26 January 2020

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Liberals Say Sanders’s Acceptance Of Rogan Endorsement Sends Dangerous Message He Trying To Win Election
The Onion
Truly, The Onion abides.

They Are Completely Losing Their Sh%$

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo completely lost his sh%$ with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly.
I'm beginning to think that Trump's minions are coming to realize that they are going down with the ship:
In his brief interview Friday with NPR host Mary Louise Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about a couple of pressing issues. On the State Department’s inexcusable failure to stand up for ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — victim of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s Ukraine pressure campaign — Pompeo told Kelly, “I’ve defended every single person on this team.”

On Iran, Pompeo said, “This is a regime that has been working to develop its nuclear program for years and years and years. And the nuclear deal guaranteed them a pathway to having a nuclear program.”

The most telling part of the interview, however, was nonverbal: “Immediately after the questions on Ukraine, the interview concluded. Pompeo stood, leaned in and silently glared at Kelly for several seconds before leaving the room," notes the NPR account of the interview.

The secretary of state, a man entrusted with spreading and maintaining the good will of the United States throughout the world, is now on record as menacing an NPR co-host of “All Things Considered.”

Then the proceedings moved to insults. An aide invited Kelly into Pompeo’s private living room at the State Department. "Inside the room, Pompeo shouted his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly, and asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He then said, ‘People will hear about this.’”

Kelly provided a more thorough account in a chat with colleague Ari Shapiro:

Moments later the same staffer who had stopped the interview reappeared, asked me to come with her, just me — no recorder, though she did not say we were off the record, nor would I have agreed. I was taken to the secretary’s private living room, where he was waiting and where he shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself had lasted. He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine. He asked ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the 'f' word in that sentence and many others. He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map. I said yes. He called out for his aides to bring out a map of the world with no writing, no countries marked. I pointed to Ukraine, he put the map away. He said, ‘People will hear about this.’
I'm beginning to think that Donald Trump's state of the Union is going to resemble Captain Queeg's meltdown in The Caine Mutiny.

The Republicans, of course, will ignore this, and pretend that everything is normal, just like they are pretending that Pompeo's meltdown is somehow the fault of a biased media.

Oh, Snap

It appears that in John Bolton's book, he explicitly states that Donald Trump withheld aid to the Ukraine to coerce an investigation of political rivals:
President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.

Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

………

Over dozens of pages, Mr. Bolton described how the Ukraine affair unfolded over several months until he departed the White House in September. He described not only the president’s private disparagement of Ukraine but also new details about senior cabinet officials who have publicly tried to sidestep involvement.

………

The White House did not provide responses to questions about Mr. Bolton’s assertions, and representatives for Mr. Johnson, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney did not respond to emails and calls seeking comment on Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Bolton’s lawyer blamed the White House for the disclosure of the book’s contents. “It is clear, regrettably, from the New York Times article published today that the pre-publication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript,” the lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, said Sunday night.

He said he provided a copy of the book to the White House on Dec. 30 — 12 days after Mr. Trump was impeached — to be reviewed for classified information, though, he said, Mr. Bolton believed it contained none.

………

Mr. Bolton would like to testify for several reasons, according to associates. He believes he has relevant information, and he has also expressed concern that if his account of the Ukraine affair emerges only after the trial, he will be accused of holding back to increase his book sales.

………

Mr. Bolton also described other key moments in the pressure campaign, including Mr. Pompeo’s private acknowledgment to him last spring that Mr. Giuliani’s claims about Ms. Yovanovitch had no basis and that Mr. Giuliani may have wanted her removed because she might have been targeting his clients who had dealings in Ukraine as she sought to fight corruption.
This has got to be a bit awkward for Trump, McConnell, and their Evil Minions.

25 January 2020

Same Sh%$ Different Name

One of the selling points of the F-35 Lightning II is its prognostics based maintenance system.

Unfortunately, this has turned into a completely non-functional sh%$ show.

In response, Lockheed and the Pentagon have given the system a new name, and started back at square one on the software.

To quote Albert Einstein, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."
The US military is dumping its Autonomous Logistics Information System (ALIS) in favour of ODIN as it tries to break with the complex past of its ailing F-35 fighter jet maintenance IT suite.

ALIS is the software suite that comes bundled with the F-35 fighter jet. A Lockheed Martin product, ALIS is intended to be a proactive maintenance suite: it tracks the health of each jet, tells supply systems when to order parts and tells maintainers what needs doing and when.

At least, that was the theory. Instead the all-encompassing suite has become so unwieldy and problem-ridden that the US armed forces are ditching it in favour of a new thing called ODIN, or Operational Data Integrated Network.

………

Far from meeting its originally envisioned role, ALIS was so bad that the US Government Accountability Office, an auditor similar to Britain's National Audit Office, reckoned one US Air Force unit wasted 45,000 working hours per year working around ALIS's shortcomings. In 2018, US Marine Corps station Beaufort was suffering spare part shortages of up to two years, thanks to ALIS making a hash of its spare part systems.
So, you have the same folks who made a complete dogs breakfast out of maintaining the F-35 are going to start from square one, with the same people, and make it all better.

Seriously?

This is Incredibly F%$#ed Up

Now that the majority of Iraq wants the US troops gone, the US State Security Apparatus wants to carve out a Sunni rump state so that they can continue basing troops there.

This is unbelievably f%$#ing stupid:
Backed into a corner and influence waning, the United States has in recent weeks been promoting a plan to create an autonomous Sunni region in western Iraq, officials from both countries told Middle East Eye.

The US efforts, the officials say, come in response to Shia Iraqi parties’ attempts to expel American troops from their country.

Iraq represents a strategic land bridge between Iran and its allies in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

Establishing a US-controlled Sunni buffer zone in western Iraq would deprive Iran of using land routes into Syria and prevent it from reaching the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

For Washington, the idea of carving out a Sunni region dates back to a 2007 proposition by Joe Biden, who is now vying to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.

It was hoped that the scheme could tighten US control over Iraq and provide protection for Sunnis during the 2006-08 sectarian civil conflict, in which tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis from both the Sunni and Shia communities were slaughtered.

But opposition to Iraq being divided along sectarian and ethnic lines, as well as Americans’ insistence on keeping the country united, has postponed attempts at its implementation.

Now efforts to expel US troops have breathed new life into the project, and the creation of a Sunni region is just one of the options being considered by Washington to counter Iranian pressure, a top Iraqi Shia official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told MEE.

Iraqi unity “is no longer a priority now for the US,” the Shia official said.

“If the Americans reach a dead-end in terms of the presence of their forces in Iraq, they will work to implement this project vigorously.”

A former US official familiar with the project confirmed that the Americans have worked on "taking this project out of the drawer and putting it on the table".

“The creation of a Sunni region has always been an option for the US. The Iranians cannot be allowed to reach the Mediterranean Sea or benefit from the land bridge connecting them to Hezbollah” in Lebanon, the former US official told MEE.

"The project is American, not Sunni. The presence of the American forces has been the guarantor for the Sunnis and the Kurds, so if the US has to leave Iraq, then establishing a Sunni region in western Iraq is its plan to curb Iran and its arms in the Middle East,” he added.

“We are talking about establishing a country, not an administrative region.”
Seriously, what passes for the conventional wisdom among the US defense and foreign policy establishment is remarkably stupid.

If He Does This, then F%$# the Senate Seat, He has to Go

In an attempt to create some legitimacy to what is almost certainly going to be a Senate acquittal, Trump and his Evil Minions are to get Joe Manchin to vote against impeachment.

If Joe Manchin flips, his career needs to be ended:
President Trump and White House officials are looking for at least one Senate Democrat to vote against removing the president from office at the end of his impeachment trial, and they see Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) as the most likely candidate.

Trump took particular pride that three House Democrats voted against his impeachment, White House officials said, and he would like to be able to get at least one Senate Democrat to vote for his acquittal so he can claim the decision was bipartisan.

Manchin has sided with Trump on tough votes before, such as the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. But voting to acquit the president would be an even more politically charged decision, one that could help him maintain his reputation as a moderate back home but would probably make him a pariah within his own party.
For his Kavanaugh vote, he should ALREADY be a pariah.

For his string pulling for his pharma executive looter daughter, he should ALREADY be a pariah.

Still, if he flips on this, he needs to be gone.  Period, full stop.

24 January 2020

More of This Too

John Stumpf, the disgraced former CEO of Wells Fargo, has been banned from the banking industry for life.

I'd like to see jail time, but this is a more aggressive pursuit of criminal bankers than we have seen in a long time:
Banking regulators pursuing what they describe as “systemic” misconduct in sales practices at Wells Fargo have reached an agreement with former chief executive John Stumpf that bars him from the banking industry and fines him $17.5 million.

The regulators continue to pursue civil charges, fines and prohibitions against five other executives for an array of oversight failures and deceptive methods at the bank.

The misconduct affected millions of bank customers from 2002 to 2016, according to a statement by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which sought the charges. The regulators have found, among other things, millions of accounts opened for customers without their knowledge.

While the deceptive practices were carried out by salespeople, regulators said the executives caused the problems by pushing staff to meet unreasonable sales goals and turning a blind eye to the deception.
This is weak tea, but it is still a lot more than the team of Eric "Place" Holder and Timothy "Eddie Haskell" Geithner ever did.

Seriously, we need to stop the looting, and start prosecuting.

Not Only Choking the World, Making the World Glow in the Dark.

I am referring, of course, to the the oil and gas industry, which has taken to spreading highly radioactive well waste water on roads, and selling it as a deicer.

Seriously, energy companies exceed my imagination for rat-f%$#ery:
………

One day in 2017, Peter pulled up to an injection well in Cambridge, Ohio. A worker walked around his truck with a hand-held radiation detector, he says, and told him he was carrying one of the “hottest loads” he’d ever seen. It was the first time Peter had heard any mention of the brine being radioactive.

The Earth’s crust is in fact peppered with radioactive elements that concentrate deep underground in oil-and-gas-bearing layers. This radioactivity is often pulled to the surface when oil and gas is extracted — carried largely in the brine.………

Through a grassroots network of Ohio activists, Peter was able to transfer 11 samples of brine to the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University, which had them tested in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. The results were striking.

Radium, typically the most abundant radionuclide in brine, is often measured in picocuries per liter of substance and is so dangerous it’s subject to tight restrictions even at hazardous-waste sites. The most common isotopes are radium-226 and radium-228, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires industrial discharges to remain below 60 for each. Four of Peter’s samples registered combined radium levels above 3,500, and one was more than 8,500.

………

Peter’s samples are just a drop in the bucket. Oil fields across the country — from the Bakken in North Dakota to the Permian in Texas — have been found to produce brine that is highly radioactive. “All oil-field workers,” says Fairlie, “are radiation workers.” But they don’t necessarily know it.

………

Tanks, filters, pumps, pipes, hoses, and trucks that brine touches can all become contaminated, with the radium building up into hardened “scale,” concentrating to as high as 400,000 picocuries per gram. With fracking — which involves sending pressurized fluid deep underground to break up layers of shale — there is dirt and shattered rock, called drill cuttings, that can also be radioactive. But brine can be radioactive whether it comes from a fracked or conventional well; the levels vary depending on the geological formation, not drilling method. Colorado and Wyoming seem to have lower radioactive signatures, while the Marcellus shale, underlying Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, has tested the highest. Radium in its brine can average around 9,300 picocuries per liter, but has been recorded as high as 28,500. “If I had a beaker of that on my desk and accidentally dropped it on the floor, they would shut the place down,” says Yuri Gorby, a microbiologist who spent 15 years studying radioactivity with the Department of Energy. “And if I dumped it down the sink, I could go to jail.”

………

In an investigation involving hundreds of interviews with scientists, environmentalists, regulators, and workers, Rolling Stone found a sweeping arc of contamination — oil-and-gas waste spilled, spread, and dumped across America, posing under-studied risks to the environment, the public, and especially the industry’s own employees. There is little public awareness of this enormous waste stream, the disposal of which could present dangers at every step — from being transported along America’s highways in unmarked trucks; handled by workers who are often misinformed and underprotected; leaked into waterways; and stored in dumps that are not equipped to contain the toxicity. Brine has even been used in commercial products sold at hardware stores and is spread on local roads as a de-icer.

………

he levels of radium in Louisiana oil pipes had registered as much as 20,000 times the limits set by the EPA for topsoil at uranium-mill waste sites. Templet found that workers who were cleaning oil-field piping were being coated in radioactive dust and breathing it in. One man they tested had radioactivity all over his clothes, his car, his front steps, and even on his newborn baby. The industry was also spewing waste into coastal waterways, and radioactivity was shown to accumulate in oysters. Pipes still laden with radioactivity were donated by the industry and reused to build community playgrounds. Templet sent inspectors with Geiger counters across southern Louisiana. One witnessed a kid sitting on a fence made from piping so radioactive they were set to receive a full year’s radiation dose in an hour. “People thought getting these pipes for free from the oil industry was such a great deal,” says Templet, “but essentially the oil companies were just getting rid of their waste.”
Oh, yeah, the oil companies are literally disposing of radioactive waste on playgrounds.

This is a complete mind f%$#.
Radioactive oil-and-gas waste is purposely spread on roadways around the country. The industry pawns off brine — offering it for free — on rural townships that use the salty solution as a winter de-icer and, in the summertime, as a dust tamper on unpaved roads.

………

“There is nothing to remediate it with,” says Avner Vengosh, a Duke University geochemist. “The high radioactivity in the soil at some of these sites will stay forever.” Radium-226 has a half-life of 1,600 years. The level of uptake into agricultural crops grown in contaminated soil is unknown because it hasn’t been adequately studied.

………

But the new buzzword in the oil-and-gas industry is “beneficial use” — transforming oil-and-gas waste into commercial products, like pool salts and home de-icers. In June 2017, an official with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources entered a Lowe’s Home Center in Akron and purchased a turquoise jug of a liquid de-icer called AquaSalina, which is made with brine from conventional wells. Used for home patios, sidewalks, and driveways — “Safe for Environment & Pets,” the label touts — AquaSalina was found by a state lab to contain radium at levels as high as 2,491 picocuries per liter. Stolz, the Duquesne scientist, also had the product tested and found radium levels registered about 1,140 picocuries per liter.

………

Mansbery said that he tested for heavy metals and saw “no red flags.” Asked if he tested for radioactive elements, he stated, “We test as required by the state law and regulatory agencies.”
Mr. Mansbery needs to be in jail, so do a lot of other people who are a part of this atrocity.

Finally, a Conviction


He was convicted of racketeering.

I think that the  Billy Ray Valentine principle, "You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people," should apply.

He's been convicted, so there is a crime.

Now seize is assets, which are ineluctably intertwined with his fortune, so take it all.

Make him poor:
John Kapoor, the former billionaire and founder of fentanyl-spray manufacturer Insys Therapeutics was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison Thursday afternoon in a Boston courtroom for his role in a conspiracy to bribe doctors to prescribe his company’s potent fentanyl painkiller to patients who didn’t need it.

………

Last May after a weeks-long trial, a jury found Kapoor and four other executives guilty of a racketeering conspiracy. At the time, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said that those convictions were “the first successful prosecution of top pharmaceutical executives for crimes related to the illicit marketing and prescribing of opioids.” The jury found that between 2012 and 2015 Kapoor and the other executives had conspired to bribe doctors and other medical practitioners to prescribe Insys’ pain drug unnecessarily and to also lie to health insurers to have the medication covered. But in November the federal judge on the case overturned part of the jury’s verdict.

………

The Chandler, Arizona-based Insys made and sold a powerful fentanyl spray called Subsys that was Food & Drug Administration-approved only for use by patients with cancer-related pain. At its peak in 2015, the firm’s annual Subsys sales hit $329 million. Last June Insys reached a $225 million settlement with the Department of Justice and admitted to having illegally marketed and paid kickbacks to medical practitioners in exchange for prescribing Subsys. Days later the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In October 2016 Kapoor was profiled by Forbes. The story chronicled Kapoor’s habit of founding companies and letting them push ethical and legal boundaries. During an interview for the story, Kapoor told Forbes of his involvement with Insys: "My involvement is I am an investor." He said, "As an investor I'm on a board. As a board member and an investor you are involved, but you are not involved in day-to-day operations, and that's where the problems come in."
This is the language of "Disruption".  It's also the language of a drug pusher.

There is a reason why they the same words, because there is very little difference.

Our Friends In Riyadh ……… Again


One assumes that they would be repatriated to Saudi Arabia, dismembered with a bone saw, and burnt to ashes in an oven:
A suspected agent of the Saudi government attempted to kidnap a regime critic on American soil, according to the critic and multiple U.S. and foreign sources familiar with the episode. The young Saudi man says the FBI saved him from becoming the next Jamal Khashoggi.

Abdulrahman Almutairi is a 27-year-old comedian and former student at the University of San Diego with a big social-media presence. After Almutairi used social media to criticize the powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the October 2018 murder and dismemberment of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi, an unidentified Saudi man accompanied Almutairi’s father on a flight to collect Almutairi against his will and bring him back to Saudi Arabia, according to The Daily Beast’s sources.

“The Saudi government realized I was a threat,” Almutairi told The Daily Beast, revealing for the first time an ordeal that might have culminated in a whole new crisis: the kidnapping and rendition of a Saudi dissenter on American soil. Only timely intervention from the FBI broke up the plot, two sources say.

………

Then someone he describes only as a source in Saudi Arabia told him that his life was in danger—and that living in California did not mean he was safe. It prompted Almutairi to call the police during the week of Oct. 25, 2018.

What happened next he would only learn from an FBI official he said he spoke with: Without Almutairi’s knowledge, his father flew to Los Angeles, and he wasn’t alone. Accompanying his father was someone Almutairi does not know.

But they never arrived in San Diego. The FBI was waiting for them at LAX. According to two additional sources familiar with the incident, the FBI intercepted both the senior Almutairi and the unidentified Saudi man and sent them back on a subsequent flight. The FBI declined to comment for this story.

………

In July, Middle East Eye’s Dania Akkad first reported that in November 2018, a timeline consistent with Almutairi’s story, the FBI met with at least four Saudi dissidents in the U.S. to warn them of threats to their lives emanating from the kingdom. The dissidents were not named, but one of them, Akkad reported, “runs a popular YouTube channel critical of the Saudi government.” 
There is no such thing as a citizen of Saudi Arabia, there are only subjects of the Saudi king.

In some nations, the UK comes to mind, it is a distinction without a difference.

This is not the case for those living under the suzerainty of the House of Saud.

23 January 2020

Agriculture's Amazing High Tech Future

In yet another example of why Congress should pass right to repair legislation, farmers in the Midwest are engaging in bidding wars over 40 year old tractors because they are not locked out of fixings them by the manufacturers:
Kris Folland grows corn, wheat and soybeans and raises cattle on 2,000 acres near Halma in the northwest corner of Minnesota, so his operation is far from small. But when he last bought a new tractor, he opted for an old one — a 1979 John Deere 4440.

He retrofitted it with automatic steering guided by satellite, and he and his kids can use the tractor to feed cows, plant fields and run a grain auger. The best thing? The tractor cost $18,000, compared to upward of $150,000 for a new tractor. And Folland doesn’t need a computer to repair it.

“This is still a really good tractor,” said Folland, who owns two other tractors built before 1982.

“They cost a fraction of the price, and then the operating costs are much less because they’re so much easier to fix,” he said.

Tractors manufactured in the late 1970s and 1980s are some of the hottest items in farm auctions across the Midwest these days — and it’s not because they’re antiques.

.......

The other big draw of the older tractors is their lack of complex technology. Farmers prefer to fix what they can on the spot, or take it to their mechanic and not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars.

“The newer machines, any time something breaks, you’ve got to have a computer to fix it,” Stock said.

There are some good things about the software in newer machines, said Peterson. The dealer will get a warning if something is about to break and can contact the farmer ahead of time to nip the problem in the bud. But if something does break, the farmer is powerless, stuck in the field waiting for a service truck from the dealership to come out to their farm and charge up to $150 per hour for labor.
I'm seriously beginning to think that every innovation introduced since the Reagan administration has just been a scam.

Tweet of the Day, OK Boomer Edition


Seriously, and I am a (late, 1962) Boomer, but there is something profoundly f$#@ed up about my generation.