30 April 2020

Important Covid-19 Related News

Charles, my son, has successfully cultured two sourdough starters, one from wheat (Willie) and a gluten free one from millet (Mike).

Charlie has not named the starters, I did.

He managed to produce a pretty decent loaf of sourdough this evening from Willie.

I still say that we should put googly eyes and pipe-cleaner whiskers on the jars, and do a meme video, but Charlie is unconvinced.

Your Feel Good Story of the Day

It's an old story, Hamilton County Sheriff fires an officer because she is gay, and she beats him like a rented mule in the primary:
In a heated race in Ohio, Democrat Charmaine McGuffey ran to be both the county’s first female and first out LGBTQ person elected sheriff. She also ran against the man she alleges fired her because she’s a lesbian – current Sheriff Jim Neil, a Trump-supporting Democrat.

And she stomped him at the ballot box, winning approximately 70 percent of the vote.
Jim Neil should never have been the Democratic Party for anything in the first place.

He's a teabagger who appeared on stage with Donald Trump in 2016.

America's Finest News Source

Republicans Ridicule Democrats For Caring As Little About Sexual Assault As They Do
The Onion
It's funny because it is true.

Also, Biden should release his Senat records at the University of Delaware.

Tara Reade claimed to have filed a contemporaneous complaint, and it should be in Biden's records.

3.8 Million Initial Jobless Claims

So total claims over the last 6 weeks are over 30 million, given that unemployment started at about 3% and there were 165 million people on the non-farm payroll before all this started, it implies that the unemployment rate right now is north of 20%:
Another 3.8 million people lost their jobs in the US last week as the coronavirus pandemic continued to batter the economy. The pace of layoffs appears to be slowing, but in just six weeks an unprecedented 30 million Americans have now sought unemployment benefits and the numbers are still growing.

The latest figures from the labor department released on Thursday showed a fourth consecutive week of declining claims. While the trend is encouraging, the rate of losses means US unemployment is still on course to reach levels unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
It already has, particularly when one notes that there are likely hundreds of thousands, if not millions of claims that have not entered the system yet because of overwhelmed unemployment offices.

Unemployment peaked during the Great Depression at 24.9%.

We are likely to hit that number around mid May.

Even more concerning is that the bipartisan support of looting by the banksters and the monopolists, which will likely slow recovery.

29 April 2020

Human Sacrifice, Dogs and Cats Living Together, Mass Hysteria

This is a scary
We now have the first GDP numbers for the first quarter of 2020, and it is down 4.8%.

When one considers the trend of 2% annualized, and the fact that the shutdowns, and hence the economic contraction, did not begin until March, it means that the month of March fell at something approaching a 60% annual rate.

Obviously, this won't continue at this rate, but predictions are looking at a 30% contraction:
The longest economic expansion in US history officially came to an end on Wednesday when the commerce department announced the economy shrank 4.8% in the first three months of the year.

The economic slump, the steepest since the last recession in 2008, is just an early indicator of how severely the coronavirus pandemic has affected the US economy.

Much of the US economy shut down in March in an effort to contain the virus, triggering 26 million people to file for unemployment benefits and wiping out a decade of jobs gains, at the end of the first quarter. The next set of figures from the commerce department will more accurately reflect the true scale of its impact.

Kevin Hassett, senior economic adviser to the White House, has predicted gross domestic product (GDP) – the widest measure of the economy – could fall at an annualized rate of 30% in the next quarter. Goldman Sachs expects a 15% unemployment rate in the US by mid-year, up from 4.4% at present.

The fall is the sharpest quarterly decline in GDP since the end of 2008 when the economy contracted by an annualized rate of 8.4%. But on current forecasts the drop-off could soon rival the economic collapse of the Great Depression. In 1932 the US economy shrank 13% over the year.
 When one considers that pending home sales fell 25% month over month in March, this is going to get a LOT uglier before things turn up.

Also, with an additional 28 million people out of work, and a strong recovery, say 500K growth in non farm payrolls a month, something that has happened in only 15 months over the past 60 years, it would still take over a year for complete recovery.

They Should Have Blown up Her Damn Yacht

Have have you heard of Betsy Devos' latest action as Secretary of the Department of "Education"?

She overruled the experts at her department, and forced through a massive grant to a corrupt charter school chain:
A U.S. congressman is demanding answers from the U.S. Education Department, alleging department employees complained to his office about political interference in the awarding of a multimillion-dollar federal grant to the controversial IDEA charter school network.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) sent a letter to the department Monday asking for details and records related to the awarding of the grant. In an interview, Pocan said “three whistleblowers” told his office that professional staff evaluating applications for 2020 grants from the federal Charter School Program had rejected IDEA for new funding, deeming the network “high risk” because of how IDEA leaders previously spent federal funds.

But according to these whistleblowers, Pocan said, professional staff was overruled by political appointees who ordered the funding be awarded to IDEA. The identities of the whistleblowers were not revealed to The Post, nor were the names of the political appointees.


Earlier this month, the Education Department announced it was awarding millions of dollars in new grants to charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated. IDEA was the top recipient, receiving $72 million over five years. IDEA had previously received more than $200 million in funding over the past decade through the program.

But the network has been dogged by controversy. This month, IDEA chief executive Tom Torkelson resigned after publicly apologizing for “really dumb and unhelpful” plans that included leasing a private jet for millions of dollars and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on San Antonio Spurs tickets. The Texas Monitor reported last month that Torkelson had flown on a private jet to Tampa to meet with DeVos to discuss “education philanthropy,” records show. The Monitor reported he was the only passenger on a jet that can hold nine people.

Last November, the Education Department’s inspector general criticized IDEA in an audit of data IDEA included in annual performance reviews it submitted to the federal government, required as part of the grants received from the federal Charter Schools Program.
Betsy DeVos goal is the defunding public schools, and that means shoveling money out to the charter schools, no matter how incompetent or corrupt.

He Is Turning into a Bond Villain

It's increasingly clear that Elon Musk is a few bricks short of a load.

Between smoking weed on camera, tweeting out false buyout rumors, the whole submarine pedo libel thing, it's clear that a guy who made his money by skirting a bank regulations it's clear that he's not what one would call a "Very Stable Genius."

In the latest case Elon Musk launched into a diatribe against Covid-19 isolation measures at an Earnings Call.

This guy has been surrounded by toadies reassuring him of his special genius for years:
Elon Musk unleashed a diatribe against shelter-in-place orders, describing the public health measures intended to stem the spread of coronavirus as “fascist”, during an earnings call on Wednesday.

“This is not democratic,” he said of the orders, which he falsely characterized as stipulating that anyone who leaves home would be arrested. “This is not freedom – give people back their goddamn freedom.”

Musk’s rant came despite a relatively good earnings report for Tesla, in which the company beat analysts’ estimates for first-quarter revenue on Wednesday. It posted its third straight quarterly profit after recording a solid number of deliveries during the period, despite disruptions due to the pandemic.

Earlier on the call, Musk specifically cited the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order, which has prevented his factory in Fremont, California, from opening, as a concern.

He thinks that he's a genius because he got rich through connections and luck.

This guy is a nut.


There is something strangely satisfying about setting fire to a Corona Virus replica:

28 April 2020

Not Voting for this Clown

Jesse "The Body" Ventura is looking at throwing his hat into the ring for the Green Party Presidential nomination.

I see no reason to cast a vote for a person who has a background in entertainment who traffics in kayfabe who is hyper-sensitive with the press and does not work well with others.

We already have that, and it does NOT turn out well.

Conservative Psycho-Pathology

If Justice Samuel Alito is any indication of movement conservatism, and his life is largely a creation of the movement, then his opinion on the Louisiana non-unanimous jury law indicates why Republicans will never win the minority vote.

For him, any mention of of white people being racist is the real racism.

It is important to understand that this means that you can never find common cause with these people with issues of race, because they believe that non only is there no racism now, but that there was no racism ever:
Justice Sam Alito just delivered a dissent that could be described as blistering if it wasn’t so cringe-worthy. For six paragraphs, Alito rails against the majority opinion, written by Justice Gorsuch, as a breach of “rational and civil discourse” because it includes a recounting of the history of the laws at issue in the case. But that history requires delving into Ku Klux Klan influence and a public record of racist motivations for the specific laws, and if there’s one thing Justice Alito hates, it’s using ouchy words like “racism” to describe… well, racism.


But in Louisiana and Oregon, 12 Angry Men would have ended with a conviction in about 10 minutes. For years, the two states allowed criminal convictions on the basis of non-unanimous verdicts, a justice system curiosity developed to prevent the occasional black or immigrant juror from interfering with the government’s interest in throwing the book at minority defendants. States that outright refused to seat minority jurors would run afoul of the Constitution, but if those jurors could be seated but ignored… well, the Supreme Court just threw up its hands at a solution so clever!

In any event, the Supreme Court just closed this loophole permanently, holding that the Sixth Amendment by incorporation requires states to convict people unanimously. Justice Gorsuch wrote a fractured opinion that won’t necessarily satisfy scholars but gets the result right.

Justice Sam Alito isn’t pleased to be closing the door on the right of states to perform end-runs around the Constitution. He opens, as previewed at oral argument, with an unironic admonishment of the majority for overturning a precedent from the 1970s. Apparently, precedents that make a mockery of Sixth Amendment rights are sacrosanct while those that impinge on no rights other than a janky First Amendment claim concocted from whole cloth must be overturned with abandon. But it’s his next section aimed directly at Justice Gorsuch where Justice Alito decides to get his inner Justice Taney on.
Too much public discourse today is sullied by ad hominem rhetoric, that is, attempts to discredit an argument not by proving that it is unsound but by attacking the character or motives of the argument’s proponents. The majority regrettably succumbs to this trend. At the start of its opinion, the majority asks this rhetorical question: “Why do Louisiana and Oregon allow nonunanimous convictions?” And the answer it suggests? Racism, white supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan. Non-unanimous verdicts, the Court implies, are of a piece with Jim Crow laws, the poll tax, and other devices once used to disfranchise African Americans.
Now, it’s not clear why Justice Gorsuch suggested that a legacy of racism motivated these laws, but it’s probably because this is entirely and indisputably accurate. Louisiana is, of course, one of those deep South states with a well-known history of institutionalized racial prejudice — at least until Chief Justice Roberts declared racism cured in Shelby County — and the history of this law is no exception with lawmakers going on record to call it critical for “the supremacy of the white race.” Oregon’s a little harder to envision as a state steeped in racist policymaking until you learn that it was founded as a white supremacist haven and actually had a law banning black people until 1926. So, it’s not all craft brews and shrooms over there. With its jury provision, lawmakers called out immigrants as the reason white people needed to be able to convict people without unanimous consent. It’s all around a disturbing legacy.


Make no mistake, Justice Alito’s ill-advised outburst is all about his (along with Chief Justice Roberts, who joined the dissent) desire to purge jurisprudence of a vocabulary to discuss racial animus. It’s why their ideological brethren refuse to admit that segregation was unconstitutional — they balk at the idea that racism can even be a subject in legal discourse. If the committee chair who passed this law saying that it was done to “establish the supremacy of the white race,” — one of the quotes Justice Gorsuch cites that so egregiously rankles Alito — cannot be raised in an opinion, then really what’s left?

This, for Alito, is not “rational or civil discourse” because it offends him. Everyone should really wonder why he’s so offended by calling Jim Crow racist.
Alito and his ilk not only believe that personal racism is a constitutional right, but that racism from the state is a fundamental right as well.

The party of Abraham Lincoln has become the party of Jefferson Davis.

This is an Interesting Sociological Data Point

Every few days, I check my spam folder.

Over the past few days, from late last week until about 5 minutes ago, EVERYTHING in the spam folder was thermometer spam.

Clearly, the low rate scammers have focused on the corona virus.

Come to think of it, so have the billionaire scammers on Wall Street.

27 April 2020

There Needs to be an Independent and Aggressive Investigation of the Biden Allegations

First, Tara Reade alleged that Joe Biden had sexually assaulted her.

Then we had reports from her brother and a fellow Congressional staffer (still anonymous) saying that she had related the alleged incident to them contemporaneously in 1993.

THEN we have what appears to be a call from her mother to Larry King in 1993 referring to this incident.

Now, we have a neighbor, one who says that she is voting for Joe Biden anyway, has announced that she was told about the alleged incident to them in 1993.

This allegation, while not definitive, is clearly credible, and bears an independent and aggressive investigation:
In March, when a former aide to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accused the candidate of sexually assaulting her in 1993, two people came forward to say that the woman, Tara Reade, had told them of the incident shortly after it allegedly occurred — her brother, Collin Moulton, and a friend who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Now two more sources have come forward to corroborate certain details about Reade's claims. One of them — a former neighbor of Reade's — has told Insider for the first time, on the record, that Reade disclosed details about the alleged assault to her in the mid-1990s.

"This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it," Lynda LaCasse, who lived next door to Reade in the mid-'90s, told Insider.

The other source, Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in the office of a California state senator in the mid-'90s, told Insider that she recalls Reade complaining at the time that her former boss in Washington, DC, had sexually harassed her, and that she had been fired after raising concerns.
 These allegations are now unequivocally credible.

Good News in Copyright

It was a 5-4 decision, with the votes nearly evenly distributed between the liberal and the conservative wings of the court, which shows that IP maximalism is a bipartisan endeavor:
A narrowly divided US Supreme Court on Monday upheld the right to freely share the official law code of Georgia. The state claimed to own the copyright for the Official Code of Georgia, Annotated, and sued a nonprofit called Public.Resource.Org for publishing it online. Monday's ruling is not only a victory for the open-government group, it's an important precedent that will help secure the right to publish other legally significant public documents.

"Officials empowered to speak with the force of law cannot be the authors of—and therefore cannot copyright—the works they create in the course of their official duties," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in an opinion that was joined by four other justices on the nine-member court.

Everyone involved in the case agreed that the text of state statutes could not be copyrighted. But the state of Georgia argued that it could copyright annotations that are distributed with the official code. These annotations provide supplemental information about the law, including summaries of judicial opinions, information about legislative history, and citations to relevant law review articles. The annotations are produced by a division of legal publishing giant LexisNexis under a work-for-hire contract with the state.

The copyright status of the annotated code matters because the state doesn't publish any other official version. You can get an unofficial version of state law for free from LexisNexis' website, but LexisNexis' terms of service explicitly warned users that it might be inaccurate. The company also prohibits users from scraping the site's content or using it commercially. If you need the official, up-to-date version of Georgia state law, you have to pay LexisNexis hundreds of dollars for a copy of the official version—which includes annotations.

Public.Resource.Org defied Georgia's rules and published the entire code, including annotations, on its website. The group argued that as an official document of the state legislature, it couldn't be protected by copyright. The state sued and won at the trial court level. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and sided with the non-profit. In an unorthodox move, the people at PRO urged the Supreme Court to review the case, even though doing so could reverse their appellate win, because they wanted to set a nationwide precedent.

The group's gamble paid off—but just barely. Five justices bought PRO's argument that Georgia's official code was in the public domain. Four justices dissented and would have allowed the Peach State to copyright portions of its official legal code.
IP, both copyright and patent, are a cancer on our economic system, encouraging and extending rent-seeking behaviors (The Sonny Bono Copyright Act*) which interfere with economic efficiency and exacerbates inequality.

When vetting the next SCOTUS nominee, their record on IP needs to be under a microscope.

*It's literally Mickey Mouse legislation.

There is No Place for Progressives in the Democratic Party

One of the reasons that Bernie Sanders has suspended, rather then ended, his campaign, is because, as he has explicitly stated, he wants a sufficient number of delegates to be able to submit motions on Democratic Party rules.

It appears that the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is unwilling to even deal with concessions as minor as keeping "super-delegates" out of the first ballot, which is honestly is about the only thing that Sanders would get passed, so they canceled the New York State Democratic Presidential primary to ensure that Sanders will have insufficient votes to submit motions on party rules and the platform.

It is patently clear that the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) sees Donald Trump as their opponent, and progressives as the enemy.

It's the Iron Law of Institutions, "The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution "fail" while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to "succeed" if that requires them to lose power within the institution."

There is no single action more calculated to drive people who are undecided about whether to vote 3rd party or write in Stephen Colbert (I'm leaning toward Colbert) at this moment, but they have to do it, because hippy punching is an absolute priority of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment).

26 April 2020

Frack You

It also gives the lie to the claim that fracked gas is going to release greenhouse gas emissions:
Findings published today in the journal Science Advances show that oil and gas operations in America's sprawling Permian Basin are releasing methane at twice the average rate found in previous studies of 11 other major U.S. oil and gas regions. The new study was authored by scientists from Environmental Defense Fund, Harvard University, Georgia Tech and the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

"These are the highest emissions ever measured from a major U.S. oil and gas basin. There's so much methane escaping from Permian oil and gas operations that it nearly triples the 20-year climate impact of burning the gas they're producing," said co-author Dr. Steven Hamburg, chief scientist at EDF. "These findings demonstrate the rapidly growing ability of satellite technology to track emissions like these and to provide the data needed by both companies and regulators to know where emissions reductions are needed."

Based on 11 months of satellite data encompassing 200,000 individual readings taken across the 160,000 square-kilometer basin by the European Space Agency's TROPOMI instrument from May 2018 to March 2019, Permian oil and gas operations are losing methane at a rate equal to 3.7% of their gas production. The wasted methane—which is the main component in natural gas—is enough to supply 2 million U.S. households.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, anthropogenic emissions of which cause over a quarter of today's warming. Reducing methane from oil and gas operations is the fastest, most cost-effective way to slow the rate of warming, even as the necessary transition to a net-zero carbon economy continues.
Fracking is not the future, or even a transition path, it's a clear and present danger to the world.

More Mistake Jet Follies

It appears that the Pentagon's solution to problems with the F-35 is to declare that it's not really a problem, or at least not a serious problem.

Cases in point, the F-35 will literally melt the back of the plane if it spends more than about a minute at supersonic speed, and the response is to remove this as a requirement:
An issue that risks damage to the F-35’s tail section if the aircraft needs to maintain supersonic speeds is not worth fixing and will instead be addressed by changing the operating parameters, the F-35 Joint Program Office told Defense News in a statement Friday.

The deficiency, first reported by Defense News in 2019, means that at extremely high altitudes, the U.S. Navy’s and Marine Corps’ versions of the F-35 jet can only fly at supersonic speeds for short bursts of time before there is a risk of structural damage and loss of stealth capability.

The problem may make it impossible for the Navy’s F-35C to conduct supersonic intercepts.

“This issue was closed on December 17, 2019 with no further actions and concurrence from the U.S. services,” the F-35 JPO statement read. “The [deficiency report] was closed under the category of ‘no plan to correct,’ which is used by the F-35 team when the operator value provided by a complete fix does not justify the estimated cost of that fix.
This is what happens when you have a deeply corrupt and completely dysfunctional acquisition process.

But wait, there's more:
The F-35 Joint Program Office has put in place stopgap fixes for five key technical flaws plaguing America’s top-end fighter jet, but the problems have not been completely eliminated.

Last June, Defense News reported exclusive details about 13 major technical issues, known as category 1 deficiencies, impacting the F-35. The JPO has since quietly downgraded five of those issues to the lesser category 2.

A category 1 deficiency is defined as a shortfall that could cause death, severe injury or illness; could cause loss or damage to the aircraft or its equipment; critically restricts the operator’s ability to be ready for combat; prevents the jet from performing well enough to accomplish primary or secondary missions; results in a work stoppage at the production line; or blocks mission-critical test points.

In comparison, a category 2 deficiency is of lesser concern — something that requires monitoring, but not something that should impact operations.

But downgrading the category doesn’t mean the problems are solved, said Dan Grazier, who tracks military issues for the Project on Government Oversight.


The ALIS sovereign data transfer solution does not meet information assurance requirements.


Incorrect inventory data for complex assemblies continues to result in grounding conditions.


The F-35B and F-35C experienced incongruous lateral and longitudinal control response above a 20-degree angle of attack.

One of the most eye-opening issues identified in the initial report was that the F-35B and F-35C models used by the Marine Corps and Navy become difficult to control when operating above a 20-degree angle of attack — which would be seen in the extreme maneuvers a pilot might use in a dogfight or while avoiding a missile.

Pilots reported the aircraft experiencing unpredictable changes in pitch, as well as erratic yaw and rolling motions when coming in at that angle of attack


There were unanticipated thrust limits in jetborne flight on hot days.
That last one could cause the lost of an aircraft executing a vertical landing.

You can get a good summary from POGO, but the bottom line is that the aircraft is not combat ready.

25 April 2020

America's Finest News Source

Federal Reserve To Infuse Wall Street With $500 Billion Worth Of Cocaine
The Onion
The full broadcast is below:

Drip, Drip, Drip………

It appears that Tara Reade’s late mother called into Larry King about her alleged assault in 1993, roughly contemporaneously with the alleged facts.

I am still not convinced of the veracity of Ms. Reade's claims, but I am far more credulous of her accusations following the emergence of this call into king's show.

Anyone in the #MeToo community who is not demanding a rigorous and independent investigation at this time is a hypocrite, period, full stop:
A new piece of evidence has emerged buttressing the credibility of Tara Reade’s claim that she told her mother about allegations of sexual harassment and assault related to her former boss, then-Sen. Joe Biden. Biden, through a spokesperson, has denied the allegations. Reade has claimed to various media outlets, including The Intercept, that she told her mother, a close friend, and her brother about both the harassment and, to varying degrees of detail, the assault at the time. Her brother, Collin Moulton, and her friend, who has asked to remain anonymous, both confirmed that they heard about the allegations from Reade at the time. Reade’s mother died in 2016, but both her brother and friend also confirmed Reade had told her mother, and that her mother, a longtime feminist and activist, urged her to go to the police.

In interviews with The Intercept, Reade also mentioned that her mother had made a phone call to “Larry King Live” on CNN, during which she made reference to her daughter’s experience on Capitol Hill. Reade told The Intercept that her mother called in asking for advice after Reade, then in her 20s, left Biden’s office. “I remember it being an anonymous call and her saying my daughter was sexually harassed and retaliated against and fired, where can she go for help? I was mortified,” Reade told me.

Reade couldn’t remember the date or the year of the phone call, and King didn’t include the names of callers on his show. I was unable to find the call, but mentioned it in an interview with Katie Halper, the podcast host who first aired Reade’s allegation. After the podcast aired, a listener managed to find the call and sent it to The Intercept.

On August 11, 1993, King aired a program titled, “Washington: The Cruelest City on Earth?” Toward the end of the program, he introduces a caller dialing in from San Luis Obispo, California. Congressional records list August 1993 as Reade’s last month of employment with Biden’s Senate office, and, according to property records, Reade’s mother, Jeanette Altimus, was living in San Luis Obispo County. Here is the transcript of the beginning of the call:
KING: San Luis Obispo, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.

KING: In other words, she had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?

CALLER: That’s true.

King’s panel of guests offered no suggestions, and instead the conversation veered into a discussion of whether any of the men on set would leak damaging personal information about a rival to the press.
The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) wanted Joe Biden in the worst possible way, and now it appears that the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) got Joe Biden in the worse possible way.

Bad Day at the Office

Someone caught the VERY hard landing of an Mi-26:

Small Acts of Heroism

The Wages of Evil are Pretty Good
Some publicly minded hero just removed the moorings from Betsy DeVos' $40 million yacht in an act of well-justified retribution for the evil that she is doing.

There wasn't a whole bunch of damage, only $5-10,000.00, but I wholeheartedly approve:
A boat owned by the family of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was vandalized over the weekend while moored at a Huron dock, according to the Huron Police Department.

The Seaquest was moored at the Huron Boat Basin, 330 Main St., according to a police report. The captain of the 163-foot yacht, worth a reported $40 million, called police at about 6 a.m. Sunday, telling them that he and the crew realized at sunrise that someone had untied Seaquest from the dock, setting it adrift.

The crew eventually got control of the yacht, but not before it struck the dock, causing an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 in damage from large scratches and scrapes, according to the police report.
Normally, I am opposed to acts of vandalism as political protest, but normally vandalism as an act of protest tends to hit innocent bystanders.

This didn't.

This is F%$#ing Evil

It looks like a bipartisan group of lawmakers are lobbying to allow payday lenders to make bailout loans, because campaign donations don't grow on trees, and predatory lenders are reliable campaign contributors:
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pressing the Trump administration to let payday lenders gain access to small business rescue money, going to bat for companies that have been accused of engaging in predatory behavior toward lower-income people.

The move comes as officials try to quell public criticism by stopping hedge funds and publicly traded companies from benefiting from the program, which is designed to avert massive job losses and resumes on Monday after running out of funds because of high demand.

In a letter signed by 24 House Republicans and four Democrats, lawmakers asked the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration to open up Paycheck Protection Program loan applications to "small-size nonbanks," including installment lenders and so-called community development financial institutions, which focus their lending on underserved populations.

Payday lenders weren't explicitly mentioned, but a spokesperson for Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), one of the lawmakers who led the letter, confirmed the intent was to include them in the request.

In the letter sent Thursday, the House members said the companies provide their constituents with access to financial services and have been deemed "essential" businesses allowed to stay open amid stay-at-home orders. They said that many have fewer than 500 employees and that they don't plan to offer Paycheck Protection Program loans to their customers.
Included in this group are Democrats Henry Cuellar and Collin Peterson, plus 2 other Democrats not named in the article.

Cuellar and Peterson are some of the worst Democrats in Congress, and they should be hung out to dry over this.

24 April 2020

Tweet of the Day

One month ago, Wes Clark, Jr. wondered when Donald Trump would suggest that people drink bleach to protect from Covid-19.

This is truly a Nostra-dumbass moment.

Fire Dean Banquet

Donald Trump says that people should drink, inhale, or inject household disinfectants to prevent Covid-19 infection.

The initial response of the New York Times was to write that "some experts" found this dangerous.

No, anyone with two brain cells to rub together gets that this is dangerous.

Even if this was not the result of an edict from Dean Banquet, the editor-in-chief of the Times, this is clearly a product of the (toxic) newsroom culture that that he has inculcated there.

This Is Why We Should Piss on Robert Bork's Grave

Robert Bork, and a collection of self-interested capitalists, rewrote antitrust law by buying the (rather small) academic antitrust law community.

Bork supplied the intellectual masturbation that has always served as a cover for the corporatist agenda.

It took anti-trust from an effort to regulate the abuse of corporate power to a a lord of the flies scenario where only an immediate increase in consumer prices was the only justification for limiting corporate power.

Amazon is the bastard child of this policy, and in what is one of the best examples of abuse of monopoly power, the online retailer used its extensive data collected from the 3rd party sellers it serves to launch competing products.

This is directly analogous to John D. Rockefeller's owning all the oil tanker rolling stock in the United States to control the market:
Amazon.com Inc. employees have used data about independent sellers on the company’s platform to develop competing products, a practice at odds with the company’s stated policies.

The online retailing giant has long asserted, including to Congress, that when it makes and sells its own products, it doesn’t use information it collects from the site’s individual third-party sellers—data those sellers view as proprietary.

Yet interviews with more than 20 former employees of Amazon’s private-label business and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal reveal that employees did just that. Such information can help Amazon decide how to price an item, which features to copy or whether to enter a product segment based on its earning potential, according to people familiar with the practice, including a current employee and some former employees who participated in it.

In one instance, Amazon employees accessed documents and data about a bestselling car-trunk organizer sold by a third-party vendor. The information included total sales, how much the vendor paid Amazon for marketing and shipping, and how much Amazon made on each sale. Amazon’s private-label arm later introduced its own car-trunk organizers.

“Like other retailers, we look at sales and store data to provide our customers with the best possible experience,” Amazon said in a written statement. “However, we strictly prohibit our employees from using nonpublic, seller-specific data to determine which private label products to launch.”

Amazon said employees using such data to inform private-label decisions in the way the Journal described would violate its policies, and that the company has launched an internal investigation.
Break it up now.

Responsible Performers, How Do They F%$#Ing Work

There are performers out there live for their live shows, and whose fans also live for their live shows.

If you were to ask someone to name a band that fits this criteria, the first band most people would list would be The Grateful Dead.

The second band that comes to mind is Insane Clown Possee, and they just canceled this year's ICP gathering to protect their health.

Good for them. Lord knows that this cannot be cheap for them:
It's a bummer to have to report on all the stuff that's getting postponed, which is why it brings us no joy to add this to the sadness pile:

The annual Gathering of the Juggalos is canceled until 2021 due to the coronavirus. While that shouldn't surprise anyone at this point, it's worth talking about what this does to the Juggalos. For the unfamiliar, the Juggalos are a group of people united in their love for the band Insane Clown Posse and discount soda. Over the years, and in response to the FBI's unfair gang designation, they've taken a Fast & Furious "It's all about family" approach in describing their group.


This festival is quite a big deal to the Juggalo community. They don't waste time trying to bring it to New York or Los Angeles, instead choosing the Midwest as its hosting grounds like a trailer park Coachella (Not an insult BTW). That makes it even more impressive that The Gathering has been able to land some of the performers it has over the years (Ice Cube ain't cheap.).


What's of note here is that Juggalos tend to be blue-collar (or no collar) workers. The same type of people you may have noticed getting crapped on extra hard by current events. So while we really couldn't give a shit about some rich silicon valley douche missing out on this year's Burning Man, this kind of hits a little different.

The Gathering of the Juggalos is an independent event -- they don't have corporate sponsors telling them that they have to cancel anything. It seems like they're genuinely doing this out of love for their Juggalo family. The tweet from ICP leaves us with a final uplifting message from Fred Fury, "You can't replace what you mean to our team. Without you, tell me where the f%$# we'd be?"
(%$# mine)

This is f%$# load more concern for these people than their employers would ever show.

23 April 2020

Reality Has a Well Known Liberal Bias

Someone finally did a comprehensive catalogue of the sparse research on gun safety, so now, despite the best efforts of the NRA and Congressional Republicans to shut down testing, we have the the beginnings of a knowledge base on fun safety:

Gun control discussions often get mired in competing academic claims regarding the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of various policy options.

Do concealed carry laws increase violent crime or make communities safer? Do assault weapon bans reduce mass shootings or do they have no effect? Do background checks reduce homicides and suicides or are they ineffective?

With so many disparate findings swirling about, it can be difficult to determine where the balance of evidence lies. But a report from Rand Corp., a nonprofit think tank, has distilled reams of gun policy research published since 1995 to tease out the scholarly consensus.


Not all academic studies are created equal. Many simply show correlations between various phenomena — links between assault weapon bans and mass shootings, for instance, or between suicide rates and gun purchasing habits. Such research can be useful when higher-quality data isn’t available.

But policymaking requires higher-caliber evidence, from studies that go beyond simple correlations to demonstrate a causal effect. Distinguishing those studies from less-powerful ones was one of the chief objectives of the Rand report.


They narrowed down thousands of studies to those that met high standards for causal evidence — just 123 of them since 1995. Taken together, this research yielded a number of conclusions.

First, there was a clear consensus (indicated by three or more high-quality studies in agreement) that stand-your-ground laws, which allow people to use guns to defend themselves in public even if retreating is an option, result in higher overall rates of gun homicide. The higher rates aren’t simply from “bad guys” getting shot; the research shows the additional deaths created by stand-your-ground laws far surpass the documented cases of defensive gun use in the United States.

There was also a broad consensus that child access prevention laws, which set requirements for how guns must be stored at home, are effective in reducing self-inflicted gun injuries among children and adults.

No other policy realm showed the clear scholarly consensus as did stand-your-ground and child access prevention, although there were a number of cases in which the research yielded more moderate evidence of a policy’s effect, by way of two or more high-quality studies in agreement.
This could be a basis for common sense gun laws, which is why the NRA has strenuously opposed any funding for studies for decades.

It's the Little Things

I would not have thought that a minor change to KC-135 wiper blades can improve fuel efficiency by over 1%:
The U.S. Air Force has discovered that vertically mounted wiper blades on the KC-135 Stratotanker reduce aircraft drag by about 1% during cruise conditions, potentially saving the service $7 million annually in fuel costs.

The wiper blades on the Boeing KC-135 traditionally are positioned horizontally on the windshield as part of the original 1950s-era design. As aviation aerodynamics research later indicated, placing wipers vertically when not in use could improve aerodynamic efficiency.


The team used a KC-135 from Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Ohio for comprehensive airframe ground testing. A computational fluid dynamics model revealed a reduction in drag of 0.8% for repositioning the blade vertically and 0.2% for a slimmer wiper design. After collecting sufficient data, the team is ready to begin airworthiness testing and certify the updated design with the FAA.
First, I find this intensely amusing, and second, why did it take until 75 years into the jet age to discover this?

I Can't Even

I don't know why centrist Democrats hate progressives more than they hate Donald Trump, but it is clear that they are willing to destroy themselves to troll progressives.

Case in point is the public admission that the Biden campaign is consulting with Larry Summers on the economy.

It appears that the whole "Own the Libs" shtick is something that is shared by both Republicans and centrists.

Why else hire a glib, obnoxious, incompetent, (Obama stimulus, repealing Glass Steagall) and corrupt (Andrei Shleifer) lightning rod.

It's pretty clear that the self-declared "Adults in the room" simply aren't:
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is advising Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on economic policy, including its plans to revive the U.S. economy after the coronavirus pandemic, according to five people familiar with his involvement.

The Obama and Clinton administration veteran’s role will likely roil progressives who view his past work on the 2009 recovery as too favorable to big banks. That’s awkward for the Biden campaign at a time when it is trying to win the trust of former supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Summers was the first name on the “Biden do not reappoint list” published last month by the American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner, who wrote that Summers in 2009 “not only lowballed the necessary economic stimulus and ended it prematurely, but he successfully fought for rescuing the biggest banks rather than taking them into temporary receivership.”


Opposition from the left kept Summers from being nominated for Federal Reserve Chairman by President Barack Obama in September 2013, when a handful of Senate Democrats, including Warren, Sherrod Brown, Jon Tester and Jeff Merkley, complained to the White House that he was too lax on financial regulation. Summers withdrew his name from consideration after weeks of debate within the White House about a possibly difficult confirmation fight.
I would note that Jon Tester is one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, as well as being from one of the most conservative states to have a Democratic Senator.

This is a stupid and self-destructive, but hell, stupid and self-destructive seems to be what passes for  Democratic Party branding, I guess.

Another 4.4 Million Initial Jobless Claims

That comes to about 27 million initial claims over the past 5 weeks, and an unemployment rate something north of 15%.

We are going to be seeing an unemployment rate in excess of 25% by the end of June:
An additional 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week adding to a total of over 26 million since the coronavirus pandemic shut down swaths of the US and brought its economy to a standstill.

The latest Department of Labor figures show the pace of layoffs appears to have slowed slightly but a backlog of claims mean millions more are likely to file in the coming weeks. States across the country are encountering problems with the sheer number of people applying for unemployment benefits.
This is not going to be pretty.

22 April 2020

Subhed of the Day

The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.
—George Packer in The Atlantic
The United States is a 3rd nation with lots of billionaires.

The Washington Generals of ……… Well ……… Washington

I swear, the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) plays to lose.

In the most recent abomination, Democrats have completely folded to Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump in the latest pandemic stimulus package, where (I sh%$ you not) the Democrats are claiming victory because they got additional funding for testing.


Calling this a victory, or even a meaningful negotiation is delusional:
Progressive groups are outraged with the nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus rescue package the Senate passed on Tuesday, urging House Democrats to oppose the “pathetic” deal they say doesn’t come close to providing the relief vulnerable people need while giving away all Democratic leverage for future legislation.

The “Phase 3.5” bill, which is expected to sail through the House this week, left out almost everything Democratic leaders were advocating for. There’s no additional funding for state and local governments, no expanded food stamp benefits, no hazard pay for front-line workers, nor money for the U.S. Postal Service, which had all been basic Democratic priorities. The lack of progressive opposition in Congress has been
The Democrats control the house, and over the past 15 months, they have spent their time doing nothing but passing feel-good that will never get a vote in the Senate.

This is a recipe guaranteed to depress voter enthusiasm and voter turnout for the Democratic Party.
especially noteworthy, after members of the progressive caucus promised to help make future legislation more comprehensive following the hastily passed Phase 3 bill.

OK, This is Important

I am not an epidemiologist, but the fact that the first Covid-19 death occurred 3 weeks earlier and about 800 miles south of the Seattle nursing home that was supposed to be where this started in the US is a significant development.

This particularly true given that these cases almost certainly had to be community transmission:
Officials in Santa Clara County, Calif., announced late Tuesday that two residents there died of the coronavirus in early and mid-February, making them the earliest known victims of the pandemic in the United States.

The new information may shift the timeline of the virus’s spread through the country weeks earlier than previously believed.

The first report of a coronavirus-related death in the United States came on Feb. 29 in the Seattle area, although officials there later discovered that two people who had died Feb. 26 also had the virus.

But Santa Clara County officials said that autopsies of two people who died at their homes on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17 showed that the individuals were infected with the virus. The presence of the disease Covid-19 was determined by tissue samples and was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, county health officials said in a statement.


Dr. Cody said the individuals who died in February did not have any known travel histories that would have exposed them to the virus, which first appeared in China. They are presumed to have contracted the virus in the community, she said.
I don't know what this means, but I'm pretty sure that this means a lot.

Nancy Pelosi's Gift Just Keeps on Giving

It turns out that Nancy Pelosi's under qualified pick to monitor the Federal Reserve's bailout programs, Donna Shalala, somehow or other managed to forget to report her stock transactions as required by federal law.

And this woman is supposed to supervise the most powerful central bank in the world?
Miami Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala, the lone House Democrat on the committee set up to oversee $500 billion in taxpayer money being used for coronavirus-related payouts to large businesses, violated federal law when she failed to disclose stock sales while serving in Congress.

Shalala told the Miami Herald on Monday she sold a variety of stocks throughout 2019 to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest after she was elected to Congress in November 2018. But the transactions were not publicly reported as required by the STOCK Act, a 2012 law that prohibits members of Congress and their employees from using private information gleaned from their official positions for personal benefit and requires them to report stock sales and purchases within 45 days.

Shalala’s office said the congresswoman and her financial adviser made a mistake.

Shalala, the former head of the Department of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, is in the process of setting up a blind trust for her assets, and transactions made within a blind trust without a lawmaker’s knowledge are not required to be disclosed. But the blind trust isn’t finalized, meaning any transactions would need to be made public.
While acknowledge her political skills, on policy, there is literally nothing on policy that Pelosi won't make a dog's breakfast of.

I have come to the conclusion is not that Madam Speaker is not a fachidiot, someone whose expertise in one area is mirrored by incompetence in unrelated areas, but that this is intentional.

She wants no meaningful change nor any accountability as it applies to the rich and powerful.

Genocide is the Goal of Missionaries

Even if the inevitable plagues that evangelizing clerics bring to isolated indigenous tribes don't wipe them out, it is the goal of missionaries to destroy the culture and way of life of these people.

It has been the not particularly subtle policy Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to practice genocide against Brazilian first peoples, witness his appointment of a former missionary to head the country's missionary protection agency.

Well, now a judge has ruled that the plague ridden missionaries have to stay out of indigenous reserves.

A Brazilian judge has banned a group of Christian missionaries from entering a vast Amazon indigenous reserve with the world’s highest concentration of isolated tribes, citing risks from the coronavirus pandemic as one of his reasons.

Indigenous leaders and activists hailed the decision as “historic” and expressed hope that it could prevent a genocide in the Javari valley, a remote reserve the size of Austria on Brazil’s western borders.

“Facing with this new coronavirus pandemic we wanted to guarantee the rights of indigenous people to isolation,” said Eliesio Marubo, an indigenous lawyer who sought the ruling on behalf of Javari’s indigenous association Univaja.

Federal judge Fabiano Verli banned three missionaries, Andrew Tonkin, Josiah McIntyre and Pastor Wilson de Benjamin, from the reserve, along with the controversial missionary group New Tribes Mission of Brazil which recently bought a helicopter to convert isolated peoples in the region.

The judge referred to recent articles about isolated groups’ vulnerability to common diseases that decimated their populations in the past and authorised police and army to expel any of the missionaries found in the reserve. Brazil has so far seen three confirmed Covid-19 deaths among its indigenous population.
These missionaries would rather see 90% of these people dead if the remainder were baptized, so keep them away forever.

Fox Privilege

This is Shallow Beyond Belief
The folks at Fox News are in a tizzy over Donald Trump's proposal to suspend green cards, because they will not be able to find immigrants to exploit as their au pairs, and that would an unimaginable horror.

For people who are making something north of ½ million a year, perhaps paying a fair wage for child care is not an unreasonable sacrifice:
Last night, Trump sounded like he thought he had finally found an answer to dealing with the coronavirus. No, not better testing or more PPE but an immigration ban. He tweeted, “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

This morning, cohost Ainsley Earhardt briefly acknowledged that farmers rely on immigrants. Then she launched what looked like a direct plea to Trump, who never seems to let the pandemic interfere with his TV watching:

EARHARDT: Many families here, including mine, we have au pairs, and we rely on them. I go to work at three o’clock in the morning, so I need her there and I need her in my house so that she can help me with my daughter. So, many families rely on child care from other countries. These au pairs come here on work visas, they have to go back to their country to get the visas renewed, and we've been talking in my house about how that's going to happen. So, these are all things, these are questions that we have that, hopefully the president will roll out a plan and we'll all be informed on how this is going to affect all of our lives.

Apparently, when it comes to their own and their pals' homes, these Trumpers don’t care so much about America first.
The selfishness and hypocrisy is stunning.

21 April 2020

This is Truer than Taxes

Today, there’s a broad consensus that neoliberalism is making work more precarious. Indeed, for four decades and more, successive governments in developed countries have passed various measures to flexibilize the labor market. These measures increasingly allow businesses to use fixed-term contracts with a definite end date. Added to these are other measures that make it easier for employers to lay off staff.

In France, for instance, the creation of interim contracts dates back to 1972. This was meant to make it possible to substitute one member of staff with another in exceptional cases. Yet, over the years, it has become an instrument of flexibility in the hands of employers. When a company sees its levels of activity falling, it can choose not to renew temporary contracts. In so doing, it can get rid of some of its employees without having to enter a long and risky collective redundancy process.

In his famous book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, Guy Standing concludes that it is no longer appropriate just to speak of a division in society between workers and capitalists. What we are instead seeing, Standing argues, is the emergence of a precariat underneath the old proletariat.


It is clear that their precarious status undermines trade unions. Temporary workers are reticent about unionizing, for they fear that it means their contracts won’t be renewed. Precarity gradually eats into the unions’ own ranks: in some companies, the core of stable workers is gradually replaced by temporary ones. There are not no conflicts involving precarious workers. But they are relatively rare.

For some, like Standing, precarity also has other malign effects — with the rise of far-right populism in Europe and the United States counting among its direct consequences. For want of any real alternative, the destabilization of the popular classes would, it seems, drive them to look for scapegoats among those even more precarious than they are: migrants, the unemployed, LGBT people, and so on.

Yet by no means is this division — the separation of workers into a multitude of different statuses — actually something new. It has existed in various forms throughout the history of capitalism. We could even say that it is functional to capitalism’s very dynamic. Whatever period we look at, we always find that permanent staff coexisted with their temporary counterparts — and that regular employment had to be fought for.
The Permanent and the Temporary

Precarity is, in a sense, inherent to the very nature of employment contracts under capitalism. In principle — at the juridical level — a worker is free to negotiate the price of her own labor power, on an equal footing with her putative employer. According to this liberal conception, the employment relation — whether or not it takes the form of a contract — is thus a commercial transaction between formally equal subjects.


In 1966, it was stipulated that employee-elected works councils should be informed of and consulted about any company restructuring plans, and in 1969, redeployment, early retirement, and redundancy compensation were introduced in order to limit the impact of restructuring. These measures sought to orient the employer toward solutions other than “straight” firings.

The idea of a stable, long-term job is, in fact, something relatively new, when we look at the history of capitalism as a whole. These measures were possible only due to the strength of the labor movement and the strong economic growth of the postwar decades. Once these conditions were gone, stable and long-term jobs in capitalism appeared rather more of a short-term “parenthesis.” Today, employment contracts are less and less associated with a protection from market forces. Both governments and employers use the vocabulary of the individual worker’s “mobility” and “liberty” to justify reforms to flexibilize the labor market.
Whenever capitalists talk about the need to increase flexibility to improve the economy, what they really mean is that they want to make work more precarious as a way of driving down wages and benefits.

Classic Pelosi

There is a congressional committee that is supposed to provide oversight of the Federal Reserve's actions during the bailout.

One of the 3 members is appointed by the Democrats, and Pelosi ignored knowledgeable people who wanted the job and appointed freshmen Congresswoman, corporate stooge, and strike breaker Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), because bailing out rich people and f%$#ing the American worker is a core value of Speaker Pelosi:
For the past week, we’ve watched this absurd spectacle where money is flying out the door of the Federal Reserve bailout programs, and the only person in a position to conduct oversight has nothing more than a Twitter feed. Bharat Ramamurti, the former Elizabeth Warren staffer who I interviewed last week, was until yesterday the only member of the Congressional Oversight Commission, a five-member panel outside of the executive branch (so Donald Trump can’t fire anyone associated with it) charged with monitoring the bailout.

Ramamurti and his tweets have been unusually effective, getting the Fed to agree to publish all transactions that use public funds, and some detailed information. But it’s clear that he needs some help: a staff, an office, and maybe the other four members on the panel to cover what could reach $4.5 trillion in corporate lending.

He got three of them yesterday. Republican leaders in the House and Senate chose nondescript Congressman French Hill (R-AR) and Chamber of Commerce mole Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). The pick to watch was the House Democratic seat. There was no obligation to choose a sitting member of Congress, but Katie Porter (D-CA) was actively seeking the job, and really was the only member actively seeking the job. With deep experience in financial services and demonstrated aptitude with oversight, there was really no better person for the job.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose her friend, freshman Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL).

This is a stunning selection. Shalala, according to sources, had no interest in the job. She has no expertise in the financial industry or the Fed. The two committees that would prepare you for this position are Financial Services and Oversight (Porter sits on both). Shalala sits on Education and Labor and Rules. She’s on the early childhood education subcommittee, so if that ever comes up in discussing the Fed’s corporate bond or high-yield ETF purchases we’re in good shape.

Yes, Shalala was Health and Human Services Secretary. In her public statement, Pelosi highlights that, saying Shalala will “ensure that this historic coronavirus relief package is being used wisely and efficiently to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people, and not be exploited by profiteers and price-gougers.”

But the oversight panel has nothing to do with public health or the pandemic. It’s supposed to examine Federal Reserve lending programs and whether they are assisting the public in economic stabilization and job recovery. These are deliberately complex programs that require for oversight someone with a passing familiarity with the financial system and corporate America. The only expertise Shalala has in all that comes from all the stocks she owns.
I know that Pelosi does a good job of keeping the House Democratic Caucus in line, but she has spent her entire career working for rich people at the expense of the ordinary working people.

Her career needs to end.

Your Mouth to God's Ears

I will believe it when I see it, but I hope that this prediction that the United States will see a period or strikes and labor actions unseen since 1945-1946 is true:
In September 1945, a little-remembered frenzy erupted in the United States. Japan had surrendered, ending World War II, but American meat packers, steelworkers, telephone installers, telegraph operators, and auto assemblers had something different from partying in mind. In rolling actions, they went on strike. After years of patriotic silence on the home front, these workers, along with unhappy roughnecks, lumberjacks, railroad engineers, and elevator operators—some 6 million workers in all—shut down their industries and some entire cities. Mainly, they were seeking higher pay—and they got it, averaging 18% increases.

The era of raucous labor is long past, and worker chutzpah along with it. That is, it was—until now. Desperately needed to staff the basic economy while the rest of us remain secluded from COVID-19, ordinarily little-noticed workers are wielding unusual leverage. Across the country, cashiers, truckers, nurses, burger flippers, stock replenishers, meat plant workers, and warehouse hands are suddenly seen as heroic, and they are successfully protesting. For the previous generation of labor, the goal post was the 40-hour week. New labor’s immediate aims are much more prosaic: a sensible face mask, a bottle of sanitizer, and some sick days.

The question is what happens next. Are we watching a startling but fleeting moment for newly muscular labor? Or, once the coronavirus is beaten, do companies face a future of vocal workers aiming to rebuild lost decades of wage increases and regained influence in boardrooms and the halls of power? For now, at least, some of the country’s most powerful CEOs are clearly nervous. Late last month, Apple, faced with reporters asking about a company decision to furlough hundreds of contract workers without pay, did a quick about-face. Those employees, Apple now said, would receive their hourly wages. A few weeks earlier, after Amazon warehouse workers demanded better benefits during the virus pandemic, that company also reversed course, offering paid sick days and unlimited unpaid time off.


But if companies are responding to those who are protesting, they might also think ahead and preempt festering trouble down the road. “I like to believe people will say, ‘We treat these people as disposable, but they are pretty indispensable. Maybe we should do what we can to recognize their contribution,’” says David Autor, a labor economist at MIT and co-director of the school’s Work of the Future Task Force.


But in 1981, President Ronald Reagan changed all that. Some 12,000 air traffic controllers went on strike, demanding higher pay and a shorter workweek. In a breathtaking decision, Reagan fired all but a few hundred of them. The Federal Labor Relations Authority decertified the controllers’ union entirely. The era of strong labor was over.

In the subsequent age of the no-excuses layoff, the number of major strikes has plunged. Starting in 1947, when the government began keeping such data, there were almost always anywhere from 200 to more than 400 big strikes every year. But in 1982, the year after the air traffic controllers debacle, the number for the first time fell below 100. In 2017, there were just seven. “There was damage to self-esteem every time there was a layoff. It took the militancy out of organized labor, and I don’t think it ever recovered,” Uchitelle says.


The current revival of worker activism precedes COVID-19 in the unlikeliest of places. In 2018, West Virginia teachers, among the lowest paid in the nation and four years without a raise, went on strike for nine days in a demand for higher pay. That they won a 5% increase was one astonishing thing. But the walkout itself was stunning, specifically because of the state where it occurred—a former bedrock of ultra-militant coal miners who had repeatedly gone to actual war for better pay and safety but more recently were a bastion of worker passivity.
I hope that this is true, but if labor keeps supporting politicians who offer their full throated support for destructive labor arbitrage policies, ("Free Trade" deals) then we are going to continue competing with people who work for a dollar an hour in Bangladesh.

20 April 2020

ICANN is a Bitch

After a thinly veiled threat of legal action from the California Attorney General, ICANN has delayed the sale of the .org domain registry.

This is a good thing. It is clear that this deal smells to high heaven:
ICANN, the nonprofit that oversees the Internet's domain name system, has given itself another two weeks to decide whether to allow control of the .org domain to be sold to private equity firm Ethos Capital. The decision comes after ICANN received a blizzard of letters from people opposed to the transaction, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Becerra's letter was significant because ICANN is incorporated in California. That means it's Becerra's job to make sure that ICANN is living up to the commitments in its articles of incorporation, which promise that ICANN will operate "for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole."

Becerra questioned whether ICANN was really doing that. "There is mounting concern that ICANN is no longer responsive to the needs of its stakeholders," he wrote.


California's attorney general pointed to several specific concerns about the transaction. One was the shadowy nature of the proposed buyer, Ethos Capital. "Little is known about Ethos Capital and its multiple proposed subsidiaries," Becerra writes. Ethos Capital, he said, has "refused to produce responses to many critical questions posted by the public and Internet community."

Ethos Capital's plan is to buy the Public Interest Registry (PIR) from its current parent organization, the nonprofit Internet Society. To help finance the sale, Ethos will saddle PIR with $300 million in debt—a common tactic in the world of leveraged buyouts. Becerra warns that this tactic could endanger the financial viability of the PIR—especially in light of the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus.


Becerra ends his letter with a warning: "This office will continue to evaluate this matter, and will take whatever action necessary to protect Californians and the nonprofit community."
This whole thing smells of self-dealing, which is contrary to US non-profit law, California non-profit law, and ICANN's own rules.

Shut it down.

Canada Really Needs to Shut Down Its Southern Border

Because Corona Virus is the least of the dangerous diseases coming from the USA.

Now they are getting mass shootings:
On an overcast Nova Scotia morning, flags fluttered at half-mast and memorials sprouted up like flowers, as families and friends learned of losses, a province grieved, and a country struggled to comprehend the staggering toll of Canada’s deadliest shooting.

RCMP now say there are “in excess of 19 people” dead, and that number is expected to rise further. Police are investigating, and also mourning one of their own, RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson, who was killed in the attack.

“I know this is a challenging time for Nova Scotians and that there are so many unanswered questions,” RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said at a press conference in Dartmouth on Monday. “I want to reassure you that we are working hard to find out as much information as possible in the days and weeks to come. We will be in this for months to come, I am sure.”

The perpetrator, who has been identified by police as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, was shot by police in a gas station parking lot in Enfield, outside Halifax, around noon on Sunday.

In the small community of Wentworth, which lost four residents to the violence, Lisa Owen and Darrol Thurier sat in front of their house on Monday, holding back emotion as they looked down the road toward where their neighbours’ house had been.

The couple who lived in the home, Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins, are missing, their cars torched and their house burned to its foundation.

Human Sacrifice, Dogs and Cats Living Together, Mass Hysteria!

The total theater box office in the United States this past weekend was just 2 movies shown at one drive in theater:
With movie theaters across the country closed for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the weekly box office report is all but a distant memory. But there’s one theater that’s still keeping the weekly box office report alive. A single drive-in theater in Florida was the source of the entire domestic box office this past weekend, showing a whopping two (!) movies to its audience. So if you were missing your weekly box office report, here it is, in extremely barebones form.

The forced temporary shutterings of businesses and movie theaters across has created an unexpected result: the rise of drive-in movie theaters. Once a widely frequented form of moviegoing, the drive-in theater has become an increasing rarity since its heyday in the late 1950s. But now the drive-in theater is seeing a boom in business thanks to the pandemic.

That’s true especially of the Ocala Drive-In in Ocala, Florida: the one source of the domestic box office this past weekend. The weekend box office report on the website The Numbers (via ScreenCrush) showed two new movies playing at one theater in the entire United States last week. The two films, the World War II mime biopic Resistance and the indie psychological thriller Swallow (both from IFC Films) were shown at the Ocala Drive-In in Ocala, Florida, according to journalist Gitesh Pandya, for a grand total box office $33,456.
This is stunning.

I don't even want to think how this effects theater popcorn sales.

Holy Sh%$

Look Out Below
Oil prices, specifically the price of WTI crude, just fell to almost NEGATIVE $40 a barrel today.

Part of this was an artifact of the calendar, futures contracts were coming due, so stockbrokers were facing the possibilities of thousands of gallons of crude oil being pumped into their swimming pools, but this is f%$#ed-up and sh%$.

When you consider the fact that fracking is a particularly expensive way to extract oil, and that the best evidence is that it has never been profitable, there are going to be a whole bunch of eager investors left holding the bag:
Of all the wild, unprecedented swings in financial markets since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, none has been more jaw-dropping than Monday’s collapse in a key segment of U.S. oil trading.

The price on the futures contract for West Texas crude that is due to expire Tuesday fell into negative territory -- minus $37.63 a barrel. The reason: with the pandemic bringing the economy to a standstill, there is so much unused oil sloshing around that American energy companies have run out of room to store it. And if there’s no place to put the oil, no one wants a crude contract that is about to come due.

Underscoring just how acute the concern is over the lack of immediate storage space, the price on the futures contract due a month later settled at $20.43 per barrel. That gap between the two contracts is by far the biggest ever.

“The May crude oil contract is going out not with a whimper, but a primal scream,” said Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian and vice chairman of IHS Markit Ltd.
There is a whole bunch of money from a whole the "smartest people in the world" that just got lit on fire.