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

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Linkee-poo Thursday June 30

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday dealt a major blow to the Environmental Protection Agency's power to regulate carbon emissions that cause climate change. The decision by the conservative court majority sets the stage for further limitations on the regulatory power of other agencies as well… By a vote of 6 to 3, the court said that any time an agency does something big and new – in this case addressing climate change – the regulation is presumptively invalid, unless Congress has specifically authorized regulating in this sphere." Activists judges. This has never been the way laws have worked.

NPR's Books of the year. In past years I've known a large percentage of the books in the Speculative Fiction category, but not so this year's list. Don't know if it's me, or them.

"An international group of geneticists and archaeologists has discovered that the ancestry of dogs can be traced to at least two populations of ancient wolves. The research moves us a step closer to uncovering the mystery of where dogs underwent domestication, one of the biggest outstanding mysteries in human antiquity."

"Six months have passed since a European rocket lofted the James Webb Space Telescope into orbit. Since that time, the ultra-complex telescope has successfully unfolded its expansive sunshield, commissioned its science instruments, and reached an observation point more than 1 million km from Earth… This white-knuckle period in space followed nearly two decades of effort to design, build, and test the telescope on Earth prior to its launch on Christmas Day, 2021. But now, all of that effort is in the rearview mirror, and Webb's massive 6.5-meter diameter mirror is gazing outward and collecting scientific data and images. It is the largest and most powerful telescope that humans have ever put into space, and it's already revealing new insights about our cosmos."

"Finishing Super Heavy itself was a monumental task. As that vehicle required 33 Raptor rocket engines, the company had work to do in terms of production to spool up that kind of capability. By way of comparison, the one-time propulsion leader in the United States, Aerojet Rocketdyne, has set a goal of building four RS-25 rocket engines for NASA's Space Launch System a year. SpaceX is now building at least four Raptor rocket engines a week. The two engines are comparable in terms of their overall power."

"Over the past decade, nuclear power plants across the country have been shutting down early in favor of cheaper natural gas power… Now, an influx of investment from the government and the private sector is changing the trajectory of the aging U.S. nuclear fleet and spurring development of new nuclear technology… But many of the same old hurdles to scaling up nuclear power remain."

"The big problem this big study found concerned gas exchange – the ability to perfuse oxygen into the muscles and remove carbon dioxide from the blood. The ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) patients did reach their anaerobic threshold at lower levels of ventilation, at lower levels of ventilatory efficiency, and with fewer breaths – and here was the kicker – while moving more air overall. (These indices were also reduced at their peaks)." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"The American Heart Association has updated its checklist to measure cardiovascular health. It is now called Life’s Essential 8™ and adds healthy sleep as essential for optimal cardiovascular health… Other health and lifestyle factors in the checklist, which were part of the previous, 7-item scoring tool, are physical activity, weight, nicotine exposure, diet, cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure."

"Spirit Airlines on Wednesday delayed shareholder vote on its proposed merger with Frontier Airlines until July 8, hours before a meeting scheduled for Thursday so it can further discuss options with Frontier and rival suitor JetBlue Airways."

"Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday launched a $1 billion first-of-its-kind pilot program aimed at helping reconnect cities and neighborhoods racially segregated or divided by road projects, pledging wide-ranging help to dozens of communities despite the program's limited dollars."

"This effect is known as the 'benefit cliffing effect,' in which a household loses public benefits or receives a reduction in those benefits due to a temporary or insubstantial increase in earnings, such as increased hours at work or a pay raise. Millions of Ohio workers rely on public benefits to afford basic needs like baby formula, rent, or daycare. Losing these supports feels like a penalty and results in workers forgoing a pay increase to prevent losing the assistance that makes it possible to make ends meet and protect their family’s welfare." I have personally experienced this twice, and I've seen many of my friends have to make choices because of these ridiculous rules. (Grokked from Marie Vibbert)

"A team searching a Mississippi courthouse basement for evidence about the lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till has found the unserved warrant charging a white woman in his 1955 kidnapping, and relatives of the victim want authorities to finally arrest her nearly 70 years later… A warrant for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham — identified as 'Mrs. Roy Bryant' on the document — was discovered last week by searchers inside a file folder that had been placed in a box, Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill said Wednesday."

"A plot of beachfront land along the Southern California coast has been returned to the descendants of a married Black couple who lost it to eminent domain nearly a century ago… Bruce's Beach, a once thriving resort for Black families owned by Willa and Charles Bruce, was seized by the town of Manhattan Beach in 1924 with the stated goal of building a park."

"China has issued a strong rebuke at Nato, calling out what it said was 'cold war thinking and ideological bias', after the western military bloc said Beijing posed “serious challenges” to global stability… Nato allies agreed for the first time to include challenges and threats posed by China into a strategy blueprint in its latest summit in Madrid this week. The alliance’s previous document, issued in 2010, made no mention of China."

"President Joe Biden and his fellow NATO leaders depart a highly consequential summit Thursday that rendered the defense alliance larger, more muscular and more focused… Yet after a pair of high-profile meetings in Europe this week, questions persist about Biden's ability to convince both his fellow leaders and the American people that the costs of supporting Ukraine and punishing Russia are still worth bearing."

"French president Emmanuel Macron was caught revealing some bad news to President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G7 summit Monday… Macron told Biden the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, informed him that OPEC’s top oil exporters were already at their production maximum."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Fox News contributor Douglas Murray told 'Fox & Friends' on Wednesday that a conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and President Biden caught on tape at the G7 was not a dialogue between two equal world leaders." Ah, but have we heard from the body language experts yet?

"Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the namesake son of an ousted dictator, was sworn in as Philippine president Thursday in one of the greatest political comebacks in recent history but which opponents say was pulled off by whitewashing his family's image."

"The parents of a teen injured during the mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan last year are suing the dealer that sold the handgun used to kill four students and injure seven others… The Oxford Community School District and school officials are also named in the lawsuit. Mary and Matthew Mueller, the parents of the injured child, say the school district and its employees failed to address serious concerns about the shooter, Ethan Crumbley. More than a dozen students have already filed a similar federal lawsuit against the school district and some of the high school's employees."

"The disgraced R&B star R. Kelly was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison… 'This case is not about sex,' the judge said. 'It is about violence, cruelty and control.'" Note Ghislaine Maxwell only received 20 years for a crime spree that was much longer and included more victims. I'm not saying R Kelly shouldn't get 30 years, I'm just noting the disparity.

"President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he would support making an exception to the filibuster -- the 60-vote threshold in the Senate needed to pass most legislation -- in order to codify abortion rights and the right to privacy through legislation passed by Congress… However, despite Biden's newly announced support for the filibuster carveout, his best bet in doing so would be next year -- and only if Democrats gain at least two Senate seats and hold the House of Representatives, an extremely tall task." No do voting rights.

"After the Supreme Court decision last week overturning Roe v. Wade, J feared she wouldn't be able to keep her appointment at the Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, one of Louisiana's three clinics that offers abortions, as Louisiana moved to enforce its abortion bans. She already knew she couldn't get a legal procedure at home in Texas, under a state law that took effect in September, banning most abortions after about six weeks."

"The Supreme Court on Thursday gave President Joe Biden the green light to end the controversial 'Remain in Mexico' immigration policy that originated under the Trump administration."

"The Supreme Court said on Wednesday that states have the authority to prosecute non-tribal members who commit crimes against Native Americans on Indian territory… The ruling limits a major tribal ruling issued by the Supreme Court in 2020 and cuts back on tribal sovereignty." And why would SCOTUS make such an obvious mistake (reservations are explicitly federal land)? "Stitt has been fighting for state sovereignty on the issue and had expressed fear that if his side were to lose, it could open an avenue for individuals to gain access to abortion on tribal lands, as a way of sidestepping the state's strict abortion rules."

"Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court on Thursday at noon, when Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement becomes official, the court said Wednesday. She will be the first Black woman to serve on the high court."

"The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a case that could dramatically change how federal elections are conducted. At issue is a legal theory that would give state legislatures unfettered authority to set the rules for federal elections, free of supervision by the state courts and state constitutions." Flashing red warning lights and alarm sounds here.

"Most Americans support abortion rights, but a dedicated minority of conservative activists has been working for decades to dismantle Roe v. Wade, and one man in particular has played an outsized role in that effort: Leonard Leo… Leo leads the conservative legal organization the Federalist Society, through which he has spent the majority of his adult life getting conservatives appointed to the most powerful courts in this country, including the Supreme Court."

"Toulouse Oliver said the threatening email touched upon social media and video commentary by a conservative filmmaker in defense of his widely debunked documentary “2000 Mules” that alleges widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election."

"Republicans and other sources are rebutting elements of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before the Jan. 6 committee, handing Donald Trump and his allies ammunition as they seek to discredit her and portray her as an unreliable witness."

"The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has issued a subpoena to former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, a critical figure in the final days of the Trump White House who the committee has been publicly pleading with to appear."

"Throughout the testimony presented in the Jan. 6 select committee hearings, former President Donald Trump, who may yet face criminal charges stemming from the emerging evidence, has sought to shape public perceptions about the Republican witnesses who have appeared." Criminal who did crimes says he's not a criminal and everybody was responsible, anyway.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Linkee-poo Wednesday June 29

"The skies over a scattering of Western U.S. cities will stay dark for the third consecutive Fourth of July as some major fireworks displays are canceled again this year — some over wildfire concerns amid dry weather and others because of enduring pandemic-related staffing and supply chain issues." But I'll bet this year's backyard displays will still increase.

"Japan is sweltering under the hottest day yet of its worst heatwave since records began in 1875… The blistering heat has drawn official warnings of a looming power shortage, and led to calls for people to conserve energy where possible… But the government is still advising people to use air conditioning to avoid heatstroke as cases of hospitalisation rise with the heat."

"Martian rock samples collected by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover show signs of key ingredients for life as we know it on Earth… The venerable Curiosity Rover drilled samples from Gale crater, the site of an ancient lake on Mars. Using these samples, scientists were able, for the first time, to measure the total amount of organic carbon in Martian rocks, according to a statement from NASA(opens in new tab)."

"Watch Mercury roll by as BepiColombo probe makes superclose flyby (video)."

"'Our results suggest that amino acids are destroyed by cosmic rays in the Martian surface rocks and regolith at much faster rates than previously thought,' said Alexander Pavlov of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 'Current Mars rover missions drill down to about two inches (around five centimeters). At those depths, it would take only 20 million years to destroy amino acids completely. The addition of perchlorates and water increases the rate of amino acid destruction even further.' 20 million years is a relatively brief amount of time because scientists are looking for evidence of ancient life on the surface which would have been present billions of years ago when Mars was more like Earth." We're going to need a deeper hole.

"A Colorado man required medical treatment at a hospital after he was gored by a bull bison at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, officials said… The 34-year-old man was walking with his family on a boardwalk near the Giant Geyser at Old Faithful on Monday when the bull bison charged at the group, according to a news release from the park." Leave. The wildlife. Alone.

"Eating a larger proportion of protein while dieting leads to better food choices and helps avoid the loss of lean body mass, according to a Rutgers study… An analysis of pooled data from multiple weight-loss trials conducted at Rutgers shows that increasing the amount of protein even slightly, from 18 percent of a person’s food intake to 20 percent, has a substantial impact on the quality of the food choices made by the person." Unleash the Keto hounds of war! But if you read carefully, it's mostly because of people eating healthier (fewer processed foods and simple sugars).

"Reacting to a surprising and growing monkeypox outbreak, U.S. health officials on Tuesday expanded the group of people recommended to get vaccinated against the monkeypox virus… They also said they are providing more monkeypox vaccine, working to expand testing, and taking other steps to try to get ahead of the outbreak."

"The monkeypox virus (MPXV) has recently mutated at a far faster rate than scientists would typically expect, which could potentially explain the ongoing explosion of cases in the parts of the world where the virus doesn’t usually thrive… New research, published in the journal Nature Medicine, suggests that the MPXV has recently embarked on an 'accelerated evolution' at a rate that's surprised some scientists." There are two trains of though in evolution. There's the "gradual change over a great period of time" and then there are the "swift change within a few generations" camps. The truth is somewhere in-between. But for a virus, every cell infected is a new generation and a chance for dramatic evolutionary changes.

"China cut the quarantine period for international travelers on Tuesday, a big step toward loosening Covid controls that have persisted for more than two years… Overseas travelers will only need to quarantine at a centralized facility, such as a hotel, for seven days upon arrival in mainland China, the National Health Commission announced Tuesday. Travelers will need to spend three additional days at home before they can venture out, the commission said."

"A little over a month after the more transmissible BA.2.12.1 Omicron subvariant became officially dominant in the U.S. on May 24, two sister subvariants of Omicron have quickly eclipsed BA.2.12.1 across the country… BA.5 and BA.4 are, like BA.2.12.1, more transmissible, but have the added advantage of reportedly being more able to reinfect those who’ve already had Covid."

"Some U.S. adults are a step closer to getting updated COVID-19 boosters this fall, as government advisers voted Tuesday that it's time to tweak shots to better match the most recent virus variants."

"The dominos are starting to fall in the U.S. economy… A host of companies have announced job cuts or hiring freezes in just the last two weeks. They range from Tesla and JPMorgan Chase to Redfin and Coinbase."

"Ernst & Young, one of the world’s largest auditing firms, has agreed to pay a $100 million fine after U.S. securities regulators found that some of its auditors had cheated on ethics exams — and that the firm did not do enough to stop the practice… 'It’s simply outrageous that the very professionals responsible for catching cheating by clients cheated on ethics exams of all things,' said Gurbir S. Grewal, the commission’s director of enforcement, in announcing the settlement on Tuesday." Oh, Uncle Earnie. Full disclosure, I worked for E&Y in their Management Consulting practice (which no longer exists).

"Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the NATO summit in Madrid this week aims to showcase the Western allies’ united front in defense of democratic values in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while increasing the bloc’s deterrence capabilities."

"Monroy's son died in one of the darkest chapters of Colombia's 50-year guerrilla war. To run up body counts, Colombian soldiers kidnapped and executed more than 6,400 civilians from 2002 to 2008 and falsely reported them as Marxist guerrillas killed in combat, a special tribunal found… The killings, known in Colombia as 'false positives,' were never fully investigated by Colombian courts. But now the tribunal, set up under a 2016 peace deal, is trying to get to the bottom of what happened. And it could result in a former high-ranking officer in the country's U.S.-backed military being convicted of war crimes."

How do you treat Nazis? "A 101-year-old man believed to be a former concentration camp guard was convicted by a German court of being an accessory to 3,518 counts of murder… The man, identified only as Josef S. due to Germany’s strict privacy laws, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison by The Neuruppin Regional Court, according to The New York Times. He's believed to be the oldest living person to be tried on charges from the Holocaust era."

"The death toll has climbed to 18 people in a deadly Russian strike on a crowded shopping mall in the central Ukrainian region of Poltava… Authorities say up to 1,000 people were inside the mall late afternoon on Monday when two missiles struck the Amstor shopping center in the city of Kremenchuk. 36 people are still missing."

"Russia's ruble is so strong it could hurt the country's businesses that rely on exports, the country's minister of economic development warned Wednesday… After hitting all-time lows in the first weeks after Russia sent troops into Ukraine in late February, the ruble has mounted a stunning recovery, this month reaching its highest exchange rate since May 2015." Pull the other one, it's got bells on it. Although it is true that the ruble has recovers to almost $0.02 per, which is a significant boost from less than $0.01, and such a move can cause problems. Still, the ruble is in the basement.

"NATO on Wednesday branded Russia the most "direct threat" to allied security after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and vowed to modernise Kyiv's beleaguered armed forces, saying it stood four-square behind Ukrainians' 'heroic defence of their country'."

"Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was staunch in his demands of Sweden and Finland, which centered on their relationships with groups that Turkey’s government deems a terrorist threat… What is a big win for NATO is also a victory for Erdogan, analysts say, and one that the president needed in order to shore up domestic support as his economy flounders and Turks struggle with inflation that’s exceeded 70%."

"President Biden announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would enhance its military presence in Europe, including more naval destroyers stationed in Spain, two F-35 fighter jet squadrons positioned in the United Kingdom and a permanent headquarters in Poland for the U.S. 5th Army Corps."

"At least 50 migrants were found dead in the back of a tractor trailer in San Antonio on Monday, federal law enforcement officials confirmed to CBS News on Tuesday. Sixteen others — 12 adults and four children — were taken to local hospitals with heat-related injuries."

"Three people are dead and at least 50 injured after an Amtrak train derailed Monday in Missouri, authorities said Monday evening… Cpl. Justin Dunn, a spokesperson for Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop B, told reporters that two of the people who were killed were aboard the train while the third was in a dump truck that the train struck."

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday said the chamber’s Democrats are exploring legislation to protect personal data stored on reproductive health apps, ensure the right to free travel between states and codify the right to an abortion after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case."

"Take, for example, levonorgestrel, a form of emergency contraception better known under the brand name Plan B, although it's also available in generic versions with names including My Way, Take Action and My Choice, to name a few. Borrero says Plan B is supposed to be available over the counter, on the shelf, stocked for all ages… But when Borrero sent a team of medical students to pharmacies across western Pennsylvania to see what these stores actually had on hand, they found a third of pharmacies didn't stock Plan B at all. And when they did have it, most of the time it wasn't really on the shelf."

"Amazon and some large drug store chains began this week limiting purchases of emergency contraception to three pills per customer, company representatives confirmed to CNN."

"Facebook and Instagram have begun promptly removing posts that offer abortion pills to women who may not be able to access them following a Supreme Court decision that stripped away constitutional protections for the procedure… Such social media posts ostensibly aimed to help women living in states where preexisting laws banning abortion suddenly snapped into effect on Friday. That's when the high court overruled Roe v. Wade, its 1973 decision that declared access to abortion a constitutional right." And yet they say they still can't do anything about the damn Nazis or trading guns. Despite what the whackaloon right says, social media companies tend to the right and punish the left disproportionately. This is just another example.

"As soon as the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, some states' trigger laws banning abortion began to take effect. In others, including Michigan, bans from before Roe had never been taken off the books, and may take effect again."

"The U.S. Supreme Court has put a temporary hold on a lower court's order for the creation of a second majority Black congressional district in Louisiana… The order by the high court, released Tuesday with dissents from the three liberal justices, comes after the lower court found that a newly drawn map of voting districts for Louisiana's six seats in the U.S. House of Representatives would likely violate the Voting Rights Act by diluting the votes of Black voters."

"'We're not going back to the days of the Aryan Nations,' said Coeur d'Alene Mayor Jim Hammond, two days after the Patriot Front arrests on June 11. Hammond was referring to a neo-Nazi group headquartered in that region between 1974 and 2000… But many Coeur d'Alene residents said the events that day, and the hostilities that built up to them, felt eerily similar to that earlier chapter in the region's history." It's the same people and the same ideology.

"Charges against the man accused of slapping Rudy Giuliani on the back were downgraded Monday, the same day the former New York City mayor called for him to be fired and prosecuted."

"The centrist side of Colorado’s Republican Party easily won all three statewide primaries on Tuesday night, sweeping away right-wing challengers who had focused on election denial and culture wars… At victory parties in Denver and Douglas County, the party’s nominees said they were putting aside intra-party fighting and moving on from the 2020 election. Instead, the victors set their sights on President Joe Biden and the economy." So Colorado is the outlier here.

"John Eastman, the former Trump lawyer who wrote memos arguing then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election, has dropped his lawsuit that tried to block the House Jan. 6 committee from getting his call logs."

"Explosive firsthand testimony was delivered Tuesday before the Jan. 6 committee from a former Trump White House aide about the former president's conduct on the day of the insurrection and those leading up to it… Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a principal aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified under oath about a volatile and angry president. Trump, she said, was prone to throwing dishes and once even grabbed the wheel of the presidential limousine because that's how badly he wanted to go to the Capitol with the rioters." Just a note, it wasn't the limousine, called The Beast, but The Suburban.

"President Trump didn't want to do anything to stop the rioters attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, testified before the House committee investigating the attack Tuesday as she recounted conversations between White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows."

"Trump talked about walking to the Capitol, where he might give a speech or enter the House chamber. And when staff stopped those plans, Trump attempted to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle to direct it that way, she said."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Two Secret Service agents are prepared to testify before Congress that then-President Donald Trump did not lunge at a steering wheel or assault them in an attempt to go to the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, a source close to the Secret Service tells Fox News." If one of them isn't Bobby Engel, who the fuck cares? Also, great, let's get them swear in and testify under oath.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Linkee-poo Monday June 27

"Authors are protesting Amazon's e-book return policy, a system they say allows readers to 'steal' from self-published authors. Amazon's current return policy for e-books allows customers to 'cancel an accidental book order within seven days.' But, for some readers, seven days is more than enough time to finish a book and return it after reading, effectively treating Amazon like a library."

"A tiny satellite is poised to set the stage for something far grander: a full-blown lunar space station. NASA’s CAPSTONE satellite is scheduled to launch on Monday and then travel to a unique lunar orbit in a pathfinder mission for the Artemis program, which is seeking to return humans to the Moon later this decade." The launch is now on hold.

"On Friday, NASA held a press call to announce that its planned mission to the asteroid Psyche, planned for launch this autumn, was on indefinite hold. While the spacecraft is ready and has been delivered to the Kennedy Space Center, there has been a delay in validating the software that will run the mission as it operates in remote areas of the Solar System."

"Temperatures are rising nearly everywhere because of global warming, combining with brutal drought in some places to create more intense, frequent and longer heat waves. The past few summers have been some of the hottest on record… Just in the county that includes Phoenix, at least 130 homeless people were among the 339 individuals who died from heat-associated causes in 2021."

"The debate over tax breaks for nonprofit Cleveland-area hospitals is also about racism and redlining." (Grokked from Marie Vibbert)

"Both patients have the same insurance coverage through Anthem Blue Cross of California; they had identical cataract surgeries; and both providers were in Anthem's coverage network. Marilou owed $204, while Danilo was on the hook for a staggering $4,057."

"Health officials on Wednesday recommended that men in Florida who have sex with other men get a meningococcal vaccine following one of the worst outbreaks among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history of a bacteria that causes meningitis."

"On the surface, the monkeypox outbreak in the U.S. doesn't look that bad, especially compared with other countries. Since the international epidemic began in May, the U.S. has recorded 201 cases of monkeypox. In contrast, the U.K. has nearly 800 cases. Spain and Germany both have more than 500… But in the U.S., the official case count is misleading, Makofane and other scientists tell NPR. The outbreak is bigger — perhaps much bigger — than the case count suggests." Best healthcare system in the world my ass.

"The World Health Organization has stopped short of declaring the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern as a result of an emergency committee meeting… The WHO convened an emergency committee meeting Thursday to discuss the severity of the monkeypox outbreak. The result of the meeting was announced Saturday."

"Exacerbating these high gas prices is a huge shortage in refining capacity in the U.S., which isn't likely to be resolved any time soon… Refiners turn crude oil into usable products like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. There's just fewer refiners in the U.S. today than a couple of years ago."

"'It’s almost unbelievable': People are having their job offers rescinded days before they start." Remember when business were complaining about hiring people who didn't show up? Yeah. They do the same thing. "But over the past few weeks, many employers started scrambling to tighten their budgets due to rising inflation, rumblings of a looming recession and swings in the crypto market." Here it comes, the self-fulfilling prophecy.

"Pending home sales, a measure of signed contracts on existing homes, rose slightly in May, up 0.7% compared with April, according to the National Association of Realtors… That broke a six-month streak of declining demand. Sales were still 13.6% lower than in May 2021."

"Schwedes eventually found a place at his former rent, a much smaller townhouse with no yard or garage and farther from his kids' school. He says the whole process has shaken his longtime hope that at some point he'd be able to buy a home. He wants to build equity and have something to pass on to his children. He also craves a place he can decorate, where the family could always gather for holidays and future grandkids could visit, 'the stuff that you think is normal, that you see in movies growing up.'… Now he feels this cornerstone of the American dream will never happen for him."

"Ecuador has been brought to a near standstill after two weeks of tumultuous protests over a spike in fuel and food prices as global inflation inflames discontent over widening inequality across Latin America."

"A defiant British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in a stubborn standoff with his frustrated Conservative Party on Saturday, after two thumping special election defeats renewed calls for a major change of government direction."

"At least 21 teenagers, the youngest possibly just 13, died this weekend after a night out at a township tavern in South Africa in a tragedy where the cause remains unclear. Many are thought to have been students celebrating the end of their high-school exams on Saturday night, provincial officials said… There were no visible wounds on the bodies. Officials have ruled out a stampede as a possible cause and said autopsies would determine if the deaths could be linked to poisoning."

"Ukrainian troops have 'almost left' Sievierodonetsk after weeks of intense fighting against Russian forces, the mayor of the eastern city said on Saturday, signaling the biggest setback for Ukraine since losing the port of Mariupol in May."

"Russia is believed to have defaulted on its debt for the first time since 1998 after missing a key deadline… Russia has the money to make a $100m payment, which was due on Sunday, but sanctions made it impossible to get the sum to international creditors… The country had been determined to avoid the default, which is a major blow to the nation's prestige."

"Schulz brought more than backstage clout to Title IX. In 1966, he'd introduced a pioneering character: a confident girl jock with freckles, sandals and swagger. Easily the best athlete of all the kids, Peppermint Patty managed her own baseball team, played hockey and raced motocross. The sporty girls in Peanuts, who ice skated and enjoyed throwing balls, helped normalize something as simple and positive as girls playing sports, said Jean Schulz."

"Abortion is now illegal or heavily restricted in at least 11 states following the Supreme Court's historic decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade. Twelve other states have laws in place that pave the way to quickly ban or severely restrict access to them, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute, a group that favors abortion rights. Several additional states appear likely to pass new laws."

"Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, medical ethics experts say many physicians will be caught in a bind: unable to fulfill their professional obligations to provide care to their pregnant patients because of state laws that forbid it."

"Using existing data from the National Survey of Family Growth, a recent study estimates that one in five men have impregnated someone who's had an abortion. That's likely an undercount, according to Dr. Brian Nguyen, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California, who helped oversee the project."

"Several hundred demonstrators gathered and marched through downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, channeling anger, frustration and grief as they denounced the Supreme Court’s decision to end a constitutional right to abortion."

"Abortion-rights protesters continued to voice their fury and anguish nationwide Saturday following the seismic ruling by the US Supreme Court to eliminate the federal constitutional right to an abortion… Smaller gatherings of people celebrating the ruling are also taking place." Oh look, the police still have their riot gear. I was worried what with the Jan 6 response and the activities of Proud Boys storming LGBTQ Pride events.

"Patients were in the lobby, waiting, the moment it became a post-Roe America… The staff at Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services Clinic in San Antonio had just received a call from their attorney: abortion procedures in Texas would have to stop immediately. The dozen or so patients in the lobby on Friday morning would have to be turned away. The clinic staff would have to be the ones to tell them."

"JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in America, and two athletic apparel giants with a significant presence in the Northwest have joined a host of companies saying they will cover the cost for employees who need to travel out of state for abortions… Nike and Adidas have also issued statements saying they’ll help employees access abortion if the procedure is restricted where they live. While abortion access is still protected in Oregon, the two companies also have employees in states where abortion will now be banned or severely restricted." That's really nice, but will they change their political donations as well?

"Majorities of Americans say they disagree with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, think it was politically motivated, are concerned the court will now reconsider rulings that protect other rights, and are more likely to vote for a candidate this fall who would restore the right to an abortion, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll."

"Groups that are opposed to abortion have welcomed the decision, including the Family Resource Council, which has called it 'a major victory for life.' But many global reproductive and women's rights groups are condemning the decision and warn that the U.S. overturning of the constitutional right to abortion will have far-reaching effects around the globe."

"Benjamin Franklin is revered in history for his fixation on inventing practical ways to make everyday life easier. He was a prolific inventor and author, and spent his life tinkering and writing to share his knowledge with the masses… One of the more surprising areas Franklin wanted to demystify for the average American? At-home abortions."

"Now, a still-more conservative Court will hear arguments in the fall about Alabama’s redistricting, in a case targeting the other central piece of the Voting Rights Act: Section 2, which prohibits voting practices and procedures that discriminate on the basis of race. The result of the case could make it more difficult for minority communities to claim new election laws are discriminatory — and raise the bar for what has to happen to get relief from the courts."

"The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a former football coach for a high school in western Washington who lost his job after praying on the 50-yard-line after games… The court ruled 6-3 along ideological lines that the free exercise and free speech clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in religious expression. Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion for the majority in the case, known as Kennedy v. Bremerton School District."

"A Providence police officer and Republican political candidate is facing charges after he allegedly assaulted his Democratic opponent outside the Rhode Island State House Friday night, in an incident that has quickly drawn national attention."

"The photographer documenting the event captured one of the documents Biden used during the meeting: a cue card titled 'The President' with the title of the event and bullet-pointed instructions seemingly for Biden." Well thank god he wasn't wearing a tan suit at the time. Also, that traitor Steve Miller can bite my shiny metal ass. Do I need to go find the several instances of Trump's notes being photographed and how they were more explicit on what he was supposed to say?

"But one crucial aspect of his ascent to stratospheric wealth has transpired out of public view. Using the same prowess that he’s applied to race tracks and options markets, Yass has taken aim at another target: his tax bill… There, too, the winnings have been immense: at least $1 billion in tax savings over six recent years, according to ProPublica’s analysis of a trove of IRS data. During that time, Yass paid an average federal income tax rate of just 19%, far below that of comparable Wall Street traders." Eat the rich.

"Voters in Illinois are seeing first-hand what money can buy when it comes to political office… Three different mega-donors are spending tens of millions of dollars to try to influence the outcome of the Republican primary for Illinois governor in Tuesday's election."

"A federal criminal investigation is threatening the proposed merger between former President Donald Trump’s social media enterprise and a special purpose acquisition company, a deal that would give the combined company access to billions of dollars in public markets… That company, Digital World Acquisition Corp., revealed in a securities filing Monday that it became aware on June 16 that each member of its board of directors received subpoenas from a federal grand jury in New York."

"The ShopRite grocery store worker who has been accused of attacking former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has been 'suspended pending termination,' Wakefern Food Corporation, ShopRite's parent company, told Insider on Monday." Yeah, I've seen the video, it's not that much.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Linkee-poo Friday June 24

"The U.S. Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade on Friday, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion upheld for nearly a half century, no longer exists… Writing for the court majority, Justice Samuel Alito said that the 1973 Roe ruling and repeated subsequent high court decisions reaffirming Roe 'must be overruled' because they were 'egregiously wrong,' the arguments 'exceptionally weak' and so 'damaging' that they amounted to 'an abuse of judicial authority.'" Whelp, here we are. I would expect that for those state legislatures that are still in session who have not previously affirmed a right to an abortion will have legislation banning abortions by the end of the day. Those legislatures out of session will have a call for an "emergency" session by Monday. Next up, gay marriage and interracial marriage.

"The Mercury-bound probe BepiColombo has taken its second look at its target planet today during a superclose flyby designed to slow the spacecraft down and adjust its trajectory."

"Bacteria typically live out their teeny-tiny lives in the microscopic realm, but now scientists have found a gargantuan one the size and shape of a human eyelash… The new find is 'by far the largest bacteria known to date,' says Jean-Marie Volland of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Laboratory for Research in Complex Systems. 'These bacteria are about 5,000 times larger than most bacteria.'"

"A bunch of small but hungry bugs might hold the key to saving the planet thanks to their uncanny ability to devour polystyrene — the material behind plastic foam. These so-called 'superworms' could one day help rid landfills of this waste and thus put a dent in one of the drivers of global warming."

"Media coverage of climate change can influence Americans to adopt more accurate beliefs about the environment, but the information doesn't stay with them for long, according to a new report… After reading accurate articles about climate change, Americans may see it more as a problem that impacts them and lean toward supporting the government's climate change policies… But those changes are quickly reversed when participants are exposed to articles that doubted climate change." Or, disinformation works because they've been priming that well for 50 years.

"Nearly 20 million lives were saved by COVID-19 vaccines during their first year, but even more deaths could have been prevented if international targets for the shots had been reached, researchers reported Thursday."

"The union representing United Airlines pilots has approved a tentative deal that would give the aviators pay raises of more than 14%, making it the first major U.S. carrier to reach a deal since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and setting the bar for the rest of the industry… The agreement comes as the airline and others grapple with a shortage of pilots, which some carriers say have forced them to trim flight schedules."

"United Nations human rights workers documented over 200 cases of enforced disappearances of civilians between February, when the Russians launched their invasion, and late May. Mainly the perpetrators are Russian military or affiliated armed groups."

"U.S. artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez was finishing her routine in the solo free final at the World Aquatics Championships on Wednesday when the two-time Olympian suddenly sank to the bottom of the pool, unconscious."

"After passing a nearly $3 billion plan that would extend pandemic school meal waivers through the summer and next school year, the House will have to vote on the bill a second time after the Senate sent it back with changes… Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blocked the bill in the Senate, urging lawmakers to bring back the 'reduced price' category of the National School Lunch Program." Fuck Rand Paul.

"The National Labor Relations Board is asking a court to reinstate seven Starbucks workers who were allegedly fired illegally because they were involved in union organizing… If approved by a judge, the NLRB filing would allow the former Starbucks employees, who worked at multiple Buffalo, N.Y. locations, to return to work while anti-union allegations against Starbucks are heard in court, a process that can take months. The case is set to be heard on July 11."

"The Department of Education said Thursday that it plans to reinstate Title IX regulations tossed out by the Trump administration. Proposed changes would combat sexual discrimination in schools by boosting victim protections and modifying language to include sexual orientation and gender identity for LGBTQI+ students."

"The Biden administration has agreed to cancel an estimated $6 billion in federal student loan debt for about 200,000 borrowers who have claimed they were defrauded by their college… The administration had previously approved $25 billion in loan forgiveness for 1.3 million borrowers. Around 43 million Americans have federal student loan debt."

"The court's ruling will cut back on an individual's protections against self-incrimination by barring the potential to obtain damages. It also means that the failure to administer the warning will not expose a law enforcement officer to potential damages in a civil lawsuit. It will not impact, however, the exclusion of such evidence at a criminal trial."

"Marianne lives with her partner, two dogs, and two sons — Eli, age 11, and toddler Charlie. She says she feels at peace with her life, but admits she sometimes wonders about how it might have turned out differently — if she'd made a different decision, more than a decade ago." Two sisters, and how choices are made, secrecy ties our hands, and what we all stand to lose.

"Three months after the ruble's value fell to less than a U.S. penny amid the toughest economic sanctions imposed on a country in modern history, Russia's currency has mounted a stunning turnaround. The ruble has jumped 40% against the dollar since January." This is the illusion of fractions. The ruble is still worth less than 2 pennies. When it's that far down, even minor changes can make a "big" impact (in percentages). But just to be clear here, we're still talking about a difference that in the US is a rounding error and cause to use the "take a penny, leave a penny" tray. And that "improvement" comes at a stiff long term cost.

"However, Herschmann noted that the pardon Gaetz was angling for may have been intended to also protect him from the sex trafficking investigation swirling around him." Matty, maybe you want to sit this one out. Jordan, you too.

"A handful of House Republicans who strategized with Donald Trump about overturning the 2020 election hotly denied seeking pardons after the Jan. 6 select committee released testimony Thursday stating they’d pursued clemency from the former president after the Capitol attack… Several top Trump aides during the post-Jan. 6 period, including special assistant Cassidy Hutchinson and aide Johnny McEntee, described outreach to White House officials from multiple members of Congress seeking clemency: Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)."

"In a clip of the documentary from filmmaker Alex Holder, which was obtained by CNN, Pence reacts to an email he is shown by a member of his staff. The documentary says the then-vice president was shown a draft of the House resolution demanding that Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power… But a Pence spokesman said that characterization was false. 'In the documentary, Vice President Pence was reacting to a confirmation that his letter was sent to Speaker Pelosi rejecting her ploy to invoke 25th amendment,' the Pence spokesman said."

"'Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,' former President Trump said, according to testimony Thursday from Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general, in the fifth Jan. 6 committee hearing… Donoghue, who took contemporaneous notes on that conversation, and several others with the former president, emphasized that it was an "exact" quote. Trump made the remarks in the transition period between the 2020 presidential election he lost and the Jan. 6 insurrection."

"Trump planned to install a new acting attorney general, Jeffrey Clark, to help spread his false claim that President Joe Biden’s electoral victory was rigged through widespread fraud, the committee said… Three ex-DOJ officials — former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and former assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel — said they threatened to resign over the scheme and said hundreds of others would do the same."

"Skeptics call the Congressional hearings on the January 6th siege of the U.S. Capitol show business. On Fox News, critics call them 'show trials.'… Yet the House select committee investigating the attack is achieving something rare on Capitol Hill: Hearings that are surprisingly tangible, understandable, and substantive instead of the typical Congressional ping-pong match of clashes, arguments and even more arguments about whose turn it is to argue." You mean not having conservatives on the committee who's sole purpose is disruption and obfuscation might actually mean work is getting done?

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Linkee-poo Thursday June 23

"Residents in the town of Millinocket, Maine, say they are outraged and disappointed after a local insurance agency displayed a racist sign remarking on the Juneteenth holiday. Progressive and Allstate are terminating their relationships with the agency, according to representatives of the insurance companies."

"A sunspot nearly triple the size of Earth is within firing range of our planet, and may send out medium-class flares in the near future." Duck.

"Five planets are moving into a rare alignment, which will be visible from Earth this week. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are lining up — in that order — for the first time since December 2004. On Friday, June 24, the phenomenon will be the most visible to stargazers."

"At a time when public school libraries have increasingly become targets in the culture wars, some red states are going further, proposing legislation aimed at libraries serving the community as a whole. A few of the bills would open librarians up to legal liability over decisions they make… While some of these bills have quietly died in committee, others have been signed into law, and librarians worry that the increasingly partisan climate is making them vulnerable to political pressure."

"Organised rescue efforts are struggling to reach the site of an earthquake in Afghanistan that has killed more than 1,000 people, as survivors dig through the rubble by hand to find those still missing."

"The new (South Carolina) law lets health care providers refuse nonemergency care that conflicts with their religious, moral or ethical beliefs. Supporters say it protects doctors, nurses and medical students from being forced to violate their conscience. However, critics call the law a license to discriminate, especially against LGBTQ people."

"The owner of seven Louisiana nursing homes whose residents suffered in squalid conditions after being evacuated to a warehouse as Hurricane Ida approached last year was arrested on Wednesday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced."

"The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered Juul to stop selling e-cigarettes on the U.S. market, a profoundly damaging blow to a once-popular company whose brand was blamed for the teenage vaping crisis." Finally. Now open the gates for the wailing of the mourners. Because quiting nicotine is hard, especially when you've fooled yourself into believing your not addicted. And unleash the lawyers.

"In Rochester, N.Y., Diane Coleman has relied on a machine to help her stay alive, but she worries that it might be slowly undermining her health… Her ventilator was among millions of breathing devices that Philips Respironics recalled last summer over safety concerns about numerous models of its ventilators, BiPAP and CPAP machines." Note, I use one of the machine recalled. After filing my claim last Summer, and updating to expedite my claim in April, I still have not heard a peep directly from Philips. Seriously, Philips, your reputation is already being shredded by your response to COVID and the quality of your medical devices already used in hospitals. I don't know just what the fuck is going on inside, but you don't have much time to try and reverse course.

"After two years of pandemic restrictions, travel demand has roared back, but airlines and airports that slashed jobs during the depths of the COVID-19 crisis are struggling to keep up. With the busy summer tourism season underway in Europe, passengers are encountering chaotic scenes at airports, including lengthy delays, canceled flights and headaches over lost luggage."

"Amazon is devising a way for users to speak to their family members through its Alexa voice assistant, even after they’ve died… At Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for the Alexa team, detailed a feature that allows the voice assistant to replicate a specific human voice." No. Look, not to get all Monkey's Paw here, this is just a bad idea. And while this may be marketed as a "hear your deceased loved one", my guess is many people will use the voice of celebrities (and it depends on if this is just a "read in the voice of" or a "switch all interaction to…" function). Although I'm guessing Yoda's tortured grammar will cost extra.

"The retail industry is up against a potential wave of bankruptcies following a monthslong slowdown in restructuring activity… There could be an increase in distressed retailers beginning later this year, experts say, as ballooning prices dent demand for certain goods, stores contend with bloated inventory levels and a potential recession looms."

"The big picture: The Biden administration has asked the oil industry to boost production and refinery output in the near term, while the White House remains committed to shifting away from fossil fuels over the long term to reduce the severity of climate change." The oil industry won't do anything, because 1) they're raking in record profits on all aspects of the business, 2) while they already have plenty of leases to begin drilling in earnest, they've tied their stock price to having even more leases (which they won't drill on) and the administration isn't going to give it to them, and 3) they think politically this is the right choice.

"Mortgage rates continue to climb as the Federal Reserve seeks to tame unwieldy inflation… The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.81% in the week ending June 23, edging up from 5.78% the week before, according to Freddie Mac."

"Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 8% last week compared with the previous week, bolstered in part by demand for adjustable-rate mortgages, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. Applications were, however, 10% lower than they were in the same week one year ago." Wrong way to move.

"Ohio State University has won its fight to trademark the word 'The.'… The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the university's request Tuesday. The school says it allows Ohio State to control use of 'The' on branded products associated with and sold through athletics and collegiate channels, such as T-shirts, baseball caps and hats." Rolls eyes.

"Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder launched a 'shadow investigation' to ultimately detract from another internal investigation into the team's reported toxic workplace, according to findings by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform… In a memo shared by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the committee said that Synder built a "dossier" meant to discredit those who had come forward with allegations of harassment in the Commanders organization."

"Jurors at a civil trial found Tuesday that Bill Cosby sexually abused a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion in 1975… The Los Angeles County jury delivered the verdict in favor of Judy Huth, who is now 64, and awarded her $500,000. She said the fact that jurors believed her story meant more than the sum of money or the fact that she didn't win punitive damages."

"Ukrainian forces claimed late Tuesday that airstrike attacks on Snake Island in the Black Sea resulted in 'significant losses' to Russian forces… The Ukrainian military’s southern operational command said in a post on Facebook it had dealt “significant losses” to Russian forces 'with the use of various forces,' the Washington Post reported. The New York Times reported the military said it destroyed a Russian air defense system as well as vehicles on the island."

"Ukraine said on Thursday it had received U.S. supplies of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a powerful long-range weapon system that Kyiv hopes can help turn the tide on Russia's invasion."

"European leaders are poised to grant Ukraine candidate status, in a historic decision that opens the door to EU membership for the war-torn country and deals a blow to Vladimir Putin… EU leaders meeting in Brussels are expected to approve Ukraine’s candidate status later on Thursday, nearly four months after the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, launched his country’s bid to join the bloc in the early days of the Russian invasion."

"'We will step up macroeconomic policy adjustment, and adopt more forceful measures to deliver the economic and social development goals for the whole year and minimize the impact of COVID-19,' Xi said Wednesday, according to an English-language state media readout." The beatings will continue…

"Turkey and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday declared their determination to start a 'new era of cooperation' during a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as they set aside years of acrimony following the brutal slaying of a Saudi columnist." You mean getting away with murder wasn't enough?

"A bipartisan group of four lawmakers on Tuesday announced a bill that would extend the school meal waivers that have been a lifeline for schools and families during the pandemic." Oh great, we can actually agree in a bipartisan manner that children should have food.

"Republicans accuse the Biden administration of organizing secret flights, carrying migrants from the border to communities across the country, that critics have branded 'ghost flights.'… 'It's not secret, and it's not new,' said Jennifer Nagda, policy director with the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights, a non-profit that works closely with unaccompanied children."

"Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday, the school's superintendent said. The action is effective immediately."

"The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Constitution provides a right to carry a gun outside the home, issuing a major decision on the meaning of the Second Amendment… The 6-3 ruling was the court’s second important decision on the right to “keep and bear arms.” In a landmark 2008 decision, the court had said for the first time that the amendment safeguards a person’s right to possess firearms, although the decision was limited to keeping guns at home for self-defense."

"Senate negotiators have reached a final agreement on a narrow bipartisan gun safety bill that could become the first gun control measure to pass Congress in decades… The legislation resulted from negotiations among 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, and it is expected to have more than enough votes to overcome the 60-vote threshold to clear a filibuster in the Senate, which is divided 50-50 between the parties. House leaders are expected to quickly begin consideration of the bill and President Biden has encouraged Congress to pass the bill without delay." Still no universal background checks for all purchases.

"House Republican leaders formally opposed the bipartisan gun legislation Wednesday and pushed lawmakers to vote against the measure." Because of course they will. It's like a Kabuki opera.

"Katie Britt has secured the GOP nomination for an Alabama U.S. Senate seat, ousting U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks in a runoff, according to a race call by The Associated Press… Former President Donald Trump endorsed Britt in the runoff. That came after he rescinded his endorsement of Brooks in March. Brooks at the time had been struggling in polls and Trump said it was because the congressman made comments about moving past the 2020 election."

"The life of Wandrea 'Shaye' Moss, a former Georgia election worker who was the target of a conspiracy theory spread by former President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, changed after the 2020 election, with violent threats toward her and her family, forcing Moss to hide her identity and leave her job."

"A new Quinnipiac University Poll found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans are following news about the work of the committee at least somewhat closely, although only about one-quarter say they are following it very closely. So far, the poll found, the hearings do not seem to be changing minds about whether Trump committed a crime, with 46% of adults saying he did and 47% saying he did not."

"Former President Donald Trump's team not only pressured GOP state officials to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election he lost, but they knew there was no authority to do so, a key Republican witness said in testimony Tuesday… 'We've got lots of theories, but we just don't have the evidence,' Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, according to Bowers, who testified to that Tuesday under oath before the Jan. 6 committee."

"The fifth hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol will focus on former President Donald Trump's pressure on the Department of Justice to help him overturn the 2020 election… Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the committee, will lead Thursday's hearing, set for 3 p.m. It is expected to last roughly two hours like previous hearings."

"FBI agents on Wednesday seized the cellphone of Nevada’s top Republican official as part of an investigation into a fake elector scheme after the 2020 election, according to reports. Agents are said to have taken the phone of state Republican Chairman Michael McDonald in connection with an alleged plot to give Nevada’s six Electoral College votes to Donald Trump for the 2020 presidential election, despite Joe Biden winning the state by more than 2 percent of the votes cast."

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Linkee-poo Tuesday June 21

"The summer solstice is happening in the Northern Hemisphere Tuesday, marking the longest day of the year and the first day of the new season… The event officially begins at 5:13 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast, according to the National Weather Service."

"A great majority of Americans have been affected by extreme weather in recent years, and many suffer long-term financial problems as a result, according to a new nationwide survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health… More than three-quarters of adults in the United States say they have experienced extreme weather in the last five years, including hurricanes, wildfires, floods and heat waves, the survey found. And most people who suffer major weather damage or financial problems do not receive money from the federal government." Remember when conservatives were making the argument that preparing for climate change would cost too much?

"Cambodian villagers on the Mekong River have caught what researchers say is the world's biggest freshwater fish ever recorded, a stingray that weighed in at 661 pounds (about 300 kilograms), and took around a dozen men to haul to shore."

"About 100 million people in the U.S. — 41% of adults — have some form of health care debt, according to a KFF poll conducted for a new KHN-NPR investigation. The problem is driving millions of people into bankruptcy, depleting savings and retirement accounts, and leaving black marks on credit scores that make finding housing or employment difficult, the investigation found… But federal protections remain weak. And the widespread burden has spurred efforts by at least a dozen state legislatures in recent years to better protect patients. California, Maine, and Maryland have enacted measures that compel hospitals to expand financial aid, crack down on debt collectors, and curb extreme practices such as placing liens on patients' homes."

"Many states are making it difficult for people to have virtual visits with doctors in other states, partly reversing the explosion in telehealth that occurred during the coronavirus pandemic and calling into question the durability of one of the major technological shifts from the past two years… The rollback in telehealth access has been happening gradually and quietly over the past few months as pandemic-era emergency health orders have lapsed in one state after another, reimposing some of the old rules about when doctors can practice in multiple states." And it's mostly because of the abortion debate.

"Simply put, as ballooning costs hit the wallets of American families, the global ocean shipping industry is enjoying its most profitable period in recent history. In the first quarter of 2022, the biggest carriers’ operating margins hit 57%, according to one industry research firm, after hovering in the single digits before the pandemic… The hauler that wanted $12,000 per container to move the bananas told the One Banana logistics specialist that it needed the money to cover a slew of fees the ocean carriers were tacking onto freight bills. Hapag-Lloyd, the German shipping giant that owned the containers the bananas were sitting in, had become particularly notorious in the freight industry, leading to multiple complaints to the Federal Maritime Commission."

So how's that "lets all take off our masks on airplanes" thing working out? "Flight cancelations across the country spiked for a fourth straight day Sunday, causing more headaches for travelers."

"President Joe Biden said Monday he hopes to decide soon whether to support a temporary pause in the federal gasoline tax and is nearing a decision on student loan relief as he looks to ease the burden of high prices on Americans."

"A new feature in the upcoming versions of iOS and macOS, Apple’s operating systems for iPhones and computers, promises to give the boot to 'captchas' once and for all. Called 'automatic verification', the technology will allow sites to verify you are not a robot without you having to do anything at all."

"Passengers in England, Scotland and Wales face severe disruption after last-ditch talks failed to stop the biggest rail strikes in 30 years… Thousands of staff at Network Rail and 13 rail operators are due to walk out on Tuesday, affecting most major lines."

"Hong Kong's iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant has capsized in the South China Sea less than a week after it was towed away from the city, its parent company said Monday… The restaurant encountered 'adverse conditions' on Saturday as it was passing the Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands, in the South China Sea, and water entered the vessel and it began to tip, according to Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Ltd." Oopsie.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman wouldn’t guarantee that two U.S. military veterans captured in Ukraine won’t face the death penalty in an exclusive interview Monday." Well it's good to know that the US isn't the only ones who are bad at this Cold War revival.

And about that "soldiers of fortune" charge… "During the interrogation of a Russian pilot captured by Ukrainian forces on 18 June, the pilot revealed that he was a mercenary working for the Wagner private military company and that he was being paid a wage of 200,000 roubles [approximately $3,500 - ed.] a month."

"Israel's most diverse government in history, formed for the first time with an Arab political party, is disbanding over a disagreement about the future of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank… Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says he will step down after lawmakers hold a vote to dissolve parliament next week, and centrist Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will take over as prime minister. Elections are likely to take place in October." Here we go again.

"Multiple police officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield stood and waited in a school hallway for nearly an hour while a gunman carried out a massacre of 19 elementary students and two teachers, according to a Monday news report that marks the latest embarrassing revelation about the failure of law enforcement to thwart the attack."

"Talkshow host Stephen Colbert on Monday called the recent arrests of seven staffers near the US Capitol 'unpleasant' but said both his employees and the police officers who detained them 'were just doing their job'." Who compared the Colbert staffers to the insurrectionist? You get one guess, and it was Bullshit Mountain.

"In its clearest statement to date, the court said that if a state uses taxpayer money to pay for students attending nonreligious private schools, it must also use taxpayer funds to pay for attendance at religious schools. For all practical purposes, the decision thus invalidates provisions in 37 state constitutions that ban the direct or indirect use of taxpayer money in religious schools." Waiting for the first Satanistic Magnet School to open.

"President Biden is the "acting" president because he didn't win legally; Texans should vote on seceding; the Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be repealed; any gun control is a rights violation: this is the world as seen by the Republican Party of Texas, according to its newly adopted party platform… 'We can't compromise with Democrats who have a different and incompatible vision for our future,' Matt Rinaldi, the state GOP chairman, said, according to The Texas Newsroom. 'We need to be a bold and unapologetic conservative party, ready to go on offense and win the fight for our country.'" So much for finding "middle ground."

"It’s difficult to reconcile (Gini) Thomas then and now, four people who worked with her at the height of her anti-cult activism through the late 1980s said in interviews. After she spent years trying to expose cults, these people found Thomas’ efforts to promote outlandish plans to overturn the 2020 results, particularly the text messages and emails in which she referenced false election conspiracies that originated in QAnon circles on the internet, surprising. Democrats and Republicans alike have said QAnon supporters exhibit cult-like behavior." When you want to believe, it's easy.

"In this week's January 6th committee hearings, a documentary selling election conspiracies was laughed off by the likes of Bill Barr. But myths about a stolen election are no joke. On this week’s On the Media, hear about a pundit's efforts to revitalize and repackage The Big Lie. Plus, one man’s escape from the conspiracy theory machine."

"The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack is expected to show at its fourth hearing on Tuesday that Donald Trump and top advisers coordinated the scheme to send fake slates of electors as part of an effort to return him to the White House."

"A new campaign ad from Eric Greitens, the controversial former governor of Missouri now running for U.S. Senate, prompted accusations of glorifying political violence before being flagged by Twitter and removed by Facebook for violating policies around violence and abuse… 'Today, we're going RINO hunting,' Greitens, a Republican, said with a smile as he slid the action on his shotgun in the 38-second ad. RINO stands for 'Republican in name only.'" Dear GOP, this is your mess to clean up. Get to fucking work on it. Because the response is not something you should want. You need to bury this asshole, clearly state this is not the person you want in your party, and that the behavior is unacceptable. No funds. No endorsement. Not even a wink.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Linkee-poo Monday Jun 20

Mark Shields, and so it goes.

"Authorities fear that if it doesn’t rain soon, there’ll be a serious shortage of water for drinking and irrigation for farmers and local populations across the whole of northern Italy."

"At least 18 people have died as massive floods ravaged northeastern India and Bangladesh, leaving millions of homes underwater and severing transport links, authorities said Saturday."

"Spain is seeing its hottest early summer temperatures, one area of France banned outdoor events, and drought stalked Italian farmers as a heatwave sent Europeans hunting for shade and fretting over climate change."

"When the temperature readings started to come through from Antarctic weather stations in early March, scientists at first thought there might have been some mistake. Temperatures, which should have been cooling rapidly as the south pole’s brief summer faded, were soaring – at the Vostok station, about 800 miles from the geographic south pole, thermometers recorded a massive 15C hotter than the previous all-time record, while at Terra Nova coastal base the water hovered above freezing, unheard of for the time of year."

"With both soaring energy prices and a warming planet weighing on the world at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, Biden talked about trying to ease the pain of high gas prices while pushing more long-term green policies."

"It was a big moment for Schmidt, but maybe an even bigger one for Ford. This wasn't just any F-150 Lightning – it was the very first one to be delivered to an actual buyer… Ford and other legacy U.S. auto makers are investing billions of dollars in developing electric vehicles in a mad dash to catch up to market leader Tesla, which accounted for 70% of new electric vehicles registered in the U.S. last year."

"With the polar bear species in a fight for survival because of disappearing Arctic sea ice, a new distinct group of Greenland bears seem to have stumbled on an icy oasis that might allow a small remote population to 'hang on.'… But it’s far from 'a life raft' for the endangered species that has long been a symbol of climate change, scientists said." Now all we have to do is introduce glaciation throughout the Arctic coast line.

"'We found that the ancient strains from Kyrgyzstan are positioned exactly at the node of this massive diversification event,' said Maria Spyrou, a researcher on disease history at the University of Tuebingen in Germany and lead author of the report. 'In other words, we found the Black Death’s source strain and we even know its exact date (1338).'"

"A panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's outside vaccine advisers voted unanimously Saturday to recommend COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months old, clearing one of the last hurdles to expanding eligibility to 20 million babies, toddlers, and preschoolers."

"With this data in hand, Al-Aly, who is based at the VA St. Louis Healthcare System in Missouri, and his colleagues have delved into the long-term effects of COVID-19, from cardiovascular illness1 to diabetes2. They have also undertaken the challenge of studying long COVID — a condition in which people experience symptoms months after an acute SARS-CoV-2 infection seems to have resolved — and recently published findings3 that surprised some researchers. The team found that previous vaccination only reduces the risk of developing long COVID after infection by about 15%, which is substantially less than some other estimates4, which suggested that vaccines halved the risk."

"Some lost their homes. Some emptied their retirement accounts. Some struggled to feed and clothe their families. Medical debt now touches more than 100 million people in America, as the U.S. health care system pushes patients into debt on a mass scale. People from all walks of life and all corners of the country are living with health care debt… Here are their stories — how they got into debt, what they've given up for it and how they're living with the burden."

"A gallon of regular gas costs just under $5 in the U.S. — still much higher than a year ago, but it's also the first time in nine weeks that the weekly national average has fallen."

"The Bank of England will raise interest rates more aggressively to tackle soaring living costs if there are signs of inflation becoming persistently higher for longer than expected, its chief economist has warned."

"The cryptocurrency world is in chaos… Just months ago, crypto companies were advertising heavily during the Super Bowl after virtual currencies enjoyed a dizzying rally in 2021."

"Chinese residents are required to have the health app, which displays a code indicating their health status, including possible exposure to COVID-19. A green code is required to use public transportation and to enter locations such as offices, restaurants and malls. But some depositors at the banks in central Henan province said their codes were turned red to stop them."

On surviving as a dickish employer… "In the Inland Empire region of California, for example, Amazon may cycle through every worker who’d be interested in applying for a warehouse job by the end of 2022, the internal report warned. One of the reasons is that Amazon is increasingly finding itself in a bidding war for workers with rivals in the area, which is a key logistics region because it is within a two-hour drive of 20 million potential customers and two of the largest container ports in the US." Seeing an over 100% attrition is frankly, startling. In the 80s when I worked in fast food we had a 33% attrition rate and that was considered exceptionally bad. I mean, no wonder the reporting on this report shows some signs of HR making a power move within Amazon's corporate structure. HR must be a significant budget item to keep up with that churn. Also it shows that Amazon has accepted its place as a "trainer" job. That is people get hired, get trained in how to work in fulfillment, and then quickly move on to another job. That's unsustainable (trust me, I've had to fix that problem in other jobs). You want to be able to keep prices down while increasing employment, Amazon? You should do a study about how much it would save you to not be dicks to your employees and get below a 10% attrition rate for your warehouse workers. The savings in recruitment, training, HR staffing, and increasing the tribal knowledge of your floor employees could probably double your profits. Unionization is probably the thing that will save your sorry asses. (Grokked from John)

"The world of PC game collecting has yet to attract the kind of eye-popping, seven-figure-dollar sales seen with some rare Nintendo games. Still, a committed collecting community has developed around older PC titles, with some people paying thousands of dollars for intact disks, packaging, and materials of computer games from the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Collector Stephane Racle told Ars that games that used to sell for tens of dollars now routinely go for 'hundreds' on sites like eBay." Where there's money to be made, grifters won't be far behind.

"A federal appeals court on Friday rejected a Trump administration finding that the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup does not pose a serious health risk and is 'not likely' to cause cancer in humans." In truth, the actions of the Trump era EPA only extended the economic life of glyphosate a few years. See, with it's overuse on crops that were genetically modified to withstand its application, weeds are also now resistant to its use. Life finds a way. And this is why the fight has changed to dicamba.

"Earlier iterations of Patriot Front and the Proud Boys were among the neo-Nazi factions who sought to intimidate the Charlottesville, Va., community at the "Unite the Right" rally in 2017… So, why would members of a white supremacist group — many of whom, in the case of the Idaho event, had traveled from other states — choose to target a local Pride event?"

"FINA, the world governing body for swimming, has voted to effectively ban transgender women from participating in women's swimming competitions… The vote — with 71.5% approval at the FINA Extraordinary General Congress 2022 in Budapest — was the latest salvo in an ongoing fight over whether trans athletes should compete according to their gender identity or their sex assigned at birth."

"Two Uvalde city police officers passed up a fleeting chance to shoot a gunman outside Robb Elementary School before he went on to kill 21 people inside the school, a senior sheriff’s deputy told The New York Times."

"Mental health organizations are assembling a collection of services to assist those who seek help in Uvalde. But there have been hiccups and hitches along the way."

"This is one thing Reinholdt, Polk-Hoffses and Boyea-Logan are all warning of: A possible exodus of teachers in the summer."

"Russian forces have stepped up the shelling of areas on the outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, but its ground forces did not make any attempts at breaking the defensive lines, Ukranian officials said."

"President Vladimir Putin said at Russia’s showpiece investment conference Friday that the country’s economy will overcome 'reckless and insane' sanctions, while condemning the United States for acting like 'God’s own messengers on planet Earth.'" Russia's inflation rate is double ours, and that's after being brought "under control."

"They were the big winners of France's elections, tearing apart President Emmanuel Macron's majority… The broad left-wing alliance under Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen's far right were described as a pincer movement from the extremes by our Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield… They are poles apart but have largely the same ambition of opposing the centrist Macron government… For veteran far-left leader Mr Mélenchon the success of the New Ecological and Social Popular Union (Nupes) was in achieving the "total rout" of an 'arrogant' president in less than a month." Now you'll have to govern.

"The outcome of the legislative election is highly unusual in France and the strong performance of both Le Pen's National Rally and Melenchon's coalition — composed of his own hard-left party, France Unbowed, the Socialists, Greens and Communists — will make it harder for Macron to implement the agenda he was reelected on in May, including tax cuts and raising France's retirement age from 62 to 65." With a little more in-depth on the stakes.

"In mid-May, the town council approved the wearing of full body-covering bathing suits, commonly known as the burkini, in Grenoble's public municipal pools. Piolle said there was simply no reason to ban them… The backlash was immediate. In a TV interview, far-right leader Marine Le Pen called the full body-covering swimsuit a threat to French secularism and beyond."

"China successfully conducted an anti-ballistic missile test on Sunday night, according to the country's Defense Ministry, part of ongoing military efforts to enhance the country's defensive capabilities."

"The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday cleared the way for lawmakers to severely limit or ban abortion in the state, reversing a decision by the court just four years ago that guaranteed the right to abortion under the Iowa Constitution… The court, now composed almost entirely of Republican appointees, concluded that a less conservative court wrongly decided abortion is among the fundamental privacy rights guaranteed by the Iowa Constitution and federal law."

"Seven staff members from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert were arrested for allegedly trespassing in a Capitol Hill building on Thursday night, authorities have said. All seven were each charged with unlawful entry."

"President Biden fell when he tried to get off his bike at the end of a ride Saturday at Cape Henlopen State Park near his beach home in Delaware, but wasn't hurt in the tumble."

"The Democratic primary battle for Georgia secretary of state – the top elections official in a critical swing state – may come down to questions about how party faithful view diversity and the representation of Black women."

"For the first time in four years, Texas Republicans met in person at their state party convention over the weekend. And boy, did they make up for lost time." Also, not stated in the article, they approved a platform plank to call for a succession vote for Texas. But the one plank where they say that Biden was not legitimately elected is the most dangerous. Every single one who voted for that should not be allowed to hold office.

Previews… "A standoff over the security of voting machines between a Republican-leaning county in New Mexico and Democratic state officials that threatened to erupt into a wider political crisis was defused Friday after local commissioners voted to certify their election results."

"Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro pleaded not guilty Friday to contempt of Congress charges after refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol."

"What we know about Pence’s actions leading up to and during (January 6):" Mike Pence's no good, very bad day.