No doorways, no windows, no walls
No shelter here on the ground
No standing and no safe place to fall
Just the promise of this distant sound
Bells are ringing all over the world

Friday, October 29, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday Oct 29

"Today, one popular version of the story tells how the missionaries on Iona were working to build the first chapel on the island. Each day, the builders would make good progress, but by the next morning they were dismayed to discover that the building was in ruins… After some time, St Columba received a 'divine intimation' that one of the monks must be buried alive in the foundations of the chapel order to secure the building." The best part is when they were feeling guilty, they dug the guy up and he said, "Hey, Hell ain't so bad" and they went "Nope" and buried his ass once again.

"These 4 charts explain why the stakes are so high at the U.N. climate summit." We're boned.

"In reality, it's a look at the red giant star CW Leonis as photographed by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope—just in time for celebrating Halloween with creepy celestial sights… The orange-red 'cobwebs' are dusty clouds of sooty carbon engulfing the dying star."

"Scientists revealed the latest discoveries on Jupiter, including surprising findings about the planet's Great Red Spot and the cyclonic storms swirling at the poles, in a NASA press conference on Thursday."

"A major solar flare erupted from the sun on Thursday (Oct. 28) in one of the strongest storms of our star's current weather cycle… The sun fired off an X1-class solar flare, its most powerful kind of flare, that peaked at 11:35 a.m. EDT (1535 GMT), according to an alert from the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), which tracks space weather events." The coronal mass ejection is expected to hit Earth this weekend. So those of you in the northern parts of the world can be on the look out for increased northern lights.

"Facebook's new corporate name is Meta, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday, in an apparent effort to recast the company's public image from battered social network to tech innovator focused on building the next generation of online interaction, known as the 'metaverse.'"

"There’s nothing that Silicon Valley loves more than the next big thing, and after years of murmurs, the next big thing has suddenly become the metaverse, which big tech is calling the next generation of the internet. The metaverse is a catch-all term for a connected set of immersive virtual experiences that you explore online via your three-dimensional avatar, a character on the screen that may or may not resemble what you look like in the real world." I've seen this movie before. No. Really, it was a movie. But I've also have lived long enough to have been promised the metaverse 3 times already. Neither time has it worked out. Mostly because, once again, techbros have confused metaphor with reality.

"Health equity advocates see President Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide dental coverage to those on Medicare, nearly half of whom did not visit a dentist in 2018 — well before the pandemic paused dental appointments for many people. The rates were even higher for Black (68%), Hispanic (61%) and low-income (73%) seniors."

"E-cigarettes could be prescribed by England's National Health Service under plans to cut smoking rates in the country… The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is publishing updated guidance which could allow e-cigarette products to be prescribed for those who want to stop smoking, the UK government said in a statement on Friday."

"A cheap antidepressant reduced the need for hospitalization among high-risk adults with COVID-19 in a study hunting for existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat coronavirus… Researchers tested the pill used for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder because it was known to reduce inflammation and looked promising in smaller studies."

"Double jabbed people are catching Covid and passing it on to those they live with, warn experts who have studied UK household cases… Individuals who have had two vaccine doses can be just as infectious as those who have not been jabbed." Ta-da!

"The U.S. economy grew at a 2% rate in the third quarter, its slowest gain of the pandemic-era recovery, as supply chain issues and a marked deceleration in consumer spending stunted the expansion, the Commerce Department reported Thursday."

"Exxon said Friday that its third-quarter profit was the highest in years as improving demand, higher commodity prices and streamlined operations boosted results."

"The chief executive of ExxonMobil, Darren Woods, was accused of lying to Congress on Thursday after he denied that the company covered up its own research about oil’s contribution to the climate crisis."

How goes Brexit? "The UK could respond in turn if France goes ahead with threats amid a dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights, the environment secretary has said, warning that 'two can play at that game'… France said it could stop UK boats landing in its ports if the row over licences was not resolved by Tuesday."

"A Guantanamo Bay prisoner who went through the brutal U.S. government interrogation program after the 9/11 attacks described it openly for the first time Thursday, saying he was left terrified and hallucinating from techniques that the CIA long sought to keep secret."

"President Joe Biden gave Pope Francis a deeply personal challenge coin during his trip to the Vatican on Friday, marking the gift with a moment of light-heartedness that nods to a long tradition in the US military… In video footage provided by Vatican Television, the two men were seen exchanging a number of gifts, including what's called a challenge coin -- historically collectable pieces of recognition that originated in the military."

"Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois who has been a strong critic of former President Donald Trump, announced in a video Friday morning he is not running for reelection."

"America is an outlier when it comes to paid family leave — a matter many Democrats had hoped to fix with President Biden's sweeping domestic spending plan… But the latest framework — which was cut down from its original size to satisfy centrists and which Biden unveiled Thursday — drops paid leave."

"Those searing images, along with years of bitter rhetoric, are costing Trump money. Revenues from some of his high-end properties have declined, vacancies in office buildings have increased and his lenders are warning that the company’s revenues may not be sufficient to cover his debt payments, according to Trump’s financial disclosures as president, Trump Organization records filed with government agencies, and reports from companies that track real-estate company finances." Aw, that's really too bad. You know, they made Jimmy Carter sell his family's farm when he became president.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Oct 28

Mort Sahl, and so it goes.

"A nor'easter that strengthened into a 'bomb cyclone' left hundreds of thousands without electricity in New England by Wednesday morning, and strong winds and heavy rains will continue in places until the storm moves into the Atlantic later in the day."

"In April, President Biden unveiled the United States' most ambitious plan ever to cut emissions that drive climate change, and he urged other nations to follow. Now, days before Biden prepares for a pivotal climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, the White House's keystone legislative plan to tackle climate disruption appears to be dead, sunk by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin."

"The Department of Defense says climate change is already challenging U.S. national security in concrete ways… For example, recent extreme weather has cost billions in damages to U.S. military installations, including Tyndall Air Force Base and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Also, the military has bases on Guam and the Marshall Islands that are vulnerable to rising seas. And China may be able to take advantage of U.S. susceptibility, the Pentagon says."

"As Halloween approaches this weekend, several state attorneys general have issued warnings to parents to be on the lookout for marijuana edibles that can easily pass as regular candies and snacks… Attorneys general in Ohio, New York, Illinois, Connecticut and Arkansas all released statements Tuesday, a part of a coordinated effort to advise parents about the dangers of marijuana edibles." Dear everybody, and NPR (seriously, peoples?), I give out a lot of candy for Halloween. No, really, we get 400-600 trick or treaters every damn year and I hand out the roughly $100+ of candy quite liberally, so I think I have some expertise here. Nobody, absolutely no one, is going to give out candy that costs roughly $30 for one little bag. Nobody is going to accidentally "mix" these things. This is a hysteria akin to the "razor blades in apple" which actually happened once (IIRC) and that was a psychopath family member that intentionally injured their siblings.

"The Biden administration is rolling out a new coordinated strategy it hopes will slow the menacing rise in drug overdose deaths… According to the latest preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 100,000 people in the U.S. died from overdoses over a 12-month period, a massive surge from a year earlier."

"Pfizer's request to roll out COVID-19 vaccines for Americans as young as 5 years old cleared a key regulatory hurdle Tuesday, after a panel of the Food and Drug Administration's outside vaccine advisers voted by a majority to back Pfizer's request."

"Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto has battled multiple health challenges over the years, including stage 4 cancer, open heart surgery, multiple sclerosis and, currently, COVID-19. Now some of his viewers are sending him death threats — because he encouraged them to get vaccinated for their own safety."

"New York City firefighters plan to take their protests over the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the residence of Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday… The mayor approved a vaccine mandate that forces all public employees in the city to get a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 1, or risk losing their jobs." Actually, mandates are essential and we've had vaccine mandates for my entire lifetime.

"From boosters to breakthrough infections, pandemic vocabulary is still all over the news. On this week’s On the Media, why the terms we use to talk about the virus obscure as much as they reveal. And, why the history of medical progress is filled with so many twists and turns. Plus, why a preference for simple stories has made it so hard to keep track of the pandemic." Highly recommended, especially for the second segment, "Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, on why medical progress always carries risk."

"The firing of Tennessee's former vaccination director caught the state's top health leaders off guard and sent them scrambling for answers as the health commissioner fumed over the praise coworkers heaped on the ousted employee, documents show."

"On the Fourth of July, the U.S. economy looked ready to skyrocket… By Labor Day, however, the economy looked more like a dud, its midsummer sparkle smothered by a wave of delta variant infections and persistent supply chain problems."

"The United States has issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation, marking a milestone in the recognition of the rights of people who do not identify as male or female, and expects to be able to offer the option more broadly next year, the State Department said Wednesday."

"Jacob Brown is the son of Bob Brown, then part of the state police’s top brass who would rise to second in command despite being reprimanded years earlier for calling Black colleagues the n-word and hanging a Confederate flag in his office. And the son would not only become a “legacy hire” but prove his instructors prophetic by becoming one of the most violent troopers in the state, reserving most of his punches, flashlight strikes and kicks for the Black drivers he pulled over along the soybean and cotton fields near where he grew up." Ah, this must be the culture and heritage I've heard so much about.

"For Escamillio Jones, one of the hardest things about being a funeral director (in Philadelphia) right now is that he’s starting to see the same faces at services because people are losing multiple family members and friends to gun violence."

"The only bidder for management of Georgia’s Confederate-themed, state-owned Stone Mountain Park is a new firm created by an official of the company that’s pulling out, the park’s governing board said Monday."

"The men shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in August 2020 can potentially be referred to at his trial as 'rioters' or 'looters,' a Wisconsin judge said Monday while reiterating his long-held view that attorneys should not use the word 'victim.'" How about "the person he killed" and "the person he wounded"? Does that work?

"A grand jury on Tuesday returned an eight-count indictment against two law enforcement officers in connection with the 2016 killing of a man shot 76 times during an attempted fugitive arrest in the Atlanta area."

"For months, conspiracies about the 2020 election being stolen from Donald Trump have fueled Republican efforts nationwide to rewrite election laws. But now, some GOP operatives and Trumpworld luminaries are worried that the truly wild conspiracists may be mucking it all up." Gee, that's really too bad. You know, now that they've rigged the system their way that they want to say, "No, it's not all that bad." I guess you all should have thought of that when you started down this road.

"John Oliver discusses how misinformation spreads among immigrant diaspora communities, how little some platforms have done to stop it, and, most importantly, how to have a very good morning."

"Of the more than 650 cases stemming from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, at least five defendants have decided to go down that complicated path. And though legal experts told NPR that representing oneself in court can be exceptionally risky, they acknowledged that politically motivated defendants might logically take that option, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution."

"President Biden on Thursday travelled to Capitol hill to convince House Democrats to back a $1.75 trillion framework of social and climate spending and end a weeks-long stalemate over the passage of a separate bipartisan infrastructure bill."

"The proposed tax would hit the gains of those with more than $1bn in assets or incomes of more than $100m a year, and it could begin to shore up the big social services and climate change plan Biden is racing to finish before departing this week for the global climate summit, Cop26, in Scotland… Democrats behind the proposal say that about 700 of America’s super-rich taxpayers will be affected by the new tax proposal."

"Elon Musk is tweeting again, despite multiple court orders meant to keep him in check. This time he’s talking fiscal policy, focused around a proposal that would tax unrealized capital gains for people like him. The rule change could stick Elon with a $10 billion annual tax bill, and he’s none too happy about it." With a little bit about just how much Musk has earned by taking government money (and we're not talking about talking about the actual contracts he has with government, but subsidies and tax credits).

Tweet of my heart: @JasonKander Elon Musk: Beware! If they can tax a billionaire like me, they can tax you regular people too!… Regular People: We've been paying our taxes this whole time, bro. (Grokked from Lisa Morton)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Oct 26

"A nor'easter's heavy rains were causing "life threatening flash flooding" and prompting water rescues in northern New Jersey on Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service said, as the storm threatened more flooding and power outages elsewhere throughout the day."

"A powerful storm that drenched the West Coast with record-breaking rainfall and hurricane-force winds triggered landslides, flooded roads and left two people dead in Washington State… It also resurrected one of California’s most iconic natural features — Yosemite Falls."

"Scientists may have detected signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way, in what could be the first planet ever to be discovered outside our galaxy."

"National plans to cut carbon fall far short of what's needed to avert dangerous climate change, according to the UN Environment Programme… Their Emissions Gap report says country pledges will fail to keep the global temperature under 1.5C this century… The Unep analysis suggests the world is on course to warm around 2.7C with hugely destructive impacts." We're boned.

"Teen vaping of marijuana doubled between 2013 and 2020, indicating that young people may be swapping out joints, pipes or bongs for vape pens, according to a new study." Vaping is the same as smoking, just at a lower temperature, and in more concentrated forms.

"Gender bias is leaving many women with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder undiagnosed, leading psychologists are warning… The prevailing stereotype ADHD affects only 'naughty boys' means at least tens of thousands in the UK, it is estimated, are unaware they have the condition and not receiving the help they need."

"It's a stark contrast to where this emergency department — and thousands others — were at the start of the pandemic. Except for initial hot spots like New York City, in the spring of 2020 many ERs across the country were often eerily empty. Terrified of contracting COVID, people who were sick with other things did their best to stay away from hospitals. Visits to emergency departments dropped to half their normal levels, according to the Epic Health Research Network, and didn't fully rebound until the summer of 2021… But now, they're too full. Even in parts of the country where COVID isn't overwhelming the health system, patients are showing up to the ER sicker than they were before the pandemic, their diseases more advanced and in need of more complicated care."

"She spent six months in the hospital, where she was put in a giant metal tank — a ventilator informally called an iron lung — to help her breathe. To this day, Lillard is one of the last people in the U.S. who still depends on an iron lung to survive."

"A school district in Bergen County said it has suspended a teacher who is accused of telling an Arab American Muslim high school 'we don’t negotiate with terrorists' in response to his question about homework."

"We've all heard about rising inflation. The price of stuff is going up. And, if you read this newsletter, you've heard of shrinkflation. That's when the price of stuff stays the same, but the amount you get goes down. The economy-wide decline in service quality that we're now seeing is something different, and it doesn't have a good name. It's a situation where we're paying the same or more for services, but they kinda suck compared to what they used to be. We propose a new word to describe this stealth-ninja kind of inflation: skimpflation. It's when, instead of simply raising prices, companies skimp on the goods and services they provide."

"A cyberattack crippled gas stations across Iran on Tuesday, leaving angry motorists stranded in long lines… No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which rendered useless the government-issued electronic cards that many Iranians use to buy subsidized fuel at the pump."

"Facebook's rank-and-file employees warned their leaders about the company's effects on society and politics in the U.S. — and its inability to effectively moderate content in other countries magnified those dangers. Those are two of the main takeaways from thousands of internal Facebook documents that NPR and other news outlets have reviewed."

"Facebook and Instagram have removed from their platforms a live broadcast that Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro delivered in which he said people in the U.K. who have received two coronavirus vaccine doses are developing AIDS faster than expected." But it took them 3 days to do it.

"By altering how posts about vaccines are ranked in people’s newsfeeds, researchers at (Facebook) realized they could curtail the misleading information individuals saw about COVID-19 vaccines and offer users posts from legitimate sources like the World Health Organization… Instead, Facebook shelved some suggestions from the study. Other changes weren't made until April."

"Tesla hit a $1 trillion market cap on Monday following news that Hertz is ordering 100,000 vehicles to build out its electric vehicle rental fleet by the end of 2022." That's going to leave a mark.

"In states that cut off the $300 check, the workforce — the number of people who either have a job or are looking for one — has risen no more than it has in the states that maintained the payment… An analysis of state-by-state data by The Associated Press found that workforces in the 25 states that maintained the $300 payment actually grew slightly more from May through September, according to data released Friday, than they did in the 25 states that cut off the payment early, most of them in June." Conservative economic talking points are bullshit? You don't say. Again, the point of conservative policy is cruelty.

"Since the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in 2019, a (Sudanese) transitional government composed of civilians and military had worked together under the leadership of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to move the country toward elections in 2023… Now, with Hamdok in detention, the military in full control and security forces opening fire on protesters, the Biden administration has suspended $700 million in aid as the U.S. State Department calls on the military to release Hamdok and restore the civilian government."

The state of the art in "AI"… "Machine learning systems are notorious for demonstrating unintended bias. And as is often the case, part of the reason Delphi’s answers can get questionable can likely be linked back to how it was created." No, machine learning systems amplify our human frailties. That's what they learn. The whole concept of "we built this machine, but we don't know how to program what we're looking for correctly, so we fed it all this available data and let it find it's own way" is highly dubious and, IMHO, recklessly irresponsible.

"A North Carolina man who moved to Chicago was one of the victims of John Wayne Gacy, who was convicted of killing 33 young men and boys in the 1970s, authorities said Monday… Francis Wayne Alexander would have been 21 or 22 years old when Gacy killed him sometime between early 1976 and early 1977, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said at a news conference in announcing the identification of Alexander's remains."

"Sen. Joe Manchin, who for months has called for a pause in talks over President Joe Biden's social safety net package, on Monday offered his most optimistic assessment yet that a deal could be reached imminently -- as soon as this week… But Manchin, whose vote is essential to passing the Biden agenda, indicated he still has concerns over an expansion of Medicare and new paid leave policies and wants the price tag to stay at $1.5 trillion, far short of what many liberals are demanding." Time to bring out the heavy bat.

"The Democrats’ idea for a new billionaires’ tax to help pay for President Joe Biden’s social services and climate change plan quickly ran into criticism as too cumbersome with some lawmakers preferring the original plan of simply raising the top tax rates on corporations and the wealthy."

"Biden took the showdown, which was triggered by the fallout over the US Capitol insurrection, up another notch on Monday by refusing to assert executive privilege over a second batch of documents that Trump wants to prevent the National Archives from turning over to the House select committing probing the January 6 attack."

"Here are some of the groups providing resources and support to school board protesters around the country. None have endorsed violence, threats or incitement. Nor are they all formally connected. What they do is offer help to parents who have questions or objections about what their children are learning in school or how schools are run. They issue press releases, sell T-shirts and lawn signs, produce flyers and publicize events on social media, supply information and legal advice, offer template letters, scripts for public testimony, and model legislation. They put out webinars and trainings to give practical assistance to those who want to target or disrupt school boards." The companies and PACs inciting the "lone wolves" to act out, all while saying they don't support violence. But they just give all those wolves the tools to commit violence.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Oct 25

"When The Electric Company debuted in October, 1971, television hadn't seen anything quite like it. Psychedelic graphics, wildly creative animation, mod outfits, over-the-top characters and sketch comedy all functioned to serve the same goal: teaching kids to read."

"'This is a big moment for crabs.'" Ah, high school. Oh, wait, no, this story is about the crab found in amber. Nevermind.

"The World Meteorological Organization reported Monday that greenhouse gas concentrations hit a new record high last year and increased at a faster rate than the annual average for the last decade despite a temporary reduction during pandemic-related lockdowns." We're boned.

"A powerful storm referred to as a 'bomb cyclone' and 'atmospheric river' walloped Northern California late Sunday into Monday morning, causing flooding, power outages and mudslides."

"Once again, the threat of flu infections overlaps with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, creating the possibility of a 'twindemic' of two distinct, dangerous illnesses that cause (among other things) respiratory distress, hospitalizations and death for millions of people. Nationwide lockdowns that kept people distanced, mixed with the annual flu shot, largely helped dodge the double blast of infections last year. While the US saw a steep rise in coronavirus infections in the winter, the spread of influenza was uncommonly light." Also, and more importantly, more people were wearing masks last year.

"Long-term COVID-19 side effects could include memory loss and other cognitive dysfunctions, commonly labelled as "brain fog," according to a study released on Friday that looked at 740 patients in the Mount Sinai Health System… The study, which was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Network Open, analyzed patients who contracted COVID-19, not people who only received the COVID-19 vaccine." Getting the vaccine does not cause Long Covid.

"Florida's top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who told him she had a serious medical condition, officials have confirmed."

"Across the country, hospitals desperate for nurses — especially in acute care —are trying to address intense burnout among health care workers and accelerated nurse retirements by hiring new graduates. They're offering jobs to students even before they graduate, and in many cases offering bonuses and loan repayment as financial incentives… Yet — paradoxically — becoming a nurse has become more difficult, narrowing the pipeline for new nurses coming through the system."

"If you're working (or job searching), you probably have a stack of questions you'd like to float to the HR department ... anonymously… We asked two Life Kit experts to answer those anonymous questions for you: Kimberly B. Cummings, a career and leadership expert and author of Next Move, Best Move, and Lorrissa Horton, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Webex Calling and Strategy."

"The Biden administration wants to require banks to provide the Internal Revenue Service with information about how much money flows in and out of individual accounts each year… It's part of a plan to catch people who might be cheating on their taxes and to raise badly needed revenue to help finance the Biden agenda. But Republicans are fighting back hard, calling the move an invasion of privacy, while banks object to the increased monitoring."

"The documents, some of which have been the subject of extensive reporting by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, detail company research showing that toxic and divisive content is prevalent in posts boosted by Facebook and shared widely by users." Again, you say that like it's a bug instead of a feature of Facebook.

"A joint Chinese and Russian naval exercise, in which a flotilla of 10 warships completed a near circle around Japan's main island, has been touted by the two countries as a means of ensuring stability in a volatile region… But analysts say the drills are likely to have the opposite effect, potentially reigniting regional tensions and enhancing claims by the Japanese government that it needs to increase military spending to counter Chinese aggression."

"Nobelium, the Russian hacking group responsible for breaching SolarWinds, is still at it… The Russian hackers behind that successful 2020 breach of US federal agencies compromised as many as 14 technology firms since May as part of another apparent espionage campaign, Microsoft said Monday."

"Robert Bierenbaum, a former plastic surgeon who was convicted of murdering his wife in 2000, confessed to killing her and throwing her body out of an airplane after more than three decades of maintaining his innocence." The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-779-7233.

"The skeletal remains of a child and three surviving siblings who appear to have been abandoned have been found inside an apartment in the Houston area of Texas, US… One of the children, a 15-year-old, called the Harris county sheriff’s office on Sunday afternoon and told authorities that his nine-year-old brother had been dead for a year and the body was inside the apartment, the office said in a statement."

"Pivotal Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin appears to be on board with White House proposals for new taxes on billionaires and certain corporations to help pay for President Joe Biden’s scaled-back social services and climate change package." Oh, well, that's good then that he can get onboard with something 80% of the public agrees with. Dick.

And speaking of dicks… "Donald Trump Jr has begun selling merchandise that mocks Alec Baldwin, who fatally shot a cinematographer during an on-set incident last week… One of the latest stories showed a T-shirt with the words: 'Guns don’t kill people, Alec Baldwin kills people'. The Instagram story had a link to Mr Trump’s online website, where the T-shirt is being sold for $27.99 (£20.34)."

"Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence." If this story proves out, this is a very serious allegation against specific members of Congress (named in the story are Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorn, Andy Biggs, and Louie Gohmert) who should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Why do I say if it's proved out, well… "Of course, with their other legal issues and the House investigation, both of these sources have clear motivation to cooperate with investigators and turn on their former allies. And both of their accounts paint them in a decidedly favorable light compared with their former allies."

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Linkee-poo Sunday Oct 24

"Katz, it’s probably worth noting, is from the Philadelphia suburbs of South Jersey, right in the heart of the hotspot of 'Mischief Night.' Mischief Night is so common as a term there, so built into the season and the place, that those of us from this area—I’m from southeastern Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia—continue to be shocked that this is a local phenomenon." Soaping windows, ah, the memories. (Grokked from Fred Clark)

"Our cultural reappraisal of the European witch-hunts began in the 1960s, when second wave feminists reinterpreted these pogroms as patriarchy’s 'original sin': brutal, three-century campaigns that destroyed ancient female practices and means of income, from traditional midwifery to the ale business (once dominated by ale women, who wore pointed hats to signify their trade and kept cats to chase rodents away). For Marxist theorist Silvia Federici, author of the seminal Caliban and the Witch, the witch-hunts were the last volley in the defeat of artisan peasants and the rise of capitalist wage labour. Here was women’s 'great historic defeat', on whose burning stakes the bourgeois ideals of dependent, domestic womanhood were forged." (Grokked from Deborah Beale)

"It's the stuff of nightmares, or science fiction: a parasite that wants to get inside an animal's mouth, where it attacks — and replaces — the tongue. That's the incredibly specific, terribly icky job of the tongue-eating louse… Luckily for humans, the isopod doesn't affect people. But the Atlantic croaker and other fish are less fortunate, as a recent Facebook posting by the Galveston Island State Park in Texas shows."

"An estimated 2,500 Chinook salmon died before they could reach their spawning grounds in Whatcom County in September… Lummi Nation officials say a triple whammy of warm water, low flows, and bacteria killed 80% or more of Chinooks returning to the South Fork Nooksack River."

"Across the country, employers are firing workers for refusing to comply with vaccine mandates. Some people are opting to quit their jobs rather than take the shot… These workers represent only a tiny fraction of overall employees, not even 1% in some workplaces. But it can add up to thousands of people in many states." I can't wait for it to hit my hospital. I expect that will be sometime near Thanksgiving.

"In a pair of Cape Town warehouses converted into a maze of airlocked sterile rooms, young scientists are assembling and calibrating the equipment needed to reverse engineer a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to reach South Africa and most of the world’s poorest people."

"The past two months have seen the end of expanded unemployment benefits, many employers raising wages 20% or more, 8 million jobless people actively looking for work, and another 6 million people sidelined from the labor force… Although some employers and politicians blamed federal stimulus and relief money for keeping workers off the job, the end of those programs as early as June in some states has not brought about a noticeable bump in hiring, according to the latest Beige Book from the Federal Reserve." I think some of this story is a little bit hyperbolic, but an interesting take on the economy and employment.

"Earlier this year, an insistent cry arose from business leaders and Republican governors: Cut off a $300-a-week federal supplement for unemployed Americans. Many people, they argued, would then come off the sidelines and take the millions of jobs that employers were desperate to fill… Yet three months after half the states began ending that federal payment, there’s been no significant influx of job seekers."

"Yesterday I rented a boat and took the leader of one of Flexport's partners in Long Beach on a 3 hour of the port complex. Here's a thread about what I learned." Note the City of Long Beach is now allowing the stacking of containers to 5 high to help free chassises to start taking containers away from the ports. But it remains to be seen if the truck yards can actually stack them that high (most front loaders I know of don't go that high).

"Ethiopia has carried out two airstrikes in Tigray as the government intensifies a nearly week-old campaign of aerial bombardment against the rebellious forces who control most of the region."

"Israel's deputy foreign minister said on Sunday that the Biden administration may shelve its plan to reopen a U.S diplomatic mission for Palestinians in Jerusalem after Israel voiced opposition to such a move."

"A coalition of civil rights groups sued the state of Oklahoma on Tuesday over a law limiting instruction about race and gender in public schools. It is the first federal lawsuit to challenge a state statute implemented to prevent the teaching of critical race theory… The suit, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, argues that HB 1775, which took effect in May, violates students’ and teachers’ free speech rights and denies people of color, LGBTQ students and girls the chance to learn their history."

Oh look, actual voter fraud… "Speaking to a Las Vegas news station in November, Donald Kirk Hartle described being 'surprised' by the possibility that someone had stolen his dead wife’s mail-in ballot and used it to vote in the 2020 election. 'That is pretty sickening to me, to be honest with you,' he told KLAS-TV… But this week, the Nevada attorney general filed two charges of voter fraud against Mr. Hartle, 55, claiming that he was the one who forged his wife’s signature to vote with her ballot." Oh, wait… "Mr. Hartle, a registered Republican…" never mind. Move along people, nothing to see here.

"Former President Donald Trump's new social media platform, TRUTH Social, has been given 30 days to comply with the software's terms of license before its access is terminated. If it fails to comply, the platform may face legal action or have to rebuild from scratch."

"Rudy Giuliani's former associate Lev Parnas was convicted on six counts related to "influence buying" campaign finance schemes."

"Sean Parnell may have the backing of former President Donald Trump, but the Pennsylvania Republican also has significant personal baggage that is raising concerns about the GOP's ability to hold one of the most competitive Senate seats in the country next year." All of Trump's vetting comes down to who is willing to kiss his ass more.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Linkee-poo ghosts appear and fade away

"Walmart is recalling an essential-oil aromatherapy spray after a 'rare and dangerous bacteria' that can cause a potentially fatal condition was reported, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says. Officials are investigating four confirmed cases and there have been two deaths, including that of a child, associated with the bacteria, according to the agency."

"Last year Nigerian author Innocent Chizaram Ilo won one of the Commonwealth Short Story Prizes. However, receiving the prize money soon demonstrated to Ilo how excluded he was from banking in his country. He wrote a must-read column in the Guardian about the issues he faced in receiving the prize money and how red tape and other barriers exclude many people from accessing vital financial services." Jason Sanford with an important point. As a creative who makes a little more than pizza money and uses these pay system, JFC are they a PIA. I can't image the shit people in countries without a stable banking system (or solid connections to the world banking system) face.

"It's not a total surprise: NOAA announced earlier this month that La Niña conditions had already developed, with an 87% chance they would remain in place during that three-month period. Now it's forecasting wetter-than-average conditions across portions of the northern U.S., namely the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and western Alaska." Already seeing it.

"If you hear one new thing today, how about making it the sound of wind on Mars?"

"State officials on Thursday defended their response to a lead crisis in a small southwestern Michigan city, telling lawmakers that steps to reduce corrosion in aging water pipes began in 2019, just a few months after tests revealed troubling results… Benton Harbor residents will be urged to use free bottled water for drinking and cooking for weeks more, until a federal study confirms that filters can work effectively with the city's tap water, Liesl Clark, the head of Michigan's environmental agency, said."

In the UK "Supermarkets are using cardboard cutouts of fruit, vegetables and other groceries to fill gaps on shelves because supply problems combined with a shift towards smaller product ranges mean many stores are now too big… Tesco has begun using pictures of asparagus, carrots, oranges and grapes in its fresh produce aisles, prompting ridicule on social media."

"The U.S. budget deficit totaled $2.77 trillion for 2021, the second highest on record but an improvement from the all-time high of $3.13 trillion reached in 2020. The deficits in both years reflect trillions of dollars in government spending to counteract the devastating effects of a global pandemic."

"Safety issues plagued the set of Rust in the days leading up to the fatal accident, according to new reports. On Thursday, Alec Baldwin shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, on set of the Western indie. Director Joel Souza, 48, was hospitalized but has since been released. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting, which occurred 'during the filming of a scene.'… Both outlets report that the film's camera crew walked off the set in protest of their working conditions before the accident."

"Going into their second week of sit-ins, students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., are continuing to fight for answers from the campus administration as they protest the school's poor housing conditions… A top Howard official says the school has worked with student leaders to 'provide a best-in-class university experience'"

"There’s an absolutely bonkers flame war going on in the dark web right now. It’s nuts, but American companies and government agencies might want to pay attention. Because (likely) Russian hackers are venting rage against the US and vowing revenge." Stay safe, my Russian friends.

"California’s cannabis market is booming nearly five years after voters legalized recreational weed. But there’s a catch: the vast majority of pot sales are still underground… Rather than make cannabis a Main Street fixture, California’s strict regulations have led most industry operators to close shop, flee the state or sell in the state’s illegal market that approaches $8 billion annually, twice the volume of legal sales."

"The Border Patrol recorded nearly 1.7 million migrant apprehensions at the southern border over the past year — the highest number ever, eclipsing the record set more than two decades ago… But that doesn't mean it's the biggest number of individual migrants who've illegally crossed from Mexico into the U.S. in a single year… In fact, it's probably not even close." The more attempts, the more the CBP can justify spending, the more power it can accumulate.

"Have you been wondering exactly what it means to Build Back Better? On this week’s On the Media, hear why political coverage seems to address everything about Joe Biden’s bill--except what’s in it. Plus, find out if social media really does turn nice people into trolls."

"The White House on Friday signaled Democrats are closer to securing a deal on legislation that would enact the administration's social safety net agenda after President Joe Biden met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in the day."

"Joe Biden has given the strongest indication yet that he is willing to end or whittle down the Senate filibuster as a means of overcoming Republican intransigence and moving ahead with reforms to voting rights, the debt ceiling and possibly more." Call me when it happens.

"By the time Facebook banned the first Stop the Steal group on Nov. 5 for falsely casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election and calling for violence, the group had already mushroomed to more than 360,000 members. Every hour, tens of thousands of people were joining… Facebook removed the group from its platform. But that only sent Stop the Steal loyalists to other groups on Facebook filled with misinformation and claims the election was stolen. It was a classic game of whack-a-mole that Facebook tried but failed to stay on top of. Droves of Trump fans and right-wing conspiracists had outwitted the world's largest social network." You can't outwit someone who is actually trying to help you. The best way to stop these movement is to curate a culture that doesn't allow them to thrive. Facebook is the exact opposite. The platform is built around "engagement" (to help form more valid profiles they can sell for a higher price). The whole system is designed to amplify emotions and draw people into self-minded groups (that marketers can profile and Facebook can sell advertising to).

"Appearing on MSNBC's the 11th Hour with host Brian Williams, former GOP campaign consultant Steve Schmidt warned that Democrats need to accept that the Republican Party has changed drastically after four years of Donald Trump and the Jan 6th riot -- and failure to recognize that simple fact puts the entire country at risk." So the fault with the Republican party becoming more fascist and authoritarian lies with :: checks notes here :: the Democrats? Listen, buddy, you fix the problem you created and stop wanting other to fix things for you (like Democrats have done since Nixon).

"A former politician who called for the overthrow of the French government has been charged with terrorism in connection with what authorities have said was an extreme-right plot to attack vaccination centers, a masonic lodge and other targets."

"The quick growth happened despite legal problems faced by some prominent People’s Rights leaders, and continued even as some of the organization’s Facebook groups were removed from the social media platform. The organization has grown by roughly 53% in the past year in large part because of continued anti-public health sentiment, according to the report."

"An Arizona political commentator charged in the US Capitol riot spoke at a small right-wing rally in Phoenix last month that was attended by over a dozen Proud Boys, even though a federal judge had ordered him not to associate with any members of the extremist group." Sounds like someone shouldn't deserve pre-trial release.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Linkee-poo, day after day it reappears, night after night my heartbeat shows the fear

"A vast trove of fossils unearthed in Argentina's southern Patagonia region is offering the oldest-known evidence that some dinosaurs thrived in a complex and well-organized herd structure, with adults caring for the young and sharing a communal nesting ground."

"The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new plan for handling contamination by PFAS, a group of harmful chemicals that some communities in New Hampshire have been exposed to for years."

"Last year, residents in Campbell, Wisconsin, a four-square-mile island city in the Mississippi River, learned disturbing news: toxic PFAS 'forever chemicals' used in firefighting foam at a neighboring airport had probably been contaminating their private wells for decades."

"Now researchers have pinpointed how years of civil war and poaching in Mozambique have led to a greater proportion of elephants that will never develop tusks."

"One day last December, 101,000 chickens at a gigantic farm near the city of Astrakhan in southern Russia started to collapse and die. Tests by the state research centre showed that a relatively new strain of lethal avian flu known as H5N8 was circulating, and within days 900,000 birds at the Vladimirskaya plant were hurriedly slaughtered to prevent an epidemic." The next pandemic is really a when, not an if.

"Scientists are monitoring the delta-related variant — known as AY.4.2. — to see if it might spread more easily or be more deadly than previous versions of the coronavirus. In a recent report, U.K. officials said this variant makes up 6% of all analyzed COVID-19 cases in the country and is 'on an increasing trajectory.'"

"Three public officials threatened doctors at a Montana hospital after they refused to treat a COVID-19 patient with ivermectin, a drug to treat parasites that is not federally approved to treat the respiratory disease, officials of St. Peter’s Health in Helena said."

"The coronavirus pandemic continues to claim thousands of lives a week — mostly people who aren't vaccinated. But that's not stopping a major gathering of anti-vaccine advocates and conspiracy theorists in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend."

"Unemployment claims dropped 6,000 to 290,000 last week, the third straight drop, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the fewest people to apply for benefits since March 14, 2020, when the pandemic intensified. Applications for jobless aid, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily from about 900,000 in January."

"The Federal Reserve is imposing new restrictions on investments by its senior officials as it seeks to address a controversy involving trades made by two regional Fed bank presidents last year… The new rules prohibit policymakers and senior staff at the Fed from buying individual stocks. They're also barred from holding individual bonds as well as other market products including derivatives or any investments involving government-backed securities."

"A shooting on the New Mexico set of the Alec Baldwin movie Rust left one person dead and another in critical condition Thursday."

"In the Bay area of northern California there's been a spike in hate-driven violence against Asian Americans… According to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health one in four Asian Americans feared — in the past few months — that members of their household would be attacked or threatened because of their race or ethnicity. More than 20% of Native American and Black households also expressed this fear."

"The narrative that passengers watched a man rape a woman on a train in suburban Philadelphia last week and 'filmed it for their own gratification instead of calling the police' is false, the prosecutor handling the case said Thursday as he asked witnesses to come forward." The police would lie to us? Shocked…

"The unmasked NYPD police officers who were caught on camera Tuesday morning forcibly removing a subway passenger from a subway platform, after he repeatedly asked why they weren’t complying with federal rules that require everyone to wear a mask on mass transit, will face disciplinary action."

"A Moroccan-American man was shot and killed while sitting in his car in the early morning hours on Oct. 11 in Martindale, Texas, about 40 miles outside of Austin… The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said they responded to a report of a shooting at 3:42 a.m. They said a homeowner 'confronted a suspicious vehicle' that was parked outside the residence."

"A membership roster for the Oath Keepers, a violent extremist group whose followers have been charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection, includes state lawmakers, congressional candidates, and local government and GOP officials."

"Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) shared a nickname for himself and two other Donald Trump-adoring extremists on Thursday, appearing to band them together as a right-wing alternative to the group of progressive House lawmakers known as 'The Squad.'" Oh Matty, we already have a nickname for you.

"GOP Rep. Jim Banks lamented on the House floor that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prevented him from serving on the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol on Thursday… And yet, Banks sent a letter to at least one government agency falsely claiming that he is ranking member of the committee in his signature."

"All over the country, local school board members, who are typically volunteers or serve for small stipends, have indeed been placed on the front line of a national culture war. Protestors are mobilizing against masks, vaccines, LGBTQ rights, removing police from schools, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. In early October, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI to meet with state and local authorities to create 'strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.'"

"A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, accusing him of lying to the FBI and concealing information from federal agents who were investigating campaign contributions funneled to him from a Nigerian billionaire." SO that's why that Nigerian price never sent me any money.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Linkee-poo Thursday Oct 21

Jerry Pinkney, and so it goes.

"A series of new reports from the Biden administration will issue a stark warning on Thursday: The effects of climate change will be wide-reaching and will pose problems for every government… No country will be spared from the challenges directly related to climate change,' a senior administration official told reporters in a call previewing the reports."

"A warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fresh whole red, white and yellow onions from Chihuahua, Mexico, were distributed to grocery stores and restaurants across the U.S. by ProSource Inc. They should be discarded… Officials also urge consumers not to buy any whole red, white or yellow onions without stickers or packaging that show where they're from, and to throw away any such onions that are already in the home."

"The government coronavirus task force reported 36,339 new confirmed infections and 1,036 deaths in the past 24 hours. That brought Russia’s death toll to 227,389, by far the highest in Europe. President Vladimir Putin has voiced consternation about vaccine hesitancy and sought to urge more to come forward for jabs."

"The labor shortage almost forced Waldoboro to shut down ambulance service for a recent weekend. Keizer says she supports vaccination, but believes Maine's decision to mandate them threatens the ability for some EMS departments to function… Maine is one of 10 states that require health care workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or risk losing their jobs. Along with Oregon, Washington state, and Washington, D.C., it also explicitly includes the EMTs and paramedics who respond to 911 calls in that mandate. Some ambulance crews say it's making an ongoing staffing crisis even worse." Look, there's a basic minimum of intelligence needed for these jobs, and if you work in the healthcare field and can't see the need for the mandates, I'm sorry, but you fail at that basic level. This goes double for ambulance services who don't really have a good indication of what they may be stepping into during any given call.

"In mid-September, Marcel Schliebs, a disinformation researcher at the University of Oxford who had been tracking messaging that Chinese diplomats and state media spread on Twitter for 18 months, spotted the emergence of a surprising coronavirus origin theory."

"Sales of previously owned homes increased 7% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 6.29 million units in September, according to the National Association of Realtors… The organization’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun pointed to a brief drop in mortgage interest rates in August for the sales gain. The average rate on the 30-year fixed fell below 3% before rising again more significantly in the last month."

"On Tuesday more than 100 ships were waiting to unload thousands of containers outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The backlog has seen dozens of ships idling in the waters outside the ports for weeks, and the bottleneck is expected to continue into next year."

"Facebook’s oversight board condemned the platform on Thursday for withholding relevant information about its content moderation system that was revealed by The Wall Street Journal through leaked documents… The board called Facebook’s failure to include details of its so-called cross-check program in the case of former President Donald Trump’s suspension from the platform unacceptable. According to the Journal, the content moderation system shielded millions of high-profile users from standard procedures the company employs to remove or reduce the reach of posts violating its policies."

"The FBI has not recovered the vast majority of secret documents related to nuclear submarines that a U.S. naval engineer is accused of trying to sell to a foreign power, an FBI agent testified Wednesday."

"The $5 million settlement with Uncle Sam's owner Bret Frimmel (who sued over Sheriff Joe Arpaio's handling of investigations into his restaurant) came weeks after officials signed off on a separate $400,000 settlement to resolve similar claims brought by Uncle Sam's manager Lisa Norton. County officials approved $3.1 million of Frimmel's settlement. The remaining $1.9 million in his settlement is being covered by an insurer." Conservative ideals, costing the tax payers millions.

"Former President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he will be launching his very own media network, including a social media platform called 'TRUTH Social,' in order to 'stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.'" The very hilarious part of this is Pravda, the former Soviet Union mouthpiece, means "Truth." Also, this is their second attempt to launch a social media app.

"The stock of SPAC company Digital World Acquisition Corp. skyrocketed on extremely heavy trading volume Thursday after news of a merger that would launch former President Donald Trump’s planned social media platform." But wait, there's more! "Patrick Orlando, CEO of DWAC, in the press release said, 'Digital World was formed to create public shareholder value and we believe that TMTG is one of the most promising business combination partners to fulfill that purpose.'… Orlando, who graduated from MIT, spent five years at Deutsche Bank, where he worked with emerging markets fixed income derivatives… Orlando later moved into the South American sugar industry and is currently involved with at least three other SPACs, or so-called blank check companies: Yunhong International, Benessere Capital Acquisition, and Maquia Capital Acquisition… Orlando is CEO of Yunhong International, which was incorporated in the Cayman Islands in 2020 and which lists its headquarters in Wuhan, China." You know, Wuhan, where the virus outbreak started.

"A New York prosecutor has opened up a previously unreported criminal probe of Trump Organization finances, NPR has confirmed… The investigation by Westchester District Attorney Miriam E. 'Mimi' Rocah is examining property valuations at Trump National Golf Club Westchester, north of New York City. A source with knowledge of the investigation has confirmed that the town that collects local taxes from the course, Ossining, has received a subpoena from Rocah's office for documents."

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Linkee-poo late Wednesday night, Oct 20

"Meanwhile, prosecutors continue to consider possible criminal charges against library officials for making certain books accessible to juveniles after a couple brought five books to the attention of law enforcement."

"It's something that's happening across the country. School boards have become the latest political battlefield, with fights over masks and COVID-19 vaccines, and with conservative parents concerned about diversity curriculum. These races are being watched by Republicans, who lost a lot of ground in the suburbs over the past eight years, and are hoping education could be a winning issue for them in congressional races in 2022 and the next presidential race as well." Oh look, it's the 80s all over again.

"The thousands of drivers who use a Rhode Island highway on their way to work every day probably have no idea they are passing over the graves of some people who died in the late 1800s and early 1900s at state institutions." Don't blame it on "lax regulations." This was a "no one will care, and it's cheaper" action. It was wrong when the highway was built. It's wrong now.

"Vikings from Greenland — the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas — lived in a village in Canada’s Newfoundland exactly 1,000 years ago, according to research published Wednesday… Scientists have known for many years that Vikings — a name given to the Norse by the English they raided — built a village at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around the turn of the millennium. But a study published in Nature is the first to pinpoint the date of the Norse occupation." But then there's this… "The first Norse settlers in Greenland were from Iceland and Scandinavia, and the arrival of the explorers in Newfoundland marks the first time that humanity circled the entire globe." No. No it wasn't… "Indigenous people occupied L’Anse aux Meadows both before and after the Norse…" But apparently to NBC News, they don't count.

"Plans by governments to extract fossil fuels up to 2030 are incompatible with keeping global temperatures to safe levels, says the UN… The UNEP production gap report says countries will drill or mine more than double the levels needed to keep the 1.5C threshold alive… Oil and gas recovery is set to rise sharply with only a modest decrease in coal… There has been little change since the first report was published in 2019."

"Earlier this year, more than 200 medical journals put out an unprecedented joint statement, calling climate change the 'greatest threat' to global public health and urging the world's top economies to do more to slow it."

"Scientists temporarily attached a pig's kidney to a human body and watched it begin to work, a small step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for life-saving transplants." Well, the pigs were those gene-edited ones, and the reason they say "human body" is because the recipient was already dead.

"People with mild or moderate hearing loss could soon be able to buy hearing aids without a medical exam or special fitting, under a new rule being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration. The agency says 37.5 million American adults have difficulty hearing." Good.

"California’s popular In-N-Out hamburger chain is in trouble with yet another San Francisco Bay Area county over its failure to verify the vaccination cards of people choosing to dine-in with their double-doubles, shakes and fries."

"Little is known about AY.4.2. Some experts have suggested it could be slightly more transmissible than the original Delta variant, though that has not yet been confirmed. While it accounts for a growing number of infections, it is not yet classified in the UK as a "variant of concern." It currently remains rare beyond Britain, with a small number of cases being recorded in Denmark and the US, expert Francois Balloux told the Science Media Center (SMC) on Tuesday."

"The World Health Organization has hired the company, called Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, as part of a $100 million plan to figure out how to make an mRNA vaccine against COVID that is as close as possible to the version produced by Moderna."

"President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered most Russians to stay off work for a week starting later this month amid rising COVID-19 infections and deaths, and he strongly urged reluctant citizens to get vaccinated." Stay safe, my Russian friends.

"Nearly two years into the coronavirus pandemic, there's some truth in a joke circulating among frustrated ICU nurses: They ask their hospitals to appropriately pay them for the hazards they've endured. And the nurses are rewarded with a pizza party instead… 'I heard a lot of noise about "Well, this is what you signed up for." No, I did not sign up for this,' (Theresa Adams) says of the unparalleled stress brought on by the pandemic… Adams is an ICU nurse who helped build and staff COVID-19 units in one of Ohio's largest hospitals. She recently left for a lucrative stint of travel nursing in California." Management at my hospital are scratching their heads because the pizza parties, and the t-shirts, don't seem to be working at lifting moral. Hint, they never did because those levers were developed to solve other problems. And there is a rumor that the hospital is paying $100/hr for nurses to pickup extra shifts (traveling nurses cost them more). For us in radiology, it's just that overtime is approved (once you pass 40 hours per week, note that even many full timers aren't regularly scheduled 40 hours a week). From our ER I know of 3 nurses who have left to be traveling nurses, and switched to PRN at the hospital. I've commented before that traveling nurses seem to be the freemasons of this "plague." Understand that just 3 years ago hospitals were upping requirements for nurses (such as no longer hiring LPNs and requiring RNs to have bachelor degrees, some of them needing masters). Our last "welcome new members" email included 3 LPNs. It will be interesting to see how this all falls out in 3 years' time. Also interesting about how they're looking to bring in nurses from other countries (look "foreigners coming to steal our jobs", I doubt we'll hear this championed by the conservatives).

"Brazilian senators investigating the handling of the country's COVID-19 outbreak have dropped a recommendation from their draft report that President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with genocide and homicide, instead accusing him of "crimes against humanity.""

"Southern California's Los Angeles and Long Beach ports handle the most ocean cargo of any ports in the United States, but are some of the least efficient in the world, according to a ranking by the World Bank and IHS Markit."

"When thinking about the trucking industry, the first thing that comes to mind about its drivers is that they tend to be older — industry experts say the average trucker is 54 years old. But given the nationwide truck driver shortage, that's now changing… A high school in California is now training teens to enter the industry through its truck driving school program." Why does trucking have a retention problem? Because they're also toxic employers.

"After struggling to hire workers for its outlet store in Dallas, Balsam Hill finally opened on Sept. 1. But the very next day, the online purveyor of high-end artificial holiday trees was forced to close after four of its five workers quit… The main gripe for three of them? Working on weekends. So they found jobs elsewhere with better hours."

"The weeks-long fight inside Netflix comes to a head today, when employees at the company are expected to walk out, demanding the company better support its trans and non-binary employees."

"A group of educators and civil rights groups is challenging Oklahoma's new law limiting public school teachings on race and gender issues in court… The lawsuit, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Oklahoma, was filed Tuesday. The organizations argue that HB 1775, which took effect in May, interferes with students' and educators' First Amendment rights to learn and talk about gender and race issues in school."

"The real estate website Zillow announced it would stop buying and renovating homes through the end of the year as it works through a backlog of properties and it deals with worker and supply shortages."

"Now, like thousands of other Afghan citizens, they are desperate to leave Afghanistan as the Taliban cement their hold on the country. Except Uyghurs say they face another threat: deportation by the Taliban to China, which has arbitrarily detained vast numbers of them and subjected them to tough religious restrictions, forced labor and even forced sterilization."

"As debate over Democrats’ Build Back Better Act has intensified, the $3.5 trillion social spending bill has remained strikingly popular in polls. That may be both a blessing and a curse for lawmakers because it’s now clear that the bill will need to shrink to pass. And like Congress, Americans don’t all agree on which of its big-ticket items are most important… But at least one thing seems clear from public surveys: People want to pay for the bill by taxing the rich." Waits for the predictable conservative backlash in 3… 2… 1…

"FBI agents executed search warrants Tuesday at properties in Washington, D.C., and in New York City that are linked to the prominent Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska… At a stately residence located in Northwest Washington near several embassies, FBI agents could be seen outside, and authorities had cordoned off the property with yellow police tape."

"Republicans have moved to tighten their grip on power in Texas after a late-night vote in the state’s legislature approved an early sign-off to new congressional boundaries at the expense of communities of color… The Republican-led effort will give the party powers over redrawn US House maps and shore up its eroding dominance in Texas, whose demographics are becoming less white in a shift that most experts see as favoring Democrats."

"The Jan. 6 House select committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to refer former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution in response to his refusal to cooperate with its investigation, paving the way for a full House vote on the matter, which is planned for Thursday."

"For the third time this year, Senate Democrats on Wednesday tried to pass sweeping elections legislation that they tout as a powerful counterweight to new voting restrictions sweeping conservative-controlled states… Once again, Republicans blocked them."

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Linkee-poo, everybody's got something to hide except for me and my monkey

"During an event to award the country's prestigious Planeta literary prize, the famed but reclusive crime novelist Carmen Mola was actually revealed to be the creation of three male writers… Antonio Mercero, Agustín Martínez and Jorge Díaz not only created a series of highly successful novels in Mora's name, but also invented the author herself."

"A scuba diver has found a 900-year-old Crusader sword with a three-foot blade off the coast of Israel… The amateur diver spotted the sword and other ancient artifacts on the seabed off northern Israel, according to a statement from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) published Monday." I guess that makes him king or something.

"At the lowest tides, Canada's Comox estuary exposes a nearly forgotten story: the nubs of more than 150,000 wooden stakes are spread out across the intertidal zone, forming the remnants of hundreds of ancient fish traps. At peak use, it's believed the industrial-level installation provided food security for an estimated 10,000-12,000 K'ómoks People, the traditional inhabitants of the bountiful, mountain-fringed Comox Valley, located on the east side of Vancouver Island on the edge of the Salish Sea."

"In a new push to stop further depletion of California's shrinking aquifers, state regulators are turning to technology once used to count Soviet missile silos during the Cold War: satellites… Historically, California's farmers could pump as much as they wanted from their wells. But as a consequence of that unrestricted use, the underground water table has sunk by hundreds of feet in some areas, and the state is now trying to stabilize those aquifers."

"A man who injected magic mushroom tea ended up in intensive care after developing a life-threatening outbreak of fungi growing in his blood." I can't believe I need to say this, don't inject shit unless it's sterile.

"In the end it was the delta variant that drove Rose Mitchell, 89, down the winding mountain road in Smilax, Ky., to the Full Gospel Church of Jesus Christ to get the shot. Her pastor, Billy Joe Lewis, had told his congregation that, No, ma'am, a COVID-19 vaccine would not leave the 'mark of the beast' nor rewrite their genetic codes."

"So it makes sense that the holy grail of vaccines would one that could defend against all variants of a category of virus. That dream, according to the researchers behind a recent paper in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could one day become a reality — at least for coronaviruses." Okay, they've been working on a universal flu virus for over 2 decades now. Life is complicated.

"As with most illnesses, contracting COVID-19 provides immune 'memory' that helps protect against a future infection. But it's still unclear how sick a person has to get with COVID-19 to develop enough immune memory to be protective and for how long. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends even people who have had COVID-19 get vaccinated against it… A growing body of research suggests infection plus vaccination provides the strongest protection against a wide range of variants, possibly for a long time."

"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added one new location to its list of 'very high' risk travel destinations this week… The ultramodern city-state of Singapore has moved up from Level 3, or 'high' risk for Covid-19, to Level 4, the agency's highest risk category."

"For hundreds of public employees in the state of Washington, where a new vaccine mandate for state employees went into effect this week, Monday was their last day on the job. That includes a sergeant with the Washington State Patrol who told KUOW that he had made an appointment to turn in his patrol car and equipment." Well, it's one way to get the assholes out. Unfortunately, they'll find employment in the private sector (where they will also face mandates).

"U.S. homebuilding unexpectedly fell in September and permits dropped to a one-year low amid acute shortages of raw materials and labor, strengthening expectations that economic growth slowed sharply in the third quarter… The report from the Commerce Department on Tuesday also showed housing completions hitting a 13-month low. It followed on the heels of news on Monday that production at U.S. factories fell by the most in seven months in September. Strong demand as global economies emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic is running against worker shortages, straining supply chains."

"Dayton isn't alone in this. Cities and states all over the country found their budgets fared better than expected. And now, they're looking at new and unexpected ways to spend the $360 billion in COVID aid."

"Procter & Gamble on Tuesday reported quarterly earnings and revenue that topped analysts’ expectations, but higher costs weighed on the company’s profits… The consumer giant also raised its forecast for commodity and freight costs for the remainder of the fiscal year, warning it believes inflation is still increasing." Profit is up, but we're still gonna have to raise prices. "P&G CFO Andre Schulten said on a call with reporters that the company would raise prices on certain products within the beauty, oral care and grooming categories to deal with inflation. However, he said the company isn’t intentionally prioritizing premium products because of supply chain constraints." Uh huh. Sure.

"Saldana, 22, is a full-time student, single mom and health insurance agent in South Carolina. She's one of the many parents struggling to find child care, even as many child care centers have reopened. According to a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 34% of families with young children are facing serious problems finding child care when adults need to work."

"At a tense school board meeting Monday night in Southlake, Texas, a former student gave painful testimony about antisemitic bullying that he said he endured in the Carroll Independent School District… Teachers grew emotional as they described feeling unsupported and under attack… And many parents defended a district administrator who told teachers to offer students books showing “opposing” perspectives on the Holocaust, saying she was trying to follow a problematic new state law, while also condemning her interpretation of that law." I dunno, maybe the law was stupidly written in haste to prevent an imagined problem and should be repealed anyway.

"An Alabama woman who was missing for 12 days was later found dead in a parked, unoccupied police van in Huntsville, police said… According to the Huntsville Police Department, an officer discovered 29-year-old Christina Nance's body in the van, which was parked in a police department lot, on Oct. 7."

"Afghanistan will restart nationwide polio vaccinations after more than three years, as the new Taliban government agreed to assist the campaign and to allow women to participate as frontline workers, the UN said on Monday… The World Health Organization and Unicef said the vaccination drive would begin on 8 November with Taliban support."

"When the Taliban swept into power, they found Afghanistan's economy fast approaching the brink and were faced with harrowing predictions of growing poverty and hunger. So they ordered the financial managers of the collapsed former government back to work, with an urgent directive: Do your jobs, because we can’t."

"Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has accused the EU of blackmail in a heated debate with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen over the rule of law… The clash in the European Parliament follows a top Polish court ruling that rejected key parts of EU law… Mrs von der Leyen said she would act to prevent Poland undermining EU values."

"Another big push towards electric vehicles is being made in the UK government's latest strategy to make the great shift to a virtually zero-carbon economy… Ministers are investing £620m in grants for electric vehicles and street charging points… Car makers will be mandated to sell a proportion of clean vehicles each year."

"In a tiny neighborhood in San Francisco's Richmond District, self-driving Waymo cars have been converging at all hours of the day and night, mystifying neighbors, KPIX reported earlier this week. Most would drive to the dead-end on 15th Avenue, where they then had no choice but to turn around and leave, according to the outlet — and neighbors have no idea why." "There have always been ghosts in the machine. Random segments of code, that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated, these free radicals engender questions of free will, creativity, and even the nature of what we might call the soul. Why is it that when some robots are left in darkness, they will seek out the light? Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space, they will group together, rather than stand alone? How do we explain this behavior? Random segments of code?", Dr. Alfred Lanning, I, Robot.

"Texas Republicans approved redrawn U.S. House maps that favor incumbents and decrease political representation for growing minority communities, even as Latinos drive much of the growth in the nation's largest red state… The maps were approved late Monday night following outcry from Democrats over what they claimed was a rushed redistricting process crammed into a 30-day session, and one which gave little time for public input. They also denounced the reduction of minority opportunity districts — Texas will now have seven House districts where Latino residents hold a majority, down from eight — despite the state's changing demographics."

"The bipartisan Jan. 6 select committee will vote Tuesday on whether to refer Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution for contempt of Congress. The panel is expected to approve the referral, and after that, the full House of Representatives will have to vote on the matter as well. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not announced when such a vote would take place."

"Former President Donald Trump is suing the Democrat-led House select committee that's investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as the National Archives, to try to stop documents related to the riot from being turned over to the panel."

"That false notion lives on, despite most major news media having long since labeled it 'the big lie.' Perversely, one could argue, it lives on largely because so much of the media calls it that. But more of that in a moment… While it may be without precedent, it's not without a parallel. There are distinct echoes today of the early 1950s, when false narratives about communism spreading in the U.S. gripped the Republican base because of one man with some personal connections to the Trump phenomenon: Sen. Joe McCarthy."