say."

"New U.S cases of the coronavirus have fallen 35% from their Jan. 11 peak, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The average number of daily cases has fallen to about 162,000, from 249,000." Up and down, round and round you're turning me.

"President Biden will sign two executive actions Thursday that are designed to expand access to reproductive health care and health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid." There will be a special enrollment period, and the Mexico City Policy will be (once again) reversed. As to the Mexico City Policy, that global healthcare providers who receive US funds can't mention abortion, and it's designed intent to reduce abortions… "However, a study released last year suggested the policy failed to reduce the rate of abortions and ultimately had the opposite effect. The study said the rate of abortions increased by about 40% in the countries studied — most likely because the funding ban caused a reduction in access to contraception and a consequent rise in unwanted pregnancies." Yes, "right-to-life initiatives" often lead to an increase in the abortion rates.

"The US economy grew at an annualized and seasonally adjusted rate of 4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, just as economists had predicted, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. But that didn't make up for a bad first quarter and an historically awful second quarter… For 2020 as a whole, GDP decreased by 3.5% from the prior year. That was the worst decline since 1946." Best economy ever.

The GameStop thing… "Melvin Capital closed out its short position in GameStop on Tuesday afternoon after taking a huge loss, the hedge fund’s manager told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin… GameStop, hedge funds’ most-hated stock, was targeted by an army of retail investors who marshaled forces against short sellers in online chat rooms. In the Reddit forum “wallstreetbets” with more than 2 million subscribers, rookie investors encouraged each other to pile into GameStop’s shares and call options, creating massive short squeezes in the stock." And now some small trade shops have delisted GameStop to stop the blood loss the hedge funds are feeling.

"The White House is likely to delay its roll out of a string of executive orders on immigration, including the long-awaited announcement of a task force to reunite migrant families separated under the Trump administration, according to two sources familiar with the discussions."

"Joe Biden has vowed to strengthen the US’s alliance with Japan to counter growing Chinese military activity in the volatile Asia-Pacific region, including a commitment to defend the Senkakus, a group of islands in the East China sea administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing."

"Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, has a past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement, repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012, according to a former prosecutor and a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding obtained by Reuters." Ouch, that's gonna leave a mark. I hope they did their homework to make sure it'll stand up to scrutiny.

"While pundits ponder the GOP's future -- and traditionalists hope to change course out of the wreckage left by Trump's insurrection -- Washington's power players and state activists have already made their choice… Highlighting the former President's lightning fast rehabilitation, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will visit Trump in Florida on Thursday after repudiating his own criticism of the incitement of the US Capitol riot." White supremacy is a hellofa high, they just can't quit it. It's all about ruling instead of governance.

"In the video from March 2019, Greene follows Hogg as he walks toward the US Capitol. She can be heard making false and baseless claims as she asks him a series of questions related to gun rights and how he was able to meet with senators. Hogg continues to walk without addressing Greene… 'He's a coward,' Greene says at the end of the video as Hogg walks away, claiming his activism was funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who is often the subject of far-right conspiracy theories, and other liberals. 'He can't say one word because he can't defend his stance.'"

"Rep. Jimmy Gomez wants Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene booted from Congress… A two-thirds majority is required to expel a member from the House, meaning Gomez’s resolution is almost certain to fail in a chamber where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority. Still, the measure is one of the starkest rebukes yet against the congresswoman, who has antagonized her peers by flouting coronavirus guidelines and has garnered national attention for engaging in the QAnon conspiracy theory. She has also denied the Parkland school shooting, and was filmed spreading racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic comments, prompting condemnation from the leadership of her own party." This is another test of party vs country, and it's a test the Republicans will fail.

"The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden’s election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks." And that's why the president must be found guilty and there needs to be consequences for all of those people involved.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday Jan 27

"Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano, erupted Wednesday emitting a river of lava into the mountain below and gas clouds into the sky."

"President Joe Biden on Wednesday is set to sign several executive orders to tackle climate change and transition the country to a clean energy economy, the White House said… The executive actions include establishing climate change as a national security priority, conserving at least 30% of federal land and oceans by 2030 and canceling new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters, according to a review of the orders released by the administration."

"In an effort to slow the nation's contribution to climate change, President Biden is expected to begin halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters." Good.

"President Biden announced Tuesday that his administration is working to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the two COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use, with the goal, the White House says, of having enough vaccine supply for the entire adult U.S. population by the end of the summer."

"AstraZeneca is pushing back strongly against criticism from EU officials over delayed deliveries of its Covid-19 vaccine… In an interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica on Tuesday, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said the company had agreed to make its 'best effort' to deliver the doses EU countries had ordered but was not contractually committed to a schedule."

"Scarcely a day goes by that Gov. Ron DeSantis isn't holding a news conference somewhere in Florida, talking about his policy of providing the COVID-19 vaccine to "seniors first." The state now leads the nation in vaccinating senior citizens. In a state with 4.5 million people 65 and over, that's good news. The bad news is that in Florida, as elsewhere, the demand far exceeds the supply of vaccine, creating a first-come-first-served process that has left some groups out."

"A review of data from K-12 schools that reopened for in-person instruction in the fall has found little evidence that schools contributed meaningfully to the spread of COVID-19, according to a new article published Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association." Note, however, the appalling lack of testing of young students.

"China has begun using anal swabs to test those it considers to be at high risk of contracting Covid-19, state TV has reported… Officials took anal swabs from residents of neighbourhoods with confirmed Covid-19 cases in Beijing last week, according to the state broadcaster CCTV, while those in designated quarantine facilities have also had the tests." Put that methodology in your drive-thru testing center.

"When the Biden administration holds its first coronavirus briefing Wednesday, there will be no cameo from the president, no speakers behind the White House podium jousting with reporters, and no data coming from outside the federal agencies involved in the pandemic response." Look, actual planning.

"Today, most consumers still aren't able to buy N95 masks, because the supply available to retailers remains very limited. Even hospital workers are still being asked to ration and reuse their supplies of N95s, and the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, 'N-95 respirators should not be used [by the general public] because they should be conserved for healthcare personnel.'" And I'll let you in on a little secret, the ones we get now (actually for all our PPE) don't seem to have high quality production and consistency. They fit oddly, sometimes the fasteners aren't fully protected (so you feel them scrape at your face), and the length of the straps to hold them on vary.

"The Biden administration could be open to adjusting eligibility levels for the next round of coronavirus stimulus checks to ensure the relief flows to families who need the emergency funds the most, the president’s top economic advisor said Tuesday morning."

"Some Republican senators have expressed concerns about the $1.9 trillion price tag on President Biden's proposal for a new coronavirus relief bill, as congressional Democrats consider pursuing a procedure to pass the legislation without any Republican votes."

"The Justice Department has ended the Trump era 'zero tolerance' policy for immigration offenses that allowed the U.S. government to separate thousands of children from their parents… Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson rescinded the policy Tuesday in a memo sent to federal prosecutors."

"President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated preexisting global problems and imbalances, and that these could deteriorate to a point where there is a fight of 'all against all.'" They're so cute when the saber-rattle. If only this weren't about Putin's growing domestic problems.

"Members of Congress were left stunned during a briefing from law enforcement about their failure to prepare for the insurrection at the US Capitol earlier this month, two members who attended a House Appropriations Committee briefing told CNN on Tuesday, with one saying it was 'dumb luck' more people didn't die."

"The far-reaching investigation into the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol siege continues to grow, as more than 400 suspects have been identified by federal authorities who expect to bring sedition charges against some of those linked to the insurrection… The charges, which carry a maximum punishment of 20 years, would be among the most serious for those in the armed attack to disrupt Congress' counting of President Joe Biden's state-certified electoral victory."

"The Department of Justice has charged more than 150 people and identified hundreds more as suspects in the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump."

"The Senate voted down a motion brought by GOP Senator Rand Paul challenging the constitutionality an impeachment trial against a former president. But just five Republicans joined all Democrats in opposing the measure, an indication that Democrats will not attract the 17 Republicans that would be needed to convict Mr. Trump at trial."

"For decades, the Conservative Political Action Conference has been a staple of Republican politics. In recent years, the conservative confab has been the go-to stop for rising GOP stars, grassroots organizers and luminaries in the Trump movement… But President Donald Trump’s election loss has created hurdles around programming and guest booking. Stringent coronavirus guidelines in Maryland have pushed the conference outside of the Washington area for the first time in nearly 50 years. Previous sponsors aren’t yet committed or have decided to forgo sponsorship entirely because of changes to the event’s format or disappointment in the return on their investment last year. And the president that attendees adored so much may not show up to the event at all."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "The American Conservative Union on Tuesday accused Politico of attempting to 'cancel' the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) by contacting potential sponsors in an act that 'crosses the line from protected speech to political activism.'" Sounds more like someone (coughCPAC organizerscough) got caught lying.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Jan 26

"A tragic Monday night in Fultondale after one person was killed in a tornado, dozens of other people were injured." Oh look, it's tornado season once again.

"For the past five years, scientists with the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission have been studying these marine-terminating glaciers from the air and by ship. They found that of the 226 glaciers surveyed, 74 in deep fjords accounted for nearly half of the total ice loss (as previously monitored by satellites) from Greenland between 1992 and 2017. These glaciers exhibited the most undercutting, which is when a layer of warm, salty water at the bottom of a fjord melts the base of a glacier, causing the ice above to break apart. In contrast, the 51 glaciers that extend into shallow fjords or onto shallow ridges experienced the least undercutting and contributed only 15% of the total ice loss." We're learning more on how precisely we're boned.

"California lifted regional stay-at-home orders across the state Monday in response to improving coronavirus conditions, returning the state to a system of county-by-county restrictions, state health officials announced. CBS San Francisco reports the move opens the way for a return to limited restaurant dining, religious services and other activities." I'm sure the recall petition had nothing to do with it.

"Nearly three years after the Weinstein Co. declared bankruptcy, a judge on Monday confirmed a liquidation plan that provides a $17.1 million fund for Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct accusers… The plan also provides $9.7 million to the former officers and directors of the Weinstein Co., allowing them to pay a portion of their legal bills over the last several years." I believe the sum can be described as "a pittance." But unfortunately, it's probably the best they'll get.

"Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will resign on Tuesday morning, his office said in a statement on Monday, heightening political turmoil in the country as it battles Covid-19."

"Allies of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who faces years in prison, called for new protests next weekend to demand his release, following a wave of demonstrations that turned out tens of thousands across the country in a defiant challenge to President Vladimir Putin… Mass rallies took place Saturday in more than 100 cities in what observers said was the largest outpouring of anger in years, and Navalny’s supporters urged protesters to keep up the pressure."

"Tens of thousands of protesting farmers drove long lines of tractors into India’s capital on Tuesday, breaking through police barricades, defying tear gas and storming the historic Red Fort as the nation celebrated Republic Day."

"A third night of rioting has shaken the Netherlands as protesters rampaged through towns and cities around the country after government introduced a night-time curfew… More than 180 people were arrested on Monday in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, where shops were vandalised and looted and the mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, issued an emergency decree giving police broader powers of arrest."

"Trump's useful thugs: how the Republican party offered a home to the Proud Boys." I often wonder how they would react if they encountered the far-left they like to imagine they're fighting.

"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dropped his demand that Democrats maintain the Senate filibuster — ending an early stalemate in the Senate that prevented party leaders from negotiating a power-sharing agreement… Late Monday, McConnell said he was ready to move forward after two Democrats signaled they would not vote to end the legislative filibuster, assuring him that it would stay in place. The position of the two moderate Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — also ensured that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer lacked the votes to end the filibuster, a key demand from his party's left." Hey NPR, that first sentence there, those words don't mean what you think they mean. He didn't drop his demand, he got his way. Those are different.

"Trump showered his allies in the conservative media with VIP treatment, rewarding them with interviews and access, plugging their books and programs, and in some cases seeking their counsel on everything from immigration policy to military airstrikes. But they’re on the outside now — and looking to draw blood from the new administration."

"The new President and first lady settled in at the White House this weekend, and did so with extended Biden family members… 'The residence has life in it again,' a White House source told CNN of the energy inside. 'It's the honeymoon period where everything feels new.'"

"With the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump set to begin in February, nine prominent Republican lawyers, including two former officials in the Trump administration, have signed a letter urging GOP senators to "consider the evidence" before deciding how to vote on conviction."

"Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., will preside over former President Donald Trump's trial in the Senate, a Senate source tells NPR. Leahy, 80, is the president pro tempore of the Senate, a constitutional role given to the longest-serving lawmaker in the majority party. The president pro tempore is third in the line of presidential succession, after the vice president and House speaker."

"Perry was outed by The New York Times in reports over the weekend as working with a senior U.S. Department of Justice attorney on a plan to write a letter to Georgia state legislators advising them that there was an ongoing investigation into vote fraud in the Georgia presidential election, in hopes that it would spur them to invalidate the state’s results, which showed a narrow win for now-President Joseph R. Biden Jr."

"The court instructed the lower courts to wipe away previous lower court opinions that went against Trump because he is no longer in office. It leaves unresolved a novel question raised in the case because Trump, unlike other presidents, did not use a blind trust when he assumed the presidency, but instead continued to retain an interest in his businesses and let those businesses take money from foreign and domestic governments." Apparently you can run out the clock and escape justice, according to SCOTUS.

"Brandon Straka, 44, was arrested on a felony charge of interfering with police during civil disorder. The self-described founder of a movement to 'walk away' from liberalism was also charged with unlawful entry into a restricted building and disorderly conduct."

"Twitter has permanently suspended the account of MyPillow chief Mike Lindell for repeated violations of the company's policy on election misinformation, the social media firm said late on Monday." Another gobber gone.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Linkee-poo and what have we wrought

"The first new skull discovered in nearly a century from a rare species of the iconic, tube-crested dinosaur Parasaurolophus was announced today in the journal PeerJ. The exquisite preservation of the skull, especially the bizarre tube-shaped nasal passage, finally revealed the structure of the crest after decades of disagreement."

"Earth’s ice is melting faster today than in the mid-1990s, new research suggests, as climate change nudges global temperatures ever higher." We're boned.

"Anti-vaccine groups are exploiting the suffering and death of people who happen to fall ill after receiving a covid shot, threatening to undermine the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history… In some cases, anti-vaccine activists are fabricating stories of deaths that never occurred."

"Drugmaker Merck on Monday said it will end development of its two Covid-19 vaccines, and will focus pandemic research on treatments, with initial efficacy data on an experimental oral antiviral expected by the end of March."

"Moderna said Monday it’s accelerating work on a Covid-19 booster shot to guard against the recently discovered variant in South Africa… Its researchers said its current coronavirus vaccine appears to work against the two highly transmissible strains found in the U.K. and South Africa, although it looks like it may be less effective against the latter."

"Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has condemned weekend riots against newly imposed coronavirus restrictions as 'criminal violence'… Rioters attacked police and set cars and bikes on fire to protest against a curfew introduced on Saturday."

"They and other EMTs, paramedics and 911 dispatchers in Southern California have been thrust into the front lines of the national epicenter of the pandemic. They are scrambling to help those in need as hospitals burst with a surge of patients after the holidays, ambulances are stuck waiting outside hospitals for hours until beds become available, oxygen tanks are in alarmingly short supply and the vaccine rollout has been slow."

"The public health system in Manaus (Brazil) collapsed again this month. An unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases has led to an acute shortage of oxygen. The local manufacturer could only meet a fraction of the demand… Some hospital patients have been forced to share cylinders, while others have died in bed from suffocation, according to health workers and patients' families."

"But after viral posts – ironically, widely spread on WhatsApp – claimed that the (updated) privacy policy instead gave the service the right to read users’ messages and hand the information over to its parent company Facebook, WhatsApp announced a delay in the implementation of the new terms of service. 'We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way,' WhatsApp said in an update posted to its site, which it is paying to advertise on Google under searches for 'WhatsApp privacy policy'. The company says it will delay the implementation of its new policy until 15 May." Again, for social media apps, you are the product.

"A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia also ordered that he be brought to Washington for further proceedings… Howell set aside an order issued Friday by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel, of Nashville, that cleared the way for Munchel's release as early as Monday. Howell stayed the lower court's order pending a review." Good.

"Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and other top Justice Department officials spent New Year's Eve berating Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the DOJ's civil division, for repeatedly pushing them to help former President Donald Trump overturn his clear electoral loss and secretly meeting with Trump, The New York Times reports, citing six people with knowledge of the meeting. Rosen thought the matter was settled that night, the Times reports, but Clark continued secretly planning with Trump to intervene in Georgia, including a plot where Trump would fire Rosen and put Clark in his place."

"For the first time since 1983, when Anheuser-Busch used all of its ad time to introduce a beer called Bud Light, the beer giant isn’t advertising its iconic Budweiser brand during the Super Bowl. Instead, it’s donating the money it would have spent on the ad to coronavirus vaccination awareness efforts." They'll still promote their other brands with ads during game time, it's just the "King of Beers" that they won't be pushing.

"Eleven workers trapped for two weeks inside a Chinese gold mine were brought safely to the surface on Sunday, a landmark achievement for an industry long-blighted by disasters and high death tolls… State broadcaster CCTV showed workers being hauled up one-by-one in baskets on Sunday afternoon, their eyes shielded to protect them after so many days in darkness."

"Six people were killed, including a pregnant woman, in a shooting inside an Indianapolis home early Sunday, CBS affiliate WTTV reports. Police said a juvenile was also hospitalized in critical condition. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Randall Taylor described the shooting as a 'mass murder' during a press conference, according to WTTV."

"Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has announced he will not run for a third term in 2022 and instead will retire at the end of his term." Good.

"Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, accusing him of spreading lies to 'purposefully mislead voters' and causing 'irreparable harm' to the company."

"In the aftermath of a divisive election, a riot at the US Capitol and the unprecedented final days of the Trump administration, the Supreme Court kept many controversial issues in a holding pattern of sorts, sticking to Chief Justice John Roberts' objective of keeping his branch of government out of the political spotlight… But now Trump is an ordinary citizen, the Biden administration is in place and the justices are expected as soon as Monday to begin to act on a mound of lingering issues they have been sitting upon, including abortion and the question of former President Donald Trump's tax returns."

"Republican divisions over Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial came into clearer focus on Sunday, as the former president spent his first weekend out of office plotting revenge against those he says betrayed him… Stewing over election defeat by Joe Biden, four days after leaving the White House, Trump continued to drop hints of creating a new party, a threat some saw as a gambit to keep wavering senators in line ahead of the opening of his trial, in the week after 8 February."

"Federal agents have been warning of a surge in far-right violence since at least 2009, but Trump’s malign influence supercharged the threat. The Trump years have seen a flurry of deadly right-wing violence: the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville; 16 pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats and media figures; the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue; and then the Capitol assault, a literal attack on the democratic process by an armed mob fueled by bigotry and conspiracy theories… As Biden’s presidency begins, Americans are faced with the possibility that we are entering a new era of political violence — one that Trump and his party have stoked for years." It's a long piece, but worth it, including this insight… "The Republican Party’s inability to self-police is one of the big reasons to be pessimistic about America’s ability to head off a coming violent wave."

"Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a former White House press secretary for President Donald Trump and daughter of two-term Arkansas Gov.-turned-political commentator Mike Huckabee, officially launched her own gubernatorial bid Monday." Serious eye-roll.

"Arizona Republicans passed resolutions on Saturday to censure three of the state's most prominent party leaders who have found themselves at odds with former President Donald Trump: Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, widow of late longtime Sen. John McCain." No, the GOP has no intention of learning from its mistakes.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Linkee-poo Weekend Jan 23

Henry "Hank" Aaron, Mira Furlan, and Larry King,and so it goes.

Fighting hookworm in the US versus Argentina. It's harder here.

"With Donald Trump's fake reserves and ongoing issues with distribution, the CDC's new director announced this week that it may be a few months until the COVID-19 vaccine is available for the general public." Yep.

"The Houston Health Department said 1,600 new appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine were booked within five minutes on Friday afternoon. The department said they received an additional 9,000 doses of the vaccine on Friday."

"Pfizer is counting extra coronavirus vaccine it uses to top off each of its vials toward its commitment to deliver 200 million shots for the U.S. pandemic response — even though there aren't enough syringes capable of squeezing out the extra fluid."

"There is 'some evidence' a new Covid variant first identified in the U.K. could be more deadly than the original strain, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday."

Silver linings. "There's a silver lining amid the pandemic: flu cases are down all over the country so far this season… Doctors credit COVID safety protocols to low flu activity. According to the state's flu tracker, only 1 percent of New Yorkers who were tested for the flu were positive."

"The impacts of climate change could prompt millions of Americans to relocate in coming decades, moving inland away from rising seas, or north to escape rising temperatures." Populations are on the move already.

"The San Joaquin Valley was geologically primed for collapse, but its plight is not unique. All over the world—from the Netherlands to Indonesia to Mexico City—geology is conspiring with climate change to sink the ground under humanity’s feet. More punishing droughts mean the increased draining of aquifers, and rising seas make sinking land all the more vulnerable to flooding. According to a recent study published in the journal Science, in the next two decades, 1.6 billion people could be affected by subsidence, with potential loses in the trillions of dollars."

"You've got mail. Somewhere. Probably… The U.S. Postal Service is still digging out from under an avalanche of mail sent during the recent holiday season." That's the problem with that sabotage plan, it will be with us for at least five more years (likely longer).

"Microsoft has filed a patent that would allow the company to digitally revive deceased loved ones as chatbots, using the individual's personal information… The Independent reports that the tech giant has raised the possibility of creating an AI-based chatbot that would be built upon the profile of a person, which includes their "images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages," among other types of personal information. It's understood that the chatbot would then be able to simulate human conversation through voice commands and/or text chats." What fucking marketing ignoramus devised this hellscape? Let me say this clearly, if I ever receive a marketing message like this I will chase that asshole down with a flamethrower.

"Twitter permanently banned an account believed to be linked to Iran's supreme leader Friday after it posted a threatening image that included former President Donald Trump."

"Donald Trump is returning to a family business ravaged by pandemic shutdowns and restrictions, with revenue plunging more than 40 percent at his Doral golf property, his Washington hotel and both his Scottish resorts… Trump’s financial disclosure released as he left office this week was just the latest bad news for his financial empire after banks, real estate brokerages and golf organizations announced they were cutting ties with his company following the storming of the Capitol this month by his political supporters." I have no pity except for his non-executive employees who will be out of a job due to no fault of their own.

"President Biden has asked the director of national intelligence to draw up a comprehensive threat assessment on domestic violent extremism in the country as the new administration seeks to tackle what it calls a 'serious and growing national security threat.'"

"A federal judge on Friday ordered the Treasury Department to give attorneys for former President Donald Trump 72 hours' notice if it decides to turn over Trump’s federal tax returns to House Democrats… District Court Judge Trevor McFadden said the order would last for two weeks, amid uncertainty over how the change in administrations will affect House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal’s long-running effort to get Treasury to turn over Trump’s returns. McFadden also ordered attorneys for all sides in the case to file a joint status report by Feb. 3."

"The words of Donald Trump supporters who are accused of participating in the deadly U.S. Capitol riot may end up being used against him in his Senate impeachment trial as he faces the charge of inciting a violent insurrection."

"The acting CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media continued her sweep of federally funded international broadcasters to remove leaders linked to former President Donald Trump… On Friday evening, Kelu Chao fired the recently appointed presidents and boards of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks named by her predecessor, Trump loyalist Michael Pack. Over his seven months there, Pack had embarked on a scorched-earth assault on the agency's networks, telling conservative media outlets he needed to "drain the swamp" and that its newsrooms were overrun with anti-Trump journalists."

"The U.S. Census Bureau has stopped working on a Trump administration-initiated project to produce citizenship data that could have politically benefited Republicans when voting districts are redrawn." One head of a thousand.

"The 30 executive actions Biden has taken in the first days of his administration include halting funding for the construction of Trump's border wall, reversing Trump's travel ban targeting largely Muslim countries, imposing a mask mandate on federal property, ramping up vaccination supplies and requiring international travelers to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test prior to traveling to the US… See them all here."

Friday, January 22, 2021

Linkee-poo makes it to Friday, Jan 22

"The undersea lair of a giant worm that ambushed passing marine creatures 20m years ago has been uncovered by fossil hunters in Taiwan… Researchers believe the 2-metre-long burrow found in ancient marine sediment once housed a prehistoric predator that burst out of the seabed and dragged unsuspecting animals down into its lair."

We don't deserve dogs… "The pet, Boncuk (Bon-DJUK), which means bead, followed the ambulance that transported her owner, Cemal Senturk, to hospital in the Black Sea city of Trabzon on Jan. 14. She then made daily visits to the facility, private news agency DHA reported on Wednesday."

"Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the government’s top public health experts, signaled that he feels free to speak honestly about Covid-19 now that former President Donald Trump is out of office… In his first news briefing since President Joe Biden was sworn in, Fauci said that the new administration was committed to being "completely transparent, open and honest," a sharp break from the Trump White House, when Fauci said he often felt there would be repercussions for speaking honestly about the pandemic."

"Hospitalizations for Covid-19 in the United States are falling after having hit record levels this month — a welcome sign that the winter surge may finally be leveling off. But as new, potentially more contagious variants of the virus circulate, coronavirus modelers warn that the U.S. is by no means out of the woods yet."

"The Biden administration has mere weeks to speed vaccine deployment, and convince more Americans to wear masks, wash hands and social distance. And it must be done amid a rocky transition, critical supply shortfalls, widespread new infections, shaky public trust and a vaccine rollout that 'has been a dismal failure so far'."

"The new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that the Covid-19 vaccine would not be widely available by late February as the Trump administration previously said."

"The push that began over a week ago has not been accompanied by enough doses to meet demand, according to state and local officials, leading to frustration and confusion and limiting states’ ability to attack the outbreak that has killed over 400,000 Americans."

"Newly sworn in President Joe Biden and his advisers are inheriting no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of from the Trump administration, sources tell CNN, posing a significant challenge for the new White House." There was no plan for distribution of the vaccine. We are building the plane as we tumble over the cliff. And is Dr. Fauci correct that we're not starting from scratch? Yes. But it's an ad hoc informal plan that now needs to have structure built into it as it delivers vaccine doses.

And today on 180 degrees… "New data shows that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective in guarding against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday." Note that the data we have is just about antibody treatment. This is the monoclonal antibody serum you may have heard about. Also, if the data from Pfizer and Moderna are correct, at 90+% effectiveness, if the vaccines are less effective against the new strains, they still will be effective enough (having 50+% effectiveness was the goal). The question now is if we can get enough people vaccinated fast enough that the virus doesn't have enough time to mutate and propagate a version that can evade the antibodies the vaccines give us.

"It's a place where most people are on public health insurance and where chronic illnesses are much more prevalent because there is a systemic lack of access to quality health care. Add COVID-19 to that mix and it's a deadly but predictable disaster… 'This is a community that is largely low-income, people of color,' says Dr. Elaine Batchlor, the CEO of MLK hospital. 'This is where the essential workers live. These are the people that are stocking the grocery stores, driving our buses, cleaning up after the rest of us. And they are continuing to be exposed to COVID on the job.'"

"Demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday vandalized the state Democratic Party headquarters and a federal US Immigration and Customs Enforcement building, according to police. Four people have been charged Thursday in connection with those demonstrations… At least four demonstrations were planned in the city, Sgt. Kevin Allen, spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, said in a video statement early Thursday… Two remained peaceful, but the others resulted in "property damage and arrests," he said. CNN is attempting to learn more about who organized the demonstrations."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "'This is the worst (expletive) march I’ve ever attended!' one marcher yelled during a Portland, Ore., Inauguration Day protest that turned into a riot, according to a report." Something just isn't right here.

Union busting… "Labor advocates called on the grocery delivery platform Instacart to reverse a decision to lay off hundreds of employees, including the company's only unionized workers… Instacart informed employees earlier this week that it will be cutting nearly 2,000 jobs, including roughly 10 in-store shoppers at a Skokie, Illinois supermarket who joined a United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCS) local in February."

"President Biden is preparing to reverse a Trump administration policy that prohibits U.S. funding for nongovernmental groups that provide or refer patients for abortions — the first of several moves reproductive rights advocates are hoping to see from the Biden administration."

"The Kremlin on Friday welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposal to extend the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries, which is set to expire in less than two weeks."

"President Biden plans to sign an executive order on Friday that would increase food stamp benefits to help people going hungry amid the financial downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, his top economic adviser, Brian Deese, told reporters."

"After the Editorial Board called on Sen. Ron Johnson to either resign or be expelled from office for his role in spreading disinformation about the presidential election, the senator asked for space to respond. We are providing him that courtesy today. We also are taking the rare step of footnoting Johnson's commentary to provide additional context so that readers have a fuller understanding of the senator's actions."

"Facebook said Thursday it was referring the decision to indefinitely suspend Donald Trump's account to its newly-formed oversight board to make the final call on what will happen to the former president's accounts."

"QAnon-believing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) vowed to file articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden the day after his inauguration… However, Atlanta-based New Yorker staff writer Charles Bethea reports that Greene still hasn't filed the articles against Biden because she seems to have underestimated the difficulty in enacting such a procedure." Wow, this is actual work, says person who never had to do actual work. Does this give her a new appreciation for all the times articles of impeachment were filed against Trump? The article doesn't say, but my guess is no. Oh, and her articles cite the debunked conspiracy theory of President Biden interfering in Ukraine on behalf of his son, Hunter.

"Thousands of National Guardsmen were forced to vacate congressional grounds on Thursday and are now taking their rest breaks outside and in nearby parking garages, after two weeks of sleepless nights protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of the violent Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol… One unit, which had been resting in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday, according to one Guardsman. The group was forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops, the person said." Don't do this to them.

But the next day… "National Guard troops were allowed back into the Capitol to rest after some had been moved to a nearby parking garage, officials said… Senators expressed outrage Thursday evening after Politico reported that Capitol Police had asked the troops to move their rest area and some ended up in the garage at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building adjacent to Union Station, just outside the Capitol grounds."

"As a violent mob descended on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, lawmakers and aides hid wherever they could, waiting for the military and police to arrive. But many of those who stormed the Capitol were military veterans themselves, who had once sworn to protect the Constitution. In fact, an NPR analysis has found that nearly 1 in 5 people charged over their alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol appear to have a military history." I'm of two minds here because of my own personal struggles during the GW Bush years and the Trump years, but in the end it comes down to this, they violated the oath they took. And they did it for someone who has only contempt for the Constitution. Their lack of judgment is just as terrible a crime here. There is no dungeon deep enough or hell fire hot enough.

"All three had publicly documented their roles in the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five dead and sent lawmakers fleeing for safety, and all three saw that documentation used against them in charges filed by the Department of Justice… They are hardly anomalies. Of the 119 people facing federal charges in connection to the riot as of Thursday afternoon, at least 71 cases involve photos, posts or footage from social media. At least 47 people saw screenshots of their own selfies, live streams, videos or posts in their charges, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the federal charging documents." Thank the gods for stupid criminals. The question remains, will they (or someone else) learn and adjust. And I'll note that the militias, the guys with the camp and balaclavas, don't appear to have done this. So while this gets the edges, it doesn't help us get the core groups. But I guess this answers the old question, "If everybody jumped off a bridge, would you jump as well?" Apparently the answer for these people is yes.

"A Columbia lawyer with a long history of representing Republican politicians and interests has become Donald Trump’s attorney for the former president’s second impeachment trial… Butch Bowers, who has represented the past two South Carolina governors at ethics hearings, is no stranger to impeachment proceedings. He worked for then-Gov. Mark Sanford when lawmakers considered impeaching him after he left the state to see his mistress in Argentina in 2009."

"The University of Delaware’s Biden Institute promises in its mission statement to embody the spirit of “honesty, integrity, compassion and courage” it says have defined President-elect Joe Biden’s career in politics… But as Biden prepares to take the oath of office on Wednesday, the research center he helped launch in 2017 to promote scholarship on public policy has the potential to become an ethical headache for his administration. The institute doesn’t disclose all of its donors and hasn’t committed to doing so once Biden is sworn in president." OMG< it's the making of an actual scandal. What remains to be seen is how much control Biden has over the Institute, or if it just has his name on it.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Jan 21

Jim Hines's 2020 writing income post.

Amanda Gorman, the runaway star of the inauguration. Poetry has power.

"A third national lockdown in England appears to have had little impact on the rising rate of coronavirus infections, according to the findings of a major study, with 'no evidence of decline' in the prevalence of the virus during the first 10 days of tougher restrictions." Ten days can be the incubation period and these numbers could still be from before the lockdown (although there's a high probability of non-compliance). This is why you have to lock down early.

"The devastating fall and winter wave of coronavirus infections that is causing so much misery across the U.S. appears to have finally peaked, according to several researchers who are closely tracking the virus." Severe side-eye. Are the numbers easing? Somewhat. But I doubt we're on the backside of the bell-curve. I think this is more of a plateau of the virus reached peak transmissibility.

"Moderna Inc said on Tuesday it had received a report from California’s health department that several people at a center in San Diego were treated for possible allergic reactions to its COVID-19 vaccine from a particular batch."

"New research out this week provides reassuring evidence that people vaccinated against coronavirus will be protected against emerging new variants of the virus… Two teams tested two of the new variants against blood taken from people who had received the full two-course dose of either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine." The mRNA vaccines are geared to the spike protein, that protein, more than likely, won't change very much (because it's how the virus attaches to our cells). And that's why it was chosen.

"A growing number of grocers are adopting a novel approach in the race to get their workers vaccinated against COVID-19: providing pay incentives."

"The coronavirus pandemic is still posing 'serious risks' to the euro zone economy, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said Thursday as lockdowns are tightened across the region."

"Americans continued to hit the unemployment line in large numbers as the ongoing surge of Covid cases added to America’s unemployment problem last week… Jobless claims totaled 900,000 for the week ended Jan. 16, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That was slightly less than the Dow Jones estimate of 925,000 and below the previous week’s downwardly revised total of 926,000." You know, it took a lot of hard work for Joe Biden to inherit a worse jobs situation than Obama, but Trump did it.

Saying the quiet part out loud. "Alice O’Lenick, who is the Gwinnett Board of Registrations and Elections chairwoman for 2021 and 2022, encouraged members of her party to write letters and make phone calls to state legislators to encourage them to make changes to state elections laws.… 'I was on a Zoom call the other day and I said, "I’m like a dog with a bone. I will not let them end this session without changing some of these laws,"' O’Lenick said. 'They don’t have to change all of them, but they’ve got to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning.'" Republican know they're the majority and are unlikely to ever achieve majority status in the near future. They are more than happy to revoke your franchise if it means they get to stay in power.

"First lady Melania Trump did not write her own "thank you" notes to the White House residence staff who have cared for her and her family for the last four years, according to two sources with knowledge of the notes and Trump's handling of them… The 80 or so staff who received the type written notes were under the assumption the first lady had written them herself. Instead, Trump tasked a lower-level East Wing staffer with writing them "in her voice," and she signed her name." It's petty, but JFC these people are so classless.

Won't anyone think of all the fact checkers who are now suddenly out of a job. "In his final remarks as president, Donald Trump tried to take credit for accomplishments of his predecessor and even those to come under President Joe Biden… Falsehoods suffused his farewell remarks Wednesday morning and the night before, though he was spot on with this: 'We were not a regular administration.'"

"Former President Donald Trump did not declare martial law in his final minutes in office; nor did he reveal a secret plan to remain in power forever. President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were not sent to Guantánamo Bay. The military did not rise up and arrest Democratic leaders en masse… Instead, Biden took the oath of office and became the 46th U.S. president on Wednesday… For some supporters of QAnon, this was an earth-shattering turn of events. Or rather, nonevents." The sad trombones play for Q. Waits for the inevitable "we're still here" stories about Q. No, I have very little sympathy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Linkee-poo, stand up

"Donald Trump's era in Washington is over… The all-consuming, camera-hungry, truth-starved era that fixated the nation and exposed its darkest recesses officially concludes at noon Wednesday. The President, addled and mostly friendless, ended his time in the capital a few hours early to spare himself the humiliation of watching his successor be sworn in."

"2020 was not the year I wrote my first book—but it was the year I started thinking about it. And in typical freelance writer fashion, I decided to take advantage of my position and get some advice on how to go about it from people much more accomplished than me under the guise of researching this article. Here’s what I managed to learn."

"'To play a wrong note is insignificant. But to play without passion is inexcusable…'." Probably of little interest to anyone but me, Annie Lennox plays Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Music is a life long journey of exploration and discovery. Here is one of the icons of 80s rock, and she's still exploring and discovering, improving, and pushing her envelope. As I've tweeted out before, in my own journey through music, it seems every few years I rediscover how much I love her voice and talent.

"A beetle trapped in amber for over 100 million years is offering scientists clues to why the bioluminescent insects may have glowed way back during the Cretaceous period, about 145 to 66 million years ago."

"A newly identified strain of the coronavirus prevalent in Southern California could be contributing to the drastic spike in cases in the region, according to new research released Monday. The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, found that more than a third of recent COVID-19 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles were infected with the strain, according to a release summarizing its findings."

"Maine health officials discovered that a majority of Moderna vaccine shipments received across the state on Monday were not kept adequately cold during transport, meaning 4,400 doses may have to be thrown out."

"Frustration visibly boiled over with some Canadian leaders Tuesday as Pfizer told Canada that it would not receive any vaccine doses next week due to the continuing manufacturing disruptions at its facility in Belgium." Rhut rho.

And finally Bullshit Mountain caves, on one issue… "In the ongoing debate about coronavirus face mask effectiveness, a new study published this week suggests that widespread use of face masks can help to prevent large outbreaks of COVID-19."

"President-elect Joe Biden addressed a grieving nation on Tuesday after the United States had earlier in the day passed 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus… Speaking at a service to remember Americans killed by the virus, Biden praised medical professionals for their roles in caring for the ill and their families during the pandemic."

"Police in the United States are three times more likely to use force against leftwing protesters than rightwing protesters, according to new data from a non-profit that monitors political violence around the world… In the past 10 months, US law enforcement agencies have used teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and beatings at a much higher percentage at Black Lives Matter demonstrations than at pro-Trump or other rightwing protests."

"Aid agencies report swarms of locusts have been descending on farms in northern Kenya, destroying crops and even leaving pastures bare of vegetation… The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization in a regional update on the pests says swarms have been detected this week in seven counties in Kenya compared to just four a week ago." Here we go again. As the story says, there have been "unusual rainfall patterns."

"With only hours to go before leaving office, President Donald Trump pardoned 73 people and commuted the sentences of 70 others… The list, made public early Wednesday morning, included his former chief strategist and longtime ally Steve Bannon as well as his former top fundraiser Elliott Broidy."

"'Like theure [sic] gonna arrest me,' Ms. Williams allegedly wrote, adding in another post hours later: 'They’ll never take me alive.'… Eventually, however, they did."

"Federal prosecutors are preparing to charge a 22-year-old woman with felony theft for allegedly taking a laptop from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, and they're urging a Harrisburg-area judge to deny her bail." Again, there are a lot of Russians hanging around.

"Federal and state law enforcement agencies are bracing for violence planned by radical conservatives and extremists in Washington in the days before the inauguration… And while significant preparations have been put in place around the U.S. Capitol, there is growing concern that statehouses around the country will be targeted, many of which have already been the scene of armed protests, arrests and violence."

"Republican support for convicting President Donald Trump in his Senate impeachment trial has grown in his final days in office, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Tuesday."

"In one of his final acts in office, in the wee hours of the night, President Trump revoked Executive Order 13770, an order on ethics he signed when he first took office, freeing the way for people who have served in his administration to cash in with lobbying gigs… When Trump signed the order on Jan. 28, 2017, he hailed it as a fulfillment of his campaign promise to 'drain the swamp.' Among other things, it banned administration officials from lobbying the agencies where they worked for a full five years after the termination of their employment." So much for that. Grifters gotta grift.

"A U.S. Army soldier was arrested Tuesday in Georgia on terrorism charges after he spoke online about plots to blow up New York City’s 9/11 Memorial and other landmarks and attack U.S. soldiers in the Middle East, authorities said."

"For the first time since the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly denounced President Trump and his supporters for instigating the insurrection… 'The mob was fed lies,' McConnell, R-Ky., said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon." And it only took being removed as Senate Majority Leader (well, technically not until today) and having Trump out of office.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Jan 19

"It's called WASP-107b, orbiting an orange dwarf star 211 light-years away, and it was already known as one of the lowest density exoplanets when its discovery was announced in 2017. A new analysis shows the puffy planet is even puffier than astronomers thought."

"Los Angeles County officials have temporarily lifted environmental limits on the number of cremations allowed to accommodate the growing backlog of deaths due to COVID-19."

"A nationwide memorial to honor the lives lost to COVID-19 is scheduled for Tuesday evening, according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee… Even though Washington, D.C., is at a heightened level of security following the Jan. 6 riots, the memorial 'will feature a lighting around the the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool,' the PIC said in a statement on Monday." That only took :: looks at watch :: a new presenting administration.

"As the U.S. closes in on 400,000 coronavirus deaths, the incoming director of the Centers for Disease Control said that by the middle of February, officials expect the death toll to be staggering… 'By the middle of February, we expect half a million deaths in this country,' Dr. Rochelle Walensky said."

"A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner." Well, yes.

"China's economy increased by about 2 percent in 2020, becoming one of the only major countries to report such growth in the midst of an economically devastating pandemic."

"The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in a case brought by the city of Baltimore against more than a dozen major oil and gas companies including BP, ExxonMobil and Shell. The city government argues that the fossil fuel giants must pay for the costs of climate change because they knew that their products cause potentially catastrophic global warming."

"A commission stood up by President Donald Trump as a rebuttal to schools applying a more accurate history curriculum around slavery in the US issued its inflammatory report on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day." What little I've seen of the 1776 report is mostly laughable and it reads like it was a "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" essay written by someone who didn't pay very much attention in class or to what they were writing and cribbed it's notes from right-wing media.

"The Trump-appointed director of the U.S. Census Bureau is stepping down close to a week after whistleblower complaints about his role in attempting to rush out an incomplete data report about noncitizens became public."

"President Donald Trump will not be in attendance Wednesday to watch as his successor Joe Biden is sworn into office, but his absence will have little impact on what may be one of the most important moments of Inauguration Day, the handing off of the 'nuclear football.'"

"Janet Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve and President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, faces a huge task ahead… Not only does Yellen have to shepherd efforts to bring the US economy back from its sharpest contraction on record — she must also convince Congress to get on board with Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package, as some lawmakers balk at the price tag."

"The day before Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, five of his cabinet nominees will answer questions from Senate panels handling their confirmations. The busy committee calendar is ramping up at the same time as an impeachment trial is expected to start, posing a split screen challenge for the Senate, which is still reeling from an attack less than two weeks ago."

"President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status, a massive reversal from the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies." Here we go.

"Guatemala security forces are attempting to block thousands of Honduran migrants from heading north towards Mexico and the U.S. border… On Sunday, police and soldiers in riot gear confronted a caravan of migrants from Honduras on a highway near Chiquimula in southeastern Guatemala. After a tense standoff, in which police fired tear gas and attempted to beat back the migrants with batons, the surging crowd broke through a phalanx of soldiers."

"President Donald Trump said Monday that he is ending Covid-19 travel restrictions for air travelers from Europe and Brazil, a move the incoming administration quickly rejected… In a proclamation, Trump said the restrictions would be lifted Jan. 26, the same day a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order requiring negative tests for air travelers coming to the U.S. takes effect… But by then, Joe Biden will be president, and his press secretary tweeted that the restrictions would remain in place."

"On the morning of January 20, Donald Trump and Melania Trump will depart the White House as President and first lady, but they will not invite their incoming counterparts, Joe and Jill Biden, inside before they do… The dissolving of one of America's most enduring transfer-of-power rituals -- the outgoing president welcoming the incoming president on the steps of the North Portico, and then riding with them to the United States Capitol -- is just one of the snubs the Trumps are perpetrating as they leave Washington." Because he's an asshole.

"U.S. defense officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, prompting the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event."

"Steve Bannon evoked the beaches of Normandy. Michael Flynn drew comparisons to Civil War battlefields and spoke of Americans who died for their country. Roger Stone called it a struggle 'between the godly and the godless, between good and evil.' Rudy Giuliani called for 'trial by combat.' Ali Alexander said it would be a 'knife fight.'… As 2020 faded into 2021, some of President Donald Trump's most influential supporters -- among them members of his inner circle who were in direct contact with the President -- spoke in ominous and violent terms about what was coming on January 6." A basket full of deplorables.

"Former Trump campaign and White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley falsely claimed that President Donald Trump cannot speak out against the violent breaching of the U.S. Capitol because tech companies have kicked him off their social media platforms." I mean, it's not like there isn't a press briefing room just down the hallway in the place he lives, where he could call a briefing at any time and have all the major (and minor) news outlets be there to cover what he says.

"Williams’ former romantic partner told the FBI that she had taken the computer from a conference room in Pelosi’s office, intending to sell it to the Russian security services through a friend she knew in that country, according to Williams’ arrest affidavit. The transaction fell through, Williams’ ex said, and it is believed she still had the laptop in her possession or had destroyed it."

"The 24-year-old facing federal charges from the US Capitol riot turned himself into the Teller County authorities on Monday. He will be handed over to federal authorities… Gieswein is wanted for several federal charges after his alleged involvement in the riots and storming of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month."

"A Texas man with ties to a far-right militia participated in the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol and threatened to shoot his children if they turned him in to authorities, according to court documents… Guy Reffitt, a resident of the Dallas suburb of Wylie, was arguing with his son and daughter about his trip to Washington D.C., when he made threatening remarks, his wife told the FBI."

"In interviews this week, Lindell said Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl's, H-E-B and Wayfair are all dropping MyPillow. 'They're trying to cancel me out,' Lindell told the Right Side Broadcasting Network's Brian Glenn in a lengthy interview on Monday." These people have never had to deal with actual consequences of their actions.

"Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election."

"Interviews with four members of the U.S. Capitol Police who were overrun by rioters on Jan. 6 show just how quickly the command structure collapsed as throngs of people, egged on by President Donald Trump, set upon the Capitol. The officers spoke on condition of anonymity because the department has threatened to suspend anyone who speaks to the media."

"And before the fight was over, officers were forced to shout that they were police to law enforcement responding to rescue the building after it was lost. They weren't put in a position to arrest the attackers, to defend themselves, or defend the Capitol. They weren't put in a position to succeed."

Monday, January 18, 2021

Linkee-poo the language is leaving me

"For a few moments, it seemed like the Space Launch System saga might have a happy ending. Beneath brilliant blue skies late on Saturday afternoon, NASA’s huge rocket roared to life for the very first time. As its four engines lit, and thrummed, thunder rumbled across these Mississippi lowlands. A giant, beautiful plume of white exhaust billowed away from the test stand… It was all pretty damn glorious until it stopped suddenly."

"The new coronavirus variant first seen in the United Kingdom is likely to become the dominant strain in the United States by March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a new report Friday. The mutation is believed to be more contagious, and research shows it could experience 'rapid growth' in the early part of this year."

"Experts agree that it’s not surprising that new variants have emerged in the U.S., but stress that the virus’s unchecked transmission in the country provides ample opportunities for it to mutate. The best way, therefore, to crack down on new variants is to stop the spread, they say." Viruses mutate, it's what they do. They replicate exceeding quickly and there is very little check to make sure the proteins were built correctly. So mutations can and do occur with frequency. Most mutations, however, render the viral particle inert (just like most human mutations, if not caught by "proofreading" RNA and corrected, result in cell death). Again, there is no designer directing evolution. What survives, survives.

"'Over the last four days for the first time in months, we've seen a steady decline ... a thousand per day fewer hospitalizations in the United States,' (Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a George Washington University medical professor and CNN medical analyst) said. 'We've seen the same trend in new cases.'"

"Norway expressed increasing concern about the safety of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine on elderly people with serious underlying health conditions after raising an estimate of the number who died after receiving inoculations to 29… The latest figure adds six to the number of known fatalities in Norway, and lowers the age group thought to be affected to 75 from 80. While it’s unclear exactly when the deaths occurred, Norway has given at least one dose to about 42,000 people and focused on those considered most at risk if they contract the virus, including the elderly."

"As the nation’s Covid-19 response was careening off the rails in March and April 2020, about a dozen top health and defense department officials huddled in antiseptic meeting rooms to devise what they believed would be the Trump administration’s greatest triumph — a vaccine program so fast, so special, so successful that grateful Americans would forgive earlier failures and business schools would teach classes about it for decades." Oh, it'll be taught in classes alright. Just not in the way they thought. What I fear is that the end of the program will be blamed on "the little people" because they didn't hold up their end when it was a failure of leadership from the beginning.

"When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line."

"Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar this week warned President Donald Trump that, despite what he described as achievements by HHS under his watch, Trump’s 'actions and rhetoric following the election ... threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this administration.'" Can't tarnish what was never polishable in the first place. But, like all good MBAs, think they're work was impeccable. It was only the little people, the Deep State, that kept them from the glory they were due.

"Israel’s education minister says he is banning groups that call Israel an 'apartheid state' from lecturing at schools — a move that targets one of the country’s leading human rights groups after it began describing both Israel and its control of the Palestinian territories as a single apartheid system."

"Mahmoud Oudeh, like thousands of other residents of the town, has a Palestinian identity document. His friend Anan abu Aishe has an Israeli ID, which defines him as a permanent resident of east Jerusalem. This entitles him to join Israel's world-leading vaccination campaign, which is on course to meet the government's target of inoculating the entire country by the end of March… But at least 4.5 million Palestinians living on the West Bank and in Gaza are being left behind. So far none have had the injections, and most are unlikely to get them any time soon -- because there is no Covid-19 vaccination campaign in the Palestinian territories."

"There was no single moment when I began to sense the long shadow that Cecil John Rhodes has cast over my life, or over the university where I am a professor, or over the ways of seeing the world shared by so many of us still living in the ruins of the British empire. But, looking back, it is clear that long before I arrived at Oxford as a student, long before I helped found the university’s Rhodes Must Fall movement, long before I even left Zimbabwe as a teenager, this man and everything he embodied had shaped the worlds through which I moved." How colonialism still shapes our world.

"From the March on Washington in 1963 up until his assassination in 1968, the FBI engaged in an intense campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. and his work. Film director Sam Pollard chronicles those efforts in the new documentary, MLK/FBI… Pollard's documentary is based on newly declassified files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, along with restored archival footage. It shows the government's extensive targeting of King and his associates in the 1960s."

"In October 2019, Idaho proposed changing its Medicaid program. The state needed approval from the federal government, which solicited public feedback via Medicaid.gov… Roughly 1,000 comments arrived. But half came not from concerned citizens or even internet trolls. They were generated by artificial intelligence. And a study found that people could not distinguish the real comments from the fake ones… The project was the work of Max Weiss, a tech-savvy medical student at Harvard, but it received little attention at the time. Now, with AI language systems advancing rapidly, some say the government, and internet companies, need to rethink how they solicit and screen feedback to guard against deepfake text manipulation and other AI-powered interference." (Grokked from John)

It ends as it began… "The public will not see Donald Trump’s White House records for years, but there is growing concern the collection will never be complete – leaving a hole in the history of one of America’s most tumultuous presidencies… Trump has been cavalier about the law requiring that records be preserved. He has a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out, forcing White House workers to spend hours taping them back together." Also they used private email accounts and messaging accounts which probably were not archived.

"The US Food and Drug Administration is under siege from the Trump Administration, which is forcing through a steady stream of changes in its final days that threaten the remaining independence of the regulatory agency." (Grokked from John)

"Joe Biden was elected on a promise to heal the nation, saying Republicans would have a post-Donald Trump "epiphany" that would finally allow for bipartisan governance… That was before Trump resisted the peaceful transition of power, before a majority of House Republicans voted against certifying Biden's election, before a mob to attack Congress and before Democrats installed metal detectors on the House floor and feared their GOP colleagues might literally kill them."

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departs his Foggy Bottom post on Wednesday a loyal Trump footman to the very end… His nearly three-year term as the top US diplomat was marked by an 'America First' approach that saw fundamental and oftentimes controversial shifts in foreign policy, from Iran to China to Israel. Some of his most consequential decisions were announced in the final weeks of his tenure, leaving behind a minefield for the Biden administration to navigate."

"President-elect Joe Biden plans to sign roughly a dozen executive orders, including rejoining the Paris climate accord and ending the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries, on his first day in office, according to a memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain… He'll also sign orders halting evictions and student loan payments during the coronavirus pandemic and issuing a mask mandate on all federal property in an effort to either roll back moves made by the Trump administration or advance policy in a way that was impossible in the current administration."

"Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign her Senate seat effective Monday, capping a brief legislative career marked by her tough cross-examinations of Trump administration nominees and the push last summer for police reforms after the killing of George Floyd."

"The US Capitol is surrounded by fences and troops amid fear the January 6 riots could spark violence this weekend and leading up to Wednesday's inauguration… But experts worry the real threat may be what the attack unleashed for the long term… 'The plots of tomorrow are literally being hatched right now,' Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, told CNN… Experts shared growing concern about chatter around a unifying message of people who feel wronged -- by those in power, by the political system and by Big Tech."

"A fire under a highway several blocks from the Capitol caused a brief lockdown of the complex and the evacuation of a rehearsal of Wednesday's inauguration, a reflection of the heightened state of alert in the nation's capital… Capitol Police warned those in the Capitol to stay inside due to an "external security threat," and shut off access to and from the building. A rehearsal on the West Front of the Capitol was evacuated, with media members told to return to nearby trailers."

"Federal and state law enforcement agencies are bracing for violence planned by radical conservatives and extremists in Washington in the days before the inauguration… And while significant preparations have been put in place around the U.S. Capitol, there is growing concern that statehouses around the country will be targeted, many of which have already been the scene of armed protests, arrests and violence."

"Retired military servicemen are turning up in alarming numbers on wanted posters and in charging documents as federal agents continue their sweep of arrests tied to the deadly riot at the Capitol last week, a trend that has experts increasingly concerned about the dangerous allure of extremist and paramilitary groups."

"A Virginia man who was arrested by Capitol police at an inauguration checkpoint in Washington D.C. with 500 rounds of ammunition has called the incident an 'honest mistake.'" He forgot to take the ammo out of the truck. Because who among us doesn't drive around with at least 500 rounds if hollow point and ball ammunition?

"The FBI says in an arrest warrant filed late Sunday that a woman who was part of the mob that penetrated the U.S. Capitol earlier this month may have stolen a laptop computer or hard drive from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office with the intent of funneling the device to Russia's foreign intelligence agency."

"Loews Hotels announced Saturday that it won’t host a planned fundraiser next month for Sen. Josh Hawley at one of its Florida properties… 'We are horrified and opposed to the events at the Capitol and all who supported and incited the actions,' the company said in a statement posted to Twitter. 'In light of those events and for the safety of our guests and team members, we have informed the host of the Feb. fundraiser that it will no longer be held at Loews Hotels.'" Hit them in the wallet, that's where they'll hurt the most.

Of course on Bullshit Mountain… "The Loews cancelation was among the latest examples of fallout facing Republicans following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington… It came after liberal Florida attorney Daniel Uhlfelder obtained a flyer for the Hawley event and posted it online, referring to Hawley as a 'traitor' and asking the hotel chain why it was supporting the Missouri Republican."

"But here’s the thing — between all the news coverage of the president himself, a global pandemic and various other upheavals, there’s a good chance you missed a lot of them. So here is POLITICO’s list of 30 important policy changes Trump made as president, how they’ve affected our lives, families and businesses, and the prospects they will survive the incoming Biden administration."

"President Donald Trump is preparing to issue around 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, according to three people familiar with the matter, a major batch of clemency actions that includes white collar criminals, high-profile rappers and others but -- as of now -- is not expected to include Trump himself." It's not unusual for an outgoing president to issue a large amount of pardons during their last week in office. What is unusual is the rumors of people paying advisors to get on the list.