30 June 2020

One Candidate Won't Win, and One Candidate Shouldn't Win

The Kentucky primary has now been called, as has the Colorado primary, and Amy McGrath has been declared the victor in Kentucky and John Hickenlooper the victor in Colorado.

McGrath is a hot mess, her performance during the debates, her paralysis over policing protests, and her statements on policy had her almost losing the primary despite raising over $40 million.

Her performance has one longing for the inept Alison Lundergan Grimes who was trounced the last time that McConnell was up for reelection.

Still, with lots of money, I'm sure that the consultants will make bank on this, even if Moscow Mitch remains a cancer on the US Senate.

As to Hickenlooper, this is a man who equated climate change activism and Medicare for All to Stalinism, and demonstrated his fealty to the fossil fuel industry by literally drinking a glass of fracking fluid.

And then there are his ethical and rhetorical lapses.  (He was fined by the state ethics commission)

Colorado has become fairly reliably blue on a statewide level, so Hickenlooper is likely to win, particularly since Corey Gardner is seriously wing-nutty, but, should he win, he will be an impediment to any and all progress on the major issues of the day.

It's Come to This

Congress is looking to returning to fines and imprisonment for witnesses who refuse to testify before oversight committees. (Mostly fines)

This really has not been done in about 75 years, but the increasing assertions of the "Unitary Executive" and the complete capture of the Department of Justice by Donald Trump, leaves only "Inherent Contempt" as alternative:
House Democrats increasingly frustrated by the Trump administration for defying subpoenas are proposing legislation that would ratchet up their power to punish executive branch officials who reject their requests.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), and five other members of the House Judiciary Committee, unveiled a rule change Monday to formalize and expand Congress' power of "inherent contempt" — its authority to unilaterally punish anyone who defies a subpoena for testimony or documents.

Though Congress has long had inherent contempt power, it has been in disuse since before World War II. This power, upheld by courts, has included the ability to levy fines and even jail witnesses who refuse to cooperate with congressional demands.

………

[California Democrat Ted] Lieu's proposal only focuses on monetary penalties. It would establish a process for negotiations between Congress and executive branch officials when disputes arise over testimony and records. The measure would allow federal agencies to lodge objections to congressional requests, and it would permit the president to weigh in and assert any applicable privileges. The measure would also establish a process for holding recalcitrant officials in contempt, including hearings before the full House in which the subject would be permitted to present a defense and would face questions from lawmakers on the House floor.
If the House supports contempt after such a proceeding, it would then vote a second time to impose a financial penalty of up to $25,000. The penalty would be delayed for 20 days to allow for continued negotiations before subsequent penalties may be imposed up to an aggregate of $100,000. The measure would also bar taxpayer dollars from being used to cover any fines assessed through this mechanism.
I would note that while this is rather aggressive by the standards of recent history, but given the level of  disdain shown by recent Presidents in general, and the Trump administration in particular, to Congressional oversight, this is weak tea.

Special Forces, MMA Fighters, Smoke Jumpers, and ……… Thrift Store Owners?


Who knew that people who run thrift stores were complete bad-asses?

Tweet of the Day


I agree on both.

Even if the Russian interference in the 2016 campaign was the most egregious since (checks notes) Winston Churchill in 1940, Clinton lost in 2016, as she did in 2008, because of the incompetence, self-dealing, and corruption of both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment).

Even if China was opaque on Covid-19, and it was, this does not excuse the fact that it was clear that actions needed to be taken by mid January, but the response was run by a bunch people who were dedicated to burning the very idea of government down in addition to being, "A bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes."

A Giant has Left Us

Carl Reiner, whose creative genius is beyond my capability to summarize, has died at the age of 98.

A some of his accomplishments:
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show.
  • The 2000 Year Old Man with Mel Brooks. 
  • Directing The Jerk and 4 other Steve Martin movies.
  • The funniest straight man ever.
  • Fathering the second funniest Reiner, Rob.

29 June 2020

I Think That the Fracking Bubble Has Officially Burst

I have been observing for some time now that the fracking bubble is unsustainable.

Even ignoring the anthropogenic climate change issues,* fracked oil and gas is expensive, and the drop-off on wells is 10 to 20 times that of conventional wells.

Simply put, it's been a game of musical chairs, with investors and executives fobbing debt off on idiots, and they have run out of idiots

Basically, this was looting disguised as the energy industry, as evidenced by spending that would make Dennis Koslowski blush.

The biggest player in the field, Chesapeake Energy, has filed for bankruptcy, and the looting is on full display:
The fracking giant’s bankruptcy filing comes following a financial mess at the company that included no budgets, a massive wine collection and a nine-figure bill for parking garages, sources told CNBC’s David Faber.

CEO Robert D. “Doug” Lawler found in examining the company’s books a $110 million bill for two parking garages, Faber reported Monday. Other revelations include a wine collection in a cave hidden behind a broom closet in the Chesapeake office. Extravagances further included a season ticket package to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder that was the biggest in the league and a lavish campus that was modeled after Duke University, complete with bee keepers, botox treatments and chaplains for employees.
Another big player in fracking, Lilis Energy has filed for bankruptcy as well.

Don't worry about the senior executives who drove the companies into the ground though, they get their multi-million dollar retention bonuses anyway.

We really need to fix our corporate bankruptcy laws.

*Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
Dennis Kozlowski, the former head of Tyco international, who had the company buy him things like art and $6,000 shower curtains.

How the Insane Say, "Hey, You Kids, Get off of My Lawn."


Unreal
In response to a protest marching down the street in front of their house, "Ken and Karen", aka Mark and Patricia McCloskey, came out and pointed guns at the protesters.

I'm not sure why they haven't been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Oh, I forgot. They are white and rich, so the law does not apply to them:
Two years ago, Mark and Patricia McCloskey made local headlines when they raised the curtain on the decades-long renovation of their palatial and historic St. Louis home.

On Sunday, the home was the backdrop of different attention-grabbing scene: Mark brandishing a semiautomatic rifle as protesters en route to the mayor’s home approached nearby. Patricia, a few feet away, was seen pointing a pistol at the crowd, her finger directly on the trigger.

Reaction to photos and videos of the incident was swift: One video had been viewed more than 16 million times and counting as of Monday evening and captured the attention of President Trump, civil rights advocates and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney, who is now investigating the incident.
BTW, while we are talking about insane people, the protest was calling for the mayor to resign, because she read the names and addresses of people calling for police reforms in a press conference, (Doxxing) which was a clear attempt to intimidate people who would be inclined to criticize the police.
The protesters passed the McCloskey’s home on their way to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house a block over. The Democratic mayor had drawn the ire of local activists and civil rights groups days earlier when she publicized the names and addresses of several fellow activists.
FWIW, I'm with the ACLU on this. The mayor's behavior was contemptible:

Yes, the mayor should resign.

This Is Going to Be Ugly

It now appears that office rents in Manhattan are set to fall by more than a quarter.

Considering the leverage of most developers, and the relatively short term of real estate loans, they typically have to be refinanced every 5 years, we are looking at a huge number of bad loans popping up in the not too distant future:
Manhattan’s office rents are likely to plummet to the lowest level since 2012 if the U.S. economy doesn’t recover quickly from the pandemic.

Asking rents could decline 26% to about $62.47 a square foot (roughly $672 per square meter) in a prolonged recession, according to a report from Savills. Rents haven’t fallen to that level since 2012, the real estate services firm said.

………
Savills’ research used indicators that it says are correlated to rental rates, including gross domestic product, unemployment and office vacancies in Manhattan.
Also, there is going to be a f%$# load of work from home which is likely to permanently depress office demand, because literally hundreds of thousands employers have discovered that you don't have to have someone in the office 5 days a week. and that it saves them a fair chunk of change.

Linkage


Moar Cowbell!!

28 June 2020

Today in Savage Book Reviews

Matt Taibbi giving a savage book review is its own reward.

I cannot possibly due justice to it so I will leave you with just this quote:
It takes a special kind of ignorant for an author to choose an example that illustrates the mathematical opposite of one’s intended point, but this isn’t uncommon in White Fragility, which may be the dumbest book ever written. It makes The Art of the Deal read like Anna Karenina.
Go read.

Even if you disagree with the thesis, you will be amused.

A Good Alternative to Wikileaks is Promptly Censored by Twitter

DDoSecrets has been established to facilitate sharing secrets, and Twitter promptly banned them and declared the site a virus risk:
For the past year, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has sat in a London jail awaiting extradition to the US. This week, the US Justice Department piled on yet more hacking conspiracy allegations against him, all related to his decade-plus at the helm of an organization that exposed reams of government and corporate secrets to the public. But in Assange's absence, another group has picked up where WikiLeaks left off—and is also picking new fights.

For roughly the past year and a half, a small group of activists known as Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets, has quietly but steadily released a stream of hacked and leaked documents, from Russian oligarchs' emails to the stolen communications of Chilean military leaders to shell company databases. Late last week, the group unleashed its most high-profile leak yet: BlueLeaks, a 269-gigabyte collection of more than a million police files provided to DDoSecrets by a source aligned with the hacktivist group Anonymous, spanning emails, audio files, and interagency memos largely pulled from law enforcement "fusion centers," which serve as intelligence-sharing hubs. According to DDoSecrets, it represents the largest-ever release of hacked US police data. It may put DDoSecrets on the map as the heir to WikiLeaks' mission—or at least the one it adhered to in its earlier, more idealistic years—and the inheritor of its never-ending battles against critics and censors.

"Our role is to archive and publish leaked and hacked data of potential public interest," writes the group's cofounder, Emma Best, a longtime transparency activist, in a text message interview with WIRED. "We want to inspire people to come forward, and release accurate information regardless of its source."

………

For DDoSecrets, the firefight has already started. On Tuesday evening, as media attention grew around the BlueLeaks release, Twitter banned the group's account, citing a policy that it doesn't allow the publication of hacked information. The company followed up with an even more drastic step, removing tweets that link to the DDoSecrets website, which maintains a searchable database of all of its leaks, and suspending some accounts retroactively for linking to the group's material.

Best says DDoSecrets, an organization with no address and whose shoestring budget runs mostly on donations, is still strategizing a response and the best workaround to publicize its leaks—potentially shifting to Telegram or Reddit—but has no intention of letting the ban halt its work. "'Too dangerous for Twitter' is some Nixonian sh%$ I didn't expect," Best says.
Their superpower here appears to be that they are not assholes, as Assange of Wikileaks is, and that they have some more objective standards.

As to BlueLeaks, it is pretty big deal:
The documents reveal what information the police have on people -- it’s even searchable by police badge number.

The result is shocking.

The leak revealed incidents of the FBI forwarding Tweets they deemed “threatening” to police departments, classifying protest medics and lawyers as “extremists”, and Google providing detailed information about its users on request.
As an aside, even if you do not want to read BlueLeaks, I strongly recommend that you download the file for 2 reasons:
  • Every copy makes it harder to put the genie back into the bottle.
  • The nature of the method of distribution, Bit Torrent, means that if you download the document, you are also make the document more available to other downloaders.

Here is the leak for DDoSecrets, and you can try to access the files driectly from the web site, but this will hammer the site, so I recommend that you download the whole file via Bit Torrent.

Note however that the file is large enough that many Bit Torrent clients will not work, so I would recommend Transmission, and you can download the portable version, which does not require an installation program or admin privileges.

About F%$#ing Time

It looks like Mississippi will be the final state to remove the Confederate emblem from its flag.

It reinforces stereotypes that Mississippi is the last to do this:
Mississippi legislators have voted to replace the state flag, the last in the nation to feature the Confederate battle emblem, which has been condemned as racist.

The state House and the Senate voted to remove the current flag on Sunday and create a commission that will design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words “In God We Trust”. Mississippi governor Tate Reeves has signalled he will sign the measure in the coming days.

The flag’s supporters have resisted efforts to change it for decades, but rapid developments in recent weeks have changed dynamics on this issue in the state, which has a long history of systemic racism and saw more lynchings of African Americans than any other state in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Franco's Misbegotten Spawn


This is not a surprise.  Spain's People’s Party (PP) is a direct successor to Franco's fascists, and sacrificing civilians to political expediency is in their blood:
By the time Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, declared a state of alarm on March 14, the deadly coronavirus had already begun to infiltrate and rip through many of the nursing homes across the nation’s capital. Like sitting ducks, the highest risk members of society didn’t stand a chance.

Thousands died all alone; in Madrid, several were found lifeless in their beds by soldiers who had been drafted to disinfect the area. Many were carted off to the city’s ice rink, by that time converted into a makeshift morgue. Families were unable to say goodbye.

Those in nursing homes lucky enough to avoid the virus have been unable to step out into the world for over three months. The situation has been likened by many to incarceration. The mental and physical toll has been tremendous.

Yet Madrid’s right-wing regional government seems to have washed its hands of the problem, mudslinging in parliament in order to divert the discussion from this tragic situation. Spaniards are indignant at its failings. But now we must examine why elderly people can be so easily discarded, just because they’re no longer contributing to the economy.

………

In Spain, whose healthcare system is decentralized across its seventeen autonomous regions, the overall figure for care home deaths alone is said to be close to twenty thousand — more than double Germany’s entire death toll.

………

Madrid, a region that has been governed by the conservative People’s Party (PP) since 1995, accounts for around 32 percent of the country’s COVID-19 deaths, while representing only 14 percent of its population.

This was no natural disaster. Years of closures and cuts left the region ill-equipped to face the gravest humanitarian crisis to hit the country since the 1936 civil war.

………

The mounting death toll in nursing homes was initially lost in the widespread frenzy and panic that gripped Spain as the infection curve continued to soar. But now the dust has settled — 48 new cases were detected in Spain on Sunday, June 14; a month ago this figure was 849 — and the harrowing truth has emerged.

It has now come to light that the regional health ministry emailed nursing homes across the Madrid region instructing them to prevent patients of a certain condition, or indeed patients over a certain age, from being hospitalized.

Ayuso claims that the original communication was merely a draft that was released “by mistake.”

El País newspaper, however, reports that Carlos Mur de Víu, director general of social and health coordination, sent at least four emails, on March 18, 20, 24, and 25, to the Ministry of Social Policies. These provided the guidance that hospitals and residences followed, ruling out the hospitalization of disabled and elderly patients with COVID-19.

If one “draft” email may indeed have been released in error, Mur de Víu’s actions clearly show the type of strategy that was deployed. As hospitals edged ever closer to the breaking point, it became a matter of survival of the fittest. The voiceless elderly were an easy sacrifice.

………

Ayuso claims that the original communication was merely a draft that was released “by mistake.”

El País newspaper, however, reports that Carlos Mur de Víu, director general of social and health coordination, sent at least four emails, on March 18, 20, 24, and 25, to the Ministry of Social Policies. These provided the guidance that hospitals and residences followed, ruling out the hospitalization of disabled and elderly patients with COVID-19.

………

186 nursing homes in Spain are currently being invested by the public prosecutor’s office — almost half of them in the Madrid region.

………

In a cruel twist, showing once again that social inequality often lasts from the cradle to the grave, it has been reported that elderly people who were able to afford private health insurance were not denied hospital treatment. Íñigo Errejón, leader of Más País, tweeted: “This is the freedom of the neoliberals. You’re left to die if you have no money, you’re allowed to save yourself if you pay. Shameless.”
Franco's bastards.

27 June 2020

American Exceptionalism, Huh?


Considering the origins of policing in the US, slave patrols and suppressing labor unrest, this is not a surprise:
Police in America’s biggest cities are failing to meet even the most basic international human rights standards governing the use of lethal force, a new study from the University of Chicago has found.

Researchers in the university’s law school put the lethal use-of-force policies of police in the 20 largest US cities under the microscope. They found not a single police department was operating under guidelines that are compliant with the minimum standards laid out under international human rights laws.

Among the failings identified by the law scholars, some police forces violate the requirement that lethal force should only be wielded when facing an immediate threat and as a last resort. Some departments allow deadly responses in cases of “escaping suspects”, “fugitives”, or “prevention of crime” – all scenarios that would be deemed to fall well outside the boundaries set by international law.

In other cities, police guidelines failed to constrain officers to use only as much force as is proportionate to the threat confronting them.

Remarkably, the researchers from the law school’s international human rights clinic discovered that none of the 20 police departments were operating under state laws that were in accord with human rights standards.
This is a feature, not a bug.

The role of the police in the United States has never been to, "Protect and Serve," it has been to keep "them" down and generate revenue through fines.

Not a Surprise

Former deputy CIA Director Avril Haines is a major security advisor to the Biden campaign.

She has scrubbed her bio to remove any reference to Palantir, Peter Thiel's surveillance contractor.

To say that Palantir is controversial, given Thiel's prominent position with the right wing, and the firm's function as a cut-out to enable surveillance by the US State Security Apparatus would be an understatement:
In the run-up to the 2020 election, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is putting together a foreign policy team for a potential future administration. Among those described as being part of the team is Avril Haines, former deputy director of the CIA during the Obama administration. According to an NBC News report from last week, Haines has been tapped to work advising on policy, as well as lead the national security and foreign policy team.

In addition to her past national security work and impressive presence in the D.C. think tank world, Haines has in the past described herself as a former consultant for the controversial data-mining firm Palantir. Haines’s biography page at the Brookings Institute, where she is listed as a nonresident senior fellow, boasted of this affiliation until at least last week, when it suddenly no longer appeared on the page.

The nature of the consulting work that Haines did for Palantir is not clear. As of press time, requests for comment to her, the Biden campaign, Palantir, and Brookings were not answered. Prior to being removed from the Brookings page, the connection to the data-mining company was listed alongside a long list of other affiliations that were similarly pared down.

The affiliation — and its apparent disappearance — raises questions for a campaign that has posed itself as the antithesis to President Donald Trump’s far-right governance. Co-founded by a far-right, Trump-supporting tech billionaire, Palantir, whose business has benefited from a slew of government contracts, has been accused of aiding in the Trump administration’s immigration detention programs in the U.S. and helping the Trump administration build out its surveillance state.
Palantir has been profiting off of invading people's privacy for the state since the Bush administration, and anyone having an involvement with the organization should be viewed with a lot of suspicion.
The ties to the Trump administration aren’t the only aspect of Palantir’s history that raises questions. The company has also been accused in the past of plotting to intimidate journalists involved in reporting documents released by WikiLeaks. And Palantir has also provided services to police — another move that appears to put the company out of step with the current political moment. The company also aided the National Security Agency by creating the tools to facilitate worldwide spying.
Haines' involvement with Palantir is problematic when juxtaposed with her prominent position in the Biden campaign.

The decision to scrub her record is even more concerning.

Correlation Is Not Causation, But………

JP Morgan has commissioned a study showing that increased spending on restaurants correlates to increased Coronavirus cases.

This indicates that the hospitality industry may need to be shut down once again:
A surge in restaurant spending appears to predict a surge in coronavirus cases weeks later, a new JPMorgan study found.

The firm analyzed spending by 30 million Chase credit and debit cardholders and coronavirus case data from Johns Hopkins University, and found that spending patterns from a few weeks ago "have some power in predicting where the virus has spread since then," analyst Jesse Edgerton wrote Thursday. The study found that the "level of spending in restaurants three weeks ago was the strongest predictor of the rise in new virus cases over the subsequent three weeks," in line with the firm's recent studies using OpenTable data.

Notably, JPMorgan found that 'card-present' transactions in restaurants (meaning the person was dining in, not ordering online) were "particularly predictive" to a later spread of the virus.

And interestingly, the JPMorgan study also found that increased spending in supermarkets correlated to a slower spread of the virus. Analyst Edgerton wrote that the correlation hints that "high levels of supermarket spending are indicative of more careful social distancing in a state." The firm pointed out that as of three weeks ago, supermarket spending in states like New York and New Jersey, which are now seeing a decrease in cases, was up 20% or more from a year ago, whereas states now seeing a surge like Texas and Arizona saw supermarket spending up less than 10%.

………

Indeed, states that reopened restaurants and bars earlier on are seeing surges in cases. On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that, "At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars," as the state announced it would be closing bars and reducing capacity at restaurants. New cases in Texas have risen over 5,400 as of Thursday. Florida, which has been criticized for reopening quickly, saw new cases spike to nearly 9,000 on Friday, also announcing it will reinstate some restrictions, Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, said in a tweet.
I think that a lot of  "rebound" in the May unemployment report was a recovery in the hospitality industry, and it looks like that is going to reverse.

Grabbing Them by the Pocketbook

With a growing boycott of ads from large advertisers, Facebook is promising half measures to address politically motivated hate speech and lies.

Rather unsurprisingly, given Facebook's affection for right wing conspiracy theorists and racists, these motions are limited to a bland notice.

Hopefully, the advertisers will see through this:
As advertisers pull away from Facebook to protest the social networking giant’s hands-off approach to misinformation and hate speech, the company is instituting a number of stronger policies to woo them back.

In a livestreamed segment of the company’s weekly all-hands meeting, CEO Mark Zuckerberg recapped some of the steps Facebook is already taking, and announced new measures to fight voter suppression and misinformation — although they amount to things that other social media platforms like Twitter have already enacted and enforced in more aggressive ways.

At the heart of the policy changes is an admission that the company will continue to allow politicians and public figures to disseminate hate speech that does, in fact, violate Facebook’s own guidelines — but it will add a label to denote they’re remaining on the platform because of their “newsworthy” nature.

It’s a watered-down version of the more muscular stance that Twitter has taken to limit the ability of its network to amplify hate speech or statements that incite violence.

………

Facebook is also going to take additional steps to restrict hate speech in advertising.

“Specifically, we’re expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re also expanding our policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.”

Zuckerberg’s remarks came days of advertisers — most recently Unilever and Verizon — announced that they’re going to pull their money from Facebook as part the #StopHateforProfit campaign organized by civil rights groups.

Who Had the 2020 over and under on Russian Nuclear Accident?

Sensors in Finland, Sweden, and Norway are detecting a radiation spike consistent with some sort of nuclear accident.

The numbers are low, but something has happened:
Nordic authorities say they detected slightly increased levels of radioactivity in northern Europe this month that Dutch officials said may be from a source in western Russia and may “indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant.”

But Russian news agency TASS, citing a spokesman with the state nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom., reported that the two nuclear power plans in northwestern Russia haven’t reported any problems.

………

The Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish radiation and nuclear safety watchdogs said this week they’ve spotted small amounts of radioactive isotopes harmless to humans and the environment in parts of Finland, southern Scandinavia and the Arctic.

………

But the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands said Friday it analyzed the Nordic data and “these calculations show that the radionuclides (radioactive isotopes) come from the direction of Western Russia.”

“The radionuclides are artificial, that is to say they are man-made. The composition of the nuclides may indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant,” the Dutch agency said, adding that ”a specific source location cannot be identified due to the limited number of measurements.”
The levels are low, and the source has not been identified, but it's 2020, so fasten your seat-belts, we are in for a bumpy ride.

26 June 2020

Objectively Pro-Bigotry and Pro-Fascist


Clearly Fraudulent
I am referring, of course to Facebook.
It turns out that Zuckerberg's monster is complicit in Ben Shapiro's astroturfing to monetize false engagement.

You can be sure that if this were someone selling cheesecake, they would have been banned years ago.

From a more personal perspective, if I were to do this on my blog, I would be demonitized instantly.

In fact, if I were to make a post just SUGGESTING that you click through on the ads on my blog, I would subject to sanctions from Google™ Adsense™.  (Please see my disclaimer below)

I'm not sure if Zuckerberg is a wing-nut, or if he simply finds that it's more profitable to sell whack-doodle conspiracy theories to the wing-nuts, and I don't care.  The effect is the same:
The success of The Daily Wire, the website run by right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro, on Facebook is mind-boggling. The site has a small staff and primarily aggregates content from Twitter and other news outlets. Typically, its articles are very short, usually less than 500 words, and contain no original reporting.

And yet, last month, The Daily Wire was the seventh-ranked publisher on Facebook, according to the analytics service NewsWhip. Articles published in The Daily Wire attracted 60,616,745 engagements in May. Engagement is a combination of shares, likes, and comments, and is a way of quantifying distribution on Facebook. The reach of The Daily Wire's articles was equal to the New York Times (60,722,727) and more than the Washington Post (49,219,525).

But that actually understates how well The Daily Wire does on Facebook. While the New York Times published 15,587 articles in May, and the Washington Post published 8,048, The Daily Wire published just 1,141. On a per article basis, The Daily Wire receives more distribution than any other major publisher. And it's not close.

What explains The Daily Wire's phenomenal success on Facebook? Popular Information revealed part of the answer last October. But the full story is much darker.

Popular Information has discovered a network of large Facebook pages — each built by exploiting racial bias, religious bigotry, and violence — that systematically promote content from The Daily Wire. These pages, some of which have over 2 million followers, do not disclose a business relationship with The Daily Wire. But they all post content from The Daily Wire ten or more times each day. Moreover, these pages post the exact same content from The Daily Wire at the exact same time.

The undisclosed relationship not only helps explain The Daily Wire's unlikely success on Facebook but also appears to violate Facebook's rules.

………

The network of large Facebook pages promoting The Daily Wire are all run by Corey and Christy Pepple, who are best known as the creators of Mad World News. Facebook pages controlled by the Pepples include Mad World News (2,176,003 followers), The New Resistance (2,857,876 followers), Right Stuff (610,809 followers), America First (577,753 followers), and American Patriot (447,799 followers).

………

Why do these toxic Facebook pages keep sharing content from The Daily Wire? Do the Pepples just really like Ben Shapiro's site? The Daily Wire did not respond to a request for comment. But the behavior of these pages strongly suggests that The Daily Wire and Mad World News, LLC, the company owned by Corey and Christy Pepple, have a business relationship.

The Daily Wire is the only website outside of those owned by the Pepples that is shared by these five pages. And each of the five Facebook pages shares at least ten Daily Wire links every day. Conspicuously, the Facebook pages share the exact same links from The Daily Wire at the exact same time.

………

The pattern repeats over and over again, ten times or more every day. It's behavior that strongly suggests that Mad World News, LLC is being paid to promote content from The Daily Wire.
If that's the case, The Daily Wire could be violating Facebook's rules. Facebook allows pages to be paid to post content, but the sponsorship must be disclosed using Facebook's branded content tool.

………

The activity also appears to violate Facebook's prohibition on coordinated inauthentic behavior, which includes a ban on activity to "artificially boost the popularity of content."

………

There is no reason that the network of Facebook pages run by Corey and Christy Pepple should have flown beneath Facebook's radar. Years ago, the Pepples became notorious for exploiting Facebook with poisonous content.

………

The Daily Wire's apparent business relationship with Mad World News isn't the first time the site has been caught flouting Facebook's rules. Last October, Popular Information revealed a clandestine network of 14 large Facebook pages that purported to be independent but exclusively promote content from The Daily Wire in a coordinated fashion.

………

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a relationship with Shapiro, who Zuckerberg has hosted at his home. According to a source who has spoken with Shapiro, Zuckerberg and Shapiro remain in direct communication.
My standard disclaimer on any post about the aforementioned service applies:
Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google™ Adsense™.

Nature Cannot Be Fooled

The good little Neoliberals in Chile decided to increase forestation and offset carbon emissions by paying loggers to plant forests.

This program achieved none of its goals:
A multi-decade state program to subsidize tree planting in one of South America’s wealthiest nations led to a loss of biodiversity and did little to increase the forests’ capacity to capture greenhouse gases.

Chile’s plantation forests more than doubled between 1986 and 2011, while native forests shrunk by 13%, according to a new report by U.S. and Chilean academics. The country subsidized tree planting while its forestry sector boomed over that period.

Yet the environmental benefits are not as clear. Subsidies accelerated biodiversity losses in Chile as plantations often focus on one or two profitable tree species, the report said. While forest area expanded by more than 100% between 1986 and 2011, the carbon stored in vegetation increased by just 1.98% during that period.

“Our simulations indicate that plantation subsidies accelerated biodiversity losses in Chile by encouraging the expansion of plantations into more biodiverse forests,” researchers said in the paper published inNature Susainability on Monday. Chile’s case “provides several cautionary lessons,” according to Robert Heilmayr at the University of California Santa Barbara, Cristian Echeverria at Universidad de Concepcion in Chile and Eric F. Lambin at Stanford University.
This has happened time and time again:  Attempts to enlist the profit motives to achieve a public good generate profits, but little in the way of public good.

The title is taken from Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman's comment in the appendix that he authored for the report on the space shuttle Challenger destruction:
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Tweet of the Day


Am I the only one who thinks that "Cancel Culture" is being fomented by the right wing to sabotage movement on progressive issues?

25 June 2020

1½ Million for the 3rd Week in a Row


Not Good
Initial unemployment claims remained at 1.5 million, worse than had been predicted.

This is not a "V-Shaped" recovery:
The number of workers seeking jobless benefits has held steady at about 1.5 million each week so far in June, signaling a slow recovery for the U.S. economy as states face new infections that could impede hiring and consumer spending.

Applications for unemployment benefits were slightly below 1.5 million last week, at 1.48 million, the Labor Department reported Thursday. While weekly totals have gradually eased from a late March peak of nearly 7 million, they also remain well above the prepandemic record of 695,000 in 1982.

Meanwhile, the number of people receiving benefits, an indicator for overall layoffs, totaled 19.5 million in the week ended June 13, down slightly from previous weeks.

Economists say the sluggish improvements in claims tallies dim prospects for a quick recovery. Further, a recent increase in coronavirus cases could affect efforts to reopen the economy—and get people back to work and spending money.

Not a Good Look

Remember "Success Academy"?

It's an under-performing politically connected charter school that overpays its CEO (and former city council member) Eva Moskowitz.

It also turns out that, at least according to its now former spokesweasel, it's also racist and abusive as a matter of policy:
A spokesperson for New York City’s largest charter network resigned in protest, stating she can no longer defend Success Academy’s “racist and abusive practices” that are “detrimental to the emotional well being” of its students.

“I am resigning because I can no longer continue working for an organization that allows and rewards the systemic abuse of students, parents, and employees,” wrote Liz Baker, a Success spokesperson, in a resignation letter Tuesday.

“As the organization’s press associate, I no longer wish to defend Success Academy in response to any media inquiries,” she continued in the letter, which was obtained by Chalkbeat. “I do not believe that Success Academy has scholars’ best interests at heart, and I strongly believe that attending any Success Academy school is detrimental to the emotional wellbeing of children.”

The stunning resignation letter comes as the network has been besieged by complaints from employees, parents, and students about a culture that some argue is racist. Baker, who has worked at Success for about a year and four months, is one of the network’s most visible employees and was responsible for responding to reporters’ questions about the network.

………

Baker’s resignation is likely to draw further attention to turmoil at the network, which has boiled over in recent weeks. In largely anonymous social media posts, people connected to the network surfaced complaints about calling 911 on students with behavior problems, policing Black students’ hair by banning certain headwraps, and a culture where white educators are comfortable dressing down parents of color for minor issues like arriving late to pick up their children.

Half of the teachers and principals at Success are white, 27% are Black, 13% are Hispanic, and 5% are Asian. Meanwhile, 83% of the network’s roughly 18,000 students are Black or Hispanic and most come from low-income families.
Remember Success Academy is a charter school, which means that it is publicly funded, and Eva Moskowitz makes $890,000.00 a year with 17,000 students, as compared to the $345,000.00 received by New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, who serves 1,100,000 students.

Money well spent, huh?

We are F%$#ed

The Covid-19 pandemic is exploding again.

It's gotten so bad that wingnut Texas governor Greg Abbot is suspending the opening of the Texas economy.

This ain't the 2nd wave, this is still the first wave, and the 2nd wave is usually worse on an epidemic.

Moo


I really cannot add anything to this.  It exceeds my capability for mockery:
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) cannot sue Twitter for defamation over the contents of tweets posted by a parody account posing as Nunes' cow, a Virginia judge ruled Wednesday.

The ruling (PDF) from judge John Marshall found that Twitter is "immune from the defamation claims," as first reported by the Fresno Bee.

Nunes in 2019 filed a $250 million lawsuit against three Twitter accounts as well as the service itself alleging defamation, negligence, and conspiracy. One of the three accounts belongs to an identifiable person, Republican political strategist Liz Mair. The other two are clearly parody accounts: One, @DevinCow, posing as Devin Nunes' cow, and the other, @DevinNunesMom, posing as Nunes' mother.
Not The Onion.

Tweet of the Day


John Bolton is not your friend, and he has been a consistent force for evil his entire life.

Linkage


John Oliver finishes his ownership of corrupt coal baron Bob Murray's SLAPP suit:

24 June 2020

Welcome to the Brotherhood of Sh%$-Hole Nations

As a result of an abysmally managed pandemic response, it is looking increasingly likely that the EU is giving serious consideration to banning travelers from the United States.

This is some definition of, "Making America Great Again," that I was previously unaware of:
European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers reviewed by The New York Times.

That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country.

European nations are currently haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries are faring with the coronavirus pandemic. Both lists include China, as well as developing nations like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam. Both also exclude the United States and other countries that were deemed too risky because of the spread of the virus.
Welcome to the 3rd world, folks.

Payback is a Bitch

Remember when Florida required anyone coming there from New York to quarantine for 14 days?

Well now New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are requiring a 14 day quarantine for travelers from Florida, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

Oh to be a fly on the wall the meeting between Governors Cuomo, Murphy, and Lamont:
Hey, remember those hicks down south getting in our face?

It's Payback Time
(Disclaimer: This is not an actual dialogue.  It's the product of my imagination.)

I am amused.

46 Years of Anti-Union Politics Will Do That


This is an Embarrassment
The United States hasn't had a President who was not hostile to Organized labor since at least the Ford administration, so it is no surprise that America has been ranked as having the worst worker's rights environment among all the developed nations:
The U.S. has the worst record among major developed countries when it comes to workers’ rights, according to a survey of labor unions.

The world’s largest economy is ranked a 4 in a scale by the International Trade Union Congress, meaning there are “systematic violations of rights.” Every other Group of Seven country ranks 3 or better.
How about card check and repealing Taft-Hartley the next time the Democrats controll the White House, House of Representatives, and the Senate?

23 June 2020

Primaries Tonight

And while we do not have final results, there are way too many absentee and mail-in ballots for that, we do have some results.

Final results should be available in the next week or so:
As an FYI, AOC crushed her Republican until a few months ago Wall Street opponent.

Rule 1 of Mistreatment of Cop Stories: Cops Lie

Rule 2 is see rule 1.

Case in point is a police officer producing a false report of a tampon being put in his Starbucks Frappuccino.

It is, of course, false.  What is in the picture (you can click through, but it's kind of gross) is NOT a tampon, as evidenced by the intrepid reporter who tested a tampon in a Frappuccino.

How the f%$# to you list that on your resume?
Update: This story has been updated with comment from Target, which said it has "reviewed video footage and have not found any suspicious behavior."

Last night, America was seized with horror when Bill Melugin, a reporter for the local Fox affiliate in Los Angeles, tweeted an image of a tampon being pulled from a cup with the tip of a distinctive green straw.

An off-duty LAPD officer, according to Melugin, found the tampon in a blended coffee drink he'd purchased at a Starbucks inside a Target in Diamond Bar, and later filed a report with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

"This disgusting assault on a police officer was carried out by someone with hatred in their heart and who lacks human decency," the LAPD's union told Melugin.

………

The story, though, raised questions, and not just because of the long history of cops claiming to have been assaulted by fast-food workers, only for those claims to turn out to be nonsense. According to Melugin's reporting, the officer could only have been identified by their police credit union debit card. As anyone who's been in a Starbucks since the coronavirus pandemic began knows, though, cashiers don't handle debit cards. As the story goes, then, the cashier would have had to closely scrutinize the officer's card as they ran it through the machine and alert a barista to their identity; the barista, making the drink in plain sight, would have then have had to acquire a tampon and put it into the drink after it had been through a blender.

………

In order to see if the cop's story was even remotely plausible, Motherboard performed a science experiment. Aric Toler, a researcher at Bellingcat—an organization which analyzes open source media and has, for example, exposed the use of chemical weapons use in Syria by studying video and photographic evidence—suggested, in the interests of rigor, that we buy 10 Frappuccinos and 10 different types of tampons. Given the fact that we were biking and did not want to spend a fortune, we decided instead to try one Frappuccino and one tampon and see how that went.
You can click through for the details, but once again, we are seeing cops "Testilie."

Doing the Right Thing for the Basest of Reason


This is driven by bigotry and politics, with Covid-19 being used as a pretext, but it is the right thing to do.

The visas in question, H-1B, L-1A, etc. are intended to bring in people who with skills that are unavailable in the United States.

In reality, it's primarily about getting cheap foreign workers into the country, with foreign body shops like Infosys and Tata being the largest users of the program.

The tech companies are screaming that the sky is falling, but they will be able to get what they need, they will just need to pay a few bucks more an hour:

President Trump issued a proclamation Monday barring many categories of foreign workers and curbing immigration visas through the end of the year, moves the White House said will protect U.S. workers reeling from job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ban expands earlier restrictions, adding work visas that many companies use, especially in the technology sector, landscaping services and the forestry industry. It excludes agricultural laborers, health-care professionals supporting the pandemic response and food-service employees, along with some other temporary workers.

The restrictions will prevent foreign workers from filling 525,000 jobs, according to the administration’s estimates. The measures will apply only to applicants seeking to come to the United States, not workers who already are on U.S. soil.

“American workers compete against foreign nationals for jobs in every sector of our economy, including against millions of aliens who enter the United States to perform temporary work,” the proclamation states. “Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy. But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”
In fact, these problems have always posed a threat to American workers and American workers' wages.

The real goal of these programs has been to supply cheap tech labor since before I graduated from college. (I literally had someone in an unemployment office in 1982 tell me not to bother, because H-1B job postings were not a real job opening.)

I expect this to be reversed shortly after the election, but this moratorium will provide an opportunity to show that there is no real STEM shortage, and this is a good thing.

Pandemic Neurosis Strikes Yours Truly

What's more, I'm not alone I am one of roughly 50,000 people who have signed a petition to rename Columbus, Ohio, to "Flavortown," as an homage to celebrity chef Guy Fieri.

I am NOT a fan of Fieri's TV shows, but, you know, pandemic, bored, slowly going crazy, and he has been doing good work when he's not doing his job on TV, which appears to be portraying a bleach blond hedgehog:
A petition seeking to rename Columbus, Ohio, “Flavortown” to honor native Guy Fieri has attracted thousands of signatures.

“Columbus is an amazing city, but one whose name is tarnished by the very name itself. Its namesake, Christopher Columbus, is in The Bad Place because of all his raping, slave trading, and genocide. That's not exactly a proud legacy,” the petition states, referencing both a line from the NBC series “The Good Place” and passages in the explorer’s own diary describing atrocities committed on the island of Hispaniola.

“Why not rename the city Flavortown? The new name is twofold. For one, it honors Central Ohio's proud heritage as a culinary crossroads and one of the nation's largest test markets for the food industry,” it goes on to state. “Secondly, cheflebrity Guy Fieri was born in Columbus, so naming the city in honor of him (he's such a good dude, really) would be superior to its current nomenclature.”

"Even though it's my favorite city, I was always a bit ashamed of the name," Tyler Woodbridge, who started the petition, told CNN.

Woodbridge added that Fieri’s charitable work on behalf of restaurant workers, raising more than $20 million for those who lost work or wages during the coronavirus pandemic, made him a worthier namesake for the city.
Go, sign, and if you live in "Flavortown", talk to your elected officials.

Have You Heard of the Hostile Workplace?

I'm working from home 3 days a week right now, and I have an excessively affectionate workplace.

It's not Sharon* though, it's the cats.

Today, I could not go more than 15 minutes before Meatball (the little queen) jumping up on my lap, or Destructo (the BIG Tom) nuzzling my elbow in a quest for affection and attention.

I'm sure that I am not the only one who has experienced this.

It's surreal.

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

22 June 2020

Something Weird is Going On

The White House press corps(e) has just been kicked off the White House grounds, which is a very unusual development.

This is a highly unusual development. They didn't do this when Trump cowered in inspected the White House bunker 3 weeks ago.

I see a few possibilities:
  • Trump is cowering in inspecting the bunker again, and does not want the press to see.
  • He's having a physical health problem.
  • He is having some sort of mental breakdown, likely losing his sh%$ over his underwhelming Tulsa campaign rally.
Anyone wanna take bets on which is this?

Nope, No Racism Here


Whites Only
At the Ramsey jail in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the jail was specifically excluding black officers from having any contact with infamous murderer cop Derek Chauvin.

I really could not imagine them doing this for a non-cop, or for a black cop:
Staff members working at the jail that held Derek Chauvin, the white officer charged with murder in the killing of George Floyd, say that only white employees were allowed to guard him when he was first brought to the facility last month.

Eight officers have filed complaints with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, saying that the superintendent of the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul kept them from bringing Mr. Chauvin to his cell — or even being on the same floor as him — last month, solely because of their race.

The officers, half of whom are black and all of whom are people of color, said the orders from the superintendent, Steve Lydon, who is white, amounted to segregation and indicated that he thought they could not be trusted to do their jobs because they are not white.

After initially denying that officers’ contact with Mr. Chauvin had been determined by race, a spokesman for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office acknowledged the move this weekend and said Mr. Lydon had been temporarily removed from the superintendent role as the sheriff investigates the officers’ claims.

Roy Magnuson, the spokesman, provided a statement that he said Mr. Lydon gave to investigators. In it, Mr. Lydon said he had decided to keep nonwhite employees away from Mr. Chauvin because he believed having people of color interact with him could have “heightened ongoing trauma.” He said he had only done so on short notice and for 45 minutes before realizing that he had made a mistake, after which he reversed the order and apologized. Officers said it had lasted longer — affecting one shift two days later — and that not enough had been done in response.

The discrimination complaints, which were first reported by The Star Tribune, were the latest instance in which correctional officials have been accused of giving preferential treatment to a white inmate. Some activists have for years argued that officers were too kind to Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., when they placed him in a bulletproof vest and bought him food from Burger King. Critics said that a black suspect in a similar crime would not have gotten the same treatment.

In this case, one of the officers said in his complaint that he had seen, on the jail’s cameras, a white lieutenant let Mr. Chauvin use her phone inside his cell, a violation of the facility’s policy. Mr. Magnuson said the Sheriff’s Office was opening an internal investigation into that claim.
Gee, what a surprise, racist supervisors in a law enforcement agency.  Hoocoodanode?

Is Work from Home the New Normal?


If this is the new normal, it presages a major change in the workplace, at least the office workplace, though I have no clue as to what the end-state would be.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
New York City will allow companies to reopen their offices on Monday after a three-month lockdown from the pandemic. Few employees seem ready or willing to go back.

Most companies are taking a cautious approach. Some are keeping offices closed, while others are opening them at reduced occupancy and allowing employees to decide if they prefer to keep working from home. Mary Ann Tighe, chief executive for the tri-state region at real-estate services firm CBRE Group Inc., said many New York City clients don’t plan on being fully back in the office before Labor Day. And maybe only then if schools have reopened.

Companies are worried about another wave of infections, Ms. Tighe said. Some are also concerned about commuting bottlenecks, if more drivers lead to traffic jams or public transit limits the number of riders. Lower maximum occupancy in elevators could also lead to lines.

New York real-estate brokers and landlords say they anticipate only 10% to 20% of Manhattan’s office workers will return on Monday, though they expect that figure to increase gradually over the summer. Traders at financial-services companies are eager to return, these people say, but most of their other employees are staying away. Tech and creative companies are also taking their time.
Potentially, this could mean a number of things:
  • Reduced demand for office space.
  • Fewer positions in middle-management.
  • Reductions in traffic and commuting time.
  • Human Sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.
OK, maybe not that last one, but if the demand for office space in the center city drops long term by more than a few percent, it could be the genesis of another banking or real estate crisis.

McKinsey Being McKinsey

McKinsey and Company has a reputation as being an ethical consultant.

For the life of me, I do not know why.

We have seen it aiding corrupt politicians and businessmen steal from the taxpayers, and now they are managing bailouts to hospitals while instructing their hospital clients about how to game the system.

This is classic McKinsey.  Their job is not about ethics, or even good management, it is about placing an ethical gloss on self-dealing, corruption, and looting:
The global consulting firm McKinsey, which has been tapped by the Department of Health and Human Services to help manage and audit billions of dollars in coronavirus relief for hospitals, has worked for at least 10 hospitals and chains that have received federal recovery funds, according to tax records and other public disclosures.

McKinsey was hired to help manage the program and establish audit procedures for the funds, according to the contract award, which was granted in late April and is worth $4.9 million.

The majority of the $175 billion in funds had yet to be paid out to hospitals when McKinsey was hired, though McKinsey denied playing any role in deciding which hospitals received funds. Among those that have already received payments are at least 10 hospitals and chains that have in recent years retained McKinsey & Co.’s extensive health care business, which employs more than 1,700 consultants. The hospitals have paid as much as $20 million for McKinsey’s services in a single year as they seek to streamline costs and boost revenue, according to public disclosures.
By, "Streamline costs and boost revenue," they mean firing lots of people, price gouging, and reducing patient safety.

That's in addition to using their inside position in monitoring the fund to help their clients to get a jump in the line.

Maybe when we talk about jailing bankers, we should add their consultants to the list.

Slaughterhouses, AGAIN!


Not good
In Germany there has been a major Covid-19 outbreak at an abattoir, (I love the word, "Abattoir." I need to use it more often) with over a thousand cases linked to the meat processing plant.

This has taken the R-Number,  the infection rate of an epidemic, from about .75 to 2.88, meaning that infections are growing again, not shrinking: (Any number over 1 indicates an increase in the number of cases)
The owners of Europe’s largest meat-processing plant must be held to account for a mass coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 1,500 of its workers, Germany’s labour minister has said.

Hubertus Heil said an entire region had been “taken hostage” by the factory’s failure to protect its employees, most of whom come from Romania and Bulgaria.

Germany’s coronavirus reproduction or R rate leapt to 2.88 over the weekend largely as a result of the outbreak at the plant at Gütersloh in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). About 7,000 people have been sent into quarantine as a result of the outbreak, and schools and kindergartens in the region that had been gradually reopened have been forced to close until at least after the summer holidays.

Health authorities have accused Tönnies, the family-run business that owns the plant, of breaking regulations around physical distancing that were introduced to dampen the spread of coronavirus. Authorities say Tönnies has also been reluctant to give them access to workers’ contact details, allegedly hampering the tracking and tracing of the workers and their contacts. Tönnies said delays in handing over personnel data had been due to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

Clemens Tönnies, the company’s billionaire CEO, held a press briefing at the weekend at which he apologised for his company’s management of the crisis, and said it would take “full responsibility” for what had to be done to combat it. Within his own family there have also reportedly been attempts to oust him from his role. He has ruled out resigning.
Of course he has ruled out resigning.

This is exactly the same sort of apology as was given by Volkswagen executives.

Linkage


Here is one of the aforementioned condom anime: (Trippy)

21 June 2020

Support Your Local Police

It appears that the Columbus, Ohio police maced a non-violent protester and stole his prosthetic legs:



If policing is not broken, why have these guys not been fired yet?

Epic Ownage


John Oliver Explains
It appears that K-Pop fans may have sabotaged the attendance predictions for the Trump rally in Tulsa:
President Trump’s campaign promised huge crowds at his rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday, but it failed to deliver. Hundreds of teenage TikTok users and K-pop fans say they’re at least partially responsible.

Brad Parscale, the chairman of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, posted on Twitter on Monday that the campaign had fielded more than a million ticket requests, but reporters at the event noted the attendance was lower than expected. The campaign also canceled planned events outside the rally for an anticipated overflow crowd that did not materialize.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said protesters stopped supporters from entering the rally, held at the BOK Center, which has a 19,000-seat capacity.

But reporters present said there were few protests. According to a spokesman for the Tulsa Fire Department on Sunday, the fire marshal counted 6,200 scanned tickets of attendees. (That number would not include staff, media or those in box suites.)
Reports are that attendance after removing Trump's entourage are included in the total so the real number was even lower.
TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Mr. Trump’s campaign rally as a prank. After the Trump campaign’s official account @TeamTrump posted a tweet asking supporters to register for free tickets using their phones on June 11, K-pop fan accounts began sharing the information with followers, encouraging them to register for the rally — and then not show. 
Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was impressed:

Behold the power of K-Pop.

20 June 2020

A Huge Part of the Problem

One of the reasons that police have become a hyper-militarized occupying power is that police hiring increasingly draws from the military.

This means that rather than attempting to protect and serve, police increasingly attempt to, "Dominate the battlespace," which is antithetical to proper policing:
Calls for the demilitarization of police have gained new prominence in the light of the latest wave of anti-police brutality protests sweeping the United States. But in a country where one-fifth of the police force is ex-military — including George Floyd’s killer in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, and Robert McCabe, one of the two officers responsible for knocking down Martin Gugino, the seventy-five-year-old protester in Buffalo — demilitarization won’t come easy.

Many police officers are themselves former members of the military who picked up a career in policing after returning from war zones. But this isn’t the only problem. Loaded down with cast-off gear from the Pentagon — body armor, bayonets, automatic rifles, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and surveillance drones — police officers are more likely to regard peaceful protestors as enemy combatants, particularly when the Pentagon’s own top official refers to their protest scenes as “battlespace.”

But getting police officers out of the business of being an occupying military force —whether perpetually or in times of crisis — will also require much closer screening of job applicants who are veterans and elimination of their favored treatment in police department hiring.

………

Policing is the third most common occupation for men and women who served in the military. It is an option widely encouraged by career counselors and veterans’ organizations like the American Legion. As a result, several hundred thousand veterans are now wearing a badge of some sort. Though veterans comprise just 6 percent of the US population, veterans now working in law enforcement number 19 percent of the total force. Their disproportionate representation is due, in part, to preferential hiring requirements, mandated by state or federal law. In addition, under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice provided local police departments with tens of millions of dollars to fund veterans-only positions.

As noted by the Marshall Project in its 2017 report, “When Warriors Put On the Badge,” this combination of hiring preferences and special funding has made it harder to “build police forces that resemble and understand diverse communities.” The beneficiaries have been disproportionately white, because 60 percent of all enlisted men and women are not people of color.

………

Tougher to tackle is the issue of ex-military personnel being over-represented in the ranks of domestic law enforcers. When you leave the service, says Danny Sjursen, a West Point graduate who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, “there’s no de-programming…They just load you up on meds and then you go straight to the police academy.” According to Sjursen, “military-style of policing is based on notion that high-crime areas should be treated like occupied countries.” So the “military-to-police pipeline” increases the chances “that a guy comes back to Baltimore, Camden, or Detroit and functions the same way we did when occupying Kabul or Baghdad.”