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

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Aug 31

"After nearly 20 years, the last U.S. troops have left Afghanistan, concluding the United States’ longest war and the largest non-combatant evacuation mission in U.S. military history." See you in ten years.

"Taliban leaders declared victory over the United States from the tarmac of Kabul airport on Tuesday, hours after the withdrawal of the last American troops left Afghanistan in the grip of the militant group."

"That number added to more than 130 others over the past 10 days who had been smuggled into the airport encircled by Taliban fighters since the capital fell to the extremists on Aug. 16 by Task Force Pineapple, an ad hoc groups of current and former U.S. special operators, aid workers, intelligence officers and others with experience in Afghanistan who banded together to save as many Afghan allies as they could."

"A team of Arctic researchers from Denmark say they accidentally discovered what they believe is the world's northernmost island located off Greenland's coast."

"A ferocious wildfire swept toward Lake Tahoe on Tuesday just hours after roads were clogged with fleeing cars when the entire California resort city of South Lake Tahoe was ordered to evacuate and communities just across the state line in Nevada were warned to get ready to leave."

"Hurricane Ida's fierce Category 4 winds and torrential rain left the Louisiana coastline badly beaten… Images of the effected areas days after the storm show crushed homes, debris scattered across streets, and flooded neighborhoods."

"The extra heat acted as fuel for the storm. Heat is energy, and hurricanes with more energy have faster wind speeds and larger storm surges. As the Earth heats up, rapidly intensifying major hurricanes such as Ida are more likely to occur, scientists say."

"A new analysis of data from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and BirdLife International found that 30% of 557 raptor species worldwide are considered near threatened, vulnerable or endangered or critically endangered. Eighteen species are critically endangered, including the Philippine eagle, the hooded vulture and the Annobon scops owl, the researchers found."

"The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines against hospitalization appears to drop over time among adults over 75, although it still remained above 80% at the end of July, according to an analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… The new data was presented Monday to the CDC's independent panel of vaccine experts, who met to discuss federal plans for a potential booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine next month."

"All around the world, there seem to be signs that immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, doesn't last very long after you're vaccinated." Oh look, finally a news story that actually asks experts what waning antibody counts really means.

"The variant they are watching, called C.1.2, has popped up across South Africa as well as in seven other countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the researchers report. They're not sure whether its constellation of mutations will make it more dangerous, but it carries changes that have given other variants increased transmissibility and the ability to evade the immune system's response to some degree." Just because it's mutated doesn't mean it's worse. Although that it appears to be successfully competing with Delta is a concern.

"With delta surging, many hospitals around the country are again under strain. The federal government regularly releases detailed hospital-level data which show how many inpatient and ICU beds are in use on a weekly basis — and what portion of them are occupied by COVID-19 patients."

"The Florida Department of Education made good on a threat to withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates… Just days after a state judge ruled that the governor's ban was unconstitutional, Florida's education commissioner on Monday announced the state was withholding funds from Alachua and Broward counties 'for their continued violation of state law.'" So much for the conservative mantra, "local control."

"At the center of the department's concerns, according to Monday's letters, are students with disabilities who may be at heightened risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Goldberg's letters say these investigations will focus on whether the state bans are discriminatory by preventing students with disabilities from safely returning to in-person education."

"An HIV vaccine using the same basic technology as Johnson & Johnson’s Covid shot failed to prevent infection, the company said Tuesday, dealing yet another blow to efforts to create a vaccine against the virus."

"Leaded gasoline's century-long reign of destruction is over… The final holdout, Algeria, used up the last of its stockpile of leaded gasoline in July. That's according to the U.N. Environment Programme, which has spent 19 years trying to eliminate leaded gasoline around the globe." Well that only took entirely too long.

"Euro zone inflation surged to a 10-year-high in August with further rises likely, challenging the European Central Bank’s benign view on price growth and its commitment to look past what it deems a temporary increase."

"A supply chain crunch that was meant to be temporary now looks like it will last well into next year as the surging delta variant upends factory production in Asia and disrupts shipping, posing more shocks to the world economy."

And yet… "China’s factory activity decelerated in August as export demand weakened, a survey showed Tuesday."

"Walgreens will hike starting pay to $15 an hour beginning in October, as employers across the United States continue boosting wages to attract workers."

"Automobile quality rose last year, but glitches in pairing smartphones with infotainment systems frustrated owners more than anything, according to a large U.S. survey of auto owners."A Fuck. Yes.

"A gang of armed robbers in Brazil carried out a series of deadly bank heists using human shields strapped to their getaway cars on Monday… The attackers targeted banks in the small city of Aracatuba in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo early Monday."

More guns make us safer… not. "Accidental gunshot deaths by children handling a gun jumped 31% during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to a year earlier, new data shows… There were 98 deaths that resulted from unintentional shootings by children from March through December 2019 compared to 128 over that same period in 2020, research by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety shows." As my friend Jim Wright says, there are no accidents. Do not store you firearms where they can be accessed without your permission, do not store firearms loaded, do not store firearms and ammunition together, use trigger locks.

"The Democratic-led House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has issued orders to 35 social media and communications companies to preserve records, as the panel continues to expand its probe into the deadly riot."

Monday, August 30, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Aug 30

Ed Asner, and so it goes.

"We're focused today on Ida, which has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, but still poses a significant threat as it moves inland."

"This has been the worst salmon fishing season on record for the Yukon River. King salmon, a regional favorite, have returned in low numbers for years, but now a typically stable species, chum salmon, has also collapsed. Subsistence fishing on the lower Yukon River for both species is closed, and residents who usually depend heavily on the fish are pivoting towards other ways to get meat."

"The Asante system encompasses three hospitals in the Rogue Valley — in the cities of Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass. All three ICU's are 100% full of COVID-19 patients, according to staff."

"A Butler County judge ruled in favor of a woman last week who sought to force a hospital to administer Ivermectin — an animal dewormer that federal regulators have warned against using in COVID-19 patients — to her husband after several weeks in the ICU with the disease." Sweet Jesus. (Grokked from Jeff VanderMeer)

"Federal researchers will not objectively study ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19, the Kentucky senator Rand Paul claimed, because 'hatred for Donald Trump' has tainted their view of those who say the drug used to deworm horses can aid the fight against the pandemic." The willing ignorance.

"The European Union plans to recommend that its 27 nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the U.S. because of rising coronavirus infection levels there, EU diplomats said Monday."

"Clubhouse began rolling out a iOS app update on Sunday that enables spatial audio support. The Android update is 'coming soon,' according to the company. The feature works by introducing subtle spatial cues that position speakers on Clubhouse calls into three-dimensional space around your head, making the remote listening experience a better approximation of being in a room full of people. It works best with headphones, either Bluetooth or wired." Ah, what we've all been waiting for… not.

"Bonds yields moved mildly lower on Monday as investors look ahead to Friday’s all-important jobs report… The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note ticked slightly downward to 1.299% in early trading, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was slipped to 1.909%. Yields move inversely to prices." Which means more money is moving into bonds.

"States that withdrew early from federal unemployment programs pushed few people back to work and fueled a nearly $2 billion cut in household spending, potentially hurting their local economies, according to new research… Twenty-six state governors — all Republican, except one — opted out of the pandemic-era programs several weeks before their official expiration on Labor Day. Enhanced benefits were keeping the unemployed from looking for jobs and fueling a labor shortage, they claimed." You mean cutting people off didn't drive them back into the labor market? Shocked, shocked I am…

"North Korea appears to have restarted its Yongbyon reactor, which produces plutonium and was likely shut down in December 2018, The Wall Street Journal reports."

"But at a family home in Kabul on Monday, survivors and neighbors said the strike had killed 10 people, including seven children, an aid worker for an American charity organization and a contractor with the U.S. military." About that drone strike against the "imminent attack on Kabul airport."

"As rockets apparently aimed at Kabul's airport rained down on a nearby neighborhood, U.S. forces scrambled to evacuate thousands of Afghan trying to flee ahead of a Tuesday deadline for the withdraw of all American troops."

"As white-gloved officers carried the flag-draped case of their fellow Marine from the C-17 military plane, the quiet of their gentle footsteps was broken by the soft cries of a loved one's anguish." Pointed to not because of the main message, but because there is a determined information campaign to say Biden was not there.

"Former Trump adviser Stephen Miller on Sunday called President Joe Biden 'clinically insane' for allowing Afghan refugees to live in the United States… Miller yelled at the current commander-in-chief throughout a Fox News interview after host Maria Bartiromo asked him about 'refugees' that are being brought to the United States from Afghanistan." Himler throws a spat.

"Republicans raised the debt ceiling with minimal drama under Donald Trump. Now Democrats are prepared to make them publicly refuse to do the same for Joe Biden… Senate Republicans are digging in deeper and deeper in their resistance to raising the nation's borrowing limit, with 46 of them vowing to oppose an increase this fall that will need at least 10 Republican votes. Yet Democrats still plan to burn their most expedient ticket out of the debt mess, with no intention to shift course and pass an increase along party lines." Hello government shutdown. Again.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "'Democrats have embarked on a massive and unprecedented deficit spending spree. Without a single Republican vote, they passed a $1.9 trillion ‘Covid relief’ bill in March,' the letter, which garnered the support of 103 House Republicans, says. 'Now they have passed a $3.5 trillion Budget Resolution, again without a single Republican vote.'" The glorious revolution still goose-steps along.

"Thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C., and other cities across the country on Saturday to protest a recent slew of legislation that critics say suppresses voter rights, particularly for voters of color and young voters, in many Republican-led states."

"It’s a common refrain from some of those charged in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and their Republican allies: The Justice Department is treating them harshly because of their political views while those arrested during last year’s protests over racial injustice were given leniency." The data says "nope".

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Linkee-poo Sunday Aug 29

Lee "Scratch" Perry and Don Everly, and so it goes.

"Ida has made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, as an extremely dangerous, Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center."

"But for all the good vibes and stellar sunsets, beneath the surface hides a potential threat: 3.6m lb of nuclear waste from a group of nuclear reactors shut down nearly a decade ago. Decades of political gridlock have left it indefinitely stranded, susceptible to threats including corrosion, earthquakes and sea level rise." Remember the whole "nuclear power doesn't pollute" thing?

"But the oil companies would like you to think that’s how it works. It turns out that the concept of the 'carbon footprint', that popular measure of personal impact, was the brainchild of an advertising firm working for BP." You mean they knew nicotine was addictive? Oops, sorry, that was that other industry's social engineering.

"No one disputes that the visual cortex enables sight, that the auditory cortex enables hearing, or that the hippocampus is essential for memory. Damage to those regions impairs those abilities, and researchers have identified mechanisms underlying them in those areas. But memory, for example, also requires brain networks other than the hippocampus, and the hippocampus is turning out to be key to a growing number of cognitive processes other than memory. Sometimes the degree of overlap is so great that the labels start to lose their meaning."

"The United States spends twice as much on medical care per person than other wealthy countries. In the U.S., it costs an average of about $12,600 a year for every man, woman and child… That has led to a health care system that’s rich in resources, but with health outcomes that are remarkably poor. We’re a lot sicker. We die younger, and we’re more likely to have chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease."

"Cases are continuing to rise but at a slower pace. That may not be much comfort with the national rate still around 150,000 a day, but it is giving rise to hope that business and consumer activity can keep the economy on track toward pre-pandemic levels." Yeah, sure, Bob.

"An unvaccinated elementary school teacher in California infected half their class with COVID-19 after reading aloud without a mask, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… The CDC reports that an unvaccinated elementary school teacher in Marin County, California, went to work for two days with COVID-19 symptoms before getting tested for the virus, a test that came back positive May 23."

"WNDB radio announced on Saturday night that anti-vax radio host Marc Bernier had passed away… After Bernier was hospitalized three weeks ago, WNDB-AM/FM operations director Mark McKinney said he didn't know for sure if the host was unvaccinated." Pointed to because of the schadenfreude (no, conservatives don't care, and those people he influenced will not get the vaccine now, no matter how much this story gets played out) and because he was in the hospital with COVID-19 for 3 weeks. We still believe a patient is "recovered" just 10 days after their positive test.

"But Pfizer was more than a month behind that schedule. It wouldn't finish delivering the doses projected to be due in its contract on Nov. 27 until mid-January, according to an NPR analysis of allocation data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and interviews with several people familiar with the matter."

"While financial markets have been fretting over the possibility that the Fed will start to pull back on its easy money policies before year-end, investors might want to start paying attention to the possibility that a politically intractable debate over the debt ceiling is coming and it could derail any plans that Jay Powell might have to slow asset purchases and raise interest rates."

"When the pandemic struck last year, retail spiraled into upheaval. Since then, it has become a world of seemingly contradictory trends. The industry is hitting many milestones: record numbers of workers quitting and getting hired, wages and prices on the rise. And despite the pandemic devastation, brand-new stores are still opening as shoppers spend more than ever."

"Researchers who discovered a massive flaw in the main databases stored in Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) Azure cloud platform on Saturday urged all users to change their digital access keys, not just the 3,300 it notified this week… As first reported by Reuters, researchers at a cloud security company called Wiz discovered this month they could have gained access to the primary digital keys for most users of the Cosmos DB database system, allowing them to steal, change or delete millions of records." The Cloud is just someone else's hard drive.

"From the outset, the filmmakers found that very few people were willing to speak with them about (Bob) Ross, for fear of litigation by the owners of his estate. McCarthy says Rofé and Berger told her they had rarely encountered such hesitancy and refusal."

"Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder and former CEO of Theranos whose criminal trial is set to begin in a matter of days, is likely to defend herself by claiming she was the victim of a decade-long abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend, also a former Theranos executive, court documents reveal." Not sure that exonerates her behavior.

"Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said he sees three alternatives for his future: prison, death or victory in next year's presidential election… The right-wing populist leader is trailing left-wing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the polls." As Meatloaf taught us, two out of three ain't bad.

"The U.S. has carried out a second strike against suspected members of ISIS-K in Afghanistan, following the Thursday attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul that killed more than 200 people, including 13 U.S. service members."

How's that reformed Taliban working out? "The Taliban killed a popular Afghan folk singer just days after the group said it hoped to ban music from being played in public in Afghanistan, according to a former minister."

"The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the Biden administration's order extending the federal eviction moratorium to a large swath of the country, in a decision expected by both legal scholars and the White House… The ban on evictions, a two-month order, was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pause covers parts of the United States that are experiencing what the CDC calls 'substantial' and 'high' spread of the coronavirus."

"A Michigan man charged in federal court with plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was sentenced to six years and three months in prison, according to court records… Ty Garbin, 25, is the only member of the six men facing federal charges in the kidnapping plot to plead guilty for his role. He also received three years of supervised release following his prison sentence."

"The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol demanded records on Wednesday related to at least 30 members of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle… The demand is part of a sweeping formal records request that encompasses archived communications from the Trump White House as well as seven other Executive Branch agencies." Note that the Biden Administration will fight this, maybe not so hard, but they will object on separation of powers.

"While still pleading ignorance over what transpired when he spoke with Donald Trump on Jan. 6th as the U.S. Capitol was under siege, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) confessed to a Politico reporter that he probably had multiple talks with the president that day instead of just one." Is Jim Jordan okay? I mean, he seems not to remember much. Does his wife have to check to see if his zipper is up before he leaves the house?

"It came after Hewitt asked Trump to describe his conversation with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban co-founder and deputy leader, during his 2020 negotiations with the group to remove American troops from Afghanistan."

"Within a few years of its passage, the Voting Rights Act had paved the way for thousands of Black and brown voters to go to the ballot box. Bipartisan majorities in Congress reauthorized the act five times, most recently in 2006, when then-President George W. Bush lauded the law and pledged to defend it in court… The landmark law has gotten a different reception at the highest court in the land in the last few years. In two decisions, spanning eight years, a conservative majority of Supreme Court justices upended the law's core enforcement powers."

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Aug 26

Sorry, exceptionally busy at the moment.

"For the first time on record, precipitation on Saturday (Aug 14) at the summit of Greenland — roughly two miles above sea level — fell as rain and not snow." Theyre re-evaluating operations because they never expected it to rain, so their station wasn't prepared or built for it. We're boned. (Grokked from Steve)

About that Mount Shasta tweet… "The warning coordination meteorologist said there has in fact been other periods when Shasta had little to no snow, including in 2014 at the height of California's drought that year. Sandler said he also has seen a photo showing almost no snow on the mountain in October 1992."

"Williamson County health officials are recommending Leander Independent School District close for 10 days to slow the spread of COVID-19 — after over 400 cases were confirmed among students and staff… But Leander ISD said Tuesday it will keep schools open, instead focusing on specific classrooms impacted by clusters of positive cases." Yeah, that'll work. Who could have seen this coming? (ignores shouts and eye rolling) Obviously nobody could have seen these coming."'We want our kid back at school. We just want it to be as safe as possible,' Diane said. 'We are stuck in a conundrum that we don’t understand. We feel like the kids’ safety is not being looked at.'" I dunno, could listen to infectious disease experts? Ha ha ha. Only kidding. Let's listen to Diesel Chad over there, he's done all the "research" on The Facebook.

"Two weeks after the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, reported Covid infections in the state have risen nearly sixfold… South Dakota counted 3,819 new cases in the past two weeks, including seven deaths, up from 644 cases in the 14 days preceding it. That makes it the state with the largest percent increase in Covid cases in the past two weeks." Shocked, shocked I am… Didn't we do this last year?

"The website OnlyFans is reversing a planned ban on pornography and other sexually explicit content and will continue allowing it on the platform… The London-based company said just days ago that it would block sexually explicit material starting in October in response to concerns from banks and other financial services companies that enable transactions on the subscription service. It did not name the companies." And the interwebs breath a sigh of relief.

"Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that as many as 1,500 Americans may be awaiting evacuation from Afghanistan, a figure that suggests the U.S. may accomplish its highest priority for the Kabul airlift — rescuing U.S. citizens — ahead of President Joe Biden’s Tuesday deadline despite growing concerns of terror threats targeting the airport."

"The team of 'Kraken' attorneys who sought to overturn the 2020 election “scorned their oath, flouted the rules, and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way,” according to a Wednesday opinion from a Detroit federal judge… U.S. District Judge Linda Parker for the Eastern District of Michigan referred the team of lawyers — who sought to overturn the election in courts through a series bogus claims — for suspension or disbarment while granting requests for sanctions."

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday Aug 25

Charlie Watts, and so it goes.

"Last year's influenza season turned out to be the mildest on record, but health experts have renewed warnings that a ‘twindemic’ – in which flu and COVID-19 cases simultaneously rise and overwhelm hospitals – may be possible this year, and they urge Americans to get their flu shot." Here we go again.

"Booster doses of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine generated a big spike in antibodies, the frontline immune system defenses against infection, the company reported Wednesday… People who received a booster six to eight months after their initial J&J shots saw antibodies increase nine-fold higher than 28 days after the first shot, Johnson & Johnson said." Rolls eyes, again, antibodies will decrease, what matters is your t and b cell response. Having antibodies in the blood gives you a jump start to fighting off the infection, but if you don't have an active infection your body will conserve resources and repurpose proteins. This is not saying I won't get the booster shot when available, I will. I'm just saying that reporters are focusing on the wrong thing again (because it makes them appear smart) and it's misleading.

"A Los Angeles City Fire Department captain who railed against the city, the department and his own union leaders over an imminent vaccine mandate for all city workers is under an internal investigation… Granucci, who says he's a 31-year veteran, gnashed his teeth as he called the COVID-19 vaccine mandate 'total tyranny' and insisted that he is 'done being silent on this matter, and so are many of our members.'" Get the shot, Bunny. It's for your own damn good. And it is lawful for your employer to mandate it.

"A turf war between Republican governors and the White House over masking in schools is testing the limits of local control… Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is offering vouchers and federal money to schools and parents that reject face coverings. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is threatening the salaries of school officials who mandate masks. And Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is fighting both mask and vaccine mandates in court… Now President Joe Biden has stepped into the fray."

"Tough-talking Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has confirmed rumblings that he will run next year for vice president, in what critics say is an attempt at an end-run around constitutional term limits."

"The upcoming election in Germany has now become even more unpredictable… Voters are heading to the ballot box on Sept. 26 and the latest poll, carried out by Forsa, shows support for the Social Democratic Party, SPD, increased to 23% of the vote. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance of the CDU/CSU, meanwhile, dipped to 22%. It is the first time in 15 years that the SPD has overtaken the CDU/CSU alliance in the polls."

"Since 2008, more than 4,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflicts, according to the U.N. While many were fighters for Hamas or other militant groups, more than half were civilians. Thousands have been injured. On the Israeli side, the death toll from the four wars stands at 106, officials say."

"Reggie, an Afghan interpreter who worked with the U.S. military, watched in fear from his roof as the Taliban took over Kabul last week. He knew that he and his family were in danger of being killed by the Taliban in retaliation for his work helping the U.S."

Meet the new boss… "Fear is mounting for women and girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban told working women to stay at home, admitting they were not safe in the hands of the militant group's soldiers… Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said at a news conference on Tuesday that women should not go to work for their own safety, undermining the group's efforts to convince international observers that the group would be more tolerant towards women than when they were last in power." Same as the old boss.

"Vice President Kamala Harris' departure for Vietnam was delayed by several hours Tuesday afternoon after her office was informed by the US embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, of a 'report of a recent possible anomalous health incident.'… That term is the way that the government usually refers to the mysterious Havana syndrome that has sickened hundreds of US officials over the past few years."

"Fifteen minutes after that, a (California Highway Patrol) sergeant told a listserv of commanders that 'possible ANTIFA buses [are] heading to Redding', adding that the agency’s tactical alert center had been notified. The official said that CHP aircraft operations were now actively trying to locate a vehicle on the freeway. The sheriff of nearby Humboldt county, William Honsal, shared the information with his entire staff, saying, 'BOL [be on the lookout] for ANTIFA buses from Oregon.'" There was no bus. Your tax dollars at work, chasing phantoms conjured by the conservative distortion of reality and directed misinformation.

"Amtrak police at Union Station shot and killed a man wanted on a murder warrant out of California late Tuesday."

"Two members of US Congress flew unannounced into Kabul airport in the middle of the chaotic evacuation, stunning State Department and military personnel who had to divert resources to provide security and information to the lawmakers, US officials have said."

Why the judiciary matters… "The Supreme Court issued an order late Tuesday declining to stop the revival of a Trump-era border policy that requires asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are reviewed by U.S. immigration judges."

"The key agency that enforces federal gun laws seems poised to continue its six-year stretch without a formal director, as the chances of President Biden's nominee gaining Senate confirmation appear to be dwindling in the face of firm Republican opposition and a few holdouts in the chamber's Democratic caucus."

"Former President Donald Trump would love to take down Adam Kinzinger, one of his chief House GOP antagonists, in next year's midterms. But Democrats might beat him to it… Illinois lawmakers are on the verge of rolling out a new congressional map that will very likely gut Kinzinger’s exurban Chicago seat, according to several sources close to the redistricting process, leaving him with just a few bleak options for remaining in office next year."

"On Tuesday, Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, also known as H.R. 4. As Ian Millhiser explained in Vox, H.R. 4 essentially overturns the Supreme Court’s recent attacks on voting rights: Its central provisions give both the Justice Department and federal courts sweeping authority to block voter suppression laws. But one crucial section takes a more creative approach: The House bill actually repeals the court’s own rules for deciding election-related cases—which strongly favor states’ ability to suppress votes—replacing them with voter-friendly directives that would force the justices to safeguard equal suffrage."

"But with California’s gubernatorial recall election under way, Newsom is fighting for his political life. The Democratic governor of a deep blue state could narrowly lose his seat to a fringe rightwing radio host – in large part due to inertia and apathy among voters." Vote in every election.

"New state laws tightening voting restrictions come in two basic varieties: those that make it harder to cast a vote, and those making it more difficult to get registered to vote in the first place."

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Aug 24

"The space rock, known as 2021 PH27, completes one lap around our star every 113 Earth days, its discoverers determined. That's the shortest orbital period of any known solar system object except the planet Mercury, which takes just 88 days to loop around the sun."

"It was another deadly example of climate change after a summer of climate-driven calamities. Flash flooding — when water rises very quickly and flows with enormous speed and power — is getting more common in many places as Earth heats up."

"Over the course of the 20th Century, global water use grew at more than twice the rate of population increase. Today, this dissonance is leading many cities – from Rome to Cape Town, Chennai to Lima – to ration water. Water crises have been ranked in the top five of the World Economic Forum's Global Risks by Impact list nearly every year since 2012. In 2017, severe droughts contributed to the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two, when 20 million people across Africa and the Middle East were forced to leave their homes due to the accompanying food shortages and conflicts that erupted."

"The remains of American-born singer and dancer Josephine Baker will be reinterred at the Pantheon monument in Paris, making the entertainer who is a World War II hero in France the first Black woman to get the country's highest honor."

"Less than a month into a COVID-19 vaccine booster drive, Israel is seeing signs of an impact on the country's high infection and severe illness rates fueled by the fast-spreading Delta variant, officials and scientists say."

"So who’s been vaccinated in the United States? And who hasn’t?… Well, our most recent NBC News poll sheds some light on those question, with the survey finding that 69 percent of all adults say they’ve already been vaccinated, versus 13 percent saying they won’t get vaccinated under any circumstance." The only real surprise here is the percentage of Blacks vaccinated is higher than whites given the early characterization of the anti-vaccine arguments early on.

"So many people in this Texas town got Covid-19 that the school district shut down and then the city essentially closed."

"Hawaii's governor asked Monday that visitors and residents reduce travel to the islands to essential business only while the state struggles to control COVID-19 as the highly contagious delta variant spreads in the community."

"The Department of Education is preparing its Office of Civil Rights to investigate school districts that have blocked school mask mandates and other efforts to try to keep students and educators safe from COVID-19."

"It was that same goal that got Don Blair excited about a DIY air purifier, one that’s designed by a renowned air quality expert but can be built by a total amateur. Blair, a citizen scientist in the Boston area, has been spending his spare time pulling together the resources and pro tips teachers like Schildge need to build this homemade air purifier for their classrooms."

"Roughly 2 million more people than expected have joined the ranks of the retired in the pandemic, according to The New School's Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis… While some, like Jasso, happily chose to retire early, others were forced into retirement after losing their jobs or quitting out of fears of exposure to Covid… This doesn't mean that they're permanently out of the workforce. There's a constant flow in and out of retirement, says researcher Owen Davis, who conducted the analysis."

"On a sleepy cul-de-sac amid the bucolic vineyards and grassy hills of Sonoma Valley, California, a four-million-dollar house has become the epicenter of a summer-long spat between angry neighbors and a new venture capital-backed startup buying up homes around the nation. The company is called Pacaso. It says it's the fastest company in American history to achieve the 'unicorn' status of a billion-dollar valuation — but its quarrels in wine country, one of the first regions where it's begun operations, foreshadow business troubles ahead."

"The head of Iran’s prison system acknowledged Tuesday that videos purportedly obtained by a self-described hacker group that show abuses at the Islamic Republic’s notorious Evin prison are real, saying he took responsibility for the 'unacceptable behaviors.'" Uh huh, sure.

"Seven people at a university in western Germany have received medical treatment after showing symptoms of poisoning, and prosecutors have opened an investigation into suspicions of attempted murder, authorities said Tuesday."

Portland… "Little by little at first, then in larger groups, several dozen dressed in black approached the rally. Some wore gas masks and bike helmets. Both sides began lighting fireworks and dispersing chemical sprays. Anti-fascists and far-left counterprotesters brawled with far-right protesters, including identifiable Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer members. People began shooting paint balls, throwing flash-bang grenades, destroying vehicles and engaging in hand-to-hand physical fights."

"Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced Monday to more than five months in prison for burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a church in Washington, D.C., and for carrying two high-capacity firearm magazines when he was arrested weeks later, the Department of Justice said… Tarrio pled guilty to one count of destruction of property and one count of attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device in July. Tarrio said Monday that there was "no excuse" for his actions, adding that he made 'a grave mistake' that day."

But on Bullshit Mountain… "Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced to more than five months in jail Monday for tearing a Black Lives Matter banner down from a historic Black church and setting it ablaze."

"Confronting moderates, House Democratic leaders tried to muscle Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar budget blueprint over a key hurdle, working overnight to ease an intraparty showdown that risks upending their domestic infrastructure agenda."

Monday, August 23, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Aug 23

Chuck Close, and so it goes.

"The Food and Drug Administration has formally approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. The widely anticipated decision replaces the emergency use authorization granted by the agency last December."

"But the subject of masking is so polarizing that parents are becoming violent toward the very people they entrust their children with… During a back-to-school event this week, an angry parent ripped a mask off a teacher's face. Others yelled at a teacher who was wearing a mask, saying they could not understand her while her face was covered."

"Johnson is relieved her vaccination likely protected her against a more severe case of COVID-19. But the fact that kids are transmitting the coronavirus to family members is unnerving many parents all over the U.S., and putting extra stress on many households as children head back to school."

"Reider assumed it was because authorities wanted to find out whether he had a Delta infection. He, too, was curious — but when he got the test results back, he was surprised to learn that doctors couldn't give him any information about his variant." On why you must likely won't know which variant you contracted. Because, in reality, to the patient it doesn't really matter, does it?

"The researchers were looking for markers in vaccinated patients' blood that would indicate protection against COVID-19, what's known as 'correlates of immunity.' What the team of scientists found were neutralizing antibodies — proteins made by the immune system that are known to disarm the coronavirus." What really matters are these two points; does your immune system remember how to make these antibodies (and here it comes into some gritty details of how your immune system works), and how quickly does your body recognize the infection and is able to ramp up production. How many are in your blood is only a real indicator of if your body can fight off the virus before your immune system gets into gear. And, again, antibodies will always diminish in your blood when you are not infected. You body (it is believed) conserves resources and will reuse proteins. It won't produce many antibodies if there is no need to.

"The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced a key achievement in fusion research on Tuesday. Fusion, the lesser known and opposite reaction to nuclear fission, is when two atoms slam together to form a heavier atom and release energy. It is the way the sun makes energy."

"The euro zone economy lost some momentum in August but is still on track for solid growth in the third quarter of this year, according to preliminary data released Monday."

"If members of the Sackler family who own Purdue Pharma get their way, everyone on the list will win sweeping immunity from civil lawsuits linked to the family's activities, the sale of OxyContin, or Purdue Pharma's other operations." Oh, I'm sorry, you thought you were in control of this. Nope. Take the deal, without the immunity, or we'll just take everything the way the drugs you pushed took everything from the victims.

"Investigators are considering whether toxic algae blooms or other hazards may have contributed to the deaths of a Northern California couple, their baby and the family dog on a remote hiking trail, authorities said… The area in the Sierra National Forest where the bodies were found on Tuesday had been treated as a hazmat site after concerns were raised about the deaths being linked to potentially toxic gases from old mines nearby."

"Mike Richards has announced he won't be hosting Jeopardy!, after questions have persisted about how the show's executive producer was chosen for the coveted role… Richards has been scrutinized over earlier allegations of a hostile work environment, as well as inappropriate comments he allegedly made about women on a podcast that he once hosted." LaVar Burton is right there.

"The Department of Defense is mobilizing commercial airline flights to help with the United States' evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, which has been chaotic as thousands are desperate to leave the country after the Taliban swiftly took control."

How's that "we're a reformed Taliban" working out? "The Taliban have sentenced the brother of an Afghan translator to death, according to letters obtained by CNN, accusing him of helping the US and providing security to his brother, who served as an interpreter to American troops."

"Because when it was too cold to jihad, that IED still got planted. When they had 30-year-old AK-47s and we had $100 million war planes, they kept fighting. When we left a village, they took it back. No matter what we did, where we went, or how many of them we killed, they came back." On listening in to the Taliban. Instead of creating an Afghanistan for Afghanis.

"U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said on Monday during a visit to Singapore that the United States was focusing on evacuation efforts taking place in Afghanistan and that there would be plenty of time to analyse the context of the troop withdrawal."

"With thousands of desperate Afghans and foreigners crowding into Kabul's airport in the hope of fleeing Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers, pressure grew on U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday to extend the deadline for the evacuation operation."

"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blessed President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal, but with the House majority on the line, Kevin McCarthy is facing a different decision: how harshly to oppose it… With the House voting this week on advancing the infrastructure legislation, a $3.5 trillion Democratic spending framework plus an election reform bill, Republicans are still waiting to receive guidance on whether the GOP leader will whip against or withhold his influential fire on the bipartisan plan."

"The federal government deliberately targeted Black Lives Matter protesters via heavy-handed criminal prosecutions in an attempt to disrupt and discourage the global movement that swept the nation last summer in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, according to a new report released Wednesday by The Movement for Black Lives."

"Earlier in the afternoon, a large group gathered downtown. A KATU News crew observed the crowd size increasing throughout the afternoon. According to police, by about 2:30 p.m., several hundred people had gathered at Salmon Street Springs. People were seen carrying bats and shields." Funny how in this report the group carrying the bats and shields is not identified.

"A man fired a handgun near demonstrators in downtown Portland Sunday evening as high-intensity clashes splintered across the city — including an earlier confrontation involving right-wing protesters using paintball guns and fireworks against left-wing counterprotesters in Northeast Portland." But, you know, they don't know which group he may, or may not, have been affiliated with. Sure.

"Former President Donald Trump was briefly booed at a rally on Saturday in Alabama after telling his supporters they should get vaccinated against COVID-19."

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Aug 19

"U.S. Capitol Police say they are conducting an active bomb threat investigation near the Library of Congress, across from the U.S. Capitol… In a tweet, the police says the threat is related to a suspicious vehicle. Several streets in the area have been closed. The FBI says its Washington field office is responding along with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives."

"The Caldor Fire burning in Northern California exploded overnight and is now burning more than 53,700 acres, fire officials said Wednesday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tweeted a satellite video of the wildfire that showed the blaze's 'explosive growth' east of Sacramento."

"A federal judge on Wednesday threw out Trump administration approvals for a large planned oil project on Alaska's North Slope, saying the federal review was flawed and didn't include mitigation measures for polar bears."

"A pesticide that's been linked to neurological damage in children, including reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders, has been banned by the Biden administration following a years-long legal battle… Environmental Protection Agency officials issued a final ruling on Wednesday saying chlorpyrifos can no longer be used on the food that makes its way onto American dinner plates. The move is intended to better protect the children and farmworkers, according to the agency."

"Health officials are preparing to roll out COVID-19 booster shots in the United States this September. According to a plan announced Wednesday, all U.S. adults who received a two-dose vaccine would be eligible for an additional jab of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine eight months from when they got their second one."

"Top U.S. health officials are dismissing criticism from the World Health Organization over the plan to offer COVID-19 booster shots to vaccinated Americans while some parts of the world are still struggling to get access to coronavirus vaccines." Both are good, if you have the supply for both.

"A study by University of Oxford scientists has found that people who contract the Delta variant of COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated carry a similar amount of the coronavirus as those who catch the disease and have not been inoculated. The researchers stressed that vaccination still offers good protection against catching the disease in the first place, and protects against getting seriously ill with it." Not really news, as to be "ill" with the disease requires a certain viral load. However, Delta has significantly higher viral loads. And it means those people can infect just as many as the people who haven't been vaccinated.

"This sprawling university of about 20,000 undergraduates, nestled in the Great Plains, was hoping — like many colleges — for a normal fall semester. But as millions of college students descend on campuses throughout the U.S., the delta variant is raging, raising questions about how to pull this off without outbreaks."

"Yes, you read that right. Even as Abbott was testing positive for Covid-19, his administration continued to work to keep local jurisdictions from requiring people to wear masks… And all of that was happening as Texas continued to be one of the hotspots in the 4th spike of the coronavirus. The state reported more than 25,000 new cases on Tuesday and is now averaging more than 15,000 cases a day, according to data from The New York Times. Cases are up 44% in the state over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are up 65%."

"The Food and Drug Administration says more than 130 deaths and 220 illnesses in dogs may have been caused by the dog food brand Midwestern Pet Foods, after inspections "revealed evidence of significant violations" of food safety regulations… In a warning letter sent to the pet food manufacturer, the FDA said the inspection had found high levels of aflatoxin, a poisonous substance produced by certain molds that can cause illness and death in pets."

"A woman who pulled off a road to change drivers during a trip with her father and three young children was knocked unconscious and arrested by two Northern California sheriff's deputies, who then lied about the encounter to responding paramedics and on official reports, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday."

"First-time filings for unemployment insurance hit a pandemic-era low last week, a sign that the jobs market is improving heading into the fall despite worries over the delta Covid variant… Jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 14 totaled 348,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That was below the Dow Jones estimate for 365,000 and a decline of 29,000 from the previous week." That's still a high number, but the direction is good.

"Macy’s, Inc. today reported results for the second quarter of 2021, raised guidance for fiscal 2021 and announced plans to return capital to shareholders… 'Second quarter results were strong across all three nameplates and surpassed our expectations. Our momentum in the first quarter accelerated in the second quarter as we successfully reengaged core customers and attracted new, younger customers with new brands and categories,' said Jeff Gennette, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s, Inc."

"Amazon is planning to open large retail locations that resemble department stores, The Wall Street Journal reported… The newspaper, citing people familiar with the plans, reported that some of the first Amazon department stores are expected to be in California and Ohio. The locations will take up roughly 30,000 square feet, around the size of a Kohl’s or T.J. Maxx store but only about the third of a size of a traditional department store."

"Helaina Alati was browsing the spice aisle of an Australian supermarket when she came face-to-face with a huge snake… Alati, who coincidently is a trained snake catcher, said the snake’s head came to within 8 inches of her own."

"The leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group said Thursday that an Iranian fuel tanker will sail toward Lebanon “within hours,” warning Israel and the United States not to intercept it." Is that a warning, or a dare?

"The FBI said Wednesday its agents are joining a criminal investigation into an alleged security breach of a rural Colorado county's voting equipment… The agents are working with Mesa County prosecutors to determine if there was a criminal violation, FBI spokeswoman Courtney Bernal said in a statement."

"The Sioux Falls Police have released a picture of the man suspected of “aggressively poking” CEO and Trump supporter Mike Lindell at South Dakota’s cyber symposium… 'It happened pretty fast, but the guy knew what he was doing,' Mr Lindell said, while calling it 'one of the worst attacks on me I’ve ever had'." Uh huh, sure, Mike.

"MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is scrambling to defend his claims of election fraud after a cybersecurity expert demanded his cut of the $5 million reward Lindell had promised to anyone who could disprove the accuracy of his alleged election data." The data was shit, you say? Inconceivable.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday Aug 18

"This year's summer reader poll was also shaped by a series of 'what ifs' — most importantly, what if, instead of looking at the entire history of the field the way we did in our 2011 poll, we only focused on what's happened in the decade since?"

"Scientists have found a strange "break" in the spiral arms our Milky Way galaxy that could tell us more about its galactic history… The grouping of young stars and gassy regions is described by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as looking like "a splinter poking out from a plank of wood" from the plane of the spiral Milky Way's arms."

"What is new is that the team has dramatically improved the resolution of radio images by linking together more than 70,000 small antennae spread across nine European counties."

"The death toll from Haiti's devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake has climbed to 1,941, the country's civil protection agency said Tuesday… More than 9,900 people were injured in the earthquake, which struck Saturday morning."

"Tackling methane emissions, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than CO2 in the short term, should be low-hanging fruit for oil and gas producers: something they can do cost-effectively, and with far greater climate impact than investing in renewables, or in further-out technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage."

"Classes started back up on Aug. 12th for Hamilton County Schools, and after only two days of in-person learning there were more than 600 students exposed to COVID-19. These students are now quarantined and unable to attend their first full week of school."

"The United States reported more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, equating to around 42 fatalities an hour, according to a Reuters tally, as the Delta variant continues to ravage parts of the country with low vaccination rates."

"Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has tested positive for Covid-19, his office said Tuesday… He is currently isolated in the governor's mansion and is receiving Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment, the statement said. Abbott is in good health and not currently experiencing any symptoms." No symptoms, but receding Regeron… just like regular people do (hint: hardly anyone gets Regeneron).

"The United States will begin widely distributing Covid-19 booster shots next month as new data shows that vaccine protection wanes over time, top U.S. health officials announced Wednesday."

"Target said Wednesday fiscal second-quarter sales rose in every merchandise category from apparel to grocery — even when compared with last year’s pandemic-fueled record pace, helping the retailer top earnings estimates."

"The sign, which was tweeted out by user @haitiandvorce (who has since gone private), listed a series of different wages and what behaviors and attitudes one would need to earn those wages. A person who would be making minimum wage — which in Florida is $8.65 — was described as being a 'mediocre person.' To earn $12 an hour, a worker must be 'better than most,' bring 'zero drama' and work 'like two people.'"

"The Taliban violently broke up a protest in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least one person as they quashed a rare public show of dissent. The militant group meanwhile met with former officials from the toppled Western-backed government."

"A humanitarian crisis in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is sparking a political debate over what to do about refugees from the war-torn country… There is some bipartisan agreement to assist Afghans who stood with Americans. But it is unclear how many — and what categories of Afghans — will be able to come to the U.S. or whether the process will be expedited for those in danger."

"The Taliban have blown up the statue of a Shiite militia leader who fought against them during Afghanistan's civil war in the 1990s, according to photos circulating on Wednesday, sowing further doubt about their claims to have become more moderate." Can't wait to hear conservatives talk about how people who want to tear down confederate statues are "just like the Taliban."

"An American inspector general reported that when the U.S. sent money to Afghanistan, much of it was transferred into the bank accounts of well-connected Afghans in Dubai. Corruption undermined the Afghan military, which the U.S. had to support. Eventually the war with the Taliban continued so long that Afghan democracy was no longer the issue. American democracy was."

"There was never going to be any way out but what is happening right now… The architects of this war, those who lied us into it, they never had any idea of how to end it."

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Aug 17

As you know, I rarely post fund raisers here, but there are times I make exceptions. You may know Laura J Mixon from the number of links I've grokked from her over the years, or for the twitter thread on ME I posted yesterday. Laura and her husband, Steven J Gould, are wonderful writers and wonderful people in general. I met them when they were instructors at Viable Paradise XIII and they were kind and generous with their time and advice. (Grokked from Sarah Goslee)

"In about two hours, a pair of large plastic bins were full of what Hunter estimated was about 5,000 needles. Hunter started the syringe redemption program as a pilot in December and has been surprised by the response."

"Across the country there is now an urgency to getting workers vaccinated, but how to get there is up for debate. While many companies are offering monetary incentives and paid time off for getting the shots, a growing number of firms are telling their employees to get it done now… Hospitals and health systems have led the way, with about 1,750 issuing vaccine mandates so far, according to the American Hospital Association. But in recent weeks, companies outside health care have followed suit — United Airlines, Tyson Foods and Walmart among them."

"The Biden administration is expected later this week to recommend that the majority of Americans get a booster shot eight months after their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The boosters would be administered once the vaccines are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signs off on them."

"Young children may be more likely to transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 within households compared with older children, a new study has found… Specifically, children 3 or younger were more likely to spread the virus to household members compared with those aged 14 to 17." Whuuuut… you mean the idea that kids can't get it or spread it is wrong?! What madness is this? Who could have foreseen that kids who :: checks notes :: need constant close contact with others and really won't wear masks or understand the need to wash hands and maintain distances would be a tremendous problem in the spread of disease. You know, except for everyone with an actual brain.

"Now that home prices have surpassed the peak that preceded the 2000s housing crash, many people are worried. Are we in another bubble? Or maybe the housing bubble a couple decades ago wasn't really a bubble? If so, then why was there a crash?… A new study by economists Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, Adam M. Guren & Timothy J. McQuade helps to explain the dynamics of our bonkers housing market."

"Shoppers in the U.S. cut back their purchases in July even more than expected as worries over the delta variant of Covid-19 dampened activity and government stimulus dried up… Retail sales for the month fell 1.1%, worse than the Dow Jones estimate of a 0.3% decline and below the upwardly revised 0.7% increase in June."

Or… "Walmart (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, reported better-than-expected second-quarter revenue and sales results, driven by store traffic and stimulus check spending that bolstered its footprint in grocery sales in the face of surging COVID-19 infections nationwide."

"Beltran is one of at least 384 workers who died from environmental heat exposure in the U.S. in the last decade, according to an investigation by NPR and Columbia Journalism Investigations, the investigative reporting unit of Columbia Journalism School. The count includes people toiling in essential yet often invisible jobs in 37 states across the country: farm laborers in California, construction and trash-collection workers in Texas and tree trimmers in North Carolina and Virginia. An analysis of federal data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the three-year average of worker heat deaths has doubled since the early 1990s."

"The Taliban declared an 'amnesty' across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee their rule." Ouch. I think I hurt myself from that side-eye. Of course they're going to play it cool while the world is watching (except for the outlying cities and regions where they will show their true selves first). It classic abusive behavior.

"It's been more than nine months since Election Day 2020, but as the nation's top election officials met in Iowa over the weekend, it was clear the shadow of that race will stretch far into the future of American democracy… The conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from former President Donald Trump has upended almost all aspects of election administration: Local officials who a decade ago would have gone about their bureaucratic business in relative anonymity are facing threats and intense pressure, and a large chunk of American voters have no confidence the system is fair." Why, it's like someone is continuing to agitate and has worked hard to erode confidence in institutions. I know, crazy, right? Stay safe, my Russian friends.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Aug 16

"Tropical Storm Fred was gaining power Monday as it slammed across the Gulf of Mexico toward Florida, triggering tropical storm and storm surge warnings across the state's Panhandle… Fred was one of three storms swirling in the Atlantic Basin, at least two of which could hit the U.S. coast this week. Lining up behind Fred were Tropical Storm Grace, which was approaching the Dominican Republic and earthquake-battered Haiti early Monday, and tropical depression eight, which formed late Sunday near Bermuda."

Laura Mixon tweet thread on "ME is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis" and how Long Covid has all the hallmarks.

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized fake vaccine cards shipped from China to Tennessee last week. The shipment was disguised as paper greeting cards and upon reading the description in the shipment manifest, customs and border patrol officers 'already knew what it was,' the agency said in a statement."

"The Texas Supreme Court on Sunday temporarily halted lower court rulings that allowed local government entities and school districts to implement mask mandates in defiance of an order from Governor Greg Abbott. A hearing on the earlier temporary injunction is scheduled for Monday."

"Australia's most populous state on Monday reported its worst day of the pandemic with 478 new infections and seven COVID-19 deaths as pandemic restrictions tightened in other parts of the country."

Another local school district… "The mask debate continues as Lakeview Local School District welcomes students back Monday while mandating they wear masks… Earlier Sunday, a group met at Pearl Park in Cortland to voice their opinion on the mask mandate."

"After Denver announced this month that city employees and workers in hospitals and other high-risk settings must be vaccinated against COVID-19, Colorado’s Catholic bishops told parishioners how to seek a religious exemption… That’s despite the fact the Catholic Church does not oppose the vaccines and Pope Francis has said he believes that, ethically, everyone should get one."

"Amazon is not making many new friends in the area around Brands Park in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood… The retail giant on Thursday installed a large Amazon delivery locker atop a sidewalk running through the park, partially blocking the path and drawing immediate scorn and bewilderment from park users and the local alderwoman."

"The US military has temporarily suspended air operations at Kabul airport while US troops try to clear Afghans who have flooded onto the airfield in a desperate rush to escape the Taliban, a US defense official told CNN."

"America’s top general said the United States could now face a rise in terrorist threats from a Taliban-run Afghanistan. That warning comes as intelligence agencies charged with anticipating those threats face new questions after the U.S.-backed Afghan military collapsed with shocking speed." Just as a reminder, we bombed Afghanistan for almost a decade before 9-11.

"While public school textbooks suffer from their own blindspots, a Guardian analysis has found that private schools, especially Christian schools, use textbooks that tell a version of history that is racially biased and often inaccurate. These textbooks, used in thousands of private schools, many of which receive tens of thousands of dollars in public funding every year, whitewash the legacy of slavery, frame Native Americans as lesser and blame the Black Lives Matter movement for sowing racial discord." The stories we tell ourselves.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Storybone

Two serial killers in competition with each other to be more audacious, more disturbing, more terrifying, and getting more media attention than the other. Think Whitechapel Murders (Jack the Ripper) versus the Thames Torso Murders which happened at roughly the same time. Each one trying to barely make their escape (the adventure of being caught), trying to be more spectacular (for certain values of that word) than the other, higher profile victims, who could tease the cops more, that kind of thing. Only to draw the attention of an older serial killer who realizes these two are going to get them all caught and decides to either kill them, or deliver both to the cops while blaming them for the third killer's crimes (mostly likely going on for decades).

If you like, you can change this to some other crime (extortion, robbery, etc).

For a twist you can have them realize that they're suddenly out of their depth and that there are bigger monster swimming in their pond, so they join forces to protect themselves.

Linkee-poo Sunday Aug 15

Nanci Griffith, and so it goes.

"Taliban fighters began entering the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday, the last city to have been thus far spared takeover by the militants amid their rapid sweep of the country in the wake of U.S. forces departing… A Taliban spokesperson said the fighters intended to negotiate a 'peaceful surrender' of the city."

"Afghanistan’s embattled president left the country Sunday, joining his fellow citizens and foreigners in a stampede fleeing the advancing Taliban and signaling the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan."

"Tropical Storm Grace is expected to bring heavy rainfall and flooding to Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico on Sunday."

"Such a vision may be the stuff of popular entertainment but it comes uncomfortably close to our own uncertain future, as highlighted last week by an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which effectively announced 'a code red' warning for our species. Unequivocal evidence showed greenhouse gas emissions were propelling us towards a calamitous fiery future triggered by extreme climate change, it announced. Only urgent reductions of fossil fuel emissions can hope to save us."

"Sizzling temperatures in the United States and Canada and persistent heat in parts of Europe and northern Africa are creating dangerous health conditions, aggravating droughts and fueling wildfires around the world. And it's this troubling confluence of climate threats that researchers have been warning about for two decades." For right now the rhetoric is "OMG, more and longer heatwaves which are, you know, a real bummer and some people can die and it's really dry around here." Just wait until it dawns on people what other changes those heatwaves and droughts bring, like crop failures, livestock deaths, plant and animal extinction, and the realization that our resources and cities are located in the wrong places, and there's not really suitable substitutes available.

"Among Yazd's ancient technologies is the wind catcher, or bâdgir in Persian. These remarkable structures are a common sight soaring above the rooftops of Yazd. They are often rectangular towers, but they also appear in circular, square, octagonal and other ornate shapes."

"Scientists in China discovered two new dinosaur species when analyzing fossils from the country's northwest regions. Their findings, published in a study in Scientific Reports, conclude that two of the specimens were from previously unknown species… The dinosaurs are some of the first vertebrates to be reported in the region, 'increasing the diversity of the fauna as well as the information on Chinese sauropods,' according to the study."

"Russia's state-owned news service, TASS, has published an extraordinarily defamatory article about NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor. The publication claims that Auñón-Chancellor had an emotional breakdown in space, then damaged a Russian spacecraft in order to return early. This, of course, is a complete fabrication."

"The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States hit a record high of just over 1,900 on Saturday, as hospitals across the South were stretched to capacity fighting outbreaks caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant."

"For young children, the pandemic comes at a crucial time for developing skills important for empathy, safety and more -- a phase that some parents worry will be impaired by mask-wearing." No, it won't harm them. The increased prevalence of COVID-19 would, though.

"Early versions of COVID-19 largely spared children but the delta variant proved to be much less discriminating, and has led to more child hospitalizations. Now, health care workers on the front lines say there is another frightening prospect looming: a surge in children diagnosed with a combination of COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus." Insert dramatic music here.

"Sars-CoV-2 is becoming endemic, meaning continued recurrent outbreaks, especially in communities with low levels of immunity. We shall all remain at some risk, which is a difficult message for those with extreme anxiety about Covid-19. But while herd immunity may be an unattainable goal, every step towards it helps."

"An anti-vaccine rally in downtown Los Angeles erupted into a streetfight Saturday afternoon, leaving one protester bloodied on the ground with a stab wound and a journalist filing a police report over an alleged assault."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Antifa thugs clashed with anti-mask protesters outside Los Angeles City Hall on Saturday afternoon resulting in multiple injuries."

"Conflict over mask mandates boiled over in school board meetings across the country in recent days as crowds of parents showed up both supporting and resisting the mandates… The backlash led to a New York school board meeting being canceled, a Tennessee meeting devolving into chaos and name-calling and a Florida student pleading with leaders to protect the health of students. Previously, a North Carolina school board was 'overthrown' in a protest earlier in August."

"Demonstrators opposed to Gov. Janet Mills’ newly announced vaccine mandate for health care workers rallied outside Maine Medical Center in Portland Saturday… Some in attendance argued they’re being deprived their freedom of choice but others in the medical field say the move provides support for health care workers." They say, "we have the right to choose"? Really? Did you make a choice for Hep-B, MMR, or any of the other vaccinations, do you have the choice on the flu vaccination (last year our hospital system made the flu mandatory), do you have the choice of going into that patient's room? It's the fucking job.

"Wall Street has a big problem on its hands. It's experiencing a year of record profits, yet many of the young people it needs to fill its talent pool are having doubts about whether the work involved – upwards of 80 hours per week – is worth it." So Wall Street is playing the one trick they know, offering more money. Not changing the culture, just paying those at the "bottom" (note, they're not the actual bottom of the hierarchy, but the bottom for these people) more.

"A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the coast off of Haiti. The strength of that earthquake compares to the one that devastated the nation in 2010 that killed more than 200,000 people and demolished much of the capital."

Of relevance, a recent On the Media short podcasts… "In the wake of the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse on July 7th, international media rushed to cover Haiti’s latest political crisis—painting a familiar picture of a nation in turmoil, Haitians in need, and an international community offering rescue."

"A federal judge in Texas has ordered the Biden administration to revive a Trump-era border policy that required migrants to stay in Mexico until their US immigration court date… late Friday, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, blocked the administration from implementing that memo (that allowed those denied entry previously to come into the US), though he stayed his order for seven days 'to allow the federal government time to seek emergency relief at the appellate level.'"

Friday, August 13, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday August 13

"The six were on the sand at Orchard Beach in the Bronx when they were struck during a fast-moving storm shortly after 5 p.m., according to the parks department and the fire department."

"Climate change, drought and high demand are expected to force the first-ever mandatory cuts to a water supply that 40 million people across the American West depend on — the Colorado River. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s projection next week will spare cities and tribes but hit Arizona farmers hard." Guess where much of our winter produce comes from.

"An excessive heat warning from the weather service remained in effect Thursday for much of western Oregon, except for some locations at the coast, and officials warned that 'heat can kill' in recorded messages sent out to residents Wednesday morning."

"To get a sense of how to do that and what to look for, NPR's All Things Considered spoke with Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, about which groups are most at risk, the early symptoms of heat-related illness and what cities and individuals can do to mitigate the risks."

"A new international study counters the common belief that our metabolism inevitably declines during our adult lives. Well, not until we’re in our 60s, anyway… Researchers found that metabolism peaks around age 1, when babies burn calories 50 percent faster than adults, and then gradually declines roughly 3 percent a year until around age 20. From there, metabolism plateaus until about age 60, when it starts to slowly decline again, by less than 1 percent annually, according to findings published Thursday in the journal Science." Note, this study doesn't directly measure metabolism, and it's not saying your body doesn't change over time, but just infers that your resting metabolic rate doesn't change much between 20 and 60 (on average). YMMV.

"More than 600 in-person students and staffers tested positive for COVID-19 in the first week of the academic year in Gwinnett County Public Schools… Of the 607 new cases, 539 were students and 68 were staff, according to the school system’s daily reports." Who could have known this would happen (except everybody with half a brain)?

"The divide between the vaccinated and unvaccinated when it comes to Covid-19 is likely to become even deeper, with officials in the U.S. and Europe planning, or introducing, an increasing number of restrictions on people who haven’t gotten a Covid shot… Almost all governments around the world have so far resisted making Covid vaccination mandatory for their citizens, although many have introduced forms of Covid vaccination certificates, passes or passports that allow the immunized bearer more freedoms and work opportunities than unvaccinated people." Wait until these people find out about how their credit scores and social media use also do the same thing. It's what's known as "consequences for actions (or inaction)." Listen COVID Chad, get the goddamn shot. (I originally used "COVID Karen", but thought a change was needed.)

"Twenty-seven people sailing on Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Vista ship have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those who tested positive, 26 are crew members and one person is a passenger, according to a news release from the Belize Tourism Board Wednesday."

"U.S. consumer sentiment dropped sharply in early August to its lowest level in a decade, in a worrying sign for the economy as Americans gave faltering outlooks on everything from personal finances to inflation and employment, a survey showed on Friday."

"Nearly all of the $600 million stolen in one of the biggest cryptocurrency heists ever has now been returned by hackers, according to the platform targeted in the hack… Poly Network said Thursday that all of the funds except $33 million worth of the tether digital coin have been transferred back." Piracy for the LOLs.

"'The one thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that whenever you spend cryptocurrencies to buy a cup of coffee, or any type of consumer item, that triggers a capital gains event,' said Shehan Chandrasekera, a CPA and head of tax strategy at CoinTracker.io, a digital currency tax software company that helps clients track their crypto across virtual wallet addresses and manage their corresponding tax obligations." Oopsie.

"The Taliban captured another three provincial capitals in southern Afghanistan on Friday, including in Helmand, the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in the past two decades, as the insurgents press a lightning offensive that is gradually encircling the capital, Kabul."

"A gunman in southwest England killed five people, including a young girl, before turning his weapon on himself, police say. It's the deadliest mass shooting in Britain in more than 10 years."

"When students in Newberg Public Schools show up for the first day of school next month, they may not see Pride flags, or flags reading 'Black Lives Matter.'… The school board voted Tuesday evening, four to three, to enact a ban on those flags, and any broadly 'political' signs, clothing and other items, with the board’s three-member policy committee set to outline what constitutes 'political.'" Can't wait for the inevitable "School Pride" versus "Political" discussions to come.

"'I didn't take it personally at all,' said Burns, speaking during PBS' portion of the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, touting his upcoming four-part series on boxing champion Muhammad Ali . 'We will take this on and we will figure out how to make it right and do a better job. I personally commit to that. ... How could you possible take umbrage at the idea there could be more empowerment, there could be more representation, there could be more stories told?'"

"The move, a significant escalation in the holdout, came a day after officers of the Texas House of Representatives served civil arrests warrants to the offices of more than 50 Democrats who have not retuned to the Capitol since fleeing for Washington, D.C., on July 12. Some have returned to Texas but remain absent from the state House of Representatives. "

"No racial or ethnic group dominates for those under age 18, and white people declined in numbers for the first time on record in the overall U.S. population as the Hispanic and Asian populations boomed this past decade, according to the 2020 census data."

It's the Daily Beast, but… "If you’re dismissing this as fear-mongering or click-bait, you probably missed Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and renowned adulterer, espousing replacement theory rhetoric on Fox News earlier this week while talking to host Maria Baritromo, who always has time to offer a platform to dangerous conspiracy peddling. Speaking about Mexican immigrants coming to America during the pandemic, Gingrich said the 'radical left' wants to 'get rid of the rest of us” and would “love to drown traditional, classic Americans with as many people as they can who know nothing of American history, nothing of American tradition, nothing of the rule of law.'"