March 16, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 6:10 PM


The Strongest Evidence Yet That an Animal Started the Pandemic (Katherine J. Wu, MARCH 16, 2023, 5The Atlantic)

This week, an international team of virologists, genomicists, and evolutionary biologists may have finally found crucial data to help fill that knowledge gap. A new analysis of genetic sequences collected from the market shows that raccoon dogs being illegally sold at the venue could have been carrying and possibly shedding the virus at the end of 2019. It's some of the strongest support yet, experts told me, that the pandemic began when SARS-CoV-2 hopped from animals into humans, rather than in an accident among scientists experimenting with viruses.

Sinophobes hardest hit.

Posted by orrinj at 1:12 PM


Fox's Tucker Carlson questions 9/11 attacks, complains you'd "lose your job" on TV for bringing it up (ERIC HANANOKI,  03/16/23, Media Matters)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently appeared on a podcast and pushed a central tenet of the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was an inside job, stating: "What actually happened with building 7? Like that is weird, right? It doesn't -- like, what is that?"

Posted by orrinj at 12:43 PM


The GOP Campaign Trail Is Already Getting DeSantis-Proofed: As he explores a run for president, the demanding Florida governor is already coming across as a "nightmare" in the early primary states. (Jake Lahut & Zachary Petrizzo,  Mar. 16, 2023, Daily Beast)

At any given fundraiser or VIP room where he's present, Ron DeSantis is usually easy to find--in the corner, keeping to himself.

Despite having a job that entails exchanging small talk and pleasantries on a daily basis, the Florida governor tends to brush off those obligations and struggles with basic social skills, according to a source close to DeSantis, several of his former staffers, and other GOP operatives who have worked with him and his team. [...]

During his donor retreat in Palm Beach in late February, an attendee stood up and called him "DeSatan," according to Republicans familiar with the outburst.

At his recent book tour stop in Davenport, Iowa, a volunteer English teacher and seasoned caucus enthusiast posed for a photo alongside the governor with the term "fascist" carved out within her design of a paper snowflake.

The governor's aversion to pressing the flesh, and his concern over the risk of unexpected interactions with the public, is already so well-known that early primary state players are working to DeSantis-proof their events in order to attract the flinty would-be candidate and his tight-knit team.

The problem is, hosts often have no idea what the DeSantis team wants.

"Easily the least responsive campaign I've ever dealt with," one veteran event host in an early primary state told The Daily Beast, requesting anonymity to avoid alienating the Florida governor.

"We invite, invite, invite, ping, ping, ping. We don't hear anything," this prominent event host said.

"He's been tighter in his requests than other candidates," a top New Hampshire Republican told The Daily Beast, adding that only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich came to mind as a bigger "nightmare" to deal with.

During his Iowa swing, DeSantis' apparent use of bike racks to create space between himself and a crowd didn't go unnoticed elsewhere. "If they want 50 bike racks, we'll give them 50 bike racks," a New Hampshire GOP lawmaker quipped to The Daily Beast. A representative for DeSantis did not return a request for comment for this story. [...]

Several former staffers for the governor told The Daily Beast almost everything he does is scripted, which, coupled with an aversion to small talk, general pleasantries, and any unplanned interactions with the public, make him difficult to manage ahead of events.

Posted by orrinj at 12:24 PM


Propaganda (Almost) Never Works: Notes on Russian interference attempts. (Hugo Mercier, 3/15/23, Persuasion)

 In January this year, a study by Gregory Eady, Tom Paskhalis, and their colleagues found that the majority (70%) of this Russian propaganda was consumed by only 1% of Twitter users, people who were already staunch Republicans and thus already overwhelmingly likely to vote for Trump. As a result, the fake news shared by the trolls merely preached to the choir. It doesn't seem to have changed anyone's mind. This converges with the result of a 2019 study led by Chris Bail, which found that interacting with accounts from the Internet Research Agency had no impact on the political opinions and behaviors of Twitter users.

Posted by orrinj at 12:08 PM


Tossed Salads and Scrambled Meigs: Time to go nuclear. (Jonah Goldberg, Mar 16, 2023, The Remnant)

James Meigs, Manhattan Institute senior fellow and contributing editor at City Journal, makes his Remnant debut in today's wildly wonky exploration of clean energy, tech policy, and environmentalism. He and Jonah kick things off by talking about the elephant('s foot) in the room--nuclear power--before seamlessly transitioning to the terrifying subject of artificial intelligence. Come for the well deserved nuclear boosterism; stay for the existential dread provoked by the idea of malevolent chatbots ruling the meatspace.

Posted by orrinj at 8:08 AM


Posted by orrinj at 7:49 AM


In the mob's eyeline: A senior Republican's close brush revealed in new Jan. 6 footage (KYLE CHENEY and JORDAIN CARNEY. 03/15/2023, pOLITICO)

The footage is the latest example of how close powerful government figures came to a direct brush with the mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters. Rioters came within 40 feet of then-Vice President Mike Pence during his own evacuation, according to evidence released by the Jan. 6 select committee. And then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, accompanied by his own security detail, came within sight of rioter Joshua Pruitt while waiting for an elevator.

"The security detail and Senator Schumer reversed course and ran away from the elevator, back down the ramp, away from Pruitt," according to a "statement of facts" agreed to by prosecutors and Pruitt in connection with his plea deal.

Fulton County investigators have another recording of a Trump phone call pressuring a Georgia official (Kristen Holmes and Jason Morris, 3/15/23, CNN)

Fulton County investigators have an audio recording of a phone call that former President Donald Trump made to the Georgia House speaker to push for a special session to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's 2020 victory in the state, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Fulton County special grand jury, which investigated Trump's actions in the state after the 2020 election, heard the recording of Trump's call to David Ralston, according to five of the jurors who spoke anonymously to the AJC. A source confirmed to CNN the existence of the recording, which hasn't been made public.

Information is deadly to ideology.