31 May 2019

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

We have the first commercial bank failure since December of 2017, The Enloe State Bank of Cooper, TX.

It's a small bank, with one office and deposits of less than $40 million, but it is the first commercial bank failure in over 18 months.

Another Day, Another Mass Shooting………

This time, it's Virginia Beach, Virginia:
A gunman killed 12 people and injured at least four others in a Virginia municipal building, in the latest deadly mass shooting to roil the United States.

Authorities said an employee opened fire and shot “indiscriminately” Friday afternoon in a Virginia Beach municipal building that houses several city departments.

Four police officers responded to the scene and “engaged” in a “longterm gun battle” with the suspect, who was armed with a 45 caliber handgun with extended magazines and a sound suppressor, police said.
There seems to be one of these every few weeks.

F%$# the NRA.

Linkage


Charlie doing standup and Sharon* doing the camera work:


*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

30 May 2019

Meanwhile, in Nevada

Felon reanfranchisement is now the law in the Silver State:
Nevada’s governor has signed criminal justice reform bills that restore voting rights to convicted felons and streamlines the process for sealing low-level marijuana convictions.

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed both the measures Wednesday as the legislative session continues on in its final days.

The voting rights legislation gives felony offenders the right to vote after being released from prison, instead of granting certain felons the right to vote two years after being released.

Sisolak says some 77,000 state residents will have their voting rights restored due to the legislation.
Felon disenfranchisement has always been an explicitly racist enterprise, and it needs to end.

I Knew That the Name "Sununu" Was Involved

New Hampshire just abolished the death penalty.
In order to do so, they had to override the veto from the Governor.

I did not know who the Governor was, but I knew his last name had to be Sununu, because whenever some Republican in New Hampshire does something Reagan type psychotic, you know that a Sununu had to be involved:
Lawmakers in New Hampshire voted Thursday to abolish the death penalty, overriding a veto from the state’s Republican governor and making it the 21st state to abandon capital punishment.

The vote by the New Hampshire Senate capped months of uncertainty about what would happen to capital punishment in the state, the last in New England to still have the death penalty.

………

Lawmakers in New Hampshire had tried to abolish the death penalty before but narrowly failed, running headlong into gubernatorial vetoes and, in 2014, falling short by a single vote.

After Gov. Chris Sununu (R) vetoed a bill last year abolishing the death penalty, lawmakers passed another measure this year with enough support to withstand a veto.


This bill “changes the penalty for capital murder to life imprisonment without the possibility for parole,” stripping away the possibility of a death sentence for such crimes.
Political dynasties are truly toxic.

29 May 2019

BTW, While We Are Talking About Impeachment

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) received a standing ovation Tuesday evening at his first public event since becoming the first Republican to call for President Trump's impeachment.

At a town hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amash criticized House Republican leadership, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whom he called the “so-called leader.”

“I read the Mueller report. I’m sure he didn’t read it,” Amash said of McCarthy. “He resorted to ad hominem attacks; that’s the kind of ‘leadership’ we now have in Congress.”
 Nancy Pelosi needs to understand that her cowardice is neither good policy nor good politics.

Someone Is Looking to Steal from Us

Specifically, the healthcare executives who are calling for a rollback on anti-kickback laws.

They claim that this will allow for, "Innovation."

What they really want is a way to goose their profits and their salaries, because this about self-dealing, not improving the quality or efficiency of healthcare.

Whenever I hear someone talk about how deregulation will allow for innovation, I am reminded of Paul Volker's quote on financial innovation, that, "The only thing useful banks have invented in 20 years is the ATM."

Let us be completely clear, this is about legalizing larceny, nothing else:
Beth Hughes' job involves closely partnering with physicians to sync Sioux City, Iowa-based MercyOne's operations and move the health system forward. But one regulation continues to stand in her way—the Stark law, the president of MercyOne's Western Iowa region said.

The Stark law is meant to curb Medicare and Medicaid spending by prohibiting a physician for making referrals that financially benefit the doctor. That combined with the federal anti-kickback statue have impeded new payment models by limiting incentives used to reward progress, providers said, noting that they can incur significant financial penalties even if they didn't intend to violate the regulations.

………

"Being creative with value-based care flies in the face of fraud and abuse laws," Hughes said as organizations like MercyOne aim to reduce hospital readmissions and length of stay. "You can try to get an exception, but most people are discouraged because it is a long and arduous process. Those laws may be inhibiting our ability to creatively align ourselves with providers."

More than 36% of 162 healthcare executives surveyed by Advis said that fraud and abuse laws don't support new models of care—the most common answer to what regulations stand in the way of changing healthcare for the better. Fraud and abuse laws were followed by Medicare conditions of participation and state licensure laws as well as limits on telehealth reimbursement.
If this doesn't sound like a license to cheat and steal, you have the political and financial acumen of Little Orphan Annie.

It Appears that Voting Him Immunity was a Bridge too Far

Benjamin Netanyahu has been unable to form a government, so there will be snap elections.

I think the fact that he was going to use the new government to grant himself for immunity for impending corruption charges was a major contributing factor:
Israel’s parliament has voted to dissolve itself after Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government, in a move that will lead to a second round of elections just one month after the country held a national poll.

At a suspenseful gathering that ended weeks of unsuccessful bartering and brinkmanship, the Knesset voted to disperse and call new elections, set for 17 September.

Coalition talks stalled after far-right former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, a Netanyahu ally-turned-rival, refused to back the prime minister.

Netanyahu needed support from Lieberman’s ultranationalist party, Yisrael Beiteinu, for a majority in Israel’s parliament.


………

Lieberman, whose party’s base includes largely secular Russian-speaking Israelis, wanted guarantees that the prime minister would back legislation to insist ultra-Orthodox Jews, also known as haredi, undertake mandatory national service like other Israelis.

Netanyahu, however, also needed the 16 seats from ultra-Orthodox parties for a 61-seat majority of parliament’s 120 seats. Those parties demanded that the existing exemption from conscription for seminary students stays in place.

“The Likud surrendered completely to the haredi,” Lieberman said before the parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

………

This time, Netanyahu, 69, was under additional pressure to form a government as he faces potential indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases. He denies any wrongdoing, labelling the accusations as a “witch hunt”.

His loyalists had been planning to grant him immunity in the next parliament. A draft law they proposed would overrule court decisions and in effect protect the prime minister, although Netanyahu has not publicly backed the plan.
I cannot but think that the plans for immunizing Bibi were giving his coalition partners some serious concerns that they would pay for giving him a get out of jail free card.

Mueller Speaks

Unfortunately, he's still not particularly good at communicating, but it appears to me that what he implied was, "of course he obstructed justice, so do your job, Congress," though as is often noted, your mileage may vary:
Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, declined on Wednesday to clear President Trump of obstruction of justice in his first public characterization of his two-year investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mr. Mueller said, reading from prepared notes behind a lectern at the Justice Department at a hastily called public appearance.

He also noted that while Justice Department policy prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime, the Constitution provides for another remedy to formally accuse a president of wrongdoing — a clear reference to the ability of Congress to conduct impeachment proceedings.

Although it lasted less than 10 minutes, the news conference presented an extraordinary spectacle of a top federal law enforcement official publicly stating that the president’s conduct had warranted criminal investigation, even though it was impossible to indict him for any crimes. Mr. Mueller delivered his statement on his last day as special counsel, saying it was his final word on his investigation and he was returning to private life.
I've always said that it would be the coverup, and not the crime, and rather remarkably, Fox News' pet, "judge," Andrew Napolitano has observed that this is basically what Nixon got impeached for:
Judge Andrew Napolitano does not mince words.

Appearing on Fox Business’ Varney and Co. after Robert Mueller’s morning press conference, Napolitano told host Stuart Varney that the special counsel had essentially told the country that he “had evidence that he committed a crime but we couldn’t charge him because he’s the President of the United States.”


“This is even stronger than the language in his report,” Napolitano added. “This statement is one hundred and eighty degrees from the four-page statement that Bill Barr issued at the time he first saw the report.”
Fairly anodyne, until you consider the fact that it was on Fox F%$#ing News, huh.

So, considering that statement against interest, I'm going to go with what Eduardo Martinez Jr. said on McSweeney's, and suggest that Congress is obligated to start a formal impeachment process, though he says it in an earthier manner, "Do Your F%$#ing Job."

Sorry Nancy, but ironic clapping is not enough.  Your actions are not just bad politics, it will depress Democratic base turnout, but it is a deliberate shirking of constitutional responsibility:
Hey, Congress.

HEY.

LISTEN TO ME. ALL OF YOU.

I know this is inconvenient. I know what I’m about to tell you to do is hard, and complicated, and may not even, in the end, actually produce results. But I promise you, it’s never been more important to do what needs to be done. Do what, you ask?

DO YOUR F%$#ING JOB.

………

I’m sorry. I, in no way, mean to be aggressive or abrasive or imply that there are not enormous consequences to whatever happens next. This is a historical decision, no doubt, but it’s almost like HE’S THE F%$#ING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA JUST DOING CRIMES WHILE YOU ARE ARGUING ABOUT CIVILITY.

………

Just do your f%$#ing job.

Because if not.

We’ll find other people who will.
Amen.

28 May 2019

Bye David

David Whitley, the now former Secretary of Stat of Texas, has resigned following a botched attempt to disenfranchise about 100,000 Hispanic Texans:
Texas’s acting secretary of state, David Whitley (R), resigned Monday just months after leading the botched voter purge of nearly 100,000 suspected noncitizens that erroneously also targeted U.S. citizens, efforts that drew rebukes from a federal judge and numerous voter rights groups.

Whitley’s departure came as the Texas Senate failed to confirm him to the position by a two-thirds majority on the last day of the legislative session. He submitted his resignation letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) “effective immediately” just before the final gavel, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman. Abbott accepted his resignation shortly afterward, praising his “moral character and integrity.”
What Greg Abbot means when he says, "Moral character and integrity," is, "This guy is trying to keep n*****s from voting, and I approve."
Whitley, a gubernatorial appointee and former aide to Abbott, spent less than six months overseeing Texas elections. He will leave office best known for the disastrous elections-integrity operation that wrongly identified thousands of naturalized citizens as suspected noncitizens illegally registered to vote.

He revealed the investigation in January, causing unsupported fears of rampant voter fraud while emboldening Republican politicians who had made similar voter fraud claims — including President Trump. Whitley’s office had claimed that, of 95,000 suspected noncitizens, 58,000 had voted in at least one Texas election over the last 18 years. Letters sent to all those suspected noncitizens threatened to disenfranchise them unless they proved their citizenship within 30 days.
The numbers on this, "A federal judge ordered Whitley to stop his voter purge of noncitizens after it turned out only about 80 on his original list had actually been ineligible to vote."

I am sure that Greg Abbot will find someone even worse.

Civil Society Organization is an Oxymoron

At least where the Ukraine is concerned.


These organizations are threatening to foment a coup against the new President of the Ukraine unless he acquiesces to their demands.

Here is a list of the most significant of their demands:
  • Don't revisit the Ukrainian language law, which has the effect of removing citizenship from Russian speakers and other minorities.
  • No coalition talks with opposition parties.
  • No negotiations with the Russians without a US minder.
  • Attempt no rapprochement between the Ukrainian and Russian churches.
  • Don't fight the IMF restrictions on the country.
  • Continue to move toward joining NATO.
  • Continue to move toward joining the EU.
  • Don't attempt wealth redistribution. (In one of the most unequal countries on earth)
  • Continue the blockade of Russian media.
These are not the demands of concerned non-governmental agencies, this is a CIA wet dream.

If you wonder why so many governments seem to feel that "Civil Society" organizations are CIA fronts, it's because so many of them ARE CIA fronts.

Consider the Source

Rachel Maddow, who has been banging the, "Julian Assange is a Russian agent," drum relentlessly for the past 2+ years has realized that her ox is gored as well:
Rachel Maddow has aired a segment condemning the new indictment against Julian Assange for 17 alleged violations of the Espionage Act.

Yes, that Rachel Maddow.

MSNBC’s top host began the segment after it was introduced by Chris Hayes, agreeing with her colleague that it’s surprising that more news outlets aren’t giving this story more “wall to wall” coverage, given its immense significance. She recapped Assange’s various legal struggles up until this point, then accurately described Assange’s new Espionage Act charges for publishing secret documents.
“And these new charges are not about stealing classified information or outsmarting computer systems in order to illegally obtain classified information,” Maddow said. “It’s not about that. These new charges are trying to prosecute Assange for publishing that stolen, secret material which was obtained by somebody else. And that is a whole different kettle of fish then what he was initially charged with.”

“By charging Assange for publishing that stuff that was taken by Manning, by issuing these charges today, the Justice Department has just done something you might have otherwise thought was impossible,” Maddow added after explaining the unprecedented nature of this case. “The Justice Department today, the Trump administration today, just put every journalistic institution in this country on Julian Assange’s side of the ledger. On his side of the fight. Which, I know, is unimaginable. But that is because the government is now trying to assert this brand new right to criminally prosecute people for publishing secret stuff, and newspapers and magazines and investigative journalists and all sorts of different entities publish secret stuff all the time. That is the bread and butter of what we do.”
Publishing information that someone else does not want published is journalism.

Anything else is stenography.

More Refugees

In this case, they are Americans fleeing their student loans:
Chad Haag considered living in a cave to escape his student debt. He had a friend doing it. But after some plotting, he settled on what he considered a less risky plan. This year, he relocated to a jungle in India. "I've put America behind me," Haag, 29, said.

Today he lives in a concrete house in the village of Uchakkada for $50 a month. His backyard is filled with coconut trees and chickens. "I saw four elephants just yesterday," he said, adding that he hopes never to set foot in a Walmart again.

More than 9,000 miles away from Colorado, Haag said, his student loans don't feel real anymore. "It's kind of like, if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it really exist?" he said.

Some student loan borrowers are packing their bags and fleeing from the U.S. to other countries, where the cost of living is often lower and debt collectors wield less power over them. Although there is no national data on how many people have left the United States because of student debt, borrowers tell their stories of doing so in Facebook groups and Reddit channels and how-to advice is offered on personal finance websites

………

But the fact that people are taking this drastic measure should bring scrutiny to the larger student loan system, said Alan Collinge, founder of Student Loan Justice.
More and more every day, e resemble a 3rd world country.

100 Years Ago Today

Observations of an eclipse from multiple locations proved that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was correct:
On May 29, 1919, a solar eclipse forever altered our conception of gravity, rewrote the laws of physics and turned a 40-year-old, wild-haired scientist into a global celebrity — the very personification of scientific genius.

It was a very good day for Albert Einstein.

The 1919 eclipse across South America and Africa provided direct evidence for Einstein’s mind-bending theory of gravity. He proposed in 1915 that gravity isn’t a spooky force acting across space but rather is a feature of the essence of space and time. Gravity is the warping and curving of the fabric of the universe.

Einstein’s theory — the general theory of relativity — was hailed by the physicist J.J. Thomson as “one of the greatest achievements of human thought.” It has been confirmed by many more observations over the century, including the detection of gravitational waves and the first picture of a black hole just this year. He cracked a fundamental code of the universe.

………

Einstein had emerged from obscurity in 1905 with a series of astonishing papers that obliterated classical notions about time and space. But his greatest achievement came a decade later, in 1915, when he described the equations governing gravity. He’d figured out a fundamental feature of the universe, using merely the power of his brain. But was it true? What if his equations were just a mathematical fancy, something that looked nifty on paper but did not correspond to physical reality?

Einstein proposed an experimental test. A solar eclipse would block the sun’s light and allow scientists to study starlight passing close to the sun. His theory predicted that the sun’s gravitational field would displace the starlight by a certain amount compared to where they would be under classical theories of gravity.

British astronomer Arthur Eddington led an expedition to observe the eclipse from two locations, one in Brazil and one on the island of Principe near the African coast.

The stars backed Einstein.
Break out the champagne, or not, depending on how you feel about General Relativity.

27 May 2019

Today's Must Read

Philadelphia Enquirer columnist Will Bunch has what I believe to be the definitive word on what the Democratic Party should be doing in the age of Trump.

His thesis is pretty straighforward, the Democrats need to stop being cowards:
………

The timidity of Democrats in response to Trump’s take-no-prisoners is disappointing, even after watching decades of battered-dog politics from the center-left. The slow-motion House Democratic strategy of finally issuing some subpoenas after several months in power, then watching them get ignored and finally tied up in court as the clock ticks toward the 2020 election appears hopeless in the face of all-out Roy Cohn-ism. And yet the Democrats are politically terrified of using the only power that matches Trump’s tactics – an impeachment inquiry, and the expanded powers that flow from that.
Read the rest.

A Thought for Memorial Day

US Army Major (Ret) Danny Sjursen observes what should be obvious, that "Yes, My Fellow Soldiers Died in Vain."

Amid the hagiography of the troops, and the non stop commercials for the holiday, we need to acknowledge, as James Tiberius Kirk does, "The illogic of waste ……… the waste of lives, potential, resources, time."

Don't allow people who will never face jeopardy themselves to use the deaths of those who did to prosecute their psychopathic agenda.

Quote of the Day

I Expect Nothing, and I am Still Disappointed.
—Charles E. Saroff
My son.  (Not exactly his quote, it's from a meme, but he said it without a pause)

He's a big Bernie supporter, and not a fan of Peter Buttigieg's policy free Presidential bid, but when I told him that his campaign was literally selling access to big bundlers in an attempt to "maintain momentum".  (Completely legal, but still sleazy)

26 May 2019

He Should Not Apologize

Lately, Bernie Sanders has been criticized for his opposition to the Vietnam War, the invasion or Iraq, and a potential invasion of Iran.

He has refused to apologize, and he should continue to refuse, because he was, and is, right, and his critics are, and were, wrong:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took aim at calls for him to "apologize" for his refusal to support U.S. armed conflicts in the Middle East, saying Friday that he was "right" about past U.S. wars and would continue to advocate against war with Iran.

In a tweet, Sanders wrote that he will "apologize to no one" for supporting peaceful diplomatic efforts over armed conflict with Iran, citing U.S. wars in Iraq and Vietnam as examples of past U.S. armed responses that resulted in long-running and exhausting wars.

"I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one," the senator tweeted, along with a video explaining his stance against war with the country.
In the topsy-turvy world inside the Beltway, being right is somehow indicates that he is not "serious" about foreign policy.

Needless to say, this is complete bullsh%$.

This Also Explains Theranos

In this examination of toxic individualism to describe how Uber was a Silicon Valley success and a real world failure, (most disastrous IPO in history) it explains a lot about the general lawlessness that permeates the culture.


Essentially, this is Ayn Rand applied to the real world, and failing completely, as it did with Sears:
Uber is now a massive, publicly traded company. Anyone can buy Uber shares at a valuation of about $70 billion. This isn’t bad for a company losing billions of dollars a year, but it’s a fraction of the $120-billion valuation the IPO’s bankers initially floated. It’s roughly what private investors valued it at three years ago, when the company made $7.43 billion less revenue.

………

But some of it should go to Silicon Valley’s cultural divergence from the business reality. Investors loved the company not as an operating unit, but as an idea about how the world should be. Uber’s CEO was brash and would do whatever it took. His company’s attitude toward the government was dismissive and defiant. And its model of how society should work, especially how labor supply should meet consumer demand, valorized the individual, as if Milton Friedman’s dreams coalesced into a company. “It’s almost the perfect tech company, insofar as it allocates resources in the physical world and corrects some real inefficiencies,” the Uber investor Naval Ravikant told San Francisco magazine in 2014.

………

But plenty of companies have experienced founders and do things VCs like. What set Uber apart—and the reason it generated the Uber-for-X phenomenon—was its marketplace model.

The company used computers to restructure the driving labor market (“corrects some real inefficiencies”). Why have a dispatcher send cabs all over a city when an algorithm could do the same thing—with no labor cost or organizational infrastructure, and probably with better results? The cab companies, with their own complex institutional histories, were suddenly irrelevant. Drivers drove and riders rode—and the only thing necessary to connect them was an app on a phone. The model didn’t just make financial sense to people trained to think in Silicon Valley in the 2000s; it made ideological sense.

………

For early Uber investors, Uber was everything that disruption was supposed to be. You took an app, created by a small number of people in a San Francisco office, and used it to erase the institutions—formerly called businesses—that used to sit between the buyers and sellers of services. It wasn’t just a company; it was a company that destroyed the need for other companies. It was pure and uncut Economics 101, capitalism as it was meant to be. And if by eliminating much of the labor that it previously took to organize car services, the company would also generate billionaires … well, to the innovators go the spoils.

………

In Uber’s world, there is no such thing as collective action. Every person is an individual particle of the market, freely interacting with all the others, unless there is pesky government meddling. Uber really was about the triumph of individualism, an ethos that infuses Silicon Valley so thoroughly that it’s hard for most here to see. Companies that fit that pattern are more likely to garner VC attention, get funding, and find success. That’s how Silicon Valley shapes the world.

But they cannot sustain companies within their bubbles of influence forever. They must leave the nest for the public markets, where they are judged on their bottom lines. So far, the market says: This company is worth $50 billion less than its executives and bankers thought.

And in Uber’s world, the market is always right.
Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman once said, "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled," the same applies for business, only we need to replace "technology", with business, and "public relations" must replaced with "ill-conceived and juvenile philosophy".

Objectivism has failed wherever it has met reality, leaving misery in its wake.

Mission F%$#ing Accomplished

I wholehearted the proposal by Bernie Sanders and Barbara Lee to  levy a tax on financial transactions

The idea is that by increasing the cost of high frequency trading and other forms of speculation, these parasitic activities would be reduced:
This week Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Barbara Lee are introducing bills in the Senate and House for a financial transaction tax (FTT). Their proposed tax is similar to, albeit somewhat higher than, the FTT proposed by Senator Brian Schatz earlier this year. The Sanders-Lee proposal would impose a 0.5 percent tax on stock transactions, with lower rates on transfers of other financial assets. Senator Schatz’s bill would impose a 0.1 percent tax on trades of all financial assets.

At this point, it is not worth highlighting the differences between the bills. Both would raise far more than half a trillion dollars over the next decade, almost entirely at the expense of the financial industry and hedge fund-types. In the case of the Schatz tax, the Congressional Budget Office estimated revenue of almost $80 billion a year, a bit less than 2.0 percent of the budget. The Sanders-Lee tax would likely raise in the neighborhood of $120–$150 billion a year, in the neighborhood of 3.0 percent of the federal budget.

While the financial industry will make great efforts to convince people that this money is coming out of the middle-class’ 401(k)s and workers’ pensions, that’s not likely to be true. This can be seen with some simple arithmetic.

Take a person with $100,000 with a 401(k). Suppose 20 percent of it turns over each year, meaning that the manager of the account sells $20,000 worth of stock and replaces it with $20,000 worth of different stocks. In this case, if we assume the entire 0.5 percent specified in the Sanders-Lee bill is passed on to investors, then this person will pay $100 a year in tax on their 401(k).

While no one wants to pay more in taxes, this hardly seems like a horrible burden. After all, the financial industry typically charges fees on 401(k)s in excess of 1.0 percent annually ($1,000 a year, in this case), and often as much as 1.5 percent or even 2.0 percent.
One of the arguments against the tax is that the forecast revenues are overstated, since there will be less speculative activity as a result of the higher costs.

This a feature, and a highly attractive feature at that, and not a bug, or, as Randall Munroe noted in his xkcd web comic, Mission F%$#ing Accomplished.

25 May 2019

History is Rhyming Again

German Jews have been warned by the commissioner on antisemitism not to wear yarmulkes in public:
Germany’s government commissioner on antisemitism has warned Jews about the potential dangers of wearing the traditional kippah cap in the face of rising anti-Jewish attacks.

“I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany,” Felix Klein said in an interview published Saturday by the Funke regional press group.

In issuing the warning, he said he had “alas, changed my mind (on the subject) compared to previously”.

Klein, whose post was created last year, cited “the lifting of inhibitions and the uncouthness which is on the rise in society” as factors behind a rising incidence of antisemitism.

“The internet and social media have largely contributed to this, but so have constant attacks against our culture of remembrance.”

And he suggested police, teachers and lawyers should be better trained to recognise what constitutes “clearly defined” unacceptable behaviour and “what is authorised and what is not”.

His comments came just weeks after Berlin’s top legal expert on antisemitism said the issue remains entrenched in German society.

………

Antisemitic crimes rose by 20% in Germany last year, according to interior ministry data which blamed nine out of ten cases on the extreme right.
Humanity, in all its splendor, huh?

Stupid Judge Tricks

I approve of the US Court of Appeals of the 4th circuit's opinion revoking the permit of a pipeline that crosses the Appalachian Trail, but I'm less sanguine of their invoking Dr. Seuss:
A federal appeals court has thrown out a power company's permit to build a natural gas pipeline across two national forests and the Appalachian Trail – and slammed the U.S. Forest Service for granting the approvals in the first place.

In a decision filed Thursday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., a three-judge panel declared the U.S. Forest Service "abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources" when it issued permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to build through parts of the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests and a right of way across the Appalachian Trail.

"This conclusion," they wrote in a unanimous judgment, "is particularly informed by the Forest Service's serious environmental concerns that were suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company's deadlines."

The judges cited Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: "We trust the United States Forest Service to 'speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.'"
(emphasis mine)

Seriously, Dr. Seuss?

I know that the law is sometimes dry, but the judges are overcompensating here.

The Blithely Stated Terrifying Statement

It's clear that Donald Trump, and his poodle Attorney General William Barr, are attempting a purge of of the the US state security apparatus in response to the Mueller report.

Needless to say, the ability of Donald Trump to use this to mold the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. into his own image.

This is not to say that they status quo is a good thing.

In the lead paragraph of the article, there is a very chilling sentence, and it is the sheer banality of the statement that terrifies:
President Trump’s order allowing Attorney General William P. Barr to declassify any intelligence that led to the Russia investigation sets up a potential confrontation with the C.I.A. It effectively strips the agency of its most critical power: choosing which secrets it shares and which ones remain hidden.
(emphasis mine)

If there is any organization in the US government that should not have the absolute power to choose which secrets it shares, it is the CIA.

Considering the record of the CIA, with its long history of failures, support for authoritarian regimes, assaults on democracy, and spreading misery, if there is any agency which needs aggressive scrutiny from civilian government, they are it.

Linkage


Chinese food on Christmas, the music video:

24 May 2019

Bye Felicia Theresa

Theresa May became the leader of Britain after the country voted in a June 2016 referendum to leave the European Union. Brexit was her No. 1 job, and she failed to deliver it.

May announced Friday that she will resign as her party’s leader June 7 and make way for a new British prime minister later this summer.

Speaking in front of the official residence, 10 Downing Street, May said she had “done my best” but was unable to sway members of Parliament to back her compromise vision of Brexit. She told Britons that compromise was not a dirty word.

“I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success seemed high,” she said. “It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret for me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.”

Near the end of her brief remarks, May noted that she was Britain’s second female prime minister and promised there would be more women in the highest office. Then her voice became shaky and tears almost came as she said she was departing with “no ill will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.”
It's amazing that she became PM, and that she hung on as long as she did, since she made a complete dogs breakfast of everything that she has done.

I can only conclude that her deliberate cruelty (immigrants when she was Home Secretary, and toward poor people when she was PM)  reflects a core value of the Conservative Party, and her support flowed from that.

23 May 2019

This is Supposed to Have a Chilling Effect

Julian Assangehas now been charged under the espionage act for publishing information that the government did not want published.

Publishing information that someone does not want published is journalism.  Anything else is stenography:
Julian Assange could face decades in a US prison after being charged with violating the Espionage Act by publishing classified information through WikiLeaks.

Prosecutors announced 17 additional charges against Assange for publishing hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables and files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Assange, 47, was previously charged with working to hack a Pentagon computer system, in a secret indictment that was unveiled soon after his arrest at Ecuador’s embassy in London last month.

“Assange’s actions risked serious harm to United States national security to the benefit of our adversaries,” the justice department said in a statement. Officials said the publication of secret files by WikiLeaks was “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States”.

………

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, labelled the new charges facing Assange as “the evil of lawlessness in its purest form”.

He added: “With the indictment, the ‘leader of the free world’ dismisses the First Amendment - hailed as a model of press freedom around the world - and launches a blatant extraterritorial assault outside its border, attacking basic principles of democracy in Europe and the rest of the world.”
I agree with this characterization.
The new charges against Assange raise profound questions about the freedom of the press under the first amendment of the US constitution. They may also complicate Washington’s attempts to extradite him from London.

Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Assange in the US, said in a statement: “These unprecedented charges demonstrate the gravity of the threat the criminal prosecution of Julian Assange poses to all journalists in their endeavor to inform the public about actions taken by the US government.”

The charges were roundly condemned by press freedom advocates. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said the charges posed a “dire threat” to journalists publishing classified information in the public interest. The Freedom of the Press Foundation described the prosecution as “terrifying”.
Terrorizing journalists is the goal here.

Ignoring the Obvious

I read an article suggesting that the time of the Blue Dog Democrats has passed because it was primarily a way to elect candidates by maximizing donations from business to allow them to win in marginal districts, and that, with the growth of internet based political donations, and the resulting explosion in small donor money, the tactic has become obsolete.

I think that this is wrong.

First, there are way too many Blue Dogs and Blue Dog types in safe districts, (Lipinski, for example) where the fund raising is not an issue, and second they really don't do appreciably better than real Democrats.

Here is an important fact:  Political consultants are paid a proportion of media buys, so the more a candidate depends on fundraising, the more they make.

The focus on high budget campaigns, particularly in rural districts where media is relative cheap, is not about winning campaigns, it's about political consultants generating large fees for themselves.

This is not about electoral success at all, it's about self dealing among the professional political class.

The party establishment is dedicated to raising and spending as much as possible, EVEN WHEN IT ENGENDERS NO ELECTORAL BENEFIT, because there is a revolving door between DNC/DCCC/DSCC professional staffers and the political consultants, and the political consultants want their pay day.

This strategy is driven by the self-interest of the consultants, not the need to win elections.

Also, Proctological Exams and IRS Audits Far Exceed Cable in Customer Satisfaction


Not a surprise. I would have higher consumer satisfaction ratings that cable companies if I sold people radioactive asbestos kale salads:
There's just something about terrible customer service, high prices, and sketchy quality product that consumers oddly don't like. American consumers' dislike of traditional cable TV providers was once again made clear this week in a study by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which, as its name implies, tracks US consumer approval of companies on a 100 point scale. As has long been the case, the full report shows most traditional cable TV, satellite, or IPTV providers languishing somewhere in the mid 60s -- scores that are bested by a long line of industries and government agencies (including the IRS).

Not too surprisingly, the report shows that American consumers far prefer streaming video alternatives, which provide them with lower costs and greater package flexibility. According to the ACSI, streaming services scored significantly higher than traditional TV, phone, broadband, video on demand, and wireless providers:
People hate their cable companies, and they do so with good reason.

It's not for nothing that Comcast had to rebrand itself as Xfinity.

Dealing with cable company customer service is less pleasant than Dick Cheney scat porn.  (Not seen, not gonna see, not gonna Google it.)

22 May 2019

Pass the Popcorn

The New York legislature just passed a bill authorizing Congressional access to Donald Trump's state tax returns, and Governor Andrew "Rat Faced Andy" Cuomo is expected to sign it:
New York State lawmakers on Wednesday gave their final approval to a bill that would clear a path for Congress to obtain President Trump’s state tax returns, injecting another element into a tortuous battle over the president’s refusal to release his taxes.

The bill, which is expected to be signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat and regular critic of Mr. Trump’s policies and behavior, will authorize state tax officials to release the president’s state returns to any one of three congressional committees.

The returns — filed in New York, the president’s home state and business headquarters — would likely contain much of the same information as the contested federal returns, though it remained unclear whether those congressional committees would use such new power in their investigations.

The Legislature’s actions put the state in a bit of uncharted legal territory; Mr. Trump has said that he is ready to take the fight over his federal tax returns to the Supreme Court, and it seems likely that he would seek to contest New York’s maneuver.

Republicans have called the effort in Albany a “bill of attainder” — an unconstitutional piece of legislation aimed at a single person or group — while also decrying the potential invasion of privacy, suggesting that federal officials would conduct improper “fishing expeditions.”

………

Once signed into law by Mr. Cuomo, the legislation would require the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release returns to the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.” Such a request would be have to be made it writing, and only after a request for federal returns has been made to the Treasury Department.
While the bill clearly targets Donald Trump's particular circumstances, it does not appear to my non lawyer eyes to rise to the level of a bill of attainder.

The real question is whether any of the members of the Ways and Means Committee have the stones to actually make the request, as the other two committees would have such a request blocked by Republicans.

My guess is that Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) won't have the requisite intestinal fortitude to actually make a formal request, because Democrats.

The Value of Twitter

The Philadelphia Enquirer pulled its "audience team", off of twitter and replaced them with an automated bot.

It turned out that there was no change in referral traffic:
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s audience team used to spend 80% of its time on Twitter for a 2-3% return in referral traffic.

“And I was like, well that’s ridiculous,” said Kim Fox, managing editor for audience and innovation.

Now, the Inquirer’s Twitter flagship accounts are automated, and the Inquirer gets … yes … about a 2-3% return in referral traffic. ………
This wan't a heavy duty AI bot.  It's basically an RSS feed.

I am not surprised.

It's the nature of the medium.

Sometimes, The Ratf%$#s Lose

In this case, the rodent breeders in question are Qualcomm, who has been requiring companies to both buy their (protected by patent) chips, AND to pay licensing fees on those same patents.

I do not understand how patent exhaustion would not prevent this.

It appears that federal judge Lucy Koh has a similar view, and found Qualcomm is guilty of serious anti-trust violations, and issued an injunction preventing them from getting two bites at the Apple:*
Qualcomm abused its monopoly on critical chip patents for decades, a US federal judge in California said on Wednesday in a decision with radical implications for the cellphone market.

In a 233-page opinion [PDF] Judge Lucy Koh came down heavily on the chip designer, saying it had violated antitrust laws and "strangled competition" by insisting that companies license its patents at unreasonable prices before being allowed to purchase its chips. Qualcomm chips are an essential component in modern mobile phones.

Koh also issued a permanent injunction that orders Qualcomm to sell its chips to companies without requiring them to license its patents. She also ordered that the company be monitored by federal regulators for seven years.

………

Qualcomm has said it will appeal the decision and seek an immediate stay on the injunction. "We strongly disagree with the judge's conclusions, her interpretation of the facts and her application of the law," the company said in a statement. The impact of the decision on Qualcomm's bottom line was reflected in an instant 12 per cent drop in its share price.

………

"Qualcomm’s licensing practices have strangled competition in the CDMA and premium LTE modem chip markets for years, and harmed rivals, OEMs and end consumers in the process," Judge Koh wrote. "Qualcomm’s licensing practices are an unreasonable restraint of trade."

Explaining her decision to grant a permanent injunction, she argued "it makes little sense for the court, having found that Qualcomm's patent licenses are the product of anti-competitive conduct, to leave those licenses in place." The Snapdragon system-on-chip designer was charging "unreasonably high royalty rates," Koh said.

………

At the core of the case is that fact that Qualcomm possesses a number of "standard essential" patents on chips that are critical for mobile phones to function. It then used that position to force companies to license its patents – demanding many times a fair market rate – before being allowed to buy its chips.

Experts highlighted the fact that Qualcomm would also only license its patents at the device level, as opposed at the component or chip level – which forced companies to pay it more and gave it greater control of the market.
Here's hoping that this holds up on appeal.

*Pun intended.

What the F%$# Do You Put on Your Resume

I was reading an article about how researchers, using shark vomit, have determined that baby tiger in the Gulf of Mexico sharks eat lots of son birds. (NOT seabirds)

Normally, I would file this under, "Huh, that's interesting," and I might post a link in my linkage posts.

But then a thought hit me, which is that a fairly large number of researchers are involved in this, including research assistants, graduate students, and maybe some undergrads as well.

Doubtless these folks will be going to other jobs, and other schools, where they will want to relate this experience to future employers or educators.

This raises a question for me, what is the best way to put, "Shark Vomit Analyst on a resume?"

21 May 2019

Wages of Law Breaking

I am referring to Uber and Lyft, whose generally unlawful activiteis are billed as "innovative disruption".


Well, experts at  San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the University of Kentucky, have studied their effect, and the it's absolutely the opposite of what the hack taxicab companies have claimed:
Uber and Lyft accounted for two-thirds of a 62% rise in congestion in San Francisco over six years, according to a report published on the day of a coordinated protest by drivers.

The figures “are eye-popping,” said Joe Castiglione, deputy director for technology, data and analysis at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. He co-authored the study with researchers from the University of Kentucky.

It shows that hours of vehicle delays increased by 62% throughout the city from 2010 to 2016, the period when ride-hailing services began proliferating on the streets. Traffic models that exclude Uber and Lyft cars show that hours of delay would have gone up 22% in their absence.

Extrapolating from those numbers, the study’s authors concluded that on-demand ride services — or transportation network companies, as they’re known in academic patois — are clogging roads and siphoning people from mass transit, going against the companies’ stated mission to wean people off of private cars. The authors laid out their findings in the scholarly journal Science Advances, providing fodder for policymakers seeking to regulate these companies.

………

A similar study that the Transportation Authority published last year looked more broadly at swelling traffic from 2010 to 2016, and found that transportation network companies comprised about half of it, with the other half stemming from job and population growth. Wednesday’s study narrowly measured the correlation between ride-hailing services and increased congestion.
Since I am inclined to state the obvious, this result was predicted over 80 years ago, which was one of the reasons why New York instituted taxi medallions 1937.

This is not disruptive innovation, it's just a twist on a very old scam, and the founders have gotten very rich using other people's money.

This is Pathological

One of the people on Trump's short list for "Immigration Czar" is Kris Kobach.

The New York Times has gotten its hands on his demands in order to accept position, and, Even by the Standards of the Trump Administration, he has shown himself to be a psychopathic narcissist:
Access to a government jet 24 hours a day. An office in the West Wing, plus guaranteed weekends off for family time. And an assurance of being made secretary of homeland security by November.

Those were among a list of 10 conditions that Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, has given to the White House if he is to become the administration’s “immigration czar,” a job President Trump has been looking to create to coordinate immigration policy across government agencies. The list was described by three people familiar with it.
………

The list was submitted by Mr. Kobach in recent weeks as he discussed his interest in the job. Other conditions included having a staff of seven reporting to him, “walk in” privileges to the Oval Office, a security detail if deemed necessary and the title of assistant to the president.

He would need access to the jet, he said, for weekly visits to the border and travel back to Kansas on the weekends. The existence of the list has become known among officials in the Trump administration, some of whom were taken aback by what they regard as its presumptuousness.
(emphasis mine)

Seriously, there is something deeply and profoundly wrong with this guy.

Tweet of the Day


Yeah, pretty much.

I so hope that he gets into the debates.

Almost 20 Years in Maryland………

And I still do not get their affection for crab cakes. (Working lunch today)

It's probably just me though.

I've never been a fan of bread based stuffing either, give me the wild rice any time.

20 May 2019

If Speaker Pelosi Does Not Want to Use the House of Representatives, I Would Like to Borrow It for a Time

Yesterday, it was Justin Amash (R-MI), and today it was 3 members of the Demcratic leadership in the House calling for Trump's impeachment:
House Democratic leaders sparred internally on Monday over whether to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies rejecting the call to move forward for now, according to multiple sources.

Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) — all members of the Democratic leadership — pushed to begin impeachment proceedings during a leadership meeting in Pelosi's office, said the sources. Pelosi and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) — some of her key allies — rejected their calls, saying Democrats' message is being drowned out by the fight over possibly impeaching Trump.
The, "Democrats' message," what the hell is that?

According to Cheri Bustos, head of the DCCC, you have to aggressively support an anti-choice Dem in a safe district, (Lipinski) and a right wing darling of the Koch brothers. (Cuellar)

What is your message, besides, "This space for rent"?

She is the George McClellan of Congress.

She has done a creditable job organizing a Democratic Congress, but she seems determined not to do anything it.

The Gig Economy Strikes Back

A group of Uber and Lyft drivers serving Washington National Airport have taken to simultaneously turning off their apps to drive surge pricing to increase their fares:
Drivers for ride-hailing apps Lyft and Uber have organized for better pay through collective action – and not by unionizing.

Here's how it works: a group of drivers who pick up passengers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, outside the US capital, have been turning off their taxi apps simultaneously to influence the surge pricing algorithms used by the two companies.

A report published last week by local ABC affiliate WJLA-TV recounts how a group of 100-150 drivers all turned off their driver apps in sync – coordinated by an individual using an unidentified app – to create the false impression of a local driver shortage.

With the ride supply down as demand peaks, the taxi apps' surge pricing algorithms kick in, offering higher rates to entice more drivers to come to the airport. Minutes later, once the price rises anywhere from $10 to $19 or so, the drivers sign back on and accept the fare at a level they find more reasonable.
This is why you should not do business with companies that treat their employees like crap.

Even ignoring the ethical issues, it is likely that those poorly treated employees will find a way to fight back, and you are likely to be the battlefield.

An Appropriate Use of Dairy Products

Yes, that is Nigel Farage, and yes, he has been hit with a milkshake.

It appears that in the UK, hurling milkshakes at right wing rat-f%$#s is a thing.

While I cannot offer my wholehearted support of the abuse of dairy products, I do find this preferable to the US approach, which all to often involves the use of firearms.

Support Your Local Police

Florida National Guardsmen were getting ready to engage in weapons qualification at a shooting range.

They followed the North Miami Beach Police sniper team and discovered that the cops had been using mugshots of black men for target practice, including a phtograph of one of the guardsmen's brothers:
A South Florida family is outraged at North Miami Beach Police after mug shots of African American men were used as targets at a shooting range for police training.

It was an ordinary Saturday morning last month when Sgt. Valerie Deant arrived at the shooting range in Medley, or so she thought.

Deant, who plays clarinet with the Florida Army National Guard’s 13th Army Band, and her fellow soldiers were at the shooting range for their annual weapons qualifications training.

What the soldiers discovered when they entered the range made them angry: mug shots of African American men apparently used as targets by North Miami Beach Police snipers, who had used the range before the Guardsmen. Even more startling for Deant, one of the images was her brother. It was Woody Deant’s mug shot that taken 15 years ago, after he was arrested in connection to a drag race in 2000 that left two people dead. His mug shot was among the pictures of five minorities used as targets by North Miami Beach police, all of them riddled by bullets.

“I was like ‘why is my brother being used for target practice?’” Deant asked.
Your brother is being used for target practice because he is black, and because the North Miami Beach Police sniper team is a sociopathic and racist organization.

The degree to which racism and brutality are unthinkingly incorporated into law enforcement culture in the United States truly deplorable.

19 May 2019

The $100 Million Dollar Cat is Dead

Tardar Sauce, better known as "Grumpy Cat", has died of a UTI at age 7.

In cat years, she was in the prime of life.

Here permanently peeved expression was due to feline dwarfism, so it could be argued that we are actually seeing is the world's most extreme case of "resting bitch face" ever seen on a cat.

Over her short life, this cat may have earned as much as $100,000,000.00.

Capitalism is amazing, huh?


A Much Needed Regulation



This is important, because excluding the disabled, and other students who need extra help, is the "Secret Sauce" of charter schools.

It allows them to create the appearance of exceptional performance on the cheap:
State law already requires that a charter school admit any student who applies. In his May budget revision, Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing to tighten the language banning discrimination in charter school enrollment, particularly to protect students with disabilities and students with poor grades who want to attend charter schools.

………

In return for receiving public funding, charter schools must have open admissions and hold a lottery when there are more applicants than spaces. School districts have complained that some of the state’s 1,300-plus charter schools have discouraged families with academically struggling students and special education students with high-cost needs from signing up. Others counsel students who are struggling academically to leave school mid-year to boost schoolwide test scores, districts say.

………

Charges that charter schools deliberately select top student applicants have been largely anecdotal, which is why Newsom is proposing a uniform complaint policy that allows parents to file a grievance if they believe they were discriminated against. He also wants to explore using state Smarter Balanced testing and other data to identify enrollment disparities “that may warrant inquiry and intervention,” his budget stated.

Three years ago, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the public interest law firm Public Advocates released a report that found that about a fifth of charter schools had admissions policies that improperly excluded students based on grades, pre-enrollment interviews, a parental participation requirement, or that required citizenship documentation and a minimum level of English language proficiency. The report was based on a review of charter schools’ websites and most charter schools responded by removing pages they said were outdated and didn’t reflect their current policies.

Newsom’s proposed statute would specify that charter schools cannot request or require parents to submit student records before enrolling. And it would require that charter schools post parental rights on their websites and make parents aware of them during enrollment and when students are expelled or leave during the year.
………

The proposed statute implies there should be no allowances “for any reason” that might discourage any pupil from enrolling in a charter school.
It's a good start.

A Good Start

The first Republican member of Congress has come out for impeaching Donald Trump:
Republican Congressman Justin Amash has broken with the Republican Party line to declare that President Trump has “engaged in impeachable conduct.” He also accuses Attorney General William Barr of attempting “to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings.” President Trump has responded calling Amash a “lightweight” and a “loser.”

Amash, who represents a Michigan district anchored by Grand Rapids, leans libertarian in his political orientation. He is the first prominent GOP officeholder to suggest that Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice and undermine the rule of law merit his removal from office. Indeed, Amash’s call for impeachment puts him out ahead of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

“President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” Amash writes. The congressman used a Twitter thread Saturday to broadcast his views, “only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff.”

In his thread, Amash offered choice criticism for Barr in his execution of his duties as America’s top law enforcement officer.

Amash spends much of his thread warning America about adherence to party over our constitutional system of checks and balances, while making a subtle jab at fellow conservatives who sought to impeach Bill Clinton for obstruction of justice, but have remained silent in the face of Trump’s lawlessness:
Trump's response, by Twitter (of course) , is to call Amash a lightweight and a loser.

I do not think that this is pebbles before an avalanche, but it does provide a slight gloss of bipartisanship to the movement toward impeachment.

I Think that This is Intentional



I just noticed that there is a lot of physical similarity between anti-alien bigot Ben Lockwood/Agent Liberty (played by actor Sam Witwer, right) on Supergirl, and Alt-Right bigot Ben Shapiro (played by useless sphincter Ben Shapiro, left).

The story arc of Supergirl, prominently features an anti-alien movement in the United States.

This arc is unequivocally an allegory for the anti-immigrant movement in general, and the Alt Right in particular, in the United States.

I am thinking that this was an deliberate decision by the producers, and I wholeheartedly approve.

18 May 2019

Well, This is a Big Old F%$# You

I have been writing for some time about how Turkey's purchase of the top of the line Russian S-400 surface to air missile (SAM) system has the US military industrial complex freaking out over the loss of sales.

The US claims that Turkey operating the system would allow the Russians unique insights into the characteristics of the F-35, but this is complete crap.

The Russians would be able to determing things like radar cross section from installations in Syria and Russia. (It is an extraordinarily long range system)

In response to threats to cancel F-35 sales to Turkey, Turkey is not in negotiations with Russia to set up a production line for the S-500, the even more capable system due to succeed the S-400:
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the purchase of S-400 defense systems from Russia was a done deal, adding that Ankara would also jointly produce S-500 defense systems with Moscow.

U.S. officials have called Turkey’s planned purchase of the S-400 missile defense system “deeply problematic,” saying it would risk Ankara’s partnership in the joint strike fighter F-35 program because it would compromise the jets, made by Lockheed Martin Corp.
I don't speak Turkish, but I'm pretty sure that this is an invitation for the Pentagon, and Lockheed Martin, to go Cheney themselves.

Cue Inspector Renault


I'm shocked! Shocked! To find that gambling is going on this establishment
The "Democratic Party" right wing organization Third Way has admitted that they are bought and paid for by Wall Street:
If Third Way’s attacks on Senator Elizabeth Warren make the group sound like a stalking horse for Wall Street executives, there might be a reason for that.

At a demonstration today outside the think tank’s downtown DC office, Third Way senior vice president Matt Bennett conceded to Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) co-founder Adam Green that “the majority” of Third Way’s donor support comes from the group’s board of trustees, most of whom are from the finance sector.
 
Well knock me over with a mackerel.

This has been patently obvious since the group has burst on the scene.

Taking Wall Streeter's money to generate a comfortable life style for the associated lobbyists and political consultants has been it's raison d'être since its founding.

Yet Again, Bernie is Right

Sanders is calling on a ban for for-profit charter schools and a halt to further charter school expansion.

I wholeheartedly approve.

Charters are unaccountable, and frequently corrupt, as well as being the darlings of Wall Street money:
As president, Bernie Sanders would support a ban on for-profit charter schools and a blanket moratorium on public funding for all new charters, the candidate announced in a speech on Saturday, throwing down a new gauntlet on the left in the Democratic debate over education reform.

The Vermont senator laid out a broad education agenda that seeks to address racial disparities on the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Sanders’s plan is quite ambitious, thought it lacks some important details.

He wants to triple federal Title I funding for schools that serve a large number of low-income students, set a national salary floor for teachers of $60,000, and provide universal school meals: breakfast, lunch, and snacks for every student year-round.

But his proposed prohibition on for-profit charter schools and temporary ban on government spending on new nonprofit charters is a foray into the most divisive piece of the education reform debate. Charter schools have been a source of debate for years between mainstream liberals who see charters as a promising alternative to the traditional public schools and the labor left that considers them an attack on teachers unions because charters are typically unorganized.

………

For existing charter schools, Sanders would propose that they be subject to the same oversight requirements as regular schools, that half of a charter school’s board members be parents and teachers, and that charters be required to disclose certain student and funding data.
Charter schools do not in the whole outperform public schools, and we have seen repeated examples of corruption and self-dealing, so ending for-profit chains, and placing a hold on expansion until appropriate oversight can be implemented is just basic good governance.

I would prefer to see them shut down completely, I think that they are primarily an attempt to loot, with a side order of union busting, but this is a good start.

The Return of the AH-56 Apache


Proposed Apache Update


AH-56 Apache
Boeing is proposing a major update to its Apache attack helicopter, that the similarities between it and the 1960s vintage AH-56 apache are striking:
U.S. aerospace manufacturer Boeing has shown footage of high-speed version of Apache attack helicopter during the Vertical Flight Society’s 75th Annual Forum & Technology Display.

Graham Warwick posted images of the Apache gunship concept and photo of a scale model of a new helicopter that was unveiled by the Boeing on social media.

The concept, called the Advanced AH-64 Block 2 Compound, is developing to serve as a gap filler in a U.S. Army Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

Jane’s Defense Weekly early reported that the new gunship will feature an enlarged main wing, revised engine exhaust arrangement, large vertical tail fin, and a rear-mounted pusher propeller. The design may also feature a new, rigid rotor system, which is a standard feature on other compound helicopter designs.

Also the Rotor & Wing International said that Boeing already has conducted wind tunnel testing of a scale model of a high-speed Apache gunship.
The similarities between the two helicopters, both in appearance and concept, are striking.

It's Overyhped? Say it Ain't So!

There is an increasingl realization that the promised transformative nature of 5G mobile technology is a mirage.

The blistering speeds promised only occur with the higher frequencies, which only extend about a mile from a cell tower, and do not effectively penetrate building walls and the like:
Buried underneath the blistering hype surrounding fifth-generation (5G) wireless is a quiet but growing consensus: the technology is being over-hyped, and early incarnations were rushed to market in a way that prioritized marketing over substance. That's not to say that 5G won't be a good thing when it arrives at scale several years from now, but early offerings have been almost comical in their shortcomings. AT&T has repeatedly lied about 5G availability by pretending its 4G network is 5G. Verizon has repeatedly hyped early non-standard launches that, when reviewers actually got to take a look, were found to be barely available.

If you looked past press releases you'd notice that Verizon's early launches required the use of $200 battery add on mod because we still haven't really figured out the battery drain issues presented by 5G's power demands. You'd also notice the growing awareness that the long-hyped millimeter wave spectrum being used for many deployments have notable distance and line of sight issues, meaning that rural and much of suburban America will not likely see the speeds you'll frequently see bandied about in marketing issues, and many of the same coverage gap issues you see with current-gen broadband are likely to persist.

If you looked past the headlines you'd probably noticed that even Wall Street was concerned that 5G was being over-hyped and wasn't yet ready for prime time. Those concerns continue to be expressed largely in industry trade magazines, where you'll often find stock jocks noting that most of the purported promises of 5G remain well over the horizon:

"What of the other fancy features of 5G, like massive IoT and ultra low latency? Specifications for those technologies are scheduled for availability in -- wait for it -- 2020, when the 3GPP's Release 16 is scheduled to be finished.

"We believe the current investment opportunity associated with 5G is limited and unlikely to drive meaningful incremental upside for companies involved considering the mature state of the smartphone market," wrote the analysts at Wall Street research firm Cowen in a recent note to investors."
What, you mean that out wireless companies are lying to us?

I'm shocked.