Friday, December 18, 2020

Various Things I Recently Found to Be Interesting

Here are 14 pictures from Nature Photography's Picture of the Year contest, all amazing.

A doctor in Texas says half his nurses won't get vaccinated for "politically motivated" reasons. Nurses. If I were him, after the crisis of the pandemic passes, I'd replace a certain half of my nursing staff.

Season 5 of The Expanse is now available on Amazon Prime, at least in the US.

Trump, Dec 8: “You develop immunity over a period of time, and I hear we’re close to 15%. I’m hearing that, and that is terrific. That’s a very powerful vaccine in itself.” No. No, no no. 

The 3D printing process may be toxic to humans.

WaPo: "Joe Biden is the oldest man ever elected president, and he’ll replace Donald Trump, who was the previous oldest. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is 80, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is 78. In fact, there are now seven senators in their 80s." 

Diane Feinstein -- the 87-year old senator from California, reported to be losing her short-term memory, about which no one seems to know what to do -- famously dismissed a group of kids and teens who approached her to discuss the urgency of the climate problem by saying, “Well, you didn’t vote for me.”

Trump really does live in his own universe -- WaPo again: "A Dutchman named Victor Gevers claims to have logged in to President Trump’s Twitter account six years ago by guessing the password: 'yourefired.' Then he did it again. On Oct. 16, Gevers, 44, made an accurate guess, “maga2020!,” on his fifth try, according to Dutch prosecutors. Hacking is a crime in the Netherlands.... But on Wednesday, Dutch officials said they would not press charges because Gevers had met the bar for “responsible disclosure,” demonstrating how easy it could be to gain access to the U.S. president’s handle: @realdonaldtrump.... “We believe the hacker has actually penetrated Trump’s Twitter account, but has met the criteria that have been developed in case law to go free as an ethical hacker,” the public prosecutor’s office said in a statement, the Guardian reported.

WaPo still: "Biden defends son Hunter, says ‘not concerned’ about federal investigation." -- Biden should just keep his mouth shut about his son, and every time he's asked about him say "no comment," and let whatever investigations take place without any shenanigans behind the scenes whatsoever. I don't know why this should be so difficult. He has nothing whatsoever to gain by defending his son before the investigation(s) are complete, because it's unlikely he knows all the facts. Just shutup and stay out of it. Yes, it's "foul play" from Republicans, as you say, but that's politics and so was Anita Hill. Stay out of it. 

Sorry, I read a lot of WaPo: White House aides talked Trump out of last-minute demand for stimulus checks as big as $2,000 -- I think Trump's instincts are right about this, but of course his fellow Republicans won't ever go for it because some precious billionaire might get his taxes raised an iota or two.

Manny Ramirez -- famous for his "Manny being Manny" exploits -- having played for the Red Sox and the White Sox, will now play for the Blue Sox in Australia. He's 48.

Michigan Republican Rep. Paul Mitchell is so disgusted with Trump's effort to overturn the election that he told the House clerk to change his party affiliation to "independent."

A state senator in Virginia, running for governor, also says Trump should declare martial law, to prevent his removal from office. Never doubt that there are always good little fascists hidden away who will quickly come to the surface when they get the chance to betray their country for a fascist state.


David in Cal said...

The media defends Joe Biden regarding Hunter Biden and Burisma. IMHO the cover story isn't believable. We know that
-- Hunter Biden received a fortune from a Ukrainian energy company, Burisman, although he had no expertise whatsoever in that field.
-- At that time, VP Biden had been put in charge of Ukrainian policy by President Biden.
-- Biden threatened to deny Ukraine millions of dollars of aid, unless they fired a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma. (You can see Biden boasting about having done this on Youtube.)

This would appear to be a clear case of influence peddling. Biden's defense was that this particular prosecutor was corrupt, and the international community was working to get him fired.

A few minutes thought shows the weakness of this excuse:
-- I never saw any article confirming the alleged international effort to get this prosecutor fired.
-- I never saw an article confirming his alleged corruption.
-- The excuse is an unheard of action. When in our history did foreign aid ever depend on firing a particular prosecutor? After all, a prosecutor is not a high level government figure.


David Appell said...

(You can see Biden boasting about having done this on Youtube.)

What's the link?

J. D. said...

There is a video of him boasting about getting the prosecuter fired but the assertion that there was anything corrupt about this has been debunked many times. Aside from America including Republicans, the IMF and EU wanted him replaced.
Ironically Trump said during his infamous phone call with the Ukrainian President where he asked for a favour that he had heard that the fired prosecuter was a good guy. He would have heard that from Guiliani because he was one of the characters who was providing Guiliani with allegations they could use against Biden.
This is typical Trump. If someone helps him then they are "good guys" no matter how shady they are. OTOH if they won't do something corrupt for him they are hounded and insulted. An example this week is the Georgia governor who wouldn't overturn Biden's victory in his state.

Layzej said...

And he would have gotten away with it too if he hadn't discussed it all on national television (see the 'incriminating' youtube link that DiC referenced), and then in an interview with the Atlantic.

"A few minutes thought shows the weakness of this excuse:" (I never saw... I never heard of... etc)

Just because it's not on Alex Jones doesn't mean it didn't happen. A quick google search confirms that world was aligned on the firing of Shokin:

In the EU:

“This decision creates an opportunity to make a fresh start in the prosecutor general’s office. I hope that the new prosecutor general will ensure that [his] office . . . becomes independent from political influence and pressure and enjoys public trust,” said Jan Tombinski, the EU’s envoy to Ukraine.

In Ukraine:

"Scores of protesters have rallied in the Ukrainian capital, demanding the resignation of the country’s top prosecutor, who has been repeatedly criticized as an impediment to badly needed anticorruption reforms."

"Shokin, who was appointed by President Petro Poroshenko in February, has been under pressure to resign amid criticism he has blocked efforts to fight corruption."

In the UK:

Mr Shokin has been criticised for what his opponents say is his inability to bring any corruption cases to court.

He has also been accused of sabotaging the anti-corruption drive officially declared by Ukraine, as it seeks to forge closer ties with the EU following mass protests that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

And here in Canada:

"Far from assisting the Anti-Corruption Action Centre, a foreign-financed NGO, Poroshenko's government has targeted it for legal harassment over supposed irregularities in its foreign funding. His former chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin, notorious for his refusal to prosecute actual corruption, continued to pursue the Anti-Corruption Action Centre in the courts as recently as May."

David in Cal said...

Layzej - Can you find examples of the US threatening to end foreign aid to a country unless they fired a prosecutor? I believe Biden's action was unique in our history.


Thomas said...

DiC, I have no idea if the same has happened before, but "unique" things happen all the time:
Usually this doesn't have any deeper meaning, even if some people are a bit too eager to find hidden patterns in everything.

Layzej said...

Plus, DiC, you gotta do some of your own homework. "I never heard of..." isn't an argument. It's an admission of ignorance.

Prosecutor general is not a low level government position. The US equivalent is Bill Barr. Barr has the power to protect the president and his allies from prosecution.

Imagine if Bill Bar, instead of being an impartial beacon of justice, allowed partisan politics, personal interests, or any other improper consideration to interfere with investigations into the president and his allies?

Imagine if he preempted the findings of a special investigation into the president with a misleading summary clearing the president and his allies of all wrongdoing? Imagine if he fired SDNY attorneys for overseeing investigations into the president? Imagine if he overrode the sentencing recommendations for Trump allies?

It would be unthinkable. Things were even worse in Ukraine, and it wasn't a secret (even if Alex Jones didn't cover it).

David in Cal said...

When Biden does a previously unheard of favor for a company that paid his son a fortune, that's obvious influence peddling.

In fact, for Hunter Biden to accept all that money from Burisma was an apparent no-no. Burisma was obviously buying influence with VP Biden, who was in charge of Ukrainian policy. There was no other reason for Burism to hire Hunter Biden.

In these highly tribal times, there seems to be little interest in good government. I was a founding member of Common Cause. It was started by John Gardner, a Republican, as a non-partisan, good-government organization. Over time it morphed into a left-supporting organization. The same thing happened to ACLU, which my wife and I donated to for many decades.

David, Layzej and Thomas -- I know from your comments that you're both highly intelligent. I was hoping you could put partisanship aside on this issue.


Thomas said...

DiC COmpanies do "influence peddling" all the time by hiring board members for their connections more than for their competence. That's how capitalism works, and there are much worse examples with people moving back and forth between political jobs and lucrative inductry jobs. (This happens in both parties) IRS is, as I understand it, completely neutered by an inofficial rule that IRS employees who don't investigate big companies too closely will after a few years get a well paid job there.

In this case I think it was more that Burisma wanted to buy reputation, hire forigners to look more respectable, than that they actually expected to get any influence. Hunter Biden does not have any political position and is not bund by any political ethical norms, so why is it a no-no for him to take the job?

You seems to have "forgotten" Layzej's links to other people who wanted that prosecutor fired. I think that you are the one being partisan here. When you can't attack Joe Biden directly you aim for his son.

J. D. said...

When Biden does a previously unheard of favor for a company that paid his son a fortune, that's obvious influence peddling.

Huge logic fail. It's your assertion, it's up to you to prove it's unheard of and anyway what would it prove? There's never been an American president before who wont admit he's failed to get re-elected and shows no sign of doing so even when his allegations of fraud are proved to be false. That doesn't mean its not happening now though.

I was a founding member of Common Cause. It was a non-partisan, good-government organization

Really. I would have thought that supporting Trump was totally inconsistent with that aim. I won't list all the things he's done wrong that you've made excuses for but I would have thought that one of the prime examples of good governance would be graciously accepting defeat and then assisting in the smooth transference of power.

I was hoping you could put partisanship aside on this issue.

LOL.I think you are the last person who should make that accusation. You've long defended the indefensible. Usually with links to far right sources that slavishly support Trump. And you haven't proved that the President elect did anything wrong yet. If you did some internet searches yourself you would find that it was in the interests of America and America's allies to get rid of the corrupt prosecuter. The same corrupt prosecuter who Trump said was a good guy when he asked for a favour. Did you ever criticise Trump for that? Anyway you've yet to provide anything remotely like evidence to show Joe Biden did anything wrong.

Entropic man said...

I'm reading in the Daily Telegraph that on Frday Donald Trump was discussing imposing martial law to overturn the election.

Anything in the US media?

David in Cal said...

EM - the New York Times reported

During an appearance on the conservative Newsmax channel this week, Mr. Flynn pushed for Mr. Trump to impose martial law and deploy the military to “rerun” the election. At one point in the meeting on Friday, Mr. Trump asked about that idea.

IMHO this is a non-story. What a President DOES is what matters. Trump didn't DO anything like this. Nor has he done anything like this at any time during his term of office. The story fits the reigning narrative that Trump is a fascist -- a narrative maintained even though there's no evidence.


Entropic man said...

"Nor has he done anything like this at any time during his term of office. "

Using riot police to clear a park for a photo-up at a church?

Thomas said...

DiC, It is NOT normal in a democracy that leaders talk about imposing martial law to overturn an election. Trump has strong fascist tendensies, although he is also a coward.

Layzej said...

DiC: "When Biden does a previously unheard of favor for a company"

But that's clearly not the case. There is very clear evidence that the prosecutor was corrupt, that he was protecting the perpetrators of corruption, that he needed to be replaced, and that all this was recognized internationally. This was no secret.

It was so obvious that Biden himself discussed his involvement publicly - even bragged about it.

DiC: In fact, for Hunter Biden to accept all that money from Burisma was an apparent no-no.

Right. It creates an apparent conflict of interest. This is a big problem. All the nonsense after this point distracts from the real issue. Nepotism and influence pedaling.

With all the apparent infringements by Trump and his family there should be broad bipartisan support to address this. My guess is that each party (from top on down to the average partisan voter) are too interested in protecting their own to do anything about it.

J. D. said...

Wouldn't it be nice if at least some of those lying about election fraud, without caring if innocent people are hurt, are made to pay for it. It may happen because the voting machine companies are looking to sue Sidney Powell and the Trump supporting media for their atrocious propaganda,

In an era of brazen political lies, Mr. Mugica has emerged as an unlikely figure with the power to put the genie back in the bottle. Last week, his lawyer sent scathing letters to the Fox News Channel, Newsmax and OAN demanding that they immediately, forcefully clear his company’s name — and that they retain documents for a planned defamation lawsuit. He has, legal experts say, an unusually strong case. And his new lawyer is J. Erik Connolly, who not coincidentally won the largest settlement in the history of American media defamation in 2017, at least $177 million,

Maybe Trump will recompense them out of the huge amount of cash he's raised from his gullible following.

Layzej said...

Three cases of election fraud uncovered in Pensilvania. Unlikely to overturn the election, but lends credence to Trump's claims:

Is this just the tip of the ice burg?

Layzej said...

The other two cases are:

Ralph Thurman, 71, a Malvern resident and registered Republican who cast two ballots on Election Day

And in October, a Luzerne County man was arrested after investigators say he fraudulently applied for a ballot for his mother, who died five years ago.