Linkee-poo Tuesday April 20

Walter Mondale, and so it goes.

"A Humana Inc. health plan for seniors in Florida improperly collected nearly $200 million in 2015 by overstating how sick some patients were, according to a new federal audit, which seeks to claw back the money… The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General's recommendation to repay, if finalized, would be "by far the largest" audit penalty ever imposed on a Medicare Advantage company, said Christopher Bresette, an HHS assistant regional inspector general." Oopsie. Also note, this audit has a lot of grey areas, in some cases Medicare underpaid. It was the overall effect that Medicare overpaid. And the majority of the issues here are the billing codes and if the diagnosis matched to the billing code. This is a HUGE concern in medical care billing. But, again, privatization of government is, in general, a Bad Idea™.

"A couple of doses of a psychedelic drug may treat depression as well as one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, a small and short study published Wednesday shows… A Phase 2 clinical trial, conducted by researchers in London, was the first randomized trial to compare therapeutic doses of psilocybin — the psychedelic compound found in so-called magic mushrooms — with a daily medication. The results were released in The New England Journal of Medicine." For a long time I've been on the opposite side of this, but they're convincing me.

"The U.S. State Department on Monday announced plans to expand travel advisories, urging U.S. citizens to stay home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose 'unprecedented risks' around the globe."

"The risk of surface transmission of Covid-19 is low, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. Far more important is airborne transmission -- and people who obsessively disinfect surfaces may be doing more harm than good." Ta-da! But note there is a window of infectiousness that it is important to clean surfaces, and that window of time is before a person shows symptoms. Kind of a conundrum, ain't it.

"Before the Vietnam War there was a law that banned women from reporting on the frontlines of any war for the U.S. When President Johnson refused to officially declare a state of war in Vietnam, an opening appeared: no war, no ban. A handful of pioneering women bought one-way tickets into the battlefield. They had no editors, no health insurance and little or no formal training. This week, Brooke spoke about this time to reporter Elizabeth Becker, formerly a Washington Post war correspondent in Cambodia, NPR's foreign editor and then national security correspondent for the New York Times. Becker is the author of a new book: You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War."

"The Biden administration is ordering U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to change how they talk about immigrants… The terms 'illegal alien' and 'assimilation' are out — replaced by 'undocumented noncitizen' and 'integration.'" Words are important.

"It has meant that once a decade, states have had to face the prospect of joining a list of winners and losers after those House seats are reshuffled based on how the states' latest census population counts rank. How those seats are reassigned also plays a key role in presidential elections. Each state's share of Electoral College votes is determined by adding its number of House seats to its two Senate seats."

"When groups of sinister drones began hovering over homes in America’s Midwest, the FBI, US Air Force and 16 police forces set up a task force. But the drones vanished. Did they even exist?"

"First Amendment groups are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make public major decisions authorizing government surveillance, opinions that until now have remained almost secret… For years, the ACLU and other groups have maintained that the public has a First Amendment right to see major decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, decisions that authorize everything from surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists to metadata mining aimed at ferreting out potential terrorist plots, including those that involve contacts between foreigners and American citizens." This would be a huge win for transparency of government.

"Former President George W. Bush described the modern-day GOP as 'isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist' in an interview Tuesday that was packed with implicit criticism of the most recent Republican president… 'It’s not exactly my vision' for the party, Bush told NBC’s 'Today' show in a rare live TV appearance. 'But, you know, I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture.'" Hey, GW, no real acknowledgement on how you used that to gain power and, while you did try to modify it a little while president, on the whole you went in deep in this territory and took the party with you. As my friend Jim Wright says, "All the self-awareness of a dog licking it's own asshole in public."

"The American ambassador to Russia is returning to Washington for 'consultations' after a new round of sanctions imposed on Moscow last week by President Biden, including the expulsion of 10 U.S. diplomats – a move quickly followed by reciprocal measures from the Kremlin… A brief statement from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Tuesday announced that Ambassador John Sullivan was returning to the U.S. this week after his Russian counterpart was recalled amid increasingly strained relations between the two countries."

"Trumbull County man says he’s an angel, arrested at stranger’s house claiming to rid it of demons." Whackaloon quotient is still sky-high.

"A federal judge on Monday ordered two alleged leaders of the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys detained pending trial on conspiracy and other charges tied to the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol."

"U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who engaged with pro-Trump rioters during the Jan. 6 insurrection, died of natural causes the day after the attack, Washington, D.C.'s chief medical examiner announced Monday."

"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is introducing a resolution to censure Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, after she encouraged protesters in Minnesota to 'stay on the street' and 'get more confrontational' if they don't see a guilty verdict returned in the Derek Chauvin trial regarding the death of George Floyd."

"Florida's governor has signed a law that he called the "strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement measure in the country." The law was written in response to protests around the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. It provides new protections for police and increases the penalties for people who take part in property damage or violence during protests." Making "seeking redress" a crime. Not only is it an attack on citizen rights, it's an attack on home rule. My guess is it won't withstand Constitutional scrutiny.

"After weeks of talks with corporate executives of some of the state’s largest companies, Georgia faith leaders will officially call for a boycott of Home Depot on Tuesday claiming the company has not done enough to oppose the state’s new voting law."

"Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema posted a photo of herself brandishing a ring that read 'F*** Off' a little over a month after she voted against a measure to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour." Assholes are asshole no matter what party they belong to.

"Former aides to former President Donald Trump are reportedly looking back at the end of his term as a major missed opportunity to encourage his supporters to get vaccinated against COVID-19." Oh there's a lot more for them to be upset about.

Linkee-poo Monday April 19

"NASA's Ingenuity helicopter has made the first-ever powered flight on another planet, 117 years after the Wright Brothers' historic flight on this planet… The flight itself was modest. The 4-pound helicopter rose 10 feet in the air, hovered briefly, and returned to the Martian surface. An images taken from the craft showed Ingenuity's shadow on the surface and another taken from the Perseverance rover showed an airborne Ingenuity."

"Starship SN15 is expected to undergo a Static Fire test as early as Tuesday to clear the path for a test flight no earlier than Wednesday as SpaceX’s rapidly reusable interplanetary launch and landing system gained a massive sign of NASA approval – and a ton of government cash to boot… SpaceX was the sole winner of NASA’s initial Human Landing System (HLS) award worth in total more than $2.9 billion, meaning the human return to the Moon’s surface will be via Starship."

"An 'out of control' fire is burning in Cape Town's Table Mountain National Park, damaging buildings and prompting the evacuation of hikers from the city's most famous landmark, South African officials said Sunday… Two firefighters were injured and admitted to the hospital and nine structures were destroyed in the blaze, Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, told CNN in an email on Sunday."

"The White House is hosting a two-day summit on climate change this week where leaders from 40 countries will discuss plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately reverse global warming… The summit highlights the United States' return to the Paris climate agreement, and it is the Biden administration's first major opportunity to reestablish the country as a trustworthy player in international climate diplomacy."

"More than 200 tons of fossilized giant clam shells, worth nearly $25 million, were seized in a joint law enforcement raid in the Philippines' province of Palawan Friday. The Philippine Coast Guard said the haul was the largest to date in the province."

"This has fuelled an incredibly lucrative trade in the endangered animals (sea cucumbers), one that has grown steadily in recent decades. In the 1980s, sea cucumbers fetched less than £50 a kilo; now prices have risen to more than £200 a kilo, with rarer species valued at more than £2,500 a kilo."

"A suspected poacher was killed by a herd of breeding elephants that he encountered while fleeing from park rangers, according to South African officials… Three people attempted to run away after they were spotted by rangers at the Kruger National Park, one of Africa's largest game reserves, on Saturday, South African National Parks officials said." Sometimes, senior, the bull no lose. Well, they were attempting to poach a rhino. They just ran the wrong way.

"The United States has reached another important milestone in the race to protect its population against the coronavirus, with more than a quarter of Americans now fully vaccinated against Covid-19… More than 84 million people -- roughly 25.4% of the population -- have been fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Sunday."

"Resuming the use of Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine in the United States will require clear guidelines for the medical community on how to best treat patients that develop a rare type of blood clot, as well as alerting vaccine recipients to be aware of the telltale symptoms, according to heart doctors and other medical experts."

"Otters at an aquarium in Atlanta have tested positive for Covid-19 but are expected to make full recoveries… 'They began exhibiting mild respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, runny noses, mild lethargy, and some began coughing,' the Georgia Aquarium said in a statement… The aquarium said the Asian small-clawed otters are doing well." The more animals the virus can infect, the more chances it has to mutate.

"Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, has reached a new deal with reduced tax breaks for its scaled back manufacturing facility in southeast Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers and the the company announced on Monday."

"Authorities are looking for whoever opened fire at a tavern in southeast Wisconsin overnight, killing three people and seriously wounding two others, the Kenosha County sheriff said… Gunfire broke out both inside and outside the The Somers House tavern around 12:40 a.m. Sunday, Sheriff David G. Beth said."

"Vandals threw a pig's head at the onetime home of a former California police officer who was a defense witness for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer accused of killing George Floyd, police said."

"A manhunt was underway Sunday for a former sheriff’s deputy wanted in the fatal shooting of three people in Austin, Texas, as an official said it wasn’t known if the suspect was still in the city."

"The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a Kentucky man whose pickup truck was seized at the Mexican border and held by the federal government for more than two years." Property seizure laws need reforming.

"Flexible hours for working parents, daycare centers at the office, equal pay. Between the 1960s and 1980s, there was a real sense that big workplace changes were just beyond the horizon… At the time a very common job for women was clerical work. And in 1973, a group of secretaries in Boston formed a women's labor organization. They called themselves the '9to5.'" The Planet Money podcast on the making of "9 to 5" and how workers gained rights and then lost them.

"From the Johnson & Johnson pause to talk of “break-through cases” among the already-vaccinated, we’re facing an onslaught of dispiriting and confusing vaccine news. On this week’s On The Media, a guide to separating the facts from the noise. Plus, why pro-labor journalists got the story of an Amazon warehouse union drive so wrong. And, how media coverage of labor movements has morphed over the past century."

"The Czech Republic said on Sunday it had informed NATO and European Union allies about suspected Russian involvement in a 2014 ammunition depot explosion and the matter would be addressed at an E.U. foreign ministers' meeting on Monday… The central European country expelled 18 Russian embassy staff on Saturday over the issue and said investigations had linked Russian intelligence to the explosion, which killed two people."

"The Justice Department said Friday that a Nazi sympathizer who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 poses a threat to Jewish residents in his native New Jersey and therefore shouldn't be released from jail." Wow, all these stories about the economically concerned… okay, I can't even finish that joke. Fucking Nazis are involved, you say?

"Conservative Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is scrapping the planned launch of her "America First" caucus after receiving blowback from leaders in her own party, despite confirming through a spokesperson on Friday that the caucus would launch… Nick Dyer, Greene's spokesperson, told CNN in an email on Saturday afternoon the Georgia Republican is not 'launching anything.'" Such disingenuous bullshit. Uh uh, I didn't write it, I didn't even read it before :: checks notes :: she threw her full support behind it and said it was her idea.

"Rep. Maxine Waters on Sunday said she told GOP Rep. Jim Jordan to 'shut your mouth' during a hearing last week because the Ohio lawmaker was not respecting other lawmakers on the panel and was bullying the panel’s witness, Dr. Anthony Fauci… The brief exchange between the California Democrat and Jordan (R-Ohio), which took place during a House coronavirus subcommittee hearing, quickly became a viral video clip. In it, Jordan repeatedly seeks to question the top infectious disease doctor after his time expires." Well, she said that after she reminded Rep. Jordan that his time had expired.

"Win or lose, California Republicans are hoping a campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom could broaden their path out of the wilderness… A once-mighty party in the state that produced Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has struggled for years to reverse a spiral into irrelevancy. Republicans hold no statewide offices, have been relegated to a super-minority in the state Legislature, are consistently outspent by a well-funded California Democratic Party machine and lag registered Democrats by nearly five million voters. They hold just 11 House seats in a 53-member delegation — and that's only after clawing back four last year."

Linkee-poo Saturday April 17

"The announcement marks the country's renewed commitment to the Paris accord, the international climate change agreement that former President Donald Trump withdrew from. Environmental groups, scientists and major business leaders are urging the Biden administration to cut emissions 50% by 2030, as compared to 2005 levels."

"Both doctors attributed the rise in hospital visits of teens and young adults, at least in part, to B.1.1.7, the coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K. that public health officials say is now the most common strain circulating in the U.S. The variant is highly contagious, thought to be about 60% more transmissible than the original strain of the virus."

"In the U.S., more than 1 out of every 5 residents is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The U.S. and several other wealthy nations, including Canada and many European Union member states, are on track to vaccinate most of their populations by mid-2022, according to a report from The Economist… But elsewhere in the world, vaccination rates are much lower. The entire continent of Africa, for example, has administered just 2% of the world's vaccine doses so far. Some poor nations including Haiti have yet to receive a single vaccine dose."

"The Chinook Indian Nation has about 3,000 members who mostly live near the mouth of the Columbia River in southwest Washington. But they're not on the list of federally recognized tribes — so they get nothing from the Indian Health Service." On our uneven system.

"The Biden administration will send $1.7 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and state governments and other research efforts, starting early next month to find and track coronavirus variants lurking in the United States… The U.S. has been flying blind in the race between vaccination efforts and the spread of new coronavirus variants that could potentially spark another deadly nationwide surge and reduce effectiveness of the vaccines. U.S. public health officials have been operating with incomplete information because of an inadequate viral genomics surveillance system."

"In South Africa, the government tried to control the COVID-19 outbreak by banning booze to keep people from gathering. Plus, sober South Africans were less likely to violently protest a complete lockdown… There was an immediate public health benefit that had nothing to do with COVID-19. Suddenly, emergency rooms were empty, devoid of alcohol-related accidents… But the ban also exposed the country's complicated and painful history with alcohol." This is more of an economic story about South Africa's alcohol industry, and a changing societal acceptance of alcohol.

"Activists in Chicago are calling for the resignation of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown following the release of bodycam footage that shows an officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo, CBS Chicago reported… Protesters marched throughout the city Thursday after the city's police oversight agency released footage of the fatal shooting on March 29 in the Little Village neighborhood. They criticized Lightfoot's slow response to release information, including the officer's name, throughout the week."

"A sixth night of protests over Daunte Wright’s killing in Brooklyn Center began Friday as a peaceful demonstration and march — and quickly dispersed after law enforcement descended on several hundred protesters a few hours later."

"Minneapolis is bracing for what comes next as the prosecution and defense in Derek Chauvin's murder trial are set to give closing arguments on Monday. The jury will then be sequestered and deliberate, before announcing a verdict."

"Police in Portland, Oregon, said they used pepper spray and smoke canisters to break up a crowd that gathered on Friday as they investigated the fatal shooting of a suspect by police in Lents Park… A suspect who has only been described as a White male was fatally shot in the morning by an officer responding to a report that a man was pointing a gun in the park, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said in a news release."

"The former employee who shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis was interviewed by FBI agents last year, after his mother called police to say that her son might commit 'suicide by cop,' the bureau said Friday."

"Liberty University is suing former president Jerry Falwell Jr. for millions of dollars, accusing him of withholding damaging personal information from school officials while negotiating a lucrative employment agreement for himself, among other allegations."

"Hackers believed to be directed by the Russian intelligence service, the SVR, used that routine software update to slip malicious code into Orion's software and then used it as a vehicle for a massive cyberattack against America." How the SolarWinds hack happened.

"Russia retaliated Friday over a new round of U.S. sanctions imposed a day ago by the Biden administration over the SolarWinds cyberattack and the Kremlin's election meddling… Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said 10 U.S. diplomats will be expelled from Russia, mirroring the 10 Russian diplomats ordered to leave the U.S. on Thursday. Moscow will also add eight U.S. officials to its sanctions list and will restrict the activities of U.S. nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, operating in Russia." Stay safe my Russian friends. Just remember, in this modern era you might think you're well behind the front lines and safe. There is no such thing now.

"Two Russian warships transited the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea on Saturday and 15 smaller vessels completed a transfer to the sea as Moscow beefs up its naval presence at a time of tense relations with the West and Ukraine."

"Russia’s FSB security service said it had detained a Ukrainian diplomat, accusing him of receiving sensitive information from a Russian national… In recent years Russia has detained a number of Ukrainian nationals on suspicion of spying but the detention of a diplomat is rare and seen as a sign of sharply rising tensions."

"The White House has walked back its announcement that it will keep this year's historically low refugee ceiling of 15,000 set by the Trump administration, saying its earlier statement Friday, which was panned by fellow Democrats, was meant only to ease restrictions from countries from which refugees are currently banned… The White House said President Biden would raise the cap by May 15." Good.

"Hard-right House Republicans on Friday were discussing forming an America First Caucus, which one document described as championing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' and warning that mass immigration was putting the 'unique identity' of the U.S. at risk." Racist is as racist does. So, apparently no Norman political traditions are allowed. I really hate to keep bringing this up, but 1066, people. I wonder if they'll allow Irish or dogs in?

"In at least 30 states nationwide, lawmakers have introduced bills aiming to keep transgender girls and women from participating on girls' and women's sports teams. These type of restrictions have become a major culture war battle, with Republican lawmakers being the loudest proponents of such bills, while Democrats often oppose them… But a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds that Republican voters aren't that enthusiastic about those proposed laws, even while they do have reservations about transgender sports participation." All of this is not about what is right or what is popular, it's about motivating the 30% hard conservative base. It's about the cruelty they crave.

"A federal judge is demanding that a Pennsylvania woman arrested for her alleged role in the Capitol riot, Rachel Powell, explain why a video of her circulating online shows her wearing a porous, mesh mask despite another judge’s order to comply with Covid mask requirements while she awaits trial… U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said Powell’s decision to wear the obviously noncompliant mask 'mocks' the initial requirement decreed by the court’s chief judge, Beryl Howell, soon after Powell’s release in February."

"A heavy metal musician and founding member of the Oath Keepers extremist group pleaded guilty Friday to charges connected to the storming of the U.S. Capitol and agreed to cooperate with investigators — a first in the massive probe into the deadly Jan. 6 assault… Jon Schaffer, a guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Iced Earth, entered his plea during a hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C. The plea agreement, which comes 100 days after a mob of Trump supporters violently overran the Capitol, marks a significant step for prosecutors in the case." As a part of the plea deal he is expected to cooperate with investigators and provide testimony.

Linkee-poo Friday April 16

"A gunman killed eight people and injured several others before killing himself in a late-night shooting at a FedEx facility near the Indianapolis airport, police said."

"Google Earth is already a powerful tool for observing our planet, but today it’s getting a major upgrade with the introduction of a new 3D time-lapse feature… Described by Google Earth director Rebecca Moore as the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017, Timelapse in Google Earth combines more than 24 million satellite photos, two petabytes of data, and 2 million hours of CPU processing time to create a 4.4-terapixel interactive view showing how the Earth has changed from 1984 to 2020." Pop goes the glacier.

"Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will “likely” need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. His comments were made public Thursday but were taped April 1… Bourla said it’s possible people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually." And how much will that cost us?

"The police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun, as the man struggled with police, the city’s police chief said Monday, as police clashed with protesters for the second night in a row." I'm not sure the situation even called for a Taser.

"Simon & Schuster said it only learned about the book to be published by its 'distribution client' Post Hill Press on Thursday. 'We have subsequently decided not be involved in the distribution of this book,' the publishing company said in a statement."

"Shoppers had better start budgeting more for their groceries, according to the latest consumer price index, which shows prices are increasing — and they're likely to keep going up… The monthly consumer price index, released Tuesday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed a 0.6 percent increase in March, the largest one-month increase in nearly a decade. Over the past year, prices have increased by 2.6 percent overall." Same as it ever was.

"Raul Castro is stepping down as the head of the Communist Party of Cuba, the most powerful position on the island, with few expectations of significant change among Cubans."

"When President Biden welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House on Friday, concerns about the competition posed by China will be front and center in the talks."

"Chuck Schumer is hatching plans to further evade the constraints of the filibuster — and in the process, he could be teaching Republicans how to do it in the future." SO you might as well reform the filibuster rules.

Linkee-poo Thursday April 15, former tax day

Bernie Madoff, and so it goes. Listed not because I like the guy, but because he is major news.

"But reducing emissions, even sharply, will not immediately fix the problems up in Earth's atmosphere. It took decades for greenhouse gases to accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat, and it will take centuries for those gases to dissipate once humans decide to stop pumping them into the air." And that is the major problem.

"Palaeontologists from Portsmouth University have been puzzled at how gigantic flying azhdarchid pterosaurs have managed to support their thin necks as they take off and fly while carrying heavy prey animals… But thanks to new CT scans of intact remains, discovered in Morocco, the mystery has been solved… The findings, published in iScience, show a complex image of spoke-like structures, arranged in a helix around a central tube inside the neck vertebra, similar to that of a bicycle wheel." I understand the infatuation with biomechanics, but evolution is a poor designer.

"Unlike other sites where NASA has sent rovers and landers - including the landing spot of the new Perseverance rover and its Mars helicopter - powerful gusts of wind have not been sweeping Elysium Planitia. These winds, called 'cleaning events,' are needed to blow the red Martian dust off the solar panels of NASA's robots. Without their help, a thick layer of dust has accumulated on InSight, and it's struggling to absorb sunlight."

"The US coast guard and multiple other boats have rescued six people from a commercial platform vessel that capsized off the coast of Louisiana in a sudden and severe storm on Tuesday night and are still searching for more, the agency said on Wednesday."

What's old is new again… "In 2000, syphilis rates were so low that public health officials believed eradication was on the horizon. But the rates started creeping up in 2001, grew steadily for the next two decades, then spiked 74% since 2015. There were nearly 130,000 cases nationwide in 2019, according to data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

"About 5,800 people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have become infected anyway, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNN… Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396 -- 7% -- of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization." Yes, vaccination is not 100% proof against disease. That's why a majority of people need to be vaccinated.

"Millions of Americans are battling lingering symptoms of COVID-19 — months after being diagnosed with the disease. An estimated 5 to 10% of COVID patients are "long haulers" who feel endlessly trapped in the virus' grip."

"Denmark has ceased giving the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine amid concerns about rare cases of blood clots, the first European country to do so fully… The move is expected to delay the country's vaccination programme by several weeks."

"But now Tennessee, like much of the nation, is finding that rural white residents need a little more coaxing to roll up their sleeves for the shot. This week, the state published results from a statewide survey, and a focus group of unvaccinated residents. More than 45% of white rural conservatives said they were unwilling to even consider taking the vaccine." Get the goddamn vaccine.

"Fowler testified that Floyd had 'so many conflicting potential mechanisms of death' that he considers the manner of death to be undetermined." You know, I'm willing to go with the cop kneeling on his neck pretty much caused his death.

"Signs of an economic boom are emerging as Americans open up their wallets to spend freely… Retail sales soared 9.8% in March, according to a report Thursday from the Commerce Department. The increase follows a 2.7% slump in February, which analysts blamed partly on severe winter weather… Hope about the economy was further reinforced after data showed the number of Americans filing new state unemployment claims last week dropped to 576,000, a decrease of 193,000 from the previous week." I wonder when they'll get to understanding that one of the new problems holding the economy back is the lack of things to buy as there are still many supply shortages and a distinct lack of supply in housing (and the price of wood is sky-high).

"The world is going to need more batteries. A lot more batteries… Every major automaker is preparing to pivot from gas and diesel cars to electric and hybrid ones. Ford F-150s and Kia crossovers, Volkswagen hatchbacks and BMW sedans: They'll all plug in instead of fill up. It's a remarkable transformation that will change the way we drive and shake up world energy markets."

"In his final letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday laid out a broad vision for the future of the company, committing to extend Amazon’s famous obsession over its customers to the same level of care for its employees." Or, in other words, "Got mine, you all need to do better, outta here, bitches." Note, at any time during his rise and tenure at the top of Amazon he could have initiated these "reforms" and "done better" for his employees.

"A court in Houston has authorized an FBI operation to “copy and remove” backdoors from hundreds of Microsoft Exchange email servers in the United States, months after hackers used four previously undiscovered vulnerabilities to attack thousands of networks… The Justice Department announced the operation on Tuesday, which it described as 'successful.'"

"President Biden is ordering a new round of economic sanctions on Russia — a response in part to Moscow's election meddling and a Kremlin-linked computer breach that penetrated numerous U.S. government networks… The sanctions are also meant to impose a penalty over Russia's continued occupation of Crimea, which it infiltrated and annexed from Ukraine seven years ago, and for reportedly offering bounties for attacks against U.S. and coalition military personnel in Afghanistan"

"President Joe Biden, having concluded there is no military solution to the security and political problems plaguing Afghanistan and determined to focus on more pressing national security challenges, will formally announce Wednesday that US troops will withdraw from the country before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, a senior administration official said." And so begins the conservative whinging parade, despite the fact that Trump wanted to pull out by this time.

"Spoiler: Washington won't reach consensus over what 'infrastructure' means. But Gillibrand's tweet gets at a different facet of that conversation: that infrastructure is a gender issue. And that idea is particularly important as the president pitches his plan as a salve for the pandemic-battered economy in which women, particularly women of color, have been left further behind." If you don't think daycare and family care are infrastructure then what exactly was the conservative push to get kids back in school so their parents could go back to work all about?

"The rules on ministers and top officials taking jobs with private firms need urgent reform, the government's adviser on them has said… Lord Pickles said there did not appear to be 'any boundaries at all' between civil servants and the private sector… It comes after news a top civil servant worked for Greensill Capital while still on the government payroll." I would be lying if I said that I didn't choose this article at least in part for "Lord Pickles."

"The Capitol Police ignored critical intelligence ahead of the Jan. 6th riot, including overlooking a warning that, “Congress itself is the target,” according to an internal watchdog report obtained by NBC News… The police force tasked with protecting the U.S. Capitol also lacked policies and procedures that left them severely unprepared to deal with the deadly insurrection, the 104-page report prepared by the Capitol Police’s inspector general found. The report has not been made public."

It's the Daily Beast, so take that for what it's worth… "The report, obtained by The New York Times ahead of a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday, confirms that officers were specifically instructed by their leaders not to use their most effective tactics to hold off the pro-Trump hordes."

"'We could lock down the building,' (Karen Gibson, newly appointed sergeant-at-arms for the U.S. Senate) says. 'We could keep the three-mile fence up with razor wire and National Guard. But that defeats the purpose of having the people's house that is available and open to constituents, to allowing school groups and tourists to come and, you know, frankly, marvel at the beauty and the history of this building.'"

"A geophysicist who allegedly beat police officers who were trying to help injured rioters during the US Capitol siege will be jailed before trial, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, citing the man's ham-handed attempt to flee to Switzerland as proof that he poses a literal flight risk… Judge Emmet Sullivan said Jeffrey Sabol was too dangerous to release due to the flight risk and because he might continue his fight against 'perceived tyranny' once he is out of jail."

"The first thing some of the women were asked to do when they got to the house parties in the gated community in suburban Orlando was to put away their cellphones, according to two women in attendance who spoke to CNN in recent days. The men inside, a who's who of local Republican officials that often included Rep. Matt Gaetz, did not want the night's activities documented… Details of the parties, which have not been previously reported, were described to CNN by two women who attended several of them over the past few years. Both spoke on condition of anonymity… The behavior of Gaetz and the other high-powered men at the events, and a pattern of digital payments that followed, will likely be items of interest to the Justice Department as part of its probe of Gaetz that includes allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution."

"The likely GOP candidates in Pennsylvania’s open Senate race come in three familiar flavors: anti-Trump, Trumpy and Trumpiest… Though President Donald Trump lost Pennsylvania in 2020 and will have been out of office for nearly two years by the time voters cast their ballots in the Senate election, the Republican primary here is already revolving around him — creating a potential dilemma for the GOP in one of the nation’s most important races next year."

"The most popular link on Facebook about the Johnson & Johnson news was shared by a conspiracy theorist and self-described "news analyst & hip-hop artist" named An0maly who thinks the pandemic is a cover for government control… It's a stark example of what experts warn could be a coming deluge of false and misleading information related to the one-shot vaccine." They're always opening new fronts in the information war. The American public is now primed for conspiracy and counterfactual information. Why? Oh, I don't know. ::cough "Former President Trump primed a portion of the country over the past few years to be skeptical of official sources of science information, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Tuesday, he released a statement that included a false conspiracy theory about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, claiming without evidence that the decision was made to benefit rival drug makers." cough::

Linkee-poo Wednesday April 14

Sorry, crazy days and work is picking up. So just a short one today.

"A standoff has emerged between the White House and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as federal health officials have rejected the governor's repeated requests for additional vaccine doses as her state experiences a surge in cases driven by the B.1.1.7 variant of Covid-19… Although President Joe Biden and Whitmer are close allies, the two now find themselves in the middle of an awkward impasse that's complicated by a global pandemic and national clamor for vaccines." While it may seem intuitive that as an area experiences a spike of cases that you'd want to surge vaccines in, it's not a good way to manage a nationwide vaccination program. Mostly because 1) the spike is already happening, people are already infected (and in the pipeline for more infections), 2) the vaccine takes 2 shots a month apart and then 2 weeks after the second shot you have full effectiveness (but you do have some limited protection about a week after the first shot), 3) you want to contain the outbreak by vaccinating around the spike, and 4) the best way to protect people is masks and social distancing, and you can do that right now (except when you have a political party ::coughRepublicanscough:: hell bent on making things as bad as possible and are telling people "FREEDOM - don't wear a mask"). Finally, it's going to be a close race to beat this disease (and right now, our odds aren't looking good), so if you start chasing spikes all you're going to be doing is stomping out housefires, meanwhile your whole city will burn to the ground because you should be focusing on the city burning and not just one building. That may sound cruel, and I have a lot of friends in Michigan, but vaccinations have almost zero chance of combating this spike (it's too late), but if done right can stop the next spike. If done wrong, it won't stop any spikes (because the virus will have a large enough pool of infections to mutate until the vaccine is no longer effective). It doesn't mean we shouldn't do anything, restrictions should be increased and enforced, but it's passed the time of a vaccine helping with this spike.

"John Oliver explains the industry behind nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and why long-term care needs fixing."

"Out of over 5,800 warehouse workers at this location, 3,215 cast ballots. The final tally was 1,798 votes against unionizing and 738 votes for the union, with 70.9% of valid votes counted against unionizing. The union had needed 50% plus one of the ballots to win." Spot the problem.

Linkee-poo Tuesday April 13

"Some 100,000 years ago, an extended family of 36 Neanderthals walked along a beach, with the kids jumping and frolicking in the sand, scientists report after analyzing the beachgoers' fossilized footprints in what is now southern Spain."

"Japan has announced it will release more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, a decision that has angered neighbouring countries, including China, and local fishers." Don't tell me nuclear power plants have zero emissions.

"No classes will be held for the next two days at a school in Knoxville after a student was killed and a police officer injured during an encounter at the high school… The gunman died at the scene, according to Rausch. He was identified as a student at the school but his name has not been released." No, the student died at the scene. And you know what, the officers should have retreated instead of returning fire. The person was in a bathroom. Where were they going to go?

"The three vaccines authorized for use against COVID-19 in the United States appear to be at least 94% effective at preventing severe disease and death (starting about two weeks after a person is fully vaccinated), according to data reported so far, and about 80% effective at preventing infection. But that's not 100%, Omer notes, so a relatively small number of infections despite immunization with these very effective vaccines is to be expected." Which is why you want as many people inoculated as possible.

"People infected with the U.K. variant of the coronavirus didn't experience more severe symptoms and weren't more likely to die from this particular strain, according to a new study of hospitalized patients published Monday."

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday they are recommending a 'pause' in the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of an 'abundance of caution' while an investigation is conducted into reports of apparently rare, potentially dangerous blood clots."

"As reported by Deadline, parent company Decurion has announced that none of the Arclight and Pacific (Theater) locations around the country will be reopening, with the company putting out a statement that says, in part, that it 'does not have a viable way forward.'"

"Prices for some of your favorite things are going up. The big question is how long the price hikes will last… Consumer prices rose 0.6% in March, according to the Labor Department — the sharpest increase in nearly nine years. Over the last 12 months, the department's consumer price index has risen 2.6%. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, inflation was 0.3% in March and 1.6% over the last year." Prices hardly ever go down (in real terms) on the consumer end. Sure individual pieces may go down, but it's very rare for overall costs to decline (so you may pay less for chicken this week, but something else you buy will offset that decrease).

"An Egyptian court allowed the ship that blocked the Suez Canal last month to be seized after a request from the waterway’s operator, which is demanding $900 million in compensation, according to local media… A court in the city of Ismailia granted the request regarding the Ever Given vessel at the behest of the Suez Canal Authority, state-run Ahram Gate reported on its website. The report did not say who the SCA wants compensation from." I'm not a lawyer, and I'm definitely no expert on "Rules of the Sea", but I think the fact that they had to have a pilot (employee of the Suez Canal Authority) on board to direct the ship may mitigate their liability.

"The feds were closing in. And Rep. Matt Gaetz’s friend, Joel Greenberg, was in a panic… The Florida county tax collector was five days away from a federal indictment for sex trafficking involving a 17-year-old — the same one Gaetz is now being investigated over — so Greenberg reached out to mutual friends on Aug. 14 last year and tried to enlist them in his defense, according to a WhatsApp chat shared with federal investigators and obtained by POLITICO." And I laughed out loud at this part… "'I know Joel and Matt paid some of their bills, rent, tuition, things like that,' the friend said. 'This is a thing that happens when you’re successful and you have these relationships: "Are we not supposed to help these women who mean something to us and that we care about?" Is that prostitution? Maybe if you’re a Puritan.'" I mean, they're successful people :: checks notes :: paying the bills for underaged women in exchange for sex. It's nothing bad like prostitution, I mean, none of these people were in bad parts of town walking or trolling the streets or anything like that. The denialism, exceptionalism, entitlement, and the "but we're good people" thinking wrapped up in that is just hilarious.And the absolute funniest part of this is I think all these people sincerely believe in that reasoning. I hope this falls on all of them like a tanker ship full of anvils.

"A growing number of working-class voters were drawn to Donald Trump's Republican Party, and now top Republicans are searching for ways to keep those voters in the fold without Trump on the ballot." A swing and a miss.

Linkee-poo Monday April 12

The Duke of Edinburgh, and so it goes.

"Looks like we'll have to wait a bit longer to see a helicopter flying around on Mars. NASA has decided to push back the Ingenuity Mars helicopter's first experimental flight due to a safety alert during a high-speed spin test of Ingenuity's rotors, the space agency said Saturday. The flight, originally set for Sunday, will now happen 'no earlier than April 14,' a Wednesday, the space agency said in a statement. But the copter is 'safe and healthy,' NASA said." I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed.

"La Soufriere volcano fired an enormous amount of ash and hot gas early Monday in the biggest explosive eruption yet since volcanic activity began on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent late last week, with officials worried about the lives of those who have refused to evacuate." Your island is exploding, it's time to get the fuck off.

"The United States had administered 187,047,131 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and distributed 237,796,105 doses as of Sunday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said."

"The problem is that more than 75% of the US population isn't fully vaccinated, according to CDC data Saturday… Now the bad news: For the third straight week, new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walenky."

"While lockdowns, curfews, and travel bans were being rolled out across the rest of the world, Swedish restaurants, stores, bars, museums, day cares, and elementary schools all remained open. People were encouraged to work from home and to reduce travel, but both were optional. Masks were not recommended and remained rare. Households could mix; until the end of March, even parties of up to five hundred people were allowed." So, how did that work out? A mixed bag, it turns out.

"Earlier this year, Grifols closed on a $146 million-deal to buy Alkahest, a company founded by Stanford University neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray, who, along with Saul Villeda, revealed in scientific papers published in 2011 and 2014 that the blood from young mice had seemingly miraculous restorative effects on the brains of elderly mice. The discovery adds to a hot area of inquiry called geroscience that "seeks to understand molecular and cellular mechanisms that make aging a major risk factor and driver of common chronic conditions and diseases of older adulthood," according to the National Institutes of Health. In the last six years, Alkahest has identified more than 8,000 proteins in the blood that show potential promise as therapies. Its efforts and those of Grifols have resulted in at least six phase 2 trials completed or underway to treat a wide range of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's." Maybe vampires were on to something? Note: probably not. And this is mostly boomer mental disorders regarding "having to be young."

"Most cases of Parkinson’s disease are considered idiopathic – they lack a clear cause. Yet researchers increasingly believe that one factor is environmental exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical compound used in industrial degreasing, dry-cleaning and household products such as some shoe polishes and carpet cleaners."

"A broad economic recovery is suddenly gathering speed, calling millions of Americans back to work. That's the message tonight of Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve. The 'Fed,' as it's known, regulates our economy by controlling the supply of money, setting interest rates and overseeing major banks. We sat down with Chairman Powell in his Washington headquarters this past Wednesday, one year after the COVID crash wiped out 22 million jobs."

"Authorities said a clerical error had caused Charles Schwab, a major financial services corporation, to deposit more than $1.2 million into her brokerage account when it only meant to transfer about $82 in February, reported. When the bank attempted to reclaim the money, the request was rejected because the money was not available, according to the sheriff’s office." As someone who has had to go to business and banks to get overpayments returned and dealt with the headaches and delays including being told that it would be used to cover future billing, which they then conveniently forgot about, I'm not so much on the side of Schwab here.

"Ankle-deep in thick black sludge, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky moves stealthily with his troops in single file through the warren of trenches and tunnels that form the tense front lines in the east of his country."

"Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday he was concerned about the number of Russian troops amassing on the Ukrainian border and warned Moscow that 'there will be consequences' for aggresive (SIC) behavior." The ruble must be down again. How's my Russian friends bank accounts holding up?

"Israel's army chief has appeared to hint at possible Israeli involvement in an incident at the Natanz nuclear site in Iran, which was described as "terrorist action" by the head of Iran's atomic energy agency… Iranian officials on Sunday confirmed an 'incident' at Natanz, an underground facility where uranium enrichment takes place. 'Fortunately, the incident did not cause any human injuries or leaks,' said Behrouz Kamalvand, a spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI). 'The causes of the accident are under investigation and further information will be announced later.'"

"But Biden has now been pulled into a global trade dispute over the fate of lithium ion battery factories in Georgia that threatens his electric vehicle goals for the United States and the Democratic Party's fragile success in the key swing state." When I mentioned the coming battery wars you may have thought I was being hyperbolic, I wasn't. This is going to be a serious fight to determine who will control the future. For my money, it shouldn't belong to one company.

"Domino's and Nuro announced Monday that the latter's autonomous car will report for pizza delivery duty this week. It's only for customers in the vicinity of a single pizza shop in the Houston area, but still -- this is wild. On certain days and in blocked-out periods of time, customers can request their pizza for delivery via a Nuro R2 if they place a prepaid order online. Domino's will select a customer at random to carry out the delivery order, and the customer will receive text message notifications saying where the little robocar is. They'll also get a PIN that'll let them access their order when it arrives." What's the standard tip for a robocar?

"Dr. Martin Tobin, a pulmonary specialist who works in critical care, testified Thursday that George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen, bolstering the prosecution's argument that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin caused Floyd's death last May… "It's extremely significant," the doctor said, 'because one of the things in this case is the question of fentanyl.' If that opiate was affecting Floyd, he said, it would have dropped his respiratory rate to around 10 breaths… Asked by the prosecutor if he saw a depressed breathing rate in Floyd, Tobin replied, 'No. It's normal.'"

"Gutierrez — whose employment with the department has since been terminated following an internal investigation — and his partner Daniel Crocker are now the defendants in a lawsuit arguing that they violated Nazario's constitutional rights through the use of excessive force and unlawful search and seizure."

"Police shot and killed a Black man on Sunday during a stop for a traffic violation, sparking protests and unrest in a suburb just miles away from where George Floyd was killed during an arrest in Minneapolis last May… The state mobilized the National Guard after crowds gathered in front of the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Sunday evening, and a curfew was ordered through Monday morning."

"Federal prosecutors now allege that Nordean, 30, along with fellow Proud Boy Joe Biggs, 37, saw former President Donald Trump's calls to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election as justification to launch a conspiracy to bring violence and chaos to the Capitol on Jan. 6. After years of the Proud Boys largely escaping scrutiny from law enforcement, the cases brought by the government could result in prison time for leading members of the group."

"In semi-private, encrypted chats, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists planned rallies in dozens of cities Sunday to promote their racist movements and spread their ideologies to larger audiences… Hyped by organizers as events that would make 'the whole world tremble,' the rallies ran into a major problem: Hardly anyone showed up." Apparently all the dipshits had to mow the yard or something. But the problem is, they'll learn from this. That's the difference from previous "uprisings."

But it's good to know that Republicans still can learn from their mistakes. "It was supposed to be a unifying weekend for a Republican Party at war with itself over former President Donald Trump’s divisive leadership. But Trump himself shattered two days of relative peace in his closing remarks to the GOP’s top donors when he insulted the party’s Senate leader and his wife… Ahead of the invitation-only speech at Trump’s new home inside his Mar-a-Lago resort, the former president’s advisers said he would emphasize his commitment to his party and Republican unity."

And concerned republicans are, once again, concerned… "Several Republican leaders on Sunday expressed concern at incendiary comments made by former President Donald Trump during a speech Saturday night at a Republican National Committee donor retreat."

"Rep. Matt Gaetz, who's facing a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations, was recently denied a meeting with Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate as the ex-President and his allies continue to distance themselves from the Florida congressman." Insert dramatic music here.

"John Boehner says he couldn't win an election as a Republican these days… 'I think I'd have a pretty tough time,' he says. 'I'm a conservative Republican, but I'm not crazy. And, you know, these days crazy gets elected. On the left and the right.'" Nope, it's pretty much just on the right, John. Oh, and fuck you. There's this joke about a "leader" getting a shave as a parade goes by, suddenly he jumps out of the chair and shouts, "Those are my people, I must go lead them." To wit: "'And even though I didn't really want to go the direction where the team's going, they were the ones who elected me to be the leader and I had an obligation to go lead them,' Boehner tells NPR. 'So that means I had to go jump out in front of them, even if I thought what they were trying to do really made not a whole lot of sense.'" No, John, that's not leadership.

Linkee-poo Thursday April 8

"It's called a muon. And on Wednesday, researchers at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory sent shock waves through the world of particle physics when they found this unassuming speck of quantum-curious existence could illuminate the very fabric of the universe in a way we haven't seen since the discovery of the Higgs boson nearly a decade ago." Higgs was almost a decade ago? And they're wobbling weirdly? I blame cats.

"A NASA spacecraft will bid farewell to its asteroid companion of the last few years… The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is conducting a final flyby of the asteroid Bennu on Wednesday."

"A more easily spread coronavirus variant first identified in England last year has now become the dominant strain in the U.S., the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday."

"Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky anticipates that all schools will be fully in person and no longer remote in September 2021." Sure, and I've got this swampland over here for a steep discount.

"In the past year, the housing market has laid bare the harms of these rules. As mortgage rates bottomed out, would-be homeowners flooded the market only to find they were fighting over scraps. Tales abound of these people desperately shoving all-cash offers well over the asking price to sellers and increasingly making offers on homes sight unseen. Middle- and low-income renters watched from the sidelines, their hopes of homeownership dashed as they shell out dangerously high proportions of their income to rent. This frenzy leads many to a simple question: Where are all the homes?" The carrot only strategy won't work. And yes, more "affordable" housing needs to be in the pipeline.

"President Biden's infrastructure train is leaving the station… In remarks Wednesday pushing for his sweeping $2.3 trillion plan, Biden said he wants to meet with Republicans about it and hopes to negotiate in 'good faith' — a political tenet that hasn't been practiced much in Washington, D.C., in recent years… But Biden is not waiting around."

"First-time claims for unemployment insurance rose more than expected last week despite other signs of healing in the jobs market, the Labor Department reported Thursday… First-time claims for the week ended April 3 totaled 744,000, well above the expectation for 694,000 from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The total represented an increase of 16,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised 728,000. The four-week moving average edged higher to 723,750."

How goes Brexit? "Young people set a hijacked bus on fire and hurled gasoline bombs at police in Belfast in at least the fourth night of serious violence in a week in Northern Ireland, where Britain's exit from the European Union has unsettled an uneasy political balance… People also lobbed bricks, fireworks and gasoline bombs Wednesday night in both directions over a concrete "peace wall" that separates Protestant, British loyalist and Catholic, Irish nationalist neighborhoods."

"Parts of Northern Ireland saw their sixth consecutive night of violence Wednesday as unionists and nationalists clashed with police and each other."

"In a new lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, three Black CBP officers are suing the Department of Homeland Security, alleging CBP routinely targets and harasses Black travelers at the Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia, Ontario. Of the 275 CBP officers who work at that location, four are Black."

"Malls that buckled due to e-commerce or suffered during the pandemic are being given new life by the very entity that precipitated their decline — Amazon… Over the last several months, the retail giant has gone on a shopping spree of its own, buying up disused malls across the country and turning them into distribution centers."

"No, the (Amazon Union) vote count isn’t in yet. The NLRB expects the public portion of the count, viewable to reporters and certain observers via video call, to begin this afternoon. We do not know how long this will take, but it’s safe to assume that the count will span several hours. Each of the over 3,000 ballots will be counted by hand, one at a time."

"Five years after Prince's death, the artist's estate is releasing songs from his previously unreleased album, 'Welcome 2 America.' The new music will debut Sunday night on 60 Minutes." Prince, dead for half a decade, is now safe. Yes the artist who released DMSR, Raspberry Beret, Little Red Corvette, I Wanna Be Your Lover, and Darling Nikki is now safe enough to debut a new release on 60 Minutes.

"Paite is not a lone crusader. She’s part of a vast but little-known network of Catholic nuns dedicated to fighting human trafficking across the globe. The organization, Talitha Kum, was formed in Rome in 2009 and now operates quietly in 92 countries… The group is made up of roughly 60,000 religious sisters. The work they do is often dangerous and daring — confronting pimps on darkened streets, patrolling dusty alleys that host brothels. The sisters also operate safe houses in several countries, providing refuge for women and girls fleeing their captors." Considering the history of some orders, that's quite a welcomed turnaround.

"The United States is prepared to remove sanctions on Iran to resume compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, including those that are inconsistent with the 2015 pact, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday, without providing details."

"The Biden administration is defending its response to the historic number of migrant children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border alone, touting efforts to open more than 20,000 beds for the minors, as well as assistance to Central American communities suffering from poverty, violence and natural disasters."

"What began as an attempt to repair tense EU-Turkey relations has turned into a diplomatic spat that has been dubbed 'sofagate'… When European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was left standing because of a lack of chairs in Ankara, she reacted with an audible 'Ahem'… But Turkey has now laid the blame on the EU for 'unjust accusations'."

"Virginia became the first Southern state to legalize marijuana Wednesday, as lawmakers voted to approve Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed changes to a bill that will allow adults to possess and cultivate small amounts of the drug starting in July."

"Sen. Joe Manchin said he will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster under any circumstances, likely bringing to a close efforts to lower the barriers to passing parts of President Joe Biden’s agenda in Congress with only Democratic votes." If the GOP were smart, they'd allow 2 Senators to vote for eliminating the filibuster (they certainly could find 2 who would agree, considering they themselves threatened to end the filibuster in 2014 and 2016 (and significantly modified the rules under Mitch McConnell).

"Republicans, under fire from Democrats and major corporations for their nationwide push for new limits on voting, are defending their proposals as similar to or better for ballot access than the election laws some blue states already have on the books… In statements and news conferences, Republican leaders have pointed to what they say is a double standard from Democrats and activists who say the bills — and Georgia's newly enacted restrictions, in particular — are attempts to suppress the votes of the multiracial coalition that powered President Joe Biden's victory last year." By cherry picking you can prove almost anything is the same. I mean, apples and oranges both grow on trees don't they?

"Tucker Carlson is admired by white nationalists, elected officials, and maybe some of your relatives or coworkers. Given that he has the ear of so many Americans, John Oliver explains where Tucker came from, what his rhetorical tactics are, and what he represents."

Linkee-poo Wednesday April 7

"Four space station astronauts strapped into their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, undocked and took it for a brief spin around the front of the International Space Station Monday, re-docking at a different port to clear the way for arrival of a replacement crew later this month… The move kicks off a record month for the space station program with two launches and two landings by four U.S. and Russian spacecraft, ferrying seven fresh crew members to the station and bringing seven others back to Earth."

"It's become so common, perhaps you've stopped noticing how often your local weather forecast is 'above normal.' It's during extreme heat in the summer. It's when mild temperatures persist through the winter. It's when nights don't cool down like they used to… But on May 4, the hotter Earth will officially become the new normal."

"Brazil is bearing the brunt of an alarming surge in Covid-19 cases, with fatalities reaching more than 4,000 in a single day on Tuesday and hospitals stretched to breaking point… Brazil's overall death toll of 337,000, according to Brazilian Health Ministry data, is surpassed only by the U.S.'s figure of 562,000, according to NBC News' tally." And because denial is all the rage as well, "Despite the recent surge, Brazilian officials are insistent the country can soon return to something resembling business as usual."

"New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey together reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections, or nearly 197,500 new cases, in the latest available seven-day period, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Total U.S. infections during the same week numbered more than 452,000." And the argument on whom should get priority on vaccinations. Which is the wrong argument. The decision should be, which economies need to lock down more to increase social distancing and where should we be promoting mask usage. Vaccines have a lag time of about a month and a half. The faster way to control the spread is to increase mask usage and increase social distancing.

"The Ohio House and Ohio Senate have voted to override Gov. Mike DeWine's (R-Ohio) veto of Senate Bill 22. The move can enact a law that weakens the authority of a governor's orders and emergencies… Throughout the past year, Republican leadership in the House and Senate have clashed with DeWine over the health orders he's issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic." Given how few of those assholes are actually wearing masks, I don't think leaving this up to the legislature is a Good Idea. There's a reason we have health offices, and that reason is to take politics out of decisions that need to be made based on science, not politics.

"Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine has rapidly expanded in recent weeks. In the vast majority of states, all adults are now eligible to get vaccinated. And President Biden is urging the remaining states to open up eligibility by April 19. But how are you supposed to sign up?… The answers vary by place, so NPR created a tool to guide you through the process in your state and connect you with local resources. And we're sharing advice for navigating the system below."

"One in three Covid-19 survivors has suffered a neurological or psychiatric disorder within six months of infection with the virus, an observational study of more than 230,000 patient health records has estimated… The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal on Tuesday, analyzed data from the electronic health records of 236,379 Covid-19 patients from the U.S.-based TriNetX network, which includes more than 81 million people." The most common was anxiety, such as, "Am I going to die from this fucking thing?" Which then also lead to substance misuse disorders.

"Virginia’s Legislature passed a recreational legalization bill in February, becoming the first Southern state to fully embrace weed. Last week, lawmakers in New York and New Mexico legalized weed for adults, after years of failed efforts. New Jersey lawmakers also passed legislation implementing a voter-approved legalization amendment. And more conservative states like Kansas and Alabama are moving medical marijuana legalization bills forward."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Cities in parts of the U.S. that slashed their police department funding last year, in part as a result of police-involved shootings, have seen an uptick in certain crimes over the past year, according to data analyzed by Fox News." Classic post hoc ergo prompter hoc. I'm sure the economic downturn, which is a more sure predictor of violent crime, has nothing to do with it.

"In his $2 trillion plan to improve America's infrastructure, President Biden is promising to address the racism ingrained in historical transportation and urban planning… Biden's plan includes $20 billion for a program that would 'reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments,' according to the White House. It also looks to target '40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities.'"

"When President Biden unveiled his major new infrastructure plan last week, the proposal included much more than fixing crumbling bridges. And for those who wish America had a more robust passenger train network, it gave them something new: hope." Say, how much did the Obama stimulus help the rail network? There was a lot of money in there to expand and upgrade as well. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, I'm saying it's already a deep hole.

"Jamie Dimon, the long-serving JPMorgan Chase CEO and chairman, sees strong growth ahead for the world’s biggest economy, thanks to the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that has left many consumers flush with savings, according to his annual shareholder letter." One, well, fuck Jamie Dimon, just on principle. And two, well duh. And three, that premised on people not learning a lesson and going back to the wild days of spending and borrowing to cover it. Which, let's face it, will probably be what happens, but I like to think we are learning.

"The national debt has long been portrayed as a burden we’re placing on future generations. John Oliver discusses how national debt works, why people are so concerned about it, and why it might be more helpful that you think."

"The San Francisco Board of Education will ultimately keep the names of dozens of public schools in a case of high stakes second thoughts… The Board had moved to forge ahead with a controversial plan to change the names of 44 schools that honor figures linked to historical racism or oppression. But on Tuesday the board voted unanimously to suspend the effort when it approved a resolution saying it 'wishes to avoid the distraction and wasteful expenditure of public funds in frivolous litigation.'"

"The Texas state court system is signaling that it will no longer enforce a federal order aimed at stopping evictions during the coronavirus pandemic. That could clear the way for landlords to push ahead with tens of thousands of eviction cases that have been on hold… The timing could be particularly painful for many families, coming after Congress has approved billions of dollars to help people pay the rent they owe to avoid eviction, but before the vast majority of renters have been able to receive any of that money."

"The Iranian foreign ministry has confirmed that an Iranian cargo ship believed to be covertly deployed for military use off the coast of Yemen has been attacked, in an incident that threatens to inflame a proxy war between Iran and Israel."

"Greenlanders are going to the polls on Tuesday in a crucial election that could determine whether the Arctic island taps its vast deposits of rare-earth minerals to fuel eventual independence from Denmark."

"Arkansas became the first state in the US to prohibit physicians from providing gender-affirming treatment for trans people under age 18 after the state's General Assembly voted Tuesday to override the governor's veto of an anti-trans bill that he called a 'vast government overreach.'" Republicans, coming between you and your doctor since, well, forever.

"More Americans identify as Democrats than Republicans by a margin that hasn't been seen in a decade, according to a report released by Gallup on Wednesday… An average of 49% of adults age 18 and older reported Democratic Party affiliation or said they are independent with Democratic leanings throughout the first quarter of 2021, the pollster reported. The survey was conducted by phone from January-March." The fallout of January 6 continues.

"A dispute over voting laws in Georgia and Colorado reached the White House briefing room Tuesday after Major League Baseball announced a new location for the All-Star Game… Press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the decision to relocate the Midsummer Classic from Atlanta to Denver as a protest against new voting laws in Georgia that will make it more difficult for many to vote."

"But the move quickly met a new conservative talking point: The states aren't that different, Republican lawmakers claimed. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said on Fox News that the change 'doesn't make a whole lot of sense,' arguing that Colorado has equally restrictive laws." A little fact checking.

"Rep. Matt Gaetz privately sought blanket preemptive pardons for himself and his congressional allies during the final weeks of Donald Trump's presidency, two people familiar with the discussions told The New York Times… The Florida Republican's request was viewed by White House officials as a nonstarter, the people told the Times, and was ultimately never granted."

"'Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order,' warned McConnell, adding: 'Businesses must not use economic blackmail to spread disinformation and push bad ideas that citizens reject at the ballot box.'… But, upon further review, there's actually an explanation for all of this. And, yes, it has everything to do with politics." This is nothing more than McConnell firing a shot across the bow. He's telling corporations that they should only support conservatives, and if not, they'll be punished.