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

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Linkee-poo Pre Solstice

"A 2,000-year-old Sri Lankan hydraulic system uses natural features to help harvest and store rainwater. In a rapidly warming world, it is providing a lifeline for rural communities." Again, our ancestors were not stupid.

"New Horizons is now nearly twice as far from the Sun as Pluto, the outer planets are receding fast, and interstellar space is illuminated by the vast swath of the Milky Way ahead. But the spacecraft’s research is far from over. Its instruments are all functioning and responsive, and the New Horizons team has been working hard, pushing the spacecraft’s capabilities to carry out new tasks."

"Doctors working for health insurers can rule on 10,000 or more requests for care a year. At least a dozen were hired by major insurance companies after being disciplined by state medical boards or making multiple or outsized malpractice payments." Sounds like a winning business plan.

"The nation’s largest pharmacy chains have handed over Americans’ prescription records to police and government investigators without a warrant, a congressional investigation found, raising concerns about threats to medical privacy." And yet, they can't tell a spouse anything about the other spouses prescriptions.

"More than 30 million older Americans are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, wooed by lower premiums and more benefits than traditional Medicare offers… But a bipartisan group of lawmakers is increasingly concerned that insurance companies are preying on seniors, and, in some cases, denying care that would otherwise be approved by traditional Medicare." Sure, let's privatize the our collective healthcare safety net. What's the worst that could happen?

"ProPublica’s Claim File Helper lets you customize a letter requesting the notes and documents your insurer used when deciding to deny you coverage. Get your claim file before submitting an appeal."

"General Mills Inc., a Kraft Heinz Co. unit, Kellogg Co., and Nestle SA for years likely overpaid for eggs because the nation’s largest producers and two trade groups conspired to restrict the supply, an Illinois federal jury decided on Tuesday." Greedflation.

"Some officers are still paid in cash, increasing the risk of tax evasion. And, several business owners and Minneapolis officials said some small business owners — particularly those owned by immigrants — have been led to believe they must hire MPD officers, or risk getting ghosted by police." Well there's a racket, and no mistake.

"The Russian military has suffered dramatic casualties on the battlefield since invading Ukraine in February 2022, according to newly declassified intelligence shared with Congress, a person familiar with the intelligence told NBC News… In the past 22 months, 315,000 Russian troops have been killed and wounded, according to the assessment provided to lawmakers. Prior to the invasion, Russia had a ground force strength of about 360,000."

"A Russian propaganda campaign involving thousands of fake accounts on TikTok spreading disinformation about the war in Ukraine has been uncovered by the BBC… Its videos routinely attract millions of views and have the apparent aim of undermining Western support."

"Israeli officials obtained Hamas’s battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out."

"An Ohio woman who had sought treatment at a hospital before suffering a miscarriage and passing her nonviable fetus in her bathroom now faces a criminal charge, her attorney told CNN… Brittany Watts, 33, of Warren, has been charged with felony abuse of a corpse, Trumbull County court records show." (Grokked from John)

"The children hid. They dropped to the floor, crouching under desks and countertops, far from the windows. They lined up against the walls, avoiding the elementary school doors that separated them from a mass shooter about a decade older than them. Some held up the blunted scissors that they often used to cut shapes as they prepared to fight. A few grabbed bloodied phones and dialed 911. And as students across the country have been instructed for years, they remained quiet, impossibly quiet. At times, they hushed classmates who screamed in agony from the bullets that tore through their small bodies… Then, they waited. Waited for the adults, whom they could hear in the hallway. If they were just patient, those adults would save them."

"A jury spent about five hours deliberating before convicting Kim Phuong Taylor on 52 counts of voter fraud in federal court Tuesday in Sioux City. Taylor faces up to five years in prison on each count. A sentencing date hasn’t been set." Oh look, real voter fraud! Oh wait, never mind, it's another Republican. Move along, nothing to see here.

"When the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade, it greenlighted the kind of near-universal abortion restrictions that Idaho lawmakers had spent the previous two years crafting. Gov. Brad Little said the state should turn to helping women who might otherwise have terminated pregnancies… But since the June 2022 decision, Idaho has failed to deliver — even as other conservative states with abortion bans took steps to enhance their safety nets for families during pregnancy and after birth."

"Since then, Trump has fixated on new bogeymen. Lately, he has found one in a mundane nonprofit designed to spot the very voter fraud Team Trump professes to hate. Until recently, 33 states and the District of Columbia — a mixture of solidly Republican, Democratic, and battleground states — used data from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to spot voting irregularities and to identify and reach voters who haven’t yet registered, a group that numbered 4.4 million people in 2022. ERIC has been employed in this way since 2012, without incident or controversy. But in Trump’s imagination, ERIC is the engine for election rigging."

"Trump has not spelled out precisely how he might use the military during a second term, although he and his advisers have suggested they would have wide latitude to call up units. While deploying the military regularly within the country's borders would be a departure from tradition, the former president already has signaled an aggressive agenda if he wins, from mass deportations to travel bans imposed on certain Muslim-majority countries." He's promising to overturn democracy.

"A binder containing highly classified information related to Russian election interference went missing at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, raising alarms among intelligence officials that some of the most closely guarded national security secrets from the US and its allies could be exposed, sources familiar with the matter told CNN… The binder was last seen at the White House during Trump’s final days in office." Totally normal.

There's also news that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that Trump can not be on the ballot due to the 14th Amendment barring those who commit insurection against the Constitution after swearing an oath to the same. The ruling has been stayed waiting on appeal to SCOTUS. Constitutional crisis here we come.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

What the hell happened to you

Sorry for the dearth of posts here. Between everything going on, my brain needed (and still needs) a break.

Almost all my creative production went off the rails earlier this year. I'm working back towards reordering my life. While the Linkee-poos are much easier than publishing my own content, they still aren't easy and take up a lot of time and headspace that I haven't had for a long time.

So, sorry, but not sorry.

This is a post to explain, appologize, and provide a kick in the ass to get back to doing what is necessary. There's still a metric ton of things in my personal life that need attending to, but I will try to post more often.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Linkee-poo Saturday Oct 14th

First, the important one, the On the Media series, "We Don't Talk About Leonard… the background of the man who has played a critical role in the conservative takeover of America's courts — Leonard Leo." Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. If I told you that throughout the episodes there wasn't the sound of an RPG launch playing over and over in the deep recesses of my brain, well, I'd be lying. The right screams about George Soros, and again, every acusation is a confession.

"As the latest Israel-Hamas war reaches its sixth day, the Israeli military pulverized the Gaza Strip with airstrikes, prepared for a possible ground invasion and said Thursday its complete siege would remain in place until the Hamas militants that rule the territory freed some 150 hostages taken during a grisly weekend incursion." The terrorist strikes to provoke an overwhelming response where the target government violates their own laws and norms.

"Four dozen Antarctic ice shelves have shrunk by at least 30% since 1997 and 28 of those have lost more than half of their ice in that time, reports a new study that surveyed these crucial “gatekeepers’’ between the frozen continent’s massive glaciers and open ocean." Place gif of Jack Nicholson as the Joker shouting, "We're gonna take them out a whole new door!"

"Workers are beginning the process of removing the famous Sycamore Gap tree trunk and crown from Hadrian's Wall, which was felled in late September in a shocking act of vandalism in northern England. The tree's stump will remain."

"High school students’ scores on the ACT college admissions test have dropped to their lowest in more than three decades, showing a lack of student preparedness for college-level coursework, according to the nonprofit organization that administers the test." Time to fire up the headlines of, "Why Johnny Can't Read." Let the handwringing begin.

"The American College of Emergency Physicians in a statement called the paper outdated and said the term excited delirium should not be used by members who testify in civil or criminal cases. The group’s directors voted on the matter Thursday in Philadelphia." It was always bullshit.

"Caroline Ellison had testified over the two previous days that Bankman-Fried directed her at several times over the years to pull money from FTX customer accounts to fund investments and trading strategies at Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency hedge fund, Alameda Research. Ellison was the CEO of Alameda when it and FTX collapsed in November of last year."

"Businesses and climate activists have been pushing to shape the SEC rules for months, because the stakes are high. The economy is awash in climate disclosures that companies tout, but there are few ways for customers and investors to gauge the validity of the claims. The SEC's goal is to ensure that publicly-traded corporations are reporting comparable information, and also to make sure they aren't misleading investors about their environmental activities — a practice known as greenwashing, Gary Gensler, chair of the SEC, told the House Financial Services Committee in September."

"Many consumers are no strangers to added and surprise fees, from buying airline tickets to renting a car or ordering takeout...These pesky charges are the target of new actions announced Wednesday by the Biden administration, which hopes to stamp out so-called 'junk fees' and make it easier for buyers to know what they're paying and why." Hell to the fuckin' yeah. Just two examples: we had a basic landline up until this year, it was $15 for the line, but with all the fees it was over $50 a month. Two, just bought tickets to a speaking event, the processing fee was a third of the ticket price (added on top) which wasn't disclosed until checkout.

"The FBI’s highly unusual search for buried Civil War-era treasure more than five years ago set in motion a dispute over what, if anything, the agency unearthed and an ongoing legal battle over key records. There’s so much intrigue that even a federal judge felt compelled to note in a ruling last week: 'The FBI may have found the gold — or maybe not.'"

"Nominated to be House speaker, Rep. Steve Scalise on Thursday ran straight into a familiar, intensifying Republican problem: Skeptical GOP colleagues are refusing to give their support, denying him the majority vote needed to win the gavel." The party of "anti-government" can govern you say? Weird. UPDATE: Scalise is out.

"Republicans have tapped Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to be their latest nominee for House speaker, one day after the conference's initial nominee, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, failed to consolidate party support." I'm sorry, GOP, you've already had a child abuser as speaker. Try and mix it up a little.

"U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was accused Thursday of conspiring to act as an agent of the Egyptian government in a new indictment that places the Democrat who had a key role in shaping U.S. policy in deeper legal trouble as he continues to ignore calls to resign." Time to go, Bob.

"Donald Trump obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in loans using financial statements that a court has since deemed fraudulent, a retired bank official testified Wednesday at the former president’s New York civil fraud trial."

"Donald Trump will be back in court next week for his New York civil fraud trial, a person familiar with the former president’s plans told The Associated Press on Thursday, setting up a potential face-to-face showdown with fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen, who is expected to testify."

And in case I didn't post it before, the On the Media Podcast short on "Why You Should Pay Attention to Trump's Civil Fraud Case."

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Linkee-poo Saturday Oct 7

So, what should we talk about?

"In a deadly surprise attack, Gaza militants infiltrated several Israeli towns and military camps and fired thousands of rockets from Gaza toward central and southern Israel. 'We are at war,' Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said." How's that plan to isolate Iran going, Benny?

Dick Butkus, and so it goes.

"After a summer of record-smashing heat, warming somehow got even worse in September as Earth set a new mark for how far above normal temperatures were, the European climate agency reported Thursday." We're boned.

It's impossible they say, well… "Within a few years of Méndez Galain receiving that phone call inviting him to become the national director of energy, he had achieved what he had set out to do. Uruguay's energy grid was powered almost exclusively by domestically created, renewable energy, and, adjusted for inflation, consumer prices had gone down. Today, there are more than 700 wind turbines installed across Uruguay's countryside."

"Starting in January, EV car shoppers won't have to wait until tax season to pocket the incentive, worth up to $7,500. Instead, the credit will be available as cash in hand on the day of purchase — and it'll be available regardless of the size of a customer's tax bill."

"GSK patented the adjuvant and took control of the supply of the ingredients in it. It accepted government and nonprofit funding to develop a TB vaccine using the adjuvant. But even though it isn’t carrying the vaccine to the finish line, it isn’t letting go of it entirely either, keeping a tight grip on that valuable ingredient."

"U.S. employers added 336,000 jobs in September, according to the Labor Department. That's about twice as many as forecasters were expecting." And somehow this is bad news.

"United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said Friday that Ford, General Motors and Stellantis will all avert an expansion of the UAW’s work stoppages at this time, suggesting the unprecedented strikes against all three could be nearing an end."

"Police identified the suspect as a radical 40-year-old Jewish American tourist and said initial questioning suggested he smashed the statues because he considered them 'to be idolatrous and contrary to the Torah.'"

"An American F-16 shot down an armed Turkish drone after it flew close to U.S. forces in northeast Syria and ignored warnings to stay away. Officials said it was the first time the U.S. has shot down an aircraft from Turkey, a NATO ally."

"In March 2020, Schmidt allegedly traveled to Hong Kong and then Beijing. While in the Chinese capital, he conducted several Google searches, including 'What Do Real Spies Do and How are they Recruited—Reddit,' as well as 'Espionage—Reddit.'" (shrug text art)

"Since taking office, Mr. Biden has tried to balance his stated desire for a more humane approach with strict enforcement that aides believe is critical to ensure that migrants do not believe the border is open to anyone"

"U.S. immigration authorities are restarting deportations to Venezuela, as the Biden administration tries to discourage migrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally... The U.S plans to resume repatriation flights directly to Venezuela immediately, the administration announced Thursday."

"But his quiet neighborhood is now in an unwelcome national spotlight. For weeks in Texas, conservative media and GOP activists have been pushing unsubstantiated claims that Colony Ridge has become a magnet for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and that cartels control pockets of the neighborhood." You must be carefully taught.

Today in "duh" news... "A year ago, Kentucky came up with a creative solution that is already paying dividends… The state made all child care employees eligible for free child care, regardless of household income."

"A New Mexico judge on Friday upheld the state's congressional map as constitutional following a trial over whether the Democratic-controlled Legislature illegally drew the boundaries in 2021… Judge Fred Van Soelen found there was clear evidence that Democratic lawmakers intentionally tried to dilute the votes of the state Republican Party and other plaintiffs when they moved conservative voters out of the 2nd Congressional District and moved Democratic-aligned voters in." Some gerrymandering is allowable, but RedState took it to an extreme.

"North Carolina’s legislature is now exempt from the public records law that governs other branches of government. The change is a last-minute addition to the state budget, and it comes alongside a major expansion of the legislature’s ability to seize documents from state agencies and private contractors."

"Secrecy was a hallmark of the 13 federal executions during the last six months of Trump’s presidency. Although reporters were allowed to witness them, it was impossible to know at the time what was happening behind the scenes... Fresh details have emerged since the executions, including from Dershowitz, who spoke recently to The Associated Press. The fuller picture reveals that officials cut corners and relied on a pliant Supreme Court to get the executions done, even when some — including Trump himself, in Bernard’s case — agreed that there might be valid reasons not to proceed with them all."

"Experts at national defense laboratories haven’t been able to physically validate the effectiveness and reliability of nuclear warheads since a 1992 underground test ban. But Energy Department officials announced Thursday they’re on the verge of piecing together the technology needed to do the next best thing."

"The ex-treasurer for US congressman George Santos pleaded guilty Thursday to a fraud conspiracy charge and implicated the indicted New York Republican in a scheme to embellish his campaign finance reports with a fake loan and fake donors." That's the sound of nails going into the coffin.

"House speaker candidates have pulled out of a planned joint interview on Fox News next week just hours after it was announced amid fierce blowback from GOP lawmakers, the latest sign of how simmering tensions within the conference are boiling over as Republicans scramble to find a new leader following Kevin McCarthy’s stunning ouster."

"Russ Buettner is a reporter on the New York Times Investigation Desk, the team that hunted down Trump’s tax returns and other elusive financial documents, in an effort to understand how exactly the former president got his money and how he lost so much of it. For the midweek podcast, (On the Media) correspondent Micah Loewinger called Russ to learn about what Trump’s history of fraud means for his future, the revelations of the trial so far, and what details have gotten lost in the deluge of coverage."

"Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial will roll ahead next week after the former president lost a bid Friday to halt the proceedings while he fights a pretrial ruling that could strip him of Trump Tower and other marquee properties."

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Linkee-poo Wednesday Sept 27

"Judge Arthur Engoron, ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, found that the former president and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing." Fucked around, finding out.

"With just days to go before the government runs out of money, the Senate has unveiled a bipartisan stopgap bill in a bid to avert a shutdown – but there’s no guarantee that it will be able to pass in the House as a bloc of conservatives rail against the prospect of a short-term funding extension."

"On average, during an El Nino winter, the northern U.S. sees warmer than average temperatures, as the polar jet stream stays north and keeps the cold air in Canada.... Meanwhile, the South is wetter than normal due to the active subtropical jet that is fueled by warm, moist air from the Pacific Ocean."

"'The discovery (of carbon from the subsurface ocean) signals a potentially habitable environment in the ocean of Europa,' according to the Webb telescope's website." Attempt no landings there.

"After traveling billions of miles for seven years to touch an asteroid and bring some of it home, NASA's Osiris-REx mission has finally delivered a precious sample to Earth."

"There are times in life when the challenges we face feel insurmountable. Authors succumb to writer’s block. Athletes and artists hit a plateau. People of a certain age fall into a midlife crisis. These are all different ways of saying: I’m stuck. This week, in the kickoff to our annual You 2.0 series, psychologist Adam Alter shares his research on why we all get stuck at various points in our lives, and how to break free."

"Some archaeologists describe Peru’s capital as an onion with many layers of history, others consider it a box of surprises. That’s what some gas line workers got when their digging uncovered eight pre-Inca funeral bales."

"The British Museum has asked the public to help identify and recover ancient artefacts that have gone missing from its collection… Last month a member of staff was sacked and police launched an investigation after around 2,000 treasures were reported 'missing, stolen or damaged' over a 'significant' period of time."

"Starting Monday, September 25, the federal government will send up to four free COVID-19 rapid tests per household to anyone who requests them."

"In June 2021, more than a decade after the first reports, Philips announced a recall of millions of machines that had been delivered to nearly every corner of the United States and dozens of other countries. The company acknowledged that the foam it had chosen could crumble in heat and humidity and send potentially 'toxic and carcinogenic' material into the noses, mouths, throats and lungs of users." Full disclosure, I used a Phillips Respironics device that was recalled. Motherfuckers.

"Research on the therapeutic use of psychedelics is underway at several universities, and data continues to accumulate on how they may help with conditions from PTSD to depression... And there's increasing interest in that work from a group of professionals who already guide people through life's deep and difficult times: chaplains."

"Surgeons have transplanted a pig’s heart into a dying man in a bid to prolong his life – only the second patient to ever undergo such an experimental feat. Two days later, the man was cracking jokes and able to sit in a chair, Maryland doctors said Friday."

"She's one of many people taking Ozempic and related drugs who describe mental health problems. But that side effect isn't mentioned in Ozempic's instructions for use, or drug label. Are the problems a coincidence or related to the drug?"

"The 67-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, could not afford to see a dentist on the $1,300-a-month his family gets in Social Security and disability payments. So he waited for the state to roll out a program this year that offers dental care to the more than 650,000 Medicaid recipients like him who are 21 and older. Tennessee is spending about $75 million annually on the program."

In our name... "Phillips and Chester Deanes disagree. The men who grew up at the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex are now leading the charge seeking compensation and further health studies that could determine whether the secretive testing contributed to various illnesses or premature deaths that some Pruitt-Igoe residents later suffered."

"The 148-day Hollywood writers strike will end just after 12:01 a.m. PT on Wednesday, thanks to a new three-year deal the Writers Guild of America made with major Hollywood studios."

"Amazon Prime Video unveiled plans to introduce advertisements during shows and movies starting early next year — becoming the latest streaming service to embrace ads to keep its business growing." Motherfuckers. Enshittification at it's finest.

"Retailers have long complained the so-called 'swipe fees' they have to pay for accepting credit cards in the U.S. are much higher than those in Europe, where the fees are strictly regulated." And here's the kicker not mentioned in the story, the fees are higher if the card is not swiped, but you have to enter the info by hand.

"The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating Atlantic Red Crab and Workforce Unlimited for possible violations of child labor, overtime pay, and anti-retaliation laws, according to documents obtained by The Public’s Radio. The Labor Department is also investigating Sea Watch International, a Maryland-based clam processor that has a plant in New Bedford."

"The United Auto Workers union is expanding its strike against GM and Stellantis but said that progress in negotiations with Ford means it won’t expand the number of Ford workers on the picket lines."

"On paper, maybe the Detroit Three can afford to pay workers more and shareholders less. But nobody is asking their competitors to do that, and some of those competitors already enjoy advantages. The Detroit automakers aren’t the titans they used to be, and they’re not the titans the UAW seems to think they are, either." What a suckup. Seriously, "they don't have to, we shouldn't" isn't a business argument. Didn't your momma teach you that just because everyone is jumping off a bridge that you don't have to?

"SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s refusal to allow Ukraine to use Starlink internet services to launch a surprise attack on Russian forces in Crimea last September has raised questions as to whether the U.S. military needs to be more explicit in future contracts that services or products it purchases could be used in war, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said Monday."

"Ukraine struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in a missile attack that left the main building in flames and a serviceman missing, according to military officials."

"Pope Francis blasted the 'fanaticism of indifference' that greets migrants seeking a better life in Europe, as he arrived Friday in the Mediterranean port of Marseille amid a new influx of would-be refugees from Africa that has sparked a backlash from some of Europe’s increasingly anti-migrant leaders."

"The speaker of Canada’s parliament has resigned after inviting a Ukrainian Nazi veteran to attend a special session of parliament, and then calling the man a 'hero' amid two standing ovations." Oopsie.

"A military judge at Guantanamo Bay has ruled one of the 9/11 defendants unfit for trial after a military medical panel found that the man’s sustained abuse in CIA custody years earlier has rendered him lastingly psychotic." Just another reason why you don't torture. There will be no justice for this.

"The community is facing growing pains again, 80 years later, as Los Alamos National Laboratory takes part in the nation’s most ambitious nuclear weapons effort since World War II. The mission calls for modernizing the arsenal with droves of new workers producing plutonium cores — key components for nuclear weapons."

"Federally subsidized crop insurance made record-high payouts last year. While climate change is making farming more risky, the federal program often shields producers at taxpayer expense. Some argue it’s time that the fast-growing program encourages farmers to mitigate their risks." Or, ya know, we could fucking work on halting climate change.

"Residents who survived the wildfire that leveled the Hawaii town of Lahaina might not be able to afford to live there after it is rebuilt unless officials alter the zoning laws and make other changes, economists warned Friday."

"Six years after two stained-glass windows that honored Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson were taken down, the Washington National Cathedral has unveiled the pair of windows that are taking their place... The windows, titled 'Now and Forever,' were created by artist Kerry James Marshall and center around racial justice. The images show a group of protesters marching in different directions and holding up large signs that read 'Fairness' and 'No Foul Play.'"

"An Oklahoma judge was arrested in Austin, Texas, last week after authorities say he opened fire on parked vehicles while out driving, striking at least one of them, and intentionally crashed into a woman’s vehicle, telling officers later that she had cut him off."

"Today on The Sunday Story, NPR's Daniel Estrin talks about his four-year investigation into the 2019 U.S. raid against ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Pentagon says its deadly airstrikes did not hit civilians. But Estrin's investigation challenges that account. Now the Pentagon says it will review new information brought to light about the incident."

"The FBI said Friday it has opened a civil rights investigation into allegations in recent lawsuits that police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, assaulted drug suspects they detained in an obscure warehouse known as the 'Brave Cave.'" How about "police should not have black sites" and we prosecute those who set them up and those who used them?

"New conflict of interest allegations have surfaced about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas… In a lengthy article published on Friday, ProPublica reports that Thomas over the years has maintained a close relationship with the Koch network, one of the largest and most influential political organizations in the country, and that the justice, on at least two occasions, spoke at fundraising events for the conservative organization." Oh, is it another week so soon?

"There's a lot for lawmakers to be stressed about these days, from the looming threat of a government shutdown to debates over additional funding for Ukraine. But one of the most divisive issues on Capitol Hill suddenly seems to be what senators can wear to work... Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer directed the Senate's sergeant-at-arms to stop enforcing its unwritten dress code — only for its 100 members — starting this week." :: clutches pearls, falls onto conveniently waiting couch ::

"For weeks, Democratic and Republican senators have been watching the House with growing alarm as Speaker Kevin McCarthy has struggled to cobble together the votes to pass a short-term spending bill along party lines – all as he has resisted calls to cut a deal with Democrats to keep the government open until a longer-term deal can be reached. The initial plan: Let McCarthy get the votes to pass a bill first before the Senate changes it and sends it back to the House for a final round of votes and negotiations." Not so fast, although I believe the rules allow the Senate to initiate a CR, they cannot initiate budget or appropriation bills. Those must originate in the House.

"The White House on Friday directed federal agencies to get ready for a shutdown after House Republicans left town for the weekend with no viable plan to keep the government funded and avert politically and economically costly disruption of federal services."

"While Republicans on the campaign trail and in Congress regularly bash the law — which Biden signed a year ago Wednesday — as big-government overreach by Democrats bent on killing off fossil fuels, its benefits are disproportionately landing in their communities. And as the measure supercharges efforts to combat climate change, it’s also rekindling economies where people have felt forgotten, potentially softening how some voters view Biden as he seeks reelection."

"The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to block enforcement of an Alabama voting rights decision that the high court issued just months ago… In June, the court ruled that Alabama's Republican-drawn congressional map violated the Voting Rights Act because, in a state with seven congressional districts and a 27% Black population, the GOP-dominated legislature had created just one congressional district in which Black voters are either a majority or close to it."

"X, the company formerly known as Twitter, has removed the ability for people to report a tweet for containing misleading information just weeks before a referendum on an Indigenous voice to parliament in Australia… Since 2021, users on X in countries including the US, Australia and South Korea had been able to flag tweets that they believed contained misleading information for review by staff at the company – separate to other processes the company has in place to report abuse or hate speech." And now you know why Musk and his consortium of investors overpaid for Twitter.

"More than 15,000 people in Arizona have registered to join a new political party floating a possible bipartisan 'unity ticket' against Joe Biden and Donald Trump."

"The Colorado judge overseeing the first significant lawsuit to bar former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 presidential ballot on Friday issued a protective order prohibiting threats and intimidation in the case, saying the safety of those involved — including herself and her staff — was necessary as the groundbreaking litigation moves forward."

"A lawyer for Donald Trump on Friday accused New York Attorney General Letitia James of ignoring 'everything' as she pursues a civil lawsuit alleging that the former president ran a systematic fraud at his family business." No, sir. She's just ignoring you and your frivolous claims.

You know how conservatives like to say, "well, what about all the corruption on the Left" when they fail to address blatant corruption in their caucus? "A federal grand jury in New York has returned a sweeping indictment against United States Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, in connection with improper foreign relations and business dealings... The investigation focused on a luxury car, gold bars and an apartment allegedly received by Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian. His wife was also indicted." There was also a lot of coverage over "Dems aren't asking Menendez to resign" in the first few days. More and more are coming out saying he should go.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Linkee-poo Tuesday Sept 19

"Poison ivy is poised to be one of the big winners in this global, human-caused phenomenon. Scientists expect the dreaded three-leafed vine will take full advantage of warmer temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to grow faster and bigger — and become even more toxic." Great.

"After manufacturing crystals of an HIV drug in space, the first orbital factory is stuck in orbit after being denied reentry back to Earth due to safety concerns." Note that the article makes it sound like the reentry vehicle is being denied because of it's cargo, where as the denial sounds like "you didn't fill in these boxes correctly."

"In its 33-page report, an independent team commissioned by NASA cautioned that the negative perception surrounding UFOs poses an obstacle to collecting data. But officials said NASA’s involvement should help reduce the stigma around what it calls UAPs, or unidentified anomalous phenomena." Where's the fun in that?

"In addition, the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks address gaps in the World Heritage List identified by the World Heritage Committee. Specifically, a lack of sites representing pre-contact Indigenous American sacred architecture and sites that represent early understandings of science, culture and astronomy." I've visited a number of these, and yes, they are worthy of world heritage status.

"Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone magazine, is facing criticism for saying that Black and female musicians were not "articulate" enough to be included in his new book, which features seven interviews with white, male rock 'n' roll icons." Watch as the spiritual hand of Sister Rosetta Tharpe reaches out from beyond the grave to bitchslap this asshole.

"But that’s if the concept works. And players in the industry are betting big even as rivals wobble and fail. California-based Plenty Unlimited this summer broke ground on a $300 million facility, while Kroger announced that it will be expanding its availability of vertically farmed produce. Meanwhile, two indoor farming companies that attracted strong startup money — New Jersey’s AeroFarms and Kentucky’s AppHarvest — filed for bankruptcy reorganization. And a five-year-old company in Detroit, Planted Detroit, shut its doors this summer, with the CEO citing financial problems just months after touting plans to open a second farm."

"The same Ohio river valley where the Wright brothers pioneered human flight will soon be manufacturing cutting-edge electric planes that take off and land vertically, under an agreement announced Monday between the state and Joby Aviation Inc." I'm sure it's about "tradition" and not taking advantage of a part of the state that still hasn't climbed out of the 2001 recession.

"Darryl George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, was initially suspended the same week his state outlawed racial discrimination based on hairstyles. School officials said his dreadlocks fell below his eyebrows and ear lobes and violated the district’s dress code." Do we have to fight this again?

"On one side are United Auto Workers members, who say record corporate profits should yield a record contract... 'We went backwards roughly $10 an hour in wages over the last six years,' UAW President Shawn Fain told NPR. 'At the same time, in the last decade, these companies have made a quarter-trillion dollars in profits.'... On the other are the Big Three automakers — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis — which say they have put historically generous offers on the table, while also emphasizing that there are limits." Can't have the workers expecting to share in ALL the profits of their labors, now can we.

"The program, known as the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, partners with nonprofit groups to provide HIV/AIDS medication to millions around the world. It strengthens local and national health care systems, cares for children orphaned by AIDS and provides job training for people at risk… Now, a few Republican lawmakers are endangering the stability of the program, which officials say has saved 25 million lives in 55 countries from Ukraine to Brazil to Indonesia. That includes the lives of 5.5 million infants born HIV-free."

"The Italian government approved new measures to crack down on migration Monday, after the southern island of Lampedusa was again overwhelmed by a wave of arrivals setting off from Tunisia and the migration issue returned to center stage in Europe with talk of a naval blockade." Here we go again.

"Canada expelled a top Indian diplomat Monday as it investigates what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called credible allegations that India's government may have had links to the assassination in Canada of a Sikh activist."

"Five Americans who have been held in Iran for years are on their way to the United States in return for Iranians released from U.S. custody and Tehran's access to $6 billion in frozen oil revenues, according to a senior U.S. official."

"SpaceX, Musk’s space-exploration company, had for months been providing Internet access across Ukraine, allowing the country’s forces to plan attacks and to defend themselves. But, in recent days, the forces had found their connectivity severed as they entered territory contested by Russia. More alarmingly, SpaceX had recently given the Pentagon an ultimatum: if it didn’t assume the cost of providing service in Ukraine, which the company calculated at some four hundred million dollars annually, it would cut off access."

"A debris field has been identified as the remains of an F-35 fighter jet that went missing Sunday north of Charleston, S.C., officials said." Oh good, you mean this crash won't be an opportunity for our competition to gather pieces for their own study.

"A complaint filed Monday alleges that Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita violated professional conduct rules in statements he made about a doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim last year."

"But it’s the (NC) Republican Party that is making the decisions in the state, thanks to recent seat gains in the legislature and aggressive stances from GOP lawmakers. It has passed voting changes over Democrats’ objections and this week could vote to wrest power from the governor over how the state’s elections are run."

"Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted Saturday in an impeachment trial before the state Senate. He was accused of abusing his office to protect a political donor."

This week in "there's no there there"… "When Republicans took power in the House of Representatives, they began trying to find evidence to make the case that President Biden had profited from the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden… They have not found that evidence, and struggled to bring public focus to their investigation — that is, until this week, when it was given the imprimatur of impeachment."

"The speaker is trying to convince his Republican conference that there will heavy political fallout from a shutdown as he plows toward a vote to pass a stopgap measure, called a continuing resolution, that would keep government offices open past the Sept. 30 deadline. GOP leadership is preparing for a vote by Thursday, but McCarthy is warning he’ll keep House lawmakers in Washington into the weekend. Regardless, many are already bracing for a weeks-long shutdown." The clowns are back in town.

"'We have to be truthful, not neutral,' (Christiane Amanpour) urged. 'I would make sure that you don’t just give a platform … to those who want to crash down the constitution and democracy.'... It’s an important call to action. But so far, the American press is failing to meet its responsibility to adequately emphasize the stakes of the coming election." Here we are now, entertain us. Considering this is coming from Margaret Sullivan, you know, maybe we should listen.

"Alabama is once again appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower court ruling that found the state's map of congressional election districts likely violates the Voting Rights Act by weakening Black voters' power."

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Linkee-poo Saturday Sept 16

"The good news is that Hurricane Lee is weakening and will keep doing so before making landfall near the U.S.-Canada border. The bad news is that it will bring dangerous winds and a massive amount of water to areas that are already saturated from heavy rainfall this summer."

"The death toll in Libya's coastal city of Derna has soared to 11,300 as search efforts continue following a massive flood fed by the breaching of two dams in heavy rains, the Libyan Red Crescent said Thursday"

"Earth’s climate, biodiversity, land, freshwater, nutrient pollution and “novel” chemicals (human-made compounds like microplastics and nuclear waste) are all out of whack, a group of international scientists said in Wednesday’s journal Science Advances. Only the acidity of the oceans, the health of the air and the ozone layer are within the boundaries considered safe, and both ocean and air pollution are heading in the wrong direction, the study said."

"Executives at ExxonMobil continued in recent years to raise doubts internally about the dangers of climate change and the need to cut back on oil and gas use, even though the company had previously conceded publicly that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal." Someone, somewhere, is sharpening a guillotine blade, slowly and deliberately.

"The luxury cruise ship MV Ocean Explorer was successfully pulled free on Thursday, three days after running aground in Greenland with 206 people on board, authorities and the ship's owner said."

"A typical vaccine teaches the human immune system to recognize a virus or bacteria as an enemy that should be attacked. The new “inverse vaccine” does just the opposite: it removes the immune system’s memory of one molecule. While such immune memory erasure would be unwanted for infectious diseases, it can stop autoimmune reactions like those seen in multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or Crohn’s disease, in which the immune system attacks a person’s healthy tissues." Of course, it's still in the "some day soon" stages.

"The Southern Indian state of Kerala is now battling another deadly outbreak of the Nipah virus, its fourth since 2018. Authorities were alerted to the outbreak after two deaths attributed to the virus."

"The mixture of stimulants like cocaine and meth with highly potent synthetic opioids is a fast-growing driver of fatal overdoses in the U.S… Since 2010, overdoses involving both stimulants and fentanyl have increased 50-fold, and now account for 32% of U.S. overdoses in 2021 and nearly 35,000 deaths, according to a study published Thursday in the scientific journal Addiction."

"The psychedelic drug MDMA can reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, researchers reported in a new study published Thursday."

"It’s been a favorite topic among some of the GOP’s top presidential contenders. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters that people are 'lurching toward' COVID-19 restrictions and 'there needs to be pushback.' South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott posted online that the 'radical Left' seeks to bring back school closures and mandates. And former President Donald Trump urged congressional Republicans to stop the Biden administration from bringing back COVID-19 'mandates, lockdowns or restrictions of any kind.'"

"The Big Three CEOs saw their pay increase by 40% over the last four years, while our pay only went up by 6%," UAW President Shawn Fain said at a news conference last week… As of Tuesday, the UAW is proposing an approximately 40% compounded wage increase over the course of a four-year contract, a tad lower than its opening bid of 46%."

Why we can have nice things part somewhere in the thousands. "It's rare for a government policy to have an immediate and measurable impact on an individual or large portion of the population. But experts say the monthly payments to low-income families with children were doing just that… After the expanded credit took effect, child poverty hit a historic low of 5.2% a year ago. New Census data shows it has since rocketed to 12.4%."

"The survey of 1,568 adults between 18 and 34 found that young people are optimistic about their futures and envision becoming more successful than their parents. But they express more negativity when thinking about the effect the government and political system will have on their lives in the coming decades."

"The Biden administration said Thursday that Egypt’s poor human rights record hasn’t improved, but it won’t withhold as much military aid as it did last year regardless. Administration officials cited what they said were overriding U.S. national security interests for the decision to limit the extent they would penalize Egypt for the abuses." It's like the 80s all over.

Why we can't have nice things, part whatever… "Fifty years ago in Chile, the United States worked to end the presidency of an elected Marxist and, in turn, helped usher in an authoritarian right-wing dictatorship." This is also why when I heard the CIA was directing the drone war and controlling a large contingent of Special Forces I wrote a lot of emails. It's why the CIA had a fence places around it.

"A federal jury has awarded $100,000 to a same-sex couple who sued a former county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue them a marriage license, claiming that doing so would violate her religious beliefs." But then to the second couple that sued, they awarded nothing.

"In bodycam footage released this week, a Seattle Police officer is heard making callous comments about a young woman who died after she was struck in a crosswalk by an officer responding to a call." Yeah, I don't buy their cover story.

"New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday narrowed an order that broadly suspended the right to carry firearms in and around Albuquerque to apply only to public parks and playgrounds where children and their families gather."

"The immigrant population in the U.S. is growing again… The number of people born somewhere else climbed by nearly a million last year, reaching a record high of just over 46 million, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau."

"A year ago, 49 migrants arrived unexpectedly on Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy island community off the Massachusetts coast. Immigration advocates called it a cruel political stunt, but it has surprisingly created a legal advantage that some of the migrants might be able to use to remain in the United States."

"A tearful Eric Molitor gave hugs to supporters in an Antrim County courtroom Friday, where a jury acquitted him and two other men who were accused of aiding in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer." Note that most of the accused are going to jail.

"The U.S. government has warned a Virginia judge that allowing an American Marine to keep an Afghan war orphan risks violating international law and could be viewed around the world as 'endorsing an act of international child abduction,' according to secret court records reviewed by The Associated Press."

"The defense team for suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton rested its case late Thursday afternoon after witnesses refuted allegations that the three-term elected official abused his office and committed bribery to benefit a real estate developer and campaign donor."

"The Ohio Attorney General’s Office again rejected petition language Thursday for a constitutional amendment aimed at remaking the state’s troubled system for drawing political maps, frustrating the effort’s backers."

"Alex Jones' personal spending is frustrating families who are trying to collect on the $1.5 billion in judgments against him for calling the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting a hoax... His total personal expenses for July topped $93,000, up from nearly $75,000 in April, not including legal fees and other costs for his court cases, according to bankruptcy filings." Time for the Marshalls to get involved.

"U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was escorted out of a Denver theater on Sunday night after several people seated near her in the audience complained she was creating a disturbance." Yes, it's petty, but I never said I wasn't. It's also to show how some people don't think they are more equal than others.

"Hunter Biden has been indicted on felony gun charges weeks after a plea deal struck between President Biden's son and prosecutors fell apart. The charges possibly set the stage for yet another high-profile criminal trial in the middle of the 2024 election as President Biden is seeking reelection." Note the preplanted concept of, "if he's not indicted for other things, that shows Pres Biden is protecting him."

"Hard-line Republicans have spent the week explicitly tying McCarthy's political fate to the spending fight in a chaotic push for further control. The dynamic has ground the House to a standstill, just weeks before the deadline to fund the government or shut down."

"Hundreds of rioters have been charged, convicted and sentenced for joining the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. Unlike their cases, Samuel Lazar’s appears to have been resolved in secret — kept under seal with no explanation, even after his release from prison." Pretty sure he's providing testimony in another case.

"Federal prosecutors are seeking an order that would prevent Donald Trump from making 'inflammatory' and 'intimidating' comments about witnesses, lawyers and other people involved in the criminal case charging the former president with scheming to overturn the 2020 presidential election." Good luck with that.

"Former President Donald Trump has 'no idea' whether Republicans will vote to impeach President Joe Biden... But he does have a theory on what motivated House Republicans to launch a Biden impeachment inquiry: revenge... 'They did it to me,' Trump told former Fox and NBC host Megyn Kelly during an hourlong interview on SiriusXM radio that aired Thursday. 'And had they not done it to me, I think, and nobody officially said this, but I think had they not done it to me … perhaps you wouldn’t have it being done to them.'" Saying the quite part out loud again.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Linkee-poo Saturday Sept 9

"Lee is expected to keep strengthening and reach winds of up to 180 mph (290 kph). Only seven Atlantic hurricanes have had winds of that magnitude since 1966, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. Among those was Hurricane Dorian, which pummeled the northern Bahamas in 2019 as a Category 5 storm, hovering over small islands for some two days."

"Archeologists in Norway discovered an arrow shaft that appears to be from the Stone Age, meaning it is approximately 4,000 years old… The discovery was made on the side of Mount Lauvhøe, which stands at just over 6,500 feet in Norway's Lom Municipality. Archeologists had found arrows from the Iron and Middle ages when they last surveyed the area in 2017. However, this arrow shaft was found after ice at the site melted away in recent years, according to Lars Holger Pilø, co-director Secrets of the Ice, part of Norway's Department of Cultural Heritage."

"Now, more recent sites in (Turkey's) southeast are yielding finds that archaeologists say may change modern understanding of this part of the world's past, moving the footprint of pre-Roman activity in the area farther east than was previously believed."

"Texas’ power grid manager on Thursday again asked residents to cut their electricity use as the state endures another stretch of sizzling summer heat. The request carried fresh urgency, coming the day after the system was pushed to the brink of outages for the first time since a deadly winter blackout in 2021."

"Two Chinese construction workers looking for a shortcut last month destroyed part of the country's Great Wall by driving heavy machinery through it, authorities say." Oopsie.

"Japan launched a rocket Thursday carrying an X-ray telescope that will explore the origins of the universe as well as a small lunar lander."

"The Biden administration is canceling the only seven oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The leases were originally issued by the Trump administration over the protests of environmentalists and some Alaska Native groups who argue the region should be protected as a critical wildlife habitat." It's a mixed bag, really.

"A federal judge has found that a Trump-era rule change that allowed for the logging of old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest violates several laws."

"The last wild Atlantic salmon that return to U.S. rivers have had their most productive year in more than a decade, raising hopes they may be weathering myriad ecological threats."

"Heavy rains and thick mud stranded thousands at this year's Burning Man music and arts festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. But some who were caught in the mix said learning to roll with the mayhem is part of the experience."

"The Biden administration last year promised to establish minimum staffing levels for the nation's roughly 15,000 nursing homes. It was the centerpiece of an agenda to overhaul an industry the government said was rife with substandard care and failures to follow federal quality rules." At the hospital we see a lot of elderly patients and I can say for a fact that their care in nursing homes is far, far below adequate (although better than it was in the 80s). I am really glad we were able to get my mother into a reputable facility.

"Scientists have produced the first data indicating that a variant that has raised alarm is unlikely to pose a big new COVID-19 threat… Four preliminary laboratory studies released over the weekend found that antibodies from previous infections and vaccinations appear capable of neutralizing the variant, known as BA.2.86."

"The 2018 Farm bill removed hemp as a controlled substance, so long as it has less than .3 percent Delta 9 THC. That's the active ingredient in marijuana that produces intoxicating effects… After that law, the market found new ways to make hemp mimic marijuana."

"The IRS announced on Friday it is launching an effort to aggressively pursue 1,600 millionaires and 75 large business partnerships that owe hundreds of millions of dollars in past due taxes." Good.

"UAW, which represents 150,000 workers at General Motors, Stellantis and Ford, is not alone in asking for big pay raises over the course of their contract. In recent months, workers across industries have fought for — and, in a handful of cases, won — around 50% wage increases over the next four to five years, as they call out years of stagnant wages and robust company profits." What's not noted in here is that in the 90s and 00s the unions accepted tiered pay systems that payed new workers less. I certainly hope these contracts are rolling those provisions back as well.

Why can't they resolve this Hollywood strike? "Studios like Warner Bros. and Disney are on the other end of the negotiating table — a table they last shared with negotiators from WGA on Aug. 18. They have not negotiated with SAG-AFTRA yet." Oh, that's why.

"One of the demands that actors and screenwriters are making in trying to renegotiate their contracts with Hollywood studios is greater residual payments, and several people in the entertainment industry have come forward to share what those residual checks look like." Entertainment accounting is the most creative in the world. Like, it should win awards.

"From an early model of the iconic alien mothership from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' to a complete Stormtrooper costume from 'Star Wars,' bidding opens Friday on thousands of pieces Hollywood model maker Greg Jein collected over his lifetime, including many he created during his nearly half-century career."

"Why does every social media platform seem to get worse over time? This week’s On the Media explores an expansive theory on how we lost a better version of the internet, and the systems that insulate Big Digital from competition. Plus, some solutions for fixing the world wide web." The full "enshittification" conversation. Highly recommend.

On the previous podcast Core Doctorow goes on to admire Lena Khan. "In March 2021, when President Joe Biden announced the nomination of Lina Khan to be a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, the decision was met with a rare kind of excitement for the otherwise sleepy agency. The excitement seemed bipartisan as 21 Republican senators voted to confirm the commissioner. Not long after, then 32-year-old Khan was promoted to chairperson of the agency, making her the youngest chair in the FTC's history. Since then the tone around Khan has changed dramatically, as Republican commissioners at the agency have pushed back against what they see as a radical agenda. Back in March, OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger spoke to Emily Birnbaum, technology and lobbying reporter for Bloomberg, about a growing anti-antitrust movement emerging in the press and in Washington, and why Khan has become its main target." The consider it a radical agenda because Lena Khan made her splash by writing a rebuttal to Bork's revision of anti-trust laws. So she it putting the FTC back to work and enforcing the laws as they were intended. That, of course, upsets many conservatives.

"To lose service entirely is rare. But the withdrawal of legacy airlines from regional airports is a growing phenomenon… American, Delta and United combined have left 74 regional airports since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study by aviation consulting firm Ailevon Pacific." Ah, I see we are going to have to learn this lesson again.

How goes the war? "Cuba says it has disrupted a scheme in Russia to recruit Cuban citizens to fight in Ukraine… In a statement, Cuba's Foreign Ministry called the alleged plan a human trafficking ring. It said Cubans, both in Russia and on the island, had been recruited to fight in Russia's war against Ukraine."

"A retired teacher in Saudi Arabia was recently sentenced to death for his tweets criticizing the country's leadership to his handful of followers, according to rights advocates and his family." And now you know why the crowned prince of SA holds so much equity in X (aka Twitter).

"Alabama is once again appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower court ruling that found the state's map of congressional election districts likely violates the Voting Rights Act by weakening Black voters' power… The extraordinary move comes after a panel of three federal judges struck down Alabama's latest congressional redistricting plan for not following their court order to comply with the landmark civil rights law." Just as a reminder, Ohio also does not have an approved map.

"A federal judge in Texas has ruled that a controversial floating border barrier in the Rio Grande River violates federal law and must be removed… U.S. District Judge David Ezra ruled that the 1,000-foot-long string of large buoys and saw blades in Eagle Pass, Texas, was ordered deployed by Gov. Greg Abbott without proper federal authorization."

"Lawmakers return this week with one pressing challenge this month — avoiding a potential government shutdown… The Senate is back Tuesday to sort out the next steps on crafting a short-term funding bill that can pass before federal agencies run out of money on Sept. 30. But talk of the health of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., following another episode when he froze at a press conference last week, will also dominate Capitol Hill." Is it September already?

"Trump White House official Peter Navarro was found guilty Thursday of contempt of Congress charges for refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol."

"Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito says he will not recuse himself from a major tax case. His statement, attached to a Supreme Court orders list on Friday, came after Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to the chief justice in August, urging that steps be taken to assure that Alito not take part in the tax case." But if he recuses himself, how is he going to accept the grift with a good conscience?

"Prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga., say they expect that a trial in their election interference case would last four months — not including jury selection — and they'd expect to call more than 150 witnesses."

"The nine-page report showed jurors recommended charges against 39 people, compared to the 18 who were charged along with former President Donald Trump. The names of those not indicted included Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn."

"Enrique Tarrio, the former national chairman of the Proud Boys, has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol." Good.

"Concern for U.S. democracy amid deep national polarization has prompted the entities supporting 13 presidential libraries dating back to Herbert Hoover to call for a recommitment to the country’s bedrock principles, including the rule of law and respecting a diversity of beliefs."

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Linkee-poo Wednesday Aug 30

"Hurricane Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach, Fla., on Wednesday morning as a Category 3 storm. Georgia and South Carolina could see heavy wind and flooding as the storm moves east."

Yeah, I know, I've missed a lot of stuff.

Bob Barker, and Sam Wurzelbacker (aka Joe the Plumber), and so it goes.

"Humans have always created. But historian Samuel W. Franklin argues that 'creativity' didn't become a social value until the Cold War. Today, we're at another inflection point for humanity, technology, and national identity. The meaning of originality is blurring; there are legal disputes about what constitutes original art; and AI can write a song like your favorite artist in seconds. So what does it mean to put creativity on a pedestal? And what would it look like to tear it down?" The Throughline podcast with an interesting topic, at least to me. I disagree somewhat with some of the definitions and assumptions they make here, but overall a good episode. Yes, at a reductive level, nothing is new (eventually it all comes down to atoms and energy which have been here since a little after the Big Bang). But as someone who has put things out into culture and is both tickled and enraged (like when it's pirated) when it comes back, I know what it is to create something new.

"People are freaking out over a question mark seen in space. Scientists can explain." But nobody is listening.

"The US Copyright Office is opening a public comment period around AI and copyright issues beginning August 30th as the agency figures out how to approach the subject… As announced in the Federal Register, the agency wants to answer three main questions: how AI models should use copyrighted data in training; whether AI-generated material can be copyrighted even without a human involved; and how copyright liability would work with AI. It also wants comments around AI possibly violating publicity rights but noted these are not technically copyright issues. The Copyright Office said if AI does mimic voices, likenesses, or art styles, it may impact state-mandated rules around publicity and unfair competition laws… Written comments are due on October 18th, and replies must be submitted to the Copyright Office by November 15th." So here's the US Copyright Office's page on AI., the page with their notice which outlines the questions they are seeking comment on. To submit your comment, click the "comment" button under the title.

"An ancient Christian mosaic bearing an early reference to Jesus as God is at the center of a controversy that has riled archaeologists: Should the centuries-old decorated floor, which is near what’s believed to be the site of the prophesied Armageddon, be uprooted and loaned to a U.S. museum that has been criticized for past acquisition practices?"

"New material provides clean water and electricity using nothing but the Sun." I've heard these claims before. Hopefully this is more than vapor ware, because we really need moisture farmers in some parts of the world.

"After a disaster happens, it could take days before first responders are able to reach people. And it's usually friends or neighbors in your community who can get to each other first… Lea Crager, FEMA's Ready Campaign Director, says there are still steps you can take to prepare yourself for situations where your access to medical assistance is limited." As demonstrated last week in NE Ohio.

"The Biden administration released its list of the first 10 drugs that Medicare will target for price cuts – reductions the government plans to achieve by negotiating the prices with drugmakers." And guess who is not happy.

"As President Joe Biden touts the first 10 drugs subject to Medicare price talks, Republicans are searching for their own message that would resonate with voters on the downsides of his signature domestic achievement... Piggybacking on the pharmaceutical industry’s strategy, Republicans are working to persuade Americans that the Biden plan will stifle innovation and lead to price controls, several strategists say." Just in case you needed reminding who was on which side here.

Our wonderful US Healthcare system, the envy of the world… "Imagine if each time your wages were deposited in your bank account, your employer deducted a fee of 1.5% to 5% to provide the money electronically. That, increasingly, is what health insurers are imposing on doctors. Many insurers, after whittling down physicians' reimbursements, now take an additional cut if the doctor prefers — as almost all do — to receive funds electronically rather than via a paper check." I wonder how much it would cost to have a physical check cut? "With more than $2 trillion a year of medical claims paid electronically, these fees likely add up to billions of dollars that could be spent on care but instead are going to insurers and middlemen."

"Children who lived closer to natural gas wells in heavily drilled western Pennsylvania were more likely to develop a relatively rare form of cancer, and nearby residents of all ages had an increased chance of severe asthma reactions, researchers said in reports released Tuesday evening."

Businesses posted far fewer open jobs in July and the number of Americans quitting their jobs fell sharply for the second straight month, clear signs that the labor market is cooling in a way that could reduce inflation."

"Target reported Wednesday that the backlash over its LGBTQ+ merchandise before and during Pride month in June took a bite from its sales. This comes on the heels of Bud Light's parent company also reporting substantial losses in U.S. sales and profits due to similar reaction to a marketing campaign… The moment is leading executives to wonder about the benefits of supporting social causes during a time of such polarization in the country." Or, and just hear me out here, it was because of your hesitation to support your decisions, and the eventual rollback of the position. My guess is this wasn't so much a result of the conservative screaming (if so, it would be one of the first instances they actually moved the needle), but a reaction from the LGBTQ+ community when they walked back their support.

Canada, citing the risk of potential dangers, is advising LGBTQ travelers planning trips to the United States to check how they might be affected by recently passed laws in some states, Ottawa said Tuesday." Really, Canada? I thought we were friends. But seriously, how fucked up do you have to be that Canada says, "hey, wait, you might want to rethink your vacation plans."

Nashville Rep. Justin Jones was silenced on the Tennessee House floor after he was ruled out of order on Monday... The House voted that he was speaking “off the bill,” which put him out of order for a second time, and — per the new rules in place for the special session — meant he would not be recognized to speak on the chamber floor for the rest of the day." Racists gonna racist.

"All it takes to render the technology-packed self-driving car inoperable is a traffic cone. If all goes according to plan, it will stay there, frozen, until someone comes and removes it… An anonymous activist group called Safe Street Rebel is responsible for this so-called coning incident and dozens of others over the past few months. The group's goal is to incapacitate the driverless cars roaming San Francisco's streets as a protest against the city being used as a testing ground for this emerging technology."

"Over the past year, the Inflation Reduction Act has spurred nearly $280 billion in new investments across the country. The vast majority of those investments have flowed into Republican-held districts, according to numbers compiled by advocacy group Climate Power." You know, the districts whose representatives voted against the bill.

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was booed and heckled on Sunday while attending a prayer vigil in Jacksonville for the three victims killed in what authorities say was a racially motivated attack at a local Dollar General." Faith in humanity restored.

In our name… "These findings are all part of a trove of more than 1,600 pages of previously secret inspection reports written by experts hired by the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. In examining more than two dozen facilities across 16 states from 2017 to 2019, these expert inspectors found 'negligent' medical care (including mental health care), 'unsafe and filthy' conditions, racist abuse of detainees, inappropriate pepper-spraying of mentally ill detainees and other problems that, in some cases, contributed to detainee deaths… These reports almost never become public."

"Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a filing Tuesday reiterated her desire for all 19 defendants charged in her Georgia election interference case to stand trial together, telling the judge that her office 'maintains its position that severance is improper at this juncture and that all Defendants should be tried together…' The development came on the same day that the judge overseeing the hearing over former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' request to move his case from state court into federal court requested "limited additional briefing" before he renders a decision on the matter."

"Jenna Ellis, a conservative media figure and former attorney for Donald Trump, is crowdfunding her defense fees after being indicted along with the former president and 17 others earlier this week." Actually a lot of them are. Grifters gonna grift.

Look, actual voter fraud. An Alabama legislator was arrested Tuesday on felony voter fraud charges accusing him of voting in a district where he did not live. Oops, another Republican. Never mind. Move along.