Today has been one of those days. It started out OK but then I had to go for my quarterly fasting blood tests. It’s a diabetic thing. Something that usually takes 20 minutes took 1.5 hours and by the end, I was well into low blood sugars. Fortunately, I had my glucose tablets so half an hour later, I was fine. Back to the keyboard, and don’t you know that I kept losing the Open Thread. After 4-5 tries (I lost count), I’m going to go direct to publish. If you see a low flying unpublished Open Thread, shoot it!
Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:58 (average 4:38). To do it, click here. How did you do?
The Hill — The House voted Thursday to give GOP leaders flexibility next week in fast-tracking a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
Democrats protested over the move, known as martial law, which allows the House to consider a rule that establishes procedural guidelines for debating legislation on the same day it is produced by the House Committee on Rules.
Under normal circumstances, the House must wait a day before conducting a floor vote on a rule reported out of the committee.
House GOP leaders routinely deploy martial law around tight legislative deadlines. However, Democrats have not always forced the House to conduct a roll-call vote to adopt it.
Four Republicans joined all Democrats in opposing the rule change in the 237-187 vote: Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.).
They are at it again! Republicans using anything and everything to get their agenda done.
Alternet — It’s a scenario straight out of The X-Files: A prehistoric pathogen, isolated for millennia in Arctic ice, comes to light in the modern world.
The catch is that it’s not science fiction—and thanks to the great Arcticthaw, the discovery suggests an emerging public health worry unless nations sharply cut fossil fuel use in the next few decades.
French scientists announced this week that working in the lab, they have found a “giant virus” in a 30,000-year-old sample of permafrost from Siberia.
It is the second giant virus isolated from the same permafrost sample in two years. The team found each one by infecting Acanthamoeba, a common contemporary protozoan, with viral material from the sample.
Yet another reason that we need to do everything possible to slow and stop global warming. I remember watching a series episode where this very thing happened. My reaction then . . . yeh, right. My reaction now . . . oh crap!
The Guardian — The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has said Russia has proposed talks between the two countries’ militaries on the situation in Syria, apparently in response to Washington’s concern over reports of a Russian military buildup there.
Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov made the offer during a phone call on Wednesday, said Kerry, adding that he was in favour of such contacts because the US wants a better idea of what Russia’s current intentions are in Syria. Kerry said Lavrov had told him Russia was only interested in fighting the Islamic State militants.
This and the following article are related. Yesterday while driving, I heard the briefest of notes, almost a footnote to the days events — Russia aproaches the US about the civil war in Syria and the war with ISIL. OK, they got me hooked. So the Guardian article is more about the coming together against ISIL while the Slate article is more about Russia's motives. I am sure that Putin will find fertile ground in a Republican dominated Congress should he decide to pull a "Netanyahu".
Slate — A few weeks ago, I noted that with Russia’s economy sagging under the weight of both international sanctions and low oil prices, and the situation in Ukraine mired in stalemate, Vladimir Putin’s government was badly in need of a new foreign crisis in which the president could demonstrate decisive leadership. As it turns out, that crisis has been found not in the Baltics or the Arctic but in Syria, where Russia, in recent weeks, has launched both a military build-up and a diplomatic offensive.
The Pentagon says that Russia, one of the main international backers of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been building up its military forces in Syria, setting up a forward operating base near the northern coastal city of Latakia and using an air corridor over Iran and Iraq to fly in military equipment and personnel. Defense officials have compared the operation to the build-up of Russian forces in Crimea prior to the 2014 annexation.
My Universe — h/t JL — This is my version of heaven . . . absolutely purrfect!