Cochituate Boat Ramp Project
(4-min. video; Natick GIS,
September 23, 2021)
Rich Ames and drone show an early stage of this 2-year
[Also see Sept. 3, 2021 (below).]
judge rules against DeSantis ban on so-called sanctuary
cities, noting hate group ties.
(Daily Kos, September
A federal judge this week struck down key portions of
Florida’s ban on so-called sanctuary cities, “declaring
portions of a law unconstitutional and tinged with
‘discriminatory motives,’” Miami Herald reports. The court’s
ruling cites “biased and unreliable data generated” by two
notorious anti-immigrant hate groups founded by white
nationalist and eugenicist John Tanton. Notably, the judge’s
decision refers to these organizations as hate groups.
Poop Is Loaded With Microplastics.
(Wired, September 22,
An alarming new study finds that infant feces contain 10 times
more polyethylene terephthalate (aka polyester) than an
Do not prepare infant formula with hot water in a plastic
bottle—use a glass bottle and transfer it over to the plastic
one once the liquid reaches room temperature. Vacuum and sweep
to keep floors clear of microfibers. Avoid plastic wrappers
and containers when possible. Microplastics have contaminated
every aspect of our lives, so while you’ll never get rid of
them, you can at least reduce your family’s exposure.
3 times taller than Niagara Falls to zip past Earth on 1st
day of Fall.
(Accuweather, September 22, 2021)
At its closest approach, it will be around 930,000 miles away
from the Earth, which is almost four times farther away than
the moon. It is flying through the solar system much faster
than a speeding bullet at around 6 miles per second.
future founding father wrote gripping letter on extreme
(Accuweather, September 22, 2021)
The year was 1772 and Alexander Hamilton, a teenage office
clerk who would go on to become one of the most significant
figures in U.S. history, wrote that what he witnessed in the
wake of a storm would "strike astonishment into angels."
eruption in Spain's Canary Islands forces evacuations.
(Accuweather, September 21, 2021)
After days of increased seismic activity that resulted in more
than 22,000 earthquakes, the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the
island of La Palma erupted for the first time in half a
drone footage captures the moment lava collides with a pool.
(Accuweather, September 21, 2021)
As lava flowed into populated areas of La Palma, part of the
volcanic Canary Islands, a drone was overhead -- and it
captured the whole scene as it encroached on homes and even a
pool, causing a terrifying spectacle.
(Mozilla, September 21, 2021)
Launching Today: Privacy Reviews for Zoom, Telegram, Slack and
18 Other Video Call Apps.
Your Email Account Just Hijacked?
(Ask Bob Rankin,
September 21, 2021)
The first thing to do is relax. It's quite likely that your
account wasn't actually compromised. Unfortunately, spammers
can misappropriate your email address without actually hacking
into your email account. It is relatively easy to "spoof" an
email address so that it appears a message is coming from one
address when it was really sent from another.
But what if your email account was compromised? It is possible
for a hacker to change your email password so that you cannot
log in to your own account. Then they can raid your contact
list to harvest valid email addresses to add to their spam
lists. Also, the hacker now has access to all of your saved
email, which may include sensitive personal and financial
Campaign Knew Dominion Fraud Claims Were False, Memo
Reportedly Shows—But Giuliani Still Pushed Them.
(Forbes, September 21, 2021)
“The memo produced by the Trump campaign shows that, at least
internally, the Trump campaign found there was no evidence to
support the conspiracy theories regarding Dominion,” Coomer’s
attorneys wrote in the court filings, as quoted by the Times,
arguing the campaign “continued to allow its agents … to
advance debunked conspiracy theories and defame, apparently
without providing them with their own research debunking those
new UN climate architecture is emerging focused on need for
(The Hill, September 21, 2021)
The opening bell of the 76th session of the UN General
Assembly started Tuesday with a warning from Secretary-General
António Guterres, “I am here to sound the alarm: The world
must wake up. We are on the edge of an abyss — and moving in
the wrong direction.” He explained that “the climate alarm
bells are also ringing at fever pitch. The recent report of
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was a code red
for humanity. We see the warning signs in every continent and
And he is not wrong. In the U.S., this summer was the hottest
in 126 years of records, tied with the Dust Bowl summer of
1936. Nearly one in three Americans experienced a weather
disaster this summer. Climate change is accelerating and every
additional increment of climate pollution is causing
U.S. President Joe Biden followed, noting that “Scientists and
experts are telling us that we’re fast approaching a ‘point of
no return,’— literally.” Biden explained that climate
scientists tell us it is not too late to keep alive the 1.5
degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement. But the window is
rapidly closing. We must get serious. And we must act fast.
The president also announced that he would more than quadruple
the U.S. contribution to $11.4 billion a year by 2024 towards
the $100 billion a year in climate support promised developing
Bezos Puts $1 Billion of $10 Billion Climate Pledge Into
(News Week 365, September 21, 2021)
The initiative is intended to support an international push to
safeguard at least 30 percent of Earth’s lands and waters by
2030, known as 30×30. The plan, led by Britain, Costa Rica and
France, is intended to help tackle a global biodiversity
crisis that puts a million species of plants and animals at
risk of extinction. While climate change is part of the
problem, activities like farming and fishing have been even
bigger drivers of biodiversity loss. The 30×30 plan would try
to slow that by protecting intact natural areas like
old-growth forests and wetlands, which not only nurture
biodiversity but also store carbon and filter water.
As the plan has gained momentum, one sticking point has been
money to help developing countries participate. Some of these
nations are far richer in biodiversity than wealthier nations,
many of which have already exploited their old-growth forests
and other ecosystems for profit
Rules That Will Define Our Second Pandemic Winter
Atlantic, September 20, 2021)
The pandemic keeps changing, but these principles can guide
your thinking through the seasons to come.
and Gomorrah? Evidence That a Cosmic Impact Destroyed a
Biblical City in the Jordan Valley.
September 20, 2021)
Tall el-Hamman has been the focus of an ongoing debate as to
whether it could be the biblical city of Sodom, one of the two
cities in the Old Testament Book of Genesis that were
destroyed by God for how wicked they and their inhabitants had
become. One denizen, Lot, is saved by two angels who instruct
him not to look behind as they flee. Lot’s wife, however,
lingers and is turned into a pillar of salt. Meanwhile, fire
and brimstone fell from the sky; multiple cities were
destroyed; thick smoke rose from the fires; city inhabitants
were killed and area crops were destroyed in what sounds like
an eyewitness account of a cosmic impact event. It’s a
satisfying connection to make.
Space Agency: Why We’re Exploring the Moons of Mars
(SciTechDaily, September 20, 2021)
The Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission is scheduled to
launch in the fiscal year of 2024. Largely ignoring the
looming presence of Mars, the spacecraft will focus its suite
of observing instruments on the moons, Phobos and Deimos. The
mission plans to land on Phobos and collect samples to bring
back to Earth in 2029. It is these barren moons that
scientists believe contain evidence of the early days of the
Solar System, and how habitability may have flourished and
died on the planet below.
Didn’t Evolve Gradually – They Evolved Complexity in Two
Dramatic Bursts 250-Million-Years Apart.
September 20, 2021)
When land plants first diversified in the early Devonian about
420 million to 360 million years ago, Earth was a warmer world
devoid of trees or terrestrial vertebrate animals. Arachnids
like scorpions and mites roamed the land amongst short, patchy
plants and the tallest land organism was a 20-foot fungus
resembling a tree trunk. After the Devonian, huge changes
occurred in the animal kingdom: Land animals evolved to have
large body sizes and more varied diets, insects diversified,
dinosaurs appeared – but plants didn’t see a major change in
reproductive complexity until they developed flowers.
Insect pollination and animal seed dispersal may have appeared
as early as 300 million years ago, but it’s not until the last
100 million years that these really intricate interactions
with pollinators are driving this super high complexity in
flowering plants. That was a very long period of time where
plants could have interacted with insects in the way that
flowering plants do now, but they didn’t to the same degree of
actively working to bury McConnell, midterms be damned.
(Daily Kos, September 20, 2021)
Jettisoning anyone and everyone who hasn't pledged absolute
fealty to Trump is the point. He would much rather have a
minority party with no one but cultists than a majority party
where the center of gravity was still with the McConnells of
the world. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has kissed the
ring, and if he becomes speaker of the House, his leadership
of the House will be no different than having Trump as
But McConnell still isn't a Trump convert. In fact, he clearly
can't stand the man. Of course, McConnell also didn't have the
guts or the political juice to put a final dagger in Trump's
coffin back in January. So here he is, with Trump actively
working to bury him.
“Republicans in disarray” is kind of an understatement.
Republicans in a Survivor-style death match to the end is more
Looks for Challenger to Depose Mitch McConnell as Split
(Washington Post, September 19, 2021)
GOP’s most influential figure and its top elected official are
divided on policy, politics and who should lead the party in
Years Ago, Ancient Humans Turned Elephant Remains Into a
Surprising Array of Bone Tools.
Ancient humans could do some impressive things with elephant
bones. A new study surveyed tools excavated from a site in
Italy where large numbers of elephants had died. The team
discovered that humans at this site roughly 400,000 years ago
appropriated those carcasses to produce an unprecedented array
of bone tools—some crafted with sophisticated methods that
wouldn’t become common for another 100,000 years.
you see this invasive pest, kill it on the spot.
video; Accuweather, September 17, 2021)
From Virginia to Illinois to Massachusetts, an invasive
species threatens to devastate vineyards and forests across
the United States. The spotted lanternfly, a beautiful but
devastating species indigenous to parts of Asia, is spreading
across the country despite the best efforts from experts to
halt the spread. The potential economic impact of the
lanternfly is vast, as the species can survive on over 70
different plants and trees known in Pennsylvania, but it is a
particular threat to vineyards.
Find Malware Hiding in Windows Subsystem for Linux.
(Tom's Hardware, September 17, 2021)
The malware targeted WSL to evade detection mechanisms.
and Google Go Further Than Ever to Appease Russia.
(Wired, September 17, 2021)
By removing a voting app from their app stores at the
Kremlin’s request, the tech giants have set a troubling new
Black Holes the Size of an Atom: What New Experimental
(SciTechDaily, September 17, 2021)
While the biggest black holes have been already detected and
even photographed, there is now also feasible evidence for
tiny black holes the size of potassium atoms (with a radius of
about 0.23 nanometers, equivalent to 0.23 billionth of a
meter). These atomic-sized black holes were formed in the
first moments of the Big Bang and may even comprise the
totality of the dark matter of the universe.
targets GM for giving to Republicans who voted to overturn
(1-min. video; The Detroit News,
September 17, 2021)
In a digital ad released earlier this week titled "Navigating
to Treason," MoveOn parodies an ad for a GM vehicle
"Our leadership doesn't start and stop at the garage door.
That's why General Motors PAC proudly supports politicians who
help us stay on top, even when they support violent
insurrection," the ad reads. "Introducing the 2021 General
Motors PAC Lineup, with innovative sedition stoking
capabilities and best in class disinformation spreading
is how embarrassing Trump’s ‘fraud’ claims have gotten.
(Washington Post, September 17, 2021)
During the 318 days since the 2020 presidential election,
there has been an unprecedented effort to elevate and prove
claims that there were enough illegal votes cast in enough
counties in enough states that it cost Donald Trump a victory.
That effort has resulted in precisely nothing substantive, no
proof of people stuffing ballot boxes or illegally voting
thousands of times or of electronic voting machines being
manipulated. In multiple states, there were audits and
recounts that validated the outcome: Trump lost. And yet...
Quayle talked Mike Pence into rejecting Trump. What a story.
(5-min. Rachel Maddow video plus 2-min. video; MSNBC,
September 17, 2021)
Pence was praised for doing the right thing on Jan. 6. Now we
know what it took.
[See both videos, to understand how close we came - and why!]
Leaked a Bunch of Data From a Right-Wing Web Host.
(Wired, September 17, 2021)
The hacktivist collective targeted the domain registrar Epik
for providing services to clients including the Texas GOP,
Parler, and 8chan.
military admits ‘horrible mistake’ in Kabul drone strike
that killed 10 Afghans.
(2-min. video; Washington Post,
September 17, 2021)
A U.S. drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians,
including seven children, was conducted after numerous
miscalculations by commanders who wrongly believed an aid
worker was hauling explosives in his car, defense officials
said Friday, reversing the Pentagon’s earlier insistence that
the operation prevented an imminent suicide attack on U.S.
The Defense Department had previously defended the Aug. 29
operation as a “righteous strike,” saying it tracked a white
sedan for hours after the vehicle left a suspected Islamic
State-Khorasan safe house. In fact, the driver, Zamarai
Ahmadi, was a longtime aid worker for a U.S.-based group and
was hauling water cans for his family.
‘born into the climate crisis’ face another challenge: Fear
of the future.
(Washington Post, September 16, 2021)
Young people coming of age in an era of climate disasters are
trying to channel anxiety about the planet flooding and
Republican who voted to impeach Trump won’t run again.
(Associated Press, September 16, 2021)
U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, a former NFL player with a
once-bright political future, cited his two young children for
his decision and noted “the chaotic political environment that
currently infects our country.” He is the first Latino to
represent Ohio in Congress. “While my desire to build a fuller
family life is at the heart of my decision, it is also true
that the current state of our politics, especially many of the
toxic dynamics inside our own party, is a significant factor
in my decisions,” Gonzalez said in his statement.
In an interview with the New York Times announcing his
decision, Gonzalez called Trump “a cancer for the country” who
represents a threat to democracy and said that Jan. 6 had been
“a line-in-the-sand moment” for him. While he said there
seemed to have been a moment then when the party might break
with the former president, he has been dismayed by its
decision to instead embrace Trump. “This is the direction that
we’re going to go in for the next two years and potentially
four, and it’s going to make Trump the center of fund-raising
efforts and political outreach,” Gonzalez told the newspaper.
“That’s not something I’m going to be part of.” He said he
plans to spend his time now working to prevent Trump from
being elected to the White House again.
Sacklers’ immunity threatened as DOJ moves to block opioid
(Ars Technica, September 16, 2021)
The Department of Justice is fighting to strip the billionaire
Sackler family of the lifetime legal immunity granted as part
of a controversial $4.5 billion opioid settlement.
The settlement essentially dissolves Purdue Pharma, which was
owned and largely run by the Sacklers - who pocketed more than
$10 billion from opioid sales. The company aggressively and
deceptively marketed OxyContin beginning in the 1990s and is
largely seen as sparking the devastating epidemic of opioid
addiction and overdoses that has killed nearly 500,000 people
in the US over the last two decades. Purdue pleaded guilty
twice for wrongdoing in its marketing of OxyContin in that
time. The settlement put to rest thousands of opioid-related
lawsuits against Purdue, which had declared bankruptcy under
the crushing litigation.
Democratic Push To Tax The Rich More Is 40 Years In The
(NPR, September 16, 2021)
If Congress manages to pass President Biden's big budget
package this fall with most of its spending and tax changes
intact, it will represent the biggest shift in federal fiscal
policy in 40 years. If it happens — still a big if — it will
be because Congress can circumvent its usual rules and process
tax-and-spending measures via a process called
. That process is a powerhouse capable of
major disruptions and changes in government because it offers
protection from filibuster. Reconciliation bills can pass with
a simple majority.
If they succeed, they will be using reconciliation to reverse
the direction of federal tax policy, which has brought down
the top tax rate and made other changes that benefit
corporations and the wealthy over the past four decades. And
they will be doing it with the same process that was used to
set that direction four decades ago when first-year President
Ronald Reagan used reconciliation to achieve his "revolution"
in federal fiscal policy in 1981.
in absolute freak-out over "Death Panels".
September 16, 2021)
Remember the nonstop right-wing coverage of the those
terrifying pretend “Death Panels” that would be upon us the
moment Obamacare was signed into law? Republican politicians
waxed poetic about their moral outrage at these imaginary
death panels deciding who would get healthcare and who would
not. Sarah Palin (remember her?) was the queen of the death
panel lie and said, “The America I know and love is not one in
which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to
stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can
decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of
productivity in society.' "
Of course there was nothing in the law that had anything to do
with a death panel. But reality doesn’t hold much sway with
most Republicans or right-wing media. So the lie spread and
became a rallying cry for the Tea Party extremists. The era of
the civil congressional town hall meeting was over because
Democrats were shouted down by rabid Fox News enthusiasts that
were convinced healthcare would be rationed and denied to
their elderly loved one. The lie was recognized as useful by
more mainstream Republicans and spread further. It became
central to the Obamacare debate and was designated
PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year in 2009.
Twelve years later, as has been widely reported and discussed
in the media and here on Daily Kos, the COVID-19 pandemic is
so ravaging Idaho’s unvaccinated population and overwhelming
the healthcare system that critically ill people are being
denied life-saving care. The hospitals in Idaho have
implemented crisis care standards. This isn’t pretend. It is
happening right now in Idaho.
Where is the outrage in conservative media? Where are the
self-important speeches from the Republican senators and other
politicians expressing their moral outrage that this is
happening in our country?
Oh wait. I forgot. Modern-day Republicans literally have no
moral compass or fidelity to any moral principles. The
politics of “death panels” in Idaho in 2021 are terrible for
them so we get crickets. Anti-vaccine, anti-science sentiment
rules parts of the party and gets winks and nods from the
rest. Cutting spending on healthcare and public health is a
favorite Republican pastime. The fact this disaster is
happening in very red Idaho, with one of the lowest
vaccination rates in the country and total state control of
government by Republicans means they really don’t want to talk
[Per the link below, not yet!]
state with lowest COVID vaccination rate rationing
(Agence France-Presse, September 16, 2021)
Idaho, the US state with the lowest Covid vaccination rate in
the country, announced Thursday it was rationing medical care
and would turn patients away from ventilators if they aren't
likely to recover. The northwestern state's health department
said it had enacted the measure because of "the massive
increase of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization" which
had "exhausted" existing resources. "We don't have enough
resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals,
whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or
because of a car accident", it added, calling on more Idaho
residents to get vaccinated. Someone who is otherwise healthy
and would recover more rapidly may get treated or have access
to a ventilator before someone who is not likely to recover."
Only 46 percent of Idaho's population of nearly 1.8 million
have received one or more doses of a Covid-19 vaccine,
according to the Covid Act Now tracker. This puts it at the
bottom of the table among 53 US states or territories. For
reference, 63 percent of the US population has received one or
more doses, with table topping Puerto Rico at 77 percent. More
than 630 people are hospitalized with Covid in the state,
compared to around 90 in early July. Around 20 are dying per
day, equal to the worst surge seen in December, and the figure
could rise further.
Vaccines, as well as other Covid mitigation measures like
masks and distancing, are politically polarizing issues in the
United States, with uptake much lower in conservative-leaning
regions. Former president Donald Trump carried Idaho with 64
percent of the popular vote compared to Joe Biden's 33 percent
in the 2020 election.
[France sees the link. When will our U.S. Republicans see it?]
Humans Used Bone Tools To Produce Clothing in Morocco
120,000 Years Ago.
(SciTechDaily, September 16, 2021)
A new study details more than 60 tools made of bone and one
tool made from the tooth of a cetacean, which includes whales,
dolphins, and porpoises. These finds, first unearthed from
Contrebandiers Cave, Morocco in 2011, are highly suggestive
proxy evidence for the earliest clothing in the archaeological
record and attest to the pan-African emergence of complex
culture and specialized tool manufacture.
Orbiter Captures Stunning Image of Volcanic Trenches on
(SciTechDaily, September 16, 2021)
This image of the young volcanic region of Elysium Planitia on
Mars was taken by the CaSSIS camera on the ESA-Roscosmos
ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). The two blue parallel
trenches in this image, called Cerberus Fossae, were thought
to have formed by tectonic processes. They run for almost one
thousand km over the volcanic region. In this image, CaSSIS is
looking straight down into one of these 2 km-wide fissures.
through galaxies and the dark matter web in this stunning
(1-min. video; Space, September 15,
It's a map and time machine rolled into one.
just hit Jupiter.
(Daily Kos, September 15, 2021)
On Monday, September 13, at about 6:39 P.M. Eastern, Harald
Paleske of Germany and José Luis Pereira of Brazil both caught
on video a pretty significant object impacting the surface of
Jupiter. From the size of the impact, a rough guess is an
asteroid or comet a few hundred feet wide. That’s no slouch; a
hit by something that size on Earth would leave a crater about
a mile wide.
backed by private-equity firms got $5 billion out of $2
trillion in federal Covid relief.
videos; NBC News, September 15, 2021)
Some $1.2 billion of PPP and other relief money targeted at
small businesses went to companies backed by large and
well-funded private-equity firms.
Kurt Schrader of Oregon helps kill drug pricing bill,
endangering Biden infrastructure plan.
September 15, 2021)
A House committee dealt an ominous if tentative blow Wednesday
to President Joe Biden’s huge social and environmental
infrastructure package, derailing a money-saving plan to let
Medicare negotiate the price it pays for prescription drugs.
The legislation would authorize Medicare to negotiate with
pharmaceutical companies, using lower prices paid in other
economically advanced countries as a yardstick. The savings
produced would be used to expand Medicare coverage by adding
dental, vision and hearing benefits. Democrats are counting on
the drug-pricing provisions to pay for a modest but
significant part of their $3.5 trillion plan to bolster the
safety net, address climate change and fund other programs.
Proponents say it could save $600 billion over the coming
U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, who inherited a fortune
from his grandfather who was a top executive at pharmaceutical
giant Pfizer, and who has accepted large donations from big
pharma during his seven terms in Congress, cast one of the key
Democratic votes against the drug pricing plan.
impersonate US DOT to target contractors after Senate passed
$1 trillion infrastructure bill.
(ZDNet, September 15,
The attackers were trying to harvest Microsoft Office 365
credentials. By creating a new domain, exploiting current
events, impersonating a known brand, and launching a
credential harvesting operation, the phishers came up with an
attack just different enough from known strikes to evade
standard detection methods.
Attackers sent their phishing emails from
"transportationgov[.]net," a newly created domain intended to
impersonate the usual government emails that come from .gov
addresses. Amazon was the new domain's registrar.
evolved intuitions about privacy aren’t made for this era.
(Psyche, September 15, 2021)
Our concern for privacy has its evolutionary roots in the need
to maintain boundaries between the self and others, for safety
and security. The motivation for personal space and
territoriality is a common phenomenon within the animal
kingdom. Among humans, this concern about regulating physical
access is complemented by one about regulating informational
access. The language abilities, complex social lives and long
memories of human beings made protecting our social
reputations almost as important as protecting our physical
bodies. Norms about sexual privacy, for instance, are common
across cultures and time periods.
However, our privacy reactions have been confounded by
technology. Cameras and microphones – with their superhuman
sensory abilities – were challenging enough. But the migration
of so much of our lives online is arguably the largest
environmental shift in our species’ history with regard to
privacy. And our evolved privacy psychology has not caught up.
internal research: ‘We make body image issues worse for one
in three teen girls.’
(The Verge, September 15, 2021)
Facebook knows the damage Instagram is doing to teens’ mental
7 In 10 Say Recent Rise In COVID-19 Deaths Was Preventable,
National Poll Finds; Job Approval For Supreme Court Drops To
(Quinnipiac University, September 15,
With the number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States now
topping 650,000, an overwhelmingly majority of Americans say
68 - 24 percent that the recent rise in COVID-19 deaths in the
U.S. was preventable, according to a Quinnipiac
(KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of adults released
today. Democrats say 89 - 7 percent, independents say 69 - 22
percent, and Republicans say 48 - 43 percent that the deaths
By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, Americans say 63 - 34 percent they
support requiring students, teachers, and staff to wear masks
in schools. Those with kids under 18 years old attending
public schools support 62 - 37 percent requiring students,
teachers, and staff to wear masks in schools. A majority say
57 - 41 percent that they support requiring everyone to wear
masks while in indoor public spaces.
Among registered voters, the Supreme Court receives a negative
37 - 50 percent job approval rating, with 13 percent not
offering an opinion. This is the worst job approval since
Quinnipiac University began asking the question in 2004, and a
steep drop from July 2020, when registered voters approved 52
- 37 percent.
Among registered voters, 63 percent say abortion should be
legal in all (32 percent) or most (31 percent) cases, which is
one of the highest levels of support since Quinnipiac
University began asking the question in 2004. This is also the
first time support for abortion being legal in all cases has
exceeded 30 percent. About 3 in 10 registered voters say that
abortion should be illegal in most (21 percent) or all (10
percent) cases. Americans say 51 - 39 percent that abortions
should be legal after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which
is usually around six weeks of pregnancy. They say 83 - 12
percent that abortion should be legal when the pregnancy was
caused by rape or incest. They say 88 - 6 percent that
abortions should be legal when it is necessary to save the
life of the mother. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans, 67 - 27 percent,
say they agree with the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court
decision that established a woman's right to an abortion. In
May, 63 percent agreed, while 28 percent disagreed.
Is Out of Oxygen.
(Daily Kos, September 15, 2021)
I am an 80 year old retired physician living on the Big Island
of Hawaii. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic we
have prided ourselves on our ability to self-discipline,
follow masking guidelines and socially distance, which has
been reflected in the lowest prevalence and mortality rates in
the country. However, with the emergence of the Delta variant,
we have seen rates skyrocket to the point that our
epidemiologic curves are approximating those of Florida and
other Southern red states. Our hospitals are full and there
are essentially no ICU beds available on the island. The
vaccination rate is stagnating at around 60%, and 98% of the
hospitalized Covid patients are unvaccinated.
Yesterday, my neighbor, a 75 year old retiree, developed
symptoms of renal stones; surgery would be necessary to remove
the stone. However, due to the Covid situation, there is no
oxygen available for non-emergent surgeries anywhere on the
islands. Thus, as my neighbor’s condition is not life
threatening, and even though he is in considerable pain, the
surgery has been put off for 2 weeks until additional oxygen
can be shipped in.
This is a reminder, that even in the bluest of blue states,
the anti-vaxxers are continuing to create a health crisis for
updates: Most Americans believe worst of pandemic is yet to
come, poll says; 1 in 500 Americans have died.
video; USA Today, September 15, 2021)
Despite widespread vaccination efforts, 54% of U.S. adults say
the worst of the outbreak is still to come. The report, based
on a survey of 10,348 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 23-29, 2021,
found 73% of those ages 18 and older say they’ve received at
least one dose of a vaccine for COVID-19.
About a quarter of adults say they have not received a
vaccine. Some of the lowest vaccination rates are seen among
those with no health insurance and white evangelical
Protestants (57% each) as well as among Republicans and
Republican leaners (60%).
Black adults are now about as likely as white adults to say
they’ve received a vaccine (70% and 72%, respectively).
Earlier in the outbreak, African Americans were less likely to
say they planned to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Police prepare for a return of insurrectionists to
Washington. 5 essential reads on the symbols they carried on
(The Conversation, September 15, 2021)
Many of the same groups who participated in January are
expected to return to the nation’s capital for this
demonstration. Capitol Police are reportedly preparing for
violence and erecting protective fencing around the building.
The groups involved in January’s attack on the Capitol carried
a variety of political and ideological flags and signs. The
Conversation asked scholars to explain what they saw –
including ancient Norse images and more recent flags from U.S.
history – and what those symbols mean.
For J6’ Rally Asks Attendees To Avoid Trump Clothing And
(HuffPost, September 15, 2021)
The Trumpers gathering in Washington on Saturday to support
those charged in the Capitol riot must comply or be labeled
“infiltrators,” an organizer said.
voters rejected the attempt to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from
(New York Times, September 15, 2021)
The recall became a referendum on pandemic management. Now
Newsom has won that referendum in a landslide. According to
the latest results, California voters rejected removing him
from office by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent.
California is obviously a deep-blue state, and Newsom’s
approach surely would not work so well in a red state. Still,
his Covid policies are closer to what the median American
voter favors than the Republican approach is. Prominent
Republicans have described Covid vaccine mandates as
tyrannical, even though all 50 states impose other vaccine
mandates. Some Republicans have also banned businesses and
schools from taking evidence-based steps and promoted medical
treatments that seem to do more harm than good. In doing so,
these politicians are aligning themselves with a minority of
Americans. Nationwide, less than 25 percent of adults have not
yet received a Covid vaccine shot, and only 26 percent oppose
a vaccine mandate at their workplace.
Newsom cruises to victory in resounding recall election that
cost taxpayers more than $276 million.
September 15, 2021)
The recall election foisted upon Californians by Republicans
cost taxpayers more than a quarter BILLION dollars. Remember
that the next time they cry about fiscal conservatism.
20 Years Ago: Letters To America On The Drive Home, Part
Three: Somewhere in the Land of Enchantment
Moore, September 15, 2021)
I continue to be amazed at the large number of people -- both
on the radio and those we run into -- who are completely
opposed to some half-cocked military response to what has
happened. No matter what the media tells you or shows you, I
am convinced there might be just enough Americans who, though
they want justice and want to be protected from further
attacks, do not want George W. Bush to start sounding like Dr.
Speaking of Strangelove, this past Sunday, just two days
before the attacks, I watched one of the most powerful pieces
on 60 Minutes in a long time. They laid it all out: How the
United States -- and specifically Henry Kissinger -- plotted
to overthrow the democratically-elected president of Chile on
9/11, 1973. The plot succeeded, President Allende was
assassinated, and thousands of other Chileans were brutally
tortured and murdered. Today, many within the new, free
government of Chile would like to put Kissinger on trial for
these acts of terrorism. Do you think the United States will
be willing to extradite him to Chile?
20 years ago: Letters To America On The Drive Home, Part
Two: Across America Tonight
(Michael Moore, September
The man who occupies the White House cried today. Good. Keep
crying, Mr. Bush. The more you cry, the less you will go to
that dark side where anger rages to a point where you will
want to blindly kill. Your dad's and Reagan's old cronies --
Eagleburger, Baker, Schultz -- are all calling for you to bomb
first and ask questions later. You must NOT do this. If only
because you do not want to stoop to these mass murderers'
level. Yes, find out who did it. Yes, see that they NEVER do
But GET A GRIP, man. "Declare war?" War against whom? One guy
in the desert whom we can never seem to find? Are our leaders
telling us that the most powerful country on earth cannot
dispose of one sick evil guy? Because if that is what you are
telling us, then we are truly screwed. If you are unable to
take out this lone mass-murdering wannabe (who is no longer a
wannabe), what on earth would you do for us if we were
attacked by a nation of literally millions?
And you — DO NOT declare war and massacre more innocents.
After bin Laden's previous act of terror, our last elected
president went and bombed what he said was "bin Laden's camp"
in Afghanistan -- but instead he just killed civilians. Then
he bombed a factory in the Sudan, saying it was "making
chemical weapons." It turned out to be making aspirin.
Innocent people murdered by our Air Force.
Back in May, you gave the Taliban in Afghanistan $43 million
dollars of our tax money. No free nation on earth would give
them a cent, but you gave them a gift of $43 million because
they promised you that they had "banned all drugs." Your “drug
war” — an odd idea considering you used to use some of those
drugs — was more important to you than the actual war the
Taliban had inflicted on its own people. You helped to fund
the regime who had given refuge to the very man you now say is
responsible for killing my friend on that plane from Boston,
and for killing friends of families of thousands and thousands
of people. And now, tonight, how dare you talk about more
killing! Shame! Shame! Shame! Explain your actions in support
of the Taliban! Tell us why your father and his partner Mr.
Reagan trained Mr. bin Laden and the mujahideen in how to be
[In closing, Michael Moore invites you to watch
"Fahrenheit 9/11" and more for at least another week on
general was so fearful Trump might spark war that he made
secret calls to his Chinese counterpart, new book says.
(Washington Post, September 14, 2021)
“Peril,” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, reveals how Gen.
Mark A. Milley, the Joint Chiefs chairman, called his Chinese
counterpart before the election and after Jan. 6 in a bid to
avert armed conflict.
Trump Predicts America Will End Within 3 Years.
(HuffPost, September 14, 2021)
The former president also hinted that he may run for the
presidency in 2024.
Trump made the contradictory claims during a Newsmax interview
on Tuesday with his former White House press secretary Sean
Spicer. True to form, he also falsely claimed the 2020
presidential election was rigged.
The Religious Exemption
(New York Times, September 14,
Major religious traditions, denominations and institutions are
nearly unanimous in their support of Covid-19 vaccines.
Nevertheless, many Americans say they are hesitant to get
vaccinated for religious reasons. Their attempts to secure
exemptions from the country’s rapidly expanding vaccine
mandates are creating new fault lines, pitting religious
liberty concerns against the priority of maintaining a safe
environment at work and elsewhere.
Salt With a Low-Sodium Substitute Prevents Stroke.
(SciTechDaily, September 14, 2021)
Replacing salt with a low-sodium alternative lowers the risk
of stroke in people with high blood pressure or prior stroke.
Both elevated sodium intake and low potassium intake are
associated with high blood pressure and an increased risk of
cardiovascular disease and premature death. Salt substitutes,
which replace part of the sodium chloride in regular salt with
potassium chloride, have been shown to lower blood pressure
but their effects on heart disease, stroke, and death had been
uncertain. In addition, there had been concerns about causing
hyperkalemia in people with chronic kidney disease leading to
cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death.
Small Massachusetts Town Of Concord Has More Outdoor
Attractions Than Any Other Place In The State.
Massachusetts, September 14, 2021)
Just 20 miles outside of Boston lies a town that’s most
notable for the role it played during the Revolutionary War.
Today, Concord, Massachusetts is home to various historical
sites, a thriving downtown area, stately homes, and numerous
outdoor attractions for both nature lovers and historians.
With its natural beauty and long history, the small town of
Concord is a worthwhile place to visit.
Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents
(Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2021)
Its own in-depth research shows a significant teen
mental-health issue that Facebook plays down in public: "We
make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls."
Lies Beneath: Volcanic Secrets Revealed – “We’ve Been
Misled, Geologically Deceived.”
It was previously understood that cooled lava from so-called
‘hot spot’ volcanoes was ‘pristine’ magma from the melting
mantle, tens of kilometers under the Earth’s surface.
But these volcanoes are extremely complex inside and filter a
very different melt to the surface than what we’ve been
expecting. This is due to the volcano’s intricate plumbing
system that forces many minerals in the magma to crystallize.
The minerals are being recycled by the rising magma, changing
their overall chemistry to ‘appear’ pristine, which is an
important new piece of the jigsaw to better understand how
ocean island volcanoes work.
Human Brain Processes Color
(6-min. video; American
Museum of Natural History, September 14, 2021)
Learn how our color vision works as we follow a beam of
sunlight bouncing off a beach ball. In this visual journey,
we’ll explore the physics of visible light, the structure of
our eyes, and how our brain processes visual information.
Then, find out more in the Museum exhibition, "The Nature of
(and Breaking) Eye Contact Repeatedly Makes Conversation
(SciTechDaily, September 13, 2021)
“Eye contact is really immersive and powerful. When two people
are having a conversation, eye contact signals that shared
attention is high —that they are in peak synchrony with one
another. As eye contact persists, that synchrony then
decreases. We think this is also good because too much
synchrony can make a conversation stale. An engaging
conversation requires at times being on the same page and at
times saying something new. Eye contact seems to be one way we
create a shared space while also allowing space for new
Elder joining the California Governor recall race was the
best thing that could’ve happened to Newsom.
Angeles Times, September 13, 2021)
Elder carried with him three decades of provocative right-wing
rhetoric that Newsom turned into a scary wake-up alarm for
snoozing Democrats. It jarred them into voting against
Newsom’s ouster out of fear that Elder would replace him as
Not just voting, but doing it early by mailing in or dropping
off their ballots. That was a big help for Newsom. If you’ve
already voted, the candidate can save money and time by not
bothering to solicit your vote. The campaign can hold back on
mailers, phone calls and door-knocks and redirect those
dollars and volunteers to people who haven’t voted.
want to resurrect the woolly mammoth. They just got $15
million to make it happen.
(CNN, September 13, 2021)
Geneticists, led by Harvard Medical School's George Church,
aim to bring the woolly mammoth, which disappeared 4,000 years
ago, back to life, imagining a future where the tusked ice age
giant is restored to its natural habitat. Proponents say
bringing back the mammoth in an altered form could help
restore the fragile Arctic tundra ecosystem, combat the
climate crisis, and preserve the endangered Asian elephant, to
whom the woolly mammoth is most closely related. However, it's
a bold plan fraught with ethical issues.
The goal isn't to clone a mammoth -- the DNA that scientists
have managed to extract from woolly mammoth remains frozen in
permafrost is far too fragmented and degraded -- but to
create, through genetic engineering, a living, walking
elephant-mammoth hybrid that would be visually
indistinguishable from its extinct forerunner. "Our goal is to
have our first calves in the next four to six years," said
tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm, who with Church has cofounded
Colossal, a bioscience and genetics company to back the
[Also, see National Geographic article from July 10, 2019
‘Superflares’ Rocked Earth Less Than 10,000 Years Ago—and
Could Strike Again.
(Scientific American, September 13,
Although our sun is considered a quiet star, it is now thought
to have repeatedly pelted our planet with enormous eruptions
in the not too distant past. Could another occur in the near
recall is Trump's new election fraud testing ground.
(MSNBC, September 13, 2021)
Trump and state Republicans are experimenting with rigged
election lies. It's worrying.
‘on patrol’ near DNC building in D.C. arrested by Capitol
Police on weapons charges
. (Daily Kos, September 13,
The planned “Justice for J6” rally Saturday has drawn mixed
support from far-right extremists. It is expected to draw
neither a large nor a violent crowd capable of another Capitol
siege. However, it could be significant in the way that “it
lays patchwork or groundwork for those kinds of events to
happen in the future in D.C., or maybe in state capitols going
‘Secret War’ Is Worse Than Q Anon.
And it’s hard watching my dad fall for it.
It’s been almost a year since Q told his followers to SHUT IT
ALREADY with the Q Anon stuff, because too many eyeballs meant
the crackpots were starting to show. The new strategy, more
clandestine and thus appealing to a wider swath, is to run
against the godless liberals in local elections in order to
restore, well, what is unclear. Something that hails from days
of yore. Something that doesn’t exist anymore. Something that
was probably never real in the first place.
Some will never be aware of the link between their
#savethechildren re-post and the more deeply depraved
messaging from right-wing extremists, and that’s the whole
point of this new, so-called “secret war,” essentially a
reinvigorated reactionary conservatism. The deeper the new
child advocate (or “natural” wellness or immigrant-phobic)
recruits dive into the ranks however, losing friends and
family along the way, the more enmeshed they become with a
community that makes leaving as difficult as any cult.
20 years ago: Letters To America On The Drive Home, Part
One: Death, Downtown
(Michael Moore, September 12, 2021)
“Look at the TV.”
I glanced over, and there before my eyes, one of the towers
was completely collapsing, all 110 floors — while I was
listening to it live over the dangling dropped phone from New
York City. Watching it in LA, listening to its monstrous,
deafening sound on the phone in NYC. Then suddenly, the
massive smoke and debris from the collapse was enveloping the
surrounding blocks in the area where our daughter worked. The
abandoned phone in her office had gone dead. I choked. We
panicked. We tried calling again. Nothing. We called her flip
phone. A fast busy signal, and we knew what that meant.
Four teams of 4-5 hijackers were all able to penetrate airport
security on the same morning at 3 different airports and pull
off this heinous act? My only response is — that’s all that
got through? Well, the pundits are in full diarrhea mode
tonight, gushing on about the “terrorist threat” and today’s
scariest dude on planet earth — Usama bin Laden. Am I being
asked to believe that this guy who sleeps in a tent in a
desert has been training pilots to fly our most modern,
sophisticated jumbo jets with such pinpoint accuracy that they
are able to hit these three targets without anyone wondering
why these planes were so far off path? I guess anything’s
possible. Am I also being asked to believe that there were up
to 20 religious/political fanatics and that 4-8 of the 20 JUST
HAPPENED to be skilled airline pilots who JUST HAPPENED to
want to kill themselves today? Maybe you can find one jumbo
jet pilot willing to die for a cause on any given day — but
FOUR of them? Ok, maybe you can — I don’t know.
What I do know is that all day long I have heard everything
about this bin Laden guy except this one fact — WE helped to
create the monster known as Usama bin Laden! Where did he go
to terrorist school? At the CIA-in-Afghanistan desert training
institute. Don’t take my word for it — I saw a piece on MSNBC
last year that laid it all out.
September 11, 2001
(CBS-TV, September 10, 2021)
From technological advances to changes in national security,
exactly what has changed in the 20 years since America came
You Googled Yourself Lately?
(Ask Bob Rankin, September
Have you ever used Google to search your own name, address or
phone number? In an age of powerful search engines, social
media, and changing attitudes about privacy, you might be
shocked to see what a casual searcher can learn about you. If
you're okay with that level of transparency, then fine. If
not, read on for some tips on what you can do about it.
Stephen Breyer Calls Supreme Court Decision On Texas
Abortion Law ‘Very, Very, Very Wrong’.
September 10, 2021)
“Texas’s law delegates to private individuals the power to
prevent a woman from obtaining an abortion during the first
stage of pregnancy,” Breyer wrote in dissent. “But a woman has
a federal constitutional right to obtain an abortion during
that first stage.”
Was King Before T. rex? Dinosaur Fossil Reveals New Apex
(SciTechDaily, September 10, 2021)
In a new study published in Royal Society Open Science, a
research team led by the University of Tsukuba has described a
new genus and species belonging to the Carcharodontosauria, a
group of medium- to large-sized carnivorous dinosaurs that
preceded the tyrannosauroids as apex predators. The new
dinosaur, named Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis
found in the lower Upper Cretaceous Bissekty Formation of the
Kyzylkum Desert in Uzbekistan, and therefore lived about 90
million years ago. Two separate evolutionary analyses support
classification of the new dinosaur as the first definitive
carcharodontosaurian discovered in the Upper Cretaceous of
400,000-Year-Old Bone Tool Used for Smoothing Leather Found
(Smithsonian Magazine, September 10, 2021)
Found near Rome, the utensil is 100,000 years older than
previous finds of this kind.
Dark Asteroid Ryugu Finally Comes Into the Light.
(Wired, September 10, 2021)
In 2018, the Japanese space agency’s Hayabusa2 probe visited
the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, which occasionally traverses
our world’s orbit (but has yet to come dangerously close). It
extracted a tiny fragment of that hurtling space rock and in
December became the first spacecraft to deliver a piece of an
asteroid to Earth, ahead of a NASA mission that will return a
sample from a different asteroid in 2023.
Martian rock samples may contain ancient water bubbles.
(CNN, September 10, 2021)
These two rock samples show that groundwater was likely
present for a long time in the area. "It looks like our first
rocks reveal a potentially habitable sustained environment,"
said Ken Farley, project scientist for the Perseverance
mission. "It's a big deal that the water was there a long
in Bedrock Is Sustaining Trees Across Country – Long-Held
Assumptions About Where Trees Get Their Water Overturned.
(SciTechDaily, September 10, 2021)
You can’t squeeze water from a rock. But tree roots can — and
they’re doing it more frequently than scientists previously
thought, with a new study finding that bedrock is a regular
source of water for trees across the United States, not just
an emergency reserve during droughts.
The discovery, led by researchers with The University of Texas
at Austin and published on September 8, 2021, in Nature,
overturns long-held assumptions about where trees get their
water and is leading to new ideas about how forest ecosystems
function. It also demonstrates the necessity of accounting for
rock moisture — the water clinging to cracks and pores in
underground rocks — when making predictions about how forests
will respond to climate change.
Matters, Even for Wildlife: Social Skills Give Ground
Squirrels an Advantage.
(SciTechDaily, September 10,
A study from the University of California, Davis is the first
to document personality in golden-mantled ground squirrels,
which are common across the western U.S. and parts of Canada.
The study, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, found
the squirrels show personality for four main traits: boldness,
aggressiveness, activity level, and sociability.
World Languages in One Visualization
updated September 9, 2021)
There are at least 7,102 languages in the world today.
New Camera Glasses Are Dangerously Easy to Use.
September 9, 2021)
The company has partnered with Ray-Ban to make a pair of
video-capturing Wayfarers. They’re everything you hoped for
and feared in smart glasses.
Years After 9/11, Surveillance Has Become a Way of Life.
(Wired, September 9, 2021)
Constant tracking has compromised Americans’ sense of
themselves. But we may be able to regain our freedom.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson Tweet This About Unvaccinated
(Snopes, September 9, 2021)
The famous astrophysicist deleted the tweet, saying it was
causing unintended "Twitter fights."
Data on Ivermectin for COVID Is Finally on Its Way.
(Wired, September 8, 2021)
Studies have been small and often not great. The best info so
far says don’t use it, get vaccinated, and hang in there for
the more promising meds being tested.
If Things Couldn’t Get Any Worse for Humanity, Trump Is
Reportedly “Laying the Groundwork” for a 2024 Run.
(Vanity Fair, September 7, 2021)
Floods. Abortion bans. Trump in the White House again. How
much more can mankind take?
builds ‘turnkey’ campaign operation for 2024.
September 7, 2021)
The former president is signaling a heightened interest in a
rematch with Joe Biden — and laying the necessary groundwork.
End, Bin Laden Won.
(Michael Moore, September 7, 2021)
He couldn’t have done it without us.
Space Station astronaut captures breathtaking view of the
edge of the Earth.
(This Is True, September 7, 2021)
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet delivers a
knockout image from the ISS cupola.
in five US houses is bought by someone who never moves in,
real estate firm says.
(Daily Kos, September 6, 2021)
In 2019, lenders were more likely to deny mortgages to people
of color than similarly positioned white people. “Holding 17
different factors steady in a complex statistical analysis of
more than 2 million conventional mortgage applications for
home purchases, we found that lenders were 40% more likely to
turn down Latino applicants for loans, 50% more likely to deny
Asian/Pacific Islander applicants, and 70% more likely to deny
Native American applicants than similar white applicants.
Lenders were 80% more likely to reject Black applicants than
similar white applicants. These are national rates.”
An algorithm developed in the 1990s and used by both the
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae federal home ownership programs
contributed to the disparity, rewarding forms of credit that
white people have more access to and not considering other
factors like on-time rent and utility payments. “This is how
structural racism works. This is how racism gets embedded into
institutions and policies and practices with absolutely no
animus at all.”
Cox Richardson: Skewing the mechanics of our democracy
(Letters from an American, September 6, 2021)
Democrats are trying to win control by protecting the ability
of Americans to have a say in their government, while
Republicans are trying to make their ideology the law of the
land by skewing the mechanics of our democracy to permit a
minority to rule over the majority. Since 1988—the year George
H. W. Bush was elected—Democrats have won the popular vote in
seven of nine presidential elections. And yet, Republicans
have taken the White House through the Electoral College and
have appointed 6 of the 9 justices now on the Supreme Court.
John Lewis Act would restore key voting protections.
Democrats should fight for it.
September 6, 2021)
It was not long ago that Republicans supported the landmark
Voting Rights Act of 1965, which for decades shielded minority
voters from rules and procedures that would erode their voting
rights. President George W. Bush signed a broad bipartisan
reauthorization in 2006. That has changed in the last 10
years, as the Supreme Court systematically dismantled the law
and Republicans increasingly embraced the anti-democratic
fiction that voter access, particularly for the disadvantaged,
is synonymous with voter fraud.
Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote
Business Insider, September 5, 2021)
The conference call, which included leaders of various
Christian and Jewish religious organizations, could be seen as
the former president attempting to shore up his conservative
religious base ahead of the next election. During the call,
Trump repeated his widely debunked claims that he won the 2020
election and told listeners, "we have to fight like never
Florida, a summer of death and resistance as the coronavirus
(4-min. video; Washington Post, September 5,
As Florida appears to be turning the corner from a coronavirus
rampage that fueled record new infections, hospitalizations
and deaths, its residents and leaders are surveying the damage
left from more than 7,000 deaths reported since July Fourth
and the scars inflicted by feuds over masks and vaccines. New
infections were averaging more than 22,000 a day in the last
days of August but have fallen to about 19,000. Yet recovery
could prove fleeting: Holiday weekends such as Labor Day have
acted as a tinderbox for earlier outbreaks, and late summer
marks the return of students to college campuses.
lose federal unemployment benefits and $300 bonus this
(CNet, September 4, 2021)
With enhanced pandemic aid expiring by Labor Day, more than 11
million people will get a smaller unemployment check or
completely lose jobless benefits.
Arctic warming leads to major ice loss.
Edinburgh, September 4, 2021)
Glaciers and ice caps in two archipelagos in the Russian
Arctic are losing enough meltwater to fill nearly five million
Olympic-size swimming pools each year, research shows.
Winter: Ever-Present Threat of Catastrophic Supervolcano
(SciTechDaily, September 4, 2021)
Super-eruptions are among the most catastrophic events in
Earth’s history, venting tremendous amounts of magma almost
instantaneously. They can impact global climate to the point
of tipping the Earth into a ‘volcanic winter’, which is an
abnormally cold period that may result in widespread famine
and population disruption. Learning how supervolcanoes work is
important for understanding the future threat of an inevitable
super-eruption, which happen about once every 17,000 years.
company produces the first slab of steel that didn’t require
(ZME Science, September 3, 2021)
Green steel by 2026? Engineers from the SSAB steel-making
company used hydrogen to power the process.
[Also see "Hybrit project" on August 19th, below.]
Cochituate Boat Ramp Project
Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, September
Join DCR Director of Facilities Engineering Raul Silva as he
announces the closure of the Cochituate State Park boat ramp
from September 7th to June 10th of 2022 while explaining the
exciting $2.5 million project to rebuild the ramp and add a
brand new observation platform.
[We live a mile away, at the far (south-southwest) end of this
Middle Pond of Lake Cochituate.]
Ransomware Hackers Love a Holiday Weekend
September 3, 2021)
When everyone’s off carousing with family and friends and
studiously avoiding anything remotely office-related, that’s
the good stuff. And while the trend isn’t new, a joint warning
issued this week by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and
Infrastructure Security Agency underscores how serious the
threat has become.The appeal to attackers is pretty
straightforward. Ransomware can take time to propagate
throughout a network, as hackers work to escalate privileges
for maximum control over the most systems. The longer it takes
for anyone to notice, the more damage they can do.
There are steps companies and individuals can take to better
protect themselves from hacks, both ahead of a long weekend
and beyond. The FBI and CISA’s recommendations echo best
practices for most cybersecurity situations: Don’t click on
suspicious links. Make an offline backup of your data. Use
strong passwords. Make sure your software is up to date. Use
two-factor authentication. If you use Remote Desktop
Protocol—a Microsoft product that has historically proven a
popular entry point for attackers—proceed with caution. And
maybe keep a few extra people on call this weekend, just in
Backs Down on Its Controversial Photo-Scanning Plans.
(Wired, September 3, 2021)
A sustained backlash against a new system to look for child
sexual abuse materials on user devices has led the company to
“Apple's plan to conduct on-device scanning of photos and
messages is the most dangerous proposal from any tech company
in modern history,” says Evan Greer, deputy director of
digital rights nonprofit Fight for the Future. “It's
encouraging that the backlash has forced Apple to delay this
reckless and dangerous surveillance plan, but the reality is
that there is no safe way to do what they are proposing. They
need to abandon this plan entirely.”
That Apple is holding off on its plans at all, though, is a
major concession from a company not typically inclined to give
what we know about the mu variant of Covid-19.
Fauci video; Washington Post, September 3, 2021)
The WHO-designated ‘variant of interest’ was first detected in
Colombia in January 2021, where cases continue to rise. It has
since been identified in more than 39 countries, according to
the WHO, among them the United States, South Korea, Japan,
Ecuador, Canada and parts of Europe. About 2,000 mu cases have
been identified in the United States, so far; most cases have
been recorded in California, Florida, Texas and New York.
However, mu is not an “immediate threat right now” within the
United States, top infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci
told a press briefing on Thursday. He said that while the
government was “keeping a very close eye on it,” the variant
was “not at all even close to being dominant,” as the delta
variant remains the cause of over 99 percent of cases in the
Him Up: Tucker Carlson is Telling His Viewers to Get Fake
Vaccination Cards - Which is a Felony.
September 3, 2021)
Fox News has been at the forefront of the pro-COVID, anti-vax
movement for more than a year and a half. Their callously
political aversion to common sense methods of mitigating the
harm of the deadly coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the
latest surge that can be accurately attributed to the "Fox
News Variant" that is infecting and killing Americans at
While most of the Fox News roster is spreading disinformation
about COVID, no one is more committed to propagating lethal
lies than Tucker Carlson. He has promoted the use of quack
cures, espoused paranoid conspiracy theories that the vaccines
don't work, and even exhorted his viewers to make false police
reports of child abuse against parents whose children wear
face masks. On Thursday's episode of Carlson's White
Nationalist Hour on Fox News, he went farther over the cliff
of sanity than ever before.
the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ancient Greece and
Rome can tell us a lot about the links between collective
trauma and going to war.
(The Conversation, September 3,
At a 9/11 memorial, I experienced contrary emotions: sadness
inspired by the memorial’s stark figures, mixed with anger
over how the attacks quickly became a pretext for U.S. wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
Now, as U.S. soldiers leave behind uncertainty and violence in
Afghanistan, I look back on America’s past 20 years with two
sets of eyes.
As the first-year graduate student who stood smoking a
cigarette in Washington Square Park at 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11,
2001 – less than a mile from the World Trade Center’s Twin
Towers and where the sound of the jet engines’ final roar
mixed in with a Tuesday morning’s bustle – I feel visceral
sorrow and remorse.
Today, as a scholar of Greek literature who studies narrative
and memory, I see how this collective trauma shaped U.S.
actions and has affected Americans’ vision of their identities
and shared history – a feedback loop that is reflected in the
myths and histories of ancient Greece.
Floods from Ida Swamp the Northeast.
(Image of the Day;
NASA EO Explorer, September 3, 2021)
Many of the worst-hit areas in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New
Jersey, and New York saw 6 to 10 inches of rain fall in just a
Basement wall collapses under
pressure of Ida flood waters.
(1-min. video; Eyewitness
News ABC7NY, September 3, 2021)
Dramatic video shows a person walking through ankle-deep
floodwater in their family's basement in Cranford NJ when the
entire wall caves in with gushing water. Thankfully the family
is ok and was not seriously injured.
flooded, people climb out of submerged vehicles in Bronx.
(2-min. video; Eyewitness News ABC7NY, September 2, 2021)
13 people, including toddler, killed in historic NYC
flooding as water rushed into homes.
Eyewitness News ABC7NY, September 2, 2021)
Hurricane Ida battered the area and flash flood waters quickly
filled basement apartments. The NYPD said they performed 69
water rescues and a total of 166 road rescues. Nearly 500
vehicles were abandoned by drivers during the flooding.
(New York Times, September 2, 2021)
- Steeper medical bills to come.
- Federal pandemic unemployment assistance for millions of
people will end after this week.
- Amid a record surge in cases, Hawaii is facing an oxygen
- More countries will start giving booster shots this month.
Digital Economy Runs on Open Source. Here’s How to Protect
(Harvard Business Review, September 2, 2021)
Free and open source software (FOSS) is essential to much of
the tech we use every day — from cars to phones to planes to
The Cloud. While traditionally, FOSS was developed by an army
of volunteer developers and given away for free, companies are
increasingly taking a more active role in its development. But
as companies buy up open source companies, bring development
in house, and spin off their own for-profit versions of FOSS
products, they could be endangering the future of this
Collision Triggers Supernova Explosion. “This Is the First
Time We’ve Actually Seen Such an Event.”
Astronomy Observatory, September 2, 2021)
Astronomers have found dramatic evidence that a black hole or
neutron star spiraled its way into the core of a companion
star and caused that companion to explode as a supernova. The
astronomers were tipped off by data from the Very Large Array
Sky Survey (VLASS)
The first clue came when the scientists examined images from
VLASS, which began observations in 2017, and found an object
brightly emitting radio waves but which had not appeared in an
earlier VLA sky survey. They determined that the bright radio
emission was coming from the outskirts of a dwarf,
star-forming galaxy some 480 million light-years from Earth.
They later found that an instrument aboard the International
Space Station had detected a burst of X-rays coming from the
object in 2014. The data from all these observations allowed
the astronomers to piece together the fascinating history of a
centuries-long death dance between two massive stars.
Like most stars that are much more massive than our Sun, these
two were born as a binary pair, closely orbiting each other.
One of them was more massive than the other and evolved
through its normal, nuclear fusion-powered lifetime more
quickly and exploded as a supernova, leaving behind either a
black hole or a superdense neutron star. The black hole or
neutron star’s orbit grew steadily closer to its companion,
and about 300 years ago it entered the companion’s atmosphere,
starting the death dance. At this point, the interaction began
spraying gas away from the companion into space. The ejected
gas, spiraling outward, formed an expanding, donut-shaped
ring, called a torus, around the pair. Eventually, the black
hole or neutron star made its way inward to the companion
star’s core, disrupting the nuclear fusion producing the
energy that kept the core from collapsing of its own gravity.
As the core collapsed, it briefly formed a disk of material
closely orbiting the intruder and propelled a jet of material
outward from the disk at speeds approaching that of light,
drilling its way through the star. The collapse of the star’s
core caused it to explode as a supernova, following its
sibling’s earlier explosion. The material ejected by the 2014
supernova explosion moved much faster than the material thrown
off earlier from the companion star, and by the time VLASS
observed the object, the supernova blast was colliding with
that material, causing powerful shocks that produced the
bright radio emission seen by the VLA.
Time’s the Charm: NASA’s Perseverance Drills a Mars Rock.
(Wired, September 2, 2021)
After a first attempt brought up an empty tube, the rover
finally cored a sample.
abortion law is a nightmare for women — and a warning to the
(2-min. video; Washington Post, September 2,
Texas’s newly imposed antiabortion law combines the
viciousness of flat-out abortion bans and the MAGA crowd’s
penchant for bullying and harassment. The law prohibits
abortions six weeks after a woman’s last period, putting her
well-being and life choices under the thumb of the state.
Republicans intend to enforce the law by incentivizing people
to make claims against anyone assisting a woman to obtain such
an abortion by offering a $10,000 bounty. Without any state
enforcement, the ability of plaintiffs to challenge the law is
The Supreme Court sat on a petition for emergency relief,
allowing the law to go into effect at 12:01 Wednesday morning.
Later, on Wednesday night, the five staunch conservative
justices finally denied the petition. Texas women now live in
limbo, afraid to exercise their constitutional rights and yet
unable to have their day in court, at least not yet.
The Texas Abortion Ban Does — And What It Means For Other
(NPR, September 1, 2021)
With the U.S. Supreme Court mum, a new law went into effect in
Texas that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
That's well before many women even know they are pregnant. The
law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and
anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion — including
those who give a woman a ride to a clinic or provide financial
assistance to obtain an abortion. Private citizens who bring
these suits don't need to show any connection to those they
The law makes no exceptions for cases involving rape or
fungal mind: on the evidence for mushroom intelligence.
(Psyche, September 1, 2021)
In recent years, a body of remarkable experiments have shown
that fungi operate as individuals, engage in decision-making,
are capable of learning, and possess short-term memory. These
findings highlight the spectacular sensitivity of such
‘simple’ organisms, and situate the human version of the mind
within a spectrum of consciousness that might well span the
entire natural world.
orders company to quit surveillance app business.
News, September 1, 2021)
The Federal Trade Commission has for the first time banned a
company making so-called stalkerware (SpyFone) from continuing
in the surveillance app business.
Quietly Makes a Big Admission.
(Wired, August 31, 2021)
The company’s new approach to political content acknowledges
that engagement isn’t always the best way to measure what
Depoliticizing people’s feeds makes sense for a company that
is perpetually in hot water for its alleged impact on
politics. The move, after all, was first announced just a
month after Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, an
episode that some people, including elected officials, sought
to blame Facebook for. The change could end up having major
ripple effects for political groups and media organizations
that have gotten used to relying on Facebook for distribution.
(New York Times, August 31, 2021)
I never thought I’d be nostalgic for the era when big money
ruled the right. But traditional corporate influence looks
benign compared with where we are now. At this point, to be a
conservative in good standing you have to pledge allegiance to
blatant lies — Democrats are Marxists, the election was
stolen, basic public health measures are sinister assaults on
Why are so many people who have to know better willing to go
along with these lies? Again, self-interest — partly ambition,
and yes, partly financial reward. Obviously the snake-oil
industry doesn’t have anything like the resources of more
respectable Republican-leaning industries like fossil fuels or
tobacco. But it offers more opportunities for personal
enrichment: Ben Shapiro is presumably well paid for hawking
“superfoods” in a way he couldn’t be for, say, promoting oil
New York Times wants you to know Ron DeSantis is a victim of
his own success.
(Daily Kos, August 30, 2021)
"What went wrong with the Pandemic in Florida?" queried a New
York Times headline over the weekend.
Hmm. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis may have come to mind for
any reader who has even remotely paid attention to the recent
delta surge plaguing the state. But not according to the
Times' triple-bylined piece. Whatever went wrong in the
Sunshine State, it most certainly wasn't the result of the
deadly negligent anti-science, anti-masking policies of
[This satire in its Comments section, reminiscent of A
, makes its point:
"Maybe the Democrats should just create the Care and Feeding
for Billionaires Act of 2022 that will stipulate that anyone
who already has at least $1-billion will receive a free
$100-million every year for life, tax free (as if billionaires
ever pay taxes!). That would cost taxpayers a mere $60-billion
a year, rather than the combined cost of multiple wars at
roughly $2-3-billion a week, which totaled roughly
$100-150-billion a year, every year for the past twenty years.
"Alternate idea, we fill a large pit with $100-billion and
allow the billionaires to enter the pit, stark naked with no
weapons, and whoever comes out can keep all the money they
climb out with.
"In any case, in order to participate they have to swear never
to support Republicans or other Fascists in perpetuity."]
University bucked vaccine and mask requirements, now entire
campus is in quarantine.
(Daily Kos, August 30, 2021)
The Evangelical Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, has
been having a tough couple of years. Not unlike the rest of
the MAGA-supporting crowd, the COVID-19 pandemic has embodied
the untenable communal experience of being led by morally
hypocritical and preternaturally corrupt people. In March of
last year, Liberty officials threw caution to the wind and
opened up their campuses to returning spring session students.
Very quickly, the Bible-based school faced the rough realities
of science as the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading among
students very quickly. The school closed down, like the rest
of the country.
One might think an institution celebrating the pursuit of
knowledge and critical thinking might learn from their
experiences. One might, in this case, be wrong. Starting
Monday, Liberty University will begin a campus-wide
quarantine. NBC reports that the quarantine is the result of a
spike in COVID-19 cases among “students and staff.” The
quarantine is scheduled to end on Sept. 10 … for now. “The
university changed its protocol late Thursday to enact the
campus-wide quarantine, move classes online and suspend large,
indoor gatherings.” Shockingly, the evangelical institution
began the year by having absolutely no social distancing,
capacity restrictions, mask requirements, or vaccine
Drug Used To Fight Tumors in Animals, May Be Effective in
(SciTechDaily, August 30, 2021)
The research team also found that the drug could be effective
against many types of coronaviruses and picoronaviruses.
Because of the way it inhibits replication, it has also been
shown to remain effective in the face of COVID-19 variants.
“Inhibitors of the main protease of SARS-CoV-2, like
masitinib, could be a new potential way to treat COVID
patients, especially in early stages of the disease,” said
Savas Tay of the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of
Molecular Engineering, who led the research. “COVID-19 will
likely be with us for many years, and novel coronaviruses will
continue to arise. Finding existing drugs that have antiviral
properties can be an essential part of treating these
[Could be - but wait and see! "Masitinib is a tyrosine-kinase
inhibitor used in the treatment of mast cell tumours in
animals, specifically dogs. Since its introduction in November
2008 it has been distributed under the commercial name
Linux lawsuit: 20 years later, SCO vs IBM may finally be
(ZDNet, August 30, 2021)
The SCO vs. IBM lawsuit that was once seen as an existential
threat to Linux became a bad legal joke. Now the suit may
finally be put to rest. Well, some of it anyway.
Forces Are Leaving a Toxic Environmental Legacy in
(Scientific American, August 30, 2021)
Legal and practical obstacles make it difficult to clean the
burn pits and health-damaging chemicals that remain at
fire threatens Lake Tahoe, more ordered to flee.
News, August 30, 2021)
The Caldor Fire has scorched nearly 277 square miles (717
square kilometers) since breaking out Aug. 14. After the
weekend’s fierce burning, containment dropped from 19% to 14%.
More than 600 structures have been destroyed, and at least
20,000 more were threatened.
It’s among nearly 90 large blazes in the U.S. Many are in the
West, burning trees and brush sucked dry by drought. Climate
change has made the region warmer and drier in the past 30
years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and
wildfires more destructive, according to scientists.
In California alone, more than a dozen large fires are being
fought by more than 15,200 firefighters. Flames have destroyed
about 2,000 buildings and forced thousands to evacuate this
year while blanketing large swaths of the West in unhealthy
live updates: Louisiana governor expects death toll to go up
(2-min video w/hurricane map; ABC News,
August 30, 2021)
Ida was one of the strongest hurricanes on record -- by both
wind speed and pressure -- to roar ashore in Louisiana. It
weakened into a tropical storm 16 hours later. Now a
tropical storm, Ida is hitting on the 16-year anniversary of
Katrina, a Category 3 hurricane that ravaged the Gulf Coast.
Hurricane Katrina unleashed a series of events, taking the
lives of more
than 1,800 people and leaving more than $100 billion
worth of damage in its wake.
Katrina similar but tiny differences are key.
August 29, 2021)
Ida is forecast to move through “the just absolute worst place
for a hurricane.” It is forecast to track over the industrial
corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which is one of
the key infrastructure regions of the U.S., critical to the
economy. There are hundreds of major industry sites there,
including 3 of the 15 major US petrochemical sites, three of
the 15 largest ports in America, a nuclear power plant. It's
probably going to shut down the Mississippi River for barge
traffic for multiple weeks. It’s not just the coastal impact.
It’s not just New Orleans. We’re certainly looking at
potential losses well into the billions.
in the White House: How Trump successfully orchestrated
(Daily Kos, August 29, 2021)
Republicans want to impeach Biden for the chaos that unfolded
in Afghanistan during the first few days of the evacuation.
Their cries have grown even louder since Isis-K sent a suicide
bomber to Kabul airport. “Biden is incompetent,” they say.
If Biden is impeached, Republicans should think about what
that means for Trump. Every attempt Trump has made to sabotage
Biden will be uncovered.
[Keep this chain of events available; it may come in handy
Jim Jordan’s OTHER Jan. 6th call with Trump
(Politico, August 29, 2021)
We know that Donald Trump and Rep. Jim Jordan spoke once on
the day of the Capitol riot, but the Ohio Republican has said
he doesn’t remember when their conversation took place.
We have some new details that could help clear up that
timeframe — including confirmation of at least one more phone
conversation between Jordan and the then-president during the
siege. After a group of lawmakers were evacuated from the
House chamber to a safe room on Jan. 6, Jordan was joined by
Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) for a call during which they implored
Trump to tell his supporters to stand down, per a source with
knowledge of that call. The source declined to say how Trump
responded to this request.
Jordan, when asked about whether Gaetz participated, said he’d
“have to think about it,” citing many conversations he had
during the frenetic attack. He also said phone calls to Trump
happened more than once on that deadly day. “Look, I
definitely spoke to the president that day. I don't recall — I
know it was more than once, I just don't recall the times,”
Jordan told our Olivia Beavers. Jordan would not get into the
specifics of what he discussed with the president, though he
said that like everyone, he wanted the National Guard to get
Jordan has previously disclosed that he spoke to Trump on Jan.
6, but not the existence of more than one call on the day — a
rare piece of new information on the former president’s moves
during the riot at a time when House Republicans are loath to
discuss such specifics. Trump-Jordan discussions are likely to
be of keen interest to the Democrat-led select committee on
Jan. 6, which is expected to soon seek phone records of
members of Congress themselves in its probe.
is quantum mechanics weird? The bomb experiment.
(BackRe(Action), August 28, 2021)
drone strike kills 2 Islamic State members in Afghanistan.
(Public Broadcasting Service, August 28, 2021)
The airstrike came after Biden declared Thursday that
perpetrators of the Kabul airport attack would not be able to
hide. “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said.
Pentagon leaders told reporters Friday that they were prepared
for whatever retaliatory action the president ordered.
The speed with which the U.S. military retaliated reflected
its close monitoring of IS and years of experience in
targeting extremists in remote parts of the world. But it also
shows the limits of U.S. power to eliminate extremist threats,
which some believe will have more freedom of movement in
Afghanistan now that the Taliban is in power.
Is Blaming Biden and ‘the Woke Generals’ for Afghanistan.
(Vice, August 27, 2021)
The former president neglected to mention that he wanted the
U.S. to leave the country even sooner. Trump repeatedly
referred to ISIS-K, a hard-line ISIS offshoot, as “ISIS-X,”
while accusing Biden of making “the dumbest move ever made” in
the history of the United States. He also suggested, for the
second time, after a radio interview with conservative
commentator Hugh Hewitt, that Osama bin Laden wasn’t all that
big of a deal. “It’s so sad,” Trump said of the attack. “It’s
the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to our
[No, ex-president, it is NOT the most embarrassing thing. Take
credit, where credit is due!]
interesting example of right-wing twisting and appropriation.]
DeSantis' controversial ban “does not meet constitutional
muster,” judge said.
Florida faces record covid-19 deaths, DeSantis says Biden
should follow his lead.
(Washington Post, August 27,
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said President Biden has failed
to “end covid” and should follow his state’s lead, even as
Florida experiences record-breaking cases, deaths and
hospitalizations. Florida is now reporting an average of 227
covid-19 deaths each day — a state record and by far the
highest count in the nation. The daily death count in Florida,
fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant, has
increased by 613 percent in the past seven days.
[Gov. DeathSentence would be funny, were he not murdering
no': Some police officers and their unions oppose
(NBC News, August 27, 2021)
Hours after the Food and Drug Administration fully approved
the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori
Lightfoot made an emphatic declaration: "City employees are
absolutely going to be required to be vaccinated. We
absolutely have to have a vaccine mandate. It's for the safety
of all involved, particularly members of the public who are
interacting with city employees on a daily basis."
New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said that he is
"100 percent" behind a vaccination requirement and that a
mandate should come from the state or federal levels.
But police unions in Chicago; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Seattle; and
Syracuse, New York, have pushed back against vaccination
requirements, as has the union representing state police in
Massachusetts. Reluctance among officers — front-line workers
whose jobs often involve extensive community contact — to get
vaccinated has raised public health concerns. Covid-19 killed
more officers in 2020 than gun violence, car accidents and all
other causes combined. An outbreak of the highly contagious
delta variant in a police force could also pose a risk to
public safety. While it is not clear what percentage of
officers across the country have been vaccinated against the
coronavirus, vaccination rates for two of the country's
largest departments are well below the national rate.
attendants’ hellish summer: ‘I don’t even feel like a
(New York Times, August 27, 2021)
Air travelers have faced an unusually high number of
disruptions this summer because of widespread labor shortages,
bad weather and technical problems. Nearly a quarter of U.S.
passenger planes between June and mid-August were delayed,
while almost 4% of flights were canceled in the first half of
August, according to data from Flight Aware, a flight tracking
Flight attendants across the country say they are struggling
to cope, facing not only these prolonged operational issues,
but also an increase in aggressive passenger behavior. Nearly
4,000 unruly passenger incidents have been reported to the
Federal Aviation Administration in 2021, a figure described by
the agency as “a rapid and significant increase.” Most of
those reports deal with attendants enforcing rules on proper
masking in the cabin, with passengers who range from careless
to belligerent, and at times verbally or physically abusive.
Shaky, vertical footage of brawls and insults are now a
familiar staple on social media.
Satellite Image Captures the Arctic ‘Losing Its Soul’.
(Atlas Obscura, August 27, 2021)
In the aftermath of an extreme melt event, what do scientists
see in the Greenland Ice Sheet’s swirls of white, blue, and
Mead Drops to a Record Low.
(NASA Earth Observatory,
August 27, 2021)
Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States and
part of a system that supplies water to at least 40 million
people across seven states and northern Mexico. It stands
today at its lowest level since the 1930s. This means less
water will be portioned out to some states in the 2022 water
As of August 22, 2021, Lake Mead was filled to just 35 percent
of its capacity. The low water level comes at a time when 95
percent of the land in nine Western states is affected by some
level of drought (64 percent is extreme or worse). It
continues a 22-year megadrought that may be the region’s worst
dry spell in twelve centuries.
In most years, about 10 percent of the water in the lake comes
from local precipitation and groundwater, with the rest coming
from snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains that melts and flows down
to rivers, traveling through Lake Powell, Glen Canyon, and the
Grand Canyon on the way. The Colorado River basin is managed
to provide water to millions of people—most notably the cities
of San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles—and 4-5
million acres of farmland in the Southwest. The river is
allotted to states and to Mexico through laws like the 1922
Colorado River Compact and by a recent drought contingency
plan announced in 2019.
With the Lake Mead reservoir at 35 percent of capacity, Lake
Powell at 31 percent, and the entire Lower Colorado system at
40 percent, the Bureau of Reclamation announced on August 16
that water allocations would be cut over the next year.
Does It Mean That Greenland Sharks Could Live for Hundreds
(Atlas Obscura, August 27, 2021)
Greenland sharks could be the longest-living vertebrate
species in the world, surpassing the bowhead whale, koi fish,
and Galapagos tortoise. It also sparked a constellation of
research around our current understanding of longevity, as
well as about the ongoing survival of this enigmatic—and
cloud vulnerability you can imagine” discovered in Microsoft
(Ars Technica, August 27, 2021)
30% of Cosmos DB customers were notified—more are likely
is ISIS-K? Two terrorism experts on the group behind the
deadly Kabul airport attack and its rivalry with the
(TheConversation, August 26, 2021)
An attack on the Kabul airport has left scores dead and many
more injured. Two terrorism scholars explain who the group
thought responsible is, and how big of a threat it is.
airport attack kills 60 Afghans, 13 US troops.
August 26, 2021)
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the
killings on its Amaq news channel. The IS affiliate in
Afghanistan is far more radical than the Taliban, who recently
took control of the country in a lightning blitz. The Taliban
were not believed to have been involved in the attacks and
condemned the blasts.
In an emotional speech from the White House, U.S. President
Joe Biden said the latest bloodshed would not drive the U.S.
out of Afghanistan earlier than scheduled, and that he had
instructed the U.S. military to develop plans to strike IS.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you
down and make you pay,” Biden said.
Cognitive Bias In One Infographic
August 26, 2021)
[All 188 of them!]
meets machine learning.
(Wild Me, posted August 26,
Wild Me builds open software and artificial intelligence for
the conservation research community. We are machine learning
experts and software professionals supporting you in the fight
Mandates Work—but Only If They’re Done Right.
August 26, 2021)
Nobody has the freedom to go unmasked and unvaccinated in a
crowded workspace or classroom. We do not have the freedom in
America to expose other people to an infectious disease.
Requiring people to get their shots can stop Covid-19, but
those rules have to be doable and equitable.
Like the other vaccines still available under EUA, the Pfizer
drug is extraordinarily good at keeping people from getting
really sick or dying from Covid. But with more than 100,000
people in the hospital with Covid in the US—the most since
January—and with the vast majority of them unvaccinated, it’s
clear that alone isn’t enough. States, localities, and
businesses have tried inducements like prizes, cash, or
lotteries, little tricks designed to corral people into doing
what’s good for them. In the language of behavioral economics,
that’s called a nudge. But in states with low vaccine uptake,
those nudges didn’t change the momentum. So now, it’s time for
mandates. If you’re one of the 30 percent or so of Americans
who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, get ready for a good hard
And nobody shoves harder than the Pentagon. The Department of
Defense immediately announced it’d add Covid-19 vaccines to
the more-than-a-dozen already required of servicemembers. Big
universities like California’s UC system already had mandates
in place, but now more schools have joined: Ohio State,
University of Michigan, University of Minnesota. City
workforces in Los Angeles and Chicago came under mandate. The
new governor of New York announced at her inauguration that
she’d institute them, too, and New York City put them in place
for public school teachers and the NYPD. In late July, pretty
much every major medical and health care professional
association signed onto an open letter calling for vaccine
mandates across health care; the influential American Medical
Association has now reiterated that position. Even the
hardcore capitalists at Goldman Sachs won’t let anyone in
their offices without proof-of-shot. In journalism, all it
takes to make a trend is three examples. I think we’re there.
Swimming and Other Acts of Civil Disobedience
August 25, 2021)
“I would contend that stupid behavior is sometimes the proper
response to stupid laws.”
[Thoreau's Walden Pond is a landmark of free thinking. The
state agency that "controls" it now has taken that into
Bad Solar Storm Could Cause an 'Internet Apocalypse'.
(Wired, August 26, 2021)
Local and regional internet infrastructure would be at low
risk of damage even in a massive solar storm, because optical
fiber itself isn't affected by geomagnetically induced
currents. Short cable spans are also grounded very regularly.
But for long undersea cables that connect continents, the
risks are much greater. A solar storm that disrupted a number
of these cables around the world could cause a massive loss of
connectivity by cutting countries off at the source, even
while leaving local infrastructure intact. It would be like
cutting flow to an apartment building because of a water main
decade and a half of instability: The history of Google
(Ars Technica, August 25, 2021)
Sixteen years after the launch of Google Talk, Google
messaging is still a mess. Because no single company has ever
failed at something this badly, for this long, with this many
different products (and because it has barely been a month
since the rollout of Google Chat), the time has come to
outline the history of Google messaging. Prepare yourselves,
dear readers, for a non-stop rollercoaster of new product
launches, neglected established products, unexpected
shut-downs, and legions of confused, frustrated, and exiled
Stealthy iPhone Hacks That Apple Still Can't Stop
(Wired, August 25, 2021)
After another “zero-click” attack, security experts say it's
time for more extreme measures to keep iMessage users safe.
The Bahraini government allegedly purchased and deployed
sophisticated malware against human rights activists,
including spyware that required no interaction from the
victim—no clicked links, no permissions granted—to take hold
on their iPhones. But as disturbing as this week's report from
the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab may be, it's also
These “zero-click” attacks can happen on any platform, but a
string of high-profile hacks show that attackers have homed in
on weaknesses in Apple's iMessage service to execute them.
Security researchers say the company's efforts to resolve the
issue haven't been working—and that there are other steps the
company could take to protect its most at-risk users.
electric power demand returns to pre-pandemic levels.
(Washington Post, August 24, 2021)
Carbon dioxide emissions rise above 2019 levels as electricity
demand outpaces growth in renewables, putting climate goals
further out of reach.
four years of comatose Trump coverage, reporters finally
find something to scream about.
(Daily Kos, August 23,
After four long years of Donald Trump wandering the halls of
power with his pants down and flaunting his corrupt dealings,
racist acts, and incompetence (not to mention the sedition),
the nation's political press has finally found something to
unite both sides of the political aisle. This something is the
withdrawal of the United States from a two-decade war that was
never able to build an Afghan government sturdier than a
It's not that the press has strong feelings about continuing
the war—the war Trump negotiated an end to, by the way—but
there's been a national oath taken to not talk about that.
It's that everybody agrees that Joe Biden is ending the war
wrong. This assertion is according to a wide assortment of war
architects whose strategies and preconceptions were so
bumblefkingly misguided at every last turn, 20 years running,
that not even a full generation's double-down efforts could
produce their promised outcomes.
Tyler Cohen: Jen Psaki finally loses patience with Fox's
Peter Doocy: "I’m just calling you out."
August 23, 2021)
To be fair, Doocy had it coming, trying to make President
Biden look bad over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that
business pledged nearly $50-billion for racial justice after
George Floyd’s death. Where did the money go?
(Washington Post, August 23, 2021)
To date, America’s 50 biggest public companies and their
foundations collectively committed at least $49.5 billion
since last May. More than 90 percent of that amount — $45.2
billion — is allocated as loans or investments they could
stand to profit from.
Records Were Exposed Online—Including Contact-Tracing Info.
(Wired, August 23, 2021)
Misconfigured Power Apps from Microsoft led to more than a
thousand web apps accessible to anyone who found them.
are breaking everything—the bank, the health care system,
the bonds of society.
(Daily Kos, August 23, 2021)
Vaccines and adequate supplies have definitely made the delta
round of the COVID-19 pandemic less horrific for the doctors
and nurses trying to save lives. The jeopardy for them and
their families is at least reduced by the fact that the
vaccine has been available to them, and they don't have to
rely on personal protective equipment that's days old. But the
fact that there is a vaccine and that many of the people who
are filling up ICUs are there by choice adds a whole level of
demoralization that didn't exist in the first round.
It Be Fair to Treat Vaccinated Covid Patients First?
(Wired, August 23, 2021)
Last week, Texas health care policymakers discussed taking
vaccination status into account for Covid triage. It’s a
larger conversation ethicists are bracing for.
never seen anything like this’: ER doctor says 100's waiting
to be admitted: NO BEDS!
(Daily Kos, August 23, 2021)
Emergency room doctors in Southeast Texas say they are running
out of hospital beds, and some patients are waiting hours,
sometimes days to be admitted into a hospital. “Are there
patients dying because of this that might not have died?
Absolutely, yes,” said Southeast Texas Regional Advisory
Council CEO, Darrell Pile. “I am very concerned about the
fatalities that are about to happen.”
An anonymous U.S. hospital staffer: “If you don’t trust
doctors and science to keep you from getting sick, why the
hell are you clogging up hospitals trusting them to cure you?”
vocal minority of anti-mask anti-vaxxers turn to violence to
win debate they have lost.
(Daily Kos, August 23, 2021)
Donald Trump and Republicans like to talk about the "silent
majority" of Americans who Democrats are unfairly oppressing.
But what the increasingly contentious battle over masking in
schools proves is that, in truth, it's the GOP's "violent
minority" afflicting the rest of Americans over COVID-19.
The Associated Press lays out a series of aggressive and even
violent incidents in recent weeks over pandemic mitigation
efforts: a Northern California man marching into his
daughter's elementary school and punching a teacher in the
face; a Texas parent ripping the mask off a teacher's face at
a "Meet the Teacher" event; a furious Tennessee man yelling at
a mask proponent, "We know who you are. And we will find you!"
of gunfire in downtown Portland culminates Proud Boys’
latest incursion into city.
(7-min. video; Daily Kos,
August 23, 2021)
The far-right “Patriots” who organized Sunday’s Proud Boys
rally in Portland, Oregon, cynically billed the event as
“Summer of Love” while preparing for the event by sharing
ideas about combat gear and ginning each other up for the
street brawling that is their raison d’etre.
Then, following a rally at which Proud Boys speakers urged
violence against their “Antifa” opponents—and with no police
anywhere in sight—they set about attacking anyone they
perceived as their enemies, engaging in running street brawls,
overturning vehicles, and assaulting people in their cars
while destroying them. It all culminated in gunfire in
downtown Portland, which finally brought hordes of police to
mask, vaccine mandates are supported in US.
August 23, 2021)
Masks have been a point of contention as U.S. schools reopen
amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Questions about
whether to require them have caused turmoil among parents and
politicians, with some Republican governors banning mask
mandates even as President Joe Biden threatens legal action
In a reflection of that polarizing debate, the poll finds a
wide partisan divide. About 3 in 10 Republicans said they
favor mask requirements for students and teachers, compared
with about 8 in 10 Democrats. There was a similar split over
vaccine mandates in schools.
Kanefield: More about White Supremacy and Hierarchy
(20-min. video; YouTube, August 22, 2021)
Last week I drew the connection between White supremacy,
hierarchies, and the anti-mask “debates.” This week I expanded
on these ideas, focusing a bit more on economic hierarchy and
regulations in general.
[Excellent! You can find her prior one below, at August 15th.]
I (Fight) Write; A Brief History of Failed Attempts to
Censor My Work
(Michael Moore, August 22, 2021)
My mother made a big mistake teaching me how to read at 4
years old. And through the years, I’ve seen how dangerous it
is to be a reader, a writer, to look things up, to learn the
awful truth at 11 that Columbus didn’t discover America, that
America was founded in genocide and built on the backs of
Black slaves. That for the first 150 years of our country,
women could not vote, own property, have a bank account, or
get a divorce without their husband’s permission. And yet,
seemingly, no one thought of us as evil, primitive barbarians.
We were not the Taliban of that time! We just lynched Black
men — we didn’t behead them! Today, in the US, we’ve found
that a knee to the neck works just as well.
In 9th grade, I was kicked out of the Catholic seminary
because, as the head priest explained to me, “you ask too many
questions — and we, The Catholic Church, are an institution of
answers, not questions.”
At the age of 22, I created a bi-weekly newspaper, The Flint
Voice. I was now an adult, I was my own boss, so no one could
fire me or censor me. But I forgot about the police. The
corrupt chief of police had been elected mayor of Flint, and
once in office, he forced city employees to campaign for him
and donate to his reelection campaign. I obtained evidence
against him and prepared to publish it. He found out about it
and sent the Flint police to the local newspaper where I
rented their printing press to print my bi-weekly paper. The
Flint police stormed in and raided the place, literally
stopping the presses, and removed my printing plates from the
press. They seized all 10,000 copies of the freshly printed
Flint Voice. I called the ACLU, they filed for an injunction
in court and we ended up in the New York Times and the CBS
Evening News. We won, the 10,000 copies of our paper were
given back to us, we put them on our newsstands and, thanks to
the ruckus, within a year Congress passed the Newspaper Shield
Act to make it illegal for police anywhere to raid newsrooms.
The mainstream route continues to narrow its doors and tighten
its leash at a time when the public demands MORE voices, not
less. But it is not part of the capitalist business model to
turn the reins over to the rabble from the working class or
its progressive leaders. They are right to worry about what
would happen to the elites if we could actually have our
writings read and our voices heard by the masses. There would
be a minimum wage of $25 an hour. We’d have an Equal Rights
for Women Amendment added to the Constitution (already passed
by the required 38 states!). The rich would be forced to pay
their taxes. We’d never invade another Iraq or Afghanistan
again. Everyone would have free access to doctors, dentists
and mental health professionals. For god’s sake, please don’t
let us in!
This is the first of my Sunday Letters to you. The Mother
Superior has agreed not to interfere.
[I've copies these excerpts from Michael Moore's excellent
recollection of attempts to censor his writing.]
Gopal and Richard Ojeda on Afghanistan
August 21, 2021)
At the heart of the criticism is a contradiction that nobody
in the American media or foreign policy “Blob” wants to
grapple with, and it’s this: the only way for there to have
been an orderly transfer of power in the wake of the U.S.
departure was for the process to have been negotiated as a
transfer of power. And to negotiate a transfer of power
required acknowledging — and here’s the hard part for the U.S.
— that power was actually transferring.
Therein lies the contradiction: An orderly exit required
admitting defeat and negotiating the unthinkable: surrender to
Instead, the U.S. preferred to maintain the fiction that it
was handing over power to the Afghan government, whatever that
was, and to former President Ashraf Ghani. We would rather
risk the chaos we witnessed than admit defeat. After all, it’s
mostly not our lives on the line anymore, but rather the lives
of Afghans who helped us over the past 20 years.
And focusing on the chaotic scenes at Hamid Karzai Airport
also lets commentators avoid asking the bigger questions: How
is it that 20 straight years of U.S. lies about progress in
Afghanistan could be so starkly exposed in a single weekend,
and there be so little interrogation of that failure?
Biden has been criticized for letting weapons fall into
Taliban hands, and also criticized for not evacuating
Americans and their allies sooner. But he was turning supplies
and weapons over to the Afghan National Army, and was
pretending to turn power over to the Afghan government. Had he
instead shipped all the people and weapons home, the army
would have cried foul, and that would have sent a signal that
things were falling apart. The same with the refugee
evacuation situation: Shipping out refugees in droves would
signal that the U.S. had lost complete confidence in the
government, which would then hasten its downfall. Maintaining
the fiction that the Afghan government was a real and going
concern required treating it like one. Like any confidence
game, it lasts only as long as people believe in it.
Criticizing the way this unfolded would be kind of like
wondering why Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme collapsed in such
a spectacular fashion, rather than an orderly liquidation.
The American Onion
(Michael Moore, August 20, 2021)
It Ain't Over 'Til The Last Burger King Leaves Kandahar.
[Right on, Michael!]
Motors Expands Chevrolet Bolt EV Recall Over Battery Fire
(Forbes Magazine, August 20, 2021)
[The recall now covers ALL 141,000 Bolt EVs produced,
beginning with the 2017 version. The latest move raises costs
to $1.8 billion. Now, THAT's going the extra mile (so to
Reasons to Switch from Windows to Linux
August 20, 2021)
If you are concerned about your privacy and want a secure
operating system, Linux is the perfect tool for you - and it's
free. The question isn’t, “Why should you switch from Windows
to Linux?” Rather, it should be, “Why didn’t you do it
World’s Largest Computer Chip
(The New Yorker, August
In the race to accelerate A.I., the Silicon Valley company
Cerebras has landed on an unusual strategy: go big. Its
computer chips are as large as a dinner plate.
[Large arrays of these macrochips are used (a) for tracking
people and their activities, (b) for "mining" bitcoins, and
(c) what's left over for AI research, hopefully in better
directions. It uses giant amounts of electricity, the
non-green generation of which is hastening climate change.]
Changes in Diet Could Help You Live Much Healthier and More
(SciTechDaily, August 20, 2021)
Eating a hot dog could cost you 36 minutes of healthy life,
while choosing to eat a serving of nuts instead could help you
gain 26 minutes of extra healthy life, according to a
University of Michigan study.
antibodies are free and effective against covid-19, but few
people are getting them.
(Washington Post, August 20,
Monoclonal antibodies are free to patients and there have been
almost no side effects. They are accessible on an outpatient
basis, via a single infusion or four injections. Hospitals,
urgent-care centers and even private doctors are authorized to
Pharmaceuticals, maker of the only authorized, free
, said it is reaching fewer than
30 percent of eligible patients, up from fewer than 5 percent
a month ago. The White House COVID-19 Response Team reported
last week that just more than 600,000 people have received the
treatment since Regeneron and Eli Lilly received approval for
separate versions in November. (Distribution of Lilly’s
product has been paused nationwide because it is ineffective
against some variants.)
While the antibodies help once people are sick, health
authorities stress that vaccines remain the best way to
prevent death. Hospitals have reported that unvaccinated
people account for most deaths.
of Popular Covid Test Told Factory to Destroy Inventory.
(New York Times, August 20, 2021)
Abbott Laboratories, one of the leading producers of rapid
tests, purged supplies and laid off workers as sales dwindled.
"It's all about money."
Weeks later, the U.S. is facing a surge in infections with
US Is Getting Covid Booster Shots. The World Is Furious.
(Wired, August 20, 2021)
The White House’s plan to roll out third shots for any
American adult is raising profound questions about global
equity. “We're planning to hand out extra life jackets to
people who already have life jackets, while we're leaving
other people to drown.” Globally, more than 5 billion people
threatens fines, jail time for Covid patients who don't
(2-min. video; NBC News, August 20, 2021)
Mississippi State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs indicated
sentences as long as five years could be in store for Covid-19
patients who fail to isolate.
State epidemiologist Paul Byers said Mississippi has the
highest number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in
the nation. "These numbers are staggering," he said during a
weekly Mississippi pandemic update. Only seven ICU beds were
available in the entire state Thursday as a result of its
Covid-19 fourth wave.
Texas schools shut down to keep COVID-19 from overwhelming
their small communities.
(Texas Tribune, August 19,
The small districts aren’t fighting Gov. Greg Abbott’s mask
rules, but fears for staff, students and local medical
facilities are driving them to fight high COVID-19 rates with
Research Explains Why Vaccinated People at Low Risk During
COVID Delta Variant Surge.
(SciTechDaily, August 19,
The researchers analyzed a panel of antibodies generated by
people in response to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and found
that delta was unable to evade all but one of the antibodies
they tested. Other variants of concern, such as beta, avoided
recognition and neutralization by several of the antibodies.
first fossil-free steel’ produced in Sweden and delivered to
(CNBC, August 19, 2021)
The news represents the latest development for the Hybrit
project, which is owned by SSAB, Vattenfall and LKAB.
Moore on Joining Substack, Leaving Afghanistan and Being
‘Pleasantly Surprised’ by Biden.
(Variety, August 19,
Moore’s first blog post was published in the wake of the
United States’ recent decision to leave Afghanistan, a war
that the filmmaker opposed when it started 20 years ago. The
stunning takeover of the country by Taliban forces, and the
scenes of desperate Afghan citizens clinging to the sides of
U.S. army planes, has led to condemnation on both sides of the
political aisle over the Biden administration’s handling of
the situation. Moore believes that President Joe Biden is
making the right decision. Biden will not have one more
American soldier die for something that the Afghans don’t even
want to die for,” he says. “Ninety five percent of people
agree with what Biden did this week, but if you listen to the
reporters in the White House press room, you realize that 95
percent of them seem to be opposed to it.”
for Afghan translators says Trump administration 'purposely
destroyed' visa program.
(Daily Kos, August 18, 2021)
Zeller: “The reason why all these people are stuck in
Afghanistan right now is because the visa program that was
created to get them here—it was purposely shut down by the
Trump administration for the last four years. They’re as
complicit as the Taliban are in these people’s deaths.”
welcome: Several US states open arms to fleeing Afghans.
(NBC News, August 18, 2021)
"Our state was settled by refugees fleeing religious
persecution," said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox. "We understand the
pain caused by forced migration."
Scientists Have Made a Fusion Energy Breakthrough.
(Vice, August 18, 2021)
A recent experiment at the National Ignition Facility produced
1.3 megajoules of nuclear fusion energy, twice as much as
Bill That Could Truly, Actually Bring Back U.S.
Manufacturing - And Help The Climate, Too
August 18, 2021)
America can't decarbonize without fixing its "Manufacturing
Gap'. Ask yourself: Why is Tesla the only major high-tech
manufacturing company to emerge from the United States in the
past decade or so? Why have politicians been trying and
failing since the Clinton administration to turn the U.S. into
a powerhouse of clean-energy exports?
The culprit is a frustrating and persistent shortcoming of the
American economy. You could call it “the manufacturing gap.”
It works like this: When new technologies are in the basic
research stage and decades away from reaching a market, the
U.S. lavishly supports them. But when those same technologies
are on the verge of commercialization and being prepared for
mass production, American support drops away. No bank officer
or venture capitalist will write their inventors a loan; no
local manufacturing hub will help work out the final kinks in
their production line.
This gap poses real problems for the economy and for society,
and it significantly limits the country’s capacity to respond
to climate change. But right now, Congress has a rare
opportunity to fix it. A group of moderate Democratic
senators, led by Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, has proposed
chartering an Industrial Finance Corporation
, a bank
owned by the U.S. government that would fill the
“manufacturing gap” and finance high-tech production
nationwide. The IFC would have the ability to make long-term
loans, buy equity, and make purchase guarantees for firms. It
could do for climate-essential technologies—such as clean
energy, semiconductors, batteries, and long-distance
electricity transmission—what Operation Warp Speed did for
COVID-19 vaccines. It could accelerate what I’ve called the
“green vortex,” the mix of policy, finance, and technology
that is actually driving American decarbonization. It also has
good precedent: It would work similarly to the Development
Finance Corporation, a bank that bipartisan majorities in
Congress authorized in 2019. The DFC is charged with making
investments abroad, so its existence has put the government in
the unusual position of being able to finance a new
electric-vehicle factory in Slovenia—but not South Dakota. The
Industrial Finance Corporation would, in essence, be its twin
Teachers Union Presses Vaccine Mandate For All Staff,
(Patch, August 18, 2021)
The Massachusetts Teachers Association Board of Directors
wants Gov. Charlie Baker (Republican) to get strict on school
state guidance on school masks and vaccines to this point is
more about recommendations than mandates.
Baker said earlier this week there are unlikely to be any
additional statewide mask restrictions — leaving it up to
local school districts — beyond the strong recommendation that
unvaccinated students and staff wear masks indoors, while
vaccinated students in seventh grade and older, as well as
vaccinated staff, have the option whether to wear them or not.
While Baker has repeatedly touted the state's high vaccination
rates and promoted near-universal vaccinations as "the pathway
out of this pandemic" he has not backed statewide requirements
beyond for those who work in long-term care facilities.
"It's as if Governor Baker, Education Secretary James Peyser
and Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley have learned nothing
over the past year and a half," Najimy said. "MTA members have
spent that time calling for well-informed and researched
approaches to make in-person learning as safe as possible."
Colorado county clerk faces consequences after massive
security breach of election equipment.
August 17, 2021)
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters—a “high-ranking
Election Division staff worker”—and a “mystery man” reportedly
accessed the secure Election Division room where, the
following day, Colorado election equipment was going to be
upgraded. The Daily Sentinel reports that these three
individuals are alleged to have made copies of the hard drive
and copies of the election management software. Some of these
files and images are suspected of having made their way onto
an election conspiracy theory website. Peters is suspected of
having created this “serious breach” of Colorado elections
security to help fuel Trump-supporting conspiracy theories
that massive voter fraud led to the single most unpopular
president losing his election in recent memory.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, who has opened an
investigation into the breach, says that Peters will be
replaced in upcoming elections. This comes days after
Secretary of State Jena Griswold ordered 41 pieces of election
equipment replaced, saying that the security breach had
compromised their integrity. That equipment must be replaced
and certified by the end of August, or the county must
hand-count ballots in upcoming elections.
resisted announcing major flaw in QNX software powering
cars, hospital equipment.
(Politico, August 17, 2021)
The former smartphone maker turned software firm resisted
announcing a major vulnerability until after federal officials
QNX (/ˌkjuː ˌɛn ˈɛks/ or /ˈkjuːnɪks/) is a commercial
Unix-like real-time operating system, aimed primarily at the
embedded systems market. QNX was one of the first commercially
successful microkernel operating systems. As of 2020, it is
used in a variety of devices including cars and mobile
phones. QNX is also used in car infotainment systems with many
major car makers offering variants that include an embedded
QNX architecture. It is supported by popular SSL/TLS libraries
such as wolfSSL. In recent years QNX has been used in
automated drive or ADAS systems for automotive projects that
require a functional safety certification. QNX provides this
with its QNX OS for Safety product.
Prehistoric “Hobbit” Creature: One of Three Discoveries
Suggesting Rapid Evolution of Mammals After Dinosaur
(SciTechDaily, August 17, 2021)
These prehistoric mammals roamed North America during the
earliest Paleocene Epoch, within just a few hundred thousand
years of the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary that wiped out the
dinosaurs. Their discovery suggests mammals diversified more
rapidly after the mass extinction than previously thought.
New-to-science, the creatures discovered are Miniconus
, Conacodon hettingeri
, and Beornus
. They differ in size – ranging up to a modern
house cat, which is much larger than the mostly mouse to
rat-sized mammals that lived before it alongside the dinosaurs
in North America. Each has a suite of unique dental features
that differ from each other.
and NASA Join Forces To Tackle Global Challenge of Climate
(1-min. video; SciTechDaily, August 17, 2021)
Climate change is, arguably, the biggest environmental
challenge the global population faces today. To address this
major issue, decision-makers not only need accurate
information on how our world is changing now, but also
predictions on what may happen in the future. A sound
knowledge of how Earth behaves as one system is the foundation
to all of this – and the pieces of this complex puzzle come
largely from satellites orbiting our planet. To ensure that
data from Earth-observing satellites are used to their best
advantage, further science and, ultimately, bring the most
benefit to humankind, ESA and NASA have formed a strategic
partnership for Earth science and climate change.
CDC vaccine data convinced Biden team to back booster shots.
(Politico, August 17, 2021)
The evidence showed a decline in the initial round of
protection against Covid-19 infection that's coincided with a
resurgence in cases driven by the more contagious Delta
Host Who Spread Vaccine Disinformation Dies of Covid.
(Daily Kos, August 17, 2021)
Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, Sr., a conservative Christian radio
host, has died in Chattanooga of Covid-19, according to his
family. “Prophecy Today” was broadcast daily over several
hundred stations. In February, DeYoung published an interview
promoting the conspiracy theories that the Pfizer vaccine
would make women sterile and that world governments were using
the virus and vaccine to centralize power. DeYoung’s guest at
the time, Sam Rohrer, said that very few people who were
infected lost their lives, calling the vaccine only a
“purported solution” and “not truly a vaccine.”
Phil Valentine, yet another conservative talk show host in
Nashville, is in “grave condition” according to his family.
Valentine had been skeptical of Covid vaccines, but his family
is now encouraging others to get the shots.
Marc Bernier, a Daytona Beach talk show commentator who has
spoken against vaccinations, has been hospitalized for more
than a week with Covid.
Gov. Greg Abbott (Republican) tests positive for Covid after
banning mask, vaccine mandates.
(3-min. video; NBC News,
August 17, 2021)
Abbott has told people he got a third booster dose of a
Gov. Ron DeSantis
has a very good reason to be pro-virus, and it's exactly
what everyone $u$pect$.
(Daily Kos, August 17, 2021)
DeSantis continues to fight against schools and localities
that want to save the lives of children, teachers, staff, and
residents by taking minimal efforts to fight the SARS-CoV-2
virus. Vaccines, masks, and social distancing are the way to
save lives—and the way to save the economy. What can’t
work to save Florida? REGEN-COV, the monoclonal antibody
treatment from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Not only can the
treatment not be administered to patients who have already
been hospitalized for COVID-19, or patients using oxygen for
COVID-19, REGEN-COV has to be administered by IV and is only
available in limited quantities.
So why is DeSantis pushing the treatment from Regeneron at
every press conference rather than pushing Floridians to take
a free vaccine or use cheap masks? If all this seems
nonsensical, writer Jennifer Cohn provides the simple
answer—and it’s exactly the answer you might expect.
The largest donor to DeSantis in 2020 was a man named Ken
Griffin. Griffin is the founder and CEO of investment firm
Citadel. And, as Yahoo Finance reported in June about
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, "The second largest stake is held
by Citadel Investment Group, managed by Ken Griffin, which
holds a $171.2 million call position."
For months, it has seemed like Ron DeSantis wasn’t just
failing to block COVID-19, he was openly promoting its spread.
DeSantis has been objectively pro-virus - downplaying
vaccines, banning masks, forcing schools to conduct in-person
classes, and opening businesses even when it violated the
guidelines published by his own Department of Health.
What could make sense of that? A top donor whose business is
actively helped by getting more people sick.
Moore: A Letter Is Launched. A Hopeful Pandemonium Ensues.
(Michael Moore, August 17, 2021)
I want to reconnect with all of you in this manner by sending
you my weekly letter with a bunch of new thinking and fresh
ideas of how we can turn things around. We are in the
midst of trying to survive three massive pandemics all at
once: Covid, Climate and the vicious assault on our
We are in a disastrous ecological pandemic that may also be
the cause of the coronavirus pandemic. Mother Nature has
decided the only way to protect her Earth is to attack those
trying to kill it — us! By fire, flood, virus, dead oceans,
drought, bats, biomass, starvation — she is just throwing
everything at us to see what sticks and I’m guessing she’s
thinking two or three more pandemics should do the trick with
these mutant apes.
The final pandemic thrust upon us is the impending Death of
our Democracy — a plague of millions of white people who know
their race is being depopulated and are hellbent on destroying
what’s left of our system of elections, governance and our
hopes of equity, fairness and freedom. They are the
superspreaders of hate and ignorance, and our only comfort
right now is that there are about ten million more of us than
them — and thanks to their believing Covid is a hoax and
bleach is a medicine, we are now going to ironically outlive
them because we lined up and got the shots that Trump himself
ordered for us. So there’s hope.
striking dovish tone, promise peace and women's rights under
(1-min. video; Reuters, August 17, 2021)
The Afghan Taliban said on Tuesday they wanted peaceful
relations with other countries and would respect the rights of
women within the framework of Islamic law, as they held their
first official news briefing since their shock seizure of
Kabul. The Taliban announcements, short on details but
suggesting a softer line than during their rule 20 years ago,
came as the United States and Western allies evacuated
diplomats and civilians the day after scenes of chaos at Kabul
airport as Afghans thronged the airfield.
As they rush to evacuate, foreign powers are assessing how to
respond to the changed situation on the ground after Afghan
forces melted away in just days, with what many had predicted
as the likely fast unravelling of women's rights. During their
1996-2001 rule, also guided by Islamic law, or shariah, the
Taliban stopped women from working and administered
punishments including public stoning. Girls were not allowed
to go to school and women had to wear all-enveloping burqas to
"We don't want any internal or external enemies," the
movement's main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said. Women
would be allowed to work and study and "will be very active in
society but within the framework of Islam", he added. Mujahid
said the Taliban would not seek retribution against former
soldiers and members of the Western-backed government, adding
the movement was granting an amnesty for former Afghan
government soldiers as well as contractors and translators who
worked for international forces. "Nobody is going to harm you,
nobody is going to knock on your doors," he said, adding that
there was a "huge difference" between the Taliban now and 20
day after the fall
(New York Times, August 17, 2021)
When the Taliban entered Afghanistan’s presidential palace on
Sunday, the insurgent group completed a two-decade fight to
take back control of the country. The president had fled; the
interior minister announced there would be a peaceful transfer
of power for greater Kabul.
Monday offered the first glimpse of a country coming under
Taliban control. We’ll look at how the day unfolded in three
places: the airport in Kabul, where people made a desperate
attempt to escape; the city itself, where most people spent
the day hiding; and Washington, where President Biden stood by
his plan to withdraw U.S. troops.
Afghans cram into U.S. cargo plane in desperate flight from
(Reuters, August 17, 2021)
A U.S. official told Reuters about 640 people clambered onto
the flight from Kabul on Sunday, when thousands of people
desperate to flee the country surged to the airport in the
Afghan capital. "The unusually high number of passengers was
the result of a dynamic security environment that necessitated
quick decision making by the crew which ultimately ensured
these passengers were quickly taken outside the country," the
According to the manufacturer, Boeing, the C-17 Globemaster
III can carry 134 passengers, including 54 on side seats and
80 on pallets on the floor.
Watching With Horror’: A Photographer in Afghanistan on the
Eve of Collapse
(Politico, August 17, 2021)
Photojournalist Paula Bronstein was on assignment in
Afghanistan in the final months before the Taliban takeover.
Her photos and perspective document the country’s descent into
chaos and confusion.
hours at Camp David: Inside Biden’s lagging response to the
fall of Afghanistan
(3-min. video; Washington Post,
August 16, 2021)
Inside the White House and across the nation’s national
security apparatus in recent days, officials were stunned at
how quickly the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan, as well
as frustrated by what many viewed as the country’s misguided
intelligence and failed implementation of evacuations.
Officials at the State Department, Defense Department and
National Security Council are laser-focused on safely
transporting American troops and allies out of the country,
according to three people in contact with officials. But these
people also described the mood inside the White House as grim,
as officials came to grips with their failures and watched a
tragedy unfold in real time.
Bad Economics of Fossil Fuel Defenders
(New York Times,
August 16, 2021)
Republicans have toned down their climate denial — in some
cases pretending that they never denied the science in the
first place. Thus Senator James Inhofe, author of 2012’s “The
Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens
Your Future,” is now claiming that he never called climate
change a hoax.
If past experience is any guide, this new willingness to
accept the reality of global warming won’t last; the next time
America has a cold snap, the usual suspects will go right back
to denying climate change and attacking scientists. For now,
however, they’re focused on the immense economic damage that,
they claim, will result if we try to limit emissions of
So let me offer four reasons not to believe a word they say on
Piece Of Cochituate Rail Trail Opens In Natick.
Patch, August 16, 2021)
A formal opening is still in the future, but walkers,
bicyclists, joggers and more can enjoy a new piece of the
The Cochituate Rail Trail (CRT) hit a second major milestone
on August 13th, when a new bridge along the multi-use path
opened over Route 9. Now, bicyclists, joggers, walkers and
four-legged friends can trek from Saxonville in Framingham to
near downtown Natick.
The first new bridge, along the CRT crossing Route 30, opened
in early July, giving pathway users a taste of the brand new
trail. With the Route 9 bridge, almost all four miles of the
CRT are now accessible to the public.
the Secrets of ‘Invisible’ Animals
August 16, 2021)
From glasswing butterflies to vanishing octopuses, evolution
is a mad scientist.
probing Autopilot problems on 765,000 Tesla vehicles.
(ABC News, August 16, 2021)
The U.S. government has opened a formal investigation into
Tesla’s Autopilot partially automated driving system after a
series of collisions with parked emergency vehicles
T-Mobile Data Breach Is One You Can’t Ignore.
August 16, 2021)
Hackers claim to have obtained the data of 100 million
people—including sensitive personal information.
is one president I blame for Afghanistan. And it isn't
(Daily Kos, August 16, 2021)
What happened? How did we get here? Afghanistan wasn’t really
on the target list for the U.S. post the 9/11 attack on the
twin towers, for those who forget. No, we were after specific
terrorists, and then the field kept expanding. Without any
provable link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, U.S.
troops swept into the country and began a military adventure
without end. The George W. Bush administration treated lives
and the truth haphazardly, and as time went on, that problem
compounded. It began with a big lie — that there was a huge
connection in the middle east - and it continued to expand.
develop sudden case of amnesia over Trump's 'historic' peace
deal with the Taliban.
(Daily Kos, August 16, 2021)
As recently as June, the RNC website boasted that Trump had
"continued to take the lead in peace talks as he signed a
historic peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan,
which would end America's longest war." The RNC page linked to
articles calling the deal a "decisive move" toward peace and
"the best path" forward for the U.S. But now, when you click
on the link, all that emerges is a 404 error, as Washington
Post reporter Dave Weigel pointed out. The RNC apparently
couldn't scrub that page fast enough.
Donald Trump, however, has repeatedly patted himself on the
back for his expert deal-making skills with the Taliban. In a
statement released April 18, 2021, Trump hailed getting out of
Afghanistan as a "wonderful and positive thing to do," adding
that he hoped Biden would stick with his speedy timeline for
withdrawal. "I planned to withdraw on May 1st, and we should
keep as close to that schedule as possible," Trump said in a
statement that has since been deleted from his official
website. Seem like the revisionist history bug is catching in
Kanefield: White Supremacy, Hierarchy, and the Anti-Mask
(18-min. video; YouTube, August 15, 2021)
For this week, I tackle these questions: What’s the endgame of
the anti-mask, anti-vax campaign being pushed by certain
Republican leaders? Won’t it backfire when their own
constituents get sick and die? To answer, I show the
connection between theories of white supremacy and the
[Excellent! See her follow-up above, on August 22nd.]
Trump Dishonestly Blasts Biden in an Ego-Drenched Defense of
His Own Afghan Failures.
(Daily Kos, August 15, 2021)
As the Taliban completes its brutal military takeover
Afghanistan, Donald Trump is predictably seeking to absolve
himself of any responsibility, while casting blame on others.
This time, once again, it's President Joe Biden, who
repeatedly has had to finish the hard jobs that Trump either
left undone or irreparably botched. Whether it's the COVID
pandemic or the nation's infrastructure or the economic
recovery, Biden has been forced to clean up Trump's failures.
Taliban leaders are among the 5,000 that Trump released last
year over everyone's objections.
(Daily Kos, August 15,
One year ago, the Donald released 5,000 Taliban fighters in
exchange for a cease-fire to help his flailing presidential
campaign, despite strenuous objections from the Afghan
government. President Ashraf Ghani warned that their release
would be a “danger to the world.” We are finding out
that many of these fighters entering Kabul, such as Mawlavi
Talib, are top Taliban commanders who oversaw the assaults of
the key cities.
Trump even had discussions with the top Taliban leader, Mullah
Abdul Ghani Baradar. Essentially, Trump caved to everything
they asked for. Worse, no members of the Afghan government
were present. Trump completely cut them out of the deal.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, who was
appointed under George W. Bush, blames that peace deal on
delegitimizing the Afghan government.
To be clear, Trump’s peace deal was a complete disgrace that
diminished our allies and strengthened the enemy. Trump
reinforced the Taliban with their top fighters, and promised a
quick retreat of American forces. This essentially would
establish the Taliban as the defacto regime once US forces
left. Trump is now lying, to no one’s surprise, saying
that the peace accord he signed was “conditions-based.”
president flees the country as Taliban move on Kabul.
(AP News, August 15, 2021)
Afghanistan’s embattled president left the country Sunday,
joining his fellow citizens and foreigners in a stampede
fleeing the advancing Taliban and signaling the end of a
20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan.
The Taliban, who for hours had been on the outskirts of Kabul,
announced soon after they would move further into a city
gripped by panic where helicopters raced overhead throughout
the day to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Embassy. Smoke
rose near the compound as staff destroyed important documents.
Several other Western missions also prepared to pull their
Afghans fearing that the Taliban could reimpose the kind of
brutal rule that all but eliminated women’s rights rushed to
leave the country as well, lining up at cash machines to
withdraw their life savings. The desperately poor — who had
left homes in the countryside for the presumed safety of the
capital — remained in their thousands in parks and open spaces
throughout the city.
President Ashraf Ghani flew out of the country, Abdullah
Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation
Council confirmed. “The former president of Afghanistan left
Afghanistan, leaving the country in this difficult situation,”
Abdullah said. “God should hold him accountable.”+
In a stunning rout, the Taliban seized nearly all of
Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the billions of
dollars spent by the U.S. and NATO over nearly two decades to
build up Afghan security forces. Just days earlier, an
American military assessment estimated it would be a month
before the capital would come under insurgent pressure.
Briefing: Taliban’s sweep in Afghanistan, a violent
earthquake in Haiti, the big business of ice cream and more.
(New York Times, August 15, 2021)
America’s Covid-reporting breakdown
Crashing computers, three-week delays tracking infections, lab
results delivered by snail mail: State officials detail a vast
failure to identify hotspots quickly enough to prevent
FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe says Trump is 'threatening
members of law enforcement' in targeting officer who killed
Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt.
(6-min. video; Business
Insider, August 14, 2021)
Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe on Thursday blasted
former President Donald Trump for "threatening law
enforcement" in calling for "justice" against the Capitol
Police officer who killed insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt on
January 6. During an appearance on CNN's "The Situation Room,"
McCabe told anchor Jim Acosta that Trump's comments regarding
the Capitol Police were "incredibly dangerous." "We know this
for a fact. It is not something we are theorizing about," he
said. "We have seen before the impact that the president's
words have on his most die-hard and emotional supporters." He
added: "We have seen an attempted bombing plot by a domestic
extremist who was arrested some years ago who said he was
following the directions of President Trump. We all saw the
insurrectionists on January 6th acting what many of them had
said, they thought they were following his direction."
In a Wednesday statement, Trump lauded Babbitt, who was killed
by a law-enforcement officer as she attempted to climb through
a broken window to access the Speaker's Lobby during the
Capitol riot. "I spoke to the wonderful mother and husband of
Ashli Babbitt, who was murdered at the hands of someone who
should have never pulled the trigger of his gun," Trump said.
"We know who he is. If this happened to the 'other side,'
there would be riots all over America, and yet there are far
more people represented by Ashli, who truly loved America,
than there are on the other side." He added: "The Radical Left
haters cannot be allowed to get away with this. There must be
During the interview, McCabe proceeded to state that the
former president's comments were akin to language coming from
an organized crime figure and not from a former
commander-in-chief. "Let's face it," said McCabe. "When he
says 'we know who you are,' that's a threat. That's the same
sort of language that a mob boss or a drug kingpin would use
to threaten a subordinate." He emphasized: "You have the
former president of the United States threatening members of
law enforcement. It's just outrageous."
Global Warming Begets More Warming:
MIT Paleoclimate Researchers Discover a “Warming Bias”.
(SciTechDaily, August 14, 2021)
It is increasingly clear that the prolonged drought
conditions, record-breaking heat, sustained wildfires, and
frequent, more extreme storms experienced in recent years are
a direct result of rising global temperatures brought on by
humans’ addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. And a
new MIT study on extreme climate events in Earth’s ancient
history suggests that today’s planet may become more volatile
as it continues to warm.
The study examines the paleoclimate record of the last 66
million years, during the Cenozoic era, which began shortly
after the extinction of the dinosaurs. The scientists found
that during this period, fluctuations in the Earth’s climate
experienced a surprising “warming bias.” In other words, there
were far more warming events — periods of prolonged global
warming, lasting thousands to tens of thousands of years —
than cooling events. What’s more, warming events tended to be
more extreme, with greater shifts in temperature, than cooling
extreme weather conditions, a shift among Republicans on
(New York Times, August 13, 2021)
Many Republicans in Congress no longer deny that Earth is
heating because of fossil fuel emissions. But they say
abandoning oil, gas and coal will harm the economy. They don't
mention that that's where much of their money comes from.
Fox News, DeSantis is ‘the future of the party.’ And he’s
(Tampa Bay Times, August 13, 2021)
Emails show the Florida governor is in high demand on the
network — and gets his way. By turning to DeSantis to fill the
many hours of airtime once devoted to former President Donald
Trump, Fox has made Florida’s hard-charging leader one of the
country’s most recognizable Republicans. That has given
DeSantis a leg up on others who may seek the party’s
nomination for president in 2024. A recent nationwide poll of
Republican voters put DeSantis atop the field if Trump doesn’t
run again. No other prospective candidate was close.
thoughtless privilege of America's vaccine refusers.
(Daily Kos, August 13, 2021)
So we sit, month after month, patiently waiting for the 90
million or so unvaccinated, COVID-19 vaccine-eligible people
in this country to get off their pampered American asses and
drive a meager mile or so to the CVS or Walgreen’s to get a
safe and simple shot that would prevent a long, painful
hospital stay (or at worst, a dismal end-of-life experience on
a ventilator) for them. We wait, and wait again, as we read
article after article proposing new, clever ways to get the
so-called “vaccine hesitant” to come around. (Whatever you do,
don’t criticize them, we’re told.)
But while we’re busy waiting for these people to somehow see
the light, we shouldn’t lose sight of just how incredibly
lucky we all are to live in a country that actually has the
wealth and public health infrastructure to provide these
vaccines in the first place.
Authorizes Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Dose – But Not For
(SciTechDaily, August 13, 2021)
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the
emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for both the
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19
Vaccine to allow for the use of an additional dose in certain
immunocompromised individuals, specifically, solid organ
transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with
conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of
the heck is a time crystal, and why are physicists obsessed
(Popular Science, August 13, 2021)
Some of today’s quantum physicists are tinkering with an
esoteric phase of matter that seems to disobey some of our
laws of physics.
legendary Chinese seafarer the West overlooks
August 13, 2021)
In the 1400s, Admiral Zheng He sailed thousands of miles
around Asia and Africa in ships the size of soccer fields,
spreading Chinese innovations like compasses and gunpowder in
updates: Cities fall to Taliban at striking speed as crisis
(3-min. video; ABC News, August 13, 2021)
A military analysis said Kabul could be isolated in 30 to 60
days and be captured in 90 days, a U.S. official told ABC
News. That timeline seemed even more accelerated Thursday as
the Taliban claimed Herat, Afghanistan's third-largest city.
As of Friday, the Taliban had taken control of Kandahar, the
country’s second-largest city, located 300 miles south of
Kabul and considered the birthplace of the Taliban. The
Taliban has also seized Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand
province. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has urged Americans to
evacuate Afghanistan immediately, amid fears that the capital
could fall into Taliban hands in a matter of weeks.
Conway lists laws Trump likely broke in bid to overturn
(4-min. video; Daily Kos, August 13, 2021)
Donald Trump did, you know, literally try to end America. The
most stark evidence of the ocher abomination’s disdain for
democracy came in a recent report about Trump’s
anti-democratic actions in late-December, when he was
furiously trying to overturn the election he’d decisively
lost. According to one observer’s contemporaneous notes, Trump
told Department of Justice officials to “just say the election
was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me.”
the Far Right Exploded on Steam and Discord
August 12, 2021)
New research found that several of the major gaming platforms
are hosting extremist activity, from racist livestreams to
open support for neo-Nazis.
6 looked scary? On Jan. 3 the U.S. came within hours of a
coup supported by the Dept. of Justice!
August 12, 2021)
January 6 was not the only coup attempt of the 2020 cycle, nor
the most dangerous. Screaming white nationalist militia
smearing excrement on the halls of Congress as they searched
for lawmakers to hang may have been a shocking visualization
of just how far Donald Trump’s supporters were willing to go
in their support for an authoritarian America. However, behind
the scenes, that authoritarian was scheming to use the vast
powers of his office to blow away the election results and
engage a coup that would involve the Department of Justice
(DOJ), Republican state officials, the Supreme Court, and
ultimately the military in a scheme to simply assassinate
of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz
is providing feds intel, documents as probe into congressman
(ABC News, August 12, 2021)
Former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, as part
of his ongoing cooperation with prosecutors, has provided
investigators with years of Venmo and Cash App transactions
and thousands of photos and videos, as well as access to
personal social media accounts. Private messages potentially
shed new light on the process by which Greenberg allegedly met
women online who were paid for sex, and introduced them to the
Florida congressman and other associates.
six churchgoers die from COVID-19, FL pastor runs
(Daily Kos, August 12, 2021)
“Why is your church holding another vaccination event?”
"BECAUSE…6 church members have died in the last 10 days. 4 of
them under 35. All healthy. All unvaccinated. And I’m tired of
crying about and burying people I love. So take the political
& religious games somewhere else!!"
Life with Art at the Center, in “Yves & Variation”
(15-min. film by Lydia Cornett; New Yorker, August 12, 2021)
Variation can be a counter to boredom—“Twinkle, Twinkle,
Little Star” makes us yawn, but Mozart gets it to scurry and
flirt—and, through the deconstruction and re-creation of
melody, it can provide a window on the sublime. Lydia
Cornett’s fifteen-minute documentary film & Variation”
shows its subject, the extraordinary Yves Deshommes, in
various guises: a musician, a doorman, an art dealer, a
philanthropist, a father. By resisting narrative and going
without interviews, Cornett allows the motifs of Deshommes’s
life to emerge amid its varied strands.
[Wonderful! View the film, first.]
Perseverance's First Mars Drilling Attempt Came Up Empty
(Wired, August 12, 2021)
Far from a failure, the sampling might actually offer
tantalizing clues about the geology—and potential past life—of
the Red Planet.
Simple Software Fix Could Limit Location Data Sharing.
(Wired, August 12, 2021)
Carriers know where you are every time your phone reconnects
to the cell network—but with Pretty
Good Phone Privacy
, they wouldn’t have to.
The fact that small, virtual providers who don't even operate
their own cell towers—known as MVNOs—could implement this
scheme independently is significant, says cryptographer Bruce
Schneier, who originally learned about PGPP in January and has
recently become a project adviser. “One carrier can do it on
their own without anybody’s permission and without anybody
else changing anything,” Schneier says. “I can imagine one of
these smaller companies saying they're going to offer this as
a value-add, because they want to differentiate. This is
privacy at very little cost. That’s the neat thing.”
Traced a Wooly Mammoth's Lifetime Journey, and It's
(Vice, August 12, 2021)
Researchers found the mammoth walked a distance equal to
nearly twice the circumference of Earth using isotopes of
strontium and oxygen.
smoke may lead to less rain in the western US.
Geophysical Union, August 11, 2021)
Particles from wildfires make small cloud droplets that are
less likely to fall as rain.
of Earth's Deep Past Reveals Terrifying Global Warming
(Vice, August 11, 2021)
Even modest temperature increases can self-amplify into
extreme warming events, a finding that has implications for
the current climate crisis.
the Climate Crisis Through the Eyes of Henry Thoreau
(The Nation, August 11, 2021)
“I walk toward one of our ponds,” Thoreau wrote in “Slavery in
Massachusetts,” “but what signifies the beauty of nature when
men are base?”
Turn Back the Clock: New Research Discovers Their Potential
To Reverse Aging in the Brain.
(SciTechDaily, August 11,
In this latest mouse study, the authors show that by
transplanting microbes from young into old animals they could
rejuvenate aspects of brain and immune function. Prof John F.
Cryan, says “Previous research published by the APC and other
groups internationally has shown that the gut microbiome plays
a key role in aging and the aging process. This new research
is a potential game-changer, as we have established that the
microbiome can be harnessed to reverse age-related brain
deterioration. We also see evidence of improved learning
ability and cognitive function.”
IRS Files Reveal How Much the Ultrawealthy Gained by Shaping
Trump’s “Big, Beautiful Tax Cut”.
Billionaire business owners deployed lobbyists to make sure
Trump’s 2017 tax bill was tailored to their benefit.
Confidential IRS records show the windfall that followed.
Pass-through proponents touted it as boosting “small business”
and “Main Street,” and it’s true that many small businesses
got a modest tax break. But a recent study by Treasury
economists found that the top 1% of Americans by income have
reaped nearly 60% of the billions in tax savings created by
the provision. And most of that amount went to the top 0.1%.
That’s because even though there are many small pass-through
businesses, most of the pass-through profits in the country
flow to the wealthy owners of a limited group of large
only statewide Democratic official confirms everyone's fears
about Ron DeSantis.
(Daily Kos, August 10, 2021)
It may be surprising to learn that there are still Democrats
who hold statewide office in Florida. Or … Democrat. As in
one. That one is Nikki Fried, the Florida commissioner of
agriculture. The full name of the department is actually
Agriculture and Consumer Services, and that includes a lot.
For example, just two weeks ago, Fried pulled the concealed
carry permits for 26 Floridians involved in the Jan. 6
insurrection—because that’s one of the authorities that falls
under her role.
In a state that’s becoming infamous for DeSantis’ pro-virus
positions, Fried is one of several Democrats who have already
announced they’ll be facing DeSantis in the next gubernatorial
election. She’s possibly the only one in a position to buffer
her state against some of his worst excesses. Last week we sat
down for a talk with Fried to get her ideas on how to end the
chaos and bring a little light back to the Sunshine State.
Fried elaborated, “Local governments made deals to implement
wind and solar energy, and now Gov. DeSantis has signed a bill
to strip local governments of the ability to advance these
issues. It’s heartbreaking to see that the people who are
closest to the people are having their authority stripped
away, when this is the whole point of local government.” And
in terms that must ring true for many in Florida’s immigrant
community, Fried laid out where DeSantis and others were
taking the party and the state: “This is building up to what
people from Latin America fled their counties to escape. They
came to our country for democracy. This is not democracy. This
is authoritarian regime tactics, and we have to consistently
stand up against this.”
set Greece on fire?
(UnHerd, August 10, 2021)
Climate change isn’t just a notional threat on an
ever-shifting horizon: it’s already here, right now. The
apocalypse has already arrived.
By 1990, there was a mass understanding that global warming
was a genuine threat to human civilisatio. I remember teachers
instructing us about CFCs and the hole in the ozone layer,
with propagandistic cartoons like Captain Planet aiming to
create a new generation of responsible eco-warriors.
The thirty years since then have been entirely wasted. Instead
of the dominant global power taking a meaningful lead on
climate change, the world has been held hostage to the
vagaries of American domestic politics, as one faction enters
into fruitless international policy accords heralded with much
fanfare and no effect, and the other withdraws from them with
vindictive glee. Simply, we are ruled by unserious people who
are unfit to rule. Meanwhile, Western countries such as
Britain have achieved massive reductions of carbon emissions
by shifting their industrial output to China, which now holds
humanity’s fate in its hands and shows no desire to sacrifice
its chance of hegemony by lowering its output.
Instead, locked in competition with each other, both the
world’s two great global powers will expand their production
and consumption, dooming the rest of us to an ever-faster
collapse. If there was ever a time to construct a true global
commons capable of confronting climate collapse it was then,
during the 1990s’ brief End of History. That the trillions of
dollars and the vast quantities of natural resources spent on
extending and maintaining its imperial hegemony across the
furthest corners of the earth would have been better spent on
addressing the threat of climate change is an unarguable fact.
Even now the United States military alone emits more carbon
than affluent European countries like Sweden or Norway. Every
bomb dropped on an illiterate Afghan peasant, every carton of
ice cream or air conditioning unit shipped to a desert in the
middle of nowhere over the past twenty years of failed
warfare, represents a gigantic distraction from the threat
facing us all, a colossal waste of resources and effort that
surely has no parallel in all human history.
report’s verdict on climate crimes of humanity: Guilty as
("sliding" aerial photos, videos, and more; The
Guardian, August 9, 2021)
- Humans have caused ‘unprecedented’ and ‘irreversible’ change
to climate, scientists warn.
- Climate crisis ‘unequivocally’ caused by human activities,
says IPCC report.
- Politicians are now on the dock.
[This article - and ones linked to it - have particularly
compelling graphics and quotes.]
A Hotter Future
(New York Times, August 9, 2021)
It’s too late to reverse the damage done to the Earth’s
climate. It’s not too late to change course right away to
prevent things from getting far worse. That’s the scientific
consensus presented this morning to world leaders by the
United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It’s the most complete synthesis of climate science available,
based on a review of thousands of research papers assessing
how the combustion of coal, oil and gas has altered the
Earth’s climate and with it, human destiny.
The report doesn’t present one future foretold, though. Its
most important finding is that there are several futures
[Growth vs. Sustainability. Greed vs. Planet Earth. See the
entire report at August 6, 2021 (below).]
are coming for the lawyers – which may be bad for tomorrow’s
attorneys but great for anyone in need of cheap legal
(9-min. video; The Conversation, August 9,
Lawyers were thought to be mostly immune from the coming AI
revolution, but two legal experts explain why jobs that rely
on human ingenuity can still be affected.
Cruises: 1, State of Florida: 0.
(Newser, August 9,
Company wins temporary stay against Florida's ban on
businesses asking for vaccine passports.
Delta Variant Has Warped Our Risk Perception.
31-min. video w/two experts; Wired, August 8, 2021)
Gone are the easy, thoughtless choices of hot vax summer.
Making decisions that balance safety and sanity just got a lot
radio and Newsmax host who opposed Covid vaccine dies of
(NBC News, August 8, 2021)
Dick Farrel was a vocal and staunch advocate against the
coronavirus vaccines, which he posted about on social media,
once calling them "bogus." He also railed against figures like
Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom he called a "lying freak." But at the
end, a friend reported, "Dick texted me and told me to 'Get
vaccinated!' He told me this virus is no joke and he said, 'I
wish I had gotten it!'"
Senator (and MD) Bill Cassidy breaks with DeSantis on school
mask mandates: 'The local official should have control."
(2-min. video; CNN, August 8, 2021)
On Friday, Florida reported more Covid-19 cases over the past
week than any other seven-day period during the pandemic, and
the state has accounted for about one in five of the nation's
new Covid cases over the past couple of weeks. Texas came in
second. When asked specifically if the two governors are
prioritizing politics over public health, the senator, who had
previously contracted the virus, said he didn't want to "guess
other people's motives," but argued that "public health
suffers" when politics get involved. "Whenever politicians
mess with public health, usually it doesn't work out well for
public health, and ultimately it doesn't work out for the
politician, because public health suffers and the American
people want public health," Cassidy said.
The bans from DeSantis and Abbott were also criticized last
week by President Joe Biden, who blasted them as "bad health
policy." DeSantis later defended his order and shot back at
Biden, saying: "I'm the governor who answers to the people of
Florida, not to bureaucrats in Washington."
Krugman: "Freedom" (Privilege), Florida and the delta
(New York Times, August 8, 2021)
Florida is in the grip of a COVID surge worse than it
experienced before the vaccines. More than 10,000 Floridians
are hospitalized, around 10 times the number in New York,
which has about as many residents; an average of 58 Florida
residents are dying each day, compared with six in New York.
And the Florida hospital system is under extreme stress.
And yet, at every stage of the pandemic Ron DeSantis,
Republican governor of Florida, has effectively acted as an
ally of the coronavirus, for example by issuing orders
blocking businesses from requiring that their patrons show
proof of vaccination and schools from requiring masks. More
generally, he has helped create a state of mind in which
vaccine skepticism flourishes and refusal to take precautions
is normalized.DeSantis isn’t stupid. He is, however, ambitious
and supremely cynical. So when he says things that sound
stupid, it’s worth asking why. And his recent statements on
COVID-19 help us understand why so many Americans are still
dying or getting severely ill from the disease.
Above all, he has been playing the liberal-conspiracy-theory
card, with fundraising letters declaring that the "radical
left" is "coming for your freedom."
So let’s talk about what the right means when it talks about
"freedom". Since the pandemic began, many conservatives have
insisted that actions to limit the death toll — social
distancing, wearing a mask and now getting vaccinated — should
be matters of personal choice. Does that position make any
sense? Well, driving drunk is also a personal choice. But
almost everyone understands that it’s a personal choice that
endangers others; 97% of the public considers driving while
impaired by alcohol a serious problem. Why don’t we have the
same kind of unanimity on refusing to get vaccinated, a choice
that helps perpetuate the pandemic and puts others at risk?
My answer is that when people on the right talk about
"freedom", what they actually mean is closer to "defense of
privilege" — specifically the right of certain people
(generally white male Christians) to do whatever they want.
Not incidentally, if you go back to the roots of modern
conservatism, you find people like Barry Goldwater defending
the right of businesses to discriminate against Black
Americans. In the name of freedom, of course. A lot, though
not all, of the recent panic about "“cancel culture" is about
protecting the right of powerful men to mistreat women. And so
Once you understand that the rhetoric of freedom is
actually about privilege
, things that look on the
surface like gross inconsistency and hypocrisy start to make
sense. Why, for example, are conservatives so insistent on the
right of businesses to make their own decisions, free from
regulation — but quick to stop them from denying service to
customers who refuse to wear masks or show proof of
vaccination? Why is the autonomy of local school districts a
fundamental principle — unless they want to require masks or
teach America’s racial history? It’s all about whose
privilege is being protected.
The reality of what the right means by freedom also, I think,
explains the special rage induced by rules that impose some
slight inconvenience in the name of the public interest — like
the detergent wars of a few years back. After all, only poor
people and minority groups are supposed to be asked to make
Anyway, as you watch DeSantis invoke "freedom" to escape
responsibility for his COVID catastrophe, remember, when he
says it, that that word does not mean what you think it means.
[No surprise, that DeSantis has been nicknamed,
Find an Effective Remedy for “Aged” Brain Diseases Such As
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
(Ural Federal University,
August 8, 2021)
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are diseases of the
brain, in which gradual degeneration of neurons leads to loss
of speech, memory, and thinking. Most often they affect people
over 65 years old. The global number of people suffering from
Alzheimer’s disease alone in 2010 was estimated at 35.6
million. By 2050, growth is projected to 115.4 million.
Effective drugs for the prevention and treatment of ailments
of this type have not yet been created. Existing remedies are
aimed only at suppressing symptoms, but cannot stop the
process of neurodegeneration itself.
Now Russian scientists have synthesized chemical compounds
that can stop the degeneration of neurons in Alzheimer’s,
Parkinson’s, and other severe brain pathologies. These
substances can provide a breakthrough in the treatment of
Taliban seize Kunduz, a key city in northern Afghanistan.
(New York Times, August 8, 2021)
The Taliban seized the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan
today. It is the first major city to be overtaken by the
insurgents since they began their sweeping military offensive
in May, and it happened just weeks before U.S. forces were set
to complete a total withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was also
the third provincial capital to be overtaken by Taliban in
three days, and a major blow to the Afghan government.
sweeps through Athens suburbs in fifth day of Greece
(1-min. video, 19 photos; CNN, August 7,
Wildfires have erupted in many parts of the country amid
Greece’s worst heatwave in more than 30 years, tearing through
tens of thousands of acres of forestland, destroying homes and
businesses and killing animals. Temperatures have been over 40
Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) all week.
The fire on Mount Parnitha on the outskirts of Athens has
forced the evacuation of thousands of people since late
Thursday, with emergency crews facing winds and high
temperatures as they battle to contain its spread. More than
700 firefighters, including reinforcements from Cyprus, France
and Israel, have been deployed to fight the blaze north of
Athens, assisted by the army and water-bombing aircraft.
The government plans to reimburse people affected by the fires
and will designate the burned land as areas for reforestation.
Repeating Donation Tactics Led to Millions in Refunds Into
(New York Times, August 7, 2021)
Trailing in the polls and facing a cash crunch last September,
Trump’s political operation began opting online donors into
automatic recurring contributions by prechecking a box on its
digital donation forms to take a withdrawal every week. Donors
would have to notice the box and uncheck it to opt out of the
donation. A second prechecked box took out another donation,
known as a “money bomb.”
Ttump's aggressive fundraising tactics have continued to spur
an avalanche of refunds into 2021, with Trump, the Republican
Party and their shared accounts returning $12.8 million to
donors in the first six months of the year, newly released
federal records show. The refunds were some of the biggest
outlays that Trump made in 2021 as he has built up his $102
million political war chest — and amounted to roughly 20% of
the $56 million he and his committees raised online so far
Alert: A “Cool” Neptune-Like Planet – With Plenty of
(NASA, August 6, 2021)
TOI-1231 b, a planet some 90 light-years away from Earth, is
oddly reminiscent of our own Neptune – that is, a gaseous
world with a potentially rich atmosphere, ripe for study. The
planet is more than 3 ½ times as big around as Earth and warm
by Earthly standards at 134 degrees Fahrenheit (57 Celsius).
But astronomers say it is one of the “coolest,” comparatively
small planets known to date, and in a prime position for the
components of its atmosphere to be teased apart by space
UN REPORT ups
the ante re Climate Change: AR6 Climate Change 2021: The
Physical Science Basis
(UN Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, August 6, 2021)
This Sixth Assessment Report addresses the most up-to-date
physical understanding of the climate system and climate
change, bringing together the latest advances in climate
science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from
paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global
and regional climate simulations.
[Also see IPCC's March 28, 2019 report, "Only 11 Years Left to
Prevent Irreversible Damage from Climate Change", below.]
Continues To Bake – Surface Temperatures Over 120° in Turkey
(satellite thermal maps; European Space
Agency, August 6, 2021)
This map shows the temperature of the land surface on August
2, 2021. It is clear to see that surface temperatures in
Turkey and Cyprus have reached over 50°C (~122°F), again. A
map from June 30 (at the bottom of this article) shows pretty
much the same situation. The Mediterranean has been suffering
a heatwave for some weeks, leading to numerous wildfires.
Turkey, for example, is reported to be amid the country’s
worst blazes in at least a decade.
Small Volcanic Eruptions Could Create Global Chaos.
(10-min. video; Wired, August 6, 2021)
In the spring of 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano
kaboomed, sending a cloud of ash into European airspace. The
resulting disruption in air travel (ash + engines = bad) was
the largest on the continent since World War II, costing an
estimated $5 billion. And yet, Eyjafjallajökull’s meltdown was
moderate, as volcanologists classify it.
It was a warning that smaller eruptions can be perfectly
placed to cause out-sized civilizational misery. That’s not
because they produce many fatalities, but because they can
trigger the devastation of valuable infrastructure like
undersea cables and shipping channels. (As the world recently
learned, just getting a single ship stuck in the Suez Canal is
a meltdown in its own right.)
The researchers identified seven main “pinch points,” where
critical infrastructure exists alongside active volcanoes with
the potential for low-magnitude eruptions. An explosion among
any of them could set off devastating cascades of economic
effects. “I just kept thinking, they're all in the same
places—all of these systems converge,” says social
volcanologist Lara Mani. “And that's terrifying. Why has no
one mentioned this before?
Forests Store More Carbon Than Previously Thought –
Estimated 3.9 Trillion Cubic Feet of Wood
(SciTechDaily, August 6, 2021)
Russia has the largest area of forest on the planet, with more
than a fifth of the world’s trees. A new study, led by Russian
scientists using data from ESA’s Climate Change Initiative,
has produced new estimates of biomass contained in Russian
forests, and confirms that the vast forested area is storing
39% more carbon than previously estimated.
COVID Diagnostic in Only 20 Minutes, Using Two CRISPR
(University of California/Berkeley, August 6,
Frequent, rapid testing for COVID-19 is critical to
controlling the spread of outbreaks, especially as new, more
transmissible variants emerge.
While today’s gold standard COVID-19 diagnostic test, which
uses qRT-PCR — quantitative reverse-transcriptase-polymerase
chain reaction (PCR) — is extremely sensitive, detecting down
to one copy of RNA per microliter, it requires specialized
equipment, a runtime of several hours and a centralized
laboratory facility. As a result, testing typically takes at
least one to two days.
A research team led by scientists in the labs of Jennifer
Doudna, David Savage, and Patrick Hsu at the University of
California, Berkeley, is aiming to develop a diagnostic test
that is much faster and easier to deploy than qRT-PCR. It has
now combined two different types of CRISPR enzymes to create
an assay that can detect small amounts of viral RNA in less
than an hour. Doudna shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
for invention of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. “Our hope was to
drive the biochemistry as far as possible to the point where
you could imagine a very convenient format in a setting where
you can get tested every day, say, at the entrance to work.”
new report ranks US dead last in health care among richest
countries—despite spending the most.
(The Hill, August
The U.S. ranked last on access to care, administrative
efficiency, equity and health care outcomes despite spending
17 percent of GDP on health care, but came in second on the
measures of care process metric. The nation performed well in
rates of mammography screening and influenza vaccination for
older Americans, as well as the percentage of adults who
talked with their physician about nutrition, smoking and
The U.S. has two health care
systems. For Americans with the means and insurance to
have a regular doctor and reported experiences with their
day-to-day care are relatively good, but for those who
lack access, the consequences are stark.
lower-income U.S. adults in the report said costs prevented
them from receiving care while just more than a quarter of
high-income Americans said the same. In comparison, just 12
percent of lower-income residents in the U.K. and 7 percent
with higher incomes said costs stopped them from getting
care. The U.S. also had the highest infant mortality rate
and lowest life expectancy at age 60 compared with other
countries. The poor
performance is nothing new, as the U.S. has landed in last
place in all seven studies the Commonwealth Fund has
released since 2004.
vaccinated Scalise wants voters to know Democrats are to
blame for the red-state surge.
(Daily Kos, August 6,
GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana spent
months putting off getting vaccinated, before having an abrupt
change of heart in late July. As the delta variant started
ravaging his state, Scalise was photographed getting the jab.
At a press conference several days later, he told reporters,
"I would encourage people to get the vaccine. I have high
confidence in it. I got it myself."
But quickly adopting a pro-vaccine posture wasn't enough for
Scalise. On July 26, he posted a disinformation video
claiming, "Democrats have a history of vaccine misinformation
and not trusting the science."
congressman, who filed a lawsuit over masks last week, tests
positive for COVID this week.
(Daily Kos, August 6,
Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina was in the news
a little over a week ago as he, and two other congressional
Republicans announced they were suing House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi over a mask mandate requiring all people on the House
floor to cover their yaps. Rep. Norman was flanked by bats in
the belfry Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Thomas
Massie of Kentucky, who submitted legal arguments that the
mask mandate “has been used to force Plaintiffs and other
members of the minority party to be instruments for fostering
public adherence to this ideological point of view that
Plaintiffs find unacceptable.” As with all ironies, the irony
of three television vampires like Norman, Greene, and Massie
complaining about political theatre was lost on the
One of these Congresspeople will be doing their work from the
comfort of a quarantine bunker. According to Rep. Ralph
Norman, he’s tested positive for COVID-19. According to
Norman—grain of salt and all of that—he has been “fully
vaccinated” since February, but began “experiencing minor
symptoms” Thursday morning. He says that “thankfully,” since
he was vaccinated, his “symptoms remain mild.”
Plan to "Think Different" About Encryption Opens a Backdoor
to Your Private Life.
(Electronic Frontier Foundation,
August 5, 2021)
Child exploitation is a serious problem, and Apple isn't the
first tech company to bend its privacy-protective stance in an
attempt to combat it. But that choice will come at a high
price for overall user privacy. Apple can explain at length
how its technical implementation will preserve privacy and
security in its proposed backdoor, but at the end of the day,
even a thoroughly documented, carefully thought-out, and
narrowly-scoped backdoor is still a backdoor. Apple’s
compromise on end-to-end encryption may appease government
agencies in the U.S. and abroad, but it is a shocking
about-face for users who have relied on the company’s
leadership in privacy and security.
moves to protect the Tongass, North America’s largest
rainforest, from logging and road building
Conversation, August 4, 2021)
Scientists are urging the Biden administration to protect
mature US forests as a climate change strategy, starting with
the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
Carlson’s Orban Lovefest Is a Dark Glimpse of the Future
(Daily Beast, August 4, 2021)
The Fox News star broadcasts from Budapest this week,
seemingly to sell his viewers on the Hungarian strongman’s
depressingly familiar and deeply dangerous authoritarianism.
Morning Routine May Save Your Life.
(Medium, August 4,
Let’s review the potential health benefits of coffee
consumption. Recent studies point to significant inverse
associations of coffee consumption with deaths from all
causes. For most people, the available data provides some
reassurance about concerns that coffee may adversely affect
However, too much caffeine can causes problems. Symptoms
included palpitations, tremors, agitation, and stomach upset.
Less commonly, individuals had serious neurologic or heart
[Good independent analysis, plus a fine story about the
discovery of coffee.]
Your Laptop Battery Power.
(Ask Bob Rankin, August 4,
It's important to understand what drains the most power in
your laptop. In modern laptops, it’s the screen. The LCD
display consumes about 43 percent of normal operating power.
Under the hood, it’s the chips for your video, audio, math
coprocessor, etc. that eat another 22 percent combined.
Surprisingly, the CPU accounts for just 9 percent of power
consumption, while a graphics processor takes another 8
percent. The hard drive takes only 5 percent, and network
adapters consume only 4 percent. So obviously, power
conservation efforts should focus first on the display. Here's
how to tweak your settings to save the juice.
energy budget is out of balance. Here’s how it’s warming the
(The Conversation, August 4, 2021)
You probably remember your grade school science teachers
explaining that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
That’s a fundamental property of the universe.
Energy can be transformed, however. When the Sun’s rays reach
Earth, they are transformed into random motions of molecules
that you feel as heat. At the same time, Earth and the
atmosphere are sending radiation back into space. The balance
between the incoming and outgoing energy is known as Earth’s
Our climate is determined by these energy flows. When the
amount of energy coming in is more than the energy going out,
the planet warms up.
ways Americans often misunderstand Cuba, from Fidel Castro’s
rise to the Cuban American vote.
August 4, 2021)
Cuba recently erupted in the largest protests seen there in
six decades, reflecting popular anger over a crippling
economic crisis, scarce food and medicines and a half-century
of repression. Cuba remains largely an enigma to outsiders,
and especially to Americans. Myths prevail because of Cuban
government censorship and the United States’ historic tendency
– born of the Cold War – to stereotype and simplify the
announces limited, targeted eviction moratorium until early
(CNN, August 3, 2021)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday
issued a fresh stop on certain evictions Tuesday, saying that
evicting people could be detrimental to public health and
would interfere with efforts to slow the pandemic. The new
moratorium comes after President Joe Biden and his
administration allowed a previous freeze to expire, setting
off fury among members of his own party. The new ban applies
to areas of the country with high or substantial transmission
of Covid-19 and will last until October 3, according to the
delta, is it even safe to go to music festivals or outdoor
concerts? Here’s what experts say.
(Make It, August 3,
Requiring vaccination or a negative Covid test is not enough
to ensure safety. Travel (by you or by others) increases the
risk of Covid transmission and infection. Once you arrive at a
music festival from out of town, you might be staying in a
busy hotel or taking public transportation like trains and
shuttle buses to get to and from shows. All of those certainly
are places where the virus is at risk of spreading.
If you must go, the most important thing you can do to ensure
you’re safe at an outdoor concert or gathering is to get
vaccinated. Then, even though the CDC doesn’t require fully
vaccinated people to wear a mask in outdoor settings, given
the packed environment of a concert, and the fact that many
people will be screaming or cheering, it’s a good idea to mask
up in a crowd. Wear a mask for any encounter where you’re in a
small and constrained space; for example, using the portable
toilets, waiting in line for drinks or standing in a space
where people are pressed up very close next to you. What we’re
learning about this particular variant is that the viral loads
are higher initially, so the time of exposure is shorter.
Though it may not create the most exciting concert-going
experience, it’s safest to stands on the outskirts of a crowd
where you are able to maintain social distance from other
After attending a festival, it’s wise to monitor for symptoms
of Covid for 10-14 days following. Typically, surges occur two
weeks following an event. If there’s someone in your household
who you know is vulnerable, like your children or an elderly
person, you should quarantine from those people if you’ve gone
to a mega-event like a music festival.
Krugman: Lock Florida Down NOW!
(New York Times, August
We’re in a situation where making it through the next couple
of months may well mean avoiding ever catching this delta
variant of the COVID-19 virus. The implications for my
imaginary, conscience-stricken Gov. DeSantis are clear: He
should call for a brief but intense Florida lockdown that
drastically reduces the number of new cases, sparing the
hospital system from overload and buying time for vaccine
resistance to crumble and his state to achieve something like
Needless to say, actual DeSantis will do the opposite,
refusing to acknowledge the danger and doing all he can to
prevent an effective response to the Delta surge. But I hope
that my thought experiment at least has the virtue of showing
how bad his likely behavior will be. When do we get bumper
stickers saying, “DeSantis denied, people died”?
PSYCHOSIS - How an Entire Population Becomes MENTALLY ILL
(22-min. video; After Skool, August 3, 2021)
In this video we are going to explore the most dangerous of
all psychic epidemics, the mass psychosis. A mass psychosis is
an epidemic of madness and it occurs when a large portion of a
society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions.
Such a phenomenon is not a thing of fiction. Two examples of
mass psychoses are the American and European witch hunts 16th
and 17th centuries and the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th
This video will aim to answer questions surrounding mass
psychosis: What is it? How does is start? Has it happened
before? Are we experiencing one right now? And if so, how can
the stages of a mass psychosis be reversed?
Guy Punts Timeline for Trump Retaking Power as Conspiracy
Theories Get Wackier.
(The Daily Beast, August 3, 2021)
The prophecy failed in December, in January, and in March.
Twice. But now, claim conspiratorial fans of Donald Trump, the
fabled month is finally upon us. In August, some of the most
fringe voices in the ex-president’s sprawling universe of
followers and adjacent conspiracists still seem to think Trump
will be reinstated. That is, if the conspiracy theory’s author
doesn’t reschedule again.
A recent study by the Global Network on Extremism and
Technology noted, some frustrated believers might take drastic
measures in order to realize QAnon’s delusions. “The movement
is likely to survive these failures in prophecy and continue
recycling old conspiracy theories to fit new contexts,” the
GNET paper noted. “Perhaps the largest concern arising from
these failed predictions is that QAnon supporters are
beginning to feel led to take matters into their own hands
after seeing that they cannot expect political or military
leaders to implement their vision. In this case, the failed
predictions of the past may well spur some QAnon supporters to
take direct action and fuel a new, more dangerous, stage in
the development of the movement.”
Government agencies have responded with similar concern. The
Department of Homeland Security recently issued two warnings
about the risk of violence by QAnon supporters frustrated by a
failed August prophecy.
tells UN it wants vast expansion of cybercrime offenses,
plus network backdoors, online censorship.
Register, August 3, 2021)
And said entirely with a straight face, too.
New Material Converts Waste Heat Into Energy.
(SciTechDaily, August 3, 2021)
A team of scientists from Northwestern University and Seoul
National University in Korea now has demonstrated a
high-performing thermoelectric material in a practical form
that can be used in device development. The material —
purified tin selenide in polycrystalline form — outperforms
the single-crystal form in converting heat to electricity,
making it the most efficient thermoelectric system on record.
The researchers were able to achieve the high conversion rate
after identifying and removing an oxidation problem that had
degraded performance in earlier studies.
The polycrystalline tin selenide could be developed for use in
solid-state thermoelectric devices in a variety of industries,
with potentially enormous energy savings. A key application
target is capturing industrial waste heat — such as from power
plants, the automobile industry and glass- and brick-making
factories — and converting it to electricity. More than 65% of
the energy produced globally from fossil fuels is lost as
position themselves as Taliban gains momentum in
(Responsible Statecraft, August 3, 2021)
How do Russia, Pakistan, China, Iran and India view what seems
to be an inevitable Taliban rise? A regional expert weighs in.
Cox Richardson: Hungary is a democracy in name only. Fox
News likes that.
(August 2, 2021)
Orbán has been open about his determination to overthrow the
concept of western democracy, replacing it with what he has,
on different occasions, called “illiberal democracy,” or
“Christian democracy.” He wants to replace the
multiculturalism at the heart of democracy with Christian
culture, stop the immigration that he believes undermines
Hungarian culture, and reject “adaptable family models” with
“the Christian family model.”
No matter what he calls it, Orbán’s model is not democracy at
all. As soon as he retook office in 2010, he began to
establish control over the media, cracking down on those
critical of his party, Fidesz, and rewarding those who toed
the party line. In 2012, his supporters rewrote the country’s
constitution to strengthen his hand, and extreme
gerrymandering gave his party more power while changes to
election rules benefited his campaigns. Increasingly, he used
the power of the state to concentrate wealth among his
cronies, and he reworked the country’s judicial system and
civil service system to stack it with his loyalists. While
Hungary still has elections, state control of the media and
the apparatus of voting means that it is impossible for
Orbán’s opponents to take power.
[How could Trumpists NOT like that!]
will the Earth be like in 500 years?
(5-min. and 3-min.
videos; The Conversation, August 2, 2021)
Looking back at the past 500 years, the living part of the
Earth, called the biosphere, has changed dramatically. The
number of humans has increased from around 500 million people
to over 7.5 billion today. More than 800 plant and animal
species have become extinct because of human activities over
that period. As the human population grows, other species have
less space to roam. Sea level rise means even less land, and
rising temperatures will send many species migrating to better
Not all of Earth’s changes are caused by humans, but humans
have worsened some of them. A major challenge today is getting
people to stop doing things that create problems, like burning
fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. This is one
global problem that requires countries worldwide and the
people within them to work toward the same goal.
[Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages.]
expected thawing wetlands in Siberia’s permafrost. What they
found is ‘much more dangerous.’
(Washington Post, August
Scientists have long been worried about what many call “the
methane bomb” — the potentially catastrophic release of
methane from thawing wetlands in Siberia’s permafrost. But now
a study by three geologists says that a heat wave in 2020 has
revealed a surge in methane emissions “potentially in much
higher amounts” from a different source: thawing rock
formations in the Arctic permafrost. The difference is that
thawing wetlands releases “microbial” methane from the decay
of soil and organic matter, while thawing limestone — or
carbonate rock — releases hydrocarbons and gas hydrates from
reservoirs both below and within the permafrost, making it
“much more dangerous” than past studies have suggested. The
study said that gas hydrates in the Earth’s permafrost are
estimated to contain 20 gigaton of carbon, approximately four
times the amount present in atmospheric methane.
The Arctic has also delivered other sobering news. Polar
Portal, a website where Danish Arctic research institutions
present updated information about ice, said last week that a
“massive melting event” had been big enough to cover Florida
with two inches of water.
Flooding Is About to Become More Than a Nuisance.
(Wired, August 2, 2021)
Sea-level rise will soon combine with a host of other
environmental factors to produce dozens of floods each Fall in
US coastal cities, creating a nightmare for cities and
businesses. Streets will be impassable, cars will be damaged
in parking lots, and stormwater systems will be strained. In
addition, tidal flooding also fouls local waterways with
pollutants including oil, gasoline, trace metals, and
nitrogen, spawning algae blooms that create oxygen-depleted
dead zones. NASA has created a web page projecting flooding
for more than 90 coastal locations using data
from the study.
is Section 230? An expert on internet law and regulation
explains the legislation that paved the way for Facebook,
Google and Twitter.
(The Conversation, August 2, 2021)
The Communications Decency Act was the brainchild of Sen.
James Exon, Democrat of Nebraska, who wanted to remove and
prevent “filth” on the internet. Because of its overreaching
nature, much of the law was struck down on First Amendment
grounds shortly after the act’s passage. Ironically, what
remains is the provision that allowed filth and other truly
damaging content to metastasize on the internet. Platforms,
including today’s social media giants Facebook, Twitter and
Google, therefore have complete control over what information
Tyler Cohen: Trump gets rebuked twice after trying to put
his finger on the scales.
(8-min. video; YouTube, August
one-man scam Pac’: Trump’s money hustling tricks prompt
(The Guardian, August 2, 2021)
The ex-president has built an arsenal of groups staffed with
ex-officials and loyalists seemingly aimed at sustaining his
political hopes for a comeback.
“Donald Trump is a one-man scam Pac,” said Paul S Ryan,
vice-president of policy and litigation with Common Cause.
“Bait-and-switch is among his favorite fundraising tactics,”
Ryan stressed, noting that Trump’s Save America Pac told
“supporters he needed money to challenge the result of an
election he clearly lost”, and then wound up not spending any
on litigation last year. “Now he’s at it again, with frivolous
lawsuits filed [in July] against Facebook, Twitter and Google,
accompanied by fundraising appeals,” Ryan added. “This time
he’s got the unlimited dark money group America First Policy
Institute in on the racket.”
Distorting Events of Jan. 6, GOP Concocts Entire
(New York Times, August 1, 2021)
In the hours and days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,
rattled Republican lawmakers knew exactly who was to blame:
Donald Trump. Loyal allies began turning on him. Top
Republicans vowed to make a full break from his divisive
tactics and dishonesties. Some even discussed removing him
By spring, however, after nearly 200 congressional Republicans
had voted to clear Trump during a second impeachment
proceeding, the conservative fringes of the party had already
begun to rewrite history, describing the Capitol riot as a
peaceful protest and comparing the invading mob to a “normal
tourist visit,” as one congressman put it.
This past week, amid the emotional testimony of police
officers at the first hearing of a House select committee,
Republicans completed their journey through the looking-glass,
spinning a new counternarrative of that deadly day. No longer
content to absolve Trump, they concocted a version of events
in which accused rioters were patriotic political prisoners
and Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to blame for the violence.
The phenomenon is not uniquely American. “This is happening
all over the place; it is so much linked to the democratic
backsliding and rising of authoritarian movements,” said Laura
Thornton, director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at
the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “It’s about the
same sort of post-truth world. You can just repeat a lie over
and over, and because there’s so little trust, people will
$1 Trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Is In. Next Up:
Amendments And Votes.
(NPR, August 1, 2021)
The Senate is poised to begin voting on a roughly $1 trillion
bipartisan infrastructure package this week following a rare
weekend session, culminating days and weeks of wrenching
negotiations among a group of bipartisan lawmakers and
President Biden. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,
which totals 2,702 pages, is part of what Democrats say is a
two-track system to pass a bipartisan measure while also
taking up a more ambitious spending bill they're driving.
Unusual Group Trying to Turn Biden into FDR
August 1, 2021)
In a city of ambitious influencers, a shadow cabinet hopes it
can summon a new New Deal.
Speaker Pelosi And Democratic Leaders Call On Biden To
Extend Eviction Ban.
(NPR, August 1, 2021)
An estimated 3.6 billion Americans are at risk of eviction,
some as soon as tomorrow. Congress was unable to pass
legislation swiftly to extend the ban, which expired at
midnight Saturday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House
Democratic leaders on Sunday called on the Biden
administration to immediately extend the nation's eviction
moratorium through Oct. 18, calling it a "moral imperative" to
prevent Americans from being put out of their homes during a
Symptoms of the Delta Variant Differ From Traditional
COVID-19 – Here’s What To Look Out For.
August 1, 2021)
While fever and cough have always been common COVID symptoms,
and headache and sore throat have traditionally presented for
some people, a runny nose was rarely reported in earlier data.
Meanwhile, loss of smell, which was originally quite common,
now ranks ninth.
this summer? 5 things to consider now that delta is
(Make It, July 31 2021
Four days ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
changed its guidelines for fully vaccinated people, advising
that they wear masks indoors in places where there are high or
substantial rates of transmission. The counties that meet that
criteria make up about two-thirds of the U.S. population. “We
are dealing with a different virus now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci,
White House chief medical advisor, said about the delta
variant. So is it even safe to travel?
with burnout in open source
(Red Hat/Open Source, July
What it is, why you should care, and how you can help prevent
Sludge from Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant
in Washington, DC is highly contaminated with PFAS.
(Military Poisons, July 31, 2021)
Report by DC Statehood Green Party warns of the dangers of
PFAS in the city. Greens point to toxic Bloom Soil
Conditioner, a product of DC Water.
Sewer sludge is poisonous and we’re spreading it over our
gardens and farm fields. The DC Government’s toxic sludge is
spread on the city’s school gardens. The rains come and the
waters drain into the aquifer and run into surface water. Both
paths ultimately lead to human consumption. The stuff doesn’t
PFOS may be the most frightening of all varieties of PFAS
because it travels far in water and wildly bioaccumulates in
fish. Levels of PFOS above 2 ppt in rivers are believed
to be a threat to public health. People catch catfish and bass
in the Potomac just south of DC Water’s Blue Plains Advanced
Wastewater Treatment Plant. They catch it and they eat it.
What’s in the fish? Michigan tested 2,841 fish for PFAS last
year and found the average fish contained 93,000 ppt of PFAS.
Almost all of it was PFOS. The state limits PFOS in drinking
water to 16 ppt, but people can eat the fish.
Hossenfelder: Are we made of math? Is math real?
video; BackReaction, July 31, 2021)
There’s a lot of mathematics in physics, as you have
undoubtedly noticed. But what’s the difference between the
math that we use to describe nature and nature itself? Is
there any difference? Or could it be that they’re just the
same thing, that everything is math?
embarrassed': Constituents react to Boebert defying rules.
(4-min. video; CNN, July 30, 2021)
CNN's Gary Tuchman visits a county in Northwestern Colorado
where the vaccination rate is low and the Covid-19 infection
rate is high. The area is represented by Rep. Lauren Boebert
(R-CO), who is in defiance of new Covid rules on Capitol Hill.
says IRS must give Trump tax returns to Congress.
News, July 30, 2021)
During the Trump administration, then-Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin said he wouldn’t turn over the tax returns. The
committee sued for the records under a federal law that says
the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the returns of
any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers. The committee said
it needed Trump’s taxes for an investigation into whether he
complied with tax law. Trump’s Justice Department defended
Mnuchin’s refusal and Trump himself also intervened to try to
prevent the materials from being turned over to Congress.
Under a court order from January, Trump would have 72 hours to
object after the Biden administration formally changes the
government’s position in the lawsuit.
Today the Justice Department, in a reversal, said the
committee chairman “has invoked sufficient reasons for
requesting the former President’s tax information” and that
under federal law, “Treasury must furnish the information to
the Committee.” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
already has obtained copies of Trump’s personal and business
tax records as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
Trump tried to prevent his accountants from handing over the
documents, taking the issue to the Supreme Court. The justices
rejected Trump’s argument that he had broad immunity as
The issue has its roots in the 2016 presidential campaign,
when Trump claimed that he could not release his taxes due to
an IRS audit.
is the man leading the No. 1 fundraising effort in sham
Arizona election audit.
(3-min. video; CNN, July 30,
Former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, a Trump ally, has
donated $3.2 million to Cyber Ninjas, the firm conducting the
fraudulent election audit in Arizona.
urged Justice officials to declare election ‘corrupt’.
(AP News, July 30, 2021)
The notes of the Dec. 27 call, released Friday by the House
Oversight Committee, underscore the lengths to which Trump
went to try to overturn the results of the election and to
elicit the support of senior government officials in that
effort. Emails released last month show Trump and his allies
in the last weeks of his presidency pressured the Justice
Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of widespread
election fraud, forwarding them conspiracy theories and even a
draft legal brief they hoped would be filed with the Supreme
Court. The pressure is all the more notable because just weeks
earlier, Trump’s own attorney general William Barr, revealed
that the Justice Department had found no evidence of
widespread fraud that could have overturned the results.
Warships Are Courting Chaos in Conflict Zones.
July 29, 2021)
The latest weapons in the global information war are fake
vessels behaving badly.
COCONUTS Exoplanet Discovery: Giant Planet Just 35 Light
Years From Earth
(SciTechDaily, July 29, 2021)
Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets — planets
beyond our solar system — but few have been directly imaged,
because they are extremely difficult to see with existing
telescopes. A University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy
(IfA) graduate student has beaten the odds and discovered a
directly imaged exoplanet, and it’s the closest one to Earth
ever found, at a distance of only 35 light years.
Steps To Prepare For Climate Change
(Medium, July 29,
In between outrage and hopelessness is a plan. Most of
"climate action" pertains to what you can do on an individual
level to reduce your carbon footprint (e.g., recycle, use less
plastic, don’t fly, etc.). This advice isn't all bad, but it
individualizes a systemic problem.
A third of the world's carbon emissions come from just 20
companies. You should still try to recycle, especially if you
belong in a country such as the US that contributes to a
disproportionate amount of those emissions, but it's madness
to assume that consumer choices alone are going to magic this
problem away. Climate change is perpetuated by some of the
most powerful people on the planet, and stopping it will
require removing them from power.
Cox Richardson: Repubican sabotage is under increasing
(2-min. video; Letters From An American,
July 29, 2021)
Consolidating around Trump after his November loss was always
a gamble, but increasingly it looks like a precarious one.
Just this week, the former president tried to sabotage the
infrastructure deal, and 17 senators ignored him. In Texas, on
Tuesday, Trump’s ability to swing races was tested and failed
when the candidate he backed—even pumping a last-minute
$100,000 into the race—lost.
McCarthy has promised to win in 2022 with culture wars rather
than governing, and that looks like an increasingly weak bet.
But make no mistake: the ace in his vest remains the voter
suppression laws currently being enacted across the country.
Walks Back Saying Trump ‘Bears Responsibility’ For Capitol
(Forbes, July 29, 2021)
Trump is struggling to assert his grip over other parts of the
GOP, with the Senate passing a bipartisan infrastructure deal
on Wednesday despite Trump threatening primary challenges, and
his favored candidate in a U.S. House race in Texas losing to
another Republican on Tuesday. Still, McCarthy trekked to
Mar-a-Lago earlier this month to meet with Trump and enlist
his help in taking back the House in 2022.
Crucial Quote: “The President bears responsibility for
Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have
immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,”
McCarthy said in January, while opposing an impeachment
resolution against Trump for allegedly “inciting” the attack.
CDC's new guidelines: High transmission areas where you need
to wear a mask indoors
(very-red map; USA Today, July
In a renewed effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending
that fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors if they’re
in an area of substantial or high coronavirus transmission.
The CDC is also recommending universal indoor masking for all
teachers, staff, students and visitors inside schools from
kindergarten to 12th grade, regardless of vaccination status.
The updated guidance comes as a wave of cases triggered by the
highly contagious delta variant sweeps the nation. For the
first time in more than three months, cases are averaging more
than 60,000 a day. There are more than 2,000 deaths a week.
mask decision followed stunning findings from Cape Cod beach
(2-min. video; ABC News, July 29, 2021)
A group of vaccinated beachgoers changed our knowledge of the
announces measures to incentivize Covid-19 vaccinations,
including a requirement for federal employees.
July 29, 2021)
“This is an American tragedy. People are dying – and will die
– who don’t have to die. If you’re out there unvaccinated, you
don’t have to die,” Biden said during remarks at the White
House. “Read the news. You’ll see stories of unvaccinated
patients in hospitals, as they’re lying in bed dying from
Covid-19, they’re asking, ‘Doc, can I get the vaccine?’ The
doctors have to say, ‘Sorry, it’s too late.’” In his sternest
approach yet to pushing Americans to get vaccinated, the
President bluntly argued that if you are unvaccinated, “You
present a problem to yourself, to your family and to those
with whom you work.”
war has changed’: Internal CDC document urges new messaging,
warns delta infections likely more severe.
Post, July 29, 2021)
The internal presentation captures the struggle of the
nation’s top public health agency to persuade the public to
embrace vaccination and prevention measures, including
mask-wearing, as cases surge across the United States and new
research suggests vaccinated people can spread the virus - the
COVID-19 delta variant is so contagious that it acts almost
like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target
more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.
Vaccinated people can carry as much virus as others.
News, July 29, 2021)
In another dispiriting setback for the nation’s efforts to
stamp out the coronavirus, scientists who studied a big
COVID-19 outbreak in Massachusetts concluded that vaccinated
people who got so-called breakthrough infections carried about
the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get
the shots. Health officials on Friday released details of that
research, which was key in this week’s decision by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that
vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of
the U.S. where the delta variant is fueling infection surges.
The authors said the findings suggest that the CDC’s mask
guidance should be expanded to include the entire country,
even outside of hot spots. The findings have the potential to
upend past thinking about how the disease is spread.
Previously, vaccinated people who got infected were thought to
have low levels of virus and to be unlikely to pass it to
others. But the new data shows that is not the case with the
The outbreak in Provincetown — a seaside tourist spot on Cape
Cod in the county with Massachusetts’ highest vaccination rate
— has so far included more than 900 cases. About
three-quarters of them were people who were fully vaccinated.
Like many states, Massachusetts lifted all COVID-19
restrictions in late May, ahead of the traditional Memorial
Day start of the summer season. Provincetown this week
reinstated an indoor mask requirement for everyone.
The delta variant, first detected in India, causes infections
that are more contagious than the common cold, flu, smallpox
and the Ebola virus, and it is as infectious as chickenpox,
according to the documents, which mentioned the Provincetown
Associated With Long-Term Cognitive Dysfunction,
Acceleration of Alzheimer’s Symptoms.
July 29, 2021)
In addition to the respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms
that accompany COVID-19, many people with the virus experience
short- and/or long-term neuropsychiatric symptoms, including
loss of smell and taste, and cognitive and attention deficits,
known as “brain fog.” For some, these neurological symptoms
persist, and researchers are working to understand the
mechanisms by which this brain dysfunction occurs, and what
that means for cognitive health long term.
Are the Five Major Regions Literally on Fire Right Now.
(7 images; Gizmodo, July 29, 2021)
A shocking amount of wildfires are burning around the northern
hemisphere as the summer from hell rages on.
experts not overly alarmed by mysterious songbird sickness.
(Ithaca Times, July 28, 2021)
Crusty eyes, seizures, and paralysis are among some of the
strange symptoms that have recently plagued and even killed
some songbirds in several eastern states - but NOT in New York
or New England.
In just the past few weeks, the Wildlife Lab has received
widespread news of declining cases and dropping mortality
rates. That would not be typical of an infectious disease
outbreak. You wouldn't expect an infectious disease to just
spontaneously go away. This sudden decline lends support to
the tentative hypothesis regarding a cause of the outbreak.
The most recent working theory is that the outbreak is related
to the emergence of the cicadas this 17th year — the
geographic distribution and the timing of the undetermined
songbird illness directly coincides with the arrival of the
cicadas. The cicadas emerged in Washington, DC and eleven
other states: Delaware, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New
Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida,
and Kentucky in mid May. Birds in these states started showing
the unusual symptoms about a week later. That is an exact
replica of the cicada map.
Researchers such as Bunton believe that the ingestion of the
cicadas could have had toxic effects on the birds. It is
possible that individuals sprayed the cicadas with pesticides,
which have chemicals that affect the brains of birds and could
have caused the neurological symptoms. Cicadas also carry
fungi that can produce toxins when ingested which could have
also produced the illness in the birds. The decline in cases
corresponds with the retreat of the cicadas. Although
researchers will continue to monitor the situation, Bunton
expressed that the outbreak should not be a cause of alarm.
The diminishing outbreak does not pose any safety threats to
humans, nor does it threaten the stability of the various
["Good!", say our local birds. "You can go back to feeding us,
that’s mine!": Naked man’s wild boar chase immortalised in
(The Guardian, July 28, 2021)
Photographer unhappy about model railway version of viral
picture she took at Berlin lakeside.
[Also, see the original story on August 7, 2020 (below).]
890-Million-Year-Old Fossils May Be Earliest Known Animal
(Vice, July 28, 2021)
The stunning discovery could push the history of animal life
back by hundreds of millions of years.
(Washington Post, July 28, 2021)
Deadly heat waves have swept the globe and will continue to
because of climate change. The trends are prompting doomsday
questions: Will parts of the world soon become too hot to live
in? How will we survive?
energy data shows solar and wind rising as 'King Coal'
continues an epic crash.
(Daily Kos, July 28, 2021)
The evidence of the climate crisis is written in fire, flood,
drought, and destruction. The numbers grow worse every year.
And the plans that hold sufficient scope to address the
problem—whether President Biden’s plan or the Green New
Deal—never seem to get much closer.
However, today we’re looking at something genuinely
remarkable: We’re looking at a single chart that shows just
how hopeless things aren’t. It’s a chart that shows how things
can change faster than you might believe. How they already
changed faster than anyone—including all the “industry
experts”—would have believed. A single chart that records just
how amazing the last two decades have been in spite of fossil
fuel companies pushing back hard and Republicans feeding a
disinformation campaign far larger than the one surrounding
regulator slams DeJoy's plan for a more expensive, less
efficient postal service.
(Daily Kos, July 28, 2021)
DeJoy has allies on the board of governors—including four
Trump Republicans and Ron Bloom, a Trump-appointed
Democrat—which is why he's still there despite the fact that
he tried to destroy the institution. But he's now gained a
powerful opponent: the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).
That's an independent agency that is responsible for oversight
of USPS, including oversight of rates and services, and
ensuring the Postal Service meets all of its legal
"The Commission finds that the [Postal Service] relies upon
assumptions that may not be well founded and it may be unable
to achieve successful implementation where reliability and
efficiency are required," the PRC said in its advisory
opinion. Unfortunately, this opinion in and of itself won't
stop DeJoy from moving forward with the plan—that's going to
have to come from the board. Which is going to make next
week's meeting quite interesting.
data shows vaccine protection remains robust six months
after vaccination even as the company argues that boosters
will be needed.
(4-min. video; Washington Post, July 28,
Yesterday's Pfizer paper, which has not yet undergone peer
review, showed a slight drop in efficacy against any
symptomatic cases of covid-19, the illness caused by the novel
coronavirus, from 96 percent protection in the first two
months after vaccination to 84 percent after four months.
Company officials also presented data on a third dose at least
six months after full vaccination, showing that it caused
antibody numbers to soar, including disease fighters capable
of neutralizing the delta variant. They said that they planned
to seek authorization for a booster by mid-August, reiterating
the company’s belief that a third dose would be needed to
enhance immunity within a year of vaccination.
Hours later, Israeli health officials moved toward making
boosters available for older residents. The Israeli officials
said protection against serious illness for those older than
60 who were vaccinated in January dropped from 97 percent to
about 81 percent. For those older than 60 vaccinated in March,
it fell to about 84 percent. They said efficacy remained at 93
percent for people ages 40 to 59 years.
Throwing, Tweeting: The Day Masks Returned to Congress
(Daily Beast, July 28, 2021)
Hours into the return of a face mask requirement in the House
of Representatives on Wednesday, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)
threw a mask at a Democratic staffer, a Democrat and a
Republican got in several shouting matches about the
Republican’s vaccination status off the House floor, and the
Speaker of the House called her GOP counterpart a “moron” for
criticizing the mask guidance. And that was all before lunch.
(Letters From An American, July
Today, negotiators hammered out a deal on a bipartisan bill,
which includes $550 billion in new spending. The bill is not
fully hammered out yet, and the Congressional Budget Office,
which examines bills to see how much they will cost, has not
yet produced a final number, but it appears that the bill will
cost about $1.2 trillion over 8 years. Republicans demanded
that funds to increase funding for the IRS to enable it to
crack down on tax cheats, who cost the United States about $1
trillion a year, be stripped from the bill.
The bill would create about 2 million “good-paying” jobs a
year for the next decade. It provides $110 billion for roads
and bridges, $39 billion for public transit, $66 billion for
passenger rail, $73 billion to upgrade the electrical grid;
$7.5 billion for electrical vehicle chargers on highway
corridors, $17 billion for rebuilding our ports, $50 billion
for addressing climate change and cybersecurity, and $55
billion for clean drinking water. The bill also calls for $65
billion to expand broadband internet, tying all Americans into
the same grid and lowering prices.
A new study reports that Federal stimulus checks alone raised
12.4 million people out of poverty. Taken all together, recent
antipoverty measures reduced child poverty from 30.1% to 5.6%.
For all that other issues are getting more dramatic headlines,
the infrastructure bill marks a sea change from the past forty
years of slashing government investment and regulation to the
more traditional vision of a government that promotes the
general welfare. The latter vision was behind the Rural
Electrification Act that, more than eighty years later, still
shapes the national economy. Getting today’s Republicans to
sign onto such a measure would be momentous indeed.
Good, Now There's an Outbreak of Wildfire Thunderclouds.
(Wired, July 27, 2021)
Huge pyrocumulonimbus clouds just formed over fires in the
West. Here’s why they could become more common on a warmer
science is worrisome': CDC recommends wearing masks indoors,
again. What that means for vaccinated Americans
video; USA Today, July 27, 2021)
The CDC's decision Tuesday to reverse course and urge even
fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in areas of
high coronavirus transmission isn't likely to crush community
spread, experts say – but it might ratchet up pressure on the
unvaccinated and encourage businesses and schools to implement
mask mandates. The CDC is also now recommending universal
indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors
inside schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, regardless of
vaccination status. That aligns closely with guidelines from
the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommended this
month that anyone older than 2 be required to wear a mask in
school. The CDC and the AAP are still urging that children
return to full-time in-person learning in the fall.
"The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to
outsmart us and be an opportunist," CDC director Dr. Rochelle
Walensky said in a briefing Tuesday. "In rare occasions, some
vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after
vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others.
... This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants
an update to our recommendations."
6, 2021: The Wrenching Truth
(New York Daily News, July
What was so powerful about the testimony on 7.27.2021,
by four Capitol officers, all of whom described their
immense love of country, was how obviously heartbroken and
angry they were to be betrayed in this way, and by the very
Americans they vowed to protect, from the mob, to members of
Congress, to the president. As anyone who lived through it can
tell you, the scars of 9/11 do not fade with time. Twenty
years later, I’m (S.E. Cupp) still angry and heartbroken over
what happened that day, changed forever by what I saw. When I
close my eyes and imagine the New York City skyline I called
my home, I still see the twin towers. I still can’t
believe it was real.
Unlike 9/11, which I watched from the streets of New York, I
watched the horrific events of Jan. 6, 2021, on television, in
real-time. It was shocking and sickening then, but
today, listening to four members of U.S. law enforcement
describe first-hand what happened on that day, I still can’t
believe it was real. And that, unlike 9/11, Americans did this
But not only was it very real, it was, inexplicably, even
worse than we knew. It was hard to watch and listen to. Here
were four uniformed heroes, choking back tears, explaining in
graphic and emotional detail what they went through as they
confronted a mob of violent insurrectionists hell-bent on
harming them and the people in the building they were
defending. They spoke of screaming for help. They spoke of
preparing to die, to never see their children again.
They spoke of dealing with the long-lasting medical and
psychological effects of the violence. They compared what they
had seen fighting in actual wars, and, unimaginably, found
what happened at the Capitol was worse.
Officer Harry Dunn described it as “the saddest day” he’s ever
experienced, of being called an N-word more than once,
something that had never happened to him while wearing a
Officer Michael Fanone described the moment he thought he
might be killed by insurrectionists: “I appealed to any
humanity they had. I said as loud as I could manage, ‘I’ve got
Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, emotional and angry, described the
“audacity” of insurrectionists saying that he, “an Army
veteran and police officer, should be executed.”
Officer Daniel Hodges described the harrowing moment a rioter
told him, “You will die on your knees.”
They described in every detail the motives and demands of the
people who attacked them that day: the Trump and Gadsden
(”Don’t Tread On Me”) flags; the right-wing, white pride and
Christian insignia; the pro-Trump chants; the unambiguous
calls for Trump’s reinstatement. As Gonell testified, rioters
yelled, “Trump sent us. Pick the right side. We want Trump.”
As if going through all of that trauma, wrought upon them by
American citizens, and at the very Citadel of American
democracy, wasn’t bad enough, they each described the final
indignity: being told by certain members of Congress that what
they experienced wasn’t real, wasn’t that bad; that the people
who tried to kill them that day were just “tourists,” or
Democrats; that they were the ones who were traitors. “I went
to hell and back to protect the people in this room,” said a
visibly angered Fanone. “But too many people are telling
me that hell doesn’t exist, or hell isn’t that bad.”
When asked by Rep. Liz Cheney, one of only two Republicans
seated on the panel, what he thought when he heard former
President Trump describe the insurrectionists as “loving,”
Gonell was pointed: “It was upsetting, and a pathetic excuse
for his behavior for something that he himself helped to
What was so powerful about the testimony of these four
officers, all of whom described their immense love of country,
was how obviously heartbroken and angry they were to be
betrayed in this way, and by the very Americans they vowed to
protect, from the mob, to members of Congress, to the
[And that's the version from the Right-leaning NY Daily News!]
the DOJ Letters: No “Executive Privilege” for Trump-Era
Witnesses on 2020 Election Machinations.
July 27, 2021)
These facts paint a picture that, to the department, President
Trump was acting as a candidate for reelection — his “personal
political interests” — rather than the head of government.
This determination by the Department of Justice will have a
number of effects, ranging from the immediate to the long
justices retire by their 80s. Some liberals don’t. Why not?
(New York Times, July 27, 2021)
There is no one explanation for the pattern. It involves so
few people that it may partly be a coincidence. Whatever the
reasons, though, it has huge consequences for the country.
eBay Employee Sentenced for Role in Aggressive Cyberstalking
(eCommerce Bytes, July 27, 2021) Ina Steiner
The following is a press release published by the Department
of Justice US Attorney’s Office for the District of
Massachusetts: A former supervisor of security operations for
eBay was sentenced today for his role in a cyberstalking
campaign targeting a Natick, Mass. couple who published a
newsletter that eBay executives viewed as critical of the
[As reported by the wife of that couple, Ina Steiner.]
for control threatens to destabilize and fragment the
(The Conversation, July 26, 2021)
You try to use your credit card, but it doesn’t work. In fact,
no one’s credit card works. You try to go to some news sites
to find out why, but you can’t access any of those, either.
Neither can anyone else. Panic-buying ensues. People empty
ATMs of cash.
This kind of catastrophic pan-internet meltdown is more likely
than most people realize. The US is wrestling with the rest of
the world for control of the internet. The ‘net as we know it
could be a victim of the struggle.
aren’t going to save America.
(Vox, July 26, 2021)
The cynical view of companies acting as a benevolent force in
the world is that they’ll only do so to the extent that it
somehow benefits their bottom line or is good marketing. That
cynical view is sometimes borne out in reality.
Take the example of the internet. The government has given
private companies billions of dollars to try to expand
broadband internet access across the United States and often
relied on going through telecom companies to expand urban and
rural broadband alike. But some companies have taken the
public cash without fulfilling their end of the bargain, or
used public financial support to further their private
financial interests. Still, millions of Americans don’t have
fast, reliable internet because it’s just not lucrative for
telecommunications companies to get it to them. Americans who
live in remote or low-income areas won’t generate a return on
And yet, we keep looking to private companies to help fix
America’s broadband problem because the government isn’t there
to do it. The government doesn’t think about the internet the
way it does, say, electricity — as in something everyone
should have. It’s hardly the only example of the public sector
ceding territory or leaving to the private sector tasks
reasonable minds might think it should take on.
Health Care Giant Sold Off Dozens Of Hospitals — But
Continued Suing Many Patients.
(NPR, July 26, 2021)
Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon sued more than 1,000 patients
including Cantwell over the past two years across multiple
counties after striking a deal to be sold. And hundreds of
those suits were filed during the pandemic at a time when many
companies have been backing away from taking patients to court
over unpaid medical debt. The state of New York even banned
Community Health Systems, the prior owner of Tennova, is on
the tail end of a corporate downsizing that shrank the company
from more than 200 hospitals down to 84. The sell-off helped
stabilize the company after taking on massive debt during a
period of rapid growth that briefly gave Community Health
Systems more hospitals than any other chain in the country.
But now many of those institutions are like zombie hospitals —
little more than a legal entity still taking patients to court
even after being sold to new owners that don't sue over
Aside from a hospital fire sale, Community Health Systems also
aggressively went after patients. And the company didn't let
the pandemic slow that plan, even though it received more than
$700 million from the federal government in its own COVID-19
relief money. A spokesperson for HCA Healthcare, the largest
for-profit hospital chain in the country, says its hospitals
do not sue patients over unpaid medical debt — during the
pandemic or otherwise. The Nashville-based corporation also
returned all of its COVID relief funding. An investigation by
CNN found Community Health Systems sued at least 19,000
patients during the pandemic, though the number is likely an
undercount given the lawsuits filed on behalf of its former
"Community Health Systems, in all of our research of hospital
pricing and billing practices, stands out as an aggressive
institution that uniformly, across the country, engages in
very aggressive predatory billing — suing patients in court to
garnish their wages," Makary says. Even if Community Health
Systems is willing to take a hit to its reputation, he says
patients think of the health system as a whole. And they'll
think twice next time they need to go to the doctor. "It
threatens the public trust in our community institutions. And
medical institutions are supposed to be above those games," he
could cause male infertility and sexual dysfunction – but
vaccines do not.
(The Conversation, July 26, 2021)
Contrary to myths circulating on social media, COVID-19
vaccines do not cause erectile dysfunction and male
What is true: SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,
poses a risk for both disorders. Until now, little research
has been done on how the virus or the vaccines affect the male
reproductive system. But recent investigations by physicians
and researchers have discovered potentially far-reaching
implications for men of all ages – including younger and
middle-aged men who want to have children.
Might Sync As People Interact — and That Could Upend
(Discover Magazine, July 26,
When we cooperate on certain tasks, our brainwaves might
synchronize. This finding could up-end the current
understanding of consciousness.
Cox Richardson: Demand for Republican loyalty is playing out
as the January 6 committee gets down to business.
(Letters From An American, July 26, 2021)
As the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th
Attack on the United States Capitol starts its work, former
president Trump and his supporters are consolidating their
power over the Republican Party. Through it, they hope to
control the nation.
The term “RINO” comes from the 1990s, when the Movement
Conservatives taking over the Republican Party used it to
discredit traditional Republicans as “Republicans In Name
Only.” It reversed reality—the Movement Conservatives were the
RINOs, not the other way around—but it worked. Movement
Conservatives, who wanted to get rid of the New Deal and take
the government back to the 1920s, pushed aside traditional
Republicans who agreed with Democrats that the government
should regulate business, provide a basic social safety net,
and promote infrastructure.
Now, former president Donald Trump is doing the same thing:
claiming that the Movement Conservatives who now dominate the
leadership of the Republican Party are not really Republicans.
True Republicans, he says, are those loyal only to him. One of
the hallmarks of a personality like that of Donald Trump is
that he cannot stop escalating. It’s not that he won’t stop;
it’s that he can’t stop. And he will escalate until someone
finally draws a line and holds it.
brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing.
Hill, July 26, 2021)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) ripped the two
defectors on Monday, characterizing them as “Pelosi
Republicans” — a disparaging reference, in the eyes of
conservatives, given the GOP’s historic disdain for the
long-serving Democratic leader.
Both Cheney and Kinzinger, who huddled with Democratic members
of the Jan. 6 panel on Monday, shot back at McCarthy, calling
his remarks “childish,” if not unexpected. “We’re doing big
things right now. We’re getting to the answers of the worst
attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812. He can call me
any names he wants,” Kinzinger, a veteran of the Iraq and
Afghanistan wars, told reporters as he emerged from the
strategy session. “I’m a Republican dedicated to conservative
values, but I swore an oath to uphold and defend the
Constitution — and while this is not the position I expected
to be in or sought out, when duty calls, I will always
answer,” Kinzinger said in a statement on Sunday.
Cheney said last week that Tuesday's hearing is "going to be
an opportunity for the country to hear from some of the very
brave people who defended the Capitol on that day, to hear
their experiences directly, to put some facts on the table" by
having people hear directly from police officers who were on
duty at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
NEW: The Pandemic
of the Unvaccinated? No! It’s the Pandemic of the Fox News
(News Corpse, July 25, 2021)
The data is clear that the increased viral activity is a
preventable phenomenon that the CDC Director, Rochelle
Walensky, has tagged as “the pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Drilling deeper into the data reveals that the new COVID-19
hot zones are predominantly located in red states or
However, even that doesn’t tell the whole story. The
vaccine-averse are digging in even as the Delta variant, the
most contagious yet, has become dominant. Fox News viewers are
significantly trailing viewers of other media in getting
vaccinated. The percentage of Fox News viewers that have been
vaccinated is 21 points lower than viewers of CNN or MSNBC,
and 17 points lower than those who get their news from the
broadcast networks. While that is a troubling set of
statistics, it isn’t especially surprising. After all, Fox
News has been telling their audience for months that COVID is
either a hoax or a flu. Even worse, Fox has warned that the
vaccines have dangerous, even deadly side effects, or that
they contain microchips or are otherwise key to a clandestine
plot to control the population.
This leads to the conclusion that a “pandemic of the
unvaccinated” is not the best description of our current state
of affairs. This is more accurately described as a “pandemic
of the Fox News infected.” Whether or not someone watches Fox
News may be the best indicator of their vaccination status, or
their likelihood of getting vaccinated in the future.
Consequently, for the safety of everyone else, it might be
best to avoid any contact with Fox News viewers. They are the
ones most likely to be infected and transmitting the virus.
Stay safe, America.
GOP Lawmaker Booed Off Stage at Trump 'Protect Our
(Newsweek, July 25, 2021)
Arizona State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Republican, was
immediately met with a chorus of loud boos after taking the
stage at a "Protect Our Elections" rally hosted by Turning
Point Action in Phoenix on Saturday. "Why don't you listen to
what I have to say?" Ugenti-Rita, who is running for Arizona
secretary of state, asked the crowd after several failed
attempts to get her speech going.
Brahm Resnik, a reporter for KPNX, tweeted that the hostile
reception Ugenti-Rita received may have been because she
"opposed GOP lawmaker's wish list for election changes. FYI
Trump base crowd was primed to boo @MichelleUgenti. Wasn't
anything she said. Boos rained all over room from start till
she bailed out."
Ugenti-Rita, who chairs the Arizona Senate Government
Committee, took to Twitter late Saturday to explain why she
killed the recent election bill. "I'll put my record of
fighting for election integrity up against anyone," she
tweeted. "What I won't do is vote for 'show' legislation that
does nothing to strengthen election integrity and introduced
for self serving reasons. There's too much at stake."
Cox Richardson: Republicans split as Trump supporters grow
(Letters From An American, July 25, 2021)
There is a larger story behind this transportation bill than
the attempt of Republicans to change a longstanding formula to
keep themselves in power. Republicans who are not openly tying
themselves to the former president want to pass this measure
because they know it is popular and they do not want Democrats
to pass another popular law alone, as they did with the
American Rescue Plan when Republicans refused to participate.
Democratic leadership wants to work with those Republicans to
pass a bipartisan bill because it will help to drive a wedge
though the Republican Party, offering an exit ramp for those
who would like to leave behind the increasing extremism of the
Trump Republicans are, indeed, becoming more extreme as the
House’s select committee on January 6 takes shape.
Silences: Maybe It's Time to Stop Avoiding Them and Start
(Discover Magazine, July 24, 2021)
Resist the urge to keep on talking: Some silence is not only
good for conversations — it's good for you, too.
Human Lifespans: Using Artificial Intelligence To Find
Anti-Aging Chemical Compounds
(SciTechDaily, July 24,
a team of chemists from Surrey built a machine learning model
based on the information from the DrugAge database to predict
whether a compound can extend the life of Caenorhabditis
elegans - a translucent worm that shares a similar metabolism
to humans. The worm’s shorter lifespan gave the researchers
the opportunity to see the impact of the chemical compounds.
The AI singled out three compounds that have an 80 percent
chance of increasing the lifespan of elegans:
- Flavonoids (anti-oxidant pigments found in plants that
promote cardiovascular health),
- Fatty acids (such as omega 3)
- Organooxygens (compounds that contain carbon to oxygen
bonds, such as alcohol).
A co-author of the study said: “Ageing is increasingly being
recognized as a set of diseases in modern medicine, and we can
apply the tools of the digital world, such as AI, to help slow
down or protect against aging and age-related diseases. Our
study demonstrates the revolutionary ability of AI to aid the
identification of compounds with anti-aging properties.”
Has to Play Hardball with Internet Platforms.
July 24, 2021)
The president needs to prioritize Americans' well-being over
Big Tech's whims to begin a path to restoring democracy,
privacy, and competition.
Says GOP Lost Senate After His ‘Rigged’ Election Gripes
(Huffington Post, July 24, 2021)
“Republicans said, ‘We’re not going to vote, because this
[presidential] election was rigged,’” Trump explained. Dems
then won twin Senate seats in Georgia.
Post: Former Trump Supporter Tells The Rest Of Us To Stop
Insulting Trump Voters.
(Daily Kos, July 23, 2021)
When someone makes thousands of demonstrably false or
misleading statements, it is beyond stupidity to argue that
the person is not a liar. In fact, the Media not saying
that Trump is a pathological liar led to the rise of Trump and
his continuing attempt to overthrow our democracy.
Unchecked lies lead to more lies. And Trump’s lies were
America has a debt ceiling: 5 questions answered.
Conversation, July 23, 2021)
Sen. Mitch McConnell said Republicans won't vote for an
increase in the debt ceiling, which would risk a US default.
An economist explains why it's time to get rid of the debt
limit once and for all.
Kaseya Ransomware Nightmare Is Almost Over.
Wardrobe, July 23, 2021)
On July 2nd, a ransomware attack against a little-known IT
software company called Kaseya spiraled into a full-on
epidemic, with hackers seizing the computers as many as 1,500
businesses, including a major Swedish grocery chain. Last
week, the notorious group behind the hack disappeared from the
internet, leaving victims with no way to pay up and free their
systems. But now the situation seemed close to finally being
resolved, thanks to the surprise appearance on Thursday of a
universal decryption tool.
Human Lifespans: Using Artificial Intelligence To Find
Anti-Aging Chemical Compounds
(SciTechDaily, July 23,
In a paper published by Nature Communication’s Scientific
Reports, a team of chemists from Surrey built a machine
learning model based on the information from the DrugAge
database to predict whether a compound can extend the life of
Caenorhabditis elegans — a translucent worm that shares a
similar metabolism to humans. The worm’s shorter lifespan gave
the researchers the opportunity to see the impact of the
chemical compounds. The AI singled out three compounds that
have an 80 percent chance of increasing the lifespan of
- flavonoids (anti-oxidant pigments found in plants that
promote cardiovascular health),
- fatty acids (such as omega 3), and
- organooxygens (compounds that contain carbon to oxygen
bonds, such as alcohol).
"In modern medicine, ageing is increasingly being recognized
as a set of diseases. We can apply the tools of the digital
world, such as AI, to help slow down or protect against aging
and age-related diseases.
Solar Cell Innovation Provides 1,000 Times More Power.
(Interesting Engineering, July 22, 2021)
Endless energy? It might be possible with solar panels made
from ferroelectric crystals instead of silicon.
Bhatnagar and his team embedded barium titanate between
strontium titanate and calcium titanate by vaporizing the
crystals with a high-power laser and redepositing them on
carrier substrates. The resulting material was composed of 500
layers and was 200 nanometers thick. The researchers found
that their layered material enabled a current flow 1,000 times
stronger than measured in pure barium titanate of the
"The interaction between the lattice layers appears to lead to
a much higher permittivity - in other words, the electrons are
able to flow much more easily due to the excitation by the
light photons," Bhatnagar explained. The team also showed that
the measurements remained almost constant over a six-month
period, meaning the material may be robust enough for
commercial application. Next, they will continue to research
the exact cause of the photoelectric effect in their layered
material, with a view to eventual deployment at a mass scale.
Their work promises to be part of a potential revolution
in ferroelectric materials
, with possible applications
in computer memory, capacitors, and other electronic devices.
whirlwind tour of Natick’s highest profile chain link fences
(Natick Report, July 22, 2021)
[Including some ugly ones along the Cochituate Rail Trail.]
Florida cases surge, Gov. DeSantis stays the course on
(CNN, July 22, 2021)
Florida is averaging 6,492 cases per day, a figure that has
nearly doubled in one week and quadrupled in a month. By this
measure, Florida tops California, with a current daily average
of 4,806 cases, and Texas, with a current daily average of
4,802. Between July 15 and July 21, Florida has 45,449 new
cases of coronavirus, by far the most in the country.
“We have a governor who has not taken Covid seriously from the
very beginning. You know, he is essentially right now treating
it like a joke. He’s got campaign merchandise on his website
saying ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida.’ And we’ve had nearly 40,000
Floridians die of Covid,” says Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman
Schultz. “And look, I would rather see us ‘Fauci our Florida’
than have people go through 'Death by DeSantis'.”
(Some) Republicans Are All In on the Vaccine.
Yorker, July 22, 2021)
The one crisis that Republicans have tended not to mention is
the actual one—that is, the pandemic. When Republican
politicians have focussed on COVID in recent months, it’s
often been to give Donald Trump credit for the vaccines, while
simultaneously accusing the Biden Administration of forcing
those same vaccines on unwilling Americans.
So it was more than a bit surprising to see some Republicans
this week kinda, sorta, maybe embrace a different message. The
new G.O.P. politics of the pandemic follow the grim new math
of the coronavirus for Red America.
are discovering that they've done too good a job in
separating their base from reality.
(Daily Kos, July 22,
The idea that the right can be motivated by driving a wedge
between them and scientific or medical experts isn’t new.
There is an unbroken bridge from the John Birch Society
shouting about fluoride in the water as a Communist plot to
QAnon supporters looking for the tunnels connecting pizza
parlors and Hollow Earth. Whole generations of Republicans
have been raised in a proud anti-learning tradition, one that
is bolstered by an even longer history of fostering racist and
antisemitic conspiracy theories.
For decades, Republicans have favored the mushroom philosophy:
keep their base in the dark and feed them bullshit. But with
the coming of Trump, the brain blender dial got turned up to
“puree". The guy who “loves the poorly educated”
rediscovered the Goebbels principle: Big lies are better. “If
you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will
eventually come to believe it.” That principle turns out to be
so effective that the right has even used it to spread lies
about the COVID-19 vaccine by attributing fake quotes to
What Republicans built in their anti-reason agenda wasn’t so
much a slope as the pathway to the top of a cliff.
Of course, none of this means that the Republican Party is
doomed to fade away. Republicans have made a blatant and so
far successful effort to cripple the election system in
America. They’ve demonstrated that they can turn out record
numbers in support of an agenda that left a million people
dead. And they’ve turned mumble-mumble racism into an overt,
out-and-proud bigotry that has touched the hearts of millions
of America’s most downtrodden: middle-class white people.
But there is a conundrum. When you’ve taught your base to
believe nothing but the crankiest of crank conspiracies, how
do you get them to listen when you need them?
In the last week, Republicans have noticed that the up = down
machine has put them in a position where 90% of the people
dying from COVID-19 are their people. That’s because 90% of
Democrats are already vaccinated and 99.5% of those dying are
unvaccinated. Who are those unvaccinated? Oh, right, the
Republican base that’s been taught scientists, doctors, and
experts can’t be trusted. And now that top Republicans are
changing their tune, their base is turning on them.
“pivotal point” in the pandemic
(New York Times, July
The director of the C.D.C., Dr. Rochelle Walensky, issued a
blunt new warning about the virus today, calling the Delta
variant “one of the most infectious respiratory viruses” known
to scientists, and
said that the U.S. was at “another pivotal point” in the
The dramatic shift in tone comes as the country is
experiencing a U-turn in virus statistics. Since the beginning
of the month, the number of new cases in the U.S. has shot up
171 percent. The virus is also claiming around 250 lives each
day, 42 percent higher than just two weeks ago. The public
health crisis is particularly acute in parts of the country
where vaccination rates are the lowest. In Louisiana,
Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, the number of new cases
detected each day is up more than 200 percent in the past two
weeks, driving new hospitalizations and deaths almost
exclusively among the unvaccinated. Intensive care units are
filled or filling in southern Missouri, parts of Kansas and
The startling statistics are forcing both political parties to
grapple with the new reality. Representative Steve Scalise of
Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, got his first shot last
weekend. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said the vaccines were
“saving lives.” The Fox News host Sean Hannity declared on his
show: “I believe in the science of vaccinations.” But when
House Republican leaders gathered Thursday for a news
conference ostensibly to urge Americans to get vaccinated,
they only grudgingly signaled mixed support for vaccinations
after being pressed by reporters.
news stories drop about COVID-19 pandemic deniers and
anti-vaxxers ranting defiantly from ICU beds, let's review
what fraud research suggests about the responsibility we
should attribute to them for their condition and for the
messages they send.
(Twitter via Threadreader, July 22,
One of the recurrent problems in US popular discourse on the
proper response to crises is that it's often assumed there are
only two options:
1. Crack down hard, damn the consequences (usually associated
with the Right Wing).
2. "Just be kind; kindness is everything😊🌈❤️" (usually
associated with the Left Wing).
Both approaches have become almost completely divorced from
the American pragmatic tradition, which would lead us to ask:
what do we want to accomplish, and what will actually work?
Those are important questions when millions of lives are at
Clearly, Americans *can* be rational problem-solvers when it
comes to some situations that require weighing the claims of
personal liberty vs collective survival. No one (that I know
of) argues that we should address the problem of drunk driving
with kindness - or with executions.
[This crudely-edited article on applying fraud research to
coronavirus deniers is so potentially useful that we encourage
you to read it anyway. Thank you, This Is True
Just ‘Looked’ Inside Mars. Here’s What They Found.
(Wired, July 22, 2021)
InSight and Perseverance have sent back unprecedented data on
everything from marsquakes to the Red Planet’s inner layers.
climate change reversible?
(The Week, July 22, 2021)
US climate envoy John Kerry said during a landmark speech at
London's Kew Gardens this week that 2021 will be “a decisive
year” for environmental issues. The 2021 United Nations
Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow in
November will be “a pivotal moment for the world to come
together to meet and master the climate challenge”, Kerry
said. “In little more than 100 days, we can save the next 100
Seattle and America’s other least air-conditioned cities,
brutal heat changes some people’s minds.
Post, July 22, 2021)
In his lab, Shandas studies what pushes people to their
tipping point – what makes them go to a cooling center or,
like him, give up on lifelong antagonism to AC and buy a unit.
How people in the Pacific Northwest – and everywhere – choose
their individual responses to extreme weather will play a
vital role in determining the global approach to the changing
climate, Shandas said. “Many people get past a week like we
had and say, ‘Phew, we’re through that, let’s hope another one
doesn’t come,’ ” he said, “but others say, ‘This is a wake-up
call to get serious.’ We’re trying to learn what leads people
to each conclusion.”
of dangerous wildfire smoke lifts from northeastern cities.
(2-min. video; AccuWeather, July 22, 2021)
Burning throat or difficulty breathing this week? Smoke and
ash traveled 1,000 miles toward the northeastern United States
as the result of large wildfires burning in Canada this week.
The conditions forced air quality advisories to be issued in
Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City and
Washington, D.C., where the smoke caused health problems.
However, a cold front that passed through the region Wednesday
helped to clear the atmosphere.
wildfire smoke toxins could you be inhaling?
video; AccuWeather, July 21, 2021)
Have you ever wondered what you're breathing into your lungs
if you inhaled wildfire smoke? It’s not just the smoke that
can drastically impact your health.
Oregon's Bootleg Fire is generating its own weather
(Accuweather, July 21, 2021)
Having already devoured a span of acres that could swallow Los
Angeles, the Bootleg Fire is now generating its own weather.
Since the flames took hold on July 6 in southern Oregon, the
blaze has scorched over 395,000 acres and is only 32%
contained, according to InciWeb. Lightning was determined to
have ignited the blaze, and after two weeks of feeding off of
the parched landscape wrought by an intense heat wave and
months of drought, it has become the largest wildfire to burn
in the West this year.
[Pyrocumulus clouds with lightning!]
China inundated with a year's worth of rain in just 4 days.
(1-mi. video; Accuweather, July 21, 2021)
Dramatic rescues took place across parts of central China
earlier this week after record-setting rainfall turned streets
and subways into raging rivers, and rain and thunderstorms
will continue in the coming days. As of Thursday, at least 33
people deaths were being blamed on the flooding, which
occurred after days of heavy rainfall swamped cities across
the Henan province in east-central China.
reliance on air-conditioning is warming the planet!
(Washington Post, July 21, 2021)
Professor Eric Dean Wilson writes about how we narrowly
averted ecological disaster in his new book, “After
Cooling; on Freon, Global Warming and the Terrible Cost of
Two chemists, Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland, published a
study in 1974 that demonstrated that CFC gases were having a
damaging effect on ozone in the atmosphere. In 1995 they were
awarded the Nobel Prize for their work on this. They basically
said that we better pay attention to this or a vital mechanism
of the Earth’s atmosphere will be destroyed. Industry
immediately fought it, saying that there was no evidence of
harm. But the scientific world took the findings seriously,
and a debate began, mostly over how much ozone depletion was
happening and over what span of time.
The phaseout happened in two stages. Initially, CFCs were
removed from aerosol spray cans and other nonessential uses.
It turned out replacing them with other propellants was a lot
cheaper. Industry marketed the alternatives as ozone-friendly,
an early example of green marketing.
People assumed that the problem was fixed. But the real
problem was the CFCs used in cooling equipment. The Reagan
administration for the most part opposed environmental
regulations. But during the later Reagan years, there was an
EPA administrator, Lee Thomas, who went rogue and fought to
phase CFCs out entirely, which no other country at that time
was looking to do. So suddenly the international community
began paying attention to phasing out CFCs and moving to an
In 1987, history was made when the Montreal Protocol banned
CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons; Freon), air-conditioner
refrigerants that were escaping into the atmosphere and
rapidly tearing a hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer.
CFCs destroy the ozone layer, which one classic science writer
describes as “all that stands between us and speedy death.”
Without it, no plant, no animal could exist under the barrage
of ultraviolet radiation that would hit the Earth. CFCs
created the infamous ozone hole at the South Pole that
stretched wider than North America and still appears every
Over-dependence on air conditioning remains a serious problem.
Ironically, he writes, “Our unthinking acceptance of
temperature-controlled comfort has pushed the world closer to
discomfort” by accelerating global warming. We’ll need to
adopt lower-energy cooling methods and change some of our more
wasteful habits, Wilson says. Phoenix and Dubai are
uninhabitable without A.C. in the way we’re living in them
now. Everything in Dubai is extreme, but perhaps the apex of
its absurd designs was an attempt to air-condition one of its
beaches. To be clear, people did live in these places without
A.C. for hundreds of years once upon a time, but their way of
living hardly resembled the industrialized West’s. The
question we have to start asking is: Should these areas be as
densely populated as they are, and in the ways that they are?
And if not, perhaps we have to consider what coastal cities
are now considering in terms of sea level rise: managed
The International Energy Agency says that mechanical cooling
is expected to be the second largest source of global
electricity demand growth after the industrial sector by 2050.
The increased use of air conditioners is making our world
hotter, less stable, more prone to blackouts, more expensive.
Is that really what we want? The comfort that we desire for
ourselves is making the world paradoxically more
uncomfortable; understanding this is a starting place.
The problem is the unthinking and 24/7 use of air
conditioning, which is not necessary. You don’t need to keep
it on in 80-degree weather. Some people argue that using less
air conditioning would imperil our health - but there is such
a thing as thermal monotony [living always at the same
temperature], which can have averse consequences. Multiple
studies show that people who don’t acclimate to the weather
are more prone to end up in the hospital for heat-related
illnesses. So dependence on non-stop air conditioning actually
makes us more vulnerable, not less.
And there are a lot of other ways that you can mitigate the
heat. But it takes some creative thinking and strategizing —
we need to consider working less during the summer, using
cross-ventilation in our homes, wearing different clothing,
being more comfortable with sweating. New buildings should
consider installing low-energy, passive cooling systems. They
should also be shaded. Studies show much higher mortality
rates from heat in neighborhoods that don’t have lots of trees
to shade them. We also need more public cooling strategies
like cooling centers that people can go to during heat
It will take a cultural shift. We need to fight not just for
ourselves, but for a global system that values the well-being
of others and of the Earth. That means creating a world based
on shared vulnerability and interdependence, rather than on
(false) independence and competition. Young people make him
hopeful. They are recognizing that the pursuit of personal
comfort at all costs needs to end, he observes, and they have
begun imagining a new kind of economy — one that will create a
more comfortable and sustainable Earth for all of us to live
Is there another way to tell the climate story that would get
the world to act as it did on CFCs? This is the question that
keeps me up at night. It points to the importance of our
storytellers. People who use the imagination — filmmakers,
newscasters, poets and artists — have to get better at
describing the full scope of the problems, the real horror of
what we are facing. One thing that gives me hope is that there
is a younger generation, Generation Z, coming in that
understands not just the environmental crisis but also the
economic crisis that they lived through. More regular people
than ever recognize that business as usual is destructive and
chaotic. They are asking, “How can we live differently?” They
are imagining radically different worlds.
[I rarely post at this length. But the article is good,
Mankind's psychological paralysis is evident, and the need is
past critical. Near Boston and downwind from an adjacent lake,
we've lived comfortably without A.C. for over 50 years - but
as of last year, not so comfortably for long periods of time.]
How Wildfire Smoke Spread Across America.
photo, AND animated July 18-early July 21 fire-smoke map of
USA; New York Times, July 21, 2021)
Wildfire smoke from Canada and the Western United States
stretched across the continent this week, covering skies in a
thick haze and triggering health alerts from Toronto to
Philadelphia. Air quality remained in the unhealthy range
across much of the East Coast on Wednesday morning as the haze
In recent weeks, a series of near-relentless heat waves and
deepening drought linked to climate change have helped to fuel
exploding wildfires. In southern Oregon, the Bootleg Fire grew
so large and hot that it created its own weather, triggering
lightning and releasing enormous amounts of smoke. More than
80 large fires are currently burning across 13 American
states, and many more are active across Canada.
Now, the effects are being felt thousands of miles from the
flames. As the smoke moved eastward across Toronto, New York
and Philadelphia on Tuesday, concentrations of dangerous
microscopic air pollution known as PM2.5 (because the
particles are less than 2.5 microns in diameter) reached highs
in the “unhealthy” range for most of the day.
[Reminder: Freakish weather isn't just a Chinese problem! In
Boston and across the USA, one more reason to close windows
and to wear an N95 face mask - and for North Americans to add
AirNow's Fire And Smoke Map to your daily weather checks
says critical iPhone factory hasn’t been hit by massive
floods in China.
(CNBC News, July 21, 2021)
[First things first, eh, Wall Street?]
floods: 12 dead in Zhengzhou train and hundreds of thousands
evacuated in Henan.
(1-min. video; BBC News, July 21,
Video shared on social media shows evening commuters just
managing to keep their heads above water. Water is seen
rushing onto platforms. More than 500 people were eventually
rescued from the tunnels in Henan province, officials said.
Days of rain have caused widespread damage and led to 200,000
evacuations. Above ground, roads have been turned into rivers,
with cars and debris swept along in fast moving currents. A
number of pedestrians have had to be rescued. More than a
dozen cities in Henan province are affected.
priest quits after “anonymized” data revealed alleged use of
(Ars Technica, July 21, 2021)
Burrill’s case is “hugely significant,” Alan Butler, executive
director of the Electronic Information Privacy Center, told
Ars. “It’s a clear and prominent example of the exact problem
that folks in my world, privacy advocates and experts, have
been screaming from the rooftops for years, which is that
uniquely identifiable data is not anonymous.”
insurgents came within seconds of capturing 'nuclear
football' on Jan. 6.
(1-min. video; Daily Kos, July 21,
During Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, video footage
of events on Jan. 6 revealed just how close Mike Pence came to
falling into the hands of the people who were chanting for his
execution. Had those insurgents not been delayed through the
actions of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, they could
easily have been there to capture Pence and take him to the
gallows waiting on the lawn outside.
But in addition to Pence, they might have captured something
else that would have been especially problematic. A military
aide who was with Mike Pence as he fled from the Senate was
carrying a small satchel, and inside that satchel was a book
listing the locations of classified military sites, a
description of how to activate and use the Emergency Broadcast
System, a “black book” of pre-planned military actions, and a
small card that contains the codes necessary to authorize a
Concern over how close the satchel came to being captured by
the Trump horde is calling for a review of just how the vital
information is carried and secured. Just what changes are
being considered to better secure the information are not
clear. But just as a start, securing the Capitol against
future assaults by ravening mobs of Trump supporters out for
blood is a good first step.
Nearly All Other Democracies, This Is Not Normal.
York Times, July 21, 2021)
The two-year term, combined with primary elections and the
constant need to raise funds individually, generates
exceptional turbulence and short-term focus in U.S. politics.
are all propagandists now.
(The Conversation, July 20,
The U.S. is in an information war with itself. The public
sphere, where Americans discuss public issues, is broken.
There’s little discussion – and lots of fighting.
Political communication is persuasion used in politics. It
helps to facilitate the democratic process.
Propaganda is communication as force; it’s designed for
warfare. Propaganda is anti-democratic because it influences
while using strategies like fear appeals, disinformation,
conspiracy theory and more.
Since there are few examples of persuasion in our public
sphere these days, it is difficult to know the difference
between persuasion and propaganda. That’s worrisome because
politics is not war, so political communication isn’t – and
shouldn’t be – the same as propaganda.
Krugman: We have a pretty good idea what didn’t cause
yesterday's stock plunge.
(New York Times, July 20,
It clearly had nothing to do with the fears of inflation some
economists and pundits have been trying to stir up. How do we
know this? If you want evidence about what investors think
will happen to the economy, you don’t want to look at just
stock prices. You also want to look at long-term interest
rates. In fact, you mainly want to look at long-term interest
rates, for a couple of reasons.
Monday’s market action was what you’d expect to see if
investors suddenly became concerned that the Biden stimulus
was too small, not that it was too big. while it’s always
worth paying attention to what the markets are doing — unlike
pundits, myself included, investors are putting real money on
the line — the actual track record of markets at predicting
future inflation, or, well, anything is quite poor. Above all,
remember the three key principles when thinking or writing
about financial markets: 1) The stock market is not the
economy. 2) The stock market is not the economy. 3) The stock
market is not the economy.
scene as Jeff Bezos rides Blue Origin rocket to the edge of
space and returns to Earth
(slide show; Washington Post,
July 20, 2021)
[We do like his choice of fellow passengers. But, climate
change... He doesn't even air-condition his Amazon
the Pegasus-spyware list: Ten prime ministers, three
presidents and a king.
(Washington Post, July 20, 2021)
Among 50,000 phone numbers, the Pegasus Project found those of
hundreds of public officials.
Founders’ Plague—and Ours; Race, Partisanship, and Fake News
at the Dawn of the Republic
(Foreign Affairs, July 20,
By the 1790s, the founders’ idealistic hopes for a new kind of
republicanism were curdling. Instead of a reasoned discussion
about the public interest, American politics was becoming an
existential battle between two warring camps. Each routinely
spread lies about the other in scurrilous newspapers that
served as party organs. And beneath the surface lay the
question of slavery and its legacy.
When a devastating yellow fever epidemic struck the new
nation’s capital, Philadelphia, in 1793 the nation’s first
great physician, the patriotic Philadelphian Benjamin Rush,
was thrust back to center stage. The Anthony Fauci of his day,
he struggled to offer the best public health guidance possible
but couldn’t avoid getting sucked into the political
maelstrom. He survived the fever himself, only to see his
advice mocked, his expertise and motivations attacked, and his
integrated medical staff slandered.
After being brought up to speed on everything that happened to
us over the last 18 months, Rush would conclude science had
improved a lot. People and politics? Not so much.
host bans vaccinated guests, and school fights masks to show
(Daily Kos, July 20, 2021)
"IMPORTANT. Effective May 1, 2021 we will no longer be
accepting guest reservations from people who have been
inoculated with any of the COVID-19 experimental 'vaccines'.
ie: Pfizer, Moderna, Glaxo Smith Kline and J&J. New
science has discovered that 'vaccinated' persons through
multiple mechanisms of transmission, can pass the SARS-CoV2
virus 'spike protein' onto healthy unvaccinated individuals.
Thank you for your understanding."
The Resurrection School in Lansing named Michigan Department
of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon in a
lawsuit after he instituted a mandate last October requiring
the use of face coverings at schools. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
hadn’t originally required masks in schools but later changed
course in a fight over pandemic response that ultimately ended
in Gordon’s resignation.
Trump supporter who spread coronavirus conspiracy theories
dies of COVID-19.
(Daily Kos, July 20, 2021)
On Tuesday, the Cape Cod Times reported that Linda Zuern, a
former member of the Bourne, Massachusetts Board of Selectmen
and a Trump-supporting figure in the local Republican Party,
had died of COVID-19. She was 70 years old and had not been
For months, Zuern, a member of the pro-Trump group the United
Cape Patriots, had promoted conspiracy theories about the
pandemic on Facebook. She has shared articles accusing the
World Health Organization of a coverup of the "Wuhan Virus"
and claiming COVID-19 is cover for "globalists" to usher in
"U.N. Agenda 2030" — a sustainable development initiative
right-wing conspiracy theorists assert is a plot to create a
[With a comment that anti-vaxxers should be denied related
insurance claims, as when not wearing a seat belt.]
“Donald Trump is a very dumb man. He could not have done
this on his own.”
(4-min. video; Daily Kos, July 19,
Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) did not pull any punches as
he pointed out there are forces at work beyond a dumb Donald
Trump. Heed his call.
Haque: The Age of Cheap Stuff is Over.
Prices aren’t ever coming back down because the bill for an
unaffordable lifestyle is overdue.
Jet in Dark Heart of the Nearest Radio Galaxy Imaged in
(SciTechDaily, July 19, 2021)
An international team anchored by the Event Horizon Telescope
(EHT) Collaboration, which is known for capturing the first
image of a black hole in the galaxy Messier 87, has now imaged
the heart of the nearby radio galaxy Centaurus A in
unprecedented detail. The astronomers pinpoint the location of
the central supermassive black hole and reveal how a gigantic
jet is being born. Most remarkably, only the outer edges of
the jet seem to emit radiation, which challenges our
theoretical models of jets.
Protective Mechanism Discovered: Dying Cells Protect Their
Neighbors To Maintain Tissue Integrity.
Pasteur, July 18, 2021)
To enable tissue renewal, human tissues constantly eliminate
millions of cells, without jeopardizing tissue integrity,
form, and connectivity. The mechanisms involved in maintaining
this integrity remain unknown. Scientists from the Institut
Pasteur and the CNRS recently revealed a new process that
allows eliminated cells to temporarily protect their neighbors
from cell death, thereby maintaining tissue integrity. This
protective mechanism is vital, and if disrupted can lead to a
temporary loss of connectivity. The scientists observed that
when the mechanism is deactivated, the simultaneous
elimination of several neighboring cells compromises tissue
integrity. This lack of integrity could be responsible for
Bootleg Fire sends smoke entire length of Oregon.
(1-min. video; CBS News, July 19, 2021)
Erratic winds and parched Oregon forests added to the dangers
for firefighters on Monday as they battled the largest
wildfire in the U.S., one of 80 burning across several Western
states. The destructive Bootleg Fire was considered one of the
largest in modern Oregon history and was burning more than 476
square miles, an area about the size of Los Angeles and three
times the size of Detroit. The blaze just north of the
California border was about 25% contained.
Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists,
(10-min. video; Washington Post,
July 18, 2021)
NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, licensed to governments around
the globe, can infect phones without a click.
[Our favorite Pegasus article to date.]
is Pegasus spyware and how does it hack phones?
Guardian, July 18, 2021)
It is the name for perhaps the most powerful piece of spyware
ever developed – certainly by a private company. Once it has
wormed its way on to your phone, without you noticing, it can
turn it into a 24-hour surveillance device. It can copy
messages you send or receive, harvest your photos and record
your calls. It might secretly film you through your phone’s
camera, or activate the microphone to record your
conversations. It can potentially pinpoint where you are,
where you’ve been, and who you’ve met.
Pegasus is the hacking software – or spyware – that is
developed, marketed and licensed to governments around the
world by the Israeli company NSO Group. It has the capability
to infect billions of phones running either iOS or Android
The earliest version of Pegasus discovered, which was captured
by researchers in 2016, infected phones through what is called
spear-phishing – text messages or emails that trick a target
into clicking on a malicious link. Since then, however, NSO’s
attack capabilities have become more advanced. Pegasus
infections can be achieved through so-called “zero-click”
attacks, which do not require any interaction from the phone’s
owner in order to succeed. These will often exploit “zero-day”
vulnerabilities, which are flaws or bugs in an operating
system that the mobile phone’s manufacturer does not yet know
about and so has not been able to fix.
from the Pegasus Project
(Washington Post, July 18,
Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, a human rights
group, had access to a list of more than 50,000 numbers and
shared it with the news organizations, which did further
research and analysis. Amnesty’s Security Lab did forensic
examination of the phones. Here are key takeaways from the
1. Phones identified from a sprawling list: Thirty-seven
targeted smartphones appeared on a list of more than 50,000
numbers that are concentrated in countries known to engage in
surveillance of their citizens and also known to have been
clients of NSO Group, a worldwide leader in the growing and
largely unregulated private spyware industry.
2. Politicians, journalists, activists found on list: The
numbers on the list are unattributed, but reporters were able
to identify more than 1,000 people spanning more than 50
countries through research and interviews on four continents:
several Arab royal family members, at least 65 business
executives, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists, and
more than 600 politicians and government officials — including
cabinet ministers, diplomats and military and security
officers, as well as several heads of state and prime
3. Company says it polices its clients for abuses: The
targeting of the 37 smartphones would appear to conflict with
the stated purpose of NSO’s licensing of the Pegasus spyware,
which the company says is intended only for use in surveilling
terrorists and major criminals.
data leak shatters the lie that the innocent need not fear
(The Guardian, July 18, 2021)
Billions of people are inseparable from their phones. Their
devices are within reach – and earshot – for almost every
daily experience, from the most mundane to the most intimate.
Few pause to think that their phones can be transformed into
surveillance devices, with someone thousands of miles away
silently extracting their messages, photos and location,
activating their microphone to record them in real time. Such
are the capabilities of Pegasus, the spyware manufactured by
NSO Group, the Israeli purveyor of weapons of mass
In the UK, the whistleblower’s detractors argued breezily that
spying was what intelligence agencies were supposed to do. We
were assured that innocent citizens in the Five Eyes alliance
of intelligence powers, comprising Australia, Canada, New
Zealand, the UK and US, were safe from abuse. Some invoked the
dictum: “If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to
The Pegasus project is likely to put an end to any such
wishful thinking. Law-abiding people – including citizens and
residents of democracies such as the UK, such as
editors-in-chief of leading newspapers – are not immune from
unwarranted surveillance. And western countries do not have a
monopoly on the most invasive surveillance technologies. We’re
entering a new surveillance era, and unless protections are
put in place, none of us are safe.
The new global weapon for silencing journalists
(Forbidden Stories, July 18, 2021)
At least 180 journalists around the world have been selected
as targets by clients of the cybersurveillance company NSO
Group, according to a new Forbidden Stories investigation,
(7-min. video; PBS Frontline, July 18,
A powerful hacking tool called Pegasus, sold to governments
around the world by the Israeli surveillance company NSO
Group, has been used to spy on journalists, human rights
activists, the fiancée of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal
Khashoggi and others.
Observed on Newly-Discovered Visitor to the Outer Edges of
Our Solar System.
(SciTechDaily, July 18, 2021)
A newly discovered visitor to the outer edges of our Solar
System has been shown to be the largest known comet ever,
thanks to the rapid response telescopes of Las Cumbres
Observatory. The object, which is named Comet C/2014 UN271
Bernardinelli-Bernstein after its two discoverers, was first
announced on Saturday, June 19th, 2021. C/2014 UN271 was found
by reprocessing four years of data from the Dark Energy
Survey, which was carried out using the 4-m Blanco telescope
at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile between
2013 and 2019.
Analysis of the LCO images showed a fuzzy coma around the
object, indicating that it was active and was indeed a comet,
even though it is still out at a remarkable distance of more
than 1,800,000,000 miles, more than double Saturn’s distance
from the Sun.
The comet is estimated to be over 100km in diameter, which is
more than three times the size of the next biggest comet
nucleus we know, Comet Hale-Bopp, which was discovered in
1995. This comet is not expected to become naked-eye bright:
it will remain a telescopic object because its closest
distance to the Sun will still be beyond Saturn.
tech goes green as accelerator company employs data to
tackle climate crisis.
(Daily Kos, July 18, 2021)
Subak, a new, not-for-profit climate action group, allows
farmers to carefully synchronize their use of water and so
maximize rice production. Subak
, named after a 9th-century
Indonesian water management cooperative,
officially launches tomorrow, championing sharing
high-tech data to address the climate crisis. The nonprofit
organization has already been instrumental in backing electric
car use, fine-tuning weather forecasting, and limiting the use
of fossil fuels to generate energy.
Another company, New AutoMotive
observing the use of electric vehicles across England,
focusing on the use of vehicles, sales data, and favored
models of cars and trucks. The data they find is passed on to
local authorities “to ensure charging stations, battery
replacement services, and other resources are provided to
maximize take-up of electric cars. Replacing petrol and diesel
vehicles with electric versions as quickly as possible is
going to be extremely important in reducing carbon emissions,
and data about take-up rates in communities will be vital in
achieving that goal.
General: 99.5% of virus deaths are unvaccinated people.
(12-min video; CNN, July 18, 2021)
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy tells CNN's Dana Bash that
unvaccinated individuals are not protected against
hospitalization and death.
how fast does the COVID-19 Delta variant spread in 4 weeks?
Florida shows it is very fast.
(charts; Daily Kos, July
Jacksonville is exploding, with an Effective Transmission Rate
(Rt) of 1.92 and a positivity rate of 21.7%, meaning there is
A LOT of COVID out there not being identified. But even
Miami-Dade, at 69% vaccinated with at least one dose, has 37
cases per 100k, an Rt of 1.74 and a positivity rate of 8.7%.
Long story short: Delta is coming, regardless of your
[Masks up, COVID down. How tragic, that we still have to
explain that to so-called adults.]
Trump Slams Fox News in Massive Meltdown Over His Absurd
(News Corpse, July 17, 2021)
Trump's months long mental breakdown over having decisively
lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden has consumed
his every waking moment. Never mind that it was that lunacy
that led to the deadly insurrection in Washington, D.C., on
January 6th, and is likely to incite further violence on the
part of his Crackpot Crusaders. Trump persists in peddling the
“Big Lie” despite having no proof whatsoever.
[How tragic, that we still have to explain that to so-called
is causing the floods in Europe?
(The Guardian, July 16,
Scientists believe climate disruption will bring more extreme
weather, and humans are making things worse. First, more
records are being broken more often; the world’s seven hottest
years in recorded history have all come since 2014. Second,
scientists can now use statistical analysis and computer
models to calculate how much more likely particular weather
events have become as a result of the extra stress that humans
have put on the climate system. For example, human emissions
made the deadly “heat dome” in Canada and North America last
month at least 150 times more likely and the prolonged
heatwave in Siberia last year more than 600 times more
The flash floods in London, Edinburgh and elsewhere last week
were unusual compared with the past, but they will be more
common in future. Over the course of this century, the Met
Office Hadley Centre predicts “warmer, wetter winters and
hotter, drier summers along with an increase in the frequency
and intensity of extremes”. If emissions are not cut, it says
severe heatwaves, such as that of 2018, would be likely every
other year by 2050. Although summers would generally be drier,
there would be an increase in intensity of heavy rainfalls.
Is All Connected’: Extreme Weather in the Age of Climate
(New York Times, July 16, 2021)
[How tragic, that we still have to explain that to so-called
reveals taking regular walks changes brain structure.
(Open Access Government, July 16, 2021)
Even before the pandemic, the suggestion of taking a walk to
feel better was a common refrain. Walking has long been a way
to think, problem-solve, and clear the brain of chaotic,
Now, a study presents evidence that suggests taking regular
walks actually changes brain structure. Simone Kühn, head of
the Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience at the
Max Planck Institute for Human Development and lead author of
the study, said: “Our results show that our brain structure
and mood improve when we spend time outdoors. This most likely
also affects concentration, working memory, and the psyche as
a whole. We are investigating this in an ongoing study. The
subjects are asked to also solve cognitively challenging tasks
and wear numerous sensors that measure the amount of light
they are exposed to during the day, among other environmental
(The New Yorker, July 16, 2021)
In Utah, and across the U.S., doctors are facing a wave of
preventable COVID deaths—and trying to convince the hesitant
that “it doesn’t have to be this way.”
(graph by continents; New York Times, July 16,
Africa’s Covid crisis is here. Back to masks in L.A. Pandemic
Shocked to Discover Bacterial Parasites Behind Rise of
(video loop; University of Pittsburgh, July
The researchers showed that, contrary to a dominant theory in
the field of evolutionary microbiology, the process of
adaptation and diversification in bacterial colonies doesn’t
start from a homogenous clonal population. They were shocked
to discover that the cause of much of the early adaptation
wasn’t random point mutations. Instead, they found that
phages, which we normally think of as bacterial parasites, are
what gave the winning strains the evolutionary advantage early
on. Essentially, a parasite became a weapon. Phages endowed
the victors with the means of winning. What killed off more
sensitive bugs gave the advantage to others.
State-backed bandits planning cyberattacks on US
infrastructure. Reward: $10M.
(The Register, July 16,
Cops and dobbers: Uncle Sam dangles cash incentive for
tattletales (since 1984).
Got Past Windows Hello by Tricking a Webcam.
July 16, 2021)
The security researchers used infrared photos and third-party
hardware to best Microsoft’s facial-recognition tech. The
CyberArk research fits into a broader category of hacks known
as “downgrade attacks,” in which a device is tricked into
relying on a less secure mode—like a malicious cell phone
tower that forces your phone to use 3G mobile data, with its
weaker defenses, instead of 4G. An attack that gets Windows
Hello to accept static, prerecorded face data uses the same
premise, and researchers have defeated Windows Hello's facial
recognition before getting the system to accept photos using
different techniques. It's surprising that Microsoft didn't
anticipate the possibility of attacks against third-party
want to shut down the Windows Print Spooler service
(yes, again): Another privilege escalation bug found.
(The Register, July 16, 2021)
PrintNightmare? More like Groundhog Day for admins.
[We're glad to be on Linux
just blew up the only reason you can't use a Linux desktop.
(ZDNet, July 15, 2021)
For almost 30 years, the number one reason Windows users have
given for not running Linux is they couldn't run their
programs on it.
Microsoft has just announced the release of Windows 365 and
Cloud PC. This new service, built on top of Azure Virtual
Desktop, enables you to bring their Windows 10 and eventually
Windows 11, desktop, apps, tools, data, and settings to your
personal and work devices, including Windows PCs (naturally!)
but Macs, iPads, Linux, and Android devices as well.
Microsoft's made it clear. The future for Windows in business
is going to be on its Azure cloud. Microsoft doesn't really
care that much about Windows on the desktop per se, it's all
about getting subscribers to its Windows Desktop-as-a-Service
(DaaS). Whether you choose to run it on Linux or a Mac,
whatever, they're fine with that now.
creates a premium gas fragrance for electric cars in bizarre
attempt to help EV adoption.
(Electrek, July 15, 2021)
That’s not a joke headline. You are not on the Onion. Ford UK
surveyed drivers and found that most of them would “miss the
smell of petrol” if they go electric. The automaker then came
up with a Mach-Eau (get it?) scent to help those drivers
transition to electric vehicles.
[But did any EV drivers miss the price
Glass Octopus is See-Through and Spectacular.
video; Ocean Conservancy, July 15, 2021)
Using a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) named SuBastian,
scientists observed not one but two glass octopuses, adding
greatly to our knowledge of the behavior of this elusive
species. Scientists also captured footage of whale sharks
stealing food from each other, documented deep-sea coral
predators and collected samples that might help us understand
adaptive immunity, which could have applications to cancer
therapy and drug delivery.
[And there are many other unusual and beautiful life-forms in
this video from the ocean depths.]
Whose Voice Was Silenced for Years Can Communicate Now,
Thanks to His Brain's Electrical Impulses.
video; Science Times, July 15, 2021)
Chang entrenched a grid of electrodes on the patient's brain's
sensorimotor cortex, which controls the speech's production. A
wire is carrying the electrical signal from the electrodes to
a port that's attached permanently to the top of his head and
can be connected to a computer by a cable. During 48 sessions
that lasted 22 hours, the scientists recorded the brain
signals BRAVO-1 generated as he tried to say 50 words
displayed on a screen.
In their paper, the researchers wrote, they then used
deep-learning algorithms to develop computational models for
the detection and classification of words from a pattern in
the cortical activity earlier recorded. They used other models
to produce the probable next words in sentences the man was
attempting to say.
Chang said mere chance would have led to a two-percent
preciseness rate with a 50-word vocabulary. The study authors
were able to synthesize correct words and sentences as much as
93 percent of the time.
[But also see "Neuroscientists
Have Converted Brain Waves Into Verbal Speech
(Smithsonian Magazine, January 31, 2019) - below.]
Noether faced sexism and Nazism. 100 years later, her
contributions to ring theory still influence modern math.
(The Conversation, July 15, 2021)
When Albert Einstein wrote an obituary for Emmy Noether in
1935, he described her as a “creative mathematical genius” who
– despite “unselfish, significant work over a period of many
years” – did not get the recognition she deserved. Noether
made groundbreaking contributions to mathematics at a time
when women were barred from academia and when Jewish people
like herself faced persecution in Nazi Germany, where she
lived. While she was still an unofficial lecturer, Noether
made important contributions to theoretical physics and
Einstein’s theory of relativity. The university finally
granted her lecturer status in 1919 – four years after she
cases are once again rising in the U.S., fueled by the Delta
variant and the sagging vaccination campaign.
Times, July 15, 2021)
Infections are now rising in almost every state. During the
last two weeks, daily case numbers have increased by at least
15 percent in 49 states, and have at least doubled in 19
states. Places with low vaccination rates — including
Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Nevada — are seeing
full-fledged outbreaks. Hospitalizations have also started to
rise, though at a slower rate.
are Not Lazy or Undisciplined. You Have Internal Resistance.
(Medium, July 15, 2021)
Why you can’t just do it, and what to do instead.
Seems Odd That We Would Just Let the World Burn.
York Times, July 15, 2021)
Decades of climate activism have gotten millions of people
into the streets but they haven’t turned the tide on
emissions, or even investments. Citing a 2019 study in the
journal Nature, Malm observes that, measuring by capacity, 49
percent of the fossil-fuel-burning energy infrastructure now
in operation was installed after 2004. Add in the expected
emissions from projects in some stage of the planning process
and we are most of the way toward warming the world by 2
degrees Celsius — a prospect scientists consider terrifying
and most world governments have repeatedly pledged to avoid.
Some hoped that the pandemic would alter the world’s course,
but it hasn’t. Oil consumption is hurtling back to pre-crisis
levels, and demand for coal, the dirtiest of the fuels, is
In California, where I live, 2020 was a hellish, unprecedented
year of fires, with more than four million acres consumed.
There were days when the smoke covered the sun and every
breath stung the throat. But 2021 is tracking even worse. And
it’s not just California. “North America chokes in smoke,
looks like an ashtray from space,” read a Weather Channel
headline. But you’d never know it watching C-SPAN. We keep
running models and fighting over which ‘solution’ is the best,
but we have done nothing to address the impacts of climate
change. Adaptation research and implementation is severely
We are inconsistent creatures who routinely court the
catastrophes we most fear. We do so because we don’t feel the
pain of others as our own, because there are social
constraints on our actions and imaginations, because the
future is an abstraction and the pleasures of this instant are
a siren. That is true with our health and our finances and our
loves and so of course it is true with our world.
We underestimate the horrors humans will adapt to. There is no
expanse of suffering that guarantees a compassionate response.
The wreckage of the coronavirus is a reminder that even the
deaths of family members, friends and neighbors will not
inevitably transform our politics. More than 600,000 American
lives have been lost, and for all that, the 2020 election
looked much like the 2016 election, and fights over even so
modest an adaptation as masks roiled the nation. Worse,
American politics moved on as soon as the epicenters of crisis
shifted beyond our borders. There is nothing in the past year
that should make us believe that ruinous suffering in India
will focus minds in America.
can’t win with water these days.
(Natick Report, July
As if coping with a flood warning near the overflowing Charles
River and addressing elevated PFAS6 levels in its drinking
water supplies through a mandatory water ban for nonessential
use isn’t enough for Natick, the town has also passed along a
state warning to residents of a toxic algae bloom at Lake
Cochituate and is spreading the word that E. coli bacteria has
been detected at its Elm Bank wells. The Massachusetts
Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has warned the
public not to swim in or boat on Lake Cochituate due to the
presence of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae bloom) throughout
the 635-acre body of water located off of Route 9 and Route 30
in the towns of Natick, Wayland, and Framingham.
flooding sweeps Germany, with at least 20 dead and dozens
missing due to ‘unusual’ rains.
Post, July 15, 2021)
On Wednesday, the German weather service issued an extreme
weather alert — a warning that environmental expert Bernd
Mehlig said was “completely unusual in summer.” Steffen
Seibert, a spokesman for the German government, said the
severe flooding was “terrible” and pondered its link to
climate change. “Even though not every event, not every
flooding or local incident, is related to climate change, many
scientists tell us that the frequency, the intensity and the
regularity with which this happens is a consequence of climate
change,” he said.
Earlier this week in Britain, flash floods sparked widespread
travel chaos, with parts of London experiencing a month’s
worth of rain in just one day. Locals were evacuated and cars
became trapped as floodwaters continued to rise.
Switzerland also issued travel and weather warnings this week
as heavy rainfall and thunderstorms brought flooding to the
city of Zurich.
rainforest now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs.
(The Guardian, July 14, 2021)
Cutting emissions more urgent than ever, say scientists, with
forest producing more than a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide
a year. The giant forest had previously been a carbon sink,
absorbing the emissions driving the climate crisis, but is now
causing its acceleration, researchers said.
Most of the emissions are caused by fires, many deliberately
set to clear land for beef and soy production. But even
without fires, hotter temperatures and droughts mean the
south-eastern Amazon has become a source of CO2
rather than a sink. Growing trees and plants have taken up
about a quarter of all fossil fuel emissions since 1960, with
the Amazon playing a major role as the largest tropical
forest. Losing the Amazon’s power to capture CO2
a stark warning that slashing emissions from fossil fuels is
more urgent than ever, scientists said.
Latest Twist in the Life-on-Venus Debate? Volcanoes.
(Wired, July 14, 2021)
Last fall, researchers said the presence of phosphine in the
planet’s atmosphere could indicate life. But a new study says
there could be a geological explanation.
deliveries rising as delta virus variant slams Asia.
(Seattle Times, July 14, 2021)
As many Asian countries battle their worst surge of COVID-19
infections, the slow flow of vaccine doses from around the
world is finally picking up speed, giving hope that
inoculation rates can increase and help blunt the effect of
the rapidly spreading delta variant. Vietnam, Thailand and
South Korea have all imposed new lockdown restrictions over
the past week as they struggle to contain rapidly rising
infections amid sluggish vaccination campaigns.
Many, including the World Health Organization, have been
critical of the vaccine inequalities in the world, pointing
out that many wealthy nations have more than half of their
populations at least partially vaccinated, while the vast
majority of people in lower-income countries are still waiting
on a first dose. The International Red Cross warned this week
of a “widening global vaccine divide” and said wealthy
countries needed to increase the pace of following through on
Gov. Ron DeSantis is selling 'Don't Fauci My Florida' merch
as the state reports some of the highest number of COVID
cases in the US.
(Business Insider, July 14, 2021)
It's not the first time DeSantis has slammed Fauci, who also
serves as the director of the US National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases. In early June, when COVID cases in
the state had plateaued as vaccinations became widely
available, DeSantis said Florida was faring so well
economically because the state did not follow Fauci's advice.
Fauci has been a vocal proponent of face masks, vaccinations,
and social distancing in the face of the pandemic — measures
that many conservatives have rallied against, helping to turn
Fauci, a medical expert, into a polarizing political figure
over the last year.
But the virus outlook in the state has turned worrisome in
recent weeks. As of Wednesday, Florida had the highest number
of COVID-19 deaths per capita in the US and the second-highest
number of daily reported cases per capita, falling only behind
Arkansas, according to
The Washington Post COVID-19
tries to beat FTC lawsuit by pushing Chair Lina Khan off the
(Ars Technica, July 14, 2021)
Facebook petitions for Khan's recusal as FTC decides whether
to continue lawsuit.
cheatmaker halts development at Activision’s request.
(Ars Technica, July 14, 2021)
Developer says, "My intent was never to do anything illegal."
User Vision's proposed auto-aim cheat was designed to work
without any modifications to the hardware or software running
the game itself, thanks to a combination of external capture
cards, machine-learning algorithms to detect enemies, and
external hardware to emulate user input.
wearable device turns your sweaty finger into a battery.
(CNet, July 14, 2021)
Nope, that's not a Band-Aid.
over Rte. 30 on the Cochituate Rail Trail
Natick Report, July 14, 2021)
The Route 30 bridge section of the Cochituate Rail Trail has
unofficially opened about 2 years after a groundbreaking
ceremony took place on the site of what is now emerging as a
tree-lined connection between Natick Center and Framingham
that avoids dangerous road crossings. The contractor has yet
to hand over management of Natick’s portion of the trail to
the town, and is still working on striping and other work
along the trail.
Algae Seen In Lake Cochituate, Wayland Beach Shuttered.
(Wayland Patch, July 14, 2021)
Cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, can be harmful to
people and pets, according to health officials.
reach milestone in $3.5 trillion agreement on Biden's
economic, infrastructure plans.
(Daily Kos, July 14,
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's ambitious plan for
getting infrastructure done this summer is closer to
achievable with the overnight agreement reached by Budget
Committee Democrats and the White House on a $3.5 trillion cap
for their budget resolution. That's the bill that will include
instructions for lawmakers to write the reconciliation bill
that allows them to pass the funding without Republican votes.
The specific details of the package aren't yet concluded, but
Schumer said Tuesday night, after the agreement was announced,
that it will fund "every major program" that President Joe
Biden proposed in his American Jobs and Families economic
Together with the $579 billion included in the proposed
bipartisan infrastructure bill, the total
package—infrastructure, climate, child care, education, and
paid leave programs—will reach $4.1 trillion. Schumer pointed
out that "is very, very close to what President Biden asked us
for. […] Every major program that President Biden has asked us
for is funded in a robust way." In addition to those proposals
from Biden, it will include a "robust expansion of Medicare,"
including vision, dental, and hearing benefits for the first
time ever, a priority for Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders. It
apparently doesn't include expanding the program by lowering
the eligibility age to 60 as Sanders had also advocated.
to Republicans: 'Have you no shame?' Of course not! That's
why the filibuster has to go.
(Daily Kos, July 14, 2021)
President Joe Biden gave a stemwinder of a speech in
Philadelphia Tuesday, declaring that the restoration of voting
rights is the urgent national "test of our time," and calling
the mass of new voter suppression laws coming from the states
"un-American" and "undemocratic." "The denial of a full and
free election is the most un-American thing, the most
undemocratic, the most unpatriotic," Biden said. "But
unfortunately, it's not unprecedented," he continued. "So hear
me clearly: There's an unfolding assault taking place in
America today, an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to
vote in fair and free elections," Biden told the cheering
crowd. "The Big Lie is just that: a big lie," Biden said. "In
America, if you lose you accept the results, you follow the
Constitution. You try again. You don't call facts fake and try
to bring down the American experiment just because you're
unhappy. That's not statesmanship. It's selfishness," Biden
added. He said that Republicans must "stand up, for God's
sake," and oppose voting restrictions, asking, "Have you no
Carlson had a hard time in first grade and turned it into a
lifetime of grievance.
(Daily Kos, July 14, 2021)
The problem with all these attempts to psychoanalyze Tucker
Carlson and determine what makes him tick is that there is no
mystery to be solved. Tucker Carlson is quite possibly one of
the most boring people alive. Our little grown-up manchild is
the single-most prominent white nationalist in the nation. He
follows the agonizingly narrow routine of finding something
that some not-white-male or ally to a not-white-male has done
on any particular day, furrowing his brows really tightly, and
solemnly declaring that all of society is on the verge of
collapse because of the audacity of Those Jerks. It ain’t new.
It ain’t different. It ain’t interesting. This grievance
encompasses all of modern conservatism. It's the only play.
A far more interesting probe that hasn't been done yet might
be a probe of the Fox News executives and board members that
continue to protect Tucker Carlson, the most prominent
political advocate of violence-provoking white nationalist
groups, even as ol' Tucker argues that a group breaking into
the U.S. Capitol to "hang Mike Pence" doesn't count as an
insurrection and that the gubbermint is spying on his
conversations with Russians in an attempt to destroy him. Are
those executives white nationalists? Are their entire
personalities based on early school trouble that morphed into
a weird persecution complex? Give us something on the psyche
of people that look at the violence that this one sniffling
ball of two-bit grievances is helping to stoke but who say,
"Eh, it sure brings in the cash."
shows just how horribly Trump is gaslighting America, and
it's a thing of pure horror.
; Daily Kos, July 14, 2021)
Medhi Hassan on Twitter: "If you only watch 1 thing tonight,
please watch this rather chilling video that my producer, the
great & powerful Ivy Green made, putting Trump's lying
pro-terror words on Fox over images of the actual violence
from January 6th."
[We do not recommend Twitter; if you know an alternate website
for this video, please let us know.]
Chiefs head feared potential ‘Reichstag moment’ from Trump.
(Washington Post, July 14, 2021)
Gen. Mark A. Milley, the country’s top military leader, told
aides after the 2020 election that he worried that President
Donald Trump and his acolytes might try to use the military to
stay in office, according to a new book by Washington Post
Alone Can Fix It’ book excerpt: Inside Trump’s Election Day
and the birth of the ‘big lie’.
(Washington Post, July
Tumult, disbelief and advice to ‘just say we won’. At the end
of Election Day, the defiant president refused to accept the
signs that he was losing the White House contest to Joe Biden.
“I won in a landslide and they’re taking it back,” Trump told
and chaos': new Michael Bender book describes turmoil in
Trump White House.
(76 photos; USA Today, July 13, 2021)
Furious arguments, abrupt decision changes, perpetual dismay
and "anarchy and chaos" defined the finals days of the Trump
administration, according to The Wall Street Journal's senior
White House correspondent, Michael Bender. Bender's book,
“‘Frankly, We Did Win This Election’: The Inside Story of How
Trump Lost," depicts the inner workings of a White House and
presidential campaign in turmoil, as Trump's subordinates
fought each other for influence and grappled with obeying
presidential orders that often contradicted basic democratic
and constitutional norms.
Bender recounted that Trump called for whoever "leaked"
information on him staying in a bunker during protests in 2020
to be "executed" for their actions.
Trump was infuriated after The New York Times reported he,
first lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron, had been put
in a bunker beneath the East Wing as racial justice protests
in Lafayette Square, near the White House, were cleared by
federal, local and military police.
a Word for What Trumpism Is Becoming: FA_C_ST.
Atlantic, July 13, 2021)
“I became worse.” That’s how double impeachment changed him,
Donald Trump told a conservative audience in Dallas last
weekend, without a trace of a smile. This was not Trump the
insult comic talking. This was the deepest Trump self. And
this one time, he told the truth. Something has changed for
Trump and his movement since January 2021.
The Trump movement was always authoritarian and illiberal. It
indulged periodically in the rhetoric of violence. Trump
himself chafed against the restraints of law. But what the
United States did not have before 2020 was a large national
movement willing to justify mob violence to claim political
power. Now it does. The relentless messaging by Trump and his
supporters has inflicted a measurable wound on American
Suspects Were Taken Down With Sonic Blast.
Patch, July 13, 2021)
The Wakefield police chief revealed more details of
authorities' July 3rd encounter on I-95 with the heavily-armed
Rise of the Moors suspects. Police deployed an LRAD
(long-range audio device), a high-pitch alarm that temporarily
incapacitates people, to take nine of the suspects into
Haque: This is Our Last Warning From a Dying Planet.
(Medium, July 13, 2021)
2020 was a catastrophic, horrific year. Megafires and
megadrought in a red hot summer. A deadly pandemic winter.
2021’s already begun the same way, but worse. This winter is
going to be like last winter, only deadlier. This summer was
like last summer, only deadlier. Go ahead and tell me you
can’t see the trend.
That downward trend is going to continue. Life is not going
back to the way it was. A dying planet is trying to warn us.
It is going to try to kill us off with heat, drought, flood,
fire, plague — everything and anything at its disposal.
Nature, like us, will fight for its life. We are the ones
taking the life of everything else on this planet. We are
being sent a warning from a dying planet.
We can only solve our problems now as a world, as a species,
as humanity, as a collective. We are not even remotely trying
yet — and you can see that in our failure to vaccinate the
world, or even give it sanitation and water, or income, or any
other kind of basic good. You can see it in the fact emissions
are still rising, in the way that spoiled Americans refuse to
change their wasteful lifestyles at all, really, and their
cousins in Britain join them, thumbing a nose at the world.
How many more seasons like this can you take? How many more
summers and winters like this does a civilization that can’t
act to save itself have left?
Cases In Parts Of Missouri And Arkansas Surge To Levels Not
Seen Since Winter.
(NPR, July 13, 2021)
The outbreak of COVID-19 in southwest Missouri and northern
Arkansas has become the nation's largest and is mostly driven
by the highly contagious delta variant. Officials warn it
could continue to grow unchecked if vaccination rates stay
low. In Missouri, the seven-day average of new cases is near
1,400 new positive cases each day, up more than 150% from a
month ago. In Arkansas, that number is up 287%. According to
the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, the delta variant accounts for more
than 73% of new cases in Missouri, by far the highest
percentage of any state. The Springfield-Greene County Health
Department reported 17 new COVID-19 deaths in its most recent
reporting period, which ended July 4. None had been fully
"You feel like you're kind of beating your head on that
proverbial brick wall trying to tell people, understand what
we're seeing," Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer at
Mercy Hospital, said in an interview with NPR. "This is real.
It's right here in front of us."
Linux 1.0 Released by Microsoft, Here’s How to Install
(Linuxiac, July 13, 2021)
Microsoft’s Linux System Group is the team at Microsoft which
created the WSL2. And now the team recently released the first
stable version of its own Linux distro called CBL-Mariner
If you were wondering, CBL stands for Common Base Linux. The
distro is used by Microsoft engineering teams to build its
cloud infrastructure and edge products and services. CBL-Mariner
consumes limited disk and memory resources. The lightweight
characteristics of CBL-Mariner
also provides faster
boot times and a minimal attack surface.
is not a general purpose Linux distro. Its
purpose is to be used as an internal lightweight Linux distro
for Microsoft’s engineering teams into the Azure
Microsoft made CBL-Mariner
available on GitHub under
an MIT License. While the source code is available, there are
no ISO images. You can build your own; here’s how to do it,
Windows 11: Everything you need to know.
(CNet, July 12, 2021)
What's new in Windows 11
? What are its minimum
hardware requirements? When will your PC be eligible for the
upgrade? I've got answers to your Windows 11
Firefox 90 Is Now Available for Download, Removes
Built-In FTP Support.
(9to5Linux, July 12, 2021)
Starting with the Firefox 90
release, all FTP code is
now gone forever and can’t be re-enabled, which means that
you’ll have to use a special app to access your FTP sites.
However, Mozilla said in a blog post that the FTP protocol is
now included in the list of supported protocol_handlers for
browser extensions, which means that Firefox
will be able to prompt users to launch a FTP application to
handle certain links.
Security-wise, Firefox 90
introduces support for Fetch
Metadata Request Headers, a security feature that lets web
apps protect themselves and you against various cross-origin
threats, such as cross-site request forgery (CSRF), cross-site
leaks (XS-Leaks), or speculative cross-site execution side
channel (Spectre) attacks.
H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks With Facebook!
Interesting, July 12, 2021)
We established our Facebook page in 2008 as the fledgling
social media site was gaining in currency, and we continued to
maintain our page on the side, mostly as an afterthought. In
the intervening years Facebook evolved from a dubious
curiosity into a megacorporation that is firmly in the service
of bad ideas. In a move that feels long overdue, we at Damn
Interesting are abandoning all interactions and connections
We really should have done this back when it was revealed that
Facebook used the ubiquitous embedded “Like on Facebook”
buttons to follow people’s movements around the web without
their knowledge or consent. We should have done this when
Facebook literally toyed with people’s emotions by showing
some people more positive stories in their newsfeeds, and
others more negative stories, to see how it would affect their
emotional states. We should have done this when it was
revealed that Facebook allowed advertisers to target ads to
people who expressed interest in topics such as “Jew hater.”
We should have done this so many times before.
Kaseya: Everyday IT Tools Can Offer ‘God Mode’ for Hackers.
(Wired, July 12, 2021)
Across the internet, more than a thousand companies spent the
past week digging out from a mass ransomware incident. In the
wake of the devastating compromise of Kaseya's popular IT
management tool, researchers and security professionals are
warning that the debacle isn't a one-off event, but part of a
troubling trend. Hackers are increasingly scrutinizing the
entire class of tools that administrators use to remotely
manage IT systems, seeing in them potential skeleton keys that
can give them the run of a victim's network.
At the Black Hat security conference next month, a pair of
British researchers plans to present techniques they've
developed as penetration testers for security firm F-Secure,
which allowed them to hijack yet another popular tool of the
same kind—this one focused on Macs rather than Windows
machines—known as Jamf.
Section Of Cochituate Rail Trail Unofficially Opens In
(Natick Patch, July 12, 2021)
The grand opening of a new Cochituate Rail Trail section is
still in the future, but one new section has opened to the
wave of anti-protest laws may infringe on religious freedoms
for Indigenous people.
(The Conversation, July 12, 2021)
Over four days in June 2021, thousands of protesters attended
the Treaty People Gathering in opposition to Line 3, a crude
oil pipeline slated to be built across traditional homelands
of the Ojibwe peoples in northern Minnesota.
To begin the gathering, Indigenous elders led a public
religious ceremony. They said prayers and sang songs that
blessed and sanctified the headwaters of the Mississippi
River. They also prayed for the people involved in the protest
– over 100 of whom were later arrested for trespassing and
other acts of civil disobedience.
As an Indigenous scholar of religion and the environment, I am
interested in how Native Americans protect their sacred
landscapes and how they are blending protesting with religion.
And I see how police crackdowns on protests like the one at
Line 3 have the potential to infringe on the religious freedom
of Indigenous people.
Has Four Bases. Some Viruses Swap in a Fifth.
Magazine, July 12, 2021)
The DNA of some viruses doesn’t use the same four nucleotide
bases found in all other life. New work shows how this
exception is possible and hints that it could be more common
than we think.
The discoveries raise the thought-provoking possibility that
this kind of fundamental genomic change could be much more
widespread and important in biology than anyone imagined.
“Here was this wonderful validation that right under our
noses, nature has been expanding,” said Stephen Freeland, a
biologist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Marlière wonders, for example, if scientists might one day
stumble on more than one kind of base modification in a single
genome. Or perhaps they’ll find a change to the molecular
backbone of DNA, in which case “it would no longer be DNA,” he
said. “It would be something else.” We need to “stop taking
the components of molecular biology as we know them for
granted,” Freeland said. “Purely because our instrumentation
has gotten better and we’ve looked harder, everything that we
thought was standard and universal is just falling away.”
Covid: Vaccinations mandatory for all health workers.
(BBC News, July 12, 2021)
All health care workers in France must be fully vaccinated
against Covid-19 by September or risk not being paid, the
government has announced. The requirement applies to doctors,
nurses, office staff and volunteers. President Emmanuel Macron
has also said that from next month, health passes will need to
be shown to access places like shops, bars, cinemas and
long-distance train journeys in France. The passes show the
holder has been jabbed, or had a recent negative test.
"I am aware of what I am asking of you, and I know that you
are ready for this commitment, this is part, in a way, of your
sense of duty," the president said in a televised address on
Monday. The mandatory vaccinations will apply to anyone who
comes into contact with vulnerable people, and therefore
applies to everyone who works in hospitals, clinics and care
homes, regardless of their role. They must be vaccinated by 15
September or risk not being paid, Health Minister Olivier
Véran told France's LCI television.
Health passes are already used to enter some venues, such as
nightclubs which reopened for the first time at the weekend.
However they will be expanded to include more places including
festivals, theatres and hospitals from 21 July and will apply
to those aged over 12 years old.
Cases are rising in France, with the Delta variant causing a
surge in hospital admissions. On Friday, a panel of scientists
who advise the French government on health matters warned of a
fourth wave in the coming months, and said as many as 95% of
people may need to be vaccinated to control the spread.
However, only a little over half of the population has
received a first dose and less than 40% have had two shots.
To encourage people to get jabbed, PCR covid tests that are
currently free will have to be paid for, unless accompanied
with a doctor's prescription. After the president's
announcement, Doctolib, the website people use to book their
jabs, crashed as so many people tried secure appointments.
(Washington Post, July 11, 2021)
A new and rapidly growing Christian movement is openly
political, wants a nation under God’s authority, and is
central to Donald Trump’s GOP.
is a Mental Health Emergency…and we can’t be afraid to say
(Medium, July 11, 2021)
If you think JFK Jr. is still alive and will soon reclaim the
White House with Donald Trump, then destroy a Democrat-led
Satanic global pedophile ring that harvests adrenochrome from
babies before consuming them, you are not well. If you believe
any one of these things, let alone two or more, let alone all
of them, you need help. And by help, I don’t mean Snopes. I
If you believe the COVID vaccine contains a microchip that
allows the “Deep State” to read your thoughts and track your
whereabouts — or that the vaccine makes metal objects stick to
you, or is intended to depopulate the world on the orders of
Bill Gates — you are mentally ill.
This isn’t about being gullible and not good at Google. It’s
about seeing complicated patterns in misspelled and
mispronounced words. It’s about finding hidden meaning in
utterly banal phrases from the e-mails of John Podesta.
It’s not that there aren’t plenty of mentally ill people on
the political left, too. There are. But the kind of delusions
that are now ubiquitous among large percentages of the
population seem to cluster heavily on the right. And if I were
a conservative of relatively sober moorings, I would want to
get to the bottom of why that is, and quickly.
My own theory is twofold: first, the kind of mental illnesses
that cause people to believe in evil forces who are out to get
them — which is a particular kind of delusional ideation — are
the kind whose sufferers would be inclined to cast their lot
with modern conservatism. The right has long stoked
conspiracism and projected a vision of society as a battle
between good and evil. Whether evangelical Christianity’s
dichotomous interpretation of the blessed and the damned or
the anti-Communist paranoia of the 1940s and ’50s (represented
best by McCarthyism and the John Birch Society), the right has
long appealed to those given to seeing human existence as a
Manichean struggle between the forces of darkness and light.
In short, people inclined to purely delusional beliefs are
more likely to be conservatives.
Second, and on the flip side, the kind of people attracted to
conservatism are dispositionally ill-equipped to deal with
some of the modern developments in America. This leaves them
particularly vulnerable to mental and emotional breakdowns.
America is a nation that tells everyone they can succeed and
accomplish their dreams if they work hard — a rugged
individualist mentality that holds special appeal for people
whose politics lean to the right. The problem is, as the
economy globalizes and society changes — leaving
conservative-heavy rural areas and small towns behind,
stagnant and stuck in a bygone era — those in such spaces find
it increasingly difficult to cope.
Rep. to GOP: "It was an armed insurrection. I would be
careful on the side you’re taking."
(6-min. video; Daily
Kos, July 11, 2021)
Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger appeared on Meet The
Press with Chuck Todd to message the GOP. It was an armed
insurrection. They disregard it at their future peril. He said
that if the GOP decides that COVID vaccine hesitancy or COVID
denialism or January 6th was BLM & Antifa, yet we do not
want to investigate it, none of that makes sense. He said the
party could make that choice but will never be a national
party again. He said it is unsustainable and that the party
will replace the GOP.
Runs All-Caps Disclaimer Over Trump’s Lies About Stolen
Election at CPAC.
(Daily Beast, July 11, 2021)
Fox News ran a disclaimer during Donald Trump’s speech at the
Conservative Political Action Conference Sunday as the former
president said yet again that the 2020 election had been
“rigged.” The banner flashing across the screen read, “THE
VOTING SYSTEM COMPANIES HAVE DENIED THE VARIOUS ALLEGATIONS
MADE BY PRESIDENT TRUMP AND HIS COUNSEL REGARDING THE 2020
ELECTION.” CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported the notice ran for
roughly 40 seconds during Trump’s speech. Trump has repeatedly
lied that the election was stolen from him by nefarious means,
claims that have morphed into bizarre and baseless conspiracy
theories targeting voting machine manufacturers.
Earlier this year, Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic,
both makers of voting machines, sued Fox News for billions of
dollars over the baseless theory that the election was rigged.
Carlson is 'furious' at Fox News executives for not
supporting his NSA spying claims, sources say.
video; CNN, July 11, 2021)
For the better part of two weeks, Carlson — the highest-rated
host on Fox — has repeatedly claimed that the Biden
administration was spying on him. Fox pointedly has not
covered his claims on its newscasts, even though such an
intrusion would normally be a significant news story. Fox has
not shown any outward signs of investigating Carlson's claims,
Tyler Cohen: Tucker Carlson finally goes overboard with
(8-min. video; YouTube, July 11, 2021)
Almost all COVID vaccine avoiders are - Republicans. Almost
all new COVID hospitalizations are - Republicans.
[36-min. podcast from March 3, 2020 on same, by same: Republicans
go full anti-vax
heatwave: Wildfires rage in western states as temperatures
(BBC, July 11, 2021)
Las Vegas matched its all-time temperature high of 47.2C
(117F) on Saturday. Communities have been told to evacuate as
firefighters struggle to battle the blazes in the extreme
conditions. Firefighters battling the many wildfires in the
region say the air is so dry that much of the water dropped by
aircraft to quell the flames evaporates before it reaches the
ground. It comes just weeks after another dangerous heatwave
hit North America, in which hundreds of sudden deaths were
recorded, many of them suspected of being heat-related.
best-kept secret: How 230 miles of hiking trails connect the
suburbs of Boston
(Wicked Local, July 11, 2021)
The Bay Circuit Trail travels 230 miles, from Bay Farm on
Kingston Bay in Duxbury in the south to the beach at Plum
Island in Newbury to the north.
trends in self-driving cars anyone trying to get ahead in
the industry needs to know about
(Business Insider, July
Self-driving tech will deliver your packages and food before
it replaces your Uber driver. The gap between the AV
industry's haves and have-nots has grown in recent years,
leading some companies to give up while others form
partnerships with automakers or sell themselves to
deep-pocketed buyers. The shakeup has left the industry with a
clear group of leaders that will be hard for new entrants to
challenge. Waymo has emerged as the consensus number-one. It
operates the only autonomous ride-hailing service in the US,
has partnerships with the likes of Stellantis and Daimler, and
boasts the industry's largest funding round. Experts generally
rank a similar group of companies just below it, including
Cruise, Argo AI, Aurora, and Motional.
Are Desperate For One Last Pump So They Can Dump.
(Medium, July 10, 2021)
They’re revealing that crypto trading was a scam the whole
signs new order cracking down on Big Tech.
The move points to Mr Biden's desire for tougher scrutiny of
Big Tech, which the administration has accused of undermining
competition. "Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism.
It's exploitation," Mr Biden said at Friday's signing event.
The order includes 72 actions and recommendations involving
ten agencies. It suggests that problems have arisen because of
large tech firms collecting too much personal information,
buying up potential competitors and competing unfairly with
struggles to impose his will as problems multiply.
Hill, July 10, 2021)
Republicans are stitching the disparate events together to
make the argument that Biden is not taking charge in the way
that presidents need to do.
It is important not to underestimate Biden or exaggerate his
difficulties. His approval ratings have been solid and largely
stable since he took office. The administration handily met
the challenge on the logistics of the initial coronavirus
vaccine rollout. And, crucially, the economy has been strong.
7-point-plan to reinstate Donald Trump as president 'in
days, not years' was handed out at CPAC.
Insider, July 10, 2021)
The outlandish plan involves ousting House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi and eventually installing Donald Trump in her place.
Donald Trump as Speaker would then call for a vote to impeach,
charge, and remove "imposters" President Joe Biden and Vice
President Kamala Harris. As the Speaker of the House is third
in the line of presidential succession, Trump would then take
up the presidency again in this highly improbable scenario.
The card links to a website that elaborates on the madcap
scheme to reinstate Trump and claims to have proof connecting
the Democratic party to satanic sacrifices. The messaging
alludes to popular QAnon-affiliated conspiracy theories that
accuse the Democratic party of secret satanic abuse. A recent
study found that around a quarter of Republicans believe that
Satan-worshiping pedophiles control the US government.
tells GOP lawmakers to halt infrastructure push: You're
(The Hill, July 10, 2021)
"RINO Republicans should stop negotiating the infrastructure
deal—you are just being played by the Radical Left
Democrats—they will give you nothing!" Trump said in a
statement late Friday, using the acronym for Republican In
Name Only. "Very important that Senate Republicans not allow
our hard-earned tax reductions to be terminated or amended in
an upward trajectory in any way, shape, or form," he said.
"They should not be making deals on increasing taxes for the
fake infrastructure proposals being put forward by Democrats,
almost all of which goes to the ridiculous Green New Deal
Marxist agenda. Keep the Trump Administrations tax cuts just
where they are."
on top of fear’: Why anti-gun Americans joined the wave of
new gun owners
(Washington Post, July 10, 2021)
Pandemic, police violence, calls to ‘defund the police’ fuel
surge of first-time buyers.
says it's time for a Covid booster; FDA and CDC say not so
(CNN, July 9, 2021)
Israel's health ministry said in a statement earlier this week
that it had seen efficacy of Pfizer's vaccine drop from more
than 90% to about 64% as the B.1.617.2 or Delta variant
spread. Pfizer said research showed booster doses of its
vaccine, developed with BioNTech, produced levels of
neutralizing antibodies that are five to 10 times higher than
what's produced after two doses.
It said it's also developing a new formulation for a booster
dose that may more thoroughly protect people from new
variants. "While Pfizer and BioNTech believe a third dose of
BNT162b2 has the potential to preserve the highest levels of
protective efficacy against all currently known variants
including Delta, the companies are remaining vigilant and are
developing an updated version of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19
vaccine that targets the full spike protein of the Delta
variant," the company said. Current vaccines target just a
piece of the spike protein -- the part of the virus it uses to
attach to cells."The first batch of the mRNA for the trial has
already been manufactured at BioNTech's facility in Mainz,
Germany. The Companies anticipate the clinical studies to
begin in August, subject to regulatory approvals."
Time to Repeal Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Say Progressives.
(The Nation, July 9, 2021)
Oil and gas executives are being called on to publicly answer
for their industry’s decades-long misinformation campaign and
destruction of the planet.
Northrop Grumman Finalize Moon Outpost Living Quarters
. (NASA, July 9, 2021)
NASA and Northrop Grumman of Dulles, Virginia, have finalized
a contract to develop the Habitation and Logistics Outpost
(HALO) for Gateway, which will be a critical way station and
outpost in orbit around the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis
The integrated PPE and HALO will be the Gateway’s foundation,
enabling humanity’s first permanent outpost in orbit around
the Moon. Located tens of thousands of miles from the lunar
surface at its farthest point and within easy range of lunar
landers at its closest, the Gateway will be in a
near-rectilinear halo orbit.
["Near-rectilinear orbit"? From
2015, read all about it!
heat helped June smash North America record.
video; Accuweather, July 9, 2021)
Due to climate change, odds clearly favor that this prolonged
string of above-normal Junes for North America will continue
for the foreseeable future. Climate change is likely to make
extreme heat waves and severe droughts like what we just saw
more common and longer in duration over the coming decades,
especially in the western half of North America.
in ‘Postapocalyptic Movies’: Heat Wave Killed Marine
Wildlife en Masse.
(New York Times, July 9, 2021)
The combination of extraordinary heat and drought that hit the
Western United States and Canada over the past two weeks has
killed hundreds of millions of marine animals and continues to
threaten untold species in freshwater, according to a
preliminary estimate and interviews with scientists.
otters defy our understanding of metabolism.
Science, July 9, 2021)
A powerful but inefficient metabolism generates the heat
otters need to survive.
Justice Elena Kagan’s scorching dissent on US voter
(The Guardian, July 8, 2021)
In a scorching dissent, liberal Justice Elena Kagan bluntly
criticized the majority’s attack on the Voting Rights Act and
the irreparable damage the court was doing to the foundation
of American democracy. “What is tragic here is that the court
has (yet again) rewritten – in order to weaken – a statute
that stands as a monument to America’s greatness, and protects
against its basest impulses,” she writes. She also is
unsparing in her criticism of Shelby County v Holder, the 2013
supreme court ruling that gutted another critical part of the
Voting Rights Act. “Maybe some think that vote suppression is
a relic of history – and so the need for a potent section 2
has come and gone,” she writes. “Efforts to suppress the
minority vote continue,” she writes. “No one would know this
from reading the majority opinion.”
Justice Kagan's full dissenting opinion, here.
Fargo shuts down all personal lines of credit, sparking
(CNN, July 8, 2021)
In notices to customers about the closure, the bank warned
that the change could impact their credit scores.
Wells Fargo was trending on Twitter Thursday night following
CNBC's report, with consumer advocates, including Senator
Elizabeth Warren, expressing outrage. "Not a single Wells
Fargo customer should see their credit score suffer just
because their bank is restructuring after years of scams and
incompetence. Sending out a warning notice simply isn't good
enough -- Wells Fargo needs to make this right."
Kagan points out that what may seem like mere inconvenience to
some voters may actually be a severe burden on others. A ban
on handing out water to people standing in line to vote may be
just an inconvenience in neighborhoods where lines at the
polls are short, but a more severe burden in places where
there are long lines (Black and Hispanic voters are more
likely than whites to face longer waits to vote).
The court’s majority also misses a larger point, Kagan writes.
One of the most effective forms of voter suppression is death
by a thousand paper cuts, piling voting inconvenience on top
of voting inconvenience. By ignoring these inconveniences, the
supreme court is enabling this kind of voter suppression “In
countenancing such an election system, the majority departs
from Congress’s vision, set down in text, of ensuring equal
voting opportunity. It chooses equality-lite.”
president assassinated: 5 essential reads to give you key
history and insight
(The Conversation, July 8, 2021)
The assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse risks
destabilizing the Caribbean country, which was already in
crisis over alarmingly high violence and Moïse’s increasingly
undemocratic behavior. Here’s some essential background on
Haiti, starting with the painful history that underlies so
much of Haiti’s modern struggles.
searing heat that scorched western Canada and the US at the
end of June was "virtually impossible" without climate
(BBC, July 8, 2021)
Scientists worry that global heating, largely as a result of
burning fossil fuels, is now driving up temperatures faster
than models predict. In their study, the team of researchers
says that the deadly heatwave was a one-in-a-1,000-year event.
Without the additional greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, in
the statistics that we have available with our models, and
also the statistical models based on observations, such an
event just does not occur.
But we can expect extreme events such as this to become more
common as the world heats up due to climate change. If humans
hadn't influenced the climate to the extent that they have,
the event would have been 150 times less likely. According to
the analysis, if the world warms by 2C, which could happen in
about 20 years' time, then the chances of having a heatwave
similar to last week's drop from around once every 1,000 years
to roughly once every 5-10 years.
The climate may have crossed a "threshold," that would make
the kind of heatwaves witnessed recently much more likely. Up
until now, researchers had seen a gradual increase in heat
extremes as the world warmed. Their analysis of what happened
in Canada has shaken that view. It could mean that the
predictions of climate models might be underestimating the
extreme temperatures the world could yet experience. "We are
much less certain about how the climate affects heatwaves than
we were two weeks ago," said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, from
the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. "And we are
worried about the possibilities of these things happening
everywhere. But we don't know how realistic that is yet, we
need to work on it."
NEW: How to bypass Windows 11 limits and install on
almost any old PC.
(ZDNet, July 8, 2021)
Kids, don't try this at home!
SO FAST! Microsoft's incomplete PrintNightmare patch
fails to fix Windows vulnerability.
BleepingComputer, July 7, 2021)
Last night, Microsoft released an out-of-band KB5004945
security update that was supposed to fix the PrintNightmare
vulnerability that researchers disclosed by accident last
month. After the update was released, security researchers
determined that Microsoft only fixed the remote code execution
component of the vulnerability. Malware and threat actors
could still use the local privilege escalation component to
gain SYSTEM privileges on vulnerable systems only if the Point
and Print policy is enabled.
0patch has also released a free micropatch for PrintNightmare
that has so far been able to block attempts at exploiting the
vulnerability. However, they are warning against installing
Microsoft's July 6th patch as it not only doesn't protect
against the vulnerabilities but modifies the 'localspl.dll'
file so 0Patch's patch no longer works.
issues "urgent security warning: Update your Windows
Windows users and admins are advised to do one of the
- Do not install the July 6th patch and install 0Patch's
until a working patch from
Microsoft is released.
- Disable the Print Spooler using the instructions here
- Install Microsoft's July 6th PrintNightmare
and enable the 'RestrictDriverInstallationToAdministrators
Registry value to only allow Administrators to install
drivers to a printer server. You can find instructions on
how to configure this Registry value in Microsoft's
(CNN, July 7, 2021)
Microsoft is urging Windows 7 and Windows 10 users to
immediately install an update after security researchers found
a serious vulnerability in the operating system. The security
flaw, known as PrintNightmare, affects the Windows Print
Spooler service and can permit near-total control of the
computer. Researchers at cybersecurity company Sangfor
accidentally published a how-to guide for exploiting it. The
researchers tweeted in late May that they had found
vulnerabilities in Print Spooler, which allows multiple users
to access a printer. They published a proof-of-concept online
by mistake and subsequently deleted it -- but not before it
was published elsewhere online, including developer site
It's the latest in a slew of security alerts from Microsoft
in the past year and a half. The company has been embroiled
in safety issues, including in 2020 when the National Security Agency alerted Microsoft
to a major flaw in its Windows operating system that could
let hackers pose as legitimate software companies. And this
year, hundreds of thousands of Exchange users
targeted after four vulnerabilities in its software allowed
hackers to access servers for the popular email and calendar
service. Microsoft was also the target of a devastating SolarWinds breach.
[So, users are being warned a month-and-a-half late? Note that
GitHub was acquired by Microsoft in 2018.]
in Arctic Circle matches Miami's highest temperature this
(Accuweather, July 7, 2021)
Exceptional warmth has seeped well into the Arctic Circle in
the northernmost parts of Norway and Finland this week --
areas that are typically locked in ice and snow for a large
portion of the year. This recent heat wave across northern and
eastern Europe comes after the continent set the record for
the second hottest June on record, according to the WMO. The
unusual warmth has led to rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice.
The level of sea ice extent is currently among the lowest on
record for this time of year, the World Meteorological
Organization (WMO) said.
(Patrick Kearney, July 7, 2021)
You suggest that there should be a camera in every classroom
in order to root out…let me get this accurate…"civilization
ending poison." I’m going to zig where you thought most
teachers would zag. I welcome your Orwellian cameras in my
making the wrong argument for a four-day workweek.
(Washington Post, July 7, 2021)
When we focus on how a shorter workweek will make us better
employees, we’re making the wrong argument to our bosses and
ourselves. The four-day workweek shouldn’t just be about
becoming more productive — the real benefit is that it would
allow us to be fuller people. So why not discuss the four-day
workweek in those terms?
(32-min. video; Washington Post Live,
July 7, 2021)
The number of coronavirus
infections is rising again as the delta variant becomes more
dominant in the United States. The World Health Organization
is advising fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors and
socially distance from others, but the CDC is leaving it up to
states to set the guidelines.
neighbors called covid-19 a hoax. Can these ICU nurses
(1-min. video; Washington Post, July 6,
For the nurses in the Appalachian highlands who risked their
lives during the pandemic, it is as if they fought in a war no
one acknowledges. Conspiracy theories
about the pandemic
and lies recited on social media — or at White House news conferences
penetrated deep into their community. When refrigerated
trailers were brought in to relieve local hospitals’
overflowing morgues, people said they were stage props.
Agitated and unmasked relatives stood outside the ICU
insisting that their intubated relatives only had the flu.
Many believed the doctors and nurses hailed elsewhere for
their sacrifices were conspiring to make money by falsifying
Indians have the highest Covid vaccination rate in the US.
(PBS/NOVA, July 6, 2021)
According to CDC data, Indigenous people are getting
vaccinated quicker than any other group. Here are the
successes—and challenges—of getting vaccines to urban Native
from Renewable Energy Sources is Now Cheaper than Ever.
(Visual Capitalist, July 5, 2021)
The cost of electricity from solar PV (photovoltaic) plants
has decreased by 90% since 2009. Electricity from new solar PV
plants and onshore wind farms is now cheaper than electricity
from new coal-fired power plants.
Solar Power Is Dirt-Cheap and About
to Get Even More Powerful.
(Bloomberg, July 5, 2021)
After focusing for decades on cutting costs, the solar
industry is shifting attention to making new advances in
Hot Perovskite Solar Cell Field Just Got Way Redder &
(CleanTechnica, July 5, 2021)
A new perovskite solar cell venture is proof that legacy
energy stakeholders can pivot to renewables — if they really
years of climate change warnings: the signs that were missed
(The Guardian, July 5, 2021)
The effects of ‘weird weather’ were already being felt in the
1960s, but scientists linking fossil fuels with climate change
were dismissed as prophets of doom. Debate about climate
change in the last third of the 20th century would be
characterised as much by delay as concern, not least because
of fightback from the fossil fuel industries.
Comet Strike 13,000 Years Ago May Have Sparked Key Shift in
(SciTechDaily, July 5, 2021)
Possibly the most devastating cosmic impact since the
extinction of the dinosaurs, it appears to coincide with major
shifts in how human societies organized themselves,
researchers say. Their analysis backs up claims that an impact
occurred prior to start of the Neolithic period in the
so-called Fertile Crescent of southwest Asia.
During that time, humans in the region — which spans parts of
modern-day countries such as Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon —
switched from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to ones centered on
agriculture and the creation of permanent settlements. It is
thought that the comet strike — known as the Younger Dryas
impact — also wiped out many large animal species and ushered
in a mini ice age that lasted more than 1,000 years.
Are There Gold Deposits at All? Scientists Discover the
(SciTechDaily, July 4, 2021)
They found that when the mineral is enriched with arsenic,
gold can enter the mineral structural sites by directly
binding to arsenic (forming, chemically speaking, Au(2+) and
As(1-) bonds), which allows gold to be stabilized in the
mineral. However, when the arsenic concentration is low, gold
doesn’t enter the mineral structure but only forms weak
gold-sulfur bonds with the mineral surface.
The noxious link between arsenic and gold is well-known in
France and elsewhere in the world, including at the Salsigne
mine near Carcassonne. This was one of Western Europe’s
largest gold mines, and the world’s largest arsenic producer
at one time. It closed in 2004, but the environmental
consequences of the arsenic pollution still persist in the
Potential Goldmine: “Fool’s Gold” Contains a
Newly-Discovered Type of Real Gold.
The mineral pyrite was historically nicknamed fool’s gold
because of its deceptive resemblance to the precious metal.
The term was often used during the California gold rush in the
1840s because inexperienced prospectors would claim
discoveries of gold, but in reality it would be pyrite,
composed of worthless iron disulfide (FeS₂).
Ironically, pyrite crystals can contain small amounts of real
gold, although it is notoriously hard to extract. Gold hiding
within pyrite is sometimes referred to as “invisible gold,”
because it is not observable with standard microscopes, but
instead requires sophisticated scientific instruments. It
wasn’t until the 1980s when researchers discovered that gold
in pyrite can come in different forms – either as particles of
gold, or as an alloy in which the pyrite and gold are finely
In our new research, published in Geology, my colleagues and I
discovered a third, previously unrecognized way that gold can
lurk inside pyrite. When the pyrite crystal is forming under
extreme temperature or pressure, it can develop tiny
imperfections in its crystal structure that can be “decorated”
with gold atoms.
Avenues of America: Astronaut Captures Stunning Photo of US
Capitol From Space Station.
(NASA Earth Observatory,
July 4, 2021)
The original layout and design of Washington, D.C., comes to
life in this
springtime photograph taken by an astronaut on the
International Space Station
. The near-nadir, high
resolution photo offers a view of the city’s layout that its
architects, Peter L‘Enfant and Andrew Ellicott, could only
imagine when they drew up plans for the District of Columbia
in the 1790s. Nestled at the confluence of the Potomac and
Anacostia rivers, today the city serves as both the seat of
the U.S. government and as a tribute to the history of the
City of David and the 80 Million-Year-Old Sharks’ Teeth
(SciTechDaily, July 3, 2021)
Scientists have found an unexplained cache of fossilized shark
teeth in an area where there should be none — in a
2900-year-old site in the City of David in Jerusalem. This is
at least 80 km from where these fossils would be expected to
be found. There is no conclusive proof of why the cache was
assembled, but it may be that the 80 million-year-old teeth
were part of a collection, dating from just after the death of
King Solomon. The same team has now unearthed similar
unexplained finds in other parts of ancient Judea.
Third Type of Supernova Discovered: An Electron-Capture
(1-min. video; SciTechDaily, July 3, 2021)
An international team of astronomers has observed the first
example of a new type of supernova. The discovery, confirming
a prediction made four decades ago, could lead to new insights
into the life and death of stars.
There are two known types of supernova. A core-collapse
supernova occurs when a massive star, more than 10 times the
mass of our sun, runs out of fuel and its core collapses into
a black hole or neutron star. A thermonuclear supernova occurs
when a white dwarf star — the remains of a star up to eight
times the mass of the sun — explodes.
In 1980, Ken’ichi Nomoto of the University of Tokyo predicted
a third type called an electron capture supernova. “I am very
pleased that the electron capture supernova was finally
discovered, which my colleagues and I predicted to exist and
have a connection to the Crab Nebula 40 years ago. This is a
wonderful case of the combination of observations and theory,”
said Nomoto, who is also an author on the current paper.
[Just in time for the Fourth of July! You want fireworks? That
brief video will show you BIG fireworks!]
Reveal Causes of Concrete and Asphalt Deterioration.
(SciTechDaily, July 3, 2021)
Cement and asphalt are vital to modern construction materials;
cement is used for the construction of various buildings and
structures, while asphalt is primarily used for highways and
runways. They have been widely used for these purposes since
the 1800s. It has been observed modern concrete structures and
asphalt structures tend to deteriorate much faster than
historical structures, but the reason for this phenomenon was
A team of scientists from six institutions has revealed that
the presence of trace quantities of organic matter in modern
concrete structures and asphalt pavements drive the
deterioration of these structures.
Heat in Siberia and Europe – Record Low Ice Coverage in
Arctic Ocean’s Laptev Sea
(NASA Earth Observatory, July
Western North America and northeast Asia are the two
fastest-warming spots in summer. We don't know why Siberia is
one of the regions that is warming the fastest in summer, but
we can observe it.
Universal Vaccine Targets COVID-19, SARS, and Other
Coronaviruses to Prevent Future Pandemics.
(SciTechDaily, July 3, 2021)
To prevent a future coronavirus pandemic, UNC-Chapel Hill
researchers designed a universal vaccine to provide protection
from the current SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and a group of
coronaviruses known to make the jump from animals to humans.
It already has protected mice not just against COVID-19 but
also other coronaviruses and triggered the immune system to
fight off a dangerous variant.
DA Trying To Identify 11 Suspects In I-95 Standoff Near
(15-, 5-, and 3-min. suspect videos during
stand-off; Natick Patch, July 3, 2021)
Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said she
expects all 11 suspects to be arraigned Tuesday on multiple
"Rise of the Moors" People in Custody After Hours-long Armed
Standoff on I-95 near Boston.
(AP News, July 3, 2021)
The standoff shut down a portion of I-95 from 1:30AM to
10:15AM this morning, causing major traffic problems during
the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Authorities said the
interstate is now reopened and the shelter-in-place orders for
Wakefield and Reading were lifted. At least some of the
suspects were clad in military-style gear with long guns and
pistols. They were headed to Maine from Rhode Island for
“training.” The men refused to put down their weapons or
comply with authorities' orders, claiming to be from Rise
of the Moors
(a group “that does not recognize our
laws") before taking off into a wooded area. The website for
the group says they are “Moorish Americans dedicated to
educating new Moors and influencing our Elders.” The suspects
are expected to appear in court in Woburn on Tuesday.
Khaled Awad: Man
Accused of Stabbing Boston Rabbi.
(Heavy, July 2, 2021)
Awad was armed with a knife and a gun when he approached
Noginski outside the school. Authorities alleged Awad pointed
the gun at the rabbi and told him to open his van. Noginski
gave Awad the keys, police said, and tried to run to the park
across the street, Brighton Common. Police alleged Awad
stabbed Noginski eight times in the struggle.
New Kind of Ransomware Tsunami Hits Hundreds of Companies.
(Wired, July 2, 2021)
It was probably inevitable that the two dominant cybersecurity
threats of the day— supply chain attacks and ransomware—would
combine to wreak havoc. That’s precisely what happened this
afternoon, as the notorious REvil criminal group successfully
exploited Kaseya's IT management software to encrypt the files
of hundreds of businesses in one swoop, apparently thanks to
compromised IT management software. And that’s only the very
Breakthrough Paves Way for Chip Components That Could Serve
As Both RAM and ROM.
(SciTechDaily, July 2, 2021)
“One of the main ways that chip designers are thinking about
getting around the looming limitations of processing vast
amounts of data with silicon is finding materials that would
allow memory components to be built directly on top of the
processor without harming the processor in the process,
essentially making two-in-one devices,” says Jariwala.
“Since AlScN can be deposited at relatively low temperatures,
we knew it represented a possibility for directly combining
memory with logic transistors. We just needed a way to
integrate it with the rest of the chip architecture.” They
found a solution in a promising two-dimensional material known
as molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2. Using a single layer of MoS2
as a channel out of an AlScN-based FE-FET device, the team was
able to test its switching speed and memory stability.
Their next step was to shrink the dimensions of their memory
devices. In their Applied Physics Letters paper, they
demonstrated the ability to produce AlScN as thin as 20
nanometers, reducing the overall size of the device as well as
the voltage it requires. “We also found that removing the MoS2
and using AlScN in a two-terminal device geometry allows it to
function as a diode-memristor-like memory device,” adds Stach.
“Diode memristors are simpler than FE-FET devices and even
easier to integrate on a commercial scale since they require
fewer steps and components."
“Engineers have been pursuing the concept of FE-FET memory
since the 60s, since these devices could operate at extremely
low powers,” says Jariwala. “The issue really has been to make
their fabrication compatible with processors and make them
last longer. This is where our 2D materials come in; they are
so thin that once a memory bit is written in them, they could
preserve that information in the form of charge for years.”
to Take Awesome Photos of Fireworks
(Wired, July 2,
Use these battle-tested tips and camera settings to capture
dramatic shots of those aerial explosions.
scientists hired by big oil who predicted the climate crisis
(The Guardian, July 2, 2021)
Experts’ discoveries lie at the heart of two dozen lawsuits
that hope to hold the industry accountable for devastating
Marty Hoffert: ‘It never actually occurred to me that this was
going to become a political problem.’
Exxon video reveals an anti-climate campaign.
A senior ExxonMobil lobbyist appears to have unwittingly
revealed how the oil company uses its political muscle to
undercut climate action.
"Did we aggressively fight against some of the science?
Yes," Keith McCoy, the Exxon (XOM) lobbyist, said during a
covertly filmed job interview recorded by Greenpeace's UK
investigative platform. "Did we join some shadow groups to
work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that's true,"
McCoy said in the video, which was published Wednesday by
the UK's Channel 4. "But there's nothing illegal about that.
We were looking out for our investments. We were looking out
for our shareholders."
The footage seems to corroborate what many suspected all
along: Exxon's public support for climate solutions at times
conflicts with its work behind the scenes.
[Conflicts? So much that it results in the massive and
foreseen death and destruction! And that's justifiable to
lobbyist reveals company’s involvement with ‘forever
(10-min. video w/clips by Greenpeace
Channel 4 UK, July 1, 2021)
It was an extraordinary and unusual apology. Last night Darren
Woods, the Chief Executive of ExxonMobil, said his company was
"deeply apologetic" about comments broadcast on this programme
last night, in which one of the company's top Washington
lobbyists revealed his efforts to water down a new law to
tackle carbon emissions. The lobbyist - Keith McCoy - was
captured on camera by Greenpeace UK - and his comments set off
a storm of negative coverage in the US.
Tonight we have more - this time about ExxonMobil's use of
controversial toxic 'forever chemicals', gas and plastics.
["What we've done with climate change, we'll do with
ExxonMobil's chief lobbyist explain how he's torpedoing
Biden's infrastructure plan.
(9-min. video; Daily Kos,
July 1, 2021)
Keith McCoy, a senior director of federal relations for
ExxonMobil, thought he was being head-hunted for a potential
major lobbying client. He ended up being an unwitting
participant in a Greenpeace U.K. sting to expose how his
company was targeting a core group of influential
senators—many of whom are in that bipartisan gang—to weaken
efforts to combat climate change in President Joe Biden's
As for Biden's efforts to slow the destruction of the planet
by cutting greenhouse gas emissions? That's "insane," McCoy
said on the call. It's not going to work anyway, he said,
because people don't really care. "Outside like, of something
like Covid where there’s this existential crisis and people
rally to support each other. On something like climate change
there's the forest fires, there's an increase [of] .001
Celsius, that doesn't affect people's everyday lives," he
said. This call, it should be noted, happened in May. Before
the northwest quadrant of North America was put under a
This is who the Democrats in that bipartisan "gang" are
working for. Not you. Not your children and grandchildren.
ExxonMobil. That's who. Senators, prove that ExxonMobil does
not own you. Return their money.
a 17th-century illustration is helping archaeologists find
(Ars Technica, July 1, 2021)
Danish antiquarian Ole Worm conducted the first survey of the
Kalvestene in 1650.
NEW: Why Windows 11 is leaving so many PCs behind (it's
not just TPM)
(PCWorld, July 1, 2021)
More subtle security improvements may be forcing their way
into the limelight.
half a billion people at risk from sea level rise by 2100.
(Nation Of Change, July 1, 2021)
There’s a lot of scientists looking at long-term scenarios.
But it’s happening now in parts of the world.
Miami Building Collapse and Humanity’s Tragic Fight for the
(Wired, July 1, 2021)
From the fallen Champlain Tower to climate change, humans
haven’t yet learned to avoid catastrophes they know are
building collapse bears similarities to other tragedies.
(Temblor, June 30, 2021)
The aftermath of the building collapse in Florida resembles
the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing and a 1993
earthquake. Did building construction play a role?
ExxonMobil’s lobbying war on climate change legislation
(9-min. video w/clips by Greenpeace
; Channel 4 UK, June
They're America's biggest oil company - committed they claim,
to tackling the climate emergency. But tonight this programme
can reveal undercover footage of one of Exxonmobil's top
Washington lobbyists - speaking candidly about his efforts to
undermine new legislation to protect the environment. The
lobbyist was captured on camera by the environmental group
Greenpeace UK - boasting of how Exxonmobil has fought climate
science, and operated behind closed doors to water down green
legislation. Exxonmobil dispute the claims - and accuse
Greenpeace of "waging a campaign against them".
[See the actual video clips!]
Human Family Tree, It Turns Out, Is Complicated.
(Nautilus, June 30, 2021)
How the story of human evolution continues to branch out.
Private & Secure Email Providers 
video, plus others; Linux And Ubuntu, June 30, 2021)
Tim Berners-Lee’s $5M NFT Sale Means for Web History
(Wired, June 30, 2021)
The author of the code that built the WWW will donate the
proceeds to charity. But the auction raises questions about
the transformative impact of non-fungible tokens.
the Supreme Court: What the new supermajority means for our
(ACLU, June 30, 2021)
At a tumultuous time in our country, the Supreme Court is
poised to end its latest term on decisions that could
profoundly impact our fight for civil liberties—from students’
free speech to voting rights to equality for LGBTQ
people. Join our expert panel of ACLU lawyers as they
unpack the Court’s major cases of the term, forecast the term
ahead, and discuss what it all means for our constitutional
of Rage: An In-Depth Look at How a Mob Stormed the Capitol
(41-min. video; New York Times, June 30, 2021)
A six-month Times investigation has synchronized and mapped
out thousands of videos and police radio communications from
the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, providing the most complete picture
to date of what happened — and why.
Trump Struggles To Hurt Joe Biden From the Outside, Looking
(2-min. video; Newsweek, June 29, 2021)
While Trump's inflammatory words garner attention, and
energize those who remain loyal to him, polling indicates a
limited impact from this barrage against Biden. The
president's approval rating has remained over 50 percent
throughout his time in the White House so far, according to a
FiveThirtyEight tracker accounting for numerous polls. At
present, it sits at 52.7 percent.
Trump's peak in approval was at 45.5 percent around the start
of his presidency and its nadir was 36.9 percent. It generally
stayed in the low 40s.
Spectator’s Sign Felled Dozens of Tour de France Racers.
(New York Times, June 28, 2021)
The French authorities were searching for a woman who they
said left the scene after a German cyclist crashed into her
sign, setting off a pileup during the first stage of the race.
of a New Type of Stellar Explosion – An Electron-Capture
Supernova – Illuminates a Medieval Mystery.
(SciTechDaily, June 28, 2021)
A worldwide team led by UC Santa Barbara scientists at Las
Cumbres Observatory has discovered the first convincing
evidence for a new type of stellar explosion — an
electron-capture supernova. While they have been theorized for
40 years, real-world examples have been elusive. They are
thought to arise from the explosions of massive
super-asymptotic giant branch (SAGB) stars, for which there
has also been scant evidence. The discovery, published in
Nature Astronomy, also sheds new light on the thousand-year
mystery of the supernova from A.D. 1054 that was visible all
over the world in the daytime, before eventually becoming the
Mesmerizing Aerial Timelapse Captures the Undulating
Patterns of Sheep Herding.
(1-min. video; This Is
Colossal, June 28, 2021)
[Other things you can do with a drone! As this minute-long
video goes viral, it soon will be, uh, the herd shot 'round
tries to move beyond flubbed rollout of infrastructure deal.
(Washington Post, June 28, 2021)
Although liberals said Monday that they still had faith in
Biden to deliver on the party’s sweeping campaign promises,
they warned that unless both bills are brought up at the same
time, the bipartisan bill would not get enough Democratic
votes to make it to his desk.
Democratic leaders have long said they would move the
president’s infrastructure push on dual paths, pursuing
bipartisan talks on one track that they hoped would ease the
way for a party-line measure on the other. They were hoping to
mollify liberals anxious that their priorities would be
sacrificed in the name of bipartisanship. Then Biden, in
announcing the bipartisan deal on Thursday, went further than
aides and allies expected. “If this is the only thing that
comes to me, I’m not signing it,” he said last week from the
White House East Room.
GOP election review compromised security, Ariz. county to
replace voting machines.
. (Washinigton Post, June 28,
The decision by Maricopa County to ditch the machines could be
a costly consequence of a process decried by local officials
as a “circus.”
Krugman: The Right Goes All In On Ignorance.
Times, June 28, 2021)
The Tulsa race massacre really happened, and it was only one
of many such incidents. The 1938 underwriting manual for the
Federal Housing Administration really did declare that
“incompatible racial groups should not be permitted to live in
the same communities.” We can argue about the relevance of
this history to current policy, but who would argue against
acknowledging simple facts?
The modern right, that’s who. The current obsession with
critical race theory is a cynical attempt to change the
subject away from the Biden administration’s highly popular
policy initiatives, while pandering to the white rage that
Republicans deny exists. But it’s only one of multiple
subjects on which willful ignorance has become a litmus test
for anyone hoping to succeed in Republican politics. Thus, to
be a Republican in good standing one must deny the reality of
man-made climate change, or at least oppose any meaningful
action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. One must reject or
at least express skepticism about the theory of evolution. And
don’t even get me started on things like the efficacy of tax
Cox Richardson: Trump’s insurrection faces waning
(Letters From An American, June 27, 2021)
The big news today was former attorney general William Barr
emphasizing that former president Trump’s claims that he had
won the 2020 election were “bullshit.” That Barr is trying to
spin the past now is a good indicator of current politics.
While we are still in a dangerous moment, the former president
is losing ground.
Trump’s Big Lie has a number of elements that echo the
argument behind the organization of the Confederacy in 1861.
Wars are far easier to start than to stop. Trump’s
insurrection seems to be facing the same waning enthusiasm
that Confederate leaders faced.
William Barr’s Breakup With Trump
(The Atlantic, June
In the final months of the administration, the doggedly loyal
attorney general finally had enough.
leads companies in election-objector donations.
Axios, June 27, 2021)
Toyota gave more than twice as much — and to nearly five times
as many members of Congress — as the No. 2 company on the
list, Cubic Corp., a San Diego-based defense contractor. 34
companies have donated at least $5,000 to the campaigns and
leadership PACs of one or more election objectors this year.
Other notable names on the list include Koch Industries,
telecom giant AT&T, health insurer Cigna and tobacco
company Reynolds American.
Americans waged war on the scientists trying to save them.
(Business Insider, June 27, 2021)
Distrust of science isn't new in the US. The anti-vaccination
movement dates back to 19th century New Englanders who opposed
the smallpox vaccine. Climate-change deniers have been vocal
since the 1980s. But the pandemic intensified a new type of
attack — one that focused not on the research itself, but on
experts and health officials as people.
During the Ebola crisis in 2014, conservatives in the US
called for tighter travel restrictions than Democrats did. At
the time, psychologists theorized that conservatives were more
inclined to react strongly to a perceived danger.
"Conservatism is a strategy to protect a society from harm
from both outsiders and diseases," journalist Brian Resnick
wrote in The Atlantic in 2014. "Ebola hits this exact
conservative nerve — it's a deadly disease from a foreign
But in the case of the coronavirus, the idea that scientists
were trying to dupe the public swelled among conservatives,
leading many to fear a loss of liberty more than the virus.
President Donald Trump, of course, played a major role in
shaping that narrative. He had already painted himself as the
David that would put the Goliath industries of science and
medicine in check, and also regularly suggested that Democrats
were exaggerating the virus' severity as a political stunt. A
Cornell University analysis
found that Trump
was the largest driver of coronavirus misinformation during
the pandemic. He touted the anti-malaria drug
hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment without
much evidence, and used racist misnomers like "Chinese virus,"
or "kung flu" to push blame onto a foreign country — a
time-tested move from the populist handbook.
Radiation Budget Is Out of Balance – Doubled During 14-Year
(SciTechDaily, June 27, 2021)
The atmosphere is changing, trapping more heat from the Sun.
The ocean plays a significant role in the balance. Earth’s
energy imbalance approximately doubled during the 14-year
period from 2005 to 2019.
Earth’s climate is determined by a delicate balance between
how much of the Sun’s radiative energy is absorbed in the
atmosphere and at the surface and how much thermal infrared
radiation Earth emits to space. A positive energy imbalance
means the Earth system is gaining energy, causing the planet
to heat up.
Scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration compared data from two independent sets of
measurements. NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy
System (CERES) satellite sensors measure how much energy
enters and leaves Earth’s system. A global array of ocean
floats, called Argo, provide data to enable an accurate
estimate of the rate at which the world’s oceans are warming.
Since approximately 90 percent of the excess energy from an
energy imbalance ends up in the ocean, the overall trends of
incoming and outgoing radiation should broadly agree with
changes in ocean heat content. The two very independent ways
of looking at changes in Earth’s energy imbalance are in
really, really good agreement, and they’re both showing this
very large trend, which gives us a lot of confidence that what
we’re seeing is a real phenomenon and not just an instrumental
artifact. It’s likely a mix of anthropogenic forcing and
internal variability. Over this period they’re both causing
warming, which leads to a fairly large change in Earth’s
energy imbalance. The magnitude of the increase is
unprecedented and alarming.
Electrifying! How Earth Could Be Entirely Powered by
(SciTechDaily, June 27, 2021)
The study, published in the international journal, Energies
explores what changes are needed in our energy mix and
technologies, as well as in our consumption patterns, if we
are to achieve 100% renewability in a way that supports
everyone, and the myriad of life on our planet. The fully
renewable energy-powered future envisioned by the team would
require a significant “electrification” of our energy mix and
raises important questions about the potential conflict
between land demands for renewable fuel production.
Find Clean Air Act Saved 1.5 Billion Birds Over the Last 40
(Cornell University, June 26, 2021)
That’s nearly 20 percent of birdlife in the United States
today. So concludes a new continent-wide study published in
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study
was conducted by scientists at Cornell University and the
University of Oregon. “Our research shows that the benefits of
environmental regulation have likely been underestimated,”
says a lead author. “Reducing pollution has positive impacts
in unexpected places and provides an additional policy lever
for conservation efforts.”
(and Hear) How NASA’s Perseverance Rover Took Its Epic First
Selfie on Mars.
(Two 2-min. videos; SciTechDaily, June
Warned of ‘Major Structural Damage’ at Florida Condo
(New York Times, June 26, 2021)
A consultant in 2018 urged the managers to repair cracked
columns and crumbling concrete. The work was finally about to
get underway when the building collapsed.
Krugman: NYC office space likely to become less expensive,
attract new businesses.
(New York Times, June 25, 2021)
While a growing city’s supply of housing is highly elastic —
if prices are high, lots of houses will be built, unless the
NIMBYs get in the way — a shrinking city’s housing supply is
inelastic: Houses aren’t torn down when their prices fall. A
key consequence of this asymmetry is that while cities can
experience explosive growth, they rarely experience rapid
decline. Why? Because housing in a city is, as the title says,
durable: It doesn’t disappear when a city falls on hard times;
it just becomes cheap.
So, too, with NYC's increasingly vacant, once-expensive office
Are Criminalizing The Democratic Process For People Of
(Huffington Post, June 26, 2021)
After an election loss and years of mass demonstrations,
Republican states are rushing to create new crimes related to
voting and protesting.
Beaten In Capitol Riot Confronts Kevin McCarthy Over GOP
Downplaying Of Attack.
(Huffington Post, June 26, 2021)
Michael Fanone asked the House GOP leader to publicly denounce
statements by Republican members. He wasn’t satisfied with
Cohen on Dumbest Lie Trump Ever Told, Matt Gaetz Coming
After Him & Donald Going to Jail.
Jimmy Kimmel Show, June 25, 2021)
Former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen talks about Trump
wanting Jimmy investigated for making fun of him, Rudy
Giuliani losing his law license, all of the terrible people in
Team Trump, Donald calling him and telling him everything was
going to be OK, the dumbest lie he ever heard Trump tell, Matt
Gaetz coming after him, and the possibility of Trump going to
of ‘Dragon Man’ Skull in China May Add Species to Human
(New York Times, June 25, 2021)
A laborer discovered the fossil and hid it in a well for 85
years. Scientists say it could help sort out the human family
tree and how our species emerged.
Did the Coronavirus Come From? What We Already Know Is
(New York Times, June 25, 2021)
There were curious characteristics about the H1N1 influenza
pandemic of 1977-78, which emerged from northeastern Asia and
killed an estimated 700,000 people around the world. For one,
it almost exclusively affected people in their mid-20s or
younger. Scientists discovered another oddity that could
explain the first: It was virtually identical to a strain that
circulated in the 1950s. People born before that had immunity
that protected them, and younger people didn’t.
But how on earth had it remained so steady genetically, since
viruses continually mutate? Scientists guessed that it had
been frozen in a lab. It was often found to be sensitive to
temperature, something expected for viruses used in vaccine
research. It was only in 2004 that a prominent virologist,
Peter Palese, wrote that Chi-Ming Chu, a respected virologist
and a former member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told
him that “the introduction of this 1977 H1N1 virus” was indeed
thought to be due to vaccine trials involving “the challenge
of several thousand military recruits with live H1N1 virus.”
For the first time, science itself seemed to have caused a
pandemic while trying to prepare for it.
Now, for the second time in 50 years, there are questions
about whether we are dealing with a pandemic caused by
scientific research. While the Chinese government’s
obstruction may keep us from knowing for sure whether the
virus, SARS-CoV-2, came from the wild directly or through a
lab in Wuhan or if genetic experimentation was involved, what
we know already is troubling.
General Warns Misinformation Is The Greatest Threat To
Covid-19 Vaccination Efforts.
(CBS, June 25, 2021)
With a dangerous Covid-19 variant on the rise, health experts
are urging people who are still hesitant to get their
vaccinations. But the US surgeon general warns a big obstacle
stands in their way: Misinformation. “There is so much
misinformation out there about the vaccine, coming through so
many channels — a lot of it being spread on social media,” Dr.
Vivek Murthy told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “It’s inducing a lot of
fear among people.” “Two-thirds of those who are unvaccinated
in polls say that they either believe the myths about Covid-19
or think that they might be true,” he added.
of smell can take up to one year after COVID-19 infection.
(The Hill, June 25, 2021)
A new study looks at patient recovery times from anosmia
brought on by the coronavirus.
control over your data with Rally, a novel privacy-first
data sharing platform.
(Mozilla, June 25, 2021)
Mozilla teams up with Princeton University researchers to
enable crowd-sourced science for public good; collaborates
with research groups at Princeton, Stanford on upcoming
NEW: Will your
PC run Windows 11? Even Microsoft can't say for sure.
(CNet, June 25, 2021)
Does your PC have the right hardware to run Microsoft's next
Windows version? The answer depends on where you look. And
don't count on the compatibility checker for much help.
This post has been updated multiple times since its
initial publication to reflect Microsoft's scrambling to
clean up the mess they made.
My Book NAS devices are being remotely wiped clean
(BleepingComputer, June 24, 2021)
Today, WD My Book Live and WD My Book Live DUO owners
worldwide suddenly found that all of their files were
mysteriously deleted, and they could no longer log into the
device via a browser or an app. When they attempted to log in
via the Web dashboard, the device stated that they had an
"Invalid password." Owners reported that the MyBook logs
showed that the devices received a remote command to perform a
factory reset starting at around 3 PM yesterday and through
If a threat actor wiped devices, it is strange as no one has
reported ransom notes or other threats, meaning the attack was
simply meant to be destructive.
Some users affected by this attack have reported success
recovering some of their files using the PhotoRec file
recovery tool. Unfortunately, other users have not had as much
If you own a WD My Book Live NAS device, Western Digital
strongly recommends that you disconnect the device from the
Clop gang members laundered over $500M in ransomware
(The Report, June 24, 2021)
While Ukrainian police claimed the group was part of the Clop
ransomware gang, Binance’s revelation today confirms the fact
that the six suspects were only marginal pawns in the Clop
operation. This also explains why the six arrests last week in
Ukraine did not lead to a stop in Clop attacks. The ransomware
gang’s “leak site” remained active, even after the arrests,
and a new victim was added on Tuesday, June 22, six days after
the arrests in Ukraine.
11 announced: release date, features and everything you need
(TechRadar, June 24, 2021)
Windows 11, the successor to Windows 10, will likely be
released late November or December. It will be a free download
for Windows users.
Efficient Solar Energy Collectors Grown From Microscopic
(SciTechDaily, June 24, 2021)
Rice University engineers have created microscopic seeds for
growing remarkably uniform 2D perovskite crystals that are
both stable and highly efficient at harvesting electricity
from sunlight. Halide perovskites are organic materials made
from abundant, inexpensive ingredients, and Rice’s seeded
growth method addresses both performance and production issues
that have held back halide perovskite photovoltaic technology.
the Real Origin of “OK”?
(Mental Floss, reprinted June
For starters, it’s not even 200 years old.
Things I Avoid to Remain Insanely Healthy
I don’t wake up at 5 am or eat salad.
US general rejected Trump suggestions military should ‘crack
skulls’ during protests last year, new book claims.
(CNN, June 24, 2021)
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley often found he was the
lone voice of opposition to those demands during heated Oval
Office discussions, according to excerpts of a new book,
obtained by CNN, from Wall Street Journal reporter Michael
Bender. Titled “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside
Story of How Trump Lost,” the book reveals new details about
how Trump’s language became increasingly violent during Oval
Office meetings as protests in Seattle and Portland began to
receive attention from cable new outlets. The President would
highlight videos that showed law enforcement getting physical
with protesters and tell his administration he wanted to see
more of that behavior, the excerpts show. “That’s how you’re
supposed to handle these people,” Trump told his top law
enforcement and military officials, according to Bender.
“Crack their skulls!” Trump also told his team that he wanted
the military to go in and “beat the f–k out” of the civil
rights protesters, Bender writes. “Just shoot them,” Trump
said on multiple occasions inside the Oval Office, according
to the excerpts.
When Milley and then-Attorney General William Barr would push
back, Trump toned it down, but only slightly, Bender adds.
“Well, shoot them in the leg—or maybe the foot,” Trump said.
“But be hard on them!”
the extraordinary effort to save Trump from covid-19
(Washington Post, June 24, 2021)
His illness was more severe than the White House acknowledged
at the time. Advisers thought it would alter his response to
the pandemic. They were wrong.
Gaetz just got destroyed by the top US general at a
hearing and become visibly FURIOUS.
(8-min. video; No Lie, June 23, 2021)
General Mark Milley: "
Teaching about Racism is racist? That's like saying that
teaching about the Holocaust is anti-semitic.
US general hits back against 'offensive' Republican
criticism and defends Pentagon diversity efforts.
(4-min. video; CNN, June 23, 2021)
The most senior general in the US military, Joint Chiefs
Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, offered a forceful rebuke of
renewed efforts from Republican members of Congress to
question the Defense Department's diversity efforts and
alleged embrace of "critical race theory."
Spears' IUD testimony was disturbing — and connects to a
larger societal pattern.
(6-min. video; MSNBC, June 23,
Concocted mental health claims have been used throughout
history, including in proceedings that carry the imprimatur of
the courts, to sideline inconvenient women.
GOP filibuster of the For the People Act shows they're
afraid to debate voting rights.
(12-miin. video; MSNBC,
June 23, 2021)
There's only one reason to use — or keep — the filibuster:
hired Ivanka and Jared Kushner. Time for Biden to reverse
(4-min. video; MSNBC, June 23, 2021)
Three of a Biden adviser's kids landed jobs in the
administration. That's a bad look.
top Delta-variant symptoms reported in the UK are a runny
nose and a headache — because most people affected are young
or partially vaccinated.
(Business Insider, June 23,
The Delta coronavirus variant, first identified in India, has
taken over in the UK, where it's now responsible for over 95%
of infections. Delta's also coming for the US fast, already
accounting for more than 20% of sequenced cases, with a
doubling time of about two weeks.
About 19,000 people in the UK catch COVID-19 every day. Most
are young, and most are not fully vaccinated. It's evolved to
be more infectious, which is what many viruses do. The Delta
variant may be roughly twice as infectious as its early
predecessors, with each person who catches it transmitting to
about six others.
Up a New Home for 33,000 Culinary and Hospitality Books
(Internet Archive, June 23, 2021)
In June 2021, declining enrollment led Johnson & Wales
University to consolidate, closing its North Miami and Denver
locations. This left the future of the university’s library
collection at those sites in limbo. To save the collection,
JWU Denver donated 33,000 books dating back to the early
1900s—primarily from its culinary and hospitality programs—to
the Internet Archive to be preserved, digitized and many will
be lent digitally. The assortment of cookbooks covers global
cuisines and novelties, including Balinese and Indonesian
food, an Antarctic expedition cookbook from 1945 with recipes
for penguins and walruses—and even books on just a single
ingredient, such as strawberries.
“The Internet Archive is going to keep it alive. It’s truly
the library of the future where you can access it 24/7/365
when you need it. I think it’s wonderful that we’ve been
able to contribute to that collection of information.”
City That Never Commutes
(Politico, June 22, 2021)
About one-fifth of New York City workers are going back to
their offices, according to data from Kastle Systems, which
has been monitoring building access activity across the
country. But even as city Covid restrictions lift and major
New York firms order workers back, many people remain hesitant
to resume their daily commutes to Midtown.
[Find this article about 40% down the page.]
Tyler Cohen: Joe Manchin makes stunning, bombshell move on
For The People Act.
(9-min. video; No Lie, June 22,
"Democrats, take this opportunity now!"
of the Party - How Secure Is the Chinese Communist Party?
(Foreign Affairs, June 22, 2021)
July 23 marks the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist
Party, which was founded in Shanghai in 1921. This summer,
China will hold an epic celebration to honor the occasion.
Although the party will forgo a military parade in Tiananmen
Square (lest it appear too militaristic), the jingoistic
Global Times explained that “large-scale exhibitions will be
held to display the glorious course, great achievements, and
valuable experience of the CCP over the past 100 years.” There
will be celebratory publications, seminars, commemorative
stamps and coins, medals for “outstanding party members,” and
a special hotline set up so that patriotic citizens can report
any “historical nihilists”—miscreants who might deign to “deny
the excellence of advanced socialist culture.”
[Even as the Republicans here fight against American
educational honesty regarding our
Meyers: Mike Pence Booed and Called a "Traitor" at
(12-min. video; A Closer Look,
June 21, 2021)
QNX Software Is Now Embedded In Over 195 Million Vehicles.
(Blackberry, June 21, 2021)
BlackBerry QNX is the market leader for safety-certified
embedded software in automotive. Automakers and Tier 1s,
including Aptiv, BMW, Bosch, Ford, GM, Honda, Mercedes-Benz,
Toyota, and Volkswagen, trust BlackBerry QNX software for a
broad range of critical systems. These include Advanced
Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Digital Cockpits and Secure
Data Gateways, all of which are becoming increasingly
prevalent in vehicles. Furthermore, BlackBerry QNX is
key to the future of the automotive industry, with design wins
with 23 of the top 25 electric vehicle automakers, and
providing a safe, reliable, and secure software foundation for
autonomous drive vehicle systems.
A $2,000 smartphone that let the FBI listen in
(AskWoody, June 21, 2021)
Special smartphones that were supposedly the most
super-secretive in the world actually resulted in at least 800
arrests, the seizure of eight tons of cocaine, and the
recovery of $48 million in currency from organized-crime gangs
on June 6 and 7.
Workings of Smell Receptors Revealed for First Time.
(Quanta Magazine, June 21, 2021)
Researchers have finally seen how some smell receptors bind to
odor molecules. The work yields new insights into one of the
most mysterious and versatile senses.
pee or flush drugs into waterways—does that matter to
Ars Technica, June 21, 2021)
Many of the drugs we flush could change aquatic animal
behavior—theoretically. Regulating bodies should consider
potential changes to behavior in aquatic organisms before
greenlighting a new chemical. Currently, they are tested for
their effects on growth and reproduction.
Cox Richardson: Silent Spring
(Letters From An
American, June 20, 2021)
When The New Yorker began to serialize Carson’s book in June
1962—likely where Dad first read it—officers of chemical
companies were scathing. “If man were to faithfully follow the
teachings of Miss Carson," an executive of the American
Cyanamid Company said, "we would return to the Dark Ages, and
the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit
the earth." Officers of Monsanto questioned Carson's sanity.
But other Americans were willing to listen. Silent Spring
inspired the fledgling environmental movement.
urban wildflower meadows prove a hit with German city
(The Guardian, June 20, 2021)
Countrywide scheme is flourishing after being set up to
reverse a 75% decline in insect populations.
Raise Alarm: Brain Damage Caused by Even Small Amounts of
(SciTechDaily, June 19, 2021)
Bisphenols are plasticizers that are found in a large number
of plastic products worldwide — for example, in food
packaging, plastic tableware, drinking bottles, toys - and
tooth fillings and baby pacifiers. In recent years, numerous
health risks have already been associated with them,
especially with bisphenol A (BPA).
The Bayreuth research team led by Dr. Peter Machnik at the
Animal Physiology research group (led by Prof. Dr. Stefan
Schuster) has now for the first time investigated the effects
of plasticizers on signal transmission between nerve cells in
the adult brain. The study covers not only BPA, but also
bisphenol S (BPS), which is often considered less harmful to
health. The study shows that even small amounts of the
plasticizers bisphenol A and bisphenol S disrupt the
transmission of signals between nerve cells in the brains of
The researchers consider it very likely that similar
interference can also occur in the brains of adult humans.
They, therefore, call for the rapid development of alternative
plasticizers that do not pose a risk to the central nervous
system. The research techniques in the study could, in
addition, prove a valuable aid in the development of
alternative plasticizers. They make it possible to quickly and
inexpensively test how a substance under consideration affects
Discover a New Genetic Mutation That Distinguishes Modern
Humans From Neanderthals.
(SciTechDaily, June 19, 2021)
Skoltech scientists and their colleagues from Germany and the
United States have analyzed the metabolomes of humans,
chimpanzees, and macaques in muscle, kidney, and three
different brain regions. The team discovered that the modern
human genome undergoes mutation which makes the
adenylosuccinate lyase enzyme less stable, leading to a
decrease in purine synthesis. This mutation did not occur in
Neanderthals, so the scientists believe that it affected
metabolism in brain tissues and thereby strongly contributed
to modern humans evolving into a separate species.
Cox Richardson: A bill that carries outsized weight for its
role in our democracy
(Letters From An American, June
Governor Greg Abbott’s attack on voting rights in Texas
identifies the crux of the current crisis in American
democracy. For thirty years, Republicans have strengthened
their hand in elections not by adjusting their message to win
more voters but by gaming the system: suppressing the vote and
The conflict over elections, then, is a conflict over the
nature of our government. It will play out over the next week,
as the Senate takes up S1, the For the People Act. This
measure protects the right to vote, ends partisan
gerrymandering, limits the influence of money in politics, and
establishes new ethics rules for presidents and other federal
officeholders. The House has already passed a similar act on a
strict party vote, but the measure cannot pass the Senate
under the Senate’s current rules. The filibuster will permit
just 41 of the 50 Republican senators to stop the act from
Reveals Wild History Of Woman Leading Firms Pushing
‘Italygate’ Election Conspiracy Theory.
Post, June 19, 2021)
Michele Roosevelt Edwards gave a TV interview in a $30 million
mansion she claimed was hers, but the set up was faked, The
Washington Post reported.
admin lawyers having trouble finding jobs post-Jan. 6.
Violins shrink to quantum level.
(Daily Kos, June 19,
The nation's law firms are not hiring the dozens of traitors
who stuck with this doofus through thousands of lies, two
impeachments, dozens of outrages, and one full-blown
insurrection against the legitimate government of the United
States. By all rights, having worked for the Trump
administration should essentially bar you from any kind of
changed the date of his Juneteenth Tulsa rally after a Black
Secret Service agent told him it was 'very offensive,' book
(Business Insider, June 19, 2021)
Trump's team — including former campaign manager Brad Parscale
— was unaware of the date's significance in US history.
[See June 10th 2021, below, re Slavery.]`
private matter': Biden on US Catholic bishops' potential
(2-min. video; CNN, June 18, 2021)
[Including a very good independent analysis re the separation
of Church and State.]
Ted Lieu calls Catholic bishops 'hypocrites' for trying to
deny Biden Communion over abortion stance while ignoring
Bill Barr's death penalty push.
(Yahoo, June 18, 2021)
"Dear @USCCB: I'm Catholic and you are hypocrites. You did not
tell Bill Barr, a Catholic, not to take communion when he
expanded killing human beings with the death penalty. You are
being nakedly partisan and you should be ashamed. Another
reason you are losing membership."
bishops back document that could limit Communion for Biden.
(Washington Post, June 18, 2021)
The presidency of the country’s second Catholic president is
revealing deep divisions among U.S. bishops. The vote to
create guidelines on the meaning of communion could be an
early step toward limiting the serving of the eucharist to
politicians who support abortion rights.
The vote to create guidelines on the meaning of Communion came
after a 3½-hour emotional discussion Thursday at the annual
spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Multiple bishops clashed over how, or if, they should single
out the church’s teaching on abortion. And if they should
single out politicians. The draft document about the meaning
of the Eucharist, a ritual that Catholicism teaches transforms
bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Jesus,
needed a simple majority vote. The measure passed 168 to 55,
with six abstentions.
[See May 10th 2021, below, re letter from Vatican. Also March
29th, 2021, below, re U.S. church membership falls below
majority for first time.]
‘Smokescreen Trolling,’ Trump Followers' Favorite Tactic.
(Wired, June 18, 2021)
Trumpists have weaponized a new technique to win the
ideological war. How pro-democracy voices respond to it
The true amplification concerns relate to what doesn’t
trend because of what is
trending. Ted Cruz dunkfests
are easy, fun, and satisfying. They sure can feel like
fighting the power. But that’s what makes them such an
Refuse to play their game, and insist on a different one
entirely—an approach that also helped counter subcultural
trolling. As cognitive linguist George Lakoff has suggested,
reframe the discussion away from what the Trumpists want
you to talk about and toward the deeper truths buried within
the stories that must be talked about. Describe the specific
actions they and other officials in their state have
undertaken to suppress the vote, reinforce white supremacy,
and threaten citizens’ freedoms. Particularly if a story is
already trending, responses that call attention to what
strategies and tactics are being used and why they’re being
used can help others understand how they’re being manipulated,
where they should be directing their attention instead, and
what is at stake.
Long as the Party Embraces Trump, It’s Going to Have
(Politico, June 18, 2021)
The Republican collapse in Michigan’s Oakland County, once a
stronghold, was a long time coming. It’s the story of how
demographic trends are changing America’s suburbs, not simply
in making them more diverse, but in making them more highly
educated at the same time educational attainment has become a
defining predictor of how Americans vote. It’s the story of
how the GOP playbook—which often defaults to the tactic of
demonizing cities as bastions of out-of-touch liberal
elites—has missed an important shift: Suburbs aren’t at war
with their cities any longer, and claiming they are has
alienated potential Republican voters. Is losing these suburbs
a warning light for Trumpism?
Acceleration of Coastal Overtopping Around the World – By Up
(SciTechDaily, June 18, 2021)
By combining satellite data and digital models, the
researchers have shown that coastal overtopping, and
consequently the risk of flooding, is set to further
accelerate over the 21st century, by up to 50-fold under a
high emission global warming scenario, especially in the
tropics. This increase is principally caused by a combination
of sea-level rise and ocean waves.
Wave the White Flag on Health Care (for Now).
Times, June 18, 2021)
For six election cycles, Republicans and Democrats have
wielded the health care law as a political cudgel, battering
their opponents over an issue that consistently topped the
list of concerns for American voters. But now, after more than
70 efforts to repeal or modify the law in Congress, three
Supreme Court rulings and nearly a dozen years, Republicans
may have finally run out of firepower.
The Supreme Court’s latest ruling moved the country’s debate
over health policy into a new phase. Tough questions await
Encryption for Data Communication: Researchers Take Quantum
Key Distribution Out of the Lab.
(SciTechDaily, June 18,
In a new study, researchers demonstrate an automated,
easy-to-operate quantum key distribution (QKD) system using
the fiber network in the city of Padua, Italy. The field test
represents an important step toward implementing this highly
secure quantum communication technology using the type of
communication networks already in place in many regions around
the world. QKD offers impenetrable encryption for data
communication because it uses the quantum properties of light
to generate secure random keys for encrypting and decrypting
tells Fox News he ‘didn’t win’ election but doesn’t drop
(The Guardian, June 17, 2021)
Ex-president says, "We got 75m votes and we didn’t win but
let’s see what happens" seven months after election called.
"Fraudit": Voting data taken to so-called 'lab' in remote
(4-min. video; CNN, June 17, 2021)
CNN's Gary Tuchman takes a closer look why Arizona voting data
has been taken by truck to a property near Bigfork, Montana.
Gosar's brother calls him out: Pathological liar.
(6-min. video; CNN, June 17, 2021)
Tim and David Gosar, brothers of Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), sound
off on their brother for his comments regarding the officers
working during the Capitol riot.
and Repub senators propose tax credits for factories that
churn out chips on US soil.
(The Register, June 17,
The bipartisan Facilitating American-Built Semiconductors
(FABS) Act [PDF] was backed by Senate Finance Committee Chair
Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID). It’s
the latest piece of legislation proposed by Congress aimed at
incentivizing the production of semiconductors in the United
States as the world grapples with a global shortage of
electronics components and materials to build everything from
cars to video game consoles. The FABS Act could help bolster
US supply chains, meaning businesses would have to rely less
on foreign manufacturers, particularly those across East Asia,
and be able to more easily secure the kit they need.
Chip production in America has fallen from 37 per cent of
global output to 12 per cent over the past two decades as
companies manufacture parts abroad because it's cheaper,
according to the pair of senators. As much as 70 per cent of
the cost difference for producing semiconductors overseas is
driven by foreign subsidies, rather than comparative
advantages. The senators’ bill would close that gap by
incentivizing production of semiconductors in the United
a human-less, AI robot Mayflower ship sailing from
the UK to US right now.
(The Register, June 17, 2021)
Follow this Plymouth to Plymouth trip online.
Is a Songbird, Exactly?
(Audubon Magazine, June 17,
Turns out it’s about more than just carrying a tune.
Delta Variant Could Create “Two Americas” Of COVID, Experts
(BuzzFeed News, June 17, 2021)
If you are fully vaccinated, you are most likely to be safe.
But in parts of the US where few people have gotten COVID
vaccine shots, the Delta variant could trigger renewed deadly
[See the graph near the end of this good/sad article!]
the U.S. Have Saved More Lives? 5 Alternate Scenarios for
the Vaccine Rollout.
(New York Times, June 17, 2021)
About 100,000 people have died of Covid in the United States
since February, after vaccine distribution was well underway.
Power of a Sustainable Investment Dollar
Capitalist, June 17, 2021)
Investing legend Benjamin Graham has compared the stock market
to a "voting machine". Just as consumers vote with their
purchasing decisions, investors vote with their investment
In the long term, meanwhile, the market can be compared to a
weighing machine. The market recognizes companies that improve
their intrinsic value over time.
stopped? Ransomware gang loses Tesla and other treasures in
(6-min. Ukranian video; Malwarebytes, June
Ukrainian law enforcement officials announced Wednesday that
they had arrested several individuals involved in criminal
activity committed by the Clop ransomware gang, a
cybercriminal gang that helped popularize the “double
extortion” model of not only threatening to encrypt a victim’s
files, but also threatening to release confidential data that
was stolen in an earlier breach. The Clop ransomware gang has
caused roughly $500 million in financial damages, and the
individuals arrested could face up to eight years in prison.
South Korea and USA assisted in the investigation.
None of the actual members of the Clop ransomware gang were
caught. Instead, the arrests involved money launderers. The
core actors behind CLOP are probably living in Russia.
court ruling against Shell and votes against Exxon and
Chevron add pressure, but it’s the market that will drive
oil giants to change.
(The Conversation, June 16, 2021)
From news reports, it might sound like the fossil fuel
industry is on the defensive after a landmark court ruling and
two shareholder votes challenging the industry’s resistance to
curbing its greenhouse gas emissions.
But how much power do decisions like these really carry when
it comes to pressuring the industry to change? As an academic
who studies climate finance and is familiar with climate
litigation, I think there’s something else at work here.
in stereo – the real reason snakes have flicking, forked
(The Conversation, June 16, 2021)
Each tip delivers to its own vomeronasal organ separately,
allowing the snake’s brain to assess instantly which side has
the stronger smell. Snakes have two tongue tips for the same
reason you have two ears – it provides them with directional
or “stereo” smell with every flick – a skill that turns out to
be extremely useful when following scent trails left by
potential prey or mates.
Chemical Origins of Life: What Is Life? And Will We Find It
on Other Planets?
(8-min. video; SciTechDaily, June 16,
Chemistry is helping us figure out how life got started on
Earth and is giving us molecules to look for on other planets.
In this episode of Reactions, we break down what “life” is and
how likely we are to find it out in the cosmos.
Cannot Cheat Aging and Death: New Insights Into “Invariant
Rate of Aging Hypothesis”.
(SciTechDaily, June 16, 2021)
The researchers analyzed the relationship between life
expectancy, this is the average age at which individuals die
in a population, and lifespan equality, which measures how
concentrated deaths are around older ages. Their results show
that, as life expectancy increases, so does lifespan equality.
So, lifespan equality is very high when most of the
individuals in a population tend to die at around the same age
such as observed in modern Japan or Sweden – which is around
their 70s or 80s. However, in the 1800s lifespan equality was
very low in those same countries, since deaths were less
concentrated at old ages, resulting also in lower life
Life expectancy has increased dramatically and still does in
many parts of the world. But this is not because we have
slowed our rate of aging; the reason is that more and more
infants, children and young people survive.
Federal Judge Says Biden Cannot Pause New Leases for
Drilling on Public Lands.
(New York Times, June 15,
President Biden suspended new oil and gas drilling leases on
federal lands. A judge in Louisiana ruled those leases could
not be temporarily halted.
The Biden administration’s decision to review air pollution
limits is one in a string of reversals it has made to
Trump-era environmental decisions, which were themselves
reversals of Obama administration actions. The Trump
administration repealed or weakened more than 100
environmental rules or laws, loosening or eliminating rules on
climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining,
oil drilling and endangered species protections.
there be light! New tech to revolutionize night vision.
(Australian National University, June 15, 2021)
Ultra-thin film could one day be used on reading glasses.
is the journal article
NEW: Is Freenode Dead Yet?
(Is Freenode Dead Yet?, June 15, 2021)
[Freenode.com now has nothing to do with FOSS. The one that
did is now at Libera.com .]
Cox Richardson: How hard former president Trump worked to
overturn the 2020 election and retain an illegal grip on
(Letters From An American, June 15, 2021)
This morning, the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee
released a series of emails and documents that show just how
hard former president Trump worked to overturn the 2020
election and retain an illegal grip on power.
On December 14, 2020, which was the day electors in each state
certified the votes of the Electoral College, then-president
Trump’s assistant wrote an email to then–Deputy Attorney
General Jeffrey Rosen talking about alleged voter fraud in
Michigan. The email was titled “From POTUS”—that is, from the
President of the United States—and it included a long list of
talking points to offer about why the votes should not be
certified. That email had a number of documents that allegedly
proved voter fraud.
Minutes after that email went out, another Justice Department
official, Richard Donoghue, sent the same documents to the
U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts of
Michigan. Forty minutes later, then-president Trump tweeted
that Attorney General William Barr would be stepping down and
would be replaced by Rosen. Donoghue would become Rosen’s
[And that's just the beginning! Heather's documentation, as
usual, is excellent.]
Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who
defended Capitol on Jan. 6th.
(The Hill, June 15, 2021)
The House passed legislation on Tuesday to award Congressional
Gold Medals — one of the highest civilian honors — to police
officers who defended the Capitol during the violent Jan. 6
insurrection. Lawmakers handily passed the legislation. Both
parties supported it, 406-21, with all of the votes in
opposition coming from conservative Republicans.
wasn’t just politics that led to Netanyahu’s ouster – it was
fear of his demagoguery.
(The Conversation, June 15,
It is not simply a result of individual grievances and
political ambitions that Netanyahu can no longer appease or
politically buy off his rivals. Nor is it just because they no
longer believe any of his promises. As a scholar of Israeli
politics, I think that it is also, even primarily, because
Netanyahu has come to be seen as a danger to Israeli democracy
itself, just as former President Donald Trump was in the
more than a decade, Israelis wake up to a government without
(Washington Post, June 14, 2021)
A new, odds-defying unity government began laying the
groundwork Monday for an Israeli political scene that — for
the first time in 12 years — will be defined by factors beyond
Benjamin Netanyahu, his divisive rhetoric and his proclivity
for testing the country's democratic founding principles.
Immediately after a Sunday evening confidence vote in the
Knesset confirmed the new coalition government, demonstrations
for and against Netanyahu erupted on the streets, across
social media and in family and community WhatsApp groups. The
outpourings highlighted the sharp divide between those who
have long seen Netanyahu as “crime minister” — borderline
dictator, embroiled in corruption charges, willing to take the
country down with him — and those who see him as “King Bibi,”
the blameless victim of what he calls leftist “witch hunts.”
The unity government — which calls for right-wing former
defense minister Naftali Bennett to serve as prime minister
for two years before handing over the job to centrist Yair
Lapid — is composed of eight ideologically disparate parties
from the left, center and right, including, for the first time
in Israel’s history, an Islamist party from the country’s Arab
in Australia are burning their own crops.
Post, June 14, 2021)
You can’t get rid of the smell because they die in the walls."
The mice are invading homes. They’re destroying crops. They’re
chewing through appliances, sofas, cars — and livelihoods.
Baptist Convention’s focus on mission recalls history of
promoting white dominance.
(The Conversation, June 14,
Rocked by controversies, dwindling numbers and internal
divisions, the Southern Baptist Convention will meet for its
annual meeting on June 15.
A number of prominent leaders left the SBC over social issues.
In December 2020, several influential Black pastors from the
denomination departed after all six Southern Baptist
seminaries declared critical race theory – which analyzes
racism through the role of structures and institutions rather
than individual prejudices – to be incompatible with the
“Baptist Faith and Message” and antithetical to the Gospel. In
the spring, Beth Moore, a widely popular writer and speaker,
and Russell Moore, not related, who was until recently the
president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty
Commission, left the denomination over its handling of issues
including race, gender and sexual abuse. Whether these issues
are thoroughly addressed remains to be seen.
signals GOP would block Biden Supreme Court pick in '24.
(The Hill, June 14, 2021)
Official Resigning Amid Uproar Over Democrats’ Subpoenas.
(Huffington Post, June 14, 2021)
John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security
official, will leave his position by the end of next week. The
resignation comes amid questions about what Demers knew about
the Justice Department’s efforts to secretly seize the phone
data from House Democrats and reporters as part of the
aggressive investigations into leaks. Demers, who was sworn in
a few weeks after the subpoena for the Democrats’ records, is
a Trump appointee who has remained in the Biden
administration. He is one of the few remaining Trump
appointees still in office.
Demers will be replaced by Mark Lesko, the acting U.S.
attorney in the Eastern District of New York.
Trump is starving.
(New York Times, June 13, 2021)
The substitute for that applause? Deference. He demands it
every bit as much as he ever did and arguably grows more
furious than before when he’s denied it. That’s where the
personal and political narratives intersect. His demonisation
of Liz Cheney for crossing him, his denunciation of Paul Ryan
for dissing him and his savaging of any Republican who
challenges the Big Lie reflect a ruinous petulance that is
bound to wax, not wane, as his exile grinds on. As Jennifer
Senior wrote in a column in the Times in January about
repudiated narcissists, they “lurch between the role of victim
and tormentor,” “howl on and on about betrayal” and “lash out
with a mighty vindictiveness.”
Green’s portrait of Trump on the far side of the White House
mentions that he’s “taken to wearing the same outfit for days
on end.” It’s red (a MAGA hat), white (a golf shirt) and blue
(slacks), and its redundancy is open to interpretation. Has he
settled comfortably into a routine? Or has he sunk
uncomfortably into a rut?
I lean toward the latter, which is as dangerous for us as it
is for him. No good comes of an ego as ravenous as his. He
will make a meal of the Republican Party — and of American
democracy itself — if he can.
Trump throws fit of rage. Then, FBI secretly scores Apple
data on White House counsel.
(Daily Kos, June 13, 2021)
A New York Times piece revealed on Friday just how easy it was
for former President Donald Trump’s administration to get top
technology companies to supply data regarding congressional
Democrats. In short, getting the data was so easy it’s scary.
Apple told The New York Times when a gag order expired that
the newspaper received a grand jury subpoena on Feb. 6, 2018
that, although didn't seem out of the ordinary, was a request
for data regarding at least two Democratic members of Congress
as well as congressional workers and their families.
recordings, leaked letters: Explosive secrets rocking the
Southern Baptist Convention.
(Washington Post, June 12,
Demands for political loyalty. Disputes about racism. A fight
between conservatives and ultraconservatives. It sounds like
current debates within the Republican Party, but on Tuesday,
thousands of Southern Baptists will gather in Nashville to
vote on issues that will shape the massive denomination’s
future, including the choice of its next president. More than
16,000 people are expected to attend the denomination’s annual
meeting, probably the largest religious gathering since the
pandemic, as well as the biggest Baptist meeting in decades.
What is especially unusual about the meeting is infighting at
the highest levels of leadership that has become public in
recent weeks. New details released to news media outlets have
shined a light on the backroom dealings of several of its
FBI's Anom Stunt Rattles the Encryption Debate.
June 11, 2021)
The agency spent years running a secure phone network for
criminals. So much for “going dark.”
Omega-3 That’s Poison for Cancer Tumors
June 11, 2021)
3D tumors that disintegrate within a few days thanks to the
action of a well-known Omega-3 (DHA, found mainly in fish) —
this is the exceptional discovery by University of Louvain.
changer for battery tech? Aluminum-ion batteries soon to hit
consumer test market.
(Daily Kos, June 11, 2021)
A new battery tech is about to hit the markets for small-scale
consumer testing (later this year or early next year) that
could be a game-changer in many ways in our battery tech,
including for electric vehicles. The batteries, which are
aluminum-ion batteries, incorporate a graphene structure into
the battery structure. I don’t pretend to understand all the
ins and out of the science, but here are the claims for it —
and Graphene Manufacturing Group out of Brisbane is ready to
hit the market (on a small scale test market) with its first
batteries perhaps as soon as later this year.
Geophysicist Who Stormed the Capitol
(Politico, June 11,
Jeffrey Sabol lived in a quiet Colorado town and had some
doubts about government spending. On January 6, he was
photographed with a baton in his hand on the Capitol terrace.
How does someone cross the threshold from belief to action?
desperate for praise, is crashing memorial services down at
(Daily Kos, June 11, 2021)
In January, the 45th president left the country in the kind of
shambles he usually reserves for the companies and development
projects he’s involved in. Very quickly, it became apparent
that GOP leadership, while feinting to once again dismiss
Trump and return to their established forms of corruption,
were going to remain beholden to the Donald’s more blunt
version of Republican corruption. Heading down to his private
resort Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, stories have
steadily leaked out about Trump’s time spent trying not to end
up in jail in New York, where he faces serious investigations
into his business and campaign’s practices.
Love Letter to Putin Prior to Meeting with Biden is Utterly
Demented - and Treasonous.
(News Corpse, June 11, 2021)
In his latest statement from exile, Donald Trump has made it
abundantly clear where his loyalty lies (with an emphasis on
"lies"). And he simultaneously confirmed just how deeply
consumed he is by the patently insane paranoia he's been
peddling for the past four years.
Schiff calls for investigation after report of his phone
records being seized by Trump DOJ.
(Politico, June 10,
Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee,
called for an inspector general investigation of the Trump
Justice Department on Thursday after a report said that his
phone records, along with those of aides and another member of
the committee, had been seized — what he condemned as a
“terrible abuse of power.” “It also makes the Department of
Justice just a fully owned subsidiary of the president’s
personal legal interests and political interests,” the
California Democrat told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
The Department of Justice hunted for leakers behind the
distribution of classified information early in the Trump
administration, prosecutors — in an extraordinary move —
subpoenaed Apple for communications data of at least two
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as that
of aides and a family member. One was a child. In the end, the
data didn’t tie the committee to the leaks, and there were
discussions about dropping the investigation, according to the
report. But a year later, William Barr, after becoming
attorney general, revitalized the investigation, moving around
department employees to work on the Schiff case.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed Schiff’s call for an
investigation, calling the Times report “harrowing.” “These
actions appear to be yet another egregious assault on our
democracy waged by the former president,” Pelosi said in a
statement. “I support Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam
Schiff’s call for an investigation into this situation and
other acts of the weaponization of law enforcement by the
former president. Transparency is essential.”
Leaks, Trump Officials Focused on Democrats in Congress.
(New York Times, June 10, 2021)
As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of
classified information early in the Trump administration, it
took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for
data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House
Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a
All told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the
committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those
of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the
panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman
companies make $17.5 billion a year off of underage
drinking, while prevention efforts are starved for cash.
(The Conversation, June 10, 2021)
Alcohol is still the most commonly used drug among high school
students. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, every year approximately 3,500 people under 21 die
because of alcohol use. I have studied the relationship
between alcohol marketing and youth drinking behavior for the
past 20 years. In 2011, my colleagues and I performed what to
our knowledge was the first and only survey of what specific
brands of alcohol underage people drink. We asked 1,032 young
drinkers about 898 brands of alcohol to learn what the
underage alcohol market looks like.
In a new paper published on June 9, 2021, my colleagues and I
combined our survey data with the latest information available
about alcohol consumption among adults to estimate the percent
of all alcohol sold in the U.S. that was consumed by young
people. Then, we were able to calculate how much money
underage drinkers are spending and, importantly, which
companies are making this money.
company pulls plug on Keystone XL Pipeline.
video; AP, June 10, 2021)
A 12-year attempt to build a massive oil pipeline from the
Canadian oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico is dead after the
company behind Keystone XL decided to pull the plug on the
strong enough to protect airplanes from lightning strikes,
light enough to create performance skis.
University, June 10, 2021)
By aligning short, vertical fibers throughout the material
instead of layering long, tenuous fibers horizontally, like
the fibers in wood, Boston Materials has produced a new type
of carbon fiber that is stronger and lighter than other carbon
The added bonus? Boston
Materials uses 100 percent reclaimed materials, an
impressive statistic especially in an industry that
creates so much waste.
to Review Rules on Soot Linked to Deaths, Which Trump
Declined to Tighten.
(New York Times, June 10, 2021)
The Biden administration says it will consider tougher limits
on a deadly air pollutant that disproportionately affects
low-income and minority communities.
The Biden administration’s decision to review air pollution
limits is one in a string of reversals it has made to
Trump-era environmental decisions, which were themselves
reversals of Obama administration actions. The Trump
administration repealed or weakened more than 100
environmental rules or laws, loosening or eliminating rules on
climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining,
oil drilling and endangered species protections.
(Damn Interesting, June 10, 2021)
The British island of Montserrat is sometimes called ‘The
Emerald Isle of the Caribbean’ for its verdancy and early
Irish settlers. However, far from a paradise, Montserrat also
boasts an unfortunate history.
more upbeat article
what I tell teachers about how to teach young students about
(The Conversation, June 10, 2021)
Nervous. Concerned. Worried. Wary. Unprepared. This is how
middle and high school teachers have told me they have felt
over the past few years when it comes to teaching the
troublesome topic of slavery. Although I work with teachers in
Massachusetts, their reaction to teaching about slavery is
common among teachers throughout the U.S.
Fortunately, in recent years there have been a growing number
of individuals who have weighed in with useful advice.
the History of U.S. Inflation Over 100 Years
Capitalist, June 10, 2021)
Throughout U.S. history. there have been periods of high
inflation. At least four distinct periods of high inflation
have emerged between 1800 and 2010.
Escape At Dunkirk
(53-min. video; PBS/NOVA, June 9,
As France fell to the German armies in May 1940, 400,000
Allied troops were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk.
The troops’ annihilation seemed certain—a disaster that could
have led to Britain’s surrender. But then, in a last-minute
rescue, Royal Navy ships and a flotilla of tiny civilian boats
evacuated hundreds of thousands of soldiers to safety across
the Channel—the legendary “miracle of Dunkirk.”
quantum microscope can image incredibly small biological
(UPI, June 9, 2021)
Researchers in Australia have engineered a new microscope,
powered by quantum entanglement, or what Einstein called
"spooky interaction," that can observe previously invisible
biological structures. The technology, described Wednesday in
the journal Nature, could inspire breakthroughs in
navigational and biomedical imaging technologies. Quantum
entanglement describes the inextricable link between multiple
particles, whereby the measure or manipulation of one particle
is observed in the others, regardless of time or location.
is tiring of the ‘don’t blame hacked companies’ line.
(Washington Post, June 9, 2021)
The Colonial attack disrupted U.S. gas supplies and prompted
panic buying in the southeastern United States. The company
paid hackers from the DarkSide ransomware gang $4.4 million to
unlock their computers, much of which was later recouped by
the Justice Department.
Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount will today face his second
round of congressional grilling from lawmakers who are clearly
frustrated with the private sector’s slow pace in getting its
cybersecurity up to snuff. Blount’s company, which suffered a
devastating ransomware attack last month, has vowed to close
any remaining gaps in its cyber protections. But even
business-friendly lawmakers are wearying of such commitments
to cybersecurity that come after a major attack.
malware steals 26M passwords from 3M PCs. Are you affected?
(Ars Technica, June 9, 2021)
Massive trove can be used for ransomware, espionage, and more.
moment of integrity so enraged Fox News’ fans, they gave it
a final shove into the abyss.
(Daily Kos, June 9, 2021)
Fox News surprised everyone—including their own Donald
Trump-loving viewers—on Election Night last November by
calling the race in Arizona for Joe Biden before the other
networks, who waited several days to do the same. It seemed
the longtime wellspring of right-wing disinformation might
actually be displaying some journalistic integrity, at last.
It didn’t last long. The Trump White House erupted in fury, as
did millions of Trump fans, who popularized a #BoycottFoxNews
hashtag on social media. Its ratings briefly plummeted. In the
months since, the executives behind the decision were given
ends infrastructure negotiations with Republican senators.
(16-min. video; CBS News, June 9, 2021)
President Biden has ended negotiations with Senator Shelley
Moore Capito and Republicans over infrastructure legislation,
telling Capito Tuesday that the latest GOP offer didn't "meet
the essential needs of our country" to fix roads and bridges,
prepare the nation for a future reliant on clean energy and
details behind the low tax rates on the wealthy
York Times, June 9, 2021)
To take one example, Bezos’s wealth soared by $120 billion
from 2006 to 2018, and his federal taxes during that time
amounted to only 1.09 percent of the wealth gain. The
situation for the average household was radically different:
Its taxes amounted to more than 100 percent of its wealth
A central reason that very wealthy people can avoid taxes is
that the U.S. system taxes only so-called realized gains —
like wages or stock sales. But the wealthy often live off
unrealized gains — in the form of stocks and other assets that
grow more valuable over time. The wealthy borrow against these
assets to pay for houses, islands and private planes and then
use a variety of strategies to avoid paying taxes on the debt
super-rich 'pay almost no income tax'.
(BBC News, June
The website alleges Amazon's Mr. Bezos paid no tax in 2007 and
2011, while Tesla's Mr. Musk paid nothing in 2018.
A White House spokeswoman called the leak "illegal", and the
FBI and tax authorities are investigating.
President Joe Biden has vowed to increase tax on the richest
Americans as part of a mission to improve equality and raise
money for his massive infrastructure investment programme. He
wants to raise the top rate of tax, double the tax on what
high earners make from investments, and change inheritance
tax. However, ProPublica's analysis concluded: "While some
wealthy Americans, such as hedge fund managers, would pay more
taxes under the current Biden administration proposals, the
vast majority of the top 25 would see little change."
Analysis: What's going wrong here? Let's take a very
simplified analysis. If the shares I own in the company I
founded are worth £1bn at the beginning of the tax year and
rise to a value of £2bn by the end of the tax year - how much
income tax do I owe? Easy - zero. Because while I am twice as
rich, I received zero income.
On the other hand, if I have zero assets, and I make £30,000
in income, I will pay roughly £6,000 in income tax and
national insurance. That's why the revelations that some of
the richest Americans paid little or no income tax may provoke
outrage but should not come as a surprise. It's not comparing
apples with apples.
That's not to say these super rich folks have no money coming
in to pay their yacht bills. There is a widespread tactic
employed by the rich to borrow cash secured against their vast
wealth - which again is not income - it's proceeds of a loan
and here's the (perfectly legal) biscuit-taking bit. The
interest on that loan can be deducted from any other income to
further reduce income tax liability. It sounds egregious - but
(in the USA) it's legal.
Small wonder that many politicians around the world (Elizabeth
Warren in the US and Jeremy Corbyn/John McDonnell in the UK)
and academics such as Thomas Piketty have argued that we need
a way to tax wealth, not income.
Energy confirms termination of Keystone XL Pipeline Project.
(TC Energy, June 9, 2021)
Through the process, we developed meaningful Indigenous equity
opportunities and a first-of-its-kind, industry leading plan
to operate the pipeline with net-zero emissions throughout its
lifecycle. We will continue to identify opportunities to apply
this level of ingenuity across our business going forward,
including our current evaluation of the potential to power
existing U.S. assets with renewable energy.
Official: the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Will Never Be
(Sierra Club, June 9, 2021)
Today, 13 years after it was first proposed, TC Energy
announced that the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is
officially terminated. Keystone XL would have carried 830,000
gallons per day of the dirtiest oil on the planet from the
Alberta tar sands through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska,
threatening farmland, critical water resources, and wildlife
habitat along the way. Since it was proposed in 2008, the
pipeline has faced massive opposition from landowners, Tribes,
and communities along its proposed route and nationwide. One
of President Biden’s first actions in office was rescinding
Trump’s illegal “presidential permit” for the project.
Stein Defends Julian Assange at Boston Rally.
(Green-Rainbow Party, June 9, 2021)
Stein reported, "Assange is imprisoned in the United Kingdom
after revealing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The
Trump administration demanded his extradition to the US on
espionage charges; the Biden administration has followed the
same course. Assange is a journalist, not a spy. Assange is a
political prisoner. It is the US empire that should be in
criminal court. The founders of the United States realized
that a free press was essential to a peoples' democracy."
Americans—Including Bezos, Musk And Buffett—Paid Federal
Income Taxes Equaling Just 3.4% Of $401 Billion In New
Wealth, Bombshell Report Shows
. (Forbes, June 8, 2021)
According to ProPublica’s analysis, billionaire investor
Warren Buffett, an advocate of higher taxes on the rich, saw
his wealth grow by more than $24 billion from 2014 to 2018 and
paid a true tax rate of 0.10%—a reflection of the fact that he
reported just $125 million in income during that period, makes
large charitable contributions and (since he pays himself a
minimal salary), most of his income comes in the form of
lower-taxed capital gains.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos paid a true tax rate of
0.98% as his wealth grew by a staggering $99 billion between
2014 and 2018; he reported just $4.22 billion in reported
income during the same period.
As Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla, saw his wealth
balloon by $13.9 billion between 2014 and 2018, he reported
$1.52 billion in income and paid a true tax rate of 3.27%.
Cox Richardson: Wealthy Don't Pay Fair Share
From An American, June 8, 2021)
The Republican position took a hit this morning, when
ProPublica published an investigation based on leaked tax
documents. It revealed that America’s 25 richest people—some
with more than $100 billion in wealth—pay remarkably little in
federal income taxes…sometimes nothing. They can avoid taxes
through various accounting methods, while ordinary Americans
pay full fare.
Also this morning, Biden tweeted: “I’m working hard to find
common ground with Republicans when it comes to the American
Jobs Plan, but I refuse to raise taxes on Americans making
under $400,000 a year to pay for it. It’s long past time for
the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share.”
Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal
How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.
ProPublica has obtained a vast cache of IRS information
showing how billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren
Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive
wealth — sometimes, even nothing. It demolishes the
cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone
pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most.
The IRS records show that the wealthiest can — perfectly
legally — pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of
the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow
charged with impersonating Trump to defraud hundreds.
(ABC News, June 8, 2021)
Joshua Hall is charged with fraud and identity theft.
[But which is the greater fraud, and the lesser harm to
Final Stages of the Con: Donald Trump, Stolen Elections, and
(Ordinary Times, June 8, 2021)
The Trump election fraud claim is something far more insidious
than the standard-issue “they stole our votes” cry of the
defeated. It did, after all, culminate in an open attack on
the Capitol to try to overturn the election. It is a claim
that is not fading but being amplified by an increasing number
of Republicans, becoming a litmus test in primaries. The
Republicans just ousted their third most powerful
Congress-critter because she had the temerity to say that
Donald Trump was full of it.
I can certainly see why grifters like Rudy Giuliani and Sydney
Powell are making this claim. There’s money to be made by
promoting these claims — the Trump campaign itself pulled in a
quarter of a billion dollars with this scam. But why do
rank-and-file Republicans believe this. Is it because they’re
stupid? They’re no more stupid than anyone else. Is it because
they’re deluded by Fox News? Most of them don’t watch it. No,
I think it’s something more basic. Something that goes back to
every con artist that slithered down the pike.
It’s because they don’t want to believe they were fooled.
reopening that’s not for everyone.
(New York Times, June
Following a surge in anti-Asian attacks during the pandemic,
many Asian Americans say they fear being attacked if they
venture back to normal life. Some people are still avoiding
public transportation, while others are staying away from
restaurants or dreading the end of remote work. Some Asian
American parents are keeping their children at home out of
concern for their safety: Just 18 percent of Asian American
fourth graders have returned to in-person learning, compared
with three-fourths of their white peers.
The police have recorded a nearly 150 percent rise in attacks
against Asian Americans during the pandemic, many of them
targeting women and older people. Activists and elected
officials say that these attacks were fueled early on in the
pandemic by former President Donald Trump, who frequently used
racist language when referring to the coronavirus.
discover nearby exoplanet with substantial atmosphere.
(UPI, June 8, 2021)
Astronomers have discovered a temperate, sub-Neptune-sized
exoplanet orbiting a nearby M dwarf star. Initial observations
of the Earth-like planet, described Wednesday in the
Astronomical Journal, suggest the alien world boasts a
substantial atmosphere -- which is sure to inspire followup
studies for years to come.
helicopter sand-blasts indigenous pipeline protestors.
(Heated World, June 8, 2021)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s core mission is “to
secure the nation from the many threats we face,” according to
the agency’s website. “Our duties are wide-ranging, and our
goal is clear—keeping America safe.”
One of the ways DHS tried to keep America safe yesterday was
by sand-blasting indigenous Americans attempting to defend
their treaty-protected land from a Canadian oil company’s tar
sands pipeline project.
Pipeline CEO faces grilling about ransomware attack.
(2-min. video; ABC News, June 8, 2021)
It comes a day after the Justice Department seized millions in
seizes millions in ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline.
1:50 in 3-min. video; ABC News, June 7, 2021)
The Justice Department recovered some of the ransom paid to
Countries Have the World’s Largest Proven Oil Reserves?
(chart; Visual Capitalist, June 7, 2021)
Though most of the proven oil reserves in the world were
historically considered to be centered in the Middle East, in
the past three decades their share of global oil reserves has
dropped, from over 60% in 1992 to about 48% in 2019. One of
the main reasons for this drop was constant oil production and
greater reserves discovered in the Americas. By 2012, Central
and South America’s share had more than doubled and has
remained just under 20% in the years since.
While oil sands ushered in a new era of global oil reserve
domination, as the world shifts away from oil consumption and
towards green energy and electrification, these reserves might
not matter as much in the future as they once did.
Justice Department Seeks to Defend Trump in Suit Over Rape
(New York Times, June 7, 2021)
Donald Trump is facing a defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean
Carroll, who has accused Mr. Trump of raping her.
begin to unravel the mysteries of the coronavirus and
(4-min. video; Washington Post, June 7, 2021)
Patients reported visual and auditory disturbances, vertigo
and tingling sensations, among other perplexing symptoms. Some
lost their sense of smell, or their vision became distorted.
Weeks or months after the initial onset of symptoms, some
remain convinced after even a mild bout of the coronavirus of
persistent “brain fog.”
Science Behind Superfoods: Mangoes, Honey and Spices Could
Bring Important Health Benefits.
(SciTechDaily, June 7,
Spicing up your diet could help lower blood pressure.
Nanoparticles contribute to honey’s anti-inflammatory
benefits. Snacking on mangoes could help lower chronic disease
risk. Ginger, cinnamon and turmeric supplements linked with
rotifer reanimated after 24,000 years in the Arctic tundra.
(UPI, June 7, 2021)
Recently, researchers at the Soil Cryology Lab -- part of the
Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil
Science, located in Russia -- reanimated a Bdelloid rotifer
that had been frozen in Siberian permafrost for 24,000 years.
Rotifers are tiny worm-like animals than can extend and
retract their bodies, which are organized around a spherical
digestive tract. Rotifers have been around for millions of
years and are estimated to be some of the oldest asexually
reproducing animals in the world.
The rotifer that scientists brought back to life in the Soil
Cryology Lab belongs to the genus Adineta
. Not long
after being thawed, the animal began to reproduce asexually
via a clonal process called parthenogenesis. Scientists have
previously revived nem.
atodes and grown plants from seeds found frozen in
30,000-year-old permafrost. Now, scientists have evidence that
rotifers are equally hardy.
Crater of Diamonds
(NASA Earth Observatory, June 7,
About 36 million years ago, an asteroid slammed into northern
Siberia and created one of the largest craters on Earth.
Streaking in at an estimated speed of 20 kilometers (12 miles)
per second, the asteroid made an impact that ejected millions
of metric tons of material into the air. The asteroid—between
5 and 8 kilometers (3 to 5 miles) wide—created a crater nearly
100 kilometers (60 miles) in diameter. Popigai Crater is the
fourth largest verified impact crater on Earth.
to keep cool without turning on the A/C
University, June 7, 2021)
What if buildings could stay cool all on their own—no
electricity required? That’s the premise of a new kind of
Crystalline Form of Silicon Could Enable Next-Gen Electronic
and Energy Devices.
(SciTechDaily, June 7, 2021)
Silicon plays an outsized role in human life. It is the second
most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. When mixed with
other elements, it is essential for many construction and
infrastructure projects. And in pure elemental form, it is
crucial enough to computing that the longstanding
technological hub of the U.S.—California’s Silicon Valley—was
nicknamed in honor of it.
Strobel’s lab had previously developed a revolutionary new
form of silicon, called Si24, which has an open framework
composed of a series of one-dimensional channels. In this new
work, Shiell and Strobel led a team that used Si24 as the
starting point in a multi-stage synthesis pathway that
resulted in highly oriented crystals in a form called
4H-silicon, named for its four repeating layers in a hexagonal
structure. “Interest in hexagonal silicon dates back to the
1960s, because of the possibility of tunable electronic
properties, which could enhance performance beyond the cubic
form” Strobel explained.
Telescope on an Airplane – SOFIA – Offers New Way to Study
(NASA, June 6, 2021)
[Not so new; I was measuring atmospheric absorption spectra in
the late 1960s, from a Boeing NC-135.]
News declines to air ad about Jan. 6 insurrection at the
(Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2021)
“We couldn’t have fathomed in our wildest imaginations that
even a Fox News would reject an ad that simply condemns the
insurrection, and condemns people who support the
insurrection,” said Ben Meiselas, one of the co-founders of
MeidasTouch, the liberal Political Action Committee that
created the 60-second ad.
“What Fox has really
become is a fascist echo chamber gatekeeper for their base.”
Hossenfelder: Why do we see things that aren't there?
(8-min. video; BackReAction, June 5, 2021)
Our brains are pattern detectors. If you’ve seen one thing,
it’ll tell you if you come across similar things.
Psychologists call this apophenia, we see connections between
unrelated things. These connections are not +wrong, but
they’re not particularly meaningful. That we see these
connections, therefore, tells us more about the brain than
about the things that our brain connects.
Cox Richardson: Trump vs. Eisenhower
(Letters from an
American, June 5, 2021)
A stunning contrast between today and June 5, 1944.
Says He May Never See Trump ‘Eye to Eye’ on Capitol Riot.
(1-min. video; New York Times, June 4, 2021)
Former Vice President Mike Pence’s speech illustrated the
careful balance he is aiming to strike in squaring the
rhetoric of the Republican Party under former President Donald
J. Trump while standing by his opposition to Mr. Trump’s
attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Offers Resignation Over Church Sexual Abuse.
video; Reuters, June 4, 2021)
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a leading figure in Germany’s Roman
Catholic Church, said on Friday that he had offered his
resignation to share in taking collective responsibility for
sexual abuses by priests.
Data - and what it means to make information tangible
(14-min. video; PBS, June 4, 2021)
It can be difficult to imagine numbers or get a sense of what
they mean. Thankfully, there are experts—like statistician and
nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, and modern-day data
journalist Mona Chalabi—whose job it is to make these numbers
storm: Fraud is skyrocketing coming out of pandemic.
(ZDNet, June 4, 2021)
Android users experienced 1.9 times more fraud than iOS users.
Have a Week to Opt-Out of Amazon Sidewalk, Do It Now.
(Gizmodo, June 4, 2021)
Users of Amazon Ring and Echo have only about a week to
opt-out of the tech giant’s sketchy new IoT service, Sidewalk.
The feature goes live on June 8th and promises to share an
encrypted sliver of your home network with the networks of
other nearby Amazon IoT device users as a way to “improve
services.” Unless you specifically tell it not to, Amazon will
automatically enroll you in Sidewalk, which—it’s easy to
imagine—could lead to some potentially unwanted privacy and
security issues down the road.
will require video requests to be public in Neighbors app
starting next week.
(The Verge, June 3, 2021)
Ring says this new method provides greater transparency to
what public agencies are requesting, as all requests will now
be logged on the agency’s profile and reviewable by anyone
using the app. Agencies will not be able to remove or delete
the posts, according to Ring, though they can be marked as
“resolved.” Ring says it limits video clips requests to
“verified public safety agencies” and has a set of guidelines
that agencies must abide by in order to be able to request
It Takes to Run a Great Hybrid Meeting
Review, June 3, 2021)
As the pandemic eases and we resume gathering in person,
hybrid meetings will become a permanent part of how
organizations function. These meetings bring added complexity
at the same time that our collective Covid-driven year of
meeting virtually raised expectations for remote
investigating Postmaster General DeJoy over ex-employees'
(2-min. video; NBC News, June 3,
The investigation involves campaign contributions of employees
and activities at his former logistics company in North
These Are “Not” Political Ads.
(major report; Mozilla
Foundation, June 3, 2021)
As internet platforms continue to struggle with misleading and
opaque political advertising, TikTok has branded itself as an
outlier. The platform claims to have banned all political
advertising, and positions itself as far more transparent than
peers like Facebook and Google. But new research from Mozilla
reveals a different story: Loopholes, lax oversight, and new
forms of political advertising mean TikTok isn’t free from
QAnon Leader, Convicted Grifter, & Time-Traveling Liar
Wants You to Buy Her a Tesla.
(Daily Kos, June 3, 2021)
QAnon promotor, Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman, has a plan to
overturn the 2020 election and needs your money to do it. Her
legal strategy is simple. She claims vote-counting equipment
used in states across the country was ‘not properly
certified’. In her analysis, this allows aggrieved voters to
file “quo warranto” lawsuits. This arcane legal action
requires an officeholder to show “by what warrant an office or
franchise is held, claimed, or exercised”. If they can’t, they
can be replaced with a QAnon representative until a new
election is held.
It makes as much sense as Trump’s claim he will be reinstated
in August. But it does provide Maras-Lindeman with a steady
income. She has worked hard to develop her presence on the
gamer streaming site Twitch, which is a useful tool to
monetize paranoia. So far in 2021, she has raked in tens of
thousands of dollars (and a new Tesla).
Traveler and His Baggage
(Damn Interesting, June 3,
In Nazi-occupied Paris, “Dr. Eugène” offered Jews an
alternative to deportation, slavery, and death camps. But the
escape network was not what it seemed.
why Toyota converted this Corolla to hydrogen and went
(Ars Technica, June 3, 2021)
Part engineering exercise, part safety demonstration.
of Sharks Were Mysteriously Wiped Out and Never Recovered.
(Vice, June 3, 2021)
"They made it through the asteroid impacts, they've made it
through global warming, global cooling, and all sorts of
things. And yet this event that we didn't know about wiped out
90 percent of them."
rewire the genetics of E. coli, make it virus-proof.
(Ars Technica, June 3, 2021)
A revised genetic code is a pathway for bacteria to do things
that seem unnatural.
Illustrations of 18th-century Inoculations by the Inventor
of the Smallpox Vaccine
(Hyperallergic, June 3, 2021)
Both Edward Jenner's inoculation methods and the illustrations
he made of those he treated were groundbreaking.
Caffeine Consumption – From Coffee, Cola, or Energy Drinks –
Affects Brain Structure.
(SciTechDaily, June 2, 2021)
Coffee, cola or an energy drink: caffeine is the world’s most
widely consumed psychoactive substance. Researchers from the
University of Basel have now shown in a study that regular
caffeine intake can shrink the gray matter of the brain.
However, the effect appears to be temporary. The difference
was particularly striking in the right medial temporal lobe,
including the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is
essential to memory consolidation.
“Our results do not necessarily mean that caffeine consumption
has a negative impact on the brain,” emphasizes Reichert. “But
daily caffeine consumption evidently affects our cognitive
hardware, which in itself should give rise to further
studies.” She adds that in the past, the health effects of
caffeine have been investigated primarily in patients, but
there is also a need for research on healthy subjects.
THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
(53-min. video; PBS/NOVA, June 2,
As we excavate a 500-year-old
wreck, learn the secrets behind history’s great ships.
[We think this was a wonderful NOVA hour, and think A LOT of
you will agree. It's a grand combination of old sailing ships,
ship design, underwater archaeology, science and history! Good
(NASA Earth Observatory, June 2, 2021)
Since 1999, Earth Observatory has published images and stories
from all over our planet. Now you can explore more than 11,000
images in a different way: by location.
Far-Right Influencers Are Deleting Videos About Fake COVID
(Vice, June 2, 2021)
Researchers say thousands of COVID hoax videos—some from
accounts tied to President Bolsonaro—are disappearing from
YouTube after a government probe.
EU countries just got a digital vaccine passport.
Technology Review, June 2, 2021)
The European Union’s digital vaccine passport system went live
in seven countries yesterday, ahead of a full launch for all
27 member states on July 1. The document, called a digital
green certificate, shows whether someone has been fully
vaccinated against covid-19, recovered from the virus, or
tested negative within the last 72 hours. Travelers who can
prove they fit one of these three criteria are not required to
be tested or go into quarantine.
vows to advise candidates against future presidential
debates unless commission makes significant changes.
(CNN, June 2, 2021)
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel excoriated
the Commission on Presidential Debates in a letter on Tuesday,
threatening to advise any future Republican nominee against
participating in general election presidential debates unless
significant changes are made to the commission.
The letter is the latest example of the top Republican
committee litigating something that was a key concern for
former President Donald Trump during his time in the White
House. McDaniel argues that unless certain changes are made,
the committee will push all its future nominees to decline any
general election debates hosted by the nonpartisan commission.
[The liars are afraid they haven't already bent the rules
enough, and someone still might call their lies?]
Blog Shuts Down Weeks After Launch, Having Failed to Garner
(TruthOut, June 2, 2021)
A few months after Facebook and Twitter banned the former
president for inciting an attack on the Capitol, Donald Trump
started a blog so he could continue having a platform to
spread his screeds online. It was called “From the Desk of
Donald J. Trump” — and, as of Wednesday, it has officially
shuttered after less than a month since it was launched. Trump
spokesperson Jason Miller confirmed as such to CNBC on
Wednesday, claiming that the blog was merely “auxiliary” to
the former president’s goals. Miller declined to comment on
what those goals are, though he did clarify to The Washington
Post that Trump wanted the blog shuttered because it was
unpopular and being mocked.
[Shuttered, yes; unavailable, no. See its bragging about HIS
developing the COVID-19 vaccines, never mentioning his denial
of the pandemic, on
the Internet Archive
his predictions, Trump won't simply be reinstated as
(2-min. video; Yahoo, June 1, 2021)
While there is no constitutional or legal remedy to overturn
the results of an election once the Electoral College votes
have been certified by Congress, Trump appears to be betting
that the findings from highly partisan audits might somehow
convince enough people of his bogus claim that fraud cost him
None of the facts have seemed to deter Trump or his ardent
supporters from the mistaken belief that he will be restored
to power. How will this happen? At a QAnon conference held
over the weekend in Dallas titled "For God & Country
Patriot Roundup," some theories emerged.
suspends oil-drilling leases in Alaska's Arctic refuge.
(NBC News, June 1, 2021)
Republicans and the energy industry have long sought to open
the remote area, as Democrats, environmental groups and some
Alaska tribes have worked to keep it off-limits.
[Good! Will Biden undo the other dirty-fuel boondoggles in
time to avert increasing Climate Change?]
COVID-19 vaccination stats and more from Excel.
Watch, June 1, 2021)
We have a new COVID-19 statistics workbook with a new
automatically updating Excel spreadsheet that shows the latest
cases and vaccination rates by country and region.
next pandemic is already happening. Targeted disease
surveillance can help prevent it.
June 1, 2021)
As more and more people around the world are getting
vaccinated, one can almost hear the collective sigh of relief.
But the next pandemic threat is likely already making its way
through the population right now. Don’t wait for sick people
to show up at a hospital. Instead, monitor populations where
disease spillover actually happens.
Fauci’s pandemic emails: ‘All is well despite some crazy
people in this world.’
(Washington Post, June 1, 2021)
866 pages of Fauci’s emails were obtained by The Washington
Post as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. The
correspondence from March and April 2020 opens a window to
Fauci’s world during some of the most frantic days of the
crisis, when the longtime director of the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was struggling to bring
coherence to the Trump administration’s chaotic response to
the virus and President Donald Trump was seeking to minimize
its severity. The emails show Fauci was inundated with more
than 1,000 messages a day.
Arcane Manual Could Pave the Way to More Human-Friendly
(Wired, June 1, 2021)
For decades, the federal government has issued a guide for
designing streets. The
Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices
pages long (current 2009 edition) and has been around, in one
form or another, for 85 years. Activists want to make its
better for pedestrians and cyclists.
the World Ran Out of Everything
(New York Times, June 1,
In a time of extraordinary upheaval in the global economy,
Just In Time is running late. “It’s like supply chain run
amok. In a race to get to the lowest cost, I have concentrated
my risk. We are at the logical conclusion of all that.”
The most prominent manifestation of too much reliance on Just
in Time is found in the very industry that invented it:
Automakers have been crippled by a shortage of computer chips
— vital car components produced mostly in Asia. Without enough
chips on hand, auto factories from India to the United States
to Brazil have been forced to halt assembly lines. The breadth
and persistence of that and other shortages reveal the extent
to which the Just in Time idea has come to dominate commercial
Promises Tulsa Massacre Survivors Their Story Will Be ‘Known
in Full View’.
(New York Times, June 1, 2021)
The president, who has made racial equity and justice central
themes of his administration, was in Tulsa, Okla., to
commemorate a painful part of the country’s history.
A century after a white mob destroyed a vibrant African
American community in Tulsa, Okla., torching hundreds of homes
and indiscriminately shooting people in the streets, President
Biden told a crowd of survivors and their families that the
story of the massacre “will be known in full view.”
It was the first time a president visited the area to address
what had happened in Greenwood, a prosperous African American
community, which was one of the worst outbreaks of racist
violence in the United States but was largely ignored in
history books. “For much too long, the history of what took
place here was told in silence,” Mr. Biden said. “While
darkness can hide much, it erases nothing.”
marks Tulsa race massacre in emotional, graphic speech.
(AP News, June 1, 2021)
An emotional President Joe Biden marked the 100th anniversary
of the massacre that destroyed a thriving Black community in
Tulsa, declaring Tuesday that he had “come to fill the
silence” about one of the nation’s darkest — and long
suppressed — moments of racial violence. “Some injustices are
so heinous, so horrific, so grievous, they cannot
be buried, no matter how hard people try,”
Biden said. “Only with truth can come healing.”
Biden’s commemoration of the deaths of hundreds of Black
people killed by a white mob a century ago came amid the
current national reckoning on racial justice. “Just because
history is silent, it does not mean that it did not take
place,” Biden said. He said that “hell was unleashed. literal
hell was unleashed.” And now, he said, the nation must come to
grips with the following sin of denial. “We can’t just choose
what we want to know, and not what we should know,” said
Biden. “I come here to help fill the silence, because in
silence wounds deepen.”
foundation of the wealth’: Why Black Wall Street boomed.
(AP News, May 31, 2021)
On Monday, Tulsans commemorated the 100th anniversary of a
two-day assault by armed white men on Tulsa’s prosperous Black
community of Greenwood, known around the country as Black Wall
Street, calling attention to an era of deadly mob assaults on
Black communities that official history long suppressed.
But descendants of the freed Black people enslaved by Native
American nations who once owned much of the land under Tulsa,
say there’s another part of Black Wall Street’s history that
more Americans need to know about. It’s one that has important
lessons for contemporary racial issues in the United States,
including the long debated matter of reparations, descendants
and historians say. That bit of the story: where much of the
seed money that made Black Wall Street boom came from.
Texas Gov. Abbott Promises to Defund the Whole Legislative
Branch After Dems Kill Voting Bill.
(Houston Press, May
Gov. Greg Abbott was clearly still furious Memorial Day
afternoon following the death of Texas Republicans’ “election
integrity” bill at the hands of Texas House Democrats late
Sunday night. Abbott was so angry that House Dems were able to
block the passage of Senate Bill 7 — the controversial
election reforms Republicans tried to push
throug h following former President Donald
Trump’s unfounded voter fraud claims — that he vowed Monday
afternoon to use his line-item veto power over the
recently-passed state budget to cut all funding for the Texas
Legislature. “No pay for those who abandon their
responsibilities,” Abbott tweeted.
[But Republican fililbusters are okay?]
Democrats leave House floor, effectively blocking passage of
restrictive voting bill for now.
(CNN, May 31, 2021)
Texas Republicans' push to enact a slew of new voting
restrictions was stymied -- at least for now -- by Democrats
who walked off the state House floor late Sunday night,
leaving majority Republicans without the quorum they needed to
approve the bill in the final hours before a midnight
deadline. Their move effectively killed Senate Bill 7 for this
year's legislative session. Democrats left the chamber at
about 10:45 p.m., CT, leaving Republican Speaker Dade Phelan
to concede that the House did not have the 100 members
necessary for a quorum and to adjourn the House for the night.
Republicans in Texas had sought to join Florida, Georgia and
other GOP-controlled states that have seized on former
President Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election and
adopted new restrictions that will make it harder for some of
their residents to vote.
Democrats' decision to leave the House floor and block the
bill's passage came after hours of contentious debate --
including Republicans refusing to take questions from
Democrats about what the bill would do. "We used all the tools
in our toolbox to fight this bill, and tonight we pulled out
that last one," said Rep. Nicole Collier, who chairs the Texas
Legislative Black Caucus, during a midnight news conference at
a church in East Austin. "We are no longer going to stand and
let them continue to push measures that disenfranchise our
voters." Collier compared SB 7 to poll taxes and other laws
that have historically made it more difficult for Black and
Latino people to vote. "There's no widespread voter fraud. And
so for them to mislead all of Texas into believing that
there's an issue -- we're going to call them out for that,"
Collier said. "We may have won the war tonight, but the battle
is not over."
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer lambasted Abbott for failing to
call special sessions in the past over Hurricane Harvey, mass
shootings in the state, or the coronavirus pandemic, and said
the governor's willingness to call one to impose new voting
restrictions was purely about his own political ambitions. "We
will not participate in our own demise," Martinez Fischer
said. "You may have the votes on the floor, but we're all
equal in federal court."
Texas State Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat, defended the move by
his colleagues to CNN's John Berman on Monday and said
although Abbott has the ability to call a special session, "at
a certain point you have to draw a line and we've got to
decide what's right and what's wrong. What's wrong is to take
away the access to the ballot box, and all of us on the
Democratic side of the aisle that chose this path knew the
consequences, and we were willing to risk them."
Trump advisor Michael Flynn said the US should have a coup
like Myanmar, where the military overthrew the
democratically elected government.
May 30, 2021)
Flynn, who has become a prominent figure in the QAnon
conspiracy theory, was a main attraction at the event, held at
the Omni Hotel in Dallas. In a video shared on Twitter, an
attendee asks Flynn: "I want to know why what happened in
Myanmar can't happen here." The crowd immediately cheers,
followed by Flynn's response: "No reason. I mean, it should
QAnon communities have praised the Myanmar coup and endorsed
the idea that it should happen in the US, according to Media
Matters for America.
In 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his
communications with Russia. He later accused the Justice
Department of entrapment and moved to withdraw his guilty
plea. In November, Trump pardoned him.
documents show Google intentionally hid privacy controls.
(Android Police, May 30, 2021)
And told phone makers to hide them, and collected location
data from alternate sources, and just all kinds of bad stuff.
the pandemic receding, you shouldn’t rush to move beyond
your experiences of the past year.
(Washington Post, May
We’re not a society that’s programmed for reflection. It’s as
if we’re always looking forward or we’re always staying so
busy, or focusing on acquisition of experience or of time or
of status or of money. . . . It’s always a forward motion.
In looking back, I could see more clearly a surprising comfort
in being home, and not on a train, plane or automobile as I
usually had been. I called it what it was: the gift of time
and place. My late grandmother always liked to say, “Busy
people are happy people.” While that may be true, I could also
understand that happy people do not need to be busy people. I
had to stand still and remove many of my daily distractions to
There’s a really big difference between taking a psychic break
from pain and blocking it, [which] creates more anxiety.
Indigenous Children Found Buried at Canadian Residential
School: Family Trauma Lasts.
(Daily Kos, May 29, 2021)
The abuse endured in these institutions by the children was
horrific; emotional, starvation, death by neglect and disease,
sexual, forced labor, physical.
[Also see, Death
(The Atlantic, March 8, 2019),
commemorating the 200th anniversary of the US
Civilization Fund Act
G.O.P. Blocks Inquiry, Questions on Jan. 6 Attack May Go
(New York Times, May 29, 2021)
The demise of an independent panel to investigate the riot
means that the country is unlikely to get a definitive
accounting for one of the most serious domestic attacks on the
government in history.
by President Joe Biden on Texas Senate Bill 7
House, May 29, 2021)
Today, Texas legislators put forth a bill that joins Georgia
and Florida in advancing a state law that attacks the sacred
right to vote. It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve
seen far too often this year—and often disproportionately
targeting Black and Brown Americans. It’s wrong and
un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it
easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.
race theory ban leads Oklahoma college to cancel class that
taught ‘white privilege’.
(Washington Post, May 29,
Oklahoma is among a wave of Republican-led states scrutinizing
and seeking to reshape how teachers talk about race. This
month, the governor signed
what many refer to as a ban on
critical race theory in schools — a bill, he said, that would
make sure taxpayer money is not used “to define and divide
young Oklahomans about their race or sex.”
Republican supporters say these statewide bans targeting
certain teaching are meant to prevent groupthink and shaming
of White students or teachers as oppressors. Oklahoma’s new
law, for instance, says public school classes should not
include the idea that “any individual should feel discomfort,
guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on
account of his or her race or sex.” It also bars teaching the
idea that anyone’s race or sex determines their “moral
character” or makes them “inherently racist, sexist or
oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
Critics say these bills are misconstruing the more nuanced
treatments of racism unfolding in schools. They worry about a
chilling effect on teaching of critical issues. “Our history
of the United States is uncomfortable and it should make us
uncomfortable and we should grow from that,” Smith said in an
Arms Race in America: Gun Buying Spiked During the Pandemic.
It’s Still Up.
(New York Times, May 29, 2021)
It was another week with another horrific mass shooting. In
cities across the country, gun homicides were climbing.
Democrats and Republicans argued over the causes. President
Biden said enough. But beneath the timeworn political cycle on
guns in the United States, the country’s appetite for firearms
has only been increasing, with more being bought by more
Americans than ever before. Preliminary research data show
that about a fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year
were first-time gun owners. Sales usually spike around
elections, but the sheer volume is notable.
Chats Show How Cybergang Became a Ransomware Powerhouse.
(New York Times, May 29, 2021)
As the ransomware industry exploded, a Russian-speaking outfit
called DarkSide offered would-be computer crooks not just the
tools, but also customer support. We got an inside look. “Any
doofus can be a cybercriminal now,” said Sergei A. Pavlovich,
a former hacker who served 10 years in prison in his native
Belarus for cybercrimes. “The intellectual barrier to entry
has gotten extremely low.”
Will Now Let You Hide Your Friend List Because We Found
(BuzzFeed News, May 28, 2021)
Venmo confirmed it is adding a feature that would let people
set their friend list to private or visible only to their
4 best ways to stop phone spam, scams, and robocalls
(Fast Company, May 28, 2021)
With layer after layer of spam and robocall protection, we’re
pulling out all the stops in an attempt to keep a clean phone
Detroit residents are building their own internet
Hill, May 28, 2021)
Faced with a stark digital divide, Detroit community groups
are mobilizing to build an internet network block by block.
strike: Canadarm2 stays the course after an orbital debris
(photos; Canada Space Agency, May 28, 2021)
While the utmost precautions are taken to reduce the potential
for collisions with the International Space Station, impacts
with tiny objects do occur. One such hit was noticed recently
during a routine inspection of Canadarm2 on May 12. Despite
the impact, results of the ongoing analysis indicate that the
arm's performance remains unaffected. The damage is limited to
a small section of the arm boom and thermal blanket. A hole
approximately 5mm in diameter is visible.
maintains 'artificial sun' at 120 million Celsius for over
100 seconds, setting new world record.
May 28, 2021)
China broke the record by keeping the Experimental Advanced
Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) by achieving plasma temperature
at 120 million Celsius for 101 seconds and 160 million Celsius
for 20 seconds, a major step toward the test run of the fusion
reactor. The Tokamak devise is located at the Hefei Institutes
of Physical Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is
designed to replicate the nuclear fusion process that occurs
naturally in the sun and stars to provide almost infinite
clean energy through controlled nuclear fusion, which is often
dubbed the "artificial sun."
The achievement broke a previous record of maintaining the
plasma temperature at 100 million C for 100 seconds. According
to Li Miao, director of the physics department of the Southern
University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, it is a
milestone in reaching the goal of keeping the temperature at a
stable level for a long time.
Achieving a plasma temperature above 100 million C is one of
the key challenges to harness the nuclear fusion. At the end
of 2020, South Korea reached 100 million C for 20 seconds. The
temperature at the core of the sun is widely believed to be 15
million C, meaning that the plasma at the device's core will
be seven times hotter than that of the sun.
May Use a Mafia Law Against Donald Trump that Comes With Up
To 25 Years in Prison.
(Vanity Fair, May 28, 2021)
Just how screwed is Donald Trump? On the one hand, he’s yet to
actually be charged with a crime. On the other, there are four
criminal investigations into him and prosecutors in one of
them reportedly took the major step of a convening a grand
jury to hear evidence and potentially come back with
indictments. And according to experts, the kind of charges
they’re likely considering come with a prison sentence of up
to 25 years. As in two-and-a-half decades.
damn scary’: Failure of Jan. 6 commission exposes Senate
(multiple videos; Politico, May 28, 2021)
Post-Jan. 6 resentment that's dominated the House made its way
to the Senate Friday as Republicans blocked a commission to
probe the riot.
Fossil Fuel Moves Clash With Pledges on Climate Change.
(New York Times, May 28, 2021)
This month the world’s leading energy agency warned that
governments around the globe must stop approving fossil fuel
projects now if they want to keep the increase in average
global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, compared with
preindustrial levels. That’s the threshold beyond which
scientists say the Earth will experience irreversible damage.
Despite President Biden’s pledge to aggressively cut the
pollution from fossil fuels that is driving climate change,
his administration has quietly taken actions this month that
will guarantee the drilling and burning of oil and gas for
decades to come. The clash between Mr. Biden’s pledges and
some of his recent decisions illustrates the political,
technical and legal difficulties of disentangling the country
from the oil, gas and coal that have underpinned its economy
for more than a century.
“These are bad decisions,” said Drew Caputo, a lawyer for the
environmental group Earthjustice, which has fought the Trump
administration policies that Mr. Biden is now defending.
“These actions are carbon bombs.” The physics of climate
change is unforgiving, Mr. Caputo said. To keep global
temperatures from rising to dangerously high levels, fossil
fuel extraction must stop, he said. “I get that they’re being
pressured politically. I get that there are thin margins,” he
said. “But the climate crisis doesn’t care about any of that
map lets you fly along the path of a drop of water from any
place in the U.S.
(Fast Company, May 28, 2021)
A new map called River Runner
lets you trace
the long path of water throughout the U.S.: Click on any spot
or enter an address, and it will show where the water is
likely to flow. It’s mesmerizing to watch the path of the
water as the tool virtually flies along streams and rivers.
But it’s also a reminder that pollution in a waterway in one
corner of the country isn’t necessarily just a local problem.
[When it rains on our favorite Lake Cochituate, this
is where it pours
loosened mask guidance to encourage vaccination—it failed
(Ars Technica, May 28, 2021)
FDA approval and paid time off would make people more likely
to get a shot, poll finds.
Krugman: The greenback rules. So what?
(New York Times,
May 28, 2021)
Cryptocurrency was supposed to replace government-issued fiat
currency in our daily lives. It hasn’t. But one thing I’m
still hearing from the faithful is that Bitcoin, or Ethereum,
or maybe some crypto asset introduced by the Chinese, will
soon replace the dollar as the global currency of choice.
That’s also very unlikely to happen, since it’s very hard for
a currency to function as global money unless it functions as
ordinary money first. But still, it’s definitely conceivable
that one of these days something will displace the dollar from
its current dominance.
Meanwhle, held cash is mainly "Benjamins", US $100 bills,
which by and large can’t even be used in stores. They are used
for payments people don’t want easily traced, usually because
they’re doing something illicit. America does, then, get some
advantage from the special role of the dollar. But it’s hardly
a major pillar of U.S. power. And being the world’s primary
supplier of assets used in illegal activity isn’t exactly a
role filled with glory.
So is it possible that the dollar will eventually lose its
dominance? Yes. Will it matter? Not so you’d notice.
The World’s Biggest Passenger Ships from 1831-Present
(Visual Capitalist, May 28, 2021)
The Titanic lives large in our minds, but it’s probably not
surprising that the world record for biggest passenger ship
has been broken many times since its era. In fact, today’s
largest passenger ship can now hold over 6,000 people—more
than double the Titanic’s capacity. This graphic by HMY Yachts
looks at which vessels held the title of the world’s largest
passenger ship over time, and how these vessels have evolved
since the early 19th century.
Boundary Waters, a poem by Suez Jacobson
(Wilderness Watch, May 27, 2021)
Suez, a member of the Board for Great Old Broads for
Wilderness, is the executive producer and writer for the film,
True Meaning Of Memorial Day
(American Promise, May 27,
Leading up to Memorial Day, we’re thinking of Frederick
Douglass’ powerful speech, “What
to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
If you haven’t read
it, we can’t recommend it strongly enough. We think of that
speech because it reminds us of the true meaning of Memorial
Day. On Memorial Day, we are asked to remember and show
gratitude for all those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice,
paid the highest price, to preserve this great nation. The
origins of this day were to honor those who laid down their
lives for that cause Frederick Douglass fought so hard for: to
end the pestilence of slavery in this nation and fulfill the
promise of equality for all under our Constitution. Over time,
we’ve included all those lost in defense of Liberty.
Patriots fight and heroes die to defend a nation, to protect
it and all its people. They die so that others may live free,
with liberty, with justice and with equality.
Patriots don’t fight so that the government they defend can be
run from a Wall Street office or a billionaire’s mansion. They
most certainly don’t fight so that a nation can be divided,
artificially separated so that greed has free reign and
political decision-making favors only those able to buy it.
Heroes don’t die to protect an economic system, especially one
of oppression to any. No hero has died to protect wealth or to
allow the voices of the many to be silenced by the money of
the few. They don’t die defending a political party or its
party bosses with access to graft. No soldier worth
commemorating died so that a few could trample on the
Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the very
concept that this nation is made up of free men, women and
children from all races, all beliefs, all forms of love.
[Remember to click on the short form of Frederick Douglass'
famous 1852 speech in Rochester, NY (above), and thence to his
Man’s Amazing Journey to the Center of the Bowling Ball
(Ars Technica, May 27, 2021)
Mo Pinel spent a career reshaping the ball’s inner core to
harness the power of physics. He revolutionized the sport—and
spared no critics along the way.
Pinel had come to Cincinnati to promote his latest creation,
the Sumo. The ball had quickly become a sensation, hailed for
the way it naturally darted sideways across the lane—a quality
known as flare.
Hossenfelder: The Climate Book You Didn’t Know You Need
(BackReAction, May 27, 2021)
"The Physics of Climate Change", by Lawrence Krauss.
Ubuntu via BitTorrent gets Comcast customer a DMCA warning.
(Ars Technica, May 27, 2021)
Put down your pitchforks—it looks like the DMCA warning was
bogus. But interesting.
president: Orwell’s 1984 could happen in 2024.
video; BBC, May 27, 2021)
Life as depicted in George Orwell’s 1984 “could come to pass
in 2024” if lawmakers don’t protect the public against
artificial intelligence, Microsoft’s president has warned.
Speaking to BBC's Panorama, Brad Smith said it will be
"difficult to catch up” with the rapidly advancing technology.
The programme explores China’s increasing use of AI to monitor
its citizens. Critics fear the state's dominance in the area
could threaten democracy. “If we don’t enact the laws that
will protect the public in the future, we are going to find
the technology racing ahead, and it’s going to be very
difficult to catch up,” Mr Smith said.
Gerrymandering About to Become More Difficult?
(Politico, May 27, 2021)
For the past five years, Duchin has led Tufts’ Metric Geometry
and Gerrymandering Group, a lab that has quietly upended
conventional wisdom about how gerrymandering works by
approaching the issue less as a political problem than a
mathematical one. As the country sprints into a new
redistricting cycle, understanding redistricting in those
terms has taken on new importance—especially in light of a
controversial change to the Census Bureau data that will be
used to draw the new district maps.
This year, for the first time, the Census Bureau has added
random noise to its data that makes it slightly inaccurate at
the smallest, most zoomed-in level, but accurate at an
aggregate, wide-angle view. The approach, known as
“differential privacy,” aims to protect the anonymity of
census respondents amid a glut of third-party online data that
could otherwise make it possible to personally identify census
respondents. The move has prompted a wave of criticism that
redistricting based on those “noisy” numbers will be
is now as popular as some major religions.
Times, May 27, 2021)
Fifteen percent of Americans believe that “patriots may have
to resort to violence” to restore the country’s rightful
order, the poll indicated.
P. Bush is the latest Republican to humiliate himself in a
movement that enforces cowardice.
(Daily Kos, May 27,
Like Sen. Ted Cruz and every other Republican before him,
George P.'s response to Donald Trump mocking his would-be
presidential dad as "low energy" and claiming his family "has
to like Mexican Illegals" because George's mother was born in
Mexico is ... to suck up to him.
George has been courting Trump for a long time now, and it has
everything to do with politics. Donald Trump, incompetent
death-dealing blowhard, is more popular among the Texas
Republican base than father Jeb or uncle President Guy, so
family is out and Typhoid Hitler is in. A man's got to get
elected, after all. George P. Bush is not the sort of person
who would settle for simply not being in politics.
doubles down to pressure Republicans, asking for 'a personal
favor' to block January 6 commission.
(CNN, May 27,
In the last 24 hours, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
has ramped up the pressure on his GOP Senate colleagues to
oppose a bill creating a January 6 commission, according to
two Republicans familiar with his effort. One of those
Republicans told CNN that McConnell has even made the unusual
move of asking wavering senators to support filibustering the
bill as "a personal favor" to him. "No one can understand why
Mitch is going to this extreme of asking for a 'personal
favor' to kill the commission," said the Republican.
Despite his opposition to a commission to further investigate
the Capitol riot, McConnell has publicly stated that the
events of January 6 were encouraged by Trump.
"Former President Trump's actions that preceded the riot were
a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty," said
McConnell in a February floor speech after he voted to acquit
Trump on a single article of impeachment. "Trump is
practically and morally responsible for provoking the events
of the day." McConnell was also telling Republican colleagues
after January 6 that he wanted Trump "gone" and hoped the
Republican Party would move on from him.
But since then, McConnell seems to have accepted Trump's
continued popularity within the party. Less than two weeks
after his floor speech condemning Trump, he told Fox News'
Bret Baier he would "absolutely" support the 2024 Republican
nominee for president, even if that nominee is Trump.
the Heels of the Capitol Insurrection, Democracy Is Under
Attack in the States.
(PFAW, May 26, 2021)
There’s no question that Jim Crow is alive and well. So far
this legislative session, according to the latest Brennan
Center research, 361 voter suppression bills have been
introduced across 47 states, including 55 bills in 24 states
that have seen at least some action. Among them is a movement
toward criminalizing the franchise—creating crimes where
criminal intent is likely as rare as so-called “voter fraud,”
intimidating voters, pollworkers, and election officials
Of Capitol Attack, by James Scaminaci
Academia, May 26, 2021)
chief, SFOR CJ2 Special Projects. Specialties:
counter-terrorism, counter-mafia, Balkans. Retired sr.
civ. intel analyst. Ph.D. Soc Stanford.
The federal investigation into the January 6 attack on the
foundation of our democracy via the military-like assault
on the Capitol building, according to a Department of
Justice (DOJ) filing on Attorney General Merrick Garland’s
first day in office, as Marcy Wheeler sharply noted, “will
likely be one of the largest in American history, both in
terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the
nature and volume of the evidence,” according to the DOJ’s
filing on March 12, 2021. The DOJ reported that it had, up
to 75 days ago, served “over 900 search warrants” and
collected “more than 15,000 hours of surveillance and
body-worn camera footage…approximately 1,600 electronic
devices…the results of hundreds of searches of electronic
communication providers…over 210,000 tips, of which a
substantial portion include video, photo and social
media…and over 80,000 reports and 93,000 attachments.” The
investigation includes 14 law enforcement agencies.
Wheeler, in my opinion, points out a probable problem the
DOJ prosecutors have—namely that they are not looking at
January 6 insurrection as a military attack with one
operational plan—and she reveals her own inability to
understand the January 6 as a military attack. If you keep
the prosecution of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys
separate for “prosecutorial ease,” which may be a very
sound legal strategy, it may also have the unintended
effect of not allowing prosecutors to see how these two
attacks were jointly planned and jointly executed.
Wheeler’s analysis also pointed to a larger potential
problem for prosecutors and perhaps for the public to
understand: The goal of the conspiracy was much larger
than assaulting the Capitol and stopping the certification
of the Electoral College vote. Wheeler argued: “The real
goal, after all, was to overthrow the democratic system,
and impeding the vote count was just one means to achieve
that conspiracy. The conspiring that started even before
the election was about overthrowing democracy, not just
January 6…. But one reason it worked is because the real
goal of the conspiracy—the one that Caldwell’s lawyer all
but conceded to today—was to do whatever it took to
prevent the lawfully elected President from taking power."
What ties all the Proud Boys’ conspiracies together—Media,
Leadership, Kansas, and Front Door—is the fact that they
were operating from one operational plan (pdf) as Proud
Boys (via EmptyWheel). There are not four Proud Boys
conspiracies. There is one. But it is the stumbling of
federal prosecutors to articulate in court what the “plan”
was that is most troubling.
Judge Kelly’s rebuttal to the defense claims: “‘In the
end, the evidence is overwhelming that Nordean and Biggs
had a plan for that day. The question is, what is the
strength of the government’s case that the plan is what
the grand jury charged?’ Kelly said. ‘In my view, the
evidence is strong enough,’ the judge said, ‘even if as in
most conspiracy cases, we don’t have a document or
information that lays out the conspiracy plainly.’”
Some federal judges have ruled that there is not enough
evidence of a conspiracy. Some federal judges have ruled
there is enough evidence, but they would like to see more.
And at least one federal prosecutor almost sounded like a
ghostwriter of late senator say Trump intervened to stop
probe of Patriots' Spygate scandal.
(ESPN, May 26, 2021)
In the Spring of 2008, the National Football League was in
crisis. A hard-charging United States senator from
Pennsylvania named Arlen Specter had launched an investigation
into the Spygate scandal. He tried to determine how many games
the New England Patriots' illegal videotaping operation of
opposing coaches' signals had helped the team win and learn
why the NFL, under the orders of commissioner Roger Goodell,
had destroyed all evidence of the cheating.
The NFL tried to combat the Specter inquiry with public
statements from teams that were the primary victims of New
England's spying saying the league had done its due diligence.
It wasn't working. But there was one man, a mutual friend of
Specter and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who believed that he
could make the investigation go away. He was a famous
businessman and reality television star who routinely threw
money at politicians to try to curry favor, whether it worked
or not. He had been a generous political patron of Specter's
for two decades. And that man was Donald J. Trump.
Of Republicans Want Candidates To Agree With Trump, While
66% Of Americans Do Not Want Him To Run.
University National Poll, May 26, 2021)
As candidates begin to enter races for the 2022 mid-term
elections, more than 8 in 10 Republicans (85 percent) say they
would prefer to see candidates running for elected office that
mostly agree with Donald Trump, according to a Quinnipiac
(KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of adults released
today. Overall, a majority of Americans (53 - 39 percent) say
they would prefer to see candidates running for elected office
that mostly disagree with Trump.
Asked whether they would like to see Trump run for president
in 2024, Republicans say 66 - 30 percent they would. Overall,
two-thirds of Americans (66 - 30 percent) say they do not want
to see Trump run.
Volcano, The New Lava Threatening The Highway
video; RVK, May 26, 2021)
The Reykjavík Grapevine: We visited Nátthagi, where the lava
is now filling slowly. It’s obvious that the lava will go over
the highway in the end, the only question is, how long will it
take to reach the road.
Deepens About Evolution of Bees’ Social Behavior.
(SciTechDaily, May 26, 2021)
A new study has mounted perhaps the most intricate, detailed
look ever at the diversity in structure and form of bees,
offering new insights in a long-standing debate over how
complex social behaviors arose in certain branches of bees’
NEW: Freenode, The
Mainstream IRC Network, Is Collapsing.
(FOSS Post, May
700 channels at least were reportedly taken over by Lee and
his leadership, and their original owners no longer have
access to them.
Most of the Freenode volunteer staff now resigned, and they
are migrating to other networks and platforms. Since this
migration is accompanied by major open source projects as
well, then it probably means the end of Freenode; It may exist
for a while in the next few months or years, but it will be an
empty and shallow place which no one wants to join because of
the mismanagement of its new owners.
plans to bury users who regularly share misinformation
(The Verge, May 26, 2021)
In Facebook’s protracted efforts to be remembered as something
other than the largest misinformation megaphone in history,
it’s employed a number of strategies, from spinning its own
misleading PR narratives to actual UI changes. Today, it
announced a new tactic: not only will posts with
misinformation in them be made less visible, but so will the
individual users who share them. Get ready to see less from
the worst people.
Could Soon Write Code Based on Ordinary Language.
(Wired, May 26, 2021)
Microsoft reveals plans to bring GPT-3, best known for
generating text, to programming. “The code writes itself,” CEO
Satya Nadella says.
Develop Algorithm to Compare Cells Across Species – With
(SciTechDaily, May 26, 2021)
Tarashansky says trying to find only one-to-one gene pairs has
limited scientists looking to map cell types in the past. “I
think the main innovation here is that we account for features
that have changed over the course of hundreds of millions of
years of evolution for long-range comparisons. How can we use
the ever-evolving genes to recognize the same cell type that
are also constantly changing in different species?” Said Wang,
who is senior author of the paper. “Evolution has been
understood using genes and organismal traits, I think we are
now at an exciting turning point to bridge the scales by
looking at how cells evolve.”
Hague District Court has ordered Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) to
reduce the CO2 emissions of the Shell group by net 45% in
2030, compared to 2019 levels.
(Rechtspraak, May 26,
[The printed judgement, in English, of Greenpeace et al vs.
Royal Dutch Shell. Scroll down about 10% to the good parts of
this long read.]
Bacteria Can Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects – Clean Up
Toxins in the Body.
(SciTechDaily, May 26, 2021)
A new Northwestern University study found that specific types
of gut bacteria can protect other good bacteria from cancer
treatments — mitigating harmful, drug-induced changes to the
gut microbiome. By metabolizing chemotherapy drugs, the
protective bacteria could temper short- and long-term side
effects of treatment.
Eventually, the research could lead to new dietary
supplements, probiotics, or engineered therapeutics to help
boost cancer patients’ gut health.
You’re Vaccinated! How Can You Let People Know?
May 26, 2021)
Homegrown Covid-19 vaccine signals help create a positive
environment so you and your neighbors can feel safer removing
Carriers” – 2% of People Carry 90% of COVID-19 Virus.
(SciTechDaily, May 25, 2021)
A few “super carriers” with off-the-charts viral loads are
likely responsible for the bulk of COVID-19 transmissions,
while about half of infected people aren’t contagious at all
at the time of diagnosis, suggests a new CU Boulder analysis
of more than 72,000 test samples.
A second, related study lends further credence to the idea
that viral load, or the amount of virus particles a person
carries, drives contagion. It found that only one in five
university students who tested positive while living in a
residence hall infected their roommate. And their viral load
was nearly seven times higher than those who didn’t spread the
“The takeaway from these studies is that most people with
COVID don’t get other people sick, but a few people get a lot
of people sick,” said Sara Sawyer, a professor of molecular,
cellular and developmental biology and senior author of the
first study. “If you don’t have a viral super-carrier sitting
near you at dinner, you might be OK. But if you do, you’re out
of luck. It’s a game of roulette so you have to continue to be
This provides another example of why you don’t necessarily
need super sensitive tests that may take longer to process,”
said coauthor Roy Parker, director of the BioFrontiers
Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
“Even a faster but less sensitive test will catch all the
people who are contagious.”
How Big Could India’s True Covid Toll Be?
Times, May 25, 2021)
India’s official Covid-19 figures grossly understate the true
scale of the pandemic in the country.
Even the most conservative estimate is roughly double the
official death toll. The most likely scenario is that there
have been over five times the number of official reported
deaths, while a worse scenario is almost 14 times as much.
This is not just a problem in India: The W.H.O. estimates that
the global death toll may be two or three times as high as the
numbers reported. But India’s undercount is mostly likely even
more pronounced because of a lack of widespread testing, poor
record-keeping and a reluctance to report deaths from
Covid-19. And because hospitals are overwhelmed, more people
are dying at home, especially in rural areas.
Covid-19 variant first detected in India is spreading fast
in Britain, highlighting the dangers of faltering global
(New York Times, May 25, 2021)
The new variant, which has become dominant in India since
first being detected there in December, may be responsible in
part for a virus wave across South Asia. Efforts to understand
the variant picked up
once it began spreading in Britain, one of at least 49
countries where it is present.
wrong to blame ‘overpopulation’ for climate change.
(Washington Post, May 25, 2021)
A small minority of wealthy people produce the majority of
global greenhouse gas emissions — their consumption habits
have a much greater impact than overall population numbers.
Since the start of the millennium, U.N. reports show
, global resource use
has been primarily driven by increases in affluence, not the
population. This is especially true in high- to
upper-middle-income nations, which account for 78 percent of
material consumption, despite having slower population growth
rates than the rest of the world. Meanwhile in low-income
countries, whose share of the global population has almost
doubled, demand for resources has stayed constant at just
about 3 percent of the global total.
It’s true that the planet can’t support unlimited population
growth, Ramaswami said. But if people can figure out how to
moderate our consumption and meet our needs without fossil
fuels, experts say, it is possible for all of us to live
sustainably and well — even if there are more of us.
Can Save Humanity From Climate Doom—but Not On Its Own.
(Wired, May 25, 2021)
By restoring ecosystems, conservationists can help the land
sequester carbon. But it's still no substitute for drastically
Lazarus: That fraud alert on your phone? It could be part of
(Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2021)
Most con artists are just rolling the dice, laying traps they
hope unwary consumers will stumble into.
This one did his homework in targeting a specific victim — and
made off with more than $10,000 from a Chase bank account. The
episode serves as a wake-up call for all of us to be very
cautious when interacting with businesses, even when
everything appears to be on the up and up.
ransomware, or maybe a disk wiper, and it’s striking targets
(Ars Technica, May 25, 2021)
Dubbed Apostle, never-before-seen wiper masquerades as
Iranian-sponsored hackers already had an affinity for disk
wipers. In 2012, self-replicating malware tore through the
network of Saudi Arabia-based Saudi Aramco, the world’s
largest crude exporter, and permanently destroyed the hard
drives of more than 30,000 workstations. Researchers later
identified the wiper worm as Shamoon and said it was the work
of Iran. In 2016, Shamoon reappeared in a campaign that struck
at multiple organizations in Saudi Arabia, including several
government agencies. Three years later, researchers uncovered
a new Iranian wiper called ZeroCleare.
Tuesday’s massive ransomware outbreak was, in fact, something
much worse. Apostle isn’t the first wiper to be disguised as
ransomware. NotPetya, the worm that inflicted billions of
dollars of damage worldwide, also masqueraded as ransomware
until researchers determined that it was created by Russian
government-backed hackers to destabilize Ukraine. Malware like
Apostle illustrates the interplay that often occurs between
financially motivated cybercriminals and nation-state hackers.
NEW: One week of Libera Chat.
(Libera Chat, May 25, 2021)
Libera Chat is a Swedish nonprofit organisation with
organisation number 802535-6448, feel free to read our bylaws.
The organisation is run entirely by volunteer staff who are
the members of, and have equal voting power in, the
organisation. Libera Chat’s purpose is to provide services
such as a community platform for free open-source software and
peer directed projects on a volunteer basis.
[The volunteers who ran Freenode - which has had three times
as many users as its nearest competitor - have founded
Libera.Chat, and are rapidly migrating to it. So have Ubuntu,
Fedora and other major FOSS players.]
Years Ago: President Kennedy Proposes Moon Landing Goal in
Speech to Congress.
(NASA, May 25, 2021)
Kennedy discussed the race in space between the two
superpowers. With the Soviet Union ahead by launching the
first Earth-orbiting satellite and putting the first man into
orbit, Kennedy’s bold initiative, resting on the success of
astronaut Alan B. Shepard’s 15-minute suborbital spaceflight
less than three weeks earlier, would put the United States
undisputedly in the lead. After requesting that Congress
expand funding of space activities even beyond the increases
he had sought earlier, Kennedy proclaimed: "I believe that
this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before
this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning
him safely to the earth. No single space project in this
period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important
for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so
difficult or expensive to accomplish."
Plasma Jets Reveal Monstrous Magnetic Fields Far, Far Away.
(SciTechDaily, May 25, 2021)
Galaxy clusters can contain up to thousands of galaxies bound
together by gravity. Abell 3376 is a huge cluster forming as a
result of a violent collision between two sub-clusters of
galaxies. Very little is known about the magnetic fields that
exist within this and similar galaxy clusters.
For the first time, researchers have observed plasma jets
interacting with magnetic fields in a massive galaxy cluster
600 million light years away, thanks to the help of radio
telescopes and supercomputer simulations. The findings,
published in the journal Nature
, can help clarify how
such galaxy clusters evolve.
Property in Hydrogen Fuel Device Discovered – Could Be
Ultimate Guide to Self-Improvement.
Three years ago, scientists at the University of Michigan
discovered an artificial photosynthesis device made of silicon
and gallium nitride (Si/GaN) that harnesses sunlight into
carbon-free hydrogen for fuel cells with twice the efficiency
and stability of some previous technologies.
Now, scientists at Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley
national laboratories – in collaboration with the University
of Michigan – have uncovered a surprising, self-improving
property in Si/GaN that contributes to the material’s highly
efficient and stable performance in converting light and water
into carbon-free hydrogen. The research, reported in Nature
Materials, could help radically accelerate the
commercialization of artificial photosynthesis technologies
and hydrogen fuel cells.
five years away? No, Lithium-ion batteries are improving
under your nose.
(Ars Technica, May 24, 2021)
Under the hood, lithium-ion batteries have gotten better in
the last decade. Here's how and why.
[An excellent article for techies and semi-techies.]
Costly Pursuit of Self-Driving Cars Continues On. And On.
(New York Times, May 24, 2021)
It was seven years ago when Waymo discovered that spring
blossoms made its self-driving cars get twitchy on the brakes.
So did soap bubbles. And road flares. New tests, in years of
tests, revealed more and more distractions for the driverless
cars. Their road skills improved, but matching the competence
of human drivers was elusive. The cluttered roads of America,
it turned out, were a daunting place for a robot.
Many in Silicon Valley promised that self-driving cars would
be a common sight by 2021. Now the industry is resetting
expectations and settling in for years of more work.
Isn’t Anti-Semitism? Someone Didn’t Get the Memo.
York Times, May 24, 2021)
Not everyone got the memo. Not the people who, waving
Palestinian flags and chanting “Death to Jews,” according to a
witness, assaulted Jewish diners at a Los Angeles sushi
restaurant. Not the people who threw fireworks in New York’s
diamond district. Not the people who brutally beat up a man
wearing a yarmulke in Times Square. Not the people who drove
through London slurring Jews and yelling, “Rape their
daughters.” Not the people who gathered outside a synagogue in
Germany shouting slurs. Not the people who, at a protest in
Brussels, chanted, “Jews, remember Khaybar. The army of
Muhammad is returning.”
If there’s been a massive online campaign of progressive
allyship with Jews, I’ve missed it. If corporate executives
have sent out workplace memos expressing concern for the
safety of Jewish employees, I’ve missed it. If academic
associations have issued public letters denouncing the use of
anti-Semitic tropes by pro-Palestinian activists, I’ve missed
them. It’s a curious silence. In the land of inclusiveness,
Jews are denied inclusion.
It is especially despicable when Israel is singled out in ways
that apply to no other country. To take just one example, when
was the last time you heard of a campus demonstration or a
call for boycotts and divestment in response to Turkey’s
47-year occupation of northern Cyprus or its routine
bombardment, using American-made jets, of Kurdish militants in
But, again, this doesn’t go far enough. The accusations made
against Israel — stealing Palestinian land (despite the fact
that Israel vacated the territory from which it was
subsequently attacked) and wanton violence against Palestinian
civilians, particularly children (despite the fact that Israel
regularly warned its targets to vacate buildings before
targeting them) — can’t help but make me think of ancient
libels about Jewish greed and bloodlust.
Also echoing ancient libels is the idea that 11 days of
fighting between Israel and Hamas somehow constitute a unique
global horror, even as the world barely takes notice of the
Taliban’s murder this month of 85 people at a school in Kabul.
The anti-Semitic worldview is always Judeocentric, in the
sense that it is obsessed with Jewish behavior as the supreme
factor in domestic and international political life. The left
has lately been awfully Judeocentric.
This ought to be whistling loudly in the ears of progressives
who claim to be horrified by every form of prejudice. Instead,
they have indulged an anti-Israel movement that keeps
descending into the crudest forms of anti-Semitism. They
remind me of a certain kind of Trump voter who would
occasionally voice disgust at his most outrageous behavior,
only to come back into alignment with him a few days later.
After a while, it becomes clear that the outrage is cheap, if
it isn’t simply fake.
Progressives will have to come to their own reckoning about
what to do about the burgeoning anti-Semitism in their midst.
As for Jews, they should take the events of the last few days
less as an outrage than as an omen.
Cox Richardson: Belarus dictator committed an act of
(Letters From An American, May
On Sunday, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus forced a
commercial airliner, operated by Ryanair, flying from Athens,
Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, out of the sky as it passed
through the airspace over Belarus. A MiG-29 fighter jet
diverted the plane to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, after
ground support warned its pilots (falsely) there was a bomb on
board. There wasn’t a bomb on the plane; there was an
opposition journalist, 26-year-old Roman Protasevich (also
spelled Raman Pratasevich), who was traveling with his
girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, who is a law student and a Russian
citizen. Once the plane was on the ground, security forces
took the two of them away. Pratasevich told another passenger:
“I am facing the death penalty.” Three other passengers also
stayed in Minsk; Lithuanian authorities are trying to figure
out who they were.
To capture Protasevich, Lukashenko has committed an act of
state-sponsored piracy against two European Union countries, a
European-registered airline, and passengers who are mostly
European Union citizens. This is an astonishing move that
likely has something to do with Lukashenko’s relationship with
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian officials praised
the hijacking, calling it a “brilliant special operation.
A new Gallup poll today finds that 53% of Republicans think
that Trump won the 2020 election. But only 26% of Americans
identify as Republicans. Journalist Richard Hine crunched the
numbers and notes that those percentages boil down to about
14% of Americans who think Trump is still president. They are
a minority, but they believe the former president, who
continues to insist that he won the 2020 election despite all
evidence to the contrary.
IRC staff resign en masse after takeover by Korea’s “crown
(Ars Techica, May 24, 2021)
Former staffer alleges "a hostile entity is now in control...
and has your data."
High Levels of Toxic Mercury Discovered in Greenland Glacial
(SciTechDaily, May 24, 2021)
New research from Florida State University shows that
concentrations of the toxic element mercury in rivers and
fjords connected to the Greenland Ice Sheet are comparable to
rivers in industrial China, an unexpected finding that is
raising questions about the effects of glacial melting in an
area that is a major exporter of seafood. Fishing is
Greenland’s primary industry with the country being a major
exporter of cold-water shrimp, halibut, and cod.
The finding underscores the complicated reality of rapidly
melting ice sheets across the globe. About 10 percent of the
Earth’s land surface is covered by glaciers, and these
environments are undergoing rapid change as a result of rising
temperatures. Scientists worldwide are working to understand
how warming temperatures — and thus more rapidly melting
glaciers — will affect geochemical processes critical to life
on Earth. For decades, scientists perceived glaciers as frozen
blocks of water that had limited relevance to the Earth’s
geochemical and biological processes. But we’ve shown over the
past several years that line of thinking isn’t true. This
study continues to highlight that these ice sheets are rich
with elements of relevance to life.”
This source of mercury is very likely coming from the Earth
itself, as opposed to a fossil fuel combustion or other
industrial source. That may matter in how scientists and
policymakers think about the management of mercury pollution
in the future. All the efforts to manage mercury thus far have
come from the idea that the increasing concentrations we have
been seeing across the Earth system come primarily from direct
anthropogenic activity, like industry. But mercury coming from
climatically sensitive environments like glaciers could be a
source that is much more difficult to manage.
Infection Cycle Revealed in Incredible Dynamic Detail.
(SciTechDaily, May 24, 2021)
A critical process in the infection cycle of viruses has been
revealed for the first time in dynamic detail using pioneering
plant-based technology. Evidence about the process of virus
maturation revealed in the research could help us develop new
methods for treating viral infections. Maturation plays a
critical role for all animal and bacterial viruses and is
required to produce infectious virions or particles. Though
the outlines of the process have been determined for many
groups of viruses, detailed mechanistic studies have not been
To provide the first detailed mechanistic study of maturation,
infiltrated genetic material of the insect virus Nudaurelia
capensis omega virus (N⍵V) was infiltrated into dwarf tobacco
plants N.benthamiana. This transient expression technique uses
Virus Like Particles (VLPs) which are mimics of the authentic
virus. The capsid or protein coat of the virus is produced by
plant cells and the research team then analyses the material
purified from infiltrated leaves.
The research demonstrated that maturation of procapsids —
immature viral structures — can occur within plant cells to
yield fully functional mature capsids. This has not been
observed previously in the absence of a natural infection.
Comparative cryo-EM analysis of the structures of the
procapsids and mature capsids revealed the large structural
rearrangements both inside and between the protein subunits of
the capsid that accompany maturation. These shape changes
enable the chemical reactions that are necessary for the virus
to infect the host.
Clue to Why the 1918 Pandemic Came Back Stronger Than Before
(The Atlantic, May 24, 2021)
Three 103-year-old-lung samples hinted at how the flu mutated
to become more deadly.
Illness Identified: Outbreak of Vomiting Among Dogs Traced
to Canine Coronavirus.
(SciTechDaily, May 24, 2021)
Vets across the country began reporting cases of acute onset
prolific vomiting in 2019/20. The outbreak is most likely to
be a variant of canine enteric coronavirus (CeCoV). Canine
coronavirus only affects dogs and is not the same as Sars Cov2
which causes Covid in humans. Researchers found no evidence of
any similar illness in people.
Paul: 'I'm not getting vaccinated'.
(The Hill, May 23,
Paul, an ophthalmologist, said he’s making the personal
decision because he’s already had COVID-19. P