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Wicked Blue

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Maryland
Home country: United States
Member since: Tue Aug 11, 2020, 09:58 PM
Number of posts: 4,474

Journal Archives

Senate confirms Buttigieg as Biden's transportation secretary

The Washington Post
John Wagner

The Senate voted 86 to 13 on Tuesday to confirm Buttigieg as Biden’s transportation secretary. The 39-year-old became the first openly gay person ever to win confirmation to a Cabinet position.

The nomination sailed through the Senate Commerce Committee last week on a 21-to-3 vote.

Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a former rival to Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, has pledged to get to work immediately on Biden’s agenda of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

Ahead of the vote by the full Senate on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Buttigieg “is committed to working with members from both sides to improve rail and transit, highways, and more — in rural communities, urban centers, and everywhere in between.”


The Defense Department Wants To Outfit Troops With Microwave Weapon Detectors

Dan Vergano BuzzFeed News Reporter
Feb. 2, 2021

After being dismissed for decades, microwave weapons are beginning to be viewed as a serious military threat — prompting the Defense Department to issue a request to outfit US soldiers with detectors for what it called “a growing threat on the battlefield.”

The weapons, some of which cause burning sensations, have already been considered for use on US soil. In June, a federal police officer had requested a truck-sized microwave heat ray to disperse Black Lives Matter protests. The Trump administration considered using that same device against asylum seekers in 2018.

Now, the Defense Department wants US soldiers outfitted with microwave weapon detectors. That was laid out in a Dec. 9 contract solicitation for “a low cost, low weight, small size wearable radio frequency (RF) weapon exposure detector,” specifying high-frequency microwaves, that came from the Defense Department’s Defense Health Program.

The Defense Department’s interest in detecting microwave weapons comes as Israel, China, and Russia are reportedly inventing their own versions of a microwave heat ray “Active Denial System” that the US pioneered two decades ago. The US continues to develop the technology: An Air Force Research Laboratory is rolling out a “counter-swarm electromagnetic weapon,” called THOR, to fry drones in mid-flight. A Navy microwave weapon prototype mounted on a standard gun mount was unveiled in 2018. The need to disable drones became more real with the autumn war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which the former won with fleets of drones decimating the latter’s defenses.


America spent millions on a cybersecurity system that wasn't implemented -- and might have stopped t

Pro Publica on Raw Story
February 02, 2021

As America struggles to assess the damage from the devastating SolarWinds cyberattack discovered in December, ProPublica has learned of a promising defense that could shore up the vulnerability the hackers exploited: a system the federal government funded but has never required its vendors to use.

The massive breach, which U.S. intelligence agencies say was “likely Russian in origin," penetrated the computer systems of critical federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Justice, as well as a number of Fortune 500 corporations. The hackers remained undetected, free to forage, for months.

The hackers infiltrated the systems by inserting malware into routine software updates that SolarWinds sent to customers to install on its products, which are used to monitor internal computer networks. Software updates customarily add new features, remove bugs and boost security. But in this instance, the hackers commandeered the process by slipping in malicious code, creating secret portals called “back doors" that granted them access to an untold bounty of government and company secrets.

The incursion became the latest — and, it appears, by far the worst — in a string of hacks targeting the software supply chain. Cybersecurity experts have voiced concern for years that existing defenses, which focus on attacks against individual end users, fail to spot malware planted in downloads from trusted software suppliers. Such attacks are especially worrisome because of their ability to rapidly distribute malicious computer code to tens of thousands of unwitting customers.


Amazon to pay $61.7 million to settle charges it withheld driver tips

Agence France-Presse via Raw Story
Feb. 2, 2021

Amazon has agreed to pay $61.7 million to settle charges it withheld tips from its independent delivery drivers over two and a half years, US officials said Tuesday.

The US Federal Trade Commission said the agreement settles a complaint that Amazon failed to give the full tip amounts to drivers in its Amazon Flex program.

"Rather than passing along 100 percent of customers' tips to drivers, as it had promised to do, Amazon used the money itself," said Daniel Kaufman, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

"Our action today returns to drivers the tens of millions of dollars in tips that Amazon misappropriated, and requires Amazon to get drivers' permission before changing its treatment of tips in the future."


Amazon unveils 22-story Helix building as heart of HQ2 campus in Arlington

Washington Post
By Fredrick Kunkle
Feb. 2, 2021

Amazon unveiled plans Tuesday to build a 22-story, futuristic building modeled after a double helix to serve as the centerpiece of its Arlington, Va., headquarters.

In artists’ renderings, the 350-foot-tall building — designed by the architectural firm NBBJ to reflect nature’s fondness for the helix in areas from DNA to the Milky Way galaxy — climbs above its National Landing neighborhood like the swirl on an ice cream cone or the tip of a giant screw that has punched through the Earth’s surface.

Amazon officials said the structure is intended to be an alternative workspace, not a traditional office building, where employees would be able to air out ideas and find downtime beyond their cubicles. Trees dot terraces along two walkways that spiral upward, evoking the feel of a stroll through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The streetscape below, with wood-frame retail pavilions and green space, is designed to appeal to people and keep them around when the workday ends.

Company officials said they want the corporate complex to blend with the neighborhood, offering features such as a community center, an amphitheater, a dog run, new bicycle lanes and 2.5 acres of green space that would be open to anyone. The Helix would include an artists-in-residence program and on occasional weekends would open its doors to the public.


One has to ask, will the bathrooms be decorated with anti-union messages? I suppose they can afford all this architectural excess on the backs of low-paid workers.

Doesn't this look like it was based on a poop emoticon?

Democratic campaign committee seeks to link vulnerable Republicans to QAnon

Washington Post
By John Wagner

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday announced the launch of advertisements aimed at eight House Republicans who voted against Trump’s impeachment that accuse them of siding with supporters of QAnon.

The targets of the ads, which claim the GOP lawmakers “stood with Q, not you,” include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and seven others whom the DCCC says are vulnerable in the 2022 elections.

The DCCC said that the 30-second TV ads and digital spots will play across local broadcast and cable stations in the lawmakers’ districts and that the version attacking McCarthy will also air in Washington.

QAnon represents a sprawling set of false claims that have coalesced into an extremist ideology that has radicalized its followers, some of whom participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6. Trump was impeached by the House for “incitement of insurrection.” Ten Republicans voted with Democrats for his impeachment.


Amazon's anti-union blitz stalks Alabama warehouse workers everywhere, even the bathroom

Washington Post
By Jay Greene
Feb. 2, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. EST

SEATTLE — Some workers in Amazon’s Bessemer, Ala., warehouse complain that the company’s aggressive performance expectations leave them little time to take bathroom breaks.

When they do get there, they face messaging from Amazon pressing its case against unionization, imploring them to vote against it when mail-in balloting begins Feb. 8.

“Where will your dues go?” reads a flier posted on the door inside a bathroom stall.

“They got right in your face when you’re using the stall,” said Darryl Richardson, a worker at the warehouse who supports the union. Another pro-union worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said of Amazon’s toilet reading: “I feel like I’m getting harassed.”


Report: Watchdog Investigates Ted Cruz Over Loan Changes That Aided Billionaire Donors

Huffington Post
By Mary Papenfuss

A federal watchdog has launched an investigation into Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz over a $35 million COVID relief loan given to billionaire fracking brothers who were also top Cruz campaign contributors, Bloomberg reported.

Dan and Farris Wilks received the taxpayer-backed windfall even though their businesses were flush enough at the time to buy stakes in six other fracking companies, The Wall Street Journal reported late last year.

Cruz reportedly helped persuade then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the Federal Reserve to change the rules for the Main Street Lending Program to include operations like the Wilks businesses. The brothers then obtained a $35 million low-interest loan for ProFac Holdings LLC, a supplier of pumping equipment and services, according to records.

The Wilks brothers also donated $15 million to the super PAC Keeping the Promise, which backed Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.


Fees -- not just strategy -- blew up Trump's legal team

Scoop: Fees — not just strategy — blew up Trump's legal team

Alayna Treene, author of Sneak Peek

Disagreements over legal strategy weren't the only reason Donald Trump's defense team collapsed just days before his second impeachment trial, Axios has learned.

What we're hearing: The notoriously stingy former president and his lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, wrangled over compensation during a series of tense phone calls, sources familiar with their conversations said. The argument came even though Trump has raised over $170 million from the public that could be used on his legal defenses.

The two initially agreed Bowers would be paid $250,000 for his individual services, a figure that "delighted" Trump, one of the sources said.

However, Trump didn't realize Bowers hadn't included additional expenses — including more lawyers, researchers and other legal fees that would be accrued on the job.

More at link:


Happy Imbolc!

Tonight is the eve of Imbolc, the festival of the waxing light. Days are visibly longer. This is the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

Here is some information on the Celtic origin of Imbolc. The first link includes ways to celebrate. - Wicked Blue


Date: February 1st and/or 2nd

Other Names: Oimelc, Candlemas, St. Brigid's Day, St. Brigit's Day

Pronunciations: IM-blk

As with all Old Tradition observances, this holiday is usually celebrated beginning at sundown on February 1 and continuing through the day of February 2. Imbolc means in the belly of the Mother because that is where seeds are beginning to stir as it is Spring.

Another name for this holiday is Oimelc, meaning milk of ewes since it is also the traditional lambing season in the old world. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year.

This holiday is especially sacred to the Celtic Fire Goddess, Brigit, patron of smithcraft, healing, midwifery, and poetry. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on this Sabbat. Straw Brideo'gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo'gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterwards at the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid's Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is place by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.



Fire Deities of the Celts
The two most popular deities of the ancient Celts were Brighid/Bride/Brigantia and Lugh/Lugus/Llew. Both were deities of brightness and fire. Lugh was not a Sun God as is popularly supposed; he represented brilliance in craft and in thinking and was called "master of every art." Similarly, Brighid was a Fire Goddess, mistress or patroness of arts. She was a Goddess of Healing, Smith Craft (a magical art in ancient times), and Poetry, and also a patroness of mothers (because to be a mother was to be a mistress of every art to at least a small extent).

Brighid was the Goddess invoked at Imbolc, the great Fire Festival of February 1 that celebrated the lactation of the ewes.



Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbolc

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