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

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Linkee-poo Saturday July 30

"(Thursday), the Ursula K. Le Guin Trust announces the Shortlist for the first Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction."

"The chase for the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot is over – because a single ticket has claimed the whole estimated $1.28 billion… One ticket bought in the Chicago area hit the top prize in Friday night’s drawing, according to the Illinois Lottery, securing the third-largest jackpot of any US lottery game and ending a buildup that began when Mega Millions last drew a jackpot winner in mid-April." If you bought a ticket just remember there is a whole series of lesser amounts you can win. Check your numbers.

"Search and rescue teams backed by the National Guard are still searching for people missing in record floods that wiped out entire communities in some of the poorest places in America. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Saturday at least 25 people have died, a toll the governor said he expected to grow, adding that it could take weeks to find victims."

"Researchers have turned dead spiders into necrobotic grippers capable of lifting items that weigh more than 100 times their own body weight."I got nothing.

"Just one day after the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate, mortgage rates took a sharp turn lower… The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 5.22% on Thursday from 5.54% on Wednesday, when the Fed announced its latest rate hike, according to Mortgage News Daily. The rate fell even further Friday to 5.13%." I wouldn't say that was a "sharp" turn, but whatever. Also note, there is no reason to fix mortgage rates to either the prime interest rate or any other stupid metric. No matter what banks may say later. And when they do talk about, just remember that when faced with falling applications, they moved quickly to decouple that metric.

To wit… "'Nationally and locally we're seeing a cooling down, a decrease in demand, and an increase in supply,' said Ashley Jackson, a realtor with Realty Austin in Austin, TX. 'We're seeing that across the board, which you would expect with such a sharp increase in interest rates.'"

"By aggressively raising interest rates, the Federal Reserve is making a big wager that recession is worth the risk if it takes the heat off of consumer prices, which are rising at their fastest pace in four decades… But many economists and lawmakers are pushing back on that idea, arguing that the so-called cure of a recession would be far worse than the disease of inflation." As someone who lived through the 70s, no it's not. Most recessions aren't noticeable to the average consumer, historically. We're in an odd moment that the last two recessions were helladeep and accompanied by other crisis that exacerbated the economic hit. Yes, recessions are bad economically (hey, ask the designer how their jobs fair during even a minor recession), but high inflation is much, much worse. And the argument here is all about who is going to feel the pain to put the economy back together (if it can be). High inflation means the average person takes the big hit. Recession means businesses take the big hit.

Why are gas prices so high? "ExxonMobil and Chevron both reported record massive profits thanks to record gasoline prices during the quarter… Exxon’s profit, excluding special items, came to $17.6 billion in the second quarter, nearly double what it made in its very profitable first quarter as oil and gas prices started to soar in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Second-quarter profit was up 273% from the same period a year ago."

"A subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co has used child labor at a plant that supplies parts for the Korean carmaker's assembly line in nearby Montgomery, Alabama, according to area police, the family of three underage workers, and eight former and current employees of the factory… Underage workers, in some cases as young as 12, have recently worked at a metal stamping plant operated by SMART Alabama LLC, these people said." At some point we're going to have to cut this, "but we outsourced this and assumed they were following all the rules" bullshit out.

"Four years after he was accused of ordering the murder of prominent Saudi critic and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the crown prince has been welcomed in two European capitals and a Saudi-funded golf tournament teed off this weekend at Trump’s Bedminster golf club."

"Volodymyr Zelenskiy has denounced as a war crime a prison attack that killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in Russian-occupied Donetsk, as both sides traded blame for the deaths." Besides other evidence, it seems odd that no Russians were reported injured in the attack. Also, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Russians would stage this, as they have other incidents.

"The mass exodus of an entire police department after the hiring of a Black town manager in North Carolina has opened a conversation about public safety and race relations in a small town of just over 1,500 residents… Last week, the entire police department in Kenly, North Carolina, resigned, citing a 'hostile' work environment less than two months after Justine Jones, a Black woman, began her role as the town’s newly selected city manager."

"Several women being held at a jail in southern Indiana have filed a federal lawsuit against corrections officers there, alleging they allowed a group of men in custody to rape, assault, threaten and harass the women… Eight women listed as plaintiffs say Clark County Jail Officer David Lowe gave the men keys to the women's cells in exchange for $1,000 on the night of Oct. 23, 2021."

"Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has told George Washington University that he won't be returning to teach at its law school this fall. The decision followed student protests over the Supreme Court's vote to overturn Roe v. Wade."

"Will Smith is 'deeply remorseful' about slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards in March… Smith posted a video to his verified Instagram account on Friday that began with the words on screen, 'It’s been a minute.'"

"A conservative member of the US Supreme Court has mocked world leaders who criticised last month's ruling that overturned American abortion rights… Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the ruling, dismissed criticism from a host of prominent figures, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson… He joked that Mr Johnson, who leaves office in September, had "paid the price" for arguing against the verdict." Sounds like someone had their feeling hurt.

"The parking lot of H&L Lumber in Mariposa, California, was host to a flurry of activity Sunday as members of a local militia sporting military-style fatigues handed out pancakes and steak sandwiches to evacuees of the Oak Fire raging nearby. Along with breakfast, they doled out business cards with QR codes and directions to join their militia."

"U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, whose legislative skills have torpedoed many Democratic priorities, suffered a rare defeat himself this week, when Democrats thwarted his plan to block their new $430 billion drugs and energy bill." This is why we can't have nice things. Politics has become a personal win or loss for politicians. And by nice things I'm including doing what is right by our veterans.

"Veterans and their loved ones gathered in Washington, D.C., on Thursday for what was supposed to be a long-awaited celebration… The Senate finally was poised to pass a bill that would provide health care and benefits for millions of veterans injured by exposure to toxins, from Agent Orange in Vietnam to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, in a surprise move, 25 Republican senators blocked the measure on Wednesday — even though they had voted in favor of it just one month earlier."

"A pro-Trump social media influencer who was convicted of disorderly and disruptive conduct on the Capitol's grounds for his actions Jan. 6 is upset over the release of court filings this week that were supposed to be sealed and detail the assistance he provided to federal authorities investigating the siege." There's more than one way to punish them.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Linkee-poo Thursday July 28

"Each year, natural disasters force an average of 21.5 million people from their homes around the world, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. And scientists predict migration will grow as the planet gets hotter. Over the next 30 years, 143 million people are likely to be uprooted by rising seas, drought, searing temperatures and other climate catastrophes, according to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published this year."

"An NPR analysis based on modeling from the National Hurricane Center for three critical regions — New York City, Washington, D.C., and Miami-Dade County — found future sea rise alone could expose about 720,000 more people to flooding in the decades to come."

"Rescue workers plucked people off rooftops amid fast-rising water Thursday in central Appalachia, where torrential rains unleashed what Kentucky’s governor described as some of the worst flooding in the state’s history."

"The Mako station, owned by a subsidiary of West Texas Gas Inc., was observed releasing an estimated 870 kilograms of methane – an extraordinarily potent greenhouse gas — into the atmosphere each hour. That’s the equivalent impact on the climate of burning seven tanker trucks full of gasoline every day."

"Brooks would learn she wasn't alone. Pursuing unpaid bills, nursing homes across this industrial city have been routinely suing not only residents but their friends and family, a KHN review of court records reveals. The practice has ensnared scores of children, grandchildren, neighbors, and others, many with nearly no financial ties to residents or legal responsibility for their debts." Read those papers you sign. We crossed out several provisions, and we have a good situation.

"Scientists have questioned the scientific rationale behind the five-day quarantine policy since the CDC introduced it last December. And now, critics of the policy have more data to back up their claims… In two new preprints, scientists found that people infected with COVID-19 remained infectious after five days. One from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston showed that one-quarter of COVID patients may still be infectious eight days after first testing positive."

Why are gas prices so high? "Shell posted record results on Thursday, with a $11.5 billion second-quarter profit smashing the mark it set only three months ago, lifted by strong gas trading and a tripling of refining profit… The company also announced a $6 billion share buyback programme for the current quarter but did not raise its dividend of 25 cents per share."

"Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week, but the previous week’s number was revised upward significantly, with claims breaching the 250,000 level in back-to-back weeks for the first time in more than eight months."

"The U.S. economy shrank in the last three months by 0.9%… This is the second consecutive quarter where the economy has contracted. In the first quarter, GDP, or gross domestic product, decreased at an annual rate of 1.6%." It's not a recession unless the NBER says it is. Until then it's just sparkling contraction.

"Muffley is one of an estimated 20,000 Delphi workers hurt by the GM bankruptcy, and many have spent the past 13 years fighting to get back what they lost. After taking the issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear their case this year, the retirees were cut off from their last legal remedy."

"Facebook parent Meta was hit with a double whammy in the last three months: revenue fell for the first time ever and profit shrank for the third straight quarter, amid growing competition from TikTok and nervousness from advertisers."

"Russian, French and American leaders are crisscrossing Africa to win support for their positions on the war in Ukraine, waging what some say is the most intense competition for influence on the continent since the Cold War."

"Hungary’s hardline nationalist leader Viktor Orban is facing international condemnation after making remarks on race and multiculturalism that were slammed as a “pure Nazi text” by his longtime aide… Zsuzsa Hegedus, who served as an adviser to Orban for two decades, quit Tuesday over what she called Orban’s 'illiberal turn,' describing his comments in Romania on Saturday as a 'pure Nazi text worthy of (Nazi propagandist) Goebbels,' according to her resignation letter published by Hungarian outlet HVG… He was also denounced by the International Auschwitz Committee after comments in the same speech that were interpreted as a joke about the use of gas chambers against Jewish people in Nazi Germany." Really, it took this long for them to figure Orban out? Also, just a reminder, Hitler Lite is a keynote speaker at CPAC next month.

"North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned he’s ready to use his nuclear weapons in potential military conflicts with the United States and South Korea, state media said Thursday, as he unleashed fiery rhetoric against rivals he says are pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war." Someone is feeling ignored.

"The U.S. has offered a deal to Russia aimed at bringing home WNBA star Brittney Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday. In a sharp reversal of previous policy, Blinken also said he expects to speak with his Kremlin counterpart for the first time since before Russia invaded Ukraine."

"A U.S. defense contractor and his wife who lived for decades under the identities of two dead Texas children have been charged with identity theft and conspiring against the government, according to federal court records unsealed in Honolulu."

"Gun-makers have taken in more than $1 billion from selling AR-15-style guns over the past decade, at times marketing them as a way for young men to prove their masculinity, even as the number of mass shootings increases, according to a House investigation unveiled Wednesday."

"What started as a $4 trillion effort during President Joe Biden’s first months in office to rebuild America’s public infrastructure and family support systems has ended up a much slimmer, but not unsubstantial, compromise package of inflation-fighting health care, climate change and deficit reduction strategies that appears headed toward quick votes in Congress."

"Poole is one of millions of Georgia voters affected by sweeping changes to state election laws enacted by lawmakers last year. The changes include restricting access to drop boxes in counties that used them the most, which also have the highest number of voters of color and Democrats, according to an analysis by NPR, WABE and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) of drop box locations, voter registration and other data."

"A conservative-backed initiative to publish voter registration records from across the country online for public consumption can move forward over the objections of New Mexico election regulators, a federal judge has ordered in a preliminary opinion."

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Linkee-poo Wednesday July 27

James Lovelock, and so it goes.

"The Mega Millions jackpot has crossed the $1 billion threshold. The grand prize in Friday night's drawing will be an estimated $1.02 billion, lottery officials said, though that's certain to grow as more and more tickets are bought as that drawing approaches… The cash option for that pot of gold would be $602.5 million." Oh gods.

"Joni Mitchell's surprise performance at the Newport Folk Festival on Sunday is already becoming the stuff of legend. The unsuspecting crowd roared as the singer-songwriter stepped onto the stage in her first public performance since suffering a debilitating brain aneurysm in 2015."

"Video from Chinese social media shows a bridge in the city of Quanzhou in southern China's Fujian province breaking in half due to high temperatures as a heatwave sweeps across China."

"A tall and narrow stripe of a city more than 105 miles long, teeming with 9 million residents and running entirely on renewable energy — that's the vision Saudi Arabia's leaders have for The Line, part of a "giga-project" that will reshape the kingdom's northwest… Newly revealed design concepts show a futuristic walled city — its open interior is enclosed on both sides by a mirrored façade — stretching from the Red Sea eastward across the desert and into a mountain range." That's, uh, well, something.

"Data wonks with mighty computers are overjoyed. Ordinary consumers, not so much… But so much data is flowing in from insurers — tens of thousands of colossal digital files from a single insurer is not unusual — that it could still be weeks before data firms put it into usable forms for its intended targets: employers, researchers and even patients." If you can't baffle them with bullshit, bury them in data.

"All three siblings were charged for the same service: 'Advanced Life Support Emergency Level 1.' It's code for transportation by a ground ambulance in response to a 911 call, and it can include medical services as simple as an assessment. All three were also charged a mileage fee. Jim and Cynthia were billed for 15 miles; Peggy was billed for 14 miles. But because they rode in separate ambulances, each from a different nearby fire protection district, they were billed three separate amounts…"

"The fast-spreading BA.5 subvariant of Omicron and its close relative BA.4 now make up around 95% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to estimates published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)… The strains have driven an acceleration this month in the pace of new COVID-19 cases — President Biden among them. Hospital admissions in some regions now eclipse the worst days of the Delta variant wave last year, especially among Americans aged 70 and older."

"This week, an international team of scientists published two extensive, peer-reviewed papers in Science, offering the strongest evidence to date that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in animals at a market in Wuhan, China. Specifically, they conclude that the coronavirus most likely jumped from a caged wild animal into people at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where a huge COVID-19 outbreak began in December 2019."

"Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, told NPR's All Things Considered Tuesday that, amid early transmission of monkeypox, it's important to understand 'the extent of the spread, how it's spread, what population.' He said it is a virus that medical professionals understand and one that they have available tools to use, unlike in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic."

"The Federal Reserve on Wednesday enacted its second consecutive 0.75 percentage point interest rate increase, taking its benchmark rate to a range of 2.25%-2.5%."

"Covid-19 relief and record-low interest rates boosted many Americans’ finances during the pandemic. That has been especially true for millennials, who have on average built significant wealth… And millennials’ average net worth — defined as total assets minus total liabilities — also increased twofold during the same period, jumping to $127,793 from $62,758, the report found… However, the report finds the average millennial net worth still lags behind older generations, with Gen Xers and baby boomers reaching an average of $647,619 and $1,021,264, respectively." And then the admonition that you should go into more debt.

"Florida’s already crippled home insurance market is taking another hit… WESH 2 News has learned that another company, Bankers Insurance Group, is pulling out of Florida’s home insurance market." The article quickly focuses on the lack of legislation to shield them from litigation, and only briefly mentions that reinsurance for the Florida market is now hella expensive.

"Foret is surveying the lingering damage on a drive to see his insurance agent. He's among tens of thousands of Louisiana homeowners scrambling to find new property insurance in the midst of a new Atlantic hurricane season. Most major companies have quit covering the coast, and now smaller firms are going under after Louisiana was hit with two major hurricanes in the last two years… Foret says the insurance shakeup just exacerbates an already slow-going disaster recovery."

"Signed contracts to purchase existing homes dropped 20% in June compared with the same month a year ago, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday… That is the slowest pace since September 2011, with the exception of the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, when sales plunged briefly and then rebounded sharply."

"The share of Americans who believe colleges and universities have a positive impact on the country has dropped by 14 percentage points since 2020."

"The Senate has passed a major piece of legislation aimed at supporting domestic manufacturing of semiconductor chips that power the nation's smartphones, cars, computers, medical equipment and weapons systems. The bipartisan-backed measure passed by a vote of 64-33."

"Ukrainian forces have attacked the Antonovsky Bridge in occupied Kherson in southern Ukraine, with the army releasing footage appearing to show the bridge being shelled last night. The bridge is a crucial supply route for Russian forces occupying the city."

"An Indiana doctor says she has faced harassment after the story of one of her patients — a 10-year-old Ohio girl who became pregnant as a result of rape — captured the nation's attention as a flashpoint in the debate over abortion rights… She has worried about her own safety and the safety of her family, Bernard said Tuesday in an interview with NPR's Sarah McCammon."

"Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin have released preliminary details of a bill to address climate change, taxes, health care and inflation. The agreement is a major reversal for Democrats who had narrowed their ambitions for the package to addressing looming lapses in the Affordable Care Act and changes to prescription drug prices."

"The House Jan. 6 committee hearings appear to be breaking through in some of this fall’s most competitive congressional districts in key states, though the panel’s work does not appear to be making a major impact on how voters view candidates for Congress and governor."

"Hours after his former No. 2 and possible 2024 primary rival gave a speech outlining a 'road map for conservative leaders,' former President Donald Trump delivered a grim and rambling speech about violent crime in his first appearance in D.C. since he skipped Joe Biden's Inauguration Day ceremony and left the White House in 2021."

"The Justice Department's criminal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, rioting at the U.S. Capitol, now includes questions for witnesses about the communications of people close to then-President Donald Trump and his reelection campaign, CBS News has confirmed." Tick tock, Garland.

"The heads of the Jan. 6 committee and the House Oversight Committee are calling for a new inspector general to lead the investigation into erased Secret Service text messages related to the Capitol insurrection."

Monday, July 25, 2022

Linkee-poo Monday July 25

"The U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization says there is more lethal heat in our future because of climate change caused by our species on this planet. Even with advances in wind, solar and other alternative energy sources, and international pledges and accords, the world still derives about 80% of its energy from fossil fuels, like oil, gas and coal, which release the carbon dioxide that's warmed the climate to the current temperatures of this scalding summer." This summer is more than likely a spike summer. Unfortunately, we've been quickly turning temperatures reached during those upward spikes into the "relief" years when temperatures spike down.

"From the Pacific north-west to the southern Great Plains and on to the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor, more than 85 million Americans were on Sunday under excessive heat warnings or heat advisories issued by the National Weather Service (NWS)… The agency warned of 'extremely oppressive' conditions from Washington to Boston."

"As many as 49 million people are under heat alerts Monday spanning three distinct areas: the Northeast, the Plains stretching into portions of the South, and the Pacific Northwest."

One of the many reasons I support the space program… "But while the JWST flies through space, it's done more for us here on Earth than show images of distant galaxies. The technology developed to build the JWST has also helped improve the vision of millions of eye surgery patients… It's one of the latest examples in a long history of NASA inventions making an impact on everyday life." Besides, you know, the big rockets.

"The World Health Organization has activated its highest alert level for the growing monkeypox outbreak, declaring the virus a public health emergency of international concern… The rare designation means the WHO now views the outbreak as a significant enough threat to global health that a coordinated international response is needed to prevent the virus from spreading further and potentially escalating into a pandemic." Here we go.

On the Media podcast with… "Early in the pandemic, weight was named a risk factor for severe covid-19. But what if the greater risk is poor medical treatment for fat people? This week, On the Media dives into the fictions, feelings, and fraught history of fat. Including how sugar and the slave trade laid the groundwork for American beauty standards."

"This, on a nationwide scale, became the recipe for a whole new problem for some U.S. stores: a glut of inventory… Big box stores like Target and Walmart are particularly working through an excess of certain items."

"Inflation is crushing rural America and driving some people to consider moving closer to cities in an effort to ease the financial stress, according to the latest analysis from one expert."

On the Media podcast with… "Gas prices are coming down. Inflation is still going up. Jobs are strong, yet recession fears abound. This week, On the Media dives into the contradictory mess of money news – and what it ultimately says about us." Long story short, with employment still going strong, recession is unlikely. The contrary position is "the indicators we follow are no longer relevant with global warming."

"The report, published last year, found that foster care agencies in at least 49 states and Washington, D.C., have been applying for Social Security on behalf of foster youth in their care who are eligible for death, disability or veterans' benefits. The agencies often keep the money, often without notifying the children, their family members or lawyers." When I say I want to reform the social safety net programs, these are the problems I'm talking about. Not the GOP talking point which is basically ending these programs.

"Pope Francis issued a historic apology Monday for the Catholic Church's cooperation with Canada's "catastrophic" policy of Indigenous residential schools, saying the forced assimilation of Native peoples into Christian society destroyed their cultures, severed families and marginalized generations in ways still being felt today."

Our well regulated militia strikes again… "A woman allegedly fired several gunshots into the air at Dallas Love Field Airport in Texas on Monday before police shot her and took her into custody, Dallas Police said… The incident began at about 11 a.m. when a 37-year-old woman arrived to the airport and went inside near the ticket counters, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said. She went to the bathroom and then exited wearing a hoodie, pulled out a firearm and began shooting, apparently aiming at the ceiling, he said."

"A California man, who claims Skittles candy contains a 'known toxin' that makes it "unfit for human consumption," is suing the manufacturer, Mars… That ingredient — titanium dioxide — is just one of the thousands of legal food additives in the U.S. In his lawsuit, Jenile Thames says Mars failed to warn consumers about the potential dangers of the ingredient, which is used as a color additive in Skittles."

"On Friday, the sheriff's office announced Cartwright had been arrested and charged for Garcia's death, adding investigators learned he is the owner of all the dogs responsible for the mauling."

"In Washington, Kevin McCarthy is the ultimate party-line Republican, one of former President Trump’s most loyal congressional foot soldiers and leading the charge in the GOP’s quest to regain control of the House in November… But back home in his district, Cora Shipley is skeptical." Again, in the authoritarian system conservative have built, eventually everyone is on the outs.

"Former President Donald Trump was reluctant to give a speech on January 7, 2021, that strongly condemned the violence at the US Capitol the day before and crossed out key lines in a draft, according to a new video released by the House January 6 committee that includes interview footage and the draft document."

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Linkee-poo Saturday July 23

"The Mega Millions jackpot has surged to a whopping $790 million after no ticket matched all six winning numbers in Friday night's drawing." Ultra-high risk, ultra-high reward, low-entry-barrier retirement plan.

"The appropriately named 'Phantom Galaxy' glows eerily in a new image by Judy Schmidt based on James Webb Space Telescope data collected nearly a million miles away from our planet using the observatory's mid-infrared instrument (MIRI)."

"San Diego’s Comic-Con International — and all the cosplaying fans — is back this week for the first time in three years… Cosplayers have been some of the most excited fans as live events start to return. They’ll be holding court and taking photos with onlookers at the con, which regularly draws more than 100,000 attendees."

"T-Mobile has agreed to a settlement totaling $500 million in a class-action lawsuit filed by customers after the company disclosed in August that sensitive data had been breached in a cyberattack… In a court filing late Friday, the mobile phone giant said it would pay $350 million to settle the customers’ claims and spend $150 million over the next few years bolstering its cybersecurity protection and technologies."

"Like his many small business neighbors — those that have managed to stay afloat — Luck has been waiting for San Francisco to rebound. He relies on tech workers at massive employers like Google and Salesforce, which is a challenge because those companies are being flexible with return-to-office demands."

"Russian missiles hit Ukraine's southern port of Odesa on Saturday, the Ukrainian military said, threatening a deal signed just the day before to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports and ease global food shortages caused by the war."

"A federal jury has convicted former Trump political adviser Steve Bannon of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for intentionally defying a subpoena related to the assault on the U.S. Capitol last year… Bannon put on no defense in the case, which featured testimony from just two government witnesses, including the deputy staff director of the House Select Committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021."

"The curtain fell late Thursday on the Jan. 6 committee's summer hearings, a series that has, through highly produced presentations and bombshell-filled witness testimony, given the public an inside view of what led up to the Capitol attack."

"Members of the committee said the evidence showed that Trump lied, betrayed his oath of office, and summoned a mob to Washington to try to overturn the presidential election. It was, said Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, 'a stain on our history'… But in the heart of Trump country, there’s a different take."

"Secret Service investigators were scrutinizing the phones of 10 Secret Service personnel that contained metadata showing text messages were sent and received around January 6, 2021, but were not retained, two sources told CNN… The scrutiny came after the Department of Homeland Security inspector general asked for the text records last year of 24 individuals at the Secret Service who were involved in January 6, but only one text had been produced. After the issue spilled into public view this month, the inspector general launched a criminal investigation into the matter, and lawmakers demanded answers from the Secret Service to go back and find out what happened to the texts that may have been deleted."

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Linkee-poo Thursday July 21

From DAW Books, "Readers: we've been made aware of the cancellation of preorders for DAW books with 9/1/2022 on-sale dates onward. We apologize profusely for the inconvenience this has caused. To receive your preordered book, please place your order again through your preferred retailer."

"Federal regulators Wednesday canceled a policy adopted under former President Donald Trump that weakened their authority to identify lands and waters where declining animals and plants could receive government protection." The slow progress of trying to heal the massive damage done by Trump and conservatives.

"The government had urged Brits to stay home if possible. Train stations were shut or empty; an airport closed a runway and police closed a highway when asphalt melted and buckled. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the city's fire brigade received 1,600 calls for assistance and that firefighters were fighting at least a dozen major fires across the city. Residents of Blidworth, a village near Nottingham, were evacuated as 15 fire crews battled an enormous blaze on a nearby farm." I've often said that the problem with climate change in the near term is that we're living and growing our food in the wrong places. Climate change will make how we live in 30 years almost unrecognizable to us. Our infrastructure just isn't built for this.

"A new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using data from 25 states finds that fatal overdoses increased by 44% among Black people in 2020 compared with the year prior… The jump in drug overdose deaths was almost as sharp for American Indian and Alaska Native people — groups that together saw a 39% increase over the previous year."

"A Sesame Street-themed amusement park has apologized and promised more training for its employees after a video showing a costumed character waving off two 6-year-old Black girls during a parade went viral online."

"Baidu, a Chinese search engine and artificial intelligence firm, unveiled its latest electric autonomous driving vehicle on Thursday… The Apollo RT6 will be soon be part of Baidu’s robotaxi fleet, as China pushes forward with its autonomous driving ambitions. It is a fully electric vehicle with a steering wheel that can be removed or installed when required, and will cost 250,000 yuan ($37,000) per unit."

"The truckers are protesting Assembly Bill 5, a gig economy law passed in 2019 that made it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees, who are entitled to minimum wage and benefits such as workers compensation, overtime and sick pay." Yes, some people like the "independent contractor" gigs. That's great, companies can still hire them. They just can't force you to be one just to get a job.

"That's because Netflix's second-quarter earnings report revealed the company lost 970,000 subscribers. And while that is a big number — the biggest subscriber loss in the company's 25-year history — it is also a little less than half the 2-million subscriber loss the company predicted in April, which sent shock waves through Wall Street and the streaming industry."

"The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday to protect same-sex and interracial marriages amid concerns that the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade abortion access could jeopardize other rights criticized by many conservative Americans… In a robust but lopsided debate, Democrats argued intensely in favor of enshrining marriage equality in federal law, while Republicans steered clear of openly rejecting gay marriage. Instead leading Republicans portrayed the bill as unnecessary amid other issues facing the nation."

"An Indiana doctor who provided an abortion for a 10-year-old abuse victim from Ohio is taking a key step toward a possible defamation lawsuit against Indiana's Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita." Where's the GoFund me for this? Also, what is not being brought out about this case is this. I'm assuming the reporting here isn't because of the abortion, but because of the "suspected" abuse, and the doctor in most states would be a mandatory reporter. Which is as it's supposed to be. If you're in a position to know or help and you suspect abuse, you should report it. However, the back end of that, receiving and acting on the reports, seems to be severely broken here. And that's the AG's responsibility. So just like rape kits it appears reports are being received, sorted, and archived, and absolutely nothing else. And frankly that is the actual crime here.

"The Republican Party of Arizona's executive committee censured Rusty Bowers, the speaker of the state House who testified on Capitol Hill about the events surrounding the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday night… Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the Arizona GOP, announced the condemnation by the panel on Twitter, saying Bowers is 'no longer a Republican in good standing & we call on Republicans to replace him at the ballot box in the August primary.'" With authoritarians eventually everyone is on the outs. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Parts of a 2021 Texas voting law that cracked down on assistance for voters with limited English skills and voters with disabilities can no longer be enforced… A federal judge in Texas issued a ruling last month striking down provisions in Texas' new law, known as Senate Bill 1, that set limits on how people can help voters cast their ballots. State officials had until last week to appeal the ruling, but they declined. The office of the Texas attorney general has not responded to requests for comment."

"That officer, Laurence Brewer, said in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday that the National Archives and Records Administration 'has become aware of the potential unauthorized deletion of United States Secret Service (Secret Service) text messages' that were dated Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021." Loss like the Secret Service is going to have a lot of job openings real soon.

"Researchers at Harvard University who conducted the largest study yet of what motivated Jan. 6 rioters say the data is clear: The most common responses focused on former President Donald Trump and his lies about the election… The study, which was shared with NBC News ahead of its publication, logged and analyzed the motives of 417 Capitol rioters, all of whom have been charged in relation to Jan. 6. The motives were derived from 469 documents filed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, including charging documents and sentencing memoranda." Every time they blame Trump, an angel gets its wings. "The third most frequently listed reason defendants gave to law enforcement for entering the Capitol was their belief that they were participating in 'revolution, civil war, or secession.'… About the same number of defendants in the study claimed they were at the Capitol to 'peacefully protest' (7%) as those who claimed they were there because of a 'general interest in violence' (6.2%)."

"The 16 Republicans who submitted false documents claiming to be official Georgia electors and that Donald Trump won the state's election have been notified they could be prosecuted for their actions… In a court filing Tuesday, 11 of the fake GOP electors, including party chairman David Shafer, filed a motion seeking to halt future testimony, have the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis removed from prosecuting them and that any report be held under embargo or seal until after the midterm elections." They say they were "preserving their options." No, they were committing a felony, signed a document that is the evidence of their crime, and now they're upset that they're having to pay consequences for their criminal actions.

"But the men at Garcia's door weren't part of a get-out-the-vote effort. They were part of a growing national movement by regular people to try to root out alleged fraud in America's elections… The data they yield isn't considered credible by election experts, and the door-to-door nature of the interactions is raising concerns about voter intimidation." The proper response is, "May I see your Federal ID? You don't have one? You have 30 seconds to get your treasonous ass off my property."

"Before Trump eventually released a presidential memo in 2020 calling for the unprecedented exclusion of unauthorized immigrants from a key set of census numbers, earlier releases of internal documents and public statements by Trump officials signaled their interest in using citizenship data to try to break with more than two centuries of precedent in how congressional seats and Electoral College votes are redistributed among the states… Still, the newly disclosed documents provide a detailed look into some of the early behind-the-scenes discussions at a time when Trump officials were focused on keeping their plans under wraps."

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Linkee-poo Wednesday July 20

An early short posting because I have a lot to do today. Also sorry yesterday's post apprarently didn't. Computers, what can you do.

"After putting off routine health care for much of the pandemic, Americans are now returning to doctors’ offices in big numbers — a trend that’s starting to show up in higher insurance rates across the country… Health insurers in individual marketplaces across 13 states and Washington D.C. will raise rates an average of 10% next year, according to a review of rate filings by the Kaiser Family Foundation." Granted, they're talking about single digit percentage increases, which are miles ahead of the 15-20% annual increases from the 90s and aughts. But what this is really about is… "The rate increases come as Congress debates whether to extend financial help for consumers through the American Rescue Plan — the $1.9 trillion economic aid package Congress passed last year to combat the economic impacts of the pandemic." Understand that healthcare insurance companies made billions in record profits for the last few years (seriously, just google it). There's not any real pressure for them to increase rates this much. Except to grab more money.

"Nearly five months into its senseless war against Ukraine, Russia has concocted a wild new explanation for why the Kremlin’s plans for a quick takeover fell apart so spectacularly—because Ukrainian troops were turned into superhuman killing machines during 'secret experiments' in American-run biolabs, of course." These were stupid lies back in the 80s, they're even more eyeballing today. (Grokked from John)

Last week… "Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill Thursday that would protect the rights of women to travel to other states to access abortion care legally." Cruelty is the point.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Linkee-poo Tuesday July 19

Sorry, apparently this didn't post yesterday.

Claus Oldenburg, and so it goes.

"Towering waves on Hawaii’s south shores crashed into homes and businesses, spilled across highways and upended weddings over the weekend… The large waves, some more than 20ft (6m) high, came from a combination of a strong south swell that peaked Saturday evening, particularly high tides and rising sea levels associated with climate change, the National Weather Service said Monday."

"France has evacuated more than 14,000 people threatened by wildfires in the south-west, as fires also spread in Spain, Croatia and Greece… Authorities in France's Gironde, a popular tourist region, have evacuated guards from campsites - the tourists left earlier. Fires have spread in the Teste-de-Buch and Landiras areas."

"Extreme heat has engulfed parts of western Europe, with wildfires raging in France and Spain, a worsening drought in Portugal, and the third hottest day on record in the UK on Monday."

"Some climate activists have urged the White House in recent months to deploy an emergency declaration to maximum effect, arguing that it would allow the president to halt crude oil exports, limit oil and gas drilling in federal waters, and direct agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency to boost renewable-energy sources."

"Water gets boiled a lot – whether it's a cup of tea brewing in a kitchen or a power plant generating electricity. Any improvements in the efficiency of this process will have a huge impact on the overall amount of energy used for it every day." Build a better teakettle and the world will beat a path to your door.

"That started her years-long journey into figuring out how best to help her daughter with her mental health struggles — a journey that hasn't ended for the family but has gotten easier over time… Here are some specific things that parents or a family member can do to help."

"Through a wave of pandemic-related litigation, a trio of small but mighty conservative legal blocs has rolled back public health authority at the local, state and federal levels, recasting America's future battles against infectious diseases… Galvanized by what they've characterized as an overreach of COVID-related health orders issued amid the pandemic, lawyers from the three overlapping spheres — conservative and libertarian think tanks, Republican state attorneys general, and religious liberty groups — are aggressively taking on public health mandates and the government agencies charged with protecting community health."

"Elon Musk and Twitter continued sparring on Monday, with the social media company slamming the Tesla CEO’s request for a slower trial schedule. Musk is trying to terminate a deal he previously made to buy Twitter and take it private for $54.20 per share, or about $44 billion."

"They emerge one by one in the morning light. Some by foot, but most come by bike or wheelchair. Ukrainian soldiers know to wait for the escapees on this dirt road… More than 15 million Ukrainians have fled their homes since Russia invaded in late February, according to the United Nations. Many have fled abroad, while others have sought shelter in other parts of the country, escaping towns devastated by incessant bombardments or gripped by Russian military control."

"The Security Service of Ukraine has established that part of the Russian command in February was guided by topographical maps of Ukraine from the last century."

"Passage of an amendment to the Kansas Constitution would clear the way for lawmakers to outlaw abortion. Some lawmakers already have legislation ready to go… the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the state Constitution included a woman’s right to an abortion, Kansas became a refuge. Today abortions for out-of-staters now outnumber those performed on women from the state."

"The Dallas Independent School District, the second largest in Texas, will be requiring students to wear clear or mesh backpacks to school in the aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting… Students from grades 6 to 12 will have to wear see-through backpacks beginning in the 2022-2023 school year to 'ensure that prohibited items are not included among the students' belongings,' the district said Monday." Oh, that'll help. Not. not exactly the dumbest idea ever, put it's a strong runner up.

"A preliminary report by the Texas House investigative committee probing the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers outlines multiple failures by several entities, including the overall law enforcement response, the Uvalde school system, the shooter's family and social media platforms."

"'The pods were originally manufactured as tornado shelters for schools located in "tornado alley" which now encompasses roughly one third of the U.S. and seems to be expanding,' Dennis Corrado, the company's president, said in an email to NPR. 'After the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012, the shelter design was modified ... with the intent of offering them to schools as a dual-purpose safety measure to protect from tornadoes and active shooters.'" Escalation is not the way to go. Because, seriously, if they're safe for the students (can't be opened from the outside), what stops a student from locking themselves in? Are you protected from overpressure events? Because it looks like the kind of space that would amplify them. These are a bad idea for school shooter situations.

"Two years after a vicious attack sent her into a coma, a woman in West Virginia has regained consciousness — and she gave sheriff's deputies vital information that led to the arrest of her brother… Wanda Palmer barely survived the ordeal in June 2020, when an assailant used what was believed to be a machete or hatchet to attack her in her home near Cottageville, some 45 miles north of Charleston."

"Police on Monday provided more details about the shooting at a mall in Indiana on Sunday that left three victims dead — including the name of the 'Good Samaritan' who is believed to have killed the shooter and stopped the attack. Officials called the actions of the armed civilian 'nothing short of heroic,' noting that the gunman likely would have killed many more people had he not intervened."

"'Nothing new about this,' (Bernie Sanders) added. 'The problem was that we continued to talk to Manchin like he was serious. He was not,' noting how the West Virginia senator and coal baron has benefited from campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies… Manchin said last week that he wants to delay any major decisions on the bill because of high inflation. Sanders said Sunday he wasn’t buying that justification, saying the people of West Virginia would support the provisions in the bill."

"Republican Sen. Rand Paul chided Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday after President Joe Biden decided not to nominate a conservative to a federal district courtship in their home state of Kentucky, intensifying a blame game over what McConnell believed could have been a rare Republican victory on the judiciary under a Democratic president." Rand is feeling a little ignored these days. Actually Rand knows McConnell's days are numbered so he's making a power move.

"But as the political environment has worsened for Democrats across the country, the gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania has begun to look more competitive than either party expected. Polls show Mastriano behind Shapiro by only three to four percentage points, which is within the margin of error. Though many still have doubts about Mastriano’s ability to run a successful campaign, that has made Pennsylvania Republicans more optimistic — and served as a wake-up call for Democrats, particularly in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned." Of course conservatives were going to line up behind Mastriano. Of course polling will show that. What matters is how many of those "potential voters" will actually go out and vote in November. Mastriano is still on a "shoe-string" campaign. That should give you a hint on how this will go. Yes, conservatives will vote for him. But they're not betting on him winning. If I had to make a guess, the GOP machine will be more interested in winning the PA senate seat than the governor's office (as long as they feel they'll win enough state representatives).

"Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia is seeking to challenge in court a subpoena from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to appear before the grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the state, according to a new court filing on Monday."

"Two New York residents were arrested Monday on a federal criminal complaint accusing them of a nearly decadelong $27 million investment fraud scheme that leveraged their attendance at a 2017 fundraiser with then-President Donald Trump to dupe their victims." Grifts all the way down.

"Cohn was already a legend when Trump met him in 1973. Cohn had been in the news for decades, prosecuting nuclear espionage or searching for communists or defending celebrity clients. Among those he represented were Cardinal Francis Spellman, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the New York crime bosses Carmine Galante and John Gotti."

"Deleted Secret Service texts sent on 6 January, the day of the insurrection at the US Capitol, and the day before will be released by Tuesday to the House committee investigating the failed attempt by supporters of Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election result, a panel member said… The Secret Service’s account about how text messages from the day before and the day of the Capitol attack were erased has shifted several times, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security told the House January 6 select committee at a briefing on Friday." Right after the "have you tried restarting" entry in the tech support manual is the admonition about "before upgrading a system, back up all the data."

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Linkee-poo Saturday July 16

Ivanka Trump, and so it goes.

"People experiencing a mental health crisis have a new way to reach out for help in the U.S. Starting Saturday, they can simply call or text the numbers 9-8-8… Modeled after 911, the new three-digit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people who are suicidal or in any other mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional."

"I just checked, and there are no Italian restaurants on Mars. So there goes one explanation for an odd object photographed by NASA's Perseverance rover on Tuesday. It isn't spaghetti. Nor is it a sea creature or a hair ball. It looks like a tangle of string or shredded material that's clinging together… The image comes from one of the rover's front-facing hazard avoidance cameras that keep an eye on the landscape to protect Percy when it's driving or using its robotic arm." And a stoic faced martian just off camera sheds a single tear.

"When Vincent Van Gogh was low on money he took to painting on both sides of the canvas, but over the years some of his reverse side paintings were covered up and lost. Now, another of his hidden self-portraits has been discovered, this time at the National Galleries of Scotland… The self-portrait was revealed during an X-ray of an 1885 painting by Van Gogh, Head of a Peasant Woman, as the museum was prepping for an upcoming exhibition on impressionism, which is scheduled to open at the end of the month."

"Jim Thorpe has been reinstated as the sole winner of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon in Stockholm — nearly 110 years after being stripped of those gold medals for violations of strict amateurism rules of the time."

"At least six people have died after a dust storm fueled by wind gusts topping 60mph caused a pileup on the Interstate 90 freeway in Montana, authorities said… At least 20 vehicles were involved in the crash on Friday evening. Sgt Jay Nelson of Montana highway patrol said authorities believed weather was the cause."

"Joe Manchin’s decision to kill off sweeping US climate legislation has been called 'nothing short of a death sentence' for younger people and a livable climate on Earth, amid an outpouring of anger and despair from activists, scientists and even many of the US Senator’s Democratic colleagues." At this point, if we could reduce CO2 emissions through the big things, we could continue some benefits that almost necessitate continued CO2 emissions. Things like beef production, some plastics, and maybe concrete. The more we delay, the more of those extras we must add to the mix when we eventually must decarbonize.

"President Joe Biden said on Friday that he will take executive action on climate change as talks among Senate Democrats on possible legislation faltered, and he encouraged them to pursue a smaller deal focused on health care, in part to lower health costs in the face of high inflation."

"Due to the current #heatwave, a lot has been happening this week for the French #nuclear power production." The waters are getting too hot to run the reactors at full capacity.

"The BA.5 omicron subvariant, which is now the most prevalent coronavirus strain in the United States, is four times more resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, according to a new study… The strain, which is considered 'hypercontagious,' according to the Mayo Clinic, is more defiant against messenger RNA vaccines, which include Pfizer and Moderna."

"A Texas man, not his 13-year-old son, was driving the pickup truck that crossed into the oncoming lane and struck a van carrying New Mexico college golfers, killing nine people, and he had methamphetamine in his system, investigators said Thursday." First reports are often wrong.

"Vladimir, whose surname has been removed due to the sensitive nature of the situation, is part of what he considers Russia’s 'second wave' of migration following the war.This includes those who took longer to prepare to leave the country — such as people with businesses or families who wanted to let their children finish the school year before leaving."

"Oksana Urbanska walked through the rubble in the center of her native city Thursday, voicing fury at what she described as a deliberate strike against civilian buildings, including a medical clinic and local shops."

"Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka's interim president Friday until Parliament elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who resigned after mass protests over the country's economic collapse forced him from office."

"Arizona Department of Corrections director David Shinn said Arizona communities would 'collapse' without cheap prison labor, during testimony before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee Thursday." This article on the Arizona prison system just keeps getting worse as you read it. JFC, all the people involved in setting up this system need to be investigated and at the very least removed from office. And their assumptions about the private prison ownership… "'You have to guarantee that they're going to have people there, and they're going to have a profit that they make, they're going to have income,' Kavanagh said. 'No one's going to enter into a contract when you can't guarantee the income that they expect. That's kind of based on basic business.'" No. That's exactly opposite of why the private prison system was initiated. Because "private industry" can "be more flexible" and act faster to changing conditions. If this isn't modern slavery wrapped in corruption, I don't know what it is. Cause it certainly ain't a penal system.

"Soon after the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, dozens of prosecutors nationwide — including at least five in Texas, representing some of the state's most populous counties — declared they would not pursue charges against people who seek or provide abortions… In response, a group of conservative Texas legislators have hatched a plan to circumvent those local district attorneys: allow prosecutors from other parts of the state to enforce the laws for them." Cruelty is the point.

"But citing costs, the Postal Service’s plan to replace about 165,000 of the current gas guzzling delivery trucks includes just a fraction of EVs… Sixteen states — including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware — are now suing USPS over the plan. The Postal Service’s move has angered Democratic members of Congress, climate activists, and postal workers themselves."

"It’s difficult to summarize a 122-page plan, but these House Republicans made little effort to curtail their ambitions. If the Republican Study Committee’s plan were implemented, Social Security and Medicare would be partially privatized, food stamps would be slashed, Head Start would be phased out, Medicaid funding would be decimated, the Affordable Care Act would be weakened, labor unions would be undermined, the EPA would be gutted, abortion would be banned, birthright citizenship would be eliminated, Donald Trump’s border wall would be funded, and even the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would see its doors permanently closed." What conservatives want. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"The road to building The Pryde, a Boston housing development aimed at LGBTQ+ seniors, has been surprisingly smooth. That's what made last weekend's homophobic vandalism all the more shocking… Among the slurs and death threats covering the perimeter of the construction site, which takes up nearly an entire city block of the Hyde Park neighborhood, were messages saying, 'We will burn this,' 'die slow,' and 'die by fire.'"

"A watchdog says the U.S. Secret Service deleted many of the text messages sent during a two-day period surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol… The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency, told Congress the messages were deleted after his office asked for them." Someone's head will roll.

"The House panel investigating the attack on the Capitol issued a subpoena Friday to the Secret Service after a Homeland Security official briefed committee members about the Secret Service erasing text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021… In a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray, Committee chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the panel wanted any pertinent text messages and other records tied to Jan. 6. He said the request was being made after the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general notified congressional committees of allegations that the Secret Service had erased text messages after the internal watchdog requested records of electronic communications surrounding the Jan. 6 riot."

"People delete text messages and other electronic messages for many reasons: to free up room on their device; to break contact after a sour conversation; and, from time to time, to wipe out a conversation, for one reason or another… But deleting a digital correspondence isn't as easy as you might think. For starters, depending on the program you're using, the recipient still has a copy of the message you sent them. And that data might live on in cloud storage."

"House Republicans are plotting revenge on the select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection, as the GOP weighs a broader effort to re-litigate some of Donald Trump's biggest election grievances if it recaptures the House majority… The former President has been itching for payback and leaning heavily on his Capitol Hill allies to defend him against a recent slew of damaging revelations about his role in the deadly attack on the US Capitol. Now, as Republicans search for ways to undermine those findings, their party has started to lay the groundwork to investigate the select committee itself."

"In North Carolina's high-profile U.S. Senate race this November, the Green Party may not have the chance to play spoiler… That's because the state Board of Elections, which is controlled by Democrats, has — so far — refused to give the Green Party a spot on the ballot, citing possible fraud in their ballot petition… That's sparked complaints from the Green Party — along with Republicans — that the board is undermining the Green Party to boost Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley as she faces off against Republican nominee Ted Budd."

Friday, July 15, 2022

Linkee-poo Night Owl Edition July 15

"Ada Limón was named Tuesday by the Library of Congress as the nation's 24th poet laureate… She will take over in September from Joy Harjo, who has held the position since 2019. Harjo was only the second poet laureate to be named to a third term; Robert Pinsky also holds that honor."

"Texas is making national headlines for its climate-change-related extreme weather again — this time for a so-called heat dome that’s trapping warm temperatures over the area. More than a year after its infamous deep freeze triggered massive blackouts, the Lone Star State is sweltering through a severe summer heat wave."

"The knowledge that the Greek and Roman sculpture was brightly painted isn't new. In one gallery, there's a watercolor of parts of the Acropolis when it was excavated in 1888 - it's clear that the architectural segments came out of the ground vibrantly colored. And in museums around the globe, hints of color remain on statues from antiquity."

"In order to rebuild, many locals need the economy to recover. Cogswell says the flooding was a crushing blow to their tourism industry, which Red Lodge almost completely relies on… Kristin Groener said the flooding split up the town between those who want to let tourists in to support the local economy and those who fear the presence of tourists may get in the way of rebuilding efforts. Ultimately, tourists have been welcomed back to give businesses a chance at survival."

"Increasingly, however, more people appear to be contracting the virus multiple times in relatively quick succession, as another omicron subvariant sweeps through the U.S… The BA.5 variant is now the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while it's hard to get an exact count — given how many people are taking rapid tests at home — there are indications that both reinfections and hospitalizations are increasing."

"A pharmaceutical company based in Paris, HRA Pharma, is seeking approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an over-the-counter birth control pill. The pill includes progestin only, not estrogen, and is known as a mini pill. If approved, it would be the first oral contraceptive available in the U.S. without a prescription."

"Federal health officials reminded U.S. pharmacies on Wednesday that they must comply with federal civil rights laws in the decisions they make about supplying and dispensing medicine. This comes after multiple news reports of pharmacists refusing to fill some prescriptions for medications used for abortion, after the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade." It's about fucking time. These laws about allowing doctors and pharmacists to refuse services based on their conscience are bullshit. If you have a problem doing the job, leave.

"The highly effective mRNA shots against COVID are the most cutting-edge vaccines against the disease. But so far private companies Pfizer and Moderna are the only ones that have succeeded in making them. And both companies have refused to share their patents and their manufacturing know-how. Now Neves and Ano Bom are determined to end the stranglehold."

"Remote work policies, implemented in the early days of the pandemic, have facilitated major steps forward, including increased workforce participation and still strong productivity levels, Cadigan said… But they have also resulted in a disconnect between employees and their teams, fueling phenomena such as the Great Resignation. That, in turn, has led to greater fluidity in the labor market, which, while fine in good times, could be risky ahead of a potential recession." What a load of crap. The main reason to return to the office is executive insecurity. Also, and I'm sure in 5 years there will be huge studies of this, promotion is less likely to happen if you're a remote worker. But to blame the Great Resignation on on working from home is a stretch. Would some people leave if they were forced back to the office. If they can find other remote work, yeah, probably. The major issue of remote work is communications, and the fight against remote work just highlights organizations total failure at communicating effectively.

"'We're seeing a shortage, or housing underproduction, in all corners of the U.S.,' says Mike Kingsella, the CEO of Up for Growth, which on Thursday released a study about the problem. The nonprofit research group is made up of affordable housing and industry groups… 'America's fallen 3.8 million homes short of meeting housing needs," he says. "And that's both rental housing and ownership.'"

"Eastern Ukraine continues to see intense assaults from Russian forces, according to the Ukrainian military, but the British Defense Ministry has questioned whether Russia has made any significant advances in the last 72 hours."

"U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed a joint pledge on Thursday to deny Iran nuclear arms, a show of unity by allies long divided over diplomacy with Tehran."

"Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Wednesday had a blunt message about stalled legislation that would address a critical shortage in semiconductor chips… 'The message is, time's up,' Raimondo said in an interview with CNN a few hours before traveling to Capitol Hill with top defense and intelligence officials to meet with lawmakers. 'It's time to make it happen.'"

"Delta Air Lines flew a flight packed with 1,000 pieces of stranded luggage — and no passengers — from London’s Heathrow Airport to the U.S. this week as this summer’s saga of airline struggles continues… Airbus A330-200 was flown to Detroit to return luggage to their owners Monday after a flight to the Michigan city was canceled the same day. The flight was axed "given airport passenger volume restrictions at Heathrow" and passengers were rebooked, according to the airline."

"Directly across the street from the Kansas Statehouse sits the brick home of Mater Dei Catholic Church… A large purple sign on the front of the church pleads for votes to change the Kansas Constitution that would open the way for an abortion ban… Across the state, other churches and clergy have taken very public positions in perhaps the most contentious issue dividing the state — and the country. They’re actively, even aggressively, backing what supporters call the “Value Them Both” state constitutional amendment."

"Then, today, less than 24 hours after Ohio's attorney general — an anti-abortion Republican — slammed the Indianapolis Star for first reporting the story, law enforcement officials in Franklin County, Ohio, arraigned a 27-year-old man in the rape of the girl. A municipal court judge set a bail of $2 million for Gerson Fuentes of Columbus, Ohio. Detective Jeffrey Huhn had testified that Fuentes confessed to raping the girl at least twice, according to a videotape of the proceedings reviewed by NPR." Our Attorney General couldn't do the basics of researching before saying the story of the 10-year old girl was fabricated. Because they know how damaging this story is. And it's so damning that even with confirmation of its veracity, conservatives are still moving forward to punish those involved on the side of the girl.

"Senators from both parties have reached an agreement to clarify that the vice president only has a ceremonial role in overseeing the certification of the electoral results, according to two Senate sources, the first legislative response to former President Donald Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 presidential election results."

"Lawmakers will question IRS head Charles Rettig on Thursday regarding a report from the New York Times last week that showed two former top FBI officials, who were critical of former President Donald Trump, had been audited by the agency in 2017 and 2019… Former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe led investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination with Trump's campaign. Both men were fired from their posts in 2017 and 2018, respectively." Totally not suspicious at all.

"Trump’s inner circle increasingly views Meadows as a likely fall guy for the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Members of Trump’s legal team are actively planning certain strategies around Meadows’ downfall — including possible criminal charges. Trump has himself begun the process of distancing himself from some of his onetime senior aide’s alleged actions around Jan. 6." Most times the rats leave the sinking ship on their own, sometime they're tossed overboard.

"A bill introduced Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives could help the 2030 census and other upcoming national head counts avoid the years of meddling by former President Donald Trump's administration that dogged the country's most recent tally… If it becomes law, the bill would put up additional roadblocks against any attempt by an administration to interfere with the next once-a-decade census, which is used to divvy up political representation and federal funding to communities across the U.S."

"Thursday's proceedings -- the last before Bannon's trial begins Monday -- may give his defense team a glimmer of hope in a case that the Justice Department has tried to keep as straightforward and succinct as possible, so far largely curtailing Bannon's ability to try to shift blame to his attorney or to advisories from Donald Trump's lawyer. While Bannon has tried to complicate the trial with claims of privilege and arguments of needing members of Congress as witnesses, prosecutors say they only need two or three government witnesses and a few days to prove their case."

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Linkee-poo Wednesday July 13

Sorry, still trying to get into the swing of this new situation, as well as having some internet issues.

"In big news for science fiction and fantasy publishing, DAW Books is no longer an independently owned publisher. This morning, Astra Publishing House announced its acquisition of the storied SFF imprint."

"As you may have already deduced, fact-checking is the skill that helps you distinguish between trustworthy and sketchy information sources. We live in a time in which everyone is a self-proclaimed authority on every topic, so navigating the ocean of “facts” is no easy task. That’s where fact-checking comes into play." An article on fact checking with some helpful hints. So just as a reminder, the information war is still ongoing and is about to ramp back up with the midterm elections and the coming general election in 2 years. (Grokked from Daisy Hartwell, the author of the article who sent an email)

"Reality TV producers have exhausted singers, dancers, drag artists, potters, tailors, and beautiful young people hoping to find love. Now, it seems, the spotlight has fallen on writers. This week, a call has appeared on social media for contestants to apply to be on the pilot of a new show called America’s Next Great Author (ANGA)." Thirty days to write the novel, while also competing in short term contests. So there's this thing about pedometers that people always say, "you need to walk 10,000 steps." It's complete bullshit and the 10,000 steps figure comes from an early Japanese walking club goal. No science behind it. I see this "30 days to a novel" the same way only the genesis spot is NaNoWriMo (not that they're connected to this in any way, it's just they set the goal and now that timeframe is lodged in the public psyche). I predict this will fail. Not because they won't try hard, but frankly watching writers write is only slightly more interesting than watching slime mold move along a branch. Sure, if you timelapse the thing it's great, but in real time not so much. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Fortunately, the worst didn’t happen. There are a few reasons why. To reduce demand, many Texans turned up the thermostat by a few degrees to help save power, and ERCOT’s emergency response program paid some large energy customers to scale back usage during peak times. And significantly, solar power, which has been the star of the Texas grid so far during this interminable summer, continued to set records for energy production. If your air conditioner has been steadily running all summer long, you can thank the mighty power of the sun." Funny how that works. (Grokked from Elizabeth Bear)

"In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, doctors say they're seeing a surge in the number of women who want to prevent future unintended pregnancies by getting their 'tubes tied.'… But a lot of patients fail to actually get this surgery, because an important window of opportunity — during hospitalization right after childbirth — is often missed." Reform Medicaid.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office says Denis Vladmirovich Molla, 29, is charged with two counts of wire fraud in connection with the fire that took place on September 23, 2020… Molla reported to police that someone set fire to his camper 'because it had a Trump 2020 flag displayed on it,' and spray painted the Antifa symbol, 'BLM' and 'Biden 2020' on his garage door. The U.S. Attorney's Office says Molla actually lit the fire and defaced the garage himself." So that leaves a question, has any of the supposed "left wing" vandalism stories turned out to be true?

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Linkee-poo Tuesday July 12

"NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has produced the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail… Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground."

"The LZ detector has been up and running since December 2021, and these first results represent its first 60 days of live operations. 'We're ready and everything's looking good,' Berkeley Lab senior physicist and past LZ spokesperson Kevin Lesko said in a statement. 'It's a complex detector with many parts to it and they are all functioning well within expectations.'"

"At least 10 heat records were broken in cities across the Southwest and central U.S. over the weekend, and more could fall this week amid continued forecasts of searing heat."

"Perrigo Company (PRGO.N) said on Monday its unit HRA Pharma has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a daily birth control pill for over-the-counter (OTC) sale, the first such request for this type of contraception. The application from the HRA comes on the back of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide."

"But this store, called Pantera, is different because of who runs it: a collective of street vendors who came together to create safer working conditions for themselvesThe store is celebrating its first anniversary this month."

"Americans are canceling deals to buy homes at the highest rate since the start of the Covid pandemic… The share of sale agreements on existing homes canceled in June was just under 15% of all homes that went under contract, according to a new report from Redfin. That is the highest share since early 2020, when homebuying paused immediately, albeit briefly. Cancelations were at about 11% one year ago."

"Elon Musk wants to break off his agreement to buy Twitter… In a letter to the company, filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk accuses Twitter of making "false and misleading representations" about the prevalence of fake accounts on its platform. He says the company has not complied with its obligations to share data and information that he says he needs to evaluate its business." Or, ya know, must is just a grandstanding asshole.

"As Uber aggressively pushed into markets around the world, the ride-sharing service lobbied political leaders to relax labor and taxi laws, used a 'kill switch' to thwart regulators and law enforcement, channeled money through Bermuda and other tax havens and considered portraying violence against its drivers as a way to gain public sympathy, according to a report released Sunday."

"Politicians have to run on some kind of platform, and Ben Moss—my incoming state House representative here in North Carolina's District 52—decided that his animating principle is Being Mad at Electricity. To prove his animosity toward this invisible menace, he's sponsoring House Bill 1049, which would allocate $50,000 to destroy free public car chargers. It contains some other enlightened ideas, but that's the main theme: We've simply got to do something about these free public chargers, even if it costs us $50,000! Those things cost tens of cents per hour, when they're being used." (Grokked from John)

"The Texas Freedom Caucus, a legislative caucus in the Texas House of Representatives, sent a threatening letter to a law firm with locations in Dallas and Houston that planned to reimburse travel costs for employees wanting an abortion… In the letter, which was addressed to Sidley Austin LLP, the 11 representatives of the caucus wrote that legislation will be introduced to impose civil and criminal sanctions on law firms that pay for abortion or abortion travel." I believe the proper response is, "We'll see you in court." Or maybe, "Thanks, Boston has been looking good for a while now."

"The Biden administration said Monday that federal law allows women access to abortion in emergencies, even in states that banned the procedure after last month's Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade… The Department of Health and Human Services said that in cases of health emergencies, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act — a 1985 law that ensures access to emergency care regardless of a person’s ability to pay — takes priority over state laws banning abortion." Well I'm glad they found something, although this puts healthcare providers and hospitals square in the middle.

"Brandy Bottone was driving in the HOV lane meant for at least two people per vehicle in Dallas, Texas, two weeks ago when she was pulled over by police. The officer noted there didn't seem to be anyone else in the car, but Bottone had a retort -- she was 34 weeks pregnant… Texas, like other states led by conservative officials, has pushed to restrict abortion and has defined a fetus or unborn baby as a 'person' in its penal code."

"The U.S. Army has suspended a former top spokesperson from a consulting position and put him under investigation after he posted a tweet appearing to mock Jill Biden over a recent comment by the first lady on the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade." Oh look, he's a 3 star asshole.

"The Justice Department revealed in an early Monday morning court filing that federal investigators interviewed former President Donald Trump's attorney Justin Clark two weeks ago in connection with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's criminal contempt case… Prosecutors say that Clark confirmed in the interview that at no point did Trump ever invoke executive privilege over Bannon's testimony -- and directly contradicted other claims made by Bannon's defense team in their case." And so, that would be perjury and another reason why Bannon is suddenly so cooperative. IANAL, but it would seem to me that if Bannon's excuse for defying the subpeona was "executive privildge" (which you still have to show up just like if you "take the fifth," but that's another story), but Trump never extended (or offered to extend, because the executive priviledge can only be claimed by the sitting president), contempt seems like a slam dunk.

"The House January 6 select committee is expected to make the case at its seventh hearing Tuesday that Donald Trump gave the signal to the extremist groups that stormed the Capitol to target and obstruct the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college win."

"Whether or not Donald Trump ends up facing criminal charges, the House committee probing the US Capitol insurrection has scored a critical win over the ex-President by thwarting his effort to cover up the true horror of that day of infamy… The committee takes center stage in Washington again this week with its Tuesday televised hearing amid indications it will seek to make a direct connection between Trump and the far-right extremists who helped rioters smash their way into the halls of Congress on January 6, 2021."

"The Secret Service confirmed Monday that it is aware of reports that the contents of Hunter Biden’s iCloud account were hacked over the weekend, exposing alleged texts, pictures, and videos of the president’s son doing drugs and engaging in other salacious and likely illegal activities."