Sunday, December 2, 2018

Oh, how they pound, raising the sound

Time to start the war against Bill O'Reilly's war on Christmas, so happy Advent and some traditional music to set the mood and the North Pole Advent Calendar (which now lets you cheat) while you're waiting. I like the funky little jigsaw puzzles.

"Jill Stein wins Election Reform in PA: Today, Green Party 2016 Presidential nominee Jill Stein announced the formal settlement of her 2016 lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit called for an end to the use of paperless voting machines known to be vulnerable to hacking, tampering and error, and for the reform of unworkable recount procedures that prevent verification of the vote. The settlement guarantees that Pennsylvania will provide new voting systems using paper ballots by 2020, followed in 2022 by automatic robust audits after every election to confirm the accuracy of the vote before results are certified."

"Senate defies White House on Saudi support in Yemen: The Senate delivered a stunning rebuke to the Trump administration on Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to advance a measure yanking U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces at war in Yemen. The 63-37 vote, in which 14 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to move forward on the bipartisan Saudi resolution, came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis failed to sway key undecided senators with an appeal to hold off lest they upset progress of nascent talks on a cease-fire in Yemen." Or as Ben Norton tweeted: This Sanders/Murphy/Lee resolution would force a withdrawal of US support for this unauthorized war, which created Earth's largest humanitarian crisis and pushed millions into famine." We are all amazed to see that no Democrat actually voted against this bill. All the bipartisanship came from the other direction, for a change - and it's the first bipartisan bill to pass the Senate in a long time that is an unmitigated good. It's reasonable to hope the House may pass it, but if Trump vetoes it, it's unlikely to get past the next Senate.

"Taxpayers — not Big Pharma — have funded the research behind every new drug since 2010: A sweeping study of drug R&D funding shows the public pays for the crucial foundations of medical breakthroughs. So why not let the public have access to them? Something odd happened when the Trump administration submitted the original version of its latest pro-corporate budget: Big Pharma didn't like it. The problem wasn't a tax hike or new regulations: the problem was that the budget included deep cuts to the budget of the National Institutes of Health. If those cuts had gone through, they would have exposed one of the biggest lies told about Big Pharma: that the current system of patents and price-gouging is just an unfortunate necessity to cover the cost of all their brave and noble R&D work. Trump's original spending proposal for fiscal year 2019, released last month, included major cuts to not just to the NIH, but the National Science Foundation as well. It is those two publicly funded entities — not Big Pharma — that support the bulk of the country's basic research into diseases and pathways to new treatments. That's why the cuts were especially unwelcome in the executive suites of drug and biotech companies. Their business models depend on Washington subsidizing expensive, high-risk basic research, mostly through the vast laboratory network funded by the NIH.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment, "Trump cuts Palestinians off at Knees, Ending $5 bn in US AID Support: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that all operations in the West Bank and Gaza will close by early 2019. Half of the agency's staff are expected to be let go in the coming weeks. USAID is one of the largest aid organizations in the region, supplying around US$5.5 billion to the occupied Palestinian territories for infrastructure, medical and social services, and humanitarian aid. There is currently no alternative in sight. Some US$215 million that the United States was to invest in humanitarian aid and development in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip has been withheld, according to an analysis for the U.S. Congress. U.S. financing for UNRWA has also been blocked as part of President Trump's blackmail tactics against the Palestinians."

"Ukraine Bans All Russian Men, Raising Tensions: Adding to growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, and the broad Ukrainian hostility toward all things Russian, President Petro Poroshenko announced on Friday that he is banning all Russian men between the ages of 16 and 60 from the country. Officials are trying to tie this to last weekend's maritime incident with Russia, and Poroshenko is claiming it is to prevent Russian soldiers from sneaking into the country to 'destabilize' Ukraine before a war. In reality, it feels like a continuation of Poroshenko's anti-Russia policies which included harsh restrictions on the use of the Russian language, the sort of policies which fueled secessionist fervor in the mostly ethnic-Russian east. In the near term, the impact is mostly economic and cultural. Russian soloist Andrei Merkuriev, from the Bolshoi, reported that he was forbidden from attending a ballet in Odessa, a show which he was staging in the first place. Beyond this, Poroshenko announced new crackdowns on the Russian Orthodox church, ordering raids against important religious sites in the country. This comes amid his government's push to emphasize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox church."

RIP: "Director Nicolas Roeg dies aged 90." I think I only saw The Man Who Fell To Earth a couple of times, but I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've seen Performance. A friend who worked at the theater slipped me in to see it the first several times ("You gotta see this movie!"). I couldn't stop watching. (Still one of the best soundtracks ever.)

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From Down With Tyranny!
"New Series: The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part I, Tulsi Gabbard [...] In Hawaii, she earned a reputation among her former colleagues in the State Legislature as one of their most bigoted contemporaries. She defined her local career as an outspoken anti-gay and anti-reproductive rights politician. Volumes of official records from the Hawaii State Legislative Reference Bureau tell Tulsi's story in her own words. Here, Tulsi, then Representative Tamayo, presents a floor speech against a measure supported by local hospitals that resolved to study the needs of LGBTQ students, who suffered the highest rates of suicide in the state...."

"The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part II, Kirsten Gillibrand [...] Trump and the GOP will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars eviscerating anyone the Democrats run in 2020. But Gillibrand would be their easiest target to destroy, since she's laid so much of the groundwork herself."

"New Series: Democraps Who Are Calling Out To Be Primaried-- Meet California Blue Dog Jim Costa"

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This is from September but kept forgetting to post it, even though I've listened to it several times since then. Matt Taibbi on The Michael Brooks Show, TMBS - 58 - Ten Years Of Not Jailing Bankers. I particularly liked the parts where they tear up Jamie Dimon (welfare queen) and Ben Bernenke.

"Pennsylvania Case Challenges 'Death By Incarceration' For 18-Year-Olds: Recent Supreme Court rulings have led to a review of life-without-parole sentences for crimes committed at age 17 and younger, but attorneys for Avis Lee say there's no reason to stop there."

Matt Taibbi, "Who Will Fix Facebook? In its effort to clamp down on fake news, Russian trolls and Nazis, the social media giant has also started banning innocent people, proving again it can't be trusted to regulate itself [...] We could have responded to the fake-news problem in a hundred different ways. We could have used European-style laws to go after Silicon Valley's rapacious data-collection schemes that incentivize clickbait and hyper-partisanship. We could have used anti-trust laws to tackle monopolistic companies that wield too much electoral influence. We could have recognized de facto mega-distributors as public utilities, making algorithms for things like Google searches and Facebook news feeds transparent, allowing legitimate media outlets to know how they're being regulated, and why. Instead, this story may be turning into one of the oldest narratives in politics: the misuse of a public emergency to suspend civil rights and concentrate power. One recurring theme of the fake-news controversy has been a willingness of those in power to use the influence of platforms like Facebook, rather than curtail or correct them. Accused of being an irresponsible steward of information, Facebook is now being asked to exercise potentially vast and opaque new powers."

"A group of students at Weill Cornell and Columbia explain why their CEO is wrong to oppose 'Medicare for All'

This is old and maybe I even posted it before and forgot, but I was listening to it just now and it was kinda spooky to hear Robert Scheer and Thomas Frank discussing the Democrats at the 2016 Democratic Convention.

Just sticking this here as a note to self: "What Bernie Sanders Got Done in Washington: A Legislative Inventory"

"Analysis: From Glasgow to Berlin - how strikes, mutinies and revolutions ended WW1: Official commemorations for the end of WW1 refuse to acknowledge how it ended."

Whovian Complaint Form (via)

Someone reminded me to watch the "Ode to Joy - Flash Mob Started by One Little Girl" video again.

You can read all of Will Shetterly's Warpship Victoria comic here.

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