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Member since: Sun Sep 16, 2012, 12:48 PM
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Tech Audit Company Quits Arizona Election Audit

There are no words to describe my disgust with Republican legislators in Arizona.


Tech company running Arizona ballot audit backs out: 'They were done'

Jen FifieldAndrew Oxford
Arizona Republic
May 25, 2021

The Pennsylvania-based IT company that was in charge of running the hand recount of Maricopa County ballots is no longer involved in the audit.

The contract with  Wake TSI ended May 14, the original completion date for the hand count, and the company chose not to renew its contract, according to Randy Pullen, an audit spokesperson and former state GOP chair. "They were done," he said. "They didn't want to come back."
The switch in contractors is the most significant change yet in the unconventional audit, which has seen numerous changes since it began April 23.

Ryan Macias, former acting director of testing and certification at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission who has observed the audit for the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, said Tuesday that this represents the “continuation of the mismanagement and constant change which we have been observing since the beginning."

But Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, said the company had completed the obligations under its contract and she was informed last week it would not be returning.
“They finished up with their contract, so they don’t need to be there anymore,” she said.

When Logan's bias was questioned, after it was discovered that he had touted unfounded claims of election fraud on social media, he emphasized the importance of hiring Wake TSI, which he trusted to create a ballot counting process that was "beyond reproach."

"To me," he said in that statement, "the most important element was the hand-counting, because if that was done right and transparently, it alone could restore some confidence in our election."
The Senate's liaison to the audit, Ken Bennett, told a pool reporter on May 7 that the company "probably have two to 300 people that are under their employ or volunteers."
Many of the same people are now working under StratTech, Pullen said.

Rapid global heating is hurting farm productivity, study finds


The Guardian

Rapid global heating is hurting farm productivity, study finds

Oliver Milman

The climate crisis is already eating into the output of the world’s agricultural systems, with productivity much lower than it would have been if humans hadn’t rapidly heated the planet, new research has found.
While farming has generally become far more efficient in recent decades, it is increasingly menaced by heatwaves that exhaust farm workers and wither certain crops. Extreme weather events and drought can also affect the output of a farm, particularly smaller operations in poorer countries.

In 2019, scientists who analyzed the top 10 global crops that provide the majority of our food calories found that climate change is reducing the worldwide production of staples such as rice and wheat. Again, less affluent countries are suffering worst from this situation.

The intensification of farming to boost output has in itself caused major environmental damage, through the deforestation of grazing land, loss of valuable topsoil, pollution from pesticides and the release of vast amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global heating.

“Why can’t you argue with Pi? It’s irrational.” Popular Science

Appalachian Pipeline Blockade Ends With Arrests After 932 Days


Appalachian Pipeline Blockade Ends With Arrests After 932 Days
Mike Ludwig, Truthout
April 2, 2021
Today we go to the Yellow Finch blockade near Elliston, Virginia, a tree-sit that prevented construction of the embattled Mountain Valley Pipeline for a whopping 932 days until police finally extracted two protesters from the trees last week – and both activists were still in jail when we recorded this podcast. A tree-sit, aka an arial blockade set up in trees, is textbook nonviolent civil disobedience – keep protesters living in trees for as long as possible, and the trees cannot be cut down until the protesters leave or are removed by police. This direct action tactic was developed years ago to oppose logging out West and is now being used to prevent construction crews from cutting down trees in the path of fossil fuel pipelines.

Pipelines endanger ecosystems, but they are also strategic chokepoints in the climate fight. Stop a pipeline, and you can prevent production of fossil fuels for decades to come. According to Appalachians Against Pipelines, the group behind the Yellow Finch Blockade in Virginia, construction of the Mountain Valley pipeline is now three years behind schedule and $2.7 billion dollars over budget. Controversial permits remain in limbo. Is a win for activists on the horizon? To find out, I spoke with Max and Caroline, two activists who have been supporting the Yellow Finch blockade. Max and Caroline are on the ground near the site of the tree-sit and they don’t have a great internet connection, so this interview has been edited for clarity and you might here some background noise, like a rooster crowing in the background. Please bear with us as we take you to the front lines of the climate fight.

Don't post your COVID-19 vaccination card on social media


‘It’s not just about what’s on that card’: Don’t post your COVID-19 vaccination card on social media — here’s why

Last Updated: April 2, 2021 at 10:18 a.m. ET
First Published: April 1, 2021 at 9:41 a.m. ET
By Meera Jagannathan
“Social media is no place for COVID-19 vaccination cards,” the Federal Trade Commission warned in February. “Once identity thieves have the pieces they need, they can use the information to open new accounts in your name, claim your tax refund for themselves, and engage in other identity theft.”

‘Nothing surprises me anymore’

When it comes to identity theft, “it’s all about putting together pieces of the puzzle” that is your digital identity, said Kerskie. “The more information a bad guy or an identity thief has about you, the greater chance of their success,” she told MarketWatch.
It’s true that some of the data on that card, like your name, is already publicly available, Velasquez added. But it also contains your date of birth, and potentially some health information. “It’s one of those things where, do you really want to take that chance?” she said. “I don’t want to be alarmist about it, but I also don’t think it’s as innocuous as most people think.”

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Is it safe to take Tylenol or ibuprofen before or after the Covid vaccine?


Is it safe to take Tylenol or ibuprofen before or after the Covid vaccine?
The evidence is limited, but some painkillers might interfere with the body's immune response.
Feb. 5, 2021, 1:13 PM MST
By The Associated Press

Can I take painkillers before or after a COVID-19 vaccine?

It's best to avoid them, unless you routinely take them for a medical condition. Although the evidence is limited, some painkillers might interfere with the very thing the vaccine is trying to do: generate a strong immune system response.

Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking it has a virus and mounting a defense against it. That may cause arm soreness, fever, headache, muscle aches or other temporary symptoms of inflammation that can be part of that reaction.

“These symptoms mean your immune system is revving up and the vaccine is working,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a recent news briefing.

Certain painkillers that target inflammation, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and other brands) might curb the immune response. A study on mice in the Journal of Virology found these drugs might lower production of antibodies — helpful substances that block the virus from infecting cells.

Statistical illiteracy isn't a niche problem. During a pandemic, it can be fatal


The Guardian

Carlo Rovelli


Statistical illiteracy isn't a niche problem. During a pandemic, it can be fatal

In the institute where I used to work a few years ago, a rare non-infectious illness hit five colleagues in quick succession. There was a sense of alarm, and a hunt for the cause of the problem. In the past the building had been used as a biology lab, so we thought that there might be some sort of chemical contamination, but nothing was found. The level of apprehension grew. Some looked for work elsewhere.

One evening, at a dinner party, I mentioned these events to a friend who is a mathematician, and he burst out laughing. “There are 400 tiles on the floor of this room; if I throw 100 grains of rice into the air, will I find,” he asked us, “five grains on any one tile?” We replied in the negative: there was only one grain for every four tiles: not enough to have five on a single tile.

We were wrong. We tried numerous times, actually throwing the rice, and there was always a tile with two, three, four, even five or more grains on it. Why? Why would grains “flung randomly” not arrange themselves into good order, equidistant from each other?

Because they land, precisely, by chance, and there are always disorderly grains that fall on tiles where others have already gathered. Suddenly the strange case of the five ill colleagues seemed very different. Five grains of rice falling on the same tile does not mean that the tile possesses some kind of “rice-­attracting” force. Five people falling ill in a workplace did not mean that it must be contaminated. The institute where I worked was part of a university. We, know-­all professors, had fallen into a gross statistical error. We had become convinced that the “above average” number of sick people required an explanation. Some had even gone elsewhere, changing jobs for no good reason.

Life is full of stories such as this. Insufficient understanding of statistics is widespread. The current pandemic has forced us all to engage in probabilistic reasoning, from governments having to recommend behaviour on the basis of statistical predictions, to people estimating the probability of catching the virus while taking part in common activities. Our extensive statistical illiteracy is today particularly dangerous.

We use probabilistic reasoning every day, and most of us have a vague understanding of averages, variability and correlations. But we use them in an approximate fashion, often making errors. Statistics sharpen and refine these notions, giving them a precise definition, allowing us to reliably evaluate, for instance, whether a medicine or a building is dangerous or not.
……snip (long article, more at link)
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Tue Oct 27, 2020, 01:33 PM (3 replies)

Americans Are Losing Sight of What Fascism Means


The Atlantic

Americans Are Losing Sight of What Fascism Means

Shadi Hamid
Words matter because they help order our understanding of politics both at home and abroad. If Cotton is a fascist, then we don’t know what fascism is. And if we don’t know what fascism is, then we will struggle to identify it when it threatens millions of lives—which is precisely what is happening today in areas under Beijing’s control. Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on Hong Kong. And while the world watches, they are undertaking one of the most terrifying campaigns of ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide since World War II in Xinjiang province, with more than 1 million Muslim Uighurs in internment camps, as well as reports of forced sterilization and mass rape.

For morality to operate, moral proportion is required. Unfortunately, the Trump era has badly damaged our ability to see what’s right in front of our noses.
[Read: Saving Uighur culture from genocide]

Today, the United States is consumed by internal divisions, which means that the flow of ideas is the reverse of what it otherwise might be. Instead of solving problems through the very democratic institutions that once gave inspiration abroad, we now import foreign notions from Europe’s dark past in an attempt to comprehend what seems incomprehensible here in our own country. Donald Trump’s election led to a whole cottage industry of thinking that fascism is near, right here at home. It has grown steadily, reaching its culmination in the lead-up to the November election. In the past month alone, readers have seen Mussolini comparisons from eminent historians, explainers on what it’s like to live through a civil war, and an endless stream of warnings about Reichstag fires and a “fascist coup.” Here, Trump deserves some of the blame. He has a knack for bringing out the worst in his opponents, giving them license to use the very hyperbole and distortion that they criticize in others. This is one of many reasons to hope he is voted out of office.

If America doesn’t descend into fascism—and Joe Biden wins by a comfortable margin and Republicans accept the result, however reluctantly—then Americans will be able, once again, to gain a proper perspective on their long, four-year episode of unreason and myopia. Sometimes, life is elsewhere. In some places, democracy, or what’s left of it, is truly under threat. One of those places is Hong Kong.
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Tue Oct 27, 2020, 01:29 PM (6 replies)

Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Was Targeted in Armed White Supremacist Plot


Democracy Now!

October27, 2020

Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Was Targeted in Armed White Supremacist Plot
By Amy Goodman

Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza says President Trump is “stoking fires he has no intention of controlling.”

This election season, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza says President Trump is “stoking fires he has no intention of controlling” and inciting far-right extremists. She was recently approached by the FBI after agents found her name on a list in the home of a white supremacist in Idaho who was arrested on weapons charges. “Racial terror has always been used as a form of control, particularly during periods of people fighting for social change,” she says.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
…snip much more at link
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Tue Oct 27, 2020, 01:24 PM (0 replies)

The Pandemic Election: Combatting Chaos

I really miss Bill Moyers on PBS. The title is taken directly from the source of the article.


The Pandemic Election: Combatting Chaos


Deceive the Public
In 2016, almost 139 million people voted. As of October 26, 2020, more than 40 million voters had already mailed in their completed ballots. When election night ends, millions of mail-in ballots will not yet have been counted.

Because Democrats’ requests for mail-in ballots vastly outnumbered requests from Republicans, most of those uncounted votes will be for former Vice President Joe Biden. That means Trump could be ahead on election night based on reported in-person and partial mail-in vote totals. He might declare himself the winner, even though Biden had won a landslide victory based on the mail-in votes not yet tallied.
There’s nothing new about this post-Election Day “Blue Shift.” “On election night in 2012, Barack Obama trailed Mitt Romney by some 30,000 votes at the moment Mr. Obama was projected to win his re-election bid,” The New York Times editorial board reminded us recently. “By the time the votes were tallied, Mr. Obama had five million more votes than Mr. Romney.”

In 2018, the phenomenon was even more pronounced. As polling places closed and states reported vote totals, the anticipated “Blue Wave” for Democrats in Congress seemed absent. The party’s net gain in the House was only 26 seats. But by the time all mail-in votes were counted a few weeks later, the Democrats had flipped 41 seats.

Litigate the Outcome
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Tue Oct 27, 2020, 01:20 PM (0 replies)
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