28 February 2019

Also, I Did Not Expect This

A federal judge has ordered Texas election officials to halt a planned purge of electoral rolls, calling their effort “ham-handed” and “threatening” and saying there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.

The Wednesday ruling, a relief for voting rights activists, puts a temporary stop to the secretary of state’s search for noncitizens who may have voted illegally — a probe that proved deeply flawed just days after it began.

In late January, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley made the startling announcement that nearly 60,000 noncitizens over two decades may have voted in state elections. In response to this finding, Whitley said, counties must conduct “list maintenance activity,” a bureaucratic euphemism for canceling the registrations of fraud suspects.

Whitley’s statement galvanized lawmakers — nearly all Republicans — who claim that tens of thousands of noncitizens are committing large-scale voter fraud. Even President Trump weighed in.

But there was a catch: As U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said this week, the secretary of state’s numbers were wrong.

“It appears this is a solution looking for a problem,” Biery wrote in his ruling, saying the policy “exemplifies the power of government to strike fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us.”
The government striking, "fear and anxiety [] to intimidate the least powerful among us," was the intended goal.

Preventing non-whites from voting is a core electoral strategy of the Republican Party these days.

Needless to say, I expect the Supreme Court to overturn this, because 5 of the justices are partisan hacks.

I Did Not Expect This

The House passed a bill closing the gun show loophole:
The House on Wednesday passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for all firearm sales, including those sold at gun shows and online.

Why it matters: This is the first gun control bill that Congress has considered in nearly 25 years. Gun control has been near the top of the Democratic agenda since the party took back control of the House in November's midterms, galvanized by recent mass shootings and student-led activism.

Details: The bill, HR 8, also prohibits firearms transfers by a person who is not a licensed dealer. However, it does exclude "gifts to family members and transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense," according to the House Judiciary Committee website.
To be completely honest, I did not believe that the Dems would have the guts to do this.

Also:  F%$# the NRA.

27 February 2019

Kind of Like West Side Story, With Nukes

In the most ominous military confrontation between India and Pakistan since both tested nuclear weapons two decades ago, Pakistan said it shot down two Indian military aircraft over its territory Wednesday and launched strikes in Indian-controlled Kashmir, while India claimed it shot down a Pakistani fighter jet in the “aerial encounter.”

An especially volatile aspect of the confrontation was Pakistan’s capture of an Indian fighter pilot. Pakistani military officials posted a photo of him on Twitter sitting in a room, and they said he was being treated “per norms of military ethics.”

But Pakistani television showed a video of the pilot, blindfolded and apparently with blood on his face. India’s Foreign Ministry said it “strongly objected to Pakistan’s vulgar display of an injured personnel” and expected “his immediate and safe return.”

While experts warned that the clash could easily escalate out of control, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told his nation Wednesday that he wanted to avoid war with India, saying, “Let’s settle this with talks.” There was no public statement, however, by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  
I really hope that this does not get out of hand, because there are no good dance numbers involving nuclear weapons.

Republicans Have Their Tongues So Far up Trump's Ass That They Are Tasting Tonsils

Nothing that Michael Cohen said in his testimony before Congress was a surprise, thought the documentary evidence (Canceled checks, etc.) was impressive.

That being said, it really is remarkable just how aggressively the Republicans have stapled themselves to Trump. For all the, "Dear Leader," jokes about Republicans' devotion to George W. Bush when was in the White House, what is going on now is unbelievably creepy and self-destructive.

Stupid is as Stupid Does


Seriously, just how badly does someone have to f%$# up for the Democratic Party establishment to say, "That's it, out of the pool."

This man ran the worst campaign in the history of history, he lost to an inverted traffic cone, and he is still getting jobs.

In related news, Harvey Weinstein has been appointed by the DNC to head its gender equity committee.

Clearly, Ending a 69 Year Old War Is Clearly a Disaster of Unprecedented Proportions

There is no better example of a complete and total intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the American foreign policy establishment in general, and liberal interventionism in particular than Susan Rice's OP/ED in the New York Times.

It appears that, in Susan Rice's world, negotiations should only occur when the other side has capitulated completely, and putting the official end to a war that started 69 years ago makes one an enemy of peace.

She notes that Kim sees his nuclear program as, "Vital to his regime’s survival," but seems to think, particularly as the US is fomenting a coup in Venezuela, that talking without further tightening of sanctions, which, incidentally, would likely trigger refugee flows into China, is somehow irresponsible.

In the words of Bugs Bunny, "What a maroon."

26 February 2019

Well, He Would Say That, Wouldn't He?

Yes, I am not at all surprised that Tony Blair is backing the Labour Quislings.

After all, Labour actually starts standing for the average working bloke, this would be a complete refutation of his legacy.

He's a self serving smarmy bastard, and Bush's poodle.

F%$# him with Cheney's Dick.

Sortition in Ostbelgien

It looks like there will be councils established in the German speaking (eastern) regions of Belgium:

They are establishing citizens advisory councils selected by lot: (PDF)
As of September 2019 a Citizen Council (Bürgerrat) consisting of 24 members will propose policy recommendations to the elected parliament on its own initiative or after a request. In doing this, the Council will rely on recommendations drafted by re gular, independent Citizens’ Assemblies drawn by lot ( Bürgerversammlungen ). Parliament has to respond to the recommendations.

Members of the Citizens’ Council hold their seat for a year and a half. They are drawn by lot from previous members of the Citizens’ Assemblies and convene once a month. A Citizens’ Assembly on the other hand will normally last about three weekends over th ree months and has a maximum of 50 members. The Citizen Council will be able to decide how large a specific a Citizens’ Assembly needs to be and how long a given topic should be debated. Participation by citizens is not mandatory, but a daily fee will be given to those who do. The composition of both bodies, Citizen Council and Citizen Assemblies, needs to be representative in terms of gender, age, education and residence. Extra criteria can be added, if needed. Citizens’ as of the age of 16 can be chosen to be part of a Citizens’ Assembly.
As always, I am dubious of such efforts, but this is limited in scope, so it provides a relatively risk free way to evaluate the concept.

Deep Thought

Alton Brown should have the Swedish Chef on as a guest on his rebooted Good Eats.

25 February 2019

This Sh%$ Is Getting REALLY Old

A man named Volodymyr Zelensky is currently leading the polls to be the next President of the Ukraine.

Some guy with an unpronounceable name running for President in a former Soviet Republic would normally not be worth of a comment, except for the fact that he is a comedian who plays the Ukrainian President on TV:
A comedian who plays Ukraine's president on TV is running for president in the country and led in two polls conducted earlier this month.

Volodymyr Zelensky, 41, stars in "Servant of the People," a TV show where he plays a history teacher who is elected president of Ukraine after his anti-corruption rant goes viral, NBC News reported.

Zelensky, who has no political experience, had the largest share of support among respondents in a poll conducted earlier this month by Ukraine's Razumkov Center, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency said. The country's presidential election is set for March 31.
………

Zelensky, also a lawyer and businessman, has a unique approach to campaigning. NBC News said he doesn't hold rallies but sells tickets to comedy gigs in which he parodies his competition and shares "behind-the-scenes campaign videos" on Facebook and YouTube.

If he is elected president, Zelensky will face ongoing tensions with Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014, as well as a crumbling economy and widespread corruption, NBC News reported. Zelensky has also said he would speak directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the war in eastern Ukraine.
Enough already.

At the rate this is going, I expect an animated TV character to become the President of Belgium.

2 Words: Diego Garcia

The International Court of Justice has ruled that UK's continued administration of the Chagos Islands is illegal.

Normally, this would be thought less serious than, for example, the ruling against China's claims to the South China sea, except that one of the islands is the US mega-base at Diego Garcia.

The British government expelled all every resident of the island to accommodate the US military, so this could get ugly.

If the British blink, I would expect the Pentagon to continue squatting on the island:
The UK has been ordered to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius “as rapidly as possible” after the United Nations’ highest court ruled that continued British occupation of the remote Indian Ocean archipelago is illegal.



Although the majority decision by the international court of justice in The Hague is only advisory, the unambiguous clarity of the judges’ pronouncement is a humiliating blow to Britain’s prestige on the world stage.

The case was referred to the court, which hears legal submissions over international boundary disputes, after an overwhelming vote in 2017 in the UN assembly in the face of fierce opposition from a largely isolated UK.

Delivering judgment, the president of the ICJ, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the detachment of the Chagos archipelago in 1965 from Mauritius had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned”.

“This continued administration constitutes a wrongful act,” he added. “The UK has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos archipelago as rapidly as possible and that all member states must co-operate with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius.”

………

The judgment represents a significant defeat for the UK on virtually every point it contested in the hearing last September.

By a majority of 13 to one, the court found that the decolonisation of Mauritius had not been lawfully completed and that it must be completed “as rapidly as possible”. The only judge dissenting from the main opinion was an American.
Of course the only judge dissenting was American.  We want that airbase.

That British deported the entire population of the island chain to facilitate this.

It was an immoral theft of these people's homeland.

Jail Time, Please.

If Elon Musk was a a CEO from anywhere else by Silicon Valley, he would already have been banned for life from managing publicly traded companies.

As it is, the fines have meant nothing for him, and so the SEC has filed a contempt of court complaint against him for his recent tweets.

If he spends a couple of weeks behind bars, not only will it deter him, but it will also deter the rest of the self-important fraudsters who infest the tech industry in the US:
The Securities and Exchange Commission asked a federal judge on Monday to hold Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk in contempt of court over tweets he made last week discussing the auto maker’s 2019 projected production volumes.

In a court filing, the SEC said Mr. Musk violated a condition of his settlement with the regulator last year, when he was accused of tweeting misleading information about taking Tesla private. Mr. Musk’s deal with the SEC required that Tesla officials preapprove any statements from Mr. Musk that could affect the company’s stock price.

………

In a series of Twitter messages on Feb. 19 that began as a celebration over Tesla vehicles prepared for shipment to Europe, Mr. Musk noted how the auto maker had achieved strong growth in recent years. “Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019,” he wrote in a tweet after regular trading hours.

The suggestion that Tesla would make 500,000 vehicles this year stood in contrast to guidance given by the company on Jan. 30. In his quarterly shareholder letter, Mr. Musk told investors that Tesla would reach an annualized build rate of 500,000 Model 3s sometime between the fourth quarter of this year and the second quarter of next year. Mr. Musk said in Tesla’s shareholder letter that the company planned to deliver as many as 400,000 in all of 2019.

Hours after his initial tweets, Mr. Musk clarified in another message, writing, “Meant to say annualized production rate at end of 2019 probably around 500k, ie 10k cars/week. Deliveries for year still estimated to be about 400k.”

The SEC said that Mr. Musk “did not seek or receive preapproval prior to publishing this tweet, which was inaccurate and disseminated to over 24 million people.”

In its response to the SEC, Tesla stated the content of Mr. Musk’s tweet had previously been preapproved for a Jan. 30 release by the company’s general counsel and designated securities counsel.

“Although the 7:15 PM EST tweet was not individually preapproved, Mr. Musk believed that the substance had already been appropriately vetted, preapproved, and publicly disseminated,” wrote Bradley Bondi, outside counsel working for Tesla, in a letter dated Feb. 22 and included in the material filed with the court by the SEC and released Monday. “Moreover, the tweet was made outside of NASDAQ trading hours.”
Bovine scatology.

This is a Bull Durham moment.

Elon Musk just called the umpires a c%$# sucker, and the umps have to toss him out.

Short of dropping his pants and mooning the SEC, I cannot see a clearer example of contempt of court.

They do sh%$ like this because they can, and they need to be disabused of this notion.

24 February 2019

Break Up Facebook

It appears that Facebook knows when you are ovulating, which is making that old Santa Clause* song a lot less creepy.

Have you noticed that every "mistake" Facebook makes involves them lying to you about what data they are collecting?

It never makes an error where they don't collect something that they should have.

It's almost like they are lying motherf%$#ers who have no respect at all for your privacy:
Millions of smartphone users confess their most intimate secrets to apps, including when they want to work on their belly fat or the price of the house they checked out last weekend. Other apps know users’ body weight, blood pressure, menstrual cycles or pregnancy status.

Unbeknown to most people, in many cases that data is being shared with someone else: Facebook Inc.

The social-media giant collects intensely personal information from many popular smartphone apps just seconds after users enter it, even if the user has no connection to Facebook, according to testing done by The Wall Street Journal. The apps often send the data without any prominent or specific disclosure, the testing showed.

………

In the case of apps, the Journal’s testing showed that Facebook software collects data from many apps even if no Facebook account is used to log in and if the end user isn’t a Facebook member.

………

Facebook said some of the data sharing uncovered by the Journal’s testing appeared to violate its business terms, which instruct app developers not to send it “health, financial information or other categories of sensitive information.” Facebook said it is telling apps flagged by the Journal to stop sending information its users might regard as sensitive. The company said it may take additional action if the apps don’t comply.

“We require app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us,” a Facebook spokeswoman said.

………

“This is a big mess,” said Patrick Jackson, Disconnect’s chief technology officer, who analyzed apps on behalf of the Journal. “This is completely independent of the functionality of the app.” 
This is not an accident.

Every data breach sells more ads on Facebook for more money.  Why should it be a surprise that these "accidents" keep happening?

Facebook has been slurping up user data, lying about it, crying crocodile tears and promising not to do it again, and then doing it again since Mark Zuckerberg was a Harvard undergrad.

They will act irresponsibly until they are compelled to by the courts.

*He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake………

And Now the Koch Brothers are Corrupting Our Children

Their network is now trying to foist their Objectivist propaganda on schools:
I was one of a number of community residents who reviewed the textbook, Ethics, Economy and Entrepreneurship (EE&E), proposed for use in Tucson Unified School District high schools.

To me, the first clue that this textbook lacked academic integrity was when the authors, three philosophy and marketing professors, began their section on trade 40,000 years ago with the claim that the Neanderthals became extinct because they “weren’t entrepreneurs.” Further nonsense included the idea that Jamestown failed because the settlers didn’t have private property rights, that American bison almost became extinct because Native Americans drove them off cliffs, and that towns were founded before agriculture.

………

The EE&E textbook does not adhere to textbook guidelines recommended to educators. It was not written by experts in the field, peer-reviewed and published by a reputable publishing house — it is published by Sagent Labs, which is owned by the authors. Moreover, the textbook does not have footnotes, an index, a bibliography or references to help students distinguish between credentialed subject matter experts and propagandists. Why the textbook was written, though, is an interesting tale of dark money advancing libertarian propaganda.

Fortunately, in December, a small group of academics and concerned citizens convinced the Tucson Unified School Board to not include the textbook and its related course in their high school curriculum. This vote seems like such a minor thing: one textbook, one elective high school course, one school district. But elements of the yearlong effort by this small group, called Kochs Off Campus, has a number of national implications.
These are evil men who want to starve education so that they can prey on our children.

Walking the Walk

Not only does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocate for a living wage, she pays her staff a living wage:
Claudia Pagon Marchena, like so many Hill staffers, moonlighted at a Washington, D.C., eatery to pay her rent until she took a job with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She celebrated her last day at her coffee shop job that same week.

That’s because Ocasio-Cortez, who has called on fellow lawmakers to pay their staffs a “living wage,” is making an example out of her own office. The New York Democrat has introduced an unusual policy that no one on her staff will make less than $52,000 a year — an almost unheard of amount for many of the 20-somethings whose long hours make House and Senate offices run.

For Pagon Marchena, 22, the pay bump meant an end to a grueling, seven-day-a-week work schedule that was wearing down her resolve to stay in Washington, where rents average more than $2,000 a month.

“It was unsustainable,” she said. “I needed an office that was going to pay me a fair wage.”

The policy, which has not been previously reported, is the latest sign that Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive Democrats intend to buck a long-established trend of ostentatious austerity in congressional offices. Government watchdog groups say deep cuts to office and committee budgets have contributed to a lack of diversity in Hill offices, high turnover and congressional brain drain.

………

Ocasio-Cortez is trying to force the conversation. She made national headlines in December by announcing that all interns in her office would make $15 an hour plus benefits — a rarity for Capitol Hill offices in which interns are often unpaid. She has also highlighted the high number of Hill staff members who work side jobs to make up for median salaries as low as $35,000 for staff assistants, the lowest paid positions in congressional offices, according to a Legistorm analysis last year.

“We think that if a person is working, they should make enough to live,” said Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez’s communications director.
I am counting down the days until she can run for President.

23 February 2019

Can Any Francophiles Comment on This Analysis?

I do not that massive and disruptive protests are very much a part of French political culture.

I do think that part of this comes from centuries old cultural traditions, but André Sapir makes a cogent argument that this is an artifact of France's highly centralized government presided over by its imperial Presidency:
Outside France, many economists tend to ascribe the yellow vest movement to the fact that the French are rebellious and that France is politically unmanageable. But what is special about France is not its people but its institutional system, which differs vastly from those of other European countries. Three dimensions seem to me particularly relevant in the current context.

The first concerns the political system. Under the current constitution, power is far more personalised than elsewhere. France is not a parliamentary democracy like Britain or Germany. Sure, all three have a lower and an upper chamber, but political parties play a fundamentally different role in France.

There, the dominant party is a creation of the president – like the RPR was a creation of Jacques Chirac, the Socialist party was created by François Mitterrand, and La République en Marche is the creation of Emmanuel Macron, around whom the party entirely revolves.

Elsewhere, the history of the major political parties is clearly distinct from the persona of their current leader. The CDU in Germany or the Conservative party in Britain are not the creation of Angela Merkel or Theresa May.

The second French peculiarity concerns the role of intermediate institutions, and in particular labour unions. Among the large European countries, France is where the rate of union membership is the lowest. In 2015, it was 36% in Italy, 25% in Britain, 18% in Germany, 14% in Spain, 12% in Poland and barely 8% in France. And the current practice further weakens the role of labour unions in the management of social conflicts.

………

Despite this situation, France is the most centralised of the six biggest EU countries. According to the OECD, the share of sub-national entities in total public expenditure is only 20% in France against 50% in Spain, 47% in Germany, 32% in Poland, 30% in Italy and 26% in Britain.

The conclusion is incontestable. France is the European country where there is the most rebellion against its leader, because his power is the most personalised and the most centralised among the six big EU countries.

The personalisation of power, the weakness of Parliament – with a dominant party dominated by a single person – and the weak role of intermediate bodies like labour unions all combine to create a situation where citizens have no recourse to make their voice heard other than taking to the streets and demanding the resignation of the president.

………

Many French economists rightly favour reforming France’s social model towards greater flexibility and greater security, like in Scandinavian countries. But they should remember that these countries have very high unionisation rates (67% in Denmark and Sweden) and extensive territorial decentralisation of public expenditures (with sub-national entities accounting for 65% of such expenditures in Denmark and 50% in Sweden). Attempting to copy the Scandinavian social system without changing the French institutional system would not be very productive.

France is not unmanageable. It simply needs a better governance. Why not start with a greater decentralisation of public expenditures? A reasonable objective could be to increase the share of sub-national entities in public expenditures from 20% to 30% by 2025, and further to 40% by 2030. But this cannot be done without a substantial institutional reform to ensure that decentralised public expenditures are both efficient and of good quality.
I think that a lot of this is history, mass protests in France have been a feature of their political economy since (at least) the French Revolution, but I do think that the weakness of political parties and the centralization of the government have exacerbated this phenomenon.


H/t naked capitalism.

Charming to the Last

Protesters who supposedly gathered to express outrage after Amazon dropped plans for a Queens headquarters included mercenary activists paid to turn up, according to video and some participants.

The crowd picketed outside the retail giant's brick-and-mortar store on West 34th Street Feb. 15 in a protest spearheaded by Long Island City landlord Sammy Musovic, who said he'd borrowed money to renovate his four-story apartment building in anticipation of the company's arrival.

Flanking Musovic was a group of about 10 men holding up signs reading "Boycott Amazon!" and "Amazon Left Us!"

But two of those participants told Patch they had responded to a Craigslist post recruiting people to hold signs for $30 an hour. A video obtained by Patch shows a man handing out cash to a group of protesters after the event.

………

Musovic denied any knowledge of the Craigslist post and the payments. "I don't know anything about that," he said by phone. "We were just trying to get Amazon back on the table."

When a reporter described the video documenting the payments, Musovic repeated the denial and hung up.
I believe that the term for this is "Manufacturing Consent."


I Approve of Apple's Actions


Even better, it's offering jobs to employees from those stores at stores across the district boundaries:
Apple has confirmed its plans to close retail stores in the Eastern District of Texas — a move that will allow the company to better protect itself from patent infringement lawsuits, according to Apple news sites 9to5Mac and MacRumors, which broke the news of the stores’ closures. Apple says that the impacted retail employees will be offered new jobs with the company as a result of these changes.

The company will shut down its Apple Willow Bend store in Plano, Texas as well as its Apple Stonebriar store in Frisco, Texas, MacRumors reported, and Apple confirmed. These stores will permanently close up shop on Friday, April 12. Customers in the region will instead be served by a new Apple store located at the Galleria Dallas Shopping Mall, which is expected to open April 13.

Apple did not comment on the stores’ dates of closure or the new store’s opening.

………

The Eastern District of Texas had become a popular place for patent trolls to file their lawsuits – which may be filed where the defendant committed the infringement. However, a more recent Supreme Court ruling has attempted to crack down on the practice. The court ruled that patent holders could no longer choose where to file.

………

The Apple store closures could have had a notable impact on area jobs, had Apple not offered new positions to its retail staff. 
I'm surprised that more businesses have not taken similar actions, given the thoroughly dysfunctional nature of this court district.

Tweet of the Day


Yes, and also apply the much maligned asset forfeiture laws to this as well.

22 February 2019

Headline of the Day

FDA: Stealing Young People's Blood Won't Make You Immortal
Cracked
Why do we need to tell people this?

On this Day in 1630………

Indians in Massachusetts introduced English settlers to popcorn.

I will leave the rest to the Swedish Chef:

Quote of the Day

For Stone’s entire life, the press has coddled Stone, treating him as a nifty character whose toxic speech doesn’t damage society. ABJ was having none of that, and used both Rogow’s position as an officer of the court and Stone’s insane willingness to take the stand to get them to acknowledge that his speech is toxic, that it does pose a threat to society. Stone presumably wasn’t prepared for that because no one has called him on his toxic speech before.
emptywheel
The Rat-F%$#er has left the building!

Matt Taibbi, Thomas Friedman, Pies, Trees!

Thomas Friedman wrote something really stupid in the New York Times.

This would not be news, except that it was really stupid even by the standards of Thomas Friedman, which buggers the mind, but Matt Taibbi is all over it.

In his analysis of Friedman's codswallop, Taibbi notes that Friedman's fondness for compound words seems almost German:
If you put it all together, you could rewrite the original Friedman sentence as:

It’s opened a fissure between the Staatsgewaltbeschränkungsvolkswirtschaftswachstumsurzeitrepublikaner and the Antiimmigrantennullsummenspielzugbrückenverbarrikadierungstrumper.
Just read the whole thing.

It's fun, Matt Taibbi is having fun, and you will have fun.

Forget It Jake, It's Facebook


Want to sell ads to fans of Joseph Mengele?
We now know that Facebook had algorithms to identify Nazis, and sold them to advertisers, because, Nazis, Schmazis, there is money to be made:
Facebook makes money by charging advertisers to reach just the right audience for their message — even when that audience is made up of people interested in the perpetrators of the Holocaust or explicitly neo-Nazi music.

Despite promises of greater oversight following past advertising scandals, a Times review shows that Facebook has continued to allow advertisers to target hundreds of thousands of users the social media firm believes are curious about topics such as “Joseph Goebbels,” “Josef Mengele,” “Heinrich Himmler,” the neo-nazi punk band Skrewdriver and Benito Mussolini’s long-defunct National Fascist Party.

Experts say that this practice runs counter to the company’s stated principles and can help fuel radicalization online.

………

The Times decided to test the effectiveness of the company’s efforts by seeing if Facebook would allow the sale of ads directed to certain segments of users.

Facebook allowed The Times to target ads to users Facebook has determined are interested in Goebbels, the Third Reich’s chief propagandist, Himmler, the architect of the Holocaust and leader of the SS, and Mengele, the infamous concentration camp doctor who performed human experiments on prisoners. Each category included hundreds of thousands of users.

The company also approved an ad targeted to fans of Skrewdriver, a notorious white supremacist punk band — and automatically suggested a series of topics related to European far-right movements to bolster the ad’s reach.

Collectively, the ads were seen by 4,153 users in 24 hours, with The Times paying only $25 to fuel the push.
Facebook, and its founder Mark Zuckerberg, has amoral lies as a central part of its business ever since he was a student at Harvard.

The idea that anyone should be surprised by this is laughable.

It's their basic DNA.

21 February 2019

I'm Not Sure That This Is Even News, and That Is Alarming


Boys and Their Toys
Some whack-doodle Alt-Right Coast Guard officer accumulated an arsenal, and was planning to target Democratic politicians and journalists.

This is disturbing because it is neither unexpected nor particularly unusual.

To quote David Warner (Jack the Ripper) from the 1979 movie Time After Time, "Ninety years ago I was a freak. Today I'm an amateur."
A white supremacist Coast Guard lieutenant is accused of stockpiling weapons, compiling a hit list of Democratic senators and left-leaning journalists, and preparing for a massacre.

Prosecutors in Maryland called Christopher Paul Hasson a “domestic terrorist” in a Tuesday court filing, first reported by George Washington University’s Seamus Hughes, that argued for Hasson’s detention ahead of trial on firearms and controlled substance charges.

What law enforcement discovered during a Feb. 15 arrest and search led prosecutors to tell a federal court that Hasson “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” They included references to an anti-abortion bomber; a white supremacist Islamophobic mass murderer in Norway; his stated desire to “kill almost every last person on the earth” through biological weapons; and the discovery of 15 guns in his Silver Spring, Maryland basement.

Specific journalists and others appear in Hasson’s search history, the filing claims, including: MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes, Joe Scarborough, and Ari Melber; Sens. Richard Blumenthal—or “blumen jew,” in Hasson’s writing—Tim Kaine, Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker; Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Ilhan Omar; CNN’s Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, and Van Jones; as well as prominent Democrats Beto O’Rourke and John Podesta, and the Democratic Socialists of America.
I am shocked at the fact that I am completely not shocked.

If this is the new normal, we are f%$#ed.

Not Enought Bullets

One of the most annoying facets of the New York Times is its predilection for publishing stories that sound like a telethon for the overpriviliged .

Seriously. This guy goes to a class reunion of Harvard Business School, and the whining of overpaid parasites is deafening:
My first, charmed week as a student at Harvard Business School, late in the summer of 2001, felt like a halcyon time for capitalism. AOL Time Warner, Yahoo and Napster were benevolently connecting the world. Enron and WorldCom were bringing innovation to hidebound industries. President George W. Bush — an H.B.S. graduate himself — had promised to deliver progress and prosperity with businesslike efficiency.

The next few years would prove how little we (and Washington and much of corporate America) really understood about the economy and the world. But at the time, for the 895 first-years preparing ourselves for business moguldom, what really excited us was our good luck. A Harvard M.B.A. seemed like a winning lottery ticket, a gilded highway to world-changing influence, fantastic wealth and — if those self-satisfied portraits that lined the hallways were any indication — a lifetime of deeply meaningful work.

So it came as a bit of a shock, when I attended my 15th reunion last summer, to learn how many of my former classmates weren’t overjoyed by their professional lives — in fact, they were miserable. I heard about one fellow alum who had run a large hedge fund until being sued by investors (who also happened to be the fund manager’s relatives). Another person had risen to a senior role inside one of the nation’s most prestigious companies before being savagely pushed out by corporate politics. Another had learned in the maternity ward that her firm was being stolen by a conniving partner.
So, we have a guy who made his fortune by relying on relatives, another one who was paid obscene amounts as senior management, and someone who partnered with someone who sounds like a Harvard Business School graduate.

One quote, "It was insanely stressful work, done among people he didn’t particularly like. He earned about $1.2 million a year and hated going to the office," sticks in my head.

This guy is 15 years into a career, and assuming that his $1.2 million a year is the product of 10% raises, he's earned $10 million over the past 15 years.

Seriously, if Aliens had abducted all of them from their reunion, and transported them to be galley slaves on the planet Koozebane, the world would be a better place.

Note to self:  Start a GoFundMe for an alien beacon at the next class reunion.

Hopefully, a Lot of People Will Be in the Dock

This story has been percolating in the background for a while, and I think that it might be ready for some major developments.

Jeffrey Epstein is a serial child rapist who got off with a slap on the wrist because everyone, including it appears, the US Attorney's office, felt that he was too powerful to prosecute.

That prosecutor is now Donald Trump's Secretary of Labor:
A judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors — among them, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — broke federal law when they signed a plea agreement with a wealthy, politically connected sex trafficker and concealed it from more than 30 of his underage victims.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra, in a 33-page opinion, said that the evidence he reviewed showed that Jeffrey Epstein had been operating an international sex operation in which he and others recruited underage girls — not only in Florida — but from overseas, in violation of federal law.

“Epstein used paid employees to find and bring minor girls to him.,’’ wrote Marra, who is based in Palm Beach County. “Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.’’

Instead of prosecuting Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, Acosta, then the U.S. attorney in Miami, helped negotiate a non-prosecution agreement that gave Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from federal prosecution. Epstein, who lived in a Palm Beach mansion, was allowed to quietly plead guilty in state court to two prostitution charges and served just 13 months in the county jail. His accomplices, some of whom have never been identified, were never charged.


A judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors — among them, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — broke federal law when they signed a plea agreement with a wealthy, politically connected sex trafficker and concealed it from more than 30 of his underage victims.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra, in a 33-page opinion, said that the evidence he reviewed showed that Jeffrey Epstein had been operating an international sex operation in which he and others recruited underage girls — not only in Florida — but from overseas, in violation of federal law.

Acosta agreed to seal the deal, which meant that none of Epstein’s victims, who were mostly 13 to 16 years old at the time of the abuse, were told about it until it was too late for them to appear at his sentencing and possibly reject the deal. Upon learning that Epstein had pleaded guilty without their knowledge, two of his victims filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida in 2008, claiming that prosecutors violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, which grants victims of federal crimes a series of rights, including the ability to confer with prosecutors about a possible plea deal.

Marra agreed, saying that while prosecutors had the right to resolve the case in any way they saw fit, they violated the law by hiding the agreement from Epstein’s victims. Marra’s decision capped 11 years of litigation — which included the release of a trove of emails showing how Acosta and other prosecutors worked with Epstein’s high profile lawyers to conceal the deal — and the scope of Epstein’s crimes — from both his victims and the public.
(Emphasis mine)

The others in question, "close friends," are alleged to include:
  • Alan Dershowitz.
  • Donald Trump.
  • Bill Clinton.
  • Prince Andrew.
  • Ghislaine Maxwell
  • Woody Allen
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Chris Tucker
I so want to see this blow up into a major scandal.

Remember When I Called Binyamin Netanyahu the Greatest Threat to Israel Ever?*


Well, now that his two most formidable election opponents have made an agreement to campaign together, Bibi is inviting the equivalent of Ku Klux Klan to join his government:
The Israeli election cycle currently underway has been awash in anti-Arab racism for a while now. But things just got much, much worse.

On Wednesday, Haaretz reported that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed the Jewish Home Party to join another party, the “Jewish Power” party, which inherited its leaders and politics from the well-known racist Meir Kahane.

Kahana’s Kach party was outlawed in 1994, the same year it was listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, after a supporter, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Arabs at prayer in Hebron and the party issued its support.

And now, in 2019, it’s back.


If the Jewish Home Party votes in favor of the merger, it will mean that Michael Ben-Ari, banned from entering the U.S. for belonging to a terrorist organization, will be part of the ruling coalition of the Jewish State. It will mean that Itamar Ben Gvir, convicted of inciting racism and supporting terrorism, will be welcomed in the halls of the Knesset as a lawmaker.

It will mean that Kahana’s legacy — including his attempts to strip non-Jewish Israelis of their citizenship, ban marriage between Jews and non-Jews, and transfer Israel’s Arab population out of Israel — will once again have advocates in the Israeli government.

......

Netanyahu has spent the better part of the last two years leading Israel down an ugly road of increased ethnonationalism. From the Nation State bill, which ratifies Jewish supremacy over Israel’s minorities, to the whitewashing of Holocaust revisionists in Poland and Hungary, to the embrace of racist premieres of other countries like the Philippines and Brazil, Netanyahu has put all his eggs in the racist, ethnonationalist basket.

The embrace of a party literally called Jewish Power is only the last in a long line of betrayals of Jews, Jewish history and Jewish values. What is the lesson of Jewish history if not that the rights of minorities must be vigorously, vigorously protected? What are Jewish values if not the Torah’s exhortation that we pursue justice, justice at all costs? What are Jews if not the descendants of the most hounded people in history, ourselves the victims of ethnic cleansing time and again?
This will end up destroying Israel, but Netanyahu cannot see past the next election and holding onto power until the police drag his corrupt ass out of office.

Benyamin Netanyahu is more than a Shanda fur di Goyim, that is to say a source of shame.

He is an immediate and clear and present danger to the continued existence of the Jewish State, and everyone living here.  He is a רוֹדֵף (rodef), much has he claimed about Yitzak Rabin all those years ago.

*If you don't remember when I did this, here is a link.

Damn, Peter Tork?

The Monkees' bass player is dead at age 77:
Peter Tork, a blues and folk musician who became a teeny-bopper sensation as a member of the Monkees, the wisecracking, made-for-TV pop group that imitated and briefly outsold the Beatles, died Feb. 21. He was 77.

The death was announced by his official Facebook page, which did not say where or how he died. Mr. Tork was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer affecting his tongue, in 2009.
There goes another bit of my childhood.

Linkage

EU adds Saudi Arabia to 'dirty money' blacklist | Saudi Arabia News (Al Jazeera) The EU has decided that the House of Saud, "Pose[s] a threat because of lax controls on terror financing and money laundering."  Unimaginable only a year ago.  Way to go MBS.
Rights of ‘gilets jaunes’ protesters in France, ‘disproportionately curtailed’, say UN independent experts (UN News) Macron's complete disregard of basic human rights is a basic feature of the French imperial presidency.
The Market for Privacy Lemons. Why “The Market” Can’t Solve The Privacy Problem Without Regulation. (Wetmachine) Telco expert and lawyer Harold Feld uses Nobel Prize winning economist George Akerlof's seminal work, Market for Lemons, to show how the market cannot address privacy problems, because of the whole race to the bottom issue.
Techie in need of a doorstop picks up 'chunk of metal' – only to find out it's rather pricey (The Register) It was platinum.  Oops.
Democracy and the Corrupt Seven (Eight) (Craig Murray) A well deserved take-down of the Blairite Labour Party Quislings.

Have a promotional video for the F-15X:

20 February 2019

It's a Start

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Constitution places limits on the ability of states and localities to take and keep cash, cars, houses and other private property used to commit crimes.

The practice, known as civil forfeiture, is a popular way to raise revenue and is easily abused, and it has been the subject of widespread criticism across the political spectrum. The court’s decision will open the door to new legal arguments when the value of the property seized was out of proportion to the crimes involved.

In this case, the court sided with Tyson Timbs, a small-time drug offender in Indiana who pleaded guilty to selling $225 of heroin to undercover police officers. He was sentenced to one year of house arrest and five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $1,200 in fees and fines.

State officials also seized Mr. Timbs’s $42,000 Land Rover, which he had bought with the proceeds of his father’s life insurance policy, saying he had used it to commit crimes.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the ability of the federal government to seize property. On Wednesday, in a 9-to-0 decision that united justices on the left and right, the court ruled that the clause also applies to the states under the 14th Amendment, one of the post-Civil War amendments.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for eight justices, said the question before the court was an easy one. “The historical and logical case for concluding that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming,” she wrote.

“For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” she wrote. “Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies.”
Civil forfeiture, makes a mockery of justice and due process, and it occurs because the agencies that do this get to keep the money for their own purposes.

It needs to stop.

Common Sense Law Enforcement


Historical Court Appearance Rates
Reformer District Attorney Larry Krasner has made it his mission to make law enforcement fairer, and one of his signature policies has been the elimination of cash bail.

Now the numbers are in, and they validate his approach:

One year ago, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced that his office would no longer seek money bail for a list of offenses that make up 61 percent of all cases in the Philadelphia criminal justice system.

On Tuesday, Krasner, along with Mayor Jim Kenney, City Council members and the Defender Association of Philadelphia, held a news conference to outline the impact of the reform.

“What we had a year ago was not fair. We do not, we should not, imprison people for poverty,” Krasner said. By the district attorney’s count, 1,750 additional defendants were released without bail during 2018, with no increase in recidivism.

Krasner added that he believes the policy is making Philadelphia safer in the long term: “When you don’t tear apart people’s lives, and when you keep them in contact with the things that keep them on course, they are less likely to commit crimes in the future.”

The district attorney’s claims are in part backed up by a study published this week that found the policy shift resulted in a 22 percent decline in the number of defendants who spent at least one night in jail. However, there was no impact on longer jail stays.

………

“We find no effect on failure to appear [in court], on violent offending, or on recidivism,” [Penn State criminologist Aurelie] Ouss [one of the study's authors] said.

According to the First Judicial District, Philadelphia defendants’ court-appearance rate in 2018 was the highest it has been in a decade, nearly 97 percent in Common Pleas Court and 87.5 percent in Municipal Court.
Tough on crime policing is dumb on crime policing.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

The top federal ethics watchdog has rejected U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s 2017 financial disclosure form.

The Office of Government Ethics declined to certify Ross’s latest financial disclosure because after reporting that he had sold off his shares in BankUnited Inc. that year, he actually sold the stock in October 2018. According to a later filing, he said he mistakenly believed that the shares had been sold earlier.

In a letter sent to the Commerce Department’s top ethics officer, OGE Director Emory Rounds wrote that Ross’s 2017 report,“inaccurately reported that he sold all of his stock when in fact he had not done so.” Rounds also said that Ross was not in compliance with his ethics agreement when he filed the annual report in 2018.

………

OGE has no enforcement authority, and relies on inspectors general or the Justice Department to investigate whether federal ethics rules or conflict of interest laws have been broken. In his letter, Rounds said that Maggi had informed him that Commerce was providing its inspector general with copies of all of Ross’s financial disclosure reports.
Ross may have the dubious distinction of being the flat-out worst member of the Trump cabinet.

He is, after all, the mook who suggested that furloughed federal workers take out bank loans to address their missed paychecks.

Truly, America's Finest News Source

Death Of Sailor In Iconic VJ-Day Photo Reminds Americans Of Halcyon Days When Wars Still Ended

The Onion abides.

Tweet of the Decade


It's snark, of course, but this encapsulates the cognitive dissonance that is at the core of, "Radical Centrism," espoused by folks like ultra-barista Howard Schultz.

19 February 2019

Do You Know What Worries More than Iranian Nukes?

The House of Saud getting nukes.

I am particularly concerned about Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, who has shown himself to be both reckless and incompetent, having access to nuclear technology, and it appears that the Trump administration is determined to transfer advanced nuclear technology to Riyadh:
Top Trump administration officials have pushed to build nuclear power plants throughout Saudi Arabia over the vigorous objections of White House lawyers who question the legality of the plan and the ethics of a venture that could enrich Trump allies, according to a new report by House Democrats released on Tuesday.

The report is the most detailed portrait to date of how senior White House figures — including Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser — worked with retired military officers to circumvent the normal policymaking process to promote an export plan that experts worried could spread nuclear weapons technology in the volatile Middle East. Administration lawyers warned that the nuclear exports plan — called the Middle East Marshall Plan — could violate laws meant to stop nuclear proliferation and raised concerns about Mr. Flynn’s conflicts of interest.

Mr. Flynn had worked on the issue for the company promoting the nuclear export plan and kept pushing it once inside the White House.

But even after Mr. Flynn was fired, the proposal appears to have lingered. The initial discussions took place during the chaotic early months of the Trump administration, according to the 24-page report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, but House Democrats on Tuesday cited evidence that as recently as last week the White House was still considering some version of the proposal. Democrats said they had begun a full-scale inquiry.
It keeps being pushed because Jared Kushner is in hock up to his eyeballs and is solvent only by dint of Saudi money, and also this:
Claims presented by whistle-blowers and White House documents obtained by the House oversight committee show that the company backing the nuclear plan, IP3 International, was working so closely with allies in the Trump political world that the company sent draft memos that would be needed from the president for the nuclear export plan to Mr. Flynn just days after Mr. Trump took office.

A week after Inauguration Day, the Democrats’ report said, a Flynn deputy for Middle East and North African affairs, Derek Harvey, met with the IP3’s co-founders at the White House, and asked National Security Council staff to include information about the nuclear power plan in a briefing to prepare Mr. Trump for a call with King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

………

Even after Mr. Flynn left the White House in February 2017 under scrutiny by the F.B.I. for his communications with Russia, officials on the National Security Council continued to push ahead, repeatedly ignoring advice from the council’s ethics counsel, the report said.

At a March 2017 meeting, Mr. Harvey tried to revive the IP3 plan “so that Jared Kushner can present it to the president for approval,” the Democratic report said, a reference to Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser. Eventually Mr. Flynn’s successor, H. R. McMaster, said all work on the plan should cease because of potentially illegal conflicts.

………

Mr. Kushner’s efforts continue. He is scheduled to travel to the region next week, with a stop in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to brief diplomats on the economic portions of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan.
Here's hoping that the House Oversight Committee is on this like white on rice.

Bernie is in the House


You had me at, "I"
Bernie Sanders has made it official, he is running for President again:
Sen. Bernie Sanders has confirmed to VPR that he is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

His official announcement video was posted online Tuesday morning.

"I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first," Sanders told VPR's Bob Kinzel. "And what I promise to do is, as I go around the country, is to take the values that all of us in Vermont are proud of — a belief in justice, in community, in grassroots politics, in town meetings — that's what I'm going to carry all over this country."

Sanders said he is running to oppose President Donald Trump, and to enact many of the progressive ideas — including universal health care coverage, a $15 minimum wage and reducing student debt — that he championed in 2016.

"I think the current occupant of the White House is an embarrassment to our country," Sanders said. "I think he is a pathological liar... I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants."

Sanders said his campaign hopes to enlist one million people in a "grassroots movement of people prepared to stand up and fight."
He's already done pretty good on the whole, "Grassroots Movement," thing, as is indicated in his blowing past Kamala Harris’ first day total in only 4 hours. (Harris' fund raising had the pundits in paroxysms of amazement)

Also, this time around, it looks like his campaign staff will be a lot more professionally savvy:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has tapped Faiz Shakir to serve as his campaign manager for his second run at the White House, The Daily Beast has learned.

In hiring Shakir, Sanders brings into the fold one of the Democratic Party’s better-traveled operatives—an official with limited campaign experience but with ties to the party’s think tank infrastructure, its Hill operations, and the larger progressive universe.

Shakir joins the Sanders operation from the American Civil Liberties Union where he served as national political director since early 2017. Before joining the ACLU, he was a senior adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and before that he worked with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He first made a name for himself as an editor at the website ThinkProgress, the news arm associated with, though editorially independent of, the powerhouse Democratic think-tank Center for American Progress.
Hopefully, Shakir will let Bernie be Bernie.

Tweet of the Day

Someone noticed a decorative and historical oddity on the door frame of the Koch funded right-wing American Enterprise Institute:

I went on Google maps, and went to street view, and zoomed in, and yes, there are Swastikas on the door frame.

The door frame is an artifact of the original construction in 1917 of what is now called the Andrew Mellon Building, but this accident of history, along with the juxtaposition of the AEI and Andrew Mellon, is amusing as f%$#.

They really should have thought twice before moving there a few years back.

18 February 2019

Speaking of Evil Companies Seeking Taxpayer Handouts………

Alphabet, the parent of Google, has a subsidiary called Sidewalk Labs, pitched a redevelopment project on the Toronto waterfront.

Well, their proposal has now been leaked, and their plans involve tax-kickbacks from the city and control over an area 10 times larger than they would develop:
Plans for a high tech Toronto community led by an Alphabet Inc.-backed entity should be scrapped, say politicians and prominent Canadian business and technology leaders.

In the wake of a leaked report last week that revealed Sidewalk Labs' interest in laying claim to developer fees and taxes usually routed to the city in exchange for funding Toronto's waterfront transit, longtime critics of the project said it is time to revisit whether the project should continue to move forward.

………

In addition to funding a light rail transit line, the latest round of ideas floated by Sidewalk includes plans to provide infrastructure to a waterfront area bigger than, but surrounding, Quayside.

City councillor Gord Perks, who represents the west-end Parkdale-High Park neighbourhood, has long fretted about Sidewalk's data privacy policies, lack of transparency and desires around solid waste and transportation, but considered Thursday's revelations around it wanting to fund a light rail transit line a "confirmation of our worst fears."

"The three governments who are involved should halt the process with Google and go to the public and say we have an area of land as big as the downtown, what would you like to do?" he told The Canadian Press.

………

Among those who were calling for the project's cancellation Monday was Bianca Wylie, the co-founder of the advocacy group Tech Reset Canada, who has long been advocating for the project to end.

"It should absolutely be shut down, but the reason for that isn't what was in the plan. It's the process," she said. "There has been inadequate transparency from the very beginning."

Despite Sidewalk hosting several meetings to collect public feedback, Wylie has long worried about the company being secretive with its plans — its transit ideas were only shared after slide decks containing the concepts were leaked to media — and is concerned about the breadth of topics Sidewalk has been lobbying all three levels of government on.

………

Developer Julie Di Lorenzo, who resigned from the Waterfront Toronto board over the project, also cast aspersions on the integrity of the project and its future.

"They are trying again to act like a master developer of hundreds of acres of lands that belong to The City of Toronto and its residents. Its outrageous," she told The Canadian Press.

"Those monies belong to our democratically elected governments and property owners. Every time Sidewalk shows us a map, the land area they 'need' gets bigger."
This is what happens when you get so rich that you start to belong your own bullsh%$.

It appears that Doug Ford, Ontario Premier and brother of the late crack smoking mayor of Toronto, is implacably opposed to such a deal, which segues nicely into the sort of, "Culture wars against latte liberals," politics that he has promulgated.

Moron

Writing in Jeff Bezos's Washington Post, Steven Pearlstein describes Amazon's hissy fit in New York as a, "Political Mugging," implying that somehow public comment on the deal was a mark of the lack of civility in today's political discourse.

Of course you do, Mr. Perlstein, Jeff Bezos is paying you to write such tripe as, "There is little doubt that poor and working-class New Yorkers would have benefited from Amazon’s presence," and, "That money would have allowed New York to quickly recoup the $3 billion in tax breaks it gave to Amazon, with plenty left over to expand infrastructure, help the needy or build more affordable housing."

This is simply false.

Even in the most Panglossian scenarios, payback is somewhere between 75 years and never, and as to those poor and working class that Steven professes so much concern about would be driven out of their neighborhoods by increasing rents, and the small businesses that would have to pay higher taxes to accommodate those subsidies, and the services that the people that would be coming in.

There are any number of reasons to argue about either side of this argument, but bald faced lies are not a good faith argument.

Lockheed Martin Lobbyists Are Completely Losing Their Sh%$

The Air Force Chief of Staff is examining the first new F-15 buy in 19 years, and Lockheed-Martin and its Evil Minions are having a major freakout

I cannot imaging why Lockheed-Martin would be worried at the prospect of the US Air Force making a purchase of an aircraft that is cheaper to buy, cheaper to operate, flies farther, carries more, can have a back-seater who can handle things like SEAD and jamming, and has been continuously modernized over the years because of foreign sales.
A full month before the scheduled rollout of the Trump administration’s fiscal 2020 budget request, Boeing’s F-15X has provoked a fierce intellectual clash over the future of U.S. airpower strategy and priorities.

Advocates of the U.S. Air Force’s current plan to resume F-15 orders after a 19-year hiatus say it is an overdue response to an urgent requirement for quickly and affordably recapitalizing an aging air superiority fleet, while at the same time adding a comparatively flexible weapon system that can be adapted in the future to play a host of new roles, including perhaps electronic attack.

But critics see wasteful spending on the latest version of a fighter originally designed in the late-1960s, at the expense of buying faster and what they assert are more relevant Lockheed Martin F-35As. Some critics also invoke the prospect of the F-15X causing an acquisition “death spiral” for another advanced stealth aircraft, snaring the Air Force’s program of record to buy 1,763 F-35As in the same budgetary trap that sharply curtailed original plans to order 132 Northrop Grumman B-2A bombers and 750 Lockheed Martin F-22s.

………

The debate has placed Lockheed Martin in an awkward position. Although Lockheed executives generally support more spending on F-35 production, they also seem unwilling to contradict Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein, who has stated that F-15X funding won’t come at the expense of planned F-35 purchases. It is a point that CEO Marillyn Hewson emphasized on the fourth-quarter earnings call in late January.

………

The Air Force is interested in buying a single-seat F-15CX and twin-seat F-15EX, the source says. Except for a two-place canopy and second cockpit in the F-15EX, both Air Force models would be identical.

The configuration is defined by the Air Force’s demand to limit costs, especially for nonrecurring engineering. So the F-15X models are based exclusively on already fielded technology, including strengthened wings and large area displays funded by the Qatari Air Force, plus conformal fuel tanks, a digital fly-by-wire control system, APG-82 active, electronically scanned array radar and the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) introduced by the Royal Saudi Air Force. The U.S. Air Force also is integrating the APG-82 radar on F-15Cs and F-15Es.

………

For example, the combination of a strengthened wing and fly-by-wire flight controls expand the flight envelope, yielding a dogfight performance somewhere between the raw power offered by the F-15C and the nimble agility at high angles of attack of the F-22.

………

Other important details involve the weapons options. The Saudi air force has integrated the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) on the F-15SA, so that becomes a new option for the Air Force fleet. The combination of the AGM-88, EPAWSS and the F-15’s inherent ability to generate large amounts of electrical power create intriguing possibilities. The Air Force retired its last tactical escort jamming platform in 1997, but the Navy has continued to perform the mission of jamming air defense radars with the Boeing EA-18G. The idea of a radar-jamming and -suppressing “Wild Weasel” version of an F-15EX could create a long-term role for the two-seater, operating alongside strike packages of F-35As.
I don't think that this will go anywhere, Lockheed-Martin has meticulously spread subcontractors around crucial Congressional districts, and even if it outperforms the F-35 in 90+% of conflict scenarios.

Still, this promises to be entertaining.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

Did you hear the one about the 12 year old who was arrested for not saying the pledge of allegance?

No, it's not a lead in to a joke, though (of course) it's from Florida.

The substitute teacher took umbrage, and decided to taunt the the student and then call in the school cop.

One of the people involved in all of this was acting like an adult, and he was 12 years old.



It's Early in the Season for a Parent to Condemn a Presidential Candidate………

But Kamala Harris seems to be ahead of the curve this election season:
Professor Donald Harris Kamala Harris’ Jamaican father, has vigorously dissociated himself from statements made on the New York Breakfast Club radio show earlier this week attributing her support for smoking marijuana to her Jamaican heritage. Professor Harris has issued a statement to jamaicaglobalonline.com in which he declares:
“My dear departed grandmothers(whose extraordinary legacy I described in a recent essay on this website), as well as my deceased parents , must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics. Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.”
Even if you believe that Kamala Harris has experienced a fundamental change in her views on the proverbial "Road to Damascus", and I don't, one has to wonder just how effective she will be as a candidate when she seems intent on making her opponents' opposition research as easy as possible.

What a clusterF%$#.

Brexit, Now With Tits

First, yes, this is British TV presenter Rachel Johnson disrobing in protest to Brexit, and yes, she is Boris Johnson's sister.



Every time that I think that the political situation cannot get any weirder, someone in the UK seems compelled to say, "Hold my lager, mate."

Seriously?

This looks like an ineffectual and desperate attempt at relevance, which makes sense, since she recently joined the Lib-Dem party.

16 February 2019

Deep Thought

Senior managers should NEVER use the word, "RAZMATAZZ" in a business context.

That is all.


Posted via mobile.

15 February 2019

Oh, You Delicate Flower

It appears that, since they are not being worshipped as Gods, Amazon has canceled its headquarters plans in New York City.

There wasn't even a meaningful threat to the deal, it was just people saying bad things about them.

The best quote about his was from Senator Michael Gianaris, a high profile opponent of the deal:
“Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,” said Mr. Gianaris, whose district includes Long Island City. “The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions.
In related good news, the real estate speculators who bought property in anticipation of the project have lost their shirts:

Amazon.com Inc.’s announcement that it is ditching plans for a corporate headquarters in New York City stunned real-estate speculators, developers and renters who had rushed into the Long Island City neighborhood to be near the new HQ2.

Only three months ago, the prospect that the giant retailer would locate a headquarters in New York City and create 25,000 new jobs set off a real-estate frenzy that the borough of Queens had never experienced.

………

Amazon’s reversal could also hurt developers who had bought development sites or filed plans for new buildings in the area in recent months and were hoping that an influx of 25,000 new Amazon jobs could boost rents and property values.

………

Big publicly traded real-estate firms with exposure to New York City also felt Amazon’s sting. Shares of SL Green Realty Corp. and Vornado Realty Trust , two property owners with large and concentrated New York City portfolios, fell 1.4% and 0.9% respectively on Thursday, declining more than the broader market.
This is me doing a happy dance.

Finally, let me add the following, "#10PeopleOnTwitter".

The Term is Mensch

Bernie Sanders, who, when asked about Representative Omar's tweets about AIPAC, offered her his unqualified support:
SCOOP: HEARD LAST NIGHT — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on a conference call hosted by Jim Zogby, Co-Chair of the DNC’s Ethnic Council, when asked about the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s tweets about AIPAC:“I talked to Ilhan last night to give her my personal support. We will stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
He really is a stand-up guy.

That Sound You Hear is Eric Arthur Blair* Spinning in His Grave

The head of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the agency charged with making sure that the US Government abides by its labor agreements, has decertified it's own union:
The chairwoman of an agency tasked with resolving disputes between federal employee unions and management at federal agencies recently decided to cease recognition of the organization’s own labor group.

Federal Labor Relations Authority Chairwoman Colleen Duffy Kiko announced the decision in a letter to the Union of Authority Employees last December, the day after the union’s collective bargaining agreement had expired. She argued that because the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act exempted the FLRA from rules requiring agencies to recognize labor unions in the federal government, the agency has been breaking the law by working with the union.

………

The decision goes against a 1980 legal opinion from the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel that stated that although there lacks any legislative record explaining the decision to exempt the FLRA from the statute, the legislative text likely is meant to prevent conflicts of interest, wherein FLRA employees could be investigating disputes between their union and the agency. The opinion cited the late Rep. Morris Udall, D-Ariz., one of the architects of the law.

………

Indeed, Union of Authority Employees acting President Fernando Colón said that for four decades, his labor organization has had a successful relationship with FLRA management, despite several restrictions unique in the federal sector. Unlike most bargaining units, the union cannot appeal arbitration decisions to an administrative body—the FLRA can simply choose whether or not to enforce a grievance award.

………

Colón said he fears the move will further erode public trust in the agency tasked with adjudicating labor-management disputes in the federal government. President Trump has neglected to appoint a general counsel to the agency, all but blocking new complaints from reaching the board. And in a lawsuit filed last week, the National Education Association, a union representing teachers and other education employees at Defense Department schools, accused the FLRA of systemic bias, noting that members frequently overturned decisions in favor of unions, but upheld every single decision that favored management.
This whole "Fox in the Hen House" bullsh%$ that the Trump administration is really getting old.

*George Orwell.