Hossenfelder: Does the Universe have Higher Dimensions? Part
(11-min. video; BackReAction, April 10, 2021)
Space, the way we experience it, has three dimensions.
Left-right, forward backward, and up-down. But why three? Why
not 7? Or 26? The answer is: No one knows. But if no one knows
why space has three dimensions, could it be that it actually
has more? Just that we haven’t noticed for some reason? That’s
what we will talk about today.
the Buzz About Bitcoin Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
(SciTechDaily, April 10, 2021)
There’s a possibility the recent cryptocurrency price hikes
are partially or totally justified by changes in the market
participants’ perception of the factors affecting the future
prospects of blockchain platforms. However, in the long run,
the value of the cryptocurrencies will depend on the financial
added value generated by the blockchain ecosystem. If
blockchain technology’s potential is realized, perhaps many of
the current blockchain platforms and projects won’t make the
cut, drastically reducing in value or vanishing altogether.
But, there’s a reasonable chance that some of them will be big
Tesla’s Battery Mastermind Is Tackling EVs Biggest Problem
(18-min. video; CNBC, April 10, 2021)
Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere — in phones, laptops,
tablets, cameras and increasingly cars. Demand for lithium-ion
batteries has risen sharply in the past five years and is
expected to grow from a $44.2 billion market in 2020 to a
$94.4 billion market by 2025, mostly due to the boom in
electric cars. And a shortage of lithium-ion batteries is
looming in the U.S.
Former Tesla CTO and Elon Musk's right-hand man, JB Straubel,
started Redwood Materials in 2017 to help address the need for
more raw materials and to solve the problem of e-waste. The
company recycles end-of-life batteries and then supplies
battery makers and auto companies with materials in short
supply as EV production surges around the world.
Straubel gave CNBC an inside look at its first recycling
facility in Carson City, Nevada. Watch the video to learn why
battery recycling will be an essential part in making EV
production more sustainable.
Philip, the Man Who Walked Two Paces Behind the Queen.
(New York Times, April 9, 2021)
The late Duke of Edinburgh understood that the rituals of
monarchy were both ridiculous and necessary.
will not notify the 533 million users exposed in online
database for hackers.
(CNN, April 9, 2021)
Last weekend, it was reported that a database of records from
more than 533 million Facebook accounts — including phone
numbers, email addresses, birthdays and other personal details
— had been shared online. While the leak did not include
sensitive information such as credit card or social security
numbers, the data could still be exploited by bad actors.
Facebook released a help center page
for users concerned
that their data may have been released. The page explains
that only information that was shared publicly on users'
profiles at the time of the scraping, meaning the data does
not include information that was shared only with users'
friends, for example. It also details how users can adjust
their privacy settings.
to the wire: Biden’s green goals face a power grid
There are third-party websites
, including haveibeenpwned.com
where users can search for themselves to see whether their
personal data has been leaked.
Humanity's Return To The Moon
(4-min. video: NASA,
April 9, 2021)
With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and
next man on the Moon, using innovative technologies to
explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. We will
collaborate with our commercial and international partners
and establish sustainable exploration by the end of the
decade. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the
Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to
Evolutionary Discovery That “Literally Changes the
(SciTechDaily, April 9, 2021)
The network of nerves connecting our eyes to our brains is
sophisticated and researchers have now shown that it evolved
much earlier than previously thought, thanks to an
unexpected source: the gar fish. An international research
team has now shown that this connection scheme was already
present in ancient fish at least 450 million years ago. That
makes it about 100 million years older than previously
Sea Creature’s Bizarre Breathing Organs Uncovered.
(SciTechDaily, April 9, 2021)
Contrary to previous thought, trilobites were leg breathers,
with structures resembling gills hanging off their thighs.
Trilobites were a group of marine animals with
half-moon-like heads that resembled horseshoe crabs, and
they were wildly successful in terms of evolution. Though
they are now extinct, they survived for more than 250
million years — longer than the dinosaurs.
(Aeon, April 8, 2021)
Humans need closeness and belonging, but any society which
closes its gates is doomed to atrophy. How do we stay open?
(Politico, April 8, 2021)
The U.S. will need new electric transmission lines to meet the
president’s aim of eliminating the power sector’s net carbon
pollution. But public opposition has doomed many such
official: the Republican Party has lost its collective mind.
(Daily Kos, April 8, 2021)
First, they cheer the Citizens United decision, which
essentially turns corporations into human beings (while
simultaneously still longing for the early days of the
Republic when Sub-Saharan Africans, Natives and women weren’t
Constitutionally quite full humans or citizens). And, now? Now
that some major corporations put their reading glasses on,
grokked the public message and have come out (rather)
forcefully against the Make Georgia White Again through Voter
Suppression Law and are behaving like *gasp* human beings in
their disapproval the GOP suddenly has their knickers in a
congressman claims corporations standing up for voting
rights is 'fascism'.
(Daily Kos, April 8, 2021)
Wait, I’m confused. I thought we lived in a free-market
democracy in which corporations are “people” with sacrosanct
“opinions” (which, for some reason, usually come in the form
of gobs and gobs of campaign cash). So when corporations
literally write their own legislation, it’s A-OK. That’s just
what the Founding Fathers envisioned as they grew hemp and
curated their expansive STD collections.
But if a corporation—for once—stands up for voting rights
instead of endorsing a coal lobbyist as head of the EPA, now
you’re talking Italy circa 1943.
Cox Richardson: "Fewer - but better - voters"
From An American, April 7, 2021)
Last night, commentator Kevin Williamson published a piece in
National Review justifying voter suppression by suggesting
that “the republic would be better served by having fewer—but
better—voters.” Representatives, he says, “are people who act
in other people’s interests,” which is different from doing
what voters want.
This is the same argument elite slaveholder James Henry
Hammond made before the Senate in 1858, when he defended the
idea that Congress should recognize the spread of human
enslavement into Kansas despite the fact that the people
living in that territory wanted to abolish slavery. Our
Constitution, Hammond said, did not dictate that people should
“be annoyed with the cares of Government,” but rather directed
that they should elect leaders who would take those cares upon
Quietly Launched a Mass Surveillance Program to Track
(Medium, April 7, 2021)
Cash-strapped governments are turning to tech that converts
cameras into automated license plate readers (ALPRs) to
penalize uninsured drivers.
Oklahoma’s rollout of ALPRs to track and bill uninsured
motorists is another example of mission creep and expansion in
the use of roadway surveillance systems. For years,
governments have relied on surveillance companies to extract
revenue through tolls and speeding tickets, though largely at
the local and municipal level. The civil liberties
organization Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Atlas of Surveillance
over 800 bundled purchases of ALPRs by police departments.
Gaetz's staffers were sending videos of his outrageous
behavior to other Republican officials.
April 6, 2021)
The biggest crime connected to Matt Gaetz may not be
transporting an underage girl across state lines and putting
her up at a hotel for the purposes of sex, or Gaetz’s
long-running partnership with Republican official and
fake ID supplier Joel
Greenberg. The biggest crime is the
of silence among Republican lawmakers who continued to protect
Gaetz even though they were seeing graphic evidence of his
behavior. They knew what he was doing. And they were just fine
with it until Gaetz was caught.
McConnell displays his big weakness (and hypocrisy) with a
jaw-droppingly dumb comment today.
(Daily Kos, April 6,
McConnell in Kentucky calls actions of MLB, Coca-Cola and
Delta Air in opposition of Georgia voting law ‘stupid.’ ‘My
warning to corporate America is to stay out of politics’, he
says. ‘I’m not talking about political contributions', he
Abortion Bill Wins “Worst State Bill” of 2021.
Coalition, April 6, 2021)
After several weeks of voting, the award for “Worst State
Bill” violating the separation of religion and government has
been given to Texas House Bill 3326, which would allow a
person who has an abortion or performs an abortion to be
charged with assault or homicide, a crime punishable by death
in the state of Texas.
checks phone numbers from Facebook data breach.
video; BBC News, April 6, 2021)
Details of more than 530 million people were leaked in a
database online, largely consisting of mobile numbers.
Facebook said it had "found and fixed" the breach more than a
year-and-a-half ago. But the information has now been
published for free in a hacking forum, making it widely
available. The database covers 533 million people in 106
countries, according to researchers analysing the data. That
includes 11 million Facebook users in the UK, 30 million
Americans and 7 million Australians.
People can use the Have I Been Pwned
online tool to check if their numbers or emails were
[Mozilla also suggests Firefox Monitor
prominent Google scientist is leaving the company amid
fallout from fired AI researcher.
(3-min. video; CNBV,
April 6, 2021)
joy of being animal
Samy Bengio, a well-known researcher at Google
research group Brain, announced on Tuesday that he’s
resigning from Google.Bengio is the highest-ranked official
to depart amid the fallout from Google’s handling of ethics
researcher Timnit Gebru, a well-known artificial
intelligence researcher at Google who
said the company abruptly fired her last fall
she requested clarity about a retracted paper.
(Aeon, April 6, 2021)
Human exceptionalism is dead: for the sake of our own
happiness and the planet we should embrace our true animal
Time online crowds out time spent in physical contact with
others and in contact with the physical world. Only a belief
that our animal lives are somehow less important than our
mental lives can allow us to minimise what that reduction of
our physical experience might mean. And this is to say nothing
of what our denigration of being animal means for the other
animals. We have spent thousands of years arguing that we’re
the moral overlords of our world. That’s looking harder to
justify now that we’re the agents of extinction and pollution.
For centuries, we have tamped down these contradictions. But
it’s no longer possible to ignore the long shadow we cast.
Mammal sizes have been shrinking on our watch, and are now the
smallest they’ve been since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Our
planet’s biomass of mammals now breaks down into a mere 4 per
cent wild species, around 30 per cent humans, and the rest are
animals we produce for food.
Were Apex Predators for Two Million Years – Our Stone Age
Ancestors Mostly Ate Meat.
(SciTechDaily, April 6, 2021)
Researchers at Tel Aviv University were able to reconstruct
the nutrition of stone age humans. Humans were an apex
predator for about two million years. Only the extinction of
larger animals (megafauna) in various parts of the world, and
the decline of animal food sources toward the end of the stone
age, led humans to gradually increase the vegetable element in
their nutrition, until finally they had no choice but to
domesticate both plants and animals — and became farmers.
feat: India's Northern Railways completes arch of world’s
highest rail bridge.
(India News, April 5, 2021)
Indian Railways on Monday achieved an unparalleled feat when
the 5.6-metre-long last piece of metal (a closure segment) was
fitted at the highest point of the arch of the world’s highest
railway bridge. The bridge runs over Chenab river in Jammu and
Kashmir’s Reasi district. The bridge, which is 35-metre higher
than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, is expected to be completed
within a year.
Strikes Will More Than Double in Arctic As Climate Warms,
Driving Increased Wildfires and Warming.
April 5, 2021)
In 2019, the National Weather Service in Alaska reported
spotting the first-known lightning strikes within 300 miles of
the North Pole. Lightning strikes are almost unheard of above
the Arctic Circle, but scientists led by researchers at the
University of California, Irvine have published new research
in the journal Nature Climate Change detailing how Arctic
lightning strikes stand to increase by about 100 percent over
northern lands by the end of the century as the climate
harmful ableist language you unknowingly use
Some of our most common, ingrained expressions have damaging
effects on millions of people – and many of us don't know
we're hurting others when we speak.
QAnon revelation suggests the truth of Q’s identity was
right there all along.
(Washington Post, April 5, 2021)
The extremist movement’s leader had purported to be a
top-secret government operative. But a possible slip-up in a
new documentary about QAnon suggests that Q was actually Ron
Watkins, the longtime administrator of the 8kun message board.
fails again: Do not come for the Buttigieg unless he calls
(Daily Kos, April 3, 2021)
Fox News keeps inviting Pete Buttigieg on, hoping to humiliate
him in a “gotcha” moment. Instead, their exchange always
goes viral with #SlayerPete utterly humiliating them. But like
Charlie Brown and the proverbial football, Fox refuses to
quit. Each time, new hosts challenge the throne.
Stephen Hawking have won the Nobel Prize?
video; Backreaction, April 3, 2021)
Before he worked on black hole evaporation, Hawking worked
with Penrose on the singularity theorems. Penrose’s Theorem
showed that, in contrast to what most physicists believed at
the time, black holes are a pretty much unavoidable
consequence of stellar collapse. Before that, physicists
thought black holes are mathematical curiosities that would
not be produced in reality. It was only because of the
singularity theorems that black holes began to be taken
seriously. Eventually astronomers looked for them, and now we
have solid experimental evidence that black holes exist.
Hawking applied the same method to the early universe to show
that the Big Bang singularity is likewise unavoidable, unless
General Relativity somehow breaks down. And that is an
absolutely amazing insight about the origin of our universe.
Stars Spiraling Towards a Collision Help Unravel the
Mysterious Forces That Bind Sub-Atomic Particles.
(SciTechDaily, April 3, 2021)
Space scientists at the University of Bath in the UK have
found a new way to probe the internal structure of neutron
stars, giving nuclear physicists a novel tool for studying the
structures that make up matter at an atomic level.
Life on Land Recovered After “The Great Dying” Mass
(SciTechDaily, April 3, 2021)
By characterizing how ancient life responded to environmental
stressors, researchers gain insights into how modern species
Stardust to Pale Blue Dot: Carbon’s Intriguing Interstellar
Journey to Earth
(SciTechDaily, April 2, 2021)
We are made of stardust, the saying goes, and a pair of
studies including University of Michigan research finds that
may be more true than we previously thought.
Reveal Early Humans in the Kalahari 105,000 Years Ago Were
As Innovative as Their Coastal Neighbors.
April 2, 2021)
Archaeological evidence for early Homo sapiens has been
largely discovered at coastal sites in South Africa,
supporting the idea that our origins were linked to coastal
environments. There have been very few well-preserved, datable
archaeological sites in the interior of southern Africa that
can tell us about Homo sapiens’ origins away from the coast.
We now know that a rock shelter on Ga-Mohana Hill that stands
above an expansive savannah in the Kalahari is one such site.
Visual Guide to Human Emotion
(Visual Capitalist, April
Despite vast differences in culture around the world,
humanity’s DNA is 99.9% similar. There are few attributes more
central and universal to the human experience than our
emotions. Of course, the broad spectrum of emotions we’re
capable of experiencing can be difficult to articulate. That’s
where this brilliant visualization by the Junto Institute
comes in. This circular visualization is the latest in an
ongoing attempt to neatly categorize the full range of
emotions in a logical way.
Cox Richardson: The Republican focus on media, rather than
(Letters From An American, April 2, 2021)
Former House Speaker John Boehner, who presided over the House
during the Republican wave of 2010, published a preview of his
forthcoming book that makes some sense of the Republican
attempt to divert attention to Abrams. He says that the rise
of the internet meant that by 2010, Republican lawmakers were
taking their orders from internet media websites and the Fox
News Channel, their only aim to keep viewers engaged and cash
The Republican focus on media, rather than policy, has
mushroomed until lawmakers are now reduced to talking about
Dr. Seuss and the Potato Head clan rather than answering the
needs of voters, with no policy besides “owning the libs.”
Corporations Exploit Old and New Loopholes to Pay $0 in
Federal Taxes in 2020.
(ITEP, April 2, 2021)
In 2020, a year marked by a pandemic, small business closures
and widespread job loss for ordinary people, many major U.S.
corporations remained profitable and 55 of them paid $0 in
federal corporate income taxes on a combined $40 billion in
profits, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP)
said today. They secured a zero-tax liability using a variety
of tax breaks, including a new one enacted in 2020 as part of
the CARES Act. Twenty-six of the 55 companies paid nothing
over three years.
Clipper – NASA’s Mission to Search for Life on Jupiter’s
Moon Europa – Just Hit a Significant Milestone.
(SciTechDaily, April 1, 2021)
With an internal global ocean twice the size of Earth’s oceans
combined, Jupiter’s moon Europa carries the potential for
conditions suitable for life. But the frigid temperatures and
the nonstop pummeling of the surface from Jupiter’s radiation
make it a tricky target to explore: Mission engineers and
scientists must design a spacecraft hardy enough to withstand
the radiation yet sensitive enough to gather the science
needed to investigate Europa’s environment.
The Europa Clipper orbiter will swoop around Jupiter on an
elliptical path, dipping close to the moon on each flyby to
conduct detailed reconnaissance. The science includes
gathering measurements of the internal ocean, mapping the
surface composition and its geology, and hunting for plumes of
water vapor that may be venting from the icy crust.
Need to Admit What They Got Wrong About Covid.
April 1, 2021)
Over the last year, the scientific community has been
reluctant to openly discuss its missteps. But coming clean
could help prevent the next pandemic.
Foundations of AI Are Riddled With Errors.
The labels attached to images used to train machine-vision
systems are often wrong. That could mean bad decisions by
self-driving cars and medical algorithms.
trilobites had a leg up on breathing.
March 31, 2021)
A new study (University of California/Riverside) has found the
first evidence of sophisticated breathing organs in
450-million-year-old sea creatures. Contrary to previous
thought, trilobites were leg breathers, with structures
resembling gills hanging off their thighs.
Fried Chicken Has a Waitlist—and a Secret.
Cooking, March 31, 2021)
For chicken that stays crispier for longer, chef Eric Huang
calls upon EverCrisp
a modernist ingredient that home cooks can use, too.
cases are rising again in the U.S., even as the vaccine
campaign accelerates. We explain why.
(New York Times,
March 31, 2021)
The pandemic isn’t over yet. And it may get worse in the next
few weeks. But there are still strong reasons to be optimistic
about Covid’s trajectory in the U.S.
Several factors are fueling the upturn. A more contagious
variant (the one first identified in Britain, called B.1.1.7)
is spreading. Some mayors and governors have continued to lift
restrictions and mask rules. Many Americans are behaving less
cautiously. And vaccinations have not gotten the country near
What happens next? Cases could continue to rise in the coming
weeks. Between vaccinations and prior infections, half the
country may have some form of immunity to the virus, but that
still leaves a lot of vulnerable people who can get infected.
The success of the country’s ongoing vaccination drive should
keep deaths and hospitalizations well below their January
peaks. Many of the people at the greatest risk of severe
illness have already been inoculated, which means new cases
are likely to be concentrated among younger and healthier
Happens to a Tree When It Dies?
(JSTOR, March 31, 2021)
Decomposing trees on the forest floor become “dead wood”—a
part of ecosystems that researchers are only beginning to
the 144-hour scramble to free the giant ship stuck in the
(Washington Post, March 31, 2021)
"Might be here for a little bit."
Jam on the Suez Canal
(NASA Earth Observatory, March 31,
Hundreds of ships have been left idling around the key
shipping route. Nature played a role in solving the problem.
the World’s Key Maritime Choke Points
Capitalist, March 30, 2021)
Maritime transport is an essential part of international
trade—approximately 80% of global merchandise is shipped via
sea. Because of its importance, commercial shipping relies on
strategic trade routes to move goods efficiently. These
waterways are used by thousands of vessels a year—but it’s not
always smooth sailing. In fact, there are certain points along
these routes that pose a risk to the whole system.
Here’s a look at the world’s most vulnerable maritime
bottlenecks—also known as choke points.
One Vaccine Is Good. How About Mix-and-Match?
Times, March 30, 2021)
Researchers are exploring the possible benefits of pairing
doses from two different Covid-19 vaccines.
Inadvertently Admits He's GUILTY of 400,000 Cases of
(Daily Kos, March 30, 2021)
The most jarring part of that first sentence is Trump's
dismissal of what he calls "faulty recommendations," that he
"fortunately almost always overturned." In other words, Trump
is confessing that he rejected the advice of the experts that
he hired to mitigate the deadly potential of the COVID
pandemic. Therefore, Trump is conceding that the tragic
results that took the lives of more half a million Americans
are wholly his responsibility.
Trump has entirely absolved the others of blame. And since
their recommendations were discarded by Trump personally, he
is unselfishly taking all the "credit" for the horror that
followed. For the record, the common sense, CDC approved
recommendations that he overturned were replaced by his own
favorite (albeit fraudulent) therapies that included injecting
bleach, hydroxychloroquine, ultraviolet light, and herd
pays for Suez blockage? Ever Given grounding could
spark years of litigation.
(The Guardian, March 30,
Ship likely to be centre of protracted legal battle over what
caused it to run aground in the Suez and who is to blame.
container ship that blocked Suez Canal set free.
(Associated Press, March 29, 2021)
Salvage teams on Monday set free a colossal container ship
that has halted global trade through the Suez Canal,
bringing an end to a crisis that for nearly a week had
clogged one of the world’s most vital maritime arteries.
Helped by the peak of high tide, a flotilla of tugboats
managed to wrench the bulbous bow of the skyscraper-sized Ever
from the canal’s sandy bank, where it had been
firmly lodged since last Tuesday.
After hauling the fully laden 220,000-ton vessel over the
canal bank, the salvage team was pulling the vessel toward
the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway
between the north and south end of the canal, where the ship
will undergo technical inspection, canal authorities said.
Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com
(Underway Using Engines, 1.4 knots, 309°
that the ship was moving away from the shoreline toward the
center of the artery.
The salvage operation successfully relied on tugs and dredgers
alone, allowing authorities to avoid the far more complex and
lengthy task of lightening the vessel by offloading its 20,000
Ever Given was freed with the help of the Mashhour,
a huge dredging ship that moves 70,000 cubic feet of sand an
(Business Insider, March 29, 2021)
days of struggle, salvage crews freed the giant container
(1-min. videos; New York Times, March 29, 2021)
Late Saturday, tugboat drivers sounded off in celebration of
what was up to that point the most visible sign of progress
since the Ever Given
ran aground late Tuesday. The
1,300-foot ship moved. It did not go far — just two degrees,
or about 100 feet, according to shipping officials. But that
came on top of progress from Friday, when canal officials said
dredgers had managed to dig out the stern of the ship, freeing
On Monday morning, the movement of the ship was even more
dramatic — with tugboats able to almost completely straighten
the vessel. But for awhile it was still unclear whether the
bulbous bow — a protrusion at the front of the ship just below
the waterline — was truly free.
Assisted by a flotilla of tugboats, the ship was towed
north to the Great Bitter Lake, the widest part of the
canal at about the midway point of the 120-mile-long waterway,
so it could be further inspected and so delayed traffic could
once gain flow smoothly. However, it would take some time to
also inspect the canal itself to ensure safe passage. And with
hundreds of ships backed up on either side, it could be days
before operations return to normal.
Canal traffic resumes after Ever Given ship
(1-min. video; NBC News, March
The crucial waterway will now reopen after days of intense
salvage efforts to free the ship.
of reopening Suez Canal boosted by partial refloating of
(Reuters, March 29, 2021)
A huge container ship blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal for nearly a
week has been partially refloated, raising hopes that the busy
waterway will soon be reopened for a big backlog of ships. The
400-metre (430-yard) long Ever Given
diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high
winds early last Tuesday, halting traffic on the shortest
shipping route between Europe and Asia.
The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said on Monday the vessel had
been mostly straightened along the eastern bank of the canal
and further tugging operations would resume once the tide rose
later in the day. After dredging and excavation over the
weekend, rescue workers from the SCA and a team from Dutch
firm Smit Salvage had been trying to free the ship using tug
boats in the early hours of Monday, two marine and shipping
sources said. Around midday, tugs could be seen maneuvering
around the ship, some with tow lines attached, churning the
water beneath them.
Marine traffic through the canal will restart once the ship is
directed to the lakes area - a wider section of the canal, the
SCA said. At least 369 vessels were waiting to transit the
canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil
tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum
gas (LPG) vessels, SCA Chairman Osama Rabie said. The SCA has
said it can accelerate convoys through the canal once the Ever
is freed. “We will not waste one second,” Rabie
told Egyptian state television. He said it could take from
two-and-a-half to three days to clear the backlog, and a canal
source said more than 100 ships would be able to enter the
channel daily. Shipping group Maersk said the knock-on
disruptions to global shipping could take weeks or months to
“We have movement, which is good news. But I wouldn’t say it’s
a piece of cake now,” Peter Berdowski, the CEO of Smit
Salvage’s parent company Boskalis, told Dutch public radio.
High pressure water would be injected under the bow of the
ship, which is still stuck, to remove sand and clay but if
that was unsuccessful, containers might have to be removed
from the ship, which would cause a considerable delay, he
A source involved in the salvage operation told Reuters on
Monday they were re-ballasting the ship and expected that with
a favorable tide, cargo would not need to be removed. “The
good news is she’s moved. But she is still stuck in the mud. A
second large anchor-handling tug will arrive this morning.
Hopefully they will be able to pull her free.”
reports large incursion by Chinese air force.
March 29, 2021)Ten Chinese military aircraft including fighter
jets entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defence
identification zone on Monday, the island’s defence ministry
said, in a further escalation of tension across the sensitive
Taiwan’s air force deployed missiles to “monitor” the
incursion, the island’s defence ministry said, without
elaborating. It also said its planes warned the Chinese
aircraft over the radio.
Death in Web Servers Accelerates Further. 10% of Sites Lost
in Just One Month!
(22-min. video; TechRights, March 29,
The corporate ‘tech’ media never mentions it, but Microsoft is
becoming a dying breed in Web servers and it will have to quit
that sector altogether some time soon.
IIS might be a dead product 1-2 years from now, leaving
Microsoft in the (Web) server space no better than it is in
HPC/supercomputers. Shouldn’t that be all over the corporate
‘tech’ media? Well, when Microsoft pays the sites which claim
to cover “tech” they’d rather defame RMS on political
(non-tech) matters than cover actual tech news.
climate law zeroes out carbon pollution for Massachusetts.
(Ars Technica, March 29, 2021)
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law late last
week one of the nation’s most sweeping climate bills, putting
the state on a path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The
law sets emissions limits of 50 percent below 1990 levels by
2030 and 75 percent cuts by 2040 with interim limits every
five years. To achieve those goals, the Bay State will add
gigawatts of offshore wind power, spur cities and towns to
adopt a net-zero building code, and set targets for electric
vehicles, charging stations, and energy storage.
The state expects that it will be able to fully eliminate 85
percent of all carbon emissions by 2050. For the remaining 15
percent, it will have to find other options, including tree
planting or direct air capture of carbon dioxide. The net-zero
target of 2050 is encouraged by the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change to avoid warming of greater than 1.5˚ C.
The governor’s office and the legislature had been volleying
the bill back and forth for months—this was the third time the
legislature had sent the bill to Gov. Baker’s desk. Baker, a
Republican, has publicly supported climate legislation, but he
vetoed the first version in January and a second in February.
The legislature, which is majority Democrat, adopted some of
his suggested amendments and returned it a third time with a
Massachusetts will track progress across the entire economy
for the next 30 years.
revelations about GOP governors prove that COVID-19 has
truly been an American genocide.
(Daily Kos, March 29,
At least 563,000 Americans dead of the virus and likely far
more than that. Over 31 million confirmed cases. Poverty
rising to rates unseen since the Great Depression. When time
provides some buffer and perspective, it will be impossible to
recognize the pandemic in the United States as anything but a
genocide — at least to those unblinkered by American
exceptionalism). With that many deaths driven by cruelty and
politics, there’s no other word for it.
Republicans consciously ignored all scientists, medical
professionals, and policy experts, choosing to instead
encourage and even force their own constituents to march
towards their own doom. The facts are coming out now; in her
apology tour, Trump enabler Deborah Birx just estimated that
more than 400,000 American lives were lost due to Trump’s
blatant and purposeful mishandling of the virus.
But Trump wasn’t the only Republican leader that was grossly
negligent and willingly homicidal. Republicans across the
country, from senators to governors and state legislators,
downplayed the virus and spread lies about it from the moment
it arrived and began killing Americans by the dozen. They did
it with an election in mind, knowing that people of color were
dying at higher rates and that stoking inane and vulgar
culture wars allows GOP powerbrokers to continue their plunder
of the American people and the dying planet.
Cox Richardson: Voter Suppression in America
From An American, March 28, 2021)
Since the Civil War, voter suppression in America has had a
unique cast. The Civil War brought two great innovations to
the United States that would mix together to shape our
politics from 1865 onward:
First, the Republicans under Abraham Lincoln created our first
national system of taxation, including the income tax. For the
first time in our history, having a say in society meant
having a say in how other people’s money was spent.
Second, the Republicans gave Black Americans a say in society.
Most former Confederates wanted no part of this new system.
They tried to stop voters from ratifying the new constitutions
by dressing up in white sheets as the ghosts of dead southern
soldiers, terrorizing Black voters and the white men who were
willing to rebuild the South on these new terms to keep them
from the polls.
Today, Republicans talk about “election integrity,” but their
end game is the same as that of the former Confederates after
the war: to keep Black and Brown Americans away from the polls
to make sure the government does not spend tax dollars on
and dredgers struggle to free ship blocking Suez Canal,
despite rock under its bow.
(1-min. video; Reuters,
March 28, 2021)
Suez Canal salvage teams intensified excavation and dredging
on Sunday around a massive container ship blocking the busy
waterway ahead of attempts to refloat it, with two sources
saying work had been complicated by rock under the ship’s bow.
Diggers were working to remove parts of the canal’s bank and
expand dredging close to the ship’s bow to a depth of 18
metres (19.7 yards), the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in a
statement. There was no mention of new attempts to release the
ship with tugs, though canal officials and sources had said
they were hoping to take advantage of high tides on Sunday and
Monday to dislodge the vessel. A specialist tug registered in
the Netherlands arrived and would join efforts to refloat the
ship on Sunday evening, the ship’s technical manager Bernhard
Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) said.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered
preparations for the possible removal of some of the ship’s
18,300 containers, SCA Chairman Osama Rabie told Egypt’s Extra
Against Time to Free Ship Stuck in Suez Canal.
Times, March 28, 2021)
Days after the Ever Given
became lodged in the canal,
its rudder has been freed and dredging is complete. Some
salvagers hope it could be freed this weekend, but the wait
for shipping to resume continues.
tugboats speed to Egypt’s Suez Canal as shippers avoid it.
(Associated Press, March 28, 2021)
Two additional tugboats sped Sunday to Egypt’s Suez Canal to
aid efforts to free a skyscraper-sized container ship wedged
for days across the crucial waterway, even as major shippers
increasingly divert their boats out of fear the vessel may
take even longer to free.
The massive Ever Given
, a Panama-flagged,
Japanese-owned ship that carries cargo between Asia and
Europe, got stuck Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the
canal. In the time since, authorities have been unable to
remove the vessel and traffic through the canal — valued at
over $9 billion a day — has been halted, further disrupting a
global shipping network already strained by the coronavirus
The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard
and the Italian-flagged Carlo
, called in to help tugboats already there, reached
the Red Sea near the city of Suez early Sunday, satellite data
from MarineTraffic.com showed. The tugboats will nudge the
400-meter-long (quarter-mile-long) Ever Given
dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel
and mud caked to its port side, said Bernhard Schulte
Shipmanagement, techical manager of the Ever Given
[Whee! We now learn that the literally
skyscraper-sized Ever Given
, which has blocked
the Suez Canal in Egypt, is technically managed from Hamburg,
Germany! That's in addition to being built in South Korea (by
Hyundai in 2018), owned in Japan, leased to a company in
Taiwan, manned by a crew from India, and flying a flag of
convenience from Panama. The salvage operation is being
managed by Smit Salvage, a Dutch company. It seems that the
responsibility for this accident-ready-to-happen was "Ever
Given" to another.]
Canal Live Updates: As Impact of Ship Blockage Grows, So
Does Rescue Operation.
(New York Times, March 28, 2021)
The rudder of the giant cargo ship Ever Given
been blocking the crucial maritime route is now clear of mud
and dirt, and tonight a full moon will raise the tides. But
many challenges remain.
of Ever Given in Suez canal was foreseen by many.
(The Guardian, March 28, 2021)
Analysis: As ships ballooned in size, worst-case scenario was
flagged up by organisations such as OECD.
turns to fury in Myanmar as children shot by military.
(The Guardian, March 28, 2021)
Bloody crackdowns and massacres initiate anger and stronger
desire for a future without the Tatmadaw.
Tina Turner Is Very Ill. And She Has Come Back To America
For The Last Time...To Say Goodbye.
(1-min. and 4-min.
videos; Daily Kos, March 28, 2021)
For the first time in years, Tina and her husband Erwin Bach
returned to America, the country whose citizenship she
willingly gave up, for the Broadway premiere of her stage
show, Tina - The Tina Turner Musical
It is also the last time they plan to return here, to say
goodbye and thank you to her fans.
do faithless people like me make sense of this past year of
(The Guardian, March 28, 2021)
Many of us yearn for meaning. But in our individualistic,
secular society we lack even the flimsiest of narratives to
ionizer in your kid’s school may not do much to fight COVID.
(Ars Technica, March 28, 2021)
Claims that ionizers remove 99% of viruses are unproven;
cheaper air filters are more effective. Frustrated air-quality
scientists say the industry is making a play for funds that
should go to simpler, proven improvements to school
ventilation. “None of these devices have been proven to work,”
says Delphine Farmer, an atmospheric chemist at Colorado State
University who has studied ionization technology. “Anyone who
understands the chemistry would say you should be very wary of
A bigger concern, she adds, is the potential for air-cleaner
devices to do harm. Ionizers in particular have a history of
producing byproducts, including ozone, formaldehyde, and other
volatile compounds, that can damage the lungs. Tests of
AtmosAir’s ionizer by the New York State Department of Health
found elevated levels of ozone in classrooms where it was
But air cleaning is now in vogue in schools, which are flush
with federal funding to reopen safely and are poised to
receive much more. Dozens of districts have purchased ionizers
using Cares Act funding, as well as other chemical
Fauci on "Face the Nation", re COVID-19 status
video; CBS, March 28, 2021)
Whenever we see surges in travel, be that around the Christmas
and New Year's holiday and other types of holidays, you get
congregation of people. Even if on the planes people are
wearing masks, when you get to the airport, the check-in
lines, the food lines for restaurants, the boarding that you
see, how people sometimes can be congregating together, those
are the kind of things that invariably increase the risk of
Canal rescue teams call in giant vacuum cleaner in bid to
free grounded mega-ship.
(The Sun/UK, March 27, 2021)
Rescue teams have unveiled their latest weapon in the battle
to free a grounded mega-ship — a giant vacuum cleaner. A day
after they sent a lone digger to shift the 200,000-tonne Ever
, suction dredger Mashhour
has been called
in. It can hoover up 2,000 cubic metres of material an hour,
raising hopes that the giant cargo vessel can be freed from
the Suez Canal.
moves! 220,000-ton Ever Given budges for the first
time since getting stuck in Suez Canal... as officials admit
'human error' may have caused crash after first blaming
(2-min. satellite-data video, and 22 great
photos; Daily Mail/UK, March 27, 2021)
- Two attempts to dislodge the container ship - and reopen the
critical global trade route - will be made today.
- The Panama-flagged vessel, which is as long as the Empire
State building, has been stuck since Tuesday .
- Osama Rabie, Egypt's Suez Canal Authority chief, today said
that 'Technical or human errors led to the crash.'
[In the video, also note the collision of the two following
a Democrat Is Accused of Trying to Overturn the Election.
(New York Magazine, March 26, 2021)
Iowa Democrat Rita Hart is asking the House to declare her the
victor in November’s election for the open seat in Iowa’s
Second Congressional District over Republican Mariannette
Miller-Meeks. Hart’s claim is simple: Iowa’s certified results
put her six votes behind Miller-Meeks, but her legal team
points to 22 ballots that they argue were wrongly cast aside
by election officials and, if properly counted, would give
Hart a nine-vote victory. “Every legal voter in this country
has a right to have their ballot counted and the remedy here
is clear — count the ballots,” her campaign said in a
For Republicans, it is a gift that keeps giving. It is an
issue that energizes base voters, is perfect fodder for Fox
News segments and Wall Street Journal editorials, without
alienating any swing voters and helps memory-hole the ugly
aftermath of the 2020 election. For Democrats, with a slim
House majority, every seat in Congress is valuable — even if
it’s one like Iowa’s Second, due to come under the knife in
redistricting. The question is whether it is worth giving up
the moral high ground that Trump handed them.
The Past Three Months Have Been Like For QAnon Believers
(BuzzFeed News, March 26, 2021)
A millennial stay-at-home mom from South Carolina, a gay
couple from Texas, and a social worker in New York believed in
QAnon. Now that Biden is president, they’re not sure where to
go from here.
Extremists Move From ‘Stop the Steal’ to Stop the Vaccine.
(New York Times, March 26, 2021)
Extremist organizations are now bashing the safety and
efficacy of coronavirus vaccines in an effort to try to
undermine the government. Although negative reactions have
been relatively rare, the numbers are used by many extremist
groups to try to bolster a rash of false and alarmist
disinformation in articles and videos with titles like
“Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction — and Could
Wipe out the Human Race” or “Doctors and Nurses Giving the
Covid-19 Vaccine Will be Tried as War Criminals.”
Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in
internet chatrooms frequented by all manner of right-wing
groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a
loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil
War; and various paramilitary organizations. These groups tend
to portray vaccines as a symbol of excessive government
control. “If less people get vaccinated then the system will
have to use more aggressive force on the rest of us to make us
get the shot,” read a recent post on the Telegram social media
platform, in a channel linked to members of the Proud Boys
charged in storming the Capitol.
Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide
, by Chuck Collins (New Books Network, March
For decades, a secret army of tax attorneys, accountants and
wealth managers has been developing into the shadowy Wealth
Defense Industry. These ‘agents of inequality’ are paid
millions to hide trillions for the richest 0.01%. This
shocking exposé of the insidious machinery of inequality is
essential reading for anyone wanting the inside story of our
age of plutocratic plunder and stashed cash.
sound alarm of possible new COVID surge as US cases once
(Ars Technica, March 26, 2021)
CDC director says she's "deeply concerned about this
top security teams unilaterally shut down a counterterrorism
(MIT Technology Review, March 26, 2021)
The decision to block an “expert” level cyberattack has caused
controversy inside Google after it emerged that the hackers in
question were working for a US ally.
least 32 people killed, 108 injured after two trains collide
(1-min. video; Sky News, March 26, 2021)
The country's railway authority said emergency brakes in the
first train were triggered by "unknown individuals", causing
the train to stop. The second train then crashed into the
first from behind, causing two carriages to come off the
The crash is being investigated but it is the latest in a long
series of accidents on Egypt's dilapidated railway network.
fears mount as ships take long way around Africa to avoid
blocked Suez Canal.
(Washington Post, March 26, 2021)
Shipping prices have nearly doubled and oil prices climbed, as
the crisis in the canal enters a fourth day.
Brand-new Kia automobiles, cases of Heineken beer, live
animals and billions of dollars of crude oil and other
commodities remained stranded in the Suez Canal on Friday, as
tugboats and dredgers tried to free a grounded container ship
that has come to symbolize the perils of a global economy that
relies on being able to send goods around the world in larger
and larger vessels. The Ever Given
, one of the largest
container ships ever built, has been stuck in the canal since
Tuesday, creating an increasingly expensive traffic jam on
both sides of the waterway that connects Asia to Europe. Some
tankers have already opted to change course and travel around
the southern tip of Africa instead, adding weeks to their
journeys and raising fears that the valuable cargo could be an
appealing target in a region known for piracy.
Divert From Canal; Inflation Risks Emerge: Suez Update.
(Bloomberg, March 26, 2021)
The blockage of the Suez Canal is wreaking havoc on global
seaborne trade, raising the prospects of higher inflation with
more ships ferrying cargoes and commodities forced to divert.
A special dredger has also been deployed to free the Ever
, the vessel that has been stuck in the key
waterway for days. (Ever Given
alone is estimated to
carry $1B in cargo.) Natural gas prices have increased and
food supply chains may be affected if the blockage persists.
Mark Ma, owner of China-based Seabay International Freight
Forwarding Ltd., which has 20 to 30 containers waiting to
cross the blocked canal, said that if traffic doesn’t resume
in a week, “it will be horrible.”
initiates investigation into Ever Given Suez Canal
(Seatrade Maritime News, March 26, 2021)
Preliminary reports indicated that the Ever Given
suffered engine problems that affected its manoeuvrability at
approximately 0540 hrs (UTC) March 23, while transiting
through the Suez Canal with two pilots on board despite strong
winds and a sandstorm. The reasons for the grounding have not
yet been determined. So far there is no pollution or injuries,
only some structural damage to the vessel. Ever Given
Technical Manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) has
stated that “initial investigations rule out any mechanical or
engine failure as a cause of the grounding."
The Ever Given
is one of the largest container ships
in the world, built in 2018. She is 400 metres in length,
about 59 metres in width, 15.7 metres of draught and has a
capacity of 20,388 teu. With these dimensions, the container
walls act as sails and the vessel can be subject to gusts of
wind, said the statement.
Container Ships Are Causing A Frenzy At American Ports
(8-min. video; Cheddar Explainers, March 26, 2021)
There's an expensive and time-consuming fad sweeping America's
ports: dredging. This is the process by which ports dig up the
bottoms of their channels, either to maintain depth or go even
deeper. In the last 5-10 years, dredging has taken ports by
storm. To take just two examples: the Port of Boston recently
completed a $350 million project to dredge the channel from 40
to 51 feet, and the Port of Miami requested a second dredge in
2018, just three years after completing a $205 million project
to deepen their channel from 42 to 50 feet. They're far from
the only ones, so why are ports in a such a race to dig
deeper? What are the limits? Who is in charge? And what about
the environmental damages of this dredging?
[With good links for reading more.]
the Suez Canal blockage disrupt global trade?
video; Al Jazeera English, March 26, 2021)
Detailed discussion with three experts.
Ever Given - why can't it be pulled out? Suez canal
(5-min. video; Al Jazeera English, March 26,
M.V. Ever Given
is blocking the Suez canal - why can't
they just pull it out or dig it out? In this video, I will
explain the problem - and why this blockage is likely to last
a long time.
[An excellent technical analysis of the problems.]
cargo ship in Suez Canal could 'take weeks' to free.
(5-min. video; DW News, March 26, 2021)
Japanese media are reporting that the owner of a huge
container ship blocking Egypt's Suez canal aims to free it by
Saturday. But experts are warning it could take weeks. More
than a hundred and fifty ships are waiting to get in to what
is one of the world's most important shipping routes, with
hundreds more headed its way. A prolonged suspension of
traffic in the Suez will almost certainly impact global trade,
which has already been hit hard by the pandemic. The Suez
Canal is a choke-point for world-trade. It connects Asia and
Europe and sees 30-percent of the global
container-shipping-volume every day.
Canal blockage is delaying an estimated $400 million an hour
(NBC News, March 26, 2021)
"You have stimulus checks going into the hands of consumers.
[Some] businesses are running out of inventory. How can you
have a stimulus if you can’t buy anything?" said one logistics
to free the giant container ship wedged in the middle of the
(with excellent images and videos; Daily
Kos, March 25, 2021)
The 400-meter-long container ship Ever Given
in 2018, and is currently leased to Evergreen Marine Corp.
(Taiwan) from the Japanese company Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. It
is currently sailing under the flag of Panama with a crew from
India, and was en route to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The
container ship is longer than the width of the Suez canal
which is about 313 meters.
Dislodging the ship will be a difficult task. The
cross-section of the canal is wedge-shaped, not U-shaped; the
depth of the canal gradually decreases towards its banks. Ever
is about 400 meters long, 59 meters wide and 15.7
meters deep, while the canal is 313 meters wide and 24 meters
deep at its deepest point. The canal is only 225 meters wide
where the depth is 11 meters or more. The bow and stern of the
ship are wedged into the sandy sloped banks on either side of
Canal: Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt.
summary and images; Visual Capitalist, March 25, 2021)
The blockage of such an important shipping route is bound to
have consequences. According to Lloyd’s List, each day the
Suez Canal is closed disrupts over $9 billion worth of goods
European officials have also voiced concern about longer-term
impacts, particularly after the blockage is cleared. A sudden
influx of ships could cause massive congestion at European
ports and further disrupt supply chains.
[See the size of the Ever Given
compared to the Empire
the Suez Canal Ship Said to Need at Least a Week.
(Bloomberg, March 25, 2021)
The extended halt to traffic through one of the world’s most
important waterways is stretching a container-shipping
industry that’s already operating at full capacity. It
threatens costly delays for European companies that rely on a
steady flow of Asian imports and for consumers who’ve grown
fond of fast online purchases during the pandemic. The task of
re-floating the 200,000-ton ship called Ever Given
which is still firmly wedged across the vital maritime trade
route, will require about a week of work and potentially
longer, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to
be identified. Rescue efforts had initially been expected to
last only a couple of days.
were first who dared to forecast 'an act of God'.
(AccuWeather, March 25, 2021)
The men in charge of developing the first tornado forecast
were Air Force Capt. Robert C. Miller and Major Ernest J.
Fawbush. Rather than just forecasting thunderstorms, they
would now try to predict which thunderstorms could spin up a
dangerous twister and what areas were at the greatest risk,
but their challenges were many and complex. According to NOAA,
Miller and Fawbush would need to take into account surface and
upper air data then determine the “existence of these
parameters or the probability of their development,” while
then using those parameters to highlight a specific area all
while giving proper lead time for people to seek safety.
QAnon followers report having mental health diagnoses.
(The Conversation, March 25, 2021)
In court records of QAnon followers arrested in the wake of
the Capitol insurrection, 68% reported they had received
mental health diagnoses. The conditions they revealed included
post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, paranoid
schizophrenia and Munchausen syndrome by proxy – a
psychological disorder that causes one to invent or inflict
health problems on a loved one, usually a child, in order to
gain attention for themselves. By contrast, 19% of all
Americans have a mental health diagnosis.
QAnon’s rise has coincided with an unfolding mental health
crisis in the United States. Even before the COVID-19
pandemic, the number of diagnoses of mental illness was
growing, with 1.5 million more people diagnosed in 2019 than
in 2018. The isolation of the lockdowns, compounded by the
anxiety related to COVID and the economic uncertainty, made a
bad situation worse. Self-reported anxiety and depression
quadrupled during the quarantine and now affects as much as
40% of the U.S. population.
It could be that QAnon is less a problem of terrorism and
extremism than it is one of poor mental health. Only a few
dozen QAnon followers are accused of having done anything
illegal or violent – which means that for millions of QAnon
believers, their radicalization may be of their opinions, but
not their actions. In my view, the solution to this aspect of
the QAnon problem is to address the mental health needs of all
Americans – including those whose problems manifest as QAnon
beliefs. Many of them – and many others who are not QAnon
followers – could clearly benefit from counseling and therapy.
make national crisis out of Kamala Harris failing to salute,
but she isn't supposed to.
(Daily Kos, March 25, 2021)
There are few certainties in life, but Fox News prejudicially
judging Black Democrats more harshly than white Republicans is
arguably one of them. Fittingly, the news network and other
Republicans ripped Vice President Kamala Harris for failing to
follow in the tradition of former President Ronald Reagan and
salute members of the U.S. Military when she boarded Air Force
Two on Monday and in at least three other incidences this
month. “Kamala Harris doesn’t salute members of the military
as she gets on Air Force Two, breaking with a customary
tradition of respect,” Charlie Kirk, host of the conservative
radio show Turning Point USA, tweeted. “Remember when she and
Joe Biden tried to sell the lie that *Trump* was the one who
didn’t respect the troops?” Former New York City Police
Commissioner Bernard Kerik called the vice president's failure
to salute "disgraceful" on Twitter. “It is a clear
demonstration of her dislike for those in uniform, both
law-enforcement and military,” he tweeted.
The flaw in his and Kirk’s logic is that it’s actually
inappropriate for the vice president to salute, according to
Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College. “The
Commander in Chief returns salutes as a matter of courtesy (a
practice started by Reagan), but the VP is a civilian who is
not in the chain of command. It would be incorrect for her to
salute anyone, and @FoxNews knows this. If other VPs did it,
it was incorrect,” Nicols tweeted on Tuesday.
vans are all the rage at DHL, UPS—maybe even USPS, too.
(Ars Technica, March 25, 2021)
Lightning eMotors gets more orders, and UK-based Arrival lists
big on the NASDAQ.
chip shortage worsens, forces production cuts at GM,
(Ars Technica, March 24, 2021)
And a fire at a Renesas factory in Japan just made it even
shuts down Chinese hackers who infected iOS and Android
(Ars Technica, March 24, 2021)
The social media platform was used to spread malware that
spied on Uyghurs for more than two years. Malware for both
mobile OSes had advanced capabilities that could steal just
about anything stored on an infected device. The hackers,
which researchers have linked to groups working on behalf of
the Chinese government, planted the malware on websites
frequented by activists, journalists, and dissidents who
originally came from Xinjiang and had later moved abroad.
a year of downplaying the pandemic, longtime Fox News
employee died of COVID-19.
(Daily Kos, March 24, 2021)
Maria Bartiromo’s Fox News gig has been a long march into the
bottom of an ocean awash in fearmongering, bigotry, and
misinformation. Like most Fox News programming this past year,
Bartiromo’s programs have been showcases for easily debunked
conspiracy theories, all racist and anti-China by nature.
On Monday, CNN reported Eric Spinato, a senior Fox News
employee who’d been with the network for 20 years, died from
COVID-19 complications. Spinato was the “head booker and
senior story editor for the Fox Business Network” where he
handled bookings for top shows like Bartiromo’s
Unfortunately, the underselling and the lies and
misinformation, along with the single most inept
administration in living memory, led to out-of-control public
health and economic crises the likes that no one living
remembers. It also led to the premature death of a reportedly
well-liked and well-regarded Fox News’ employee, Spinato.
Spinato worked at a network where the hosts he helped support
did very little to support him back by refusing to inform the
audience of all the facts. Spinato leaves behind a wife and
two teenage sons.
Warn: Preservative Used in Hundreds of Popular Foods May
Harm the Immune System.
(SciTechDaily, March 24, 2021)
A food preservative used to prolong the shelf life of
Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its and almost 1,250
other popular processed foods may harm the immune system,
according to a new peer-reviewed study by Environmental
Working Group. For the study, published this week in the
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public
Health, EWG researchers used data from the Environmental
Protection Agency’s Toxicity Forecaster, or ToxCast, to assess
the health hazards of the most common chemicals added to food,
as well as the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, which can
migrate to food from packaging.
EWG’s analysis of ToxCast data showed that the preservative
tert-butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, has been found to harm the
immune system both in both animal tests and in non-animal
tests known as high-throughput in vitro toxicology testing.
This finding is of particular concern during the coronavirus
pandemic. “The pandemic has focused public and scientific
attention on environmental factors that can impact the immune
system,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG vice president for
science investigations and lead author of the new study.
“Before the pandemic, chemicals that may harm the immune
system’s defense against infection or cancer did not receive
sufficient attention from public health agencies. To protect
public health, this must change.”
discover how humans develop larger brains than other apes.
(Phys.org, March 24, 2021)
A new study is the first to identify how human brains grow
much larger, with three times as many neurons, compared with
chimpanzee and gorilla brains. The study, led by researchers
at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular
Biology in Cambridge, UK, identified a key molecular switch
that can make ape brain organoids grow more like human
organoids, and vice versa. The study, published in the journal
Cell, compared 'brain organoids' - 3-D tissues grown from stem
cells which model early brain development—that were grown from
human, gorilla and chimpanzee stem cells. Similar to actual
brains, the human brain organoids grew a lot larger than the
organoids from other apes.
Painted More Than 2,500 Years Ago Depicts Salt as an Ancient
Maya Commodity at a Marketplace.
University, March 23, 2021)
Salt cakes could have been easily transported in canoes along
the coast and up rivers in southern Belize, writes LSU
archaeologist Heather McKillop in a new paper published in the
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.
She discovered in 2004 the first remnants of ancient Maya salt
kitchen buildings made of pole and thatch that had been
submerged and preserved in a saltwater lagoon in a mangrove
forest in Belize. Since then, she and her team of LSU graduate
and undergraduate students and colleagues have mapped 70 sites
that comprise an extensive network of rooms and buildings of
the Paynes Creek Salt Works. “It’s like a blueprint for what
happened in the past,” McKillop said. “They were boiling brine
in pots over fires to make salt.” Her research team has
discovered at the Paynes Creek Salt Works, 4,042 submerged
architectural wooden posts, a canoe, an oar, a high-quality
jadeite tool, stone tools used to salt fish and meat and
hundreds of pieces of pottery. “I think the ancient Maya who
worked here were producer-vendors and they would take the salt
by canoe up the river. They were making large quantities of
salt, much more than they needed for their immediate families.
This was their living,” said McKillop.
Given Container Ship Runs Aground in Suez Canal
(Wikipedia, March 23, 2021)
is a Golden-class container ship, one of the
largest container ships in the world. The ship is owned by
Shoei Kisen Kaisha (a shipowning and leasing subsidiary of the
large Japanese shipbuilding company Imabari Shipbuilding), and
time chartered and operated by container transportation and
shipping company Evergreen Marine. Ever Given
registered in Panama, and its technical management is the
responsibility of the German ship management company Bernhard
Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM).
On 23 March 2021, while traveling from Tanjung Pelepas,
Malaysia to Rotterdam, Netherlands, the ship ran aground in
the Suez Canal, blocking it.
lays out plans for its first flights on Mars.
Technica, March 23, 2021)
The expectation is that we'll have five flights over the
course of a month, beginning on April 8th.
Ingenuity looks familiar to anyone who's seen any of the
profusion of small consumer drones that have developed over
the last decade or so. But, as Ingenuity's chief engineer Bob
Balaram put it, "It's the first aircraft designed for powered
flight on another planet," and that makes for some substantial
differences with Earth-bound drones. For starters, the
hardware is much bigger than it might seem from the photos, as
each of its two counter-rotating blades is 1.2 meters (four
feet) long. Ingenuity also weighs in at 1.8 kilograms (four
pounds) on Earth, although it's less than half of that weight
on the red planet. Balaram also said that "In effect, this is
an aircraft that also happens to be a spacecraft," noting it
had to survive the stresses of launch and landing, as well as
the temperature extremes of its flight to Mars and time on the
surface. That has necessitated a heating element in
Ingenuity's fuselage, which keeps things like the batteries
and electronics operational overnight. Once released on the
planet's surface by Perseverance, Ingenuity will be
responsible for providing its own power, which it obtains via
a solar panel perched above the blades.
Prefer Baby Talk, Regardless of Which Languages They’re Used
(SciTechDaily, March 23, 2021)
Some parents worry that teaching two languages could mean an
infant won’t learn to speak on time, but the new study shows
bilingual babies are developmentally right on track. The
peer-reviewed study, published today by Advances in Methods
and Practices in Psychological Science, found bilingual babies
became interested in baby talk at the same age as those
learning one language.
According to the study, 6- to 9-month-old babies who had
mothers with higher levels of education preferred baby talk
more than babies whose mothers had less education. “We suspect
that perhaps the mothers with higher education levels spoke
more to the babies and used infant-directed speech more
often,” Mateu said.
Russian journalists are thriving on YouTube — for now.
(Rest Of World, March 23, 2021)
With television networks full of government propaganda,
YouTube is a vital platform for debate. But will the freedom
Hong Kong journalist is on trial for using a public
(Rest Of World, March 23, 2021)
The arrest of investigative reporter Bao Choy has implications
for journalists, activists, lawyers, and investors.
operators are piling on already hacked Exchange servers.
(Ars Technica, March 23, 2021)
Microsoft Exchange servers compromised in a first round of
attacks are getting infected for a second time by a ransomware
gang that is trying to profit from a rash of exploits that
caught organizations around the world flat-footed. The
ransomware—known as Black Kingdom, DEMON, and DemonWare—is
demanding $10,000 for the recovery of encrypted data, security
researchers said. The malware is getting installed on Exchange
servers that were previously infected by attackers exploiting
a critical vulnerability in the Microsoft email program.
Attacks started while the vulnerability was still a zero-day.
Even after Microsoft issued an emergency patch, as many as
100,000 servers that didn’t install it in time were infected.
expected, extremists say more armed citizens are needed to
stop slaughters after Boulder shooting.
March 23, 2021)
With 2 cases of voter fraud in 2020: "Let’s make it harder to
vote." With 38,000 gun deaths a year in US: "Let’s make it
easier to buy guns."
Suppose for a moment that not one, but five people in that
Aurora theater are packing concealed pistols. Suppose two of
them are highly skilled, and that the other three just have
the level that most gun-owners have...
[Also see: US
has 5 percent of world's population, but had 31 percent of
its public mass shooters from 1966-2012.
EurekAlert, August 23, 2015)
This study provides empirical evidence, based on its
quantitative assessment of 171 countries, that a nation's
civilian firearm ownership rate is the strongest predictor of
its number of public mass shooters.]
Biden mourns 10 killed in Boulder and calls for ban on
(2-min., 4-min. videos; Washington
Post, March 23, 2021)
‘There is no good motive, it is evil,’ Colorado Gov. Polis
says of Boulder shooting.
after assault weapons ban was lifted in Boulder, a community
grieves another mass shooting in America: "It hurts."
(2-min. video; Washington Post, March 23, 2021)
The suspect purchased an AR-556 pistol March 16, according to
the arrest affidavit. Ten people were killed at a supermarket
yesterday, after he opened fire.
Community: “Previous Guy was a tool in a long-running
Russian campaign to weaken the USA.”
(Daily Kos, March
Donald Trump was a tool in a long-running Russian campaign to
weaken the United States. That’s been documented in
Republican-led investigative reports, and now it has been
updated with new evidence, thanks to the U.S. Intelligence
Community’s assessment of the 2020 election. The report,
drafted by the CIA, the FBI, and several other agencies, was
released in unclassified form on Tuesday
, but it was
presented in classified form on Jan. 7. In other words, it was
compiled, written, and edited during Trump’s administration.
It destroys his lies about the election, and it exposes him as
a Russian asset.
Trump needs secrecy, in everything he does, he craves secrecy.
One might guess it is because his “brand” is the exact
opposite of what goes on behind the scenes, the self-made,
wealthy, business genius, is nothing more than a trust-fund
baby with a life-threatening anger problem, one who might have
been involved with lawbreaking all along, nothing new when he
Delivery Drivers Forced to Sign ‘Biometric Consent’ Form or
(Vice, March 23, 2021)
The new cameras, which are being implemented nationwide, use
artificial intelligence to access drivers' location, movement,
and biometric data.
is using new AI-powered cameras in delivery trucks that can
sense when drivers yawn. Here's how they work.
Insider, March 22, 2021)
In February, The Information reported on an instructional
video for Amazon delivery drivers announcing a new suite of
artificial intelligence-equipped cameras to surveil drivers
during the entirety of their routes. The decision sparked some
backlash, and one driver told the Thomson Reuters Foundation
that the policy change had driven him to quit, calling it an
invasion of privacy.
Amazon has faced controversy over claims of surveillance in
the past. In January of this year, more than 200 workers
signed a petition sent to the CEO Jeff Bezos asking for an end
to what the employees called "labor surveillance" ahead of
breakthrough for 'massless' energy storage in vehicles and
(Chalmers University of
Technology/Sweden, March 22, 2021)
Researchers have produced a structural battery that performs
ten times better than all previous versions. It contains
carbon fibre that serves simultaneously as an electrode,
conductor, and load-bearing material. Structural battery
composites cannot store as much energy as lithium-ion
batteries, but have several characteristics that make them
highly attractive for use in vehicles and other applications.
When the battery becomes part of the load bearing structure,
the mass of the battery essentially 'disappears'.
Trees, Tenderness, and the Moon: Hasui Kawase’s Stunning
Japanese Woodblock Prints from the 1920s-1950s.
Pickings, March 22, 2021)
Hasui became a master of shin hanga — the “new prints”
movement fusing traditional Japanese art, the art of shadows,
with the Western aesthetics of light and the European novelty
of perspective. He went on to create several hundred
consummate woodblock prints, watercolors, oil paintings, and
hanging scrolls, animated by a tender reverence for the beauty
and majesty of nature. One hundred of them are collected in
the lavish annotated volume, Visions
of Japan: Kawase Hasui’s Masterpieces
Hasui captured the enchantment of snowfall with especial
loveliness, his intricate lines challenging the artisans he
employed in carving his woodblock designs to rise to new
levels of craftsmanship. But among all of nature’s beauties,
nothing inspired him more than trees — those eternal muses of
scientists, artists, philosophers, and poets alike — and what
Margaret Fuller so unforgettably called “that best fact, the
languages that defy auto-translate.
(BBC, March 22,
There are more than 7,000 languages in the world, 4,000 of
which are written. Yet only 100 or so can be translated by
automated tools such as Google Translate. New research
promises to let us communicate with the others.
Training a human translator or intelligence analyst in a new
language can take years. Even then, it may not be enough for
the task at hand. "In Nigeria, for instance, there are over
500 languages spoken," Rubino says. "Even our most
world-renowned experts in that country may understand just a
small fraction of those, if any." To break that barrier, IARPA
is funding research to develop a system that can find,
translate and summarise information from any low-resource
language, whether it is in text or speech.
National Guard Soldiers transporting vaccines held at
gunpoint in West Texas, suspect arrested.
Larry Harris, of Willcox, Arizona, is accused of following
three National Guardsmen vans from Love’s Travel Station on
East Regis Street in Lubbock to about two miles east of
Idalou. Police say Harris attempted multiple times to run the
vans off of the roadway. He then turned his vehicle into
oncoming traffic on Hwy. 62/82 and stopped the vans. He then
pointed a gun at an unarmed National Guardsman, identified
himself as a detective, and demanded to search the vehicles
and ordered the rest of the unarmed guardsmen out of their
vehicles at gunpoint.
When police arrived on the scene, Harris was in possession of
a loaded Colt 1911 pistol .45 Caliber. He had an additional
loaded magazine on his person and another loaded magazine in
his truck, police say. Harris told police he thought the
people in the vans had kidnapped a woman and child. All 11 of
the guardsmen were in uniform.
Biden to nominate tech antitrust pioneer Lina Khan for FTC
(Verge, March 22, 2021)
President Joe Biden has announced his intent to nominate Lina
Khan, a legal scholar and leading voice in the growing tech
antitrust movement, to serve as a commissioner at the Federal
Trade Commission. The pick signals that the Biden
administration is preparing to take on some of the tech
industry’s most powerful and influential companies. In 2017,
Khan authored an article for the Yale Law Journal titled
“Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which exploded in popularity in
progressive economic policy circles. Khan has also served as
an aide to the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on
antitrust throughout its yearslong investigation into
anticompetitive behavior in the tech industry.
Khan’s nomination follows the appointment of Tim Wu, a
Columbia Law professor, to work on technology and competition
policy at the National Economic Council. Wu coined the term
“net neutrality” and has been a prominent voice on the subject
of antitrust regulation against Big Tech companies like
Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
Powell admits her dangerous lies about Dominion really were
(Daily Kos, March 22, 2021)
It’s been amply established that Sidney Powell bears a large
measure of moral responsibility—at the very least—for creating
the poisonous environment that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Powell was one of the main legal lowlights behind Trump’s
misbegotten legal effort to steal another term. Powell’s
claims to fame were a series of lawsuits that alleged Dominion
Voting Systems was in cahoots with Venezuela to steal victory
from Trump—the infamous “Kraken” lawsuits. All four of them
crashed and burned—but not before her claims led to Dominion
and its employees facing vicious harassment and trolling. At
least one Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, was driven into
Partly due to this, Dominion filed a whopping $1.3 billion
defamation suit against Powell, her law firm, and her
nonprofit organization, Defend the Republic. Well, earlier
today, Powell sought to throw out the suit. Her reasoning?
Wait for it—she now says “no reasonable person” would believe
of emergency in Miami Beach extended to April 11 as spring
breakers overwhelm the city.
(Washington Post, March 21,
Miami Beach leaders attributed the surge in visitors to
coronavirus-related closures in other areas, coupled with
cheap flights and demand for travel. Florida reopened before
many other states and has fewer restrictions. The emergency
order noted that many revelers have not been wearing masks or
keeping distant from one another. Gelber said the virus is
“still very present in our community,” with people continuing
to become infected and checking into hospitals, and variants
posing a new threat.
Although the emergency measures passed unanimously Sunday,
commissioners expressed dismay that they were necessary.
Pointing out that the city has been battling spring break
chaos for years, commissioner Ricky Arriola said the city has
gone further this year than he had ever imagined, and yet
problems persist. “At what point are we going to think about
doing something different?” he asked.
Satellite Constellation to Boost Wi-Fi on Planes – Speeds Up
(SciTechDaily, March 21, 2021)
Flight passengers will soon be able to connect to their
families and colleagues on Earth via low-orbit
telecommunications satellites. Speeds will be comparable to
those at home, substantially boosting the service currently
provided by geostationary satellites.
On March 19, 2021, communications company OneWeb signed an
agreement to deliver Wi-Fi on aircraft with SatixFy, a British
manufacturer of electronic components. They will develop
in-flight connectivity terminals that will work over OneWeb’s
constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites, as well as on
geostationary satellite networks. The companies are targeting
2022 for certification and flight testing. OneWeb currently
has 110 satellites in orbit but foresees a constellation of
Origins: Feet, legs, buttocks
((Daily Kos, March 21,
Unlike other primates, humans are bipedal, meaning that we
walk on two legs. Bipedalism is generally considered to be the
central feature of being human and has consequences for much
of our anatomy.
More Human Origins
, The Human Face
, Humans as naked apes
, The Human Hand
, Transitional Humans
, Fossil Evidence
Problems in Both Men and Women Are Rising at an Alarming
(Scientific American, March 21, 2021)
A likely culprit is hormone-disrupting chemicals.
Detect 55 Chemicals Never Before Reported in People – 42
“Mystery Chemicals” Whose Sources Are Unknown.
(University of California San Francisco, March 21, 2021)
“These chemicals have probably been in people for quite some
time, but our technology is now helping us to identify more of
them,” said Tracey J. Woodruff, PhD, a professor of
obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at UCSF. “It
is alarming that we keep seeing certain chemicals travel from
pregnant women to their children, which means these chemicals
can be with us for generations,” she said. The scientific team
used high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) to identify
human-made chemicals in people.
“It’s very concerning that we are unable to identify the uses
or sources of so many of these chemicals,” Woodruff said. “EPA
must do a better job of requiring the chemical industry to
standardize its reporting of chemical compounds and uses. And
they need to use their authority to ensure that we have
adequate information to evaluate potential health harms and
remove chemicals from the market that pose a risk.”
we know about the victims of the Atlanta shootings.
(Washington Post, March 20, 2021)
In three deadly shootings Tuesday at Atlanta-area spas, eight
people lost their lives, leaving behind family members — one
an infant daughter — and friends, including longtime
customers. Seven of the eight killed were women. Six people
were of Asian descent. Two were White. One was a newlywed
bride getting a massage with her husband. Another was an
immigrant from China who proudly built her business from
nothing. The youngest was 33. The oldest was 77.
Women from Science? There’s a Name for That.
March 20, 2021)
Countless women scientists have have been shunted to the
footnotes, with credit for their work going to male
colleagues. This is called the Matilda Effect
1883, feminist, abolitionist, and sociologist Matilda Joslyn
Gage wrote an essay titled “Woman as an Inventor.”
begins by disputing the common assertion that women possess
“no inventive or mechanical genius.” In reality, Gage points
out, “Although woman’s scientific education has been grossly
neglected…some of the most important inventions of the world
are due to her.”
Ancient 'Deer' Lost Their Legs and Became Whales
(Discover, March 19, 2021)
They traded in their legs for flippers, gained blow holes and
evolved into the largest creatures on Earth. How did these
creatures go from cat-sized "deer" to blue whales the length
of about two city buses? It took a lot of small changes over
tens of millions of years.
Hubble Telescope Images Capture Changing Seasons in Saturn’s
Vast and Turbulent Atmosphere.
(SciTechDaily, March 19,
The Hubble data show that from 2018 to 2020 the equator got 5
to 10 percent brighter, and the winds changed slightly. In
2018, winds measured near the equator were about 1,000 miles
per hour (roughly 1,600 kilometers per hour), higher than
those measured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during 2004-2009,
when they were about 800 miles per hour (roughly 1,300
kilometers per hour). In 2019 and 2020 they decreased back to
the Cassini speeds. Saturn’s winds also vary with altitude, so
the change in measured speeds could possibly mean the clouds
in 2018 were around 37 miles (about 60 kilometers) deeper than
those measured during the Cassini mission. Further
observations are needed to tell which is happening.
Settlement Likely by 2050 Says Expert – But Not at Levels
Predicted by Elon Musk.
(SciTechDaily, March 19, 2021)
Robotic mining that can provide water and fuel is the key to
developing a colony on the red planet within the next 30
years. Mars will be colonized by humans by the year 2050, as
long as autonomous mining processes quickly become more
That’s the view of Professor Serkan Saydam from UNSW Sydney in
the wake of the amazing landing on Mars by NASA’s Perseverance
rover. Perseverance is expected to provide answers about
whether forms of life ever existed on the red planet, but it
is also designed to help address the challenges of future
human expeditions there.
halts air travel following volcanic eruption.
video; DW, March 19, 2021)
A volcano in southwest Iceland and 25 miles from Reykavik, its
capital city, has erupted — as anticipated following thousands
of smaller earthquakes in the area in recent weeks.
Particulates More Dangerous Than Previously Thought – Can
Trigger Pneumonia, Asthma, and Even Cancer.
(SciTechDaily, March 19, 2021)
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have for the
first time observed photochemical processes inside the
smallest particles in the air. In doing so, they discovered
that additional oxygen radicals that can be harmful to human
health are formed in these aerosols under everyday conditions.
They report on their results today (March 19, 2021) in the
journal Nature Communications.
It is well known that airborne particulate matter can pose a
danger to human health. The particles, with a maximum diameter
of ten micrometers, can penetrate deep into lung tissue and
settle there. They contain reactive oxygen species (ROS), also
called oxygen radicals, which can damage the cells of the
lungs. The more particles there are floating in the air, the
higher the risk. The particles get into the air from natural
sources such as forests or volcanoes. But human activities,
for example in factories and traffic, multiply the amount so
that concentrations reach a critical level. The potential of
particulate matter to bring oxygen radicals into the lungs, or
to generate them there, has already been investigated for
various sources. Now the PSI researchers have gained important
(10-min. video; Living On Earth, March 19, 2021)
When climate reporter Phil McKenna needed a new fridge, he
tried to steer clear of any appliance that would use
super-potent greenhouse gases to cool his groceries. Despite
his efforts he ended up with a “carbon bomb” containing a
greenhouse gas thousands of times more potent than CO2. He
wrote about his saga for Inside Climate News and joins Host
Steve Curwood to talk about why industry has made it so hard
to find climate-friendly appliances.
Solid-State Race: Legacy Automakers Reach for Battery
(Inside Climate News, March 19, 2021)
GM is the latest company to team-up with a battery start-up
(SolidEnergy Systems, or SES of Singapore
with links to MIT), in a bid to develop a solid-state vehicle
battery and to manufacture it in Woburn, Massachusetts.
net neutrality in the US
(Mozilla, March 19, 2021)
Today, Mozilla together with other internet companies ADT,
Dropbox, Eventbrite, Reddit, Vimeo, Wikimedia, sent
a letter to the FCC
asking the agency to reinstate net
neutrality as a matter of urgency.
Net neutrality preserves the environment that allowed the
internet to become an engine for economic growth. In a
marketplace where users frequently do not have access to more
than one internet service provider (ISP), these rules ensure
that data is treated equally across the network by
gatekeepers. More specifically, net neutrality prevents
ISPs from leveraging their market power to slow, block, or
prioritize content, ensuring that users can freely access
ideas and services without unnecessary roadblocks.
Without these rules in place, ISPs can make it more difficult
for new ideas or applications to succeed, potentially stifling
innovation across the internet.
The need for net neutrality protections has become even more
apparent during the pandemic. In a moment where classrooms and
offices have moved online by necessity, it is critically
important to have rules paired with strong government
oversight and enforcement to protect families and businesses
from predatory practices. In California, residents will have
the benefit of these fundamental safeguards as a result of a
recent court decision that will allow the state to enforce its
state net neutrality law. However, we believe that users
nationwide deserve the same ability to control their own
For almost a decade, Mozilla has defended user access to the
internet, in the US and around the world. Our work to preserve
net neutrality has been a critical part of that effort,
including our lawsuit against the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) to keep these protections in place for users
in the US.
With the recent appointment of Acting Chairwoman Jessica
Rosenworcel to lead the agency, there will be a new
opportunity to establish net neutrality rules at the federal
level in the near future, ensuring that families and
businesses across the country can enjoy these fundamental
While there are many challenges that need to be resolved to
fix the internet, reinstating net neutrality is a crucial down
payment on the much broader internet reform that we need. Net
neutrality is good for people and for personal expression. It
is good for business, for innovation, for our economic
recovery. It is good for the internet. It has long enjoyed
bipartisan support among the American public. There is no
reason to further delay its reinstatement once the FCC is in
a college dropout in New Hampshire found a Shakespeare
secret all the PhDs missed
. (Boston Globe, March 19,
Dennis McCarthy, a self-taught scholar working from his dinner
table, is challenging decades of scholarship on the origins of
the Bard’s greatest work.
no’: GOP immigration allies disappear as crisis mounts.
(Politico, March 19, 2021)
A bipartisan group is looking to break the chamber's gridlock,
but few Senate Republicans are leaping to help Biden. Trump
really set the stage and said, "Immigration is going to be an
issue for the future of the Republican Party. And we're
are in disarray without Donald Trump – but that doesn't mean
they aren't still a threat.
(Salon, March 19, 2021)
The GOP is too distracted by relitigating Donald Trump's 2020
loss to fight against President Joe Biden's agenda.
Republicans Shun Vaccines, Congress Toils to Return to
(New York Times, March 19, 2021)
A quarter of lawmakers have yet to receive a coronavirus
vaccine, even though they have been available since December.
Mar-a-Lago partially closed due to COVID outbreak.
(Associated Press, March 18, 2021)
Trump was hospitalized with COVID-19 last fall and has since
been vaccinated against the virus. Mar-a-Lago was the site of
his first known exposure more than a year ago. A senior
Brazilian official tested positive last year after spending
time at Mar-a-Lago, where he posed for a photo next to Trump
and attended a family birthday party.
The Trump White House was hit with several subsequent
outbreaks after it flouted virus precautions by resisting
mask-wearing and continuing to hold large events.
America Isn’t Going to Be Anything Like the Roaring ’20s.
(Politico, March 18, 2021)
Hopes of a repeat of the post-influenza Roaring ’20s are
understandable, but they misunderstand the differences between
then and now, says historian John M. Barry.
Behind the flappers, bootleggers and Gatsbyesque decadence was
a hard-won fatalism that came from the level of loss and
devastation wrought by the war and the flu, which, unlike
Covid, disproportionately killed younger Americans,
contributing to a sense among some who survived that since
they could die young, they might as well live hard.
Where the Covid pandemic has stretched on and on, with
Americans mostly staying at home for the better part of a
year, the flu swept through most cities in a matter of weeks
but exacted a much heavier toll. Where Covid has killed
roughly 2.7 million people worldwide, the influenza pandemic
of 1918-’19 killed 50 million to 100 million people at a time
the global population was less than one-fourth its current
Barry also notes that the influenza pandemic
disproportionately affected young adults, whereas older people
have suffered most from Covid. One study by Metropolitan Life
found that during the 1918 pandemic, 3.6 percent of all
industrial workers ages 25–45 died within the period of a few
weeks. “That’s not case mortality; that’s mortality,” Barry
says, adding, “In 1918, the deaths among young children were
In 1918, the first wave was extraordinarily mild. One
statistic largely tells that story: The French army had 40,000
soldiers hospitalized [with the flu] and fewer than 100 deaths
— and that’s without modern medicine. That’s the first wave.
When the first wave ended, there were actually medical journal
articles saying, “It’s gone. It has disappeared.” The second
wave was much more lethal and significantly more intense. It
was the one that really counted. In the second wave, the
military generally had 10 percent case mortality — and in many
instances, much higher. One of the biggest differences between
1918 and today is duration. The second wave would move through
a community in six to 10 weeks. It was different.
The other thing is, of course, the war — particularly in
Europe. You had 20 million people killed in World War I,
[including] almost 10 million soldiers. The United States only
lost a little over 50,000 [troops]; the war, in terms of
deaths, hardly touched us.
One similarity between then and now: Like the influenza virus,
the novel coronavirus isn’t going to simply disappear. It
doesn’t actually depend on human beings in order to survive;
it’s ambivalent about whether mankind exists at all. “This
virus seems to pass between people and other mammals very,
very easily. That was also true in 1918,” Barry says. In that
sense, coronavirus is not unlike the 1918 flu virus, parts of
which live on in the seasonal flus we experience every year.
It’s a rather sobering reality, says Barry: “This virus is
here to stay.”
not just you: Why everyone is super exhausted right now.
(Salon, March 18, 2021)
It's not Daylight Savings Time: You might suffer from
"Pandemic Trauma and Stress Experience," or PTSE.
"Now that the infection rates have been decreasing, people are
getting vaccinated, and some returning to more normal lives or
feelings of safety, that space of feeling the need to
constantly survive is also decreasing," Campbell said. "This
is causing many clients to now have the time and space to
pause and realize the impacts of the past year, which is
leading to greater exhaustion."
Fatigue is common in delayed trauma responses, which could
certainly be part of the extreme exhaustion many are
experiencing. As researchers have noted, persistent fatigue,
sleep disorders, nightmares, fear of recurrence, and anxiety
are common delayed trauma responses among survivors.
the coronavirus leak from a lab? These scientists say we
shouldn’t rule it out.
(MIT Technology Review, March 18,
For many scientists, challenging the idea that SARS-CoV-2 has
natural origins is seen as career suicide. But a vocal few say
it shouldn't be disregarded or lumped in with conspiracy
States Sue Biden Administration Over Revoked Keystone XL
(NTD, March 18, 2021)
In his executive
order signed in January
, Biden said the revocation was
necessary because the pipeline “disserves the U.S. national
interest.” “The United States and the world face a climate
crisis,” the order stated. “At home, we will combat the crisis
with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both
reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs.
Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic
engagement. Because most greenhouse gas emissions originate
beyond our borders, such engagement is more necessary and
urgent than ever. Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in
place would not be consistent with my administration’s
economic and climate imperatives.”
we know so far about the victims of the Atlanta shooting
(New York Times, March 18, 2021)
murders: Reckless gun laws may have played a role.
(Baltimore Sun, March 18, 2021)
Tuesday’s attack on several Atlanta-area spas that left eight
people dead has renewed concerns about violence directed
toward Asian Americans amid the pandemic. The 21-year-old
charged in the shootings is white, while six of the eight
victims were women of Asian descent. And studies have shown a
significant uptick in hate crimes against Asian Americans in
large U.S. cities linked to the rhetoric of Donald Trump and
often amplified by white nationalist supporters who describe
COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” or “Kung Flu.”
But there’s another element in these attacks that deserves
scrutiny, and it, too, represents a broad and persistent
problem in this country. The man charged in these attacks —
the worst mass shooting in the U.S. in nearly two years —
purchased a firearm the same day police say he went on his
Robert Aaron Long, the man charged with eight counts of
murder, reportedly strolled into a Cherokee County gun store
on Tuesday, put down his money, passed an instant background
check and walked out of the store with his weapon. There was
no waiting period. There was no mandatory safety class. There
was simply a transaction that experts say might have only
taken minutes to complete. Voters are more closely scrutinized
in Georgia (and Peach state Republicans are currently bent are
making voting stricter still). Women seeking to terminate a
pregnancy are more inconvenienced by the state’s 24-hour
waiting period intended to prevent impulsive decision-making.
That argues for not just Georgia to get its act together but
for the federal government to set some minimum standard. Would
a waiting period prove an annoyance to hunters, target
shooters and others accustomed to picking up a new firearm on
a lark? Probably. But studies have suggested it would also
have this impact: an 11% reduction in firearm suicide rates
and a 17% drop in gun homicides. The choice is obvious.
The U.S. Senate remains a likely roadblock, however. Just last
month, the Democratic-run Maryland General Assembly had to
override a veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to give final
approval to legislation simply mandating background checks for
private sales of rifles and shotguns. One can only imagine the
outcry from Senate Republicans over similar legislation.
But wait, you won’t have to imagine much longer: Democrats in
Congress are already pushing for some modest gun safety
measures, including H.R. 8, which passed the House last week
and requires background checks for private gun sales, and this
week’s House renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which
bans convicted stalkers from acquiring firearms. None of this
is gun “grabbing” or a violation of Second Amendment rights or
whatever contrivance opponents care to claim. Elected
officials who think otherwise ought to take a few days to talk
to the victims of gun violence before they act precipitously
and allow more lives to be put in grave danger.
Defying, Qanon Believing, Cop Punching Small Business Owner
Says, "I'd Go Again..."
(Daily Kos, March 18, 2021)
A New Jersey gym owner, who is charged with storming the U.S.
Capitol and punching a police officer, is a QAnon believer who
allegedly boasted he would “go again” and has previously
threatened a congresswoman, authorities said in court
documents Wednesday. In seeking to have Scott Fairlamb, of
Sussex, detained pending the outcome of his criminal case,
prosecutors said Fairlamb’s actions — most of which were
caught on video — on Jan. 6 “show an absolute disregard for
the rule of law coupled with a willingness to engage in
Republicans vote against honoring police who protected
Capitol from insurgents.
(Daily Kos, March 18, 2021)
When it came down to it, these 12 Republican Representatives
sided with the murderous mob rather than the Capitol Police.
So much so that they could not accept a motion of praise for
the people who may have saved their lives. The names of the 12
no-voters are familiar enough that they might as well be
called the usual suspects: Andy Biggs, Michael Cloud, Andrew
Clyde, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Bob Good, Lance Gooden,
Marjorie Taylor Greene, Andy Harris, Thomas Massie, John Rose,
and Greg Steube.
Some of the 12 came forward with statements that “clarified”
their vote. For example, Gohmert didn’t like the fact that the
the bill honoring the police accurately described the people
smashing their way into the Capitol as “armed insurgents.”
Gohmert did not make it clear whether the objection is that
the guns, tasers, bear spray, bats, and spears carried by
those invading the Capitol building didn’t have enough
magazine capacity to really count as weapons, or whether
seeking to hang public officials in order to overthrow the
government shouldn’t count as insurrection. But one way or
another, Gohmert was worried that the collection of
hostage-seeking jackasses might get their feelings hurt.
like grown-ups’: Conservative rebellion boils over in House.
(Politico, March 17, 2021)
If GOP lawmakers refuse to relent in their delay tactics, it
would mean a slog of votes on mundane issues.
During a closed-door conference meeting, House Freedom Caucus
Chair Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) went after McCarthy for not being
more supportive of a conservative-led effort to force a series
of lengthy — and largely fruitless — procedural votes that
have snarled the floor, according to sources in the room.
Biggs added that, as a member of the minority party, “You’ve
got to get in the way and try to slow things down as much as
you possibly can. If we won’t use every procedural tool in the
toolbox we have … yes, that frustrates me.”
Service finds no evidence of mail ballot fraud in Pa. case
cited by top Republicans.
(Washington Post, March 17,
Letter carrier Richard Hopkins told federal agents he
“assumed” supervisors discussed backdating ballots and then
recanted his claim, inspector general’s report says.
Service: Texas man arrested near U.S. vice president's
residence on weapons charge.
(1-min video; ABC7NY, March
A veteran from Bryan, Texas who was arrested outside Vice
President Kamala Harris' D.C. home Wednesday reportedly
thought the government was after him.
ABC News sources say 31-year-old Paul Murray's mother called
Capitol police after he made statements that worried her.
Murray was seen on Massachusetts Avenue and was detained by
Secret Service officers stationed near the residence following
an intelligence bulletin from Texas. Metropolitan Police said
Murray was held on charges that he had a large-capacity
ammunition-feeding device, a dangerous weapon, a rifle and
unregistered ammunition in his car.
‘fixer’ found dead in Ohio after being ensnared in sweeping
(Raw Story, March 17, 2021)
The death of a longtime Ohio lobbyist who was charged in a
nearly $61 million bribery scheme is being investigated by
authorities after a passerby found him in a car in a wooded
area this Monday. According to Dayton.com, Neil S. Clark, 67,
was found with a handgun and a bullet wound in his head.
Clark was arrested on July 21 along with former Ohio House
speaker Larry Householder, former Ohio GOP chairman Matt
Borges, lobbyist Juan Cespedes and political strategist Jeff
Longstreth. The group was charged by prosecutors for allegedly
taking nearly $61 million in dark money from Ohio utility
companies to position Householder as speaker, and in turn pass
and defend a $1.3 billion bailout law for the companies. Clark
pleaded not guilty.
Sen. Raphael Warnock’s first speech on the Senate floor
inspires the chamber to a standing ovation.
; Daily Kos, March 17, 2021)
Sen. Reverend Raphael Warnock’s historic victory in Georgia
this January was inspiring. It is the culmination of years of
work done on the ground by thousands of activists, young and
old, working to overcome systemic racism and the continuing
racist voter suppression laws in order to deliver Georgians
with a more honestly representative democracy.
Today, Warnock gave his first speech on the Senate floor. It
was a historic moment and Warnock did not disappoint,
delivering a powerful and moving statement about the past,
present, and future of our nation.
on Biden’s Covid bill: "We bungled this one."
March 17, 2021)
The GOP didn’t think it could stop passage. But with nearly
three-quarters of Americans approving of the law, some
luminaries can’t believe how little a dent they made.
The Republican Party’s stumbles around the passage of the
Covid-relief bill were, to a degree, a microcosm of the
difficulties it has had finding its footing in the post-Trump
era. Indeed, some Republicans said their party was hamstrung
in the relief bill fight by the fact that they had so recently
supported bills that relied on deficit-spending and pushed
similar provisions, like direct payments...
[... to the wealthy.]
Trump Spends His Days Gossiping, Golfing and Plotting
Revenge on RINOs.
(2-min. video; Newsweek, March 17,
The anger is still very much there. According to several Trump
allies who spoke to Newsweek on background, the former
president has spent much of his time at Mar-a-lago plotting
what to do—and what not to do— between now and the mid term
elections in 2022. They say he has not decided whether to run
again in 2024, and won't anytime soon, because his presence
freezes the Presidential race for the GOP. Even though Trump
remains "intensely frustrated" with the bans on him on
Facebook and Twitter, they also say he has ruled out trying to
start a social media or digital broadcasting company—widely
rumored in 2020— saying it would be too time consuming and too
expensive to pull off.
hospital executive caught bragging about vaccinating Eric
Trump before he's eligible.
(Raw Story, March 17, 2021)
Use May Decrease Ventilation, ICU admission and Death in
(George Washington University, March
Researchers from the George Washington University found that
aspirin may have lung-protective effects and reduce the need
for mechanical ventilation, ICU admission and in-hospital
mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Over 400 patients admitted from March to July 2020 to
hospitals around the United States, including those at GW
Hospital, the University of Maryland Medical Center, Wake
Forest Baptist Medical Center and Northeast Georgia Health
System, were included in the study. After adjusting for
demographics and comorbidities, aspirin use was associated
with a decreased risk of mechanical ventilation (44%
reduction), ICU admission (43% reduction), and in-hospital
mortality (47% reduction). There were no differences in major
bleeding or overt thrombosis between aspirin users and
“Aspirin is low cost, easily accessible and millions are
already using it to treat their health conditions,” said Chow.
“Finding this association is a huge win for those looking to
reduce risk from some of the most devastating effects of
Cattle Seaweed Reduces Their Methane Greenhouse Gas
Emissions by 82 Percent.
(University of California,
Davis, March 17, 2021)
New long-term study could mean more sustainable burgers.
Greenhouse gases are a major cause of climate change, and
methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Agriculture is responsible
for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and
half of those come from cows and other ruminant animals that
belch methane and other gases throughout the day as they
digest forages like grass and hay.
Since cattle are the top agricultural source of greenhouse
gases, many have suggested people eat less meat to help
address climate change. Kebreab looks to cattle nutrition
instead. “Only a tiny fraction of the earth is fit for crop
production,” Kebreab explained. “Much more land is suitable
only for grazing, so livestock plays a vital role in feeding
the 10 billion people who will soon inhabit the planet. Since
much of livestock’s methane emissions come from the animal
itself, nutrition plays a big role in finding solutions.”
Life of a Pure Martian Design
(SciTechDaily, March 17,
“Black Beauty is among the rarest substances on Earth, it is a
unique Martian breccia formed by various pieces of Martian
crust (some of them are dated at 4.42 ± 0.07 billion years)
and ejected millions years ago from the Martian surface. We
had to choose a pretty bold approach of crushing few grams of
precious Martian rock to recreate the possible look of Mars’
earliest and simplest life form,” says Tetyana Milojevic,
corresponding author of the study, about the probe that was
provided by colleagues from Colorado, USA.
As a result, the researchers observed how a dark fine-grained
groundmass of Black Beauty was biotransformed and used in
order to build up constitutive parts of microbial cells in
form of biomineral deposits. Utilizing a comprehensive toolbox
of cutting-edge techniques in fruitful cooperation with the
Austrian Center for Electron Microscopy and Nanoanalysis in
Graz, the researchers explored unique microbial interactions
with the genuine Noachian Martian breccia down to nanoscale
and atomic resolution. M. sedula living on Martian crustal
material produced distinct mineralogical and metabolic
fingerprints, which can provide an opportunity to trace the
putative bioalteration processes of the Martian crust.
mouse embryo has been grown in an artificial womb—humans
could be next.
(MIT Technology Review, March 17, 2021)
Researchers are growing embryos outside the womb for longer
than has ever been possible.
whines about Calif. net neutrality law as ISPs’ case appears
(Ars Technica, March 17, 2021)
Judge thoroughly rejected ISPs' arguments against Calif. law,
transcript shows. Mendez's ruling is already having an effect,
as AT&T announced Wednesday that it will end its
"sponsored data" program in which it charges online services
for data cap exemptions. "We regret the inconvenience to
customers caused by California's new 'net neutrality' law,"
AT&T said. "Given that the Internet does not recognize
state borders, the new law not only ends our ability to offer
California customers such free data services but also
similarly impacts our customers in states beyond California."
As Stanford professor Barbara van Schewick pointed out,
AT&T's claim that California's zero-rating ban forces it
to end sponsored data in other states is contradicted by the
fact that AT&T lets customers opt out of sponsored data.
Since AT&T has already implemented the ability to disable
sponsored data for individual customers, it could comply with
the California law simply by turning the feature off for all
customers in California.
Ernesto Falcon, senior legislative counsel for the Electronic
Frontier Foundation, wrote on Twitter that "AT&T's version
of zero rating with low data caps was a way to drive their
users to content they owned. It is why low-income advocates in
CA wanted it gone. Mobile-only users tended to be low-income
and weren't getting the full Internet."
Manchin just took an important filibuster reform off the
(Vox, March 17, 2021)
Manchin just closed the door on a promising idea that could
have made the Senate much more functional.
Biden just fired a warning shot at Mitch McConnell and
Republicans (and the filibuster).
March 17, 2021)
Mark it down. President Biden has now declared in his most
explicit terms yet that Democrats may soon face a stark
choice: reform the filibuster or accept that their agenda is a
dead letter. At bottom, this constitutes the firing of a
warning shot at Senate Republicans, especially Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Or it should, anyway: It will
only matter if Biden and Democrats are actually prepared to
act on it, because McConnell will proceed as if they are not.
Biden voiced an awareness, perhaps more clearly than ever
before, that the fate of Democrats’ agenda will likely depend
on a willingness to stiffen up their spines and reform the
Senate in the direction of true majority rule.
During the 2020 campaign, Biden famously declared that if
Republicans lost, they would seek “consensus” after having an
“epiphany.” This suggested a conviction that any GOP intention
to adopt a scorched earth strategy similar to that of 2009 —
which employed the filibuster to deliberately withhold
bipartisan cooperation for purely instrumental purposes — then
it would be overwhelmed by the shock of electoral defeat.
Biden also vowed to secure Republican cooperation, implying
lingering faith in a glad-handing bipartisan give-and-take out
of a long-vanished time.
After Biden’s win, of course, Republicans denied it had
happened for weeks, and many joined an effort to nullify that
outcome. On ABC News, Biden also indulged in more of that sort
of talk, declaring: “I think the epiphany is going to come
between now and 2022.” Whether Biden really believes this,
it’s now packaged with an explicit declaration that Democrats
really might have to target the filibuster or see their agenda
In this juxtaposition a rhetorical structure is taking shape
that might create a path to get to that point.
McConnell warns Democrats that overhauling filibuster rules
will lead to 'completely scorched earth Senate'.
March 16, 2021)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a stark warning
Tuesday about how Republicans would grind the chamber to a
halt if Democrats changed the filibuster rules, leading to a
"completely scorched earth Senate."
The Kentucky Republican defended the 60-vote threshold on the
legislative filibuster in a floor speech, cautioning Democrats
that if they moved to change the rules of the filibuster, it
would not open up an express lane for the Biden administration
to push through their agenda. Instead, Republicans would use
every rule and option at their disposal to halt the chamber,
making the Senate "more like a 100-car pileup, nothing
Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters he's not concerned
about McConnell's threats to slow the Senate if Democrats
change the filibuster because "he has already done that."
McConnell also laid out the conservative agenda Republicans
would swiftly move on the next time they take control of
Congress and White House, most of which Democrats would
vehemently oppose -- like defunding Planned Parenthood. The
pendulum would swing both ways, "and it would swing hard," he
warned. McConnell listed some of the legislation his party
would move on when they're back in power. "We wouldn't just
erase every liberal change that hurt the country -- we'd
strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies
with zero, zero input from the other side," he said pointing
to how the GOP would move swiftly to defund sanctuary cities
and Planned Parenthood, add new protections for the right to
life of the unborn, work on concealed carry laws, and a new
era of domestic energy production."
facing allegation that its 2018 background check of Brett
Kavanaugh was ‘fake’.
(The Guardian, March 16, 2021)
A Democratic senator has asked attorney general Merrick
Garland to facilitate ‘proper oversight’ into concerns on the
Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator and former prosecutor
who serves on the judiciary committee, is calling on the
newly-confirmed attorney general, Merrick Garland, to help
facilitate “proper oversight” by the Senate into questions
about how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his
The supreme court justice was accused of sexual assault by
Christine Blasey Ford and faced several other allegations of
misconduct following Ford’s harrowing testimony of an alleged
assault when she and Kavanaugh were in high school. Kavanaugh
denied the claims. The FBI was called to investigate the
allegations during the Senate confirmation process but was
later accused by some Democratic senators of conducting an
incomplete background check. For example, two key witnesses –
Ford and Kavanaugh – were never interviewed as part of the
inquiry. Among the concerns listed in Whitehouse’s letter to
Garland are allegations that some witnesses who wanted to
share their accounts with the FBI could not find anyone at the
bureau who would accept their testimony and that it had not
assigned any individual to accept or gather evidence.
The FBI did not respond to a request for comment. The DOJ did
not respond to a request for comment. While it is unclear
whether the FBI would re-open an investigation into Kavanaugh,
who is now one of nine justices on the supreme court, the
letter could push Garland to force the DOJ to respond to
questions about the investigation into Kavanaugh. Whitehouse
said he is seeking answers about “how, why, and at whose
behest” the FBI conducted a “fake” investigation if standard
procedures were violated, including standards for following
allegations gathered through FBI “tip lines”.
children won't be able to run in 2024 because they'll be
stuck in court, his niece Mary predicts.
Insider, March 16, 2021)
Donald Trump's children will not be able to run for political
office because they will be entangled in legal action relating
to the Trump Organization, the former president's niece has
predicted. "Thanks in large part to their dad but also to
their own anti-social tendencies, going to be defending
themselves I'm guessing in a fair number of civil and criminal
cases going forward," Mary Trump said in an interview with
Insider last week.
The former president's eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., and his
daughter, Ivanka, have both been linked with possible
presidential runs in 2024. Mark Meadows, President Trump's
former White House chief of staff, in February said that all
the top GOP candidates for 2024 "have Trump as their last
Krugman: We’re in for a lot of pluck.
(New York Times,
March 16, 2021)
If private-sector economists are anywhere near right, the U.S.
economy is about to experience a spectacular boom. Economists
surveyed by Bloomberg expect 5.5 percent growth this year;
those surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect almost 6
percent; Goldman Sachs expects 8 percent. We haven’t seen
anything like this since the Morning in America boom of
1983-1984, a boom that lives on in conservative legend as
proof of the magical power of tax cuts, even though every
subsequent promise of a tax-cut miracle has failed.
But Ronald Reagan’s boom wasn’t all it was cracked up to be,
and the same will to some extent be true of President Biden’s.
Rapid short-term growth will be a partial vindication of
Keynesian economics, the notion that government spending can
boost a depressed economy. But this kind of growth is only
possible when the economy starts out way down, and the bigger
test is what happens later.
To understand why forecasters are so optimistic, it helps to
know about one of Milton Friedman’s lesser-known analyses: his
“plucking” model of the business cycle. Friedman suggested
that we think of the economy’s potential growth path — the
maximum amount it could produce — as a tilted board, and its
actual path as a wire string attached to that board...
Sellers Embrace Recommerce Amid the Pandemic.
March 16, 2021)
A new eBay survey finds almost 75% of consumer sellers started
selling secondhand goods in 2020 for additional income. The
United States closed out 2020 with an unemployment rate of
6.7%, nearly two times greater than before the pandemic began.
Amid COVID-19, more people are looking for ways to earn extra
income — and, according to eBay’s latest survey of its
sellers, they’re finding it in recommerce.
Recommerce, or the resale of pre-owned goods, has quickly
become a pathway for sellers to mitigate financial challenges
brought on by the pandemic. Released today, eBay’s new
Recommerce Report finds that almost three-quarters of sellers
surveyed began selling pre-owned goods last year for
supplemental income — approximately 14% said they
specifically turned to recommerce, because they lost their
jobs due to COVID-19.
Moreover, eBay’s new survey shows that more people,
particularly Generation Z, are turning to buying and selling
secondhand goods online to support a healthier planet and
sustainability efforts overall.
vibrations: Bladeless turbines could bring wind power to
(The Guardian, March 16, 2021)
Vortex bladeless turbines, Alpha 311 streetlight turbines, and
SkySails generate significant electricity from windpower.
month was coldest February in US since 1989.
(AccuWeather, March 16, 2021)
February 2021 was the coldest February for the United
States in over 30 years, according to the NOAA report, and the
coldest February for the entire globe since 2014. North
America, Scandinavia and northern Asia were all significantly
below average in temperature last month. Each of those regions
measured temperatures at least 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit below
average. The central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean,
Australia and parts of the southern oceans were also notably
colder during February 2021 in comparison to recent years.
ancient fabric that no one knows how to make.
March 16, 2021)
Nearly 200 years ago, Dhaka muslin was the most valuable
fabric on the planet. Then it was lost altogether. How did
this happen? And can we bring it back?
Mount Everest’s height keeps changing
Vox, March 16, 2021)
The world’s tallest mountain got a little taller — here’s why.
forgotten Cold War effort to hide nuclear missiles beneath
Greenland’s ice has revealed its icy secret. It’s bad news
for the planet.
(1-min.video; Washington Post, March 15,
To disguise the true purpose of the venture, the United States
solicited scientists to conduct research at the site. Among
the experiments was a first-of-its-kind project to obtain an
ice core that spanned the entire depth of the ice sheet. “That
ice core revolutionized our understanding of Earth’s past
climate,” Christ said. By measuring the types of oxygen
contained within each layer of ice, researchers could get a
rough estimate of how warm it was when the water froze.
Analyses of ice cores from Greenland and elsewhere have
allowed scientists to reconstruct a record of global
temperatures going back tens of thousands of years.
But the roughly 12 inches of soil from the bottom of the Camp
Century ice core was never studied - until fifty years later.
Early analysis suggests that the plants are no older than a
million years, which suggests they must have grown during the
epoch of repeated ice ages known as the Pleistocene. During
that time, greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere
were far lower than current levels, and the Earth was rarely
as hot as it is now. “If we had found a much older age, it
would have been impressive, but it might not have been as
scary,” Christ said. “Because what we found means the ice
sheet melted away and raised sea level within a climate system
kind of like ours. That, as a climate scientist, has more
Stunned to Discover Plants Beneath Mile-Deep Greenland Ice –
And Why This Is So Troubling.
SciTechDaily, March 15, 2021)
Long-lost ice core provides direct evidence that giant ice
sheet melted off within the last million years and is highly
vulnerable to a warming climate.
and the mind
(Aeon, March 15, 2021)
Saturated with rites and symbols, psychology feeds a deep
human need once nourished by mythology.
Enhance Our Sense of Touch – Neurons Sensitive to Scale of a
Single Fingerprint Ridge.
(SciTechDaily, March 15, 2021)
The hand contains tens of thousands of sensory neurons. Each
neuron tunes in to a small surface area on the skin — a
receptive field — and detects touch, vibration, pressure, and
other tactile stimuli. The human hand possesses a refined
sense of touch, but the exact sensitivity of a single sensory
neuron has not been studied before.
The width of the detection areas matched the width of a single
fingerprint ridge. These areas stayed on the same fingerprint
ridges during different scanning speeds and directions,
indicating that they are anchored to the fingerprint ridges.
The overlap of receptive fields with small detection areas
explains how humans have such a sensitive and accurate sense
Fonda Visits Minnesota To Protest Line 3 Pipeline.
(1-min. video; CBS News, March 15, 2021)
That pipeline runs across Minnesota, beginning in Alberta,
Canada and ending in Superior, Wisconsin. Opponents of the
project say it could pollute native lands and water.
Supporters say it creates jobs and helps the economy.
like to complain about Joe Manchin. But nothing would help
Democrats as much as more Joe Manchins.
(New York Times,
March 15, 2021)
The structure of the Senate has not always favored
Republicans. But in recent decades, heavily white and rural
communities have moved to the political right. Because these
communities dominate many small states, and because small
states enjoy a lot of power in the Senate, it now has a large
So how have Democrats nonetheless won control of the Senate,
allowing them to pass an ambitious bill last week that will
reduce poverty, lift middle-class incomes, cut the cost of
health insurance and more? There are two main answers.
First, the Democratic Party has been the more popular
political party nationwide for most of the past three decades,
and this national edge sometimes allows it to overcome the
Senate’s built-in bias. Last year, Joe Biden won the popular
vote by 4.4 percentage points. That was enough for him to win
exactly half of the country’s 50 states and for Democratic
Senate candidates to flip seats in Arizona and Georgia.
The second answer is more succinct: Joe Manchin and Jon
Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, and Tester,
a Democratic senator from Montana, have managed a remarkable
feat in today’s polarized political atmosphere. They have won
elections in states that usually vote by wide margins for the
other party. The only other current politician with a similar
track record is Susan Collins, a Republican senator from
American Rescue Plan clears a path to recovery for state and
local governments and the communities they serve.
(Economic Policy Institute, March 15, 2021)
The passage of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) is a watershed
moment for state and local governments. It is an opportunity
to undo much of the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and
begin to address some of the long-standing inadequacies and
inequities caused by decades of disinvestment in public
services. The bill’s $350 billion in aid to state and local
governments will critically help many localities fill in for
revenue losses, stem budget cuts, and respond—with important
flexibility over the next few years—to massively increased
fiscal demands caused by the pandemic.
shamelessly take credit for Covid relief they voted against.
(Vox, March 15, 2021)
And it’s not going over well. Two recent tweets from members
of Congress illustrate how, in the wake of President Joe Biden
signing the Covid-19 relief bill, Republicans are trying to
“have their cake and vote against it, too,” as Barack Obama
once put it. That $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which
Biden signed into law last Thursday, didn’t receive a single
Republican vote, even though recent polling shows a majority
of Republican voters have said they somewhat or completely
The popularity of the legislation puts Republican members of
Congress in a bind: How does one message against a bill that
most Americans like, and that will cut child poverty in half,
while also juicing an economy that’s been ravaged by the
year-long pandemic? Some Republicans, perhaps understandably,
are instead opting to instead focus on culture war
distractions like whether Dr. Seuss is being “canceled.” But
others are shamelessly trying to take credit for Democratic
policy right after they voted against it.
Republicans are refusing COVID vaccines. Experts are trying
to change that.
(Ars Technica, March 15, 2021)
Straight facts and no politics are what's needed to increase
White House is set to unveil a wide-reaching, billion-dollar
campaign aimed at convincing every American to get
(Stat, March 15, 2021)
This television, radio, and digital advertising blitz, set to
kick off within weeks, will focus on Americans outright
skeptical of vaccines’ safety or effectiveness as well as
those who are potentially more willing to seek a Covid-19
immunization but don’t yet know where, when, or how.
Specifically, the campaign will target three groups in which
access, apathy, or outright skepticism may pose a barrier to
vaccinations: young people, people of color, and
conservatives, according to a Biden aide. Congress and the
administration have set aside over $1.5 billion for the
effort. Without winning buy-in from a critical, final slice of
the population, the effort could fall short of its goal:
effectively ending the country’s coronavirus crisis.
chief warns of another Covid surge as Americans travel for
(CNBC, March 15, 2021)
The U.S. could still see another coronavirus surge — even as
vaccinations against Covid-19 rapidly rise across the nation —
as states relax restrictions and more Americans travel for
spring break, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention warned Monday.
“With the coming warmer weather, I know it’s tempting to want
to relax and to let our guard down, particularly after a hard
winter that sadly saw the highest level of cases and deaths
during the pandemic so far,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle
Walensky said at a press briefing.
start a widespread lockdown.
(New York Times, March 14,
The circulation of a more contagious coronavirus variant,
combined with a slow vaccine rollout, led to a 15 percent
increase in cases nationally last week.
Special: A year ago, we realized everything was about to
(New York Times, March 14, 2021)
This week was the anniversary of the World Health
Organization’s declaring a global pandemic, but also of
something deeper: It has been a year since we had to
unexpectedly and dramatically alter the way we live. Most of
those changes are still part of our daily routines.
In the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that
“things will get worse before they get better.” Far worse, it
new study suggests 3 feet, not 6 feet, is sufficient
distance for school students, with mask-wearing and other
safety measures kept in place.
(New York Times, March
School shutdowns have been a divisive topic since the pandemic
erupted, and a new study has ignited debate over the six-foot
rule of social distancing and whether it can be relaxed in
classroom settings, which would ease the way for children to
return to schools. The new study, published last week in the
journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, suggests public schools
may be able to reopen safely for in-person instruction as long
as children maintain three feet of distance between them, and
with other mitigation measures maintained, such as wearing
“What the C.D.C. wants to do is accumulate data, and when data
shows ability to be three feet, they will act accordingly,”
Dr. Fauci said. He added that the agency’s director, Dr.
Rochelle Walensky, was aware of the new research, and that the
C.D.C. was also conducting its own studies.
was supposed to be a political Godzilla in exile. Instead,
(Politico, March 14, 2021)
Trump has always been an impulsive figure who demanded loyalty
from those around him. But those traits have come with
positions of power: whether atop a real estate empire, as a
media celebrity, or — in his last iteration — as president of
the United States.
Even allies say the president is lacking an apparatus and
direction as he sorts out just what he wants to do in his
post-presidency. “For any normal politician, it would look
like he’s trying to have it both ways but really he’s trying
to have it his way,” said a former Trump White House official.
“He only cares about maintaining his power and his
stranglehold over the Republican Party and it doesn’t matter
to him how any of the moves he makes affect the long-term
success of institutions or individuals other than himself.”
is Showing the World How Nationalism Implodes Into Fascism.
(Medium, March 14, 2021)
The classic pattern of Nationalism becoming Fascism seems
unstoppable in an imploding Britain,
"One" World Currency
(ZeroHedge, March 14, 2021)
In my last article titled, "The first Global Inflationary
Depression Is Possible" a case was made that the world was
headed towards an economic crisis due to several factors. The
problem is that such a scenario encompasses all aspects of
life, from food and energy, to supply chains, geopolitics, and
possibly even war. This article is an effort to offer up some
ideas on how governments might respond to such an event based
on current trends and some of the events that have occurred
during the covid-19 pandemic. If we accept the idea that
governments are self-serving and that a huge majority of the
people suffer during an economic depression, we should expect
frictions to develop as the populace seeks solutions to ease
story behind Albert Einstein's most iconic photo
March 13, 2021)
It’s been 70 years since the genius physicist stuck out his
tongue at pesky reporters. The photo turned him into an icon.
But what's the story behind it?
you build it, they will learn: Why some schools are
investing in cell towers.
(NBC News, March 13, 2021)
Towers as tall as 150 feet are popping up to beam internet
service from schools to surrounding neighborhoods during the
pandemic, and maybe long term.
The solution they decided on was to take the district's
wholesale internet service — it has had a fiber-optic network
for a decade — and broadcast it for free to the neighborhoods
most in need. It's a decision that demonstrates not only the
lengths to which schools are going to try to make remote
learning feasible, but also how few options exist for
low-income families in the U.S. seeking steady internet
The telecommunications industry has for years lobbied against
many government-provided internet services, arguing in favor
of free enterprise, and municipal
broadband is banned in 22 states, according to BroadbandNow
Last month, House Republicans proposed nationwide
underwater revolution millions of years ago rewrote the
script of the ocean.
(Science Daily Press, March 13,
Look far enough back in time, and a pattern may emerge. After
studying thousands of ancient fossils, paleontologist Jack
Sepkoski identified just such a thing in 1981: an epic
sequence of life and death, etched into the skeletons of the
last 500 million years.
Partisan Politics Rots Your Brain
(ZeroHedge, March 13,
Recent research ... has revealed the profound importance of
evolution in shaping the ways in which our brains process all
kinds of information, in particular political information. At
the center of this evolutionary journey is the importance of
groups—of being initiated and accepted into them, of aligning
ourselves with them, of being loyal to them regardless of
philosophical considerations. The social dynamics of group
membership and participation are programmed more deeply into
our brains than is abstract philosophizing. "In other words,
people will go along with the group, even if the ideas oppose
their own ideologies—belonging may have more value than
facts." Because we once moved from place to place as nomads,
such groups are our homes even more than any physical
It’s important not to interpret these results as pointing to
some kind of determinism, whereby we can’t choose how to think
or what we believe. Rather, these neural pathways seem to be
carved largely by the kinds and sources of the media we
consume. From the data yielded by such research, among many
other similar studies, a picture begins to emerge of
partisanship as a kind of mind poisoning, an infection that
leads to serious and, importantly, measurable cognitive
impairment. Evidence suggests that, under the influence of
partisanship, we can’t even understand our own thoughts and
the shadow of its exceptionalism, America fails to invest in
(Washington Post, March 13, 2021)
In recent months in the United States, historic breakthroughs
have come alongside monumental failures of infrastructure and
The disparities reflect a multitude of factors, experts say,
but primarily stem from a few big ones: Compared with other
well-to-do nations, the United States has tended to prioritize
private wealth over public resources, individualism over
equity and the shiny new thing over the dull but necessary
task of maintaining its infrastructure, much of which is fast
becoming a 20th century relic.
"To care for the community and still not be offered health
care, I think that's just crazy," Jones said. Health-care
experts say it's also, simply, American.
"I try to look out for other people," Prescott said. "There
might be a time when I get in that situation and need someone
to help me."
Trump caught pumping charity money to Donald Trump—from a
(Daily Kos, March 13, 2021)
Daughter-in-law Lara Trump has been advertised as a
“chairwoman” of the charity’s fundraisers over the past
several years. The spending by a charity she is associated
with at her family’s businesses mirrors practices at Donald
Trump’s now-shuttered Trump Foundation and Eric Trump’s Eric
Trump Foundation, which also spent donor money at Trump
properties. The self-dealing by the Trump Foundation was so
egregious that New York state Attorney General Letitia James
cited it as the reason the charity could no longer operate.
Trump properties under Manhattan DA probe placed on debt
“watch lists” by banks.
(Salon, March 12, 2021)
Trump's most prominent buildings are struggling financially.
The financial slump comes as Trump faces large debt bills in
the coming years. The New York Times reported last year that
Trump is personally on the hook for $421 million in debt over
the next four years, though other analyses have put that
number closer to $1 billion.
Trump's financial troubles may only get worse after he stoked
a mob of supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and
hunted lawmakers through the halls of Congress. Trump's role
in the Capitol riot prompted the PGA to pull next year's PGA
Championship from his New Jersey golf course, and New York
City canceled its contracts with the Trump Organization to
operate a golf course and ice skating rinks. Trump's
properties have also seen an exodus of tenants looking to
vacate their leases, according to the Wall Street Journal,
including large organizations like the Girl Scouts of Greater
New York. Vornado Realty Trust, a longtime Trump Organization
partner run by Trump friend Steven Roth, is also looking to
cut ties with the former president's company, the Journal
reported last month, amid growing concern that the Trump brand
has become increasingly toxic. Deutsche Bank, Trump's biggest
lender, is looking to distance itself as well.
New Lithium-Metal Batteries Could Yield 600-Mile Range.
(Car Buzz, March 12, 2021)
... and be cheaper to produce than ever before. This is a
massive breakthrough for EV cars in general; pricing is seen
as one of the biggest limitations in the EV market right now,
but these developments will help to level the playing field.
"Affordability and range are two major barriers to mass EV
adoption. With this next-generation Ultium chemistry, we
believe we're on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation
improvement in energy density and cost," said Reuss. Work is
also being done to ensure that these batteries are backward
compatible with future-proofed older models. The first
Ultium-based cars are expected to go on sale later in 2021 and
follow GM's massive $27 billion investment into EV product
development. With a clear plan to be the no.1 seller of
electric vehicles globally, GM is ready to take the fight not
only to Tesla but to transition to an electrified lineup
faster than its traditional competitors. It plans to launch 30
EVs globally by the end of 2025.
US Federal $1,400 stimulus payments are already posting to
some bank accounts, but others could face delays.
(Washington Post, March 12, 2021)
Some taxpayers reported a pending payment notice in their bank
accounts on Friday, saying the funds would be available on
March 17. Look for ‘IRS TREAS 310 - TAXEIP3’.
[On March 12th - the morning after President Biden signed the
American Rescue Plan into law - we received notice. Our
payments are due to arrive on March 15th.]
finally know what’s going on with that weird, long,
recurring cloud on Mars.
(Science Daily Press, March 12,
In 2018, a camera on board the Mars Express mission caught
sight of a strangely long and wispy cloud, billowing across
the surface of the red planet. From a distance, the
1,500-kilometer (930-mile) trail of fog almost resembled a
plume of smoke, and it seemed to be emerging from the top of a
Looking back at archived images, researchers soon realized
this had been happening for a while. Every few years in spring
or summer, this curious cloud would return, before
disappearing once again.
the first time, we’ve examined the stomach contents of a
(Science Daily Press, March 12,
Scientists have found a 47-million-year-old fossilized fly
with a bloated belly absolutely full of pollen. The discovery
is the first direct evidence that some species of ancient
tangle-veined flies once fed on the microspores of several
different species of subtropical plant.
discover powerful 'river of rocks' below Caribbean.
(Phys.org, March 11, 2021)
The findings have implications for understanding the shape of
the Earth's surface, of its evolution over time through the
appearance and disappearance of shallows seas, low-lying land
bridges and the forces that move tectonic plates and cause
Another fascinating discovery, according to the researchers,
is the asthenosphere is moving six inches per year, which is
three times faster than an average plate. It can move
independently from the overlying plates and drag them in a
Tried to Buy a Climate-Friendly Refrigerator. What I Got Was
a Carbon Bomb.
(Inside Climate News, March 11, 2021)
Most refrigerators in the U.S. are still cooled by climate
“super-pollutants” called hydrofluorocarbons. I’d been
promised my new fridge wouldn’t be...
The refrigerator only used 127 grams—roughly one-quarter of a
pound—of HFC-134a, and the coolant was tightly sealed in a
network of pipes somewhere deep inside. But, at some point,
maybe not until my new fridge is crushed for scrap metal at
the end of its useful life, that 127 grams of refrigerant will
likely be released into the atmosphere. When it is, the
chemical will produce the greenhouse gas equivalent of burning
519 pounds of coal, or setting an entire barrel of oil on
It was as if the shippers didn’t just drop off a refrigerator,
but left a steel drum full of west Texas sweet crude behind
and lit a slow-burning fuse.
Nearly all refrigerators in use in the United States today use
chemical refrigerants that are some of the most potent
greenhouse gases on the planet. Yet, a growing number of
manufacturers now offer new models with an alternative
refrigerant that has little to no climate impact. But none of
the major appliance makers advertise which fridges are
climate-friendly, and which are carbon bombs. In some cases,
it seems they themselves don’t know which is which.
More than 1 billion HFC-free refrigerators have now been sold
worldwide, including units sold overseas by U.S.
manufacturers, at a time when climate-friendly refrigerators
are just becoming available in the United States. A recent
Inside Climate News investigation found the decades-long delay
in the use of climate-friendly refrigerants in America has
been driven largely by the U.S. chemical industry, which
manufactures HFCs. HFCs are multi-billion dollar products that
would likely be replaced by less expensive and more efficient
climate-friendly alternatives if standards put forth by
Underwriters Laboratories didn’t until recently limit their
use, likely at the behest of chemical companies. Underwriters
Laboratories, now known as “UL,” is a private company that
provides independent safety certifications for thousands of
consumer products. When GE first submitted its application to
EPA in 2008 to use only small amounts of isobutane as a
refrigerator coolant, Honeywell International, one of the
leading HFC manufacturers, opposed the rule change. The
company claimed that isobutane is “highly flammable and
explosive even in small amounts,” a claim that has not been
substantiated by the more than 1 billion isobutane
refrigerators in safe operation worldwide. The agency finally
granted the request in 2011.
Famous People Who Got Away With Killing Someone
March 11, 2021)
Apparently, laws don’t apply to the wealthy and famous.
Things That Changed When I Became Beautiful.
March 11, 2021)
It turns out that many people are superficial.
the quest for significance and respect underlies the white
supremacist movement, conspiracy theories and a range of
(Medium, March 11, 2021)
I am a psychologist who studies the human quest for
significance and respect. My research reveals that this basic
motivation is a major force in human affairs. It shapes the
course of world history and determines the destiny of nations.
It underlies some of the chief challenges society is facing.
Among others, these are:
- The suicides – known as “deaths of despair” – of
- White supremacist movements
- Systemic racism
- Islamist terrorism
- The proliferation of conspiracy theories
- The growing rift in the Republican Party between moderates
In all these cases, people’s actions, opinions and attitudes
aim, often unconsciously, to satisfy their fundamental need to
count, to be recognized and respected.
The very term “supremacism” betrays concern for superior
standing. So do names like “Proud Boys” or “Oath Keepers.”
Systemic racism is rooted in the motivation to put down one
race to elevate another. Islamist terrorism targets the
alleged belittlers of a religion. Conspiracy theories identify
alleged culprits plotting the subjugation and dishonor of
their victims. And the extremist faction of the Republican
Party cares exclusively about winning, no holds barred.
Shouldn’t Be Voting,’ Republican Blurts Out.
Magazine, March 11, 2021)
Representative John Kavanagh, a Republican legislator who
chairs Arizona’s Government and Elections Committee and is
shepherding through a bill to make voting more cumbersome and
therefore rare, described his party’s motives with blundering
candor. “There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats
and Republicans,” he told CNN. “Democrats value as many people
as possible voting, and they’re willing to risk fraud.
Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind
putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote —
but everybody shouldn’t be voting … Not everybody wants to
vote, and if somebody is uninterested in voting, that probably
means that they’re totally uninformed on the issues. Quantity
is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as
Donald Trump’s presidency, with its continuous demands to
silence his opposition and efforts to undermine the election,
highlighted his party’s anti-democratic character. But
hostility to democracy is a long tradition on the right,
including (perhaps especially) in its loftiest highbrow
quarters. Conservatives are hysterical in opposition to
proposals in Congress to guarantee voting access and limit
gerrymandering. National Review calls H.R. 1, the main House
bill to promote election reform, “a partisan assault on
American democracy.” But NR should be more honest in its
criticism: Democracy is not what it wants at all, and never
Congress gets serious about universal broadband funding.
(Ars Technica, March 11, 2021)
Congress this week approved a $7.17 billion Emergency
Connectivity Fund that schools and libraries will use to help
people get Internet access at home. The fund is part of the
$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan stimulus sent to President
Joe Biden yesterday after being approved by the House and
Senate. Biden signed the bill into law today. The emergency
fund should help students who live in areas where broadband is
available but cannot afford it.
This emergency measure may just be a prelude to a $94 billion
broadband package that includes $80 billion to deploy
high-speed broadband to parts of the US that do not have it.
Democrats introduced the $94 billion broadband initiative
yesterday—it isn't yet clear whether or when it will pass, but
such initiatives have a much better chance now that Democrats
control the White House and both chambers of Congress.
pandemic has been of two lines — haves and have-nots —
moving in different directions.
(excellent charts; New
York Times, March 11, 2021)
At the start, it felt that we were all in it together. As
affluent international travelers, celebrities and heads of
government contracted the virus, many believed Covid-19 would
be a great equalizer. But as the weeks and months wore on,
that was revealed to be an illusion. In America, your
experience of lockdown — and of the pandemic as a whole —
depended not on luck or chance or fortune. It was instead
largely foretold by something far more prosaic: the position
you held on the socioeconomic spectrum, by your class, race
and gender. Across so many issues, the pandemic is not a story
of an infection curve rising and falling, but two lines moving
in different directions.
Special Series: The Week Our Reality Broke
Times, March 11-??, 2021)
A series reflecting on a year of living with the coronavirus
pandemic and how it has affected American society.
Throwing Away My Shot!"
(5-min video; Vax'n 8, March 10,
This new COVID-19 take-off by doctors (of a song from the
musical "Hamilton: An American") is a musical appeal to the
unconvinced, to stop the spread of this pandemic.
Documents Raise Concerns Over Integrity of mRNA Molecules in
Some COVID-19 Vaccines.
(SciTechDaily, March 10, 2021)
Documents leaked from the European Medicines Agency (EMA)
following a cyber attack in December show that some early
commercial batches of Pfizer-BioNTech’s covid-19 vaccine had
lower than expected levels of intact mRNA molecules.
These molecules instruct our cells to make a harmless piece of
coronavirus protein, triggering an immune response and
protecting us from infection if the real virus enters our
bodies. The complete, intact mRNA molecule is essential to the
potency of the vaccine. But in a special report for The BMJ
today, journalist Serena Tinari shows that the EMA was
concerned about the difference in quality between clinical
batches and proposed commercial batches of Pfizer-BioNTech
Specifically, EMA had major concerns over unexpectedly low
quantities (around 55%) of intact mRNA in batches of the
vaccine developed for commercial production. It is an issue
relevant not just to Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine but also to
those produced by Moderna, CureVac, and others, as well as a
“second generation” mRNA vaccine being pursued by Imperial
herd immunity may be unlikely—winter surges could “become
(Ars Technica, March 10, 2021)
Some experts speculate that the pandemic coronavirus will one
day cause nothing more than a common cold, mostly in children,
where it will be an indistinguishable drip in the steady
stream of snotty kid germs. Such is the reality for four other
coronaviruses that have long stalked school yards and commonly
circulate among us every cold and flu season, to little
But that sanguine—if not slightly slimier—future is shaky. And
the road to get there will almost certainly be rocky. For the
pandemic coronavirus to turn from terror to trifle, we have to
build up high levels of immunity against it. At the population
level, this will be difficult—even with vaccines. And with the
uncertainty of how we’ll pull it off, some experts are
cautioning that we should prepare for the possibility that the
pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, will stick with us for the
near future, possibly becoming a seasonal surge during the
winter months when we’re largely indoors.
Despite a lot of uncertainty, researchers lay out five ways to
prepare for the worst.
adopts $1.9 trillion stimulus, securing first major win for
(Washington Post, March 10, 2021)
A House vote Wednesday sends the bill to President Biden, who
is expected to sign Friday, the White House said.
The bill, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, authorizes another
round of stimulus payments up to $1,400 for most Americans,
extends additional, enhanced unemployment aid to millions
still out of a job, and makes major changes to the tax code to
benefit families with children. It couples the new pandemic
relief with what Democrats have come to describe as one of the
most robust legislative responses to poverty in a generation,
seeking to assist low-income families who struggled
financially long before the coronavirus took root.
Lawmakers also set aside tens of billions of dollars to fund
coronavirus testing, contact tracing and vaccine deployment,
as they aim to deliver on Biden’s recent promise to produce
enough inoculations for “every adult in America” by the end of
May. And the stimulus bill approves additional funds to help
schools reopen, allow restaurants and businesses to stay
afloat and assist state and local governments trying to meet
their own financial needs.
Fudge confirmed as first Black woman to lead HUD in more
than 40 years.
(Washington Post, March 10, 2021)
Fudge, who entered Congress in 2008, won bipartisan approval
to lead the embattled agency where the morale among civil
servants had plummeted under the leadership of Ben Carson, who
eviscerated fair housing enforcement and other civil rights
protections during the Trump administration.
The Ohio congresswoman has pledged to address systemic racial
inequities in housing.
attempt to throttle Twitter appears to backfire.
Technica, March 10, 2021)
Begin with 99 problems. Solve one with a regex. You now have
sense of China’s crackdown on Hong Kong
(New York Times,
March 10, 2021)
China’s crackdown on Hong Kong has happened swiftly: A rising
power has asserted its authority over a global financial
capital, through a harsh national security law enacted last
summer. It’s one of the world’s most consequential stories,
yet one often overshadowed by the pandemic.
NEW: How The
Next Batteries Will Change the World
Bloomberg, March 10, 2021)
Silicon Valley is about to commercialize revolutionary
technology that will enable huge breakthroughs in the battle
against global warming.
makes cash grab in bid to dominate GOP.
Donald Trump is tightening his grip on the Republican Party in
the most painful way possible — he’s threatening to starve the
GOP of funding.
Just in the past few weeks, Trump declared at the Conservative
Political Action Conference that the “only” way to give to
Trump-aligned candidates was through Save America, his
leadership political action committee, circumventing the party
campaign arms devoted to electing Republicans. He has
criticized the party for how it spends donor money, and his
attorneys have sent cease-and-desist letters to GOP committees
demanding they stop using his name in fundraising appeals.
In case his message wasn’t clear enough, Trump followed up
this week by proclaiming that “no more money” should be given
to “RINOS” — Republicans in Name Only. On Tuesday, he said in
another statement that sending cash to his PAC would be "doing
[The Little Dictator again]
Staff Of Nevada Democratic Party Quits After Democratic
Socialist Slate Won Every Seat.
(The Intercept, March 9,
The battle between insurgent progressives in Nevada and what's
known in Nevada as the Reid machine — a tightly run operation
still guided by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid —
began building in 2016.
On March 6, a coalition of progressive candidates backed by
their local Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) chapter
swept the elections for leadership roles in the Nevada
Democratic Party. Shortly afterward, the Nevada Democratic
Party's executive director, Alana Mounce, sent an email to
Judith Whitmer, the incoming party chair, that every staff
member was quitting. The former party staff members said that
Whitmer would have fired them anyway and they were merely
preempting the inevitable. Whitmer disagrees and says she was
surprised that there was this "willingness to just walk away,
instead of working with us."
[And, like Trump, first they took the money.]
Very Concept of Dark Matter Itself,Is Questioned in New
(SciTechDaily, March 9, 2021)
Models of galactic rotation curves built of a general
relativistic framework could use gravitomagnetism to explain
the effects of dark matter.
May Last Nearly Half the Year in the Northern Hemisphere by
(SciTechDaily, March 9, 2021)
In the 1950s in the Northern Hemisphere, the four seasons
arrived in a predictable and fairly even pattern. But climate
change is now driving dramatic and irregular changes to the
length and start dates of the seasons, which may become more
extreme in the future under a business-as-usual climate
scenario. Summers are getting longer and hotter while winters
shorter and warmer, due to global warming.
a crop, cannabis has enormous carbon emissions.
Technica, March 9, 2021)
Ironically, growing it in a controlled environment has a huge
Back in the pre-legalization days, cannabis production meant
finding a rarely visited patch of land and growing outside, or
it meant taking cultivation indoors—typically to a basement
where your product wouldn't be visible from the outside world.
But the power-use involved in lighting a basement growing
space was legendary.
With legalization, it's really only the scale that has
changed. Most legal marijuana is grown indoors, with some
pretty hefty electrical use to match. Now, researchers have
attempted to quantify the greenhouse gases emitted, and they
came up with some impressive figures. Based on their
calculations, cannabis production results in over 2,000
kilograms of carbon dioxide emitted for every kilogram of
product (defined as dried flowers), and its legalization has
had a measurable effect on Colorado's greenhouse gas output.
Funds Two Full-Time Linux Security Developers.
Today, March 9, 2021)
Google and the Linux Foundation recently announced that Google
will fund two full-time Linux security developers to
focus entirely on securing the kernel.
There's always room for Linux security improvements –
especially with a project that currently weighs-in at close to
29 million lines of code, meaning there's plenty of room for
mistakes. Since Linux is open source, the code is also freely
available for everyone to see, even bad actors looking for
vulnerabilities to exploit.
Protecting against exploits is important, since Linux not only
powers most data center workloads and an estimated majority of
Web servers, it's running IoT devices at the edge and is the
backbone of consumer devices such as Android phones and
Secure Is Linux?
(Free Republic, March 9, 2021)
The general consensus among experts is that Linux is a highly
secure OS - arguably the most secure OS by design. This
article will examine the key factors that contribute to the
robust security of Linux, and evaluate the level of
protection against vulnerabilities and attacks that
Linux offers administrators and users.
102: Some Norse (Viking) gods
(Daily Kos, March 8, 2021)
The Christian scribes who recorded Norse mythology sought to
portray the gods according to their stereotypes of
pre-Christian gods and so their recorded mythology often
resembles Greek mythology. This makes it more difficult for
today’s scholars to understand Norse religion prior to
From the perspective of an eighth-Century raider, Christian
monasteries were seen as profitable targets not because they
were Christian but rather because they were undefended and
optical quantum computer arrives late, steals the show.
(2-min. video; Ars Technica, March 8, 2021)
New optical quantum computer overcomes previous limits, looks
like a winner.
[For background, see this good 15-min. video
primer on the emerging field of quantum computers
Steps Announced in Process to Reinstate and Strengthen
Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
(Audubon Society, March 8,
The Trump administration’s final rule will go into effect
today, but a new rulemaking process will begin that is
expected to bring back critical bird protections
Court Rejects Its Final Trump Appeal.
(Daily Kos, March
Today the Supreme Court, without comment or dissent, refused
to hear a Trump appeal challenging his election loss in
Wisconsin. This is the final Trump challenge that was pending
before the Supreme Court.
Trump filed the lawsuit after the election claiming decisions
made by administrators of Wisconsin's elections, to make
voting during Covid easier, were unconstitutional. The
judge who heard the case, Judge Brett Ludwig, is a Trump
appointee. Judge Ludwig dismissed the case on the
merits. (Those claiming no cases were decided on the merits
Trump appealed to the United States Court of Appeals.
The three judge panel unanimously rejected Trump's appeal
writing, "Wisconsin lawfully appointed its electors in the
manner directed by its Legislature." The judge who wrote that
decision, Judge Michael Scudder, is also a Trump
appointee. Another judge, Llana Rovner, was appointed by
George H. Bush. The third judge, Joel Flaum, is a Reagan
appointed. So that's three Republican appointed
appellate judges, to include a Trump appointee (who wrote the
unanimous decision) who ruled against Trump. Plus the Trump
appointee on the District Court. With three Trump appointees
on the Supreme Court, the request for cert there was denied
chart shows the dramatic difference between Biden's American
Rescue Plan and the Trump tax scam.
; Daily Kos, March 8, 2021)
I suppose we plebes can be forgiven for misunderstanding the
abstruse details of a complex tax-reform bill, even if the
bottom line was that most Americans were getting crumbs while
the rich were getting fire-hosed with canapes and fancy soft
European cheeses. Again.
But here’s one way to demonstrate the stark difference between
Trump’s phony “middle-class” tax cut and what Joe Biden just
did for the American people — a chart that shows it all in
beautiful reds and blues: The top 20% of households reaped 65%
of benefit from Trump’s tax cuts. The bottom 20% got 1%.
The American Rescue Plan gives aid to those who actually need
2018, 2 Years Before the Outbreak, Diplomats Warned of Risky
Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab.
No One Listened.
(Politico, March 8, 2021)
After seeing a risky lab, they wrote a cable warning to
Washington. But it was ignored.
Since the 2002 outbreak of SARS—the deadly disease caused by a
coronavirus transmitted by bats in China—scientists around the
world had been looking for ways to predict and limit future
outbreaks of similar diseases. To aid the effort, the NIH had
funded a number of projects that involved the WIV scientists,
including much of the Wuhan lab’s work with bat coronaviruses.
The new study was entitled “Discovery of a Rich Gene Pool of
Bat SARS-Related Coronaviruses Provides New Insights into the
Origin of SARS Coronavirus.”
These researchers, the American officials learned, had found a
population of bats from caves in Yunnan province that gave
them insight into how SARS coronaviruses originated and
spread. The researchers boasted that they may have found the
cave where the original SARS coronavirus originated. But all
the U.S. diplomats cared about was that these scientists had
discovered three new viruses that had a unique characteristic:
they contained a "spike protein” that was particularly good at
grabbing on to a specific receptor in human lung cells known
as an ACE2 receptor. That means the viruses were potentially
very dangerous for humans—and that these viruses were now in a
lab with which they, the U.S. diplomats, were largely
Knowing the significance of the Wuhan virologists’ discovery,
and knowing that the WIV’s top-level biosafety laboratory
(BSL-4) was relatively new, the U.S. Embassy health and
science officials in Beijing decided to go to Wuhan and check
it out. In total, the embassy sent three teams of experts in
late 2017 and early 2018 to meet with the WIV scientists,
among them Shi Zhengli, often referred to as the “bat woman”
because of her extensive experience studying coronaviruses
found in bats.
When they sat down with the scientists at the WIV, the
American diplomats were shocked by what they heard. The
Chinese researchers told them they didn’t have enough properly
trained technicians to safely operate their BSL-4 lab. The
Wuhan scientists were asking for more support to get the lab
up to top standards.
The diplomats wrote two cables to Washington reporting on
their visits to the Wuhan lab. More should be done to help the
lab meet top safety standards, they said, and they urged
Washington to get on it. They also warned that the WIV
researchers had found new bat coronaviruses could easily
infect human cells, and which used the same cellular route
that had been used by the original SARS coronavirus.
Taken together, those two points—a particularly dangerous
groups of viruses being studied in a lab with real safety
problems—were intended as a warning about a potential
public-health crisis, one of the cable writers told me. They
kept the cables unclassified because they wanted more people
back home to be able to read and share them, according to the
cable writer. But there was no response from State Department
headquarters and they were never made public. And as
U.S.-China tensions rose over the course of 2018, American
diplomats lost access to labs such as the one at the WIV.
“The cable was a warning shot,” one U.S. official said. “They
were begging people to pay attention to what was going on.”
The world would be paying attention soon enough—but by then,
it would be too late.
year into the pandemic, the coronavirus is messing with our
minds as well as our bodies.
(The Conversation, March 8,
As we see it, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is a
sort of zombie virus, turning people not into the undead but
rather into the unsick. By interfering with our bodies’ normal
immune response and blocking pain, the virus keeps the
infected on their feet, spreading the virus. Zombie viruses
are also a real thing, influencing their host’s behavior in
ways that enhance the viruses’ evolutionary fitness.
started wearing face masks a year ago. Where do we go from
(8-min. video; Washington Post, March 8, 2021)
The rapid spread of covid-19 in the United States began in the
early months of 2020. A lot has changed in our day-to-day
lives since then, including the use of face masks.
new lab study shows troubling signs that Pfizer's and
Moderna's COVID-19 shots could be far less effective against
the variant first found in South Africa.
Insider, March 8, 2021)
The percentage of protective antibodies that neutralized the
variant — called B.1.351, which has been recorded in 20 US
states — was 12.4 fold lower for Moderna's COVID-19 shot than
against the original coronavirus, and 10.3 fold lower for
Pfizer's, the study authors said. This was a bigger drop than
in previous lab studies testing the vaccines against
manufactured forms of the variant, they said. For this study,
the researchers used real forms of the variant taken from
people who had caught the virus.
Coronavirus Prediction: Virus Evolving to Escape Current
Vaccines, Treatments – “May Be Condemned to Chasing After
the Evolving SARS-CoV-2 Continually”
University, March 8, 2021)
If the rampant spread of the virus continues and more critical
mutations accumulate, then we may be condemned to chasing
after the evolving SARS-CoV-2 continually, as we have long
done for influenza virus. Such considerations require that we
stop virus transmission as quickly as is feasible, by
redoubling our mitigation measures and by expediting vaccine
COVID-19 “Symptom Checkers” Failed to Pick Up Severe
COVID-19, Bacterial Pneumonia, and Sepsis.
(SciTechDaily, March 8, 2021)
Digital COVID-19 ‘symptom checkers’ may stop some patients
from getting prompt treatment for serious illness, suggests an
international case simulation study, published in the online
journal BMJ Health & Care Informatics. Both the US and UK
symptom checkers consistently failed to identify the symptoms
of severe COVID-19, bacterial pneumonia, and sepsis,
frequently advising these cases to stay home, the findings
indicate. The availability and use of symptom checkers is on
the rise, and they are currently being used at a national
level to pick up COVID-19 infection.
Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People
(U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 8,
Fully vaccinated people in non-healthcare settings can:
Visit with other fully vaccinated people
indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
Visit with unvaccinated people from a
single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19
disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
Refrain from quarantine and testing
following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
Take precautions in public like wearing a
well-fitted mask and physical distancing.
Wear masks, practice physical distancing,
and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with
unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe
COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member
who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and
practice other prevention measures when visiting with
unvaccinated people from multiple households.
Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person
Get tested if experiencing COVID-19
Follow guidance issued by individual
Follow CDC and health department travel
requirements and recommendations.
people can visit with nearby grandchildren, dine indoors
with one another, CDC says.
(2-min. video; Washington
Post, March 8, 2021)
Long-awaited recommendations loosen restrictions on how people
can socialize.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
said people who are two weeks past their final shot may visit
indoors with unvaccinated members of a single household at low
risk of severe disease, without wearing masks or distancing.
That would free many vaccinated grandparents who live near
their unvaccinated children and grandchildren to visit them
for the first time in a year. The guidelines continue to
discourage visits involving long-distance travel, however.
The CDC also said fully vaccinated people can gather indoors
with those who are also fully vaccinated. And they do not need
to quarantine, or be tested after exposure to the coronavirus,
as long as they have no symptoms, the agency said.
Warn: Large Number of COVID-19 Survivors Will Experience
(Oxford Brookes University,
March 7, 2021)
The study found that in the short term, a wide range of
neuropsychiatric problems were reported. In one examined
study, 95% of clinically stable COVID-19 patients had
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other studies found
between 17-42%* of patients experienced affective disorders,
such as depression.
The main short-term cognitive problems were found to be
impaired attention (reported by 45% patients) and impaired
memory (between 13-28% of patients).
In the long term, neuropsychiatric problems were mostly
affective disorders and fatigue, as well as impaired attention
(reported by 44% of patients) and memory (reported between
28-50% of patients).
Has a Hot New Neighbor – And It Could Change How We Look for
Life in the Universe.
(University of New South Wales,
March 7, 2021)
A newly discovered planet could be our best chance yet of
studying rocky planet atmospheres outside the solar system, a
new international study involving UNSW Sydney shows.
The planet, called Gliese 486b (pronounced Glee-seh), is a
‘super-Earth’: that is, a rocky planet bigger than Earth but
smaller than ice giants like Neptune and Uranus. It orbits a
red dwarf star around 26 light-years away, making it a close
neighbor – galactically speaking. With a piping-hot surface
temperature of 430 degrees Celsius, Gliese 486b is too hot to
support human life. But studying its atmosphere could help us
learn whether similar planets might be habitable for humans –
or if they’re likely to hold other signs of life.
the Stimulus Bill, a Policy Revolution in Aid for Children
(New York Times, March 7, 2021)
The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package moving through
Congress advances an idea that Democrats have been nurturing
for decades: establishing a guaranteed income for families
Complex Numbers Exist?
(11-min. video; BackReaction,
March 6, 2021)
Are complex numbers necessary to describe the world as we
observe it? Do they exist? Or are they just a mathematical
of thousands of US organizations hit in ongoing Microsoft
(Ars Technica, March 6, 2021)
Tens of thousands of US-based organizations are running
Microsoft Exchange servers that have been backdoored by threat
actors who are stealing administrator passwords and exploiting
critical vulnerabilities in the email and calendaring
application. Microsoft issued emergency patches on Tuesday,
but they do nothing to disinfect systems that are already
truly was the most dishonest president?
(BBC News, March
The Washington Post maintains a database of Trump statements -
over 30,000 of them - that it claims are false or misleading.
Many of these utterances, such as about golf or his wealth or
whether it snowed at one of his rallies, sound relatively
trifling. Others, such as claims he deliberately misled the
American people about the severity of coronavirus, or his
unfounded assertions that the 2020 White House election was
rigged, would be much more damaging.
Prof. Ginsberg says "whoppers" that lead to military action
are the most harmful of all, and that Trump is not as
blame-worthy as some of his predecessors in this respect. The
political science lecturer at Johns Hopkins University in
Baltimore adds: "The problem is the American presidential
selection process is fundamentally flawed and produces
monsters. It requires years of campaigning, and only the most
arrogant, ambitious and narcissistic individuals would
possibly be willing to do such a thing."
Five Signs of a Highly Intelligent
(Medium, March 6, 2021)
- They demonstrate a curiosity to learn more information.
- They can openly admit when they don’t know something. They
know and operate within their limits.
- They can break down complex problems and cut straight to a
- They have an acute awareness of their own thought process.
They critique and understand it. They use that knowledge to
- They display obvious signs of intelligence. They think
quickly on their feet and have situational awareness. They
wear a mask during a pandemic.
sooner AI stops trying to mimic human intelligence, the
better – as there isn't any.
(The Register, March 5,
Still waiting for neuroscientists to work out why.
(The Verge, March 5, 2021)
I have questions about this emerging... um... art form?
Vaccinated. Everyone Wants to Visit. Now What?’
March 5, 2021)
My mom and stepdad got their two doses. They want to know why
their New Normal isn’t normal at all.
and Done: Why People Are Eager for Johnson & Johnson’s
(New York Times, March 4, 2021)
Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine is allowing states to
rethink distribution, even as health officials and experts
worry some will view it as inferior.
Alien Smog Lead Us to Extraterrestrial Civilizations?
(Wired, March 4, 2021)
A new study modeled whether we could find intelligent life on
another planet—by looking for its pollution.
first space hotel scheduled to open in 2027.
Travel, March 4, 2021)
[What an appropriate location for Earth's least-needed
may have discovered a new layer within the Earth.
(Salon, March 4, 2021)
Scientists previously believed the Earth has four layers. New
Australian National University research says there may
actually be five.
uploads and downloads should be US broadband standard,
(Ars Technica, March 4, 2021)
Pandemic showed that "upload speeds far greater than 3Mbps are
roads got more dangerous in 2020 even though we stayed at
(Ars Technica, March 4, 2021)
Preliminary data puts the death toll at 42,060, with 4.8
million people injured.
Seuss Books Are Pulled, and a ‘Cancel Culture’ Controversy
(New York Times, March 4, 2021)
The beloved author’s most famous books, like “Green Eggs and
Ham,” were untouched, but his estate’s decision nevertheless
prompted a backlash and raised questions about what should be
preserved as part of the cultural record.
Updates: Capitol Is on Alert as Senate Prepares for Debate.
(New York Times, March 4, 2021)
The Capitol Police reported a new threat embraced by some
QAnon conspiracy theorists.
Intelligence analysts have been tracking online chatter by
some adherents of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory known as
QAnon. Those adherents appear to have latched on to March 4 —
the original inauguration date set in the Constitution — as
the day Mr. Trump would be restored to the presidency and
renew his crusade against the country's enemies.
Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, a senior Republican on
the House Homeland Security Committee, took the threat
seriously enough on Wednesday to publicly argue that Mr. Trump
should use his influence to keep it from happening. “President
Trump has a responsibility to tell them to stand down,” Mr.
McCaul said on CNN. “This threat is credible. It’s real.”
Rise of the Biden Republicans
(Politico, March 4, 2021)
The pollster who identified “Reagan Democrats” in the 1980s
sees the emergence of a mirror image voting bloc. And it
spells trouble for a GOP dominated by Trump.
limits eligibility for stimulus payments under pressure from
moderate Senate Democrats.
(2-min. video; Washington
Post, March 3, 2021)
Change comes as Senate prepares to move forward on Biden’s
$1.9 trillion relief bill.
Billionaire Behind the Biggest U.S. Tax Fraud Case Ever
(Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2021)
Prosecutors accused Robert Brockman, a litigious, sometimes
penny-pinching software entrepreneur, of hiding $2 billion
from the Internal Revenue Service.
You Transplant a Human Head, Does Its Consciousness Follow?
(Wired, March 3, 2021)
In her new book, Brandy Schillace recalls the unbelievable
legacy of a Cold War era neurosurgeon’s mission to preserve
You Need a Wildlife Camera
(photos and short videos; New
York Times, March 3, 2021)
Without one, you may never know who else lives on your
property. Or who’s eating your bush beans.
Fauci Pleads: Don’t Declare Victory.
(Wired, March 3,
The Covidologist-in-chief says we can’t relax on masks and
social distancing yet. Hear that, Texas?
revealed how sick the US health care delivery system really
(The Conversation, March 2, 2021)
If you got the COVID-19 shot, you likely received a little
paper card that shows you’ve been vaccinated. Make sure you
keep that card in a safe place. There is no coordinated way to
share information about who has been vaccinated and who has
That is just one of the glaring flaws that COVID-19 has
revealed about the U.S. health care system: It does not share
health information well. Coordination between public health
agencies and medical providers is lacking. Technical and
regulatory restrictions impede use of digital technologies. To
put it bluntly, our health care delivery system is failing
Prolonged disputes about the Affordable Care Act and rising
health care costs have done little to help; the problems go
beyond insurance and access. Most of these problems aren’t
about medicine or technology. Rather, they are about the
inability of our delivery system to meet the evolving needs of
In reality, the U.S. health care sector is not a system at
all. Instead, it is an under-performing conglomerate of
independent entities: hospitals, clinics, community health and
urgent care centers, individual practitioners, small group
practices, pharmacy and retail outlets, and more, most of
which compete for profits and in some cases pay sky-high
salaries to executives.
EV charging the next gig for the gig economy? SparkCharge
(TechCrunch, March 2, 2021)
is basically creating a whole new [charging] network,” said
Aviv. “This isn’t a network meant to be a stopgap. It’s a
network that’s always on, always available and better and
faster than [traditional chargers]… we don’t need permits, we
don’t need construction. With our unit, you take it out of the
box, you plug it into the car, you push a button and begin
charging. With us, every parking spot, every location — that’s
now a charging station. That’s a much better network than the
plastic roads make for a smoother ride?
(BBC, March 2,
From lower carbon emissions to fewer potholes, there are a
number of benefits to building a layer of plastic into roads.
[Also see: Plastic
and It’s the end of the road for
waste plastics. (MacRebur.com)
Texas blackouts showed how climate extremes threaten energy
systems across the US.
(4-min. video; The Conversation,
March 2, 2021)
The events in Texas offer three important lessons for energy
planners across the U.S.:
- Not enough attention to climate extremes
- Water, electricity and natural gas are connected.
- The future will be different.
Director: No Evidence Suggests Capitol Attack Was Organized
By ‘Fake Trump Supporters’.
(2-min. video; Forbes, March
Ballistic Tongues and Evolution.
Quanta Magazine, March 2, 2021)
The paleontologist Neil Shubin talks with host Steven Strogatz
about hunting for a 375-million-year-old fossil and finding
novel traits that evolved many times.
14: Apple iPhone users report losing thousands of pictures
(3-min. video; WCVB News, March 1, 2021)
They all called on Apple to find a solution. But from Apple's
perspective, one might not be needed because the phones can
TikTok clone, “YouTube Shorts,” is live in the US.
Technica, March 1, 2021)
US users can now upload and view one-minute videos in a swipe
Literally Don’t Know When to Shut Up—or Keep Talking—Science
(Scientific American, March 1, 2021)
We are really bad at navigating a key transition point during
one of the most basic social interactions.
are the false and misleading claims Donald Trump made in his
video of speech
; Business Insider, March 1, 2021)
Former President Donald Trump spoke at the Conservative
Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, his
first speech since leaving the White House last month. During
his remarks, Trump hinted at a 2024 run, said he would not be
forming a new party, and targeted Republicans who had
supported his impeachment. He criticized the Democrats, cancel
culture, and big tech — and especially President Joe Biden. He
also made a number of statements that were false or
misleading. We've fact-checked them here.
$1.9 Trillion Virus Relief Bill heads to the Senate. We tell
you what to watch for.
(New York Times, March 1, 2021)
The virus relief bill that the House passed on Saturday heads
to the Senate this week, and White House officials hope
President Biden will be able to sign it into law in the next
The current price tag is about $1.9 trillion — or roughly
twice the size (after adjusting for inflation) of the stimulus
bill Barack Obama signed shortly after taking office, in 2009.
The Senate may shrink it somewhat, but the bill is likely to
remain very large. That reflects the fact that Biden and his
aides don’t want to repeat the mistake of the 2009 bill, which
many economists believe was too small to prevent a sluggish
recovery. This time, Biden is erring on the side of
aggressiveness, hoping to return the economy to full
employment and spark strong wage growth. Jerome Powell — the
Federal Reserve chairman, appointed by Donald Trump — has
avoided talking about the bill’s details but has signaled he
supports moving aggressively, rather than focusing on the
deficit. One factor: Over the past two decades, forecasters
have repeatedly been too optimistic about economic growth —
which suggests that policymakers have usually done too little
to support growth, not too much.
Roughly half of it is direct cash payments. The biggest item
(costing about $420 billion) is a package of $1,400-per-person
checks for most households. Other major items include an
expansion of jobless benefits ($240 billion); an expansion of
tax credits for parents and low-income workers ($130 billion);
health insurance subsidies ($65 billion); and housing
assistance ($40 billion).
The other half of the bill is mostly aid to state and local
governments, including money for schools as well as for
coronavirus testing and vaccination.
hits grim COVID milestone amid new hope of third vaccine.
(2-min. video; CBS News, February 28, 2021)
CBS News reports on the latest developments in vaccine
distribution as the U.S. continues its battle against
Played a Major Role in Keeping Earth Fit for Life.
(2-min. video; SciTechDaily, February 28, 2021)
A study by the University of Southampton gives a new
perspective on why our planet has managed to stay habitable
for billions of years – concluding it is almost certainly due,
at least in part, to luck. The research suggests this may
lengthen the odds of finding life on so-called ‘twin-Earths’
in the Universe. The research, published in the Nature journal
Communications Earth and Environment, involved conducting the
first-ever simulation of climate evolution on thousands of
randomly generated planets.
MIT Neuroscientists Identify Brain
Circuit in the Hippocampus That Encodes Timing of Events.
(SciTechDaily, February 27, 2021)
When we experience a new event, our brain records a memory of
not only what happened, but also the context, including the
time and location of the event. A new study from MIT
neuroscientists sheds light on how the timing of a memory is
encoded in the hippocampus, and suggests that time and space
are encoded separately.
Boom as Collectors Shell Out to ‘Own’ Digital Art.
(Wired, February 27, 2021)
Non-fungible tokens provide a way to invest in and own digital
imagery. But is it just another crypto fad—or the future of
Suggests Proper Fit of COVID Face Masks Is More Important
(SciTechDaily, February 27, 2021)
The COVID-19 pandemic has made well-fitting face masks a vital
piece of protective equipment for healthcare workers and
civilians. While the importance of wearing face masks in
slowing the spread of the virus has been demonstrated, there
remains a lack of understanding about the role that good fit
plays in ensuring their effectiveness.
“We know that unless there is a good seal between the mask and
the wearer’s face, many aerosols and droplets will leak
through the top and sides of the mask, as many people who wear
glasses will be well aware of,” said Eugenia O’Kelly from
Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, the paper’s first
author. “We wanted to quantitatively evaluate the level of fit
offered by various types of masks, and most importantly,
assess the accuracy of implementing fit checks by comparing
fit check results to quantitative fit testing results.”
urges Senate to take 'quick action' on 'American Rescue
Plan' coronavirus relief package.
President Joe Biden on Saturday called for the Senate to
quickly pass his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package,
which the House approved early Saturday morning. “I hope it
will receive quick action,” Biden said. “We have no time to
waste. If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can
finally get ahead of this virus, we can finally get our
economy moving again and the people of this country have
suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that
releases video hitting Republicans on vote against
coronavirus relief bill.
(The Hill, February 27, 2021)
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) War Room on Saturday
released a new video hitting House Republicans for voting
against a sweeping $1.9 trillion package that aims to provide
financial relief for Americans amid the pandemic. The video,
which the DNC posted on Twitter Saturday afternoon, includes
news coverage of House Democrats passing the stimulus package
in a 219-212 vote early in the early morning. Two
Democrats — Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Kurt Schrader
(Ore.) — joined all Republicans in voting against the bill.
The DNC’s video outlines that the
package, dubbed the "American Rescue Plan"
funding for coronavirus vaccine distribution, reopening
schools and rental assistance. The package also includes an
additional $400 in weekly unemployment benefits, as well as a
one-time stimulus payment of up to $1,400 for individuals or
$2,800 for married couples. A Morning Consult/Politico poll
conducted last week found that 76 percent of registered voters
supported the stimulus package, with 52 percent saying they
“strongly” supported it.
Democrats are hoping to finalize the bill before unemployment
insurance benefits are set to expire on March 14.
tells the world ‘America is back.’ The world isn’t so sure.
(Washington Post, February 27, 2021)
President Biden is pushing to reclaim America’s global
leadership after four years of the former president's insults
and snubs. But allies worry the United States could easily
return to Trumpism.
Donald Trump’s party.": How the former president is building
a political operation to cement his hold on the GOP.
(Washington Post, February 27, 2021)
In advance of his first major post-White House address, Trump
is making plans to launch a super PAC, has begun endorsing
candidates and is plotting a possible 2024 comeback.
ugly story of Trump and Jamal Khashoggi is confirmed.
(Washington Post, February 27, 2021)
A newly released report from the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence points the finger squarely at Saudi
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the gruesome murder of
U.S. resident and contributing Washington Post global opinions
columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The allegation was no secret, and
hasn’t been for two years. But it was something Trump took
pains to cast doubt upon, even as his own government verified
White Supremacist sentenced to 19 years over plot to blow up
(The Hill, February 27, 2021)
Richard Holzer, 28, received a sentence of 235 months, which
equates to about 19 and a half years, in prison for his plot
to attack Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo, according to the
U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado. Holzer
was also sentenced to 15 years of supervised release.
Holzer, who was arrested and charged with a federal hate crime
in 2019, pleaded guilty to his charges in a plea agreement
last October. He admitted to undercover FBI agents at the time
he was arrested that he wanted “to do something that would
tell Jewish people in the community that they are not welcome
in Pueblo, and they should leave or they will die,” according
to the Justice Department.
Federal officials said that Holzer's scheme to ignite
explosives at the synagogue met the definition of domestic
terrorism, though the dynamite and pipe bombs he received from
the undercover FBI agents could not have been detonated.
Fascism is Becoming American Nazism.
The American Right is Hardening Into a Full-Blown Nazi Party.
A few years ago, when American fascism exploded — just as I’d
predicted, as many had — it was just that: a nascent fascist
movement. It dabbled with the doing the things fascist
movements always dream of, having ascended to having its very
own demagogue in the White House. Bans, camps, kids in cages,
kids in cages in camps, raids, purges, Gestapos…beatings,
disappearances, hate…all culminating a violent coup.
The coup on Jan 6th was a turning point — at least that’s how
history will remember it. That’s going unnoticed by Americans,
at least liberal Americans. But it was a moment of sudden and
sweeping transformation for the Republicans and their base.
Violence was legitimized. The Big Lies were acted upon.
Brutality was normalized. A head of state allegedly led a
violent coup that left five people dead (and counting) to
overthrow a democratically elected government by trying to
stop the process of vote counting. It’s a minor miracle there
wasn’t a massacre.
Why do I say that was a turning point? Because after that,
Republicans could have thought “we’ve gone too far.” Or “That
was wrong.” Or “that was way too much, and we are on the wrong
path.” And to be fair, a few have — a tiny, slender few. That
is the exception which proves the rule.
By and large, Republicans — not just leaders, but everyday
people — believe the “election was stolen” and therefore “it
needed to be taken back,” presumably by any means necessary,
right up to paramilitaries storming Congress and hunting down
members of Congress to kill. Republican support for Trump has
soared after the coup.
The reason that Republican leaders don’t disavow Trump is
because they can’t. They’ll lose grass roots support. So
they’re caught between a rock and a hard place — at least
“moderates,” like Mitt Romney, who, it should be widely
understood, are as still as conservative as say fanatical
right wingers in Europe. The “moderates” can’t fully attack
Trump, because they will lose their positions in the party.
What does that tell you? It should tell you three things, all
of which are very, very bad. One, it’s Trump’s party now. Two,
it’s Trumpism’s party. And three, Jan 6th was a moment that
sealed the American right’s fate and destiny from a nascent
fascist movement, to a now aspiring Nazi one.
What’s the difference? A fascist movement is a coalition of
social groups. They are still debating goals and purposes.
They agree on general philosophical principles, to use that
word far too generously. You know the score. It’s the old, old
Nietzschean logic: there are the weak and the strong, the weak
deserve to perish, the strong to survive, and the strong must
prove their strength therefore by dominating the weak. All
that is broken down along lines of “race,” which is an
artificial construct to begin with (after all, most “white”
people are actually pink, and there are no “yellow” or “red”
or “black” people at all — those are just boxes we force
A fascist movement is testing the waters. It’s disseminating
this moral logic of the strong subjugating the weak among
itself. It is busy developing this logic in mythologies and
fairy tales that then go on to provide a real world belief
system which justifies oppression and hate. It is toying with
creating institutions to turn this abhorrent moral philosophy
of strong dominating weak along racial lines into a social and
A fascist movement is like any other movement in that regard —
it is vying for power, its philosophies yet to harden and
coalesce, really, into widely held mythologies and symbols and
belief systems, which then trickle down further into
institutions and norms and values and aspirations and goals.
All that’s a little soft, but do you see the difference? Let
me make it clearer. Fascism is Trump challenging the courts
with ban after ban. Nazism is a group at CPAC standing on a
white-supremacist symbol shaped stage, chanting slogans that
are barely even thinly veiled code for fascism anymore.
Odal/Othala Rune Used By CPAC is 100% Explicitly a Nazi
(Daily Kos, February 26, 2021)
This rune was NEVER used before the 1930's. NEVER. No Germanic
tribesman or Viking ever carved, wrote or saw this symbol.
Revokes a Trump Order Seeking ‘Classical’ Civic
(New York Times, February 26, 2021)
Prominent architects had criticized the order for seeking to
impose a national style from above.
Trump’s executive order, which he signed in December after
losing his bid for re-election, was titled “Promoting
Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture,” and it praised
Greco-Roman architecture as being “beautiful” while describing
modernist designs as “ugly and inconsistent.” Those who
championed the order heralded it as a return to a bygone era
of federalist style. The American Institute of Architects,
which had said it was “appalled” by the Trump order, praised
the decision to revoke it.
The debate was not merely about aesthetics. “By overturning
this order, the Biden Administration has restored communities
with the freedom of design choice that is essential to
designing federal buildings that best serve the public,” the
institute’s president, Peter Exley, said in a statement. “This
is fundamental to an architect’s process and to achieving the
highest quality buildings possible.” Michael Kimmelman, the
architecture critic for The New York Times, had condemned the
measure when it was discussed last February. “Just to have
this argument feels demeaning,” he wrote.
Rumored Apple Car Is Bad News for Elon Musk.
February 26, 2021)
Stream is weakest it's been in more than 1,000 years, study
(Accuweather, February 26, 2021)
A group of scientists from Europe presented new research
this week claiming that the Gulf Stream is weaker now than
it's been at any point over the last 1,000 years. The Gulf
Stream is an Atlantic Ocean current that plays a largely
hidden role in shaping weather patterns in the United States.
Much has been researched and learned about the influential
current over the past 500 years, particularly due to the
expertise of one of America's Founding Fathers, Benjamin
But in recent decades, a shift in the Gulf Stream's
circulation has become weaker than any other time over the
last millennium, according to a recently published study by
scientists from Ireland, Britain and Germany. The weakening of
the Gulf Stream, formally known as the Atlantic Meridional
Overturning Circulation (AMOC), can be mostly pinned to one
catalyst, the researchers said: human-caused climate change.
Opening Windows Is a Key to Reopening Schools
Times, February 26, 2021)
The C.D.C. is urging communities to reopen schools as quickly
as possible, but parents and teachers have raised questions
about the quality of ventilation available in public school
classrooms to protect against the coronavirus. We worked with
a leading engineering firm and experts specializing in
buildings systems to better understand the simple steps
schools can take to reduce exposure in the classroom.
[Now, how to answer the questions about 9 students per
of COVID-19 Hospitalizations Are Due to These Four
(Tufts University, February 25, 2021)
Model suggests higher risk based on obesity, diabetes,
hypertension and heart failure (also race and age), offers
insights to reduce disease impact.
Gentle Wisdoms That Make Life Worth Living
February 25, 2021)
Harsh life advice has had its day. Life advice shouldn’t yell
at you — it should whisper. It should gently land on you in a
way that makes — no, allows — you to think, to absorb it in
your own time, in your own way. Especially now, especially in
a world that’s been tipped upside down by a pandemic.
Granholm is confirmed as Secretary of U.S. Dept. of Energy.
(New York Times, February 25, 2021)
The Senate confirmed Jennifer M. Granholm to be energy
secretary on Thursday, positioning the former governor of
Michigan to play a key role in President Biden’s plans to
confront climate change. Ms. Granholm, a longtime champion of
renewable energy development, was confirmed by a vote of 64 to
35, with support from both Democrats and Republicans.
Ms. Granholm will oversee an agency that plays a leading role
in researching and developing new energy technologies, such as
advanced wind turbines or methods to capture carbon dioxide
from industrial facilities before the gas reaches the
atmosphere. Energy experts have said innovations like these
could prove critical for slashing planet-warming greenhouse
At her confirmation hearing last month, Ms. Granholm sought to
allay fears by lawmakers that transitioning the United States
away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner energy sources would
devastate the nation’s economy. She pointed to her experience
as Michigan’s governor during the 2009 recession, when the
state invested heavily in electric vehicle technology and
worker retraining programs amid efforts to rescue an ailing
auto industry that had long focused on building
gasoline-powered cars and trucks. “I understand what it’s like
to look into the eyes of men and women who have lost their
jobs through no fault of their own,” Ms. Granholm said. But
clean energy, she added, “is a sector that every single state
can benefit from.”
prosecutor gets Trump tax records after long fight.
(Associated Press, February 25, 2021)
A New York prosecutor has obtained copies of Donald Trump’s
tax records after the Supreme Court this week rejected the
former president’s last-ditch effort to prevent them from
being handed over. The Manhattan district attorney’s office
enforced a subpoena on Trump’s accounting firm within hours of
the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday and now has the documents
in hand, a spokesperson for the office, Danny Frost, said
District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. had been fighting for a
year and a half for access to Trump’s tax records for a
criminal grand jury investigation into his business dealings.
Vance, a Democrat, is conducting a wide-ranging investigation
that includes an examination of whether Trump or his
businesses lied about the value of assets to gain favorable
loan terms and tax benefits. The district attorney is also
scrutinizing hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s
The documents are protected by grand jury secrecy rules and
are not expected to be made public.
Tied to Russia's GRU Targeted the US Grid for Years,
(Wired, February 24, 2021)
A Sandworm-adjacent group has successfully breached US
critical infrastructure a handful of times, according to new
findings from the security firm Dragos.
Kamacite's main intrusion tools have been spear-phishing
emails with malware payloads and brute-forcing the cloud-based
logins of Microsoft services like Office 365 and Active
Directory as well as virtual private networks. Once the group
gains an initial foothold, it exploits valid user accounts to
maintain access, and has used the credential-stealing tool
Mimikatz to spread further into victims' networks.
the Grid Goes Down, Can a Fleet of Batteries Replace It?
(Wired, February 24, 2021)
In a power crisis, maybe the solution is a network of smaller
energy sources distributed across multiple places—like your
Fry’s. I Learned Everything About Gadgets From You.
(Wired, February 24, 2021)
The Company ceased regular operations and began
the wind-down process on February 24, 2021
. Now that the
big-box electronics store has shuttered, future
generations need a place where they can touch and discover the
next great technology.
Perseverance Rover Gives High-Definition 360-Degree
Panoramic View of Landing Site.
(NASA, February 24,
This 360-degree panorama was taken by Mastcam-Z, a zoomable
pair of cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. The
panorama was stitched together on Earth from 142 individual
images taken on Sol 3, the third Martian day of the mission
(Feb. 21, 2021).
mRNA (Pfizer) Covid-19 Vaccine in a Nationwide (Israel) Mass
(New England Journal of Medicine,
February 24, 2021)
Each study group included 596,618 persons. Estimated vaccine
effectiveness for the study outcomes at days 14 through 20
after the first dose and at 7 or more days after the second
dose was as follows: for documented infection, 46% (95%
confidence interval [CI], 40 to 51) and 92% (95% CI, 88 to
95); for symptomatic Covid-19, 57% (95% CI, 50 to 63) and 94%
(95% CI, 87 to 98); for hospitalization, 74% (95% CI, 56 to
86) and 87% (95% CI, 55 to 100); and for severe disease, 62%
(95% CI, 39 to 80) and 92% (95% CI, 75 to 100), respectively.
Estimated effectiveness in preventing death from Covid-19 was
72% (95% CI, 19 to 100) for days 14 through 20 after the first
dose. Estimated effectiveness in specific subpopulations
assessed for documented infection and symptomatic Covid-19 was
consistent across age groups, with potentially slightly lower
effectiveness in persons with multiple coexisting conditions.
researchers trial more accurate fast "CorDial-1" COVID-19
(Reuters, February 23, 2021)
A nasal or saliva swab is placed onto a strip and if
nanobodies come into contact with the virus, the test will
know it. You start your mobile phone, a signal will occur, and
depending on the height of the signal, you can say if you’re
COVID positive or negative.
Researchers said initial trials on 300 samples were 90%
accurate and delivered in 10 minutes. The next phase of the
project is to run a three-month trial on more than 1,000
people. Creators of the CorDial-1 test say if it receives
approval, it’ll be cheap once manufacturing begins on a large
Firefox release includes Multiple Picture-in-Picture and
Total Cookie Protection.
; Mozilla Blog, February 23, 2021)
Our Picture-in-Picture feature topped our Best of Firefox 2020
features list and we heard from people who wanted more than
just one picture-in-picture view. In today’s 68.0 release, we
, available on Mac, Linux and
Windows, and includes keyboard controls for fast forward and
Today, we are announcing Total Cookie Protection for Firefox,
a major new milestone in our work to protect your privacy.
Total Cookie Protection stops cookies from tracking you around
the web by creating a separate cookie jar for every website. Total
Cookie Protection joins our suite of privacy protections
called ETP (Enhanced Tracking Protection).
Total Cookie Protection with last month’s supercookie
protections, Firefox is now armed with very strong,
comprehensive protection against cookie tracking. This will be
available in ETP Strict Mode in both the desktop and Android
Google's balloons surprised their creator
Unexpectedly, the artificial intelligence (AI) on board the
balloon had learned to recreate an ancient sailing technique
first developed by humans centuries, if not thousands of
years, ago. "Tacking" involves steering a vessel into the wind
and then angling outward again so that progress in a zig-zag,
roughly in the desired direction, can still be made. Under
unfavourable weather conditions, the self-flying balloons had
learned to tack all by themselves. The fact they had done
this, unprompted, surprised everyone, not least the
researchers working on the project.
The exploratory nature of AI is fundamental to its future
success; the things they are doing that are creative and
impressive are no longer academic curiosities. As AIs find
better ways to diagnose disease or deliver emergency supplies
to people, they'll even save lives thanks to their ability to
find new ways to solve old problems. But those who develop
such systems need to be open and honest about their
unpredictable nature, to help the public understand how AI
It is, after all, a double-edged sword – the very promise and
threat of AI all wrapped up in one. Whatever will they think
Perseverance Rover Sends New Video and Images of the Red
(112-min. video; NASA, February 22, 2021)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover safely touched down on the Red
Planet on Feb. 18. So what will the robotic scientist "see" on
her descent and what will she do next? Join mission experts
for update about the rover – the biggest, heaviest, cleanest,
and most sophisticated six-wheeled robot ever launched into
space – including imagery it captured and its mission to
had never seen a spacecraft land on another planet—until
(3-min. video; Ars Technica, February 22, 2021)
On Monday, NASA released a video (embedded below) that
included several viewpoints from the descent of Mars
Perseverance to the surface of the red planet last week. A
camera on the back shell captured a view of the parachute
deploying, and cameras on the descent stage and rover itself
captured the final seconds of the landing.
Just Rediscovering a 19th-Century Pandemic Strategy.
(The Atlantic, February 22, 2021)
The first way to fight a new virus would once have been
opening the windows.
Hijacked an NSA Hacking Tool in 2014—and Used It for Years.
(Wired, February 22, 2021)
The hackers used the agency’s EpMe exploit to attack Windows
devices years before the Shadow Brokers leaked the agency’s
zero-day arsenal online.
Seized Congressional Cellphone Records Related to Capitol
(Intercept, February 22, 2021)
The inclusion of congressional phone data in the FBI
investigation raises thorny constitutional questions.
In the hours and days after the Capitol riot, the FBI relied
in some cases on emergency orders that do not require court
authorization in order to quickly secure actual communications
from people who were identified at the crime scene.
Investigators have also relied on data “dumps” from cellphone
towers in the area to provide a map of who was there, allowing
them to trace call records — but not content — from the
phones. The cellphone data includes many records from the
members of Congress and staff members who were at the Capitol
that day to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory.
The data is also being used to map links between suspects,
which include members of Congress, they also said.
Hartmann: Trump’s Ruthless Plan to Stomp Out Democracy in
(Medium, February 21, 2021)
Trump still has majority Republican support; most are ready
and willing for a 2024 authoritarian coup.
pitfalls and perils of the Anthropocene; that’s us, by the
(Boston Globe, February 21, 2021)
“If control is the problem, then . . . still more control
must be the solution,” writes Elizabeth Kolbert, who calls
this the “logic of the Anthropocene,” the new geological
epoch in which we live (Humans
need to remake the planet yet again, Ideas, Feb. 13).
But are we really hearing the dark truth in her remark? As
geological eras are measured, the Anthropocene is a newborn,
and yet we humans have already unmade and remade vast tracts
of our planet, disrupted ecological balances of all sorts,
and put in jeopardy not just the Louisiana coastline, as
Kolbert reports, but also the atmosphere we live in, the
oceans that surround us, and the land that feeds us.
More controls are on the way. Scientists are starting to
explore geoengineering as so-called solutions to the problem
of our warming planet. Schemes to redesign our atmosphere
with reflective particles and remake the chemistry of our
oceans are gaining traction as the politics of greenhouse
gas reduction looks increasingly futile. Can nothing prevent
this clever ape from straining toward its own extinction?
Kolbert’s “logic of the Anthropocene” matches a classic
definition of madness. But that madness seems to be part of
our nature, and the Anthropocene is at risk of becoming a
very brief era indeed. Unless, that is, we can shed our
hubris and find our way back to a more wholesome coexistence
with the earth as it is.
"Silver Sparrow" malware found on 30,000 Macs has security
(Ars Technica, February 20, 2021)
With no payload (yet), analysts are struggling to learn what
this mature malware does.
browser-tracking hack works even when you flush caches or go
(Ars Technica, February 19, 2021)
At least 4 top browsers affected by "powerful tracking
vector," researchers say.
may duck a surge from COVID-19 variant that sent Britain
(Harvard Gazette, February 19, 2021)
Expert says falling COVID rates, rising vaccinations, timing
may hamper spread.
vaccine doesn’t need ultra-cold storage after all, company
(Ars Technica, February 19, 2021)
The pharma giant and partner BioNTech have asked FDA to revise
the vaccine's label.
2020 Perseverance: Initial Surface Checkout Briefing
(60-min. video; NASA, February 19, 2021)
Insane Engineering of the Perseverance Rover
video; Real Engineering, February 18, 2021)
to Watch NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover Landing
131-min. video of the event
; Wired, February 18, 2021)
NASA’s biggest and boldest rover attempts a momentous landing
on February 18. Here’s how to watch—and why you should.
[NASA's JPL presents its ultimate educational device: host
Lands the Perseverance Rover on Mars.
Wired, February 18, 2021)
The science mission will launch the first drone to fly on
another planet, attempt making oxygen in space, and search for
signs of ancient life.
rover lands on Mars.
(2-min. video; 3-min.
; CNN, February 18, 2021)
Perseverance, NASA's most sophisticated rover to date, landed
on Mars. This is NASA's first mission that will search for
signs of ancient life on another planet. It launched from
Florida at the end of July. NASA only lands a rover on Mars
about every 10 years. The last was Curiosity in 2012.
Hartmann: As Texas Shows, the GOP Big Lie Strategy has
Already Destroyed Much of America.
(Medium, February 18,
When politics are based on lies, fascism thrives.
-Republicans and their media are lying right now about why
people are dying from the cold in Texas.
-The GOP has been embracing lies instead of policy since the
-It’s become a way of life for Republican politicians.
-As a consequence, Republican voters are among the most
misinformed people in America.
-When the electorate believes lies, democracy doesn’t work.
-The Libertarian billionaires who own the Republican Party
don’t believe in democracy, so this is working out exactly the
way they want.
-This is a formula for the destruction of democracy and the
rise of fascism.
kauri reveal secrets of life on Earth after magnetic pole
shift 42,000 years ago.
(1 NEWS/NZ, February 18, 2021)
Ancient kauri trees from New Zealand's Northland have
revealed, for the first time, precisely when Earth’s last
magnetic pole shift happened and its devastating consequences
on the environment.
for Life in NASA’s Perseverance Mars Samples
February 17, 2021)
When the agency’s newest rover mission searches for fossilized
microscopic life on the Red Planet, how will scientists know
whether they’ve found it?
Achieve Real-Time Communication With Lucid Dreamers In
(w/15-min. NOVA video
Vice, February 18, 2021)
Humanity has been able reach distant vistas, such as the Moon,
the deep oceans, and the wild expanses at Earth’s poles. Now,
scientists have made a new breakthrough in the exploration of
a very different type of frontier—the hallucinatory world
An international team of researchers was able to achieve
real-time dialogues with people in the midst of lucid dreams,
a phenomenon that is called “interactive dreaming”.
mammoth DNA rewrites animal’s evolutionary tree.
Technica, February 17, 2021)
The oldest DNA yet sequenced shows how the genus split off
into new species.
next-generation coronavirus vaccine is in the works, but
initial funding was denied.
(2-min. video; USA Today,
February 17, 2021)
Drew Weissman realized a year ago that even if the COVID-19
vaccines then in progress were eventually approved, it might
not be enough. The world might need a next-generation vaccine
to rid itself of this pandemic. Recent outbreaks of more
resilient variants suggest he could be right. And yet, when
Weissman – discoverer of the mRNA science behind two of the
current vaccines – and a team of fellow scientists took a
proposal for a more versatile COVID-19 vaccine to the National
Institutes of Health for funding last May, they left
empty-handed. The group had proposed research on vaccines to
protect against any variant of the virus, known as a universal
or pan vaccine.
Antiviral Nasal Spray to Prevent COVID / Coronavirus
(1-min. video; SciTechDaily, February 17,
The antiviral lipopeptide is inexpensive to produce, has a
long shelf life, and does not require refrigeration. These
features make it stand out from other antiviral approaches
under development, including many monoclonal antibodies. The
new nasal lipopeptide could be ideal for halting the spread of
COVID in the United States and globally; the transportable and
stable compound could be especially key in rural, low-income,
and hard-to-reach populations.
Krugman: Pandemic Economics: Stay Weird.
Times, February 16, 2021)
In this situation, the purpose of government spending isn’t to
provide stimulus, it is to provide disaster relief, money that
helps those hurt hard by the pandemic make it through until
widespread vaccination makes it possible to resume our usual
lives. It’s OK if a lot of pandemic spending is pretty poor
stimulus. In fact, it might even be a good thing.
Things Happy People Have in Common According to Science
(Medium, February 16, 2021)
Use correlation as a framework to improve your odds of
is awarded $1 million prize in Israel, including for
‘speaking truth to power’.
(Boston Globe, February 15,
Dr. Anthony Fauci, 80, won in the “Present” category for his
scientific contributions, including his research and his
efforts to inform the public about the pandemic.
Invites You to Share Thrill of Mars Perseverance Rover
February 14, 2021)
NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities
and events as the agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover nears
entry, descent, and landing on the Red Planet, with touchdown
scheduled for approximately 3:55 p.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 18.
Live coverage and landing commentary from NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California will begin at
2:15 p.m. EST on the NASA TV Public Channel and the agency’s
website, as well as the NASA App, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook,
LinkedIn, Twitch, Daily Motion, and THETA.TV
You also can follow every step of entry, descent, and landing
During landing, the rover will plunge through the thin Martian
atmosphere at more than 12,000 mph (about 20,000 kph). A
parachute and powered descent will slow the rover down to
about 2 mph (3 kph). During what is known as the sky crane
maneuver, the descent stage will lower the rover on three
cables to land softly on six wheels at Jezero Crater.
Perseverance also is carrying a technology experiment – the
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – that will attempt the first
powered, controlled flight on another planet.
Untold History of America’s Zero-Day Market
February 14, 2021)
The lucrative business of dealing in code vulnerabilities is
central to espionage and war planning, which is why brokers
never spoke about it—until now.
Democrats say Trump acquittal was foregone conclusion.
(The Hill, February 14, 2021)
Democratic members of Congress said on Sunday that the
acquittal of former President Trump at the conclusion of his
second impeachment trial one day earlier had been a foregone
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager,
said he had “no regrets” about the trial, however. “[W]e have
no regrets at all. We left it totally out there on the floor
of the U.S. Senate, and every senator knew exactly what
happened. And just go back and listen to McConnell’s speech,”
Raskin said on NBC's "Meet the Press," referencing Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s floor speech blasting Trump
shortly after the Kentucky Republican voted to acquit the
former president. “It could be First Amendment, it could be
bill of attainder, it could be due process. I mean all of them
are nonsense,” Raskin told host Chuck Todd. “I thought that I
successfully demolished them at the trial but, you know,
there's no reasoning with people who basically are, you know,
acting like members of a religious cult and when they leave
office should be selling flowers at Dulles Airport.”
Raskin’s fellow impeachment manager, Del. Stacey Plaskett
(D-V.I.), expressed similar sentiments on CNN’s “State of the
Union,” defending the Democrats' decision not to call
witnesses. McConnell, she said, “agreed with us, they all
agreed with us … [w]hat we needed we more senators with
spines, not more witnesses."
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) similarly said the
Senate was “never going to reach” the required two-thirds
majority to convict without McConnell’s support. “We were
never going to reach 67 votes in the Senate without Mitch
McConnell voting guilty. So he went up on the floor
afterwards, he basically gave the speech that Jamie Raskin
would have given to the Senate, and then tried to justify his
vote for acquittal,” Durbin said on “Meet the Press.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), meanwhile, said the trial would
serve as a historical referendum on Trump. “It’s not what we
accomplished… it’s what our republic accomplished,” Klobuchar
said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve got to make sure that this
doesn’t happen again. To me, this was about not hiding
acquittal is a sign of ‘constitutional rot’ – partisanship
(The Conversation, February 13,
In a constitutional democracy, the majority’s authority to
govern is limited by the rule of law and by a set of legal
rules and principles set out in the Constitution.
Constitutional rot is a condition in which we appear to be
formally governed by constitutional rules and the rule of law,
but the reality is quite different. When rot sets in, public
officials and the public routinely ignore or subvert those
rules while sanctimoniously professing fidelity to them.
Constitutional rot is not only a failure of constitutional law
— it is a failure of constitutional democracy.
Cox Richardson: Republicans no longer set the terms of the
(Letters From An American, February
McConnell tried to address the party’s capitulation
immediately after the vote with a speech blaming Trump for the
insurrection and saying that his own vote to acquit was
because he does not think the Senate can try a former
president. This is posturing, of course; McConnell made sure
the Senate did not take up the House’s article of impeachment
while Trump was still in office, and now says that, because it
did not do so, it does not have jurisdiction.
McConnell is trying to have it both ways. He has made it clear
he wants to free the Republican Party from its thralldom to
Trump, and he needs to do so in order to regain both voters
and the major donors who have distanced themselves from party
members who support the big lie. But he needs to keep Trump
voters in the party. So he has bowed to the Trump wing in the
short term, apparently hoping to retain its goodwill, and
then, immediately after the vote, gave a speech condemning
Trump to reassure donors that he and the party are still sane.
He likely hopes that, as the months go by and the Republicans
block President Biden’s plans, alienated voters and donors
will come back around to the party. From this perspective, the
seven Republican votes to convict Trump provide excellent
cover. It’s a cynical strategy and probably the best he can
do, but it’s a long shot that it alone will enable the
Republicans to regain control of the House and the Senate in
2022. For that, the Republicans need to get rid of Democratic
That need was part of what was behind the party’s support for
Trump’s big lie. The essence of that lie was that Trump won
the 2020 election because the votes of Democrats, especially
people of color, were illegitimate. Republican lawmakers were
happy to sign on to that big lie: it is a grander version of
their position since 1986. Even now, those Republicans who
backed the big lie have not admitted it was false. Instead,
they are using the myth of fraudulent Democratic votes to push
a massive attack on voting rights before the 2022 election.
But they are no longer setting the terms of the country’s
politics. By refusing to engage with the impeachment trial,
Biden and his team escaped the trap of letting Trump continue
to drive the national narrative. Instead, they are making it a
priority to protect voting rights. At the same time, they are
pushing back against the Republican justification for voter
suppression: that widespread voting leads to Black and Brown
voter fraud that elects “socialists” who redistribute money
from “makers” to “takers.” Biden’s team is using the
government in ways that are popular with voters across the
board: right now, for example, 79% of Americans either like
Biden’s coronavirus relief package or think it is too small.
It was disheartening today to see that even trying to destroy
the American government was not enough to get more than seven
Republican senators to convict the former president. But it is
not at all clear that tying their party to Trump is a winning
unloads on Trump: 'Morally responsible' for provoking mob.
(1-min. video; The Hill, February 13, 2021)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Saturday
unleashed blistering criticism of former President Trump,
blaming him for sparking the attack on the Capitol while also
explaining why he didn't vote for a conviction.
McConnell also suggested that Trump could face criminal
prosecution for his actions. "There's no question, none, that
President Trump is practically and morally responsible for
provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The
people that stormed this building believed they were acting on
the wishes and instructions of their president," McConnell
said. "And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of
the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories
and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept
shouting into the largest megaphone on the Earth," McConnell
McConnell's remarks came after the Senate fell short of the 67
votes needed to convict Trump. Though McConnell voted to
acquit him, arguing it fell outside the Senate's jurisdiction,
his remarks are a stinging rebuke of Trump's actions and
Hartmann: Did Trump Think His January 6th Mob Had Taken
(Medium, February 13, 2021)
What if Donald Trump actually hoped that his mob would murder
Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy
Pelosi? What if he believed such a crime would create a crisis
big enough to let him declare a state of emergency, shut down
the government for a transition period through that emergency,
and retain his position as President moving into the new year?
on acquittal: MAGA 'has only just begun'.
The Hill, February 13, 2021)
Former President Trump declared victory on Saturday after
Senate Republicans voted to acquit him for a second time,
saying that his political movement “has only just begun” and
that he would have more to share in the near future. “Our
historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America
Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead, I have
much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our
incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for
all of our people,” he said in the statement. Trump thanked
his legal team for “upholding justice and defending truth.”
Senators voted 57-43 to convict Trump of high crimes and
misdemeanors for “willfully inciting violence against the
Government of the United States.” However, a two-thirds vote
was needed to find Trump guilty.
refused to hand over key data to WHO team probing pandemic’s
(Ars Technica, February 13, 2021)
The WHO and investigators offer conflicting accounts of the
closely watched probe.
The researchers had requested raw data on 174 of the very
first COVID-19 cases identified in Wuhan, China during
December 2019, as well as other cases. But the team—assembled
by the World Health Organization—was only given a summary of
those early cases, according to multiple media reports.
Having such detailed patient data from the start of an
outbreak is “standard practice for an outbreak investigation,”
Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert and
WHO team member, told Reuters in an interview Saturday. Dwyer
emphasized that data on those 174 cases is particularly key
because only half of them were connected to the Huanan seafood
market, which was initially thought to be the source of the
need to remake the planet yet again
, by Elizabeth
Kolbert (Boston Globe, February 13, 2021)
Because there’s no going back to nature as it once was, the
future will be defined by how wisely we exercise our control
If control is the problem, then, by the logic of the
Anthropocene, still more control must be the solution.
Southern Ocean Cools at the Surface but Warms Up at Depth.
(SciTechDaily, February 13, 2021)
A comprehensive analysis on the evolution of Southern Ocean
temperatures over the last 25 years has concluded that the
slight cooling observed at the surface hides a rapid and
marked warming of the waters, to a depth of up to 800 meters.
The study points to major changes around the polar ice cap
where temperatures are increasing by 0.04°C per decade, which
could have serious consequences for Antarctic ice. Warm water
is also rising rapidly to the surface, at a rate of 39 meters
per decade, i.e. between three and ten times more than
Prepare to Collect Data as Perseverance Enters Mars’
(NASA, February 12, 2021)
Nearly six and a half months and 300 million miles since
launch, NASA’s Perseverance rover will land on Mars about
3:55PM EST on Thursday, Feb. 18th, to begin its robotic
exploration of the Red Planet.
But before Perseverance
touches down on the surface of Mars, it has to achieve a
successful entry, descent, and landing (EDL).
Onboard the rover’s protective aeroshell is the Mars Entry,
Descent, and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2), which will
collect critical data about the harsh entry environment during
Perseverance’s entry through the planet’s atmosphere. While
not used as part of the Mars 2020 controls for this Mars
landing, the MEDLI2 data will help improve the designs of
entry systems for future robotic and crewed Mars missions.
Levitated a Small Tray Using Nothing but Light.
February 12, 2021)
In the basement of a University of Pennsylvania engineering
building, Mohsen Azadi and his labmates huddled around a set
of blinding LEDs set beneath an acrylic vacuum chamber. They
stared at the lights, their cameras, and what they hoped would
soon be some action from the two tiny plastic plates sitting
inside the enclosure. “We didn't know what we were expecting
to see,” says Azadi, a mechanical engineering PhD candidate.
“But we hoped to see something.”
Let’s put it this way: They wanted to see if those plates
would levitate, lofted solely by the power of light.
Light-induced flow, or photophoresis, isn't a breakthrough on
its own. Researchers have used this physical phenomenon to
float invisible aerosols and sort particles in microfluidic
devices. But they have never before moved an object big enough
to grasp—much less lifted anything that can carry objects
And it worked. “When the two samples lifted,” Azadi says,
“there was this gasp between all four of us.” The Mylar
plates, each as wide as a pencil’s diameter, hovered thanks to
nothing but the energy from the light below, according to a
paper published today in Science Advances. Energy from the
LEDs heats up the Mylar’s specially-coated underbelly,
energizing air particles under the plastic and propelling the
plates away with a tiny, but mighty, gust.
One day a “magic carpet” based on this light-induced flow
technology could carry climate sensors high into the ignorosphere
[I see the light - and it is uplifting! :-)]
‘killer’ T cells could boost COVID immunity in face of new
(Nature, February 12, 2021)
In the race against emerging coronavirus variants, researchers
are looking beyond antibodies for clues to lasting protection
The Mind-Boggling Theory That We Could Be Descended from
(13-min. video; Vice, February 12, 2021)
February is a blockbuster month for Mars missions. The United
Arab Emirates and China have both arrived successfully in
Martian orbit this week, and NASA is due to land its
Perseverance rover on the red planet next Thursday. All of
these missions are, to some degree, tasked with assessing
whether Mars might have hosted life in its distant past,
billions of years ago. This question is not only crucial to
our understanding of Mars’ habitability, it also has
implications for life on Earth: many scientists think that
life may have started on Mars first, only to spread to Earth,
through a process called panspermia.
Portions of Today’s Sahara Desert Were Green Thousands of
(SciTechDaily, February 12, 2021)
Large parts of today’s Sahara Desert were green thousands of
years ago. Prehistoric engravings of giraffes and crocodiles
testify to this, as does a stone-age cave painting in the
desert that even shows swimming humans. However, these
illustrations only provide a rough picture of the living
conditions. Recently, more detailed insights have been gained
from sediment cores extracted from the Mediterranean Sea off
the coast of Libya. An international research team examined
these cores and discovered that the layers of the seafloor
tell the story of major environmental changes in North Africa
over the past 160,000 years.
Rivalry Over Valentine's Day Card Origins In U.S.
(Worcester/MA Patch, February 12, 2021)
Worcester's Esther Howland and Grafton's Jotham Taft both
claim to have brought the Valentine's Day staple to the U.S.
in Fort Worth, TX still picking up pieces of yesterday's
135-car pileup that killed six people.
NBC News, February 12, 2021)
Freezing rain contributed to the smashup.
Spy-Busters Put Secret-Stealing Chinese 'Grad Students'
Under the Microscope.
February 11, 2021)
The FBI last month arrested Gang Chen, a well-known MIT
nanotechnologist, and charged the China-born naturalized
American with concealing close and lucrative connections to
China's scientific and technological establishment on his
applications for federal research grants.
Chen, who has pleaded not guilty and is supported by MIT, is
not the only prominent academic figure to be arrested and
charged with failing to disclose connections to Chinese
research institutes. At least half a dozen have been arrested
in the last year or so. They include Charles Lieber, the chair
of the Harvard University Chemistry Department, who is accused
of concealing his participation in an ambitious,
state-sponsored Chinese effort to recruit top scientists and
engineers from around the world to work in China.
The prosecutions illustrate growing American alarm about
Chinese technology theft, an important part of China’s effort
to supplant the United States both as the dominant military
power in Asia and as the world's leader in science and
technology. Despite the publicity surrounding the American
academics' arrests, U.S. officials and analysts say a
particular concern is Chinese graduate school researchers with
An estimated 1,000 Chinese graduate researchers abruptly fled
the country and returned to China – apparently, in the view of
American officials, because they had concealed their ties to
the Chinese military and were afraid of arrest. Still, 1,000
researchers represent a tiny fraction of the 360,000 Chinese
nationals enrolled in American colleges and universities, many
of whom, perhaps the large majority of whom, are engaged in
activities above reproach.
Foroux: The Stoic Path to Wealth
(Medium, February 11,
An ancient investing strategy for the modern world.
Unlikeliest Pandemic Success Story
February 10, 2021)
How did a tiny, poor nation manage to suffer only one death
from the coronavirus?
Florida water plant employees used the same TeamViewer
password and no firewall.
(Ars Technica, February 10,
Shortcomings illustrate the lack of security rigor in critical
infrastructure environments. The computer intrusion happened
last Friday in Oldsmar, a Florida city of about 15,000 that’s
roughly 15 miles northwest of Tampa. After gaining remote
access to a computer that controlled equipment inside the
Oldsmar water treatment plant, the unknown intruder increased
the amount of sodium hydroxide—a caustic chemical better known
as lye—by a factor of 100. The tampering could have caused
severe sickness or death had it not been for safeguards the
city has in place.
scrutiny heats up of government response to the SolarWinds
(Washington Post, February 10, 2021)
The House Homeland Security Committee will today hold its
first cybersecurity hearing of 2021. The hearing comes as
scrutiny heats up of the government's response to a massive
Russian hack of government systems exposed in December.
Russian actors were able to exploit a vulnerability in
SolarWinds products and other software to infiltrate the
networks of at least eight government agencies and potentially
thousands of other companies and governments around the world.
Lawmakers will be looking for answers as to why, despite
significant investments in federal network security, Russians
managed to lurk unnoticed in government systems for months.
Lawmakers are working with other key committees to learn more
about the campaign.
Also likely to come up is a recent hack of a Florida town's
water supply, a committee spokesperson said. The attempted
poisoning of the water supply by a hacker has raised alarm
about serious vulnerabilities in U.S. critical infrastructure.
“Today we will be discussing what I hope will be a bipartisan
endeavor — making cyberspace more secure and networks more
resilient,” Thompson said. “Thankfully, after four years,
Congress now has a willing and able cybersecurity partner in
the White House. I am optimistic about the progress we can
make but we must work quickly to make up for lost time.”
impeachment managers have sealed off Republicans’ escape
(5-min. video; Washington Post, February 10,
The House impeachment managers moved efficiently on Wednesday
to close off the escape hatches and back doors for Senate
Republicans. Quietly but passionately, they put the lie to the
sham alibis that weak and cowardly members of the GOP are
likely to invoke if they decide to do Donald Trump’s bidding
one more time.
Those who vote to acquit the former president will now own it
all: The incendiary speech that made the nation’s capital a
killing ground but also the months of incitement and lying
that built up to the violence. They will own the threats
against elected officials who refused to cheat on Trump’s
behalf, the attacks on Black voters in big cities, and the
savage mendacity of his all-caps tweets. Voting to acquit will
mean joining in Trump’s rejection of the democratic obligation
to accept the outcome of a free election and in his
declarations even before the voting began that this was a
“rigged” and “stolen” contest.
impeachment trial gets off to a rough start for Donald
(New York Times, February 10, 2021)
The first day did not go well for Trump’s team. Most Americans
believe that he incited a violent mob to attack Congress and
that he should never hold office again. His lawyers didn’t do
much to change that perception yesterday.
Trump’s second impeachment is different: Most Americans
believe the Senate should convict Trump and disqualify him
from holding office again, according to multiple polls. In our
deeply polarized country, even a narrow majority of public
opinion is significant. It indicates that a meaningful number
of people have crossed over to the other side of a debate. In
the CBS poll, for example, 21 percent of Republican voters
said they believed Trump had encouraged violence during the
Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. (A new Times video lays out
the many lies he
told about the election, feeding the crowd’s anger.
Representative Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat leading the
prosecution, opened with a video montage showing both the Jan.
6 attack and Trump’s words during that day. (You can
watch it here
.) Raskin later delivered an impassioned argument
recalling his own experience that day.
“All around me, people were calling their wives and their
husbands, their loved ones to say goodbye,” Raskin said.
“Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the
future of America. We cannot have presidents inciting and
mobilizing mob violence against our government and our
institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the
Raskin and other Democratic managers also said that Trump’s
lawyers were creating a dangerous precedent by arguing the
trial was invalid because Trump was no longer in office. If
that were true, the end of every president’s time in office
would turn into a “January exception” when he would be immune
from consequences for his actions.
The performance of Trump’s lawyers received mostly dreadful
reviews. Trump himself was furious while watching the
proceedings from Palm Beach, Fla., my colleague Maggie Haberman reported
several of Trump’s Senate allies — including Ted Cruz and
Lindsey Graham — criticized his lawyers’ case as ineffective.
Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, called
the prosecutors’ case focused, organized and compelling.
“President Trump’s team were disorganized,” Cassidy added.
“They did everything they could but to talk about the question
at hand, and when they talked about it, they kind of glided
over it, almost as if they were embarrassed of their
arguments.” Carl Hulse, The Times’s chief Washington
correspondent, noted that the Trump team’s strategy had
changed from his last impeachment. “I haven’t heard either of
the president’s lawyers say he did nothing wrong,” Carl wrote.
“This is a process argument and the Trump team wants to stay
away from what happened on Jan. 6 as much as possible.”
Heather Cox Richardson: The people who are really on trial are
the 50 Republican senators judging Trump’s guilt. (Letters
From An American, February 9, 2021)
The goal behind impeachment, Neguse said, is to guarantee
accountability and stop corruption. There is, he said, no
merit to Trump’s claim that he can incite an insurrection and
then insist weeks later that the Senate lacks power to hold a
Like Raskin and Neguse, Representative David Cicilline (D-RI)
emphasized that there is no “January exception” to the
Constitution. He pointed out that Trump committed a terrible
constitutional offense when he incited an armed angry mob to
riot in the Capitol.
Cicilline also pointed out that Trump did not back down. At
the end of that fateful day, Trump tweeted: “These are the
things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election
victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away
from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated
for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this
day forever!” It is no wonder Trump’s lawyers want to talk
about jurisdiction rather than facts, he said.
The goal for the defense today was simply to give cover to
Republicans who wanted to avoid voting on the merits of the
case by giving them room to dismiss the case on the grounds it
was unconstitutional. Trump's new lawyers did not give them
that cover. At the end of the presentations, the Senate voted
that it was constitutional to proceed with the trial by a vote
of 56 to 44. Six Republicans, one more than had voted yes on a
similar vote in Congress, joined the Democratic majority.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said the defense lawyers had not
provided a convincing argument that such a trial was
unconstitutional. When pressed by reporters about why he
thought the defense was poor, he said: “Did you listen to it?
It was disorganized, random—they talked about many things, but
they didn’t talk about the issue at hand.”
The defense lawyers’ problem, of course, is that they are
being asked to defend the indefensible. They know it; we know
it; Republican senators who have been defended Trump know it.
If Republican senators permit Trump to get away with the big
lie, it must, logically, take over the Republican Party. It’s
no wonder that he lost his first defense team because he
insisted they use their media time to argue that he had won
the election in a landslide. Trump is not trying to win just
this trial: he is trying to win control of the Republican
Party and, through it, the country.
Hartmann: The Real Reason the GOP Supports a Lying, Corrupt,
Narcissistic, Failed Real Estate Hustler and Reality TV
(Medium, February 10, 2021)
The Senate Trial: Will support for an unrepentant traitor be
the final straw?
In the last half of the 1700s and early half of the 1800s,
American conservatives promoted and clung to slavery; they
even fought a Civil War to preserve it.
Throughout the second half of the 1800s and into the first
half of the 20th century, American conservatives fought to
keep racial segregation and to stop the rise of labor unions,
all on behalf of the “billionaires” of their era, popularly
called the Robber Barons.
From the 1960s to today, American conservatives have fought to
let modern billionaires and big corporations run our economy
and our political system, further cementing their power over
America‘s working class.
“Lower taxes and deregulation,” racially specific “law and
order,” and “small government” were their singular mantras,
all in service of the uber-rich and giant, monopolistic
Now, with Trump’s impeachment trial, Americas conservatives
have turned their efforts from protecting their rich patrons
to protecting the dynasty of a lying, corrupt, narcissistic,
failed real estate hustler and reality TV star.
Some suggest that the GOP “has lost their soul,” but
conservatives in America, having called themselves by various
political names over the years, never really had a soul.
Hartmann: If The Senate Trial Doesn’t Blow Up The GOP’s Big
Lie — Democracy Is Doomed.
(Medium, February 9, 2021)
It’s about more than just the impeachment of Trump.
Republicans are arguing today that impeaching Donald Trump
after he has left office is unconstitutional and makes no
sense…because he’s left office. This just proves that they’re
operating in the interest of politics rather than the United
States, and a couple of simple data points blow their argument
all to hell.
First, Donald Trump was in office when he was impeached, and
the House tried to send the impeachment to the Senate for
trial while Trump was still president. Mitch McConnell refused
to accept the referral then, saying he wouldn’t hold the trial
until the day after Trump left office. Now McConnell is saying
that because Trump has left office the trial shouldn’t happen
at all, a situation himself himself set up!
That is such a clear demonstration of bad faith, of cynical
manipulation, of politicians unwilling to do what’s best for
our nation, that it’s laughable…and tragic. That the
Republicans in the Senate are even making such an argument
should shock Americans. It definitely demonstrates that most
Republicans in the Senate would rather throw in with a fascist
cult leader than with the bedrock principles of the
Constitution and the needs of the American people, who were
largely ignored while almost a half-million of us died
unnecessarily in a pandemic that Donald Trump out of laziness,
stupidity or malice totally botched.
And impeachment is about more than just removal from office:
it’s about justice, accountability and deterrence of future
criminality or treason in the White House.
stirs emotions on second Trump trial's first day.
(1-min. video; The Hill, February 9, 2021)
House Democrats on Tuesday launched their impeachment case
against former President Trump with a stirring video
montage of violence and mayhem at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a
highly charged opening salvo, stripped of all subtlety, that
at once implicated the former president in the deadly attack
and heightened the pressure on Republicans to convict him. The
13-minute video, introduced by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the
lead impeachment manager, featured a sampling of Trump’s fiery
rhetoric leading up to the deadly siege, mashed up with scenes
of mob violence in and around the Capitol building in the
research finds 1 out of 5 deaths around the world were
caused by fossil fuels in 2018.
(The Hill, February 9,
A study looks at the relationship between pollution exposure
and human health outcomes.
killer': fossil fuels caused 8.7m deaths globally in 2018.
(The Guardian, February 9, 2021)
Air pollution from power plants, vehicles and other sources
accounted for one in five of all deaths that year, more
detailed analysis reveals. Countries with the most prodigious
consumption of fossil fuels to power factories, homes and
vehicles are suffering the highest death tolls, with the study
finding more than one in 10 deaths in both the US and Europe
were caused by the resulting pollution, along with nearly a
third of deaths in eastern Asia, which includes China. Death
rates in South America and Africa were significantly lower.
team rejects lab origin of coronavirus, focuses on animals,
(Ars Technica, February 9, 2021)
Meanwhile, China still clings to possibility the virus
originated in another country.
Scores a Public Relations Win After First W.H.O. Mission to
Wuhan to Study the Origins of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
(New York Times, February 9, 2021)
Experts with the global health agency endorsed critical parts
of Beijing’s narrative, even some parts that independent
The team did not report major breakthroughs but said it had
found important clues. The virus was circulating in Wuhan
several weeks before it appeared at the Huanan Seafood
Wholesale Market, where some of the earliest clusters were
initially reported, the experts said. It most likely emerged
in bats and spread to humans through another small mammal,
though the experts said they have not been able to identify
it comes to their own pandemic precautions, state
legislatures in the U.S. are all over the map.
Times, February 8, 2021)
Nearly a year into the coronavirus crisis, with no national
standard for legislating during a pandemic, lawmakers in state
capitals around the country are grappling with how to carry
out a new season of sessions. A partisan pattern has emerged,
but there remains a patchwork of shifting, inconsistent rules
about where to meet, how the public can take part, and what to
do about masks.
In at least 28 states, masks are required on the floors of
both legislative chambers, according to a New York Times
survey of legislatures in every state; 17 of the 28 states are
controlled by Democrats. Legislatures in at least 18 states,
including 15 that are Republican-controlled, do not require
masks on the floor in at least one chamber. In the three state
legislatures where party control is divided, one is requiring
masks and two are not.
Aurora 7 laptop has seven times the average number of
(4-min. video; The Verge, February 8, 2021)
Behold, a multitasker’s dream device.
[And the least portable portable in many years.]
The FBI Hack Into Private Signal Messages On A Locked
iPhone?Evidence Indicates Yes.
(Forbes, February 8,
The evidence indicates not only that Signal had been decrypted
on the phone, but that the extraction was done in “partial
AFU.” That latter acronym stands for “after first unlock” and
describes an iPhone in a certain state: an iPhone that is
locked but that has been unlocked once and not turned off. An
iPhone in this state is more susceptible to having data inside
extracted because encryption keys are stored in memory. Any
hackers or hacking devices with the right iPhone
vulnerabilities could then piece together keys and start
unlocking private data inside the device.
(Aeon, February 8, 2021)
A grand research project created our origin myth that early
human societies were all egalitarian, mobile and small-scale.
‘Background Noise’ May Hold Clues to Persistent Mysteries.
(Quanta, February 8, 2021)
By digging out signals hidden within the brain’s electrical
chatter, scientists are getting new insights into sleep,
aging, and more.
Owl Sunday V
(The Atlantic, February 7, 2021)
A special Sunday event: our fifth annual photographic essay
celebrating these magnificent birds of prey. If you have some
time today before the big game (or are skipping the event
entirely), I invite you to take a look; as always, it was a
hoot to put this together.
(Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and
previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.)
First Steps Toward a Quantum Brain: An Intelligent Material
That Learns by Physically Changing Itself
February 6, 2021)
An intelligent material that learns by physically changing
itself, similar to how the human brain works, could be the
foundation of a completely new generation of computers.
Radboud physicists working toward this so-called “quantum
brain” have made an important step. They have demonstrated
that they can pattern and interconnect a network of single
atoms, and mimic the autonomous behavior of neurons and
synapses in a brain.
Navy Has Patents on Tech It Says Will ‘Engineer the Fabric
(Vice, February 5, 2021)
The U.S. Navy’s “UFO patents” sound like they’ve been ripped
from a science fiction novel.
TESS Catch Eruptions from an Active Galaxy.
1-min. videos; SciTechDaily, February 5, 2021)
Using data from facilities including NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift
Observatory and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS),
scientists have studied 20 instances and counting of regular
outbursts of an event called ASASSN-14ko.
Coronavirus Is a Master of Mixing Its Genome, Worrying
(New York Times, February 5, 2021)
New studies underscore how coronaviruses frequently mix their
genetic components — which could contribute to the rise of
Taylor Greene isn’t here to legislate. She’s here to
(Washington Post, February 5, 2021)
The QAnon movement got to Congress. It has no idea what to do
News cancels Lou Dobbs’ show; pro-Trump host not expected to
be back on air.
(Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2021)
Fox News Media has canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” the program
hosted by television’s staunchest supporter of Donald Trump
and of his assertions of voter fraud in the 2020 election, The
Times has learned. Dobbs’ program, which airs twice nightly at
5 and 7 p.m. Eastern on the Fox Business Network, will have
its final airing tonight, and without his presence. Starting
next week, the program will be called “Fox Business Tonight,”
with rotating substitute hosts Jackie DeAngelis and David
Asman, who filled in for Dobbs on Friday.
The cancellation comes a day after voting software company
Smartmatic filed a $2.7-billion defamation suit against Fox
News and three of its hosts — Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and
Jeanine Pirro. The company claims the hosts perpetuated lies
and disinformation about Smartmatic’s role in the election,
damaging its business and reputation.
Fox News said it stands by its 2020 election coverage and will
“defend this meritless lawsuit in court."
Stormed the Capitol. Their Apps Tracked Them.
Times, February 5, 2021)
Times Opinion was able to identify individuals from a trove of
leaked smartphone location data. The data we were given
included about 100,000 location pings for thousands of
smartphones, revealing around 130 devices inside the Capitol
exactly when Trump supporters were storming the building.
The data presented here is a bird’s-eye view of an event that
posed a clear and grave threat to our democracy. But it tells
a second story as well: One of a broken, surreptitious
industry in desperate need of regulation, and of a tacit
agreement we’ve entered into that threatens our individual
privacy. None of this data should ever have been collected.
at the Ellipse: A Study in Fascist Propaganda
video; Just Security, February 4, 2021)
On January 6, Trump supporters gathered at a rally at
Washington DC’s Ellipse Park, regaled by various figures from
Trump world, including Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani.
Directly following Giuliani’s speech, the organizers played a
video. To a scholar of fascist propaganda, well-versed in the
history of the National Socialist’s pioneering use of videos
in political propaganda, it was clear, watching it, what
dangers it portended. In it, we see themes and tactics that
history warns pose a violent threat to liberal democracy.
Given the aims of fascist propaganda – to incite and mobilize
– the events that followed were predictable.
Increasingly central to Trumpism is the QAnon conspiracy
theory, which, as many commentators have now pointed out,
closely resembles Nazi anti-Semitic myths. QAnon is just the
most obvious manifestation of the increasing parallels between
Trumpism and Hitler’s framework itself. Indeed, several
contemporary fascist and white supremacist movements find
similar roots in the framework Hitler developed, even if they
did not culminate in such extreme actions as the Nazis.
The Intro to Smartmatic's Lawsuit Against Fox News Reads
Like a Riveting Crime Novel.
(Daily Kos, February 4,
The voting technology company Smartmatic has now filed a
lawsuit against the proponents of Trump's election fraud
fictions. They include Fox News, Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo,
Jeanine Pirro, and Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney
Powell. The introduction to the lawsuit reads like a
captivating tale of political intrigue and depravity that
rivals any great work of literature.
[Pertinent factoid: In February 2016, Trump made this (subsequently
) promise: If elected president, Trump
told supporters in Fort Worth, Texas
, he would "open up
our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and
horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of
Coffee, Green Tea Lowers Risk of Death for Heart Attack and
(SciTechDaily, February 4, 2021)
Stroke survivors who drank seven or more cups of green tea
each day lowered their risks of multiple causes of death by
Drinking one cup of coffee each day lowered the risks of death
for heart attack survivors and for those without a history of
stroke or heart attack.
warns against Super Bowl parties to avoid virus spread.
(Associated Press, February 3, 2021)
The nation’s top infectious disease expert doesn’t want
Sunday's Super Bowl to turn into a super spreader. Dr. Anthony
Fauci, says when it comes to Super Bowl parties during the
pandemic, people should “just lay low and cool it.” He said
during TV interviews Wednesday that now isn’t the time to
invite people over for watch parties, because of the
possibility that they’re infected with the coronavirus and
could sicken others.
[As happened following Thanksgiving and Christmas. At least
half of us appear to be below average in intelligence - and
proud of it.]
Fastener With Microscopic Mushroom Shapes Could Be an
Improved Version of Velcro.
(SciTechDaily, February 3,
Probabilistic fasteners work because they are designed with a
tiny pattern on one surface that interlocks with features on
the other surface. Currently available fasteners, like Velcro
and 3M, are called hook and loop fasteners. That design
requires harder, stiff material, which is what causes the loud
ripping sound when they are peeled off and why they can damage
delicate surfaces, such as fabrics, when attached to them.
A Velcro-like fastener with a microscopic design that looks
like tiny mushrooms could mean advances for everyday consumers
and scientific fields like robotics. Researchers from
Wageningen University in the Netherlands show how the design
can use softer materials and still be strong enough to work.
at the Edge of the Periodic Table: First Ever Measurements
of Einsteinium Reveals Unexpected Properties.
(SciTechDaily, February 3, 2021)
Since element 99 — einsteinium — was discovered in 1952 at the
Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
(Berkeley Lab) from the debris of the first hydrogen bomb,
scientists have performed very few experiments with it because
it is so hard to create and is exceptionally radioactive. A
team of Berkeley Lab chemists has overcome these obstacles to
report the first study characterizing some of its properties,
opening the door to a better understanding of the remaining
transuranic elements of the actinide series. With less than
250 nanograms of the element, the team measured the first-ever
einsteinium bond distance, a basic property of an element’s
interactions with other atoms and molecules. The researchers
also discovered some physical chemistry behavior that was
different from what would be expected from the actinide
series, which are the elements on the bottom row of the
Once scientists have this picture of the atomic arrangement of
a molecule that incorporates einsteinium, they can try to find
interesting chemical properties and improve understanding of
periodic trends withing the whole actinide series. And in that
series are elements or isotopes that are useful for nuclear
power production or radiopharmaceuticals.
Tantalizingly, this research also offers the possibility of
exploring what is beyond the edge of the periodic table, and
possibly discovering a new element - similar to the latest
elements that were discovered in the past 10 years, like
tennessine, which used a berkelium target. If you were to be
able to isolate enough pure einsteinium to make a target, you
could start looking for other elements and get closer to the
(theorized) island of stability, where nuclear physicists have
predicted isotopes may have half-lives of minutes or even
days, instead of the microsecond or less half-lives that are
common in the superheavy elements.
origins of the filibuster—and how it came to exasperate the
(National Geographic, February 2, 2021)
The concept of making marathon speeches to block legislation
has been around since ancient Rome. But U.S. lawmakers have
made this tactic notorious—and created a new form of "stealth"
Appropriately, its name comes from a Dutch word for
“pirate”—because the filibuster is, in essence, a hijacking of
debate in the U.S. Senate. It’s also one of the most
controversial traditions in American politics.
Timeline Of Trump Tweets And Calls On January 6th.
(Daily Kos, February 2, 2021)
I originally prepared this timeline in response to someone who
claimed Trump ‘immediately” condemned the violence on January
6th. That’s false. Throughout the riot, and even into the
night, Trump endorsed it, egged it on and, even as it ended,
justified it. All while he and his attorney continued to lobby
Senators to further delay the count of the electoral college
beyond what the riot had accomplished.
Research Shows Sea Level Will Rise Faster Than Previously
(SciTechDaily, February 2, 2021)
There are two main elements to observe when assessing sea
level rise. One is the loss of the ice on land, e.g., melting
mountain glaciers and inland ice sheets on Greenland and
Antarctica, and the other is that the sea will expand as it
gets warmer. The more its temperature increases, the faster
the sea will rise.
Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of
Copenhagen have constructed a new method of quantifying just
how fast the sea will react to warming. The level of the sea
is monitored meticulously, and we can compare the
responsiveness in models with historical data. The comparison
shows that former predictions of sea level have been too
conservative, so the sea will likely rise more and faster than
Humidity & Wind Predict Second Wave of COVID-19
(SciTechDaily, February 2, 2021)
Though face masks, travel restrictions, and social distancing
guidelines help slow the number of new infections in the short
term, the lack of climate effects incorporated into
epidemiological models presents a glaring hole that can cause
long-term effects. In Physics of Fluids, from AIP Publishing,
Talib Dbouk and Dimitris Drikakis, from the University of
Nicosia in Cyprus, discuss the impacts of these parameters.
Typical models for predicting the behavior of an epidemic
contain only two basic parameters, transmission rate and
recovery rate. These rates tend to be treated as constants,
but Dbouk and Drikakis said this is not actually the case.
Temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed all play a
significant role, so the researchers aimed to modify typical
models to account for these climate conditions. They call
their new weather-dependent variable the Airborne Infection
When they applied the AIR index to models of Paris, New York
City, and Rio de Janeiro, they found it accurately predicted
the timing of the second outbreak in each city, suggesting two
outbreaks per year is a natural, weather-dependent phenomenon.
Further, the behavior of the virus in Rio de Janeiro was
markedly different from the behavior of the virus in Paris and
New York, due to seasonal variations in the northern and
southern hemispheres, consistent with real data.
The authors emphasize the importance of accounting for these
seasonal variations when designing safety measures.
Krugman: GOP says COVID-19 bill is too big.
Times, February 2, 2021)
The Republican counteroffer to Joe Biden’s proposed rescue
package is grotesquely inadequate. While the Republican
offering is criminally underpowered, however, is it possible
that Biden’s plan overdoes it? Could the extensive aid to
families, businesses, and state and local governments end up
being more than needed?
Yes, it could, although we don’t know that for sure; it
depends on how long the pandemic lasts, and how quickly the
economy rebounds once we get herd immunity. Maybe we’re
overdoing it, maybe not. While the rescue plan might
overshoot, there’s not much harm if it does. On the other
hand, an inadequate plan would lead to vast, unnecessary
suffering. So we actually want the plan to be bigger than we
expect we’ll need, just in case.
Second COVID-19 Shot Is a Rude Reawakening for Immune Cells.
(The Atlantic, February 2, 2021)
Side effects are a natural part of the vaccination process,
just a sign that protection is kicking in as it should. Not
everyone will experience them. But the two COVID-19 vaccines
cleared for emergency use in the United States, made by
Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, already have reputations for
raising the hackles of the immune system: In both companies’
clinical trials, at least a third of the volunteers ended up
with symptoms such as headaches and fatigue; fevers were less
Dose No. 2 is more likely to pack a punch—in large part
because the effects of the second shot build iteratively on
Democrats take first step toward big COVID-19 bill.
Hill, February 2, 2021)
Senate Democrats took a first step on Tuesday toward passing a
coronavirus relief bill — with or without GOP support. The
Senate voted 50-49 to proceed to a budget resolution that
greenlights passing a separate coronavirus relief bill through
reconciliation, avoiding a 60-vote legislative filibuster.
The House is expected to pass its budget resolution on
Wednesday. The Senate will now need to go through tens of
hours of debate and a marathon session known as a vote-a-rama,
before they can hold a final vote on the budget resolution
has prompted new cooperation among rival hospitals.
(Boston Globe, February 2, 2021)
In a state with a famously competitive health care market, the
unrelenting coronavirus pandemic has compelled hospitals
across Massachusetts to do something they’ve never had to do
at this scale: work together to get through a crisis that
threatened to overwhelm them. The collaboration is largely
about managing the flow of patients, but it also includes
sharing advice about treatments and vaccinations.
Chinese hackers used SolarWinds bug to spy on U.S. payroll
(2-min. video; Reuters, February 2, 2021)
Suspected Chinese hackers exploited a flaw in software made by
SolarWinds Corp to help break into U.S. government computers
last year, five people familiar with the matter told Reuters,
marking a new twist in a sprawling cybersecurity breach that
U.S. lawmakers have labeled a national security emergency.
The software flaw exploited by the suspected Chinese group is
separate from the one the United States has accused Russian
government operatives of using to compromise up to 18,000
SolarWinds customers, including sensitive federal agencies, by
hijacking the company’s Orion network monitoring software.
Security researchers have previously said a second group of
hackers was abusing SolarWinds’ software at the same time as
the alleged Russian hack, but the suspected connection to
China and ensuing U.S. government breach have not been
The NFC is responsible for handling the payroll of multiple
government agencies, including several involved in national
security, such as the FBI, State Department, Homeland Security
Department and Treasury Department. Records held by the NFC
include federal employee social security numbers, phone
numbers and personal email addresses as well as banking
information. On its website, the NFC says it “services more
than 160 diverse agencies, providing payroll services to more
than 600,000 Federal employees.”
critic Alexei Navalny jailed.
(Politico, February 2,
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was on Tuesday
sentenced to more than two-and-a-half years in prison on
charges that he violated probation while he was recuperating
in Germany after being poisoned. Navalny was arrested on
January 17 upon his return from Germany where he was treated
after the attack with a nerve agent, which he has blamed on
There was a heavy riot police presence outside the Moscow City
Court, and more than 250 people who had come to support the
Kremlin critic were detained, according to data from the OVD
police monitoring website.
"Why are you lying and misleading the court?", Navalny asked
in the courtroom.
Mechanics of the Evolution of the Universe: The Secrets of
3,000 Galaxies Laid Bare
(4-min. video: SciTechDaily,
February 2, 2021)
The complex mechanics determining how galaxies spin, grow,
cluster and die have been revealed following the release of
all the data gathered during a massive seven-year
Australian-led astronomy research project. The project used
bundles of optical fibers to capture and analyze bands of
colors, or spectra, at multiple points in each galaxy. The
results allowed astronomers from around the world to explore
how these galaxies interacted with each other, and how they
grew, sped up, or slowed down over time.
Scientists Have Figured Out What Caused Saturn’s Tilt.
(SciTechDaily, February 2, 2021)
Rather like David versus Goliath, it appears that Saturn’s
tilt may in fact be caused by its moons. Recent observations
have shown that Titan and the other moons are gradually moving
away from Saturn much faster than astronomers had previously
estimated. By incorporating this increased migration rate into
their calculations, the researchers concluded that this
process affects the inclination of Saturn’s rotation axis: as
its satellites move further away, the planet tilts more and
Is the Scientific Method and How Did It Shape Science?
(Discover, February 2, 2021)
How careful observation, strict reasoning and clever
hypotheses guided the great human endeavor of science.
Around the turn of the 6th century B.C., beside the Aegean Sea
in the city of Miletus, the first Greek philosopher concluded
that “all is water.” His name was Thales. His pupil,
Anaximander, disagreed — he believed the underlying substance
of the universe was “indefinite stuff.” His own student,
Anaximenes, thought it was air.
These ideas seem fantastic, but in them the scientific mind is
taking root. They’re arguably the first competing hypotheses,
marking “a shift away from mythological explanations,” says
Brian Hepburn, a philosopher of science at Wichita State
University. Setting aside gods and supernatural forces, these
philosophers instead base their understanding of nature on
observation. In other words, they employ a rudimentary form of
what we now call scientific method.
for all its success, and all the legend surrounding it, this
blueprint for knowledge-gathering isn’t as simple as it
appears in textbooks. For 500 years scientists and
philosophers have argued over how it ought to work, and these
days many question whether it even makes sense to search for
the scientific method — history suggests there are many.ence,
science? The details vary tremendously across time, space and
field of study. For Aristotle, its foundation was passive
observation of nature. In the modern age, it often involves
experimentation, too. Besides these, according to the Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the most common elements are
“inductive and deductive reasoning, and the formation and
testing of hypotheses and theories.”
Abrading Tool Unearthed in Israel.
The 357,000-year-old abrader found in the Lower Paleolithic
layers of Tabun Cave in Israel is the earliest documented
artifact of its kind.
army takes power in coup as Aung San Suu Kyi detained.
(The Guardian, February 1, 2021)
Military has previously threatened to ‘take action’ over
alleged fraud in a November election.
Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Party Now.
(New York Times,
February 1, 2021)
She embarrasses some Republicans, but she’s no outlier.
Steve King, the Republican former congressman from Iowa, must
feel robbed. Two years ago, he was stripped of all his
committee assignments after asking, in an interview with The
New York Times, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western
civilization — how did that language become offensive?” The
Republican Party threw its weight behind King’s primary
challenger, and he was whisked off the national stage, no
longer to embarrass colleagues who prefer that racist demagogy
be performed with enough finesse to allow for plausible
Since then, standards have changed. Representative Marjorie
Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, is every bit as bigoted
as King, and 10 times as unhinged. By now, you’ve surely heard
her theory that California wildfires might have been caused by
a space laser controlled by Jewish bankers. That wasn’t
Greene’s first foray into anti-Semitism; in 2018 she shared a
notorious white nationalist video in which a Holocaust denier
claimed that “Zionist supremacists have schemed to promote
immigration and miscegenation.”
Recently, Greene met with a far-right British commentator,
Katie Hopkins, who has described migrants as “cockroaches” and
said she doesn’t care if they die. Greene told her, “I would
love to trade you for some of our white people here that have
no appreciation for our country.” She described the results of
the 2018 midterms as “an Islamic invasion of our government.”
Greene endorsed calls for the execution of prominent Democrats
and agreed with Facebook posts claiming that the Parkland and
Sandy Hook school shootings were hoaxes. She harassed one of
the Parkland massacre’s young survivors.
As it happens, this week House Republicans are seeking to
punish a prominent woman in their ranks — but it’s not Greene.
A big chunk of the House Republican caucus is reportedly
trying to oust Liz Cheney of Wyoming from leadership because
she voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6
On Monday Politico reported that if Republicans don’t strip
Greene of committee assignments, Democrats will try to do it,
bringing the issue to the House floor. Republican members will
have the chance to distance themselves from her. If they
don’t, it will be because they know she belongs.
says Taylor Greene's embrace of conspiracy theories a
'cancer' to GOP, country.
(The Hill, February 1, 2021)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday
blasted Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s embrace of
“loony lies and conspiracy theories” as a “cancer for the
Republican Party.” “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no
airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school
shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK
Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” McConnell said.
“This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American
families or the robust debates on substance that can
strengthen our party.”
Greene ultimatum, Democrats force Republicans to decide
whether they want to be the QAnon party.
February 1, 2021)
The new QAnon extremist in the House, Georgia Republican Rep.
Majorie Taylor Greene, wore out her welcome with fellow
members in about a week's time. Now House leadership is ready
to step in where Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has failed,
doing something to keep this dangerous member constrained.
Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is filing a
resolution to remove Greene from her committee assignments
because of her "repulsive" comments and behavior. "If
Republicans won't police their own, the House must step in,"
she told reporters Monday.
That's the first step of an ultimatum Majority Leader Steny
Hoyer is giving McCarthy. If he doesn't move to strip her of
her committee assignments within 72 hours, the resolution
comes to the floor and every single Republican will have to
vote on it, showing whether they're standing with QAnon or
not. So far, McCarthy has only said he'll have a
"conversation" with her, and she's vowed to "never apologize."
Bush officials leave GOP over failure to disown Trump.
(The Hill, February 1, 2021)
Dozens of members of former President George W. Bush's
administration are reportedly planning to leave the Republican
Party following the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol,
citing the party's ongoing embrace of former President Trump.
Sources told Reuters that as many as 60 former officials would
leave the party in the coming days, with at least one also
citing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-Ga.) promotion of
conspiracy theories as a reason for their exit.
tosses Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule
. (The Hill,
February 1, 2021)
A federal court has vacated the Trump administration's "secret
science" Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule, which
critics had said would undermine the use of public health
studies in agency rulemaking. The decision comes after the
Biden administration asked the court to throw out the rule
restricting the EPA’s use of studies that don’t make their
underlying data publicly available.
Trump administration officials had billed it as a transparency
measure and a way to combat "secret science." Opponents warned
that it could hamstring the use of major health studies that
keep their data under wraps for legitimate reasons including
An EPA spokesperson said in an email that the agency was
"pleased" with the decision to vacate the rule. "EPA is
committed to making evidence-based decisions and developing
policies and programs that are guided by the best science,"
the spokesperson said.
Environmentalist groups that had sued over the rule also
celebrated the court order.
exhibiting signs of integrity, Trump's impeachment lawyers
simply had to go.
(Daily Kos, February 1, 2021)
Donald Trump repels integrity of any kind. Anyone who exhibits
even a smidge of it must be immediately stricken from his
presence, which is exactly what happened this weekend with
Trump's top impeachment lawyers.
Trump has been insisting that his impeachment defense center
around the big lie that he won the election and it was stolen
from him. Karl "Butch" Bowers Jr. and four other lawyers on
Trump's defense team abruptly quit over the weekend because
they refused to mount his defense on a gigantic lie, according
to The Washington Post. Instead, they had pushed to make the
case that trying a president who was no longer in office was
unconstitutional, reinforcing an argument that most mainstream
legal scholars reject but that was nonetheless embraced last
week by the 45 GOP senators who voted against proceeding with
Surprise Discovery: Intracluster Light May Provide a New Way
to Measure Dark Matter.
(SciTechDaily, February 1, 2021)
A combination of observational data and sophisticated computer
simulations have yielded advances in a field of astrophysics
that has languished for half a century. The Dark Energy
Survey, which is hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, has published a burst
of new results on what’s called intracluster light, or ICL, a
faint type of light found inside galaxy clusters. The first
burst of new, precision ICL measurements appeared in a paper
published in The Astrophysical Journal in April 2019. Another
appeared more recently in Monthly Notices of the Royal
Astronomical Society. In a surprise finding of the latter, DES
physicists discovered new evidence that ICL might provide a
new way to measure a mysterious substance called dark matter.
The source of ICL appears to be rogue stars, those not
gravitationally bound to any galaxy. The ICL has long been
suspected of possibly being a significant component of
clusters of galaxies, but its faintness makes it difficult to
measure. No one knows how much there is or to what extent it
has spread through galaxy clusters. “Observationally we
confirmed that intracluster light is a pretty good radial
tracer of dark matter. That means that where intracluster
light is relatively bright, the dark matter is relatively
dense,” said Fermilab scientist Yuanyuan Zhang, who led both
studies. “Just measuring the ICL itself is pretty exciting.
The dark matter part is a bonus.”
Transparency; Real Change How?
(Internet Health Report,
January 31, 2021)
Internet Health Report
from Mozilla.org is worth
parliament to vote on pursuing 'Unexplained Wealth Order'
into how Donald Trump financed his golf resorts in the
(Daily Mail, January 31, 2021)
Scotland's government could investigate Donald Trump's
Scottish assets . MSPs are set to vote on whether to pursue an
Unexplained Wealth Order.
reverses Trump last-minute attempt to freeze $27.4 billion
(The Hill, January 31, 2021)
Trump had moved, with less than a week left in his term, to
freeze the billions in federal funding using a budget maneuver
called rescission. The 73 budget reductions that Trump had
called for were spread across almost every Cabinet-level
agency and mostly lined up with his proposed cuts to domestic
program spending in the 2021 federal budget that were rejected
“I am withdrawing 73 proposed rescissions previously
transmitted to the Congress,” Biden said in the letter.
Happening! 'Proud Boys' And 'Oath Keepers' Get Federal
Charges UPGRADED To... CONSPIRACY!!
(Daily Kos, January
It’s not easy being an FBI Agent lately, sorting through
mountains of evidence and sifting through tens of thousands of
tips; but our intrepid federal officers remain undaunted in
bringing those responsible for attacking our democracy to
biggest advocate for election fraud refuses audit of her own
election after major error.
(Daily Dos, January 30,
Kelli Ward was challenged for state chair of the Arizona
Republican Party by numerous people. With Trump’s backing,
Ward won—barely—with just 42 votes. However, doubts began to
emerge when one of the announced winners for another race, a
committee member from the 8th Congressional District, was
falsely told that she had lost her race. Kelli Ward
attributed it to “human error.”
The four challengers for the chair asked Ward for an audit of
the ballots. Ward should have been for that, since those were
very similar words she used when demanding an audit of
Arizona’s presidential results. Yet in a video response to all
the challengers and doubters who wanted an audit of her race
for chair, Kelli Ward told them there would be no such thing,
and they could go pound salt: "These are the final, final
results of that election!!"
This was done without a hint of irony. Ward spent months
alleging widespread voter fraud with no evidence, and even
asked if people were willing to die to overthrow the election.
But an audit for her own race? Get outta here.
Trey Terry is the treasurer of the GOP in the legislative
district chaired by Sandra Dowling; she’s the one who was
originally declared the winner in her race, then told she
lost. Terry was livid and wasn’t having it: "Multiple flagrant
violations of bylaws... meeting rules not being followed… Vote
counting errors… Vote switching as well?"
This is one state where the GOP really needs their A-game, but
they brought Q instead. Expect Ward to watch her party lose
all of the important races in 2022, and instantly declare
fraud with no evidence.
ready to fight’: FBI probe of U.S. Capitol riot finds
evidence detailing coordination of an assault.
video; Washington Post, January 30, 2021)
FBI agents around the country are working to unravel the
various motives, relationships, goals and actions of the
hundreds of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on
Jan. 6. Some inside the bureau have described the Capitol riot
investigation as their biggest case since the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks, and a top priority of the agents’ work is to
determine the extent to which that violence and chaos was
preplanned and coordinated.
Investigators caution there is an important legal distinction
between gathering like-minded people for a political rally —
which is protected by the First Amendment — and organizing an
armed assault on the seat of American government. The task now
is to distinguish which people belong in each category, and
who played key roles in committing or coordinating the
Defense Secretary Disarmed D.C. National Guard Before
(National Memo, January 30, 2021)
The full memo shows that the D.C. Guard did receive a request
from D.C. government for guard presence during the Jan. 6
event. Miller responds promptly to go ahead, so long as the
soldiers are given no weapons, no body armor, and no helmets.
They can bring agents like pepper spray or flashbangs. They
can't share any gear with Capitol Police or Metro D.C. Police.
They can't … really do much of anything.
When initial reports indicate that the handful of National
Guard forces that were deployed to D.C. on that day were
dedicated to directing traffic several blocks away from the
area of the Trump rally, it may simply be because that's the
only thing they could find for them to do considering the
restrictions that were given. It's clear that these
restrictions would have absolutely prevented any guard forces
from trying to protect any location.
cam video shows violence on Jan. 6 as woman trampled by
insurgents eager to attack police.
(Daily Kos, January
In testimony before the House this week, Capitol Police and
D.C. National Guard officials acknowledged that by Jan. 4 they
understood that "… the January 6th event would not be like any
of the previous protests held in 2020. We knew that militia
groups and white supremacist organizations would be attending.
We also knew that some of these participants were intending to
bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that
there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress
was the target."
On that same day, former acting Defense Secretary Christopher
Miller issued a memo to the secretary of the Army placing some
extremely unusual limits on National Guard forces for that
event. It’s not a to-do list. It’s a list of thou shalt nots.
A long list. A list that says guard forces can’t arrest any of
the pro-Trump protesters, or search them, or even touch them.
And that’s just for starters.
Pressure on Trump Increases With Judge’s Order in Fraud
(New York Times, January 29, 2021)
The order, answering a demand for documents by New York’s
attorney general, rejected a bid to shield the records with
is at 111 Oregon Road, Mt. Kisko NY,
adjacent to the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Nature Preserve
overlooking Byram Lake Reservoir.]
those mourning the fragility of American democracy get wrong
(The Conversation, January 29, 2021)
Everyone's saying it: 'Democracy is fragile' in the United
States. But a political science scholar says that has always
been the case.
Bump: How to rig an America
(Washington Post, January
If you live in a heavily Republican area and don’t personally
know anyone supporting Biden, it’s easy to see why you might
be skeptical of the idea that Biden won the election,
including the popular vote by some 7 million votes. In the
states that swung from Trump to Biden last year, a third of
voters live in counties Trump or Biden won by at least 30
points. In Georgia, 33 percent of voters live in counties
where Trump won by that margin.
Even if you aren’t skeptical of the idea that Biden won by
that margin, though, it’s easy to see why you might be wary of
the election results. The federal government is now entirely
under the control of Democratic politicians, most of whom live
in states that voted for Biden, such as California and New
York. (Most Trump voters also live in states Biden won, but
that’s neither here nor there.) If you’re a Republican in a
heavily Republican area in a Republican-led state, accepting
that Democrats won unified control of the government may be
more disconcerting than thinking they didn’t. After all, it
suggests a significant political shift away from what you
If you are a Republican elected official or political actor,
the concern is heightened. Your party has been at a
disadvantage nationally for some time, with the number of
Americans who identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning
independents hovering at or near 50 percent for a while,
according to Gallup polling. Demographic trends don’t bode
well, with younger Americans leaning more heavily Democratic
than older Americans — and with younger Americans inevitably
constituting more of the electorate as time progresses.
This sets up a tricky moment. Republican leaders see how the
party’s power is poised to fade — looking no further than
those shifts that flipped Arizona and Georgia in last year’s
elections. (And, for Georgia, this year’s: Hard as it may be
to believe, its Senate runoff contests were this month.) The
Republican base, meanwhile, is skeptical that its power will
fade, particularly when the former president of the United
States is out there insisting that it hasn’t. It’s a moment in
which there is both incentive to game the system and support
for doing so.
So Republicans are trying to game the system — to game a
system that’s already often rigged to their advantage.
up incriminating information about Trump’s Russian
(Washington Post, January 29, 2021)
As the Trump administration came to a spectacular end, Unger
must have felt the need to update his book continually. Day by
day, Trump took actions that added to Unger’s thesis. In the
closing weeks of his term, Trump sought to divert attention
from a damaging Russian cyberhack, refused to concede Russian
President Vladimir Putin’s poisoning of his leading political
challenger and brazenly pardoned cronies who refused to
testify in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. (Not to mention
allegedly inciting the mob that violently overtook the
Unger outlines Trump’s decades-long relationships with Russian
criminals and his willingness to abet the laundering of dirty
money flowing from Moscow, and explains why Russian
intelligence would find him an easy mark. The web of Trump’s
damning connections and his actions as president suggest some
sort of affinity for Putin.
According to Unger, there are indications that Trump was used
as a conduit for Soviet covert messaging campaigns in the late
1980s. He made numerous visits to Russia where he was
certainly watched, feted and cultivated. At the time, he
publicly expressed thoughts that were far outside of
mainstream Western opinion. For example, he complained that
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was destroying the Soviet
Union — suggesting perhaps relations with KGB elements that
shared such a view. Unger cites former KGB officer Yuri
Shvets, who served in Washington at the time, saying of Trump:
“The guy is not a complicated cookie, his most important
characteristics being low intellect coupled with hyperinflated
vanity. This combination makes him a dream for an experienced
By compiling decades of Trump’s seedy ties, disturbing and
consistent patterns of behavior, and unexplained contacts with
Russian officials and criminals, Unger makes a strong case
that Trump is probably a compromised trusted contact of
perfect target’: Russia cultivated Trump as asset for 40
years. – ex-KGB spy
(The Guardian, January 29, 2021)
The KGB ‘played the game as if they were immensely impressed
by his personality’, Yuri Shvets, a key source for a new book,
tells the Guardian.
Zuboff: The Coup We Are Not Talking About
Times, January 29, 2021)
We can have democracy, or we can have a surveillance society,
but we cannot have both.
Dr. Zuboff, a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School,
is the author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.”
bombs found near Capitol on Jan. 6 are believed to have been
placed the night before.
(1-min. video; Washington Post,
January 29, 2021)
The explosive devices, which were placed blocks from one
another at the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic
national committees, have been largely overshadowed by the
violent insurrection at the Capitol. But finding the person
suspected of planting both bombs remains a priority for
federal authorities, who last week boosted the reward for tips
leading to the person’s arrest from $50,000 to $75,000.
Giant Planets Orbit Nearby Sun-Like Star.
January 29, 2021)
Astronomers using ESA’s CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite
(CHEOPS) have discovered a fifth planet around the bright,
Sun-like star HD 108236.
Your Robotic Vacuum Sharing Data About You?
Reports, January 29, 2021)
Robotic vacuums are smart little suckers. Most use mechanical
sensors, optical sensors, and advanced software to get the job
done. And most connect to the internet, which puts them in the
same category as video doorbells and webcams, which collect
personal and environmental data to serve the user better.
As part of Consumer Reports' Digital Lab initiative, we
evaluate devices that collect data about consumers, and we
recently tested robotic vacuums. We found that on the whole,
their potential vulnerabilities aren't as worrisome as those
for video doorbells, but that manufacturers could still adopt
more robust security measures. After all, in some cases we're
talking about a bot with a camera connected to the internet
scooting around your house.
delays broadband usage caps as lawmakers threaten rate
(Boston Globe, January 28, 2021)
Broadband provider Comcast is delaying its plan to charge
extra fees for users of its Xfinity Internet service who
exceed a monthly data cap of 1.2 terabytes. Once the plan
kicks in, Xfinity customers whose total monthly uploads and
downloads exceed 1.2 terabytes will be charged an additional
$10 per month for each additional 50 gigabytes of data. The
controversial plan was set to begin this month, though Comcast
offered a grace period so that heavy Internet users would not
have to start paying extra until April. That grace period has
now been extended to August.
crew threatened with arrest for asking QAnon congresswoman a
(Daily Kos, January 28, 2021)
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene continues to distinguish
herself as an opponent of the basic tenets of U.S. democracy
and basic f’ing decency. She’s already spent months pushing
for the 2020 presidential election to be overturned. She’s
done a lot of assassination-friendly social media. She
harassed the teenage survivors of a mass shooting. And on
Wednesday night she had a local television news crew
threatened with arrest for asking a question at a town hall
Ocasio-Cortez reacts to Ted Cruz's tweet on GameStop: 'You
almost had me murdered.'
(ABC News, January 28, 2021)
Ocasio-Cortez said that while she would be happy to work with
Republicans on the issue where there’s "common ground" she
would not work with one who "almost" had her "murdered" amid
the Capitol riots. "In the meantime if you want to help, you
can resign," she wrote.
A Capitol rioter who allegedly tweeted that he wanted to
"assassinate" Ocasio-Cortez is facing five federal charges.
In February 2020, when Ocasio-Cortez criticized former
President Donald Trump's decision to put then-Vice President
Mike Pence in charge of the COVID-19 task force, Cruz
attempted to mock Ocasio-Cortez's own scientific knowledge:
"As you are speaking as the oracle of science, tell us, what
exactly is a Y chromosome?" Ocasio-Cortez then fired back with
some insults of her own, stating that she holds awards from
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory
for accomplishments in microbiology.
The G.O.P. Is in a Doom Loop of Bizarro. But will it doom
the rest of us, too?
(New York Times, January 28, 2021)
Here’s what we know about American politics: The Republican
Party is stuck, probably irreversibly, in a doom loop of
bizarro. If the Trump-incited Capitol insurrection didn’t snap
the party back to sanity — and it didn’t — nothing will.
What isn’t clear yet is who, exactly, will end up facing doom.
Will it be the G.O.P. as a significant political force? Or
will it be America as we know it? Unfortunately, we don’t know
the answer. It depends a lot on how successful Republicans
will be in suppressing votes.
Capitol Insurrection Was as Christian Nationalist as It
(New York Times, January 28, 2021)
Religious resentment has become a potent recruiting tool for
the hard right.
Christian Nationalism includes assumptions of nativism, white
supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity, along with divine
sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as
ethnic and political as it is religious. Understood in this
light, Christian Nationalism contends that America has been
and should always be distinctively ‘Christian’ from top to
bottom — in its self-identity, interpretations of its own
history, sacred symbols, cherished values and public policies
— and it aims to keep it this way.
Obviously the best evidence would be the use of sacred symbols
during the insurrection such as the cross, Christian flag,
Jesus saves sign, etc. But also the language of the prayers
offered by the insurrectionists both outside and within the
Capitol indicates the views of white Americans who obviously
thought Jesus not only wanted them to violently storm the
Capitol in order to take it back from the socialists,
globalists, etc., but also believed God empowered their
efforts, giving them victory.
The evidence reflects a mind-set that clearly merges national
power and divine authority, believing God demands American
leadership be wrested from godless usurpers and entrusted to
true patriots who must be willing to shed blood (their own and
others’) for God and country. Christian Nationalism favors
authoritarian control and what I call “good-guy violence” for
the sake of maintaining a certain social order.
Racist Guy Behind One Of The Most Influential Pro-Trump
Twitter Accounts Was Arrested For Election Interference.
(BuzzFeed News, January 27, 2021)
Douglass Mackey, a white nationalist troll who ran a
Trump-boosting Twitter account as “Ricky Vaughn,” is accused
of using memes to spread misinformation and disenfranchise
voters during the 2016 election. At the time, MIT Media Lab
listed the anonymous personality as one of the top 150
influencers of the 2016 presidential election, placing him
ahead of NBC News, Stephen Colbert, and Newt Gingrich.
Mackey, a 31-year-old from Vermont, was arrested today in West
Palm Beach, Florida. Federal prosecutors allege he conspired
with others to use memes and social media platforms to spread
misinformation aimed at depriving people of their right to
vote during the 2016 presidential election. “With Mackey’s
arrest, we serve notice that those who would subvert the
democratic process in this manner cannot rely on the cloak of
Internet anonymity to evade responsibility for their crimes,”
Seth D. DuCharme, acting US attorney for the Eastern District
of New York, said in a statement.
[So, a U.S. attorney in NY just had a Vermonter arrested close
to where Trump is hiding, for a crime that's five years old?
GOP braces for more retirements after Portman stunner.
(Politico, January 27, 2021)
Republicans' efforts to win back the majority could be
hampered if swing-state incumbents decide not to run again
consider one-week impeachment trial, censure resolution
after GOP signals likely acquittal of Trump.
Post, January 27, 2021)
In the two weeks since the House impeached Trump for
“incitement of insurrection,” Democrats have signaled that
they are likely to rely on an extensive video record of the
events of Jan. 6 but not call witnesses or present revelatory
new evidence, which would probably extend the proceedings for
“Make no mistake, there will be a trial, and the evidence
against the former president will be presented in living color
for the nation and every one of us to see once again,” Senate
Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday.
“We will all watch what happened. We will listen to what
happened, and then we will vote. We will pass judgment as our
solemn duty under the Constitution demands. And in turn, we
will all be judged on how we respond.”
Some Democrats complained that an abbreviated trial would be
shortsighted, ignoring the historical mandate to document what
happened before, during and after the riot. Sen. Angus King
(I-Maine) said he wanted the trial to document how much Trump
personally knew about what the rioters planned and what
actions he took to quell the violence. But others think the
case is clear-cut and that Tuesday’s vote indicated no chance
of conviction, meaning that senators should base their votes
on what they saw with their own eyes.
and quotes: Maya Angelou
(Daily Kos, January 26, 2021)
Friedman: Made in the U.S.A.: Socialism for the Rich.
Capitalism for the Rest.
(New York Times, January 26,
I understand why Democrats are fuming. Donald Trump ran up
budget deficits in his first three years to levels seen in our
history only during major wars and financial crises — thanks
to tax cuts, military spending and little fiscal discipline.
And he did so prepandemic, when the economy was already
expanding and unemployment was low. But now that Joe Biden
wants to spend more on pandemic relief and prevent the economy
from tanking further, many Republicans — on cue — are
rediscovering their deficit hawk wings. What frauds.
We need to do whatever it takes to help the most vulnerable
Americans who have lost jobs, homes or businesses to Covid-19
— and to buttress cities overwhelmed by the virus. So, put me
down for a double dose of generosity.
But, but, but … when this virus clears, we ALL need to have a
talk. There has been so much focus in recent years on the
downsides of rapid globalization and “neoliberal free-market
groupthink” — influencing both Democrats and Republicans —
that we’ve ignored another, more powerful consensus that has
taken hold on both parties: That we are in a new era of
permanently low interest rates, so deficits don’t matter as
long as you can service them, and so the role of government in
developed countries can keep expanding — which it has with
steadily larger bailouts, persistent deficit spending,
mounting government debts and increasingly easy money out of
Central Banks to finance it all.
This new consensus has a name: “Socialism for the rich and
capitalism for the rest,” argues Ruchir Sharma, chief global
strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, author of
“The Ten Rules of Successful Nations” and one of my favorite
contrarian economic thinkers. “Socialism for the rich and
capitalism for the rest” — a variation on a theme popularized
in the 1960s — happens, Sharma explained in a phone interview,
when government intervention does more to stimulate the
financial markets than the real economy. So, America’s richest
10 percent, who own more than 80 percent of U.S. stocks, have
seen their wealth more than triple in 30 years, while the
bottom 50 percent, relying on their day jobs in real markets
to survive, had zero gains. Meanwhile, mediocre productivity
in the real economy has limited opportunity, choice and income
gains for the poor and middle class alike.
The best evidence is the last year: We’re in the middle of a
pandemic that has crushed jobs and small businesses — but the
stock market is soaring. That’s not right. That’s elephants
flying. I always get worried watching elephants fly. It
usually doesn’t end well. And even if we raise taxes on the
rich and direct more relief to the poor, which I favor, when
you keep relying on this much stimulus, argues Sharma, you’re
going to get lots of unintended consequences. And we are. For
instance, Sharma wrote in July, in a
Wall Street Journal essay titled “The Rescues Ruining
, that easy money and increasingly generous
bailouts fuel the rise of monopolies and keep “alive heavily
indebted ‘zombie’ firms, at the expense of start-ups, which
drive innovation.” And all of that is contributing to lower
productivity, which means slower economic growth and “a
shrinking of the pie for everyone.”
In the 1980s, “only 2 percent of publicly traded companies in
the U.S. were considered ‘zombies,’ a term used by the Bank
for International Settlements (BIS) for companies that, over
the previous three years, had not earned enough profit to make
even the interest payments on their debt,” Sharma wrote. “The
zombie minority started to grow rapidly in the early 2000s,
and by the eve of the pandemic, accounted for 19 percent of
U.S.-listed companies.” It’s happening in Europe, China and
Japan, too. And it’s all logical. Prolonged and increasingly
generous bailouts, where governments are willing to buy even
corporate junk bonds to prevent foreclosures, added Sharma,
“distort the efficient allocation of capital needed to raise
As such, no one should be surprised that millennials and Gen Z
are growing disillusioned with this distorted form of
capitalism and say that they prefer socialism.
Going forward, how about more inclusive capitalism for
everyone and less knee-jerk socialism for rich people.
Economies grow from more people inventing and starting stuff.
“Without entrepreneurial risk and creative destruction,
capitalism doesn’t work,” wrote Sharma. “Disruption and
regeneration, the heart of the system, grind to a halt. The
deadwood never falls from the tree. The green shoots are
nipped in the bud.”
US exchange documents to extend nuclear pact.
(Associated Press, January 26, 2021)
Russia and the United States traded documents Tuesday to
extend their last remaining nuclear arms control treaty days
before it is due to expire, the Kremlin said.
A Kremlin readout of a phone call between U.S. President Joe
Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin said the two
leaders voiced satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic
notes about extending the New START treaty. New START expires
on Feb. 5. After taking office last week, Biden proposed
extending the treaty for five years, and the Kremlin quickly
welcomed the offer.
The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in
the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move. Top
members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament said they would
fast-track the issue and complete the necessary steps to
extend the treaty this week.
is still investigating the cause of a widespread internet
outage on the East Coast.
(New York Times, January 26,
An internet outage disrupted work from home and remote
learning on the East Coast on Tuesday, with some Verizon Fios
users unable to rely on popular services such as Zoom and
Slack that have become essential during the pandemic. The
outage was first reported on social media around noon and
started to clear up about 90 minutes later, though it was not
fully resolved until later in the afternoon. The website Down
Detector showed users had reported problems all along the
Northeast corridor and into Western Pennsylvania.
Verizon said Tuesday afternoon it was working on identifying
the root cause of the outage, and said the impact of a cut to
a fiber optic cable in Brooklyn was minimal. The outage
attracted the attention of the Federal Communications
Commission. The acting chairwoman of the F.C.C. said on
Twitter that the “Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
is working to get to the bottom of what is going on.”
Found a Way to Limit Big Tech’s Power: Using the Design of
(New York Times, January 26, 2021)
Bitcoin first emerged in 2009. Its creator, a shadowy figure
known as Satoshi Nakamoto, has said its central idea was to
allow anyone to open a digital bank account and hold the money
in a way that no government could prevent or regulate.
When YouTube and Facebook barred tens of thousands of Mr.
Trump’s supporters and white supremacists this month, many
flocked to alternative apps such as LBRY, Minds and Sessions.
What those sites had in common was that they were also
inspired by the design of Bitcoin. The twin developments were
part of a growing movement by technologists, investors and
everyday users to replace some of the internet’s fundamental
building blocks in ways that would be harder for tech giants
like Facebook and Google to control.
Dozens of start-ups now offer alternatives to Facebook,
Twitter, YouTube and Amazon’s web hosting services, all on top
of decentralized networks and shared ledgers. Many have gained
millions of new users over the past few weeks, according to
the data company SimilarWeb. “This is the biggest wave I’ve
ever seen,” said Emmi Bevensee, a data scientist and the
author of “The Decentralized Web of Hate,” a publication about
the move of right-wing groups to decentralized technology.
“This has been discussed in niche communities, but now we are
having a conversation with the broader world about how these
emerging technologies may impact the world at quite large
COVID relief package presents 1st test of his deal-making
(ABC News, January 26, 2021)
He's facing pressure from both Republicans and some of his
5 Meeting at Trump International Hotel Could Hold the Key to
the January 6 Insurrection.
(Seth Abramson, January 26,
The night before the insurrection, a large group of Trump
family and advisers held an urgent meeting with January 6
organizers at the president's private residence in DC. In
Charles Herbster’s Facebook post detailing the meeting—a post
that looks forward with anger and trepidation to the upcoming
January 6 certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and
has since been hidden and reposted, along with all photos of
the Trump family on Herbster’s Facebook account posted from
December 2020 through January 2021—the Nebraska Republican
writes of the “battles and blood”
the past have been required to “protect our way of
, as well as his own decision “[not
to] choose the easy path”
but instead “fight”
the “widespread voter fraud that happened on November
Herbster is, as of January 26, not
yet speaking to media
about January 5, nor about Senator
Tuberville’s contrary account of the events of that evening in
[Read this article!]
plots death-by-a-thousand-cuts for Republican Party.
(Daily Kos, January 26, 2021)
Aides to Donald Trump have apparently jingled some keys in
front of him just long enough to divert him away from forming
his own party, but that has only renewed his focus on
torturing what remains of the Republican Party. First and
foremost, that means figuring out how to exact revenge on
Republicans who crossed him on impeachment, such as Rep. Liz
Cheney of Wyoming.
Trump Seeks to Remain a Political Force, New Targets Emerge.
(New York Times, January 25, 2021)
As Donald Trump surveys the political landscape, there is a
sudden Senate opening in Ohio, an ally’s bid for Arkansas
governor, and some scores to settle elsewhere.
But Trump's dark cloud extends far beyond some dozen or so GOP
congressional lawmakers all the way into the states, where
parties are veering far right.
Mr. Trump has only been out of the presidential office five
days and has little in the way of political infrastructure. He
has told aides he would like to take a break for several
months. But the former president has remained the party’s
strongest fund-raiser, with tens of millions in PAC money at
his disposal, and he retains an enduring base of Republican
support across the country. Perhaps most important, he harbors
a deep-seated desire to punish those he believes have crossed
him and reward those who remain loyal.
As President Biden’s inauguration approached, Mr. Trump
began telling some allies that he was considering forming a
third party if Republicans moved to convict him in the
Senate trial. But by Saturday, after his own advisers said
it was a mistake, Mr. Trump started sending out word that he
was moving on from his threat.
“He understands that the
best thing for his movement and conservatism is to move
forward together, that third parties will lead to dominance by
Democrats,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina
Republican who is a close ally of Mr. Trump.
[Goodbye, "Patriots Party"?]
Giuliani Sued for more than $1.3 Billion by Dominion Voting
Systems Over False Election Claims.
(New York Times,
January 25, 2021)
The suit against Mr. Giuliani, a lawyer for former President
Donald Trump who pushed to overturn the election results,
accuses him of carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign.”
riot latest: Man accused of stealing documents from Mitch
McConnell's desk charged.
(ABC News, January 25, 2021)
Authorities continue to arrest rioters who reportedly took
part in the siege.
Thinks Trump Will Become President Again on March 4.
(Vice, January 25, 2021)
This is the latest conspiracy that QAnon followers have
embraced in the wake of President Joe Biden’s inauguration
last week, and extremist experts are worried that it
highlights the way QAnon adherents are beginning to merge
their beliefs — about the world being run by an elite cabal of
cannibalistic satanist pedophiles —with even more extreme
ideologies. The latest claims being made by QAnon supporters
echo those of the sovereign citizen movement, a group of
people who believe they are not governed by the same laws as
everyone else. That belief has led to violent confrontations
with law enforcement have viewed them among the top domestic
extremist threats facing the country.
for Trump”: Video Evidence of Incitement at the Capitol
(11-min. video; Just Security, January 25, 2021)
How direct is the connection between what President Donald
Trump communicated to his supporters and their actions in
laying siege to the U.S. Capitol? Videos recorded by many
individuals over the course of the day provide some answers. A
portion of these videos have not been seen widely before,
including video footage largely from the platform Parler
showing how the crowd reacted in real time to some of the most
potent lines in Trump’s speech at the Ellipse. The videos,
along with other information in the public record, provide
strong evidence of a causal link between Trump’s messages to
his supporters and their dangerous, illegal conduct. The
collection of videos, viewed chronologically, also shows the
ways in which Trump placed the life of Vice President Mike
Pence, among others, in grave danger.
radical right celebrated when extremists breached the
Capitol—and drew lessons from it.
(Daily Kos, January
Most of the world—particularly leaders around the globe—was
shocked and horrified Jan. 6 when a mob of far-right
insurrectionists attempted to prevent Congress from certifying
Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, recognizing it as a
“direct attack on democracy.” But at the same time, leaders of
the global radical right from Europe and elsewhere were
watching those events unfold with undisguised glee—for largely
the same reasons. We were following it like a soccer match,”
said a German far-right publisher. European white nationalists
were especially excited because they had attempted the same
thing at the Parliament building in Berlin in August and had
failed. The successful breach by the American mob gave them
hope, as well as ideas for the future.
relents on Senate rules, signals power-sharing deal with
(Washington Post, January 25, 2021)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday night
signaled he would step back from an ultimatum over Senate
rules that sparked a partisan showdown and threatened to
obstruct President Biden’s early legislative agenda. McConnell
(R-Ky.) said in a statement that he was ready to move forward
with a power-sharing accord with Democrats on how to operate
the evenly divided Senate, defusing a potentially explosive
clash over the minority’s rights to block partisan
At issue for McConnell was the fate of the filibuster, the
Senate rule that acts as a 60-vote supermajority requirement
for most legislation. With many Democrats calling for its
elimination as their party takes control of the House, Senate
and White House, McConnell had sought assurances from the new
Senate majority leader, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), that
the filibuster would be preserved. Democrats bristled at the
request, demanding that McConnell agree to a power-sharing
arrangement that followed the model used during the last
50-to-50 Senate, in 2001 — which would give the party with the
vice presidency and its tie-breaking powers control of the
floor agenda — without any additional provisions. Without the
deal in place, Senate committees remained frozen from the
previous Congress, where Republicans held a majority. That has
created the unusual circumstance where Democrats have control
of the floor while GOP chairs remain in charge of most
McConnell on Monday said he was prepared to move forward on a
deal “modeled on that  precedent” after two Democratic
senators — Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)
— publicly reiterated their previously stated opposition to
eliminating the filibuster. “They agree with President Biden’s
and my view that no Senate majority should destroy the right
of future minorities of both parties to help shape
legislation,” he said.
filibusters to prevent a Biden government as his argument to
keep the filibuster.
(Daily Kos, January 25, 2021)
Republican leader Mitch McConnell is literally filibustering
the Senate organizing resolution in order to preserve the
filibuster and selling his actions to the public with a
"unity" argument. In other words, Democrats have to prove
they're trying to unify the country by allowing Republicans to
veto everything President Joe Biden wants to accomplish.
Virus Grows Stealthier, Vaccine Makers Reconsider Battle
(New York Times, January 25, 2021)
Vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech effectively protect
recipients. But in a worrying sign, they are slightly less
effective against a variant found in South Africa.
NEW (and OLD): Watch
World Premiere Of Newly Discovered Mozart Piano Piece.
; UDiscoverMusic, January 25, 2021)
The world premiere of Mozart’s ‘Allegro in D’ will be
performed by Seong-Jin Cho to celebrate the composer’s 265th
birthday on the Deutsche Grammophon Stage in Mozart's
own Salzburg, Austria
[Wunderbar! But are
we saw Cho Seong-Jin performing? BTW, Mozart's
given name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus
Harmonious New Landsat Dataset
(NASA, January 25, 2021)
The provisional public release of the Harmonized Landsat
Sentinel-2 (HLS) dataset through NASA’s LP DAAC opens new
avenues for global terrestrial research.
Recycling Computers in the Age of COVID-19
January 25, 2021)
Recycling computers is costly – but there's an easy way to
avoid the cost while helping those economically affected by
the COVID crisis.
Interface tech (BCI) will allow video games far beyond what
human 'meat peripherals' can comprehend.
60-min. videos; 1 News, January 24, 2021)
Gabe Newell, the head of US gaming company Valve Corporation,
says a future is fast approaching where video games will use
data from people's brain signals to adjust the experience they
get — and even a future where people's minds can be adjusted
"The real world will seem flat, colourless, blurry compared to
the experiences you'll be able to create in people's brains.
Where it gets weird is when who you are becomes editable
through a BCI," Newell said.
At the moment, people accept their feelings are just how they
feel — but Newell says BCIs will soon allow the editing of
these feelings digitally, which could be as easy as using an
app. "One of the early applications I expect we'll see is
improved sleep — sleep will become an app that you run where
you say, 'Oh, I need this much sleep, I need this much REM,'"
Another benefit could be the reduction or total removal of
unwanted feelings or conditions from the brain, for
[It's real. Gaming companies are hot to invest, but can't
market anything yet - because, although they DO have products,
the progress is too fast to make money with a product before
it's obsolete! (Except, maybe, for a BCI headset to learn
more.) And there's the matter of introducing PAIN - a new
malware consideration, for certain! But from sleep apps
through therapeutic changes to people's brains, it's bound to
Secret Action, Trump Administration Granted License to
Sanctioned Mining Billionaire Dan Gertler.
January 24, 2021)
The issuance of a specific license to a designated individual
as an end-run around a delisting, general license, or other
public statement, absent any discernible intelligence or
national security rationale, threatens the integrity,
implementation, and impact of economic sanctions programs as a
whole. In particular, for a sanctions designation issued
specifically for corrupt and secretive activities in the DR
Congo and elsewhere, to have been privately undercut under a
cloud of haste and secrecy at the very end of the Trump
administration strikes a terrible blow to the heart of one of
the most lauded and effective anti-corruption programs of the
are threatened ahead of impeachment trial.
Press, January 24, 2021)
Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of
threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of
former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter
about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the
U.S. Capitol. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters
could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S.
Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist
thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the
Senate moves forward with plans for Trump’s trial.
police weigh officer discipline after rally, Trump-incited
(Associated Press, January 24, 2021)
An Associated Press survey of law enforcement agencies
nationwide found that at least 31 officers in 12 states are
being scrutinized by their supervisors for their behavior in
the District of Columbia or face criminal charges for
participating in the riot. Officials are looking into whether
the officers violated any laws or policies or participated in
the violence while in Washington. A Capitol Police officer
died after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher as
rioters descended on the building and many other officers were
injured. A woman was shot to death by Capitol Police and three
other people died after medical emergencies during the chaos.
Most of the officers have not been publicly identified; only a
few have been charged. Some were identified by online sleuths.
Others were reported by their colleagues or turned themselves
Fumes in His First Weekend Out of Office as Fauci Clowns on
(Daily Beast, January 24, 2021)
And the worst part? Trump can’t even tweet about it.
Fauci on What Working for Trump Was Really Like.
York Times, January 24, 2021)
For almost 40 years, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci has held two jobs.
As director of the National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases, he has run one of the country’s premier
research institutions. But he has also been an adviser to
seven presidents, from Ronald Reagan to, now, Joseph R. Biden
Jr., called upon whenever a health crisis looms to brief the
administration, address the World Health Organization, testify
before Congress or meet with the news media.
For Dr. Fauci, 80, the past year has stood out like no other.
As the coronavirus ravaged the country, Dr. Fauci’s calm
counsel and commitment to hard facts endeared him to millions
of Americans. But he also became a villain to millions of
others. Trump supporters chanted “Fire Fauci,” and the
president mused openly about doing so. He was accused of
inventing the virus and of being part of a secret cabal with
Bill Gates and George Soros to profit from vaccines. His
family received death threats. On Jan. 21, appearing in his
first press briefing under the Biden administration, Dr. Fauci
described the “liberating feeling” of once again being able to
“get up here and talk about what you know — what the evidence,
what the science is — and know that’s it, let the science
Differences in Long-Term Immunity Resulting From Mild vs.
Severe COVID-19 Cases.
(SciTechDaily, January 24, 2021)
The data from this study suggest people with severe COVID-19
cases may have stronger long-term immunity. The research,
published on January 21, 2021, in Science Immunology, is the
first to describe the T cells that fight SARS-CoV-2 in “high
Impaired Metabolic Health and COVID-19: The Interconnection
of Global Pandemics.
(SciTechDaily, January 24, 2021)
Obesity and cardiometabolic diseases do not only trigger a
more severe course of COVID-19. The SARS-CoV-2 infection could
promote the development of these conditions.
Aqueous Battery That’s Fast Charging, Safer and Less
(SciTechDaily, January 24, 2021)
Morphing 3D Printing: New Shape-Changing Nozzle That Could
Revolutionize “4D Printing”.
(SciTechDaily, January 23,
Engineers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have created a
new shape-changing or “morphing” 3D printing nozzle. The
team’s morphing nozzle offers researchers new means for 3D
printing “fiber-filled composites” — materials made up of
short fibers that boost special properties over traditional
3D-printed parts, such as enhancing part strength or
electrical conductivity. The challenge is that these
properties are based on the directions or “orientations” of
the short fibers, which has been difficult to control during
the 3D printing process, until now.
To demonstrate their new approach, the researchers set their
sights on emerging “4D printing” applications. “4D printing
refers to the relatively new concept of 3D printing objects
that can reshape or transform depending on their environment,”
said UMD mechanical engineering professor David Bigio, a
co-author of the study. “In our work, we looked at how printed
parts swelled when submerged in water, and specifically, if we
could alter that swelling behavior using our morphing nozzle.”
Recent advances in 4D printing rely on materials capable of
both “anisotropic” expansion, swelling more in one direction
than another, as well as “isotropic” expansion, swelling
identically in all directions. Unfortunately, switching
between these conditions has typically required researchers to
print with multiple, different materials.
“What was exciting was discovering that we could cause a
single printed material to transition between anisotropic and
isotropic swelling just by changing the nozzle’s shape during
the 3D printing process,” said Connor Armstrong, lead author
of the study. Armstrong developed the approach as part of his
MS thesis research at UMD. “Importantly, the nozzle’s ability
to morph and to even up the score in terms of swelling
properties is not limited to 4D printing,” said study
co-author and recently graduated mechanical engineering
undergraduate student Noah Todd. “Our approach could be
applied for 3D printing many other composite materials to
customize their elastic, thermal, magnetic or electrical
properties for example.”
Scientists Reconstruct the Game-Changing Evolution From
Fin-to-Limb in Early Tetrapods.
It’s hard to overstate how much of a game-changer it was when
vertebrates first rose up from the waters and moved onshore
about 390 million years ago. That transition led to the rise
of the dinosaurs and all the land animals that exist today.
Scientists have been trying for more than a century to unravel
exactly how this remarkable shift took place, and their
understanding of the process is largely based on a few rare,
intact fossils with anatomical gaps between them.
A new study shows how and when the first groups of land
explorers became better walkers than swimmers. The analysis
spans the fin-to-limb transition and reconstructs the
evolution of terrestrial movement in early tetrapods. These
are the four-limbed land vertebrates whose descendants include
extinct and living amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.
The researchers focused on the humerus, the long bone in the
upper arm that runs down from the shoulder and connects with
the lower arm at the elbow, to get around the dilemma of gaps
between well-preserved fossils. Functionally, the humerus is
invaluable for movement because it hosts key muscles that
absorb much of the stress from quadrupedal locomotion. Most
importantly, the bone is found in all tetrapods and the fishes
they evolved from and is pretty common throughout the fossil
record. The bone represents a time capsule of sorts, with
which to reconstruct the evolution of locomotion since it can
be examined across the fin-to-limb transition, the researchers
Hossenfelder: Where do atoms come from?
BackReaction, January 23, 2021)
Aleksei Navalny Protests, Russia Faces Biggest Dissent in
(New York Times, January 23, 2021)
Demonstrations in support of the jailed opposition leader
swept the nation, beginning in the Far East, where people
braved subzero temperatures, and reaching the capital. Arrests
climbed into the thousands.
3,400 arrested at Russia protests demanding Alexey Navalny's
(2-min. video; CBS News, January 23, 2021)
Russian police arrested more than 3,400 people Saturday in
nationwide protests demanding the release of opposition leader
Alexey Navalny, the Kremlin's most prominent foe, according to
a group that counts political detentions. The protests in
scores of cities in temperatures as low as minus-58 F
highlighted how Navalny has built influence far beyond the
political and cultural centers of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
In Moscow, an estimated 15,000 demonstrators gathered in and
around Pushkin Square in the city center, where clashes with
police broke out and demonstrators were roughly dragged off by
helmeted riot officers to police buses and detention trucks.
Some were beaten with batons.
problem is Putin": Protesters throng Russia's streets to
(The Guardian, January 23, 2021)
More than 2,500 are arrested at rallies across the country as
cities see huge turnouts in support of opposition leader.
For more than a decade, the Kremlin has used every tool at its
disposal to keep Russians off the streets, wielding fear and
boredom to make protesting against Vladimir Putin seem
pointless. And yet in defiant scenes on Saturday in cities
across Russia, from St Petersburg to Vladivostok and even in
Yakutsk, where protesters braved temperatures below -50C, tens
of thousands of Russians sent a message to a Kremlin that has
squeezed out all opposition in Russia: enough is enough.
As police fought to retake control of city squares, some
protesters fought back, throwing snowballs and trading blows
with officers in body armour. Many more chanted for Putin to
leave, swapped jokes, filmed Instagram stories, and ran to
stay one step ahead of the police, who chased them across the
The spark was the arrest of Alexei Navalny, the Russian
opposition leader allegedly poisoned by the FSB. But many of
the tens of thousands out in Moscow said that the problems
went deeper, tied to Putin and his two decades of control over
Swell Across Russia Calling For The Release Of Kremlin
Critic Alexei Navalny.
(NPR, January 23, 2021)
Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in protest
on Saturday to demand the release of jailed opposition leader
Alexei Navalny, braving the threat of mass arrests in what was
expected to be one of the largest demonstrations against the
Kremlin in years. From the port city of Vladivostok in the
east to the capital of Moscow seven time zones away in the
west, protesters swept across the country in open defiance of
warnings from Russian authorities that the demonstrations have
been deemed illegal.
On Tuesday, Navalny's team released a scathing investigation
accusing Putin of corruption and detailing the construction of
a lavish palace on the Black Sea allegedly build for the
Russian leader using a "slush fund." The
investigation, titled "Putin's Palace. History of world's
largest bribe," has already been viewed more than 70 million
times since its
release on YouTube
[From Navalny's 2-hour YouTube bombshell:
It was here, in Dresden (East Germany, 1987) that Putin
defined his main life principles:
1. Always say one thing and do another. Lying and hypocrisy
are the most effective methods of work.
2. Corruption is the foundation of trust. Your main friends
are those who have been stealing and cheating with you for
3. And the most important thing: There is never too much
Hmm. Who else does that remind us of?]
Lawmaker Played Key Role in Trump’s Plot to Oust Acting
(New York Times, January 23, 2021)
When Representative Scott Perry joined his colleagues in a
months-long campaign to undermine the results of the
presidential election, promoting “Stop the Steal” events and
supporting an attempt to overturn millions of legally cast
votes, he often took a back seat to higher-profile loyalists
in President Donald J. Trump’s orbit. But Mr. Perry, an
outspoken Pennsylvania Republican, played a significant role
in the crisis that played out at the top of the Justice
Department this month, when Mr. Trump considered firing the
acting attorney general and backed down only after top
department officials threatened to resign en masse.
It was Mr. Perry, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus,
who first made Mr. Trump aware that a relatively obscure
Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, the acting chief
of the civil division, was sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s view
that the election had been stolen, according to former
administration officials who spoke with Mr. Clark and Mr.
Trump. Mr. Perry introduced the president to Mr. Clark, whose
openness to conspiracy theories about election fraud presented
Mr. Trump with a welcome change from the acting attorney
general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, who stood by the results of the
election and had repeatedly resisted the president’s efforts
to undo them.
Mr. Perry’s previously unreported role, and the quiet
discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Clark that followed,
underlined how much the former president was willing to use
the government to subvert the election, turning to more junior
and relatively unknown figures for help as ranking Republicans
and cabinet members rebuffed him.
Giuliani ADMITS billing Trump $20,000-a-day to dispute
election and moans he's been portrayed as 'some kind of
money-grubbing ambulance chaser'.
(Daily Mail, January
Giuliani previously denied claims that he was charging the
Trump campaign money to dispute the results of the November
election. However, on Friday, Giuliani admitted that an
associate had sent off an email requesting that he be paid a
fee of $20,000 per day for his legal services. Giuliani
insisted that he was unaware the email had been sent on his
behalf, and says he has received no such payments. 'I never
had a single expectation of being paid a penny,' Giuliani told
The New York Times on Friday.
It comes after reports Trump was angered that Giuliani has
requested money for his services. Trump allegedly ordered his
aides not to pay the legal fees and 'demanded that he
personally approve any reimbursements for expenses Giuliani
incurred'. It's now unclear whether Giuliani and Trump are on
unapologetic Biden is finally saying goodbye to the centrism
that hobbled Democrats for decades.
(Daily Kos, January
What jumps out from his first days in office is both Biden's
resolve and his aggressive use of the tools at his disposal to
take decisive action. He seems uniquely clear about the perils
of this political era and what is required to meet them—a
distinct break from the centrist dogma that has hung over
Democrats for the better part of 30 years. And congressional
Democrats across the liberal-to-moderate spectrum seem
entirely bought into Biden's vision.
Republicans, for their part, are playing very small ball. The
best any of the saner ones can manage is clinging to the same
tired Reagan-era talking points that left the party open to
hijack by a vulgar populist demagogue. It seems safe to say
that it's going to require a lot more inspiration and
creativity than what we are currently witnessing for the
Republican Party to build an electorally viable coalition of
voters over the next several years.
If President Biden continues to rise to the moment, the unity
he engenders may ultimately be less about winning GOP votes
for his policies than it is about unifying some 65% of
Americans against a factionalized but dangerous party of
ends standoff, agrees to start Trump’s impeachment trial
(Washington Post, January 22, 2021)
The impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump will
begin Feb. 9 under a deal reached Friday by top Senate leaders
— delaying by two weeks the high-stakes proceedings over
whether Trump incited the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S.
Capitol. The agreement was made by Senate Majority Leader
Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell (R-Ky.) following a standoff over the timing of the
trial, which could permanently bar Trump from holding public
Discover First Cloudless, Jupiter-Like Planet – “Smoking Gun
(SciTechDaily, January 22, 2021)
Astronomers at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard &
Smithsonian have detected the first Jupiter-like planet
without clouds or haze in its observable atmosphere. This
marks the second time astronomers have ever observed a
Is Happening to the Bees” – 25% of Known Bee Species Haven’t
Appeared in Public Records Since the 1990s.
(SciTechDaily, January 22, 2021)
“Figuring out which species are living where and how each
population is doing using complex aggregated datasets can be
very messy,” says Zattara. “We wanted to ask a simpler
question: what species have been recorded, anywhere in the
world, in a given period?” To find their answer, the
researchers dove into the Global Biodiversity Information
Facility (GBIF), an international network of databases, which
contains over three centuries’ worth of records from museums,
universities, and private citizens, accounting for over 20,000
known bee species from around the world.
In addition to finding that a quarter of total bee species are
no longer being recorded, the researchers observed that this
decline is not evenly distributed among bee families. Records
of halictid bees–the second most common family–have declined
by 17% since the 1990s. Those for Melittidae–a much rarer
family–have gone down by as much as 41%.
cleans house of propagandists at the Voice of America.
(Daily Kos, January 22, 2021)
President Biden is pushing back Donald Trump’s efforts to turn
the U.S. Agency for Global Media, including its flagship Voice
of America, from U.S. state media (however problematic that
may often be) to Trumpist state media (much worse). One of
Biden’s first moves on Inauguration Day was to request the
resignation of Michael Pack, the CEO of the U.S. Agency
for Global Media, which oversees VOA and four other networks.
On Biden’s first full day in office, Pack’s interim
replacement took the next step, removing the director and
deputy director Pack had installed at VOA in recent months.
Signs Orders to Expand Food Stamps and Raise Wages, but Says
Economy Needs More Help.
(New York Times, January 22,
The president called it an “economic imperative” to provide
more aid for millions of Americans who are struggling to make
ends meet as the virus exacts a bruising toll.
Is Embracing a Radical New Economic Theory to Help Save the
Environment. Could It Also Replace Capitalism?
January 22, 2021)
The Doughnut Economics Theory argues that 20th century
economic thinking is not equipped to deal with the 21st
century reality of a planet teetering on the edge of climate
breakdown. Instead of equating a growing GDP with a successful
society, our goal should be to fit all of human life into the
“sweet spot” between the “social foundation,” where everyone
has what they need to live a good life, and the “environmental
ceiling.” By and large, people in rich countries are living
above the environmental ceiling. Those in poorer countries
often fall below the social foundation. The space in between:
that’s the doughnut.
In 1990, British economist Kate Raworth, now 50, arrived at
Oxford University to study economics. She quickly became
frustrated by the content of the lectures, she recalls over
Zoom from her home office in Oxford, where she now teaches.
She was learning about ideas from decades and sometimes
centuries ago: supply and demand, efficiency, rationality and
economic growth as the ultimate goal. “The concepts of the
20th century emerged from an era in which humanity saw itself
as separated from the web of life,” Raworth says. In this
worldview, she adds, environmental issues are relegated to
what economists call “externalities.” “It’s just an ultimate
absurdity that in the 21st century, when we know we are
witnessing the death of the living world unless we utterly
transform the way we live, that death of the living world is
called ‘an environmental externality.’”
Hartmann: America is dying: three steps to bring us back
from the brink
(Medium, January 21, 2021)
Other developed countries are doing all these things; we can,
hires impeachment lawyer, McConnell wants Senate trial in
February for Capitol riot incitement charge.
January 21, 2021)
Former President Donald Trump hired South Carolina attorney
Butch Bowers to defend him at his second impeachment trial,
which the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, on
Thursday proposed should begin in mid-February. The New York
Times later Thursday noted that Trump’s other lawyers “had all
bowed out” of representing him in what will be his second
It is possible that Democrats could try to force the trial to
begin as early as next week. McConnell said it is “absolutely
imperative that we do not allow a half-baked process to
short-circuit the due process that former President Trump
deserves or damage the Senate or the presidency.”
McConnell on Tuesday had said on the Senate floor that Trump
was to blame for inciting the assault on the Capitol. “The mob
was fed lies,” McConnell said that day. “They were provoked by
the president and other powerful people.”
Kimmel's "Goodbye, Donald Trump!"
(2-min. video; Jimmy
Kimmel Live, January 21, 2021)
Dancing national monuments celebrate the Trump dump.
Prevents Coronavirus Infection in Nursing Homes, Maker
(New York Times, January 21, 2021)
An unusual experiment to prevent nursing home staff members
and residents from infection with the coronavirus has
succeeded, the drug maker Eli Lilly announced on Thursday. A
drug containing monoclonal antibodies — laboratory-grown
virus-fighters — prevented symptomatic infections in residents
who were exposed to the virus, even the frail older people who
are most vulnerable, according to preliminary results of a
study conducted in partnership with the National Institutes of
Health. The researchers found an 80 percent reduction in
infections among residents who got the drug, compared with
those who got a placebo, and a 60 percent reduction among the
staff, results that were highly statistically powerful, Eli
corner of US has been isolated from mainland for 10 months.
(Accuweather, January 20, 2021)
[And is desperate enough to build a 22-mile ice road across
Lake of the Woods.]
do it': McCarthy explicitly warns that attacking other
members is putting them in jeopardy.
(Daily Kos, January
Congressional Republicans have kicked into high gear
over the past week to minimize the fallout for the
Republican Party caused by Donald Trump and the murderous
mob he sicced on the lawmakers at the Capitol. On the one
hand, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell finally directly blamed Trump for inciting
the riot by feeding his cultists a steady diet of
disinformation and baseless lies about the election.
On the other is extraordinary leaked audio of House
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy explicitly warning members of his
caucus not to target other congressional members by name
because "it's putting people in jeopardy."
obstruction of Biden's agenda has already begun.
Kos, January 20, 2021)
The first half of this Inauguration Day has been devoted, at
least rhetorically, to unity. But Sen. Mitch McConnell is
still in charge of the Senate Republicans, and he's still
Mitch McConnell. The chamber is evenly divided, which does one
good thing: It makes Vice President Kamala Harris one of the
most—if not the most—powerful VPs the nation has ever had.
McConnell seems intent on making her work. In his discussions
with new Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on power-sharing in the
split chamber, McConnell is insisting that the agreement
contain a commitment from Schumer to retain the filibuster.
That tells you everything you need to know about McConnell's
intentions for helping President Biden, House Speaker Pelosi,
and the Senate save the country. Staff for each leader had
been operating on the assumption that the power-sharing
agreement from 2001 would be the default for this time around.
Then McConnell threw the filibuster curveball.
17 Executive Orders and Other Directives in Detail
York Times, January 20, 2021)
The moves aim to strengthen protections for young immigrants,
end construction of President Donald J. Trump’s border wall,
end a travel ban and prioritize racial equity.
Cox Richardson: “Where can we find light in this
(Letters From An American, January
For the past four years we have lived under an administration
that advanced policies based on bullying; a fantasy of a lost,
white, Christian America; and disinformation. We have endured
the gutting of our government as the president either left
positions empty or replaced career officials with political
operatives, corruption, the rise of white supremacists into
positions of power, the destruction of our international
standing, an unchecked pandemic that has led to more than
400,000 deaths from Covid-19, an economic crash, and
unprecedented political polarization.
“And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it,” Gorman reminded
Hear from poet who stole the show at inauguration.
News, January 20, 2021)
CNN's Anderson Cooper speaks with Amanda Gorman, the nation's
first-ever youth poet laureate, after she delivered a poem at
the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Gorman’s Inaugural Poem Is a Stunning Vision of Democracy.
(New Yorker, January 20, 2021)
Among the firsts in Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill
We Climb,” is the concept of democracy that it assumed.
Democracy, according to the twenty-two-year-old poet, is an
aspiration—a thing of the future. The word “democracy” first
appears in the same verse in which Gorman refers to “a force
that would shatter our nation rather than share it.” The
insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th took place while
Gorman was working on the poem, although the “force,” one may
assume, is bigger than the insurrection—it is the Trump
Presidency that made the insurrection possible, and the forces
of white supremacy and inequality that enabled that Presidency
itself—“it / Would destroy our country if it meant delaying
democracy / And this effort very nearly succeeded” the poem
continues. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed /
it can never be permanently defeated.”
Hill We Climb"; Read Amanda Gorman's inaugural poem.
(CNN, January 20, 2021)
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it's the past we step into and how we repair it.
We've seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy,
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
Garth Brooks sang at Biden's inauguration. The internet
reacted with memes and history lessons.
January 20, 2021)
[After performing, why didn't he replace his face mask before
hugging all those national leaders? And why haven't we seen
The Inauguration of Joe
Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of
the United States of America.
(3.5-hr. video; Biden
Inaugural, January 20, 2021)
Boys are ditching Trump hours after he left the White House
for good, calling him a 'shill' and 'extraordinarily weak'.
(Business Insider, January 20, 2021)
Chief on Challenge of Serving Trump During Pandemic
York Times, January 20, 2021)
Dr. Robert Redfield predicted the “worst is yet to come” with
the coronavirus and expressed frustration with the
politicization of mask-wearing and mitigation efforts. "My
greatest disappointment was the lack of consistency of public
health messaging and the inconsistency of civic leaders to
reinforce the public health message. You can read between the
lines what that means — civic leaders."
McConnel says Trump provoked the attack on the U.S. Capitol
(11-min. video; The Young Turks, January 19,
General William Barr calls Trump claims "bulls***", Trump
(7-min. video; The Young Turks, January 19,
Krugmann: Evidence Makes A Comeback.
(New York Times,
January 19, 2021)
"And I, for one, am thrilled that 23½ hours after this
newsletter goes out we’ll have an administration that
From Jail, Issues Report Describing an Opulent Putin
(New York Times, January 19, 2021)
As part of a dramatic battle with the Russian president
playing out before an online audience of millions, the
opposition leader and his team detailed a lavish compound
costing more than $1 billion.
State of Broadband in America, Q4 2020
January 19, 2021)
While 78% of Americans have access to wired providers who
report that they can service speeds of 100 Mbps download / 25
Mbps upload, only 30% of Americans have access to low-priced
plans at that speed.
America is Less Democratic than other Major Western
Countries and How We Can Do Better.
Democracy, January 19, 2021)
A web project of Douglas J. Amy, Professor Emeritus of
Politics, Mount Holyoke College.
The United States is the country that democracy left behind.
At its founding, the U.S. was on the cutting edge of
democracy. Our Constitution rejected rule by kings and
pioneered democratic innovations like civil liberties. But in
the 200 years since, democratic institutions have continued to
evolve – with improvements in legislatures, elections, the
judiciary, party systems, and so on. Other Western nations,
with more modern constitutions, have taken advantage of these
institutional advances and made their democracies fairer, more
representative, and more accountable to their citizens. We
haven’t followed suit and we’ve become a second-rate
democracy, with a government mired in gridlock, dominated by
monied interests, and unresponsive to the public.
planned attack, wanted to trap lawmakers and 'turn on gas':
(ABC News, January 19, 2021)
Federal authorities are continuing to charge rioters who took
part in the siege on Capitol Hill. These are the most recent
The Justice Department has filed its first conspiracy charges
from the Capitol riot against a Virginia man who they allege
was an apparent leader of a group of militia members who were
part of the mob that stormed the building. Thomas Edward
Caldwell is identified in an FBI affidavit as a member of the
Oath Keepers. An agent alleges that he helped organize a group
of eight to 10 of his fellow members to storm the Capitol with
the intention of disrupting the counting of the Electoral
College vote. The group can be seen in video walking uniformly
through a crowd of rioters trying to gain entrance to the
Capitol. Those members included co-conspirators Jessica
Watkins and Donovan Crowl, who were charged for their role in
the riots earlier this week. In social media posts, both Crowl
and Watkins referred to Caldwell as "Commander," according to
the court documents. While inside the Capitol, Caldwell
allegedly received Facebook messages telling him to "seal" in
lawmakers in the tunnels under the Capitol and to "turn on
gas." Other messages appeared to be trying to give him updates
on the locations of lawmakers, the affidavit states. Other
texts reveal the extensive planning and even potential attacks
that he and other members of the Oath Keepers were mounting
leading up to the riots.
[And many others...]
militia members planned on storming the U.S. Capitol days in
advance of Jan. 6 attack, court documents say.
(Washington Post, January 19, 2021)
Self-styled militia members from Virginia, Ohio and other
states made plans to storm the U.S. Capitol days in advance of
the Jan. 6 attack, and then communicated in real time as they
breached the building on opposite sides and talked about
hunting for lawmakers, according to court documents filed
Tuesday. While authorities have charged more than 100
individuals in the riot, details in the new allegations
against three U.S. military veterans offer a disturbing look
at what they allegedly said to one another before, during and
after the attack — statements that indicate a degree of
preparation and determination to rush deep into the halls and
tunnels of Congress to make “citizens’ arrests” of elected
“This is the first step toward identifying and understanding
that there was some type of concerted conspiracy here,” said
one senior official with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the
District of Columbia, which is leading the investigation.
“Whether everyone else just happened to be there and got
caught up in the moment, or if this is just the tip of the
iceberg, how much this will grow at this point I can’t tell
you, but we are continuing to investigate aggressively,”
according to the official, who spoke on the condition of
anonymity to discuss a pending investigation.
Grail” – Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments Reverse Aging Process
in First Clinical Trial.
(SciTechDaily, January 19,
A new study from Tel Aviv University (TAU) and the Shamir
Medical Center in Israel indicates that hyperbaric oxygen
treatments (HBOT) in healthy aging adults can stop the aging
of blood cells and reverse the aging process. In the
biological sense, the adults’ blood cells actually grow
younger as the treatments progress.
The researchers found that a unique protocol of treatments
with high-pressure oxygen in a pressure chamber can reverse
two major processes associated with aging and its illnesses:
the shortening of telomeres (protective regions located at
both ends of every chromosome) and the accumulation of old and
malfunctioning cells in the body. Focusing on immune cells
containing DNA obtained from the participants’ blood, the
study discovered a lengthening of up to 38% of the telomeres,
as well as a decrease of up to 37% in the presence of
Has Discussed Starting a New "Patriot" Political Party.
(Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2021)
It’s unclear how serious Mr. Trump is about starting a new
party, which would require a significant investment of time
and resources. The president has a large base of supporters,
some of whom were not deeply involved in Republican politics
prior to Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. Third parties have
typically failed to draw enough support to play a major role
in national elections. Any effort to start a new party would
likely face intense opposition from Republican party
officials, who would chafe at the thought of Mr. Trump peeling
off support from GOP candidates.
Trump administration issues racist school curriculum report
on MLK day.
(CNN, January 18, 2021)
A commission stood up by President Donald Trump as a rebuttal
to schools applying a more accurate history curriculum around
slavery in the US issued its inflammatory "1776 Report" on
Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Trump announced that he was establishing the commission last
fall, following a slew of Black Lives Matter demonstrations
across the country. He blamed the school curriculum for
violence that resulted from some of the protests, saying that
"the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of
decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools." The
commission is an apparent counter to The New York Times'
"1619" Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning project aimed at
teaching American students about slavery. Trump, speaking last
fall, called the project "toxic propaganda."
[As one of his first-day actions, President Biden took down
this hypocritical "preserve the imbalance" report]
promoted N.M. official’s comment that "the only good
Democrat is a dead Democrat." Now the man is arrested in the
(Washington Post, January 18, 2021)
President Trump’s culpability for the attempted insurrection
at the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago will be judged by U.S.
senators in a looming impeachment trial — and possibly by the
court system after he leaves the presidency. Now a man with a
personal connection to Trump — and whose violent rhetoric
Trump promoted to the world — has been arrested in the riot.
Otero County, N.M., Commissioner Couy Griffin was arrested
Sunday for illegally entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. Griffin,
the head of a group called Cowboys for Trump, claims he got
caught up with the crowd and didn’t actually enter the
building, but the affidavit says video on his personal
Facebook page showed him in restricted areas.
Griffin also pledged to return to Washington with guns for
President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, and he
alluded to the prospect of violence and another incursion into
the offices of lawmakers. According to the affidavit, he said
in a video posted after the Jan. 6 riot: " …
We could have a 2nd Amendment rally on those same steps that
we had that rally yesterday. You know, and if we do, then it’s
gonna be a sad day, because there’s gonna be blood running out
of that building. But at the end of the day, you mark my word,
we will plant our flag on the desk of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck
Schumer and Donald J. Trump if it boils down to it."
Texas man threatened to shoot family if they reported him
going in U.S. Capitol.
(Houston Chronicle, January 18,
A Wylie man arrested over the weekend for going inside of the
U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 told his family he went there "to
protect the country" and threatened to shoot his children if
they turned him in, authorities say. Guy Reffitt took his gun
with him when they "stormed the Capitol" and recorded some of
the events on his Go Pro camera that he was wearing on his
helmet, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Reffitt was arrested Saturday at his Wylie home and faces
federal charges of obstruction of justice and knowingly
entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds
without lawful authority. Wylie is about 55 miles northeast of
Fort Worth. The Wylie man, who is a member of "Texas Freedom
Force," a militia extremist group, remained in federal custody
on Monday. FBI agents tracked down Reffitt through a news
video, showing a man outside the U.S. Capitol building using a
water bottle to flush out his eyes after apparently being
has a congressional shortcut to cancel Trump’s regulatory
rollbacks, but it comes with risks.
January 18, 2021)
The Trump administration dedicated itself to deregulation with
unprecedented fervor. It rolled back scores of regulations
across government agencies, including more than 80
The Biden administration can reverse some of those actions
quickly – for instance, as president, Joe Biden can undo
Donald Trump’s executive orders with a stroke of the pen. He
plans to restore U.S. involvement in the Paris climate
agreement that way on his first day in office.
Undoing most regulatory rollbacks, however, will require a
review process that can take years, often followed by further
delays during litigation.
There is an alternative, but it comes with risks. Biden could
take a leaf from the Republicans’ 2017 playbook, when
congressional Republicans used a shortcut based on an obscure
federal law called the Congressional Review Act to wipe out
several Obama administration regulations.
Allows Inexpensive Electric Vehicle Battery to Charge in
Just 10 Minutes.
(Sci Tech Daily, January 18, 2021)
Range anxiety, the fear of running out of power before being
able to recharge an electric vehicle, may be a thing of the
past, according to a team of Penn State engineers who are
looking at lithium iron phosphate batteries that have a range
of 250 miles with the ability to charge in 10 minutes.
minutes of fear: A timeline from inside the Capitol siege
(14-min. video; Seattle Times, January 17, 2021)
At 2:12 p.m. on Jan. 6, supporters of President Donald Trump
began climbing through a window they had smashed on the
northwest side of the U.S. Capitol. “Go! Go! Go!” someone
shouted as the rioters, some in military gear, streamed in. It
was the start of the most serious attack on the Capitol since
the War of 1812. The mob coursed through the building, enraged
that Congress was preparing to make Trump’s electoral defeat
official. “Drag them out! … Hang them out!” rioters yelled at
one point, as they gatherednear the House chamber. Officials
in the House and Senate secured the doors of their respective
chambers, but lawmakers were soon forced to retreat to
undisclosed locations. Five people died on the grounds that
day, including a Capitol police officer. In all, more than 50
officers were injured.
To reconstruct the pandemonium inside the Capitol for the
video above, The Washington Post examined text messages,
photos and hundreds of videos, some of which were exclusively
obtained. By synchronizing the footage and locating some of
the camera angles within a digital 3-D model of the building,
The Post was able to map the rioters’ movements and assess how
close they came to lawmakers – in some cases feet apart or
separated only by a handful of vastly outnumbered police
squad stalked Alexei Navalny on 40 flights, says Bellingcat
(The Guardian, January 17, 2021)
As Russian opposition leader returns to Moscow, flight records
show how Kremlin agents have been following him for years
soaring national debt is a looming disaster.
Insider, January 17, 2021)
The problem in the United States today is that our use of debt
does not satisfy the conditions for "good" debt.
Single Gene “Invented” Hemoglobin Several Times.
Tech Daily, January 17, 2021)
Thanks to the marine worm Platynereis dumerilii, an animal
whose genes have evolved very slowly, scientists have shown
that while hemoglobin appeared independently in several
species, it actually descends from a single gene transmitted
to all by their last common ancestor.
Discover Earliest Supermassive Black Hole and Quasar in the
Universe – 1000x More Luminous Than the Milky Way.
Tech Daily, January 17, 2021)
The most distant quasar known has been discovered. The quasar,
observed just 670 million years after the Big Bang, is 1000
times more luminous than the Milky Way. It is powered by the
earliest known supermassive black hole, which weighs in at
more than 1.6 billion times the mass of the Sun. Seen more
than 13 billion years ago, this fully formed distant quasar is
also the earliest yet discovered, providing astronomers with
insight into the formation of massive galaxies in the early
Hossenfelder: Was the universe made for us?
video; BackReaction, January 16, 2021)
Today I want to talk about the claim that our universe is
especially made for humans, or fine-tuned for life. According
to this idea, it’s extremely unlikely our universe would just
happen to be the way it is by chance, and the fact that we
nevertheless exist requires explanation. This argument is
popular among some religious people who use it to claim that
our universe needs a creator, and the same argument is used by
physicists to pass off unscientific ideas, like the multiverse
or naturalness, as science. In this video, I will explain
what’s wrong with this argument, and why the observation that
the universe is this way and not some other way, is evidence
neither for nor against god or the multiverse.
Koch: The Vaccine
(Every New Season, January 16, 2021)
There are folks with “vaccine hesitancy.” It’s a national
phenomenon, especially among many front-line health care
workers whose responses range from “maybe later” to downright
“no.” A hospital in New York reported that only three of
nineteen full-time staff members in the respiratory therapy
department agreed to get vaccinated. These are the folks who
are at great personal risk as they intubate critically ill
My own Patrick Henry stance is that I’ll fight for other
people’s right not to be injected, but I didn’t hesitate. I
rolled up my sleeve for the same reason I get a flu shot every
winter, for the same reason I wear a mask when around others.
It’s really not about me. It’s about living in a community.
The healthier each one of us is, the healthier we all are.
surpasses 100 million daily search queries for the first
(ZDNet, January 16, 2021)
DuckDuckGo reaches historic milestone in a week when both
Signal and Telegram saw a huge influx of new users.
dropped dramatically the week after Twitter banned Trump and
(Washington Post, January 16, 2021)
Zignal Labs charts 73 percent decline on Twitter and beyond
following historic action against the president.
Rioters Leave FBI a Trail of Over 140,000 Images.
(Bloomberg, January 16, 2021)
Citizens and police sift online trove to find Capitol mob.
Facial recognition software used by at least one police
department. The FBI has quickly identified more than 275
suspects -- the number is expected to grow quickly -- related
to last week’s Capitol riot. More than 98 have been arrested,
often with the aid of video taken or social media posted by
the participants themselves. And investigators, academics and
citizen sleuths are still combing though broadcast footage and
websites such as Twitter Inc., YouTube and even archives of
the now-defunct Parler platform favored by right-wing
“Social media companies let this fester for years, but you’re
seeing a sea change,” said a global head of managed security
services. “They’re not going to stonewall any longer.” Like
social media companies, telecoms will be essential to
investigations, and be obligated to maintain and turnover
subscriber call logs and location data once subpoenaed or
presented with a warrant. Carriers and online companies say
they cooperate with law enforcement.
having to tape together records that Trump tore up.
Guardian, January 16, 2021)
Implications for public record and legal proceedings after
administration seized or destroyed papers, notes and other
The public will not see Donald Trump’s White House records for
years, but there is growing concern the collection will never
be complete – leaving a hole in the history of one of
America’s most tumultuous presidencies. Trump has been
cavalier about the law requiring that records be preserved. He
has a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out,
forcing White House workers to spend hours taping them back
warns he will 'walk towards guns' if Biden tries to collect
28 years of unpaid grazing fees.
(Daily Kos, January 16,
Remember Cliven Bundy, the stubborn Nevada rancher whose
decades-long refusal to pay grazing fees for cattle he runs on
federal land led to a 2014 armed stand-off at his family ranch
and in 2016, another armed stand-off led by his son Ammon
Bundy in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge? Bundy wound up
in pre-trial detention for 18 months over the 2014 stand-off,
but because of prosecutorial misconduct, he was released and
his case adjudged a mistrial. New charges weren’t filed. He
and his large family continue to run cattle on federal land
without paying the modest grazing fees. By 2014, 21 years
after he began refusing to pay for this use of public land,
the back fees had accumulated to more than $1 million.
Currently, 24,000 permit holders are charged $1.35 per animal
per month for grazing—a very good deal. But not as good as
Now the 74-year-old rancher has advice for President-elect Joe
Biden’s administration: It better not come trying to collect
those unpaid fees, because he and his militant supporters are
willing to "walk towards guns" again if that happens.
motivates the motivated reasoning of pro-Trump
(Ars Technica, January 16, 2021)
New study suggests a desire to see society focus on men helps
Motivated reasoning is the idea that our mental processes
often cause us to filter the evidence we accept based on
whether it's consistent with what we want to believe. During
these past few weeks, it has been on display in the United
States on a truly grand scale. People are accepting
context-free videos shared on social media over investigations
performed by election officials. They're rejecting obvious
evidence of President Donald Trump's historic unpopularity
while buying in to evidence-free conspiracies involving
deceased Latin American dictators.
If the evidence for motivated reasoning is obvious, however,
it's a lot harder to figure out what's providing the
motivation. It's not simply Republican identity, given that
Trump adopted many policies that went against previous
Republican orthodoxy. The frequent appearance of Confederate
flags confirms some racism is involved, but that doesn't seem
to explain it all. There's a long enough list of potential
motivations to raise doubts as to whether a single one could
A recent paper in PNAS, however, provides a single explanation
that incorporates a lot of the potential motivations. Called
"hegemonic masculinity," it involves a world view that places
males from the dominant cultural group as the focus of
societal power. And survey data seems to back up the idea.
Shocking List of 30+ Elected Officials at Trump's Rally,
Capitol Insurrection; It Keeps Growing.
January 16, 2021)
There is a new class of fringe radical right-wing trolls
entering Congress this year, including Reps. Madison Cawthorn,
crime enthusiast Lauren Boebert, QAnon fanatic Marjorie Taylor
Greene. They join resident right-wing conspiracy degenerates
like Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, and Mo Brooks, among
The latter three coordinated with the leaders of the coup
attempt, encouraging them and recording rally hype videos for
their followers. Boebert seems to have played an active role
on the day of the coup attempt, which is a whole new level of
treason. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a moderate Democrat from New
Jersey and a Navy veteran, suggested earlier this week that
she saw Republicans giving rioters tours of the Capitol the
day before the insurrection took place. Capitol Police confirm
that there is an active investigation into the accusation,
while Boebert seemed to accidentally confirm it on Twitter.
That QAnon and these far-right conspiracy lunatics have
infiltrated the national government is terrifying, but what’s
even scarier is the fact that so many more of them have wormed
their way into state and local governments.
police were part of the Capitol mob. Now police are turning
in their own.
(Washington Post, January 16, 2021)
During the chaos at the Capitol, overwhelmed police officers
confronted and combated a frenzied sea of rioters who
transformed the seat of democracy into a battlefield. Now
police chiefs across the country are confronting the
uncomfortable reality that members in their own ranks were
among the mob that faced off against other law enforcement
officers. At least 13 off-duty law enforcement officials are
suspected of taking part in the riot, a tally that could grow
as investigators continue to pore over footage and records to
identify participants. Police leaders are turning in their own
to the FBI and taking the striking step of reminding officers
in their departments that criminal misconduct could push them
off the force and behind bars.
“We are making clear that they have First Amendment rights
like all Americans,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo,
who on Thursday accepted the resignation of an 18-year veteran
in his department due to his involvement in the riot, which
followed a rally at which President Trump urged his supporters
to not accept his defeat. “However, engaging in activity that
crosses the line into criminal conduct will not be tolerated.”
the rioters who stormed the Capitol came dangerously close
(Washington Post, January 15, 2021)
According to the FBI, one man who was charged this week with
trespassing and disorderly conduct after making his way into
the Senate chamber said in a YouTube video: “Once we found out
Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election,
like, officially, the crowd went crazy. I mean, it became a
mob.” At one point, a group of rioters began chanting, “Hang
Mike Pence!” as they streamed into the main door on the east
side of the Capitol.
The violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came
perilously close to Vice President Pence, who was not
evacuated from the Senate chamber for about 14 minutes after
the Capitol Police reported an initial attempted breach of the
complex — enough time for the marauders to rush inside the
building and approach his location, according to law
enforcement officials and video footage from that day.
Twice the vice president’s agents told Pence that they
recommended he and his immediate entourage evacuate the
Capitol, according to two people briefed on the episode. Pence
declined the recommendation both times, saying he did not want
to be driven out of his own office and the Capitol by an
unruly mob. The third time, the Secret Service didn’t give
Pence a choice. Detail agents told Pence they were all going —
that instant. Secret Service officers spirited Pence to a room
off the Senate floor withhis wife, Karen Pence, his daughter,
Charlotte Pence Bond, and his brother, Rep. Greg Pence
(R-Ind.), who had come to the Senate and was watching its
debate over Arizona’s electoral vote with his sister-in-law
About one minute after Pence was hustled out of the chamber, a
group charged up the stairs to a second-floor landing. ,
chasing Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman who drew them
away from the Senate. They arriving on the landing at 2:14
p.m., video footage shows — mere seconds after the vice
president had been whisked inside the office.
It would take several hours before Capitol Police — aided by
hundreds of D.C. police officers, FBI SWAT team members,
Secret Service officers and National Guard soldiers — ejected
the rioters from the grounds and secured the building. As
lawmakers debated where and how they should reconvene to
continue the electoral vote count disrupted by the violent
mob, Pence pushed to continue the session where it had begun —
in the Capitol.
Once the Capitol Police gave the all-clear, Pence left his
secure location and returned to the Senate chamber after 8
p.m. Before Congress resumed its work, the vice president
addressed the day’s violence in an unusual speech as president
of the Senate. “Today was a dark day in the history of the
United States Capitol,” Pence said, adding: “We will always be
grateful to the men and women who stayed at their posts to
defend this historic place. To those who wreaked havoc in our
Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom
wins. And this is still the People’s House.”
They Countin’ the Votes?!”: New Video Details Tense Moments
as Capitol Mob Sought Out Lawmakers.
ProPublica, January 15, 2021)
More than 10 million people have seen the video shot by
HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic showing a Black Capitol Police
officer leading pro-Trump rioters away from where senators
were holed up in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Now, ProPublica has uncovered new footage — amid a trove of
content archived from the now-shuttered social platform Parler
— that reveals the raw moments before Officer Eugene Goodman’s
actions. The clip, recorded minutes after crowds breached a
barrier outside, allows the public to see and hear new details
from a turbulent day that ultimately led to President Donald
Trump’s second impeachment.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill to award
Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal for luring the mob away
from lawmakers. Goodman is a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran and
was deployed with the 101st Airborne Division to Iraq for a
rioters claim Capitol officer told them, ‘It’s your house
now,’ FBI says.
(Washington Post, January 15, 2021)
As rioters overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, an officer
guarding the building shook hands with two people in the mob
and admitted defeat, according to the account the men provided
FBI agents. Robert L. Bauer and Edward Hemenway told an FBI
agent that after they rushed into the building with the crowd,
one Capitol Police officer shook their hands, gave one a
partial hug and told them both that “it’s your house now.”
“Sorry,” Hemenway recalled telling the officer.
“It’s your house now, man,” he said the officer replied.
Bauer told the FBI he “believed that the policeman was acting
out of fear,” according to an affidavit filed Thursday in
federal court in the District.
The chief of the Capitol Police and House and Senate sergeants
at arms have all resigned in the wake of the attack that left
a Capitol Police officer and four rioters dead. It took nearly
four hours to secure the building from rioters seeking to
overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
taps Eric Lander and Maria Zuber for senior science posts.
(MIT News, January 15, 2021)
Biden intends to elevate the Presidential Science Advisor, for
the first time in history, to be a member of his Cabinet.
Gates is now America's biggest private farmland owner, says
(The Hill, January 15, 2021)
The Microsoft tech billionaire and his wife own 242,000 acres
of farmland across the U.S.
declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas.
(Politico, January 15, 2021)
The announcement came months after New York’s attorney general
sued the organization over claims that top executives
illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish
personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other
questionable expenditures. The coronavirus pandemic has also
upended the NRA, which last year laid off dozens of employees.
The group canceled its national convention and scuttled
fundraising. The NRA's bankruptcy filing listed between $100
million and $500 million in assets and between $100 million
and $500 million in liabilities. Still, the NRA claimed in
announcing the move that the organization was “in its
strongest financial condition in years.”
Shortly after the announcement, New York Attorney General
Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade
accountability” or oversight. Her office's lawsuit last year
highlighted misspending and self-dealing claims that have
roiled the NRA and LaPierre in recent years— from hair and
makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract
for himself. “The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally
met its moral status: bankrupt," James said.
alter stolen regulatory data to sow mistrust in COVID-19
(Ars Technica, January 15, 2021)
Post titled “Astonishing fraud! Evil Pfffizer! Fake vaccines!”
found on the dark Web.
COVID-19 vaccine reserve is now empty, sparking angry
(The Hill, January 15, 2021)
The Trump administration had previously been stockpiling half
of available COVID-19 vaccine doses to ensure those who
received the first jab would have access to the required
(Mozilla News Byte, January 15, 2021)
Parler touted itself as the social network that offered its
users unbridled free speech “without fear of being
‘deplatformed’ for your views.” But the site’s lax approach to
content moderation backfired last week. Apple and Google
suspended Parler from their app stores based on concerns about
its limited content moderation. Faster than you can say, “just
use the website,” Amazon removed Parler’s site from its AWS
web servers. Parler says the tech companies’ response was
anti-competitive in nature, and outlined this claim in its
lawsuit against Amazon.
realtor who flew on private jet to the Capitol arrested
after filming herself breaking in.
(Daily Kos, January
A real estate broker from Frisco, Texas, has been charged in
the Capitol building insurrection that took place in
Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. Jenna Ryan documented her crimes
on social media and is being charged with “knowingly entering
or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without
lawful authority” and “disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.”
The complaint includes Facebook posts from Ryan’s account
detailing her private jet flight, with images, from Denton,
Texas, to Washington to participate in a crime against our
Ryan made headlines with her photos and video from the Capitol
siege, including one strange image of her in front of one of
the many broken Capitol building windows that showed her
smiling and putting up the victory sign (Lord knows it wasn’t
the peace sign), and writing this cryptic soliloquy: “Window
at The capital [sic]. And if the news doesn’t stop lying about
us we’re going to come after their studios next...” Ummm. Got
fines white-supremacist robocaller $10 million for faking
(Ars Technica, January 15, 2021)
The Federal Communications Commission finalized the fine
against Scott Rhodes of Idaho yesterday, nearly one year after
the FCC first proposed the penalty. "This individual made
thousands of spoofed robocalls targeting specific communities
with harmful pre-recorded messages," the FCC said in an
announcement. "The robocalls included xenophobic fearmongering
(including to a victim's family), racist attacks on political
candidates, an apparent attempt to influence the jury in a
domestic terrorism case, and threatening language toward a
local journalist. The caller used an online calling platform
to intentionally manipulate caller ID information so that the
calls he was making appeared to come from local numbers—a
technique called 'neighbor spoofing.'"
Rhodes in November 2018 "launched a campaign targeting Georgia
gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams," with 583 robocalls
that "purported to be from Oprah Winfrey, who was in Georgia
campaigning with Ms. Abrams," the FCC said in the forfeiture
order. The FCC order pointed to a CNN article from the time,
which said, "The group behind the robocall is The Road to
Power, a white supremacist and anti-Semitic video podcast
hosted by Scott Rhodes of Idaho." The robocall contained
"racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric," CNN wrote.
Another Rhodes campaign targeted Andrew Gillum, who was
running for governor in Florida. "Well hello there. I is the
negro Andrew Gillum, and I be asking you to make me governor
of this here state of Florida," the robocalls said, "with a
man speaking in a caricature of a Black dialect," CNN wrote at
As to Rhodes' claim that his actions are protected as "free
speech", because his robocaller's fake caller ID numbers were
allegedly chosen as neo-Nazi symbols, "The fact that
particular numbers may be intended to convey a political
message does not afford a caller the right to use the numbers
in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act. The Truth in
Caller ID Act bars the knowing transmission of inaccurate or
misleading caller ID information with the intent to defraud,
cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value."
The FCC has a poor track record collecting fines against
robocallers, partly because proposed fines often don't lead to
forfeiture orders. In Rhodes' case, yesterday's forfeiture
order requires him to pay the fine within 30 days. If he
doesn't, the FCC said it "will refer the matter to the US
Department of Justice for further action." Issuing the
forfeiture order was one of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's final acts
before he leaves the commission next week. "With today's fine,
we once again make clear our commitment to aggressively go
after those who are unlawfully bombarding the American people
with spoofed robocalls," Pai said yesterday.
blindsided as Trump Admin cripples agency on its way out.
(Ars Technica, January 15, 2021)
It's “a full-frontal assault on public health," one official
Last week, HHS said it had finalized a rule that would cause
all FDA regulations to expire after 10 years unless they are
reviewed. Critics of the rule, called Securing Updated and
Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely or “SUNSET,” noted that
the FDA already has mechanisms to sunset outdated regulations,
making automatic expiration dates unnecessary. But in a
statement announcing the rule, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said
that “finalizing our SUNSET rule will deliver for the American
people better, smarter, less burdensome regulations in the
years to come.”
Next, the HHS moved to permanently waive FDA’s review
requirements of medical devices before they hit the market.
Seven types of medical gloves have already been permanently
exempted, and the HHS has proposed exempting 84 other medical
devices, including ventilators, fetal heart monitors, infusion
pumps, pediatric facemasks, and medical imaging equipment.
The HHS also moved to force the FDA to publish on its website
the time it takes to review new drug applications, claiming
that the agency’s current reviews are often too slow.
In yet another strike, Politico reported Thursday that the
Trump Administration is working to ram through term limits on
top career scientists at the FDA, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, and other health agencies. The regulation
would mandate job reviews every five years, in which
scientists would either be renewed or reassigned. “It’s been a
step-by-step escalation in retaliation by HHS against career
scientists throughout the pandemic,” a current senior
administration official told Politico, blaming HHS Secretary
Azar for the flurry of attacks. “It’s a clear abuse of power
Trump Built a National Debt So Big (Even Before the
Pandemic) That It’ll Weigh Down the Economy for Years.
(ProPublica, January 14, 2021)
One of President Donald Trump’s lesser known but profoundly
damaging legacies will be the explosive rise in the national
debt that occurred on his watch. The financial burden that
he’s inflicted on our government will wreak havoc for decades,
saddling our kids and grandkids with debt. The “King of Debt”
promised to reduce the national debt — then his tax cuts made
it surge. Add in the pandemic, and he oversaw the
third-biggest deficit increase of any president.
The national debt has risen by almost $7.8 trillion during
Trump’s time in office. That’s nearly twice as much as what
Americans owe on student loans, car loans, credit cards and
every other type of debt other than mortgages, combined,
according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
It amounts to about $23,500 in new federal debt for every
person in the country.
seeks to freeze $27.4 billion of programs in final week of
(8-min. video; The Hill, January 14, 2021)
Tillerson is speaking out, and ooh boy, the stories he’s
telling about Donald Trump.
(Daily Kos, January 14,
of troops in Washington for inauguration.
CBC/Canada, January 14, 2021)
One Took Us Seriously”: Black Cops Warned About Racist
Capitol Police Officers for Years.
Allegations of racism against the Capitol Police are nothing
new: Over 250 Black cops have sued the department since 2001.
Some of those former officers now say it’s no surprise white
nationalists were able to storm the building. The 2001 case,
which started with more than 250 plaintiffs, remains pending.
As recently as 2016, a Black female officer filed a racial
discrimination complaint against the department.
In her 25 years with the Capitol Police, Blackmon-Malloy spent
decades trying to raise the alarm about what she saw as
endemic racism within the force, even organizing
demonstrations where Black officers would return to the
Capitol off-duty, protesting outside the building they usually
protect. “Nothing ever really was resolved. Congress turned a
blind eye to racism on the Hill,” Blackmon-Malloy, who retired
as a lieutenant in 2007, told ProPublica. She is now vice
president of the U.S. Capitol Black Police Association, which
held 16 demonstrations protesting alleged discrimination
between 2013 and 2018. “We got Jan. 6 because no one took us
“The Capitol Police is terrible and pathetic when it comes to
threat assessment,” Chaffetz told ProPublica in an interview.
“They have a couple people dedicated to it, but they’re
overwhelmed. Which drives me nuts. ... It’s not been a
priority for leadership, on both sides of the aisle.” He said
he is not aware of any serious changes to the force’s
intelligence gathering following the debacle.
“For weeks, these people had been talking about coming to the
Capitol to do as much harm as they can,” Norton said.
“Everyone knew it. Except the Capitol Police.” Reports show
the force had no contingency plan to deal with an escalation
of violence and mayhem at last week’s rally, even though the
FBI and the New York Police Department had warned them it
frees North Texan who faces charges in the Capitol riot,
despite warnings from the FBI.
(Dallas News, January 14,
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cureton ordered Brock released
on restrictive conditions including house arrest. The North
Texas man is charged with one count of entering or remaining
in a restricted building without lawful authority and one
count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol
grounds. The siege of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6
left five people dead. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Weimer said
more serious federal charges against Brock are expected.
In ruling not to detain the defendant, Cureton cited his “long
and distinguished military career.”
Earlier in the hearing, John Moore, a Dallas FBI agent
specializing in domestic terrorism, testified that Brock had
become radicalized in recent months over unsubstantiated
claims of a stolen election. The agent also said Brock had
been fired from a job in 2018 for making threatening and
bigoted remarks. Moore said he had spoken to some of Brock’s
Air Force Academy classmates who said his “rhetoric started to
get pretty hostile” after the November election. Brock, they
said, had “made reference to a civil war.” Some blocked him on
social media because of his vague threats of violence, the
rioters included highly trained ex-military and cops.
(Associated Press, January 14, 2021)
“ISIS and al-Qaida would drool over having someone with the
training and experience of a U.S. military officer,” said
Michael German, a former FBI agent and fellow with the Brennan
Center for Justice at New York University. “These people have
training and capabilities that far exceed what any foreign
terrorist group can do. Foreign terrorist groups don’t have
any members who have badges.”
Among the most prominent to emerge is a retired Air Force
lieutenant colonel and decorated combat veteran from Texas who
was arrested after he was photographed wearing a helmet and
body armor on the floor of the Senate, holding a pair of
Deadly attack on Capitol has retired Navy warfare operator
all but jumping for joy.
(Daily Kos, January 13, 2021)
[Interesting Comments thread, as well.]
warned of the strain of nihilism that infects Donald Trump
and his movement.
(The Conversation, January 13, 2021)
Cox Richardson: Republicans are in the same bind they’ve
been in for years.
(Letters From An American, January
At 4:22 this afternoon, the House of Representatives passed
the number of votes necessary to impeach Trump. In the end,
232 Representatives—222 Democrats and 10 Republicans—agreed
that the president had incited an insurrection and must be
removed from office. But 197 Republicans disagreed.
In the week since the attack, emerging information indicates
the insurgency was planned, not spontaneous, and that
lawmakers might be involved. Democrats have stood up to this
attack on our democracy, but Republicans are in the same bind
they’ve been in for years: how can they both keep Trump’s
voters and reject Trump himself? Only by ignoring the
Constitutional oath and the well-being of the nation.
Impeachment Is Different.
(The Atlantic, January 13,
In 2019, Democrats voted to make a statement. Maybe the second
time’s the charm.
This afternoon, Donald Trump, the third president in American
history to be impeached, became the first to be impeached
twice. The House of Representatives voted 232–197 to impeach
Trump for inciting the attempted coup on January 6 and for
trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election as president. The
matter now goes to the Senate, where a trial is unlikely
before Biden’s January 20 inauguration.
& Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine suggests strong
(The Hill, January 13, 2021)
One of the next vaccine candidates could change the game, but
is reportedly behind production goals.
"Boil Water" Alert
(Town of Natick, January 13, 2021)
The Town received notice this afternoon of the presence of E.
coli bacteria within drinking water samples collected
yesterday, January 12th. Massachusetts Department of
Environmental Protection regulations require the Town to issue
a ‘boil water order’ effective immediately.
[And here are the
. On afternoon of Jan. 15th, Natick gave
all-clear; it was a lab-analysis error.]
little, too late": Extremism experts criticize payment
(NBC News, January 13, 2021)
After violent Trump supporters stormed the Capitol last week,
several mainstream payment companies pledged to sever ties
with groups or individuals promoting hate and violence.
Stripe, PayPal and Square said that they had stopped providing
services to individuals and organizations connected to the
riot as part of a sweeping enforcement of policies against
But extremism experts say it’s too little, too late. The
flurry of activity and public pledges follows years of efforts
by extremism and brand safety experts to get payment companies
to better police their platforms to ensure they don’t let hate
groups receive direct donations or provide them payment tools
for selling merchandise.
flocking to encrypted apps could restart debate over law
(Washington Post, January 13, 2021)
Far-right chat rooms in Telegram have gained thousands of
members in the days since the assault on the Capitol,
particularly since Parler was suspended, where some extremists
are sharing instructions for making and hiding guns and bombs
to use against government officials on Inauguration Day. Other
rallies are being planned on the platform and Signal, another
encrypted app that's hard for government officials to monitor.
And the FBI is scrambling to identify those involved in the
Jan. 6 violence – a task that will surely be harder if they
move their open plotting to encrypted chats.
The migration could revive the encryption debate in
Washington. The chances for this issue to resurface are higher
if violence continues until and past President-elect Joe
Biden's inauguration – and exponentially so if law enforcement
deems the encrypted apps a blind spot.
Who Attended Pro-Trump Protest Return To MA As Pariahs.
(Natick Patch, January 13, 2021)
Town officials, business owners and others have returned home
to heavy criticism, calls for resignation and boycotts.
is offline, but violent posts scraped by hackers will haunt
(Washington Post, January 12, 2021)
Parler’s data was easily scraped from its site, a researcher
said, as it fell off the Internet this week.
Rioters who stormed the Capitol last week posted some of their
plans on Parler, a social media network that prides itself on
free speech. “Better advice … go armed and ready to shoot,”
one user posted on the site on Jan. 6, according to
screenshots shared on Twitter.
Over the weekend, Parler was removed from the Apple and Google
app stores. On Monday, Parler disappeared from the Internet
entirely as Amazon’s cloud provider dropped it. All the tech
giants cited the site’s incitements to violence and lack of
Parler quickly became a breeding ground for conspiracy
theories about the election and calls for violence in D.C. And
one by one, technical services in the days following the riot
dropped their support, culminating with Amazon’s decision. As
its fate became clear, a group of hackers worked to archive
the site so no posts — potentially incriminating or not —
would be lost. Users, who flocked to the site on the promise
of free speech and expression without censorship, were dealt a
parting blow from a researcher who said she is in the process
of archiving nearly all public posts on Parler and will make
them available to others online.
US Capitol assault, a different cybersecurity threat
(Engadget, January 12, 2021)
In which we acknowledge the big cyber-elephant in the room.
We all saw the images: threatening notes left on computers,
the House Speaker’s computer screen unlocked with email open,
MAGA terrorists looting — and taking electronic items yet to
be identified. Reports, with probably more to come, of laptops
stolen from the offices of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
and Senator Jeff Merkley. Now there are as-yet unconfirmed
reports that several classified laptops were stolen during the
mob’s assault on the Capitol -- left open and logged onto the
classified SIPRNet network.
Initial impressions of the January 6 attack made it seem like
the violent mob were costumed, unstable, virulently racist
clowns that were just doing it for the ‘gram. Infosec got the
quick impression that they “were unsophisticated opportunists
who were more interested in taking selfies than infiltrating
As we now know, this masked an organized, well-equipped, and
pre-planned reality. Low-key, armed, ex-military teams with
flexicuffs. Militia (“Oath Keepers”) on radios and in body
armor, whose forums overflow with fantasies and plans to
execute people. In just one example of preparation, attackers
knew where to find (Black, Democrat) House Majority Whip James
Clyburn’s unmarked secondary office — bee-lining to where he
was supposed to be at the time.
Weeks of advanced notice, a loud and unpredictable mob as
cover, and a plan to breach and occupy the Capitol building.
It makes sense to think of it as an opportunity for a foreign
adversary to tag along, blend into the crowd and see what they
Let’s just hope the House of Representatives and Senate —
which each have their own Sergeant-at-Arms offices overseeing
cybersecurity — can think beyond the concept of “foreign
adversary” and acknowledge domestic, white supremacist
terrorist hackers as an extremely serious threat. Downplaying
or ignoring domestic cyber-adversaries, vis-a-vis everyone’s
first impressions about the Capitol mob, is likely to be a
Krugmann: The Economic Consequences of the Putsch
York Times, January 12, 2021)
Why Are Markets Optimistic? It actually makes sense.
impeachment hearing, lawmakers will deliberate over a deadly
weapon used in the attack on Capitol Hill – President
(73-min. video; The Conversation, January
Five days after supporters of President Donald Trump attacked
the Capitol building, the House of Representatives introduced
a single article of impeachment against the president. The
article accuses Trump of incitement of insurrection for his
continued propagation of lies and conspiracy theories about
the 2020 election, as well as his violent rhetoric immediately
preceding the attack on Capitol Hill. The article contends
that Trump’s lies and rhetoric directly led to violence with
the goal of undermining the counting of electoral votes. The
president, says the impeachment article, “willfully made
statements that, in context, encourage – and foreseeably
resulted in – lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you
don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country
Impeachment proceedings that consider incitement to
insurrection are rare in American history. Yet dozens of
legislators – including some Republicans – say that Trump’s
actions leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol
contributed to an attempted insurrection against American
Such claims against Trump are complicated. Rather than wage
direct war against sitting U.S. representatives, Trump is
accused of using language to motivate others to do so. Some,
including the president, have countered that the connection
between President Trump’s words and the violence of Jan. 6 is
too tenuous, too abstract, too indirect to be considered
viable. However, decades of research on social influence,
persuasion and psychology show that the messages that people
encounter heavily influence their decisions to engage in
votes to call on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip
Trump of power.
(New York Times, January 12, 2021)
The House voted on Tuesday night to formally call on Vice
President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to strip
President Trump of his powers after he incited a mob that
attacked the Capitol, as lawmakers warned they would impeach
the president on Wednesday if Mr. Pence did not comply.
Lawmakers, escorted by armed guards into a heavily fortified
Capitol, adopted the nonbinding measure just before midnight
largely along party lines. The final vote was 223 to 205 to
implore Mr. Pence to declare Mr. Trump “incapable of executing
the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as
“We’re trying to tell him that the time of a 25th Amendment
emergency has arrived,” Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat
of Maryland and the author of the resolution, said before the
vote. “It has come to our doorstep. It has invaded our
letter to Pelosi, Pence rejects House effort to have him
strip Trump of powers.
(w/link to full letter; New York
Times, January 12, 2021)
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best
interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution,”
Mr. Pence wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “I urge
you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would
further divide and inflame the passions of the moment.” Mr.
Pence privately indicated last week that he did not support
invoking the 25th Amendment, and his public rejection of the
resolution all but ensured that the House would vote to
impeach Mr. Trump on Wednesday.
Reached His Limit With Trump. It Wasn’t Pretty.
York Times, January 12, 2021)
After four years of tongue-biting silence that critics say
enabled the president’s worst instincts, the vice president
would not yield to the pressure and name-calling from his
“You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump
told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation,
“or you can go down in history as a pussy.”
The blowup between the nation’s two highest elected officials
then played out in dramatic fashion as the president publicly
excoriated the vice president at an incendiary rally and sent
agitated supporters to the Capitol where they stormed the
building — some of them chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” It was an
extraordinary rupture of a partnership that had survived too
many challenges to count.
The loyal lieutenant who had almost never diverged from the
president, who had finessed every other possible fracture,
finally came to a decision point he could not avoid. He would
uphold the election despite the president and despite the mob.
And he would pay the price with the political base he once
hoped to harness for his own run for the White House.
Not everyone gave Mr. Pence much credit, arguing that he
should hardly be lionized for following the Constitution and
maintaining that his deference to the president for nearly
four years enabled Mr. Trump’s assault on democracy in the
first place. “I’m glad he didn’t break the law, but it’s kind
of hard to call somebody courageous for choosing not to help
overthrow our democratic system of government,” said
Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey. “He’s
got to understand that the man he’s been working for and
defending loyally is almost single-handedly responsible for
creating a movement in this country that wants to hang Mike
L. Friedman: Trump Is Blowing Apart the G.O.P. God Bless
(New York Times, January 12, 2021)
There still will be a place for principled Republicans.
begin backing impeachment in "vote of conscience".
January 12, 2021)
Multiple House Republicans announced Tuesday evening they
would support the impeachment of President Donald Trump for
his role inciting last week's riot as congressional
Republicans made their clearest break with Trump to date after
he showed no remorse for the US Capitol mob.
While the vast majority of House Republicans are expected to
oppose the article of impeachment on Wednesday, there are
predictions ranging anywhere from as many as 10 to even 20 or
more Republicans who could vote to impeach, according to
Republican sources, with some estimates trending upward after
the first Republicans came out in favor of impeachment
The first impeachment backers included the House's No. 3
Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, in a remarkable rebuke
with a President who has been unassailable in the House GOP
conference throughout his four-year term. While House Minority
Leader Kevin McCarthy is opposed to impeachment, House
Republican leaders are not lobbying their members to oppose
it, and Cheney told the conference Monday it was a "vote of
conscience." In another potentially significant blow to Trump,
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he
believes that impeaching Trump will make it easier to get rid
of the President and Trumpism from the Republican Party,
according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
believes impeachment push will help rid Trump from the GOP,
but has not said if he will vote to convict.
video; CNN, January 12, 2021)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he
believes that impeaching President Donald Trump will make it
easier to get rid of the President and Trumpism from the
Republican Party, according to a source with knowledge of the
matter. Another person with direct knowledge told CNN there's
a reason McConnell has been silent on impeachment as other
Republicans have pushed back: he's furious about last week's
attack on the US Capitol by the President's supporters, even
more so that Trump has shown no contrition. His silence has
been deliberate as he leaves open the option of supporting
McConnell has made no commitments on voting to convict Trump,
and wants to see the article itself before voting. It's a
stark contrast to the President's first impeachment when
McConnell repeatedly spoke out against Democratic intentions
to hold Trump accountable for a pressure campaign on the
Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his family.
McConnell has been steadily moving his conference away from
Trump for weeks. While he knows they all aren't there with
him, the Kentucky Republican believes the party needs to turn
Eve of House Vote, McConnell Is Said to Be Pleased About
Effort to Impeach Trump.
(New York Times, January 12,
Senator Mitch McConnell is said to believe that the
impeachment effort will make it easier to purge President
Trump from the party. And Representative Kevin McCarthy has
asked other Republicans whether he should call on Mr. Trump to
resign in the aftermath of the Capitol siege.
Extraordinary Move, Joint Chiefs Publicly Affirm That Biden
Will Be President.
(w/full letter; Talking Points Memo,
January 12, 2021)
President Biden will take office on Jan. 20, the Joint Chiefs
of Staff said on Tuesday in a message to the armed forces. “As
we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will
obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civil
authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public
safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed
to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United
States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” the
message, sent out on Tuesday to all troops, reads. “Any act to
disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our
traditions, values, and oath: it is against the law."
It’s a stunning statement, if only for the fact of its
existence: the military feels the need to say that it will
stay apolitical, as it has done for nearly 250 years. The
message suggests that the country’s top generals feel the need
to remind the troops to “embody the values and ideals of the
Letter to the United States Air Force Academy:
you so.” (w/full text; Daily Kos, January 12, 2021)
The MRFF now calls on the Air Force Academy to not only
clearly and publicly condemn the actions of its graduate, Mr.
Brock, in the harshest possible manner, but also to call on
all other USAFA graduates who attended the insurrection to
identify themselves and either turn themselves in to police if
they broke the law or disavow the violence and storming of the
Capitol—if they, themselves, behaved in an otherwise peaceful
We know that one graduate, a newly elected Republican member
of Congress from Texas, August Pfluger, embarrassed a
multitude of fellow USAFA graduates by objecting to the
results of the largest and most scandal-free election in
American history—and for that he is complicit in encouraging
this mob and should be held responsible for the physical and
moral damage caused to our Capitol and the Republic.
The USAFA must address its decades old, complicit role in
developing fundamentalist Christian religious/political
extremists who are now widely serving in our military. It
must, as well, hold itself responsible for creating horrors
like Mr. Brock in the same way it does USAFA graduate heroes
whom we praise on the other end of the patriotic spectrum.
We told you this was happening. We told you the consequences.
his first public appearance since the Capitol siege, Trump
expresses no contrition for inciting the mob.
Times, January 12, 2021)
President Trump on Tuesday showed no contrition or regret for
instigating the mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened
the lives of members of Congress and his vice president,
saying that his remarks to a rally beforehand were “totally
appropriate” and that the effort by Congress to impeach and
convict him was “causing tremendous anger.”
Answering questions from reporters for the first time since
the violence at the Capitol on Wednesday, Mr. Trump
sidestepped questions about his culpability in the deadly riot
that shook the nation’s long tradition of peaceful transfers
of power. “People thought what I said was totally
appropriate,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews
in Maryland, en route to Alamo, Texas, where he was set to
visit the wall along the Mexican border. Instead, Mr. Trump
claimed that protests against racial injustice over the summer
were “the real problem.”
Earlier, he asserted that it was the impeachment charge, not
the violence and ransacking of the Capitol, that was “causing
Mr. Trump had been largely silent since Friday, when Twitter
permanently suspended his account. When asked directly on
Tuesday morning if he would resign with just nine days left in
office, Mr. Trump said, “I want no violence.”
He did not address his own role in inciting the mob of his
supporters. Instead, Mr. Trump framed himself as a victim,
calling impeachment a "continuation of the greatest witch hunt
in the history of politics. I think it’s causing tremendous
“The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me,” he said. “But it
will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden
administration. As the expression goes, be careful what you
Dr. John Dennehy: What Does SARS-CoV-2 Evolution Mean for
the Future of the Pandemic?
(59-min. video; Queens
College, January 12, 2021)
Dr. Dennehy’s laboratory researches virus evolution, ecology,
population dynamics, and the emergence of viruses in new host
populations. Currently, the laboratory’s main focus if
two-fold: modeling the persistence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in
the built environment and monitoring SARS-CoV-2 genetic
diversity in NYC wastewater.
[Excellent presentation, with good charts.]
Democrats propose $1,000 fine for members of Congress who
don't wear masks on Capitol grounds.
(USA Today, January
The bill was filed less than a week after a pro-Trump mob
stormed and ransacked the Capitol, causing members of Congress
to be in lockdown in secure locations within the Capitol
complex, where officials say they may have been exposed to the
“It is not brave to refuse to wear a mask, it is selfish,
stupid, and shameful behavior that puts lives at risk,”
Dingell said in a press release. “We’re done playing games.
Either have some common sense and wear a damn mask or pay a
fine. It’s not that complicated.”
“No Member of Congress should be able to ignore the rules or
put others at risk without penalty,” Brown said. “As the
people’s representatives, it is critical that we set an
example for the rest of the country. If Members jeopardize the
safety of others, they should face fines.”
Many Democratic lawmakers have complained that several
Republican colleagues refused to wear personal protective
equipment offered during the Capitol riots last week. In the
days since, Reps. Bonnie Coleman, D-N.J., Brad Schneider,
D-Illin., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., have all tested
positive for the virus. "Any Member who refuses to wear a mask
should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives
because of their selfish idiocy," Jayapal tweeted after her
Hartmann: Will the “Trump Train's” 3rd attempted coup be
(Medium, January 12, 2021)
Twice before, oligarchs have attempted to overthrow the
government of the United States. This time they might succeed.
It’s all one thing, an effort to overthrow the elected
government of the United States, and the oligarchs and
fascists aren’t done yet. They want complete control of
When Donald Trump first ran for president, it was a stunt to
squeeze more money out of NBC and to polish his brand.
But when he was unexpectedly elected, he took cues from the
corrupt oligarchs he admired around the world and began a
serious project to remake and remold America in their image.
The first country he visited as president, in fact, was the
oligarchy of Saudi Arabia, which he effusively praised.
When he proclaimed after his election that there were
3,000,000 “illegal votes” for Hillary Clinton, he was setting
up today’s oligarchic takeover attempt by denigrating the
American electoral system. He knew from the example of what
oligarchs elsewhere in the world had successfully done that if
he could convince enough Americans that our election system
was “rigged,” he could ignore elections in the future.
Democrats Briefed On 3 More Terrifying Plots To Overthrow
(Huffington Post, January 12, 2021)
On a private call Monday night, new leaders of the Capitol
Police told House Democrats they were closely monitoring three
separate plans that could pose serious threats to members of
Congress as Washington prepares for Democrat Joe Biden’s
presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. Democrats were told that
the Capitol Police and the National Guard were preparing for
potentially tens of thousands of armed protesters coming to
Washington and were establishing rules of engagement for
warfare. In general, the military and police don’t plan to
shoot anyone until one of the rioters fires, but there could
The first is a demonstration billed as the “largest armed
protest ever to take place on American soil.”
Another is a protest in honor of Ashli Babbitt, the woman
killed while trying to climb into the Speaker’s Lobby during
Wednesday’s pro-Trump siege of the Capitol.
And another demonstration, which three members said was by far
the most concerning plot, would involve insurrectionists
forming a perimeter around the Capitol. Lawmakers were told
that the plot to encircle the Capitol also included plans to
surround the White House ― so that no one could harm Trump ―
and the Supreme Court, simply to shut down the courts. The
plan to surround the Capitol includes assassinating Democrats
as well as Republicans who didn’t support Trump’s effort to
overturn the election ― and allowing other Republicans to
enter the building and control government.
scrape puts some Capitol rioters in legal jeopardy.
(Washington Post, January 12, 2021)
Researchers and analysts say a trove of data archived from
conservative-favored social media app Parler poses a real risk
for those who used the platform to share their involvement in
a pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol. “It's
mind-blowing. The potential effects go well beyond tagging who
participated in the takeover of the Capitol,” said Peter
Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at the New America
The archive, which was scraped by a self-described hacker who
goes by the Twitter handle @donk_enby, represents up to 99.9
percent of the data from Parler before Amazon's cloud services
took it offline Monday, Gizmodo's Dell Cameron first reported.
Some of the rioters who attacked the Capitol last week, hoping
to overturn the presidential election, had posted their plans
on Parler, which was also removed from Apple and Google's app
stores in the riot's aftermath.
Law enforcement officials have since used the rioters own
social media accounts to help track them down and arrest them.
That means information archived from sites like Parler, which
also includes millions of posts that users deleted, could be
used to implicate those who stormed the Capitol and committed
possible crimes. The underlying data attached to the posts,
including location data, could be matched with information
from other online forums, such as Facebook, Singer says.
Residents Petition To Oust Official Seen At Capitol Riot.
(Patch News, January 12, 2021)
In Natick, over 500 residents signed a petition to oust a Town
Meeting member after she was photographed inside the U.S.
Capitol during Wednesday's riot. Sue Ianni was photographed in
the Capitol building with her fist raised in a large crowd.
[On Jan. 9th (see below), Sue Ianni refused to say whether she
entered the Capitol or not. Also: Bedford Town Flag Spotted At
get our President or we die": FBI issued dire warning day
before Capitol riots.
(36-min. video; USA Today, January
The FBI issued a dire internal warning on the day before the
Capitol riots that violent extremists were planning an armed
uprising in Washington that the attackers described as "war"
to coincide with Congress' counting state-certified Electoral
College votes to confirm the election of Joe Biden, The
Washington Post reported Tuesday. The intelligence report,
prepared by the FBI's Norfolk office, described an array of
preparations for an assault to include a map of Capitol-area
tunnels and staging areas in in Kentucky, Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania and South Carolina. “An online thread discussed
specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to
fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being
kicked in,'" the Post reported, quoting from the document's
contents. "Go there ready for war. We get our President or we
die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”
warns of plans for nationwide armed protests next week.
(Politico, January 11, 2021)
An internal FBI bulletin warned that, as of Sunday, the
nationwide protests may start later this week and extend
through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Capitol Riot, Republican Lawmakers Fanned the Flames.
(New York Times, January 11, 2021)
A “1776 moment”: Several of the president’s closest allies in
Congress used bellicose language to urge their supporters to
attend the Jan. 6 rally that turned into a deadly riot.
should schools teach kids about what happened at the US
Capitol on Jan. 6?
We asked 6 education experts. (The
Conversation, January 11, 2021)
Teachers shouldn't avoid this topic, no matter how
uncomfortable it might make them to discuss it with children
Belichick Turns Down Trump's Offer, Cites Freedom,
(Patch News, January 11, 2021)
The New England Patriots coach said in a statement that he
will not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom this week.
military has a hate group problem. But it doesn't know how
bad it's gotten.
(Politico, January 11, 2021)
The rise of extremism in the ranks is seen as a "crisis issue"
but the military's efforts to weed out radicals are
"haphazard" at best.
Concludes Anti-Harassment Official Wrote Racist Online
(New York Times, January 11, 2021)
The official, James F. Kobel, who will now face a departmental
trial, filed for retirement as the inquiry was winding down.
N.J. lawmaker tests positive after being in lockdown in
(New York Times, January 11, 2021)
Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey tested
positive for the coronavirus on Monday — an infection she
believes is linked to the time she spent in a secure location
with colleagues who refused to wear masks during Wednesday’s
siege of the U.S. Capitol. “It angers me when they refuse to
adhere to the directions about keeping their masks on,” Ms.
Watson Coleman, a Democrat, said in an interview. “It comes
off to me as arrogance and defiance. And you can be both, but
not at the expense of someone else.”
Is Gone, But Hackers Say They Downloaded Everything First.
(Vice, January 11, 2021)
Right-wing social network Parler was taken offline in the
early hours of Monday morning, but not before a hacker found a
way to download all data posted by users — including messages,
images, videos, and users’ location data — shared during last
week’s attack on the Capitol. The downloaded data is now being
processed before being uploaded to the Internet Archive, where
anyone will be able to view or download it — including the
open-source intelligence community and law enforcement
Trump supporters are already voicing their concerns about what
the data dump could expose about them and their activity in
Washington, D.C. last week. “Bad news. Left extremists have
captured and archived over 70TB of data from Parler servers.
This includes posts, personal information, locations, videos,
images, etc,” a Telegram account called North Central Florida
Patriots said on Monday morning. “The intent is a mass dox and
a list to hold patriots ‘accountable’. It is too late to scrub
your data, and it’s already archived. There is nothing you can
do to prevent what’s already happened. All you can do is
prepare for the fallout. Accountability may come in many forms
for our free speech, doxing, jobs might be called, addresses
leaked and people coming to your house, etc.”
of Republicans Blame Biden for the Capitol Riot!
(25-min. video; The Young Turks, January 11, 2021)
Roots of Josh Hawley’s Rage
(New York Times, January 11,
Why do so many Republicans appear to be at war with both truth
In today’s Republican Party, the path to power is to build up
a lie in order to overturn democracy. At least that is what
Senator Josh Hawley was telling us when he offered a
clenched-fist salute to the pro-Trump mob before it ransacked
the Capitol, and it is the same message he delivered on the
floor of the Senate in the aftermath of the attack, when he
doubled down on the lies about electoral fraud that incited
the insurrection in the first place. How did we get to the
point where one of the bright young stars of the Republican
Party appears to be at war with both truth and democracy?
The line of thought here is starkly binary and nihilistic. It
says that human existence in an inevitably pluralistic, modern
society committed to equality is inherently worthless. It
comes with the idea that a right-minded elite of religiously
pure individuals should aim to capture the levers of
government, then use that power to rescue society from eternal
darkness and reshape it in accord with a divinely-approved
view of righteousness.
At the heart of Mr. Hawley’s condemnation of our terrifyingly
Pelagian world lies a dark conclusion about the achievements
of modern, liberal, pluralistic societies. When he was still
attorney general, William Barr articulated this conclusion in
a speech at the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he
blamed “the growing ascendancy of secularism” for amplifying
“virtually every measure of social pathology,” and maintained
that “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a
religious people.” Christian nationalists’ acceptance of
President Trump’s spectacular turpitude these past four years
was a good measure of just how dire they think our situation
is. Even a corrupt sociopath was better, in their eyes, than
the horrifying freedom that religious moderates and liberals,
along with the many Americans who don’t happen to be
religious, offer the world.
Although many of the foot soldiers in the assault on the
Capitol appear to have been white males aligned with white
supremacist movements, it would be a mistake to overlook the
powerful role of the rhetoric of religious nationalism in
their ranks. At a rally in Washington on Jan. 5, on the eve of
Electoral College certification, the right-wing pastor Greg
Locke said that God is raising up “an army of patriots.”
Another pastor, Brian Gibson, put it this way: “The church of
the Lord Jesus Christ started America,” and added, “We’re
going to take our nation back!” In the aftermath of the Jan. 6
insurrection, a number of Christian nationalist leaders issued
statements condemning violence — on both sides. How very kind
of them. But few if any appear willing to acknowledge the
instrumental role they played in perpetuating the fraudulent
allegations of a stolen election that were at the root of the
Over the past few days, following his participation in the
failed efforts to overturn the election, Mr. Hawley’s career
prospects may have dimmed. Two of his home state newspapers
have called for his resignation; his political mentor, John C.
Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, has
described his earlier support for Mr. Hawley as “the biggest
mistake I’ve ever made”; and Simon & Schuster dropped his
book. On the other hand, there is some reporting that suggests
his complicity in efforts to overturn the election may have
boosted his standing with Mr. Trump’s base. But the question
that matters is not whether Mr. Hawley stays or goes, but
whether he is simply replaced by the next wannabe demagogue in
line. We are about to find out whether there are leaders of
principle left in today’s Republican Party.
in a Worse Place Today Than We Were Before He Came In.’
(Foreign Policy, January 11, 2021)
Former U.S. Secretary of State (and Exxon CEO) Rex Tillerson
on the mess Donald Trump is leaving behind.
New Criminal Problem
(Politico, January 11, 2021)
The president could face charges for inciting the Capitol
riot—and maybe even for inciting the murder of a Capitol
Police Officer. The federal criminal code (18 USC 373) makes
it a crime to solicit, command, induce or “endeavor to
persuade” another person to commit a felony that includes the
threat or use of physical force. Simply put, it is a crime to
persuade another person, or a mob of several thousand, to
commit a violent felony.
From the early results of the investigation, we know that
several insurrectionists already have been charged with
felonies. However, the crime posing the biggest problem for
the president could be having solicited the mob into a
seditious conspiracy. The federal criminal code makes it a
crime for “two or more persons … to oppose by force the
authority [of the United States] or by force to prevent,
hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United
States” (18 USC 2384). That felony, including the use of
force, clearly was committed by the mob after being encouraged
by the president.
to vote Wednesday as Pelosi gets the votes to impeach Trump.
(Politico, January 11, 2021)
Momentum to impeach the president a second time has only grown
since last Wednesday's attack. Key members of the House
Judiciary Committee introduced a single article of impeachment
Monday that has already gathered at least 218 cosponsors,
according to a congressional aide involved in the process,
meeting the majority needed for passage in the House.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team informed members
on a private call Monday they will need to return to the
Capitol — for many, the first time since the Jan. 6 attacks —
on Tuesday night. Impeachment is scheduled for consideration
at 9 a.m. Wednesday, if Trump refuses to resign and Vice
President Mike Pence won’t initiate other procedures to remove
impeachment charge against Trump is introduced as
Republicans block a measure demanding Pence act.
video; New York Times, January 11, 2021)
House Democrats on Monday introduced an article of impeachment
against President Trump for inciting a mob that attacked the
Capitol last week, vowing to press the charge as Republicans
blocked a separate move to formally call on Vice President
Mike Pence to strip him of power under the 25th Amendment.
The dual actions came as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her caucus
sought to ratchet up pressure on Mr. Pence to intervene and
push Mr. Trump to resign. If they did not, the Democrats
promised immediate consequences for Mr. Trump’s role in an
attack that put the lives of the vice president, members of
Congress and thousands of staff working on Capitol Hill at
risk as officials met to formalize President-elect Joseph R.
Biden Jr.’s victory. “The president’s threat to America is
urgent, and so too will be our action,” Ms. Pelosi said on
cuts to the point: "We came close to half of the House
nearly dying on Wednesday."
(Daily Kos, January 10,
“Our main priority is to ensure the removal of Donald Trump as
President of the United State,” Ocasio-Cortez told
Stephanopoulos. “Every minute and every that he is in office
represents a clear and present danger not just to the United
States Congress but to the country. But in addition to
removal, we’re also talking about completely barring the
president—or rather, Donald Trump—from running for office ever
again. And in addition to that, the potential ability to
prevent pardoning himself from those charges that he was
A number of Republicans who implored President-elect Biden to
forego impeachment for the sake of “unity,” arguing that it is
“unnecessary” and “inflammatory.” The group of House
Republicans, led by Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, wrote: “In the
spirit of healing and fidelity to our Constitution, we ask
that you formally request that Speaker Nancy Pelosi
discontinue her efforts to impeach President Donald J. Trump a
To that, Ocasio-Cortez hammered down on the point that what
happened this past week was an “insurrection against the
United States.” The New York City progressive argued that
“healing” requires “accountability.” She pointed out that if
we allow insurrection to happen with impunity, “we are
inviting it to happen again. We came close to half of the
House nearly dying on Wednesday. If a foreign head of state,
if another head of state, came in and ordered an attack on the
United States Congress, would we say that should not be
prosecuted? Would we say that there should be absolutely no
response to that? No. It is an act of insurrection. It is an
act of hostility.” She stressed that without accountability,
“it will happen again.”
[And from its Comments thread:
- When 45% of the House is in favor of a radical right-wing
revolution even after its first fascistic sortie fails, it’s
time to stop calling it a "conservative electorate".
- There are a lot of rats who can’t be trusted who are now
pleading for unity. History has shown over and over again that
dictators, fascists and autocrats often play the accepted
mainstream political game until they get their opening to make
their move. I feel a lot of these Trump supporters (not all)
who now condemn him and what happened would be singing a
different tune if Trump had succeeded. They can never be
trusted to put their country first….as the term goes “ALL
enemies foreign and domestic”. They have shown they won’t
stand up for their country because they have supported Trump
bringing us to this point. A lot of the wolves are trying to
pass themselves off as sheep because Trump screwed up and blew
it as is his lifelong historical pattern. If they manage to
get a more competent leader they will be back at it again,
trying to tear down our democracy and dismantle our government
and trying to remove or nullify our checks and balances.
- Thank you for including: “ALL enemies foreign and domestic”.
The GOPers somehow keep forgetting.
- By dangling the lure of national “Unity” in front of
optimistic democrats, the GOP has managed to drag the whole
country toward the extreme right wing, step by traitorous
House could vote as soon as Tuesday on an impeachment
(New York Times, January 10, 2021)
The No. 3 House Democrat said on Sunday that the chamber could
vote as soon as Tuesday on an article of impeachment charging
President Trump with inciting a violent mob that attacked the
Capitol — but then delay sending it to the Senate for trial.
Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the
Democratic whip, said that the vast majority of House
Democrats believed the president must be impeached for his
conduct but that top leaders were still trying to determine
how to punish Mr. Trump without hamstringing the first days of
Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency with an all-consuming Senate
trial. They recognized it would be impossible to impeach and
hold a trial before Mr. Trump leaves office in 10 days, he
said. “If we are the people’s house, let’s do the people’s
work and let’s vote to impeach this president,” Mr. Clyburn
said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate will decide later what
to do with that impeachment.”
‘Make America Great Again’ Myth Reaches Its Catastrophic
(Huffington Post, January 10, 2021)
Reflections on violence in the heart of the American empire.
A deranged mob of Americans, fueled by lies about election
fraud peddled by the president of the United States along with
multiple senators and House members, sacked the U.S. Capitol
on Wednesday as part of an insurrection encouraged by Donald
Trump to stop the constitutional process allowing for the
peaceful transfer of power taking place within the building.
“[Y]ou’ll never take back your country with weakness,” Trump
told the rioters immediately before they marched on the
Capitol. “You have to show strength and be strong.”
On the grounds outside, rioters erected a giant wooden cross
and a gallows with a noose. Reporters were beaten and
threatened with death. Their cameras and equipment were
smashed and burned. Echoing Trump’s long-standing calls that
the press were the enemy of the people, rioters scrawled
“Murder the media,” on a Capitol doorway. A rioter murdered a
police officer with a fire extinguisher. Another rioter was
shot dead by a police officer while trying to break into House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chambers. In perhaps the most indelible
image, rioters commandeered a scaffold and used it to take
down an American flag and replace it with a Trump “Make
America Great Again” flag. This was the catastrophic and
prophetic culmination of the Make America Great Again myth.
Trump’s supporters were not taking his words either literally
or seriously, they were taking them mythically. When Trump
entered the political fray in 2015, he gave the supporters of
the conservative movement that came to dominate the Republican
Party since the end of World War II a political myth they
could die for. And myths, for the believer, cannot be refuted.
A political myth is a narrative cast in dramatic form that
provides a practical explanation of present events to a
specific group at a time or place. Political myths provide
meaning, direction and purpose through an interpretation of
what the group of believers takes to be reality. They
mythologize and interpret real events, and historical facts
can be altered to suit the myth’s purpose. There are many
kinds of political myths. There are foundation myths, like the
Myth of the American Founding Fathers and the 1776 Revolution,
the Roman Foundation Myth or the Soviet Myth of the October
Revolution. And there are other political organizing myths,
like the Myth of Norman Yoke, the Confederate Lost Cause Myth
or the Myth of the U.S. Constitution.
But what Trump presents under the banner of “Make America
Great Again” is an apocalyptic, or eschatological, myth. It is
a myth foretelling a great and cataclysmic future event where
deliverance will arrive through the exertion and sacrifice of
the believers. The present order will be swept away and either
a new one will take its place or an older order will be
majestically restored. “Politicians have used you and stolen
your votes,” Trump said while campaigning in 2016. “They have
given you nothing. I will give you everything. I will give you
what you’ve been looking for for 50 years. I’m the only one.”
The catastrophic Make America Great Again myth came to
fruition, and it played out on Capitol Hill. What it
ultimately amounted to is not clear, but that is beside the
point, as Sorel argued when he defended the myth of the
general strike and its utility for socialism. “Even if the
only result of the idea of the general strike was to make the
socialist conception more heroic, it should on that account
alone be looked upon as having an incalculable value,” Sorel
wrote. The same holds true for the Make America Great Again
myth. Non-believers, however, will have to wait to see what
catastrophe it anticipates next.
Schwarzenegger calls Trump 'worst president' ever, 'failed
leader' after Capitol riot.
; Huffington Post, January 10, 2021)
The former California governor released a video message on
Sunday addressing the deadly riot in which he slammed Trump
supporters and “complicit” members of the Republican Party,
who he said have “enabled [Trump’s] lies and his treachery”
for far too long. “I grew up in Austria. I’m very aware of
Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass. It was a night of
rampage against the Jews in 1938 by the Nazi equivalent of the
Proud Boys,” he explained, in the nearly eight-minute-long
video. “Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in
the United States,” he continued. “The broken glass was in the
windows of the United States Capitol. But the mob did not just
shatter the windows of the Capitol. They shattered the ideas
we took for granted. They did not just break down the doors of
the building that housed American democracy; they trampled the
very principles in which our nation was founded.”
“President Trump sought to overturn the results ... of a fair
election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies,” he
said. “I know where such lies lead. President Trump is a
failed leader. He will go down in history as the worst
president ever. The good thing is he will soon be as
irrelevant as an old tweet.”
Schwarzenegger went on to reproach his fellow Republicans,
asserting that those who’ve stood by Trump should be held
accountable. “A number of members of my own party, because of
their own spinelessness ... They’re complicit with those who
carried the flag of self righteous insurrection into the
Capitol,” he said.
He concluded the video by wishing President-elect Joe Biden
“great success” when he takes office later this month, and
calling for bipartisan unity. “We need to heal, not just as
Republicans or as Democrats, but as Americans,” he said. “Now
to begin this process, no matter what your political
affiliation is, I ask you to join me in saying to
President-elect Biden, ‘President-elect Biden, we wish you
great success as our president. If you succeed, our nation
succeeds. We support you with all our hearts as you seek to
bring us together.’”
Narcissist in Chief Brings It All Crashing Down.
York Times, January 10, 2021)
An ending as terrible as it was predictable engulfs the
president and the country.
Our president has never been a very stable man. But I’m trying
to think of what threshold of loco he had to clear in order
for one of his senior advisers to confide in my colleague
Maggie Haberman that Donald J. Trump “lost it” on the day of
the insurrection. Or for an administration official to
describe him as “a total monster” to The Washington Post the
next day. Or for Representative Adam Kinzinger, a member of
Trump’s own party, to call for the cabinet and the vice
president to invoke the 25th Amendment because we require “a
sane captain of the ship” to steer us through the
administration’s final days, and “all indications are that the
president has become unmoored, not just from his duty, or even
his oath, but from reality itself.” Our president has always
been out there. But on Jan. 6, 2021, he clearly reached escape
velocity and hurtled into space.
We shouldn’t be surprised. The president’s flight into the
ozone of crazy was as inevitable as the country’s descent into
anarchy — and almost certainly intertwined. Trump, as I and
many others have noted, impeccably meets the criteria of a
malignant narcissist, and he has a defect in moral conscience
that is emblematic of psychopaths. People like this do not
react well to being fired, divorced or kicked out of any club.
They’re ego hemophiliacs. Their self-esteem cannot
self-repair. And so the president is now doing exactly what
all pathological narcissists of the malignant, conscience-free
variety do when they’ve been given the boot. They behave
dangerously. They claim they are victims. They lie, reject
facts and call foul play. They blame everything — and everyone
— for their failures except themselves. They accuse even their
most loyal supporters of treachery.
And most important, they lash out with a mighty
vindictiveness, often destroying the very institution — or
spouse, family, whatever it is — they were once sworn to
nurture. Which in this case is democracy itself. Trump is a
man who found failure so intolerable, so humiliating, that he
was willing to incite an acre-wide mob to violent
insurrection, both in and around the Capitol, on Congress’s
election certification day. Either he would get what he wanted
or no one would. Five are now dead.
member declared "Today is 1776," tweeted re Pelosi's
location during insurrection.
(Daily Kos, January 10,
Lauren Opal Boebert, 34-year-old firearms enthusiast,
covid-restrictions refusenik, QAnon sympathizer, somehow or
other brand-new newly-sworn-in member of Congress from the
third district of Colorado (western slice of the state), and
electoral-vote rejecter, tweeting 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday,
before the coup attempt started: "Today is 1776." Another
connection that may shed light on Boebert’s, “Today is 1776.”:
“(Ali) Alexander led a host of activists threatening to
'1776'...opponents of Trump’s re-election.”
And here is her comment on the state of things today: "In the
past 5 days the left has shown us what vile hypocrites they
truly are. They are driven by hate, projection and endless
conspiracy theories." - which probably deserves some kind of
Olympic award for gaslighting.
Militia Men Rail Against Mitch McConnell In Kentucky, Hail
(Huffington Post, January 10, 2021)
Dozens of heavily armed self-described militia members dressed
in camouflage descended on Kentucky’s statehouse Saturday to
loudly bash Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and
praise the Donald Trump-supporting rioters who stormed the
nation’s Capitol. The men, toting rifles and zip ties, also
railed against socialism, communism, and Kentucky’s Democratic
Gov. Andy Beshear. They were there to demand the democratic
election for president be overturned.
arrests Nashville zip-tie suspect and another from assault
on U.S. Capitol.
(Nashville TN NewsChannel5 TV, January
A self-described "hidden patriot" from Nashville, outed on
social media as a rioter who invaded the U.S. Senate chambers
Wednesday with a weapon and zip-tie handcuffs, was arrested
Sunday on federal charges. FBI agents took Eric Gavelek
Munchel, age 30, into custody on a federal arrest warrant
charging him with one count of knowingly entering or remaining
in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority
and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on
A video, livestreamed in the hours after the riot, showing the
pair having drinks in the lobby of a Washington, D.C., hotel.
Munchel was still wearing the same camouflage clothing. One of
the interviewers noted that he had an empty holster on his
right side. "It's just a Taser, but the police came and took
it away from me," Munchel said. "They didn't like it because
of tonight. They said I couldn't open carry a Taser." Munchel
described himself as "a hidden patriot ready to jump off."
From there, the crowdsourcing effort led Internet sleuths to
Munchel's Facebook page, where his own livestreamed video
showed him walking to the Capitol with the same woman and
other Trump supporters.
Munchel is believed to be employed at a Nashville bar that has
opposed Cooper's restriction on bars in response to the
COVID-19 pandemic. After he became the object of social media
speculation, he apparently disabled his Facebook page.
The U.S. Department of Justice also announced agents had also
arrested Larry Rendell Brock, of Texas. Brock was identified
as one of the individuals who unlawfully entered the U.S.
Capitol wearing a green helmet, green tactical vest with
patches, black and camo jacket, and beige pants holding a
white flex cuff, which is used by law enforcement to restrain
and/or detain subjects, the DOJ said.
Police Officer Eugene Goodman hailed a ‘hero’ for diverting
mob from Senate chambers.
(Independent/UK, January 10,
The officer appears to strategically divert the mob away from
Senate entrance, where lawmakers were convening to certify the
2020 presidential election.
Post reporter Igor Bobic describes Officer Goodman's saving
maneuver in the Capitol riot.
(4-min. video; Good
Morning America/ABC, January 7, 2021)
Igor Bobic, who was in the Capitol building when protesters
pushed their way in, filmed them as they entered the Senate
Black Police Officer saved America on Wednesday. Say His
(Daily Kos, January 10, 2021)
I saw Officer EUGENE GOODMAN make himself bait as white
domestic terrorists chased him up several flights of stairs in
the Capitol on Wednesday. I watched the footage and wondered
why did he repeatedly stop to goad them, then lead them on,
stop to goad again, then lead them on. Well, now we know. This
man risked his life to give the members of the Senate enough
time to clear the area. This country did not earn in any way,
shape, or form, the sacrifice this man made to save the
nation. And he was able to do what he did WITHOUT FIRING A
SHOT. Cause if he did shoot… oh boy White America would have
had some thoughts. And not just on the right. I am grateful he
did not lose his life. Cause Lord knows white America would
have gladly just made him a martyr and political talking
point. Black America has given this country enough martyrs. If
not for the action of this one person, democracy might have
died on Wednesday.
the Capitol siege: How barricaded lawmakers and aides
sounded urgent pleas for help as police lost control.
(Washington Post, January 10, 2021)
By around 1 p.m., as the joint session began, the mood in the
crowd outside began to shift. Trump had just given a one-hour
speech to thousands of supporters amassed on the Ellipse near
the White House, excoriating his enemies and reiterating his
baseless claims of fraud. GOP lawmakers, he emphasized, needed
to take a stand. “We’re going to the Capitol,” he said. “We’re
going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that
they need to take back our country.” The president added: “If
you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country
anymore.” Trump returned to the White House; he did not go to
Capitol Hill. But his supporters began streaming east along
Lawmakers inside were still being evacuated when, around a
side entrance, the mob came much closer to breaking their way
onto the House floor — less than 10 feet away from an open
door into the chamber. Dozens of rioters pressed against
police trying to block their entry into the Speaker’s Lobby.
Several officers left their post seconds before much heavily
armed reinforcements showed up. But in those few seconds, the
rioters smashed in the windows of the doors to the Speaker’s
Lobby and were on the verge of entering the House chamber.
“There’s a gun! There’s a gun!’ one rioter screamed, then an
officer fired into the crowd. Trump supporter and Air Force
veteran Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old California native, was
At 2:11 p.m. on the Senate side, Vice President Pence sat in
the chair of the presiding officer when aides started
motioning to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) that he had to
replace him. The vice president hurried out a door. At that
moment, one floor below, rioters had crashed through windows
and climbed into the Capitol and clashed with police,
including a lone Black Capitol police officer who tried to
prevent them from ascending toward the Senate chamber. A video
captured by Igor Bobic, a congressional reporter for HuffPost
on the scene, shows the officer trying to hold back a few
dozen rioters who push him back and up the steps leading
almost directly to the chamber. For almost a minute, the
officer held them back — at the exact moment that, inside the
Senate, police were frantically racing around the chamber
trying to lock down more than a dozen doors leading to the
chamber floor and the galleries above. “Second floor!” the
officer yelled into his radio, alerting other officers and
command that the mob had reached the precipice of the Senate.
Had the rioters turned right, they would have been a few feet
away from the main entrance into the chamber. On the other
side of that door, had they made their way into the Senate,
were at least a half-dozen armed officers, including one with
a semiautomatic weapon in the middle of the floor scanning
each entrance for intruders.
Natural Phenomenon, Rime Ice, Has Been Popping Up In
Massachusetts And It’s Breathtaking.
Only In Your State, January 10, 2021)
While this kind of ice has many names from rime ice to hoar
frost, it leaves a breathtaking scenery no matter what you
call it. Let’s learn about the natural phenomenon that tends
to pop up throughout Massachusetts in the winter.
Hossenfelder: The Mathematics of Consciousness
video; BackReaction, January 9, 2021)
Physicists like to think they can explain everything, and
that, of course, includes human consciousness. And so in the
last few decades they’ve set out to demystify the brain by
throwing math at the problem. I find it to be a really
interesting development that physicists take on consciousness,
and so, today I want to talk a little about ideas for how
consciousness can be described mathematically, how that’s
going so far, and what we can hope to learn from it in the
House Forced Georgia U.S. Attorney to Resign.
Street Journal, January 9, 2021)
Pressure for resignation was part of broader push by President
Trump to overturn state’s election results.
Officials Reveal Third Trump Call Trying to Influence
(New York Times, January 9, 2021)
More than a week before President Trump called Georgia’s
secretary of state, pressuring him to “find” votes to help
overturn his electoral loss, the president made another call,
this one to a top Georgia elections investigator, in which he
asked the investigator to “find the fraud” in the state. The
earlier phone call, which Mr. Trump made in late December, was
first reported today by The Washington Post.
In the December call, Mr. Trump said the investigator would be
a “national hero” for finding evidence of fraud. The call
occurred as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office
was conducting an audit of more than 15,000 ballots in
Cobb County, a populous suburb of Atlanta that was formerly a
Republican stronghold but voted against Mr. Trump in both 2016
and 2020. The audit appeared to be an effort to placate
Mr. Trump and his allies, who repeatedly, and baselessly,
argued that he lost the election in Georgia by around 12,000
votes due to a “rigged” system. The president also repeatedly
alleged that there were problems with the signature-matching
system by which elections officials in the state verify the
identity of absentee voters. On December 29, the office of Mr.
Raffensperger, a Republican, announced that the audit had
found no evidence of fraud.
Earlier in December, Mr. Trump made a third call, this one to
Gov. Brian Kemp, urging him to call a special session of the
Georgia legislature in hopes that lawmakers would overturn the
election results. In a television interview on Monday, Mr.
Raffensperger was asked if his office would open an
investigation into the president’s phone call with him. He
replied that because he had been on the Jan. 2 call, he might
have a conflict of interest and suggested instead that such an
investigation might be in the works by the Fulton County
district attorney, Fani Willis.
Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger have rejected all of Mr.
Trump’s efforts to get them to help him overturn the election
results, even though both are conservative Republicans and
Trump supporters. Mr. Trump has publicly attacked both men,
spreading a baseless conspiracy theory about Mr.
Raffensperger’s brother and promising that he would back a
candidate in the Republican primary to challenge Mr. Kemp, who
is up for re-election next year.
The new details about the president’s personal pressure
campaign on Georgia officials comes as Democrats in the House
of Representatives announced their plans to introduce an
article of impeachment against the president for “willfully
inciting violence against the government of the United
States,” a reference to the pro-Trump mob that violently
attacked the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. Mr. Trump is also facing
growing calls to resign, while his cabinet is under pressure
to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
Backlash, Republicans Confront Trump’s Effect on Their
(1-min. video; New York Times, January 9, 2021)
In encounters with their constituents this week, Republican
lawmakers have grappled with the consequences of their
years-long alliance with President Trump: an angry,
When a distraught constituent accosted her on Tuesday night at
a restaurant in the nation’s capital, Representative Nancy
Mace confronted an impossible task that sprang from President
Trump’s false promises: getting them to understand why she and
other Republicans in Congress could not simply overturn the
results of the election. Driven by Mr. Trump’s fictitious
claims that the election had been stolen from him — and that
lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence could clinch him
another four years in power during Congress’s official
electoral count — the voter had come all the way from Ms.
Mace’s home state of South Carolina to witness it. Now, the
voter, shaking and in tears, demanded to know why Ms. Mace, a
first-term congresswoman, had refused to join the effort.
Calm but firm, Ms. Mace tried to explain that it was not
Congress’s role to subvert the results of an election — and
that to do so would defy the Constitution. “It didn’t matter
what I said,” Ms. Mace said in an interview. “They didn’t
Similar scenes — sometimes painful, always unresolvable —
played out again and again in Washington this week in the
hours before and after a violent mob urged on by Mr. Trump
stormed the Capitol, as Republican voters loyal to the
president cornered Republican lawmakers who voted to certify
the election results, demanding answers and promising revenge.
The confrontations — and the scenes of mayhem that unfolded on
Wednesday — have brought Republicans face to face with the
consequences of their years-long alliance with Mr. Trump,
providing human evidence of the downside of his deep influence
on the voters who form their party’s base. It helps explain
the searing anger that has prompted many Republicans to
belatedly turn against Mr. Trump after years of enabling him
and seeking his validation. But it also reflects the conundrum
in which the Republican Party finds itself, beholden to voters
who have internalized the president’s falsehoods and been
emboldened by his divisive talk.
“Their hearts, minds and wallets were taken advantage of,” Ms.
Mace said, her voice rising in fury. “Millions of people
across the country who were lied to. These individuals, these
hardworking Americans truly believe that the Congress can
overturn the Electoral College.” Many Republican members of
Congress stoked that belief this week when they objected to
Mr. Biden’s victory in battleground states and backed the
challenges in votes that illustrated their party’s rift. In
the House, more than half the Republicans, including the
party’s top two leaders, voted in support of the challenges,
while in the Senate, fewer than 10 Republicans did so and the
leaders were vocally opposed.
The videos that emerged from the standoffs dramatized the
yawning distance between elected Republicans in Washington who
are increasingly desperate to peel away from the president and
their constituents who say they will never let go.
lectern thief and horn-helmeted suspect arrested in
connection with Capitol riot.
(ABC News, January 9,
Federal authorities say they've arrested two of the alleged
Capitol rioters who went viral for their part in the siege of
Adam Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Florida, who was seen in a viral
photograph carrying Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern through the
halls, is being held in Pinellas County Jail and pending
charges after federal marshals picked him up Friday night,
according to the United States Attorney’s Office of the
District of Columbia.
The U.S. Attorney's office also arrested Jacob Anthony
Chansley, a.k.a. "Jake Angeli," Saturday. Investigators said
he was the man seen in viral photos of the siege dressed in
horns, a bearskin headdress, red, white and blue face paint,
shirtless, and tan pants and carrying a 6-foot spear with an
American flag tied below the blade.
cuts off Parler’s Web hosting following Apple, Google bans.
(Ars Technica, January 9, 2021)
The app will need to find new Web hosting by Sunday or go
warns of plans for new violence, brewing again on social
media, as reason for Trump ban.
Washington Post, January 9, 2021)
These demonstrations are scheduled to culminate with what
organizers have dubbed a “Million MAGA March” on January 20th
itself, as President-elect Biden is to be sworn in on the same
Capitol grounds that rioters overrun on Wednesday.
Given the very clear and explicit warning signs for January
6th — with Trump supporters expressing prior intent to ‘storm
and occupy Congress’ and use ‘handcuffs and zip ties,’ clear
plans being laid out on public forums, and the recent
precedent of the plot to storm the Michigan Capitol building
while the legislature was in session — it is truly
mind-boggling that the police were not better prepared.
Joe Biden’s inauguration be marred by the insurrectionists
who stormed the Capitol?
(Los Angeles Times, January 9,
To people who study right-wing militia groups and QAnon
fanatics, the idea that armed insurrectionists would storm the
Capitol while Congress was in session was not merely possible.
It was predictable. Long before the mob began its march up
Pennsylvania Avenue, it was obvious that hordes of
anti-democratic loonies had been swayed by the outlandish lies
of President Trump and his echo chamber of co-conspirators,
who maintained that President-elect Joe Biden had stolen the
election. On Twitter, Parler, Facebook, 4chan, 8chan and the
dark web, momentum was building.
For weeks, quite publicly, a growing number of Trump
supporters had been whipping themselves into a frenzy, talking
about doing something big on Jan. 6, when Congress met to
count the votes of the electoral college. We now know, of
course, that their seditious plans, inflamed by Trump himself,
came to pass.
The armed insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol may have
seemed disorganized, but their goal was clear: disruption of
the highest levels of government. They succeeded in sowing
terror and upending, at least temporarily, the peaceful
transfer of power in America. Five people, including a Capitol
Police officer, died.
We talked about how social media works against the common good
and how anger-driven right-wing groups flourish as a result.
“Facebook’s algorithms decide what to show you based on what
keeps you on Facebook the longest. And the content that keeps
you scrolling and clicking is content that makes you angry.
Facebook has chosen not to fix this. Essentially, social media
makes more money if we are mad at each other.”
Trump has exploited this aspect of social media like no other
In April, the Wall Street Journal published an article based
on internal 2016 Facebook documents about the site’s
contribution to social and political divisiveness. A high
number of extremist groups use the site, and Facebook found
that its own recommendation tools — “Groups You Should Join”
and “Discover” — were responsible for 64% of new followers for
extremist pages. What did the social media giant do? Nothing.
(New York Times Magazine, January 9,
Timothy Snyder, a historian of fascism and political atrocity,
writes on Trump, the mob and what comes next.
When Donald Trump stood before his followers on Jan. 6 and
urged them to march on the United States Capitol, he was doing
what he had always done. He never took electoral democracy
seriously nor accepted the legitimacy of its American version.
Even when he won, in 2016, he insisted that the election was
fraudulent — that millions of false votes were cast for his
opponent. In 2020, in the knowledge that he was trailing
Joseph R. Biden in the polls, he spent months claiming that
the presidential election would be rigged and signaling that
he would not accept the results if they did not favor him. He
wrongly claimed on Election Day that he had won and then
steadily hardened his rhetoric: With time, his victory became
a historic landslide and the various conspiracies that denied
it ever more sophisticated and implausible.
People believed him, which is not at all surprising. It takes
a tremendous amount of work to educate citizens to resist the
powerful pull of believing what they already believe, or what
others around them believe, or what would make sense of their
own previous choices. Plato noted a particular risk for
tyrants: that they would be surrounded in the end by yes-men
and enablers. Aristotle worried that, in a democracy, a
wealthy and talented demagogue could all too easily master the
minds of the populace. Aware of these risks and others, the
framers of the Constitution instituted a system of checks and
balances. The point was not simply to ensure that no one
branch of government dominated the others but also to anchor
in institutions different points of view.
In this sense, the responsibility for Trump’s push to overturn
an election must be shared by a very large number of
Republican members of Congress. Rather than contradict Trump
from the beginning, they allowed his electoral fiction to
flourish. They had different reasons for doing so. One group
of Republicans is concerned above all with gaming the system
to maintain power, taking full advantage of constitutional
obscurities, gerrymandering and dark money to win elections
with a minority of motivated voters. They have no interest in
the collapse of the peculiar form of representation that
allows their minority party disproportionate control of
government. The most important among them, Mitch McConnell,
indulged Trump’s lie while making no comment on its
Yet other Republicans saw the situation differently: They
might actually break the system and have power without
democracy. The split between these two groups, the gamers and
the breakers, became sharply visible on Dec. 30, when Senator
Josh Hawley announced that he would support Trump’s challenge
by questioning the validity of the electoral votes on Jan. 6.
Ted Cruz then promised his own support, joined by about 10
other senators. More than a hundred Republican representatives
took the same position. For many, this seemed like nothing
more than a show: challenges to states’ electoral votes would
force delays and floor votes but would not affect the outcome.
to Natick Select Board and Chief Hicks
News, January 9, 2021)
On January 6th, 2021, Town Meeting Member Sue Ianni organized
multiple busloads of people to attend what became an act of
insurrection targeting the United States Capitol. Through
photos readily available on social media, it is clear that
social distancing and other COVID protocols were not followed.
What is additionally clear is that Natick residents
participated in the assault on the Capitol and violence
against the United States. This assault threatened the
integrity of the American government, breaching the Capitol
for the first time since a foreign invasion in the War of
1812, and did so in the midst of a pandemic that is ravaging
our nation, our commonwealth, and our town.
woman who attended violent protest in D.C. still believes
'illegal election' is at play.
(Metrowest Daily News,
January 8, 2021)
Sue Ianni organized 11 buses to ride down to D.C. for the
protest. She is concerned she, and all Trump supporters, are
targets of retribution.
Ianni declined to comment when asked if she marched to the
U.S. Capitol and entered the building, offering that “too many
people were arrested wrongly for a peaceful protest after
being waived in by Capitol police.”
(The Cut, January 8, 2021)
Despite the very American efforts to obscure past pain every
time there’s progress and treat horrific events as one-offs,
there is no amount of change that can wipe our memories or the
slate clean. We witnessed this process at its absolute apex on
January 6, a day that will live in infamy unless we do our
American thing of pretending as if the worst parts of us are a
Wednesday’s insurrection was not a singular event in our
history. It was the result of a decades-long plan for white
nationalists to wreak havoc on the U.S. government. With the
encouragement of a sitting president, they did exactly that
with little consequences. Five people died. The majority of
the insurrectionists left the U.S. Capitol unscathed. There
were no tanks to greet them, no militarized police force with
batons at the ready, no eagerness to push them to the ground,
break their bones, and leave them traumatized. Of course
righteous anger spread on social media. There were mumblings
about removing Trump from office. The very senators who
encouraged the violence, including Missouri senator Josh
Hawley and Texas senator Ted Cruz, released statements
condemning it. Once the Capitol Police finally dispersed the
crowd and cleared the building, Congress restored order and
continued its procedural vote — allowing representatives and
senators who helped incite the insurrection to still object to
specific election results in specific states — and business
continued as normal. Because it always does.
This kind of whiplash is as common in the United States as
mythmaking exceptionalism and double standards in policing.
America was built on violent theft, enslavement enforced
through brutality, and congressional leaders manipulating the
levers of power to suppress the vote, but whenever there’s
perceived progress, including Barack Obama being elected to
the presidency and Warnock becoming the first Black Democratic
senator from the South, we’re asked to bury all of the ugly
history. We’re at a new dawn, so we should pretend as if the
darkness never existed — until we’re forced to face the next
took a mob riot for Twitter to finally ban Trump.
Angeles Times, January 8, 2021)
Whose megaphone will President Trump use now? In the wake of
the horrifying attack on the U.S. Capitol, major social media
companies have all “deplatformed” Trump and some of his fellow
traffickers in false claims about the November 2020 election.
The last to join in the cancel ceremonies was Twitter, Trump’s
favorite vehicle for spreading deception and calumny. After
Twitter finally started labeling Trump’s deceptive tweets for
what they were last May, I wrote that the company had waited
three years too long. That delay, combined with Twitter’s
ongoing refusal to make Trump abide by the rules that apply to
everyone else on the network, made Friday’s ban inevitable.
The long-overdue deplatforming could be an analgesic for the
Trumpists’ fever dreams about overturning Joe Biden’s victory
in November, which Congress formally certified several hours
after the Capitol was cleared. No other micro-blogging or
messaging service has the reach in the United States of
Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. None can have the sort of
impact for Trump that Twitter has.
Twitter’s analysis of Trump’s last two tweets, issued after
the president’s personal account had been suspended for a day,
is instructive. The first tweet proclaimed that “The
75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA
FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE
long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated
unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” The second stated, “To
all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the
Inauguration on January 20th.”
The company looked across the Twitterverse to see how the
tweets were being interpreted by Trump’s seditious followers.
And what it found was chilling. Trump’s use of the phrase
“great American Patriots,” Twitter said, was “being
interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at
the U.S. Capitol.” Trump’s announcement that he’s blowing off
the Inauguration was seen by some “as further confirmation
that the election was not legitimate” and as a disavowal of
the president’s stated support for an orderly transition of
power. “The second Tweet may also serve as encouragement to
those potentially considering violent acts that the
Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be
attending,” Twitter wrote.
But for heaven’s sake, why did it take a mob of Trump zealots
storming the Capitol, and five deaths that resulted, for
Twitter to look at what Trump has been signaling across its
network? Or for Facebook to cut off Trump’s use of its network
to micro-target his snake oil? Promoting a free speech culture
does not mean amplifying all speech.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he doesn’t feel
comfortable playing the role of speech police. But he’s
created one of the world’s most powerful amplifiers, and he’s
rightly set standards — low standards, sadly — for what people
can do with it. World leaders should be held to the same rules
as everyone else; otherwise, social networks are giving those
politicians a means to communicate which is less transparent
and public than the powerful soapboxes that come with their
permanently suspends Trump’s account.
"After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump
account and the context around them — specifically how they
are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we
have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of
further incitement of violence," Twitter said in a statement
Two days after throngs of his supporters staged a violent
rampage through the Capitol, the social media company said
Trump broke its rules yet again. This came even after the
company had publicly warned Wednesday that additional
violations would result in his indefinite expulsion.
After his account was reactivated Thursday, Trump tweeted out
two messages saying his supporters "will not be disrespected
or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form," and announcing
he would not attending President-elect Joe Biden's
inauguration. Twitter cited those messages as motivating their
decision to deactivate his account. "These two Tweets must be
read in the context of broader events in the country and the
ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by
different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as
in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in
recent weeks," the company said in its statement. It added the
tweets violated its policy on glorification of violence.
Trump's ouster culminates years of friction between the
outgoing president and Twitter, the platform he has long used
to promote conspiracy theories, personal grievances and
surprise policy decisions to his nearly 89 million followers.
But it came too late for many critics of both Trump and
Twitter, who say the company has allowed him to flout its
rules with rhetoric such as threats of war or violence against
racial justice protesters.
The final straw came shortly after pro-Trump rioters breached
the Capitol during a deadly assault, when Trump posted a
series of tweets that urged his supporters to leave but
continued to claim falsely that the November election had been
stolen from him. Those included a tweet attacking Vice
President Mike Pence for refusing to overturn the election
results, and another describing the rioters as "great
patriots." Twitter and Facebook, where Trump posted some of
the same messages, temporarily locked Trump’s account in
response. Further rule-breaking, Twitter said, "will result in
permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account."
Facebook and Instagram subsequently locked Trump's accounts
at least through Inauguration Day.
“We believe the risks
of allowing the President to continue to use our service
during this period are simply too great,” Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg wrote in a statement posted to his personal page
the day after the mayhem.
MAGA internet turns on Trump.
(Politico, January 8,
The president acknowledged his defeat and urged for political
reconciliation. His online faithful didn’t take it well.
After years of fidelity, Donald Trump's most ardent online
fans have finally turned on him. All it took was for the
president to acknowledge the reality of his loss a little over
a day after they, the MAGA faithful, stormed the Capitol in a
violent attempt to stop the certification of President-elect
Joe Biden’s win.
“People were willing to die for this man and he just threw
them all under the bus. That’s the only thing that’s shameful
about the events of the past 36 hours,” Nick Fuentes, the host
of the America First podcast and the unofficial leader of the
white nationalist Groyper Army, angrily tweeted, shortly after
Trump released a video Thursday night in which he conceded
that Biden would be the next president and called for
Faces Fierce Backlash From Colleagues, Donors After Capitol
(Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2021)
Missouri senator’s objection to election results has drawn
widespread condemnation, raising questions about his political
Mr. Hawley, an ambitious 41-year-old former Missouri attorney
general, last week became the first senator to say he would
object to the results of the 2020 presidential election,
bucking GOP leaders and sending shock waves through his
conference. By law, an objection requires the backing of at
least one House member and one senator to trigger a debate and
vote on whether to disqualify a state’s electoral results.
Once Mr. Hawley had signed on, there was enormous pressure on
other Republican senators to follow suit or risk being seen as
betraying President Trump.
Now he has become a pariah among Senate Republicans, many of
whom blame him for what they see as his role instigating a
riot that overwhelmed the Capitol and resulted in the deaths
of five people, including a Capitol Police officer. Mr. Hawley
also is contending with fallout beyond the Capitol: The former
Missouri senator who recruited him to run for Senate has
denounced him, Simon & Schuster canceled publication of
his upcoming book on big tech, the president of his Jesuit
high school called on him to reflect and atone, and a
multimillion-dollar donor has said the Senate should censure
him. Some Democrats are demanding his resignation.
Trump skipping inauguration a "good thing".
January 8, 2021)
"He exceeded even my worst notions about him," the
president-elect said. "He’s been an embarrassment to the
awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to three golfers in a
closed-to-the-public ceremony less than 24 hours after his
supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
January 8, 2021)
On Thursday, President Donald Trump awarded three golfers the
Presidential Medal of Freedom during a closed-door ceremony.
Two of the recipients, Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player, are
retired, and the third, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, was awarded
the medal posthumously. It comes less than 24 hours after
Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a riot that led
to five deaths. Many have called the timing of the ceremony
'tone deaf,' including Player's own son, Mark, who called on
his father to turn down the award.
Only four other golfers have ever received the nation's
highest civilian honor, including Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer,
Jack Nicklaus and Charlie Sifford.
(Politico, January 8, 2021)
A fissure in the Republican party split wide open today. Some
GOP members are now considering voting for a second
impeachment of Trump. The Nightly chatted with Congressional
reporter Kyle Cheney over Slack about what this week’s events
mean for the days and weeks ahead.
for New Trump Impeachment Rises After Death of Police
(Slate, January 8, 2021)
On Thursday, congressional Democrats including both Speaker of
the House Nancy Pelosi and incoming Senate Majority Leader
Chuck Schumer said Donald Trump needs to be removed from
office for his role in inciting the mob attack on the Capitol
that took place during Electoral College counting Wednesday.
Some Democrats wanted to begin impeachment proceedings
immediately. Others, like Pelosi and Schumer, said they would
first like to see if Vice President Mike Pence invokes the
25th Amendment process to take away Trump’s authority. As of
Thursday night, Pence was reportedly unwilling to do so;
whether or not he changes his mind, developments overnight and
this morning have strengthened the case, and the visible
support, for removal.
Cohen Will Introduce Resolution to Abolish the Electoral
(w/full text; Congressman Steve Cohen, January
In the past 20 years, the archaic institution has twice
awarded the presidency to a candidate who did not win the
popular vote, defeating the will of the American people.
Journey of Ashli Babbitt
(Bellingcat, January 8, 2021)
Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, was shot and
killed by Capitol Police while attempting to enter the
Speaker’s Lobby on the second floor of the US Capitol in
Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021. Babbitt was part of a
thousands-strong mob that stormed the building after the
conclusion of the #StopTheSteal rally at the Washington
Monument earlier in the day. At that event, President Donald
Trump had encouraged rally goers to head to the Capitol to
protest the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
His comments came after weeks of false and inflammatory
statements to the effect that he had won the election, and
that his enemies had rigged it against him.
Babbitt’s shooting was captured on several videos that were
recorded and shared by people in the crowd. Her own social
media history also reveals her movements on the morning and
afternoon of January 6. But looking back further shows an
ideological journey that saw her travel from stating she had
backed President Barack Obama to engaging in damaging
right-wing conspiracy theories. We have looked at Babbitt’s
social media footprint, as well as other open source
information, to trace both journeys.
Pramila Jayapal on surviving the siege: "It Was No
(The Cut, January 8, 2021)
On Wednesday, January 6, Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic
congresswoman from Washington State, was sitting in the
gallery above the House chamber, watching the proceedings to
count the Electoral College vote and certify the result of the
presidential election, when armed right-wing rioters breached
the Capitol Building and began to make their way inside,
toward the lawmakers and administrative, custodial, and
food-service staff working inside. Jayapal, a longtime
immigration activist who worked to negotiate Seattle’s $15
minimum wage before being elected to Washington’s state senate
in 2015, then to the U.S. Congress in 2017, heads the House
Progressive Caucus. We spoke about Wednesday’s siege, about
the particular vulnerability of Black and brown women to
violent incursion, and about how her party must now move
forward, both in response to the attack and as the governing
party moving into a new administration.
Was There When The Rioters Stormed The Capitol."
(Newsweek, January 8, 2021)
Trump eventually took to the stage, more than an hour late, to
the roar of the crowd. Immediately he called the result
"bulls***" to great cheers and laughter before continuing in
his usual, off-script rambling style. Yet one part of his
speech really resonated with those stood staring up at him.
"We will never give up; we will never concede," Trump said to
thunderous applause. "We will stop the steal," he told the
crowd, and later: "We're going to walk down Pennsylvania
Avenue, and we're going to the Capitol...We're going to try
and give our Republicans, the weak ones...the kind of pride
and boldness that they need to take back our country."
of the Moment When Pro-Trump Rioters Clashed With Police in
(3-min. video; Wall Street Journal,
January 8, 2021)
New footage shows a moment when pro-Trump rioters stormed the
U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. The violent day resulted in the
deaths of five people, including a U.S. Capitol police
and Ideology Meet at the Capitol.
On Wednesday as pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in
Washington, DC in an unprecedented domestic attack on the
institution of democracy, further chilling scenes unfolded on
the steps of the Capitol as photographs of rioters were seen
dressed in clothing with brazenly anti-Semitic messages. Some
proudly displayed shirts with the insignia 6MWE — meaning “six
million Jews weren’t enough.” A reminder that if democracy
becomes vulnerable, genocidal forces in the wings are ready to
rise. Yes, even in America.
Among the rioters were members of the Proud Boys and other
alt-right, neo-fascist organizations. Hundreds or more of the
mob broke into the Capitol, sparking hours of chaos and
violence in which dozens were injured and five people —
including a U.S. Capitol police officer — were killed.
One man wore a black sweatshirt with a skull-and-crossbones
logo with the words “Camp Auschwitz” emblazoned above it and
“work brings freedom.” The Nazi death camp notoriously had the
phrase Arbeit macht frei or “Work sets you free” on the
entrance of the camp gates.
Eleven million men, women, and children perished during the
systematic, Nazi state-sponsored persecution and murder of
Jews, Slavic peoples, Roma, people with disabilities, Soviet
prisoners, homosexuals, and others deemed “inferior.” Of those
11 million, more than six million Jews perished during the
Were Out for Blood.
(Slate, January 8, 2021)
The men who carried zip ties as they stormed the Capitol
weren’t clowning around. Call the zip ties by their correct
name: The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double
restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations.
They walked through the Senate chamber with a sense of
purpose. They were not dressed in silly costumes but kitted
out in full paramilitary regalia: helmets, armor, camo,
holsters with sidearms. At least one had a semi-automatic
rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails. At least one, unlike nearly
every other right-wing rioter photographed that day, wore a
mask that obscured his face.
These are the same guys who, when the windows of the Capitol
were broken and entry secured, went in first with what I’d
call military-ish precision. They moved with purpose, to the
offices of major figures like Nancy Pelosi and then to the
Senate floor. What was that purpose? It wasn’t to pose for
photos. It was to use those flex cuffs on someone.
In October, the FBI and state authorities charged 13 men with
plotting to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor
of Michigan. Members of that plot attended protests at the
Michigan Capitol in April, real planners of violence mixing
easily with those for whom guns are fun protest props. The
plotters discussed a summary execution—“knock on the door,”
one wrote in the group chat, “and when she answers it just cap
her”—but settled on a kidnapping, pulled off while police were
distracted by a nearby explosion. Think of that plot, as these
men surely did, as a dress rehearsal for what the zip-tie guys
wanted to accomplish at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
They went into the Capitol, as Congress was counting electoral
votes, equipped to take hostages—to physically seize
officials, and presumably to take lives. The prospect is
terrifying. But just because it seems unthinkable doesn’t mean
we shouldn’t think hard about what almost happened. Don’t
dismiss the zip-tie guys as “LARPers” or “weekend warriors.”
First of all, given the well-documented overlap between
ex-military, law enforcement, and right-wing militias, it’s
entirely possible these guys were weekday warriors using their
training in service of extracurricular interests. (One of the
Twitter sleuths who are now trying to track them down sure
seems to think they’re ex-military.) More importantly, the
long awful course of history reminds us how slippery the slope
is from playacting as a strike force to actually behaving as a
Still Has the Power to Blow Up the World.
January 8, 2021)
And as long as he’s in office, there’s not much anyone can do
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, summoning the ultimate fear of
Trump’s unbounded powers for the next 12 days, said Friday
that she has asked Milley about “available precautions for
preventing an unstable president from initiating military
hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a
nuclear strike.” If Milley was honest in his reply, he would
have told Pelosi that there are no such formal
precautions—that, in fact, the nuclear command-control system
was designed to allow the president, and only the president,
to launch nuclear weapons as quickly as possible. This system
was put in place so that the United States could respond to
(or preempt) an enemy nuclear attack before the enemy’s
missiles landed on American soil. But the system’s designers
made no distinction between responding to a nuclear attack and
launching a nuclear first strike out of the blue. In both
cases, the president has untrammeled monopoly control.
At the dawn of the republic, James Madison wrote in the
Federalist No. 10, “Enlightened statesmen will not always be
at the helm.” This was why he and the other founders devised
checks and balances to a potential autocrat’s power—a
legislature, judiciary, free press, and (they hoped) an
educated public. Yet from the dawn of the nuclear age till
now, no one has devised checks or balances to keep an
“unenlightened statesman” from obliterating life on the
It’s extremely unlikely that Trump will try to launch nukes in
the final 12 days of his presidency, but several lawmakers,
officials, and officers are worried that they don’t know what
Trump might do. The possibility that he might do something
destructive was what drove all 10 of the living former
secretaries of defense to sign a Washington Post op-ed,
reminding current officials and officers that it would be
“dangerous, unlawful, and unconstitutional” for the military
to play any role in settling a political election. Their main
fear was that Trump might call on the armed forces to extend
his term of power. His former national security adviser, Lt.
Gen. Michael Flynn (who was later indicted, then pardoned),
had recently (and incorrectly) claimed the president possessed
the power to declare martial law and redo the election under
military supervision. The secretaries were also concerned
about Trump taking military action abroad. Shortly after the
election, Trump had fired the top echelon of Pentagon
civilians and replaced them with loyalists, some of them
inexperienced ideologues. In mid-December, these new acting
officials stopped meeting with President-elect Joe Biden’s
transition team. The former secretaries wondered: Was Trump
planning something and relying on his lackeys to execute his
orders out of sight?
One silver lining to Trump’s Jan. 6 incitement of an attempted
insurrection is that more people in Congress, the armed
forces, and elsewhere—including many erstwhile supporters—are
on heightened alert. The report that Vice President Mike Pence
authorized the Defense Department to send the National Guard
to Capitol Hill—an act that the president would normally
take—suggests that high officials are crafting workarounds to
Trump’s powers in moments of urgency. (This isn’t a totally
positive thing, by the way.)
But for as long as he’s president, Trump continues to possess
powers like the world has never seen. If American politics
calm down in the next few years, to the point where
Republicans and Democrats can hold rational discussions,
premised on a common reality (even if not common views), it
might be good for Biden to lead a discussion on paring down
Pelosi says she spoke to Gen. Milley about Trump and the
(CNN, January 8, 2021)
"This morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for
preventing an unstable president from initiating military
hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a
nuclear strike," Pelosi wrote in a letter. "The situation of
this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we
must do everything that we can to protect the American people
from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy."
After speaking with Milley on Friday, Pelosi told her caucus
that she has gotten assurances there are safeguards in place
in the event Trump wants to launch a nuclear weapon.
Pelosi's letter on speaking with the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs about Trump and the nuclear codes
plans to release nearly all available vaccine doses in an
attempt to speed delivery.
(New York Times, January 8,
In a sharp break with the Trump administration,
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. intends to release nearly
all available doses of the coronavirus vaccine soon after he
is inaugurated, rather than hold back millions of vials to
guarantee second doses will be available. The decision is part
of an aggressive effort to “to ensure the Americans who need
it most get it as soon as possible,” the Biden transition team
said on Friday. The vaccination plan, to be formally unveiled
next week, also will include federally run vaccination sites
in places like high school gyms and sports stadiums, and
mobile units to reach high-risk populations. The
president-elect has vowed to get “at least 100 million Covid
vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” during his
first 100 days in office.
Falsehoods and Failures: COVID-19
(People For the
American Way, January 8, 2021)
This week’s news has been largely dominated by the Senate
runoff races in Georgia and Trump supporters’ terrorism at the
U.S. Capitol. But even as news coverage focused on these
events, the pandemic continued its dangerous spread through
At Trump’s rally that preceded the assault at the Capitol, his
supporters urged the crowd to “turn to the person next to you
and give them a hug” – creating a “mass-spreader event.” That
same day, the United States experienced its most deadly day of
the pandemic so far: More than 3,900 deaths and 255,000 new
cases were reported on January 6. And neither Trump nor his
Republican allies have indicated any concern about the ongoing
severity of the pandemic or that their failures and misdeeds
have further exacerbated it.
Despite the ongoing devastation, Trump and his federal allies
continue to obstruct the orderly transition of coronavirus
information to the Biden-Harris administration’s incoming team
of public health experts. During a pandemic, every day can
make a life-or-death difference. Trump’s callous indifference
to protecting the American people has already taken a
needlessly tragic toll on the country.
Trump’s failure to lead us through the pandemic will be among
the greatest failures of his presidency. And although he will
soon lack any governing power, the impact of his failures will
continue to hurt the American people. President-elect Joe
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have outlined
their extensive plans to combat the virus and speed up the
production and dispersal of COVID-19 vaccines – and their
leadership couldn’t come soon enough.
Trump’s Final Days
(Wall Street Journal, January 7,
If Mr. Trump wants to avoid a second impeachment, his best
path would be to take personal responsibility and resign. This
would be the cleanest solution since it would immediately turn
presidential duties over to Mr. Pence. And it would give Mr.
Trump agency, a la Richard Nixon, over his own fate.
This might also stem the flood of White House and Cabinet
resignations that are understandable as acts of conscience but
could leave the government dangerously unmanned. Robert
O’Brien, the national security adviser, in particular should
stay at his post.
We know an act of grace by Mr. Trump isn’t likely. In any case
this week has probably finished him as a serious political
figure. He has cost Republicans the House, the White House,
and now the Senate. Worse, he has betrayed his loyal
supporters by lying to them about the election and the ability
of Congress and Mr. Pence to overturn it. He has refused to
accept the basic bargain of democracy, which is to accept the
result, win or lose.
It is best for everyone, himself included, if he goes away
Trump Finally Concedes Election to Biden: Full Text of
(Newsweek, January 7, 2021)
After weeks of refusal, President Donald Trump conceded the
November election to President-elect Joe Biden in a video
posted to social media on Thursday.
[While, on Twitter, Trump posted the still-deceptive: “Even
though I totally disagree with the outcome of the
election, and the facts bear me out
nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January
20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure
that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the
end of the greatest first term in presidential history
it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great
Has Now Been Suspended From Four of the Six Most Popular
Social Media Platforms.
(Newsweek, January 7, 2021)
Editing: Changing Wikipedia to Win Elections and Influence
(Stanford Internet Observatory)
Wikipedia celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. This is
the first of two blog posts exploring the use, misuse, and
ultimate resilience of this open, community-edited platform.
Have Mercy on and Help Us All.”
(Slate, January 7, 2021)
How prominent evangelicals reacted to the storming of the U.S.
Obama Calls on Social Media to "Stop Enabling Trump's
(Newsweek, January 7, 2021)
"Now is the time for those who voted for this president to see
the reality of who they've supported – and publicly and
forcefully rebuke him and the actions of that mob," Obama
said. "Now is the time for Silicon Valley companies to stop
enabling this monstrous behavior – and go even further than
they have already by permanently banning this man from their
platforms and putting in place policies to prevent their
technology from being used by the nation's leaders to fuel
Delays and Tumult, Trump Finaly Tells Political Appointees
to Submit Resignations.
(New York Times, January 7,
Until Thursday, the White House had still not told its
political appointees to step down, a routine request to smooth
presidential transitions that usually happens within weeks of
The White House formally asked for the resignations of its
ambassadors and other political appointees on Thursday, as a
wave of senior officials announced their departure from the
government after President Trump incited supporters who had
assaulted the Capitol a day earlier. The storming of the
Capitol to disrupt the official Electoral College tally on
Wednesday sent shock waves across the United States and around
the world, and prompted Mr. Trump to promise early Thursday
that he would ensure an “orderly transition” to the
administration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Administration Officials Who Resigned Over Capitol Violence
(New York Times, January 7, 2021)
Several officials announced that they were stepping down,
after a mob of the president’s supporters disrupted the
process of certifying the election results yesterday.
Erases His Legacy.
(3-min. video; Wall Street Journal,
January 7, 2021)
Mr. Trump's obsession with the results helped to lose the GOP
the Senate and to encourage Wednesday's mob.
A politician has to work hard to destroy a legacy and a future
in a single day. President Donald J. Trump managed it.
Bart: Washington Won’t Miss Donald Trump, Nor Will Hollywood
Miss His Enabler Rupert Murdoch.
(Deadline, January 7,
The Donald Trump era is passing like a dark cloud, but I’d
offer a second headline of equal importance: The Rupert
Murdoch era also is history. As the media lord nears 90, his
ominous hold on the politics and pop culture of three nations
is lifting as well. Hollywood, too, will be healthier in his
The Trump legacy is one of hatred and betrayal – that much has
come into alarming focus in the last 48 hours. But that
shouldn’t distract from the reality that Murdoch’s media
arsenal helped build Trumpism – Fox News, the Wall Street
Journal, the New York Post and even those assets overseas.
Murdoch has profited from splintering American society.
experts warn about Congress's information security after
(CNN, January 7, 2021)
Digital security experts are raising the alarm over
Wednesday's breach of the US Capitol, which not only
threatened lawmakers' physical safety but also created
potential national security and intelligence risks, they say.
As rioters stormed the Capitol building, they broke into
congressional offices, ransacked papers and in at least one
case, stole a laptop, according to a video shared on Twitter
by Sen. Jeff Merkley. Merkley's office wasn't the only one
robbed, according to authorities. On a call with reporters
Thursday afternoon, US officials said multiple senators'
offices were hit.
"This is probably going to take several days to flesh out
exactly what happened, what was stolen, what wasn't," said
Michael Sherwin, acting US attorney for the District of
Columbia. "Items, electronic items, were stolen from senators'
offices. Documents, materials, were stolen, and we have to
identify what was done, mitigate that, and it could have
potential national security equities. If there was damage, we
don't know the extent of that yet."
Riot Amid a Pandemic: Did the Virus, Too, Storm the Capitol?
(New York Times, January 7, 2021)
The mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday did not just
threaten the heart of American democracy. To scientists who
watched dismayed as the scenes unfolded on television, the
throngs of unmasked intruders who wandered through hallways
and into private offices may also have transformed the riot
into a super-spreader event. The coronavirus thrives indoors,
particularly in crowded spaces, lingering in the air in tiny
particles called aerosols. If even a few extremists were
infected — likely, given the current rates of spread and the
crowd size — then the virus would have had the ideal
opportunity to find new victims, experts said. “It has all the
elements of what we warn people about,” said Anne Rimoin, an
epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“People yelling and screaming, chanting, exerting themselves —
all of those things provide opportunity for the virus to
spread, and this virus takes those opportunities.”
President Trump has downplayed the pandemic almost since its
beginning, and many of his supporters who entered the Capitol
yesterday did not appear to be wearing masks or making any
effort at social distancing. Under similar conditions,
gatherings held in such close quarters have led to
fast-spreading clusters of infection.
is said to oppose invoking 25th Amendment to strip Trump of
(New York Times, January 7, 2021)
Vice President Mike Pence is opposed to a call by Democrats in
Congress and some Republicans to invoke the 25th Amendment to
strip President Trump of his powers before his term ends, a
person close to the vice president said.
It is unclear when Mr. Pence will alert Congress of his
position. But the decision by Mr. Pence is said to be
supported by several Trump cabinet officials. Those officials,
a senior Republican said, viewed the effort as likely to add
to the current chaos in Washington rather than deter it.
Threaten Impeachment if Pence Won’t Act After Capitol Siege.
(New York Times, January 7, 2021)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House could be ready to impeach
President Trump again within days if the vice president does
not invoke the 25th Amendment to strip his powers.
calls for Trump's immediate removal through 25th Amendment.
(Reuters, January 7, 2021)
Romney: This was "an insurrection incited by the President".
(3-min. video; CNN, January 7, 2021)
Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) called the riots at the US Capitol
"an insurrection incited by the President of the United
States," while addressing his colleagues at a ceremonial
counting of electoral votes that will confirm President-elect
Pence was livid 'after all the things I've done' for Trump.
(Business Insider, January 7, 2021)
took lead as Trump initially resisted sending National Guard
(CNN, January 7, 2021)
Vice President Mike Pence, not President Donald Trump, helped
facilitate the decision to mobilize members of the DC National
Guard Wednesday when violence at the US Capitol building
started to escalate, according to a source familiar with the
move and public comments from top officials.
As the chaos unfolded, doubts were raised about whether Trump
would order the DC National Guard to respond due to the
slowness of the response. Public statements by acting Defense
Secretary Christopher Miller and other top officials suggested
it was Pence who ultimately approved the decision. Miller's
statement Wednesday seems to indicate he did not even speak
with Trump, discussing the matter with his deputy instead as
sources told CNN the President was reluctant to even denounce
the violence being carried out in his name.
Trump, who has proven over the past year to be eager to deploy
the National Guard when violence breaks out, initially
resisted doing so on Capitol Hill Wednesday as a mob of his
supporters breached the building, per a source familiar. Pence
played a key role in coordinating with the Pentagon about
deploying them, and urged them to move faster than they were.
The news raises questions about who was acting as commander in
chief on one of America's darkest days, which saw the
country's legislature overrun for the first time since the
British attacked and burned the building in August 1814.
Labor Leaders Condemn Trump Supporters’ Attack On Capitol:
“Shocking And Unacceptable”.
(Deadline, January 7, 2021)
A growing chorus of entertainment industry union leaders is
condemning Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol building by
supporters of President Donald Trump – and the politicians who
incited the violence.
“It took three years, 50 weeks and four dead at the Capitol
for far too few Republicans to abandon him. Trump didn’t
destroy their party — they did,” tweeted WGA East president
Beau Willimon, who also called for Trump to be impeached for a
second time. “For those who think, ‘Only two weeks left, why
impeach?’ — consider this: Would you be comfortable with a
deranged and violent amateur piloting the plane you’re on for
even 30 seconds? And, don’t you want to send a message that we
will never allow such a pilot at the yoke again?”
Hartmann: Tyrants often turn on their own people: it’s time
to remove Trump from office.
(Medium, January 7, 2021)
Tyrants very rarely leave power voluntarily. In almost every
case they’ve committed so many crimes in the process of
acquiring and holding power, and exploiting that power to
enrich themselves, their friends and allies, that they know if
they step down they will be facing, at the very least, a long
stretch in prison.
A dear friend of mine, Armin Lehmann, was the 16-year-old
courier who brought Adolf Hitler the news that the war was
totally lost, and thus was in the Führerbunker when Hitler
committed suicide. Armin told me how a few weeks earlier, on
March 19, 1945, Hitler had ordered the remnants of the German
Air Force and tank crews to bomb Berlin and reduce other
German cities to rubble. Germans still refer to it as his Nero
This is why it’s so vital that Donald Trump be removed from
power immediately. Be it through the 25th Amendment or
immediate articles of impeachment and a vote in the Senate, it
must be done.
His Way Out, Trump Trashes America—and the GOP.
(Newsweek, January 7, 2021)
This piece was initially about the GOP and where it stands
after four years of being controlled by Donald Trump and his
family. The party has been in lockstep with him, but perhaps
things are finally changing. In addition to being the first
incumbent to lose reelection in nearly 30 years, the GOP lost
the House in 2018 and the Senate just yesterday. The Senate
loss is especially galling, as Republicans only had to win one
of two Georgia runoff races. Though Trump campaigned for
Senators Perdue and Loeffler, he focused far more on his
grievances, especially his loss in the Georgia popular vote in
November, than in boosting their prospects. He repeatedly
complained of electoral fraud and in a widely publicized call
just before the runoff election pressured the Republican
Secretary of State to change the state's vote totals, despite
three recounts that confirmed he had lost. His baseless
conspiracy mongering could very well have deterred Republicans
from voting, or soured other voters on supporting Loeffler and
Trump's biggest problem has always been his lack of any core
convictions or governing philosophy. As president, Trump
focused on stoking resentment, Twitter threats and insults.
one': Rep. Karen Bass identifies lead instigator in
attempted coup at Capitol as Donald J. Trump.
Kos, January 7, 2021)
Democratic Rep. Karen Bass has been calling for President
Donald Trump’s leave of office for more than a year now. She
punctuated the urgency of that call Thursday by answering an
FBI tweet seeking the individuals who instigated violence in
Washington, D.C. with a photo of Trump. “Found one,” Bass
Trump incited an entitled mob that climbed fences, stole
property, and shattered glass doors of the U.S. Capitol
Wednesday in what was by no exaggeration an attempted coup. It
ended with four people dead, 14 police officers injured, and
52 arrests, authorities said. The riot was intended to block
lawmakers from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election
victory, but it achieved no such thing.
In a CNN interview Thursday, Bass also pointed out the brazen
double standard in how authorities peacefully responded to
Trump protesters versus how they have brutally responded to
Black Lives Matter protesters over the last year. She said
it’s “demoralizing” for people of color who “know if you could
even imagine if tens of thousands of young, old African
Americans attacked the Capitol like that what would have
6 Was 9 Weeks — And 4 Years — in the Making.
January 7, 2021)
I spent the last election cycle immersed in the metastasizing
paranoia behind Wednesday’s assault on Congress. Nobody should
be surprised by what just happened.
I certainly never expected to see platoons of insurrectionists
scaling the walls of the U.S. Capitol and sacking the place in
broad daylight. Still, shocking as this was, it wasn’t a bit
surprising. The attempted coup d'état had been unfolding in
slow motion over the previous nine weeks. Anyone who couldn’t
see this coming chose not to see it coming. And that goes for
much of the Republican Party.
Make no mistake: Plenty of the people who stormed the U.S.
Capitol complex on Wednesday really, truly believed that Trump
had been cheated out of four more years; that Vice President
Mike Pence had unilateral power to revise the election
results; that their takeover of the building could change the
course of history. I know this because I know several people
who were there, and several more who planned to go. They bear
responsibility for their actions, of course. But the point
remains: They were conned into coming to D.C. in the first
place, not just by Trump with his compulsive lying, but by the
legions of Republicans who refused to counter those lies,
believing it couldn’t hurt to humor the president and stoke
the fires of his base.
This Really Happening?": The Siege of Congress, Seen From
(Politico, January 7, 2021)
On Wednesday, when the waves of pro-Trump rioters overwhelmed
U.S. Capitol Police and surged through the building’s lobbies
and stairways, they trapped journalists and nearly all members
of Congress. Some of them had ways out; Vice President Mike
Pence, there to preside over the Senate, was quickly ushered
to safety. Some didn’t. Members dove to the gallery floor;
rooms were quickly pressed into service as safe spots for
journalists covering the session.
Five of the journalists in the building were congressional
reporters for POLITICO, whose normal beats cover the far more
bureaucratic daily business of Congress. We asked them—as well
as a photographer and two more reporters outside—to describe,
by phone, what happened in those frenzied, confusing hours
when the threat to American democracy came from inside the
building. This is their account.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Collection
(80-min. video; The Black Vault, January 7, 2021)
Below you will find a collection of CIA related Unidentified
Flying Object records. The Black Vault’s connection to the CIA
in getting some of these UFO documents released goes back to
1996. Originally, the CIA would only release about 1,000 pages
that had been previously disclosed after a FOIA court case in
the 1980s. They never addressed the records that were dated in
the years after the case. The Black Vault spent years fighting
for them, and many were released in the late 1990s. However,
over time, the CIA made a CD-ROM collection of UFO documents,
which encompassed the original records, along with the ones
that took years to fight for. In an effort to make sure The
Black Vault stayed up to date, in mid 2020, this CD-ROM was
purchased to have one particular data dump available for all
users of The Black Vault. You will find this below for
download in its original state, along with a
converted/searchable .pdf format. (Although the CIA claims
this is their “entire” collection, there may be no way to
entirely verify that. Research by The Black Vault will
continue to see if there are additional documents still
uncovered within the CIA’s holdings.)
Trump, In New Statement, Says There Will Be “Orderly
Transition Of Power”.
(Deadline, January 7, 2021)
Donald Trump released a new statement in which he said that
there would be an “orderly transition of power,” amid the
uproar over his role in fomenting a mob of protesters who went
on to storm the U.S. Capitol.
Shortly after Congress affirmed the victory of Joe Biden and
Kamala Harris, one of Trump’s aides, Dan Scavino, tweeted out
the statement. The president continued to make unfounded and
false claims of election fraud. “Even though I totally
disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear
me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on
January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight
to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this
represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential
history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America
Harris will be able to break Senate ties. Why her staff
hopes she won't need to.
(Los Angeles Times, January 7,
The victories by the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in
Tuesday's high-stakes races create a 50-50 split between
Democrats and Republicans, including two independent senators
who caucus with Democrats. The rare circumstance sets Harris
up for a starring role on Capitol Hill — presiding at the
Senate dais to deliver for the administration the final "yes"
vote on key bills, Cabinet confirmations and judgeships.
Harris' advisors are hoping the Senate duties don't distract
from her other responsibilities and priorities too much,
hindering travel, dominating her schedule or interfering with
her ability to become an active player in the Biden White
House. To that end, although Harris will have a pair of
offices in the Senate, like all vice presidents, don't expect
her to be hanging out there all day, supervising debate or
trolling committee meetings. And expect the administration to
work with Republicans to avoid 50-50 ties whenever possible.
completes electoral count, finalizing Biden's win after
violent delay from pro-Trump mob.
(CNN, January 7, 2021)
As they reconvened, Democrats and some Republicans condemned
Trump's rhetoric in the lead-up to Wednesday's session, saying
he deserved some of the blame for inciting the pro-Trump
rioters who stormed into the Capitol. "This mob was a good
part President Trump's doing, incited by his words, his lies,"
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "Today's events
almost certainly would not have happened without him."
The Senate voted 93 to 6 to dismiss the objection raised by
Republicans to Arizona's results, and 92 to 7 to reject the
objection to Pennsylvania.
In the House, a majority of Republicans voted to object to the
results, but they were still soundly rejected, 303 to 121 for
Arizona and 282 to 138 for Pennsylvania, with all Democrats in
opposition. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was among the House
Republicans to vote to reject the two states' results.
The riots prompted several Senate Republicans who had planned
to object to decide they would no longer do so.
Republicans and Democrats alike condemned the protesters for
breaching the US Capitol, and several blamed Trump -- who
pushed for Republicans and Pence to use the joint session of
Congress to overturn the election result -- for the dangerous
situation that unfolded. "We gather due to a selfish man's
injured pride and the outrage of supporters who he
deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred
to action this very morning," said Sen. Mitt Romney, the Utah
Republican and 2012 GOP presidential nominee. "What happened
today was an insurrection incited by the president of the
United States," Romney added, warning those who voted to back
Trump's objections would "forever be seen as being complicit
in an unprecedented attack against our democracy."
Ossoff win in Georgia, handing Dems Senate control.
(Associated Press, January 6, 2021)
Democrats won both Georgia Senate seats — and with them, the
U.S. Senate majority — as final votes were counted Wednesday,
serving President Donald Trump a stunning defeat in his
turbulent final days in office while dramatically improving
the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s progressive agenda.
Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, Democratic challengers who
represented the diversity of their party’s evolving coalition,
defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler two
months after Biden became the first Democratic presidential
candidate to carry the state since 1992.
Warnock, who served as pastor for the same Atlanta church
where civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
preached, becomes the first African American from Georgia
elected to the Senate. And Ossoff becomes the state’s first
Jewish senator and, at 33 years old, the Senate’s youngest
This week’s elections were expected to mark the formal finale
to the tempestuous 2020 election season, although the
Democrats’ resounding success was overshadowed by chaos and
violence in Washington, where angry Trump supporters stormed
the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s
victory. Wednesday’s unprecedented siege drew fierce criticism
of Trump’s leadership from within his own party, and combined
with the bad day in Georgia, marked one of the darkest days of
his divisive presidency.
to Senator: "Try to Just Slow it Down."
audio; The Dispatch, January 6, 2021)
The president’s lawyer tries to block the count of the
Electoral College votes. With the Capitol building barely
cleared of Trump’s seditious invaders, Giuliani left a
voicemail intended for Senator Tommy Tuberville (a Trump
diehard, and former college football coach, newly elected to
the Senate from Alabama).
Except Giuliani called the wrong number and actually left his
message with a different senator, who leaked it to the media.
Here’s some of what Giuliani said:
“Senator Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer. I'm calling you because
I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this
hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to
just slow it down ... I know they’re reconvening at eight
tonight, but ... the only strategy we can follow is to object
to numerous states ...”
It’s not clear whether Giuliani—who opens the call by
referring to himself as “the president’s lawyer”—was directed
to call Tuberville by President Trump. One longtime Trump
adviser still talking to top White House officials says Trump
is in constant communication with Giuliani. Asked if such a
call is something Trump would know about, he said: “Oh, yeah,
screwed the country": Trump loyalty disintegrates.
(Politico, January 6, 2021)
Wednesday’s Capitol Hill riot will reverberate for years,
shaping Trump’s legacy and pushing Republicans to confront the
Led the Storming of the US Capitol.
(Vice, January 6,
QAnon has become central to the election conspiracy theories
that have helped incite the violence on display on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump has in recent weeks and months adopted
many of the wild and unfounded conspiracies being shared by
leading QAnon influencers—which include several lawyers who
were at one point part of Trump’s own legal team.
Ahead of Wednesday’s riot, QAnon accounts on Twitter were
actively calling for the protests to turn violent—and it
appears that many of them followed their own advice. The first
protester to storm the capitol was wearing a QAnon t-shirt.
it a coup? No, but siege on US Capitol was the election
violence of a fragile democracy.
January 6, 2021)
Supporters of President Donald Trump, following his
encouragement, stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6,
disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
Waving Trump banners, hundreds of people broke through
barricades and smashed windows to enter the building where
Congress convenes. One rioter died and several police officers
were hospitalized in the clash. Congress went on lockdown.
While violent and shocking, what happened on Jan. 6 wasn’t a
coup. This Trumpist insurrection was election violence, much
like the election violence that plagues many fragile
violence, mockery as pro-Trump mob occupies Congress. 4 die.
(Associated Press, January 6, 2021)
This began as a day of reckoning for President Donald Trump’s
futile attempt to cling to power as Congress took up the
certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. It
devolved into scenes of fear and agony that left a prime
ritual of American democracy in tatters.
Trump told his morning crowd at the Ellipse that he would go
with them to the Capitol, but he didn’t. Instead he sent them
off with incendiary rhetoric. “If you don’t fight like hell,
you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said. “Let the
weak ones get out,” he went on. “This is a time for strength.”
His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told the crowd, “Let’s have trial
What happened Wednesday "was nothing less than an attempted
coup", said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. Sen. Ben Sasse,
R-Neb., a frequent Trump critic, said, “Today, the United
States Capitol — the world’s greatest symbol of
self-government — was ransacked while the leader of the free
world cowered behind his keyboard.” Sasse went on: “Lies have
consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly
outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking
Police said they recovered two pipe bombs, one outside the
Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican
National Committee and a cooler from a vehicle that had a long
gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.
Police evacuated the chamber at 2:30 p.m., grabbing boxes of
Electoral College certificates as they left - before the mob
could burn them.
Yet Trump, in a video posted 90 minutes after lawmakers were
evacuated, told the insurrectionists “We love you. You’re very
special,” while asking them to go home. The police did allow
most of them to leave.
“This is how a coup is started,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez,
D-Calif. “This is how democracy dies.”
Only Did He Incite It, He Didn't Do Anything To Stop It!"
-Sen. Amy Klobuchar On Trump's Failed Coup (11-min. video;
Late Show, January 6, 2021)
Moments after voting on the Senate floor, Senator Amy
Klobuchar joins us from a secure location inside the Capitol
Building and says the president is responsible for today's
failed attempted coup, and she wants every person involved to
Colbert: Hey, Republicans Who Supported This President: Are
We Great Again Yet?
(14-min. live monologue; Late Show,
January 6, 2021)
After the unprecedented assault on democracy that took place
in the Capitol Building today, Stephen Colbert kicks off his
monologue with a message for "the cynical cowardly Republican"
lawmakers who for five years have coddled the president's
fascist rhetoric: "There will be a terrible price to pay."
[Stephen Colbert calls it like it is - and has been, for far
too long. Stunning!]
Late Late Show’s James Corden Says Today Was Trump’s “Last
Dance At The Worst Party Ever” But Urges Viewers To Have
(8-min. video; Deadline, January 6, 2021)
Today has been a tough day and this evening’s late-night shows
are likely to reflect that. James Corden, host of CBS’ The
Late Late Show, was the first late-night star to address what
happened earlier when a mob burst into the Capitol and caused
chaos. James Corden begins The Late Late Show reflecting on
what was a dark day at the United States Capitol, but sees
hope on the horizon. After, he looks at Rev. Raphael Warnock
and Jon Ossoff's victories in the Georgia Senate run-off
election. “Today was [Trump’s] last dance at the worst party
any of us have ever been to, so if you can, have hope, we’ve
seen in these past few weeks that voting counts, change is
coming, science is real, vaccines are on the way. I really do
believe that there are better times ahead,” he said.
He talked about being an “outsider”, growing up in England. “I
used to look to America as this beacon of light and
possibility, a place where anything can happen and you’d be
lucky to work, a place where many people I knew used to
fantasize about living in, a place that gives an individual
more opportunity than they would get elsewhere, yet cares for
their fellow man. And yet today people across the world would
have looked at these pictures of Washington and they would
have wondered what on earth has happened to this great
country.” He said that the country had been “hijacked” by a
“lunatic and his crazy army” for the past four years. “But
that’s about to end because in two weeks on those same steps,
where the mob fought and pushed past the police, Joe Biden
will be sworn in as President of the United States and Kamala
Harris will be sworn in as Vice President of the United
call for Trump's impeachment or invoking 25th Amendment in
wake of Capitol Hill violence.
(ABC News, January 6,
"We can't allow him to remain in office."
Barry Mccaffrey: "Rogue' Trump Must Be Removed From Office -
(5-min. video; MSNBC, January 6, 2021)
Retired Four-Star U.S. Army General and MSNBC Military Analyst
Gen. Barry McCaffrey reacts to Trump's role in the violent mob
that stormed Capitol Hill on Wednesday, saying Congress needs
to remove Trump from office now.
Acosta: Trump is "traumatized" and "out of his mind" over
his election loss.
(2-min. video; CNN, January 6, 2021)
Presidential Cabinet "lackeys" not expected to invoke 25th
Amendment, but they ARE discussing it.
[And it was Pence, not Trump, who finally called in the
'A Moment Of Great Dishonor And Shame For Our Nation' — But
Not A Surprise.
(NPR, January 6, 2021)
Former President Barack Obama said that the violence that
gripped the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was the unsurprising
result of two months of instigation by President Trump and his
"History will rightly remember today's violence at the
Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to
baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a
moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation," Obama said
in a statement Wednesday evening. "But we'd be kidding
ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise. For two months
now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem
has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth
— that this was not a particularly close election and that
President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. Their
fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from
reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now
we're seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent
crescendo," wrote Obama, whose eight-year administration
directly preceded Trump's.
Obama also pointed a finger at a larger group of Republicans
for their role in inciting the fracas, as many denied for
months that Biden was the lawful winner of November's
Trump's Stochastic Terrorism
becomes Actual Terrorism as defined under US law.
Kos, January 6, 2021)
Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir
up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts
that are statistically predictable but individually
unpredictable. For four years, Trump has probed the depths of
Stochastic Terrorism, stirring up death through terrorists in
El Pas, Charlottesville, Charleston, Kenosha and elsewhere.
Today he crossed the line to direct, immediate incitement to
Call on Armed Thugs to Cease Violence at Capitol.
(National Assn. of Manufacturers, January 6, 2021)
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers
President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement
in response to large groups of armed Trump adherents who have
violently stormed the U.S. Capitol building as members of
Congress meet to count the electoral votes:
“Armed violent protestors who support the baseless claim by
outgoing president Trump that he somehow won an election that
he overwhelmingly lost have stormed the U.S. Capitol today,
attacking police officers and first responders, because Trump
refused to accept defeat in a free and fair election.
Throughout this whole disgusting episode, Trump has been
cheered on by members of his own party, adding fuel to the
distrust that has enflamed violent anger. This is not law and
order. This is chaos. It is mob rule. It is dangerous. This is
sedition and should be treated as such. The outgoing president
incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any
elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the
Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy.
Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars
is complicit. Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the
Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to
invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy.
“This is not the vision of America that manufacturers believe
in and work so hard to defend. Across America today, millions
of manufacturing workers are helping our nation fight the
deadly pandemic that has already taken hundreds of thousands
of lives. We are trying to rebuild an economy and save and
rebuild lives. But none of that will matter if our leaders
refuse to fend off this attack on America and our
democracy—because our very system of government, which
underpins our very way of life, will crumble.”
Is a Coup. Why Were Experts So Reluctant to See It Coming?
(Foreign Policy, January 6, 2021)
Today, rioters incited by President Donald Trump have stormed
the U.S. Capitol building. Both the House and the Senate have
suspended their counting because of security threats.
Reportedly, shots have been fired. A photograph of a rioter
occupying the House speaker’s chair shows that the Capitol is,
essentially, being occupied. C-SPAN is reporting that senior
members of leadership of the legislative branch are being held
in an “undisclosed location.” Reporters are refusing to
divulge their locations on the grounds—entirely
reasonable—that doing so could endanger their safety. The
National Guard has been deployed.
It’s undeniable at this point. The United States is witnessing
a coup attempt—a forceful effort to seize power against the
legal framework. The president has caused the interruption of
the process that would certify his removal from office. The
mechanics of constitutional government have been suspended.
Americans are in danger of losing constitutional government to
a degree unmatched even during the Civil War, a period when
secession itself did not postpone either the holding of
elections or the transition of power between presidents.
Justifies Supporters Storming Capitol: "These Are The Things
And Events That Happen."
(Forbes, January 6, 2021)
President Donald Trump called on his supporters who stormed
the U.S. Capitol building to “go home” in a video message and
subsequent tweet Wednesday, which Twitter has now removed, but
defended the destructive mob for infiltrating the building and
said he “loves” his supporters who forced their way into the
Trump speaks to insurrectionists occupying Capitol: 'I love
you. You're very special.'
(Daily Kos, January 6, 2021)
Multiple sources have reported that several people inside the
White House, including Mike Pence, have called on Trump to
issue a stronger statement to his followers. However, Trump is
said to be angry at Pence for failing to overturn the election
results … so he’s holding the whole nation hostage to his
Pence has issued his own statement saying that “those involved
will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” However,
that also remains to be seen. Having gathered his followers
together under the promise of a “wild” time; having spent
months inflaming them with lies about a stolen election; and
having spent years teaching his followers to disregard every
other source … there is every reason to expect that, far from
prosecuting the terrorists, Trump will issue a blanket pardon.
At 4 PM EST, President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement in
which he said: “This is not protest. It is insurrection.” He
called on Trump to go on national television and end this
attempted overthrow of the nation.
Fifteen minutes later, Trump issued a statement to the
terrorists saying: “I love you. You’re very special. I know
how you feel.” In the video, Trump continued to insist that
the election was stolen and he won in a landslide.
Joe Biden calls Capitol riot ‘insurrection,’ urges President
Trump to ‘end siege’.
(many photos; USA Today, January
“What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated
to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s disorder, it’s
chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end, now,” Biden
said from The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware. “I call
on this mob to pull back now and allow the work of democracy
to go forward.”
Biden told Trump to go on national television “to demand an
end to this siege.”
“It’s not protest, it’s insurrection,” said Biden, a former
36-year senator and former vice president who presided over
the Electoral College count in 2017 that seated Trump.
intended to take members of Congress hostage, hold show
trials, conduct executions.
(Daily Kos, January 6, 2021)
Approaching four hours after the Capitol Building was overrun
by Trumpist insurrectionists, police are finally beginning to
move in force, backed by National Guard forces from both D.C.
and Virginia. However, at least one improvised explosive
device has been located, and many of those currently occupying
the halls of Congress are thought to be armed. So it may be
some time before the full crowd can be safely removed, and
those who invaded the Capitol arrested. Of course, none of
this might have been necessary had the Capital Police taken
action to halt the terrorists, rather than opening doors for
them and sticking around to take selfies with them while
making no move to arrest, or even impede, their invasion.
After a year in which police repeatedly treated Black Lives
Matter protesters with extreme action, to say these Trump
supporters were treated with kid gloves doesn’t come close.
Police didn’t even bother to gear up for what they knew would
be a large event including members of militia and white
withdraws support for legal liability protection.
(Washington Post, January 6, 2021)
The social media platform Parler, a favorite among
conservatives, has withdrawn its support for the legal
liability protection granted to social media companies,
separating itself from competitors such as Twitter and
Facebook that say eliminating the protection would prompt them
to crack down on their users’ posts.
Parler CEO John Matze defended the Section 230 shield from
lawsuits as recently as last month but this week reversed
course. Parler Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Wernick told
The Washington Times that the company made the decision to
change its view of the protections afforded under Section 230
of the Communications Decency Act after consulting its
lawyers, not in response to users on its platform.
storming of Capitol Hill was organized on social media.
(New York Times, January 6, 2021)
Just after 1 p.m., when President Trump ended his speech to
protesters in Washington by calling for them to march on
Congress, hundreds of echoing calls to storm the building were
made by his supporters online. On social media sites used by
the far-right, such as Gab and Parler, directions on which
streets to take to avoid the police and which tools to bring
to help pry open doors were exchanged in comments. At least a
dozen people posted about carrying guns into the halls of
Calls for violence against members of Congress and for
pro-Trump movements to retake the Capitol building have been
circulating online for months. Bolstered by Mr. Trump, who has
courted fringe movements like QAnon and the Proud Boys, groups
have openly organized on social media networks and recruited
others to their cause. On Wednesday, their online activism
became real-world violence, leading to unprecedented scenes of
mobs freely strolling through the halls of Congress and
uploading celebratory photographs of themselves, encouraging
others to join them.
Renee DiResta, a researcher at the Stanford Internet
Observatory who studies online movements, said the violence
Wednesday was the result of online movements operating in
closed social media networks where people believed the claims
of voter fraud and of the election being stolen from Mr.
Trump. “These people are acting because they are convinced an
election was stolen,” DiResta said. “This is a demonstration
of the very real-world impact of echo chambers.” She added:
“This has been a striking repudiation of the idea that there
is an online and an offline world and that what is said online
is in some way kept online.”
breached by pro-Trump mob during 'failed insurrection,'
woman shot inside dies.
(ABC News, January 6, 2021)
This comes as the Senate met about the election.
Trump Predicts A “Dangerous” Next Two Weeks Under the Trump
(15-min. video; Katie Couric, January 6,
I chatted with President Donald Trump’s niece Mary, the author
of “Too Much and Never Enough,” on her uncle’s behavior
today. “Donald is feeling on the one hand emboldened
they got away with it,” Mary said. “On the other hand
he’s locked out of Twitter, he’s probably more desperate than
he’s ever been in his life. Short of the congress stepping in
impeaching and removing him the next two weeks are going to be
the most dangerous in our countries history and after today
that’s really saying something.”
defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes.
(Associated Press, January 6, 2021)
Infuriating President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence
acknowledged Wednesday he does not have the power to throw out
the electoral votes that will make Democrat Joe Biden the next
president, dashing Trump’s baseless hopes that Pence somehow
could find a way to keep them in office.
Pence, under intense pressure from Trump and his allies to
overturn the election results, issued a lengthy statement
laying out his conclusion that a vice president cannot claim
“unilateral authority” to reject states’ electoral votes. “It
is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend
the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral
authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted
and which should not,” Pence wrote in a letter to members of
Congress before he gaveled in the joint session of Congress.
In a remarkable moment underscoring the dramatic split between
Trump and his once most loyal lieutenant, Pence released the
statement just after he arrived at the Capitol to tally the
electoral votes and even as the president was telling
thousands of supporters gathered near the White House that
Pence could overturn those results. “If Mike Pence does the
right thing we win the election,” Trump told supporters, who
later marched through Washington and stormed the Capitol.
Trump tweeted his disapproval of Pence after returning to the
White House. “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what
should have been done to protect our Country and our
Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected
set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they
were asked to previously certify,” he wrote. “USA demands the
the odds, Georgia Democrats make history with Senate
(3-min. video; ABC News, January 6, 2021)
Democrats have a majority in the House and are projected to
control the Senate.
Is Taking Over the Republican Party.
(Vice, January 5,
President Trump's new favorite member of Congress, Marjorie
Taylor Greene, is a QAnon believer.
the Insurgent and MAGA Right are Being Welded Together on
the Streets of Washington D.C.
(Bellingcat, January 5,
On January 6th, 2021, a vast constellation of American
right-wing groups and individuals will converge on Washington
D.C. to protest what they falsely believe to be a stolen US
Presidential election. The organizations currently planning
rallies range from the comparatively moderate, Women for
America First, to violent extremist groups like the Proud
Boys. Several different rallies are planned for the 6th,
including a “Wild Protest” named in reference to a tweet
President Donald Trump made urging his followers to attend.
This will be the third set of right-wing rallies in D.C. since
the election. If it follows the same pattern as the previous
gatherings, the day will be filled with mostly peaceful
speeches and marches while the night will bear witness to
horrific street violence. The last such rally, in December,
led to four stabbings and 33 arrests.
threat sent to air traffic controllers vowing revenge for
killing of Iranian general is under investigation.
(2-min. audio recording; CBS News, January 5, 2021)
Multiple air traffic controllers in New York heard a chilling
threat Monday in audio obtained exclusively by CBS News: "We
are flying a plane into the Capitol on Wednesday. Soleimani
will be avenged." The threat refers to Qassem Soleimani, the
Iranian general killed last year in a U.S. drone strike
ordered by President Trump. It was made on the one-year
anniversary of Soleimani's death, for which Iranian officials
have long vowed revenge.
vs. NIO: Battle for the World’s Largest EV Market.
(6-min. video; Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2021)
Gone are the long waits at charging stations: Chinese
electric-vehicle startup NIO is pioneering battery-swap
systems, challenging Tesla and other rival car makers. Here’s
how NIO and Tesla are racing for the world’s largest EV market
mutations may cause another ‘very, very bad’ COVID-19 wave,
(Science Magazine, January 5, 2021)
This time it is not a completely new threat, but a rapidly
spreading variant of SARS-CoV-2. In southeastern England,
where the B.1.1.7 variant first caught scientists’ attention
last month, it has quickly replaced other variants, and it may
be the harbinger of a new, particularly perilous phase of the
pandemic. “One concern is that B.1.1.7 will now become the
dominant global variant with its higher transmission and it
will drive another very, very bad wave,” says Jeremy Farrar,
an infectious disease expert who heads the Wellcome Trust.
Whereas the pandemic’s trajectory in 2020 was fairly
predictable, “I think we’re going into an unpredictable phase
now,” as a result the virus’ evolution, Farrar says.
Rollback of Bird Protections Cemented in Trump
Administration’s Final Days.
(National Audubon Society,
January 5, 2021)
Finalized bird-killer policy sidesteps the courts in a clear
attempt to hamstring incoming administration from being able
to protect birds. The outgoing administration has severely
weakened the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—a cornerstone of bird
conservation, which protects over 1,000 species. With just two
weeks left in their term, they have finalized their rollback,
despite the federal courts ruling their attempts illegal.
We cannot let that stand. Because unless we shore up the MBTA,
corporations won’t be held accountable when they recklessly
kill birds. They won’t have to pay to fix the damage they’ve
caused, like when birds are swamped in oil spills or in the
waste pits left by oil and gas extraction, and that means
they’ll have little incentive to take proper care.
claims he and Pence agree on VP's election authority,
contradicting prior Pence statement.
(3-min. video; CBS
News, January 5, 2021)
The New York Times and other news outlets reported Tuesday
that Pence told Mr. Trump he doesn't believe he possesses the
power to block Congress' certification of President-elect Joe
On Tuesday night, Mr. Trump called that report "fake news."
Mr. Trump, in a statement issued by the Trump campaign,
claimed he and Pence are on the same page. Pence has not
issued such a statement independently.
GOP opposition grows to Electoral College challenge.
(Politico, January 5, 2021)
The effort to overturn Trump's loss may be defeated
overwhelmingly while fracturing his party.
The Senate Republicans opposed to certifying President-elect
Joe Biden’s win are heading toward a hefty defeat on
Wednesday. The only remaining question is this: how badly do
they lose? Just 11 GOP senators have signaled support for
separate efforts led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh
Hawley (R-Mo.). That makes 13 supporters — and many more have
come out swinging against it.
“To challenge a state’s certification, given how specific the
Constitution is, would be a violation of my oath of office —
that is not something I am willing to do and is not something
Oklahomans would want me to do,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe
(R-Okla.), who announced his decision Tuesday.
Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and
Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) also said Tuesday that they would not
object to the election results. In a statement, Moran said
that doing so "would risk undermining our democracy — which is
built upon the rule of law and separation of powers" and that
"no victory for one’s cause today can be worth what we would
lose tomorrow." Moran is up for reelection in 2022.
“Congress would take away the power to choose the president
from the people and place it in the hands of whichever party
controls Congress,” wrote Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in an op-ed
posted Tuesday. “This action essentially would end our
tradition of democratic presidential elections, empowering
politicians and party bosses in Washington.”
Wednesday’s vote will amount to Senate Republicans’ most
significant rejection of Trump, who continues to make false
claims about widespread voter fraud in the election he lost.
While the president this week attacked Republicans who
rejected his efforts, some of his strongest supporters argue
that breaking with the president this time should not erase
their ardent support over the past four years.
“I support President Trump and have worked with the president
to advance policies important for North Dakota and our
nation,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said. But “the people of
North Dakota do not want Congress to determine their vote, and
we should not set the precedent by doing it for other states.
Trump’s Senate supporters can’t overturn Electoral College
results they don’t like – here’s how the law actually works.
(The Conversation, January 5, 2021)
On Jan. 6, the United States Congress will gather in a joint
session to tally the votes of the Electoral College, which
cast its ballots in state capitols last month. In his role as
president of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence is slated
to officially announce Joe Biden as the country’s next
This formal certification process – the final step in the U.S.
presidential election – is the latest target of President
Donald Trump’s desperate, untenable and possibly criminal
effort to overturn the 2020 results. In his refusal to
concede, Trump is pressuring Pence and Republicans in Congress
to delay or oppose certification.
Can they really subvert the Electoral College? The answer,
both legally and politically, is no.
To minimize the likelihood that they would ever again decide
the outcome of a presidential election, lawmakers in 1887
passed the Electoral Count Act. It puts the onus for resolving
electoral disputes on the states. As long as they do so,
certifying their election results no later than six days
before the Electoral College meets to cast its votes, then
states will enjoy “safe harbor” protection. That means their
results will be considered “conclusive” when Congress convenes
to certify the vote on Jan. 6.
On Jan. 6, at least a dozen Republican Senators in Congress
say they will oppose the results in Georgia, Pennsylvania,
Arizona and Michigan over discredited concerns of election
fraud in an attempt to swing 63 electoral votes from Biden to
Trump. There is no chance Democrats, who control the House of
Representatives, will vote to uphold this challenge. Unless he
recuses himself and hands the job over the Senate president
pro tempore – as Vice President Hubert Humphrey did in January
1969 – Pence will have the ceremonial but politically
consequential role of presiding over a contested
certification. After the sealed certificates of vote from the
50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., are brought into the
joint session in ceremonial mahogany boxes, the vice president
opens the 51 envelopes one at a time and hands them to the
designated “tellers.” As the tellers announce each state’s
results aloud and record the votes for tabulation, the vice
president “calls for objections, if any.” If Republicans
object, a vote follows in both chambers of Congress. When the
challengers cannot gain the necessary support, Pence should
declare Biden president-elect.
Pence is constitutionally bound to perform this duty, but
Trump says confirming Biden’s win would be a betrayal. An
American president orchestrating an attempt to reverse an
election – with at least a dozen senators falling in step –
does profound harm to democracy, which hinges on the peaceful
transfer of power. Republicans, and most visibly Mike Pence,
face a choice between fidelity to the Constitution and
fidelity to Trump.
biggest threat to the Georgia runoff may be Trump.
1-to-4-min. videos; Washington Post, January 5, 2021)
Georgia election officials say Trump's voter fraud claims have
shaken voter confidence. Their task is now to reassure voters.
“Everybody's vote is going to count. Everybody's vote did
count,” Georgia's voting system manager Gabriel Sterling said.
More than 3 million voters have already cast their ballots,
setting a record turnout for a runoff in the state. Trump's
claims, which persist after Georgia certified Joe Biden's win
last month after three counts of ballots, are “all easily,
provably false,” Sterling said at the news conference. “Yet
the president persists and by doing so undermines Georgians’
faith in the electoral system, especially Republican
reimagines Trump's Georgia call as a love ballad.
(2-min. video; Late Show Fake News Alert; also see Colbert on
December 18, 2020, below.]
3D Video Microscopy Shows Human White Blood Cells Use
Molecular Paddles to Swim.
SciTechDaily, January 4, 2021)
Human white blood cells, known as leukocytes, swim using a
newly described mechanism called molecular paddling,
researchers report in the Biophysical Journal
microswimming mechanism could explain how both immune cells
and cancer cells migrate in various fluid-filled niches in the
body, for good or for harm.
Meyers: Trump’s Phone Call with Georgia Election Officials
Could Be a Crime.
(20-min. video; A Closer Look, January
Sturgeon warns Donald Trump against coming to Scotland amid
(1-min. video; The National/Scotland,
January 4, 2021)
With covid cases rising rapidly, the Scottish Government has
brought in a raft of new rules, limiting travel into and
around the country.
Asked about the possibility of a visit from the outgoing
American Commander-in-Chief, First Minister of Scotland Nicola
Sturgeon said she hoped that Trump’s immediate travel plan was
“to exit the White House”. She added: “We are not allowing
people to come into Scotland without an essential purpose
right now and that would apply to him just as applies to
anybody else, and coming to play golf is not what I would
consider to be an essential purpose.”
The White House have not denied the reports Trump is coming to
Scotland, though they’ve moved to downplay the speculation.
where all the COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently stand.
(Popular Science, January 4, 2021)
More than a dozen frontrunners have reached late-stage
simple chart shows why the new coronavirus variants are so
(New York Times, January 4, 2021)
Trump could flee to Scotland in bid to avoid Joe Biden's
(The National/Scotland, January 4, 2021)
Donald Trump could be set to flee to his loss-making Ayrshire
golf course in a bid to avoid Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Prestwick has been told to expect the arrival of a US military
Boeing 757 aircraft, that is occasionally used by Trump, on
January 19 – the day before his Democrat rival formally
becomes president. A source at the airport told the Sunday
Post: “There is a booking for an American military version of
the Boeing 757 on January 19, the day before the inauguration.
That’s one that’s normally used by the Vice-President but
often used by the First Lady. Presidential flights tend to get
booked far in advance, because of the work that has to be done
The golf course is currently closed because of the coronavirus
pandemic. The resort says that they will remain closed until
Friday February 5, 2021, "to ensure the health and safety of
our guests and associates". Currently, under Level 4
restrictions, golf clubs can still allow groups of up to four
golfers with no restrictions on number of households to play.
Though, club houses and shops must all close.
Speculation of the tycoon’s visit to his mother’s homeland
comes as his flagship Turnberry course posted a loss of more
than £2.3 million in 2019. Documents filed with Companies
House at the end of the year show the resort had a turnover of
£19,667,000 and made a loss of £2,307,000 in 2019. That’s the
sixth year in a row that it’s made a loss. Trump’s other
Scottish golf resort, at Menie in Aberdeenshire, made a loss
of more than £1m for the eighth consecutive year.
Cox Richardson: Whether or not America will be a democracy
((Letters From An American, January 4, 2021)
We are right now fighting over whether or not America will be
a democracy. On the one hand are Americans, Republicans as
well as Democrats, who might agree on virtually nothing else,
standing on the reality that Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020
election fair and square, and by a significant amount, and are
recognizing that he is the president-elect. On the other hand
are Trump and his supporters, who are arguing without any
evidence that the president has somehow been cheated of
reelection, and who are using the uncertainty their own words
have created to argue that the election now must be
Secretary of State’s office holds a news conference after
leaked Trump call.
(entire 31-min. video; The Hill,
January 4, 2021)
Georgia’s voting systems manager on Monday delivered an
impassioned point-by-point repudiation of President Trump's
numerous claims of fraud and malfeasance in the 2020
presidential election while urging voters to look past the
president's rhetoric and “turn out to vote.” Speaking to
reporters at the Georgia state Capitol, Gabriel Sterling
warned that the president's rhetoric threatened to suppress
turnout in the state's two upcoming Senate runoff elections.
“Given the nature of the president’s statements and several
other people who have been aligned with him previously … we
are specifically asking you and telling you: Please turn out
and vote tomorrow,” said Sterling, a Republican who has
emerged as a regular critic of Trump’s allegations.
election official shoots down Trump's election conspiracy
(2-min. video; CNN, January 4, 2021)
A top Georgia election official said Monday that "everybody's
vote did count" in the state's November elections as he shot
down a list of voter fraud conspiracy theories President
Donald Trump aired in a call with Georgia Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger this weekend. "The reason I'm having to
stand here today is because there are people in positions of
authority and respect who have said their votes didn't count,
and it's not true," said Gabriel Sterling, the voting systems
implementation manager for the Georgia Secretary of State's
office, during a news conference.
Declares Republican Party “Weak and Ineffective” for Not
Backing His Attempts To Subvert the Results of the 2020
Presidential Election, Which Was Decisively Won by
President-Elect Joe Biden.
(PoliticusUSA, January 4,
“The ‘Surrender Caucus’ within the Republican Party will go
down in infamy as weak and ineffective ‘guardians’ of our
Nation, who were willing to accept the certification of
fraudulent presidential numbers!”, the president wrote.
the Supreme Court set up the authoritarian takeover of
(Medium, January 4, 2021)
Donald Trump's phone call to Georgia's Secretary of State Brad
Raffensperger is the latest illustration of his lifelong
criminality. Over the last 40 years, career criminals like
Trump have increasingly moved out of the business world and
the streets and into politics, something for which we can
thank the Supreme Court.
There are, among us, a small number of individuals who are
career criminals. They have literally spent their entire lives
skirting or outright breaking the law, and not only believe
the law doesn't apply to them, but actually delight in getting
away with their crimes.
Being successful in the world doesn’t mean someone isn’t a
career criminal. Witness the numerous members of Congress
who’ve been busted or at least outed for everything from
giving no bid contracts to their own companies (Cheney and
Halliburton) to putting bricks of bribe cash into their
freezers (Rep. Jefferson). Even Forbes magazine called Trump’s
commerce secretary, billionaire Wilbur Ross, a professional
“grifter” for all the scams he has perpetrated in his career.
While fundamentally dishonest people has been a problem for
our society and business community for centuries, it has
particularly become a problem in our political world since
1976 and 1978, when the Supreme Court explicitly ruled that
billionaires or corporations giving massive amounts of money
to politicians and political parties is no longer considered
bribery or corruption but, instead, is “free speech“ protected
by the First Amendment. Never before in all of American
history had bribing politicians been considered free-speech,
until the Buckley v Valejo and First National Bank v Belotti
Supreme Court decisions. In 2010, conservatives of the court
doubled down on these decisions and even expanded their scope
with Citizens United.
Call To Georgia Election Officials Sparks Debate Over
(NPR, January 4, 2021)
Most of Trump's detractors on social media said the
president's intentions were clearly to intimidate Georgia
officials to change the state's election results. His critics
argue Trump violated a federal law that criminalizes the
actions by election officials or by someone in federal office
that "knowingly and willfully intimidates, threatens, or
coerces" another during the election process. The federal code
also criminalizes actions that "knowingly and willfully
deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the
residents of a state of a fair and impartially conducted
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder cited that federal
criminal statute in a tweet Sunday: "As you listen to the tape
consider this federal criminal statute."
Michael Bromwich, a former inspector general at the Department
of Justice, tweeted that Trump's "best defense would be
Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California,
Irvine, wrote in an article in Slate on Monday that Trump
"likely broke both federal and state law" in the phone call
and that he "certainly committed an impeachable offense that
is grounds for removing him from the office he will be
vacating in less than three weeks, or disqualifying him from
future elected office."
Richard W. Painter, a professor of corporate law at the
University of Minnesota and former associate counsel to
Republican President George W. Bush, agreed, calling for
Trump's impeachment, so he "can never hold public office
Trump's message during the call also violates Georgia law,
according to Anthony Michael Kreis, a Georgia State University
law professor, who spoke with Politico on Sunday. "The Georgia
code says that anybody who solicits, requests or commands or
otherwise attempts to encourage somebody to commit election
fraud is guilty of solicitation of election fraud," Kreis
said. " 'Soliciting or requesting' is the key language. The
president asked, in no uncertain terms, the secretary of state
to invent votes, to create votes that were not there. Not only
did he ask for that in terms of just overturning the specific
margin that Joe Biden won by, but then said we needed one
additional vote to secure victory in Georgia."
Chris Krebs, the Republican cybersecurity and election
security official hired by and then fired by Trump, called the
president's actions "un-American and anti-democratic." He said
Sunday, "An incumbent should NEVER be able to put their thumb
on the scale of national elections."
authorities may investigate Trump phone call and Schiff
calls it 'possibly criminal'.
(Daily Kos, January 4,
Trump is extremely unlikely to face any criminal prosecution,
let alone the five-year prison sentence a Texas woman received
for voting when she did not know she was ineligible to vote
while on supervised release from prison after a felony
conviction. Because when you’re a powerful white man, using
your power to try to bully elections officials into
overturning a state’s entire presidential election by
“finding” the precise number of votes you need is not
something that carries any consequences, just as nothing Trump
has ever done wrong has carried any negat