15 October 2018

Linkage


I really do hope that the kids are alright:

Typical

Rule 1 of the FCC these days is that Ajit Pai lies.

Rule 2 is see rule 1:
As the FCC gears up for legal battle against the numerous net neutrality lawsuits headed its way, its latest filing with the courts acts as a sort of a greatest hits of the agency's biggest fallacies to date. 23 State AGs have sued the FCC, stating last fall's repeal of net neutrality ignored the law, ignored standard FCC procedure, and ignored the public interest. The FCC’s new filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals (pdf) for the District of Columbia Circuit declares these concerns "meritless," despite indisputible evidence that the FCC effectively based its repeal largely on lobbyist nonsense.

At the heart of the matter sits the Administrative Procedures Act, which mandates that a regulator can't just make a severe, abrupt reversal in policy without documenting solid reasons why. The FCC has some legal leeway to change its mind on policy, but as we've long noted, the FCC's justification for its repeal (that net neutrality was somehow stifling broadband investment) has been proven false. Not just by SEC filings and earnings reports, but by the CEOs themselves, publicly, to investors (who by law, unlike you, they can't lie to).

Unsurprisingly then, the FCC's brief leans heavily on the Supreme Court's 2005 Brand X ruling, which states the FCC has some leeway to shift policy course at its discretion if it has the data to back it up. Also unsurprisingly, the brief goes well out of its way to pretend that ignoring the experts, ignoring the public, and demolishing consumer protections purely at Comcast, Verizon and AT&T's behest is reasonable, adult policy making. And again, the false claim that net neutrality harmed "innovation, investment and broadband deployment" takes center stage:

………

Of course the press has noted time and time and time again how these claims of a net neutrality-induced investment apocalypse are absolutely false. Ajit Pai has similarly gone before Congress repeatedly and falsely made the claim anyway, with absolutely zero repercussions thus far. The FCC's claims that its rules embrace transparency are equally hollow, given the agency's replacement transparency provisions are entirely voluntary. And the idea that "market forces" can fix the broken and uncompetitive broadband industry should be laughable to anybody that's experienced Comcast customer service.

………

Meanwhile, there should also be some interesting sideshows during this looming legal battle, including discussions of why the FCC made up a DDOS attack, and ignored comment fraud and identity theft during the public comment process, both part of a pretty obvious effort on the FCC's part to downplay the massive, bipartisan public opposition to what the FCC was doing. This is a story about corruption, misinformation, and ignoring the public welfare to the benefit of widely despised telecom monopolies. The FCC, in contrast, desperately wants the courts to believe this was all just adult policy making as usual.
People like Ajit Pai are deeply and profoundly corrupt, and they keep coming back because there is no meaningful investigation of their corrupt acts.

The next Democratic administration should spend some time looking back and throwing malefactors in jail.

14 October 2018

This Does Not Sound Like Progress


Tennessee Ernie Ford says it all
Elon Musk's latest "disruptive innovation" is to return to the days of the company town and the company store, where if you lose your job, they kick you out of your house:
Tesla's Nevada-based Gigafactory could be undergoing a massive expansion which has the potential to include on-site accommodations for employees, reports the Las Vegas Review Journal. In a recent conversation with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval at the state's first annual technology summit, CEO Elon Musk discussed the automaker's plans to hire more than 20,000 new workers for its manufacturing facility.

Currently, the manufacturing facility, coined Gigafactory 1, employs around 7,000 workers and produces the bulk of battery cells and packs found in Tesla vehicles. Despite producing an annual energy storage capacity output of 20 GWh, Tesla has acknowledged the need for batteries is virtually insatiable in order to meet the increasing demand for electric vehicles.

………

“The biggest constraint on growth here is housing and infrastructure." said Musk according to the Review, "We’re looking at creating a housing compound on site at the Gigafactory, using kind of high-quality mobile homes."
So, you live in a company town, and if you try to unionize, you get tossed out, and end up homeless, and your kid is kicked out of the company school, etc., just like in the 1890s.

Why does the Silicon Valley model of "Innovation" sound so much like the worst excess of the Gilded Age?

Useless

Chuck Schumer and his merry band of cowards just con firmec 15 Federalist Society Judge pukes because they did not want to wait to hit the campaign trail:
Senate Democrats accepted an offer Thursday from Senate Republicans to confirm 15 lifetime federal judges in exchange for the ability to go into recess through the midterms, allowing endangered Democrats to campaign.

The calculation by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his caucus was simple: That Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be able to confirm roughly 15 judges if he kept the Senate in session for the next few weeks anyway. So Democrats OK’d an offer to confirm three Circuit Court judges and 12 Circuit Court judges as the price to pay to go home for election season.

Under Senate rules, even if Democrats fought the nominees tooth and nail and forced the Senate to burn 30 hours of debate between each one, McConnell would have gotten them all confirmed by Nov. 1. Democrats could have conceivably left a skeleton crew of senators in Washington to force the GOP to take roll call votes on the judges over the next few weeks, although that tactic is not typically employed by the minority.

Some liberal activists are urging Democrats to show more fight after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court; Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos even said that Democrats “need a new Senate leader” after the agreement was struck. But senators had to weigh that dynamic along with the approaching midterms and the brutal Senate map. And with a half-dozen Democrats facing serious challenges in Senate races, it made more sense to make what Democrats said was a reasonable deal with McConnell so that they could make a serious run at saving endangered senators.
No, it was not a reasonable deal.

Once again, the Democrats have sacrificed their integrity at the altar of careerism and incumbent protection.

More importantly, they have made it even clearer that voting for them will have no meaningful impact.

The lesser of two evils is still evil.

13 October 2018

This is Seriously Cyberpunk, in a Seriously Dystopian Way

Next year, Amy Winehouse will conduct a worldwide tour, despite having died more than 7 years ago.

Dead celebrities touring as computer generated simulacrums really does sound like something straight out of William Gibson's darkest visions:
A hologram of Amy Winehouse is set for a worldwide tour in 2019. A projection of the late singer will “perform” digitally remastered arrangements of her songs, backed by a live band, singers and what the production company Base Hologram calls “theatrical stagecraft”.

Winehouse’s father, Mitch, described the endeavour as a dream. “To see her perform again is something special that really can’t be put into words,” he said. “Our daughter’s music touched the lives of millions of people and it means everything that her legacy will continue in this innovative and groundbreaking way.”

Mitch Winehouse said the tour will raise money and awareness for the Amy Winehouse Foundation. The charity educates young people about drug and alcohol misuse, provides support for those at risk and supports the development of disadvantaged young people through music.

The show is expected to last 75 to 110 minutes.
This is profoundly creepy.

Tweets that Make You Go Hmmmmm


You know, the fact that we are effectively allied with ISIS might be a small indicator that our policies in Syria are not in the national interest.

H/t naked capitalism.

They Live



I was reading an article on the Financial Times, and I saw this picture. The thing was, my laptop was at the wrong angle, so it looked more like this. (It's happened to all of us)



Does it evoke anything?



To quote "They Live", "We could be pets, we could be food, but all we really are is livestock."

So, 8 Credit Unions, and No Commercial Banks

The 8th credit union of the year, the Radio, Television and Communication Federal Credit Union ​of Staten Island, ​NY was closed down this week.

I think that I may have to rename "Bank Failure Friday" to "Credit Union Friday." Tthe "Friday" bit might be a bit much too)

I do not know why there have been so many more credit unions failures this year.

There are about the same number of banks and credit unions, but only credit unions are closing.

I'm wondering if there some regulatory forbearance that is causing this, and if so, how will this manifest itself when the next crash hits.

Here is the Full NCUA list.

12 October 2018

These Folks Need to be in Jail

Not just Rahm Emanuel, but the aldermen that he bribed as well:
Four seconds. That’s all the time it took for item number Or2015-204 to pass the Chicago City Council on April 15, 2015. It was a proposed settlement to pay Tina Hunter, the mother of Laquan McDonald, a $5 million legal settlement after Officer Jason Van Dyke shot him 16 times on October 20, 2014.

Eight days before on April 7, 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel crushed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the city’s first ever mayoral run-off. He needed another big victory, and he got it.

But the real prize was the silence of a group of Black aldermen who along with 39 aldermen, approved the $5 million settlement more than a month after they received nearly $300,000 in campaign donations from Emanuel as he battled Garcia during the runoff. The Crusader has learned that these aldermen kept the money and stayed silent about it even after the video of McDonald’s brutal killing emerged, sowing distrust in the mayor, the police department and the Cook County States’ Attorney office. Now, the spotlight turns on a group of aldermen who have their own code of silence.

For the next several years after the $5 million settlement, they would give the mayor his money’s worth. They would stand by Emanuel as he weathered a storm that he tried to ride out until he announced on September 4, 2018 that he would not seek re-election.

Until the very end of Emanuel’s final term in office, these aldermen would say nothing negative about him or about questionable hefty donations that have made the Black aldermen the “Silent 8” at City Hall.

According to a Crusader investigation, there are actually nine aldermen who took money from the mayor before the $5 million settlement, but eight of them are Black. They are Anthony Beale (9th Ward), Carrie Austin (34th Ward), Michelle Harris (8th Ward), Walter Burnett, Jr. (27th Ward), Emma Mitts (37th Ward), Willie Cochran (20th Ward), Pat Dowell (3rd Ward), and Howard Brookins, Jr. (21st Ward). The only non-Black alderman who took campaign donations from the mayor is Patrick O’Connor (40th Ward), campaign records show.

For the last three years, Chicago’s Black aldermen have struggled along with Emanuel to regain the trust of their constituents. But unlike Emanuel, many are seeking re-election. In order to win another term, they must answer to an angry Black electorate that is having a hard time believing that they knew nothing about a case that happened right under their noses as it went through City Hall.
Rahm Emanuel might be the most contemptible "Democrat" in politics today, and unlike William Magear "Boss" Tweed, who created Central Park, funded social welfare programs, and he didn't actually do anything for the ordinary people of in his city.

What About Her Husband?

Sara Netanyahu, Benyamin's wife, is going on trial for fraudulently getting meal reimbursements:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, appeared in court on Sunday for the first hearing in the fraud trial against her, in which she is alleged to have misused state funds in ordering catered meals.

According to the indictment, Sara Netanyahu, along with a government employee, fraudulently obtained from the state more than $100,000 for hundreds of meals supplied by restaurants, bypassing regulations that prohibit the practice if a cook is employed at home.

………

She was charged in June with fraud and breach of trust and of aggravated fraudulent receipt of goods. If convicted, Sara Netanyahu could face up to five years in prison.
She had a state supplied cook but was still charging hundreds of thousands of dollars to restaurants, and Bibi had a budget for ice cream that boggles the mind, at least until it became public.

My guess is that the food was either resold, or never delivered, and kickbacks were received instead.

I am kind of hoping that Sara flips on her husband, but I'm not holding my breath.

11 October 2018

Bankers’ Liability and Risk Taking | naked capitalism

Some economists did a study regarding changes in liability and risk taking by bankers, and looking at a historical changes in regulations to determined that when bankers are not allowed to hide behind corporate bankruptcy, they are less likely to take stupid risks:
In order to protect the financial system from excessive risk-taking, many argue that bank managers need to have more personal liability. However, whether the liability of bank managers has a significant effect on risk-taking is an open question. This column studies a unique historical episode in which similar bankers, operating in similar institutional and economic environments, faced different degrees of personal liability, depending on the timing of their marriages, and finds that limited liability induced bankers to take more risks.

………

This raises the question of whether bank managers’ incentives are set appropriately to protect the financial system from excessive risk-taking. Managers can cash in on a bank’s profits when things are going well, but they shoulder minimal losses if the bank fails (Bhagat and Bolton 2014). This limited liability may encourage them to take undue risks with depositors’ money. There is a growing chorus of commentators arguing that the financial system will only be safe if bank managers have more personal liability (e.g. Kay 2015, Cohan 2017).

Whether the liability of bank managers has a significant effect on risk-taking is an open question. Bank managers care about their reputations and future careers; so, they might try to avoid the failure of their bank at any cost. Other stakeholders, such as uninsured creditors, may be able to force banks to reduce risk-taking (Calomiris and Kahn 1991, Diamond and Rajan 2000). To make their case, proponents of increased personal liability often point to what happened to investment banks over the last few decades. Before the 1980s, investment banks operated as partnerships with unlimited liability. During the 1980s, they went public. Anecdotally, this seems to have gone hand in hand with increased risk taking. However, this coincided with a period of general financial deregulation. So, how do we know what caused investment banks to take more risk?

In recent work (Koudijs et al. 2018), we study a unique historical episode in which similar bankers, operating in similar institutional and economic environments, faced different degrees of personal liability, depending on the timing of their marriages. Our findings suggest that limited liability really matters for bank risk-taking.
What they looked at was the effects of the passage of Married Women’s Property Acts (MWPAs) in the early 1800s on banker risk taking.

MPWAs changed property law to allow women to hold their own assets, and when women held their own assets, a bank president wife's assets were not subject to liability from a bank failure, while his assets were subject to recovery from account holders.

Because these were state laws, and the laws were passed at different times, we can compare and contrast the behaviors:
We collect data on the activities of New England national banks during the 1860s and 1870s, as well as information about bank presidents’ marriage histories. This allows us to classify bankers as ‘protected’ (i.e. married after a MWPA was passed in his state) or ‘unprotected’. We then compare the risk-taking behaviour of protected and unprotected bankers.

A key measure of bank risk-taking is leverage. We define this as loans and securities - inherently risky investments made by the bank – relative to capital invested in the bank by shareholders. A bank that extends more loans relative to capital is more likely to suffer losses that render it unable to pay back depositors.

As it turns out, bankers with less personal liability managed more highly levered banks. More precisely, a bank’s ratio of loans and securities to capital was 7 to 10 percentage points higher if its president was married after a MWPA. This does not reflect underlying differences between protected and unprotected bankers (such as age), or the characteristics of counties or towns that they live in. It also does not reflect characteristics of the banks themselves – when an individual bank switches from having an unprotected president to a protected president (through turnover, or a change in the president’s marital status), leverage increases in that bank.

Not surprisingly, the impact of a president’s protection status is contingent on the relative wealth of his wife. Figure 1 plots the difference in leverage between banks with protected and unprotected presidents with different intra-household allocations of property (inferred from the ratio of the wife’s family wealth to the husband’s family wealth). Being married after a MWPA only increases leverage for bankers whose wives own a sufficiently large share of the household’s property.

Figure 1 The effect of limited liability on bank leverage
It is also noted that during financial panics, the more conservative bankers institutions performed better, so the threat of personal consequences produced better behavior.

Eddie Murphy said in Trading Places, "You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people.

H/t naked capitalism.

This is a Wicked Bad Day at the Office

I am not sure what a good day at the office is like in Kazakhstan, but I am pretty sure that it does not involve the rocket that you are riding on blowing up:
A Soyuz capsule carrying a U.S. astronaut and Russian cosmonaut completed an emergency landing in Russia on Oct. 11 about 40 min. after the first ballistic abort in the history of the International Space Station (ISS) program.

First reports indicate astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are in “good condition” and in contact with search-and-rescue teams sent to recover them, NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said.

The booster anomaly was identified about 3 min., 15 sec. after liftoff at 4:40 a.m. Eastern time, triggering a ballistic re-entry of the capsule and subjecting the crew to higher-than-normal G forces.

“It is a known mode of descent that crewmembers have gone through before,” Dean said.

The booster anomaly has not been identified or described.

………

Soyuz used its launch abort system for the first time in September 1983 after a Soyuz T rocket caught fire on the launch pad seconds before liftoff. The capsule’s launch escape system pulled the crew away from the rocket seconds before the vehicle exploded.
The narration in the video below is not completely accurate. It's someone (probably) in Houston reading from a script.

What is notable is that the "Koralev Cross" which occurs on booster separation, seemed rather odd, so the problem might be something to do with booster separation.

It appears that the escape tower had been jettisoned before the failure, and so the propulsion system for the capsule was used to separate from the booster.

This Wins the F%$#ing Internet


This is simply beautiful.

H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS for the catch.

10 October 2018

How Convenient

In Georgia, Brian Kemp is the Secretary of State. He's also running for governor.

As Secretary of state, he has purged a tenth of voters, with blacks purged at a rate twice that of white voters.

As Marcus Tullius Cicero was wont to say, "Cui bono" (Who benefits):
My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished.

This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017. If you’re a Georgia resident, check the list. If your name is on it, re-register right now. You only have through tomorrow (October 9).

It’s no coincidence that Georgia’s Purge’n General is also running for Governor: The Republican candidate is fighting a dead-even race against Stacey Abrams, Democratic House Minority Leader. Abrams, if she wins, would become the first Black woman governor in US history.

Suspiciously, Kemp sent no notice to these citizens after he took away their voting rights. If they show up to vote on November 6, they’re out of luck — and so is Georgia’s democracy.
Palast (above) neglects to mention that it is minority voters who are being disproportionately effected by his actions:
An analysis of the records obtained by The Associated Press reveals racial disparity in the process. Georgia’s population is approximately 32 percent black, according to the U.S. Census, but the list of voter registrations on hold with Kemp’s office is nearly 70 percent black.
An important thing to note here:  Despite public chest beating, the national Democratic party does not spend a whole bunch of time or money on getting voters registered.

It should be 24/7 thing, but it isn't.

Francisco Franco is as Francisco Franco Does

One of the narratives regarding the conflict between Madrid and Barcelona over Catalan independence and autonomy is that the independence movement chased away finance and created a capital flight.

It turns out that the Rajoy government aggressively pushed the companies to leave Catalonia.

It's not a surprise,  Mariano Rajoy's "People's Party" is pretty much a direct descendant of Franco's Fascist (Falange) party, and the Falange was dedicated to grinding everything Catalan into dust:
Just over a year has passed since over two million people in Catalonia voted in a banned referendum to leave Spain. On that day, the separatists were given a brutal lesson in the raw power of state violence. Days later, they were given another harsh lesson, this time in the fickleness of money. Within days of holding the vote, which was brutally suppressed but not prevented by Spanish police, Spain’s north eastern region was forced to watch as one after another of its brand names moved their headquarters, at least on paper, to other parts of Spain.

………

But what is only now becoming clear is just how central a role the Spanish government in Madrid was playing in fomenting this massive exodus of funds. The Catalan newspaper Ara has revealed that large state-owned companies such as public broadcaster RTVE, rail infrastructure manager Adif, freight and passenger train operator RENFE and Spanish ports, on the behest of Spain’s central government, raided their own accounts in Catalonia during the frenzied days immediately after the referendum.

In one day alone, the state-owned companies withdrew €2 billion from Banco Sabadell. The presidents of these state-owned companies apparently told the bank’s CEO, Jaume Guardiola, that they had received orders to trigger a run on deposits. As much as a third of all the money that left Catalonia during those first days of October belonged to institutions or companies controlled by the State.

The covert ploy worked like a charm. In the short space of just a few days Banco Sabadell suffered a deposit outflow of €12 billion, while Caixabank lost almost double that, according to Ara.

Another senior executive at Banco Sabadell allegedly asked Spain’s then-Economy Minister Luis de Guindos about the apparent cause of the bank run, to which he received the response: “Have you changed your company address yet?” When the executive answered in the affirmative, the minister said there was no longer any reason to worry. Within hours, the deposits of the state-owned firms were back in their accounts.
In the long run, Rajoy ended up worsening the divisions between Barcelona and Madrid, with the spectacle of police officers in body armor beating up elderly ladies.

The smart move would have been to allow the independence forces to fall into a morass of back-biting and corruption, but the dynamics of the People's Party were such that they had to respond with brutality.
He really had no 

If Only There Was Someone at Tesla Who Knew How to Count

Maybe they should have hired someone who had worked at a place that processes payment, like PayPal.

But alas, it appears that they did not, so the auto manufacturer neglected to pay almost ¾ of a million in unemployment taxes:
A state agency is taking Tesla to court over claims that the electric car manufacturer owes the state more than half a million dollars in unpaid taxes, which a company official says is due to a “clerical” error and was paid on Tuesday.

According to a certificate of judgment filed Monday in Clark County District Court, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) is seeking more than $654,000 in unpaid unemployment taxes from Tesla stemming from the last two fiscal quarters.

According to a statement of liability filed with the court, the company owes $210,710 from the fiscal quarter ending on April 30, and another $439,753 from the quarter ending on July 31. The company paid a portion but not all of its assessed unemployment taxes during each quarter.

Nevada law requires almost any business that pays wages in the state to pay a base 2.95 percent unemployment insurance tax on wages.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Tesla said the issue came about due to a “clerical error” with the company’s acquisition of rooftop solar installer SolarCity — founded by one of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s cousins, Lyndon Rive — and over how the state assess unemployment taxes.

“This judgment is the result of a clerical error, and we have processed this payment today to reflect the latest unemployment insurance contribution rates,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Over the past 18 months, Tesla has already paid over $3.3 million in unemployment taxes to Nevada.”
So somehow they want us to trust their autopilot technology, but they cannot even do what is pretty basic taxes.

That is so reassuring.

Quote of the Day

While claiming to seek victory, the Democratic leadership has instead created a consulting and fundraising complex that incentivizes narrow defeat. The people responsible for losing the 2016 election were promoted, not purged. If we somehow manage to win in spite of them in 2018, we need to bring the whole corrupt edifice down.
Maciej Ceglowski
Tru dat.

09 October 2018

Our Friends in Riyadh

It appears that agents of the House of Saud murded dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their consulate in Istanbul, dismembered him, and took him out of the country in diplomatic pouches:
Top Turkish security officials have concluded that the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on orders from the highest levels of the royal court, a senior official said Tuesday.

The official described a quick and complex operation in which Mr. Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate by a team of Saudi agents, who dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the purpose.

“It is like ‘Pulp Fiction,’” the official said.

Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have denied the allegations, insisting that Mr. Khashoggi left the consulate freely shortly after he arrived. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has demanded that the Saudis provide evidence proving their claim.

………


The security establishment concluded that Mr. Khashoggi’s killing was directed from the top because only the most senior Saudi leaders could order an operation of such scale and complexity, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to disclose confidential briefings.

Fifteen Saudi agents had arrived on two charter flights last Tuesday, the day Mr. Khashoggi disappeared, the official said.

All 15 left just a few hours later, and Turkey has now identified the roles that most or all of them held in the Saudi government or security services, the official said. One was an autopsy expert, presumably there to help dismember the body, the official said.


………

Security camera footage showed Mr. Khashoggi entering the consulate shortly after 1 p.m. that day. Ms. Cengiz, his fiancée, waited outside, and she has said he never emerged.

Two and a half hours after he entered the facility, six vehicles with diplomatic license plates pulled out, carrying 15 Saudi officials and intelligence officers, Sabah reported.

Two other vehicles, including a black Mercedes Vito van with darkened windows, went from the consulate to the consul’s residence about 200 yards away. Turkish employees of the residence had unexpectedly been told not to report for work that day, the newspaper said.
This is completely nuts, but it's par for the course for Mohammad bin Salman.

The 33-year-old boy king-in-all-but-name has clearly never ever had anyone ever say, "No" to him, and he is off the deep end in a way that would have Czar Nicholas II saying, "Dude, you are letting this whole absolute monarch thing go to your head."

We are in for a bumpy ride on the Arabian peninsula.

This is Beginning to Sound Like Whitey Bulger Writ Small

Remember that horrific limousine accident in upstate New York?

Remember how the limo was falling apart, and the driver lacked proper licenses?

Well, we may now have an idea as to why this particular company was given a pass by regulators, its owner was a big time FBI informant.

In fact, this guy was commonly referred to as a "Superinformant", and seemed to spend a lot of his time, as is the FBI's wont, finding swarthy people who had very little intention of doing anything, and turning them into terrorism defendants.

The FBI does have a history of becoming excessively involved with the shady business dealings of its informants, the Boston office was almost a partner of James Joseph "Whitey" Bulger Jr.'s during his blood-soaked run through Beantown's criminal underworld:
The aging limousine that crashed Saturday in Schoharie County, killing 20, was operated by a company with a record of failed inspections — and an owner who was a controversial FBI informant.

The 2001 Ford Excursion was operated by Prestige Limousine, a small company that shares an address with a run-down motel in the Saratoga County town of Wilton, just north of tony Saratoga Springs.

The company is owned by Shahed Hussain, whose backstory includes numerous stints as an undercover informant for the FBI.

Authorites said Hussain, 62, is in his native Pakistan at present. Other company officials have pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

Asked whether Hussain is under criminal investigation, State Police Major Robert Patnaude said anyone found to be criminally culpable will be "held accountable."

......

Albany-area lawyer Dana Salazar, who represented Shahed Hussain in a civil action against Saratoga County that revolved around the Saratoga Road motel property, verified on Monday that her client had indeed been the celebrated informant.

Hussain emigrated from Pakistan in the early 1990's, fleeing a murder charge that he later said was trumped up, according to news reports. He worked as a translator for the New York state Department of Motor Vehicles but was caught helping people cheat on DMV exams in return for money.

He later was accused of making fraudulent statements in a personal bankruptcy case as well.

Hussain pleaded guilty to a felony in relation to the DMV scam but avoided prison and deportation by becoming an informant, working in New York's Muslim communities to find people that had radical tendencies.

......

"And, perhaps perversely, it’s hard not to come away without some degree of admiration for Mr. Hussain, seen and heard only in the grainy videos shot in his car and living room," reviewer Mike Hale. "He puts on a superior performance over a long period of time and lies with breathtaking ease and quickness. If there were Oscars for informants, he’d be on the red carpet every year."
In the article, you have his hotel being shut down by authorities, multiple problems with his limo service, but he was always allowed to continue operating.

It's not exactly the same as Winter Hill Gang boss Bulger and Stephen Joseph "The Rifleman" Flemmi using their status as informants to get FBI protection and take out rivals, but it certainly seems to rhyme.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizens

It ppears that the FBI is back to some of its old tricks, specifically it is masquerading as journalists again:
Newly public Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) documents outline for the first time the specifics of the agency's guidelines for impersonating members of the news media in undercover activities and operations. The records detail, among other things, that such activities require high-level approval from within the FBI and Justice Department. The FBI released the guidelines after the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit when the agency failed to respond to a request for records about its impersonation of documentary filmmakers, specifically. Additionally, records recently released in connection with a separate FOIA lawsuit filed by the Reporters Committee show that the FBI has engaged in the impersonation of documentary filmmakers on a number of occasions, though questions remain as to just how frequently the FBI relies on this tactic.
......

In defense of the practice, then-FBI Director James Comey submitted a letter to the editor to The New York Times acknowledging the tactic and stating that the FBI's impersonation of an AP journalist in the Seattle investigation "was proper and appropriate[.]" The controversy also led the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General to investigate the FBI's use of media impersonation in the Seattle investigation. In September 2016, the office issued a formal report noting that the FBI had prepared new guidelines setting forth "approval levels for sensitive circumstances specifically in situations in which [FBI] employees represent, pose, or claim to be members of the news media or a documentary film crew."

The guidelines obtained by the Reporters Committee detail that approval process: The relevant FBI field office must submit an application to the Undercover Review Committee at FBI headquarters and it must be approved by the FBI Deputy Director after consultation with the Deputy Attorney General. The guidelines do not provide any criteria the FBI Deputy Director and/or the Deputy Attorney General must consider when approving these undercover activities.

.....

In response to part of that FOIA request, the FBI has asserted what is known as a "Glomar" response, refusing to confirm or deny the existence of records related to other instances in which it has impersonated documentary filmmakers during the course of its investigations. In support of its argument, in a recent filing the FBI went so far as to argue that disclosing these records "would allow criminals to judge whether they should completely avoid any contacts with documentary film crews, rendering the investigative technique ineffective."

In response, the Reporters Committee argued that this is precisely the reason why disclosure of information regarding FBI media impersonation is so important: this tactic has a chilling effect on journalists and documentary filmmakers, and sources are less likely to speak candidly to members of the news media if they think that the journalist is an agent of the government. Further, the Reporters Committee argues that the FBI cannot issue a Glomar response in this case because its practice of media impersonation is already well-known to the public and the FBI has already officially acknowledged the existence of these records — two standards the court will consider in evaluating whether the FBI's Glomar response to part of the FOIA request was appropriate.
2 Thoughts:
  • J. Edgar Hoover is an inescapable part of the FBI's DNA, and we are not going to change this in my lifetime, though breaking it up into separate functions might be a good start.
  •  James Comey is not, and has never been a friend of civil rights, restraints on law enforcement, or transparency.

Linkage


3 whales do a triple breach. I think that the whales knew that they were showing of for tourists:

08 October 2018

Banksey is a F%$#ing Genius


Brilliant
A Banksy painting sold at Sotheby's for over £1 million.

Once the auction was completed, Banksey, or someone affiliated with him, triggered the shredder built into the picture frame:
Banksy has released a video showing how he secretly built a shredder into one of his paintings that self-destructed after it was sold for more than £1m.

The framed Girl With Balloon, one of the artist's best known works, was auctioned by Sotheby's in London.

Moments after the piece was sold, the canvas of a girl reaching for a heart-shaped balloon shredded itself.

Quoting Picasso on his Instagram, Banksy wrote: "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge - Picasso."

The clip starts with a caption, saying: "A few years ago, I secretly built a shredder into a painting."

The video then shows someone in a hoodie installing the device, before another caption, saying: "In case it was ever put up for auction."

The video then shows the moment the painting shredded itself at the auction house on Friday, captured on a mobile phone.

It is unclear how the shredder was activated.

Moments before, the 2006 stencilled spray-painting had sold for £1.042m.

"It appears we just got Banksy-ed," said Alex Branczik, Sotheby's senior director and head of contemporary art in Europe.
I've got to believe that Banksy is the secret love child of Eugène Ionesco, spiritually, if not genetically.

I'm Sure that the Blairites Will Flock to Support Her

The Guardian is reporting that Tory PM Theresa May is wooing Labour party MPs in an attempt to secure support for her Brexit proposals.

The (reflexively anti-Corbyn) Guardian misses the point here.

May's appeal to Labour is not, "The Good of the Kingdom," it's, "You have the opportunity to stop Jeremy Corbyn.

You will notice that the report does not detail who is in discussions with the Conservatives, and I think that this is because it is the representatives of failed New Labour who are in talks, in yet another of their schemes to destroy the party to preserve their position within the party:
Theresa May has drawn up plans for a secret charm offensive aimed at persuading dozens of Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal even if it costs Jeremy Corbyn the chance to be prime minister, the Guardian has learned.

Senior Conservatives say they have already been in private contact with a number of Labour MPs over a period of several months, making the case that the national interest in avoiding a no-deal outcome is more important than forcing a general election by defeating the government on May’s Brexit deal.

Now, with talks in Brussels entering their frantic final phase, the prime minister and her party whips are stepping up efforts to win backing for a compromise deal that one minister described as a “British blancmange”.
………

Labour MPs will thus be the focus of intense lobbying, in the period between May returning from Brussels with a Brexit deal and the meaningful vote, which is expected to come about a fortnight later.

………

May appealed directly to Labour backbenchers in her conference speech when she spoke of the “heirs of Hugh Gaitskell and Barbara Castle, Denis Healey and John Smith”, saying they were on the backbenches, not in the shadow cabinet of what she called the “Jeremy Corbyn party”.
This is not an attempt at a better Brexit, it's an attempt to sabotage Labout, an Blair and his Evil Minions are more than willing to aid and abet this strategy.

Google+ Still Has 500,000 Users?

Google discovered that its programming tools for Google+ allowed advertisers and programmers to access private data.

They sat on this information for months, and then, when threatened with exposure announced that they will be shuttering Google Plus:
Google exposed the private details of almost 500,000 Google+ users and then opted not to report the lapse, in part out of concern disclosure would trigger regulatory scrutiny and reputational damage, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people briefed on the matter and documents that discussed it. Shortly after the article was published, Google said it would close the Google+ social networking service to consumers.

The exposure was the result of a flaw in programming interfaces Google made available to developers of applications that interacted with users’ Google+ profiles, Google officials said in a post published after the WSJ report. From 2015 to March 2018, the APIs made it possible for developers to view profile information not marked as public, including full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation, and relationship status. Data exposed didn’t include Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers, or G Suite content. Some of the users affected included paying G Suite users.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai knew of the glitch and the decision not to publicly disclose it, the WSJ reported. Based on a two-week test designed to measure the impact of the API bugs before they were fixed, Google analysts believe that data for 496,951 users was improperly exposed. According to the report:
Google:  That whole, "Don't be evil," thing is, "inoperative."

BTW, I am aware of the irony present in my using a Google blogging platform, and (barely) monetizing said blog on Google™ Adsense™.

07 October 2018

I Hate Adulting

Filling out financial forms and scanning them in.

It sucks.

The New Doctor

I saw the premier of the latest season of Dr. Who, with a new Doctor.

I was not immediately impressed, but typically, the first show with a new doctor tends to be a bit weak, because both the writers, and the actor, are trying to find the character.

This is further complicated because they are also adding a whole new batch of companions.

That being said, I rather like that she has a northern (Yorkshire) accent rather than the received pronunciation (BBC), and I like that this actually Jodi Whittaker's native accent.

I do kind of wish that there wasn't so much hype over this, but I do understand why this is the case.

06 October 2018

Motherf%$#ers

Compulsive gambler, alcoholic, rapist, and perjurer Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate, expect Roe v. Wade, and probably Eisenstadt v. Baird, as well as Griswold v. Connecticut.

Welcome to the Handmaiden's Tale, or, to quote Ted Kennedy, Brett Kavanaugh's, "America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy."

This just sucks.

05 October 2018

Corrupt

The California NAACP came out against an initiative that would make implementing rent control easier.

Days later, it's president got a 6 figure consulting contract from the realtors opposing the initiative:
The president of the California NAACP has long resisted criticism that she melds the group’s interests with those of her political consulting firm, which takes in large fees for working on campaigns that the civil rights organization backs.

Critics say Alice Huffman is doing it again on what is shaping up to be one of the most bitterly contested measures on the November ballot Proposition 10, which would repeal a state law that limits cities’ ability to impose rent control.

The state NAACP’s 28-member executive committee voted in May to oppose Prop. 10. Huffman said the group agreed with arguments that allowing stricter forms of rent control would discourage housing construction and therefore hurt low-income tenants.

A month after the NAACP voted, Huffman said, her AC Public Affairs political consulting firm in Sacramento signed a deal to be a lead consultant on the opposition’s $800,000 campaign targeting African American voters through mailers and workers who will go door-to-door.
Apparently Ms. Huffman saw Delray Mckesson's Patagonia vest endorsement deal, and thought, "Here, hold my beer."

She claims that she does not accept contracts from companies that oppose the state NAACP positions, but she is the president of the organization, so she is in a position to move the group in a way that benefits her financially, as she did when the NAACP, and AC Public, played both sides of the street regarding cigarette taxes in 2006 and 2016.

America, where no good deed goes uncorrupted.

Your Feel Good Story of the Day


Roll Tape
Yes that is Donald Trump climbing the stairs to Air Force 1 with toilet paper stuck to his shoe:
In a week consumed by a fraught Supreme Court confirmation battle, you could probably use a little levity. To that end, on Thursday, a video of Trump boarding Air Force One with toilet paper apparently stuck to his shoe surfaced. And it's everything you imagined.

The clip first shows the president getting out of a limousine. It's parked directly in front of a staircase that leads up to the open door of Air Force One. Secret Service agents are milling around the car as Trump climbs the stairs ... with a little white scrap trailing off his left shoe. He stops to wave at the top of the stairs, then enters the plane, leaving the scrap outside the entrance.

There's no way to know it was in fact toilet paper — or even how it got there — but Twitter users seemed convinced.

As if this entire presidency couldn’t be more bizarre...
To quote Zathras, "At least, there is symmetry."

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!

Jason Van Dyke has been convicted of second-degree murder for the shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago.

I am pleasantly surprised.

It's been a very long time since a white cop has been convicted for shooting a black kid:
Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted Friday of second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, marking a stunning end to a racially tinged case that roiled the city when now-infamous police dashboard camera video of the shooting was released three years ago by court order.

Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer in half a century to be found guilty of murder for an on-duty shooting. He faces a minimum of six years in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Vincent Gaughan.

The jury deliberated for about 7½ hours before finding Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder instead of the first-degree charge on which he was indicted.
7½ hours to convict a cop is a very short deliberation.
The veteran officer also was convicted of all 16 counts of aggravated battery for each shot he fired at McDonald. The jury acquitted him, however, of a single count of official misconduct.
This Van Dyke needs to be sentenced as if he were a black teen who shot a white cop.

Collins and Manchin Will Vote for Kavanaugh, All but Ensuring His Confirmation - The New York Times


We are Not Amused
I expected that Susan Collins would vote for Canvanaugh, making sane noises and then voting the party line when it matters is her thing, but Manchin will not get a single vote from Kavanaugh supporters, because they would never vote for someone with a (D) after their name, so his gesture is stupid self-destructive futility:
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh is heading to confirmation to the Supreme Court this weekend after two key undecided senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia — announced Friday that they would support his elevation to the high court, ending the most divisive confirmation fight in decades.

Ms. Collins’ lengthy speech on the Senate floor dwelled as much on Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record as on the sexual misconduct charges that have consumed his nomination. She did conclude, “We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence.”

“The Me Too movement is real. It matters. It is needed, and it is long overdue,” she said, arguing that her support for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation does not negate the claims of sexual assault that have flooded forward in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against the nominee. But she said she was not convinced of Judge Kavanaugh’s guilt.

“I found her testimony to be sincere, painful and compelling. I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life. Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events,” Ms. Collins said.

Mr. Manchin, a Democrat, immediately followed with a statement proclaiming his support.

“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing,” he wrote. “And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life. However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed F.B.I. report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist.”
Seriously:  The only reason for a Democrat to pull the lever for you is the Supreme Court, and you just pissed all over that.

Seriously:  Go Cheney yourself.

This is Not the Resource Curse

One of the perplexing questions of modern society is how the discovery of riches, particularly things like oil and diamonds, can make a country less well off. (the "resource curse")

So now we have people wondering why the outsized role of finance in the UK does not create prosperity.

This one is pretty easy:  Finance is not wealth you dig up from the ground, and it is not meaningful productivity, though it can help getting actors with capital in touch with actors who need capital.

It produces nothing, and when it dominates an economy, as it does in the UK, it is actually highly parasitic.

No one asks why bank robbers don't benefit society, and as William Black has noted, "The best way to rob a bank is to own one."
To argue that the City hurts Britain’s economy might seem crazy. But research increasingly shows that all the money swirling around our oversized financial sector may actually be making us collectively poorer. As Britain’s economy has steadily become re-engineered towards serving finance, other parts of the economy have struggled to survive in its shadow, like seedlings starved of light and water under the canopy of a giant, deep-rooted and invasive tree. Generations of leaders from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair to Theresa May have believed that the City is the goose that lays Britain’s golden eggs, to be prioritised, pampered and protected. But the finance curse analysis shows an oversized City to be a different bird: a cuckoo in the nest, crowding out other sectors.
I would also note the the international finance sector has much to do with creating the "resource curse" in places like Angola, where they finance grandiose projects, launder money, and foment destructive speculation.

Why would they do anything different in the City of London than they do in Luanda?

Unfortunately, modern politicians want to negotiate with them, which makes as much sense as negotiating with a tapeworm.

04 October 2018

Tories Could F%$# Up a 2 Car Funeral - Stellar Parthenon

The Tories are going to have an official conference, so they had an app for that.

Rather like Brexit negotiations, it was a complete fiasco:
A major flaw in the Conservatives’ official conference mobile phone application has made the private data of senior party members – including cabinet ministers – accessible to anyone that logged in as that particular conference attendee.

The data of hundreds of attendees to the Tory conference could be viewed by second guessing attendees’ email addresses, with Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Gavin Williamson and others among those whose personal information – including their phone numbers – was made accessible.

Once logged into the app, users were able to both amend and make the personal details of prominent MPs public. Twitter users claimed Johnson’s picture had been briefly changed to one featuring a pornographic image.

Gove’s picture was changed to Rupert Murdoch, his previous employer at the Times. Anyone could log in as any attendee by providing an email with no password. Many MPs had registered with their public parliamentary email addresses, making it simple for any member of the public to access their mobile number via the app.

Commentators said the flaw raised questions over the ability of the government to harness technology to solve issues around the Irish border and customs checks. The app may also have breached data laws. Its privacy policy states that it “complies with … the European Union’s general data protection regulation (GDPR)”.

………

It follows the gaffe that unfolded last year during Theresa May’s keynote speech when a comedian managed to get to the front of the stage and pass her a P45,
[Layoff Form] which she accepted.
馬鹿につける薬はない (There is no medicine for stupidity.)

Yes, Supporting the Corrupt Son of a Bitch is Working Out Well

OIt looks likely that Democrat Bob Menendez is in a tight race with Republican Bob Hugin for his New Jersey US Senate Seat.

Note that New Jersey has not voted for a Republican Presidential Candidate since 1988, and hasn't elected a Republican Senator since 1978. (There have been some 'Phant appointments)

But Hugins is in the margin of error, because he was tried for corruption and the jury hung, and because the Supreme Court made it next to impossible to prosecute corrupt politicians with the Bob "Governor Ultrasound" McDonnell decision.

The Democrats are not running against Wall Street, because they want the campaign cash, they are in hock up to their eyeballs to big pharma, (Jim Manchin's kid is behind price gouging on the Epi-Pen), and now they are putting forward corrupt candidates.

This is the stupidest Democratic Party campaign strategy since ……… Well, 2016, but you get my point.

The Value That They Share Is a Dedication to Looting

Neera Tanden, who has made a career out of supporting the worst that the Democratic Party has to offer in order to suck up corporate money, and Bill Kristol, who has made a career out of being Irving Kristol's kid, are holding a mutual talk to discuss what they have in common.



What you have in common is that you are a bunch of contemptible parasites who make the world a profoundly worse place.

Yeah, the Fix is In on Kavanaugh

No questions to Kavanaugh or Ford, Ramirez was barely intervieded and and corroborating witnesses were given the brush off.

The money quote here is, "No one who lived in Lawrance Hall (so far as I know) has been contacted by the FBI What a charade."

The WaPo has a list of people that he FBI refused to interview despite their claims that Kavanaugh is a liar, which is a critical part of a background check, and another story from them about how the FBI refused to interview someone who had text messages showing that Kavanaugh was doing damage control on Ramirez before he told the Judiciary Committee he knew about the allegations.

Of course, Susan Collins has signed off on the sham, because her moderation only really applies when her vote does not count.

So, it looks like we are going to get a liar, gambling addict, alcoholic, rapist on the Supreme Court.

He has a pretty good shot at being a worse justice than Roger B. Taney.

Linkage


Word is that Matt Damon nailed this in less than 24 hours:


03 October 2018

Tweet of the Day


Seriously, if Sanders were to walk on water, people at the DNC would claim that Bernie could not swim.

F%$# the DNC


Pathetic
Tom Perez, chair of the DNC says that here will be no consequences for Democratic Senators who vote for Kavanaugh.

Seriously, the only reason that the Democratic Party establishment gives to vote for them is, "The Supreme Court," and Perez cannot even hold the line on that.

They are the problem, not the solution, and they are dedicated to the dystopian status quo.

Give to candidates, or give to state parties, but don't give money, or your personal information, to the DNC, and do not refer friends to the DNC, because they are nothing more than a way for incompetent consultants to get paid.

Frat, Drunk, and Stupid Is No Way to Go through Life, Son.

The drip, drip, drip of Kavanaugh revelations continue.

First, and most significantly, text messages have been revealed showing that Kavanaugh was marshalling a response to Deborah Ramirez before anyone had heard of her, which begs the question:  How could he know if, as he has testified, this had never happened?

Also, it appears that he started a bar fight in 1985:
As an undergraduate student at Yale, Brett M. Kavanaugh was involved in an altercation at a local bar during which he was accused of throwing ice on another patron, according to a police report.

The incident, which occurred in September 1985 during Mr. Kavanaugh’s junior year, resulted in Mr. Kavanaugh and four other men being questioned by the New Haven Police Department. Mr. Kavanaugh was not arrested, but the police report stated that a 21-year-old man accused Mr. Kavanaugh of throwing ice on him “for some unknown reason.”

A witness to the fight said that Chris Dudley, a Yale basketball player who is friends with Mr. Kavanaugh, then threw a glass that hit the man in the ear, according to the police report, which was obtained by The New York Times.

The report said that the victim, Dom Cozzolino, “was bleeding from the right ear” and was treated at a hospital. A detective was notified of the incident at 1:20 a.m.

Mr. Dudley denied the accusation, according to the report. For his part, speaking to the officers, Mr. Kavanaugh did not want “to say if he threw the ice or not,” the police report said.
Nope, no indication of a teen drinking problem there.

Neither is his letter to has friends in high school about their weekend getaway which stated that, "Warn the neighbors that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us."

Nope, no sign of out of control drinking there either.

Also, Chad Ludington Kavanaugh’s Yale roommate, has called him a liar about his drinking in college:
In recent days I have become deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale. When I watched Brett and his wife being interviewed on Fox News on Monday, and when I watched Brett deliver his testimony under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, I cringed. For the fact is, at Yale, and I can speak to no other times, Brett was a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker. I know, because, especially in our first two years of college, I often drank with him. On many occasions I heard Brett slur his words and saw him staggering from alcohol consumption, not all of which was beer. When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.
I'm beginning to think that if he got drunk, and forcibly buggered Mitch McConnell over his desk on the floor of the Senate, he would still get at least 48 Republican votes, including Mitch McConnel, to confirm him to the Supreme Court.

Tru Dat

I know that we are living in Bizarro world when Donald Trump is telling the truth.

In this case, he told the King of Saudi Arabia that they were dependent on the US for their continued survival.

Taking down the corrupt creeps in the House of Saud, even rhetorically, is a good thing:
President Donald Trump made an undiplomatic remark about close ally Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, saying he warned Saudi Arabia's King Salman he would not last in power "for two weeks" without the backing of the U.S. military.

"We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they're rich. And I love the King, King Salman. But I said 'King — we're protecting you — you might not be there for two weeks without us — you have to pay for your military,'" Trump said to cheers at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi.
I don't know if  he actually said this to representatives of the House of Saud, Trump has a long history of blowing smoke up people's asses, but the statement is pretty accurate with regard to the to the real value of the few thousand thieves who claim to be princes.

02 October 2018

I Hate Being the Family Tech Support

It's a wonder that more tech support guys don't grab a bunch of bottles from the mini-bar, open the emergency exit, and slide down the inflatable slide.

Seriously.

01 October 2018

It's Simchat Torah

If you are wondering if this means that I am drunk-blogging, the answer is yes.

Posted via mobile.

30 September 2018

No Posting Tonight

Phone went titsup tonite.

If anyone has a suggestion as to good software to recover an ext2 partition on an SD card, contact me.

29 September 2018

About F%$#ing Time

The latest FAA authorization bill gives the agency the right to regulate seat spacing:
The recently announced multi-year deal to reauthorize the FAA contains many gifts for industry, from new rules restricting the misuse of service and support animals to policies that advance the safe integration of commercial drones. But a provision tucked in the bill that would clear the way for the FAA to regulate minimum seat sizes has some industry watchers concerned that Congress may be overstepping its bounds.

Section 577 of H.R. 302—the legislative package containing the FAA reauthorization bill—would give the agency one year to issue regulations that establish minimum seat dimensions for all commercial aircraft operating in the U.S. These would include minimums for seat pitch, width and length.

………

The proposed regulations—if approved—would likely be felt most acutely by the ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCC), which have high-density seating to maintain their low unit costs. 
This does not mean that the FAA will act, and they have seemed disinclined to do so, but I think that political pressure will eventually lead to meaningful action.

That;s the First One

An F-35 has crashed in South Carolina its pilot ejected safely:
An F-35 fighter jet crashed in South Carolina, the US Marine Corps said, in the first such incident to affect the most expensive defence programme in the world.

A statement said the crash occurred in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina, at approximately 11.40am on Friday.

“The US Marine pilot ejected safely,” the statement said, adding that there were no civilian injuries and both the health of the pilot and the cause of the crash were being evaluated.
If it's the Marines, then it is the "B" model.

I'm wondering if this is just the normal course of things, or if it is another glitch in the program.

Wrist Slap


Elon Musk has to resign as chairman of the board and he, and Tesla, have to pay a small fine, which looks like meaningful enforcement, but has little real consequence: He still runs the company, he is still the largest share holder, so it is a distinction without a difference:
Elon Musk is to step down as chair of Tesla for three years and pay a fine after reaching a deal with the US financial regulator over tweets he made about taking the firm into private ownership.

Under the settlement Musk would remain as chief executive but must leave his other post within 45 days. Both he and the company will each pay a $20m (£15.3m) fine.

The entrepreneur has overseen two tumultuous months for the car company that battered Tesla’s share price and Musk’s reputation. Last Friday Tesla’s share price was down close to 14% as investors lost confidence.
 Weak tea.

Headline of the Day

Of Course Ted Cruz Should Be Publicly Ostracized
Ian Welsh
This is in response to the hand wringing by Washington's "Very Serious People" over protesters confronting Cruz in a restaurant.

Mr. Welsh has a very good rejoinder:
If you could have only one rule for creating a good society it would be the following:
Elites must experience the consequences of their behavior.
Making Ted Cruz's dining experiences uncomfortable is clearly an inadequate response.

When there is no accountability by the decisions made by the elites, their decisions are self interested and destructive.

28 September 2018

Back Loaded Bribery

Following years of fronting for the natural gas industry, Vicki Fuller, the former chief investment officer of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, secured a lucrative do-nothing sinecure from the Williams Companies, a major player in the energy market:
New York State’s former top pension investment officer was appointed to the board of a natural gas conglomerate after the pension system bought up the company’s bonds, rejected demands to divest from fossil fuels and supported multimillion-dollar pay packages for the company’s executives after the firm’s stock price had dropped.

Vicki Fuller was appointed as a director of The Williams Companies on July 31st — the same week she left her position as the chief investment officer of the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

The CIO job — appointed by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli — is considered one of the world’s most powerful financial positions, directing $207 billion of investments for a system responsible for safeguarding the retirement savings of more than a million current and former state employees and their beneficiaries. Fuller will be granted $275,000 worth of salary and company stock every year for the part-time position serving on Williams’ board.

The move comes during an increasingly bitter policy debate between the comptroller’s office and environmental groups over whether the pension fund should divest itself from fossil fuel companies that contribute to climate change. In correspondence with DiNapoli over the last two months, major environmental groups have asked whether Fuller’s new position is a reward for her and DiNapoli’s ongoing opposition to selling off the fund’s fossil fuel holdings.

………

“Ms. Fuller’s appointment calls into question the integrity of the management of the New York State Common Retirement Funds by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli,” wrote 30 groups to state ethics officials. “It is outrageous to us that a person can one day be CIO of the New York state pension funds and the next day take a well-compensated appointment as a board member of the corporation into which she oversaw — or even directed — large investments while helping to shield the company from an adverse divestment decision by the funds.”

………

The decision to launch an investigation will be up to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which is largely comprised of commissioners appointed by a governor who himself has ties to Williams. WNYC previously reported that a Cuomo-led political group raked in $100,000 from Williams earlier this year, and Cuomo’s own re-election campaign this year is run by a registered lobbyist for Williams who is on leave from her firm. At the same time, Williams is asking the Cuomo administration to approve a controversial pipeline that environmentalists say threatens the state’s waterways.
What is shocking about corruption in the United States is not the law-breaking, it is what is technically legal.

Breaking My Embargo of Job Talk

Generally, my rule of thumb is not do discuss my job. To do otherwise is an invitation for termination

But this one is too good.

I was talking to James, our welder, and he complained that frequently when we are half way through the project, the goals change.

I replied with the following:
Sad life.

Probably sad death.

At least there is symmetry.
Made my fucking day, it did.