30 April 2015

In Space, No One Can Hear You File a Workplace Complaint

Which explains why Amazon chief Jeff Bezos is getting into the rocket business:
Blue Origin, a startup space company owned by Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos, launched an experimental suborbital spaceship from Texas, the first in a series of test flights to develop commercial unmanned and passenger spaceflight services, the company said on Thursday.

The New Shepard vehicle blasted off on Wednesday from Blue Origin’s test facility near Van Horn, Texas, and rose to an altitude of 58 miles (93 km) before the capsule separated and parachuted back to Earth.

“Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return,” Bezos said in a statement.

The descent of the liquid hydrogen- and liquid oxygen-fueled rocket, however, was not successful.

“We lost pressure in our hydraulic system on descent,” Bezos noted. “Fortunately, we’ve already been in work for some time on an improved hydraulic system ... We’ll be ready to fly again soon."
Who cares about the landing? 

After the astronauts have done their job, they are not Bezos's concern, just like the employees in the Amazon warehouses have to wait unpaid in long lines to punch in and out.

The New New Republic is Much Better than the Old One.


This was an Actual TNR Cover
If just because the old one was run by a racist who would have directed the magazine write something about white anxiety in Baltimore, while the post Marty Peretz version actually calls out the Washington Post's Baltimore PD source as a liar:
………

Ever since we first saw citizen video evidence of his arrest shortly after it happened and learned of the fatal injuries he suffered, we’ve all been wondering exactly what happened to Gray. Up until last night, we only know that Gray suffered some kind of “forceful trauma” that nearly severed his spine and crushed his voice box; we also learned he received no medical treatment from the officers on hand. But on Wednesday night, the Washington Post published a report that stemmed from that police leak, containing the alleged account of a prisoner who had been placed in the same police van as Gray after his arrest. The unnamed prisoner, who is still in jail, could not see Gray in the van—yet according to the Post, he told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself.” The Post story hadn’t been published for more than an hour before local journalists like WBAL’s Jayne Miller began debunking it, saying that it didn’t match her earlier reporting: Police commissioner Anthony Batts told media last Thursday that the second prisoner in the van said that Gray was “mostly quiet” and that there was no evidence that Gray was causing himself any harm. “We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” said Jason Downs, a Gray family attorney. “We question the accuracy of the police reports we’ve seen thus far, including the police report that says Mr. Gray was arrested without force or incident.”

Let’s entertain this notion, for a moment, that Gray had decided to injure himself or end his life over an arrest that began with an errant look at an officer, or because he happened to be carrying a switchblade. Is it realistic to believe he would have succeeded to this tragic degree? Whoever at the Baltimore Police Department leaked this clearly relied upon us not understanding how much physical force is required to nearly sever one’s own spine and crush a voice box, all while handcuffed. One doctor told the Baltimore Sun that Gray’s injuries were more consistent with those seen from high-speed vehicle crashes. The van made several stops while he was in it, but did not crash even at a low speed.

Granted, this wasn’t the first time someone tried to explain away what common sense tells us was police brutality. Conservative outlets had circulated nonsense about Gray having a pre-existing spinal condition that required surgery days before his arrest. But now we have the Baltimore Police Department, using the Post as an uncritical conduit, trolling the public and the media. Yes, that seems unwise in light of the violent unrest we’ve seen this week. Far more disturbing than a question of their policing strategy, however, is what this leak indicates about this department and the answers it's willing to offer.

No matter how many shouts are heard or windows smashed, the Baltimore police have asserted that they control the narrative, and that they alone determine what we get to know about why Gray died. They have no respect for Baltimore’s anger. That’s a lot more chilling to me than teenagers tossing bricks.
The language is a trifle florid, but this is also much better than what the "Old" New Republic would written, which would have at its focus comforting the comfortable.

This is F%$#ing Brutal


Part 1


Part 2
Jon Stewart interviewed Judith Miller, one of the most egregious propagandists in American journalism, and he took her apart.

You need to watch the whole thing, but Stewart's statement to towards the end of the interview gives one a sense of how Stewart gave Miller a bad time:
We’re obviously never going to see eye-to-eye on itI appreciate you coming on the program. These discussions always make me incredibly sad because they point to institutional failure at the highest levels and no one will take responsibility for it, and they pass the buck to every individual but themselves. It’s sad.
Miller came off as pathetic and evasive, which pretty much matches her career as a "Journalist".

Quote of the Day

Everything they (Communist authorities) told us about Communism was a lie. Unfortunately, everything they told us about Capitalism was the truth.
Ian Welsh
It's Russian joke that became popular in the early 1990s.

The Onion Abides

Baltimore Residents Urged To Stay Indoors Until Social Progress Naturally Takes Its Course Over Next Century

Nostradamus has nothin' on these folks.

Adding to My List of They Who Must Not Be Named

Bruce Caitlin Jenner.

I support Transgender rights, but Bruce Caitlin Jenner hasn't done anything significant since that Village People movie back in the 1970s.

29 April 2015

Nice Job of Abusing Your Interns

Jonathan Chait decided to determine how many times that conservative legacy admission William Kristol invoked Hitler, Churchill, Chamberlain and Munich:
Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, writing in opposition to the Iran deal recently, observed, “One is reminded — as one so often is these days — of Churchill’s great speech in Commons after Munich ... ” It is true that Kristol is often reminded of Churchill and Munich these days. This may not tell us anything about the current situation with Iran, however, since Kristol is reminded of Churchill and Munich on a great many days. It is a historic reference he has used to explain a great many episodes.

I recently asked New York interns Claire Landsbaum and Claire Voon to compile a list of Kristol’s public references to the Munich agreement and its main players. This research ordeal, presented in reverse chronological order, represents the sort of character-building exercise, I am sure Kristol would agree, that today’s youth badly need.
I'm sorry, I think that you are torturing Claire Landsbaum and Claire Voon.

Forcing them to read everything that Bill Kristol has written back to at least 1997 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Free Speech for Thee, and Not for Me

It looks like the Supreme Court has finally found a limit to campaign donations, limits on soliciting donations by candidates for Judgeships:
The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld state laws that bar elected judges from asking for money to support their campaigns.

In a 5-4 decision, the court rejected a free-speech claim brought by a Florida judge.

"Judges are not politicians, even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot," Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. "A state may assure its people that judges will apply the law without fear or favor -- and without having personally asked anyone for money."

The decision marks one of the few times the high court has rejected a free-speech claim involving politics and campaigning. Roberts split from the court's four conservative justices to uphold the Florida law.

Rick Hasen, an election law expert at UC Irvine, called the ruling a surprise.

"This is a huge win for those who support reasonable limits on judicial elections. And getting Roberts on this side of the issue is surprising, welcome and momentous," he said.

In the last decade, critics of judicial elections, including retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, have argued that the public’s confidence in judges is being undercut by big-money campaigns. Even worse, these critics say, is having judges personally solicit contributions from people and companies who may have cases before the courts.

Until Wednesday's ruling, however, the Supreme Court had moved in the direction of allowing judges to campaign freely. In 2002, the justices struck down state bar rules that had prohibited elected judges from taking public stands on controversial issues.
The Supreme Court has been remarkably dismissive of the idea that campaign donations are corrupting, but when they look at their own profession, suddenly, it's an issue.

Seriously.  How about connecting the f%$#ing dots, you black robed morons?

And Maryland has Among the Worst "Police Protection" Laws in the Nation

A package of police reform bills that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is scheduled to sign into law today, in part as a response to the death of 25-year-old Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, was weakened under political pressure from Maryland police unions, a major force in state politics.

The bills will allow police to wear body cameras, increase the liability cap for lawsuits against government employees, and encourage the state to collect more data on police behavior.

But more substantial reforms, including legislation to add a civilian review process and to have state prosecutors investigate all killings by police, were shot down during a legislative hearing in Annapolis earlier this year.

So, despite the new measures, procedures for prosecuting police misconduct in Maryland will remain the same.

A recent report from the ACLU of Maryland found that at least 109 people died in police encounters in Maryland from 2010 to 2014.

Freddie Gray’s death — which came after his spinal cord was severed when he was in police custody — has become the latest national symbol of brutal policing in African-American communities, and has called particular attention to the poor relations between police and residents in Baltimore. Gray’s funeral sparked riots in Baltimore last night.

………

Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights, one of the strongest such statutes in the nation, is a considerable barrier to police reform. The LEOBR, enacted in 1974, shields officers from oversight by establishing a narrow standard for reviewing police misconduct and limiting the ability of victims to press charges. Current LEOBR law states that officers may not be questioned by their superiors for 10 days following an incident. And once an internal investigation is underway, disciplinary action can only happen after a recommendation by a hearing board comprised of the officer’s colleagues.

………

Though emotional witnesses testified about incidents of police violence and racism, legislators remained skeptical.

“I left Missouri 29 years ago. I live in Maryland now,” said Del. Deborah Rey, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Rey questioned the need for police reform bills because the sponsors cited abuses in “Ferguson, Missouri, not Maryland.”

When a witnesss interjected to say that the failure to prosecute Ferguson police officers was a perfect example of the problems surrounding police oversight, Rey cut him off. “We’re not going to adjudicate Ferguson,” she said.
Deligate Ray, perhaps we should adjudicate Baltimore?

Unfortunately, until some bit of police excess creates riots, there is simply no political will to make police accountable to the laws that they are charged with enforcing.

And You Wonder Why I Do Not Believe This………

Someone in the Baltimore City state security apparatus has leaked a report that Freddie Gray intentionally injured himself to the Washington Post:
A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.
Yeah, it's clear that Mr. Gray snapped his neck and crushed his larynx all by himself.

This reminds me a LOT of that cigar video that the Ferguson police released, or the videos of the victim that were recently released by the Tulsa police department in an attempt to justify the shooting by their septuagenarian "reserve deputy" sugar-daddy.

On the Veracity of Police Statements About the Protests

Joan F%$#ing Walsh is Calling Obama a Liar?

Joan Walsh, former editor-in-chief for Salon magazine, has been a long time, and vehement supporter of Barack Obama.

Well, she just called the President a liar on the Trans Pacific Partnership:
I’m on record declaring that the “split” in the Democratic Party over economic populism has been over-hyped by the media, the GOP and conservative Democrats. Democrats have way more in common, when it comes to addressing growing income inequality and declining social mobility, than differences.

But the divisions over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are real, and they’re getting ugly. President Obama has apparently decided reasoning and lobbying isn’t going to be enough to win over skeptics; he’s lately resorted to personal insults. Telling Chris Matthews Tuesday that “I love Elizabeth [Warren]…but she’s wrong on this” was a big wet kiss, compared to what came later.

On Thursday Obama compared critics of the deal to Sarah Palin and other wingnuts who peddled “death panel” lies about the Affordable Care Act, in a speech to supporters at Organizing For America, the offshoot of his campaign juggernaut Obama For America. He escalated his attacks when he jumped on a conference call with reporters on Friday.

“The one that gets on my nerves the most is the notion that this is a ‘secret’ deal,” Obama said. “Every single one of the critics who I hear saying, ‘this is a secret deal,’ or send out emails to their fundraising base saying they’re working to prevent this secret deal, can walk over today and read the text of the agreement. There’s nothing secret about it.” He singled out “unions” among the wrongheaded critics of his TPP plans.

I confess: I haven’t paid close enough attention to the TPP controversy. But when the president started attacking Warren and unions so personally, I got interested. He’s saying they’re either stupid, or lying, or both. It reminded me of the dark days before the 2010 midterm “shellacking,” when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs attacked “the professional left,” and Vice President Joe Biden told progressives to “stop whining.” That didn’t work; the election was a disaster.

The anti-progressive rhetoric is getting uglier – and this time, some of it’s coming from the president. The AFL-CIO’s Thea Lee has worked on global trade issues for 25 years, and “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it quite as bad as this,” she says.

Sure, both sides are using strong rhetoric, but the president’s attack on his critics as “dishonest” would imply that he’s the one telling the truth. In fact, here are three big ways the president is lamentably shading the truth when it comes to TPP.

Secrecy: It’s true that members of Congress can personally “walk over” and “read the text” of the agreement. Alone, without staff, and without taking notes. And they’re prohibited by law from discussing the details with the media or their constituents.  The administration has deemed the negotiations “classified.”

………

So that’s what Warren means by a “secret deal.” She and Sen. Sherrod Brown wrote to the president this weekend asking that he declassify the latest negotiated text and release it, before demanding a “fast track” vote on the agreement.

Marginalizing opposition as Warren and “the unions.” Warren is joined by Democrats ranging from frequent ally Brown to pro-business voices like Sen. Chuck Schumer to moderate Sen. Bob Casey. While the president hoped to win support from the Congressional Black Caucus, skeptics remain. And yes, labor has been a loud voice against the deal – along with the rest of the Democratic base, and then some.

The coalition opposing TPP includes the National Resources Defense Council, Doctors without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation; critics of certain aspects of the likely deal include New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and the AARP. They are concerned about the way TPP could affect not only manufacturing jobs, but drug prices, intellectual property, environmental regulation and food safety. Obama is facing a remarkably broad-based pushback to his plans, and his effort to isolate Warren and unions is disingenuous.

Denying the vast, pro-corporate power of the “Investor State Dispute Settlement” panel. The wrangling between Warren and the White House over TPP isn’t new. Ever since her March 4 op-ed denouncing the “Investor State Dispute Settlement” provisions of the trade deal, frankly, administration officials have been trying to make Warren look a little batty.

………

“I think if you could get my colleagues to be honest, on the Democratic side,” Sen. Sherrod Brown told the Huffington Post, “they will say they’ve been talked to, approached, lobbied and maybe cajoled by more cabinet members on this issue than any issue since Barack Obama’s been president…I wish they put the same effort into minimum wage. I wish they put the same effort into Medicare at 55. I wish they put the same effort into some consumer strengthening on Dodd-Frank.”

So far, though, the pressure hasn’t worked – and now the administration is distorting the truth. The president can do better than this – and he’s likely going to have to. Hillary Clinton shouldn’t take bad advice from the media about arbitrarily “distancing” herself from the Obama administration. But this is a real conflict for the 2016 frontrunner. And on this one, she might have to choose between the president and much of the party base.
The statements are remarkable primarily because of its source.

Joan Walsh is someone I would describe as an Obamabot, and if he's lost her on this issue, this is an indication of a significant shift in attitude among Obama supporters.

28 April 2015

Great. Now Bees are Going to Have Nic Fits

It appears that part of the problem with the  neonicotinoid pesticides,  and bees is that bees react in the same way to the pesticides as a smoker does to nicotine, and preferentially select contaminated nectar.  (Research articles is here and here)

This has the effect of increasing their exposure to these pesticides, which have been tied to colony collapse disorder:
Bees prefer food containing neonicotinoid pesticides, research suggests.

They may "get a buzz" from the nicotine-like chemicals in the same way smokers crave cigarettes, according to scientists at Newcastle University.

The experiments raise the question of whether bees can be exposed to harmful doses of pesticides because they are attracted to the chemicals.

Another study found neonicotinoids had a negative effect on bees in the wild.

The Crop Protection Association, which represents pesticide producers, questioned the findings of the studies, published in the journal, Nature.
Scientific controversy

Bees are in decline in Europe and North America due to a number of factors, including pesticides, habitat loss and diseases.

In 2013, the EU imposed a two-year ban on using three neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops amid concern about their effects on bees.

Neonicotinoids contain synthetic chemicals similar to nicotine, which as a plant toxin is damaging to insects.

Neuroscientists at Newcastle University tested whether honeybees and bumblebees preferred food containing neonicotinoids over untreated food in the laboratory.

They were surprised to find that sugar solution containing two of three neonicotinoid pesticides appeared to be attractive to bees and "may act like a drug" targeting the brain.
This sh%$ is getting very real.

We need to stop pandering to the Ag chemical companies of the world, and review these chemicals with a lot more rigor.

And in the Justice Department………

Eric Holder's DOJ has defended the police for every excessive use of force suit that has made it to the Supreme Court:
Teresa Sheehan was alone in her apartment at a mental health center, clutching what her lawyers said was a small bread knife and demanding to be left alone. San Francisco police officers, responding to a call from a social worker, forced open the door, blinded her with pepper spray and shot her.

It was the kind of violent police confrontation that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has frequently criticized in Cleveland; Albuquerque; Ferguson, Mo.; and beyond. But last month, when Ms. Sheehan’s civil rights lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, the Justice Department backed the police, saying that a lower court should have given more weight to the risks that the officers faced.

At the Supreme Court, where the limits of police power are established, Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has supported police officers every time an excessive-force case has made its way to arguments. Even as it has opened more than 20 civil rights investigations into local law enforcement practices, the Justice Department has staked out positions that make it harder for people to sue the police and that give officers more discretion about when to fire their guns.

Police groups see Mr. Holder as an ally in that regard, and that pattern has rankled civil rights lawyers, who say the government can have a far greater effect on policing by interpreting law at the Supreme Court than through investigations of individual departments.

“There is an inherent conflict between people at the Justice Department trying to stop police abuses and other people at the Justice Department convincing the Supreme Court that police abuses should be excused,” said Ronald L. Kuby, a Manhattan civil rights lawyer.
The department should not be routinely defending cops against allegations of excessive force before the Supreme Court.  It should be evaluating each case on its own merits, and making the decision only then.

It's current path is does not serve the citizenry.

What Part of "Peace Officer" Don't You Get?

Protests in Baltimore were relatively peaceful last night, and now we are getting reports police escalated last night's events by penning up the teenagers who were at the Mondawmin Mall:
After Baltimore police and a crowd of teens clashed near the Mondawmin Mall in northwest Baltimore on Monday afternoon, news reports described the violence as a riot triggered by kids who had been itching for a fight all day. But in interviews with Mother Jones and other media outlets, teachers and parents maintain that police actions inflamed a tense-but-stable situation.

………

When school let out that afternoon, police were in the area equipped with full riot gear. According to eyewitnesses in the Mondawmin neighborhood, the police were stopping busses and forcing riders, including many students who were trying to get home, to disembark. Cops shut down the local subway stop. They also blockaded roads near the Mondawmin Mall and Frederick Douglass High School, which is across the street from the mall, and essentially corralled young people in the area. That is, they did not allow the after-school crowd to disperse.

Meghann Harris, a teacher at a nearby school, described on Facebook what happened:
Police were forcing busses to stop and unload all their passengers. Then, [Frederick Douglass High School] students, in huge herds, were trying to leave on various busses but couldn't catch any because they were all shut down. No kids were yet around except about 20, who looked like they were waiting for police to do something. The cops, on the other hand, were in full riot gear, marching toward any small social clique of students…It looked as if there were hundreds of cops.
The kids were "standing around in groups of 3-4," Harris said in a Facebook message to Mother Jones. "They weren't doing anything. No rock throwing, nothing…The cops started marching toward groups of kids who were just milling about."

A teacher at Douglass High School, who asked not to be identified, tells a similar story: "When school was winding down, many students were leaving early with their parents or of their own accord." Those who didn't depart early, she says, were stranded. Many of the students still at school at that point, she notes, wanted to get out of the area and avoid any Purge-like violence. Some were requesting rides home from teachers. But by now, it was difficult to leave the neighborhood. "I rode with another teacher home," this teacher recalls, "and we had to route our travel around the police in riot gear blocking the road… The majority of my students thought what was going to happen was stupid or were frightened at the idea. Very few seemed to want to participate in 'the purge.'"

A parent who picked up his children from a nearby elementary school, says via Twitter, "The kids stood across from the police and looked like they were asking them 'why can't we get on the buses' but the police were just gazing…Majority of those kids aren't from around that neighborhood. They NEED those buses and trains in order to get home." He continued: "If they would've let them children go home, yesterday wouldn't have even turned out like that."

Meg Gibson, another Baltimore teacher, described a similar scene to Gawker: "The riot police were already at the bus stop on the other side of the mall, turning buses that transport the students away, not allowing students to board. They were waiting for the kids.…Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown." With police unloading busses, and with the nearby metro station shut down, there were few ways for students to clear out.

………

It is the job of police to maintain the peace. It is why they sometimes are called peace officers.

The police are the professionals in this situation, and they must act professionally.

The expectation of professionalism is why they are get to use a gun, a badge, and tools like tear gas and pepper spray.

It means, for example, that they need to use the appropriate tools to manage a situation, and not, for example, throw bricks back at the protesters:
We're about to look now. Here's a video of police throwing rocks back at protesters:

This is not in indicator of professionalism in a police force.

The rioting last night was foreseeable given the behavior of the police.

They presented themselves in an overly confrontational way to teenagers, they then made impossible for people to leave the area.

While the behavior of the protesters is reprehensible, the behavior of the police can only be described as extreme malpractice.

There are a number of senior cops on the Baltimore PD who needs to be fired over this.

Republican Family Values

It's the hypocrisy, stupid:
Anti-Gay North Dakota State Rep Caught Sending Dick Pics On The Grindr, Surprise LOL

by Evan Hurst, Apr 28 2:00 pm 2015

America, meet your newest closet case anti-gay Republican lawmaker! He’s a North Dakota state representative, and he is not in the closet anymore, due to the fact that he’s been outed for voting against SB 2279, a routine bill designed to protect gays and lesbians, among others, from discrimination (which failed, for the third time). The representative’s name is “Randy Boehning,” and while we are tempted to just finish the post right there, we will tell you the story instead:
State Rep. Randy Boehning, a 52-year-old Republican legislator from Fargo, says a Capitol employee told him a fellow lawmaker vowed to out him as gay if he continued to vote against bills granting gays legal protections against discrimination. […]

The exchange came to light when Dustin Smith, a 21-year-old Bismarck man with no known connections to the Capitol, contacted The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead earlier this month, saying he recognized Boehning from a gay dating smartphone app called Grindr. Chatting under the user name Top Man!, Boehning sent Smith sexually suggestive messages and, in the early morning hours of March 12, an unsolicited photo of his penis, according to exchanges reviewed by The Forum.
Smith added, “how can you discriminate against the person you’re trying to pick up?” Good point, sir! It’s very rude, to want to fuck the gays in a good way in your off time, and then go to work the next day and fuck the gays in a bad way, by voting against their (AND YOUR OWN) rights. This is why we have the Barney Frank rule, which says that if a politician is known to be gay, and also votes and campaigns against LGBT people, then they are fair game for outing and stuff.
Has anyone told Jon Stewart?

Think of the children!!!!

TPP Dayenu

For the gentiles out there, Dayenu is a song that sung at the Passover Seder. (My family's Minhag [tradition] is that it is sung in the key of "off").

It describes the exodus from Egypt, and ends each stanza with "Dayenu", which means, "It would be enough".

In any case, I will reproduce part of the TPP trade deal Dayenu:
1. The TPP makes it easier to offshore more jobs now performed in the United States.

2. If the TPP just made it easier to offshore more jobs and did not also generate increasing downward pressure on wages, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

3. If the TPP just generated increasing downward pressure on wages and did not also empower another 25,000 foreign corporations to use Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals to gut our net neutrality, environmental, health, labor and safety laws and regulations, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

4. If the TPP just empowered another 25,000 foreign corporations to use investor state tribunals to gut our net neutrality, environmental, health, labor and safety laws and regulations and did not also give big pharma new monopoly patent rights, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

5. If the TPP just gave big pharma new monopoly patent rights, and did not also provide for rolling back financial regulations put in place after the crash of 2008, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

6. If the TPP just rolled back financial regulations and did not also provide for banning buy local and buy domestic policies, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

7. If the TPP just provided for banning buy local and buy domestic policies and did not also undermine climate change and energy policies by constraining the permissible policies governments can use to implement them, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

8. If the TPP just undermined climate change and energy policies by constraining the permissible policies governments can use to implement them and did not also use an anti-democratic fast track process that gives Representatives and Senators no space to represent the range of people they represent, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

9. If the TPP did not just use an anti-democratic fast track process that gives Representatives and Senators no space to represent the range of people they represent, and did not also potentially prevent the Treasury from replacing the practice of issuing Treasury debt to fund deficit spending with alternative funding methods, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!
Read the rest.

Bullsh%$ Bingo, Education Edition

I understand that there are a number of different views on how education might change over the next few decades, but this melange of incomprehensible argle bargle that serves as a justification for paying slave wages and breaking teachers unions.

Basically, he is describing the private equity wet dream for charter schools:
Whenever a college student asks me, a veteran high-school English educator, about the prospects of becoming a public-school teacher, I never think it’s enough to say that the role is shifting from "content expert" to "curriculum facilitator." Instead, I describe what I think the public-school classroom will look like in 20 years, with a large, fantastic computer screen at the front, streaming one of the nation’s most engaging, informative lessons available on a particular topic. The "virtual class" will be introduced, guided, and curated by one of the country’s best teachers (a.k.a. a "super-teacher"), and it will include professionally produced footage of current events, relevant excerpts from powerful TedTalks, interactive games students can play against other students nationwide, and a formal assessment that the computer will immediately score and record.

I tell this college student that in each classroom, there will be a local teacher-facilitator (called a "tech") to make sure that the equipment works and the students behave. Since the "tech" won’t require the extensive education and training of today’s teachers, the teacher’s union will fall apart, and that "tech" will earn about $15 an hour to facilitate a class of what could include over 50 students. This new progressive system will be justified and supported by the American public for several reasons: Each lesson will be among the most interesting and efficient lessons in the world; millions of dollars will be saved in reduced teacher salaries; the "techs" can specialize in classroom management; performance data will be standardized and immediately produced (and therefore "individualized"); and the country will finally achieve equity in its public school system.

………

I’ve started recognizing a common thread to the latest trends in teaching. Flipped learning, blending learning, student-centered learning, project-based learning, and even self-organized learning—they all marginalize the teacher’s expertise. Or, to put it more euphemistically, they all transform the teacher into a more facilitative role.
I believe that a good adjective to describe this vision is, "Dystopian".

A good adjective to describe the article is, "Incomprehensible".

A good summary is, "Education changes ……… Because ……… Internet."

27 April 2015

The Technical Term is Lying Sack of Sh%$………

In this case, the term can be applied to the President of the Maryland Police Union:
Protests escalated in Baltimore on Saturday over the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a serious spinal cord injury while in police custody. The mysterious injury raised suspicions that he was taken on a “rough ride,” in which officers deliberately drive erratically to injure unbuckled and handcuffed passengers. But the president of Maryland’s police union told ThinkProgress he is unaware of the unsanctioned police practice.
In a word, bullsh%$.

"Rough rides", a procedure where a person is placed in a paddy wagon, handcuffed but not buckled in, and then subjected to a ride that consists of sudden starts, stops, and abrupt maneuvers, and so tossing them around the inside of the vehicle.

I understand that Mr. Canales has a responsibility to represent his union members, but this sort of bald faced lie, much like the boneheaded statement by Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore FOP that the earlier peaceful protests were akin to a lynching, are transparently false.

What's more these statements are clearly inflammatory, and so both of these folks served to put their own members at risk.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that term before,” Maryland Fraternal Order of Police President Vince Canales said when asked about the event that may have caused Gray’s death.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts acknowledged on Friday that Gray’s injuries could have been caused by a “rough ride,” but said the investigation into the circumstances of his death will continue even after the police findings are given to prosecutors on Wednesday.

A Baltimore Sun investigation found that Gray is not the only person to emerge from a Baltimore police van with serious injuries — others have won multi-million judgments after suing the police department for their injuries. But despite the repeated brutal incidents, Canales and others closely entwined with the city police are still unaware of the practice.

Baltimore deputy public defender Natalie Finegar told the Baltimore Sun she has no personal knowledge of “rough rides,” but others in her office are aware of the practice. “It is common knowledge among public defenders that [the Baltimore Police Department] has paid out significant judgments in ‘rough ride’ and other cases,” James Johnston, a Baltimore public defender, told the Sun. “In my experience, it is not uncommon for clients to suffer injuries during an arrest.”

When asked about a series of cases of police brutality in Baltimore, Canales presented a very different view from advocates who say the recent incidents in Ferguson, New York City, Cleveland and elsewhere were part of a larger systematic problem with police.

Instead of banning any particular police practices, Canales said each incident should be treated on a “case-by-case” basis because “everyone responds differently to different situations.” But reports from across the country have proved otherwise. In Baltimore, an investigation from 2014 found that the police department has paid around $5.7 million to more than 100 people since 2011 in lawsuits claiming officers beat up mostly African American suspects.
Maybe police officers should turf out Vince Canales and Gene Ryan at the next union election, because they sure as hell aren't serving their members or the general public.

Bad Day at the Office

This is one of the finest examples of a correction ever:
Correction: This post initially attributed the song "Barbara Ann" to The Beatles. It is, in fact, a Beach Boys song. The author of this post would blame his relative youth, but as a fan of the oldies, this would be dishonest. He would instead like to extend his sincerest apology for this egregious error and promise that it will not be repeated.

Clarification: As Ed Morrissey notes, the song was originally written and sung by The Regents and later covered by the Beach Boys. So the author of this post is clearly having one of those days.
He was writing how bombing Iran is incredibly unpopular, even among Republicans.

In the process, he writes about how McCain sang "Bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann", and completely screws up the provenance of the song.

Normally, I reserve the, "Bad Day at the Office," hed for vehicular crashes, but I think that Aaron Blake's correction rated this title as well.

H/t Jim Romenesko.

Quote of the Day

Any time cops shoot and kill an unarmed man something has gone very wrong.
Atrios

Obama Went There

At the White House Correspondents Circle Jerk Dinner, Barack Obama brought out Watch Keegan-Michael Key as his Luther, his anger translator.

The interesting bit is when Obama freaks out Luther.



His full speech is here.

26 April 2015

So, the Flash Crash Was Caused by Some Guy Living in His Parents' Basement?

The DoJ is attempting to extradite Nav Sarao to the United States because he allegedly caused the "Flash Crash".

While this might be significant for Mr. Sarao, this is missing the forest for the trees.

If our markets are so unstable as to be tripped into catastrophe by one guy, they are too unstable to exist in their current form:
Everyone on Wall Street has been talking about this week's arrest of a little-known UK-based trader on allegations that he caused the May 6, 2010 "Flash Crash."

That's because the consensus view on the Street is that the arrest itself is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, as one trader put it, it's "beyond ridiculous."

Over the past few days, we've had several conversations with traders, quantitative analysts, and hedge fund managers. It was the topic of conversation at happy hours and charity events.

What's more, there wasn't a single person we spoke to who bought the argument that one guy wiped billions from the market in a matter of minutes by "spoofing" — a practice in which a trader orders a bunch of trades and then cancels them. It creates artificial demand and manipulates the price of a stock.

It's been almost five years since the "Flash Crash" and regulators are suddenly blaming Navinder "Nav" Sarao, a 36-year-old who trades S&P futures from his mom and dad's house in a London suburb. Yep, regulators think a guy in saggy sweatpants and Nike Airs trading from his parents' basement did it.
It also appears that the charges are just plain bogus:






Round up the usual suspects!
This prosecution is all about covering up the total vulnerability in the market.

The "Flash Crash" was not a result of actions of one person. It was a result of the profit strategies of dozens, if not hundreds of actors in the markets, and they all are structured in a way that was calculated to maximize, and exploit, volatility.

The "market making" capabilities of high frequency traders is a mirage:  As soon as the market experiences upset, they pull out, and create a crash.

We need to make the markets less responsive, and create greater transaction costs.

Otherwise, instant market panics will become a routine part of our lives, and the lives of the 99% not extracting rents from the financial markets will suck.

The Police Story on the Freddie Gray Killing Changes

Gee, what a surprise. Once what happened to Freddie Gray became a matter for independent investigation, the police story changed:
Police chiefs in Baltimore retreated on Friday from earlier claims that Freddie Gray, whose death has caused an outcry, must have been injured inside the van carrying him after his arrest.

They said they were investigating what happened during one of the stops made by the vehicle.

Asked whether Gray was fatally hurt by a so-called “rough ride” without a seatbelt in the back of the vehicle, or could have been injured outside the van, police commissioner Anthony Batts said at a press conference there were “potentials for both of those”.

“If someone harmed Freddie Gray, we will have to prosecute him,” said Batts.

Deputy commissioner Kevin Davis said officials were looking into the second of three stops the van’s driver made after Gray was arrested on the morning of 12 April. “The facts of that interaction are under investigation,” said Davis.

Gray, 25, died last Sunday after suffering a broken neck and injured voice box. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said earlier this week “what happened happened inside the van,” echoing a police report that said Gray “suffered a medical emergency” in the vehicle.

………

Davis said Gray said he needed a medic during a third stop by the van, made to pick up a second prisoner, but an ambulance was not called until 25 minutes later, after the vehicle arrived at police headquarters. Batts told reporters that during the third stop, officers “picked him up off the floor and placed him on a seat”.

Batts said on Thursday that the second prisoner, who was separated from Gray by a metal wall, told investigators that Gray was “was still moving around, that he was kicking and making noises” until the van arrived at the station. Police are declining to identify the man due to his status as a witness in the criminal inquiry.
This thin blue line crap needs to stop.

We not only need to go after don't cops, we need to go after cops who refuse to go after bad cops.

Zero tolerance.

I Wish that I Were Finnish

IN Finland, fines are based on daily earnings, so a rich asshole got a a €54,024 fine for doing 64 in a 50 zone:
Getting a speeding ticket is not a feel-good moment for anyone. But consider Reima Kuisla, a Finnish businessman.

He was recently fined 54,024 euros (about $58,000) for traveling a modest, if illegal, 64 miles per hour in a 50 m.p.h. zone. And no, the 54,024 euros did not turn out to be a typo, or a mistake of any kind.

Mr. Kuisla is a millionaire, and in Finland the fines for more serious speeding infractions are calculated according to income. The thinking here is that if it stings for the little guy, it should sting for the big guy, too.

The ticket had its desired effect. Mr. Kuisla, 61, took to Facebook last month with 12 furious posts in which he included a picture of his speeding ticket and a picture of what 54,024 euros could buy if it were not going to the state coffers — a new Mercedes. He said he was seriously considering leaving Finland altogether, a position to which he held firm when reached by phone at a bar where he was watching horse races.

“The way things are done here makes no sense,” Mr. Kuisla sputtered, saying he would not be giving interviews. Before hanging up, he added: “For what and for whom does this society exist? It is hard to say.”

………

But the idea that the rich should pay heavier fines did not seem to be much in question. “It is an old system,” said Pasi Kemppainen, chief superintendent at the National Police Board. “It may lead to high fines, but only for people who can afford it.”

In fact, the Finnish “day fine” system, also in use in some other Scandinavian countries, dates to the 1920s, when fines based on income were instituted for all manner of lesser crimes, such as petty theft and assault, and helped greatly reduce the prison population.

Advertisement

The fines are calculated based on half an offender’s daily net income, with some consideration for the number of children under his or her roof and a deduction deemed to be enough to cover basic living expenses, currently 255 euros per month.

Then, that figure is multiplied by the number of days of income the offender should lose, according to the severity of the offense.

Mr. Kuisla, a betting man who parlayed his winnings into a real estate empire, was clocked speeding near the Seinajoki airport. Given the speed he was going, Mr. Kuisla was assessed eight days. His fine was then calculated from his 2013 income, 6,559,742 euros, or more than $7 million at current exchange rates.

Someone committing a similar offense and earning about 50,000 euros a year, or $54,000, none of it capital gains, and with no young children, would get a fine of about 345 euros, or about $370. Someone earning 300,000 euros ($322,000), would have to pay about 1,480 euros ($1,590).
My heart bleeds borscht for Reima Kuisla.

Man up you over-pampered parasite.

25 April 2015

The Shrill One is Sick of Those Muthaf%$#ing Liars on this Muthaf%$#ing Campaign


Among other things, he appears to be calling out the New York Times, though not by name, who publishes his opinion pieces:
So there’s a lot of buzz about alleged scandals involving the Clinton Foundation. Maybe there’s something to it. But you have to wonder: is this just the return of “Clinton rules”?

If you are old enough to remember the 1990s, you remember the endless parade of alleged scandals, Whitewater above all — all of them fomented by right-wing operatives, all eagerly hyped by mainstream news outlets, none of which actually turned out to involve wrongdoing. The usual rules didn’t seem to apply; instead it was Clinton rules, under which innuendo and guilt by association were considered perfectly OK, in which the initial suggestion of lawbreaking received front-page headlines and the subsequent discovery that there was nothing there was buried in the back pages if it was reported at all.

Some of the same phenomenon resurfaced during the 2008 primary.

So, is this time different? First indications are not encouraging; it’s already apparent that the author of the anti-Clinton book that’s driving the latest stuff is a real piece of work.
The link that he mentions it sites dates that are wrong, conflating paid and unpaid speaking gigs, and the use of hoax press releases by parody sites.

I really don't want to defend Hillary Clinton.

The dynastic issue is of concern, and it is clear, notwithstanding her recent statements regarding finance and inequality, that she is a tool of the banksters. (And then there is that whole frothing at the mouth war monger thing)

So damn the Times and the Post for making me defend her.

The only bright note to this, as Krugman observes later in his post, is that, "There’s a much more effective progressive infrastructure now, much more scrutiny of reporting, and the kinds of malpractice that went unsanctioned 20 years ago can land you in big trouble now."

Truth be told, I don't think that the progressive infrastructure will make a difference, but I do think that things like Twitter and Facebook, which make it a lot easier to point out unprofessional journalism, have become a much bigger part of the media landscape, if only because they influence what organizations like Politifact, the WaPo's Fact Checker, and FactCheck.org, who do a little bit of separating the wheat from the chaff.

24 April 2015

Kids are Gone for the Weekend

They are at a USY convention.

This is the first time in a LONG time that Sharon and I have had a weekend alone together.

Light posting for the next few days.

 



Posted via mobile.

23 April 2015

Well, it was Only a Matter of Time Until we Killed a White Guy………

And now the Obama administration has been forced to admit that they killed two white hostages in drone strikes:
An American aid worker and another man held hostage by Al Qaeda were killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan in January, government officials disclosed on Thursday, underscoring the perils of a largely invisible, long-distance war waged through video screens, joysticks and sometimes incomplete intelligence.

Intending to wipe out a compound linked to the terrorist group, the Central Intelligence Agency authorized the attack with no idea that the hostages were being held there despite hundreds of hours of surveillance, the officials said. Even afterward, they said, the agency did not realize at first that it had killed an American it had long sought to rescue, with the wrenching news becoming clear over time.

The violent death of an American at the hands of his own government proved a searing moment in a drone war that has come to define the nation’s battle with Al Qaeda, especially since President Obama took office. Visibly upset, Mr. Obama came to the White House briefing room shortly after his staff issued a written statement announcing the deaths to make a rare personal apology.
But no one gave a sh%$ when a 16 year old American kid, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed by drones "accidentally", former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don't think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business."

His dad was a jihadi, so it was all cool.

One of the important thing to note is that the White House had no idea who was in the al-Qaeda compound:
The targets of the deadly drone strikes that killed two hostages and two suspected American members of al-Qaida were “al-Qaida compounds” rather than specific terrorist suspects, the White House disclosed on Thursday.

The lack of specificity suggests that despite a much-publicized 2013 policy change by Barack Obama restricting drone killings by, among other things, requiring “near certainty that the terrorist target is present”, the US continues to launch lethal operations without the necessity of knowing who specifically it seeks to kill, a practice that has come to be known as a “signature strike”.

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, acknowledged that the January deaths of hostages Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto might prompt the tightening of targeting standards ahead of lethal drone and other counter-terrorism strikes. A White House review is under way.

“In the aftermath of a situation like this, it raises legitimate questions about whether additional changes need to be made to these protocols,” Earnest said.

………

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the accidental killings revealed on Thursday raise “questions about the reliability and the depth of the intelligence that the government is relying on to conduct drone strikes”.

“In neither of these two cases did the government actually know beforehand who it was killing. It does raise questions about how much the government knows – or how little the government knows – before it pulls the trigger,” Jaffer said.

“Perhaps that doesn’t in itself suggest that the strikes were unlawful, but it certainly raises some questions.”
It appears that the CIA thought that something might be wrong when there were two extra bodies found at the strike sites.

Oops!

I will note two things, said by the inimitable Charlie Pierce:
Am I being unpatriotic if I mention that, at this point, I wouldn't trust the CIA to give me directions to the mall?
There has been a lot of "collateral damage" (Dead innocents) from drone strikes, but it is clear that the CIA is FAR more reckless than the Pentagon over this, though it has improved from the excesses of Petraeus' disastrous stint as DCIA.

His second point is more important:
I've always thought of the drone war in terms of the melon vendor and the guy in the goat cart on the other side of the road. There's an al Qaeda operative buying a melon from a vendor. Meanwhile, a guy with a goat cart comes up the other side of the road. Suddenly, here comes death from above. The terrorist is dead. So is the melon vendor. So is the guy in the goat cart on the other side of the road. They're all blown into equally tiny bits. How do we think the families of the melon vendor and the guy with the goat cart are going to take this? We create a desire for retribution with which our grandchildren may have to cope. And we may never know the names of the melon dealer or the guy with the goat cart, the way we now know the names of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto. We may never know the name of the melon dealer until his grandchild blows up an airplane. And none of that should be surprising because that's also what happens when you make war, any kind of war, in a place.
The drone campaign is clearly excessive, and as a result, we are destabilizing the region, and creating a generation of people who want to make war on America.

Anyone who thinks that our drone campaign makes us safer is insane.

Ted Cruz Panders to the Ghey When Money is Involved

One of the big questions about Ted Cruz is whether he is a true believer, or if he is just a self-aggrandizing asshole who is doing this for his own selfish reasons.

Well, this news seems to strongly imply that Ted Cruz is really all about Ted Cruz:

Senator Ted Cruz has positioned himself as a strong opponent of same-sex marriage, urging pastors nationwide to preach in support of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, which he said was “ordained by God.”

But on Monday night, at a reception for him at the Manhattan apartment of two prominent gay hoteliers, the Texas senator and Republican presidential hopeful struck quite a different tone.

During the gathering, according to two people present, Mr. Cruz said he would not love his daughters any differently if one of them was gay. He did not mention his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying only that marriage is an issue that should be left to the states.

The dinner and “fireside chat” for about a dozen people with Mr. Cruz and his wife, Heidi, was at the Central Park South penthouse of Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, longtime business partners who were once a couple and who have been pioneers in the gay hospitality industry.

Ted Cruz said, ‘If one of my daughters was gay, I would love them just as much,’” recalled Mr. Reisner, a same-sex marriage proponent who described himself as simply an attendee at Mr. Weiderpass’s event.
(emphasis mine)

Cruz doesn't care about hating on the ghey, he's just using it for political advantage.

Politicians weasel on issues all the time, but some issues, and I would include same sex marriage among these issues, there has to be a real moral component (at least on the pro-bigotry side).

Couldn't We Send Him to Guantánamo?

This has to be the best headline of the day:

To Send a Message, Judge Sentences David Petraeus to 75% of One Speaking Fee

David PetraeusFormer CIA Director David Petraeus just got sentenced to two years of probation for leaking highly sensitive information to his mistress and then lying to the FBI about it.


………

The only “surprise” of the hearing is that, rather than getting slapped with a $40,000 fine, Judge David Keesler more than doubled the fine to send a message.

To $100,000.

According to SpeakerPedia, Petraeus makes upwards of $132,750 for each speech.
Needless to say, this is disgraceful.

This guy mishandled secure information, he then deliberately leaked it to his lover, and then he lied to the FBI about it, and he can make enough to pay the fine in about 70 minutes.

BTW, the Obama administration is using him as a consultant now, so it appears that he still has a security clearance.

22 April 2015

There is Now a Nazi Definition of Chutzpah………

The descendants of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, are suing Random House demanding royalties for the use of his quotes in the book Goebbels: A Biography:
The estate of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda, is taking legal action against the publisher Random House over a new biography, claiming payment for the use of extracts from his diaries.

Cordula Schacht – a lawyer whose own father, Hjalmar Schacht, was Hitler’s minister of economics – is suing Random House Germany and its imprint Siedler, over the book Goebbels, by Peter Longerich, professor of modern German history at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Longerich, an authority on the Holocaust and Nazi era Germany, drew extensively on Goebbels’ diaries in his biography, which was published in Germany in 2010. Now those same passages from the diaries are set to appear in the English ­edition, which Penguin Random House UK and its imprint Bodley Head will publish on 7 May.

Rainer Dresen, general counsel of Random House Germany, told the Guardian that an important principle was at stake. “We are convinced that no money should go to a war criminal,” he said.
Agreed, Mr. Dresen.

Not only is this chutzpah, it's insane, even when not considering the overweening nature of the international copyright regime.

There May Still Be Some Utility Left in the Mk. 1 Human

Toyota has discovered that robots cannot do it all, and that they need highly experienced experts to maximize the productivity at their plants:
Inside Toyota Motor Corp.’s oldest plant, there’s a corner where humans have taken over from robots in thwacking glowing lumps of metal into crankshafts. This is Mitsuru Kawai’s vision of the future.

“We need to become more solid and get back to basics, to sharpen our manual skills and further develop them,” said Kawai, a half century-long company veteran tapped by President Akio Toyoda to promote craftsmanship at Toyota’s plants. “When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything.”

These gods, or “kami-sama” in Japanese, are making a comeback at Toyota, the company that long set the pace for manufacturing prowess in the auto industry and beyond. Toyota’s next step forward is counterintuitive in an age of automation: Humans are taking the place of machines in plants across the nation so workers can develop new skills and figure out ways to improve production lines and the car-building process.

“Toyota views their people who work in a plant like this as craftsmen who need to continue to refine their art and skill level,” said Jeff Liker, who has written eight books on Toyota and visited Kawai last year. “In almost every company you would visit, the workers’ jobs are to feed parts into a machine and call somebody for help when it breaks down.”

The return of the kami-sama is emblematic of how Toyoda, 57, is remaking the company founded by his grandfather as the chief executive officer has pledged to tilt priorities back toward quality and efficiency from a growth mentality. He’s reining in expansion at the world’s-largest automaker with a three-year freeze on new car plants.

………

“What Akio Toyoda feared the company lost when it was growing so fast was the time to struggle and learn,” said Liker, who met with Toyoda in November. “He felt Toyota got big-company disease and was too busy getting product out.”

………

Learning how to make car parts from scratch gives younger workers insights they otherwise wouldn’t get from picking parts from bins and conveyor belts, or pressing buttons on machines. At about 100 manual-intensive workspaces introduced over the last three years across Toyota’s factories in Japan, these lessons can then be applied to reprogram machines to cut down on waste and improve processes, Kawai said.

In an area Kawai directly supervises at the forging division of Toyota’s Honsha plant, workers twist, turn and hammer metal into crankshafts instead of using the typically automated process. Experiences there have led to innovations in reducing levels of scrap and shortening the production line 96 percent from its length three years ago.

Toyota has eliminated about 10 percent of material-related waste from building crankshafts at Honsha. Kawai said the aim is to apply those savings to the next-generation Prius hybrid.

The work extends beyond crankshafts. Kawai credits manual labor for helping workers at Honsha improve production of axle beams and cut the costs of making chassis parts.

Though Kawai doesn’t envision the day his employer will rid itself of robots — 760 of them take part in 96 percent of the production process at its Motomachi plant in Japan — he has introduced multiple lines dedicated to manual labor in each of Toyota’s factories in its home country, he said.

“We cannot simply depend on the machines that only repeat the same task over and over again,” Kawai said. “To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine.”
True dat.

Guys on the shop floor are an invaluable source of knowledge and wisdom.

Seriously?

I have been a bit dubious of the prosecutors' (and the judge's) behavior at the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Boston bombing trial.

The case that is a slam dunk, Tsarnaev's defense team has conceded that he was one of the bombers, so the only issue in dispute is whether the sentence is life without parole or death, and I get the sense that the prosecutors are trying to push the envelope to get a death penalty, and the judge eager to allow them to do so.

This is depressing, because it is more important for the trial to be seen as scrupulously fair than it is to put a needle in has arm.

The latest, and far most concrete, example of this is the prosecutors (and the judge) have have gone a bit far with the showing a video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev flipping off a security cam while in a holding cell:
The US Department of Justice has released an image of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev giving the finger to a security camera in his jail cell, a day after prosecutors showed it to jurors in the sentencing phase of his trial.

The image, taken three months after the April 2013 bombing in his holding cell at the federal courthouse, is one of the only public images of Tsarnaev since his arrest days after the bombing.

“This is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – unconcerned, unrepentant and unchanged,” assistant US attorney Nadine Pellegrini on Tuesday told the jurors who will decide whether the 21-year-old former college student should be executed.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers on Wednesday sought to blunt the impact of a photo, placing it in context of his movements in the cell. They showed the jury video clips of him looking into the camera, apparently fixing his hair in the reflective glass, and then making a slightly angled, two-finger gesture similar to what teenagers often do playfully in selfies. Then he raised his middle finger at the camera.

In an apparent attempt to press the argument that Tsarnaev was a “kid” who was led astray by his big brother, defense attorney Miriam Conrad asked Assistant US Marshal Gary Oliveira if he knew how old Tsarnaev was at that time.

The witness said he didn’t.

“You don’t know that he was 19 years old?” Conrad asked.
I understand that the prosecution is required to show that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a horrible and unrepentant person to get death.

But presenting a 19-year old flipping off a security cam to justify a death penalty?  That seems a bit much.

This serves no purpose but to inflame the jury, and the judge should not have allowed it.

So Not a Surprise

You know those "Cybersecurity" bills that are supposed to protect our data and our privacy?

Not so much:
Cybersecurity legislation advancing in Congress could create the first brand-new exemption to the Freedom of Information Act in nearly half a century—a prospect that alarms transparency advocates and some lawmakers.

A bill approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee last month would add a new tenth exemption to FOIA, covering all "information shared with or provided to the Federal Government" under the new measure.

Another provision in the legislation would require that "cyber threat indicators and defensive measures" which companies or individuals share with the federal government be "withheld, without discretion, from the public." The Senate bill, which is expected to come to the floor soon, also seeks to shut off any access to that information under state or local freedom of information laws.

Two cybersecurity bills are expected to be taken up on the House floor as soon as this week. Both contain similar language about keeping confidential threat and defensive measure information turned over to the government. However, a new FOIA exemption that was in the House Intelligence Committee cyber bill was taken out, a spokesman confirmed Friday.

In an official Senate Intelligence Committee report made public over the weekend, two Democratic members of that panel objected to the new FOIA exemption, which would be the first brand-new exemption added to the landmark transparency legislation since 1967.

"We are unconvinced that it is necessary to create an entirely new exemption to the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA," Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) wrote in a statement accompanying the panel's report on the cyber bill. "Government transparency is critical in order for citizens to hold their elected officials and bureaucrats accountable; however, the bill's inclusion of a new FOIA exemption is overbroad and unnecessary as the types of information shared with the government through this bill would already be exempt from unnecessary public release under current FOIA exemptions."

………

Critics say the proposed new FOIA exemption could allow companies to block disclosure of virtually any information by anyone in the government simply by submitting that information to the new cybersecurity portal. McDermott said the narrower provisions were also troubling and have mandatory language that could preclude the government from releasing cyber-related information even when needed to warn about a danger to the general public.

McDermott also said it would set a bad precedent if a bill creating an entirely new FOIA exemption made it into law without passing through the panels which oversee that law in each chamber.

"By authorizing a new exemption to the FOIA through a committee other than the committees of jurisdiction....you’ve undermined FOIA," she warned.
Not surprised that the Obama administration likes this a lot. His history as President is one of being a cheerleader for the overarching security state, and his jihad on whistle blowers is a national disgrace.

Suspicious Police Killings Go Local

Specifically, the death of Freddie Gray, who was alive and well when he was put in a paddy wagon by Baltimore police, and was in a coma with a broken neck and nearly severed spinal cord when it arrived at the station:
Officials and community leaders welcomed Tuesday the Justice Department's announcement that it is opening a criminal investigation into Freddie Gray's death in Baltimore police custody — an incident that continues to spark angry demonstrations.

"The Department of Justice has been monitoring the developments in Baltimore, Md., regarding the death of Freddie Gray," spokeswoman Dena Iverson said in a statement. "Based on preliminary information, the Department of Justice has officially opened this matter and is gathering information to determine whether any prosecutable civil rights violation occurred."

The federal agency did not release details about the investigation, but said it would include the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office and civil rights lawyers within the department.

The announcement came amid growing protests — hundreds demonstrated Tuesday evening in front of the Western District police station, where the 25-year-old was taken April 12, before being hospitalized and dying a week later. Protesters wore T-shirts with the slogan #Justice for Freddie and chanted "No justice, no peace."

Meanwhile, police gave members of a City Council public safety committee updates on the status of their investigation into Gray's death. After the hearing, Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said the Police Department will cooperate fully with the FBI in the federal probe and will hand over copies of all the documents it has.

Police said they are trying to determine whether Gray was properly restrained in a transport van, where officials have said his injuries occurred. He suffered a broken vertebra after he was arrested near Gilmor Homes in Sandtown-Winchester. 
Something is seriously broken with policing in America.

That New Speaker of the New York State Assembly?

When Carl E. Heastie leapt from obscurity to the top of New York State’s political power structure this year, he brought with him the potential of a new beginning in Albany. He vowed to bring accountability and integrity back to a statehouse that was reeling from the latest arrest of a lawmaker — the man he was succeeding as the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver.

But an episode from Speaker Heastie’s past that has never received public scrutiny casts new light on his claims of being a reformer.

About 16 years ago, when he had not yet run for public office but had already become entrenched in Bronx Democratic politics, Mr. Heastie was able to hold onto a home that prosecutors said his mother had bought with embezzled money and that a judge had instructed him to sell. Selling it years later brought what appears to be the only significant financial gain of his life.

An unusual string of legal lapses enabled Mr. Heastie to keep the home, an apartment in a three-story rowhouse in the Bronx. Carelessness of those involved in the case could be to blame, or something more questionable could have occurred given the Bronx Democratic Party’s influence on the court system and its long history of back-room deal-making.

An unusual string of legal lapses enabled Mr. Heastie to keep the home, an apartment in a three-story rowhouse in the Bronx. Carelessness of those involved in the case could be to blame, or something more questionable could have occurred given the Bronx Democratic Party’s influence on the court system and its long history of back-room deal-making.

“If it was purchased with moneys that were stolen, then no one should receive the benefit of that,” Justice Robert H. Straus told the Heasties during a hearing in January 1999 at State Supreme Court in the Bronx.

But Mr. Heastie did, indeed, profit from his mother’s crime.

Despite the judge’s instructions, Mr. Heastie was able to keep the apartment. His mother died at age 60 three weeks after being sentenced, and Mr. Heastie said he stopped trying to sell the property. When he finally did sell it — six years later for nearly $200,000 more than his mother had paid — he used the proceeds to buy a more expensive home.

………

The first break for the Heasties came when the Bronx district attorney’s office did not require Mrs. Heastie to sign a formal forfeiture agreement, as is common in such cases. Prosecutors also did not pursue a civil action against Mr. Heastie to force him to sell the home, which they could have done even after her death, Mr. Levin said.

And when Mr. Heastie told the judge, through a lawyer, that he could not sell the property, the assertion went unquestioned. Prosecutors did not press Mr. Heastie, for example, about the “real estate salesperson” who he said was trying to sell it. So it never came out in court that the person was not a full-time real estate professional but another loyalist to Mr. Seabrook with a full-time job in city government.

Finally, a judgment against Mrs. Heastie that was signed by the judge was never filed in civil court by the Bronx County clerk’s office. The judgment, which essentially disappeared, could have been used to pursue money from her estate after her death.
This really is kind of mind boggling.

I understand that there are necessary compromises that a politician must make if they want to become a leader, but it seems that everyone in New York state government are ethically compromised.