Patterico's Pontifications

7/9/2021

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:37 pm



[guest post by Dana]

You know it’s a muggy, muggy day when you live in a dry, arid region yet the humidity is so thick and high that the mosquitoes were droning by mid-morning. Which reminds me:

That buzzing you hear is likely from a female mosquito. That’s because male and female mosquitoes lead very different lives. The males typically hang out and sip on the nectar of flowers; they couldn’t care less about the humans lumbering about. The females, however, need to find a blood meal after mating in order to have enough energy to produce eggs. In fact, female mosquitoes are equipped with unique tools to home in on their next victim.

“From a distance, [female mosquitoes] cue in on carbon dioxide that we exhale in conical plumes from our bodies,” Riehle told Live Science. “The carbon dioxide stimulates the female mosquito to start host-seeking, flying back and forth to follow that concentration gradient back to the source.”

In other words, mosquitoes buzz around our heads because that’s where we expel the most carbon dioxide.

Or, in other words, with no time for a post-mating smoke or a rest period, females must madly drone around in search of a blood meal to make eggs while the spent males kick back in the flower garden drowning themselves on nectar. But hey, male mosquitos only live for two weeks, while females live for more than four weeks, so it all works out in the end.

Anyway, feel free to post anything you think might interest readers. Please make sure to include a link.

First news item

MAGA mind games in Dallas:

Among the booths on the CPAC Central floor is one for USATrumpStore.com. Another is called Latinos for America First. There’s a booth called the MAGA Mall. And another for something – or perhaps someone – called the Deplorabear.

“The conservative movement is firmly behind President Trump, and he is leading,” [Matt] Schlapp told Fox News. “And where people lead, and where people fight socialism, you will find millions of Americans cheering them on.”

When asked whether the GOP’s continued embrace of one man is the right direction for the party, Schlapp said that it is.

“Who got the vice president to go to the border? Donald Trump did by continuing to lead on the need to finish the wall and secure the border,” Schlapp said. “Who is the person now taking the lead in the fight against big tech? Donald Trump… If other people want to lead the party, start leading, start fighting, stop criticizing Trump.”

Schlapp added: “We’re about to have the country slip into European socialism and some Republicans just want to fight about 1/6, or Donald Trump, or Twitter, and I have no time for any of that.”

More from CPAC:

Second news item

DOJ declinations:

The U.S. Justice Department chose not to take up 82 percent of hate crime cases between 2005 and 2019, a new report reveals. Of the 1,548 cases that it did not prosecute, 55 percent were rejected due to insufficient evidence… A total of 1,878 suspects were investigated by the department, but only 17 percent of them were actually prosecuted, with another 1 percent dismissed by the courts. Of those brought to trial, 83 percent were convicted between 2005 and 2009, and 94 percent were convicted between 2015 and 2019. The average prison term for those convicted was 7.5 years…The findings come almost two months after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a six-step plan to combat hate crimes in the U.S., urging the DOJ to increase resources and coordination to state, local, and tribal levels.

Third news item

Okaaaay:

A convicted felon who was caught on security video trying to break into a Van Nuys home last week proceeded to trespass into another nearby home the same night.

Robert Hemingway, who was out of town, watched security cameras from his cellphone as a man tried to get into his house last Wednesday, while his wife was home alone.

“As soon as I saw him prying with the knife, I told her she needed to call 911,” Hemingway said to KTLA…The Los Angeles Police Department responded, but Hemingway says officers told his wife that even with video evidence, they didn’t have enough to arrest the intruder.

Hours later, less than a mile away, Roth allegedly broke into a Vose Street apartment. He then took off his clothes and entered a bedroom where twin 12-year-old girls were sleeping…

Fourth news item

The U.S. acts on behalf of the Uyghurs:

The Biden administration added 14 Chinese companies to a trade blacklist on Friday over their alleged role in that country’s abuses of its Uighur civilians and other Muslim ethnic minorities.

The Commerce Department said in a statement that the electronics and technology firms and other businesses helped enable “Beijing’s campaign of repression, mass detention and high-technology surveillance” against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province.

The penalties, which prohibit Americans from selling equipment or other goods to the firms, are the latest from the United States as it steps up financial and trade penalties over China’s treatment of the Uyghur people.

The Commerce Department also added to the blacklist on Friday companies that it said appeared to be assisting military programs or prohibited nuclear development in Russia, or violating trade sanctions on Iran.

Fifth news item

Just checking in on the mental state of the former president:

Speaking at a press conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, in which he announced class action lawsuits against Google, Facebook and Twitter for “censoring” conservatives, Trump was asked by a reporter what he did to “stop” the rioters on January 6…Trump claimed he wasn’t to blame for the January 6 mob and called it an “unfortunate event,” before suggesting the violence carried out by “antifa” in cities across the country last year was worse.

He then launched into an impassioned call for the officer who shot Babbitt to be investigated, claiming there was “no reason” for her to have been shot, and wrongly claiming she was shot in the “head” (Babbitt was shot in the left shoulder, the DOJ says).

If the situation were reversed, Trump claimed, without specifying what he meant, the officer who shot Babbitt would be the most “well-known” man in the “world.”

“There were no guns in the Capitol, except for the gun that shot Ashli Babbitt,” Trump claimed, but the Department of Justice has charged at least one rioter with carrying a gun onto the Capitol grounds and law enforcement officials have reported pulling firearms off many people in the Capitol building that day.

Sixth news item

President Biden confident in the Afghan military’s ability to pushback the Taliban:

Do I trust the Taliban? No. But I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and more re- — more competent in terms of conducting war.

Top US military official overseeing the withdrawal of troops not so sure:

Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller, the top US military official overseeing the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, said that there should be concern about the Taliban advances on the ground there.

“We should be concerned. The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has — has to be concerning, one, because it’s a — war is physical, but it’s also got a psychological or moral component to it. And hope actually matters. And morale actually matters,” Miller said in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “And so, as you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don’t want to have happen is that the people lose hope and they believe they now have a foregone conclusion presented to them.”

Miller expressed his concern about the security situation in Afghanistan and raised the potential of a civil war once US troops are gone, as the Taliban are already moving rapidly to take over districts in the northern parts of the country.

“You look at the security situation, it’s not good. The Afghans recognize it’s not good. The Taliban are on the move. We’re starting to create conditions here that won’t look good for Afghanistan in the future if there’s a push for a military takeover,” he said.

Seventh news item

Read the whole thing:

Andrea Macklin never turns off his TV. It’s the only way to drown out the noise from the wood mill bordering his backyard, the jackhammer sound of the plant piercing his walls and windows. The 18-wheelers carrying logs rumble by less than 100 feet from his house, all day and night, shaking it as if an earthquake has taken over this tranquil corner of North Carolina. He’s been wearing masks since long before the coronavirus pandemic, just to keep the dust out of his lungs.

Some nights, he only sleeps for two or three hours. Breathing is a chore.

“I haven’t had proper rest since they’ve been here,” he said.

That was eight years ago, when the world’s largest biomass producer, Enviva, opened its second North Carolina facility just west of Macklin’s property in Garysburg. The operation takes mostly hardwood trees and spits out biomass, or wood pellets, a highly processed and compressed wood product burned to generate energy. Enviva is one of nearly a dozen similar companies benefiting from a sustainability commitment made 4,000 miles away, more than a decade ago.

In 2009, the European Union (EU) pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions, urging its member states to shift from fossil fuels to renewables. In its Renewable Energy Directive (RED), the EU classified biomass as a renewable energy source — on par with wind and solar power. As a result, the directive prompted state governments to incentivize energy providers to burn biomass instead of coal — and drove up demand for wood.

So much so that the American South emerged as Europe’s primary source of biomass imports.

Eighth news item

NYT editor fired for pro-Biden tweet talks about biased/non-biased reporting:

“I’m not saying there is no implicit bias at the Times or at other newspapers, but most journalists at the top of their field are damn good at keeping it out of their news reporting. Of course, some will always seep in, but that’s not necessarily going to make the coverage misleading or inaccurate. Again, journalists are still humans,” she wrote. “Yes, I am biased. But when my work calls for me not to be, I work very hard to create unbiased journalism—that’s what a professional does.”

Ninth news item

Ah, White House to talk cannabis after all:

The White House is pushing for a meeting with the World Anti-Doping Agency to discuss loosening restrictions on the use of cannabis by athletes, after star sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was left off the US Olympic team because she tested positive for marijuana.

The White House is seeking the meeting through the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, which has a seat on the foundation board of Wada, the international body responsible for governance of anti-doping in global sport, including the Olympic Games.

The board is next scheduled to meet on November 25, but the ONDCP told the Financial Times that, “if possible, the US will secure an earlier discussion of [cannabis policy] within Wada”.

MISCELLANEOUS

Cngratulations, Zaila Avant-Garde! She is the first African American Scripps Spelling Bee champion:

Have a good weekend.

–Dana

HHS To Americans: Hey, If We Come Knocking, Just Don’t Answer The Door

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:13 am



[guest post by Dana]

Yesterday, President Biden spoke about the need to reach more Americans for the Covid vaccine:

In a speech at the White House on Tuesday, Biden gave an update on the state of the U.S. vaccination program and ongoing efforts to reach parts of the country where skepticism of the vaccine still runs high.

“Now, we need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus,” Biden said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also detailed the components of the administration’s vaccine campaign at her briefing on Tuesday, including “targeted, community-by-community, door-to-door outreach to get remaining Americans vaccinated.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra echoed the President’s claim, and then went a step further:

“Perhaps we should point out that the federal government has spent trillions of dollars to try to keep Americans alive during this pandemic,” he told CNN in an interview.

“So it is absolutely the government’s business,” Becerra said. “It is taxpayers’ business, if we have to continue to spend money to try to keep people from contracting Covid and helping reopen the economy.”

The secretary also noted that “knocking on a door has never been against the law” and that Americans “don’t have to answer. But we hope you do.”

If the federal government wants to rile up Americans, just tell them that something is “their business”. Espcially someone like Xavier Becerra, as Californians here know. As you can imagine, the administration’s knock, knock comments raised the ire of Republicans:

And this:

Some Texas Republicans are pushing back against President Joe Biden’s push for greater outreach to get more Americans to receive COVID-19 shots, as vaccination drives in states like Texas have stagnated.

“Not on my watch!” Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted in response to the president’s comments on Tuesday that “we need to go community-by-community, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and oft times door-to-door, literally knocking on doors.”

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a San Antonio Republican, on Wednesday directed a tweet at Biden with a play on the “Come and Take It” flag that shows an image of a syringe with the words “Come Inject It.” In a separate tweet, the congressman said he thought a door-to-door push would be unconstitutional, as such an approach was “only really contemplated in Constitution for the census.”

Late yesterday, Becerra pushed back against Republicans, saying that they were taking his comments out of context:

Some comments I made today are being taken wildly out of context. To be clear: government has no database tracking who is vaccinated. We’re encouraging people to step up to protect themselves, others by getting vaccinated. It’s the best way to save lives and end this pandemic.

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients also pushed back on the purported mischaracterization of the door-to-door statement:

[He] warned against efforts to mischaracterize the door-to-door outreach, which is being conducted on a local level by doctors, faith leaders and other trusted community messengers in partnership with the administration.

“We’ve seen movement by going person by person, community by community in states where neighbors have contacted neighbors. This is important work that’s leading to more vaccinations and it’s done by people who care about the health of their family, friends and neighbors,” Zients said.

“So I would say for those individuals or organizations that are feeding misinformation and trying to mischaracterize this type of trusted messenger work, I believe you are doing a disservice to the country and to the doctors, the faith leaders, the community leaders and others who are working to get people vaccinated, save lives and help end this pandemic.”

Meanwhile, the about 67 percent of Americans 18 and older have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine and almost 60 percent are fully vaccinated.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reminded us what it would take to reach herd immunity levels:

What we know about coronavirus so far suggests that, if we were really to go back to a pre-pandemic lifestyle, we would need at least 70% of the population to be immune to keep the rate of infection down (“achieve herd immunity”) without restrictions on activities. But this level depends on many factors, including the infectiousness of the virus (variants can evolve that are more infectious) and how people interact with each other.

For example, when the population reduces their level of interaction (through distancing, wearing masks, etc.), infection rates slow down. But as society opens up more broadly and the virus mutates to become more contagious, infection rates will go up again. Since we are not currently at a level of protection that can allow life to return to normal without seeing another spike in cases and deaths, it is now a race between infection and injection.

Anyway, GET VACCINATED ALREADY so we can be done with this.

–Dana


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