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.
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”?
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.
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.
(Associated Press, 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’.
(Associated Press, 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.
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.
(Associated Press, 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,
(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.
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.
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 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,
11: Everything you need to know.
(CNet, July 12,
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."
to bypass Windows 11 limits and install on almost any old
(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
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.
(Associated Press, July 3,
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
Repub senators propose tax credits for factories that churn
out chips on US soil.
(The Register, June 17, 2021)
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.
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.
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).
why Toyota converted this Corolla to hydrogen and went
(Ars Technica, June 3, 2021)
Part engineering exercise, part safety demonstration.
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.
We think this was a wonderful NOVA hour, and think A LOT of
you will agree. A grand combination of old sailing ships, ship
design, science and history:
THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
(53-min. video; PBS/NOVA, June
As we excavate a 500-year-old wreck, learn the secrets
behind history’s great ships.
[A grand combination of old sailing ships, ship design,
underwater archaeology, science and history! Good jellyfish,
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.
(Associated Press, 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.
(Associated Press, 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
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. Paul tested
positive for COVID-19 in March 2020. At the time, he was the
first known senator to have contracted the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
recommends that those who have recovered from COVID-19 get
vaccinated because experts are unsure about how long natural
One poll from PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist found that 41 percent of
Republicans say they do not plan to get vaccinated, compared
with 4 percent of Democrats.
Senator? Coincidence, you say?? I think not!
Senator, it's about you as a potential carrier
that choice should not
on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate On Covid-19 Origin.
(3-min. and 4-min. videos; Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2021)
Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology
became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital
care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence
report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller
probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the
laboratory. The details of the reporting go beyond a State
Department fact sheet, issued during the final days of the
Trump administration, which said that several researchers at
the lab, a center for the study of coronaviruses and other
pathogens, became sick in autumn 2019 “with symptoms
consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”
Snatched from Diverted Ryanair Flight Faces Belarus ‘Death
(Daily Beast, May 23, 2021)
Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian president of Belarus,
has ordered arrests of key opponents for decades. But even
after a brutal and bloody crackdown on opposition protests
last year, his decision on Sunday to force an airliner to land
so a prominent activist and reporter could be arrested
appalled his domestic critics and European leaders alike. A
Belarusian MIG-29 military jet forced a Ryanair passenger
plane heading from Athens to Vilnius to land in Minsk airport,
where police arrested one of the passengers: the arrest
passenger of 26-year old activist and journalist, Roman
Protasevich, the founder of a popular NEXTA Telegram channel
read by more than four million people. “The world should pay
attention to this horror,” a sobbing human rights activist
told the Daily Beast. "I hope they will not torture Roman."
true stories about switching to Linux
(Open Source, May
It's been 30 years since Linus Torvalds created Linux, way
back in 1991, as a free alternative to Unix. In that time,
it's grown from a niche project to a powerful, widely used
operating system that sustains much of what's essential in
modern computing—the cloud, the Internet of Things,
supercomputers, the devices that kept students learning during
a global pandemic, and much, much more.
The Linux community is a passionate, dedicated, and effective
advocate for the operating system in all its iterations, and
that enthusiasm has translated into steadily increasing
adoption. There are many reasons and ways people come to
Linux, but once they get here, most never turn back to the
proprietary systems where they started.
Storms Are Back, Threatening Power Grids and Satellites.
(Bloomberg, May 22, 2021)
A few days ago, millions of tons of super-heated gas shot off
from the surface of the sun and hurtled 90 million miles
toward Earth. The eruption, called a coronal mass ejection,
wasn’t particularly powerful on the space-weather scale, but
when it hit the Earth’s magnetic field it triggered the
strongest geomagnetic storm seen for years. There wasn’t much
disruption this time -- few people probably even knew it
happened -- but it served as a reminder the sun has woken from
a years-long slumber.
While invisible and harmless to anyone on the Earth’s surface,
the geomagnetic waves unleashed by solar storms can cripple
powr egrids, jam radio communications, bathe airline crews in
dangerous levels of radiation and knock critical satellites
off kilter. The sun began a new 11-year cycle last year and,
as it reaches its peak in 2025, the specter of powerful space
weather creating havoc for humans grows, threatening chaos in
a world that has become ever more reliant on technology since
the last big storms hit 17 years ago. A recent study suggested
hardening the grid could lead to $27 billion worth of benefits
to the U.S. power industry.
and the End of the Car as We Know It
(8-min. video; Wall
Street Journal, May 22, 2021)
As cars become computers with wheels, Apple is joining other
tech companies in eyeing the $5-trillion auto market. To
understand why a tech giant like Apple might want to make a
car, we built one out of iPhone parts.
Biologists Travel Back in Time – Over 3 Billion Years.
(SciTechDaily, May 22, 2021)
In order to survive and grow, all cells contain an in-house
protein synthesis factory. This consists of ribosomes and
associated translation factors that work together to ensure
that the complex protein production process runs smoothly.
While almost all components of the modern translational
machinery are well known, until now scientists did not know
how the process evolved. A research group working at Uppsala
University has succeeded in studying ‘translation factors’ –
important components of a cell’s protein synthesis machinery –
that are several billion years old. By studying these ancient
‘resurrected’ factors, the researchers were able to establish
that they had much broader specificities than their
present-day, more specialized counterparts.
Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping
(New York Times, May 22, 2021)
Like an avalanche, the demographic forces — pushing toward
more deaths than births — seem to be expanding and
accelerating. Though some countries continue to see their
populations grow, especially in Africa, fertility rates are
falling nearly everywhere else. Demographers now predict that
by the latter half of the century or possibly earlier, the
global population will enter a sustained decline for the first
time. Fewer babies’ cries. More abandoned homes. Toward the
middle of this century, as deaths start to exceed births,
changes will come that are hard to fathom.
founder’s son says Israel should kill terror group’s leaders
(New York Post, May 22, 2021)
“Assassinating Hamas leadership will not destroy Hamas, but it
will teach them a lesson and hold them accountable,” Mosab
Hassan Yousef told The Post in a phone interview. “Next time,
before you get civilians on both sides involved in a
bloodbath, you need to think 1,000 times. Hundreds of children
have paid the price. These type of people cannot get away with
what they did. They should not feel safe for a day,” he said.
“Hamas hates Israel more than they love their own children.”
Mosab Yousef, 43, said he follows regional developments
closely, and attributed the latest round of violence to Hamas’
growing marginalization in recent years. The real estate
dispute in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood — the
ostensible trigger of the current unrest — was just a pretext,
[Also see, If
the Left Got Its Wish for Israel
(New York Times, May
'Simply wrong' for Trump DOJ to seek journalists' phone
(MSN News, May 22, 2021)
President Biden on Friday vowed that his administration would
never seize the phone records of journalists after it was
disclosed that the Trump administration secretly obtained the
records of CNN and Washington Post reporters.
NEW: Sabrina Savage: Can We
Be Touched by a Star?
(16-min. video; TedX Talks, May
Although a stable source of warmth and light to most of
humanity, our nearest stellar companion is anything but
serene. It is a gorgeous, writhing, superheated ball of
twisted magnetic fields, capable of the largest explosions in
the solar system, that can have profound consequences on our
daily lives and our future in space.
Cruz insulted a "woke, emasculated" US Army ad. Angry
veterans fired back.
(Boston Globe, May 21, 2021)
The most disliked senator in America openly derided America's
military while praising Russia's. It did not go over well.
Senate Must Support the January 6 Insurrection Commission.
(1-min. video; PFAW, May 21, 2021)
Just as a bipartisan deal was announced to form a 9/11-style
commission to investigate the events leading up to and
surrounding the insurrection waged by Trump’s supporters,
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell announced their opposition to the
proposal – preferring instead to further insulate Trump and
his supporters from an investigation into their actions that
seriously jeopardized democracy.
Our nation deserves better, and we deserve to know what led to
the dangerous attacks on January 6 in the pursuit of
accountability for those involved, including former President
is sliding toward online irrelevance. His new blog isn’t
(Washington Post, May 21, 2021)
On the Internet, former president Donald Trump is sliding
toward something he has fought his entire life: irrelevance.
Social engagement around Trump — a measure of likes,
reactions, comments or shares on content about him across
Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest — has nosedived 95
percent since January, to its lowest level since 2016.
Justice Department seized CNN records tied to
correspondent’s phone and email.
(Politico, May 20,
The news comes less than two weeks after The Washington Post
said the department secretly got three of its reporters’ phone
Full Story of the Stunning RSA Hack Can Finally Be Told.
(Wired, May 20, 2021)
In 2011, Chinese spies stole the crown jewels of
cybersecurity—stripping protections from firms and government
agencies worldwide. Here’s how it happened...
Duane’s harrowing experience in response to the intrusion
taught him—and perhaps should teach all of us—that “every
network is dirty,” as he puts it. Now he preaches to companies
that they should segment their systems and cordon off their
most sensitive data so that it remains impenetrable even to an
adversary that’s already inside the firewall.
As for Todd Leetham, he watched the SolarWinds fiasco unfold
over the past six months with a grim sense of déjà vu.
“Everybody was shocked. But in hindsight, well, duh, it was
kind of everywhere,” he says of SolarWinds. As was, by
analogy, SecurID, 10 years earlier. Leetham sees the lessons
of RSA’s supply chain compromise in starker terms than even
his colleague Bill Duane: It was “a glimpse of just how
fragile the world is,” he says. “It’s a house of cards during
a tornado warning.”
SolarWinds demonstrated how precarious this structure remains,
he argues. As Leetham sees it, the security world blindly put
its trust in something that existed outside its threat model,
never imagining that an adversary might attack it. And once
again, the adversary pulled out a supporting card underpinning
the house’s foundation—one that had been confused for solid
the Copyleft Trolls.
(Medium, May 20, 2021)
When photographers sue after Creative Commons Licenses go
“Third Thumb” Use Can Alter How the Hand Is Represented in
(SciTechDaily, May 20, 2021)
The team trained people to use a robotic extra thumb and found
they could effectively carry out dextrous tasks, like building
a tower of blocks, with one hand (now with two thumbs). The
researchers report in the journal Science Robotics that
participants trained to use the thumb also increasingly felt
like it was a part of their body.
Designer Dani Clode began developing the device, called the
Third Thumb, as part of an award-winning graduate project at
the Royal College of Art, seeking to reframe the way we view
prosthetics, from replacing a lost function, to an extension
of the human body.
Most Radical Thing About Ford's F-150 Lightning? The Price.
(Wired, May 20, 2021)
After tax credits, the base model of the electric pickup will
be cheaper than its gas-fueled sibling, removing what has been
a big barrier for EV sales.
largest iceberg breaks off from Antarctica.
The world's largest iceberg, a giant floating piece of ice
close to 80 times the size of Manhattan, has calved from the
western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica's Weddell
Sea over the past few days. Once it melts, the new iceberg
will not lead to a sea level rise, because it was part of a
floating ice shelf.
Zombie-Fire Outbreak May Be Growing in the North.
(Wired, May 19, 2021)
“Overwintering” fires smolder under the snow, reigniting
vegetation in the spring. New research shows the zombies may
proliferate in a warmer world.
Bitcoin Crash of 2021 Compared to Past Sell-Offs
(graphs; Virtual Capitalist, May 19, 2021)
Bitcoin's price dropped over 50% from its all-time highs in
its latest correction. But how does this drop compare with
those of the past?
Tumble Wipes $600 Billion Off Digital Tokens in a Week.
(Bloomberg News, May 19, 2021)
Virtual currencies are retreating so broadly and sharply, it’s
testing the durability of the cryptocurrency boom. The value
of more than 7,000 tokens tracked by CoinGecko has shrunk more
than $600 billion in the past week to $1.9 trillion. Bitcoin,
the largest cryptocurrency, slid some 11% Wednesday to break
below $40,000 and is now about $25,000 off its record high set
in April. The $40,000 mark is a “critical make-or-break pivot
level” for Bitcoin and a decline to just below $30,000 isn’t
out of the question.
Multiple factors are at play, ranging from criticism of the
environmental impact of Bitcoin’s energy usage by onetime
proponent Elon Musk, to the risk of a regulatory squeeze on
what some have called the Wild West of investing. Digital
tokens have also delivered gains so fat that some traders may
have been taking profits.
scan the Internet within minutes of new vulnerabilities
(Washington Post, May 19, 2021)
Hackers scanned for vulnerable Microsoft Exchange servers
within five minutes of Microsoft’s announcement of the
widespread vulnerability, cybersecurity firm Palo Alto
Networks said in a new report. That's faster than the average
15 minutes hackers took scanning other vulnerabilities
announced from January to March. The report also found that of
the 50 million Internet protocol addresses associated with 50
global enterprises, cloud computing was responsible for 79
percent of the most critical security issues.
Ransomware protection in OneDrive isn’t what Microsoft says.
(Office Watch, May 19, 2021)
Microsoft promotes OneDrive as protection against ransomware
however our tests show it’s not as practical or complete as
the company boasts. There's a big gap in the restore files
option when you're trying to undo malware.9
Worrisome Hacking Statistics that Concern Us All in 2021.
(Hosting Tribunal, May 18, 2021)
- There is a hacker attack every 39 seconds
- Russian hackers are the fastest.
- 300,000 new malware
are created every day.
- Multi-factor authentication and encryption
are the biggest hacker obstacles.
- You can become an American citizen for $6,000
- The average cost of data breaches will be about
$150 million in 2020.
The cybersecurity budget in the
US is $14.98 billion
Google Announced Today: Android, AI, Holograms
May 18, 2021)
The annual Google IO developer conference kicked off with a
two-hour keynote filled with announcements. Here are the
Is Who’s Behind the Global Surge in Single-Use Plastic.
(New York Times, May 18, 2021)
The throwaway plastic that holds our takeout food and wraps
our dry cleaning is widely seen as one of the world’s biggest
environmental hazards. It pollutes as it is produced, through
the extraction of fossil fuels, and, no sooner than it is
used, it pollutes again. It is thrown away and can end up
clogging waterways and choking animals or sometimes is burned,
sending hazardous fumes into the air.
Minderoo Foundation's detailed report Plastic
Waste Makers Index
, published today, sheds new
light on who makes all this single-use plastic, 130 million
tons a year at last count, and who makes money from it. A
surprisingly small group of giant manufacturers and investors
are at the heart of the global industry.
Businesses and banks behind global plastic waste crisis.
(Minderoo Foundation, May 18, 2021)
The contribution of individual plastic producers to the
plastic waste crisis has been exposed for the first time, as a
new report shows that just 20 companies produce over 50 per
cent of all single-use plastic. Top financial institutions
enabling plastic waste generation were also identified.
‘narrow’ pathway to a net zero future for greenhouse gases,
(Washington Post, May 18, 2021)
The International Energy Agency says massive investment shift
is needed in the next decade to get to net zero in 2050.
To limit climate change, by 2030 the world must install the
equivalent of the current largest solar park — every day. The
rate of energy efficiency improvements will have to triple
the rate of the past two decades. And by 2035, the sale of
the internal combustion engine needs to be a thing of the
Those are some of the items in a new International Energy
Agency report titled Net
Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector
which warns that the pathway to net zero is “achievable” but
“narrow.” The report hails the rapid growth in the number of
countries that have pledged to achieve net zero emissions;
those pledges now cover about 70 percent of global emissions
of carbon dioxide. China has pledged to reach net zero
emissions by 2060. But the report warns that in many cases
there is nothing backing up the pledges.
The IEA notes that overhauling the planet’s climate is a
tremendous economic opportunity
. According to the
agency, energy investment would surge to $5 trillion by 2030,
adding 0.4 percentage points to annual global growth. Thirty
million jobs would be created, though 5 million would be lost.
And by 2030, global GDP could be 4 percent higher than it
would be if the world economy continued on its current path.
In the report, the IEA has tried to spell out the measures
needed to reach net zero by 2050 and to provide a “road map”
that would outline interim steps along the way. The IEA road
map is aimed at keeping climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius
or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit — slightly more ambitious than the 2
degree Celsius target set in the Paris climate accord in
December 2015. The road map, however, is a difficult one. It
says that the sale of electric vehicles must go from around 5
percent of global car sales today to more than 60 percent by
2030. The amount of solar and wind power added every year
would have to quadruple.
If the international community could stick to the IEA road
map, there would be no need to invest in new fossil fuel
, the report says. Coal demand would plunge from
90 percent to just 1 percent of total energy use in 2050. The
demand for natural gas would drop by 55 percent, and oil would
tumble 75 percent to 24 million barrels per day, down from
around 90 million barrels in 2020. Instead, investment would
focus on electricity transmission and distribution grids, more
than tripling from now through 2030. The number of public
charging points for electric vehicles would soar from around 1
million today to 40 million in 2030, requiring investments of
almost $90 billion in 2030.
Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector
(74-min. video; International Energy Agency, May 18, 2021)
[The official report.]
aluminum-ion batteries outpower lithium-ion.
May 18, 2021)
Australian company Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) has
announced exciting performance test results for a new type of
aluminum-ion battery that can charge 10X faster than today's
lithium-ion units, while lasting much longer and needing no
cooling. In experiments performed by the Australian Institute
for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of
Queensland, coin cell prototypes of the new battery delivered
the following key performance figures.
Firstly, a power density around 7,000 W/kg. Power density puts
a number on how quickly a cell can charge and discharge. With
current lithium-ion batteries sitting between 250-700 W/kg,
this is a huge leap, and it puts the aluminum-ion battery
nearly on the level of ultracapacitors, which can deliver
around 12,000-14,000 W/kg.
Secondly, an energy density of 150-160 Wh/kg – so it carries
only around 60 percent of the energy per weight of today's
best commercial lithium-ion cells. Energy density has long
been the key spec sheet number for electric car batteries; the
greater the energy density, the more range you can get out of
your battery pack. So on energy density alone, this new GMG
battery wouldn't get a second glance from an EV manufacturer.
But its monster charge rate could change that, along with a
couple of other key advantages. These things can charge so
fast, says GMG, that a mobile phone running on this
aluminum-ion tech could get a full charge in 1-5 minutes. Take
that concept across to the electric car world, and you're
looking at an EV that travels 60 percent as far as an
equivalent Tesla on a charge, but that charges so damn fast
that range might become far less of an issue.
What's more, they vastly outlast lithium batteries in life
cycle testing, undergoing 2,000 full charge and discharge
cycles with no apparent deterioration in performance at all,
they are extremely safe, with low fire potential, and they're
more recyclable than lithium batteries too, at the end of
their useful life. And yes, they need no lithium. With some 90
percent of the world's lithium production and purchasing
running through China, the world's supply chains are
definitely vulnerable in trade disputes.
vaccines may not work in some people. It’s because of their
(Washington Post, May 18, 2021)
Early research shows that 15 to 80 percent of people with
certain medical conditions, such as specific blood cancers or
organ transplants, are generating few antibodies after
receiving coronavirus vaccines.
Orbiter Images First Coronal Mass Ejections – See the
Stunning Videos From Multiple Instruments.
video; European Space Agency.ESA, May 18, 2021)
First Solar Orbiter movies showing coronal mass ejections
(CMEs). A pair of CMEs were detected by multiple instruments
during February’s close flyby of the Sun. CMEs are eruptions
of particles from the solar atmosphere that blast out into the
Solar System and have the potential to trigger space weather
at Earth. Solar Orbiter will begin its main science mission in
November this year.
about being abandoned by Trump, Proud Boys’ chats reveal
preparations for ‘absolute war’.
(Daily Kos, May 18,
If anyone held out hope that the Proud Boys—with 18 members
awaiting trial for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol
insurrection—might eventually wither and blow away in its
aftermath, they should read through the Telegram messages
Ethan Nordean and his cohorts shared afterwards, when they had
returned to their homes but before their arrests.
York AG's office opens criminal probe into Trump
(3-min. video; NBC News, May 18, 2021)
The New York attorney general's office said Tuesday that it is
pursuing a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization,
in addition to the ongoing civil probe. "We have informed the
Trump Organization that our investigation into the
organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now
actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal
capacity, along with the Manhattan DA. We have no additional
comment at this time." Whether the former president's business
had inflated the value of its assets for the purposes of tax
breaks and loans has reportedly been the key issue.
Dark money group launches $2 million
pressure campaign on moderate lawmakers to pass parts of
(NPR News, May 18, 2021)
WorkMoney, a nonprofit that launched last year at the height
of the pandemic, is launching the effort, which includes
digital ads on Facebook and Google. The targets of the
campaign include Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten
Sinema and republicans Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey and Shelley
Moore Capito. Some of the lawmakers who will see pressure from
WorkMoney have already been in touch with Biden and seem to be
on the path to a compromise with the administration.
Krugman: The strange death of American modesty
Times, May 18, 2021)
Today, of course, the Republican Party has turned into a Trump
personality cult, even though Donald Trump’s actual
accomplishments are hard to find. A failed nuclear deal with
North Korea, a failed trade deal with China, a tax cut that
never delivered the promised investment boom, a mishandled
pandemic? Never mind. Obsequious professions of loyalty aren’t
just expected, they’ve become a requirement for those who want
to stay in the party. I’ve been especially struck by the
tendency of Trump acolytes to praise him for virtues he
manifestly doesn’t have. After The Times offered a description
of Joe Biden’s working style — not entirely flattering, but
reassuring in the sense that he’s clearly someone who takes
his job seriously and works hard at it — Kevin McCarthy, the
House minority leader, enthused about Trump’s physical vigor.
(Hey, he drives a mean golf cart.) These absurdities probably
aren’t an accident; they’re proof of loyalty. Anyone can offer
praise for qualities a man actually has; only the truly
subservient will humiliate themselves by offering flattery
totally untethered from reality.
A lot of this obviously has to do with the psychological
sickness that has afflicted the Republican Party. But I also
suspect that we’ve seen an erosion of egalitarian norms
throughout American society, simply because we’ve become a lot
less egalitarian. It’s a lot harder for top executives even to
play-act at being regular guys now that they’re paid almost
300 times as much as the average worker, up from “just” 20
times in the 1960s.
Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China
(New York Times, May 17, 2021)
Apple built the world’s most valuable business on top of
China. Now it has to answer to the Chinese government.
On the outskirts of Guiyang in a poor, mountainous province in
southwestern China, men in hard hats recently put the
finishing touches on a white building a quarter-mile long with
few windows and a tall surrounding wall. There was little sign
of its purpose, apart from the flags of Apple and China flying
out front, side by side.
Inside, Apple was preparing to store the personal data of its
Chinese customers on computer servers run by a state-owned
Chinese firm. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has said the
data is safe. But at the data center in Guiyang, which Apple
hoped would be completed by next month, and another in the
Inner Mongolia region, Apple has largely ceded control to the
Chinese government. Chinese state employees physically manage
the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it
used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital
keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in
the data centers they’re meant to secure.
cybersecurity 'industry best practices' keep allowing
(The Hill, May 17, 2021)
The hacking at Colonial Pipeline is the latest in a series of
breaches that have impacted a long-and-growing list of other
businesses — all ambushed by some individual or group that
managed to hack through cyber security “industry best
practices.” It is only getting worse. Reports surface daily
about new incidents involving prominent health care providers,
government agencies or retailers hit by hackers — thus
releasing millions or billions of pieces of sensitive
information all over the dark web.
Guarding over these critical resources, health care providers
and government agencies are a veritable army of information
security professionals. They sport impressive credentials and
certifications like Certified Information Systems Security
Professional (CISSP) and Certified Information System Auditor
(CISA). Many even have academic credentials, including
bachelors, master and doctoral degrees in information
security. All of them embrace the latest "industry best
So with all of these impressively credentialed experts, we
should be getting better at this "information security"
business, right? So, what is wrong? The core problem is that
"industry best practices" are not.
Not only are "industry best practices" not "best" practices,
but they are also dangerous practices. "Industry best
practices," for instance, dictate that network administrators
should be boxed in administratively. They should not be able
to see what is happening on workstations, servers or storage
resources. Server administrators, likewise, should be
administratively restricted from being able to monitor network
information or anything else that is not directly related to
one specific niche job function. These practices limit the
opportunity for a technically skilled employee to identify
anomalies — a key sign that someone may have breached security
and be roaming around preparing to launch the next big cyber
The "good guys" are administratively prevented from having a
holistic view of systems, networks, applications, workstations
and other resources — when this holistic view is exactly what
is needed to prevent cyber attacks. It seems the only person
with a truly holistic view of a corporate network and data
resources is the hacker. Unfortunately, hackers tend to not
comply with corporate information security policy.
the Left Got Its Wish for Israel
(New York Times, May
Imagine an alternative universe in which an enlightened
Israeli government did almost everything progressive America
demanded of it. An immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza.
An end to Israeli controls over the movement of goods into the
territory. A halt to settlement construction in the West Bank.
Renunciation of Israel’s sovereign claims in East Jerusalem.
Fast-track negotiations for Palestinian statehood, with the
goal of restoring the June 4, 1967, lines as an
internationally recognized border.
But there would be flies in this ointment. Damascus would
refuse to recognize Israel until it agreed to return the Golan
Heights, which even the most left-wing Israeli government
would refuse to do, given Bashar al-Assad’s record of
brutality and Iran’s extensive military presence in Syria.
Lebanon, dominated as it is by Hezbollah (an Iranian proxy),
would also refuse to recognize Israel, using the pretext of
the Shebaa Farms, a sliver of land that Beirut claims is
occupied Lebanese territory, even though the U.N. says
otherwise. As for Gaza, the end of the so-called blockade
(“so-called” because plenty of licit goods reach Gaza today
through Israeli border crossings) would turn the steady
trickle of military equipment into the strip, most of it from
Iran, into a cascade. Hamas, which currently makes do with
relatively unsophisticated rockets, would replenish its
arsenal with more powerful guided munitions, able to reach any
target in Israel.
This would require Israel to change its military doctrine
toward Hamas. Out would be the approach of periodically
degrading the group’s military capabilities through targeted
strikes. In would be a strategy calling for a full-scale land
invasion and reoccupation of the strip in order to defend the
Israeli heartland from Hamas’s missiles. The casualty count in
the next war would be multiples of what it is today.
[Also see, Hamas
founder’s son says Israel should kill terror group’s leaders
(New York Post, May 22, 2021)]
City Could Sink Up to 65 Feet.
(Wired, May 17, 2021)
Parts of the city are now dropping a foot and a half each
year. It’s the result of a geological phenomenon called
subsidence, which usually happens when too much water is drawn
from underground, and the land above begins to compact.
The Aztec people built their capital of Tenochtitlan on an
island in Lake Texcoco, which is nestled in a basin surrounded
by mountains. When the Spanish arrived, destroyed
Tenochtitlan, and massacred its people, they began draining
the lake and building on top of it. Bit by bit, the metropolis
that became modern-day Mexico City sprawled, until the lake
was no more. And that set in motion the physical changes that
began the sinking of the city. When the lake sediment under
Mexico City was still wet, its component particles of clay
were arranged in a disorganized manner. Think about throwing
plates into a sink, willy-nilly—their random orientations
allow lots of liquid to flow between them. But remove the
water—as Mexico City’s planners did when they drained the lake
in the first place, and as the city has done since then by
tapping the ground as an aquifer—and those particles rearrange
themselves to stack neatly, like plates put away in a
cupboard. With less space between the particles, the sediment
compacts. The thicker the clay in a given area, the faster
it’s sinking. Other areas, particularly in the city’s
outskirts, might not sink much at all because they’re sitting
on rock instead of sediment.
That actually exacerbates the situation because it creates a
dangerous differential. The infrastructure that spans the two
zones is sinking in some areas but staying at the same
elevation in others. And that threatens to break roads, metro
networks, and sewer systems. Historically, pumping groundwater
has solved communities’ immediate problems—keeping people and
crops alive—but created a much longer-term disaster. A study
earlier this year found that by the year 2040, 1.6 billion
people could be affected by subsidence.
Baker says Mass. will lift pandemic-related restrictions on
business effective on May 29th.
; Boston Globe, May 17, 2021)
In a stunning move Monday, Governor Charlie Baker said
Massachusetts will lift all pandemic-related restrictions on
businesses on Memorial Day weekend, moving up the full
reopening date by two months in the most telling sign yet that
the state’s easing its way back to normalcy after more than a
year of death, sickness, and punishing lockdowns.
is headed for a climate tipping point by 2060, with
catastrophic melting if carbon emissions aren’t cut quickly.
(The Conversation, May 17, 2021)
While U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken draws attention
to climate change in the Arctic at meetings with other
national officials this week in Iceland, an even greater
threat looms on the other side of the planet.
New research shows it is Antarctica that may force a reckoning
between the choices countries make today about greenhouse gas
emissions and the future survival of their coastlines and
coastal cities, from New York to S pphanghai. That reckoning
may come much sooner than people realize. The Arctic is losing
ice as global temperatures rise, and that is directly
affecting lives and triggering feedback loops that fuel more
warming. But the big wild card for sea level rise is
Antarctica. It holds enough land ice to raise global sea
levels by more than 200 feet (60 meters) – roughly 10 times
the amount in the Greenland ice sheet – and we’re already
seeing signs of trouble.
Supreme Court Gives Big Oil a Win in Climate Fight With
(New York Times, May 17, 2021)
But in the case, filed by the city of Baltimore, the high
court gave the fossil fuel industry far less than it had asked
for. The decision in the case did not deal with the merits of
the lawsuit, which Baltimore filed to try to compel fossil
fuel companies to help pay the costs of dealing with climate
change. Instead, the justices focused on narrow issues
concerning the rules for appealing lower-court decisions that
send cases to state courts.
Life May Not Be Like Earth Life: Scientists Find Molecular
Patterns That May Help Identify Extraterrestrial Life.
(Tokyo Institute of Technology, May 17, 2021)
Scientists have begun the search for extraterrestrial life in
the Solar System in earnest, but such life may be subtly or
profoundly different from Earth-life, and methods based on
detecting particular molecules as biosignatures may not apply
to life with a different evolutionary history. A new study by
a joint Japan/US-based team, led by researchers at the
Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of
Technology, has developed a machine learning technique that
assesses complex organic mixtures using mass spectrometry to
reliably classify them as biological or abiological.
New Propulsion System Could Enable
Flying at Speeds Up to Mach 17.
(SciTechDaily, May 17,
The new propulsion system could allow for flight speeds of
Mach 6 to 17 (more than 4,600 to 13,000 miles per hour) and
would have applications in air and space travel. The discovery
of stabilizing a detonation — the most powerful form of
intense reaction and energy release — has the potential to
revolutionize hypersonic propulsion and energy systems.
University of Central Florida researchers are building on
their technology that could pave the way for hypersonic
flight, such as travel from New York to Los Angeles in under
[13,000 mph, the same speed as those UFOs (see below)?
Coincidence, you say?? I think not!]
some Navy pilots, UFO sightings were an ordinary event:
‘Every day for at least a couple years’.
Post, May 17, 2021)
The interview — part of a “60 Minutes” report dedicated to the
subject — signaled something new: UFOs are going mainstream.
regularly spotted in restricted U.S. airspace, report on the
phenomena due next month.
(CBS News, May 16, 2021)
Bill Whitaker reports on the regular sightings of unidentified
aerial phenomena, or UAP, that have spurred a report due to
Congress next month. "Imagine a tech that does 600-700G forces
at 13,000 mph, evades radar, flies thru air, water and
possibly space, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings,
no control surfaces and defies Earth's gravity. That's
precisely what we're seeing. The government has already stated
for the record that they're real. I'm not telling you that.
The United States government is telling you that.".
Power Sector Is Already Halfway to Zero Carbon Emissions.
(SciTechDaily, May 16, 2021)
Concerns about climate change are driving a growing number of
states, utilities, and corporations to set the goal of zeroing
out power-sector carbon emissions. To date 17 states plus
Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico have adopted laws or
executive orders to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity in
the next couple of decades. Additionally, 46 U.S. utilities
have pledged to go carbon free no later than 2050. Altogether,
these goals cover about half of the U.S. population and
economy. These are ambitious targets, but a new look at the
past 15 years in the electricity sector shows that large
reductions in emissions are possible.
New research from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) analyzes historical trends
to examine how much progress the power sector has already made
in reducing emissions. The study, Halfway
to Zero: Progress towards a Carbon-Free Power Sector
looks back at the 2005 Annual Energy Outlook from the Energy
Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. government’s
official agency for data collection and analysis.
“Business-as-usual projections saw annual carbon dioxide
emissions rising from 2,400 to 3,000 million metric tons (MMT)
from 2005 to 2020,” said Berkeley Lab scientist Ryan Wiser,
lead author of the study. “But actual 2020 emissions fell to
only 1,450 MMT. The U.S. cut power sector emissions by 52%
below projected levels – we are now ‘halfway to zero.’”
According to the study, relative to projected values, total
consumer electricity costs were 18% lower; costs to human
health and the climate were 92% and 52% lower, respectively;
and the number of jobs in electricity generation was 29%
Worst Mass Extinction Took Ten Times Longer on Land Than in
(SciTechDaily, May 16, 2021)
It’s not clear exactly why the mass extinction event happened
so much more slowly on land. “The changes to the Earth’s
climate were cumulative and added up over time. Ecosystems
were slowly disrupted, and then it just got to a point where
everything collapsed, like the straw that breaks the camel’s
back,” says Viglietti. “Everything’s fine, until it’s not.”
One reason for the discrepancy could be that the oceans can
absorb chemical changes and stabilize themselves, up to a
point. “In today’s climate crisis, the oceans can absorb a lot
of carbon dioxide or rise in temperature without people
realizing, and then all of a sudden you get sudden ecosystem
breakdowns like ocean acidification and coral bleaching,” says
Viglietti. The same might be true for the late Permian oceans.
Understanding what happened in the end-Permian mass extinction
gives us clues about the rise of the dinosaurs—many of the
ancient mammal relatives went extinct, leaving ecological
vacancies that dinosaur ancestors evolved to fill. But the
end-Permian extinction also provides insights into the mass
extinction event that the Earth is currently undergoing due to
climate change and habitat destruction. The environmental
changes that we are causing and the impacts we are having on
animal and plant species are getting to the point where the
scale is such that there isn’t really anything in human
history that is comparable. The fossil record can give us some
idea of what massive biodiversity crises are like and how they
proceed. It takes a long time to recover from extinction. When
we lose diversity, it’s not going to recover in our lifetime,
it’s going to take hundreds of thousands of years, or even
millions. Studies like this one show what our society should
be focusing on.
Take ‘White Supremacist Hand Gestures’ for $1,000.
York Times, May 16, 2021)
Hundreds of “Jeopardy!” contestants talked themselves into a
baseless conspiracy theory — and won’t be talked out of it.
These are smart people, who in general are polite. And that, I
think, is the point here. The contestants’ investigations of
Mr. Donohue had all the signal traits of a normal social media
hunt gone awry — largely, that you assume your conclusion and
go looking for evidence. And they followed the deep partisan
grooves of contemporary politics, in which liberals believed
the absolute worst of a Trump supporter. But they also
contained a thread of real conspiracy thinking — not just that
racism is a source of Trumpian politics, but that apparently
ordinary people are communicating through secret signals. It
reflects a depth of alienation among Americans, in which our
warring tribes squint through the fog at one another for
mysterious and abstruse signs of malice.
man shot 11 times in 2.4 seconds but grand jury fails to
indict Louisiana officers.
(Daily Kos, May 16, 2021)
A grand jury decided not to indict police officers involved in
the shooting death of Trayford Pellerin, a Black Louisiana
man, who was walking away from police with a knife when they
shot him 11 times. The jury was instructed to only consider
the charge of second degree murder and no lesser charges
Granlund said it right.
political contributions, ambassador nod are subject of
(San Diego Union-Tribune, May 15, 2021)
Manchester, a well-known contributor to the Republican Party
and to GOP elected officials and candidates, was nominated to
become the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas in May 2017, just
months into the Trump administration. But the nomination
stalled in the U.S. Senate, prompting Trump to re-nominate
Manchester to the post early in 2018. That nomination also was
held up from Senate approval. Manchester withdrew his
nomination in October 2019, saying that he was removing his
name from consideration due to threats to his family.
The subpoena orders the recipient to “produce any and all
records, documents and correspondence” in their possession,
custody or control from May 1, 2017, to the present related to
political donations made by Douglas Manchester, the unnamed
Manchester and “Douglas or (redacted) Manchester’s family and/
or the nomination of Douglas Manchester to be the U.S.
Ambassador to the Bahamas.”
Trump appointed more political supporters over career public
servants than any of his predecessors dating back to Gerald
Ford, according to the American Foreign Service Association.
About 44 percent of ambassadors appointed by Trump were
political appointees, compared with a historical average of
about 30 percent.
Years of Quiet, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Exploded. Why
(New York Times, May 15, 2021)
A little-noticed police action in Jerusalem last month was one
of several incidents that led to the current crisis.
Twenty-seven days before the first rocket was fired from Gaza
this week, a squad of Israeli police officers entered the Aqsa
Mosque in Jerusalem, brushed the Palestinian attendants aside
and strode across its vast limestone courtyard. Then they cut
the cables to the loudspeakers that broadcast prayers to the
faithful from four medieval minarets. It was the night of
April 13, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
It was also Memorial Day in Israel, which honors those who
died fighting for the country. The Israeli president was
delivering a speech at the Western Wall, a sacred Jewish site
that lies below the mosque, and Israeli officials were
concerned that the prayers would drown it out.
Oldest Human Burial Site Uncovered – Child Buried 78,000
(SciTechDaily, May 15, 2021)
At Panga ya Saidi, in Kenya, north of Mombasa, the body of a
three-year-old, dubbed Mtoto (Swahili for ‘child’) by the
researchers, was deposited and buried in an excavated pit
approximately 78,000 years ago. Through analysis of sediments
and the arrangement of the bones, the research team showed
that the body had been protected by being wrapped in a shroud
made of perishable material, and that the head had likely
rested on an object also of perishable material.
Though there are no signs of offerings or ochre, both common
at more recent burial sites, the funerary treatment given
Mtoto suggests a complex ritual that likely required the
active participation of many members of the child’s community.
Though Mtoto was a Homo sapiens, the child’s dental
morphology, in contrast with that observed in human remains of
the same period, preserves certain archaic traits connecting
it to distant African ancestors. This apparently confirms
that, as has often been posited in recent years, our species
has extremely old and regionally diverse roots in the African
continent where it arose.
Just Sea Level Rise: How the Climate Crisis is Changing Our
(Climate Reality Project, May 14, 2021)
Warming oceans mean powerful storms. They mean dying coral and
dwindling or shifting fish populations. They mean lost
livelihoods and hungry bellies. They mean migration – and all
that comes with it.
should be worried about how much info WhatsApp shares with
(The Guardian, May 14, 2021)
Facebook is pushing a mysterious and aggressive ‘privacy
update’ on WhatsApp users. Here’s why.
to Protect Your Wi-Fi From FragAttacks.
May 14, 2021)
FragAttacks are a group of security vulnerabilities that can
be used to attack Wi-Fi devices. Every Wi-Fi device ever
created appears vulnerable, making it possible for attackers
to steal sensitive data or attack devices on your network.
Here’s what you need to know.
Mask Guidance, Shots for Teens, and More Coronavirus News.
(Wired, May 14, 2021)
New COVID-19 variant surges in India and Nepal, spreads to UK.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announces that
fully vaccinated Americans can forgo masking and social
distancing in most indoor and outdoor settings.
and open-source communities rise to Biden's cybersecurity
(ZDNet, May 14, 2021)
Anyone who thought computer security problems were some
abstract trouble that had little to do with their daily life
was rudely awakened recently. The Colonial Pipeline ransomware
attack saw gas and oil deliveries shut down throughout the
southeast. Cybersecurity failures had already become a major
problem with the SolarWinds software supply chain attack and
the FBI having to step in to fix broken Microsoft Exchange
servers. So, on May 12th President Joe Biden signed an
executive order to boost the federal government cyber defense
and to warn all of America that technology security must be
job one now. The Linux Foundation and its related
organizations are stepping up to better Linux and open-source
The executive order recognized the vital importance of
open-source software. It reads in part: "Within 90 days of
publication of the preliminary guidelines … shall issue
guidance identifying practices that enhance the security of
the software supply chain." Open-source software is
specifically named. The government must ensure "to the extent
practicable, to the integrity and provenance of open-source
software used within any portion of a product."
Specifically, it must try to provide a Software Bill of
Materials (SBOM). "This is a formal record containing the
details and supply chain relationships of various components
used in building software."
92% of applications contain open source components. Indeed,
the average modern software application may be made up of as
much as 70% open-source software.
If your open-source software provides an SPDX SBOM it already
meets the executive order's requirements. To assist with
further SPDX adoption, the Linux Foundation is paying to write
SPDX plugins for major package managers. It's the only way to
make certain you know what's really in your open-source
programs and that's become a matter of national importance.
This is not just a problem, of course, with open-source
software. With open-source software, you can actually see the
code so it's easier to make an SBOM. Proprietary programs,
like the recently, massively exploited Microsoft Exchange
disaster, are black boxes. There's no way to really know
what's in Apple or Microsoft software. Indeed, the
biggest supply-chain security disaster so far, the Solarwinds
catastrophic failure to secure its software supply chain, was
because of proprietary software chain failures.
Best Browsers for Security and Privacy in 2021
As companies get better at following you around your favorite
web pages and collecting your data, the case for secure and
private browsing has never been clearer.
Shuts Down Hospital Computer Systems Nationwide After
(MSN, May 14, 2021)
Ireland’s public health care system, known as the Health
Service Executive or HSE, shut down all of its computer
systems nationwide Friday after hospital administrators became
aware of a cyberattack late Thursday.
health system says it’s targeted in ransomware attack
(Associated Press, May 14, 2021)
National healthcare services are already under strain from the
pandemic, which will make this ransomware attack even more
devastating. That fact will not be lost on the hackers.
In the U.S., the nation’s largest fuel pipeline was hit with a
ransomware attack a week ago. The disruption of the Colonial
Pipeline caused long lines at gas stations due to distribution
problems and panic-buying, draining supplies at thousands of
gas stations. It restarted operations on Wednesday.
The attacks on the pipeline and the Irish health care system
both show “criminal groups are choosing targets that will have
the greatest impact on governments and the public, regardless
of the collateral damage, in order to apply the most
attacker Darkside suddenly goes dark—here’s what we know.
(Ars Technica, May 14, 2021)
The closure may mean the group is ceasing or altering ops—or
pulling an exit scam.
[Excellent summary article.]
the Colonial Pipeline hack is part of a growing ransomware
trend in the US
(The Guardian, May 14, 2021)
Cyber criminals have attacked solar power firms, water
treatment plants and police departments in attempts to extort
Pipeline Paid a $5M Ransom—and Kept a Vicious Cycle Turning.
(Wired, May 14, 2021)
Stopping payments would go a long way to stopping ransomware.
But the choice is never quite so easy.
Pipeline Paid Hackers Nearly $5 Million in Ransom.
(Bloomberg, May 13, 2021)
The company paid the hefty ransom in difficult-to-trace
cryptocurrency within hours after the attack, underscoring the
immense pressure faced by the Georgia-based operator to get
gasoline and jet fuel flowing again to major cities along the
Eastern Seaboard, those people said. A third person familiar
with the situation said U.S. government officials are aware
that Colonial made the payment.
Much of the nation's critical infrastructure is owned by
private companies such as Colonial, limiting how much the
White House can do on its own.
how much your personal information is worth to
cybercriminals – and what they do with it.
Conversation, May 13, 2021)
Data breaches have become common, and billions of records are
stolen worldwide every year. Most of the media coverage of
data breaches tends to focus on how the breach happened, how
many records were stolen and the financial and legal impact of
the incident for organizations and individuals affected by the
breach. But what happens to the data that is stolen during
Flaws Affect Almost Every Wi-Fi Device.
(Wired, May 13,
The so-called Frag Attack vulnerabilities could let hackers
steal data or compromise connected gadgets.
Palm Beach is preparing for a possible Trump indictment
(Politico, May 13, 2021)
Law enforcement officials in Palm Beach County, Fla., have
actively prepared for the possibility that Manhattan District
Attorney Cy Vance could indict former President Donald Trump
while he’s at Mar-a-Lago, according to two high-ranking county
officials involved in planning sessions.
Among the topics discussed in those meetings: how to handle
the thorny extradition issues that could arise if an
indictment moves forward. An obscure clause in Florida’s
statute on interstate extradition gives Florida Gov. Ron
Desantis the ability to intervene and even investigate whether
an indicted “person ought to be surrendered” to law
enforcement officials from another state — which means that as
Mar-a-Lago prepares to close down for the season and Trump
relocates to Bedminster, N.J., it isn’t just the Florida heat
he’s leaving behind: He could lose a key piece of political
Ratings Are So Bad The Republicans Are Hiding Them.
(Medium, May 13, 2021)
Republicans are on track to lose the midterm elections.
Liz Cheney has been purged from the Republican House
leadership because she had the audacity to refuse to bow down
to Trump. She’s not the first Republican to reject membership
in the Trump cult and she won’t be the last.
I think what the rest of us are wondering is why the
Republican Party remains so loyal to a one term, twice
impeached ex-president living in exile and ranting on his own
website because he has been banned from social media. Have you
seen his ratings lately? They are so bad that the party is
hiding them from donors and even members of Congress. An NBC
News Poll from April found that Trump’s favorability ratings
among all voters was 32%. It’s only 14% among independent
voters. Even Republicans’ own internal polling shows abysmal
results. In April, Trump’s unfavorable ratings are 15 points
higher than his favorable ratings. Twice as many voters had
very unfavorable views of him than voters who had very
favorable views of him. Adding insult to injury, in those same
districts where the polling was conducted (which I assume were
areas that were thought to be favorable to Trump and
Trumpism), both Biden and Harris were more popular than Trump.
No wonder the NRC is hiding those internal polls. Yet they are
allowing Trump to choose which candidates run in which races.
They are allowing him to primary senators and representatives
who voted to impeach or convict him. And they are allowing him
to float the idea that he will run in 2024, even musing about
possible running mates. All despite the fact that 2/3 of
voters have unfavorable views of him. Two thirds!
What party in their right mind would run a candidate for
president that only 1/3 of voters viewed in a favorable light?
Oh wait. Trump’s approval ratings were pretty stable
throughout his presidency at only 38%. So I can see why a 32%
approval rating for him doesn’t strike anyone as reason to
prevent him from running again.
Still, I fail to understand why Republicans have staked their
future on a deeply unpopular, mentally ill old man. Look what
you’re up against. A popular president with a 63% approval
rating according to an Associated Press-NORC poll released May
10. That’s up 2 points since late March. It also says that 23%
of Republicans approve of what Biden has done in his first
three months in office. 54% of Americans say that the nation
is on the right track. 71% approve of the way Biden has been
handling the pandemic. That includes 47% of Republicans. So
you are up against a president who is twice as popular as
Trump was at any time during his presidency.
Cheney Calls Out Fox News on Fox News: You Have ‘Obligation’
to Say ‘Election Wasn’t Stolen’.
(9-min. video; Daily
Beast, May 13, 2021)
Amid polls showing nearly 90 percent of Fox viewers believe in
the “Big Lie,” Cheney told the network’s chief anchor that Fox
needs to tell its audience the election was legit.
Video: Dark Money Group Brags About Writing GOP Voter
Suppression Bills Across the Country.
Mother Jones, May 13, 2021)
“We did it quickly and we did it quietly,” said the executive
director of Heritage Action. In a private meeting last month
with big-money donors, the head of a top conservative group
boasted that her outfit had crafted the new voter suppression
law in Georgia and was doing the same with similar bills for
Republican state legislators across the country. “In some
cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have
a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it
has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”
Yankees Covid Outbreak May Be Bad News for Ditching Masks.
(Wired, May 13, 2021)
The spate of cases is a bad bounce—and it might show that
lifting mask mandates for the vaxxed won’t be a grand slam.
of Epidemiologists Expected Mask-Wearing in Public for at
Least a Year.
(New York Times, May 13, 2021)
When federal health officials said on Thursday that fully-vaccinated
Americans no longer needed to wear masks in most places
it came as a surprise to many people in public health.
It also was a stark contrast with the views of a large
majority of epidemiologists surveyed in the last two weeks by
The New York Times. In the informal survey, 80 percent said
they thought Americans would need to wear masks in public
indoor places for at least another year. Just 5 percent said
people would no longer need to wear masks indoors by this
summer. In large crowds outdoors, like at a concert or
protest, 88 percent of the epidemiologists said it was
necessary even for fully-vaccinated people to wear masks.
60-Year-Old Scientific Screw-+++up That Helped Covid Kill
(Wired, May 13, 2021)
All pandemic long, scientists brawled over how the virus
spreads. Droplets! No, aerosols! At the heart of the fight was
a teensy error with huge consequences.
Eco-Friendly Plastic: The Future Looks Bright for
Infinitely-Recyclable PDK Plastic.
Plastics are a part of nearly every product we use on a daily
basis. The average person in the U.S. generates about 100 kg
of plastic waste per year, most of which goes straight to a
A team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)
set out to change that. Less than two years ago, they
announced the invention of a new plastic that could tackle the
waste crisis head on. Called poly(diketoenamine), or PDK, the
material has all the convenient properties of traditional
plastics while avoiding the environmental pitfalls, because
unlike traditional plastics, PDKs can be recycled indefinitely
with no loss in quality. Now, the team has released a study
that shows what can be accomplished if manufacturers began
using PDKs on a large scale.
The bottom line? PDK-based plastic could quickly become
commercially competitive with conventional plastics, and the
products will get less expensive and more sustainable as time
Krugman: Return of the monetary cockroaches
Times, May 13, 2021)
Some years back I tried to make a distinction between zombie
ideas — ideas that should have been killed by evidence, but
just keep shambling along, eating people’s brains — and
cockroach ideas, false beliefs that sometimes go away for a
while but always come back.
And lately I’ve been noticing an infestation of monetary
cockroaches. In particular, I’m hearing a lot of buzz around
how the Fed’s wanton abuse of its power to create money will
soon lead to runaway inflation — or maybe that we’re already
experiencing high inflation, but it’s being hidden by
dishonest government statistics.
There was a lot of talk along those lines a decade ago, but it
faded out as it became obvious to everyone that hyperinflation
just wasn’t happening. Now it’s back, I think for a couple of
A Perfect Storm; When tropical storms meet
(Downloadable report; U.S. PIRG, May
Contaminants of concern at toxic waste sites on the National
Priorities List include arsenic, lead, mercury, benzene,
dioxin, and other hazardous chemicals that may increase the
risk of cancer, reproductive problems, birth defects, and
other serious illnesses. Recent research also shows that
living near one of these sites can lower life expectancy.
Today, one in five Americans lives within just three miles of
a Superfund site. Cleanup can take a decade or more, and
decreased funding over the last 20 years has led to slower
Meanwhile, each year natural disasters threaten to impact
toxic waste sites. Tropical storms and hurricanes wreak havoc
on impacted communities -- from dangerous and costly wind and
flood damage, to knocking out power for entire communities, to
contaminating drinking water, to wiping out homes and
destroying essential community resources.
Of Aluminum-Ion Battery Claims It Charges 60 Times Faster
Than Lithium-Ion, Offering EV Range Breakthrough.
(Forbes, May 13, 2021)
Range anxiety, recycling and fast-charging fears could all be
consigned to electric-vehicle history with a nanotech-driven
Australian battery invention. The graphene aluminum-ion
battery cells from the Brisbane-based Graphene Manufacturing
Group (GMG) are claimed to charge up to 60 times faster than
the best lithium-ion cells and hold three time the energy of
the best aluminum-based cells.
no longer accept Bitcoin over climate concerns, says Musk.
(2-min. video; BBC News, May 13, 2021)
"We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels
for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which
has the worst emissions of any fuel," Mr Musk wrote.
"Cryptocurrency is a good idea... but this cannot come at
great cost to the environment."
He also said the electric carmaker would not sell any of its
Bitcoin, and intends to use it for transactions as soon as
mining shifts to using more sustainable energy.
"Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) issues
are now a major motivation for many investors. Tesla, being a
clean energy-focused company, might want to work better in the
environmental area of ESG," Julia Lee from Burman Invest told
the BBC. "But a cynic might suggest that this is just another
move by Elon Musk to influence the cryptocurrency market, as
he has done on so many other occasions," she added.
[See this article's video, graph on Bitcoin volatility (300%
growth after Musk praised it in January!), and excellent
sections on Analysis and on Concerns About Bitcoin.]
Miller reveals that Trump delayed National Guard for hours
on January 6th.
(8-min. video; Daily Kos, May 13, 2021)
Under questioning by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (that portion of
the hearing can be viewed here
), Acting Defense Sec.
Christopher Miller revealed that there was a three-hour delay
between when the Capitol Riot started and when the National
Guard were finally being deployed. Requests for the National
Guard had come from the Mayor of DC, the local National Guard
commander, from the Sargent at Arms for the Capitol and
from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s office but it wasn't
until Miller had a conversation with Mike Pence at 4:08 pm
that the Guard was finally authorized at 4:32 pm.
Miller’s exact reason for this delay was rather vague and
nebulous but we do know who didn't give him a call. He didn't
get a call to release the Guard from Donald Trump. After rules
established following the deployment of the Guard against
Black Lives Matter in DC during the summer, the authorization
had been kicked up the chain of command to the White House. If
Trump (or Pence) didn't make the call, the Guard wasn't
Trump was watching the Insurrection unfold on live TV. He had
a conversation with Kevin McCarthy where after first claiming
the attackers were “from Antifa” he told him, “I guess these
people are more upset about the election than you are.” He
didn't release his weak statement to "go home, we love you”
until nearly 4pm. Twitter locked his account for his
encouragement of the riot at 4:02 pm.
Trump sat on his hands this entire time. It was because
Pence finally stepped in that the Guard were deployed at all.
acting defense secretary explains why he blocked use of
National Guard on Jan. 6th.
(Daily Kos, May 12, 2021)
When the commander of the Washington, D.C. National Guard
testified before the House Oversight committee back on March
3, he had a lot to say about former Secretary of Defense
Christopher Miller. According to Major General William Walker,
it was Miller who placed a long line of restrictions on what
the National Guard could and could not do in response to the
Donald Trump rally on Jan. 6, and Miller was a major roadblock
in providing a response—much to the frustration of Walker.
To make his position very clear, Miller issued a letter to the
secretary of the Army on Jan. 4 that put explicit—and
unprecedented—restrictions on Guard activity. This included
forbidding National Guard members from wearing protective gear
like helmets, not to share either equipment or intelligence
with law enforcement, and not to be “physically interactive
with” the Trump supporters at the rally.
Further testimony from Pentagon official Robert Salesses made
it clear that Miller “wanted to take personal control” of the
situation involving the National Guard and potential responses
to both the scheduled rally, and the events that unfolded
after that rally took place.
Now, after all this discussion about Miller’s motivations and
extraordinary actions, it’s his turn to testify.
to stop accepting Bitcoin over concerns of fossil fuels,
says CEO Elon Musk.
(USA Today, May 12, 2021)
"We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels
for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which
has the worst emissions of any fuel,” Musk tweeted.
The change comes nearly two months after Musk announced Tesla
would accept the cryptocurrency as payment. The price of
Bitcoin dropped as low as 4.92% nearly 45 minutes after Musks'
announcement. Musk added that the electric car company would
not be selling Bitcoin and will look into other
cryptocurrencies that use less than 1% of Bitcoin's energy.
"Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe
it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost
to the environment."
Leads in EV Sales, but for How Long?
May 12, 2021)
Europe and China were the largest electric vehicle (EV)
markets by a wide margin in 2020. EV adoption in the U.S. is
expected to rise as the Biden administration works to increase
industry incentives - including the installation of at least
500,000 charging stations by 2030.
rejects NRA’s bankruptcy bid, allowing New York’s lawsuit
against the gun group to proceed.
(The Conversation, May
5 questions answered.
America’s partisan divide over pandemic responses played out
in the States.
(The Conversation, May 12, 2021)
Looking at states’ COVID-19 case and death rates, researchers
are finding the more stringent policies typical of Democratic
governors led to lower rates of infections and deaths,
compared to the the pandemic responses of the average
Republican governor. In preparation for future pandemics, it
may be worth considering how to address the impact that a
state government’s partisan leanings can have on the scope and
severity of a public health crises.
– Software Is Able to Turn Thoughts About Handwriting Into
Words and Sentences.
(SciTechDaily, May 12, 2021)
Stanford University investigators have coupled
artificial-intelligence software with a device, called a
brain-computer interface, implanted in the brain of a man with
full-body paralysis. The software was able to decode
information from the BCI to quickly convert the man’s thoughts
about handwriting into text on a computer screen.
Case for Letting People Work From Home Forever.
May 12, 2021)
Do you want happier, productive, more engaged, and more
fulfilled employees and coworkers? Well, you should campaign
to let them work remotely. Here's why.
California Air Resources Board Challenges Our Carbon Credits
Investigations. We Respond.
Review, May 12, 2021)
The California Air Resources Board sent a letter to ProPublica
challenging our recent stories on flaws with that state’s
forest carbon offset program. Our investigation, which was
co-reported and published with MIT Technology Review, reported
on a recent study from the nonprofit CarbonPlan, which found
that the program had issued up to 39 million carbon credits
without real climate benefits.
focused on the study’s main conclusions, and the second
was about the debate over how to ensure
additionality — that the program brought about carbon savings
that wouldn’t otherwise have happened. The board has not asked
for any corrections. Its full letter is available here
The Massachusetts Audubon Society, which sold carbon credits
that were ultimately purchased by California polluters under
the offset program, also issued a statement, available here
Pipeline restarted operations, owners say 'it will take
several days' for supply chain to return to normal.
Today, May 12, 2021)
The pipeline was set to resume operations around 5 p.m. ET,
but the company said "it will take several days for the
product delivery supply chain to return to normal." Colonial
Pipeline Co. had to shut it down Saturday following a
The shut-off of the pipeline, the primary fuel conduit serving
the East Coast, spurred gasoline shortages in the southeastern
and mid-Atlantic states. Gas prices jumped just above $3 a
gallon Wednesday, and many gas stations in the Southeast were
out of fuel as panicking motorists rushed to fill up in the
wake of the cyberattack on a crucial regional pipeline.
Time Hitler’s Girlfriend Visited Iceland and the British
(32-min. audio; Hakai Magazine, May 11, 2021)
The location of this small island nation, along with its
people and economy, played an unexpected and crucial role in
the outcome of the Second World War.
The following excerpt, “That Time Hitler’s Girlfriend Visited
Iceland and the British Invaded,” is from Egill Bjarnason’s
first book, How Iceland Changed the World
. Iceland, it
turns out has shown up unexpectedly—and has had an outsized
role—in many world-changing events.
magnets could unlock plentiful power.
(BBC News, May 11,
The promise of a working fusion reactor has been around for
decades (and always will be, so the old joke goes).
"We think our technology will be deployable in a fusion pilot
plant in the early 2030s," he says. "I think it will be a
global race. There are interesting private ventures in the
States. And we will be in a race with them."
Oregon Doctor Who Refused To Wear Masks Was Ordered To Stop
Practicing Medicine During The Pandemic.
May 11, 2021)
The state medical board ruled that the doctor "constitutes an
immediate danger to the public, and presents a serious danger
to the public health and safety."
'The big lie is spreading like a cancer' among GOP.
Hill, May 11, 2021)
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered fiery
criticism of Republicans on Tuesday for efforts around the
country to tighten voter laws amid unproven claims made by
former President Trump that the 2020 election was stolen.
Schumer, speaking at a Senate Rules Committee meeting on a
sweeping elections overhaul bill, accused Republicans of
trying to act upon the "big lie that the election was stolen"
to "placate" and "please" Trump.
vs. Democracy: Companies and the Attack on Voting Rights and
(Greenpeace USA, May 10, 2021
We only have a handful of years left to reduce the power of
fossil fuel companies polluting our communities, our climate,
and our democratic systems before we will rocket past climate
thresholds and find ourselves at a catastrophic point of no
return-- unless we first fix our broken democracy.
Dollars vs. Democracy
is a new report from Greenpeace
Inc., about how corporations contribute to the attacks on our
freedom to vote and silence our right to dissent. Actions
speak louder than words. Even though a growing number of
companies have spoken out in defense of democracy and voting
rights, many of these same companies contributed to
legislators sponsoring anti-voter or anti-protest bills during
their most recent election campaigns.
Of the 100 companies who endorsed the April 14 “We Stand for
Democracy,” statement opposing “any discriminatory legislation
or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from
having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot,” 12
contributed to the sponsors of 43 anti-voter bills
analyzed. The report also found that five of the 10
companies that donated most to sponsors of state anti-voter
legislation also rank among the top 10 corporate donors to
sponsors of anti-protest bills.
Goes Ballistic After Arizona Recounters Demand Access To
(Huffington Post, May 10, 2021)
Giving computer network router and password information to a
firm run by a conspiracy theorist is “mind-numbingly
reckless,” the Maricopa County sheriff said.
OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Heads for Earth with Asteroid Sample.
(Business Insider, May 10, 2021)
After nearly five years in space, NASA's Origins, Spectral
Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith
Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is on its way back to Earth
with an abundance of rocks and dust from the near-Earth
nonprofit promised to preserve wildlife. Then it made
millions claiming it could cut down trees.
(ProPublica/MIT Technology Review, May 10, 2021)
The Massachusetts Audubon Society has managed its land as
wildlife habitat for years. Here’s how the carbon credits it
sold may have fueled climate change.
[See prior article of April 29th, below.]
Attorneys General Ask Facebook to Abandon Instagram Kids.
(Vice, May 10, 2021)
signed by the attorneys general of 44 states
Facebook of historically failing to protect children. The
attorneys general argue that social media is often harmful for
children’s mental health, referencing research linking apps
like Instagram to decreased self-esteem, as well as
self-injurious behavior. They also argue that children do not
fundamentally possess a developed understanding of privacy and
pointed to the risks of cyberbullying.
In perhaps the most combative section of the letter, the
signatories point to Facebook’s “record of failing to protect
the safety and privacy of children on its platform.” The
concerns echo longstanding critiques of the platform, which
reported 20 million instances of child sexual abuse in 2020.
In 2019, The Verge reported that a bug in Facebook’s messenger
kids meant that children could enter into group chats with
More fundamentally, the letter argues that Instagram Kids is
simply an attempt to expand Facebook’s reach into a vulnerable
group of users, rather than create an actually safer
environment for them. “It appears that Facebook is not
responding to a need, but instead creating one, as this
platform appeals primarily to children who otherwise do not or
would not have an Instagram account,” the attorneys general
write. “In short, an Instagram platform for young children is
harmful for myriad reasons.”
Facebook relies on hooking people with free products that
collect as much data about them as possible. Is it problematic
that Facebook wants to target children 13 and below with its
products? 44 U.S. attorneys general seem to think so.
and Queer AI Groups Say They'll Spurn Google Funding.
(Wired, May 10, 2021)
The move is the latest fallout following the departures of the
heads of the company's ethical AI research team and a
Soon Will Your Landline Be Obsolete?
(Bob Rankin, May
Less than two percent of U.S. adults have only a landline
without cellphone service. Millions of consumers are 'cutting
the cord' of landline phone service and switching to cellular
or VoIP (Internet calling) services. If you’re one of the
holdouts, you may be forced to give up your beloved
copper-based phone line in the next few years. Here is why
landlines are doomed, and a look at some alternatives you
should be considering.
pipeline hackers 'didn't mean to create problems'.
News, May 10, 2021)
A cyber-criminal gang that took a major US fuel pipeline
offline over the weekend has acknowledged the incident in a
public statement. "Our goal is to make money and not creating
problems for society," DarkSide wrote on its website, which
encrypts victim sites (unless they are Russian-language -
hint?) and then charges ransom money for the password.
The US issued emergency road-transport legislation on Sunday
after Colonial Pipeline was hit by a ransomware cyber-attack.
The pipeline carries 2.5 million barrels a day - 45% of the
East Coast's supply of diesel, petrol and jet fuel. The
operator took itself offline on Friday after the cyber-attack.
Work to restore service is continuing.
[A friend's cynical comment: "These people are offering
"moderation" of their encryption "associates". They don't want
to make trouble - just money. Ransomware is now just another
capitalist business. Will the IPO be on the NYSE or on
Breaks Into DARPA’s Blackjack.
(Breaking Defense, May
The company's software-defined Positioning, Navigation and
Timing (PNT) technology will offer military users an agile new
signal from low Earth orbit (LEO) that is not dependent on
existing satellite navigation systems," said Nicholas
Paraskevopoulos, Northrop Grumman's chief technology officer.
By Theresa Hitchens on May 10, 2021
Read Minds to Understand How the Human Brain Controls Tool
(SciTechDaily, May 10, 2021)
Humans have used tools for millions of years, but this
research is the first to show that actions such as grasping a
knife by its handle for cutting are represented by brain areas
that also represent images of human hands, our primary ‘tool’
for interacting with the world. The research could pave the
way for the development of next-generation neuroprosthetics —
prosthetic limbs that tap into the brain’s control center, and
help rehabilitate people who have lost function in their limbs
due to brain injury.
eating them, hyenas gathered 9 Neanderthal skeletons in one
(Ars Technica, May 10, 2021)
The Neanderthals appear to have met a very bad end. Most of
the newly discovered Neanderthals lived between 50,000 and
68,000 years ago, but at least one dates back to between
90,000 and 100,000 years old. The span of time between the
oldest Neanderthal in Guattari Cave and the youngest is nearly
as much as the one between now and when the last Neanderthals
walked the Earth.
That makes the plan to sequence ancient DNA from the newly
discovered remains especially interesting. Researchers are
starting to piece together the large, complicated story of how
different groups of Neanderthals moved around and interacted
with each other during the 300,000 years or so when they alone
ruled western Eurasia. But so far, we’ve gotten only glimpses.
of Houston tiger arrested after ditching police in
(ABC News, May 10, 2021)
The striped Bengal tiger has yet to be found.
[We have questions: How fast was the tiger going? Was the
owner riding bareback, or saddled?]
sends letter to U.S. bishops: Don’t rush the debate on
Communion, politicians and abortion.
Jesuit Review; May 10, 2021)
The cardinal said, “the formulation of a national policy was
suggested during the ad limina visits only if this would help
the bishops to maintain unity.” He added, “The congregation
notes that such a policy, given its possibly contentious
nature, could have the opposite effect and become a source of
discord rather than unity within the episcopate and the larger
church in the United States.”
Cardinal Ladaria said the C.D.F. had then advised the U.S.
bishops to take certain important steps before drafting any
document, including engaging in “extensive and serene
dialogue” in two stages. It said such dialogue should take
place first among the bishops with the aim of reaching
agreement on the doctrinal issues so as “to maintain unity” in
the conference and in the church in the United States. After
doing that, it said the bishops should conduct a similar
dialogue with the Catholic politicians “within their
jurisdiction who adopt a pro-choice position regarding
abortion legislation, euthanasia, or other moral evils, as a
means of understanding the nature of their positions and their
comprehension of Catholic teaching.”
church won't close after COVID-19 outbreak infected 74
members, pastor says.
(ABC News, May 9, 2021)
74 members, including him and his wife. "The church of Jesus
Christ is the only hope for our community and for our region
and our state," Erickson said. “And so we continue to magnify
Jesus here as a church, and we’re not in defiance. We are here
just to tell people the good news that Jesus loves our city
and he loves the people of Oregon."
Oregon health officials have launched an investigation into
[What's to be investigated? Jesus's stand on 2nd-degree
Arizona, a Troubled Voting Review Plods On as Questions
(New York Times, May 9, 2021)
A makeshift review of the vote in the state’s largest county
has pleased followers of former President Donald J. Trump but
is being widely criticized as a partisan exercise.
There is no evidence that former President Donald J. Trump’s
narrow loss in Arizona’s presidential election in the fall was
fraudulent. Nonetheless, 16 Republicans in the State Senate
voted to subpoena ballots in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix
and two-thirds of the state’s vote in November, for an audit
to show Trump die-hards that their fraud concerns were taken
As recently as a week ago, officials said the review would be
completed by May 14. But with that deadline a week away, only
about 250,000 of the county’s 2.1 million ballots have been
processed in the hand recount that is a central part of the
review, Ken Bennett, a liaison between those conducting the
review and the senators, said on Saturday. At that rate, the
hand recount would not be finished until August.
The delay is but the latest snag in an exercise that many
critics claim is wrecking voters’ confidence in elections, not
restoring it. Since the State Senate first ordered it in
December, the review has been dogged by controversy.
Republicans dominate the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors,
which supervised the election in the county. They said it was
fair and accurate and opposed the review.
After a week marked by mounting accusations of partisan
skulduggery, mismanagement and even potential illegality, at
least one Republican supporter of the new count said it could
not end soon enough. “It makes us look like idiots,” State
Senator Paul Boyer, a Republican from suburban Phoenix who
supported the audit, said on Friday. “Looking back, I didn’t
think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a
state senator at this point.”
Civil-rights advocates say political fallout is the least of
the concerns. They say the Arizona review is emblematic of a
broader effort by pro-Trump Republicans to undermine faith in
American democracy and shift control of elections to partisans
who share their agenda. “This subpoena and this audit is not
dissimilar to what’s happening with a number of bills being
pushed nationally that basically take fair, objective
processes and move them into partisan political bodies,” said
Alex Gulotta, the state’s director of All Voting Is Local, a
national voting-rights advocacy group. “This is not an
aberration. This is a window into the future of where some
people would like our elections to go.”
Musk, Snoop Dogg and Mark Cuban love Dogecoin. Should you?
How to stay safe when investing in cryptocurrency.
Today, May 9, 2021)
The risks are huge. Crypto prices are a roller coaster.
Certainly, people who put money in bitcoin a few years ago
could make a huge return. But there were points in between
where it saw big drops.
Scholl: Student who resisted Hitler and inspires Germany
(BBC, May 9, 2021)
Her name is not widely known outside Germany, but Sophie
Scholl is an iconic figure in her native country and her story
is extraordinary. This weekend many will commemorate the 100th
anniversary of the birth of a young woman who famously stood
up to Adolf Hitler and paid for it with her life.
Nazi Germany Defeated or Liberated? Germans Can’t Decide.
(New York Times, May 8, 2021)
Victory in Europe Day, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s
military capitulation to the Allies on May 8, 1945, is an
occasion of unreserved celebration across much of the
continent, observed with colorful parades and national
holidays. For Germans, it is understandably fraught.
For a long time, the anniversary was largely defined in
Germany by ambivalence. How, after all, could the vanquished
celebrate their surrender? Now Germans are increasingly
grappling with a thornier question: How could they not?
Derivative Makes Transparent Wood 100% Renewable.
(SciTechDaily, May 8, 2021)
Since it was first introduced in 2016, transparent wood has
been developed by researchers at KTH Royal Institute of
Technology as an innovative structural material for building
construction. It lets natural light through and can even store
The key to making wood into a transparent composite material
is to strip out its lignin, the major light-absorbing
component in wood. But the empty pores left behind by the
absence of lignin need to be filled with something that
restores the wood’s strength and allows light to permeate. In
earlier versions of the composite, researchers at KTH’s
Wallenberg Wood Science Centre used fossil-based polymers.
Now, the researchers have successfully tested an eco-friendly
alternative: limonene acrylate, made from renewable citrus
such as recycled orange-peel waste.
"new normal" climate report is anything but normal.
News, May 8, 2021)
Since the 1800s the globe has warmed by around 2 degrees
Fahrenheit. Nine out of 10 of the warmest years on record
worldwide have all occurred in the past decade.
A recent study by NASA proves that all recent warming is
related to humans' burning of fossil fuels and the resultant
amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and aerosols in the
atmosphere. But because of regional variations in geography
like ice cover, water and land type, some regions warm much
more or less rapidly than others. For instance, the Arctic
regions are warming at three times the average global rate due
partly to rapid changes in ice cover and the impact of local
feedback. In the United States, NOAA's new climate normals
reveal that our nation is about on pace with the global
average of warming.
coming home to Roost: Liz Cheney’s Father Pioneered the GOP
Big Lie and Authoritarian Tactics in Iraq War.
Comment, May 7, 2021)
Rep. Liz Cheney has emerged as
a voice for truth-telling
in Trump’s Republican Party,
standing up to the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election
and denouncing her fellow representatives who sought to
prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory and who thus
helped provoke the Capitol Insurgency. Cheney warns that Trump
is taking the GOP in an authoritarian direction. This internal
struggle inside the party over the Big Lie will likely lead to
the demotion of Rep. Cheney from the number three position in
the House Republican leadership.
It is important to reflect on the ways in which Liz Cheney's
father, Dick Cheney, laid the groundwork for the current
Republican infatuation with falsehood and authoritarianism.
George W. Bush made Dick Cheney his vice president, but the
elder Cheney was more than a typical VP. He had his own
foreign policy shop, and the people around him helped spin the
Big Lies of the zeroes. These included Cheney’s Big Lie about
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s alleged “weapons of mass
destruction.” Mother Jones did a timeline of the lies.
brass discussed disclosing 128-million iPhone hack, then
decided not to.
(Ars Technica, May 8, 2021)
In September 2015, Apple managers had a dilemma on their
hands: should, or should they not notify 128 million iPhone
users of what remains the worst mass iOS compromise on record?
Ultimately, all evidence shows, they chose to keep quiet.
The mass hack first came to light when researchers uncovered
40 malicious App Store apps, a number that mushroomed to 4,000
as more researchers poked around. The apps contained code that
made iPhones and iPads part of a botnet that stole potentially
sensitive user information.
Apple has long prioritized the security of the devices it
sells. It has also made privacy a centerpiece of its products.
Directly notifying those affected by this lapse would have
been the right thing to do. We already knew that Google
routinely doesn’t notify users when they download malicious
Android apps or Chrome extensions. Now we know that Apple has
done the same thing.
and Apple Built Vast Wireless Networks Using Your Devices.
Here’s How They Work.
(Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2021)
Apple’s iPhone-powered Find My network and Amazon’s Sidewalk
network—coming soon to all newer Echo devices—are platforms in
their own right, capable of supporting billions of connected
What to do if you’re a globe-spanning tech titan that wants to
connect millions or even billions of devices, but you don’t
want the hassle or cost of dealing with telcos, satellite
operators or cable companies for connectivity? You use the
devices your customers have already purchased—and brought into
homes, businesses and public spaces—to make an end-run around
traditional wireless networks.
Apple and Amazon are transforming the devices we own into the
equivalent of little cell towers or portable Wi-Fi hot spots
that can connect other gadgets and sensors to the internet.
They have already switched on hundreds of millions—with many
more on the way. Instead of serving as wireless hubs solely
for your own smartwatches, lights and sensors, your iPhones
and Echo speakers can help other people’s gadgets stay
connected as well—whether you know it or not.
wants people to use 2FA, so it’s just going to turn it on
(Ars Technica, May 7, 2021)
Yesterday, for "World Password Day," Google announced a very
bold move for account security. "Soon," the company says, it
will start "automatically enrolling" users in 2-Factor
Authentication, provided their accounts are appropriately
Cruise Lines will pull ships out of Florida if required to
take unvaccinated passengers.
(Daily Kos, May 7, 2021)
In April, Republican presidential hopeful and Trump imitator
Ron DeSantis made a dramatic public gesture of issuing an
executive order prohibiting Florida businesses from requiring
the state’s citizens to show proof of vaccination from
COVID-19. In a self-laudatory speech this week, DeSantis
explained that for those Floridians who choose to remain
unvaccinated, “no business or government entity will be able
to deny you services based on your decision.” The intended
effect of this EO was to affirm to DeSantis’ voter base his
commitment to vaccine denialism, a necessary byproduct of the
same “hoax” mentality regarding the COVID-19 virus employed by
Donald Trump in his failed attempt to get reelected.
But the practical ramifications and actual legality of the
order (and of the codifying legislation produced by an equally
Trump-rabid Florida state legislature earlier this week) were
never really explained. What if a business, for example, found
that its bottom line—or worse—its very existence were
threatened by being forced to provide services to unvaccinated
people? Nowhere does this unforeseen collision between an
anti-science ideology and business reality come into focus
quite as sharply as on a cruise ship.
of those America is leaving behind in Afghanistan
Conversation, May 7, 2021)
U.S. troops are already heading home from Afghanistan, ending
a two-decade-long war that saw as many as 100,000 American
troops there. The withdrawal of the remaining few thousand is
slated to be complete by the symbolic date of Sept. 11, 2021.
While on my solo missions for the CIA and U.S. Army beyond the
safety of our base’s walls, in what my team described as the
“red zone,” I also did something that none of my U.S. Army
comrades – who traveled in convoys and were restricted by
formal rules of engagement – could do. I freely photographed
the fascinating Afghan people around me as they went about
their lives in an active war zone.
Lately, I worry about the fate of the people in these photos
and others I have taken. Their world may be destroyed if, or
when, the fast-advancing Taliban reconquer the last remaining
government-controlled zones. These images show glimpses of the
potentially doomed people and ways of life the U.S. is leaving
behind as the troops depart.
(Aeon, May 7, 2021)
Modern mindfulness strips Buddhism of its spiritual core. We
need an ethics of reincarnation for an interconnected world.
attorney general finds over 80% of anti-net neutrality
'public comments' were completely fake.
(Daily Kos, May
Under Trump’s choice for chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, the
Obama era net neutrality protections were done away with. One
of Pai’s first moves as chairman of the FCC was to announce
this rollback and then open up the comment period to the
public. Millions of comments flooded into the system and it
crashed! Pai claimed that this mess was too much to handle and
too hard to figure out and therefore, instead of actually
trying to find out what the American public wanted out of
their government, Pai would roll back net neutrality
protections. It was a naked power grab.
Since that time, a pile of evidence has come out pointing to a
lot of anti-net neutrality fraud being perpetrated in
connection to the “cyber attack” and comment period. On
Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office
released a report of their investigation into the 2017 FCC
comment period debacle. Guess what? The Office of the New York
Attorney General (OAG) found that fake comments accounted for
nearly 18 million of the more than 22 million comments the FCC
received during its 2017 rulemaking. That means that more than
80% of the comments received were fraudulent. And guess what
again? Many of those fake comments came after the country’s
largest broadband companies banded together to fund a campaign
to generate millions of comments for the FCC’s 2017 net
neutrality rulemaking proceeding.
of US users opt out of app tracking in iOS 14.5, analytics
(Ars Technica, May 7, 2021)
Some of the first data on user behavior exceeds advertisers'
companies funded 'fake' net neutrality comments,
(The Hill, May 6, 2021)
American broadband companies funded a campaign that filed
millions of fake comments with the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) over its proposal to repeal net neutrality
regulations, an investigation by New York's attorney general
found. Authorities said the industry poured more than $4.2
million through a nonprofit called Broadband for America into
“lead generation” firms that created comments by using prizes
to trick consumers into giving up personal information. The
three marketing firms used to generate the comments -- Fluent,
Opt-Intelligence, and React2Media -- were required to
implement “comprehensive reforms” and pay $4.4 million in
penalties as a result of the investigation.
Those allegedly fraudulent astroturfing efforts generated 8.5
million comments to the FCC, according to the investigation.
“Americans voices are being drowned out by masses of fake
comments and messages being submitted to the government to
sway decision-making,” New York Attorney General Letitia James
(D) said in a statement. “Instead of actually looking for real
responses from the American people, marketing companies are
luring vulnerable individuals to their websites with freebies,
co-opting their identities, and fabricating responses that
giant corporations are then using to influence the polices and
laws that govern our lives.”
The investigation also uncovered 9.3 million comments
supporting net neutrality rules using fake identities, most of
which were submitted by one college student in California.
“Unlike the broadband industry efforts described above that
used the names and addresses of real people without their
consent, these comments used fabricated names and addresses
generated by software,” the report reads.
Overall, the investigation found that 18 million of the more
than 22 million comments submitted to the FCC during the
rulemaking process in 2017 were fake. About 800,000 of the
nearly 23 million comments were unique, and 99.7 percent of
those were in favor of maintaining net neutrality, according
to subsequent studies of the data
The FCC adopted net neutrality rules in 2015 which barred
service providers from selectively discriminating against
online traffic. The agency rolled back those restrictions on a
3-2 vote in 2017.
Fight for the Future, a digital rights group that collected
examples of fake comments on the net neutrality debate, is
calling the FCC to immediately restore the Obama-era rules in
the wake of Thursday’s report. “The first thing that should
happen is for the FCC to immediately reverse the fraudulent
and unpopular repeal of net neutrality, given that we now know
the process was irrefutably tainted by a corporate funded
fraud campaign,” Evan Greer, the group’s director, said in a
statement that also calls for a full investigation into the
funding behind the fake comments.
Self-Defense Playlist: Getting to Know Your Phone
(Electronic Frontier Foundation, May 6, 2021)
We are launching a new Privacy
Breakdown of Mobile Phones "playlist" on Surveillance
, EFF's online guide to defending yourself
and your friends from surveillance by using secure technology
and developing careful practices. This guided tour walks
through the ways your phone communicates with the world, how
your phone is tra cked, and how that
tracking data can be analyzed. We hope to reach everyone from
those who may have a smartphone for the first time, to those
who have had one for years and want to know more, to savvy
users who are ready to level up.
consumes a lot of energy. Hackers could make it consume
(MIT Technology Review, May 6, 2021)
The latest generation of neural networks are vulnerable to a
new kind of attack that makes them use too much energy.
With this kind of neural network, if you change the input,
such as the image it’s fed, you can change how much
computation it needs to solve it. This opens up a
vulnerability that hackers could exploit, as the researchers
from the Maryland Cybersecurity Center outlined in a new paper
being presented at the International Conference on Learning
Representations this week. By adding small amounts of noise to
a network’s inputs, they made it perceive the inputs as more
difficult and jack up its computation.
When they assumed the attacker had full information about the
neural network, they were able to max out its energy draw.
When they assumed the attacker had limited to no information,
they were still able to slow down the network’s processing and
increase energy usage by 20% to 80%. The reason, as the
researchers found, is that the attacks transfer well across
different types of neural networks. Designing an attack for
one image classification system is enough to disrupt many.
Hacked into Parked Teslas Remotely with a Drone.
(Interesting Engineering, May 6, 2021)
The team explained how they accessed Teslas' infotainment
systems and opened the EVs' doors and trunk.
cats’ love of boxes and squares can tell us about their
(Ars Technica, May 6, 2021)
Vision has evolved to answer questions having to do with
boundaries and contours.
Pond Is Full of Jellyfish, But Don’t Panic.
Obscura, May 5, 2021)
Meet the generally harmless translucent residents of Thoreau’s
favorite giant puddle.
Department seizes fake COVID-19 vaccine website stealing
info from visitors.
(ZDNet, May 5, 2021)
“Freevaccinecovax.org” was being used for fraud, phishing
attacks, and/or deployment of malware, according to The U.S.
Trump Still Has Millions of Americans in His Grip.
York Times, May 5, 2021)
Beginning in the mid-1960s, the priorities of the Democratic
Party began to shift away from white working- and middle-class
voters — many of them socially conservative, Christian and
religiously observant — to a set of emerging constituencies
seeking rights and privileges previously reserved for white
men: African-Americans; women’s rights activists; proponents
of ethnic diversity, sexual freedom and self-expressive
By the 1970s, many white Americans — who had taken their own
centrality for granted — felt that they were being shouldered
aside, left to face alone the brunt of the long process of
deindustrialization: a cluster of adverse economic trends
including the decline in manufacturing employment, the erosion
of wages by foreign competition and the implosion of trade
unionism. These voters became the shock troops of the Reagan
Revolution; they now dominate Trump’s Republican Party.
rocket debris is expected to crash into Earth soon. It's not
the first time.
(2-min. video; CNN, May 5, 2021)
The large Chinese rocket that is out of control and set to
reenter Earth's atmosphere this weekend has brought about an
alarming but not unprecedented situation. Space debris has
crashed into Earth on a number of occasions, including last
The good news is that debris plunging toward Earth -- while
unnerving -- generally poses very little threat to personal
safety. Still, the episode has fueled fresh questions about
space debris, uncontrolled reentry and what precautions might
need to be taken, if any.
on Mars Full of Surprises. More Than 500 Marsquakes Detected
by InSight Lander in First Year.
(SciTechDaily, May 4,
The vast majority of the events are high-frequency and occur
at hundreds of kilometers of distance from the lander. It is
not quite clear to us how these events could be confined to
only high frequency energy while they occur at such large
distances. On top of that, the frequency of those events seems
to vary over the Martian year, which is a pattern that we do
not know at all from Earth.
Only a handful of marsquakes have clear seismic phase
arrivals–the order in which the different types of seismic
waves arrive at a location–which allows researchers to
calculate the direction and distance the waves come from. All
these marsquakes originate from a sunken area of the surface
called Cerberus Fossae, about 1800 kilometers away from the
InSight Lander. Cerberus Fossae is one of the youngest
geological structures on Mars, and may have formed from
extensional faulting or subsidence due to dike emplacement.
Recent studies suggest extension mechanism may be the source
of the Cerberus Fossae quakes, Ceylan noted, “however, we have
a long way in front of us to be able to explain the main
tectonic mechanisms behind these quakes.”
NEW: The Day Alan Shepard
Made American History
(NASA, May 5, 2021)
In the annals of American spaceflight history, day one was 60
years ago today. On May 5, 1961, U.S. Navy commander Alan
Shepard was the first American ever to fly in space, piloting
the Mercury capsule Freedom 7 into the pages of history.
Krugman: The Return of "Family Values"
(New York Times,
May 4, 2021)
Republicans now are attempting to reframe economic policy
debates as battles in a culture war, with Democrats pursuing
lefty social engineering while the G.O.P. stands up as the
defender of traditional values. Republicans clearly want to
revisit the early 1990s, when conservative intellectuals like
Gertrude Himmelfarb were insisting that our social ills could
be attributed to the decline of family life, not economic
forces — and politicians like Dan Quayle were campaigning not
against progressive economics but against TV shows that
normalized single motherhood.
But 2021 isn’t 1992. A lot has happened to our society over
the past generation, some of it bad, some of it good, and all
of it undermining the once dominant narrative about “family
values.” Take one indicator of family decline, births out of
wedlock. (Whether such births are necessarily an indicator of
trouble is a question I’ll come back to.) There has been a
huge rise in such births, especially among less educated white
Americans. The geography of family decline is particularly
interesting. While out-of-wedlock births have been rising
everywhere, their surge has been especially intense in the
South and the eastern heartland. And yes, there’s a strong
correlation between family decline and a state’s politics,
with Trump-voting states having higher rates of unmarried
motherhood. “Only” 32 percent of babies are born to unmarried
mothers in liberal Massachusetts; in deep red Kentucky the
number is 42 percent. What’s actually happening in
family-decline regions of America is clearly economic
distress: these are the parts of the nation that have been
left behind as prosperity increasingly concentrates in big
metropolitan areas with highly educated work forces.
All of this amounts to a confirmation of the famous thesis of
the sociologist William Julius Wilson, who was in effect the
anti-Himmelfarb, and who argued that social decay in inner
cities was the result, not of culture, but of declining
economic opportunity. Imagine that you were an evil social
scientist who wanted to test Wilson’s thesis. What would you
do? You would destroy economic opportunities for a large
number of rural white people, and see what happened to their
families. Well, that’s more or less what transpired — and lack
of opportunity turns out to be just as socially disruptive for
rural white Americans as it was for Black Americans in urban
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about modern U.S. politics
it is that conservatives won’t stop trying to wage culture war
because of facts that don’t fit their narrative. But I do
wonder whether the disconnect between their vision and the
realities of American life, both good and bad, will limit the
culture war’s effectiveness. Who, besides people already
deeply committed to a Trumpist view of the world, will be
convinced that Joe Biden is waging war on families?
think tank Heritage Foundation stops taking Big Tech
(New York Post, May 4, 2021)
The Heritage Foundation has stopped accepting donations from
tech giants amid an escalating battle with Silicon Valley over
censorship. The influential conservative think tank — which
famously turned pro-Trump after initial skepticism of his
presidential candidacy, brokering appointments of cabinet
members including Mick Mulvaney, Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos
— said it will join a group of more than 40 right-leaning
research outfits refusing to accept money from Big Tech firms
including Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon.
A Heritage spokesman said the group — which gets most of its
donations from smaller donors despite big-name trustees that
include Rebekah Mercer — has felt escalating bias from Big
Tech during the past two years. In early 2019, Google
dissolved an advisory board on artificial intelligence that
Heritage’s James had served on after it received a petition
signed by 2,500 employees demanding that she be removed,
calling her “vocally anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, and
anti-immigrant.” Google’s YouTube removed a video posted by
Heritage, saying comments made about transgender issues were
“hate speech.” In it, Dr. Michelle Cretella says, “See, if you
want to cut off a leg or an arm you’re mentally ill, but if
you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re
Told Their Therapists Everything. Hackers Leaked It All.
(Wired, May 4, 2021)
A mental health startup built its business on easy-to-use
technology. Patients joined in droves. Then came a
catastrophic data breach.
Strikes Back: New Hacking Vulnerability Affecting Billions
of Computers Worldwide.
(SciTechDaily, May 4, 2021)
Computing experts thought they had developed adequate security
patches after the major worldwide Spectre flaw of 2018, but
UVA’s discovery shows processors are open to hackers again.
ways governments disrupt internet access.
World, May 3, 2021)
Shutdowns are common, expensive, and take many forms.
‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now
(New York Times, May 3, 2021)
Widely circulating coronavirus variants and persistent
hesitancy about vaccines will keep the goal out of reach. The
virus is here to stay, but vaccinating the most vulnerable may
be enough to restore normalcy.
Intelligence Helps Crack the Code of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
(SciTechDaily, May 3, 2021)
The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered some seventy years ago, are
famous for containing the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew
Bible (Old Testament) and many hitherto unknown ancient Jewish
texts. But the individual people behind the scrolls have
eluded scientists, because the scribes are anonymous. Now, by
combining the sciences and the humanities, University of
Groningen researchers have cracked the code, which enables
them to discover the scribes behind the scrolls.
we remember more by reading – especially print – than from
audio or video.
(The Conversation, May 3, 2021)
As a professor of linguistics, I have been studying how
electronic communication compares to traditional print when it
comes to learning. Is comprehension the same whether a person
reads a text onscreen or on paper? And are listening and
viewing content as effective as reading the written word when
covering the same material?
The answers to both questions are often “no”. The reasons
relate to a variety of factors, including diminished
concentration, an entertainment mindset and a tendency to
multitask while consuming digital content.
on Live Human Brain Tissue Yield Unexpected Findings.
(SciTechDaily, May 3, 2021)
In total, the team was able to characterize over 200 neurons
from 61 patients, reflecting the largest dataset of its kind
to-date and encapsulating almost a decade’s worth of
painstaking work at UHN and the Krembil Brain Institute.
“This unique data set will allow us to build computational
models of the distinctly human brain, which will be invaluable
for the study of distinctly human neuropathologies. For
instance, the cellular properties driving many of the unique
features identified in these neurons are known to be altered
in certain types of epilepsy. By implementing these features
in computational models, we can study how these alterations
affect dynamics at the various spatial scales of the human
brain related to epilepsy, and facilitate the translation of
these ‘basic science’ findings back to the clinic and
potentially into motivations for new avenues in epilepsy
Black man enslaved by his white boss for 5 years should be
given $546,000 in compensation, a court ruled.
May 3, 2021)
In 2019, Bobby Paul Edwards, who owned the
J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina
guilty to one count of forced labor for "coercing an
African-American man with an intellectual disability to work
extensive hours at a restaurant for no pay," and was sentenced
to 10 years in prison, the Justice Department said in a press
release at the time. Edwards forced Smith to work over 100
hours a week without pay. He would also beat him with a belt,
fists, and pots and pans, the press release said.
As part of the settlement, Edwards was also ordered to pay
John Christopher Smith $273,000 in unpaid wages and overtime
compensation. On April 21, the Court of Appeals for the 4th
Circuit ruled that Smith was entitled to double that amount,
which would be $546,000.
["Guests of J&J Cafeteria say that they found prices low."
- like the overhead.
"As a number of reviewers state, the atmosphere is
lovely." - out front.]
The Numbers Behind Mitch McConnell’s Re-Election Don’t Add
(DC Report, May 3, 2021)
Turning an 18% approval into a 58% win may seem like a
“turning water into wine”-style miracle, but a “smoke &
mirrors” parlor trick seems more likely.
Even as Republicans across the country still insist that the
election was rife with fraudulent Democratic votes, no one’s
asking how McConnell managed one of the most lopsided
landslides of the Nov. 3 election. They should. An
investigation of Kentucky voting results by DCReport raises
significant questions about the vote tallies in McConnell’s
- McConnell racked up huge vote leads in traditionally
Democratic strongholds, including counties that he had never
- There were wide, unexplained discrepancies between the vote
counts for presidential candidates and down-ballot
- Significant anomalies exist in the state’s voter records.
Forty percent of the state’s counties carry more voters on
their rolls than voting-age citizens.
- Kentucky and many other states using vote tabulation
machines made by Election Systems & Software all reported
down-ballot race results at significant odds with pre-election
[This article deserves a thorough read. This obstructionist
deserves a lot more.]
Republicans rushed to curb mail voting after Trump’s attacks
on the practice. Now some fear it could lower GOP turnout.
(Washington Post, May 3, 2021)
Virtually every narrow Republican victor of the past
generation — and there have been many, including two of the
state’s current top officeholders, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen.
Rick Scott — owes their victory, at least in part, to mail
voting. Now, some Florida Republicans are reacting with alarm
after the GOP-dominated state legislature, with DeSantis’s
support, passed a far-reaching bill Thursday night that puts
new restrictions on the use of mail ballots.
Rubio ramp up criticisms of big business.
(The Hill, May
It’s a strange time for the relationship between Republicans
and big business. Important figures in a party that usually
toes the pro-business line are instead throwing jabs at the
corporate world. The critics include several potential 2024
Their barbs will not be well-received in boardrooms or the
Chamber of Commerce. Democrats will roll their eyes and allege
opportunism. But an anti-elite GOP base that grew even more
populist during former President Trump’s time in the White
House could reward the pugnacious tone.
Buy Into Facebook’s Ad-Tracking Pressure on iOS 14.5.
(Wired, May 3, 2021)
The company tells Apple users that tracking helps keep those
platforms “free of charge,” but opting out now doesn't mean
paying up later.
and Epic Head to Court Over Apple's 30% Slice of the App
(New York Times, May 2, 2021)
Apple and Epic Games, maker of the wildly popular game
Fortnite, square off on Monday in a trial that could decide
how much control Apple can exert over the app economy. Epic
Games has defied the App Store Monopoly (by sharing its
savings when buyers use other venues). In retaliation, Apple
is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices.
Scientists Want to Extract Carbon-Neutral “Biofuel” From
(SciTechDaily, May 2, 2021)
Lakes store huge amounts of methane. In a new study,
environmental scientists at the University of Basel offer
suggestions for how it can be extracted and used as an energy
source in the form of methanol.
Discussion about the current climate crisis usually focuses on
carbon dioxide (CO2). The greenhouse gas methane is less well
known, but although it is much rarer in the atmosphere, its
global warming potential is 80 to 100 times greater per unit.
More than half the methane caused by human activities comes
from oil production and agricultural fertilizers. But the gas
is also created by the natural decomposition of biomass by
microbes, for example in lakes.
Methane from lakes and water reservoirs makes up about 20% of
global natural methane emissions. That would theoretically be
enough to meet the world’s energy needs. Fossil fuels could be
partially replaced by “natural” renewable methane. Methane gas
is already burned in gas-fired power plants for electricity
production and used as a fuel in the form of liquid methanol.
The idea described in the article isn’t completely new: since
2016, methane in Lake Kivu between Rwanda and the Democratic
Republic of Congo has been extracted from a depth of 260
meters, cleaned, and used for energy supply directly via
generators. That methane concentration is about 100 times
higher than in ordinary lakes. Low concentrations made
extracting methane from conventional lakes seem too
technically difficult until a few years ago. But new
microporous membranes made of polymeric materials now allow
the gas to be separated from the water much more efficiently.
returns 4 astronauts to Earth; rare night splashdown.
(1-min. video; ABC 7 News, May 2, 202)
SpaceX safely returned four astronauts from the International
Space Station on Sunday, making the first U.S. crew splashdown
in darkness since the Apollo 8 moonshot. The Dragon capsule
parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama
City, Florida, just before 3 a.m., ending the second astronaut
flight for Elon Musk's company.
Hopkins and Glover - along with NASA's Shannon Walker and
Japan's Soichi Noguchi - should have returned to Earth last
Wednesday, but high offshore winds forced SpaceX to pass up a
pair of daytime landing attempts. Managers switched to a rare
splashdown in darkness, to take advantage of calm weather.
SpaceX had practiced for a nighttime return, just in case, and
even recovered its most recent station cargo capsule from the
Gulf of Mexico in darkness. Infrared cameras tracked the
astronauts' capsule as it re-entered the atmosphere; it
resembled a bright star streaking through the night sky.
It was an express trip home, lasting just 6 1/2 hours. Once
finished with their medical checks on the ship, the astronauts
planned to hop on a helicopter for the short flight to shore,
then catch a plane straight to Houston for a reunion with
their families. "It's not very often you get to wake up on the
space station and go to sleep in Houston," chief flight
director Holly Ridings told reporters.
Sanders Holds Rally For Kentucky's Working Class In
(YouTube, May 2, 2021)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Former Democratic Member of the
Kentucky House of Representatives Charles Booker hold a rally
for "Kentucky's Working Class" in Louisville, KY.
Romney booed and called "traitor" at Utah Republican
(The Guardian, May 2, 2021)
Only Republican to twice vote to impeach Trump gets hostile
reception as motion to censure him narrowly fails. Republicans
are making clear that standing for democracy and justice will
not be tolerated in their ranks. Mitt Romney was loudly booed
at the Utah Republican party convention on Saturday – and
called a “traitor” and a “communist” as he tried to speak.
Romney was the sole Republican to vote to impeach Donald Trump
twice – for seeking political dirt on opponents from Ukraine
and for inciting the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on 6
January, before which he told supporters to “fight like hell”
in support of his lie that the presidential election was
stolen by Joe Biden. Six other Republican senators also voted
to convict Trump in his second impeachment.
Aren’t you embarrassed?” the Salt Lake City Tribune reported
the Utah senator asking the crowd of 2,100 delegates at the
Maverik Center in West Valley City. “I’m a man who says what
he means, and you know I was not a fan of our last president’s
“You can boo all you like,” Romney told a crowd the Tribune
said spat insults “like so many poison darts”. “I’ve been a
Republican all my life. My dad was the governor of Michigan
and I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012.”
Romney, who will not face re-election in 2022, was also a
governor of Massachusetts and would ordinarily be a member of
the GOP establishment. But the party is firmly in the grip of
Trump and his supporters – according to a CNN poll this week,
70% of Republicans believe the lie that Biden did not win
enough legitimate votes to be president.
Ethics Chief Slams Cruz’s Warning To ‘Woke’ CEOs As ‘Most
Openly Corrupt’ Ever.
(Huffington Post, May 2, 2021)
Walter Shaub’s castigation came after the Republican said his
party will no longer give special treatment to deep-pocket
corporate donors if they get too “woke.”
Lawmaker Who Opened State Capitol To Far-Right Protesters
(NPR, May 1, 2021)
Oregon state Rep. Mike Nearman, the Polk County Republican who
allowed far-right demonstrators to breach the state Capitol in
December, now faces criminal charges. According to court
records, Nearman has been charged with first-degree official
misconduct, a class A misdemeanor, and second degree criminal
trespass, a class C misdemeanor.
Discovered Immune Cell Function Vital to Healing May Lead to
Treatments for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases.
(SciTechDaily, May 1, 2021)
Cardiovascular disease, the most common cause of death, is the
result of oxygen deprivation as blood perfusion to affected
tissue is prevented. To halt the development of the disease
and to promote healing, re-establishment of blood flow is
crucial. Researchers at Uppsala University have now discovered
that one of the most common immune cells in the human body,
macrophages, play an important role in re-establishing and
controlling blood flow, something that can be used to develop
the pandemic make us nicer people? Probably not. But it
might change us in other ways.
(Washington Post, May 1,
If past is prologue, the deadly flu epidemic of 1918 and 1919
should help us understand how we will navigate the post-covid
years. “I think it’s fair to say that people want to forget as
soon as possible,” said Laura Spinney, author of “Pale Rider:
The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World.” “That
is pretty much the pattern for pandemics throughout history.
If you talk to public health experts, they talk about us going
through this cycle of panic and complacency: We panic when a
pandemic declares itself, and then we forget about it as soon
as it’s gone.”
[An excellent look at how pandemics can change personalities.]
Cox Richardson: Ten Famous American Horses
An American, May 1, 2021)
[And now, for something entirely different...]
Ingenuity Helicopter Completes Spectacular Fourth Flight,
Setting New Records.
; NASA, April 30, 2021)
We also managed to capture lots of images during the flight
with the color camera and with Ingenuity’s black-and-white
navigation camera, which tracks surface features as it flies.
Capturing images like that provides a technical challenge –
another way to test Ingenuity – and provides an aerial
perspective of Mars that humanity has never seen before. We’ll
use these images to study the surface features of the terrain.
NEW: 'It's your
device; you should be able to repair it.'
April 30, 2021)
Repairers are trying to help reduce the vast amount of
electronic goods discarded every year. A record 53.6 million
tonnes of electronic waste was generated worldwide in 2019,
with less than a fifth of it being recycled, according to the
UN's Global E-waste Monitor 2020. By 2030, the report predicts
global e-waste will reach 74 million tonnes. "E-waste is the
world's fastest growing waste stream," says Rolf Skar, special
projects manager at Greenpeace USA. "By not recycling the
precious metals we've already mined, companies now need to
rely on destructive mining practices that scar the Earth
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) says extending the
life of smartphones and other electronics by just one year
would be the equivalent of taking two million cars off the
road, in terms of CO2 emissions.
Fridges, washing machines and TVs should last longer and be
cheaper to run under first EU rules that will be introduced in
the summer. "The goal is to ensure that sustainable products
become the norm," EU Environment Commissioner, Virginijus
Sinkevičius, told BBC News. "Reparability is a key element of
striving for high-quality products that last."
In the meantime, hundreds of repair cafés are doing the best
they can, around the globe. The UK's Marlow Repair Café "was
born out of the frustration of having something that breaks
and finding out you actually don't have the right tools, spare
parts or manual." It brings together volunteers "who still
know how to repair things with people who have things that are
broken and don't know how to repair them". The café now runs
events in church halls and libraries, and repairs are free.
App Store Draws E.U. Antitrust Charge.
(New York Times,
April 30, 2021)
By forcing app developers to use its payment system and comply
with other rules, regulators said, Apple broke European Union
[Laws the USA would do well to adopt.]
tulips and scrips to bitcoin and meme stocks – how the act
of speculating became a financial mania
Conversation, April 30, 2021)
To speculate, at its core, is to make a bet about the future
based on individual calculations of the risks of tomorrow.
There’s nothing inherently contagious or mad about it. In
fact, computers are often speculating now in place of human
What we call a “mania” is just shorthand for saying that a lot
of people – and machines – made the same bet, as happened in
January when day traders – many of them inexperienced – drove
up the price of GameStop. Maybe they were all acting
rationally and in concert. Maybe they were duped by insiders
or weren’t fully calculating those risks.
McConnell Goes Cancel Culture On Slavery History In Fiery
Letter To Education Secretary.
(Huffington Post, April
Calling it “divisive, radical propaganda,” McConnell slammed
the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project on slavery’s
critical role in American history.
takes on the 1619 Project.
(Politico, April 30, 2021)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 37 GOP senators
will call on the Education Department today to stop a proposed
rule that invokes the 1619 Project.
It's not just conservatives: The proposed rule has also
triggered a more muted debate on the left. While it has
largely skirted the attention of the mainstream media
(National Review and the New York Post have pounced on it),
several sources told us about conversations among a group of
prominent liberal political strategists, academics and authors
about whether to go public with their own criticisms. One of
them already has: Damon Linker, a centrist columnist at
TheWeek.com, posted a public comment in the Federal Register,
calling the 1619 Project a “one-sided and dogmatic style of
history” that “can be part of a curriculum, but NOT its core.
Please, don’t do this. We will all regret it.”
Final thought: The anti-1619 sentiment is uniting one of the
oddest coalitions in politics: McConnell conservatives,
Linker-style centrists and anti-woke socialists.
claims about Hunter Biden and the FBI get more confusing.
(Washington Post, April 30, 2021)
An opinion: "I think he was trying to invalidate the search
warrant. If they had taken the hard drives, he would say
sheer recklessness of Giuliani’s effort to damage Biden
comes into focus.
(Washington Post, April 30, 2021)
“Rudy Giuliani is a great patriot,” Trump said to Fox Business
host Maria Bartiromo the day after Giuliani’s home and office
were searched. “He does these things — he just loves this
country, and they raid his apartment. It’s, like, so unfair
and such a double — it’s like a double standard like I don’t
think anybody’s ever seen before.”
All Giuliani was trying to do was help Trump win the election,
after all. That he got dubiously sourced information on
multiple occasions? Well, there’s nothing wrong with
issues retraction and apology to Dominion Voting employee
over election stories.
(NPR, April 30, 2021)
The far-right media outlet Newsmax, which amplified former
President Donald Trump's false allegations of election rigging
and widespread voter fraud, said on Friday there is no
evidence that Dominion Voting Systems and one of its top
employees, Eric Coomer, manipulated election results in 2020.
"Newsmax subsequently found no evidence that such allegations
were true. Many of the states whose results were contested by
the Trump campaign after the November 2020 election have
conducted extensive recounts and audits, and each of these
states certified the results as legal and final," the company
said in a
statement published online that will also be broadcast.
[Unsurprisingly, the Newsmax statement's Subject line features
the employee being innocent, not Newsmax spreading lies.]
memes to race war: How extremists use popular culture to
(Washington Post, April 30, 2021)
The far-right groups that blossomed during Donald Trump’s
presidency — including white supremacists, self-styled
militias and purveyors of anti-government conspiracy theories
— have created enduring communities by soft-pedaling their
political goals and focusing on entertaining potential
recruits with the tools of pop culture, according to current
and former members of the groups and those who study the new
They approach young people on gaming platforms, luring them
into private rooms with memes that start out as edgy humor and
gradually grow overtly racist. They literally sell their
ideas, commodifying their slogans and actions as live streams,
T-shirts and coffee mugs. They insinuate themselves into
chats, offering open ears and warm friendship to people who
are talking online about being lonely, depressed or
The pathways into the kind of extremism that led to the Jan. 6
assault on the Capitol, threats against lawmakers and last
year’s armed confrontations at state capitals nationwide are
often initially anything but ideological.
US agencies potentially hacked, this time with Pulse Secure
(Ars Technica, April 30, 2021)
Zeroday vulnerability under attack has a severity rating of 10
out of 10.
CISA said it’s aware of compromises of federal agencies,
critical infrastructure entities, and private sector
organizations dating back to June 2020.
The targeting of the five agencies is the latest in a string
of large-scale cyberattacks to hit sensitive government and
business organizations in recent months. In December,
researchers uncovered an operation that infected the software
build and distribution system of network management tools
maker SolarWinds. The hackers used their control to push
backdoored updates to about 18,000 customers. Nine government
agencies and fewer than 100 private organizations—including
Microsoft, antivirus maker Malwarebytes, and Mimecast—received
In March, hackers exploiting newly discovered vulnerability in
Microsoft Exchange compromised an estimated 30,000 Exchange
servers in the US and as many as 100,000 worldwide. Microsoft
said that Hafnium, its name for a group operating in China,
was behind the attacks. In the days that followed, hackers not
affiliated by Hafnium began infecting the already-compromised
servers to install a new strain of ransomware.
Two other serious breaches have also occurred, one against the
maker of the Codecov software developer tool and the other
against the seller of Passwordstate, a password manager used
by large organizations to store credentials for firewalls,
VPNs, and other network-connected devices. Both breaches are
serious, because the hackers can use them to compromise the
large number of customers of the companies' products.
luck would have it; Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their first
. (Times Literary Supplement/UK, April 30, 2021)
The polls show that Biden is off to a good start as president,
with a survey by the Pew Research Center giving him an
approval rating of 59 per cent – up since the 2020 election
and a higher figure than Donald Trump ever managed. It helps
that the Covid vaccination programme is advancing rapidly and
that Biden has been doling out “free” money in the form of
personal cheques for $1,400 against the backdrop of a $1.9
trillion stimulus package. Meanwhile, his former (and perhaps
future) opponent sulks in exile at Mar-a-Lago, playing the
role of Republican Party godfather but with his reputation
scarred by the storming of the Capitol. Biden may appear frail
and waxy behind his Covid-19 mask, but he is one of the few
presidents to court comparisons to Franklin. D Roosevelt,
whose portrait now hangs in the Oval Office. If he had FDR’s
substantial majority in Congress, his confidence might be
Biden delivers address before the joint session of Congress.
(71-min. video; CBS News, April 29, 2021)
Jobs. Infrastructure. Police reform. Gun control. Ending
cancer. President Joe Biden delivered a hopeful message to
America in his first address before a joint session of
Congress as he touted his recovery plans and even more
Economy Is (Almost) Back. It Is Looking Different Than It
(New York Times, April 29, 2021)
One particular line of the first-quarter G.D.P. numbers
released Thursday stands out: Americans’ spending on durable
goods — cars and furniture and other goods meant to last a
long time — rose at a stunning 41.4 percent annual rate in the
first three months of the year.
The central reality of the economy in 2021 is that it’s
profoundly unequal across sectors, unbalanced in ways that
have enormous long-term implications for businesses and
Climate Solution Actually Adding Millions of Tons of C02
Into the Atmosphere.
(ProPublica/MIT Technology Review,
April 29, 2021)
New research shows that California’s climate policy created up
to 39 million carbon credits that aren’t achieving real carbon
savings. But companies can buy these forest offsets to justify
polluting more anyway.
issues remedy for Bolt recall over battery fires.
(Detroit News, April 29, 2021)
Last November, GM voluntarily recalled 68,667 Chevrolet Bolt
EVs manufactured between 2017-2019 and worked with the
National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration to pinpoint
what caused multiple battery fires. The automaker at that time
had found five confirmed incidents of battery fires on the
Bolt when the batteries were either at full-charge or almost
fully charged. GM told customers then to keep their Bolt
batteries at a max of 90% charged.
GM's experts concluded a "rare manufacturing defect in certain
battery modules in vehicles from these production years" led
to the fires, GM spokesman Dan Flores said in a statement to
The Detroit News. That defect could cause "a heat source or a
short in a cell, which could propagate into a fire."
To fix the issue, the automaker created tools for "dealers to
diagnose battery issues as well as advanced onboard diagnostic
software that, among other things, has the ability to detect
potential issues related to changes in battery module
performance before they become potential problems during
vehicle operation and charging," Flores said.
GM also plans to make advanced diagnostic software available
to all other Bolt EV owners in the coming months and the
diagnostic software will come standard in the 2022 Bolt EV and
EUV and other future GM electric vehicles.
is entering a hydrogen-powered Corolla in a 24-hour race.
(Ars Technica, April 28, 2021)
It's still internal combustion, not a fuel cell.
Dozen: The Sequel
(full report; Center for Countering
Digital Hate, April 28, 2021)
How Big Tech is failing to act on leading anti-vaxxers despite
bipartisan calls from Congress.
[See original at March 24, 2021.]
to Facebook grew by 36% in Q1 2021.
(Reclaim The Net,
April 28, 2021)
Alternative platforms such as MeWe
are now gaining
steady prominence. People are increasingly turning away from
ad-riddled, privacy-invasive Big Tech platforms like Facebook,
and adapting to newer social media platforms that do away with
third-party ads and content while providing better social
wireless BCI demonstrated in humans for first time.
Technica, April 28, 2021)
BrainGate device complements Neuralink's successful test of
wireless Brain-Computer Interface in a monkey.
tech devices want to read your brain. What could go wrong?
(Washington Post, April 27, 2021)
Neurotech is a catchall term broadly encompassing an industry
set on connecting human brains to computers. Some applications
require surgery; others don’t. It’s a compelling biotech field
that’s rapidly evolving, enabling machines to interpret or
alter your consciousness. Neurable, NextMind, Facebook and
other tech firms are championing brain-controlled gadgets as
the next big thing.
NEW: How Humanity Gave Itself an
(New York Times Magazine, April 27, 2021)
Between 1920 and 2020, the average human life span doubled.
How did we do it? Science mattered—but so did activism.
Arrest an Alleged $336M Bitcoin-Laundering Kingpin.
(Wired, April 27, 2021)
The alleged administrator of Bitcoin Fog kept the dark web
service running for 10 years before the IRS caught up with
reaches out to Hasidic Jews to fight antisemitism – but
bureau has fraught history with Judaism.
Conversation, April 27, 2021)
The campaign follows highly visible antisemitic incidents in
the U.S. in recent years, including the 2018 shooting at the
Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which left 11 people
dead. But the FBI has a complicated history with Jews. It is a
past that suggests the FBI has loved the idea of Judaism as a
religion, but not necessarily American Jews themselves.
Slaps Down Election Recount Firm Hired By Arizona GOP
(Huffington Post, April 27, 2021)
Cyber Ninjas was ordered to cough up its playbook for a 2020
election recount headed by a disciple of Donald Trump’s “Stop
The Steal” lie.
Cox Richardson: Trump loyalists are trying to take over the
in its entirety.
(Letters From An American, April 27,
Trump and his supporters have continued to feed the idea that
Biden cheated Trump out of his election win until now more
than two thirds of Republicans say they believe Biden did not
win the election. (He did. This is well established.)
To continue to feed this Big Lie, Republicans in the Arizona
state senate have turned to a private company for a vote audit
in Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa. The vote has already
been audited at least twice, under formal rules, and both
audits turned up no fraud. Maricopa County Recorder Helen
Purcell, a Republican, said there was no need to review the
ballots again. In contrast to the trained election officials,
the company the Republicans tapped is run by a conspiracy
theorist who supports the idea that voter fraud stole the
election from Trump; he claims Trump actually won by 200,000
votes. When a judge ordered the company, Cyber Ninjas, to
explain publicly how it was conducting the audit, company
Trump’s botched census citizenship push cost red states?
(Washington Post, April 27, 2021)
On Monday, we learned which states will gain and lose seats
thanks to the new census population numbers. Perhaps the three
biggest surprises to come from the reapportionment
announcement were in Arizona, Florida and Texas — all of which
failed to gain an extra seat despite projections that they
would. What else do those states have in common? They all have
among the highest Hispanic populations in the country, each
ranking in the top six nationwide, at around one-quarter
Hispanic or more.
A report from redistricting expert Kimball Brace’s Election
Data Services spotlighted those three states, noting the
disconnect with 2019 population estimates from the Census
Bureau late last year. In it, Brace “speculated that it’s
possible the southern state changes, with their large Hispanic
populations, have been caused by the Trump administration’s
efforts to keep noncitizens from being counted in the census.”
From The Emotet Malware is Now Searchable in Have I Been
Pwned, Courtesy of the FBI and NHTCU.
April 27, 2021)
In all, 4,324,770 email addresses were provided which span a
wide range of countries and domains. The addresses are
actually sourced from 2 separate corpuses of data obtained by
the agencies during the takedown: (a) Email credentials stored
by Emotet for sending spam via victims' mail providers, and
(b) Web credentials harvested from browsers that stored them
to expedite subsequent logins.
[You can learn how much of your data has been compromised at Have
I Been Pwned
AppTrackingTransparency is Upending Mobile Phone
(Electronic Frontier Foundation, April 27,
Apple’s long-awaited privacy update for iOS is out, and it’s a
solid step in the right direction. With the launch of iOS
14.5, hundreds of millions of iPhone users will now interact
with Apple’s new AppTrackingTransparency
Allowing users to choose what third-party tracking they will
or will not tolerate, and forcing apps to request those
permissions, gives users more knowledge of what apps are
doing, helps protect users from abuse, and allows them to make
the best decisions for themselves.
Looking ahead, the mobile operating system market is
essentially a duopoly, and Google controls the larger part of
the -opoly. While Apple pushes through new privacy measures
, Google has left its own Ad ID alone. Of the
two, Apple is undoubtedly doing more to rein in the privacy
abuses of advertising technology. Nearly every criticism that
can be made about the state of privacy on iOS goes double for
Android. Your move, Google.
“private” coronavirus tracking app wasn’t so private after
(Reclaim The Net, April 27, 2021)
Based on what the researchers at AppCensus, a privacy analysis
firm, state, there was a privacy flaw in the Android version
of contact tracing tools. What’s more, the researchers at
AppCensus even ended up informing Google about it, but to no
avail. The primary issue was with the fact that pre-installed
system apps such as Samsung Browser on Samsung’s Android
devices or MotoCare on Motorola’s Android devices can access
sensitive, private information stored in system logs by
contact tracing apps.
Vaccinated Americans can go maskless outdoors in many
(Politico, April 27, 2021)
Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors
or outdoors when in small groups with other fully vaccinated
friends and family, and in some circumstances can go maskless
with unvaccinated people. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky
announced the guidelines, saying the agency had made the
changes after studying how likely vaccinated people are to
transmit the virus.
That Didn't Happen
(Prevent Epidemics, April 27, 2021)
As the world continues efforts to stop COVID-19 and better
prepare for the next disease threat, these stories serve as a
reminder that we can do better.
[Hopefully, we can learn from the exampes in this major
Exposure May Increase COVID-19 Susceptibility.
(SciTechDaily, April 26, 2021)
A new study performed in human lung airway cells is one of the
first to show a potential link between exposure to
organophosphate pesticides and increased susceptibility to
COVID-19 infection. The findings could have implications for
veterans, many of whom were exposed to organophosphate
pesticides during wartime, and for people with metabolic
Exposure to organophosphate pesticides is thought to be one of
the possible causes of Gulf War Illness, a cluster of
medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include
fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia,
dizziness, respiratory disorders and memory problems. More
than 25% of Gulf War veterans are estimated to experience this
African vaccine rollout
(New York Times, April 26, 2021)
Of the one billion shots given around the world, 82 percent
have been given in high- and upper-middle-income countries.
Only 0.2 percent of doses have been administered in low-income
countries — pockets of infection that can produce variants
that put us all in danger.
Find Oldest Home in Human History, Dating to 2 Million Years
(Haaretz, April 26, 2021)
Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa also houses the first known
fire use, and another collection of useless crystals – but
this one is half a million years old.
May Have Found The World’s Oldest Home.
Engineering, April 26, 2021)
Researchers have confirmed the South African cave is 2 million
Bro Bonds of Sperm Whales
(Hakai Magazine, April 26,
Whether for survival or for friendship, male sperm whales
travel the seas with the boys.
Free Market is Dead: What Will Replace It?
Corporate America’s newfound support for more public
investment is not a temporary phenomenon. We are witnessing
the most profound realignment in American political economy in
nearly forty years.
[We think this should be required reading. There is hope.]
Tyler Cohen: Republicans offer humiliating arguments against
(34-min. audio; ACast, April 25, 2021)
The House has passed a bill granting statehood for Washington,
D.C., and Brian debunks all of the arguments against it. Brian
interviews Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton from
Washington, D.C. about statehood passing the House, getting
the Democratic holdouts on board, and her response to those
Republicans who’ve publicly opposed it. And finally, Brian
chats with Fox LA host Elex Michaelson about the California
recall and Caitlyn Jenner’s entrance into the race, and what
Manchin and Sinema stand to gain by protecting the filibuster.
Releases First Aerial Color Image of Mars Captured by the
(SciTechDaily, April 24, 2021)
The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured it with its color
camera during its second successful flight test on April 22,
2021. At the time this image, Ingenuity was 17 feet (5.2
meters) above the surface. The image, as well as the inset
showing a closeup of a portion of the tracks the Perseverance
Mars rover and Mars surface features, demonstrates the utility
of scouting Martian terrain from an aerial perspective.
military helps speed medical supplies as pandemic surge sets
(Washington Post, April 23, 2021)
India set another daily record for new coronavirus infections
Saturday as the country’s health-care system buckled under a
rampaging outbreak that has left dire shortages of oxygen
tanks, medicines and hospital beds. Indian authorities said
they are commandeering trains and using air force planes to
speed up the distribution of medical supplies to hard-hit
regions. Some of India’s crematories have been put out of
service from overuse.
Mailed 100 Letters to Test The Postal Service. We Did Not
Get Speedy Delivery.
(1-min. video; GBH, April 23, 2021)
Steve Doherty, spokesman for the Postal Service's northeast
region, said that like any other business, COVID-19 has made
it hard for the post office to maintain staffing levels, but
he also said that delivery times have improved since the end
of last year and "are now back to pre-holiday peak service
levels." He added that the change to a five-day service
standard for first class mail "will improve service
reliability and predictability for customers and enhance the
efficiency of the Postal Service network."
Scott Hoffman isn't buying it. Hoffman, head of the Boston
Metro local of the American Postal Workers Union, told GBH
News the slowdown in the mail has been a direct outcome of
policy changes implemented by DeJoy, including a reduction in
staff overtime, removal of high speed sorting machines and a
decision to hold mail trucks until they are full instead of
letting partially-loaded trucks head out to get mail moving.
Mexico city sends Trump campaign’s $200,000 bill to
(Daily Kos, April 23, 2021)
The past five years brought unprecedented reporting on what
seemed to be transparent corruption within the Trump
organization and administration. Much of the clearly dubious
handling of money came out of Donald Trump’s campaign
apparatus. Up until the end, Trump’s campaign was run like a
traveling con job, and any and all fundraising done in service
of his candidacy was used to pay off everything but campaign
costs. The Trump administration, like the Trump organization
of the past 40+ years, tried to leave citizens holding the bag
at every turn.
One of the main gripes that states and localities had with
Trump’s never-ending campaign was his propensity to leave the
costs of enormous security bills on the shoulders of local
taxpayers. One city that has waited more than 19 months
for the Trump campaign to pay its debt is Albuquerque,
Find New Chunk of SolarWinds Attackers’ Infrastructure.
(Decipher, April 23, 2021)
The RiskIQ researchers discovered 18 previously unknown
command-and-control servers used by the attackers, a number
that represents a 56 percent increase in the number of known
C2 servers for this operation. The RiskIQ team was surprised
at the volume of previously unknown servers it found. "Four
months have elapsed since the first research into this
campaign was published. And lots of eyes have been on this
campaign. Many capable and prominent private companies have
made their findings public, as has the U.S. government. That
we were the first to publicly disclose this attacker
infrastructure was therefore unexpected."
Some of the attackers’ servers were located in the United
States, while others were scattered across the globe. This was
not just a result of where they could find the servers they
needed, but appears to be an intentional decision to prevent
easy tracking and investigation should the operation be
loves Linux – as in, it loves Linux users running Linux
desktop apps on Windows PCs.
(5-min. video; Register,
April 22, 2021)
Come inside, penguinistas, install that WSL GUI preview, yes,
open source is totally winning here.
miniature version of Starry Night was made with a “laser
(2-min. video; Ars Technica, April 22,
New tool creates color on metal surfaces that can be changed,
NOT Get Your COVID-19 Vaccination Card Laminated.
April 22, 2021)
Tips for safeguarding the paper record of your coronavirus
[The bad news: Why are we hearing this too late?
The good news: The newer vaccination date was on tape,
which they stuck onto our laminated cards. No problemo!]
learn the ‘names’ of their friends to form teams—a first in
(Science, April 22, 2021)
Like members of a street gang, male dolphins summon their
buddies when it comes time to raid and pillage—or, in their
case, to capture and defend females in heat. A new study
reveals they do this by learning the “names,” or signature
whistles, of their closest allies—sometimes more than a dozen
animals—and remembering who consistently cooperated with them
in the past. The findings indicate dolphins have a concept of
team membership—previously seen only in humans—and may help
reveal how they maintain such intricate and tight-knit
fun in the summertime? Maybe. States begin to plan for
(New York Times, April 22, 2021)
With summer on the horizon, states are beginning to rethink
social-distancing measures. Science shows that the risk of
viral transmission outside is very low. The Times’s Well
columnist, Tara Parker-Pope, suggests making sure activities
meet two out of the following three conditions: outdoors,
distanced and masked.
is going electric – every new vehicle will be all-electric
(Electrek, April 21, 2021)
Yesterday, the company held a virtual unveiling of its Lyriq
electric vehicle, during which it also announced plans to move
the brand into only releasing electric vehicles. That is, it
will only unveil
all-electric vehicles. The brand’s
lineup of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles is fairly
fresh, and therefore, they plan to keep selling more
gas-powered cars for years. However, Cadillac expects to stop
selling any ICE vehicles by 2030.
API that can tell your EV when it’s the optimal time to
(Ars Technica, April 22, 2021)
Energy management systems should mean cheaper EV charging for
E.V. Start-Up Backed by UPS Does Away With the Assembly
(New York Times, April 21, 2021)
Arrival, a developer of electric vans and buses, says it has
come up with a cheaper way to build vehicles in small
factories. But can it deliver on that promise?
Proposed Limits on AI Would Have Global Consequences.
(Wired, April 21, 2021)
The EU released draft laws that would regulate facial
recognition and uses of algorithms. If it passes, the policy
will impact companies in the US and China.
Hackers Tricked Victims Into Installing iOS Spyware.
(Washington News Post, April 21, 2021)
Facebook has uncovered two digital espionage campaigns out of
Palestine, active in 2019 and 2020, that exploited a range of
devices and platforms, including unique spyware that targeted
behind another hack as U.S. cybersecurity issues mount.
(NBC News, April 21, 2021)
Cybersecurity company Mandiant said Pulse Secure, a program
that businesses often use to let workers remotely connect to
their offices, had been compromised.
Advancing the Story
(RiskIQ, April 21, 2021)
This report aims to provide tactical intelligence to advance
the understanding of this campaign and enable better and
faster incident response.f
duo thought it would be cool to sneak bad code into Linux as
an experiment. Of course, it absolutely backfired.
Register, April 21, 2021)
Computer scientists at the University of Minnesota theorized
they could sneak vulnerabilities into open-source software –
but when they tried subverting the Linux kernel, it backfired
spectacularly. And now their entire school – or at least
anyone using a umn.edu email address – has been banned from
offering future Linux kernel contributions. 'Our community
does not appreciate being experimented on', says
Hossenfelder: All you need to know about Elon Musk’s Carbon
(12-min. video; BackReaction, April 21,
Elon Musk has announced he is sponsoring a competition for the
best carbon removal ideas with a fifty million dollar prize
for the winner. The competition will open on April
twenty-second, twenty-twenty-one. In this video, I will tell
you all you need to know about carbon capture to get your
brain going, and put you on the way for the fifty million
Fix Our Democracy, We Must Get Small Money Into Politics
(Harvard Political Review, April 21, 2021)
Elected officials being responsive to the needs and interests
of the people is at the core of what it means to have a
representative democracy. Through the ballot box, voters are
given the power to effectively steer policy-making by electing
candidates who represent their vision for the country. In
turn, electoral competition is supposed to incentivize
politicians to follow through with their campaign promises and
fully align themselves with the wishes of their constituents.
However, this idealized version of democracy where government
policy reflects public demand does not always play out in the
For instance, back in 2020, an overwhelming majority of
Americans endorsed a second round of stimulus checks, and
polls estimated that some 76% of adults supported payments of
$1,000 or more. But after months of stalemate — a delay that
exacerbated the economic downturn at the end of the year,
Congress passed a much smaller relief bill which most
Americans believed to be insufficient. Similarly, despite 6 in
10 Americans supporting an increase of the federal minimum
wage to $15 per hour, the policy has been soundly rejected in
the Senate by significant margins.
At first, this gap between what the people want and the
policies that actually make it through the government seems
paradoxical. If politicians are not properly representing
their constituents, they should be getting replaced in the
following elections by candidates more responsive to voters.
Yet, in spite of almost 7 in 10 Americans disapproving of the
way Congress handles its job, more than 90% of representatives
in the House and around 85% of senators are re-elected each
election cycle on average. So why is it that so many
politicians are able to remain unresponsive to the demands of
such a large portion of American public? The answer is quite
Bills Target Protesters (and Absolve Motorists Who Hit
(New York Times, April 21, 2021)
As the nation reacts to the guilty verdict a jury handed to
Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd, Republican-led
states are introducing punitive new measures governing
Obama: Today, A Jury Did the Right Thing. But True Justice
Requires Much More.
(Medium, April 21, 2021)
True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that
Black Americans are treated differently, every day. It
requires us to recognize that millions of our friends, family,
and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter
with law enforcement could be their last. And it requires us
to do the sometimes thankless, often difficult, but always
necessary work of making the America we know more like the
America we believe in.
While today’s verdict may have been a necessary step on the
road to progress, it was far from a sufficient one. We cannot
rest. We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms
that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our
criminal justice system. We will need to redouble efforts to
expand economic opportunity for those communities that have
been too long marginalized.
online communities pose risks for young people, but they are
also important sources of support.
April 21, 2021)
While young people today may not be able to gather in person
as often as they’d like, they aren’t necessarily isolated.
They have long used online communities to explore their
identities and conduct their social lives. They’re involved in
anonymous hip-hop discussion forums, ADHD support groups on
Facebook, biology class group chats on Instagram and comments
sections under popular YouTube videos.
There are many of these online communities, and collectively
they cover a wide range of subjects. They’re also often
central to their users’ lives. However, parents, educators and
psychologists frequently argue that these spaces can cause
young people distress and even expose them to dangerous
FTC issues stern
warning: Biased AI may break the law.
(April 20, 2021)
In a blog post this week, the Federal Trade Commission
signaled that it's taking a hard look at bias in Artificial
Intelligence systems, warning businesses that selling or using
such systems could constitute a violation of federal law. "The
FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive practices," the post
reads. "That would include the sale or use of – for example –
racially biased algorithms." The post also notes that biased
AI can violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Equal
Credit Opportunity Act.
The post concludes with a clear-eyed message to businesses.
"Hold yourself accountable," it reads, "or be ready for the
FTC to do it for you."
bearing witness — and hitting ‘record’ — 17-year-old
Darnella Frazier may have changed the world.
video; Washington Post, April 20, 2021)
We’ve seen the images of her there on the scene in her
loosefitting blue pants, her hoodie and her flip-flops,
eventually joined again by her little cousin in a mint-green
shirt that read “Love.” Frazier just stood there, resolutely,
holding her phone.
Later, she posted a video clip of about 10 minutes to
Facebook. That video clip, now seen millions of times around
the world, was a powerful, irrefutable act of bearing witness.
The video, showing most of the nine minutes and 29 seconds of
Floyd gasping and ultimately drawing his last breath under
Chauvin’s knee, was something that couldn’t be explained away.
The video became what one network legal analyst, Sunny Hostin,
called “the star witness for the prosecution" and “the
strongest piece of evidence I have ever seen in a case against
a police officer.”
On the witness stand late last month, she also had this to say
about Floyd, whom she did not know: “He was suffering. He was
in pain. . . . It seemed like he knew it was over for him.
. . . He was terrified.”
In Frazier’s early interview with the Minneapolis
Star-Tribune, she explained that she felt compelled to hit
“record” because she was seeing something completely
unacceptable. She may have felt helpless. She couldn’t pull
Chauvin off Floyd’s neck, but this was something she could do.
“The world needed to see what I was seeing,” she said.
We saw it, Darnella.
Cox Richardson: Rest in power, Mr. Floyd.
An American, April 20, 2021)
After 1877, certain white men in the American South could
commit crimes with impunity, doing whatever they wished to the
rest of us, because the region had become a one-party state.
Protesters like Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner set out to
reestablish the principle of equality before the law. In 1964,
Price and Rainey tried to stop them and found, to their
surprise, that the world had changed. Then, in 1965, the
Voting Rights Act protecting the right of Black people to vote
and the stranglehold of the white supremacists on the
one-party South loosened.
In 2021, once again, certain people in our government and law
enforcement would like to exercise the political dominance of
a one-party state and the power that comes with it, this time
on a national scale. Today, Chauvin found, to his apparent
surprise, that the world is changing.
W. Bush Is Now Deeply Concerned About The Spread Of
(Huffington Post, April 20, 2021)
President George W. Bush, the man whose administration pushed
false statements to draw America into war with Iraq, said he
is very concerned about the lies people spread on social
media. In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday
morning, Bush expressed disgust with some Republicans who were