I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're goin' through

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Linkee-poo February 28

Richard Lewis, and so it goes.

"Firefighting crews on Wednesday continued battling a near-record size wildfire scorching the Texas Panhandle. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire had already affected more than 850,000 acres, as high wind speeds and dry weather conditions continue to fuel the blaze." Totally normal, nothing to worry about here.

"As Bloomberg reports, the Boring Company's scarce output — which thus far amounts only to driving Teslas around a few miles of neon-lit tunnel underneath Sin City as they ferry convention attendees at no more than 40 miles per hour — has also come with a massive buildup of waste, the consistency of a milkshake, that's said to burn the skin of anyone who comes in contact with it." The supposed genius, everybody.

"The chatbot provided inaccurate information, encouraging Moffatt to book a flight immediately and then request a refund within 90 days. In reality, Air Canada's policy explicitly stated that the airline will not provide refunds for bereavement travel after the flight is booked. Moffatt dutifully attempted to follow the chatbot's advice and request a refund but was shocked that the request was rejected." Air Canada tried to argue that they couldn't be held liable for the chatbot's advice, which was wrong. Fortunately the court disagreed.

"Wendy's said on Wednesday it has no plans to raise menu prices at times of peak demand, after the burger chain was scorched on social media sites for comments its CEO made earlier this month suggesting the chain may start testing 'dynamic pricing.'" Well that's a relief. Too bad the damage has already been done.

"Apple has ended its secret plans of building a self-driving electric car, a decade-long effort that was seen as one of the most ambitious undertakings in the company's history."

"Michelle Mack is accused of paying as many as 12 women for their travel expenses, as well as providing them with a list of retail stores across the country to target — including stores in 21 counties across California… Those stores include a LensCrafters in Clairemont and an Ulta store in Mira Mesa, which was one of the 231 Ulta’s hit across the country. Several Sephora stores were also targeted." Just to keep in mind whom is directing those supposed "shoplifting gangs."

"The four-day workweek is proving to be the gift that keeps on giving… Companies that have tried it are reporting happier workers, lower turnover and greater efficiency. Now, there's evidence that those effects are long lasting." Still, don't expect it anytime soon.

"LLMs have what robots lack: access to knowledge about practically everything humans have ever written, from quantum physics to K-pop to defrosting a salmon fillet. In turn, robots have what LLMs lack: physical bodies that can interact with their surroundings, connecting words to reality. It seems only logical to connect mindless robots and bodiless LLMs so that, as one 2022 paper puts it, 'the robot can act as the language model's "hands and eyes," while the language model supplies high-level semantic knowledge about the task.'" I'd would be ROTFLMAO if it didn't mean a number of people will be killed before the techbros figure out that maybe this is a mistake. So let's take their opening scenario about a robot cooking dinner. Have you seen any of the stories about asking Chat-GPT/LLMs for recipes? Anyone who thinks this is a good idea has been sniffing their own farts and thinking it's ambrosia. Also the major problem here is that Chat-GPT/LLMs are not general intelligence, they're statistical modeling tools, they don't understand the meaning behind the words they're generating.

"More than a dozen students walked out of class Monday at an Oklahoma high school where a 16-year-old nonbinary student was beaten inside a restroom earlier this month and died the following day."

"A former member of the disbanded left-wing militant Red Army Faction group who is accused of participating in a string of robberies has been arrested after more than 30 years on the run, German authorities said Tuesday."

"Hunger and severe malnutrition are widespread in the Gaza Strip, where about 2.2 million Palestinians are facing severe shortages resulting from Israel destroying food supplies and severely restricting the flow of food, medicines and other humanitarian supplies. Aid trucks and Palestinians waiting for humanitarian relief have come under Israeli fire."

"Over the last couple of years, a mystery has been brewing in this small mountain town. Someone has been quietly buying hundreds of acres of land — stirring worries about rising housing prices and speculation among locals about what exactly is going on… Waimea is a tightknit community that has a large Native Hawaiian population, and the people here say they don't want to lose that culture." The billionaire class are buying their own volcano criminal mastermind headquarters believing the end times are coming soon. Like we won't drive out onto their land to bring them back to the guillotine.

"Congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement Wednesday to prevent a government shutdown for now, days before an end-of-the-week deadline that risked shuttering some federal operations, according to two people familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it." Not a solution, they're just kicking the can down the road.

"Amid yet more tumult and tense division in American public life, the Maricopa county supervisor announced this week that he’s not running again, choosing instead to prioritize his family – and get rid of the endless harassment that’s been a feature of his job the last few years and put him more than once in the national spotlight."

"But once the final proposal by Missourians for Constitutional Freedom was unveiled in January, the troubles quickly dispersed and the attention shifted to getting the over 171,000 signatures required to go before voters later this year."

"A magistrate ruled Wednesday that the oldest son of U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert could be released from jail a day after the 18-year-old was arrested in connection with a recent string of vehicle break-ins and property thefts." It's just salacious, but sure.

"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will step down as Republican leader in November."

"A New York appellate judge on Wednesday refused to halt collection of Donald Trump’s $454 million civil fraud penalty while he appeals, rejecting the former president’s request that he be allowed to post a bond covering just a fraction of what he owes."

"After months of contentious battles with House Republicans, Hunter Biden appeared Wednesday for a deposition in the GOP impeachment inquiry into his father, President Joe Biden. The younger Biden has been a central target in the GOP-led investigation of the president and his family."

"The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to decide whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted on charges he interfered with the 2020 election, calling into question whether his case could go to trial before the November election." And that's the point of them taking the case.

"'We have led a movement that is far exceeding expectations, using the ballot box to urge America to stop killing our families,' said Listen to Michigan spokesperson and Democratic strategist Abbas Alawieh at a watch party in Dearborn, Mich. 'That's all we're asking for. Just stop killing our families,' he added." Congrats to Listen to Michigan for their organization. I had a lot to say on Bluesky. So I won't reiterate it all here, but I'll just say that if their focus is just on Gaza is this group prepared to throw the election from Biden to Trump, from a person who will at least listen to them to the person who will most likely oppress, deport, and gin up "lone wolves" to attack the community? Or can Biden gamble that his working on a cease fire behind the scenes will bear fruit and bring those votes back in without bowing to any pressure from them?

"'Uncommitted' wins 2 Democratic delegates in Michigan, a victory for Biden’s anti-war opponents." While that's not for nothing, and it gives you some seats in the arena, but he won't need your delegates to win the nomination. And I certainly hope you're not waiting for the Convention to actually push for your agenda.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Linkee-poo February 17

"Record hot seawater killed more than three-quarters of human-cultivated coral that scientists had placed in the Florida Keys in recent years in an effort to prop up a threatened species that’s highly vulnerable to climate change, researchers discovered." Well fuck.

"Officials reported Thursday that the Osiris-Rex spacecraft collected 121.6 grams (4.29 ounces) of dust and pebbles from asteroid Bennu. That’s just over half a cup and the biggest cosmic haul ever from beyond the moon."

"In fact, buprenorphine prescriptions for adolescents were declining as overdose deaths for 10-19-year-olds more than doubled. These overdoses, combined with accidental opioid poisonings among young children, have become the third leading cause of death for U.S. children." The staunch "cold turkey" brigade strikes again.

"As part of a growing effort among museums to reevaluate the curation of human remains, the Ivy League school laid some of the remains to rest last week, specifically those identified as belonging to 19 Black Philadelphians. Officials held a memorial service for them on Saturday... The university says it is trying to begin rectifying past wrongs. But some community members feel excluded from the process, illustrating the challenges that institutions face in addressing institutional racism."

"Yet in the United States, the economy motored ahead in last year’s fourth quarter for a sixth straight quarter of growth. It’s blown past many predictions coming into last year that a recession seemed inevitable because of high interest rates meant to slow the economy and inflation." Yes, our economy is doing very well, but this inflation being driven by corporate greed is really hurting. This is why we have governments, to protect our collective needs.

"Amazon is arguing in a legal filing that the 88-year-old National Labor Relations Board is unconstitutional, echoing similar arguments made this year by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and the grocery store chain Trader Joe’s in disputes about workers’ rights and organizing." The neo-gilded-age barons are upset that your puny labor issues might affect their whole pillaging of the American economy.

"And so, the same state that questioned Mayron’s fitness to care for her four children forced her to continue a pregnancy that risked her life to have a fifth, one that would require more intensive care than any of the others… Tennessee already had some of the worst outcomes in the nation when measuring maternal health, infant mortality and child poverty. Lawmakers who paved the way for a new generation of post-Roe births did little to bolster the state’s meager safety net to support these babies and their families."

And in "when you only have a hammer, everything is a nail" news… "In a video that has gone viral on social media this week both for its absurdity and terrifying implications, Deputy Jesse Hernandez hears an acorn drop onto his car. In response, he dramatically rolls on the ground while repeatedly shouting 'shots fired!' and unloading his sidearm into the vehicle, shattering its back window."

"Jackson County's Office of the Juvenile Officer charged two people under 18 with gun charges and resisting arrest on Thursday, in connection with the shooting at the end of the Chiefs parade and rally at Union Station... Police believe the shooting occurred because of a dispute, and not because of terrorism or extremism." Ah the "more guns make us a politer society" gang strikes again.

"The family of a disabled undergraduate who killed herself on the day of a 'truly terrifying' oral exam have won the latest stage of a legal battle to compel universities to take more care of students struggling with their mental health."

"Ukraine’s military chief said early Saturday that he’s withdrawing troops from the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, where outnumbered defenders battled a Russian assault for four months."

"(Ukrainian) Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov said that Russian troops have been communicating over the Starlink system 'for quite a long time' and acquired the terminals from private Russian firms that purchased them from intermediaries." Remember when Musk cut off Starlink access when Ukrainian troops crossed into Russian held territories on the eastern edge and southward toward Crimea? It's almost like Starling can pinpoint the ground stations with great accuracy and turn individual systems off. When they want to.

"The death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a penal colony in Russia's Arctic north was shocking, but hardly surprising... For years, critics and opponents of Russian leader Vladimir Putin have fallen victim to shootings, poisoning with radioactive or nerve agents, or have plunged to their deaths from open windows." We all knew it was coming.

"Russia is trying to develop a nuclear space weapon that would destroy satellites by creating a massive energy wave when detonated, potentially crippling a vast swath of the commercial and government satellites that the world below depends on to talk on cell phones, pay bills, and surf the internet, according to three sources familiar with US intelligence about the weapon." And this is why we had treaties that the Trump Administration helped Putin dismantle. Also, it's not that hard, it's called a halo burst, and it is one of the first strike scenarios we've had on the books since the 70s.

"State lawyers said at the trial that LaPierre, who announced his resignation just days before the trial opened in early January, billed the NRA more than $11 million for private jet flights and spent more than $500,000 on eight trips to the Bahamas over a three-year span. They also say he authorized $135 million in NRA contracts for a vendor whose owners showered him with free trips to the Bahamas, Greece, Dubai and India, and gave him access to a 108-foot (33-meter) yacht." No no no, bribery and corruption are only done by those brown people.

"The Texas National Guard will expand its presence on the border in the form of a new operations center in Maverick County that can house more than 2,000 soldiers... Gov. Greg Abbott announced the construction of a base camp, which will be built on 80 acres of property near the banks of the Rio Grande, Friday afternoon." The problem with playing the tough guy is that you always have to one up the other person, do one better. It's a never ending cycle.

"Prosecutors say Smirnov falsely told FBI agents in 2020 that executives associated with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in bribes in 2015 or 2016 to protect the company from investigators... The indictment also alleges that Smirnov repeated false claims when interviewed by the FBI last year and changed some of his story."

"A man expected to be a key witness for lawyers trying to get Fani Willis disqualified from the Georgia election interference case against Donald Trump instead refused to answer most of their questions on Friday, citing attorney-client privilege during the second day of a hearing that sometimes bordered on theater."

"The Friday decision from Judge Arthur Engoron orders Trump and his flagship organization to pay the bulk of that amount: almost $355 million. Trump's two sons and co-defendants, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., are each liable for $4 million. Allen Weisselberg, a former Trump Organization executive, is liable for $1 million. The total is even higher with interest — more than $450 million overall, according to the attorney general's office."

"The verdict in the civil fraud trial requires Trump to pay interest on some of the deal profits he has been ordered to give up. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case, said the interest payments totaled $99 million and would “continue to increase every single day until it is paid."

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Linkee-poo Valentines Day 2024

Bob Edwards, and so it goes.

"This year, Patronick – who lives in Hanover – hopes to do the same for other people who’ve suffered that kind of loss. On Wednesday, she plans to drive all over the Upper Valley, hand-delivering cards and roses to around 30 widows and widowers... She said she doesn’t have all the answers. She just wants people to know that someone else understands what they’re going through." Thinking about friends in similar situations.

"With Arctic sea ice shrinking from climate change, many polar bears have to shift their diets to land during parts of the summer. A study looking at Hudson Bay polar bears tries to figure out if they can keep up their roly-poly figure, which is what’s needed and found that an overwhelming number of them are dropping the pounds no matter what they do to try to beef up their weight."

"Nearly half of the world's already threatened migratory species have declining populations, the first of its kind U.N. report found. More than a fifth of the nearly 1,200 migratory species monitored by the U.N. – whales, sea turtles, apes, songbirds and others – are threatened with extinction."

"The debate is focused on the Uniform Determination of Death Act, a law that was adopted by most states in the 1980s. The law says that death can be declared if someone has experienced 'irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain.'... But some parts of the brain can continue to function in people who have been declared brain dead, prompting calls to revise the statute."

"A scientific paper that raised concerns about the safety of the abortion pill mifepristone was retracted by its publisher this week. The study was cited three times by a federal judge who ruled against mifepristone last spring. That case, which could limit access to mifepristone throughout the country, will soon be heard in the Supreme Court."

"In December, the House passed a bill that included a provision requiring Medicare to pay the same rates for medical infusions, like chemotherapy and many treatments for autoimmune conditions, regardless of whether they're done in a doctor's office or clinic owned by a hospital or by a different entity. The policy, known as site-neutral payment, has sparked a ferocious lobbying battle in the Senate, not the first of its kind, with hospitals determined to kill such legislation."

"Gov. Jim Pillen reversed himself and announced today/Monday that Nebraska will participate in the so-called 'Summer EBT' food program for kids from low-income families."

"For Perić, knowing that enslaved people lived and are buried in her neighborhood is haunting, she says. She's in synergy with Chapman about the goals, she says, 'to bring back that sense of dignity and humanity to people who never received it in their lifetime.'"

Instead of a snow day, NYC schools tried to do it all remotely. "Unfortunately for (Mayor) Adams, the plan didn’t go so well: Many students, teachers and administrators were unable to log in to their accounts — a problem that city officials blamed on a technology contractor."

"A 45-year-old man was arrested in the theft of a bronze Jackie Robinson statue that was cut off at the ankles and found days later smoldering in a trash can in a city park in Kansas, police announced Tuesday." Sure sounds like he was going to sell it for scrap. Not.

"House Republicans having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time are determined Tuesday to try again with a do-over vote to punish the Biden administration over its handling of the migrant crisis at the U.S-Mexico border." A do-over? I'mma not a parlimentarian, but I'm pretty sure that's not how business is supposed to go.

But they did it anyway. "The U.S. House voted Tuesday to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, with the Republican majority determined to punish the Biden administration over its handling of the U.S-Mexico border after failing last week in a politically embarrassing setback."

"Trump has yet to secure the GOP’s presidential nomination and just last week, he and current (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel privately agreed that no major changes would take place until after South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary. But that didn’t stop Trump from announcing Monday on social media that he wants McDaniel to be replaced by Michael Whatley, the North Carolina GOP chairman. The new co-chair, Trump said, should be his daughter-in-law Lara Trump."

"Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday began debate on legislation to restrict assistance with absentee ballot applications." Let the season of election interference begin.

"The lawsuit by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club zeroes in on the manual’s instructions on operating ballot drop-off locations and preventing voter intimidation, saying the provisions are unconstitutional because they try to restrict protected speech. The group says the restrictions in the manual released in December by Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes’ office put people at risk to criminal prosecution for monitoring drop boxes and polling locations."

How's that Jan 6 as a "peaceful protest" narrative coming along? "Newly unearthed footage from Jan. 6, 2021, appears to show a rioter — a man identified in an NBC News story nearly two years ago — firing a gun into the air outside the Capitol during the attack."

"Former President Donald Trump said America would not defend NATO allies against Russia if they did not meet his definition of contributing enough defense spending, threatening to upend the alliance if elected president again in 2024." Yeah, he did that in 2017 as well.

"Former President Donald Trump on Saturday questioned why Nikki Haley’s husband wasn’t on the campaign trail, drawing sharp responses from both the former U.N. ambassador and her husband, who is currently abroad on a National Guard mission... 'What happened to her husband?' Trump told a crowd in Conway, South Carolina, as he and Haley held events across the state ahead of its Feb. 24 Republican primary. 'Where is he? He’s gone. He knew. He knew.'" What did he know? This doesn't even make any sense.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Linkee-poo Feb 10

"When Rachael Kay Albers was shopping around her book proposal, the editors at a Big Five publishing house loved the idea. The problem came from the marketing department, which had an issue: She didn’t have a big enough following. With any book, but especially nonfiction ones, publishers want a guarantee that a writer comes with a built-in audience of people who already read and support their work and, crucially, will fork over $27 — a typical price for a new hardcover book — when it debuts." The "artist as self-promoter" article all the cool kids were talking about. There's some things about "brand" in here and it makes me crazy because people misunderstand. But what I've just come to realize that for these people "brand" has the connotation of "commodification", and with that I'll agree. Do not become your product, do not create a brand around one product, but especially do not become the product (unless you intentionally want to be famous). There's a lot of mixing concepts and bemoaning the "current state of affairs," but having made a 30+ year career on my creativity I'm left with this; it's the same as it ever was.

"In a paper published today in the journal Antiquity, researchers report finding a cache of Roman-era black henbane from the first century C.E. hidden within the hollows of a goat or sheep bone from the Netherlands. Medical uses of the plant are described in Roman texts, but the find shows its powers were known even on the far fringes of the empire." One pill makes you larger…

"'They thought they were doing good but it made people worse': why mental health apps are under scrutiny." And not only do they have worse outcomes, there is a real privacy concern here. This is my shocked face.

"The European Union pumped out 8% less carbon dioxide from the fossil fuels it burned in 2023 than it did in 2022, the Guardian can reveal, pushing these emissions down to their lowest level in 60 years." While growing the economy. It's almost like the fossil fuel companies and lobbyists were lying to us the whole time. Okay, yeah, milder weather and Russia's fuckery with natural gas prices helped.

But then… "A nationwide analysis by USA TODAY shows local governments are banning green energy faster than they’re building it… At least 15% of counties in the U.S. have effectively halted new utility-scale wind, solar, or both, USA TODAY found. These limits come through outright bans, moratoriums, construction impediments and other conditions that make green energy difficult to build."

"A recent study claiming to describe more than 1,600 possible cases of a 'socially contagious syndrome' was retracted in June for failing to obtain ethics approval from an institutional review board. The survey examined 'rapid-onset gender dysphoria,' a proposed condition that attributes adolescent gender distress to exposure to transgender people through friends or social media. The existence of such a syndrome has been the subject of intense debate for the past several years and has fueled arguments against transgender rights reforms, despite being widely criticized by medical experts." Funny, I seem to remember the same bullshit being said about gays back in the 80s. Hell, it was even a joke on the show Friends.

"'It appears this all stems from a post made earlier this week by Chaya Raichik and her "Libs of TikTok" account,' Dvorak wrote in a report to her superiors… Raichik, 29, is not accused of making any bomb threats in Iowa or anywhere else. But about a day and a half before authorities responded to the threat at Coralville’s Northwest Junior High, Raichik posted that the school offers a 'pornographic' book in its library that 'teaches kids about gay sex.'" It's like there's some sort of connection here, like this stochastic terrorism is actually coordinated and directed in a roundabout way.

And then… "A man in the US state of New Mexico has pleaded guilty to helping a defeated Republican candidate carry out drive-by shootings at the home of Democrats… The defendant, Demetrio Trujillo, says the candidate, Solomon Peña, hired him after failing to win a seat in the state legislature in November 2022."

"That’s how things seemed in Pennridge until November’s school board election, when all five open seats were won by Democrats—a stunning turnaround in a district with a more than 3:2 Republican advantage. A week later, another page in an emerging playbook for fighting back was more quietly revealed, when a group of Pennridge community members charged that the policies Pennridge had adopted weren’t just partisan, but violated civil rights law, in a federal complaint that could have implications far beyond Bucks County." Yes, there is a playbook for right-wing takes of school boards. Yes this is coordinated. Yes it is well funded.

"A Utah high school student needs police protection after a state school board member publicly singled out and suggested the student was transgender — without evidence — inciting threats from her followers on social media… Natalie Cline later apologized — but not before many commenters personally attacked the player, the student’s school district had to provide extra security for her, and the lawmaker who wrote the state’s anti-transgender athlete bill weighed in sharing private information possibly in violation of her own measure." It's not like a lot of people said exactly this would happen. Parents are calling out girls for being transgender who aren't. It'll all come down to, "who is girly like enough." Also note there is absolutely no talk of preventing trans boys from playing on boys teams. It's almost like this is really about Title IX than anything else.

There' petty crime and then there's… "A radio station in Alabama was forced to go silent after thieves stole its 200-foot radio tower and other equipment from a building… The station, WJLX, sent a landscaping crew to the site Friday morning for spring cleaning, only to find the 200-foot radio tower gone. When a crew member called the station’s general manager to break the news, he was in disbelief."

"Prosecutors released new footage of a viral attack on two police officers that appears to conflict with police accounts of their initial interaction with a group of migrants that quickly escalated into a melee that triggered nationwide outrage." In any other profession falsifying an official document is grounds for immediate termination. But police just keep doing it.

"Tax revenues are expected to rise by as much as $561 billion from 2024 to 2034, thanks to stepped-up enforcement made possible with money from the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, which became law in August 2022." It's almost like Democrats know what they're doing and the GOP has been stonewalling actual progress to benefit their rich friends this whole time.

"Elon Musk suffered one of the biggest legal losses in U.S. history this week when the Tesla CEO was stripped of his $56 billion pay package in a case brought by an unlikely opponent, a former heavy metal drummer." Couldn't have happened to a better guy.

"A sizable portion of right-wing media has recently become obsessed with the conspiracy theory that Swift and her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce is a 'psy-op' to influence NFL fans and the singer’s supporters to vote for President Joe Biden later this year. Others in right-wing media are now recognizing the absurdity of these claims and questioning why their colleagues are spreading them instead of focusing on issues that are important to voters ahead of the 2024 presidential election." Whackaloon quotient sky-high.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Linkee-poo February 1

"A new study, published in the journal Science Advances, Wednesday, finds that hot droughts have become more prevalent and severe across the western U.S. as a result of human-caused climate change." We're boned.

"A prized statue of Jackie Robinson was stolen from a public park in Kansas, spurring a police search Friday and outrage across the city of Wichita... The statue honors the first player to break Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947. Surveillance video was released of two people hauling the sculpture away in the dark. Wichita police said in a Facebook post that it went missing Thursday morning." I would like to think this is just about the bronze resale value, but I have a feeling it is not.

"While St. Patrick has long been the saint most identified with Ireland, Brigid has gained a growing following in the 21st century. Devotees draw inspiration from Brigid the saint — and from Brigid the ancient pagan goddess, whose name and attributes she shares — as emblematic of feminine spirituality and empowerment. This comes amid growing disenchantment with the patriarchal and historically dominant Catholic Church."

"New clues have emerged in what is one of the greatest mysteries of all time: the disappearance of legendary American aviator Amelia Earhart… Deep Sea Vision, an ocean exploration company based in South Carolina, announced Saturday that it captured compelling sonar images of what could be Earhart's aircraft at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean."

"When big-headed ants (Pheidole megacephala) invade the savanna, they kill off native acacia ants (genus Crematogaster), robbing local whistling thorn trees of their valiant defenders against hungry elephants. Without ants to bite them, the elephants rip up the thorn trees, opening up the grassland, which makes it harder for lions to catch their preferred zebra meals. Lions end up hunting buffalo instead. The findings, published online January 25 in Science, show that invasive species’ effects can be very indirect — and suggest that changes in different low-level mutualisms might also echo up food webs in other ecosystems."

"'Based on what we learned through this study, as well as the existing research, we recommend that most people avoid dieting, unless it is medically necessary. Our study also offers insights into how people can combat insidious aspects of weight cycling and challenge the cycle.'" The study is based on those who felt social pressure to lose weight, which can lead to slightly different outcomes. Also note that the number of people in the study is very small. But, if you want to lose weight, a "diet" is one of the worst ways to do it. Once you are on a diet, you are always on a diet. Eat less, exercise more. When I am able to stick to that, I lose weight. My main problem is that 1) I love food, 2) I'm a stress eater, 3) my life has a lot of stress, and 4) my work is a toxic food environment (most people bring snacks to share, because surprise, we're all stressed).

"The issue made headlines this week, as bogus pornographic images purporting to show pop superstar Taylor Swift proliferated on X (formerly known as Twitter), Telegram and elsewhere. Many postings were removed, but not before some of them racked up millions of views." The conservatives have a weird obsession with Taylor Swift. There are now major conspiracies that the NFL contrived to make the Chiefs win the Superb Owl (SIC) and at the end of the game, Taylor will be on field and announce Biden's re-election campaign, or just taking power by fiat. It keeps changing. We're going to have to launch satellites to measure this elections season's wackaloon quotient.

"The Biden administration has temporarily frozen consideration of new natural gas export facilities. The Department of Energy will now review the long-term implications of the facilities on climate change, and ultimately decide if they serve the public interest... Currently, there are 17 planned projects awaiting permits — all now delayed by the administration's decision. The pause doesn't affect more than a dozen plants that are already operating, or that are under construction or have received permits. Nor will it halt the export of gas."

"Questions about the possibility of a low-level regional war in the Middle East are rising after attacks there have escalated in the past 24 hours… On Sunday, an aerial drone strike killed three United States service members and injured at least 34 others. The strike happened at a support base known as Tower 22 in northeast Jordan near the Syrian border and likely hit a barracks."

"Employees from a Ukrainian arms firm conspired with defense ministry officials to embezzle almost $40 million earmarked to buy 100,000 mortar shells for the war with Russia, Ukraine’s security service reported."

"A Black man who was detained by police during an early morning walk in a quiet community northwest of Detroit says the white officer who threw him against a squad car, cuffed him and accused him of planning to break into a car also told a significant lie."

"Legislative efforts in Missouri and Mississippi are attempting to prevent voters from having a say over abortion rights, building on anti-abortion strategies seen in other states, including last year in Ohio."

"If presidential approval numbers are not perfect predictors of an incumbent's reelection, is there something else that is? Observers have long sought the True North by which to set their compass and their expectations." I dunno, maybe news should get out of the prognostication racket and maybe shift their focus away from horserace statistics.

"Myers says she also felt compelled to serve after Donald Trump and his supporters baselessly attacked the integrity of Fulton County's 2020 election and the people who ran it, including two Black women who endured threats and harassment once Trump and others falsely accused them of election fraud." Never mess with the Aunties.

"U.S. officials have told NPR that the dip is related to a series of meetings in late December between the Mexican government and White House officials regarding immigration enforcement. Nothing official was announced following the meetings — in fact Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador publicly criticized U.S. immigration policy after the meetings, saying that only addressing the root causes of migration (poverty, violence, repression) can work... But, official sources have told NPR that the Mexican National Guard is ramping up its enforcement. Suddenly, you can see them from Jacumba on the other side of the border fence."

"Activist who led ouster of Harvard president linked to ‘scientific racism’ journal… The rightwing activist Christopher Rufo has links to a self-styled “sociobiology magazine” that is focused on the supposed relationships between race, intelligence and criminality, and which experts have characterized as an outlet for scientific racism." Ah, I see we've arrived fully in the "find out" section of the equation. First his wife is found out to have more egregiously plagiarized in her academic papers, and now his background is coming out.

"House Republicans on Sunday released two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as they vowed to swiftly push forward with election-year efforts to oust the Cabinet member over what they call his failure to manage the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats and the agency slammed the move as a politically motivated stunt lacking the constitutional basis to remove him from office."

"But, Eisen said, 'the wise thing to do at this point is for Mr. Wade to voluntarily end his time on this case.' Even though he is not legally required to do so, Eisen said, 'at this point, the conversation about these issues has become a distraction' from the 'overwhelming amount of evidence justifying the decision to prosecute Mr. Trump and his co-conspirators.'"

"In Taiwan, the response to disinformation was swift. Fact-checking groups debunked the rumors, while the Central Election Commission held a news conference to push back on claims of electoral discrepancies. Influencers like @FroggyChiu with more than 600,000 subscribers also put out explainers on YouTube explaining how votes are tallied." It takes coordination, preparedness, and a quick reaction to work.

"As Trump steamrolls to the nomination, there are ample questions in GOP circles about how – and whether – Trump can rebuild Senate alliances that were critical in his first term but are nonexistent now. The lack of relationship has become abundantly clear in recent days as Trump has publicly and privately lobbied rank-and-file senators and House GOP leaders to kill a major immigration and Ukraine deal that McConnell has worked for months to secure in the Senate."