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

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Linkee-poo Wednesday Feb 22 Late night edition

"A monster winter storm took aim at the Upper Midwest on Tuesday, threatening to bring blizzard conditions, bitterly cold temperatures and 2 feet of snow in a three-day onslaught that could affect more than 40 million Americans."

"New editions of legendary works by British author Roald Dahl are being edited to remove words that could be deemed offensive to some readers, according to the late writer's company." Ugh. Okay, well, they do have the right to change the works. And yes, some of that language could be deemed "offensive." But while I applaud the effort to be more inclusive and aware of other people's feelings, these books have been in print for a long time. An introductory warning and apology would have sufficed here, but I'm not in the categories that have been offended. I can't help but think this isn't really about doing "what is right", but is more about continued income. Not to mention that they have just created a whole class of "rare" books (the "uncorrected" versions printed before now) that could be lucrative to some.

"The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that it would take control of the cleanup of a Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio earlier this month that released hazardous chemicals into the environment… Under the legally binding order, Norfolk Southern must identify and clean up contaminated soil and water resources, pay for the costs of work performed by the EPA and reimburse the agency for additional cleaning services offered to residents and businesses." It's great to have a government that works for us again.

"EPA says it can fine Norfolk Southern $70,000 a day if it falls short of cleaning up and paying for the Ohio toxic train wreck."

"But reporting by NPR found a broad consensus among drug policy experts that strategies now being put forward are unrealistic and won't keep fentanyl off American streets." We've had almost 50 years with the War on Drugs. It has barely made a dent, and it never will because it was never meant to. The only real solution to the problem would be to spend the money being spent on supporting people before they get into drugs, and having a robust treatment and rehab system. Until you make a dent in the demand, you'll never end the war on trying to stop the supply.

"One big reason people want to ditch their commutes: they can save money. They found this out during the pandemic, of course. In 2019, just 6% of Americans worked primarily from home in 2019. By the end of 2020, that number had increased to more than 33.3%. An Upwork study in September of that year found the average American had saved $2,000 by ditching their commute. LendingTree weighed in with a study that found that remote work led to debt reductions of approximately $9,117 for the average American. Meanwhile, 60% of millennial and adult Gen Z respondents to a Bankrate survey that year said that working from home was financially beneficial." But wait, the commute is "not bad." At least, this is what the article wants you to believe. As a veteran of decades of long commutes, using them as a buffer zone between work and home is a good idea. There's another branch of though that tries to make that time "productive." Ignore that bullshit.

"Results from a new pilot program at dozens of employers in the United Kingdom showed major benefits to workers' health and productivity when their hours were reduced — and a vast majority of firms plan to stick with the condensed schedule… Advocates say the results help validate the idea that it's possible for companies to shorten the workweek to 32 hours with no reduction in pay while maintaining previous levels of work output." Huhn, imagine that. Of course it will be imported to the US (which also ran a study back in the Obama administration IIRC which came to the same conclusion), but they will most definitely miss that part about "no reduction in pay."

"The Supreme Court is weighing Wednesday whether Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be sued over a 2017 Islamic State group attack on a Turkish nightclub based on the argument the platforms assisted in fueling the growth of the terrorist organization."

"Speaking to a joint session of the Russian parliament and Kremlin officials, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented the war in Ukraine as an existential struggle against the West, while announcing he was suspending Russia's participation in the last remaining arms control treaty with the U.S." Fuck around and find out, Vlad. (Waves to my Russian friends, also, guys, you do know he's insane now, right, it's not safe for you anymore.)v "Speaking from Warsaw, Poland, Biden boasted of how the west had responded to the aggression from Moscow and said leaders must continue to stand up for freedom and democracy… 'When Russia invaded, it wasn't just Ukraine being tested. The whole world faced a test for the ages. Europe was being tested,' Biden said from the gardens of the Royal Castle."

"American and allied sanctions and export controls are constraining Russia’s ability to wage war on Ukraine by degrading its military, a top Treasury Department official said Tuesday, adding that more sanctions will be imposed on the Kremlin in the coming days." War is economy and logistics.

"President Joe Biden swept unannounced into Ukraine on Monday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a defiant display of Western solidarity with a country still fighting what he called “a brutal and unjust war” days before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion."

"And oh goddamn were both the Russians and Republicans mad about it… The symbolism of Biden's visit to war-torn Ukraine wasn't lost on the enemies of America." Jim Wright on the current conflict (which is more than just Ukraine resisting Russia).

"A handful of congressional Republicans met Tuesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a signal of continued U.S. support even as hard-right members of the party vow to block future aid to the embattled country." A day late and a dollar short, as they say.

"A maintenance worker was killed and 13 were sent to hospitals with injuries after an explosion and large fire at a metal plant outside of Cleveland, Ohio… Emergency crews responded to I. Schumann & Co. in Bedford, Ohio, around 2:20 p.m. on Monday. The cause of the explosion is still unclear, but photos shared on social media and in local news reports showed debris scattered for hundreds of yards, damaged vehicles and a plume of smoke visible for miles."

"A former Proud Boys member who pleaded guilty to plotting with group leaders to violently stop the transfer of presidential power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden told jurors Tuesday that he viewed their far-right extremist organization as 'the tip of the spear' after the 2020 election."

"President Biden is seeing his highest approval ratings in almost a year, while former President Donald Trump, who is hoping to take the job back, is getting his worst scores among potential Republican voters in years, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll." Polls about an election that is almost 2 years away are essentially meaningless (except to pollsters who will chart the fluctuations and declare "movement"). But it's nice to see this.

"The former attorney general of Arizona, Mark Brnovich, failed to release documents that showed his office’s investigation into the 2020 election did not find evidence of widespread fraud in the state’s most populous county."

"In remarks that appeared to have been made at a Project Veritas' office, (James) O'Keefe said the board had stripped him of all decision-making. The move comes after the board reportedly put him on leave from his role as chairman amid complaints about his treatment of staff at the organization, which is known for using hidden cameras and hiding identities to try to ensnare journalists in embarrassing conversations and to reveal supposed liberal bias." Apparently he was a real asshole and was stealing money. Who could have seen that coming?

"Roger Bergman, the sole incumbent Republican commissioner the group failed to oust, had attended one of those forums last year, and as he sat in the audience, he grew concerned. But even Bergman, who at 76 has decades in local politics, wasn’t sure what it would all mean when it came time for a new, far-right majority to actually govern… That is, until they took office last month, and havoc broke out."

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Linkee-poo Sunday Feb 19th

Raquel Welch, and so it goes.

"'After a series of short hospital stays, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter today decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention,' the Carter Center said in a statement on Saturday." Thank you, Mr. President.

"In Senegal, rising seas have led to devastating coastal erosion. If there is a war against climate change, the UNESCO World Heritage city of Saint-Louis is on the front lines. And the ocean is winning."

"Concerned that such harvesting was harming lobster populations, Indonesia’s fishing ministry in 2016 prohibited the export of the tiny crustaceans. Shortly after taking office, Prabowo lifted the ban. Court documents show that just a month later, in June of 2020, the minister accepted a $77,000 bribe from a seafood supplier to grant it a permit to sell the hatchlings abroad."

"Thanks to a planet-wide collaboration, scientists have released an image of the Milky Way that contains 3.32 billion individually identifiable objects, most of which are stars." And the zoomable image is here. (Grokked from Dan)

"Residents forced to evacuate the Ohio village of East Palestine began trickling home after being told Wednesday that hundreds of air samples showed no dangerous levels of toxins following the controlled release and burn of five tankers that were among nearly 50 cars that derailed last Friday."

"Health and environmental concerns are mounting in East Palestine, Ohio, after several derailed train cars released toxic fumes last week… The evacuation order was lifted on Wednesday and since then, there have been a growing number of reports about people experiencing a burning sensation in their eyes, animals falling ill and a strong odor lingering in the town."

"The president of Norfolk Southern made a visit to East Palestine, Ohio, on Saturday following criticism from residents and political leaders about the company’s response to the fiery derailment of a freight train carrying toxic materials earlier this month."

"Folklore customs dating back centuries are suddenly cool with a new generation keen to connect with the planet and defy the establishment." Punk to be folk? (Grokked from Deborah Beal, I think)

"Citizens for Responsible Solar seems to be a well-mobilized 'national effort to foment local opposition to renewable energy,' Burger adds. 'What that reflects is the unfortunate politicization of climate change, the politicization of energy, and, unfortunately, the political nature of the energy transition, which is really just a necessary response to an environmental reality.'" Why we can't have good things.

"A Nevada company that recycles batteries for electric vehicles has won a $2 billion green energy loan from the Biden administration."

"Adolescent girls across the country are facing record levels of violence, sadness and despair, according to new survey data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning and other non-heterosexual identities also experience high levels of violence and distress, the survey found." The kids are not alright.

"'Instead of using artificial materials for building drones, we can use the dead birds and re-engineer them as a drone,' New Mexico Tech mechanical engineer Mostafa Hassanalian told New Scientist. Video demo below." (Grokked from Dan)

"After several rounds of treatment for a rare eye cancer — weekly drug infusions that could cost nearly $50,000 each — Paul Davis learned Medicare had abruptly stopped paying the bills… That left Davis, a retired physician in Findlay, Ohio, contemplating a horrific choice: risk saddling his family with huge medical debt, if he had to pay those bills from the hospital out-of-pocket, or halt treatments that help keep him alive."

"The World Health Organization convened an emergency meeting earlier this week, just a day after Equatorial Guinea, in West Africa, confirmed its first-ever outbreak of the highly lethal Marburg virus disease… The WHO emergency meeting on February 14 was to discuss whether to test one of several Marburg vaccines and treatments in development during this outbreak."

"Inflation cooled in January for the seventh month in a row… But there's a cautionary sign: While the 12-month price increase was slightly lower, prices surged between December and January, suggesting inflation is still far from tamed."

"When Adidas cut ties with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, over the rapper's antisemitic remarks, the sportswear giant quickly had another problem on its hands: what to do with all of its merchandise associated with Ye, branded as Yeezy."

"A Wisconsin-based company that provides workers to clean food processing plants paid a $1.5 million fine for illegally putting 102 children to work in dangerous jobs at meatpacking facilities, including those in Kansas and Nebraska… Packers Sanitation Services paid the maximum civil penalty allowed under the Fair Labor Standards Act to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) after an investigation found children working overnight shifts at 13 meatpacking plants in eight different states."

"The amount of grain leaving Ukraine has dropped even as a U.N.-brokered deal works to keep food flowing to developing nations, with inspections of ships falling to half what they were four months ago and a backlog of vessels growing as Russia’s invasion nears the one-year mark."

"The United States has determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine, Vice President Kamala Harris said Saturday, insisting that 'justice must be served' to the perpetrators."

"Our commitment to AP African American Studies is unwavering. This will be the most rigorous, cohesive immersion that high school students have ever had in this discipline. Many more students than ever before will go on to deepen their knowledge in African American Studies programs in college." The College Board changes direction.

"Late last fall, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Amelia Ferrell Knisely reported one story after another about allegations that people with disabilities were abused in facilities run by the state… The state agency Knisely was covering demanded that one of her key stories be fully retracted. While her coverage remains on West Virginia Public Broadcasting's website, Knisely is gone. She says she was told the decision came from the station's chief executive."

"Fox News hosts repeatedly singled out the election-tech company Dominion Voting Systems for 'rigging' the election and 'flipping' votes from Trump to Democratic nominee Joe Biden without evidence to back up the claims. Yet internal communications and private messages show the network's talent and executives agreed that claims were 'ludicrous' and 'bs.'"

"Long seen as a fringe viewpoint, Christian nationalism now has a foothold in American politics, particularly in the Republican Party — according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution… Researchers found that more than half of Republicans believe the country should be a strictly Christian nation, either adhering to the ideals of Christian nationalism (21%) or sympathizing with those views (33%)."

"The Spotlight was a very widely read 'conservative' periodical back in the 70s and 80s. It was a few clicks to the right of National Review, but almost certainly had a larger circulation. In 1980 it had about 310K subscribers. National Review was probably about 1/3 of that." The whackaloons started early, and as this twitter thread describes, there was once guardrails to keep it from overtaking the face of the Republican party. No longer. (Grokked for Eric)

"Florida has become sort of an epicenter for right-wing and far-right forces. The populist political agenda of Governor Ron DeSantis plays with some far-right tropes, while far-right figures like Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro have found refuge in the state. On the ground, extremist groups are looking to capitalize on the moment. Some have been using high-powered projectors to cast hateful images and messages onto buildings, which recently prompted Jacksonville City Council to make it illegal for anyone to project messages onto buildings without the owner's consent."

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Linkee-poo Saturday Feb 11

"Scientifically known as Palaeoloxodon antiquus, the towering animals were the largest land mammals of the Pleistocene, standing more than 13 feet (4 meters) high. Despite this imposing size, the now-extinct straight-tusked elephants were routinely hunted and systematically butchered for their meat by Neanderthals, according to a new study of the remains of 70 of the animals found at a site in central Germany known as Neumark-Nord, near the city of Halle."

"The bright pink bird won supporters beyond New York City as people hoped the young king pigeon, dubbed Flamingo, would survive its ordeal of being dyed with chemicals and then released into the wild… But it was not to be: The Wild Bird Fund rescue group said on Tuesday that Flamingo died roughly a week after a rescuer found him in Manhattan's Madison Square Park."

"The proposed rule involves a section of the federal law that offers exceptions to its broad prohibitions on harming species listed as endangered or threatened. It allows 'taking' — killing — individual plants or animals for scientific purposes, or to preserve a species through steps such as establishing new populations."

"'Killer whale mothers pay a really huge cost to take care of their sons,' says Weiss. That cost is that they have fewer offspring. 'And they do this throughout their son's life and never really stop paying that cost to keep their sons alive.'"

"Mysterious Russian satellites are now breaking apart in low-Earth orbit… 'This suggests to me that perhaps these events are the result of a design error.'" Hey Ivan, stop leaving your trash all over the place.

"An uncrewed Russian spacecraft docked at the International Space Station has lost cabin pressure, but the incident does not pose a danger to the station's crew, the Russian space corporation said on Saturday."

"President Joe Biden sparked a firestorm in energy circles when he said in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that the United States will need oil 'for at least another decade.'"

Jason Sanford's long awaited article on the AI "revolution"…
"I choose to be optimistic about all this. As Maurice Broaddus recently told me, 'The market has always been horrible for writers and artists. But the way it's been terrible changes over time. What we do as writers and artists is we adapt. We change. We thrive." So many thoughts that it could take several books to explain them all. In general I agree with much of Jason's reporting here and his extrapolation. There are some missing aspects here (which is unsurprising, again, this is a subject that could take an Encyclopedia Britanica amount of space and still not cover everything). Humans are making the same mistakes we've always made, mostly in thinking "this is New!" What we are experiencing is the start of another industrial revolution. Most people are familiar with the 2 recognized periods of this, steam and electricity, but there have been thousands of smaller revolutions. And just like the mass manufacturing brought about by the electrical revolution in the late 1800's spawned the Art Nouveau and "craft" response, they where then subsumed into Art Deco, and finally Modernism and Brutalism. In graphic design I've seen two of these (desktop publishing and mass market digital photography) and benefited from a third (computerization). Publishing has recently gone through the revolution that self-publishing brought. So let me jump ahead in the timeline here. We're currently at the stage of Salon and the Salon des Refusés. The Salon will steadfastly resist the changes brought, decry the "loss of creativity, style, craftsmanship, and importance of the individual" and in twenty years the Salon des Refusés will have become the standard Salon, against which there will be a new revolt and the cycle will continue. These machine learning tools are crappy, but they'll get better. They will appeal because of their "democratization" and (more importantly) low cost. There will be a valiant struggle against adoption, the cry of the civilized against the decadence and crassness. There will be the class who see's the opportunities provided by the new tools and will learn to use them. Eventually the tools will be adopted wholesale and the general public will never understand what the big deal was anyway while accepting lower grade output as the height of what is possible. While the factories producing buggy whips have crumbled into dust there is a still a dedicated workforce that cranks them out as a cottage industry and sells into specialty markets (the Amish for instance). As the middle of the old joke goes, "Any technology created before you're 30 is exciting and new and you can probably make a living with it." And us olds will go to our grave and take the knowledge of what was the standards of quality at one time with us, and the young people will shake their heads at our delusions.

"Google’s much-hyped new AI chatbot tool Bard, which has yet to be released to the public, is already being called out for an inaccurate response it produced in a demo this week… In the demo, which was posted by Google on Twitter, a user asks Bard: 'What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about?' Bard responds with a series of bullet points, including one that reads: 'JWST took the very first pictures of a planet outside of our own solar system.'" Garbage in, garbage out.

"First out of the gate among big tech companies with a publicly accessible search chatbot, Microsoft executives said this week they had been hard at work on the project since last summer. But the excitement around ChatGPT brought new urgency." Skynet's greatest power, it seems, is its ability to lie to us.

"Employees showed Musk internal data regarding engagement with his account along with a Google Trends chart. Last April, they told him, Musk was at “peak” popularity in search rankings, indicated by a score of '100.' Today, he’s at a score of nine… 'You’re fired, you’re fired,' Musk told the engineer." The "stable genius" at work.

A great twitter thread about the possibility of H5N1 becoming a major threat. Unfortunately the author doesn't seem to have factored in the anti-tax/anti-science brigade and how broken the health system is after COVID into her calculations. But it's a good rundown on the state of where we are vis-a-vis this virus.v "But 17 months before her three-day ordeal, Tennova had outsourced its emergency rooms to American Physician Partners, a medical staffing company owned by private equity investors. APP employs fewer doctors in its ERs as one of its cost-saving initiatives to increase earnings… This staffing strategy has permeated hospitals, and particularly emergency rooms, that seek to reduce their top expense: physician labor. While diagnosing and treating patients was once doctors' domain, they are increasingly being replaced by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, collectively known as 'midlevel practitioners,' who can perform many of the same duties and generate much of the same revenue for less than half the pay." And it's not just doctors, and it's not just ERs. Lean does not work in service industries, and the creators of that business model specifically called out healthcare as a place their philosophies would never work (and should never be tried).

"During that three-week wait – a wait they had to endure only because of the Ohio law – the risk to Beth of potentially deadly complications grew. Their ability to try to have another baby was delayed, and their 'agony' couldn’t end, Beth said." (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"The Walt Disney Co. announced plans Wednesday to cut about 4% of its entire workforce. That means layoffs for 7,000 employees… The company's stock increased immediately after the announcement, which was expected."

"The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) decreased to 6.18% from 6.19%, with points falling to 0.64 from 0.65 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. That rate was 3.83% the same week one year ago."

"At a camp for displaced people inside the municipal stadium in downtown Gaziantep, in southeast Turkey, families devastated by this week's magnitude 7.8 earthquake say they are struggling to survive. In a camp set up by Turkey's disaster relief arm, and in makeshift settlements in the fields around it, survivors of the quake say they do not have enough food, water, heating or basic amenities to keep themselves alive."

"Australia's Defense Department will remove surveillance cameras made by Chinese Communist Party-linked companies from its buildings, the government said Thursday after the U.S. and Britain made similar moves." Here's the thing, you can check the equipment to see where it may be sending data. You can monitor its traffic. You can examine the electronics. But this sounds like mostly it's over the fear that the Chinese government may have installed a Trojan Horse.

"Miller worries about China as a rising threat to the U.S., but questioned how much intelligence could be gained from a balloon. China’s bigger threat, he said, is to the U.S. economy. Like many throughout the country, Miller wonders if stricter laws are needed to bar farmland sales to foreign nationals so power over agriculture and the food supply doesn’t end up in the wrong hands."

"Ramzan Kadyrov, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has begun rattling off threats about attacking Poland after Ukraine… Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, suggested Monday that Russia should 'denazify and demilitarize' Poland next." It's always one more thing.

"The Biden administration on Tuesday approved a $10 billion arms sale to NATO ally Poland as Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine rages… The State Department notified Congress that the sale comprises mid-range, mobile HIMARS artillery rocket systems, associated ammunition and related equipment." And the arms buildup begins.

"The president of SpaceX revealed the company has taken active steps to prevent Ukrainian forces from using the critical Starlink satellite technology with Ukrainian drones that are a key component of their fight against Russia." Wow, that's some pretty quick retconning. And the CEO of Starlink saying she didn't even know Starlink could be used for military comms and directing drones? Is everybody in the top echelon of Elon's companies as dumb as he is?

"An internal investigation by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, obtained by The Associated Press via a public records request Wednesday, concluded that Executive Director Steve Marks and five other agency officials had diverted sought-after bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-old whiskey, for their personal use."

"A reporter was pushed to the ground, handcuffed and arrested for trespassing while covering a news conference about the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in Ohio."

"The Cardinal Local Schools Board of Education on Wednesday announced it will allow the play (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) to proceed, a little over two weeks after it made the controversial decision to cancel the production because it was deemed 'vulgar' and not 'family-friendly.'" The culture wars comes to Middlefield, Ohio.

"One of Tennessee’s most influential Republican lawmakers says the state should stop accepting the nearly $1.8 billion of federal K-12 education dollars that help provide support for low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities." It's easy when your a sociopath and don't give a damn about the poor and people with disabilities.

"A Missouri man who sought to ban several LGBTQ books from schools for depicting sexual content is now facing a felony charge of second-degree child molestation… Accusations against Utterback, according to court documents, describe separate instances in 2020 in which he allegedly touched a 12-year-old girl under her clothes and rubbed a teenager’s leg underneath her jeans. Another case alleged in 2021 that he showed pornographic video footage to a child starting from when she was around 4 years old." Another case in the "every allegation is a confession" group.

"Former Twitter officials denied claims the U.S. government and Joe Biden's presidential campaign were involved in the social network's controversial, short-lived decision to block users from sharing a New York Post story about Biden's son Hunter just weeks before the 2020 election."

"Republicans are living in a reality distortion field… That is the only conclusion that can be drawn from Wednesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill where GOP lawmakers continued to push a factually unsupported narrative about the federal government secretly colluding with Twitter to censor the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020."

"Fewer than five months after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration flew about 50 migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Mass. – a move that ended up costing the state around $1.5 million and is the subject of legal challenges – the Republican supermajority in the legislature has granted the administration another $10 million to transport migrants from other states."

"After four years of punishing the people of Florida with actions largely meant to increase his personal power, Governor Ron DeSantis appears to be bringing his corrosive brand of politics to a presidential run. But DeSantis only looks like an even remotely reasonable or centrist candidate when viewed in a line-up between his gubernatorial predecessor Rick Scott and ex-U.S. catastrophe Donald Trump. That he sits comfortably between the two, accompanied by a host of extremists, should be cause for alarm, not suggestions that he is anything other than an authoritarian."

"But there are reasons why the narrative that Republicans want to cut Social Security and Medicare sticks. Look at recent history — President George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security, former House Speaker Paul Ryan's budget proposed sweeping changes to Medicare, and even though former President Trump largely tabled serious talk of entitlement cuts, his budget did call for cuts to some aspects of Social Security and Medicaid."

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Linkee-poo Wednesday Feb 8

"Residents of East Palestine in northeast Ohio (were) asked to evacuate, as officials fear the cars of a train that derailed nearby might explode or release toxic gases… Gov. Mike DeWine issued an evacuation order on Sunday evening for people living within a mile of the train derailment. According to DeWine, a majority of residents left prior to the evacuation notice, but at least 500 people had refused. Families with children who fail to evacuate could face possible arrest."v "Authorities (planned) to release toxic chemicals into the air from five derailed tanker cars that were in danger of exploding Monday, telling residents near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line to leave immediately or face the possibility of death."

"Visitors to one of Florence’s most iconic monuments — the Baptistry of San Giovanni, opposite the city’s Duomo — are getting a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see its ceiling mosaics up close thanks to an innovative approach to a planned restoration effort."

Ah, something new has been added. "Astronomers have discovered 12 new moons around Jupiter, putting the total count at a record-breaking 92."

"A small California city that was overrun by visitors four years ago when heavy winter rains produced a “super bloom” of wild poppies has a message for the public after this year’s deluge: Do not come. You could be arrested."

"But then I took a look closer — wait, this wasn’t a state tax credit that DeWine proposed, but a tax deduction." Ohio, doing nothing but trying to make it seem like something.

"Ohio’s privatized economic development office has finalized an agreement with Honda to infuse another $237 million into development of a massive battery plant project that the Japanese automaker plans to use to transform the state into its North American electric vehicle hub." Ah, Ohio is once again giving away the state.

"Search and rescue teams continue to look for survivors in Turkey and Syria on Wednesday, following the massive earthquake and multiple aftershocks on Monday. Thousands of buildings have been leveled and the confirmed death toll has soared past 11,000 people, according to the Associated Press."

"Rescuers in Turkey and war-ravaged Syria searched through the frigid night into Tuesday, hoping to pull more survivors from the rubble after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 4,000 people and toppled thousands of buildings across a wide region."

"Monday's earthquake all but destroyed a 2,000-year-old castle in southeastern Turkey, according to state and local reports… Gaziantep Castle — located in the heart of the city closest to the quake's epicenter — began as an observation point during the Hittite Empire, was fortified during the Roman Empire and expanded under Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century."

"For years, the people of Aleppo bore the brunt of bombardment and fighting when their city, once Syria’s largest and most cosmopolitan, was among the civil war’s fiercest battle zones. Even that didn’t prepare them for the new devastation and terror wreaked by this week’s earthquake."

"China on Monday accused the United States of indiscriminate use of force in shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, saying it 'seriously impacted and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing Sino-U.S. relations.'"

"Two people, including a known neo-Nazi leader, were arrested last week after the FBI interrupted their plot to attack the Baltimore power grid, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland announced Monday morning."

"Florida lawmakers will meet Monday to begin a state takeover of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district and expand a migrant relocation program, key conservative priorities of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of his expected White House run." Killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

"When President Joe Biden suggested that Republicans want to slash Medicare and Social Security, the GOP howls of protest during his State of the Union address showcased a striking apparent turnaround for the party that built a brand for years trying to do just that." You know, just like they didn't "really want to overturn Roe v Wade."

"Sanders says the choice in the U.S. is 'normal or crazy' in GOP response to Biden." Well, in her favor, that is true. Just not in the direction she thinks it is. But then very few people when in the grips of a mental health issue can realize that they're crazy. It's always everybody else.

"A slew of bills, mostly in Republican-led states, are looking to restrict or prohibit drag show performances in the presence of children, part of a larger fight over a burgeoning culture war issue… Republicans say the performances expose children to sexual themes and imagery that are inappropriate, a claim rejected by advocates, who say the proposed measures are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community and could violate First Amendment laws."

Monday, February 6, 2023

Linkee-poo Monday Feb 6 early AM report

"A furry critter in a western Pennsylvania town has predicted six more weeks of winter during an annual Groundhog Day celebration." Fuck Phil.

"U.S. health officials are advising people to stop using over-the-counter eye drops that have been linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant infections."

"Their study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, is based on a rare archaeological find: An embalming workshop with a trove of pottery around 2,500 years old. Many jars from the site were still inscribed with instructions like 'to wash' or 'to put on his head.'… By matching the writing on the outside of the vessels with the chemical traces inside, researchers uncovered new details about the 'recipes' that helped preserve bodies for thousands of years." Like Young Frankenstein finding the "How I did it" book.

"How did the U.S. end up celebrating Groundhog Day in the first place?… It dates back to ancient traditions — first pagan, then Christian — marking the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox, says Troy Harman, a history professor at Penn State University who also works as a ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park."

"The Arctic air that descended on the Northeast on Saturday brought dangerously cold sub-zero temperatures and wind chills to the region, including a record-setting wind chill of minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 78 C) on the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire."

"The Biden administration released a long-awaited study Wednesday that recommends allowing a major oil development on Alaska’s North Slope that supporters say could boost U.S. energy security but that climate activists decry as a 'carbon bomb.'"

"The heated debate over regulating gas stoves is really about the burners in those appliances. That's where natural gas, a fossil fuel, is combusted and air pollution is released into homes… Four decades ago, the gas industry and appliance manufacturers developed a partial solution for this problem. They created a cleaner and more efficient burner. But you can't buy ranges with those burners because the industry never manufactured those appliances for sale."

EVs are too expensive, cry conservative lawmakers. "Last month, Tesla dropped its prices dramatically — up to 20%… Here's how the announcement is having ripple effects, from the impact on Tesla owners to the changes it could spur across the auto industry." While not stated in this article there are also reports that insuring Teslas has become more expensive because of repairs being so costly, even minor damage can classify a car as being "totaled."

And then… "Tesla has raised prices on its Model Y in the U.S., apparently due to rising demand and changes in U.S. government rules that make more versions of the small SUV eligible for tax credits."

"But a full three weeks after they bought the car and took it home, they got what's called 'yo-yo'd.'" The fuck?

"A whale that washed ashore in Hawaii over the weekend likely died in part because it ate large volumes of fishing traps, fishing nets, plastic bags and other marine debris, scientists said Thursday, highlighting the threat to wildlife from the millions of tons of plastic that ends up in oceans every year."

"Researchers are trying to figure out a mystery: Why are so many humpback whales, right whales, and other large mammals dying along the U.S. East Coast? One possible explanation is a shift in food habits. And while theories are circulating that blame the growing offshore wind industry, scientists say there's no proof to support that idea."

"Nine-year-old Bobbi Wilson may be in the fourth grade, but last month the Yale School of Public Health held a ceremony honoring the budding scientist's recent work… The accolades come just three months after Bobbi, who is Black, made headlines when former Caldwell Borough Council member Gordon Lawshe, who is white, called local police on the girl."

"Maryland officials are preparing for as many as 80,000 residents who could no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage this spring, as the federal government reinstates a requirement that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic for states to verify the eligibility of recipients."

"AstraZeneca said its third phase trial results showed its single-dose treatment was nearly 75% effective at preventing severe infection in babies throughout an RSV season. The data was published in March 2022 in the New England Journal of Medicine."

"As global demand for Covid-19 vaccines dries up, the program responsible for vaccinating the world’s poor has been urgently negotiating to try to get out of its deals with pharmaceutical companies for shots it no longer needs… Drug companies have so far declined to refund $1.4 billion in advance payments for now-canceled doses, according to confidential documents obtained by The New York Times." But remember, they're going to hike the prices from around $20 to $150.

"Despite its illegal status, ayahuasca has become increasingly popular in the U.S., and interest has intensified as celebrities like NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Hollywood star Will Smith talked about attending ceremonies. Supporters have formed churches to hold their ceremonies, which are largely held underground in homes, at rented facilities or in remote locations like deserts."

"Stocks have surged since the start of the year. The Nasdaq is up nearly 15% this year after posting its best January since 2001. And it's not just stocks: bonds have risen and even bitcoin has made a roaring comeback, though all markets fell a tad on Friday." Recession? What recession?

"After a long run of surging profits from pandemic-era shopping sprees, Amazon is feeling the hangover. The retail and tech giant is reporting its first unprofitable year since 2014… By far, the biggest culprit for Amazon's losses over the year was the company's hefty investment in the electric automaker Rivian whose value plummeted last year and ate into Amazon's bottom line."

"An intense winter storm finally passed through Texas on Thursday, but residents will feel the impact of the storm for more time. The storm led to power outages in hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses."

"Energy giant Shell has reported its highest annual profits in the company's 115-year history, after energy prices soared due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine… London-based Shell's profits for 2022 were almost $40 billion, twice those reported for 2021, at a time of continued political debate about more targeted taxation on energy companies."

"Up to half a million British teachers, civil servants, and train drivers walked out over pay in the largest coordinated strike action for a decade on Wednesday, with unions threatening more disruption as the government digs its heels in over pay demands."

"For the last six years, tourists at London's Tate Modern who wandered up to the 10th story could catch a glimpse of one of the gallery's more unusual attractions: the luxury apartments across the way… Now that unofficial exhibit may be soon closing." What a load of crap.

"The U.K. government said Thursday it was responding to 'deeply shocking' revelations that debt-collectors working for British Gas broke into customers’ homes to install prepay gas meters that left vulnerable people at risk of having their heating cut off… British Gas’ parent company, Centrica PLC, said it had halted the 'unacceptable' practice. The country’s energy regulator launched an investigation." YEs yes, totally unacceptable to have our legal representatives violate our policies by :: checks notes :: getting warrants to enter homes accompanied by police, breaking in with the help of locksmiths. I mean, who could have seen them doing this using corporate assets, working on billable time, invoicing their expenses. Why, we're totally shocked.

"Truss on Sunday blamed a 'powerful economic establishment' and internal Conservative Party opposition for the rapid collapse of her government, and said she still believes her tax-cutting policies were the right ones… Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister resigned in October, six weeks into the job, after her inaugural budget plan sparked market mayhem." Nope. Liz, I'm pretty sure it was you and your wackaloon economy theory. Just a reminder that not all thoughts are good thoughts.

"Despite overwhelming domestic protest and concerns from the U.S., Israel's most far-right government in history is doubling down on its plan to fundamentally remake Israel's system of government by weakening the powers of the judiciary."

"Iran's supreme leader on Sunday reportedly ordered an amnesty or reduction in prison sentences for 'tens of thousands' of people detained amid nationwide anti-government protests shaking the country, acknowledging for the first time the scale of the crackdown." It's amazing at what happens when you run out of jail space.

"Undergraduate college enrollment is continuing its years-long decline, though at a much less drastic rate than during the pandemic. According to data released Thursday, Feb. 2, U.S. colleges and universities saw a drop of just 94,000 undergraduate students, or 0.6%, between the fall of 2021 and 2022. This follows a historic decline that began in the fall of 2020; over two years, more than 1 million fewer students enrolled in college." Even though they upgrade this year's numbers, the demographic cliff is still coming in 3 years.

In case you ever heard the argument about how restricting legal guns sales wouldn't stop criminals from getting guns… "The most expansive federal report in over two decades on guns and crime shows a shrinking turnaround between the time a gun was purchased and when it was recovered from a crime scene, indicating firearms bought legally are more quickly being used in crimes around the country." Just where do you think criminals get their guns?

"A federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Wednesday that a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of a man shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse during a protest in 2020 can proceed against Rittenhouse, police officers and others." Good.

"Police converged in force on the tiny, unincorporated community of Wolf Creek in southwest Oregon the night of Jan. 26 as they hunted for a suspect who was wanted for kidnapping and torturing a woman nearly to death — and who had previously been convicted of a similar crime in Nevada."

"The people who live in this other Jacksonville are mostly Black, and many of them lay blame for their neighborhoods’ lack of services on the city’s politics. They point to a lack of representation resulting in part from the way the districts have been drawn for the city council, the decision-making body for Jacksonville’s 950,000 residents."

"In the announcement, College Board CEO David Coleman called the newly revised course, which high schoolers can take for college credit, 'an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture.'… But critics point out that the newest iteration of the course is now missing several themes and voices from Black scholars that were originally presented in a pilot program already being taught at dozens of schools this year across the country. Others are saying that changes to the curriculum were made to appease Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after his administration rejected the original iteration of the course last month."

"Brazil's former president Jair Bolsonaro has applied for a six-month visa to remain in the U.S. as his home country continues to investigate whether he's partially responsible for an attack on Brasilia's capital buildings last month." Where are the conservative cries of "illegal immigration" here?

"On its face, the National Prayer Breakfast is a serene, bipartisan event full of spiritual reflection… But over the years, the breakfast has also been a source of controversy — full of shadowy fundraising, behind-the-scenes lobbying and even infiltration by a Russian spy." Upset at the controversies around it, and lack of control, Congress is taking it back in-house so they can avoid future embarrassments. The people involved will be the same, their goals will be the same, The Family still has its tentacles in the highest offices of government, it's just you won't see it anymore.

"A case before a federal judge in Texas could dramatically alter abortion access in the United States – at least as much, some experts say, as the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision last year, which overturned decades of abortion-rights precedent… A decision is expected soon in the case challenging the Food and Drug Administration's approval more than 20 years ago of the abortion drug mifepristone, which a growing number of patients use to terminate pregnancies."

"Eyes were locked on the Carolina skies Saturday as a suspected Chinese spy balloon ended its weeklong traverse over the U.S. when it drifted over the Atlantic Ocean and was shot down by a fighter jet." Much ado over very little.

The Pentagon's response. Including this gem, "The balloon did not pose a military or physical threat. Still its intrusion into American airspace over several days was an unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty. The official said Chinese balloons briefly transited the continental United States at least three times during the prior administration." Considering the chest beating over, "this would never had happened in Trump was president.

"Prisoners in Massachusetts may soon have the option to get their sentences reduced in exchange for donating their organs or bone marrow if a proposed law is passed in the US state." JFC.

"A lawyer for President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, asked the Justice Department in a letter Wednesday to investigate close allies of former President Donald Trump and others who accessed and disseminated personal data from a laptop that a computer repair shop owner says was dropped off at his Delaware store in 2019."

"But speaking to reporters later on Capitol Hill, McCarthy offered more specifics, saying he would not agree to a 'clean' bill that would only raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts attached." McCarthy's disappearing/reappearing spine trick is growing tiresome. But of course he's not going to toss away his only have negotiation point.

The US parallel to Liz Truss saying, "It wasn't me, I wasn't at fault"… "Evans joins a series of Jan. 6 defendants who — when up against possible prison time in court — have expressed regret for joining the pro-Trump mob that rattled the foundations of American democracy only to strike a different tone or downplay the riot after receiving their punishment." Funny how that happens.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Linkee-poo Wednesday Feb 1

Sorry, it's been a very busy couple of weeks. And these coming weeks don't look better. Plus I had a crash that lost two days' worth of links. Ugh.

Cindy Williams and Lisa Losing, and so it goes.

"HarperCollins Publishers and the union representing some 250 striking employees have agreed to enter into federal mediation, the first sign of a possible settlement since the work stoppage began in early November." There's a deal that they announced earlier today.

"Whatever route you decide to pursue, be patient. A writing career is not a sprint. It is also not a marathon. A writing career is one of those wilderness survival challenges where they dump you in the woods without a map or a compass or food and whoever finds their way out wins. Except the only thing you 'win' is that you don’t have to go to law school." McSweeney's on being a writer. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"Hard rock legend Ozzy Osbourne announced the cancellation of his 2023 tour dates in the U.K. and continental Europe… Osbourne issued a statement early Wednesday saying damage to his spine suffered in an accident four years ago will prevent him from touring."

"It's prime time to see the comet known as C/2022 E3, marked by its bright green nucleus and long faint ion tail. The comet has been visible for some time with telescopes and binoculars — but the best chance of seeing it with the naked eye is coming up on Wednesday, Feb. 1."

"Borealopelta markmitchelli found its way back into the sunlight in 2017, millions of years after it had died. This armored dinosaur is so magnificently preserved that we can see what it looked like in life. Almost the entire animal—the skin, the armor that coats its skin, the spikes along its side, most of its body and feet, even its face—survived fossilization. It is, according to Dr. Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, a one-in-a-billion find."

"The rotation of Earth’s inner core may have paused and it could even go into reverse, new research suggests." Reversing the tachyon flow.

"The Justice Department has been scrutinizing a controversial artificial intelligence tool used by a Pittsburgh-area child protective services agency following concerns that the tool could lead to discrimination against families with disabilities, The Associated Press has learned."

"What if you could design a house that on a cold day in January would stay at 70 degrees inside — without running the furnace? Or even having a furnace?… It's already being done… In fact, what's known as the Passivhaus concept came to the United States in 2006, and is being used to construct buildings throughout the U.S."

"It wouldn’t be until many years later that the truth would come out: Ciba-Geigy Chemical Corp., the town’s largest employer, had been flushing chemicals into the Toms River and the Atlantic Ocean, and burying 47,000 drums of toxic waste in the ground. This created a plume of polluted water that has spread beyond the site into residential neighborhoods. It made the area one of America’s most notorious Superfund sites, joining the list of the most seriously polluted areas in need of federally supervised cleanup."

"Oil refineries release billions of pounds of pollution annually into waterways, and that pollution disproportionately affects people of color, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency regulatory data." Oh look, another study that says the same thing.

"Authorities in Western Australia said Wednesday they had found a tiny capsule containing radioactive material that went missing during transport last month on an Outback highway."

"The Stanford University academic has a compelling pitch: the world can rapidly get 100% of its energy from renewable sources with, as the title of his new book says, 'no miracles needed'… Wind, water and solar can provide plentiful and cheap power, he argues, ending the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis, slashing deadly air pollution and ensuring energy security. Carbon capture and storage, biofuels, new nuclear and other technologies are expensive wastes of time, he argues." The real problems are cost, infrastructure, and willingness.

"Smartphones, computers and electric vehicles may be emblems of the modern world, but, says Siddharth Kara, their rechargeable batteries are frequently powered by cobalt mined by workers laboring in slave-like conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo."

"Alfalfa, for all its benefits, sucks up way too much of the one thing Utah does not have enough of. Water… Recent reports conclude that growing alfalfa and other kinds of hay sucks up 68% of the 5.1 million acre-feet of water diverted every year in Utah… And it’s not as if alfalfa is something Utah consumers really need. It mostly goes to feed livestock of all kinds. Almost a third of it is exported, mostly to China, taking far too much of our water with it." Now do Saudi Arabia in Arizona.

"But the future isn’t set in stone. The U.S. may need up to 90% less of these materials if it simply prioritizes things like public transit, urban walkability, and smaller cars, according to groundbreaking new research from the Climate and Community Project and University of California, Davis." Which means we're going to need all those materials.

"Marie Kondo, the queen of tidy, says her house isn't so tidy anymore… 'Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home,' the Japanese cleaning consultant recently told listeners, according to The Washington Post."

"But, the drugs aren't intended for cosmetic weight loss. Ozempic is approved for diabetes, and Wegovy is for people with obesity who also have weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol that put them at risk of heart disease. That's millions of Americans." Eat less, exercise more. And it's more important to build that mentality while using drugs like these, or dieting. Loosing weight is a lifelong project.

"The White House is planning to end the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency on May 11. The declarations have been extended multiple times since enacted by the Trump administration in 2020… Ending the emergency declaration could have implications for funding for tests and vaccines as well as impact other pandemic-related policies. Congress has already begun pushing back on efforts to extend programs that had been tied to the pandemic." Jazz hands.

"'I think many doctors live in this sort of limbo of '"us and them,"' (neurosurgeon Henry Marsh) says. 'Illness happens to patients, not to doctors. Anecdotally, I'm told that many doctors present with their cancers very late, as I did. ... I denied my symptoms for months, if not for years.'" I had an ortho doc who was shocked at how painful some of the positioning is for x-rays when you've been injured (he had to experience this first hand). And I made a comment to him that he should think about that when he orders x-rays. And he did… for about 2 weeks.

"The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace from October through December, ending 2022 with momentum despite the pressure of high interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession."

"The economy showed surprising resilience at the end of last year, growing at a healthy clip despite the war in Ukraine and the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic… Forecasters say that growth is likely to slow, however, and possibly even reverse in the months to come, as consumers and businesses continue to deal with rising prices, as well as the Federal Reserve's aggressive push to boost interest rates." You know what one of the factors that causes recessions? Expecting a recession.

"The Federal Reserve extended its fight against high inflation Wednesday by raising its key interest rate by a quarter-point, its eighth hike since March. And the Fed signaled that even though inflation is easing, it remains high enough to require further rate hikes."

"With almost all big employers in the United States now using artificial intelligence and automation in their hiring processes, the agency that enforces federal anti-discrimination laws is considering some urgent questions… How can you prevent discrimination in hiring when the discrimination is being perpetuated by a machine? What kind of guardrails might help?" Too late.

"A new federal law, passed after the Department of Energy allowed the export of taxpayer-funded battery technology to China, aims to tighten restrictions on sending such government discoveries abroad… Initially, the 'Invent Here, Make Here Act' will apply only to programs in the Department of Homeland Security. But the law's sponsors in Congress say they plan to expand it to the DOE and other agencies next." Because we didn't learn the lesson with HDTVs.

"St. Patrick has long received the attention and the big parades, but another patron saint of Ireland is making a 21st century comeback… St. Brigid of Kildare, a younger contemporary of St. Patrick, is quietly and steadily gaining a following, in Ireland and abroad. Devotees see Brigid, and the ancient Irish goddess whose name and attributes she shares, as emblematic of feminine spirituality and empowerment." St Brigid's is the catholic church in my fictional town of Falls Church.

"NATO chief wants more 'friends' as Russia, China move close."

Met the new boss, same as the old boss… "Close to a year since the invasion of Ukraine, activists aligned with Russia are pushing pro-Kremlin messages in Africa using a coordinated French-language network spanning Facebook, YouTube, Telegram and other online channels… The network, dubbed 'Russosphere,' is connected to a far-right Belgian political activist who was involved in overseeing contested Russian-backed referenda in Crimea and Donbas in 2014, according to researchers at Logically, a company that tracks online misinformation and disinformation." They've shifted into a new gear, but it's the same old shit. (Waves to my Russian friends)

"A US military raid in Somalia ordered by President Joe Biden this week killed a key regional leader of the Islamic State group, Bilal al-Sudani, according to US officials."

"Five former Memphis police officers who were fired for their actions during the arrest of Tyre Nichols earlier this month were indicted on charges including murder and kidnapping, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced Thursday."

"After last night's release of the video of Tyre Nichols' arrest and fatal beating by Memphis police Jan. 7 and his death Jan. 10, demonstrations in Atlanta on Jan. 27 were peaceful. PSL Atlanta, one of the organizing groups that participated in the gathering downtown, distributed an online flier calling for more demonstrations at noon today in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park."

"The Colorado baker who won a partial U.S. Supreme Court victory after refusing to make a gay couple’s wedding cake because of his Christian faith lost an appeal Thursday in his latest legal fight, involving his rejection of a request for a birthday cake celebrating a gender transition." Here we go again.

"Slowing birth rates in the developed world are resulting in aging populations and smaller workforces. But in parts of the developing world, the youth population is still growing, and some countries are struggling to create enough jobs for an expanding working-age population… To economists, migration is the obvious solution. But the political implications could be harder to overcome." So much for homo economis.

"A woman who was a public official in a Michigan community admitted Wednesday that she broke a seal on a ballot box to ensure that votes could not be recounted in her 2020 race, prosecutors said." Hey look, actual vote tampering, and this time it's by a Democrat.

"Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller, who is among a group of right-wing Statehouse Republicans, told reporters earlier Thursday that she was being punished following an exchange she had with a legislative aide about vaccinations." Yeah, I'm thinking that it's not the subject of the argument, but the behavior around it that is the cause here.

The circus is back in town. "With the White House and Senate in Democratic hands, the hearings are part of a long laundry list the House GOP hopes to tackle this congressional session — a list that could also entail issuing subpoenas as part of their probes."

"In a report sent to the Florida Department of State earlier this month, a working group of local elections officials warned that the new identification requirements — which will require voters to provide a driver's license number or partial Social Security number on their ballots — will create significant election reporting delays and a slew of costs for local election offices, and could disenfranchise large numbers of voters." Ah, so you mean it'll work as intended.

"Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor who also served in the Trump administration, is preparing to run for president in 2024, a source familiar with her planning tells NPR." LEt's get ready to rumble!