scharrison's blog

Foreign interference in 2020 Election is already rampant

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Be extremely careful of the information you share on social media:

The intelligence warning on Friday did not accuse the Chinese of trying to hack the vote; instead it said they were using their influence “to shape the policy environment in the United States” and to pressure politicians “it views as opposed to China’s interests.”

Russia, the warning said, was continuing to “spread disinformation in the U.S. that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process,” and it described Iran as an emerging actor in election interference, seeking to spread disinformation and “recirculating anti-U.S. content.”

Guarding against being involuntarily manipulated by these operations is even harder than it was four years ago. Their process has evolved, their skills have been sharpened, and their work will circulate into your orbit at one time or another. And our own strong desire to expose and fix corrupted elements of our society will be used against us, if they can. But we need more information about these developments, some specific examples of such, and the intelligence community's innate desire to keep these things secret is causing a rift between them and Congress:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lays down the gauntlet

Those days of silent submission are long over:

“In front of reporters, Representative Yoho called me, and I quote: ‘A fucking bitch,’” she said, punching each syllable in the vulgarity. “These are the words Representative Yoho levied against a congresswoman.”

Then Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who excels at using her detractors to amplify her own political brand, invited a group of Democratic women in the House to come forward to express solidarity with her. One by one, they shared their own stories of harassment and mistreatment by men, including in Congress.

Republican men are bad enough when they are on the mic, on the Congressional record. They will use thinly-veiled innuendo to viciously attack the character of whoever is testifying, and lash out at their female colleagues every chance they get. But one on one they're even worse, especially when there are no other witnesses around. Democratic men are not completely immune to such misogynistic behavior, but we police our own pretty thoroughly. AOC has the potential of being not just a firebrand, but a good leader herself, by giving others the opportunity to tell their stories:

UNC needs volunteers for Coronavirus vaccine trials

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It's a strangely attractive offer, but that could just be a brutal case of cabin fever:

The vaccine trial at UNC will be a Phase 3 clinical trial of a vaccine against COVID-19 developed by Moderna, a private research company.

Moderna’s vaccine is based on taking genetic material, known as mRNA, from the coronavirus. When a person gets the vaccine, their cells will make viral proteins from this mRNA, just as they would if they were infected by the coronavirus. Their immune system should learn to detect these proteins to fight off future exposure to COVID-19.

While I'm trying to decide if I want to be one of UNC's little Outbreak monkeys, here's some stuff on genetics that flies over this primate's head:

Trump's EPA has been corrupt since day one

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Completely subservient to the industries it's supposed to regulate:

Not long after President Trump’s inauguration, the head of a fossil fuels industry group requested a call with the president’s transition team. The subject: Barack Obama’s requirement that oil and gas companies begin collecting data on their releases of methane. That outreach, by Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, appeared to quickly yield the desired results.

“Looks like this will be easier than we thought,” David Kreutzer, an economist who was helping to organize the new president’s Environmental Protection Agency, wrote of canceling the methane reporting requirement in an email to another member of the transition team on Feb. 10, 2017. Three weeks after that email, the E.P.A. officially withdrew the reporting requirement — and effectively blocked the compilation of data that would allow for new regulations to control methane, a powerful climate-warming gas.

This isn't just willful ignorance (burying your head in the sand), it's a concerted effort to conceal information that's vital to the public and its institutions. Among many other things, it allows fossil fuel cheerleaders like John Hood to write glowing Op-Eds about natural gas to a public that is kept ignorant on purpose. Just as methyl mercury once was for coal, fugitive methane is the dirty secret of the natural gas industry, and Trump's kakistocracy has been working overtime to maintain that secret:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Two-faced Tillis strikes again...

'It wasn't an insult, I was just showing how much I care!" Idiot.

Voting during a pandemic: Hearings begin today on lawsuit to ease restrictions

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The differences between a genuine threat (Coronavirus) and a perceived threat (voter fraud):

U.S. District Judge William Osteen scheduled three days of hearings starting Monday involving a lawsuit by two voting advocacy groups and several citizens who fear current rules threaten their health if they want to vote. There's already been a spike in mail-in absentee ballot applications, presumably by voters who prefer not to venture out to in-person voting centers and precincts.

The plaintiffs want Osteen to block several voting restrictions like how mail-in ballots are requested, who can help voters with forms and the hours early in-person voting centers operate. They also want drop boxes for completed absentee ballots and later registration deadlines.

I find it almost absurd that groups have to file their lawsuits against the NC Board of Elections, and not the Republican lawmakers who put these roadblocks in place. The NC BoE has tried to get many of these changes done by asking those Republicans, and have been mostly rebuffed. Granted, if the court rules to do x or y, Republicans will have to comply anyway. But it just seems wrong. But I won't be surprised of those Republicans file their own lawsuit against the Board of Elections over this necessary policy order:

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Trump's vaccine czar won't disclose investments

Billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of lives are at stake:

The scientist leading the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine program will be allowed to remain a government contractor, a decision that permits him to avoid ethics disclosures required of federal employees and maintain his investments in pharmaceutical companies.

Two prominent watchdog groups as well as some Democrats in Congress had called for the Department of Health and Human Services to require that the scientist, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a venture capitalist and a former executive at the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, fall under the same ethics rules as federal employees.

And why are only Democrats in Congress worried about this? Rhetorical question, we all know why. The GOP has hitched its horse to a corrupt President, and it will go wherever he tells it to. This situation is ripe for conflicts of interest, but aside from the corrupt aspects, the end goal of securing and producing a vaccine is put in jeopardy by those conflicts:

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