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Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 06:25 PM
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Journal Archives

Benji303 & Lee S. - Fuck The Tories (Sterling Moss & Mark EG Fuck The 303 Remix)

The Tories' 'chumocracy' over Covid contracts is destroying public trust


Lord Bethell and Dido Harding, Parliament Square, 17 September 2020: ‘As the junior health minister Lord Bethell recently told the House of Lords, the government relied on “informal arrangements” to fulfil urgent needs for PPE.’ Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Under the cover of an emergency, the government awarded £18bn in coronavirus-related contracts during the first six months of the pandemic, most with no competitive tendering processes. Meanwhile contracts totalling £1.5bn have gone to companies with connections to the Conservative party. Call it a “chumocracy” or straightforward incompetence: it’s clear there’s been a woeful lack of transparency when it comes to how taxpayers’ money is spent.

The more information we have about these contracts, the more complicated it becomes to piece them all together. As the junior health minister Lord Bethell recently told the House of Lords, the government relied on “informal arrangements” to fulfil urgent needs for PPE. One such informal arrangement was a phone call in April between Lord Bethell and Meller Designs, a company owned by a prominent Conservative party donor who has given more than £63,000 to the party. The company, which usually sells home and fashion accessories to retailers such as Marks & Spencer, was later awarded PPE contracts worth £163m.

This is by no means the only Covid contract with a whiff of cronyism about it. But it can be difficult to grasp the significance of these contracts unless you step back to see the bigger picture. As a political scientist with a background in maths, my first instinct was to start building a dataset. After all, even the most complex networks can be distilled to a list of nodes and the connections between them. A few lines of code are all that’s needed to bring that dataset to life, like a hi-tech version of the evidence board in Line of Duty. The result is an interactive graph that, tongue-in-cheek, I’ve named My Little Crony.

With this visualisation, we can explore a whole web of connections at once. Take, for example, Lord Feldman, a wealthy donor and former chair of the Conservative party who was elevated to the House of Lords by his old Oxford chum, David Cameron. Feldman began serving as an unpaid adviser to the Department of Health in March, and in that capacity attended meetings with a firm called Oxford Nanopore, which has been awarded government contracts for Covid testing. Shortly after Feldman left his role in government, his PR firm, Tulchan Communications, had taken on Oxford Nanopore as a paying client.


Benji303 & Lee S. - Fuck The Tories (Sterling Moss & Mark EG Fuck The 303 Remix)

Republican David Valadao defeats TJ Cox for California seat in Congress, analyst says


Hanford Republican David Valadao’s lead in the U.S. House District 21 race shrunk Friday, but a political analyst has called the race.

Valadao, the challenger for the district, leads Rep. TJ Cox, D-Fresno, by 1,618 votes after the latest update from Kern County. Cox trimmed 178 votes from Valadao’s lead on Friday.

With the number of votes left to count from Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare counties dwindling, the lead was enough for Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report and NBC News contributor.


Mike Garcia claims victory in tight 25th Congress race - and Christy Smith isn't happy about it

This is the old Katie Hill seat.

Democrat challenger Christy Smith trailed the incumbent by 446 votes as of Friday afternoon.


Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Saugus, has declared victory in the roller-coaster race against Christy Smith in the race for the 25th Congressional District — a declaration that brought a strong rebuke from Smith that it was “dangerous to the democratic process” with votes still being counted. “After a long, tough fight, I am proud to earn the privilege of serving CA-25 for another two years,” said Garcia late Friday in a statement. “With only a few remaining ballots to be counted, victory is clear.” Garcia widened his lead as the race for the northern Los Angeles seat wound down to its final days, according to updated results posted Friday, Nov. 20, by the California Secretary of State’s Office.
Smith, a Democrat, trailed the incumbent by 446 votes as of Friday afternoon. Garcia extended his lead as the counting of ballots continues by the Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder’s office. His margin was 422 votes and Tuesday and 159 votes last Friday. Garcia was listed with 50.1% of the vote with Smith holding 49.9%. In the back-and-forth race, Smith has also led by as many 1,287 votes. But Smith had not conceded as of 6:30 p.m. Friday. Her Twitter feed offered a hint of her mindset with a 6:12 p.m. tweet that said only: “Patience is a virtue.”
Not long after, it was clear Smith had no intention of going along with Garcia’s conclusion. “Mike Garcia’s declaration of victory is dangerous to our democratic process,” she said in a statement. “With a mere 400-vote margin and thousands of ballots outstanding, election officials are diligently working to process ballots and accurately count all outstanding votes to ensure our communities are heard, and this race remains too close to call.”

Garcia had thanked Smith, and tipped his hat to her for a “excellent and aggressive campaign,” which he said she ran with grace. He also thanked his supporters and pledged to work hard for all in the district. Vote by mail ballots were scheduled to be accepted through Friday, as long as they were postmarked Election Day. The next election update in the race will come on Tuesday. Additional updates are scheduled for next Friday, Nov. 27, and Monday, Nov. 30, if the vote count is not complete. The county will certify the election by Nov. 30. Results statewide should be certified by the California Secretary of State by Dec. 3.


If we lose this and the even closer IA-2 (the Dem Rita Hart trails the Rethug Miller-Meeks by only 47 votes) we will end up with a 222 to 213 majority, 19 down from where we were after the 2018 Midterms, and only 5 defections away from losing votes (if the Rethugs all hang together)

The other 6 races left are not close enough to change, I have no idea why the 5 uncalled races in NY have not been called (we will lose all 5), some of the leads are very large, plus we will almost certainly lose CA-21 (TJ Cox is down too far), which will be another R flip, barring something extraordinary. We go hammered in the southern half of California, 4 flips and some others that were way too close.

These two girls working at McDonalds helped a handicapped man who was struggling with his meal.


More than 470,000 Americans will die from coronavirus by March, experts forecast


The coronavirus pandemic is getting so bad, so quickly, across the United States that an influential academic modeling group has hiked its forecast of deaths considerably. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine now predicts 471,000 people will die from Covid-19 by March 1. That’s up from its forecast of 438,941 just a week ago.

The group said their forecast "assumes that 40 states would reimpose social distancing mandates as the daily death rate exceeds 8 per million." If states do not do this, the "death toll could reach 658,000 by March 1,” they added. “Hospital systems in most states will be under severe stress during December and January even in our reference scenario. Increasing mask use to 95% can save 65,000 lives by March 1," the institute said.

This increased death forecast is even taking into account that the US has improved the infection-fatality ratio with better treatments. “Our analysis suggests that after controlling for age, sex, comorbidities, and disease severity at admission, the hospital-fatality rate has declined by about 30% since March/April,” it said. Obesity is a major factor in the fatality rate, it said.



COVID-19 Projections
Regions shown are the World Bank regional aggregates.

Purpling Red America

The collective progressive movement must put most of its eggs in the purpling basket.


If we’re lucky, each of us has a few people in our lives who would go to the mat for us in the worst of times. That could mean anything from offering a small forgivable loan or a roof over our heads to donating a kidney. If you have ten such people in your life you are wealthy beyond imagination. Donald Trump, though perhaps nearly broke by strictly financial standards, has millions of such people, probably none of whom he has ever met or will ever meet. My generic impression of one such prototype is a composite MAGA dude from Middle America who can barely make his utility payments but who over the last few years has taken time off from work repeatedly to attend Trump rallies. The last rally he attends, in Circleville, Ohio, gives him a severe case of COVID, traceable either to Trump himself or one of his aides. It’s now late October, 2020. The MAGA dude is hospitalized and way too ill to vote in person on November 3. On November 2, a friend sneaks into the hospital, where the MAGA dude is on his deathbed. The friend has brought with him an absentee ballot and offers to place it in a drop box later that day. The MAGA dude lifts his arm, moves the IV bag out of the way, and votes for the last time in his life. Is there one person in the entire world who doubts that vote is cast for Trump?

Few of us can conceive of having even one such fanatical follower, let alone millions. We will never understand the convoluted psychology of someone utterly devoted to the very person who threatens to take his life. In much the same way, we will never significantly shrink the tumor that is the hardcore base of Trump supporters. It’s not even worth trying. The tumor isn’t simply resistant to political chemotherapy. It thrives on it. There is no need to despair, because millions of soft core Trump supporters may be peeled away in the coming years. Of course, it’s not going to be easy. But if we don’t have a viable strategy to accomplish this overarching task, 2016 will again metastasize, this time with a vengeance. Preventing a relapse must be the practical long term focus of center-left politics in the United States now and for the foreseeable future. Ideas are being floated constantly: statehood for Puerto Rico, Guam, and D.C.; reversing egregious gerrymandering; doing away with the Electoral College altogether. None of these measures is beyond the pale, and none would be shunned by the GOP were they in a parallel situation. But none directly addresses the possibility of reorienting relatively sane Trump supporters and the states they live in.

The collective progressive movement must put most of its eggs in the purpling basket if it is to be any more than a marginally worthy combatant of the right, with whom we transfer power back and forth routinely every four, eight, or twelve years with no true moral victory and, worse, no real victory for the Americans we claim to serve. This objective will, in fact, be my own intellectual focus over the next year or so, sandwiched by my usual deliriums of disgust and depression. In this space on this day I will get the ball rolling with a single, hopefully valid, general observation. Babies born into red states and, in particular, rural areas grow to be young men and women who seek opportunity. When they don’t find it where they live, they are likely to relocate. Much of the time the relocation is to a more urbanized area, often a major metropolis. If that young man or woman happens to be somewhat culturally liberal—as many are regardless of their upbringing—the odds are still greater that relocation will be to a bluish metropolis. This shift is self-reinforcing. As talented young people are drained from an area, it becomes still less desirable to the next wave of youth coming of age. The logical conclusion economically is thousands of angry blighted red counties ripe for a demagogue. The logical conclusion politically is a state with a grand total of 893 lost souls represented by two U.S. senators.

The question within the question is how to make these rural areas magnets for young people rather than repellents. Solutions exist but are complicated by a single profound and disturbing political reality: Solutions threaten the existence of the modern GOP. At the same time, the issue is not an abstraction, and there is hope. In 1990 my young bride and I were lured away from New York City to Northampton County, Pennsylvania. The circumstances were complicated but had at least something to do with the extension of Interstate 78 and the access it provided to the same city we left. Those circumstances also had at least something to do with burgeoning development west of the Delaware River. Sue and I weren’t the only young people “voting with our feet” at that time. All this came rushing back to me on Saturday, November 7 as Pennsylvania put Joe Biden over the top in the 2020 presidential election. Small blue margins in purplish eastern counties like Northampton made the difference. Bragging rights and a drunken lost weekend aside, it is not an exaggeration to say good economic policy decades earlier helped set the table for the demise of Donald J. Trump. We are now in a position to set the table for the next generation. Staving off an aspiring dictator in 2044 is not sufficient. The U.S. needs to become a bastion of inclusive capitalism for the benefit of all.


Kristi Noem rigidly follows Trump strategy of denial as Covid ravages South Dakota

Republican governor clings to the president despite his defeat and claims ‘we’re doing really good’ with state’s positivity rate at 60%


Kristi Noem, the Republican governor of South Dakota, tells a story about the first time she met Donald Trump. He welcomed her to the Oval Office, and after they shook hands she returned the compliment by inviting him to visit her back in her home state. “We have Mount Rushmore,” she said, hoping he would be tempted by a trip to the famous rock sculpture depicting four of his presidential predecessors. Trump replied: “Do you know, it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?” “I started laughing,” Noem recalls. “He wasn’t laughing, so he was totally serious.” Noem, 48, is savvy enough to know when to humour a potential patron. In July, Trump did make the trip to Mount Rushmore on 4 July for an Independence Day fireworks display. To mark the occasion, she presented him with a four-foot model of the granite monument complete with the addition of a fifth president – Trump.

Having lost to Joe Biden in the election, Donald Trump has as much chance of being carved next to Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore as Donald Duck. But since Trump’s defeat, Noem has still clung to the president and to his policies as though her political life depends on it. The actual lives of many South Dakotans could depend, in turn, upon that decision given the terrifying surge of Covid-19 cases that is battering the state under Noem’s contentious leadership. South Dakota has been listed by Forbes as one of the 10 most dangerous states in the Union, all of them in the Midwest. Coronavirus in South Dakota is running at an intensity only surpassed in the US by its neighbour North Dakota. The state has an alarming positivity rate of almost 60% – nearly six out of 10 people who take a Covid test are infected – second only to another neighbour, Wyoming.

Viewed through the lens of cases and deaths, South Dakota is also at the top of the league table. More than 66,000 South Dakotans have contracted the disease and at least 644 have died, a number likely to rise as hospitals reach breaking point. Amid this devastating contagion, Noem is rigidly sticking to the strategy she has adopted since the pandemic began. It consists of a refusal to accept mask mandates and repeated denial of the science around the efficacy of wearing masks; resistance to imposing any restrictions on bars and restaurants; no limits on gatherings in churches or other places of worship; and no orders to stay at home.

While the statistics are clear – the virus is running wild in South Dakota – Noem has turned a public health emergency into an issue of “freedom” and “liberty”, consistently lying about the trajectory of the disease under her watch. “We’re doing really good in South Dakota. We’re managing Covid-19,” she has said. She has also embraced the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid, even after it was proven to be ineffective and potentially dangerous. If all of this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Since the start of the pandemic, Noem has consciously adopted the posture of a mini-Trump, following the president’s every move in the handling of the health crisis. “From the get-go, her approach was mirroring the Trump administration,” said Lisa Hager, a political scientist at South Dakota State University. “She’s been adamant about people making their own choices and that it’s not the government’s role to step in – and it has played very well for her in her political career.”


she needs to be charged with crimes against humanity

Chewbacca comforting this young lady who is fighting cancer is the Twitter content I needed today...


Dashcam video provides details of fatal law enforcement shooting of two Florida teens


Four days after a sheriff's deputy fatally shot two Black teenagers in the coastal Florida city of Cocoa, prompting a state investigation and outrage in a community demanding answers, authorities released a 56-second dashcam video of the deadly encounter. The video clip, posted on the Brevard County Sheriff's Facebook page Tuesday evening, shows deputies attempting to stop a car last Friday after what Sheriff Wayne Ivey said was an investigation into a possible stolen vehicle.

The footage shows two marked sheriff's cruisers following the car carrying the teenagers through a residential neighborhood as it pulls into a driveway before the driver backs out and faces two deputies with their guns drawn. A deputy is heard on the camera's audio commanding the driver at least eight times to stop. There is no audio for the first 36 seconds of the video.

In a statement released with the video, Ivey said the driver "turns and accelerates the vehicle" toward the deputy, who was "then forced to fire his service weapon in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him." Ivey said, "You can actually see the tires of the vehicle turn sharply as the car accelerates" toward the deputy, who was "in immediate danger of being struck by the vehicle." The sheriff said two firearms were recovered in the car. There were at least three occupants.

The teenagers who were killed were identified as Sincere Pierce, 18, and Angelo Crooms, 16, who the sheriff said was the driver.
Until Tuesday, authorities had provided few details about the deaths of the two young men -- which occurred amid a national reckoning over racial injustice in America, following the police killings of other Black men and women such as George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, among others.


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