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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
May 1, 2021

They Were Stuck Atop Britain's Tallest Coaster, Then Had To Walk 200 Feet Down

Thrill-seekers at a theme park in the U.K. got a little more than they bargained for this week when their roller coaster got stuck near the top.

Eventually, as the footage above and below shows, they had to be escorted off The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach by foot ― step-by-careful-step down a steel staircase in the open air, from near the ride’s 213-foot summit.

The Big One was the tallest and fastest coaster in the world when it opened in 1994, according to Coaster Grotto. It’s since been surpassed. The current tallest, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, is more than twice as high at 456 feet.

But as the footage from the Big One shows, being stuck about 15 stories up and then having to walk down is still quite the thrill ― so much so that the park actually charges a fee for a tour that takes tourists to the top via the stairs.


May 1, 2021

Florida nurse performs butt injection on courtroom Zoom

A Florida nurse on Wednesday performed a butt injection on a patient while waiting for her virtual court hearing to start.

Miami Herald reporter David Ovalle earlier Wednesday tweeted a picture of a man getting a butt injection from a female nurse during the Zoom court hearing.

“MIAMI ZOOM COURT: We’ve reached peak 305. Someone appears to be getting a butt injection while appearing in a virtual hearing,” Ovalle wrote in his post, referring to Miami's zip code. .............(more)


May 1, 2021

America's Amtrak moment could finally be here

(CNN) — Created in 1971 from the creaking remains of the classic US railroads that helped build modern America, Amtrak has often lived a precarious existence.

Subject to the whims of politicians in Washington D.C. and constantly under pressure from the well-funded and hugely influential oil, automotive and airline industry lobbies, the national passenger rail operator has been threatened with oblivion on several occasions.

But as it celebrates a 50th anniversary that few would have been brave enough to predict, there are signs that Amtrak's moment may finally have arrived.


President Joe Biden, a long-time rail commuter rejoicing in the nickname "Amtrak Joe," is calling on Congress to invest $80 billion in the rail network.

This massive chunk of change is needed to address Amtrak's repair backlog; modernize the flagship Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors, create new intercity connections; and enhance grant and loan programs that support passenger and freight rail safety, efficiency and electrification. ..............(more)


May 1, 2021

To be a modern-day Republican is to be a DSM-5 psychopath

Kansas Republican arrested for attack on student after rant about God talking to him: report

"Kansas state Rep. Mark Samsel was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery on Thursday after getting into a physical altercation with a student while substitute teaching in Wellsville. Samsel, 36, was booked into the Franklin County Adult Detention Center after 3:30 p.m. Thursday," the Kansas City Star reports. "He has since been released on $1,000 bond, Sheriff Jeff Richards said."

"On Wednesday, Samsel, R-Wellsville, was substitute teaching at the Wellsville school district's secondary school. Throughout the day, high school students began recording videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible," the newspaper reported. ..............(more)


May 1, 2021

Whataboutism, the last refuge for Republicans, is on the rise

Whataboutism, the last refuge for Republicans, is on the rise
Unable to defend their own views, conservatives are turning to "whataboutism" to deflect criticism

APRIL 30, 2021 5:01PM

(Salon) Over a year ago, and in violation of my own good advice, I got caught up in a Facebook argument with a Republican relative about Donald Trump. I don't remember what the topic was, and it hardly matters now, since the past four years was just a constant churn of Trump doing terrible stuff and his defensive voters constantly grasping for dumb excuses for why the terrible stuff wasn't actually all that terrible. What I do remember, however, is that, at one point, I linked the Washington Post's daily counter of Trump false statements — he was up to over a dozen a day by then — and demanded an explanation of why she would support such a liar. (I am not proud of myself, as noted.) She retorted with something along the lines of, "Oh, like Elizabeth Warren has never told a lie!"

Now, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is an honest politician and well-rated by PolitiFact. But all politicians have succumbed to the urge to massage the truth a time or two, and certainly I couldn't prove on the spot that Warren had a spotless record. But what was really preposterous was my relative's underlying assumption: if Warren had ever fudged the truth, then all criticism of Trump was rendered null and void.

It's this tendency to compare two unequal things that provided Trump and his supporters a blank check to have no standards at all, because, after all, the other side was hardly perfect. It's Whataboutism, the common term for a version of the tu quoque fallacy. RationalWiki explains that whataboutism is "a diversionary tactic to shift the focus off of an issue and avoid having to directly address it" by "twisting criticism back onto the critic and in doing so revealing the original critic's hypocrisy."


Perhaps the most dangerous way that the right-wing addiction to whataboutism manifests is in the way it's employed after every story about cops killing Black people in incidents that should not have been deadly. Inevitably, right-wing media will settle on pointing the finger at the victim for being "no angel." Apologists for Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd loved to harp on how Floyd had drugs in his system at the time. ..........(more)


May 1, 2021

Fox News anchor Leland Vittert, once a Trump target, quietly exits network

Fox News anchor Leland Vittert, a longtime weekend show mainstay turned Trump target, has left the network after a lengthy absence from the airwaves.

When reached for comment Friday, a Fox News spokesperson said the two parties "mutually and amicably parted ways."

The news was first reported by ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams' media industry-focused website, Mediaite, which noted, "Rumors have circulated for months regarding the professional fate of Vittert, since he disappeared from the air at Fox News in January. His Twitter account has been dormant since Jan. 13." ...........(more)


April 30, 2021

Amtrak says Alabama support not required for Gulf Coast return

Amtrak does not need unanimous political support from the three states included in a revised Gulf Coast passenger rail route, according to a filing from the nation’s passenger rail operator to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board on Tuesday.

Amtrak, in the filing, disputes claims from two freight operators – CSX and Norfolk Southern – that Alabama’s support is needed for the return of passenger rail between New Orleans and Mobile. Amtrak also urges the STB to decide the impact that two daily passenger trains entering into Mobile would disrupt “potential freight impacts” for the region’s economy.

“The (STB) is charged with deciding whether Amtrak’s proposed Gulf Coast Service ‘would impair unreasonably freight transportation (of CSX and NS) with (the freight operators) having the burden of demonstrating that additional trains will impair the freight transportation,” the filing states. “It is unclear why CSX and NS apparently believe the board is not well-equipped to undertake this analysis.”

The filing requests the STB to deny the freight operator’s request for the federal agency to dismiss Amtrak’s request to restart passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast connecting Union Station in New Orleans to a drop-off location near Cooper Riverside Park along Mobile’s waterfront. The service would also include four Mississippi stops – Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. ...............(more)


April 30, 2021

With U.S. hospitals overtaxed by COVID-19, huge numbers died from lack of healthcare access

With U.S. hospitals overtaxed by COVID-19, huge numbers died from lack of healthcare access
A vast increase in the number of so-called excess deaths suggest the US healthcare system has fundamentally failed

APRIL 30, 2021 1:10PM

(Salon) In calculating its human toll, a pandemic is similar to a war. The most precise way public health researchers can get a handle on the impact of something like COVID-19 is to compare the number of total deaths recorded in a specific place during the pandemic with death tallies from prior years.

That analysis will yield a figure known as "excess deaths" — which simply means deaths above and beyond what would normally be expected.


The importance of tabulating such a dark statistic is twofold: its record-breaking nature is due to both to our largely for-profit healthcare system, as well as government incompetence. Indeed, for decades our government ignored the warnings from public health experts that the U.S. was not properly prepared for the pandemic we are living through now.


As the city, state and federal governments all attempt to regroup after the death of more than a half-million and the infection of well over 30 million, Dr. Katz believes policy makers would be well advised to consult the data not just on COVID deaths per se, but on excess mortality rates referenced by neighborhoods.

"Absolutely, and I think we have some sense already of the excess mortality that occurred both among people who had COVID and didn't come forward for testing," he said. "Some of those people were undocumented immigrants or people who were very low income and feared coming forward to a hospital. ............(more)


April 30, 2021

Inside the fight to overturn a ban on yoga in Alabama's public schools

(Salon) In early 2019, a high school student asked Alabama state Rep. Jeremy Gray about his daily routine during a talk he was giving at a public high school in his district. The 35-year-old former Division I football player and CFL star said it often includes yoga — at least twice a week.

"As football players and athletes, we do yoga as a way to recover," Gray told Salon.

But his admission also unveiled a surprising truth about the state of Alabama: yoga is banned in public schools. The high schoolers he stood in front of were legally prohibited from having the activity be part of their public school curriculum. The ban, which has been in effect since 1993 and was voted on by the Alabama Board of Education, states: "School personnel shall be prohibited from using any techniques that involve the induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, meditation or yoga."

When Gray, a Democrat from Opelika, learned about the seemingly antiquated ban, he set out to overturn it — introducing Alabama House Bill 246 (HB 246) in the hopes that it would make a positive contribution to his community.

"Yoga is literally everywhere," Gray said. "It's in churches, universities, it's at football practice, basketball practice, the local YMCA, so I didn't really think it was a big deal until I introduced the bill and it was heavily opposed by conservative groups." .............(more)


April 30, 2021

Joe Biden turns the tables on Republicans

Joe Biden turns the tables on Republicans
Republicans spent years making politics about images, not policy — now Biden has weaponized that against them

APRIL 29, 2021 4:59PM

(Salon) President Joe Biden's plans are ambitious. I know this because every headline Thursday morning after Biden gave his first speech to a joint session of Congress said so.

"Biden Just Gave the Most Ideologically Ambitious Speech of Any Democratic President in Generations," Politico's wordy headline screamed. "Biden bets big," Axios said more succinctly. "Big Government Is Back," said the NPR headline. The Washington Post described Biden's "sweeping agenda" and the New York Times called it a "risky gamble."

Except that none of this actually feels risky. On the contrary, Biden was able to frame everything he said in convincingly reasonable tones. Put at ease by his patented "c'mon, man" approach, so far, it seems like the public can't be bamboozled into feeling angry, scared or worried about Biden's surprisingly progressive aspirations. Snap polls after the speech showed that 85% of viewers approved of Biden's speech, out of a crowd that was only 54% Democratic. This comports with previous polling that shows that, while Biden's approval numbers are stuck in the low 50s because of GOP voters who will never say they like him, an overwhelming majority like his actual policy ideas. Demonizing him as "tax-and-spend" isn't working, because voters are increasingly keen on the idea that we should be taxing corporations and wealthy people and spending it on the programs that Biden has successfully — and correctly — identified as investments in our nation's future: infrastructure, child care, jobs.


The thing is, these are the same exact arguments that progressives have been making for decades, and yet Republicans — aided by a loud right-wing media, the racism of the majority of white voters, and a mainstream media addicted to false equivalencies — were successful at demonizing such reasonable points as basically communism. Why then does it seem like Republicans suddenly can't land a glove on Biden?

Part of the credit should go to Biden himself, who is rising above what doubters like myself thought of him. He was able, as John Harwood of CNN said, to speak "in plain, non-political, non-ideological language invoking the people he wants to help." ............(more)


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