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Gender: Do not display
Current location: Virginia
Member since: Wed Jun 1, 2011, 07:34 PM
Number of posts: 6,728

About Me

Navy brat-->University fac brat. All over-->Wisconsin-->TN-->VA. RN (ret), married, grandmother of 11. Progressive since birth. My mouth may be foul but my heart is wide open.

Journal Archives

I am overwhelmed

Thank you to everyone for the Valentine hearts! I never got this many valentines even in grade school when it was mandatory to send one to everyone in class. I'm all teary eyed. Thank you SO much!

Banning the Type of Police Raids That Killed Amir Locke Is Just a Start


Amir Locke, a 22-year-old aspiring musician, was sleeping on a couch in his cousin’s Minneapolis home on a Wednesday morning this month when SWAT officers entered without knocking. “Get on the ground! Get on the fucking ground!” one of the cops shouted.

As Locke began to move, a pistol in his hand, the officers opened fire. Locke, who was not a subject of the police’s investigation or named in their warrant, was shot dead before he could even figure out what was going on.

The case triggered fresh protests and renewed calls to ban warrants that allow cops to enter homes without knocking. “Like the case of Breonna Taylor, the tragic killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans,” attorney Ben Crump, representing Locke’s family, told NPR. As I reported previously, Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who died in a raid in Kentucky in 2020, was just one of a shocking number of Black people to be killed under similar circumstances. “This is yet another example of why we need to put an end to these kinds of search warrants,” said Crump, “so that one day, Black Americans will be able to sleep safely in their beds at night.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey responded to Locke’s killing this week by placing a temporary moratorium on no-knock warrants, except for in some dangerous scenarios like hostage situations. (He previously tried to reform the use of these warrants in 2020.)


'We don't look like them': Black figure skaters face barriers to entry from a young age

Before figure skating practice, Michael Baker would ask his mom to let him out of the car before they got to the entrance of the ice rink.

“He would say, ‘Mommy, why don’t you just drop me here?’” Shirley Brown, Baker’s mom, told NBC News. “And I knew exactly why he was doing it.”

They still haven’t replaced their beat-up 2007 Toyota Rav 4, one in a long list of sacrifices made to support Baker’s skating. Brown has delayed her retirement. They can’t go on vacation.

Baker, 17, dreams of one day competing in the Olympics. But even if he has the talent to make it, the family worries the cost may hold him back.

Baker started skating at 13, when he signed up for lessons at a mall on his birthday. A coach saw that Baker had talent and offered to teach him.

“In the beginning, it was very, very, very tough,” Brown said. “I find that it’s an elitist sport. You’re not welcomed by some of the parents. We don’t look like them.”

Who's the last Black figure skater YOU remember? Surya Bonaly? Debi Thomas? Think how long ago THAT was!

Please hold my nephew and family in your thoughts

M. is married to a lovely Ukrainian woman, A., and they have a little girl, N., and another baby due in June. They've been living in Kyiv for the past 5 years or so; I think it's her home town and possibly her mother lives there. We've all been worried silly about them since this mess began and still are. Possibly can breathe a little, but not sure. Here is his latest communique.

So, we rented a car today and plan to drive out of Kyiv tonight out to the West in Lviv, which is close to the border with Hungary and Poland.
We will need to get documentation for the dogs to enter Europe once we're in Lviv, which should take a few days, and then will assess the situation with the tentative plan to go to Warsaw,
and then fly to Portugal and lay low for a few weeks.
I will be somewhat relaxed once we're out of Kyiv, and more so once we're out of the country entirely.
I'll keep sending updates as we make further progress.

Trudeau to use rare emergency powers in attempt to quell protests - reports

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, will invoke a rare emergency law to give the federal government immense powers as he attempts to quell protests that have plunged the country into a protracted crisis.

Trudeau is expected to invoke the Emergencies Act on Monday morning, according to multiple Canadian media outlets, the first time the legislation has been used.

Also on Monday, Ontario announced it would accelerate dropping its coronavirus restrictions, becoming the latest province to dramatically scale back public health measures meant to blunt the Omicron wave.

Protests over those public health restrictions have for weeks paralysed the nation’s capital, halted trade and raised broader questions over the ability for police to enforce existing laws.

In an indication of the deteriorating situation, Trudeau met with both his cabinet and provincial premiers on Monday morning, where he reportedly told them he would use the Emergencies Act. The law gives the government broad powers for 30 days, but Trudeau is not expected to call in the military.


Two Children Get First Gene Therapy for Dreaded Disease

Two babies have received the first-ever gene therapy for Tay-Sachs disease after over 14 years of development.

Tay-Sachs is a severe neurological disease caused by a deficiency in an enzyme called HexA. This enzyme breaks down a fatlike substance that normally exists in very small, harmless amounts in the brain. Without HexA, however, this fatlike substance can accumulate to toxic levels that damage and kill neurons.

One of the symptoms of this disease was first described in 1883 by British ophthalmologist Warren Tay, who saw a cherry-red spot on the back of the eye of affected infants. In 1887, American neurologist Bernard Sachs described the profound neurological symptoms of Tay-Sachs in a seminal paper:

“… Nothing abnormal was noticed until the age of two to three months, when the parents observed that the child was much more listless than children of that age. … The child would ordinarily lay upon its back, and was never able to change its position … it never attempted any voluntary movement … the child grew steadily weaker, it ceased to take its food properly, its bronchial troubles increased, and finally, pneumonia set in, it died August, 1886.”

This dismal description of Tay-Sachs remains current, and those with the disease usually die by age 5. Some people develop Tay-Sachs later in life, with symptoms starting in their teens that get progressively worse over many decades.

This is nothing short of amazing!

The cells that can give you super-immunity

In October 2020, a team of virologists at the Rockefeller University in New York embarked on a year-long project to try and anticipate which dangerous forms of Covid-19 might emerge in future.

While the spectre of new variants was yet to preoccupy the minds of political leaders and citizens around the globe, scientists were keenly aware that Covid-19 would almost certainly mutate in ways that could make it more infectious and virulent.

The aim of Rockefeller's scientists was to create an artificial version of the Covid-19 spike protein – the protein the virus uses to penetrate our cells – that could evade all known types of protective antibodies that had been found in the blood of Covid-19 survivors.

Over the next 12 months, they played around with different combinations of mutations on the surface of the spike protein until they found a set of 20 which appeared to make it particularly resilient to anything the immune system might be able to throw at it. To test this lab-grown "Frankenspike" out, they inserted it into what virologists call a pseudotype virus, one which has been engineered so it does not have enough genetic material to replicate, allowing scientists to tweak it and understand how it behaves without any risk of it escaping.

Initially things played out as expected. When the virologists exposed their newly engineered virus to blood samples taken from people who had either recovered from Covid-19, or been vaccinated against the disease, it expertly eluded every antibody they had.

But then something surprising happened. When they tested it on the blood of people who had recovered from Covid-19 in 2020 and then also been vaccinated many months later, their antibodies were able to bind to the virus and completely neutralise it.

"This was really incredible to see," says Michel Nussenzweig, professor of molecular immunology at the Rockefeller University, and one of the scientists involved in the project. "One of the biggest things we've learnt from the pandemic is how our immune system response differs depending on whether we've been naturally infected, vaccinated, or both." (Of course, this does not mean it's a good idea to become infected intentionally, since every infection comes with risks.)

Please read the whole article before commenting (I know, it's a hard one).

Guinea-Bissau's mystery deepens over drug-trafficking coup plot

At the beginning of the month, it looked like Guinea-Bissau was about to fall victim to what has been called West Africa's coup epidemic, but some are now doubting the official version of events.

Having seen more than a dozen coups or attempted coups since independence in 1974, and being used as a conduit for drug trafficking, news from Guinea-Bissau that people were trying to unseat President Umaro Sissoco Embaló fitted a pattern of instability.

Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso had all recently succumbed to military takeovers and on 1 February armed men shot their way into the government palace in the capital, Bissau.

The 49-year-old president and the cabinet were inside the compound having a meeting.

But after five hours of fighting, which left 11 dead, Mr Embaló said it was all over and linked what he called an attempted takeover to the illegal drugs trade.

Speaking again this week he named three men who had previously been arrested by the US for trying to ship cocaine as being behind the coup attempt.

If you sort out the "believe in God" stuff from the story, it sounds pretty credible.

'Paying ransom for freedom': How cash bail is keeping Black mothers stuck in prisons

In December, JaCari Letchaw’s dog wandered to a neighbor’s house, where it gave birth to puppies. Letchaw says when she tried to retrieve her dog and the puppies, a dispute broke out over who was the rightful owner of the puppies. She walked away, but later that night the Black single mother of five was arrested and eventually sent to Jefferson County’s jail in Birmingham, Alabama.

Her bail was set at $60,000 for a first-degree robbery charge. It was far more than she could afford; her most recent job had paid only $14 an hour. The monetary difference meant Letchaw would have to wait in jail until her trial started — which could be months away.

“I absolutely had no idea how I was going to pay my bail. There was no way possible. Sitting in there, I even lost my job,” Letchaw told NBC News.

She also almost lost her house while awaiting trial in jail for two weeks. She was only able to return home after a local social justice organization, Faith and Works, posted her bail on Christmas Day through its fund, In Defense of Black Lives. The group has a relationship with Birmingham’s sheriff’s department, which referred her case.

Cash bail is immoral, not to mention the amounts cited in this story are RIDICULOUS

MAGA Extremists Slam Super Bowl Halftime Show as 'Satanic'

It’s that time of year again for the Super Bowl halftime show and while the 2022 lineup of Dr. Dre, Snoop, Mary J. Blige and Eminem reads to most fans like a warm and fuzzy 1990s nostalgia bath, “to hear certain conservative commentators describe it,” notes Fever Dreams co-host Kelly Weill, “this Super Bowl is ripe for Satanism.”

With Stop-the-Steal fanatics like Arizona wingnut Wendy Rogers hyperventilating that the Super Bowl show exposes children to “evil, wicked, Satanic” things (her words), there’s a very real “performance-related Satanic Panic that’s been brewing for a little while now in the U.S.,” Weill says, adding that the same fears bubbled up after the deadly Travis Scott concert at Astroworld in December. Of course it’s not hard to map the influence of QAnon onto the latest anti-Super Bowl crusade, nor the longstanding backlash from the right when Black artists perform at the halftime show (like when Beyonce’s backup dancers were criticized as supposed Trojan horses for Communism).

In fact, this backlash “happens every time there’s a major Black artist performing at the Super Bowl,” Weill points out. “They’re not explicitly linked but somehow whenever a Black artist takes the field… it’s evil, it’s Satanic, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that the people pushing the Travis Scott Satanic Panic conspiracy theories were also not reacting one of the most popular Black artists of the current moment.”

In any case, and perhaps proving the point, as podcast co-host Asawin Suebsaeng points out, Snoop Dogg and Dre are way less Satanic than Aerosmith’s 2001 halftime show with Britney Spears.

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