31 October 2016

Muck Fonsanto

The New York Times has looked into the potential benefits of transgenic crops, and found no evidence that these benefits exist:
The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat.

But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem — genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides.

The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides.

Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents, using independent data as well as academic and industry research, shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise.

An analysis by The Times using United Nations data showed that the United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields — food per acre — when measured against Western Europe, a region with comparably modernized agricultural producers like France and Germany. Also, a recent National Academy of Sciences report found that “there was little evidence” that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops. Continue reading the main story

At the same time, herbicide use has increased in the United States, even as major crops like corn, soybeans and cotton have been converted to modified varieties. And the United States has fallen behind Europe’s biggest producer, France, in reducing the overall use of pesticides, which includes both herbicides and insecticides.
Here's a suggestion, how about invalidating patents on plant species and granting farmers the unconditional right to replant their seeds. 

This was the state of affairs for about 15,000 years of human history, and we did just fine.

While We are on the Subject of "New Economy" Bigotry

Facebook has been allowing advertisers to exclude targets by race and ethnicity, and they allow people to do so for ads for real estate and employment, which is illegal as hell:
The ad we purchased was targeted to Facebook members who were house hunting and excluded anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic people. (Here’s the ad itself.)

When we showed Facebook’s racial exclusion options to a prominent civil rights lawyer John Relman, he gasped and said, “This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.”

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal "to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators can face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits the “printing or publication of notices or advertisements indicating prohibited preference, limitation, specification or discrimination” in employment recruitment.

acebook’s business model is based on allowing advertisers to target specific groups — or, apparently to exclude specific groups — using huge reams of personal data the company has collected about its users. Facebook’s microtargeting is particularly helpful for advertisers looking to reach niche audiences, such as swing-state voters concerned about climate change. ProPublica recently offered a tool allowing users to see how Facebook is categorizing them. We found nearly 50,000 unique categories in which Facebook places its users.


Satterfield said it’s important for advertisers to have the ability to both include and exclude groups as they test how their marketing performs. For instance, he said, an advertiser “might run one campaign in English that excludes the Hispanic affinity group to see how well the campaign performs against running that ad campaign in Spanish. This is a common practice in the industry.”

He said Facebook began offering the “Ethnic Affinity” categories within the past two years as part of a “multicultural advertising” effort.

Satterfield added that the “Ethnic Affinity” is not the same as race — which Facebook does not ask its members about. Facebook assigns members an “Ethnic Affinity” based on pages and posts they have liked or engaged with on Facebook.

When we asked why “Ethnic Affinity” was included in the “Demographics” category of its ad-targeting tool if it’s not a representation of demographics, Facebook responded that it plans to move “Ethnic Affinity” to another section.

Facebook declined to answer questions about why our housing-categories ad excluding minority groups was approved 15 minutes after we placed the order. By comparison, consider the advertising controls that the New York Times has put in place to prevent discriminatory housing ads. After the newspaper was successfully sued under the Fair Housing Act in 1989, it agreed to review ads for potentially discriminatory content before accepting them for publication
It's OK, because ……… internet.

I am so sick and tired of the entitled white boys in the tech industry.

This is a Feature Not a Bug of the Sharing Economy

Much as with AirbnB, it turns out that Uber and Lyft are rife with bigotry and racism:
That’s according to a new study that shows that riders with African-American-sounding names are more likely to wait longer to be accepted for a ride or have their trip canceled than people with white-sounding names. The results are contained in a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Researchers from MIT, Stanford University, and the University of Washington studied almost 1,500 rides on defined routes in both Seattle and Boston.

In the Seattle experiments, the researchers found that people with African-American-sounding names typically had to wait 29 seconds for an Uber acceptance and 23 seconds for a Lyft acceptance, compared to just 21 and 19 seconds respectively for riders with white-sounding names.

Results from the Boston experiments show more of a problem for Uber. Here, the researchers found that riders with African-American-sounding names had Uber rides cancelled 10.1 percent of the time, versus just 4.9 percent of the time for those with white-sounding names. Results for Lyft journeys actually showed a small skew in the opposite direction.


Similar approaches have been posited by academics for adoption by Airbnb, which itself struggles with the issue of discrimination, as Edelman has shown in the past. But these kinds of services have been built on the use of information sharing as a means of building trust and creating a more efficient service (not that it always works). Any move away from that model will be a big step for Airbnb, Uber, or Lyft.

Still, it is a step that needs to be taken. “At Uber and Lyft, as at Airbnb in my findings, platform design all but invites service providers to discriminate,” says Edelman. “Consumers should demand more of these platforms—and so should regulators.”

The has been ongoing enforcement actions with regard to rental housing and taxis for decades, and the so-called "sharing economy" is predicated on the half baked idea that  "because internet" we can do away with all those pesky regulations.

The world does not work that way, and has never worked that way.

Peter Thiel Has Officially Become Too Cartoonishly Evil to Be a Bond Villain

I don't mean for his support of Donald Trump, or for his literal exploration of Vampirism to extend his own life, or for his gay baiting in college.

That's evil, but I think that this is not excessive by the standards of Bond villains.

Give him a white Persian cat, and he would fit in just fine.

But he gave a speech at the National Press Club, he complained that, "If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system."
PayPal co-founder and tech billionaire Peter Thiel on Monday offered a jaw-dropping defense of his decision to bankroll wrestling icon Hulk Hogan’s invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker for publishing a sex tape featuring him.

“If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system,” he said. “It costs too much. This was the modus operandi of Gawker in large part it was to go after people who had no chance of fighting back.”

The declaration came as Thiel was speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to tout the presidential bid of GOP candidate Donald Trump.

Thiel spent at least $10 million supporting Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker. Thiel had been engaged in a personal feud with the website for years. As a result of the lawsuit, Gawker was driven out of business.

Fordham Law School professor and criminal justice expert John Pfaff was quick to note that in 2007, many states’ entire budgets for indigent defense — money allotted to provide legal counsel to those who cannot afford it — is in the single-digit millions.
I hope that his fellow PayPal founder Elon Musk sends him into space, and leaves him there.

This Election Has Gone From Rod Serling to H.P. Lovecraft

I am not saying that this was a subterfuge that was promulgated by campaign to deflect the press, I am saying that this was a subterfuge that was promulgated on Trump to keep Jabba the Governor off the ticket:
Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, reportedly bamboozled his boss into switching his vice presidential pick from embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) by staging an airplane malfunction.

In July, The New York Times reported that Trump and Pence "impromptu dinner" after the GOP candidate's plane was grounded by "mechanical problems."

"And at some point during the evening, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pence if he would say yes, were Mr. Trump to offer him the No. 2 slot," according to the Times.

But a Sunday report in the New York Post revealed that Manafort took the dramatic step of lying to Trump about mechanical problems with the plane after his boss tentatively selected Christie for the V.P. slot.

“Trump had wanted Christie but Bridgegate would have been the biggest national story,” Trump source told the Post. “He’d lose the advantage of not being corrupt.”
(emphasis mine)

Seriously, Manafort f%$#ing gaslighted the candidate over his selection of a running mate.

We are truly on terra incognita here.

There are plenty of things **cough** dirty tricks **cough** that the campaign keeps from the candidate for plausibility deniability, but manipulating the candidate into selecting your choice of VP by stranding him with your choice like some sort of twisted 30s romantic comedy??

What the actual f%$#?


Darth By Darthwest

"DARTH BY DARTHWEST"-"VADOR AUX TROUSSES". Short Film. from Fabrice Mathieu on Vimeo.

30 October 2016

22 Years Ago Today

I plighted Sharon's troth, or maybe she plighted MY troth, I'm not sure.
22 years, 2 kids, 7-3/4 cats, 5 addresses, 9 cars, 2 sukkahs, and 1 wife.
To bad taste in men:  It's the only way that Saroff men pass on their genes.

Posted via mobile.

29 October 2016

Uber Loses Another One

An employment tribunal in London has ruled that its drivers are employees, not independent contractors:
Uber drivers are not self-employed and should be paid the “national living wage”, a UK employment court has ruled in a landmark case which could affect tens of thousands of workers in the gig economy.

The ride-hailing app could now be open to claims from all of its 40,000 drivers in the UK, who are currently not entitled to holiday pay, pensions or other workers’ rights. Uber immediately said it would appeal against the ruling.
Uber ruling is a massive boost for a fairer jobs market
Read more

Employment experts said other firms with large self-employed workforces could now face scrutiny of their working practices and the UK’s biggest union, Unite, announced it was setting up a new unit to pursue cases of bogus self-employment.

Research by Citizens Advice has suggested that as many as 460,000 people could be falsely classified as self-employed, costing up to £314m a year in lost tax and employer national insurance contributions. Four courier firms are already facing legal action from cyclists who want similar recognition as staff employees and the rights that go with that status, while delivery firm Hermes is under investigation by HM Revenue & Customs.

The Uber ruling could force a rethink of the gig economy business model, where companies use apps and the internet to match customers with workers. The firms do not employ the workers, but take commission from their earnings, and many have become huge global enterprises. Uber now operates around the world, with the company valued at more than £50bn.


The judges were scathing about Uber’s arguments, however, accusing the firm of “resorting in its documentation to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology” and even quoting Hamlet to suggest that the group’s UK boss was protesting too much about its position.
Uber's business model has been to create a business where all the risks and all the costs, are laid on their employees and their customers in defiance of the law, regulation, and decency.

It is a fundamentally immoral and abusive world view gleaned from the writings of the psychopath Ayn Rand.

28 October 2016

Explicitly Admitting What Has Been the Republican Campaign Strategy since Ronald Reagan

The Trump Campaign has admitted that they are actively engaging in voter suppression efforts.

This is no surprise.  When Reagan launched his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi talking about states rights, the subtext was always that, "N*****s should not be allowed to vote.

Here is the money quote:
To compensate for this, Trump’s campaign has devised another strategy, which, not surprisingly, is negative. Instead of expanding the electorate, Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans. Trump’s invocation at the debate of Clinton’s WikiLeaks e-mails and support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership was designed to turn off Sanders supporters. The parade of women who say they were sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton and harassed or threatened by Hillary is meant to undermine her appeal to young women. And her 1996 suggestion that some African American males are “super predators” is the basis of a below-the-radar effort to discourage infrequent black voters from showing up at the polls—particularly in Florida.
(emphasis mine)

Well Trolled

The Clinton Campaign is now offering tin foil hats with a rump theme:
Hillary Clinton's campaign is mocking Donald Trump with do-it-yourself tin foil hats.
Cinton's campaign website features a promotional brochure for a "Trump Tin Foil Hat." The brochure ridicules the Republican nominee for his "conspiracies" and shares instructions to help supporters create their own "Make America Great Again" foil hats.

"In fact if we elect Donald Trump, we could have a president dedicated to the truth: where is Elvis? Where did we film the moon landing?" the brochure reads.
Whoever did this deserves a promotion.

End Stage Imperial Collapse

There has been a massive increase in organ donations in New England over the past few years.

Any guess as to why?

Wait for it ………

You got it: there has been a corresponding explosion in opioid related deaths which has resulted in young people being available for harvest:
This year, some hospitals in Massachusetts, like Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, have dramatically increased the number of organ transplants they perform. The sources of these lifesaving gifts are the victims of the opioid epidemic. Although the increase in available organs represents hope for some and brings a small degree of comfort to the families of those lost to deaths from drug abuse, the wait continues for many more on the transplant list as well as families of addicts seeking services.


The liver represents just part of the dramatic increase in New England organ donations since 2010, according to the New England Organ Bank, the organization responsible for gathering the organs in the six New England states. The expansion is due to the growing number of organ donors who fell victims to the growing epidemic of opioid abuse. Since the beginning of the year, more than one in four organ transplants in the New England area originated from people suffering a drug overdose. Nationwide, organs from deceased drug users accounted for 12 percent of all donations this year. Traffic accidents used to be the fourth-largest source of organ donation, behind deaths from strokes, blunt injuries, and cardiovascular disease, but drug overdoses, now the fastest growing category of organ donor, eclipsed them in 2014.
Given that the increase in mortality and morbidity from these drugs seems directly tied to aggressive marketing and lobbying from the opiod lobby, this whole vicious cycle should have been shut down years ago, but no one has the guts to handle this.

What is Flat and Glows in the Dark?

The world during Hillary Clinton's first term.

Here's a an under-reported bit of war-mongering from one of Hillary's speeches to the Vampire Squid:
US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has said the US could claim the Pacific Ocean as an “American Sea” if China claims all of the South China Sea, according to excerpts of her speech contained in hacked emails revealed by WikiLeaks.

In a speech the Democratic candidate gave to bankers from Goldman Sachs in October 2013, she said the Chinese “have a right to assert themselves” in the South China Sea but the US needed to “push back” to keep Beijing from getting a “chokehold over world trade”.


In the paid speech to Goldman Sachs, Clinton said she confronted Chinese officials about the South China Sea during her tenure as secretary.

“I said, by that argument, you know, the United States should claim all of the Pacific. We liberated it; we defended it. We have as much claim to all of the Pacific. And we could call it the American Sea, and it could go from the West Coast of California all the way to the Philippines.”

She said in the speech that she had told her Beijing counterparts the Chinese claims to the South China Sea were based on “pottery shards” from “some fishing vessel that ran aground in an atoll somewhere”, whereas the US claim to the Pacific would be based on “convoys of military strength” in the second world war and the claim Americans “discovered Japan”.

She described this line of reasoning as “one of the greatest arguments that I had”.

Clinton said that as the debate became “more technical”, the Chinese said they would claim Hawaii, and that she had countered by saying the US had proof of purchase.



We are so screwed.

Not Gonna Happen

There are reports that ren-a-cops who used attack dogs on Dakota access pipeline protestors might be prosecuted for this.

It ain't gonna happen. If one of these guys took a baby from a protestor, roasted it on the flames of his breath, and ate it on while being filmed, the local constabulary would site the mother for preparing food without a license.

The DA has been charging journalists with incitement to riot. They will do nothing to rein in the excesses of public and private law enforcement.

Quote of the Day

Make benefits as universal as possible, and make rich people pay more in taxes. That's how you means test things. The rest is needless complexity designed to suck the life out of people who have it hard already.
Duncan "Atrios" Black
He's talking about how the Obama/Clinton wing of the party insists on people jumping through hoops to get social benefits.  **Cough** Obamacare **Cough**

The Headline Says It All

This Major City’s Drinking Water Was Fine. Then Came the Private Water Company

4 years after putting a private consultant, Veolia, in charge of managing the system, 81,000 homes have been warned that their drinking water may be lead contaminated due to a cost saving change in the chemical additives that Veolia implemented without consulting anyone.

Stealth privatization sucks just as badly as the open kind.

27 October 2016

You Can Get the Goldwater Girl to Register as a Democrat, But You Cannot Get the Goldwater out of the Girl

One of the things that Hillary Clinton thinks is a good thing is pushing down wages of already meagerly paid Chinese workers.

By extension, one could conclude that the same would apply to American factory workers:
The general media has been treating the WikiLeaks disclosures of the Clinton campaign documents, particularly the transcripts of her lucrative talks with Goldman Sachs as much ado about nothing. I have not found any article about the disclosures, however, that reported on the extraordinary statements she made in her talk with Goldman Sachs on June 4, 2013.

Hillary told the Vampire Squid that the “good news” was that China was removing workers’ (meager) legal protections so that their employers could “forc[e] down wages” in order to increase corporate profits. She used China’s (pathetically weak) legal protections for workers as her exemplar of China’s “structural economic problems.”
Thirdly, they seem to — and you all are the experts on this. They seem to be coming to grips with some of the structural economic problems that they are now facing. And look, they have them. There are limits to what enterprises can do, limits to forcing down wages to be competitive, all of which is coming to the forefront…
Clinton’s support for “forcing down wages” by removing China’s meager protections for workers reveals that her (leaked) admission that she is increasingly “far removed from the struggles of” the working and middle-class is a grave understatement. She is not simply “far removed” from their “struggles” – she continues when speaking secretly to Wall Street to attack workers’ interests.
I am so glad that I do not live in a swing state.

There is no moral conundrum forcing me to vote for her.

God Bless Maryland.

We Are Doomed

It now appears that the recent hack against DYN was the work of script kiddies.

Heaven help us if the pros decide to do something like this:
Business risk intelligence firm FlashPoint has put out a preliminary analysis of last week’s massive denial of service attack against Dyn DNS, and its conclusion is it was likely the work of amateur hackers — rather than, as some had posited, state-sponsored actors perhaps funded by the Russian government.

The DDoS attack against Dyn’s domain name system impacted access to a range of sites in parts of the U.S. last Friday, including PayPal, Twitter, Reddit, GitHub, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and RuneScape.

Aside from suspicion falling on Russia, various entities have also claimed or implied responsibility for the attack, including a hacking group called the New World Hackers and — bizarrely — WikiLeaks, which put out a (perhaps joke) tweet suggesting some of its supporters might be involved.

FlashPoint dubs these claims “dubious” and “likely to be false”, and instead comes down on the side of the script kiddies theory.

Its reasoning is based on a few factors, including a detail it unearthed during its investigation of the attack: namely that the infrastructure used in the attack also targeted a well-known video game company.

“While there does not appear to have been any disruption of service, the targeting of a video game company is less indicative of hacktivists, state-actors, or social justice communities, and aligns more with the hackers that frequent online hacking forums,” writes FlashPoint’s Allison Nixon, John Costello and Zach Wikholm in their analysis.
This is going to get very ugly very fast.

I might suggest that making sure that equipment manufacturers can be held liable for these sort of bone-headed vulnerabilities.

Damn, Damn!

Wallonia caved, and in response to language that changes nothing about the deal, has authorized the Belgian government to sign off on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, including its irreversible privitization and ISDS provisions:
European Union leaders have expressed hope of signing a trade deal with Canada after Belgian politicians overcame differences that had been blocking the treaty.

The Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, confirmed that leaders of five regional parliaments had reached an agreement with the federal government shortly after midday on Thursday. He tweeted:


The Belgian compromise – a four-page text that sits alongside the 1,600-page treaty – was approved by ambassadors from 28 EU member states on Thursday afternoon. Belgium’s regional parliaments are expected to endorse the text on Friday, paving the way for the deal to come into force on a temporary basis.
Expect to see higher drug prices, the end to the precautionary principle, the gutting of safety, employment, and environmental protections, and a growth in the most parasitic parts of the financial industry as a result.


Monty Python star Terry Jones has been diagnosed with a form of dementia called primary progressive aphasia, which attacks the ability to speak.

Damn, damn, damn.

Yes, Ask the Worst Administration on Privacy Ever to Help Us

The Mozilla Foundation is asking for the White House to coordinate efforts to prevent cyber attacks.

The Obama administration has been at the forefront of efforts to make computers less secure by requiring back doors in the software.

You don't want Barack Obama Evil Minions anywhere near commercial cyber security policy.

Hen house, meet fox.

Financial "Innovation" in a Nut Shell

Here we have Wall Street at its finest, cheating teachers out of their retirement:
Bradley Bergeron’s first professional job out of college was selling retirement savings investments to public schoolteachers in Connecticut. The applications he carried in his black leather briefcase, however, were for one type of product only: a high-priced variable annuity.

“From the teacher’s standpoint, they really miss out getting quality advice,” said Mr. Bergeron, 27, who sold the plans for Axa Advisors’ retirement benefits group. “People who are in the schools pitching them and positioning themselves as retirement specialists are really there just to sell them one product.”

Workers at private companies typically enroll in a 401(k) retirement plan approved by the employer, which is held responsible for the menu of investment options offered. But public school employees and people working for nonprofits and religious institutions are often exposed to brokers who operate in a more unruly marketplace under different rules, which are defined by a patchwork of state laws and less stringent securities regulations.


“Teachers are still being preyed upon by salespeople,” said Dan Otter, founder of the advocacy and educational site 403bwise.com, and a longtime teacher now working at the University of New Mexico. “The problem is their first experience with a 403(b) is in a sales environment.”


Brokers are trained to start by explaining how a teacher’s state pension works, how the tax-advantaged 403(b) operates and what sort of gap might have to be filled with savings to help maintain the teacher’s standard of living in retirement. Many — even those who later became disenchanted with their jobs — said they believed they were helping teachers save and realize their long-term goals.

Only after setting the stage does the broker introduce the main performer. For Axa’s brokers, that role is usually assigned to Axa’s Equi-Vest variable deferred annuity. It isn’t simple: To get the full rundown on how it works, people must sift through a document that is 460 pages long.

And it doesn’t come cheap. The most popular version of the Equi-Vest annuity has a total annual cost that can range from 1.81 to 2.63 percent, according to an analysis from Morningstar.

In contrast, large 401(k) plans usually charge an annual fee of less than half a percent of assets, according to a May report by BrightScope using 2013 data. Large, federally regulated 403(b) plans charge a bit more.

Then there is the surrender fee. An Equi-Vest annuity owner who wants to transfer savings into another 403(b) product or roll it over into an I.R.A., for example, would pay 5 percent to Axa on any of the withdrawal that was contributed in the previous six years.


Take an employee with a starting salary of $40,000 who saved 6 percent of her salary over a 40-year career. She would retire with about $175,000 when paying annual fees of 2 percent, assuming a 4 percent return after inflation, according to an analysis conducted by Vanguard. (The analysis also assumes that her salary rises 1 percent annually, also adjusted for inflation.)

But she would have 25 percent more, or a total of nearly $218,000, if fees had been 1 percent, and almost $260,000 if she paid 0.25 percent in fees.
As former S&L regulator and avenging angel Bill Black notes, pretty much all of the profits from the financial industry come from various flavors of fraud.

There needs to be hard fee limits on all forms of tax exempt investment vehicles.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?!?!?

How the F%$# did prosecutors manage to let the Malheur wildlife refuge occupiers get acquitted:
A jury has ruled that brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy were not guilty of conspiring against the government, a surprising end to the high-profile Oregon standoff trial that sparked national debates about public lands and the rights of ranchers in the American west.

The decision, unveiled in federal court in Portland on Thursday, is a blow to the US government, which had aggressively prosecuted the rightwing activists who led an armed takeover of public property to protest American land-use regulations.

The Bundy brothers, who orchestrated a 2 January takeover of the Malheur national wildlife refuge, were acquitted on Thursday on a number of serious charges, along with five other defendants. Only a day earlier the court dismissed a juror over fears of bias, raising concerns that the trial would drag on for weeks.


Prosecutors charged the Bundy brothers and 24 other defendants with conspiracy to impede officers through use of force, intimidation or threats, and some also faced additional charges of firearm possession and theft of public property.

Some of the defendants signed plea deals in hopes of getting shorter prison sentences, and a total of seven defendants have been on trial since September.

The defendants were acquitted on the conspiracy and firearm charges, though the jury could not come to an agreement on a property theft offense that faces Ryan.


A separate trial, involving Ammon, Ryan, Cliven and two other Bundy men, is planned for next year in Nevada on charges stemming from the 2014 standoff. Given the pending case, authorities refused to release Ammon in Oregon. When Mumford argued, he allegedly ended up in a scuffle with US marshals, resulting in his arrest.
I will repeat my question, "ow the f%$# did they lose this case?"

They were guilty as hell, they looted an Indian burial site, and they took firearms into a federal office.

I guess the law doesn't apply to white folks.

Be Still My Beating Heart………

Why am I not surprised that new allegations imply that Clarence Thomas's behavior towards women did not approve with his becoming a Supreme Court Justice:
The 25th anniversary of Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has featured testimonials from his supporters, a symposium on his jurisprudence and tributes from conservative legal scholars about his influence on the court.

But Thursday brought an unwelcome echo of the sexual harassment allegations that almost derailed his 1991 nomination: An Alaska lawyer told the National Law Journal that Thomas groped her at a dinner party in 1999, when she was a young Truman Foundation scholar in Washington.

Through a court spokeswoman, Thomas told the publication: “This claim is preposterous and it never happened.”

The woman, Moira Smith, said she decided to make the allegations not because of Thomas but because of Donald Trump. She posted the information on her Facebook page on Oct. 7, hours after the media disclosed that Trump had boasted on tape about grabbing women.

“When Justice Thomas touched me inappropriately and without my consent, I was 23 years old — and felt there was nothing I could do,” Smith said in a statement released Wednesday. “Seventeen years later, it is clear that sexual harassment, misconduct and assault continue to be pervasive, having an impact on all women. I choose to speak out now in the hope that this will change.”

Smith said she was helping her boss at the dinner party when the incident occurred. Guests contacted by the National Law Journal said they saw nothing untoward. Smith, who posed for a photo with the justice later that night, did not tell them Thomas had grabbed her buttocks.

But friends said Smith told them about the alleged groping that same night and the next morning, and they were not surprised when Smith again recounted the incident earlier this month.

“I don’t remember the specific timeline,” Amy Hertel Buckley, 39, another Truman scholar at the dinner that night, told The Washington Post. “But when I saw her Facebook post, it was instantly familiar to me. It’s been a long time, but she definitely told me about that after it happened.”

Marcia Coyle, the longtime Supreme Court reporter who wrote the story, said Smith did not come forward. Smith initially made her Facebook posting private so that only friends could see it, Coyle said. Smith made it public after friends told her she should.

A source told Coyle about the posting — Smith’s Facebook account has now been deactivated — and Coyle interviewed her and others who corroborated her account over a two-week period, according to the NLJ report.
We know that during his confirmation hearings, there was another women in addition to Anita Hill who was similarly harrassed, but she was never called to testify by the head of the Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden.

As such, it's no surprise that Thomas is a serial abuser.

If Clarence Thomas had any shame (Bush v. Gore shows that he doesn't) he would resign sooner rather than later, but shame, honesty, and integrity are simply not a part of his makeup.

Still, if we end up with a 7 member court as a result, it means a non-wingnut majority on SCOTUS, which would be a very good thing.

I can haz schadenfreude?

(on edit)

I added the last three paragraphs to the post, which make it clear that this was a private posting between friends that got leaked to the press.

26 October 2016

Food for Thought

I've come across an interesting study from the Council of Economic Advisors.

One of the effects of the increasing concentration in American business is that it creates a labor market monopsony which allows employers to push down wages:(PDF)

An excerpt:
There is also growing concern about an additional cause of inequity—a general reduction in competition among firms, shifting the balance of bargaining power towards employers (Furman and Orszag 2015). Such a shift could explain not only the redistribution of revenues from worker wages to managerial earnings and profits, but also the rising disparity in pay among workers with similar skills. These trends also have broader implications for the economy as a whole: instead of promoting growth, forces that undermine competition tend to reduce efficiency, and can lead to lower output, employment, and social welfare.

A growing literature has documented several indicators of declining competition in the United States, and economists have begun to explore the links between these trends and rising income inequality (Furman and Orzag 2015). While recent discussions have highlighted rising concentration among producers and monopoly pricing in sellers markets (The Economist 2016), reduced competition can also give employers power to dictate wages—so-called “monopsony” power in the labor market. While monopoly in product markets and monopsony in labor markets can be related and share some common causes, the latter has some distinct causes and policy implications.

This issue brief explains how monopsony, or wage-setting power, in the labor market can reduce wages, employment, and overall welfare, and describes various sources of monopsony power.1 It then reviews evidence suggesting that firms may have wage-setting power in a broad range of settings and describes several trends in recent decades consistent with a growing role for monopsony power in wage determination. It concludes with a discussion of several policy actions taken by the Obama Administration to help promote labor-market competition and ensure a level playing field for all workers.
Monopoly is when you have a single supplier. Monopsony is when you have a single buyer.

This is yet another case where the right wing monopoly theory fails: The damage from monopolies and economic concentration is not limited to higher consumer prices.

In fact this interpretation of modern antitrust law has been wrong from the very beginning.

Even a cursory examination of the creation of anti-monopoly laws clearly shows that the legislative intent was largely directed toward barriers to competitors entry into markets.

Of course, history, or truth, or public benefit, or basic integrity never mattered to Robert Bork and Evil Minions.

They developed the theory starting with the goal of increasing the power of the elites, and worked backwards.

Yet Another Reason to Oppose the AT&T/Time Warner Merger

It turns out that AT&T has created a warrant free smorgasbord privacy invasions while charging the taxpayer through the nose:

Hemisphere is a secretive program run by AT&T that searches trillions of call records and analyzes cellular data to determine where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why.

“Merritt was in a position to access the cellular telephone tower northeast of the McStay family gravesite on February 6th, 2010, two days after the family disappeared,” an affidavit for his girlfriend’s call records reports Hemisphere finding (PDF). Merritt was arrested almost a year to the date after the McStay family’s remains were discovered, and is awaiting trial for the murders.

In 2013, Hemisphere was revealed by The New York Times and described only within a Powerpoint presentation made by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Times described it as a “partnership” between AT&T and the U.S. government; the Justice Department said it was an essential, and prudently deployed, counter-narcotics tool.

However, AT&T’s own documentation—reported here by The Daily Beast for the first time—shows Hemisphere was used far beyond the war on drugs to include everything from investigations of homicide to Medicaid fraud.

Hemisphere isn’t a “partnership” but rather a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers. No warrant is required to make use of the company’s massive trove of data, according to AT&T documents, only a promise from law enforcement to not disclose Hemisphere if an investigation using it becomes public.


While telecommunications companies are legally obligated to hand over records, AT&T appears to have gone much further to make the enterprise profitable, according to ACLU technology policy analyst Christopher Soghoian.

“Companies have to give this data to law enforcement upon request, if they have it. AT&T doesn’t have to data-mine its database to help police come up with new numbers to investigate,” Soghoian said.

AT&T has a unique power to extract information from its metadata because it retains so much of it. The company owns more than three-quarters of U.S. landline switches, and the second largest share of the nation’s wireless infrastructure and cellphone towers, behind Verizon. AT&T retains its cell tower data going back to July 2008, longer than other providers. Verizon holds records for a year and Sprint for 18 months, according to a 2011 retention schedule obtained by The Daily Beast.

The disclosure of Hemisphere was not the first time AT&T has been caught working with law enforcement above and beyond what the law requires.


Once AT&T provides a lead through Hemisphere, then investigators use routine police work, like getting a court order for a wiretap or following a suspect around, to provide the same evidence for the purpose of prosecution. This is known as “parallel construction.”

“This document here is striking,” Schwartz told The Daily Beast. “I’ve seen documents produced by the government regarding Hemisphere, but this is the first time I’ve seen an AT&T document which requires parallel construction in a service to government. It’s very troubling and not the way law enforcement should work in this country.”


Sheriff and police departments pay from $100,000 to upward of $1 million a year or more for Hemisphere access. Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, made its inaugural payment to AT&T of $77,924 in 2007, according to a contract reviewed by The Daily Beast. Four years later, the county’s Hemisphere bill had increased more than tenfold to $940,000.
AT&T is profiteer in support of the modern surveillance state. 

Increasing the data that they can collect through mergers and acquisitions is not good for the rest of us.

25 October 2016

Why Trump, and Not an Anti Press Vendetta or Being a Literal Vampire?

As a result of his vociferous support of Donald Trump, people are refusing to do deals with organizations that Peter Thiel is associated with.

I find this odd, since Thiel has engaged on a nearly decade long secret vendetta against Gawker, and that he is aggressively working on plans to harvest the blood of young people to extend his own life. (That is literally vampirism)

The vendetta, and the blood lust are OK, but the Donald is a bit too far for Silicon Valley.

They have a very weird set of priorities in the immediate vicinity of Palo Alto:
The divisions over Peter Thiel and his support for Donald Trump are deepening in Silicon Valley.

Dismay over the billionaire venture capitalist’s stance on the Republican candidate has been showing up all across the technology landscape -- from a startup founder saying he regrets taking a Trump backer’s money to a prominent diversity group refusing to work with any company associated with Thiel. In one recent case, it also throttled the flow of cash into a fledgling VC fund.

Arlan Hamilton, managing partner at Backstage Capital, said she rejected a potential investor because the person refused to disavow and sever ties with Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir Technologies Inc. She declined to name the investor, saying the person offered to put $500,000 in her Los Angeles-based technology seed fund.
Thiel has been "Morally Problematic" since his days at Stanford, when he got his start as a venture capitalist by gay bashing and outing fellow students and faculty.

The fact that he is finally getting shunned, after a lifetime of being a truly awful human being, (He's also belittled rape victims in the past) mitigates against to the conceit in Silicon Valley that they should be viewed as moral avatars.


Photo: Natalie J. Saroff
We have a colony of feral cats that hang out behind our house in an wild corner of a neighbor's yard.

Today, I came home, and a kitten darted out in front of me, and I caught it.

We now have to decide what to do with the cat.

We already have 2½ cats (2 cats plus an adult feral cat that is in the house), so adding a kitten to the mix might not be fair to the existing cats, my family, and the kitten.

Family discussion time.

Still, he is a seriously cute dude.

If anyone reasonably close to Owings Mills, Maryland wants a kitten, Email Me.

Wheels Within Wheels on the Russian Hack of the DNC

The Headers in Question
If you are following the hack of the DNC and various Clinton campaign staffers, you are aware that the hackers engaged in "Spearfishing", a targeted email that is intended to trick the user out of their passwords.

The emails come from Yanex, the Russian equivalent of Google and GMail, which would seem to point to a Russian source, only the headers show that the origin is from Yanex.com, not Yanex.ru, using the RUNET proxy which means that they were sent from the English language portion of the site:

On March 22, 2016 William “Billy” Rhinehart, a regional field director at the Democratic National Committee, received an email from Google warning him that someone tried to access his account and that he should immediately change his password. He complied.

Unfortunately for Mr. Rhinehart, it wasn’t Google who sent him that email. He, along with many others, were a victim of Threat Group 4127 — the SecureWorks designation for Fancy Bear (CrowdStrike), APT28 (FireEye), and Sofacy (Kaspersky Lab). Secureworks assesses that TG 4127 “is operating from the Russian Federation and is gathering intelligence on behalf of the Russian government.

Thanks to a bizarre twist involving Guccifer 2.0’s solicitation of a journalist at The Smoking Gun (TSG) to write about the DCLeaks emails in exchange for giving TSG an early look at some of the stolen documents, TSG was able to obtain the original spear phishing email directly from Billy Rhinehart and shared it with ThreatConnect, who posted this screenshot of the email’s headers and identified the actual sender of the email: hi.mymail@yandex.com.


How Do I Get A Yandex.com Email Address on RUNET?

Now let’s say that you don’t want a @yandex.ru email. You want a @yandex.com email. So you type https://yandex.com into your browser and …, no joy. It resolves back to https://yandex.ru/

For some reason, RUNET is set up to send you to the .ru domain of whatever website you type into your address bar. Besides Yandex, I tried going to Google.com and was sent to Google.ru. I typed Intel.com and was sent to Intel.ru.

So how does our presumed Russian intelligence operative get his Yandex.com email address? He has to click on the Yandex.com link from the Yandex.ru homepage (highlighted below).


The point that I’m trying to make is that if anyone in Russia wanted to spear phish employees of the DNC, then creating a @yandex.com email address instead of a @yandex.ru email address is not only unnecessary extra effort but it makes absolutely no sense. You don’t gain anything operationally. You’ve used Yandex. You might as well paint a big red R on your forehead.

However, you know what does make sense?

That the person who opened the account DOESN’T SPEAK RUSSIAN!

He went with Yandex.com because all analysis stops with merely the name of a Russian company, a Russian IP address, or a Russian-made piece of malware. To even argue that a Russian intelligence officer let alone a paranoid Russian mercenary hacker would prefer a Yandex.com email to a Yandex.ru email is mind-numbingly batsh%$ insane.
(emphasis original, %$ mine)

This does not prove that the Russians, or that SOME Russians weren't behind this, but it does imply that whoever did this might not have been a Russian speaker.

Or it could be an attempt to create the illusion that the sender of the emails was trying to frame the Russians, or maybe the Russians were employing some non-Russian speakers, or maybe ………

I'll stop here. I'm getting a headache.

Quote of the Day

Therefore, it can be seen that as the person quoted underlined above asserted, the CIA is essentially a "Self Licking Ice Cream Cone." (SLICC).
W. Patrick Lang, on how the CIA's intelligence analysis is now driven by the demands of the operations wing of the agency to justify their proposed actions.

24 October 2016

Musing on Whiskey

During the third and final debate on Wednesday, I played a debate drinking game.

I was drinking a VERY cheap, though not awful, Scotch whiskey, Inver House Green Plaid.

Tonight while celebrating Simchat Torah, I drank another Scotch whiskey, Glenlivet.

The latter is a more expensive, and much better, spirit.

Each whiskey was appropriate to its use, Glenlivet is a high quality product which is appropriate for celebrating Torah, being far less harsh, and possessing far more subtlety and nuance.

Using it to help me cope with hearing Donald Trump, Chris Wallace, and Hillary Clinton would be an affront to the efforts of the distiller.

By the same token, drinking Inver House Green Plaid at a Simchat Torah celebration would be an affront to God, but out is perfectly suited to the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard experience of the Presidential debates.

Each was eminently well suited to the role that they played.

Posted via mobile.

23 October 2016


Have a very 80s video of Roger Hodgson's 80's hit Sleeping with the Enemy (From the former Supertramp lead vocalist's first solo album):

22 October 2016

This is Some Quality Trolling

In an apparent move to embarrass the United States over Donald Trump's claims of a "rigged" presidential election, Russia sought to send monitors to U.S. polling stations for the Nov. 8 vote, Russian media revealed Thursday.

The bid was sharply rebuffed by the State Department, and one state election official threatened criminal action if Russian monitors showed up, according to state-controlled Izvestia daily and broadcaster RT.

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner called the Russian effort a "PR stunt" and denied that the United States blocked Russian diplomats from observing the election.

A spokeswoman for Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who received a request to allow Russian monitors, called it a "propaganda ploy."

"We've allowed observers from overseas in the past from other countries, never from Russia," Meg Casper said. She added that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security also "told us not to do this."
This is world class trolling, as evidenced by the stupid and self destructive response from the State Department.

The best trolls say something that seems eminently reasonable that triggers a conflict and makes the targets look like complete stooges.

Well played, Vladimir.

21 October 2016

I Think That This Is a Test Run

A major internet infrastructure and DNS provider, Dyn, was briefly taken down by a massive DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack:
Criminals this morning massively attacked Dyn, a company that provides core Internet services for Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, Reddit and a host of other sites, causing outages and slowness for many of Dyn’s customers.

In a statement, Dyn said that this morning, October 21, Dyn received a global distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on its DNS infrastructure on the east coast starting at around 7:10 a.m. ET (11:10 UTC).

“DNS traffic resolved from east coast name server locations are experiencing a service interruption during this time. Updates will be posted as information becomes available,” the company wrote.

DYN encouraged customers with concerns to check the company’s status page for updates and to reach out to its technical support team.


The attack on DYN comes just hours after DYN researcher Doug Madory presented a talk on DDoS attacks in Dallas, Texas at a meeting of the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG). Madory’s talk — available here on Youtube.com — delved deeper into research that he and I teamed up on to produce the data behind the story DDoS Mitigation Firm Has History of Hijacks.

That story (as well as one published earlier this week, Spreading the DDoS Disease and Selling the Cure) examined the sometimes blurry lines between certain DDoS mitigation firms and the cybercriminals apparently involved in launching some of the largest DDoS attacks the Internet has ever seen. Indeed, the record 620 Gbps DDoS against KrebsOnSecurity.com came just hours after I published the story on which Madory and I collaborated.

The record-sized attack that hit my site last month was quickly superseded by a DDoS against OVH, a French hosting firm that reported being targeted by a DDoS that was roughly twice the size of the assault on KrebsOnSecurity. As I noted in The Democratization of Censorship — the first story published after bringing my site back up under the protection of Google’s Project Shield — DDoS mitigation firms simply did not count on the size of these attacks increasing so quickly overnight, and are now scrambling to secure far greater capacity to handle much larger attacks concurrently.
I'm not sure if the miscreants intend to mess with the election, or the holiday shopping season, but this could get really ugly really fast.

Google Goes to the Dark Side

The firm that used to have the motto, "Don't be evil," has just decided to renege on their promise not to use personally identifiable tracking:
When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.”

And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick’s massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts.

But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand – literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default. In its place, Google substituted new language that says browsing habits “may be” combined with what the company learns from the use Gmail and other tools.

The practical result of the change is that the DoubleClick ads that follow people around on the web may now be customized to them based on your name and other information Google knows about you. It also means that Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct.
The magic of the market will not fix this ……… ever.

Christie Knew About Bridgegate While it Was Being Planned.

Bridget Anne Kelly just testified that she notified Governor Chris Christie at every step about the lane shutdowns on the GW bridge, though she claims that she actually thought that it was a legitimate traffic study:
In an emotional day of testimony, Bridget Anne Kelly refuted the charges against her in the Bridgegate scandal, telling a jury she told Gov. Chris Christie in advance about the plan to close toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge in 2013, and had gotten his approval for what she thought was a legitimate traffic study.

She denied ever having any knowledge of the bizarre scheme of political retaliation alleged by federal prosecutors.

And she asserted that other higher-ups in the governor's inner circle were all well-aware of what was going on in Fort Lee, long before it played out, and that no one seemed that concerned about it.

"It just wasn't a big deal," she said.


Wildstein said he thought after initial traffic jams in Fort Lee, drivers would adapt and that Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would ultimately be able to take credit for quicker access into New York, Kelly testified.

But first, Wildstein wanted Kelly to talk to the governor, which she did, she testified.

"I said, governor, by the way, I spoke to Wildstein about ... the Port Authority doing a traffic study," Kelly said.

"He said, 'OK, why are we doing this?'" Kelly recalled of Christie's reaction.

After she explained, the governor, at first, didn't "really react."

Then he said he was fine with it. "Typical Wally," she said he remarked, referring to Wildstein's pen name as an anonymous political blogger when he wrote under the name of Wally Edge.

Kelly said the governor told her to run it by O'Dowd.

Within "a few hours," Kelly texted O'Dowd asking for time to talk to him, she said. "I told him that I had spoken to the governor," Kelly recalled.

O'Dowd didn't have any objections, she said.

But the governor did have one question, Kelly said. He wanted to know about the status of his office's relationship with Sokolich.
This makes three witnesses, the 3rd is Mike DuHaime, who have testified that Christie knew about this in advance, and unlike Wildstein and Kelly, he has not cut a deal and is not on trial.

Methinks (me hopes?) that Jabba the Governor is going to jail.

Their Customer Service Will Make Comcast Look Like Tesla

AT&T is looking to by Time Warner cable:
AT&T Inc. is close to an agreement to acquire Time Warner Inc. for about $86 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said, a deal that would create a media behemoth that offers TV, wireless, and the content that goes with it.

The bid values Time Warner at about $110 a share -- 23 percent more than where the stock closed Friday -- and is structured as an even split between cash and equity, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. If accepted, it would cement the biggest acquisition of the year, surpassing Bayer AG’s $66 billion takeover of U.S. seed giant Monsanto Co., announced in May.

Buying Time Warner would give AT&T premium entertainment programming including HBO and the Cartoon Network, which it could offer its millions of pay-TV, mobile phone and Internet subscribers. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has been trying to transform the Dallas-based phone company into a media and entertainment giant, and now has one of Hollywood’s top film and TV producers in his cross-hairs.
What do you get when you juxtapose the customer service cultures of the artist formerly known as Ma Bell with what was formerly the 2nd worst cable company in America?

I think that it would be fair to call this merged company the Donald Trump of communications.

20 October 2016

Tom Daschle Would Suck off a Corpse for a Cheeseburger

Tom Daschle, who never left Washington, DC after losing his bid for reelection in 2004, and has become a lobbying hired gun, and as Matt Taibbi noted in the above hed, has no shame.

Case in point, lobbying Hillary Clinton while refusing to register as a lobbyist:
Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle pushed Hillary Clinton’s top aides to consider supporting a massive health insurance merger for one of his clients — even though at the time he was not registered to be a company lobbyist.

Daschle registered to be a lobbyist for Aetna in February of 2016, which subjected him to disclosure and ethics regulations. However, an email released Thursday by Wikileaks shows Daschle pressing the company’s agenda with political power players in October 2015.

“I wanted to reach out in reference to Hillary’s statements today regarding the insurance mergers,” Daschle wrote to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta on the day Clinton publicly raised questions about the merger. “I certainly understand her concerns over the pending deals. I’ve been working with Aetna on ACA [Affordable Care Act] involvement for the past several years. That has led to other health related matters including the merger. Their team has what they view to be compelling arguments around the benefits of the Humana merger and why it will be beneficial for consumers.”

Then Daschle said: “Would you and your team be willing to have a conversation with them?”

Clinton's campaign ultimately declared its support for a Justice Department lawsuit aimed at blocking the merger.

In 2015, a joint study by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation spotlighted how many former members of Congress appear to be circumventing ethics rules by working in government relations on behalf of corporate clients, but not registering as lobbyists.

Daschle's wife — a former federal aviation regulator-turned-airline lobbyist — opened her own lobbying firm in 2008.
This isn't just an ethics issue.  It's what I call back loaded bribery, and it is a cancer on the American body politic.

I Want to Move to Iceland, Part XLII

In Iceland, the Pirate Party is leading the polls, and they have announced that they will not be in coalition with either of the current ruling parties:
Iceland’s Pirate Party (‘Píratar’) has issued an up-front refusal to work with either of the two current governing parties after the next elections – in a move unprecedented in Icelandic political history.

“These early elections have come about as a result of the corruption revealed to the world by the Panama Papers,” explains Pirate MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir. “Five ministers have been exposed as corrupt since the current government took power.”

“In some of the biggest protests in Icelandic history, the public expressed their desire for change,” she says.

In a press conference yesterday, the Pirates ruled out any possibility of entering a coalition with either of the current two governing parties, the centre-right Independence Party (‘Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn’) and the centrist Progressive Party (‘Framsóknarflokkurinn’).

Instead, the Pirates have sent a letter to a leaders of the three other opposition parties currently with MPs in the Icelandic Parliament (‘Alþingi’) and to the brand-new Regeneration (‘Viðreisn’) party, inviting them to pre-election coalition talks.
The may be aided in their goal by a surge in the polls by the Green Party:
A brand-new opinion poll now gives Iceland’s Left-Green party (‘Vinstrihreyfingin – Grænt framboð’) a 19.2% share of the vote – four points higher than in the previous similar poll.

The latest survey, conducted by Icelandic daily Fréttablaðið (link in Icelandic) and dated 17-18 October, puts the Left-Greens hot on the heels of the second-place Pirate Party (‘Píratar’).
Iceland is perhaps is the only nation on earth that has actually experienced meaningful and positive political change as a result of the financial crisis, as opposed to the rest of the world, which has given us, Nigel Farage, Marine le Pen, Gert Wilders, Frauke Petry, Donald Trump, and those of a similar ilk.

New Jersey is a Strange Place

Chris Christie finally has a criminal summons filed against him.

It wasn't a prosecutor who did this, it was a retired fire-fighter who took this to court:
A New Jersey firefighter succeeded where federal prosecutors failed: He brought criminal charges against Gov. Chris Christie in the Bridgegate scandal.

A Bergen County courtroom echoed with cheers after Judge Roy McGeady signed off Thursday on the criminal summons presented by retired smoke-eater William Brennan.

Brennan and lawyers for the governor are due back in court Oct. 24 over Christie’s alleged role in the vindictive George Washington Bridge lane closures.

“Now he’s defendant Chris Christie,” said Brennan, a former Teaneck firefighter. “He did exactly what is charged, and I have the evidence to prove it.”

McGeady found probable cause to proceed on the complaint from Brennan, who claims Christie knew about the shutdown — and did nothing to reopen the bridge.


The criminal complaint described the politically motivated gridlock as an “intentional evil-minded act taken by public officials acting on the authorities vested in them by the office of governor.”
It's not a surprise that it wasn't a DA who did this:  Chris Christie appoints them all.

They work for him.

Yet another thing that needs to be fixed in New Jersey government.

The 3rd Worst Job on Earth

Tasmanian Devil Milker:
Milk from Tasmanian devils could offer up a useful weapon against antibiotic-resistant superbugs, according to Australian researchers.

The marsupial's milk contains important peptides that appear to be able to kill hard-to-treat infections, including MRSA, say the Sydney University team.

Experts believe devils evolved this cocktail to help their young grow stronger.

The scientists are looking to make new treatments that mimic the peptides.

They have scanned the devil's genetic code to find and recreate the infection-fighting compounds, called cathelicidins.
Milking a Tasmanian Devil is not high on my list of career options.

Tweet of the day

I didn't watch the whole debate, and what I did watch was influenced by copious quantities of alcohol, but my impression was rather similar.

Remember, It's All About Artist

Harry Shearer has launched a $125 million fraud and contract-breach lawsuit against Vivendi and StudioCanal over the 1984 rockumentary classic This Is Spinal Tap. The complaint, filed Monday in California federal court, is packed with enough nuggets to instantly make this a must-watch "Hollywood accounting" case. Through the lawsuit, Shearer also reveals he is attempting to claw back rights to the film and its continually popular soundtrack.

Shearer, perhaps best known for the 23 characters he voices on The Simpsons, co-created the semi-fake band Spinal Tap in the 1970s with Christopher Guest and Michael McKean. The film, directed by Rob Reiner and featuring Shearer as bassist Derek Smalls, was produced and released by Embassy Pictures. After a series of transactions, rights to Spinal Tap landed in the hands of Vivendi, the French conglomerate that once had the ambitious goal of becoming one of the largest studios in the industry.

Despite the film's legacy and Spinal Tap's enduring success as an actual band able to sell out arenas, Shearer's company Century of Progress Productions alleges that the four lead creatives have received just $81 in merchandising income and $98 in musical sales income in the past three decades from the franchise.

According to the complaint, the original 1982 production agreement called for Shearer, McKean, Guest and Reiner to get 40 percent of net receipts. In Hollywood, though, calculating contingent profit participation often triggers disputes that go up to 11. This one certainly did.


"Particularly given that Vivendi has offset fraudulent accounting for revenues from music copyrights against equally dubious revenue streams for film and merchandising rights also controlled by Vivendi subsidiaries, Shearer is concurrently filing notices of copyright termination for publishing and recording rights in Spinal Tap songs he co-wrote and co-recorded, as well as in the film itself," states the complaint.
$179 after more than 30 years?

Clearly people downloading from the internet are responsible for this.

Quote of the Day

Anyone who believes the United States is not fighting enough wars in the Middle East can be happy this week. We have just plunged into another one. Twice in recent days, cruise missiles fired from an American destroyer have rained down on Yemen. The Pentagon, a practiced master of Orwellian language, calls this bombing “limited self-defense.”
Stephen Kinzer

19 October 2016

That Which is Seen Cannot Be Unseen

Remember those satirical naked statues of Donald Trump?

Someone has done this for Hillary Clinton:
A statue of a cloven-hoofed and naked Hillary Clinton barely lasted an hour in lower Manhattan Tuesday before a furious supporter pounced on it and called cops — a lifetime compared to the mock Donald Trump that drew laughing crowds to Union Square in August.
 I want to go live in a cave.


One of the subtexts of the charter school movement is that it has the destruction of the public teachers' unions as a goal.

They have created a no-accountability zone to do this, and many of the charter schools have used it as an excuse to be abusive employers.

What can charter school teachers do? Join a union?

Actually, yes they can, and they can go on strike too:
When the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) struck in 2012, then-CEO of the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) Juan Rangel took the opportunity to sing the praises of the city’s charter schools, which remained open as CTU members walked the picket lines.

"I think parents are going to be frustrated when they see 50,000 kids (charter students) having an education, going to school without interruption and their kids” are not, Rangel told the Chicago Tribune.

Four years later, the tables have turned. An eleventh-hour agreement between the CTU and the school district headed off a second strike in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) last week. But there’s another teacher walkout still brewing—this time, at the UNO Charter School Network (UCSN), a group of 15 publicly-funded, privately-managed schools established by Rangel’s organization, from which he resigned in 2013. For the past seven months, UCSN teachers have been in a tough contract fight with management. If no agreement is reached this week, teachers plan to strike starting this Wednesday.
Oh, snap!