24 June 2019

Trump Is Still Not the Deporter in Chief

There has been a lot of outrage over how DoJ Lawyer Sarah Fabian has been saying that children in detention do not need mattress, or soap, or toothbrushes or real blankets in detention facilities kept so cold that they are nicknamed "Refrigerators".

Well, it turns out that she's done worse things.

In particular, she argued for putting children in solitary confinement under the Obama administration:

The United States’s loathsome argument—that it is “safe and sanitary” to confine children without soap, toothbrushes, dry clothes, and on concrete under bright lights—is morally indefensible. It’s also a spectacularly foolish argument to raise in the famously liberal Ninth Circuit, where the United States should have expected exactly the reception that it got. And even though the litigation began under the Obama administration, it was the Trump administration that elected to bring this appeal and ask the court to bless these inhumane conditions as “safe and sanitary.” That’s an extremely aggressive legal argument, and one that suggests that the disturbing conditions being reported at confinement centers are intentional, not a sign of mere neglect.

It is right and fit to condemn the Trump administration for its argument and its treatment of children. But it’s wrong to think the problem can be cured with a presidential election. Trump will depart; the problem will not depart with him. This administration is merely the latest one to subject immigrant children to abusive conditions. It’s been 35 years since Jenny Flores was strip-searched in an adult facility. Before Sarah Fabian defended concrete floors and bright lights for President Donald Trump, she defended putting kids in solitary confinement for President Barack Obama.
Remember, the UN has defined solitary confinement as torture, and the DoJ, and ICE, and CBP asked the courts to allow them to torture children with solitary confinement in 2015:
The Department of (in) Justice recently submitted a motion in opposition to a lawsuit filed by mothers and their children who want ICE to stop torturing their children by placing them in solitary confinement.

The DOJ now can be called the DOIJ for its monstrous defense and advocacy for the following policy:
ICE also has family residential standards that govern discipline and cover, among other things, a situation where a resident has participated in the offense of “insurrection,” which is defined as “[p]articipation or encouraging another to participate in unauthorized activity such as protesting or rioting.” See ICE/DRO Residential Standard, Discipline and Behavior Management, at 17, attached hereto as Exhibit O.6
The ICE disciplinary standards state that their purpose is to “provide a safe and orderly living environment” at ICE family residential facilities, and to “manage discipline and behavioral problems in a manner that ensures the safety and welfare of staff, residents, and visitors.” Exhibit O at 1. “Insurrection” is considered a major offense at ICE family residential facilities, and under the standards requires separation from the general population. Id. at 16-17. Medical observation rooms may be used to facilitate this separation.
In other words, if a mother protests or encourages another to protest, DOJ,  led by the lawyer-warrior in favor of locking up toddlers and children, Sarah B. Fabian, ICE has a right to punish the mothers’ children with solitary confinement.
I would note that the pace of deportations under the Obama administration are still outpaced by those of the Obama administration.

There is a special place in hell for both of them.

Not the Mother-F%$#ing Onion

I was reading this web comic, and I thought that this is some seriously f%$#ed up sh%$.

And then I realized that there is no element of parody involved in this.

We live in Bizarro World.

Good News From Istanbul

In March, Turkey's Islamist AKP suffered major setbacks. 

Most significantly was that, for the first time in over a decade, they narrowly lost the election for Mayor, which did not just a political earthquake, but would eliminate the party's control over patronage in Turkey's largest city.

 Faced with this treat, Erdoğan petitioned electoral commission to invalidate and re-run the elections, and the commission, being largely a tool of Erdoğan did so.

Well, in the new elections, Ekrem İmamoğlu defeated the AKP candidate in a land slide:
Turkey’s opposition has won a high-stakes rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election, a serious blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and a landmark victory in a country where many feared democracy was failing.

Shortly after initial results pointing to a landslide win for the opposition coalition candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, emerged on Sunday evening, the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), Binali Yıldırım, conceded and congratulated his rival.

The repeat election, designed to undo İmamoğlu’s narrow surprise win in the 31 March contest, was an unprecedented test for both Turkey’s fragile democratic institutions and Erdoğan’s political future.


The president issued his congratulations to İmamoğlu on Twitter after initial results showed that with 99% of ballots counted the People’s Republican party (CHP) candidate had increased his lead in March, of 13,000 votes, to an astonishing 777,000, or 54%.

Crowded parties broke out on Istanbul’s main shopping streets and in liberal neighbourhoods.
I rather hope that this is the beginning the end for Erdoğan, btu I rather imagine that the this is the point where the opposition begins fighting with each other.


Yes, this is a very young Peter Capaldi:

23 June 2019

Tweet of the Day

Seriously, the Tories have some seriously f%$#ed up priorities.

We are Unbelievably Screwed

Permafrost in Canada is melting at a rate faster than the most alarmist models predicted:
Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.

A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilised the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.

“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.“


The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analysing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned cold war-era radar base more than 300km from the nearest human settlement.

Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognisable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.

The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.


Even if current commitments to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris agreement are implemented, the world is still far from averting the risk that these kinds of feedback loops will trigger runaway warming, according to models used by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
 We are in for a world of hurt.

This is a Feature, Not a Bug

Elon Musk thinks that he is this.

He is actually this.

And the polling
It turns out that of all the names given to driver assistance technology, Autopilot is the one most likely to cause over-reliance on the tech.

This is not a surprise. Overselling the feature, and generally overselling the features of his car, has been central to the business plan for Tesla Motors.
Does the name "Autopilot" cause people to overestimate the abilities of Tesla's driver-assistance technology? It's a question that comes up in the Ars comments almost every time we write about the feature.

Critics warn that some customers will assume something called "Autopilot" is fully self-driving. Tesla's defenders counter by pointing out that autopilot capabilities in planes aren't fully autonomous. Pilots still have to monitor their operation and intervene if they have a problem, and Tesla's Autopilot system is no different.

A new survey from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety brings some valuable hard data to this debate. The group asked drivers questions about the capabilities of five advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). They identified the products only by their brand name—"Autopilot," "Traffic Jam Assist," "Super Cruise," etc. Survey participants were not told which carmaker made each product, and they did not learn the capabilities of the products. There were 2,000 total respondents, but each was asked about only two out of five systems, leading to a few hundred responses for each product.


For example, 48 percent of drivers said that it was safe for a driver to take their hands off the wheel when Autopilot is active, compared with around 33 percent for ProPilot Assist and less than 30 percent for the other systems named. Six percent of drivers said it was safe to take a nap in a car with Autopilot, while only three percent said the same for other ADAS systems.
Tesla further compounds this issue by promising that full autonomous driving will be available in a matter of the next few months.

This, and Theranos, is what happens when the Silicon Valley, "Fake it Until You Make It," is applied to the real world.

This is Insanely Cool Tech

Someone has come up with a method of engraving riblets on the surface of aircraft using laser interference patterns.

Riblets are (very) tiny grooves carved in the surface of an aircraft to reduce skin drag:
A process to automatically laser drag-reducing riblets onto the painted surfaces of aircraft has been developed by two German companies, laser surface treatment specialist 4JET and aircraft paint supplier Mankiewicz.

The Laser Enhanced Air Flow (LEAF) technology uses laser interference patterning to rapidly create fine streamwise grooves in the paint topcoat. These microscopic grooves, or riblets, have long been known to reduce viscous drag from turbulent flow over aircraft surfaces.

Riblets have been proven to reduce drag by up to 10%, for fuel savings on long-haul airliners of more than 1%, the companies say. Ways of exploiting this benefit have been previously developed, from covering the airframe with grooved plastic film to embossing riblets into the topcoat during painting. But issues from accessibility to durability have so far prevented adoption.

Removing paint using lasers is a well-known technology, but is too slow to create the high density of riblets required to achieve drag reductions, the companies say. Instead of creating the grooves line-by-line using a single laser spot, 4JET says it has developed a way to speed up the process by a factor of 500 using laser interference patterning.

The laser beam is split into two and recombined on the surface so that the light waves overlap in a controlled way. This superposition creates a pattern with dozens of equidistant lines with alternating high and low intensity within a single laser spot. This allows about 1 m³ (35 ft.³) of riblet area to be created in less than 1 min., the companies say.
Way to think outside of the box.

22 June 2019

They Are Concentration Camps

From any reasonable historical perspective, the ICE detention facilities are concentration camps, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has stated. (Above link to a Jewish historian saying same)

The Germans adopted the term "Concentration Camp" for their camps, which were better described as death camps, because it put a civilized gloss on what was a barbaric enterprise.
This week, conservatives weaponized Jewish suffering to divert discussion from the massive human rights abuses occurring at our border.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of the man who called torture “enhanced interrogation,” scolded Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for using the term “concentration camp” to describe the growing civilian detention system, including the reopening of Fort Sill, previously a Japanese American internment camp, to hold children.

Since then, Jews have split on whether it’s appropriate to use “concentration camp” outside the context of the Holocaust. There are those who find the term too emotionally charged, or who believe the sheer scale of the Nazi Final Solution bars any possible comparison.

Though I disagree, I understand. My father turned seven on June 22, 1941, the day the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. I was raised with the story of how my grandmother saved my dad and aunt with her quick thinking and a cramped spot on a cattle train leaving Odessa for Siberia. Those who remained were shot. As a Jew, I bear witness to the memory of those who did not survive.

I’m also a legal historian, and my research on genocide and crimes against humanity has made clear that while the Holocaust is unique in its scale and implementation, the perpetrators and motivations are not. Genocide is a human crime, not a German one. In the wake of World War II, human rights laws were written in the hopes of preventing future tragedies, not for labeling the past.
You can also listen to George Takei, who spent much of the World War II in US concentration camps:

I have not yet had the opportunity to discuss this with a relative who spent much of WWII in a Japanese concentration camp in the Philippines, but I hope to.

But Markets………

It turns out that the massive Southern California Gas leak in 2015 and 2016 was the direct consequence of its negligence and deception.

For some people, this could be seen as an argument for much more aggressive regulation of privately owned utilities, though I see it as an even stronger argument for public ownership of utilities:
For 111 days in 2015 and 2016, more than 100,000 metric tons of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – and other harmful chemicals leaked into the atmosphere from the blowout of well SS-25 at SoCalGas’s Aliso Canyon underground gas storage facility in Los Angeles. The blowout forced the evacuation of more than 8,300 households. Residents exposed to the gas reported nosebleeds, dizziness, and respiratory problems. More than three years later, many report severe health effects.

In May 2019, an independent report commissioned by the California Public Utilities Commission put the blame for this disaster squarely on SoCalGas. In other words, SoCalGas, the largest natural gas provider in the nation, brought us the largest methane leak disaster in United States history.


SoCalGas’s disregard for safety was not an aberration. The independent report identifies more than 60 leaks at Aliso Canyon going back to the 1970s that SoCalGas chose not to investigate. Forty percent of the wells at Aliso Canyon reviewed in the report had past failures in the casing that enclose the wells and prevent leaks, with an average of two failures per well. According to the report, SoCalGas knew of these leaks and failures but neglected to conduct detailed inspections or evaluate for disaster potential.


In addition to finding negligence, the report also found incompetence. According to the report, SoCalGas should have been able to plug the blowout at SS-25 much sooner. SoCalGas, however, did not conduct the correct modeling in its attempts to plug the leak. Instead, SoCalGas used the exact same strategy in its six unsuccessful attempts. A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein is appropriate here: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If SoCalGas had competently conducted the correct modeling from the outset, the report finds that SoCalGas could have plugged SS-25 as early as November 13, 2015 — 90 days before SoCalGas actually plugged the well.
It's really time for California, and the rest of the nation, to make public ownership of utilities less difficult.

21 June 2019

Mixed Emotions

I am happy that Donald Trump has not initiated military strikes against Iran in response to the shoot-down of Droney McDroneface, but the fact that he called for them, and then reversed himself, is not reassuring:

President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.


The retaliation plan was intended as a response to the shooting down of the unmanned, $130 million surveillance drone, which was struck Thursday morning by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, according to a senior administration official who was briefed on the military planning and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential plans.

The strike was set to take place just before dawn Friday in Iran to minimize risk to the Iranian military and civilians.
My thought go out to the grieving family of Droney, but the air-strike was a bad idea to begin with, and my guess is that it came from the fevered brain of NSC Chairman John Bolton, who would do or say anything to get his war on.

Totally F%$#ing Evil

The Trump administration's plan to reduce poverty in the United States is to redefine poverty so far down that starvation won't count as poverty:
In early May, the Office of Management and Budget announced that it was seeking public comments on a proposal to change how inflation and the consumer price index are calculated, and, by extension, how poverty rates in the United States are estimated.


Now, however, the Trump administration looks set to head off in the exact opposite direction. It has come up with a proposal to measure inflation by a “chained consumer price index,” which will most likely take millions of people who were previously considered by the government to be living in poverty, and declare that suddenly, magically, they are no longer poor.

The chained consumer price index is a particularly cautious way of measuring inflation: On a monthly basis, it tries to factor in how people change their consumption patterns in response to price spikes or changes in technology. If, for example, car prices significantly increased, but in response, vastly more people used public transport and thus weren’t as impacted by the industry-specific inflation, it would factor that in and reduce the price increase’s overall impact on the inflation rate.

In theory, that’s all well and good — except for the fact that poor people tend to be less flexible in their spending patterns than more affluent Americans. In recent years, economists have found that poor people actually experience higher rates of inflation than do those with more disposable income. If gas prices go up, for example, a middle-class American might choose to counter that impact by purchasing a hybrid or electric car; a poor person likely won’t have the down-payment or the monthly income needed to purchase a new vehicle and will thus be stuck with the old gas guzzler.
Of course, this is also something that the Obama administration proposed, only to retreat when  opposition to this scheme exploded, so while it's completely evil, it's by no means unprecedented.

America's Finest News Source

Bolton Argues War With Iran Only Way To Avenge Americans Killed In Upcoming War With Iran
The Onion
Seriously, Nostradamus has nothing on The Onion.

Ajit Pai Isn't Even Trying to Hide His Evil Agenda

For his latest trick, Ajit Pai is going to propose banning competition between ISPs in large buildings, because, of course, the free market must be protected from ……… checks notes ……… the free market:
The Federal Communications Commission will vote next month on whether to preempt a San Francisco city ordinance that was designed to promote broadband competition in multi-unit buildings.

San Francisco's Article 52, approved in December 2016, lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multi-unit residential and commercial properties even if the wiring is already used by another ISP that serves the building. San Francisco's Board of Supervisors and then-Mayor Ed Lee approved it in order to spur competition in multi-unit buildings where occupants often have only one option for Internet service.

The ordinance only applies when the inside wiring belongs to the property owner. Under the rule, property owners who have outfitted their buildings with Internet wiring cannot deny access to ISPs, making it harder for them to strike exclusive deals with Internet providers.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's new proposal would preempt San Francisco's rule to the extent that it requires sharing of in-use wiring in multi-tenant buildings and complexes. Pai claimed in a blog post Tuesday that the city's rule "deters broadband deployment" and has scheduled the preemption for a vote at the FCC's July 10 meeting.

Despite its primary goal of eliminating a rule that gives ISPs access to multi-unit buildings, Pai's proposal is titled, "Improving Competitive Broadband Access to Multi-Tenant Environments." In addition to immediately preempting the San Francisco ordinance, the proposal seeks public comment on other "actions the Commission could take to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks and services within" multi-tenant complexes. Any further rule changes coming from this proceeding likely wouldn't involve sharing of infrastructure, as the Pai plan argues that ISPs "are less likely to invest in deployment" if they know they have to share network components with other providers.

"People pay $40 a month for gigabit fiber service here, and we have a small handful of not-Comcast/AT&T ISPs that compete for customers thanks to the SF ordinance. That's the 'problem' the FCC is trying to fix," Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon, who frequently writes about broadband competition, wrote on Twitter.

When San Francisco passed its rule, the city argued that property owners were sidestepping a federal law that "bans property owners, landlords, and property managers from entering into exclusive agreements with service providers."
That sound that you hear is George Orwell spinning in his grave at 3600 RPM.

First Rule of Being in a Hole: Stop Digging

When Joe Biden talked about how civility allowed him to work with white supremacist Senator James Eastland early in his career, he neglected that they were working together to resegregate schools:
Joe Biden was a freshman senator, the youngest member of the august body, when he reached out to an older colleague for help on one of his early legislative proposals: The courts were ordering racially segregated school districts to bus children to create more integrated classrooms, a practice Biden opposed and wanted to change.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The recipient of Biden’s entreaty was Sen. James O. Eastland, at the time a well-known segregationist who had called blacks “an inferior race” and once vowed to prevent blacks and whites from eating together in Washington. The exchange, revealed in a series of letters, offers a new glimpse into an old relationship that erupted this week as a major controversy for Biden’s presidential campaign.

Biden on Wednesday night described his relationship with Eastland as one he “had to put up with.” He said of his relationships with Eastland and another staunch segregationist and southern Democrat, Sen. Herman Talmadge of Georgia, that “the fact of the matter is that we were able to do it because we were able to win — we were able to beat them on everything they stood for.”

But the letters show a different type of relationship, one in which they were aligned on a legislative issue. Biden said at the time that he did not think that busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware and that systemic racism should be dealt with by investing in schools and improving housing policies.


Biden’s Wednesday remarks sparked one of the sharpest intra-Democrat exchanges of the campaign, when Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), one of his 2020 rivals and an African American, criticized both Biden’s work with segregationists and the language that he used in describing it.

On Wednesday, Biden called Booker. Biden’s campaign also distributed talking points to supporters emphasizing that Eastland and Talmadge “were people who he fundamentally disagreed with on the issue of civil rights.” Late Thursday, the former vice president met with a small group that included black members of Congress, one of the participants said.


It was in that context that he courted the support of Eastland — at the time the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — as well as other senators.

In one letter, on March 2, 1977, Biden outlined legislation he was filing to restrict busing practices.

“My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court ordered busing,” he wrote to Eastland. “It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate.”

“I believe there is growing sentiment in the Congress to curb unnecessary busing,” he added. The Senate two years earlier had passed a Biden amendment that prohibited the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from ordering busing to achieve school integration.

“That was the first time the U.S. Senate took a firm stand in opposition to busing,” Biden wrote. “The Supreme Court seems to have recognized that busing simply cannot be justified in cases where state and local officials intended no discrimination.”

In later letters to Eastland, Biden continued pushing his legislation.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The next year, he continued to push for antibusing legislation and again wrote to Eastland.

“Since your support was essential to having our bill reported out by the Judiciary Committee, I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions,” Biden wrote on Aug. 22, 1978. “Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.”
It's not just his decades long opposition to school desegregation, it's his demagoguing crime bills and the war on drugs, etc. as well, and that ignores his record as the Senator from MasterCard.

We really do not need another sh%$ show candidate running against Trump.