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

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday July 29

Sorry, mostly NPR stories, I haven't been able to read all the sources I normally do.

Dusty Hill and Ron Popeil, and so it goes.

"So I mean it as high praise when I say that I've never seen an Arthurian sword-and-sorcery epic quite like The Green Knight. With this boldly inventive adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, an anonymously written but enduring 14th-century poem, the writer-director David Lowery has taken a young man's journey of self-discovery and fashioned it into a gorgeous and moving work of art." Please don't suck. The major changes outlined in this article make me a little upset – Gawain is now the son of Morgan le Fey, sorry, that's Mordred, and that Morgan le Fey gives Gawain the green sash instead of the Green Knight's wife, which is a pivotal plot point as Gawain fesses up to where he got it. While I understand there are some differences between the story in a book and on the screen, but these two points are integral to the overall story. It's sort of like how Jackson changed the Ford of Bruinen from Frodo resisting the Nazgul (the Black Riders at the time) to Arwen doing the resisting, which makes sense from the "we have to give Arwen more of a story", but then defeats the original purpose of showing that Frodo just might be able to do this quest.

"Cutting greenhouse gas emissions quickly would save tens of millions of lives worldwide, a new study finds. It's the latest indication that climate change is deadly to humans, and that the benefits of transitioning to a cleaner economy could be profound."

"He'd just assumed that those bins were already open and overflowing — nothing clever about that. But Major later began observing several of the birds actually opening the bins themselves, and now he was intrigued. If this behavior spreads, he thought, 'There'll be cockatoos opening bins all over the place and they'll have this endless supply of rubbish.' A cockatoo smorgasbord."

"The new proposed law would eliminate the birthday rule. That rule dictates how insurance companies pick the primary insurer for a child when both parents have coverage: The parent whose birthday comes first in the calendar year covers the new baby with their plan first. For the Kjelshuses of Olathe, Kan., that meant the insurance held by Mikkel, whose birthday is two weeks before his wife's, was primary, even though his policy was much less generous and based in a different state."

"There's more potentially worrisome news for vaccinated people: In very rare cases, people experiencing breakthrough infections may be at risk for long-COVID symptoms… That's according to a small new study of fully vaccinated health care workers in Israel, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine." You know, like they do with some of the unvaccinated as well.

"The U.S. economy grew at a strong pace in the spring as the country emerged from the darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic. The question now is what happens next, especially as the delta variant continues to spread."

"President Biden on Wednesday will roll out a new proposed rule that would change the way the federal government assesses products made in America… Right now, the federal government has to spend tax dollars on products made in the United States, but purchases qualify for that label with 55% of their materials coming from the U.S. Biden is proposing raising the threshold to 75% by the end of the decade."

"Minneapolis voters will decide this November whether to end their city's police department, replacing it with a new 'Department of Public Safety.'… The city council last week signed off on language for a ballot question to change the city charter to create a new agency."

"Now Texas lawmakers are considering a measure to limit charitable bail funds by restricting who they're allowed to help. That means, in the future, the Bail Project may not be able to help someone in Galvan's shoes. Or someone like Hervis Rogers, the Houston voter accused of voting illegally." Cruelty is the point.

"After a years-long legal battle with the maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, some of the victims' families are deliberating over a $33 million settlement offer from Remington Arms… The offer, presented by the now-bankrupt gun-makers in court documents on Tuesday, comes just a day after a judge denied the company's request to dismiss the lawsuit." Remember, Remington entered bankruptcy specifically to deny a large settlement in this case.

"But the FBI had gotten wind of the murder plot. A confidential informant had infiltrated the group, and his recordings provide a rare, detailed look at the inner workings of a modern klan cell and a domestic terrorism probe… That investigation would unearth another secret: An unknown number of klansmen were working inside the Florida Department of Corrections, with significant power over inmates, Black and white."

"The Justice Department rejected a request by Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks for legal protection in court against a lawsuit linking him to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol… (they say) Brooks was engaged in campaign activity when he participated in the rally. That is not within the scope of his duties as a member of Congress, so he doesn't qualify for legal immunity for his actions, the department said." He can still get a judge to force the DoJ to defend him.

"In the weeks afterward, there was a general sense that the Jan. 6 cases would be of the slam-dunk variety. After all, the events took place not just before our eyes but also at a time when the endless selfies, livestreamed video and GPS locations were easily vacuumed up for use in court later. But attorneys working for the defense describe prosecutors as overwhelmed by the evidence and struggling to build cases." The preponderance of evidence, the cycling of lawyers, change of administration, and changing priorities have slowed down the processing of the cases.

"The panel's first hearing on Tuesday was emotional, as four law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol that day gave firsthand accounts of being overrun, assaulted and harangued by rioters as 'traitors.' All described lingering physical and emotional trauma. Some rioters hurled racial epithets at African American officers."

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday July 27

"Baby salmon are dying by the thousands in one California river, and an entire run of endangered salmon could be wiped out in another. Fishermen who make their living off adult salmon, once they enter the Pacific Ocean, are sounding the alarm as blistering heat waves and extended drought in the U.S. West raise water temperatures and imperil fish from Idaho to California."

"An explosion at an industrial park for chemical companies in Germany killed at least one person Tuesday, with 16 injured and four still missing. Fire officials who tested the air said there did not appear to be a danger to nearby residents after authorities initially urged people to shelter inside."

"Spurred by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, new cases of COVID-19 have risen in the U.S. by 170 percent over the last two weeks. Accompanying that rise, which is expected to continue to worsen heading into the fall, a slew of new vaccine mandates are being enacted across the country."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend Tuesday that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid-19 transmission rates, according to people familiar with the matter." Expect minimal compliance.

Welcome to the Masque of the Red Death… "In a county designated a Covid hot spot, in a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, and in a region where hospitals are nearing capacity as the Delta variant takes hold, Erin, a bartender at Backwater Jack’s, couldn’t be in a more vulnerable position. She interacts closely with hundreds of maskless customers—sometimes on a single day. She knows most of them are probably not vaccinated. And she doesn’t care. She isn’t either."

"'What I would say bluntly is: If you are not vaccinated right now in the United States, you should not go into a bar, you should probably not eat at a restaurant. You are at great risk of becoming infected,' CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said."

"The International Monetary Fund warned Tuesday that there’s a risk inflation will prove to be more than just transitory, pushing central banks to take pre-emptive action… The issue is currently dividing the investment community, which has been busy contemplating whether a recent surge in consumer prices is here to stay." Cue the ominous music here.

"Home prices continue to break records, as strong demand slams up against weak supply… Nationally, home prices were 16.6% higher than in May 2020, the highest reading in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller report’s 30-plus years. In April, it rose 14.8% year over year." Bubble, what bubble?

"A power struggle in Tunisia threatens the fragile democracy that was one of the few bright spots of the 2011 Arab Spring, the movement to oust dictators across the Middle East."

"As the number of migrants stopped at the southern border surges to the highest level in two decades, the Biden administration has drafted a 21-point plan to weigh their asylum claims more quickly and deport those who do not qualify, according to a copy of the plan obtained by NBC News."

"Fann selected Bennett to oversee this operation for the Senate. On Friday, though, he was not even allowed into the building by the audit team. By Monday, he was spilling tea about the many areas of the audit that had been kept secret from him by Logan and Cyber Ninjas, threatening to quit his job, and all but confirming that Logan’s audit had cooked up a fake result. (On Monday, it was reported that assistant audit liaison Randy Pullen was continuing to ban him from the facility.)" Who could have know you couldn't trust a company called Cyber Ninjas?

"Former President Donald Trump's influence with Texas Republicans faces a stern test on Tuesday as voters in the state's 6th Congressional District choose between a pair of GOP candidates in a runoff to fill the late Rep. Ron Wright's seat."

"In what could be a preview of what is to come, House Republicans have planned a number of events on Tuesday designed to distract and undermine the first hearing of the January 6 select committee."

"House GOP leaders teed off on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Tuesday morning, accusing her of neglecting her duty to defend the Capitol on Jan. 6 and demanding answers about her role in the violent attack that injured more than 140 police officers… The accusations served as a prebuttal to the House select committee's investigation into the attack, which was set to kick off shortly after the Republican press conference without any allies of former President Trump on the panel." Wait, no, look over there!

Here we go again… "The redistricting cycle arrives at a moment when American democracy is already in peril. Republican lawmakers in states across the country, some of whom hold office because of gerrymandering, have enacted sweeping measures making it harder to vote. Republicans have blocked federal legislation that would outlaw partisan gerrymandering and strip state lawmakers of their authority to draw districts… Advances in mapmaking technology have also made it easier to produce highly detailed maps very quickly, giving lawmakers a bigger menu of possibilities to choose from when they carve up a state. It makes it easier to tweak lines and to test maps to ensure that their projected results will hold throughout the decade."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Former California Sen. Barbara Boxer was attacked and robbed of her cell phone Monday in Oakland, but anyone who relies on CNN or MSNBC’s primetime lineups for news was left in the dark about the stunning attack."

Monday, July 26, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday July 26

Just a heads up, expect outages in the coming days.

"Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes in Shanghai early Sunday after Typhoon In-fa barreled into China's east coast… Days after unprecedented flooding devastated huge parts of the country's center, forcing more than 1 million people from their homes, around 330,000 residents were evacuated from Shanghai's Fengxian District, the state-run newspaper China Daily reported."

"This week, Burton takes his temporary place on the twinkling azure set ruled for 37 seasons by the beloved Alex Trebek. Or, some would say, his rightful place. No other potential replacement for Trebek, who died of pancreatic cancer in the objectively terrible year of 2020, has excited the popular imagination as much as Burton."

"These fascinating and beautiful creatures are disappearing, ant by ant, bee by bee, day by day. Estimates vary and are imprecise, but it seems likely that insects have declined in abundance by 75% or more since I was five years old. The scientific evidence for this grows stronger every year, as studies are published describing the collapse of monarch butterfly populations in North America, the demise of woodland and grassland insects in Germany, or the seemingly inexorable contraction of the ranges of bumblebees and hoverflies in the UK." Yet, oddly, there are still enough mosquitoes to piss me off.

"More than 200 of the world's leading climate scientists will begin meeting today to finalize a landmark report summarizing how Earth's climate has already changed, and what humans can expect for the rest of the century."

"Although reports of breakthrough COVID-19 cases occurring among fully vaccinated Americans are garnering much attention, as the country experiences a viral resurgence, new data illustrates just how rare these breakthrough infections are likely to be, and further shows that the vast majority of those becoming severely ill are the unvaccinated."

"Of parents with unvaccinated children, 3 in 4 say the recommendation of their child's health care provider will be integral in their decision to vaccinate. However, 70% of parents with children ages 3 to 11 and 50% of parents with children ages 12 to 18 have not discussed the Covid-19 vaccine with their pediatrician, according to a new report."

"As the number of Covid-19 cases surges in the United States, more than 50 health care groups -- including the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association -- issued a joint statement calling for all health care and long-term care employers to mandate employees be vaccinated against Covid-19."

"Alzheimer's researchers sharing findings on COVID-19… Now, researchers at UT Health San Antonio are studying patients like Hernandez, trying to understand why their cognitive problems persist, and whether their brains have been changed in ways that elevate the risk of developing Alzheimer's."

"France's parliament approved a law early Monday requiring special virus passes for all restaurants and domestic travel and mandating vaccinations for all health workers… Both measures have prompted protests and political tensions."

"Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said Sunday he thinks the U.S. is further into the COVID-19 epidemic driven by the Delta variant than Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) models are picking up. He said that could mean 'hopefully we're going to turn a corner' in the next two to three weeks." Is that the same corner we've been waiting to turn for the last 18 months?

"A WPLN News investigation finds the Tennova Lebanon hospital sued more than 1,000 patients including Hope Cantwell over the past two years across multiple counties after striking a deal to be sold. And hundreds of those suits were filed during the pandemic, at a time when many companies have been backing away from taking patients to court over unpaid medical debt. The state of New York even banned the practice."

"A liquor shortage that is affecting the country is being felt here in Northeast Ohio… Eric McIntyre, owner of B2’s Bourbon & BBQ in Richmond Heights, said some liquor brands have been out of stock for so long that customers are trying to bring in their own favorite bottles." Starts flipping tables.

"The increase in murder appears to be a uniquely American phenomenon. While murder rates rose in some developed countries last year, like Canada and Germany, the increases are far below the double-digit spikes America is seeing. That’s especially notable because the United States already had a higher baseline of murders, after controlling for population. Despite claims that Democratic mayors or progressive criminal justice policies are driving the increase, it also appears indifferent to the political party in charge: As Asher and criminal justice expert John Pfaff have shown, murder rates increased in cities run by Democrats and Republicans, progressive and not."

"Tobacco group Philip Morris International has reportedly said it plans to stop selling cigarettes in the U.K. in 10 years’ time… It could bring an end to the cigarette maker’s flagship Marlboro brand and comes two years after the U.K. government said it wanted to end smoking in England by 2030."

"The US has been told to stop 'demonising' China, in their most high-level talks under President Biden… China's Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said relations had reached a 'stalemate' because the US saw China as an 'imagined enemy'."

"Foreign journalists reporting on the aftermath of China’s flooding disaster have faced hostile confrontations in the street and been subjected to 'vicious campaigns', amid increasing nationalistic sensitivity to any negative portrayals of China."

"The Taliban say they don’t want to monopolize power, but they insist there won’t be peace in Afghanistan until there is a new negotiated government in Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani is removed." Because, you know, you can trust the Taliban at their word.

"At least seven people have been killed in a 20-vehicle pileup during a sandstorm in Utah, the highway patrol said."

The pendulum swings again… "That’s what a growing number of lawmakers, investors and even some Fed officials themselves are demanding to know. They are warning that the central bank’s vast purchases of government bonds and mortgage-backed securities are feeding financial bubbles in the housing, stock and even cryptocurrency markets, and stoking higher consumer prices, with little apparent benefit to ordinary Americans."

"Private firms, straddling traditional marketing and the shadow world of geopolitical influence operations, are selling services once conducted principally by intelligence agencies… They sow discord, meddle in elections, seed false narratives and push viral conspiracies, mostly on social media. And they offer clients something precious: deniability." Buying "influencers" to push disinformation. (Grokked from Erick VanNewkirk)

"After Georgia Republicans passed a restrictive voting law in March, Democrats here began doing the math… The state’s new voter I.D. requirement for mail-in ballots could affect the more than 270,000 Georgians lacking identification. The provision cutting the number of ballot drop boxes could affect hundreds of thousands of voters who cast absentee ballots that way in 2020 — and that’s just in the populous Atlanta suburbs alone."

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of the rare vocal critics inside the Republican Party of former President Donald Trump, to serve on the special committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol."

"The push to seek punishment rose to a new level on Sunday, after Pelosi announced that Kinzinger had accepted her invitation to join the committee. Initially, most rank-and-file Republicans were content to let Cheney serve without much of a fight, but Kinzinger's addition has changed the conversation and has put a new level of pressure on McCarthy."

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Linkee-poo Sunday Just 25

Jackie Mason, and do it goes.

"The nation's largest wildfire raged through southern Oregon on Friday, but crews were scaling back some night operations as hard work and weaker winds helped reduce the spread of flames even as wildfires continued to threaten homes in neighboring California."

"Dozens of wildfires currently blazing across the West have been exhibiting extreme fire behavior: demonstrating alarming rotational patterns and wafting smoke across the country while also creating their own weather."

"Officials believe a tornado might have touched down Saturday evening in Armada, one of the areas hit hard by storms that moved through Southeast Michigan."

"Facing an ongoing drought that is squeezing surface water supplies, farmers are extracting groundwater at higher rates to continue growing food as usual… California's farmers probably will pump an additional six to seven million acre-feet of water from their wells this year, above what they normally use… and far exceeds the amount that naturally replenishes the aquifer, even during a year with normal rainfall."

Of interest to the current WIP… "The winding streets of old Istanbul are an overlapping cacophony of seagulls, ship horns and vendors of colorful fresh fruit. Shady fig trees cluster near crumbling Byzantine walls and sweeping Ottoman palaces, remnants of the empires that conquered and lost this strategic point on the Bosporus Strait, which formed the seat of the Eastern Roman Empire… Underneath it all is an ancient world that's almost invisible, unless you know where to look."

"The current COVID-19 surge in the U.S. — fueled by the highly contagious delta variant — will steadily accelerate through the summer and fall, peaking in mid-October, with daily deaths more than triple what they are now." Ta-da!

"Thousands of people took to the streets of Sydney and other Australian cities on Saturday to protest lockdown restrictions amid another surge in cases, and police made several arrests after crowds broke through barriers and threw plastic bottles and plants."

"'Every single day... you're getting ready to intubate the patient in ICU, which means putting them on a ventilator, and they say, "If I get the vaccine now, can I not go on the ventilator?"' the nurse told CNN's Randi Kaye." At the point you're having sever symptoms, the vaccine is not going to help you. In fact, because of the extra load on your immune system, it would probably make things worse.

"Health Secretary Sajid Javid has apologised after saying people should no longer 'cower' from coronavirus… He made the comments in a tweet announcing he had made a 'full recovery' from Covid, a week after testing positive… Labour accused him of denigrating those who followed the rules, while the founder of a victims' group said his comments were "deeply insensitive"." It how these stupid bravado comments help expose the mindset of conservatives who have bought wholesale the false narrative of the alpha male.

"The week began with Florida’s high-flying governor, Ron DeSantis, in Texas, bashing Joe Biden over immigration at the southern border. But with the highly contagious Delta variant pushing new cases of Covid-19 in his home state to their highest level since January, DeSantis’s road trip was looking increasingly deaf in tone and timing."

"That one-two punch — a new wave of cases followed by the looming expiration of enhanced jobless benefits, a ban on evictions and other rescue programs — is sparking concern among lawmakers and economists who say that while widespread business shutdowns are unlikely, renewed fears of the virus alone can slow the economy just as it's getting back on track."

"China said on Friday that it has imposed counter-sanctions on U.S. individuals including former U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross in response to recent U.S. sanctions on Chinese officials in Hong Kong."

"Now, like the Cuc Cac sisters, thousands of rural Guatemalans — as well as Salvadorans and Hondurans in agrarian areas — increasingly are leaving their communities. These days, migration — including the record number of unaccompanied children — is on the rise in rural areas, as an increasing portion of the country’s land and population faces the fallout from climate change… And it’s not just climate change acting alone. It’s food insecurity. Malnutrition. Poverty. It all ties together."

"But today, instead of carrying soybeans and other American products back across the Pacific as usual, many of the containers are going back empty as shippers rush to bring in even more imports."

"States have also enacted the most restrictions in any single year since 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights research organization. This year, many of the laws ban abortion at a certain point in pregnancy, for a specific reason, or altogether."

"In a Facebook post, the sheriff’s office said the unneighborly neighbors yelled at 'Tony' to 'get off our lawn' and 'get the man out of here, have him die somewhere else.' At the time, Tony was trying to assist a man who was having convulsions inside his vehicle, deputies said."

"It's 2021, but the policing of female athletes' bodies is a practice that continues to thrive… The Norwegian women's beach handball team is in a battle with the sport's governing bodies to wear less-revealing uniforms. After the team's repeated complaints about the required bikini bottoms were reportedly ignored, they wore shorts during a recent game… Welsh Paralympian Olivia Breen recently recounted a competition official remarking that her briefs were 'too short and inappropriate.'"

"Dobbs, which the Court will hear this fall, concerns a Mississippi law that prohibits nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It’s the first major abortion case to receive a full briefing and oral argument since Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation gave the Court a 6-3 conservative majority. And abortion opponents have every reason to be optimistic that the Court’s new majority will use Dobbs to undo the right to an abortion."

"A New York City pilot program that dispatches mental health specialists and paramedics instead of police for certain nonviolent emergency calls has resulted in more people accepting assistance and fewer people sent to the hospital, early data shows."

"'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler. No one's paying attention,' Biden shot back."

"The Republican overseeing the controversial GOP-backed election audit in Arizona has reportedly been banned from entering the building where the recount process is ongoing, after he shared some data with experts that showed the results match the officially certified numbers in Maricopa County."

"Just two months later, Cheney’s stature is rising again, this time as the lone Republican on the House select committee charged with investigating that Jan. 6 attack. While her participation has triggered more attacks from Trump and others within her own party, she’s drawing strong reviews from Democrats who praise her work ethic and contributions to the committee thus far."

The Freedom Phone… "The fact the phone is already available to order -- and that there are more buy buttons on the website than phone hardware specs describing the phone's capabilities -- are all red flags. The phone is marketed entirely on its politically conservative branding and seems like nothing more than a savvy entrepreneur looking to make money from conservatives frustrated with Facebook and Twitter banning former President Donald Trump."

Friday, July 23, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday July 23

"The tennis star, who competes for Japan, was the final carrier of the Olympic flame in a ceremony that was a long time coming… When the 2020 Olympic flame at last illuminated an enormous cauldron in Tokyo's Olympic Stadium, it was lit by Naomi Osaka, Japan's 23-year-old tennis superstar." What if we threw an Olympics where nobody could come.

"Cleveland's Major League Baseball team has changed its name to the Guardians, ridding itself of a previous name that many found highly offensive."

"But instead of going on NPR to discuss her memoir, which explores the history of women like herself debilitated by autoimmune diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome, Ramey is talking about the cosmically terrible timing of its release date: March 17, 2020. 'That's also essentially the same week that COVID-19 came out,' she observes. 'For it to come out that week, of all weeks, was really ... challenging.'" I've been hearing stories on the various writing podcasts about authors who had book debuts this last year.

"Boeing's Starliner spacecraft has been mated to its rocket ride ahead of its July 30 launch… The mission, called Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2), will be Boeing's second attempt at launching its new astronaut taxi to the International Space Station. The CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was stacked atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on July 17 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, marking a key milestone ahead of the mission's launch next week."

"For the first time, astronomers have found a disk around a Jupiter-like planet outside of our solar system -- the kind of disk where moons could actively be forming."

"NASA's InSight lander arrived on Mars in 2018 to learn about its interior by monitoring "marsquakes," and now the project is starting to really pay off. NASA has announced that researchers have mapped the red planet's interior and discovered some big surprises and major differences with Earth. "

"Record-breaking rainstorms – which dumped a year’s worth of rain on and around the capital of Henan province, Zhengzhou, earlier this week – have since moved north, affecting outer cities and regional areas, trapping people without electricity or fresh water, including at hospitals."

"Just one week after Google's DeepMind AI group finally described its biology efforts in detail, the company is releasing a paper that explains how it analyzed nearly every protein encoded in the human genome and predicted its likely three-dimensional structure—a structure that can be critical for understanding disease and designing treatments. In the very near future, all of these structures will be released under a Creative Commons license via the European Bioinformatics Institute, which already hosts a major database of protein structures." Note that at the sizes we're discussing here and with the interaction with other proteins and molecules, physical shape is as important as valency.

"Thursday, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that an additional 275,000 low-income individuals in the state are again eligible for publicly-funded health care… Missouri voters successfully pushed through a state constitutional amendment on the ballot last August to adopt Medicaid expansion, but the Republican-dominated legislature refused to implement it, prompting Gov. Mike Parson, also a Republican, to pull the plug on plans to bolster the health care program."

"Thursday morning, Florida is one of about a dozen states seeing COVID-19 cases surge… Local health leaders say the majority of those testing positive for the virus are not vaccinated."

"Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued an impassioned plea for residents of her state to get vaccinated against Covid-19, arguing it was 'time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks' for the disease’s continued spread."

"People who are severely immune-compromised should consider getting a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, several members of a federal advisory committee said Thursday, and should definitely take other precautions like wearing masks and making sure those around them are vaccinated."

"'One of the last things they do before they're intubated is beg me for the vaccine,' she wrote. 'I hold their hand and tell them that I'm sorry, but it's too late'… In her post, Cobia wrote that when a patient dies, she hugs their family members and urges them to get vaccinated. She said they cry and tell her they thought the pandemic was a 'hoax,' or 'political,' or targeting some other age group or skin color." I've seen people online call her cruel and heartless, but once you've developed symptoms, it's too late for the vaccine.

"The lambda variant, first identified in Peru, is also making headlines as it has started to be identified in several states. Houston Methodist Hospital reported its first case of the variant this week. Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina recently announced they had found the variant in a virus sample taken in April."

"New Zealand will pause its quarantine-free travel arrangement with Australia for at least eight weeks starting Friday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, as Australia fights an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant."

"Weekly jobless claims unexpected moved higher last week despite hopes that the U.S. labor market is poised for a strong recovery heading into the fall… Initial filings for unemployment insurance totaled 419,000 for the week ended July 17, well above the 350,000 Dow Jones estimate and more than the upwardly revised 368,000 from the previous period, the Labor Department reported Thursday."

"Come 2034, incoming revenues will be enough to pay about 76% of scheduled Social Security benefits, a 2020 Social Security Administration trustees report predicts." That's just before I reach full retirement. Time to eliminate the cap on what income is taxed for SSI. As to the admonition that younger people shouldn't worry about it, fuck that shit. They're just trying to keep your voices out of the struggle.

"Texas is beginning to arrest migrants on trespassing charges along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's actions that he says are needed to slow the number of border crossings, jailing at least 10 people so far with more on the way, authorities said Thursday."

"For Kimberly, an undocumented 20-year-old in Missouri, last week’s decision by a Texas judge to not allow immigrants to file new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), a program that shielded them against deportation and provided work permits and other benefits, could have immediate impacts."

"Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. is charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud through bribery or kickbacks under the deal, Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel said at a press conference Thursday." I've had governmental dealings with First Energy, this isn't nearly enough.

"Pacific Gas & Electric plans to bury 10,000 miles of its power lines in an effort to prevent its fraying grid from sparking wildfires when electrical equipment collides with millions of trees and other vegetation across drought-stricken California… The daunting project announced Wednesday aims to bury about 10% of PG&E's distribution and transmission lines at a projected cost of $15 billion to as much as $30 billion, based on how much the process currently costs. The utility believes it will find ways to keep the final bill at the lower end of those estimates. Most of the costs will likely be shouldered by PG&E customers, whose electricity rates are already among the highest in the U.S." I'm sure they'll find a way to go over the $30B top estimate. Or, ya know, this is a ploy to go back to the days where they wouldn't be liable for the fires their equipment starts. Because… "After previous leaders allowed its equipment to fall into disrepair in a apparent attempt to boost profits and management bonuses, the utility's grid was blamed for igniting a series of devastating wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that prompted the company to file for bankruptcy in 2019."

"Tax authorities in India raided several offices of one of the world's biggest-selling newspapers on Thursday, a move journalists and leading opposition politicians described as an attack on press freedom… The paper shocked India with its reporting of dead bodies in the river Ganges during the brutal second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic this spring. It criticized authorities for under-reporting Covid-19 deaths and challenged state officials and the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over their handling of the crisis."

"Another hearing was held Wednesday as Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman considers the future of the site and compensation for the survivors and victims’ families… Hanzman said the families will get a minimum of $150 million in compensation initially. That includes insurance on the condo building and the expected proceeds from a sale of the property where the structure once stood."

"Lara, along with six more residents, is a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Maryland this week against their landlord, Arbor Realty Trust Inc., and its subsidiaries. The complaint alleges violations of the Fair Housing Act, including intentional discrimination based on race and national origin. The company's business strategy, the complaint alleges, involves the 'intentional targeting of these low-income communities of color.'"

"The Justice Department is launching an effort in five cities in the U.S. to reduce spiking gun violence by addressing illegal trafficking and prosecuting offenses that help put guns in the hands of criminals."

"Mississippi's attorney general told the Supreme Court on Thursday that Roe v. Wade was 'egregiously wrong' and should be overturned as she urged the justices to allow a controversial law that bars most abortions after 15 weeks to go into effect." The whole thing on the Right-to-Life side has not been to find reasonable accommodation, it has been to roll back the sexual revolution.

"The FBI disclosed that it received more than 4,500 tips on a phone line in 2018 as part of a background investigation into then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and provided 'relevant' ones to former President Donald Trump's White House counsel… The exact number of tips was disclosed in a June 30 letter released by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse on Thursday. The letter was in response to a two-year-old request from Senate Democrats seeking more information about the handling of the investigation."

Just a reminder… "The commanding general of the Washington, DC, National Guard testified (in February) that he did not need authorization from Pentagon leaders before deploying troops in response to protests at the nation's capital last summer but that changed in the days before the January 6 insurrection… The shift in guidance, according to DC National Guard Commanding Maj. Gen. William Walker, was communicated in a January 5 memo that stated he was required to seek approval from the Secretary of the Army and Defense before preparing troops to respond to a civil disturbance."

"A federal judge forced a US Capitol rioter to unlock his laptop Wednesday after prosecutors argued that it likely contained footage of the January 6 insurrection from his helmet-worn camera… The judge granted the Justice Department's request to place Capitol riot defendant Guy Reffitt in front of his laptop so they could use facial recognition to unlock the device. The maneuver happened after the hearing ended and Reffitt's lawyer confirmed to CNN that the laptop was unlocked."

"Fox News host Tucker Carlson called a Black police officer who said he was called the N-word while defending the Capitol on Jan. 6 an 'angry, left-wing political activist' on Wednesday… In April, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn told MSNBC's 'The ReidOut' host Joy Reid that Black officers fought a "different" battle than everybody else as they endured both physical trauma and racist slurs while fending off supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol." Tucker once asked to be shown what a white-supremacist looks like. Just take a look in the mirror, Tucker.

Sometimes the article titles are the best summary of the story, and then there are these kinds of titles… "Pelosi Kicks Kooks Off Coup Committee." This story is mostly about people lining up the chess pieces for future arguments.

"Pelosi's decision to reject the two Republicans -- and McCarthy's response to pull the rest his members -- injected new fuel into the partisan fight over the select committee that's been raging since Democrats created the panel last month to investigate the circumstances surrounding the January 6 attack on the Capitol."

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering naming GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger to join the select committee investigating the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol… During a news conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning, Pelosi said, 'We'll see,' when asked about the potential appointment." He would join Liz Cheney as the only Republicans on the panel.

It's the Daily Beast, so take this as it is… "At the height of the controversy surrounding Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and the revelations that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) bet big on a nationwide joint fundraising tour with her embattled colleague. But new campaign filings show that not only did the gamble not pay off, but that the much-maligned Republicans actually spent four times as much as they raised." But don't feel so bad for them just yet… "In fact, the big winner from the Gaetz and Greene barnstorming appears to be Gaetz’s PR firm… The Logan Circle Group, which the campaign hired in early April, made off with more than a million dollars in the second quarter of 2021." And that's money in pocket, to the debt of the joint campaign. Grifters gonna grift.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday July 22

"China's military has blasted a dam to release floodwaters threatening one of its most heavily populated provinces, as the death toll in widespread flooding rose to at least 25."

"Despite this conflict of interest, Manchin chairs the influential Senate energy and natural resources committee, which has jurisdiction over coal production and distribution, coal research and development, and coal conversion, as well as 'global climate change'."

"US life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since the second world war, public health officials said Wednesday. The decrease for both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was even worse: three years… The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due mainly to the pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline."

"Last month, Michigan's two largest hospital systems, Spectrum Health and Beaumont Health, announced they wanted to become one. The $12.9 billion 'megamerger' would create a health industrial complex spanning 22 hospitals, 305 outpatient facilities, and an insurance company. It would employ 64,000 people, making it the largest employer in Michigan. Local newspapers had expected the merger to 'sail through' government approval. But now they're not so sure."

"Despite the Affordable Care Act's guarantees for free contraception coverage, Force's experience illustrates that even for women whose health plans are subject to the law's requirements, obtaining the right product at no cost can be onerous. New types of contraceptives aren't automatically incorporated into the federal list of required methods that insurers use to guide coverage decisions."

"With the highly contagious Delta variant spreading, particularly among unvaccinated Americans, it may be time for much of the country to put masks back on, experts said." And especially this coming fall. Ta-da!

"The United States could see a wave of Covid-19 vaccine mandates as soon as the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to one or more of the shots, public health experts predicted… The three vaccines authorized by the FDA for emergency use against the coronavirus have proven safe and effective under that expedited review process and in the real world, and doctors and the nation's top public health officials have said there's no need for anyone to wait to get inoculated."

"A popular Massachusetts tourist destination issued a mask advisory Monday after an outbreak of Covid-19 cases following the July 4 holiday weekend."

"Visitors now need a special COVID-19 pass to ride up the Eiffel Tower or visit French museums or movie theaters, the first step in a new campaign against what the government calls a “stratospheric” rise in delta variant infections."

"Pfizer and BioNTech will start to manufacture their Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, they announced jointly on Wednesday, in a move that could significantly increase the availability of doses across the continent next year."

"White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul traded barbs in a heated exchange at a Senate hearing Tuesday over whether the National Institutes of Health funded controversial research Paul claims could have contributed to the Covid-19 pandemic."

"The United States has extended border restrictions on nonessential travel yet again as COVID-19 infections rise in every state… U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada will remain closed through Aug. 21, according to documents to be published in the Federal Register. The previous U.S. border restrictions were set to end Thursday."

"Hundreds of Frito-Lay workers in Topeka, Kan., are in their third week of a strike, citing so-called 'suicide shifts' and poor working conditions at the manufacturing and distribution plant at a time when the company's net revenue growth has exceeded all of its targets."

"Dependence on tipped wages, along with job requirements to appear friendly and pleasant — in other words, 'service with a smile' — jointly create a culture of sexual harassment, according to a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame, Penn State University and the Emlyon Business School in France, who say their study is the first to empirically link tipping to sexual harassment."

How goes Brexit? "The UK has launched an audacious bid to rewrite a key plank of the Brexit deal, saying the Northern Ireland protocol was flawed at conception but served its purpose to get the UK out of the EU as 'one country'… The European Commission immediately ruled out a renegotiation of the deal, which was trumpeted by Boris Johnson as a solution to the Irish border impasse two years ago. The commission is understood to be open to some changes on the special arrangements for Northern Ireland, however."

"Marks & Spencer has warned it is already cutting Christmas products in Northern Ireland due to concerns over forthcoming post-Brexit customs checks… Chairman Archie Norman told Radio Four's Today Programme the changes could mean higher prices and less choice for Northern Ireland customers." The Brexit that stole Xmas.

"Moments after returning from the edge of space, Jeff Bezos thanked the Blue Origin team that made his flight possible. He also thanked the Texas town of Van Horn, which hosted Tuesday's launch. And then he said this… 'I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, 'cause you guys paid for all this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart very much.'… The internet responded with an incredulous gasp." And then he gave about $200M. That sounds like a lot. The Median net worth in the US is $121,760, at the same percentage that's roughly about if a normal family gave away $118.79, or just a little over a 1 day ticket to the Magic Kingdom (without Park-Hopper, for non-Florida residents). Tax the mother fuckers already.

"An Ohio man federal prosecutors say is an 'incel' was charged in federal court this week with attempting a hate crime for his plot to kill women… Tres Genco, 21, was arrested Wednesday and is also facing charges related to illegally possessing a machine gun, according to the Justice Department."

"The U.S. Treasury Department is projected to exhaust its borrowing authority in October or November, the Congressional Budget Office said on Wednesday, as a partisan fight over raising the nation's debt ceiling erupted in Congress." Here we go again.

"Republicans will not vote to increase the federal borrowing limit, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a new interview, setting the stage for a huge battle in Congress as it stares at a deadline to avoid a debt default… Republicans, however, voted to approve increases in the debt ceiling under former President Donald Trump, and McConnell did not mention in the Punchbowl interview that under his own leadership of the Senate last year, members approved an additional $1.4 trillion in spending to fight the coronavirus and fund the federal government."

"The allegations that spy software known as Pegasus may have been used to carry out surveillance on journalists, activists - and even perhaps political leaders - highlights that surveillance is now for sale… The company behind the tool, NSO Group, has denied the allegations and says its customers are carefully assessed."

"A federal judge on Tuesday blocked an Arkansas law banning nearly all abortions in the state while she hears a challenge to its constitutionality."

An extraordinary effort by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to block nominees from being confirmed to vital jobs in the State Department is creating hurdles for the Biden administration and hindering US diplomacy, according to Democrats and Republicans who spoke to CNN."

"Thomas Barrack, a longtime friend of Donald Trump's who chaired the former president's inauguration committee, was arrested Tuesday on federal charges that he acted as an agent of a foreign government… Prosecutors said Barrack, 74, parlayed his close ties to the Trump White House to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates."

"Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the new House select committee to scrutinize the Capitol attack, says he will investigate Donald Trump as part of his inquiry into the events of 6 January – a day he sees as the greatest test to the United States since the civil war."

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Working for a living

Everybody is asking for something this morning, so if I'm able to get a linkee-poo post out, it will probably be late. Sorry. The paying work gets the attention.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday July 20

"Outer space is getting spicier, thanks to a new NASA initiative to add a little more flavor to astronauts' diets… NASA announced last week that astronauts aboard the International Space Station are growing red and green chile peppers for the very first time. Hatch chile pepper seeds arrived at the station in June, thanks to a SpaceX commercial resupply services mission." One of the problems with space travel is that foods taste very bland in the low-pressure, high O2, microgravity climate of space habitations.

"Bezos is the second billionaire this month to reach the edge of space: Richard Branson rocketed there last week aboard a vessel made by his company Virgin Galactic… The date of the New Shepard's maiden launch is no accident: July 20 was the day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon."

"The city of Pasadena announced Monday it will reinstate an indoor mask rule for residents, regardless of vaccination status, and require all city employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus." Apparently Pasadina has it's own health department.

"Health officials say the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to surge and accounts for an estimated 83% of U.S. COVID-19 cases… That’s a dramatic increase from the week of July 3, when the variant accounted for about 50% of genetically sequenced coronavirus cases." Yeah, that's how these things work.

"Researchers are trying to determine just what level of COVID-19 antibodies a vaccine must produce to provide protection against the illness. Regulators already use such benchmarks - known as correlates of protection - to evaluate flu vaccines without requiring large, lengthy clinical trials." What was little stated during the development phase, is that Pharma companies had been lobbying for years to allow mRNA vaccines to be developed. They're both faster to get to market and cheaper to make, but the technology was new. COVID-19 gave them the go ahead. Now they're trying to cut their other costs and development time.

"In fact, Worobey thinks, the most likely scenario, given the current information, is that the coronavirus pandemic began at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, even though the World Health Organization says it's unlikely to have started there. 'The data are very consistent with it starting at the market — very consistent,' Worobey says."

"Boris Johnson denied the NHS would be overwhelmed and said he was not prepared to lock down the country to save people in their 80s, texting his adviser 'get Covid and live longer,' according to new WhatsApp messages released by Dominic Cummings."

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday downplayed the recent spike in coronavirus cases in his state, and criticized public health officials who continue to push unvaccinated Americans to get COVID-19 shots… 'It’s a seasonal virus and this is the seasonal pattern it follows in the Sun Belt states,' DeSantis told reporters at a press conference. He also said that he expects COVID-19 cases to decline next month."

"Low wages are the most common reason people cite for leaving food service work. But in one recent survey, more than half of hospitality workers who've quit said no amount of pay would get them to return… That's because for many, leaving food service had a lot to do also with its high-stress culture: exhausting work, unreliable hours, no benefits and so many rude customers."

"Lobbyists for legalization are pinning their hopes on Amazon using its experienced lobbying team and deep pockets to support their efforts, believing it could help them launch ad campaigns and persuade lawmakers opposed to legalization — especially those who represent states where cannabis is legal — to change their minds. Cannabis lobbyists and advocates who have spoken with Amazon made it clear that the company is already engaging in cannabis discussions in Washington, D.C. Whether Amazon actively lobbies or invests monetarily in legislation is the question on everyone’s minds." Amazon will lobby for Amazon to control the market. If you're waiting on Amazon to flex it's political muscle to help your business, you're going to be waiting a long time.

"When classrooms in California reopen for the fall term, all 6.2 million public school students will have the option to eat school meals for free, regardless of their family's income… The undertaking, made possible by an unexpected budget surplus, will be the largest free student lunch program in the country. School officials, lawmakers, anti-hunger organizations and parents are applauding it as a pioneering way to prevent the stigma of accepting free lunches and feed more hungry children."

"Few have written more convincingly on this topic than Kevin Carey, director of the education policy program at New America. As a journalist and think tanker, he’s argued for years that 'universities see master’s degree programs as largely unregulated cash cows that help shore up their bottom line,' and shown how even schools like Harvard offer effectively predatory programs. The rise of online learning has only supercharged the problem, by allowing universities to parlay their brands nationally and internationally in order to enroll students at an industrial scale."

"Germany's government has hit back at criticism over its warning systems after the worst flooding in decades left at least 160 people dead… The deluge caught many off guard, sweeping away houses and leaving residents trapped in rising waters. More than 170 people are still missing."

"After literal decades of avoiding any and all consequences for a life of corruption that has included everything from inciting an attack on the U.S. Capitol to attempting to extort Ukraine, to allegedly directing his lawyer to violate campaign finance laws, to lying to the public about COVID-19, to allegedly stiffing hundreds of contractors, is Donald Trump actually going to be held accountable for running a company accused of, among other things, conspiracy, grand larceny, and multiple counts of tax fraud and falsifying records? On the one hand, he never has, so why would anyone expect it to happen now? On the other, thanks to the work of Manhattan prosecutors and helpful witnesses, he appears to be closer than ever to a situation in which he spends numerous years in prison!" I'm still giving it a 50/50, and I'm optimistic about it.

"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has chosen his five GOP appointees for the Democrat-led select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack… While the California Republican took his time deciding between naming more experienced members to the probe, filling his seats with firebrands, and refusing to tap any members at all, McCarthy ultimately chose to go with the former route with his selections. His picks have the committee leadership and oversight chops to counter Democrats who are expected to use the select panel to hammer Donald Trump and the GOP for fueling the deadly assault on the Capitol."

"A Florida crane operator who walked onto the Senate floor during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has been sentenced to eight months in federal prison and two years of supervised release… Paul Hodgkins' sentencing is the first in a felony case stemming from the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters. It is viewed as a potential bellwether for how other Capitol defendants charged with similar offenses are likely to be treated."

Monday, July 19, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday July 19

"Rumor had it that these machines were once the Prince’s servants, whom he murdered and transformed into anatomical displays. Scholars showed otherwise."

"At least 189 people are dead and hundreds more remain missing after catastrophic flooding hit large swaths of western Europe, with tens of thousands unable to return to their homes and many still left without access to power and drinking water… The flooding, caused by unprecedented rainfall, has hit parts of western Germany before shifting to neighboring Belgium and the Netherlands."

"But when Curiosity took two samples of ancient mudstone, a sedimentary rock containing clay, from patches of the dried-out lake bed, dated to the same time and place (3.5 billion years ago and just 400m apart), researchers found that one patch contained only half the expected amount of clay minerals. Instead, that patch held a greater quantity of iron oxides, the compounds that give Mars its rusty hue."

"Erratic winds and dry lightning added to the dangers for crews battling the nation’s largest wildfire on Monday in parched Oregon forests, just one of dozens burning across several Western states."

"Los Angeles County continues to see a resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic that has seen local case rates and hospitalizations skyrocket -- with the latest numbers showing another 1,635 cases and four additional deaths… Sunday was the 10th consecutive day that at least 1,000 new cases were reported."

"In the last week, the seven-day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases has jumped 69% to 26,306, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths have risen 26% to 211, and hospitalizations have risen 36% to 2,794."

"As two camps in the Greater Cincinnati area are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, the Ohio Department of Health is updating its guidance… The department says they're now recommending layered prevention tactics at camps that have campers who are not vaccinated… That means wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands and increased cleaning."

"As top health officials warn that COVID-19 has become a 'pandemic of the unvaccinated,' recent figures from states and cities throughout the United States reveal the extent to which the virus is impacting people who are not fully inoculated."

"British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will spend 10 days self-isolating after contact with a confirmed coronavirus case, his office said Sunday — reversing an earlier announcement that he would not have to quarantine after facing an uproar."

"Lifting all coronavirus restrictions is 'reckless', Sir Keir Starmer has said, as most legal limits on social contact are eased in England… He argued that some rules, including mask wearing in certain places, should remain mandatory… The Labour leader also attacked the PM's character saying it 'causes chaos and his leadership causes mayhem'."

"This meta-analysis showed that greater nurse-to-patient ratio was consistently associated with higher degree of burnout among nurses… increased job dissatisfaction… and higher intent to leave…. With respect to needlestick injury, the overall effect size was 1.33 without statistical significance." And you know what most healthcare managers will take from this? "Well, they aren't injuring themselves more, so we're fine." (Grokked from Cassie Alexander)

"Furthermore, nurses working shifts of ten hours or longer were up to two and a half times more likely than nurses working shorter shifts to experience burnout and job dissatisfaction and to intend to leave the job. Extended shifts undermine nurses’ well-being, may result in expensive job turnover, and can negatively affect patient care. Policies regulating work hours for nurses, similar to those set for resident physicians, may be warranted. Nursing leaders should also encourage workplace cultures that respect nurses’ days off and vacation time, promote nurses’ prompt departure at the end of a shift, and allow nurses to refuse to work overtime without retribution." You know what working 10-12 hour shifts are popular? Because that means the nurses supposedly get 3 and 4 days off a week. That is anecdotal, but I can tell you that is what I hear when I talk with them. The problem is, they're not getting those days off, or the days off are not together. (Grokked from Cassie Alexander)

"California began renting hotel rooms throughout the state for the unhoused, but those were always meant to be temporary. Officials had to come up with a plan for what would happen next. The state then launched Homekey, to buy some of those sites and turn them into permanent housing. Marin County bought an 18-room hotel called Casa Buena. That's where 73-year-old Michele Griffin Young has been living for the past four months."

"A gunman who shot at paramedics, firefighters and police at three locations in Tucson, Arizona, Sunday afternoon killed a civilian and left four others injured… In what Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus called "an extremely complex series of incidents," another person was killed in a house fire and two or three children were missing."

"The investigation by the Guardian and 16 other media organisations suggests widespread and continuing abuse of NSO’s hacking spyware, Pegasus, which the company insists is only intended for use against criminals and terrorists… Pegasus is a malware that infects iPhones and Android devices to enable operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones."

"OPEC and allied nations Sunday agreed to eventually raise the production limits imposed on five countries, ending an earlier dispute sparked by the United Arab Emirates that roiled global energy prices."

"The Biden administration on Monday blamed China for a hack of Microsoft Exchange email server software that compromised tens of thousands of computers around the world earlier this year."

"The Biden administration has transferred its first detainee out of Guantánamo Bay, leaving 39 prisoners at the facility on the American base in Cuba… The Department of Defense announced the transfer of Abdul Latif Nasir to his native Morocco in a statement early Monday."

"For years, Mexican fisherman have crossed into U.S. waters to illegally catch high-priced red snapper. It has become a multi-million dollar black market, the Mexican cartel is involved, Texas fishermen are outraged, and the federal government can't seem to stop it."

"The Biden administration will begin evacuating thousands of Afghans who worked for the US government later this month, ahead of an August 31 deadline for the end of US military operations in Afghanistan… Current and former Afghan translators, interpreters, and others who have worked with the US government in Afghanistan are facing deadly danger as the US drawdown continues and the Taliban reclaims territory once controlled by Afghan and coalition forces."

"Denying Republicans a quorum to enact voting restrictions will cost Texas Democrats north of $1 million, according to the state legislator leading the fundraising effort."

"Across a vast swath of the American heartlands, the anti-Biden backlash is being replicated in Republican-controlled statehouses in what Ronald Brownstein has described in the Atlantic as a 'collective cry of defiance'."

"Michigan Republicans want to pass a blitz of legislation that restricts the right to vote in the key battleground state — and they have an audacious plan to get their ideas enacted, even though they have to contend with a Democratic governor who could ordinarily veto their bills… State lawmakers proposed 39 different bills targeting elections, including ones that restrict absentee voting, a bill that could prevent the state from certifying elections, and a pair of bills that would give ordinary poll workers a simply extraordinary amount of power to restrict voting."



"The task force reviewed 2,858 presidential polls and found they were off by 3.9 percentage points nationally and 4.3 percent at the state level. The numbers for President Biden were fairy accurate, about a point higher than his final vote count, but Trump's 'support was understated by a whopping 3.3 points on average,' Politico reports. 'The polls of Senate and governor's races were off by an even greater margin: 6 points on average.'"

"What few people said they saw in Pence, however, was the Republican nominee for president in 2024."

"An NPR analysis of social media data found that over the past year, stories published by the site Shapiro founded, The Daily Wire, received more likes, shares and comments on Facebook than any other news publisher by a wide margin… Even legacy news organizations that have broken major stories or produced groundbreaking investigative work don't come anywhere close." I'm still a little fuzzy on how "engagement" numbers translate into actual dollars except in roundabout ways. However, high engagement numbers do mean that the platforms are not going to mess with them (after all, the platforms do make money directly from engagement numbers, as they can sell both ads and your personal information).

Friday, July 16, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday Jul 16

"The worst flooding in decades to affect Germany and parts of Belgium has killed at least 120 people as search and rescue efforts for hundreds of missing continue, officials said… Late Thursday, authorities said about 1,300 people were still unaccounted for in Germany, but cautioned that disrupted roads and telephone service could account for the high figure."

"In 2021, 14 coastal locations broke or tied records for the number of so-called sunny day floods, when water infiltrated neighborhoods even though there was no storm, according to the annual high tide flooding report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

"Portions of the Amazon rainforest are now releasing more carbon dioxide than they absorb, disrupting an important balancing act that signals a worsening of the climate crisis, according to a new study… Findings from the nearly decade-long research project, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggest that deforestation and fire, among other factors, have dramatically undercut the Amazon's ability to absorb heat-trapping carbon emissions from the atmosphere." We're boned.

"NASA was able to bring Hubble Space Telescope’s backup payload computer online, according to a Twitter post from the telescope’s social media team. The announcement will bring a sigh of relief to space lovers, following a month of anxiety over whether the aging technology could be resuscitated at all after it slipped into a non-operational safety mode in mid-June."

"Forty-seven of Alabama’s 67 counties are now considered to be at “very high risk” for the spread of COVID-19, according to the latest figures from the Alabama Department of Public Health."

"Los Angeles County officials released a new Health Officer Order Thursday requiring masks indoors regardless of vaccination status… The new order will go into effect on Saturday night at 11:59 p.m."

"U.S. retail sales unexpectedly increased in June as demand for goods remained strong even as spending is shifting back to services, bolstering expectations that economic growth accelerated in the second quarter."

"Dutch Queen Maxima teamed up with a small robot Thursday to unveil a steel 3D-printed pedestrian bridge over a canal in the heart of Amsterdam’s red light district."

"Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a new bill into law Thursday barring police from lying to underage kids during interrogations… Commonly used interrogation tactics, such as promising leniency or insinuating that incriminating evidence exists, are banned when questioning suspects younger than 18 under the new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1."

"A Massachusetts school can continue to use electric shock devices to modify behavior by students with intellectual disabilities, a federal court said this month, overturning an attempt by the government to end the controversial practice, which has been described as 'torture' by critics but defended by family members." Duh fuq?

"President Biden says there are several areas of humanitarian aid he would consider for the people of Cuba, which has seen recent protests against the authoritarian regime, if he had assurances that the government would not intercept the assistance… Biden on Thursday cited the ability for people to send remittances back to those in Cuba, and doses of COVID-19 vaccine."

"President Joe Biden's administration is reversing a Trump-era rule approved after the former president complained he wasn’t getting wet enough because of limits on water flow from showerheads."

So, on yesterday's link to a leaked Kremlin document that outlines Russia's involvement (or intent) on getting Trump elected president, there is some controversy over if it's true. But if it is or isn't real, if the leak is or isn't genuine, all roads lead back to wanting to destabilize the West and all of it most likely being a Russian operation. I can't find any article that outlines all the issues (not in reputable press areas, at least), but I wanted to give you all a heads up about it.

"Six months after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, attorneys who promoted former President Donald Trump's false claims about election fraud are being forced to defend their actions in court… But some experts say the abuses over the past four years compel the legal profession to perform some deeper soul-searching."

It's the Daily Beast, so take this with a grain of salt… "A witness in the New York investigation against the Trump Organization has told prosecutors that Donald Trump personally guaranteed he would cover school costs for the family members of two employees in lieu of a raise—directly implicating the former president in an ongoing criminal tax fraud case."

"On Tuesday morning, Roth was among hundreds of Texans who filled a cavernous underground conference room in the state capitol. They had come from all over the state, some driving hours, to meet with lawmakers and urge them to reject the bills. It was a lobbying day planned before the walkout, but took on new energy after it. When an organizer mentioned that Texas Democrats had brought the session to a halt by leaving the state, the room broke out into rapturous applause."

"Sen. Joe Manchin, a key vote in the effort to pass federal voting rights legislation, on Thursday said he and a group of Texas House Democrats, who have fled their state in an effort to block restrictive voting bills, have come to a 'total agreement' on what they want, which is 'basically to protect voting rights.'" Until you see the bill in writing, don't believe anything.

"Two men have been indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple charges in connection with an alleged plot to attack the Democratic Party headquarters building in Sacramento after last year's presidential election… Ian Benjamin Rogers, 45, of Napa, and Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo, face charges that include conspiracy to destroy a building used in interstate commerce with fire or explosives, possession of machine guns and obstruction of justice."

"The House GOP's plan to win back power is becoming increasingly centered on one man: Donald J. Trump… On Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy became the latest in a parade of Republicans to make the pilgrimage to a Trump-owned property seeking the former President's support, while scores of GOP candidates have been invoking Trump's name and image to boost their campaign coffers, which are filling up at record rates." Let that be your graveyard.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Jul 15

"On June 7, 2021, NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew closer to Jupiter’s ice-encrusted moon Ganymede than any spacecraft in more than two decades. Less than a day later, Juno made its 34th flyby of Jupiter. This animation provides a 'starship captain' point of view of each flyby. For both worlds, JunoCam images were orthographically projected onto a digital sphere and used to create the flyby animation. Synthetic frames were added to provide views of approach and departure for both Ganymede and Jupiter." So, still an animation, but that this is more than models on a blue screen with remote cameras is damn amazing.

"The European Union unveiled sweeping new legislation Wednesday to help meet its pledge to cut emissions of the gases that cause global warming by 55% over this decade, including a controversial plan to tax foreign companies for the pollution they cause."

"At least 46 people have died due to severe flooding in western Europe, caused by what experts described as the heaviest rainfall in a century."

"The Hubble Space Telescope is one of NASA's most beloved projects. After over 30 years in service, it's now facing one of its greatest challenges, as a technical glitch has left it in safe mode for over a month. On Wednesday, NASA said it may have tracked down the source of the issue."

"That March night in the emergency room, Jameson Rybak had fallen victim to two huge gaps in the U.S. health care system: a paucity of addiction treatment and high medical costs. The two issues — distinct but often intertwined — can come to a head in the ER, where patients and families desperate for addiction treatment often arrive, only to find the facility's staff may not be equipped to deal with substance use. Or, even if they are, the treatment is prohibitively expensive."

"More than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. last year — a record number that reflects a rise of nearly 30% from 2019, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials said the increase was driven by the lethal prevalence of fentanyl as well as pandemic-related stressors and problems in accessing care."

"The condition — officially called "cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome" but now known to health care workers as 'scromiting,' a mashup of 'screaming' and 'vomiting' — has popped up with increasing frequency at hospitals in Colorado, doctors say… The condition was first reported in scientific literature in 2004. The available research since then indicates that it stems from chronic use of especially powerful marijuana." Here's a little know secret in healthcare, everybody reacts differently to medications. Some people, while they might not have Crohns, are sensitive to gluten. Some people do not react to morphine (and it's not just the heavy users, but normal people). This is not "there's something wrong with marijuana" (although, yes, this is not your grandfather's marijuana) this is "these people should not use it" in the same way some people shouldn't use vicodin, or many other drugs (and foods).

In a medical first, researchers harnessed the brain waves of a paralyzed man unable to speak – and turned what he intended to say into sentences on a computer screen… It will take years of additional research but the study, reported Wednesday, marks an important step toward one day restoring more natural communication for people who can’t talk because of injury or illness." Right now these experiments are replicating known pathways and attempting to replace existing functions. They are also quite crude and basic, and there is a problem with scarring that eventually renders these devices useless. The brain is very plastic. And while there are limitations, I'm waiting for the day when these scientist realize that we can rewire the brain to create new interfaces and functions.

"The surgeon general is warning Americans about the 'urgent threat of health misinformation' amid the government's current push to boost stalling vaccination rates."

"British doctors have urged authorities to make flu testing available amid concerns that an influenza epidemic may be about to collide with a third wave of Covid-19." Here we are again.

"Russia is battling a deadly third wave of coronavirus infections. For days, the country has reported record numbers of daily deaths, and hospitalizations are skyrocketing thanks in part to the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant." Stay safe, my Russian friends.

"Critical race theory is an academic approach that looks at how race and racism has shaped U.S. institutions — and the discourse around it has been hard to miss. Some families, mostly white, accuse K-12 schools of teaching children to be ashamed of their race and their country. Many educators and school leaders insist they're simply teaching U.S. history, and that they are victims in a culture war drummed up by conservative activists."

"Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to a new pandemic-era low last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday… First-time filings for benefits totaled 360,000, in line with Dow Jones estimates and the best number since March 14, 2020."

"On average, a renter in search of a modest two-bedroom home, who is seeking to stay within the 30% income window, needs to earn $24.90 per hour, the study says. (That figure is more than 3.4 times the federal minimum wage.) Those in search of a one-bedroom are in a similar position; they need to make $20.40 per hour."

"A Delta Air Lines pilot is suing the company for $1 billion, saying it stole the idea for an app he'd developed and pitched to it, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday." I wonder if Delta's contracts cover IP created while an employee?

"Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel for the first time is offering some self-criticism while saying that government shortcomings in handling shortages and other problems played a role in this week's protests."

"There is distrust of the US as a reliable long-term partner, after an only partly successful war in Afghanistan and years of widely fluctuating US engagement regionally and globally, say former American diplomats. Russia also says a permanent US military base in its Central Asia sphere of influence would be 'unacceptable'."

"ICE became the public face of the Trump administration's hardline immigration policies. Now the Biden administration wants to overhaul the agency, and is turning to Gonzalez to lead the effort."

"At 51 years old, having made it through a long and tumultuous period of substance use, Hunter Biden has poured himself into painting. A New York gallery is preparing to show and sell his work, prompting the White House to announce an arrangement aimed at insulating President Biden and his son from ethical pitfalls… But the arrangement is not convincing experts in the art world or government ethics." I can't wait for ArtGate to start trending. And then there's all the discussion that basically comes down to someone's taste in art.

"Apt Cape Cod closed its doors through its normal breakfast and lunch hours for one day last week, with owners Brandi Felt Castellano and Regina Felt Castellano saying they wanted to treat their employees to a 'day of kindness.'"

"Justice Stephen Breyer has not decided when he will retire and is especially gratified with his new role as the senior liberal on the bench, he told CNN in an exclusive interview -- his first public comments amid the incessant speculation of a Supreme Court vacancy."

"Manchin, who hails from coal-producing West Virginia, told CNN that he's "very, very disturbed" by provisions he believes would eliminate fossil fuels -- a warning sign for Democrats who need all 50 members of their caucus to sign off on the plan in order to get it through the Senate. But the climate provisions are key to getting support from liberals, particularly in the House." It's one thing to be concerned about constituents' businesses, it's another thing to be completely ignorant.

"The self-appointed 'Grim Reaper' of the Senate, a minority leader who said just two months ago that '100% of my focus is on standing up to this administration,' has been remarkably circumspect about the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure deal. He’s privately telling his members to separate that effort from Democrats’ party-line $3.5 trillion spending plan and publicly observed there’s a 'decent' chance for its success." Oh, we're doing this dance again.

"Privately, former administration officials and top campaign aides are particularly concerned about the upcoming tell-all from former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Politico reports. Conway is reportedly 'expected to give a hold-no-punches account of her time in the White House and those she worked alongside,' per Politico."

"In the end, Trump did not seek to turn the military on the American people or stage the most alarming showdown in living memory between a modern commander-in-chief and top military brass. But that seasoned military officers thought it was a real possibility and hatched a plan for rolling resignations to thwart Trump's autocratic impulses underscores the… impression repeatedly left by Trump himself that he was unfit to ever be President." And this cohort of protectors and enablers aren't much better.

"Former President Donald Trump will meet with Rep. Kevin McCarthy on Thursday as the House minority leader weighs whether to appoint Republicans to the select congressional committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol." Hey Kevin, grow a pair.

You might remember me saying that Putin would burn Trump at the moment he felt it would cause the most damage to our political system. "Vladimir Putin personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a 'mentally unstable' Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council, according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents." Apparently the calculous says now is the time. Wind up the spin machines. Hang on, everybody, it's about to get bumpy. Also, as I've stated before, just electing Trump wasn't the goal, it was a milestone along the way. "Various measures are cited that the Kremlin might adopt in response to what it sees as hostile acts from Washington. The paper lays out several American weaknesses. These include a 'deepening political gulf between left and right', the US’s 'media-information' space, and an anti-establishment mood under President Barack Obama." An alternate reading of this (if you wish to believe Trump was not Russian operation) is the disinformation campaign to destabilize the West opens up a new front.