There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Friday, December 30, 2022

Linkee-poo December 30, 2022

Pelé, and so it goes.

"Millions of people hunkered down against a deep freeze Sunday to ride out the winter storm that has killed at least 34 people across the United States and is expected to claim more lives after trapping some residents inside houses with heaping snow drifts and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses."

"Roads reopened Thursday in storm-besieged Buffalo as authorities continued searching for people who may have died or are stuck and suffering after last week’s blizzard."

"About 20 minutes later, the 'NHS-NoReply' number messaged: 'Please accept our sincere apologies for the previous text message sent. This has been sent in error. Our message to you should have read We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.'"

"When the man known as 'father of genetics' turns 200, how do you celebrate?… By digging up his body and sequencing his DNA, of course."

"The U.S. Justice Department is suing one of the nation's largest corporations, drug wholesaler AmerisourceBergen, for allegedly fueling the nation's deadly opioid crisis… In its complaint, DOJ officials said the company failed to report the diversion of 'hundreds of thousands' of prescription opioid medications shipped to pharmacies."

"Economists are baffled by a wider-than-usual divergence between long-term mortgage rates and the yield on the benchmark U.S. government bond that is driving a sharp rise in borrowing costs and helping to torpedo the U.S. housing market this year."

"As if canceled flights and lost luggage weren't enough of a hassle, would-be Southwest Airlines passengers faced another hurdle to their holiday travel this week: High fares on other carriers."

"The $1.7 trillion spending bill President Biden is expected to sign into law this week includes several key provisions that are meant to make it easier for workers to save for retirement… This comes as more Americans are working later in life, often unable to get by on Social Security and retirement savings. By 2030, the number of people age 75 years and older who will be working or looking for work is expected to grow by 96.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics."

"Republicans are planning to use their control of the House of Representatives in 2023 to intensify attacks on companies that account for climate-related risks when they're making investment decisions." Conservatives are all about free commerce and allowing businesses to do what they want… right up until it makes them look bad. There is no reason for a response to ESG investment options. No one is forced to use them, no business is forced to adopt environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies. But it looks bad that these ESG focused funds did better than others this past year, and that companies may adopt better business practices to get into these portfolios… but most importantly fossil fuel companies will find it difficult to qualify. Again, the conservatives are going to interfere in the free operation of markets and market forces because it doesn't benefit them. That's how thin their ideology is. Notice no conservative voices calling for investigation into Southwest Airlines or any of the heinous fuckery around airlines violating the rules on flight cancellations.

"The first legal dispensary for recreational marijuana in New York rung up its first sales on Thursday, opening up what is expected to be one of the country’s most lucrative markets for cannabis — underscored by the dozens of unauthorized shops that have operated in the open for years."

"Amid the political chaos following the ousting of Peru’s President Pedro Castillo, lawmakers in the country’s congress are quietly trying to pass a bill into law that would strip 'uncontacted' Indigenous people of protection and dismantle existing reserves created for them." More of the story of what is happening in Peru. As a reminder, Pedro Castillo was Peru's first indigenous president.

"Under the cover of darkness on the night of March 27, 2017, housing activists snuck past the guards of two government-owned buildings in central Cape Town — a derelict hospital and an abandoned nursing home — and took up residence. The activists, who belong to a social movement called Reclaim the City, were protesting gentrification and what they saw as the government's failure to provide affordable housing in what remains, nearly three decades after the end of apartheid, a deeply divided city."

"Automakers are preparing for electric vehicles, currently around 6% of new vehicle sales in the United States, to conquer a huge share of the market in just a few years. That means companies will need a tremendous number of batteries… The think tank Atlas Public Policy recently tallied all the announced projects located in the United States… the group counted more than $128 billion of announced investments into electric vehicle plants, battery plants and battery recycling."

"Users around the world struggled to access Twitter on Wednesday—even as an error message urged 'don’t fret… Let’s try again.'… Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but its new owner Elon Musk tweeted on the platform that it 'works for me,' in response to a user query."

"A federal court has ruled that the Marine Corps cannot deny entry to Sikhs because of their unshorn beards and hair… The Marine Corps told three Sikh men that they could serve only if they shaved before going through basic training. Most Sikh men don't cut their hair as a sign of their religious commitment. But to serve in the military satisfies another aspect of their faith."

"The U.S. military says a Chinese navy fighter jet flew dangerously close to an Air Force reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea earlier this month, forcing the American pilot to maneuver to avoid a collision."

"Throughout Mariupol, Russian workers are tearing down bombed-out buildings at a rate of at least one a day, hauling away shattered bodies with the debris… Russian military convoys are rumbling down the broad avenues of what is swiftly becoming a garrison city, and Russian soldiers, builders, administrators and doctors are replacing the tens of thousands of Ukrainians who have died or left."

"The eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv has a peculiar 'cemetery,' one that recalls some of the worst damage done since the Russian invasion: the debris of rockets used against this town and its people."

"Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday warned anew Ukraine that it must demilitarize, threatening further military action and falsely accusing Kyiv and the West of fueling the war that started with Moscow’s invasion." Fuck you, Sergey.

"Pope Francis used his Christmas message Sunday to lament the 'icy winds of war' buffeting humanity and to make an impassioned plea for an immediate end to the fighting in Ukraine, a 10-month-old conflict he decried as 'senseless.'"

"On Wednesday Francis revealed that Benedict was 'very ill' and went to see Benedict at his home in the Vatican where he has lived since retiring in 2013, sparking fears that he was near death… The Vatican later said Benedict’s health had deteriorated in recent hours but that the situation was under control as doctors monitored him."

"Several busloads of migrants were dropped off outside of the Washington, D.C., residence of Vice President Kamala Harris on Christmas Eve — apparently the latest in an escalating battle between state officials and the Biden administration over the country's immigration policy."

"The water system in Jackson, Mississippi, which partially collapsed in late August, was experiencing 'fluctuating' pressure impacting residents on Saturday amid frigid temperatures, officials said… Some neighborhoods in Jackson had low water pressure and residents said they had no water pressure on Christmas Eve."

"Andrew Tate, a divisive social media personality and former professional kickboxer, was detained in Romania late Thursday on charges of human trafficking and rape, according to local media reports… Tate also was embroiled this week in a war of words with 19-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg…" Which he then posted a video retort and in that video were pizza boxes, which lead the Romanian authorities to know he was in the country, and they arrested him. The Guardian has a longer article on the asshole, and describes his business and his conservative connections.

"A Delaware trucker described as a co-leader of the conspiracy to kidnap Michigan's governor was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison Wednesday, a day after an accomplice received 16 years behind bars."

"Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos met in person for the first time in two years Thursday as both sides are talking more about trying to work together in the coming legislative session."

"In respective letters to Reps. James Comer (R-Ky) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), White House Special Counsel Richard Sauber said that the Biden administration had no immediate plans to respond to a slew of records requests that both men made the past several weeks. In those letters, obtained exclusively by POLITICO, Sauber described such requests as constitutionally illegitimate because both Jordan, who is expected to chair the House Judiciary Committee, and Comer, who is expected to head the Oversight Committee, made them before they had any authority to do so."

"The Nassau County District Attorney’s office on Wednesday launched an investigation into Rep.-elect George Santos after the Republican admitted to lying about his education and work experience as well as misleading voters about his religion on the campaign trail." Well, there's also the question about how he could have afforded to give his campaign a loan of $600,000. Lying on a campaign isn't really a crime, but money laundering is.

"A recount of votes has confirmed Democrat Kris Mayes narrowly defeated Republican Abraham Hamadeh in the Arizona attorney general’s race, one of the closest elections in state history."

"After Trump left office, the IRS said it was beefing up the audit team, to three. The tax agency itself acknowledged that it was still overwhelmed by the complexity of Trump’s finances and the resistance mounted by the former president and his sophisticated army of accountants and lawyers, which included a former IRS chief counsel and raised questions early last year about why even three revenue agents should be assigned to audit him." Seven trillion dollars in uncollected taxes for the lack of funding the IRS.

"Charles Rettig, the Trump-appointed IRS Commissioner who has refused to release President Trump’s tax returns, has made hundreds of thousands of dollars renting out Trump properties while in office, according to documents obtained by CREW. Last year Rettig said it was his decision whether to turn over Trump’s tax returns to Congress, under the supervision of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin." Grifts all the way down.

"Nearly two years after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the Democratic-led House committee investigating the attack released its full report Thursday."

"Don Jr meanwhile couldn’t explain the whereabouts of $240m raised by the Trump campaign after the 2020 election. His testimony includes several moments where he was unable to recall events or conversations."

"A special grand jury investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies illegally tried to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election in Georgia appears to be wrapping up its work, but many questions remain."

"Former President Donald Trump's tax returns from 2015 through 2020 have been made public by the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee — concluding a years-long political battle by Democrats to obtain and share the documents." Which concludes with this… "In a briefing to reporters Thursday morning, GOP aides argued that Democrats' decision to release the report could have political consequences, including the potential of future partisan-led investigations into public officials' finances… 'This is not what serious oversight looks like,' a GOP aide told reporters…" No sir, this is exactly what Congressional Oversight looks like, not the hilarious sideshows the GOP puts on.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Green Grow the Rushes, Oh

Linkee-poo has travelled many miles, over hedges and stiles in search of our king, unto you we bring

"On a day when millions of Americans were expected to be traveling for the winter holidays, a massive cold weather system marched across most of the contiguous United States, bringing record-breaking cold, gusty winds and dangerous precipitation to states from Montana to Alabama."

"The weather system, which may build into a 'bomb cyclone,' is expected to move east in the days leading up to Christmas, disrupting travel and causing hazardous winter conditions. Where is this winter weather coming from, and what’s in store for the coming days?"

"We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) and draft plant pest risk assessment (PPRA) evaluating the potential environmental impacts and plant pest risk that may result from the approval of a petition for nonregulated status for blight-tolerant Darling 58 American chestnut ( Castanea dentata ) from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The trees have been developed using genetic engineering to express an oxalate oxidase enzyme from wheat as a defense against the fungal pathogen Cryphonectria parasitica, making Darling 58 American chestnut tolerant to chestnut blight. We are making the draft EIS and draft PPRA available for public review and comment." Public comments are open until the 27th. I originally was all for this, even though, in general, I'm against genetic engineering of this type in human foods. Chestnuts were one of the dominate tree species in North America, the wood itself is beautiful (although some of this may be history through rose-tinted glasses), and IIRC, the chestnut blight fungus was imported. But having slept on this, I'm not concerned for many other things. First off, these chestnuts in the wild will certainly appear invasive because the original American Chestnut out competed many other hardwood species. How will this affect the forest ecosystem from the animals who eat the wood and nuts, make their homes in the trees, and then feast on the fallen trees. And all of this we won't have a real grasp on until our grandchildren's time. So right now I'm at a 50/50.(Grokked from Clay Hale)

"A 'Cousin Eddie' display in Kentucky apparently looked a little too real and police were called to check it out."

"Polar bears in Canada’s Western Hudson Bay — on the southern edge of the Arctic — are continuing to die in high numbers, a new government survey of the land carnivore has found. Females and bear cubs are having an especially hard time."

"Japan adopted a plan on Thursday to extend the lifespan of nuclear reactors, replace the old and even build new ones, a major shift in a country scarred by the Fukushima disaster that once planned to phase out atomic power."

"NASA, as a federal agency that funds and conducts research, is onboard with the idea of freely accessible data. But it has a plan that goes much further than the White House’s and that is highly problematic. The agency currently gives a proprietary period to some scientists who use particular facilities, such as a 12-month period for the powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), so that those scientists can gather and analyze data carefully without fear of their work being poached. NASA is looking to end this policy in its effort to make science more open-access."

"The average life expectancy for Americans shortened by over seven months last year, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… That decrease follows an already big decline of 1.8 years in 2020. As a result, the expected life span of someone born in the U.S. is now 76.4 years — the shortest it has been in nearly two decades."

"They are among the first crop of students being trained how to accompany patients tripping on psilocybin, as Oregon prepares to become the first U.S. state to offer controlled use of the psychedelic mushroom to the public."

"Shrugging off rampant inflation and rising interest rates, the U.S. economy grew at an unexpectedly strong 3.2% annual pace from July through September, the government reported Thursday in a healthy upgrade from its earlier estimate of third-quarter growth."

"A far-right extremist who killed two people in the German city of Halle three years ago after attempting to attack a synagogue has been moved to a new prison hundreds of kilometers (miles) away following an apparent jailbreak attempt."

"The White House said Thursday that the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company, has taken delivery of an arms shipment from North Korea to help bolster its forces as it fights side-by-side with Russian troops in Ukraine."

"But in the coming days, (Westpoint) will take down a portrait of Lee dressed in his Confederate uniform from its library, where it has been hanging since the 1950s and place it in storage. It will also remove the stone bust of the Civil War's top southern general at Reconciliation Plaza. And Lee's quote about honor will be stripped from the academy's Honor Plaza." Good.

"Francis used his annual Christmas greeting to the Roman Curia to again put the cardinals, bishops and priests who work in the Holy See on notice that they are by no means beyond reproach and are, in fact, particularly vulnerable to evil." Just in case your office holiday party is a little awkward.

"The minister of higher education in Afghanistan’s Taliban government has defended his decision to ban women from universities – a decree that triggered a global backlash and protests inside the country."

"North Korean hackers have stolen an estimated 1.5 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in cryptocurrency and other virtual assets in the past five years, more than half of it this year alone, South Korea's spy agency said Thursday."

"'We'll be here as long as the governor thinks we're adding value, we are serving as a deterrent,' says Burkett, but the city and county leaders are clear — the (Texas) National Guard is not helping… 'We specifically told them we did not want them to send troops or militarize the border any further,' says David Stout, a County Commissioner and chairman of the Texas Border Coalition, which includes elected officials and business leaders. 'We told them we need humanitarian assistance and not this political game they're playing.'"

"Arizona will take down a makeshift wall made of shipping containers at the Mexico border, settling a lawsuit and political tussle with the U.S. government over trespassing on federal lands."

"With a looming Friday deadline to fund the government, the Senate has approved a nearly $1.7 trillion government funding bill by a bipartisan vote of 68-29. The package now goes to the House for approval."

"A suburban Philadelphia county elections board voted Tuesday to certify its November results, a development Pennsylvania officials had said was required before they can issue a statewide certification."

"Fox News star Sean Hannity – one of former President Donald Trump's strongest allies on the air and one of his closest advisers off it – admitted under oath that he never believed the lie that Trump was cheated of victory in the 2020 presidential election by a voting tech company… That stands in contrast to what played out on some of Fox's biggest shows – including Hannity's. On television, Fox News hosts, stars and guests amplified and embraced such wild and false claims, made by Trump, his campaign lawyers and surrogates, presenting them to millions of viewers." Funny how the tune changes when they're under oath.

"The FBI arrested Eric Christie on Thursday after several hours in which he refused to cooperate with authorities after they arrived at a home in Sherman Oaks, California. Two law enforcement officials confirmed his arrest."

"Nearly two years after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the Democratic-led House committee investigating the attack released its full report Thursday… The report comes after the panel's final business hearing on Monday, where they recommended former President Donald Trump be prosecuted by the Department of Justice on four charges: obstruction of an official proceeding; conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to make a false statement; and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by assisting, aiding or comforting those involved in an insurrection."v "The House Jan. 6 committee’s final report asserts that Donald Trump criminally engaged in a 'multi-part conspiracy' to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election and failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking the Capitol, concluding an extraordinary 18-month investigation into the former president and the violent insurrection two years ago."

"Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson described to the House Jan. 6 committee a wide-ranging pressure campaign from Donald Trump’s allies aimed at influencing her cooperation with Congress and stifling potentially damaging testimony about him." Witness tampering.

"Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide in the Trump administration and a key witness in the House select committee hearings on the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, said she initially lied to the panel in a deposition about whether she'd heard that President Donald Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent in the presidential SUV on the day of the riot." The headline and this paragraph are intentionally misleading. Her lie was she originally said she had not heard anything about the incident.

"New transcripts of closed-door testimony to the Jan. 6 House committee show Donald Trump and his allies had a direct hand in the Nevada Republican Party’s scheme to send a phony electoral certificate to Congress in 2020 in a last-ditch attempt to keep the former president in power." And there's your smoking gun.

"Shortly after the 2020 election was called for Joe Biden, then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told his aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, that President Donald Trump knew he lost but wanted to keep fighting to overturn the results, according to a newly released transcript from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection." This is crucial knowledge for any court case against Trump. To be guilty of several of the charges that many of us are hoping will be brought, the prosecution must prove that Trump knew he lost and then made plans and acted to overthrow the results of that election to remain in power. If Trump's lawyer can prove that Trump believed the election "was stolen", that is a sufficient defense (because he would have been acting to restore the Constitution instead of attempting to tear it up).

"The Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday voted to release former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, raising the potential of additional revelations in the coming days related to the finances of the longtime businessman who broke political norms by refusing to voluntarily make public his returns as he sought the presidency."

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Winter Solstice

Linkee-poo ring out solstice bells

"Forecasters are warning of treacherous holiday travel and life-threatening cold for much of the nation as an arctic air mass blows into the already-frigid southern United States."

"In reality, they are among six news outlets across Alabama and Florida with financial connections to the consulting firm Matrix LLC, a joint investigation by Floodlight and NPR finds. The firm, based in Montgomery, Alabama, has boasted clients including Alabama Power and another major U.S. utility, Florida Power & Light." “Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.” - HL Mencken.

"'When a tar sands disaster like this happens, it is worse than a traditional oil spill. Because tar sands is much more difficult, expensive and much more toxic to clean up. We know that this is going to take years,' Kleeb told NPR. She said she's been monitoring oil spills, particularly tar sands spills, for 14 years."

"NASA's InSight lander has probably phoned home for the last time from the planet Mars… The space agency said the spacecraft did not respond to communications from Earth on Sunday, December 18. The lack of communications came as the lander's power-generating capacity has been declining in recent months due to the accumulation of Martian dust on its solar panels. NASA said that it is 'assumed' that InSight has reached the end of its operations but that it will continue to try to contact the lander in the coming days." (Grokked from John)

"The vote is a sign that even in the most conservative parts of California's Central Valley, home to the biggest source of America's fresh produce, attitudes are shifting. Farmers are coming to terms with the fact that their operations will have to change — and in many areas, shrink — to survive chronic drought, depleted aquifers and climate change."

"Germany has handed over 20 Benin Bronzes from its museums to Nigeria, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Tuesday, making it the latest European country to return cultural artifacts to their African homeland."

"The enormous cylindrical aquarium was a wonder, the centerpiece of a popular Berlin hotel. But in the early hours of Friday morning, it burst — and soon afterward, Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey said all of the roughly 1,500 fish the aquarium had contained were believed to be dead. Reports later emerged that workers might have been able to rescue some of the animals." Oh the humanity!

"Millions of people who enrolled in Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic could start to lose their coverage on April 1 if Congress passes the $1.7 trillion spending package leaders unveiled Tuesday… The legislation will sunset a requirement of the COVID-19 public health emergency that prohibited states from booting people off Medicaid. The Biden administration has been under mounting pressure to declare the public health emergency over, with 25 Republican governors asking the president to end it in a letter on Monday, which cited growing concerns about bloated Medicaid enrollment."

"In September, Relyvrio became only the third drug approved in the U.S. for ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable neurodegenerative disease that is usually fatal within five years. But patients and physicians who celebrated Relyvrio’s approval several months ago are now contending with the obstacles posed by the U.S. health care system."

"These loopholes have allowed the entire US productive economy to undergo mass consolidation, flying under regulatory radar. This affects industries as diverse as 'hospital beds, magic mushrooms, youth addiction treatment centers, mobile home parks, nursing homes, physicians’ practices, local newspapers, or e-commerce sellers,' but it's at its worst when it comes to services associated with trauma, where you don't shop around." Cory Doctorow on the quiet monopolies that have slowly swallowed much of the US service industry. This is why your bills for your pet care, emergency room doctors, urgent care doctors, funeral homes, etc have all skyrocketed while service has declined.

"Inflation, the curse of our pocketbooks and the Federal Reserve, has hit almost every good in the U.S. But the price of a beloved toy has managed to hover around $1 — for more than 50 years… Hot Wheels are a retail oddity. They remain one of the most affordable toys in the country at a time when inflation is chipping away at savings accounts and compounding credit card debt for many Americans, experts like James Zahn told NPR."

"The new procedures the U.S. Surface Transportation Board approved this week may give shippers a way to resolve rate disputes of less than $4 million in a matter of months instead of years, and at a much lower cost. But the major freight railroads expressed reservations about the new system that would take effect sometime early next year."

"Union Pacific says it will stop imposing temporary limits on certain businesses’ shipments while it reviews the policy that federal regulators and shippers criticized at a hearing last week."

"Elon Musk's $5.7 billion mystery donation in 2021 went to the Musk Foundation, Bloomberg reported on Monday… Earlier this year, it was revealed through a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the billionaire had given away more than 5 million Tesla shares in November 2021."

"More than half of 17.5 million users who responded to a poll that asked whether billionaire Elon Musk should step down as head of Twitter voted yes when the poll closed on Monday." And now he's floating "I can't find anyone" as well as "it was an exercise to expose the bots." As you say, Elon, Vox Populi, Vox Dei.

"General Motors Co said Tuesday it is recalling 140,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs in North America because the carpet could catch fire after a crash where a front seat belt pretensioner deploys."

"In a major boost for President Joe Biden’s pledge to eliminate gas-powered vehicles from the sprawling federal fleet, the Postal Service said Tuesday it will sharply increase the number of electric-powered delivery trucks — and will go all-electric for new purchases starting in 2026." Well, finally DeJoy does something right. Remember when he rolled back the purchases of electric vehicles for the Post Office just 2 years ago. IIRC this now delays the original plan by just a year.

"Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Tuesday banned female students from attending universities effective immediately in the latest edict cracking down on women’s rights and freedoms." Hey, remember when they said they wouldn't do that. It was like only last year.

"The Taliban have released two Americans held in Afghanistan in what appeared to be a 'goodwill gesture,' State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday… The release was not part of any larger prisoner swap, and no money changed hands, he told reporters."

"Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday inaugurated Germany’s first liquefied natural gas terminal, declaring that the speed with which it was put into service is a signal that Europe’s biggest economy will remain strong."

"Defense officials said Monday that Germany is readying decades-old armored personnel carriers for a key NATO force after the modern vehicles that should have been deployed suffered a mass breakdown." Oopsie.

How do you treat Nazis? "A German court on Tuesday convicted a 97-year-old woman of being an accessory to more than 10,000 murders for her role as a secretary to the SS commander of the Nazis’ Stutthof concentration camp during World War II."

"The US announced this week that it is providing a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine — but experts say that while it will be a valuable addition to the beleaguered country’s air defense, it’s not a cure-all."

"Harvey Weinstein, once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood whose many sex crimes helped ignite the #metoo movement, was convicted of 3 of 7 charges in his second sex crimes trial, this time in Los Angeles. The jury was unable to reach a verdict was on 3 of the charges. The 70-year-old is already serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault in New York."

"A university chancellor has publicly apologized after making a speech at a commencement ceremony in which he mocked Asian languages."

"The U.S. House passed a bill Thursday that would allow Puerto Rico to hold the first-ever binding referendum on whether to become a state or gain some sort of independence, in a last-ditch effort that stands little chance of passing the Senate."

"Congressional leaders unveiled a government-wide $1.7 trillion spending package early Tuesday that includes another large round of aid to Ukraine, a nearly 10% boost in defense spending and roughly $40 billion in emergency spending, mostly to assist communities across the country recovering from drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters."

"Ohio’s attorney general says he laments the pain that ensued after he suggested in a nationally televised interview that an account of a 10-year-old rape victim who sought an abortion in Indiana might have been a fabrication." It was just a misunderstanding. See, when I sought to be a seen as a dick, you all thought I was the dick. So potato/po-TAH-to. See, Yost, a professional would have said, "I can't comment because I haven't fully investigated the matter." Instead you chose to be a partisan hack. And for that, you were correctly pilloried.

"In his quest to rise to House speaker, Kevin McCarthy is charging straight into history — potentially becoming the first nominee in 100 years unable to win the job on a first-round floor vote."

"A leading New York Republican says accusations that GOP Congressman-elect George Santos, R-N.Y., faked much of his biography are 'serious.'… He referred to a story in The New York Times that appears to show key details of Santos' official campaign bio were fabricated."

"Kari Lake… gets her long-sought opportunity to make her case to a judge this week during a two-day trial scheduled to begin on Wednesday. She’ll have a chance to inspect ballots, call witnesses and introduce evidence in a bid to prove she was the rightful winner of the race, which Democrat Katie Hobbs won by just over 17,000 votes."

"Back in August, Florida officials announced they were charging 20 people with alleged voter fraud. It was the first big set of cases investigated by the state's new election crimes unit, which was created at the urging of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis… The statewide prosecutor recently secured one conviction through a plea deal. But at least three other cases so far have been dismissed on procedural grounds. And attorneys representing those who were charged say Florida's cases face a tough road — even if they make it to trial."

"In one of the last acts of the Democratic-led Congress, the House and the Senate are set to pass an overhaul of the Electoral Count Act, the arcane election law that then-President Donald Trump tried to subvert after his 2020 election defeat."

"Speaking at a conference of Orthodox Jews on Friday, Donald Trump did not address a widely criticized private meal he shared last month with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and a rapper who has spewed antisemitic conspiracies… The former president told the audience he was 'the best ally you’ve ever had.'"

"The IRS failed to pursue mandatory audits of Donald Trump on a timely basis during his presidency, a congressional panel found on Tuesday, raising questions about statements by the former president and leading members of his administration who claimed he could not release his tax filings because of the ongoing reviews."

"On Monday, The Daily Beast reported that former President Donald Trump is accompanied by a former host for the far-right One America News Network (OAN) while he golfs, who follows him around and reads him positive news stories to make him feel better." Whose the snowflake?

"Four months later, that sense of intensity and urgency was missing — at least for now — after the Jan. 6 House committee voted to recommend the Justice Department bring criminal charges against (Trump). Leading Republicans largely avoided the historic criminal referral Monday, while others pressed to weigh in offered muted defenses — or none at all."

"In creating his NFT collection, former President Trump seems to have borrowed images from across the internet, including clothing brands on Amazon and Walmart… However, journalists noticed that at least some of the images for the NFTs relied on photos of clothing you can buy online. For example, an NFT showing Trump wearing a cowboy outfit seems to be based on a duster jacket from Scully Leather, which is sold on Amazon and Walmart." And some of the images include licensing watermarks (which means the image used was a thumbnail downloaded before paying for the image).

"Nearly two years after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the Democratic-led House committee investigating the attack is set to release its full report Thursday."

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Linkee-poo the running of the deer

"USA Today’s weekly chart of top-selling books is on indefinite hiatus after the newspaper’s parent company, Gannett, laid off the editor in charge of compiling the list that’s closely followed in the publishing industry."

"NASA's new multibillion-dollar spacecraft successfully returned from the moon Sunday, taking the agency one step closer to getting U.S. astronauts back on the moon by 2025."

"Stop the Energy Shutdown, a campaign organized by oil and gas industry groups, said Tuesday it has collected enough signatures for a referendum to overturn SB 1137, the law that banned new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet (975 meters) of highly populated places. It was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in September."

"Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy have reached a breakthrough in nuclear fusion… For the first time ever in a laboratory, researchers were able to generate more energy from fusion reactions than they used to start the process. The total gain was around 150%." Still a long way to get to a commercial product.

"Americans can order four more free COVID-19 tests through the mail, starting on Thursday. It's part of the Biden administration's plan to deal with an increase in COVID cases sparked by indoor holiday gatherings."

"A 'secret shopper' accountability study shows that medical patients can’t readily schedule appointments by phone through Medicaid providers in New Mexico, even as the state and federal government spend $8.8 billion annually on the health care program that serves nearly half of state residents."

"But this is a healthier place than West Virginia in many respects. The region's residents are less likely to die prematurely, data shows. And on average, they live four years longer than West Virginians… There is another important difference between this former coal territory and its Appalachian counterpart: West Virginia's economic struggles have been compounded by medical debt, a burden that affects about 100 million people in the U.S. — in no state more than West Virginia… In the Saarland, medical debt is practically nonexistent." While Germany has a "free market" of health insurance "like the US" their system is more that the government states that 1) insurance companies are non-profit and 2) details the plans to a greater extent than Obamacare and then allows the non-profits to administer that plan, and finally 3) standardized care, medical claims, and all the back end processes. They also have price controls.

"Still eager to hire, America’s employers are posting more job openings than they did before the pandemic struck 2½ years ago. Problem is, there aren’t enough applicants. The nation’s labor force is smaller than when the pandemic struck." Here we go again.

"Shares skidded in Europe and Asia on Thursday after a retreat on Wall Street by investors dismayed over the Federal Reserve’s warning that still more interest rate hikes are in store following its latest increase."

"But D.C.’s permanent free fare plan will be by far the biggest, coming at a time when major cities including Boston and Denver and states such as Connecticut are considering broader zero-fare policies to improve equity and help regain ridership that was lost with the rise of remote and hybrid work."

"Elon Musk, the billionaire who wants nothing more in life than to be adored by legions of fans, was loudly booed by a crowd in San Francisco on Sunday night after he was invited onstage by comedian Dave Chappelle. And the footage is pretty rough, even if you don’t particularly like Musk."

"Elon Musk’s Twitter has dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the advisory group of around 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform."

"Musk and his allies promote these tweet threads — dubbed the 'Twitter Files' — as bombshell revelations proving that Twitter intentionally muzzled conservatives because of their political views. That's a long-running claim by Republicans who are convinced social media companies censor them, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Twitter's internal researchers, for example, have found its algorithms favor right-leaning political content."

"Rowe has been immersing himself like that in some of the toughest professions for years as host of 'Dirty Jobs' every Sunday on Discovery and streaming on discovery+. A new season started this month." Just a reminder that Rowe threw his hat in with Trump because he thought Trump would help out those people he highlights on his show.

"Business is bouncing back in Bethlehem after two years in the doldrums during the coronavirus pandemic, lifting spirits in the traditional birthplace of Jesus ahead of the Christmas holiday."

"The anger of Peruvians against their government is nowhere more visible than in Andahuaylas, a remote rural Andean community where the poor have struggled for years and where voters’ support helped elect now-ousted President Pedro Castillo, himself a peasant like them." Remember when I said there was a lot more to this story.

"In this Tuscan town, some cooks have rediscovered the energy-saving cooking box, a tool their grandparents used during World War II. An enterprising nonprofit here is producing useful — and stylish — insulating boxes that use less gas than traditional Italian cooking."

"Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pressed Western leaders again on Monday to provide more advanced weapons to help his country in its war with Russia, and he repeated his calls for Russian forces to withdraw from occupied areas of Ukraine, suggesting Christmas as a date to retreat."

"Benjamin Netanyahu, soon expected to return to office as Israel's prime minister, is defending his effort to assemble a government with far-right ultranationalists… Facing criticism in Israel and abroad, Netanyahu previously had not spoken in detail about Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel's most polarizing far-right politician, now in line to be Netanyahu's minister of national security overseeing the police." Not a good look. "Netanyahu said, and maintained that he — not his allies — will call the shots on policy. 'They are joining me. I'm not joining them.'" Well, one, Benny, you ain't that moderate yourself. And two, well, tell me how that's worked out for the Republican Party here in the US.

"Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro clashed with police Monday, setting fire to several vehicles and allegedly attempting to invade the federal police’s headquarters in capital city Brasilia."

"Most registered voters in Tennessee want exceptions for rape or incest in the state’s sweeping abortion ban, but they largely don’t know the specifics of what’s in the law as it stands today, according to new Vanderbilt University polling." This is my shocked face.

"A large study by U.S. highway safety regulators found that more than half the people injured or killed in traffic crashes had one or more drugs, or alcohol, in their bloodstreams." Not exactly a surprising finding.

"Seventy-four percent said Congress should compromise. But Americans have gotten more pessimistic that their leaders will try to reach across the aisle. The 58% who said they have no confidence Congress will do so is more than double the level found in 2008, when just 23% said so." No, what we want is for Congress to work, which we all believe means "compromise." We're tired of the political games and one upsmanship.

For example… "The top-ranking Republican in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives asked a court late Friday to prevent voters from filling three vacant seats in February that will determine majority control of the chamber."

"Weakness in any part of that voting bloc could have implications during the next presidential race. Biden, who will be a few weeks shy of his 82nd birthday on Election Day 2024, says he intends to run again. Trump, 76, has already announced his candidacy." Oh, it's time for the "Generational politics" process stories again. Yippie.

"The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation said it has submitted to state prosecutors the findings of its voter fraud probe into Mark Meadows, a former White House chief of staff to President Donald Trump, who was simultaneously registered to vote in North Carolina and two other states earlier this year."

"At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of bills to tweak the initiative process, from 33 in 2017 to more than a 100 in 2021 and 2022, according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a group which provides research and support to groups promoting ballot measures… While not all would restrict the process, many propose new requirements for the number of signatures needed, where the signatures must come from, or increase the threshold to pass a measure."

"President Biden signed into law Tuesday a bipartisan bill that codifies same-sex and interracial marriages with a large celebration on the South Lawn of the White House."

Remember how conservative like "local control" of schools? "The latest proposal to give Ohio’s governor more power overseeing K-12 education cleared the state Senate with a ban on transgender student-athletes in girls sports but hit a roadblock hours later when the legislation fell several votes short of passage in the House early Thursday." They like local control right up until they lose control of those local school boards.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Linkee-poo in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on Earth I said

"More than 500 authors have signed a letter supporting members of the HarperCollins Union, who are currently on strike. The signees include HarperCollins' own authors and those associated with other publishers, including names such as Barbara Kingsolver, Jacqueline Woodson, Kwame Alexander, and more."

"A Tokyo company aimed for the moon with its own private lander Sunday, blasting off atop a SpaceX rocket with the United Arab Emirates' first lunar rover and a toylike robot from Japan that's designed to roll around up there in the gray dust."

"Truck manufacturers and an industry trade group privately lobbied to weaken U.S. climate policies while publicly promoting zero-emissions trucks, according to a new report from a think tank that tracks corporate influence on climate policy."

"State officials have delayed approving an expansion for a wood pellet plant in northeastern North Carolina while they consider concerns about how the plant affects the environment and nearby communities of color."

"A winter storm packing powerful winds, heavy rain and potentially several feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada shut down mountain highways, toppled trees and triggered flood watches and avalanche warnings on Saturday from the coast of Northern California to Lake Tahoe."

"I've heard all the supposed arguments. It seems every time anything even tangentially related to electric cars is published, certain people feel compelled to share their own research. You've probably heard it all, too: A Prius is worse for the planet than a Hummer. EVs are coal-powered cars. Electric cars produce more CO2 than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Lithium mining is uniquely bad for the environment. Cobalt mining relies largely on slave labor, if not child slave labor. Actually, that last part is sadly true. But the rest? Lies."

"The Keystone pipeline spill in a creek running through rural pastureland in Washington County, Kansas, about 150 miles northwest of Kansas City, also was the biggest in the system's history, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data. The operator, Canada-based TC Energy, said the pipeline that runs from Canada to Oklahoma lost about 14,000 barrels, or 588,000 gallons."

"Two lead sarcophaguses discovered buried under the nave at Notre Dame Cathedral in what was described as an “extraordinary and emotional” find have begun giving up their secrets, French scientists announced on Friday."

"But today the Dead Sea is dying, and its banks are collapsing. The water level is dropping close to 4 feet every year. The main part of the lake is now around 950 feet deep — about 15% shallower, and a third of the surface area, compared to its shape half a century ago."

"Public health officials are revisiting the topic of indoor masking, as three highly contagious respiratory viruses take hold during the holiday season… Over the past few weeks, a surge in cases of COVID, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus — known as RSV — has been sickening millions of Americans, overwhelming emergency rooms and even causing a cold medicine shortage. The triple threat has been called a 'tripledemic' by some health experts."

"The jet transformed an industry, bringing luxurious amenities and lengthy nonstop flights to the masses — all in a design that was both enormous and elegant. But the reign of the mighty 747 has ended, and Boeing says the last plane left its assembly line this week, after 54 years of production."

A Planet Money podcast on… "Jelle says that these are custom-built. Each one costs nearly 500 dollars. And Jelle has a problem with his cheese racks. Once the cheese is sold, the racks are supposed to be returned to him. But out of the 2000 or so racks his company owns, he can only account for a couple dozen. Even in this friendly industry, Jelle's customers are just not returning the racks."

"Lee is one of the quarter of Americans who live in multigenerational households. According to a 2021 Pew Research study, such arrangements (defined as two or more adult generations living together) have been on the rise for the past 50 years. The trend is growing fastest among those between ages 25 and 34." Oh look, it's the 90s again.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Moscow could adopt what he described as a U.S. concept of using preemptive military strikes, noting it has the weapons to do the job, in a blunt statement amid rising Russia-NATO tensions over Ukraine." Ah, more saber rattling. This really doesn't change Russia's nuclear strategy, it's just Vladi thinking he is being clever. Also note the reason for retaining first strike options, because launching a response would be severely limited. This is because, again, there is no such thing as a limited nuclear strike. If you've decided to use them, the only logical step is to launch everything all at once.

"Pregnant patients with diabetes, like Petranek, have elevated risks of birth defects, preterm birth, preeclampsia and more. 'Even though my diabetes is well managed, it's always a risk,' she says. And in places that ban abortion, care for complications can be more difficult to access if doctors and nurses are nervous about being accused of violating the law."

"U.S. authorities have apprehended a Libyan man suspected of constructing the bomb that destroyed a passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people, including 190 Americans."

"A makeshift new barrier built with shipping containers is being illegally erected along part of the US-Mexico border by Arizona’s Republican governor – before he has to hand over the keys of his office to his Democratic successor in January… Doug Ducey is driving a project that is placing double-stacked old shipping containers through several miles of national forest, attempting to fill gaps in Donald Trump’s intermittent border fencing."

"A 2020 story about Hunter Biden's hacked laptop keeps finding its way back into the news cycle. On this week's On the Media, a look at Elon Musk's so-called Twitter Files and whether they’re newsworthy. Plus, the meteoric rise and fraught future of HBO, which turned 50 this year."

"The Florida lawmaker who sponsored the controversial law critics call “Don’t Say Gay” resigned on Thursday, one day after authorities announced his indictment on charges of defrauding a federal coronavirus loan program for small businesses."

"The first Gen Z member of Congress was denied a D.C. apartment due to bad credit."

"That said, there is, of course, some speculation on the matter, with the most prominent rumor pertaining to the lawmaker's presence at the 2021 Met Gala. At the time, Ocasio-Cortez instantly ruffled feathers with her designer "Tax the Rich" dress, a (somewhat ironic) message upon which Republicans instantly seized. But two ethics complaints later followed, alleging the lawmaker broke the House's Gift Rule by accepting what may have been free tickets to the gala and/or by wearing the designer dress. Further, if Ocasio-Cortez "used campaign funds to pay for this ticket, she has also violated FEC prohibitions on campaign funds being used for entertainment purposes," Thomas Jones, founder of the conservative American Accountability Foundation, added in his complaint."

"Sinema told Politico she will not caucus with Republicans. She also said she won't attend weekly Democratic Caucus meetings, but rarely does that now. And she wrote in her op-ed that becoming an independent won't change her work in the Senate, adding that 'my service to Arizona remains the same.'" I'm sure it's totally not about fending off a primary challenge from the left.

Wait, Originalism might be at odds with the current conservative ideology? Well, time for a new legal theory… "In conservative legal circles, Vermeule has become the most prominent proponent of 'common good constitutionalism,' a controversial new theory that challenges many of the fundamental premises and principles of the conservative legal movement. The cornerstone of Vermeule’s theory is the claim that “the central aim of the constitutional order is to promote good rule, not to ‘protect liberty’ as an end in itself” — or, in layman’s terms, that the Constitution empowers the government to pursue conservative political ends, even when those ends conflict with individual rights as most Americans understand them." Originalism was a bullshit theory. This new one is even deeper in the manure pile.

"The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is planning to release its final report and a hold a "formal presentation," which could include a hearing, the week of Dec. 19. Specifically, members are eyeing the date of Dec. 21, according to sources familiar with the panel's proceedings."

An On the Media Podcast mini-series called the Divide Dial about AM talk radio, its conservative leanings, and it's rise in America. The podcast is in 5 episodes (IIRC). Episode 1, "We meet the company whose hosts never backed down from the lies of the stolen 2020 election: Salem Media Group, the largest Christian, conservative multimedia company in the country – and perhaps the most influential media company you’ve never heard of." Episode 2: From Pulpit to Politics, Episode 3 - The Liberal Bias Boogeyman, and Episode 4 - From The Extreme to The Mainstream. Episode 5 will most likely post in the middle of this week.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Linkee-poo praise be to the distant sister sun, joyful as the silver planets run

Kirstie Alley and Bob McGrath, and so it goes.

"Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday in a high-profile prisoner exchange, as the U.S. released notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout but failed to win freedom for another American, Paul Whelan, who has been jailed for nearly four years."

"But that night, instead of taking down what she wrote, she stared at her tweet in shock as a mass of authors, including some of the most renowned novelists in the world, replied with their own experiences of low turnout."

When you work in a creative field you'll come across lots of people who will try to stop you, even other creatives. While much of this story about a boyfriend writer leaving a woman who had a book published is framed as he was jealous of her success, it sounds more like it was a controlling, dysfunctional thing and this was a play to either regain control over her, or manipulate here in some manner. Don't allow people to do this to you. Your partner, spouse, significant other should support you. They should be honest with you. But even if it comes to not being able to live together anymore, they should still be one of your greatest cheerleaders. Lift up those in your life. Help them be the best they can be.

"It's official: 2023 is the year of magenta. That's according to the Pantone Color Institute, the authoritative consultancy that's christened an "it color" every year for more than two decades." I'll just note that there are many "colors of the year" for different market segments, and those are just from Pantone (several other systems also have "colors of the year"). Also note that while there are RGB, CMYK and Hex "equivalents," the only way to get the actual color is to pay Pantone for their inks and colorants (long discussion of color spaces and their inherent shortcomings in representation in both subtractive and additive color).

Dan points me to this new e-motorcycle, the Ryvid Anthem. Looks like a good contender.

"Researchers from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart, Tasmania, have finally found the long-lost remains of the last known Tasmanian tiger, which have been missing for more than 85 years."

"Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 230,000 for the week ending Dec. 3, up by 4,000 from the previous week’s 226,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, rose by 1,000 to 230,000."

"A federal investigation found child labor violations involving more than a hundred teenagers at McDonald's locations in the Pittsburgh area, the U.S. Department of Labor said on Monday." Shocked, shocked I am…

"Major freight railroads are facing pressure to add sick days for their workers from a new front: An influential investment group says some of its members are now pushing the measure that Congress declined to as part of the contracts they imposed last week to avert a potentially devastating nationwide rail strike."

"The first-ever U.S. auction of leases to develop commercial-scale floating wind farms in the deep waters off the West Coast attracted $757 million in winning bids Wednesday from mostly European companies, in a project watched by other regions and countries just getting their own plans for floating offshore wind started."

"California could become the first state to fine big oil companies for making too much money, a reaction to the industry’s supersized profits following a summer of record-high gas prices in the nation’s most populous state."

"For years, the rental car company Hertz falsely accused hundreds of innocent customers of stealing its vehicles — accusations that, for some customers, resulted in arrests, felony charges and jail time… Now, the company will pay $168 million to settle those claims, Hertz announced Monday."

"More than a century of overgrowth on this West Virginia hillside has erased any trace of the graveyard known locally as Little Egypt, the resting place for dozens of coal miners who died in a 1912 mine explosion. Most people living in McDowell County — a dwindling community that once was the world’s leading coal producer — don’t know this place exists." The other cost of the fossil fuel industry.

"The Saudi-led OPEC oil cartel and allied producers including Russia did not change their targets for shipping oil to the global economy amid uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market." And yet, the price of gas goes down dramatically after the election.

"Authorities in Germany arrested 25 people on Wednesday who are suspected of planning to violently overthrow the government in a far-right extremist plot."

"The far-right coup plotters had mapped out their own government, with people chosen for cabinet-like roles if they succeeded in overthrowing Germany's elected leaders. That's among the revelations shared by German officials on Wednesday in an update on what they say was a conspiracy foiled by a massive anti-terrorism operation."

"Iran said Thursday it executed a prisoner convicted for a crime allegedly committed during the country’s ongoing nationwide protests, the first such death penalty carried out by Tehran."

"Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Thursday called Castillo’s removal a 'soft coup' fueled by deep-seated racism against the former school teacher from the heavily indigenous Andean highlands. López Obrador said that he had greenlighted Castillo’s request for asylum that he made in a phone call to the Mexican president’s office. But he said those plans were frustrated when Castillo was intercepted by police on his way to the Mexican Embassy in Lima, where a group of protesters awaited." There's a lot more to this story than the simplified version told in US media and social media.

"On one side is the state of Colorado, which like 29 other states, requires businesses that are open to the public to offer equal access to everyone, regardless of race, religion, and sexual orientation, and gender. On the other side are business owners who see themselves as artists and don't want to use their talents to express a message they disagree with." At SCOTUS again. And again, there's a simple remedy, don't open your business to the general public. If you want to make "art," don't mess around with crass commercialism.

"High schoolers in New Mexico could one day need fewer class-unit credits to get their diploma, as state legislators began to overhaul graduation requirements Tuesday for consideration by lawmakers in early 2023." Why can't Johnny read?

"A gunfire attack on two electrical substations in rural North Carolina has left tens of thousands of people without power, schools closed, a curfew imposed, and authorities investigating what they say was an intentional, criminal attack… As the outages continued into Monday, questions persisted about who carried out the attack and what could have been their motive in knocking out power to Moore County and its 100,000 residents." The word you're fishing for is "domestic terrorism." And one of the possible reasons for the attack was :: checks notes here :: a drag show.

"Duke Energy said Wednesday it has completed repairs on substation equipment damaged in shootings over the weekend that cut power to thousands of central North Carolina homes and it expects power to be fully restored by midnight."

"More than 14 years after the original deadline, the enforcement of REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses or IDs has been pushed back once again… The Transportation Security Administration and other federal agencies were expected to only accept the nationally approved IDs starting May 3, 2023. But on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the deadline would be extended until May 7, 2025." Ah, another fantastic program launched by conservative politics. Great job.

"Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is considering allowing express toll lanes on highways and tripling a fee for electric car owners as he targets his first big push after winning reelection — paying for tens of billions of dollars in roadway projects."

"Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has won a full term in the U.S. Senate, defeating Republican football legend Herschel Walker in a campaign that tested Georgia's position as a purple state and spurred debates about race, celebrity and partisan politics." But that was way too close for such an obvious slam dunk.

"Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, a well-connected Florida Republican, has been arrested on federal charges that include failing to register as a foreign agent. The case centers on Rivera's signing of a $50 million contract with Venezuela's government in early 2017, and his subsequent attempts to thaw Venezuela's icy relationship with the U.S."

"The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of those unions that reflects a stark turnaround in societal attitudes."

"A jury in Manhattan has found former President Donald Trump's company guilty of a long-running criminal tax fraud scheme that lasted into his presidency… Though Trump and his company have repeatedly faced criminal investigations, this case marks the first time his company has been charged, tried, and convicted on criminal charges." Note, not him personally (although convincing evidence was made that he personally knew and approved the schemes). Can't wait to hear the conservative defense (which will be some flavor of "it's smart to pay less in taxes").

"Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson confirmed Thursday that her office has been served a subpoena in connection with special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation of former President Donald Trump."

"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back on Tuesday against former president and current 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump's calls to terminate the Constitution… McConnell did not answer if he would ultimately support Trump if he were the 2024 GOP nominee, and instead reiterated his same remarks." Well that only took :: checks watch :: four days longer than it should. And he didn't answer the question of would he support Trump if Trump somehow won the GOP nomination in 2024. Coward.

"At least two items marked as classified were found in a storage unit in West Palm Beach, Florida, after lawyers for former President Donald Trump arranged for a firm to search for additional classified material, according to a published report Wednesday. The items were provided to the FBI."

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Linkee-poo, hallelujah, everybody say cheese, Merry Christmas from the family

"Italian archaeologists are hailing a recent discovery as the 'most exceptional' in the last half-century. They believe it could rewrite the history of the relationship between the Etruscan and Roman civilizations."

"The U.S. is enduring an unprecedented poultry health disaster, with a highly contagious bird flu virus triggering the deaths of some 52.7 million animals."

"A measles outbreak in the Columbus, Ohio, area has nearly tripled in the last two weeks as officials say they're struggling to identify the geographic spread of the outbreak and expect it to drag on for months… Confirmed cases have risen from 18 in mid-November to the confirmed case count of 50, as of Friday morning. Twenty of the cases have required hospitalization. No deaths have been reported." Hey, ho, way to go, Ohio. (Grokked from John)

"The November employment report the government issued Friday was no exception. Employers added 263,000 jobs — a substantial gain that was far above economists’ expectations. Wages rose robustly, too, further intensifying the inflationary pressures the Fed has been struggling to contain." There's a lot of hand wrangling these days over why the interest hikes having brought inflation to heel, but all of those are based on the assumption that a "normal" market is driving inflation. However, if corporate greed is driving inflation, using supply constraints as cover, interest rate hikes won't slow it. Most likely it would have the opposite effect.

"The Group of Seven nations and Australia joined the European Union on Friday in adopting a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil, a key step as Western sanctions aim to reorder the global oil market to prevent price spikes and starve President Vladimir Putin of funding for his war in Ukraine."

"FIFA's Stadium Code of Conduct for this year's event, put into effect in July, prohibits fans from bringing in tools or weapons, as well as flags or other materials that are deemed political or discriminatory. It also advises that any helmet or mask that covers the face, besides a medical mask and/or national and religious headwear, is not permitted."

"Iran's morality police, which is tasked with enforcing the country's Islamic dress code, is being disbanded, the country's attorney general says." I'll believe it when it happens.

"America’s newest nuclear stealth bomber made its debut Friday after years of secret development and as part of the Pentagon’s answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China."

"A county judge ruled Friday that Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita violated state law, breaking confidentiality in his office’s investigation of Dr. Caitlin Bernard… But the judge also denied Bernard’s request to put a halt to Rokita’s investigation."

"An attempt to block a probe by Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office was rejected by Marion County Judge Heather Welch. She also ruled Friday in a separate lawsuit that Indiana’s abortion ban adopted in August violates the state’s religious freedom law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence in 2015. The Indiana abortion ban, however, has been on hold since mid-September as courts consider a challenge from abortion clinic operators who argue the ban violates the state constitution."

And in a widely expected move… "Infowars host Alex Jones filed for personal bankruptcy protection Friday in Texas, citing debts that include nearly $1.5 billion he has been ordered to pay to families who sued him over his conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school massacre."

"The Pennsylvania state Senate on Wednesday began what could be a long and partisan process of considering whether to force Philadelphia’s Democratic district attorney, Larry Krasner, from office."

"Two far-right operatives who told tens of thousands of people not to vote by mail in a robocall scheme will now have to spend 500 hours registering people to vote thanks to a legal sentence from an Ohio judge."

"A federal appeals court on Thursday ended an independent review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump's Florida estate, removing a hurdle the Justice Department said had delayed its criminal investigation into the retention of top-secret government information."

"In the end, it wasn’t a last-minute smoking gun but a prosecutor insisting that evidence shows Donald Trump was aware of a scheme that his Trump Organization’s executives hatched to avoid paying personal income taxes on millions of dollars worth of company-paid perks."

"Former President Donald Trump called for the termination of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election and reinstate him to power Saturday in a continuation of his election denialism and pushing of fringe conspiracy theories."

"Republican Rep. Dave Joyce said Sunday that he didn't want to be drawn into commenting on Donald Trump's recent call to suspend the Constitution over baseless claims of 2020 election fraud… Joyce initially declined to do so, saying the public wasn't 'interested in looking backwards.' But Stephanopoulos followed up and Joyce ultimately said that Trump's comment shouldn't be taken seriously but that it wouldn't lead him to pull potential support for Trump's 2024 comeback bid." Fuck you, Joyce. Seriously, this is not a hard decision. But it does show the spinelessness of the Republican party.

"But not anymore. Today, despite midterm elections that failed to see the sweeping Republican victories that many had predicted, they remain a cornerstone of the conservative electoral base. Across the country, victories went to candidates who believe in QAnon and candidates who believe the separation of church and state is a fallacy. In Wisconsin, a U.S. senator who dabbles in conspiracy theories and pseudoscience was reelected - crushing his opponent in St. Croix County." Ah, the narrative of the reluctant extremist.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Linkee-poo, you're the only one

Irene Cara and Christine McVie, and so it goes.

"The man who brought us Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the whole Peanuts gang would (have turned) 100 (Nov 26th)."

"On Monday, first lady Jill Biden revealed this year's Christmas decorations, under the theme "We the People," which she selected months ago. The White House says more than 150 volunteers came together to decorate the building over the course of a week."

John Scalzi has some opinions on AI generated art. "Second, some thoughts about AI-generated art I’ve had recently, which I posted on my personal Facebook account but am reposting here to open up the discussion a bit." I have my own thinky thoughts, but I think John is taking a solid look at the issue. I have a feeling the rise of AI generated art will change the illustration (and eventually photo retouching, where it's already in limited commercial use) industry's practices in the same way Desktop Publishing changed graphic design. It will democratize the tools, there will be a rush to use them, illustrators will be constantly asked which AI they use, and (in general) graphic design quality will be taken down a few more notches. I see a big future in editorial illustration for AI art (once issues of copyright are resolved, and maybe even if they aren't). There also exists the questions surrounding how these tools are taught, and the legalities of using existing artists' work to produce these images. I'm not entirely convinced of the arguments here as many of us "artists" (note, I'm a graphic designer) studied and copied the masters to get better and to learn our craft. In some ways, using existing art to train a computer isn't that far removed from redrawing masterworks or tearing apart a design to learn how it works (although there are legal differences between my mind and computer storage). And I think the question of "reuse of copyrighted materials" also hinges on how these training images influence the rendering engine. Style and illustrative "voice" (lexicon, individual preferences, etc) are not copyrightable. If, however, the engine samples existing work in the way musicians sample sound, then the illustrators may have a case. The problems for the overall scheme of AI generated art comes when they destroy the market for human illustrators, what will be left for the AI engines to learn from? Stagnation and degeneracy in the visual arts is a huge blinking red light in the fall of civilizations.

"Three Tribal communities in Alaska and Washington that have been severely impacted by the effects of climate change on their homes are getting $75 million from the Biden administration to help relocate to higher ground."

"Some of the brightest light in the Universe comes from supermassive black holes, in fact. Well, not actually the black holes themselves; it's the material around them as they actively slurp down vast amounts of matter from their immediate surroundings."

"The World Health Organization has renamed monkeypox as mpox, citing concerns the original name of the decades-old animal disease could be construed as discriminatory and racist."

"About 1.8 million more chickens must be killed in Nebraska to prevent the spread of a highly pathogenic bird flu virus, state officials said, as the U.S. sees its worst outbreak of the disease in seven years… The state's latest spate of bird flu was found on an egg-laying farm in northeast Nebraska's Dixon County, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture said Saturday."

"In the past year, the rural hospital’s cash reserves have plummeted, and patient traffic has slowed. Many of those who do come are uninsured, meaning unless they pay out-of-pocket, or pursue some other form of financial assistance, the hospital is unlikely to be reimbursed for their care. And the Medicare loan that helped the hospital in the pandemic now costs Greenwood Leflore more than $100,000 per month."

"The U.K.’s ambulance service is seizing up in some areas as the country’s health system faces an inferno of pressures, including rising demand for care after pandemic restrictions were eased; a surge in flu and other winter viruses after two lockdown years; and staff shortages from pandemic burnout and a post-Brexit drought of European workers in Britain. Thousands of hospital beds are also occupied by people who are fit to be discharged but have nowhere to go because of a dearth of places for long-term care."

"Indiana's Republican attorney general on Wednesday asked the state medical licensing board to discipline an Indianapolis doctor who has spoken publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled from Ohio after its more-restrictive abortion law took effect." Because she told the truth, was believable, and damaged the anti-abortion steamroller.

"Today, that joy is overshadowed by fear that his access to treatment may soon disappear because of a 2021 law passed in Arkansas, Brandt's home state, that bans gender-affirming care for transgender youth like himself. Brandt is now part of an ACLU lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban, and says that if the law is upheld, he and his family would have to leave the state."

"Just weeks later, the Jacksons were en route to Cumberland, a small city near the Allegheny mountains in western Maryland, where Cass’ older sibling lived. Cass’ sibling, Bug, is also transgender and would provide a new home for Cass, their mother and their other sister. Unemployed and without a plan, the family felt their only option was to flee a state they had never intended to leave. They were leaving their home."

"The House has passed a resolution 290-137 that would force unions to accept a tentative agreement reached earlier this year between railroad managers and their workers and make an imminent strike illegal… President Biden has been leading the effort to head off a strike that could upend transportation of goods and services, skyrocketing prices on everyday items, including gasoline."

"A measure of inflation that is closely monitored by the Federal Reserve eased but remained at an elevated level in October, likely reinforcing the Fed’s intent to keep raising interest rates to cool the economy and slow the acceleration of prices."

"Black Friday sales raked in a record $9.12 billion from online shoppers this year despite concerns of inflation and higher prices, according to estimates… The $9.12 billion figure is up from $8.92 billion in 2021 and $9.03 billion the previous year, according to Adobe Analytics. Inflation accounts for some of the increase this year, with people paying more to buy less."

"A top European Union official warned Elon Musk on Wednesday that Twitter needs to beef up measures to protect users from hate speech, misinformation and other harmful content to avoid violating new rules that threaten tech giants with big fines or even a ban in the 27-nation bloc."

"Another crypto company has fallen, as contagion from the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX spreads across the industry: BlockFi says it has filed for bankruptcy."

"Mortgage rates soared over 7% just a month ago, but since then they have fallen more than half a percentage point. Still, mortgage loan application volume decreased 0.8% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index." So now you know that all the talk about how mortgage rates are tied to the Fed overnight rate is bullshit.

"The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits came back down last week, hovering near levels suggesting the U.S. labor market has been largely unaffected by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes."

"Hundreds of coal miners in Brookwood, Ala., reached a milestone Thursday: They've spent 20 months on strike… That's well past the six-week average for strikes, according to Bloomberg Law. The miners believe it's the longest strike in Alabama's history."

"On the southern outskirts of Ezhou, a city in central China’s Hubei province, a giant apartment-style building overlooks the main road. But it is not for office workers or families. At 26 storeys it is by far the biggest single-building pig farm in the world, with a capacity to slaughter 1.2 million pigs a year."

"The Biden administration on Saturday eased some oil sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to support newly restarted negotiations between President Nicolás Maduro's government and its opposition."

"With police out in force, there was no word of additional protests against strict government anti-pandemic measures Tuesday in Beijing, as temperatures fell well below freezing. Shanghai, Nanjing and other cities where online calls to gather had been issued were also reportedly quiet."

"Russia’s foreign minister accused the West on Thursday of becoming directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and training its soldiers." That's not what being directly involved entails, Sergey.

"The European Union proposed Wednesday to set up a U.N.-backed court to investigate possible war crimes Russia committed in Ukraine, and to use frozen Russian assets to rebuild the war-torn country."

"The Department of Justice is suing the City of Jackson for violations of the Clean Drinking Water Act and is seeking to revoke the city’s control over its water systems. Jackson is already under two federal court orders for violating EPA water standards."

"The officer pressed his weight into the subject's small body while school staff watched it all unfold. The person he was restraining was 7 years old… That child — a second grader with autism at a North Carolina school — was ultimately pinned on the floor for 38 minutes, according to body camera video of the incident. At one point, court records say, the officer put his knee in the child's back. "

"Officials in a northeastern Pennsylvania county where paper shortages caused Election Day ballot problems deadlocked Monday on whether to report official vote tallies to the state, effectively preventing their certification of the results."

"Two counties in a couple of swing states turned what is usually an uneventful step in the election process into a political flashpoint on Monday… Officials in rural, Republican-controlled Cochise County of southeastern Arizona, near Tucson, voted to delay certifying the results of this year's midterm elections and to miss the state's legal deadline of Monday, despite finding no legitimate problems with the local counts."

"The extended Senate campaign in Georgia between the Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, and his Republican challenger, football legend Herschel Walker, has grown increasingly bitter as their Dec. 6 runoff nears. With Democrats already assured a Senate majority, it’s a striking contrast from two years ago, when the state’s twin runoffs were mostly about which party would control the chamber in Washington."

"House Republicans are promising aggressive oversight of the Biden administration once they assume the majority next year, with a particular focus on the business dealings of presidential son Hunter Biden, illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and the originations of COVID-19."

"A Florida prosecutor suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis opened his federal civil trial against the governor Tuesday with testimony that alleged his removal was based on his personal political positions on abortion and transgender rights."

"According to a report from former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitchell Epner at the Daily Beast, Donald Trump's legal problems may be growing exponentially because there appears to be evidence he attempted to use the IRS to persecute political enemies before he lost re-election."

"The defense rested Monday at the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial after a contentious day in court, putting the case involving former President Donald Trump’s real estate empire on track for deliberations next week."

"The author knocks on the doors bearing the darkest symbols, behind which lie guns, ammo, antisemitism, antiabortion dogma—and a belief in the coming civil war."