…so…I don’t know if it’s just the steady approach of christmas that makes it seem like there’s too much to do & not enough time to do it in
Unless Congress acts, the last of the advance child tax credit payments will hit bank accounts on Dec. 15. The end of these monthly payments will financially devastate many American families, pushing them back into poverty.
“Millions of children who spent last Christmas in poverty will not bear that burden this holiday season,” President Biden said in a recent briefing about the effects of the expanded child tax credit.
That wasn’t political hyperbole.
Increasing the payments and extending them to more low-income parents made available an additional $77 billion to feed, clothe and provide for more than 61 million children, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said during a Senate hearing last month.https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/12/10/child-tax-credit-monthly-payments-ending/
An estimated 9.9 million children are at risk of slipping back below the poverty line or deeper into poverty if the child tax credit expansion is not extended, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, a mother of two — one a toddler and the other elementary-school age — who works full time earning the federal minimum wage is now eligible for a $6,600 child tax credit. If the expanded payments end, they would see a credit cut of $4,800.
…but this might be a touch cursory today…because it seems like a lot’s happened…even if not all that much has changed?
The cascade of bad news is so extreme that it has raised questions about whether Mr. Johnson will even hang on to power until the next election. It is an ominous turn for a leader who has long defied political gravity, surviving scandals and setbacks that would have sunk many other politicians.
“It’s not the end for him, but I think it’s the beginning of the end,” said Jonathan Powell, who served as chief of staff to a Labour prime minister, Tony Blair. “The problem is that these crises have a cumulative effect. As soon as he ceases to be an asset and the party is facing an election, they’ll get rid of him.”https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/13/world/europe/boris-johnson-uk-coronavirus.html
Mr. Powell cautioned that this could be a protracted drama; Mr. Johnson, 57, has shown an almost preternatural ability to bounce back from adversity, and despite the recent disgruntlement in his party, he retains an advantage of about 80 seats in Parliament.
…it’s looking like the knives might be out for boris…the fact that it might take some labour votes to get his latest bout of covid measures passed is at the very least an indicator that his party is far from happy with him…although this guy is probably still taking the prize for most counter-productive legislator
Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the most prominent Democratic holdout on President Biden’s $2.2 trillion social safety net, climate and tax bill, cast fresh doubt on Monday on his party’s plans to speed the measure through the Senate before Christmas, saying he still had grave concerns about how it would affect the economy.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/13/us/politics/manchin-social-policy-bill.html
“People have been in a hurry for a long time to do something, but I think, basically, we’re seeing things unfold that allows us to prepare better,” Mr. Manchin told reporters outside his Capitol Hill office on Monday, before the conversation with Mr. Biden. “And that’s what we should do.”
…&…well…he might be right…just not about that bill…because people have been in a hurry to do something about several other things I can think of…and in a few cases we are seeing things unfold that ought to allow us to prepare better…which we probably should
The rare December tornadoes that tore through Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas were shocking in their intensity and their timing, experts said. And they were the kinds of violent storms that raise worrisome questions about what extreme weather events may look like in a warming world.
“The heat and humidity across the South was pretty uncharacteristic for this time of year,” said Victor Gensini, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at Northern Illinois University. “I remember waking up, looking at the weather maps and saying, ‘Geez, this looks a lot more like late April than mid-December.'”
“It was certainly ‘Goldilocks’ conditions that all came together,” he added.
The effects of global warming on extreme weather are a major focus of research, as climate change is expected to worsen events such as heat waves, droughts, hurricanes and wildfires. The impact of global warming on the frequency and intensity of tornadoes is less well known, but experts say climate change is loading the dice for severe storms by creating the right environments and atmospheric conditions for tornado outbreaks.https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/tornado-outbreak-kentucky-rare-weather-conditions-climate-change-rcna8565
…at least if people like manchin & sinema would get out of the damn way
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham on Sunday continued his criticisms of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for adopting a bipartisan deal that allowed Democrats to raise the debt ceiling. Graham, who has become one of former president Donald Trump’s most vocal defenders, argued that someone who did not have a good working relationship with Trump could not be an effective Republican leader.
“What I’m worried about is that for four months the Republican Senate said we would not lift a finger to help the Democrats raise the debt ceiling. We would make them use reconciliation,” Graham (R-S.C.) said to “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “At the end, we did not make them use reconciliation, which changed the rules of the Senate in a House bill. I don’t like that a lot. … What we did is promised one thing and delivered another.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/12/12/lindsey-graham-debt-ceiling-mcconnell-trump/
…but in other places those would be relatively petty concerns
Freezing troops peer through periscopes above deep trenches on the country’s front line at pro-Russian separatists, who are as little as 50 yards away. On Thursday, the trenches were muddy quagmires but are often frozen solid, offering little comfort from the inhospitable cold.
The military men and women in the eastern city of Avdiivka are on high alert as consternation over an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine spreads through Europe and beyond. Leave has been canceled and the troops are bracing themselves to spend the holidays huddled in the cold.
In addition to the long-running battles with separatists, the buildup of some 100,000 Russian troops along the Ukrainian border has alarmed Western leaders as they try to decipher Moscow’s saber-rattling — is the Kremlin readying a devastating assault?
But front-line positions like this one are a reminder that the war was already well underway, and Ukrainian troops say they are now desperate not to give the Russians an excuse for further escalation.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ukraines-troops-high-alert-russian-forces-amass-border
The Ukrainians say they want to avoid prompting Russia and its proxies into an escalated fight. This cautious approach is now no doubt heightened as President Joe Biden has made it clear U.S. troops are not about to unilaterally come and rescue Ukraine.
…now…petty is somewhat of a matter of perspective
Five days after Facebook changed its name to Meta, an Australian artist found herself blocked, with seemingly no recourse, from an account documenting nearly a decade of her life and work.
Early that morning, when she tried to log in to Instagram, she found that the account had been disabled. A message on the screen read: “Your account has been blocked for pretending to be someone else.”
Whom, she wondered, was she now supposedly impersonating after nine years? She tried to verify her identity with Instagram, but weeks passed with no response, she said. She talked to an intellectual property lawyer but could afford only a review of Instagram’s terms of service.
“This account is a decade of my life and work. I didn’t want my contribution to the metaverse to be wiped from the internet,” she said. “That happens to women in tech, to women of color in tech, all the time,” added Ms. Baumann, who has Vietnamese heritage.
“Facebook has essentially unfettered discretion to appropriate people’s Instagram user names,” said Rebecca Giblin, director of the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia at the University of Melbourne. “There can be good reasons for that — for example, if they’re offensive or impersonating someone in a way that causes confusion.”
“But the @metaverse example highlights the breadth of this power,” she said, adding that under Facebook’s policies, users “essentially have no rights.”
On Dec. 2, a month after Ms. Baumann first appealed to Instagram to restore her account, The New York Times contacted Meta to ask why it had been shut down. An Instagram spokesman said that the account had been “incorrectly removed for impersonation” and would be restored. “We’re sorry this error occurred,” he wrote.
Two days later, the account was back online.
The spokesman did not explain why it had been flagged for impersonation, or who it might have been impersonating. The company did not respond to further questions about whether the blocking had been linked to Facebook’s rebranding.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/13/technology/instagram-handle-metaverse.html
…but when it comes to the concerns of troops…that kind of seems like it ought to put one or two things into perspective
The Air Force has discharged 27 active-duty members who refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as required, a spokesperson said Monday.
The 27 airmen were discharged for failure to obey a lawful order, and none had exemptions, Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said.
They are the first active-duty Air Force members to be discharged over the Covid-19 vaccine issue, Stefanek said. All were in their first enlistments, meaning they had served less than six years, she said.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/military/air-force-discharges-27-covid-vaccine-requirement
…& some consequences might be welcome…but that doesn’t mean they don’t come across as too little, too late
Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, appears to be on the verge of pleading guilty to violating George Floyd’s civil rights, according to a notice sent out Monday by the court’s electronic filing system.
The federal docket entry shows a hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday for Chauvin to change his current not guilty plea in the case. These types of notices indicate a defendant is planning to plead guilty.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/13/derek-chauvin-change-plea-guilty-george-floyd-civil-rights-case
It was not immediately clear if Chauvin plans to plead guilty to all or just some of the federal charges against him in connection with Floyd’s death.
…& it might be something of a stunt…& ironically I can see some ways it might backfire…but I kind of have to admire the attempt to see how far applying the GOP-approved logic about a supposedly pro-life stance to certain lethal instruments
California governor Gavin Newsom has pledged to empower private citizens to enforce a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons in the state, citing the same authority claimed by conservative lawmakers in Texas to outlaw most abortions there after only around six weeks of pregnancy.
“We will work to create the ability for private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in California,” the governor’s office said in a statement on Sunday.
For three decades, California has banned the manufacture and sale of various assault-style weapons. However, in June, a federal judge overturned that ban, much to the ire of Democrats and gun-control activists, saying: “Like the Swiss army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination for home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle.”https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/13/california-citizens-enforce-ban-manufacture-sale-assault-weapons
…& then of course there’s this stuff
The committee voted 9 to 0 on Monday evening to recommend that Mr. Meadows be charged with criminal contempt of Congress for defying its subpoena. Before the vote, Representative Liz Cheney, one of the leaders of the panel, added to the evidence implicating Mr. Meadows in events of Jan. 6. She read aloud text messages sent to him by the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. and by the Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade urging that Mr. Trump speak out amid the mob violence.
“He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP,” the younger Mr. Trump texted Mr. Meadows, according to Ms. Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the panel’s vice chairwoman.
Ms. Cheney also quoted panicked text messages from unnamed people who were in the building, including one who told Mr. Meadows, “We are under siege up here at the Capitol.”
“These text messages leave no doubt,” Ms. Cheney said. “The White House knew exactly what was happening here at the Capitol.”
Mr. Meadows’s refusal to sit for an interview with the committee comes as he is promoting his new book, “The Chief’s Chief,” on television. The book contains details of White House conversations and interactions with the president.
“Mr. Meadows has shown his willingness to talk about issues related to the select committee’s investigation across a variety of media platforms — anywhere, it seems, except to the select committee,” the panel wrote in a report released on Sunday night.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/13/us/politics/mark-meadows-contempt.html
Mr. Meadows could now find himself facing a criminal charge similar to another of Mr. Trump’s associates, Stephen K. Bannon, who was indicted by a federal grand jury after the House voted to recommend that he be found in contempt for refusing to cooperate with the committee. His trial is scheduled for next summer.
Three prominent Fox News anchors sent concerned text messages on Jan. 6 to Mark Meadows, the last chief of staff for President Donald J. Trump, urging him to persuade the president to take the riot seriously and to make an effort to stop it.
The texts, part of a trove of 9,000 documents that Mr. Meadows had turned over before he stopped cooperating with the inquiry, were sent to the former White House chief of staff by Laura Ingraham, the host of the nighttime show “The Ingraham Angle”; Sean Hannity, a longtime prime-time host who once appeared onstage with Mr. Trump at a campaign rally; and Brian Kilmeade, a host of the morning show “Fox & Friends.”
Ms. Ingraham’s text came in contrast with what she said on her Fox News program in the hours after the attack, when she promoted the false theory that members of antifa were involved.
In the 11 months since the attack, the Fox News hosts who appear in the morning and in the prime-time hours have often played down the events of Jan. 6, with some likening it to the violence during the widespread protests against racism and police violence in the summer of 2020.
Last month, Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host with the largest audience, produced a three-part documentary, “Patriot Purge,” for the Fox Nation streaming platform that contained the false claim that the Jan. 6 attack was a “false flag” operation meant to demonize the political right.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/13/business/media/fox-news-trump-jan-6-meadows.html
Two longtime Fox News contributors, the conservative commentators Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes, quit last month in protest of the Carlson special, calling it “totally outrageous” and saying that it “will lead to violence.”
…& all the slow moving river of bullshit that flows along with it
A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump urged a federal appeals court to quash a congressional subpoena seeking years of financial records from his accounting firm, arguing on Monday that the demand is too broad and could open the door for lawmakers to routinely harass and intimidate future presidents.
“The Constitution does draw a clear line between a president and an ex-president,” [Douglas] Letter [a lawyer for the House of Representatives] said. “An ex-president is somebody who rejoins the great unwashed.”
Questions asked by the judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, Judith W. Rogers and Sri Srinivasan — gave little indication that they were likely to quash the subpoena. But the judges spent extensive time exploring whether there was a basis to narrow the scope of the subpoena, such as by reducing some of the years of files Congress has sought, and if so where to draw the line.
The committee has said it is exploring whether and how to overhaul laws about financial disclosures by presidents; rules against presidents taking “emoluments,” or payments, especially from foreign governments; and standards for when presidents lease property from the federal government — like Mr. Trump’s leasing of the Old Post Office building in Washington, the site of the Trump International Hotel.
Mr. Trump has fought both efforts, including by filing a lawsuit against Mazars USA to block it from complying with the subpoena. While the Supreme Court eventually permitted the Manhattan district attorney’s office to obtain similar records, the litigation has thus far prevented Congress from seeing them.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/13/us/politics/trump-subpoena-financial-records.html
Hanging over the case is the issue of delay. Both in office and out, Mr. Trump has pursued a strategy of using the generally slow pace of litigation to run out the clock on congressional oversight efforts. The briefings and arguments scheduled for this round before the appeals court have already consumed four months since the appeal was docketed in mid-August.
…& speaking of bullshit…elsewhere I saw someone claiming that this might be the worst pick time had ever come up with
After another year of pandemic mitigation measures, vaccine rollouts and health care inequities, Time magazine announced its Person of the Year for 2021. Last year’s selection of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was, arguably, a snub of the health care workers who have spent the last two years protecting the U.S. — and the world — from Covid-19. But instead of remedying that oversight this year, Time decided to make it much, much worse by selecting the richest man in the world for its 2021 honor: Elon Musk.https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/elon-musk-time-s-2021-person-year-he-doesn-t-deserve-it
…which is pretty damning…given that in ’38 they picked hitler…but I’m not going to argue with the part about how he doesn’t deserve it…not least on the grounds of being the face of “the biggest thing to happen”…surely there’s people who developed vaccines or sequenced the viral genomes that allowed for that to happen…or…it’s a long fucking list & we don’t have time for that…but I’m sure you get the point…& that’s just the stuff that’s not so much easy to see as hard not to…as to what lies beneath
More than a quarter of Earth’s species live in soils underground, including the fungal networks that help store huge quantities of carbon, provide most plants with the majority of the nutrients they need to survive and allow the plants to receive important signals from others.
Now, a team of scientists is launching a first-of-its-kind effort to map the world’s mycorrhizal fungi, a process they hope can identify fungal biodiversity for conservation, grow understanding of how these species interact within ecosystems and keep more carbon in soil.
Most of these fungi are underground and too small to see without a microscope — but they are plentiful. A handful of soil contains networks of tubular fungi that would span 60 miles if they were stretched out, [Toby] Kiers [an evolutionary biologist and professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who co-founded SPUN, the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks] said.
Kiers described tangles of mycorrhizal fungi as a “continuous pipe system” that branches, fuses and flows with nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus.
The networks — which typically share a mutually beneficial relationship with the plants to which they connect — are fundamental to how forests and other ecosystems work.
The way scientists talk about the creatures can sound like fables.
Without mycorrhizal fungi, plants might never have reached land. Hundreds of millions of years ago, all flora were aquatic until a partnership with mycorrhizal fungi allowed them to settle on land, Kiers said.
Plants can receive chemical signals through the networks, which helps them share resources, learn from neighbors about pests and get warnings about competitors, recent studies suggest. The pioneering work by Canadian scientist Suzanne Simard and others has upended the idea that trees are solitary competitors duking it out for space, water and sunlight in the forest.
As the world warms, understanding how mycorrhizal fungi and other microorganisms interact with soil could be crucial to slow down warming and adapt to a new climate.
Fungi promote plant growth, which sequesters carbon in trees and other plant species. They also help bury and store carbon in the soil.
About 75 percent of terrestrial carbon is in soil, and the scientists want to keep it there by preserving these biodiversity hot spots.https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/amazon-forests-underground-scientists-want-map-worlds-fungi
…I mean…maybe the mushrooms will save us is not the way I saw this going…or a phrase I ever thought I’d find myself typing…but here we are…& here at some point will be a tune or two…but due to a random technical hitch that made about half of this a do-over this morning…that part might be late?