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

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday April 29

Michael Collins, and so it goes.

"The mysterious Plain of Jars in northern Laos — a landscape dotted with massive stone jars hewn from sandstone thousands of years ago — was likely used as a burial site for much longer than previously suspected, and perhaps for up to 2,000 years, according to new research… The massive jars, which were likely used to expose the dead to the elements until only their bones were left to be buried, could be more than 3,000 years old, new tests suggest."

Opening up a whole new orbit… "SpaceX today was granted permission to use a lower orbit for Starlink satellites, as regulators agreed with SpaceX that the change will improve broadband speed and latency while making it easier to minimize orbital debris." (Grokked from John)

"As demand for electric vehicles heats up, there's concern about a shortage of the key minerals needed to make them. The Biden administration has called for boosting domestic production of such minerals, including lithium for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. And that has many hoping for big business in a desolate spot of California's Imperial Valley."

"The U.S. Senate has taken a step toward more vigorously regulating climate-warming methane leaks from the oil and gas industry, a move supporters say is key to achieving President Biden's ambitious climate goals… Senators on Wednesday reversed a Trump rollback by voting on a resolution under the Congressional Review Act, which gives them the ability to undo agency rules passed in the last months of the previous administration."

America is so advanced socially… Hold my beer. "Dozens of human skulls of Black people — some hundreds of years old — will be returned to their communities of origin for reburial, according to a commitment by the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology… Last week, the Penn Museum issued both an apology for possessing the skulls in its historic Morton Collection, and outlined a plan to repatriate them."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask when they're outdoors unless they're in a crowd, such as attending a live performance, sporting event or parade." Ugh. Bad Idea™. The American Public, by and large, doesn't do conditionals or nuance.

"New York City will fully reopen on July 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday."

"But rampant myths and unnecessary concerns stand in the way (of vaccination). Here are some of the most popular arguments for not getting vaccinated and why doctors want to set the record straight…"

"The Amish communities of northeast Ohio engage in textbook communal living. Families eat, work and go to church together, and through the pandemic, mask wearing and social distancing have been spotty. That has meant that these communities have experienced some of the state's highest rates of infection and deaths."

There's the good news that with the mask wearing the flu season was unusually light. And then there's the flip side… "COVID-19 has overwhelmed health-care systems and disrupted TB care all over the world. Peru in particular has struggled to secure sufficient personal protective equipment and continue medical services during the pandemic."

"On Tuesday, the city of Alameda, Calif., released police body camera footage of an interaction with a 26-year-old man who died after police pinned him to the ground for at least five minutes… Mario Gonzalez of Oakland died April 19 after what police previously called a 'scuffle' with officers. The Alameda Police Department said Gonzalez suffered some sort of 'medical emergency' after an interaction with police." Police who lie on their reports should be prosecuted.

"'He's unarmed. He's just got a comb. He's been combing his hair and he's been loitering there for half an hour,' she told NPR's Eric Westervelt. 'Why this required a law enforcement response right at that moment is beyond me.'… Sherwin said officers never told Gonzalez why he was under arrest before they attempted to handcuff him."

"Three men were indicted on hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges by a federal grand jury in Southern Georgia in connection with the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday."

"President Biden will propose a capital gains tax increase for households making more than $1 million per year. The top rate would jump to 39.6% from 20%… These changes may hit homeowners looking to sell in hot markets." What complete bullshit. This is like "we want to eliminate the inheritance tax to help the poor farmers" canard. OMG, selling my house I might make one-million dollars (Dr Evil pinkie to lips gesture) which might put me in jeopardy here, oh noes! Yeah. Not gonna happen. The article does go on to point out exactly why this really won't happen (standard deductions for example), but then tries the old, "but it could happen!" "For example, let’s say a single home seller earns $200,000 per year. If they bought a home for $250,000 and sold for $1.5 million, they could have annual income above the $1 million threshold, even with the $250,000 exclusion." How many people fall into that category?

"The reopening economy surged in President Joe Biden's first 100 days, with U.S. gross domestic product hitting 6.4 percent, the best quarterly reading since 2003… U.S gross domestic product, or GDP, a measure of the total amount of goods and services produced, hit 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021, according to advance estimates released Thursday from the Commerce Department."

"The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will propose a ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes in the United States, which would be a huge blow for future tobacco sales… Menthol is the last allowable flavor for cigarettes. According to the FDA, menthol cigarettes have been disproportionately been used by youth, people of color and low-income communities. The vast majority of Black smokers favor menthol cigarette brands, and Black men currently have the highest rates of lung cancer in the country."

How goes Brexit? "European Union leaders, their British counterparts and European businesses expressed hope Wednesday that the final ratification of the post-Brexit trade deal will open a new, positive era of cooperation despite the many divisive topics remaining between the former partners."

"Britain’s political spending watchdog said Wednesday it was scaling up an investigation into Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s finances, saying there were 'reasonable grounds' to suspect an offense had been committed over the pricey refurbishment of the prime minister’s Downing Street residence."

"In another reversal of Trump administration immigration enforcement policy, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that federal agents would no longer be permitted to arrest people in or near courthouses for most immigration violations." Good.

"Facing its biggest student speech case in a half century, the Supreme Court seemed to be looking for a narrow exit door on Wednesday… At issue was whether schools may punish students for speech that occurs online and off campus but may affect school order."

"When we think of deepfakes, we tend to imagine AI-generated people. This might be lighthearted, like a deepfake Tom Cruise, or malicious, like nonconsensual pornography. What we don’t imagine is deepfake geography: AI-generated images of cityscapes and countryside. But that’s exactly what some researchers are worried about." I would like to say governments won't be faked or have problems because of open sourced data (because governments can generate their own trusted data), but it's already happened. Also, the first Desert Storm, our commanders were buying old National Geographics to get the maps included because we didn't have current and accurate maps of Iraq. (Grokked from John)

"The massive package -- which Biden is calling the American Families Plan -- is the second half of his effort to revitalize the nation and ensure a more equitable recovery. The proposal would also extend or make permanent enhancements to several key tax credits that were contained in the Democrats' $1.9 trillion rescue bill, which Biden signed into law last month."

"Several former members of the Red Brigades – a violent radical-left Italian terrorist group that was active in the 1970s and 1980s – were arrested Wednesday in France after years of living under de facto asylum, the French government said in a statement." Good.

"Federal agents executed search warrants Wednesday at the Manhattan apartment and office of Rudy Giuliani, his attorney said, advancing a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors that has been underway for more than two years." Whelp.

"A New York City man charged with making online threats to murder members of Congress told a jury on Tuesday that the threats weren't meant to be taken seriously… Brendan Hunt acknowledged he had written the online statements but dismissed them as 'blather' produced under the influence of marijuana and alcohol." See, he was "just joking." Narrator: no he wasn't.

"The fanatical Donald Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol in January are facing an unexpected obstacle to their freedom: Trump himself… Trump’s refusal to accept the reality that he lost the 2020 election — reflected in a torrent of recent statements renewing discredited claims about a 'rigged' vote — has become a feature of prosecutors’ latest attempts to jail Capitol riot defendants they deem too dangerous to release pending trial." Not sorry.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The sounds of crickets

Sorry. Crazy moring. Just thought it was only about 10:30. So yea, that kinda day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday April 27

"A new U.S. spy satellite launched into space Monday afternoon (April 26) on the mightiest rocket built by the United Launch Alliance (ULA): the massive Delta IV Heavy… The behemoth blasted off at 4:47 p.m. EST (2047 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying the classified NROL-82 satellite into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)."

"Ingenuity took off early Sunday morning (April 25) on its third and most ambitious Martian mission yet. The 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper traveled a total of 330 feet (100 meters) laterally, stayed aloft for 80 seconds and reached a maximum speed of about 4.5 mph (7.2 kph), smashing the marks set on its previous two flights." What I haven't heard yet is if Ingenuity has been given extended life missions yet. It has to stay close to Perseverance, but it could do a lot even with that limitation. The main downfall would be mission bandwidth to and from the pair.

Because not everything on Reddit is bad… "Some have called it Josh Fight or the Josh Battle Royale. Others will remember it simply as Josh vs. Josh vs. Josh… No matter the title, hundreds of people who share the first name Josh gathered Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., to vie for the 'right' to their name. Armed with pool noodles, Joshes from across the country met at Air Park, where they brawled as onlookers with other names cheered from the sidelines."

"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Monday it is preparing to restore California's right to set its own vehicle emissions standards, in a widely anticipated reversal of Trump-era policies… The decision, which will take several months to be finalized, reaffirms the Golden State's powerful position as an environmental regulator after the Trump administration had in 2019 sought to remove California's powers to set its own emissions standards."

"The Biden administration says new federal guidelines released Tuesday will allow far more medical practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug proven to reduce opioid relapses and overdose deaths… The change lowers regulatory hurdles that critics believe sharply limit use of the life-saving medication at a time when drug deaths are surging."

"The effort, described to CNN during in-depth interviews with three of the administration's top Covid advisers and two other White House officials, has allowed the US to go from having one of the worst Covid responses in the world to being a global leader in getting shots in arms. The interviews reveal how the Biden team inherited a pandemic at its zenith with a high demand for vaccines and little supply, along with no long-term plan to vaccinate millions of Americans. The President, at times impatient, pressed his advisers harder on ways to improve the federal government's response to the virus." It's amazing was a competent government can do.

"The United States will release 60 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from drugmaker AstraZeneca to other countries over the next several months, the White House announced Monday." That's a start.

"India put oxygen tankers on special express trains as major hospitals in New Delhi begged on social media on Friday for more supplies to save COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe. More than a dozen people died when an oxygen-fed fire ripped through a coronavirus ward in a populous western state."

"The Brazilian health regulator Anvisa on Monday rejected importing the Russian-made Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine requested by state governors battling a deadly second wave of the virus that is battering Latin America's largest nation."

"'Our findings suggest that astrocytes are a pathway through which COVID-19 causes neurological damage,' said Ricardo Costa, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Shreveport and the study’s first author. 'This could explain many of the neurologic symptoms we see in COVID-19 patients, which include loss of sense of smell and taste, disorientation, psychosis, and stroke.'"

What harm could a little disinformation do? "A private school in Miami is warning its staff against getting COVID-19 vaccines and says it's their policy not to employ anyone who has been vaccinated… A letter stating the new guidance was sent to parents of students at the Centner Academy. In the letter, the school discourages teachers and staff from getting COVID-19 vaccines or asks them to wait until the end of the school year… The letter even states that legal action will be taken if staff lie." Seriously, this is third world disinformation campaign shit. People who fall for these obvious lies shouldn't be in education.

A comic on psychic numbing. It can be easy to get lost when the numbers get large, or you see the same tragedy day after day.

"Attorneys representing the family of Andrew Brown Jr. said Monday that North Carolina sheriff's deputies shot the 42-year-old Black man in the back of the head as they were serving a warrant last week. Brown's son, who was allowed to view what the family's attorneys said was 20 seconds of police body camera video, called the shooting in Elizabeth City an execution." And one would think that since this is obviously a redacted video, that they would only show the footage that put the police in the best light.

"This time, the researchers found some surprisingly good news: many millennials made dramatic progress after 2016. 'What we found was pretty substantial: they had made wealth gains of over 80% in just a three year period,' Kent says. By 2019, the typical millennial household had increased its net worth to about $51,000. Millennials are still significantly behind in amassing wealth — about 11 percent, or about $6,400, behind previous generations — but they're way better off than they were just three years before." I appreciate that it's been hard for Millennials, but I'm almost out of patience with this crap. Gen-X had it just as hard, we faced similar setbacks (increased college debt, low opportunities, wages that didn't rise and barely kept up with inflation - hint on the last one, you need to find new jobs to increase your pay, hardly anyone works for the same employer their entire work life anymore). Millennials have it at least a little better because they are actually being recognized as having a rough time. Gen-Xers were told to suck it up and quit being slackers. We were told our problem was we expected everything to be handed to us, that it was our own fault and not the structural issues and boomers not wanting to realize they were getting old. Is it tough? Yes, it fucking is. But Millennials are not the first generation to come through this and I've had about enough of the public and media perception that they are.

"Home price gains continue to outpace expectations, as tight supply and strong demand lead to bidding wars… Nationally, prices in February rose 12% year over year, up from 11.2% in January, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index." Hello new bubble.

"President Biden will require federal contractors to pay their employees a minimum wage of $15 an hour starting March 30, 2022, senior administration officials say — a hike that will benefit a few hundred thousand people and underscore the broader Democratic push to raise the federal pay floor to the same level."

"An NYPD officer, a 43-year-old husband and father of two, was killed early Tuesday when he was struck by a passing vehicle while diverting traffic from a previous fatal crash on the Long Island Expressway in Queens, and an alleged drunk driver is in custody." I wonder if Blue Lives Matter will now join MADD in the crusade to end driving while under the influence? Yeah, I don't really expect that either.

"In a major foray into gun rights, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review a case testing how far states may go in regulating whether an individual may carry a gun outside the home."

"Abbott was retweeted by fellow Republican Gov. Brad Little, who said, “Idahoans also have beef with this agenda and for dinner!” The two governors followed in a line of conservative politicians, pundits and news outlets who spent days proudly stating their opposition to a provision of Biden’s climate plan that doesn’t exist." Because they've learned it doesn't matter if it's true or supportable, it only matters if they can make their base upset.

"On a recent episode of his livestreamed show, the 22-year-old extremist Nick Fuentes repeated a formula that has won him a following with some of the youngest members of the far right. He went on an extended, violent and misogynistic rant, only to turn to the camera and add with a smirk, 'Just joking!'" Hint, they're not.

"The Florida state Senate on Monday approved tighter vote-by-mail regulations in a bill that in recent days was made less stringent after neighboring Georgia's new voting restrictions elicited widespread condemnation… A stronger version of the Florida legislation is still under consideration in the state's House of Representatives. The two chambers must approve an identical measure for it to reach Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk for signature. Florida's legislative session is scheduled to end Friday."

Monday, April 26, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday April 26

Two spear phishing attempts in the past week? Serious, guys, I ain't worth it.

"ESA said on April 26, 2021 that it will be live tweeting the asteroid impact exercise being discussed at this week’s Planetary Defense Conference, which is held virtually April 26 through 30. It looks as if NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (@AsteroidWatch) will also be following the action, and no doubt many others will be as well." This is just an exercise people. And yes, I expect some bad actors to try and conflate this to an actual emergency.

"The Crew-2 astronauts had a relatively close call with a UFO, likely space junk, several hours after launching Friday from Florida, according to space.com… A Falcon 9 rocket catapulted the astronauts into space aboard a Crew Dragon capsule early Friday morning and the space junk encounter, known as a conjunction, took place around 1:43 p.m. EDT." It's getting crowded up there.

"More than 5 million people, or nearly 8% of those who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have missed their second doses, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is more than double the rate among people who got inoculated in the first several weeks of the nationwide vaccine campaign." Get the second shot, peoples. And no, it doesn't help that the people administrating the shots don't have their shit together.

"The Biden administration is slated to relax federal public health guidance on wearing masks outdoors as soon as this week, a source familiar with the plans told NBC News… The announcement, which may come as early as Tuesday, could give separate recommendations for fully vaccinated people and those who have not received a coronavirus vaccine, added the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The administration is still finalizing the guidance, NBC reported." This is a Bad Idea™.

"Boris Johnson suggested that 'bodies could pile high' during a heated discussion about lockdown in Downing Street in the autumn, sources familiar with the talks have told the BBC… On Monday, the Daily Mail reported that Mr Johnson had said 'let the bodies pile high in their thousands' rather than order a third lockdown… The PM denied making the remarks, adding that lockdowns had worked."

"American tourists who have been fully vaccinated will be allowed to visit the European Union this summer, according to officials in Brussels… Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, says she expects all 27 EU member states will accept travelers who've received COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by the European Medicines Agency."

"Newark Police officers did not fire a single shot during the calendar year 2020, and the city didn’t pay a single dime to settle police brutality cases. That’s never happened, at least in the city’s modern history… At the same time, crime is dropping, and police recovered almost 500 illegal guns from the street during the year." Not everything is great there, but this proves that reform is possible at least to some degree.

"There are lots of jobs out there like Isis's, that don't require a bachelor's degree. Whether you're looking for your first job or changing paths, here's what to know about getting a job in the trades."

"ING Chief International Economist James Knightley is forecasting consumer prices will continue to rise in the near term and could gain almost 4% by May, compared with the same time a year ago. The consumer price index, which tracks how much U.S. consumers pay for a basket of goods, rose 2.6% in March from the year-ago period, according to the Department of Labor."

"Automakers from GM to Ford Motor (F.N) and Toyota (7203.T) have cut production this year due to the global semiconductor chip shortage. While those automakers have been pinched, dealers are experiencing the best of times. Not only can they charge full price for the hottest-selling trucks and SUVs, but many also have reduced promotional spending and other costs required by full vehicle lots." Madness ensues.

"Everyone knows that Democrats want to raise taxes on the rich, but what hasn’t gotten nearly as much notice is how much they’ve cut them for most everyone else — substantially more than Republicans did in the first year of their 2017 tax overhaul… New estimates by Congress’s official forecasters show Democrats’ tax cuts — included in their March stimulus package — will drive down tax rates on low- and middle-income people so much this year that those earning less than $75,000, on average, will owe nothing in federal income taxes." It really depends on how you want to slice the pie.

"The wreckage of a lost Indonesian submarine has been located, according to the country's military. The KRI Nanggala 402 went missing early Wednesday morning during a training exercise near Bali."

"A recording of Iran's foreign minister offering a blunt appraisal of diplomacy and the limits of power within the Islamic Republic has been leaked, providing a rare look inside the country's theocracy." Yes, it's been "accidentally" leaked.

"The violent incident garnered media attention in Australia, a country that has sent thousands of troops to the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. The Australian military confirmed there were civilian casualties and initially sought charges against commandos involved but eventually dropped them, never saying why… It is one of dozens of incidents in which Australian forces are accused of killing civilians in Afghanistan."

"Amnesty International has a culture of white privilege with incidents of overt racism including senior staff using the N-word and micro-aggressive behaviour such as the touching of black colleagues’ hair, according to an internal review into its secretariat."

"Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, launched a campaign for Senate on Monday, giving Democrats their first candidate in the race to succeed Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who is not running for re-election… The 10-term congressman first made his intentions known in a filing with the Federal Election Commission that identifies him as a Senate hopeful." Not unexpected, but an interesting leap of faith as his district continues to turn red.

"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy engaged in a bit -- actually more than a bit -- of revisionist history about the riot at the US Capitol on January 6 during an interview with 'Fox News Sunday' host Chris Wallace over the weekend."

"Speaking with 'Fox News Sunday,' McCarthy said Trump was not aware of what was going on at the Capitol when he first reached him. A former Trump adviser told The Washington Post that Trump was watching the events unfold on TV, which Trump later denied… 'I was the first person to contact him when the riots were going on,' McCarthy said. 'He didn't see it. What he ended the call with saying was telling me he'll put something out to make sure to stop this. And that's what he did. He put a video out later.'"

"The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, has said his job involves walking 'the tightest tightrope anyone has to walk' – shedding light on his very public refusal to answer a question about a conversation with Donald Trump during the Capitol attack." Hey Kev, you could make it a lot easier for yourself and your caucus, but that would require balls you don't have.

"More action, less talk, distinguish Biden’s 100-day sprint."

"For a 78-year-old president who consistently polled poorly among young voters during the 2020 Democratic primary, Joe Biden is posting some of the highest approval ratings from the demographic of any other president going back more than two decades."

"As he now approaches his 100th day in office on Thursday, here’s a look at how Biden is measuring up in meeting some of the markers he laid out for the start of his presidency."

"The first set of results from the 2020 census will be released Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau has confirmed. The federal statistical agency's acting director, Ron Jarmin, is expected to report new state population counts to the public at a 3 p.m. ET virtual news conference, and the numbers will also be posted on the bureau's website."

"No fewer than five Fox News or Fox Business personalities told versions of the scare story on the air since Friday morning. For example, Fox News host Jesse Watters said Saturday that 'Americans are going to have to cut their red meat consumption by 90% in order to reduce emissions to hit Biden's target. That means you're only allowed to eat four pounds of red meat a year. That adds up to a burger a month. That's it.'" And it's all fake. Yes, the information war is still on.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday April 23

"The Art of Writing: A conversation with Ohio Authors @LauraMaylene and Marie Vibbert (@mareasie)." A recorded conversation hosted by the Cleveland Public Library. I haven't watched it yet, but Marie is wicked smart. Besides, 3 ladies wearing tiaras talking about writing, what could go wrong?

"Photos: The Culture Of Whales."

"A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft — carrying four astronauts from three countries — took off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Friday morning, beginning their six-month stay in space… This launch marked the third-ever crewed flight for Elon Musk's company and the first to make use of a previously flown rocket booster and spacecraft."

"NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter carried out a second successful test flight Thursday, lifting off from a site dubbed 'Wright Brothers Field' in Jezero Crater. It climbed to 16 feet in the ultra-thin Martian atmosphere, tilting to one side for a short out-and-back traverse, and then touched down to close out a 52-second flight."

"Biden on Thursday pledged a drastic reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. But the White House hasn’t set any specific targets yet for agriculture, which accounts for 10 percent of all U.S. emissions, according to the EPA. Those discharges mostly stem from fertilizers, livestock and manure." This is a distraction ploy by the fossil fuels industry. Same as the "well, you drive the car, it isn't the gas producer's fault" line of reasoning.

"Leaders of countries like Brazil, Canada and Japan made commitments on Thursday to curb domestic greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change during President Joe Biden’s climate summit…The pledges come shortly after Biden vowed to reduce U.S. emissions by at least 50% by 2030, more than doubling the country’s prior commitment under the 2015 Paris climate agreement."

"A malaria vaccine has proved to be 77% effective in early trials and could be a major breakthrough against the disease, says the University of Oxford team behind it." That's a game changer. But malaria is a parasite infection which lives only part of it's life in humans (IIRC).

"More than 4 million people in Ohio have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination, but there is growing concern about the declining demand to get a shot."

"The U.S. Do Not Travel list now includes Canada, Mexico, Germany and the U.K. A Level 3 warning is in place for a smaller group of nations, such as China, Australia and Iceland. Japan is also on the Level 3 list, despite a worrying rise in new coronavirus cases there."

"People often feel nervous when they visit a doctor with some fearing their symptoms may not be believed. But what if you are the doctor, and your colleagues dismiss your disabilities and mental health difficulties? Miranda Schreiber explores this challenging relationship."

On the Media podcast with… "Since 2007, researchers have been required by law to publish the findings of any clinical trial with human subjects within a year of the trial's conclusion. Over a decade later, even the country's most well-renown research institutions sport poor reporting records. This week, Bob spoke with Charles Piller, an investigative journalist at Science Magazine who's been documenting this dismal state of affairs since 2015. He recently published an op-ed in the New York Times urging President Biden to make good on his 2016 'promise' to start withholding funds to force compliance."

"LeVar Burton will host a week of Jeopardy! this summer, after nearly 250,000 people signed a petition backing the actor and director's long-held aspiration to try out for the job that was left vacant by Alex Trebek, who died last year."

"Clashes between Palestinians from east Jerusalem and Israeli police around the Damascus gate entrance to the Old City erupted in a night of unrest that earlier saw Jewish extremists marching through another city street shouting 'Death to Arabs.'… The violence marks a high point so far in a new phase of complex heightened tensions in the city which began a week and half ago around the start of Ramadan, and prompted an unusual statement Friday morning from the US embassy in Jerusalem in which it called on 'all responsible voices [to] promote an end to incitement.'" Both siderism.

"The U.S. is joining an international search for a missing Indonesian submarine which lost contact with base earlier this week. Authorities say KRI Nanggala 402, if still intact, has less than a day of oxygen to sustain its crew of 53… Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby announced on Twitter Thursday evening that at the request of Indonesia, the U.S. was 'sending airborne assets to assist in the search for the missing submarine.'" I hope we have our rescue vehicles in place.

"Russian troops began pulling back to their permanent bases Friday after a massive buildup that has caused Ukrainian and Western concerns."

"President Joe Biden is preparing to outline the next step of his economic agenda during a joint session to Congress next week and his proposal to pay for it is expected to include new taxes on the wealthiest Americans… Multiple sources familiar with the discussions underway tell CNN that Biden's forthcoming American Family Plan could nearly double the capital gains tax for people who make more than $1 million a year by taxing it like wages and salaries, and raise the top marginal income tax rate from 37% to 39.6% for households making $400,000 or more in income." Can't wait to see the "new blue collar champions" GOP's take on this.

"If President Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan is going to become a reality, it will very likely need the vote of every Democrat in the evenly divided Senate… That simple fact puts a bright spotlight on West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who represents a deep-red Republican state — a place that Donald Trump carried in the past two elections by some 40 percentage points." And now the unions are getting involved to pressure Manchin. It seems like people forget how politics is actually played. Manchin thought he was in control. He's about to learn that he isn't.

"Union leaders told the Senate Democrats' campaign arm in a private call Wednesday not to expect them to back lawmakers in upcoming elections unless they coalesce behind the pro-labor Protecting the Right to Organize Act, three sources told POLITICO."

"A controversial election bill was surprisingly voted down in Arizona on Thursday… A Republican state senator broke ranks and voted against a GOP-backed measure that could remove tens of thousands of voters from the state's early ballot mailing list."

"Capping nearly two weeks of talks between Democrats and Republicans, the Senate approved legislation on Thursday to ramp up law enforcement efforts to better protect the Asian American and Pacific Islander community from hate crimes… The move marks a rare moment of bipartisan unity needed to approve the Senate legislation despite a new political era marked by increasingly bitter party divisions." This should really be one of those bills that should sail right through.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday April 22

"The rover on Tuesday successfully converted some of the plentiful carbon dioxide on Mars into oxygen as a first test of its MOXIE instrument. The name MOXIE is short for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment." Proof of technology.

"US pharmaceutical company Pfizer says it has identified counterfeit versions of its coronavirus vaccine in Mexico and Poland… The doses were seized by authorities in the two countries and confirmed by tests to be fake."

"The Baltimore factory contracted to make Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine was dirty, didn't follow proper manufacturing procedures and had poorly trained staff, resulting in contamination of material that was going to be put in the shots, U.S. regulators said Wednesday… The Food and Drug Administration released a statement and a 13-page report detailing findings from its recent inspection of the now-idle Emergent BioSciences factory."

"Calling all those who are sleep-deprived: We interrupt your yawns with an important announcement… If you're trying to get by on about six hours or less of sleep a night during the workweek, you're setting up your brain for future failure, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications." Stares in chronic sleep deprivation.

"More than 24 hours after a Black man was fatally shot by a North Carolina deputy, grieving loved ones and frustrated protesters awaited details to piece together what happened… Andrew Brown Jr. was killed early Wednesday morning in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, said Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten. The deputy was executing a search warrant, and he has since been placed on leave pending investigation, he said."

"The U.S. jobs market recovery accelerated its pace last week as fewer Americans headed to the unemployment line, the Labor Department reported Thursday… First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 547,000, well below the Dow Jones estimate for 603,000 and a new low for the Covid-19 pandemic era."

"Five years ago, older millennials were 40% poorer than previous generations were at the same stage of life. That wealth gap has shrunk in recent years, but it’s still too soon to tell if obstacles such as student loan debt burdens, rising living expenses and the effects of the Covid pandemic will push this generation permanently off course." For various values of "previous generations." Like when you exclude Gen X. "Looking back five years, in 2016 the average older millennial was 32, earning a median income of $57,500 and had a net worth of approximately $27,900. But based on wealth rates previous generations recorded at similar ages, the typical millennial should have been earning a median salary of $65,900 with a net worth around $46,600 in 2016, according to calculations by the St. Louis Fed’s Institute for Economic Equity, based on the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances." Fuuuuuuck.

"Hunter's mother died when he was little, and his father later went to prison, court records show, leaving him in a foster home. In the years that followed, he was owed nearly $700 a month in federal survivor benefits, an amount based on Social Security contributions from his mother's paychecks. He doesn't remember Alaska's Office of Children's Services ever informing him that it was routing this money — his safety net — into state coffers… 'It's really messed up to steal money from kids who grew up in foster care,' said Hunter, now 21, who says he is struggling to afford college, rent and car payments. 'We get out and we don't have anybody or anything. This is exactly what survivor benefits are for.'"

"A missile launched from Syria was fired into southern Israel early Thursday, setting off air raid sirens near the country's top-secret nuclear reactor, the Israeli military said. In response, it said it attacked the missile launcher and air-defense systems in neighboring Syria… The incident, marking some of the most serious violence between Israel and Syria in years, pointed to potential Iranian involvement." Tit for tat.

One of our submarines… "Indonesia has about 72 hours left to rescue 53 crew members of a missing navy submarine before they run out of oxygen, the navy said… The KRI Nanggala-402 vessel is thought to have disappeared about 60 miles (100km) off the coast of Bali early on Wednesday morning."

"Tareq Alaows was hoping to become the first Syrian refugee to win a seat in Germany's parliament when the country goes to the polls in September… Citing death threats and a racist offensive against him and people close to him, Alaows withdrew his candidacy to represent the constituency of Oberhausen, in North Rhine-Westphalia state, in parliament on March 30."

"Russia is ready to start building its own space station with the aim of launching it into orbit by 2030 if President Vladimir Putin gives the go-ahead, the head of its Roscosmos space agency has said… The project would end more than two decades of close cooperation with the United States aboard the ageing International Space Station (ISS)." Hey my Russian friends, how's that ruble doing?

"This is not the first time (DC) statehood has made it to the House floor. Just last year, House Democrats voted 232-180 in favor of statehood, making it 'the first time in the nation’s history that either house of Congress approved legislation granting full statehood and congressional representation' to the District, Vox’s Ian Millhiser reported at the time."

"A Capitol Police official radioed units outside of the building on the morning of Jan. 6 and told them only to scout for anti-Trump troublemakers — not pro-Trump protesters, according to Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who described what she said were details of an internal investigation conducted in the aftermath of the mob attack."

"A GOP-backed bill introduced in the Ohio House on Monday aims to change the name of Trumbull County state park to honor former President Donald Trump… The bill primarily sponsored by freshman State Rep. Mike Loychik would rename Mosquito Lake State Park to Donald J. Trump State Park." When you have a park called Mosquito Lake, you'd think you'd want to upgrade the name, not make it worse.

"Unlike in previous years, a progressive group has decided to deliver a formal response to President Joe Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress next week."

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Linkee-poo was barely seventeen, and I once killed a boy with a Fender guitar

Jim Steinman, and so it goes.

"For the first time, NASA is putting its trust in a recycled SpaceX rocket and capsule for a crew… Astronaut Megan McArthur takes special pleasure in the reused spacecraft set to soar Thursday morning. In 'a fun twist,' she’ll sit in the same seat in the same capsule as her husband, Bob Behnken, did last spring for a test flight to the International Space Station."

"For the last two decades, HIV/AIDS has been held at bay by potent antiviral drugs, aggressive testing and inventive public education campaigns. But the COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound disruptions in almost every aspect of that battle, grounding outreach teams, sharply curtailing testing and diverting critical staff away from laboratories and medical centers."

"One of the disturbing discoveries of the past year has been that it's not just the human population we have to worry about. SARS-CoV-2 has been found in a number of species, notably cats and mink, that we spend a lot of time around. It has even spread from there to the wild mink population, and the virus has jumped back and forth between humans and farmed mink. These animal reservoirs provide added opportunities for COVID to evolve in ways that make it more dangerous to us—perhaps via mutations that allow it to adapt to the new species."

"But Frommhold also treats a second group of patients who experienced mild to medium COVID-19 symptoms, and only spent a short time in the hospital, if at all… 'These patients get rebound symptoms after about one to four months,' Frommhold said."

"Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday vetoed legislation that would have made the state's sex education laws some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues… The governor called the legislation overly broad and vague and said it would lead to unintended consequences. He also said he was concerned a ban on sex education before 5th grade could put vulnerable children at risk by limiting sexual abuse prevention education… At the same time, the Republican issued an executive order adopting some of the transparency portions of the measure."

"The conviction of Derek Chauvin showed George Floyd's life really did matter to a justice system on trial… Now, millions of Americans wait to see whether a moment of rare hope will spur political leaders to deliver similar justice by reforming policing and eradicating systemic racism."

"Yet simultaneously in several cities, the celebratory mood was tempered by a sense that the verdict represented just a small degree of accountability in a greater fight against racial injustice and police violence… Here's a glimpse at how people nationwide are processing Tuesday's verdict."

"A 16-year-old Black girl was fatally shot by an officer outside her home after she called the police for help on Tuesday afternoon, according to her family… The girl has been identified as Ma'Khia Bryant by her aunt, Hazel Bryant… Bryant allegedly called officers at about 4:30 p.m. local time when a group of 'older kids' threatened her with assault, her aunt told Ohio Statehouse News Bureau reporter Andy Chow. She did not elaborate on the nature of the threat."

"Officials with the Columbus Division of Police showed a segment of the footage Tuesday night just hours after the shooting took place in a neighborhood on the city’s east side. The decision to swiftly release the video was a departure from protocol as the force faces immense scrutiny from the public following a series of recent high-profile police killings that have led to clashes."

"Indonesia's navy has lost contact with a submarine carrying 53 sailors that was preparing for a weapons training exercise in waters north of Bali, a military spokesman Wednesday."

"Democrats narrowly defeated a resolution brought by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Tuesday to censure Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, after she encouraged protesters in Minnesota to 'stay on the street' and 'get more confrontational' if they don't see a guilty verdict returned in the Derek Chauvin trial regarding the death of George Floyd." Because, you know, "get more confrontational" is exactly the same as telling people they have to "fight like hell."

"All homeless people living on Los Angeles' Skid Row must be offered housing by October 18, a federal judge ordered Tuesday… The order comes in response to a federal lawsuit filed last year by several citizens, business owners, and community leaders who argue officials have failed to address the homeless crisis in Los Angeles, as tents line full city blocks and makeshift shelters cramp under street overpasses."

"Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., are introducing legislation Wednesday that would make higher education free for most Americans by imposing new taxes on many Wall Street transactions… The legislation would eliminate tuition and fees at public, four-year institutions for those from families earning up to $125,000 per year and make community college free for everyone. The push comes amid mounting pressure from progressives on President Biden to forgive some existing student loan debt and make higher education more accessible."

"When Barr learned about Gaetz’s conversation with the president, he was incensed. The attorney general called the U.S. attorney and gave him an earful, according to two people familiar with the call… 'If I ever hear of you talking to Gaetz or any other congressman again about business before the department, I am going to fucking fire your ass,' Barr told him, according to one of the people with knowledge of the call." Gaetz wants to frame this about "going after voter fraud and being frustrated, but Gaetz's move was to "go over" Barr's head. Barr's response is justified.

"Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night ended an interview with a former New York City corrections officer after the guest criticized former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for using excessive force when he killed George Floyd." Conservative talking points can only be agreed with. Any dissent is shut down.

"Texas Republicans are at the vanguard of a national push to curtail voting rights, with lawmakers targeting the voters and policies that helped Democrats make inroads in the 2020 election… Texas legislators have introduced 49 bills restricting voting access, far more than any other state, even as major Texas-based corporations such as American Airlines express fervent opposition."

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday April 20

Walter Mondale, and so it goes.

"A Humana Inc. health plan for seniors in Florida improperly collected nearly $200 million in 2015 by overstating how sick some patients were, according to a new federal audit, which seeks to claw back the money… The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General's recommendation to repay, if finalized, would be "by far the largest" audit penalty ever imposed on a Medicare Advantage company, said Christopher Bresette, an HHS assistant regional inspector general." Oopsie. Also note, this audit has a lot of grey areas, in some cases Medicare underpaid. It was the overall effect that Medicare overpaid. And the majority of the issues here are the billing codes and if the diagnosis matched to the billing code. This is a HUGE concern in medical care billing. But, again, privatization of government is, in general, a Bad Idea™.

"A couple of doses of a psychedelic drug may treat depression as well as one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, a small and short study published Wednesday shows… A Phase 2 clinical trial, conducted by researchers in London, was the first randomized trial to compare therapeutic doses of psilocybin — the psychedelic compound found in so-called magic mushrooms — with a daily medication. The results were released in The New England Journal of Medicine." For a long time I've been on the opposite side of this, but they're convincing me.

"The U.S. State Department on Monday announced plans to expand travel advisories, urging U.S. citizens to stay home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose 'unprecedented risks' around the globe."

"The risk of surface transmission of Covid-19 is low, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. Far more important is airborne transmission -- and people who obsessively disinfect surfaces may be doing more harm than good." Ta-da! But note there is a window of infectiousness that it is important to clean surfaces, and that window of time is before a person shows symptoms. Kind of a conundrum, ain't it.

"Before the Vietnam War there was a law that banned women from reporting on the frontlines of any war for the U.S. When President Johnson refused to officially declare a state of war in Vietnam, an opening appeared: no war, no ban. A handful of pioneering women bought one-way tickets into the battlefield. They had no editors, no health insurance and little or no formal training. This week, Brooke spoke about this time to reporter Elizabeth Becker, formerly a Washington Post war correspondent in Cambodia, NPR's foreign editor and then national security correspondent for the New York Times. Becker is the author of a new book: You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War."

"The Biden administration is ordering U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to change how they talk about immigrants… The terms 'illegal alien' and 'assimilation' are out — replaced by 'undocumented noncitizen' and 'integration.'" Words are important.

"It has meant that once a decade, states have had to face the prospect of joining a list of winners and losers after those House seats are reshuffled based on how the states' latest census population counts rank. How those seats are reassigned also plays a key role in presidential elections. Each state's share of Electoral College votes is determined by adding its number of House seats to its two Senate seats."

"When groups of sinister drones began hovering over homes in America’s Midwest, the FBI, US Air Force and 16 police forces set up a task force. But the drones vanished. Did they even exist?"

"First Amendment groups are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make public major decisions authorizing government surveillance, opinions that until now have remained almost secret… For years, the ACLU and other groups have maintained that the public has a First Amendment right to see major decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, decisions that authorize everything from surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists to metadata mining aimed at ferreting out potential terrorist plots, including those that involve contacts between foreigners and American citizens." This would be a huge win for transparency of government.

"Former President George W. Bush described the modern-day GOP as 'isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist' in an interview Tuesday that was packed with implicit criticism of the most recent Republican president… 'It’s not exactly my vision' for the party, Bush told NBC’s 'Today' show in a rare live TV appearance. 'But, you know, I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture.'" Hey, GW, no real acknowledgement on how you used that to gain power and, while you did try to modify it a little while president, on the whole you went in deep in this territory and took the party with you. As my friend Jim Wright says, "All the self-awareness of a dog licking it's own asshole in public."

"The American ambassador to Russia is returning to Washington for 'consultations' after a new round of sanctions imposed on Moscow last week by President Biden, including the expulsion of 10 U.S. diplomats – a move quickly followed by reciprocal measures from the Kremlin… A brief statement from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Tuesday announced that Ambassador John Sullivan was returning to the U.S. this week after his Russian counterpart was recalled amid increasingly strained relations between the two countries."

"Trumbull County man says he’s an angel, arrested at stranger’s house claiming to rid it of demons." Whackaloon quotient is still sky-high.

"A federal judge on Monday ordered two alleged leaders of the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys detained pending trial on conspiracy and other charges tied to the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol."

"U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who engaged with pro-Trump rioters during the Jan. 6 insurrection, died of natural causes the day after the attack, Washington, D.C.'s chief medical examiner announced Monday."

"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is introducing a resolution to censure Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, after she encouraged protesters in Minnesota to 'stay on the street' and 'get more confrontational' if they don't see a guilty verdict returned in the Derek Chauvin trial regarding the death of George Floyd."

"Florida's governor has signed a law that he called the "strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement measure in the country." The law was written in response to protests around the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. It provides new protections for police and increases the penalties for people who take part in property damage or violence during protests." Making "seeking redress" a crime. Not only is it an attack on citizen rights, it's an attack on home rule. My guess is it won't withstand Constitutional scrutiny.

"After weeks of talks with corporate executives of some of the state’s largest companies, Georgia faith leaders will officially call for a boycott of Home Depot on Tuesday claiming the company has not done enough to oppose the state’s new voting law."

"Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema posted a photo of herself brandishing a ring that read 'F*** Off' a little over a month after she voted against a measure to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour." Assholes are asshole no matter what party they belong to.

"Former aides to former President Donald Trump are reportedly looking back at the end of his term as a major missed opportunity to encourage his supporters to get vaccinated against COVID-19." Oh there's a lot more for them to be upset about.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday April 19

"NASA's Ingenuity helicopter has made the first-ever powered flight on another planet, 117 years after the Wright Brothers' historic flight on this planet… The flight itself was modest. The 4-pound helicopter rose 10 feet in the air, hovered briefly, and returned to the Martian surface. An images taken from the craft showed Ingenuity's shadow on the surface and another taken from the Perseverance rover showed an airborne Ingenuity."

"Starship SN15 is expected to undergo a Static Fire test as early as Tuesday to clear the path for a test flight no earlier than Wednesday as SpaceX’s rapidly reusable interplanetary launch and landing system gained a massive sign of NASA approval – and a ton of government cash to boot… SpaceX was the sole winner of NASA’s initial Human Landing System (HLS) award worth in total more than $2.9 billion, meaning the human return to the Moon’s surface will be via Starship."

"An 'out of control' fire is burning in Cape Town's Table Mountain National Park, damaging buildings and prompting the evacuation of hikers from the city's most famous landmark, South African officials said Sunday… Two firefighters were injured and admitted to the hospital and nine structures were destroyed in the blaze, Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, told CNN in an email on Sunday."

"The White House is hosting a two-day summit on climate change this week where leaders from 40 countries will discuss plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately reverse global warming… The summit highlights the United States' return to the Paris climate agreement, and it is the Biden administration's first major opportunity to reestablish the country as a trustworthy player in international climate diplomacy."

"More than 200 tons of fossilized giant clam shells, worth nearly $25 million, were seized in a joint law enforcement raid in the Philippines' province of Palawan Friday. The Philippine Coast Guard said the haul was the largest to date in the province."

"This has fuelled an incredibly lucrative trade in the endangered animals (sea cucumbers), one that has grown steadily in recent decades. In the 1980s, sea cucumbers fetched less than £50 a kilo; now prices have risen to more than £200 a kilo, with rarer species valued at more than £2,500 a kilo."

"A suspected poacher was killed by a herd of breeding elephants that he encountered while fleeing from park rangers, according to South African officials… Three people attempted to run away after they were spotted by rangers at the Kruger National Park, one of Africa's largest game reserves, on Saturday, South African National Parks officials said." Sometimes, senior, the bull no lose. Well, they were attempting to poach a rhino. They just ran the wrong way.

"The United States has reached another important milestone in the race to protect its population against the coronavirus, with more than a quarter of Americans now fully vaccinated against Covid-19… More than 84 million people -- roughly 25.4% of the population -- have been fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Sunday."

"Resuming the use of Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine in the United States will require clear guidelines for the medical community on how to best treat patients that develop a rare type of blood clot, as well as alerting vaccine recipients to be aware of the telltale symptoms, according to heart doctors and other medical experts."

"Otters at an aquarium in Atlanta have tested positive for Covid-19 but are expected to make full recoveries… 'They began exhibiting mild respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, runny noses, mild lethargy, and some began coughing,' the Georgia Aquarium said in a statement… The aquarium said the Asian small-clawed otters are doing well." The more animals the virus can infect, the more chances it has to mutate.

"Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, has reached a new deal with reduced tax breaks for its scaled back manufacturing facility in southeast Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers and the the company announced on Monday."

"Authorities are looking for whoever opened fire at a tavern in southeast Wisconsin overnight, killing three people and seriously wounding two others, the Kenosha County sheriff said… Gunfire broke out both inside and outside the The Somers House tavern around 12:40 a.m. Sunday, Sheriff David G. Beth said."

"Vandals threw a pig's head at the onetime home of a former California police officer who was a defense witness for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer accused of killing George Floyd, police said."

"A manhunt was underway Sunday for a former sheriff’s deputy wanted in the fatal shooting of three people in Austin, Texas, as an official said it wasn’t known if the suspect was still in the city."

"The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a Kentucky man whose pickup truck was seized at the Mexican border and held by the federal government for more than two years." Property seizure laws need reforming.

"Flexible hours for working parents, daycare centers at the office, equal pay. Between the 1960s and 1980s, there was a real sense that big workplace changes were just beyond the horizon… At the time a very common job for women was clerical work. And in 1973, a group of secretaries in Boston formed a women's labor organization. They called themselves the '9to5.'" The Planet Money podcast on the making of "9 to 5" and how workers gained rights and then lost them.

"From the Johnson & Johnson pause to talk of “break-through cases” among the already-vaccinated, we’re facing an onslaught of dispiriting and confusing vaccine news. On this week’s On The Media, a guide to separating the facts from the noise. Plus, why pro-labor journalists got the story of an Amazon warehouse union drive so wrong. And, how media coverage of labor movements has morphed over the past century."

"The Czech Republic said on Sunday it had informed NATO and European Union allies about suspected Russian involvement in a 2014 ammunition depot explosion and the matter would be addressed at an E.U. foreign ministers' meeting on Monday… The central European country expelled 18 Russian embassy staff on Saturday over the issue and said investigations had linked Russian intelligence to the explosion, which killed two people."

"The Justice Department said Friday that a Nazi sympathizer who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 poses a threat to Jewish residents in his native New Jersey and therefore shouldn't be released from jail." Wow, all these stories about the economically concerned… okay, I can't even finish that joke. Fucking Nazis are involved, you say?

"Conservative Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is scrapping the planned launch of her "America First" caucus after receiving blowback from leaders in her own party, despite confirming through a spokesperson on Friday that the caucus would launch… Nick Dyer, Greene's spokesperson, told CNN in an email on Saturday afternoon the Georgia Republican is not 'launching anything.'" Such disingenuous bullshit. Uh uh, I didn't write it, I didn't even read it before :: checks notes :: she threw her full support behind it and said it was her idea.

"Rep. Maxine Waters on Sunday said she told GOP Rep. Jim Jordan to 'shut your mouth' during a hearing last week because the Ohio lawmaker was not respecting other lawmakers on the panel and was bullying the panel’s witness, Dr. Anthony Fauci… The brief exchange between the California Democrat and Jordan (R-Ohio), which took place during a House coronavirus subcommittee hearing, quickly became a viral video clip. In it, Jordan repeatedly seeks to question the top infectious disease doctor after his time expires." Well, she said that after she reminded Rep. Jordan that his time had expired.

"Win or lose, California Republicans are hoping a campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom could broaden their path out of the wilderness… A once-mighty party in the state that produced Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has struggled for years to reverse a spiral into irrelevancy. Republicans hold no statewide offices, have been relegated to a super-minority in the state Legislature, are consistently outspent by a well-funded California Democratic Party machine and lag registered Democrats by nearly five million voters. They hold just 11 House seats in a 53-member delegation — and that's only after clawing back four last year."

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Linkee-poo Saturday April 17

"The announcement marks the country's renewed commitment to the Paris accord, the international climate change agreement that former President Donald Trump withdrew from. Environmental groups, scientists and major business leaders are urging the Biden administration to cut emissions 50% by 2030, as compared to 2005 levels."

"Both doctors attributed the rise in hospital visits of teens and young adults, at least in part, to B.1.1.7, the coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K. that public health officials say is now the most common strain circulating in the U.S. The variant is highly contagious, thought to be about 60% more transmissible than the original strain of the virus."

"In the U.S., more than 1 out of every 5 residents is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The U.S. and several other wealthy nations, including Canada and many European Union member states, are on track to vaccinate most of their populations by mid-2022, according to a report from The Economist… But elsewhere in the world, vaccination rates are much lower. The entire continent of Africa, for example, has administered just 2% of the world's vaccine doses so far. Some poor nations including Haiti have yet to receive a single vaccine dose."

"The Chinook Indian Nation has about 3,000 members who mostly live near the mouth of the Columbia River in southwest Washington. But they're not on the list of federally recognized tribes — so they get nothing from the Indian Health Service." On our uneven system.

"The Biden administration will send $1.7 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and state governments and other research efforts, starting early next month to find and track coronavirus variants lurking in the United States… The U.S. has been flying blind in the race between vaccination efforts and the spread of new coronavirus variants that could potentially spark another deadly nationwide surge and reduce effectiveness of the vaccines. U.S. public health officials have been operating with incomplete information because of an inadequate viral genomics surveillance system."

"In South Africa, the government tried to control the COVID-19 outbreak by banning booze to keep people from gathering. Plus, sober South Africans were less likely to violently protest a complete lockdown… There was an immediate public health benefit that had nothing to do with COVID-19. Suddenly, emergency rooms were empty, devoid of alcohol-related accidents… But the ban also exposed the country's complicated and painful history with alcohol." This is more of an economic story about South Africa's alcohol industry, and a changing societal acceptance of alcohol.

"Activists in Chicago are calling for the resignation of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown following the release of bodycam footage that shows an officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo, CBS Chicago reported… Protesters marched throughout the city Thursday after the city's police oversight agency released footage of the fatal shooting on March 29 in the Little Village neighborhood. They criticized Lightfoot's slow response to release information, including the officer's name, throughout the week."

"A sixth night of protests over Daunte Wright’s killing in Brooklyn Center began Friday as a peaceful demonstration and march — and quickly dispersed after law enforcement descended on several hundred protesters a few hours later."

"Minneapolis is bracing for what comes next as the prosecution and defense in Derek Chauvin's murder trial are set to give closing arguments on Monday. The jury will then be sequestered and deliberate, before announcing a verdict."

"Police in Portland, Oregon, said they used pepper spray and smoke canisters to break up a crowd that gathered on Friday as they investigated the fatal shooting of a suspect by police in Lents Park… A suspect who has only been described as a White male was fatally shot in the morning by an officer responding to a report that a man was pointing a gun in the park, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said in a news release."

"The former employee who shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis was interviewed by FBI agents last year, after his mother called police to say that her son might commit 'suicide by cop,' the bureau said Friday."

"Liberty University is suing former president Jerry Falwell Jr. for millions of dollars, accusing him of withholding damaging personal information from school officials while negotiating a lucrative employment agreement for himself, among other allegations."

"Hackers believed to be directed by the Russian intelligence service, the SVR, used that routine software update to slip malicious code into Orion's software and then used it as a vehicle for a massive cyberattack against America." How the SolarWinds hack happened.

"Russia retaliated Friday over a new round of U.S. sanctions imposed a day ago by the Biden administration over the SolarWinds cyberattack and the Kremlin's election meddling… Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said 10 U.S. diplomats will be expelled from Russia, mirroring the 10 Russian diplomats ordered to leave the U.S. on Thursday. Moscow will also add eight U.S. officials to its sanctions list and will restrict the activities of U.S. nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, operating in Russia." Stay safe my Russian friends. Just remember, in this modern era you might think you're well behind the front lines and safe. There is no such thing now.

"Two Russian warships transited the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea on Saturday and 15 smaller vessels completed a transfer to the sea as Moscow beefs up its naval presence at a time of tense relations with the West and Ukraine."

"Russia’s FSB security service said it had detained a Ukrainian diplomat, accusing him of receiving sensitive information from a Russian national… In recent years Russia has detained a number of Ukrainian nationals on suspicion of spying but the detention of a diplomat is rare and seen as a sign of sharply rising tensions."

"The White House has walked back its announcement that it will keep this year's historically low refugee ceiling of 15,000 set by the Trump administration, saying its earlier statement Friday, which was panned by fellow Democrats, was meant only to ease restrictions from countries from which refugees are currently banned… The White House said President Biden would raise the cap by May 15." Good.

"Hard-right House Republicans on Friday were discussing forming an America First Caucus, which one document described as championing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' and warning that mass immigration was putting the 'unique identity' of the U.S. at risk." Racist is as racist does. So, apparently no Norman political traditions are allowed. I really hate to keep bringing this up, but 1066, people. I wonder if they'll allow Irish or dogs in?

"In at least 30 states nationwide, lawmakers have introduced bills aiming to keep transgender girls and women from participating on girls' and women's sports teams. These type of restrictions have become a major culture war battle, with Republican lawmakers being the loudest proponents of such bills, while Democrats often oppose them… But a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds that Republican voters aren't that enthusiastic about those proposed laws, even while they do have reservations about transgender sports participation." All of this is not about what is right or what is popular, it's about motivating the 30% hard conservative base. It's about the cruelty they crave.

"A federal judge is demanding that a Pennsylvania woman arrested for her alleged role in the Capitol riot, Rachel Powell, explain why a video of her circulating online shows her wearing a porous, mesh mask despite another judge’s order to comply with Covid mask requirements while she awaits trial… U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said Powell’s decision to wear the obviously noncompliant mask 'mocks' the initial requirement decreed by the court’s chief judge, Beryl Howell, soon after Powell’s release in February."

"A heavy metal musician and founding member of the Oath Keepers extremist group pleaded guilty Friday to charges connected to the storming of the U.S. Capitol and agreed to cooperate with investigators — a first in the massive probe into the deadly Jan. 6 assault… Jon Schaffer, a guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Iced Earth, entered his plea during a hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C. The plea agreement, which comes 100 days after a mob of Trump supporters violently overran the Capitol, marks a significant step for prosecutors in the case." As a part of the plea deal he is expected to cooperate with investigators and provide testimony.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday April 16

"A gunman killed eight people and injured several others before killing himself in a late-night shooting at a FedEx facility near the Indianapolis airport, police said."

"Google Earth is already a powerful tool for observing our planet, but today it’s getting a major upgrade with the introduction of a new 3D time-lapse feature… Described by Google Earth director Rebecca Moore as the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017, Timelapse in Google Earth combines more than 24 million satellite photos, two petabytes of data, and 2 million hours of CPU processing time to create a 4.4-terapixel interactive view showing how the Earth has changed from 1984 to 2020." Pop goes the glacier.

"Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will “likely” need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. His comments were made public Thursday but were taped April 1… Bourla said it’s possible people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually." And how much will that cost us?

"The police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun, as the man struggled with police, the city’s police chief said Monday, as police clashed with protesters for the second night in a row." I'm not sure the situation even called for a Taser.

"Simon & Schuster said it only learned about the book to be published by its 'distribution client' Post Hill Press on Thursday. 'We have subsequently decided not be involved in the distribution of this book,' the publishing company said in a statement."

"Shoppers had better start budgeting more for their groceries, according to the latest consumer price index, which shows prices are increasing — and they're likely to keep going up… The monthly consumer price index, released Tuesday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed a 0.6 percent increase in March, the largest one-month increase in nearly a decade. Over the past year, prices have increased by 2.6 percent overall." Same as it ever was.

"Raul Castro is stepping down as the head of the Communist Party of Cuba, the most powerful position on the island, with few expectations of significant change among Cubans."

"When President Biden welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House on Friday, concerns about the competition posed by China will be front and center in the talks."

"Chuck Schumer is hatching plans to further evade the constraints of the filibuster — and in the process, he could be teaching Republicans how to do it in the future." SO you might as well reform the filibuster rules.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday April 15, former tax day

Bernie Madoff, and so it goes. Listed not because I like the guy, but because he is major news.

"But reducing emissions, even sharply, will not immediately fix the problems up in Earth's atmosphere. It took decades for greenhouse gases to accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat, and it will take centuries for those gases to dissipate once humans decide to stop pumping them into the air." And that is the major problem.

"Palaeontologists from Portsmouth University have been puzzled at how gigantic flying azhdarchid pterosaurs have managed to support their thin necks as they take off and fly while carrying heavy prey animals… But thanks to new CT scans of intact remains, discovered in Morocco, the mystery has been solved… The findings, published in iScience, show a complex image of spoke-like structures, arranged in a helix around a central tube inside the neck vertebra, similar to that of a bicycle wheel." I understand the infatuation with biomechanics, but evolution is a poor designer.

"Unlike other sites where NASA has sent rovers and landers - including the landing spot of the new Perseverance rover and its Mars helicopter - powerful gusts of wind have not been sweeping Elysium Planitia. These winds, called 'cleaning events,' are needed to blow the red Martian dust off the solar panels of NASA's robots. Without their help, a thick layer of dust has accumulated on InSight, and it's struggling to absorb sunlight."

"The US coast guard and multiple other boats have rescued six people from a commercial platform vessel that capsized off the coast of Louisiana in a sudden and severe storm on Tuesday night and are still searching for more, the agency said on Wednesday."

What's old is new again… "In 2000, syphilis rates were so low that public health officials believed eradication was on the horizon. But the rates started creeping up in 2001, grew steadily for the next two decades, then spiked 74% since 2015. There were nearly 130,000 cases nationwide in 2019, according to data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

"About 5,800 people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have become infected anyway, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNN… Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396 -- 7% -- of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization." Yes, vaccination is not 100% proof against disease. That's why a majority of people need to be vaccinated.

"Millions of Americans are battling lingering symptoms of COVID-19 — months after being diagnosed with the disease. An estimated 5 to 10% of COVID patients are "long haulers" who feel endlessly trapped in the virus' grip."

"Denmark has ceased giving the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine amid concerns about rare cases of blood clots, the first European country to do so fully… The move is expected to delay the country's vaccination programme by several weeks."

"But now Tennessee, like much of the nation, is finding that rural white residents need a little more coaxing to roll up their sleeves for the shot. This week, the state published results from a statewide survey, and a focus group of unvaccinated residents. More than 45% of white rural conservatives said they were unwilling to even consider taking the vaccine." Get the goddamn vaccine.

"Fowler testified that Floyd had 'so many conflicting potential mechanisms of death' that he considers the manner of death to be undetermined." You know, I'm willing to go with the cop kneeling on his neck pretty much caused his death.

"Signs of an economic boom are emerging as Americans open up their wallets to spend freely… Retail sales soared 9.8% in March, according to a report Thursday from the Commerce Department. The increase follows a 2.7% slump in February, which analysts blamed partly on severe winter weather… Hope about the economy was further reinforced after data showed the number of Americans filing new state unemployment claims last week dropped to 576,000, a decrease of 193,000 from the previous week." I wonder when they'll get to understanding that one of the new problems holding the economy back is the lack of things to buy as there are still many supply shortages and a distinct lack of supply in housing (and the price of wood is sky-high).

"The world is going to need more batteries. A lot more batteries… Every major automaker is preparing to pivot from gas and diesel cars to electric and hybrid ones. Ford F-150s and Kia crossovers, Volkswagen hatchbacks and BMW sedans: They'll all plug in instead of fill up. It's a remarkable transformation that will change the way we drive and shake up world energy markets."

"In his final letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday laid out a broad vision for the future of the company, committing to extend Amazon’s famous obsession over its customers to the same level of care for its employees." Or, in other words, "Got mine, you all need to do better, outta here, bitches." Note, at any time during his rise and tenure at the top of Amazon he could have initiated these "reforms" and "done better" for his employees.

"A court in Houston has authorized an FBI operation to “copy and remove” backdoors from hundreds of Microsoft Exchange email servers in the United States, months after hackers used four previously undiscovered vulnerabilities to attack thousands of networks… The Justice Department announced the operation on Tuesday, which it described as 'successful.'"

"President Biden is ordering a new round of economic sanctions on Russia — a response in part to Moscow's election meddling and a Kremlin-linked computer breach that penetrated numerous U.S. government networks… The sanctions are also meant to impose a penalty over Russia's continued occupation of Crimea, which it infiltrated and annexed from Ukraine seven years ago, and for reportedly offering bounties for attacks against U.S. and coalition military personnel in Afghanistan"

"President Joe Biden, having concluded there is no military solution to the security and political problems plaguing Afghanistan and determined to focus on more pressing national security challenges, will formally announce Wednesday that US troops will withdraw from the country before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, a senior administration official said." And so begins the conservative whinging parade, despite the fact that Trump wanted to pull out by this time.

"Spoiler: Washington won't reach consensus over what 'infrastructure' means. But Gillibrand's tweet gets at a different facet of that conversation: that infrastructure is a gender issue. And that idea is particularly important as the president pitches his plan as a salve for the pandemic-battered economy in which women, particularly women of color, have been left further behind." If you don't think daycare and family care are infrastructure then what exactly was the conservative push to get kids back in school so their parents could go back to work all about?

"The rules on ministers and top officials taking jobs with private firms need urgent reform, the government's adviser on them has said… Lord Pickles said there did not appear to be 'any boundaries at all' between civil servants and the private sector… It comes after news a top civil servant worked for Greensill Capital while still on the government payroll." I would be lying if I said that I didn't choose this article at least in part for "Lord Pickles."

"The Capitol Police ignored critical intelligence ahead of the Jan. 6th riot, including overlooking a warning that, “Congress itself is the target,” according to an internal watchdog report obtained by NBC News… The police force tasked with protecting the U.S. Capitol also lacked policies and procedures that left them severely unprepared to deal with the deadly insurrection, the 104-page report prepared by the Capitol Police’s inspector general found. The report has not been made public."

It's the Daily Beast, so take that for what it's worth… "The report, obtained by The New York Times ahead of a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday, confirms that officers were specifically instructed by their leaders not to use their most effective tactics to hold off the pro-Trump hordes."

"'We could lock down the building,' (Karen Gibson, newly appointed sergeant-at-arms for the U.S. Senate) says. 'We could keep the three-mile fence up with razor wire and National Guard. But that defeats the purpose of having the people's house that is available and open to constituents, to allowing school groups and tourists to come and, you know, frankly, marvel at the beauty and the history of this building.'"

"A geophysicist who allegedly beat police officers who were trying to help injured rioters during the US Capitol siege will be jailed before trial, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, citing the man's ham-handed attempt to flee to Switzerland as proof that he poses a literal flight risk… Judge Emmet Sullivan said Jeffrey Sabol was too dangerous to release due to the flight risk and because he might continue his fight against 'perceived tyranny' once he is out of jail."

"The first thing some of the women were asked to do when they got to the house parties in the gated community in suburban Orlando was to put away their cellphones, according to two women in attendance who spoke to CNN in recent days. The men inside, a who's who of local Republican officials that often included Rep. Matt Gaetz, did not want the night's activities documented… Details of the parties, which have not been previously reported, were described to CNN by two women who attended several of them over the past few years. Both spoke on condition of anonymity… The behavior of Gaetz and the other high-powered men at the events, and a pattern of digital payments that followed, will likely be items of interest to the Justice Department as part of its probe of Gaetz that includes allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution."

"The likely GOP candidates in Pennsylvania’s open Senate race come in three familiar flavors: anti-Trump, Trumpy and Trumpiest… Though President Donald Trump lost Pennsylvania in 2020 and will have been out of office for nearly two years by the time voters cast their ballots in the Senate election, the Republican primary here is already revolving around him — creating a potential dilemma for the GOP in one of the nation’s most important races next year."

"The most popular link on Facebook about the Johnson & Johnson news was shared by a conspiracy theorist and self-described "news analyst & hip-hop artist" named An0maly who thinks the pandemic is a cover for government control… It's a stark example of what experts warn could be a coming deluge of false and misleading information related to the one-shot vaccine." They're always opening new fronts in the information war. The American public is now primed for conspiracy and counterfactual information. Why? Oh, I don't know. ::cough "Former President Trump primed a portion of the country over the past few years to be skeptical of official sources of science information, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Tuesday, he released a statement that included a false conspiracy theory about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, claiming without evidence that the decision was made to benefit rival drug makers." cough::