What if Kurzweil doesn't make it?
What if all the switches get stuck on destroy?
When the shuttle goes, we won't take it
When the final counter-measures are deployed
All we'll have is all this time

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Sept 30

"NASA does not plan to rename its new $10 billion technological marvel, the James Webb Space Telescope, despite concerns that its namesake, former NASA administrator James Webb, went along with government discrimination against gay and lesbian employees in the 1950s and 1960s."

"The fossilised remains of a dinosaur, nicknamed 'the horned crocodile-faced hell heron', have been unearthed on the Isle of Wight."

"Mars is one of the smallest planets in our solar system, but it's also home to some of the largest, deepest and most dramatic systems of canyons and valleys ever spied by human (or robotic) eyes. New research suggests many of these Martian features were formed by catastrophic climate-driven events of the sort that are currently becoming a more significant threat here on Earth."

"The Biden administration said Wednesday it will draft rules to govern the killing of wild birds by industry and resume enforcement actions against companies responsible for deaths that could have been prevented, a longstanding practice that ended under President Donald Trump… The move came as North American bird numbers have plummeted drastically in recent decades. That decline was punctuated by news Wednesday that the famed ivory-billed woodpecker and 22 other species of flora and fauna have gone extinct."

"A Danish artist was given $84,000 by a museum to use in a work of art. When he delivered the piece he was supposed to make, it was not as promised. Instead, the artist, Jens Haaning, gave the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark two blank canvases and said they were titled "Take the Money and Run."" Yeah, he's still in breach of contract.

"America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing group founded last year to promote pro-Trump doctors during the coronavirus pandemic, is working in tandem with a small network of health care companies to sow distrust in the Covid-19 vaccine, dupe tens of thousands of people into seeking ineffective treatments for the disease, and then sell consultations and millions of dollars’ worth of those medications. The data indicate patients spent at least $15 million — and potentially much more — on consultations and medications combined." There's always a grift. (Grokked from John)

"Surveys have shown that as many as half of unvaccinated workers say they will leave their jobs if they're forced to get the COVID-19 shot, but in reality few of them actually quit. That's according to an article in The Conversation, a nonprofit news organization that covers academic research." It's all fun and games until you realize you won't get unemployment.

"New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed 16 states now have obesity rates of 35% or higher. That's an increase of four states --Delaware, Iowa, Ohio, and Texas — in just a year."

"Medical service: Two 'COVID tests' for the coronavirus — a diagnostic PCR test, which typically takes a few days to process and is quite accurate, and a rapid antigen test, which is less accurate but produces results in minutes… Total bill: $56,384, including $54,000 for the PCR test and the balance for the antigen test and an ER facility fee. Molina's negotiated rate for both tests and the facility fee totaled $16,915.20, which the insurer paid in full." Burn it all down.

"YouTube is cracking down on the spread of misinformation by banning misleading and inaccurate content about vaccines… The site had previously banned content containing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines under its COVID-19 misinformation policy. The change extends that policy to a far wider number of vaccines."

"The payments were part of a formal addiction treatment called contingency management, which incentivizes drug users with money or gift cards to stay off drugs. At the end of 12 weeks, after all his drug tests came back negative for meth, Lemon received $330. But for him, it was about more than just the money. It was being told, good job."

Signs of the Apocalypse… "McRib lovers, your day is coming – soon… McDonald's announced Thursday that its iconic barbecue sandwich will return to participating restaurants nationwide Nov. 1, nearly a month earlier than in 2020, but later than before the coronavirus pandemic. The fast-food giant said it will be available for a limited time."

"But moments after exiting his car, Mistic was blinded by the lights of a parked police cruiser. Two Idaho Springs police officers began shouting commands at Mistic, who was 24 at the time. One officer threw him to the ground, and the other stunned Mistic with her Taser, according to a new federal lawsuit… The officers claim Mistic resisted arrest, but the Coloradan says there was a different reason for his confused behavior when police confronted him: He couldn't hear them. Mistic is deaf in both ears, isn't able to lip-read and uses American Sign Language to communicate."

"Seafarers, truck drivers and airline workers have endured quarantines, travel restrictions and complex Covid-19 vaccination and testing requirements to keep stretched supply chains moving during the pandemic… But many are now reaching their breaking point, posing yet another threat to the badly tangled network of ports, container vessels and trucking companies that moves goods around the world."

"Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced on Thursday to one year in prison for illegal campaign financing in his failed 2012 re-election bid, making him the first French head of state in modern times to receive two jail terms."

"Americans who have been frustrated with the slow service of the U.S. Postal Service since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic probably won’t be thrilled to hear this… The service is about to get even slower." Fire DeJoy.

"At Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon, Judge Brenda J. Penny decided to suspend Jamie Spears as the conservator of his daughter's estate. John Zabel, a certified public accountant, will step into that role for now. Penny installed Zabel as the new temporary conservator of Spears' estate only until the next court hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 12. At that point, the judge plans to terminate the conservatorship — freeing the 39-year-old star."

"Public sentiment in Oklahoma seems to mirror recent NPR/Ipsos polling that finds most Americans support resettling the Afghans. But there is some loud dissent… In multiple Facebook videos, Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman John Bennett says the party does not consider the refugees to be welcome in the state." What I see here is the party operations is going from the established anti-immigrant stance of the GOP, even though the members think letting in the Afghans is the right thing to do.

"Nearly 20,000 Haitians, who are on their way to the United States, are now holed up in Necoclí, forming a human bottleneck even bigger than the recent migrant logjams on the U.S.-Mexican border."

"The Christian right’s ability to mobilize its own voters has long made it one of the most potent forces in American politics. But this year, evangelical leaders have embraced a new strategy, one with direct roots in the outcome of the 2020 election: Religious activists have taken up the cause of “election integrity,” pushing bills to crack down on voter fraud, even though no evidence of widespread fraud in US elections exists. In the process, they’ve helped restrict ballot access for millions of Americans — the most regressive wave of voting measures since the Jim Crow era — and drawn a direct connection between their new cause and their core religious beliefs."

"Facing multiple deadlines, Democratic leaders in the House tried to make some headway — even if only symbolically — by passing a bill Wednesday that would suspend the nation's borrowing limit through mid-December of next year… There's a more pressing problem: a looming partial government shutdown."

"The hostile questioning from Republicans underscored that, while America’s longest war is now over, the fight for the 2022 midterms is just getting started. Afghanistan has become a top issue in conservative media and a rallying cry for Republican candidates eager to make the demoralizing exit a referendum on Biden as his poll numbers fall. And if the Pentagon’s reputation becomes collateral damage in the process, so be it." Dear military leaders, they were always using you. It's just your time under the bus.

"But (January 6th), which has so far led to charges of conspiracy against 15 Proud Boys, has not been the heavy blow to the organization that many expected… Nor has the imprisonment of the Proud Boys' chairman, Henry 'Enrique' Tarrio, who was revealed to be a federal informant. Tarrio recently began a five-month term in prison for burning a church's Black Lives Matter banner and bringing high-capacity firearm magazines into Washington, D.C.… 'They're simply switching up their organizational style,' said Miller. 'Now they are organizing more at a local level, they're hosting local rallies, or they're joining into other rallies around political flashpoints like critical race theory or anti-masking.'"

"So today, about eight months into Biden's presidency, how do these voters view him?… In a pair of virtual focus groups NPR observed last week, featuring more than a dozen such voters from key states, a picture emerged of disappointment with Biden — but no regrets that they helped send Trump packing after one term."

"Top congressional Democrats are acknowledging for the first time that they’ll have to scale back their drug pricing plans to win centrist votes for their giant social spending package… Leadership may drop efforts to have the government directly negotiate the prices for medicines in private insurance plans and make fewer drugs subject to negotiations in Medicare, among the changes under consideration." Dear Democrats, these are popular ideas, no need to scale back. Tell the moderates that if they balk, you will hang the defeat of the program around their necks and support primary challengers.

"Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that senators have reached a deal on a stopgap government funding measure to prevent a shutdown." I'll believe it when I see it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday Sept 29

"The ivory-billed woodpecker and 22 more birds, fish and other species are expected to be declared extinct by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday… It’s a rare move for wildlife officials to give up hope on a plant or animal, but government scientists have exhausted efforts to find these 23 species and warned that the climate crisis, on top of other pressures, could make such disappearances more common."

"Officials in Arlington, located between Dallas and Fort Worth, said the city and Tarrant County Public Health were notified on Sept. 5 that a child had been hospitalized with primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare and often fatal infection caused by the naegleria fowleri ameba. The boy, who was not identified by officials, died at the hospital on Sept. 11."

"Knight is one of seven patients with a rare eye disease who volunteered to let doctors modify their DNA by injecting the revolutionary gene-editing tool CRISPR directly into cells that are still in their bodies. Knight and one other study volunteer gave NPR exclusive interviews about their experience."

"An elderly north suburban man has died from rabies — the first human case in Illinois since 1954… Health officials urged the man to start post-exposure rabies treatment, due the its high mortality rate, but the man declined." Rabies is a fucking horrible way to die. Yes, the shots hurt, and you need a couple of them. But get the goddamn shots, people.

"When it comes to the pandemic, pseudoscience has outweighed real science at almost every turn. One of the best examples of that is the unsupported assertion that the virus causing COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese laboratory… Despite mounting evidence that the virus reached humans through natural pathways — from infected animals such as bats — the lab-leak hypothesis recently jumped back into the news, thanks to CNN, the investigative news site the Intercept, and the Atlantic."

"The long Covid problem might be bigger than we thought… A large study has revealed that one in three Covid-19 survivors have suffered symptoms three to six months after getting infected, with breathing problems, abdominal symptoms such as abdominal pain, change of bowel habit and diarrhoea, fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression among the most common issues reported."

"United Airlines is touting the success of its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, saying that more than 99% of its U.S.-based employees have met the company's requirement to get vaccinated, or have applied for a religious or medical exemption."

"The Vatican City State said Tuesday that it will require all employees to provide proof of vaccination or documentation of a recent negative COVID test, the Washington Post reports." How's that religious exception coming along?

"Two Columbus police officers were arrested by the FBI Tuesday and charged with crimes connected to the distribution of fentanyl… The officers, identified as John J. Kotchkoski, 33, and Marco Merino, 44, were arrested Tuesday on the charges. Both are officers in the department’s narcotics division."

"They're partly in the dark because for more than two decades, the gun lobby and Republican allies in Congress effectively blocked federal funding for firearms research, arguing that such study would undermine the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners… The CDC under Dr. Rochelle Walensky says that will now, finally, start to change."

"The number of murders in the United States jumped by nearly 30% in 2020 compared with the previous year in the largest single-year increase ever recorded in the country, according to official FBI statistics released Monday."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Locals in Del Rio, Texas, who spoke with Fox News overwhelmingly supported Border Patrol, despite recent viral images from their community that sparked criticism and an internal investigation." Funny how all these people who support the border patrol don't have names. Only one full name is given, and one first name for another. I'm sure their Canadian girlfriends also support the border patrol as well.

"British motorists desperate for fuel found service stations still closed and long lines at those with gasoline and diesel on Wednesday as the UK government prepared to deploy soldiers in an effort to end days of shortages."

"The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Thursday, but it's not just Democrats who are divided about whether to support the package. House Republicans, who regularly join Democrats in big numbers to approve transportation bills, are also split… The fight, though, is largely over messaging."

"The newly installed chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the force, still struggling six months after an insurrection that left its officers battled, bloodied and bruised, “cannot afford to be complacent.” The risk to lawmakers is higher than ever. And the threat from lone-wolf attackers is only growing."

"Supporters of Republicans’ controversial 'audit' of 2020 presidential election ballots have turned on each other after the partisan investigation failed to find proof of election malfeasance, with disaffected backers even circulating a fabricated rival report they claim shows interference by the 'deep state.'"

"Donald Trump is preparing to sue to block the release of White House records from his administration to the House select committee scrutinizing the 6 January attack on the Capitol by claiming executive privilege, potentially touching off an extended legal battle over disclosure."

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Sept 28

"Jupiter takes 12 Earth years to orbit the sun. During the Jovian year between 2009 and 2020, Hubble found, winds in the outer ring of the Great Red Spot increased by up to 8%. While the wind speed varied depending on when Hubble was looking at the storm, the telescope did track long-term increases in the rotation speed of the outer ring." Something is happening.

"Stunning video of a fireball streaking across the sky above North Carolina last week has been released. The American Meteor Society shared video taken Friday from the porch of a home in Rowland Pond, North Carolina, showing a massive fireball fall from the sky."

"A turned-over gravestone served as the perfect surface to make fudge for a woman living in Michigan… The monument was discovered in August on an estate auction site after the matriarch of the family was placed in a care facility for Alzheimer's, Stanaway said. A former citizen of Lansing recognized it was probably from a city cemetery and got in touch with the FOLHC, and they started investigating."

"In late June, the island republic of Nauru informed the International Seabed Authority (ISA) based in Kingston, Jamaica of its intention to start mining the seabed in two years’ time via a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, The Metals Company (TMC, until recently known as DeepGreen). Innocuous as it sounds, this note was a starting gun for a resource race on the planet’s last vast frontier: the abyssal plains that stretch between continental shelves deep below the oceans." What could go wrong? (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"The multibillion-dollar bankruptcy settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family is grounded in an opioid crisis that has injured or killed an untold number of Americans… But many of the 138,000 individuals who've filed claims for a death, expenses tied to their addiction or the birth of a child exposed to opioids during pregnancy, expect to receive little if anything from the deal."

"The daily pace of new Covid-19 vaccinations in the United States is the lowest it has been since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started tracking it in mid-January, data shows."

"Dozens of Massachusetts State Police troopers have put in their resignation papers following the state's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the State Police Association of Massachusetts said… Under Gov. Charlie Baker's executive order issued last month, all executive department employees are required to show proof of vaccination on or before Oct. 17, or they will be fired." Bye.

"Pfizer and BioNTech are another step closer to seeking authorization for young children to receive the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine, submitting data to the Food and Drug Administration that shows a 'robust' antibody response and 'favorable' safety outcomes in kids ages five to 11 who received the two-dose regimen in clinical trials."

"In fact, vaccinated people say the third dose approved by U.S. regulators last week shows that scientists are trying to make the shots more effective while 71% of unvaccinated Americans say it’s proof the vaccines don’t work, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation."

"An Arizona judge ruled that a ban on public school mask mandates, as well as a variety of other laws shoehorned into the state budget by Republican lawmakers, is unconstitutional… The ruling frees public school leaders across Arizona to require students, staff and visitors to wear masks on campus. The law banning that authority was scheduled to take effect on Wednesday."

"After more than 25 years of accusations and a federal court trial in New York that lasted seven weeks, R&B singer R. Kelly has been found guilty of charges including sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, racketeering and sex trafficking involving five victims. Kelly faces a possible sentence of 10 years to life in prison."

"Costco this week joined the long list of retailers sounding the alarm about escalating shipping prices and the accompanying supply chain issues. The warehouse retailer, which had a similar cautionary tone in May, was joined by athletic wear giant Nike and economic bellwethers FedEx and General Mills in discussing similar concerns." It's beginning to look expensive.

"California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday approved what he termed a “nation-leading” law requiring the garment industry to pay workers by the hour instead of for each piece of clothing they produce."

"There are calls for Britain’s key workers to be given priority access to fuel, as the panic buying of gasoline across the country continues… It is estimated that the U.K. currently has a shortage of around 100,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, which has disrupted deliveries and constrained the supply of goods and fuel."

"As if a cup of coffee wasn’t expensive enough, a confluence of factors is driving up farmers’ costs to grow the beans and it could begin filtering down to your local cafe before the end of the year."

"Ford Motor Co. on Monday announced plans to invest $11 billion to build several new plants to produce parts for electric vehicles, creating nearly 11,000 jobs… This company will pay for a new assembly plant to build all-electric F-Series trucks and three battery plants, including factories in Kentucky and Tennessee."

"German conservative leader Armin Laschet is facing mounting unrest within his party, after their historic defeat in federal elections… As he and the other party leaders met colleagues to decide their next steps, support for his bid to form a coalition drained away."

"Amid a Russian-backed advance, the growing threat of landmines and improvised explosives in the Central African Republic (CAR) points to a dangerous tactical shift in a new and unfolding guerrilla war."

"The Cyber Ninjas failed to prove fraud in the Arizona 2020 election, but former President Donald Trump's election fraud crusade is now proceeding as if they'd won -- pushing for more "forensic audits" and restrictive voting in that state and elsewhere across the country."

"The former President's criticism of Kemp now includes hyping Democrat Stacey Abrams as a preferable alternative to the GOP governor, whose crime against Trump was staying out of his attempt to overturn the Georgia 2020 election returns."

"Senate Republicans blocked a House-passed bill to suspend the debt limit and avert a government shutdown from advancing in the Senate on Monday… The move comes after Republicans had insisted that Democrats act alone to address the debt limit and leaves Congress without a clear plan to keep the government open with the threat of a potential shutdown looming by the end of the week."

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats on Monday that passage of the $550 billion infrastructure bill must not wait for President Joe Biden's multitrillion-dollar safety net bill, saying the larger package is not yet ready for a vote."

"Donald Trump’s letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demanding he pursue an 'audit' of the 2020 election set off a 'mad dash' in the governor’s office as aides sought to figure out just how serious the former president was, according to two sources familiar with the situation." Trump says jump and Abbott asks how high and when he can come back down.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Sept 27

"The seventh hurricane of the year has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and is crawling northwest at 8 mph, according to the National Hurricane Centre’s 5 a.m. update. Sam’s reach is relatively small, with its hurricane-force winds reaching 30 miles from its core and its tropical-storm-force winds extending 105 miles. Sam is 880 miles east-southeast from the northern Leeward Islands. The storm is forecast to decrease in forwarding speed over the next day."

"You'd think large galaxies in the early universe would have had plenty of 'fuel' left for new stars, but a recent discovery suggests that wasn't always the case. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found six early galaxies (about 3 billion years after the Big Bang) that were unusually 'dead' — that is, they'd run out of the cold hydrogen necessary for star formation. This was the peak period for star births, according to lead researcher Kate Whitaker, so the disappearance of that hydrogen is a mystery."

"It's a shining example of how home hardening measures can prevent houses from burning, even when they're surrounded by fire. Bradshaw and her husband built their home with concrete siding, a cement porch, no gutters or air vents on the metal roof, and no vegetation near the house. Those are all key fire-proofing measures experts recommend."

"Pfizer has started testing its potential COVID-19 treatment as a preventive medicine aimed at warding off the virus if a close contact gets it."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new studies Friday that show enforcing masks in schools helps reduce the spread of COVID-19… The CDC found that the K-12 schools that did not have mask requirements at the beginning of the school year were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID outbreaks than schools that required all people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask indoors from the first day of school." Shocking.

"New York state officials are bracing for staffing shortages when the state's health care worker vaccination mandate takes effect on Monday, and could be looking to the National Guard — as well as medical professionals from other states and countries — to help address them."

"So who exactly is exempt from getting a COVID-19 shot on medical grounds? Here is an explainer of what conditions qualify a person from being exempt from the vaccine for medical reasons… The FDA has a list of ingredients in all three COVID-19 vaccines that can be viewed here…"

"Kids should be able to go trick-or-treating this Halloween with a couple of caveats, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Sunday."

"Adequate rates of vaccination can help prevent the rise of new mutations that could force people to get booster after booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday… Covid-19 is killing so many people in Idaho that some funeral homes are running out of space to store the bodies."

"The state of Minnesota is on the verge of selling off a refrigerated warehouse that it bought in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in case it was needed as backup morgue."

"The bias that blinds: why some people get dangerously different medical care."

"Regulators in Maine said they found no permit violations stemming from thousands of fish deaths at an aquaculture operation off the state’s coast."

How goes Brexit? "As the British Medical Association called for emergency workers to be given priority for fuel supplies, Petrol Retailers Association chriman Brian Madderson said training had been taking place “in the background” for military personnel to drive tankers."

"Nomura’s Chief China Economist Ting Lu cut his forecast for Chinese GDP growth this year as factories shut down to comply with carbon emissions reduction targets."

"China is in the grip of a power crunch as a shortage of coal supplies, toughening emissions standards and strong demand from manufacturers and industry have pushed coal prices to record highs and triggered widespread curbs on usage."

"China bristled on Monday over Britain's decision to send a Royal Navy warship sailing through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, saying the act "harbored evil intentions." China claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has increased pressure on the small island in recent years to accept Beijing as its capital… The Royal Navy announced that the HMS Richmond, a frigate deployed as part of a U.K. aircraft carrier strike group, was sailing through the Taiwan Strait on Monday in a move that challenges Beijing's claim to the sensitive waterway."

"Some 5,000 refugees and migrants are currently in Serbia. Almost half are Afghans, who, like Bilal, began fleeing their country long before last month's Taliban takeover. European leaders now fear a large-scale influx of Afghan refugees amid the country's turmoil and risk of economic collapse."

"Olaf Scholz has some big shoes to fill… The German Finance Minister has the best shot at forming a new German government after leading his Social Democratic Party (SPD) to a narrow victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections."

"By now, we’re familiar with voter suppression tactics, from long voting lines to voter ID laws. On this week’s On the Media, hear how election subversion takes the anti-democratic playbook to the next level. Plus, how the Russian government is using bureaucracy to stifle elections — and the press."

"A federal judge said Monday that John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan four decades ago, can be freed from all his remaining restrictions next year if he continues to follow those rules and remains mentally stable."

"Federal investigators are seeking the cause of an Amtrak train derailment near a switch on tracks in the middle of vast farmland in far northern Montana that killed three people and left seven hospitalized over the weekend."

"Top Congressional Democrats worked through the weekend to untangle a snarl of competing demands from members of their own party on fiscal issues while continuing to battle Republicans over the nation's debt… Democrats are facing several critical deadlines this week: a potential government shutdown at the end of the day Thursday; the looming threat of federal default as the country nears the debt limit; a scheduled vote on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a related vote on as much as $3.5 trillion in spending promised by Democrats." .Is it October already?

"The House has already cleared a government funding package that would ward off a shutdown on Friday and suspend the debt ceiling through December 2022, essentially hitting pause on the issue through the midterm elections. But that measure is set to die as soon as Monday in the Senate, where the vast majority of Republicans staunchly oppose any debt limit-lifting measure. Congress still has no clear plan to address either fiscal deadline."

"Trump was in the middle of a fact-free rant about 'vicious' Democrats cheating on elections when he said 'they're destroying our country. Our country will not survive this. Our country will not survive.' Then he sniffed and shifted to immigration, saying 'look at where they're coming from,' clearly mimicking the 'great replacement theory' talking points that Tucker Carlson has been mainlining into homes across the country… These are all signs of the gathering storm."

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Linkee-poo Sunday Sept 26

"NASA has cleared its newest powerful Earth-observing satellite for a launch into orbit from the California coast on Monday (Sept. 27)."

"But in rural areas where vaccination rates are low and hiring is already difficult, hospital directors are worried there could be staffing shortages that force them to turn patients away."

"A federal appeals court has issued a temporary injunction against a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for New York City educators set to go into effect early next week, temporarily blocking enforcement while the case is sent to a three-judge circuit court panel for review."

"If you’re a parent in Arizona and your child’s school requires students to wear masks, Gov. Doug Ducey is offering $7,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds to help you send your child elsewhere… Interest in the program, and expansion of Arizona’s existing, state-funded school vouchers, has surged since the state began accepting applications in August. The Associated Press first reported that thousands of applications for the vouchers have already been started or completed by parents who object to mask requirements and other COVID-19 mitigation measures." Breaking public schools.

"The Taliban hanged a dead body from a crane in the main square of Herat city in western Afghanistan, a witness said Saturday, in a gruesome display that signaled a return to some of the Taliban's methods of the past."

"The fight to succeed popular, long-serving chancellor Angela Merkel could barely be tighter as Germans vote in parliamentary elections."

"Iceland has elected a female-majority parliament, a landmark for gender equality in the North Atlantic island nation, in a vote that saw centrist parties make the biggest gains."

"Voters in Switzerland on Sunday looked set to back a proposal to open civil marriage and the right to adopt children to same-sex couples, according to early indications published by Swiss broadcaster SRG… Projections showed 64% of voters had voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a nationwide referendum conducted under Switzerland's system of direct democracy. A final result is expected later in the day."

"U.S. officials are reopening an international border crossing in southern Texas that had been closed for more than a week. The port of entry at Del Rio was closed after thousands of migrants set up camp below the international bridge crossing."

"Taken together, the scathing criticism revealed the growing political cost of the disconnect between Biden’s promise of a fair and humane immigration system and his use of a Trump-era public health order to kick out migrants — a crack in the Democratic coalition that threatens the party’s morale and unity in advance of the 2022 midterms."

"Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday defended U.S. Border Patrol agents seen charging at migrants on horseback, saying he would hire them if they fear being fired." The market for abusive personalities is always open in conservative circles.

"The FBI is investigating an incident aboard a JetBlue flight where witnesses say a passenger violently assaulted a flight attendant while attempting to enter the flight galley and cockpit."

"Interestingly, the anti-choice movement doesn’t seem entirely happy that the lawsuits that enforce the abortion ban they championed are now actually arriving in Texas courts. John Sego, a legislative director of the anti-choice group Texas Right to Life, which supports SB8, expressed displeasure that the law is being enforced – well, exactly the way it was designed. He called the lawsuits 'self-serving legal stunts'. Yet he also claimed that 'Texas Right to Life is resolute in ensuring that [SB8] is fully enforced.' If Sego and other anti-choice groups want the law enforced, why do they oppose private citizens enforcing it, using the bill’s own remedy?"

"The task keeps coming back like a bad penny: Congress soon must raise the debt ceiling again. It will be almost the 100th time it has done so… After Republicans made a big issue over the debt ceiling in 2011 and 2013, roiling financial markets and nearly pushing the United States into default, the party partnered with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling — without much ado — three times under President Trump."

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., may not bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor Monday as she had previously committed to, she said Sunday."

"The disclosure marks a setback for the US Capitol Police and the US attorney’s office in their efforts to control how much footage from the Capitol’s closed-circuit video (CCV) system gets out. In the latest case, prosecutors argued that revealing the location and vantage points of more cameras could help “bad actors” trying to plan some future assault on the building. A judge concluded that argument was too speculative, however, and that the public had a strong interest in seeing videos that formed the basis for a recent plea deal."

"After the Anti-Defamation League renewed its call for Tucker Carlson to be fired from Fox News for voicing the racist 'great replacement' theory about immigration, the primetime host had a pithy response: 'Fuck them.'"

Tweet of my heart: @DeathMetalV I can't wait till they turn Mar-a-lago into a Spirit Halloween store. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

Friday, September 24, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday Sept 24

"Hurricane Sam formed in the Atlantic overnight and is expected to strengthen into a Category 4 storm, forecasters said Friday morning."

"In December, NASA will launch the most powerful telescope ever put into space. The James Webb Space Telescope will be able to study planets outside our solar system with unparalleled detail — including checking to see if their atmospheres give any indication that a planet is home to life as we know it."

"Fossilized footprints discovered in New Mexico indicate that early humans were walking across North America around 23,000 years ago, researchers reported Thursday… The first footprints were found in a dry lake bed in White Sands National Park in 2009. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey recently analyzed seeds stuck in the footprints to determine their approximate age, ranging from around 22,800 and 21,130 years ago." (Grokked from Dan)

"It's neither a bird nor a plane, but a winged microchip as small as a grain of sand that can be carried by the wind as it monitors such things as pollution levels or the spread of airborne diseases." But does it work, and can it actually gather and transmit data?

"Consumed by conspiracy theories claiming that doctors are preventing unvaccinated patients from receiving miracle cures or are even killing them on purpose, some people in anti-vaccine and pro-ivermectin Facebook groups are telling those with Covid-19 to stay away from hospitals and instead try increasingly dangerous at-home treatments, according to posts seen by NBC News over the past few weeks." JFC. I just can't. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"Hospitals and nursing homes in New York are bracing for the possibility that a statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers could lead to staff shortages when it takes effect Monday."

"Two people in New Mexico are suspected to have died as a result of taking ivermectin, a medicine not proven to treat COVID-19, according to state health officials."

"As an infectious diseases physician and scientist, I have been working to find new treatments for patients since the pandemic's beginning. Here's a look at some of them, with one caveat: While these medications might help many patients, none substitute for the vaccine, which is still the best defense against the virus." Kinda click-bait type article, but with some good information on both the progression of COVID-19 and when to use different treatments.

"The falling water levels at Lake Powell, the second-largest man-made reservoir in the US, could make the dam's hydroelectric power generation impossible as soon as next year, according to new projections released Wednesday by the US Bureau of Reclamation… The new modeling shows a 3% chance that Lake Powell, which is located on the Colorado River from northern Arizona to southern Utah, could drop below the minimum level needed to allow the lake's Glen Canyon Dam to generate hydroelectricity next year… In 2023, the chance of a shutdown grows to 34%, according to the projection." Wut?

How goes Brexit? "A big factor behind the problems is a lack of truck drivers. The U.K. is short tens of thousands of hauliers, as factors including Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic converge to create a supply-chain crunch."

"Tens of thousands of Black girls and women go missing every year. Last year, that figure was nearly 100,000. Yet their cases hardly ever grab national headlines… A journalist in California is doing what she can to try to change that, by telling as many of their stories as she can — and hopefully helping them get the justice they deserve."

"A Republican state lawmaker in Florida is proposing a bill that would ban most abortions as early as around six weeks, allow members of the public to sue anyone who helps end a pregnancy beyond that point and fine physicians $10,000 for each abortion they perform later in pregnancy." Because of course they are.

"A former Louisiana State Police trooper has been charged with a civil rights violation for pummeling a Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight — the first criminal case to emerge from federal investigations into troopers' beatings of at least three Black men."

"A months long hand recount of Maricopa County’s 2020 vote confirmed that President Joe Biden won and the election was not 'stolen' from former President Donald Trump, according to early versions of a report prepared for the Arizona Senate… The three-volume report by the Cyber Ninjas, the Senate’s lead contractor, includes results that show Trump lost by a wider margin than the county’s official election results… The draft audit report says, however, the election results are inconclusive."

"The one ironclad rule of friendship with Donald Trump is this: Eventually, he will turn on you… That time came on Thursday for South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has sacrificed much over the past four years to ingratiate himself with Trump, in the wake of the release of 'Peril,' a book on Trump's final year in office." Because that is the truth of autocrats, everyone is on the chopping block eventually.

Tweet of my heart: @jackcalifano "When rich people can’t get everything they want at Whole Foods instantly it’s called 'supply chain issues' but when the working class people in Flint can’t take a shower for five years it’s an 'unfortunate reality'" (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Sept 23

Melvin Van Peebles, and so it goes.

"Along with Andrea Amati and Andrea Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari dominated the so-called Golden Age of Violins (roughly 1660 to 1750), and the instruments they crafted remain the gold standard today in terms of acoustic quality… But scientists have been arguing for years about precisely why these instruments have such superior sound. A recent paper published in the journal Angewandte Chemie confirms a theory dating back to 2006: the secret lies in the chemicals used to soak the wood, most notably borax, zinc, copper, alum, and lime water." We knew this. Didn't we know this?

"In what officials call a key step to combat climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency is sharply limiting domestic production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners."

"The harmful health effects of air pollution kick in at lower levels than previously thought, the World Health Organization said Wednesday as it set a new standard for policymakers and the public in the first update of its air quality guidelines in 15 years."

"After being pummeled by two tropical storms that submerged basements, cracked home foundations and destroyed belongings, Northeastern U.S. residents still in the throes of recovery are being hit with another unexpected blow: Thousands of families are now swamped with financial losses because they didn’t have flood insurance."

"COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans." And now, approximately 3 weeks from the spike in infection rates comes the spike in deaths.

"The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization Wednesday for a third dose of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to be given to three groups — those 65 and older, those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 and those at risk of developing 'serious complications' due to 'frequent institutional or occupational exposure,' likely including frontline health care workers and those in prisons. The authorization makes the Biden administration's plan to roll out booster shots this week at least partially possible."

"It’s not because of a lack of information. Torres knows that pregnant women face a higher risk of severe illness if they catch Covid, and she has had discussions with her obstetrician about the data showing the vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their babies. She has considered getting vaccinated, but alarming claims about the vaccine that she and her husband have read online have made her question whether it is the right thing to do."

"A day after assuming his job, Florida's newly appointed surgeon general on Wednesday signed new protocols allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they are asymptomatic after being exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19." Not good. Including the changing of the rule on masking, by making a new rule that says exactly the same thing, but because it's a "new" rule, the previous court challenges are dismissed.

"Public schools have struggled for years with teacher shortages, particularly in math, science, special education and languages. But the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem. The stress of teaching in the COVID-19 era has triggered a spike in retirements and resignations. Schools also need to hire staffers like tutors and special aides to make up for learning losses and more teachers to run online school for those not ready to return." Wow, the same thing is happening in hospitals.

"Police in Canada are looking for a man after he allegedly physically assaulted a nurse for vaccinating his wife without the man’s consent, as reported by Reuters."

"Federal Reserve policymakers now think inflation will run hotter than previously expected this year, but the central bank still believes price hikes will moderate in 2022 as pandemic pressures fade… At the conclusion of a two-day policy meeting Wednesday, members of the Fed's rate-setting committee predicted an annual inflation rate of 4.2% by year's end. That's up from 3.4% they were forecasting in June. However, inflation is still expected to cool to about 2.2% next year." I have a feeling they'll call a special meeting before December.

"Emergency unemployment benefits in the U.S. expired two weeks ago, but employers who expected an increase in job applications are still largely waiting for them to roll in… Federal programs that had offered an extra $300 per week for jobless Americans, provided extended benefits for the long-term unemployed and gave special aid for the self-employed expired Sept. 6. Economists and companies expected a wave of interest from workers as the financial lifeline was pulled away, hoping it would provide the incentive to get back into the workplace… That hasn’t happened, according to employers across industries." Conservative business philosophies that try to include social engineering have always failed. Always. The world doesn't operate they way they think it does, and Ayn Rand wrote fiction. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid rose last week for a second straight week to 351,000, a sign that the delta variant of the coronavirus may be disrupting the job market’s recovery, at least temporarily."

"Manufacturers will be forced to create a universal charging solution for phones and small electronic devices, under a new rule proposed by the European Commission (EC)… The aim is to reduce waste by encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers when buying a new device… All smartphones sold in the EU must have USB-C chargers, the proposal said." Well the industry most certainly wouldn't do this on their own.

"California has become the first state to implement a law that addresses working conditions for warehouse workers, like those for Amazon and other major companies… Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 701, which takes effect in the new year, into law on Wednesday. The law aims to address the impact of quotas on worker injuries and health."

"Nearly 1.5 million customers have been hit in just two weeks by energy firms collapsing under soaring gas prices… Avro Energy and Green ceased trading on Wednesday and their 830,000 combined customers face being switched to a new, potentially more expensive, provider… Green's boss, Peter McGirr, told the BBC he had done nothing wrong and said bigger firms would soon face problems… However, the government has cooled on the idea of loans to the industry, says BBC business editor Simon Jack."

"Dozens of angry and worried investors have picketed Evergrande's headquarters in the southern city of Shenzhen for weeks. They bought investment products from Evergrande that now look nearly worthless, as its Hong Kong-listed stock plummeted by nearly 90% in value this year… Evergrande is set to default on at least one tranche of bond interest payments totaling around $120 million, due at the end of September." When the bill comes due.

"Pakistan’s government is proposing that the international community develop a road map that leads to diplomatic recognition of the Taliban — with incentives if they fulfill its requirements — and then sit down face to face and talk it out with the militia’s leaders." How does "No" work for you?

"One of the founders of the Taliban and the chief enforcer of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law when they last ruled Afghanistan said the hard-line movement will once again carry out executions and amputations of hands, though perhaps not in public." The kinder, gentler Taliban of today.

"The head of the U.N. food agency is warning that 16 million people in Yemen "are marching towards starvation" and says food rations for millions in the war-torn nation will be cut in October unless new funding arrives." The cost of war is not fully carried by those who fight it.

"A woman with Down syndrome lost a court challenge against the British government Thursday over a law allowing the abortion up until birth of a fetus with the condition."

"He once scavenged through garbage heaps to help feed his family in one of Manila's most distressed slums. But today, Isko Moreno has launched himself on a bid to rule the Philippines… Moreno, the Manila City mayor and former actor, announced Wednesday he's running to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte, whose term ends in June 2022."

"Democrats are blasting the Biden administration for its treatment of Haitian migrants at the Southern border and want answers from officials after videos from other outlets appear to show border patrol officials using aggressive tactics when confronting them… The requests comes days after videos taken by Al Jazeera and Reuters appear to show law enforcement officers on horseback including authorities swinging long reins near migrants who crossed the US-Mexico border near Del Rio, Texas."

"Migrants whom the U.S. is forcibly returning to Haiti are expressing anger, frustration and desperation when they arrive at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince… The situation devolved into chaos Tuesday when a group of migrants rushed to try to get on a plane heading back to the United States."

"Daniel Foote, the US special envoy for Haiti, has handed in his resignation to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, saying he will 'not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees' from the US-Mexico border… He adds that the US policy approach to Haiti remains 'deeply flawed.'"

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain, Tucker Carlson fully embraces "replacement theory." Carlson goes full-on white supremacist.

"The legal architect of the Texas abortion ban has argued in a supreme court brief that overturning Roe v Wade, the landmark decision which guarantees a right to abortion in the US, could cause women to practice abstinence from sexual intercourse as a way to 'control their reproductive lives'." Just say no, ladies. This is what conservatives believe. That everything is wrong and if only we return to some non-existent past time it would all be better.

"Tyrone Clark has spent most of his adult life behind bars for a 1973 Boston rape he always insisted he didn’t commit… Now the 66-year-old Massachusetts prisoner may see freedom. Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins says she is seeking to vacate Clark’s rape conviction."

"A federal judge dismissed some of the biggest remaining lawsuits over Ohio State's failure to stop decades-old sexual abuse by now-deceased team doctor Richard Strauss, saying Wednesday it's indisputable Strauss abused hundreds of young men but agreeing with OSU's argument that the legal window for such claims had passed."

"Some people call them futuristic; others say they're a new take on the classic double-breasted tunic. But it seems everyone has a reaction to the new Space Force uniforms that the chief of space operations, Gen. John Raymond, unveiled at a conference this week." Rolls eyes.

"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats are playing a dangerous game by not raising the debt ceiling to avoid a default on the US's bills, even though it's one he started… 'My advice to this Democratic government, the president, the House and Senate: don't play Russian roulette with our economy,' he said at a Wednesday press conference. 'Step up and raise the debt ceiling and cover all that you've been engaged in all year long'… McConnell isn't budging from his refusal to renew the nation's ability to pay its bills, known as the debt ceiling." Mitch McConnell can kiss my fury ass. This is his warning that they will shut down the government, for a third time. It didn't work the first two times, and it won't work this time either, no matter how much they think they can spin it.

"An outside ethics group filed ethics complaints Wednesday against seven U.S. House lawmakers — four Democrats and three Republicans — over failing to report stock trades… Five of the seven lawmakers sit on the powerful House Financial Services Committee."

"A Michigan lawmaker told another lawmaker that he hoped her 'car explodes on the way in,' according to text messages filed in court to support a request for a personal protection order." I'm trying to figure out how that statement can be "taken out of context", as the attorney for the asshole states.

"In Arizona, the end appears in sight for a widely discredited election review. The GOP-led state Senate plans to release findings from that effort Friday… But similar reviews are only just beginning elsewhere. That includes in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — states won by President Biden last year, and with Republican-led legislatures and Democratic governors."

"The march to unearth Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 secrets has shifted into a sprint… In interviews, six members of the House panel investigating the Capitol attack made clear that they’re prepared to fly past any obstacles they encounter, mindful of Trump’s past success at stymieing congressional investigators… The calendar makes their job tougher: Panel members know they need to show results quickly as the midterms bear down, given Democrats' thin majority."

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday Sept 22

"A 3,500-year-old clay tablet that was looted from an Iraqi museum 30 years ago is headed back to Iraq… Known as the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, it was acquired by the company Hobby Lobby in 2014 for display in the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. U.S. authorities seized it in 2019, saying it was stolen and needed to be returned."

"In a significant change with implications for future exploration missions, NASA will announce today that it is splitting the duties of its human spaceflight office into two segments."

"All evidence points to the fact that Mars once had flowing water, but numerous flybys, orbiters, landers and rovers have confirmed one undeniable fact — any liquid water that was once on its surface is now long gone… A study out of Washington University in St. Louis might have found the reason: Mars, which is about half the size of Earth, and just over one-tenth the mass of our own watery world, might just be too small."

"The delta surge appears to be peaking nationally, and cases and deaths will likely decline steadily now through the spring without a significant winter surge, according to a new analysis… by a consortium of researchers advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… The most likely scenario… is that children do get vaccinated and no super-spreading variant emerges. In that case, the combo model forecasts that new infections would… drop from about 140,000 today now to about 9,000 a day by March… Deaths from COVID-19 would fall from about 1,500 a day now to fewer than 100 a day by March 2022." Yeah, Bob. I'll believe it when I see it. While Delta is horrible, it is not the worst variant. It is, however, able to out compete those other variants for now. Also, there's a huge uncertainty interval there and a lot fo assumptions being made which, so far, haven't proven out. Also note the projections for the long term about SARS-CoV2.

"A new study has shown that the symptoms that the (SARS-CoV2 Delta) infection presents have also changed. According to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms of COVID are…" As someone in the healthcare industry, let me tell you that while "A fever or raised temperature" (ie over 100°F) is a sure giveaway (now being mitigated by other diseases), most COVID-19 patients do not have fever.

"If I am the only person wearing a mask in a store or other indoor location, am I really protected from infection?" The answer is "mostly", although protection would be greater if everyone wore a mask.

"President Biden is set to announce on Wednesday that the United States is buying 500 million more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to donate to countries around the world, a pledge that will bring the total promised U.S. vaccine donations to more than 1.1 billion." Good.

"Sales of previously owned homes declined 2% in August from July to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.88 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors… Sales were 1.5% lower than August 2020 for the first annual decline. Sales, however, are still above pre-pandemic levels."

"The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday that it will prioritize inspections on hot days, target high-risk industries nationally, and, as reported earlier this summer, begin developing a federal rule to protect workers from heat-related illnesses, a move long sought by worker advocates."

"Two weeks after the 61-foot-tall statue of Robert E. Lee was removed in Richmond, Va., the former confederate capital city will become home a new statue, this one commemorating the abolition of slavery."

"Fewer than one-third of Americans want to see the Roe v. Wade decision overturned, according to a set of three polls released over the past week, with key elements of Texas' restrictive new abortion law also garnering relatively little support in the polls." Unfortunately that 20% includes a majority of SCOTUS.

"Abortion-inducing drugs in Texas will now be harder to obtain after the state's Republican governor recently signed restrictive legislation into law, weeks after another strict abortion law went into effect in the state." In case you didn't go to that Hill link the other day.

"When residents and city officials pressed ENO about the catastrophic power failure, company executives explained that the outages could not have been avoided during a big storm like Hurricane Ida. But an investigation by ProPublica and NPR finds that the utility, along with its parent company, Entergy, failed to take the necessary steps to protect its power grid and customers against outages, despite opportunities to rebuild with more resilient systems after several big hurricanes." The company made $1.4b in profit in 2020, but is seeking federal grants to upgrade the system the residents/users have already paid for. This kind of shit will only stop when we start putting corporate executives in jail for fiduciary failures. We had a similar problem with FirstEnergy when I was a councilman. It took us putting the village's power payments into escrow to get their attention. They new 20 years previous to that time they had to upgrade our supply line and had to do it by 10 years previous to that date. It took us 7 years to get an updated supply, and we had to threaten to use the escrow account several times to force movement. It shouldn't require that.

"Many Haitian migrants camped in a small Texas border town are being released in the United States, two U.S. officials said, undercutting the Biden administration’s public statements that the thousands in the camp faced immediate expulsion."

"The FBI has confirmed that remains found in Wyoming Sunday are the body of 22-year-old Gabrielle Petito. The mystery around the death of the photogenic young white woman with a carefree social media presence has been headline news across the country… And that's frustrating to people who say the media ignores an epidemic of missing and murdered Native American women in the state." Not to mention the number of POC who are missing.

"In On These Grounds, an expansive, insightful and infuriating documentary about police brutality in the public education system, former school resource officer Ben Fields makes his case. Fields, a hulking and defensive white cop, meekly looks at the camera, clinically explaining away his actions when confronting a 16-year-old Black student identified as Shakara at Spring Valley high in South Carolina. The violent incident caught on multiple videos immediately went viral and led to his dismissal." (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"After the FBI seized Joseph Ruiz’s life savings during a raid on a safe deposit box business in Beverly Hills, the unemployed chef went to court to retrieve his $57,000. A judge ordered the government to tell Ruiz why it was trying to confiscate the money… It came from drug trafficking, an FBI agent responded in court papers… The FBI was wrong. When Ruiz produced records showing the source of his money was legitimate, the government dropped its false accusation and returned his money… Ruiz is one of roughly 800 people whose money and valuables the FBI seized from safe deposit boxes they rented at the U.S. Private Vaults store in a strip mall on Olympic Boulevard." It's way past time to reform the process of civil forfeitures. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"The top U.S. military officer met with his Russian counterpart Wednesday, against the backdrop of U.S. struggles to get military basing rights and other counterterrorism support in countries bordering Afghanistan — a move Moscow has flatly opposed." Because, again, that's part of his actual job.

"Former US president Donald Trump has sued his estranged niece and The New York Times over a 2018 story about his family’s wealth and tax practices that was partly based on confidential documents she provided to the newspaper’s reporters."

"President Joe Biden's failure to name someone to lead the Food and Drug Administration, more than 10 months after the election, has flummoxed public health experts who say it's baffling for the agency to be without a permanent leader during a national health crisis."

"The House passed a bill Tuesday that would both prevent a government shutdown and suspend the debt limit in a step toward preventing possible economic calamity… The chamber approved the plan in a 220-211 vote. All Democrats voted for it and all Republicans opposed it… Congress has to pass a funding plan by Sept. 30 to prevent a shutdown. Separately, the U.S. will exhaust all of its options to keep paying its bills sometime in October, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has told congressional leaders." Here we go again.

"Missouri’s chief disciplinary counsel is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to suspend the law licenses of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis last year… In filings with the court, the chief disciplinary counsel, Alan D. Pratzel, cited the couple’s guilty pleas to misdemeanors stemming from the incident."

"A rush of new and shocking behind-the-scenes disclosures about how then-President Donald Trump sought to thwart the Constitution and the will of voters makes a clear case that America came closer to a coup earlier this year than previously known… The fresh evidence also shows what many people in Trump's inner circle knew in January: His case to stay in power was meritless, but an unchained commander in chief chose to listen to acolytes pushing wild conspiracies. Some of those who knew the truth refused to speak up, even as American democracy came under attack."

"Two veteran Republican campaign operatives — including one who got a pardon from then-President Donald Trump one month before he left office — are charged in a new federal indictment with funneling $25,000 from a Russian national into the Trump campaign in 2016… Jesse Benton, 43, and Doug Wead, 75, made brief appearances Monday at a video hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, pleading not guilty to six felony charges including facilitating a campaign contribution by a foreign national, acting as a straw donor and causing the filing of false campaign finance reports." Man, Russians are still falling out of the trees.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Sept 21

"According to researchers at UC Berkeley, opportunistic fungi are killing these trees. California's climate change-fueled drought, which has persisted for the better part of two decades, has stressed the trees and made them vulnerable to parasites… Climate change has stoked a host of threats to trees, not just in California but across the country. Extreme storms, droughts, disease and insects are stressing and killing trees, and these trees pose a growing threat of wildfires and to grid reliability, many large utilities say." Mostly told from the perspective of power companies and having trees fall on lines, and the effects of climate change on their tree trimming operations.

"NASA plans to retire the International Space Station by the end of this decade, so the U.S. space agency is turning to private companies to build new space stations in orbit – and expects to save more than $1 billion annually as a result… NASA earlier this year unveiled the Commercial LEO Destinations project, with plans to award up to $400 million in total contracts to as many as four companies to begin development of private space stations."

"People who have had a stroke appear to regain more hand and arm function if intensive rehabilitation starts two to three months after the injury to their brain… The finding challenges the current practice of beginning rehabilitation as soon as possible after a stroke and suggests intensive rehabilitation should go on longer than most insurance coverage allows…"

"COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did — approximately 675,000… The U.S. population a century ago was just one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time."

"They're a fall staple in most communities across the United States: flu shot clinics… But this year many will offer something extra -- Covid-19 shots."

"Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday a second shot of its Covid-19 vaccine given about two months after the first increased its effectiveness to 94 percent in the United States against moderate to severe forms of the disease." So now they'll all be two shots.

"Brick-and-mortar real estate may seem like the only tangible thing left in an increasingly virtual world, but it too is being taken over by artificial intelligence… Some of the biggest names in the business, such as Compass, Zillow and LoanSnap, are now employing AI to help find buyers the perfect mortgage and the perfect home. And for real estate agents, it may already be a game-changer." The algorithms are fucked.

"Senior politicians in Germany expressed shock over the weekend killing of a young gas station clerk who asked a customer to wear a face mask, and they warned Tuesday against the radicalization of people who oppose the country’s pandemic restrictions."

"There is deep shock and a day of mourning in Perm, after a gunman killed six people and wounded 24 others at the local university… At the university they instinctively knew how to act. Students told me they barricaded themselves inside classes and kept away from windows. Some hid on the floor and under desks."

"Russia was responsible for killing Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian agent turned Kremlin critic who died in London by polonium poisoning in 2006, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said Tuesday."

The link is from the Hill, but I couldn't find another non-paywalled source… "Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) last week signed a new abortion bill into law, further restricting access to the procedure in the state… Senate Bill 4 — which the Texas Legislature approved during the special session that ended on Sept. 2 — bans the use of abortion-inducing drugs in the state seven weeks into a pregnancy, according to The Dallas Morning News."

"Throughout the pandemic, religious rights advocates have protested some public health measures like bans on large gatherings. Now, some Americans are making the case for religious exemptions to President Biden's new workplace vaccine mandate. On this week’s On the Media, why religious protections are deliberately vague. Plus, hear how the current Supreme Court has been quietly bolstering the power of Christian interest groups. And, a look at climate coverage during storm season, and how the fossil fuel industry became so good at selling its own story."

"The twin cities are practically photo-negatives of one another: Benton Harbor is 85% Black; St Joseph is about 85% white. In Benton Harbor, more than 45% of residents live below the poverty line; cross the bridge into St Joseph and the poverty rate is just 7%, well below the state average. And while Benton Harbor has struggled for years with lead-contaminated water, those problems have not appeared to plague its neighbor."

"Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday said he was 'horrified' by images that appear to show US Border Patrol agents on horseback confronting Haitian refugees at the US border."

"The U.S. flew Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland Sunday and tried blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico in a massive show of force that signaled the beginning of what could be one of America's swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants or refugees in decades." Let's say that denying people their human right to asylum is what we want to be about (I disagree), but that doesn't mean we treat our fellow humans like animals.

The whackaloons grow upset… "White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki has an odd problem on her hands: a longtime White House correspondent from an obscure Christian website — that publishes little or no actual reporting — is raising a fuss over no longer being allowed to enter her personal office whenever he wishes. This previously unreported West Wing drama has led the reporter in question to call for an investigation."

"Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has ruled against Democrats' efforts to include a massive immigration reform effort in their $3.5 trillion proposed spending bill, dealing the party a setback that very likely closes the door on efforts to include a pathway to citizenship in the partisan legislation."

"Canadian voters have narrowly awarded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a third term in a snap parliamentary election, but he fell short of his goal of winning an outright majority for his Liberal Party."

"Early voting is already underway in Virginia's election, ahead of Election Day in November, and at the top of the ticket is the governor's race — the first major competitive contest since Texas' new abortion restrictions went into effect. For Democrats, it's also a major test of how much opposition to that law might motivate voters, even if they don't live in Texas, ahead of next year's elections, where control of Congress will be decided." Dear Democratic Party, I don't care if Terry McAuliffe wins in a torrential downpour of votes, I still want you to get your asses out there and sell the ideas of the party, and the candidates, like you're down by 10 points.

"Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had a clear and dire message for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: The US economy, still emerging from a pandemic-driven economic collapse, can't afford a self-inflicted catastrophe."

Monday, September 20, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Sept 20

"A volcano on Spain’s Atlantic Ocean island of La Palma erupted Sunday after a weeklong buildup of seismic activity, prompting authorities to speed up evacuations for 1,000 people as lava flows crept toward isolated homes on the mountain."

"Apollo’s sanctuary at Delphi is the stuff of legends… For over a thousand years, the famous oracle foretold the futures and fortunes of the city-states and heroes of ancient Greece… This thread explores whether she was stoned on geological vapors". A twitter thread.

Inspiration4 has returned to Earth.

"Surges in coronavirus cases in several U.S. states this week, along with staffing and equipment shortages, are exacting a mounting toll on hospitals and their workers even as the number of new admissions nationwide ebbs, leading to warnings at some facilities that care would be rationed." I can tell you a lot of the talk at the hospital is about finding a way out, cause we're all tired of this shit. And on top of the COVID spike hitting hospitalizations, we're also in the middle of a general healthcare spike (normal injuries, diseases).

"Data shows health care workers have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine at a higher rate than the general population: 73% versus 64% of non-health care workers. And many may assume that people who work in health care industry are more enthusiastic about the vaccine and less apprehensive." Yeah, nah. Also, they say the problem with nurses (who are stand ins for a host of medical workers) is education. No, it's misinformation. It's not that they can't tell a good study from a bad one, it's that they believe sources who are lying to them. Healthcare workers are humans as well, and just as susceptible to misinformation campaigns (and also political beliefs and alignment) as the rest of the population. Doctors included. Compound that with the fact that healthcare workers have been feeling like we've been thrown into the fire with little support from management/administration and there is a boiling cauldron of feelings that can be channeled into the thought, "You can't tell me what to do with my body."

"The challenge for researchers has been to figure out whether a safe dose could be effective, says Bristow. Numerous studies have been published and a few large trials are still underway… Ivermectin research on COVID-19 published to date does not look promising, according to researchers who have closely considered the evidence… 'You have a large number of trials that have been done. Many of them are poorly done. They're too small, they're too short, they don't measure the right things,; says Dr. Peter Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a former associate commissioner at the FDA… And at least two influential preprints that supported the use of ivermectin were later retracted when they were found to contain flawed or fabricated data." You know, dog shit was once used to cure "blindness." And people believed in it's efficacy just as much (and for the same reasons) people believe Ivermectin helps with COVID-19.

"Dr. Anthony Fauci defended the Food and Drug Administration panel’s decision to reject offering a third booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to the general U.S. population… Fauci added that he would support a third dose if future data shows it’s effective. As the FDA continues to gather new information on boosters, convincing unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated remains the priority."

"Homebuilders in the single-family construction market are feeling better, as lumber prices are way down from sky-high levels and buyer demand is growing… Builder sentiment rose 1point in September to 76, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. It was the first increase in three months… Sentiment stood at 83 in September of last year and then set a record high of 90 last November. It then dropped off dramatically when lumber prices spiked and supply chain issues hampered construction."

"At its peak, the women in this collective (No Sex for Fish), living in Nduru Beach and neighboring communities, had obtained some 30 boats with their initial grant from PEPFAR… But when we visited in 2019, a number of the wooden boats had been damaged by time and use. The women were preparing a new grant application… Then came two unforeseen blows that struck simultaneously in early 2020: catastrophic flooding and the global pandemic."

"The Queen's Gambit on Netflix won over tens of millions of viewers last year, triggering a national run on chess sets and making an instant icon out of its fictional protagonist… And that's not all it did, according to one real-life champion. Georgian chess legend Nona Gaprindashvili — who made history as the world's first female grandmaster — alleges the show belittled her career and damaged her reputation with a single sentence."

"Emal Ahmadi, whose 3-year-old daughter Malika was killed on Aug. 29, when the U.S. hellfire missile struck his elder brother's car, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the family demands Washington investigate who fired the drone and punish the military personnel responsible for the strike… Ahmadi said the family is also seeking financial compensation for their losses and demanded that several members of the family be relocated to a third country, without specifying which country."

"Protesting a Texas law which outlaws abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and empowers citizens to sue providers and anyone who helps them, a San Antonio doctor said he had provided an abortion beyond the new legal limit."

As always, the story is a little more complicated that first reported. About the fight outside a NYC restaurant… "Security camera footage reviewed by The New York Times shows three women, who were with several other people, being ushered into the restaurant after showing documentation near the entrance. Several minutes later, three men arrive to join the group, but only one of the three shows a vaccination card, lawyers for both sides said. A short time later, after the three women, who are Black, have joined the men outside, the fight breaks out."

More guns make us safer, except… "Three people were shot and wounded at a baby shower in Pennsylvania Saturday evening after an argument over gifts, Lower Burrell Police Chief John Marhefka said in a press briefing."

"Hundreds of people turned up for a far-right rally at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, amid a heightened security presence by the U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies."

"In the same brief, which calls for Roe to be overturned, (Former Texas solicitor general Jonathan Mitchell, who played a pivotal role in designing the legal framework of the state’s near-total abortion ban) and co-counsel Adam Mortara, an anti-abortion activist and lawyer who clerked for the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, said such a decision could open the door for other 'lawless' rights and protections to be reversed, including the right to have gay sex and the right to same-sex marriage… The lawyers argued that while it was not necessary for the high court to immediately overrule the legal cases that enshrine those rights, 'neither should the court hesitate to write an opinion that leaves those decisions hanging by a thread'… Those cases… were 'far less hazardous to human life', they said, but just 'as lawless as Roe'." It was never really about abortion, it was about rolling back the sexual revolution and social progress.

"The Hillsborough County Republican Party alerted federal election regulators Tuesday that it may file its monthly campaign finance reports late because a key member of the organization died Saturday from COVID-19." It's like a rotten onion, you keep peeling back layers saying, "Yeah, no, not clear yet." Seriously, nobody was able to audit this guy's work? That's malfeasance. Also, totally self-inflicted harm here. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"This slimy story… reveals how a crew of lobbyists, political consultants, and big-money donors seemingly masqueraded as grassroots tea-party populists in a bid to bolster McCarthy’s credibility with Trump supporters. The point of this scheme was to help McCarthy defeat a far-right challenger in an important intra-party election, elevating him to become the House GOP leader and ensuring that a corporate ally remained at the head of the party. For all of Trump’s bluster about draining the swamp, the dark-money campaign to elevate McCarthy shows how the GOP’s corporate enablers not only endured but also adapted their tactics to be murkier than ever — all while ensuring that the future of the Republican Party remained in friendly hands." (Grokked From Xeni Jardin)

"When voters in some states created new commissions to handle the politically thorny process of redistricting, the hope was that the bipartisan panelists could work together to draw new voting districts free of partisan gerrymandering… Instead, cooperation has proved elusive." Gerrymandering again.

"What we didn't know is that Pence really didn't want to fulfill his legal obligations… A new book from The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa includes details that haven't previously been reported about just how eager the then-vice president was to do the wrong thing… To be sure, the earlier cheers for Pence were already dubious. He chose not to participate in a coup. I'm glad, but that's a low bar for any elected official to clear." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"With denial of President Joe Biden's victory at the core of the pro-Trump movement, demands for partisan election investigations styled after the one authorized by Republicans in Arizona — focused in a county Biden won — have proliferated. Now, a push to revisit November's results is underway or being called for in at least nine counties Trump won by more than 24 points." Remember in 2017 when Trump supports said, "He won, get over it"?

"A lawyer for Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg told a judge Monday that more indictments are expected in the criminal tax-fraud case against former President Donald Trump’s company and its longtime executive… That judge said he anticipates a trial taking place in late August or early September of 2022." Ooo, just in time for the mid-terms. And all at the request of the Trump Organization lawyers.