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Pouring out my whole backlist of Depressing Political Links in one go November 14, 2019

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“Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

U.S. officials turned away a 17-year-old Palestinian incoming Harvard freshman last week after he was questioned about his friends’ social media posts, according to the Harvard Crimson.” (It was never about whether other countries are “sending their best people”! It’s racism! It was always racism!)

Connors said the family was asked about family members in the United States they could be released to, but instead of being freed they were transferred to the Berks Family Residential Center, outside Reading, on Oct. 5. […] the Berks County-run facility was not equipped to care for [their 3-month-old] child and that normal caretaking items — such as a container of formula and teething powder — have been confiscated. At one point, her baby had no clothes while staff washed the clothes he arrived with.” (This family is white, British, and crossed over the Canada border by accident. Abolish ICE.)

“The judge agreed that they probably would kill him, just before he denied his asylum claim. He was deported. They did.

2600 Magazine has compiled a full listing of Customs and Border Patrol stations, a number of which are being used to imprison migrants, immigrants, and/or refugees, many of whom are children. In the interests of openness, we are sharing that info here.”

“OCI has produced about the most conservative possible estimate of the subsidies received by fossil fuels in the US. These are solely production subsidies — taxpayer money that goes directly to producing more fossil fuels. […] $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion in state-level incentives, for a total of $20.5 billion annually in corporate welfare.

“The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a bipartisan report Tuesday calling for Congress to consider new laws designed to prevent foreign interference on social media — the culmination of a two-year investigation into how Russian intelligence agencies sought to manipulate American public opinion in the 2016 election.”

“…the Pew Research Center’s latest rolling poll of U.S. veterans, published Thursday, in which solid majorities of former troops said the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria were not worth fighting. The gaps between approval and disapproval were not even close to the poll’s 3.9 percent margin of error; barely a third of veterans considered any of those conflicts worthwhile.

a [wordless agonized keening] type of link roundup March 23, 2019

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Key members of the Trump administration pushed a plan to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia in the months after the inauguration despite objections from members of the National Security Council and other senior White House officials.”

“A LT in the US Coast Guard was arrested [the week of Feb 20] for drug and gun charges. It looked like a run of the mill case until the detention memo filed yesterday. He had a hit list, contacts with white supremacists, guns, and, again, was [a Coast Guard] assigned to HQ.

“Contrary to a lot of guilt-tripping pleas for us all to take the bus more often to save the world, your individual choices are probably doing very little to the world’s climate. The real impact comes on the industrial level, as more than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies.”

“189 calls were made from 46 sites, raising new questions about working conditions. One ex-employee said ‘breakdowns [are] a regular occurrence’ at Amazon.

“London ended up with all of the gold and silver that should have gone directly to the Indians in exchange for their exports. This corrupt system meant that even while India was running an impressive trade surplus with the rest of the world – a surplus that lasted for three decades in the early 20th century – it showed up as a deficit in the national accounts because the real income from India’s exports was appropriated in its entirety by Britain.”

Trump’s shutdown [did] cost the U.S. economy $5 billion in lost output every two weeks it continues based on the administration’s own impact estimate. That’s $2.5 billion per week, $357 million per day, or $15 million per hour.”

Here’s a list of all the awful things done the Trump Administration has done so far. […] It’s also a reminder that policies enacted by the Trump Administration can be long lasting and cumulative, which is easy to forget in a political culture which jumps around from controversy to controversy, forgetting them as it goes.”

Good things. (Candy invention, migrant citizenship, Ursula Le Guin being awesome, and more) February 12, 2019

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“At first the brothers printed the sayings by hand. Since the lozenges were fairly large, they could accommodate long statements (Victorian favorites included “How long shall I have to wait? Pray be considerate” and “Please send a lock of your hair by return mail”).” The origin of Sweethearts.

“Impressive as this finding about hemimastigotes is on its own, what matters more is that it’s just the latest (and most profound) of a quietly and steadily growing number of major taxonomic additions. Researchers keep uncovering not just new species or classes but entirely new kingdoms of life — raising questions about how they have stayed hidden for so long and how close we are to finding them all.” Guys, we found a New Science Thing.

“I emerged from the complicated underworld of toxic shock syndrome science with far more than I bargained for, including a lecture from an elderly man on the “art of making love,” a possible TSS-related upside to having sex early and often, multiple accusations of collusion, and the story of a bitter, decades-long rivalry between two prominent microbiologists. I also learned that everything you think you know about tampons, period sex, and toxic shock syndrome is probably wrong.”

“On this page, you will find more information about The Green Hosting Directory. For every country, the list starts with Partners: the [Internet] hosting companies that provide proof of their green claim online.”

“Greece has awarded citizenship to three migrant fishermen – two Egyptians and an Albanian – who rescued Greeks from a devastating fire near Athens last July. At a ceremony the Greek President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, thanked the fishermen for showing “solidarity and humanity” by rescuing dozens of people. ‘You are now European citizens too, and so you can teach all our partners who don’t realise the values of Europe, to do what they ought to do.’

Le Guin – sanguine, curious, unconcerned – looked around at the Venus of Willendorf replica, the flyers advertising knitting circles and separatist meetings, the box set of Dykes to Watch Out For, and said, ‘I like it.’ She walked further into the store. ‘Let’s look around.’”

Good things. (Pool parties, Medicare, ocean cleanup, gay stuff in media.) October 1, 2018

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“Remember the teenage girl who got dragged by police at a pool party? Well, she’s getting her money and her own pool party. […] Cole said that her client plans to use a portion of the money to start a business and that she hopes to become a dentist.” I’m so relieved and happy for this nerd.

Koch-backed study finds ‘Medicare for All’ would save U.S. trillions. An estimated cost of $32.6 trillion over 10 years is less than the US would spend over the next 10 years under the current system.”

Engineers on Saturday deployed a trash collection device to corral plastic litter floating between California and Hawaii in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest garbage patch in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.”

“I was just learning about how The Answer book, which was also very difficult to make and I only just now found out that a big part of why it was made was that one of the big champions of the book was an ally for her sister. We’ve had allies at all these different stages, people for whom this is very personal and they understand the personal toll that can be taken.” Rebecca Sugar on breaking ground.

“The truth is they’re scared of getting emails from bigots and they’re cowards. So they’re letting the bigots control the conversation. My response was basically, ‘Let ‘em complain,’ ‘they’re wrong,’ and ‘they’re just gonna have to live with it.’ Unfortunately, it got so contentious that [the network] essentially told me that if I didn’t cut the scene they would cut the episode and they strong-armed me out of it.” More on representation, with Voltron, Gravity Falls, and SU.

“Arnie as a film editor—if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organization? And I was the jokester. So it was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple. I wrote sketches…Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert & Ernie dynamic.

Cleaning up the ocean with targeted efforts 1000% more effective than straw bans September 3, 2018

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“…skipping a plastic straw in your next Bahama Mama may feel conscientious, but it won’t make a dent in the garbage patch. So what will? A recent survey by scientists affiliated with Ocean Cleanup, a group developing technologies to reduce ocean plastic, offers one answer. Using surface samples and aerial surveys, the group determined that at least 46 percent of the plastic in the garbage patch by weight comes from a single product: fishing nets.” Plus: concrete ways to make that better!

“Our seas are choking on plastic. A staggering eight million metric tons wind up in oceans every year, and unraveling exactly how it gets there is critical. A recent study estimates that more than a quarter of all that waste could be pouring in from just 10 rivers, eight of them in Asia.” Cleanup targets!

In more disheartening links:

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy pummeled the island, causing the already rising seas to spill over the streets and into the homes of Tangier’s 481 residents. A few days after the storm, Carol steered her skiff toward the island’s uppermost tip to survey the damage. Along the shoreline, soil was sluicing into the bay each time the waves hit. A human skull floated at the water’s edge—the remains of a body broken free from an eroded grave.”

Foote’s paper anticipated the revolution in climate science by experimentally demonstrating the effects of the sun on certain gases and theorizing how those gases would interact with Earth’s atmosphere for the first time. In a column of the September 1856 issue of Scientific American titled ‘Scientific Ladies,’ Foote is praised for supporting her opinions with ‘practical experiments.'” (But people keep giving the credit to a guy who rediscovered the same thing years later, because of course.)

Well, this sucks. (climate change, debt growth, school shootings, and more) August 7, 2018

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“This two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it.” They’re…not kidding. It’s heartbreaking.

“By almost every measure, the U.S. economy is booming. But a look behind the headlines of roaring job growth and consumer spending reveals how the boom continues in large part by the poorer half of Americans fleecing their savings and piling up debt.

Twice as many students have been killed in school shootings [in 2018] as have members of the military who were on deployment.”

“Terrorist attacks committed by Muslim extremists receive 357% more US press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims, according to new research from the University of Alabama. […] The disparity in media coverage is particularly out of sync with the reality given that white and rightwing terrorists carried out nearly twice as many terrorist attacks as Muslim extremists between 2008 and 2016.

“Some of the jurors who imposed the death penalty on Charles Rhines, who was convicted of murder, have said they thought the alternative — a life sentence served in a men’s prison — was something he would enjoy as a gay man.” This one has turned up some awful comments about “well, he deserved the death penalty, regardless of how he got it.” No. Stop. You really think this problem will only affect “the bad ones” and leave “the good ones” alone? Because that’s Not How It Works. See previous link. Or, alternately, all of history.

Trashing our oceans, killing our power grids, burning down our buildings, and more May 22, 2018

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“In the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii, hundreds of miles from any major city, plastic bottles, children’s toys, broken electronics, abandoned fishing nets and millions more fragments of debris are floating in the water — at least 87,000 tons’ worth, researchers said Thursday.

“The river is fed by 51 tributaries, some of them overflowing with plastic waste from squatter settlements that cantilever precariously over creek banks. A tributary near Chinatown, where rickety shanties are wedged between modern buildings, is so choked with plastic debris you can walk across it, forgoing the footbridge.

“A new report from the Rhodium Group on Puerto Rico’s ongoing blackout has found that Hurricane Maria has spawned the second-largest power outage in the world on record.

Fundraising for a Dallas LGBT community center that was intentionally set on fire last year. They’ve gotten enough to do a lot of rebuilding, but they can always use more.

In 2012 a call center in India was busted for making 8 million calls in eight months to collect made-up bills. The Federal Trade Commission has since broken up at least 13 similar scams. In most cases, regulators weren’t able to identify the original perpetrators because the data files had been sold and repackaged so many times. Victims have essentially no recourse to do anything but take the abuse.”

“For those of you who work in social media, I need to share the story of my friend who died, and I didn’t know because algorithms.

“The impersonator trolls seethed. Some tried changing their user names to evade the bot (it didn’t work). Others simply reverted to their openly neo-Nazi personas. A few even tried to impersonate the bot, which was vastly preferable from our perspective and rather amusing. [..] The Nazis realized they couldn’t beat the bot, so they started mass-reporting it to Twitter for “harassment.”

And to end this post on a not-totally-disheartening note…”In short, in fighting neo-Nazis/alt-right/white-male discontent / We are the Globo-Corpo-Homo-Judeo establishment

nbd, just a bunch of links about how we’re destroying our planet November 14, 2017

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Being caught in a natural disaster can give people long-term PTSD, who knew? (They don’t use the term PTSD, they call it “Katrina brain,” as if this was a total unknown before Hurrican Katrina. It’s bizarre.)

Over 900 people have been cremated in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria made landfall a month ago, but the official death toll is still listed as 51.” And that was as of October 30.

Plants like a more CO2-rich atmosphere, but there’s a high price: “Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising. We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history―[an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.”

“The particles are called microbeads, and consumers can avoid them by checking to see if plastic — maybe polyethylene or polypropylene — is on the product’s ingredient list. Once these virtually indestructible beads enter the water, they attract toxic substances, like PCBs. They become part of the aquatic food chain, soon eaten by fish and then, too often, by humans.”

A $17 million study of climate change in the Canadian Arctic has been nixed for now — because of climate change.”

Cool research: lead in your dandruff, dino-chicken mutants, reverse corporate espionage, and more June 7, 2017

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Lead came from his glassware, his tap water, the paint on the laboratory walls, the desks, the dust in the air, his skin, his clothes, his hair, even motes of wayward dandruff. If Patterson wanted to get accurate results, he had little choice but to become the world’s most obsessive neat freak.” The lifelong research that helped us get the Clean Air Act.

“García-Trabanino started a fellowship at the Rosales hospital as a young doctor in 1998, and what he encountered resembled a scene from a battlefield. He had expected to be treating heart disease, neurological patients, eye problems—the full gamut of medical conditions. Instead all he encountered were men dying—sometimes slowly, but usually quickly—from kidney failure.” Global warming has invented a new form of kidney disease.

“We didn’t set out trying to prove anything, but rather compile real data. We framed it as a census rather than a study. So we Googled our way to 8,000 screenplays and matched each character’s lines to an actor. From there, we compiled the number of words spoken by male and female characters across roughly 2,000 films, arguably the largest undertaking of script analysis, ever.

“After noticing that a client was treating him like crap while his email signature was accidentally set to my name, we came up with an experiment. We switched signatures for a week. Nothing changed, except that our clients read me as male and Marty as female. I had one of the easiest weeks of my professional life. He… didn’t.”

“For now Bhullar has no plans, or ethical approval, to hatch the snouted chickens. But he believes they would have been able to survive ‘just fine’.” We made dino-mutant embryos!

“We hear a lot about the spy-movie kind of corporate espionage. I’d love to read a study of reverse corporate espionage, where companies forget their own secrets and employees have to unofficially get them back. I’m convinced it happens more than you’d think.” Within a few decades, this petrochemical company lost the knowledge of how one of their plants worked. Whoops?

A partial list of good and worthwhile things the GOP is out to destroy. February 24, 2017

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A federal civilian hiring freeze ordered by President Donald Trump has forced at least two Army bases to indefinitely suspend some child care programs. Okay, louder for the folks in the back: Republicans do not support our troops. They pay lip service when it’s convenient and screw them over once it’s not. The party that gives a damn about the military is the Democrats.

“[The Obamacare removal of health-insurance lifetime limits] took effect September 23, 2010. Timmy was born September 29. On December 17, he surpassed $1 million worth of bills in the neonatal intensive care unit. He didn’t leave the NICU until he was 6 months old.” One of the many American children that Republicans don’t care about.

In El Paso, 11-year-old Rudy Smith lost most of the therapy services that helped him cope with cerebral palsy and a severe form of epilepsy, which plagues him with 50 to 100 seizures a day. His mother says she’s having trouble getting prescriptions filled, and the insurance company keeps sending her incorrect or faulty medical supplies.” A subset of the many children in Texas that Republicans don’t care about.

I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens. I lasted eight days.”

One more way the Trump administration is killing jobs: he’s on track to devastate our tourism industry. “A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States—and thus lost—would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.”

A case from 2011, with lessons for today: “Cash gets angry when people tell him that his Hispanic workforce was taking jobs away from Americans. Since the new law began two weeks ago only two American citizens have come by his farm asking for work.”

Thousands of photographs showing what America looked like before the EPA. (Hint: there’s a whole lot of smog.)