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

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday March 30

"One of the world's most massive museums has announced an encompassing digitization of its vast collection… 'The Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known,' said Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Musée du Louvre, in a statement on Friday. 'For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage.'" I'll be in my bunk.

"A billionaire’s private SpaceX flight filled its two remaining seats Tuesday with a scientist-teacher and a data engineer whose college friend actually won a spot but gave him the prize."

"Virgin Galactic rolled out its newest spaceship Tuesday as the company looks to resume test flights in the coming months at its headquarters in the New Mexico desert." Shiny.

"A New Hampshire woman who lost her 13-year-old daughter to a brain tumor in 2016 has now given birth to a son — at age 57."

"The planet could have a year or less before first-generation Covid-19 vaccines are ineffective and modified formulations are needed, according to a survey of epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists." Wut?

"Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky went off script at a briefing Monday and made an emotional plea to Americans not to let up on public health measures amid fears of a fourth wave."

"British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta are among about two dozen world leaders who have signed onto a letter calling for an international agreement to 'dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism,' as part of an effort to prepare for future pandemics."

"An Asian American woman was attacked in New York City by a man who repeatedly kicked her as two people nearby who appeared to be security guards did not intervene, according to surveillance footage released by police."

"U.S. consumer confidence surged in March to the highest reading in a year, helped by increased vaccinations and more government economic support."

"The federal bonus from the CARES Act eventually expired, and by mid-September of last year, states returned to their pre-pandemic levels of benefits. For the next few months, Dube compared how employment levels varied across states using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. He concluded that states with low unemployment insurance benefits (and thus the strongest incentives for returning to work) did not increase employment levels more than states with high levels of unemployment insurance benefits. In fact, just the opposite: high unemployment benefits led to slightly higher employment levels." Shocking? A conservative talking point is total bullshit? Well, butter my biscuits. The difference was somewhat negligible, but at worst it proves that giving people more money does not affect their desire for employment.

"It doesn't take an expert to know that money is so much more than dollars and cents. Our relationship with money is emotional. Hopes and fears, guilt and shame — they can all play a significant role in your financial life."

"Have you noticed a strange army of Amazon employees on Twitter recently, claiming that Amazon doesn’t engage in union-busting and disputing stories that workers sometimes have to piss in bottles? (editor's note, why yes, yes I have) Many Twitter users are wondering whether the people are even real. And while there’s some evidence these people could be real, at least one of their photos appear to be fake… Amazon has an entire program where employees at so-called fulfillment centers (which is to say, warehouses) can sign up to defend the company online. What do the employees get out of it? One day of paid vacation and a $50 Amazon gift card, according to reports from 2019." Someone's got some 'slaning to do.

"The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee will not sanction athletes for raising their fists or kneeling during the national anthem at Olympic trials, previewing a contentious policy it expects to stick to when many of those same athletes head to Tokyo this summer."

"The assault over the last week by Islamist militants on a town in northern Mozambique is the most serious and deadly in their four-year insurgency -- and directly threatens the country's economic future… People who escaped the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province speak of dozens of bodies scattered on the streets -- some beheaded, of buildings burned to the ground, banks raided and the local army barracks ransacked."

"President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his first slate judicial nominees, including three Black women for important circuit court vacancies." Paging Chuck Schumer…

"After failed negotiations between South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem and the state's House lawmakers, the governor issued two executive orders Monday designed to limit participation on women's and girls' school sports teams to people assigned female at birth." Cruelty is the point.

"A leader of the Proud Boys charged in an alleged conspiracy to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6 claims he has a longstanding relationship with the FBI, which he said regularly sought him out for information about 'antifa networks' in Florida and other parts of the United States." Yeah, sure. I believe that (side-eye). Just another patriotic American, helpin' out the law enforcement peoples, all while :: checks notes :: attempting to overthrow the duly elected government.

The solution to misinformation? "At Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla., 16-year-old Sage Waite is already taking a class in cybersecurity, and she'd welcome one that's in the works on cyber disinformation… 'For the longest time, I didn't actually know what disinformation was,' said Waite, who's in the 11th grade. 'There was always the idea that things could be wrong in what you're hearing and what you're being told. But the idea of misinformation and disinformation wasn't in my day-to-day.'" Critical thinking being taught to the kids.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday March 29

"Torrential rains across Tennessee flooded homes and at least one church and left roads impassable, prompting dozens of people to be rescued in the Nashville area. Authorities said four bodies were found Sunday in the flood’s aftermath."

"Octopuses have alternating periods of 'quiet' and 'active' sleep that make their rest similar to that of mammals, despite being separated by more than 500 million years of evolution… During their active periods of sleep, octopuses' skin color changes and their bodies twitch, according to a report in the journal iScience, and they might even have short dreams." Surrounded by the usual "humans are not animals, so animals can't be like humans" nonsense.

"New York is poised to join a growing number of states that have legalized marijuana after state lawmakers reached a deal to allow sales of the drug for recreational use."

"Imagine you're part of a project that goes horribly wrong at work, causing a scandal, costing your company a ton of money, maybe even putting people at risk. Now imagine after that kind of performance your company rewards you with a raise and a bonus… Critics say that's happening right now with CEOs at big drug and health care companies tangled up in the opioid crisis." When times are good, they get spectacular raises. When times are bad, they still get spectacular raises.

"A joint World Health Organization-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely,” according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press."

"It's a plea that's been echoed by health experts across the country, who have urged state leaders to wait a little longer before easing Covid-19 restrictions and Americans to double down on safety measures as the country races to vaccinate more people. Those actions are especially crucial now that a highly contagious -- and potentially more deadly -- variant is spreading across the US, they've warned." No, people are not going to wait. So the race between immunization and mutation is a very real one, and it's one we are likely to lose.

"Travelers don't need a COVID-19 test to fly to Mexico, but they can't board a flight back to the United States from the country or any international destination without showing a negative test taken no more than three days before departure or proof of recovery from COVID-19." It's a long article with lots of whining ("I didn't feel sick…"). Just some insight into privileged behaviors.

"There's not much solid data on this, but some clinicians, like Dr. Booth Watkins and Elisa Nebolsine, a cognitive behavioral therapist in Falls Church, Va., say that the levels of distress, including suicidality, in their adolescent patients is among the highest they've seen in their careers. Nebolsine says that's because the pandemic is making it hard for teenagers to meet basic developmental needs."

Better living through chemistry… "As new data published by Bennington College this week documents, the US military ordered the clandestine burning of over 20m pounds of AFFF and AFFF waste between 2016-2020. That’s despite the fact that there is no evidence that incineration actually destroys these synthetic chemicals. In fact, there is good reason to believe that burning AFFF simply emits these toxins into the air and onto nearby communities, farms, and waterways. The Pentagon is effectively conducting a toxic experiment and has enrolled the health of millions of Americans as unwitting test subjects."

"When you take a photo, your smartphone or digital camera stores 'metadata' within the image file. This automatically and parasitically burrows itself into every photo you take. It is data about data, providing identifying information such as when and where an image was captured, and what type of camera was used."

"The Biden administration is not requiring FBI fingerprint background checks of caregivers at its rapidly expanding network of emergency sites to hold thousands of immigrant teenagers, alarming child welfare experts who say the waiver compromises safety." Bad Idea™.

"For many small museums across the country, it's been over a year since their doors have been open to visitors, putting them in the same life-or-death situation as much of the rest of the arts sector… Some smaller museums have struggled with accessing federal grants. And unlike large institutions, they don't have large endowments and can't fall back on deep reserves."

"While Congress’s failure to raise the minimum wage dealt a blow to the Fight for $15 movement, advocates say there is still enough momentum behind the issue to build pressure on lawmakers in DC to bring a $15 minimum wage back to the table. Activists also say the Democratic party risks losing the support of some of its base if a new minimum wage fails to pass."

"Somehow, one of the most powerful and valuable companies on Earth has decided its bold new PR strategy should involve playing immature semantics with a US senator."

"The Ever Given, the massive container ship that became wedged in the Suez Canal and cut off traffic in the vital waterway for almost a week, has been refloated, authorities said Monday."

"A right-wing rally outside the state capitol in Salem was met with counter-protesters, resulting in some scuffles between the two groups… The first event billed as the Freedom Rally on social media in February. A second event appeared soon after, named Fascist Free 503, indicating a counter-protest to the Freedom Rally, according to Salem Police."

But on Bullshit Mountain… "Salem Police arrested at least three people and urged others to stay away from Oregon's State Capitol building Sunday evening as violence linked to Antifa-aligned protesters broke out… The 'heavily armed' crowd had grown to as many as 200 people, Fox 12 Portland reported. The chaos unfolded as a planned right-wing protest and Antifa counter-protest were scheduled in Salem for the same day."

"President Biden on Sunday expressed confidence that a 'rational' gun control bill can pass the evenly-divided Senate. In the wake of two deadly mass shootings in two weeks that left 18 people dead, the White House has said Mr. Biden is considering executive action that would bypass the Senate, although Mr. Biden has previously called on the Senate to pass two gun control bills that have already passed in the House." Hope spring eternal.

"When New York was hit hard in the early days of the pandemic last March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration gave his family members preferential access to coronavirus testing, according to several news reports." His two weeks are up.

"To a growing number of Democrats, the filibuster is a giant barrier to everything they want to accomplish. At the funeral last year for congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, former President Barack Obama listed some of them: ending partisan gerrymandering, making Election Day a national holiday, as well as statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico."

"President Joe Biden called a sweeping elections law signed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp this week an 'atrocity,' and said the Justice Department is 'taking a look' at the measure… The new law includes provisions to require voter identification for absentee ballots, limit the use of ballot drop boxes, give state officials more power over elections and make it a crime to offer voters food and water as they wait in line."

"The former president is obsessed with defeating him next year. He’s getting mauled by his own state party. Last week alone, a Republican congressman announced he’d challenge in the primary and the state legislature voted to strip his office of some official powers… By most accounts, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger doesn’t have a prayer of being reelected." Republicans eating their own.

"Former President Trump on Thursday defended his supporters who laid siege to the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in an attack that resulted in five deaths, arguing they posed "'zero threat.' Lawmakers were inside the Capitol that day to confirm the Electoral College results certifying Joe Biden's presidential victory… 'It was zero threat. Right from the start, it was zero threat,' Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham." Are you gonna believe me or your lying eyes.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday March 26

Jessica Walter, and so it goes.

"Marine traffic through the Suez Canal remained blocked on Friday for the fourth consecutive day, with dozens of ships stuck at both the north and south entrances to the shortest route between Asia and Africa. Efforts to dislodge one of the world's largest cargo vessels, stuck sideways across the narrow canal since Tuesday, were picking up, and while one of the teams in charge of the operation said it could take weeks, an advisor to Egypt's president offered a more optimistic time table."

"Regarding the origins of the virus, Redfield went on to say: 'I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely ideology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory. Escaped. Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.'" Actually for people who know what they're actually doing, no. Usually people working in labs know how to work safely, unlike this yahoo who some how was the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And science has already figured it out, the virus is a natural variant.

"U.S. consumer spending fell by the most in 10 months in February as a cold snap gripped many parts of the country and the boost from a second round of stimulus checks to middle- and lower-income households faded, though the decline is likely temporary."

"North Korea has claimed the missiles it launched Thursday were a "new-type tactical guided projectile", in its first statement since the test… It was the country's first ballistic launch in almost a year and the first since Joe Biden became US President."

"Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, saying the network spread false claims that the voting machine company was involved in voter fraud during the 2020 U.S. presidential election." I believe that makes everybody.

"President Biden signaled on Thursday that he would be willing to consider supporting the elimination of the filibuster if Senate Republicans use it to block Democratic legislative priorities from receiving a full vote on the Senate floor. He also advocated the return of a 'talking' filibuster, which would require a senator to talk for an extended period of time in order to block a bill." I really wish we had smarter people reporting on this.

"Former President Donald Trump's campaign of lies about a stolen election just delivered a huge victory with a new Georgia law that could suppress the votes of many of the citizens who helped eject him from the White House… Republican state lawmakers rushed through a broad law Thursday making it harder to vote that disproportionately targets Democratic and Black voters in a battleground vital to the 2020 election and future presidential and congressional contests."

"Biden’s fitness for office, a longtime fixation among conservatives, is dominating conversations on the right as Trump openly sows doubts about the health of the man who defeated him. One Republican senator recently texted an acquaintance his private suspicions that Biden, the oldest president in history, is mentally unwell. In on-the-record interviews, however, seven GOP senators who’ve met with Biden lately described him as cogent and well-versed on the issues they discussed. And none echoed the warnings many pro-Trump Republicans have issued about Biden amid the chatter about his stair-stepping acumen." Yes, it's just propaganda.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday March 25

"The rainbow flag is flying proudly Thursday above the Bank of England in the heart of London's financial district to commemorate World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, the new face of Britain's 50-pound note… The design of the bank note was unveiled before it is set to be formally issued to the public on June 23, Turing's birthday. The 50-pound note is the most valuable denomination in circulation but is little used during everyday transactions, especially during the coronavirus pandemic as digital exchanges increasingly replaced the use of cash."

"An alarming trend is emerging as coronavirus hospitalization rates in the state this month are surging among younger people, a group with the lowest vaccination rates among the state's populations, according to inpatient data collected by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association… The group said Wednesday that from March 1 through Tuesday, hospitalizations increased by 633% for those aged 30 to 39 and by 800% for those aged 40 to 49." It ain't over yet, folks.

"A new 'double mutant' variant of the coronavirus has been detected from samples collected in India… Officials are checking if the variant, where two mutations come together in the same virus, may be more infectious or less affected by vaccines." News organizations really, really want to go full X-Men here.

"When she asks Black seniors in Los Angeles about the vaccine, Tuskegee rarely comes up. People in the community talk about contemporary racism and barriers to health care, she says, while it seems to be mainly academics and officials who are preoccupied with the history of Tuskegee." It's an easy reference point, however the problems are still present in healthcare.

"Now scientists have shed light on the reasons for the difference, by collecting cells from humans, chimps and gorillas and turning them into lumps of brain in the laboratory… Tinker with the switch and the human brain loses its growth advantage, while the great ape brain can be made to grow more like a human’s." What could go wrong? Paging David Brin…

"A man was arrested Wednesday after entering a Publix supermarket in Atlanta with five firearms and body armor, police said. The man, who Atlanta police have identified as 22-year-old Rico Marley, has been charged with reckless conduct." He just loved his freedom so much.

"Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet on Wednesday called on the Senate to act in the wake of a mass shooting at a supermarket in his state, asserting in an impassioned speech from the chamber floor that his colleagues have a moral obligation to a generation of young Americans who have lived through dozens of such attacks."

"First-time claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly fell sharply last week amid signs that hiring has picked up in the U.S. economy, the Labor Department reported Thursday… Claims totaled 684,000 for the week ended March 20, the first time the number has been below 700,000 during the Covid-19 era. The level was a substantial decline from the 781,000 from a week earlier and was the lowest since March 14, 2020, just as the pandemic had begun." Note, that's still 3x the level of a "very bad month" pre-pandemic.

"The Japanese owner of the giant cargo ship that has been blocking Egypt's Suez Canal since Tuesday has apologised for the disruption to global trade… Shoei Kisen Kaisha said it was trying to resolve the situation as soon as possible, but that dislodging the Ever Given was proving extremely difficult."

"Chinese state TV called Thursday for a boycott of H&M as Beijing lashed out at foreign clothing and footwear brands following Western sanctions on Chinese officials accused of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region."

"Amazon would really like Democratic lawmakers to forget stories about its warehouse workers peeing in bottles amid allegations of union-busting tactics… The retail giant told one of its critics, Democratic Rep. Mark, on Twitter on Wednesday: 'You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?…'" You know, except for their policies and explicit printed rules about clearing out delivery vans of pee bottles.

"Congress is set to grill the chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter about misinformation and online extremism on Thursday, in the executives' first appearance before lawmakers since the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine." Ah, it must be Spring again. Can't wait to hear the conservative rail agains being "silenced" when all they did was :: checks notes :: foment insurrection, call for the deaths of others, and generally behave like prats.

"A US Drug Enforcement Administration agent suspended for being at the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection said Tuesday that he has since been fired from the agency and is now 'the subject of a criminal investigation,' even though he claims he 'never even stepped foot on the stairs of the Capitol building.'" See, he was just documenting all the crime going on around him. Uh huh.

"Donald Trump is no longer in the White House, but his favorite cable news network, One America News Network, is still broadcasting from there — doing live shots from Pebble Beach, the North Lawn area that is considered precious real estate by the major TV networks."

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday March 24

George Segal, and so it goes.

"Peter S. Beagle’s representatives announced in a press release today that he, as part of a new ownership group, has prevailed after years of litigation in securing control of his literary works and other intellectual property following a sale recently approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court. This comes after a 2019 California court decision that awarded Beagle $332,000 in damages against his former manager Connor Cochran."

"Fake news on social media about climate change and biodiversity loss is having a worrying impact in the battle to halt the growing environmental threats to the planet, a group of scientists and analysts have warned." We're boned.

"The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, which produced the first-ever image of a black hole, has today revealed a new view of the massive object at the center of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy: how it looks in polarized light. This is the first time astronomers have been able to measure polarization, a signature of magnetic fields, this close to the edge of a black hole. The observations are key to explaining how the M87 galaxy, located 55 million light-years away, is able to launch energetic jets from its core."

It' not the only reason I support space exploration, but… "So, it was only a matter of time before its breakthrough tire tech was added to the long list of so-called NASA spinoffs. A startup called Smart is using the airless shape memory alloy (SMA) tire technology — originally built for lunar and Mars rovers —for a bicycle tire called Metl."

"Women in their 40s and 50s appear more at risk of long-term problems following discharge from hospital after COVID-19, with many suffering months of persistent symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness and brain fog, two UK studies found on Wednesday."

"The European Union moved Wednesday toward imposing stricter export controls for coronavirus vaccines, seeking to make sure there are more COVID-19 shots to boost the bloc’s flagging vaccine campaign as new infections surge." So, how do you feel about Brexit now?

Unforced errors abound… "Boris Johnson has told a private meeting of Tory MPs that the success of the UK's Covid vaccine programme was because of 'capitalism' and 'greed'… But sources said the prime minister had 'very insistently' withdrawn his comments straight after making them during a Zoom call with backbenchers… The remarks were not connected to the EU row over vaccine supply, they added." I'm sure all the government spending had nothing to do with it.

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday dropped plans for a five-day shutdown over Easter, which had prompted confusion and criticism. She called the idea a mistake and apologized to Germans."

"After mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta that killed 18 people in the span of a single week, lawmakers are once again calling for stricter gun regulation in America. The gun industry is already preparing for a surge of sales." Shootings are good for the business of selling guns.

"A skyscraper-sized container ship has become wedged across Egypt's Suez Canal and blocked all traffic in the vital waterway, officials said Wednesday, threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic." Oopsie.

For when those conservatives start shouting about how the rich will just not pay their taxes if they are raised… "By some estimates, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans manage to avoid paying about a quarter-trillion dollars of owed taxes every single year. Now, new government data show that audits of the super-rich and large corporations have hit a new low, leaving billions of dollars of uncollected taxes at precisely a moment when lawmakers say new revenue is needed to fund infrastructure and climate investments."

"Election terms, however, stipulate that workers who quit or are discharged for cause after a payroll period ending Jan. 9 are ineligible to vote, according to a decision by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) acting regional director in Atlanta. This group of Amazon workers - those who left after the January payroll period, but still ended up on the NLRB’s voter list - could become a sticking point for both the company and the union." Amazon can't even get who works for them correct. But then it could also be an attempt to pack the ballot with "no" votes, or to simply invalidate it if the Union wins.

"Seizing on Donald Trump’s lies about fraud in the 2020 election, Republicans have launched a brazen attack on voting, part of an effort to entrench control over a rapidly changing electorate by changing the rules of democracy. As of mid-February, 253 bills were pending to restrict voting in 43 states. Many of those restrictions take direct aim at mail-in and early voting, the very policies that led to November’s record turnout." The GOP has gone full anti-democracy and white-supremacy.

"For a political party whose membership skews older, it might be surprising that the spirit that most animates Republican politics today is best described with a phrase from the world of video games: 'Owning the libs.'" Drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday March 23

"Ten people were killed by a gunman in Boulder, Colo., during a mass shooting at a grocery store that left a trail of dead bodies, including one police officer, officials announced on Monday evening." I don't remember reading that mass shootings were now a part of the reopening plan.

"But results released by Cern on Tuesday suggest that something unusual is happening. The B mesons are not decaying in the way the model says they should: instead of producing electrons and muons at the same rate, nature appears to favour the route that ends with electrons."

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration upgraded the computer model that forecasters use to predict the weather one to two weeks in the future, called the Global Forecast System. The new model is better at predicting where hurricanes will form and how intense they will be as well as where and when snowstorms and rainstorms will occur, and how much precipitation will fall." The knobs go to 11 now.

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday announced a hard five-day lockdown over Easter, as the country battles a sharp rise in new coronavirus infections… Almost all shops will be closed over the Easter period from April 1 to 5, and no more than five people over the age of 14 from two households can gather. Grocery stores would be allowed to open for one day only, on Saturday, April 3."

"Pfizer plans to tap the mRNA technology to make new vaccines for other viruses following the success of its Covid-19 shot, which was developed jointly with BioNTech, WSJ reported."

"A review of research published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine describes the potential long-term effects of the coronavirus on the entire body, highlighting the challenges long-haulers face in their recovery… The review outlines in detail every organ affected by long-term Covid-19, including the lungs, heart, kidneys and skin, as well as the gastrointestinal, neurologic and endocrine systems."

"Many Americans are ready and eager to buy a home right now. But they're having trouble finding one… Home sales edged down 6.6% in February compared with the previous month because there just aren't enough houses out there for people to buy… That lack of supply is also driving up prices as bidding wars break out with multiple offers on many homes." Hello bubble.

"U.S. Treasury yields ebbed lower on Tuesday morning, following prepared comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for a congressional hearing, in which he warned the economic recovery was 'far from complete.'"

"The economy is staging a strong but still incomplete recovery, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is set to tell Congress on Tuesday, exactly a year after stock markets hit their lowest level during the pandemic." Here we are in 20009 again.

"Officials have condemned violent scenes at a protest in Bristol, England that left police officers injured and vehicles ablaze, as tensions escalate between law enforcement and activists over a controversial crime bill that could curtail people's ability to demonstrate… The 'Kill the Bill' protest was denounced by the government and local lawmakers after protesters clashed with police, attacking a police station and leaving some officers with broken bones on Sunday evening." You can protest, but not in a way that out would bother, upset, or inconvenience anyone. Which is not a protest.

"The nation's homeless population grew last year for the fourth year in a row. On a single night in January 2020, there were more than 580,000 individuals who were homeless in the United States, a 2% increase from the year before… The numbers, released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday, do not reflect the impact of the pandemic."

"White House aides are reportedly compiling a $3 trillion plan that would include a wide range of priorities, including social programs and tax changes, though press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that nothing was decided: 'President Biden and his team are considering a range of potential options for how to invest in working families and reform our tax code so it rewards work, not wealth.'… This is going to be an infrastructure bill that goes far beyond roads and bridges. It's designed to be a major investment in manufacturing and the technologies of the future, including 5G, a green electric grid, universal broadband Internet access, semiconductor production and carbon-free transportation."

"Under the sweeping package, the money given to states cannot be used for pension funds or to 'directly or indirectly' offset tax cuts. Now, the Republican attorneys general are taking aim at the stipulation that money not be spent on tax cuts and warning that the condition unconstitutionally hamstrings their efforts to reduce taxes, even if the tax cuts had been planned before the passage of the American Rescue Plan." The GOP's one trick pony, tax cuts.

"A growing number of migrants are arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, many to seek asylum, and the government wasn't prepared for a huge influx of children who are coming alone without their parents."

Monday, March 22, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday

"The Space Launch System rocket that will launch NASA's Artemis astronauts into space on their way to the moon went through a final and successful hot-fire test of the core stage on Thursday."

"A demonstration mission to test an idea to clean up space debris launched Monday morning local time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Known as ELSA-d, the mission will exhibit technology that could help capture space junk, the millions of pieces of orbital debris that float above Earth." But it will only work for satellites launched in the future which incorporate a compatible docking plate.

"Thousands have flocked to a volcano in Iceland which erupted near the capital, Reykjavik… Lava started to burst through a crack in Mount Fagradalsfjall on Friday evening, in the first eruption of its kind in more than 800 years."

"Record-breaking floods in southeastern Australia have caused a mass animal exodus to higher ground, with spiders in particular surging onto people's land and into their homes… Rains have been inundating communities since Thursday, but parts of the east coast tipped into crisis on Saturday as a major dam overflowed, adding to swollen rivers and causing flash flooding."

"Sunday marks the start of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Ohio… It’s a joint effort from the National Weather Service, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency to promote preparedness. The NWS provides safety guides on tornados , flooding, lighting and more… The statewide tornado drill is Wednesday at 9:50 a.m."

"Getting and staying focused can be a challenge in the best of times. But with everything going on in the world, concentrating can often feel down-right impossible." The human mind cannot multi-task, it switches quickly between tasks, but that switching also consumes energy and willpower.

"Jeep has unveiled a new all-electric version of its iconic Wrangler SUV, but consumers will likely have to wait at least a few years to purchase one… The brand on Monday debuted the Wrangler 'Magneto' as a concept vehicle, meaning it’s a custom product typically built by automakers to gauge customer interest or show the future direction of a vehicle or brand." I've always wanted a Jeep, but hated the cost and fuel economy. This might make me change my mind. Make it in a Willy's form and I'll be beating down your door.

"Scientists at University of California San Francisco have detected 109 chemicals in a study of pregnant women, including 55 chemicals never before reported in people and 42 'mystery chemicals,' whose sources and uses are unknown." Better living through chemistry.

"Preliminary results from a study examining the efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine indicate it is significantly effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19." Note the language used (also used for the other vaccines, how it prevents "severe illness"), and that while this vaccine is only 79% effective, it was also tested with some of the later variants.

"'We didn't see any substantial difference in cases among students or staff in districts with 3 feet versus 6 feet, suggesting that we can open the schools safely at 3 feet, provided that some of the mitigation measures that were present here in Massachusetts are in place,' said Westyn Branch-Elliman, a co-author of the study and an infectious diseases specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 'Our study adds to a growing body of worldwide data about the safety of 3 feet in school settings.'" Again, note the language. They are not saying 3' is safe (as it's being interpreted), but that 3' is as safe as 6'. Or to put it differently, spacing children either 6' apart or 3' apart does not change the speed or spread of infection. The other way to interpret these results is "6' is not enough to keep people safe" (which is the actual truth here).

How's Spring Break? "Pointing to over 1,000 arrests in one of the nation's top party spots, Miami Beach officials warned Sunday that the unruly spring break crowd gathering by the thousands, fighting in the streets, destroying restaurant property and refusing to wear masks has become a serious threat to public safety… Commissioners gathered virtually Sunday and extended for another week the emergency declaration issued Saturday in response to the unruly South Beach crowds, CBS Miami reported." Spins up the Beastie Boys.

"Police are searching for a man who they say stabbed a restaurant manager several times after he was asked to wear a mask. The incident occurred at a Jack in the Box in League City, Texas."

"In December, when she and her daughter contracted COVID-19, Henry once again had to go without pay as she recuperated at home. Now, though she is still dealing with the fatigue and other lingering effects of the virus, Henry goes to work anyway."

"Russian President Vladimir Putin has reacted angrily after President Biden agreed in an interview that the Kremlin leader was 'a killer.'…'It takes one to know one,' Putin said on national television, adding that the children's taunt had a 'very deep meaning.' People often see themselves reflected in others, Putin said, suggesting that Biden was projecting on him American guilt for slavery and the treatment of Native Americans." As former GRU, Putin has no rooms to speak here (or shall we bring up the gulags, progroms, and purges). Hey Putin, sit and spin, pal. Stay safe my Russian friends.

"The Philippines is calling on Beijing to remove some 220 vessels moored at a reef in the South China Sea – the latest dispute between China and its maritime neighbors over claims of sovereignty in the strategic body of water."

"The United States, Canada, Britain and the European Union are set to announce an array of sanctions on China on Monday over what U.S. officials have called a genocidal campaign against Uyghur Muslims, according to two people familiar with the issue." And now you know why the economic meeting last week was "fraught."

"The House on Thursday passed two proposals that would legalize subsets of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission, as Democrats gauge the chances of approving immigration legislation and sending it to President Biden's desk." And then it hits the wall of the Senate Filibuster.

"California's agricultural growers square off against the farmworkers union at the Supreme Court on Monday over a nearly half-century-old law stemming from the work of famed union organizer Cesar Chavez. The law, enacted in 1975, allows union organizers limited access to farms so they can seek support from workers in forming a union… The growers challenging the law contend that California, by giving union organizers a limited right of access to farms, is authorizing a mass trespass on the growers' private property. And that, they argue, is an unconstitutional taking of their property." Bullshit.

"Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said he had 'no apologies' after he made what appeared to be a pro-lynching remark during a congressional hearing on combatting anti-Asian American violence… 'The victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice,' Roy said in his opening statement at the House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, adding that he was concerned about the 'thought police' stifling free speech."

"The White House on Friday sought to downplay the number of staffers whose jobs have been derailed by their prior cannabis use… A Daily Beast article published Thursday reported that 'dozens of young White House staffers have been suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program' because of admissions of prior marijuana use."

"Federal investigators are still examining Donald Trump’s role in inciting the attack on the US Capitol… Michael Sherwin, the departing acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, confirmed that the former president is still under investigation over the 6 January putsch in an interview with CBS 60 Minutes on Sunday." I'll be surprised if anything comes of it.

"In the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a popular narrative has emerged: that because rioters did not fire guns that day, they were not really 'armed.'… But a review of the federal charges against the alleged rioters shows that they did come armed, and with a variety of weapons: stun guns, pepper spray, baseball bats and flagpoles wielded as clubs. An additional suspect also allegedly planted pipe bombs by the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican parties the night before the riot and remains at large."

"Former President Donald Trump teased the launch of his own social media platform in a new interview, but did not provide a timeline or offer any further details regarding the potential business venture." As we all know, planning is not the Fool's strong point.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Is it Friday

Somebody must have put the crazy back in the well today as this morning has been a series of interlocking fire-drills. So most like no linkee-poo post.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday March 18

"Realistically, almost nobody will reach that point. The vast majority of Substack newsletter writers will never make money that’s equivalent to a year’s salary, which is what the staffers get. Instead, they will provide Substack with free content, hoping to get that sweet subscriber cash one day. And Substack will dangle its 'successful' writers in front of its rank-and-file membership to keep them going." There's lots of these scams out there (stares in Amazon Kindle), and I even participate in one (buy my t-shirts!). However, I walked into mine with my eyes open (I know I could make 3x+ more money by setting up my own website, making my own shirts, and handling all that stuff), but I love designing things, I come up with these ideas anyway, and I'm (mostly) okay with making pizza money. Except in my wildest dreams do I expect to quit everything else for my t-shirts. And really, only two designs have earned back the money I put into them (if I charged my discount rate to design them). But here's the tell, even though I only make pizza money (means I make enough each month to buy a large pizza), I am one of the top 20% of designers on some of the sites I sell my designs. Could I make more? Certainly, I barely market myself, I haven't done optional SEO research, I'm not very involved in "the community" aspects. But again, I went in knowing what I could get out (I still haven't made my goal, but I'm getting there). And walking into the casino knowing you're mostly likely going to lose is a whole lot different that expecting to make bank because the dealer is telling you how much you could win.

"Marvel Comics is celebrating the 80th anniversary of Captain America with a gay teen superhero… The publishing company said in a news release that its newest hero, Aaron Fischer, is making his debut June 2. He’ll be featured in a new limited series titled 'The United States of Captain America.'" Waits for the inevitable right-wing backlash.

"The NHS has warned of a 'significant reduction in the weekly supply' of Covid vaccines in England next month in a letter to local health organisations… The letter says there has been a 'reduction in national inbound vaccines supply' and asks organisations to 'ensure no further appointments are uploaded' to booking systems in April."

"Coronavirus reinfections are relatively rare, but it's more common for people 65 and older to get infected more than once, according to a study published Wednesday in the Lancet medical journal… A team of scientists, including some from Denmark's Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, noted that most people who have had Covid-19 seemed to have protection from reinfection that remained stable for more than six months. In the follow up after six months, the study didn't find any evidence that protection was waning. But a check of the demographics of who was getting infected again showed it was mostly people 65 and older."

"The research, from both the U.S. and the U.K., shows that when ICUs fill up, COVID-19 patients' chances of dying from the disease rise dramatically, and this is despite improvements in treatment and care developed since last spring." Ta-da!

"Two separate teams found different ways to produce versions of a blastocyst – the stage of development around five days after a sperm fertilizes an egg – potentially opening the door for a huge expansion of research… The scientists make clear that the models differ from human blastocysts and are not capable of developing into embryos. But their work comes as new ethical guidelines on such research are being drafted and could spark fresh debate."

"Of the eight people who were killed when a White man attacked three metro Atlanta spas, six were Asian women… Investigators said it was too early to say whether the crime was racially motivated, and instead pointed to the suspect's claim of a potential sex addiction… But experts and activists argue it's no coincidence that six of the eight victims were Asian women. And the suspect's remarks, they say, are rooted in a history of misogyny and stereotypes that are all too familiar for Asian and Asian American women."

"Texas and several other U.S. states have sued the administration of President Joe Biden over his decision to revoke a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement late on Wednesday… The lawsuit states that Biden does not have the unilateral authority to change energy policy that the U.S. Congress has set, Paxton said."

"First-time claims for jobless benefits showed an unexpected jump to 770,000 as the labor market tries to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic that sent more than 22 million Americans to the unemployment line a year ago, the Labor Department reported Thursday… Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a total of 700,000 for the week ended March 13. The total represented an increase from the previous week’s upwardly revised 725,000."

"As the Biden administration holds its highest-level meetings with China since taking office, it enjoys broad bipartisan support for taking a tough stance toward Beijing but also faces skepticism about whether the talks will bring real policy changes."

"Russia wants an apology from the United States after President Joe Biden said he thought Vladimir Putin was a killer and may retaliate against Washington unless it gets one, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Thursday." I got your apology right here.

"A man was arrested Wednesday afternoon near the Naval Observatory, Vice President Kamala Harris' official residence, for gun offenses. Police initially said a rifle and ammunition were found in his vehicle, located about a block away… The police report, obtained by CBS Washington, D.C. affiliate WUSA-TV, said he had an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, 113 rounds of unregistered ammunition and five 30-round magazines."

"The House approved with bipartisan support a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a popular 1994 law that protects and provides resources for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. The measure passed 244-172."

"During a closed-door conference meeting, House Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) went after McCarthy for not being more supportive of a conservative-led effort to force a series of lengthy — and largely fruitless — procedural votes that have snarled the floor, according to sources in the room." And then there's this, "Biggs added that, as a member of the minority party, 'You’ve got to get in the way and try to slow things down as much as you possibly can.'" No, that's not actually what you're supposed to do. And it's part of the problem in Washington, conservatives don't know what government looks like.

"House Democrats are undeterred by the mounting GOP criticism over their review of a contested congressional race that could potentially overturn a state-certified Republican victory in southeast Iowa, brushing back attacks that they are seeking to subvert the will of voters just months after lambasting former President Donald Trump for trying to reverse his electoral defeat."

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Linkee-poo St. Patrick's Day

It's ALIVE! "Millions of lightning strikes may have been just what life needed to begin on Earth, according to a new study… One of the key ingredients needed for life as we know it is phosphorus -- and the multitude of lightning strikes that happened when Earth was young 4 billion years ago may have unlocked the necessary amount of phosphorus to create the foundation for life."

"Israeli government archaeologists say they have discovered tiny fragments of an ancient biblical scroll near the Dead Sea, the first time in more than 60 years that Dead Sea Scroll parchments were discovered in a professional excavation and not by looters… The archaeologists also found a 6,000-year-old mummified child and what they think is the world's oldest fully intact basket, dating back about 10,500 years."

"Perseverance, which landed inside Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, successfully dropped the "belly pan" covering its sampling system last week." Hey, don't leave that there.

"Experts say there's a tough race between Covid-19 vaccinations and a contagious variant that's rapidly spreading across the US, threatening another dangerous surge -- and the eased restrictions only further complicate things."

"A top executive for Pfizer suggested to investors last week that pricing for its COVID-19 vaccine could increase post-pandemic. The suggestion raises questions about whether a drug, developed at the behest of the federal government to respond to a global crisis, could turn a profit for one company."

"But the tense, emotional exchange Monday night between James and former girlfriend Rachael Kirkconnell — where he revealed why he broke off their relationship after photos of her at an antebellum South-themed party surfaced on social media — is the kind of conversation about race and white cluelessness that The Bachelor has been avoiding for far too long."

"As the coronavirus spread last year, people around the world were forced inside and apart from each other. For many Dungeons & Dragons players, that meant putting a stop to their regularly scheduled in-person tabletop sessions… And yet, the D&D brand had its biggest year ever."

"The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law last week includes a welcome tax break for unemployed workers. The law waives federal income taxes on up to $10,200 in unemployment insurance benefits for people who earn under $150,000 a year, potentially saving workers thousands of dollars. States that currently tax unemployment benefits have yet to decide whether they will allow those state taxes to be waived as well."

"Honda Motor Co said late Tuesday supply chain issues will force a halt to production at a majority of U.S. and Canadian auto plants for a week… The Japanese automaker added the issue will result in some production cuts next week at all U.S. and Canadian plants, citing 'the impact from COVID-19, congestion at various ports, the microchip shortage and severe winter weather over the past several weeks.'"

"President Joe Biden said that his dog, Major, is working with a trainer at Biden's home in Delaware following a biting incident at the White House."

"At least eight people were killed and several others injured in a series of shootings at three spas in the Atlanta metro region Tuesday. A suspect has been taken into custody in connection with all three shootings, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution."

"A new report by the U.S. intelligence community on Tuesday says Russia sought to help former President Donald Trump in last year's presidential election. But the document also emphasized there was no indication Russia or any other country attempted to alter actual votes." Waves to my Russian friends.

"President Joe Biden on Tuesday warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin will 'pay a price' in the wake of a new report from the U.S. intelligence community that concluded the Kremlin interfered in the 2020 White House race."

"Mainstream companies such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter were already policing their services before the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, but they accelerated their efforts following the riot. It has led to an exodus of extremists to new platforms and the growth of 'alt-tech,' a term used to describe the sort of clone technology created by extremists to get around 'deplatforming.' The techniques are not particularly sophisticated but show a resourcefulness among those who have been marginalized by the mainstream companies.

There's this old joke about large animal veterinary care where everything ends with "shoot the horse." "When Republican Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia rolled out a plan this month to reduce the state's personal income tax, he referred to maps and charts that showed that the state has been hemorrhaging population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, West Virginia is the only state to have lost population, overall, since 1950… But the plan would cost the state more than a billion dollars — or nearly a quarter — of its general revenue budget. To account for that revenue loss, Justice has proposed massive hikes on tobacco, alcohol and soda taxes." With Republicans, every problem leads to "cut taxes for the rich."

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday March 16

Yaphet Kotto, and so it goes.

I've talked a little about this before, but Charlie Jane Anders does it a whole lot better pointing out the 7 wrong lessons that creators learned from Game of Thrones. We often focus on the unusual and out of the ordinary because they are unusual and out of the ordinary. Once they becomes usual and ordinary they're kinda sucky and it's spoils their specialness.

"SpaceX successfully launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets into space for a record ninth time on Sunday, making it the first in the company’s fleet to launch and land nine times. The Falcon 9 rocket was carrying a new cargo of 60 Starlink satellites, which are part of the company’s efforts to provide satellite internet."

"The space junk is expected to fall back to Earth in two to four years, agency officials wrote in an update last week. That update also stated that the pallet will burn up 'harmlessly in the atmosphere,' but not everyone is convinced that's the case." Yeah, I think you'd want to control that entry a little more.

"Researchers from the United States and India working with NASA have now discovered four strains of bacteria living in different places in the ISS – three of which were, until now, completely unknown to science." That's not all that unusual as we've barely scratched the surface when it comes to understanding single celled organisms (because there's a whole fucking lot of them).

"Using lab techniques unimaginable in the 1960s when the core was drilled, we and an international team of fellow scientists were able to show that Greenland’s massive ice sheet had melted to the ground there within the past million years. Radiocarbon dating shows that it would have happened more than 50,000 years ago. It most likely happened during times when the climate was warm and sea level was high, possibly 400,000 years ago."

"'We are not against traditional windfarms,' says David Yáñez, the inventor of Vortex Bladeless. His six-person startup, based just outside Madrid, has pioneered a turbine design that can harness energy from winds without the sweeping white blades considered synonymous with wind power."

"Under a bankruptcy plan filed late Monday night, Purdue Pharma would pay roughly $500 million in cash up front to settle hundreds of thousands of injury claims linked to the company's role in the deadly opioid epidemic… The company said additional payments would be spread over the next decade, including installments on roughly $4.2 billion promised by members of the Sackler family who own the firm." They're still getting off easy.

"For many years, Jessica Duenas led what she calls a double life. She was the first in her immigrant family to go to college. In 2019, she won Kentucky's Teacher of the Year award. That same year, Duenas typically downed nearly a liter of liquor every night."

"Millions of colonoscopies, mammograms, lung scans, Pap tests and other cancer screenings were suspended for several months last spring in the United States and elsewhere as COVID-19 swamped medical care… Now researchers are studying the impact, looking to see how many cancers were missed and whether tumors found since then are more advanced." Even if the vaccines are wildly successful, we're going to be dealing with the fallout from COVID-19 for decades to come.

"The University of Georgia is one of many colleges that decided to cancel or alter spring break — which typically happens in early or mid-March — to discourage students from travelling. But the students at the table told NPR they chose to make their own spring break. Several had online classes and exams earlier that day, which they attended from their hotel rooms. It's a story NPR heard over and over again from spring breakers along Collins Avenue, Miami Beach's main drag."

"The CDC's current guidance for schools recommends seating or desks be 'at least 6 feet apart when feasible.'… But a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that 3 feet may be as safe as 6 feet, so long as everyone is masked." The virus is airborne. Unless schools have done major restructuring to their ventilation systems (ha! they barely have money to pay for textbooks) 6' is too small a space. "The authors compared infection rates at Massachusetts schools that required at least 3 feet of distancing with those that required at least 6 feet, and found no significant difference in the coronavirus case rates among students or staff in the two cohorts." Hey, why don't you look at 6' and 12' spacing to see if there's a difference there? Basically what this study shows is 6' is not enough. But that won't even enter the consciousness of the people doing the research because they're not doing science properly.

"Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday the U.S. is expected to reach the highest number of people apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in two decades."

"Women and people of color are notoriously underrepresented in economics. Only 14% of full professors are women, and one survey found only 1.6% Black faculty in the economics departments of the 30 highest-ranked universities… And yet, President Biden has managed to find several highly accomplished economists who are not just women but are also Black, and has placed them in top posts in his administration."

"U.S. retail sales fell more than expected moderately in February amid bitterly cold weather across the country, but a rebound is likely as the government disburses another round of pandemic relief money to mostly lower- and middle-income households."

"The IRS is now starting to distribute the third round of stimulus checks, worth up to $1,400 per eligible adult and child. But the timing of getting a check may depend partly on a bank's policies, with some customers of JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo expressing frustration after the banks said the coronavirus relief payments won't be available until March 17."

"The massive stimulus plan President Joe Biden signed last week sets up a critical real-world test of an argument that has divided political professionals for decades: Can Democrats win back White working-class voters drawn to conservative Republican messages on culture and race by offering them more tangible economic benefits?" Yeah, I'm thinking that the reporters are missing a vital disconnect here.

"Nokia will slash the size of its workforce over the next two years to free up money to invest in its 5G networks business." Yeah, but without workers, who's going to actually do the research and installation?

"The UK is set to reverse plans to reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons by the middle of the decade, as part of a foreign policy overhaul… The cap on the number of warheads will now increase to 260, having been due to drop to 180 under previous plans from 2010." Wrong. Direction.

"Britain wants to expand its influence among countries in the Indo-Pacific region to try to moderate China's global dominance, a document laying out post-Brexit foreign and defence policy priorities said on Tuesday." Yeah, because that's always worked out well.

"In Tokyo on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin put U.S. alliances, and cooperation with allies to counter China's challenges to U.S. primacy, at the center of the Biden administration's foreign policy in its first Cabinet-level trip abroad."

"The majority of news outlets in Pennsylvania rank high on trustworthiness, but there is a growing crop of digital sites with ties to both Democratic and Republican groups that are taking hold in the state with few, if any, disclaimers about their partisan motives." Might as well skip the middle men. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The FBI is facing new scrutiny for its 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh, the supreme court justice, after a lawmaker suggested that the investigation may have been 'fake'." Someone's got some 'splainin' to do.

"As former President Donald Trump’s supporters have flocked to alternative social media networks, many are turning to SafeChat, a fast-growing platform known for its tolerance of high-octane MAGA content… But the once-obscure social network, which touts its security protections and respect for free speech, is not just MAGA-friendly. It’s also a conduit that enables fringe groups attacking the Chinese Communist Party to speak directly to — and influence — Trump supporters, creating a 'Star Wars' barlike atmosphere where AR-15 enthusiasts and a growing number of white nationalists can mingle with Chinese dissidents." So you're saying no droids are allowed in, just trolls?

"Two men have been arrested for assaulting Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died after responding to the riots on January 6, the Department of Justice announced Monday. The details surrounding Sicknick's death remain unclear."

"In Georgia, a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s post-election conduct is expanding to include close Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, according to a Friday report by the Washington Post… The investigation, which was opened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis earlier this month, will probe whether Trump — and now Graham — violated state law in the course of Trump’s attempt to overturn the election results in Georgia following the 2020 presidential election."

"Faruqui seemed to accept the emotional pleas from Reffitt’s daughter, Peyton, that his tough talk and threatening language in family discussions was just frivolous banter gone too far. He also credited corroborating testimony from her boyfriend, who appeared via Zoom as well. But the judge said the evidence of Reffitt’s actions in connection with the Jan. 6 riot and his statements before and after the event were so disturbing that he had to be detained pending trial." It can be confusing to people who have never deal with abusive families before, but this is not unheard of (for a family member to "vouch" for an abuser).

Monday, March 15, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday March 15

"Winter and spring collided Sunday as parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Nebraska were blasted with up to 4 feet of snow while Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri braced for heavy rains, high winds, flooding and possible tornadoes."

Whither Clean Coal? "The U.S. Congress is investigating a multibillion-dollar subsidy for chemically treated coal that is meant to reduce smokestack pollution, after evidence emerged that power plants using the fuel produced more smog not less." Oopsie. (Grokked from Xeni)

"China’s capital city woke up to yellow skies on Monday as the biggest sandstorm the country has seen in a decade swept through the city, sparking new health fears… The thick brown dust shrouded Beijing's iconic landmarks, including the Forbidden City, and downtown skyscrapers at times disappeared from the view, enveloped by clouds of sand."

"A Texas ramen restaurant was vandalized with racist graffiti on Sunday after its owner spoke out against Republican Governor Greg Abbott's recent decision to lift the state's coronavirus mask mandate."

"The British government is calling for an investigation after police clashed with mourners at a vigil on Saturday night that was held in memory of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who went missing earlier this month and was allegedly murdered by a police officer of that same police force. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said Sunday she is "more determined" than ever to lead the organization, and said she is not considering resigning."

"The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.609% at 8:45 a.m. ET. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond dipped to 2.364%. Yields move inversely to prices."

"Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has made it very clear that unlike some investors, he's not stressed out about a potential rise in inflation later this year. And there's good reason for that: he's busy worrying about jobs."

"The world’s most popular browser, Google Chrome, is the source is a lawsuit that Google will soon face. A judge recently ruled that Google will have to face a lawsuit from plaintiffs who accuse the Chrome browser of tracking users while they use incognito mode… A class action lawsuit filed in the United States alleges that Google Chrome still allows websites to collect personal information on users."

"Volkswagen plans to gradually switch the type of battery used in its electric vehicles, three sources with knowledge of the matter said on Monday, moving away from the technology supplied under current deals with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation." The battery wars heat up.

"The Vatican decreed Monday that the Catholic Church won’t bless same-sex unions since God “'cannot bless sin.'" This is my shocked face.

"A longtime aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who now runs the state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution, recently made calls to county officials in New York to suss out their loyalty to the governor." Time for Cuomo to go.

"Once it was like a second White House for the Maga crowd. Now it is in danger of becoming a white elephant… Clobbered first by the coronavirus pandemic, then by its owner’s election defeat, the Trump International Hotel in Washington is reeling from a huge loss of income and prestige. For critics of the former US president, it is welcome proof of how quickly the city is moving on without him."

"As of Sunday morning, U.S. Border Patrol was holding more than 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children in short-term holding facilities, including jail-like stations unfit to house minors, according to government records reviewed by CBS News… Nearly 3,000 of the unaccompanied children in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody had been held longer than 72 hours. CBP is legally obligated to transfer most unaccompanied minors to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the agency which oversees shelters licensed to house children, within three days of taking them into custody."

"House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday leads a group of Republican lawmakers to the U.S. southern border in Texas amid a jump in the number of migrants showing up at the border, especially unaccompanied children… 'This crisis at the border is spiraling out of control,' McCarthy told reporters last week. 'And it's entirely caused by the actions of this administration.'" Oh, look. Now it's a thing. But unlike before, the government is moving to do something about it.

"Former President Donald Trump’s debunked claims of widespread voter fraud and a stolen election galvanized his supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in January. Now, his rhetoric is turning into policies that are moving through GOP-dominated state legislatures: a rollback of voting access."

"One of Cua's attorneys, William Zapf, told NPR that his client had been led astray by a steady diet of far-right content and conspiracy theories online that may have duped him into believing things that simply weren't true. And people who have studied radicalization say that should sound familiar. Almost 10 years ago, another group of young people were radicalized by what they saw and heard online. But in that case, the object of their attention was a foreign terrorist organization: ISIS."

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Linkee-poo Sunday March 14

"The Rocky Mountains and western Plains were hit with heavy snow and blizzard conditions from a powerful storm system that earlier unleashed violent tornadoes in Texas… More than 7 million Americans were under winter weather alerts and about 300,000 were under blizzard warnings Sunday morning. The snow and blizzard conditions are expected to continue through the early afternoon before conditions start to improve."

"The snowstorm is not over. Do not let your guard down. The heaviest snow occurs between now and noon as upslope flow maximizes across the Front Range and Foothills. Expect lots of melting and compaction." Stay safe, my Western friends, winter isn't done with us yet.

"Scientists have long struggled to solve the puzzle of the gearing system on the front of the so-called Antikythera mechanism—a fragmentary ancient Greek astronomical calculator, perhaps the earliest example of a geared device. Now, an interdisciplinary team at University College London (UCL) has come up with a computational model that reveals a dazzling display of the ancient Greek cosmos, according to a new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports."

"Fox News reacted to President Joe Biden’s primetime announcement that all American adults would be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by May 1 and the country’s aim is to return to a semblance of normalcy by July 4 by insisting that former President Donald Trump actually deserves the credit. But that claim can’t withstand scrutiny." That claim can't even stand up to the smell test.

"Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in downtown Louisville on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was killed by police officers at her apartment one year ago."

"London’s police department is under scrutiny for the way officers handled some participants at an unofficial vigil Saturday night for a London woman whose death led to murder charges against a fellow officer and spurred a national conversation about violence against women in the U.K." As well it should be.

"Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right party was headed for clear defeats in two German state elections on Sunday at the hands of popular governors from parties further to the left, projections showed — six months before a national vote that will determine who succeeds the country’s longtime leader."

"The Biden administration is mobilizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is known for responding to natural disasters and other crises, to support an effort over the next 90 days to process the growing number of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S. southern border." Look, government working.

"Despite Noem’s 2018 promise 'to throw open the doors' of government, the South Dakota governor’s office has denied requests for both records, citing broad exemptions to the state’s sunshine law. Her state is among half a dozen where governors’ offices routinely block access to executive records, keeping the public in the dark about decision making and possible influence peddling by special interests." There are some government actions, mostly deliberations, which should be kept from the public, but expense reports? No, that's our money. And while deliberations may need to be held closely, whom is in the room should be shared.

"US President Joe Biden's administration says it has been trying to contact the North Korean government since February but has yet to receive a response… Washington had tried to reach Pyongyang in several different ways to prevent tensions escalating, officials said." New phone, who dis? A guess Jong-un is still a little broken hearted.

Ah, the perennial political questions… "So Florida took its case to Capitol Hill. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio first introduced the Sunshine Protection Act in 2018, which would move the entire country to permanent, year-round daylight saving time. Rubio has renewed his call multiple times since then, most recently on Tuesday: 'The call to end the antiquated practice of clock changing is gaining momentum throughout the nation,' he said." While I agree with setting clocks to a standard and not gaining and losing an hour, this is just political trolling. Do it, or don't do it. Either way, stop wasting our time.

"Tucked into President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law are provisions meant to help Black farmers, who have faced generations of systemic discrimination… As part of the American Rescue Plan, $4 billion is going toward debt relief for 'socially disadvantaged' farmers to pay off debts that have prevented their farms from growing, the Department of Agriculture said. Another $1.01 billion is being used to create a racial equity commission."

"The reservist, Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, who worked as a security contractor at Naval Weapons Station Earle and held a secret-level security clearance, was arrested and charged Jan. 15 for allegedly breaching the Capitol. At the time, prosecutors described him as an “avowed white supremacist” and Nazi sympathizer, a determination based in part on evidence provided by a confidential source to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and a YouTube channel in which Hale-Cusanelli expressed those views." I know, it's like the whole "anti-fa in drag" meme was a lie all along.

"And though he was supposed to build a massive political apparatus to keep his MAGA movement afloat, it’s unclear to Republicans what his PAC is actually doing, beyond entangling itself in disputes with Republican icons and the party’s fundraising arms… 'There is no apparatus, no structure and part of that is due to a lack of political understanding on Trump’s behalf,' said a person close to the former president, noting that Trump has struggled to learn the ropes of post-presidential politicking." It's like Trump was incompetent and only in it for his own grandisement the whole time.

"Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is being called racist for an interview in which the white Republican said he wasn’t worried about the predominantly white supporters of President Donald Trump during the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, but that he might have been if they had been Black Lives Matter protesters." Well, he was just saying that :: checks notes :: white people who stormed the capital and erected a gallows while shouting to kill specific members of Congress and the Senate and the VP, trampling capitol police, killing one and injuring hundreds obviously love this country whereas black people protesting in the streets without violence in the majority of cases, calling for police reform somehow don't. Not only is Ron Johnson a racist, he's also an ignorant ass.