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

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Linkee-poo Thursday March 31, out like a lion

"Bruce Willis is retiring from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia… The 67-year-old actor's family shared the news on Instagram Wednesday, writing alongside a photo of him on their Instagram feeds, 'To Bruce's amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities.'" Oh that sucks. And I think it's weird that the media completely ignores his acting on the TV series Moonlighting.

"A line of severe storms packing isolated tornadoes and high winds ripped across the Deep South overnight, killing at least two in the Florida Panhandle, toppling trees and power lines and leaving homes and businesses damaged as the vast weather front raced across several states."

"A wildfire burning near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Sevier County, Tennessee, has grown to more than 3,700 acres and impacted more than 100 structures, County Mayor Larry Waters said in a news conference Thursday."

Incoming! "The hotbed of sun activity, known officially as AR2975, sent out a powerful X-class flare that has already created a temporary blackout in shortwave radio signals in the Americas, according to SpaceWeather.com. (AR2975 has already burped more than 17 moderate-sized flares in recent days, but this outburst is a bit more powerful.)"

"A batch of dome-shaped ice volcanoes that look unlike anything else known in our solar system and may still be active have been identified on Pluto using data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, showing that this remote frigid world is more dynamic than previously known."

"The Hubble Space Telescope has glimpsed the most distant single star it's ever observed, glimmering 28 billion light-years away. And the star could be between 50 to 500 times more massive than our sun, and millions of times brighter." Yeah, but it's really, really tiny.

"Eating avocados reduced the risk of heart attacks in both men and women, including when eaten in place of butter, cheese or processed meats, a new study found." Straps on helmet, "Here we go again."

"In the U.S., ivermectin prescriptions soared to 88,000 per week last August, from a baseline of 3,600, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a warning against using the drug. The CDC said its poison control center had witnessed a fivefold increase in calls related to ivermectin overdoses and adverse effects… Maybe that madness is coming to an end as, on Wednesday, a large-scale scientific study showed that ivermectin has “no significant effects” in treating COVID." No, it won't. People are still taking hydroxychloroquine. The people taking ivermectin aren't doing so because of "science", in fact they're doing it for the exact opposite.

"Hospitals have had difficulty deciding who gets priority when ECMO, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is in short supply. It's not an exact science. And there are precious few ECMO beds, especially when some patients linger for months on the machine, only to die."

"President Joe Biden is announcing an unprecedented release of oil from US reserves and taking steps to punish oil companies for not increasing production from unused leases on federal land, the White House says."

"Russian forces are continuing to hold their positions and carry out shelling strikes around Kyiv, according to British intelligence, despite promises from Moscow this week to scale back its military activity near the Ukrainian capital… The head of the U.K.’s intelligence and security agency said in a speech Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has 'massively misjudged' the situation in Ukraine, and that the Russian leader’s advisors were afraid to tell him the truth about what was happening on the ground." I've seen this movie before.

"Over the last 24 hours, the Pentagon has seen "less than 20%" of the Russian troops that had been around Kyiv moving northward as they "reposition" into Belarus so they can be re-equipped for possible action in eastern Ukraine, the Pentagon's top spokesman said Wednesday." Gee, Putin lied? Why that's so strange.

"Russian soldiers who seized the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster drove their armoured vehicles without radiation protection through a highly toxic zone called the 'Red Forest', kicking up clouds of radioactive dust, workers at the site said… The two sources said soldiers in the convoy did not use any anti-radiation gear. The second Chernobyl employee said that was 'suicidal' for the soldiers because the radioactive dust they inhaled was likely to cause internal radiation in their bodies." Alpha emitters are like the sledgehammers of ionizing radiation, but they can be shielded by something as simple as a sheet of paper (or a paper bunny-suit). So you're relatively safe until they lodge in your lungs and intestines and then boy-hoodie are they fucking bad. But the good thing is all the radioactive iodine released decayed to irrelevance long ago. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

It's the Daily Beast so… "Several hundred Russian soldiers were forced to hastily withdraw from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine after suffering “acute radiation sickness” from contaminated soil, according to Ukrainian officials… The troops, who dug trenches in a contaminated Red Forest near the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history, are now reportedly being treated in a special medical facility in Gomel, Belarus." Stay safe my Russian friends.

"Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday night that Russia's invasion has reached a "turning point," as Russian forces launch attacks in the Donbas region of Ukraine while bombarding Kyiv and other key cities."

"Russia has doubled down on its threat to cut off natural gas supplies to Western countries that refuse to pay in rubles, raising new concerns about an energy supply crunch and rationing in Europe." Yeah, that'll happen.

"Public school teachers in Florida are now banned from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity after Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed the controversial 'Parental Rights in Education' bill." Chasing the lowest common denominator. So Republicans goal is to conform all of society to the farthest right individual in a crowd. This is another symptom of them knowing they're about to lose in the public perception and they're trying to assert as much of the concept of "the tyranny of the minority" as possible. And liberals need to fight these laws by saying, "No, it's not acceptable that schools don't teach kids these things. So if you want 'parental rights', these are mine and you will conform to this or we will sue."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "A group of anonymous employees at The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) has spoken out in an open letter, warning the company not to take political stances that alienate some workers and parts of Disney's audience, and claiming that Disney has become 'an increasingly uncomfortable place to work' for those who don't agree with 'explicitly progressive' policies." What a crock.

"President Biden's budget proposal for the coming fiscal year includes a new minimum tax on billionaires and increased funding for police and gun violence prevention… It also calls for additional defense spending and ongoing support for Ukraine's effort to repel Russia. And it includes elements of Biden's 'Build Back Better' agenda, which is stalled in Congress." Again, the President's Budget document is always a fantasy, but it helps start the conversation.

"The North Carolina congressman Madison Cawthorn will not face immediate disciplinary action over his claim to have been invited to orgies and to have seen Washington figures using cocaine… After meeting Cawthorn on Wednesday, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, told reporters the comments were 'unacceptable'." So just so we're clear here: going to a fascist convention, hanging out with Nazis and neo-confederates, exposing yourself to kids, paying for sex with minors, committing voter fraud, and redirecting campaign dollars to line individual's pockets is all totally okay. But suggest conservative may have "fun" (for different definitions of fun) is totally out of bounds.

"Scavino and Navarro have said executive privilege prevents their cooperation with subpoenas from the Democratic-led House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. The subpoenas compel them to produce documents and testify." Only the president can invoke "executive privilege," it is not something an individual can claim for themselves.

"Donald Trump used an official White House phone to place at least one call during the Capitol attack on January 6 last year that should have been reflected in the internal presidential call log from that day but was not, according to two sources familiar with the matter." I know people have been talking about "burner phones" and all the rest, but seriously, they just erased the phone records. And they didn't do it well.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Linkee-poo Monday March 28

"Then it happened very fast: movie star Will Smith — who was favored to win best actor for King Richard in, like, a few minutes — came up on stage and hit Rock. Rock looked stunned, and Smith went back to his seat, and then the audio cut out while they exchanged words. Smith yelled that Rock should keep Jada's name out of his mouth, and then Rock, still seeming shaken, gathered himself and presented the award to Questlove's Summer of Soul (...Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)."

"A recent paper by Peruvian historian Donato Amado Gonzalez and American archaeologist Brian Bauer concludes that the Incas who built the get-away city in the clouds actually called it Huayna Picchu — or simply just Picchu — the name of a peak overlooking the ruins… The report, published in Ñawpa Pacha: Journal of the Institute of Andean Studies, cites a number of historical sources that refer to the once-thriving city by its forgotten names."

"In between posts selling anti-wind yard signs and posts about public meetings opposing local wind projects, there were posts that spread false, misleading and questionable information about wind energy. Links to stories about wind turbine noise causing birth defects in Portuguese horses. Posts about the health effects of low frequency infrasound, also called wind turbine syndrome. Posts about wind energy not actually reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Photos of wind turbines breaking, burning and falling — some in nearby counties and states, but some in Germany and New Zealand. According to 2014 data from the Department of Energy, the most recent available, out of the then-40,000 turbines in the U.S., there had been fewer than 40 incidents."

"Just one day after a wildfire spurred evacuation orders for 19,000 people in Colorado, the blaze is 35% contained as it nears the 24-hour mark, emergency management officials said Sunday afternoon."

"But since Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, authorizing the growing of hemp nationwide in accordance with state or tribal licensing programs, there’s been an unforeseen consequence: People exploiting what they see as a loophole in the law have taken that hemp, extracted a non-intoxicating compound called CBD, and chemically changed it — generally by the addition of solvents and heat — into various types of impairing THC."

"According to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was confirmed in poultry flocks in Meeker, Mower and Stearns Counties. Those cases have been tested and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Iowa."

"Over a year after recovering from a Covid-19 infection, Jennifer Hobbs is adjusting to her new normal: brain fog, joint pain, elevated liver enzymes and, now, type 2 diabetes. Hobbs had prediabetes before she got Covid-19, but her blood sugar levels were under control, and she didn't need any treatment. Recently, that changed… Two years into the pandemic, scientists and physicians are shifting their attention to the long-term consequences of a Covid-19 infection, termed 'long Covid.' Recent studies add diabetes to the list of possible long Covid outcomes."

"The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals has climbed by 23 people to 373, departing from the recent trend that's seen the total fall from over 4,800 in mid-January, according to the latest state figures out Saturday." Here it comes.

"Shanghai has begun its phased lockdown as an Omicron-fuelled Covid-19 wave spreads through mainland China’s most significant financial hub, resulting in the highest caseloads in the country since the early days of the pandemic."

"Since the pandemic began, more than a million students have held off from going to college, opting to work instead. Two-year public schools have been among the hardest hit — they're down about three-quarters of a million students. Skilled-trades programs are the exception. Across the country, associate's degree programs in fields like HVAC and automotive repair have seen enrollment numbers swell."

"Thousands of central and Southern California grocery workers have voted to authorize their union to call a strike against several major supermarket chains as contract negotiations are set to resume this week… About 47,000 workers at hundreds of Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions voted starting last week and the results were announced Sunday."

"Social media accounts using computer-generated faces have pushed Chinese disinformation; harassed activists; and masqueraded as Americans supporting former President Donald Trump and independent news outlets spreading pro-Kremlin propaganda… NPR found that many of the LinkedIn profiles seem to have a far more mundane purpose: drumming up sales for companies big and small. Accounts like Keenan Ramsey's send messages to potential customers. Anyone who takes the bait gets connected to a real salesperson who tries to close the deal. Think telemarketing for the digital age."

"The militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility on Monday after a pair of Arab gunmen killed two people and wounded four in central Israel before they were killed by police."

"Novaya Gazeta, the independent Russian newspaper edited by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, is suspending publication until the end of the war in Ukraine… The newspaper's editorial board said in a statement on Monday that it had received a warning from Russia's federal media regulator Roskomnadzor after independent journalists conducted an interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky."

"When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Berdy initially planned to stay put and keep working at The Moscow Times, an English-language newspaper, where the staff includes both Westerners and Russians… But she knew it was time to leave a few days later when Russia passed a law saying anyone criticizing the Russian war could get up to 15 years in prison."

"German authorities may designate displaying the letter 'Z' in support of Russia's war in Ukraine as a criminal offense liable for prosecution, an Interior Ministry spokesperson told reporters Monday, Reuters reported."

"The Group of Seven major economies have agreed to reject Moscow’s demand to pay for Russian natural gas exports in rubles, the German energy minister said Monday."

"Authorities allege the defendant pulled one student out of line and pinned the child’s arms behind his back before telling the rest of the students to hit him while he was constrained and the line moved on… 'Free hits as you go by' Schmeckpeper reportedly said to the passing students, according to court documents submitted by local prosecutors." He was their gym teacher. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Eight titles had melted away seemingly overnight, a panicked school aide told Hull, from the shelves of an elementary school in one of the 22 districts Hull oversees as co-chair of a group representing school librarians in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster and Lebanon counties. The books included titles such as 'In My Mosque,' which instructs children about Islam; 'A Place Inside of Me,' which explores a Black student’s reckoning with a police shooting; and 'When Aidan Became a Brother,' whose main character is a transgender boy." Self-censorship is where those fighting for book bans want this to go.

"Three weeks after the so-called 'People’s Convoy' landed in Washington, D.C., the group is calling it quits after accomplishing nothing except injuring residents and circling the Beltway… Co-organizer Mike Landis announced Sunday night that the group would pack its things up in the coming days and drive back to California." (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"But he has yet to pick a favorite candidate in one hotly contested race: the Ohio GOP Senate primary. It's a state where Trump is popular — he carried Ohio easily both times he ran for president — but so far none of the contenders has gotten his nod… That lack of a Trump endorsement, though, hasn't stopped individual Republican candidates from selling themselves to voters as the most Trump-like in the race."

"A former Ku Klux Klan leader who qualified for office is no longer eligible to run, according to reports… Chester Doles said his affidavit to run for a commissioner of a north Georgia county was approved in early March. CBS 46 reports that the Georgia Republican Party flagged his application because of his criminal record."

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Linkee-poo Sunday March 27

"An ice shelf the size of New York City has collapsed in East Antarctica, an area long thought to be stable and not hit much by climate change, concerned scientists said Friday… The issue isn't the amount of ice lost in this collapse, Neff and Walker said. It's negligible. But it's more about the where it happened."

"Solar Orbiter’s latest images shows the full Sun in unprecedented detail. They were taken on March 7, 2022, when the spacecraft was crossing directly between the Earth and Sun… One of the images, taken by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) is the highest resolution image of the Sun’s full disc and outer atmosphere, the corona, ever taken."

"Officials with the Hubble Space Telescope program have some new science to share on Wednesday (March 30)… A NASA statement promises 'one for the record books' and an 'exciting new observation' from the nearly 32-year-old telescope. It's tricky to guess what that discovery might be, given that the Hubble Space Telescope's work stretches from exoplanets to galaxies to measuring the expansion of the universe. (That last bit garnered the multiobservatory team a Nobel Prize.)"

"NASA officials gave the green light Friday for the first all-commercial astronaut launch to the International Space Station on a SpaceX rocket as soon as April 3. But the astronaut launch could be delayed a day, or longer, to give priority to a countdown test for NASA’s Space Launch System moon rocket on a neighboring launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center."

"The Milky Way's thick disk is 2 billion years older than astronomers previously thought and likely formed barely 800 million years after the Big Bang, a new study based on an unusual type of star found."

"The price of chicken breasts this week averaged $3.63 per pound at U.S. supermarkets — up from $3.01 a week earlier and $2.42 at this time last year, the Agriculture Department says."

"Flu cases are rising across much of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday, though overall flu levels remain low… Weekly flu cases had been declining through most of January, but began rising nationally the week ending March 5, the CDC said. That increase has continued, albeit slowly." Hmmm, what happened earlier this month? Could that have been the CDC recommendation that we stop wearing masks?

"The rate for the most common kind of mortgage just surged again… The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage shot significantly higher Friday, rising 24 basis points to 4.95%, according to Mortgage News Daily. It is now 164 basis points higher than it was one year ago."

"But a proposal presented by the EU Commission to the EU Parliament and Council in early March sets out to legislate pay transparency and enforcement measures for all types of workers in EU member states for the first time… As well as requiring employers to provide salary ranges on job ads and banning questions about pay history, it will give employees the right to request information on pay levels and force companies that employ more than 250 people to publish their gender pay gap data. It could also enshrine improved justice for victims of pay discrimination, including full compensation of back pay and related bonuses, and sanctions for companies found to be underpaying staff. At the start of December 2019, EU Commission president Ursula von Der Leyen promised to deliver the directive within 100 days, and it took at least four times that time due to the pandemic, but the Parliament and Council could be deciding on an outcome and legislating it in a matter of days."

"The ancient Buddha statues sit in serene meditation in the caves carved into the russet cliffs of rural Afghanistan. Hundreds of meters below lies what is believed to be the world’s largest deposit of copper… Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are pinning their hopes on Beijing to turn that rich vein into revenue to salvage the cash-starved country amid crippling international sanctions."

"President Joe Biden delivered a forceful and highly personal condemnation of Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Saturday, summoning a call for liberal democracy and a durable resolve among Western nations in the face of a brutal autocrat."

"President Joe Biden is expected to propose a new minimum tax that would largely target billionaires when he unveils his 2023 budget, according to a document obtained by CNBC… Called the 'Billionaire Minimum Income Tax,' it would assess a 20% minimum tax rate on U.S. households worth more than $100 million. Over half the revenue could come from those worth more than $1 billion."

Sure it's not about suppressing rights… "An annual Pride Week celebration in Austin schools is breaking state law, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said this week, marking the state's latest move to confront LGBTQ rights. Austin's school district said the events will nevertheless continue."

"The study found that in 2021, people of color made up the majority of domestic ticket sales on opening weekend for six of the top 10 films. Also, minority households were overrepresented among streaming audiences for each of the top 10 films last year."

"The Supreme Court is an opaque and difficult to understand institution. Luckily, drawing on the expertise of seasoned SCOTUS reporters, we've put together a handy guide for the discerning news consumer to make sense of the court, its decisions, and its coverage."

"Overall, only 36% of Americans say Biden is doing a good job in response to the war in Ukraine, while 52% say he's not. That disapproval is driven largely by the GOP: 81% of Republicans rated Biden's response as fair or poor. On the other hand, 62% of Democrats described the president's response as good or excellent… And 45% of respondents say President Biden has been too cautious in supporting Ukraine. Only 7% think the U.S. should be doing less in Ukraine, compared with 39% who think it should be doing more."

Friday, March 25, 2022

Linkee-poo Friday March 25

Steve Wilhite, and so it goes.

"Three bodies were found Thursday in a submerged vehicle, authorities said, after a powerful storm dumped record rain amounts in Alabama… The bodies of a 72-year-old man along with two women ages 53 and 42 were recovered from an SUV in Holt, Alabama, after stormwater receded, the Tuscaloosa Police Department said in a statement. Officials have not released their names."

"Microplastic pollution has been detected in human blood for the first time, with scientists finding the tiny particles in almost 80% of the people tested… The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs. The impact on health is as yet unknown. But researchers are concerned as microplastics cause damage to human cells in the laboratory and air pollution particles are already known to enter the body and cause millions of early deaths a year." (Grokked from John)

"Independent testing of more than 100 packaging products from US restaurant and grocery chains identified PFAS chemicals in many of the wrappers, a Consumer Reports investigation has found… The potentially dangerous 'forever chemicals' were found in food packaging including paper bags for french fries, wrappers for hamburgers, molded fiber salad bowls and single-use paper plates."

"Snakes that constrict and then swallow enormous prey have evolved a way to keep themselves from suffocating while they do it… When the scaley coils closest to the snake's head are super busy squeezing its dinner to death, the reptile can simply change how it breathes so that it uses ribs and muscles farther down the length of its body." Clever girl.

"Two astronauts on a spacewalk completed several maintenance tasks outside of the International Space Station, despite getting off to a slow start due a wardrobe malfunction."

"Billionaire philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott has donated $275 million to the reproductive health care nonprofit Planned Parenthood — the largest-ever gift made to the organization… In an announcement Wednesday in a Medium post, Scott detailed her latest donations to 465 organizations and institutions, including Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Urban Teachers." Well at least someone is making good use of that money.

"Although overall COVID-19 case rates remain relatively low, the BA.2 subvariant of the virus was continuing to spread in Los Angeles County, with health officials reporting a sharp rise in the percentage of cases on Thursday attributed to the offshoot of the Omicron variant, which fueled a winter surge in infections." Ta-da!

"A group of CEOs from all major airlines in the U.S. is calling on President Biden to drop the federal transportation mask mandate along with the international pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement… In an open letter released by the travel-industry lobbying group Airlines for America, the group is calling on the Biden administration to 'sunset federal transportation travel restrictions.' The group argues that the restrictions no longer reflect the 'realities of the current epidemiological environment.'" I wonder if their employees agree?

"Oil prices slipped on Friday, with some supply concerns easing on expectations that crude exports would resume from Kazakhstan’s CPC terminal, while the European Union remained split on whether to impose an oil embargo on Russia… Brent fell $1.28 to trade at $117.69 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slid $1.74 to $110.60 a barrel, after both had dropped more than 2% the previous session."

"With gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon, many drivers are looking for a car that will go farther on a gallon of gas, or maybe one that doesn't use gasoline at all… Finding such a car, though, is not easy… Electric cars and gas-electric hybrids are in short supply, and prices have been climbing rapidly. Smaller gasoline-powered cars are also scarce, as automakers have focused on building more lucrative pickup trucks and SUVs." Same as the last time gas was this expensive.

"New Yorkers looking to catch an Uber may soon find themselves sitting in the back of classic Yellow Cab… The ride-hailing giant has announced it will list all New York City taxis, including the iconic yellow cabs, on its app starting later this Spring. The agreement, first revealed by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, represents one of the most significant partnerships between New York’s taxis and Uber since the company first arrived in 2011. But remember, Uber says it’s totally not a transportation company. Right."

Trigger warning… "'We would see death and graphic, graphic pornography. I would see nude underage children every day,' Velez said in an interview. 'I would see people get shot in the face, and another video of a kid getting beaten made me cry for two hours straight.'… Velez worked for TikTok from May to November 2021, one of some 10,000 content moderators worldwide who police videos on the platform, making sure it remains an endless feed of lighthearted content, rather than a cesspool of violent and disturbing videos… Now, Velez and another former TikTok moderator, Reece Young, have filed a federal lawsuit seeking class action status against the video-sharing app and its parent company, ByteDance."

"Hackers backed by North Korea's government exploited a critical Chrome zero-day in an attempt to infect the computers of hundreds of people working in a wide range of industries, including the news media, IT, cryptocurrency, and financial services, Google said Thursday."

"A leaked document has revealed that China and the Solomon Islands are close to signing a security agreement that could open the door to Chinese troops and naval warships flowing into a Pacific Island nation that played a pivotal role in World War II."

"About 300 people were killed in the Russian airstrike last week on a Mariupol theater that was being used as a shelter, Ukrainian authorities said Friday in what would make it the war’s deadliest known attack on civilians yet."

"Ukraine has lost at least 74 tanks—destroyed or captured—since Russia widened its war on the country starting the night of Feb. 23… But Ukraine has captured at least 117 Russian tanks, according to open-source-intelligence analysts who scrutinize photos and videos on social media." (Grokked from John)

"Speaking in Brussels alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Biden said Russia was using its supply of oil and gas to 'coerce and manipulate its neighbors.' He said the United States would help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas, and would ensure the continent had enough supplies for the next two winters. The announcement came just before Biden departed Brussels for Poland."

"Russia wants 'unfriendly countries' to pay for Russian natural gas in rubles. That's a new directive from President Vladimir Putin as he attempts to leverage his country's in-demand resources to counter a barrage of Western sanctions." Sure, Vlad, but first let's price it in rubles.

U.S. assistance to Ukrainian biological labs has been targeted at strengthening public health measures. Both the U.S. and Ukraine have also signed a treaty vowing never to produce or use biological weapons… But unlike most Russian efforts to spread false narratives justifying its invasion of Ukraine, this one found a receptive audience in the United States among far-right social media channels, Fox News and followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory." The very funny part about this is that if Ukraine and the US set up these labs to produce weapons, that would have been done under the Trump administration as well.

"Russian troops have been unable to advance on the capital of Kyiv… The war has displaced more than half of Ukraine's children… Almost 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine…"

"Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced Friday he plans to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, praising her 'exemplary' record and career and labeling her 'supremely qualified' to be a justice."

It's the Daily Beast, so… "But Cawthorn did something far worse, at least for his own political prospects, and it may cost him his seat: He left his constituents—and then was forced to return to them, hat in hand, after the courts predictably struck down the state’s new map, and eliminated the district he left to run in, on Feb. 23."

"A misleading line of attack from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., helped fuel online discussion, some of it violent, linking Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson to concerns about pedophilia… Hawley used much of his question time during Jackson's confirmation hearings this week to distort her sentencing record in cases related to child pornography."

"A prosecutor who had been leading a criminal investigation into Donald Trump before quitting last month said in his resignation letter that he believes the former president is 'guilty of numerous felony violations' and he disagreed with the Manhattan district attorney's decision not to seek an indictment." But it doesn't look like the criminal case will go forward, at least at this time.

"Former President Donald Trump has filed a sweeping RICO lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and others, alleging that they "maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that [Trump] was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty [Russia]" to try and rig the 2016 election." It'll be dropped before it gets there (this is mostly a fundraising gimmick), but man the discovery is going to be wild (both sides can get discovery on the other side).

"With schools boards all over the country finding themselves embroiled in controversy, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the right of a community college board to censure one of its own members."

"Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska was found guilty on Thursday of concealing information and making false statements to federal authorities in regard to an investigation looking into illegal campaign contributions in his 2016 reelection campaign, the US Attorney's Office of the Central District of California said."

"The messages, which do not directly reference Justice Thomas or the Supreme Court, show for the first time how Ginni Thomas used her access to Trump's inner circle to encourage and seek to guide the president's strategy to overturn the election results — and how receptive and grateful Meadows said he was to receive her advice. Among Thomas' stated goals in the messages was for lawyer Sidney Powell, who promoted incendiary and unsupported claims about the election, to become 'the lead and the face' of Trump's legal team."

"On how the texts show relationships across different branches of the U.S. government… It's extraordinary. This is a pipeline between the spouse of a Supreme Court justice and the chief of staff at the White House, one of the top executives and officials in the executive branch, and they're communicating at times about the legislative branch — Congress."

"The Democratic-led House select committee investigating the Capitol attack will vote on Monday to hold two former Trump White House advisers, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino Jr., in criminal contempt of Congress."

"Voters in Ohio are supposed to be able to vote in the state's May 3 primary — up and down the ballot — but with just six weeks to go, the voting districts for the state legislature haven't been decided… Most states are wrapping up their redistricting process, but Ohio's Supreme Court has rejected the Republican-drawn state legislative maps three times for being unconstitutional, leaving candidates, voters and the state's entire voting infrastructure confused about what comes next." If only the GOP could do it's job instead of having to rig everything about elections, we wouldn't be in this mess.

"But there is one simple truth when it comes to the former president's political support: Donald Trump giveth, and Donald Trump can taketh away… That's what Brooks — who, despite the endorsement, had been struggling in polls of the race — learned Wednesday, when Trump withdrew his support." Mo Brooks committed the one cardinal sin in authoritarianism, he thought he was more important the the head honcho.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Linkee-poo Thursday March 24

An incomplete post, sorry, things are getting crazy busy again.

Madeleine Albright, and so it goes.

"But disaster struck in December. The couple learned the farm’s previous owner had decades earlier used PFAS-tainted sewage sludge, or “biosolids”, as fertilizer on Songbird’s fields. Testing revealed their soil, drinking water, irrigation water, crops, chickens and blood were contaminated with high levels of the toxic chemicals… The couple quickly recalled products, alerted customers, suspended their operation and have been left deeply fearful for their financial and physical wellbeing." Oopsie.

"A completely locked-in patient is able to type out words and short sentences to his family, including what he would like to eat, after being implanted with a device that enables him to control a keyboard with his mind… The findings, published in Nature Communications, overturn previous assumptions about the communicative abilities of people who have lost all voluntary muscle control, including movement of the eyes or mouth, as well as giving a unique insight into what it’s like to be in a 'locked in' state."

"'We have shown for the first time that the associations between cholesterol and glucose levels and the future risk of Alzheimer's disease extend much earlier in life than previously thought,' senior study author Lindsay Farrer, chief of biomedical genetics at Boston University Biomedical Genetics, told CNN."

"Pfizer Inc. is recalling a blood pressure drug because of elevated levels of a potential cancer-causing impurity… The company warned consumers on Monday of several tainted lots of Accuretic and two other versions of the drug — quinapril and hydrochlorothiazide tablets – because of the presence of a nitrosamine above the Acceptable Daily Intake level."

"Confirmed cases of bird flu at a poultry farm in Nebraska now mean that more than half a million chickens being raised for meat will have to be euthanized and uneaten… That facility is part of a larger network of farms across Nebraska that provide poultry for Costco. Those who work with the farmers said it’s a devastating loss."

"But there is now a growing body of research that's offering at least some reassurance for those who do end up getting infected — being fully vaccinated seems to substantially cut the risk of later developing the persistent symptoms that characterize long COVID."

"A sharp increase in mortgage interest rates is taking its toll on loan demand, especially refinances. Total mortgage application volume fell 8.1% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index." Oh noes, banks won't make as much in fees anymore!

"The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage hit 4.72% on Tuesday, moving 26 basis points higher since just Friday, according to Mortgage News Daily… As a result of the recent spike in rates, economists are now lowering their home sales forecasts for this year."

"U.K. inflation came in at an annual 6.2% in February, its highest since March 1992, as soaring food, fuel and energy costs continue to deepen the country’s cost of living crisis."

"A 26-year-old Long Island woman has been arrested on manslaughter and assault charges in the death of a beloved 87-year-old singing coach who was shoved from behind on a Manhattan sidewalk in what authorities described as a random "unprovoked and senseless" attack, authorities said Tuesday."

"Utah Gov. Spencer Cox made an emotional plea for compassion toward transgender youth Tuesday in explaining his decision to veto a bill banning transgender students from playing girls' sports… In a letter to the state's Senate president and House speaker, Cox told his fellow Republicans that he was moved by data showing that among 75,000 kids playing high school sports in Utah, only four were transgender, with just one involved in girls sports." His veto will more than likely be overridden.

"On Wednesday, during the Supreme Court hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, an argument erupted after Sen. John Cornyn complained that Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin is spending too much time rebutting Republican criticisms during the questioning." No, conservatives do not want to play by the rules and precedents they set. (Grokked from southerncoca)

"After three long days of confirmation hearings, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden's pick to be the next Supreme Court justice, largely acquitted herself well… She was controlled and calm and mostly needed to reassure Democrats so they stick together in voting for her. If they do, she would be confirmed as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and there's no reason to think that won't happen at this point… There was a lot more from the hearings, so let's dig in with these four takeaways…"

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "For all her appeal – and in 12 grueling hours of testimony on Tuesday, Judge Jackson’s intellect and charm were on full display – the nominee is dodgy. Though a highly accomplished – indeed, a historic – woman, she testified that she can’t 'provide a definition' of what a woman is."

"The U.S. and Ukraine have knocked back Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to falsely frame the narrative of his brutal war, but they are struggling to get a more accurate view of the Kremlin’s invasion in front of the Russian people."

"President Biden met with NATO and G-7 allies on Thursday in a emergency sessions about Russia's brutal war against Ukraine as the conflict reached the one-month mark… The 30-member NATO alliance gathered at its Brussels headquarters to talk about plans to bolster troop rotations in countries along the southern portion of its eastern flank — and contingency plans in case Russian aggression intensifies."

"One of President Vladimir Putin's closest allies warned the United States on Wednesday that the world could spiral towards a nuclear dystopia if Washington pressed on with what the Kremlin casts as a long-term plot to destroy Russia… Dmitry Medvedev, who was president from 2008 to 2012 and is now deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council, said the United States had conspired to destroy Russia as part of an 'primitive game' since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union."

"Ukraine's military, staggered in the early days of the war by the brutal fury of Russia's invasion, has gained footing and begun the arduous task of taking back territory overrun by Russia's initial onslaught."

"Hotova spoke while draped in a Ukrainian flag, one of a few dozen at a rally in Sunny Isles who were asking the U.S. to step up its military assistance to their home country. Two Russians recently arrived from Moscow were also part of the demonstration. 'We don't understand why Putin starts this war,' said one of them, Andrei Elaenikov."

"Former Trump adviser Paul Manafort was removed from a plane at Miami International Airport before it took off for Dubai because he carried a revoked passport, officials said Wednesday." Where ya goin', Pauli?

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Linkee-poo Tuesday March 22

"Texas communities are picking up the pieces Tuesday morning after suspected tornadoes touched down in the state Monday, leaving dozens of structures damaged, at least 19 hospitalized and thousands without power."

"New research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences pinpoints the appearance of an ice-free corridor linking Beringia to the Great Plains to around 13,800 years ago. Prior estimates suggested the corridor appeared around one thousand years earlier, as the last ice age was coming to an end. According to previous archaeological work, the first human migrations into the North American continent happened around 15,000 to 16,000 years ago, and possibly 20,000 years ago. The authors of the new paper say their findings strengthen the coastal migration hypothesis, in which the first people to reach the Americas did so by traveling along the Pacific coast."

"A report from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates that more than 54,000 transitioning transgender youth ages 13 through 17 are at risk of losing access to gender-affirming medical care, even in cases where doctors, therapists and parents concur with the need for those treatments. And in at least three states — Alabama, North Carolina and Oklahoma — lawmakers are pushing legislation that would impact about 4,000 18-to-20-year-olds… The figures are staggering considering that only about 150,000 American youth identify as transgender."

"Researchers have now directly observed what happens inside a brain learning that kind of emotionally charged response. In a new study published in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team at the University of Southern California was able to visualize memories forming in the brains of laboratory fish, imaging them under the microscope as they bloomed in beautiful fluorescent greens. From earlier work, they had expected the brain to encode the memory by slightly tweaking its neural architecture. Instead, the researchers were surprised to find a major overhaul in the connections."

"Vaught's trial will be watched by nurses nationwide, many of whom worry a conviction may set a precedent — as the coronavirus pandemic leaves countless nurses exhausted, demoralized and likely more prone to error… While testifying before the nursing board last year, foreshadowing her defense in the upcoming trial, Vaught said that at the time of Murphey's death, Vanderbilt was instructing nurses to use overrides to overcome cabinet delays and constant technical problems caused by an ongoing overhaul of the hospital's electronic health records system."

"There is growing evidence suggesting that beyond the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection, people with COVID-19 could experience a wide range of post-acute sequelae, including diabetes." COVID will change us.

"About 95% of Americans 16 and older have antibodies against Covid-19 as of December, the most recent date that data is available, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that use information from blood donors… But it's one thing to measure antibody levels. It's another to measure how much they protect you against Covid-19."

"The BA.2 subvariant of omicron has risen to make up nearly 25-percent of the country’s COVID infections and the CDC is using household wastewater to track the disease… Using this method, data can be collected without the variables of patient access to healthcare, seeking healthcare when ill, or the availability of COVID testing." Also the rise of home testing (without mandatory reporting) may be depressing some of the "official" numbers. But poop don't lie.

"Low interest rates, high rents and working from home combined to push many young Americans to buy their first home over the last two years. But this version of the Great American Dream is not without its challenges, as Lauren Morgan found out." Always get an inspection (by a qualified inspector), even for new construction.

"Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Monday vowed tough action on inflation, which he said jeopardizes an otherwise strong economic recovery… 'The labor market is very strong, and inflation is much too high,' the central bank leader said in prepared remarks for the National Association for Business Economics."

"The District of Columbia is suing food delivery company Grubhub in a lawsuit filed Monday, in which it accuses the business of 'deceptive trade practices,' such as excessive fees, out-of-date restaurant prices and false advertising… D.C.'s Attorney General Karl Racine said in the complaint that Grubhub often misrepresents what's offered on the app and website." How's that "market disruption" working out for ya?

"On the one side are LGBTQ advocates and Disney employees calling for a walkout in protest of CEO Bob Chapek’s slow response in publicly criticizing Florida legislation that opponents dubbed as the 'Don’t Say Gay' bill. The legislation awaiting the governor’s signature bars instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade."

"Russia has warned of a breach of its relations with Washington and summoned the US ambassador in Moscow for an official protest over Joe Biden’s labelling of Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, as the US president held talks with European allies on efforts to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine."

"The online job ads seek truck drivers to transport fuel and other items. Some of them promise work along Ukraine's border with Russia and Belarus. But Ukraine's government says the postings are linked to Russia's military — an attempt to hire local truck drivers who know Ukraine's roads."

"The White House is warning companies that Russia could be planning to launch cyberattacks against critical U.S. infrastructure… The U.S. has previously warned about the Russian government's capabilities to digitally attack U.S. companies, but President Biden reiterated the message on Monday, saying in a statement that 'evolving intelligence' showed Russia is 'exploring options for potential cyberattacks.'" Stay safe, my Russian friends.

"Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been sentenced to nine years in a maximum-security jail, according to Russian state-owned news agency Tass… A prominent Kremlin critic, Navalny was convicted on fraud charges by Moscow's Lefortovo court over allegations that he stole from his Anti-Corruption Foundation."

"Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson in a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday forcefully defended her judicial record against Republican accusations that she was too lenient in sentencing child-pornography offenders… 'As a mother and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth,' Jackson said when asked about the attacks from some GOP lawmakers."

"Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn mischaracterized Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s judicial views as extremist and soft on crime, claiming she called for critical race theory to be a mandatory consideration in federal sentencing and sought to release all criminals during the pandemic."

"The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat opened the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Monday by brushing away attacks from Republicans who claimed she had been too lenient on 'child porn offenders.'… The committee's chair, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., referred to the allegation in his opening remarks. And by way of rebutting it, he cited an unlikely source: Andrew McCarthy, a conservative former prosecutor and National Review columnist."

"Miami Beach, Florida, declared a state of emergency over concerns about spring break crowds for the second year in a row after two shootings over the weekend… Rowdy tourists have created an 'unacceptable' atmosphere of fear in the city, Mayor Dan Gelber said Monday in a joint news conference with police and other local officials. Gelber said he couldn't allow people to come to the city only to worry about being shot."

"Both the Senate and the House are considering legislation that would ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks. But there is already a narrow ban in place for some Senate staffers that was enacted in the 1970s, and an outside legal group believes some aides appear to be violating that ban."

"The ex-wife of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a contender for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, alleged in a court filing that Greitens committed acts of physical violence against her and the couple's children, threatened to kill himself and made threats against her."

"Eight months after a Colorado clerk allegedly compromised her county's election machines while searching for proof of fraud in the 2020 election, Democratic lawmakers in the state want to make it illegal for those who run elections to do much of what she's accused of."

Monday, March 21, 2022

Linkee-poo Monday March 21

"Earth’s poles are undergoing simultaneous freakish extreme heat with parts of Antarctica more than 70 degrees (40 degrees Celsius) warmer than average and areas of the Arctic more than 50 degrees (30 degrees Celsius) warmer than average."

"Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is suffering widespread and severe coral bleaching due to high ocean temperatures two years after a mass bleaching event, a government agency said on Friday."

"By incrementally raising the pressure, and periodically blasting it with the laser beam, the team observed the water ice make the transition from a known cubic phase, Ice-VII, to the newly discovered intermediate, and tetragonal phase, Ice-VIIt, before settling into another known phase, Ice-X." You just know they then used it to chill Mountain Dew, right.

"A New Zealand couple who believed they had dug up the world’s largest potato in the garden of their small farm near Hamilton have had their dreams turned to mash after Guinness wrote to say that scientific testing had found it wasn’t, in fact, a potato after all." Oh Doug, we had hopes for you.

"The confirmation of bird flu at another Iowa egg-laying farm will force the killing of more than 5 million chickens, state officials said Friday… It's the second confirmed case of avian influenza in Buena Vista County, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) northwest of Des Moines, but the latest outbreak is at an operation with 5.3 million chickens. The earlier case was at a farm with about 50,000 turkeys."

"Wisconsin is the latest state to report finding H5N1, the scientific name for the avian flu. The strain had been discovered in a commercial chicken flock… A highly contagious strain of avian flu is spreading throughout the U.S, and has been found in 15 states so far." I love how the focus is "this won't infect too many humans" which is true, but if you think this won't affect grocery prices, you're wrong.

"If you think or know a loved one has an eating disorder, supporting that person can be game-changing for them… Those closest to someone with an eating disorder play 'a huge role in just paying attention and identifying potential risk factors or signs,' said Alvin Tran, assistant professor of public health at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. Tran does research on eating disorders and body image."

"'Sometimes people don't get infected because they're extremely cautious,' Dr. Mark Siedner, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News. 'There are people who have their own health behaviors or are concerned about their own health or their loved ones' health.'… These people are also more likely to have been vaccinated and boosted, and the experts said it's impossible to disregard the effect vaccination rates have had on preventing infections among Americans."

"Of the 50 counties with the highest Covid deaths per capita, 24 are within 40 miles of a hospital that has closed, according to a POLITICO analysis in late January. Nearly all 50 counties were in rural areas. Rural hospital closures have been accelerating, with 181 since 2005 — and over half of those happening since 2015, according to data from the University of North Carolina. But that may be just the beginning. Over 450 rural hospitals are at risk of closure, according to an analysis by the Chartis Group, one of the nation’s largest independent health care advisory firms."

"How much do companies contribute to climate change and how are they impacted by it? Those questions are at the heart of a major announcement expected on Monday from the Securities and Exchange Commission… The country's top financial regulator is expected to propose new disclosure rules that would require companies to report their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions as well as how climate change might affect their businesses." Oo, that's gonna leave a mark.

"The answer in all three cases is that — even with regional surges in the price of electricity — it’s still quite a bit more expensive to fill your gas tank than it is to charge your EV’s battery."

"'The oil and gas industry has millions of acres leased. They have 9,000 permits to drill now. They could be drilling right now, yesterday, last week, last year,' Biden said this month while announcing a ban on Russian oil imports… Turns out, however, that getting U.S. producers to drill for more oil is easier said than done… Top oil executives warn they won't be able to ramp up U.S. production anytime soon." Looks like Boom/Bust isn't a sustainable business model."Exploration and production companies have responded by recording explosive dividend growth. According to the Morningstar U.S. Market Index, the average dividend in dollars per share has grown from $14 in 2018 to $40 in 2021, an increase of more than 180%." Doesn't sound like there's a lot of money left to sink into the ground.

"Canadian Teamsters and CP Rail blamed each other for a work stoppage Sunday that brought trains to a halt across Canada and interrupted fertilizer and other shipments to and from the U.S."

"The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says 902 civilians have been killed and another 1,459 have been wounded so far in the war in Ukraine. The office warned that the actual number is likely 'considerably higher.'"

"Russian forces pushed deeper into Ukraine's besieged and battered port city of Mariupol on Saturday, where heavy fighting shut down a major steel plant and local authorities pleaded for more Western help… The fall of Mariupol, the scene of some of the war's worst suffering, would mark a major battlefield advance for the Russians, who are largely bogged down outside major cities more than three weeks into the biggest land invasion in Europe since World War II."

"Ukrainian officials defiantly rejected a Russian demand that their forces in Mariupol lay down their arms and raise white flags Monday in exchange for safe passage out of the besieged port city."

"Russia has a huge firepower advantage in its war on Ukraine. In keeping with its military tradition, Russia is relying on heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery guns and fighter jets… Yet the Ukrainians have far exceeded expectations on the battlefield by making the most of smaller, but more mobile weapons systems, including a number of key ones provided by the United States."

"Pressure is mounting on Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by the rightwing billionaire Charles Koch, to pull out of Russia after it was revealed it was continuing to do business in Russia through three wholly-owned subsidiaries." Of course they'll pretend to for a moment, but not really do anything in the long run.

An opinion piece… "The Ukrainian crisis has revived an old debate: how to effectively sanction a state like Russia? Let’s say it straight away: it is time to imagine a new type of sanction focused on the oligarchs who have prospered thanks to the regime in question. This will require the establishment of an international financial register, which will not be to the liking of western fortunes, whose interests are much more closely linked to those of the Russian and Chinese oligarchs than is sometimes claimed. However, it is at this price that western countries will succeed in winning the political and moral battle against the autocracies and in demonstrating to the world that the resounding speeches on democracy and justice are not simply empty words." As I said earlier on, winning this war will involve changing financial structures that will also change how the rest of the word-wide rich live.

"President Joe Biden and his fellow world leaders hope to finalize and unveil a package of new measures to punish Russia, help Ukraine and demonstrate Western unity at a string of emergency summits in Europe this week… But aside from a dramatic wartime show of resolve, few observers believe anything the leaders can agree upon will be enough to end the bloodshed in Ukraine or dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from continuing his attacks that are increasingly harming civilians."

"When three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station wearing yellow flight suits with blue accents, some saw a message in them wearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag. They shot that down on Saturday." Did you really think Roscosmos would allow such a message about Ukraine?

"The Taliban may have banned the Nowruz holiday, but it cannot erase the Persian new year from people's minds… 'When I think of Nowruz, I can only think of the food,' Shararah (a pseudonym to protect her identity) says with a broad smile."

"A China Eastern Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed in a remote mountainous area of southern China on Monday, officials said, setting off a forest fire visible from space in the country’s worst air disaster in nearly a decade."

"Simmering public anger in Alaska over the legislature’s failure to settle the state’s most radioactive issue — how big a check residents should receive from the state’s oil wealth fund — is colliding with a once-a-decade opportunity for political activists: The chance for voters to call a convention to amend the state’s constitution."

"Kim Davis — the former clerk in Kentucky whose refusal to sign marriage certificates for same-sex couples grabbed national headlines in 2015 — violated their constitutional rights, a federal judge found… The decision leaves open the question of whether the former clerk is responsible for the legal fees of the two couples who sued and other monetary damages that have accrued over the nearly seven years of legal back-and-forth." I smell a GoFundMe forming.

"The Supreme Court says it won’t review the case of a Seattle-based Christian organization that was sued after declining to hire a bisexual lawyer who applied for a job. A lower court let the case go forward, and the high court said Monday it wouldn’t intervene."

"South Carolina officials said they would not file charges against a boater who helped rescue a man from the water, then shot him dead… A statement from the Oconee county sheriff’s office said the 10th judicial circuit solicitor, David Wagner, ruled that the Tuesday shooting of 29-year-old Nathan Drew Morgan by an unnamed 74-year-old man was an act of self-defense."

"One man was killed and 27 people were wounded when two people got into a gunfight during a car show that's part of an annual community event in a small southeast Arkansas town, authorities said Sunday." Just another weekend in America.

"The session was the inaugural training of a national campaign called 'Book Ban Busters,' organized by a left-leaning grassroots network called 'Red Wine & Blue.' With the tagline of 'Channeling the Power of Suburban Women,' the group was established in 2019 and has extended its reach across the country. Founded with the purpose of activating primarily left-leaning moms around local and school issues, it also emphasizes a social component to organizing… This past year, many of these parents have watched their schools become battle turf over mask mandates, vaccines and inclusive education. Locally, conflicts over book bans are often framed simply as the next in that series of culture wars. But to some political science experts and historians, the book bans resemble censorship campaigns that could strike at the very heart of democracy."

"And as part of pandemic relief legislation, the federal Food and Nutrition services agency waived the requirement that schools serve meals in a group setting, increased school-year reimbursement rates to summer levels for school food programs and granted more flexibility in how food is prepared and packaged… Schools started preparing bag lunches and other grab-and-go options for parents to pick up at school and take home for their kids, and even used buses to bring meals, sometimes days-worth, to pick-up spots in different neighborhoods."

"The Biden administration plans this week to officially classify the ongoing violence in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims as genocide… Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected on Monday to accuse Myanmar's military of carrying out a genocide and crimes against humanity in 2017 at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The decision was first reported by Reuters and later confirmed by NPR's Michele Kelemen." That only took (looks at watch) 5 years.

"Vladimir Putin was 'channeling his inner Trump' when he staged a huge rally in Moscow to trumpet his invasion of Ukraine, Sean Hannity said on Friday." Despots look the same from the cheap seats.

"Judge Jackson's lengthy and diverse background as a lawyer and judge seems to have defused any notion that she is not qualified. And so far, Republican leaders have taken only indirect swipes at her."

"Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, 73, has been hospitalized with an infection since Friday and is expected to be released within the next couple of days, according to the court… Thomas was admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., on Friday evening after experiencing 'flu-like symptoms,' the Supreme Court said in a statement on Sunday evening."

"A far right wing of the Republican Party tightly bound to former President Donald Trump is fighting to push the GOP toward the 'America First' isolationism that underpinned his 2016 presidential bid… For the first time since Trump’s rise, his party is pushing back." Or, ya know, it could be that some of them realized that they couldn't ignore reality, and so needed at least to make a head fake towards it.

"Texas threw out mail votes at an abnormally high rate during the nation’s first primary of 2022, rejecting nearly 23,000 ballots outright under tougher voting rules that are part of a broad campaign by Republicans to reshape American elections, according to an analysis by The Associated Press… Roughly 13% of mail ballots returned in the March 1 primary were discarded and uncounted across 187 counties in Texas."

Friday, March 18, 2022

Linkee-poo Friday March 18

"Amazon has closed its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, the companies said Thursday… The pact was first announced in May and has been winding its way through the regulatory process. Per Amazon, 'The storied, nearly century-old studio — with more than 4,000 film titles, 17,000 TV episodes, 180 Academy Awards, and 100 Emmy Awards — will complement Prime Video and Amazon Studios’ work in delivering a diverse offering of entertainment choices to customers.'" (Grokked from Bo Bolander)

"A supersharp image of a bright star — released by NASA — shows that the optics seem to be working perfectly on the James Webb Space Telescope… The $10 billion infrared telescope launched in December after decades of development and construction, and it thrilled astronomers when it successfully unfolded itself out in space."

"The American space agency has rolled out its new giant Moon rocket for the first time… The vehicle, known as the Space Launch System (SLS), was taken to Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to conduct a dummy countdown… If that goes well, the rocket will be declared ready for a mission in which it will send an uncrewed test capsule around the Moon."

"Now, it's the Orbeez Challenge… Police in Fernandina Beach, Fla., shared on Facebook that the new trend is influencing people to shoot the soft gel Orbeez balls at citizens with a gel-ball gun or an airsoft gun."

"Frequent napping or regularly napping for extended periods during the day may be a sign of early dementia in older adults, a new study revealed… Elderly adults who napped at least once a day or more than an hour a day were 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer's than those who did not nap daily or napped less than an hour a day, according to the study published Thursday in Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association." Well, fuck.

"About one in seven people 60 and older have a brain condition that may be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease… The condition, called mild cognitive impairment, occupies a gray zone between normal aging of the brain and dementia. And most people know almost nothing about it." Well, double fuck.

"Independent testing has found hundreds of popular personal care items in the US to be contaminated with benzene, a highly carcinogenic chemical, prompting several big brands to voluntarily recall dozens of products in recent months… The lab, Valisure, last year detected benzene in hand sanitizers, sunscreens, deodorant, dry shampoos, conditioners, antiperspirants, deodorants, body sprays and anti-fungal treatments. The contamination has been most frequently detected in aerosol or spray products, some at levels the Food and Drug Administration characterized as 'life-threatening'." Oopsie.

"New research is predicting that future allergy seasons will be longer and more intense thanks to climate change… Spring officially begins on Sunday, and while the trees remain bare, some have been releasing pollen well ahead of schedule - and as a result, the allergy season is starting early."

"The billions of dollars invested in covid vaccines and covid-19 research so far are expected to yield medical and scientific dividends for decades, helping doctors battle influenza, cancer, cystic fibrosis, and far more diseases… Building on the success of mRNA vaccines for covid, scientists hope to create mRNA-based vaccines against a host of pathogens, including influenza, Zika, rabies, HIV, and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, which hospitalizes 3 million children under age 5 each year worldwide."

"Over the next few weeks, the U.S. should expect an increase in cases from the BA.2 variant, Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News, but it may not lead to as severe a surge in hospitalizations or deaths."

"Cases and deaths from Covid-19 have fallen in the US, but warning signs and rises in other countries are prompting experts to take future and existing variants of the virus seriously – and they are warning that America has not yet reached the endemic phase… It’s important to prepare now for the next surge or variant, whether that’s BA.2 or a different one, experts say."

"I've been reporting on COVID-19 since the coronavirus pandemic started, and I thought I knew what an infection would be like for a young, otherwise healthy person like me. I knew there was a risk for long COVID-19, even with mild cases, but in my mind, there were two types of COVID-19: run-of-the-mill cases that didn't last much longer than their isolation periods required, and long COVID-19, which was relatively rare… Instead, like so many Americans, I found myself caught somewhere in between." The problem of averages and generalizing in medicine to have "hard" answers instead of "things are squishy." So many patients labeled "covid recovered" who still have symptoms whom we're supposed to pretend are not infectious when we don't know. Also, in general, for flu and COVID when you feel like crap, that's not the actual virus causing that, it's your body's immune responses to the damage the virus caused and trying to clear it. Also, there is the fact this disease can permanently affect your health. It can scar your lungs, it can cause ischemic changes in your brain, and (while it hasn't been fully shown) can change change how your body functions (reduced kidney clearances, liver function, heart function, long term coagulation issues). As I said way back at the beginning of this, COVID19 is a disease that will change us if it's allowed to spread uncontrolled.

"St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Friday he thinks the central bank should raise interest rates the equivalent of 12 times this year to convince the public it is serious about fighting inflation… As the lone dissenter at this week’s Federal Reserve meeting, Bullard said in a statement that he would like to see the central bank’s benchmark interest rate boosted above 3% from the near-0% level where it had stood."

"Hundreds of faculty members at Howard University in Washington, D.C., say they are threatening to go on strike next week over complaints of unfair working conditions… During a demonstration held on campus Wednesday, several university faculty members, students and alumni leaders rallied in support of the school's faculty as they argue what is low pay for non-tenured, full-time teaching faculty and adjunct professors."

"Sales of previously owned homes fell 7.2% month to month in February to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 6.02 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors… That significantly missed analysts’ expectations of 6.13 million units. Sales were 2.4% lower compared with the same month a year ago. Rising mortgage rates likely played a role in the underwhelming numbers."

"Home prices rose 15% to a median price of $357,300 in February from a year ago as inventory stayed near record lows, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors."

"P&O Ferries staff are staging protests after the firm sacked 800 employees without giving them any notice… The RMT and Nautilus unions are calling for action across the ports of Dover, Liverpool, Hull and Larne… Nearly a quarter of P&O Ferries' staff were told via a video message on Thursday that it was their 'final day of employment… P&O Ferries is one of the UK's leading ferry companies, carrying more than 10 million passengers a year before the pandemic and about 15% of all freight cargo in and out of the UK."

"A 13-year-old was driving a pickup truck that crashed into a van carrying members of a New Mexico university's golf teams, killing nine people in West Texas on Tuesday night, officials said Thursday… An early investigation revealed that the truck had a spare wheel in place of its left front tire, according to National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg. That spare tire seemed to have failed, causing the truck to swerve in front of the van."

"The United States has agreed to pay the families impacted by the 2018 Parkland mass school shooting millions of dollars, years after attorneys first filed claims against the government alleging an FBI agent's negligence prior to the shooting… In their lawsuit, the families accused the FBI of negligence. They say the bureau received tips about Cruz, including his amassing of weapons and his desire to shoot up a school, but agents failed to intervene and prevent the violence."

"Former President Juan Orlando Hernández should be extradited to the United States to face drug trafficking and weapons charges, a Honduran judge ruled Wednesday… The country's Supreme Court of Justice said late Wednesday via Twitter that the judge had decided to grant the U.S. extradition request."

"Ukrainian forces have freed Melitopol mayor Ivan Fyodorov from Russian captivity, authorities said."

"A fake and heavily manipulated video depicting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy circulated on social media and was placed on a Ukrainian news website by hackers Wednesday before it was debunked and removed… The video, which shows a rendering of the Ukrainian president appearing to tell his soldiers to lay down their arms and surrender the fight against Russia, is a so-called deepfake that ran about a minute long." Welcome to the new machine.

"Facing stiff resistance in Ukraine and crippling economic sanctions at home, Russian President Vladimir Putin is using language that recalls the rhetoric from Josef Stalin’s show trials of the 1930s… Putin's ominous speech on Wednesday likened opponents to 'gnats' who try to weaken the country at the behest of the West — crude remarks that set the stage for sweeping repressions against those who dare to speak out against the war in Ukraine."

"Something not really usual was spotted in the last few hours on flight tracking websites, with more than a dozen of flights of the Russian Air Force and the Rossiya Special Flight Detachment tracking while leaving Moscow and the nearby airports in various directions, mainly towards the East. Such surge of flights in a short time, as expected in this time of international crisis following the ongoing invasion, is rounding up many theories about what is really happening in Russia."

"But there are people arguing that American businesses like Koch Industries should continue to do business in Russia, even as it targets civilians in Ukraine. An investigation by Popular Information has uncovered a network of pundits and groups publicly arguing against the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia. What often goes unmentioned is that many of these individuals and organizations receive funding from Charles Koch." Hey libertarians, how do you like him now? (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"But Republicans, only one of whom supported Trump’s first impeachment, are brushing off any suggestion that their frustration with Biden’s pace of Ukraine aid is at odds with their earlier defense of Trump’s posture toward Kyiv. They’re also blaming Democrats for harming Ukraine, now at war with Russia, by launching the impeachment inquiry in the first place."

"The Kremlin on Friday called comments by U.S. President Joe Biden about his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin 'personal insults' and said Biden's remarks appeared to have been fuelled by irritation, fatigue and forgetfulness." You stay safe, my Russian friends.

"The federal government on Tuesday released a study on the growing terrorism threat from men who call themselves 'anti-feminists' or 'involuntary celibates' and draw motivation for violence from their inability to develop relationships with women. Since 2014, attacks inspired by the 'incel movement' and spanning the U.S. and Canada have left dozens dead."

"Weeks after the 2020 election, at least one Trump White House aide was named as secretly producing a report that alleged Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden because of Dominion Voting Systems – research that formed the basis of the former president’s wider efforts to overturn the election… The Dominion report, subtitled 'OVERVIEW 12/2/20 – History, Executives, Vote Manipulation Ability and Design, Foreign Ties', was initially prepared so that it could be sent to legislatures in states where the Trump White House was trying to have Biden’s win reversed… But top Trump officials would also use the research that stemmed from the White House aide-produced report to weigh other options to return Trump to the presidency, including having the former president sign off on executive orders to authorize sweeping emergency powers." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"While it may have gotten her some attention to curry favor with the Trump-supporting base — the former president's Save America political action committee even pushed it out — it raises an old question: Can candidates simply lie in their paid ads?… The short answer is yes… 'Unfortunately, you're allowed to lie,' said Tom Wheeler, former chair of the Federal Communications Commission under President Barack Obama."