…just sayin’ [DOT 2/8/22]

who says...

…generally speaking with these I tend to go with what’s being said

A US drone strike in Afghanistan has killed the top al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Joe Biden announced on Monday.

…yup…that one

The CIA strike will be seen as a proof of the US’s ability to conduct “over-the-horizon” operations despite last year’s military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. But it also raised questions over al-Qaida’s continued presence in the country since the Taliban regained power.

…but…as may have been mentioned a time or two…the shit that gave us the likes of dolt45 & brexit more or less ensures that’s going to include a contribution from team say-any-old-shit

Liz Truss has been accused of making “ludicrous” claims as she vowed to cut civil service salaries and reduce expenditure to recoup £11bn a year in a “war on Whitehall waste” if she becomes prime minister.

…it’s an evergreen button to push on account of nobody really believes money isn’t wasted by government…although given the rather glaring examples of ways in which cutting funds to services translates to some painful consequences you’d think a few of them might wonder whether taking that much cash out of the thing responsible for making things work might…I dunno…break something important?

“As prime minister I will run a leaner, more efficient, more focused Whitehall that prioritises the things that really matter to people and is laser-focused on frontline services,” she said. “There is too much bureaucracy and stale groupthink in Whitehall.”

…it’s probably going to “work”, too…saying that sort of thing resonates with the same sorts of folks who have sunk costs in brexit being great if someone would just finish getting it done…provided of course that they don’t stop to think about it…obviously

The most significant element of the plan is the introduction of regional pay boards, which she said would “tailor pay to the cost of living where civil servants actually work”. She claimed this would save up to £8.8bn.

…see…boris liked to talk about “levelling up”…& “the northern powerhouse”…& there’s a thing called HS2 that…well…it’d take a while to explain but it’s an improvement to railway services designed to address a thing where depending on which side of the country you’re heading up the trains take several hours longer to get as far north from london…but, hey, let’s ignore that most london-based jobs have a bump in the paycheck to account for the cost of living being higher…& the “up” part…this leveling act would just trim back the fat by removing money from public servants by making some redundant & cutting the pay of the ones that get to keep their jobs because they didn’t really need that money because it’s so much cheaper living outside of london…totally consistent & doubtless well-thought out & properly costed…because she’s a tory & they’re good-at-money, right?

Experts questioned whether the savings were feasible. Alex Thomas, programme director at the Institute for Government, said: “If you’re just talking about civil servants, that is ludicrous; it doesn’t add up at all. The whole [annual] civil service pay bill is around £9bn.”

…in fact…why stop there

Truss’s team claimed that relocating civil servants out of London would save £557m a year by avoiding the need to pay them a special weighting for working in the capital. However, they overestimated the saving by around £400m and were forced to correct it to £153m on Monday afternoon.

…so by way of a minor distraction from the sheer underlying awfulness of the headlines…you could always ponder why it is that the bogeyman in the US is “big government”…but in the UK when broadly the same people want to sound broadly the same dog whistle…it’s “the nanny state”?

Truss also announced that she would halt a proposed ban on “buy one get one free” deals on junk food, in an interview with the Daily Mail where she attacked “nanny state levies”.
In her final message to Tory members as ballots were posted out, Truss vowed to “be bold” and “work relentlessly to deliver on our promises” to win at the next election, which she said would be in 2024.

…& it still appears more likely than not that in the popularity contest between herself & sunak among paid up members of the I-vote-conservative-party it’s her race to lose at this point…but…generally speaking the people who’ve paid those dues & consider themselves to quite rightly have a vote in determining the latest tory to be parachuted into the highest office without having to prevail in a general election…haven’t considered how that internal voting process might make their little club analogous to a union for…well…lets say people they have a lot of things in common with, shall we…that almost sounds like it includes the common people, right?

The Tory leadership race has descended into slapstick politics, and it seems to have no boundaries. In the past week the two candidates have behaved like cliche-spouting populists on the stump, rather than responsible members of a party still in office. The latest excursion of the frontrunner Liz Truss – supposedly the nation’s foreign secretary – into education policy defies belief.

…for context…because of the amount of prospective students in need of a place at university & the finite number of places on courses the application process (somewhat unsurprisingly) starts well before the exams get sat…but apparently liz thinks the just-in-time supply chain model might be a better way to go in order to cast a supposedly wider net when it comes to who gets to go to oxbridge…& by extension…sort of everyplace

She proposes that Oxford and Cambridge be forced to interview for a place any high-flying student in the country with three A* grades at A-level. She says it is wrong that “you should have to put yourself forward” for these places. She might have added, God forbid that you should have to go somewhere like Leeds University – a fate she escaped by shuttling off to Merton College, Oxford. Her proposal would involve some 13,000 Oxbridge interviews from England alone, swamping and distorting the admissions system (assuming candidates can afford to await their exam results, rather than taking up conditional offers elsewhere), and discouraging applicants with less than three A*.

…I dunno…I’ve known a few “oxbridge-types” over the years…& obviously that makes this basically anecdotal…or anecdata as at least one of them would likely put it…but they very much weren’t & aren’t universally people who went to a sequence of expensive schools & got perfect grades…almost as if…perish the thought…the intake process of two of the oldest universities you can find pretty much anyplace actually knows a thing or two about identifying very smart people of a particular age…because ultimately the one thing you absolutely could say about all of them was that they are smart folks…& I’m pretty sure they’d all agree that boiling the entrance criteria down to a trio of exam grades is a dumb idea for a whole host of reasons

British university policy is already a victim of chaotic dirigisme. The prejudice against the humanities, the wasteful bureaucracy of science research, the lockdown legacy of virtual versus in-person teaching, all suggest a sector of the economy woefully in need of rethinking.

Oxford and Cambridge are focusing ever more of their efforts on postgraduates and research. It is possible that eventually they may even discontinue undergraduate teaching altogether. For the time being policy should not discourage bright school-leavers from attending their local university or other centres of excellence, let alone to promote Oxbridge elitism.

…so…you know…take some of this with the proverbial pinch of salt

…it’s tempting to tune out sometimes…but…no rest for the wicked & all that

American politics is about to take a summer break. The supreme court’s next term won’t start until October. Congress will be in recess in August. And the January 6 hearings will be on hiatus until September. Things will calm down for a little while. Or so it will seem on the surface, at least.

…if you want to be reminded of the highlights pointing to why it was a long summer from a voting point of view click on through to that one…but…well…there’s been a lot of context

Yet even in those hectic days of late June, and certainly throughout the Long Summer of 2022, the experience of most Americans, even those who followed the proceedings in Washington closely, were shaped not just by the political upheavals, but by the normal challenges of everyday life. Stores remained open, people had to go to work, they suffered or celebrated with their favorite sports teams.

It would be unfair to denounce these as just illusions of normalcy. In a lot of ways, things really are “normal”, in the sense that most of us continue the routines that dominate our daily lives, even in the midst of a political crisis around us. We have to function, we compartmentalize, we experience a strange mixture of normalcy and emergency that can sometimes feel almost disorienting. Franz Kafka famously noted in his diary on Sunday, 2 August 1914: “Germany has declared war on Russia. Swimming lessons in the afternoon.” Kafka had just witnessed the beginning of what quickly escalated into the first world war. His remark captures the tension between the global and the personal, the extraordinary and the routine, history and everyday life, the outrageous and the mundane.

There is always a temptation to resolve that tension by ignoring the emergency and focusing on the ordinariness of it all – because how bad could things possibly be, the sky isn’t ever falling.[…]

“Crisis”, of course, might be the most overused term in the public discourse. And in its colloquial meaning, in which it vaguely refers to any kind of difficult situation, it certainly doesn’t have much analytical or explanatory value. But if taken seriously, the notion of “crisis” delineates a highly unstable situation in which established strategies, tactics and patterns of behavior don’t work any more, a constellation in which accepted modes of making sense of the world around us prove inadequate and unable to generate viable solutions.
After the overturning of Roe, the overwhelming message from all corners of the right has been: We are not done yet – or, as First Things, the pre-eminent intellectual platform of the religious right, put it: Dobbs was just “the end of the beginning” and a “resounding first step”. Nothing more. There’s no appeasing those who are behind the reactionary crusade, no bargain or truce to be had. The refusal to compromise with the vision of multiracial pluralism, with anyone who deviates from their idea of the natural and/or divinely ordained order, is at the heart of their political project. They are not looking for a consolation prize, partial victories, or an exit ramp. They will keep going – until and unless they are stopped.

…it’s…with apologies for kinda-sorta referencing a comic book villain organization…sort of hydra-esque

Twitter accounts that have promoted QAnon and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories are switching focus and increasingly spreading disinformation about the global food crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a new study.

The research by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), found that conspiracy theorist social media accounts started pushing the idea that western countries are responsible for the interruption of wheat, barley and maize exports from Ukraine.

…otherwise known as consistently sticking to a schedule of russian talking points

The NCRI, which tracks misinformation and manipulation on social media, found that conspiracy communities and influencers linked to QAnon, the extremist conspiracy movement whose followers believe Donald Trump is waging war against the “deep state”, are shifting from conspiracy theories around Covid-19 to food crisis disinformation.

According to NCRI, the accounts frequently link rising food insecurity to a “cabal of shadowy, and often Jewish elites, for bringing about the ‘New World Order’”, rather than to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The NCRI, in conjunction with Rutgers Miller Center for community protection and resilience, conducted an open-source analysis of known Russian disinformation websites and spokespeople, and analyzed the use of terms around food security, mandates, and Russian-amplified conspiracies on Twitter and Telegram.

…I mean…it’s not subtle who’s fucked this shit up

Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s largest grain exporters, and Zelenskiy has previously warned that millions of people could starve because of a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. The food shortages are expected to affect Africa in particular.

Reuters, citing UN data, reported that Eritrea, Armenia, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Somalia, Belarus, Turkey, Madagascar, Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan depended on Russia or Ukraine for more than 70% of their wheat imports in 2021.

…I don’t generally spend a lot of time doing the chapter & verse thing…but

The first ship carrying grain from Ukraine left a port in the southern city of Odesa on Monday, after months of a Russian blockade helped fuel a mounting global food crisis.

The breakthrough follows a United Nations-backed deal between Kyiv and Moscow last month and amid intense fighting in the east and the south of Ukraine. The departure of the first shipment will raise hopes that the impact of the war — now more than five months old — might be eased for millions facing hunger and poverty across the world, though doubts persist over Russia’s commitment to any deal.

…there does seem to be a somewhat biblical pattern to a lot of this stuff

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye;
and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye
Matthew 7:5

…but when it comes to casting a critical eye…as a rule most of us don’t do so great with the mirror…some worse than others…but lately even the best of us aren’t doing great with that part

I remember a time when it was considered normal and healthy to criticize the political team to which one belonged. We didn’t take the words of any leader, regardless of party, as gospel. And even if people in the other party had different values and cultures, it didn’t mean you had grounds for a violent showdown. Now, the purity tests are everywhere and something akin to a loyalty code makes it taboo to question your own side or call attention to its weaknesses and contradictions.

We are no longer a country of give-and-take. We are a country torn apart by something closer to religious strife, where both sides demand devotion to doctrine and rough punishments await those who step out of line.

When I was growing up, my hometown had more churches than you could count. You could go to any one of them you liked. As often or as little as you wanted.

But now, only two churches remain. You probably go to one or the other. But you must attend all day, every day. There’s no escape from services anymore; church is always in session. And if you don’t like the teachings, you can either go along without question or your church might decide you’re no longer fit for membership.

…for the record I tend to think of church more along the lines of that bit from “good omens” about ““when it came to avoiding going to church, the church he stolidly avoided going to was St. Cecil and All Angels, no-nonsense C. of E., and he wouldn’t have dreamed of avoiding going to any other.” being a working definition of a lot of people’s relationship with religion…but in the sense that electorally there are pretty much two broad(ish) churches that’s an uncomfortably accurate metaphor from where I’m sitting

When it comes to predicting midterm elections, it’s difficult to distinguish between insightful nonconformity and wishful thinking.

The conventional wisdom, well-rooted in history and data, suggests the Democrats should be toast this fall. But beware, say the dissenters, because 2022 is not a normal year, and it will not play out in a normal way.
The public view of the economy is gloomy — and voters expect even worse. In a comprehensive study this month, Pew Research Center found that just 13 percent of Americans rated the economy as excellent or good — and since you’re probably wondering, only 1 percent actually picked “excellent.” Opinion is also moving quickly in a negative direction. As recently as January, 28 percent rated the economy positively.
If the polling seems lethal for Democrats, so does history. In midterms, voters often toss out vulnerable members of the incumbent party who swept in on earlier tides. Turnout for the party in power also typically drops off. Opposition voters tend to be more eager to cast ballots by way of sending a message of protest.

Dissenters from the Midnight for Democrats view don’t disagree with most of this, but their case is rooted in a different and plausible claim: After the wild presidency of Donald Trump and the radicalization of the Republican Party, there’s reason to believe 2022 does not fit neatly into the old paradigms.

Trump has not gone away. The Jan. 6 committee has brought his transgressions back to the center of discussion. One of his most important legacies is a very right-wing Supreme Court that has begun a radical demolition of long-standing conceptions of the law on abortion, guns, environmental regulation and voting rights — with more to come.

Tuesday’s primaries in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington are a reminder of another factor working in the Democrats’ favor, particularly in key Senate races: GOP voters have picked a lot of very right-wing and thus highly vulnerable nominees.

The result: If the public isn’t wild about Democrats, they like Republicans even less. That Pew survey found that 57 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party, but 61 percent had an unfavorable view of Republicans.
The list of problems on which Democrats have the advantage, according to Pew, is much longer.

Voters prefer Democrats over the GOP by 20 points on both climate policy and issues affecting LGBTQ people; by 14 points on abortion and covid policy; by 13 points on health care and policies affecting race; and by four points on gun policy.

There is also this: While 37 percent of Americans have a very unfavorable view of Biden, 46 percent have a very unfavorable view of Trump. The more Trump is at the center of the conversation, the worse it is for Republicans — and there has been a lot of Trump news lately.

…as rallying cries for the salvation of democracy go I don’t think I really expected to be rooting for”you don’t have to like us but the other guy is everybody’s worst nightmare”…but…democracy being what it is…I probably should have…it’s not like there’s any shortage of things to clue a person in

There were so many things I didn’t say in that July 16 text to my boyfriend: I’m huddled behind the bed, so I’m not visible from the door. The lights and TV are off, so there’s no sign of life. I’m too scared to cry, but that’s OK because I need to be silent.

I hate that I know how to do these things because I’ve heard so many children describe their schools’ active shooter drills on TV that it almost feels like I’ve been through them myself. You have to turn off the lights, pull the shades down, be completely silent and barricade behind tables and cabinets.

Politicians spend endless hours debating whether mass shootings result from mental health issues. But the mental health issues caused by a constant onslaught of mass shootings don’t get enough of their attention.
With a ding, the lift doors slid open into a small vestibule.

Waves upon waves of screaming people were running straight at me. I was standing in the only set of open elevator doors.
I wasn’t processing any of what was happening. The noise and movement of the casino floor had been controlled chaos. This was something altogether different.
The air no longer smelled like money; it tasted of fear. And the screaming suddenly shifted focus. All the voices were now directed at me — the person closest to the elevator buttons that would get us out of there.
There was no time to think, and I didn’t ask questions.

With fingers as useless as hot dogs, I scanned the key card required to travel between floors. The telltale swoosh of closing doors wasn’t happening.
“It’s too heavy! The doors won’t close!”

Two young men jumped off the elevator and were absorbed back into the screaming mob. They had sacrificed their own safety to give us ours. The doors closed.
When I finally made it back to my room on the 29th floor, I ran around and turned off everything that shed light or sound. Some part of my brain whispered that with over 2,000 rooms, it would be wildly unlikely for a gunman to target our specific room.

But the active part of my brain wasn’t operating rationally. It was stuck in survival mode.
For a half-hour, I scrolled Twitter obsessively, watching the #ActiveShooter posts spread from shots heard at the New York-New York and the MGM across the street to the nearby Aria to casinos farther down the strip. Tweets detailed thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — of people in a blind panic up and down the strip.

Thirty minutes later, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department issued a statement: “Reports of a shooting near the MGM tonight are unfounded. Initial reports are a glass door shattered causing a loud noise which startled people in the valet area.”
In the United States, we live in a perpetual state of panic to the degree that the sound of glass shattering in one hotel causes mass hysteria the entire length of one of America’s most famous streets.

…although…some of the conclusions people seem keen to draw are…well…let’s just say I can think of a lot of places where kids don’t worry the same way about potential shootings…& what they have in common isn’t more guns in the schools

Mandi, a kindergarten teacher in Ohio, had already done what she could to secure her classroom against a gunman.

She positioned a bookcase by the doorway, in case she needed a barricade. In an orange bucket, she kept district-issued emergency supplies: wasp spray, to aim at an attacker, and a tube sock, to hold a heavy object and hurl at an assailant.

But after 19 children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Texas, she felt a growing desperation. Her school is in an older building, with no automatic locks on classroom doors and no police officer on campus.
She decided she needed something far more powerful: a 9 millimeter pistol.

So she signed up for training that would allow her to carry a gun in school. Like others in this article, she asked to be identified by her first name, because of school district rules that restrict information about employees carrying firearms.

A decade ago, it was extremely rare for everyday school employees to carry guns. Today, after a seemingly endless series of mass shootings, the strategy has become a leading solution promoted by Republicans and gun rights advocates, who say that allowing teachers, principals and superintendents to be armed gives schools a fighting chance in case of attack.
The strategy is fiercely opposed by Democrats, police groups, teachers’ unions and gun control advocates, who say that concealed carry programs in schools — far from solving the problem — will only create more risk. Past polling has shown that the vast majority of teachers do not want to be armed.

The law in Ohio has been especially contentious because it requires no more than 24 hours of training, along with eight hours of recertification annually.
Over the course of three days, Mandi practiced shooting, tying a tourniquet and responding to fast-paced active shooter drills. Her presence on the range, firing her pistol under the blazing sun, cut a contrast to the classroom, where she dances to counting songs with 5-year-olds, dollops out shaving cream for sensory activities and wallpapers her classroom with student artwork.

That she was being trained at all spoke to the country’s painful failure to stop mass shootings, and to the heavy responsibilities piled onto teachers — catching students up from the pandemic, handling mental health crises in children, navigating conflicts over the teaching of race and gender and now, for some, defending their schools.
By the end of the program, Mandi and her classmates had enough training to carry a gun in school under the new Ohio law. They are part of a growing, and somewhat experimental, stealth force in schools.
FASTER officials said they were not aware of any graduates of their program who had responded to a school shooting.
For Mandi, the decision to be armed in the classroom seemed like a better solution than wasp spray or a tube sock.

She has worked through logistical details, like how she will carry her pistol: inside her waistband, in a holster meant to prevent accidental discharge. She did handstands, to check that her gun remained secure. When students come for hugs, she plans to turn her hip to direct them to the other side of her body.

…so…put the gun over where the small hands might be reaching…or put it right in their face to keep their hands away…that sounds like the sort of thing an elementary school teacher signed up to think about…right…because it’s me that’s mad & not the world…right?

When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, it invalidated antiabortion laws in many states. Now that the Supreme Court has struck it down, these states face questions about whether and how the old laws will take effect again.

Some states avoided this confusion by taking preemptive action. In the half-century that the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to abortion, a number of states passed trigger laws automatically restricting abortion if Roe were ever overturned; now those laws are going into effect. Other states passed laws codifying abortion rights in the event Roe was reversed.

But a few states did nothing at all, and now confusion reigns about whether the old laws are kicking in again.
In West Virginia, a law from 1849 — before West Virginia was even a state — which makes providing an abortion a felony, is enforceable, according to the Republican state attorney general.

…state’s rights predate the state part now? …I swear I can’t keep this shit straight…is it possible they’re crooked as all hell?

For many women, it’s jarring to contemplate resurrecting laws from a bygone era when women’s rights were drastically curtailed.
In 1850, there were about 10,000 enslaved Black women in the counties that became West Virginia. These women had no control over their financial, professional, political or sexual lives. They could not legally marry, and there was no legal protection against sexual assault. Many enslaved women, particularly in Virginia, were subjected to rape and forced breeding. They had no right to travel, so they could not have crossed state lines for an abortion. Some enslaved people brought recipes for abortion-inducing drinks with them from Africa, but access to these would have been inconsistent at best.

Even the most privileged women in what would become West Virginia had few rights. Rebecca Harding Davis was a White woman born into an upper-middle-class family and educated by tutors and private schools. She embarked on a career as a journalist and novelist. Her breakout work, “Life in the Iron Mills,” detailed the plight of immigrants in the mills and mines around her. But she forfeited some of her rights when she married, since Virginia denied married women any property rights, with one legislator arguing that a woman having such a right would destroy the entire institution of marriage.
Nationally, many rights for women were still years or even decades away, according to the National Women’s History Alliance, including receiving a minimum wage equal to men’s (1938), serving on juries without restriction (1975), using birth control (1965), keeping a job after becoming pregnant (1975), enlisting as full members of the military (1948), serving in combat (2013), attending an Ivy League school (1983), owning a credit card (1974) and pressing charges for sexual assault against a spouse (1993).

…it makes me wonder just how in the hell that side of the aisle can still muster vote one from the fairer sex…but…well…that’s the problem when everything you think you know comes from the one source

The government and publishing titan Penguin Random House exchanged opening salvos in a federal antitrust trial Monday as the US seeks to block the biggest US book publisher from absorbing rival Simon & Schuster. The case will be a pivotal test of the Biden administration’s antitrust policy.

…notably penguin didn’t used to also be random house…so…there might be a thing about stable doors & horses that springs to mind…but such is the way of things

The government contends that it would hurt authors and, ultimately, readers if German media titan Bertelsmann, of which Penguin Random House is a division, is allowed to buy Simon & Schuster from US media and entertainment company Paramount Global. It says the deal would thwart competition and give Penguin Random House gigantic influence over which books are published in the US, reducing how much authors are paid and giving consumers fewer books to choose from.
The justice department contends that as things now stand, No 1 Penguin Random House and No 4 Simon & Schuster, by total sales, compete fiercely to acquire the rights to publish the anticipated hottest-selling books. If they are allowed to merge, the combined company would control nearly 50% of the market for those books, it says, hurting competition by reducing advances paid to authors and diminishing output, creativity and diversity.

The Big Five – the other three are Hachette, HarperCollins and Macmillan – dominate US publishing. They make up 90% of the market for anticipated top-selling books, the government says.

…they say talk is cheap…but…I feel like maybe we haven’t been clear about how costly it can be not to listen?

They call such a catastrophe the “climate endgame”. Though it had a small chance of occurring, given the uncertainties in future emissions and the climate system, cataclysmic scenarios could not be ruled out, they said.

“Facing a future of accelerating climate change while blind to worst-case scenarios is naive risk management at best and fatally foolish at worst,” the scientists said, adding that there were “ample reasons” to suspect global heating could result in an apocalyptic disaster.

The international team of experts argue the world needs to start preparing for the possibility of the climate endgame. “Analysing the mechanisms for these extreme consequences could help galvanise action, improve resilience, and inform policy,” they said.

Explorations in the 1980s of the nuclear winter that would follow a nuclear war spurred public concern and disarmament efforts, the researchers said. The analysis proposes a research agenda, including what they call the “four horsemen” of the climate endgame: famine, extreme weather, war and disease.
“There are plenty of reasons to believe climate change could become catastrophic, even at modest levels of warming,” said Dr Luke Kemp at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, who led the analysis. “Climate change has played a role in every mass extinction event. It has helped fell empires and shaped history.

“Paths to disaster are not limited to the direct impacts of high temperatures, such as extreme weather events. Knock-on effects such as financial crises, conflict and new disease outbreaks could trigger other calamities.”

The analysis is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and was reviewed by a dozen scientists. It argues that the consequences of global heating beyond 3C have been underexamined, with few quantitative estimates of the total impacts. “We know least about the scenarios that matter most,” Kemp said.
Particularly concerning are tipping points, where a small rise in global temperature results in a big change in the climate, such as huge carbon emissions from an Amazon rainforest suffering major droughts and fires. Tipping points could trigger others in a cascade and some remained little studied, they said, such as the abrupt loss of stratocumulus cloud decks that could cause an additional 8C of global warming.
“There is a striking overlap between currently vulnerable states and future areas of extreme warming,” the scientists said. “If current political fragility does not improve significantly in the coming decades, then a belt of instability with potentially serious ramifications could occur.”

There were further good reasons to be concerned about the potential of a global climate catastrophe, the scientists said: “There are warnings from history. Climate change has played a role in the collapse or transformation of numerous previous societies and in each of the five mass extinction events in Earth’s history.”

…good thing we’re on top of everything…or I might be getting worried

Food inflation has soared across much of the developing world since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has trapped several richer countries in a cycle of rising prices, a report by the World Bank has found.

The Washington-based development organisation said the war in eastern Europe would hit many countries with an increase in food bills worth more than 1% of their annual national income (GDP), while others would fail to contain the impact and be plunged into a full-blown debt crisis.
World Bank figures showed a dramatic reversal of cereal prices on global markets since June and a steep fall in the price of other agricultural products to lows close to those seen last year.
However, the World Bank said the shock increase in food prices over recent months was affecting most economies, including those with relatively high incomes.

“The share of high-income countries with high inflation has also increased sharply, with about 78.6% experiencing high food price inflation.

“The most-affected countries are in Africa, North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and central Asia,” it said.

It also warned that large producers of grain, including France, Spain and Italy, would need to adjust to rising temperatures and uncertain weather patterns driven by the climate crisis to maintain high levels of production.

…so…I’m not the only one running late today…but I’ll try to get some tunes in between here & anything you might care to say?



    • …at the very least, say, one each…& a stable broadband connection…on account of the emphasis on remote learning being increasingly on the remote part

      …you wouldn’t have multiple children trying to get schoolwork done sharing one phone on an overpriced mobile data contract in a first world country…would you?

    • Not around here.

      Why aren’t lottery funds helping schools?


      Whenever the subject of school K-12 funding comes up, some readers will always ask this: “What happened to the Florida lottery funds?”

      The short answer is that while Floridians voted for a lottery as a supplement to K-12 funds, the supplement never happened.

      Like so many other examples of betraying the trust and will of voters, lottery funds have been used for other purposes than K-12 schools or simply substituted for other revenue.

      • That happened where I live too. Construction that is supposed to be from the gas tax, stadiums, general fund — not education.

        We just saw a move rejected that would have cut property taxes. It was a pretty obvious astroturf effort by pseudo-libertarians that had no plans to offset lost revenues, which would have clobbered schools.

        There’s a great argument for rethinking taxes in a revenue neutral way which shift burdens in a progressive way, and property tax changes could be a part of that. If the libertarians had any real interest in tax equity they’d sign on. If economic benefits they predict actually show up and provide increased tax revenue, they could even bargain for tax rate cuts to reflect that.

        But what they really want is just gutting education.

      • Yeah when Missouri did that sort of thing like back in the 90s or whenever, the legislators were like “oh huh wow that is a LOT of revenue for…schools…how do we get our hands on it???”

        And the conclusion was that whatever comes in from lottery funds for *education* means that much less from the general fund is given to *education.* So on paper, they’re giving the lottery funds to education, but it wasn’t actually any additional funds.

  1. The Thomas Zimmer take-down of First Things in The Guardian was interesting. His brief Guardian bio tells us that he is a visiting professor at Georgetown University. Georgetown, a Jesuit university, most certainly does not condone abortion, and:

    As the nation’s oldest Catholic university, Georgetown’s approach towards sexual and reproductive health has often been fraught with tension [that’s an understatement] between balancing freedom of speech and adhering to traditional Catholic principles.

    In the early 90s two students founded a pro-choice club. What happened next was entertaining, at least for gay non-Catholics such as myself who learned about this from friends:

    The then-Dean of Students John DeGioia granted recognition to the club in accordance with the university’s freedom of speech policies and on the condition that GU Choice did not advocate for or provide information about abortion services. “It is my intention with this decision to balance at Georgetown a commitment to the free exchange of ideas with a 200-year commitment to the moral tradition of the Roman Catholic Church,”  DeGioia wrote in an open letter published in 1992.

    Then-President Fr. Leo O’Donovan defended the move in a letter to alums. “Disallowing a student group or any public discussion of the issue of abortion on this campus would not be educative. Instead, it would invite accusations that the university does not have the strength of its moral convictions to defend them against those who disagree,” O’Donovan wrote.

    The initial decision was met with opposition from religious organizations and alumni as well as students and faculty on campus. A group of alumni, including Patrick Buchanan (COL ‘61) and The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty (CAS ’50), formed the Committee of Georgetown Values and sent letters to thousands of alumni asking for their active opposition to GU Choice. The Georgetown Ignatius Society was created to ask alumni to withhold funding from the university and to resign from positions of leadership in protest. The Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal James Hickey, called the move “most regrettable and… inconsistent with the aims of an institution of higher learning that has a Catholic identity.”

    A petition was also brought forth by various students, parents, and alums in October 1991 asking Cardinal Hickey to strip Georgetown of its identification as a Catholic institution. The Catholic Church opposes abortion in all contexts, and the petitioners threatened to directly appeal to the Vatican and Pope John Paul II if Cardinal Hickey refused to remove the Catholic designation.

    A student, Bob Lannen (COL ‘92), published an open letter in the Hoyaaccusing GU Choice of violating its charter by promoting abortion rights events and advocating for pro-choice policies.

    In 1992, 14 months after earning university recognition and funding as a student organization, DeGioia reversed his decision and stripped GU Choice of its status due to its failure to follow the terms of the original agreement.


    Furthermore, students cannot be prescribed birth control for contraceptive purposes from the Student Health Center or pick up prescriptions at Georgetown Medstar’s pharmacy. According to official policy, although not guaranteed, the Student Health Center can provide prescriptions for non-contraceptive purposes such as acne or irregular periods.

    While over 85 percent of U.S. universities offer free condoms through their respective student health centers, Georgetown prohibits the sale or official distribution of condoms, lubricants, and other items related to sexual health on campus.


    Note that that article was written at the end of June, 2020, not the end of June, 1920 or 1820. But that’s fine, Georgetown is a private institution and no one is forced to go there. One of my closest friends went and she’s never been married and, despite never having taken a vow of chastity, somehow has had a string of boyfriends and miraculously never had children. I wonder what her secret might be? I doubt very much that it’s infertility although at this point she’s in her 50s, like we all are, so she most probably is post-menopausal.

    But that still doesn’t explain why Thomas Zimmer accepted a visiting professorship at Georgetown, of all places, and still finds the time to write screeds against First Things in a British left-wing newspaper.

  2. I pity the class clown or other class trouble makers gunned down by Mandi.

    Again, the media doesn’t point out the most difficult combat shooting is actually close quarter combat aka pistol range aka up close and personal.  It takes years of training to master (Delta and SAS) and not everyone despite their own internal bravado can/will.

    A mere 24 hours of training and 8 hours per year of refresher isn’t going to cut it.

    Also the shooter has initiative/surprise on his (rarely her) side. Statistical analysis from WW2  shows that it gives the shooter a 3x advantage over the defender.

    • …the article does make mention of the fact that shooting in those circumstances comes with a distinct dip in accuracy…to the extent that the police with the benefit of more extensive training are about 50% less capable…just as a for instance

      …so…yeah…that doesn’t get the attention it deserves in this “debate”

    • I also go back to the whole thing of an entire phalanx of heavily armed cops with body armor hiding in a hallway while a gunman kills children. I’m not thinking that Mandi is going to charge into a firefight. I could be wrong, though. A bunch of teachers in school shootings have rushed gunmen unarmed, so not gonna doubt their courage.

      That said, I understand her position, and if it was me, I’d probably take the training too. Nobody is doing anything to stop any of this. I might not do better than the cops, but there’s literally no way to do worse.

  3. I’m not sure what the fuss is about Liz Truss. She’s just doing what Silicon Valley is trying to do every time it “invents” something new: Finding better profit margins by fucking over workers harder. For Tories, the added benefit of cutting government back and then being able to point at its failure and saying “See, we need to cut further!”

    Also, I take issue with that tweet saying Biden is a good president — he most assuredly is not — but it’s hilarious to declare him the least popular president ever when he’s literally STILL more popular than the last guy was.

    • …liz truss is pretty much exactly what a lot of the conservative party think they ordered…& perhaps tellingly also pretty much exactly what they did order…which two things have less in common than you might assume

      …the fuss I guess depends on where you’re coming from…some are less than enthused about setting her loose at the top of the heap because of what she might get up to before there’s an election they get a vote in…others are worried that she might not win that sort of election

      …mostly, though…it’s because she’s sort of a caricature so that makes it easy to go that way in the coverage

      …& sure…biden isn’t what I’d call great…but it did seem like a particularly lazy way to try to make a big deal out of that polling so I figured I’d throw it in?

      • No, it’s a good tweet full of correct information … unlike Newsweek (and most right-wing agitprop) which depends A LOT on people having goldfish-style memory.

        And yes, Liz strikes me as being the sort of person who would say what they were actually planning to do, which is a disaster when you’re Team Wildly Unpopular. It’s not an accident that sideshows like Trump and Boris happen on the right!

  4. https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2022/08/river-rhine-water-level-approaching-record-low-water-provision-under-threat/

    hmmm….yeah…that definitely aint right…..running low on water in this country…. how quaint

    and kentucky is apparently a lake now

    on the upside…cording to my local news which hasnt made it to english yet…..seems we have a chunk more gas in our part of the north sea than we previously figured…..most convenient with current gas prices…suspect we’ll go for it

    i…guess i better get used to it being hot and dry over here

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