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, 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.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Linkee-poo Tuesday August 15

"A Georgia grand jury has indicted Donald Trump and 18 attorneys and allies for an alleged scheme to overturn the state's 2020 election results, implicating the former president as the head of a sweeping conspiracy."

"Kunzru was irked enough to add his own voice to the rising Prosecraft protest. He wasn’t mad about the analysis itself. But he strongly suspected that the founder, Benji Smith, had obtained his catalog without paying for it. 'It seemed very clear to me that he couldn’t have assembled this database in any legal way,' he says." I wouldn't say this was specifically "against AI." It's more of a reassertion of the rights of the IP holders. It's just that it appears that AI (and the tech industry in general) are serial content pirates and plagiarizers. Or as they say in the article, "But it appears to share something crucial with most of the AI projects making headlines these days: It trained on a massive set of data scraped from the internet without regard to possible copyright infringement issues." And, of course, he still doesn't get it. He asks if "Would people be less angry with me if I bought a copy of each of these books?" The author of the article says, "Yes", but the answer is "No." You need to buy the rights to use the novels as part of a new work, and that will be much more than the cover-price of a physical or digital book.

"Human-driven climate change pushed global temperatures to never-before-seen heights in July, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. The month is now officially the hottest July on record since record-taking began in the 1800s… And it wasn't even close: the month was a whopping 0.4 °F warmer than the previous record set in 2019, and well over 2.1 °F hotter than the 20th century average."

"This summer has been among the hottest and hardest in memory. Austin broke an all-time heat index record in June when the 'feels like' temperature topped off at 118 degrees. Then, we had our hottest July ever recorded… This week, only halfway through August, it looks like we’ll surpass 40 days straight of triple-digit heat. This could end up being our hottest summer ever."

"Scientists are wondering if global warming and El Nino have an accomplice in fueling this summer’s record-shattering heat."

"Juneau’s glacial outburst floods have happened every year since 2011, but this year was the worst by far. The Mendenhall River eroded the bank in a matter of hours, undermining some homes and sending at least one into the river."

"A devastating wildfire that tore though parts of Maui and destroyed much of the historic town of Lahaina has killed at least 89, officials said Saturday afternoon, making it the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century."

"Hawaii wildfires: Photos show the destruction and devastation."

"The U.S. government will settle a lawsuit with conservation groups and commit to releasing more endangered red wolves into the wilds of North Carolina, where nearly three dozen of the canine species are believed to still run free."

"California wildlife officials say they've confirmed a new gray wolf pack in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains… The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday the pack was found in Tulare County — the farthest south a pack of wolves has been detected in the state in more than a century."

"Baltimore's harm reduction vans have long been a place for people to exchange used needles for clean needles. In recent months, more people have been coming to Baltimore's two mobile harm intervention vans in need of serious wound care due to a drug called xylazine. Among users, it is commonly referred to as Tranq."

"Five people were found dead after a house explosion in western Pennsylvania that destroyed three structures and damaged at least a dozen others, authorities said Sunday."

"59-year-old Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was a former investigative journalist who was outspoken against what he saw to be clear, increasing government corruption in his country… Villavicencio was fatally shot on Wednesday, moments after exiting a campaign rally in Quito, the nation's capital."

"The Texas attorney general's office has filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court, effectively blocking a judge's hours-old order that temporarily lifted a ban on emergency abortions."

"Ashley was discharged from the hospital only hours ago, but there are no baby presents or toys in the room, no visible diapers or ointments or bottles. Almost nobody knows that Peanut exists, because almost nobody knew that Ashley was pregnant. She is 13 years old. Soon she’ll start seventh grade."

"Ohio voters have defeated Issue 1, according to a race call by the Associated Press on Tuesday night. The no vote rejects a proposed constitutional change that would have made it harder to pass future amendments to the Ohio Constitution." Than you, my fellow Ohioans. Although ti was much closer than it had a right to be.

"It was the result of having multiple pastors tell me, essentially, the same story about quoting the Sermon on the Mount, parenthetically, in their preaching — 'turn the other cheek' — [and] to have someone come up after to say, 'Where did you get those liberal talking points?' And what was alarming to me is that in most of these scenarios, when the pastor would say, 'I'm literally quoting Jesus Christ," the response would not be, 'I apologize.' The response would be, 'Yes, but that doesn't work anymore. That's weak.' And when we get to the point where the teachings of Jesus himself are seen as subversive to us, then we're in a crisis."

"Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday he won’t sign a pledge to support the Republican nominee if he loses the GOP presidential primary, flouting a requirement for appearing in the first debate later this month."

Hey, remember when Democrats called out Republicans for their violent imagery and the use of "targets" and "scope" graphics in their political advertising, and the conservatives were all, "this is just rhetoric, nothing real to be worried about." "For extremism researchers, the shooting death this week of a Utah man who was alleged to have made violent threats against President Biden and other public officials highlights a concerning trend. For years, they have watched a steady escalation in violent political rhetoric that appears to be fueling acts of real-life violence."

"An armed Utah man accused of making violent threats against President Joe Biden was shot and killed by FBI agents hours before the president landed in the state Wednesday, authorities said."

"Here's the thing: The real threats to democracy aren't at the ballot box and never were… The real threat comes from those like Trump who would ignore democracy and the will of the people altogether and who daily attempt to replace democracy with disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, intimidation, dark money, and when all that fails: seize power with violence and insurrection."

Monday, August 14, 2023

Linkee-poo Monday August 14

"The new images of the famous Ring Nebula from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope are mesmerizing, with glowing rings of gas and wispy trails emanating from the core. We can see it in more clarity than ever, including thousands of clumps that make up its main ring."

"NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft was back chatting it up Friday after flight controllers corrected a mistake that had led to weeks of silence."

"But this year there is a lot less sea ice than ever recorded before. And that is bad news for people around the world, because sea ice helps control how quickly the rest of Antarctica's ice melts, which contributes to global sea level rise." We're boned.

"Waves are getting bigger and surf at least 13 feet (about 4 meters) tall is becoming more common off California’s coast as the planet warms, according to innovative new research that tracked the increasing height from historical data gathered over the past 90 years."

"A D.C. restaurant started serving chicken made from cultivated animal cells this week — and DCist/WAMU was among the first customers to try it… It's something out of science fiction: Chicken produced in a stainless steel tank without killing any birds. The meat is grown from their cells that feed on nutrients and multiply until they can be harvested and molded into what will later be served on our plate — strips of chicken that have been skewered and grilled."

"A primordial sea animal that lives on the tidal mudflats of the East Coast and serves as a linchpin for the production of vital medicines stands to benefit from new protective standards… But conservationists who have been trying for years to save a declining bird species — the red knot — that depends on horseshoe crabs fear the protections still don’t go far enough."

"The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first ever pill for treating postpartum depression, a potentially life-threatening condition that affects hundreds of thousands of new parents across the U.S. each year."

"'There's been so much research that has shown that if you consume more fiber, you are healthier,' says Hannah Holscher, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, and self-proclaimed 'fiber nerd.'" Unless, you know, you have some condition that fiber is actually counter indicated. And there are people who have major problems with inulin. Also, note the dangers of highly processed foods (where the "added fiber" comes from).

"The COVID-19 International Research Team (COV-IRT) and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) report that they have identified abnormal mitochondrial function in the heart, kidneys, and liver after SARS-CoV-2 infection, which leads to long-term damage and may help explain long COVID."

"The new research, which was an international collaboration between dozens of scientists, describes how some people carry a version of a single gene, FOXP4, that is associated with developing long COVID. Longet calls the new research an 'important element' in understanding why some people's COVID symptoms seemingly never resolve." We don't know much, but we're starting to learn some.

"Odds of a soft landing may have just gotten a little better… U.S. employers added 187,000 jobs in July. While job growth has moderated, it hasn't come close to stalling, even after the Fed raised interest rates to the highest level in 22 years."

"Ever since production of the first Star Wars movies in the 1970s, the visual effects industry has largely been non-unionized. But now for the first time, a group of 50 visual effects workers at Marvel Studios in LA, New York and Atlanta have signed authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board. They hope to become part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE."

"Rubalcaba said the actors had their faces and bodies scanned for about 15 minutes each. Then their digital replicas were created… But here's the rub: She was never told how or if this digital avatar of herself would ever be used on screen. If it's used, she might never know. No matter what happens with it, she'll never see any payment for it… Disney did not return a request for comment."

"President Biden just ordered U.S. investigators to share evidence of Russian war crimes with The International Criminal Court. On this week’s On the Media, what will it take to secure justice for Ukraine? Plus, a moving look back at the early days of the conflict."

"The researchers at Yale's Humanitarian Research Lab gather in a carpeted underground bunker, beneath the campus library, to steadily gather evidence of Russia's alleged war crimes. In a report published earlier this year, in collaboration with the State Department, they presented evidence of the Russian government operating more than 40 child custody centers for Ukrainian children who have been forcibly removed from their homes to Russia. On the other hand, Russia's embassy in Washington has claimed that the children were forced to flee to safety due to the war. About a month later, on March 17, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegally deporting children from Ukraine." Putin is a war criminal (waves to my Russian friends).

"The motion was filed last week by attorneys representing the School Board and argues that Zwerner, who was shot in her classroom at Richneck Elementary in January by a 6-year-old student, is only entitled to file a worker’s compensation claim because the injury she sustained from the shooting is a 'workplace injury,' and that the shooting was a hazard of the job."

"Eventually, two and a half hours after the pain started, the expectant mother said she was allowed to leave the Middleton Unit. As quickly as the pain would allow her, Issa drove to a nearby hospital, where doctors rushed her into emergency surgery after being unable to find a fetal heartbeat. The baby was delivered stillborn… If Issa had gotten to the hospital sooner, medical personnel told her, the baby would have survived, the lawsuit claims… For more than two decades, in legislation passed by lawmakers and defended in court by the attorney general’s office, Texas has insisted 'unborn children' be recognized as people starting at fertilization. And although it has traditionally referred to all stages of pregnancy, from fertilized egg to birth, as an unborn child, the state repeatedly referred to Issa’s stillborn baby as a fetus in legal briefings." Trying to have it both ways. What is missed here is not the facts, but the reasoning. See, it's not about "the baby", it's about punishing women.

"A Texas judge ruled Friday the state’s abortion ban has proven too restrictive for women with serious pregnancy complications and must allow exceptions without doctors fearing the threat of criminal charges… However, the injunction was immediately blocked by an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, the state attorney general’s office said."

"Ammon Bundy, the anti-government provocateur, has been arrested according to the Gem County dispatch service… Bundy has had an active arrest warrant since mid-April after an Ada County judge found him in contempt of court for refusing to show up to legal proceedings for nearly a year over a civil lawsuit filed by St. Luke’s Health System."

"Authorities in Montgomery, Ala., are charging three men with assault for attacking a riverboat co-captain on Saturday. When officers arrived on scene, the fight had spiraled out of control into a full on brawl at the city's Riverfront Park."

"In an unprecedented raid Friday, local law enforcement seized computers, cellphones and reporting materials from the Marion County Record office, the newspaper’s reporters, and the publisher’s home." The police, the sheriffs, and the judge all need to be ousted from the jobs they don't deserve. The stress and violence of the raid eventually lead to the death of a co-owner.

"Men who had sworn an oath to protect and serve were huddled on the back porch of a Mississippi home as Michael Corey Jenkins lay on the floor, blood gushing from his mutilated tongue where one of the police officers shoved a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger… As Jenkins writhed in pain, the six white officers devised a scheme to cover up dozens of stunning acts of brutality that they had just carried out during 90 minutes of terror against Jenkins and a second Black victim."

"The College Board says the Florida Department of Education has, 'effectively' banned an AP Psychology class in the state. AP African American History is already banned in Florida… The only way districts in Florida will be allowed to teach the Advanced Placement Psychology course is if they omit chapters on gender identity and sexuality." Blatant and open fascism.

"When the US women’s soccer team was knocked out of the world cup, they became the latest target of a right-wing media campaign. On this week’s On the Media, the state of discourse around gender. Plus, the quality of coverage around trans rights, and how it’s changed."

"Mississippi is violating the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment by permanently stripping voting rights from people convicted of some felonies, a federal appeals court panel ruled in a split decision Friday."

"Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville's disagreement with a Pentagon policy on abortion is upheaving life plans for hundreds of military families. Now those families are petitioning Senate leaders to intervene on their behalf."

"This year, the Department of Defense began renaming military bases that honor the Confederacy. On this week’s On the Media, a former general explains why the reckoning with the myth of the 'lost cause' is overdue. Plus, hear how Russian propaganda about the war in Ukraine has been hundreds of years in the making."

"A judge has set a hearing for Friday about the parameters of a protective order dictating how former President Donald Trump and his legal team can talk about the evidence in the Jan. 6 criminal case."

"And now, Trump remains the undisputed front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, despite facing three indictments on a variety of criminal charges, most recently on Tuesday. While it's still unknown what impact the latest federal indictment — on charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack — will have on the electorate, so far he has weathered every storm."

"The Fulton county district attorney investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state of Georgia is expected to present evidence to a grand jury and ask it to return indictments as early as next Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the matter."

"The editor in chief of Christianity Today is warning that evangelical Christianity is moving too far to the right, to the point that even Jesus’s teachings are considered 'weak' now." We all know this was happening, it's just interesting to see it actually happening.

"Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who has been investigating criminal allegations against President Biden's surviving son, Hunter Biden, has been named a special counsel, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday… Weiss, a Trump appointee as U.S. attorney who was retained during the Biden administration, has been investigating Hunter Biden since 2019. He reached a tentative plea deal with Hunter Biden, but it collapsed amid scrutiny recently from a Delaware federal judge."

Friday, August 4, 2023

Linkee-poo Aug 4 early morning edition

The craziness continues. Once I think I've got it all squared away, another curve ball comes in and I have to spin more plates as well as all I'm dealing with. Sorry.

Tony Bennett, Sinead O'Conner, Paul Reubens, and so it goes.

"'Record breaking' loses some of its wow factor when that record just keeps getting broken. Tuesday marks 26 consecutive days in Phoenix, Az. with a temperature over 110 degrees."

"It's so hot in Florida right now that the ocean temperature in one area just crossed into the triple digits… On Monday, a water temperature sensor in Manatee Bay near Everglades National Park recorded a temperature of 101.1 degrees, according to a park spokesperson." We're boned.

Hey, remember the whole, "we need to clear out the wildlands to prevent forest fires" push? "The U.S. Forest Service’s own prescribed burn started a sprawling 2022 wildfire that nearly reached Los Alamos, New Mexico, the agency acknowledged Monday in a report published after a lengthy investigation."

"Tens of thousands of people, many of them British tourists, are scrambling to evacuate from Rhodes and Corfu as wildfires rage across the country. Temperatures are expected to climb again Tuesday."

"Millions of Americans use kratom, which is sold at gas stations, vape shops and bars. It can act like an opiate on the body. The FDA warns against using kratom, but most states don't regulate it."

"The pandemic inflicted higher rates of excess deaths on both Republicans and Democrats. But after COVID-19 vaccines arrived, Republican voters in Florida and Ohio died at a higher rate than their counterparts, according to a new study."

"Countertops made of the engineered stone "quartz" are incredibly popular, but public health experts say cutting this material unsafely can expose workers to deadly dust."

"Dr. Alfonso Sabater pulled up two photos of Antonio Vento Carvajal’s eyes. One showed cloudy scars covering both eyeballs. The other, taken after months of gene therapy given through eyedrops, revealed no scarring on either eye."

"'What they're seeing is that there's an increase in folks who are saying, "Yes, I do receive SNAP," but their distribution numbers here are staying about the same,' said Emily Kraft, the director of community outreach and support services at the Foodbank, an organization in North Carolina. 'So it really reinforces that idea that SNAP is meant to be supplemental — that is not meant to be someone's entire food budget, which is why folks are still stopping in here.'" It's Farm Bill time again.

"Many parents are also hoping to pull back on spending on school supplies this year, according to a survey released Wednesday by Deloitte. The firm is predicting that spending will decrease 10% from last year, marking the first decline since 2014, said Stephen Rogers, the managing director of Deloitte's Consumer Industry Center. Inflation is having a big impact on how parents are shopping, he said."

"The Teamsters union said it has secured pay raises for United Parcel Service workers, averting what would have been one of the largest strikes in U.S. history." They always focus on the pay and miss the greater wins for safety and new hires.

"The Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday it would raise interest rates a quarter percentage point (or 25 basis points), to a 22-year high. It marks a return to the long, steady climb interest rates have been on for the last year, as the Fed attempts to beat back inflation."

"Fitch Ratings cut the United States' credit rating by one notch, from the top-rated AAA to AA+, saying rising deficits and political brinkmanship are imperiling the government's ability to pay its debts… It marks another rebuke for the U.S., which lost its AAA rating from Standard & Poor's in 2011 in the midst of another debt ceiling standoff. Today, only one of the three major credit ratings agencies — Moody's Investors Service — gives the United States a top-notch AAA rating." Thanks to the petulance of the Republicans and conservative politics. Heck of a job, Brownie.

"IRS will stop making most unannounced visits to taxpayers' homes, businesses"

"The Israeli parliament on Monday passed a law stripping the Supreme Court of its power to block government decisions, the first part of a planned judicial overhaul that has sharply divided Israeli society and drawn fierce criticism from the White House."

"Spaniards woke up Monday to find their country in political disarray after a general election a day earlier left no party with a clear path to forming a government... The uncertainty deepened as both of Spain’s two main parties indicated that they hope to take power. The only sure thing seems to be that the country faces weeks, perhaps months, of political negotiations and possibly a new election to sort out the mess."

"The Department of Justice sued the state of Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday for building a floating barrier at the southern border that the state says will deter migrants but that the Biden administration calls a threat to public safety."

"More notably, researchers analyzed the data to show how officers spend their time, and the patterns that emerge tell a striking story about how policing actually works. Those results, too, comport with existing research showing that U.S. police spend much of their time conducting racially biased stops and searches of minority drivers, often without reasonable suspicion, rather than 'fighting crime.'"

"A graphic designer and activist who made TikTok content debunking the claim by Jason Aldean that his controversial music video only uses 'real news footage' has been facing a wave of racist and violent hate mail by defenders of his song." Good thing this video isn't a racist piece of shit, or this might be bad. I mean, how hard would it be to just claim ignorance and say, "oops, my bad," pull the video and redo it. Unless you really are a racist piece of shit where you would do exactly as Jason Aldean has done.

"In 2017, a military judge told attorneys in Bowe Bergdahl's court-martial case that he was impervious to pressure from then-President Donald Trump — but he made a crucial omission: one week earlier, the judge had applied for a new job in the Trump administration… That's the conclusion of U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who on Tuesday vacated the former soldier's court-martial conviction and sentence that were overseen by former military judge Jeffrey Nance." Oopsie.

"A jury has ordered anti-government extremist Ammon Bundy and associates to pay more than $50 million in damages to Idaho's largest hospital in connection with armed protests last year that led to a security lockdown."

Elon Musk has unveiled a new “X” logo to replace Twitter’s famous blue bird as he follows through with a major rebranding of the social media platform he bought for $44 billion last year." But fails to secure "" or clear trademark protections held by Google and Microsoft.

"Elon Musk's X, the company formerly known as Twitter, is suing a nonprofit that researches hate speech on social media, accusing it of conducting 'a scare campaign to drive away advertisers.'" Yeah, I'm sure it has nothing to do with someone calling out his bullshit and this isn't an attempt to further the degradation of Twitter's usefulness in the coming election.

"A Texas A&M University professor was suspended, investigated and ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing for allegedly criticizing Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick during a lecture about the opioid crisis. The probe has free speech advocates concerned about political influence over academia in Texas."

Oh look, actual political considerations and attempts at stifling open debate at a college. "Texas A&M University reached a $1 million settlement Thursday with a Black journalism professor whose hiring was sabotaged by backlash over her past work promoting diversity." Wait, again, it's conservatives who did the Bad Thing™. Never mind.

"Several Ohio agencies are investigating why an officer allowed his police dog to attack a truck driver who was surrendering with his hands raised, despite State Highway Patrol troopers urging the officer to hold the dog back."

"Three months after Ms. Cotham took office in January, she delivered a mortal shock to Democrats and to abortion rights supporters: She switched parties, and then cast a decisive vote on May 3 to override a veto by the state’s Democratic governor and enact a 12-week limit on most abortions — North Carolina’s most restrictive abortion policy in 50 years." Groomers. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"McCarthy said he has not talked to Trump about any impeachment probe. But several far right House Republicans argue that because Democrats voted twice to impeach Trump it is appropriate to move forward now to remove Biden. Last month the speaker pushed back on an effort to hold an impeachment vote on a resolution introduced by Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert that cited the president's immigration policies, and instead the House voted to refer the matter to committees to investigate."

"The judge in the Hunter Biden case said Wednesday she is not ready to accept the plea deal struck between the president's son and the Justice Department, and asked both parties to submit additional briefs and return to the court on a future date… Judge Maryellen Noreika demanded that the lawyers from both sides make clear that the deal does not convey broad immunity offered to Biden from prosecution on his business dealings."

"The lead prosecutor in the case against President Joe Biden’s son Hunter says he is willing to testify publicly this fall, setting up a clash with House Republicans who have demanded he come in soon for a closed-door interview." Or no, considering the case is still ongoing.

"The Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded the judge who oversaw the penalty trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz on Monday for showing bias toward the prosecution."

"The Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate met in a special session Monday and overrode GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt’s vetoes of two bills to extend existing agreements with Native American tribes for another year."

"The most recent Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general faces criminal charges for an alleged effort to gain access to voting machines after the 2020 election as the results were being contested by then-President Donald Trump. That's after Democratic nominee Joe Biden won Michigan."

"State Issue 1, the sole question on the ballot, calls for raising the threshold for passing future changes to the Ohio Constitution from a simple majority to 60%. Starting next year, it also would double the number of counties where signatures must be gathered, from 44 to all 88, and do away with the 10-day grace period for closing gaps in the total valid signatures submitted." Save our democracy, vote No on Issue 1 (if you're a voter in Ohio).

"A U.S. District Court in Mississippi on Tuesday temporarily blocked a voting law in the state that was supposed to go into effect July 1. The law, known as Senate Bill 2358, creates new restrictions for who can assist someone while voting by mail."

"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly stopped talking at his weekly press conference with top Senate GOP leaders on Wednesday when he froze and appeared unable to continue for more than 30 seconds as he gripped the podium. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the third ranking Republican and a physician, walked with McConnell for a few steps near the Senate floor as other leaders resumed the press conference."

"The criminal charges against former President Donald Trump related to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election are some of the most serious allegations facing him, one law professor told NPR."

"Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to four felony charges that he attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election." And no criming while you wait for trial (oh, this is gonna be good).

"Rudy Giuliani conceded in a court filing that he made false statements when he said two Georgia election workers mishandled ballots during the 2020 election."