25 July 2017

Cue New Labour Whining

Jeremy Corbyn has been saying that local constituencies should be able to select candidates by themselves, and the New Labour MPs who have been trying to overthrow him are having a freakout.

First, if you shoot at the king, don't miss, second, if your local constituency hates your flabby white ass, it's your own fault:
Jeremy Corbyn has opened the door to deselections of MPs critical of his leadership, by saying that it is a matter for local parties.

The Labour leader was asked about local activists' threats to overthrow Labour MPs they see as hostile to him.

Mr Corbyn told the BBC's Andrew Marr show: "I don't quite see why people should go to the party leader and say we want to influence what is happening in a constituency.

"The whole point of a democracy is that people decide."

………

The Labour leader was asked about reports that Tony Blair had personally intervened to prevent him being deselected by activists in his Islington North constituency when he was a backbencher.

Hilary Armstrong, who served as chief whip for five years of Mr Blair's premiership, recalled in an interview how Mr Corbyn's constituents had expressed concern that he was a serial rebel - voting against his party some 500 times - and tried to have him removed.

………

Talk of mandatory reselection of MPs was rife last year in areas where Momentum, the group of Corbyn supporters, was strong in local parties.

But Theresa May's decision to call an election at short notice meant the idea had to be dropped, and sitting MPs allowed to stand again.

………

Mr Corbyn said in 2015 when he became leader: "I wish to make it absolutely crystal clear that I do not support any changes to Labour's rules to make it easier to deselect sitting Labour MPs."

But last year, following a wave of resignations from his frontbench, he backed a "full and open selection process" in every seat.

Under the current rules, MPs can already be deselected if they lose a "trigger ballot" of the local party and affiliated groups.

The Labour leader's allies have called for a change in the rules, such as a requirement that 75% of members must support an MP for them to be reselected.
The Blairites are terrified because they realize that they are about as popular as a case of the clap, and if reselection (basically a local party caucus) were made routine, a lot of them would lose their jobs.

My heart bleeds borscht for those back-stabbing ratf%$#s.

They were actively trying to sabotage Labour in the last election in an attempt to take Corbyn down.

Drip, Drip, Drip

Something odd is going on in New York.

For reasons that are not clear to me, people are starting to go after Governor Andrew Cuomo, and I have no clue as to why.

Case in point, the CEO of the Western New York Fair just revealed that a Cuomo staffer attempted to delay cleanup at the fair after a tornado, because Cuomo wanted a telegenic platform for Cuomo to give a speech:
Call it a collision of politics and good old Western New York can-do attitude.

The cleanup after the tornado that struck the Erie County Fairgrounds was well under way Thursday afternoon when an aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo asked that the cleanup be delayed -- until after the governor arrived, fair CEO Dennis Lang said.

"I said, 'You're kidding, right?'"

Lang said he told a Cuomo aide who asked him to keep debris in the area where the press conference would be held. "I just turned around and walked away."

Lang said he did not know the name of the man who asked for a delay.

"After the ceremonial service was over, I haven't seen any of them, nor do I expect to see any tomorrow and the day after tomorrow," Lang said of state officials and National Guard, who were at the governor's news conference.

Cuomo's office denied it requested the cleanup be delayed.
This sort of request is actually not that uncommon, but it is notable that someone is calling out the Cuomo administration about this.

We're also seeing the finger on the New York City Subway problems being pointed at him. (IMNSHO correctly) 

It's long overdue, but I am unclear as to why it is happening now.

If anyone among my reader(s) has some analysis, please contact me.

I See What is Going On Here………

I have previously noted that Trump's new Communications Director Anthony "Mooch" Scaramucci bears a scary reselblance to the Boneitis guy from Futurama.

Well, the good folks at The Daily Show noticed something else, that Scaramucci's body language Parallels are rather striking: (The whole video is worth a watch, but the specific clip starts at 9:12)


At first, I found it profoundly creepy, and then I realized what it was, an exercise in sucking up to Trump.

He almost certainly practiced in front of a mirror, as a way to make "The Donald" feel comfortable.

I've actually found myself doing something similar occasionally, when I am dealing with Asian professionals.

I tend to mimic their body language that they use to show that I am listening attentively.

Mooch has simply taking it to an outrageous level, and he has almost certainly done so in a far more conscious and practiced way.

What it reveals is that Mr. Scaramucci is a remarkably accomplished and devoted suck up.

He's perfect for the Trump administration.

24 July 2017

Lipstick on a Pig

In an Op/Ed in the New York Times, corporatist Senator Chuck Shumer pretends to be populist while rolling out the latest Democratic Party slogan, "A Better Deal."

I'm a lifelong Democrat, and as I watch them vigorously recruit Blue Dogs and New Dems as candidates in 2018, I have little faith in them actually prosecuting policies that will actually promote a better life for the bottom 99%.

They are still to busy chasing rich people as candidates and donors.

I'm Surprised. He Is So Considerate of Women


Blake Farenthold (R-TX)
Blake Farenthold is upset that Republican women Senators have concerns about the latest incarnation of Trumpcare, so wants to shoot them:
Texas Representative Blake Farenthold wants to take some female Republican senators out back and shoot them for not repealing the Affordable Care Act and killing thousands of their fellow citizens.

Farenthold says it’s “absolutely repugnant” that the GOP-led Senate hasn’t acted on repealing the health care law, singling out “some female senators from the Northeast.”

Farenthold, in a radio interview with 1440 Keys, said the Senate has failed to show the courage to repeal Obamacare. The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to move ahead on legislation they haven't even released for review by the Senators voting on it.

Still, the fact that Farenthold doesn't know what is or isn't in the legislation didn't stop him from blaming the female Senators, who actually may have a problem with the wanton murder of thousands of Americans by robbing them of access to affordable health care.

“If it was a guy from south Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style,” he blustered.
What a lovely fellow.

His mother should have drowned him at birth.

Quote of the Day

Any fascist regime deficient in either the means, the will, or the aptitude to censor, jail or terminate non-compliant members of the press & judiciary is doomed to fail.
gaia's voluptuous anvil
Cause for optimism.

Seriously, Get Your Head Out of Your Ass

The New York Times just published an Op/Ed titled, :‘Make It So’: ‘Star Trek’ and Its Debt to Revolutionary Socialism," that should never have made past the editors.

It conflates the original series and later incarnations over things like the existence of money, see the mention of prices in credits in The Trouble with Tribbles, and the statement that there is no money in the Federation in TNG & DS9.

Furthermore, the original was if anything a manifestation of John F. Kennedy's decidedly capitalistic "New Frontier."

The basic theory espoused in the article, that SF is frequently social commentary with socialist overtones, is so obvious as to be banal, but the execution, cloaked in layers of academic jargon, is incoherent and inaccurate.

Fail.

United Strikes Again

United notified passengers that they could not check check comic books in as luggage if they were flying to Comic Con in San Diego, because ……… Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The TSA released a statement that United Airlines had f%$#ed up: (Also here)
Don’t worry Comic-Con fans, you don’t have to remove your comic books from your checked luggage, despite what a Sunday photo circulated on Twitter suggests.

The dust-up began after a person named Adi Chappo tweeted the above, tagging United Airlines, which responded on Twitter:





But by Monday, the Transportation Security Administration was saying that no such restriction existed.



Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokeswoman, told Ars on Monday morning that she was mystified as to how United could get this policy wrong. “I don’t know how United went ahead and stated a TSA policy incorrectly,” she said. “I can say that TSA has advised in the past that if people bring several of the same type of item, it can alarm the checked baggage screening, but there is no prohibition on bringing things that are not a security threat. In this case, comic books are not a security threat and we encourage travelers to bring them if they so choose.”
Seriously, they make big bank on checked bags, so it takes a special type of incompetence to do this.

They are both inconveniencing the customer and losing money on the deal.

Adventures in Lame

I really got nothing to say that isn't in the headline:
Jason Chaffetz Wishes Congress Would Ask Chelsea Clinton Why She Did Benghazi
Please don't make me defend Hillary Clinton,

Linkage


Here is a very good animation of the functioning of the J-58 bypass turbojet used on the SR-71:

23 July 2017

Consider the Source

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says that Democrats, not Russia, are to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss to President Trump.

“When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — [James] Comey, Russia — you blame yourself,” Schumer said in an interview Saturday with The Washington Post.

“So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.”Last year, much of the Democrats’ strategy hinged on criticism of Trump in hopes that the many controversies swirling around the GOP presidential candidate would damage down-ballot Republicans, a plan which largely failed.

In May, Clinton blamed former FBI Director Comey and Wikileaks for her election loss.
Hillary Clinton and her campaign apparatus never could ever explain why she was running for President, beyond that it was somehow her turn, which gave us ads where she wasn't mentioned, and Donald Trump as President.

Unfortunately, while Schumer has acknowledged that the election loss was the Democrats fault, the solution that he and Pelosi have put forward is a study in obtuseness, seeing it all as an issue with messaging, with no need to adjust policy:
“When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview previewing the new plan. “So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed, explaining in a separate interview that the new focus “is not a course correction, but it’s a presentation correction.”

But outside of Washington, some progressives worry that a focus on messaging has convinced Democrats that their policies were in no need of a rethink, while voters were crying out for more.
(emphasis mine)

Much like the Bourbon kings following Napoleon, "They have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing," could be the motto of the Democratic Party establishment.

The idea that everything is just ducky and can be fixed through better advertising is a dangerous delusion.

Bluck Fair

It appears that Tony Blair is doing the rounds with rich donors to stand up a "Moderate" political party if Corbyn actually tries to have Labour act like Labour:
A number of high-profile names have been linked to a new centre-left party dedicated to blocking Brexit.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has reportedly held talks with a number of wealthy individuals including Hull City owner Dr Assem Allam, who donated £700,000 to Labour under Ed Miliband.

Last November, emails revealed than Virgin boss Branson was willing to bankroll a campaign to derail Brexit, which had also received the backing of a host of businesses, communications firms and celebrities including Bob Geldof.


Branson has donated to former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s pro-EU Open Reason think tank, which he founded with fellow Remainer and multi millionaire Innocent drinks boss Richard Reed. Billionaire businessman George Soros is also a donor.

Labour MPs Chukka Umunna and David Lammy’s names were linked to the breakaway party, which also had the backing of Sir Clive Cowdery, an insurance millionaire who founded the Resolution Foundation think tank.

A source close to Sir Clive said: “There had been high-level discussions about funding a specific group that would be anti-Brexit and anti-Corbyn - a breakaway third party pushing a progressive agenda. A splinter group, if you like.

As true today as it was 40 years ago.
There already is such a party, it's called the Liberal Democrats, and they are in 4th place in the Parliament, with 12 seats out of the 650 in Parliament.

The Liberal Party, the Lib-Dem's ancestor, last won an election on its own more than a century ago.

Seriously, this whole "Slightly Silly Party" schtick was done to death by Monty Python in the 1970s.

Blamestorming Commencements

I have mentioned that Governor Andrew Cuomo's hostility to mass transit in general, and to the New York City Subway in particular, is responsible for the current sorry state of the Subway.

Now, he is trying to fob the blame off on the Mayor of New York, and Bill de Blasio is having none of it:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio fired back Sunday at state and transit officials who have been trying to pin the subway’s problems on him.

“The state of New York is responsible for making sure our subways run,” Mr. de Blasio said, “period.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief Joseph Lhota have spent the past several days suggesting subways are the city’s responsibility and the city should be paying more.

Mr. de Blasio begged to differ, saying the MTA has spent its money on projects unrelated to the subways at the state’s direction, and left other funds languishing.

“The state of New York has used the MTA as a piggy bank,” he said. “They need to spend the money on what matters.”

But Mr. Lhota late Sunday said the mayor’s comments were “completely disingenuous knowing that the MTA is set to present its 30-day overhaul plan this week. We know we have a problem and our job now is to fix it.”

………

The governor has more sway than the mayor over the MTA’s budgeting, leadership and other personnel, and Mr. Cuomo has directed the agency to fund and finish a number of his pet projects, like the Second Avenue subway.

But amid a recent rash of subway delays and derailments, and growing crowds underground, the governor has been pinning the problems on the mayor. “It’s the city’s legal obligation to be funding it,” Mr. Cuomo said last week.

The mayor office also distributed a “fact sheet” Sunday showing that the city already pays more than two-thirds of the MTA’s $15 billion operating budget through taxes, fares, and other means.

Recent polls show more New Yorkers hold the governor accountable for the MTA, but they want a bigger investment in the subways from both the state and the city.
Cuomo's attempt at deflecting the blame is really kind of pathetic.

Aircraft Carrier Fail

The first in class Gerald Ford aircraft carrier has just been commissioned, unfortunately, it's not ready for combat, and won't be for a very long time, because the US Navy is deferring essential testing to the second ship in the class:
Three years late and costing $12.9 billion, the USS Gerald R. Ford finally gets commissioned today at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia. The latest aircraft carrier to join the American fleet has been burdened with—and this may shock you, considering we are talking about defense spending—cost overruns and significant delays. Despite being commissioned, it will be at least four years before the carrier will be able to deploy and truly become part of the fleet.

Many challenges remain for the carrier as substantial amounts of construction and testing remains to be completed. In fact, one significant problem to be solved involves launching and recovering aircraft, which is the sole reason aircraft carriers exist.

………

Incorporating many significant changes over its predecessors, the Ford-class will have newly designed catapults and arresting gear, a redesigned and smaller island superstructure that is farther aft, a larger flight deck, new radar systems, quicker weapons elevators and 300 percent more electrical capacity from newly designed nuclear reactors.

The problem is that many of these systems are immature and have not been able to perform up to expected levels. The San Diego Union-Tribune described the construction of the Ford as “a monument to the Navy’s and defense industry’s ability to justify spending billions on unproven technologies that often deliver worse performance at a higher cost.” Despite the lip service presented by Navy and industry officials, the construction of the Ford has been something of a disaster.


To be fair, no modern warship is ready to sail off to war the day after being commissioned. Tests need to be completed and the ships need to be put through their paces to discover any abnormalities or deficiencies that may not have been discovered during builder trials, when the ship is put to sea under the watchful eye of the company that constructed the ship.

The Ford is a special case, however. So many systems are deficient and remain unresolved that the Navy does not expect the carrier to reach IOC, or initial operational capability, until 2020 at the earliest.

Once commissioned it is expected the Navy will run the Ford through a series of tests between March and November of 2018. After that, it is hoped the Navy will put the carrier through full ship “shock trials”, though language placed in the House Armed Services Committee annual defense bill last month has given the Navy an out on conducting the test. Instead, trials would be conducted on USS John F Kennedy, the second carrier in the new class.

By skipping these tests on the Ford, Navy officials hope to make the carrier available sooner for overseas operations. It was reported back in late 2015 that conducting the tests would delay the carrier’s first deployment by two years as the Navy fixed what was broken.

………

Two recent reports have highlighted the difficulties with the Ford, which is designated CVN 78. The first report was issued in December 2016. The Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DTO&E) for the Department of Defense issued a stinging report that highlighted the many problems the ship was facing as it neared being delivered delivery.

Again, the issue here is all this unproven new tech. According to the report, “Poor or unknown reliability of the newly designed catapults, arresting gear, weapons elevators, and radar, which are critical for flight operations, could affect CVN 78’s ability to generate sorties, make the ship more vulnerable to attack, or create limitations during routine operations. The poor or unknown reliably of these critical subsystems is the most significant risk to CVN 78. Based on current reliably estimates, CVN 78 is unlikely to be able to conduct the type of high-intensity flight operations expected during wartime.”

………

The second report that was released earlier this month by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, on Navy Shipbuilding was another harsh rebuke of the Navy’s decision to accept the Ford “from the shipbuilder in incomplete condition.”

As it stands now, according to the GAO, the Navy will spend at least an additional $779 million to complete construction of the ship and conduct tests that are required to validate the design. The GAO also echoed the earlier report in addressing the fact that the carrier will not have the necessary certifications to conduct aviation operations, navigation and cybersecurity protection and added that upon delivery the Ford will have “significant incomplete construction” where work on 367 compartments was deferred.
This should be the first example used in any definition of. "Hollow force."

Have I mentioned lately that our current system of defense procurement is seriously f%$#ed up?

Throw Your Amazon Echo out the Window Now


Such a good idea to give access to every conversation in your room to Russian hackers:
The data is also kept in the event it’s request by law enforcement, however Amazon fought police over what it saw as an overly broad request for audio logs on a murder suspect last year. (The company relented in April of this year and handed over the logs when the suspect voluntarily said he was willing to provide them.)

Amazon does not hand this data over to developers, The Information says, because such a move would undermine Amazon’s commitment to user privacy. However, because Google, which makes the most popular Echo competitor currently on the market, does give developers access to this data, Amazon’s Echo and Alexa divisions feel they are at a disadvantage, the report states. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its data-sharing policies for the Home speaker.

For instance, some developers fear that without audio logs of requests, like those related to a food delivery order, they won’t know exactly what went wrong if the order is ultimately incorrect and the customer unhappy. According to The Information, Amazon does give some data over to a select few “whitelisted” developers, though how that system works is unclear.
Amazon is considering granting third-party app developers access to transcripts of audio recordings saved by Alexa-powered devices, according to a report from The Information today. The change would be aimed at enticing developers to continue investing in Alexa as a voice assistant platform, by giving those app makers more data that could help improve their software over time. Amazon’s goal, according to The Information, is to stay competitive with more recent entrants in the smart speaker market, like Apple and Google.


Amazon declined to comment on its future plans for Alexa data-sharing policies. However, a company spokesperson told The Verge, “When you use a skill, we provide the developer the information they need to process your request. We do not share customer identifiable information to third-party skills without the customer’s consent. We do not share audio recordings with developers.”

As it stands today, Amazon records audio through Alexa devices like the Echo home speaker and the new Echo Look camera and Echo Show monitor, however only after a “wake word” like “Hey Alexa” is used to prime the software. These devices send these audio clips to an Amazon-owned server where they’re analyzed to produce a near-instantaneous response from Alexa, but where they’re also stored so Amazon can improve its digital assistant through artificial intelligence training techniques.

………

Amazon does not hand this data over to developers, The Information says, because such a move would undermine Amazon’s commitment to user privacy. However, because Google, which makes the most popular Echo competitor currently on the market, does give developers access to this data, Amazon’s Echo and Alexa divisions feel they are at a disadvantage, the report states. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its data-sharing policies for the Home speaker.

For instance, some developers fear that without audio logs of requests, like those related to a food delivery order, they won’t know exactly what went wrong if the order is ultimately incorrect and the customer unhappy. According to The Information, Amazon does give some data over to a select few “whitelisted” developers, though how that system works is unclear.
Yeah, throw out Google Home as well.

Orwell in a f%$#ing box.

22 July 2017

Today in Conversational German


File under Shkreli, Michael and Cruz, Ted.

Oh, Snap!

In the Senate there is something known as the Byrd Rule.

Basically, it states that only items that effect the deficit can be placed in the budget resolution.

This is significant because the budget resolution is not subject to the filibuster.

Well, the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that the most recent budget resolution, which includes Trumpcare, includes provisions that run afoul of the Byrd Rule:
The Senate Republican bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act encountered huge new problems on Friday night after the Senate parliamentarian challenged key provisions that are needed to win conservative votes and to make the health bill workable.

The provisions appear to violate Senate rules, the parliamentarian said, giving Democrats grounds to challenge them as the Senate prepares for a battle next week over the future of the Affordable Care Act.

One provision questioned by the parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, and cherished by conservatives would cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood for one year. Another would prohibit use of federal subsidies to buy insurance that includes coverage for abortions.

A third provision would penalize people who go without health insurance by requiring them to wait six months before their coverage could begin. Insurers would generally be required to impose the waiting period on people who lacked coverage for more than about two months in the prior year.

If formally challenged, the provisions could survive only with 60 votes, a near-impossibility in the partisan, narrowly divided Senate. The abortion-related provisions are important to many conservatives, not just in the Senate but also in the House.

………

The waiting period provision is fundamental to the working of the bill. Because the legislation would end the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance, the waiting period was designed to ensure that people could not simply wait to get sick before they purchased a policy.

………

The parliamentarian also objected to a narrowly written provision that would shift Medicaid costs from New York’s counties to its state government. This provision, tagged by opponents as the “Buffalo Bailout,” was included in a repeal bill passed by the House in May to secure the votes of Republican House members from upstate New York.

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, suggested that other provisions written specifically for different states could also be at risk.

“This will greatly tie the majority leader’s hands as he tries to win over reluctant Republicans with state-specific provisions,” Mr. Schumer said. “We will challenge every one of them.”
Heh.

Gee, Training and Valuing Employees Works

While many brick and mortar retail establishments suffering, Best Buy is thriving because it trains and values its employees:


Five years ago Best Buy Co. looked like a retail dinosaur, another victim of e-commerce juggernaut Amazon.com and other online sellers.

The big-box electronics chain was suffering dwindling sales and profits due in good part to “showrooming,” when shoppers would come in to a Best Buy store to check out televisions, computers and other items in person, and then buy them at cheaper prices at Amazon or elsewhere online.

Best Buy also was struggling with executive turmoil and facing a buyout threat from a major stockholder. The chain in 2012 named a new chief executive, Hubert Joly, but the Frenchman came from the hospitality field and had no retail experience.

His appointment stunned analysts, with one saying that fixing Best Buy was “a herculean task even for an accomplished retail executive.”

But Joly has proved up to the task so far. Under his turnaround plan, Best Buy has rebounded to remain one major U.S. retailer that’s holding its own in the face of Amazon’s relentless growth and the conventional retail industry’s slump.

………

That’s keeping the pressure on Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy to keep wringing more profit from each dollar of revenue if it hopes to maintain its momentum. Joly (pronounced jo-lee) already has shown it can be done.

His first move was to match any rival’s prices, especially those at Amazon, so that in-store shoppers no longer needed to buy elsewhere.

“We had no choice, we had to take price off the table and match online prices,” Joly said.

………

The company plowed a chunk of the savings into better training its employees so that they can explain products to shoppers, which Joly believed was critical because new technology often is confusing to many consumers.

Best Buy, with 125,000 employees overall, “has done an excellent job improving customer service,” [Piper Jaffray analyst Peter] Keith said in a recent note to clients.

Juan Ortiz of Glendale, who was at the Atwater Village store to buy a Nest Cam security camera, noticed the difference.

“If I’m going to spend a few hundred [dollars] on a security system, I want to talk with the employees and make sure I’m getting the best one,” Ortiz said. “It also helps that they explain everything. If I got it on Amazon, I’d be on my own.”
(emphasis mine)

The complete unwillingness of American management to invest anything in training its employees has always baffled me, particularly in retail.

My guess is that managers have been trained to treat their employees like crap, so any training serves to give them other options, which they will take, because you treat them like crap.

The result is a race to the bottom, and the commoditization of retailers, which gives you the purgatory that is Amazon.

EU Patents Are Even More F%$#Ed up Than Ours

The EU has been moving toward a single patent court, but the European Patent Office, and in particular its President, Benoit Battistelli, is so profoundly screwed up that the constitutional court of Germany has ruled a European Patent Court to be illegal:
The freeze on long-held plans to approve a single patent court for Europe is a result of the actions of the president of the European Patent Office, according to German media reports.

The Unitary Patent Court (UPC) has been in progress since 2012, but last month Germany's constitutional court unexpectedly ordered a halt to legislation ratifying it. The German government's approval is essential for the court to move forward.

Beyond the fact that an unnamed individual had filed a complaint with the court arguing that the UPC broke German law, little was known about the argument itself and why the court had taken it so seriously.

Now details have emerged and the reason for the freeze appears to be controversial changes pushed through EPO president Benoit Battistelli, largely in order to enhance his own office's power.

The complaint argues that changes made to the EPO's Boards of Appeal have effectively undermined its independence, meaning that there are now insufficient checks and balances within the system to adhere to German law.

Those changes were forced through by Battistelli after the Boards of Appeal stood up to him by refusing to remove a judge he had fired over allegations of leaking embarrassing documents and posting anonymous criticism of Battistelli and his team.

………

As a result of this refusal to capitulate to Battistelli's demands, EPO management then drew up a raft of reforms that undercut the Boards of Appeal authority.

Among other things, these limited the power of the Board of Appeal's president over budget and staffing, and gave Battistelli as EPO President the right to decide who is appointed (or reappointed) in that role. Any reappointment would be subject to a "performance evaluation" carried out by the president.

Among other smaller changes, the independent boards would also no longer be able to adopt their own rules of procedure – they would be decided by, you've guessed it, the EPO President.

………

Now, however, it appears that Battistelli may finally face serious consequences, with his forced changes on the organization standing in the way of a major strategic goal of the EPO: the creation of a unitary patent court.

If the German constitutional court does decide that the Battistelli-forced changes to the Boards of Appeal undermine its independence to the extent that it contravenes German law, then Europe will either have to drop its five-year plan or demand that the EPO reverse the changes and remove the powers of the presidency that Battistelli has fought so hard to introduce.
Battistelli wiretapped his staff in an attempt to fine people who was leaking uncomplimentary information about him and retaliated against whistleblowers.

The EU being what it is, of course, he remains in office until the end of his term, because there are effectively no adults in charge.

It Ain't the Crime, It's the Coverup

While I am dubious of any major law breaking on the links between Russia and the Trump campaign, I have noted that the coverup may very well take down Trump and his Evil Minions.

It is, after all, how a "Third rate burglary" forced Nixon from office.

We now have evidence that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions lied to the Senate about the nature of his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Rather unsurprisingly, the US State Security Apparatus monitors the ambassador's communications, and they have what looks a lot like a smoking gun:
Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he had no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.

“I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” Sessions said in March when he announced that he would recuse himself from matters relating to the FBI probe of Russian interference in the election and any connections to the Trump campaign.
I am amused.

This Is What Comes from Mixing Ambien and Alcohol


Like Keith Moon, and not in a good way
The increasingly erratic Elon Musk is now claiming that he got verbal governmental approval to construct a Hyperloop transit system from Washington, DC and New York City.

Rather unsurprisingly all manner of public officials over the proposed route have no recollection of any such discussion:
Elon Musk does not have government approval to build a Hyperloop tunnel from New York City to Washington DC.

The Tesla executive took to Twitter this morning to tantalize his legion of fans and the tech press with the “news” that he had “just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins … City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city.”

Lest any billionaires need to brush up on civics 101: the US system of government does not operate on “verbal government approvals”.

Musk walked back his claim about 90 minutes later, tweeting: “Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidly”.

A lot of work is needed to receive formal approval, indeed.

Musk was received with typical credulity by the tech press, and considerable consternation by various government agencies. Several spokespeople who answered the phones at relevant city, state and federal government bodies laughed upon hearing of the claim that an interstate transit project with a significant street-level footprint in four of the east coast’s largest cities could be approved verbally.
Gee, you think?

I'm not sure if Musk has gone over the edge because of drug abuse, Ambien and alcohol is addictive and dangerous, or if it's because he has become convinced of his own epic awesomeness from sycophants and the, "Typical credulity by the tech press," but Elon Musk is well into delusional, and seems to be heading to Bond villain territory.

I'm kind of surprised.  Of all the PayPal mafia, I would have figured that would be vampire Peter Thiel would go over the edge first.

Linkage


Why Britain Uses Separate Hot and Cold Taps. Short version: In some old British plumbing, hot water is not potable.

21 July 2017

I'm Not a Big Fan of Politicians Going After Judges, but Rodney Gilstrap is the Exception to this Rule

The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas is notorious for its support of patent trolls, and Judge Rodney Gilstrap is notorious for this even among the judges in that district.

Personally, he has literally been the judge presiding about ¼ of all patent cases in the United States.

He also has a history of taking Supreme Court solutions and applying them in remarkably bad faith.

Case in point, when, in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, the Supreme Court ruled that patents that just added a computer to ordinary activities are invalid, Gilstrap required that defendants ask for his permission before filing to have a patent dismissed, which appears to functionally eviscerate the Supreme Court ruling, which calls for a quick dismissal of bogus patents:
For companies that get hit with lawsuits over obvious patents, the best chance they've got to fight back is last year's Supreme Court decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. Now patent defendants are often able to get a judge's opinion at an early stage of the case about whether the patent was too obvious to grant in the first place.

Patent cases still aren't cheap, but for those willing to fight, Alice is turning the tide in defendants' favor—just not in East Texas.

US District Court Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who presides in Marshall (pop. 25,000), hears more patent cases than any other judge in the country. He has gone out of his way to place additional barriers in the way of defendants seeking to knock out bad patents under Section 101 of the patent laws. That's the section that Alice relates to, which the Supreme Court said should be used to knock out "do it on a computer"-style patents.

Recently, Gilstrap published an order saying any defendant who wants to file an early motion under Section 101 "may do so only upon a grant of leave from the Court after a showing of good cause, which shall be presented through the letter briefing process."
 Under pressure, he subsequently partially reversed himself, but it's still pretty out of line.

It's gotten so bad that, in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, the Supreme Court specifically tightened up on venue requirements, requiring suits be filed only, "Where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business."

Well, now Gilstrap has decided that having a single employee working from his home constitutes a "Regular and Established Place of Business."

Yet under the new rules, Gilstrap still wouldn't let Cray out of the district. Cray's only tie to the district was a single salesperson, who worked out of his home in the Eastern District. In the judge's view, though, that was enough to find that Cray had "regular and established" business in the Eastern District and would have to face trial.

Gilstrap's controversial interpretation of the TC Heartland decision has been scorned by lawmakers who have supported patent reform efforts. In a hearing about the US patent system last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Gilstrap's move "rejects the Supreme Court's unanimous decision" and was "reprehensible."
I do not know what Gilstrap's angle is, it could be something as benign as his desire to bring revenue (office rentals, hotel and hospitality, etc.) into Marshall, TX, or it could be that he hopes to get a lucrative partnership in an IP lawfirm when he retires, or maybe he's just a nut who gets off on being the center of attention.

Whatever the case might be, it is clear that something is very wrong, and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the IP Subcommittee have both condemned the judge:
Two members of the House judiciary committee have criticised Judge Rodney Gilstrap for his interpretation of TC Heartland v Kraft Foods, going as far as to suggest that he is putting the needs of the Eastern District of Texas above serving justice.

Speaking at a House judiciary committee hearing on patent law last week, Republican Darrell Issa described Judge Gilstrap’s recent interpretations of the Supreme Court’s TC Heartland decision—which limited the filing of infringement suits to the plaintiff’s state of incorporation—as “an act I find reprehensible”.

House judiciary committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, without naming Judge Gilstrap, said in his opening statement at the hearing: “Unfortunately, one judge in this district has already re-interpreted both the law and the unanimous Supreme Court decision to keep as many patent cases as possible in his district in defiance of the Supreme Court and congressional intent.”

The hearing came as defensive patent aggregator Unified Patents reported a 50 percent drop in disputes seen in the Eastern District of Texas in the first half of 2017.

Issa said at the hearing: “Only two weeks ago, Judge Gilstrap interpreted the TC Heartland decision in a way that rejects the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision and at least, for the time being, ensures that as many of the cases as possible will remain in his court room.”
Not only do I approve of calling out this judge, I approve of Darryl Issa* calling out the judge by name.

As an FYI, this nutjob wasn't appointed by a 'Phant.  Obama appointed him,

I'd really like to know what's his deal though.

*I cannot believe that I just said that.  Issa is a nasty ratf%$# and he was for a long time before he went into politics.

Dayyyymmmmnnnnn!

I just came across these videos of the Su-35 putting on an amazing display at the MAKS airshow:




Here is a shorter vid:



I'm not gonna claim that this is a demonstration of meaningful real world combat capabilities, but this is jaw dropping.

Snark of the Day

Only Perfect Hedge Is In a Japanese Garden
John Jansen
That is a wonderful way to describe the peripatetic nature of modern high finance.

Buh Bye Sean

Sean Spicer has resigned as White House Press Secretary:
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday after denouncing chaos in the West Wing and telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.

After offering Mr. Scaramucci the communications job Friday morning, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Spicer to stay on as press secretary. But Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment of Mr. Scaramucci was a major mistake and said he was resigning, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.

In one of his first official acts, Mr. Scaramucci, who founded the global investment firm SkyBridge Capital and is a Fox News contributor, joined Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mr. Spicer’s chief deputy, in the White House briefing room and announced that she would succeed Mr. Spicer as press secretary.

………

Mr. Spicer has agreed to stay on for two weeks to a month, and Mr. Trump has told his advisers he is open to rotating new people into the briefing room, including one of the president’s personal favorites, Sebastian Gorka, a blustery foreign policy official who has been accused of having ties to far-right groups in Europe.
Sebastian Gorka? I'd call him a Neonazi son of a bitch, but he really is an old Nazi son of a bitch.

Amazing. Only in America could you fire Sean Spicer and have his replacements be worse.

Fail

While I oppose boycotts of Israel, and I think that many in the BDS movement are objectively antisemitic, the proposal in the Senate to criminalize boycotts against Israel is an assault on the very idea of civil rights:
Both of New York's Senators have signed on to a bill that would criminalize any attempt by Americans to boycott Israel, according to a new report.

According to The Intercept, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are among 43 U.S. Senators who have co-sponsored the Anti-Israel Boycott Act, a bill that the ACLU wote is "antithetical to free speech protections enshrined in the First Amendment" in a letter to lawmakers urging them to oppose the bill.

The Senate bill appears to target the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement that seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip through economic isolation. Under the terms of the bill, a pair of U.S. laws that prohibit U.S. citizens from supporting a boycott request from a foreign government against an ally of the United States would be updated to specifically prohibit Americans from supporting international boycott efforts against Israel.

Violators of the law "would be subject to a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison" according to the ACLU's letter.
Seriously, it's embarrassing to have to go all Schoolhouse Rock on members of the US Senate.

This full metal pander crap needs to end.

A letter from the ACLU clearly describes just how flagrantly unconstitutional this bill is.

The Swedes are the Greatest People on the Face of the Earth

Swedish passenger operator MTR Express opened up a new line between Stockholm and Gothenburg, and they held an online contest to name it, the obvious happened, but unlike the killjoys at the Natural Environment Research Council, they decided to name the line Trainy McTrainface:
A Swedish rail operator has vowed to name one of its trains Trainy McTrainface after a public vote, saying it would bring joy to people disappointed when Britain rejected the name Boaty McBoatface for a polar research ship following a similar poll.

Trainy McTrainface won 49% of the votes in the naming competition, conducted online by train operator MTR Express and Swedish newspaper Metro, beating choices such as Hakan, Miriam and Poseidon.

“[This is] news that will be received with joy by many, not just in Sweden,” MTR wrote in a statement.

The train will run between the Swedish capital Stockholm and Gothenburg, the country’s second-biggest city.

………

MTR said another train had been voted to be named “Glenn”, an apparent tribute to an IFK Gothenburg soccer team of the 1980s that featured four players of that name – uncommon in Sweden – including Glenn Hysen, who later captained Liverpool.
This is so cool.

20 July 2017

Epic Troll

Over at The Register, they discuss how the Royal Navy will maintain offensive capability now that they will have no antiship weapons between 2018 and 2020.

Their proposal is to put the biplane Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber on their aircraft carriers:
The solution to the Royal Navy’s post-2018 problem of having no anti-ship weapons is already in service and can even equip the UK’s new aircraft carriers.

The Fairey Swordfish (pictured above) is a versatile, rugged torpedo bomber first introduced into service in the 1930s. Having outlived everything introduced to replace it during the WWII, two flying examples remain in service with the RN Historic Flight.

These two aircraft could each be assigned to HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, the 70,000-ton aircraft carriers due to enter naval service in the near future.

Although neither carrier has catapults (or, indeed, aircraft until the year 2021), the Swordfish is capable of taking off within 540ft at full power* with the ship steaming into a 20kt wind – which compares very favourably with the QE-class’s 920ft flight deck.

The Swordfish has a noble and proud history of delivering the Navy’s ship-sinking capability, most notably over the Italian fleet at Taranto in 1940 and crippling the battleship Bismarck later in WWII. It is a proven war-winning platform with a straightforward wood-and-canvas construction that means spares and logistic trains will cost infinitely less than the heart-stoppingly expensive F-35B fighter jet (at around $130m per aircraft, according to some estimates) which will not be able to fly from the British carriers until 2021 at the earliest.
Snerk!

MSNBC Gets to Know C. Megalodon*

I have noted the self-immolation of the journalistic credibility by Rachel Maddow in the past, and while I do not generally watch Maddow, or MSNBC any more, I was bored and flipping channels, and came across Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell having a rather breathless discussion about how Donald Trump is asking for legal opinions about whether he can pardon family members and himself.

They are referring to a Washington Post story in which there is a more general discussion of legal tactics considered by the Trump administration.

Pardons came up, but is appears to be a part of discussion of a myriad of potential legal options to thwart MUller's investigation, so, not only did MSNBC bury the lede, but in so doing they missed the real story, which that the entire f%$#ing Trump administration is planning to subvert a federal investigation by constructing a  pretense for his dismissal:
Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself ,’ ” a close adviser said.

With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.

………

Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s private lawyers, said in an interview Thursday that the president and his legal team are intent on making sure Mueller stays within the boundaries of his assignment as special counsel. He said they will complain directly to Mueller if necessary.

“The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation,” Sekulow said. “The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object.”

Sekulow cited Bloomberg News reports that Mueller is scrutinizing some of Trump’s business dealings, including with a Russian oligarch who purchased a Palm Beach mansion from Trump for $95 million in 2008.

“They’re talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago,” Sekulow said. “In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation.”

………

The president’s legal representatives have also identified what they allege are several conflicts of interest facing Mueller, such as donations to Democrats by some of his prosecutors.

Another potential conflict claim is an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011, two White House advisers said. A spokesman for Mueller said there was no dispute when Mueller, who was FBI director at the time, left the club.

………

Some Republicans in frequent touch with the White House said they viewed the president’s decision to publicly air his disappointment with Sessions as a warning sign that the attorney general’s days were numbered. Several senior aides were described as “stunned” when Sessions announced Thursday morning he would stay on at the Justice Department.

Another Republican in touch with the administration described the public steps as part of a broader effort aimed at “laying the groundwork to fire” Mueller.

“Who attacks their entire Justice Department?” this person said. “It’s insane.”
It's a big story, but MSNBC is so far into its, "A noun, a verb, and Vladimir Putin," that it's missing the actual story:  Obstruction of Justice, the thing that they got Nixon for.

Lame.

*The largest shark, and likely largest predator fish ever. It died out some 1.5 million years ago. The Genus is still in dispute, between either Carcharodon (Great White) or Carcharocles (broad toothed Mako). But in either case, you are jumping C. Megalodon, you have jumped the biggest shark ever.

Mindbogglingly Incompetent

We have a reveal of the Democratic Party motto for 2018:
This is monumentally incompetent.

My take:

Fail

Mitch McConnell and his merry band of psychopaths have failed even worse on their 2nd try to repeal Obamacare:
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, announced Tuesday morning on the Senate floor that the Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace Obamacare had failed.

This turn of events marks a stunning defeat for President Trump, who has made a “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) one of his central policy goals. Although he has issued executive orders on immigration, deregulation, and taken other reactionary initiatives, no major legislation has been moved through Congress for him to sign.

McConnell was unable to bring the latest version of Senate Republicans’ Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) to a vote after two Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, came out in opposition to the bill, leaving the Senate leadership at least two votes short of the number needed to begin debate on the measure.

Two other Republicans, Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, had already signaled their opposition. With a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate, the measure could only lose the support of two Republicans, with Vice President Mike Pence brought in to break a tie.

Senate Republicans then pivoted to “Plan B,” described by McConnell as legislation that would include a “repeal of Obamacare combined with a stable two-year transition period.” This measure was scuttled almost as soon as it was advanced, as three Republican senators indicated that they would not vote to bring it to the Senate floor.
I  believe that the source of Republican problems is that, as Stephen Colbert noted, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

This interferes with Republican attempts to impoverish and inmiserate the American public.

This Is the Right Thing to Do, Though the Reasons Are Probably Wrong

Donald Trump has ended the CIA's effort to fund Jihadi/al Qaeda forces in Syria trying to overthrow the Assad regime.

Of course, since this story was revealed by the Washington Post, which has endorsed every fakakta regime change scheme forever, they try to spin it as some sort of collusion with Putin, but the fact that the CIA has literally been providing support to al Qaeda affiliates indicates the complete intellectual bankruptcy of this effort.

It also is a shot across the bow of other nations **cough** House of Saud **cough** that their support of Salafist fighters in Syria.

The sad thing about Syria is that for most of the country (Kurdistan* is the exception), Bashir Assad is the best option, which is thoroughly depressing.
President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials.

The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later.

Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power.

………

After the Trump-Putin meeting, the United States and Russia announced an agreement to back a new cease-fire in southwest Syria, along the Jordanian border, where many of the CIA-backed rebels have long operated. Trump described the limited cease-fire deal as one of the benefits of a constructive working relationship with Moscow.

The move to end the secret program to arm the anti-Assad rebels was not a condition of the cease-fire negotiations, which were already well underway, said U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secret program.

Trump’s dealings with Russia have been under heavy scrutiny because of the investigations into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. The decision on the CIA-backed rebels will be welcomed by Moscow, which focused its firepower on those fighters after it intervened in Syria in 2015.

Some current and former officials who support the program cast the move as a major concession.

“This is a momentous decision,” said a current official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a covert program. “Putin won in Syria.”
No, Putin didn't win, you are your merry band of regime change fetishists lost, and you deserved to.

Look at Libya and Iraq. Your world view sucks wet farts from dead pigeons.

The interventionist foreign policy consensus, as personified by the Council on Foreign Relations, has created instability, terrorism, suffering, and massive loss of life around the world, and it needs to be repudiated.


*Of course, at the end of all this, the Kurds are going to get completely f%$#ed, because that is what Ankara will demand, but the Kurds always get f%$#ed in the great power games in the Middle East.

Linkage

A good essay on swords, though katana lovers might object to some of the characterizations:

    19 July 2017

    Not a Good Prognosis


    This is a very aggressive cancer, and typical survival rate after diagnosis is around a year and a half:
    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, his office said Wednesday, throwing into doubt when and if he will return to Washington to resume his duties in the Senate.

    The Mayo Clinic said doctors diagnosed a tumor called a glioblastoma after surgery to remove a blood clot above McCain’s left eye last week. The senator and his family are considering treatment options, including a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, according to the hospital.

    McCain, 80, has been away from the Senate this week, recovering from the surgery and undergoing tests. His office issued a statement describing him “in good spirits” and noting that his doctors say his underlying health is excellent — but not indicating when he will return to the Senate.

    Glioblastoma is an aggressive type of brain cancer, and the prognosis for this kind of cancer is generally poor. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) survived less than 15 months after his was found in 2008. McCain’s doctors said the “tissue of concern” was removed during the blood-clot procedure.
    In the best case, McCain is unlikely to be back in Washington for a while, which would make things even worse for Mitch McConnell in his attempts to corral votes.

    Damn

    Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee said on Tuesday that Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan stripped her amendment, which would have repealed authorization for the use of military force against ISIS, from a defense-spending bill.

    "Ryan stripped my 01 AUMF repeal amdt from DOD Approps in the dead of night. This is underhanded & undemocratic. The people deserve a debate!" she tweeted Tuesday night.

    Lee's amendment, which received bipartisan support, would have repealed the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and made Congress pass another one to continue the campaign against ISIS.
    You knew that this was going to happen.

    If the Republicans weren't willing to repeal the AUMF under Obama, who they loathed,  they won't do it now.

    It is cowardice.

    Because of the 2001 AUMF, they don't have to vote to authorize the next war, and the members of Congress do not want to own that decision.

    Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen


    Roll Tape!
    A police officer in Baltimore was filmed planting evidence on his body cam.

    He was unaware that the camera constantly recorded video, and saved the 30 seconds before the camera was turned on, and a sharp eyed public defender spotted this:
    ………

    Now there's word of another such incident in Baltimore, related to video from a January drug arrest. The officer's trickery was revealed by the fact that his body cam retained footage for 30 seconds before it was activated to begin recording. During that time, according to the footage and the Baltimore public defender's office, officer Richard Pinheiro puts a bag of pills in a can in an alley and walks out of the alley.

    The Axon cam's initial 30 seconds of footage, by default, doesn't have sound. After 30 seconds, viewers of the video can both see and hear the officer looking for drugs in the alley. Lo and behold, he finds them in the same soup can that he placed them in, according to the footage, which was released Wednesday. Pinheiro can then be heard yelling "yo" to his fellow officers, telling them he found drugs in the alley.

    The Baltimore Police Department said Wednesday it was investigating the matter, and the three officers seen in the video. The Baltimore public defender's office discovered the incident when reviewing body cam footage while preparing to defend an upcoming drug prosecution.

    The footage paved the way for the authorities to drop charges against the drug suspect, who had remained jailed since January on $50,000 bail he could not post. The Baltimore public defender's office said the officer in question is a witness in as many as 53 other active cases, according to the Baltimore Sun.
    (emphasis mine)

    Why this officer, and the two other cops in the film, haven't been charged is completely beyond me.

    There is clearly probable cause sufficient for the state's attorney to get an arrest warrant by all three officers.

    Most likely the police commissioner and the state's attorney are busy trying to figure out what the absolute minimum to deal with this issue, because covering up for bad cops is what the authorities do.

    If they are forced to prosecute by public pressure, I expect the case to be mismanaged, because they will play to lose.

    Squee!!!!!

    There is a colony of feral cats in our neighborhood.

    Today, I saw momcat, a tortoiseshell, and one of her kittens, a ginger tabby, who was nursing at the time.

    I watched for a bit while momcat stared daggers at me.

    They were likely part of RP's progeny.

    Seriously cute.

    18 July 2017

    True

    The founder of the Russian punk bank Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, is saying that liberals are using Putin as a scapegoat to avoid looking at the problems of the Democratic party.

    Considering the fact that Putin had her thrown in jail for over a year for their protests of his regime, it is a remarkable statement:
    Sirota: Do you believe the American political class and media exaggerate the threat of Putin for its own ends?

    Tolokonnikova: Yeah. They're just looking for a scapegoat and, you know, for Trump it's Muslims and Mexican workers. And for liberal media in America it is Putin.
    I've been saying this for how long?

    I Have Heard This Story Before


    Saroff's Rule* Applies
    Because what is going on in student loans looks a lot like the dodgy documentation that have been a feature of mortgages over the past few years.

    This all very similar to the clusterf%$# that is MERS that I have been writing about for years:
    Tens of thousands of people who took out private loans to pay for college but have not been able to keep up payments may get their debts wiped away because critical paperwork is missing.

    The troubled loans, which total at least $5 billion, are at the center of a protracted legal dispute between the student borrowers and a group of creditors who have aggressively pursued them in court after they fell behind on payments.

    Judges have already dismissed dozens of lawsuits against former students, essentially wiping out their debt, because documents proving who owns the loans are missing. A review of court records by The New York Times shows that many other collection cases are deeply flawed, with incomplete ownership records and mass-produced documentation.

    Some of the problems playing out now in the $108 billion private student loan market are reminiscent of those that arose from the subprime mortgage crisis a decade ago, when billions of dollars in subprime mortgage loans were ruled uncollectible by courts because of missing or fake documentation. And like those troubled mortgages, private student loans — which come with higher interest rates and fewer consumer protections than federal loans — are often targeted at the most vulnerable borrowers, like those attending for-profit schools.

    At the center of the storm is one of the nation’s largest owners of private student loans, the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts. It is struggling to prove in court that it has the legal paperwork showing ownership of its loans, which were originally made by banks and then sold to investors. National Collegiate’s lawyers warned in a recent legal filing, “As news of the servicing issues and the trusts’ inability to produce the documents needed to foreclose on loans spreads, the likelihood of more defaults rises.”

    National Collegiate is an umbrella name for 15 trusts that hold 800,000 private student loans, totaling $12 billion. More than $5 billion of that debt is in default, according to court filings. The trusts aggressively pursue borrowers who fall behind on their bills. Across the country, they have brought at least four new collection cases each day, on average — more than 800 so far this year — and tens of thousands of lawsuits in the past five years.

    ………

    In her defense, Ms. Watson’s lawyer seized upon what he saw as the flaws in National Collegiate’s paperwork. Judge Eddie McShan of New York City’s Civil Court in the Bronx agreed and dismissed four lawsuits against Ms. Watson. The trusts “failed to establish the chain of title” on Ms. Watson’s loans, he wrote in one ruling.

    ………

    Judges throughout the country, including recently in cases in New Hampshire, Ohio and Texas, have tossed out lawsuits by National Collegiate, ruling that it did not prove it owned the debt on which it was trying to collect.

    ………

    National Collegiate’s beneficial owner, Mr. Uderitz, hired a contractor in 2015 to audit the servicing company that bills National Collegiate’s borrowers each month and is supposed to maintain custody of many loan documents critical for collection cases.

    A random sample of nearly 400 National Collegiate loans found not a single one had assignment paperwork documenting the chain of ownership, according to a report they had prepared.
    (emphasis mine)

    People who say that our financial industry must be free to innovate need to look at sh%$ like this.

    To quote Paul Volker, "The only thing useful banks have invented in 20 years is the ATM."

    *Saroff's Rule: If a financial transaction is complex enough to require that a news organization use a cartoon to explain it, its purpose is to deceive.