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

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… 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.

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